Monday, April 30, 2007

I Lied!

In my last post, if you recall, I said I was going to retire for the night because since my son hadn't appeared by that time tonight, he evidently wasn't going to stop by at all this evening -er, this morning as it is now.
Well, about two minutes after I put that post up, this vehicle pulls up in front of the house, backs in and I know by the tail lights I can see through the living room window that it is Clate, come to call on me at what time? Yeah, about 1 a.m. I think it was then.
Seeing him pull up at this hour of the night usually means he has been "out and about" -doing some things he's been doing a lot more than his sister and I like to see him doing too, of late. He's been doing a lot of running around when he is home between runs, drinking a lot more than he really should be doing which is why his sister and I have been getting really upset with him for the past several months now.
I don't want to see him get arrested and end up with a DUI which would end his truck driving career before he even gets it going for openers. I also don't want to see him get into trouble beyond that by being involved in any accidents whether it just be smallish ones with damage to the vehicle or possible much more serious accidents involving other people who are hurt, maimed even killed or that he manages to get seriously injured or even killed too.
Having gone through this type of situation between 1973 and 1980 with my ex-husband, I can feel the tensions building within me and the worry and anxiety setting in. I know too from what I learned through Al-Anon thirty years ago now that I can't force my son to stop doing these things; that he has to reach that conclusion on his own and turn himself around. But boy, it is such a difficult path to walk down - not just for him but for me, for Mandy - for all of us here who love him dearly and care so much about him and his welfare.
We talked tonight for about two hours -or almost that long - some of it was pertaining to his drinking, yes. Whether he will take any steps towards correction of his issues, that I don't know. I can only hope and pray that he will see the light and act upon it appropriately. Right now, he sees the light but doesn't care to walk in that path and is in denial of how serious this situation can become and how rapidly it can also waltz in on a person and almost in the blink of an eye, overtake their life.
But that aspect isn't what I'm posting about -not really. Rather it is about a discussion we got into tonight about something else that is a major sore subject in the family. Education.
We have issues with the stepgranddaughter whose grades are not very good in math and in science. Right now, she is on the verge of failing both subjects this year. She managed, when put under a lot of pressure from the school to get both subjects up slightly so she could continue to participate in the school's drama club and to perform a very important role in the school play back in March. She also signed up to participate in the junior softball team too but was told on Friday of this past week she would not be allowed to play in their scheduled game yesterday (Saturday) because she was failing math now. Since she couldn't play in the game on Saturday, she hurried up and made arrangements to go spend the weekend with her mother and not even to attend the game yesterday with the team.
I don't think she realizes the consequences yet for having made that move - Mandy just found out today (Sunday) after talking to our neighbor, who is a teacher at the school, that if a kid is on a particular team sport and even if they are not allowed to play due to poor grades, if they don't attend the team function at all to cheer the team on, they will automatically then be booted off the team.
This kid has a history of signing up for various extra-curricular activities and then, once she finds out she has to move a muscle occasionally, or do a little bit more in the academic line than she cares to put out, she pulls away from the activity - and also from the grade/study aspects too. So far in the past three years, she has wanted to be a cheerleader and tried out for that not once, but twice but did poorly because she didn't put forth the effort, to go the little extra in the exercise department to have a good "show" in the tryouts plus, she also learned to be a cheerleader required maintaining a certain grade level too and that meant she would have to do dreadful things - like reading textbooks from time to time, completing homework and gee yes, studying too, of all the ridiculous requirements!
She insisted too that she wanted to participate in basketball one year, another year it was soccer but as soon as Mandy went and scraped together the money for necessary uniforms and gear, etc., she decided within usually a week or two then that she really didn't like basketball or soccer, etc. You get the picture there by now, I'm sure.
Her latest notion is that she insists she is going to go to college and that she is also going to go to the University of Arizona or Arizona State University - not sure exactly which one - but one of those two anyway. And, trying to explain to her that to attend a university that far from home, with out-of-state tuition rates doubling the cost of college, just from the economic factors alone, this is not a viable game plan. Plus, the fact she persistently ignores the rules of the game being to be accepted at a college - even a small school at the junior college level - one still has to have at least passed certain required courses and the higher in prestige the school, the more demanding their requirements to be accepted to attend there. But what the hell do I know anyway? In her eyes, this old broad just doesnt know what she is talking about at all and she will be able to just drift through high school and based on whatever, I sure don't know what, she will have this college just clamoring to accept her to attend there. Uh, think again, sweetheart!
This is where my son and I clashed tonight - locked horns you could say. He was not the best student in the history of our school district - not by a long shot. Not because he couldn't learn, but because if he didn't like a subject, saw no earthly need for it (in his opinion), he wouldn't even do the bare minimal amount of work to pass it. Because he failed general mathematics courses - all three that were needed for him to get his diploma, he was not allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony and they withheld his diploma until he showed the school that he had taken make-up courses and passed them. And, if he hadn't tried to get into the Army and been told by the recruiter he HAD TO HAVE his high school diploma, he probably never would have taken those three courses he needed. Which he did do and he passed with very little difficulty then too but he had to have a personal motive, an incentive, then to deal with what he thought for several years was an unnecessary entity in life.
Now, we got into a discussion about how colleges require that a student MUST take x-number of credits in various areas of study. Penn State, for example, requires all students MUST have at least a set amount (I think it is 60) credits in what they call the "Gen-Ed" credits: which means all students have to have at least 6 math credits, 9 in the natural sciences; 4 in the health/phys ed; 6 in courses dealing with history, 6 in humanities and you have to take a Speech communications course, at least two English/writing classes, 6 credits in the Arts. Maybe it is only 46 credits, I just don't remember exactly now. But my son's argument here is that why should people HAVE to take courses in which they have no interest, which -in his opinion - have no bearing at all on the courses that person is interested in, which really ARE NECESSARY to do whatever it is that the person has for a career goal.
And my response to him - although I do understand what he means there (I never liked math or science at all either) -in part, the idea is to assure that the graduate has a "rounded" education and has some concepts in these various areas and also, because it is necessary to learn that in life, regardless of one's occupation, there is always going to be some aspect to any job that one doesn't like but you still have to do it and perform half-way decently at it too. And, to take on subjects you don't like, which may be more difficult than others - and survive -it gives you more of the aspect of being responsible and able to persevere in life in general.
Let me put this question out here then to those of you reading this post - what classes did you take in high school or college which you felt were totally useless, and did you just scrap and skate by in them or did you try to get a reasonable grade to get it over and done with? And why do you think this is a requirement of colleges for students to take these various classes that the student may believe will never be used in a career of that person's choice?
The floor is wide open here - both in respect to answer my son's questions as well as perhaps tossing out some advice that could be applied to the stepgranddaughter to perhaps help to open her eyes as to the foolhardiness of her attitude about school, education, coursework, etc.
So let's hear your thoughts now!

Family Time

This morning, my son-in-law left with a pal of his to go pick up a motor -or some such automotive item. The stepgranddaughter has been at her mother's place for the weekend and the two middle stepgrandhildren, who were supposed to be here today, ended up spending the entire weekend with their mother.
That left Mandy, the two little ones and me to do whatever struck our fancy today so we decided since the older daughter had invited us down to her house for dinner, to take her up on the offer.
It was, I must say, a very good meal she had prepared too - roast beef surrounded by chunks of potatoes and carrots in a nice gravy. Very well cooked, very tasty meal! Thanks again, Carrie for all your hard work.
My older grandson was with his mother (my older daughter) today so that made the visit doubly enjoyable as we don't get that many opportunities to see Alex since it is roughly close to an hour's drive to their place. He's such a gem! This evening, before we left, his Mom made him get out his trumpet and do his daily practice, figuring since Aunt Mandy and Grammy J were there, it would give us an opportunity too in which to observe how well he is doing with his lessons and practice. Sure, he's got a long way to go before he'll be soloist material but it is more than obvious how much effort he is putting into learning the ins and outs and what not to playing a trumpet. The first song of his repertoire got little Maya's attention immediately since it was the melody to one of the nursery rhymes she knows AND sings too! She went running out to the dining room and stood as close to Alex as she could, just watching him so rapt up in his playing a song she knew. Even began to sing the words (Twinkle, Twinkle) when he was almost through with his rendition.
Carrie and her fiance, Robert, have quite a menagerie at their house - four dogs (two are purebred cocker spanials - Jed and Emma; one is a purebred Golden Retriever - Cedar; and the fourth, still basically a puppie is my absolute favorite though - Ollie. Ollie is a mixed breed, black and white, chubby pretty little thing who just loves being around people.) In addition to the four dogs, they have a cat, Anna - that they allowed Alex to "adopt" last summer and who is supposed to be an "outdoor" cat but since she gave birth about four weeks ago to a litter of four kittens, all females no less, she is a "garage" cat now as they moved her inside shortly before the kittens arrived. The other cat they have is kind of our "family" cat as she was my son, Clayton's cat before he took this job driving tractor trailer. Since he is often away from his house for four-five days at a clip, there was no way he could keep the cat (Zoey) and his beloved Shepherd/Akita mix, Andrei, so Carrie and Robert adopted both of those animals. And, if you've been reading along in my blog over the past 4-5 months, you may remember that Andrei tragically died only two days after Carrie and Robert had adopted him.
Maya has a field day at Carrie and Robert's though with all the dogs and cats. Just loves them to pieces. Ollie, the puppy, is probably her favorite of all the dogs too but that is most likely because frequently when Carrie and Robert come up home for a day or for the evening, they like to bring Ollie along and Maya just loves to rip and tear around the house with her.
We took Maya's "big wheel" tricycle type bike along with us today since Carrie and Robert's driveway is paved, figuring she would enjoy riding her bike on that surface and be able to be outdoors. She isn't outside to play here very often because at her age, you can't just turn her loose to play out in the yard - it's not enclosed or gated or anything and she pays no attention to what instructions one might try to give her and has to have someone with her, paying close attention at all times to whatever she might be getting into.
She did enjoy riding the bike on the paved surface - for sure but she also discovered something else too. Part of their driveway slopes downhill and intersects then with the road in front of their house. Granted it's a country road and not heavily trafficked but it gets its fair share of vehicles going back and forth. Well, Maya soon realized if she rode the trike on that part of the drive, it would give the little bike a good bit of speed. Yes, we have a three-year-old with no fear and a lead foot apparently on the pedals! They had to curtail her bike riding because she was determined she was going to ride it down the drive as fast as she could go and none of the grown-ups would have been able to keep up with her to stop her from flying right out into the highway!
I know I have mentioned before that Maya has had a speech therapist working with her for close to two years now, along with a behavior/play therapist too. I've also stated before that although she has not yet had a full evaluation to determine if she is autistic or not, she has many markers that lead us to believe the diagnosis will end up being autism. One of the traits I've been told and read about pertaining to autism is that those children frequently "echo" what has been said to them. And boy, after dinner today, that really became quite evident too. Maya was not in an "eating" mood apparently because the only thing on her plate she paid any attention to at all was the ketchup Mandy had put there for her to dip her potatoes and meat into - using it as an enticement to try to get her to eat her dinner you know.
And, apparently several of us must have repeated the phrase "Try it, you try it." to her quite a few times because after dinner, while she was playing around in the living room, all of a sudden she just started saying "Try it. You try it." in response to just about any question we put to her! Apparently, that was the "phrase du jour" for Maya!
It was more than obvious how hard she had played today too when she was out like a light within five minutes after we left Carrie and Robert's house. And, when we got home and her Daddy came out to get her out of the car, she came in with no fussing, quickly -and fairly quietly too - allowed Mandy to get her ready for bed and by 9:30, she was upstairs, in her bed and all has been quiet on that front ever since! Ah, PEACE!
And now, I'm about ready to call it a day too. Since Clate is got home from his latest run late this afternoon but hasn't shown up down here this evening, I'm assuming he is off making his rounds, probably over in Clearfield and we won't see him till in the morning some time when he'll show up here to have coffee with me and recap a bit about his trip and other things in his life. So I'll close this with the Bushism for the day for Monday, April 30, 2007.

"The woman who knew that I had dyslexia --I never interviewed her." - Orange, California; September 15, 2000.

Hmmm - Dyslexia? Never heard that one about him before, did you?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stiff Knees, Swollen Ankles!

Yep, that's what I have tonight - a couple of knees with a whole lot of stiffness in them and an ankle that puffed out pretty good after some rare usage I put the old legs through today.
This morning, I was up bright and early - a really rare thing for me to be up by 7 a.m., unless it's that I haven't yet gone to bed -which is more likely the cause for me to be awake at that hour.
But today, not only was I up by 7 a.m. but I was showered, dressed and out of the house too before 9 a.m. and that is really a shocker to my system.
The reason for my early hours was that I was to meet up with a group of other folks who are interested in the history of the ghost town nearby where I live and who ever showed up, we were all going to go spend the morning tramping around in the woods, down in Peale - the ghost coal mining town featured in the website shown on my blog under the listing of my "favorite" places I like to visit online.
The leader/organizer of this expedition was Jeff Feldmeier from Allen Park, Michigan. Jeff's grandparents both came from this village where I live and he still has a good many cousins who live in this area. Add to that, he has such an interest -more like a "love" of this area and its history that although he grew up in Michigan, I'm betting he probably knows more about this area's history than do most of us who were born and raised in these old hills.
There were nine of us who ventured out today and though at a couple times in our trekking around, it did get a bit misty, at least it wasn't more than that.
Our first stop was to walk back in from the dirt road, along a logging path, in search of the Peale cemetery. My two younger kids and I had tried to locate the cemetery about 8-9 years ago to no avail. Although a friend of my son's who is a big hunter and knows the woods around here very well told me later that we were probably just a stone's throw away from the cemetery but it is very difficult to see it. The reason being - there is only one marker left there - the rest having been destroyed over the years by either vandalism or also, from forest fires since many of the old-time markers were made of wood.
I had a personal interest in wanting to find this cemetery though as my great-great-grandfather Till is buried there. He died in Peale in 1889 if my memory of the dates from my family tree records is correct. However, with no cemetery records available as to who is buried there, no markers to show exactly where the graves are save but the one for a lady by name of Martha Renfrew, it's just a means of being able to say that I did visit his grave, just didn't know exactly where it is located.
From the cemetery, we went up to the area that at one time was the village park - complete with a brick-lined swimming pool too in its hey-day! That area is pretty well overgrown now and though there is a big pond there that we're guessing is what now remains of the old pool, I couldn't see any of the bricks that used to be visible. I don't remember it ever being full of water either years back when I had last ventured up to that area of the old village.
I remembered to take a camera along with me today and got pictures down at the cemetery, up at the park and of the ruins of the last house that was being used as a camp but burned completely to the ground last October. It was really a beautiful big old house and why someone would get enjoyment, pleasure, from seeing a slice of the area's history going up in flames and smoke is beyond me. If you take a look through the Peale website posted under my blog favorites, you can see what this old house looked like until last fall.
Before I left the others in the group - had to get back home as Mandy had to be at work by 1 p.m. this afternoon - we managed to find what appears to be the remains of the foundation that was once the Peale Company Store - a place that back in the 1880's and 1890's served ALL the needs of the townspeople.
I'm really glad I had to curtail my walk around old Peale though because by 1:30 this afternoon, my legs and back were telling me that exercise maybe a good thing but my system is not very accustomed to much of it and it was protesting greatly! A two-hour nap this afternoon then was the prescription for curing those woes for me.
But, when I got up after having given my legs and back some relief and relaxation, I think the walking along with lots and lots of fresh air was really a good thing after all.
As soon as I get that roll of film developed - and hopefully at least a couple of the pictures I took will turn out ok - I'll post what I can on this blog for all to see how pretty the forests and hills of central Pennsylvania really can be, even on a grey, misty late-April day.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Not-So-Happy Valley

Readers of my blog, if they've checked out my "profile" (and I don't mean the photo one), know I am an alum of Penn State University and refer to myself as being a "Nittany Lioness." Long before I attended the university, I was a huge fan of Penn State football - as well as of the university in general.

I always, as long as I can remember Joe Paterno as being associated with Penn State held him up in high esteem as a very good coach of the sport of football but also, because I always believed he is a great individual in his efforts at producing a knowledgeable team - one which the players deserved the degree conferred on them after their time spent studying and playing "For the Glory."

For the past month (almost that) there has been a lot of publicity around the State College area about a brawl in which it was reported several members of the Penn State football team were not just involved but believed to have been the instigators of this fight. Yesterday, six members of the team were arraigned on charges stemming back to this incident.

In reading various articles in today's issue of the Centre Daily Times (CDT) this morning, it is a sad day indeed to read about these young men and the events that led up to these charges. If the young man who is accused of being the ringleader of this melee had felt his honor and dignity along with that of his female companion was so compromised, why didn't he stop it all right there by contacting the police and bringing charges against those who had accosted him?

Instead, he apparently put out his own form of an All-Points-Bulletin to his friends and teammates who then crashed and trashed an apartment, beating several individuals in the apartment too.

Mob rule? Sure does sound like that is what was taking place there.

Some comments I read about this chain of events include one, apparently from a Penn Stater who seems to think this is just something that should all be swept under the rug as being simply a "boys will be boys" type of episode in the lives of these young men. In essence, that writer seems to feel because of their status as Penn State football players, they are or should be, revered and allowed to do as they wish no matter who or what gets hurt, damaged, in their way.

Sorry folks, but I don't see it quite that way.

If anything, being a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team - or any team for that matter affiliated with this university - should be regarded as a position in which those individuals should not be placed by others as above the law but should put themselves as being people of honor who uphold the law and who will go to great lengths to do just that too.

Too often, those who become celebrities because of their physical prowess, because of the team's status as a TOP TEN university team, because they are often regarded then as "elite" by many fans, the media, the university and yes, maybe even the coaches at times too, they begin to believe that they are mini-gods and can and should be allowed to do whatever they wish, regardless of the consequences to the Team, the university, to bystanders, whether they be innocent bystanders or not.

I'm tired of seeing, reading about athletes - whether they be at the college level or on professional teams - and also many others who are regarded as super-stars, celebrities on stage, screen, television, the music world, etc., - having this misguided opinion of their actions and using that status then to work out little deals with the legalities that the regular, Joe-average, person would be slammed to the ground if they did the same things.

I'm sorry, but each of these individuals gets dressed the same way as the rest of us - one pant leg at a time, so to speak and status, in whatever realm, should not be taken as a means to run rough-shod over other's rights in the process.

Over the years, an event held every July in State College - the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts - has become a time regarded by many - current students and alum - as an excuse to "party-hearty" and see how much destruction can be wreaked on the community. And this has been viewed all too often by those who participate in that manner as a "rite of passage."

How does destroying others property make for an enjoyable event is one question I have for those who seem to take such pride in just that type of partying? If the tables were turned and property owners -be they business or residential - were to go to wherever these people who like to come and trash the town live and invaded their home space, breaking up their homes, would they feel violated or would they regard that too as "oh, it's just a rite of passage?"

At some point in time each of us must take responsibility for our actions. And, for those who accept the role of student athlete especially, as soon as you sign that paper, put on that uniform, wear the blue and white, you should realize there is an added responsibility that goes with that honor and that is to uphold the laws of the university and the community to the fullest. With that status of being a member of the university, yes, it does require a lot more attention to demeanor and the importance of being a leader, an upstanding member of the community and not one who is prone to using that status in the ways many have chosen to do over a long time now.

Straighten up and fly right and if those standards are too stringent for you to follow, then take your talents to some other school that will allow the type of behavior that seems to permeate too many of these individuals of late.

"WE ARE" should always be a cheer that means as an individual or as a group, is something of pride and strength from learning ways to better our society, not a means to join forces and drag it down in the process.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weekend Witticisms

Here they are - the Bushisms for today - April 27 and for Saturday and Sunday -April 28th and 29th too!

Friday - April 27, 2007
"I want to appreciate those of you who wear our nation's uniform for your sacrifice." - Jacksonville, Florida; January 14, 2005

and

for April 28th and 29th, 2007
"In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible--whatever that means." - On the president's time frame for shoring up Social Security; Washington, D.C.; March 16, 2005.

And, there you have it! Words of wisdom to guide you through the weekend until Monday.


MOI? A Thinker?

Wow! I'm flattered today, really very flattered. My favorite law student, Shelby Dupree thinks I'm a thinker and, as such, has even given me an award for it today. Check it out there, folks - off to the right side of my blog and you'll see the nifty little icon that says I'm a recipient of this award.

Imagine this if you will - or if you can - I am virtually speechless! Ok, I'm semi-recovering from the shock of this event and will try here to follow through and point you, in turn, to blogs I read that make me think - and maybe even explain "why" they do that for me too.

1. This blog ALWAYS makes me think! It often makes me laugh too he takes various issues, sometimes even really serious ones, and picks at them. It used to be titled "Letters I Wish I'd Written" but now Bob calls it An Odder Point of View. Either way, Bob writes a great blog, gives a different perspective to lots and lots of things. Check it out if you don't believe me. And, if you do follow my directive here, be sure to go beyond his current postings too and dip into his archives and see how many things he expounds on that you've most likely felt the same way about them at one time or another.

2. This blog belongs to one of the members of the Writer's Life group I belong to and the author is really a new, up and coming author now, having just had her first book published this month! Sandy's posts are often about her hectic life, getting her book published and now, the work involved in marketing it. But she also posts the "Word for the Day" in which she takes a word, often one from the "olde" English that shows up in her book and asks her readers to give an example of how to use this word in a sentence. It's a fun little game she has going there and one that some days will really leave the best wordsmith stumbling around, looking for a sentence in which to use her selected word of the day. While you're there, check out how to get a copy of Sandy's great new book too - Choices Meant For Gods - a great piece of fantasy fiction you can't help but enjoy!

3. My friend, Vic Grace, way, way up in British Columbia has a terrific blog full of information about not just her life out in the wilderness, but also her posts in which she will often research a topic on her mind and then, presents it in a fashion that makes it much more easily comprehended - religion, politics, wildlife, among other things - often appear in her writings and always gives one pause to sit and think.

4. From coaching a baseball team, to fighting fires and such in California, as well as being a talented cartoon artist, Gene Bach gives a very gentle touch to his approach to life -trials and triumphs - and intersperses much of his postings with good humor too. Listen to him explain and even show in glowing color too, some of his teaching methods for the baseball team he coaches (Never let 'em see you cry, Gene) or his stories about some of the situations he's encountered as a fire fighter to events in his life with his wife and daughters, Gene can put things across in a manner that you can not just relate to but understand and enjoy reading his point of view.

5. The last one I am putting in here today for a thinking award makes me think in terms of the absolutely absurd and funny side of a lot of things. DO NOT read his blog while eating or drinking ANYTHING or it can cause damage to your monitor or keyboard from spitting whatever you may have in your mouth or worse, you could find yourself choking from swallowing incorrectly too. This produce manager does put things in a way different light at times, for sure. But he also has a feature he does every Sunday in which he posts photos and information about various constellations in our sky that is a really terrific way to learn about astronomy, even if his title for these posts (Up Uranus) is a bit misleading, it's definitely very much a worth while read and educational. His humor often is a lot of double entendre, absurd, a bit off-color too at times, but even with that, he can lift the spirits with a good belly-buster laugh or just a little giggle and gives a reason to think about silly things that often we need to have along with the serious thinking of life.

Now, I need to tell you a bit about the "thinking blog" award and its origins. You need to go here to learn how this blogger came up with this "thinking blog" award. And reference this blog too in your post about the thinking blog label bestowed on you by me!

Truthfully, I would have liked to have put this award on ALL the blogs on my favorite blogs listings because each one of them makes me think but not all make me think in the same manner. Some do it with utmost seriousness, others with empathy, and yes, a few make me think that because of their humor, I can laugh and see things, think of things, in a completely different light perhaps for the rest of my day.

But perhaps sometime in the near future, I'll award the "thinking blog" award to another select five bloggers, wait a while, then give this prize to a few more and that way, eventually, work my way down my "favorites" list so each one gets an award for the way he or she made me think just for today or perhaps every day.

Enjoy. Now I need to go think about what to fix for supper and really think too about keeping myself motivated with my local history research stuff so I can someday soon, get it all finished and actually start writing about it!

Now that's going to require a whole lot of thinking!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Learning Things

We all know that old adage that "You learn something new every day," and when you have a three-year-old loose in the house, that really becomes an absolute truth. Some times you learn things you knew before and find yourself re-learning them because you didn't have to use that knowledge for a long, long time. Other times, you learn right along with the three-year-old too what things are now called - in her book.

One thing Maya has learned fairly recently, is the expression "Oh, my gosh!" When she picked this one up, we're not sure because sometimes she says things and they may be said when she is playing with her toys and talking to them so we don't always pay particular attention to some things she says right then. But now, she has a tendency to knock on the bathroom door for instance, when someone is in there and whether she gets an answer or not, you can often hear her say "Oh, my gosh!"

Last night though, she was running from the kitchen to the living room and apparently those clumsy genes (acquired from dear old Gram here) kicked into gear as she tripped over her own two feet, started to fall, went down on one knee and just as quickly, picked herself up, did a little brush-off and said "Oh, my gosh!" And, she went right back to her running again.

Last week, one day when Mandy had to leave the house early in the morning, before Maya's normal "rise and shine" time, when I went upstairs to get her up and bring her downstairs, she greeted me in a way that is unusual for her. Normally, when you go in to get her out of her bed, she's awake, happy, smiling, plays a little peek-a-boo with her quilt but then, pops up, gathering her special blanket (Mr. Blanky), grabs the bink and pops it in her mouth and is reaching up for you to get her out of there.

However, last week, when I went in her room, she pulled the blanket over her head and started saying something, over and over, that sounded like she was saying "Berback, berback!" And the tone of voice, was that one she gets when she is about to start crying and could very easily go into a bit of a meltdown phase. So I had cajoled her that morning into getting up and she was then ok, but I forgot about what she had said. I hadn't been able to figure it out at all at the time and much later, when I mentioned it to Mandy, she couldn't figure out either what it might have been she was trying to tell me.

Last night, I found out what she meant!

Mandy had both kids in the tub, giving them a bath together and was ready to take the baby out of the tub. She asked Maya did she want to get out then and let Gram dry her off and Maya's response to her mother was "Berback, berback!" Hearing that, Mandy had said, ok, in a bit and left it at that. I told Mandy then too that was what Maya had said to me last week when I went to get her out of bed but I didn't know what she was saying then. Mandy interpreted it for me last night though: "Be right back, be right back!" Meaning I'm not ready right now so come back in a minute or two or so.

Today, I learned something else new and this didn't come from Maya though.

I received an e-mail this morning from a young woman in Sweden with whom I have been e-mailing back and forth for probably almost 8 years now. She does geneology work in Sweden and has helped me immeasurably to trace a lot of my Swedish ancestry - at least on my maternal grandfather's side of the family.

In this e-mail, Anneli said that she will be coming to America this coming Saturday for a "Geneology Tour" along with four other people from Sweden. And, while they are here -until May 14th - they will be traveling from New York City to Minnesota, from Minnesota to Rock Island, Illinois and from Rock Island, Illinois, they will go to Jamestown, New York. And after their seminar in Jamestown, they will end up HERE - in Clearfield - which is about 23-24 miles from where I live!

Needless to say, I am really excited about this upcoming visit and looking forward very much to meeting her and learning a bit more about my Swedish roots in the process. Isn't that just fantastic though?

And, now - that time has come too - time for you to learn along with me the Bushism for the day - this one is for Thursday, April 26, 2007.

"As a matter of fact, I know relations between our governments is good." - On U.S.-South Korean relations; Washington, D.C.; November 8, 2005.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Wanderer

On Sunday, I posted the article about my aunt, her life and that some of her friends and family had gathered that day to help her celebrate her 90th birthday. What I didn't tell you was some of the things that happened to me that day.

Because Mandy had to work, there was no way I could go over to the nursing home and take both the little ones with me. I just don't have the physical strength to do that any more. But I decided since Mandy's husband was going to be home, I'd take Miss Maya with me. She's gone over to the home with me in the past and I'd never had a problem with her. Plus, my cousin and his wife who had organized the get-together had only ever seen Maya once before and their daughter, her husband and baby were coming up for the afternoon and I figured it would be nice for them to get to know Maya a trifle.

Unfortunately, Maya decided as soon as I had the van parked and shut the engine off that being a sweet little girl, such as she can be most of the time, wasn't in the hand she had in mind to deal me that day.

I no sooner shut the engine off when she commenced to fussing. Not the normal kind of whining fussing most kids that age will do but Maya's kind which is a lot louder - sometimes kind of like a banshee shrieking when she is going into one of her infamous "meltdowns."

I started to talk to her calmly, telling her everything was fine, nothing to be afraid of and we had to go inside and give Aunt Mike her b-day card, have cake and ice cream and of course, we had to sing "Happy Birthday" to Aunt Mike too. I reminded her we had been singing "Happy Birthday" in the van on the drive over so that she would be in good singing voice, remember all the words, etc. and after about five minutes, she did calm down and got out of her car seat. We walked across the parking lot, along the sidewalk so nicely and she was as pleasant as she could be.

But as soon as we passed through the double doors and set foot into the lobby, she sprung a sneak "meltdown" attack on me. Screaming, shrieking, crying, sobbing, sitting on the floor, rolling on the floor in her wild attempts to keep me from picking her up.

As I was working, trying to get her to listen to me, to calm down, etc., several people who were attending my aunt's birthday party came through, saw me struggling with Maya and I tried, briefly, to explain to each of those who don't know her that she has "issues" and apparently, the last time we were over to visit at the home, shortly after they moved my aunt and cousin to the second floor, she had wigged out on Mandy and I that day too. But we attributed that to the fact that we had to take the elevator to get up to the second floor and we'd both forgotten that elevators sometimes scare the living daylights out of Maya. And, apparently when she and I walked into the lobby on Sunday, she remembered that last visit and the elevator.

It took me well over a half-hour before I could get her quieted down and calm enough that she would allow me to carry her back to the room where the gathering was being held. Once inside that room though, she whimpered a little bit but then indicated she wanted down. I put her down and she proceeded to roam around the room, from table to table, visiting with all these people there. So, you know she isn't "strange" and afraid of people anyway. Not in the least.

She walked up to Aunt Mike with me, let Aunt Mike hug her briefly and even managed to repeat after me "Happy Birthday Aunt Mike." And she didn't back away from Jane Ann, Aunt Mike's daughter, who sometimes in her zeal and excitement around little children, occasionally grabs them by the hair to get them closer to her. But Jane was on her good behavior on Sunday and didn't do that to Maya.

I stood and talked to my cousin Mike for a little while and Maya explored the room some more, discovering the birthday cake in the process. Mike laughed as he watched her staring longingly at the cake and remarked about how cute that was the way she was looking it all over. I told him yeah, but be very careful too because she has very fast fingers and LOVES to take her index finger and slick it across icing since it is one of her favorite food components! And sure enough, she was just ready to clip one of the big icing flowers on the cake when Mike caught her in the nick of time. She didn't get all worked up and upset with him as he handled her very calmly and quietly, and told her that as soon as he and his wife Bea cut the cake, he would see to it that she got that very piece with the big beautiful pink rose on it.

Maya watched, fascinated, as Mike and Bea cut the cake. Instead of putting 90 candles on it -which would have really ruined the cake, ya know, they had two candles - a "9" and a "0" -to indicate 90 years and Maya's eyes focused long and hard on those candles and all of a sudden she looks at me and pointing at the cake, says to me "Ninety?" Mike and Bea heard her and both were really amazed that she could identify that number. You betcha she can - she can count to well up in the 100's and even can count backwards too! Pretty doggone good for a 3-year-old, I think.

When the group sang "Happy Birthday" to Aunt Mike, Maya even joined in the singing too. I gave her the card for Aunt Mike and told her to go give it to her, but when she got up beside Aunt Mike's wheel chair, she couldn't get her attention, so she turned around to Jane Ann, Aunt Mike's daughter, and gave her the card. Fortunately, my cousin Mike's wife saw that and she got the card from Jane before she had a chance to rip it up.

When it came time to leave, Maya was having such a good time exploring the room, taking napkins and offering to wipe the windows in the room -or "clean" them, that I was afraid at first she was going to throw a bit of hissy then about leaving but I managed to bribe her to leave by telling her we could go "Walmar" (one of her favorite things is to go to Walmart) and she left quietly with me then. Fortunately, she isn't familiar yet with landmarks along the highway that goes past Walmart or she might have pitched a fit with me for not taking her up there as I had said we might do.

I'd also told her maybe on the way home we could stop at Jim and Charmaine's - the little restaurant on the edge of the town where we live. And, as I was booking down Rte 53, I zipped past J/C's and went to make the turn on the road into town when she realized we had just passed Jim/Charmaine's and she started to cry "Wan' see Charmaine. Wan' see Charmaine!" And, I knew that if I didn't stop and take her in there it would be a battle royal to get her out of the van and into the house when we did get home.

So, in we went! Fortunately, Charmaine and her sister, Jeanne, both are really very good to Maya and love to watch some of her antics. I think sometimes too they both love to see what Maya will do to try to get my goat as well just to see me sweat ya know. But anyway, I got a cup of coffee and Maya insisted she had to have a pepsi, so a pepsi it was. She was pretty good, sitting quietly for quite a while, sipping on her pepsi before the old urge to explore the place took hold on her as it usually does.

She has to go check out all the video games in the dining room as well as in the bar, plus the pool table and the jukebox. To get her to come back and sit down, Jeanne turned the tv on and got the Country Music Video channel on because they know that is her favorite channel to watch too!

Maya doesn't like to sit for very long though and pretty soon, she was following Jeanne back into the kitchen area and she managed to find a straw hat someone had given to Jim - looked sort of like a safari type pith helmet ya know and she put that on her head and was strolling in and out of the kitchen with this goofy hat on which had both Jim and Charmaine laughing at her. From the hat, she moved over to a table adjacent to where I was sitting and announced she wanted crayons so she could color on the place mat. This kid doesn't forget when people provide her with neat little things to keep her occupied up there but I did manage to convince her that she couldn't do the coloring thing there that day.

She started to roam the dining room again and it was at that time that she pulled a little trick that really shocked the heck out of all of us there. There was an older couple seated by the wall at a small table that was set up for three people, max and without any second thought at all, Maya proceeded to go up to that couple, pull out the empty chair at their table and hiked herself up on the chair, sitting there so nicely you'd have thought she belonged with them.

Apparently, the guy had a glass of iced tea with lemon and had removed the lemon slice and had it laying on a small plate there, right in front of where Maya had parked herself and she just reached up, snagged that slice of lemon and popped it in her mouth, eating the pulp, sucking what ever amount of lemon juice may still have been left in the slice!

This couple, Jeanne, Charmaine and I all just howled laughing at her doing that! She was just so nonchalant about it too - like she was showing anyone who was watching that, hey - I do this kind of stuff every day, don't 'cha know!

When Mandy got home from work that evening and I was telling her everything her darling little daughter had done that afternoon and early evening - good things and bad - Mandy had to call Charmaine and talk to her about the lemon slice thing. Charmaine was still chuckling, as was Jeanne, two hours after that had happened too!

Isn't it just oh so much fun though to take a three-year-old out for a little social call and see the things the kid can get into -and get away with too?

And all this leads me up to the Bushism for Wednesday, April 25, 2007. I think you'll like this one too!

"I admit it, I am not one of the great linguists." - on the NBC Newes special The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing; January 23, 2001.

Yep, Dubya - I think we can all agree with that!

Rocket Science? NOT!

I have been thinking about this for some time now - a LONG time now actually - about the intelligence level of some people around me and I've decided after a spate of events in recent time that although intelligent life may exist in some teeny boppers, those involved with this household apparently are severely lacking or, perhaps just done have a whit of common sense.

Take this for an example:

A little while back, the two little ones were spending the afternoon with someone else - meaning simply they were not here with me - and the person watching them had phoned to request that the step-granddaughter fix her two bottles for the little guy to use. (By fix, meaning just to measure out the amount of formula powder needed to add 8 ounces of water with it in the bottle, put the nipple and seal on the bottle. No big deal, right?

Well, the kid comes to me holding to formula containers and says, "This can is empty but this can is unopened, should I open this one?" Gee, do you think you'll wave a magic wand or measuring spoon over the empty container and presto magic, more powdered formula will appear? I think the last person who walked the earth and could make food appear virtually from nowhere also walked on water, did He not?

I told her to think about her question a minute and then make a decision. She shot me a really dirty look and shrugged her shoulders but never understood what a ridiculous question it was that she had just posed to me.

Every fall, when school starts up again, we go through the same process here of telling this kid that she needs to start off the year on a good footing which involves processing her homework in a timely fashion, bring books home and actually open them, and also READ and Study from them. And this lecture continues too throughout the school year. But every year, around March sometime, it is inevitable that she has not been following through, her grades have been dropping with each report card and suddenly the realization comes that gee, I might just fail this class. Whatever shall I do?

But, when she's told it is still going to involve some work, it still doesn't seem to register with her at all,.

However, with a strong C average, extreme dislike for even mediocre math homework - or any other homework for that matter - she is operating under the dillusional thinking that she is going to apply to attend Arizona State University and BE ACCEPTED with grades like that too! And, also that she will be handed the funding to attend any school of her choice with no attention being paid to her grades at all either! Or that her Dad and stepmother are automatically going to have the money available to transport her lazy little butt back and forth, via plane fare, from Pennsylvania to Arizona off and on over the period of time she will be this wonderful student there.

No matter how I try to explain to her if you are having difficulty now with Algebra 1, you hate it, don't do homework, etc., how do you think you are going to be able to handle college level math of any type? But I know, just from the looks she gives me that she thinks I am just an old fuddy-duddy who knows NOTHING of what I speak even though I did manage to get through 4 years of college and I do know how difficult the course work is when you are not fully prepared by having put down at least a half-decent foundation of knowledge in high school and have the willingness to do the homework once those college classes do roll around.

When I was in high school, we had no training at all in preparation of college-type papers. All we ever had to do then was write simple little book reports. Keep in mind, this was 45 plus years ago too. We did have more instruction then though in grammar, spelling, how to construct a proper sentence and/or paragraph though than many of these kids are getting today - at least based on the courses and requirements the step-granddaughter has to deal with. Maybe this explains though why some of the English professors paid no attention at all to the spelling and grammar errors of many of the kids I had in my English classes then.

How do you get the message of the importance of paying attention, studying, doing homework, and above all, simply THINKING across anyway?

This is just one of many areas where no amount of trying to explain, discuss, whatever you care to call it - communicate on any level - seems to register. I suppose my Mom thought many of these same things about me when I was this age but I at least knew that grades were an important component to being accepted into a college program and I also knew, all too well, by the time I hit 15 that economics were also a huge factor then when tuition could run as low as $1,000 for the entire school year and now, in-state tuition is a mere $5,000 plus just for one semester! That's not even looking at the tuition rates if one opts to attend college in a different state, which would virtually double the expenses.




Technical Question

I'm having a small problem with my computer setup here of late.

My ISP has this silly regulation of theirs that every four hours you are online, using their services, when the 4th hour is up, the connection automatically shuts down on you.

Now, supposedly (so they say), it won't go out on you if it detects you are "doing" something at that time. However, they say if you are just chatting on IM or playing a game, that type of activity doesn't generate enough "activity" to register with their system, so it shuts down - no warning, just boom and it is gone.

However, it also does that if you are typing something - like a BLOG POST! Which, without the internet connection being active, you can't stop and save your work as a draft! HELLO? PEOPLEPC.COM? Can you hear me?

Now, that aspect -almost losing what you have written into the blog post is not actually my problem here though.

If when my system self-disconnects, I happen to have Firefox open, using it to pen my blog, there is always the possibility once I get reconnected and re-open Firefox, that it will restore my previous session but that is also a bit risky too cause sometimes with blogger you can recover data, sometimes it gets contrary too and you can't.

But even that isn't really the problem I have that I have no clue how to get rid of it.

Within the past two-three weeks, when my system does the self-disconnect, it also pulls up another internet connection box - one that does not show on my network connection thing but it is to Peoplepc.com. However, the number that shows up there is a totally bogus number (555-555-5555) (yes, seriously folks, that's the number that shows up in this weird internet connection box) and my system will immediately begin to dial that bogus number which then gives me audio messages that the "number dialed is not a valid number." Yeah, right - I know that but how the heck to I get rid of this obnoxious little box that I did not install?

And, what's more, this "box" only seems to crop up if I have Firefox open. It doesn't happen if I happen to have IE open.

I asked the computer tech guy at the shop where I purchased this computer and he suggested that it is being caused by adware or spyware on my computer. He suggested I reinstall the freebie spyware program "Spybot - Search and Destroy" as he felt this would eliminate this pesky problem.

I tried to download the Spybot-S&D program but when I go to open the download I get an error message then saying the download is corrupt and to get another download. (Or wording somewhat to that effect.) I used Spybot-S&D on my old computer - no problems at all downloading the software or installling it - or running the program after that. But now, I can't get the software apparently to download a correct file. What's a person to do?

I've run the Ad-Aware program I have on the computer and it hasn't eliminated this little bit of internet connectivity interference. I have anti-virus protection running 24-7 and which is also self-updating on a daily basis but nothing is getting flagged down by that stuff either.

I'm just wondering if anyone else has a problem like this on their computer and if so, what did you do to correct it? Also, has anyone else experienced problems downloading the Spybot -S&D software too and how do I get around the errors I get when I try to install that program. (It tells me the "setup" is corrupt.)

Anyone with lots of knowledge about these weird little things who can help me, give me a clue how to fix this, please feel free to comment away - or e-mail me.

Hope someone out there has some suggestions that will allow me to get rid of this nuisance for once and for all.

Shock Waves!

Early this evening, a lady from our church stopped by the house to review the documentation I have so far that must be turned in to the people at Thrivent Lutheran Services. This is to see if we met all the goals required by Thrivent in order for them to match up to $1,000 of the donations we collected through our team, Maya's Team, during the 3K Walk to benefit the Cure Autism Now fund.

Although my paperwork still isn't completed, as of tonight, we have $918 recorded donations, plus I have a check here for $20 to be submitted directly to Cure Autism Now. Also, I noticed on our donations recordings that although they have credited our team with two checks I turned in at the time of the walk, there is another check, for $10.00, that has not yet found its way to being added into our totals. I'm also trying to contact someone at the home office of Cure Autism Now to see if they will allow the three walkers who were not preregistered before the walk to have their fees credited to our team's account. If they do that and also locate the "missing" check, that would take our total collections up then to $993 and provided we are completely cleared then by Thrivent for the matching funds, would give a total donation from our team then of almost $2,000. I had added the numbers up earlier this evening in my head and had calculated we could end up with $1,003 but I see now that I had double-counted the missing check for $10. Hey, if we end up with $993 and that figure is doubled, it's still a darned respectable figure for our first time around the block with this fund raiser stuff.

And, I already have lots of ideas for the walk next year that we can implement on our team to get even more sponsors for our teams. GO MAYA'S TEAM! That's going to be our slogan -maybe.

While the lady from church was here, Kurtis and Maya seemed to be taking turns to see who could make the most noise, be the most disruptive and generally, cause some disorder for old Grammy.

But, I think Maya won that little contest. Kurtis had eventually decided he would take a little nap - get rested up for the next go-round ya know - and Maya was playing around fairly quietly on the floor when all of a sudden, totally seeming to come out of nowhere, was this extremely loud - and I do mean VERY, VERY LOUD blast of music. It almost knocked both of us off our chairs. It woke Kurtis up, very frightened, screaming, crying and when I looked for Maya, she was cowering between the sofa and the cedar chest that serves as a coffee table.

Well, now I figured out right away what had happened and also, who the perpetrator of this sudden blast of rock and roll music was too. Apparently Miss Maya was fiddling around with the buttons and knobs on the cd/tape player/radio and had managed to turn on the cd player in which the stepgranddaughter had one of her cds and Maya had also apparently moved the volume control up to full blast too.

I wish this little scare today would have some lasting effect on her - to impel her to keep her little fingers away from things she shouldn't be playing with. But, unfortunately, I rather suspect that won't be the case.

It did however apparently scare her enough today that she decided to lay down on the floor and rest, relax and take a nap though. Ok a temporary respite is better than none, isn't it?

And now, the Bushism for Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"In this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis; you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?'" - Washington, D.C.; March 16, 2005


Monday, April 23, 2007

New Additions

I made some changes to my blog tonight -or rather, this morning since it is now after midnight on the east coast and therefore yes, it is officially morning. Barely, but it is according to the clock on my computer now 12:48 a.m. and the date is registering that it is now Monday, April 23, 2007.

And, what is it you ask that I did to my blog? Well, hopefully -if I did it right - I made some changes to the font, although at a glance, it doesn't look like anything got changed there.

I think I changed a little bit of how my "favorites" appear - I clicked for them to be in italics but you have to remember this is me, the totally technically challenged one and what I thought I did might not be what blogger thinks and says I did to it. We shall see. Time will tell.

One thing I changed actually amounts to five changes though. I added five new blogs to my list of favorites I like to read. I hope you'll look down through the list, take note of the new additions, check them out and tell each one I sent you there! Reciprocation - I think that's what it's called, isn't it? I dunno. I just came across these particular blogs recently, liked them a lot and decided I wanted to have the convenience of being able to just slide the mouse over to each new title, click on the link and voila, presto magic and all that poppycock, the blog pulls up without my having to open a new window, go up to my favorites and hope my lousy vision, even with the new glasses, lets me find the blog I wanted to keep up with. This way, it will be five more blogs added to my daily regime of favorite blogs I like to read and/or visit. That much more time consumed before I have to pull myself away from the computer and go wash dishes, or do something for Maya or Kurtis, fix supper, answer the phone. You know - all the little minutia one has to deal with, day in, day out.

Let me tell you now which blogs are the new ones -in case you aren't personally familiar with those on my listing of favorites.

First there is Burnett's Urban Etiquette - done by a gentleman who works for the Miami Times Herald as a journalist. This is a very nice, well-written, thought-provoking blog. My buddy, Bob Johnson, up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who writes Letters I Wish I'd Sent and Bob's Odder Blog pointed me in the direction of the "Urban Etiquette" blog as well as to this one - A Twist of Humor - written by Mike Cook, yet another Canadian blogger. Mike's from Newfoundland, which if I remember my geography lessons correctly, is in the eastern coastline of Canada. Boy, I hope to heck I got that right or I'll have to stop lecturing my kids and grandkids too on the importance of learning basic geography and where different provinces in Canada as well as states in the U. S. are located - yadda, yadda. Think I wouldn't do that to my kids and grandkids? Think again! Anyway, check out both of those new blogs as I thought they were really very interesting, funny, educational too.

The next blog I'd like to recommend is Life in General and Other things, written by a lady in Mishawaka, Indiana by the name of Sylvia. She gives her thoughts on lots of things - many pertaining to things I can relate to - like getting older, remembering how things used to be and well, just a nice take on life, in general.

My fourth addition gives a perspective that often revolves around sports - in particular just about any sport that the city of Pittsburgh, PA has to offer in the way of a professional team. Ok, I admit I'm a baseball fan and the old Pirates just happen to be my team of choice when I am given an option to root for specifics. I acquired my liking for the Pirates from my grandfather and one of his sisters - my Great-aunt Esther - both of these relatives of mine were dyed-in-the-wool Pirates fans and I figured if they liked the Pirates, that was good enough for me. This blog, Rinsem's Rink, also offers a lot more than just posts about the Pirates or the Steelers, or any other sport - he has a lot of neat You-tube videos plus, he's writing a book and posting chapters or portions of what he has completed to date that makes for a little other diversionary reading.

The last blog I added is Douce - written by Heather B. Armstrong, a young married woman who lives in Utah. Ok, that's not all there is to her blog but it's one that is not for the faint of heart if reading a word now and again that would come under the heading of "expletive deleted." Yeah, forewarned is forearmed there ya know. But, Heather's posts about her life today, her family, the region where she lives, her "former" life too - I'll give you another little warning if you read her blog - don't do it with a mouth full of food or liquid refreshment! You might end up either choking or having to clean up your desk, the keyboard, the monitor - anything in range, because most of her posts are really, really funny! Yes, she's my kind of writer too - throws in generous, very generous amounts of sarcasm and any one who really knows me, knows I pretty much thrive on sarcasm. Just ask my kids if you want to verify that assertion. They'll tell you. On second thought, maybe you shouldn't ever ask my kids anything about me because they tend to lie and tell people what an evil, mean, miserable, miserly, obnoxious old battle-ax I am. Okay, if they tell you that it's probably all true but my son and sometimes my daughters too, will tell you that was me then when they were kids, that isn't me now, the grandmother of their sweet, little darlings. Nope. As Bill Cosby has said and my son likes to point this out, I am now "an old person just trying to get into heaven."

So there you have it - my five new additions. Check 'em out and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what is waiting for you behind each click.

Now, to show I am trying - at least now or for this week - to change my mode of operation, get organized, stay on top of things, etc., etc., here's the Bushism for today, Monday, April 23, 2007.

(I think you'll all get as big a charge out of this one as I did too.)

"We're concerned about AIDS inside our White House - make no mistake about it." - Washington, D.C.; February 7, 2001.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

And as Many More as Possible, Please!


This post tonight is in honor of my aunt, my Dad's "baby" sister, who celebrated her 90th birthday today. The photo on the left, while probably not that clear (unfortunately) but will give you a little idea at least, about my aunt. The lady holding the baby in the far left photo is my Mom but I've yet to figure out exactly who the man is beside her holding what appears to be a little boy. I think it may have been my Mom's oldest brother and his son, my cousin Ray, who is a whole lot younger than me - as he likes to tell me and anyone who will listen - all of three days!
But that isn't the picture I really want you to look at. The lady standing alone in the photo on the right is my aunt, taken probably in the early-to-mid 1940's shortly after she started her teaching career. And the house in the bottom photo is my Dad's family homestead in Morrisdale, PA.
My aunt's given name is Anna Mae but most everyone in our family calls her "Aunt Mike." I don't know how she got that nickname - she never seemed sure of how it happened on her either but did say she had heard a long time ago that her dad gave it to her. Considering that her dad, my grandfather died when she was only five years old, she's had that nickname for a whole lot of years, don't 'cha know?
Aunt Mike -as well as my oldest aunt (Lizzie) - were both school teachers. They were both also very strong, capable, intelligent women, with lots and lots of spunk. Aunt Lizzie had polio when she was about 3-4 years old and the doctor who treated her apparently was well ahead of his time as he recommended my grandparents purchase a tricycle for her to rehab her leg, which had been affected by the illness. Although her one leg was shorter than the other, she refused to wear the shoes that were drastically elevated or anything, so she did walk with a bit of a limp but never let that deter her from anything she wanted or felt she needed to do. Stubbornness is a big family trait in my Dad's family and both of these women, his sisters, were definitely proof of that!
Aunt Mike taught elementary school for a number of years, as well as serving as the music teacher and choral director at the Morris Township schools. After her daughter was born, when she returned to teaching, she taught second grade at the Osceola Mills school where my Aunt Lizzie taught first grade.
Fifty years ago this past February, Aunt Mike had her only child, Jane Ann. Because at the time Jane was born, not that much was known then about complications that could arise in mothers with RH factor and Jane was born with cerebral palsy as well as other problems. Rhogam, a drug administered to women with RH factor immediately after delivery, even if it was only a miscarriage had not been discovered or made available prior to my aunt's pregnancy and a year or two earlier, she had suffered a miscarriage which meant the antibodies that the RH factor creates during pregnancy were already present when Jane Ann was conceived. That Jane survived even the first year to five years of her life is amazing but it is really miraculous that she celebrated her 50th birthday just two months ago and that is all due to the love, attention, care she has received over those years from her mother, my Aunt Mike.
The above and to the right photo is Jane Ann, Aunt Mike and one of the four boxers Aunt Mike has had over the past 40 plus years. I think, based on the size of the dog in this photo that this is the one they called "Big Pup" and yes, he was very much so a BIG PUP! He was also a very spoiled dog but then, that was the norm for any dog that became a member of Aunt Mike's household. She has always been very much a dog lover and it's probably even safe to say that she didn't just love each of the boxers she's had, she adored them!
When Jane Ann was twelve years old, Aunt Mike's husband, Uncle Bob, died of a heart attack and for the past 37-38 years since, Aunt Mike worked till she was around 62-63 years old, teaching as well as maintaining the family homestead, caring for Jane Ann, seeing to it that Jane received as much training, education that was available for those with severe brain damage such as she has. The result of my aunt's work are visible too if you were to meet Jane. Although Jane can not speak, she makes her wants and wishes known and also, those of us within the family know that Jane knows each of us, knows what our names are even if she can't speak them. If asked where this cousin or that one is in the room with her, Jane will look directly at the person you name so we know that she knows us and can identify us by name at least in her mind, if not vocally.
Children, of all ages, but especially babies, have always been a number one attraction for Aunt Mike. This photo to the left was taken of Aunt Mike holding my little princess granddaughter, Maya, when Maya was five days old. When Mandy and I took Maya up to "introduce" her to her great-great-aunt Mike, she was so excited, so happy to see this tiny baby and just reveled in being able to meet her and to hold her. My grandson, Alexander, is one of her many great-nephews too that she always remembers, always asks about as well. My cousin Margy's two grandsons (Pj and Jamison) who live just down the road from the family homestead and therefore, used to pop in and out to visit with Aunt Mike are two other great-great-nephews who Aunt Mike always remembers and asks about, by name.
When my grandson was born and the first time my daughter and her husband took Alexander up to meet Aunt Mike, he was probably about 6-7 weeks old and Aunt Mike surprised and shocked my daughter when she asked her if they were going to just call him "Alexander" or if they were going to give him a nickname like "Alex, Alec or maybe you'll call him 'Eck'" and Carrie was really confused by the last nickname mentioned. "Eck?" Carrie looked puzzled at me as she repeated that name. And it dawned on me then that one of my Dad's older brothers had been named Alexander but everyone always called him "Eck" which perhaps is a Scottish nickname for Alex - I'm not sure about that, just kind of assuming there. Plus, since I am interested in family tree research too but hadn't really begun to delve that much into at the time Alexander was born, I didn't realize until a couple years later that Alexander was my great-grandfather's name - my dad's mother's father, that is. Which doubly explained then why Aunt Mike had posed that question to Carrie about my grandson, I would imagine.

This last photo was taken a year ago this coming May after the funeral for my Aunt Lizzie who died on May 6, 2006 -her 98th birthday. The very tiny lady in the front row is Aunt Mike and she is surrounded by her nieces and nephews, a couple great-nieces and great-great-nephews who were able to attend Aunt Lizzie's funeral. The two young women on the far right, as you look at the photo, are my daughters, Mandy and Carrie and it is my grandson, Kurtis, who was three weeks old at the time, in the baby carrier. Going from right to left and across the photo are: next to my daughter Mandy is my cousin Mike's daughter, Susan, her husband John is behind her holding their son, Shawn, who was six months old at the time. Next to Susan is my grandson, Alex, and that's me, behind Alex. Then, back in the front row, next to Alex, is my cousin Margy's grandson, Pj and behind him is my cousin Mike, father of Susan (already mentioned). Beside Pj is his grandmother, my cousin Margy, and behind her is Bea, my cousin Mike's wife and between Bea and Mike, a bit behind, is Irene, widow of my cousin Tom. Then, standing next to Aunt Mike is my cousin George but no one calls him that as his nickname is "Skip"(and the family joke is that in Aunt Mike's eyes, Skip and cousin Mike both "walk on water.") Behind Skip is his brother-in-law Bob. Then to the side and behind Aunt Mike is Skip's sister, Isabel, Skip's son, Heystel and Skip's wife, behind them all, Lois. At the very end and beside Aunt Mike, is my cousin, Bessie Ann.
Phew - that's a lot of naming and explaining and what not there, isn't it?
But that's my Aunt Mike and just a few of the nieces and nephews, great-nieces, great-great-nephews. Just be darned glad that ALL my cousins on that side of the family were not present that day! There were 21 grandchildren initially but six of my first cousins are deceased. However, to give you a better idea of the size of my dad's family, I went to a family reunion about 7 years ago and there were 126 people in attendance at that reunion. Of that number only 3 of us present were NOT part of my oldest uncle's family -he and his wife only had 10 children, you see!
And today, my cousin Mike and his wife Bea, had a little get-together at the nursing home where Aunt Mike and Jane Ann now reside for family and friends of Aunt Mike to come visit, have cake and ice cream and give Aunt Mike a little reminder of how much we all still love and very much appreciate her now as well as for what she's always been to each of us over these many years.
Aunt Mike has always been there, beside me as long as I can remember - a strong, loving, attentive and oh yes, a sweet, spoiling aunt at times to me as well as to all three of my children and now, as much as she is able to be, she is that to my grandchildren too.
As I wished her a "Happy Birthday" today and told her - "many more" she softly said to me "Oh I do hope not many more." I understand her reasons for saying that too. She's had a difficult life, caring for her daughter all these years. She's had her share of health issues too - colo-rectal cancer in 1991 which resulted in a colostomy and which to this day, she absolutely hates. But regardless of what came her way, she continued to push forward to do whatever she felt she could to be there for her daughter and for all the rest of us, her nieces and nephews and for her friends and neighbors too.
Her mind is starting to fail a bit now and she is no longer able to walk so is wheel-chair bound but underneath, she'll always be the loving aunt she's always been to me.
As my ex-husband used to say about the situation with Aunt Mike and Jane Ann, "If every child born with issues like Jane Ann has, each one should have a mother then just like Aunt Mike." Sometimes, my ex-husband said some pretty darned nice and very accurate things you see.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Who I Am

If you look to the right side of this page, you'll notice I've added a little something there. A neat little test Dorothy Thompson, moderator of the Writer's Life Group, of which I am a member, sent out tonight to our group.

According to "my" test results, the movie that best represents me - my life -whatever you want to call it, is "Wuthering Heights."

Now, when I saw that, I really had to chuckle a tad there because yes, the description it gives is a lot like me but what brought the smile and little chuckle out of me is because another member of our Writer's Life group, whose blog is listed too under my favorite blogs I like to read, Sandy Lender, is a huge, absolutely THE HUGEST fan possibly ever of Emily Bronte, the author of the book, from which this movie was made!

Sandy also has a book published and just released - available too through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and various and sundry other book stores titled Choices Meant for Gods.

Check out her blog, learn about her book and then, hie thee off to the book store or go online and order a co
py of it.

And, while you're at it, take the little test that I have on my blog and see what movie you are too. Just have some fun and let me know which movie you come up as then!





Nothing Much

For a while today, I thought I was going to have some interesting stuff to write about tonight, but then, things calmed down, petered out and what seemed to hold promise earlier, was dull stuff by the end of the evening. But, because I was waiting to see what happened, here I am -late again and now, I have to bless you all with two bushisms at once. One for Friday and the other, is the weekend one that covers both Saturday and Sunday. So, look at it this way - no Bushisms now till Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007
"Redefining the role of the United States from Enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." - Interview with The New York Times; January 14, 2001

and
for Saturday and Sunday - April 21st and 22nd, 2007
"It's your money. You paid for it." - La Crosse, Wisconsin; October 18, 2000

And, in case you are thinking I retyped words into the first quote, I didn't. That's how the quote actually reads. What it means now, that's anybody's guess!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

How Long Will This One Last?

A big event here today. We got a new refrigerator.
Actually, Mandy went shopping again yesterday in search of one and found this one, on sale at a very good price and she bought it. Carrie's fiance and my grandson, Alex, delivered it here last night but we couldn't put it into the space where the old fridge had been until today. The reason being when Robert hauled it up here in the back of his pickup truck, the sales personnel told him once they got it in the house to be sure to let it sit upright for 24 hours before plugging it in and putting foods into it. The reason being it has a compressor and when they had to lay the fridge down to transport it, the oil or grease or whatever it is compressors have to have to function needed to have a chance for all of it to resettle back into its proper places within the inner workings of the unit.
So, tonight, after supper, my son-in-law got the old unit out, Mandy cleaned the floor and wall there and Bill put the new unit in its proper place. Then, the fun began as Mandy and I started taking stuff from the old fridge, determining if it was worth keeping in the case of some small amounts of leftovers or tiny bits of other items that maybe were well beyond their expiration dates. I've never been one to pay any attention, usually, to these expiration dates. To me, if it didn't change color, didn't have green fur growing on it from having been placed in a spot out of sight and didn't smell bad, then it should be ok. But, both my girls really get on my case about expiration dates so needless to say, there were a few things pitched that I might have kept on hand there for oh maybe another year or two or ten. (Just joking about the years there, I'm not quite that bad at tossing things from the fridge.)
The fridge we replaced, I bought when my kids and I moved from the house their dad and I had built, next door to this house which had been my grandparents' home, then my mom's. When my Mom died in October of 1979 and since my ex and I were in the process of getting a divorce then, I decided I would rather live in this house instead of the one we had shared as a couple. And so, I purchased a new stove to replace the relic of a gas range that had been my grandparents stove along with the refrigerator that had also belonged to my grandparents.
Both the stove and refrigerator were delivered on December 7, 1979 and the kids and I completed our move into this house on that day too. That stove got replaced about 8 years ago and I had had several problems with it over the years I owned it too. But the refrigerator - it had given us grief only once and that was two years ago when the compressor went south on it and I had to have it repaired.
So now, Mandy and I are wondering if they - she and Bill - will have as much good luck with this new refrigerator as we had with the one we replaced. Twenty seven years of good service with only one repair is a pretty good track record in my book. Even though because it had a very, and I do mean VERY tiny freezer unit in the bottom, right next to the crisper drawers and always had a tendency to freeze anything you put in the crisper. But other than that, it was a good and faithful refrigerator and I hope it finds a nice home, good use, up in the garage my son-in-law has been building beside my son's house here. The boys are going to use it in the garage as their beverage holder - which means, cases of Mountain Dew for Bill and probably eventually a keg for Clayton.
And I have a bit of follow up information today now too on the "cafeteria" issues Kate had earlier this week at school. It seems the school has instituted this policy as a means to get everyone to stay au currant with their cafeteria accounts and I understood that from the beginning. The manager says that by law, they are permitted to serve simply pb&j sandwiches and an apple, plus milk for a bonafide lunch. They do not recognize the fact that by singling out the students who are in arrears, by labeling them in essence to other students, that this is a discriminatory action. And, the manager even "defended" the practice because several students who had been given cash money for the cafeteria but had spent it elsewhere now were forced to come clean to their parents as to what they had been frittering that money away on over the months. However, he also conceded to me that it is a time-consuming thing for the school to take pains to make up these brown bag lunches too and they can only do it on days basically when no cafeteria worker has called off from work too because then they wouldn't have adequate staffing to make the sandwiches, fix up the bags, etc. Somehow, the whole thing though seems to me a waste of time - and money in the long run too - when the kids won't eat the food and just toss it away then. (And no, I am not condoning that action, just stating it is what many would do with it.) Plus the fact that although the student is not permitted to partake on the days the brown bags are handed out to them of the food prepared for the general population of the school that day, the parents still get billed for that meal anyway. If someone can really show me the logic there of wasted labor, wasting food products, etc., to try to teach kids responsibility when in some instances, it is something out of their control, just makes no sense to me at all. But then too, lots of things that others tell me are totally sensible make no sense to me at times so maybe I am way off base there. Who knows? Feel free to voice your opinion here as I'd love to hear others thoughts on this matter in light of what the manager told me today.

And now - the Bushism for today - and this one, I have to say, I really, really enjoyed and hope you will too!
April 19, 2007
"I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today...He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me." - Nashville, Tennessee; May 27, 2004.

(Pretty good one, isn't it? Come on, you know it is, you gotta admit it on this one it does give cause to chuckle a bit don't 'cha think?)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Proof Positive!




Remember, I told you I would have photos to prove that I took part in the Cure Autism Now Walk this past Saturday (April 14th) in State College, and I've got them now! The photo on the left is Maya's Team, consisting of -from left to right, but zig-zagging around -my daughter, Carrie, her fiance, Robert, then my son Clayton, in front of Clayton is a dear family friend, Amie Mather, behind Amie is Lois Older, a co-worker of Mandy's, then in front is my grandson Alex, daughter Mandy behind him, in front, Mandy's younger stepdaughter, Sierra, who is 11, behind Sierra is Maya's therapist, Kerri Cowfer, and on the right is my high school friend, Sharon Rolley. Apretty good-looking team, don't you agree?
The two women in the center of the photo would be my friend from high school, Sharon and ME, as we finished up the walk in "record" time for a couple of older pace-setters - 55 minutes and 58 seconds, to be exact. And, there were people taking part in the walk, much younger than us who came in behind us too. Now how's that for pretty doggone neat?



This photo to the right is Amie Mather, a very close family friend, my grandson, Alexander -isn't he just a handsome young fellow -and my son, Clayton. This was after the walk was over and Amie was getting ready to leave to return to her home outside of Gettysburg. Sure was good to see her again and meant a whole lot to all of us that she wanted to come up for the weekend for the sole purpose of walking with us for this cause and as part of Maya's Team.

The young women in the photo to the left are, from left to right, my daughter, Mandy (Maya's mother) and Kerri Cowfer, one of Maya's two therapists. Kerri has worked with Maya since July of 2005, for behavior and play therapy issues and truly, she has worked wonders with our little Princess. When Kerri first started working with Maya, the little princess thought picking up a piece of paper and running through the house, carrying that piece of paper, was "playing." With Kerri's help, she now generally plays very appropriately with virtually any type toys - whether they are hers or her baby brothers!

Here's Mandy's co-worker, Lois Older, on the left and on the right, Sharon Rolley with a very famous entity for all Penn State fans, the Nittany Lion! WE ARE!

We were really lucky in that the rainy weather initially predicted for our walk day didn't show up and rain on our parade and we all really did have a very fun time, walking and raising money to benefit the Cure Autism Now Organization's Penn State Branch. And, what's more, we're making plans now to enter in the walk next year too only then, we plan to be much better organized and hopefully, to have a lot more walkers too on our team!

And, the Bushism of the day for today, April 18, 2007 is:
"Keep good relations with the Grecians." - As quoted in The Economist; June 12, 1999.
(For whatever that is worth or whatever it means - who knows!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cafeteria Quandry

First - let me get my Bushism for the day out of the way.
April 17, 2007
"I believe we are called to do the hard work to make our communities and quality of life a better place." - Collinsville, Illinois; January 5, 2005

Hmmmm. Now, exactly what does that say again, there?

Well, I'm going to take that statement and stretch it a bit to cover a program initiated in the schools, oh I don't know, a good many years ago, at least as far back as when my oldest was in grade school anyway, and that's been all most 30 years ago now.

The School's "free lunch" program. A good idea, yes it was, still is. For many families struggling to just get kids adequate clothes to wear and some food on the table, adding the cost of a lunch at the school cafeteria, at full price, can be something difficult for many to afford - especially if you have more than one kid in school too.

I know when my kids were in school, I was darned thankful that they had the "free or reduced rate" lunch program available.

And, because our combined income here is not all that high for the number of people living in this house, my step-granddaughter has always qualified for the "free/reduced" lunch program at the school.

Until, apparently, this year.

Back in late August, early September, my daughter filled out the mandatory paperwork, the kid turned the papers in and nothing was returned. She got her lunches at school through it, no problem at all. That is until about a month ago when, because she was in the Drama Club and the kids' annual school play was about to be presented, a notice came forth from the school that any student who was delinquent in paying their cafeteria fees would not be allowed to participate in the school play.

And, the step-granddaughter it seems had been deemed ineligible for the free/reduced lunch program at school this year even though the family's income was the same as the previous year or very little variation on it plus, we even had an added member to the family in the past year too. Go figure!

But, what was really annoying was the fact that at no time was any word sent forth from the school that she had been ruled ineligible for that program nor was any bill ever sent either on a month-to-month basis as to what these arrearages were - that is until the total came to around $130 owed.

My daughter went up to the school and spoke to the gentleman who is the administrator there and he says no paper work was submitted but the stepgranddaughter says no, she turned the papers in and even stated who she turned them in to in the office - the secretary.

Even so, why was nothing sent here before this bill got that high for openers?

The administrator gave my daughter papers to fill out to apply for the reduced/free lunch program and after about a week, got a notice that the kid is eligible for the reduced lunch program, however, it was not made retroactive - it just started to take effect now. Also, in order for the kid to participate in the school play, my daughter had to make payment arrangements with the school to show "good faith" that this bill would be taken care of.

As of today, she had paid $80 towards the bill and the stepgranddaughter was to be eligible for reduced rate lunches and would be allowed access to the cafeteria, yadda yadda.

However, today she came home from school and told us she was starving because she couldn't eat the lunch they handed her in the cafeteria today. Ok, I was expecting it to be that perhaps they had served some concoction that she had decided she didn't like very much but when she told us what she and five others in the line were given, I was shocked, really shocked.

She and five other students were singled out and handed a brown bag containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple while all the other students were allowed to proceed through the line and partake of buttered noodles and steakums - two things the kid actually likes of the cafeteria line food products.

The other five students - like my stepgranddaughter - were children whose cafeteria bill was delinquent too.

Now, I remember when the reduced/free lunch program began and there were great pains taken to make sure that other students didn't know which students received free, which received reduced and which ones paid full price in the cafeteria because this would or could cause social peer pressures for those getting free or reduced rate lunches - being considered "too poor." So all students were to be served the same meals, treated identically while in the cafeteria line - free, reduced or full-payor alike.

But, to deliberately single kids out because their parents for whatever reason were delinquent in payment of their cafeteria bill, even when the school had been negligent on their part in notifying us, at least, that there was an outstanding bill to begin with, certainly seems more than a bit over the top and also, very discriminatory in nature to me.

My son-in-law suggested to his daughter that she should perhaps take her own "Brown-bag" lunch and make sure to pack a container of a supper entre leftover if possible - one that needed heating - and to take it to the cafeteria personnel and ask if she could use their microwave to warm her own "brown bag" lunch then.

I'm for my daughter calling the school though and lodging a mega complaint about this treatment, as being unfair and grossly discriminatory.

What would you do? Oh, and by the way, each "brown bag" lunch given out had the student's name on it too.