Thursday, October 29, 2009

Down Two, Up One

Have I posted any kitten pictures lately? For that matter, have I even written about the cute little creatures since maybe the week they were born? I don't think I have, but as senile as I am at times, I may have done that and forgotten too.

However, I think today is National Cat Day -or something like that. I'm sorry -can't remember the exact title but if you go check out Fermicat's place, you'll get the full scoop there. If it is possible for someone to be a bigger cat lover than my daughter Mandy, I do believe Fermicat holds the honors for that!

But anyway, in honor of National Cat Day, I thought I'd show you a picture or two of the lovely bunch of coconuts -er cats -that we have here.
Here's sort of an overhead shot but at least you can see a little of each of the six kittens. For whatever that is worth, ya know.

Well, the kittens will be seven weeks old tomorrow and since they've been eating kitten chow now and drinking water out of the dispenser for a little over a week, it's time for them to move on to bigger and better (hopefully) places.

And, I'm really happy to announce that today, two of 'em did just that!

These two -sisters -left today for a new home with Duane and Kelly Luzier -my son's boss and his wife! They asked for two of the calicos when the kittens were only a day old!

And boy, not that I didn't like these two -or the other four remaining kittens -but I was really happy to see them go. Two down, four to find homes for. Time to get cracking on that now, isn' it?

But, before I go any further, I have to tell you that we had three additions to the household zoo Sunday night. Yeah, like we needed more animals, huh?

This time the additions came in the form of three lovely little bunnies -sorry but no pictures available of those three residents in our basement at the current time. As I write this, Bill is busy in the basement trying to build and then erect a pen to the back of the house so the bunnies will have a roof over their heads and won't be hop-scotching all over the cellar anymore.

These arrived compliments of my son-in-law's son Shane's grandmother -Bill's ex-mother-in-law. Seems Shane had managed to get these three bunnies from heaven only knows where and brought them home to the house he, his sister and grandmother share with his youngest aunt and her husband. And it seems that the uncle there had more than a bit of a hissy fit, insisting that Shane turn the bunnies loose in the backyard and he would then use them for target practice the next day. And of course, this cause a huge ripple effect in that household with Shane crying rivers of tears and Grandma getting very upset, so much so that she called Bill and asked if he(we) could take the bunnies and care for them. Supposedly this was to be until other arrangements could be made but after four days, I guess Bill figured he'd been suckered into taking them and raising them so he'd best build a house for them!

Wonderful! Just what I always wanted!

And then today, when Mandy got home from having taken Katie to the podiatrist, she brought another present home for the family!

Allow me to introduce you to Sammy!

Seems the lady who owned Sammy took ill suddenly and is in the hospital. Also, apparently her ailment is such that she will no longer be able to care for this cute little mutt so Mandy, it would appear, was in the right place at just the right time -or is that the wrong place at the right time -whatever, and she ended up bringing Sammy home to live with us.
Yes, he is a cutie though, isn't he? And he's very friendly and nice -the kids love him and he is easy with them plus -a big bonus when getting a dog -he's already housebroken! Knows a few commands too -like "get down" (off the furniture!)

The drawback to his entry was primarily that it was very unexpected so I had no time, since no warning given, to gather the kittens and put them someplace where they could maybe meet him gradually. No! Mandy just came home, opened the door, let him in and kittens scattered throughout the first floor of the house! And I had to go on a search and destroy mission then to locate all six of them because Duane and Kelly were on their way here to pick up the two calico sisters pictured above in this post! Took the better part of an hour -maybe a bit more -till we finally gathered up at least the two kittens they wanted to adopt!

Chino -our grey cat and who is very loving and frequently is a bit of a pain in the dupa with her demands as she insists on sitting on either my lap or Mandy's and manages to get herself situated there whereby she blocks any view at all of the tv screen -spent the afternoon and better part of the evening parked in the side windowsill in the living room. But at least she was quiet in her disdain for this white furball of a mutt that was now sharing her space here.

Nina -the Mama cat -was not exactly the epitome of being a social diva. Not. At. All! She spent the bulk of the afternoon laying under the table and growling at Sammy, the dog. A couple of times, in his naivette, trying to show he really is a friendly little fellow, he got a bit too close and she lashed out at him -causing a few yelps of pain.

Then, she promptly went to the kitchen and proceeded to eat most of his dog food from his bowl!

This evening though, as I was loading some picture of the cats, kittens and Sammy to my Facebook, a racket erupted in the dining room with chairs banging around, one landing on its side and some really, really loud barking then yelping and crying from the poor dog. You'd have thought he'd been mortally wounded by the amount of noise but I think Nina just clipped his nose a good one again.

However, all this commotion brought Bill running upstairs from the basement to see what had happened and then, he grumbled to Mandy and me -after we said it was just Nina slapping Sammy -that they'd better get acquainted and become friends and do it fast too! And back down to the cellar he went.

As Mandy and I stood here in the living room and both of us shot him the finger at the same time!

Yeah -like mother like daughter I guess, huh?

Or perhaps a better description of us would be "Great minds run in the same channels."

Your choice there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still Dealing

Although my mood has improved, somewhat, since the very low and obnoxious state I was in Monday, it's still not up to what it should be. At least not in my opinion. (Probably not up-to-par for those having to live with me either, I'm sure.)

But then, considering some of the things that have been annoying me, a change in attitude and actions in some of those "near and dear" to me probably wouldn't hurt either. But I am trying to work my 12-step-program through Al-Anon and in doing that, I have to recognize what I can and what I cannot change and then, work on the issues that I do have control over and leave the others to manage their stuff!

Sounds simple enough in theory, but sometimes, especially when one is accustomed to being very independent and doing as she pleases for many, many moons, those habits are damned hard to drop by the wayside.

Just a couple little tidbits though from around the house over the past couple of days.

Late last week, Mandy and I discovered something from Kurt's teacher that she had posted on her facebook.

It started with a post she had made in which she said she never thought she'd see the day she would be telling a student to "Stop licking your knee." When I read that I thought with all the little quirky things Kurt does, that isn't one of them -not to my knowledge anyway -so I made a comment back to that effect.

She then replied that most definitely it was not Kurt doing this and added that he is doing really great. The shocker though was when she also said that he was a regular little "cleaning machine" and that as soon as she told the kids "Five minute warning" he would rush into action, picking up toys and papers and stuff all over the place.

Mandy and I looked at each other -amazed. In pretty much a state of shock at those words. Kurtis? Cleaning up? How could that be?

So we decided to test this out then and there and we got his attention and told him "Five minute warning, Kurtis."

Boy, his teacher was right! He hopped off the couch and started to pick up his matchbox cars, crayons, books and even trying to put many of these things away then too. Since then we have found this only works when Maya is not there to provide opposition to the idea of cleaning up and then, he seems to like to follow in the direction of whoever he considers to be his peer support group at the time -that being Maya, of course!

So the clean-up battles rage on -and ON!

Sunday provided a classic scene of the clean-up your mess wars that flare up here almost daily.

The living room floor -the usual battleground -looked like it had been bombarded from virtually every possible angle and I got after Maya to start picking some of this stuff up before getting any more toys out to make it even worse to deal with and she gave me her standard answer.


And that meant the war had officially begun. I kept after her for about 30-40 minutes, off and on, telling her to get busy and pick up and each time, getting the same negative response.

Finally -when my patience had worn down completely -I warned her that if Grammy has to pick this stuff up, it will be heading for the garbage. She knows that I have at times in the past, picked toys up, stuffed the offending items into garbage bags and then, with respect to most of those toys, just hid the bags for a couple of weeks or so. I'm not sure if she realizes that I have hidden the stuff but she does know I will fill garbage bags with their toys from time to time.

A lot of the things out on the floor on Sunday were new items -things she had received a week earlier for her birthday so I though maybe she would still be really interested in keeping those available to play with and I could then use them for special emphasis.

So, when I came to the pile of brand-new coloring books strewn around the room and I asked her if she still wanted them, she nodded her head and said "Yes." I then asked her if she was gonna help pick up but each time -even with the new items -she continued to say no to helping pick up. With each "no" I then put the item into the bag and as I placed it in there, I would tell Maya then that she could "kiss that baby goodbye."

As I went around picking up ALL the toys and with each item, as she refused to help, I ended up with all the books, crayons, toys of all types -some hers, some belonging to Kurtis (who was asleep while this was going on ) -all bagged up and on the dining room table. She wanted to know about the toys that belonged to Kurtis that I had picked up and I told her that Mommy would go through them when she came home and she would pick out Kurt's toys then. (Some toys -like crayons -are automatically shared though by both kids -well, they are "Supposed" to be shared, let's put it that way.)

I started to walk away from the table to go finish preparing supper and I heard Maya saying something behind me. I turned to look and there she was, leaning over each bag, mumbling something, and then gently kissing each bag of the toys.

So I asked her why she was doing that and she told me, "I'm kissing them all goodbye."

And no, that gesture didn't soften me up and I didn't open the bag and remove any items from them either. But I did get a good chuckle under my breath.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DONE! Finally.

I know I've mentioned being in this kind of bind before -on numerous occasions -but last week, between the grief, the mad, mad turmoil of the massive cooking over Tuesday and Wednesday, then the work in helping serve the funeral dinner on Thursday all added up to a couple of things.

It created some very achy legs and a back that felt like it was gonna snap in half a couple of times as I tried to recuperate on Friday and Saturday of the past week.

It also put me way, way, way behind in my blog readings!

I know -some might say I could have/should have just clicked on the "Mark all as read" button on my reader but truthfully, I really do hate to do that. In my mind, that is cheating. I may not always comment (something some who know I can be as long-winded and rambly on my comments as I am with my posts and maybe are grateful for the absence of commenting at times) but I do try to read as many of the posts that pop up on my reader as I possibly can. Once in a while, I might just sort of scan through but usually, I do read what all of you have to say.

I figure it's only fair to at least try to do that.

It's taken me what seemed like forever though to finally wade through the mass of postings on my reader since last Wednesday but I did it -having just finished clearing out my reader completely about 15 minutes ago now!

And I'm really glad that I was able to do that too!

I read some really great pieces you -my blogger friends -had written and for that I want to thank all of you for your work, your efforts, in putting these piece out here! I'd like to be able to go through and spotlight every last one of you -but that would take me till Lord only knows when to do that and right now, I'm feeling very much in the need for some sleep!

I'm also -thankfully -beginning to lose the rotten edge my being had allowed in to my inner self that pretty much took over me for the bulk of the day yesterday. And, some would say I am really crazy in saying this, but I owe a lot of that change in my attitude from then to what it is now, to having read some of those posts tonight and into this morning!

Well, that and a great big bowl of chocolate marshmallow ice cream that may have helped a bit too. Chocolate is almost as good a soothing element at times as any little old anti-depressant or Xanax tablet can be, don't 'cha know?

And, if any traces of the really yucky, nasty mood haven't yet been cleared out when I get up in the morning, I think then I will take the advice of blogger and Facebook friend, Terri, and bake some bread!

Yeah -it's another of my "cure-alls" for days when I'm sinking into an abyss of a mixture of depression and anger and need a way to vent without totally boring the pants off everyone in the blogosphere.

And with that, I bid you all a sweet good night and thank you along with that for helping me clear my space, my air and my mind a bit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lost: One Mind

Not a good day today!

I think I went to sleep last night in a bad mood and woke up this morning in one that was even worse.

And I can't even blame it on PMS!

Today, I was pretty much just ticked off at everyone, everything -the whole damned world, perhaps?

I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon and I thought maybe by the time I showered, got dressed and drove over for that appointment that might give my system time to settle down, smooth the mind a bit but even that didn't work.

As I walked back to the examining room, my doctor happened to poke her head out into the hallway from the staff's break room (they were just finishing up their lunches) and I told her then, "You just better brace yourself!"

I told the nurse as she was taking my blood pressure and that stuff that I was in the foulest of foul moods but that I really couldn't pinpoint what was causing it. So when the doctor came in the room about five minutes later she asked what was going on that brought this on and I told her too that I really wasn't sure but I really wanted to shake it as soon as I could as I really don't like feeling all mean, angry and very, very irritable.

We talked a while -quite a while, as a matter of fact - and after a few teary episodes, I was able to make some comments -using good old sarcastic humor - that did help provide a little release. Just not enough though.

There are things that I don't usually talk about -even with my kids -but that bother me though.

One of these, I addressed a tiny bit Sunday morning after church with a lady from our parish. I was going to get myself a cup of coffee and instead of reaching for the lever on the side of the coffee urn to "pour" the beverage into the cup, I started to grab hold of the lid on the top of the coffee maker. WTF? (No, I didn't say that but I was thinking when that happened what the heck are you doing, you fool?

So this lady and I were joking a bit then about getting rattled, confused, being forgetful -and for me, I find it really scary when I do get rattled like that.

Most of my family as well as many of my friends are always making comments about how I can remember all kinds of stuff from way, way back in time. And, as a general rule, that has usually been the case. But lately, I find myself unable to bring words to mind when I go to say something and even getting words mixed up when I am reading too. It's like the light bulbs in my mind are going dim at times and at other times, just plain burning out and in need of replacement.

Boy, do I wish that were possible though -don't you? I was thinking how neat i would be if somehow you could use some kind of micro sd and could just simply plug it into your brain and transfer information to little chips, put them into files then for future usage when needed and pop them in then.

Presto magic! Memory restored!

That way, if something like that were possible, I could have smallish size cards to store information like appointments I have -a mini-calendar as it were -so that I would never again forget when I have to see this doctor, go to this place or that, remember meeting dates for various groups I belong to at church, lunch dates and such.

Or, I could have another one that would hold only memories of important events, things my kids did, things my grandchildren have done too -one chip for each child, for each grandchild too. Never have to worry then about ever forgetting all the sweet and silly, or even serious, things that happen all the time within a family and which we usually rely on photographs or videos to keep those memories somewhat intact.

Why am I this concerned though -really -about the mix-ups now and again, about getting so darned forgetful?

There is a reason for that and it's primarily because a goodly number of family members have, as they aged, become senile. Some only somewhat, a few, to the extent of being very confused, not even recognizing other family members and to be very honest, that is the aspect about aging that does scare the absolute living daylights out of me!

The spring when I was diagnosed with cancer -six years ago now -I was having sessions usually twice a month for about 2 hours where I would go and talk to the minister we had at that time about all kinds of things that were bothering me -from the treatments I was getting then for the cancer to all kinds of other stuff.

I remember one session in which he and I got to talking about longevity and I had told him I wasn't necessarily all that interested in living a long, long life. Sure, it would be fine if that happened but only provided that my mind was still intact too -like a lady from our church who lived to be 102 and her mind was sharp up to the very end. Now that, I had told him, was the only way I wanted to live if I were to be blessed with a whole lot more years. I explained that I didn't want to be around if I didn't know my kids, my grandchildren, didn't even know perhaps who I was under circumstances like that then.

His response to me was this: "But Jen, if that were to happen to your mind, you wouldn't know that it had happened, therefore, you would still be happy!"

I suppose his theory does hold water there -at least to some degree. But I still don't want it to be like that.

I still want to have a clue as to what's going on around me.

How about you? How do you feel about those aspects that could impact your life?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In The Spirit of the Season

Last night, I had to make a run into town -town here being Philipsburg -the nearest larger community to us that has more than one store in the whole darned place.

So, I asked Miss Maya if she wanted to go for a ride to town with Grammy. It was with a bit of uncertainty that I made that offer to her because the last time I was in the particular store that I had to go to, she had acted so bad that night -had a huge, really, really huge, massive meltdown that Mandy and I were a bit fearful that we all might end up being banned from ever shopping at the Weis market there ever again!

But anyway, I decided to make the offer and since she accepted, I figured maybe I'd give her another chance to show that she can actually behave, be good, ya know.

Lucky for her -and for me -tonight she was pretty much angelic. Didn't have to reprimand her at all and I kind of like it when things come together like that, ya know.

But on the drive -it's all of 12 miles from home to this little burg-town -I was really surprised by what I saw along the way.

Okay, I don't go out very much these days -pretty much an old homebody, that would be me. I'm much more content to stay put in the house, work on my craft du jour, watch tv -even wash dishes -than to go ramming around any more than I absolutely have to do so I wasn't prepared for the sights I saw at many homes along the drive into town.

Lights! All over the place! Or so it seemed anyway.

At first I thought Wow, lots of folks are really getting the jump on putting their Christmas decorations and stringing all kinds of outdoor lighting all around.

Then it dawned on me that all these decorations and lights were in anticipation of next weekend being Halloween!

Virtually every other -or every third house anyway (or so it seemed) had orange lights strung all over the front, on porches in trees -you name it. All these decorations just for good old Halloween!

So much different from when I was a kid and it was time to do the "Trick or Treating" that's for sure!

I can't remember anyone doing any kind of decorating of the homes back then for this auspicious occasion!

Heck no! Why we were lucky that people turned on their porch light when they heard us coming up the sidewalk and they sure as heck didn't leave that one light all all evening for the kids, much less provide scads of colored lights, scary creatures hanging on the sides or front of their houses either! Maybe back then some kids, some families would have a pumpkin with a face carved in it and a candle lit, seated in the center of that pumpkin, but that tended to be the extent of the Halloween decor back then!

Today, if Mandy or Bill carves up two of the pumpkins Mandy bought at a big local farm about a week or two ago and tries to put a candle in it and set it out by our front stoop, you can pretty much be guaranteed that the morning after Trick or Treat night, that pumpkin will be laying all broken apart on the sidewalk and out front, on the street that goes in front of our house!

And, if either Maya or Kurtis happens to wake up and see those pretty pumpkins all smashed up too the morning after, they're gonna be two upset little kids and for what -what does that prove by shattering something the little kids -and some adults too -enjoy doing for the Halloween holiday??

Makes me wonder there -a lot -about what kind of society are we becoming that people have to destroy other people's property in the guise of having a good time.

Makes not a lick of sense to me.

Revamping Vehicles

Gosh, but I'm getting forgetful about a lot of stuff lately. Can't remember tonight now if I mentioned that daughter Mandy is using her brother's little S-10 pickup truck now.

Her car -the lovely (NOT) Jetta is on the fritz -has been for oh, at least a month of better now. (Supposedly, another vehicle is in the works but things change, vehicle-wise, around here sometimes it seems at the drop of a hat, so right now, I'm not entirely sure what the current status is of the Jetta.

But anyway, in order for Mandy to get to and from her part-time job -only about five miles from the house but still, that's a LONG walk -she has been using her brother's pick-up truck. Well, one of two pickup trucks he has, that is but this one is the newer of the two.

Saying that this truck is the newer of the two he has is a bit of a joke too as the S-10 is a mid-to-late 1990s vehicle whereas his other truck is a 1971 Chevy pickup. (He got the older truck a year ago in late July -flew out to Nevada to his Dad's and got this truck from him, then drove it back home to PA.

But anyway, the 1971 model is his "baby." Rebuilt, or restored -chose your word there I guess -by his dad and painted a bright, bright yellow, when Mandy had need of a vehicle to get to and from work, the black S-10 with the snazzy design (hand-painted on the doors by my artistic son -I'll have to take a pic of that someday and post it here -quite the unit, it is) Clate figured it would be easier for Mandy to handle what running around she needs to do that the yellow truck would be.

That's only partially true though as it seems both of these puppies are hard as all get out to steer. And the Black truck -he had one of those goofy knobs and the steering wheel and it bothered Mandy so much, she removed said knob herself.

Why? Well, in her opinion, trying to drive that pick-up with that knob on there made her feel, so she remarked to me, like she was driving something that had industrial hand wheels on it!

To which I said "Say what?" Yeah, I heard her right as she went on and on about the damned knob always getting in her way, making the steering wheel feel really huge and klunky and all in all, just too hard to deal with.

But to just remove the knob? I was pretty surprised that she would or could do that. But then, what the heck do I know from stuff like that anyway.

I'm just glad that it was something on this truck -the little s-10 -that she was using and that she did her own revamp on because if she had been trying to use the Yellow truck and had changed one iota of anything on it while borrowing that one from her brother, my daughter, little Mandy, might not still be with us today.

Yep! Clate does get pretty fussy about anyone touching, doing anything to his old yellow truck -unless it is him monkeying around.

What is it about guys and pickups and always having to be piddling around, changing things on them anyway?

Shortly after he got home with the Yellow truck, he had to do this jacking up of the frame, then lowering it or some such so that the truck would sit lower to the ground. Only problem there was that he got it so low that something on the front end was rubbing something else and he couldn't even drive it after messing around with that bit!

Now how much sense does that make anyway?

Why, I tell you! (No, I'm not gonna actually tell you anything there by saying that. That's just a line that a lady Clate used to work at when he was a cook/dishwasher at the local truckstop near here and she used to say that about anything she thought was just a bit off kilter you see.) And that is about how I feel about all these revampings that the son -and the son-in-law too -feel they have to do to most of the vehicles -things that don't really improve or change the runability of the vehicle but rather the appearance more than anything.

What's the point? That's what I think about there.

So yes -I tell you! Makes no sense whatsover in my opinion! Maybe they do those things just to confuse the living daylights out of me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Good That is There!

Today -my day didn't get off to the best of starts!

Began with a phone call from one of my former neighbor's nieces. Her sister had been married to my ex-brother-in-law and her parents had been the daughter and son-in-law who had bought the old homestead next door from the patriarch/matriarch of the family back in the early 70s. So I grew up next door to this young woman's mother and her siblings and my kids grew up with the next generation of that family. (I still miss that there isn't some member of that family living beside me even though the house was sold to someone outside of the family back in the mid-to-late 80s!)

Patti -the young woman who called was wanting more information about the accident though as she had been close friends of the mother of the young woman who was killed. (The same person who had babysat for my kids 30 plus years ago -as had Patti and her older sister, Tina, too!) She was unbelieving at first that this could possibly be her friend's daughter, asking me was I absolutely sure.

Well, to the best of my detective abilities, yes, I was as sure as I could be then.

Less than two minutes after hanging up from that phone call, I got a call then from Patti's cousin -Charmaine -who used to be my daughter Mandy's boss for the four plus years that Mandy worked at the restaurant Charmaine and her husband had here. Charmaine was calling to tell me that her uncle, Micheal, had left this world this morning and moved on to the next life.

Now, I know that this was what we all would consider to have been a blessing for him -put him out of the terrible suffering he had to endure for the past 15 months or better as the cancer ate away at him. But still and all, it doesn't take away the grief one does feel when you say goodbye.

Mandy had taken Kurtis to State College for a dental appointment and then had a bunch of errands she had to run but when she got home she was all worked up.

Seems she had seen the sister of the young man who died and they had talked. She knew the time and place for the funeral plus the fact that the families were going to have a meal after the funeral and this was going to be held at our fire hall here in town in order to have a place large enough to accommodate the extended and very large families involved from both sides. She had asked the sister if there was anything we could do, did they need anything and the sister had said simply, "Yes, FOOD -for the dinner!" They are expecting between 200-250 people will be attending the dinner so that's a whole heck of a lot of food that would be needed for two grieving families -no matter how big they are -to try to pull together!

Mandy asked me if I thought it might be alright to contact some folks in our neighborhood, from our church, to see if they might be willing to help, to donate food for the dinner -which is how our church handles dinners when there is a death in our church family.

I told Mandy that although -in my opinion -that would be the right thing to do, because neither family was affiliated with our church directly or even indirectly, I wasn't sure if that would be within the boundaries of protocol. So I told her to call our minister, Pastor Carrie and see what she had to say about that idea.

Pastor Carrie's response was "Definitely!" That she felt exactly as Mandy and I did and that it was our responsibility to try to help in whatever manner we found possible.

So, after that, I contacted two women I know from the Catholic Church here in the village and by late afternoon, found myself working, hand-in-hand, with one of those two ladies to try to get a coordinated effort going to request food donations from people within at least these two churches in our area.

I spent then the rest of the afternoon and almost the entire evening then, calling members of our church, explaining what was going on, as well as explaining to many who didn't recognize the names of the deceased individuals, to explain to them whose daughter the young woman had been, whose granddaughter too that she had been.

And trust me here, when I tell you this, I ended this evening with such a wonderful feeling inside me based solely on the responses I received from those from our church as they opened up their hearts and offered their hands to make something, anything -salads, casseroles, cakes, etc. -anything -that we can have to help feed those coming to the fire hall after the funeral on Thursday!

Because things have been changing in the community over the past 30 some years now -changes that should never have been necessary had people not been so bigoted, prejudiced a century ago here based on ethnicity and religion -but these days, rarely is there a funeral in our church or in the Catholic church here in town that doesn't touch members of the other churches around because the community had finally begun to open up to each others ethnic or religious group.

As I spoke to the two women from the Catholic Church, I mentioned about that to them and that perhaps it would be a nice idea if we set up some type of group from each of the local church women's groups to see to it that in the future, we all work together to help our neighbors not just our church family, church neighbors but the entire community to help bring the healing process to bereaved families in the community regardless of that family's religion or anything else!

I'm going to bring this idea up too at the next meeting of the Women's group at our church to see if we can't make some kind of move on doing something like this in the future.

As Mandy said to me tonight, "We are after all, all God's children, aren't we? And as such, aren't we supposed to help and comfort one another?"

My answer to that is a very emphatic, YES! Indeed, we are!

How far the idea will go - well, that still does remain to be seen but those that I mentioned this to today seemed to believe the same as I do on this matter.

Maybe, just maybe, we can then finally put the ignorance, the bias, the nasty words and name calling that so often permeated the area for many years well behind us for once and for all!

I sure do hope so anyway!

And finally - just wanted to thank those of you who sent prayers to the families of these two young people as well as to the family -immediate and extended -of my dear friend, Michael. I appreciated very much all the thoughtfulness expressed by so many of you, my blogger friends and I believe that some how, some way, those who have lost these loved ones now felt some modicum of comfort come over them too!

That, I also believe very much too! The power of prayer is truly never-ending!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good Day; Bad Days

Saturday started out great. Mandy baked cupcakes plus a layer cake too for Maya's 6th birthday bash and she decorated them so darned cute too! The layers she iced as two separate cakes and drew cat faces on both of them. The cupcakes, once iced, she wrote a letter on each cupcake so that when they were set up in front of the cakes, it spelled out "Happy Birthday Maya" and what a happy little girl she was when she came home and saw all that! Just pure joy spread across her little face from ear to ear!

It was actually a bit of a toss-up though who enjoyed seeing the cake and cupcakes more -Maya or Kurtis!

While Mandy was busy with the cakes, Gram had the other kitchen detail -cooking enough food to feed the 15-16 people expected to be here. Fortunately, Mandy planned a pretty easy menu -Sloppy Joes and Mac'n'cheese -two of Maya's favorite entrees! Betty (Uncle Clate's girlfriend) brought a big dish of her hot chicken dip -and baby, it is some hot stuff too! But good, very, very good! So we also had that to go with the chips and cheese twists plus sodas for the kids; coffee for the diehards like me!

When it came time to open the presents, Maya was so excited. As she was handed each gift and opened it, she was in awe, totally and uttering things like "I can't believe this!" along with lots more "WOWs" too!
Kurtis sat beside her at the table as she opened her gifts and we were pretty surprised to see that he has learned how to touch things of Maya's without her catching him doing that! Made for a lot more pleasant gift opening experience for all of us that way!

One of the gifts that she received was a Bratz doll complete with a radio and microphone thing -a miniature karaoke set, so to speak. This probably will go on record as being one of the most annoying toys ever invented! Guaranteed in the hands of a six-year-old AND a three-year-old to make old farts like Grammy go totally deaf! (And the shock there is that Mandy is the one who bought that damned thing for her too! A move she's now saying that she may very well live to regret!)

I'm not filling this post up -as I normally would -with all kinds of pictures of her and her cake, gifts, etc. Just giving "highlights" of the birthday girl and her party is about all I'm putting in here tonight.

Saturday night though, as we watched the 11 p.m. news, there was a report on there of an accident on Route 322, between Woodland and Bigler. According to the early report, they said there were two fatalities in that wreck. We learned this morning that actually there were three who lost their lives in this and that two of them were a young couple from our area.

Although I didn't know the couple who died, I do know the mothers of these two young people. And as it turns out, the mother of the young woman who was killed, used to babysit my kids about 31-32 years ago. What makes this accident even more tragic is that the couple had two small children -both in the car and safely fastened in (thankfully) and the children were both unharmed. Today, Mandy made two big pans of lasagne -one for here and the other, to take out to the parents of the young man who died. Needless to say, she was in tears when she returned home as it was heart-wrenching to speak to the parents and also, to see those two little children now without both of their parents.

Sunday afternoon, I took Maya with me to attend an organ recital at our church. I wasn't sure how she would do at an event like this as the music was all pretty high-brow, classical stuff, ya know. But she did quite well -sat as still as any child her age probably would be able to do and was quiet and polite during the entire recital. Afterwards, the women of the church served a lovely little buffet -sandwiches of either egg or ham salad, little shells, filled with tuna, pieces of "veggie pizza" along with a vegetable tray and dip. To top that off, there were cookies and cookies and yes, more cookies plus a really great punch of fruit juices, ginger ale and sherbet -and Maya did quite well fixing her own plate -even had veggies with dip -and she loved the punch. (Well, so did Grammy for that matter!)

It was an event still touched by sadness though as at the table where Maya and I were seated, the talk turned to the accident last night. Then the conversation also turned to the son of the family who lived next door to me when I was growing up, who is in the final stages of dealing with cancer.

Later this evening, I spoke to a niece of his and she said the end is very near for him now but that he did manage to see his 55th birthday this past Friday.

This is just so sad as to me, he will always be in my mind as that lovable, comical little boy that I watched grow into a young man and raise a family of his own. His oldest daughter is the same age as my son and his second daughter is Mandy's age. I've lost track though over the years as to how old his son is because he and his wife and the children moved to Virginia a goodly number of years ago due to the employment situation in this area.

He's the "baby" of a very large family -13 children -and as many of his siblings as could have been making trips back and forth for the past month or so now to be able to spend a little more time with him. There are so many people in this area who are part of his family -this very large, very tight-knit family -sisters and his other brother, nieces and nephews along with oodles of great-nieces, nephews and many, many others who are related to him or who -like myself -knew him since he was a baby. His niece was married to my ex-brother-in-law as well so in a manner of speaking this touches me and my family that much more I suppose.

So, if you would, please say a prayer for "Uncle Mikie" -as my kids grew up calling him and for his wife, children and grandchildren especially along with his siblings too as they cope with this loss in their family. It's so much harder it seems to deal with this because of the distance that separates all of us now -makes one wish they still lived nearer to here to be able then to do things to give aid and comfort to him and his family -along with his still being a relatively young man -only 55 years old.

So much sadness right now that it does at times, seem a bit overwhelming. Brings back many good memories too though of younger years, better times, fun, happy events that we all enjoyed once upon a time.

It also all makes one aware of how fleeting life is and really does compel one to take stock of family, of friends that surround us and forces us to draw each -or as many as possible -closer to us too.

And so it is that I close this post tonight -or rather, this morning as it is now 3 a.m. and I should be sleeping -with prayers for comfort for the families of Tom and Diane, who died in the accident and for Uncle Mikie -who will always live on in my heart and in my memories of him over the years.

Peace -to all.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Bear with me as I am behind again on my blog readings! This time though it wasn't all because I was wrapped up in my embroidery project, although that does have a little bit of bearing there.

Nope! This time it was primarily because my computer was not acting right! Slow would be an understatement as to how it was acting. It's been slowing down a lot lately but last night, I couldn't even do the "Clear disc" thingy as it just wouldn't process it. So, I did the analyze on the defrag and it said to defrag it and I did that -which by the way took all freaking night to run!

So this morning, with things not wanting to open, things would drag like crazy when I would type anything -with the words on the screen appearing about 8-10 words (at least) behind when I had actually typed them, I was trying just about anything I could think of to see if I could figure something out.

I called the computer shop (where I had purchased this fine unit) and the guy there said he couldn't tell me anything to do over the phone except to disconnect everything and bring it in to the shop so they could then "repair" it. Hmmm. Even if I'd had a vehicle here at that point in time (which I didn't) I would not have been Johnny on the spot to take the tower in there as I really didn't think there was anything majorly wrong but just that it needed some tweaking somewhere. And I really didn't feel like (nor did I have the coins for that matter) to take it in there and have them charge me anywhere from $60 to $80 (at least) for something that maybe only would take them 10 minutes or so to "fix."

It was then I decided to call my next-door neighbor, Dan, who is pretty computer savvy and he told me to click open the start button, then click "run" and type "msconfig" in that blog and hit enter. From there, he had me go to the tab across the top that says "Start-up" and click off anything I could identify there but also said not to worry if I clicked something else off by accident as he said it wouldn't hurt anything.

So, I did that and the list of stuff that came up under my Start-up was huge! At the bottom of the list it gave me an option to simply "Disable all" and I decided to live dangerously and clicked that on, hit enter and tried to access stuff after that.

Amazingly -to me -things got pretty nice then with ye olde computer as it picked up a great deal of speed. The typing feature returned to normal. I could open programs and it wouldn't have them all constantly showing up then as "not responding" and since then, things have been going along just swimmingly!

Although all of that leading up to following neighbor Dan's directive had me wasting well over six hours of my very valuable time!

And that's how I came to fall so far behind in my blog reading this time!

Nice though to have the computer now behaving properly though!

Speaking of behaviors too -I have a little story to tell you too -before I close up shop and head off to bed. (I have to get to bed a little earlier than my norm of 4-5 a.m. cause I have a doctor's appointment this morning.)

This evening, I was having some issues with Maya. They were pretty much the normal issues we have with her these days -now that she is becoming such a grown up girl, in kindergarten, ya know and picking up all kinds of stuff in addition to stuff she figures out on her own at home here to.

I was more than a little peeved a her and was telling her she better get her butt in gear and behave or else!

She then informed me that "NO! I want Kurtis to be the "Be" and I'll be the "Have" (pronounce that word with a long A, please)!

She had me with that line and I had no comeback. None. Whatsoever! And I had to look away, cover my mouth too, so she wouldn't see that I was trying very hard to keep from busting up, laughing out loud at her!

Kids! Much as I do want her to "behave" properly and all that, it was well worth losing that argument with her for the humor her response provided to Mandy and to me!

You know, I just realized something now too. It's now officially Friday and you know what Friday means, don't you? Time for an "Only The Good Friday" post and what better things to use for an entry there than getting the computer to run and place nice-nice with me again as well as having Maya put me -and my orders to her -in my place!

So that's what this post will be then -my Only the Good Friday! And if you don't remember what that is all about, it's an event set up by Shelly Tucker -the great little story-teller from down Texas way -who wants us to do a post every Friday in which we try to see the good in something that might have had us feeling in an opposite way! Check out her blog here for more information on how you too can participate in the "Only The Good Friday" postings.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vehicle Changes

Mandy and Bill decided to sell the VW Jetta they have had for the past several months recently and are getting a Sunbird in its place. Yes, it's used and yes, it is even two years older than the Jetta is but since they had such good luck with another Sunbird that held up for them for several years -mechanically speaking - and since they still have that buggy parked in a friend of Bill's junkyard, he figures he can use the old Sunbird for parts if they have any problems with this one they are buying. (The only problem with the old unit was that it was rusted out and the frame then wouldn't and couldn't pass the state inspection.)

So, to transfer the Jetta to the Sunbird, Mandy also had to transfer the insurance over too and that's when she learned even though the Sunbird is two years older than the Jetta, the insurance rates for it will increase slightly.

Now, some people -if they had that happen to them -would be checking all over the place, getting new auto insurance quotes which in and of itself isn't a bad thing I suppose. However, we've had all our insurance through one particular company -car, home owners, mortgage too -and overall, have been quite happy with the coverage and service they give, so she isn't going to look for another company because of a small increase in the rates with this transfer.

Which brings me to another little lecture of sorts -along the lines of my post the other night about insurance stuff -and that is to recognize the need to have car insurance and also, to make sure the company you are dealing with is very reliable, quite reputable, in the service they provide for their fees.

This kind of insurance is to my mind, another of life's necessities. Some states don't require residents to carry any insurance on their vehicles and frankly, I think that is a very bad procedure for both the states and those who don't bother to carry insurance at all on the vehicles then either.

Just as we all like to think we are safe behind the wheel of our own car, I'd be willing to bet that there are very few of us who haven't experienced some type of auto accident at some time and perhaps then, and if so, did you have insurance coverage at that time? Maybe you only carried liability insurance -which only covers the other driver's car in the case of a two-car or multi-vehicle accident so you were protected as was the other driver, in case of a lawsuit type of thing and the other driver could then get their car repaired.

But what if that is all the insurance you had and your car is totaled? Then what do you do? How many people can afford to "eat" that kind of financial loss? Could you? I know for sure I can't so I always carry both liability and comprehensive insurance on my vehicle, regardless of the age of the car. I also carry the lowest deductible I can too -which also increases the insurance costs slightly but in my mind, it's well worth that little extra being paid out if my car is involved in an accident and damaged, then I only have to pay out the deductible to get it repaired or, if it is totaled, then I get the value of the car to put towards a replacement.

For me, knowing I have a good value with the company I have chosen to insure my car is important to for my peace of mind not just with respect to my car, my protection but also for others on the highway who maybe don't believe in the need to carry insurance as I do.

Hot Time A Comin'

Did I mention before that Mandy now has a part-time job? Not that many hours per week -only about 13-15 -but enough that it gets her out of the house and she earns a couple bucks in the process.

She works one full shift each week as the bartender and two evenings, cooking in the kitchen at a nearby establishment - Jackson's -down in Winburne.

Here's something she got recently from her employer.
It's a bit dark so it's difficult to see but to the right side of the invite is a wooden stake, with the tip painted in a blood red. Yeah, the boss lady there does love Halloween, you could say, huh?

When it comes to holiday invitations, I think this one really takes the cake!

The owner of the establishment has the inside of the place all decorated for the season as well as even having spooky stuff up on the roof top too.

One other really neat thing about this place where Mandy is working is all the stuff they sponsor there for the "Make a Wish Foundation." They recently had a silent auction of all kinds of things and through that, they raised $14,900 for the Make a Wish group.

I think that is so fantastic for a small bar in a very small, pretty rural area, to raise that much money for a group that does such great things for children and their families, don't you?

And it just goes to show the human spirit too at its finest.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Long Weekend

I had initially thought -wrongly as I see now -that I would be caught up and able to post about this past weekend before now but here it is, now Tuesday a.m. and I'm just getting around to doing this! How time does fly, huh?

We had a really great weekend here. Some expected things, some very unexpected too but all for the best.

First -gotta tell you about this one -unexpected tonight but one we've sort of been working on with Kurtis for quite some time now. We've been trying to teach him his body parts -what each area is called and then, narrowing things down from there, ya know. It took what seemed like forever that we were singing, over and over to him, that little song "Head and shoulders, knees and toes" ya know and pointing to those particular body parts to try to get him to point and name them too. A couple weeks ago, he surprised me by coming to me and pointing to his shoulders and saying something I couldn't quite understand but finally, through a few more gestures, I realized he was trying to do the moves to that song and he wanted me to sing it again for him.

After doing that, and watching him point to his eyes, ears, knees, etc., I started pointing to other body areas -one of those being his mouth and then teeth and tongue. No matter how much I repeated those things I couldn't get him to even try to say them. Not at all! Nor would he point to them either. And of course, in case you are wondering, to try to teach him the word "tongue" and its location, etc., I did that by sticking my tongue out at him.

Tonight, shortly after supper as Mandy and I were still seated at the table, talking, out of the blue, he came running up to us saying "tongue, tongue" but instead of sticking his tongue out, he was pulling his lower lip up and curling it over the top lip. Which of course got us to trying again to show him "tongue" and by sticking our tongues out at him. When all of a sudden after seeing us opening our mouths, pointing to the tongue and then sticking it out, it suddenly dawned on him to try doing that and when he did, presto-magic, yes he managed then to stick his tongue out!

So of course, we both applauded him for doing such a great job at that. All of which caused him then to run around the house, going up to each person, sticking his tongue out at them and then saying "Tongue, tongue!" and laughing for all he was worth.

And that then prompted me to tell Mandy that move on our part, teaching him that little trick, may quite well come back to haunt us at some time in the future.

Oh well. A boy's gotta learn, doesn't he?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the weekend.

Although I didn't do anything strenuous over the weekend, this morning I woke up -and this was after having gone to bed early too -like at 1:30 a.m. -and having slept for a good 6, almost 7 hours -but I woke up with both legs from the knee to the ankle just aching like toothache. Seriously, they both felt like I must have had a heck of a workout on some kind of treadmills someplace!

Now truthfully, if I have some aches and pains from having done something that was a bit on the overly exerted side of my physical activity, I really don't mind those pains then, as they were worked for, well-deserved. But when I hadn't done anything over the top and still woke up aching like that, then I get a bit irritable about this stuff. Damned aging processes anyway, I guess.

So, moving backwards once more to the long weekend, what exactly was so special about it for us anyway?

Well, we had company here from Saturday evening through to about 2 p.m. this afternoon.

It was my son's former fiance, Amie, and her little boy, Peyton!

I can see those eyebrows raising now as you try to digest that bit of information. "Did she say that right? The son's former fiance and her son, huh?"

Yep! Thankfully, when they parted company almost six years ago now, they did so in a very friendly manner and they still keep in touch fairly frequently. Because we had become very close to Amie when they were together, it was one part of their break-up that worried us at first as we thought it would mean the end of our family's friendship with Amie but our worries and fears there were soon put to rest and we have all stayed very close friends with her and now, with her little guy who is 18 months old and the cutest, mellowest, little fellow ever!

Although I did get a couple of pictures of little Peyton, I haven't downloaded them and will do that in the very near future.

I also got some other pictures too Saturday evening of the "haul" the son-in-law came home with after having attended a big home auction Saturday afternoon! What a surprise his purchases were to all of us.

He said he hadn't gone to this auction with any ideas at all about bidding on any furniture but stuff that was up for auction was, he felt, very nice and some things were going for peanuts so he bid on a few things and that's how we ended up with a whole new -matching, no less -living room suite, a new computer desk with a hutch, a Dell Monitor and also, a Dell printer/scanner thing too! (Plus he got himself quite a few other odds and ends things that I guess only men or mechanics can enjoy and appreciate, but he was quite happy over how his bidding had gone for him.)

I'll be posting the pics of the furniture and also, how well I was now able to organize my desk area too with this new piece! The nicest thing about all the rearranging of my desk is that my monitor is now positioned almost at the front edge of my desk -not back by the wall where it was on the old desk -and now, I can see the monitor quite nicely. No more leaning forward, or tilting my head back till it strained the neck muscles just so I could get the screen in focus with the damned bifocals, ya know. No sirree! Now, it is up close and darned personal and boy, I am loving it! Vision restored for me and that is a darned good thing. Yep, the son-in-law really did well in snagging this desk, the monitor and the printer (both the latter look almost like brand-new) for a mere $5.00! (The drawback to the printer/scanner thing he learned tonight when Mandy asked him where the cord is to it and he has no clue! Oh well, hopefully he can get one someplace, don't 'cha think? Not that I need it for my unit here but so he can hook it up-provided it will be compatible -to my old computer that he has up at his shop.)

So there you have it now -the bulk of the news from my big weekend.

Just seeing Amie -and little Peyton -again was great but also, to watch the interactions between Kurtis and Peyton Saturday evening when it was just the two little boys here as Maya was spending the night at Jen-Jen and Nick-Nick's place (That's Mandy's good friend and her husband and their children who really cater to Maya's whims.) and watching the boys make friends, occasionally even sharing each others toys too but without all the drama that usually exists here between Maya and Kurt because she expects it should only be Kurtis that has to share, not her too!

Saturday night, we were able to have a nice dinner with son, Clate, his girlfriend and her daughter (Betty and Rachel) and then Sunday, yet another big family dinner with them here as well as with older daughter, Carrie, her fiance, Robert and my older grandson, Alex, being here too!

And now, I think I'll retire shortly -calling it a great end to a really nice long weekend!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Perspective

Got a notice in the mail yesterday about something that I do feel very strongly about, mainly because I've been in a predicament where I was really glad I had this stuff.

How many of you have had the misfortune of having your home catch on fire? Hopefully, if any of you, my readers, have had this happen, it was a small fire, or you got out safely, got out your valuables that can't be replaced too.

In our case, we were very lucky because it didn't destroy the entire house but it sure as heck did wreak a lot of damage to the upstairs. We lost clothes, yes and a lot of bedroom furnishings and the like along with many old photos and stuff like that. It also made cleaning the attic out an absolute necessity which was, in fact, a very good thing as it was stuffed to the gills with stuff dating back to the 20s and 30s -things that had belonged to this aunt or uncle or stuff my Grandma -who, like my mother and me -was the original pack-rat, I do believe.

But anyway, that part is beside the point -well sort of.

The mail I got was a reminder about my home owners insurance and the cost that will be incurred to me if I keep the current policy I have in effect. (I get one of these notes from my insurance company periodically.)

All this means is that if I am unsatisfied with the current pricing there I will need to shop around and get a home insurance quote from some other companies -or even talk to the agent about revamping my current policy perhaps.

The thing here for me is that I am, overall, generally quite satisfied with the company and plan I have although it might be interesting to see how my plan shapes up compared to others in price and coverage.

But the most important thing -and the actual message I'd like to impart here (because I think of this every time I get one of these notices ya see) is to state unequivocally how important it really is to have insurance that covers this type of issue. Whether you own a home or rent, it is one expense that too many people overlook or try to slide by without that and in my humble opinion, it really is an absolute necessity!

When my house caught on fire, the insurance I had (still have) covered the cost of repairing the entire second floor, rebuilding the attic where it was damaged, replaced the furnishings lost and the clothing my kids and I lost too. In addition to that, because for the time the repairs were taking place, we couldn't live in the house, it also covered the expense of our living in a motel for almost four months as well as any meals we ate at the local restaurant because I couldn't use the downstairs and the kitchen from time to time then too!

If something like this happened to you and your family and you had no insurance coverage, could you afford to "keep" yourself by paying out from your own pocket for all those repairs, for another temporary roof over your heads, for all new clothes and such?

If not, how would you manage then?

Just some food for thought about something I do believe whole heartedly in the necessity of having this type of insurance coverage.

I hope you never have to call your insurance agent and make such a claim but maybe if you don't have insurance now, this post might cause you to think about things a bit and put stuff into perspective in that aspect!

Stay safe, please!

Clean Up. Clean Up.

There's this little song that Maya learned her very first week in pre-school and which she loved back then. Today -well that song strikes a much different chord with her.

The song: "Clean up!" It extols the virtues of picking up ones toys, clothes, whatever, ya know, to help keep the home (or classroom) all neat, clean, tidy.

Now it's also a nice little song that would be good if a few of us of the grown-up variety would sing all the time here too and then, we wouldn't find ourselves in the bit of a pickle currently being faced here.

Right now, as I write this, Mandy is upstairs trying to "tidy up" the 17-year-old's bedroom and to have things stashed away (but not tossed out-away, ya know) in time for the arrival of the company we have coming today.

I told her what she really needs is a nice big stainless steel drum (actually, I think we would need several, possibly an army of them) to contain stuff in that kid's room (and then, mine and the other bedrooms too) in a manner that the drums could then be stored someplace where they could be concealed but it wouldn't necessarily matter then if that area were damp cause a container like that would prevent them from getting mildew and stuff like that, don't 'cha think?

Okay, I suppose it wouldn't exactly serve the purpose today -not enough time to get enough containers, ya know. But dang if it doesn't sound like a whiz-bang idea of a way to store stuff in the future -like maybe my crafts stash stuff? That way, I could use the room under the bathroom -that only has a dirt floor and is very damp -to store things there then, couldn't I?

Hmmm. Guess I'll just have to keep this idea under wraps but still under consideration, won't I?


My son - who is far from being a candidate for sainthood -would probably view some of my posts as being hypocritical.

Why? Well because some days I write about stuff and then, turn around and do pretty much the exact opposite. That is being hypocritical, isn't it?

For example, here I was today surfing a little bit and stumbling across this site -don't even ask how I found it -on something I talk a lot about but do relatively nothing about it or to practice this stuff or whatever.

If I were really serious about losing weight, dieting, and the like, it's true, a good appetite suppressant probably would be needed or might help. But the thing of it is, I don't really eat all that much and am not constantly hungry or anything like that.

But one thing that might help -if I really want to maybe not gain any more weight would be to stop baking some of the delectables that I do enjoy making from time to time. (No, I am not your typical Grandma who always has a full cookie jar of homemade goodies there. But, Mandy is the bad one here who almost always has some kind of bought cookies or worse yet, candies and chocolates, hidden somewhere in the depths of this place. Her own private stash ya know!)

Last night for example, I baked a batch of bar cookies called "Chocolate Streusal Bars" which are divine! They have a bottom layer of chocolate, then a cream cheese-type filling in the middle and are topped by more of the chocolate mix used for the base crust and a little layer of finely crushed walnuts sprinkled on top of that. Mmmm good!

Today, I baked off three and a half dozen cookies that I mixed last night (they had to be refrigerated before being baked otherwise, I probably would have baked them last night.) These are little cookies with bits of Andes mints in them -kind of like chocolate chip cookies but the dough is slightly different but the same principle anyway. And man, are they yummy too!

But I did this because this is gonna be a bit of a special weekend and in a few upcoming posts, you'll learn why.

That's all I'm telling you though for today!

So, you'll just have to come back to learn more. No big long, zig-zag post explaining everything under the sun happening here today or coming up tomorrow or Monday!

Suspense, huh?

After all it is Halloween this month and maybe that plays into something in my writing today.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Good Day!

It's over now. Done for another year -or at least I hope it's in my cards to be around a year from now.

I am now the "real deal" senior citizen I guess having passed the mark yesterday when my age changed to that big old 65!

And to be perfectly honest, I make comments about age, being an old fart, and such, but except for the darned arthritic joints and those type of things, I really don't mind aging.

It does sure as all get out beat the alternatives though, doesn't it?

Well anyway, here's a little run-down on how my day went.

Went to bed about 5 a.m. and woke up about a little past 7 a.m. and told Maya to get up, go upstairs and make sure her mother was awake so she'd be able to get Maya all ready to go to school today. Don't want, don't need, any reruns of the morning Mandy didn't wake up until about 7:40 a.m. and she only had about 15 minutes to get Maya washed, dressed and shoved out the door when her bus pulled up out front, ya know!

I did go back to sleep for about another hour or so then though and got up around 8:15. Mandy said she and Maya had a bit of an argument this a.m. about what type of clothing she was to wear to school today. It was supposed to be one of those special school days where the kids are all supposed to dress a certain way and Mandy, for some reason or other, was thinking today was supposed to be "Clash Day" and this got Maya all upset because she insisted it was supposed to be "Team Day." Ultimately the issue was resolved as Maya went and pointed out on the school calendar that yes indeed, it was supposed to be "Team Day" and that proved to her mother that SHE was right! Boy, that's tough to swallow when an almost six-year-old can read that well after only a little over a month in kindergarten, isn't it?

Thanks to my good friend Linda -the 911 operator, ya know - who put out the good word on her blog for everyone to come visiting here today and wish me a Happy Birthday, I had loads and loads of birthday greetings from blogger friends and a whole big bunch over on Facebook too! Thanks to every last one of you who came calling and passed on a greeting while here. I really did appreciate that, very much.

I put some spareribs in the crockpot to cook for supper while Mandy took care of fixing scalloped potatoes and some green beans and then, she also fixed a big pan as well as a smaller one of apple crisp too for dessert. (She offered me the choice of brownies or apple crisp and you can figure now what my choice was, can't you?) So tonight, we had big bowls of hot apple crisp, right out of the oven, topped with a lot of yummy good ice cream too! Mmmmm, Good! The only drawback to that treat is that if we keep making crisps and pies and the holiday seasons just around the corner that will be laden with all kinds of good treats, I will really have to be on a search and destroy mission for some kind of fat burners, won't I?

But along with the blogger greetings, facebook messages and phone calls too from my older daughter, my son and from my older grandson -Prince Alex -I also had a visitor today. And this one came bearing gifts too!

My good friend -the one who has been my friend for probably 62 or 63 years -for almost my entire life at any rate -stopped by with a birthday present for me. It's a beautiful candle stick holder that her husband made and it is in a traditional-type Swedish design. To show it to all of you, I decided to place it on the tabletopper I started Tuesday afternoon so you get a sneak preview of the project I'm working on and using that to show off the candle holder too.

The tabletopper has 12 sections with a candle and small pine branch with some holly berries and so far now, I have three of those sections completed.

Here's another photo too of the candleholder and corner of the cloth. Hopefully it will show up a bit better here.
Yeah - I think you can see better what the candle holder really looks like in this shot. But it will look really pretty gracing the table at Christmas or just seated atop the organ year round too, don't you agree?

And that's pretty much all the excitement to be had here today. But the meal, the greetings and wishes, the dessert, visitor and candle holder along with the wonderful photo my cousin sent me the other day really all came together to make this one of the absolute best birthdays ever!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Gift of Love

My birthday is just around the corner.

It's a big one too -will make me really eligible to be in the "Old-timer's Club" ya know.

That aspect is no big deal as far as I am concerned. Just another day really, ya know except that this one is the 65th anniversary since I entered the world. I have no big plans for celebrating the occasion, don't want my kids to go spend a bunch of money on things they think I would like or need.

I told Mandy -who had the idea that perhaps she and her husband, her brother and I guess his girl friend, perhaps the older daughter too, could take me out for dinner as some posh place over in State College. I vetoed that idea -not my cup of tea.

Yes, that would be nice, certainly. But if they want to spend money for the occasion, I told her I would much rather have a gift certificate to my favorite online crafts establishment -Herrschnerrs -so I could apply that money then towards purchasing items I'd like to have and be able then to pick up stuff when it is on sale -which is usually about the time I am broke ya know. The best sales are always available it seems when I have the least amount of funds that I can use ojn the stuff. Murphy and his damned law seem to be the one that my life has always -probably always will I suppose -revolve around!

But anyway, that isn't what I'm writing about tonight. Not the potential of gifts from my kids but rather to tell you about a gift I did receive today.

I got a birthday card on Saturday in the mail -the first, in honor of this occasion -and it was from the law firm that represented me in my disability hearing for Social Security. Nice of them to remember me with that little card five years after the fact I guess.

But today, Mandy brought a card home for me and I knew with a glance at the return address that it was a card from my sweet, thoughtful cousin, Ruth Ann, down in Texas. I opened it, read the card and yes, I was right.

But inside the card there was something else. A little note, wrapped around a photograph.

I looked very quickly at the photos and saw it was a man holding a baby. Obviously it was a baby girl too because there was this big old bonnet-type hat, with the old-fashioned brim. At first I thought the man in the photo was Ruth Ann's brother, Jay and maybe he was holding one of his daughters. But when I flipped the photo over, there was nothing on the back of it to identify the people.

That's when I realized the paper around the photo was actually a note from Ruth Ann to me and it was about this picture.

Seems while she was organizing her belongings -having just moved the end of August from Alabama to the San Antonio area of Texas -she found this photo in a box and realizing who it was on the picture, she went and had a copy made to send to me.

The people on the picture you see were her at about six months of age and it was my Dad who was holding her!

I never knew my Dad. He saw me one time when I was 10 days old and he died when I was 17 days old of stomach cancer.

Although I did have some old, rather small, very faded pictures of him taken on a couple trips he had made out west -to Montana to visit his Dad's family there back in the 30s, I really had very few photographs of my dad that were nice, clear pictures.

And this one filled the bill in that respect!

My eyes filled with tears as I took the picture to show it to Amanda -my younger daughter here.

One look at it and then at me and she knew right away then who this man was!

All she could do was sit there and stare at the photo of her grandfather and it literally took her breath away momentarily. When she did speak, she marveled at the likeness of her brother to this man.

Oh my yes! My son does look so much like his grandfather! That much is for certain. He also looks a lot like his father too and the funny thing is that my youngest aunt often used to remark to me that my ex-husband sometimes reminded her of my Dad.

I have one other picture of my dad, taken around 1918 or 1919 and it is supposed to be my youngest aunt at about 18 months old, seated in a sled with big handles on the back for pushing it along in the snow and it is my Dad standing behind her on that photo, holding onto those handlebars.

On that picture, there are so many traits too that most everyone who knows my son can see immediately and know then that this is some relative of his.

There is the cut of my dad's hair, the way he is standing, the slightly unkempt appearance of his shirttail not tucked in neatly and then, there is also the look in his eyes and the faint smile on his face -all things you can see in this photo and you can bring up an image of my son, Clayton, being the one standing behind that sled.


Another funny thing about that really old picture too is that if you look at my aunt, seated on that sled, see her face and if I were to lay down a picture of me at about 6 months, of my older daughter at about 4 months, of my older grandson when he was a baby, of Maya when she was a baby and a toddler -you can see certain family traits shining right straight through from my aunt to me to my daughter and down to my grandchildren! Yep. You can pick up the resemblances cutting across four generations and not from a direct ancestor but from my aunt, my daughter's great-aunt and the grandchildren's great-great-aunt!

Things like that always amaze me!

And here is the photo I received today. This is what my son would look like if he were dressed in 40s era clothing and it is pretty much how he would react to, if he were holding a baby of about six months who just happened to be his niece too. So many things there that shine -absolutely shine -through of my Dad to the young man -now 36 years old -who is that man's grandson!

Now if that photograph isn't a true gift of love from my cousin to me, I don't know what is!

For me, I do know this.

It is absolutely priceless!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Just Around The Bend

All this dark, damp, dreary -and cold, very wet, weather has brought about a nagging reminder to me that we are gonna have to order some fuel oil for the old furnace here -very shortly!

I really dread the coming months with the cold, ice, snow, sleet -all that "wonderful" winter stuff - mainly because of the price of fuel oil these days. And with that, we try to keep this old barn of a house reasonably comfortable without breaking the bank in the process.

We have a fireplace in the living room that many, upon coming in here for the first time, have remarked about how nice it must be to have a fireplace to be able to sit and enjoy the nice cozy warmth from that entity.

Sadly, that is not the case with this particular fireplace though. As it is one that because when it was built, it wasn't set up properly, so hasn't been used since sometime in the 30s -before the family discovered it is virtually a mega fire hazard if it were to be used consistently. Sometime about the cinder box being seated directly on one of the main timbers of the house if I recall the story behind why the fireplace should never be utilized.

However, it does often make me wish we could perhaps get an electric fireplace to use to at least take a lot of the chill off the downstairs in this house during those cold winter months ahead.

But then, I wonder how much an electric fireplace would jack up our electric bill too?

Son of a gun, but you can't seem to win no how, no way, sometimes, can you?

Because our hot water is heated off the furnace, the system here runs year-round so no getting away from the oil heat completely. But, I am wondering too which is the more expensive overall -running the furnace to heat the entire house or maybe investing in one of these electric things to keep the house warm but not totally at the expense of those high oil bills.

Anyone got a clue about how feasible that would be for a supplemental type of heat, perhaps?

Tell me your experience with things like thiis -and hurry, before I go into frozen mode here for the next several months!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Difusing and Disecting

TGIF! Thank Goodness It's Friday! Actually, I say that because it's time for that weekly event begun a few months back by the fearless blogger, Shelley Tucker of This Eclectic Life. Shelley proposed that on Fridays we should blog only with a positive point of view -taking something that might otherwise have bad or dreary connotations and trying to put an upbeat spin on it. So, if you look at Shelley's introductory post about the "Only The Good Friday" and like the premise of it, then come on, jump in and join us. The water's fine and after all, its ALL good then, isn't it?

So anyway, this is my take for this week on what's good about it!

My day - or yesterday now -Thursday, anyway, didn't start out looking exactly great.

Oh sure, it was a rare thing that happened to me in that I had actually managed to get a pretty darned large amount of sleep by the time I was ready to rise and shine Thursday morning. But even with that -so no excuses of being tired, poor me crap, ya know, in that respect but I realized I was feeling rather antsy, anxious and yes, depressed. Happens every now and again -or rather, NOT feeling depressed sometimes seem to be the rarity of late.

Why is that? Be damned if I know. It's one of the sneakiest little devils though, this darned depression and the anxiety it brings with it. Creeps up behind and smacks you upside the head it does and then, you have to do a bit of regrouping to get back on track once more.

At first, I thought it was just an early attack of the old Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD -that often gets to people during the winter months when they don't get enough of the real sunshine that provides the vitamin D (isn't that the one they say we lose then?). Well, whatever vitamin the sunshine helps out with, I was figuring with all the drab and dreary and damp and just plain nasty rainy days we had this whole summer that maybe I was getting a taste of the SAD stuff a mite early.

One of my blogger buddies, who is also on my Facebook, had posted something Thursday morning asking us what we'd done so far today that was a good thing -aside from getting up and out of bed, ya know. And in response to that, I had said that I had managed to refrain from choking my SIL. Yeah, I've not been overly happy with some of the things he's been doing of late -or for quite a while now, really -like about the past year! So really, I was very proud of myself that I hadn't done anything really bad to him! Yes, that's a good thing, don't you agree?

Ok, this was one time when being a bit on the snarky side did, for a couple of minutes anyway, make me feel a little bit of relief. Just putting those feelings into words somehow did help to alleviate my antagonistic thoughts about him for a while.

Then, I decided I'd best get busy and find some way to relax a bit more. So it was off to open my reader then and start down the list of new posts there, waiting for me to peruse them.

Reading posts about others who were writing about things happening in their lives did help a good bit as I learned there were lots of people who have problems akin to mine and loads and loads who have problems way, way more difficult than mine too! Not that it's nice to read about people having really bad issues of all sorts, but it does help to put one's one issues into a better perspective then too, you see.

But it was when I opened Dr. John's blog today that I really got an eye-opener!

First off, Dr. John always has a nice little blurb at the top of his blog that sets the tone or theme for his post for that day.

Here's what he had there:

We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me. ~Phyllis Theroux

Now, I thought that saying was pretty cool, really -I did. But then he went on to say that my blog was his "featured" blog today. And in that part of his post, he went on to toss out a lot of compliments my way.

Apparently he thinks I am quite the "real deal" as grandmothers go.

It was nice to read those things he wrote -certainly. Who wouldn't appreciate that? But it also made me think a bit too about more than a few areas in my life in dire need of repairing.

Contrary to Dr. John's thoughts and words there, about the only thing he said that I will fully accept is that I do blog about my two autistic grandchildren who live with me.

Yes, they -and their older cousin (Grandson #1, Alex) -most certainly are the apples of my eye! And too, sometimes life with Maya and Kurtis, in particular, is quite the adventure, to be sure!

It was where he listed the "Kind loving and always there" that got me.

I wrote to him and thanked him for his kind words but also added that this was one time I was really kind of glad that my kids aren't into the blogging scene and don't follow others blogs as I do because I knew if they read his glowing words about me, my blog, etc., it would have them pointing at me and rolling on the floor laughing as they would be trying to picture me being all that nice and stuff, ya know.

Because you see, I am not quite that way!

One of the things I used to tell my kids all the time when they were growing up was that I hoped and prayed that someday they would get married and have children of their own. And when that happened, I promised them I was going to take those very grandchildren and teach them every freaking rotten trick that their parent (aunt or uncle -whatever the case may be) had ever done to me along with teaching said future grandkids every dirty word I knew too! And when I was sure the child had learned that stuff and learned it well, I would turn the child back to his/her parent then!

One day, when my older daughter was probably about 20 or so, my son came to me and told me that his older sister was afraid of getting married and having children. I asked him why that was and he -in his own inimitable style, said "Well it's because of that threat you always made to us about teaching your grandchildren all that stuff, ya know. She's afraid you're really going to do that."

And then I told him, "Clayton, I AM going to do just that!"

And the look of shock, surprise -even maybe a bit of horror -that crossed his face then was absolutely priceless!

But the funny thing is, I've never had to teach my grandkids any tricks of the trade, if you will, of ways to drive their parents just a bit over the edge, berserk, whatever. Seems they come with those talents already built-in!

Then I got a bright idea of a way to work on ridding myself of maybe a little bit of the bad attitude, depressing thoughts, anxieties, I was feeling then.

My Mom always told me that for some reason, if she was feeling uptight, or down in the dumps, just not quite right, it always seemed to help her to bake some bread. Something about all that kneading of the dough she felt was what helped her then to kind of work out some of the bad stuff and insert something good there in its place.

So, that's what I did then. I got out all my flours (wheat, white) and the other ingredients and mixed up a batch of whole wheat bread. Got it in the oven and baking so that it was ready have the first loaf sliced and on the table with our supper tonight.

And you know what else happened too? Apparently my Mom was right about kneading and pounding a batch of bread dough because as I did that, with each push of the dough against the hard counter, I could then name it with whatever animosity I wanted that was lurking deep inside me.

And by baking the bread, it made that stuff just dissolve then, dissipate right before me -or so it seemed anyway because as I bit into the first piece, loaded with good sweet REAL butter and tasted that great flavor, it really did warm my body and soul!

Gave me strength then to try to start anew with the issues within the family that are pulling away at whatever little bit of harmonious life we're trying to get going here.

And I don't know about you, but I do think anytime we can find a way to put the bad thoughts away, to knead them, work them out like kinky muscles or something, to pound them down a bit, and then, to be able to enjoy something good, sweet and delicious as a result of that -well, that's a pretty darned good thing in my book, you see!

Now, I still have to work on cleaning up the vocabulary a good bit.

I wonder if I started baking cookies and more sweet things like that if it would maybe mold me more into the "nice Grandma" image? I already have a large assortment of aprons to at least look the part for that.

Toasted and Roasted!

How many of you -my readers -have ever heard of the blog "Authorblog" and its creator, David McMahon?

I know how I found David's blog but I don't remember exactly when that was. By my estimation it was probably about 2 1/2 years ago and I found his blog via my good friend, Bernie (aka Vic Grace) and her blog Cariboo Ponderer which is now known as Back Country Ponderer. Over the past couple of years since I first got to know Bernie, she's introduced me to lots of things, many having to do with computers and technology as she has tried to explain things to me. (And trust me, but when it comes to computers and technology, it often takes a lot of "'splaining" and even then, all too often, I still am in the dark.)

But Vic/Bernie did introduce me to David and I've followed his blog, faithfully, ever since then.

Now, David has decided to take a break from blogging to work on other projects he has going. You see, not only is David a big-time blogger but he is also an author -having written and published one novel with two others about to come out too. In addition to that, he is also a very renowned photographer and journalist but don't think for a New York minute that David has ever left those components of his busy life give him a swelled head or anything like that. He is always as down-to-earth as one could possibly be and always, ALWAYS, willing to give a fledgling journalist/photographer/blogger a helping hand in any way he can.

One way David had of reaching out to bloggers and helping them to get a little publicity for their blog was by his daily feature called the "Post of the Day." In this slot he would select various posts from bloggers all over the world and give it a recommendation for the rest of us to please give a particular post that person had written a look-see. It was quite an honor to have David select a post and list it with other bloggers with that little "POTD" icon you could put on your post for that day.

But another way David helped many, many of us in the blogging community was with a weekly feature he started probably close to two years ago now. This was his "Sunday Roast" in which he would "interview a particular blogger, asking various questions -how did you choose the name for your blog; what's the best thing about blogging; your most favorite post you've ever read or what post of yours do you feel is your best post.

Now, with his blog-tirement, (is that what one would call it?) the "Sunday Roast" was in danger of becoming and endangered species. Lost to the blogosphere, for sure.

However, rather than have that happen, David got together with Eddie Bluelights -a slighty crazy blogger from merry olde England (Hey -anyone who follows Suldog's blog has to be a bit tetched in the head, don't you think?) and Eddie is going to take over the Sunday Roast where David is leaving off!

Now this is really a great move on David's part to think of making it possible for this really cool vehicle of the Sunday Roast to stay part of the blogging community and it is also really superb of Eddie to be willing to take on the extra work of keeping the Roast going too!

So, if you've never heard of David and Authorblog, you can still go and look at his blog and in doing that, you'll get an idea of what kind of great stuff he always had posted there AND in the process, you can then also see what the Sunday Roast thing is all about and why it's so great that it will be continued in the fine tradition established there by David.

So, bookmark Eddie Bluelights blog or put it in your reader, add it to the blogs you follow -however you do your thing with respect to blog reading, just make sure you mark Eddie's place with a good spot so you will be able to keep reading the Sunday Roasts along with some of the other brand of humor and postings Eddie also does.

Trust me! You won't regret that move!