Saturday, April 30, 2011

Expanded Walks?

I started this so-called exercise program of walking our dog, Sammy, a year ago this past December mainly because of two things. One, the dog needs to go out to do his business and has be on a leash and walked to do that and two, because my doctor told me I needed to get off my butt and do some exercise in order to tone up muscles, my heart rate, lower my blood pressure and yes, lose some weight!

And I've found that I do really enjoy doing this walking -a lot. Even when it does some days cause my ankles to ache, it's still something that has more benefits to me than it has downsides. Usually the aching part I've discovered has more to do with changes in the weather -humidity factors, as it were -that tend to affect my joints a lot more than the actual walking does.

But I have a confession to make too about my walking.

While I do walk around the village where I live and down to the wooded area of what used to be the now-ghost town of Peale or out along another back road to Cooper Two, where there used to be a big mining operation, most of these walks consist of walking on an area that is relatively flat. Oh, there are a couple places along the way where there is a little bit of a hill to climb, but for the most part, it's actually a pretty easy walk way.

However, there are a few other parts in the village that I avoid walking there -like the plague!

If I were to walk up the street to the four-way intersection in the middle of town and take a left turn there, I'm quite sure I'd be well out of breath in very short order and probably would wish I had some Leki Hiking Poles to use to kind of pull myself along a bit!

No, it's not craggy rocks and crevices along that particular route through town but it is a pretty steep hill to climb, that's for sure!

How our lives do change over the years though. I remember from grades 1 through 6, I walked that road every school day, up that hill, sometimes even running and skipping along too. Things that today, sixty years later, my legs and back along with my lungs, would definitely be in major pain if I even tried to climb that hill at a very slow pace!

Maybe someday, if I ever get the notion to think my system is up to the challenge, I could then walk up that big old hill and surprise the living daylights out of my son -who lives at the top of that hill -as I'd come into his kitchen and collapse -most likely -of a coronary!

I think I'll keep my walking along the routes I've been using and leave the climb up the mountain to a ride in my jeep!

Spiff It Up Maybe?

There's so many things around this old house that could stand improvement -way too numerous to talk about in just one post, I think. Of course, to do all the improvements we'd like to see done, either Mandy or I would certainly have to be really lucky and hit one of the Super Jackpots on the lottery, I'm sure.

We were discussing some of the features in the house earlier today and she mentioned about the old fireplace in the living room. I know this wasn't built as part of the house originally but was added on when the family expanded the downstairs -or redesigned the layout is probably a more accurate description. And I'm not sure what year they did that but it was sometime before the 1930s as near as I can ascertain from old photographs.

So the fireplace, although it's been here a long time, it's also something that has rarely been used too.

At some time after it was added to the house, one of my uncles discovered something about the way it was built that caused a lot of alarms to go off with my grandparents and the rest of the family. Seems the firebox to the fireplace is situated in such a manner that it rests on some of the house's main timbers! And the few times the fireplace had been used early on apparently the heat from those embers in the firebox charred those main timbers a bit.

So the fireplace in this place is pretty much just for show, definitely not for use!

I remember one time, about 1955 or 1956, when my Mom had to have new grates made for the coal furnace we had back then and of course, as luck would have it, while the new grates were being made, we got hit with a really nasty cold spell. This was in October of whichever year was involved and so, we had no heat at all in the house for a time. This kind of forced my Mom to take a chance and build a fire in the fireplace but she was one nervous nelly the whole time that fire was burning there.

It even set my Grandfather off on a tangent too.

At that time of his life, his mind was deteriorating as he had hardening of the arteries and his thought processes were far from what they used to be. So, when he realized there was a fire in the fireplace, he took off and went down the street to his brother's home where he announced to Uncle Erik and his daughters, Edith and Hedvig, that my Mom and Grandma were trying to burn the house down.

This kind of worried Uncle Erik initially cause you never knew exactly what stories Grandpa was telling and how much accuracy might be contained in them -if any. So to ease his mind, Uncle Erik made one of his daughters walk Grandpa back home and while here, figure out what was causing Grandpa to believe people were trying to burn the house down.

It did provide a little bit of laughter at the time but was also one of those humorous things that are tinged in sadness too as it makes a person see the wasting of the mind and how someone who once had been a very intelligent man was now a shell of his former mental self.

But anyway, Mandy was asking me about the mantlepiece over our fireplace -how old it is and such. I don't remember what year Mom and Grandma had this made as I can't think of any other events surrounding that to be able to tie in a date to it but I do remember my Mom mentioning when they brought it home that it was probably gonna be one of the most expensive decorative things in this old house then anyway.

At the time it was made, I doubt Mom and Grandma had a bunch of mantel designs to look at and choose from but I do know this one is made from solid oak and because I know I was in grade school when they got it, then it has to be probably around 55 years old, at least.

It's still as beautiful today though as it was back when they had it made but right now, it manages to serve as a bit of a "catch-all" for things that get put up there in a hurry to keep them handy to us but out of reach of little fingers that like to mess with things, ya know.

What it really needs now though is a nice table runner/dresser scarf item to put on top of it to keep it a little protected too. With all the embroidery projects I've done over the past two years, I've done very few things in that type of category so maybe, if ever I run out of tablecloths and tabletoppers or pillow cases to embroider, I can tackle some pretty item to dress up our beautiful mantle, can't I?

Pick a Pretty Posie!

Surprisingly enough, as I look over the so-called flower beds in front of the house, I see there are a couple of success stories on going there.

One is this -excuse the crappy picture please, as Sammy probably moved as I snapped it thus causing it to be a bit blurry -but the focal point of this picture is that I see two of the peony plants my neighbor down the street gave me last fall to transplant have taken hold and are now growing.
This one is on the right front flowerbed -as you look at the house. The tulip plant beside it has done nothing thus far this year.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the front flowerbeds, there's two tulips blooming around the other peony plant which appears to be coming up very nicely. The poor little hyacinth plant though -that pretty pink thing shown -is now looking really beaten down and very bedraggled thanks to the strong electrical storms we had here two nights in a row this week.

Getting those peony plants transplanted and seeing that they have taken root really makes me very happy. The neighbor who gave them to me thinned them from the bushes in the flower beds in front of her house remembered that those plants had been there when she and her husband purchased the house and that the house had belonged to my Grandfather's older brother. So she had called me and asked if I'd be interested in some of those peony plants since more than likely they had originally been planted by my Great-uncle Erik. I have so many memories of being around him and his family, of playing in that big old house and around the yard and barn at his homestead too with cousins when we were growing up, and being the sentimental slob that I tend to be much of the time, I was really happy that she thought of me and offered those plants to me then. It will really mean a lot to see them blossoming in the near future as it will provide a very tangible memory for me of Uncle Erik, his children and grandchildren and good times from many years long passed.

I didn't take any pictures as yet of my azalea bush out front, which usually blooms quite nicely, but I saw yesterday that my neighbor has one that they just transplanted and it blooming away. Just gorgeous! It's kind of tempting to keep from sneaking over there and snatching some of those pretty flowers to make up a bouquet, ya know. Sure would make nice flower gifts that could be really easy on the budget, huh? Of course, I doubt very seriously if my neighbor would be too happy with a plan like that.

Mandy got a couple packets of seeds -pansies and one with assorted flowers. The pansies need to be started inside first so guess we'd best get one or two of those little plastic starter holder things to try to get some of those flowers going. Trying to grow flowers is quite the experiment for me since I tend to have a black thumb, not a green one.

But who knows, maybe this will be the year my thumb starts to get a tiny twinge of green in it!

Miracles -or should I say "Miracle-Gro" could happen!

Ideas Galore. Money, Not So Much!

Sometimes I think the Home and Garden Television channel should be removed from our cable company's channel listing!

Why?

Simply because that channel is Mandy's favorite to watch and there are times when the inspirations she gets from watching the programs there would be better served if she had a big, big income. Come to think of it, from seeing some of the stuff on that channel once in a while, I've come to the conclusion that those who can take advantage of most of their offerings have to have income in the six figure brackets.

Her latest dream now -or a continuation dream or whatever it is -involves a total re-do of our kitchen. Yeah, like that's gonna happen. Definitely not in my lifetime.

She informed me she wants a kitchen with an island that also has a warming drawer -whatever the hell that is -plus stainless steel fixtures with undermount sinks and a granite countertop with solid cherry cabinetry. And that's just for openers!

Oh well, At least it costs nothing to dream, does it?

And I have to confess that I wouldn't mind doing a little dreaming about a whole lot of things around this old house that would be nice to see changed too.

Color Your World...

Mealtime here can be a variety of things -from struggles with either or both kids to get them to eat things they normally profess to like to episodes that are calm, peaceful and fulfilling with respect to the body's needs of food intake.

And, on many occasions, it can also provide some great conversations too. Some of them also can cause the adults around the table to just crack up laughing.

The latter is pretty much what happened at supper here the other evening.

I don't remember now what the menu du jour may have been so I have no clue if there was something about the food that perhaps triggered Maya's question for me but I think it was one of those things that just came to her out of the blue.

Maya: "Did they have color a long time ago?"

Me: "What do you mean, did they have color? What are you referring to?"

Maya: "Well, were there colors then or was everything just sort of brown? Back in the early 80s?"

I don't know if she had perhaps been snooping in some old boxes or something and came across a bunch of old, old photos of our ancestors or if there'd been a TV show on that was filmed in a way that makes everything a brownish shade or what but needless to say, her questions sure did make Mandy and I both crack up laughing. Especially her reference to the "early 80s."

I told her that color has always been present but often, back when I was a child, people only used black and white film in their cameras.

I still don't know if that was what she was wondering about or not but my answer seemed to satisfy her needs, at least for the time being.

Color my world pretty shades of bright greens and yellows today as the sun is shining brightly, causing everything to look really pretty and just plain alive!

A pleasant switch from so many days that have been on the gray side, often with cold temps and lots of rain to go with that coloring.

Whatever color your day is, just remember if you're still above ground, it's still a darned good day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doctor's Orders!

I'm trying to keep myself on a little bit of a routine here with the exercise, such as it is, with walking the dog but boy, some days, I really wonder if it's as good a deal as it's supposed to be.

The last visit I had to see the oncologist, we were discussing my trying to lose a few more pounds and such and I mentioned to him about my attempt to work on that issue by going for walks down the road from the house, checking out the woodsy scenery there and such.

My physician broke into a very broad smile when I mentioned doing this and told me that women who have had abdominal surgery, particularly of the reproductive orders, would all be very well-served if they would take up walking for some exercise. What really surprised me about this conversation though was when he said that although many women these days are doing a lot of running or jogging, he said that kind of exercise is actually pretty unhealthy for women to be doing because it tends to harm the internal organs quite often, to say nothing about the damage that can occur to the feet and knees, in particular.

I laughed though and told him that there was no need to worry about my indulging in that kind of exercise but that I do very much enjoy the walks with my dog -and sometimes the grandkids even go with me too, when I'm not planning for a really long walk that is.

Well, apparently my walk yesterday -which was roughly three miles, round-trip -was a tad more than my old ankles were up to because boy, tonight my left ankle in particular has really been throbbing away! I'm thinking I might have to invest in some protective gear and try using some aircast a60 stuff-provided I could get the purchase of that approved by Medicare, ya know!

Either that or I'm gonna be investing in a lot of Ben-Gay!

I'm hoping this was just a fluke thing -maybe because yesterday was the first time so far this year that I had walked that far or it also could have been because of the really strong storms we had tonight as well as last night too.

Darned rain -and especially when we've had as much of it as we've had in the past month here now -likes to settle in and annoy me by making my ankles ache, swell and even bothers my back a lot too then.

But once I get my system back on track to walking a little farther than I have been doing, and hopefully soon, the weather will be more of the warmer stuff, with loads of sunshine, then I'll be following doctor's orders much better once again.

Alternative TV Programming Needed

Something dawned on me recently that we seem to be acquainted with a lot of folks who are adding to their families!

The old joke used to be -when the news would come through that this couple or that one was having a baby -be it a first or fifth -or maybe even more -that they apparently hadn't been watching Johnny Carson.

But there does seem to be an inordinate number of folks who are friends (and even some family members too) who have recently had a baby or who are currently expecting a child. In the past three months alone, two cousins of ours have had additions to their family, and three friends of Mandy's are due within the next 3-4 months now too.

I'm thinking either the people adding to their families have changed their television viewing habits or perhaps they have jobs -or maybe they've invested heavily in stock purchases of baby shower invitations!

But the truth be told here whenever I learn that a friend or relative is having their first child or maybe adding yet another child into the mix, I really do get very excited for the parents regardless of the circumstances.

And besides that, baby showers are always a heck of a lot of fun too!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Side Business?

Back in the day -well not the far, far distant days of my youth, that would be the dark ages -but back in the days when I used to be employed at a nice firm over in State College that specializes in forecasting the weather, I also used to do something else when I worked there but that was not part of my employment, per se.

I used to bake a lot!

Cookies of all kinds, cakes, even used to often bring in bunches of leftovers too from meals I'd fixed at home and shared those things with my good friend and supervisor, Scottie. Yeah, those were the days, for sure!

I really enjoyed doing that extra baking too simply because of the great response my co-workers would provide when they'd see me coming through the doors with a Tupperware container of some sort, holding lots and lots of cookies and/or other goodies and then, the vultures (aka co-workers) would seem to come out of the woodwork and swoop down on the package I would have by then deposited on a table in the break room for any and all of them to have something to nibble on then while doing their work.

Some of them, now and again, would refer to me as mrs fields although I don't think the things I brought in could possibly hold a candle to this stuff. But it was nice to hear the people I worked with pass along a bit of a compliment and thank you to me in that way.

Sometimes, I have thought about trying to do baking at home and seeing if I could have just a tiny market for some of the things I like to make. But then I think of all the legal mumble-jumble and rigamaroo one would have to go through in order to be allowed to turn your own kitchen into a work place and I think, Nah, not worth that much of a hassle.

I'll stick to baking a few things now and again now just for family, friends and neighbors once in a while or to take to events at our church -pot luck dinners or our Fall Bazaar sponsored by the Women's Group at church.

Doing that gives me just as much pleasure ultimately as I used to get from feeding the flock at the old work place!

Turning Green?

Boy, what a great day today is turning out to be!

Although, when I first awoke this morning, it was a bit of a different story. I was a tad on the dizzy side, had a bit of a headache too. Of course, I always have some issues and difficulty sleeping. Thankfully though, there was no nausea involved or I'd have been thinking I was suffering from oxyelite pro side effects.

No, just the normal issues that tend to bug me when I first get up -until I take my blood pressure meds, then the metformin too that helps control my blood sugar issues. So nothing drastically awry with respect to how I'm feeling today.

Actually by noon, I was so impressed with the sunshine and nice temperatures that Sammy and I went for a long walk down to Peale and back -a distance of about 3 miles, give or take a yard or two -for the round-trip walk. And it was so nice, so pleasant, a beautiful spring breeze wafting through the woods there bringing with it the very smell of springtime being in the air.

I didn't have a chance yesterday -due to other issues -to walk Sammy and get my sort of daily constitutional exercise in then but the last time I walked down to Peale, I hadn't noticed any buds on anything along the way.

Today, it was the beginning of a whole new ball game. Here's some pictures -nothing fancy or outstanding -that I took along our little walk.
This was one of the first things I saw that really surprised me. Check out all those pretty green leaves or buds or whatever they are on that big tree between my neighbors' property and their daughter's home! The last time I walked Sammy I hadn't noticed any greenery at all on that tree and I go past their home every time we walk so that had to have popped out just in the past two days or so!

This small tree/bush is just at the edge of where the woods as you are going to Peale begins -just beyond my neighbor, Bill's little trailer. I have no idea what kind of tree/bush this is but look at the lovely little blossoms starting to show on it! Yep, I do believe spring is now officially here.

This view is one I never tire of seeing -be it spring, summer, fall or even in the winter -as it overlooks the valley where Peale, the village, actually used to be and you can see the mountainside across the valley, so beautiful and so imposing too.
This piece of ground is directly across the road from the above picture looking across the mountainside. And my thoughts about this particular piece of land is that it would make for a beautiful place to build a nice home -maybe a nice log cabin type place or well, just about any design, but one with lots of windows that you could look outside and see the mountains virtually on all sides from this particular spot. And feel the breeze so very evident as it comes whistling through all the various trees down in that particular end of my little world.

Yeah, I know -I do tend at times to live in a bit of a dream world, don't I? But still, if'n the funds were available, if'n there were a water and sewage line extending that far down into the woods too, and of course, cable for my tv, the computer and my telephone to work, I'd love to have a place truly out in the wilderness like that area would be!

Wouldn't you?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stuck!

An interesting afternoon and evening here today!

But before I get into talking about those events, I wanted to share some other pictures from Easter.
Miss Maya, all decked out in one of her Easter outfits, showing a little of the loot she got in her Easter baskets.
And here's Kurtis, in his Sunday-Go-Meeting apparel, fondly fingering his bounty in the basket.

Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday afternoon and evening, Mandy and Ken were busy trying to trench out the ditch between our house and the neighbor's place. This is for runoff water from the ditch across the road and it had gotten a bit plugged up at the lower end of our property with grasses, leaves and silt. All those neat things ya know. A big job it was too as they dug it out from the bottom of the alleyway up to where the pipe comes out from under the road.
This shot, taken of about half of the lower end of the yard shows the meandering path the ditch now takes. The distance here is probably well over 100 feet in length that they dug up by hand.
And this is part of the upper portion of the ditch where the water comes through from under the road.

And these are the two little "helpers" who got sent into the house with orders that they get those muddy clothes off and do it now!
Turns out Kurt was the muddiest of the two. Am I surprised? Shucks, NO! Nor was I the least bit shocked to learn he got that way from his sister who took great pride in slopping mud all over him -something that he didn't even raise a single protest or cry over her doing that either. That also came as no shock to me either! The boy can easily qualify as a model for PigPen from the Peanuts comic strip ya know!

Today though, Mandy decided it was time for her to pull her car down in the front yard and hook up the big vacuum cleaner to give it a good once-over. I heard her start the car up when she was done cleaning and I listened too as I heard noises that sounded very much like her car wasn't going or doing quite what she wanted or expected it to do.

If she'd had said something to me in the first place I probably would have told her that this would happen but knowing her, it's probably also doubtful that she would have listened to me anyway.

But what happened was just what I figured would take place. The grass along the side of the house was still a bit damp from all the rains we've had and the sod -very well soaked through too so that even though it was nice, sunny, bright, warm and dry today -all that good stuff, ya know -when she backed the car into the yard there and tried to pull out and up on to the road, guess who was stuck!

Pretty soon I heard her calling out to me to please come outside because she needed me to help her. She wanted me to drive the car and she would push it then to get it out. I had my doubts about the success of that idea but about that time, the neighbor's daughter came outside and Mandy asked her if she would be willing to help get the car unstuck. Kylie went back inside and came back out with her Mom trailing along so I got in the car, backed it down about 3-4 foot more to get away from the slippery grass Mandy had created there and then, when I put it into first gear, with all three of the girls pushing as I slowly fed the gas and with Kurtis contentedly parked in his carseat in the backseat of the car (with a full sippy cup of milk!), we then managed to get the car up the slight grade of a hill in our yard and out onto the road and macadam.

As I pulled the car onto the road and started heading up the street, Kurt piped up, asking me, "Is my Mommy back at my house?" Yes, Baby, that she is. When I pulled into the neighbor's driveway to turn around and head back down to our parking area, he was quite relieved to see that Gram hadn't lied to him as there was Mommy, standing there, all smiles and waiting for us to return.

The picture to the left is from where I backed the car down a little bit and then, the shot on the right shows the entire part of the yard that we had to navigate over and avoid those muddy tire tracks left behind by Mandy as she had tried to get the car out of the yard and up onto the roadway.

Just a little bit closer view of the tire tracks from where Mandy was sitting, spinning her wheels!

Because Maya was spending the day today up at a friend's house (Nick-Nick and Jenn-Jenn's place -also spending the night there too) I thought maybe for supper that I would try to fix a dish my Grandma often fixed when I was a kid -after Easter -and a good way to use up some of the many colored hard-boiled Easter eggs, ya know. Creamed eggs and peas over toast! I ran that idea past Mandy who, as I kind of was afraid she would do, vetoed that suggestion but thought maybe, since we happen to have an abundance of ground sausage in the freezer right now, she thought maybe some sausage gravy and biscuits would be a better idea mainly because the last time I had fixed that for our supper, Kurtis had eaten it like there was no tomorrow and when he finished, had even turned to me and said that it was "good, all mixed together like that, Gram!"

So I took that as a recommendation and fixed a big kettle full of sausage gravy, baked up some flaky biscuits and then, doled out the gravy on a biscuit for the little guy, only to have him turn his nose up at it and throw a major hissy fit, proclaiming quite loudly too, his dislike for this dish! And that's how the war tonight at the dining room table thus began!

Eventually, we did get him to eat maybe 4-5 bites of the stuff but not without a long battle to get him to eat that much. He was tired, crabby too -very! All the time he had spent outside this afternoon, he was also a little sunburned as well which all added up to a very unhappy camper this evening at the supper table.

By 8 p.m., he was ready for bed -and so was I, truth be told! An hour of his whining and crying and fussing around had pretty much worn me down so when Mandy pulled out a pair of pjs for him to put on, he was happy and went off to dreamland then with no further hassles!

And I settled back in my recliner, intending to work on my current embroidery project but in short order, found naptime calling to me then too!

So now, when everyone else is in bed, sleeping soundly, here I am, sitting here writing this lovely little post to detail my day -yesterday and today!

Hopefully tomorrow will be, as Kurtis puts it, "Is a better day!" Only one more day to go till Maya returns to school but he will be off the rest of the week for his spring break vacation. But only having him here, by himself, is not near as stressful as it is if both of them are here together and with Maya usually trying her best to bully and/or befuddle her little brother. Something she is really quite adept at doing too, I might add!

And with that, I'm going back to my recliner, to my movie and my embroidery till the notion to sleep returns to me.

Might not take all that long for that to happen either!

Peace.

No calamities!

Yesterday -Easter Sunday -marked a big event for me. One that I was a bit worried about initially as most of you who read my blog know, I am not a morning person. Not. At. All!

So, when Mandy told me Friday night that she was planning on rising early Sunday a.m. and getting the kids up and dressed to in order to attend the sunrise service (at 7 a.m.) at our church, she asked if I wanted her to wake me up then too.

Hmmmm. I pondered the idea a bit and told her that I was a tad concerned that my attendance at that service might set up some mega health issues for several members of the congregation who are very well acquainted with my status of almost always being a night owl and this could possibly cause a coronary in some member, ya know.

I'm happy to report that I did rise and shine, made it to the service on time and no, the roof didn't cave in nor did anyone keel over from the sheer shock of seeing me out and about at such an early hour.

What's more, both kids behaved very nicely throughout the entire service too. A little bit of talking here and there from Kurtis, but nothing really loud, no screaming, wailing or gnashing of the teeth so that made for a good start to the day!

The rest of the day went relatively smoothly -supper cooked, well received (even by the two youngest of the diners, which is always a bonus) with only one casualty -that being the limpa rye bread I mixed up and baked but which didn't turn out very well at all. Crust got way too hard, didn't bake through completely so it's a bit gooey on the inside and well, I was just really disappointed in the outcome there because I really do love Swedish Limpa Rye bread and this was the first time I had it not turn out very well for me.

But, considering how our weekend began, things all ended on the upside!

Friday morning a Facebook friend of Mandy's informed her that someone -an individual known to us but not on our communicating list -had posted some rather nasty words on her Facebook page about us. Well, mainly her not-too-happy-words were aimed at me as she referred to me as Mandy's "Cancer-faking mother!"

It would seem that I must have totally ticked this person off, wouldn't it?

And all things considered, I'm not going to apologize for any of the words in the blogpost she took offense to either. I would however like to point out to her if she has anything to say about anything I write on my blog, there is a space there for comments -even allows for anonymous ones to be left behind too -and if she is so angry -as well as brave -to post something on her Facebook which neither Mandy or I have access to -then she could just as easily have posted her thoughts, feelings, reasonings, etc., on my blog and gone directly to the source instead of being a rumor monger and trying to access hurling her nasty comments at us via a backdoor entry.

But that's just the nature of that beast.

And, if she is so convinced that I'm faking the cancers -two of 'em, for those unaware -then she can feel free to stop by the house and I will gladly show her the medical report straight from the surgeon in Pittsburgh who performed the last surgery last year through which it was discovered that there was, indeed, cancer present in the uterus! And, I'll also gladly show her the bills received from various other places -Cancer clinic, several other physicians, etc., etc. To my knowledge, no one in their right mind is going to go to the extreme of creating a debt to these places that I will be lucky if I can get it all paid off before going to my "great reward" some day. But then again, that's just my theory on things like that and perhaps she operates on a much different level.

And, as to her threat that she would tell all about the children, it kind of has Mandy and I wondering if she meant Maya and Kurtis or was she perhaps referring to past evils she thinks were done by my three kids. If she's referring to Maya and Kurtis, the only thing in the record about them is that they both have autism and to my knowledge, that's not something either of us has ever kept as a huge secret either.

As a matter of fact, I take a huge amount of pride in that factor of their lives and seeing how well both of them are doing, are learning by leaps and bounds, ways to counter with this disorder. They are both very bright little children who, with a lot of work and effort on the part of the various therapists who have worked with them over the past 3-6 years now, are moving along very nicely, on their way to having a very fulfilling life!

And, if she's maybe referring to things my kids may have done over the years, well there's probably a thing or two here and there that they may have done that I don't yet know about but for the most part, they've all come a long way in maturing quite nicely too!

So fire away. Take your best shot and here's hoping it's a good one too. I'd really love to hear, to learn more of what wondrous things you have to say!

Great Unveiling...

Today has marked a first for me -this year anyway.

It's the first day this year that I have donned a pair of shorts and a tee shirt as my wardrobe choices du jour!

And the great unveiling is, as my daughter said, of the really, really, really, almost death white, legs.

Doubtful though that by fall they will have acquired all that much more color as I'm not one who tries to get a suntan these days. Besides which, if the rest of our spring and summer runs the way things have gone to get to a day that is sunny, bright, breezy and warm all at once, then it's highly doubtful there will be all that many days in which to try to get a little color to the limbs.

But that's about the last thing I'm gonna worry about. Let the white legs hang out and just enjoy the warmth and sunshine that's coming our way.

Even if it is just for today!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Small School, Small World. Big-time PRIDE!

I saw someone I almost, sort of, know on TV tonight!

And it was on the national news, CBS Evening Reports, no less.

I had just flicked through the channels and managed to pull up the tail-end of the Evening News on CBS and there was an interview ongoing that, catching it in mid-stream, I had no clue what it was about and really wasn't that interested either since I had clicked it on close to the end of the broadcast. I was just going to wait and see what news followed this piece, ya know.

When suddenly, something caught my eye!

The reporter was interviewing a lady and at the bottom of the screen, they flashed her name and affiliation.

Shawn Hubler, Former reporter for the LA Times.

Hmmmm. Why did that name ring a bell with me?

By that time, the broadcast was ending, the wheels of my mind were churning away though as I tried to think why that name was familiar to me.

And then it hit me!

I follow her column that she writes for a paper in Orange County, California!

I've never met this lady but she's originally from this area.

And, how do I know that and how did I come to add her column to my reader on my computer?

Well, because of a friend of mine on Facebook who had made some comment a while back about this lady and somewhere in that mix, I had then found her column -through this other Facebook friend.

Seems this lady graduated from the local high school here and she had been, apparently still is, a good, old school days friend of my Facebook friend!

I sent Cindy -my Facebook friend -a message asking if she'd happened to see tonight's broadcast of the CBS Evening News because her friend, Shawn Hubler, had been interviewed on there tonight. I told her too that I had no clue what the topic was about but perhaps she could find the video on the computer by checking out the CBS News Website.

Then I thought, well why can't I do that too? And, if the video is on there, I can then send Cindy the website so she can access it and enjoy seeing it too.

Which is exactly what I did.

And that's when I learned what the story was about.

It was actually a story within a story.

Seems two reporters at the LA Times had been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting -a feat within itself, ya know. But the lady from our school wasn't part of that part of the story. Rather, she was part of the back story behind one of the two award-winning reporters.

The younger of the two reporters was a native of Guatamala whose mother had come here and working in California as a domestic worker. She -and her son -were both illegal immigrants. The young man didn't even know until he was about 14-15 years old that he was here illegally.

But when he was around 17-18 years old, about to graduate from high school, his mother -who worked for two other LA Times Reporters -asked them for help in getting her son a green card.

They did that and then some. They also got him a job as a copy boy at the Times.

Some where along the way then, the young man evidently went to college, graduated and was employed then by the Times as a reporter and that's how he came to be working with this other reporter on this huge story that they broke about corruption in the telephone company system in California.

And that story led to them winning a Pulitzer Prize.

Pretty cool deal there, don't 'cha think?

Kind of a bit like that game about Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but with a somewhat different angle.

Now I can say that I know someone, who is good friends with someone, who helped a young immigrant get his green card, an education, job and now, after only being a reporter for three years, was also a Pulitzer Prize winning writer!

Who says that people who graduated from West Branch Area High School in rural central Pennsylvania aren't darned good and intelligent people now?

I think this is the best "small world" kind of story I've come across in a long time and one that shines a really nice light then too in the background on our local school district.

I know I'm really proud to tell everyone on the blogosphere about this little story, that's for sure!

Now tell the truth, wouldn't you be proud to talk about this event too?

And for those interested in reading more about this broadcast, here's the url to the CBS Evening News Site so you can see the interview and read the story behind the story!

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363253n&tag=related;photovideo

Wonder how many other folks from the West Branch School District saw the interview tonight and realized that the lady being interviewed was an alum of our high school here?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Cookout-Cook-in!

This past Saturday was a lousy day in some aspects -mainly weather related!

Mandy had planned to have a Cookout on Saturday evening for the family to continue in our celebrating Kurt's 5th birthday but old Mother Nature had a finger in the pie and decided to deluge us with rain, rain and yes, some more rain! Some of it in the form of really heavy downpours too!

But, not to be deterred, Ken fired up the grill and in between showers -when that was possible -and even with the rain pelting him at times -he managed to grill the burgers and hot dogs for our Saturday evening get-together.

We were a bit on the overloaded side of the carbohydrates aspect to our evening meal with a big container of pasta salad Mandy fixed and an almost as large a container of macaroni and cheese that Gram made -mainly so the birthday boy and his sister had something to eat besides a hot dog!

In addition to that, of course, there was the chocolate cake with chocolate icing on it that Mandy had brought home for Kurtis -right up his alley, ya know, considering he dearly loves chocolate of most any type concoction. And Gram made a special dessert too from a recipe she found on the Recipe.com site called "Better Than Robert Redford Dessert."

I'm sorry to say that no one present thought the dessert was quite THAT good as to be better than Robert Redford although daughter Carrie along with Pastor Carrie agreed that it was very good -just not better than, ya see.

In trying to get a consensus of opinions on the dessert, we discovered something else in the process. Seems Kurt and Maya's big sister, Katie, had no clue as to who Robert Redford is! And as much of a shock as that bit of news was to me, at least, we also learned she had never heard of Paul Newman either! Amazing, isn't it? How on earth anyone could reach the grand old age of 19 years and not ever have heard or seen or be able to recognize either Robert Redford or Paul Newman is totally beyond my comprehension.

So, I had to use the good old computer and Google to come to the rescue so I could show her pictures as well as a little biographic information on both these gorgeous actors so she could at least recognize them in the future then should she see pictures of them or view a movie or two (or hopefully even more) with them in starring roles and then be able to identify them as such. Once she saw the photos, she had very little in the way of comments about Mr. Redford but did mention that that Newman guy looked pretty nice. All that while Gram was sitting here totally engrossed and drooling massively over the pictures on the monitor of Paul Newman. I attribute my fondness for Paul Newman to the fact that I simply can't resist ice blue eyes like his! Gotta stop writing about Paul Newman now or I'll get way too excited just thinking about what a fantastic actor he was as well as what a scrumpdelicious hunk of man he was as well!!!

But anyway, we had quite a fun time celebrating Kurt's birthday for the third time this past week, for sure and he got lots and lots of really neat and cool toys as well -for the third time this week.

Now -back to the dessert though. Reading others blog posts on my reader this morning, I learned that my blogger buddy, Terri, had her daughter and a friend use a recipe I had either sent her via e-mail or maybe I had posted it here on my blog for Pistachio Cupcakes and apparently they were as big a hit at her house as they were here at my place. So I thought well, I'll have to post the recipe now here for the Better Than Robert Redford Dessert so anyone interested can take a shot at fixing it and decide for themselves as to how good they think this piece is too then!

I do have a picture of the finished product that I took -which of course doesn't really show how yummy it really is but at least gives a little idea about it.


The recipe is actually quite easy to make although certain aspects can initially be a tad tricky to get things to come together nicely.

And for those who want to try this masterpiece, here then is the recipe for "Better Than Robert Redford Dessert!"


Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 cups milk
2 boxes (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding
2 boxes (3.4 oz each) instant chocolate pudding
chopped nuts, chocolate curls

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 13x9x2 inch baking dish with nonstick coating spray.
2. In medium-size bowl, mix flour, walnuts and melted butter. Pat into prepared dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes and cool.
3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust.
4. Prepare vanilla pudding using 2 cups of the milk. Spread over cream cheese layer. Prepare chocolate pudding with remaining 2 cups of milk and spread this over the vanilla pudding layer. Spread remaining whipped topping over pudding layers. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate curls. Cut into squares.

See! Easy peasy, huh?

And when I typed this up here now I see that when I made the dessert I made an error due I suppose to my failing eyesight that even new glasses don't help if you don't read a recipe correctly. I only used 1 package of each flavor of pudding mix when I fixed this. It turned out good enough but perhaps it was that mistake that caused people to think it wasn't quite better than Robert Redford after all. But at least it was a little more than just passable so I'm not gonna lose any sleep over that!

So now, if the recipe appeals to you, take your pick if you want to use 1 package of each pudding mix or the two packages as the recipe calls for. Either way, it works out okay -just that the 1 package of each creates a slimmer layer.

No more birthday celebrations now for about 2-3 more weeks when it will be Elizabeth's birthday (Clate's girlfriend) and we'll have to figure out what to do for that event then too.

In the meantime, I have to make a quick trip up the road to the home of my friend, Nila, who is also our local tax collector here too so I can get a form to fill out to file my local income tax as well as pay my "per capita" tax that I owe too. If I don't return to blogging in a reasonable time span, well I suppose you can come find me at the Debtor's Prison for Delinquent Tax Payers -if there is such a thing these days. (Actually I'm not late on my income taxes but I am late on the Personal Per Capita thingy cause I keep forgetting about that one!)

Happy Income Tax Day to one and all. Maybe making the Robert Redford Dessert would be a good way to appease the pain of paying taxes.

Ya think?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ah Yes, Visions!

Today was a bit of a rough day. I think it's pretty safe to say that about it. Not sure who it was rougher for though -Maya, her TSS, Mandy or me. In retrospect, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it was a tough day for Miss Maya, even though she was the cause of all the issues.

Seems she was more than a tad upset because Mandy's boyfriend, Ken, had brought his 4-wheeler down and was going to take the kids for a ride but things went down the tubes, in Maya's perception of things, when Kurtis was the one who got to go for the "first" ride.

Since I was in the house and not privy to the conversations and the actions/reactions to that bit of news out front, I don't know exactly who said what, but evidently Miss Maya lost her cool and her temper completely and apparently swung at someone (probably Kurtis but may have been Miss Brittany, her TSS) and also, she kicked Miss Brittany.

Not a good move on her part -or as we've been trying to teach her and her brother -"Not a wise choice."

Before she could turn around, Mandy had brought her into the house and plunked her down on the sofa where she was doing the whining cry for the most part. Although occasionally it was a bit of the wailing cry with a smidgen of a tear now and then.

I was in the bathroom at the onset of this so didn't get the full scoop on what had transpired but by the time I got out to the living room, all the things that Maya was supposed to have done were being denied, vehemently, and to each of her denials, Mandy was reminding her that she had seen her do these things and therefore, she was lying and that if there is one thing that Mommy (Mandy) really dislikes, it's liars!

The denials or lies -call it whichever you wish -continued, on and on, for quite some time with no headway in getting Maya to see that her problem now was in the realm where she really needed to accept the responsibility for her actions and to apologize to Miss Brittany for her actions.

She had one excuse after the other for why things had gone the way they did, each one more ludicrous than the previous one too! One reason she acted the way she did was because her "friends told her to do that." Hmmmm. Who are these friends and where were they hiding around our house to be able to give her directives that got her into trouble anyway? (Considering the fact there is only one little girl along our street near Maya's age and with whom she is friends, but who was no where near our house today.

The conversation also delved then into well, who is the boss here anyway and of course, Maya started out by wrongly stating that SHE is the boss. This child has no concept whatsoever of what a short fuse her mother's temper can be on at times and by making that statement, she was running a really big risk there! (For the record, Mandy did eventually get Maya to acknowledge that either Mommy or Gram are the bosses around this place and not her, not her little brother either -although Kurtis rarely tries to exert that kind of authority.)

Then it was back once again to asking her why she felt it was okay to kick Miss Brittany. After being asked if she liked to be kicked or hit and she said no, then why did she feel it was alright to do that to someone else? This time, we were pretty surprised to hear Maya tell us that Mr. McClelland had told her to do that! Say what? Mr. McClelland is the name of her teacher and he sure as heck was no where near our place.

"So, when did he tell you that?" Mandy asked her.

"Well," Maya began, "I had this vision in my head and it was him telling me that."

Hmmmm. Now we're dealing with visions in her head, are we? So much for the run-of-the-mill visions little kids are supposed to have of 'Sugar plums dancing" I suppose.

I have to confess to that when she made that comment about seeing the vision of her teacher that I almost spit my teeth out on the spot and was trying so hard to stifle the laugh building up deep down inside me that there were tears running down my cheeks. Good way to ruin a discipline session is for Gram to totally lose control and laugh out loud, ya know!

We had a little bit of a meltdown earlier this week on Tuesday afternoon when a little girl from Kurt's class and her mother, along with Mandy's friend and her husband, their daughter, son and the son's girlfriend as well as Miss Randi (Maya's mobile therapist) were all here and we were having a bit of an early celebration of Kurt's 5th birthday -which was on Wednesday. Seems Maya got a big streak of jealousy going on when she announced very loudly and sulking/pouting on a big, big level because she believed that it wasn't fair because Kurt got more presents for his birthday than she did! Excuse me? Since when does this child count the number of presents she received six months ago and recall that while watching her brother open about 4-5 gifts anyway? Took a good bit of talking to her that day about her issues, for sure.

Mandy was still upset about her reaction at Kurt's little party Tuesday and when Mandy took her to her dentist appointment Wednesday a.m., she tried to address the issue a bit further with Maya. She was still upset about the whole deal Wednesday evening too because she didn't feel she'd made any headway with Maya about this stuff.

Actually, I don't think her reaction was an abnormal one because darned near all siblings do tend to have a tad of jealousy over things like birthday gifts and Christmas presents and such. Some don't show it outwardly at all, while others hold it in for a long, long time and then cut loose on the adults they believe were responsible for those sins -often many years earlier. (I know this not from my own experience with siblings -as I was an only child and thus have no experience in that respect -but from how my three kids often dealt with what they thought were slights to them at various times over their childhood years.)

But anyway, I think that was still a part of Maya's issue today as we know she is quite jealous of anything at all that she perceives as Kurtis getting one iota more than she gets or got or whatever!

The jealousy thing by itself can be a royal pain to deal with but the bit with the constant lies she dishes out to us, refusing to acknowledge that she did this, that or something else, even when she KNOWS the I have seen her myself or Mandy has seen her or someone else saw an action she chose to take that wasn't anything near to be kosher and yet, she will lie through her teeth and deny ever having done whatever it was that we had caught her doing!

A long time back someone had made the comment to us -this was shortly after Maya had been diagnosed as having autism -that one thing "cool" about kids with autism was that they are very honest, don't lie!

Hmmm. Wish I could remember now who it was that told us that lie!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is It A Better Day?

This morning, when I got up, Maya had already left for school, coffee was made but no sign of Mandy or Kurtis so I figured he was still sleeping and that Mandy had decided to go back to bed for a quick cat nap, of sorts.

Sitting here, sipping my first cup of coffee of the day, I hear the telltale sounds of little footsteps coming down the stairs. I glance up just in time to catch Kurtis peaking around the corner of the stairwell -scanning the room for his mother, ya know.

Upon not seeing her here, he immediately turned tail and headed back upstairs. A few minutes later, he must have rethought the situation and decided it was still safe to dare to come downstairs and to venture out to the living room, alone with Gram!

He came back down and upon entering the living room, his greeting to me this morning was "Is it a better day, Gram?"

Without thinking, I answered him and said "Yes, I do believe it is that!" And he sat down, quietly, no crying, to whining, no pleas of "I need milk!" immediately after getting up and downstairs today so as far as I was concerned then it was definitely "a better day."

A little later, when Mandy got up, I told her what he'd said and she explained where that line came from.

Every night when she gets the kids ready for bed, she talks to them about how things had been that day and whether they had been good -or not so well-behaved and had earned a (or even several) time-out periods during the day. If it had been a somewhat rough day for them, she always tells them then "Well, maybe tomorrow will be a better day."

And, judging by his question first thing this morning, knowing too that last night was NOT one of their easy, better days or nights in the grand scheme of things, that sentence must have been wearing on his mind while he slept.

The nice thing though was that for the bulk of today, things did develop in a manner so that it was a much better day!

Maybe we should all try asking ourselves that question before we fall asleep at the day's end and then, upon waking up in the morning, remind ourselves that today could definitely have the makings then of being a better day!

Peace!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Let Me Tell Ya....

There's a song with lyrics that begin with those words in my title and it's on an old cassette tape that was found here recently and which actually works in the cassette player in my jeep. Something about that tape -that Elizabeth (son's girlfriend) and I have been sharing a few giggle about it. Since that seemed to be the only tape that would work, would make that little cassette player thingy produce music, she and I have heard that song so many times in the past two weeks that we both are pretty sure we know every. last. word. of. that. song. now!

While this past day's events are still relatively fresh in my addled brain, that's what I decided I would write about here tonight.

However, as I signed into my blog, I noticed something different and realized that the picture I had across the top of my blog has disappeared! Where the Hell did it go, I wonder? I looked on the dashboard and at the layout page there in hopes that the picture was still there somewhere, just hiding from me, but be darned if I can find it! And what's worse now, is that a blogger friend of mine had taken and cropped that picture specifically for me to use as my header photo too but now, I have no clue where in blazes I might have it saved, if in fact, I even have it saved in any file on this computer as it's been across the top of my blog since long before I got this computer. Now, where the heck could I have stashed it anyway?

But aside from the annoyance at that discovery -which just happened about 10 minutes ago now -that isn't what I had in mind to write about either.

Nope! So here goes with what my Friday looked like.

I had an appointment this morning at the cancer clinic -one, to have my port flushed and two, to meet with the oncologist for yet another check-up. He was happy with the results from my bloodwork the other day -said all was fine and dandy with that -and also, with the CT scan I had last week too, which he said came back clean as a whistle. Yay, yay, ME! Now, I don't have to see him again until September -unless some unexpected problems decide to rear their ugly little heads and create more medical havoc for me once again!

We talked very, very briefly about the aspect of the internal radiation that the radiologist had been really pushing hard for me to have done but which didn't come about due to other issues -for which I am, in a big way, rather grateful. I was not at all happy about the prospect of having to travel to Pittsburgh for internal radiation to begin with, much less over the winter months and weather being what it was this winter, I was never able to schedule even an introductory appointment there with the radiologist at the big hospital in the "Burgh." My oncologist did mumble a bit about not being all that keen on having that done anyway because of his concern that should I develop cancer again -one that could or should be treated with radiation -had I had the internal radiation, it could very well have put me at the limitations that are placed on radiation and how much a person can have and thus, I could then be SOL for that type of treatment again, ya know.

After leaving the doctor's office, I stopped by the good old J.C. Penney's store and combed their clearance racks -my favorite place to shop at Penney's ya know. I lucked out and found two nice 3/4 length sleeve knit tops on sale for a mere $3.97 each and then, I did something I rarely do at that store -or any store of that type for that matter -in that I purchased myself a new pair of jeans that were not on the clearance racks! They were on sale, yes, but not at a ridiculously low and thus, to my way of thinking, great price but even so, at $21.99 for a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans that fit quite nicely, I figured I could justify the splurge this time anyway.

And then too, I did something else I have NEVER done before there too! I found a pair of silk pajamas, in a sort of cranberry red, that had been listed at $34.00 for the pair on sale for the really great price of only $6.97 and they made the trip home with me then too! I've -as stated above -NEVER, EVER in all my 66 plus years of living, bought myself jammies that were of a luxury type item like these sort of are and as I type this, I am basking here with them on my old body. The silk fabric really does feel very nice and comfy -not necessarily warm like I normally prefer my bed clothes to be in this rather drafty, chilly old house, but what the heck. I'm comfortable and feeling a teeny bit on the queen-like side wearing something like this!

Stopped at Walmart to get my prescription for the wonderful Metformin I'm now taking twice a day in pills containing 1,000 mg of that drug to help keep my blood sugar levels under control. My primary care physician as well as the oncologist were both very happy with the results I've been having from taking this medication and over the past six days, my BS levels have averaged 111 -which the oncologist said he sure couldn't grump and grumble at me over that! Again -a YAY, YAY for me today!

Because Friday morning I was awakened around 4:45 a.m. by my son coming down here to get someone to drive him up to the truckstop where his big truck was parked so he could get back on the road and finish his delivery in the eastern part of the state today, by the time I finally returned home from the doctor's and my little shopping spree, I was totally bushed and baby, I do mean TOTALLY! So, within about 15 minutes after I had sat down in the recliner to look over today's newspaper, I was out like a light and sound asleep! Didn't wake up then till about 5 p.m. when I had to get up and fix some supper.

Clate and Elizabeth were here for supper consisting of fish (breaded/baked), macaroni and cheese of the homemade variety and stewed tomatoes. Mandy hurried up and ate and then left to attend the play the high school kids were presenting tonight (and tomorrow night and matinee on Sunday) of "The Music Man." My next-door neighbor teaches at the high school here and is also the director of the Drama Club so this was the result of lots and lots of long days over the past few months supervising all the kids in the cast as well as the crew that built the sets and all the other many things that come into being when putting on a production like this. Mandy and Ken went tonight and the plan was that tomorrow (Saturday night, that would be) I would go see the play with Clate and Elizabeth as well as taking Maya with us then too. However, they were back home by shortly before 9 p.m. -early by over an hour as the play is 3 hours in length -and they said although the play is really good, great work on the part of the kids in it and all that, the seats in the auditorium they complained were very, very hard and Mandy predicts they will be killers on my back tomorrow night when we go see the production. She thinks we should go and watch the first half and then, leave and she will then take our seats and watch the second half then that she missed seeing tonight and then, on Sunday, I can go up and watch the second half thus making it easier on my behind! Don't know if that's a feasible thing to try to do but we shall see!

After supper tonight, Clate and Elizabeth took Maya and Kurtis up to their house -or Clate's house -or whatever you want to call the place -so they could then have some visitation time there -supervised, that way -with their Dad -who now is staying at my son's house too.

The kids were excited over going up to spend the evening with Uncle Cwaton (Kurt's pronunciation of Clayton) although during supper, Kurtis began voicing some concerns he has about going there. Uncle Clate just so happens to have this huge paper mache type replica of a shark's head hanging in one corner of the room he has his "bar" and music set-up and Kurtis has a terrible fear, an obsession really, about this damned shark. He's is petrified of the thing! Finally, Uncle Clate asked him if they put a blanket over the shark would that be okay with him and assuage his fears. He thought about that a minute or two, giving Clate one of those looks that say "I'm thinking about this and wondering if you are trying to trick me or if this will really work" and finally, he shook his head and said that yes, he thought that would be okay. Clate said not to worry because Maya would be there to look out for him and that made me laugh then at the idea of Maya being nice and actually kind of protecting her little brother for a change. She tends to think of him as her own private property to bully around most of the time!

But apparently things worked out okay there because they didn't come home till a little past 9:30 p.m. -about an hour later than had originally been planned and there were no complaints, no crying children, when they came back home then either! So guess all's well that ends well holds true once again, doesn't it?

Today marked the day I had alluded to in my post last night wherein a good blogger friend of mine announced that he is ending his blogging days! For any of you who have ever read any posts by the blogger "Suldog" -he announced today on his blog that he is hanging it up, maybe for good, but at least for a while. I'm hoping that he will play "Governor Arnold" ya know and sometime in the near future will have a post up there titled "I'm Baaack!"

The last time I felt this down about about something pertaining to a blogger friend was a few years back when I got an e-mail from the sister of a good friend of mine in the blogosphere -Bob Johnson -a guy from up in Alberta, Canada who wrote one of the best blogs and certainly one of the funniest too, ever. I was quite surprised to get this e-mail from his sister but even more so when I read the content of her note. She had written to tell me her brother had died suddenly the day before of a massive heart attack and I will tell you this, I sat here at the old computer and cried -just sobbed -over the passing of a man I had never met, had never even seen a photo of him and had only communicated with him via our blogs and some e-mails here and there for about a year and yet, the news really shattered me as much as the loss I'd known in the past of some very close friends over the years. Amazing how much a person comes to feel -and believe -that they know about folks with whom their level of communication has only been via the written word, isn't it?

Although I felt a bit like crying when I read Jim's news that he was going to quit blogging, at least I have hopes that he will tire of not sharing his wild and wacky thoughts, his zany sense of humor with those of us who do our talking via a keyboard and an internet hook-up and that he'll return -hopefully one day really soon too!

And now, I think that pretty well covers what I did today -or yesterday as it actually is right now -and that I will head to bed so I can get up early again in the morning to get ready to go to State College where my kids and the grandkids too, will be participating in this year's Autism Walk at Penn State University! We've taken part in this walk for 4 of the past 5 years now -with last year being the exception because Mandy had a prior commitment that day. Not that many of us on our "team" this year but that's okay too, as we'll still have a good time surrounded by lots and lots of other people whose lives have been impacted by Autism too. And, I'll get to collect my new Autism Speaks tee shirt for the year 2011 then that way and I love getting new tee shirts, ya know!

Hopefully when I return I'll even have a couple of photos to share with everyone about our Autism walk adventures of the day!

Peace!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Nothin' Much...

Where does my time go anyway?

I don't really ever get much accomplished but yet, I am busy trying to find time to do various things. Somehow, that just makes no sense, no sense at all, does it?

About the only things I DO get accomplished are some embroidery projects and then, I often fall asleep in my chair while working on them.

This week, I don't remember what the heck I did on Sunday or Monday -other than that I did get a tabletopper completed and then, started working on a set of pillow cases for Kurtis. I finished one pillow case now today so that project is half-way completed now. It's a cute set with a "choo-choo train" across the pillow case in bright, cheery colors. I showed the finished case to Kurtis and asked him if he knew what it was and he right away pipes up with "It's a train, Gram!" As long as he sees what's on there in the multi-colored threads, that's all that matters to me.

Tuesday night, I didn't cook supper as I had to be out at church for our monthly meeting of the Women's group (WELCA) there. It was my turn to do the refreshments this month and I had debated almost the entire month on what I was going to make. I ended up making two pizzas -a veggie pizza and a fruit pizza! Both went over quite well although I was highly ticked off at the crust for the fruit pizza. The recipe said to use one of those tubes of refrigerated sugar cookie dough -which I had Mandy pick up one for me (along with a bunch of fresh fruits -way too many of them, really) and the darned crust was all gooey causing me to have a devil of a hard time to press it into place on my cookie sheet. Then, to add insult to injury, after loading the crust down with the cream topping and fruits and chilling it a bit, when I went to cut it into squares to put into my cake taker, the damned crust had the audacity to stick (like it was glued down) to my good teflon cookie sheet pan! This after the recipe specifically stated NOT to grease the pan too! ARRGH! I hate when things go amuk like that for me and especially when I have invested a lot of time and some extra funds too, in order to make something that is for a somewhat special occasion.

Tuesday afternoon, as I was in the midst of making these pizzas, Mandy asked me about what appointments I have this week and I said I have one this coming Friday with the oncologist for a check-up. I commented to her that I had it marked on the calendar too but she said there was nothing there except that I did have it penned in that I was to have an appointment that morning with the oncologist. "That Morning" being the morning on Tuesday and when she said that, it was already afternoon and almost time for the oncologist's office to close for the day when I called to find out what the heck kind of screw-up I had done on the calendar.

Turned out that yes, I was supposed to have had an appointment that morning but apparently when I wrote the date and time on the calendar correctly, I had somehow, incorrectly, written in my mental calendar that the appointment was to be for this coming Friday a.m. However, it was a good thing overall though because I was also supposed to have some blood work done prior to the appointment so they had me come in Wednesday a.m. then to have the blood work done and that worked out quite well since I also had an order from my primary care dr. as well as the ear-nose-throat guy I see to have extra blood work done for them too! So I ended up then killing three birds with one stone.

Today, as I mentioned above, I finished half of a set of pillow cases I'm doing for Kurtis and cooked supper -had Clayton and his girlfriend, Elizabeth and her little boy, Ryan, down for supper so we had a fun time with them here then.

Because I am sworn to secrecy here, I won't name names but I had some really unsettling and from my point of view, sad news today from one of my favorite people in the blogging world. I was informed this person is going to leave blogging -maybe not forever but for a while at any rate and I really do enjoy reading the posts this person puts out for all to read. Truly a zany, downright crazy at times and now and again, very sentimental writer this person is and I'm hoping this is just a temporary break in the blogging action!

I am back to walking the dog again -not always every day and not as far as I would walk with him last spring and summer -not yet, anyway -but most days now I am getting out and taking him for roughly a mile's worth of walk time -round trip.

Yesterday was the birthday of my oldest baby! Mandy asked me today if I blogged about that and I said no, I hadn't. Her response to that was just to say "Hmmmm. You sure you didn't make a mistake there about not doing that?"

Well, maybe that's true that I did make a mistake in not announcing to one and all in the blog world that yesterday, April 6th, was the 44th anniversary of the day when my first child came into this world! But, I really hadn't given it all that much thought yesterday except to say on my Facebook that yesterday was a date that I will always be able to remember exactly where I was and what I was doing too for the entire day!

Truthfully, I don't remember all that many details about that day because from about 4 p.m. until around 9:30 p.m. -when she was born -they had me fairly well drugged up so I have not much to say then about that which apparently took place.

Except that I do remember after she was born, the doctor was running all over the delivery room, carrying her from one nurse to another and making a huge fuss over her, telling me -and the nurses -that everyone just HAD to look at her and see what a beautiful little baby girl she was! He brought her over to me and got me to try to open my eyes to see her for the first time and all I could see, as I remember that part, is that her eyes were just these little slits and to my eyes, in my semi-drug induced state, it looked like her eyes were slanted a good bit too. And that caused me to worry then all night that there was something majorly wrong with her so when they brought her into me the next morning, the first thing I looked at was her eyes! And, after realizing then that they were open, quite wide, and not the least bit slanted either, then I relaxed and went on to count fingers and toes.

Today, she's still beautiful -just a slightly larger youngish woman now! She's a hard-worker -putting in hours and hours at her job when they need someone to fill in for other nurse's aides and she's generous to a fault where her sister, brother, nieces and nephews are concerned too -and also for dear old Mom too, although she dearly loves to give me a royal hard time whenever she can do that!

We pick on her a lot too about her issues with timeliness -punctuality, ya know. Not one of her strong points although she has been getting a bit better at managing that. Used to be whenever we were having a family dinner or get-together, we would have a pool -a quarter per guess -where everyone in the pool would pick a time when they thought she would arrive here and whoever guessed the closest to her actual time of arrival then won the pot. Because boy, back when we used to do that, guessing what time she would get here really was a big crap shoot!

But anyway, I'm still today very glad that she arrived when she did and became a very important part of my life that day and every day since then!

And now, I think I'm gonna try to turn into bed just a trifle earlier than my usual 2-3 a.m. or even later hour than that all too often. Since I have to be at the doctor's office by 10 a.m., it would be nice if I am wide awake for the drive over there and while I wait to get called back to see him. Would be a bit of a switch for him to enter the examining room and not find me sitting there with my head propped against the wall, trying to catch a couple extra winks of sleep, ya know!

I've been watching the TV show, "Hoarders" a lot lately -anyone else watch that program? And I'm wondering if maybe I could or should find someone who specializes in time management (as well as managing a few other aspects of house keeping or stuff like that -to bring myself in line so I can manage then to sleep in a timely fashion and get my butt organized so I can take care of my computer stuff -clearing my reader, sorting e-mail, answering e-mails and checking Facebook along with writing posts and doing some work on my old research projects while also getting a few little odd jobs in writing that I do from time to time, done in an easier, more organized fashion.

And, I am going to have to get this so-called "organization" done soon too because I am now in charge of getting things put together for our church women's group so we can produce a cookbook sometime over the coming months of favorite recipes from women of our church!

The President of our group got this stuff -information from a company that produces cookbooks of this type -and gave it all to me Tuesday night to get started on planning, gathering and producing this cookbook for our group. First thing I gotta do though is comb through the names of people from our parish for those who are talented in various aspects of the work involved in a project like this and as ChairPerson for this committee (currently a committee of one -ME) to talk to them and get them on board with me so that then, I can do the most important part of being Chairperson and that is to delegate, delegate and delegate some more! LOL

But considering how many cookbooks I currently have on my bookshelves here and how many websites I subscribe to that send me recipes daily or weekly and which by now should have resulted in my being a gourmet cook (but I am a far cry from that), I should find this new job to be one that will definitely hold my interest!

And then, once we get this masterpiece compiled and published, I can come here and advertise our new cookbook and all my blog readers can then have the honor of purchasing a fantastic cookbook from the chefs of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in little old Lanse, PA!

So make room on your bookshelves for this coming attraction. Okay?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Nervey People Anyway!

Sammy, our little dog, is normally about the sweetest, most lovable little mutt a body could ever hope to own!

He's super friendly and extremely good around children -especially small children who like to run and chase with him in the house and he even abides one small boy who likes to hang on him a good bit of the time too.

All in all, Sam is just the best possible dog one could ask to have -except for well maybe, one small thing.

Apparently Sam is operating on the mistaken belief that there are franchises for the road in front of our house and that he owns every one of them. And, with that in mind, that anyone who dares to walk in front of our house must, absolutely MUST be barked at and in the loudest possible dog voice imaginable too!

Sheesh, Sam! Give it a rest, will ya?

The neighbor from up the street is really allowed to walk past here -and to do it in peace too!

I know, I know -Sam's just exercising his good dog, I'm watching out for you, routine to show us he's really on the ball, paying attention to these things.

But one or two barks is all that's really necessary!

Ring-a-Ding and Bling a-Bling!

For quite some time now, the first thing -or almost the first thing -Maya does when she comes home from school is to go change her clothes.

And almost always, the apparel changing results in her wearing either one of her cheerleading outfits or one of her princess costumes!

Saturday night, when my older daughter and her family were here and we gathered to celebrate Aunt Carrie's birthday, Maya was wearing her "pretty in pink" Cinderella or Snow White -not sure which character -dress and insisted on practicing her ballet moves in it for all to see.

Thankfully, thus far, she isn't addicted to adding bling to these get-ups -no jewelry, as yet. But as she gets older, I'm sure that will come though -just like it did to her Aunt Carrie, who loves, loves, love jewelry and probably would like nothing better than to get her hands on some St. Maarten jewelry some how, some way!

I'm quite sure Aunt Carrie would love to manage to get a trip into the Virgin Islands first though so she could have a crack at the other things all available there too.

Wouldn't you?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

BIrthdays, Here and There!

This week's been a sort of busy one for me with birthday celebrations all around.

Thursday was my good friend Shirley's birthday and Friday, was her husband's day. I try to get cards for each of them and also, some little gift for Shirley too. Last year, I gave her a tabletopper I had done which had a cardinal in each corner. (She, like her Mom, is a big fan of cardinals and apparently her love for that bird, as well as her late Mom's too, rubbed off on me as well.)

This year though I knew what I wanted to get for her but wasn't sure if I could get it or not. She had pointed out to me a really cute apron -a fall design with pumpkins on it -that she had fallen in love with in the Herrschners' catalog and knowing that I follow Herrschners' special sales online each week, she had told me to be sure to let her know if this particular item ever went on sale.

Well, about a month ago or so, it did show up on their weekly sale and it was such a great sale price that I bought one to give to Shirley for her birthday as well as one to put in my stash for embroidering at a later date this year! The sale price was so good that I was able to get the two of 'em for less than what they normally sell just one apron for so I was really happy over that find. And, judging by Shirley's reaction when she opened the bag with her card and the apron in it -she jumped out of her chair and really squealed with delight when she saw it -made me feel really great to know she was very happy with my choice this year!

Tonight, we had a little family get-together mainly because this coming Wednesday will be my older daughter's birthday. I know I have mentioned her age to some of my readers in comments I have made on posts of theirs but I'm thinking I probably had best not announce her age here on my blog in case others are reading this (but don't comment) who Carrie might not want them reminding her, or knowing, when her birthday is and what age she is gonna be come Wednesday.

So, for the occasion, I cooked a nice-sized turkey breast, did mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, peas, fixed a bowl of apple/carrot and raisin salad plus a pan of cornbread. Mandy had picked up a really nice ice cream birthday cake today too for Carrie so we did have a really nice family meal and the cake was a big hit, especially with the two little ones.

I did try to video Alex -Carrie's son -lighting the candles on his Mom's cake and then, the family singing "Happy Birthday" to her but the darned video thing on my little digital camera seems to be acting up on me all the time now. It worked most of the time -actually, it appeared to be working fine while I was videoing the cake and singing, but when I played it back after downloading it to my computer, a little over half-way through the video, the darned thing goes a bit wonky on me with the video stopping but the audio continuing and then, the audio gets wonky and starts skipping like crazy too. But almost at the end, for some reason or other, all of a sudden the whole things speeds up at way faster than it should be! Go figure! If anyone knows what causes this to happen, please share the information with me, will ya?

For Carrie's birthday, I gave her the recently completed tablecloth I'd been working on for well over five weeks -just wanted to be sure to get it completed in time to give it to her for this occasion. This cloth is 52x70 inches and has two sprays of three different colored pansies in the center part along with two purple pansies on each side of those sprays in the center. Then, at each corner, it has a spray of three pansies with single purple pansies spread out along each side. Very pretty arrangement, if I do say so myself!

And Carrie knew I had been working on this cloth but I had never said who or what occasion I was doing it for so she was a little surprised then when I handed it to her tonight. I knew she really liked the cloth so at least I had no concerns over that while I was working on it -just was worried whether or not I'd be able to get it finished for her.

Here are the photos I took -while Mandy tried to hold the cloth up for me. Because of the dimensions on this cloth, it doesn't photograph well at all on the table we have had here because the table isn't really large enough to lay it out properly. (Well, that's all history now though because tonight, I got my son and grandson, Alex, to go down the street to the home of a friend who had this maple table -a fairly large one complete with two nice leaves for it too -that she was giving away! Yes, you read that correctly -she was giving it away and get this, the table is also a Broyhill! Okay, it probably will need to have the top sanded and refinished but that's a fairly minor chore to tackle when you think about the table being a Broyhill, isn't it -and especially since it was a freebie too!)

Clate and Alex had a fun time -NOT -trying to get the table into the house because my doorways are a bit on the smallish side plus, we already have so doggone much other "stuff" (Thank you George Carlin for that sidenote) in this old place but finally, we got it in and in place. Now, there is the issue of what to do with the table we had been using for the past 9 years and there was some discussion that perhaps my son and his girlfriend might be able to use it but I don't think he was all that hepped up on that idea.

His girlfriend, Elizabeth and I were discussing the table though and thinking of a way to maybe move a couple things around in the dining room and be able to still utilize the smaller table then too so after Mandy went to bed tonight, I moved the small buffet over to another wall and then, put the smaller table in front of the window in the dining room. It's functional enough that way that perhaps Mandy will go along with the program and leave it there. One nice thing about having the smaller table there is that the kids will still be able to use it then for playing with their games and playdough and such, plus both kids are really getting into jigsaw puzzles with Maya even getting quite proficient at working on slightly larger puzzles and having this table available means then the kids can also do bigger puzzles without having to rip them apart so we could then use the table for our meals too. And, not only that, but I now have a place in front of the dining room window where I can put a couple of house plants on there too!

Multi-purpose stuff -just the kind of "stuff" I like, ya know!

One last thing too -the silly dog of ours just adores Carrie, my older daughter and will not leave her alone whenever she comes up here. Tonight was no exception either as he jumped up onto her lap as soon as she sat down in one of the recliners and made it known to her -and everyone else too -that he wasn't about to get down from his little perch there either!

So, now that I've told you what we did tonight, I'm gonna try to show you via some photos of the tablecloth as well as Carrie and Sammy parked in the recliner too!

This is the center portion of the tablecloth - as you can see, there are two clusters of 3 pansies there and then, a single pansy in purple along each cluster.





These two shots show the clusters of pansies a bit better -or at least I am hoping they show up a bit better here than in the first picture!










And finally, here's Sammy, our sweet little mutt, in his favorite resting place whenever my daughter, Carrie, comes up here to visit!

I'd like to post the video of the kids watching Alex light the candles on his Mom's birthday cake, but right now, I'm trying to upload it to my facebook site and it is taking forever to complete. Perhaps tomorrow or Monday I can load the video into a post and put it up here then too!

Hope you all are having a great weekend -just as my family and I did!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Light It Up Blue!


If you aren't already aware of this, April is Autism Awareness month and yesterday and today have been marked too as days to "Light It Up Blue" to show everyone your awareness about autism and the prevalence of this disorder in our world-wide community.

As many of your are already aware, I am a strong -and extremely proud -supporter of the Autism Awareness campaigns. This has come about because not one but two of my grandchildren have Autism and their mother (my younger daughter, Mandy) and I -along with my other two children (Aunt Carrie and Uncle Clate), my older grandson, Alex and a whole host of other relatives as well as most of my neighbors and friends - have been in the learning realm about autism for the past almost six years now!

Eight years ago this spring, I was in my own little world that consisted primarily of a majorly blue funk -caused by unemployment, depression and an illness that began the task of turning my life around -a full 360!

I remember all too well the day in February of 2003 when Mandy came to me, so excited she could barely speak and shoved this thing in my face with instructions from her to "Look at THIS, Mom! LOOK. AT. THIS!

What the heck was that thing was the question in my mind and it took a bit for me to wrap it around me that she was showing me a home pregnancy test that was showing positive. No wonder she was so exhilarated! I should have been able to relate to her feelings having gone through the early signs of pending motherhood a couple decades earlier.

But I couldn't think of this coming event then in a positive light the way I had when I knew I was pregnant and especially how excited I was when my older daughter told me the news that I was going to be a Grandmother either.

And that fact depressed me even more than I already was. Not only did it depress me but it gave me this humungous guilt trip too that I rode for the next seven months or more as well.

All I could think of was how in bloody blue blazes are we going to manage the added work and expense -especially the expense -of a new baby in this household where we were already majorly strapped and could barely get by as it was. That, plus my concerns about what might be wrong with me that was causing me to feel so terrible, in so much pain most of the time and well, although I smiled and tried to feign excitement over Mandy's news, in private, it just reduced me to tears whenever I would dwell on the thought of a new baby.

Sure wasn't the way I had figured I would react to becoming Grandma again!

But over the next so many months, after being diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer and having chemo and radiation for six weeks, followed by surgery, which was supposed to be followed then by another round of chemo but that got delayed a bit because of some other issues I had developed after the surgery -like two herniated discs which made it darned near impossible for me to move around, even to sit or try to lay down and I was in pure misery.

After the doctors got me started receiving physical therapy for my back issues, eventually they also began the follow-up chemo therapy which meant that one week out of every month for the next seven months, I would get chemo daily.

To say life was a bit wild and hairy from June through October of that year would be a bit of an understatement -more so for Mandy though than for me. She was still working about 4 days a week, plus trying to juggle in with her work schedule all my therapy appointments, my chemo appointments PLUS her own prenatal appointments and believe you me, that was no easy task at all for her to try to keep things in order and getting both of us where we needed to be on time!

But finally, October rolled around and with it, on October 18th of 2003, my first granddaughter -Maya Kirsten -was born. By that time, I was feeling a good bit better and the day after Maya's birth, I actually drove, by myself, over to the hospital in Dubois (about 44 miles, one way -and the first time I had been able to drive further than a 20 mile trip alone too) to meet my new granddaughter.

Trust me when I tell you this -I was somewhat excited over the baby but still a bit on the low-key side. However, once in the room and as soon as Mandy handed her daughter over to me, for me to get a really good look at her and feel her softness, the warmth, smell the newborn baby scent, all the trepidation I had held deep inside me for the past 7 1/2 months just melted away!

I remember Maya looked up at me and as I gazed at those eyes in that beautiful little face, I was totally spellbound then and there and forever more by this little creature!

Of course, she was absolutely perfect in my eyes and also to her mother and all the rest of the family around us too. We all basked in the joy of having her with us as she made life completely worth living then!

As she grew though, at about 6-7 months of age, my older daughter and I noticed something a bit off with Maya and that was that she pretty much refused to make eye contact with us. That was our first indicator there was something amiss. Then it was that she seemed to not hear us so maybe she had a hearing problem but I ran my own little private, non-scientific test on her by turning on the TV set using the remote control. The remote made a very, very tiny sound -VERY tiny -and yet, she knew before the picture came up on the screen or the sound came through that the TV had been turned on and she was up, standing in her playpen, waiting to see what pictures would unfold before her. Yep! She had heard that tiny, tiny noise so I knew her hearing had to be fine!

Then, as she began walking, we noticed she pretty much ignored her toys as she would just as soon pick up a piece of scrap paper and run through the house, carrying that like a little flag for hours on end. Hmmm. That got us to thinking again that something just wasn't right.

I had made mention a couple of times to the pediatrician about my concerns there but she didn't seem to pay any attention to what I said until finally, when Maya was about 19 months old, she recommended we take her to see a specialist in Dubois -to have her hearing checked and also, she referred us over the the Healthy Beginnings program in Clearfield. (I think that's the name of it.)

The people who worked in this program came to the house and did an evaluation of Maya -which showed she had numerous developmental delays but the treatment they would recommend wouldn't be confirmed until we got the test results back from the ear doctor. When he said there were no problems with her hearing, the team that had evaluated Maya immediately set in to schedule two therapists to come to the house to work with Maya a couple times a week. First, there was a behavior/play therapist and then, a speech therapist and these two young women became and integral part of life in our home from then until Maya was almost 4 years old.

And then, we only got about a two month break in the therapist action because by then, Kurtis Maya's little brother who arrived 2 1/2 years after her, had been diagnosed as having autism too so, the therapists just stayed on working with him then. Plus we got a third therapist with Kurtis too -one for occupational therapy!

It will be 6 years in June since the first therapist arrived on our doorstep and today, we still have therapists who come to the house and work with the kids. Something for which I will be forever grateful as the work these folks have done with my grandkids is truly remarkable and without them, I have no clue what on earth Mandy and I would have done, how we would ever have been able to help Maya and Kurt to learn to talk, to learn to play productively and now, how to socialize too with their peers!

I realize that with my grandkids we have been extremely fortunate in that first off, we got intervention and therapeutic services done quite early on for each of the kids -and that is really of utmost importance. Plus, we are fortunate too in that Maya is extremely high functioning -actually is Asperger's Syndrome -and Kurtis too is relatively high functioning as well.

Just as in any other family, the differences that exist between each child -well, the same applies to these kids too. They both have their individual strong suites and each also has their areas of differences -or perhaps one could say their "weak" spots. But both of them are today doing fantastic.

Are they cured? Oh Hell no! Will they ever be cured? Probably not as I don't know of any "cure" that exists for autism. It's a factor of their lives that they are learning how to cope and contend just as we are learning too how to cope and contend with some of their quirky ways.

But the bottom line is, they are both just beautiful little people and I adore the living daylights out of both of them! They are smart, they are crafty, wily, mischievous, bratty, and some days, just plain bad, ornery and obnoxious too -just like their mother, aunt and uncle all were way before them!

In that respect, they are just like any other 7 or 5 year old -but just different usually in their perceptions of things and many of those perceptions, we can work on bringing about change for them so that they will then understand about life and the ups and downs it brings to all of us but many times, more frequently to them.

And finally, I wouldn't trade these two kids for love nor money, not for all the tea in China or anything else -and I sure as heck wouldn't change them either. Well, maybe a little bit where the sibling rivalry and bully factor kicks in with Maya as she loves to boss Kurtis around and he is developing just enough independence factors now that he really doesn't like when she does that to him.

Just like any other kids, really, in those age ranges.

Right?