Saturday, June 30, 2007


Last night, things were really quiet here, and I decided to do something I haven't done for quite a while now. I went surfing! Not just regular surfing, but blog surfing. And not the blog surfing where you click the next button either. No sirreee! I decided I was going to try to click into the favorite blogs of some of my favorite bloggers.
This would have been fine and dandy except for one small thing. If you look at my list of favorites, the first blogger on my list belongs to a sweet lady out in Phoenix, Arizona - Debo Blue. I love reading her blog as she always has some nice things to say, lots of common sense things, humor, nifty photos too and a quiet humor that I really appreciate.
I clicked into almost all the blogs she has listed under her favorites, checked them out a bit by reading several posts and all was going swimmingly until ... I hit one called "Behind The Counter" and I really did get LOST there! Totally lost as a matter of fact for the rest of last night until about 3 in the morning. Then when I got up today, the first thing I did was to pick up reading where I left off last night. Every chance I had today, I was glued to the screen on the computer here, reading yet another post , and another and another. You get the picture. So far, I think I have read every post this blogger has made since October of 2006 until today and if I weren't about to go blind or cross-eyed soon, I'd still be glued to reading her writing right now too!
The writer of this blog is a customer support associate at a Wal-Mart in southern Florida and in her blog she writes of things that happened to her in her job behind that counter. If you've never worked in any type of a "customer service" position, it will definitely open your eyes. Hell, even if you've worked many different types of customer service jobs in your lifetime, it will still give you a big eye-opener as to the way the general public often treats people doing this type of work. It also shows how so many elements of society often try to take advantage of companies or the scams, games, thefts that people often try to perpetrate on companies too.
I've worked in customer service positions in the past - my most recent was back in 2002 when I worked part-time as a sales associate for a large store in Camp Hill, PA in the women's clothing department. And yes, sometimes we had to deal with people trying to scam or cheat the company or shoplifters and such, but not to the extent the CSA's at Wal-Mart have to cope with these things. Thankfully! If I'd had to deal with what she puts up with, I definitely would never have lasted the whole summer I worked at the store that employed me, that much I can say for sure!
But it brought back to my mind a lot of memories about other "customer service" work I've had over the years too. I worked for roughly 8-9 years as a waitress in two different truckstop restaurants and as assistant restaurant manager too in yet another truckstop restaurant near my home. And the things people will do in restaurants that I thought were obnoxious and rude (which often brought out the truly obnoxious and rude side of me too - not always a good thing when you are relying on those tips ya know) -well, bad as they were at times, they don't really hold a candle to what shoppers and scammers and thieves often try to do at many Wal-marts across the country but especially at the one where this blogger is employed.
On several occasions during my tenure in the food service industry, I wrote letters to either "Dear Abby" or "Ann Landers" to state issues waiters/waitresses often had to deal with on the job. I never had enough nerve to actually put those letters in the mail though and send them for fear that someone might realize I was writing and complaining about their actions and they'd turn around and go complain to my boss - who was not overly fond of me - and well, I really did need the work to feed, clothe, keep a roof over my kids and my heads during that time.
Today, as I think back on those days of running my fanny off just to barely make enough to scrape by - forget about vacations, any type of luxury, etc., - I don't remember all that many specifics now of events that really ticked me off. But there were a few here and there that do stand out in my mind.
I remember while working as the assistant manager, one Saturday in June in particular, when I came into work, found out I was going to be short-staffed and couldn't find anyone who would or could come in to cover so I had to run between trying to help out in the kitchen and being out on the floor actually working a section of the dining room. And during this, don't you just know, we got hit with a busload of tourists!
In most any restaurant, milkshake orders or the announcement that a busload of people just pulled in when you are super busy to begin with, both tend to create lots of panic with the help.
I got the folks who sat in my section set-up, orders turned into the kitchen, trying to get their side stuff out to them and who appears at the doorway to the waitress workway but the assistant manager of the fuel side of the truckstop in need of change. So I had to drop my waitress "hat" and run back to the main office, open the safe to get him change, only to learn we were short on change! We needed packs of one's desperately. But by that time of day, of course the bank was already closed so that was not an option.
I had to then try to call other establishments around to see if I could "buy" some change from them -and then, of course, it was up to me to also leave the facility, drive over to where ever I could locate a place that had enough change to sell some to me as well and this meant leaving the dining room floor, asking the other waitresses to please see to my customer's food order, etc. A great way to impress customers into returning when their waitress has to disappear completely from the building then for roughly 45 minutes time, isn' t it?
What caused this issue to begin with is that the general manager -who had been in there early that Saturday morning had not bothered to go to the bank and get an adequate supply of change to cover the fuel side and the restaurant side for the weekend. The asst. manager at the fuel side was alone and no way could he leave his post so that left me to do the running.
What really irked me about this whole situation was, after the fact, and because there were numerous complaints turned in by the bus people about the service, I ended up getting written up and was given a week off without pay because I hadn't seen to it that there was adequate change in the safe -even though I was not scheduled to come into work that day until about two hours after the banks had closed and it had been the general manager's responsibility to see to the change issues for the weekend. Talk about passing the buck, huh?
Another time, a family of six had piled into a booth barely large enough to accommodate four in the non-smoking area, in the very last booth in that section which just happened to be right beside the disabled ramp door -so that door was often being opened and shut. That, along with the fact the air conditioner wasn't working up to snuff either - par for the course - so the girls often would prop that door open a bit just to keep a little tiny bit of air moving through that section.
Now, what happens when you have a door open -and food around too?
You attract flys and other bugs, right? You also can't go around swatting these things, nor can you spray anything, or try to politely show the creatures the way out by which they entered in either so you're stuck with the little demons.
And don't you just know it but about five minutes after the waitress had served this family of six their meals, some little bug of some type, landed on the top of their booth and decided to walk across it, thus freaking every member of that family out. (I have to add here the family was from New Jersey and the mother had an extremely shrill voice, very, very thick "Joisey" accent too - also loud and she immediately began to scream for the manager (me) that there was a cockroach walking on the top of their tabletop.
She threw one royal fit at me about this situation and I immediately took their bill, voided the entire meal - although said bug never had landed on anyone's plates or anything and she still screamed at me the entire time I was doing this, as she was herding up her lovely children and husband and as they stomped through the non-smoking and the smoking sections of the dining room.
I still don't know what more she expected me to do for them! Considering I had offered to get them other meals - no, didn't want that -and when I took the check and voided it completely, she was still angry at me because of one stupid little insect's ill-timed walk.
I've had customers come in the dining rooms with children from little toddlers to kids old enough to be disciplined, who should be the ages of 6-10 years know enough, have adequate manners to realize you shouldn't be running, playing games of tag or hide 'n' seek etc., while waitresses are trying to manuever around carrying big trays of hot foods or pots of coffee. Had any of these little so-and-so's ever tripped a waitress and been burned by the hot coffee or food, you do know of course, the parents would have been on the horn before they got out of the establishment to their attorney drawing up a lawsuit, don't you?
I've had families come in too and allow their children to take food and throw it on the floor and never move a single muscle to try to clean one speck of this mess up before they leave too. I've even had a co-worker - a fellow waitress - bring her husband and three small children into the place were we worked and allowed their children to make one really nasty big mess all over the floor around their table too and get up and walk away from it and leave that for their own co-workers to have to contend with as well. There's compassion for your co-workers isn't it?
I've cleaned up just about any kind of mess you can think of left behind by restaurant customers - kids' vomit; adults too. Little kids often have other issues too -one reason ya know why they generally wear diapers - and had to clean that up as well - and even have had to clean that same commodity up too after adults who, when that happened, generally it was because they were too darned drunk to have a clue what they'd just done too! (Yeah, I worked the midnight shift as a waitress for several years and there is nothing like a full moon to bring out the worst drinkers in the whole world who HAVE to go have breakfast after having been drinking the whole night -probably even the better part of the day light hours away too.)
For the most part, when I waitressed at the one truckstop, I usually got along relatively well with most of the truckers though. I used to grump a lot to them and my favorite line was that I hated to wait on women - usually they tend to be cheap tippers; I disliked waiting on families, especially those who complimented me profusely on the food, the service, etc., because I learned the more they complimented added up almost always to a much lower tip -if there was one at all. I didn't like to wait on teenagers or college kids either -as they tended not to have enough money left over to tip. And I made no bones about the fact I HATED, absolutely LOATHED, ABHORRED and DESPISED waiting on drunks!
Now the truckers who know me used to question me about the latter aspect there because they also knew I liked as much as the next one to have a drink or two - or five, whatever! I always told them drunks just never impressed me and when they would point out my liking to toss a few back and hadn't I ever done anything to get more than a little toasted I would tell them "Yes, and sometimes I don't necessarily impress myself either!"
[ There were many, many times though when I waitressed that much as I hated going into work, I also hated NOT to be there too simply because some of the truckers I met -no, not some, most of them - were such great people, even really good friends, that I wanted to be there for my shift simply to see this or that driver if he came in that day and be able to talk to the guys, joke with them, play lots and lots of practical jokes on each other too much of the time.
I almost always had a bunch of jokes that I'd heard and memorized to share with these gusy and they used to tell me all kinds of funny stories of things that happened to them or to other drivers on the road too. Rarely was there ever a dull moment while I worked at that place!
Sometimes now, I will have dreams that I am back at that particular restaurant, waitressing. The customers will often be the same folks I waited on back then -some who could be pretty demanding too at times - but it would be me, as I am today, trying to run around and keep track of orders, keeping coffee cups refilled, serving meals and such at the pace I used to move at twenty some years ago but with knees and ankles often very swollen and stiff as they tend to be now, with a back that doesn't like to allow legs to move much beyond a snail's pace and customers getting really, really ticked at me because I definitely can't be everything to everyone all at once now. Not that I could then but I had a better chance at trying and surviving doing that back then.
And when I worked in food service, frequently, just as the writer of this blog does now, I ranted and raved and bitched and complained about the customers, about management, oh yes, did I ever complain about management, but in honestly, I never really hated the waitressing end of food service. I can't honestly say the same about working as quasi-management though as I really did HATE that job! Mainly though that was because of the lunacy that persisted thanks so very much to the upper level of management above me!
Food service is hard, sometimes very, very hard physical work! Don't believe me, you try it sometime and you'll see what I mean. It is also difficult work mentally too because you have to be very good at "multi-tasking." You have to keep track of each of the tables in your particular section - people coming in, leaving; set up new customers, take their orders, prepare certain segments of their orders yourself at times; make sure to keep tabs on how soon this table or that table's order is due to come out; check back if they have everything they need/want, keep the drinks flowing properly, check for dessert orders, hand out bills and all the while trying to bus tables as you go so when the people actually do leave, you have things down to only having maybe a water glass and a coffee cup and saucer and teaspoon left to clear off the table before clearing it off and resetting it for the next group.
Which reminds me too of something else I always did hate about restaurant customers in an establishment where people "seat themselves" - why is it if you have ten tables all cleared off and reset and one table that has been slow to finish and you don't have it bussed off yet, if a someone comes in, guess which table they will automatically head to? If you picked the dirty table, you win the big prize - a free cup of coffee on me - provided you can find me to get it for you now! What is it about a dirty table that is soooo darned enticing when there can be at least one or two - maybe a lot more clean and reset tables right beside it but people just gravitate to the dirty one and then, get mad at the waitress because they can't get their coffee and ice water immediately! I never could figure the logic out on that one!
Now, go over - if you haven't already discovered this blog and check it out but, if you are like me, be prepared to quickly become addicted to reading her words and wanting to keep reading more and more and more of the things that happen to her in the store where she puts her time in!
Just make sure you come up for air, food, a beverage, etc., and don't get so engrossed that you get lost like I did! I'd be going back there right now if I could still see without my eyes going crossed on me tonight from having spent so many hours last night and today glued to reading that blog on my computer screen.

And now - in anticipation of the lovely weekend - which I do wish each and everyone of you has - a lovely one that is - here's this weekend's Bushism supply.
Saturday and Sunday - June 30 and July 1st, 2007
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." - Tucson, Arizona; November 28, 2005.

Now there's a really brilliant deduction, don't 'cha think?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Thoughts

Ok, this is my own version (maybe) of the "Thursday Thirteen" but I figured I'd title this "Thursday Thoughts" since I might not actually have Thirteen things of interest to post about!

1. My cousin, Tom Hill's wife, Karen, continues to make good progress since her heart transplant surgery this past Monday. Thanks so much again for the prayers and thoughts, well wishes people have been having for her and her family.

2. I'm baking Swedish Limpa Rye bread as I type this today. I had planned to bake it on Monday but had been dealing all weekend with a pain in my left shoulder blade that was really preventing me from doing much of any type of movement and I knew there was no way I could possibly have been able to do all the kneading necessary to get a good batch of bread mixed up, rising and baked! But today, feeling pretty chipper in that respect and very hungry for some good hot, fresh-out-of-the oven rye bread slathered with loads of REAL butter so that's why I'm baking this today.

3. I watched maybe 2-3 minutes last night of the Larry King-Paris Hilton so-called interview. Disgusting! That was no interview at all, just pablum! Check out this blog to read some good discourse on that interview and tell me JB here isn't totally on target with his thoughts about that so-called interview! This blog is one of my big favorites to read as Mr. Burnett writes a really concise blog about lots and lots of things important in society today.

4. My kids, especially my son and younger daughter, from the time they were really small have always had a "thing" about the sounds various things make when they are almost empty - like a ketchup bottle or mustard or the dish detergent, etc. Any noise that even remotely resembles that of flatulence and they have always seemed to be quite fascinated with it. It's a trait I believe they inherited from their father -who also loved to do things like pulling bed covers over others' heads too -tightly, no less - so you got the full exposure that way! But I digress a bit there. Yesterday, as Mandy was fixing Princess Maya a cup of choc-a-lit (her pronunciation there) milk, and squeezing the chocolate syrup bottle, it was near to empty and gave out this loud, "Pfffft" sound. Maya immediately looked up at her mother and said "EWWWW! Fart!" Just thought it rather amusing there - history repeating itself maybe?

5 And, speaking of Miss Maya -again (or still) -this is for my good friend Sharon, over in State College. You probably weren't aware that Maya knows your name and can identify you by your photo (the one with the Nittany Lion at the Autism Walk this spring) which is among the pictures that blink in and out on my screensaver here. But yes indeed, Maya knows when she sees your picture and she points to it and and says "Sharon? Sharon?" She also includes you in her evening prayers too - when she gets to the "God Blesses" Mandy says she always includes "Sharon!" I thought that was pretty cool considering she's only ever met my friend Sharon one time when she came to the house about 5-6 weeks ago to give me an assist with pictures for the photo display for our class reunion!

6. I sent out a questionnaire last week to everyone on my e-mail address book who is a part of my Mom's side of my family tree and who should/will be getting a reminder sometime in the near future about our upcoming reunion the end of July. I'm very concerned about how much longer this reunion will last because attendance has been dropping - like flies -for the past 3-5 years. The past two years I think we only had about 23-25 in attendance; three years ago, maybe we topped out at 28-30 or so, but it is very small at any rate. Those of us who are faithful, regular attendees at that reunion have discussed this at every reunion for the past so many years trying to figure out a way to get our attendance to grow instead of diminishing, as it has been doing. In my questionnaire, I requested everyone to reply so that I would then know the e-mail address I have on record is still working and also, to provide me with their current mailing address too - snail mail that is. Then, I went a step further and explained the dilemma our family reunion is in and would they please answer the questions I posted below -trying to get people's opinions on how to keep the reunion alive, how to improve it, etc.

To date, only six of the probably 30-35 cousins who received that e-mail have responded with their snail mail address and of those six, only two took the time to try to give any suggestions on what they think could/should be done to keep the reunion going.

I find that response really sad, you know. Apparently very few of my cousins have much interest or faith in keeping this event running. It's been an annual tradition for 57 years thus far; this year would be our 58th reunion, and I really, really, REALLY hate the thought of it going down the tubes forever ya know! And, especially after having been to the reunion on my Dad's side last weekend and seeing well over 100 people there, all having a really great time, just makes me even more depressed then I suppose. I'm happy that my Dad's family gets that type of response to their reunion and just sad that my Mom's family seems prone now to forgetting where we all came from - those ancestral roots, ya know. Maybe I'm one of only a select few now who still thinks they are important to know.

7. Something my daughter and I have noticed of late in our local daily newspaper that really annoys both of us is that the paper and at least one of their staff writers is putting small pieces and photos in the paper about the township where we live and they are stating in the paper that this area is in "Centre County." That is an error! The township where we live is most certainly a part of Clearfield County - those folks -editors and reporters alike - need to check a map of the county and see which townships fall in Clearfield and which in Centre County!

A continuance of that annoyance is that last night I received an e-mail from my good friend up in Michigan - Jeff - who, though he was born and raised there knows as much if not more than many folks who have been born and raised here about the history of our county, of this township too. In his note, he asked about what "hamlet" the newspaper was referring to in recent reports of our Township Supervisors Meetings - called "Lance" because he'd never heard of another village around here with that name. Well, that's because there is no other village here with a name like that -save the village of "Lanse, PA" that is! This one particular reporter has a habit of not just placing our township in the adjacent county but also of not knowing how to spell correctly the names of some of the little villages in our fair township either. It is LANSE, not Lance - make the corrections NOW, please! Yeah right! I'm sure they'll respond right away to MY blog post now won't they! I suggested to Jeff that he write a "letter to the editor" and question them on this spelling confusion thing, which he did. Now, it will be interesting to see if they correct themselves in the future, won't it.

In my opinion, it just proves it to me more than ever that our local newspaper doesn't like to acknowledge that those of us who live in the "Down River" region from Clearfield exist unless, that is, they want us to subscribe to their lovely little newspaper that rarely reports any newsworthy events from this neck of the woods! I'll not go out on a limb here and name the paper outright but just wish they would make some PROGRESS in the accuracy department, as well as the reporting of happenings around the entire county area too!

9. On some side notes here, someone on my blog favorite list is celebrating her 22nd wedding anniversary tomorrow. Stop by here and wish Shelby another 22 years and more! Or go check out Smalltown Rn's blog about a difficult case she has to deal with in her work. She also posts some really gorgeous photos on her blog of British Columbia and the island she calls home too.

If you're looking for something to read that almost always provides at least a little chuckle, sometimes a big hearty laugh, check out this blog here or maybe this one, here.

But, if you want to read something that will really touch you to the very bottom of your heart, check this blog out that I bookmarked last night after my buddy, Skittles, pointed me in the direction of Rants from Sunnybrook. I haven't yet added Rebecca to my "favorites" list but I plan to do that in the near future. If you've never visited her place, do so - she's a member of a very important group in this country that you will wish, especially after reading her blog, that there was no need for such a group as this to exist, but sadly, there is just such a necessity.

10. Ok, my bread is now all baked, my chicken (bbq) is ready to go into the oven now so I can have supper ready when Mandy and the 15-year-old get home from a visit to the foot doctor and I've pretty well covered most everything on my mind at this point in time. Well, everything that is, except for the MEME I got tagged with the other day by my blogger buddy, Linda! The MEME she hit me with wants virtually your total biography and then some! I have copied it over to a text file so I can look it over some more, study it closely that way and maybe I'll be able to post in without causing my pea brain to totally explode from overusage!

So, having said all that - here then is tomorrow's Bushism for the day, while I'm still writing here.

Friday, June 29, 2007
"I must confess. It did confuse some of the folks at the Crawford, Texas, coffee shop when I was traveling around the country with Theodore Kennedy." - Chicago, Illinois, May 13, 2002

Yep -if you referred to him as "Theodore" I'll just bet it confused a whole lot of people then! LOL


Before I start into my "real" post topic for tonight, I'd just like to give another little update here about my cousin's wife - the heart transplant patient -ventilator tube removed; Karen - talking, looking good, feeling pretty good; taking sips of liquids; voice strong, color good, vital signs -blood pressure, etc., just where they need to be. She's still having pain but it is being well-controlled and was supposed to be getting out of bed today!

Isn't it absolutely incredible though that medical technology and surgeons are able to perform such a remarkable operation? I know this has been happening for a good many years now but I've never ever know anyone, even remotely, before who had a heart transplant, have you?

One of my blogging friends - Mouseski at "Are We There Yet" reminded me too of something else involved in this type of surgery -and that was to send up a prayer for the soul of the person who donated this tremendous gift of life and to that person's family as well. Usually, when one makes the comment "Your loss is my gain" it is not often said in a good manner, if you know what I mean. But in a circumstance like this, a family has endured a tremendous loss in order for another family to have such a gain - there just aren't words that are really adequate in an instance like this. Memories are all the donor's family now has and memories are what Karen and Tom and their children and all the rest of our extended family now have available to be made in exchange for this gift of life. God Bless!

I had a little scare here today -well, any scare involving my computer, which means messing around with my addiction you know, is nothing to be sneezed at. And this morning, while I was in the bathroom getting dressed to leave for a doctor's appointment, the power went off, but came right back on. I really didn't think much of it. There was no storm coming in - not at that time anyway - weather was very sunny, bright, hot - very hot already at that hour of the morning.

I came out of the bathroom and as I came past the computer, I noticed the on/off button - which has a blue light behind it - was on, but the monitor was totally black, nothing happening, no screensaver, no nothing! I touched the mouse and still nothing happened. Normally, if the power goes off, the computer is shut down, when power is restored, the computer doesn't usually come back on automatically. But yet, the button was lit up, indicating the power to the computer was on. Hmmm. I turned the computer off, then back on, thinking maybe it would "reset" itself, but it didn't. But, at that time, I had to leave for my Doctor's appointment so when I returned, I figured I'd call the computer shop then about this situation.

So, when I got back home, that's what I did. The shop owner/technician was alone, no one there to leave to run the show if he came out so he said he would try to track someone down to see if someone could stop by the house since he knew right then I had no means to bring the computer in myself - not unless I wanted to try to lug the computer as well as a 3 1/2 year old and a 14-month old along for the ride. No, that didn't paint a pretty picture in my mind and probably an equally unattractive thought in Dave's mind too!

But, when Mandy got home from work later in the afternoon, I phoned Dave again and asked him if he had any idea how long it would take for him to check the computer out and fix it if there was a true problem with the power supply -which is what he was suspecting at that time - and he said if I could get it in to him by 4 p.m., he could have it fixed and me on my way back home in time for Mandy to leave to go to work for the second part of her shift today.

So, away I went - computer nicely fitted between the back and middle seats of the van, on the floor. Got it into the shop and Dave hurried to take it from me and carried my baby very lovingly back to the shop. About ten seconds later he was back out front asking if I would believe him if he told me he had it all fixed already. I laughed and told him I'd really like it if that were the case and he took me in the back to the shop and showed me everything up on the screen, just the way it is supposed to be and the machine operating just the way it's supposed to do too!

The problem? He said in machines like this one and most others today, if a computer gets a little zap or kind of "stunned" by a power buzz, normally, if you turn it off and turn it back on, it will reset itself. But, if that doesn't happen, then to unplug it in the back and replug it in and see if that works, which according to him, that then is usually enough to fix the issue. He asked me if I had unplugged it in the back - which I hadn't done - until of course, I disconnected everything to take it to the computer emergency room that is.

So, anyway - the checkup with the computer doctor was very swift with good results just as my checkup this morning with the radiologist - my annual visit to him since having radiology treatments four years ago -was also short, sweet and very good results!

I was back home in a flash - even had time to stop for an adjustment with the chiropractor and a quick visit at the grocery store to pick up something for supper too.

All's well that ends well but I sure was scared that the darned "blip" from the power thing might really put a big damper on my day today as well as my checking account!

And now - the Bushism for Thursday, June 28, 2007
"I know how hard it is for your to put food on your family." - Nashua, New Hampshire; January 27, 2000

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Thank you to those of you who have added my cousin' s wife to your prayers. I very much appreciated your gestures there but probably not nearly as much as do my cousin and his wife, Karen, at this point in time - since they were the recipients of the prayers, not me.

And I want to give you all an update too on how things are going now, two days since Karen's surgery.

She was taken at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon to the operating room and the transplant (heart, if you didn't read my previous post) began. By 10:30 p.m., Karen was in the recovery room and family was able to see her then. Tom left the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to return home after what had to have been a really, really long day -a very eventful one too, indeed.

All went well yesterday and so far this morning. Today, it is anticipated they will get Karen up too. Hard to believe isn't it that one would even be able to get up at all less than 48 hours after having been given a new heart, isn't it? But that's how medical care is today. "Up and at 'em" is the philosophy and apparently it works best using that method.

Now I doubt she will be up and romping around the hospital room but going from having been down to only having 10% usage in her heart on Sunday to now, having a heart that is fully functioning, body responding so well to the surgery and all - well, it is enough to really make one's heart sing, isn't it?

Actually - it makes a whole lot of hearts sing to be able to write something like this, something so positive, so wonderful, to have someone' s very life restored. From her husband, children, mother-in-law, so many relatives who are so grateful to know the positive effects of prayer moving along with the wonderful work through doctors, nurses and seeing the benefits all of medical science is now able to do - it really is quite overwhelming.

Thank you all for keeping Karen in your hearts, in your prayers and keeping her and her family there too for a complete recovery.

It really is an awesome occasion!

And I think maybe I can even start to pick up where I left off too now with the Bushisms. A little humor never hurts anything, does it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
"The folks who conducted to act on our country on September 11 made a big mistake. They underestimated America. They underestimated our resolve, our determination, our love for freedom. They misunderestimated the fact that we love a neighbor in need. They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too." - Langley, Virginia; September 26, 2001

for Wednesday, June 27, 2007
"For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times." - Tokyo, Japan; February 18, 2002

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Boy, after coming off such a great weekend with my Dad's family reunion - so much fun, just tremendous camaraderie there - plus yesterday, talking with all three of my kids some more about the size of that reunion in comparison to my Mom's family reunion which will be the last weekend in July -120 some or more as compared to 25, 30 if we are really lucky and hit a "family attendance" jackpot, I knew today would hold a bit of a let-down for me after all the fun and games and stuff had finally begun to wear off from me.

However, I wasn't prepared at all for the e-mail I received Monday morning from my cousin, Bev - one of the organizers of the reunion just past.

On Saturday, the organizers had a great big get well card for everyone to sign which they planned to give to cousin Tom Hill's wife Karen - our way of trying to wish her all the best when the time would come and she would get a call to report to the hospital in preparation for a really big surgery she needs.

That surgery - a Heart Transplant!

Just last week - two, maybe three days prior to the reunion, Karen received a "beeper" which meant she had been elevated on the transplant list and had to remain within a two hour radius of the hospital -sorry, I don't know which one, only that it is in the Philadelphia area - and ready to go for the transplant.

I know -we've all heard of patients who get on the transplant list and nothing happens for a long, long time. Imagine my surprise then when I opened an e-mail from Bev, one of the organizers, telling all of us within her e-mailing list, that Karen received the call on her beeper this morning at 5 a.m. and had to be at the hospital then by 7 a.m. to begin a battery of tests on her to make sure there was no type of infection or undercurrent going on in her body and also, to ascertain that this heart would be a good match for her.

She and her husband, along with their two sons and cousin Tom's mother, Irene, set off for the hospital only to end up with a transportation problem enroute as their car broke down on the Schuylkill Expressway! They contacted 911 and the police came to take them the rest of the way to the hospital, arriving there only 1 minute late. Meanwhile, a friend of theirs who is an automotive mechanic also happened on them - arriving on the scene just before the police got there - and he drove Tom's mother, Irene, and the two boys to the hospital then.

So all day, I've been on pins and needles - wondering how the tests were going, was the heart going to be a good match for her? Had they completed these things and were they already beginning to do the transplant? So many questions, so many worries there, as you can imagine.

The first things I did though upon hearing this surgery looked very eminent, was to contact the Pastor at our church to have arrangements for Karen's name to be put on our prayer chain. After that, I called my cousin Margaret Anne, explained to her what was going on and she then called the people at her church to have Karen's name placed on their prayer chain. Then I e-mailed family and friends asking all of them to please, please remember Karen especially now as she was facing the fight of her life. And, I received responses from family and friends, coast-to-coast too saying they definitely would put Karen on their church's prayer chains too or remember her in their own thoughts and prayers while she endures this procedure to enable her to "live" her life once again.

Some folks might be a bit surprised to learn that I am that strong in my own faith, that I believe wholeheartedly in the Power of Prayer, but it's true. Yes, indeed I do! When I had each of my surgeries over the past four years, as well as dealing with physical therapy for my back issues, radiation, chemotherapy two round of that in one year, it brought me much comfort knowing so many fellow parishioners were praying for me as well as many members of my immediate and very extended family and lots and lots of friends too!

Is that what brought me through this far? Some may say it has no effect but I think just from the moral support alone, it gives one that much more stamina, a bit more of an edge, a reason to try to get better again. It certainly doesn't hurt anything is also my theory there!

Early this evening, I got a small update on Karen and the tests all went well so at 3 p.m. this afternoon, they took her to the operating to begin the surgery that will give her a new heart.

And, I'm going to put myself out on a limb here tonight now too and ask any of you reading this, if you believe at all in the powers of prayer, to please keep this lady in your thoughts, your prayers, that the surgery will be completed with no complications and that she gets off to a good start on the road to recovery. Every prayer certainly can only help her be returned home to her husband, sons, and the rest of her immediate family as quickly as is possible. And I - along with every single member of my extended family would be extremely thankful for those who would do that for Karen.

Because of the nature of this post, I am not putting in any Bushism today. I'll play "catch-up" on those once things begin to settle down a bit and those who like those naughty little idioms from DUBYA, I think you can understand my reason for making that choice for now.

Thanks to each and everyone of you, my readers, my friends.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Family Ties

Maybe, before I get writing this post, I should put forth a little warning here - "this post may contain some really sentimental stuff"so, if you are like me and get all warm and fuzzy feelings or perhaps a little teary-eyed over sentimental stuff, then be prepared!

If you recall, yesterday my daughters, the grandkids and I attended a family reunion. This was my Dad's family but it really is a family reunion of my oldest uncle's family with others who are cousins of theirs invited to share in the festivities. Uncle George and Aunt Henrietta had ten children, of which nine are still living and I think they also had 34 or 35 grandchildren. I wouldn't even try to calculate how many great-grands and even great-great-grands there are in that branch of my family tree but suffice it to say - there are A LOT! When my Aunt Henrietta died six years ago, her obituary stated in a headline that she left over 100 descendants. And, she raised most of her ten children as a single mother too - quite an accomplishment for the 50's! My uncle died in 1949 and at the time, she probably had at least seven, maybe eight children still at home. The youngest was only around three years old anyway.

The thing here is, I never met that uncle! Or if I did, I was too small to have any memory of him whatsoever. I grew up knowing I had these ten first-cousins but I was never around them at all! The first memory I have of ANY of his family was when my Dad's baby sister got married -I think that was in 1953 -and Aunt Henrietta attended the wedding with the three youngest children with her. They sat in the same pew at the church as my Mom and I were seated in and all I remember is this boy, close to my age who kept edging closer and closer to his mother - same as I was doing with mine - and I whispered to my Mom -"Who are those people?" Her response was, typical for my Mom, "Well, they are your cousins and your Aunt Henrietta." And she said it in a tone of voice that implied I should have automatically known who these people were! Go figure! How would I possibly recognize three children and a woman who I'd never seen before - not even in a photograph?

I don't really know why we never saw them although I knew where they lived and it wasn't really all that terribly far from where I grew up. As a matter of fact, every time we went to the PIttsburgh area to visit my Mom' s brother and his family, we drove right through the little town where this aunt and all these cousins lived. Mom knew which house they lived in and often pointed it out to me as we drove through the town but no matter how much I pleaded with her to stop sometime so I could meet these cousins, she would never do it.

I have no clue why she withheld my getting to know these relatives, but I always resented the fact that I never knew them. I knew my Dad's family that lived near to me, as Mom and I always went to visit my Dad's sister and her husband and his brother and his wife who lived in the family homestead. We also would occasionally visit my Dad's older brother and another sister who both lived in a town about 12 miles from us although another uncle of my Dad's who lived down the road from the family homestead, we never seemed to socialize with him so I barely knew him when I was growing up, nor did I know his only daughter very well either.

My Dad died when I was an infant; his mother died when I was about 2 1/2 years old - so the circumstances there probably didn't provide enough "family glue" I suppose for Mom to make sure I knew my Dad's family near as well as I knew her family.

Fast forward to 1970 when the uncle who I didn't know all that well as a child died. Mom and I -and my older daughter who was about three years old then -drove up from Maryland where we were living then for his funeral. And, at that funeral were three of Uncle George's sons, their wives and their mother - along with two half-sisters of my Grammie's who I had no idea were still living!

After that funeral, my Mom seemed to open up a bit, telling me more little stories about my Dad's family and through things I learned then, I could understand why these cousins and my aunt had been sure to come to Uncle Rab's funeral because on several occasions, years back, he had boarded with them when work took him to the small town where they lived.

It wasn't until the late 90's that I had occasion where I was able to finally meet some of Uncle George's daughters and my aunt again for the third time in my entire life! And by the time I met them, I had begun to develop a strong interest in family tree stuff. I had also been wanting to meet and have a chance to talk to some of my older cousins too who might have some memories of my dad that they would perhaps be willing to share with me.

At one point, in the early 90's - shortly after I came to the realization that I not only wanted but I NEEDED to know more about my Dad in order to understand more about myself. It had only taken me close to fifty years to realize there were things about me that I just didn't comprehend and sometimes -often, really - gave me a feeling of being "odd-man-out" sort of. I use that term simply because I don't know a better way to describe those feelings.

I knew all of my Mom's family and had always felt very close to them. My Dad's brother - Uncle Arch and his wife, my aunts on my Dad's side too - I was close to them -loved them dearly. But there were times when somethings about me just didn't seem to "fit" exactly with my Mom's family.

So, I had begun my search to learn more about my Dad by first speaking to my cousin Janet Lee -who would have been about ten years old when my Dad died and I knew her mother and my dad were very close. When I approached Janet with a request if she could tell me anything at all that she remembered about Daddy, she was quite brusque with me, saying she remembered "nothing, I don't remember him at all!" What? Her reaction was far from what I had expected. I then approached my cousin, Margaret Anne, who was about the same age and she was very sweet about her response to me, apologized profusely to me that she really couldn't tell me anything because she had never been around Daddy all that much when she was a young child. That then left me with the older kids in Uncle George's family to try to meet some of them, somehow and see what they had to say.

It was good fortune for me that one Sunday of a Memorial Day weekend, after having gone to the cemetery where my Mom and Daddy are buried, that I had stopped by my youngest Aunt's home and lo and behold, there was my Aunt Henrietta and three of her daughters visiting my aunt. They too -like me - had been to the cemetery where Uncle George is buried, next to my Mom and Dad, and had stopped at Aunt Mike's house afterward. (Yes, my aunt is nicknamed "Mike" -although her given name is Anna Mae.) This was the first time I met the three older girls of Uncle George's family - Mary Jane, Isabel and Bessie Ann. They were having a light lunch with my aunt and invited me to join them - an invitation I gladly accepted too!

They chatted about so many things, laughing, telling stories about their Dad, what he was like and after we ate, I cornered Isabel in the kitchen and asked her if she remembered my Dad and if so, what could she tell me about what he was like. When she told me she remembered him fairly well, I was really in seventh heaven! She said she remembered how he would pop in and visit at their home, usually unplanned visits; how he would tease her and her siblings. She said the best thing she could remember about him was that in so many ways, he was very much like her own Dad -very friendly, outgoing, also very fun-loving too!

You can't imagine how good it made me feel to talk to someone who understood what I wanted to know - I already knew his name (of course) his date of birth and death, the kind of work he'd done but what I was after was to know what KIND of person he was, underneath the appearance of the man! The emotions that fueled him maybe was what I was trying to learn about. People would tell me when I was a kid he was so handsome; he was a really nice man; he was a hard-worker; he really cared deeply about his mother and his entire family but especially that he had tried to help his mother as much as he could. But no one had ever told me little things - what he liked, did he have hobbies, talents sung and unsung, how he felt about society, was he biased? All kinds of things that had someone told me more in-depth things about him as a child, I'd have had more of a clue as to why I often reacted the way I did to many things.

I met those cousins and my aunt another time - in the spring of 2000 and at that time, Aunt Henrietta was full of talk about the Hill Reunion that was to take place that summer and she wanted to know if I was going to attend it. She was so enthusiastic about it and, having grown up around the family reunion on my Mom's side - which I always loved - I decided then and there, that yes indeed, I was going to make every effort to go to the Hill Reunion that year!

And I did! At the time it was held though, I almost didn't get there because my car was not running all that well and I ended up -thanks to some help from one of Uncle George's granddaughters, hitching a ride to the park outside of Philly where the reunion was held with the son of another cousin who lived at that time in State College, PA - which is only about 35 miles from where I live! Talk about good fortune huh? I was pretty much overwhelmed at that reunion by the sheer size of it! Of the hundred and twenty some in attendance that day, only three of us there were NOT direct descendants (by birth or marriage) of my Uncle George! The other two people were a cousin from my Grammy Hill's side (the Nelson Clan) and his wife!

I spent the night after that reunion at the home of my cousin Isabel and some of her sons and their wives (and children) as well as my youngest cousin, Rodney, and his wife, Lois, came by to visit there as Aunt Henrietta was also staying with Isabel then too. Getting to know some of my cousins a bit more, seeing how easily they related to me, gave me such a great feeling.

And I'm so glad I put forth the effort needed to attend that reunion because a year later, my Aunt Henrietta died. At the time of her death, I wasn't at home though - I was visiting in Indiana, PA with a cousin of my Mom's for a day and a night and didn't get the message from my Aunt Mike about Aunt Henrietta's passing. Strangely enough, when I left Indiana to return home, I decided to drive down by Aunt Henrietta's home, see how she was doing -not knowing that she'd passed away. The oldest cousin, Mary Jane, happened to be at the house when I stopped and she told me I'd missed the viewing and the funeral, etc. But, she showed me around a bit, inside the home that had been her family's homestead for many, many years and we sat and talked about many things from her past, from mine - all of which has helped me to come to terms, within myself, about who I am and to know I am definitely my father's child! (Not that there was ever any question about that, just that I never knew what aspects of him had been passed along to me, genetically speaking.)

And so, when I asked my girls if they wanted to attend this reunion yesterday on the Hill side of their family, they had both said yes, they really wanted to do that. I was still a bit worried going over to the reunion yesterday that they might not enjoy being around so many people that they had no clue who they all were but thankfully, my cousin Margaret Anne and her family were going to be there so that meant there would be at least 11 people my girls would know and could talk to anyway.

But, these other cousins were all so friendly, so open to my kids and grandkids - just as they'd been to me - that both my girls were really glad they'd decided to attend as they both raved about how much fun they'd had yesterday!

As my older daughter said to me on the phone this morning when we were rehashing the events of the reunion, that to her one thing that stood out was how you could just see and FEEL the love and respect Uncle George's kids all had for each other and how that had been passed down to the rest of the family -their kids, grandkids, etc. How funny these cousins were the way they teased each other back and forth which Carrie felt was very much the same closeness she and her brother and sister also share for each other. Not that they don't from time to time have their little fallings out and tell each other off - and as I learned from some of my cousins yesterday -they do the same thing too (of course, it's normal in any family) but by the same token, no matter how ticked they might be one day, if the next day that sibling appeared and needed something, they'd be there, 100% to help any way they could.

The cousins who organized this reunion yesterday did their normal bang-up job having everything possible covered from virtually every angle! Games -they had 'em and had them planned out almost to the minute too! They also had a family competition too - the "Hill Family Idol" contest in which each family group was to try to do some type of presentation. Ok, my girls and I didn't have anything planned but had hoped to get up with Maya and get her to "sing" some of the songs she will often sing to us at home - "One, Two, Three, Like a Bird I Sing" is one of the songs she likes and also "You Are My Sunshine" which she will sing along with us - we sing a line, she sings the next line, and so forth. But Maya was too taken by the park, the rides, all the other "peoples" and kids to be seen so there was no getting her to cooperate. Some of the skits my cousins and their kids put on were absolutely hilarious! As where many of the comments from those of us - one from each family of the first cousins present -who were the judges of the competition. My cousin Margy's grandson, Pj, won with his karaoke rendition to Tennessee Ernie Ford's song "Sixteen Tons." But, as I told my girls, as soon as Pj announced what he planned to sing and he wanted to dedicate this number to his "Great-grandpap, who was a coal miner and to all miners everywhere," and when he started to sing, EVERYONE joined in singing along with him, I knew the kid had it in the bag then and there! That dedication is really what put him over the top because you see, my dad, my Uncle George, Uncle Rab, Uncle Arch, Uncle Bill, Uncle Alex, my Grandpa Hill, my Great-grandpa Hill and lots of Hill men before them over in Scotland had all been coal miners!

My girls are looking forward now too for the time when there is another Hill Family Reunion and you can bet your bottom dollar, they won't think twice about whether they will attend or not - they'll be there if it is at all possible!

Really makes my day to see them react, respond, feel this way and darned glad that they are still young - Mandy is 31, Carrie just turned 40 - so they have (hopefully) a lot more time ahead of them to get to know this side of their family a little better, become a little closer with each get-together too!

Here's three photos taken at our 2000 Hill Family reunion - the top one being of the 120 plus family in attendance. I can't wait to see how this year's group photo turns out!

Yes indeed - those Family Ties are really important!
And, to start your week out now too -here's the Bushism for Monday, June 25, 2007!

"I want to thank you for coming to the White House to give me an opportunity to urge you to work with these five senators and three congressmen, to work hard to get this trade promotion authority moving. The power that be, well most of the power that be, sits right here." - Washington, D.C.; June 18, 2001.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"In The Swim"

Well, well! Here I am, up bright and early, showered, (shaved legs), dressed, hair combed, etc. and ready to roll out of here about an hour from now to drive over to Tyrone to DelGrosso's Park where the big family reunion of my Dad's family is going to be held today.

I don't have a clue how well I will manage the day because I didn't get very doggone much sleep last night - only about two hours of the good old snooze time, thanks to my sweet little grandson. I was wide awake late last night - till about 3 a.m. when I quit doing my research for the day and hit the bed pillows but shortly after 5 a.m., Kurtis woke me up. At first, it sounded like he might have been having a bad dream - just a little whining which would sort of die down - but then he started to really wail and his mother and I were both by his bed in a flash. Poor little guy was just soaked for one thing and apparently his tummy must have been telling him he was on starvation row too because Mandy went and got him a bottle -after getting all new fresh and dry clothes on him - and he virtually attacked the milk in that bottle. Drained it dry in nothing flat!

So, since I was up then, wide awake too, I decided I may as well get a jump on the day - get my shower and dressed, make the coffee, etc. That way, when it is time for us to head out to the park, it won't be me holding up the parade!

I got another roll of film developed this week - on Wednesday - and have been meaning to post some of the photos on it but just haven't gotten around to it, so I'm going to share some with you this morning.

Last Sunday, Mandy had to run over to Walmart and she took Miss Maya with her. When they came home, she had a big box in the car which Maya knew exactly what was in the box and she was really excited about it too -wanting her Daddy to set it up so she could "get in the swim!"

Yes, Mandy bought a nifty inflatable pool - shaped like a figure eight, a nice size it is. In order to get it set up, Bill had to take it up to my son's house and use the air compressor on it to inflate it! When he brought it back home and put it up in the yard, Maya was just beside herself - dancing around, squealing and laughing and could hardly wait until Uncle Clate had at least enough water in the bottom that it would cover her feet! We had a really difficult time then getting her out of "the swim" to come in and eat supper that night too! (By the way, "in the swim" is what Maya calls going swimming, in case you haven't already figured that out.)

So here's a couple pictures of Maya, along with her little brother, Kurtis, in their new swimming pool.
In case you haven't already figured it out, the person behind little Kurtis, holding him up, is his Mama, my younger daughter, Amanda.
And now, it's time for me to go get in the swim of things -like finish loading stuff in the car and heading on out to the 2007 Hill Family Reunion!

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Rock On!"

[rgb.jpg]So, my "Blog Buddy" -the Smalltown RN gave me this award today and apparently in a delusional state of mind, she also seems to think I show a lot of patience. Boy, how little she REALLY knows about me!

I am, frequently, one of the Most IMPATIENT people you can imagine! I like things done as quickly as possible - at least most of the time anyway.

But, then too, as my son frequently points out to Katie, the 15-year-old in the house when he sees she is more than a little frustrated with some of my ways, actions, beliefs, etc -"This is not the same person I grew up with!"

And, thinking back over the years when my kids were much, much younger, patience rarely was a strong component within me. Maybe, to some extent, I have finally developed some of that commodity, but in my opinion, not nearly enough to be called a really "patient" person.

There are times when I'm dealing with the little, nitty-gritty things ALL little kids do - like getting into everything and anything and cleaning up the continual flow of messes caused so frequently by those little fingers (and the little feet too that keep taking them to places they shouldn't be) -I know 25-30 years ago when my son or younger daughter were the age the little Princess is now and had they done some of the things she's notorious for doing, they probably would more than likely spent a lot of time nursing a behind that may have been just a little bit tender now and again. (No, I didn't beat my kids, don't do that with Maya either, but I did occasionally let the palm of my hand make contact with the seat of their pants!) And the funny thing is, in many ways, some of the things Maya (and the baby too now) do, are just variations of many of the same things their mother or their uncle did way back then. But then, when it was MY kids involved in needing discipline and I do think too because even when my ex and I were married, it was more like I was a single parent because maintaining "law and order" always feel at my feet, I was always very concerned that my kids behave at home and especially in public in a certain way.

It's not that I don't have the same concerns for Miss Maya or little Kurtis -I want them to grow up to have good manners, be polite, mannerly, well-behaved children too - but you see, because Maya definitely has "issues" from time to time due to the autism factor -and by the looks of things, it does appear that Kurtis may have these same problems in life too, disciplining takes on a whole new aspect with them, than what it was two or three decades ago. Now, it involves finding ways to show these two little ones what is expected and getting a means to get the concept across so they understand it then. Like I said -it's a whole new ballgame in the park these days!

There are other ways though in which I have changed with respect to the patience thing though too. One thing that helped bring about some of those changes was when I ventured out 31 years ago and joined a really great group - "Al-Anon" -and through it, their tenets, I realized I was trying to change others, to take control of things over which I had no ability to change nor was it even maybe my right to think I should or could change some aspects.

One thing I did change was my thinking process about how to deal with people I felt had offended me. The idea of trying to "get even" was one thing I changed then and I've since tried my best to get my kids to see things from the perspective that when you strive to "get even" it is almost inevitable that you will have expended - and wasted - a whole lot of energy to do something (usually not a nice something) that tends to backfire or blow up in your face. If it is meant to be dealt with in a "get even" type manner, my mode of operation became to let it be, do nothing to retaliate, and eventually things would fall into place to where the person (or group) I was irritated with would get their "dues" and I would not have spent a lot of time fretting over something so petty. (And, usually in the long run, seen through different perspectives, things like that frequently are just that - petty.)

And, if I do indeed have some small amount now today of "patience" I would have to attribute it to that philosophy.

One thing that has been making me lose my patience today though, at least somewhat, stems from several phone calls that I received today. Each time, when I answer the phone, there is a recorded message telling me to "please hold briefly" as soon as I pick up and then, I sit here and wait for whoever it is that is calling to click the appropriate buttons and such on their end to complete the connection process so I can find out what it is they want to talk to me about but no one ever comes on the line. Instead, I hear the buttons clicking in the background and eventually, it clicks to some other area where the phone is ringing and I get connected to the phone company message "If you are wish to make a call, please hang up and dial again!" Now that kind of nonsense really grates on me and makes me rather upset to the point where I would like to reach through the phone wires and put my bony fingers around the neck of the person who makes these calls or to find the mechanism responsible and rip the wires out so they are unable to make these calls and bother people! If you want to talk to me -and want me in a fairly good humor to begin with - then don't use these methods to call me! Please remember an adage I cite with respect to patience -"Patience is a virtue and I am not a very virtuous person" and, if a real person were to come on the line, eventually, from one of these calls, they just might meet the really very unvirtuous, not very patient at all, person I am down deep inside!

Now, those who like reading the Bushism for the day are probably aware that I didn't post yesterday -therefore there was no Bushism for Thursday. So, as a result of that oversight on my part, today you get a triple-header! One for Thursday, one for today and because I probably won't post until way late tomorrow unless I forget to do that, there will be the Bushism for the weekend as well! So here they are now!

Thursday, June 21, 2007
"It's a time of sorrow and sadness when we los a loss of life." - Washington, D.C.; December 21, 2004.

Friday, June 22, 2007
"We got the best workforce in America - in the world." - Washington, D.C.; December 2, 2005

Saturday and Sunday - June 23/24, 2007
"We expect the states to show us whether or not we're achieving simple objectives - like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write." - On federal education requirements; Washington, D.C.; April 28, 2005.

Now, everyone go out and have a great weekend. And, in the meantime, I'm going to be thinking about who I will nominate too for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"New Glasses"

I've been making my "rounds" this morning - visiting my favorite blogs and reading what new things these friends have had to say today. I had some things on my mind of late too that sometimes, when reading what others have to say it gives me a different insight or take on whatever it may be that I am pondering at times too.

One blog that is a big favorite of mine is this one - Shelby Dupree's -as I always enjoy the words of wisdom she imparts and love the array of photos she posts too - from her parent's Mississippi farm to her own flower and vegetable gardens and lots and lots of other things in between.

Today, to my surprise, she was talking about a recent "redo" she did on her blog - new, big photo banner at the top, different template, color background, etc. She was saying she wasn't happy with her blog's look and felt her photos weren't quite right, etc., etc.

Now, since I always enjoy what I read on her blog and love the photos she posts too, it struck me that perhaps her vision of her blog -as compared to how I see it - was not unlike the image my older daughter seems to get returned to her when she looks in the mirror and is trying to do her makeup, fix her hair, make sure her outfit for the day is "just so" perfect. When I look at this daughter, what I see there is a far cry from the image she professes to behold in the mirror. I see a young woman, tall, well-built, very pretty, well-dressed, nicely coiffed and she -well, she sees a four letter word -that rhymes with "snit" which is what she puts herself into every time she looks in a mirror it seems! As I mentioned to blogger friend Shelby about this syndrome, I have offered on many occasions to loan my daughter my bifocals as I felt apparently she needs new glasses or some such since there was always so much disparity between what she was seeing to what I would see there.

And, that idea - "different eyes" - or a different approach, different look, came back to me then as perhaps an answer to something that has been on my mind for a long, long time but it is once again wearing on me as the days fly by bringing me closer and closer to an annual family event - my Mom's Family's Reunion!

This family event was begun back in 1950 by some of the grandchildren then of my great-grandparents - my Mom's generation, in essence. There were a few of my great-grandparents children still living at the time the first reunion was held but the last of that generation died in 1971. Today, there are only six cousins left from the third generation - the one that began the reunion. Those of us who still attend this annual event are now of the fourth and fifth generation away from my great-grandparents. There is still one of my Mom's first cousins who does try to attend the reunion but she doesn't always get there year after year now.

A little background history here maybe is important too - so here goes. My great-grandparents immigrated here in 1880 and 1881 from Sweden. My Great-grandfather came over alone in 1880 and in 1881, his wife and the five children they had then came over and joined him. They had lost their first child when he was still just a baby. Over the next 15 years, they had six more children. By 1950, when the first reunion was held, seven of the twelve children were still living and there were also, by then 38 grandchildren, along with a fairly large complement too of great-grandchildren in existence. Although most of their descendants lived in Pennsylvania, there were little clusters here and there around the east coast of family members but for the most part, the majority lived within a 3-5 hour drive of central Pennsylvania and the area where my great-grandparents had settled.

Today, my son, younger daughter and I are the ONLY members of this extended family who still lives in the same village where our ancestors came to live. My older daughter lives about 45 miles away in Centre County. But the rest of the extended family is really "EXTENDED" now! There's at least one cousin in Hawaii, several in California too now. And coming east, some in Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee along with New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey and Delaware.

Although this family event over the years has seen some reunions with as high as 80 some relatives attending, the past few years, the attendance has dwindled very much to usually about 25 stalwart cousins -thirty attendees is cause for a celebration to see that many cousins appear.
Over the past 20 years, we have changed the mode of operation from gathering on the last Sunday in July to renting the little park where we have the reunion for the entire weekend thus enabling those coming from a distance the opportunity to either camp out (for those so inclined) or to get a room at a nearby motel and break up the travel time involved, etc. We used to have games at this reunion (and prizes) for kids and adults alike, but over the past couple of years, the attendance and especially, the small number of children there now is so small that the time is mainly spent with the little ones playing on the swings and stuff or trying to play a little softball while the adults talk, visit, remember other family members long departed by looking over old photos and such. And, we have an auction too - everyone brings some "gift" (can be pretty or funky or down right ridiculous) and kids and adults bid on these and the money gleaned then is what we use to pay the rental fees for the parklet we use.

Now I happen to love this reunion -been there since the beginning of it and am an active participant at what does appear to be its demise too, by the looks of things. Over the past 57 years - this year will be our 58th reunion - I have only ever missed two reunions! I suppose because I've been a part of it so many years, it has become as much a staple in my life as is Christmas celebrations with my kids and grandkids now. I look forward from one year to the next to coming together again, being able to see, talk to and just enjoy being in the presence of my extended family.

A lot of the younger ones in this family group who have drawn away from the reunion over the years -due often to distance, sometimes because they are unable to get away from work or other commitments that particular weekend -now say they aren't interested in attending because -mainly -they don't know anyone there. Well, if you don't attend now, didn't attend for several years, decided in 5 or 10 years that "Oh, I'd like to go to that family reunion" -first off, it may not still be in existence because it can not go on forever without a larger amount of extended family support and also, if you don't know your family now and it's soooo difficult to come together and meet with them using that reason, then what makes you think it will be easier several years from now to get re-acquainted with them then?

Now, on the other hand, this coming Saturday will be another family reunion event which both my daughters, my three grandkids and I will be attending. This one will be held at an amusement park about 35 miles or so from where I live and there will be well over 100 people attending it too! A cousin of mine (first cousin., that is) who lives about 10 miles from me and two of her children and her grandchildren will be there but they will be pretty much the only relatives there that my girls know fairly well. All the rest of those attending this event will be children of my oldest uncle and their grandkids and great-grandkids! That particular uncle had ten children, of which nine are still living and there are oodles of grands and great-grands from his family too!

My girls are really looking forward to getting acquainted with this "Hill Hundred" you could perhaps call them!

But the biggest differences between this reunion and my Mom's family would have to be the set-up and food. At this reunion, the food is being catered by the park management at a cost, per person of either $14 or $17.50 a head, depending on how much each individual wishes to eat! At my Mom's family reunion, it is the traditional type with "pot luck" meals - ranging from all kinds of casseroles, salads and desserts that each family brings to put on the table.

At my Dad's gathering, some of the organizers for the event - grandchildren of my oldest uncle - have a full contingency of games planned for all ages as well as a "talent" program too where anyone who wishes can "perform" -whether it be playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, karaoke - you name it! This event runs from 11 a.m. (sharp) till 7 p.m. Saturday night. My Mom's reunion begins as people start to trickle into our park site early Saturday afternoon and will end late Sunday afternoon - after two big meals have been served, as well as a make-shift breakfast too on Sunday morning. My Mom's reunion is now and has always been, pretty much also a "dry" event - meaning no outward display of alcoholic beverages. My Dad's reunion - well, suffice it to say that a couple of my cousins there often join forces and set up a keg! (Although, I'm not so sure they'll be allowed to do that at this particular park where we'll be gathering as my daughters said they thought this park is posted for NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ALLOWED. We shall see I suppose how that plays out.)

So, here's my dilemma - and where I really could use "new glasses" or another set of eyes (or many of them) to think this over and see if anyone here can come up with any suggestions of how to draw more of my Mom's extended family back to the reunion and stave off it's eminent death -soon- if we don't manage to do just that!

What would you do? How would you try to entice people to attend?

And, now -in closing, here's the lovely Bushism for today!
June 20, 2007 (and Happy Birthday today to my former classmate, neighbor and long, long time friend too. Happy Birthday, Kate!)

"The Bob Jones policy on interracial dating, I mean I spoke out on interracial dating. I spoke against that. I spoke out against interracial dating. I support the policy of interracial dating." -CBS Evening News; February 25, 2000.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"

Remember that old nursery rhyme? "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells" and something else that I can't remember now but whatever it was it was "all in a row."

This morning, while Maya romped around the living room playing with various toys - mainly her Barbie princess dolls that she loves to remove their clothes and then brings them to me, one at a time, with the outfit to put back on the doll - and Kurtis was still sleeping, I managed to snag enough time to make the rounds of the favorite blogs I try to read every day.

One thing I noticed in today's rounds is that a lot of my favorite bloggers have flower gardens, some even have vegetable gardens too, and several of them even have some beautiful photos on their blogs of their pretty flowers "all in a row" or the vegetable or herb gardens they are working on and how well they are doing.

How I envy these people! Gardening is something I've never been able to "cultivate."

Although I come from a long line of gardeners - my Grandpa ALWAYS had a huge garden, every year until his health no longer permitted his doing that but even then, my Mom and Grandma took up the slack as much as they could manage and we still always had a fairly large vegetable garden, as well as having many flowers around the yard that Grandpa had planted here over the years. There was a huge peony bush that grew at the back of the house and for many, many years would blossom so beautifully - those huge lush flowers so big and heavy that the plant would be bent almost in half with the weight of the blooms on it.

The lot adjacent to my house now, when I was a kid, Grandpa had across the front several rose bushes which he tended to ever so lovingly. Beautiful roses they were. There was also a big forsythia bush over in that part of the yard and in the middle, he had a circular flower garden filled with all kinds of beautiful flowers. He had a section along the back part of the two lots - that separated the main back yard from the area where he had his vegetable garden and it had rows of dahlias, flocks and other larger flowers that he grew there too. There were also three big apple trees in the main back yard and a smaller apple tree down in the back lot as well. Over the years, all three of the big apple trees were cut down for one reason or another. A big old pine tree that used to stand between this lot and the adjacent one also had to be removed because the roots tended to spread and tangle themselves into the pipes leading from the house into the septic tank and inevitably created a problem that would cause the commode to back up into the house too then. And there was also a great big, really prickly type, fir tree/bush that grew alongside the chimney on the house too and it had to go as well. That one I never regretted seeing it cut down as it was so prickly it made trimming around it very difficult plus, the tiny "spear-like" parts it dropped on the ground made running around the yard in one's bare feet a real challenge!

After my kids and I moved from the house my ex-husband and I had built on the lot next door into this house - which had been built in 1903 by my Grandparents - I decided each spring for several years running that I would try to grow some vegetables in the back lot - like Grandpa had done all through my childhood and probably for at least 20-30 years before that.

I would have the area plowed and harrowed, try to rake through the ground more and get it ready to plant some things there - nothing fancy, not a whole lot but the normal vegetables most people tend to plant - onions, lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, beets, corn, potatoes, some cabbage plants, tomatoes, cucumbers and occasionally I'd throw some pumpkin and squash seeds into the mix as well.

These designs I had in my mind for a nice vegetable garden that would provide fresh food for my kids and me at the end of the summer were all thwarted by what must surely be the "black thumb" that seems to plague me when it comes to gardening of any type!

Put a plant in my care and it will die - sure as God made little green apples - you could probably set a clock by the length of time these plants would last in my care! They would barely get out of the ground and presto magic, the black thumb apparently was waved over them and they would wither up and die!

In all the years I tried to have a garden in my back yard, the most I ever was able to get from any of my gardens was one year, I did "harvest" a cup - yes a whole cup - of peas!

My neighbor, now deceased, who lived two doors from me and who often used to admire and compare gardening notes too with my Grandpa told me one year after watching me trying to tend to my puny plants that if my Grandpa would see me, see this futile effort I was making to grow some things, he was probably rolling in his grave right now - either from sheer consternation or in laughter! The neighbor wasn't quite sure which emotion would be present - maybe even both!

So now I have long since given up the dream of ever having a nice garden from which to venture out and bring in fresh veggies, with all their better flavor, good nutrients and such to prepare for a family dinner.

I wish I could figure out how to correct these problems I have with the "growing greener" programs cause I'd sure love to go out in the garden and pick a ripe tomato right from the vine, rub the dirt off on my shirt or shorts and pop it into my mouth. Nothing tastes better than fresh food like that - dirt and all, ya know.

But for the sake of those poor seeds in the packets, the seedlings one can purchase at the greenhouses too - I don't want to cause anymore death and destruction to the plant kingdom of the world.

On a side note - changes around the house here - on Sunday, Mandy and Maya took a run over to Walmart for a few things and they came home with an inflatable pool for my little princess to play in! And, play she has too!

Sunday night, she couldn't wait until her Dad got the pool all inflated. He took it up to my son's and used the air compressor to do that task and when she saw him pull up out front, with that pool all inflated, ready to be filled with water, you can just imagine how excited and happy she was!

She "helped" Uncle Clate hold the hose to start filling it with water and as soon as she saw there was enough water in there to at least get her feet wet, in she went! For close to an hour, before supper, she romped around in the water, in the pool -out of the pool, just having herself a ball. Trying to pry her away to get her to come in, get dried off, dry clothes on to eat supper was quite a challenge. Sitting up to the table, she kept turning around, looking longingly at the front door as she knew, just on the other side of that door was that wonderful pool waiting for her return. There was an appetite for only one thing - going back out and into the pool. We tried and tried to reason with her that she needed to eat, etc., to no avail. At one point, she looked at us and said "Go swimming now. I eat later!" Full sentences are not usually a part of her vocabulary just yet and this one, so appropriately inserted into the dinner table conversation completely cracked all of us up!

Yesterday, Mandy had her outside, in the pool for about an hour or so in the late morning hours and again, in the afternoon for close to two hours so she really fully enjoyed herself "swimming." It's a bit on the dark side today - calling for rain sometime this afternoon so she hasn't seemed to even think about going "swimming" again - at least not as yet today but I'll lay odds the subject will come up again sometime before supper unless the rain moves in before then.

Have a nice day all!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Connect The People

My blogging buddy Mau up in Canada made a comment on my post below titled "Auld Lang Syne" which has a photo of all but three of my classmates who attended our recent class reunion two weeks ago that she thought it would be fun for readers to try to identify classmates of mine from old-old photos compared to our recent group photo. That might take some tricky manipulation of photos and such here but I thought what the heck, let's give it a try!

So what I'm going to do here is post some moldy-oldy photos of a few of my classmates and see how many of you can identify that person by looking at the group photo in the earlier post and the names I have shown on that post of everyone in the big picture. Are you ready for the challenge? You can label your answers in the comments by first pic, second pic, etc, etc. Here goes!

1 2
7 & 8

Pictures 1 thru 6 are senior photos, the bottom photo -well, it's just a big older. These two girls grew up side by side - and no, neither one of them is me, but they were my next door neighbors and childhood playmates as I lived on the other side of the girl to the right on the picture.

Have fun!

And, if identifying people from old photos (who you don't probably know in the first place) to pictures of them today as shown on a post two below this one isn't a fun thing for you, the only other thing I have to offer today is this Bushism for tomorrow -June 19, 2007. I can't give you the one for today as it seems someone has dared to rip a page out of my calendar -again!!!

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe, and what I believe - I believe what I believe is right." - Rome, Italy; July 22, 2001.

Wonder what it is that he actually believes, don't you?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Something in the air?

Today was, by all standards, a beautiful day - at least if you base those standards on warm weather, loads of sunshine, things like that.
But today was one of those days with a deep-seated feeling in me that I couldn't shake and have no clue as to what exactly brought it on either. Inside, I just wasn't feeling all "sunny and bright."
I thought maybe it was a subconscious thing inside me where I was feeling a lot of the regrets of life -remembering the things I did wrong. All those shoulda, coulda, woulda things we all have, don't we - or am I alone on this one?
Maybe I was just not feeling up to par for other reasons that are working on me and I don't know what they are - some medical issues about to launch and set me back a notch? Who knows.
But by the time I got around to reading the posts on some of my favorite blog reading list, it seems that I wasn't the only one having a "bad day."
Blogger Claire was feeling a bit on the punk and tired side after slaving and struggling away to finish up work for her college courses this past semester and not having an easy time of it either. She's also just trying to bounce back from having had a nasty ear infection a couple of weeks ago that played into putting her behind in her course work, along with just generally kind of slapping her upside the head a bit too. Not exactly that it's the old "misery loves company" thing here, but reading her post and then, clicking into the comments there for her for today, well that did tend to bring a smile or two up within me. The words of wisdom may have been intended for Claire, but I found a lot of comfort in their content as well.
And then there's the good old Meloncutter who wasn't his normal zany self today either because he was worrying about some recent episodes in the life of his teenage son. I have no words of wisdom to share with him other than to tell him I can relate to the anxiety he's experiencing having been down that road with all three of my kids a time or two in their teenage years and occasionally getting a return trip down that highway too when -now and again - one of my kids manages to pull some stunt - usually my son - that sets my teeth on edge or just generally gets my nerves all roiled up.
Why is it though when you aren't having exactly a stellar day to start with, it seems other things throughout the day happen that just seem to upset you, drag you down a bit more then too?
Besides just not feeling up to par - not sick, just off-center I guess -today, Miss Maya decided to let fly and see how many things she could do to keep things on a downward spiral here.
The first thing she did that should have been an omen of more to come was get into the new container of kitty litter her mother had bought and brought into the house today. The mistake was that her Mama set the container down on the dining room floor thinking it was a safe area and would't -or shouldn't be a problem. WRONG! Miss Maya managed to take the cap off the container and proceeded then to pour kitty litter directly on to the dining room floor! Lovely! NOT! I don't know why this child has taken up this love of kitty litter in the past 7-10 days now but she has. THe only "good" thing about this stunt today - compared to those she pulled off on me last week - was this at least was fresh kitty litter, not of the "already been used" type which last week had held her fascination. Ok, so her Dad and I had a fun time trying to sweep up all this kitty litter today.
Then a little while after that, Maya decided to play with the cat's water dish and dumped most of it on the kitchen floor. Enter the mop here to that area as I tried to soak up as much of the water as possible with the sponge mop then.
While I was cooking supper -and this, she did right under my eyes, within five feet of where I was standing no less, Maya came out and picked up the cat's food dish and promptly picked it up and dumped the contents of the dry cat food on to the kitchen floor. OK, child, this time Grammy took her by the hand, led her to the cat food, sat her down on the floor and told her to pick up the cat's food and put it all back into the dish. And, she did that. Ok, not a perfect job but she did try to pick all the cat food up and did manage to get most of it back into the dish. But then, she grabbed the bag of cat food and proceeded to pour some of that on to the floor and started the mess process all over again. This time, her big sister, Kate, swept up the cat food for me because I was trying to feed the baby at that time.
Later in the evening, Maya decided the in thing to do would be to take the little can of the Nestle's strawberry milk flavoring stuff and it would be ever so nice, ever so pretty to dump that powder on to the kitchen floor too! ARRGH!
About the time 9 p.m rolled around and my favorite weekly program - "The Office" -was coming on, I cranked the volume up on the tv because in order to catch the dialogue on that show, I seem to have to always turn the volume way, way up. Well, it comes from another factor there actually too - that being for some reason, probably because I have to listen really closely to what is being said, watch just as closely too what's happening on that show, but it seems every Thursday night, regardless of what time NBC broadcasts "The Office" - the little grandson here, good old Kurtis, decides that it is time then for him to stand up in his playpen and exercise his vocal chords then! Not crying, not fussing - just making tons and tons of loud -VERY LOUD - noises! Can you say ARRGH with me again?
Then, when Mandy got home from work and said something to me about the evening, I made the mistake of just saying to her "Don't even ask how things went today" and she got all bent and uptight over that. So much so that she said to me later that she really wished she would be able to come home from work one night and not listen to me say something to the effect of "Don't even ask." Now she thinks maybe she should make other child care arrangements -which would negate then the reason for her taking any job right now anyway - that being to try to get ahead a bit, financially. Geez, Louise!
It isn't that watching the kids is too much for me to take care of because most of the time it isn't near that much of a disaster zone. It's just that somedays, when it is, it's usually because I am having a "disaster zone" in my mind that seems to trigger these things - or at least makes them seem to feel worse than they probably really are.
But today, with Mandy's response, the problems I read that Claire and also the Meloncutter are experiencing, the way I was feeling today, I'm thinking maybe there was something floating about the airwaves today that was causing all this tension, these issues, problems, etc.
Either that or there's a full moon!
How about your day today? Was it nice and smooth or full of bumps and spilled water, kitty litter, milk flavoring powder and a variety of other things?

Looking towards tomorrow now and maybe it will be a better day for one and all, here's the Bushism then for Friday, June 15, 2007

"Anyway, I'm so thankful, and so gracious --I'm gracious that my brother Jeb is concerned about the hemisphere as well." -- Miami, Florida; June 4, 2001

And, while I'm at it -here's the Bushism then for the weekend too. May as well get a jump on these things you know.

Saturday/Sunday - June 16/17, 2007

"It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way." - Washington, D.C.; April 28, 2005

Gee - maybe I should have read the Bushism for tomorrow and the weekend when I first got up this morning, huh? Might have put me on a better plane than other things did!