Monday, March 31, 2008

Springtime!

As much as I do like spring, I'm not so sure I understand or am a good party to be trying to give comparisons to how much certain products and stuff reminds me of spring. For me, that aspect isn't part and parcel of what spring represents. I think of it more in terms of a spiritual renewal -the beginning of new things, a freshness in the air, warmth -or warming, at least.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Busy Month

It's hard to believe that Tuesday will be April 1st! Yep, good old April Fool's Day. Time was when I was much (MUCH) younger and working, my friends at work and I would often scheme to prank each other or even better, to catch our boss -the really great guy to work with, work for, "Mr. B" with some kind of trick. He was usually on the prowl with lots of tricks up his sleeve for us too though so it wasn't a one-sided deal there. Nowadays, my mind just doesn't see to be able to function along the practical jokes line -or at least not like it used to at any rate. These days, my so-called practical joking tends to be much more of a "spur of the moment" type situation that just pops up before me and is too darned good to let it slide -regardless of what the date may be.

But although the month of April may begin with a day earmarked for fun and games and pulling people's legs and such, did you know the month of April is also designated as a month dedicated to a very serious thing too?

It is, you see, Autism Awareness month!

Those who read my blog frequently know that both my two little grandchildren who live with me (or do I live with them?) are autistic. Maya, age 4 1/2 was diagnosed a year ago the end of April as being on the Autism spectrum - PDD-NOS and Kurtis, her little brother, was diagnosed two weeks ago. Initially, he too was given the spectrum diagnosis of PDD-NOS too but this past Wednesday when Mandy had an appointment with the people at the agency that delivers the therapy and preschool services for Maya and Kurtis, the psychiatrist who had given Kurtis' initial diagnosis changed it to straight Autism. He does have a lot more "issues" than Maya had when she first began receiving therapy at 20 months of age. As a result, Kurtis has been getting behavior/play, speech and occupational therapy since being evaluated last October as having developmental delays but now, with the autism diagnosis, he will also begin getting ABA treatment, Floortime and will also have a TSS (wraparound aide) to work with him in conjunction with the other three therapies he has been receiving.

The agency is taking a VERY proactive approach to working with him and I am very happy to see them doing that too. Working with autistic children to help them learn, adjust, bring out their ability to function to the highest degree, is no easy task and it's nothing that provides changes to the child (or the family) overnight either. It's a long, hard, grueling road ahead for him -and for Mandy -as well as for all the rest of us here as we try to accentuate the positives we see him doing. And there have been a few so far, to date too -little things he does -like occasionally now when we speak to him he might just look directly at us and hold that gaze for about five to ten seconds or like Saturday when we'd been out for a while and as Mandy came down the sidewalk with him, she left him walk and when he got to the front stoop, he actually tried to make the step up to the little landing there as well as the step up at the front door too. It's the little things like that, things he hasn't done before and that people tend to take fore granted that a two year old would have been doing long before now, but he hasn't -so those are two big steps we've recently seen in him and things like that give more hope that he will be able to keep progressing, moving forward.

We know too now that he comprehends a lot of things we say to him. When he's running around the house and heads towards things he shouldn't be getting into or when he pulls things off the coffee table and dumps them on the floor, if we call to him and tell him "Ah-uh-uh-ah-uh" as a little warning that he's not supposed to do that, sometimes now he will stop that behavior for a minute or two and also, more often than not, he starts to cry too. He doesn't like the different tone of voice we tend to have when admonishing him which tells us he's picked up on that as not being a good thing then. Little things, baby steps -going down a road we've already traveled not too long ago with Maya and now, here we are doing that all over again.

But the end result is so worth the work, the effort. Seeing how far Maya has come, how quickly she is now picking up more and more daily -sometimes it seems her learning is advancing hourly, it comes through so fast some days now, you know. Just wait till next year at this time and when I tell you then -as well as throughout the coming year - of the little things Kurtis is achieving, won't it be quite a great day to be able to look back and see how he's advanced too in that time?

In recognition of Autism Awareness month, so far all three of my children, along with Maya, my older grandson, Alex, older daughter Carrie's fiance, one of Kurt's therapists, a good friend of ours from church, Mandy's good friend here and another couple who live nearby and have a son about a year younger than Maya who is autistic and I have all signed up to walk in the Autism Walk on April 12th over in State College, PA. We've already raised enough money that we have qualified now for $500 in matching funds through Thrivent - a church social welfare agency -that means right now we have over $1,500 in funds given in support of our team. And, we still have two weeks to go too to try to get more donations through signing up more people -hopefully - to walk with us, through contributions to our team given by anyone who wants to support us, our team, in that manner as well as from "Canning" with the various cans Mandy and my son's roommate have fixed with some really cute decorations to garner attention to Autism and the walk. We'd like to raise $2,500 if possible -another $1,000 in addition to what we have so far so if you're reading this and haven't already donated to support us, here's the website where you can go to make a contribution if you'd like to do that. There are also instructions on the website whereby you can mail a contribution directly to Autism Speaks if you don't like the idea of using the online contribution set up. All we ask is if you do that, please indicate that you want your contribution to be applied in support of our team - the "WE ARE for Kurt and Maya Team" in the April 12th walk in State College, PA -where Penn State's main campus is located.

http://events.autismspeaks.org/site/c.jvKSL7MTIwG/b.3884743/


You can also go to that website and search for our team -it's on Page 2, almost at the bottom of the page - and you can follow our progress too towards our Team's goal.

You know, after the walk, I'll be posting pictures then of our team walking, having a good time together, in our effort to raise more much needed funding for Autism research and training.

Throughout the month too, I am going to try to post more photos too of Kurtis and Maya with each post I make, as well as trying to tell our story -what signals were there that alerted us to the fact that both kids had this disorder.

I also want to do this as my own effort to explain that a diagnosis of Autism need not be thought of as the end of one's particular world -just a change of direction perhaps, here and there. I'm not trying to make light of the situation because without the therapy Maya has and continues to recieve and which Kurtis has just begun a few months ago, they might be able to function somewhat as they grow but with the therapy, they will have increased the odds in their favor at least ten-fold.

It isn't however a disorder that can be cured -they both will have it all their lives. But, in a way, it is like a child being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and they have to learn how to manage their dietary needs, along with finding the correct dosage of insulin, keeping track of other things that can help or hinder their progress, so it is with autistic children too. In both instances, the parents, the child, the medical community, has to find the key - the right key - to enable the child to grow and to flourish. And that's what the therapists, the ABA treatment, the Floortime programs and the preschool program here will do for Maya and Kurt - help them (and us) to find the key to open each door and thus, enable the pieces of their own particular puzzle to be put together. Because that is, in essence, what autism frequently is to the child, to the parents and family, therapists and doctors alike - a huge puzzle with pieces strewn all over the place -sometimes hidden behind doors and alcoves in the mind and body just waiting for that particular important "key" for each child to be found.

If you would, please tell others you know - bloggers, family, friends, co-workers -about my blog and ask them to visit and perhaps donate to our team or even to take up a collection in those circles to submit to the Autism Speaks organization too. Just spreading the word about Autism and the signs so more parents become aware early to get the help so needed for their children as quickly as possible, would be something extremely beneficial.

And above all, don't perceive these individuals with Autism as being someone to fear, or to pity either. For the most part, they are all beautiful individuals - key word here being "individual" with a different way of learning than the rest of us in society generally may have. They're bright, playful, fun-loving, cheerful (usually), cuddly, snuggly, lovable people in need yes, but of help in just learning how to learn and with the same basic needs as each and everyone of us has too!

If you don't believe me, follow along here with me and I'll tell you more about my two very, very special sweethearts as well as showing you too, hopefully, the changes coming about in both of them day by day.

See for yourself, won't you?


Maya and Kurtis -both showing off the happy side they each frequently have on display here -and when we go out too!

You can't see the autism in them -only if you are around them in person would you come to realize the differences they have from other children their age.

Comin' Up

Time once again for the weekly messages -straight from the DUBYA, himself! I haven't looked at these as yet so I'm wondering now, before I start typing, how many of these statements will, as so many in the past have done, totally leave me scratching my head in either confusion or dismay. So, let's forge ahead and see what he has to say.

Monday, March 31, 2008 - 295 days left

"If they pre-decease or die early, there's an asset base to be able to pass on to a loved one, to help that loved one transition."
--Discussing privatized Social Security, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, March 2005

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 294 days left

"It means your own money would grow better than that which the government can make it grow. And that's important."
--Discussing the privatization of Social Security --Falls Church, Virginia, April 2005

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 -293 days left

"Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of [Dr. Seuss'] Hop on Pop."
--Washington, D. C., April 2, 2002, discussing education.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 - 292 days left

"But Iraq has --have got people there that are willing to kill, and they're hard-nosed killers. And we will work with the Iraqis to secure their future."
--Washington, D.C., April 2005

Friday, April 4, 2008 -- 291 days left

"My mom used to say, 'The Trouble with W'--although, she didn't put that to words."
--Washington, D.C., April 2002

Saturday and Sunday, April 4/5, 2008 - 290 days left and 289 days left

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's birthday, 1937
"I try to be the same person I was yesterday."
--Colin Powell

Yep! There ya go folks! Another week's worth of wonderful words provided to us by none other than our illustrious leader, the magnificent orator that he is - "The DUBYA!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

RACE DAY!

Boy, I've lost track of time this week and forgot until tonight that I had intended to do a post sometime this week about THE BIG EVENT of the year here.

That being, none other than the RED MO White Water Canoe/Kayak Race! And tomorrow, Saturday, March 28th is the day it will happen!

Getting a comment tonight from a young man, local to this area, on a post I did a year ago about this race is what opened my eyes and made me sit up and think -OMG -I'd almost let it slide by completely.

I shouldn't have forgotten as this week especially and actually over the past two-three weeks, I've been seeing on my sitemeter a whole lot of folks looking for information about the RED MO race. Not that I have tons of new information about it, cause I don't. As a matter of fact, I don't recall seeing anything in the lovely local newspaper -The Clearfield Progress -nor did I see anything online in the CDT (Centre Daily Times) about the race either. But as I had stated in my post last year (see here), my opinion about local-type coverage in EITHER of those papers hasn't changed over the past year.

But I can't let the opportunity to tout my home area a bit go by unnoticed now can I? This race garners participants who come from I think as far west as Missouri and Iowa -definitely from Michigan and Ohio, lots of folks from Pennsylvania, certainly, but also Maryland, New York and well, who knows how far off they might just show up from this year? I don't know all that much about the race -what it's like to run those rapids for example -just that it is a seven-mile course on the Red Moshannon, beginning at the big bridge in Peale, Pa -the ghost town here -and ending at the bridge at the foot of Cooper Mountain on Route 53, between Drifting and Moshannon, PA. Depending on weather conditions both in the weeks prior to the race, as well as on race day itself, it can be a fairly nice, sometimes "smoothish" run (I've been told that by some folks who have run it) or it can be hell on wheels too if the weather is really trashy and the water might be very high, wilder than the normal then, ya know. But regardless of that, a very good friend of mine, who has run the race for many years -even offered to take me on a canoe run down the Red MO (not on race day though) just so I could see the sights along the route for myself -has said about it, the scenery is awesome. But, because when a nice canoe trip on a warm summer day down the Red Mo isn't likely to happen since it is generally too low during the summer months to make a run on it in a canoe -wading it for seven miles might have some potential, if one had the stamina for doing that I suppose -and also because I have enough physical problems as it is now with my back, my legs, etc., I politely thanked him for his thoughtful offer and said maybe in my next life, with joints that all function easily I would consider that idea.

So tonight, I'm gonna sort of give you a little view of some sights you might see as you travel through here -past my house -enroute to the bridge to "put in" for the mighty Red Mo race tomorrow. (Just please don't speed past here though -we do have a few small children, as well as pets that occasionally might be outside, plus I really don't relish the thought of someone hauling canoes/kayaks on their vehicles or behind them, losing control and any of that stuff landing against our parked vehicles or even worse, coming undone and rolling -or flying -into my house -or those of any of my neighbors either, for that matter!)

Depending on which road you use to come down to Grassflat and then, on down to Peale, you might pass this little restaurant/bar along the way. The is "Jim and Charmaine's" -and yes, my regular readers have often heard me mention going up there for lunch or just for coffee at times, to be able to sit and b.s. and visit with Charmaine, Shirley or Charmaine's sisters -Jeanne and Annie or even their mother, my good friend -Helen Ann -commonly referred to by my kids and me as "Aunt Helen Ann."

If you made the turn into Grassflat by Jim and Charmaine's then here's two places you will definitely pass by on the way to Peale!

The first picture here is of the Grassflat Moose. Once upon a time -oh a hundred years or so back in time -this place was a hotel here in town. Hard to believe we actually ever had anything along those lines here, but we did. (When I was a kid, we even had to general stores operating here as well -even then!)
You'll also pass this place - Cooper's Bar and Grill - located almost directly across the street from the Moose building. I don't know how long that this building has been a bar/tavern -been that all my life -and I know apparently in the 30's, maybe early 40's, it was a bar owned then by the couple who used to live next door to our house back then.

A little farther down the road, after you go through the four-way intersection in the middle of the village, this is a view of the street just before you pass my house. This is the lower end of town -the view of the area called "West Clymer" (even though it is on the eastern end of town -go figure, I know.) It's a pretty little quiet street -normally -except on the last Saturday in March when the traffic here gets really hectic with the canoe/kayakers driving past on their way to the Red Mo. Along this street, you will pass by seven houses that back at the turn of the century, until about 1905 or so, were inhabited by either my great-grandparents, siblings of theirs or children of theirs as well as one family who were cousins of my great-grandfather too! A lot of Swedes in town on this end anyway then!

As you pass my house, you might even see my son-in-law, leaning on one of the vehicles parked out front of our place. Our parking area sometimes gives the aura of being a used car lot -or even has the makings at times to be a junkyard too, depending on how many vehicles my son-in-law might be either working on fixing or that he has collected and is stripping of good, usable parts!
Behind that parking area, look close -you'll see my house there. Look even closer and you might see one or both of the cats in the front window, or even Maya watching the traffic as it whizzes past our place. You can be sure she'll be asking this question about the cars and boats -"What is it?"
This is something you will no longer see on the drive to the bridge though. This was the last house in Peale until about 18 months ago when some "genius" -an arsonist -set fire to the place and by the time the fire was discovered, the house had already burned completely to the ground -thus effectively destroying the last real trace of a life that once existed in the old village of Peale. What ever would possess someone to deliberately wipe out a piece of history like that is absolutely beyond my comprehension! What joy does that bring to anyone, ya know?

You won't see this from the road, but you will pass the little tram path that leads back into the forest to where the Peale cemetery is located. Of all the graves there, only one has a marker still standing -a memorial to Martha Renfrew who died I believe in 1887 or 1889 -something like that. Come back sometime in the spring or summer, and take a walk back into the woods and see a little more of the history of this once bustling town. Near where the cemetery is, there also used to be a baseball field -well used, much enjoyed, by the residents of a time long since passed.

AH, You've arrived! You're at the bridge!

Yep -here's the Peale bridge over the Red Moshannon Creek! The view here is looking upstream from the bridge -towards Viaduct and Winburne, etc. But it's a pretty sight when the weather is right. If race day happens to be rainy -or even blizzard-like conditions (that's happened before, ya know,) I don't know how pretty one might find this view under those circumstances though.

Look around at the people milling about there and you might see the guy on the left here -that's my neighbors' son - Howie Pillot -and the pretty young lady is his daughter, Anna. Howie's run this race for many years now as well as having canoed I think from Philipsburg down the Red Mo clear to the bridge at the foot of the mountain. A nicer guy you couldn't meet either!

Here's Howie and Anna (his daughter) several years ago as they ran the Red Mo race as a father/daughter pair. I don't know if this was a race they won that particular year but I do know they have won the race, running in that category on at least one, probably a couple times for that matter. The odds that you might possibly see and meet Howie -usually are pretty good on race day that he'll be there -most likely with his son, Carl, racing with him now though. Anna's in college now -geez, the way time flies, she might even have graduated college by now! I'm getting really old -fast!

Here's another view of the Red Mo from the Peale bridge. This is looking downstream -towards the rapids ahead and the Moshannon bridge where the Red Moshannon converges with the Black Moshannon Creek. Shortly after the two streams come together at the foot of Cooper Mountain, the stream then dumps into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. (That would be the photo you see at the very top right hand corner of my blog, ya know. Just telling ya'll, so you know!)

This is also something you WON'T see on your way to the bridge -you'll have to come back another time to visit Peale to see this. But if you were to cross the bridge and drive up the really steep, very rutted road, known here as Tunnelside Hill Road, as you near the top, you will see the remains of railroad trackage. Park your car, and walk down along the track about a half mile perhaps -heading east -and you'll come to this sight - the Peale Railroad Tunnel. It really is quite an awesome sight to behold -and a very pretty walk with a great overview of the forest around there too.



This sight is one you will pass as you are coming down the Red Mo, almost to the end of the race at the Moshannon Bridge! The shot is taken from the bridge, looking upstream, so if you're running the race, you'll of course, see this from a reverse angle. If you're at the bridge, waiting for the competitors to arrive, this might be the view you would see then from there as they finish up the race. Just to the left on the picture, is the Black Moshannon creek, barely visible, but this is where the two streams come together and reform as one - the Moshannon Creek.

Here's the way the bridge looks these days as you look west on Route 53 -that's Cooper mountain the road is just starting to climb there as soon as you cross over that bridge. Until just a few years ago, the bridge across the creek here was an old iron bridge and most people in this region referred to it simply as that -"the iron bridge" and usually everyone knew you meant the one across the Moshannon creeks between Drifting and Moshannon. That bridge had so much more character and yes, beauty to it than this one does! The personality is now gone with the death of that old bridge. Too bad that they don't construct bridges that way any more, isn't it?



Here now is the end of my little tour -as well as the end of the Red Mo White Water Canoe/Kayak race, if you've been running it. This is the water below the Moshannon bridge -after the two Moshannon creeks -the Red Mo and the Black Mo -have joined up and this is just above where the stream will join into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

To me, this is some of the most beautiful countryside on this part of our big, beautiful planet. Of course, I do concede to the fact I am very partial, biased, yes -prejudiced -here in my opinion of this. But if you don't believe me, come out and visit and see it for yourself. It is really a beautiful sight to behold!

Good luck to all you canoers and kayakers as you tackle the always daunting run on the mighty Red Mo in the ghost town of Peale, PA later this morning! And, I promise too, I will keep an eye out in the local papers for the race results - hopefully, they will be published in one of the two crackerjack news reporting services available here!





Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crash Landing

I was rudely awakened this morning -at about 4 a.m. no less. The cause -the normal one -the grandson howling!

I thought at first if I ignored him, he might settle down on his own and go back to sleep but though there were a couple lulls in the crying at first, before long, he was letting out longer and louder cries so I got up with him. I decided I'd try giving him some more milk and see if that might be all he needed to quiet him, help him fall back to sleep. And it did quiet him for about 2 hours or almost 3 hours actually. Didn't put him back to sleep though so when he started fussing then right after Kate left for school, I changed him and decided to try a different line of attack with him.

I figured that since as soon as I eat something it tends to knock me out, make me very drowsy that maybe, just maybe, if I gave him more food this time it might just do the trick. So after giving him a change of undergarments, I brought him out, plunked him in the high chair and proceeded to give him a handfuls of a new dry cereal Mandy had got yesterday -mainly for Kate - Reese's Puffs -which are chocolate peanut butter flavored some kind of grain cereal.

He scarfed them up! Giving him a handful, letting him devour that much, then another handful, he ate at least a cup full of these little puff balls of cereal. When I gave him the last handful, I was in the midst then of commenting on someone's blog that it sure would be nice if when he finishes eating this stuff, I can maybe put him back in the playpen and he might just go to sleep and about that time, I glanced over at him and this is what I saw at that time.
Yep! My little sweetheart had done a "crash landing" on me! Note, he left one lonely chocolate-peanut butter puff laying there maybe intended as a reserve for when he woke up.

Very gently, I removed the tray and he started to wake up slightly but I managed to get him out and into the playpen where he then slept till about 10:45 or so! Meanwhile, Gram also hit the sofa and got myself another two hours of sleep then too! Ah, heaven!

This afternoon, my son came down and brought with him the orange cat, Nina. You may recall when Jorge entered the house, Nina was farmed out to go stay at Clate's house -at least for a while anyway, as having three cats here under this roof just didn't set very well with the SIL.

Maya saw Uncle Clate pull in out front and she also spied Nina in his arms first thing too. Jumping up and down, she was so excited, saying "He's bringing the Neener, he's got the Neener!" Clate and his roommate are doing some work to the bar top up at his house involving putting some kind of really wicked coating on it and if Nina had stayed up there over the next three days while this junk dries, they would have had to lock her in one of the bedrooms. And doing that, Clate felt would just be too hard on the cat and would drive her crazy -or crazier than she already is anyway. So he brought her back home here for the next couple of days then.

There's one other thing too and I really hate to talk about this but things have reached a point now with Gracie, the old cat, that Mandy has decided the time has come that Gracie goes to cat heaven. I know how attached Mandy is to sweet old Gracie, after all, we've had her for 16 1/2 years now and Mandy loves her dearly. But she is getting very senile, as well as very weak -has lost way too much weight over the past couple of months so she is just some matted fur over her bones -all or any of which you can feel when you try to pet her. Last night, when Mandy came home from getting some groceries, the front door was open a short time as they carried the bags in and during that time, both Gracie and Jorge had snuck outside. It was at least an hour that they had been out before we discovered both of them were missing and there's no way one can find a black cat, hiding under trees or rocks in the pitch black dark of night. Although I went to the door several times after that before I lay down about 2 a.m., neither cat responded to my calls for them. Then, this morning, Mandy found Gracie off to the side of the front porch, hiding there. She was all curled up but still very, very cold as she has no meat under that fur coat now to help keep her warm if she's outside you know. When Mandy brought her back inside, she was shaking, shivering and if she tried to stand up, she was wobbly and falling over and that is what did it for Mandy then as it was obvious to her that Gracie's time is very near. She was going to see if the vet in Clearfield would put her down today but then set up an appointment in State College where the vet and his staff there are familiar with Gracie, know her issues and medical problems and so the time has been set if she makes it that long till this coming Thursday that Gracie will be leaving us -forever. A very good family friend of ours, Anne Marie, is going to ride over with Mandy to take Gracie to the vet and older daughter will then meet them at the vet's office so they can both then be with Gracie and say their goodbyes to our beautiful and very, very sweet, good old cat. She's been the bestest cat ever to live with us, stayed the longest and well, beyond that, the only other thing I can say is that I know we are really going to miss her -very, very much!

Now - I'm off to fix supper!

Out of Control!

I'm quite sure I'm not the only one -or our family is far from alone right now -facing the ever increasing rise in gas and fuel prices. This is quickly eating away at our household expenses and creating total havoc in trying to set up and maintain any semblance of a budget for us.

My son-in-law, daughter and I each have a vehicle of our own -all of which, thankfully, are paid for too. Of course, that also means each vehicle is far from being new too and that means they may not be the best for fuel economy. But, when trying to balance having the number of vehicles we need against the disposable income available, buying used cars of questionable fuel economy is a luxury we can't afford.

And at the rate gas prices are rising, getting to and from work is liable to become a luxury that is unaffordable too in the near future.

Just running the furnace to keep the house at a warm -barely - temperature and providing hot water for bathing purposes is rapidly becoming very much of a luxury as well. Our fuel tank for the furnace here, which heats the house and our hot water simultaneously, has not had more than 100 gallons put into it at a click in close to two years now simply because we have not been able to afford to fill the tank and pay for that all at the same time. Even at that rate, getting a delivery of 100 gallons at a time has meant the cash outlay of over $300 each time we've ordered fuel.

This week, Mandy and Bill got their tax refund check and since we need to have more oil delivered, when she called yesterday to order oil, she thought perhaps she could get the tank filled completely for a change. That is, until she found out how much it would cost to have it filled. The price to fill the tank to capacity -about 275 gallons I believe -would have cost her over $800. And that, she decided was more than she wanted to use of their tax refund at this point in time. Getting a delivery of 100 gallons will take us through now till probably the end of May, provided April and May aren't too harsh, temperature-wise.

But this expense is absolutely obscene!

As much as we struggle to buy the fuel for the furnace and have enough left to put gas in the vehicles so Mandy and Bill can get back and forth to work, how on earth can those who have only one income and who are at the very bottom of the pay scales be expected to cover the cost of the roof over their heads -rent or a meager mortgage (if such a thing does in fact even exist today)- and then cover heating their homes and manage to get back and forth to a job -if that job even stays in existence with the ever increasing fuel prices today?

We've been told there are various reasons why the gas and heating oil is increasing this way - the war, OPEC, gas-guzzler vehicles, people just wasting gas by not car pooling or using public transportation and not controlling the heat levels too in their homes. We've also been told that some of the fault for these increases too lies in the oil refineries that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. All plausible excuses, I suppose.

However, what I don't understand is this: how can the oil companies keep increasing the costs to the consumers and still be reporting record profits at the same time? To my way of thinking and understanding, if the oil companies are struggling to keep afloat due to increased costs by OPEC or because of expenses in rebuilding from Katrina, then why are they reporting also these record profits too?

If I have "x" number of expenses that MUST be paid out each month, and something happens to break down in the house -requiring a large outlay to make the repairs, those repairs must be paid for out of what income is available or a loan must be secured to cover the expense. If that leaves less money available then -which of course it will -to cover other expenses such as clothing or medical bills or just general operating expenses, the majority of us will forgo purchasing anything that is not considered to be an absolute necessity, for openers. Plus, very few people have the luxury of being able to turn to their employer and request an increase in wages every time the oil companies raise the prices of gas and fuel oil.

But that doesn't seem to be an issue for the oil companies who keep telling us the rise in the fuel prices is due to OPEC or repairs needed because of Katrina. It sure doesn't seem to have them tightening their budgets and certainly is not apparently affecting their bottom line -that good old profit to their stockholders, does it?

How long can the country, the people here, continue to be held hostage by the oil companies?

At the rate we are going now, the incessant rise in gas prices is going to keep increasing food costs, housing costs, manufacturing costs and to cover those expenses, people or businesses are going to cut back more and more and more until there is nothing left to cut back, and what happens then?

I don't know how others feel about this -especially about the incongruity between gas prices to the consumer and the record profits oil companies are showing -but unless something drastic takes place -and very soon - I really fear this country is heading towards a major financial disaster and possibly even a total collapse of our economy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More of "The Dubya"

Trying to get computer time around this place sometimes is a little difficult. Yesterday, I repeatedly got bumped off because my SIL wanted to search for some car parts he needs to order and Mandy then wanted time to talk to her friends. Then, my wacky sleep patterns put me out of the lineup when I fell asleep around 11:30 p.m. and now, here it is 3 a.m. and I'm awake -darn that anyway -but I figured I best take advantage of being awake and the computer being free from other users for now too.

So, with all that being said, here then are this week's Bushisms.

Monday, March 24, 2008 302 days left

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere."
--At the Radio & Television Correspondents dinner, showing a photo of himself looking under his desk, March 244, 2004.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 -- 301 days left

"In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible --whatever that means. No, I am going to --one of the things that I think is very important for people to understand is that I believe that we have a duty to work on big problems in Washington, D.C. and so I'm going to continue working on this. And it's, I guess--I'm not going to go away on the issue, because the issue is not going to go away."
--Washington, D.C., March 2005

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 -- 300 days left

"Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Jahmi. She's a local government official who was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy."
--Paying homage to Fathi Jahmi, who is male, Washington, D.C., March 2004

Thursday, March 27, 2008 -- 299 days left

"We'll be a great country where the fabrics are made up of group and loving centers. "
--Kalamazoo, Michigan, March 27, 2001

Friday, March 28, 2008 --298 days left

"Reading is the basics for all learning."
--Reston, Virginia, March 28, 2000

Saturday and Sunday, March 29/30, 2008 - 297 days left and 296 days left

"I've coined new words, like 'misunderstanding' and 'Hispanically."
-- Radio & Television Correspondents' Dinner, March 29, 2001

Hope all had a Happy Easter. Now, maybe I'll go back to bed -cover up my head - and all the rest of that little jingle (which I don't remember right now or you'd probably be reading it here.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Surprise Visitor

Saturday evening brought a surprise visitor to our house. Isn't he just the cutest little thing though?
Yep - the Easter Bunny came to call here! He lives up the street from us with friends, Al and Patti and their family. Patti had phoned me the other day to ask if I thought Maya would like to see a "real" bunny, cause they had one at their place and I thought this would be a really nice surprise to have the Bunny come calling.
Here's Maya -checking that little bunny out. (Pay no attention to all the background rubble in these photos -sometimes, there's even more junk sitting on that chest in front of the window!)
Maya wasn't quite sure though if she wanted to hold him -or even touch him -at first, but she soon got over that little bit of fear!
He sure was a nice, soft and very friendly little visitor as Maya quickly found out!
Kurtis and even Katie had to check out this little furry fellow too!
Many, many thanks to Patti for bringing the bunny down for a visit. Both the kids enjoyed that -especially Maya!

And thanks to all of my blogging friends too for the kind words yesterday when I was not having the best of days. I managed to get about five and a half hours of sleep -totally uninterrupted, I might add -and felt much better after that. But all the blogger good wishes sure helped a lot, ya know!

Now, it's time for me to get dressed and ready to head out early this morning for the sunrise services and Easter breakfast this morning at our church. I have to confess, I haven't been to a Sunrise service in many, many years! As many of you know, frequently I'm just hitting the old sack at this time of day -not up, getting ready to venture out. And the Easter breakfast -well I don't think I've managed to get to services for that since my kids were really little and we all know, that was a long, long time ago!

Hope all of you have a very Happy Easter now too. Hope the Easter Bunny won't have too much trouble getting around here with all the snow we got yesterday too. Sure will help HIM to hide won't it?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Blahs -or is it "The Blues?"

I don't know why but lately I'm just not into ANYTHING. My energy levels are in dire need of some amphetimines -send some dexitrin or deximil or whatever the new drug of choice is for a quick high! (I could really go for a nice "Christmas Tree.") I know part of the problem is my sleep pattern -which is basically non-existant but it isn't really that I don't get sleep - just don't get enough straight through to do any real good.

But I don't have any zip about other things now either. I have no desire to cook or bake and if I didn't have to cook supper most every day for the family, I would or could be perfectly content to live on eating toasted bagels with butter and cream cheese and follow that meal with a couple of peanut butter eggs for dessert. Maybe if I just ate the bagels and topping and skipped eating supper (on the days I actually do cook), it would provide some weight loss -much needed weight loss I might add -and that might perk me up a little bit then. The girth is something that does drag me down a good bit - literally and figuratively.

I read the blogs on my reader and even though I rarely read a post I don't enjoy, I don't usually have any impetus to post a comment. So not like me to do that! Usually, other bloggers probably cringe when they see my name on a comment as writing a mini-novel in the comments section sometimes does seem to appeal to me.

Even writing posts doesn't hold any real appeal to me a lot of the time. Other than trying to figure a way to tie in something to some cute picture of my grandkids or some comment Miss Maya made yesterday or the day before, I'm just not there, for lack of a better way to describe it.

I'm bored. I'm broke most of the time -except for about around the 3rd of every month and for may up to two or three days after that date. (That's when my SS check arrives ya know.) I know too part of my problem stems from another factor, one that I deal with periodically -it has it ebbs and flows -and that's depression.

I have a new health concern now -which I had hoped I would have some more idea as to what is going on, what my doctor recommends - by now, but I don't. I had an appointment last week with a surgeon -had to see him because my routine CAT scan revealed I have a hernia. He's not sure if doing surgery to repair the hernia is the best route to take since he says they frequently return when one has a colostomy - or if maybe doing a reversal of the colostomy might be the better choice to make. Either way, it's going to involve I guess some major abdominal surgery and I really don't want to go through that again either.

I'm a recluse too and that depresses me and yet, there aren't many things that will get me forced into dragging my fat self out of the house and into the public much of the time. I've not always been reclusive -used to love to just pick up and go, whenever, wherever I wanted to go -well, within a lot of boundaries placed there always by economics. God, I HATE economics! Well, mainly I just hate being financially repressed and stressed all my damned life.

I am depressed because I am unable to work now. No, that's not totally true as there are some things I think I could do however, finding an employer who would allow me to try to work at some of the things I am capable of doing -well, that's the real depressing thing there! In this area, the only employers who think I have a talent to do anything in their place are those who would require that I be able to be very physically active and that, well that I CAN'T do! I have physical issues that do interfere in that respect. I'd like to think I can still think, still function somewhat, semi-intellectually, that I have some modicum of intelligence still left in my pea brain but apparently that aspect all left me many, many years ago. Apparently it left me before I managed to go to college, get a B.S. at the grand old age of 50 but because most of my work experience prior to going to college involved either lovely food service or menial office work, how could I possibly be expected then to be qualified to use this lovely degree I'd acquired -at massive expense covered by massive student loans too! That is a really bitter pill for me to swallow -well it was after I graduated in 1994 and 14 years later, the bitterness still has not dissipated for me. But no, of course, there is no such thing as Age discrimination is there?

My social life - never one to set the world on fire to begin with - is totally non-existent these days. The last relationship I had ended 10 years ago this year and to be honest, there isn't a day that goes by, still, that I don't think about him and wonder what the hell happened there? Now, with the medical issues I have had over the past five years, the weight problems, even the sleep issues too that contribute much, I know, to my general feelings -physical and emotional alike -much as I'd like to be able to meet someone and even just have a friendship-relationship -nothing more than that - there's never been anyone in this area, in the village, the township or even within the county -that is now or was interested in the past in cultivating that type of relationship with me. (That's gospel there -every relationship I ever had was with someone from well away from this area!)

There is a term for some of these feelings - I can't remember now the name of the theory but it's a psychological theory posited years ago by some shrink, that some people believe this, therefore this will happen, then that will happen. Ok, I just remembered the name of the theory - the "ABC Theory" just can't remember the name of the guy who wrote it up. (I need to dig out some of my old textbooks and re-read his position about that I guess.)

Don't get me wrong when I say this -those of you who have been reading my blog know how I feel about my grandchildren - especially Miss Maya and the little Duke, Kurtis too - as well as my older grandson and my kids too - I love each of them dearly, would do anything within my power to help them in any way possible too. But -yeah, there's always a freaking "but" to everything, isn't there -part of me says to me "Isn't there maybe just a little bit more to life too?"

Tonight, I saw while reading my faves that one of my all-time favorite bloggers has gone into seclusion -took done her blog, she did! I hate to see that happen because she's been one of the bloggers who has been with me shortly after I started my blog and I really enjoy her place. She's the only fellow blogger I've ever spoken to on the phone too - well actually two bloggers I've talked to -her and her husband. She's probably one of the few people too who can comprehend the way I feel sometimes, deep down inside me. So, I'm hoping she'll not take a complete early retirement but maybe just a blogging vacation and then, return soon, bigger and better than ever. I sure hope so anyway, cause Barb, I already miss your not being around to read and comment and post goofy "quickies" and some darned good, serious material posts too!

I think this will pass for me -it has in the past anyway. Well, okay -granted it's never gone away completely but after a while, the fog lifts away from some of the mental junk and I come back to life till the next go-round.

But until it lifts, just don't expect much from this end of my little world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dog Lovers

I noticed the other day my daughter, Mandy, had purchased a new book. She -like her parents -loves to read so the fact she'd bought a new book wasn't all that big a surprise. The title and topic though -well, that did kind of surprise me.

I'd heard of this book before -had considered buying it too. But I think I backed off because getting the latest Jodi Picoult book seemed to take precedence in my general book buying schemes.

But this book that Mandy had bought, I had actually communicated with the author at least once, maybe twice three years ago this coming August or September. That was back in the days after our state legislature had passed themselves a huge pay raise in July of 2005 and I spent the better part of 2005 and almost all of 2006, highly jacked over that deal and also, involved with a grassroots organization here in Pennsylvania -PACleansweep.com.

No, this book isn't about politics -not at all -but the author, John Grogan, who is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, had written some terrific columns about the issues with this obnoxious pay raise and I had e-mailed him to commend him on his writings. So, when I had initially seen this book, Marley and Me, by John Grogan, and knowing what a gift he has for writing serious pieces but usually able to throw a few twists -sometimes more than a few -of humor into his work, I thought this book might be an interesting piece to read. By why Mandy decided to buy it, I really don't know. If the animal on the cover had been a cat, I could readily have understood her decision but she knew though she understood this dog, Marley, was the theme of the book, the fact she had no clue about the author didn't have any bearing on her choice like it would have had for me.

She whizzed through the book in about two days and turned it over to me. I read it in just under 24 hours and we both loved it. I do mean LOVED IT! A book that can create laughter and then tears -on the same page and on several occasions throughout the writing -definitely is a great book in my mind, and I'm quite sure Mandy would agree with me in that respect too.

But after reading it, I found myself thinking about all the animals that have made a home with me or with me and my kids too over the years. And in some of the pets we've had, there were a lot of things that made some of our pets akin to Marley - John Grogan's fantastic dog.

I come from a long line of dog lovers -and a goodly number of cat lovers too, for that matter. Ah Shucks, if you come right down to it, I suppose it would be easier to say I'm descended from a long, long line of animal lovers of most any type.

Over the years when I was growing up, we had two different dogs - Lady, part collie, part shepherd who was a great watchdog but hated paperboys and all my friends were terrified of her because she sounded very mean when someone came knocking on our door. We had her for twelve years until she died after my grandpa passed away. We believed -I still do - that she mourned him and in doing so, she stopped eating and died six weeks after he did. Lady was followed by Duffy, who was in all respects MY dog! Duffy went any place he could possibly go to follow me, including riding up and down these hills in town in the basket on the front of my bicycle.

When my ex and I moved back here, we had several dogs -and cats too. There was an airdale/beagle mix named Harvey, two mutts that were brothers, Shep and Willie. A big dog, obviously with a lot of golden retriever blood in her wandered in here and the kids adopted her, naming her Cactus who we had for about a year and then, she just wandered away as quietly as she had arrived. Willie was quite the romeo too and at one time, managed to get his behind filled with buckshot apparently being caught in the act of romancing someone else's dog. After that, he brought his girlfriends home with him as a very pretty German Shepherd mix that the kids named Sheba, followed him home and presented the kids and I with a littler of six puppies that she gave birth to under my bed, on New Year's Day morning of 1981. (There was a weird thing to awake to and I was really glad I hadn't done all that much celebrating the night before too when I woke up to find her and those puppies under my bed.) After Sheba there was Fred, one of that litter born under my bed and Fred was followed by another collie/shepherd mix we named Caesar. The last dog we had for about two years was Hercules and he was by far and away the most destructive dog I've ever seen as well as being capable of depositing by far and away, the largest piles of doggie poo I swear I have ever encountered.

Hercules once spied a little cloth bag containing rice - a rice pack my aunt had made and sent me intended to be used by heating it in the microwave and then placing it on arthritic joints - and he snagged it off the kitchen table, ripped a tiny hole in the fabric and then proceeded to shake all the contents -dry rice -out all over the downstairs of the house. Although this pack only contained one cup of rice, it is absolutely incredible just how much floor space can be covered by that one little cup of rice! He also got into a bag of yarn I had too one time and unraveled a big skein of yarn and then dragged that yarn throughout the living room and dining room, looping it in and around every chair and table leg so that when I came home from work that night, I had a labyrinth of yarn criss-crossing the length and width of the living room and dining room to untangle.

We've also had several cats over the past 30 some years too - from a black cat named Aces, followed by a white cat named Frosty. Then there were three cats -one solid gray, a grey-black tabby and a black and white spotted cat -whose names I can't for the life of me recall right now. There was Luther - our first orange cat that Carrie found while on a hike in the woods with our church youth group, then a black and grey cat the kids brought home that was here in the house for three weeks before I realized we had two identical cats here. The kids named that one Ben and he died after his acrobatic escapades in the basement caused him to fall, striking his head on the washer/dryer and he broke his neck. There was also a really sweet little kitten we had for about 3-4 weeks named Jellybean who had the misfortune of leaving the house and being hit by a car in front of the house. Then there was a very pretty white cat with grey and pinkish markings -a very furry almost persian type fur -that Mandy named "Pud -ley" who disappeared and we later learned that our next door neighbor had kidnapped her and carted her off to his parents farm in an county about 90 miles from here. George was an orange cat that belonged to my ex-sister-in-law's little sister and he took a shine to my son, following him home all the time till he just sort of became ours by default. George was the destructive cat -shredding the screen on the back door to the kitchen by flinging himself from the deck to the screen and then letting his claws rip the screen to bits and pieces - just to let us know he was home and wanted in the house! Gracie came along back in the fall of 1991 as the prettiest little black calico furball you'd ever hope to see and she's still here with us -feeble-minded now, yes, failing in other ways too but until we are absolutely forced into it, we won't have her put down. Nina was here for almost a year until she went to become a mouser for my son and his roommate when we acquired Jorge - the supposedly male cat but who it turned out is actually female and is the one who has been driving me and the rest of the family bonkers because she is in heat and wailing and howling loudly. Since she escaped yesterday for a couple hours and snuck out today when the wind blew the front door open and I wasn't aware of the escape hatch being opened up again, I will bet money we will no doubt have kittens available in a couple months -free for the taking. Considering Jorge's actions, the crying and rolling around, driving us nuts and her managing to slither out and becoming the neighborhood slut, I'm thinking now perhaps we should think about changing the spelling of her name from "Jorge" to "Whore-hay" cause she sure is doing a lot of that the past two days!

And there you have it - the rundown of the many and various cats and dogs my kids and I have had over the years. And in reading this book - "Marley and Me" there were so many parts relating escapades of Mr. Grogan's dog Marley that took me back in time to remembering some of the antics and causes for visits to the vet -or annoyances put upon our friends and neighbors too -that our pets have done over the years. Brought back lots of memories there it did.

Mr. Grogan's style of writing and telling the stories about Marley though are such that at the beginning of a paragraph, he will have you smiling, the a quiet giggle, often leading you into a big laugh that you can't contain inside you and end the paragraph having you in tears too about this dog and his actions and reactions.

Whether you're a dog, cat or any other type of animal lover or not, I'm betting that anyone reading this book will come away with the same reaction and response to it that Mandy and I both did.

I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone - any age too! Absolutely, it's a "Thumbs up" read! Don't believe me? Go get a copy yourself and you'll see. Trust me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Extensions

It's been another loooonnnnggg day today -long in the need of those darned earplugs! Right at the immediate moment, as I am typing this, the cat is finally quiet. But I'm quite sure it won't be for very long. Over the past three days now, we have been treated to some of the most god-aweful, painful sounding crying on the part of this poor cat, it's almost enough to get me convinced to open the door and let her out to go slutting around. But then, wiser parts of me come forward and remind me of the consequences I'd have to deal with if I did such actions.

NO! I DO NOT NEED KITTENS! So, little Jorge, for the time being, your just going to have to adapt, get used to being inside ALL the time. Besides, I don't want the cats -either one -left outside as there's just too much risk involved in other aspects then -like cars and cats splattered on the road. Just for openers.

While looking through some of the photo folders I have on the computer, I came across one tonight that I wasn't aware existed. (Having two digital cameras in the house now, occasionally Kate downloads some of her photos into my folders but doesn't always tell me about it.) Anyway, this happens to be a video she did with her camera. I haven't gotten up to trying to do anything like that as yet. This had to have been done the end of January because the two middle stepgrandkids are in it and they were all down in the basement, "jamming" it appears -or teaching Maya how to dance anyway. I just thought it was pretty cute though and decided I'd share it here.

video

Maya's vocabulary seems to be exploding lately. Rarely does a day go by now that she doesn't have something new added there. Frequently too, when she's heard a new word at school -or at home -she's asks us too "How you spell that?' She picks up so many things that we aren't aware she now knows that she constantly amazes us. It's a bit scary too at times because often we forget she's around and is a little parrot -those little pitchers with big ears ya know - and some of the words that get tossed about, well suffice it to say, we really do need to watch what we say now more than ever.

One thing she has added recently, and which I initially thought was really comical, was that since she imitates a lot of things Mandy says, and Mandy frequently refers to Maya as "Hon" at times, especially when she is giving her some gentle discipline or admonitions. But last night, while I was cooking supper and Maya came out to join me, watch me, talk to me, I decided I wasn't all that crazy about being called "Hun" every time I turned around. Especially when I was trying to convince her that she should go start picking up her toys she had scattered all over the living room floor and she told me "No, no. I can't do that now, Hon." The it was "What are you making, Hon?" "Mac'n'cheese" I told her - the extra meal for her and Kurtis since I knew she wouldn't touch the day-late St. Patrick's Day feast of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatos. (That's the thing I had told Mandy about two months or so back that I never would have done that -fixing a separate entre -when she and her siblings were kids. House rules then were whatever was on the table, you ate! No ifs, ands or buts, about it.) But now, I stock up on boxes of pasta sides -rice-a-roni, mac'n'cheese, those spaghetti specialty things too, or flavored noodle offerings -so there will be something there to satisfy the little pasta craving tastebuds, ya know.)

Anyway, between her and the "hon" thing and the cat, I really needed a break after supper!

Now, some breaking news here too - a few minutes ago, I heard a car coming down the road, could see the headlights but it seemed to have stopped someplace so I went to the front door to open it and see what the heck was happening. Apparently it was someone waiting on the road to pick up our neighbor a couple doors up the street to go to work. While I was doing that, I didn't notice until it was way too late but the slut cat here was by my feet and managed to push the storm door ajar a bit more and out and away she went! If we're lucky - which somehow I doubt we will be, as that would really be pushing our luck, she'll return without having found some lovely Tomcat someplace. Dang, it all anyway.

Stay tuned -maybe we'll be having more extensions -not of words, but of little furballs to the house in the near future. Hope I'm just counting my kittens before they form though.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Send EARPLUGS! PLEASE!!!

Things are happening around here and if we aren't really careful, I fear we're gonna be really sorry sometime in the near future.


Jorge is on the prowl, searching for something. In every nook and cranny she can find, but so far, I don't THINK she's found what she's looking for. Here, she almost got into trouble trying to regain her footing, climbing up on the radiator where Mandy had some jeans drying.



What's the deal? I really thought I'd surely find what I'm looking for here but nope, no dice.

Have you figured out yet what Jorge is looking for? Keep in mind, this cat is still partially a kitten -not fully grown -not exactly, not yet but she's close enough to be fully grown that as she wanders throughout the house, up in the front window, trying to climb the screens in the bow window, she's also constantly crying, mewling, wailing, darned near sobbing -if cats can do that. And, after listening to her incessant noise-making all day today and all night too, I'm about ready to go out looking for some darned Tomcat and bring it home for her, just to shush her up a bit! Matter of fact, even Mandy -who is notorious for LOVING every thing cats dow, regarding all their actions as being sweet and oh, so cute -well, tonight, Mandy was about ready to pick up a shoe and pitch it in Jorge's direction I think, if she thought it would shut the poor cat up!

Most definitely, as soon as the income tax refund check arrives, the vets gets a call for Jorge to be seen and be given a bit of surgery to render her non-productive -EVER! And hopefully, that will eliminate the activities we've had to listen to, being replayed over and over for us too.

In the meantime though, please send me some good earplugs, will ya?

Yeah, if you look really closely here at Mandy, I think you can almost pick up on the look in her eyes - that look of displeasure -and when she gets it, it often seems like her eyes have changed color from the pretty blue they really are to a flashing black - just like her dad's do too when he gets really angry and upset. Yep, she's his daughter for sure in that respect!

Or maybe she was just thinking, trying to remember where she left a pair of shoes or slippers that they might be handy to grab and heave them in Jorge's direction. Could be, could be.


Yeah, this whole issue even has Kurtis upset too. Or maybe he's just worried that Jorge is about to spy the English muffin he has in one hand and the half a bagel with cream cheese on it he's holding in the other and that Jorge's gonna suddenly leap up at him and try to snatch one or the other out of his hot little hands. Trust me when I tell you this, he's one very testy little fellow where his food is concerned -especially when it is something like a bagel with cream cheese on it. You definitely don't want to try to come between him and his beloved bagel then!

Here's one person in the household who isn't the least bit bothered by Jorge's loud whining, crying, bawling, moaning, you name it noises! Nope, not at all. Miss Maya just pulled out her napsack, spread it on the floor and curled up on it and went to sleep, nice as can be. Just look how peaceful she is there. Doesn't she just look the complete image of being just the sweetest little angel though? Be careful answering that last question there because appearances can be extremely deceiving and don't I just know it too as I wander through the house stopping to clean up at least six blobs of toothpaste dropped in six different locations with only one big smear of the stuff on the bathroom vanity!

Just a few of the reasons that make me wanna do this!!! And I think that's exactly what I'm gonna try and do now too! Nite all. Sleep tight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Time for the Kickoff



I finally got our page set up for our team -ready and waiting now for people to come by, click in, sign up to walk with us or to donate to a very worthy cause - Autism Speaks.

My kids and I had a team - Maya's Team - last year and we walked in the 3K walk over in State College for the Autism Speaks organization. We raised, in total, a little over $2,000 that went towards research about the disorder, Autism -finding out what causes it and also, learning more about ways to help those who have the disorder.

My granddaughter - Maya - was diagnosed a year ago with autism and her little brother, Kurtis, was just diagnosed last week as also having Autism - so quite naturally, my family - ALL of us - feel very strongly about helping to support the Autism Speaks organization. This year, we will have a team participating once again in the walk -to be held on April 12th, at State College, PA.

Here's a picture of "Maya's Team" from last year's event.
Front row: daughter, Carrie, Amie Mather, grandson Alex, Stepgranddaughter, Sierra and my good friend, Sharon Rolley. Back rows: Robert Brickley, son, Clate, Lois (a co-worker of daughter Mandy's), daughter Mandy and Kerri Cowfer, the behavior/play therapist Maya had and who now works with Kurtis.

This year, so far, here's who has promised to walk with us: Me, Mandy - Miss Maya too and grandson, Alex, daughter Carrie and her fiance, Robert, son Clate and his girlfriend Teresa and a friend of ours from church, Denise Shimmel. We're hoping that a few more will come forward and sign on to walk with us too though.

I know I mentioned last week about this walk and that I would be posting further information about it and how anyone can donate to our team - help us as we walk to try to put the donations over the top. Well tonight, I have the website available now where you can click in, locate our team and if you are of a mind to help us out, make your donation right there, online! Easy as pie!

This is the website:

http://events.autismspeaks.org/site/c.jvKSL7MTIwG/b.3884743/


Once you are there, you can scroll down the right side of the page and near the bottom is a place where you can search for the team name (ours) to make a donation towards our efforts. The name of our team is: "WE ARE for Kurt and Maya"

And I have a little surprise too - the first person who donates to our team and who did so from reading this page on my blog -will win a little surprise gift too! Just make sure you leave a comment on my blog telling me you donated and as soon as I get the confirmation from Autism Speaks, I'll contact you for your mail address and will be sending this gift your way!

Thanks a whole bunch from my kids and from me but mostly from Maya and Kurtis for your support!



Now, I have a little story for you too - about Maya. Sunday morning, Mandy and Maya went to church. They were seated directly behind our next-door neighbor, Deb and her daughter, Kylie. Mandy always takes some little things -a tiny book or two, crayons, paper to draw on, maybe even a sandwich bag with some cheerios too -to keep Maya quiet and relatively calm and settled during the service.

Today, Maya had the paper and crayons and was drawing. She had drawn four items - kind of looked like boxes across the top of the page and each box then also had stripes drawn on them. She proudly showed her artwork to Kylie but she had no idea what this was supposed to be so Kylie had asked Mandy, "What is it?" Mandy said she was as confused as Kylie was so she asked Maya what that picture was of that she'd drawn there. Maya's reply -in a tone that implied she couldn't believe her Mom and Kylie didn't recognize this art work -"Elephants!" Why sure they are!

Guess that will teach Mandy and Kylie to check closer on Maya's artwork before they ask her to identify things, huh?

A Few More "Bushisms"

My apologies for being so late in posting these today. It's been a long day -filled partly with me feeling like total crapola for most of the day, then cooking supper and after that, working on getting our page up on the Autism Walk Site and sending out notices to everyone and their brother begging for support, donations, more people willing to come walk with us on April 12th.

So, that's my excuse and since I don't have any others -or can't think of anything else right now, that'll be the story I'm sticking with -for tonight anyway!

Now, without further adieu, here's this week's batch of Bushisms!

Monday, March 17, 2008 --309 days left (Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day too!)

"I like the idea of people running for office. There's a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America. I don't know, I don't know if that will be their platform or not. But it's -- I don't think so. I think people who generally run for office say, vote for me, I'm looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table."
--Washington, D.C., March 2005, about the Middle East Elections.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 --308 days left.

"If we're going to spend federal money, we expect the states to show us whether or not we're achieving simple objectives --like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write."
--Washington, D.C., April 2005

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 --307 days left

The war in Iraq began on this day in 2003. As of January 1, 2007, at least 3,000 U.S. Troops have died in Iraq.
-March 19, 2003

Thursday, March 20, 2008 --306 Days Left

"No question that the enemy has tried to spread sectarian violence. They use violence as a tool to do that."
--Washington, D.C. March 2006

Friday, March 21, 2008 305 days left

"If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon they could proliferate."
--Washington, D.C. March 21, 2006

Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, 2008 - 304 days left and 303 days left

"We've tripled the amount of money --I believe it'ps from $50 million up to $195 million available."
--Lima, Peru, March 23, 2002

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wishing on a Star

Make A Wish Meme

Our good blogger buddy, Linda, has put up a new meme - Wishing Upon A Star - even offers to make you the badge to display for it if you're like me and a bit -ok, a whole lot in my case -technically impaired and can't figure out how to do the badge up.

But anyway -here's what I wish for if I'm wishing on stars. (Most of the time, when it comes to "wishing" I generally adhere to the old adage "Wish on one hand and S**t in the other and see which one fills up first" -which gives you a bit of an idea I suppose of how successful I've been over the years in the "wishing" department.

This wish -unless I start buying lottery tickets and hit one for a super lottery - will always be just a dream of mine though as there is no way I could ever scrounge up enough money unless I suddenly start getting lots of pay-per-post opportunities or some of these other "Paying"ventures somehow magically start to earn me big, BIG bucks and even then, I would have to live as long as did that the guy in the Old Testament - I know his name but can't for the life of me spell it but he lived to be 800 or 900 plus years, ya know, and that's about how long it would take me to save enough buckaroos to fulfill my wish.

Why is it something that I dream about, wish for this to happen anyway, you ask? What exactly would be so special about taking a trip to Sweden and also, to Scotland?L

Well, both of my Dad's parents were born in Scotland -in Lanarkshire -and they came to this country as very young children back between 1870 and 1878 - and I'd love to be able to do some research pertaining to my ancestry in that country.

My maternal grandfather was born in Sweden - in Dahlsland in a little area known as Bolstad - and since I grew up with my maternal grandparents, I often listened to my Grandpa and his older brother - my Great-uncle Erick -talk about their homeland, the house where the family had lived, remembering the bad things like being so poor that their parents had no money for shoes so from fall throughout the winter and until warm weather set in again in the spring, they couldn't leave the house as they had no shoes to wear. But to Grandpa and Uncle Erick, this was like a treasured memory the way they talked about that and so many other things.

I'm really interested in family tree research and I lucked out shortly after I got my first computer when a friend of mine connected me with a lady in Sweden who copied the church records of my ancestry on most of my Grandpa's family. Through those records, I was eventually able to figure out who was the direct ancestor and thus, trace my roots clear back to the early 1600's in Sweden. I was amazed when I was able to do that as I had figured that considering my great-grandparents were poor as the proverbial church mice so how could I ever expect to be able to trace anyone living in that kind of abject poverty, you know. But a king of Sweden back in the early 1600's had a lot of foresight and as such, had made it a law that all the ministers of the churches in Sweden HAD to keep records -name, age, parentage, and the like, of every one in each parish and that's how I was able to get records about Grandpa's lineage.

A few of my Mom's first cousins have visited Sweden and recently -oh within the past 8-10 years now -a cousin of my generation (third cousin -her Dad and my Mom were first cousins) and her husband visited Sweden, toured the little town where our ancestors had lived, worked and came back with lots of pictures and some wonderful memories of their trip.

As much as I love reading some of the bloggers on my favorites list, on my reader, (two from Norway now and one from Sweden) and seeing the beautiful photos they often post of my ancestral land, I'm inclined to use another old adage -"I'd give my right eye tooth" to be able to go and see the sights, walk where Grandpa and his parents, grandparents and way, way back before them once walked too. But technically, I can't really use that expression about the "right eye tooth" now because I no longer have the right one -or the left one either for that matter. Do you think that really would make a big difference though in the general scheme of things?L

But anyway, that's my wish - a nice trip abroad to tour Lanarkshire in Scotland and Bolstad in Dahlsland, Sweden -maybe even meet some really distant relatives there too while on my grande tour!

If anyone reading this would like to take a trip to these countries and has oodles and oodles of money to burn and who would like a congenial traveling companion too (ME) to fund my dream and see it come true, please feel free to contact me immediately as getting a passport should be no problem for me and packing my bags - well, I could have that done in a heartbeat for the opportunity to make just such a trip as this!

Taksa micka! (I suppose there are some of those little marks you're supposed to put over some of the letters in that sentence there -don't have a clue if it is spelled correctly otherwise or not -it's my phonetic interpretation of "Thank you" in Swedish!

Now, it's everyone's turn here to do the "Make a Wish Meme!" Let's hear it folks -what do you wish for when YOU wish upon a star?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Telling Tales

Boy, I've been somewhat "out of the loop" the past couple of days -almost all week really, as I just realized tonight that I hadn't done many real posts this week. I've been reading blogs -using Google reader -but that doesn't register on people's sitemeters that I've been around to visit, does it. Unless that is, I click into the blog and comment and I've even been pretty much a lurker this past week too.

Trust me when I tell you all this, it is no reflection on the content any of you have posted that I didn't comment - more just that I've been in my own little world here the bulk of this week and just quiet I guess. There are times when I just seem to lose my blogging voice, for lack of a better description I guess.

Part of this is because I was engrossed in a little project here -knitting a little vest type top for Miss Maya. I finally got it finished early this morning. I'll have to take a picture of her modeling it for everyone to see. It's nothing fancy - just a little sleeveless vest but she's happy with it, her mother liked it and I'm okay too with the way it turned out for me. Sometimes, when I get into knitting, things go fine and dandy and I don't run into any problems with various stitches or instructions - whatever -and other times, I get a project started and run into a roadblock or two or ten which often causes me to get really frustrated and toss the project into the "I don't want to deal with this" pile. Sometimes I come back to those things later and things clear up and I get them finished and other times, I end up ripping out what I had knitted and then, don't mess with the knitting stuff for a long time after that. This item though went fairly smoothly and I wanted to get it finished before something like the boredom or a problem cropped up so I had to just keep at it until I finished it.

Now, I'm moving on to another craft project - crocheting a baby blanket. I usually don't have that many problems with crochet as long as it is a relatively easy pattern and is something like a baby blanket -nothing with increases and decreases and fancy stitches with the crochet to begin with ya know.

Tonight, we had a bit of a situation here that I'm about to explain to you and I'd appreciate any comments as to what you think, what you would do or would have done.

Here's the scenario: My son was at his house this afternoon - doing some clean-up type work around the place and said he was sweeping the stairs from the upstairs to the first floor, backing down the steps as he swept. Suddenly, a voice called out to him -just about scared the living daylights out of him as he hadn't heard anyone come in -and when he turned around there was his cousin, standing there. An unexpected visitor.

Now, a little background here. My nephew, his cousin, has issues. He's been very heavy into drugs and alcohol abuse too and his judgement levels, as a result, are very flawed at times - especially if he is on some drugs or drinking -whatever.

The guys hadn't seen each other for about two years or so now so my son was happy on one hand to see his cousin -and yet, on another hand, it was also upsetting too because Clate and his girlfriend had plans for this evening plus, the nephew wanted to kick back and relax (if you want to call getting high or smashed "relaxing" -not my idea of a good way to have a mini reunion there.) So anyway, CLate ended his cleaning and they sat down, had a couple brews, etc. I happened to call up to his house and thus found out my nephew was there and spoke to him briefly on the phone too. His plans, or so he said, were that he was going to stop down here and visit with me a little bit too.

Now, anyone who has dealt with a close relative or friend who has a problem with drugs or alcohol - or both -can most likely understand this but still it can be a bit of a quandry. I love this kid dearly, really I do but I hate what he has allowed to happen to him. His brain cells are really majorly "fried" much of the time from his use and abuse. He has no common sense at all much of the time now. My son knows this too but my son feels sorry for his cousin and thinks he can "help" by doing what he did today.

For some reason or other, my nephew -though he had shown up at my son's with a car -asked my son if he could borrow his pickup truck and my son, because he thought he was kind of helping his cousin, allowed him to borrow said vehicle. THen as he thought things over a bit after his cousin had taken off in the truck, Clate called my son-in-law, upset, telling Bill what he had done. Bill then called and ratted my son out to me. So I called my son and asked him to give me the details - which he did - and I promptly then read the riot act to my son as this move was extremely foolhardy for him to loan his cousin his pickup truck!

Eventually my son and his girlfriend did track the nephew down -camped out at the local pub here in town - and he got the keys back to his truck then and they came down here then to my house. (Left the truck though sitting at the bar as I had told my son he didn't need to be trying to drive it either now and at least as long as he got the keys, it would be safer that way.

Well, we had a very lengthy discussion then about this whole situation. My son felt it was more or less his family duty or obligation (sort of -ok, his thought process sometimes gets a bit convoluted too) that since his cousin wanted to borrow his truck, he should let him do that. He has this fear that "well suppose my cousin had something happen to him, then what?" Geez Louise boy, that was exactly what I was trying to tell him -Suppose something would happen to him -driving your truck! -what do you think would be the upshot of that? It's this strange, misguided idea that well, I have to try to help my cousin, ya know. Yeah, you do but loaning him your pickup truck when he is totally unreliable is not the epitome of sound thinking!

Then it went to well, what if I hadn't and he'd left in the car he arrived in and my response to that was "So what! You still have to do what is right and NOT loaning him the use of your vehicle is actually WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE RIGHT THING TO DO!"

I'm telling you -dealing with people and their convoluted logic sometimes just totally exhausts me!

Try explaining the principle of "Tough Love" there, will ya, please! After discussing this -at length -then for a couple of hours, I "think" I finally got my point across to my son. DO NOT under any circumstances, ever again, allow your cousin to bull-woof you into loaning him any vehicle!!!! NEVER! Because to not loan him a vehicle -or money too -is actually helping him and not a bad way to handle the entire situation.

End of the discussion here -now, what's your stance on a predicament like this? Would you have chewed Clate a new A-hole or just blown it off?

Now that I told you that little tale of the day, here's something else in the "Tale" department.

The "Mother of This Lot" gave me a new award yesterday and I'm just getting around today to acknowledging it and hopefully, to be able to place it on my sidebar too. (Don't know if BLogger has gotten around to correcting the problem in which you can only scroll down about maybe a quarter of the way down your sidebar on the page layout page yet. Here's hoping that's fixed though.)

So anyway, here's the nifty new award from "Mother of This Lot" given to me! Pretty snazzy don't 'cha think?