Monday, March 30, 2009

More Pipe Dreams

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for the really great comments left on my "Saturday Surfing" post. I have to confess that I had a fun time putting that post together -remembering some of the crazy and zany things that happened to me when I worked in Washington, D.C. forty some odd years ago.

Someday, maybe I'm sure I'll take some trips down memory lane to those days and as I think about and remember some of the great friends I had there, at work as well as after work was done. It was really a great workplace -provided you didn't think too much about the not-so-hot wages they tended to pay much of the time back in those days.

Tonight, thinking a bit though about the summer of 1970 when I got sent to Phoenix, Arizona by my place of employment. I got to go there for three weeks in July -a really wonderful time to visit Phoenix if you are into self-torture by heat -extreme heat! And then, I also got sent back there to work there the entire month of October that year too -which really was a fantastic time to be in Phoenix. It was still warm -very warm -but not the really scorching heat that we experienced working there that July.

Now, when I was out there then on both these company trips, we -the staff -stayed at the Westward Ho Hotel. I have no clue if this hotel is still standing today or not and back then, it wasn't a bad place to stay but wasn't the fanciest place in all of Phoenix either.

Compared to some hotels I've come across recently, the best thing about the Westward Ho was the fact that many of the rooms had a small kitchenette -stove, sink, refrigerator -even supplied with a meager assortment of pots and pans too -where as the places today may offer a refrigerator and a microwave. But today, these kind of hotels also have other amenities -wireless internet for one, and a set up in the suite that gives sleeping as well as living space in a together but yet divided atmosphere.

I remember because the kitchenette attached to my room was also attached to my boss's room and I guess because, being a woman, he figured I could also cook well enough that I could handle fixing food for a little get-together for the staff towards the end of our stay there too.

Today, for management to ask a female employee to prepare a little buffet type thing for the entire staff would probably be regarded as illegal, sexist or something along those lines, but back then, it was pretty much an accepted procedure.

And I have to confess that I even enjoyed doing it too! For me, it was really a lot of fun and definitely was a switch from the statistical recording I was actually sent out there to perform.

Boy, how times do change, huh?

Strange Combinations

This is gonna be a post which many of you would say is true to my form -which is to say, it has NO form! A little of this, a little of that and the only connection is that it's now something part of my memories.

First off -I'm gonna give you a couple Maya-isms. As you know, since her vocabulary began to kick in about two years, it's been a really fast moving thing.

Late this afternoon, I got a call from my older daughter and she relayed to me a little tidbit of a conversation she had yesterday (Sunday) morning with Maya. As you may recall, I mentioned in my last post that Maya had gone to spend Saturday night with Aunt Carrie and Uncle Robert. Since Christmas, Maya had gone "full-speed ahead" into the "Why" question zone. The drive. you. crazy. stuff with one "why" question piled on top of the other till you reach a point where you really have no answer you can give her except the old standard "Because!"

Well, Sunday morning, Maya was up, awake and doing her thing -which translates to that she was exploring Aunt Carrie's house. In particular, she was exploring Aunt Carrie's bedroom and also, trying to get Aunt Carrie to fully wake up too.

In one corner, she happened upon a fantastic find -well, to Maya it was fantastic. Carrie wasn't all that happy about it because it was an arrow belonging to Uncle Robert. Maya apparently started out just asking Aunt Carrie what it was and got the easy answer -"An arrow." I don't know that they got into a big discussion about what an arrow is but the question turned to "Who's is it?"

Carrie said she hadn't slept all that well Saturday night so was having a tough time trying to open her eyes and to keep them open too.

She had already told Maya to leave the arrow alone, not to touch it. But Maya -being Maya -kept repeating the question as to the ownership of said arrow. And Carrie kept telling her not to touch it because it was not hers.

She went into a dialogue (she thought) with Maya about not touching things that don't belong to you when you are in someone else's house -the whole nine yards on that bit and still, Maya persisted in asking "But who's is it?"

After this being repeated many times, Carrie firmly, very firmly, reiterated that Maya was to leave it alone, DO. NOT. TOUCH. IT. because it doesn't belong to you.

At the change of tone in Aunt Carrie's voice then, Maya gave her a look, cocking her head a bit to the side as she asked in a kind of snobby/snotty tone of voice, "Does the person it belongs to have a name that starts with R?"

Carrie forgot about another thing Maya has been learning -how to read, how to spell lots of things too! And just in case you forgot, I mentioned at the beginning of this story that the arrow belongs to, yep -Uncle Robert!

This morning (Monday, that is) Mandy and I were talking about Bill's health issues as he was sick all day yesterday and not up to anywhere near par today too. So Carrie had called the doctor and made arrangements for him to have an appointment this afternoon.

Anyway, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned about how a former neighbor of ours - a very close family friend of my grandparents, of my Mom's entire family and also who my kids knew too as he was still living when they were young. Back in the mid-50s, Albert -the neighbor -was sick and things went from bad to worse. He was doctoring but not getting the least bit better. Even ended up in the hospital for a couple weeks and for a time, it looked like he was not going to be around very long. Lots and lots of stomach issue problems.

Somehow -I don't recall how now -he ended up under the care of a different doctor who said Albert had ulcers and he prescribed that he take three doses of Maalox every day -before each meal -and within 3-4 weeks time, Albert was up and around, picking up strength, appetite -the whole nine yards very quickly. After that till the end of his life, he followed that doctor's instructions and took a dose of maalox before each and every meal.

I told Mandy too that when I was pregnant with Carrie -my firstborn -I virtually lived on milk, maalox and ice cream for the last 3-4 months before Carrie arrived. It was a livesaver to me and kept the heartburn down as much as possible for me.

While we were talking though, Maya was sitting on the loveseat and we didn't realize how much attention she'd apparently been giving to our conversation until she tossed one of her questions into the mix.

"When was I pregnant?" was her question of the morning.

Mandy and I both howled, teasing her, telling her we both hoped she had not yet advanced to that stage in her life.

Then, a bit later this morning, my son came down and was sitting on a stool at the counter in the kitchen. Kurtis was romping around, doing his normal running back and fort, burning off tons of energy -or at least so one would think. I know if I moved as fast as he does, back and forth from the kitchen to the living room, I'd be whipped -totally -in probably about five minutes.

But anyway, he was jabbering a way and kept point to Uncle Clate and saying "Un A" or that's what it sounded like to us. I told Mandy that I think because he would say that and then point to Uncle Clate that it was his way of trying to say "Uncle Clate" -shortening "uncle" to "un" and not bothering to pick up the CL of Clate but rather, just saying the long A sound of his name -Clate.

However, Mandy didn't think he was calling his uncle that at all but she started to tease him, pointing to Clate and then telling Kurtis that Uncle Clate's name is really "Moron" and then encouraging him to say that.

And yes, in short order, there wss Kurtis, looking at Uncle Clate, pointing and trying to say "moron!" I know, I know -we're evil aren't we, teaching a three-year-old to call his uncle moron but then again, a while back, when Clate pulled up in front of the house one day and I asked Maya who was coming, her reply then to me was "It's just "ding'dong!" Yet another "pet" name that Clate often gets called by his sisters and me from time to time. The other name Clate gets addressed as a lot from us too is "Nummies" -which is our version of calling him Numbnuts.

It's all okay -we really do love him to pieces. Just wanted everyone to know these names are all said with lots and lots of love behind the -and a whole lot of picking and teasing along with that too.

The other thing I wanted to mention tonight came to me via an e-mail from a very good friend who lives up in Allen Park, Michigan. Seems another of his acquaintances around here had sent him the url pertaining to an auction that will take place on May 2nd. The restaurant where Mandy worked here for about 3-4 years has been on the market for about two years now -slow, very slow economy in this region and it's still up for sale. But now, the owners -Jim and Charmaine -are having an auction on the first Saturday in May and all the contents of the restaurant, bar, hotel plus the property itself is also going to be auctioned off then too!

My friend Jefff, had mentioned in his note that he would like to purchase the two-keg system that will be auctioned off, along with several other memento antique items that will be sold. He figures if he could get that keg set-up though his wife would really "LOVE" that however, I know full well he was being extremely sarcastic in saying that too!

He also made mention of how sad it makes him feel to realize this place is now going to be part of the past history of this region. And it's something that makes me very sad to see it disappear too.

I remember when Charmaine's Dad first built the basic building back in the mid-50s and operated an Esso/Exxon gas station there along with a little lunch counter type restaurant. I don't remember now what year Jim and Charmaine bought the property from her dad and transformed it into the restaurant, then the bar and hotel too that it was until they closed operations the end of July last year, but I sure do have lots and lots of great memories associated with that place.

When I was in high school, I often babysat Charmaine and her three sisters and two brothers while her Mom ran the restaurant/gas station. If I wasn't at their house babysitting the kids by myself, I was there with Charmaine's aunt -my friend Rose (who you saw on my post for last Friday about the special lunch gathering some of my classmates and I had that day. And if I wasn't there at the house, odds are I was up at the restaurant, sitting at the counter, drinking coffee and talking, keeping "Aunt Helen Ann" -Rose's sister and Charmaine's mother -company till she closed down at night.

Because I can't begin to list all the stuff that will be auctioned off, but I can show you pictures of many of the items from the auctioneer's website, I decided I would do that here.

Check this link out!

It has photos of all the restaurant and bar equipment along with many, many of the great antiques that will also be gone -existing only in my mind's eye then after that date. (I say that because I know that no way would I be able to afford at all to place a competitive bid and acquire any of these items -much as I sure would love to be able to do so!

I'd love see the building be purchased by someone who would come in and run it again and hopefully, be able to make a go of it too. It's something this little village really does need and I do hate to see that disappear completely too. I had hoped that one of Charmaine's cousins would be in a position to maybe purchase the place -I know he wanted to do that -but apparently it's beyond his financial reach at this time.

Just sad, really, really sad to see something that has played a very large part of my life disappear.

See, I told you this post was going to be some strange combinations of topics, didn't I?

Now, maybe someone reading my blog will think gee, that place has a lot of potential after all and maybe I can get it for a good price too at the auction.

Now that's a thought, isn't it?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Surfings

Most of the time, I read through all or most of the new posts on my reader before I determine whether to do a post then or later. Today, I started reading the posts on my reader and came across the latest post by Gene at Turning The Pages of Life and in his post today he talks about some people -four of 'em -in a canoe -I'll let you read his post and get the full gist of that story -then you can come back and read my post, inspired by his story of those four folks in the canoe.

This is one of my "years ago" from the dark ages of my life stories. It took place back in the very late 60s or maybe in 1970 or 1971. Somewhere in that time space. And this happened on a very pretty Sunday afternoon in late spring.

I was living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. -southeast of the District in Prince George's county back then and working for a big, big National Association at their headquarters in D.C.

Some of my friends from work and I had decided that spring that we needed to do things on our weekends that would allow us to see more of the scenic spots in and around Washington. A great idea, don't you think?

Someone had heard about that you could go down to Georgetown and there was a ferry there that you could take to cross the canal -I think it is called the C&O Canal or maybe it is the B&O Canal -memory fails me on exactness there right now -but anyway, this ferry goes across that canal that runs parallel to the Potomac River. And after you cross that canal, there was this place there where you could rent a bicycle and then, ride it along the towpath of that old canal.

Well, this whole deal sounded like a darned good way for our little group of friend to spend a Sunday afternoon -biking, fresh air, get a little exercise, have a lot of laughs too during this time.

So, off we went. I think there were five of us -me, my best friend, Joan, her cousin and roommate, Kathy (nicknamed "Guz" due to her surname being that), co-worker Dee and another girl whose name I cannot for the life of me remember right now although I can see her face in my mind's eye right now, just as plain as day. Yes, I do, frequently, think I am entering into the yucky realm of Alzheimer's or plain senility -something along those lines anyway. Now, if the lack of being able to recall that other girl's name bugs me enough today, I may just have to pick up the phone later and call Joan to have her refresh my memory.

So, back to my story.

We got there, parked, assembled in line to board the ferry. And in short order, we were on the ferry and seated, waiting patiently for it to take us over to where we could rent the bicycles.

As we sat there, we watched as folks around us were renting canoes and making plans for a nice, leisurely -and in some instances -probably what some of those people thought would also be a romantic time -alone, in a canoe, with some food and/or beverages. You get the idea there, don't you?

Well, there was this one couple that caught our eye as they were loading their "provisions" into their canoe. I don't remember a thing about the guy -as to his appearance, just that we watched him loading a couple six packs of beer into their conveyance. The lady with him though had very, very long hair and was not particularly pretty.

He got their stuff loaded, put himself in the canoe and reached out with one hand I guess sort of to "steady" the canoe and with the other, he extended a hand to his lady to help her step into the canoe.

Can you see where this is going?

As we -my friends and I -watched this, we could also see the canoe moving, ever so slightly at first but it was one of those things that just played out in slow motion then.

The young woman put one foot into the canoe, was lifting her leg to put the other foot down and that canoe did a flip faster than you can say "Jack Robinson!"

Into the drink went both the guy and his girl. And also, the beer.

We figured that must have been his most prized possession then because as his head emerged from the water and so did his girlfriend's, the only thing he did was to holler at her, over and over, "Get the beer! Get the beer!"

Well, it's not that we -my friends and I -had no compassion or anything for their plight but we did burst into very loud, long gales of laughter at the sight. Guz always had a habit when something was really funny to her, she would clap her hands on her legs, then clap her hands together while stomping her feet, loud, long and wildly and she was doing that in the ferry which just served then to make the rest of us laugh all that much more.

And, one other side note too -that canal water is not really very nice. As I remember it, very grungy, scuzzy, yucky water. And that young lady, when she surfaced, her hair totally soaked, with some kind of accumulated gunk from the water clinging to her hair, she looked like some creature just rising out of some black lagoon or some such thing. Stringy hair that is dry is unattractive. Stringy hair that is completely drenched and has all this gop clinging to it is downright U.G.L.Y!

We made our little journey to the other side of the canal, rented our bikes and set off on our ride. Enjoying the trail or towpath, having a great time, we did!

Until we came to a fork in the trail at which time, Dee and I stopped and waited a minute for Joan to catch up to us as we debated should we go to the fork on the right or the fork on the left.

Joan caught up to us and buzzed right past us. As she whisked by, she had her hand on the handlebar in a way that showed she was pretending to have a little bell on the handlebar and she called to us "Ding, ding, ding-a-ling!" Laughing at us for standing still there, she also forgot to watch where she was heading and as a result, she went over this embankment along the towpath -a drop off of at least 4-5 foot, if not a bit higher. She landed on the ground below, still upright on her bike, and rode it oh, about another ten foot or so before she toppled off, on to the ground.

For anyone who remembers Dick Martin on Laugh-in, riding that tricycle till it toppled over, that was kind of how she looked as she went over that little embankment or mini-cliff perhaps you could call it!

Dee and I stood there watching that scene play out and I howled laughing at Joan's plight. Dancing around with glee, pointing, cackling. Dee, on the other hand, wanted very much to laugh with me but, because Joan was also our supervisor at work, she was afraid to laugh at Joan's dilemma, fearing that if she did that, Joan would fire her the next day when we were back at work!

That was just one of many of the crazy, zany things my friends and I did back in those days -which really for us were "The good old days!" It's also one of those things that just about every time I talk to Joan on the phone -yes, even after 36 years since I left that area, that job, moved back to Pennsylvania, she and I are still very good friends -that we make mention of and laugh again and again over the canoe, the bikes and her ride down to the edge of the Potomac River!

Our mantra as then, still is then in our conversations, "Get the beer! Get the beer!"

And now, since Mandy has decided to take our stove apart to clean it -you can't imagine how grungy it is under those burners -and since she already took out the oven drawer to clean that and discovered an extremely large deposit there of evidence that the mouse in the house had been doing some camping out there, she already made me come out and sweep out the accumulation of all kinds of things that were underneath the oven drawer. Things like crayons, pens, pencils, galore, even including a child's coloring book of the type that kids can paint in. I commented to her that it did appear to me that the mouse must be a literary one, having that book there and her retort to me was that she figures it must be of the artistic type too, doing some painting.

So, since she is now working on the really nasty area under the burners on the stove and since she is a woman too of very little patience when it comes to doing the nasty cleaning jobs like that, if I want to stay in her good graces, I'd best say "Have a great day, everyone!" and make my way to the kitchen in an attempt to perhaps lend her a hand.

At least, I can hand her a clean rag or the scouring powder or whatever she may need to get the gunk off the stove.

It's the very least I can do to lend her a helping hand though I rather doubt she will be all that appreciative of my efforts and generosity anyway.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Lovely Lunch!

Aside from the fact that the old line about the best laid plans of mice and men had a bit of an impact on the lunch today with some friends from my high school class plus, the sister of one of those friends too, the lunch gathering was still really great!

Our classmate -Cheryl -who was supposed to be flying up yesterday from Florida to Harrisburg with her Mom -and then, was supposed to drive up from Harrisburg to her Mom's house in Karthaus -ended up with their flight being totally canceled and when she rescheduled it, the only other available flight she could get won't be until next Tuesday, March 31st.

But we still had a great get-together!

I thought I'd share the pictures I took, along with a couple pictures we conned on friend's husband into take of six of us together.

Here's the sisters -Anne Lucas Ryba (from North Olmsted, Ohio) and her sister (and my classmate) Bernie Lucas Kapura, from Carlisle, PA. Anne graduated from our high school in 1958 and Bernie and the others in the group and I graduated in 1962. Anne and I "met" online about 10 years ago while we were both doing family tree research at the time and have become very good, close friends since then. Anne, like me, is also a cancer survivor too. She was diagnosed about a year after I was and had a really rough time dealing with some of the treatments but now, finaly, she's back to her old self once again!

Here's Bernie again along with classmates Linda Wertz Payne and Carol Folmar Nadzom. Linda and Carol both usually attend the regular monthly lunch we "girls" have on the last Thursday of the month. Linda is a retired librarian, Bernie is a retired teacher and Carol is retired from Penn State University where she worked for many years as an administrative assistant. Bernie has two children a son and a daughter as well as two beautiful little granddaughters. Linda is a widow and Carol and her husband, Ed (who grew up two doors up the street from me) have a son and a daughter and three grandchildren with a fourth grandchild due, I believe, in May. (When I went to college in the early 90s, Carol and Ed's daughter was in a couple of the same classes as I had because we both were in the Rehabilitation Education program of the College of Education at the university.

At the other end of the table from where I was seated there was Carol Folmar Nadzom, Helen Walker Kovalick and Kathryn Nelson Eyerly. Helen was in our class until our Junior year, when she quit school and got married. And, would you believe that seeing her today was the first time I have seen her in -get this -48 years!!! Isn't that incredible and to think she just lives a hop, skip and a jump away from me too. Her daughter-in-law used to come to the house and work with Maya the first year that Maya was receiving home therapy. Brenda (Helen's daughter-in-law) worked in a program through the agency that the kids receive their therapys services through in which she came here on Tuesday morning and brought with her either a new book or a toy of some sort, which was given to Maya. At that time, Brenda would show Maya what was involved with the toy, or she would go over the book with her then and she would come back two days later to review with Maya and with Mandy and I how well Maya had responded to the toy or the book. We used to refer to Brenda as "Maya's Toy Lady." Somehow or other, during one of her visits, it came out that Helen is Brenda's mother-in-law and as much as I was surprised to meet her and learn about Helen today, Brenda was equally surprised to meet someone who had gone to school with her husband's mother too!

Kate is the lady who lives about two doors down the street from me and who I have mentioned on several other posts here too that she and her older sister, Shirley (both who are also lovers of the embroidery craft) are my oldest friends, pretty much in the whole wide world, ya know! Kate and I have been friends since we were about two or three years old! Imagine that -being friends with someone that many years, huh?
Here's the last picture of the group sitting around the table. On this photo, there's Helen and Kate (again) and beside Kate is Rosalind Little Wick. Rose's family moved into the house between my home and Kate's family home the summer of 1951, so Rose and I have been friends for a long, long time too -growing up next door to each other too.

Can't you just tell by looking at Rose today that she was the captain of the cheerleaders our senior year and you just know too, don't you, that on St. Patrick's Day of our senior year in high school, she married Durvin Wick, the Captain of the Football team too?

Linda, the LIbrarian, has two brothers and two sisters. Her oldest brother taught Pennsylvania history and Ancient History when my classmates and I were freshmen and sophomores in high school. Linda's older sister taught school too -elementary education -and I know she had my son in some of her classes and might even have had Mandy as a student too. Linda's mother and my mother graduated from high school together too -back in 1927 -from the same school building that Linda and I -and the rest of these ladies -all attended!

Kate, Rose, Bernie and I have known each other since first grade. Carol and Linda, we all met as classmates in 7th grade (although Kate and I had met Linda a couple years before that because we all attended Bible School together for two weeks in the early part of the summer. Helen didn't join us until our Sophomore year as prior to that for a few years, the kids from Karthaus and Pottersdale area, were all bussed to the Clearfield High School.

I think, if I am not mistaken that Helen has two sons and three grandchildren. I know Kate has three daughters -her oldest being a month to the day older that my older daughter. Kate also has four grandchildren -two granddaughters and two grandsons. Rose and Durv had five children and now have I think 12 grandchildren -or maybe it is 14 or 15. I can't remember now how many children each of her children have right now! But she looks fantastic and I have teased her for years that NO ONE should have five children and still look as great as she does!

Rose and I share some relatives too. Her niece was married to my ex-husband's brother so my nephew and two nieces are also her great-nieces and great-nephew too! Ah, don't you love the "small world" flavor that comes from growing up in a very small town?

Linda and Helen had to leave a little earlier than the rest of us so they weren't available for the group picture that we got Bernie's husband, Ed, to take of the six of us out in the lobby of the Philips Hotel 1921 Restaurant. But here's one of the pictures that Ed took of us with my camera.

Here's the six of us -from left to right -Rose, me, Carol, Bernie, Kate and Anne.

Being together with this many of my former classmates and friend, Anne, was just a wonderful time today. The talk around the table often involved gentle teasing between each of us and a lot of wise-cracks from the sisters, Anne and Bernie, directed at each other. What great fun this was!

I am the only one of the entire group who was an "only" child. Bernie and Anne are from a family of twelve children, Rose was one of thirteen. I can't remember now how many siblings Carol has but I think she is either the youngest of five or six in her family -something along those lines. Helen has one sister -Eleanor and Kate had two sisters and two brothers. (Her one brother died in 1976 -a month to the day before my youngest -Mandy -was born.

About nine years ago, Anne wrote a book that was intended to be a family history type thing when she had it published but because a few others -like myself -found out about the book and said we'd be interested in purchasing a copy, not only did she sell all the books published then but she has had the book reprinted now for the fourth time! It's about how her grandparents met in Slovakia and their journey to this country, how they ended up settling here in this little village and then, about her life growing up here in the 40s and 50s. If anyone reading this post thinks they would be interested in a copy of this book, drop me an e-mail and I will send you the information of how to contact Anne and order your own copy of this book. It's really quite an interesting read!

Also, if anyone is coming to this part of the country and would like to dine at a place that has very good food, great service too and in a restaurant that has a lot of history within the building as it used to be THE Hotel in Philipsburg -the Hotel Philips -which when we were kids and for many years before that -was quite the spiffy place! The people who have the Hotel and who have remodeled and refurbished this dining room, as well as the hotel's old ballroom too, have done a fantastic job of making the place very inviting. They're still working on remodeling and refurbishing the hotel and plan to have it functioning once again sometime in the near future.

And that's the story of our lunch today at the Hotel Philips 1921 Restaurant. Here's the website too for the hotel -complete with their menu, information about the old hotel, the restaurant, ballroom -the whole nine yards.
Check it out and if you're in the area, stop and try the food. You won't regret it!

Maybe next Wednesday -when several of us will have a chance to lunch together again -I will get a few more pictures of some of my classmates to share with you then. I hope so anyway.

Aunt Elin's Swedish "Limpa" Rye Bread

In response to Blogger "Technobabe" -whose e-mail address I can't seem to locate, but who requested the recipe for the Swedish Limpa Rye Bread -that I posted about baking here, the other day, I've copied the recipe over, just for her and am putting it up here. (Well, if anyone else wants to take this recipe and give it a shot, please do so. I don't think you'll be disappointed in the outcome.)

Tonight, for example, for supper I sliced several slices of this bread, buttered each slice and slapped them down on the griddle. On top of each slice, I put some muenster cheese plus, a nice thin slice of deli-style roast beef on top of the cheese and we dined royally then on grilled cheese and roast beef sandwiches.

Well, in truth, I dined royall -in my opinion. The kids, not so much. Oh, they ate the bread, sure. They both also made darned sure that they had also gleaned every last bit of cheese off that bread too. The roast beef though? Well, that never entered the gullet of either child!

Foiled again, I was! Foolishly, I thought sure as all get out I could entice them into the luscious flavor of the roast beef by slipping it in, ever so casually and carefully, between the cheese that I know both of them dearly love.

Oh well, as the sages say, "The best laid plans of mice and men...." Yeah, another one went astray!

But anyway -here's the recipe which has been around in my Mom's family for well, about four generations now. And, if you try it, I hope you love the flavor of this bread just as much as my kids, grandkids and I do!

Aunt Elin’s Swedish Rye Bread swedish="" limpa="" rye

¾ cup of brown sugar – I usually use the dark, but the light sugar is fine too.
½ cup of margarine or butter
¼ cup of dark Karo syrup
¼ cup of molasses
¼ cup of honey
3 cups of very hot tap water
2 packets of dry yeast
3 cups of rye flour –I prefer the finer milled flour by Pillsbury, Betty Crocker or Robin Hood but for almost a year now, none of the grocery stores where I live have been carrying that so so I HAVE to use whatever rye flour I can find. The taste is the same, but it does change the texture somewhat If you can find the finer milled rye flour.
7 to 8 cups of white flour.

Combine the sugar, syrup, molasses, honey, margarine and hot water in a large bowl and mix till the margarine is melted in.

Next, add in the rye flour, slowly mixing it in thoroughly, To that, you then mix in the two packets of yeast and blend it well into the dough mixture.

Gradually adding about two cups of white flour at a time, mix –or knead in – the white flour until the dough mixture pulls the remaining flour off the sides of the bowl and it all becomes slightly tacky (sticky) and has a good elasticity to the feel of the dough.

Place mixture in a clean bowl and cover first with waxed paper, then with clean, dish towels and wrap the whole thing in a nice blanket or throw covering of some type. Place it in an area that is warm and draft free and allow the dough to rise for an hour or until double in size.

Then, divide the dough into fourths and using greased loaf pans, place a quarter of the dough in each pan and press it in so as to mold to the sides and corners of the pan. Cover the pans again –waxed paper, towels, blanket, etc –and set to rise again for roughly an hour or until this doubles in size.

Place pans – two at a time –in 350 degree oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Turn pans upside down to release bread and then, after uprighting the loaves, brush lightly across the top and side with margarine or butter – just enough to give it a light, very thin glaze. This softens the crust and also gives is a luscious looking glisten to the bread.

Now, you’re all set to have a scrumptious slice of bread, warm, fresh out of the oven, slathered with some great, cool pats of real butter.

Nothin’ finer!

Movin' Movin' Keep 'Em Movin'!

Anyone here remember that tv western from many years back -"Rawhide?" Remember the theme song too? It was about moving the cattle along the trail, ya know. I really just remember the first couple of words -about moving and that's about it.

But ask me about moving -physically moving from one place to another -as in with people and furniture and clothes -enough to clothe a small army when there are children involved -stuff like that and boy, do I ever remember "Moving!"

I've moved several times in my lifetime. A couple moves really didn't involve much, at least not for me. When I finished first grade -so a little over six years old -my Mom moved from this old house up to Niagara Falls. That move only involved her packing what clothes she felt she would need as she was going to be living up there with her younger sister and her husband so no need then to pack up all the stuff in this house since it was my Grandparents' home anyway and they weren't planning to go anyplace.

I spent that summer living with Mom and my aunt, uncle and their dog -a beautiful purebred collie, named Coral, who was also -I must add this -as smart a dog as I have ever seen! We shared a great big apartment -the second floor of an old farmhouse -located out on River Road just before you got to Fort Niagara where the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario. I loved living there. Even though I didn't know any kids around where we lived, I was happy as a clam because of that dog, Coral.

At the end of the summer, my aunt and uncle bought a small bungalow type house on Chapin Avenue in the city so we moved there. But still, the move really didn't phase me because heck, all I had was my clothes and what kid that age worries about their clothes anyway?

Then after living there about three weeks, I got shipped back here -to my Grandparents home -because after a lot of discussion between my Mom, my Grandparents, another aunt and uncle, it was decided for my Mom, as opposed to being that being a decision she made on her own, that is was not a good thing for me to be what would today be termed a "latch-key" child.

So, back to Pennsylvania I came and I have to say I didn't mind that move either because heck, I knew everyone here and I'd only been away from my friends and neighbors here well, just for a little different kind of summer vacation, you could say.

That move lasted about a month before my aunts and uncles then decided that it was too difficult for my grandparents to have the responsibility -at their advanced ages then -of raising a seven-year-old, rambunctious and yes, really spoiled child! (My Grandparents then were 77 and 71 years old.) But, my grandparents didn't want what was suggested to them -that they move to Jamestown, NY and live with my older aunt and her husband in the two-bedroom apartment they had because gee, they didn't want to move there without ME!

So, again the move went through but only clothing -and the dog that we had at that time too -Lady -had to go with us too. My Grandfather would have sooner died on the spot that to give up that dog, don't 'cha know! And we lived there from mid-October of 1951 until February of 1952, at which time my aunt and uncle bought their house -their first and only home that they owned over the fifty some years that their marriage lasted. Now that move did involve the logistics of getting furniture from the apartment to the house but since the house was a whole lot bigger than the apartment had been, there were no issues on what to take, what to get rid of -or no thought about anything being put in storage back then too. (I wonder if storage places even existed in those days, come to think of it.)

That move, for me, lasted till November of 1952, when my Mom decided things were not working well for her under this setup -me living with my aunt and uncle, she, with her sister and brother-in-law and my grandparents, having insisted on coming back to Pennsylvania in the spring of 1952 to live out the rest of their days in their OWN home! Which also brought a return of the issue of my grandparents even living here on their own so their children decided then if they insisted on living here, then it probably would be best if my Mom (and I) would move back here with them as well. She could then look after them -and yes, look after me that way too!

I left here to go to work -to be on my own -in February of 1964, having been hired by the FBI as a "Fingerprint Technician" (or specialist -something along those lines, anyway.) And that was a move for me that involved two suitcases and nothing else. Clothing was all that was involved once again when I moved.

Eight years later, in August of 1972, my then new husband and I decided to put living in D.C. behind us and move back to my home area, here in Pennsylvania.

That move involved furniture! And clothes, and linens, dishes, utensils and also cars too! It took us six weeks to complete that move as each weekend we would load up his car and my car with as much as we could fit in them and head up the highway to the apartment we'd found to rent in Phlipsburg -a town about 12 miles from where my Mom lived, from this house, where I live today. And the weekend we fully moved away from there, we had a u-haul truck filled to the gills, both our cars packed tightly and also, a couple who were friends of ours and offered to help us with this move, had their car packed solid with our stuff too!

It's amazing isn't it how much one can accumulate in eight short years in a two-bedroom "garden-type" apartment when you think back that your life in that area had begun with only two suitcases!

I've since then moved a couple times again -first from the apartment in Philipsburg to a house we rented for about 18 months in a nearby village (Lanse), then to the house my ex-husband and I built next door to my Mom's home here and finally, after my Mom died, the kids and I moved in here and we were "home!" I kind of equate the word "home" in the same way my Mom's oldest brother did. Although he built a beautiful two-story home for his family in Monroeville, PA, when he used the term "home" everyone in his family knew he was referring not to that house, but rather to this house, the one I live in, as it was always home to him, just as it really always has been to me too!

Fast forward now a bit to the year 2002. My younger daughter and her husband got married that August and things had already been decided -due to circumstances they and I had -that they would move in here, live with me.

Okay, this is where some problems set in.

My daughter had stuff she had accumulated from having lived over around State College for a while, the son-in-law had furniture and all the other accutrements of house keeping necessities too and I had a houseful of "stuff!"

Where the heck do you stash all that stuff anyway?

After several months of moving things around from this spot to another, from this closet to a box in the attic or the basement, from shoving too many dishes and pots, pans, utensils into a kitchen that had a good bit of cupboard space but not enough to accommodate all that "stuff" a decision was reached.

My daughter and son-in-law went halves with his Dad and rented one of those things - a storage unit or moving pods I guess you could say it would be and we went through -or rather my daughter and son-in-law -went through all our accumulations here and they decided then what items we absolutely had to have and which could go into storage then.

And you know, about seven years down the road from that event, I still have yet to find my angel food cake pan and it really gauled the living daylights out of me a couple years back when I couldn't find my bundt cake pan and had to go buy myself another one of those things!

One thing about me is when I have something and know I have it -or had it anyway -and then I need it but can't find it -things like that, spending good money for a duplication that shouldn't be necessary, really fires up the Scottish ancestry deep within my being!

Yes, I guess it would be safe to say that under circumstances like that I become cheap -very, very cheap!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Decisions -Good, Bad and Indifferent

Things happen. Things change. Sometimes the changes that come about in our lives are sudden. Sometimes drastic. Sometimes very painful too. And yes, there are many changes that transpire that change each of us in ways, large and small, that we may realize at the time and others that we don't realize what good or bad came with those changes until many, many years later.

Today was one of those days when a change took place for me. It was a change that was disappointing initially but will be resolved, hopefully, next week and will be okay then.

What happened you see involves not just me but several of my classmates from high school as well. A group of five of us -girls, who graduated together from high school, back in 1962, have been meeting for lunch, once a month (the last Thursday of the month) for the past 15 months now. It's a friendly little get-together for us. A way of keeping a little better in contact, communicating what's new and exciting in each of our lives and having a nice little meal together in the process.

One of my closest friends from high school who I rarely get a chance to see, much less spend a little more time that 10-15 minutes or so with, had a bit of a bad run the past couple of years. She and her husband had been living in Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina came along and pretty much destroyed their home. Fortunately for them, they also had a condo in Florida so they have been living there since Katrina blew through town.

Last summer, fate took another turn at her in the form of colo-rectal cancer. Now my friend had also had a run-in back in the early 90s with cancer. I don't recall now exactly what type of cancer that was, just that it involved the female organs but was not cervical. She had the usual treatments then, chemo, radiation, etc., and eventually got a clean bill of health -including too a new hair color once her hair grew back in. (She'd alwas been a brunette, but when her hair grew back, it came back curly and RED!)

With the colo-rectal cancer, she had surgery -a resection -and yes, more chemo. Early in February of this year, she wrote to tell me she had completed her rounds of the chemo now and the doctors had released her to do pretty much what she wants to do -just has to report in a few times a year for routine checkups and a test or two here and there.

In that note, she had also written what itinerary she and her husband have planned for the coming months. They love to travel and have done that -extensively -over the years of their marriage. While reading that note, it dawned on me that quite possibly she might happen to be up in this area at some time near the date when the other classmates and I have our regular lunch date so I wrote and made mention of this and that we could always change our meeting time too if she were to be around home so she could join us.

Well, that started the ball rolling and we -the original group -changed our meeting date from our normal lunch date which would have been today (Thursday, March 26th) to tomorrow, March 27th. And we also changed our meeting place too so that we could gather at a new restaurant that opened back in January in Philipsburg. The original group had been talking about checking that new place out and we decided this occasion would be just the ticket then to meet there with our mutual friend/classmate.

I contacted several other girls from our class and things were progressing really great. One was coming up from Carlisle, PA and she had mentioned this lunch meeting to her older sister (who happens to be a good friend of mine too) and her sister decided she too would like to come over from her home in Cleveland to join us too. A few others had responded that they would like to attend and before you knew it, there was a group of twelve of us who were planning to attend this "event" if you will.

That is until today!

The reason our friend was coming up to these Pennsylvania hills now was to accompany her mother back to their family home which is "over the river and through the hills" -about 12-15 miles from where I live. Her mother spends the winter in Florida with her son and returns back here in the spring to stay in the family home until fall, when she then returns to Florida for the winter.

And, today after they reported to the airport, went through all the check-in process, the security clearances and such, their flight was put on delay due to weather conditions. By 11 a.m., their flight was cancelled, completely! They were told they would have to make other flight arrangements. In trying to book another flight, they then learned the earliest flight they could get out of Florida, into Harrisburg, was not available until NEXT TUESDAY! Can you believe that? Incredible, huh?

So, due to extenuating circumstances, we -my classmates and I -will still have our lunch as we had planned tomorrow -Friday, the 27th -but now, we will also try to have another lunch, hopefully next Wednesday, provided the flight holds as planned and all other things -the moon, stars,all the planets align properly and that the sun don't fall too! (That's one of my own old line favorites -"as long as the sun don't fall" -just in case you were wondering about that phrase!)

So, there's a change that came through and landed on our heads, bringing with it other possibilities too though.

You see, as things are, my friend and I have been able to maintain our friendship fairly well over the past 47 years since graduation. When she and her husband married, I was their matron of honor. When I was hired by the lovely (NOT) FBI and went to work in Washington, D.C. back in February of 1964, my friend and her husband were then living in a suburb of D.C. where her husband worked for the Nat'l Weather Service so the first week I spent at work in D.C., I bunked on their couch till I could line up a shared apartment near by with some other kids also working at the Bureau at that time. Back in 1971, when I had to have surgery to remove my gall bladder (and appendix too), my friend and her husband kept my older daughter while I was in the hospital so my Mom could then come to visit me in the hospital. (Back then, small children were not usually allowed as visitors to patients, ya know.)

Anyway, the point is, we have maintained our friendship over all these years although because of distance -I moved back to Pennsylvania and she and her family went on to move to Louisiana -and well, it's been pretty much a hit and miss in terms of personal visits but we still kept in touch as much as possible. And though things won't be quite like we'd planned for the lunch tomorrow, it will still work out for lunch next week. And, the nice thing is too that next Wednesday, there is a very good possibility that my older daughter will be able to get up here and go to lunch with us then! She's really excited about the possibility that she will get a chance to see her Mom's friend from way back and who she remembers staying at her home, remembers her children too from those days as well.

But, another thing happened today as well. My older daughter and a co-worker of hers decided when they got off work this morning, after having worked over a couple extra hours, to go to lunch. And as they were eating, my daughter saw a lady in the same restaurant who she recognized too. That lady it just so happens is also a very dear friend of mine from high school years too and she also just happens to be a cousin to my friend in Florida and my daughter knew that this lady was planning to come to the lunch tomorrow as well!

So daughter went over and sat down, had a nice long chat with her then. I was really happy to learn that she had recognized this friend and also, that the friend had recognized and remembered my daughter too!

Apparently in the course of their conversation today, they hit on some topics that struck a big chord with my daughter. I think they must have had to do with how things happen to us and though at the time, they seem like it is the end of the world or darned close to that. But, in hindsight, those things all -good, bad or indifferent -served some purpose that changed our lives. Often those changes were really rugged, very sad, extremely difficult to deal with but they did serve a purpose to make each of us that much stronger as we carried through the rest of our lives.

And this brought about my daughter and I talking then too about how hard it was back when she was 12-years-old and my mother died. My daughter, being her first grandchild, and one that she had raised too because she came to Maryland and lived with us, to care for my daughter so I could keep working there. Not an easy time those years because my Mom and I always had a pretty confrontational type of relationship -had that since I was probably about 12-13 years old as a matter of fact. So the loss of my Mom was one that was really difficult for my daughter to bear. On top of that, almost immediately, there came the dissolution of my marriage and for several years after that, a whole lot of rough times -contending with my ex-husband was not the easiest thing I've ever done!

At one point, when my son was about 11 years old, his Dad began trying to sweet-talk the boy. Telling him things that if the boy wanted to come live with him, he would get him all kinds of special things he knew that the boy really wanted. That created a whole 'nother set of problems for me with my son because what he really wanted, he knew couldn't come to pass at all. He REALLY wanted his Mom and Dad to live together again, for all of us to be together as one nice, big happy family. And for several weeks, the boy alternated almost daily in crying about what to do -live with Mom or go live with Dad.

I told my son then that if he wished, really felt it was in his best interests overall, to go live with his Dad, that I would agree to that provided before he made that decision that he agreed to going to see a counselor -a third party who could talk to him, be impartial in judgement and help the boy make a good decision from the choices before him -those being between a rock and a hard place.

The boy agreed to do that and I set up the necessary appointments with a counselor fairly close to home here. For the next six or seven months, he saw that counselor. Sometimes it was just my son and the counselor, other times I was present and on a few occasions, the sessions even included younger daughter, Mandy, too.

I remember, like it was yesterday -the day my son and I walked into the counselor's office and my son announced to both of us that he had made a decision regarding who he wanted to live with.

You talk about a sick feeling in your gut -that sinking sensation that you have just ingested ten pounds of concrete of the quick-setting variety -and that would have been me upon hearing him voice those words.

Immediately, I thought if he says his Dad, what am I going to do? After all, I had promised I would abide by his decision, regardless of what it was and how could I then possibly back out of that. I knew -oh how well I knew -that if he did choose to live with his Dad, it would be horrendous over the long haul for the boy. They did have many things in common, sure -love of cars, anything automotive heading that list. But there were also other complexities about this boy that his Dad didn't know about and that I knew too he would never understand either. The boy is you see, very artistically inclined -very, very good a many different types of art - and I knew his Dad would never comprehend how talented the boy was much less how much enjoyment the boy got from those talents too. That, plus the fact the kid is much like his mother in the way he views many things -society, diversity, fairness, little thing like that and being around his Dad, I feared would bring changes to the boy that he might have to make but not want to do and set up the kid for even more upheaval.

As things turned out that day, my son announced that he had decided he wanted to stay with his mother -with me! Yay! Yay! Wave after wave of relief washed over me immediately. I cried. Yes indeed I did!

Then the counselor asked my son what had brought him to this decision. And the boy told him how from one thing to another he had determined that what his dad was telling him he would do, was in essence, blowing smoke and that his Dad was trying to buy him with promises of a new really great bicycle, also and ATV and then, eventually they would build a car together for him -all that! All things I knew the boy had dreams of owning -most likely every night too!

A few years back, my son and I were having one of our discussion about all kinds of stuff and that time in our lives came to his mind.

He told me then "You know Mom, much as I really did want all those things Dad was promising he'd get me, I don't regret, not once, making the choice I did -to continue to live with you, even though it was in poverty!"

Now logic like that - well, you just have to love it don't you?

And I have never regretted that he made that decision since then either -even though much of life as we knew it, (still is come to think of it) was pretty much poverty-laden.

But that too is subjective isn't it, as there are many different kinds of poverty - financial really being the last one we should worry about.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dig In!

I did something Tuesday afternoon that I haven't done in several months now. And you know what, I think it's a little bit because I've been taking a few of the meds my doctor prescribed for me to give me a little assist when I start getting really stressed out -the way I was the end of last week! That would be those nice little xanax tablets, ya know!

No, they haven't -if you see the time on this post -exactly corrected or changed my sleep patterns as here it is going on 4 a.m. and I'm awake. Although, I did have a really nice nap in the recliner from about 7:30 p.m. till a little after 11 p.m. plus, I slept last night too for roughly five hours that wasn't all a bunch of tossing and turning either.

Tuesday afternoon, I got in a mood to bake!

I used to love to bake cookies, cake -especially different kinds of bar cookies. When I worked for one special employer back in the 90s, that place I've mentioned a time or two before that is the "World's Largest Private Weather Forecasting Company, I used to bake stuff and take the whole pan full into work the next day to see how long it would take for the vultures I worked with to descend on the stuff and make it all disappear!

I used to always back then bake oodles and oodles of cookies at Christmas and fill up a big cake taker of the Tupperware variety with a large assortment of those cookies and take that in every day then over the Christmas season until I'd pretty much gone through all the baked goods I'd made for the crew at work.

When my kids were still all at home, I baked a good bit for them -and for myself too. But, by the mid-90s, my son was in the Army then, my girls and I liked an occasional cookie or brownie -stuff like that -but to bake a whole batch of cookies, brownies or a cake usually meant half of it would go stale, uneaten by just the three of us in the house. Now, if my son was around, the baked goods didn't last near as long cause he was then running very strong competition to the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

But without him around to munch all the stuff up, including the crumbs, and with me still having the urge to bake, that's about when I started trying to feed the masses at my place of employment. So many of my co-workers there were young guys, fresh out of college, living on their own for the first time, not having all that much money nor the knowledge or impetus either about baking so when I would show up with a big container of goodies, I think I could have taken most anything in and put it out in the break room and they would have eaten it all and done it with great relish too!

But anyway, yesterday I decided first to bake a batch of Swedish Limpa Rye bread. I love this stuff and since I started baking this kind of bread about 3-4 years ago, it's something the whole family really enjoys too. Then, because my son-in-law's two middle children -Shane and Sierra -who live with their maternal grandmother -were going to be here for supper, I decided to bake a batch of Raspberry-oatmeal bars as well cause it just so happens that Shane (age 10) loves those bar cookies -a lot!

And what's more, I decided to show you some pictures of these items too!

Here's what one of the four loaves of bread I baked looked like -all glazed with a little bit of real butter on top of the crust and ready to be sliced up for the supper table.

Here's the plate full of freshly baked, sliced Limpa Rye bread -still a little warm from the oven too -all ready to be slathered with REAL butter on it and eaten with the homemade chicken noodle soup I'd cooked up for supper. (Unfortunately, the soup was okay but not great and also not really photogeneic either, come to think of it. -so not pictures forthcoming of that entree.)

And here's the plate of those Raspberry-oatmeal bars I baked too -before the stepgrandson, Shane, got his fingers dug into them. The plate had 35 bars stacked on it originally and now, the tally is down to about a little over a dozen of them left for snacking today.

Now I'll tell you all a little secret too about baking both these items -easy-peasy! I do NOT bake or cook anything that is really what would be classified as difficult, complicated or any such word along those lines. If it looks like I may have spent hours putting something together but I really didn't do that, and if it tastes great too, then that item goes to my "Do it again" list! I could easily qualify to be the original Marshmallow treats mother, leaning on the doorway and telling the family how I'd just "Slaved hours and hours to make that for you" when in actuality, I'd spent very little time and effort to put the stuff together. Those Raspberry-oatmeal bar cookies take less than 10 minutes, tops, to mix up and get them in the oven and only takes about 20-23 minutes of baking time too. Yep, one bite and it does make most people think they took a lot of work and effort but they didn't!

After I got up from my little nap earlier tonight, I saw the dishes were still piled on the countr by the sink so decided I would finish up that clean-up before heading to the living room, reading blogs, doing my post. That too didn't take me all that long to get that done but it did take me a lot longer to clean the mess up on the kitchen floor when I discovered there was water accumulating there.

In checking the situation out as to the source of the water on the floor, I discovered -much to my chagrin -that whoever had put the dishpan back under the sink earlier sometime yesterday had also inadvertently knocked the drain pipe off-kilter from one half of the sink, so I had to take all the stuff under the sink out, mop that mess up and then, mop up all the water that had sprayed over half the kitchen floor as well before I could get to the task of washing up the supper dishes. Now that was not exactly in my iniitial game plan as you can well imagine. Gonna have to get after the son-in-law to fix that drain pipe so the fixture doesn't come loose again and spray water all over the place for me!

Now, pretty soon, that xanax for the day will start to kick in and I'll be able to go to bed and get a little bit more of a half-decent night's restful sleep. Maybe another nap a bit longer than the normal 3-4 hours my system only likes to allow me too -who knows.

And before doing that, while waiting for the meds to fully kick in, I'll be able to get a couple more stitches in place on the pillow case I'm trying to get finished too!

Tonight -Wednesday evening that would be -Mandy and I are planning to attend a conference on Autism to be held over at Penn State at the Innovation Park there. This is also going to be filmed and broadcast at some later date on the PBS network that Penn State belongs to as well and I'm really looking forward to this event. Here's hoping Mandy and I come back home with some good ideas of ways we can incorporate more things into helping Kurtis and Maya to learn to the best of their abilities.

After all, that's what it's all about isn't it?

Oh and yesterday,when I was using my hand mixer to start the first process of mixing up the bread dough, we even got Kurtis to put his hand on the mixer while it was running and beating the ingredients in the bread dough. THis is a big step for him because for a long, long time now, he would tend to panic and scream bloody-blue murder as soon as I tried to turn the mixer on! Just a few baby steps there for him but darned important ones too, all the same.

If anyone wants the recipes for the bread or the Raspberry-oatmeal bars, leave me a note and I'll be more than happy to share them too! If you're in the vicinity, stop by and have a slab of the bread too if you care to try it too!

Peace and Happy Eating to All and to All a Good Night and better day today too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Traveling Around

If you recall, a short while back, I did -I think - two posts about how I'd like to travel to this place or another, see the sights that are noted for the various places along with having a chance to visit friends and family who live in some of those far reaches.

As my son would say "At this juncture" no travel plans are in my immediate future with the exception of a quick trip for some groceries up to the local store in Kylertown tomorrow, then tomorrow evening, Mandy and I are planning to attend a conference at Penn State University on Autism. Maybe next week, we'll do a run to Walmart for a fairly large stocking up of the shelves The local store I try to visit on Wednesdays because that day is their "Senior Citizen Discount Day" and I get a big old five percent off my total (cigarettes, unfortunately are excluded -RATS!). Oh well, the latter little rant there hopefully will come to an end in the near future as I am hoping, planning, intend to STOP. SMOKING. in the very near future. I just haven't got my resolve in order as yet to set a date, have it carved in stone, etc.

As I told the oncologist I had a couple years back, "It's really hard to part company with some damned good old friends!" However, just as some "old friends" can sometimes be not actually the best friends a person should have, that's how the nicotine is for me. I know all the bad stuff about the smoking. I've known it was not a healthy thing to keep on my list of "things I have to do daily/hourly/every time I turn around!" I know all that and yet, I do believe it really is true that breaking the nicotine habit is right up there on the level of difficulty as is coming off heroin. (I read that someplace, just don't remember now where I read that.)

But yesterday, my cousin -the little "red-head" down in Alabama, made mention to me in her e-mail about my having been thinking about doing some traveling and she remnded me -in her own inimitable style -that if/when I do get off my fat fanny and start moving around -actually leaving the county (Note: I did say county as opposed to the country -I do stay pretty close to the home front, ya know.) that I had best be including some time to stop by her place outside of Birmingham so she and B-man (her husband) can take me around and show me the sights in their neck of the woods.

All of which got me to thinking again about taking a trip or two -or who knows, maybe ten or twenty! If you're gonna dream about something, might as well make it big, don't 'cha think?

If I ever to manage to pull off some kind of travel/vacation, etc.,. it's gonna take me a little while -like several months, maybe even a year or two - to come up with the funds to finance such a venture. And funds -well, they're often a bit difficult to come by any extra stuff in that department.

But then today, I stumbled across something that boy, would really be a help, fit right into my ideas, I thought when I came across this - free stay at hotel!
That would be a really big help in trying to fund my potential vacation plans, for sure.

Sadly, there's a little catch to it for my being able to utilize this idea. A prize to whoever figures out what that little catch 22 might be!

But that's okay. I'll keep on looking, keep dreaming too of a day sometime while I can still see, hear, walk, and also, think -semi-rationally anyway of driving through areas I've never seen before, catching up with relatives along the way that I haven't visited with in many years, and end up, enjoying the company of Cousin Red and her excellent pastry chef extraordinaire husband, the B-Man!

It could happen, ya know. (I am a firm believer in that line by comedienne, Judy Tenuto - "It could happen. It could happen!")

Who knows, I might win the lottery and go buy that big old RV I've always said I'd purchase if that ever happened too!

Then, I could extend my travel route and time and maybe even stop by and visit YOU too!


With the weather having been relatively nice several times in the past week, Mandy took both kids out to let them play on the swingset in the back yard. They had a ball -both of 'em!

She took several -oh like I think about 40-45 shots of the two of them enjoying the swings and I tried to select some to show you that I liked the best. Hard choices there when you all know I think any pictures of my grandchildren are well, just grand. But, I am trying to be a bit objective so here's the ones I selected.
Kurtis on his little swing -a very happy camper.
Kurtis and Maya -with her playing the protective big sister role -for a minute or two anyway.

Kurtis -enjoying his swing ride.
Maya trying to show Kurtis her little trick of touching her toes while on the swing.
Maya - once a ham, always a ham, ya know!
Two to three afternoons a week, Mandy watches the younger son -Matthew -of one of her best friends. Here's the three kids, together, being nice and sociable!

Here's Maya and Matthew. Matthew usually arrives about an hour or two after Maya has left for school and when she returns home, around 4 p.m., usually within 15 to 30 minutes is all the time they have to play together as his Dad usually picks him up between 4:15 and 4:30. That's a bit of a disappointment to Maya as she seems to enjoy talking to and playing with Matthew. Actually, on this picture, she was being very protective of him -yet another role she likes to take on when Matt is around. Isn't he just a little kutie pie too?

I'm still in the "calming down" process and since last night, I was restless, stomach churning a lot when I did go to bed, I decided before I started this post that I would try to resolve that problem by taking a zanax tablet and I can feel those muscles loosening up on me already and the eyes wanting to close too. A good sign if ever there was one.

Earlier this evening, Mandy bathed the kids, gave them their meds and sat down in the recliner with Maya curled up in her lap. Within five minutes, Maya was out like a light! But Kurtis was having his own set of issues -wanting to be up there too, with Mandy holding him but he was more than obvious with the looks he was giving Maya that he felt she was taking HIS space! Finally, I guess he just decided well, if you can't lick ''em, join 'em, because pretty soon he crawled up there too, with his head firmly planted on Maya behind for his own private little pillow! It took him a bit more than five minutes but very shortly, Mandy was pretty much weighed down with both kids across her lap and unable to get up and move either one of them.

Yeah. She got a little assist in moving them and as a result, the house was ultra-quiet and has stayed pretty much that way too since then.

I finally got back to working on my embroidery stuff again. Trying to take it really slow though so as not to get my fingers all sore from too many slips with the needle and getting pinpricks all over the index finger and thumb again. I couldn't even think of trying to work on this over the weekend as my concentration levels were spinning way out of control but tonight, except for an error I made in which I had to back track and take out about 18-20 misplaced stitches, I was able to get a little accomplished with it now. If I'd tried over the weekend to work on this and had that happened, I probably would have been really upset then and might have seen this pillow case land in my pile of unfinished projects then. So far, I haven't had anything that drastic happen since I got on this bipolar kick and have been embroidering.

And that, my friends, is about the exten of things that have been happening around her lately.

I kind of like it this way too!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

To Rest, To Sleep...

I know, I know -I betcha at least a third of my posts over the past year or so have had something in them about my weird, goofy sleep patterns or about how the little grandson had kept me up and awake half the night or some such event that "robbed" me of getting a good night's sleep.

Well, here it is now almost 4:30 a.m. -on a Sunday morning -and yes, I'm awake. Been awake since a little after 1 a.m. too. But prior to that I had a really nice long -like four hours worth -snooze in the good old recliner! Not too shabby, is it? As I mentioned I think earlier this week, normally I don't sleep longer than four hours at a clip much of the time, then I may be up for the better part of the 24-hour period we call a day or sometimes only for an hour or two or four. Whatever.

I fell asleep last night around 8 p.m in the recliner after Maya had come to me -all dressed for bed in her jammies -and crawled up in my lap, wanting to be held and cuddled. It was more than obvious part of this was because Kurt had been fussy -overtired -and Mandy was holding him, getting him to settle down and she was a bit jealous but it was also very obvious she was really tired out too because within about 10 minutes of her laying there with her head on my shoulder, she was out like the proverbial light! And I couldn't keep my eyes open either so we both slept a good, peaceful sleep. Mandy eventually picked Maya up from me and took her out to put her in my bed about 11 p.m. and I promptly drifted back to sleep again.

So, after waking up a little after 1 a.m., I read my e-mails, also read the blog posts that were showing up on my reader, made a comment or two here and there but not many as my mind wasn't really up to having very much to say then.

After that, I washed the dishes that had been piled up on the counter and those Mandy had already put to soak too. I have to snicker to myself about her putting dishes to soak in the dishpan and such because I saw a while back on her Facebook that she had made a comment to a cousin of ours that she absolutely hates it when I put dishes to soak because SHE doesn't ever do that! Hmmm. Me thinks the daughter needs to rethink that comment. She does that stunt every bit as much as I do -kind of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? Oh well, they got washed anyway -well, almost -I still have the silverware in the pan soaking as the water was still steamy hot and I couldn't deal with it right then to go fishing around the bottom of the dishpan to get the silver out to wash it. That's still on my agenda and will get done shortly.

I debated about making a pot of coffee this early -usually if I am up till the wee hours of the morning, I don't make coffee until oh, about 5 or 6 a.m. But I decided I really wanted something to drink and wanted something warm too, so a pot of coffee was made and I'm now enjoying a nice cup of hot java with a smattering of the dry creamer in the gingerbread flavor. Mmmmm. Tastes darned good too, it does.

About the time I got my coffee and sat down at the computer again, I heard a noise coming from the little character who till then had been sleeping away in his playpen. Ah yes, I am not alone in my wakefulness at this early hour as Kurtis is up and awake with me. Thankfully, he is awake and in a good mood -just indicated to me by making the sign language for "more" and saying it aloud too that he wanted milk so I got him that and gave it to him. I tried to bribe him into giving Gram a hug as his payment but he ignored that request. So I told him to say "thank you" and initially, he just plopped down to start drinking the milk but I pressed him again to say "thank you" and then, he gave me a look, said "ank ou" as much as if to say too "Now, leave me the heck alone will ya!"

On Friday, because of all the turmoil going on here in this house, I didn't get around to participating in my blogger friend Shelly's "Only The Good, Friday" event. Truthfully, on Friday I was having a really difficult time seeing good in much of anything -as those of you who read my stuff regularly are already aware. Today -two days after the fact -I am still working on seeing the good but I do know it's there.

This morning, after checking on my financial status, I figured I could afford to make a small donation to help another blogger friend -Mrs. 4444 -in her "Relay for Life" for the Cancer foundation. This is a cause that is as near and dear to my heart as is the Autism Walk my kids and I are involved in too! How could I not try to find a little bit of money to donate to her team? And I did that! I only wish I could have given more -a whole lot more -to that fund!

Mandy's in a happy place now because Saturday afternoon she and her brother went into town and she was able to get herself a new cellphone! She has the cellphone through her brother's account you see and his contract was up so he got a new contract last week and with it, he got a new phone that has all kinds of extra do-dads and stuff on it. Because of that, she was eligible then to get a new phone too and she was really excited because this one she got has a camera with it. She was showing me some pics on her new cellphone last night and I was amazed at the color and clarity of those pictures there. Really sharp, really a neat and great function, for sure. There are times when I think it might be neat to have my own cellphone too but then I think about that realistically and realize what the heck good would it do me cause where we live, you really can't get service here! I wouldn't be able to use it to call anyone or receive calls here at the house so that would mean I would HAVE to leave the house, go someplace ya know, in order to use it, wouldn't I? And that might be a good thing if in fact it did force me to go places and stop being the big, fat recluse I've become for the bulk of my time over the past several years now. Then I'd probably have to learn how to do the damned "Texting" thing too and I really am not into that either so I think I'll continue to pass on the cellphone deals for now.

I see by the posts another blogger friend has been making of late that it appears the blogosphere has been assisting in the formation of a nice relationship too. Now that's nice. Really and truly, it is and I think it's super that these two -"Red and Doc" -have found a good deal of compatibility via the internet! Beats the hell out of those internet matchmaker sites, don't you agree? Kind of makes me a bit wistful and wishing I could meet someone trustworthy via the blogosphere too. But, seeing as I don't know anyone via my lengthy list of "favorites" who are single -for openers -and who are anywhere near my age too, I don't see that as a viable avenue for me to follow.

Not that I am actively searching for anything like that these days anyway though. I pretty much put that part of my life behind me after the last relationship ten years ago turned into a big emotional debacle for me. I've since decided that I am either not meant to have a good, stable relationship due most likely to the fact that I always seemed to attract only the jackasses and I really don't need any reruns of those things in my life.

It does make me wonder at times though what it would be like to be with someone I cared deeply for and who reciprocated those feelings. Sure would be a big switcheroo for me, that much I can say about that idea. Even if I think back to years ago, when the ex and I were married, that was totally a one-sided affair of the heart as I realized then that his feelings for me were no where near what mine were for him. Not a good path to be on for two people married to each other, is it?

It took me a long time -a very long time -before I came to understand I needed to give a damn about myself too before getting involved with anyone else.

Back in the early-to-mid-eighties, I was seeing one guy for about two years and gave some very serious consideration then to getting married again as well. I thought things looked pretty promising but then he gave me an engagement ring and after that, as I looked at more things involved in our relationship, you should have seen the set of cold feet I developed then over about a 2-3 month period! By the time Thanksgiving of that year rolled around, I had decided there was no way I could subject myself and definitely not my kids, to marriage to that guy and I high-tailed it out and away from him so fast it made his head spin -and mine too! A move though that I have never regretted making either as I realized that his methods of dealing with his two sons and how he reacted and responded to my son, were all too familiar to me as they were almost identical to the way my Mom used to respond to me. Her methods involved my never being able to do a damned thing right and being told that over and over and OVER again until I fully believed her theories that I was and always would be unable to do anything worth a tinker's damn. And I really didn't need that -again.

For several years -like about 14-15 of 'em -I drifted around with involvements -none serious because they always involved people who were already involved with someone else. Not necessarily something I am proud of there, but just relationships simply to be in a "relationship of sorts" I suppose you could say.

And then, from February of 1998 to October of 1998, I found myself involved with someone I'd known for about 17 years through when I'd worked as a waitress at the truckstop down the line from here. We'd been friends when I'd worked there. He was easy to talk to, we enjoyed many of the same things, and as he was recently widowed, he was quite a bit different then compared to others I'd previously seen. My kids -well, my daughters anyway -liked him. My son was in the Army and stationed in Germany then so he really never got to know him. I thought I had actually found someone who returned the feelings I had for him. Then, he retired and after that, he decided he could no longer come from his home in Michigan to see me. Yeah, I know -a long-distance relationship is pretty darned difficult to maintain, isn't it?

I t kind of surprised me when he began to make those excuses about driving that far and all, considering the fact when he had still been working, he thought nothing of getting in after his weekly run, gathering some things and coming over here -a 10-hour drive, one way -to spend his day and a half off here with me. But once he retired and didn't have to rush back and forth, suddenly it was all too difficult to do.

It was then that I made the decision that I was much better off to live out my life alone. Initially, I really didn't WANT to do that but then, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed that it was the best route for me to follow. Think not just twice burned but many times more than that. Who needs that much pain anyway?

I'm still pretty much a diehard romantic deep inside -as I love to see others who find someone they can relate easily and well with and to and am happy, very happy for them. But for me, that just isn't something that's ever fully transpired and at this stage of my life now, it's definitely not ever gonna come to pass as I have way to many other issues that would make me totally uncomfortable about any relationship that went even a little iota beyond just being good friends.

A few years back -after the end of the last relationship -I was having coffee one day with a very good friend -an elderly gentleman who was like a father-figure to me for much of my life -and another guy, originally from here but who I'd met for the first time then. The "new" guy asked me why I'd not remarried, why I was still single and my response to him was that I figured I was probably too much of a liability. At that time, I was primarily referring to my debt levels but since then, having had cancer, several other surgeries, including a colostomy, I think that answer still holds true.

Looks like my thoughts of getting in a little more of a catnap this morning are not going to materialize after all now. Kurtis has finished off the milk I gave him and indicated he wanted something else. So, I got him a banana and gave him half, figuring he'd eat that and if he wanted more, I'd give him the other half. However, as he was chomping down the first half, I heard another voice calling to me too, saying "I WANT some banana too, please!" So, Maya got that other half then. It was quite for a little while till Kurtis began alternating between saying "A-nana" and "OUT" so I gave him half of another banana (A-nana) and again, heard that other voice saying she wanted more banana too! She promised when I gave her more banana that she would go back to sleep. So far, as quiet as she's being, I think that may have happened.

Kurtis, on the other hand, while being quiet now, is far from looking like he's going to go back to sleep soon! Right now, he sitting in the middle of his playpen-bed, counting the furs on his "bear" pillow -which is an absolute necessity for him to have in order to fall asleep! That "Bear" is to him, what Maya's yellow lacy blanket has always been to her -his security thing!

And it's fun to watch him as he tugs on the fur on "Bear" -kind of like watching a monkey groom another monkey, if you get the picture there! Maybe doing that for a while will tire him out soon enough though that he'll want to go back to sleep.

I sure hope so anyway cause I'm now starting to feel the need for a little of that commodity too!

Ah rest, to sleep! Please?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Rogers

Yesterday, my blogger buddy, Suldog, did a really great tribute to the late, very great man, Mr. Rogers. This was done because yesterday would have been the 81st birthday of Mr. Rogers -that wonderful, kind, generous, entertaining and very educational man and his program, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

How many have never heard of him? Probably, across the world today, there are very few who haven't seen his show, who don't have some type of memory of that program and how he gently explained so many things to children of all ages -adults included in that too, ya know.

Well, Suldog said in his post that yesterday, everyone was being asked to wear a sweater to honor Mr. Rogers -his memory, his work. And, those of us who read Jim's blog were also supposed to take a picture of ourself, wearing the sweater choice of the day.

I remember very well my kids watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and that frequently I would watch bits and pieces of it too. I always loved how he tried to help kids work through various emotions, new things that are often a little or maybe even a lot, scary for kids -and even adults -to cope with. Such wisdom, such patience. Boy, how I envied him the latter of those qualities!

I mentioned the premise in Suldog's post to Mandy and with a smile, she said she'd have no problem wearing a sweater as a tribute to that show, to that man. When she got Maya dressed for school, I noticed she had pulled out one of Maya's sweaters to wear yesterday.

I didn't get any photos of Maya leaving for school but by the time she got home, I did have Mandy take a couple pictures of Maya and Grammy -both wearing sweaters then just because it was for Mr. Rogers, in his honor, to his memory, on his 81st birthday!

And since I rarely post any photos of myself on this blog -unless they tend to be really, really antique ones from way back in my much younger days -I'll even be brave and put all three of the pictures Mandy took of Miss Maya and me on Mr. Rogers Sweater Day!

And on another note here today too, from conversations yesterday, Kurtis seems to have picked up one of Maya's favorite words now. "Why?"

So now, he goes around saying that frequently however, he isn't doing it expecting any answers to his "Why?" questions like Maya does. Actually, he also answers his own question too now, with a loud and quite expressive "BECAUSE!"

It was too comical last night as we were eating supper and he was doing his usual, jabbering away. Then, out of the blue he says "Why?" -in a sort of whining type tone to his voice and almost immediately, he then pops out with that standard answer we adults frequently give when the "Why" questions become overwhelming. "BECAUSE!" And the emphasis in his voice, the inflection there, was just perfect.

It also provided some very much needed lightness and laughter to a day that was filled with many ups and downs and all kinds of "Whys" that each of us was asking over and over in our minds.

Thanks again to Jim for the "Sweater Day for Mr. Rogers." A tribute I wholeheartedly support. Thanks too to my many blogger friends who have commented, pouring out support in so many ways to me, to my son and to my entire family. It's very, very much appreciated.

And thanks too to a prescription I have for a little white tablet -good old Xanax -which helped to calm my nerves, my stomach, so much so that I was able to finally fall asleep last night and rested quite well.

The problems are still with me, with us -sure. Not gonna go away overnight, not even with that one little pill as there is no magic potion that will do that. But things will improve, things will change too and that's the important thing.

At least today, I don't have a major battlefield being fought over today in the depths of my gut!

And that is a really good feeling right there!