Sunday, December 31, 2006

Some Family History

I'm trying something totally foreign to me today in my blogging experience. I'm trying to place a photo into this particular blog but I have no clue as to whether I am doing this correctly or not.

The photo shown here is of my Dad's family - although not all of his siblings are shown on the picture, nor do I know the exact year it was taken, I would estimate it was probably taken around 1912. Shown here are from left to right, front row - Bill, Lizzie and Archie Hill. In the back row, from left to right are Alex, George and Jim Hill, the latter being my Dad. Missing from this photo, for some reason or other, is my uncle, Robert "Rab" Hill, who if present would be between my Dad in the back row and Uncle Arch, in the front row. I think I have the names listed correctly for them although I am not completely sure on the back row because I can't seem to get the lovely photo software, that one that you've heard me complain frequently about in that I don't think they should call it "easyshare" since I have yet to find anything easy at all about their darned software. (Normally, I tend to think KODAK is a great product, but with this particular thing, I think they need to make it a whole lot easier to work with if they want to label it as "Easyshare."

My plan here was to post the photo of my dad, his brothers and the older of his sisters but apparently blogger doesn't want to cooperate and allow me to upload the other photo I have which is just of my Dad's three sisters.

The title "Saying Goodbye?" is because all but one of my dad's siblings are gone now. The only remaining child of the ten children of George and Janet Nelson Hill is my youngest aunt - now 89 years old and in a nursing home.

So far, I have been unable to locate any old - very old - photographs of just my grandparents to try to post and share here.

My great-grandparents,George and Christina Hunter Hill, on this side of my family were both born in Scotland. My grandfather, the oldest child also named George, was a year old when his parents came to America and originally settled in eastern Pennsylvania where my grandfather worked as a coal miner - I believe this was up in Tioga County, around Arnot, PA. They moved from their to central Pennsylvania for a short time, then to Morris, Illinois where my great-grandmother was killed in 1884, having been run over by a train. At that time, they had I 6 children, the youngest - a daughter, was about 7 years old. My great-grandfather moved back east, apparently wrote to someone in Scotland about a lady who must have been a family friend or acquaintance, and she,Mary Todd, being a widow with two sons, came to this country and they were married shortly thereafter and had six children. I

George and Mary Todd Hill lived for a while in central Pennsylvania but for some reason, they moved out west and settled in Grand Coulee, Cascade County in the state of Montana. Somewhere, in the old boxes of pictures that had belonged to my Dad, there are snapshots taken back in the 30's sometime when he drove my grandmother and I think two of my aunts from the family homestead here in Morrisdale, PA out to Montana and at least a some of my aunts met some of the Hill Family from out west.

I got interested in family tree stuff a long time ago but really had very little means of trying to research the background on my Dad's family. But back in 1999, when I purchased a computer, one of the first things I did was to try to find geneology resources to track as much as possible, my family tree on both sides of my Dad's family as well as both sides of my Mom's family. I was posting query after query on numerous websites with what little information I had on my great-grandparents and one day, came across a query that looked like it had potential.

The surname listing was HILL - ok, that's a good start but Geez, Louise, there are only a kazillion Hill in this world, so why would I think this one might have possibilities? Because the poster had stated Scotland as their country of origin and then, states in the US, PA, ILL, Montana and Arizona. The Illinois entry there kind of threw me because I had never heard about them living there, but I did know that one of my great-uncles from Montana - later lived in Wyoming and the one for whom my Dad was named too - had daughters who lived in Arizona. I knew that from some correspondence I had taken upon myself to write to them back in the late 50's when I first started to get interested in learning about my roots. So, I queried back, said I thought maybe we might have a connection, might be related and the answer I received back from this lady was "You bet your bippy we are related, kid!"

And the best part of "meeting" this cousin online was that she had been working on family tree stuff at that time for over 13 years and had a complete workup of all my great-grandparents children, grandchidren almost all their great-grandchildren and further down that line now too! All, that is, with the exception being my Grandfather's family because he was the only one of 12 children who decided to make Pennsylvania his home! My grandparents did live in Montana for a short period of time though and my Dad was the only one of their 10 children who just happened to have made his entrance into the world in a little place called Carbonado, Montana, in February of 1901!

Through this cousin, Evelyn Hill Sturm, I received a copy of all the family tree work she had completed at that time and I gladly supplied her with what information I had on my Dad, his siblings and the descendants of my grandparents, George and Janet Nelson Hill. Cousin Evelyn and I still correspond from time to time although not much of what we send back and forth now has much to do with family tree informaton. I'm not sure but she may have slowed down a good bit in the data she had researched and was entering into her tree over the past couple of years.

But through her, I know I have relatives all throughout the western part of the country - Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and even up into Canada, I believe in Calgary area. That data, I would have to pull up my tree and do a search and destroy type mission to figure out which of my grandfather's sisters moved up to Canada.

I'm still as fascinated today as I was back in 1999, when cousin Evelyn Sturm first sent me her data on our tree and there is nothing I would love more - save maybe a trip to Scotland and Sweden to trace the family's beginnings in those two countries - than to meet her, be able to someday visit in Cascade County Montana and maybe see some of the homes my ancestors lived in, meet other cousins and learn, through meetings like that, more about who I am by virtue of family traits shared by many of us with this Hill family connection.

By the way, prior to doing this research, I had no knowledge about any special naming traditions in Scottish families but I now know my grandparents followed that tradition very strictly. Their first child, a son, was named George - after his father, grandfather and great-grandfather too as near as we've been able to trace records. My next uncle, Alex - known as "Eck" -was named for my Grandma Hill's father, Alexander Nelson. Then my Dad, Jim, was named for his Dad's brother Jim; Robert or "Rab" was named after my Grammy's brother, Robert; Arch, for G-gradpa's brother Arch; my aunt, Elizabeth - or "Lizzie" - was named for my Grammy's older sister; the twin boys - John and William - were named after Grammy's half-brothers, my Aunt Jeanette or "Aunt Sis" was named for her mother (Janet NElson Hill) and my youngest aunt, Anna Mae, known to almost everyone though as "Mike" was named after two of Grammy's half-sisters! And amongst the grandchildren - my first cousins - many of us were named too after this or that ancestor. Even down to my oldest grandson whose name is Alexander and, at first blush, one could say he was named fully after my great-grandfather -his great-great-grandfather - but it just happened quite by accident (luck of the draw) that my daughter and her husband at the time, both liked the name Alexander. It wasn't until he was about 6 weeks old and we were up at my Aunt Mike's house - the family homestead - that she asked my daughter if she planned to call him Alex, Alexander or maybe "Eck." My daughter was totally confused by the question but it was then that the naming system hit me and although they hadn't thought of his name being the same as his great-great-grandfather's was, it's become a nice way to think of the family lineage and continuity there from that!

And for me, growing up as I did where I never knew my Dad, had no idea what he was like as a person, learning through family stories about him as well as many, many other relatives, it's been a way by which I have learned more about who I am, inside and the whys about me that until working on the family tree, I had no answers.

Not that I know completely to this day, who I am and why, where did this or that ALL come from, at least I have a little more of an inkling as to the origins now.

More family history to follow - hopefully with some other old photos too!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chicken Peckings

Now what the heck is that title all about? And no "Bushism" to open with either, this is strange isn't it?

Are you sitting there asking yourself that? Well, sometimes things pop into my head from all kinds of other places, have not a thing to do with things going on today, or with society in general or my kids or grandkids -or well, with much of anything really. And, in the case of this post, that is sort of what's happened here.

But only "sort of" because you see, the idea of writing this episode from my life here came to me while I was reading some archived stuff on another website early this morning when I was unable to get to sleep and that reminded me of this event way back in my life.

It was Easter - the Saturday before Easter as a matter of fact - but whether I was four years old or five at the time, that part I don't remember exactly. But it was in that time span anyway.

My Dad's one sister - the one notorious for being pretty much the "black sheep" of the family, had called our neighbor across the street to tell them to tell my mother to be sure to bring me up to the house where my older aunt lived. To clarify just a tad here - my Dad had three sisters and they were the youngest living members of his family. THere had been a set of twin boys between the older sister and the middle sister, but one had either been born dead or died shortly after birth and the other died at the age of 20. So, by the time I came along, these three aunt were the "babies" of the 10 children in my Dad's family.

Now, the reason my Aunt Sis had called the neighbor's house, was - obviously - because we didn't have a phone in our house. Not too many folks back then, in the late 40's, did have a telephone in their home along our street so we weren't really the "odd family out" in that respect. It wasn't all that big of a deal if someone needed to contact someone else on this street to call which ever neighbor was closest and ask them to relay a message to our family or the folks on either side of our house or across the road from us, on either side of the family who had what could be construed as the neighborhood telephone contact point.

And so, that particular Saturday, Mom and I had gone into town - she needed to pick up a few last minute groceries anyway I'm sure because it's highly doubtful she would have made the 12-mile drive (one-way) if she didn't need to go there for another reason other than to stop at my Aunt's home.

Now, before I proceed further, perhaps I should explain a little as to why, exactly, it was that Aunt Sis, the aunt who had made the phone call, was the black sheep aunt. She drank. Sometimes only a few drinks, sometimes a whole lot. While I can only ever remember seeing her pretty tipsy one time in my life and that was a few years after this took place, I would be willing to bet money that she had been imbibing in a few brews for this to have happened on that particular Easter Saturday.

Mom and I arrived at my Aunt Lizzie's house and I remember going directly to the kitchen where Aunt Sis proudly presented me with this box and gleefully exclaimed to me, "Happy Easter, Sweetie!"

I took one look into the box and was squealing and so excited and well, just flabbergasted at the Easter present this box contained. There, inside this cardboard box were 12, yep a whole dozen, baby peeps in just about every color of the rainbow. This was back in the day when many stores would sell baby chicks that had some kind of dye injected into them that produced peeps with red, pink, orange, green, blue, violet downy feathers. Cute as all get out they were too probably to every kid around but not necessarily so cute to parents who had an inkling about what it entailed to raise those peeps into chickens.

My Mom, accustomed by then to Aunt Sis's penchant for gift giving to her nieces and nephews at virtually every holiday was shocked beyond belief. Prior to this episode, all the gifts I had received from Aunt Sis consisted of a new stuffed toy animal for Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas -and now and again, maybe an oddball stuffed toy that she happened to see and liked and decided it was a gift for "just because you are you and your my favorite little niece day" thing!

Mom normally was not the type of person to do or say anything that would make the least kind of a scene either. And with Aunt Sis, up until this gift, she really had no reason to get a bit radical about anything that had been given to me anyway.

But, when she looked in the box and saw what it was I was so happy and excited over - and counted that there were 12 of those rainbow colored peeps in there too - she lost it. Completely!

"OH NO! No, absolutely not! You've gone too far, way too far this time, Sis!" I can remember her saying. I think Aunt Sis may have indulged in a few beers prior to our arrival that afternoon too because, had she been fully sober, I doubt she would have had the crest-fallen look on her face to see and hear my Mom's consternation over this gift, so lovingly selected to be presented to me for my Easter present that year.

I don't recall the rest of the conversation in full, other than that I learned she had also given my cousin, Mikie, a box also containing the same number of peeps for the holiday too. Apparently Aunt Lizzie - Mikie's mother - was fairly well resigned to the aspect of how some of Aunt Sis's presents to the kids in the family might not meet with full accord but that arguing with her was also pretty much useless.

After at least an hour of haggling about this present, the inappropriateness of the gift, the fact my Mom insisted there was absolutely NO WAY she was allowing me to keep ANY of these peeps, under any circumstances, finally a deal was hammered out.

Aunt Sis insisted that since it was my Easter present from her, that Mom could not refuse to allow me to have these chicks but this time, Mom persevered until finally, they decided it would be fair that I could select three of these cute little things to take home with us. The other nine would be given then to my cousin Mikie and he could maybe be on his way to beginning his own poultry farm in his parent's back yard or something.

So, we left and drove home to watch the look of shock then on my grandmother's face as we carted this box containing these three baby chicks in it into the house. Grandma's opinion matched pretty much along the lines of my Mom's but she and Grandpa decided well, they supposed since it was only three of these creatures and they did still have the little chicken coop way down in the back yard that they could stay and have that spot as their home.

Peeps grow into full-sized chickens fairly quickly - that much I remember too and by that summer, the family also realized exactly what they were too. Chickens yes, but they were also banty chickens and all three just happened to be roosters too!

Banty chickens aren't quite as large as other chickens and there's a lot of truth to the expression often used to describe people of a slight build but with a nasty temperment - "madder than a banty rooster!" Believe you me, these three had to be the meanest, most miserable little roosters at least in our entire village, if not the whole township.

That summer, and the following years when I would be outside playing, wearing shorts that left my legs completely exposed, I paid a high price for having those three wonderful little members of the fowl group as pets. There didn't seem to be a day that went by but what one -if not all three of these little so-and-so's -didn't sneak up behind me and decide to peck a hunk of flesh out of the back of my legs. I looked like I had a terrible case of chicken pox or was in constant contact with nests of chiggers!

Now, you have to realize here - and this was probably high on my Mom's list of concerns about taking these peeps home to begin with - my Grandfather loved animals - all animals! Even these mean little buggers that pecked the heck out of my legs for at least two, maybe three summers in a row. This was the man who about 10 years or so earlier had owned two turkeys that he regarded as his "pets" and those things were even meaner, according to my Mom, than were these three little hellions. So, there was no way anyone was ever going to even think about these roosters becoming a Sunday dinner - not as long as he had a say in it anyway.

Well, little did he know but in the late spring, early summer of 1951, even Grandpa's protective nature about these animals was going to go out the door, flying in the wind.

A family had recently purchased the house next door to ours - a family that had lots and lots of children as well as small grandchildren too. And one Saturday afternoon, while the patriarch of this clan and his oldest daughter's husband were working on getting the house fixed up for them to move in there, the oldest granddaughter was playing peacefully enough in the alley separating our property when all of a sudden, there was such a horrible noise and screaming coming from the alley, everyone in the neighborhood dropped whatever it was they were doing and came running to see what was happening.

As it turned out, there was Rosemarie, the granddaughter, with one of these mean, nasty little banty roosters on her back, clinging to her with his talons and pecking away at her shoulders and neck. Her Dad and Grandfather pulled him off her, she was checked over by her Mother, Grandmother, my Mom and Grandma too and ascertained she hadn't sustained any serious injuries except for the fact she was absolutely terrified of that chicken or either of the other two roosters as well.

The next day, being Sunday and the day my Grandma ALWAYS sat down and wrote letters to each of her sons and daughters, one letter that day went out to my aunt and uncle who lived up in Jamestown, New York. That uncle also just happened to be a butcher or meat-cutter by trade too. And the first thing she put in that letter was that "Butch has to come home next weekend and will have to kill these three chickens here." (My uncle's given name was Albin but most everyone just called him Uncle Butch because of his trade.) Grandma went into a little detail to him and my aunt, her daughter, as to what had happened but the law had been made and passed by Grandma and my Mom that this was the end of the happy home for those three roosters.

The next Sunday afternoon, we dined royally on roast chicken!

Efficiency? Not part of my vocabulary!

BUSHISM: "Over the long term, the most effective way to conserve energy is by using energy more efficiently." (Radio address: May 12, 2001 - for January 9, 2006)
and also, the next in line for January 10, 2006 is this gem: "Columbia carried in its payroll classroom experiements from some of our students in America." (Bethesda, Maryland, February 3, 2003)

Ok, now you're thinking what the heck is she going to come up with that apply to either of these lovely Bushism statements? Well, in truth, probably nothing of substance. Just my own weird way of reading his lovely quotes and thinking of other things around me that may or may not apply, depending on how one looks at 'em!

Conserving energy? Now there's a topic I rarely want to touch simply because my first thought has to do with how much money it costs to provide the "energy" -aka fuel oil - to heat this old barn of a house! Don't even want to go there simply because it strikes me as another method of companies breaking my own private little bank - which holds only maybe 10 pennies most of the time anyway - if that!

I will be the first in line to state here and now that I have no clue as to how the oil companies come up with their prices for gasoline, fuel oil, kerosene, etc., all the enable us to go from point a to point d or z and back again or how to possibly cut back on the amount of fuel oil we use to keep this place warm enough that it is "comfortable" but not chilly in here! I freeze easily - or so it seems anyway - so it's a difficult thing to find a temperature setting on the old thermostat that keeps a reasonable level of heat here without making it necessary to go take out a small business loan to pay for the oil to heat the joint! I cousin of mine told me last week in her pre-Christmas phone call that the week earlier, she and her husband had to drive into Pittsburgh for a doctor's appointment for him and they had stopped to get gas in their car before leaving home. I forget now what price the gas was when they filled their tank before going into the city, but he noticed on the way home - in just a mere matter of about 2, maybe 3 hours time max, that the fuel price had jumped almost 10 cents a gallon over what they had paid earlier in the day! Now, tell me that prices, the economy, inflation -all those things I find too difficult to comprehend 95% of the time, had increased that much in that period of time. Gee whiz, where they anticipating a huge increase in salaries, coverage of Christmas bonus checks, the outlay for the company Christmas party or what in that time span? You figure that one out, cause it's truly way over my comprehension level!

Now, there are however other methods of conservation of energy that I can expound on here that don't involve the type of "energy" GWB is referring to - or I don't think he is anyway.

This is the type of conservation of energy I try to get across to my 15-year-old granddaughter, now and again, to my daughter and used to preach this all the time to the kids I worked with - back in the good old days when I was still able to be among the "employed" of the world!

My theory has always been, still is -when my memory stays with me long enough to remember what the other things were I planned to combine here - don't make two trips (or more) if only one will do the trick! Used to try to get that message across to waitresses I was trying to train that if you carried the coffee pot with you, virtually like it was glued to your hand, to go around and coffee customers, you could also, as you moved along, pick up dirty dishes from the table and deposit them in the dishpan cart on your way around. Saves time -and energy- to only have to clean two coffee cups and two teaspoons at times when people leave as opposed to having the whole table a bit mess of condiment containers, salad bowls, dessert dishes, and a whole raft of other things customers tend to toss to the side while dining - and wanting, of course, more coffee! Because I was a good bit older than the majority of the folks I was working with, I told them I did it because my legs were too damned old and rickety to make that many trips. Well, that was partially true. But I just found by doing two things, sometimes even more than that, I could keep up with the overall work load much better and not wear myself out in the first hour but rather, could last the whole doggone shift that way! They didn't believe me when I told them their legs would start to give out on 'em in short order if they didn't try to treat them with as much kindness as possible - and thus, conserve energy!

My step-granddaughter seems to be of the belief that if she picks up one item that can go in the trash and trot it to the garbage can, then go back to the living room, get another item, repeat the exercise, several times over, that because she is taking a long time to do something she won't be responsible then for possibly getting instructions to do something else when she is done. Thus, in her mnd, she is "conserving energy." Well, the truth of the matter there often is that by gathering as many things as possible that need to go in the trash on the first trip, often it also eliminates the NEED for people to see other things that maybe should be done too - because gee, it got done in the first trip! Imagine that! And, the sooner or faster you finish a small task, the sooner you can sit down, like a big lump on the sofa and kick back and watch tv, in peace, with no one badgering you about finishing your chores too! Gives you more free time to play! Or sleep -or whatever it is that is on your list of things you want to do - not necessarily the cruddy things we all HAVE to do!

And this brings me to yet another thing - pertaining to saving energy - and I'm sure you'll think I have really gone bonkers to include this in here. But, my friend Barb, over at Skittle's Place, had a little "Quickie" question (something she posts frequently on her blog - and today, the "quickie" question was on the topic of what a long-drawn out process it is to her to try to find a new pocket book and does anyone else have a similar problem with that task!

Now, to me - this is perhaps one of the world's worst "chores" necessary to women from time to time. I hate looking for a new purse! Hate it worse than I hate trying to buy new underwear! Of course, the issue of buying new underwear often focuses on how much larger size I may have to purchase this time around because of the influx of more fat cells in all parts of my body. I am firmly convinced that the fat cells I was born with liked the comfy coziness apparently so much of my body that they wrote home and invited not only their parents and siblings to come live with them in various parts of my body, but they sent out APB's to their entire extended family as well as all fat cells they know, the world over, and told them all to come here and camp out and be happy! Not a lick of danger that this person will get a notion to go on a diet and thus try to starve out some few of those cells. No way indeed that will ever happen with me! Dieting takes a lot of work, which expends a lot of energy that could be better used finding ways to do more than one thing at a time! And that's just for openers there!

But now I digress - I was talking about looking for a new purse, or handbag, tote, clutch - whatever type it might be that is just the ticket you - or I - need to have to complete a truly wonderous fashion statement! Well, that alone is just plain bullpucky! What I would need to present a spectacular fashion statement would involve getting rid of all the extra family and friends of all my fat cells -for openers - and then, a major overall with plastic surgery to correct all the other little areas of my being (exterior here, not interior) that would be necessary too. Plus then, I'd have to find the extra ton or half-ton, at the very least, of money to be able to afford to just walk into a store and shop, try on, get disgusted and depressed and toss many outfits aside for the simple reason that it still made me look like a stuffed sausage or the color isn't quite right to accent my lovely blue but usually somewhat bloodshot eyes from the eyestrain of needing new glasses or it shows off too much of the grey blotches in my hair - or cheeks too at times -or I don't like the design or print of the material used or the basic style of the basic black go-everywhere dress! There's a million and one excuses one can find at the drop of a hat that all can come together then to make the selection of one simple little handbag akin to the problems every president has had with the peace conferences that have been held over the years at Camp David to try to get the world leaders to come together, shake hand, kiss and makeup and agree to something. Usually it seems they just agree to disagree. And that is usually what happens to me when I go shopping for a handbag too! I agree to disagree to the clerk -if I am in a store that actually employs people to assist you with major purchases of this nature. What that does to me really is to send me back out the door without considering anything any further at all because if they have the volume of sales that allows them to employ a person strictly to assist me in my purchase of one simple handbag, then the price on that simple handbag is going to be way, way, WAY out of line to my budget and thus, eliminates the need right then and there for me to purchase anything from their product lines! The check would be bouncing before it even got ripped out of my checkbook you see!

So, when it comes to the need to select a new handbag, I generally really do conserve lots and lots of energy there! I simply find ways to try to hide any marks, rips, tears, bad straps, whatever it is on the purse I have been using for the past decade, determine it isn't all that bad afterall, I know where the holes are in the zipper compartments inside, know how much it will hold too in the way of junk I feel I must carry with me at all times and therefore, this purse is just fine and dandy, will last at least another decade, maybe even two and that's my way of conserving energy!

I just don't go shopping in the first place! And by not doing that, I have saved probably several gallons of gasoline, wear and tear on the tires of my car, the need to change the oil sooner than I might have had to do had I ventured out in the first place.

Now see - wasn't that an easy way to conserve energy?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Legislative or Executive?

Bushism - "The Legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law."(Austin, Texas; November 22, 2000 - posting for January 8, 2007)

Hmmm! I'm wondering here how I could or should try to interpret that statement with respect to trying to watch and discipline, when necessary, Miss Maya, my 3-year-old little whirlwind of a granddaughter!

Am I the legislature - who makes up the laws, or am I the executive branch, who gets to interpret them? Which, if either, or is that the judicial branch, that then enforces these laws too?

As I see it, in my role, I become all three branches of the goverment of this house when I am watching the grandchildren. I get to make (or write) the law, then I get to interpret it as I see fit and finally, I get to administer the regularion of the law as well!

Point right now being, the law has been made - "written" in the oral sense that I have told her now for the past 2 plus hours, that she is to lay down on the sofa, with her blanky and bink, put her head down and stay there! Then comes the executive part where I guess I have to occasionally interpret this law - well, it's like this Maya, you lay down, rest your little body (give Gram's a little break in the action too that way) and you will feel better when it is time to eat supper when Your Daddy gets home. Sounds reasonable enough, sounds easy enough too. But the judicial aspect - of administering this law - a lot tougher than it sounds!

All I need to do is turn my head, my back, go to the kitchen to stir the spaghetti sauce, answer the phone - whatever - and as soon as I do that, the spell of the "written or oral" law is broken, more interpretation is necessary - as in "if you don't listen to me, Grammy is going to take drastic means" and finally, after many, many chances to obey have been put forth, an occasional little tap on the behind, which produces wails such as you would swear the child had just been beaten within an inch of her life - when in reality it is only her pride that has been stepped on. But the trick to administering the judicial side now is to get her to sit still for a while without making her so upset that she puts her head down and cries herself in to a nap - not right now anyway!

That would just result in the need for writing a new law, more interpretation of that and also, even more judicial action needed.

I wonder if this process sounds familiar to our government officials?

Good or Bad?

The Bushism of the day is this:
Presidents, whether things are good or bad, get the blame. I understand that." (Washington, D.C, May 11, 2001 -the quote for Saturday/Sunday January 6/7th)

Taking it from that comment, isn't that a bit like the job of parenting too?

I mean by that, as parents, does anyone set out from day one not to try to teach their child(ren) manners, various little skills, vocabulary, ways to help that chld learn basic skills, high-levels of learning later and just in general, ways to guide them through all the good, bad and sometimes what can also be the very ugly side that life can present to each of us?

I suppose there are some parents who are lacking so much in their own personal skill levels and abilities that for them to try to teach skills to their children that would allow for an improved life for the kids, is next to impossible to achieve even on the lowest level. But, for the most part, I do think the overwhelming majority of parents DO try to Teach their children at least the simplest of the basics - knowing right from wrong, "Do unto others as you would want done to you." THinks like that.

How successful any of us is at this task varies greatly too and sometimes, can cause a myriad of other problems for the person intended to be the learner as well as the self-appointed teacher too!

As an example here, let's take the situation which took place within my family Christmas Night. My son wrecked my car!

Now, what actions should I or could I have taken after the fact there?

Should I have, when he came into the house after the fact, just rushed up to him with open arms, hugging him, giving him a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the back and told him "Oh, I am so thankful you are not hurt."

Well, the fact of the matter is, all those emotions were going through my mind - yes, I was thankful he escaped uninjured and I know he was, even at the older, supposedly more mature age of 33, he was scared too and it is an instinct I suppose no matter how old your kids are, that you do want to give some type of comfort.

Or, should I have just launched into a major attack and had the whole family up all night listening to me lecture him on the error of his ways, his lousy use of common sense, no good judgement, no respect for others property - those any many other little things come to mind that I could probably still be yelling and preaching about to him. But, in the end, would it have done any good?

Should I have taken a belt and whipped the living daylights out of him? He's a lot taller than me, a lot stronger than me too for that matter - but would an action or reactio like that have cured and corrected the situation? Highly doubtful.

Did I speak to him about what he had done? Yes, indeed I did. And I prefaced it too by telling him I do NOT want to hear any of his "I'm so sorry Mom" hang-dog expressions of self-pity and all that because this resolve nothing and actually, would make him feel better about himself and his stupid actions. And yes, indeed, they were some stupid actions on his part that got all of us into this predicament too!

I did give him a lecture at the time - nothing long, drawn out - but a lecture all the same. And then, I told him I really do not want to discuss this anymore at this point in time. Maybe later, when I am calmer, when you are ready to acknowledge what you did, why and understand how stupid it was and makes no sense, but now - no, it would do nothing other than to keep my own blood pressure levels highly elevated!

But after one has a situation whehter it be like what we had or some other thing that upsets the entire apple cart within the family, inevitably, the questions crop up in your mind as to where did I go wrong over the years in trying to teach this kid to be a good, decent and responsible citizen - a loving (and very loved too) member of this immediate family as well as a large, caring extended family and in a circle that also includes many, many very close friends. Where the heck did I screw up, how could I have impressed on him better what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior?

I'm quite sure there are at least several - possibly many - who know me and know my kids and know and think they understand all the inner workings of our home too who will be johnny on the spot to tell me what I should have done years and years ago to "fetch him up right." And, if I were to base all my questions and answers I give myself according to Dr. Phi and his admonitions to child rearing, then no, I shouldn't have used many of the words that are a big part of my vocabulary but damn, sometimes just saying this is a mess you just created here has no impact whatsoever whereas when you raise your voice a tad (or more) and emphasize that "I am not putting up with this kind of S**t from you" maybe does get their attention a trifle better - at least at that point in time!

I can honestly sit back and say that I did try, very hard too, over the years to instill in my kids that there are somethings we must do that are absolute necessities. We must try to be the best possible employee for whoever it is that decides to give us an opportunity to earn a living - whether you absolutely love the job or despise it, doesn't give us the right to be a poor worker for whatever level of income you manage to receive from said job! Did that message sink in to my kids? Overall, I think I did get that across and for the most part, they understand that and agree with my theories there too!

Were they taught how to behave in public or in other people's homes? Well, I tried and when they were growing up - from the time they were toddlers till they were in elementary school, they often had to go with me into homes of others in this community while I tried to entice people into placing more orders through me of Avon's fine products. And, I will say this much for them, I could take them into some of the finest homes in the area and some that were pretty doggone disorganized too, but I never had to worry that they would be wandering around, playing touchy-feely with all kinds of knick knacks people might have set out and about in their home. I knew too they would sit by my side or my feet and quietly listen and allow me to show any new items, talk and joke with the customer and on occasion, if asked a question by the person whose home we were in, be expected to be able to give a suitable response - one that showed respect to the person the child was answering for openers!

If I were to try to do that job today, with my 3-year-old granddaughter, I would be a nervous wreck! Not because we aren't trying to teach her proper behavior but because she has some delays in her learning ability and getting her to obey, to keep her little fingers to herself, is a totally different circumstance than I dealt with when my kids were her age. In due time, I think we will achieve the goal of good, respectable behavior of her, but it is just taking a lot longer to do that with her at this point in time. Tantrums at times are a part of her behavior - something I didn't have to deal with in public with my kids - but because we can't always get her to comprehend what we want in the way of actions/reactions from her, it can create the appearance that she is not being disciplined at all at times, and that is not the case!

No matter how young or how old YOUR child(ren) may be, we, as parents, always worry, always want to see them act in the best possible manner and when on occasion, they don't seem to pay attention to things they were taught from the get-go, we do often put a lot of blame on ourselves. We also often give the standard lectures too that were doled out since the beginning of time "What the hell were you thinking?" for openers perhaps. Or, one of my favorites was always "Is there a brain inside that thing sitting atop your shoulders?" That one is one Dr. Phil probably would frown on as it does maybe give the kid a lower feeling of him/herself on the self-esteem totem pole. But heck, how else are you supposed to ask if the kid THINKS about anything being done before hand for possible consequences?

So for now, I'm still sitting here, thinking about all the events of this week and wondering how I should have handled this or that, how I could have raised this kid to be the perfect poster child so many of my friends seem to have been able to produce.

But then too, I stop and think hmmm - this or that person may THINK their child is the perfect little angel but I know that kid did this or does that and it may not be exactly kosher - especially if the parent knew or even acknowledged that the child has that behavior too!

Right now, I think I'll take and accept my son, both my daughters and my grandkids now too - just as they are - good, bad and sometimes, ugly - but still I love 'em! May not like what they do all the time, I may downright despise, hate what they do at times, but regardless, I always have, always will still love 'em!

Now, if I can get them to do the same for me, maybe all will be fine and dandy in the end!

You tell me!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Head Start

Remember, I mentioned I received the day calendar of "Bushisms" - quotes from some of the most interesting remarks ever made perhaps, by our illustrious, well-spoken current president. And, because I am loving this little desktop day calendar, I'm giving you a bit of a "head's up" of quips and quotes by GWB so you can start the new year off just right! Yesterday, I listed in my entry for the day, the quotes for January 1st and 2nd. Today, in keeping the momentum going there, I now give you the quotes for January 3rd and 4th! Hope you enjoy them as much as I am!

January 3rd - "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." (Trenton, New Jersey, Septrember 23, 2002)

January 4th - "Whether you're here by birth, or whether you're in America by choice, you contribute to the vitality of our life. And for that, we are grateful." (Washington, D.C.; May 17, 2002)

Oh my! Now I am on a roll here! I can't let this opportunity pass by without also giving you the quote for January 5th!

"The administration I'll bring is a group of men and women who are focused on what's best for America, honest men and women, decent men and women, women who will see service to our country as a great privilege and who will not stain the house." (Des Moines, Iowa; January 18, 2000)

I have to confess that of these three quotes, the one for January 5th is the one I like the best. But I have to say too that I am a bit confused by the last line there - what can that mean "Who will not stain the house" - just can't figure that one out, can you? But then, rarely have I found myself able to figure out much of what he says.

Feel free to illuminate this bit of a quagmire I'm in with that last line.

And with that parting thought, I think it is best I head off to bed!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

After The Ball

I suppose the above title would be more appropriate to use after New Year's celebrations are all completed, but for me, just thought it worked for the way I'm feeling today. Tired, disgusted, depressed - sure as hell no euphoric feelings one might have after the "ball" is over with but well, ok - that's just me today.

I haven't seen my son since yesterday morning when he left to go shopping with hi s sister although I did talk to him a little while ago to see if he plans to dine with us this evening. His plans for the afternoon are to help a guy from here in town move into his house with him and then, yes most likely, he'll be down for supper. Making a fancy meal - yeah, right! Fancy meals are NEVER a part of my cooking vocabulary! Right now, I've got a mixture of dried northern beans and dried limas cooking/soaking - with pieces of onion, celery, carrots and ham mixed in and later, I will make up the homemade noodle/dumplings and cook them up in the broth, add that to the bean mixture, pour the broth over the top of that and bake it for about an hour, till most of the liquid is absorbed then into the dumplings. The kids like it, it's not really difficult to make and will use up the ham that is left that my daughter brought up Sunday night for supper.

I got a new book for Christmas - by David Sedaris - an author whose works I really enjoy. This book is titled "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and I hope to dig into it soon in hopes his humor will lift me out of the depths of whatever blue funk this is I find myself swimming in of late. My kids have given me two other books by Mr. Sedaris over the past two Christmases and I have enjoyed them both very much, so cross your fingers and hope this works!

Sitting atop my printer right now is another gift I received - an 8x10 photo of my beautiful little grandson - Kurtis - taken the same day that we had the kids Christmas pictures done over at K-Mart but Mandy had never shown me this particular proof so I was quite surprised by it. He's seated, leaning sort of against a snowman, holding a (phony, of course) snowball in his had and the smile on his face, the devilment look in his eyes, is just absolutely priceless! Just so cute, he is in the photo - just like he is so special and such a cutie in real life too!

I also got a little flower pot candle that says "Grandma" on it and under that is written "God couldn't be everywhere, So he made Grandmas." Nice thought and I just wish I could really be the kind of Grandma that is being depicted in that candle.

The other present I got is something you, my readers, will no doubt benefit from now and again. It's a day calendar of "Bushisims" - quotes of George Bush's best and brightest "mispeaks" and I love it. Anyone who knows me even half way well knows GWB is not one of my favorite persons - definitely doesn't now nor ever will make my list of people I'd like to meet someday, that's for sure! But this thing is so great, these lovely little quotes, that I plan to try to remember to include at least one of these gems each time I make a posting - heck, maybe even will zap a couple of them in here when I come across some that are sooooo good, I just won't be able to control myself!

At least, it helps to lift my spirits slightly, gives me a little bit of my sense of humor again, so that has to be a good thing, right?

Just for an example and to get you started thinking about the New Year ahead too, here's two excerpts now.

January 1, 2007 - "If I'm the president, we're going to have emergency-room care, we're going to have gag orders." (St. Louis, Missouri; October 18,2000)

January 2, 2007 - "We;ve had a great weekend here in the Land of the Enchanted." (Albuquerque, New Mexico; May 12, 2003 - New Mexico's state nickname is "Land of Enchantment."

Those are the first two entries in this little calendar and I have to confess I especially love the latter one - for Jan. 2nd! WHo else but GWB would/could make a comment like that and NOT get ripped to shreds for mixing up the word "enchanted" for Enchantment? You gotta love this thing, just gotta!

Well, the afternoon ritual of trying to get Miss Maya to take a nap has begun. Actually, it started about 1:30 and it is now about 3:15 and still going on - with no success as yet! Currently, the discussion - which amounts to Maya making some comment (many of which we don't yet understand of her vocabulary) and it usually is some word that she seems to feel will change the direction of where her actions are supposed to be going right now. She's good at that art form for a three-year-old. Often, the words are things like "Poop?" or "Tow Mater?" - both of which she has found can be used as signals - at times - that she is in need of some better smelling clothing apparel - sometimes, not all times though - one must remember that part. Then there is the standard "No Okay." she gives us too meaning she doesn't want to do this and it is not okay by her standards. Well, too bad, so sad my dear child, but you're going to have to accept the fact, hopefully sooner than later, that you DON'T rule this household! In that respect, she is really being a very slow learner, I must add!

Well, we have now graduated from the playpen to sitting in Gram's lap -another ploy of hers but it beats the heck out of the loud screeches that were coming from her prior to this move. Now, I think she and I will migrate to my room, to my bed, and lay down there.

Who knows, maybe we will both get lucky and manage to squeeze in a short nap - after which we will - hopefully - both feel much better, both of us more fit for human consumption.

It could happen!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Frightening Night!

I think the sound of the telephone ringing anytime after midnight tends to send most anyone into a bit of a panic. The worst thoughts possible seem to cross one's mind at that hour when you reach for the receiver to hear who's voice is on the other end.

When the phone rang here last night shortly before 1 a.m., I was downstairs, in my usual spot - at the computer, of course. The phone was upstairs and at first, I thought I was hearing things - like a phone ringing on whatever program was on the tv or something. But within about 2 minutes, when I heard my daughter and son-in-law both coming down the steps, I knew there was something gone awry.

"Who called?" I asked. The answer was "Clayton." And that sent red flags up within me immediately. Clayton is my son and he has been borrowing my car when he gets home from work now since his car is parked in front of my house, broke down, in need of some parts and time to work on it to get it running again. Both things he doesn't have at the moment seeing as he is working usually 6 days a week now, driving tractor-trailer all over the country.

I asked for more information and was told he had hit the fence that is actually a gated fence that leads back to one of the finest homes probably in the entire township where we live. The fact he was able to call and ask Mandy and Bill to come get him, give him a hand, at least led me to believe he was not hurt - so that was a relief. About the only relief that I could drum up inside myself until they got him, the car, got back to the house.

He was, as he tried to explain it to me, driving down this side road that intersects with the road where he lives and as he came to the intersection and stepped on the brake to make the right-hand turn to his road, the highway was wet - could possibly have been a slight formation of black ice as I don't know how low the temperatures dropped last night, but since it had rained here most of the day, the highway was wet and apparently when he hit the brake, it caused the car to hydroplane across the intersection there (it's a T intersection) and he hit the fence near the gate to this family's access road back to their home and then, the car ended up in a ditch alongside of the fence.

The kids pulled the bumper off the car there to clear it from possibly rubbing the front tire or anything and though the headlights were damaged, he was able to drive the car from the scene down to my house, by following Mandy's husband for what little extra light that gave him.

To say I was upset, would be a definite understatement. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind. Uppermost was the feeling of relief that he was uninjured but still, the scare sits there, wearing a hole - or so it seems - right into the pit of your stomach.

We sat up most of the night and talked, trying to make sense of the whole situation.

This morning, I called the insurance company and filed the report with them. Since there were no injuries, the car was driven from the scene and all that, at least there is no need for a police report which would just be about all my nerves would need about now to send me pretty well over the edge of that fine line between sanity and the other option available! I tend to run close to that fine line most of the time anyway it seems so after calling the insurance company, I reached for my friendly little bottle of zanax to take my allotment for this morning of that substance in hopes it will do some good and calm my frazzled nerves down a bit now.

Ask any parent with a child who is old enough to drive and is using the parent's car how well the nerves hold up anyway when you know your kid might be on the highway driving your vehicle and odds are, the nerves - even under the most ideal circumstances - might be a trifle on edge until you know the kid is back home, safe and sound.

This is not a young kid - not chronologically speaking anyway. He's 33 years old! Old enough and experienced enough at driving to think more about safety issues. But, I suppose even adults, under certain forms of duress can lose their good train of thought when faced with a car that isn't obeying the brake commands, veering in the wrong direction and all kinds of things like that. I've never had an accident like that - although I have had deer run into my car on two separate occasions which scared the living daylights out of me and had me shaking like a leaf. I can only try to imagine how he felt when this was all done!

Then, to make matters worse, the fact it was Mom's car, not his - well, it adds to his stress level over the whole mess then too.

After talking to the rep at the insurance office this morning, and at least hearing a friendly and sympathetic - as well as very informative and helpful voice on the other end of that call, I did begin to calm down somewhat.

Arrangements were made then to have the car picked up by someone from a Repair shop in Philipsburg and who, as it turns out, Mandy knows the owners quite well. So, with the insurance authorization, she called, spoke to the shop owner, told him what happened and they will send someone down later this morning to carry off my poor baby car! It's not a new car - six years old - but to me, it still had a new car feel to it because it was the first car I'd ever owned that after six years of use, still looked very decent! Plus, it was the first car I had owned that many years that didn't have close to 150,000 miles on it either! It looks so sick and bedraggled right now, parked out front in full view of the picture window crumpled up like that.

After talking to the insurance company, Mandy called the family whose fence was struck in the accident. Fortunately we know the people so it didn't require a lengthy discussion of trying to explain who was calling. The "why" of the call though - well that's always a bit difficult regardless if you know the property owners or not I suppose. They are however a very nice couple who I have known him and his entire family since his parents brought him home from the hospital As a matter of fact, when I was a teenager, I frequently babysat him and his two brothers and two sisters at that time. There was another brother added to the family after I had graduated from high school and was working away from home. But the fact is, that their property was damaged like this and that we know them, then added a feeling of guilt to the mix of the mess too I guess you could say.

It didn't make our Christmas celebration end on a good note, at any rate.

What scares me even more about this is that after sitting up all night - or the bulk of the night - talking with my son and his sister about this and other things that concerned us and him, I worry that much more about my boy. Yes, I know he is no longer a "boy" - he's an adult, a young man - but to me, he's always going to be my boy, my favorite son. Okay, he's my only son and that's a family joke that we use when talking about him but the fact remains there that yes, he is indeed my very favorite son and had he been seriously injured or worse yet, killed, I really don't know how I would survive something like that. Not that I wouldn't feel equally sick and terrible if something happened to either of my daughters or others in the family, but he is just so special to all of us - my daughters and to me!

He's a good looking guy - tall, very slim and has a wonderful sense of humor and personality. But, the past 3-4 years have not been kind to him with respect to employment nor with his relationships with his lady friends. And, I know he's had a lot of painful thoughts racing and chasing through his mind for a long time now.

He lives alone in a big old house he bought a little over two years ago, just completed truck driver training and had a job offer - a very lucrative one at that - given to him a week prior to completing the course. He's been working three weeks now and finds the work to be challenging but something he actually enjoys. The fact he has been able to earn very good wages with this endeavor had given him a much better outlook for a change too. But, still there was the emptiness in his life with the past two serious relationships he had which had both soured.

The first one, was with a young lady he met while stationed with the Army at Ft. Lewis, Washington and they lived together for seven years. She went with him from Washington to Nevada after his discharge when he decided he wanted to go there as an effort to try to "get to know my dad" as he put it. That's where the kids' father lives now and for much of my son's life, he dealt with a lot of pain and confusion about issues concerning his dad. A recovering alcoholic for the past 13 years, the 13 years of Clate's life prior to his dad's choice for sobriety were difficult, very difficult, very painful for any boy to cope with but especially so for him as he is avery soft-hearted person and many of the things his dad did over those 13 years while he was still drinking were often some very hard pills the boy had to swallow.

But, for four years, he and that girlfriend lived in Nevada for a short time and then, bought a home across the line in Arizona and were making a life for themselves until they decided they wanted to come back east to live. They had moved back here in August of 2000, arriving at the old farmhouse her father owns just outside of Gettysburg on Clate's 27th birthday. I had surprised him by baking a cake and driving down there - in my first real TRIP in my then, brand-new car to be there when they pulled in the drive and greet them, welcome them back this close to home.

Four years later, for whatever reasons they deemed had made their relationship no longer tenable, he left there and moved back up here to central Pennsylvania where his sisters and I live and we were really happy and excited to have him back this close to all of us here then.

When he moved back here, it was with the promise of a construction job where he would have been working with his brother-in-law - good paying job too it was touted to be but somehow, things didn't work out the way they were supposed to and the job never materialized. Furthermore, he was even denied unemployment when he had given notice at a part-time position he had held while waiting to get the call to start working on the construction position. He had followed the correct protocol all along - taking this side job, telling the boss there it was a "fill-in" job until the other one came through and the man who had hired him there fully understood that. He could have just not shown up for work the day he was to start the new job but instead, had tried to be a good employee and gave a week's notice to the other place only to be told the night before he expected he would be starting the new position that it was no longer available after all. And although the company he was to be starting with had no "finger in the pie" so to speak as far as collecting unemployment was concerned, they denied that he had ever been offered a job with them, thus making it appear he had left gainful employment as a lark, not because he expected to start work at this other job. Talk about unfair treatment, I'll never comprehend how that worked out the way it did but he had two really tough months, financially, trying to make his mortgage payment, other utility bills and such while working at a little part-time job that paid $5 an hour, under the table.

HE did finally get a job with a very small concern which wasn't exactly to his liking but the pay -not fantastic - was better than some of the average jobs in this area and he was strugglig along, making due as best he could. Then, his brother-in-law got him on at the outfit where he works and things appeared to be goig relatively well until one Monday morning, virtually out of the blue, the owner of the place fired him because a part costing $13 retail broke on a car he and his brother-in-law were fixing. Now, if this part had cost $1,300 or even $130 I could have understood better the owners consternation but $13 for a part and he was deemed unreliable, a total liability and let go? That one didn't seem to make sense to me at all.

During the unemployment period is when he decided to look into the truck driving training program as it is an industry that does use a lot of people in this area and the pay is above average and he thought it would be a job he could and would enjoy. And as it turned out, he does like the work, finds it very interesting and is especially good in that it keeps him very busy, gives him a good financial reward too at the end of the week for his efforts as well.

But the fact he has been unable to meet some nice young woman who might make for a good life partner has been the stumbling block here for him it seems. His chief complaint has been that the girls he has mt all seem to think partying is the only form of entertainment and what's more, their chief line of conversation according to Clate is to discuss either their last boyfriend or their former husband with a retelling of how controlling that man is/was and how many times that guy beat the living daylights out of her too! I don't follow the logic in staying in a relationship like that, nor does my son which explains his dismay at meeting someone who can talk intelligently, rationally, too about their lives, their goals, their careers, too - if indeed any of them had such an entity to begn with.

And so, that's where things are today. Mom is still on edge, relieved that her baby boy isn't all banged up or worse, dead but she's also not very happy either that her car is pretty sick right now too. But the car is still just a car and as such, eventually can be fixed.

Clate on the other hand, although he's fine fromt he accident, needs a bit more work apparently on getting him "fixed." So, any young ladies interested in meeting a very nice, very empathetic, hard-working, decent and good looking young man who would like to have someone to share his life with, feel free to submit your applications to me - his guardian mother, you know!

Hmmm! Who knows how that might work out - I've never been the matchmaker type before!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sustanence from the Season

Merry Christmas!

So many thoughts fill my mind today and have for the past several weeks too as we began the serious business of celebrating this beautiful event.

And, it should be remembered this was an EVENT that changed the world which eventually led to a holiday celebration in honor of that special EVENT! Christmas is about a GIFT, given freely to all of us. The Three Wise Men were the first to honor that event by bringing gifts to the Babe of Bethlehem.

Over the years, people began to use symbols to serve as reminders of this Event. Gift giving led to St. Nicholas and other names for this old soul who gave from his heart. Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, come to mind there. How the North Pole and elves became part of that story, I don't know but that aspect is the mythical side.

Candles to remember this Event signals the Light of the World come to earth. Christmas Trees - evergreens that keep their color -their life, as it were - pointing to the heavens. To decorate a tree gives further remembrance of the beauty of life, the glory of the special Event we are supposed to remember and to honor.

Wreaths - a circle symbolizing continuity, everylasting life. Special foods also often have a symbolic tracing back to various ways specific cultures have chosen to remember this special Event. Those foods, changing as they have over the centuries since the arrival of the Christ Child, have become traditions that may seem different on the surface from one ethnic group or culture to the next but under the surface, there are often many similarities. Each country and language may call Christmas a different name, but that doesn't make it a different occasion - just a difference in language. Joyeaux Noel, God Jul, Wigila, Feliz Navidad - to name a couple may sound different but they are all representative of a particular culture's celebration of the Coming of the King.

So many things that are continued year after year within family groups, communities, churches and yet, how often do we realize how significant these are to us - or should be?

As a child, I was taught about the Birth of Christ, learned many, many Christmas carols that I remember to this day, some of which I can still remember the words to all the verses. I learned about Santa Claus too - and the practice of giving and receiving gifts. Although I was taught the significance of this process, the true meaning probably didn't become part of my inner self until I was well into my adulthood. Although I do try to practice the teachings of Christ, belong to a church, frequently over the years I have forgotten the true meaning behind this celebration and been as caught up as the next person to the fullest extent my budget could possibly allow. And, in doing so, I may have thought I was celebrating this wonderful Event but in essence, I allowed the commercialization take hold of me.

As a child, part of our celebration included my cousins and I gathering around the piano with my Mom playing various Christmas Carols and we children, along with most of my aunts, uncles and grandparents, sang the old songs in English and a few of my Grandfather's favorite Swedish hymns and carols. It was my Grandmother's intent to try to instill in us a realization of what this day really should mean to each of us. It's taken many years though for much of what she understood as being special to come home to take seed again in my heart.

I've had several Christmases over the years where affording much to give as gifts to my family has been very difficult and often created an accompanying depression prior to Christmas and lasting often for a long time after too. This year was one of those years when finances were very tight and few gifts were exchanged because all three of my children and I just couldn't go out and buy toys or clothes that were not really necessities. Food - something one has to have - became the main gift. I baked cookies, bread, cooked a huge dinner to enjoy with my children and grandchildren. I tried to plan to make up small packets of cookies and bread to give to special friends who, because they are alone and perhaps are unable to do the work that comes from the extra baking and/or cooking involved, would enjoy having a little special treat as a reminder of the greatest gift of all given to us.

Yes, it was a joy to watch my grandchildren last night rip into brightly wrapped packages and toss the booty into a pile, looking for yet another package that perhaps would contain the big surprise and special gift that person had secretly wanted. The two little ones are too small to understand any of the symbolism of the gifts. Apparently the items received by some of the grandkids didn't fulfill their wildest dreams, their expectations and their disappointment showed in the lack of even saying a simple thank you for receiving anything at all. All, that is except for my children who knew all too well this year that the gifts they received were things they could use, needed and each appropriately gave thanks to the giver. My grandson Alex came and hugged me, made a specific move to thank me for the books I had found for him. I doubt the other three even know what they received much less who gave it to them either - they were too busy looking for more!

I received a pretty little candle - in a tiny flower pot with "Grandma" written on it and a little saying under that saying "God couldn't be everywhere, so he created Grandmas." Now, we know -if we believe in Him that he is Everywhere, but it's a nice thought that gives much more credit than I certainly am due! I received a book by a favorite author, a desk calendar with "Bushisims" - those wildly funny misstatements made frequently by our current president - not, I might add a person who finds much favor from me! And I also received a special framed 8x10 photo of my baby grandson, Kurtis, which was very much a surprise because although I was present the day the children's special Christmas pictures were taken, I had never seen this particular proof and it is an absolutely beautiful picture of my special little prince, looking his absolute most charming with a smile that seems not to end! Special gifts to me that I can and will appreciate each time I see, touch, feel the love that went into the gift. Oh, and I also received a dvd/video tape player to replace the ones (two separate entities that neither any longer works with reliability) so it will be nice to have something available to use to watch videos/dvds or the home movies my daughter has taken over the past 2-3 years of special celebrations within my family.

My daughter, the baby - Kurtis - and my grandson, Alex and I all went to the 9 p.m. Candlelighting service at church. As always happens with the opening of the service as the choir sings -again - the hymn in Swedish which has become a standard for our church "Lyssna, lyssna, Har du Anglens sangen." (Listen, listen, hear the angels song), and it takes me back in time where, in my mind I hear my Grandfather's beautiful bass voice as he would sing that old favorite carol which must have held many, many special memories for him then as it does for me today.

But, it was watching my grandson trying to follow along with the service by reading the bulletin, following the special readings from the Bible about the Christmas Story beginning with the excerpts of Isiah in which the birth or coming of the Savior is foretold. Seeing him decide to participate when the Pastor gave his children's sermon and invited the chldren to come forward to the altar as he gave a simplified explanation of various parts of the Christmas Story. And, watching Alex as he went forward with his aunt and me to receive communion and he and his little baby cousin Kurtis each received a words of blessing from the pastor.

But for me, the best Christmas gift of all I received this year was when we returned home after church and Alex told his mother he wants to begin attending Sunday School, Church and especially that he wants to take part in the special instruction classes that will allow him to participate fully in the rite of taking Communion too! My daughter asked me this morning if perhaps her sister or I had said something to him about this and that maybe was why he had that in mind when he told his mother of his wishes, but as I explaied to her, that was not the case. He had decided this of his own volition and it was something that indeed made me very happy to hear him make this request.

Something, somewhere along the way, moved quietly into him, into his thoughts, his acceptance of the authority of a much Higher Power's existence and wanting that to become a part of his life.

Amd that, combined with having my family around me once again, made this truly a beautiful and most wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Almost Done (in)

I'm almost done now but for sure, I am very much "done in."

I didn't even have a chance to find enough time to post anything yesterday - Saturday, December 23rd!

I got up around 9:30 but felt really crappy - not sick, just so tired. So, instead of staying up then, I went back to bed. And, I didn't get up then till after noon!

But then, I spent almost every bit of the day and night in the kitchen. Baking cookies, making stuffing for the turkey. I think I got three breaks where I sat down for a few minutes between 1:30 and 10:30 at night! I got to sit down for about 15-20 minutes - had to - because I had to feed the baby. Got Maya some leftover macaroni and cheese - my lucky day - because she was having a minor fit, telling me she wanted mac-che - her word for what is probably her favorite food. She had that, some cookies and then was perfectly content to stay in her high chair with her big "Bratz" coloring book and a couple crayons and she "colored" for close to 90 minutes! All time that I didn't have to keep tabs on where she was, what she was doing, how much of a mess she was making, or what she might be in the midst of trying to destroy too!

I baked gingersnaps, snickerdoodles, two types of a chocolate cookie called "Fudge ecstasies" and if you like chocolate, that is what these are, for sure! I like them for the taste but also because they are actually easy to make too! And then I made two types of tartlet cookies - 1/2 with a cranberry/nut filling and the other half with a lemon-coconut filling. THey are a pain in the behind to make cause you have to roll the dough into these little balls and then smoosh the dough against the bottom and up the sides of these tiny muffin-like pans after which you drop a blob of the filling in there and bake them. They take the longest time to bake too - 25-30 minutes per pan! So just baking those, considering I made 10 dozen of the damned things, took me almost 4 hours to get them all baked!

Stuffing is done now - in the fridge, ready to go into the oven; the turkey is slow-roasting as I type this too. First thing I have to make for today will be a pan of a Swedish baked custard - called "panakaka" - just wish I had some lingonberries to serve with it. This is not a difficult dish to prepare and it's become a tradition that my kids have come to expect I will make it for any big family dinner or occasion and especially so, for Christmas. I have a big round of Bondost cheese in the refrigerator that has been so enticing for me since I bought it about two weeks ago at the local grocery store. I love this stuff but I made up my mind I was not cutting it until after church services at 9 p.m. tonight!

And, I managed to get the few Christmas Presents I had for the kids and grandkids all wrapped too.

All I need now is some sleep - sweet, glorious sleep! Please, don't let those darned shingles wake me up early in the morning!

I'm off now - going to bed and who knows, maybe I'll sleep right through Christmas!

Nah - never happen!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Difficult Day

Yesterday, I took Maya with me over to Clearfield to the nursing home there where my Aunt and her daughter are, and have been patients, since August 31st of 2006. It is only the second time since they were admitted that I was able to get over to see them.

For the first month, after they were admitted, I was dealing with a nasty case of shingles - still am coping with them yet today, as a matter of fact. Still having the pain element along my right side and across my upper abdomen which seems now to have become a permanent part of my body's composition. In October and November - until just a week ago now - I was unable to get over to see them due to a myriad of problems - if I didn't have to watch the two little ones, I had no vehicle for quite a while as my son was using my car and then, there was the surgery, recuperation from that and was finally just released from the "no driving" restriction a week ago.

That still doesn't mean I have the freedom anytime I want now to come and go - I can't manage to go out and take both Maya and Kurtis with me unless there is someone else along to give me a hand there. But, I can again at least now go and take Maya as I can generally manage her ok. You try carrying one of those baby carriers (which are heavy enough on their own) and a twenty pound baby in it and see how easy that is to manage!

But I'm digressing there. This is about Maya's and my visit to see my aunt - her great-great-aunt and Jane Ann, my aunt's only child, who will be 50 years old come February.

My Aunt's given name is Anna Mae but virtually everyone in the family has always called her "Mike." I don't know how she got that nickname - not even sure if she knows how it came about either - but Aunt Mike she has always been to me. Now, my kids and I - along with some of our cousins - will at times refer to her as "Anna Mae" but that generally happens when she is being her most obstinate, bull-headed self, and yes, she can indeed do a good number when she is being "Anna Mae!"

Mandy had stopped by to see AM and JA (as my cousins and I abbreviate things when writing about them) this past Saturday and while there, she gave AM photos of the two little ones of hers - the same pictures I have posted on the top of my blog. She was upset, really hurt, when she came home because AM didn't recognize her when she came in and she had to explain to her who she is plus, AM didn't know or didn't remember Mandy's baby, the little guy - Kurtis- either. Mandy had said AM looked different. She said her eyes were bright and sparkly - she has the prettiest icy blue eyes I think I have ever seen - and she seemed calm but yet, she said there was a look in her eyes that made Mandy feel AM was angry, a deepset anger inside her that didn't surface as it does sometimes when you talk to her.

No, she is not happy at all over the circumstances that have her and JA in this nursing home - she wants to be back in her home, the family homestead. And, I can relate quite well to her feelings there too. I know how I would feel if I had been forced to leave my home of so many years and a place I love dearly. And yes, I would be angry, very, very angry too - wouldn't you?

But today, when I came in with Maya in tow, carrying two small gifts for her and JA and a paper plate wrapped up with cookies, she squinted at me initially and then asked, "Is that you Jennifer?" Yes, I had replied - it's me and I have Maya, Mandy's little girl with me. Maya had by that time begun to whimper a bit, as she sometimes gets frightened by the nursing home and the aura it has of hospital air. She tends to fear that this means she is going to have to see a doctor, get examined, perhaps have a shot and it takes a good bit of soothing to make her see this is not a visit for her in that respect.

I was happy to see AM looked very nice today. Her hair was done - she had recently been given a perm just last week and the style was very becoming to her. Her eyes were bright and she seemed to be more comprehending of things today than she has been often over the past year or more. Jane was sitting in her large, high-backed wheelchair, sleeping quite soundly - actually, she was snoring and didn't hear us at all as she didn't stir till we were almost ready to leave.

Aunt Mike was dressed in a very attractive outfit - grey sweatpants with a very pretty sweater of pink, grey and white stripes and she looked very pretty. Had she had her teeth in, she wouldn't have looked the 89 and 1/2 years she has under her belt now!

Aunt Mike had a colostomy 15 years ago this past October and has done quite well in dealing with that over the years. Granted, she has, especially the last few years, grumped immensely about this thing, having the colostomy bag, etc., to which all of us - her nieces and nephews - have reminded her that it is the fact she was able to have that colostomy that allowed the doctors to remove the malignancy in her colon and rectal area and this is what has enabled her to stay alive to oversee the care of JA all these years.

While Maya and I were there, I was trying to explain to AM how much Maya has advanced just in the past few months - from being totally uncommunicative a year ago and now, she is picking up words, words, and more words almost too quickly. I told her that she now sings three little songs - Happy Birthday, Twinkle, twinkle and Jingle Bells and that I am in the process this week of trying to teach her to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" but of course, as toddlers are ovent want to do when you ask them to say or do something - to perform their "tricks" - she wasn't going to pay a lick of attention to Gram's requests there!

Instead, she ended up getting very whiny, wouldn't settle unless she could sit in my lap and even then, her occasional crying made talking to AM very difficult as her hearing is not the best now either - nor is mine, for that matter and especially not when you have a three-year-old making all these sobbing sounds! But we did get to speak a bit as I told her I had heard today from the widow of my cousin Dick, who had called me to ask about AM and JA - where they are, how they are, etc. I know this niece-in-law was for many years a favorite member of the family as far as AM was concerned and she seemed to understand what I told her and appeared happy that Betty had taken the time to inquire about her and JA.

Because Maya had become more rambunctious and was wanting AM to open her gifts so we could then leave soon, she began to wave to AM and telling her "Bye bye Mike, Bye bye Mike!"

When we did get ready to leave, as I leaned down to hug her and give her a kiss, she mentioned to me how much she wished she were in her home. I told her I too wished she could be in her home too but at the same time, I was also very glad that she and JA are where they are now too. The reason being that it was so difficult for her to try to care for herself and JA at home and now, she can sit back and relax and oversee that the staff does tend to Jane's needs very well, as well as eliminating all the other chores AM had to worry about in that big old house. Her meals are provided - no need to worr about cooking and the nutritional levels are being met now. No need for her to worry about JA slipping and falling as there is adequate staff to get her up and down - in and out of bed without a fear she will knock AM over and one or both of them being injured in the process. So many things like that makes seeing them in that home such a relief to know that they are being cared for and quite well too, overall.

I would like to see AM try to allow the staff to take her to community areas in the home where she might be able to relax and develop some new friendships with others there who still have a good bit of their mental faculties intact, but that is something she refuses to do - she will not leave JA's side. And, in retrospect, considering she has dedicated the last almost 50 years of her life to the care and love of her daughter, I guess that is too much to ask her to try to change that part of her being now.

As we got ready to leave, JA woke up and seeing Maya and I there, she broke into a big smile. Always one to love having little babies and children around her, I think seeing Maya sparked a little memory cell in JA as she seemed to recognize her and acknowledge both of us. Maya has a thing now about "rubbing noses" - you can't always get her to give a kiss, but she will almost always rub noses if you tell her "Noses" and when I suggested to her that she rub noses with JA, she immediately went over to her - no fear at all there - and yes, she did rub noses with Ja which got JA to break into an even bigger smile. Don't ever tell me the mentally challenged, even those as drastically so as is JA, don't understand the little things, small gifts from little chldren of affection. It was more than obvious that JA knew what Maya was doing and appreciated her efforts.

After my giving AM a hug and kiss, I asked Maya if she would or could give AM a big hug and a kiss. For a few seconds she did hang back a bit and then, went over to her wheelchair, arms spread open wide and did give AM a very nice, very affectionate hug and even a kiss!

Knowing how important actions like that have always been with members of my Dad's family - they've always been easy to give displays of affection and it was a given around any of my aunts/uncles there that hugs and kisses were mandatory gifts to be bestowed frequently. And, seeing the smile on AM's face after this little one had done that, was worth more than anyone could ever give me. As Maya backed away from AM, she even started to sing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" - which surprisingly enough AM could hear and pick out the words Maya was repeating to her. She also even started to sing a couple words to Jingle Bells which perked AM up even more as she began to sing the refrain with Maya.

My older daughter, Carrie, is trying to figure out how to squeeze in the time to make the drive up to Clearfield with her son, Alex, so AM can see him, how big he is now and hopefully even be able to hear him play Jingle Bells on his trumpet! I too am looking forward to hearing his rendition of that tune on Sunday when they will be coming here for dinner!

One thing though - there's never any question when AM sees Alex as to who he is - regardless of how much he has grown nor is there ever any doubt as to how he will respond to both her and JA as Alex has grown up around both of them and has no fear of JA - offers to play with her if she is awake and feeling ok and always is extremely attentive and tries to talk as much as possible to AM, telling her what his interests are, how he is doing in school, what he is learning - fills in as many gaps there as he can. And she becomes, for a short time then, the Aunt I know and remember so well from my childhood and younger years as an adult. The Aunt who was always so full of love and caring for all her nieces and nephews!

And that's the Aunt I was so happy to see a good part of that in her today.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Blog's Worth!

I just did the little thing with "Technorati" where it evaluates the worth of one's blog and mine, according to however they do their calculations, is worth apparently a little over $5,000. I was surprised by this. No, actually, I was SHOCKED! I was figuring I'd be lucky if they came up with 2 cents of value from my ramblings!

I have no distinct purpose behind my entries here. Hence the name, "Down River Drivel" as I think it is quite fitting to call many of my ramblings "Drivel." That's what it is, so why lie about it?

Tonight, I'm rambling probably more than usual. Why? I have no clue!

I spent yesterday - between babysitting Maya and Kurtis - trying to get some things in order so I could do some baking for the holiday, which is now, what - four days away. I am no where near ready - nothing unusual about that, not for me anyway. Although I am a little more prepared this year than I was a year ago at this time. Last year, I didn't begin doing any cookie baking until Dec. 23rd and that ended almost as quickly as it began when my mixer burned up on me! No, it didn't catch fire, flame out all over the place and scorch me, the counter or anything else. It just started giving out this grinding sound and I could smell the motor starting to smolder! Not a pleasant smell and one I have become quite accustomed to since that marked the fifth - yes, fifth - hand mixer I had managed to destroy in a short two year period!

To say I was unhappy about this would be an understatement. I had bread dough partially mixed, was in the midst of creaming butter and sugar for some cookie recipe when I detected the obnoxious aroma and knew immediately, my plans for mashed potatoes for our Christmas Day Dinner would mean a stiff arm from having had to mash them myself using one of those old-fashioned potato masher things. Not exactly my favorite utensil in my kitchen catch-it-all junk drawer!

But anyway - bake to the present and my baking thus far which consists of about 4 12 dozen peanut butter cookies (which my older grandson, Alex, professes are his favorite cookies) and today, I managed to create roughly 12 dozen cookies of the "chocolate chip" variety. Except these are different in that I used the "swirled" chocolate chips. I have almost 5 dozen raspberry-chocolate-swirl chip cookies and another 7 plus dozen mint-chocolate-swirl-chip cookies. I have a package too fo caramel-chocolate-swirl-chips waiting patiently in the wings to go into yet another batch of these, shall I dare say "delicacies" and maybe will manage to get them whipped up in the morning. That is of course, provided I go back to bed and manage to garner a couple more hours of sleep before daughter Mandy has to get up and get her fanny off to report into work at 7 a.m. (All that means is that sleeping late in the morning is not going to be an option I can enjoy today as I will have to be up early now to make sure Kurtis and Maya get fed, have clean dry drawers on their little fannies and that Maya doesn't immediately begin to partake of her favorite pasttime - wrecking the living room and adding a few extra-special touches to the living room as well as to my bedroom if I forget to gate that area off so she can get access to all the many types of wonderful possessions, stacks of fabric, patterns, books, yarns, a sewing machine, other pieces of furniture to store my clothes in but which usually end up all in a pile here, another there for that truly "lived-in" appearance we all strive for in our housekeeping methodology!

I don't know why but tonight, by 9 p.m., I was totally exhausted, could not hold my eyes open any longer and went to bed! I was sound asleep within at most, probably 10-15 minutes and doing fine with my snoring technique - no one came out and poked me to roll over so it must have been a bit on the quiet side - but about 1 a.m., those little stinker things I have been complaining about -incessently too, I know - for the past 4 months apparently woke up and noticing I was asleep, they couldn't let me continue in such a peaceful mode. So the damned shingles began to pinch - and pinch and pinch some more until I felt I had no alternative but to get up and go take yet another Lortab in the hopes it would go to work quickly, making me very sleepy - like waving the proverbial watch on a chain before my eyes and telling me "you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy. Sleep, sleep, yes restful sleep."

Well I am happy to report that now, yes I am getting sleepy so something is working in that respect. But then too, that is now, as I sit here trying to type. Odds are, the short walk from my computer desk to my bedroom - about 12-15 foot at most - will be just enough to bring me to life again and I'll still be awake, tossing and turning at 6 a.m. when Mandy gets up to get ready to head off to work today!

None of these ramblings this morning has touched on another aspect of my being awakened so rudely by these freaking shingles and that is that this morning when I initially woke up, I was also for some reason or other -none I can attribute to anything in particular, but I was also depressed.

Probably was depressed simply because I had been awakened at this time of day and loosing so much valuable time to expound on perfectly delightful topics to enlighten all my readers with my astute interpretations of how wonderful my prose is or can be at times, or relating to others the joys of my beautiful grandchildren, or perhaps it was the thrill of having baked some more cookies.

I just don't know but for some reason, checking my e-mail suddenly had me in a weepy mode - one I don't really like when it comes upon me suddenly, no warning and nothing drastic happening either in my life to cause that.

But for now - it has been wonderful to sit here and type this, tell you all about my current circumstances too and to see, to experience, to feel, the extreme need to go back to sleep!

Hope you don't have a problem like this that keeps you from that wonderful aspect of wanting, needing sleep, believing it is just around the corner waiting to take you away to dreamland and then suddenly has you wide awake, wishing you could count has high as my 3-year-old granddaughter is now doing throughout each day - great entertainment that is'

So - away I go - in search of some more sleep and here's hoping each of you reading this says a quick prayer in my behalf that it will all come to pass!

What do you do to get yourself back to dreamland anyway? Share your information so I can try it tomorrow night too because odds are, this syndrome of mine will be back, full strength then too!


My blog is worth????

My blog is worth $5,080.86.
How much is your blog worth?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Way To Help!

I belong to a Writer's Group - not always one that operates like maybe what folks might consider a "normal" writer's group though in that these people talk and talk and boy, do they talk some more and often, the topics are not completely about writing.

We discuss all kinds of things - virtually everything from soup to nuts, as that old expression goes. Recently, there have been many postings about two particular topics - homelessness and AIDS. And, it is the latter of those two topics that I would like to talk, at least a little bit, about today.

We've all heard things on the news - TV, Radio, newspapers, magazines every where - about the problem of the AIDS disease. How scientists are working daily, striving to find a cure and in the meantime, also to find more drugs, better treatments to keep those affected living, just one day, one month and now, in many cases, some are being helped to live years with the disease.

Don't think as so many tend to do that AIDS is something that affects only the Gay Community now because if you do, you've fallen into a trap of misinformation. AIDS can very easily affect any of us - all of us! Sex is not the only way this is contracted and anyone can end up, inadvertently becoming ill with it and also, spreading it to others who least expect that they could get this terrible disease.

I am not going to go into details here of how easily it is spread. I am not going to go into detail here either about how many areas, world-wide, have been and are being inundated with this epidemic.

What I am going to do though is to point you to a fellow blogger's website - it's listed in the column to the right of this posting - Reading Rucker. Written by Linda Rucker, a writer from central Florida, she gives very detailed information about this disease and what is needed for people to do to help find a cure.

Because Linda believes so strongly in trying to help, she has set up a program through the publisher of her recent book "Dark Ridge" whereby any sale of a copy of her book, 50 cents from what she would normally earn will be donated to AIDS research.

You can learn all about her book, her donation program and how passionately she believes it is up to not just her but ALL of us to try to do our part to find more medicines to treat this illness as well as a cure to bring this to an end.

And, if after reading her posting, you are interested in helping this very important cause, order a copy of her book and you will have done three things that are all good for you. You'll have learned how important this research is to each of us - not just the Gay community. You will have contributed to helping fund the necessary research to find a cure. And finally, you will have a new book to read!

And, if your friends and family members all like to read too, order a couple copies of Linda's book and give them as gifts for Christmas, birthday - any occasion whatsoever!

But ultimately, you will have done yourself the biggest favor possible by trying to prevent the spread of this disease and thus, by learning more about AIDS, you can learn how to keep yourself healthier in the process too!

Go do it - NOW! Read Linda's blog, order a copy of her book, "Dark Ridge" and together, we can all work to eliminate this terrible disease!