Monday, April 30, 2012

What I Really Need!

I'm sure you remember by now that I am really engrossed in a lot of things right now -things that require a lot of discussion and planning. The church program coming up this coming weekend is calming down a good bit so not as much in the way of planning, discussions and/or phone calls needed there. Just a whole lot of energy gonna be needed over the weekend as I've got cooking and baking, plus set ups in the kitchen and that kind of stuff I'll have to do. The physical things that by Sunday night will probably have me barely able to walk but as long as it all goes as smoothly as possible, I'll be happy there.

But my class reunion -now that's a horse of a different color for sure!

I've got the girls in my class who, along with me and a couple of the guys are busy trying to get kinks ironed out as soon as possible all the while trying to figure out what to do for door prizes, entertainment, getting a sound system set up, producing some kind of play list of hit songs, oldies ya know, from the early 60s to have to play at the reunion and who knows what else.

Between phone calls to this one or that one, e-mails, facebook posts and getting together too, face to face, to discuss all this stuff, I think what we really need is a set up whereby we can just do some web conferencing!

To me, that sounds like a darned good solution however, two of the girls working on this planning thing with me absolutely hate messing in any way, shape or form with computers so I guess we can rule that out as a plan of attack then can't we?

Oh well. I'd much rather meet them over a nice lunch anyway!

Thinking...A Lot!

So much has been on my mind lately that I really don't know where to start tonight.

But I think I'll start from the present and work my way back in time a bit to tell you what things have been on my mind lately.

Tonight, Mandy and Maya are in Philipsburg -at the High School there -where the cast (selected from auditions last Wednesday and Thursday) are doing a "read through" of the play that will be presented in early July. The kids are going to do "Aristocrats" and Maya has a part -one where she actually plays a character with a name this time. In the past, the plays she was in, she was part of a group that sang and danced but they were just this group of kids and had no names pertinent to the production.

I've never seen the "Aristocrats"so I have nary a clue as to what each character in the play is like or about or anything, but she is a member of a group called the Alleycats" and as such, her role is that of "Fig Cat" -for whatever that's worth. Needless to say though, she is quite excited that she has a part -for openers -and that her part -her cat -also has a name. Can you say "proud as punch?" That would be Miss Maya about now -and truth be told, that would also describe Mandy and me too!

Next on my backtracking list is a little issue concerning Sam -our not overly brilliant dog. Sam is very much a house dog so the only time he is outside usually means he is tied out front on a lead or one of us is walking him on a leash. Usually. However, once in a while he does decide he wants to escape and then, if he does sneak outside without being tied or on a leash, he tends to run and roam and drives us crazy then trying to get him to come back home.

Well we had a problem here last week what with the laborers who have been coming here for the past two weeks now putting insulation in the house and they then have been going in and out through the front door and also through the basement door. And in the process and with a tad of confusion too, Sam managed to escape not once, but twice last week!

The first time was on Wednesday and as he began trotting down the road, one of the laborers called to me that he was outside and did I want him out. No way did I want him outside and loose, for sure, so I told him that. At the same time, the UPS guy had just delivered Mandy's Avon order and he asked me if I wanted him to take care of Sam. (He's very familiar with Sam and his big mouth bark and as soon as Sam realizes who it is at the door, he's all over the guy, sniffing him and licking his hands, begging him to pet him, ya know.) So anyway, I just laughed and told him "It depends on what you mean by take care of him!" He laughed and pulled away and I headed into the house in search of my shoes so I could go chase after the mutt. While I was doing that though, the laborer came in, bringing Sam in with him! I asked if he had gone after him and he said "No, the UPS guy just pulled up alongside of where Sam was standing by the road and told him 'Go home, Sam' and that's what he did!"

Well alright! That worked out quite nicely didn't it?

Unfortunately on Thursday, it was a horse of a different color as Sam again escaped but this time no one noticed he was out on the loose. I was busy trying to get papers together to take to the lunch I had scheduled with my classmates about our class reunion and then, had to shower, try to do something with my hair, get dressed and ready to leave -all of which had taken me a good 90 minutes -when I realized Sam was missing. Oh brother! I was already running late, had no clue which direction Sam had gone and no time to go on a foot patrol to try to find him and shepherd him back home. So as I left, I mentioned to the guys here working that he was out and if/when he came back, would they please put him in the house and make sure the door was closed then. As I left in the Jeep I drove down the road, slowly, trying to look about to see if I might spot him but no luck, so I started out of town then, also trying to check around for him as I drove by but again, no dog to be seen. When I came back home though, there was Sam, reposing ever so nicely in the bay window in the front of the house. The guys told me he had just arrived back home shortly before I got there!

The bad part to this episode though is that last night, a neighbor with whom my daughter is friends on Facebook posted about how upset she was because another neighbor's dog had come by her house, had accosted her dog and her and she couldn't get him to leave and he was very aggressive, growled at her so she had to get her grandson to get rid of him and even then, the dog wouldn't leave. But, she went on to say a neighbor had stepped in and had taken the dog back home. She then added that although this dog's owners say he is very friendly, that is only when he is on his leash as he was very unfriendly to her. To add insult to injury, she also claimed that the owners let this dog run free all the time -every morning as a matter of fact -because he comes by her house every morning!

Well, in reading this, Mandy asked me again then about the times Sam got loose last week because she felt this lady was describing Sam. I told her to just send her a private message and ask if it was him. So Mandy did that and within about 45 minutes, she got a response from the lady saying yes, it was Sam.

Now I understand about dogs not being permitted to roam freely and believe me, we do try to take every step possible to keep him inside, under control but sometimes things to go a bit haywire and animals do get loose now and again. So I will take responsibility for him in that respect. However, the other things she wrote in that post were out and out, blatant lies and that was what really upset me! The dog has been loose maybe 3 times since the first of the year and 2 of those times were last week. He most certainly isn't being let out and loose every morning though to run freely. And as to the friendliness of this mutt, I would defy anyone to find a dog who is friendlier than Sam! We've had him for three years now and in that time, the kids do sometimes rough house with him, sometimes they get a bit rougher too than they really should, but at no time has he ever so much as growled, snapped or nipped at either of them -or at anyone else -friend or stranger who has come to the house! If anything, there are times I almost wish he were a little more of the guardian type dog, ya know!

Yeah, I was ticked off about this little deal but it was not because she wrote about the dog running loose but rather the lies she wrote about us and him. That, to me, is really ridiculous and totally uncalled for!

Moving back a couple days now, I've been dividing my time the past week between things pertaining to our Anniversary Service and Celebration Dinner at our church this coming Sunday, trying to get a few more things taken care of with respect to our class reunion and in any free time I've had, I've been back to the old embroidery! Still struggling with this tabletopper I started shortly before Christmas but it is coming along now!

Last week, a girl who graduated a year ahead of me and who had done a lot of the leg work for their class reunion last year and I were in contact and she promised to send me some things and information on stuff their class had done. Today, I received a packet in the mail from her with 35 wrappers she had printed off for us that we can use to wrap around candy bars and give them to each guest at our reunion. The wrappers say Cooper Township High School,Class of 1962, 50th reunion and then, in the center, there is photo of our old high school! Pretty cute!

And now, my little guy here is all ready to go to bed -just need to give him his meds and he'll be good to go.

And I'm going to go check on Facebook as well as online too about the latest news on a little girl -age 6 -from Philipsburg (which is about 12 miles from us) who is currently a patient at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia where she is in ICU, in very critical condition -a result of a remission she had in February of a very difficult form of leukemia. This little girl had so many set backs last weekend and was doing so poorly that by Tuesday night when I went to bed, I really expected that Wednesday morning, her parents would be reporting that her fight had ended.

But instead, Wednesday morning the report -while not great -was that she was showing some tiny signs of improvement. Thursday morning, the report -still not perfect -was more improvements seen. Now, four days later, she's still far from being out of the woods, but the doctors told her parents they have no clue as to what caused this turn-around to take place.

Her Dad told the doctors he thinks he knows what did it though!

He said he firmly believes it is because of the entire community of Phlipsburg plus all the adjacent little villages, the Philipsburg School, all the other area schools, people from all over the country who have been supporting this little girl's quest to recover, through prayers, cards, letters and benefits galore in support of her and her family!

It was heart-wrenching last week to read the journal posts from her Mom and Dad when her condition began to deteriorate and then just seemed to be on the final downward spiral. I don't think I can imagine what pain and anguish her parents were dealing with then and I definitely do not ever want to even think about something like that happening to my grandkids -or my children even though they are adults now. As hard as the reports were for me to assimilate, I can only imagine -or think I can imagine maybe -how difficult it had to be to live through that!

So I'm telling you about this little girl -who will celebrate her 7th birthday this coming Tuesday now -May 2nd -if you believe in God, a Higher Power, whatever, would you please keep little Miss Emily Whitehead in your prayers for a complete recovery? I put the link in there to the reports her parents have been posting on her condition so if you'd like, you can read and see for yourself what a courageous child she has been and is today! She was the Poster Child for the 'Thon Dance at Penn State University back in January which is the big thing on campus as the students raise funds for research and aide for children with pediatric cancers. One of the new phrases around these parts on the internet from the many offering prayers for Emily is a take off on the Penn State's most known cheer -"WE ARE! EM'S ARMY!"

Keep Emily in our hearts and prayers please and keep this growing by sharing it with others!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crow Can Be a Delightful Meal!

Wow! The past week has really flown by me and as usual, I haven't really accomplished very much during that time span. Nothing noteworty, perhaps. Well, except for one thing that is - my printer is working again!

Remember last week I wrote about how upset I was that the printer I purchased late last summer had bit the dust on me back in January, had come back to life for about two days in February and then, died after that reprieval. So the end of March, I bit the bullet and bought a new printer -almost exactly like the one that had died way too young! (The first one had WiFi capability but the new one did not.)

Anyway, after a mere 18 days of usage, the new printer started doing the very same thing as the other now defunct unit had done -making the paper crease as it tried to feed and then, the paper would be useless and jam up the printer.

Here's a picture of my lovely little three-in-one printer -that does printing, copying and scanning -when the paper feeds through it, that is!

Yes, I was upset -very upset as a matter of fact! I was even more upset then with Walmart when I tried to take the printer back and didn't have a receipt for purchase to show them! However, I had purchased the printer online and paid for it with my paypal account so, I did have a receipt but because the printer wasn't working, I couldn't print the damned receipt out and Walmart would not allow me to use their system to access and print the receipt either! (That ticked me off a good bit too, ya know!)

But anyway, after all that mess, I finally took the bull by the horns and made a phone call to Hewlett-Packard -the manufacturer of this item that appeared to me to be really faulty. (Later last week, my blogger buddy, Suldog, had suggested I write a nice, long letter to someone high up in the chain of command at Hewlett-Packard, (he even thought I could be really polite to whoever I contacted too -imagine that!) but since I'd already made the phone call, I didn't do that.)

I explained to the guy at Tech Support my plight with the printers and how I had tried every trick known and published in their online help site about unjamming printers and all to no avail.

Mr. Tech Support then asked me if I had opened up the trap door thing-a-ma-jig in the bottom of the printer. "Opened what?" I asked. There had been no mention on any of the help sites about opening any kind of trap door on the base of the printer.

So he explained to me where it was located and instructed me to turn the printer upside down and I would see it in the middle of the base of the printer. So, I did that and yes, I saw then what he was referring to there.

 See that grayish area there in the middle of this picture? That's the trap door he was directing me to open.

I opened it and as I did, he asked if there was anything in there that might be causing the printer to jam up -anything that obviously didn't belong there. Here's a picture of that little trap door open -and my finger tip there holding the lid up so you can see inside the little cave there!

To my shock -and I have no picture of this to show  you -there was something rather strange in there and I knew immediately that little cave in the bottom of the printer was not meant to be a storage space for a mechanical lead pencil!

Yeah, that is what was apparently the culprit to my printer's failing on me!

And I figured immediately too where that pencil had come from -the fingers of a certain 8-year-old girl who resides in this house! (I ruled Kurtis out because he hasn't yet figured out how to deal with mechanical lead pencils!)

So I apologized for my error but also told him it might not be a bad idea if HP posted a picture and instructions on their help site for dummies like me to use to get to areas in the printer in order to unjam the things!

He offered to stay on the line with me while I reconnected the printer to make sure this was really the culprit and to be assured the printer would operate but I told him no, that it would take me a considerable amount of time to get the machine reconnected. I would have to move the computer tower, then move a smallish file cabinet out of the way to get to the electrical outlet and my surge protector thing and that also meant I would have to get down on my hands and knees, crawl under my desk to get to that stuff and it might take me even longer once I got it all connected up to be able to get back up on my feet again. I told him that I appreciated his help very much and if this didn't work, he'd know because I'd be calling him back then.

Well, I'm very pleased to say that this all worked and the printer is functioning now just fine and dandy.

After getting all that done, and since I still had the first printer that had acted up in the same way  as this one sitting on a cabinet in the dining room, I thought heck, since I knew now how to go on a search and destroy mission in the belly of the beast now, I may as well check out the first printer to see if there was something floating in the depths there too that was jamming things up.

Daughter Mandy had heard all the conversation with Mr. Tech Services so she knew then what needed to be done to check out the first printer and with her looking over my shoulder, I opened it up.

We both let out a little bit of a gasp as we looked inside that puppy -and again -no photos here of what we found there -but none really needed when I tell you what we saw.

A cigarette butt!

Yes, that's right! A cigarette butt that when I reached in to pick it out, my arm balancing that printer shifted slightly causing said cigarette butt to roll -and roll it did, down deeper into the damned machine to where it is no longer visible or accessible to reach in and pick it out!

I have since decided I'm going to measure out a nice piece of cloth and hem it -and make a nifty little cover to lay over my printer to protect it from falling objects that have no business in the pocket area where the paper feeds into the printer!

That and remove mechanical lead pencils from Maya's collection of stuff and gives me a little more incentive then in my quest (that isn't going all that great at the moment) to stop smoking too!

One battle at a time, ya know.

But this was one time I did have to eat crow and take back water, ya know but since the printer is now working just fine, I don't have a problem doing that!

I did however learn something about Walmart though and I'll pass this information on to you  -save all boxes, all packing materials and definitely keep ALL receipts too for any purchases that are under any kind of warrenty. Save those things forever I guess. Although considering I also discovered that at least in the case of my printer, their coverage, their warranty on that product had expired after a mere 15 days time!

So while I am willing to eat crow with respect to Hewlett-Packard, I'm still more than a little miffed with all the hassles involved with Walmart and their exchange policies, just based on the principle of things, ya know.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Frightening Day!

This past week has, as have the last couple of weeks, been filled with all kinds of happenings -most not that bad overall.

However, yesterday proved to be the exception to that rule.

About 10 a.m., I was talking on the phone to my son and got the familiar beep-beep sound indicating someone was trying to call here. Since I was expecting a call from a neighbor up the road, I hurried and disconnected from my son and clicked into the incoming call.

When I did, I just managed to catch the end of a recorded message from our local school district in which they stated the children were being dismissed at 10 a.m. on that very day! But there was no explanation whatsoever given as to the reason behind this early dismissal.

Hmmm. Wonder what was going on with the school? So I clicked over into Facebook and there, very near the top of the page was a post from a friend who lives about 4 miles from us stating the school was sending kids home, that both the junior-senior high and the elementary students had all been evacuated from the building due to a bomb threat.

A what? Did I read that right? A bomb threat in our school in this very small rural area?


Incredible as it may have seemed at first, it was indeed true.

I kept following postings to that friend's facebook to try to learn more of what happened, what was now taking place, and getting a bit of an idea too on when I could figure the grandkids would be getting home.

Along about 10:30 a.m. I got a call from my next-door neighbor who teaches at the school. She wanted to know if Mandy per chance still had the spare key to the neighbor's house since she needed it about two weeks ago to tend to their dog while the neighbor and her daughter had taken a bit of a vacation over the Easter break to go to North Carolina to visit her older daughter who now lives there.

I had no idea if Mandy still had said key or not and if she did have it, I had no idea where she might have stashed it either.

I hadn't wanted to call Mandy to tell her what was happening since she was at work and didn't want to get her all worked up and worried there while trying to wait tables, etc. But now, I had to call her.

Thankfully, by that time I had more information and some idea as to when the kids would be getting home and I knew they were okay so I could talk to Mandy and tell her all that and thus help her to stay calmer during all this mess.

As it turned out, Mandy did have a copy of the neighbor's house key and she told me where to find it then too. If I'd had my vehicle here, I could have then made arrangements to run up to the school and pick our neighbor up and bring her home. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that because Mandy's car was in the shop and she had to use my jeep to get to and from work yesterday!

And by the way, the reason the neighbor wanted to know if we had a copy of her house key?

When they were ordered to evacuate, no one knew what was happening, why the evacuation so only a very few thought to grab their jackets and their purses! And of course, in my neighbor's purse were her house keys, her car keys and her cell phone!

About 11 a.m., one of the vans used to transport the special ed kids and which Kurtis rides every day, pulled up in front of the house and I went out to get Kurtis off the van. He handed me a paper that I was told I needed to read "Read right away, Gram!" he said. So I looked at it and saw it was a note from Kurt's TSS stating she was at the school as her keys to her car, cellphone and all other things were locked in the school until the state police finished "sweeping" the place, looking for more evidence, checking to see if there was a real threat existing or not, etc.

At 11:30 a.m., Maya's bus came through and she was home.

Neither of the kids had any idea as to why they had been evacuated but as I learned later from Kurt's TSS, it had all gone pretty smoothly, all things considered.

We've since heard that a teacher had found a note in the bathroom for the high school boys and later, it was being said the police had said it was a girl's handwriting on this note. Hmmm. Do we think we are being ultra-tricky by having a girl write this or was this a joint operating effort all the way around?

The latest news this morning was that this was still very much an active, on-going investigation and that when apprehended, whoever is found to be responsible for this will see prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

When I spoke to my son later yesterday morning and told him what I knew then that had happened, what was going on, his initial reaction was to state it was probably some kid who thought he/she wanted a day off from school and nothing would be found, no bomb would exist and he seemed not to be taking it that seriously.

True enough, I thought that most likely this was the case but I also reminded my son that no schools, no businesses for that matter, take threats like this lightly today! And even if it does turn out to be a "false Alarm" if the individual(s) responsible are discovered, they too will be in for an extremely rude awakening when they get hit with possible jail terms and extensive fines!!!

And, all of that does nothing to absolve the fears, the panic that was placed into the minds and hearts of most likely just about every single parent in our school district until they learned the children were all safe. But even once you know that, the fear is there then that something as unspeakable as a bomb COULD very easily have been there, COULD just as easily exploded, COULD have injured, maimed, even killed any number of people!

Once a fear is introduced into any parental minds of some type of situation that their child could have been exposed to, it tends to stay there for a good amount of time! It nags at you as you think about what could have happened and yes, you're grateful it didn't come about to that but still, the imagination then runs rampant!

What sense is there in creating that type of frightening imagery is there for those who do things like this anyway? What pleasure does that person receive anyway in the torment that then goes on in the minds of the parents, caregivers, and for the students too? What kind of mind does something heedlessly like that anyway?

I think back to when Maya was not quite four years old and we -Mandy, Kurtis, Maya and I -were all at a big picnic about 6 miles from the house and at the camp where this picnic was being held, there was also a fairly good sized pond. It was large enough that there were some water conveyances there -a raft I believe and perhaps a canoe or two and a row boat -no motorized crafts, but things that could be used to ride on the water, ya know. My son was also present at this picnic as were several other extended family members -my niece and her children, plus many of her aunts, uncle, their children too, etc. A large gathering, for sure.

And suddenly Mandy appeared in front of me as I was seated on the front porch of the camp, talking with friends and I had Kurtis with me, in his stroller. The look on Mandy's face was sheer terror as she told me she had "lost" Maya, couldn't find her!

Maya had been playing with my great-niece and a couple of her cousins -all children about the same age -however, those kids were of a level of maturity that Maya had not yet acquired and Mandy was absolutely panic-stricken. She had seen her brother and called out to him that "Maya is missing!" and he had dropped whatever he was doing immediately to start searching for Maya. As he was moving around, he encountered our neighbor's granddaughter, who was about 13-14 years old then and he asked her if anyone had been down near the pond to search and she said told him not that she knew of so he said he was on his way down to the pond.

And how fortunate it was indeed that he did that because as he arrived by the pond, there was Maya wading in the water, oblivious of the fact that this pond is known to have sheer drop-offs in the depth. He ran into the water and grabbed her up and began running with her in his arms to find Mandy so as to be able to put her mind to ease that Maya had been located, safe and sound -thankfully.

But how quickly that could have turned into a tragedy!

And for weeks afterwards, I had nightmares, night after night, in which I kept seeing Maya, floating face down, on that pond!

That's how easily a scare can scar a person and in some instances, leave emotional damage that may even need therapy to eradicate it!

So, to anyone who might be considering a prank such as this, that it is harmless, no one gets hurt, think again!

Not only can it hurt and scar people with emotional trauma but there is also the financial costs involved in things like this too. It does cost money to have buildings checked out to assure they are free from any explosive or harmful items. It costs in extra manpower too when people have to be pulled away from their regular work to go provide Fire Police protection and various other tasks that become part of the situation too.

Freedom isn't FREE -not at all -when it comes to what seems like a fun thing to do!

And today, I'm relieved, as is Mandy, that the staff, the administrators, the bus and van drivers and many other personnel responded as speedily and effectively as they did to see to the children and get them removed to a safe haven.

I'm also relieved that it was a hoax because in that respect, there was no physical harm involved.

But, I do hope whoever did this is sweating bullets right now, in fear that the police might be on their way to make an arrest!

And I do hope too that if/when the perpetrator of this hoax is found, arrested and sentenced, that they get a really harsh sentence imposed on them then too!

If whoever did this is never located, then I just wish for that person -or those persons -involved in this that someday they have a child and something happens that puts them in the same position as all were placed in here yesterday -of not knowing if their child is safe or is injured, or if other people are endangered or building damaged or destroyed.

It's the not knowing, being unsure of events, that really locks into people's minds and scares the living daylights out of you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And, The WInner Is....

But first, here's the question.

Which company sucks swamp water more? Would you think it is Hewlett-Packard or Walmart?

In my humble opinion -and one in my mind that I am trying very hard to keep the blue words from filtering through here (although that may ultimately be an impossibility) is that it is pretty much a tie!

Here's the scenario.

A few years back, I purchased a new item -a four-way printer-copier-scanner-fax machine -made by HP. I think I had that piece of equipment for perhaps 3 years, possibly 4 years. I won't say it gave me excellent service during that time because for openers, I never got the fax aspect hooked up and it gave me some fits now and again as to feeding the paper in to print but I hated it after I purchased it because of the scanner and how that operated. The scanner operated with a roller mechanism so only photo or materials of a bendable type of material could be fed it and scanned. This made it impossible then for me to scan and save copies of some of the really, really old photos I have here from the late 1800s thru the 20s and 30s and which I wanted to scan and save to my computer for my family tree files.

So, last summer, one day I was over at Walmart, eyeing up printers/scanner models and my neighbor's son -who was then working in the Computer department -told me about this really great sale on this particular model that was a 3-in-one item -print-copy-scan and the scanner on it was of a flat top variety which meant I could use it easily then to scan in those old, old phots.

As usual, my checking account was down to next to nothing but the neighbor kid told me all the good savings I'd get with this unit because it was marked down to half-price -$25 -and that sale price also included two print cartridges too which would cost the equivalent to the printer if purchased separately. That, plus the print cartridges alone were way less money anyway than the ones I needed for the machine I was then using which required cartridges that were also a lot cheaper than the really expensive cartridges needed for the printer/scanner I'd had before the fax-print-scan-copier deal!

I mulled it over in my mind and finally decided to spring for this item at the $25 sale price.

That purchase took place either in late July of 2011 or early in August and I didn't get it all set up though until almost the end of August when Pastor Carrie -the minister we had then -was here, working on the special pages for the Cookbook our Women's group put together last summer. She hooked it all up for me and boy, I was one very happy camper with my nifty new print-copy-scanner.

Yes indeedy, I was in seventh heaven you could say!

I used it a fair amount of times to scan some things and sure, I printed a few things here and there too, but it was not that I overused the item. Not by a long shot.

But anyway, about mid-January, I went to print something out and lo and behold, my dear little printer refused to fulfill my requests! What? Four or five months at the most that I'd had the print-copy-scanner and now, when I would try to print, it would feed the paper in about 2 inches and then jam up. I saw when I tried to print that whatever under neath there was responsible for "grabbing" on to the paper was doing it but it was taking the paper at a slight angle which in turn then would bugger up the paper -giving it a slight crease in the bottom edge of the paper which in turn would prevent the paper from feeding through properly. I don't know -because I'm not an engineer or anything - but that's how it appeared to be doing to my really unexperienced mechanical eye!

I tried every solution offered online at the HP site to troubleshoot the equipment and get it operational but to no avail. So, being broke as usual, ya know, I figured to bide my time a bit and keep an eye out for another unit similar to this one, on sale, and just replace it.

Then, however, in early February, for the heck of it, I tried to print something one day and surprise, surprise, the lovely little printer worked!

Yep! For all of about 2 days I was able to print things on demand and then, as quickly as it had initially gone out of order, came back to life then too, presto magic, the same problem returned!

Now that really ticked me off and caused me to do a good bit of cursing thus giving Maya and Kurt a great opportunity to learn some new words that they also found out just as quickly as they learned them that they'd best not be heard using those words because they were part of Gram's vocabulary but not allowed in theirs!

So, back to the drawing board I went on my search for a replacement printer. I looked at Walmart online and saw they had what I thought was the same model as the one I already owned on sale for $29 and went over to check that out but then learned that no, it was a printer/copier only machine and I didn't want to have to hook up two machines (a printer/copier plus a scanner unit too) if I could get all three for the price of one item.

Finally, on March 29th, I broke down and ordered a replacement unit from Walmart -same item as I already owned but which was a non-working entity and on March 30th, I picked up the new machine at the Walmart store nearest to me here. That being the Clearfield store -about 22 miles one way from where I live.

The day after I brought it home -March 31st to be precise -I hooked the new unit up to the computer and once again, I was a happy little computer camper!

As it turned out though, my joy was to be very short-lived as today, I went to use the printer function on the unit only to see to my dismay that once again, this machine was doing the exact same thing -crumpling up the bottom edge of the paper as it tried to feed into the printer and then, of course, jamming up!

I still had the box the print-scanner-copier came in but didn't have the packing materials or the packing slip. I did have access to a copy of the purchase though because I had bought it and paid for it via my paypal account. So I phoned Walmart's Customer Service Department to find out what my options were to get this piece of equipment replaced.

The nice young man (I think he was young as he sounded that way -had a very nice soft, slow, easy southern drawl though) took down my information and was quite happy to learn that I had the purchasing information on hand via my paypal account because he said with that, it would give me my proof of purchase.

However, I had to go to the online site and change my password to get in there -since I couldn't remember my password (of course) and he offered to walk me through the details there. He started explaining where to go on the site, what to key in, etc., and then I asked him the bad question.

"Please don't tell me you aren't going to tell me  all of this information and then, tell me to print it out, are you?"

He got really quiet for a few seconds and then said, "Oh my! I forgot about that!"

So he told me to take said print-copier-scanner over to the store where I had picked it up and to explain to the person(s) at the customer service desk my predicament. He said that maybe it might be possible for me to go online there and get the information and print it out, using Walmart's computer.

So, off I went -whizzing down the highway, into the store and explained to the lady at Customer Service what happened, what the guy on the phone had told me, etc., and she called for managerial assistance who then told her I couldn't print anything out there and without a receipt, well, I was screwed in other words!

Back home I came, doing more than my fair share of grumbling once I arrived back home too, you can bet your bottom dollar on that, for sure!

It was one thing to have the previous print-copy-scanner go south on me after having had it for 4-5 months -not necessarily that I felt I got my money's worth out of it, but well for $25 purchase price, I figured I couldn't really complain all THAT much then, could I?

Although, in my mind, a piece of equipment that normally sells for $50 and the store had on sale for $25, still should hold up a little longer than 4-5 months, wouldn't you think?

But to pay full freight of $49, plus the tax too, for a grand total then of $51.24, one sure would hope to get more than 3 to 5 pages printed out wouldn't you?

The scanner -on both units though -works beautifully!

I haven't yet contacted Hewlett Packard but I do plan on letting them know what a piece of crapola each of these machines has turned  out to be for me anyway!

In the meantime, I'm trying to think of someone I know who has a computer and working printer that would allow me to use their computer and printer long enough to go to the site and with some help from another nice (hopefully) customer service rep at Walmart's call center, be able then to print out a receipt for this piece of junk so I can get the frigging thing exchanged, hooked up and put me back into the printing world once again!

I suppose by the time I'm able to coordinate getting a copy of the receipt, my 90-day warranty period will have passed and I'll really be totally screwed then, won't I?

And one more thing too - how many people actually keep all the boxes that their purchases come in? And how many people actually also save -in an organized fashion preferably -every freaking receipt too for every damned purchase they have ever made?

Isn't Walmart's policy just a trifle too involved to be realistic for people to get redress when they have a punk experience with a purchase?

Frankly, I think they should have just made an equal exchange since I could give them the Invoice Id number and all that, and then, they could have turned it back in to HP for them to figure out what the hell is wrong with that particular machine!

Kind of strange don't 'cha think that both machines ended up with the same problem except on worked for 4-5 months whereas the other one, only lasted 17 days!

Good, Bad or What?

After a hectic, not always that nice a weekend, Monday arrived -warm, sunny, nice. Actually, by 1 p.m. when Sammy and I headed out for our walk (about 1.5 miles total distance), it was simply awesome weather to behold. Warm, with a light breeze that was barely noticeable but did the trick of not letting a person get too warm while walking anyway!

Let me back up a bit here though and tell you a little about the weekend though.

We had sort of staggered celebrations, if you will, from a small one Friday evening for Kurt's actual 6th birthday and he got his presents from his Mommy then. Plus, Gram had made a little dessert mix that Mommy thought he would enjoy -it had a chocolate cookie crumb base, with a peanut butter filling on top of that and then, a thin coating of chocolate on the top! Kind of like eating a peanut butter chocolate Easter egg but in a form a tad like cheese cake then too.

Maya, Mandy and I very much enjoyed the little treat but Kurtis took one look at it and declared hewasn't eating THAT! All he wanted at that point to make him happy and his day complete -a glass (or sippy cup) of chocolate milk! Mandy got him that and as he drank the milk, he kept glancing at his piece of this chocolate-peanut butter concoction and finally, he decided to take the plunge and try a bit of it.

It disappeared quickly and just about as fast, he headed off to don pj's and off to bed he went giving us the benefit then of a quiet and very peaceful night!

Saturday, the plan was that Aunt Carrie and cousin Alex were coming up for supper, Uncle Clate and Elizabeth were coming too along with a good fried of Clate's who is also a very good friend of Mandy's too -Jeff -was going to be here with us too. So Gram had to fix supper!

Because, after all, this dinner was in honor of Kurt's birthday, I figured it made good sense to make his favorite thing -Macaroni and Cheese, of course and so I set out to fix a big batch of homemade Mac 'n'Cheese and along with that, picked up some chicken breasts that already had barbeque seasoning on them to bake up as well. That plus a tossed salad and presto magic, easy fix supper -well, except for the time it required for me to be on my feet all afternoon ya know.

Carrie was supposed to be bringing an ice cream cake with her -and Kurtis knew that was coming so of course, he was all excited over that prospect. We had said that dinner would be served between 6 and 6:30 but as always in this house, with older daughter going to be present, a time for a meal is usually just a "ballpark" figure but one that I do try to meet if at all possible.

Carrie phoned around 4 p.m. to say she just woke up (she works midnight shift) and had to shower and get dressed but then, she and Alex would be on their way up here for supper and dessert.

I have yet to figure out how long it take her to get a shower and dress but boy, must be one hell of a long shower and dressing for any occasion is apparently a very long drawn out process too. It was shortly after 8 p.m. by the time they arrived!

Darned near missing Kurtis as he was starting to wear down by then since his normal bedtime is between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

And I was ticked off over their late arrival too -more because I knew that on the way up here, they had also stopped at a McDonald's to get something to eat! What the hell had I cooked all this damned chicken and huge batch of macaroni and cheese for anyway? Christmas?

Things like that really do tick me off and after having put up with this for the past several years now, Saturday night I was ready to blow a gasket and informed them that I will no longer cook large family dinners. I will cook for us, for whoever I KNOW will be here and if they arrive late and there is nothing remaining, well so be it!

The rest of the evening and even Sunday, I don't think the older daughter said more than 10 words to me then that whole time.

She may not feel my actions, my words, my feelings too, were justified but by damn, I do and I'm just plain tired of working to put a decent meal on the table and have it eaten while the flavor is still good, the temperature is okay too and all that only to have someone ignore my efforts in that manner! She -by the way -ate nothing! The grandson did have about 3/4 of a chicken breast but that was all.

So, Mandy, the kids and I have thus eaten chicken breast and mac 'n' cheese three days in a row now till it was all gone tonight. Finally!

At supper this evening, we had to play the normal game of 20 Questions from Kurtis and another 20 or better too from Maya as they flooded us with inquiries about everything and anything.

Maya didn't want this mac'n'cheese because she said it wasn't cheesey enough to suit her tastes so I had to doctor it up a bit by placing several slices of cheese on top of the leftover casserole in order to make it cheesey enough for her! Kurtis didn't want any chicken either because after all he doesn't like chicken -even though on Saturday when I had to run into town for a few last minute items I needed and we stopped at McDonald's for lunch, he and Maya each had a small container of their new product -McBites -the $1.99 size -which was just the right size for one pack per child and they ate every last bite of that stuff then too!

So, don't be giving me this "I don't like chicken" routine, Kiddo!

As I sliced up into tiny bite sized portions a small piece of chicken breast for him, he kept carping to me about how he doesn't like chicken, yatta yatta, and I kept telling him how he was full of bull pucky too! Told him this was just like what he had eaten on Saturday except it didn't have a coating on it!

So then he starts with the questions -"Is this supper, Gram?" And being the smart alec I am at times and liking, as I do, to occasionally play head games with the kids, I told him no, this wasn't supper, it was breakfast. That got a rise out of Maya who said no, this couldn't be breakfast and finally, Kurtis looks at me and asks me, "Are you just kidding me, Gram?"

Yes, baby -that's exactly what I was doing and it was fun to see him realize the difference between a joke and truth.

Somehow or other, the conversation from Maya at supper turned to shaving then. How it got in that direction, I really don't know but it started with Kurtis making a statement about animals and that people are animals -he was meaning "mammals" but it was coming out as "Mamimals" and anyway, Maya commented then that animals all have hair. From there it led to shaving, and what do people shave, etc? Her response to that was that they have to shave their hairy butts!

Yeah go figure where that came from, huh?

But all in all, it ended up being a fairly peaceful meal with both kids eating the food on their plate after all and that's the most important part of any meal in this house, ya know!

Mandy picked up the photos she had taken of the kids a couple weeks back by a photographer over in Clearfield and I finally got my prints then from the group. I scanned them in last night and it is with great pride tonight that I'm gonna share them with you! Well, not all of 'em -but at least a couple of them anyway!

And, last but certainly not least -here's the "family" portrait then too!
Can you tell how proud I am of them and these photos? So nice to get a photo of Kurtis especially in which he looked at the camera and smiled nicely -not one of his normal clowning around type of picture. And Maya -well, she is just a definite little ham, isn't she!

And finally -this evening I managed to end my ordeal and fight with my Reader! At least for now it is working again and doing a better job than it has done for a long, long time now too!

How did I get that to happen? Well, I don't know if this was really the cure but it sure seems to have done the trick. I had opened my blog and gone to the "My Dashboard" page and decided to take a chance and try Google's "New integrated page" suggestion. When it opened my blog, it also showed my reader plus, off to the side, there was an area you could click to go to one's reader which I did and voila, the darned thing began to work, fine and dandy, again!

Now I ask you, why couldn't the Google people have noted that solution (if that is what this actually was for me) or at least, given it as a suggestion to try instead of leaving people like myself in the dark, fighting, struggling to get something to work so as to be able to utilize the darned Reader once again!

Oh well, we shall see if that was the cure-all or not as I test drive it over the next couple of days.

If it doesn't fail on me then, I will assume this was all it needed to be fixed. Thankfully, if that's the case, it was a good and also pretty darned easy cure -just one that took the better part of the day for me to find it!

And, that's all!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Okay, I moaned and groaned in my last post about all my computer woes so won't go into details here again about all that crapola.

But the thing is, right now, I'm just not feeling really chipper as there are all kinds of other things swirling about in my mind right now that I just don't have a good hold on apparently and you know what, I really could use?

A hug would be nice!

Even better, I was thinking of this for a surprise and definitely a pick-me-upper -for me anyway -and what would do the trick would be if someone -or say a group of people -would send me a Gourmet Gift Basket!

Yeppers! And I can even tell you the one that would really bring loads of smiles and comfort to me is the one with the cute little Teddy Bear in it as well as a nice soup packet too! (I didn't see any chocolates or other candies so it would be appropriate with respect to the freaking issues I've been having of late with my blood sugar and diet too!)

Plus, just to show how thoughtful I'm trying to be about this, it's also one of the least expensive of those baskets too!

But then again, you know what, pictures of nice comforting things probably work just as well, don't 'cha think?

I Surrender!

Well, after fighting for the past almost 2 hours now with my Reader (Google product, Reader) and having not an iota of success, I am ready to surrender, to call it quits, at least for the rest of today.

So, for any of you -and I think most of you know who you are that I subscribe to or that I follow -if you have even a modicum of a clue as to how to get the darned reader to operate correctly, please feel free to contact me via the e-mail address on my blog here!

This happened to me about 3 days ago and I fought with it then for several hours and then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, it started to load, allowed me to click open the blog posts and read and even -amazing as this may seem -marked the blogs off then as having been read!

Today, it stated out doing the same thing to me -not letting me pull up any blog showing on my reader, not even allowing me to open the blog separately from my reader either for that matter and definitely not showing whether I'd read a post or not. Just a big fat nothing.

Then it did break down and allowed me to read all of ten blog posts and marked them off as being read but it wouldn't load up any more of the 60 plus posts waiting for me to read!

And just in case you're wondering, yes indeed, this does piss me off -greatly!

In other computer problems, I also could not sign in for over an hour this morning to a special women's group I subscribe to. My computer kept taking me to a "sign up" page -not to the "sign in" site for people who are already members but finally, that somehow self-corrected.

Then there is the continuing problem I've been having for close to two weeks now on Facebook in that I can't scroll down through posts there using the "down" button on my keyboard. If I use that, it takes me to the absolute bottom of the page so the only way I can scroll down now is via the scroll bar on the right hand side of my screen. If I can get into my reader though, I can go down the page using the "down" button fine and dandy!

Go figure!

So if any of you -my dear readers -have any clues whatsoever as to how to get my stupid, stinking, good-for-nothing, freaking reader to work or to get the "down" arrow on my keypad to stop taking me to the very bottom of the page on Facebook and would let me know -in simple (VERY SIMPLE, EASY TO FOLLOW) English, I sure would be forever in your debt.

And I'll also give you a great reference to become a Google employee to help other dumb-dumbs like me get their systems operating and functioning fully -the way they are supposed to be!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Whose Lucky Day Is It?

Yep. Today was someone's birthday here. Someone pretty doggone special to me too as a matter of fact.

Someone who, two nights ago, as Mandy was finishing up helping Maya get her bath, he came running to her, then to me, mouth wide open (and baby, I do mean WIDE Open too) point to his mouth/throat to show us that he had just managed to release a "wiggler"in the upper front part of his gum area!

So now today, Kurtis, my little semi-toothless boy wonder, is now six years old!

And it seems so hard to believe that he is that old -already!

It was just yesterday he was a newborn and scaring the living daylights out of his poor mother the night after he was born when the nurses and doctor thought he had somehow managed to get some kind of liquid into his lungs and to be on the safe side, he then spent the first couple days of his life in the NICU at Dubois Regional Hospital. But thankfully, nothing more materialized from that so his homecoming was only delayed two days after Mandy's!

He's had a few issues from a tonsillectomy when he was a little over 2 years old and had no vocabulary at all, no way to communicate and also, could not drink except via a bottle -which was pretty hard for him to do to suck on that with his throat being all raw and such from the surgery. They kept him -thankfully -overnight, for that procedure to keep tabs on his fluid intake and then, released him on the second day only to readmit him a day and a half later because he wasn't drinking anything and was dehydrating. So he spent then an additional 4 days in the hospital from that episode. That 4th day, Pastor Carrie had been over to the hospital to visit with him and Mandy (who, by the way had to stay with him at the hospital the entire time) and when she left, Mandy had suggested maybe some prayers for him to start drinking would be in order and gee whiz, that very afternoon then, he began to accept drinking from his bottle again so he was then released the next day!

The poor kid has been plagued by the allergies -predominately those pertaining to the outside world, plants and such and some days he is just miserable with his nose being so stuffed up and such. But, thankfully, he does have some meds now that while not curing his problems, are helping him a lot.

He -like his older sister, Maya -was also diagnosed as having Autism too. But thankfully, when we saw the signs and symptoms of autism appearing in him, we had more of an idea of what to do next, how to request and receive help for him almost immediately then in the form of early intervention therapies.

And they worked! Thanks to the fantastic efforts of Berta -his occupational therapist; Kerri, his behavior therapist and Mandy, his speech therapist, we got some really good results then!

Is he "cured" now? Oh, my now! But he's doing great, moving right along in his kindergarten class, struggling to learn to read now and also, how to deal with other children his age and interact with them in an acceptable way.

He's a little imp at times but usually -especially when it's just him and Maya playing together -he tends to be the victim and Maya does have a propensity to be a bit of a bully to him. Part of that I would attribute to the normal aspect of sibling rivalry as well as Maya being maybe more than a bit jealous of Kurt because he's taken away her sole occupancy on the Queen Bee's throne here you could say. And I'm sure too that the Autism factor in him, as well as in his sister, also plays heavily in this issue too.

Thursday afternoon and the entire evening up until he went to bed, he was running around here and repeating (ad nauseum, really) "It's your lucky day!" (I think maybe his TSS -Miss Dawn -may have said that to him yesterday but meaning it that today (Friday, the 13th) was his lucky day and he just interpreted in his own way. But anyway, we kept correcting him, telling him that today would be "his lucky day."

So this morning then when I took him out to get on the van to go to school, his driver, Miss April, greeted him right away by wishing him Happy Birthday. He muttered something to her but I couldn't make out what he had said then. I started telling him then to tell Miss April what today was but he wasn't listening to me at first. So I kept repeating this to him "Kurt, what's today? What's today?" And after a few seconds he looked around the van a bit then up and me, with a sort of confused look on his face and he said "Sunny?"

It took me a couple more times of trying to prod him into the response I was looking for and finally, he said it -"It's my lucky day!"

Maya had insisted on giving him the special birthday present she had picked out for him last Friday when we were over at Walmart getting groceries. It was a small racecar type thing and was very inexpensive so I had purchased it for her to give it to him. Well, first thing this morning, since she knew exactly where I'd place the bag with the Lego car she was giving him along with another little Lego toy I had bought for him too, she had taken that car out of the bag and presented it to him as soon as he came downstairs!

Then, even as Mandy and I were both yelling at her NOT to open the cellophane packet with all those itty-bitty Lego pieces in it this morning, she stood there and snipped the packet wide open and dumped all these little piece onto the coffee table and of course, he dug right into that and started working to put it together! I was worried he would get really obsessed then with working/playing with it and that when his van would arrive, he would get really crabby and not want to leave it to go to school.

Fortunately for me, that didn't happen although neither of us realized his van had arrived so had to rush around a bit then to get his jacket on him and find his backpack and get him moving on out the door to get on the van then!

By the time I got back into the house though, I could tell by the myriad of little Legos that were now laying around on the floor that while I was outside getting him on the van, the goofy dog (Sammy) and the equally goofy cat (Pearl) had decided to have a friendly romp and chase in the living room during which time the cat had evidently jumped up on the table and that move had then scattered the darned Lego pieces all over the place.

So Gram had to then bend over -which is no easy task for me, mind you -and proceed to pick up all these darned pieces and put them in the little bag then for safekeeping.

The whole time I was doing that pickup job though in the back of my mind I was seeing a different time, different place but it involved me moving around bent over and picking oodles and oodles of those stinking little lights to a Light Bright set that my son's Godparents had given him one year for Christmas. And in my mind, I could still hear his Godmother, my good friend Priscilla, whispering to me as she and her husband Ted left to go home that Christmas night "I just sucked 'em up from the floor with the vacuum cleaner. It works wonders!"

And I could sort of imagine that at some day maybe in the near future now, Mandy or maybe even I would be running the vacuum and aiming the old hose right at a whole bunch of Lego pieces!

Tomorrow though we will be having our special dinner plus an Ice Cream Cake -compliments of Aunt Carrie and cousin, Alex -to celebrate this big occasion in Kurt's life. A good friend of the family will also be here to join us in the fun of watching him open a few more gifts and then, blow out those six candles on his special cake.

I can't locate any photos on my computer right now of Kurtis taken six years ago in the hospital but this is one of the earlier pictures -and also one of my favorites -of him when he was almost 3 years old.

Just a little out of order here, but also one of my favorite pics of Kurtis -this was him celebrating his first birthday with his very own first birthday cake. He still prefers to use fingers instead of utensils when eating, even today! (Much to his mother's and my chagrin!)

And here he is, two days ago, being his normal little clown self whenever the camera is around. But in this case, he's showing off his big gaping hole where he lost that front tooth!

Wonder if at Christmas his favorite song might just be "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth?"

But one thing is for sure and that is this that today -April 13th -may be Kurt's lucky day alright but as far as I'm concerned it really is mine because it sure was his entry into my life that makes this MY lucky day too!

Happy Sixth Birthday to Gram's littlest prince and sweetheart grandson, Kurtis!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Crazy Day(s)

I've been intending to write this post for the past 2-3 days now and finally am getting around to actually doing it. I've had it in my mind what I wanted to write but then, something else would come up, or someone else was using the computer, or the phone would ring, or I had to leave to attend a meeting at church or something else, again and again and again.

But now, here it is almost 2 a.m. and finally, no one else around, no risk of an interruption of the telephone either and with yet another day almost totally down the tubes for me, I think I can gather my thoughts together in a semi-coherent style to put them down in writing.

Maybe. Cross your fingers on that!

So what's been happening anyway?

Well, for openers there was Easter and of course, church, the Easter Breakfast at church, kids and their baskets and all that stuff. Plus there was also Easter dinner here with Mandy, the kids, my son and his girlfriend, Elizabeth too. And much of that also means a whole lot of time in the kitchen for you-know-who, don't 'cha?

Saturday, I baked 4 loaves of Swedish Limpa Rye bread plus a round almond filled coffee cake and two pans of sweet rolls too. One batch of the sweet rolls had a Lemon Curd filling and the other batch, blackberry-lemon curd. All three of the sweet breads turned out good for me, as did the rye bread and they went to church then for the Easter Breakfast.

Here's some photos of my baked items -just to offer up proof positive that I did this!

First up - the Swedish Limpa Rye Bread -which I do love, especially fresh from the oven, still warm, slathered with real butter. (And, I wonder why I have a weight problem, huh?)

This upper photo is the almond-filled coffee cake -the lower photo is the coffee cake alongside the pan of Lemon Curd Sweet rolls. (I just found this recipe -finally -for the lemon curd filled rolls -early last week and tried it with great results. Mandy and I had polished off the entire pan of rolls within 24 hours time and they were sooooo darned good too! Sunday afternoon, before dinner, my son sampled one of the lemon curd sweet rolls and they definitely passed muster with him then too! So, I guess this is going to become a common item for me to bake here now along with the Limpa Rye bread.

Saturday night, although I was achy tired, I had been having difficulty the latter part of all of last week falling asleep and there was no exception then Saturday night either. Finally, I fell off to sleep around 2 a.m. but woke up shortly before 4 a.m. to go make a visit to the bathroom. When I returned to bed, Miss Maya was awake and wanted to know what time it was. I told her it was way to early to get up as it wasn't yet 4 a.m. and she then confessed to me that she had been out of bed while I was in the bathroom and of course, had been doing a quick search downstairs then too for any trace of the Easter Bunny having been here. She was quite disappointed to tell me that he hadn't been here then so I had to explain to her reasons why he might have been delayed in getting around to our house.

I told her that he might have had more baskets than he had initially figured on to drop off and that might have slowed him down or perhaps he ran out of gas or even had his vehicle break down and had to lose time to get it fixed. All kinds of problems ya know that could have set him back on his schedule. Then I also told her that she needed to think about the fact that she and Kurtis hadn't always been really good little kids and who knows, but maybe the Easter Bunny wasn't even planning a stop at our house after all. Plus, I informed her too that if he was on his way to our house that he definitely would not stop here if he knew there was a child awake cause he won't come and leave any goodies where the kids are still awake, ya know.

Boy, I wish you could have seen how quickly she grabbed up the covers and flipped over on her side, eyes tightly closed to invite the sleep to return to her! Just too doggone funny!

By the time I left for church -as I was going to help get things on the table for the Breakfast that was going to be served between the 7 a.m. and the 10 a.m. services -the kids were both enjoying having discovered their Easter baskets after all!

The Breakfast -at first -looked like not many from the early service were staying to eat and that perhaps we wouldn't get a good turnout for it, but then gradually those planning to attend the 10 a.m. service plus partake of breakfast started to show up so I think we probably ended up serving 60-70 folks a really good breakfast!

After church, I came home and headed straight to the kitchen to get my ham in the oven, potatoes ready (easy-peasy cheaters -boxed scalloped potatoes with cheese), asparagus, corn and a jello vegetable slaw too that the kids made fun of when I put it on the table. All three of my kids absolutely love the old movie, "Better Off Dead" and especially the one scene where the young man's mother had made some green, goopy concoction that appeared to walk off the plate and across the table and so, my son and Mandy both had a field day comparing my jello slaw salad to that mixture in the movie. It wasn't quite that gross and tasted fine -even both kids actually agreed with that aspect to my jello salad at any rate. Of course, no small children would go near it but I never expected any positive response from those two over that dish anyway!

After dinner, Mandy and the kids went up to my son's house for an Easter Egg Hunt that Elizabeth had planned for them and her ltitle guy, Ryan. Boy, talk about some excited children when they returned home from that. Each of them had a big plastic trash bag filled almost to the brim with oodles and oodles of little plastic eggs that they would open and find either a toy or a little piece of candy then inside the egg. Nice fun for them, yes but a nice mess to behold after they popped open all those eggs!

Oh well. Only little kids once during your lifetime. Right?

Monday, with no school that day and Mandy had work, all three of the kids therapists were here Monday afternoon to work with the kids -and also, to have some crazy and fun conversations then with me and with Mandy when she got home from work. There was a small catastrophe though pertaining to those eggs from Sunday from the egg hunt when, on Monday, Mandy discovered that one of Kurt's eggs contained a page of little stickers but she didn't get anything like that in any of her eggs and wow, you'd have darned near thought the lack of one silly page of stickers was an "end of the world as we know it" type of event! It definitely made for good fodder from the kids one therapist -Miss Randi- to work on the aspect of we all don't get the same type things information with Maya!

Later in the afternoon, Maya even got a phone call from a little girl who used to live up the street from us but who had moved last fall to York, PA. Seems she was here, visiting at her Grandma's house and wanted to know if she and Maya could get together and play. So, as a result, Tori came down here for a while and when she left, Maya went to her Gram's house with her then and spent the night there!

It was really neat to see how happy and excited Maya was at the prospect of doing a "sleepover" with Tori and to realize just how far Maya has come now -thanks to all the efforts of all the many therapists who have worked with her long and hard over the past six years since we had the initial intervention and began services with the local agency! Actually, seeing how far BOTH these kids have come thanks to the therapists, is such a blessing. Truly a Godsend, for sure!

What was really neat about Tori coming down here for a while to play with Maya on Monday afternoon was the fact that two of Maya's therapists were here then and they could each then observe for themselves how well Maya did interacting then with Tori! Good to see the fruits of their labors, for sure!

Tuesday afternoon, I had an appointment in Philipsburg to get my taxes done -not exactly my idea of a fun thing, ya know. I took all my little income forms and such and headed off to find out if I was going to need a small business loan to pay the IRS but I lucked out in that I only owe them $83 and another $7 on top of that for our local income tax then too!

But even so, it kind of irks me the way the tax process is run. I know, first-hand, that if your employment is of a very low paying variety and especially if you have dependents, when you file, you can almost guarantee then because of the way the tax laws operate, that you will get a full refund of what you paid in and in most cases then, also get back MORE than you paid in too! I know, that may come as a shocker to some folks but trust me, as one who qualified for that aspect of a windfall via the IRA, you have to already be living on below poverty level wages so it really isn't that big of a windfall after all.

However, I got to figuring before I went in for my appointment though that my income -which I receive for some services rendered and which comes to me with no deductions from it -is not very much -actually it only amounted to a mere $680 for all of last year -but once you earn over $600, you have to file a tax form on that figure. Well, having glanced at a tax workbook and seeing that the standard deduction was like $7,800 I was kind of hoping that by filing that my little earnings would be "equalized" so to speak because of the standard deduction and I wouldn't have to pay anything. Well, turns out that it wishful thinking though because part of the fee I had to pay for taxes was either $48 or $52 (I don't recall now which figure it was) for a "Self-employed business tax" right off the top anyway!

Sheesh! The IRS gets you coming or going, don't they?

But in another little wild hair kind of dream I had about the IRS, I was thinking wouldn't it be nice if they paid me! Sure, why not? If I was entitled to this $7,800 plus change deduction as a standard and only earned this small amount, then why couldn't or shouldn't I then get the balance then between the deduction and my income -just like other poor people do when they file and get all they paid in back plus extra? Hey, the idea made sense to me!

Just wasn't something that would wash with the IRS though. Drat it anyway!

I'm not really grumping that much about what I do have to pay as it isn't as much as I owed last year, so that's a good thing, isn't it?

Tuesday though was really the craziest day out of the last few days here though as the weather here was really wild and strange.

About 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, I happened to glance out the window and to my shock, there was a mess of stuff falling from the sky! Rain, snow, sleet -maybe even some hail mixed in there too -but it was really pelting it down too, very hard and fast! This storm stuff lasted not all that long -perhaps 10-15 minutes or so, I think and then, suddenly it was gone and the sun was shining really bright and nice. Hmmm. Gonna be a decent day after all, I thought! Boy, turns out I was wrong about that too!

Several times during the day all of a sudden, we'd have another blast of winter strike and in a short amount of time, it would pass and then sunshine would return and then, a little while later, back to the wintry mix all over again! As it was, I did finally manage during one sunny period around 3 p.m. to take Sammy out for a short walk but boy, I was bundled up like you'd have thought there was a true blizzard or below zero temps here! The sunshine, when it did appear, still didn't do much to raise the temperatures in the process so the temps were a lot lower feeling than they really were due to the wind chill factoring in there plus it was a raw cold -the kind that goes straight through you, clean to the bone, ya know! (And that plus the fact that I tend to freeze it seems at the drop of the hat, you better believe I was all bundled up when Sam and I ventured out!)

We splurged for supper as Mandy called the kitchen up at the local Moose and ordered food from there. Our neighbor's daughter is the cook and boy, she puts together a really great cheese steak hoagie -which I ordered -plus, you should have seen the size of the steak salad Mandy got! Holy rip! If that was a small salad, I don't think I'd be able to handle trying to eat a large steak salad there! Mandy couldn't even finish all of her small salad, that's how big it was so trust me when I tell you then that it definitely was an order in which we got our money's worth!

After supper, I crashed in the recliner in about 10 minutes after I sat down there. But about 8 p.m., Kurtis woke me up to show me his big news event of the night! Seems he has had a "wiggler" tooth -front and center, upper -and tonight, it popped out so he was really excited to come and put his face right up in mine, mouth wide open, to show Grammy this gaping hole there now!

After that, Mandy ended up having to answer a kazillion questions from both the kids about the impending visit tonight -probably anyway -from the tooth fairy! At least, I don't think  Kurtis is afraid to put his tooth under his pillow like Maya was! Way back when she began to lose her teeth, she told Mandy to put her tooth under Gram's pillow because she didn't want some fairy flying around her head while she slept!

And those things -the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy -all things that before we know it will be things of the past as the time of their belief in these things will soon be just distant memories, won't they?

Sad on one hand to realize this and yet, so nice to see how quickly they are growing up, maturing and turning into the person they will ultimately be some day.

But for right now, most of the days in this house with these two younguns are still more than a bit on the crazy side and you know what?

I wouldn't want it any other way!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Little Renovations

Last Saturday was the big removal day for everything that's been residing in our attic for the past 20 plus years! It all had to come out -and either be pitched as garbage, burned or temporarily stored elsewhere in the house because we're scheduled to get additional insulation put in the attic sometime in the next 2-3 weeks or so.

What a job -and what a mess too -that was!

A lot of stuff did make its way to Goodwill -mainly all kinds of odds and ends dishes and stuff like that along with some clothes and toys that the kids no longer can use. So not everything found its way to the trash or burn pile.

Two things that are still here with us though are of the chair variety. One is an old, old wooden kitchen-type chair that the seat in it was half broken out but the chair itself is nice and also pretty sturdy. Mandy's ex-husband happened to be here that day visiting the kids and he ended up helping Mandy with the attic cleaning and it was his opinion that we could still make good use of that chair simply by removing the old seat and having a new seat put in there. Now, I'm wondering if he is going to volunteer his time and knowledge and fix that chair for us too? There's a possibility, huh?

The other chair though was a surprise find to me and I had no idea that this was hiding in the attic! But it seems somehow a swivel chair -of the office variety -had made its way to the attic but the back on it was damaged although the seat part was still in very good shape. The "son-in-law" checked it against the office chair I've been using at my computer desk and ascertained that the back from the current chair would fit easily on the frame of the chair in the attic and so, he switched them out and now, I have a slightly new (to me), semi-used, desk chair! (The seat in my old chair was very worn and the padding was falling apart so now, this one has a nice, attractive seat to it and who cares that the back of the chair is a dark grey tweed and the seat is a solid black color! The chair works and that's all that matters to me!)

Just a darned good thing that neither of these chairs were leather though because I don't think leather restoration is something that the former son-in-law has any knowledge about doing!

The only problem I have with this new-to-me desk chair though is that it's just a trifle tricky if you lean back a bit in it and tends to tilt or give you the feeling it's going to upend itself with you sitting in it!

Wonder what needs to be done to correct that?

Watch the Wardrobe....

Today -April 6th -is a big day within my family.

It's time to celebrate yet another birthday -this time, my older daughter's. We won't go into details here as to how hold (or young) she is but suffice it to say that yes, she is sure getting old and fast! She'll just love me for saying that!

I've mentioned earlier this week here about how darned forgetful -senile, many would say -I am these days but did I also mention that last Sunday when she was here for dinner and I had baked a cake (angel food) and had fresh sliced strawberries to put on the cake (as well as some yummy vanilla bean ice cream to go with it) that I had also forgotten though to give her the little birthday present I had here for her? Yeah, forgot all about that aspect, I did!

We've got another birthday coming up next Friday too as Kurtis will celebrate his 6th birthday then on the 13th -so I'd better get as much of this forgetfulness and these stinky little senility factors sorted out and do it soon too!

Kurt's been doing a whole lot of planning for his big day for quite sometime now though as every commercial he sees on TV for something he likes (which is most everything in the toy department, of course) and every visit to any store that has any toys, and he's been telling anyone who will listen what items he is going to get for his birthday. Apparently he hasn't received the news flash yet that Mom and Grammy didn't win the Mega Millions Lottery last week!

Speaking of gifts though, I saw something that I wish I'd seen earlier and could then have ordered older daughter's present from Discount Scrubs as I see they have a scrub top available in the Autism puzzle print! Now, that would have made for a really nice gift for my daughter since she works at a local hospital and this month is also Autism Awareness month.

Guess I'll just have to pay more attention to all this stuff going on around me, won't I?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Still Freezing!

Boy, what a conundrum!

Here it is, beautiful weather -sunny, bright, nice temperatures too again after a bit of a cold snap last week -and wouldn't you just know it but I am still having issues where I feel as if I am freezing!

Although over the winter months, which were compared to many winters here, very mild, because Mandy was trying to keep our fuel usage at the dullest roar possible, I was constantly freezing and kept myself wrapped almost all the time with a warm blanket draped over my legs and shoulders too. Frequently I would have days when I just couldn't get warm and stay warm no matter what I did.

But, Mandy was thinking with the nice weather seeming to have arrived that those issues of mine would now be a thing of the past season except that unfortunately, I'm still having those same problems -still!

Yesterday was one of those days when my toes, fingers and even my nose felt like ice cubes! And that, when the sun was shining so nice and the outdoor temps were in the 60s, should not have been the case, but it was.

I was beginning to think I'd have to be getting some Big Agnes sleeping bags to get thawed out and stay unfrozen!

I don't know how our fuel usage for the past winter measures up to previous years of fuel consumption but near as I can calculate, we've used less than 500 gallons from September through the end of March. Going to have to contact our fuel supplier to get some usage figures and make comparisons though and then, since we will be having more insulation put in the attic this month, maybe next year we'll see a change -hopefully a drop -in that consumption.

Or at least a way to keep the heat in the house so I won't constantly be feeling like a big old popsicle!

Putting Meat On!

One thing I DON'T have -unfortunately -is a problem gaining weight! Far from it as it is the reverse and for the past several months, has been creeping up on me, little by little. Part of it stems from the fact that until recently I wasn't walking Sammy regularly and I do believe those walks did help me trim a few pounds about 2 years ago and also, to then keep that little bit of a loss off then too.

But another part of my problem is also that yes, I do like to eat! Not just eat because it is a necessity but because I enjoy it too! I blame some of the weight too on the fact that I can't prepare a lot of things that would be lower calories because of the grandkids and the fact they are more than a bit snooty at times about foods. However, I have to confess there too that while they love pastas and it's is one of the food types they generally will eat -and with gusto too -I also am a big lover of pasta anything as well and carbs equal calories and calories (especially without enough exercise) equals fat! Pure and simple as that, huh?

One thing though that does bother me a good bit pertaining to weight and such is my son and how poorly I know he eats since he is on the road and barely has enough time to manage a pit stop for a quick bite. He says he eats enough and is fine but I'd be willing to bet a dollar to donuts that what he eats are generally of the junk foods categories -chips and such, occasionally a piece of pizza.

Granted, he is tall and naturally thin -doesn't have an inclination towards putting weight on (like his Dad, that way) but still I worry that he isn't getting the proper nutrition he should have. Although he is slim, that doesn't mean he doesn't have muscles though so at least I'm not going to be worried about him trying to either lose weight (fat chance) or getting into taking stuff in order to build-up muscles. So it is doubtful I'll ever have to get him to understand the side effects of myoripped.

I know not all products that fall in that category are necessarily bad or harmful however, they can be, especially if they are not used correctly.

And who needs any more problems than life already gives us!


Down The Road...

The past week has been full of all kinds of things -from problems that got resolved to new problems to funny things the kids have done and said and also, to watching my little spec of the world come to life once again.

This past Sunday -of course -was Palm Sunday and we celebrated it at our church with a beautiful service that even included the congregation entering the sanctuary carrying palms and singing the processional hymn as we walked towards the altar and then turned to head back and take our seats in or near the pews we normally sit in. The funny thing about this processional is that before the start of the service, the minister for that day was inquiring of a good friend and neighbor as to the way we normally handle the procession, the distribution of the palms, etc. My friend couldn't remember how we usually did that so she called over to me and asked if I remembered what or how we handled this.

Now, she really should have known better than to ask me something like this because all too frequently these days, she knows, my memory has often become toast! And that's exactly what it was Sunday morning on that topic.

The Pastor giggled a bit and asked if there was anyone else nearby who might recollect our procedures and my friend noticed another lady -who is super involved in anything and everything at our church -and she said she figured if anyone would know, it would be her.

I laughed then and joking with the Pastor said "Yeah.  Ask the one who is 80-years-old to get information on past services!" And yes, that woman knew the answers to the Pastor's questions alright which got us all to laughing a bit more then about the situation because my friend is a mere 75 and here I am, the youngest of the group, at 67 and neither of us could remember how we'd done that in the past!

What made it a bit funnier -to me -though was that the day before Palm Sunday had been my friend's birthday and Sunday, April 1st, was her husband's birthday. Two occasions which I have always remembered and always get some cards for each of them. Well, almost always that is. Because later that morning after the service was ended, my daughter asked me if I'd forgotten someone's birthday. I looked at her questioningly and asked what she was talking about. All she had to do then was say "Uh, Mom. March 31st and April 1st?" And it hit me! I had forgotten both of their birthdays! Boy, the memory is really going down the tubes and at a really fast rate of speed too!

Since I had to go to the store for the Sunday paper, I lucked out and found two cards -one for each of them -and got them but didn't get them delivered to them until Monday when I had Mandy drop them off when she left to run into town for some stuff. Better late than never, for sure, huh?

Normally, I have the cards for these two purchased either in January or at least by the end of February and I stash them in the china closet here so that when the time comes around then I can't find where exactly I hid them in that place! But this year --the fact that their birthdays were nearing never once crossed my mind and even over the weekend, it sure as heck never surfaced for me then either.

Oh well. Guess more absentmindedness is the upcoming thing on my personal agenda, isn't it?

Last week though, I had meant to write about something I'd noticed a week ago Sunday as I was on my way out to church that morning. Along the one road in particular between my home and our church, there were trees that had begun to show their colors and leaves, even buds and were so pretty. I thought then about after church, going home and grabbing my camera and coming back out to get some photos of them but of course, don't you just know it, I forgot about doing that too!

But it's something that I've been watching a lot lately -the way so many of the trees are developing again -a sure sign that spring is here and before we know it, they'll all be in full arrays of leaves or blossoms galore, I'm sure! Hopefully sometime this week I'll remember when I take Sammy for our walk of the day, to get the camera and take a few pictures of those scenes.

Now, this week, the kids are all excited because they won't have school on Thursday or Friday and that also, come Sunday, they're positive that there will be Easter baskets filled with candy and other little things for them too. That is, after church and after we attend the Easter Breakfast too at church! Which should be an interesting meal I think considering we serve egg casseroles, fruit salad and sweet rolls so I can see it now that all these kids will eat at that breakfast is gonna be a little bit of a sweet roll!

Kurtis refuses completely to eat eggs and Maya will turn her nose up at the casseroles too because they have potatoes in 'em! Sheesh! I hope these two hurry up and outgrow this picky business with the foods cause at times, it really gets very frustrating!

This past Sunday, my older daughter came up Sunday afternoon to pick up Alex -her son (the older grandson) and I had cooked a nice roast beef dinner with oven-roasted new potatoes in the broth from the meat along with carrots and a special treat for dessert -angel food cake with strawberries and ice cream! The cake was for my daughter's birthday which will be this Friday but she will have to work that day and all weekend too and won't be able to get up here for her "birthday meal" so we had it a bit early. Then, when she left, don't you know but I forgot to give her the birthday present I have for her too!

Anyone have any suggestions of anything a person can do or take, perhaps, that helps keep the memory from evaporating?

If I don't figure out something that will help me remember things better it's going to be a long, hard journey then down that road ahead, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Risky Behaviors!

One thing that is usually a good thing around here is the attitude the kids -both Maya and Kurt -generally have about going to church as well as attending Sunday School too. We had some really bumpy roads with each one of them at times when they were much younger but thankfully, those issues have been pretty well ironed out.

Well, most of the time that's true. However, this past Sunday -Palm Sunday -I was more than a bit upset and irritated with some of the things Maya persisted in doing off and on throughout the service!

We had to be out at church before 10 a.m. in order for the kids to be able to go to Sunday School and this Sunday, I had to be there then too because guess who had volunteered a few months ago to teach Sunday School on Palm Sunday? Yep, that would be me! And the class I had volunteered to teach? None other than Miss Maya's group!

Okay -so this past Sunday there were only three kids from her class there -Maya, a girl she's friends with in school as well as at church and a boy who is about a year older than Kurtis. That boy is also a twin but because sometimes when the two boys are in the same class (taught by their Dad) the two together can be a bit overwhelming mainly because they are both very advanced learners too!

Boy, are they ever!

The class began with Maya obsessing with a World Globe sitting on the class table and she was intent then on discussing geography. Okay -I decided I could use that curiosity to my advantage and tell the kids that the story from the Bible we would be working on was to be about Esther from the book of Esther and that her story took place in the land we know today as Iran. Well, that idea lasted maybe not quite a minute!

Sam -the twin -did get interested in geographic stuff but unfortunately, he was more into telling us various factoids he knew about places like Russia and even China too. Seems he was amazed at the information he'd learned somewhere that China has over 30 billion people. (I think he told us 30 billion. Does that sound right? I didn't check on his figures to make sure of the population there -30 billion or only a mere 30 million -a whole lot of citizens in one big old country anyway.)

Well, he was rattling off those facts and when he took a breath for a second or two after his announcement about the population, I made mention of another fact along those lines -that China has the largest population in the world!

Boy, wish you could have seen his eyes as they got as big a saucers and he said "Really?" I assured him I was right about that bit of information and he then told me -in a very astonished tone of voice -"Thank you for telling me that as I didn't know that!" Wow! You'd have sworn I'd just made his day!

But anyway, we made our way through the class and I was able to use the Biblical text to bring the discussion around to what was actually supposed to be the current day topic of Bullying. And all three of the kids made mention of some things that have happened to them at school that they felt fit the criteria to be considered bullying. (And, yes -each one of them understood how three different things would be considered bullying! That made me feel that I had at least achieved a little of the goal for the day anyway!)

After Sunday School came -of course -the Sunday Service -complete with a big processional of all those attending as we marched into the sanctuary, each carrying our own palm branches and then, made our way to our respective seats for the service to start.

As soon as we were seated, I began to hear this little bit of a tap, tap, tapping sound and to my chagrin, it was coming from Maya who was lightly tapping her toes on the floor! It wasn't a terribly loud sound, but just enough that those of us seated in and around her would hear it and it was very annoying!

So, I asked her, then told her, then demanded of her that she please cease and desist in doing that as it was bothering me and probably other congregants too but all that was to no avail as you could see by the look on her face that she was going to push this envelope just as far with me as she possibly could. She would even tap her toes when we were standing up, singing and/or saying parts of the liturgy! And I was doing a very slow burn at first once I realized she was going to push me just as far as she could!

Finally -after I had even gone so far as to step on her toes at one point -I got a hold of her arm and removed a book from her hands that she was thinking she would look at during the sermon and I whispered to her that since she hadn't listened and stopped that infernal toe tapping routine, I was taking her out to the narthex where we would then sit out the rest of the service!

Finally, that did seem to get her attention or at least redirected her actions for a while anyway!

Then, came time for the part in the service where we "share the peace" -meaning you turn to those seated around you and shake hands, murmuring "Peace be with you." Now this is something which we never know how either Maya or Kurtis is going to handle that activity from one Sunday to the next! One time they'll both be friendly, shake hands and say, "Peace" and the next week maybe neither will do that or one will but the other won't. And the one who refuses to participate -if the members of our church were not already familiar with the way either or both of these kids operate, they might be offended and consider one or both of the grandkids to be very rude. Thankfully, there are certain folks who almost always sit in our general vicinity though and are accustomed to the kids and their ways. So this Sunday, when Maya was being her somewhat normal kind of snooty self and refusing to share the peace here and there -that is, until her friend from school responded to her by extending her hand and then, after that, Maya finally shook hands then with Alex -my older grandson! Kurtis on the other hand, was being very sociable, to the extent of crawling down the pew behind me just to tap Maya's shoulder and extend his hand to her and for her to turn away from him! Typical for her to do something like that!

After that and then, the offertory, came the next step in the service -communion!

Now this, Maya is usually fine and dandy with the whole procedure but not this Sunday! Nope! When the usher pointed to our row, indicating we could approach the altar, all of a sudden Maya refused to begin walking out of our pew! Why? Well, because the young lady seated on the other side of Maya -a member of the church who is in college so not always home and when she is, she and her parents generally sit on the other side of the church from where my family always sits -and Maya -in a loud stage whisper type voice, announces to me "No! No! I don't want to kneel by some stranger!"

Oh for Pete's sake girl! Give me a break will ya?

So we then had to wait until Maya could squeeze past me and get in line behind me, between me and Alex -her cousin!

My slow fuse burning was beginning to speed up by then!

Perhaps Miss Maya best be happy that Gram hasn't yet purchased any more new life insurance policies and especially none in her name or I might have some really bad thoughts entering my mind otherwise, ya know!

No, I really wouldn't go quite to that extreme to stop her obnoxious behaviors but as probably any other parent out there would agree, I think from time to time when trying to discipline a child who is being really unruly, those thoughts or some a bit along those lines, maybe do come into our minds from time to time don't they?

Boy, she is so lucky that I do dearly love her -and her brother -and would be completely lost without either of them in my life. But she best learn to curb some of her risky behavior a good bit in the future or else!  I'm not sure what the "or else" would be but she better look out!