Monday, June 29, 2009

How Does My Garden Grow?

Remember, many years back -like probably 40 some, it was the in thing to take nursery rhymes and kind of twist them around a bit? I used to know a kazillion of those back then. One of my favorites was "Mary, Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and one gosh darned potato!"

Well, my little garden doesn't have any silver bells, or cockle shells, nor does it even have any potatoes in it but by gosh, by golly, it is definitely growing!

Just check these pictures out here if you don't believe me.
Here's what my garden looked like back on June 17th -a mere 12 days ago.

And, here's what it looked like this past Saturday -June 27th.
Here's the lettuce, beets, carrots, peas and first row of the green beans as they were two days ago -on Saturday.
This is what the lettuce, beets, carrots -and that tiny bit of green you can maybe see if you enlarge the picture, between the lettuce and the beets/carrots row, is my green onions and this was TODAY - a mere two days later!
This -above -is the middle section of the garden -from left to right as the picture faces you -peas, two rows of green beans and my cukes -then the corn at the far right.
And here's the peas and green beans as they are today!


And finally, here's the cukes and corn as seen today.
Trust me when I tell you this, considering I am the original "black-thumb gardener" that I am absolutely astonished to see these things flourishing like this in my own backyard! Amazing. Incredible, the sights I saw there today!

It's been well over twenty years since the last time I got brave and/or crazy -call it what you wish -and tried to have a vegetable garden here. Two, maybe three years running, I had the back lot all plowed up and harrowed and meticulously marked out rows in which I planted oodles more than I have in this little "victory" garden (if you will) this year. Heck, I planted lettuce, radishes, onions, peas, carrots, beets, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, cucumbers, squash -all that good stuff in that big old plot.

And, each year as the stuff would start to come up, it would either be eaten immediately by either deer or rabbits -or some other wildebeast known in these parts maybe, or it would just flat out die on me!

My late neighbor, Howard Nelson, who was a fantastic gardener and one who often would swap trade secrets of the home gardening trade with my Grandpa -who, by the way, always had huge and beautiful veggie gardens -would tell me that if my Grandfather were alive to see my attempts at growing stuff, he would be shocked and immediately sent on to eternity by the sight there.

Well, I hope by saying this that I don't jinx myself now, but I hope Grandpa can see this little bit of a garden of mine from where ever he is in heaven and can quit laughing like a loon at my misfortune in the garden department.

Now, let's see how much produce I actually will be able to glean from this puppy in the near future too. My last garden yielded one (yes, 1 -one) cup of peas and that was it!

So let's all cross our fingers and pray! Okay?

Look Into My Crystal Ball

I absolutely have to stop this darned day dreaming stuff. There's no two ways about it but that it has to stop!

What's wrong with a little day dreaming anyway, you ask? Well, technically, nothing. If, like other things, it is done in moderation. That's my theory about it anyway.

But lately, my day dreams have been getting a bit carried away. And then, I start surfing around and finding all kinds of things and mostly end up either drooling or depressed.

One of my recent day dreams got me thinking about office furniture, of all things. And it's all Mandy's fault too, come to think of it.

About 8 or 9 years back, my older daughter and her now ex-husband gave me a nifty chair for me to have to sit in relative comfort when playing on the computer. A nice grey tweedy number, with arm rests and of course, a swivel base too. You could adjust the back a bit so you were either sitting ramrod straight or leaning slightly. (I really needed the "ramrod straight" setting cause the others tended to relax me a bit too much and I'd fall asleep at the computer easier than I usually do. (Heck, back in the day when I worked doing data entry, I could get so relaxed in my chair at work that I would fall sleep while typing! My supervisor gave me the nickname of "Luna" for being able to do that!)

Anyway, that chair after so many years of hard usage was beginning to wear out and a new chair was something Mandy felt I (or we) needed here. So, last month when they had the big "Trash to Treasure" sale on campus at Penn State, she went looking for a new-to-us computer desk chair and found one, almost identical to the one we had except the padding on the seat wasn't all ripped up like my old chair had become.

So getting this spiffy new chair now set the wheels of my old pea brain to churning about what I need to get next -a new computer desk! Yes, indeedy, that would be just the ticket. Definitely do need something that would let me pull out the keyboard without the darned thing falling off the roller-track, tha's for sure!

Well, judging by the type of desks I like, and considering the cost of the darned fuel oil needed to keep us warm during the winter and give us hot water year-round, I'm gonna be wanting for a good little while.

Unless of course, maybe next spring Mandy can find me a nice "new-to-us" spiffy desk at the annual Trash to Treasure Sale!

Hey, it's something to look forward too isn't it? And at least day dreaming like that can give me a better idea of what to tell her to look for then too, ya know.

Danger Zone Ahead!

Sunday, that would be yesterday, ya know, I hadn't had all that much sleep the night before so, shortly before noon, I was a bit tired and decided to take a short nap. I fell right to sleep -no problem -but woke up a little after 1 p.m. and realized I was the only one at home. I had no idea where Mandy and the kids were but I really think it was probably the fact that the house was dead silent that woke me up. Prior to that, with the kids racing and chasing around, quiet was not part of the way the house was operating.

This was one instance in which the fact Mandy has a Facebook account and so do I now that this came in handy. I pulled up my Facebook and there was a parting note, in a manner of speaking from Mandy saying she was on her was to Clearfield with the kids, going to Lowes and also, to Burger King.

Ah, wonderful I thought at first, as I realized I could call her on her cellphone and ask her to bring me something home so I wouldn't have to look for something quick to eat in the fridge then.

Her goal -she said -in going to Lowes was to get more paint so she could repaint one wall in her bedroom -give it a second coat that Bill had decided it needed.

But when she got home, she had the paint (and yes, a sandwich for me too) but she was all hepped up on something she'd seen there too.

Here's the danger zone part of this post: copper kitchen sinks.

Now this was a totally new item for me as I'd never heard of these before. But she was raving -and I do mean raving -about having seen one, in a really sharp red too, she said and my mind immediately started to worry.

Why? Because when she sees something she really likes so much that she is chattering away about it, look out. That means that's usually gonna be something she'll be trying to put on her little list of things she thinks she absolutely MUST HAVE, ya know.

And somehow, I kind of think something like that wouldn't be something she could manage to pick up for a song on one of her many yard/garage sale sprees.

Then again, if she really, really wants it bad enough, it'll be a good thing for her to plan out how to get the money for it,

Right?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fireworks!

I tried and tried, over and over again to get this video to upload to YouTube but it was a no go.

So this evening, after being able to upload it to my Facebook, I thought I'd give it a shot here, using the Blogger video thingy. I figured if I couldn't get it to upload on YouTube then it would probably take forever to get it on using this system but to my surprise, it uploaded fine and dandy and fairly quickly too.

Don't expect anything truly awesome in the photography here -just a little video at the tail end of the fireworks last night.

But the neat thing is that it does have sound and you can crank your volume up and maybe get the feeling you're out watching them in person. All depends I guess on how vivid your imagination might be.

video

Grand Finale!

The other day I took you along with me -via my little camera -to the Parade at Snow Shoe that marked the beginning of the Snow Shoe Fireman's Carnival.

Tonight, I'm taking you back there for the Grand Finale -the FIREWORKS!

Believer it or not, tonight was the first time in all the years I have lived around here that I ever went to see the Fireworks at Snow Shoe at the close of the Fireman's Carnival. I worked just down the road a hop, skip and a jump away from the park where they hold the carnival for seven years. But never was able to go to see the fireworks because I always had to work on Saturday nights so my kids never got to see this. Plus, back then, I never had the extra funds that one would need to take three kids to a carnival as there would be money needed for tickets for rides, plus the games and to say nothing of how much it would have cost for all the different -but good -junk food available too.

However, tonight, Mandy and the kids, along with my son, his girlfriend and her daughter and I all went down there specifically to watch the fireworks.

Now, we've been over to State College a couple of times for their big Fourth of July celebration and the fireworks display they put on between Beaver Stadium and Bryce Jordan Center on campus and that is awesome, most definitely i t is. The fireworks there are regarded as one of the best in the country -all choreographed and set to music. Really a fantastic site to behold, for sure.

And now, the display at the carnival isn't near as big. But that also comparing apples to oranges if one were to judge one against the other here. But I think for a forty-five minute display such as we saw tonight, it was pretty damned good! So my kudos go out to all the people from the Snow Shoe area and the fire company who worked to put this event together as You. Done. Good! REALLY, REALLY GOOD!

One thing though -the State College event starts their fireworks show at 9:30 and it runs I think for an hour or perhaps a little longer. I really have no idea there. But the Snow Shoe folks don't start their display until 11:00 p.m. which really threw us off a bit.

Even though Mandy had managed to get Kurtis to take a nice nap this afternoon in hopes it would keep him from being a total crabby-appleton tonight, since the display didn't start till so late, the benefits of that nap had run out long before the fireworks began. So we actually had two kind of fireworks ongoing then -Kurtis fussing like crazy a lot of the time and then, the fireworks.

We got down there a little after 9:00 p.m. and so, had loads of time to wander around, milling about the crowd there. We did stop and get something that is an absolute must if you are going to be at one of these carnivals though.

Funnel Cakes!

Mandy, Clate and I each had a big funnel cake and we all figured that, considering the sweet tooth both Maya and Kurtis have, that they would enjoy and probably end up pigging out on our funnel cakes. But that's not the way it played out as both of them got on their finicky food horse tonight and wouldn't even take a taste of our funnel cakes. Fine by me cause that meant there was that much more for me to enjoy cause I do love me some funnel cakes, for sure!

Maybe someday I try making some at home and see if they'll try 'em then. Hmmm. That might not be such a good idea though cause if they were to turn out ok and if the kids would decide to be brave and try one, I might make a monster demanding funnel cakes all the time then.

While we sat at a picnic table and enjoyed our funnel cakes, watching all the locals walk by, to my surprise a lady came up to our table and spoke to me. Took me a couple seconds before things registered and I knew who it was because I haven't seen her in many, many years. But it was Dee Dee, one of the girls I used to waitress with at Max's Restaurant about 21-28 years ago! It was probably the first time Dee Dee has seen Mandy and Clate too though since they were both just little kids. She stayed and chatted with us for a good while until the kids wanted to go back to our vehicles to get ready to watch the fireworks display. That's when we found out they wouldn't be putting them off until 11 p.m.!

Where we had parked turned out to be a really good vantage point though to see the fireworks.

We had parked beside the baseball field -by the concession stand there I think -((well by some building within the fence anyway. Mandy had my jeep with the front end by the fence and Clate had his truck which he was able to park beside the building. With the tailgate pulled out and a blanket on the bed of the truck though, Maya and Rachel (Clate's girlfriend's daughter) were able to stretch out on the blanket and lay there, watching the display.

I stood in front of the jeep -with the fence right in front of me and on some pictures, you probably can see the bar that went down the fence horizontally. And maybe you can even make out the fence itself in some of the shots. But anyway, remember when looking at these pics that I just have a little Kodak digital and although it has a setting to use for fireworks, I am still not all that great at photography either. So keep that in mind when you look at these pictures.








The last one here kind of reminded me of a picture of giant sperm cells wafting down out of the black sky. Okay, enough of my artistic interpretations, huh?

I did got more pictures of the fireworks but I'm sure some are probably saying hey, you see one still photo of some fireworks going off and you've seen 'em all. Maybe, if I get really ambitious, I might put them all in an album and post that to my facebook account so you can see them all there then if you are a diehard fireworks fan or something like that.

I did get two little videos of the fireworks too and although I was gonna put them on YouTube and load them here from there, I really am too darned tired tonight to putsy around waiting for them to load on YouTube so in stead, I'll just have to wait to show them to you.

I figure you'll all understand my being tuckered out tonight and kind of wanting to go to bed now, won't 'cha?

Hope so and besides, doesn't that give you something to look forward too that way?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sucky Mood!

Do you ever have one of those days -maybe even several -where all kinds of little things keep happening and begin to really bug you?

I'm having one of those kind of days today it seems and when these things build up and then go into "overflowing" mode on me, my best recourse is to find a way to grump a bit about it or else, I'm liable to get really, really ticked off and explode.

So guess who gets to listen to me grump then?

In this instance, I'm gonna use you -my lovely readers -because if I say anything to the culprit here in the house, I'll probably say too much or if nothing else, just get my blood pressure on an uphill road and I don't really care to have that happen.

So let's talk a bit, OK?

There are certain things that really bug me. I mean REALLY bug me! One of these concerns the bathroom and in particular, the vanity.

It took me a long, long time to find a way to get my bathroom semi-remodeled and to get a nice vanity in there. Heck, it's all part and parcel of my lovely reason to have this stinking mortgage hanging over my head that will be around long after I'm dead and gone too, considering there are 20 years left to go on it. So, with that said, I'd really like to have the vanity kept in decent shape, if at all possible.

So what's my issue here?

Someone in this household has managed in the past month to get dye marks, from hair dye that are permanent type marks -won't scrub off to save your soul -for openers on the vanity.

Then there's the hot curling straightener things someone insists on using -which I wouldn't mind -except that person leaves the darned things on and laying on the vanity and there are now some brownish marks on the other side of the vanity top from those hot curling iron things.

And the straw that is about to break the camel's back -in this case -make me really lose my cool, calm, cucumberish outlook, ya know, is the constant need to be wiping up the vanity -scrubbing it down almost hourly at times, wiping all around the bathroom faucet to try to get all the long black hairs that manage to accumulate all the time there. Sometimes, there are so many of these long hairs there that I am wondering if the vanity has not turned into a thing that grows these hairs!

This stuff really bugs me -a lot! I hate to go in there day in and day out and find all these hairs especially in the bowl, on the vanity, on the wall even but especially around the faucet. You can't wash your hands or brush your teeth without first giving the darned sink a good cleaning out, over and over.

And speaking of "over and over" -that's how many times I have addressed these issues with the chief offender here too and all to no avail.

Any suggestions on what you might do to get this person attuned to cleaning the vanity and bowl and fixtures off after a little hair combout? Or maybe not having to comb her hair every hour on the hour might help a bit. The marks on the vanity I'm pretty much stuck with now but I did make it know that I want no more hair dye stuff going on in the bathroom sink and that rule better be held to or else.

Gee, I feel so much better having gotten all this ranting, petty as it may be, off my chest.

Thanks for being such good listeners.

Some Rough Nuggets

Boy, the past week has been a mix of some really nice days -sunny, warm, breezy too and things like that do a lot to perk one up, for sure.

But then there are other little things that come along and really can knock the wind our of your sails too.

For openers, two small children with autism who decide to throw a tantrum by doing a big hop and plop and then, make their body go all limp and you have to try to get them upright and moved away from wherever they happen to be and off to the side. Like my grandson the other night at the Fireman's Parade who had a hissy fit when we got to where we wanted to sit with some friends and did one of those plop down and go limp deals. You try to lift up a kid that while still small, a toddler, is also dead weight. That ain't no easy thing to do.

Then there's my lovely garden. Yeah the plants are growing ok, aside from seeing this darned blight stuff on the leaves of the green beans and now the peas too. But it's all still growing, so I guess that's good. But the bad part for me is trying to keep the weed level down to a dull roar. The old back and legs don't like to cooperate with me when it comes to that bend and stretch kind of stuff.

Last night, my intestines decided to go on the warpath too. Lots and lots of cramping pains while they worked to shove things along the intestinal tract and boy, I was looking for something to hold on to while that was going on too.

All these things -each in their own right -can have me looking around for something really strong to lean on, to pull the grandkids up, to steady me while I putter in the garden or just to get a good grip on to ride out the pain when the intestines go wild on me.

I'm thinking I need some kind of industrial handles maybe might be a useful tool to help me out in situations like any of the above. Do ya think that might work? I dunno but I'm thinking it might just be worth looking into!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Lunch Bunch

Since December of 2007, a few friends from my high school class and I have been meeting for a nice, leisurely lunch at a nearby restaurant. We meet a Key Largo -which is about six miles from where I live at noon on the last Thursday of the month.

Well, that's our scheduled time and place although back in March of this year, we did venture out and tried the food at the Hotel 1921, a new restaurant in Philipsburg, on the first floor of the what once was the lovely Hotel Philips many years back.

We had talked about trying out some other locations from time to time and in March, when another classmate of ours (who was living in Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina blew into town and destroyed her home ) and who has been residing in the condo she and her husband have in Destin, Florida since then, had contacted me that she would be coming north to bring her Mom back to PA for the summer months and it just so happened that her arrival here coincided with our lunch meet-up. That month, we ended up having two lunch meetings though.

Although our friend from Florida ended up having her flight into Harrisburg the day before our lunch canceled, but another classmate was coming up from Carlisle, PA and that girl's sister was coming in from Cleveland for the occasion, we had that meet-up and then, the following week, after the girl from Florida finally made it up here, we met again then with a few others too from our class.

It's been, from the start, a really nice, laid-back way for the four-five of us who have been getting together for the past year and a half now a great way for us to stay connected with each other, and also, because some of us are related to others from our class or surrounding classes, we can kind of keep "in the know," so to speak, with other old friends and acquaintances too.

Another classmate of ours, with whom I keep in touch via e-mail correspondence, had written about five weeks or so back to tell me that she and her husband would be starting their vacation on June 19th, leaving their home in Georgia and heading north in their RV to take in lots of sights along the Atlantic coast and even up into Canada too. Because they both have family still in this area, the first leg of their vacation was going to be spent camping at a very nice state park near here -Black Moshannon State Park -and she wondered if perhaps our group could make arrangements to meet at a time during the week they would be here.

Well, things worked out beautifully because the week they would be camping near here was also the week with the last Thursday of the month and therefore, our scheduled Monthly Lunch Bunch Meeting.

And so, today we gathered -six of us from our class, plus two friends of one of the other attendees for a really fun visit together. The two new folks are members of a bowling team of one classmate -one who was totally new to all the rest of us but the other lady just happens to be married to a classmate of ours and all the rest of us there already knew her quite well too.

Unfortunately, two of our regulars were not able to make it here today. I don't know what happened to Carol, as she usually writes to let me know if she'll be attending or not but I didn't hear anything from her. And Rose, well that lucky pal of ours is vacationing right now in Mexico with her sister!

But anyway, I succeeded in getting a couple pictures today of our mini-reunion group and here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

Here are the six of us -classmates who graduated together in May of 1962 from the Cooper Center West Branch Area High School, Cooper Center. From left to right going around the table there's yours truly, Betty Veres Boron, Linda Wertz Payne, Kate Nelson Eyerly, Doris Thompson Malinky and Arline Anderson Stover.

Above -Betty Boron Veres (the only member of our group still working) and Linda Wertz Payne.

Here's a closer shot of Kate Nelson Eyerly and Doris Thompson Malinky.

And finally, here's a picture of Doris Thompson Malinky and Arlene Anderson Stover.

Arlene is our classmate who now lives in Georgia and the other five of us still reside in this region.

The really nice thing about our lunch today was that it was a nice special reunion for Doris, Betty and Arlene as those three were like the :Three Musketeers" -always together, usually talking and giggling back then too. And today was the first time since graduation that Arlene had seen Betty! How's that for making the event just a bit more special?

We're hoping that at some of our future lunches meetings, so girls from other classes around ours might be visiting in the area and able to join us too. So if you're reading this -Gracie and Margie -let me know when you plan to be back home for a couple days and I'm sure we can pull something together then for another extra-special kind of lunch meeting!

Nothing like some good food and lots of laughter and fellowship between some old friends to make for a great day.

Opening Parade

It's that time of year again here. Time for the parades to begin as each area has some kind of celebration throughout the summer and many of them start those little fireman's carnivals or holiday celebrations with a nice little parade.

And today was the day for the little town of Snow Shoe -about 15 miles to the east of us -to kick-off their annual Fireman's Carnival with a great parade.

We had an easy supper this evening -just some cheeseburgers I cooked on the grill -enough to qualify for a lite supper for Mandy, the kids and me. From the time Kurtis sat up to the table, all he wanted to do was to tell us "Go si." Translated, that means in his vernaculr, "Go outside" as he remembered when he woke up from his nap that Mandy had been talking about going someplace tonight and he apparently wanted to make darned sure we didn't forget about that too.

We got to the carnival/parade location and found a spot to sit -almost directly across the road from where we sat last year. The nice thing about this year though was that where we sat was right beside the daughter of our neighbors across the road -Heidi and her daughter, Kira, who is a year older than Maya -along with a good friend of Heidi and Mandy's -Margery and her daughter, Alexia, who is three months younger than Maya. The three little girls had a great time, getting acquainted and enjoying scrounging together for the candies the people on the floats and/or firetrucks tossed out at them.

Getting settled in our spot took a bit more patience than we had reckoned with initially though as Kurtis was not in the best of humor at first and he kept crying -LOUDLY -announcing to everyone and their brother what he wanted to do -"GO SI!" We kept telling him, Kurtis -you are outside but it took a good 10-15 minutes before he finally calmed down a bit.

Here there are a few of the pictures from the parade. I have lots more than these but not as many as I took last year when I think I got a snapshot of every firetruck, ambulance, band, float than came up the pike in the parade. I missed getting a picture of the entry unit -the color guard and also, of the Bald Eagle Area School band as well. Hopefully next year I'll be more prepared for the opening units.

So here goes -let's watch a little of the parade.

The first firetruck was, quite fittingly, from the Snow Shoe Volunteer Fire Company and this is what Kurtis had been waiting for -fire engines galore!

Smokey the Bear always comes to this parade too.


This was one of the entries from Clearfield's Fire Department. I live in Clearfield County and Clearfield is our county seat which is about 35 miles to the west of Snow Shoe. If I'm not mistaken, I think this unit is something they purchased for special rescuse in the water or something of that nature.

A "brush buggy" from the village of Karthaus -which is about 15-20 miles to the northwest from Snow Shoe. This company had three vehicles in the parade.


One of two units representing Morris Township -which is the township adjacent to where I live, just a bit to the south of Cooper Township.


And here's the entry from my hometown -the good old Grassflat engine!

There were fire companies representing towns from Philipsburg to State College, Milesburg, Bellefonte too -a whole lot more, needless to say, than the few I selected to show you here.

Here's Mandy, holding Kurtis with Maya by her side as they watched this float from the agency that provides the therapists, psychologist, psychiatrists, teachers and case managers who work with Maya and Kurt and who, I have to say, have all done an excellent job with the kids. This float and the photo below it were very much loved by both kids, but especially Kurtis, who loves Elmo!



Now, these next pictures are of some of the members of the West Branch Area High School Marching Band and although I missed getting a shot of the color guard, I had to get this shot because this is "Miss Katie" -the 17-year-old here all decked out in her majorette uniform. Looks pretty darned snazzy, doesn't she?



The next couple of pictures are more of our school's band. They put on a really good presence when they appear and I'm really proud to say considering our school is small by comparison to most of the others in this area, we do have a very good sounding as well as sharp-looking band!





And that's the highlights of the Snow Shoe parade!

After all the firetrucks, cars, tractors, bands and mini-majorette groups had passed by us, we gathered up our stuff and headed to the car. However, when we got to the row where Mandy had parked the jeep, we had a bit of a rude awakening at first. Seems several of the fire trucks had been parked in the driving aisle behind our car and we thought we were gonna be in for a long wait until the drivers returned and moved them out.

However, there were two lucky breaks for us in respect to the trucks being parked there. The first was that one truck -from the fire company in Houtzdale there was a young man, a member of that company, who was seated atop the fire engine. As Kurtis and I walked beside the engine, he sensed that Kurtis was really excited about being that close to a big fire engine and he hopped down and asked Kurtis if he'd like to see the truck "up close and personal." And so, he began to show Kurtis where the rest of the firemen ride when they are enroute to a call, pointed out some of the various types of equipment they wear too.

Then, he asked Kurtis if he'd like to see inside the cab too but I explained to the young man that although Kurtis was enjoying all this, because he is autistic, he doesn't always understand all the stuff he was seeing and hearing. But I asked the fireman if he would mind -provided Kurt would let him pick him up -to hold him by the door to the cab of the fire truck. He agreed immediately but just as fast as he agreed to this, Kurtis decided he wanted no parts of the guy picking him up. About that time, Mandy and Maya, along with Katie and a couple of her girl friends appeared and we were able to get Kurtis to let Katie pick him up so he could see into the cab of the truck. I think you can tell by the look on his face how mezmerized and thrilled he was to see this engine so closely.

After that, we lucked out a second time as by the time we got to the jeep and got our stuff in the backend, the people who were parked in a car directly in front of us appeared and were leaving too. So we were able to pull out then with no need to wait on the drivers of the fire engines to return and move those units!

And that's the end of the Snow Shoe Fireman's Parade for this year.

Hope everyone reading this loves a parade because if the weather holds up and all else goes well, we'll be attending the next parade on the Fourth of July up at Osceola Mills because our badn will be marching in that one too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scary Things!

My memory for recent things seems to be pretty much toast. Burnt toast, very black and crisp at that!

I can't recall now if I mentioned the other day about the new trick Mandy and I discovered we can use to keep Kurtis relegated to the living room but in case I didn't, I'll tell you about that tonight. If I already mentioned this, then my apologies for being repetitive.

I'm pretty sure I have said how Kurtis has had a lot of sensory issues -mostly to loud things, equipment running -those kind of sounds.

For a long time his main problems of things that scared the heck out of him consisted primarily of these items: Hair dryer, curling brush, food chopper, mixer and the one he really hated, would practically have a coronary when he saw it coming into view was the vacuum cleaner.

His fears of the hair dryer and curling brush were the first to diminish. The food chopper and the hand mixer took a little longer. These days, the food chopper doesn't seem to phase him at all and the mixer, well -it gets his attention if he hears it but now he will come running to the kitchen to see what is making the noise and once he sees it is the mixer with either Mandy or me using it, he gets this look of relief on his face and then, goes back to whatever mischief he'd been into before.

The vacuum though has taken a bit longer to get acceptance with him. It used to be whenever Mandy hauled it out, he would go into a screaming frenzy but nowadays, when Mandy gets ready to run it, she always tells me to get ready for an incoming child. And, as soon as she would turn it on, he would come running to me, wherever I might be and promptly try to climb up in my lap and then, hang on for dear life, all the while watching his mother to make sure that evil machine wasn't coming after him.


Lately though, he doesn't always have to have someone hold him while the vacuum is running but he will climb up into one of the recliners and just sit there until the task at hand is completed.

B ut the other day, Mandy was trying to clean out the vestibule by the front door and in doing so, she had the vacuum in use for a while. When she finished using it out there, she moved it into the doorway (actually it is an archway) between the living room and dining room and just let it sit there for a while.

Then, out in the vestibule she came across this mask that we had bought last Halloween. It's an old man, with long, stringy white hair, a very long, craggy face and a bit of a bald spot on the top. We bought it because we knew immediately that it was the kind of silly thing my son, Clate, would love to prank people with. That, plus there were certain characteristics about it that reminded both Mandy and I of her Dad. Boy, this is one of those times when I am really relieved that my ex doesn't read my blog (or at least I am pretty sure he doesn't read it anyway) because he has always fancied himself to be quite the looker. His favorite thing was always to take a long, long look at himself in the mirror -after combing his hair, shaving, etc., and say "You good looking son-of-a-bitch! Don't you ever die." (No conceit in his family cause he has it all, ya know.

Well, Mandy knows that this mask is something that absolutely terrifies Kurtis -sends him into total screaming hissy fits. And sometimes, I guess you could say she can have a touch of a mean or maybe just plain ornery streak because knowing how afraid he is of that mask, she got it out and casually put it on the handle of the vacuum cleaner to see what reaction he would have.

Yeah, he screamed and cried, then after she moved the maxk but left the vacuum standing in the same spot, he was still frightened and ended up perched on the couch then till she put the vacuum away. So now we're seriously thinking of putting the vacuum in that same spot anytime we don't want him to go chasing through the rest of the downstairs rooms.

But tonight I had a big scare myself.

Mandy and the kids had gone to a birthday party for one of Maya's school friends, Katie was at majorette practice and Bill had been home but had left to go pick Katie and her friends up at the school.

It was shortly after 9 p.m. and the darkness outside was rapidly closing in. I was occupied in the recliner near the side window of the living room, watching tv while really concentrating too on working on the strawberry and vines tablecloth. So engrossed as a matter of fact that I didn't notice any activity at all out on the road in front of our house but then too, as dark as it was by then, I probably wouldn't have been able to see anything moving there anyway.

But, as I said, I was really paying attention to the embroidery to make sure my stitches were smooth, straight, etc., when all of a sudden there was this noise -a really, really loud growling and very menacing sound at the window near my chair.

Hearing this noise that jolted me out of my work trance, it also startled me so much I think I may have jumped several inches off the seat of the recliner too.

And as soon as I did, I regained my wits and compusure as I realized the noise coming from that window was my goofball son, who had snuck down here and put his face right up to the screen and as loud as he could had done this ARGGGRRRRRRR! sound.

Of course, he was laughing like a loon, as were his girlfriend, Betty, and her little girl, Rachel! A nice trick he'd managed to pull off on me for sure. I told him if I suddenly got about 15-20 new white hairs they would all be his fault. And he darned lucky that I wasn't pushing the damned needle through the fabric when he did that and when I jumped cause if I would have given my finger a big prcik with that needle and if it would have drawn blood right away and that blood would have fallen on the white fabric of this table cloth I've been slaving over for at least 3 1/2 weeks now, well you better beliefe there would have been hell to pay!

When Mandy got home and I told her the trick her brother had pulled on me tonight, she got almost as good a laugh out of that as Clate did.

Daqrned kids anyway! Always have to be trying to do something to drive a parent crazy, don't they?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Taking the Plunge!

Quite a few months ago, my daughter -Mandy -decided to set up a Facebook account for herself. At that time, she sent me an e-mail invitation to join in and set up an account for myself.

Frankly, I couldn'tsee what the big thrill was with Facebook. Besides that, how many people would I be able to find as "Friends" from my past, in my age range and such.

And, my other logic was that I sure as Hell didn't need something else computer-related to which I might possible get addicted. And I most certainly didn't have any spare time to putsy around on something like the darned Facebook when I have all kinds of blogs to read every day from my Reader, trying to come up with posts from time to time as well that are even half-interesting in addition to wracking my pea brain daily to think up something yummy to fix for supper, watch the two little ones and try to keep them on the "straight and narrow" too. Add to that, the three boxes packed with various embroidery projects I have now acquired and would like to get at least some of them completed during my lifetime.

Plain and simiple, in my estimation, there were not enough hours in a day as it was for me so why would I ever think of adding something as time-consuming as Facebook to my jam-packed schedule.

Now that doesn't mean that I haven't often peeked in on Mandy's Facebook, read some of the stuff there, enjoyed a chuckle or two -or ten from time to time. Because, yes I have. I've even ventured out and made a couple comments now and again on her account too but she got a little testy about that and told me to get my own damned Facebook!

And I held out on doing that until last week when a friend from over in Ohio who I met through some common interests in local history and family tree research about 9-10 years ago, sent me am e-mail invitation to join Facebook so I could see all her photos there.

Hmmm. I debated for at least 4-5 days over the idea and then, finally, last night, I bit, took the plunge , I did and now, I too am a member of the Facebook community!

I stayed up till after 4 a.m. Monday morning in search of people I know and sending out requests then for them to add me as a friend. Yes, I did that!

I spent a lot of time on it off and on all day today too -finding more people, sending friend requests to them and then, tonight after having done all that and finally having finally finished reading all the posts from last night and today on my reader, I decided it was time to sit back, write a post for the old blog and relax with the last cold bottle of Yuengling that's been in the fridge for close to six months now!

Too my surprise, my "Friend" count is now up to 47 people. One of my friends is a lady who is a writer, interested too in local history, with whom I had communicated for aabout 4-5 years but we lost contact about 3, maybe 4 years ago, and now, what was lost has been found again! Neat, huu?

You betcha!

Ok, very few of those on my Friend list are in my age range, that much is true. Instead though, I have made connections with numerous cousins -children of my frist cousins on both sides of my family tree and that's great! That alone will aid me tremendously in trying to keep my family trees a little better up-to-date.

A lot of those on my friend list are younger folks who I have worked with over the years. Some are friends of Mandy's too and even have one of the therapists who worked with Maya and Kurt over the past 4 years too.

And I also have a lot of my blogger friends on my Facebook friend list as well! Just a faster way of keeping in contact too with some of those folks.

And y ou know what?

At the end of this day -after about 24 hours of living in that fast lane of Facebook, I even have a big photo albumk posted there now too with 70 pictures of my kids and grandkids -the most important things in my life -for all the Facebook community who "friends" me to see!

And you know what else?

I was right about one thing -it is addictive. Damned addictive, for sure.

But I have to say this much for it too -I'm loving it!

Come join me there, why don't 'cha?

I'll be waiting to "friend" you. All ya gotta do is ask!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

oF CHICKENS, Eggs and "Mystery Bread"

Well, first off, it looks like perhaps we have found a home for one of the lovely little kittens. A young couple who Mandy "met" via her Facebook stopped by here Friday night with their little girl and decided they want to take Diego -the buff colored male kitten -to live with them. However, they are going on a vacation next week and asked if we would please not let anyone take that kitten in the interim but keep him until July 6th and they'll pick him up then. Sure, no problem. On second thought, I was thinking about this deal today and maybe I should have made them sign a contract that they will definitely follow through and take said kitten on said date, huh?

Then, later last night they called back and asked if maybe they could switch from taking Diego to getting his twin sister, Dora instead. Mandy's father-in-law had sort of put his dibs on Dora though but Mandy said she would talk to him and she figures if she tells him some really cute little three-year-old girl really, really wants Dora that he'll relinquish his bid on that kitten.

Today marked a big day in the life of my childhood friend and neighbor here. It was my friend Kate's birthday. Considering I've mentioned in the past on numerous occasions my own age and I will say this much that she is four months older than me, then you will know how old Kate turned on Saturday, June 20th, won't 'cha?

From the time Kate and I were little kids -predating elementary school even -our mothers started the tradition of us at least making sure that we gave a card to each other on those birthdays then and these many years since, it's something Kate and I have always tried to remember and continue that little remembrance. Her older sister Shirley and I also try to remember to do the same for her birthday and mine as well.

Occasionally we even give each other sime little gift for a little surprise too.

This year, I confess that I hadn't really given all the thought I should have for a little "something" to give Kate but came upon the idea this morning because I was figuring on baking a batch of bread that, if it looked like it was going to turn out nice (the bread, that is) that I would take a fresh loaf of bread down to her with her card.

Once in a blue moon I might break down and bake white bread or maybe cinnamon-nut-caramel rolls but normally, when I do bake bread, I generally make the recipe I have for the Swedish Limpa rye bread. I've given Kate and her husband -also her daughter, Karen as well as Shirley a loaf of fresh bread from time to time so I know they do like this type of bread. Shirley often sends me a loaf of her white Swedish Kaka bread -just like their Mom did for many, many years for me on my birthday and at Christmas. (They know I dearly love Swedish Kaka bread and also, that I have never made the stuff myself either so it's a real treat when I do get a loaf of Shirley's bread. It's every bit as good as their Mom's was and she was a ACE Kaka bread abkaer!0

So I started to gather up the ingredients and pulled out the flour containers, only to find myself a bit confused. Seems I have three containers of flours that I'm not sure what kind of flour each one contains. A few months back -in a flash of brilliant thinking -I decided to take the flour I had still in the bags and dump each type into a tupperware container so I could store it without fear of it getting "wormy" on me. Only problem with my really smart move is that I didn't bother to label what type of flour is in each of these three containers and now, I can't tell one from another!


Two of these containers I know contain rye flour and/or whole wheat flour and the third container, I have not clue one as to what kind of flour it might be!

So I ended up making a few phone calls to some others around here who I know are notorious for baking bread in hopes that one of them could give me a clue as to how to determine if the container with the red lid is rye flour or if what's in the container with the blue lid is rye or is it whole wheat.

In the process of making these phone calls, I didn't really get any hard, fast answers to my dilemma, but I did find out about a store up in Kane, Pa where one can actually buy the twice-ground rye flour that really is best to use in baking Swedish limpa rye instead of the stone-ground stuff that is the only kind of rye flour that is availalbe in ANY of the grocery stores within about a 60 mile radius, at least, of here. (Damn Pillsbury for discontinuing making rye flour anyway!)

So, I decided to take my chances on making the bread today and measured out flour from the container with the red cover.I mixed it up, tasted the dough on a couple of occasions and all that but still wasn't sure as to the type of bread I was gonna end up with -rye or whole wheat.

When the bread was finished baking, I hurried and got it out of the oven, out of the pan and on to the counter and then, just as quickly wrapped it in a piece of aluminum foil and dropped it into a little gift bag, along with the card I had for Kate.

I got Maya to go with me and Mandy had helped Maya to make a little birthday greeting too that she could give her from herself and Kurtis -she printed it all by herslef -with Mandy just telling her some of the words to print on the paper.

Before we left the house though, I reached in the fridge and got out a stick of real butter, stuck that into a snack-sized zip lock bag and took that with us as we strolled down the road to Kate's house.

When we got there, I coached Maya a bit, telling her to first give the card she'd made to Kate and then, to give her the snack-bag and to tell her that was soething for her birthday to go with the package Gram had for her. That didn't all go exactly as I'd planned or hoped it would, but it was close enough and Kate got a kick out of it -just as I kind of figured she would.

She was really surprised though when I handed her the gift bag and she figured out right away that it was a loaf of bread but she was really a bit flabbergasted when she realized it was not just warm, but rather still very hot from having just come out of the oven.

So, Kate and I had a little time to sit and visit, talk about this, that and other things. Just a nice remembering for us about lots of things.

Earlier today though, Mandy and Maya had gone over to Walmart -about 20 miles from where we live -and while there they saw a lady who lives up the road about 3/4 of a mile or so from us -Patti. Now Patti and her family have a great big garden with everything and anything I think planted there. Plus they also have cats, chickens and even a couple of huge -and I do mean really HUGE turkeys too. One of these birds weighs well over 50 pounds! Can you imagine having to slaughter that bird, dress it out and trying to find a pan big enough to cook it in? I sure as hell can't and I'm thinking at that weight, how many hours would you have to have it in the oven to roast it clear through too!

Well, Patti knows the kids love to come visit her and to see the animals they have there and she was telling Mandy that they just recently got a bunch of new peeps too and for us to bring Maya and Kurt up to see the chickens and turkeys, etc.

Maya was all ears about this prospect too but then she posed a question to Patti that really cracked her and Mandy up.

"Do chickens crap eggs out of their butts?"

Yeah, that's what Maya wanted to know today.

Patti laughed and told her chickens lay eggs and they push crap out of their butts!

And maya was quite content then with that answer -either that or for the first time in a long time, she was speechless and had no "Why?" question back to Patti's answer!

Don't 'cha just love some of the things kids come out with though?

Now, anyone out there got a sure-fire way for me to figure out what kind of flour I have in each of these containers? They both look a lot alike and I can't tell by the aroma nor could I tell by trying to taste the flour either.

Although, baked and sliced and slathered with good REAL butter, I kind of think the flour I opted to use today may have actually been whole wheat as it had what seemed to me a sweeter flavor to it than the rye normally does.

Whatever, at any rate, the bread turned out darned good -even if I do say so myself and we -the family and I - managed to polish off one loaf this evening!

That leaves us now with only two loaves of the "mystery bread" for us to enjoy.

So I think I'll be mixing up another batch, possibly Sunday afternoon -and if it turns out as good as this batch did, then I am going to bag up three loaves and take them with me to the homes of three folks from our church who are shutins and who are on my "caregiver" list. This is a new thing for the newly formed Caregivers group we recently organized. Each of us in the group is to visit -just a simple "stop to say hello, how're you doing" type of brief visit to those on each one's list and I was thinking that to take a loaf of freshly baked bread and give it, maybe it will help to break the ice a bit then for me with the three people on my list this month.

At least I'm hoping it will work that way. Then, I can most likely regale those folks with some of the antics of my grandchildren too.

That's usually another good ice breaker too.

At least, I'm sure as heck hoping it works out that way!

And before I forget, here's wishing all you guys who have children, grandchildren too, get the recognition you deserve and have a really great Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Of Race, Ethnicity and Religion

If you want to read some really great posts today -about racism and prejudices -check out these two bloggers -Suldog and The Surly Writer -with their joint post about those things. It's really a great read, a tremendous eye-opener too about these issues. The name of the post is "Juneteenth." And, if you've never read either of these bloggers stuff before, I highly recommend that you snoop around on both sites and you'll find some really great stuff, for sure!

After reading both their posts on the topic of racism, I decided to pull out an article I wrote five years ago this spring for the little, now defunct, monthly newsletter publication I used to write for from time to time.

This piece addresses the type of prejudice that was really a huge issue in this area from the beginnings of this village and through the 50s, even stretching a good bit into the 60s here too.

After this piece was published, many folks from around the area came to me and told me how they too had been raised to feel inferior or superior to others in the area based simply on what country their ancestors had come from and what church they belonged to. Some of my friends and I have had numerous discussions too about the similiarities and differences of our childhood and the prejudices that existed and how much we feel now that we missed by not being allowed to play freely with others in the village.
Traitorous Taste-buds
By Jennifer Hill Ertmer
Published June 2004 – West Branch Review

I grew up in a very segregated society, not in the south, but right here in the middle of Pennsylvania, in the little coal-mining community I still call home – Grassflat.

No, it wasn’t segregated based on what most people think about when you use that term – not on race, but rather based on one’s ethnicity and religion.

When I was a young’un, one’s ethnic background and religious choices were of utmost importance to where I was allowed to go, who I was permitted to have for friends and playmates.

I grew up living with my mother’s parents whose origins were Swedish and they belonged to the Lutheran Church here with deep-set Swedish roots. Along the street where I lived, most of the other families were of similar ethnicity and the majority also belonged to the same church, thus making those children acceptable playmates and friends - at least according to my Grandmother’s stern standards anyway.

What my grandmother didn’t know was that her tomboy granddaughter occasionally ventured a little further from home and every now and again, even dared to play with other kids who were Slovak and, perish the thought, Catholic as well.

The exceptions to Grandma’s strict rules were the Bunyak’s just up the street from us, and the Little family who lived next door, or now and then, the Kuzilla family who lived across from my great-uncle down the street. These three families I think may have been the only Slovak/Catholics who met with Grandma’s approval.

By the same token, many of the other kids in town my age, but who lived in the Dobry Town or Pleasant Hill areas of Grassflat, probably had the same rules and regulations imposed on them that they were not to associate with those Swedish Lutherans either

It was a stupid concept when you think about it later in life, and one that is typical of the ignorance people frequently exhibit in society. It is a classical case, I suppose you could say, of “institutionalized racism/prejudice.”

Although I knew pretty much the boundaries set by Grandma of who I could associate with, where I could go, etc., it took a birthday party when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old to galvanize my own incentive to break free of this particular cultural stigma.

That party, given by Mrs. Kuzilla for her daughter Veronica, who was three years younger than I, was quite an affair. Unlike most birthday parties I was accustomed to at which the fare usually was cake, ice cream and something to drink, Mrs. Kuzilla had fixed what would be considered a major feast. It was at that party that my taste buds first met up with a dish that was to become a life-long favorite – pigs in a blanket, or “halupki”!

I came home full of stories to tell my Mom and Grandma about all the food there. But this entrée had definitely had a very, very lasting impression on me and I begged for months, even years, after for Mom or Grandma to please make “piggies.”

I finally figured out this dish was considered too Slovak or Polish for either Mom or Grandma to consider cooking, and the less said about it the better. But the experience started my taste buds on the road to degradation. As I got older, I had more opportunity to experiment with other foods and, hopefully, got a lot wiser about other “differences” too.

It was after one of my jaunts a little further from home than was actually permitted, and playing with a girl my age whose ethnicity was Slovak and who was also Catholic (to add insult to injury), and I was invited into her home, where her mother offered me some type of Slovak pastries she had just made that were absolutely to die for, when I realized one thing for sure. I had to keep that discovery to myself. I dared not reveal I had been consorting with the enemy, as perceived by my Grandma, and worse yet, had even dined with them!

To this day, I still remember the sweet goodies made by Vicky Little’s mom, Helen (Bunyak) Little, but I have no clue as to what they were called. All I know is they were deep-fried and absolutely fantastic.So much so that now my mouth is watering just from the memory and I think I will surf an International website once more in hopes of finding a recipe that looks even remotely like these great morsels were!

Yep! That's how things were when I was a kid and for me, it was a whole lot easier than it was 30 years earlier here for my Mom as back then, in her day, many of the kids in town didn't speak English when they started school and for a lot of them, their parents never learned English or were able to communicate then with others around here.

Is comparing how I grew up with ethnic and religious barriers and prejudices the same as racism? Not completely, but there is still the fact that any prejudices are a hindrance to all of us and prevent us all from seeing the beauty of being a multi-cultural society.

Just some additional food for thought perhaps on what prejudice and bias of any type do to all of us.

Peace -Today! Please.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Program This!!!!

AARRGH!

I have just wasted the past hour and a half, trying to get the DVD player to function, then trying to get the remote for the tv set back to standard operations too.

And, this reminds me of something I had put way back in the back of my mind, forgot all about this stuff and that's that I HATE trying to program these devices!!!

This morning, the remote for the tv set was working just fine and dandy -no problems, at all.

Mandy and Maya left about 11:30 for an appointment Maya had today and I was left here with Kurtis and to my own devices with respect to other things as well.

I decided I was going to watch a DVD that my son's girl friend brought down here yesterday. This DVD is supposed to be of her family tree -pictures and all kinds of stuff and if you know anything at all about me by now, you know I'm really into family tree stuff. Mine, yours, anyones -you say family tree and yes, I am there!

So, I figured I have a cd/dvd read/write thing on my computer and with that, I should be able to pop this dvd into the computer and view what's on it. Right?

WRONG! When I did that and hit open on the DVD thing on "my computer" it was just blank. Nothing there. WTF!???

When Betty came back here last evening, I mentioned this to her and she was more than a bit surprised, but then she said "Well, maybe you have to watch it on the DVD player, not the computer." Hmmm. Didn't think of that.

(But, if my computer is a DVD player then why can't I watch it on the computer? Insert answers here, please.)

So this a.m., I decided I would try that -watching this DVD on our DVD player.

What can be difficult about that?

Trust me, EVERYTHING!

Now, what we have is a new DVD player. I don't remember the brand -probably wouldn't make a hill of beans of difference for me anyway -but my thoughts were now, how in the heck can it possibly be difficult to play a DVD in a DVD player anyway. Just open the damned thing, insert the disc and hit play. Well, those were my thoughts on this but apparently it take some kind of special mo-jo one must know in order to get a DVD to play!

And you know of course, I don't know that special Mo-Jo -or so I found out after I put the DVD in and hit the play button.

Do all of these things have to be on a specific channel in order to function? With the old dvd/vcr player we had, I think you had to have the tv channel on 3 or 4 if I'm not mistaken and then, make your selection from there. But even that bloody thing was something I never really got the hang of how to operate it so I'd always defer to Mandy or Bill -or even Katie -to set that up to play.

But, after the kids broke first the VCR player function and then, the DVD player function on the old equipment and Mandy bought two or three other DVD player things before finally getting this one that is supposed to be ultra-simple to operate, I just assumed -incorrectly apparently -that by ultra simple functioning they meant "turn on; insert disc; press play" and presto-magic, one could view the dvd that way.

Well I fiddled around and fiddled around with the remote for the dvd player and nothing worked. I think I tried every freaking button on that damned thing but all to no avail.

Then, in a real stroke of genius, I started to monkey around with the Remote to the tv set -one of those types that you can program to use with virtually any model of tv and it can also be programmed to use with the vcr/dvd too if you wish.

Before you knew it, I did manage to get audio from the dvd player unfortunately, I also got this big black box on the bottom of my tv screen -covering half of the picture, of course, and every thing just went totally down hill from there!

I lost the upper channels we are supposed to get with our cable -couldn't find the right combination on the menu thing to get them to tune back in and still, I had this damned big old black block at the bottom of my screen so I couldn't really watch anything on the DVD or the tv except the very top half of the picture.

I played around with this for by now, roughly 1 and 1/2 hours of frustration trying to figure out what combination was the right one for our tv with the cable setup we have.

Finally, I called the cable company and the poor woman on the customer service desk there tried to tell me what she knew of setting up the tv to the cable via the remote but she was operating in the dark -just as much as me -because she didn't know about these inner choices on the menu either.

Finally, I did hit something that apparently took me in the right direction and eventually, I did get the tv showing a full screen of the picture plus, I managed to "introduce" my tv and remote to all the channels we are supposed to receive. YAY! YAY, ME! Some success at last -and got it accomplished to before Mandy got home and could see what an idiot she has for a mother too!

When I bought my first vcr, I hooked it up completely by myself. After calling my brother-in-law (ex, that is) for a little clarification as to how to get the channels for our cable to be accepted -he's the one who told me these things have to be "introduced" to each other in order to play nicely together -I got the thing fully operational and yes, I was even able to program the clock on it and to have it record whatever programs I wanted to watch and then, to play them back too -with no problems!

But that was 21 years ago and technology has advanced considerably since then ya know.

All except for their stupid instructions -which basically tell you NOTHING!

So now I still have the DVD I'd like to watch but I will wait till Mandy gets back home and have her turn on the dvd player and set that up for me.

And trust me when I tell you this too, but I swear I will NEVER, EVER AGAIN, touch the "Menu" button on our remote control for the tv!

Just too many little things going on inside that which I have nary a clue as to what they do except maybe give me a big black block on the bottom of my tv screen!

I will never ever again make fun -silently, of course -of anyone who says they can't program a simple little vcr/dvd player-recorder either!

Nope! Not even a teensy-tiny little bit!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Does My Garden Grow

I got brave this year with some help from my son-in-law and planted a slightly larger garden that I had last year. A little more variety, but missed planting a few things too. But, considering how much luck I don't usually have when it comes to growing things, I am really ecstatic to post these pictures of my garden today!

First off, you must take into consideration that my son-in-law didn't get the old sandbox filled and the soil/mulch mix spread out over the sandbox till the first week in June, so I was really late sewing anything. And the fact that as of right now, everything I planted there -via seeds -is now coming up! WOO HOO!
Here's an overview of my entire garden. In this shot, you can't see EVERYTHING that's coming up so I took some other shots to show you all of the veggies in process here.
From left to right here's a row of corn, some cucumbers and the first row of green beans. I planted the cukes and beans about 2 1/2 weeks ago and the corn, just got that in there last Thursday. On Sunday, I didn't see any trace of the corn; Monday there were two or three little green nubbins poking up and yesterday -a whole bunch was up and almost two inches high too! Today, it looked like they'd grown a bunch just overnight! Amazing.
Two rows of green beans of two different varieties but I don't remember their names now but don't they look nice from this shot?
However, on closer inspection of the beans, you'll see there is some kind of blight affecting the leaves. I googled "beans-blight" and got information that this is one of three kinds of blights that affect green beans and it tells a bit of how to prevent this from happening -get disease-free seeds (how can you tell if the seeds are disease free or not) and don't plant beans in that spot again but nothing as to what one can put around or on the beans to prevent this from spreading, getting worse, killing the plants or even if the beans do produce, are they harmed by the blight and thus, not edible? So many questions.
My row of peas looks pretty nice, don't 'cha think?
The 1/2 row of beets is nice and thick -looks good so far too.
And here's the 1/2 row of carrots I planted too. There doesn't seem to be that many of them that came up but they look okay to me, so far.
And, some leaf lettuce -the kind my Grandpa always grew. I could hardly wait in the early summer till the lettuce was big enough to pull some leaves, along with a couple spring onions and then, chop the lettuce, slice theose green onions really fine and top them with a dressing of vinegar, water and sugar! Yummy! My favorite kind of toss salad, bar none.
Now on this one, you're gonna have to get a magnifiying glass to see the tiny, teeny little green specks in the middle of the dirt there which are onions that just came through today. Yesterday, they weren't even visible! Normally, folks here get onion sets and put them in the ground long about the early-to-middle of May and since these were planted from seeds, just last Thursday I think, I was really wondering if they would even come up at all, since I was so late planting them but to my surprise, when I checked the plants today, there they were, starting to come up!

Now, everyone hold your breath and hope for the best for my plants and for me!

Anytime I try to plant anything at all, much less this much and of a vegetable garden variety, it is always a crap shoot whether anything will grow at all, whether any veggies will actually appear on the plants and if they will grow to a decent size too then.

Right now, I'm crossing my fingers and toes, watching to see how my green garden grows!

Yeah, I'm a poet and don't know it, 'cept my feet do, cause they're Longfellows.

Okay, enough of the dumb humor tonight. Say a prayer for my poor little plants, will ya please?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Around Town

The other night, when I first posted about our walk-about up the road and then, the next day, about how we went for a walk down the street and saw the big fat old porcupine, I had also taken a couple photos on Friday night of some of the houses along my street and I thought maybe you might enjoy seeing a little bit of the neighborhood where I live.

I've lived in this old house for most of my life. I was born in this house as a matter of fact, almost 65 years ago now. Ok, this place looked a bit different back then and when I was a child than it does today. First off, until 1991, the siding on this house was not white vinyl but rather was what was called "insulbrick" and ours was of a tan color, giving a sort or psuedo-brick look to the old place. Only what was then the sun porch (which is now my tiny bedroom) was sided with white wood siding then. But, after my son managed to catch the house on fire the end of April of 1991, and I had a lot of work done to the house then to repair the fire damage, etc., had the house been sided with the white vinyl. That is, all but one small area in the back of the house that didn't get new siding because the contractor I hired didn't calculate the cost of the siding properly and I didn't have enough money then -or since -to have that area sided too.

But besides giving some pictures of some of my neighbor's homes, I thought I would add maybe a bit of history about some of them too.

This house is up the street a little way from my place. It's currently owned by a couple who are middle-aged -a very nice couple, I might add -Woody and his wife, Cynthia. For a while, shortly after they moved in here about 3-4 years ago, Cindy was the "Avon Lady" and Mandy and I both really enjoyed having her stop by here, chatting with her, comparing notes about how she grew up and where to my life (and Mandy's too) in this little village.

Their house initially belonged to a first cousin of my Grandfather and her family. It'd kind of funny ya know, what various people when I was young were called compared to today. Mrs. Engstrom was how I knew the lady -Grandpa's cousin. I think I knew then -maybe -that her first name was Anna but I never called her anything but "Mrs. Engstrom." Now her daughters, who were my Mom's age, I was allowed to call them by their first names (Evelyn and Ethel) but their Mom -never would have happened for me to call her "Anna."

That house looked a bit different back when I was a kid too in that it didn't have that piece there along the side, jutting out. That addition was built on I think after I was an adult. I don't recall exactly when Mrs. Engstrom died, but her daughters (the two mentioned above) moved back here probably in the late 60s when they retired from jobs they'd both held for years and years in Chicago, as sales ladies.

The sisters eventually sold this house to the daughter of a neighbor down the street as they moved to a neighboring little village -Lanse -where they shared a house with their eldest sister that she and her husband had built -a very pretty little ranch house. The family who bought the house from the sisters sold it then to Woody and Cindy as they found a larger ranch type home up on the top of the hill from here.

I doubt if you can see it but Woody and Cindy have a very pretty little flower bed in the front yard, complete with a wooden figure of a woman bending over as if she were weeding the flowers.

The next house coming down the road to our place is this one.

This is my friend, Shirley's home that she shares (of course) with her husband of 50 plus years now, Bo. Originally, this was a two-story house, built probably at about the same time as the Engstrom home catty-cornered from here and as my home was built -probably circa early 1900s, I would guess.

The family who originally occupied this house was the Charles Sherman family. When I was a child, Mrs. Sherman and her sister, Katherine Gustafson, lived in New York city some place during the winter months and then, came back here where they spent their summers. Because both of these elderly ladies -about the age of my grandparents -were also good friends of the family, during the summer months, it was a very common event for us to socialize with them by going up to their house, visiting either in the front room or on their front porch, having coffee then and some kind of a sweet -cake, pie, cookies and of course, homemade Swedish Kaka bread and cheese around 9:00 p.m. after which we would then leave and walk back home. They would also come here and it was a big treat then to have them visit us as my Grandma would always make sure to have some special dessert made up for the occasion. (Often she would make what was her specialty -prune whip -which some of my cousins remember but not fondly as do I. I loved that stuff but have never found Grandma's recipe for it so I can't make it then for my family.

Shirley and Bo bought this house in the late 50s -shortly after their second son was born and they remodeled it -removing the second story of the house, building on to the side and turning it into a ranch style home. While it is not an overly large house, it was however big enough to house them and their five children over the years.

And, the youngest son of Mrs. Sherman is still living -is now, I believe 88 years old. He and his wife reside outside of York, PA -between York and the Maryland line. He keeps in contact with me -sometimes via e-mails his wife, Priscilla writes and now, frequently it is by phone calls he makes to me, usually once or twice a month, just to check in, to let me know how he and his wife are doing and to see if there's any "news" here in the old village concerning our church or people who he know years ago when he was a child and young man here. They aren't family but they are just about like family in a way in that Art and I know most of the same people from town and from around the area too. That, plus he graduated from high school from the same school building where I attended high school and went on to get a degree in teaching after WW2 was over. I really enjoy hearing from him and kind of "gossiping" too with him about how things were way back when and how things are today.

This house, which is adjacent to Shirley and Bo's place has a history which is very similar to that of Shirley and Bo's place. It too was once a two story home and boy, I wish you could have seen how the initial house that stood here looked back in the 50s when I was a kid! Definitely not like it looks today in many, many way.

Back then, it was owned by an Anderson family -and I can't remember now the names of the Andersons who owned it, who probably built it. But when I was growing up, a son of theirs -Oscar, nicknamed "Slickey," lived there by himself. He was known to be a bit of a drinker -and an old bachelor as well, so he paid very little attention to the appearance of the house, to the upkeep of it. And when he died, the house, which by then was pretty decrepit, was sold to a couple from the other end of town -Joe and Anna Kendrick Lyncha and they moved in there and raised a family of six children -three sons, three daughers -while trying to remodel and basically rebuild the old house into what you see in this picture here today.

Ann and Joe both died in the fall of 1988 -within three weeks of each other. She, of a heart attack while cleaning a local office building and he, three weeks later of lung cancer. Neither was very old then either -only in their mid-to-late 60s. Eventually the children sold the house to the couple who now own it -Regina and George -aka "Bugger" Verbitsky. They moved here from down the line aways -Snow Shoe, which is about 14 miles from here. Good neighbors they are though and the flowers out in front of their house are much the same as they were back when Ann and Joe lived there, with their family.

Back in the late 70s and 80s, when my kids were growing up, I used to tell them then that when I was their ages I knew EVERYONE along this street, including what boat their ancestors came over on too! Well, I didn't really know quite THAT much about the various families but darned near!

It wwas a totally different era back then, when I was a kid.

Most every home on this street, the family living there had children and from spring through the late fall, all the neighborhood kids were outside playing unless the weather was really miserable. That was about the only time one had a legitimate reason for being inside, playing inside one's home, watching tv during the day hours!

If it isn't too boring, I'm going to try to post pictures of the houses along my street here from time to time and a brief history too about the former occupants way back when where I can.

I started this post about 5:30 this afternoon (Monday) and now, it is 2:00 a.m. and I am just finishing it!

Why? Well, because around 7 p.m. -after supper -(which I couldn't get Kurtis to eat) I decided to try to cajole him by taking him for a walk and then, on our return home, thought maybe he would eat. But that didn't work either.

Instead, I didn't get home from our walk until almost 9:30 p.m. but Mandy and the kids were home at least an hour before me. That's because the last house down the road from ours, which used to belong to my Grandpa's brother, my great-uncle Erik, is there and the lady who currently owns that place offered a small tour of the downstairs of the house so I could see what all she and her husband have done since they bought the house -23 years ago!

And I had a wonderful, very sentimental for me, visit inside the house and talking to Jody, the current owner about what she and her husband have done, what they plan to do to the place too.

All of it will keep the house looking very much like it was when I was a child and when my cousins still lived there.

Just made me feel so good, at home, really especially in that old kitchen where I spent many, many hours as a child and also, as an adult with family there.

Good vibes, ya know!