Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Fountain

Does anyone else here heat their home with hot water heat that comes through those big clunky radiators? Or, did you ever live in a home with that kind of heat?

If so, then you can maybe relate to what happened to us this morning.

The kids were watching tv, my daughter's bestest friend ever, her 13-year-old son and her brother who is a couple years older than Mandy and her friend Missy, were visiting us and all of a sudden, the valve on one of the two big, big radiators in the living room "blew."

Suddenly, it looked for all the world that we had a big fountain in the living room - spraying water all over the place. What's the name of that famous fountain in Rome? Kind of looked like that.

My little granddaughter, Princess Maya, apparently thought this event was one of the coolest things she'd ever seen! It definitely took her attention away from watching the Country Music Videos, which usually we have to almost pry her away from that channel on the tv set.

Mandy finally got the valve back in the slot, to it refastened - temporarily too. And, as I write this, Bill (my son-in-law) is working on trying to figure out if he can fix it or if we need to get a whole new valve for it. You just know, don't 'cha, the odds are it's gonna take whatever is the most expensive to fix it too cause this is the week the mortgage payment is due. And in this house, Murphy and his law reign supreme.

The good side to this sudden eruption is that 1. we were home when it happened and could attend to it before it damaged the whole first floor by flooding it and 2. the water in the radiator wasn't scalding hot as it could have been just a week or two back when the temperatures outside were much lower and we needed the heat to be running all the time then.

And, look at it this way too - the living room floor just got scrubbed two days in a row! And Miss Maya got to play in an "indoor puddle" this morning too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Broken Legs

I'm sure everyone is most likely familiar with the old line given to folks when you want to wish them well - to do a good job. Yesterday, when my stepgranddaughter left the house to go up to the school for their dress rehearsal and special performance of the school's play for the year, that's what I wished her.
The look on her face at first was one of surprise and I asked her if she knew what I meant when I said that. Then she realized what I'd really said and how I meant it and she smiled, said "OK."
And tonight, her dad, my daughter and I attended the kid's performance of West Side Story and I am really happy to say a whole bunch of kids all apparently had wishes like that behind them.
These kids, from a relatively small, rural school district did a superb job on this musical!
And my stepgranddaughter, who had some lines - although not a real "leading role", it was an important one - lots of dancing she had to learn too though, and she came through as a very believable character in the part of "Anybody's Girl!"
For our school district, this marks the sixth year now that they have selected a play - musical - and those kids have worked their collective fannies off for the past three months now learning music, lines, building scenery, props and such and have each year turned in one great performace after another too.
My next-door neighbor, who teaches special ed at our school, has been the director/drama coach for these productions and deserves many, many kudos for a job truly well done. Her son, Daniel, now a freshman at Penn State University, had leading roles in the three productions prior to this one.
The first one of the plays that I was able to attend was four years ago this March when they did "Annie" and Daniel (the neighbor's son) played the part of "Daddy Long Legs" - a role that really seemed to be one meant for him as he is grown to be a tall young man and when he shaved his head for that part - well, he really looked like "Daddy Long Legs."
The funny thing with Dan's shaved head though was that the production that year was the weekend right after my initial diagnosis with colo-rectal cancer and my son had come home that weekend to visit me, to give me moral support, etc. And, although I hadn't begun getting any chemo or radiation treatments yet at that time, as a means of further giving me moral support - in my son's eyes - he had shaved his head.
The following week when I went in to see the doctor who would be doing the surgery on me when the time arrived for that cracked up laughing when I told him what my son had done. As he explained to me, in three months, after I completed the chemo and radiation treatments, because of the type of chemo I was to receive, I would NOT lose any of my hair but my son would probably still be dealing with the issues of having shaved his head.
OK - that's venturing a bit off-course from the play today but everytime I think of any of the plays these kids have put on and that I have been fortunate enough to see, I always think back on that one!
Watching the presentation tonight though, I found myself getting a little teary-eyed occasionally from some of the scenes and the music - I happen to love the music from West Side Story - but also from watching so many of the kids in this production and realizing how old it also made me feel.
My neighbor's daughter, Alina, and another young girl from our church, Leah, were making their final performance as a member of the school drama club since both of them will be graduating in May. And a young man, Spencer, still has I think a year left in school before he will be moving on to college too and who knows where after that. And I think it was seeing Spencer performing that really hit me about my age because you see, his mother and dad were, of course, in the audience and I've known his dad all my life and used to babysit him and his siblings way back when I was about the age that young Spencer is now! Teasing his dad after the end of the play that it made me feel really old to see his son there on the stage and thinking back to when I babysat his dad, even taught the kindergarten Sunday School class when his dad was about 5 years old, Spencer's dad, Tom, reminded me that he understood fully what I meant because he and his wife, Leesa, are about to become grandparents about a month from now of the second grandchild!
Sheesh! Were did those years go anyway!???
Seeing this play and knowing how hard those kids and the others who had all pulled together to make this enjoyable evening possible also made me think of what great training it has to be for the kids in the Drama Club too. What a great way for them to learn even a smidgen of self-confidence in their abilities. What a great way for them to have that to think back on too for all the memories they have to have acquired and the camaraderie it will foster in them that the will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
It just makes me very proud to see how many kids did "break a leg" today! And here's hoping the performance tomorrow night and Sunday are every bit as successful as was this one tonight!
Congratulations to the West Branch Drama Club for having shown their audience an excellent presentation of "West Side Story" and for showing what great skill, talent, creativity lie within them, just waiting for someone to bring them together, work with them and make them all shine like the stars they are!

And of course, the Bushism for Friday, March 30th as well as the weekend Bushism for Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st. Here they are, folks.
"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead." - Washington, D.C.; May 11, 2001.

and this
"It's going to require numerous IRA agents." - On Gore's tax plan; Greensboro, North Carolina; October 10, 2000.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bang of a Wake-up Call

I went to bed late - or very early - depending on how your perception of time might be - last night. I think it was well after 3 a.m., maybe around 4 a.m. before I hit the proverbial old sack. I was sleeping quite nicely too until about 7:30 when I was awakened with a bang. The banging, actually the slamming of the front door - just a few feet away from my room, from my bed, and by some not-so-friendly type parting words too as the person who slammed the door left the house for the day.
"Ah ha." I said to myself, "There apparently is some trouble here in paradise."
Then, not quite fully awake, I thought for maybe 10-15 seconds or so as to whether it warranted that I get up then and find out what the squabble was about or should I roll over and go back to sleep.
I opted for more sleep!
When I finally did decide to get up, it was getting close to 10 a.m. Just about enough time to get two wake-up cups of coffee in me before the first of Maya's therapists arrived today.
Maya was quite receptive this morning with her behavior therapist - paid pretty close attention to the tasks she had put before her, no meltdowns, nothing even close to looking like it might develop into a slight hissy fit, and that's always nice to have a session go like that!
But, because the therapist this morning also decided to join our "walk" and be a part of "Maya's Team" in the Cure Autism Now Walk on April 14th over in State College, my normal routine in the morning - check e-mail, read the CDT paper, read blogs - got way behind. I got the therapist entered on our team. Then we discussed places to try to see about getting donation cans set up. Add to all that mix, my son showed up and wanted me to do his registration for the walk then too since he had learned from his co-driver they would be leaving tonight, early hours of the morning (actually about 90 minutes from now as I type this) to be on the road for the next 4-5 days.
So, I got that done. Then my daughter picked up the mail and in it was a check from a very dear friend of ours to be applied towards our Team's totals. Got that recorded, plus the money that my ex-husband had sent home last Saturday with my son, after they had been able to have breakfast together in Needles, California.
And after that, it was to write a letter to the special events organizer for the Walk to see if he could correct an error in which a cousin of mine had made a very substantial contribution to our team but her confirmation notice didn't show that it had gone to our team's totals. In the process of doing that, I asked the gentleman if he could also fix it so that my older daughter, who had registered for the walk before Mandy and I had set up our Team could be moved over to be reflected as part of our team.
By the time the day was over, I had confirmation on my cousin's donation, got my older daughter over to our team report and with the two new walkers registered, other donations recorded, etc., I was really very pleased when I looked at our totals that we had collected thus far - $510.00! Not bad for a group of folks who have never done anything like this before as Mandy and I are! Actually, I think what we have raised to date is pretty doggone good!
Ok - enough of the pats on the back there!
I forgot until late this afternoon that today- the 28th, that is, was the day my neighbor and very good friend, was having heart surgery down in Pittsburgh at the University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center so please, keep our neighbor safe, say an extra prayer or two for her that the surgery went well, that she heals quickly and comes back home very soon! I have your birthday card here, ready and waiting for your return, Shirley! So, you'd best be home quick so I can run it up to your house and hand deliver it!
This afternoon, Mandy and my son took Miss Maya up to his house where they proceeded to take a bunch of pictures of Maya playing with Uncle Clate's drum set (Actually it's her Dad's drum set but he keeps it at Clate's house because he can go up there and practice and not annoy everyone here with the drumming noise!) They also took some pictures of her holding an electric guitar that belongs to a good friend of Clate's as well as pictures of her with the microphone to his stereo set-up as she was "playing" that she was singing. Then, they decided to take her outside (the weather was nice and sunny but a chilly edge to the breeze) and wanted to take some photos of her seated in Uncle Clate's old blazer with him at her side. They wanted these pictures of him and her together so they would have a good picture to pick from to use on the donation can they were fixing to put out at Cooney's Bar up on Route 53 for donations for the Cure Autism Now Organization. The thought being although a picture of Miss Maya would be enticing, very pretty, etc., a lot of folks might ignore it cause they wouldn't know who she is but if she were pictured there with UNCLE CLAYTON - who virtually all the regular patrons up at Cooney's know - well it might loosen up for some more donations that way. Oh, the things we will do, the lengths one will go to find ways that may ultimately help our little Miss Maya some day!
They did get some really cute pictures of her alone as well as some great shots of her with her Uncle Clate too and yes, I'll be posting some of these photos here today too. I hope so anyway, if I can find 'em here on ye olde computer!
Here's Miss Maya playing the drums up at Uncle Clate's house. Notice the way - very professional in our opinions here - that she holds the sticks. Looks like she really knows what she's doing doesn't she?
And you really do have to agree with me when I say she is just as cute as cute can be too, now don't 'cha? Come on, admit it, agree with me cause you know I'm right, right?

And here we have Miss Maya, the up and coming future country western singing sensation, showing Uncle Clayton how it's done! Considering the fact that the ONLY thing she really enjoys watching - requests it to be honest - is the Country Music Video channel. She has her little toy guitar that she holds and strums while watching this or that singer belt out a song and she even is developing the movements too - lean forward, tilt the guitar a certain way for effect, the lean back. However, her repertoire is still somewhat limited to "Twinkle, twinkle, little star," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "Happy Birthday," and her lastest addition -"You Are My Sunshine." But she's learning and that's all that's important. You can't tell at all by the smile on Uncle Clate's face either can you now, how much he adores his little niece?
And, the last picture to go with this post is this one. Here's Maya and Uncle Clate sitting on the hood of his old Blazer parked in his back yard. If you look really close, you can see there is something in Maya's hand - yep, it's a microphone. Seems the only way Clate and Mandy could talk her into getting up on the old blazer with him was if she could take the microphone to his stereo setup outside with them. Hey, what can I say! The kid apparently has her own particular set of priorities now doesn't she?
And, that brings me to the end of my stories for tonight. Aren't you glad that's over and done with? And with the end of those stories also comes one more little thing on the blog - the Bushism for the day. And perfectly timed too this all has been as it matches up exactly for my last swallow of the last bottle of Yuengling beer from the six-pack my son brought down last night! Pretty good timing on my part there too I think!
For Thursday, March 29, 2007
"I'm thrilled to be here in the breadbasket of America because it gives me a chance to remind our fellow citizens that we have an advantage here in America - we can feed ourselves." - Stockton, California, August 23, 2002.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Late Night!

Boy, I am really late - or very early - getting this post up tonight. It is still night to me until I get up in the morning - regardless of what time it is when I get up!

I was going to just head off to bed and not do a post at all but decided no, I'd put a really short one up which will explain why I am so late doing this.

Yesterday, my daughter rented the DVD "Borat" and she, my son-in-law and I watched it last night. Ok, my son-in-law was totally turned off by the movie - especially the fight scene in the hotel room between Borat and the old fat guy accompanying him on his journey. My daughter got a big charge out of a lot of the stuff in this movie but I think perhaps due to the reaction her husband had to it, she decided she'd best cool it in the laughing at the movie.

And I howled laughing at this flick! It is perhaps the MOST absurd movie I have ever seen and yes, it is obnoxious at times, but geez, it is also funny as all get out too!

Tonight, my son came down about midnight - brought a peace offering to his sister and me (a six pack of good old Yuengling beer) and we three watched the movie. This time, my daughter laughed with her brother and me till she couldn't stay awake any longer and she went to bed. My son and I though both were cracking up! I knew he would totally get a huge chuckle or two -or ten or twenty and more - out of this movie.

Thus ends my movie review of the night!
And, just what I know you are dying to read, here's the Bushism for today, Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"It's evolutionary, going from governor to president, and this is a significant step, to be able to vote for yourself on the ballot, and I'll be able to do so next fall, I hope." -- Interview with The Associated Press; March 8, 2000

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Toy Lady Cometh

It was a busy day today for me. My son arrived home a little earlier than he (or we) had anticipated - must have made some good traveling time. The last I had talked to him yesterday was about 6 p.m. when he said he was about 40 miles outside of Knoxville, heading towards Hagerstown, which he anticipated would take them about 12 hours. Then after that, by the time they (he and his partner and boss) got the trailers unhitched and on the road to home, would probably take them another 3 1/2 to 4 hours so I had calculated he'd get home around 10 a.m. but he was down at the house at 7:45 this morning - in his little pickup truck too.
That he showed up in his pickup was a big surprise too as on Friday, when Mandy attempted to start it and drive it to her job, it wouldn't start. And Saturday night, when Mandy and Bill had finally had the time to go up and check the truck again, it still wouldn't start - not even when they tried to jump it. So when I had talked to Clate yesterday, we were all anticipating he would have to go get some parts for the truck to get it road-worthy again.
But, he said when he got home, he and his boss put cables on it and it fired right up. Go figure!
I had a doctor's appointment today - nothing drastic, just a routine check-up. But I came home with two prescriptions - one for the anxiety issues I experience from time to time and the other, a prescription for lidocain pain patches to see if they will alleviate any of the recurring pain problems I've been having since I got the "lovely" (NOT) shingles, seven months ago today, to the day!
The physician's assistant gave me a sample of the pain patch to try before I filled the prescription - just to see if they would help at all. So, after I left the doctor's office, I scrounged around in my purse in search of something I could use to open the package with the patch in it and finally succeeded in getting it open. I immediately slapped that baby on my side to see if it would have any affect on the area and I'm happy to say that by the time I drove from the doctor's office to the Super Walmart - about 5 miles maybe - I could feel the pain beginning to ease up!
Now that was cause for celebration there, for sure! Shingles is caused, as I understand it, by the same virus that causes chicken pox and it affects the nerve endings. Normally, it doesn't stick around quite this long but since I contracted them, I've heard some folks say they've had them and one lady had pain issues for two years and had to have surgery to snip the nerve endings to get any relief. But, if the way this one patch worked today, I think the solution to my problem here may finally have been found. I sure as heck hope so anyway!
I picked up some groceries and a few things Mandy had on a list she had given me and finally got back home about 5:30.
After I was home a little while, I happened to notice a new entry to the toy field strewn across the living room floor - Maya's personal playground or also could be considered a toy "minefield" cause if you tread the wrong way through the rubble, heaven only knows what you might step on there!
It wasn't until after supper that I found out what the new item was and where it had come from. I had forgotten that today was the day of the week that the "Toy Lady" comes.
The "Toy Lady" is a young woman who works for the agency that supplies the two therapists who come once a week to work with Maya. Her name is Rachel but Mandy and I refer to her as the "Toy Lady." She comes on Monday and brings either a new toy or a book that the agency has approved as being age appropriate for Maya. While here, she shows Maya the book or toy, either reads to her or explains to her how the toy operates and then leaves. Then, two or three days later, she returns to see how well Maya adjusted to the toy, played with it, her interest/comprehension level, etc. And, Maya builds a heck of an accumulation of new toys and lots of books too in the process. It's really been a great program and some of the toys - actually many of them - have become big favorites of Maya's.
The one today happened to be a toy, but a working toy - a tape player with a microphone and it had a tape too of children's favorite little songs.
And Maya really likes this one!
Boy, does she ever! She understands it quite well although she does have some difficulty with getting the tape in so it will play and often does need help with that. But once it is in place, she has no problems figuring out how to turn the volume up and she also understands and REALLY loves the microphone.
Well, most of the bit about how to use the microphone she understands. Just one small area that we haven't been able to explain to her. She doesn't put the mic up to her mouth - she puts it in her mouth and then, trys to sing!
However, she hasn't yet had time to learn the music and words to any of the songs on the tape, so while it is playing whatever, she is singing - with the mic shoved darned near to the back of her throat - "Twinkle, twinkle, little star!" And, of course, the volume on this thing is turned up to the max so we were about blasted out of the house at times by her singing.
Mandy and I hoping right now for a short life span on the batteries!
Don't get me wrong here, I'm very happy to see her playing with this tape player, really I am. I'm so glad she understands as much as she does about how to operate it and that she is learning more about her voice, her vocabulary -all of that. But the hope is still for a short life span on the batteries or either Mandy or I will soon be hiding the tape player I'm afraid!
And that, pretty much explains my day and the Toy Lady. Now on to the Bushism and then - off to bed to see how well this pain patch thing REALLY works!
For March 27, 2007
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." - La Crosse, Wisconsin; October 18, 2000

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Take a Bow, Theo!

I'm going to try to get ahead this week - get a jump on things. That's my game plan tonight but how well it will pan out over time is anybody's guess. So, first things first and here's the Bushism for Monday, March 26, 2007.

"[A] free Iraq is essential to our respective securities." - Washington, D.C.; June 1, 2004.
Ok - now that's over and done with for today! Reading that Bushism though brings a question to my uneducated mind here - what does it mean or why do they have this [A] showing like that? So much I have not a clue as to why things are the way they are!

But on to other things now too.

Tonight, I finally got around to looking at an e-mail I received the other day from my son's Godparents. Well, actually, it came from his Godfather, Theo, who is also - in my opinion - the absolute master of puns! He also loves to send out videos, jokes, photos - you name it - if it has a twinge of humor too it and especially if the humor is a bit off-center, risque, count on Theo to find it and send it to me and a bunch of others on his "friends" list.

And trust me when I tell you this, I don't mind being one of the recipients of his brand of humor either. Nope, not one little bit do I mind. Usually, opening something from him has a tendency to be risky and I have long ago learned never, ever to open anything from him just after having taken a sip of any type of beverage. Too much mess to clean up off the old keyboard and the desk!

Tonight, the piece I opened from him was a little video, which I found to be cute - not hysterically funny like some he has sent but very cute.

However, when it started to play, the music caught my granddaughter's ear and she came running over and then stood by my side, mesmerized as she watched the video the whole way through. Never seemed to move a muscle nor did she appear to even blink.

And not only that, she requested a little while later that I play it over again too! And that - the fact that she made her wish know clear enough that I could understand what she was telling me - really was quite a surprise and a very pleasant one too.

When I replayed it for her, she sat on my lap this time and you could see she was studying it very closely. Now, if we could just get the subliminal message this video might have across to her, everything here would really be fantastic.

Here's the video. Bet you can tell too then what subliminal message I'm hoping might be in there too now can't 'cha?


A Few Changes

I start out with really good intentions. I'm going to do some sewing. I think I'll knit a couple more of those pretty furry boa-type scarves. I need to get my photographs organized and start scanning then, saving them to cds. There's this other blog I should be thinking about how I'm going to set it up. I REALLY need to CLEAN my bedroom.

Add to that, the little things of life - today's a work day for my daughter so I'm on - watching the two little grandkids. Every day - or almost every day - it's my job to first put my self into a thinking mode as to what I might like for supper and then, go into the actual cooking mode to get it prepared.

Nothing there is really super difficult with the possible exception of cleaning my bedroom. I really and truly do loathe, abhor and despise even thinking about that task. I'd rather have five root canals (if I still had anything to do root canals on) that even think about the mess my room is most of the time.

All the rest are relatively simple things just some are more time consuming than others. But I manage to keep procrastinating and very little of those things get done.

But in the past week, I did finally get a couple computer-related things attended to. If you check my favorites list off the right, you might see I've made a couple additions there.

Tonight, I added a blog written by a lady I've come to regard as a friend though we've only "met" via e-mails exchanged in "The Writer's Life" group I joined early last fall. Her name is Marilyn Celeste Morris and her blog "Once A Brat" is about a book she has written detailing her life from 1938 to 1958 as the daughter of an Army officer. After viewing the book trailer she has on her site and reading what she has posted thus far about her life, her book, the blog looks to me like one that will be very interesting to follow and the book sounds very enticing - especially to someone like me who really enjoys history-type things.

Another blog I added to my favorites list is "On a Rainy Night" written by Paula, from up in Oregon way. She posts some really beautiful photos of the area of this country she calls home and she and I share a hobby too - knitting! Plus, she's going to be a grandmother not once, but three times this year. All those things kind of put Paula and I on a common ground plus, I like her style of writing, her commentary on things in general. Stop by her site and check it out sometime.

Sometimes I actually manage to do things I've told myself I'm gonna get done and adding those two blogs to my list of favorites was something I should have done before now but well, you know how it is when you happen to be a master procrastinator and Scarlett O'Hara is your favorite book heroine of all time.

You just sit back and say "I'll worry about it tomorrow."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Answer to What We All Wanted to Know!

Ok - I confess! The devil made me post this!

The Red Mo -Ready to Go!

Next week on Saturday, March 31, 2007, the road in front of my house will look almost like a city street. Cars, vans, trucks - you name it - will be going down here and almost every one of them will either be towing something or have similar equipment all strapped down on the roof of their vehicles - kayaks, canoes, paddles - all the items needed for folks to take part in the 40th Annual Red Moshannon Downriver Race!

This is one of the high points in the area every year, on the last Saturday in March. Canoists and kayakers will come from points almost all over the country now as the popularity and notoriety of this race has become known.

I remember back in the mid-70's - the race had been taking place at that time for roughly ten years or so and back then, almost like clockwork, every year in late winter, early spring, the road in front of our house would have a major upheaval resulting in a huge bump that rivaled any "rumble strips" the highway department might lay down in a construction zone!

There were no markers along the road either to alert drivers that this big, big bump lay ahead of them either.

And, for several years running, on the day of the race, my ex, the kids and I would watch out our front window, worrying and wondering how soon someone would come flying down with a vehicle loaded down with canoes or kayaks and gear, hit the bump, lose control of the car or truck and land in our front yard - or even inside the house for that matter. Lucky for them - and for us -that never happened although one car did some to a screeching stop in front of our house after taking the bump way too fast and the two canoes on the roof slid down and totally blocked his windshield.

I wrote an article about this race about two years back for the West Branch Review and focused my story on a father/daughter team who had run this race for several years. The father(Howard Pillot) is the son of a couple up the street from me who are very good family friends and their granddaughter, Anna.

Howie, as he is better known to me and my kids, has taken part in this race for many years now, won a couple of them too, he has. The photo on the left is Anna Pillot and her brother Carl, canoeing on the Red Moshannon Creek. On the right, is father and daughter at one of the many races they participated in on the "Red Mo. (Howard and Anna Pillot of State College, PA.

The Red Moshannon begins up around Osceola Mills, PA, winds its way down through Chester Hill and Philipsburg, behind Hawk Run, through Munson, behind Winburne and down through the ghost town of Peale, PA and eventually empties into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The photo on the top of the first page of my blog shows the Red Moshannon where it converges with the Susquehanna (West Branch) near Moshannon, PA.

The race itself runs a sometimes really wild and wicked course as the Red Mo makes its way downstream to the bridge on Rte 53 between Moshannon and Drifting. It used to be referred to as the "Iron Bridge" but since that bridge has now been replaced just a few years ago by a nice, new, much safer crossing, only locals would refer to it as that now. The distance of the race course is, I believe, seven miles long. Lots of beautiful scenery along the ride too!
So, if you happen to be a white water canoe/kayak enthusiast and want to try and exciting race, come on out for the fun on March 31, 2007 to Peale, PA. Peale is located about 1 1/2 miles down the road from Grassflat. You'll find lots and lots of other white water racers there plus a guaranteed good time too. And, if you happen to see Howie and maybe his son Carl at the race, wish 'em both lots of luck too from me!

Mr Veripst and the Cingular Guy

This is a story about two men -both with considerable tempers. One I know quite well because he happens to be my ex-husband. The other is a writer friend I've come to know through the Writerslife Gang and he's our group's resident redneck.

The Redneck Writer has a lot of health concerns and is frequently having "issues" with his insurance provider pertaining to a lot of the medications he has to take. Seems a short time ago the insurance company told him they were not going to cover some prescription he takes and he was calling around trying to get the problem resolved. In the course of his calls, as many of us have had similar experiences of this type, he was connected to a "customer service rep" who apparently works outside the good old U.S of A. and wasn't too good with the English language.

And, at times, neither is the Redneck Writer as he speaks a lot in the Redneck vernacular - the Tennessee version. At the close of his conversation with this particular rep - in which he apparently had threatened to commit hari-kari or some such if they didn't get his prescription problems corrected, he had told the Cust. Svc Rep that they would be hearing from him again and that he was "very pissed." The service rep had made a written note of this and given the files to someone else to handle and that rep called the Redneck Writer to clarify some things, including a name discrepancy because the name on the account didn't match the name Redneck Writer had given the first service rep. Then guy calling wanted to know who is "Mr. Veripst?"

And, companies wonder why things get all screwed up and discombobulated?

And then there is the "Cingular Guy" - my ex-husband - who is very well known by my kids, me, his siblings and just a few other friends and acquaintances too for his temper, which can at times, be quite formidable.

Seems CG ("Cingular Guy) was having issues with his cell phone and had taken it to Cingular to try to get it fixed and no one seemed to be able to figure out what the actual problem is/was with the phone. CG has little to no patience, and especially does not tolerate incompetence at all. He too had called Cingular, talked to a customer service rep and voicing his displeasure, had told the rep if they didn't get something done about this problem with his phone he was going to buy an old van of some type, paint it a blazing orange and spray paint on the sides of it in big, bold lettering "CINGULAR SUCKS" and he was going to take it and drive it all over Las Vegas to show his displeasure with the company.

The rep told him please, to not do that and immediately turned the call over to a supervisor. The supervisor then told CG to bring the phone to such-and-such Cingular store and they would replace the part believed to be the problem, etc.

CG said no, that he couldn't do that. The spvr said something else, again requesting that he bring the phone in and they would correct it.

And, once again CG said he couldn't do that and explained then why he couldn't do that.

It seems he had been to the Cingular store, had repairs made, they didn't work, he took it back, more repairs, still didn't work, he took it back and on that visit, his notorious temper took over and he pitched the phone against the wall at the store where it flew into several pieces! He had gathered the pieces up, taken the phone home, put it all back together again and it still didn't work! So, in CG's opinion, no point in dealing with this company and their phones any longer!

My daughters, when they heard him tell this story, were howling with laughter because they both knew their dad well enough that he is very, very capable of finding and fixing up an old van and painting it - including the lettering - and would have had no qualms whatsoever either of driving a vehicle like that all over Las Vegas either!

And the funny thing about "Mr. Veripst" and the "Cingular Guy" is that although they are not related (at least not to my knowledge anyway), if you were to see photos of them, you would swear they look enough alike to pass for brothers - or at the very least, cousins.

And, in temperment - well, you can judge that for yourself based on the above stories now, can't you?

Off and Running!

"Princess Maya!"
The photo here is Maya, taken at Christmas with a very special gift she received from her sister, Sierra. This is a set of Barbie-type dolls but each one came dressed as a specific "princess" - Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, etc., and when Maya opened that package, as she removed each doll from the box, she knew immediately by the dress on the doll, which princess that doll was representing. I was amazed that she knew each character by the clothing! And this is the photo I selected to put on Maya's Team's webpage too! (Just in case you didn't check out our website on Cure Autism, you can see what MY little princess looks like! Isn't she just a little doll though? Well, we sure think so anyway!

This walk that my kids and I have signed up for - a fund raiser to Cure Autism - has really started off with quite a bang for us!
Wednesday night - we learned about the walk and that we had to register before midnight that night in order to be eligible to get a tee shirt commemorating the walk.
Now, you really have to know and understand my kids and me when it comes to tee shirts to understand then why it was paramount that I get our registrations in under that deadline. The tee shirts are a very important element in our wardrobe! And, I got our registrations finished and submitted, just under the wire for my girls, Carrie's fiance, my older grandson Alex and good old Grammy here to have matching shirts for our walk!
Then I sent out two big e-mails - not that the e-mail itself was that big in each case - just that I blind copied them to just about every single person in my address book. Plus, I posted about the walk on my blog too.
When I went to bed early Thursday morning, we had a total of $52.00 from four registrations for our team. Carrie had registered earlier so she isn't listed as being on our team and we haven't yet figured out how to get that adjusted so she will show up on Maya's Team.
As I said last night in my post, we had a really good day yesterday with our initial responses to the e-mails I sent out. And today - wow - just incredible!
As of right now, we have $252 recorded donations for Maya's Team, but more - much more coming! "Uncle" Robert now has $200 he has collected at his workplace and Maya's Aunt Kathy got over $50 in donations just this afternoon at the little local pub where she works and those have not yet been submitted to the fund raising headquarters to be added to our donation total. But needless to say, when they are sent in, it will put us over $500 in less than 48 hours!
It appears that the owners of the local pub will also "sponsor" our Team and the girl who runs the bar at the local club here is going to put up something there to receive donations for our team too. And, we are going to see about getting a social service/insurance organization through our church to back us and if that comes through, they will match any donations we get on our own, dollar for dollar! Wouldn't that just be fantastic though?
The best part though is that my son mentioned this to his boss, that if there were some way they could work things so they aren't on the road on that particular weekend and his boss said he will get things set in place for them to run earlier in the week and that way they will both have the weekend off. And that means then that Uncle Clate will be able to walk with us too!
Mandy called her Dad Wednesday night to tell him what we are doing and I told her to tell him he HAS to sponsor all three of us. He agreed to do that but hasn't given us a figure as yet. Wait till Mandy calls and tells him he will now have to sponsor all three of the kids - plus me! But hey - this is for his granddaughter who is HIS little Princess Maya too, as much as she is my little princess and he already regards her as "special." (Which she most certainly is!)
And now, since Mandy has work early in the morning and Grammy will have to be up and at least semi-functioning by 7 a.m., I'm heading off to bed now to try to get a reasonable amount of sleep.
But before that - here's my parting gesture of the day - the Bushism for Friday, March 23, 2007 followed by the Bushism for Saturday/Sunday (March 24/25). Enjoy.
"Home is important. It's important to have a home." - Crawford, Texas; February 18, 2001.
"I was a prisoner, too, but for bad reasons." - To Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, on being told that all but one of the Argentine delegates to a summit meeting were imprisoned during the military dictatorship; Monterrey, Mexico; January 13, 2004.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What Happened?

Boy, all kinds of things seem to be happening on the blogs that are a bit on the strange side to me.

First, Skittles blog just up and disappeared for a while and in its place was a bunch of information, page after page, about working at home schemes or some such. Very frustrating to me and I'm betting lots and lots of others who clicked in to read Skittles pieces and found that junk popping up there instead. But, I see tonight she's back - and things look to be ok there, so go give Skittles a visit, tell her "howdy" and that I sent you by to cheer her up.

Then, I just noticed about a hour ago or so that my post I made late last night, early this morning - telling everyone and their brother (hopefully) about the Cure Autism Walk that my daughters, grandson, future son-in-law and I are going to take part in on April 14th was missing something. The little thing at the bottom of the post for folks to leave comments wasn't there! Now how the heck did that happen?

I e-mailed Mau over at "It's About Time" to see if she could give me any information as to what caused that and how to correct it. She suggested that somehow the "comments" thing may have been turned off so I went to that post and checked it out and sure enough, it was turned off. So I made the changes there, republished that post and VOILA, Presto Magic, it was now showing the Comments section there the way it should have been doing all day. How the heck that got turned off is beyond me cause I didn't even know the thing was there to change that! See how observant I am, huh? Now, ya'll go check out Mau's blog there - "It's About Time" and tell her I sent you there as a thank you for coming to my rescue. Mau writes a really neat blog about lots of different things in a really interesting fashion plus she's a font of information too when you run into problems with blogs and html and nifty little things like that! Thanks again for the emergency help there!

Today was really an exciting day for my girls and for me though with this 3K walk we've signed up for with the proceeds to go to the Cure Autism organization. Not only did our team get four confirmed donations to our team on the website for Cure Autism but my future son-in-law is so excited, so hepped up about trying to do whatever he can for our little Princess Maya here that he went to work this morning and must have been telling everyone and their brother there about our Team and asking folks to donate because by 11 a.m. he had taken in $130 in donations for our team! Yay, Robert! Way to go! Princess Maya would thank you if she could so in her place, Grammy J says "Thanks a lot" and so does Princess Maya's Mommy!

Anyway, as you can tell and as the song goes, "I'm So Excited!"

I had to go over to Clearfield today to pick up my NEW GLASSES (so nice to be able to see and read clearly again. Wonder if it will help with typos though?) and I talked Mandy into getting the kids ready and going with me too. We needed to pick up a few minor incidentals anyway, of course. But I figured since the weather was decent enough at noonish (temperature wise, anyway) it would be a good day to take the kids out and also stop by the nursing home in Clearfield where my Aunt and cousin are now residents. It's been since just before Christmas since we'd been able to go over there with the kids to visit her. I really was worried that with her mind/memory often failing so much that she might have forgotten Princess Maya and the Junior Prince, Kurtis. But, at least my fears in that aspect were put to rest as she knew all four of us when we came in.

However, that was the only good part about our visit there today. Since the last time we had been there, they had moved my aunt and cousin to a different area - on the second floor - and that necessitated our walking through the dining room at the tail end of the lunch hour and taking an elevator up to the second floor. It's been a while since we've had to use an elevator with Miss Maya in tow and in the interim, she apparently had lapsed back into being afraid of elevators. One of her little quirky things you see. So, to get her on the elevator, we had to do a lot of handing off, switching things around so I ended up carrying Kurtis, his bottle, Mandy's purse, etc., while she picked Maya up and held her during the short elevator trip up one floor. But it left Maya upset and not in a mood to be social and nice - a lot of wailing and whining then in my aunt's room from her. That turmoil, added to my cousin's incessant pulling off the string to an alarm the staff keeps attached to the back of my aunt's clothes (alerts them to any possible problems with her -like a fall or some such) and that alarm was going off about every minute or two it seemed. I don't know how the staff there can work with that noise all the time!

So, because of all that, we didn't stay very long - just too upsetting for my aunt and for Maya too. However, before we left, Mandy did calm Maya down for a bit and got her to "sing" for Aunt Mike - "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." It was hard to hear her but I could see that Aunt Mike heard a couple of the words and recognized what Maya was trying to say and sing anyway as her eyes really lit up over that. Then too, before we left, Mandy also got Maya to go give Aunt Mike "noses" (Eskimo kisses - rubbing noses, you know) and after that, she even reached up and gave Aunt Mike a big for real kiss too! Little moments like that with a three-year-old interacting with her 90-year-old great-great- aunt are really worth the whole trip and the noise and turmoil, you know!

And now - with six minutes (according to my computer clock here) to go before Thursday turns into Friday, here's the Bushism for Thursday, March 22, 2007!

"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice." - Washington, D.C.; October 28, 2003.

Come Join "Maya's Team"

My older daughter, Carrie, has for the past ten years or better now often participated in walk-a-thons or even races for various organizations, helping to try to raise funds. Two of her favorite organizations that she has participated in walks or races for them are the Special Olympics and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. I've always admired her for taking that initiative and doing that.

And, over the years, she has often teased me to sign up sometime for a walk or to volunteer for the Special Olympics and in the beginning, when she got involved in these things, I couldn't because of my work. Then I got sick and couldn't do much of anything at home, much less trying to participate in things like that.

However, I have actually taken a big step - a very, very big one for me - and I will be joining both my daughters (Carrie and Mandy), my older grandson, Alexander, and Carrie's fiance, Robert on April 14th in State College, PA to participate in a 3K walk to benefit the Autism Cures Group. We are doing this as a family - a team - and our team's name is "Maya's Team."

This is being done by us because although my little princess, Miss Maya, has not yet been evaluated and therefore has not been diagnosed with Autsim, there are many markers present that right now lead us to believe she will eventually be diagnosed with Autism.

I'm posting this information here, now, and a request too for any of you, my readers, to please go to our Team's website, read the information there, see the photo we've posted too of Miss Maya (with her Princess dolls) and hopefully, many of you will see fit to sign on to donate to our team whatever you feel is within your financial range to this very worthy and necessary cause.

It will be two years this June since Maya's pediatrician referred Maya to a children's assistance agency here and their initial evaluation of her then was that she does have several developmental delays. Since then, Maya has had two therapists who come to our home once a week and work with her on improving her coordination, her behavior skills, her speech. And, the changes that have taken place in her from that therapy have been nothing less than OUTSTANDING! She still has many issues which, quite possibly are caused by Autism but we don't know that for sure as yet because we have not yet been able to find someone qualified to evaluate her and to get an appointment for that. But oh my, she has come such a long way and it is wonderful beyond description to see these little things taking place within her.

Though most of you reading my blog don't know me personally - a few of my readers do though - I will tell you that I am not exactly a big physical fitness enthusiast. Walking is something I will do occasionally in the spring, summer, fall but is completely out of the question during the cold, winter months for sure! And, to prove to everyone who knows me that I actually participated in this walk, my daughters both plan to bring cameras and take lots and lots of pictures of me - walking - to raise money to help cure Autism. I promise faithfully that I will post said photos on my blog after this is all said and done too!

So anyway - here's the website for our team!

(You might have to copy and paste this url into your browser to get it to work because of the length of it. )

On the page, go to the right hand side and look for the block that says "Team Rank" and scroll down till you come to "Maya's Team" - with my name there (Jennifer Ertmer) and you can click on there to going our team as a supporter!

I hope you will forward this to others you know too and help our team - Maya's Team - help us be one of the top teams present at the State College Cure Autism Walk on April 14, 2007!
Please! For my little Princess, Maya!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's Been Happening

Another busy day where I got nothing really accomplished at all! Nothing unusual about that for me though as it does seem that is how my life runs these days.

This morning, Maya's behavior therapist was here. She did very well with her this morning too. Identified all but maybe two or three cards on sight - animals, other objects, etc. One side of the card has the picture, the flip side shows it as the word and as she looked at each picture, identified it, she flipped them over herself and just seemed to be studying on the letters in each word then. After that, she did some coloring, tracing over letters with a crayon, like her name, etc. and she tries very hard to be as neat as is possible for her to manage too at her age. The therapist has remarked several times at how neatly she does try to color - to stay within the lines, etc. Mandy had to leave mid-way through that session and she was so content and occupied with the therapist that she willingly said good bye to her mother, even gave her a hug and a kiss without going into meltdown that Mandy was leaving.

During the afternoon, she was fairly well behaved for me too. Only a few things she was intent on getting into - like the ice cube tray someone had removed from the freezer and then left it sit on the counter by the sink so that the little bits of ice still in there melted - of course (go figure, huh) and she was having a field day wanting to go dip her fingers into that little bit of water, dripping it on the floor and patting it onto her hair and her bangs. Just enough to make a tiny mess - nothing outrageous or anything though.

This afternoon then, her speech therapist came. The neat thing with her two therapists is this - the one who is her behavior therapist is named Carrie and the speech therapist is named Mandy and my daughters names are Carrie and Mandy! It can get a bit confusing to those who don't know that as to who I am talking about if I only use the therapists names there - as you can see!

But shortly before the speech therapist came, Maya's half-brother, Shane, was here for the afternoon and he had his cd player with the headset with him. Just fooling around, he got Maya to sit beside him on the loveseat and put the headset on her. WOW! Wish you could have seen the look on her face - sheer astonishment and awe! She would leave the headset on a couple seconds, pull it off and look it over, put it back on and the smile on her face - soooo neat, sooo special to see! Pure enjoyment. She does love music and one of her favorite things is to watch the Country Music Video Network on our cable. And that is something that totally cracks Mandy (her mother) and me up because her Dad hates Country Music - he's into the loud, banging, clanging type of rock music but not Miss Maya. Nope, she's a Johnny Cash fan for openers!

On Sunday afternoon, when she was really wired for sound and being very rambunctious - a good sign usually that she is tired and in need of a little rest and with luck, a nap - her Dad was trying to get her to lay down a bit. She would but only for about a minute or two. So he finally told her he was going to lay down with her on the love seat. Of course, before they could "settle in" she had to have her binky, then her blanky (her special blanket) and finally, when she seemed to be willing to lay still and quiet down, she insisted she had to "Watch music" meaning flip the channel Dad to the Country Music videos. Which he did. And he then had to lay there with her as she fingered her blanket and watched the music videos till she conked out. Poor Bill was probably in agony at the idea he HAD to watch country videos!

And, back to this afternoon, after Mandy the speech therapist left, I finished getting supper ready which put me in the sleep mode about 15 minutes after we finished eating!

See what I mean about how I get nothing accomplished in a day.

Tomorrow, I will get out of the house for a short trip to Clearfield to pick up my new glasses. I'm trying to convince Mandy that she and the two little ones should go with me so we can take the kids and go visit my aunt and cousin at the nursing home there. It's not that often we both get out of the house together and with the kids at a time that would work to stop and see our aunt and she hasn't seen the two little ones now since December. If I go over there, I can't manage to take the two kids by myself so that's out as an option too for getting a way that she can see how much they've both grown, how much Maya has learned and how well she is talking and behaving now too! Plus, Maya has a new song now too - she can do "You are my sunshine!" and I know Aunt Mike would very much enjoy hearing her rendition of that as well!

And, as usual - before I close tonight, here it is for today - the Bushism.
"If you're a younger person, y ou ought to be asking members of Congress and the United States Senate and the president what you intend to do about it. If you see a train wreck coming, you ought to be saying, 'What are you going to do about it, Mr. Congressman, or Madam Congressman'" - Detroit, Michigan; February 8, 2005

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What's New?

Tonight - or rather this morning now - I'm starting off with the Bushism for the day. Not to ruin anyone's day by putting that there first, but rather to get it in and up and done with lest the senility factors set in and I forget about it. (I do have problems like that from time to time you know.)

March 20, 2007
"Listen, Al Gore is a very tough opponent. He is the incumbent. He represents the incumbency. And a challenger is somebody who generally comes from the pack and wins, if you're going to win. And that's where I'm coming from." - Detroit, Michigan; September 7, 2000.

Sometimes, I do wonder if DUBYA ever has a clear speaking plan when he pops off with some of these statements that, when reading them now, sound a little absurd to say the least. I'm thinking he must have flunked the basic speech courses in college anyway.

'Nuff said on my opinions of DUBYA's speaking prowess. Moving on to other things here now.

What's new? I'm going to be learning how to administer a website, that's what is new for me at the moment.

The website is one that is shown on my blog, under my favorite links about the ghost town of Peale, PA which is about two miles down the road (at most) from my home.

The man who put that website together is a professor at a college in northwestern Ohio and now, with his teaching, research and family - wife and two small children - he is pressed for time to try to keep the website up-to-date so I offered to take over some of that responsibility provided he teaches me how and what to do in order to maintain the site. I know nothing, absolutely NOTHING about tending to a website!

The current plan is also though for me to set up a companion blogsite to the Peale website and that, I think I can manage ok, provided some of my ideas about the blogsite idea go over ok with a few other people too along the way.

One thing I'd like to do with the blogsite is to post the articles I had written and which were published in a small local "monthly" newsletter here. These would be postings about not just Peale though but also about the township and the other little villages here. The blog would encompass then not just information solely about Peale but also about the township as a whole as well - history, other little stories of interest here and there.

A little explanation here about the ghost town though and how I came to get interested in it along with a few other little things.

I'm interested in the history of Peale because my great-grandparents and their children were some of the early settlers of the village back in 1884. Growing up, there was still one family still residing in Peale who moved out of there in 1957 or 1958 - not quite sure at the moment on the exact year. At that time, one could still see a lot of the remains of the old town and my grandfather as well as one of my uncles used to tell me stories that kept the town alive in my mind. I have you see, always been interested in history and especially any type of history that came down to me via my grandfather too.

When I first discovered the website - while surfing the net late one Saturday nite - I was really startled to find a website about a place that had no residents at that time for over 40 years. From reading an article on the website, I ascertained that the writer of that article was related to a family here and that I knew many of his relatives still in this area. I e-mailed him as well as the man who had put the website up to comment to them both on how much I had enjoyed reading all the data posted on the site. And from that, I have since established a long-standing friendship now with the author of the railroad article there as well as becoming acquainted by e-mails back and forth with Dr. Krygier, the owner of the site.

One point that I felt would make a companion blogsite to the Peale website a good idea is that it would make it easier for anyone visiting to submit comments, information, ideas etc. about the ghost town. And, by including the other villages in the township within the umbrella there, I could also do small pieces from the research I have been doing on the township for the past almost three years now. I had noticed from the sitemeter on my blog that a fairly goodly number of hits I was getting - visitors to my blog - were coming from people using the search words of "Peale, PA" and/or Cooper Township but I am assuming because there is no place on the website itself for folks to leave comments and I hadn't really posted anything pertinent to the website either in my blog, they just checked out the website and left leaving no traces then of their visit. And maybe, just maybe, those visitors may have had additional information they wanted to share or questions they wanted to ask but were unsure of trying to reach Dr. Krygier or Jeff Feldmeier, who wrote the excellent articles about the impact of the railroad on the old town of Peale.

I've no idea right now how long it may take me to set up this blog and get it moving or how soon I will actually be doing the administration of the website itself too - just that it's something that is coming as soon as possible and that will be my involvement in both aspects there.

So, if you happened into this blog post by way of searching information about Peale or the township (Cooper) or perhaps any of the little villages here - Drifting, Grassflat, Lanse, Winburne, Forest, Kylertown - feel free to leave a comment or contact me via my e-mail address in the contact area under my profile on this page.

I'd love nothing better than to hear from people who have roots back to this area and share a common interest with me about the history of the region. Or, if you are trying to do family tree research and your roots bring you back here, let me know and I'd be more than happy to try to help you any way possible with your research in that aspect too!

Any and all input in that respect would most definitely be very much appreciated. In the meantime, check out the website for now - if you've not already done so - and keep checking back for the new blog coming to cyberspace sometime in the very near future!

Monday, March 19, 2007

And For Today.......

The Bushism for today - Monday, March 19, 2007 is:

"I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." - Aboard Air Force One; June 4, 2003

Celebrations - a Little Late

This past week marked an anniversary for me. One that I really should pay a lot more attention to than I do although, in truth, I do recognize it every day but I don't mention it all that much.

It was four years ago this past week that I was initially diagnosed with cancer.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since that day when I had my first colonoscopy and afterward, the surgeon spoke to my daughter Mandy and to me - explaining what had been found.

I have often thought of that talk the surgeon gave me that day though. And, had I had a different doctor - the kind who just tells you well, this is what we found, this is what you can do, and then leaves the decisions all up to you - what choices would I have made?

In all honesty, if my doctor then had been that type, I probably would have said ok, I'll think about this and get back to you and then, would have walked out of the room and not returned. It's not that I had or have a "death wish" exactly, but decision making, especially of that magnitude, would have been a really mind-boggling thing for me, as I was also extremely depressed at the time, unemployed and seemed to be virtually "unemployable" too as I couldn't have gotten an interview it seemed then even if I could have bought one!

But my doctor at that time - one Dr. Timothy Phillips - formerly on staff at Clearfield Hospital in Clearfield, PA and now, practicing someplace up in Wisconsin - was very straight-forward with my daughter and I and put the cards on the table not in a way telling me I had a choice but rather that he had just planned out my life for the coming year and this is what I would do, when I would do this and that and other things and simply put, That was That, he was the boss, I was the patient and the listener and I would do as he said and I 'vould like it! No if's, and's or but's about it!

He told me in two days I would have go to the chemo clinic at the hospital and they would insert a "pic" line in a vein in my arm, after which a home health nurse would show up at my home and install the pic unit from which I would receive chemotherapy for the next 6-8 weeks, non-stop, 24/7! The following Monday, I would go to Altoona Hospital, see Dr. Jack Shocker there and they would set me up for radiation therapy - also for 6-8 weeks, five days a week - to try to shrink the size of the tumor to make it easier to remove during the surgery that I would then have in about three months.

And, after recuperation from the surgery, I would report back to the chemo clinic for roughly six to eight more months of follow-up chemotherapy.

There was no decision to be made as Dr. Phillips had made all them for me. He was very strong in his explanations of the entire process and never gave me a chance to voice a difference of opinion - just acceptance of the road map he had drawn up for me to follow.

And four years after the fact, you know I kind of like the fact that he did treat me in that manner!

There have been more than the initial surgery since the first one in June of 2003, the last one this past October which resulted in my having a colostomy. So no, his road wasn't necessarily the easiest one to travel.

But, in retrospect, there have been so many highlights to it that perhaps I would not have been around to see, much less to revel in them as I have been able to do even though at times, the road was really rocky and rough and difficult to appreciate those highlights to the best then but I've made up for that since then.

I've been able to be around, to enjoy, to cherish and love and learn to know two beautiful little babies I might never have known had Dr. Phillips not taken the stance he did with me. What joy, what absolute magnificent joy I would have missed had I not been able to see, hold, help to raise my little Princess Maya and the junior prince, my grandson, Kurtis. And my older grandson, the big prince, Alexander, is now nine years old, tall, strong, handsome as all get out and just the best thing ever too since sliced bread! The thought that I could have missed out on being around them for this time is just incomprehensible to me now.

So, this message then is one of thanks to Dr. Timothy Phillips, somewhere in Wisconsin, practicing his art of surgery somewhere up there for giving me for now, four of the best years ever of my life! And, if anyone reading this post has him for a surgeon, trust me when he says to trust him because he is one fantastic individual and yes indeed, an excellent surgeon!

And, there's another anniversary too I'd like to mention that took place on Saturday, St. Patrick's day.

Happy Anniversary to a couple who are very good friends of mine - who celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on St. Patrick's Day! I meant to call them on Saturday and wish them a happy day but didn't get around to it and I forgot to do that on Sunday too to give them a belated wish. So here it is now, two days later and I'm finally doing that!

If you see Durvin and Rose Little Wick - give them a hug and a hearty handshake and tell them you knew all along (like I felt I did way back when) that they would be the ones who would make it this many years! I grew up next-door to Rose and her family and Durv, I came to know through school and two better people you'd be hard put to find!

Hmmm - I'll have to make a note to be sure to include a special greeting for them at our high school class reunion coming up in June too!

Two pretty doggone good things to celebrate in my book - a 45th wedding anniversary and four extra years of life and enjoyment of family and friends!

I'll drink to that!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Butter Lovers

I know, I already did one post here today. But this is completely off topic from that one and something I just thought would give a little levity to everyone this morning.

I sure do hope people don't get upset or bored with my little stories of what my little princess - Miss Maya - has done cause I don't want to lose readers over that. But then, I risk getting conservative Republicans a bit peeved at times I suppose with posting the Bushisms of the day and I haven't stopped doing that. So guess what, here's a little story of something Miss Maya did yesterday, Thursday (March 15th).

Occasionally, I get the urge to bake bread. Sometimes I do this fairly frequently and then there may be a couple months that pass before I decide gee, some fresh homemade Swedish Limpa Rye bread sure would taste good and I drag out the ingredients and mix up a big batch that yields four nice loaves of this particular bread.

My kids don't mind at all when I get in that mood as they - like me - love fresh homemade bread. I am especially partial to cutting off a slice or two immediately after taking it out of the oven, slathering a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of butter on it and relishing the comfort that food brings me. And also, when I say "butter" here I am referring to the real thing - honest to goodness, for real BUTTER, not margarine of any type, regardless of how much a particular brand may be advertised to have that "real butter flavor."

When I bake bread and cut myself some slices of the warm freshly baked stuff, it would be sacrilege to eat it without real butter.

And today was no different.

The first two loaves out looked so inviting, smelled so good and I already had a stick of real butter on a little plate beside the cutting board - all ready for me to slap some of that yummy stuff on top of my slice of bread.

I also had supper cooking at the time -pork and sauerkraut - but because Miss Maya doesn't like that dish and refuses to eat it, I had warmed up a little plate of leftover spaghetti (which is pretty much a guaranteed item that she will eat) and given her supper earlier. The rest of us would have the pork and kraut and fresh bread for our dinner.

As I was slicing myself some bread, Maya came up beside me and informed me she too would like a piece of bread. No problem. I sliced a small piece for her, buttered it up and handed it to her. Since the bread was very warm - and the butter VERY cold - the heat from the bread melted the butter almost instantly so Maya had no butter there to take and slick of the bread with her finger as she tends to do with regular bread and butter when it's given to her.

But this was fine with her and in short order, she was back beside me asking for more bread. And I'm happy to oblige her with another piece. She watched me buttering it and kept repeating to me "bread and butter, bread and butter." Yes, baby, good homemade bread and butter. Gave her the second slice and she's happy. And before I know it, she's back asking for some more bread. Ok, since she'd already eaten her "supper" per se, but hadn't eaten every bit I'd given her, I figured what the heck. The bread can't hurt her so I give her the third slice.

I came into the living room to do something and she was bopping around from the living room to the kitchen and back - her normal - but then it got quiet all of a sudden and any parent will tell you that's generally a bad sign with a three-year-old. What is the child into now?

I glanced out to the kitchen and saw her at the counter where the bread - and butter - were sitting and I noticed she was on tip-toes, leaning forward into the counter. What the heck is she doing? I got up and as she heard me walking towards her, she moved and ran away. Leaving to my view the stick of butter with evidence that she had managed to get it close enough to her face and had bitten into the butter, right in the middle and gnawed away on it! Took out a nice little half-moon portion of the butter there she did!

And then, she re-appeared at my side, hand out to me asking "More bread and butter?"

So I cut a couple more slices of bread off, pared the butter off the stick from around where she had been nibbling like a little mouse and gave her yes, a fourth slice of homemade, warm, freshly baked Swedish limpa rye bread with her own private stash of butter on the darned piece too!

Just another instance of things that she does which prove that apple hasn't fallen far from the tree has it!

It reminded me of a time when I was about her age and as my grandmother was recovering from a slight stroke but my Mom was working, caring for an elderly patient about 12 miles from here, my Mom's cousin, Hedvig, would come up every evening and fix supper for my grandparents and me and stay with us till my Mom came home from work.

One evening, Hedvig had decided to bake and ice a nice layer cake and planned to have it ready as a little late night snack surprise for Mom when she got home from work. Since I had no absolute bedtime as a young child, I was still awake when Mom came in and Hedvig told her she had a little treat and for us to go to the kitchen to enjoy it over a cup of coffee.

When Hedvig turned the kitchen light on, there on the table sat her layer cake - but it was naked! Completely devoid of the nice chocolate frosting she'd made and put on the cake! The look on her face was one of complete shock as she stuttered and stammered telling Mom how she'd iced this cake and their eyes immediately looked over at me, knowing of course, I was the culprit who had so quietly snuck back to the kitchen, crawled up on the table and sat there, swishing my finger over the icing until I had eaten every last bit of the frosting off the top and sides of that cake! The only evidence that she had iced it was the frosting in between the layers, only because I couldn't figure out a way to get to that!

You know what they say about "Paybacks" don't 'cha? I guess I'm just getting my paybacks now for some of the things I did when I was a little kid too!

Counting Down

Ok - I'm getting the Bushism for Friday, March 16th out of the way first thing.
"[I'm] occasionally reading. I want you to know, in the second term. - Washington, D.C.; March 16, 2005

Yes, I am glad I got that posted - over and done with - because this particular Bushism, like so many others, is one that I have no earthly clue whatsoever as to what he was talking about there! 'Nuff said on that one!

I don't remember if I mentioned anything previously about this but my high school graduating class is have a class reunion this summer - our 45th, as a matter off fact. And I'll be there too with bells on because I totally enjoy these events!

Sometimes, it doesn't seem at all possible that it has been that many years since I left the "hallowed halls of Cooper High" but judging by the way the joints in my legs like to stiffen up on me, ache, sometimes even swell, you'd swear I've been on my feet constantly for all of those years so I guess it really is true that. Yep, 45 years!

At our last reunion, my friend, classmate, neighbor (and president of our graduating class) had asked me if at the opening of our 40th reunion would I kind of make some remarks, try to put everyone at ease, get them into the spirit of the reunion,etc. Serve as kind of an "emcee" you could say.

And I did that. But actually, all I did was pass the buck around the room. I started with the classmate at the first seat on the table to my immediate left and tossed out the ball, asking each person from our class to think back over the years and share some things he or she remembered best about our school days. And, I went completely around the room from one classmate to the next to the next.

Some of the group are still as quiet, shy and reticent as they were back in school - others are still just as gregarious - so there were a lot of good memories brought up by getting each one to participate at whatever level that person felt comfortable in sharing. And it was often really funny too listening to others mention things many of us had forgotten from 40 plus years before.

And this year, when my neighbor/friend/former classmate and former class president called me to say she had made an inquiry at a restaurant over in Clearfield about holding our reunion there and had several dates when the place would be available, we pretty much decided for everyone else then to go with the date of June 2nd for our reunion.

And Kate asked me if I would mind doing again at this reunion something like I'd done at the last one. And sure, no problem, I'd said.

And really, it is no problem except that I'm thinking since I used that format of going around the table at the last reunion, should I stick with it and do that again? Or maybe, go to each one present and ask for an update of what this or that person has done, achieved, etc., in these past five years since our last get-together?

I was thinking of maybe trying to get as many of my classmates as possible to help out and putting together some photo collages of as many of us as possible. My idea here would be to scrounge around and get old,old photos taken either when we were really small or in grade or high school and see who can identify this, that or another classmate from way back when. And then, also have another collage type thing of photos of us taken anytime between graduation until now. Finally, a third collage where folks who have children and grandchildren could share those glimpses into their lives too.

Kind of a this is our past, this is us up to the present and with the children/grandchildren display too, that would represent our future. We do still have a future you know, even though the bulk of our lives is now in our past! Or at least, that's how I see it - my grandchildren are my future as well as holding the potential of the future for themselves and society in the palm of their tiny hands.

I don't know if this idea is way too cumbersome, time consuming, difficult to pull off or not. I've mentioned the idea to a few of my classmates and no one has out and out said they hated the idea. Although a few did comment that it might be biting off more than I can chew. And that very well may be true too. I'm still mulling the whole idea over in my mind though to see if there is any potential to do something like that.

So I'll put the question on the table here to any of you - my readers - for suggestions as to something interesting I can do or say to provide a little bit of a light air to our gathering. Feel free to speak up, tell me what you did at your class reunions or things you heard of that others have done at theirs. I'd welcome any little bits of input anyone wants to provide here!

And, because I know I am going to probably be pretty busy for most of Saturday, don't know yet about Sunday though, I'm going to go ahead and get the Bushism for those two days posted at the end of this piece too!

"I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else, to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being play God." - Appearing on ABC's 20/20, Washington, D.C.; January 14, 2005.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do Something!

Bushism for Thursday, March 15, 2007
"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness." CNN online chat; August 30,2000

Now, there's some food for thought!

I have no clue what DUBYA was referring to in that comment but when I read it before posting it this morning, it gave me cause to think a lot, long and hard, about myself and brought me to the conclusion then that if that is the case, I am really an extremely trustworthy type person!

I'm always saying I'm going to do this, that or the other and all too frequently I quickly forget I planned to do those things too.

And, I have lots and lots of proof too of those good intentions sitting around my house.

My "good intentions" frequently come under the banner of things I think I will either knit or crochet or items I plan to sew. And, in preparation for any craft project along any of those lines, I have all kinds of yarns, stashed away in those big plastic toy box size containers just waiting for me to get the urge to pick up knitting needles and a pattern or a crochet hook and start working away. I think I have at least three of those big plastic bins pushed back in a corner in the basement at last count. (I also have a couple smaller containers of yarns shoved under my bed too, come to think of it.)

And fabric - do I have fabric? Oh my yes! I have three storage bins -at least - in the basement containing fabrics of many lengths, types, textures, another bin with nothing in it but vest panels ready to be cut out along with matching pieces and put together to make reversible vests. That bin is from about 8-9 years ago when I was on a kick making (and even selling) reversible vests.

Then, in my bedroom, I also have 3 more large bins filled to the brim of more fabric along with a stack almost 3 foot high of what else, but fabric that is earmarked to be made up into little things for the two younger grandchildren and an occasional larger piece of fleece fabric amongst the mix to be used to make sweatshirts for the older grandson.

Ah yes, Grammy J has grand visions of being the little old granny sitting contentedly at the old Singer just busy making pretty little things for the sweet grandkids to wear!

What Grammy J doesn't have is the energy some days to get busy and make these visions become a reality.

What Grammy J does have in abundance is the ability to procrastinate - profusely!!!

But, if DUBYA wants to call that trustworthiness, it's as good an excuse as any I'd ever be able to come up with to put a label on myself for my plans and my inactions too!

Whatever works - that's more or less my motto there in that respect!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Taking Advantage

Let's face it folks, I'm getting old. Used to be, I said I'm getting "older" but now, it's shortened to just getting old.

Fact is ya know, we all are doing that as long as we wake up tomorrow and say "Hey, hello! It's another grand day!" And, that's a good thing too, don't 'cha just know it. Why if you or I didn't wake up tomorrow, just where the heck do you think you'd be? Alright, let's not go there. Too scary or maybe just too philosophical a topic for discussion perhaps?

And, waking up vs. not waking up tomorrow and the hereafter isn't exactly what I'm hereafter in this piece either. So rest easy if your mind was going in that general direction.

Today, Mandy decided she had to go over to Clearfield, run some errands, pick up a few things, etc., and she took Maya with her. The little guy was up at the sitter's today for the afternoon and that left me to my own devices. I could do as I pleased and not have to worry about a three-year-old getting into anything and everything or making the living room floor look like a disaster zone. Oh shucks, she'd already done that within 15 minutes of being awake and running around here.

So what lovely thing did I do to "take advantage" of my so-called freedom for the afternoon?

I slept!

I couldn't relax last night to fall asleep and then when I did, the darned shingles decided that wasn't what THEY had in mind for me - and when those old shingles decide to resurface every now and again, let me tell you, there is no arguing with them. They win every doggone time!

So, since I hadn't slept very well, I really did feel the need for a nice little nap and that's what I tried to do but once again, the shingles decided to spring into action and kept waking me up. I'm starting to see a pattern here and it's one I don't like either. Add to that, it seemed about the time I would manage to fall asleep though, something else would interrupt my nap - like the darned telephone! Never fails ya know! And people wonder why I am a true believer in Murphy's old law.

Other "good" news - if you want to call it that - (ok, it's news) is that Kate, the 15-year-old, got caught skipping her science class the other day and as a result, she is getting an detention starting next week. Wonderful! That just means that someone here will have to make arrangements then to pick her up at school around 4:30 in the afternoon. Hopefully, this will be her dad, provided he remembers to fulfill that assignment. Sometimes, his memory is even worse than mine is!

The other news, also pertaining to Kate, is that she has been tardy for school and missed so much time -in the school's eye - that now, if she is absent again, or tardy, she will be assigned to a truant officer. The tardy issue, I have no disagreement with, but the absences - well, those were valid and she even had doctor's excuses for the last two of them. So what happened this morning? Kate didn't get up, missed her bus and Mandy had to take her up to school then two hours late! While there, she spoke to someone about the other issue with Kate - the science class grade and skipping that class in which she found out the school thinks Kate has skipped several of the science classes but because they had changed home room teachers on her somewhere along the line and that teacher apparently didn't fully understand the attendance taking methods, reports were incorrectly filed and they couldn't prove then she had skipped several science classes, but they just suspected it. Now it's a darned good thing Kate didn't realize that or she really would have been taking advantage of that error in the system!

Mandy and I made a trip today - after 5 p.m. - to the local grocery store where she works too because they were having a "midnight madness" sale today from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. - ok, apparently the store has a slightly different take on what constitutes "midnight madness" but I'm not complaining since they had some good prices on some things we could use. Make hay while the sun shines is the line that comes to mind for me.

And, also - with respect to the store and shopping there today, it's my day to take advantage of the thing I started out with to begin with in this post - getting old. Now that I'm a bonafide senior citizen, every Wednesday, I get a big 5% discount on all purchases at the store so, for waiting till their midnight madness sale today and with that discount applied then, I saved an additional $3.48 - according to my receipt for my purchases today! I know - don't spend it all in one place huh? But heck, it's better than nothing isn't it?

And now - the Bushism for today is:
"Those of us who spent time in the agricultural sector and in the heartland, we understand how unfair the death penalty is." - Omaha, Nebraska; February 28, 2001

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Of Bears and Such

Good Morning! I'm doing things a bit differently - time wise - today. Normally, my routine is to first, get my coffee (of course Priority #1 there) and then, sit down at the computer, clean out my e-mail inbox, read the morning newspaper from State College online and then, head over to read my favorite blogs which may or may not, depending on the topics there, give me some fodder to think over to post something to my blog that day. And, I sort of followed that order today - I've now had two cups of coffee, cleared my e-mail, read the paper and started to read my favorite blogs but I haven't completed that task as yet.

Some things happened that brought to mind some things my ex-husband used to say. Wordsmith that he was, he did have some interesting little adages he liked to banty about frequently. Things like "Slicker than snot on a doorknob" or "Hornier than a three-peckered billy goat" was another wonderful quote of his. But one he used frequently - still does too - is this: "Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you and sometimes you both go hungry."

It's the last one there that I'm going to discuss this morning in maybe a bit of a round-about method - an analogy of sorts.

I've been meaning for a couple of weeks now to call my friend, Nila, and get an appointment to get my hair cut and permed and today, since Mandy doesn't have work and I can come and go as I please, I decided to give her a call and see if she can work me in. I know right now she has a lot on her plate as her Dad's sister, who just turned 98 in December, is in the hospital right now, congestive heart failure (again) and Nila, being very close to that aunt, is on alert at the moment. But I took a chance, called and she said she could work me in at 12:30 this afternoon.

Great! I headed off to the bathroom to shower and get dressed. Figure the least I could do was show up there in clean clothes, clean body too, ya know. I stripped down, leaned over into the tub and turned the water on and boy, did I get a surprise.

We have one of those shower heads on a hose type set up which is supposed to be "anchored" to a little clip thing and hang down then over the middle of the tub. But apparently someone else in the house had taken it off that and left the shower head dangling at the side of the shower wall and it was aimed directly at me as I learned when I turned the water on and got hit, full force with a blast of cold water! Now the fact I was naked and had been planning on getting my whole body wet very shortly didn't do any harm to me other than a little unexpected chilly jolt to my system. But it sure as heck did make a nice wet mess on the bathroom floor and THAT didn't do a whole heck of a lot to keep me in a good mood at that point in time.

I don't know which one of the geniuses who share the house with me pulled that stunt but I'm sure it was either my daughter, Mandy, or her stepdaughter, Kate. My son-in-law NEVER takes the shower head and removes it from its anchor position so he is off the hook completely, as are Miss Maya and little Kurtis simply because neither of them is of a size and age where they can manipulate anything like that!

And that inspired this mini-rant today.

Which leads me to my second mini-rant of the day. This pertains to the 15-year-old in residence and her base attitude to several issues.

Currently, she is involved in the Drama Club at school and also, just went out for the girl's softball team - both of which carry a requirement that she be getting passing grades in ALL subjects. That's a school rule - not just one initiated by her Dad and my daughter. But somehow she conveniently forgets about grades being a very important part of the school's curriculum. Actually, how to get semi-decent grades seems to elude her because each fall when school resumes, the kids are given these things, called textbooks, which the rest of us (called taxpayers) pay for and expect that they will at some point in time over the school year, the student will actually OPEN the book, read and study just a little bit anyway.

Not so with this kid! Try as I may, I have yet to convince her that those books are given out for a reason -like to be read! The only textbook that ever comes home is her Algebra book and judging by her grades in that class, she does the bare minimum amount of perusing that puppy too. But the class currently at issue right now is General Science and that textbook, she freely admits, she has never opened, never read a thing in it! Why then does she think the school and teacher believe it is a necessity? She just shrugs her shoulders and says "Well, the teacher never tells us to read anything there." Say what? Give me a break! I doubt very seriously the teacher doesn't give any assignment to read even a page here and there and most likely, the kids are supposed to be following along in each chapter as they cover various aspects of science in class.

Now, a phone call yesterday and another this morning from her science teacher to my daughter about the kid's grades kind of proves my point here I think. Seems Miss Kate is failing science now - there's a big surprise, huh? And I'm thinking too had she just done a little tiny bit of work (another word relatively foreign to her vocabulary) and read just a little bit here and there, studied just a tad too, she would or could be the one who today would be "eating the bear."

But instead, that big old bear is gonna land full force on her tonight when she gets home and it is going to eat her alive I fear. She's running a big, big risk of getting booted out of the Drama Club and out of this year's production of "West Side Story" in which she has a fairly lengthy role too. Plus, she's going to get bounced off the softball team and finally, if the grade doesn't come up to passing -if she doesn't start doing some "WORK" in class, she's also going to lose out and not be allowed to go on the school's class trip to Hershey Park in June nor is the spring fling dance going to be an option for her either. That bear can be mighty, mighty hungry!

All this on top of the major lecture and fight last night about some of her other actions - like persisting in wearing my daughter's good sneakers to school although she has been told repeatedly that she is not to be "borrowing" those items or other clothing items either for that matter that belong to my daughter. I can't for the life of me understand why she insists on wearing my daughters shoes considering the fact they are a full size and a half SMALLER than the size She wears! To me, that is making both her and my daughter go hungry in the bear anaology thing here, isn't it?

And as my friend Sandy points out with her word for today on her blog, a little deference there would really go a long, long way!

But then too, I have to think back to when Mandy was in junior and senior high school and we had a constant battle, month after month, year in and year out about her use of the telephone. Not that I was banning her from using the phone, just trying to get her to stop making long distance phone calls on it and then, thinking by hiding the phone bill when it arrived, it would just make it all go away. One month, when she was about 13-14, she had over $90 in toll calls on that puppy and needless to say, coughing up that unexpected $90 to cover those calls was no easy task for me to do. And even today, she still seems to have a penchant for running up toll calls on the phone bill so I guess I never got my message across to her there and why then should I expect another 15-year-old to see logic in reading textbooks, studying, not wearing her stepmother's shoes, etc.

Yep -my ex-husband was right after all wasn't he. Sometimes you DO eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you and sometimes you both go hungry.

And now - the bushism for the day:
"I don't have to accept their tenants. I was trying to convince those college students to accept my tenants. And I reject any labeling me because I happened to go to the university." - On NBC'S Today show; February 23, 2000.

Seems to me DUBYA has some issues too with the bear and who is eating who and who is going hungry.