Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dull Moments? Not Here!

So, I posted earlier today about the small war that almost erupted here this morning with Maya being totally jacked because Kurtis ate her little box of Cinnamon-Life cereal. Then, I got the phone call from the kids' BSC telling me that the activity originally scheduled for today at the Summer Program at the Bigler Playground had been changed and the tie-dying was going to take place tomorrow.

Keep in mind, any sudden changes of plans, particularly where Maya is concerned, can be quite detrimental to the adults around her and their peace of mind! That was my major concern that the change pertaining to the tie die might just trigger a monstrous kind of meltdown from Maya that her TSS would be left to deal with -pretty much alone.

But, I'm really happy to report that all's well that ends well and the transition at the playground program went off without a hitch! YES! What a relief it was to learn that didn't blow up on her TSS!

Kurtis and his TSS went to Curwensville Dam for the afternoon and that too went very smoothly -or as smoothly as things can go when one is accompanying a five-year-old who can talk non-stop and ask more questions at times than Carter has little Liver Pills -as that old saying goes!

Dawn -Kurt's TSS -reported to us that there are, I think she said, four separate swimming areas at that park at Curwensville Lake and Kurtis managed to hit all of them before Dawn said they had to leave to come home.

She said she had initially asked him if he wanted to go swimming or go fishing and he had selected the swimming -which was fine with her. However, when she told him they had to leave as it was time to come home, that spawned a good bit of whining and complaining and insistance then on going fishing because, after all, he hadn't gone fishing yet!

Yeah you just know this little guy was going to try to milk Dawn and the day at the lake for every ounce of fun he possibly could get out of it!

Mandy and Ken took Maya into Philipsburg then this evening for tonight's play practice and after that was over, she was going to Mandy's best friend's house to spend the night with Jenn-Jenn and Nick-Nick and their family -better known as Maya's other family and her home away from home.

Which is nice too -for me now -because my older grandson came up this evening, is spending the night here and early in the morning, he's going to be going up to a friend of ours -up the street a ways -to weed her garden for her -for a nice little chunk of "pin" money for his labors! But when he gets back from there, there will be no rest -or very little -for that weary young man as he'll get nailed then to help Grammy here ride herd on Kurtis the rest of the day!

Doesn't that just sound like excitement unlimited for an almost 14-year-old teen though? He's happy about it because he's had good training on weeding gardens from Robert -his Mom's fiance -plus, the fact that this task in the morning is a paying gig really trips his trigger too!

This evening though, after a lovely supper that Alex and I had of grilled delmonico steaks and fresh corn on the cob, we (Alex, Kurtis and I) drove up to Patty's house (our friend with the garden) so Alex and she could meet, face to face and she could show him then exactly what she wanted him to work on, etc., etc.

Now, the neat thing about going to Patty's place is that not only does she have a really super great garden but she also has a veritable mini-zoo at her place too!

She has chickens -about 100 of 'em -plus two turkeys and even a few ducks and Kurtis was in seventh heaven seeing all these fowl running around in her penned up region.

Here's a few of the pictures I took of our visit to Patty's farm, er zoo! First -her garden -so you can see all the stuff she has growing -and GROWING really large at that!

Here's a shot of some of the squash she has planted -on the left -and to the right -there's her tomato plants complete with some nice sized tomatoes on them already.

This is just a bird's eye view of the
tomatoes she has planted and they
are all as big as these plants if not
a lot larger! Incredible, really it is!




Left -another view of some other squash
plants she has -which are in blossom already! And on the right, lettuce, onions, spinach and well, who knows what else she has planted there but whatever it is, it's all growing big, tall and strong!


Now -to the animals!

Here's Patty as she introduced Alex and Kurtis to the duckling -all of 7-days-old -and which they refer to as their "Steelers" duck because he is black and gold. Appropriately enough, his name is Hines! (Actually, I think Patty was calling him Heinz -after the big company headquartered in Pittsburgh (think Ketchup, ya know) but I typed his name as being "Hines" as in Hines Ward, since the duckling is also referred to as being a "Steeler!"


Here's Alex holding the baby duckling, little
Hines, with Kurtis looking on to the left side and on the right, a closeup of Alex and the baby duck. Gotta admit, he sure is a cute and very soft, downy little thing!



An overview -to the left -of the chickens
-or some of 'em -in the chicken yard and on the right, here's Kurtis holding a handful of chicken feed and putting his hand through the fence to allow the chickens to eat right out of his little hands! Brave little guy he was there tonight!

There's "Papa" duck to the left, as
he was strutting around the yard.
And on the right, Patty's holding a
feathered foot Banty chicken -a
rooster, no less! (Did you know they can grow up to be really mean little
creatures? Remind me sometime to
tell you about the three Banty roosters I had when I was about Kurt's age!


And, last but not least, here's Patty showing us what has to be the most unusual chicken I've ever seen! This is a Polish chicken, named for the region of France where it originated but it is also known at the Top Hat Chicken (if I remember the information Patty gave us about this bird correctly anyway!) This particular chicken really fascinated me -first because I'd never seen or heard of this variety before and also, because I was actually in awe of how beautiful this bird is! Really, it is quite pretty to see.

And so, that now ends the garden and zoo tour for today but, the evening is still young and there was still more excitement yet to come!

About 9:30 p.m., I got a phone call from my son, who had a big favor to ask of me. He wanted me to find a towing company or a mechanic in or around the Williamsport area who could go out on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80 and locate his girlfriend, who was stuck there with my son's big old yellow banana colored, old Chevy pickup truck which was sporting a big old flat tire!

Hmmm. How the heck was I gonna do that anyway?

Mandy suggested I contact the State Police Barracks here in our region and see what they suggested could be done to get some assistance out there to Elizabeth, his girlfriend.

And that's exactly what I did then too. The trooper here at our Barracks gave me the number of the State Police Barracks at Lamar as he wasn't sure exactly which Barracks would handle that region and so I called the State Police at Lamar. The trooper on the desk there took Elizabeth's phone number and contacted her, giving her the number of the next State Police station up the line -which was the one whose jurisdiction she is broke down at and they in turn, would then send a trooper out to stay with her until they got either a tow truck or a mechanic that could/would come out and tow her in or fix the tire for her!

So now -just like those old time serial movies -think "Perils of Pauline" ya know -that's where I'm gonna bring this post tonight to an end.

Stay tuned for further information on how Miss Elizabeth fared with getting the old pickup truck fixed, back on the road again.

I would say the next clip is "Film at 11" but that might not be timely as we don't know how long it's going to take for the police to find someone to assist her in her hour of need.

But, rest assured, I'll keep you posted!

Aversion and the "End of the World" scenario!

Before I get into writing about my "topic" of today, here's the photo I was attempting to post yesterday in my introduction of our newest member of the family into my blog. Here's Sammy and his new BFF, Miss Pearl PurrBall, all curled up together in a family-friendly way in the blue recliner. They were both pretty exhausted after having spent a good bit of the previous evening racing and chasing each other back and forth through the living room, dining room and kitchen.

Now, on to my story du jour.

Today is a day that holds big plans for me, for Miss Maya and also for Master Kurtis too. It's the day when I meet up with my good friends from my high school (and elementary school too) days for lunch but it's also a day when Mandy is working and that would normally leave me here with both kids. And to have that happen today would normally have meant that I'd be taking both grandkids to lunch with me. Not that that would be a terrible thing, but with these two, it can sometimes be more than a bit risky as one never knows how well they are going to behave under any circumstances, even those they are very familiar with much less something that is a rare occasion type thing.

So, to try to ward off any problems with the kids, Mandy had made arrangements that Miss Maya will be leaving early this morning to spend some quality time at the Bigler Playground with Miss Brittany (her TSS) as they enjoy participating in the summer fun program at that place and Kurtis will be leaving too -around 11:30 a.m., to go for some fun activity with Miss Dawn, his TSS. And all that would then leave me to go to my lunch with my friends without the worry of meltdowns happening between an almost 8-year-old and her 5-year-old little brother!

YES! A great game plan -or so it did seem to be but it almost got blown out of the water before anyone ever got out of the house and on their way to having a great, fun-filled summer vacation day.

And all of it almost came to an end over one simple little individual sized box of cereal!


This is one of those things that when a certain little girl has something fixated in her mind, everything had better ALL come together just right -or else.

So, this morning when Kurtis got up (he woke up first) and came down, he spied this box of cereal, one of those little individual-size boxes of cereal, of Cinnamon-Life, sitting on the dining room table and asked me if he could have that.

"Sure! Go for it!" I told him and he brought it over for me to open it for him and then, sat down at the table to proceed to munch it down.

Then, when he was almost finished with said box of cereal, Maya got up and wandered into the dining room and that's when all Hell began -or had the potential -to break loose as she asked me, "Where's my box of cereal?" Looking at her little brother sitting there, chowing down she realized he was eating that Cinnamon-Life stuff that she had earmarked as being hers -apparently having decided last night that it was what she would want, would have to have then for her breakfast this morning.

And then, the war was on!

"KURTIS! You're eating MY cereal! WHY are you eating MY cereal? That was MY cereal and you took that deliberately and you're eating it and that is wrong and bad, bad, BAD!" And with that, she took off after him, ready to grab him and do a throw-down with him getting the bad end of the stick, ya know.

I tried and tried to explain to her -for roughly 15 minutes at least -that it was not Kurtis who was at fault here but rather it was my fault because I was not aware that she had made distinct plans, which were apparently of utmost importance to her tastebuds too and no other cereal could ever possibly be used as a satisfactory substitute either!

Boy, when an obsession enters into her world, Katie bar the door because you're gonna have to find just the right thing to use to talk to Maya and get her to calm down and accept that from time to time, things happen and we all have to adjust a bit and accept that and be just a tad flexible.

Finally, she did calm down enough that she looked over the individual cereal boxes and the selections there and settled on a box of Trix for her breakfast.

So, by the time Miss Brittany arrived to take her to their destination at the Bigler Playground, Maya was dressed, fed and in a fairly decent mood too!

Then as they went to leave, Brittany inquired about Maya's booster seat to use in her car and sheesh, wouldn't you just know it, but Gram couldn't find it! Where in the heck had that thing gone anyway? I hunted all over the downstairs of the house and no booster seat anywhere to be found. So eventually, I told Britt to just strap her into the back seat of her car sans the booster seat because, technically, Maya is big enough to not have to have a booster seat to ride in the car. (Yes, she's tall for her age so we can, if need be, get around that requirement for her from time to time.)

They were just leaving the house when the phone rang and as I went to answer the phone, they went out and got in Brittany's car and pulled away.

And on the phone -Miss Renee -the Behavior Specialist in charge of the case loads for each of the grandkids and their TSS, calling to tell me that she had just learned that the plans for today's activities at the Playground had been changed, postponed until tomorrow!

Oh, brother! I don't know how imbedded it was in Maya's mind about the tie-dying that the kids were supposed to do today and which had been changed to take place tomorrow so I told Renee that if she's still in an obsessive-oriented mindset this morning, she might need to think of something, gather up her wits and come up with words to use that could possibly avert the potential of a meltdown there at the Playground.

Hopefully, she will accept the change nicely for Renee and Brittany but that's something I guess I'll just have to be on pins and needles about until they return later this afternoon!

It really is amazing how easily the smallest things can go haywire with these two kids -Maya, especially -as change is often something that must come about in stages and it's not advisable to jump head-long into these things or you wind up risking a massive meltdown from her and the potential for bodily harm being inflicted on her little brother too at times!

This whole scene this morning, as angry and upset as Maya was and the way she took after her little brother, beginning to push and shove him around, had the potential of his ending up on his butt or face down on the floor and hurt and me searching around maybe for some kind of cautery equipment to stop the bleeding, ya know! (Well, thankfully it didn't reach that kind of climax here but there is always that kind of risk involved with these kids when they get an idea, especially one about possessions and what belongs to who and any thought of the harm they could do to their siblings, or a pet or even an adult, flies right out the window!)

I'm just thankful that things did calm down though and hoping too that she will accept the changes that have been made at the Playground without any major incident there too!

On another note though with Miss Maya -last night, I had to take her into Philipsburg to attend her play practice session. The Front and Centre Theatre Company for local kids in the area is going to be doing "The Jungle Book" this summer -it will be presented sometime in mid-July -and Maya has a part in this production. She's going to be one of the elephants so she's busy learning the dialogue and lots and lots of new songs too.

After practice ended and we were on our way home, as we got close to a little local restaurant that most everyone around here refers to as either "The Pumpkin House" or "The Orange Pumpkin" I asked Maya if maybe she would like an ice cream cone from there as a treat. She responded quickly with an affirmative and when I was almost to the drive to pull into the place, she then remarked to me that "Oh, they aren't open today so we can't get a cone there!"

Say what? And then it dawned on me that she was right in that the Pumpkin House is closed on Wednesdays! Boy, talk about a good memory! This kid sure has me beat as I had forgotten completely about it being Wednesday and that they are closed on that day every week but she -this seven-year-old -had remembered that little tidbit!

So, I did some thinking about what we could do to substitute for that soft-serve cone and it dawned on me that the little Pizza Shoppe in Kylertown maybe still served cones. So I pulled in there and sure enough, there in the window was the advertisement that they had "hand-packed ice cream cones!"

Ah, good -I'd been rescued!

So in we went and she decided she would like a cone with peanut butter ice cream. I ordered a small (one dip) cone for her and a double-dipper for myself. As the attendant began to scoop out the ice cream for Maya's cone, she remarked that the peanut butter ice cream was actually pretty soft last night and did I still want her ice cream in a cone or would I prefer that she put the ice cream in a cup?

I laughed and told her to go ahead and finish dipping it out into a cone as either way, I figured by the time Maya was finished eating the treat, she would have dripped a goodly bit of the delectable on herself anyway.

We got our cones (I changed my order though to strawberry -yummmmm!) and got back into my jeep and as Maya settled in her seat, she remarked to me that she couldn't fasten her seatbelt then because she had that ice cream cone she had to hold on to with one hand. So I had said we would just sit there in the jeep and eat our cones and then, when we were finished, we could worry about fastening her seat belt for her.

When we were ready to leave, I got out to hook her seat belt and saw she was still holding on to her cone but that she had eaten all the ice cream out of it without so much as a little tiny nibble on the cone.

"Aren't you going to eat the cone?"

To my surprise, she said "NO! I don't eat the cones!" And with that, she handed me the empty cone to be disposed of.

As I walked to the trash cane, the attendant was sweeping up the shoppe, getting ready to close down for the night and I mentioned to her that if ever I came in there again with Miss Maya in tow and ordered a cone for her, to remind me to have the ice cream put in a cup please because the child does NOT eat the cones!

Oh, the things one learns each and every day with these two kids!

Always something and often, things that don't go quite the way of the initial game plan can also become something of an "End of the World As We Know It" kind of scenario too!

Just one more thing to try to keep old people -like me -on your toes, ya know!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changes!

Things happen all the time, sure they do. But sometimes things change a bit unexpectedly and sometimes, they are even good changes that occur that way too!

Take my household for example. Yes, there are days when I think that I really wish someone would come a long and literally TAKE my household and all the worries, work and cares that go with it all away from me, from us.

Sometimes, but thankfully, not very often that I wish for that.

Sometimes, I make little decrees or vows too about our home and things that are or aren't acceptable, but then, something happens to change my mind about that too.

Like my rule made about a year ago when we were really overwhelmed by the prolific nature of cats and we had two mama cats at that time with a grand total of 11 -yes, 11 -kittens running around here!

For a while, with that many kittens, we had an old pac'n'play set up in the kitchen to contain those many kittens and it served as a mutual feeding zone then for both the mama cats to tend to their young.

Normally, I don't mind cats and usually, I do love kittens but lets face it, having 11 little kittens all running all over the house at the same time -well, that was a bit much!

So, we found homes for not just the kittens but for the two mama cats too.

But, we kept one kitten -the cutest little male, orange and white, with a huge fluffy tail and we named him FlufferNutter -or FluffNuts, for short.

And I told Mandy that I wanted NO MORE cats! End of discussion!

Or so I thought.

But this past Friday night, Mandy discovered this sweet little kitten that had somehow been left behind in the house two doors up from us when the occupants there had moved out. This kitten had somehow got to an open window somewhere and fallen out to the ground and was out in the rain when Mandy found her and of course, she had to bring her home, to give her shelter and yes, of course, we ended up falling in love with her too and are keeping her.

She is, obviously (one look at her and another look at FluffNuts tells the story of part of her parentage) is FluffNuts' daughter and not just in appearance either.


From the very first when Mandy brought her into the house, she and Sammy made up and became friends and good playmates too. Just the same way that Sammy and Fluffnuts had become friends when Fluffer was a kitten -except in that case, it had taken Sammy about a month of nosing around the kittens before FluffNuts began to open up and play with him but apparently his daughter is a lot more receptive to dogs and/or to being very playful.

So now, after a lengthy discussion period we have come to an agreement on what to call this cute little feline - Pearl, the Purr-ball!

I was going to post a photo here too of Miss Pearl and Sammy, resting up in the blue recliner after a hearty time and chasing around the downstairs of the house but apparently Blogger doesn't like that picture as it won't let me load it to my post here. So, maybe later Blogger will become cooperative and allow the picture to be added but till then, you'll just have to take my word for it that Pearl is a little cutie-pie, sweetheart of a kitten!

I've been busy doing more embroidery work -of course, what else would I be doing here anyway! No pictures as yet of the newest stuff I have completed but I've been concentrating on embroidering hand towels over the past week now. So far, I have finished three sets of these terry cloth towels and am almost finished now with a fourth set. (Only have four more kits waiting for me to get them done too then! Always something waiting for me to work on in that department!)

Today, Mandy and Ken are working -painting at an assisted living home in this region and Maya just left with her TSS, Brittany, for a day at the Bigler Playground to begin attending their summer program there. This will also involve a trip to the swimming pool in Osceola Mills with Miss Brittany too so she should have a fun-filled day then for sure!

That just leaves Gram and Kurtis to spend the day together -quality time, ya know.

But when he woke up around 10 a.m., I was a bit concerned about how much "quality" there was gonna be in our time together because he evidently had awakened to find himself on the "wrong side of the bed" as he was wailing and moaning and not being very hospitable at all!

I thought for sure he would be really excited to rise and shine this morning once he realized that the men who are installing a new water line along our street now were today, working on this project right in front of our house -complete with a digger and a truck to haul the tanker thingy - part of what is called a "ditch witch" that is parked out front now too. But he didn't even want to hear about that being here, much less watching the guys at work at first. However, eventually he cried himself out and ventured downstairs and now, seems to be in a much better mood, more receptive to viewing the sights outside now at any rate!

Maybe that change will work out to bring about a good day here after all!

I sure do hope so anyway!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Sheesh! I didn't realize it had been over a week since I posted here! I must have been really, really busy -or very pre-occupied -not to have noticed such a large gap in posts.

Well, I have been a bit busy though -between the normal thing of embroidering every chance I get and things going on with the kids, plus a drive yesterday down to Pittsburgh (with Mandy, Kurtis and his TSS going along with us for the day-trip) and also, from time to time, actually doing a little work in my poor, very neglected little vegetable patch!

I also had a very nice time Monday evening too when, along with seven (I think that's how many there were) other women from our church, I went to an "indoor" picnic given by the women of the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church down in Karthaus, PA. What a nice evening that was as we all enjoyed plenty of good company and conversation along with some great food! Thanks to all the ladies of their WELCA group for a very entertaining evening!

But anyway, I don't think I've been exactly overloaded with so many things to do that I couldn't have taken a few minutes of my very valuable time to do a post and I'm sorry I've been so lax there. I know everyone who reads my blog has just been waiting and waiting, wondering where on earth I've been, why I have written nothing at all here for over a week now.

Well, this morning though, I decided I HAD to write a post after I'd gone outside in the backyard to check on my lovely little vegetable garden.

Unfortunately, what I saw there today makes my poor little garden not so very lovely today!

Here's some pictures of the stuff growing -or in some cases -trying to take hold and grow -in my little space. Theses pictures were all taken this past Monday -a mere five days ago.

To the left, you can see the top of my garden with the little row of leaf lettuce (which I really love and it's very tender and good right now), almost 3 nice rows of onions and on the far left, is a row of spinach that seems to be doing okay. In the photo to the right, there's my green beans -which are going very nicely , a short row of snow peas and then various little hills of squash that is also coming along quite well too.

Here's the lower part of my garden with another picture to the left that shows more squash plants.

The picture here on the right is where I have tomatoes and peppers -green bell peppers and jalapenos -planted but it's pretty hard to make out where they are as the plants are very small -much smaller than I would have liked them to be when transplanting them but they really needed the extra space to grow outside of the little starter box I had them in. I had started 18 little peat pots of tomatoes and roughly 40 little pots (very tiny peat pots, these were) of green bell peppers and jalapenos peppers but not very many of them actually grew to a size that I thought maybe they would take root and grow better if planted in the garden.)

But this morning, when I ventured down to the little garden, I was stunned by what I saw there!

My peppers and tomatoes are still struggling but most of them, at least, are still alive. The lettuce, onion, spinach and squash is all doing very well too. As a matter of fact, I picked a whole slew of lettuce today, washed, cleaned and patted it dry and then, put it into large zip-lock storage bags with the intent to take a couple bags of fresh leaf lettuce to church tomorrow to place on the Harvest Table there where others can take a bag or two -whatever they like -home for a free will donation to one of four various funds we're promoting people donate to. (This is a new program at our church and thus far, seems to be fairly well received thus far too. I know I really appreciated being able to pick up some freshly grown asparagus along with a couple bunches of rhubarb too a couple weeks ago there and boy, was that asparagus ever wonderful, cooked in foil on the grill! YUMMY!)

But anyway -this is what I saw when I looked over my two, formerly well-formed, lovely rows of green beans!

I looked at those green bean plants and I confess that I muttered, under my breath, WTF!

If you can click this picture and look closer at the plants, you should be able to see that the upper layer of leaves that were gracing these plants this past Monday disappeared overnight last night!

If you try really, really hard to look at these two rows, you might even be able to see a faint trace along the upper part of the picture, between the two rows of beans, the hoof prints that were there this morning that indicate at least one, probably two, doggone deer have decided to launch a dining program for themselves on my poor little green beans!

All the rest of the stuff I have planted is still growing, still seems to be thriving and also, seem to be untouched by the deer's nibblings.

But these beans -WOW! It just looks like someone came through with a set of hedge clippers and very nicely -very evenly too, I might add -snipped away at those plants.

The nerve of Bambi and his mother to do that to my garden!

I'm really gonna be rooting now, come deer season this fall, that Ken or one of the other nearby hunters here, takes those deer out of the population!

Can you believe it? This is the first time since I've been trying to grow a little victory garden of sorts that I've had any interlopers like this invade my plants! As a matter of fact, when I think back to when I was a child and my Grandpa always, ALWAYS, had a huge vegetable garden in our back fields, I don't recall ever seeing plants scavenged the ways these were!

Oh, from time to time, rabbits would come through an feast a while on Grandpa's veggies -mainly the carrot tops and they liked to dine a bit on the lettuce every now and again as well, but I don't recall ever having seen this kind of munching that apparently has taken place in my little plot!

First time for everything I suppose and this sure was a big first for me!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lady Luck -Missing in Action!

The past week or two have had more than a few ups and downs showing up around the family -or so it seems at times.

Things began to change -initially for the better -when my son's girlfriend got hired on at the local truckstop as a waitress. She likes working there and has been doing quite well with the job, so that's an event in the up -the plus department.

But about a week after she started working there, one night when she came home from work, her cellphone fell out of her grip and when she looked at it once inside the house, she realized that the screen had shattered so guess who had no cellphone service then! She was sort of relieved by this in a way because that particular phone had been giving her a lot of problems so she got herself a nice new phone then to replace it. (I'm betting though that she was really relieved when that phone shattered that it hadn't been a Blackberry playbook! That would really make me ill if I had one of those and it got dropped and broken!)

The drawback to getting the new phone though was that she had to wait about ten days for it to be delivered to her and ten days with no means of communication can seem like an eternity, for sure. I know it would be that even to me!

But then in the meantime, she and my son signed up to get a three-for-one deal through Verizon to receive high speed internet connectivity along with tv cable service and also, a landline phone. And yes, they did get a very good deal with that set-up -one that beats my own deal with our cable company for the same type of service by being about $50 less per month. That really irritates me too though at the same time because although we all live in the same little village, they can get high-speed connectivity plus cable and all that through Verizon up on the hilltop where they live, while those of us who live down in the valley -or the gully part of town -can't get that same service. That's even though for the past 5-6 years now Verizon has been promising us, year after year, that "It's coming. It's coming!" And yet, nothing ever changes or comes our way down in this neck of the woods. That's unfair, in my opinion.

That little guy from Verizon who runs around with a cellphone glued to his ear saying "Can you hear me now?" really needs to pay a big old visit to my street here in this town!

This week now, a little more of the bad luck stuff came by to visit my son's girlfriend as her little boy -almost 3 years old -came down with pink eye in both eyes PLUS chicken pox this week! Can you imagine having all that at the same time? Poor little fellow. He's such a little cutie and I hate to see a little kid sick from any of that stuff much less two yucky things at once. Hope he gets over it all quickly though.

But in the middle of all this, there were some good things and even a bit of humor too.

I finished yet another tabletopper this week -a Christmas one with red poinsettia leaves in a circle around the edges and gold stars in the background and it turned out pretty nice. Now, I'm working on doing a set of guest towels for -well, who knows who or what these will be for! Maybe doing them just for my health or for posterity's sake or well, whatever.

But the other evening, it was little Kurtis who gave us a big laugh as he began to munch on a treat after finishing his supper. His treat? A banana nut muffin.

Mouth full of the concoction, he looked at Mandy and said, "Boy, this is a really, really good banana stud muffin, Mom."

Where the heck did he learn that line from anyway?

Father's Day

This coming Sunday as we all know is Father's Day - a big holiday, at least in this country. Not quite as high on the scale -or so the media says -as Mother's Day -but a big one, at least for many people none the less.

It's also a holiday I never had the opportunity to celebrate with my Dad and a day that was often a bit empty for my kids too.

Why? Well, for openers -for me -it was because I never knew my Dad. He died of cancer 17 days after I was born and had seen me one time -when I was 10 days old. For my kids, it was because their Dad and I divorced when our children were ages 12, 6 and 3 and he moved around a lot after that -eventually settling out in Nevada -which is a mere 2,000 plus miles away so visiting him, developing a strong relationship with their Dad when they were growing up was a very difficult thing for them to do.

The fact that until my younger daughter was a senior in high school he was still drinking -very heavily -figured a lot into that relationship building thing too.

It's pretty hard to find common, pleasant ground for conversations on the telephone, to get to know and be able to respect and really care for someone, who isn't exactly lucid during those times and whose telephone calls to the kids back then were few and far in between them too!

Thankfully though, he did finally get sober and since then, he does try now and again to have a bit more contact with the kids. We do joke about the phone calls to and from him though because he's not one who is prone to making a lot of calls and when he does talk to the kids, they time the conversation. Any phone call to or from Dad that lasts over seven minutes is considered to be something unique -a bit of a record breaker the one time that he talked for a little over ten minutes to Mandy!

But at least they talk to each other and that's the important thing, isn't it? Regardless of whether it's a really short call or the "normal" length of seven minutes or a record breaking ten minutes of chit-chat, it's the reaching out and touching thing -that's what it's all about.

At least, they know a lot more about him, who he really is, what he likes, what he thinks about and what he's done, what he's doing too with his life today.

They know too a lot about his little quirks from these calls as well as from stories I have told them over the years too about what their Dad is like -or was like, when we first got married, or when each of the kids came along or well, lots of other things about him, as well as his siblings and his parents too.

I wanted my kids to know their Dad in a way that would help them to understand more about themselves -who each of them is and a bit about why they are how they are today.

Things I never knew when I was growing nor did I know these things throughout my adult life either until about 10 years or so ago.

As a child, my Mom and I lived with her parents and though I knew most of my Dad's family -or at least some of them (the ones who lived fairly near to us anyway), I knew my Mom's family much, much better. For that matter, to this day I still know my Mom's family much better than I do my Dad's. But that's pretty understandable that I would have that connection to them that is stronger than the one with my Dad's family.

As a child -even a fairly young child of six or seven -I began having these feelings that there was some part of me that was incomplete -missing, ya know. Well, yes sure there was and I knew what it was too -it was my Dad. But what the heck was I ever going to be able to do about that anyway? Nothing, absolutely nothing -or so it seemed to me.

I remember often asking my Mom questions about him -what was he like, what did he like and the regular things I suppose all kids tend to ask about a parent who is absent. But maybe I didn't know how to word my questions to her in a way that would have prompted her to give me the information I needed because all she ever really said about him was to tell me what he looked like -his build, his physique, eye color, hair color -a physical description that was nice to know, sure, but I wanted to know who he was, deep inside, the things he thought about, the things he liked or disliked, the things he would enjoy doing. I wanted to know the inner workings of this man who provided half of my genetic structure so I could know then if I was like him in any way at all -on the inside, that is.

I knew he was -at 5'8" -the tallest of his family -of the nine children his parents had brought into this world. I always kind of felt like a giant around my Dad's brothers and sisters because I was taller than they were. I think the tallest of my uncles was around 5'4" and my aunts -oh my -all three of them were very, very petite! My oldest aunt was 4'9" and my youngest aunt, was 5'1 with the other aunt, about 5 foot even! I towered over them at 5'6" and my body structure was more like my Mom's family -kind of bigger boned, sturdy Scandinavian stereotypical but a brunette, not a blonde.

I was often told as a child that I had my Dad's eyes -or the Hill's blue eyes -and that always made me feel a bit better but more than that, the fact that I knew from the few photos I had seen of my Dad that I had also inherited what was a really good thing and that was the Hill nose! (The noses on many relatives on my Mom's side of the family was often something that was joked about -as well as the ears too -as both of those things often had a tendency to be a bit large, not as nicely shaped as was the nose on my Dad's side of the family!)

But knowing those things still wasn't enough to satisfy me, to give me the sense of self that I know now that it was I was looking to find when I asked these questions about my Dad.

As an adult, I kind of gave up on trying to "find myself" by knowing more about my Dad and his family -or at least, I gave up on asking questions that might give me that knowledge from my Mom. So I then turned to my Dad's youngest sister and began -after Mom died and the urge to learn more about myself became strong once more within me -to see if she could or would shed more light on my Dad for me.

However, she couldn't seem to grasp the concept of the things I wanted to know about him either and as a result, she generally told me the same things or very similar bits and pieces about him that Mom had always told me. She did however always add one more thing to the mix and that was "Your Dad was a wonderful man!"

Well, I am very happy to have learned that, certainly -and it is sort of helpful -but well, close but no cigar there too, if you know what I mean.

Then I began trying to learn more about my ancestry by researching family trees on both sides of my family -eventually I even started researching four trees -two on my Mom's side and two on my Dad's side. That move, which really fascinated me, did just the opposite though when my youngest aunt on his side found out I was doing this.

She just saw no usefulness whatsoever in, as she put it, "Looking for the names of a bunch of dead people!"

I, on the other hand, with each bit and piece I managed to cobble together about my Grammie Hill's side -the Nelson's -or my Grandfather's family way out west in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and even up in Alberta, Canada -felt like a hole deep inside of me was suddenly being filled.

One day, a cousin I had "found" via an online ancestry search site shared a picture she had recently received of my Grammie's father -my Great-Grandfather, Alex Nelson from Scotland -and as I looked at that photo of this man -born in 1849 -died in 1919 -and saw what a very handsome man he'd been and could see in him a likeness my Dad had of him too -I sat staring at my computer screen with tears streaming down my cheeks!

Eventually, I learned a few other things about that great-grandfather too. That he was a coal miner I'd already known -but then again, so was most every other man of that era in this region -but I found out via a 2nd cousin of my Dad's that this ancestor played the fiddle and that my Grammie played piano and/or an old pump organ -and that the two of them often were asked to provide the music for dances held to raise a little money to be given to miners and their families during some of the strikes in the coal mines that put people in some terrible financial binds until things would finally be resolved. The cousin who told me about that said that Grandpa Nelson would fiddle away at these dances all for the payment of a bottle of whiskey to enjoy while entertaining the troops, as it were.

I learned both my Great-grandfathers on my Dad's side of the family were twice married and had a family with each wife and that each of them ended up having 12-14 children that way too!

I learned that my Great-Grandmother Hill had died in Illinois -in a place called East Morris in Grundy County -and she died as a result of having been hit by a train! Can you imagine that? A train? At the time of her death, she and my Great-grandfather had six children -the youngest being four years of age and the oldest -my grandfather -was 15 years old. Six months later, my Great-Grandfather married again -a widow, from the same area in Scotland as he and my great-grandmother had been born. Great-Grandpa Hill went on to have six more children by his second wife.

At the time when my Great-grandmother Nelson died, she and Grandpa Nelson had five young children. He, like my other great-grandfather, also apparently wrote back to someone in Scotland and by the sound of things, apparently had a lady from his hometown come here within the year after his wife's passing. They married and had nine children giving him the grand total of 14 offspring.

Yep! Those Scots were a bit of a prolific bunch now weren't they?

Through some good fortune of online research, I lucked out and found cousins also researching both of the branches of my Dad's family -one who had been researching the Hill family roots for over 13 years and had documentation up one side and down the other about family members I never would have been able to uncover on my own since that branch of the family -all except for my Grandfather Hill -lived out in Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, Canada and Arizona with more than a few now living in lots of other western states now too!

Getting the various bits and pieces about my ancestry gave me more and more information on what these people had been like and that, in turn, also gave me more knowledge about my Dad that way too.

Because of that emptiness I had often experienced throughout my life, it all didn't really finally come together for me until around 2000, I met -for the first time -one of my oldest uncle's daughters and in talking to her, she understood what it was that I wanted to know about my Dad -what he was like as a person, ya know -and she talked to me at our Aunt's home -the old homestead of my Dad and hers -about what she remembered about how my Dad was when he was around her and her 9 siblings! Telling me how he would often show up at their house when they were youngsters on Christmas Eve, helping her Mom and Dad get things ready for Christmas celebrating and also, insisting that the kids -she and her siblings at that time -be awakened and brought downstairs because the excitement inside him -my Dad -was so strong that he insisted the kids be allowed to be up and given gifts then and there!

It's nothing big and earth-shattering to hear this little story about him and his ways, but it still opened the information highway for me and gave me a little more insight into what he loved to do and that was to enjoy time with his nieces and nephews! That he loved to tease them -just as their own Dad liked to do too. Little things that he and her Dad had in common brought my Dad to life for me -finally!

And to think it took me almost sixty years but finally, I had a better sense of who he was and what gifts I'd been given by him in the way of family traits -beside my blue eyes and not too large a nose!

And now, when I have a chance, I find myself drawn more and more to my cousins on that side of my family tree because there are things about them, their actions, activities, likes, dislikes, and such, that are more like mine than are some things I've known all my life about family on my Mom's side.

And for me, it does make me feel a lot more like a completed person -finally!

I'll close this post now with a picture I received about a year ago from a cousin -one of the few Hill cousins I actually knew as I was growing up -and it is of my Dad, holding that cousin who was about six months old at the time. This was taken roughly six months before I was born, six months before my Dad died, and it is a picture that to me, as I look at the man in this old black and white photo, I feel like I can through the smile on his face, see the sparkle in his eyes and the happiness he experienced as he held this little niece of his and through that, I can know more maybe than words can ever tell me about my Dad.

I look at this snapshot and I also see so many ways that my son looks very much like his grandfather. And that too, is another source that makes me feel a little bit closer then to my Dad in the process.

All of this doesn't mend the fact that I never knew him the way I wish it would have been, but it does bring me just that much closer to knowing what he was about anyway.

And maybe, just maybe, it also explains a bit about why I am the sentimental slob that I am too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Need Vs. Want

For years now -well, since my kids were old enough to -hopefully -be able to comprehend the difference between things they wanted and things they needed, that has always been a principle I tried -and tried -to teach them.

Now, I find myself beginning down that instructional road pertaining to that principle again but with a small child AND with an adult who both need to learn -or re-learn -that theory.

These days, the small child I am beginning to try to explain this idea to is Miss Maya -my seven-year-old granddaughter.

Granted, she is a bit young to understand this concept but I figure if I try to start in with teaching her this now, by the time she hits her teenage years, maybe, just maybe, it will be clarified in her mind.

When my kids were being taught this theory by me, the argument they frequently gave me about how much they NEEDED a particular item -which inevitably I had already told them there was no money available for purchases that were for want only; that there had to be a genuine need for whatever it was they were requesting -they would try to point out to me all the various reasons they could think of to explain why they really, really, really needed this item. And I would counter then too with all the many reasons -mainly that I didn't have money available for this -and it was too bad, so sad, sorry for your luck, Kid.

Then usually if it was one of my girls wanting something they would tell me but it's available in MY size, in just the right color, etc., and I'd counter that with a wait till it goes on sale. Which of course, they would then respond with a "But by then, that size or color will be gone." And to that, I had the final answer of "Well if that's the case, then you really didn't need it after all, I guess."

I thought all along I had the argument sewn up then. I thought too that my logic about want vs. need was a darned good idea to teach my kids about financial responsibility and such.

Well, in theory, I still think it's a valid piece of logic, however -and don't you just hate when there's a "however" tossed into the mix -as I mentioned above, I'm now faced with using that argument, that logic, about want vs. need not just with my granddaughter but also with an adult who really needs help -a refresher course -you could say I suppose.

Who is the adult in this little dilemma, you ask?

Well unfortunately -it's me!

Now I know when I say I want a Winnebago Wagon RV, that still comes under the header of the want category as I definitely don't need one of those. But I do really still WANT one anyway. But I definitely will never, ever be able to afford something like that if my only income from until the end of my days is just my Social Security check!

Then I think about other things I want -a new car, for openers -and that one, well it's still a big want, but it does have shades of need involved. But again, it takes a back seat too based on my income level -which is way too low to be considering such a purchase at this point in time.

Other things I want too -the ability to pay off my medical bills; the ability to be assured we will have adequate funds available to buy fuel oil for the furnace so we can heat this house during next winter; the ability to be able to afford to purchase gas for whatever vehicle is still running too for the next year -as well as groceries and such -now those are all legitimate wants AND needs and those things have to come first before even thinking at all about any other purchases.

But you know what, there is something else I have figured out too that not only do I want this but I really, really do need it and that's a way to make money fast!

Now if I could do that, it would definitely solve all my wants and needs, wouldn't it?

Well, maybe not for the Winnebago Wagon RV, but I'm not trying to be greedy here, ya know!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Check Engine Light

This past Saturday, I had a few minor errands I had to run which involved my using my good old jeep to get to and from those places. I didn't drive far -about 10 miles, round trip, on one errand, at which time I had stopped at my son's house, briefly, before going on to the next stop on my list. (I shut the jeep down while at my son's house though.) After that, I proceeded on to a friend's house to pick up eggs that she sells and from there, back to home.

It was after that last stop that when I started the jeep up again, I noticed something that is very disconcerting to me.

That darned "Check Engine" light on my dashboard came on and stayed on!

I hate that light!

Why? Because it tells you virtually nothing.

I called my son and told him what was going on and then, went back up to his place so he could take a "look-see" and try to determine, if possible, something going awry with the jeep. However, because the jeep wasn't making any different noises, no obvious leakage, or broken belts and the other gauges were all registering at the correct levels, he learned no more about what was causing that light to go on and STAY ON than I would have been able to ascertain had I looked under the hood.

Actually, that light coming on and staying on as far as giving anything productive if it were me checking things out would amount to lifting the hood, looking at the engine and muttering to myself then, "Well, the engine is still there!"

He -and my ex-son-in-law, (the mechanic) both agreed that the jeep would have to be checked with some kind of sensor equipment in order to try to pinpoint where the problem lies and in all likelihood, according to those mechanical minds, it's probably just some sensor that has been tripped and nothing actually wrong with the jeep at all.

Still and all, it bothers me to see that light come on as soon as I start the old buggy up, ya know. Actually, it scares me cause even though they feel there is nothing going on there that would be harmful, causing the jeep to not function at all, I have this fear of going someplace and something happening then where I would end up stranded, ya know.

Now, to carry my theory though about this "check engine" thing a tad further, I was thinking too the past couple of days about other things that maybe should have some kind of check engine alarm system in place though which might possibly call attention, at least, to people that there's some kind of problem existing.

Take for example the things I have to deal with in order to receive certain supplies for my bodily and health maintenance. I have a colostomy and also, problems maintaining my blood sugar levels and to purchase the items I need for those areas and issues, I have to order my supplies through a company located a state away from me. I can't just walk into a pharmacy or medical supply place and make a purchase there, even though there may be a place within reasonable driving distance where I could purchase those things, unless they have a scrip from my physician, I can't go there and make purchases even though the colostomy is something that is, for me, a life-long item I need to exist, if I want my insurance to cover any of these necessities, I have to go through a medical supplies place. (Walmart carries the diabetic test strips and are for sale over the counter there, but my insurance won't cover that purchase under any circumstances through Walmart's pharmacy. Go figure that one out.)

Anyway, although the supplier I deal with has, until recently, been pretty quick about filling my orders and getting the things I need to me relatively fast, the last two orders I had to place with them took a lot longer than normal to get processed and delivered to me. Thank goodness with respect to the colostomy products, I always do keep tab on how much of those supplies I have on hand and don't wait till I am almost out of those before I re-order. I have no idea what on earth I would do if I were really low on those things and my order got screwed up and delayed and in the process, I depleted my last barrier or pouch! Boy, would that be a big mess, huh? At least, in a pinch, I could go to Walmart and purchase the diabetic test strips there but it would also cost me an arm and a leg to get them too, so I really do depend on this company to be fast and efficient in filling either of these type of orders for me.

But a week ago Friday, I had ordered test strips and they had told me no problem, my order was being processed and that I would receive said strips in 1-3 working days -which to me translated to being the following Monday or Tuesday of last week. And, since I wasn't out of those strips completely -just very low though -I figured I had adequate time till the shipment arrived.

But then, Monday a.m. I had a call from the supplier -a recorded message telling me that my order was being processed and if I had any questions, it gave a number in the billing department I could call to answer any questions I might have.

Now, if you got a call like that, what would you do?

If, like me, you were only interested in knowing your order was being processed, does this message indicate there is a problem with said order? I sure didn't think so! So, I ignored the call, figuring it was one of their many automated message things.

But when Tuesday rolled around and I got another call with the same message, I decided to call them to find out why there were making these rather confusing message-calls to me.

Good thing I did that too though as it turned out that they informed me that they needed a scrip from my physician to fill said order. Hmmmm. I knew my doctor had done that back in November or December when she first put me on this regimentation program of using the test strips to track my blood sugar levels daily because if she hadn't sent said scrip, I never would have received the initial order with the test kit and strips and stuff I had purchased back then.

Then I found out that they had somehow mixed up the two different doctors who had faxed them the necessary scrips I need on file to purchase the items I use. They had somehow decided that the surgeon who had sent them the scrip almost four years ago now for the colostomy supplies was also the one responsible for ordering the diabetic stuff I needed! Hmmm. How did that happen anyway? Seems they had somehow "misplaced" the scrip from my family physician for the diabetic supplies and put the surgeon's name in there instead but when they realized there was no scrip from that doctor for the supplies and they had contacted his office, they learned he was unreachable. Yep! That's because he moved to Florida almost a year ago now!

So, they said they would fax my family doctor to have her send them the necessary forms, etc., and all would be fine. Just to be on the safe side though, I called my PCP's office and told them they needed this scrip so the person in that office then said no problem and she would fax that order over to them right away.

On Wednesday, I got a call from the supplier -an actual call, with a real live person on the other end of the line (not a recording) and that person said not only do they need this scrip faxed to them but my doctor also needed to phone them personally and give them verbal confirmation of the medical need for these things too. And they said they had tried to fax the forms they needed from the PCP but they had had no response from their office.

So, back to calling my PCP's staff again and telling them this is what is going on, what they need, etc., etc. And my PCP's staff informed me they had faxed the order over the day before but the supplier said they had never received that plus my PCP's staff said they never received any fax or information at all from the supplier that day.

So, round and round this went until eventually things got to what is really the root of this whole problem with the supplier.

It seems that with the initial scrip my PCP sent them, they never received a form from my PCP stating the medical necessity for me for these things and therefore, they couldn't process my order because it wasn't in compliance with my insurance company and this problem had been existing since the original order was placed to them back in November or December of last year!

And since this problem is still on-going since I have yet to receive my order and probably won't get it till tomorrow at the earliest now, I've been thinking maybe they need some kind of "Check engine" alarm someplace in their work place to alert them to a problem that has existed for now over 5-6 months that they haven't been able to receive the co-payment from my insurance company for these supplies.

If you had something on hold that long, waiting for payment, etc., wouldn't you try to get that straightened out? If they had contacted me back in December, this all could have been avoided although they were calling me virtually every other day (or so it seemed) asking me if I was needing to order more colostomy or diabetic supplies! Go figure!

The more I thought about this "check engine" thing, the more I thought of other areas in which such a signal might also come in handy.

I thought that maybe if each of us had some kind of alarm system like this within us, maybe it would help us to be aware of other things which might be in need of some attention.

One thing that came to my mind really quickly was with respect to problems so many people have that knowing various signs, signals could alert them that there could be a need for the individual -or a family member or friend perhaps -to seek out drug and alcohol treatment centers. Now I suppose some folks would say that when someone needs care for an addiction type problem they should already be aware of that need without an alarm of sorts going off for them, but unfortunately, that isn't usually the case. The addict may know they are abusing drugs or alcohol but not really see it as the problem it is and family and/or friends are often totally unaware that they are guilty of enabling the condition to remain. Thus, no one does anything about the situation until things reach a point where things are really, really untenable. It's not as easy a thing to contend with as many people may believe it is when it comes to getting help for the person in need because so many people don't understand the full ramifications of their actions.

And then too, I thought about myself and wishing that perhaps some kind of check engine light had been available within me throughout my lifetime.

Oh, we all have these alerts that do signal there are physical ailments present although many of us also ignore them too, like the jeep's check engine light as being a sensor that has gone awry and will eventually reset itself, ya know.

But I'm thinking more about something that would have been nice to be in place that would have shown me -maybe -ways to move about more easily along the social spectrum involved in our lives. Something that would have beeped at me to say "don't say that!" Or, an alarm that would have gone off to give me more insight as to how to find problems and correct them that pertained to my worklife -how to determine correctly little signals and nuances that many people see automatically but others, like myself, manage to overlook somehow.

I dunno! Maybe things like this already do exist but, like my grandkids, I'm maybe just more than a bit naive about seeing them, hearing them, when they do sound an alarm and am great at just ignoring them in the end anyway.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Fishing They Did Go!

Before reading this (or gazing at the photos in this post), maybe I should advise you to read the post below this one first as it gives a little bit of information about what's what here.

Actually, as I was writing the other post, unbeknownst to me, Jenn-Jenn was sending me 16 more photos of their fishing expedition earlier this evening to Howard Dam!

So, because I really enjoyed seeing these pictures and of course, I was certain you too would enjoy them almost as much as I did, I'm gonna post them here now for everyone's enjoyment!
Maya and "Big Boy" Curtis -fishing at Howard Dam.

Here's Curtis, showing off his catch.

And this is his sister, Emmy Jo, with a catch.

Another of Emmy Jo's catch.

And, again -Emmy Jo!

This is Gabby -the middle child showing off her prowess with the fishing rod.

Another of Gabby.

Gabby, again.

Curtis -teasing his girlfriend, Cassandra!

A little more teasing going on here.

Somebody caught something -was it Curtis or Maya?

Maya caught something by the looks of things.

Maya and Curtis -surveying the catch.

Maya -doing what she does best -showing off!

Proud as a peacock, isn't she?

Curtis and Maya and the fish!

Seeing all these pictures and the big smiles on everyone's faces brought back lots of memories to me of the times when I was a kid and my Uncle Albin -or Uncle Butch as he was usually called -used to take me fishing with him. We would go to Spring Creek though where it runs across Rockview State Penitentiary Grounds outside of Bellefonte when my aunt and uncle would be here for their vacation and when I would go to their home for several weeks during my summer vacations, we would often go to the stream that runs through (or past) Lottsville, PA. Sorry but I don't remember for sure the name of that stream but I think it may have been Little Broken Straw. What I do remember the best about those times was having had so much fun going fishing and I'm betting, just as I remember those adventures today, that in years to come, this will definitely rank right up there in Maya's book of fun days and big adventures!

Breaking Through The Bloggy Fog!

Finally! I figured out what to write about on my blog but boy, it was a long time coming to me.

I haven't posted now in several days -too darned lazy right now to pause and look to see what day it was when I did last post something - but anyway, I've been reading others' blogs and trying to sort through things in my life to find a topic but nothing was hitting my lazy, disorganized, procrastinating self clearly enough to write something that might actually make a bit of sense.

Even though when I read Blogger Friend, Bud's post the other day about having blogger's block or writer's block -call it whatever you wish -and I thought I had a subject I would/could/should write about, the other things that generally control my life much more than simply reading a good post does (that would be the laziness, the disorganization and the procrastination), it still didn't get me off my duff and to opening my blog and writing something!

In my defense though, there have been a few other things happening around here that did keep me from doing what I should have been doing which was to sit down and take stock of lots of things and write them down here.

I had thought that maybe by Saturday night I could write about the yard sale we had in our front yard this past Friday and Saturday but to be truthful about that, this year's sale was a bit boring. Actually, it was more than boring, it was pretty darned punk! We had a lot of traffic on Friday -people driving past the house slowly, gazing at the assortment of stuff we had out on three long tables (borrowed from our church's social hall) and some of those folks even stopped, got out, came down and fingered stuff, looked around but not too many were buying stuff. Compared to previous years, sales was way down! Mandy had tons and tons -or so it seemed -of clothes on display that the kids have outgrown and because she doesn't want to have to lug all those things back into the house when the yard sale is over, she always prices things at what I consider to be downright ridiculous low prices but even her dirt cheap sales technique only brought very slow sales of the kids clothes so a lot of stuff is now back inside and waiting till she contacts a lady from town who opened a thrift shop in Bellefonte -for kids clothes -this past Saturday! So, hopefully maybe she can sell the stuff she has leftover to her and thus, make room in the kids dressers and closets for a new stuffing of lots of newer clothes that she will then put out on the tables again next year at this time at the next Community Yard Sale!

One silly thing that did happen recently though is something I was planning to write about -before I forgot the story -but didn't get around to doing that. So I figure I'll put that in here now.

About 10 days or so ago, I was getting Kurtis ready to go to school and I wanted to have everything all done in the dressing him department so that there would be no mix-ups or frenzied searching for things five minutes before his van arrived to pick him up. Thankfully, I started working on getting his shoes on him about a half hour before the van was due here because the gym shoes I was trying to get on his feet were giving me one royal hassle!

I tried and tried for about ten minutes with each shoe, loosening the laces again and again, tugging at the tongue to get it to make the opening spread more and then, when I would try to get his foot in the shoe, of course, he would wiggle his ankle so his foot wasn't quite angled quite right which created a few more issues then too. I did finally get the shoes on him and laced up but I was really frustrated over what an ordeal it had been to shoe this kid that morning and I had made the mistake of making a comment I shouldn't have made in front of him, right smack within his earshot.

I'd said to him, "Boy, these shoes are really a pain in the ass to get on your feet!"

I didn't give that remark any further thought though until last Wednesday when Mandy was dressing him for school and was trying to put that same pair of shoes that had given me hissy fits the week before on his feet. And as she was fighting with the shoes and grumbling under her breathe, Kurtis says to her, "I know Mommy, these shoes are a pain in the ass to get on the feet!"

As she looked up at me, she asked Kurtis, "Where did you hear that before?"

And since he tends to be really up-front and honest with his answers, he responded, "Gram tell'd me that!"

Darned kids have to rat a person out every time, don't they?

Since Friday afternoon though, the house has been relatively quiet -at least free from the normal fighting that tends to go on between Maya and Kurtis -and the reason for that is because Miss Maya has been about 6-7 miles away from home, spending a very long weekend with Mandy's girlfriend, Jenn-Jenn and her family. Then, this afternoon, when older daughter and oldest grandson, Alex (who had been up here since Friday evening) were getting ready to go back to their home, they were to stop at my son's house and pick up Kurtis there and then, they were taking him down to spend the night with Aunt Carrie and cousin Alex. An event that Kurtis apparently was quite excited about since this was probably the first time he's ever stayed overnight at Aunt Carrie's by himself! I think he's only ever spent the night there once before, about 2 maybe 3 years ago now and that time, Miss Maya was also with him too.

Since we didn't get any phone calls tonight with Aunt Carrie begging someone to come and get the little guy, things must have gone smoothly with his first overnight stay like a big boy, by himself.

And I was really missing all the noise, fuss and stuff that generally goes on in the house when the kids are getting ready for bed. Guess I'm more conditioned to that than to the dead silence that existed here tonight even though most nights find me praying for the time when the house does get quiet and the kids are both in bed. (Just can't please Grandma after all, can ya?)

But tonight -about an hour ago now -I decided to sit down at the computer, read any recent posts showing up on my reader and check my e-mail and that's when I got what was my inspiration to write a post tonight.

It came to me in the form of two e-mailed photos from Jenn-Jenn -with whom Miss Maya has been visiting this weekend.

Seems Jenn and her husband Nick, took Maya and their three teenagers "night fishing" down at Howard Dam - a state park about 35 miles or so away from this area and apparently Miss Maya is quite the little fisherwoman, judging by these two photos Jenn sent me!

I don't know as yet if this was two different fish she caught or just the same fish in two different shots of her, with "Big Boy Curtis" (Jenn's son) helping her to hold the fish on the line up for the camera shot.

But it sure is obvious that my little diva-princess definitely was having herself one heck of a good time, isn't it?

And how fortunate for me that Jenn-Jenn just happened to e-mail these two pictures to me as I was about to start writing a post about having nothing to write about, nothing to say, too!

Thanks Jenn, for giving me the kick start I really, really needed tonight!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Fresh Breath!

I've been lax -again, or maybe I should say, as usual -about blogging and reading blogs too. I had been doing fairly well about the reading part until this past weekend, when I fell off that wagon completely -again.

But as to the posting -well, last week I received a request via e-mail from someone I'd never heard of before nor do I know exactly how she decided to single me out to ask if I'd consider doing a post on this topic, but anyway, her request registered in my mind and I've actually been thinking about it ever since that e-mail arrived.

The request came from a lady at this organization - The Fresh Air Fund -and I've been trying to think of how to do a post about this foundation and thinking too that it's rather odd that she apparently stumbled on my blog somehow and decided it would be a good place to have the author write about the value of the Fresh Air Fund.

Why is that? Well because years back -like 36 years ago this summer -my ex-husband and I signed up to take a child into our home for a two week period -a child from the inner city who, hopefully, would benefit from being able to run and play in the great outdoors of central Pennsylvania.

A child who would benefit from seeing the sights in a tiny village that probably only has a fraction of residents by comparison to the street -or maybe even the apartment complex a child from the city has surrounding them all the time. Grassflat -population maybe 700 or 800 -a choice example of very small-town living; actually very small village living one should say.

At the time we signed on for the Fresh Air program, we only had two children -older daughter, Carrie, then 8 years old and son, Clayton, who was going on two that summer. We had requested a child, a girl, around Carrie's age as we felt logistically, that would be the best for us as well as for whatever child was sent our way.

We received notification that we would be meeting our "child" -a little girl named Monique -who lived in Staten Island, New York and that her age was 8, same as our daughter. A good match-up we figured this would or should be for us, for her, for our daughter too.

And, overall, it was that -a very good match in most areas.

I remember the evening the bus carrying the multitude of city kids arrived in Clearfield, our county seat, and we -ex-husband, both children and I -gathered with others from around our county to meet the children selected to stay with each family for the coming two-week period.

Let me explain a tiny bit here about the demographics of this area and our village, in particular, here. Frank and I had discussed what possible problems we might encounter with taking in this little girl -a bit of jealousy most likely to come through from the older daughter, for openers -but mainly, the biggest concern we had was how well others -our neighbors or other townspeople might react to this child we would be responsible for looking after because you see, this county is predominately white and this village, well at that time it was definitely 100% white and yes, sad to say, but there are those in this area who at that time (and many who still feel this way to this day) who harbor racist attitudes and we worried about what people with those feelings might say or do to this little girl. We both agreed that if they said anything to us directly, we could deal with that, could put those folks in their place, so to speak. But we were hoping things would go smoothly enough that no one did or said anything that would have an impact directly on this child.

And, with the exception of one incident, things did go remarkably well during the time Monique stayed with us.

That one instance though came about on the very first night she was here.

Beginning with our picking up Monique and loading her stuff into the little mini-station wagon we had at that time, she and Carrie seemed to bond fairly quickly and with our son, Clayton, it was evident immediately that he liked and would become a bit of a tail whenever possible to anything the girls wanted to do as he would hang onto Monique at every opportunity!

In our car as we started the drive back to our home, we were turning onto the on-ramp of Interstate 80 when the CB radio we had in the car crackled with people chatting back and forth. This startled Monique initially and she turned to Carrie, asking her "Does your Dad drive a taxi cab?" Carrie, at that point in time, I don't think had a clue as to what a taxi cab was but Frank and I both chuckled as we answered her question about his occupation and also, the radio in the car.

Once home, Carrie immediately insisted that she take Monique over next-door to meet my Mom, Grandma, and show her around Grandma's place too. Not a bad idea because I knew over the time Monique would be here with us, that my Mom's house would frequently be where the girls would be found!

But what happened while they were at Grandma's house showed us first hand, that the race issue was something alive and well in this little village.

The girls were in the house talking to my Mom and Mom noticed a boy, a couple years older than Carrie, riding his bicycle back and forth on the road in front of her home and with each pass of her house, he would look at the house and then, call out in a voice loud enough for Mom and the girls to hear him something that is very politically incorrect -one word -yes, the "N" word, repeating it over and over again!

Now my Mom was the type of person -unlike me -who was very quiet, rarely interjected her opinions outside of her home but I was quite proud of what she did that night with that youngster.

She went to the door and calling him by name, told him in a very, very firm voice that she didn't want to see or hear him saying things like that at all, and telling him also, in no uncertain terms too, that he had best go home right then and there!

Although he did listen and leave -and there were no further repercussions of this issue during Monique's visit with us, I rather doubt that he mentioned any of this to his mother because had he done that, I'm quite sure she would have immediately been on the phone, calling to tell us to stop accusing her son of any kind of wrong-doing whatsoever. (Yes, I was pretty sure she would have done that because she was always the type of parent who was right there to come to her kid's defense and always with the tact that her child never did this or that or any other things wrong, if you know the type of parent I mean there.)

But anyway, I was just happy that Mom had stood her ground to this boy and that over the rest of the time, the other neighbors took Monique in and treated her the same as they treated my children, allowing their kids the freedom to mix and mingle, to play children's games, to swim in the neighbor's above-ground pool freely and ride bicycles, roam the village now and again too and yes, in the process, for Monique to gain lots and lots and LOTS of fresh air! Fresh air is one thing in this tiny place that definitely is in abundance.

As are some wild animals -deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds, bees and bats too -and yes snakes but thankfully, no snakes were seen while she was here!

I've often wondered if that trip to central Pennsylvania was a positive experience for Monique. I hope it was. I know though that it was a great experience for not just my daughter Carrie, but also for Clayton. Even at his young age, she did leave a lasting and positive impression on him!

That lasting impression Clate acquired was evident to us -albeit in a sterotypical way -when that November Frank, the children and I, set out to drive to Illinois for a visit over Thanksgiving with Frank's parents and siblings. Along the way, when we stopped at a rest stop in Indiana, as the children and I were entering the bathroom there -a very busy place I might add -a little girl about the same age/size of Monique was exiting with her mother and Clate, upon seeing this child, started to pull towards her, all the time, calling out to her, "Monique, Monique!"

We had to explain to him that just because he had seen a little black girl about the same size as Monique and with the cornrow braids and such, didn't mean it was actually Monique. I think we can give a two-year old a break in believing that, can't we?

So that's the general gist of how our two weeks as Fresh Air parents went and that it was a positive experience for Frank and I, as well as for our children and for at least a few other youngsters in our little neighborhood who had -many of them -never met a black child before then!

Would I recommend taking in a child for a two-three week stay in one's home through the Fresh Air Fund? Yes indeed I would.

Granted that was the only time we did that but the reason why we never volunteered again with the program was due to a few factors well beyond our control -like divorce, then my work and being unable to take on the added responsibility -financially and otherwise -of another child into the home.

It does provide a lot of opportunities to the host family and especially, I think, to the child or children coming into the home, to see how others live.

Especially those of us who lead lives so totally different from how life in the city, on those streets, can be and is!

So if you have room in your home -and in your hearts -in your family, to welcome a child such as Monique was for our little family -I'd strongly recommend that you look into the Fresh Air Fund program and apply to be a host family.