Saturday, September 30, 2006

Weather Related Woes? Maybe.

Weather Related Woes? Maybe.

It's been a kind of mixed-up, rather yucky day today.

I had an appointment this morning in Clearfield to have a PET/CT scan done. The appointment was for 10:30 but they tell you when they call and get your preliminary registration information that you are to report in an hour prior to the appointment time so that meant I had to be there at 9:30 for my scheduled slot

I did that. Well, maybe I might have been five minutes late but now more so.

When I left the house, it was kind of grey, started to sprinkle a bit off and on as I was heading onto the interstate and by the time I got to the hospital parking lot, it was sprinkling a bit harder. Necessitated putting the wipers on, using the intermittant cycle.

I went to the registration desk and checked in and then seated myself in the waiting room. Normally, there is usually maybe a 10-15 minute wait till you get called for this particular test but this morning, I had time to look through one complete magazine and no one had come for me.

Finally, a little old lady seated directly across from me was called and after she left, I asked the people who were obviously with her if she was there for a PET scan too and they said yes - that her appointment had been for 9:15 and by that time, it was already 10:20 or so.

Knowing they were running that far behind in their schedule - and also, how long it takes to give you the prep dye and then administer the test, I knew then there was no way I could have one done and get out of there in time to be back to the house by 12:30 so I went to the registration desk to tell the girl there I was going to have to leave.

I explained to her how long I'd been there, what time my appointment was supposed to be, etc., and she looks at me and says "So, are you going to wait?" DUH! That's what I'm trying to tell you ding-dong - I gots to go! Took a little more explaining on my part but finally she got the picture that I was leaving. What a yutz!

So, I get home and I'm tired - didn't sleep much or very well last night. Took yet another lovely lortab pain pill as the pains in my right side still haven't subsided very much. All those pills really have done for me all day today is make me a little more groggy - haven't done very much in quelling any pains, that much is for sure!

But, while I was then feeling very sluggish, tired, downright sleepy pretty much all day, apparently those issues within me passed over to the computer too because for about 6-7 hours, there was virtually no activity whatsoever on my e-mail!

This is really a shock to the system because the one group I joined about 2 weeks or so back now - "Thewriterslife" on Yahoo is usually one extremely active - downright lively discussion group. Granted, sometimes I get a little tired of the one-line posts that upteen folks there seem impelled to put up on the boards to everyone when a lot of those messages really would be better served if they went to the person directly - but, well that's another issue for another time I think -but I found myself feeling really lonely, no one talking about anything to me, to the group or to one or two other people within the group all afternoon and things didn't start to flow again until about 8:30 tonight! I don't think all the messages that had been posted between early this morning and the current time have all even come through as yet so maybe it was the lousy, rainy, really chilly weather today and it permeated everything - not just my old creaky joints and bones!

But, on the upbeat side of things, Penn State did beat Nortwestern today! YEAAAAA! WE ARE! Better believe it folks, that "WE ARE" and I am most definitely, Penn State, all the way!

Here's to sunny days and warmer weather ahead!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Time Flies!

Time Flies!

Boy, how quickly time passes us by! Hard to believe this year is already three quarters completed, isn't it?

For me, it's been a challenging year though as well as exciting and very happy much of the time.

For openers, I have a new grandson - Kurtis Tyne Wagner - born on April 13th and he has become such a joy to have around. As happened when his sister, Maya, came into my life almost three years ago now, it does make one wonder what on earth we did before this new arrival came along and entered our lives.

Kurtis, I think, has to be the happiest little guy I have ever seen! His "fussy" spells are relatively rare and in the beginning, his crys for food or clean, dry clothes were more of a "moan, grumble and groan" type noise. Now, he is a little bit more vocal but still, rarely does the screaming pitching a fit type stuff Maya did at this age and still does every now and again too! You definitely know she's around by her voice!

Kurtis is one to lay in his bassinette and be content for long periods of time with a couple little stuffed toy type things which he jabbers at a good bit now. When he gets quiet does not always mean he is sleeping either as sometimes he will just lay there, looking all around and being very, very quiet. If you stop and look down at him, the immediate reaction is he flashes such a huge grin across that sweet little face and then, usually laughs out loud for you too and I've yet to see anyone who can resist not laughing back at him too! Just so friendly a baby! How could we have ever been this lucky? God has truly blessed my daughter and son-in-law and ME most of all I think with the beautiful grandchildren I am fortunate to say belong to my family line!

Alex, my nine-year-old grandson, can't be forgotten in this picture either as he is quite a wonder too! He's a sweet, very well-behaved little fellow too - not just saying that as a biased old grandma either! He's a good student in school - has even won awards each year for his class leadership abilities, which is quite a swtich from the "awards" his mother and aunt and uncle brought home from school when they were his age! And now, he has begun a new adventure in his life too - taking trumpet lessons! The other nite, Carrie phoned here and put him on the phone and had him try to play the trumpet for us to hear his talent. Ok, you can imagine how "not so great" the sounds were - so much so that Uncle Bill (Mandy's husband) commented it sounded very much like someone torturing a bull elephant. Don't know how Bill knows what that might sound like but I have to agree with him. But, that was after having had only one lesson too so it stands to reason he is going to be bad, very, very bad for probably quite a while here. But, he's learning a new skill, using a hidden talent he might have in his little body and it's all good!

I'm learning a few things myself lately too. I found a forum online and through it, got some help to learn how to put links into my blog so guess that makes a lie then of the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, doesn't it? Well, I think so!

Yesterday morning, as Mandy, Clate and I were enjoying a nice wake-up cup of coffee, we heard a loud noise on the road here and realized the sounds was that of a fire truck zipping past our house. Within the next 3-4 minutes, three more fire trucks when whizzing by and continuted on past where the pavement ends on the dirt road that leads to the ghost town about a mile or so from the house.

We didn't learn till last evening what was going on down in Peale (the ghost town) but when we did, the news was sad, very unsettling. Seems the last house down there, which has been used as a camp for a family from the Philly area for many years now, was discovered to be smoldering around 8 a.m. and a garage type building across the street from the house had also been burned during the night.

Now, considering there is no one who lives down there, there were no storms Wednesday night into Thursday morning - nothing going on at all that could have started a fire, it is more than obvious this had to be a case of arson.

However, I do wonder how many people, when they learn of this act, will realize what a loss it is to the area to have this last house now destroyed by such a thoughtless action too! Such a shame when people act like that and destroy something that is a last vestige of history from this little ghost town. Just makes me wonder what on earth goes through the mind of whoever set this blaze and caused this destruction. I can't imagine getting a thrill out of seeing a piece of history go up in flames and smoke.

Certainly, if the owners wish, they can build a replacement on the property but considering the house had to have been well over a hundred years old, can that ever really then be "replaced?" I think not. Just such a waste, such a waste.

It's been a bit of a sad week here too from news items in the local paper. Monday's headline was about a terrible accident in the neighboring county in which a young Amish couple and their baby, a year old boy, were riding in a buggy and hit by someone driving an SUV. The couple were both seriously injured and the baby - thrown from the buggy and killed. Enter in one tragedy for the week.

Then, on the obituary page of that paper, there were two obituaries listed for two women from a town about 20 miles from here - a mother (age 56) and daughter (age 28) who were victims of a pedestrian-vehicle accident down in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where the family was vacationing. As was reported in the paper the next day, the mother and daughter had been walking along the highway with other family members and in attempting to cross the highway, they both stepped out in front of the SUV and killed instantly. The daughter leaves behind a young husband and three-year-old daughter which makes this event even more tragic.

I don't know any of these families but it is something that truly makes my heart ache for those they leave behind. And, makes me realize yet again, how fortunate I am that nothing like that has ever happened to me or any of my extended family as well.

And, it makes me hope and pray that as time flies, nothing like that ever does happen to me or my loved ones too!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Maya's Music

Maya's Music!
My sweet little granddaughter, Maya Kirstin, will be three next month - on the 18th - but she was diagnosed a little over a year ago with developmental delays.

One aspect of the delays had affected her speaking - so a year ago this past June, the local Bright Horizons children's care group started working with her via two therapists - one to help with her behavior and the other is a speech therapist.

It took what at times seemed like forever before the therapist started to see any results of her efforts with Maya but now that the key has apparently been found, it has unlocked somewhat of a flood gate. Maya has been repeating so many things over and over now and even beginning to use words in the proper context too which is so fascinating to see her learning this skill.

Back in May, we noticed she was able to count - would count to 20 and then all of a sudden we realized she didn't just count, but she could recognize those number on sight and name them too. Within about a month, she began doing the same with the alphabet. Outstanding!

My daughter and I frequently sing little songs to her and the first one that we noticed she was picking up words from it is the Barney "I Love You" song. It was so comical because at first when we would sing "I love you, you love me" her response was "Me Ma Me" but she did it with little tonal variations there and we figured that was her way of saying "you love me". Then she picked up on the Great big hug for which she says "a gre be hu" - leaves off the last sound there and she would give hugs on that line and blow kisses on the last one "And a kiss from me to you."

Ok, we were really excited and happy about that little ditty apparently reaching her.

Then came "You are My Sunshine" and in that one she picks up a word here, a word there and frequently parrots "You sunshine" to us.

But this past Monday, out of the blue, she began her own version of the Birthday song. Her song goes like this:
Happy happy to you, Happy happy to you, happy happy to you. YEAAAAA! and then she claps and dances about with such glee and we all just go crazy watching and listening to her.

I have decided developmental delays are really a good thing through this whole time with the therapists and watching and waiting to see what she will come up with next.

Why? Because you know how much you love seeing the little ones and you think at times, if I could just keep you in this stage for as long as possible, well, for us, that is what the developmental delays have done. They have enabled us to enjoy Maya in this beautiful toddler-two-type age just a bit longer than we normally would have been able to have and to savor the beauty of this little one among us that much more!

She sure is Grammie's little princess - no doubt about that!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Waiting For The Phone To Ring.

Waiting For The Phone To Ring

Boy, that's something I really hate!

Sitting and waiting and waiting and WAITING some more for the phone to ring. Not that you're waiting for just anyone to call but when you are waiting to hear from someone with really important information. That's what I'm doing today! (And was doing yesterday too for that matter!)

I'm waiting for a call from the doctor's office in Pittsburgh as to what time my appointment this coming Friday has been scheduled for - or is it not going to take place this Friday after all, maybe?

I'm supposed to have a procedure - signmoiscope, I believe is the term, plus yet another ct scan and followed up with another consultation with the surgeon I saw last week in which, to my understanding, he will then make a determination as to how soon I will be fortunate enough to get scheduled for surgery!

Not that I am all that happy about pending abdominal surgery but if it will get rid of a lot of the issues I have been dealing with for roughly the past year or so, then bring it on and the sooner the better!

I'm also more than a little nervous about this coming trip to the 'Burgh too since I will have to drink a couple bottles of high-test intestinal house cleaning fluids (laxatives) and then, try to ride to Pittsburgh - a 3 hour trip - with all that junk floating about and going to work on my system. Don't doctor's know there is no such thing as a bathroom installed every 5 miles along the route from my house to his place of employment? What's a body to do then?

Get in the car, ride and pray, I suppose!

Plus, I have no idea what time my dear daughter, who will be my chauffeur for this jaunt, will arrive here to pick me up for the trip. THe initial plan was to see if we could get a room THursday nite at the Family Center at Univ. Pitt Med Ctr (reasonable rates and right next door to the hospital) so I could take my plumbing cleaner and have some peace of mind and also get some rest afterwards too. But, she has to work till 4 or 5 p.m. tomorrow, then for her to go home, get ready to come get me - it's an hour's drive from her place to mine too - plus, she tends to be slow a molasses in January too - who knows what time we would get out of here and actually get moving then as well!

Now you understand my quandry - I hope!

Time for me to go make coffee and indulge my thoughts over a cup of Joe and some more nicotine.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Frustration Abounding!

Ok, I know I am not computer literate - not in the full sense of that term anyway - and blogging is something extremely new to me, but trying to figure out how to set up a column of links is driving me absolutely bonkers. And trying to figure out how to get help from Blogger or Blogspot or whatever the heck is in command here, is also beyond my abilities too, apparently.

You would think - if blogging and creating one of these things is so dang-blasted easy as the initial setup area leads one to believe, that there would be a set of instructions, written in plain English (not computerese) for dummies like me to follow and be able to do these things, wouldn't you?

Heck, I can't even log into the group forum, can't set up an account there, cause the spaces where I am supposed to enter information - like my e-mail address, user name or password - whatever - none of them will work! I type and nothing appears. WTF?

I requested to have my blog listed on another blog for a group I joined and was told it would/could be added but I would have to link to that blog on my blog. Ok, I thought, I should be able to do that, huh? Nope! No can do it!

The few instructions or answers about "linking" that I found don't match up at all with what appears on my screen, for openers, in the template area. I can't find diddly-squat that refers to "sidebar", to the google news or EDITME things! Where the dickens are these things located anyway?

If anyone out there reads this posting of mine and knows any answers to my questions, please e-mail me - I'll be forever grateful and will remember you in my will if you - anyone - can explain any of this stuff to me.

Meanwhile, I'm just hanging in there, making a few postings here and there to keep it growing I guess you could say.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I just finished reading a little article in today's issue of the Centre Daily Times about how men today are fixing their garages, basements, building sheds, barns, adding on rooms to their homes that gives them their own really private place to do what they enjoy best - whatever that may be.

My son-in-law has done that here in my house too. Ok, his "den of iniquity" isn't anything fancy but it is what we joke about here and refer to as Bill's Bat Cave.

He has commandeered my basement!

Such as it is, more power to him is my opinion.

My house is an old place - built in 1903 by my Grandparents. The original basement only ran under the area that now is the living room. Back in the 20's, when my grandparents moved back here from West Virginia, my grandfather and uncles began working to expand the basement and as such, the excavated under what was then the kitchen are of the house - now the dining area - and dug that part out, by hand, and wheelbarrowed the dirt out as they dug. Or something to that effect, so I was told in family history chats I overheard as a youngster growing up here.

Sometime apparently in the 30's - not sure exactly when the family did this - what had been a L-shaped porch that ran across the house from the mid-section in front of what had been the kitchen and along the side of the kitchen - this porch was enclosed to make a sunporch in the front and change what had been the kitchen to a dining room and the new enclosure on the side of the house then became the kitchen. What had previously been two rooms - dining and living room - was opened to make one big living room. And, when that was done, they also dug out in the basement under what became the kitchen area to give sort of a "three room" effect to the basement.

Being pretty much the standard of most old basements in old houses, this place wasn't much different - low ceilings, cob-webby all over the place, dark, poorly lit, etc. My son-in-law, when he moved in here, decided it was the perfect place for him to mess with some of his favorite things.

Since then (5 years ago now), it has served not just as our laundry area but also as a band room for him to have his drum set in place and where he would retreat often to practice drumming.

He also revamped a few things too down there - nothing spectacular since funds are still of a very limited commodity within our household - but he installed more shelving to house his car parts and other and assorted "junk" he accumulates. Yeah, I know "One man's trash is another man's treasure" - I'm not saying his stuff is all junk, that's just a little catch phrase for anything when I have no clue as to it's earthly purpose.

He's used this area to drag in some motors, engines, transmissions and the like and work on them there - since we have no garage to give him a better place to do work like that.

During hunting season, it gets transformed into a butcher shop with the carcas of the deer he has brought home from the wild hanging there, waiting to be cleaned, cut-up and frozen to provide extra meat for the family during the coming year. Most years, it has seen more deer than my son-in-law has bagged because a friend of his whose family all hunts, do it for the sport, not for the meat and as such, they have frequently given us their kills for Bill to butcher and freeze for our use.

And, back in 2004, when my son decided he was moving back home, one room in the basement got converted into a nifty little bedroom with the wildest paint job you'd ever hope to see! The guys worked their butts off removing the old plumbing in there from my grandmother's laundry room era as well as from the years that room also served as the bathing part of our bathroom facility. (The commode was at the foot of the stairs in what we refer to as the "furnace room" and the tub was in the laundry room along with grandma's old wringer washer and two laundry tubs.) They then put up plaster board in the room, closing up one of the two little windows in the room in process then. After that, my son took over and painted the room purple with lime green flames along the bottom part. Quite an interesting place, it was.

My son-in-law converted two old wall cupboards into storage spaces with the one making a transition to a built-in entertainment center where he had electrical outlets as well as a cable hookup for tv viewing. Pretty neat, actually.

My son lived there for about 3, almost 4 months as our own special "cellar rat" and managed to survive till he found an old house in the village in dire need of upgrading but otherwise fairly solidly built and purchased his own place.

Since then, the son-in-law has been trying various and sundry little things to improve on his storage area within his space. His goal is to someday have a garage all to himself in which he can have all his tools, parts, music paraphenalia, magazines and you name stashed in handy places. I'd like to see that happen too so I could have more storage space for myself to use for my fabrics and yarns and patterns and such that wouldn't entail my trying to climb into the attic to access them!

But reading that piece in the paper today also reminded me of a neighboring village which has always had a reputation of being kind of a "goody-two-shoes" place since it is a "dry" village - no bars or saloons allowed out there. Many of the former residents - the towns founder types - tended to put on airs to the rest of the folks in the township that they, being of a higher moral code, didn't indulge in those type of activities. Yeah right! The hell they didn't! Those closet drinkers all made their way down the road either into Winburne or Grassflat!

But it also reminded me about one local resident out there who took refuge in his garage, brought his beer home in a shoebox and stored it out there with out the prying eyes of his wife. Yep, that was his "manspace". His private domain. And, the funny thing about that furtive action was he actually thought no one else knew the stuff was there!

Most everyone probably in the whole doggone township knew about Ray's "manspace" and his private stash there. Fortunately for him, none of the local kids ever decided to invade it though and steal his beer!

Sleepless Saturday

Here it is - almost 2 a.m., I'm still wide awake and still feeling lousy from a variety of ailments as well. Been hitting the Walmart's generic version of Advil or Tylenol junk since my pain meds prescription is empty. The stuff helps at times, then drops off and leaves me hanging too.

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. Mainly in hopes I would see things others talk about that might give me some ideas, some inspiration to use to write about. But, so far, not much happening.

However, yesterday while visiting my aunt, who is now living with her youngest daughter, my cousin commented on how I tend to remember so much stuff from way back in time about our family, our lives, separately and together, as the extended family we are. And yes, that trait of mine has been pointed out to me by lots of other family members and not a few good friends too.

I joke about my memory though because as my kids will tell you, sometimes it is also very short. Some days I can't remember 5 minutes ago, much less 5 days ago. Five years is really pushing things much of the time too. But make that 4 or 5 decades back and boom, the old memory often kicks into full gear then!

What got me to thinking about this fact tonight though was in reading postings made by various members of a writer's group I just joined last week (thewriterslife), I was amazed at some of the things others had written and how much detail they could go into in describing various things in their past, etc.

"Gee," I thought, "I can't remember nitty-gritty little bitsy puny details like that." And then I thought about that idea some more that maybe, just maybe, if I try to get my fanny a tad bit organized, I can do that!

Now, if I were to sit here and try to remember something from my past and write about it, odds are nothing would pop up in my mind. So, what good would that do then? How can I try to put this idea into play?

When a lot of the stories of my childhood, youth, early, middle and later life come into my mind, it is usually something that has been triggered by a comment someone else made and boom, things come flooding back. Maybe not in minute detail right then, but I think if when someone does say something that generates a memory - good or bad - in my pea brain, if I take the time then to jot down what was said that brought that memory forward, then as quickly as possible, get to the (hopefully) trusty computer and blog it in, perhaps it will start pulling a story together then for me.

Will it work? I dunno. But I think it merits a try.

For future reference here and now, I'm going to put a couple things in this piece that maybe in the very near future, I will be able to sit and pull enough other stuff out of my hat and put it together in a readable format. Doing it all for posterity, you know!

Right now - my mind is very much on my aunt who my daughters, baby grandson and I went to visit yesterday. She was married to my Mom's younger brother, they had four children and lived in a big ranch type house my uncle built back in the 50's and 60's. (Yes, it probably did take him at least that long to finish the place - if indeed he ever did get it finished to his satisfaction that is.)

From probably the summer of 1952 or 1953 until 1962 when I graduated from high school, I spent a lot of time with them. It was a time I cherish today as it was my Aunt Mary's attempt to try to put a little bit of "normal" into my pretty dysfunctional life.

Right now, there are two specific events that occurred on my vacation visits to Corry that really stand out in my mind.

One is the summer my cousin Kenny and I built our version of a four-lane highway in the back yard, my aunt's reaction to this undertaking and my thoughts on how if Kenny and I had ever dared to do something like that in my backyard - where I lived with my Mom and maternal grandparents - most likely we would have been severely chastised! Quite possibly even given a good licking too in the process for destruction of my Grandpa's prize lawn!

One other memory of my summer visits with Uncle Cookie and Aunt Mary is how, every summer in late July and August, when the tomatoes were starting to ripen on the vines in Cookie's huge garden, we frequently had the same meal almost daily for lunch and also for supper. It would consist of a jar of mayonnaise on the table, salt and pepper shakers, usually two loaves of bread and a big platter of freshly sliced tomatoes just picked from the garden.

That would be our meal - day in and day out and I thought, until yesterday, that we all just dug in and cleaned up on freshly grown tomato sandwiches. That is until my cousin Becky said she had always hated tomatos, especially tomato sandwiches and never would eat them. That part I don't remember. But if she says she pitched minor fits and ate peanut butter and jelly instead, I'll give her that choice. I know Aunt Mary would never have fixed an entirely different "meal" for one child because her theory then as was mine with my kids was pretty much the same train of thought - "I'm not running a restaurant here, so you'll eat what's on the table or pretty much go hungry." But I can see her obliging one child with a PB&J cause it wouldn't be like really cooking a separate meal now would it?

Those are just two little tiny memories in my mind but perhaps, given a little time and effort, I can put them into context and write about them as a special memory of mine that brings back a time in my life when things were so much different for me.

Just a wonderful, loving time spent with one branch of my family tree.

Now, isn't that just a special thought too - and one that must be relaxing me as I think about it because I am finally beginning to feel the need (and the abilty) to go to sleep!

Pleasant dreams!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Family Is It!

Down RIver Drivel

Family Is It!

Without one's family, what do you have?

Sometimes, you have a very calm, peaceful, quiet life. But I think you have nothing.

There are times when all is chaos within my family. But, it's a chaotic thing I wouldn't trade on a bet, in a heartbeat, for love nor money. Nope, not ever!

I have three children, three grandchildren and three step-grandchildren now - all beautiful, lovely and very loving individuals each.

Growing up, my life was considerably different from that of my friends, my peers.

My dad died of stomach cancer when I was 17 days old and my mother and I then resided with her parents in this little coal mining town in central Pennsylvania called Grassflat. My joke about the name of the town is that it had to be some drunken old Swede who gave it a name like that since there really aren't many flat places in the village. My home then - and now - is in the valley section - known as West Clymer - which just happens to be on the eastern side of town. Go figure!

Because I grew up with my maternal grandparents, it was only natural then that I had a closer relationship with that side of my family. My Dad's family homestead was only 8 miles away and though I saw some of his siblings and some cousins on that side fairly frequently, I still didn't really know that side all that well, growing up. For that matter, 60 some years later and I am still getting acquainted with some of my Hill relatives.

Back in 1950, when I was six years old, my Mom's family organized a reunion for the descendants of my great-grandparents - Carl and Maja Lisa Till Eld. And that reunion has been operating every year since then.

This set of great-grandparents came here from Sweden with my Great-grandfather arriving in 1880 and Great-Grandma came over the following year bringing with her their five children who ranged in age from the youngest - Uncle Oscar who was a year old to Uncle Eric, who was 9 years old. They came into New York City at the immigration center that preceded Ellis Island and from there, took a train that brought them to Williamsport, PA where they reunited with my great-grandfather who was by then working as a coal miner and living in what is now a ghost town, called McIntyre.

Three years later, my great-grandparents and their children packed up and moved with the rest of the townspeople in McIntrye to follow the mining work up to Clearfield County where they then settled in what would later become yet another ghost coal mining community -Peale, PA.

By the time they moved to Peale, both my grandfather and his older brother were now also working in the mines. Considering my oldest grandson, who is now nine years old, is the same age as my grandfather was when he first went to work in the mines, I can't imagine how difficult that could have been to lose one's youth that young and be required to work every day then at such hard, grueling and dangerous work as coal mining was then. Not that it is all that much easier or safer today - just a different set of circumstances that has seen many improvements over the past century plus to lessen the dangers somewhat.

While the great-grandparents were still living in McIntyre, they had another child, a son name Elmer. After moving to Peale, they had two more sons and three daughters added to their clan.

Those great-aunts and uncles then formed the core four of them who had passed away prior to my arrival on the scene. But the ones I knew were all really wonderful, loving, caring and fun to be with relatives.

My grandfather (Adolph Eld) and his older brother, Eric, frequently whiled away their retirement hours sitting out on our sunporch and talking about everything and anything they remembered of their life in Sweden, the boat trip to America, McIntyre, Peale and finally, Grassflat - where they both made their permanent homes.

And I usually played at their feet, with my dolls or coloring books or other toys and listened to their conversations, occasionally even chiming in with questions for them about their lives. How I wish so often now that I had been older and better able to remember the things they talked about. I think it was probably those conversations I heard from them that gave me a very early love of history and the desire to learn more about "the good old days."

My grandfather left Grassflat in the late 1890's and went up to Olean, NY in search of work as did Uncle Eric. They boarded there with a sister of Great-Grandma Eld -Aunt Anna Till Johnson and it was there that both of them met the women they would marry and bring back home to Grassflat then to live out the rest of their lives.

My Grandma Eld was born in Mayville, NY but her parents eventually settled in Scandia, PA - just outside of Warren and when she was only 14-years-old, she went to work as a maid for one of the oil tycoon families in Warren. From there, somehow, she found her way up to Olean, NY where she met my Grandfather through the church they both attended and both sang in that church choir. Grandpa had a beautiful bass voice - which probably explains why all my life, I have had an affinity for men with really deep, low voices.

The family joke here was that when Grandma first met Grandpa and learned his surname was "Eld", her comment to him was "Oh, Eld - that means fire in Swedish so you must be hot stuff." Knowing how prim and proper my grandma was, I think this was most likely some little line made up by my one uncle who loved to tease Grandma about everything and anything.

My Grandparents came back to Grassflat and were married here in October of 1901. They shared a house initially with Uncle Eric and his wife, Aunt Beatrice, which to see that house today, one would wonder how the heck it ever served as a double home. Most likely, Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Eric had four rooms while my grandparents had three rooms on the other side of the structure but it had to be really cramped living conditions no matter how the place was split because it is a very smallish home.

In 1903, the corner stone was laid for the house my grandparents built and which in October of 1944 became my birthplace. With the exception of about 10 years of my life - give or take a little bit - I have lived in this old house.

By the time I was born, Grandpa was retired from the mines but he was one busy man in his retirement as he planned out each winter his gardens for the coming year and read up on seeds for both vegetables and also, flowers that he was always planting here and there around the house. Roses was his big love and he had some beautiful rose bushes back when I was a child which instilled a love that exists to this day for that particular plant, especially yellow roses which are my all-time favorite.

My grandparents raised six children - Ethel, Bertrum, Ralph, Hazel, Clarence and Marian. Hazel, being my mother. They also had 11 grandchildren and before Grandma died in 1963, there were by that time also four great-grandchildren. Eventually, more great-grandchildren were born to bring the final total of descendants of that generation to 30. Today, there are now 24 great-great-grandchildren who descend from the marriage of Adolph and Ellen Johnson Eld and this family now extends almost cross-country too so knowing who the cousins are now is very difficult compared to when I was a kid and my cousins either lived in Monroeville (outside of Pittsburgh), Corry, up near Erie or Hagerstown, MD!

Four of these great-grandchildren are also Asian American as my cousin Becky and her husband adopted all four of their children from Korea which made for some really interesting family photos when that generation came together at the family reunions - most the Eld Grandkids tended to be blonde, blue-eyed little ones and then there would be Beck's four with their black hair and dark eyes too! Quite a contrast but a testament to diversity and acceptance these kids all had of the others as their cousins.

That's the beginnings of my story, my family - a group of people I share many things with but mainly a blood line going back to Bolstad, in Dahlsland, Sweden.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Old Avonlady's Orders

The Old Avonlady's Orders

The past three weeks of my life have been Hell - totally and completely HELL!

First there was the routine colonoscopy which the surgeon told me later yielded results showing a tumor, in the same darned location as the first one (which had been malignant) had been and this one, due to prior surgeries, scar tissue, radiation and a host of other issues, he felt it would be impossible to do a resection but most likely, I would have to have a colostomy.

He also told me he was going to check with my chemo doctor, see what kind of cocktail, if any, he could whip up for me and that if I came back in a week to see him, he would then have the full lab reports and be able to give me a layout of what was to come.

Fine. I can deal with that, was my thoughts as I left his office that day.

Over the next three days, I started getting these sharp pains across the lower part of my shoulder area, just above the bra line. Not alarming in that they didn't come when I took a breath but just - well a pain in the back.

By the following Monday evening, I started to develop a rash on my back and two days later that rash had spread across my back and around to the middle of the front of my abdomen. Through surfing various medical sites on the web, I decided I must have the Shingles.

Then, Thursday rolled around and with it came news from my cousin that the state had come in and removed our aunt (age 89) and her daughter, who is severely mentally and physically challenged (age 49) from the family homestead and taken them, with my aunt kicking and screaming all the way, to a local nursing/rehab home.

As proud, determined and independant a woman as my aunt had always been, I knew this was not going to be an easy transition and boy, I was right. It wasn't an easy transition for me either to see them lose this 4, almost 5 decades long fight.

Then, on Friday came my appointment with the surgeon. The first thing he told me was he had good news - it seems according to the lab tests, the tumor was benign after all.

Now this should sound like good news but I don't always trust lab tests and what he said after telling me this too, set off all kinds of red flags to me. He commented that there was also a possibility there might be a second tumor behind the first one which he hadn't found simply because he couldn't scope any further up into the colon because of the first tumor.

That really alarmed me because that is what one of my Mom's doctors had surmised may have happened with her when they had found a tumor in her colon, said it was benign and about 7 weeks later, she was dead of cancer of the rectum, liver and spleen!

But it was his decision to not take ANY action at this time that I think really began to push me dangerously close to the edge of insanity over the next week as I worried about how that might be what was going on now with me too.

Finally, a week later, I ended up talking to my primary care physician and her physician assistant who both felt I needed a second opinion as they both felt with my history, no stone should be left unturned at this point of the game.

A couple of days later, I received a call from a doctor in Pittsburgh giving me an appointment to report down there to him a week from now.

I know there are all kinds of variables in this issue but at least now, knowing someone else is going to take a second, probably closer look-see into all this, it gives me better odds and also, is something ultimately that will have a much fairer potential outcome for my kids in that if it isn't good news, they aren't being led astray thinking all is well within their (and my) little world.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pickin' and Peckin'

That would be what I am doing today - picking through my mind to try to do a mental house cleaning and then, pecking away on the old keyboard to try to put those thoughts into practice.

Not an easy task for me on any day but after the past 2-3 weeks worth of garbage in, very little of it moving on out and away from me, it is a move of necessity right now. I really have to clean out all the garbage thoughts that often crowd the small space available to good stuff in my mind.

I am, I guess, what would be termed a "cancer survivor." I was diagnosed three years ago this past March with colo-rectal cancer via a colonoscopy.

When that first procedure was performed, I was very depressed, having a lot of problems with my intestines, unemployed, and pretty much scared about how the heck I was going to survive.

The best thing that happened to me then was that the surgeon I had apparently had the ability to read me like a book and understand that he would have to take charge of my life, in no uncertain terms. And that is exactly what he did for me then too.

After the procedure, he came and spoke to me and my daughter, outlining for both of us what he found and then telling me what I was going to do. He didn't give me information and then say now, you have a choice to do this, that or some other thing. He flat out said, "This is what you will do!"

His instructions were that in two days, a nurse would come to my home and insert a "pic" line - an iv line that would remain with me for the duration of the first phase of my chemotherapy. Then, they would start the chemo which would run, 24-7, through a "porta-pac" unit for the next 6-7 weeks.

After that, the following Monday, I would report to Altoona Hospital where I would meet Dr. Jack Shocker, the radiologist, who would then set up for me to have radiation treatments for the next 6-7 weeks too. The surgeon also informed me that I would be responsible to get myself to Altoona for that first visit at the Radiation Department but that every morning thereafter, a van would come right to my house and pick me up, take me to Altoona and then return me safe and sound to my home.

After completion of these two prcesses - chemo and radiation - I would be given roughly a 4-6 weeks break to rest up, recover a bit and then I would have surgery to remove the tumor that had been found in the colonoscopy. The game plan here was that the radiation would shrink the tumor to a more manageable size for removal and the chemo would prevent further growth or spread of the cancer.

After having the surgery, Dr. Timothy Phillips (my leader now) then informed me I would have six months of follow-up chemotherapy after which, provided all went as he had laid things out, I would then be pronouced to be "cancer free!"

Had he not given me this game plan that day, if he had given me information and told me to decide what I wanted to do, I most likely would have gathered up my clothes, purse, daughter, thanked him for his time and opinion, and walked away with no intentions of ever returning.

But, because of his take-charge attitude towards me, I listened to his plan for the next 10 months of my life and actually followed his orders pretty much to the letter. The only thing he told me to do that I have yet to follow through on is to quit smoking. I'm still not quite ready to leave that crutch behind me.

I had the chemo, did the radiation, rested a couple weeks and had the surgery. All seemed to be going fine until about 2 weeks after the surgery when I started getting terrrible pains in my left buttock that seemed to start at the backbone and spread across the cheek and down to the hip-leg joint. It took roughly two more weeks then of all kinds of tests - cat scans, x-rays, you name it, before the doctors finally figured out what was creating all these issues and lots and lots of pain. Two buldging (or herniated) discs!

I then began physical therapy that lasted from late July until the end of December of that year. Took the first six weeks of therapy to get my body to a point where I could begin to walk, sit, lay down without being totally miserable with the pain these two disc were wreaking on my system.

Because I was recovering from having had the colon resectioned and was taking large doses then of pain medications for the back problems, I developed more problems then with my lower intestinal tract of severe constipation with occasional bouts of "lets see how fast you can move to get to the bathroom" episodes.

All this led up to my filing for social security disability because I knew there was no way I could return to a work setting and be a good employee with my constant trips to and from the bathroom. I had things down to a science in my home by then too - knew exactly how far I dar stray from the bathroom in the house at any given time then too - a luxury you know isn't going to exist in any work site.

And, as a result of all those issues, 18 months after my initial diagnosis, a judge at my hearing for the disability, agreed with me that working again would be extremely difficult for me to manage under those circumstances.

It was during that 18-month period though that I discovered how much I enjoyed trying to write.

I did a couple little essay type pieces and even managed to sell one to a magazine - something that did wonders for my ego, I might add. I also found a small local monthly publication and the editor/publisher there liked the type of writing I did and she began to use little articles I wrote that pertained to our local area. From that, I found myself hearing from people at church, at the local grocery store, even e-mail notes from folks, telling me how much they had enjoyed this or that piece I had written and was I going to keep writing these little pieces too. Also a really good ego-booster, I must add.

And that is what began my desire to put my thoughts into words on paper or in little files on my computer and also, into these blog sites I have now set up to use to try to help clear the fogs and cobwebs out of my mind.

The intent here is to write about my feelings, as well as my opinions on various topics. And, if anyone else is interested and reads these blurbs I post here and maybe even takes away from this medium a little bit of information that helps to inform in any way, shape or form, then that is all the better.

I'm working my way through what can be construed as the ending portion of my journey here on earth and trying to do it in a way that will provide insight perhaps to my children and especially to my grandchildren who, right now are way to young to listen to Grammy tell them the story of her life - such as it was, such as it is today.

Not that my life has been ultra-spectacular or any such thing as that, but so they will know and perhaps understand, what things happened to me over my time here -before them, during their time growing up, and maybe give them insight into why they are the way they are too - thanks to those goofy genes I may have provided to them way back in their beginnings too.

Well, hopefully, that's what this blog will do!

Time will give the answer to that if I was successful in my venture or not.