Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fighting -like cats and dogs!

It's been a lot of fun over the past 3 months or so, since Mandy first brought Sammy into our home -watching him interact with everyone in the family.

He's such a friendly little mutt -allows both Kurt and Maya to use him as a pillow at times, and he likes to lay at my feet, sometimes on my feet, in a way that I interpret as loyalty of dog to human.

If I happen to be outside with him on his leash when Maya's bus pulls up in the afternoon, he strains at the lead until the doors of the bus open and then, he pulls hard enough so that he can climb up at least on the first two steps of the bus, excitedly waiting for her to gather up her backpack and make her way over to the steps. He knows who is going to be getting off that bus and who he will have to play with once we get back inside the house and judging by the smile that comes over her face when she sees him there too, it's obvious that Maya really likes him too.

The first month he was here, if you recall, we still had four of the six kittens here from Nina's earlier litter. And Sam. being the ultra friendly little guy he is, wanted desperately to be friends with those kittens. It took a good while before the kittens all finally made up with him, but they did and the one we got "stuck" with -"Fluff-Nuts" has become Sammy's best friend here now.

They race and chase each other all over the house. Upstairs, downstair, up and down on the furniture and then, when they tire of that game, they end by curling up, in little balls, sometimes with a paw draped lovingly around each other.

Now, that's how the relationship has gone between Sammy and Fluff-Nuts. I only wish it were that peaceful between him and the two other cats!

Nina, the first Mama cat, has never -to my knowledge, actually engaged in anything more than arching her back and hissing at Sammy. But even that is enough to scare him and he will run backwards, cowering all the while yapping and crying in fear.

Chino, the gray cat, has generally been one to pretty much just sidestep Sammy or lay down someplace a bit out of his range and glower at him.

Well that came to a screeching halt this past Monday when Chino had her first litter of kittens -four of 'em to be precise!

If she even thinks he is anywhere near the bathroom door -much less that he may have been really stupid and walked into the bathroom (which is where she and her kittens have been ensconced) she comes flying out of her little nest and goes into full attack mode!

Today, things changed yet again too when Nina -or "The Slut" as Katie refers to her -added to our cat population some more -again! Yes, now instead of the three cats and four kittens we did have, now we have the three cats (Nina, Chino and Fluff-Nuts) along with nine kittens!

Wonnerful, wonnerful! And yes, I know what caused this and yes again, in that we have found a place now where we can afford to take both Nina and Chino to get them fixed too! And that will be done as soon as it can be done -what with them both being new mothers and all that now too, ya know!

No names shall be assigned to any of these nine cute little kittens either -no matter how appropriate a name may seem for said kitten, no matter how sweet, cute, cuddly, soft, lovable each or any of them may be because a name often leads to the "Oh, we can't get rid of that kitten" syndrome, ya know. Oh yes we can and oh yes we will! Find homes, that is!

But anyway, tonight -while I was typing my earlier post this evening and was sitting here in deep thought, heavy concentration on my typing, my words, trying not to ramble too much -Sammy and Fluff-Nuts decided it was time for them to launch one of their playtimes.

And so they were chasing each other, round and round the dining room table, then making a sweep of the living room; leaping on the sofa, then the love seat, back to the chase again, then up on the recliners and back and forth this went for several minutes.

I tried to get their attention by yelling at them, clapping my hands, stomping a foot now and then but to no avail as they just kept up with their very raucous behavior.

However, about the time they decided they were going to take their game into the hallway and begin the chase up and down the stairs, I think Chino decided that she had had more than enough of their loud behavior and she came flying out of the bathroom, heading right straight for Sammy!

Sammy -who is scared "S******s" of Nina but who until the past couple days hadn't really paid much attention to Chino -simply because she pretty much ignored him -had apparently forgotten that since Monday, Chino has had several spells in which she has come after him and showed him that she really means business too!

Tonight, when she went on the attack, he had made his way to my chair and she cornered him under my chair and then, claws extended -big time -she lit into him like there was no tomorrow!

She was hitting and clawing at his fur, screeching and hissing away and he was scrambling like crazy trying to find shelter from her -all the while, yapping and crying to the extent you'd swear he'd been mortally wounded.

Because all of this by that time was taking place between the calves of my legs, I was the one who ended up shedding a bit of blood as one or both of them apparently had managed to snag the skin and scratched both my legs a good bit. (Another thing here is that my skin is like tissue-paper thin so the least little tap will cause a little nick and draw blood -so it wasn't that I was really injured in the fight -just scratched up a bit.)

Finally, I managed to move my feet enough that I could push Sammy out and away from her a bit and he slunk back into the corner under my computer desk, sitting there shaking all over in a bit of a panic. Meanwhile, Chino sat directly under my chair then in a nice firm pose, glaring at him and just daring him to breath in a way that she would see his chest heave a bit and that would be her signal then to warn him again with another loud hiss that he'd best keep his distance and mind his manners a lot more in the house too!

And when she did leave out that hiss -even though he was well beyond the reach of her claws and safe in the corner there -he began crying all over again!

Such a wuss! Such a watchdog he is, huh?

All this ruckus brought Mandy back downstairs to see what the heck was going on. She grabbed Chino then and took her back to the bathroom, depositing her back with her babies. And I told Mandy to grab a couple of bandaids too to bring me on her way back out to the living room.

By this time, Sammy had emerged from his little hole and was standing on his backlegs, front paws on my knee, still shaking slightly and giving me this big old sad-eyed look as if to say "Why's everyone always picking on me?"

I can see his point after all, he means well. He's really just trying his darnedest to be friends with everyone in the family -including those two felines who apparently have both gone bi-polar on him this week!

I had a nice little chat with him then as I tried to explain this phenomenon of why the cats were both more on guard towards him than they usual vigilance and how, if he KNOWS that they're gonna come out with claws extended, he should remember to, above all, steer clear of their private area now -and for oh, say six to eight weeks from now too.

Of course, tonight -with the excitement of all the fun and games he and Fluff-Nuts were having, it's understandable that he sort of forgot about the cats and the prevalence of their mean streaks showing up then.

But when he does remember that the cats are now both in the bathroom, at opposite ends, with their babies, it does provide a bit of privacy to the rest of us who, prior to this, could expect to have Sammy accompany us anytime we had to go into the bathroom and that he would lay down on the bathmat and watch over us for whatever it was we were doing in that room and he would remain there for the duration too.

Gotta take the good things along with the bad ya know -and finally being able to go back and have no audience with big brown eyes watching your every move -well, that really is a good thing, ya know!

And with that being said, I'm gonna call this my "Only The Good" post for the week -although I'm not so sure than Sammy would agree with my theory on "good" things, would he!

The 21st Olympiad

Have you been following the Olympics over the past two weeks?

I sure have! Watched 'em almost every night during the prime time hours and if I didn't catch something then, what with my penchant for keeping really late hours, I often watched various events over again or caught up with some that I might have missed earlier.

If you watched them, I have another question for you?

Did you cry during any of the events or the awards ceremonies?

I sure as heck did -a lot!

I cried watching Apolo win in the first short race two weeks ago. I cried when Jen Heil, the Canadian skier didn't win the gold although I cheered like crazy when Hannah Kearney -the US skier did take the gold for that same event. But I cried again, watching them both on the podium as they received their medals then too.

Watching so many challenging types of sports -well, I suppose one should really say that they are all "Challenging" -wouldn't be in the Olympics if they weren't now would they? - but anyway, my heart was in my throat, about to explode from fear at times, especially watching the snowboarders -the one that Shawn White took the medal for. And those ski jumpers too or the aerials? WOW. How awesome that a person can do that -look like a bird in flight and land (much of the time) on their two feet too!

The figure skating confused me -more than once too -as I was of the impression that if a skater fell on the ice, it was an automatic out and yet, several skaters fell during those competitions and scored way higher than others who -to my very untrained eye -had performed a perfectly good program, as far as I could tell anyway.

But watching the other night when the Korean young woman won the gold, with the Japanese taking second and then, Joannie Rochette, getting the bronze -now that competition and the winners there, totally blew me away! Such poise and precision in their skating and also, on the podium too. One could really see the pride shining through in each of their eyes as they received their medals. And yes, again I cried -because I was so proud of each of them for being so talented and a little extra as well in sympathy for Ms. Rochette on the loss of her mother two days before her skate. What aplomb to be able to concentrate, to focus so completely on what she was there to do while inside, I'm sure her heart was aching terribly.

So many records set, broken too -so much excitement overall. I can't recall ever having been as caught up by the games as I was this year. Completely engrossed and enthralled by the whole thing, that was me!

I even got Maya to watch some of the events and that's when I learned that she could identify some of the participants by their flags or by the three letter abbreviation for some of the countries too. Now how did that happen, I wondered. Come to find out the past couple of weeks her kindergarten class was learning about flags, and identifying many countries by their flags and also, the abbreviations too. She seemed to be particularly interested in anyone she saw who had this somewhere on them "SUI" -which showed them to be from Switzerland.

Tonight, Kurtis began pointing to the little icon on the bottom left corner of the tv screen and asking "Aas 'sat?" Which translanted from Kurt's language means "What's that?" So it said "Vancouver Olympics" and because he is very much into the ecolalia aspect of autism, it only took my saying that to him two times, before he was then trying to imitate what I had said. Pretty soon I had him running to his mother, pointing to the tv screen and telling her "21st Olympiad!" You rock, Kurtis! Okay -his words weren't totally clear and plain but they were clear enough that you could make out what it was he was saying and that's all that was important to me!

Today and tonight, watching more races and awards ceremonies, I noticed that when the US team won the 4-man bobsled race and were on the podium, while the Star Spangled Banner played, the captain of the team -hand over his heart, head held high -also was fighting back tears too. Not that often you see a guy have that happen and that just endeared him that much more to me -for having taken the gold, yes but also for having overcome serious vision problems that a year ago, he thought he would never race again! And ya know, from having watched a short interview with him prior to the awards, I think too that his getting a bit teary-eyed also had something to do with the pride and patriotism he apparently had in his heart for this beautiful and wonderful country here -the good old USA!

Anyway -I cried right along with him too -for the reasons I listed above that I figured were his and they were mine too!

Tomorrow -okay today (since it is now past midnight) comes the really big competition though -the Granddaddy of 'em all, huh? The hockey match between the US and Canada for the gold medal.

I'll be rooting -as always -for the US to win, of course. But in the end, between the US and Canada -is there really that much difference between the status of a gold vs a silver medal after all is said and done?

Both teams -as well as all the others who participated in the hockey games -will all be winners in my book.

I can't wait now until my neighbor gets back home and hear his stories that I'm sure he'll have from having been in Vancouver, working at the games -as a bus driver, ferrying people from one event to another.

And how I wish I could have been in his shoes too although I probably had a better view of all the competitions than he would have had if he even had the opportunity to go and watch any of the events there in the first place.

Congratulations to every last competitor from every country who participated in this spectacular event.

Now, on to the 22nd Olympiad in 2014!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Animal House!

It's almost 3 a.m. now and Sammy and I just returned from our -hopefully -last outing for him to relieve himself until daylight today. When he and I go out this late, our walk is a bit shorter and we generally go in the opposite direction too -down the road. Why? Because mid-way down the street from our house is one of the street lamps along this road and even with my little flashlight in hand, that flashlight doesn't provide very much light along the way.

It was a pleasant walk tonight though. Cold, yes of course. After all, it is February and isn't that pretty much the norm for this time of year?

And too, it was snowing. I don't know when this snowfall began but the road was already completely covered with a fresh, new cover of white. And you know what? It was pretty! No, it was even more than pretty -it was beautiful.

Lots of things still rumbling in my mind -the issues I posted about earlier with respect to life insurance for openers. I do believe it is in the best interest of all concerned for people to carry some form of life insurance -even if it is just enough to cover the costs for burial -have something so that the family left behind to deal with the normal grief doesn't also have to have that intermingled with thoughts about how on earth am I going to manage to pay for this? A loss of a loved one, whether sudden or something that has been a long, drawn out ordeal, is difficult enough to cope with that let alone having more worry, more stressors unnecessarily put before the family. And, if you do decide to look into purchasing some kind of life insurance and if you can find a plan that you can afford -that won't break the bank at Monte Carlo-and that provides a little extra to be left behind for the family to cover other costs that may have been incurred or that perhaps will now be part of the way your life will be after you're gone, then do that too.

Consider it a parting gesture of love for those left in your wake.

That's just one thing -of many -that are running through my mind tonight.

Another one - a concern yes -is that our "family" just expanded again this week. And yes, I know I'm gonna probably get a lashing from those who read this about birth control for animals and yes, I agree, steps should have been taken to prevent this but unfortunately it seems the cats go into heat much faster than we can move -for openers - or faster than we could acquire the funds needed to take those steps to stop their reproduction.

So on Monday our gray cat, Chino, gave birth to her first -and hopefully last -litter of four cute little kittens all of which look almost exactly like her. Perhaps this was a miracle and she cloned herself? Almost seems like that could be the case because truth be told, we never even suspected she was in heat! She was the strong silent type all the way apparently. Unlike Nina, the orange cat, who we did hear her yowl and howl once or twice this time before she escaped to the outside world and had her most recent fling which, of course, means that she will soon be presenting us with another litter of kittens soon too!

Wonnerful, wonnerful -those who have ever watched Lawrence Welk, please pronounce those first two words there the way he would have done on his show. And no, I don't really mean that having all these kittens arriving here is something wonderful. I am being sarcastic. VERY!

So I am putting the word out to everyone I see, as is Mandy too, that right now we have four kittens, soon we will have more kittens, so please, if you know someone who is in need, who would like a kitten to take home and love and care for and which will in turn probably ignore you until you put some good cat food in front of him/her, but which will also provide for some good entertainment at times too, then please give those people our phone number, address -the whole nine yards ya know.

And this time, after talking to one of the drivers of the vans that pick up and deliver Kurtis to and from his school, I will be receiving the phone number of the local Orphans of the Storm group, which she says will do neutering for a mere $30 per cat! If we'd had that information about 2-3 months ago, we could have scrounged up enough funding to have had at least, perhaps both these cats fixed then. But until now, the only information we had was the pricing for this job done by the vet at his/her office which would have run $80 per cat and that was just a bit cost prohibitive considering all the financial extenuating circumstances that have existed here for the past 3-4 months, thanks to the self-employed professional businessman who also resides in this house.

But aside from the drawbacks mentioned above of having one new litter of kittens and another on the way, probably fairly soon, there have been some things that have been a bit humorous about this whole new state of affairs here too.

I think I've mentioned in the past about Sammy and his relationship with all three of the cats -Nina, Chino and Fluff-Nuts, haven't I? After 3, almost 4 months of Sammy being present in the house with the cats, he and Fluff-Nuts became friends a month or 6 weeks after Sammy came to live with us. And they are quite the pair to watch as they race around and chase each other to and fro, up and down the stairs making the house darned near shake at times and moving furniture around with ease too by their antics.

Nina has never made friends -at all with Sammy. However, all she has ever had to do was to glower at him and hiss a bit and he would run backwards, yelping and crying as if he were going to die at any moment. All that without a single claw on him or even without raising a paw to him.

Chino had always maintained a pretty aloof manner with respect to Sammy. She would slink by him, maybe give him a bit of a dirty look at times to imply he was some kind of infiltrator or quasi-terrorist dog or some such. But rarely did she ever even make any noise or untoward gestures towards him. She just ignored him in the hopes I suppose that by doing that it would cause him to disappear.

All of that calm Chino had previously displayed towards Sammy came to an abrupt -a VERY abrupt end -on Monday after she had delivered her four little kittens.

When Mandy realized Chino was in labor, she emptied out the bottom shelf of this old metal cabinet we have in the bathroom and put some old receiving blankets from the kids and some old toweling in the bottom area and set that up as Chino's private space and her delivery "room" as it were. This cabinet is a bit of an eyesore in that one of the two doors on the bottom part came off the hinge so it has only one door -looks not that great but in this particular case, it serves a nice purpose. We can go in the bathroom and check on Chino and the kittens and she's semi-hidden from the world with that one door that is left on the cabinet.

Now, the problem here is that Sammy seems to feel that he has to follow me, or Mandy, at every turn we make throughout the house and that includes following us both very closely too, when we go into the bathroom. He has to sit there on the bathmat for however long we are in there, regardless of what our mission was when we went in there too. (And to think we thought it was just the kids who had to tail us!)

Well, Sammy made the mistake late Monday afternoon in following one of us into the bathroom and Chino, upon seeing him in there went -well, ballistic is kind of a gentle term I think. I can't think of a stronger one though to describe the speed with which she came out from her sheltered area and the force with which she flung herself on Sammy. And yes, it was a no holds barred exhibition too -claws fully extended and piercing into him wherever she could possibly get a toe hold on him!

And the yelping and crying -my goodness -the gnashing of teeth and wailing that ensued from him! Pitiful, downright pitiful and yet, funny too!

Then later that evening, he was reposing on the living room floor and Chino ventured out for food and other relief, saw him laying there, dozing away and she very quietly walked up to him and went nose to nose with him but not in a mean manner, rather in her normal calm, quiet way almost as if to say that she was sorry for the outburst she'd had with him earlier in the day.

Some of her actions and reactions to him though I do believe have to be caused by an overabundance of hormones that must be zooming through her system. Either that or we have a totally bipolar cat on our hands.

You would think too that he would get the message and stay clear of her, of the bathroom too, but no. Apparently Sammy is not a fast learner about these things.

Although, all of these actions between Sammy and Chino brings to mind a cat we had about 30 years or so ago -longer than that because the ex and I were still married and we were still living in the house next door -the house that Frank built, ya know. Anyway, at that time when Frostie (that cat) had a litter of kittens we also had a dog then too -Willie. Now Frostie and Willie weren't exactly friends -they either ignored or tolerated each other. But when she had that litter of kittens, in no time, Willie would hover over her as she laid in the box we had fixed up for her and her babies and he would just about lick those poor kittens to death! Sometimes it appeared that he was more concerned over their cleanup than Frostie was as frequently as he could be found attending to those kittens. But there were never any outbursts at all from Frostie to shoo him away from her children. They seemed to both love those kittens pretty equally.

One other thing too about Animal House here is the damned rabbits in the cage in the basement. These rabbits are supposed to be the pets of the step-grandson and were only supposed to be here until those stepgrandchildren's grandmother could make other living arrangements for them -oh, just a day or two. That "just a day or two" has now grown to over two months that the bunnies have been living here. Granted, they are a quiet trio and we never even know they are around. Well, usually that is the case.

However, one day about a week or two ago, it seems a certain little six-year-old girl, who shall remain nameless here, had been in the basement with her Dad and unbeknownst to him, she had managed to unlatch the cage where the bunnies reside. And no one was aware that they were out and about -running around in the cellar until Mandy happened to go down to do some laundry that is.

She was standing by the washer and dryer, going about her business when one of the bunnies apparently hopped over her feet and almost sent Mandy into cardiac arrest!

Not that she is afraid of the rabbits -far from it. But just that she wasn't expecting anything alive to be bouncing around, loose, in the basement at the time so it did give her quite a start. And also unloosed her tongue and the knowledge she has of many curse words too in the process.

And one other little story -before I close for tonight.

Maya and her kindergarten class have been studying different countries, their flags and various other things about many countries around the world. Probably being covered in conjunction with the Olympics ya know.

This past Sunday, I had gone down to visit with the older daughter for a couple of hours and when I returned home, Mandy and the kids were out. When they came home, Maya noticed that I was wearing a piece of jewelry -an item she'd never seen before, which is a fairly good sized medallion type pendant on a gold chain. Upon spying that necklace, she remarked "Look, Grammy has a medal too!" Apparently she's learning a good bit more than we realized from all the viewing I've been doing over the past week and a half of watching all the Olympic activities I could possibly see!

Just thought it was a bit of a light and bright spot to leave you with about me and my "medal."

Later, Taters!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Worry, Worry!

Do you worry a lot? About really serious things or mediocre or maybe even petty things, which would mean then you pretty much worry about everything and anything, wouldn't it?

I confess there are some things that I do worry about. Yes, there are some that come and go -like fleeting thoughts in my mind when I deem them not worth the effort to give a fat rats behind about.

There are other things too that I do worry about all the time but I try to keep them down to the dull roar level in the back of my mind. These are the general concerns that I think everyone has pertaining to family, friends and such. It's not that they aren't important but more that they are there on a constant basis, things that are totally beyond my control -which I have accepted about those issues -and therefore, unless something major trips a trigger there, they stay on low-level annoyance status.

Lately though, there's been something that does worry me a good bit -and it pertains to younger daughter here, Miss Mandy. Surprise, surprise too in that this doesn't concern the issues I have with her husband, the lovely (NOT) son-in-law for a change.

I know she and the SIL have a lot of financial issues and as such, they have never given any thought to things like insurance on themselves. Money, plus at their ages they are still often in that phase of believing they are immortal; that they will be here forever.

I really wish -and I hope I can get this across to Mandy (soon, too) that this is a commodity EVERYONE should have at least some insurance. I know it's an expense we all often bypass but gee, even some smallish policy of term life insurance -which generally is the most affordable insurance option -can be purchased for a very reasonable price.

With her planning a trip in mid-March now to Phoenix and from there, going up to Nevada to spend some time with her Dad and step-mother, I would hope that I can convince her to look into an inexpensive policy for herself and really, she definitely should consider investing in one for the SIL as well.

I worry -a lot -about the grandkids and how -if something were to happen to Mandy or to Bill -how we would be able to manage in all respects -beyond the grief that something like that would bring on its on, but to all the various expenses a sudden death could bring on to the family too.

And I, for one, would definitely rest a whole lot easier if she would look into this and enroll herself and Bill in a policy of this type. While I'm on that track I'd like to see my son as well as my older daughter check into a purchase of this type too.

Better to be safe than sorry, is my opinion on this matter.

What say you?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beautiful Day!

It's a BEAUTIFUL DAY ...In Pennsylvania!

Probably it's beautiful in lots of other places around this big old USA today too.

But for my money, it's a beautiful day for more than just the fact that the sun is shining here -ever so brightly and there's no snow in the forecast either until maybe Monday. (The latter bit of information from Mandy who says she heard were supposed to take another hit from Frosty the Snowman's Maker then.

But here's another reason why I think it's a beautiful day too! Time to do a good old "Only the Good Friday post, ya know!
If you aren't familiar with Shelly Tucker and her blog -This Eclectic Life - then go here and learn about turning negatives into positives by doing posts that illustrate, as she says, "Only the good" -the things that make life very much worthwhile.

It's a good day, anyday, that I am able to go for a nice brisk walk -or trot -or sometimes even break into a tiny bit of a run -while enjoying the fresh air with our sweet little Sammy -aka "Chippy" -on our walks up or down the street here where we live.

Today, we went out around 1 p.m. -walked up to the corner and back and it was on the return portion of our stroll that he forced me into upping the pace, just a tad -from the normal "trot" speed to breaking out into a run. Granted it was a very brief run, but it was definitely a run all the same.

He knows all the houses along our route where there's another dog living -whether it be an inside dog or an outside dog, chained up, he knows those places! As do I.

Today, on the way home though, one neighbor of ours -who has a dog -just so happened to have the dog out, on their front porch. Thankfully, their porch is also barricaded so the dog can go out without having to be tied and getting a lead all tangled up around everything and anything -and also, so we can walk by without risk of the two dogs -theirs and mine -getting their bodies a bit tangled up too.

However, the same can not be said for their cat. And though Sam knows there is occasionally a cat, out and about around that house, he usually is pretty good on the leash if he sees it -just barks a bit, strains a little on the lead too but not all that hard and I can easily keep him under control.

Today though -with the dog on the porch barking at us and then, Sammy spied the cat by the side of the porch and he gave a yank on his lead at the exact same time that I was changing hands on the hand control of his lead and that pulled the lead completely out of my grasp!

He was off and running! And boy, I do mean running too! Barreling through the snow, up to the porch and around the side and the cat -well, the cat took off too like a streak across the field between that house and the neighbors next door to them.

Sammy was racing and chasing, zigging and zagging, in and out and around everything in the second neighbor's yard until the cat finally took refuge under a the lilac bush there and in the vines and branches at the bottom of that bush, it sat there, completely protected and well out of Sammy's reach.

Reluctantly, he gave up that chase and romped a bit then through the snow, finally reappearing on the road two houses down from where he had taken off.

And I had to run then a bit to get up to where he was standing before something else caught his eye -or before some truck or car might come by and he'd be liable then to dart out in front of that and could get smooshed, flatter than the flattest pancake.

It's a good day in that I did manage to run that short piece (very short piece) and caught up with him. He put his head down as I picked up his lead and scolded him a bit for running off like that. Kind of acted as though he understood he'd been bad and was showing me a bit of remorse for having forced me to move even faster than he does when we are moving at his "trot" speed.

Inside the house, out in the kitchen, I just about jumped out of my skin though as I heard this really loud rumble, then thumping sounds coming from above me. What the heck was that? Then it dawned on me, that maybe the warmer weather, the lovely sunshine, had melted away at some of the icicles hanging from the upper eaves of the house and fallen on the porch roof and then, rolled off.

I went to the front door to check it out but saw nothing new on the ground. So I went out on the side walk and looked up and there was Mandy, hanging out the window from her bedroom, trying to knock whatever icicles she could reach from that small vantage point.

She managed to get a goodly number of those icicles knocked off and then, came downstairs and went to the side of the house -between the kitchen and the front porch -and proceeded to break off a really huge icicle that had formed there.

Here she is holding the icicle up -and as you can see, it is several inches higher than her -and she's almost 5 foot 8 inches! Pretty big old icicle, don't 'cha think?
I'm just glad this icicle was on the side of the house, hanging of the porch eave in a place where no one would be able to walk under it and have it land on anyone or anything!
Hey -we do grow 'em big here in the good old Keystone State, don't we?

This week marked the beginning of Lent on Wednesday and though we couldn't make it to the services at church Wednesday -Mandy works Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. -we were able to get out and attend the annual Shrove Tuesday supper of Pancakes and Sausage that the men of our church sponsor every year. A nice dinner, for sure and one that usually both the kids will eat heartily too of the pancakes the men cook up.

After the dinner, as we were getting ready to leave, we walked down to the sanctuary where my neighbors -and good friends, Kate and Shirley, were busy stripping the altar and replacing the normally colorful altar cloth with the black one, indicating the start of Lent and a very pensive and reflective time of the Church's life as well as our own.

Pastor Carrie was there too and as she usually does with Maya and Kurtis, she was paying a lot of attention to both of them. She and Maya took the black cloth used to wrap the base of the cross in the front of the sanctuary and draped it there -where it will remain until the Easter Season begins.

Here's Maya and Pastor Carrie, seated at the foot of the Cross.
It's always a very good day when we're able to participate in any of the activities of the church. And especially too, that we have Pastor Carrie here to lead and to teach all of us about Faith, Hope, Love and hopefully, having Christian Charity within us towards all we meet.

Earlier in the evening -as we sat eating our pancakes and sausage, Maya had begun asking us some questions -about Pastor Carrie. "What is she?" she wanted to know. Well, what do you mean by that question was Mandy's initial response. It took a little doing to help Maya explain what it was she wanted to know but it all had to do with the title of "Pastor." Finally after several explanations were offered to her, she sat back and said "Oh, she teaches about Jesus."

Yes, baby, that she does! And now we know that Maya "gets" that about Pastor Carrie and her role to us, for us, within the church. And that aspect, that she is grasping that concept, makes for some very good days for us.

And so, as we move through this period known in the Church Year as Lent, let us all think about the many, many things we have in our lives that are good -family, friends, good neighbors, a home, food -and how fortunate we are to have them too. Let us remember too all those who are not so fortunate -who have no roof over their heads, no food or not enough food for their tables, no warmth or love in their lives -and let us try to find ways to bring those things to them regardless of their so-called status in life, their race, religion, ethnicity, location -you name it!

Make it, to the best of our ability, a beautiful day for them too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fundamentals: Reading!

I know by now you all are probably tired, even really bored,with my constant rambling here about my hobby -embroidering. I'm pretty sure I have also mentioned from time to time that I do like to read and that I have a stack of books -probably 15-18 books as a matter of fact -sitting on the bookshelf in my room, unread!

For me, in the past, any book that entered this house was devoured, usually within a week by me or by Mandy at times too. Yeah, we both do love to read. And we both used to read a lot. She still does a good bit of reading but me, not so much.

Just can't seem to make the time to do that, what with the blog, my blog reader, the kids, cooking supper and yes, of course, the never-ending stream of embroidery projects I have waiting in the wings to tackle just as soon as I finish whatever happens to be my current one. (There are a few other things waiting for me to get around to them too and they're not getting done either!)

But anyway, Mandy showed me today that Amazon books offers some darned good prices on best-seller books and such and also, that we can purchase a copy of the newest book -due out on March 2nd -by Jodi Picoult!

Jodi Picoult just happens to be the author that Mandy and I both LOVE! We've purchased every single book she's written and had published thus far. Our own little private collection ya know of books by Jodi Picoult which we then loan out to various friends around here who we've also introduced to her works and who enjoy reading her books almost as much as Mandy and I do!

Now I know I don't NEED another book to add to my collection of books to be read but the thing is, with Jodi Picoult, it will grab my attention enough as soon as it is brought into the house -provided I get it away from Mandy before she starts into reading it, and for the length of time it will take me to read this new piece of literature, it will pull me away from my crafting stuff, completely!

I know too as some of you, my readers, have said in your blogs that you have a strong aversion to her work but from the first book of hers that Mandy and I bought and read, we have never had any reaction the least bit like that to her stuff.

So, for now, we're both anticipating March 2nd with a whole lot of excitement and yes, you can bet money we'll be getting a copy of that book as soon as possible too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bend in the Road

I was a bit lax in my blog reading over Sunday and Monday this week. As a result, when I got around to trying to clear out my reader yesterday morning, I came across a post done on Monday that really threw me for a heck of a loop.

There -Jeff Bach of A Word in Edgewise had posted something that really made me very, very sad to read.

For the second time since I began blogging about 3 1/2 years ago now, the unthinkable has happened.

Another of my favorite bloggers has has reached that bend in the road of life that takes each of us out of here, eventually, someday -just hopefully not soon.

About two years ago, I got an e-mail from the sister of one of my then favorite bloggers -Bob Johnson -a gentleman from Alberta, Canada who wrote some of the absolute best -and funniest -stuff ever. What's more, I had come to "know" Bob via his blog and through many e-mails we exchanged away from the blog scene too.

And that day when I received an e-mail from his sister telling me he had collapsed and died the day before of a massive heart attack, I sat here at my computer and the tears poured forth.

It felt as if I had lost my best friend and yet, I'd never met the man in person, never spoken to him on the phone -just communicated, compared notes on silly things, serious things, and yes, sad things too. But this had an affect on me I really had never considered. After all, people would tell me, you really never knew him so how could this affect you in such a way as this?

Well I would argue, I did KNOW him! His voice came to me by his words, his passing on of information he had gathered about blogging, about writing, about raising kids too and oh, so many things.

And yes, I will gladly say here that I loved him just as I loved various friends, neighbors, family members too I dare say that had all gone on before him. And I had lost a friend, and a darned good one, at that.

Now there I was yesterday reading Jeff's post in which I learned that the blog community had lost another of the those folks who become that same kind of friend -just as Bob Johnson had been to me before.

This time I guess I was slightly prepared for this as I knew the gentleman this time had been battling a lot of health issues -very serious, bad health concerns with his lungs, his heart -and yet, he had kept up as much as possible with postings to his blog whenever he was able.

This man was Dr. John Linna and his blog - Dr. John's Fortress -was a blog I had come upon sometime or other in the past year and had added him immediately then to my reader as I saw in his posts, in his words, his voice, a fellow blogger who used so many ways to entice readers to his place and once there, you couldn't help but learn to love his wisdom as he would share his faith with us there.

Dr. John -as he was known here -had been, in his work life, an ordained Lutheran minister but don't let that fool you into thinking his posts were all just about the church, ministry, faith, God and all those things because they were -but they weren't that too!

No, instead he wrote in a way that showed a true Christian spirit -of course, that was his profession but he also wrote things that showed in a non-threatening way how he came to be the man he was up to the end of his life.

As a fellow Lutheran too -but not necessarily the best member of our parish here as I don't get there for every service, am not always able to be the strong member, working in every way possible to help our church stay alive and even grow -I came to look forward to his sermons each Sunday, even though on some days I had actually made it out of the house and to services here at our little church.

Frequently, on those occasions, I could see that his mind, as he had worked his sermon from what ever was the recommended Bible chapter/verse for that particular day, along the same lines as had our minister -Pastor Carrie -had done here too. And the way he presented the "story" of the day, was always done in such a manner that it made it very easy to understand what Christ was trying to teach us with His Words too then.

Dr. John often wrote a continuing saga too about a little town called Pigeon Falls -an interesting place that existed in his mind and through that serial, he continued to teach various other things too.

He ranted from time to time about the quirky things life brings to all of us -railing against politics, even occasionally at politicians from time to time but in a more gentle chiding manner -not really raising the roof the way some of the rest of us might be inclined to do.

He wrote those nifty little things that came under the heading of "Flash Fisction" ( A bit of prose in which you present a story in 55 words.) And some of these stories he wrote were really terrific! Short, sweet -to the point, for sure! I admire anyone who can drive a point home in that amount of words. It's certainly something I doubt I'll ever be able to do though.

But anyway, Dr. John died Monday morning, enroute to the emergency room.

His widow, Betty, with whom he had shared his life for many, many years is now, in her own words, "Numb."

And that I definitely do understand.

She too has a blog -right here - and if you ever read Dr. John's posts, or if you just glanced across his blog here today and enjoyed what you read, or if you'd just like to perhaps pass along a word of faith and love to her that might just help her through this very difficult period of her life, please stop by and tell her that.

And to Dr. John -this is just a bend in the road where you are traveling now, before us -to perhaps help prepare the way too just as a man from Galilee did 2000 years ago but in a much more specific way.

Your words, your counsel, your friendly admonishments at times too -will stay with me as will the friendship I truly felt with you from having found you in this family of so many wonderful friends via blogging!

God be with us all until we meet again -and yes, I do firmly believe that will happen someday.

Your presence though here was felt by many and your words greatly missed by all.

Peace.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chills, Thrills and Spills!

Let me tell you this -if scary things, exciting things, heartbreaking things are high in keeping one on edge, and by doing that, away from foods too, then much of what I experienced today should qualify as at least some of the top 10 fat burners and as such, should have burned off lots and lots of calories for me!

First off, there was the episode this afternoon when I took Sammy out for our walk. Now the walk alone is a good fat burner, for sure but when we got oh, about a quarter of a mile from the house, we encountered our neighbor and his granddaughter out walking their new dog. Hmm. Right there, the adrenaline began to kick in for Sammy and also for me!

I'm thinking uh oh, another dog on a leash and how are these two going to react to each other.

Well, they did their thing with the sniffing every inch of the others body, of course and then, there was the obligatory little growls too but very shortly the way they were hopping around, jumping at each other, Joe (my neighbor) and I decided it looked like they would not get into a fight and could be considered to be friends.

It was just about that time though that Sammy -who may be small in stature but has a whole lot of strength in him -made a little lunge at the other dog -in playfulness -and in doing that, don't you just know he snapped the lead on his leash then too!

Wonderful! NOT!

It took me a little scampering around in the middle of the road to grab him and pick him up and then, I had to carry him back home to boot! The carrying of the dog should have counted for the extra caloric burn I would have had if we could have finished the entire walk, don't 'cha think?

So I got home and hurried up to call Mandy -who was over in Clearfield with Maya, attending a birthday party for one of Maya's classmates at the Fun Central there to tell Mandy to stop at Walmart before coming home and pick up a new leash for simple Sammy. She wasn't overly excited about doing that till I reminded her without a leash, there will be no walking him and with no walking him, no exercise for me plus there would be the added attraction of cleaning up unwanted doggie messes in the house then too.

I think the latter part of that paragraph is what got her attention and she came home with a new leash for Sir Muttley.

Then, this evening I was working on the tabletopper -of course -and watching the weekend version of Inside Edition and lo and behold, what did I see but a bit about the World's Wackiest Weatherman! Anyone seen this guy? Well, it's Jim Kocek, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, which is the place where I worked for seven years back in the 90s! He's on YouTube and yes, he is crazy as a loon with some of the antics he goes into while giving the weather forecasts! It was -for me -a bit of a thrill to see someone I know, that I had worked with -on national tv, ya know!

The rest of the night I spent embroidering -yes, indeed -and also watching the Olympics from Vancouver, BC.

I really enjoy the Winter Olympics -a lot! I like the Summer Olympics well enough -true, but I do enjoy the Winter Games a bit more.

Though it was heartbreaking to realize that one of the Olympians had lost his life yesterday in the luge accident, the competitions I was really most interested in tonight had their fair share of excitement -lots and lots of thrills as well as spills too.

I like the Speed Skating Competitions and tonight, watching Apolo Ohno compete, you have to know I was pulling for him to win. And for a while it didn't look like it was going to end up with him getting a medal until the two Korean skaters -who had been in, I believe, 2nd and 3rd places, wiped out at the very end of the race! Wow! Talk about excitement there was a lot going on there and I was really fired up then too. Then I thought about how heartbreaking that also had to be for the two skaters who had been in front of Ohno and J.R. Celski and how they had victory right in front of them and then, just like that, had it snatched from the too. Don't get me wrong -I'm glad Ohno and Celski came in 2nd and 3rd and that gives the U.S. a silver and a bronze medal but I just have a soft spot I guess for a hard-fought race to the very end -and that's what that was, wasn't it?

The Moguls Ski Competition is one of my favorites of the Winter Olympics too. And I will confess that a big part of me was rooting for the Canadian Skier, Jen Heil, to bring home a gold medal and have the added honor then of being the very first Canadian to get a gold medal on Canadian soil.

If you saw her race, you have to admit she is good -damned good. That's for sure!

But if you saw the races, you also have to concede to the excitement that the US Women's Skiers brought to this event too!

No doubt about it but Hannah Kearney sure did put on explosive show in her run and showed everyone what a great skier she really is. That she took home a Gold and Shannon Bahrke of the US team won Bronze with Ms. Heil in the middle, with a Silver, speaks legions about the abilities of all three of these young women!

Incredible skills demonstrated, really, by all the competitors in this race. I watched with my heart in my throat, as each one came down over the course -doing the jumps, weaving in and out with such precision and yes, I confess that I cried too over the competitors who lost their footing, their balance and chance for this year's Olympics to bring home a medal for their own country too.

It was definitely an exciting night for me and one I'm not likely to forget either -not for a long while. I'm proud as punch of the competitors who represented our country and won, as well as those whose luck didn't hold out this time. And, I'm also equally proud of all the athletes I watched perform tonight regardless of what country they are from.

Great games! Terrific games!

Oh -and before I forget -yes, I finished the tabletopper too! All that excitement had my fingers and needle moving faster than ever it seemed.
Maybe watching the Olympics gives me that competitive surge I need to get some more of my embroidery projects completed quickly too! One can only hope!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sneak Preview

Last night, I finished the "Cherries" tabletopper. I was happy that I got it done as quickly as I had -less than a week's time -and even at that, I had two days during that time when I had barely touched the project. So, that was a good time record for me, for sure.

However, because I have a kazillion of these embroidery projects here waiting for me to pick 'em up and get working on the next one in line, I was trying to decide which one to work on next.

So I picked four out of the pile and showed them to Mandy to see which she thought she'd like to see done next. She looked them over and selected one that I really, really like -a lot -and said she'd be very interested in seeing that one completed as well as being the recipient of said project down the road too.

Well, upon hearing that, you're probably thinking that's the piece I'm working on, but it's not.

Instead, I decided since she wants the other one, I'll work on it at a later date and put it back (when it's completed) for her for Christmas. (Always nice to know in advance which of these things my girls really like so then I know who to give what piece to later one, ya see.)

This is a preview of the tabletopper I am working on now. I have one corner completed and it's working up quite nicely, as well as very quickly too.
One thing for sure, as long as I am this occupied with making these items, it does keep me away from reading a bunch of fat burner reviews, doesn't it?

The reason this project is zipping right along though is -as I discovered when I opened the package last night -because there is very little that gets embroidered on it!

Obviously, the striped binding is already done on the project and so is the applique portion too. So the only work left are the few yellow and orange flowers below the applique and the green stems!

Yep, I can make short order of this puppy and then, move on to another one.

I almost wish all of these kits would work up that quickly so then, I could move on to the larger tablecloth projects I have sitting here, waiting for me to get ready to work on them then!

Soon enough, soon enough!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another One Done!

Woo Hoo! I'm on a roll, ya know!

So far this year, I've now completed four projects from my embroidery project stash container and for me, that's really an impressive record.

I did the Counted Cross Stitch Christmas Sample, a pillow case featuring Winnie The Pooh for my grandson, Kurtis and a pretty little tabletopper with a blue and yellow floral spray in each corner and that piece also is trimmed with a very lovely yellow lacey-type, crocheted edging. (No, I didn't do the edging as I'm not that adept at fine crochet -probably never will be either, for that matter.)

And tonight, I finished up the fourth item -another tabletopper. The name of this piece is called simply Cherries and it is a very simple design too. Just four blocks on the cloth with a three cherries on a stem.

See what I mean here:
The dimensions of this piece are 33 inches, square and I finished it in six days but I have to confess there were two days in which so many other things were backing up on me that I did only minimal work on it on those two days.

I've decided to store these projects too in the heavy plastic bag the kit came in. It protects them from dust and what not accumulating and also, keeps them neat and pressed looking.

And one thing I'm always on the lookout for is the best wrinkle treatment cause I sure do hate to iron! Shucks, I don't know for sure where the iron is and apparently Mandy figured if she pitched the ironing board, that would eliminate the need for ever ironing stuff again cause that's what she did! Just threw the darned thing out.

But I'm gonna have to look for a new, smaller, lighter weight one that I can store easily too cause I really do need an ironing board if/when I ever get into sewing stuff again as well as making sure these embroidered items get the work to show up better from being neatly pressed too. (And yes, I know the incongruity between what I wrote and where I just sent you too -just something off the wall to wake you up, ya know!)

So now, I'm gonna start a new project -of course. While I'm on a roll and the fingers are cooperating with me I may as well keep working on whittling that stash pile down a bit.

Agreed?

Weighing In

Weighing in. Yeah, there's a concept I'm not particularly keen on.

Back in December, I had an appointment with my family doctor -she had requested I come in to discuss some "issues" that appeared after I'd had some tests done in late November.

Those tests, she said, revealed several things -all of which pointed in one direction for me.

DIET!

Well, actually, our conversation didn't point in just one direction. It also touched on another aspect needed in my life -another dirty word, ya know -this one a bit longer -EXERCISE!

Her main thrust was that I need to take off a few pounds, watch my intake of cholesterol and sugar content and yes, some form of exercise would also be a way to facilitate this whole process.

So, since mid-December, I have been watching my food intake -well, somewhat. I have cut way back on the sweets -and as proof of that, I did something really drastic -for me, anyway. I did absolutely NO BAKING for the Christmas holidays. Normally, I would have baked several different kinds of cookies and several dozen of each type too along with breads as well.

This year -I did none of that. However, don't you just know it but some well-meaning folks kind of bombarded us with gifts of candy. I won't say I didn't indulge in a few bites of those treats but not near to the extent I would have done in prior years.

I'm always checking out other things too pertaining to weight loss though -you know, trying to find what most would say is the "easy" way to weight loss.

But, because I have other issues that I have to consider, some of these other weight loss methods I don't dare to experiment with. I had heard a lot a while back about alli as a weight loss tool but after reading alli reviews, I realized there is no way I can even think of trying this product.

So, I eliminated that so-called shortcut to losing weight.

I'm not that good about the exercise component to weight loss -problems with my back, with my legs too -but I have been trying to take nice brisk walks whenever I can -whenever my back and legs as well as the weather are all cooperating with my needs in that department.

I am trying to follow through with what my Doctor told me to do.

I've just not become a total fanatic about it. At least not yet anyway.

Bonfire in the Kitchen!

February 11th is a big day for my family and for me. It marks another year, another candle on the cake, for my younger daughter -who most of you are a bit familiar with by now through my blog.

Today was no different than other years -no big celebration, just a little family get-together. Mandy had talked to her brother's girlfriend earlier in the afternoon and invited Betty and Clate to come down for supper. So Betty had called to confirm that yes, they would be here. She asked what I was fixing and I told her Mandy had requested Chicken Parmesan. (I usually do try to fix whatever each child really likes or wants for dinner when we do the birthday celebration get-together.)

Then Betty really threw me for a loop when she asked what kind of cake we were having.

Cake? Cake?!!! Oh S**t! I've been so engrossed in other things here that I forgot all about asking Mandy about what kind of cake she wanted and by that time, Thursday afternoon, I probably could have thrown a box mix together but doubtful that it would be cool enough to ice it for serving after supper.

So Betty said she would run in town and pick up a cake and also, since she had like seven (yes 7) half-gallons of ice cream in her freezer from her daughter's birthday party this past Sunday, she would also bring ice cream down for the occasion.

When she and Clate arrived for supper and carried that cake into the house, it definitely caught Kurt's eye and he wanted to see the cake. Then we told him it was for Mommy because it was her birthday today and that started him jabbering and saying over and over, Happy Birthday -except when he says it, it comes out sounding like Happy Bur-day.

During supper, he got refocused on the prospect of birthday cake and since he does know the Birthday song, he also began singing it will eating his supper. Too cute as he went through all the lines -even stayed fairly well on key through most of it too -and at the end, he sang "Happy Bur-day Kurtis!"

Now, I have to apologize here because I uploaded the videos from my little camera to You-tube and even though my good blogger buddy, Dr. Sardonicus, had sent me instructions of how to embed a You-tube video into my blog, and I had saved that e-mail too, when I finally was able to open the spot where I had saved the e-mail, I found it was gone -no longer there. So as a result, you'll have to click the links below here to see the videos of Mandy's big birthday celebration.

If you can see all the candles on the cake -don't bother to count 'em or better yet, pay not attention to the numbers in the middle of the cake. There are -I think -34 of the little blue candles (that it took my son, Betty and I forever to get that many lit) but when Betty went to get number candles, the store had a 3 and they had a 5 too but no number 4, so Betty got the 3 and the 5 candles and now, we can save them and use them next year when Mandy really will turn 35 then!

The first video here shows the "bonfire" from all those candles burning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYcpKJga1oY

And this is after the candles were blown out and is mainly Maya and Kurtis both dancing around the island in the kitchen and so excited over the cake, candles and the prospect of a good sweet treat with ice cream that they could barely contain themselves. But you'll also see my son Clate -leaning against the kitchen cupboards and that's his girlfriend, Betty -over by the counter towards Maya and her dancing routine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUfBw1mrao0

Mandy got her birthday present this past Saturday when her older sister, Carrie, and her fiance were up for supper. Carrie, Clate and I went together this year and gave her a really spiffy little Kodak M340 digital camera. Mandy loves to play with my camera and is always using it to take pictures of the kids or the cats and the dog -whatever catches her fancy. And since she is going to be taking a little break and getting a five-day vacation -along with her boss, Deb -in Phoenix -I figured the camera would be an ideal present for her! (The main reason Mandy is going to Phoenix is because her Dad and stepmother live about 3-4 hours north of Phoenix in Laughlin, Nevada -in an RV -and they are going to drive down to Phoenix -in their home -and spend the days then there with Mandy.

Needless to say, she's really excited about the upcoming trip but also a bit frightened too because of leaving the kids here. Maya will be staying with Mandy's girlfriend, Jen-Jen, and her husband and kids while Kurtis will be here with me. Should be interesting to say the least!

After the weather -and all the freaking snow we've had here this past week -I really do wish I were able to go with her too!

But, maybe it's a good thing I can't afford a trip like that. After all, what kind of break or vacation would it be for her to go visit her Dad and have her Mom tagging along and the risk is always there that my presence would totally antagonize her Dad and ruin her visit with him.

And that's the last thing I would ever want to do to her.

So, to my baby girl -the one who really is the "baby" of the family since she is the end of the line -who would ever have thought that the tiny baby who scared the living daylights out of her Dad as we were enroute to the hospital because he was terrified that she was going to be born in the car; that little one who weighed in at a mere five pounds 13 ounces and measured only 18 1/2 inches long, would grow up to be the tall, slim, energetic, slightly crazy sometimes, often harried, mother extraordinaire that she is today to Maya and Kurt -and wife to Bill.

And who would ever have thought too, watching her grow up, that someday she would be the one I rely on for virtually everything, who keeps track of my doctor appointments for me, who also now has even been thinking like me too because lots of times when the kids do or say something, we both answer at the same time and say either exactly the same thing or something very close to that.

Now that part of our relationship -well, suffice it to say, it's a bit do-do-doish to me and probably is really down right scary to her to hear her Mom's words coming out of her mouth!

Now, if I could just get her interested in crafts -embroidery, knitting, crochet. I wouldn't worry at all about what will happen when I'm gone to all these kits I have here, all the fabric and yarn too that I have in my own little stash pile!

Hopefully, I have enough time for that aspect to wear off on her too!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Song

Tonight, one could sing that old song "Oh, the weather outside is frightful" and it most certainly would be the absolute truth. Especially on the east coast and yes, even here in central Pennsylvania!

Yeah, we got hit with a heavy snowfall over the weekend here -nothing like they got blessed with down in D.C., or Philly, Baltimore or "The Big Apple" but we got a more than ample supply of the white stuff.

Tuesday afternoon, the snow began to fall here around 2 p.m. I was talking on the phone with my bestest friend from the days when I worked in D.C. back in the 60s and early 70s. OMG! Yes, that long ago yet she and I are still darned good friends.

A little heads up here too -if ever I say in a post that I had spent around 2-3 hours on the phone sometime in the future (on one phone call), you can probably make book on it having been with my old friend, Joan.

We talked about virtually everything from soup to nuts, politics, family issues, rehashing old funny stories about our days working together at the NRA and of course, at our ages now, medical issues and arthritis-related problems. We had lots of giggles about some of the fun things that happened at work, or to us and other friends at work back then. As Joan said, "That was back in the day before management got serious." How true!

But anyway, that's not what I'm really writing about tonight, is it? But then, why am I asking you, my readers, that question anyway? How would you know what it is I'm writing about when -if you follow my blog at all -you know I tend to ramble about a little bit of everything.

Tonight though, the weather is really a big factor in this post.

That snowfall that started Tuesday afternoon continued throughout the night and all day today too. I have no clue as to how much more snow we got here on top of what we already had but I do know this much -it's deep!

I did have a little fun Wednesday evening though with Maya about the snow. Katie -the 18-year-old -had sort of disappeared for a bit and I asked Maya where Kate had gone. Maya said "She's outside." What on earth was the girl doing outside at almost 9 p.m. anyway. Turns out she was feeling generous -or ambitious maybe -and had gone out to try to clear the sidewalk a bit for Mandy -and her Dad -when they finally got home from work about 10 p.m.

But anyway, seems that while Kate was out clearing the walk Maya had gone out on the stoop on the front of the house and was all excited when she came back in, telling me she'd been outside and that she had even eaten some snow.

My response to that was that I hoped she hadn't eaten any yellow snow. Kate understood my meaning but -and it's probably for the best -the comment didn't even register with Maya. If it had, I most likely would have had to spend the next hour or more answering a whole bit long stream of "Why" questions from Maya.

Back to my actual theme tonight though -the weather indeed was frightful, especially all day Wednesday. School in our district was canceled for the day but that call to let us know that it was canceled didn't come through until 5:30 a.m. -which didn't really endear the school district much to Mandy as it woke her up well before she normally would have had to wake up in order to get Maya ready for school for the day. Considering all the other school districts in the area had posted by 11 p.m. Tuesday night that they were closing today, Mandy thought it would have been extremely nice if our district had made the decision then and those calls could have gone out then so people wouldn't have had to even set their alarm clock to wake up early in the morning. (Well, some folks wouldn't have needed to set their alarm to get up that early anyway!)

Around about 11 a.m. though, there was a news brief on the tv about an accident that had happened a little earlier on Interstate 80 -which runs through this area -about 4 miles from where I live -and that this was a multi-vehicle pile-up involving many tractor trailers and passenger vehicles.

They gave the location of the accident as being at the 118 mile post on the eastbound side of the interstate and knowing that area of I-80 -as most of us in this region do -I knew the highway there is on the "downhill" side, about a mile west of the Clearfield exchange at the 119 mile post. It's big, long hill -steep and has some curving to it too. Even in good weather, it can be a little tricky if your foot gets a tad heavy on the gas pedal as you take the curves there.

But with weather conditions being what they were here at the time -nasty, very nasty -I knew that section of the highway would have been downright treacherous, to say the least.

I made sure that at noon I tuned into one of the local tv stations for their noon news broadcast and that's when I learned that this accident had involved a whole lot of vehicles, for sure. Fifty, to be exact! Subsequent reports then stated that there were 30 tractor trailers and 20 passenger cars involved and one fatality.

The broadcasts at 5 and 6 p.m. had the station's reporter interviewing a gentleman from our county's emergency response team and he said that clearing the road, rescuing the injured, etc., was made extremely difficult because of the sheer numbers of vehicles plus the fact that many vehicles were lodged under the trucks or trailers too -plus the location being on the side of the hill, a nasty drop off there also made it even more hazardous and time-consuming for the rescue personnel.

It was believed that the accident began when two trucks both began to jackknife and vehicles behind them couldn't stop due to the snow, ice, slush -whatever you care to call the mess that was on the roadway at that time.

I know the big trucks tend to keep their speed fairly steady, and to many of us driving along in our little four-wheelers, it often seems -as they whiz past us, that they are totally unaware of the lousy road conditions as they splash up great big gobs of snow, slush or even just water on our windshields and often give us a white-out situation too at times then. They do that why -well, because they can. At times, I don't know what's worse on bad roads -to be around a faster moving big truck and risk getting blown off the highway or getting behind a slow-moving truck pulling up a snow-covered road going uphill! Either way presents its own particular set of problems, for sure.

But -and this is just my theory here -as often happens though on snow-covered roads, trucks don't always drop their speeds as much as they should and that same thing also applies to many folks driving along in their cars or pickup trucks or vans too! And a lot of people in the latter types of vehicles often forget a few things -like a big truck can't stop on a dime and also, if one of those trucks goes in a slide and begins to jackknife, there's very little the driver can do to get that rig completely back under control at times.

And if that big truck can't stop, what makes people in the cars, pickups and vans think that THEY can stop on a dime on snowy, icy roads too!???

I'll be darned if I can figure out the answer to that question, can you?

If you're behind a truck and it goes sideways on you and if you're zipping right along then and suddenly that trailer is across the roadway directly in front of you and not moving in the same direction then as you are in your car, pickup or van, where do you think you're gonna land then anyway?

Odds are you have a darned good likelihood of ending up wedged in under the trailer or the cab of that big truck and what do you think your odds are then of coming out of a potential situation like that unscathed anyway? Probably slim to none, don't you think?

I'm not writing this as a condemnation of truckers although I don't think it would hurt them that much to slow down a trifle under conditions such as were present yesterday but I definitely do think other drivers -those who are just motoring along in their nice passenger vehicles -should be the ones to take heed first and slow down -not just a little, but a whole lot!

Oh, and also, according to the news at 11 p.m. tonight, this pile-up was actually two accidents -one at the 118 mile marker which started things off and the second part was at the 116 mile marker when vehicles -apparently trucks and cars alike -came along, didn't slow down fast enough and plowed into vehicles already stopped because of the initial accident. And it was in that part of the accident that the driver -a gentleman from Illinois -was killed.

A few years back -may have been only two years ago -may have been longer than that -there was another terrible multi-vehicle accident on the interstate in the next county to the east of us. I don't recall the exact number of vehicles involved in that one -just that it was a very high number -but six people died in that one. Of course, that happened because of white-out conditions but the roadway at the time was in similar shape as the highway was yesterday -not dry, not yet just wet, but snow covered. And in that particular accident, several vehicles also caught on fire too which made it even more difficult to rescue people then.

I know from my own experience just two weeks ago when I went into a big slip-slide, whiz around and doing a donut before I really realized what was happening to me in my little jeep, on the back roads here that were snow-covered how it puts your heart in your mouth even after you get stopped and see you're now headed in the opposite direction that you had been traveling. Yeah, it's scary even then when you are "booking it" -traveling a bit faster ya know.

Sure we can all take the attitude that we have to get where we're going and get there as fast as possible without breaking the speed limit and if we do wipe out, well too bad, so sad and yeah, s**t happens. Sure it does at times but is there any reason why any of us should try to entice it to come along and drop a lovely package of crap on us?

So, if we do have to go out, drive on snow-covered or icy roads or in white-out conditions where we could run into no visibility or even a big pile of snow that has drifted across the plowed highway, why not drop the speed a bit, leave a lot earlier than normal to give ourselves extra time so we don't have to drive to fast for the prevailing road conditions.

Or better yet -if you don't HAVE to be out, don't absolutely HAVE to be at work or don't HAVE to run to the store for whatever item it is you can't live without -why not just stay home, stay off the road till the weather -and the road conditions are considerably better to deal with then?

Just a thought, ya know.

And if you do have to go out and travel when the weather is downright frightful and the roads are treacherous, then please do it with more regard for the other drivers as well as for your own safety too!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Rude Behavior

This is a story about something that happened to me last week.


If I'd been seated where I normally sit, doing what I
normally do, it never would have happened. (And if I
hadn't decided to do this post and include this photo in
here, I might not have realized something else too. Oh.
My. God. I DO look like my Grandma!

But as it happens, I wasn't seated in my favorite recliner, doing my favorite thing -embroidering. No, instead, I was sitting in my computer chair at the desk, reading blogs or my Facebook or writing something.

In deep thought, I was startled by a loud scraping sound, a thump and bump to the back of my computer desk chair and really, it's a good thing too that I wasn't half-napping in front of the computer or the whiplash could have caused me then to hit my head on the monitor and who knows how much damage that might have done!

What the hell was that! That's what my first thought was as I got shoved and bounced around a bit in my seat.

It started with this little fellow -Fluffer-Nutter, AKA Fluff-Nuts -and his playmate, the effervescent, always ready to run, chase, rough house and create havoc, dog -Sam. Yes Sam -the cute little fellow who accompanies me on my walks towards a better weight.

And here he is -the culprit. Gee, he looks so cute and sweet -very innocent in appearance here, doesn't he? But don't let those things deceive you because he was a big part of the noise and furniture getting moved and shoved and banged around -with me sitting in it!


It was like this -I was busy at the computer -my second most normal place and activity here these days. And these two little beasties decided it was time for them to romp and roll. Up and down the stairs -sounding more like a herd of elephants as they ripped and tore around upstairs, then to the steps and chasing each other into the living room.

Once in here, they were either playing tag or simply having a race to see which one could get from the sofa in front of the bay window over to the brown recliner and back to the sofa again. Occasionally they made a quick pit stop by taking a hop, skip and a jump on to the loveseat and right off again and on to the next piece of furniture that was serving as their "base."

It was during one of those frenzied chases that one or perhaps both of them landed simultaneously in the brown recliner. The chair that sits with its back to the back of the computer desk chair. And upon doing that -landing in the recliner -they hit with such force that it pushed the chair back down into the reclining position and furthermore, it moved it the two foot or so across the floor and right smack dab into the back of my computer desk chair -with me in that one, no less.

Now that's really a pretty good display of strength right there that they could move that big recliner and that when it hit into my chair, it even moved me and my chair then too!

Later that day, when I was back in my "normal" chair -the blue recliner -these two little furballs apparently decided to relieve their racing and chasing from earlier in the day only this time, I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of them posturing towards each other for their next set of running games!

These pictures of Fluff-Nuts and Sammy are dedicated to one of my blogger buddies and a big, big cat lover, down in Georgia -FERMICAT!













Okay -now that they've had their fun, running and jumping, racing and chasing, they found the bottom of the blanket I had thrown over my legs and decided it was then time to settle down and maybe take a little nap.

And here's Chino -who watched the whole picture taking event from one of her vantage points atop some piece of furniture in the room. Just one look at her face and doesn't it give you the idea she's just been watching and thinking "What a royal pair of idiots those two are!

Children, Dogs and Cats!

I have been quite lax for a goodly period of time now in posting updates and photos of those three above mentioned entities, haven't I?

You'll really be surprised to see Maya now. What with her current "new" hairdo, ya know.

Here she is -hamming it up as usual when she sees a camera in my hand or her Mom's and all decked out in her "pretty in pink" princess play outfit. Seems she has a nose for finding the scissors as this is the third time now in the past so many months that she's managed to sniff them out and sneak off to snip away at those pesky bangs of hers! Yeah, clipped clear back to the top of her forehead the bangs are now. And Mommy -not very happy over the newest Maya look either!

Here's Kurt with the latest hair style for little boys. Gosh, I hope not! This was something that was his mother's doing one night a week or two ago, after he'd had his evening bath and she was just messing around, combing out his curls. I think he may have had her thinking he wanted ponytails in his hair because she'd done this with Maya's -only she just had two ponytails, not three, as Mandy fixed for him.




This picture shows Maya in the new (to her) snowsuit that was given to her after a little girl in our church (whose mother has impeccable taste in little girls' clothes) had recently outgrown this outfit! It's about two inches too long for Maya this year but I'd be willing to bet money that next year it will fit her perfectly. And then, since she'd be all prepared to go out and play in virtually any amount of snow, we'll probably have a "snow-less" winter then, won't we?

The day Maya insisted that she and Kurtis play "Dress-up" with the myriad of pretend outfits she had given to her, she also decided he would look his absolute best to dress as a little angel. Here he is, descending the stairs and yes, he does look pretty angelic too, don't 'cha think? Well, until you glance up the steps and see all those markings on the wall -all lovingly drawn by this little angel here and his big, bad sister!

Some well-meaning gift-giver was ever so kind as to resupply the kids with lots and lots of that substance -PlayDough -as a neat Christmas gift. Well, the "neatness" part sort of generally escapes their minds when they play with that stuff and the dining room table gets pretty well plastered down with it then too. Guess you know my sentiments now about that stuff don't you? I need about the same amount of concentration as Kurt's showing here in smooshing the stuff on the table when I try to scrape it up and off!

One thing Maya does VERY well is try to boss her little brother around! She thinks this is her job, her given right, as it were. And Kurtis? Well, I think you can tell by the look on his face that he's not all that impressed by her instructions, is he? About 10 seconds after she starts bossing him, he lets the whole neighborhood know he's not in the least pleased with that tactic. The screaming is just around the bend -about 5 seconds after the flash of the camera as a matter of fact.

After the screaming -comes this look from Maya! Why oh why won't he just listen to me!

Notice too, this picture was taken before the debacle of the latest hair-restyling episode. Wonder how long it will take now for the bangs to grow back in?

You've heard me talk about the animals in the house from time to time -the four-legged ones that is. Here's Mama Cat, Nina -the one who has produced two litters of kittens -for a grand total of 10 kittens -in the past year. She pretty much ignores the other two cats in the house -Chino -the friendly, lovable gray cat and Fluffer-Nutter, who is Nina's son from the last litter.

This then is Chino -who, when she isn't in her regal pose like this, is either sitting on Mandy's lap, purring away, wanting Mandy to just scratch the top and back of her neck or simply stroke her fur coat for her or else, she's snuck outside and when she wants back in, she climbs up on the roof of the backstoop behind the bathroom window and then, throws herself against the screen in the window as a signal to whoever happens to be in that room then that they are to open the window, raise the screen and she will then come in! Used to be she would just climb up the backdoor to the kitchen and hang on the screen there to announce her request for entrance but this new method seems to be her favorite deal now.

Now this is the "baby" of the cats -Fluffer-Nutter -which is what Mandy named him. Why that? I really don't know. But that's often too long a name for me to remember somedays so I often shorten it and call him "Fluff-Nuts!" Which really is much more apropos a name for him in my opinion. He's a little sweetheart though -most of the time.

And here's Sammy -the newest member of the family -as he tries to entice Maya into playing with him.
We've had Sam since early November now but it took him till probably mid-to-late December before one of the cats -Fluff-Nuts -decided he was a trustworthy friend and now, he and the "kitten" can frequently be found racing and chasing each other all around the house until they finally run out of steam and then, this is how they generally end up, curled up together, on a throw under my computer desk!

Who says dogs and cats can't be friends -and darned good ones at that?

They curl up beside each other or the cat will have his head resting on the dog's chest or Sam lovingly places a paw lightly on Fluff-Nuts body -just to let the other know that "Hey, I'm here for you, my Friend!"

Sometimes, Maya and Kurtis actually comfort each other a bit in that manner too and maybe one of these days, we'll even get a picture of them being nice to each other!

It could happen!