Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blog surfing

Last night and again this morning, I decided I hadn't surfed around and read any new blogs lately, so with a flick of the wrist on the faithful mouse, I hit the "next blog" button and off I went.

However, it quickly turned into a very boring, also very irritating surfing adventure -at least in my book.

It seemed that every third or fourth click to a new blog either brought up a blog with the same header about getting super free software or some such thing or else, it was someone trying to get me to click into a porn type of site.

I've never had a problem like that before when I went "blog hopping" and was wondering a couple of things about this happening. One, has anyone else experienced the same type of stuff coming up when you surf the blogs and two, does Blogger have some type of cookie or something that it is using, supposedly to zero in to blogs it thinks I would have a particular interest in viewing?

If so, especially on the second question there, I'm wondering how the heck they or whoever, got the idea I'd be interested in looking at any type of porn - soft or hard core? And, why am I constantly getting the blogs coming up with the "free software" junk being offered?

Just wondering.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rough Edges

I survived the weekend!

It was rough here and there, but I made it through. And what's more, as my older daughter likes to say (all the time), "It's all good; it's all good." I'm not always sure what she means by that but it sounds ok to me this morning anyway.

Friday, I spent the bulk of the day in the kitchen - cooking, baking, getting stuff prepared for the couple of family visitors we had Saturday. If you recall, I've been really worked up and upset over the past month pertaining to my family reunion -this year would have been the 58th reunion of my mother's father's family members and it really looked like this was going to be the end of the line for that event too.

If you base that on the number of people who attended - actually who just showed up here for a rather informal gathering at my house, there were a total of seven adults and three children here Saturday. My cousin Karen, from Jamestown, NY and her daughter, Julie; cousin Rita from Maryland and her husband; my daughter, Mandy, son, Clate, the 15-year-old stepgranddaughter and the two little grandkids of mine (Maya and Kurtis.)

We didn't actually get anything resolved Saturday - just discussed what ideas each of us had, our thoughts about the reunion per se, and we're going to see if we can work out any of the ideas brought up to bring the reunion back to life once more. Time, distance, economics, health issues plus the fact the "blood connection" (how far removed people are from our ancestors) all figure into this issue. My cousins Karen, Rita and I are all of the third generation away from our great-grandparents and, as one cousin who couldn't be here Saturday told me on the phone last week, "We are now the 'older' generation." Yep, how true that is!

Back in 1950, when this reunion was started by our parents, there were still some of the first generation living then and lots and lots of first cousins too. My grandfather and his older brother were still alive and both lived here in this little village then as well. And, most of the children of theirs and of their siblings, lived within a 3-4 hour drive of this place too.

My great-grandparents had immigrated here from Sweden in 1880 and 1881. My g-grandfather came over in 1880 and g-grandma came in 1881 with their five children who ranged in age from 9 years to the youngest, who was only about a year old when they arrived. Their oldest child, a son, had died when just a baby. As they made their way in this country, they had six more children of whom, by 1950 when the reunion began, four of their sons and three daughters were still living and there were 37 of the 39 grandchildren still alive then too. Probably because most of those grandchildren had grown up here too in this little village - all along the same street as well - they were naturally very close knit then.

By the time this reunion began, my grandparents then had eight grandchildren and I was the only one of those children who lived here as my Mom and I lived with her parents. My cousins - children of my Mom's brothers - five lived in the Pittsburgh area, one in Hagerstown, MD and the oldest of my youngest uncle lived in Corry, PA (his three younger siblings hadn't been born at that time. And, although as cousins go, we were very close growing up, as adults, we first cousins didn't have the same connection as my mother and her siblings had with their first cousins, due most likely to the miles between us as we grew up.

Of my ten first cousins on Mom's side (one died in 1982), we're now so scattered about - six of us still live in Pennsylvania, one is in South Carolina, another in Texas and yet another in Indiana - so we don't see each other much at all now. Our children - and there are 30 great-grandchildren now just in my grandparents branch of our family - are really spread out - one in Washington state, another in California, several in Texas, one in Tennessee, two in Georgia, two in Florida, only 10 in Pennsylvania, one in New Jersey, another in New York or Connecticut (not sure right now about that one's residence) three in Indiana, two in Maryland and that leaves 5 that I can't think offhand now where the heck those kids are and well, it's really rough trying to figure out a way to get those kids - many who are married now and have families they are trying to raise who have loads of activities going on where they live and well, to quote someone at NASA -"Houston, we have a problem." We are all over the place and that's just my grandfather's branch of the family that is part of this reunion. When you start trying to track down all the cousins - grandchildren of my grandfather's siblings - it is really a tough job!

My cousins and I, our kids, etc., in our discussions on Saturday, didn't make any decisions or commitments at this time about the reunion's future. We're going to look at finding other places where we could possibly hold it - perhaps that might make it a little more enticing for some of the distant cousins to come to it. We're also looking into getting updated home addresses as well as e-mail addresses for all the descendants of Carl and Maja Till Eld and then, sending that listing out to the cousins, hither, thither and yon, ya know, so they can see that there may be some cousins they had more or less forgotten about or in some cases, didn't know they existed perhaps, but who may be residing now fairly close to them and they can then perhaps take the step to reach out -"touch someone" ya know - and rekindle the family connectivity that way.

It's going to take some work to just get this information compiled and sent out to the members of the family and hopefully, it will help. Who knows? But unless we try, we won't know and won't feel that we've necessarily done all we possibly can do to breathe a little life into the old reunion these days. So, if you happen to be a descendant of Carl and Maja Till Eld, look out, you may be getting some communications from us and asking for input from you about your family members - addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and the like. (None of this information will be turned into the IRS either, or to any nasty bill collectors or spam artists, rest assured! LOL -just kidding there, folks.)

But, regardless, for me, for my kids, it was still so nice that we were able to spend the afternoon with the four folks who were able to make the trip here. The best thing - aside from our discussions - was learning that my cousin Rita's husband just got a new job and was to start it today I believe! He's been through a pretty rough patch for the past two years since he was laid off his previous position so it was wonderful news to learn he'd just been hired by another firm now in a post similar to what he'd held before, doing what he really does quite well too - marketing and pr work. (Anyone who's been let go from a good job and who's over a certain age, knows how difficult it can be to get rehired these days. Don't anyone EVER tell me age discrimination doesn't exist because it is very much alive and way too healthy in today's job markets!)

So Sunday (yesterday), I think based on how I felt - just really, really tired, no energy at all -maybe there was something in the air too because judging on the way my granddaughter was acting most of the day, she must have had similar problems. It's not all that unusual for her to have a meltdown here and there most every day, but yesterday, she was just really abnormally miserable! The least little thing - stuff that usually wouldn't be a big deal with her - would set her off and she would be howling, crying almost to the point were she was on the verge of losing her voice. (Which, I might add, to the rest of the family's eardrums, might have been regarded as a bit of a blessing in disguise, ya know.) She's usually a very good eater when it comes to breakfasts - most of the time, she just wants cold cereal - however, she's never been known to refuse a cooked breakfast and especially not pancakes but yesterday, she wouldn't even touch them! Such wailing! You'd have thought putting those pancakes before her was tantamount to being beaten within an inch of her life! I guess she was just having a bad day, same as we grown-ups have from time to time too. A lot of "rough edges" for her yesterday anyway.

Last evening though, Mandy wanted to go check out a little fruit/vegetable stand about 2 miles from us, so we loaded the kids in the car and away we went. While Mandy was looking at the produce, the kids and I were in the van and Maya was looking out the back window, watching various animals wandering around the yard of the farmhouse there. It was comical on one hand to hear her as she began talking to herself then. "Oh look. See the Kitty, Maya?" "See the duck, Maya?" Each animal she saw, she would say that, and each time, adding her name into the statement. But it's all good - back to what her Aunt Carrie would say there - that she is observing these things, putting this into words, even if she is adding her own name there into the equation.

And now, time for me to head back to bed - again! I actually had gone to bed last night really early - for me - like 10:30 as I couldn't keep my eyes open - but sleeping more than four hours at a clip is a rarity for me so by 3 a.m., I was awake but now, the eyes are starting to get a bit heavy again so maybe I can get a couple more hours of sleep in before the two little ones wake up and begin their day by seeing what ever they can possibly get into!

G'nite for a while.

"DUBYA" - By The Week

Here's this week's Bushism's for your reading pleasure.

Monday, July 30, 2007
"It means your own money would grow better than that which the government can make it grow. And that's important."
...On what private accounts could do for Social Security funds, Falls Church, Virginia; April 28, 2005

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"How do you know if you don't measure, if you have a system that simply suckles kids through?"
...Explaining the need for educational accountability: Beaufort, South Carolina; February 16 , 2000

Wednesday, August 1, 2007
"Our priorities is our faith." - Greensboro, North Carolina; October 10, 2000

Thursday, August 2, 2007
"I was proud the other day when both Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce their support for a clear statement of purpose. You disarm, or we will."
...Speaking about Saddam Hussein, Mancheter, New Hampshire, October 5, 2002

Friday, August 3, 2007
"We want our teachers to be trained so they can meet the obligations, their obligations as teachersl. We want them to know how to teach the science of reading. In order to make sure there's not this kind of federal - federal cuff link."
...Speaking at Pritsche Middle School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; March 30, 2000

Saturday and Sunday, August 4/5, 2007
"They can get in line like those who have been here legally and have been working to become a citzenship in a legal manner."
...Referring to immigrant workers; Washington, D.C.: December 30, 2004

And there you have 'em, folks. Read 'em and weep - or perhaps, chuckle. Maybe both?

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Finally! I got blogger to load a photo for me and it only took me seven (yes, 7) minutes for it to process it and put it up on my blog! Phew! I'm just about exhausted from all that waiting time.
The above photo is of my two younger grandchildren - the Princess, Maya and her baby brother, the littlest Prince, Kurtis. Don't they just look like a couple of little scruffballs though - Maya with her mouth smeared up -probably with one of her favorite substances, Chocolate! But boy, you sure can see how much these two do look alike here, can't you?
Here's my older grandson - Alex - who will be 10 next month. This was taken one night about two weeks or so back when he and his mother and her fiance had come up for supper and he was clowning around with this goofy wig that my son, Clayton, loves to have fun with. Isn't he just the cutest little hippie though? That's my daughter, Mandy, standing off to the right, admiring her nephew.
And here's the littlest prince, Kurtis, sporting Uncle Clate's fancy wig too. He does cut quite a snazzy pose there I think.

And now, I'm all pictured out - at least for the moment!

Time to try to figure out what to fix for supper along with the small steaks I put out to thaw. Here's hoping the weather holds up and we don't get hit about the time the son-in-law puts the meat on the grill with a big old electrical storm they say is brewing now in the western part of our county. Not that I am wishing the folks over in Blair county anything bad, but I'd just as soon see the storm by-pass this region entirely and go rain on someone else's supper cause I just don't really feel much like cooking anything inside tonight!

Ask me tomorrow how well that plan went for me too, will ya?

Oh - and one more thing - reading through my favorite blogs today, I got a good chuckle out of two posts my old friend at the "World's Largest Private Weather Forecasting Company" had to say about a couple of things. Take a peek in and see what John said that brought more than just a smile to my face.

Carpe diem!

Ah Shucks!

Remember that old adage "The best laid plans of mice and men"? Well, I'm thinking here right now that it is pretty much the same in meaning as the mere mention of Murphy and his stupid law. Or, at least where blogger is concerned they are pretty much one and the same thing.

My plan tonight for my post was to put up a couple of photos of my grandchildren, taken recently when the older grandson was here one evening and he was being quite the little clown at that time. We got a couple of really cute pictures of him, as well as of the baby, both sporting this goofy wig that belongs to their Uncle Clate. However, try as I did to put the pictures on this post, Blogger apparently didn't like my choices or some such because they would attempt to load but were taking way longer to do that than I cared to wait. Sitting here, staring at the screen while the little logo goes round and round and says "Blogger is loading you photo" for ten minutes is just a little much for my patience level.

So I pitched that idea out the window and decided I'd have to go with just straight text.

And that's not really a good thing tonight because without the pictures, I really don't have a story. Now, isn't that just the pits though?

I usually don't do my blog post until late at night -about this time - mainly because during the day, there tend to be too many interruptions. I forget my train of thought easily enough without having to stop every five minutes or so to call out to Maya to "get out of Gram's room" or "Get out of that cupboard" (or the kitchen, or bathroom) -whatever area she's busy exploring. And trust me, Maya exploring around the house isn't usually all that good a deal -for the adults here at any rate. From her perspective, I suppose it's fine and dandy but she generally can manage to find something to get into that I really don't want to pick up later on.

Like the other day for a choice example. She was moving quickly (her norm) from one area to another and I heard her head towards the kitchen but by the time I heard her going in that direction and looked out there, it was too late. Quick as all get out, she had managed to open the cupboard below the sink, grab a bottle of "Mr. Clean" and when I glanced out there, she was poised over the sink, dumping what ever amount of the lemony-pine scented cleanser happened to have been in the bottle down the drain and just cackling big-time all the while she was doing that. Ok, that really wasn't a terrible trick there as it didn't result in a big mess to clean up. Gave the whole downstairs a really nice, clean smell to it too, it did. That was my day to consider myself lucky I guess. Usually, her trips to the kitchen often are because she has spotted that I have put dishes in the dishpan to soak and she loves to find something - anything will do - to dip in the dishpan and then, slosh the soapy water all about the kitchen floor.

The bathroom is one area we try to keep her out of though - mainly because no matter where things are placed in there, she usually seems to have a great sense of direction to find the stuff you DON'T want her to get into. One of her favorite things to snag in the bathroom is her big sister's makeup, which she dearly loves to mess with and then, present her sweet little self to the rest of the family with eyeshadow, liner, lipstick - whatever she can get her hands on - smeared all over her little face. She also has a big fixation with getting into the baby wipes too and bring a handful of those little wet tissue-type things out here into the living room and wipe down whatever happens to be handy. One thing she definitely doesn't do while exploring in the bathroom though is to consider using the facility for what it is intended to be used for. The mere mention to her of going in there for her to sit on the potty gets and immediate response of "Okay, okay. All done. All done." And that is usually the truth too - she's already "all done." Drat it all anyway!

Which reminds me inevitably of the days thirty some years ago when her uncle was about her age - actually, he was two, going on three, (she's going to be four come October) and I was about at my wit's end trying to potty train him. My ex used to tell me I was too easy on him because I would sit him on the potty chair, park it in front of the tv right after he'd had his breakfast between 8 and 9 a.m. and you could come by the house at virtually any hour then throughout the day and the boy would still be sitting there! (And that potty would be as empty at 5 p.m. as it was at 9 a.m. that day too.)

One day though, for some reason or other, old Dad was going to be home all day and I had a bunch of errands I had to run, so he had decided to prove his theory to me that I was too easy on the kid -letting him sit there, toys around him, tv on - and he would show me by having the kid all trained by the time I returned home.

Off I went, leaving Frank to work his wonders with the boy. When I got back several hours later, I asked how things had gone and he informed me he'd turned the tv off, taken all the toys away from him, moved the potty chair into the hallway, closed all the bedroom doors too so there was nothing to be seen there that would divert his attention away from the task at hand. Ok, so how'd that work for you then, I'd inquired of him and he informed me then "Well, the little so-and-so just sat there then and played with himself."

That was the first and last time Dad volunteered to teach the boy something that he thought he could get a point across to the kid better than my methods did.

Well, there was one other time when he tried to show the kid exactly what do to, how to use the commode, etc., but it's a tad bit too graphic to put into words in a blog so we'll pass on that story.
(It didn't work either, I might add.)

Today, the neighbor two doors over who was a beautician and who occasionally will come over and trim everyone's hair in the household was scheduled to have just such an event here. The son-in-law went first, the the 15-year-old, as well as a girlfriend of the 15-year-old who was visiting here yesterday and today. I got my mop snipped as did Mandy and the whole time, we were all trying to convince Maya that it sure would be great if she'd allow "Miss Karen" to trim her hair too. No way, Jose! She wasn't buying any of our arguments with her about how nice it would make her look, etc. Even when her mother was getting her hair trimmed and Maya commented "Mommy's getting the fashion with the hair" and we tried to appeal to her own vain side, she wasn't about to allow anyone to come near her with a pair of scissors!

Anyone got any suggestions on how to convince a child that age but with the other issues Maya has (autism) that a haircut is painless and a good thing? Feel free to toss your ideas out as who knows, someone else may come up with a good solution there for us.

Tomorrow and Friday, I'm going to have to do some extra cooking - it's the small family reunion weekend coming up. Because so few family members are going to be able to attend, I cancelled the reservations we had to use a little local parklet for the weekend and we will be getting together here at my home. But, since there will only be about 11-12 of us in all - that's including my kids and grandkids here -I won't be cooking near as much as I normally would be doing for our family reunion. Mandy has made arrangements to borrow a picnic table and a couple extra lawn chairs -provided the weather cooperates and we can have our lunch and supper out in the yard. If not, well my house is large enough to accommodate that many people here easily enough.

For me, this weekend will be a pretty bittersweet time as I think this will most likely be the end of the line for this family reunion. This will be the 58th reunion of my mother's father's family and over that 58 year period, I have only ever missed two of those reunions. It's always kind of been, for me, like having Christmas in late July with relatives all over the place but now, the family is so spread out across the country, too many of the younger generations are interested in keeping it alive and the older ones, of my generation, unfortunately are experiencing a lot of health problems and are no longer able to make the trip in for the event.

But a 58 year run isn't a bad thing you know. I'd love to be able to see it continue but really, it isn't feasible any longer to do that. Just the economics of gas prices, plus a motel room, added to the food costs, and before you know it, you've got a healthy chunk of cash going out there. Maybe after those few cousins who are coming here this weekend and my kids and I discuss this a bit, we might consider a continuation but to only have it every other year or perhaps every fifth year although with the interest levels what they are as well as the health concerns, I don't see that as being any better an idea than trying to keep it going every year either.

Those few of us who have hung in there with it over the years though will still try to find a way somehow where we can get together at least once a year. And, if now and again, some others of the family can join us, so much the better.

I'm trying to go into this weekend with the most positive attitude - no tears, ya know - I can possibly muster up so cross your fingers and hope for the best, will ya?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Courage - to know the difference

Linda, from "Are We There Yet" seems to think I deserve the "Courageous Blogger Award. I'm not sure if her thinking process is working at 100 percent with this one, as courage, by definition, isn't always something I am really overloaded with.

Courage is
the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery according to good old Webster's book of words. And I'll be really up front here and tell you when it comes to facing a dangerous situation, I'm not so sure I qualify there. Of course, I suppose it depends on what one considers to be dangerous but I don't think I've ever been in one where my life, limbs, have been out there on the edge. I'm sure as heck not complaining about that lack of happenings in my life though.

I've been in situations where I've been afraid - really scared, you know. Lots of times! From a time way back when I was a kid, playing in the neighbors yard with their son and while running around their house, I jumped over a snake laying there before I even realized what it was. Yeah, I was scared that day, for sure and so was Bobby, the kid I was chasing through the yard with too as he came to a screeching halt right in by the snake, kind of leaning forward as he stopped there, he looked about ready to topple over head first on top of it. We were both scared and were screaming to each other "What is it?" Ok, we weren't total imbeciles - we knew it was a snake -and a fairly long one too but what kind was it? As we took off down to their back porch, still screeching at the top of our lungs, "SNAKE, SNAKE" we about scared the living daylights then out of his older sister, Louise, who was sitting on the back porch steps painting her toenails and she jumped up with us, running into the kitchen, with all three of us almost giving their mother a heart attack.

Their Dad was laying on the couch, supposedly watching a baseball game on tv, but in reality, he was napping until we very rudely woke him up. His first question to all the ruckus was "Wha' happened? Did the Pirate get a home run?" No, no, Howard/Dad - we each were telling him there was this huge snake out in the yard and boy, he needed to come take care of it right then, right there. He gathered upself up, found his shoes and out he went to survey the situation and although he pronounced quite calmly to us that it was just a big old black snake and would hurt us, we weren't satisfied until he got a shovel and clobbered the poor snake and then, carried it down to the old chicken coop to dispose of it. Bobby and I repeatedly went down to that area throughout the rest of the day and until nightfall just to make sure it really was dead. Not really a "life or death" type situation but considering this area is known to produce rattlers and copperheads too and now and again, they venture out of the forest and into civilization so it could have just as easily have been a snake of that variety that had found its way into their yard too. Ok, the fact remains though, regardless of the type of snake it is, if I happen on one, I much prefer that it leave that area but not still breathing. My apologies to those who may think that is wrong, cruel of me, etc., but my theory is the only good snake is a dead one - always has been and always will be.

But what situations have I faced that could be deemed as requiring courage?

The first time I attended an Al-Anon meeting, yeah -I was nervous, a bit scared then until I learned the others there had all at one time felt exactly as lost as I was feeling that night. A little bit of camaraderie there I suppose came through to me from them and in short order, my fears were dispelled and I was fine. It was also one of the best moves I have ever made in my life too and I highly recommend that organization to anyone dealing with someone close to them who has a drug/alcohol addiction. It doesn't cure the issue with that person but it sure does help you to learn how to cope, how NOT to make a bad situation worse than it already may be.

The first time I gathered up enough nerve when my ex-husband told me he was leaving and I responded to him as calmly as I possibly could make my voice (which to me, felt like it was quaking and that I must have been shaking in my boots too) "Go ahead, be my guest." He didn't move out that time but sure did give me a very puzzled look as he was probably expecting me to just fall apart, beg him to stay, to tell him how much I needed him, etc. About two years later, same scenario, when I responded to him again with that same sentence, it was amazing then how calm, cool and collected I really was. And, that time, he followed through with his threat.

I was scared big time then - three children, a house with a mortgage, no job, a raggy old car that could barely make it out of town much less provide decent transportation for me to use to get back and forth to the closest area where I might be able to get hired - at the University - a 70 mile drive, round trip. But, I made a couple phone calls, got myself hired there on a part-time basis for a start. From there, I went to the car dealership where my ex had worked a couple years earlier, talked to the general manager who knew me, knew my ex, and bought myself a brand-new car - a 1979 Chevette! When I look back now on those days, I wonder sometimes how I did manage to survive, but I did it!

I worked by butt off over the years - always having a full-time job as well as a part-time job as an Avon representative and still trying to manage a budget with never enough funds to do much of anything but keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and at least enough clothes for the kids that we weren't relegated to wearing rags anyway. As my son says about those days now, he's glad he chose to stay with me and his sisters and proud to have grown up "on poverty row."

I was really terrified the first day I set foot on the Penn State Campus in my new role back in 1990 as a freshman student too. Heck, I'd been out of school for 28 years at that time and had no clue really what to expect with college level courses, just that I knew this was something I'd always wanted to do but had until that time, never been able to figure out a way to fund the education. That first day, I showed up on campus with all the books I'd had to purchase for the four classes I was taking in my backpack and lugged that heavy thing around the entire day. I figured out by the end of the day, you only had to take notebooks to the classes and you left the text books at home to pour over them when you got back there after classes were done. I should have lost at least 5 pounds that day from sweating so much carrying that heavy load around on a sunny, really hot, August day, but I never had that kind of good fortune - the weight just seemed to never want to go away! And, four years later, I walked across the stage at Eisenhower Auditorium to cheers from my daughters up in the "peanut gallery" and with my Aunt Mary, her son, Ken and his wife Laura, watching me - and Ken videoing that spectacular event. Yep, I was one very proud lady that day, for sure!

Do I have the courage of my convictions? (As that line goes.) Sometimes, I suppose I do, but not nearly enough times for that to make a difference. As I see it, I really haven't done anything spectacular as yet. Unless I really get a move on too and do something, anything maybe, I may miss the boat on that ideal as time is running down a whole lot faster now than it did back when I was 20, or 30, even 40 years old. Yeah, time really does fly and when you hit 60, sometimes it seems it must go whizzing by at the speed of light!

So, Linda -although I'm not so sure I've been all that courageous, I'll take your word for it and will display this with just as much pride as I hold for that lovely blue folder that contains my degree too from Penn State, or the photos I post from time to time of my children, my grandchildren, others important to my life as well. Because you see, without those things in my life, I really would have had nothing to attempt to be the least bit courageous for in the first place, now would I?

And I'll try to live up to the meaning of the word, or better yet, to use the Serenity Prayer perhaps as my guide.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Now, there's something everyone needs to use as a guidepost through life!

Wardrobe Wants or Needs?

Doing my normal blog visitations today, I went visiting a couple of sites where the writers were discussing wardrobe changes and such - also various and sundry other things -like reasons all too often we women steer clear or veer away from social ventures a lot of the time.

I don't exactly steer away from public things - if it's something I really want to take part in, I usually will go but a lot of time now, I worry about what to wear.

I have a closet full of clothes that I really do need to go through and weed out the items I absolutely will never be able again to fit into -at least not in this lifetime. That might take my wardrobe contents down a whole lot because most of the clothes in my closet were purchased several years ago and I have increased considerably in dimension over the past 3-4 years now.

What few things I do have that still fit however presents another problem and it's one I can't seem to figure out how to conceal this issue.

Weight is a problem and has become increasingly more so over the past year. Why does it all seem to accumulate too around the middle? I don't generally eat all that much, so aside from the fact that I acknowledge I spend way too much time in a seated position, does everything I eat seem to gear itself immediate to a permanent location in my stomach though? I mean, really - give me a break here, body. Compared to what most people ingest in a day's time, I really eat very little but it all seems to turn to flab immediately after being swallowed.

Now, to be a bit more specific about the clothing issues I'm having first, let me explain something. I've had three surgeries in the past four years -all involving the abdomen. The first was a colon resection to remove a malignant tumor in the colon. The second two years later was basically the same type of procedure except this was to re-route my urinary tract around a blockage in the right ureter. The third surgery, last fall, was a colostomy.

For anyone not familiar with a colostomy, it is when the surgeon pulls your colon away from its normal path and creates a new opening in the abdomen to which you attach a thing called either a wafer or a barrier and then, a bag is attached to that in which your body waste collects. It's not the greatest thing in the world to deal with but it does sure beat dealing with major pains and constant discomfort when your intestines don't function the way that they should.

However, the data the doctors and nurses give you when you have a colostomy and the instructions that come with the barriers and bags, etc., are quite misleading at times. Especially the part where it says the barriers and pouches are such that no one will "ever know" -it will not be detected that you have an artificial means of elimination of body waste on you.

Now, in my opinion, at least with my body shape, that is pure and simple, BALONEY!

First, because of the previous surgeries, my abdominal muscles have absolutely NO TONE. The flab just hangs there and that alone, is an annoyance. Then, there is the issue that not only does that cause a certain amount of protrusion of the stomach but for about a 3-4 inch radius around the location of the colostomy, there is a protrusion on top of the initial protrusion with the end result being the left side of my abdomen is totally lopsided!

Then, when you add to that the barrier attachement, presto magic, I now have what looks like a permanent snuff can on my abdomen!

No matter what clothes I manage to haul out from my closet, once I get it over my hips, across the abdomen, that darned "Snuff can" image still shows through! I makes no never mind what type of fabric it is, or how the slacks, shorts, dress, skirt, are designed either. None of it is conducive to hiding this contraption!

Although it has bothered me for a long time having the darned "pot belly" there to try and contend with, it usually didn't stop me from doing things, going places and the like. But this protrusion does tend to keep me out of the public eye so now I only go out where I feel I will be the least conspicuous.

Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining about having to have the colostomy. I don't LOVE it, but it does lessen so much the amount of pain and discomfort I had been having, that even if the doctor were to suggest a "reversal" of the colostomy, I would opt not to have that done. That is, not unless he could guarantee that the problems I had before would NEVER return and also, provided before stitching me up again, he'd dip in there and do a major liposuction of the many, many fat cells that have invited all their friends and family to take up residence along with doing something to "tighten" up some of the other loose ends there that just add to the appearance problems.

So, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to dress in a way that the fabric or design DOESN'T immediately cling to the "snuff can" -please feel free to give me some guidance there.

Yesterday, my friend Linda - who some of you may know as the "911 Dispatcher" - gave me an award for being what she considered to be a "courageous blogger." I'm honored that she thinks that of my posts but I'm not so sure I'm exactly what you would term "courageous." As I commented back to her post, sometimes I think I am a bit like Don Quixote and that I am just "tilting at windmills" too.

I have to give some thought now to a post about the "Courageous Blogger" award and get it up on my blog too. That's gonna take some wide-ranging thought there though!

Probably something I'll have to wait to do when I am alone and don't have a certain little almost 4-year-old princess bugging me every two minutes with a Barbie or Bratz doll in one hand and a different outfit to put on each and every one of these many little dolls (and twice as many outfits too) over and over again. She can take their clothes off but her "fine motor skills" aren't quite up to par to reclothing them and things like that then tend to easily frustrate her, which in turn, can really quickly lead to a major meltdown. And, I will go to whatever lengths necessary to avoid the meltdown scenarios!

So between her and the dolls and the clothes and the kitten who enjoys jumping up on the back of my computer desk chair which then inspires Miss Maya to chase Nina the kitten away, telling her "NINA! Get of the Gram!" -that's about the extent of my exciting life today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Running Out of Steam

Boy, that really does describe me lately. Just tired, very tired and feeling like I am running out of steam. No energy it seems to do the things I absolutely have to do and no energy in reserve to do any of the things I think maybe I'd like to do. I've been so low on energy of late, I don't even know what things it might be that I would really LIKE to do.

The latest news around the household though is something my daughter and I find really unsettling although the son-in-law is happy as a pig in a pile of doo-doo right now since his boss told him this past Friday that he is being laid off - probably for the next 5-6 weeks or so. The s-i-l thinks this will be fine in that he can do a bunch of other automotive work for folks on the side - kind of get the feel for what it would be like to have his own automotive repair and inspection shop someday. However, he has a tendency to overlook just how much cash is necessary to be brought into the house each month to keep things afloat and relying on people for car repairs they may want or need done, on a regular basis, may not be near as easy to do enough of those kind of jobs in order to cover the monthly expenses. I hope it all works out ok for him - certainly I do - and I can understand how much he would really like to be his own boss as well - wouldn't we all - but too, I just worry a good bit about how much he has really studied the book work part of running one's own business, etc.

For those of you who read my blog but perhaps have never given any attention to the list of blogs to the right of this page under my "favorites" list, I'd like to point out to you that I recently added two new blogs to that list.

The first new blog is this one - Whitterer-On Autism - written by a lady out in California who is orginally from England and who has four children - one grown daughter who lives away from California and the other three -a younger daughter and two small sons and the two boys are autistic. Maddy discusses things the boys in particular do and say - along with her responses to many of the things they bring up or act out on and all in all, it makes for a very good bit of reading there. Sometimes, the things the kids do and her reaction are really hysterically funny; other times, they are a bit on the sad, poignant side but always, they are very interesting. Whether people reading her blog are also dealing with an autism factor in their own life or just want to read someone else's take on life from a whole different perspective, check out Maddy's blog and see for yourself.

The other blog I added is one that is of personal interest to me because it is the blog written by a cousin's husband about their life and the changes taking place for them since they had their first child - a beautiful little girl - back in May. This is all about my cousin, Erika, her husband, Wade and their baby girl, Tori, and life for them as it exists down in Tennessee. Erika's dad is my first cousin, Ken and when I was a young-un, I usually spent at least a week, often longer than that every summer up at the house my Uncle (Cookie) and his wife (Aunt Mary) built for them and their four children. Me being an only child, spending that time with four rambunctious kids - like my cousins could often be when we were much, much smaller, younger, etc., was like giving me a little taste of what life would have been like for me, had I had at least a brother or a sister. I have so many fantastic memories of the time I spent at their home, the fun things we did -none of which involved activities that required payment -i.e. visits to amusement parks, movies, etc. My uncle was a school teacher and that was back in the days when teachers pay was notoriously LOW! He worked two jobs, year round just to build the roof over his family's heads, put food on the table and clothes on their backs and there was rarely any extra money left over then for any frivolous undertakings - not with four kids of their own and me hanging around there every summer too!

My uncle always had a huge vegetable garden every year. It was something he took much pride in too and always seemed to stand a little bit taller each year when my grandfather would be visiting as he would take Grandpa up and show him his garden. Grandpa too had always had a large vegetable garden too as long as I could remember when I was growing up and you could always see how happy and excited Cookie would be to show off all his plants, knowing full well, a small smile of approval and Grandpa's soft, low voice just saying "Very nice." meant so much to my uncle.

For me, since I usually would be at their house during the early part of August - about the time the tomatoes were ripening - it was a huge treat when for supper, my aunt would put a loaf -or two -of bread on the table, salt, pepper and a jar of mayonnaise and a huge plate of sliced tomatoes, freshly picked from Cookie's garden. That would be our supper and it was a feast for me as I loved then - still do - fresh tomato sandwiches!

Last fall, when that aunt died and my kids and I went up to the viewing or the funeral (my girls went to the viewing one night and my son and I went to the funeral the next morning) and in talking to those four cousins I learned that the youngest of those four kids, my cousin Becky, hadn't shared in my joy of the tomato sandwich suppers. Seems Beck was not a big fan, at all, of tomatoes so she had a different meal from the rest of us - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Apparently I was so excited back then over the tomato sandwich treat that I never even noticed that Becky didn't share the joy with the rest of us!

But I'm digressing here - talking about my aunt, uncle, their children, my childhood experiences with them. Check out Wade and Erika's blog - especially those of you reading this post who also are cousins of mine - and thus, of Erika too. They have posted some really cute photos of little Miss Tori, such a beautiful little girl but then, how could she not be after all, her Mama is one beautiful young lady too! On a side note, Erika is also a Penn Stater - just like me - and they are both big Penn State Nittany Lion fans, same as I am!

One little piece too about Miss Maya. This morning, Mandy and Maya got ready and went to church. I didn't make it up this morning because last night, Miss Maya's baby brother kept me awake until well after 3 a.m. today and he's been doing that a lot lately - staying awake until 2 or 3 a.m. While it's true enough that old Grammy here is generally a night owl, there have been several mornings though recently when others seem to have forgotten that Grammy is also not necessarily an early riser and so, some folks have taken to calling here between 8 and 9 a.m. Hey, much as I would normally probably love to chit chat with you early callers, I really wish you'd try to hold off until at least 9:30 before setting the phone lines afire.

Ok - so much for that -back to my story about Mandy and Maya going to church today. THis was the second time this summer now that Maya went to church -actually, it was the second time since a year ago in May that Maya attended church because she had suddenly last May developed a phobia about the church and would throw a screaming, kicking, hissy fit if we tried to take her there with us. So the fact that last month and again today, she went willingly and even behaved fairly well too - for Maya, that is - was a really good thing for us to see.

Mandy said this morning she was doing quite well - only had to take her out to the narthex once or twice during the service and then was able to return to their pew. That is until it came time to take communion. In our church, everyone can go to the altar when communion is distributed but children under the age of about 9 or 10 -who haven't yet had "first communion instructions" just receive a blessing from the pastor as he makes his way around the altar rail.

This morning, for Mandy the communion thing seemed to be going fine and dandy - no problems - until their table was dismissed to return to their pews and Maya decided she wasn't having any part of leaving the altar area. She apparently had a little bit of a hissy fit and told Mandy "Wan' stay at the red and white!" The "red" being the red plush carpet in our church and the "white" meaning the white altar rail - and she must have liked the combination and just wanted to stay there for the remainder of the service. When she threw her little hissy fit though, Mandy just hauled her back to their pew, gathered up her bag and departed the building then and there before she had a chance to get really wound up and do a mega "screaming mimi" type number!

And that's about it - all the excitement of my dull, boring life here in central Pennsylvania for today, for the past week. Maybe this week will hold a little more in that way of things to talk about.

The Week Ahead

Last week, I decided to try posting a week's worth of Bushisms at a time. For me, it worked VERY well because then I didn't have to remember to try to put a post up every single day!

There are some - particularly I suppose old friends who have known me since early grade school days who would laugh and say this can't possibly be true, can't be the person they think they know if I were to say here that for the most part this past week, I haven't really had anything to say. I had a reputation from first grade through 12th grade as being a talker - got "Whisper" checkmarks all through elementary school because it seemed I was unable to shut up. Ok, I admit, at times when I get on a writing roll, I can ramble -on and on -forever too - or so it may seem. But there are times when I just really don't seem able to put two and two together -as in words - to make a sentence that even begins to make sense. And the past week - well, it's been one of those type of weeks apparently.

So tonight, I'm gonna post here a week's worth of Bushisms -again.

Monday, July 23, 2007
"I understand small-business growth. I was one." - As quoted in the New York Daily News; February 19, 2000

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
"It's a myth to think I don't know what's going on. It's a myth to think that I'm not aware that there's opinions that don't agree with mine, because I'm fully aware of that." - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; December 12, 2005

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
"The important question is, how many hands have I shaked?" -Answering a question about why he hasn't spent more time in New Hampshire; as quoted in The New York Times; October 23, 1999

Thursday, July 26, 2007
"B ut Iraq has - have got people there that are willing to kill, and they're hard-nosed killers. And we will work with the Iraqis to secure their future." - Washington, D.C.; April 28, 2005

Friday, July 27, 2007
"But if you've been laid off work, you're 100 percent unemployed, and I worry about it." - Green Bay, Wisconsin; September 3, 2001

Saturday and Sunday, July 28/29, 2007
"And, most importantly, Alma Powell, secretary of Colin Powell, is with us." - Washington, D.C.; January 30, 2003

There they are folks. Read 'em and weep! Oh, that's what one says when playing poker isn't it? Why is it though somehow, I feel like I've been in a big, losing poker game for oh, say about 7 1/2 years now?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

For the Love of...

What do you love? No, not who, but what?

I am addicted to nicotine, caffeine, the tv that plays constantly (or almost.) That I tell time by it is my excuse for having it on all the time. I sleep with it too because it's my comfort thing - makes me feel I'm not alone. I'm also addicted to messing with the computer too - e-mailing, reading blogs, playing pogo games, once in a while I work on my research project too. (Haven't paid much attention to that of late and I really need to get myself regimented to working on that and getting it DONE! Sometime this decade at least!)

I'd love to be able to travel - a lot - and far away too - like all over this country, Canada, Europe. You name it and I sure wouldn't mind being able to travel to most any place if I had the money. But I don't have that so I really LOVE to check out blogs that have pictures (and text) pertaining to either the area where a particular blogger lives or places that person has been or wants to visit, etc. Take a trip vicariously in a virtual trip online maybe is my way of learning, of seeing some of the sights these old eyes will never see first hand.

I used to love to cook but for quite some time now, I've been rather bored with that -it's become a chore. And, I hate CHORES! Sometimes, I can judge a bit about my depression levels simply by my interest in cooking. If I'm digging into the myriad of cookbooks I have or surfing websites - like the Taste of Home's recipe site or Recipe Source, then I've usually got the depression thing pushed down fairly well, at least for a while.

This week, I did some extensive searching on the Taste of Home site and found a recipe that I thought looked good - sounded really easy too (and that's a prerequiste of ANY cooking I do) -so I printed it out and decided that Monday night our supper would be baked fish on a bed of seasoned rice with broccoli. Well, let me tell you right now, that's one meal that will never occupy my cooking time or grace my table ever again! The seasoning it called for in the rice - which was mixed with a can of chicken broth -was "Italian Seasoning" and Garlic powder. I generally use either or both of those seasonings a good bit in my cooking, so I figured ok, why not.

Why not, indeed! The flavor of the rice and broccoli with that seasoning just didn't appeal to either me or the stepgranddaughter! She actually liked the fish though but I didn't care for the combination after it was all cooked up.

Chalk that one up to the "never again" column.

Today, I thought I was in the mood for spicy food - really, really spicy - so I picked up ground beef, ground sausage, refried beans, tortillas and salsa and decided to make my own concoction of a cross between enchiladas, tacos and burritos. My son gave it a name but I don't remember now what he told Katie I should call it. This concoction definitely filled the bill as to the spicy aspect - VERY Spicy. VERY! Unlike really hot and spicy oriental food that will burn a bit when it gets to the back of your throat, this stuff was HOT as soon as it hit the tongue. Not bad, but not really all that good either (in my book), so I probably won't be trying to remember what all I put in it to make THAT dish again either.

I do tend to get a bit more experimental than usual in the kitchen in the weeks building up to our family reunion though - mainly in hopes of finding some new and really yummy dish to make and take to that gathering. I think this year I'll resort back to my old standards - some home baked Swedish Rye bread for one thing, a big casserole of ham and bean potpie (which my kids love) and depending on my energy levels next week, maybe I'll fix some bbq wings along with some kind of dessert.

Now, where was I going when I started this tonight asking about what people love? I really hadn't intended it to be about cooking but -well, you know how it is - I do sidetrack myself sometimes. (Only sometimes? LOL)

Actually, I was thinking along the lines of a blog I read earlier today - a really lengthy one (don't remember the name of the blog, or what I did with the referral to it either) but it was about books and in the author's opinion, the fact we have become such a "I want it NOW" type of society, instant gratification, instant information, etc., we have stopped having a love affair with books.

We pay more attention to the Arts - paintings, television, sometimes to movies - and we often shell out way more in the form of money for some of those things too than we would ever dream of putting out towards a book purchase. This writer felt that often artists -those who paint and are successful with their talents, command big prices for their work, -too often people look at art and make it a status symbol and the value of the artwork itself becomes over-inflated, etc.

The writer even expanded further that the fact all too many today seem to bypass reading it causes many other areas of our lives to be reduced, to malfunction, to create a lack of imagination in kids and adults alike then. And, because so many are loosing the desire to read a good book, it affects our base comprehension of society as a whole too because reading provides many more insights into how others live and function than a tv show or movie can provide.

Reading really gives one the opportunity to not just meet people much, much different than we are, but it affords the chance to get a better understanding of how others function, how they exist, of problems that may otherwise be unfathomable to us otherwise.

And, I may not agree 100% with what this writer's take was about reading but I do agree with the bulk of the points put forth there.

I do LOVE to read!

I always have, from the time I started school, been a huge fan of books.

From the time my children were very small, I was an advocate for reading -anything and everything! It worried me greatly with my older daughter because early on, she had problems with reading and her grades were really poor in that category. Because reading -books especially, but magazines, newspapers too - were all high on both my list as well as my ex-husbands (that and politics were often the only things we did agree about) -we were both very upset and worried about the girl and the reading problems.

So, we told her in second grade when this began to surface, to bring her reading assignments home and one of us would sit with her, work with her on this. Imagine my shock when she said they weren't allowed to bring their readers home. I called the school and spoke to the principal about this and he verified to me that she wasn't fibbing. He said it was because of two things - one, they didn't have enough books to go around and two, because "the children then tend to read ahead."

Yes, you read that sentence right. How ridiculous a response was that? Needless to say, I was furious because after all, this school had implemented what was called an "open classroom" atmosphere in which kids from several age groups were put together in their classes - kind of the same type deal as was in effect when I was in grade school where there were always two grades in every room. Often, if you were in the lower grade then, got your work done in class, you could learn ahead simply by paying a little attention to the coursework the teacher was covering with the higher grade level. Well, at least that was how it worked for me anyway.

I fought that entire year with our school administration about my daughter's problems. They even went so far as to call in a psychologist from Penn State to come and evaluate her for learning disabilities or some such and that guy told me I was her problem in that I was expecting her to read the way I had as a child. Now that made me even more livid! Granted, I would have been happy - and proud too - if she had been as avid a reader as I've always been - but my theory was then, still is, if you can't read properly, then it will eventually affect the way you comprehend all other subjects in school too.

That summer when my daughter was between 2nd and 3rd grade, she attended a "remedial reading" summer program at the school. However, as much as I appreciate the need for kids to see things of a cultural nature and learn from them as well as from books, the trip to the Zoo at Pittsburgh, or to East Broad Top railroad about 70 miles from here and learning other things, such as how to read a thermometer, indoors and outdoors, were all nice, important things too but where was the "remedial reading" she was supposed to be getting? As far as I could see, it was virtually non-existent.

My Dad's youngest sister -a teacher - was still teaching at that time - 2nd grade, no less - and I had grumped -now, correct that - I had BITCHED majorly to her about my dissatisfaction with the learning process at our school. My aunt took the girl aside, sat with her for about 15-20 minutes one day and had her read from a 2nd grade level reader and after which, she told me the whole problem with the girl was that she didn't understand phonics and therefore, couldn't sound a word out. My aunt then offered to tutor her for the rest of the summer and so, three times a week, for roughly and hour to 90 minutes, I would take my daughter to my aunt's home and they would work away on improving the kid's reading.

And, it worked too! When she returned to school that fall, she had developed a new interest in trying to read. At the grocery stores, she was reading the little ad things under products, reading ingredients on boxes and such. At home, she was taking an interest in reading the books she already had on hand too. And this went on for the first several weeks of that school year. And the first grading period, her grade was very much improved. When I went to see the teacher for her conference, she told me they had decided - the administration that is -that my daughter was doing much better that year because they had switched teachers on her so that the one she had for reading the year before, she now had for math and the previous year math teacher was now her reading teacher and she was responding much better to the instructors and the materials because of that. By the end of the second grading period though, the change in teachers must have lost its appeal though as the girl's grades began sliding, she began to lose interest again in reading and the problems returned. It wasn't until she was in the 5th grade and the teacher she had that year was a stickler about reading and enforced very stringent reading requirements that the daughter had someone who pushed PROPER reading to her again. I never did tell the school that the reason my daughter's reading had improved, even if only on a fairly short-lived basis at that time, was due to the fact she had a teacher who really worked with her on it, helped her to improve her skills.

Today, my daughter is still not what one would call a really good reader - she's a slow reader, often has problems comprehending the text and has to re-read things to get the full meaning. But aside from that, she has become a very avid reader over the years. She rarely is without a book that she has found, has an interest in and I do think the fact that she had the problems to begin with she has an approach to her son about reading very much akin to what her father and I had with her - READ, READ, and then - READ some more! Take a trip around the world and never leave the comfort of your chair!

That's always been my theory - also the ex's too - that reading affords so much opportunity. It opens up so many new, interesting, exciting things to us. How can anyone NOT love it, NOT love books? Anyone who has any type of reading problems, my heart aches for that person and the difficulty they may have trying to read. But, please don't give up on it. Learning how to read with various learning disabilities may be difficult, cause one to want to give up, toss in the towel, but don't let that idea win out over you. Keep plugging away because once you learn ways to compensate for the disability factor, the sheer joy of reading will at least try to move in for you.

I probably have a view that is way too simplistic about that but regardless, I still believe it is the very most important tool we can ever acquire and use - because it helps us in every other aspect of our lives and what's more, it's also a whole lot of fun!

'Nuff said for tonight!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mixed Bag of Tricks

Yesterday, several of my blogger friends were getting hit - and responding - to the "Moaning Meme." No, I'm not doing it - just that some of those posts and another one on a favorite blogger's space got me to thinking about some things. Mainly, politics.

Now, when I get thinking - I mean really THINKING, with respect to politics, what happens is that I tend to feel really confused -not just about the way our politicians operate, but how and why I feel the way I do about some issues. I get a bit convoluted not just in my writing but in my thought processes too.

So, let's look at some of my inner thoughts here then.

First, here's simple one -maybe - Gun Control. Ok, if you know me, you also know I worked for the NRA for several years back in the 60's, early 70's. When I went to work there, I had no clue as to many of the NRA's stance on things. Here I was, a youngster really (only 19 years old), a dyed-in-the-wool (or so I thought) Democrat, liberal to the max, relatively a feminist, pro-union person whose hero had been JFK and I had this theory then that gun control could have prevented his assassination. I did, while working there, change my views considerably about gun control. I didn't believe then, still don't either, that gun control is the total answer to a lot of society's ailments. Remember the adage, "Guns, don't kill people; People kill people?" Well, I do believe gun control won't change that element there.

But, think about this too - we register our cars don't we? If one believes guns kill people, then one has to also believe that cars kill people - right? Well, now we know that people driving cars, people using guns - are the culprits here. However, we use car registrations, driver's licenses as a means to track cars when they've been stolen, or driver's licenses at times, to track people too. What's wrong then with having gun registration as a means then to aid in tracking guns when they are stolen? I know - this is a probably a bit more simplistic the way I see things than the way things really may be, but that's my thought there. I have no problem with registration of cars, no problem in my mind for registering guns then either but boy, tell that to some people who are gun enthusiasts, etc.! But then, I have another problem too and that's with the types of guns some people like to have as well. I mean, really - how many oozi's does a person really need? Or machine guns? Are they an absolute necessity to living a great life? Ok, I'm not into collecting guns, so naturally I am going to feel that way. But I just think a lot of the gun issue could be toned down a bit from all sides in the matter too. And yes, I know there's more to it than just registration as some feel the government would then try to confiscate their guns if they knew who had this or that type and how many, etc. Do they have a valid point there? Perhaps, it's possible. I would sincerely hope our government wouldn't resort to actions like that.

The next three issues - well they aren't related but yet, depending on how you look at them, they are: Abortion, Death Penalty, Assisted suicide, The War. They all have death in common, don't they? But in different methods.

I am pro-choice. Now, I don't believe in abortion as a means of birth control - which some people do at times, use it in that manner. For myself, I am of an age where I no longer have to be concerned about birth control - for me. Had abortion been freely available to me when I was, it's highly unlikely I'd ever have chosen that route unless it was truly a major medical emergency. But, and here's the rub, I suppose, I also don't believe women should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy either - if they believe they are unable to handle it or to cope with it. WHo am I to tell someone else what level of stress that person can handle? I don't know some days how much stress I can handle so how could I force my choices onto another person? I don't want to see women boxed into a situation where they are forced to choose backroom type abortions again, nor do I want to see people forced into trying to self-administer an abortion either as these can be sure-fire methods of self-destruction too. Each person should be able to make a choice, a reasonable, intelligent choice, made after being made aware of all options, of having been given other avenues that could help if she decides to have the child too. Then if she still believes abortion is the only answer, if she truly in her heart and mind feels she knows herself, her body, her mind well enough to be able to live with the decision, she should have the means to acquire one in a safe environment. It is a tricky element as it does mess with the mind - emotionally, spiritually - and good counseling is really a much needed element to this issue.

The death penalty - this is one that I think boy, someone who commits a really horrendous crime should get the death penalty for that. Well, at first I may think that. But then, after mulling things over, it gets really confusing when one looks at this from the Biblical perspective because you have things at odds right there. On one hand, we hear "An eye for an eye." and on the other, "Turn the other cheek." Ok, I've never been in a position as a victim of a crime or a relative of someone who was the victim or even really known anyone in that position, so maybe my thoughts would lean to the "eye for an eye" if that were a personal thing for me. But, really - does killing another person bring the victim back as a whole person again? And, if someone has committed a really atrocious crime, and they are executed, does it really bring peace of mind to friends and family - I mean, really and truly, a calmness, serenity, peaceful frame of mind? I really think when one is that adamant for the death penalty to be carried out, the rage there is so severe that the so-called desired peace will be a momentary thing and the rage will take over again. But really confuses me even more with the abortion and death penalty advocates is that on one hand, they are adamant about abortion is "killing a child" but yet, they don't seem to realize that the death penalty also kills someone's child too - just in the adult form. I can't quite follow the incongruity there but then, some would say my ideas about abortion and death penalty are just as convoluted too - and perhaps they are. I dunno.

Assisted suicide - yes, I know there are those who feel Dr. Kevorkian should have been jailed and the key thrown away in a deep swamp or the ocean or whatever and he should never go free. However, when someone is stricken with an illness for which there is NO cure, a really crippling illness that affects body, mind, etc., and creates unimaginable pain to the person, if that person has reached a decision they no longer want to deal, no longer want to fight an impossible battle, do not want to die a very undignified death, should we, as a society really force them to continue to live and suffer? For myself, if I had health concerns like that and really felt I couldn't keep going, couldn't keep on dealing with those problems, I would very much appreciate knowing there were doctors who were able and willing to make my exit come about in a more peaceful type of setting. I would not want to be kept alive on a machine. I wouldn't want to be kept around either if my mind and body were not functioning "together" - as a whole entity.

And then, there's the topic of War - or, as it affects us in this country today - "The War." Why are we even involved in trying to force our way of life on other nations? If they have a dictatorship and don't want it, and enough people join forces to over throw that government, then do it. If they ask for our help, and we agree to "help" - not fight their battles for them, not become an unwanted presence there, that is one thing. But, just because we here may feel we have the best form of government - a democracy, etc - perhaps other groups do not agree and if we truly believe in our tenets - freedom of choice - then apply that theory to other countries too and give them the freedom to choose as well.

And, what is war anyway but ultimately a legitimate means of killing! (Well, depending I suppose on whether you think a war is "legitimate" to begin with.")

I really resent people too who say if I don't support our government in the War in Iraq, I am being unsupportive then, unpatriotic towards our troops. Excuse me? I fail to see where because I don't believe our government has the right to go tromping in and attacking others is a good thing but, when people who are a part of our military are sent there, who feel they must go for a personal reason or because the government has said they must, I pray for their comfort, safety, that they return home soon, intact. I don't believe they should be there in the first place but - if they are in harm's way, then see to it they have their needs provided for there and also, when they return home too . One would think that those who believe so fully in this war as being a necessity, would turn to history and read about how well things worked out in Vietnam too - or Korea, for that matter. Have those lessons all been totally lost, forgotten in the mix? Sometimes, it does appear that way - at least to me.

Now, I know that my ideas, theories, etc., solve nothing. I'm still just as confused - and confusing too - as I was before. What a conundrum though isn't it?

Yep - truly is a "mixed bag" in my book -and some tricky stuff going on there too.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Coming Week

At least for this week, I'm going to post the Bushisms that apply here all in one post. Do it on a Monday and possibly continue doing it that way. I dunno. I can sometimes be really flexible, then other days, really rigid so for right now, I applying my "flexibility" side. Yeah, right!

But anyway, here they are.

Monday, July 16, 2007
"I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you're a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I --concerned." - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; December 12, 2005

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"We've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them, and I want to know who the leakers are." - Chicago, Illinois; September 30, 2003

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." -Washington, D.C., September 21, 2003.

THursday, July 19, 2007
"Now, there are some who would like to rewrite history - revisionist historians is what I like to call them." - Elizabeth, New Jersey; June 16, 2003

Friday, July 20, 2007
"I've changed my style somewhat, as you know. I'm less --I pontificate less, although it may be hard to tell it from this show. And I'm more interacting with people." -Meet The Press; February 13, 2000

Saturday and Sunday, July 21, 22, 2007
"The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas.: - To a Slovakian journalist; as quoted by Knight Ridder News Service, June 22, 1999. (Bush's meeting was with Janez Drnovsek, the prime minister of Slovenia.)

And, that's the quotes - I didn't make these up - but some "shrub" did!

Another of "Those" Days

I didn't get near enough sleep last night - couldn't seem to wind down, restless, wide awake, tossing, turning - all that good stuff. So when I did wake up around 8 a.m., I knew my system wasn't anywhere near ready to "rise and shine" and get ready to go to church.

I rolled over and drifted off to sleep -still restless though -and finally got up close to 10 a.m.

And that's when it happened.

Mandy uttered those words I REALLY hate to hear coming from her mouth.

"Is anyone going to help clean this house today or do I have to have it looking such a mess tomorrow when the therapist comes?"

I hate it when she gets on a cleaning binge. Hate it. Hate it. HATE IT!!!

Probably because it reminds me way too much of myself back when all three of my kids were still at home and I had one day to try to get things somewhat straightened up here so I would try to get my kids to kick in and give me a hand.

And, I will say one thing though - Mandy has Bill, Kate - even me - much better trained in that department than my kids were back then.

I was lucky in one respect --she pretty much left me alone because she knew I had to finish putting together a casserole dish to take to the potluck supper at our church tonight. It was either give me the flexibility to do that or SHE would have had to make it and she's not that gung ho about cooking. Plus, she doesn't fully know how to make the ham and bean potpie casserole she had asked me to fix to take to the dinner.

Suffice it to say though the days when these cleaning binges hit Mandy's fancy are not the most pleasant times to be in this house. We all survived but not without a few frayed nerves in the process.

I got my potpie made, ready to go. Cleaned out the refrigerator and rearranged stuff in there to make things more visible so leftovers might just get used up instead of getting shoved around and then, when found later, they have thick moss growing on them. I hate it when that happens.

The dinner tonight was sort of a two-fold event. It was sponsored by our Youth Group as a means to thank the congregation for the support they received to make their recent trip to Taylorsville, North Carolina where they spent a week doing community service type work helping folks to spruce up their homes. The stepgranddaughter here was one of the kids who had worked to help raise enough money for the group to make this trip and she said she had a very enjoyable time down there too. The kids each spoke, telling those present at the dinner the things they did, about some of the people the met and what they did for some of them.

The other part of the dinner was to show support of a member of our church who will be leaving to go to the Northwest Territory up in Canada to do a Bible School program there later this month. This is the second trip she has made there through the organization known as "On Eagle's Wings" and the lady making that missionary effort is truly one remarkable woman. For openers, she's 75 years YOUNG. She certainly doesn't look that age, definitely doesn't act it either. When she described some of the conditions she will be working in to do this Bible School there, it really is quite an incredible thing that she is doing. I've known her for well over 50 years now and back when I was in high school, she and her first husband were often the leaders of our church youth group then -or the Luther League, as it was then called. She's always been a pretty awesome lady in my book but what she's doing now I find it absolutely amazing and very noteworthy a venture on her part! Hats off for sure to you, Joan Fetter!

After the dinner, I had planned to go to a funeral viewing - something I don't relish under what I would call "normal" circumstances. But this one today, had me really upset.

You see, it was for a 13-year-old boy from a neighboring village who was struck by a car last Tuesday night and he died from the injuries. Now, I didn't know the boy - had only seen him a couple of times at most but I know his mother, his oldest sister, his grandparents, several others who are related to him. I worked with his mother many years ago. As it turns out, the lady who hit him, well - I knew her too. She worked for me a few years back at the truckstop restaurant where I used to be assistant manager. I can't begin to feel the pain either of these women - the mother, the driver - have to be enduring at this time and my heart totally goes out to both of them, as well as to the rest of his family. All I can say there is that if something happened to one of my children, to one of my grandchildren now, I would be a complete and utter basket case, for sure.

Well, I went up to the church where they were having the viewing and drove right on by, circled around and came back home without going in. THe reason being the traffic was so heavy, the parking area around the church was packed (and they have a very, very large parking area) plus the parking area in the school's parking lot across the road was rapidly filling up too. People were lined up 3 and 4 deep stretching from the sanctuary to the narthex of the church and out into the parking area in a huge long line, waiting to pay their condolences to the family. I knew upon seeing that many people in line my legs, my back would no way hold up to standing like that and I figured too that with that many people, the boy's mother or other family members really didn't need to have one more person coming through today.

I stopped on the way home then at a restaurant/bar to talk to a good friend who I knew was there this evening. She's still recuperating from neck surgery from a work-related injury and I wanted to see how she - and her mother too - were both doing now. After visiting with her awhile, as I drove on home, I noticed my neighbor up the street from me had just arrived home too from the church supper. She had left the supper before the kids' program was finished and I figured she'd left so she could go to the viewing too because I know she is best of friends with the grandmother of the boy. I stopped and chatted a few minutes with her and she told me she had been in line for well over two hours before getting into the church, up to the family! She said she thought just about everyone from all the surrounding little villages here had come forward to extend their sympathy to all the family members and that really is one of the best things about growing up in a small, rural type community as this one is. When something happens to a family here, it is generally thought of as an event that hits and affects everyone and people come together, in a definite show of love, concern and support.

On a good note here - for a change, huh - tonight when we went to the dinner, Miss Maya didn't fuss at all when the van pulled into the church parking lot; she didn't raise any stink about going into the church either. At the meal, she sat up to the table and ate a good portion of the spoonful here and there of various dishes I thought she would most likely eat too. After she was finished eating -and announced to us "All done. All done." she took off then in search of the piano in the Sunday School room where we hold our dinners and began to plunk away on the keyboard there. Eventually, she was starting to get tired, wanted to be up front with her big sister, Katie too and by that time, the baby was being a bit disruptive too- not crying and fussing but just doing his own form of "talking" which with him means making a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of noise. So, Mandy had Bill take the kids home and she and Katie then rode back to the house with me.

And now, I think I will call it a day too -it's been a long one and tomorrow is going to be more of the same - long days, ya know!

Please say a prayer in your heart though for Jacob - the boy who was killed - and for his family -parents, sisters, grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins - to give them the strength to pull together and try to go on.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Here's to You, Mr. B.

Reading various other bloggers posts this morning, my favorite graduate student down in Alabama had something in her Friday Feast today that struck a chord with me. She was talking about a boss she had who she considered to be a great role model and that reminded me of "Mr. B" - what all of us used to call our boss way back when I worked in D.C. for the wonderful National Rifle Association.

When I was hired at that organization, "Mr. B" was the Director of Administrative Services which meant he was responsible, ultimately, for every inch of the organization's operations, although initially, he was not my direct supervisor as I started out as a lowly "clerk typist" in the Membership Division as part of the area that took care of all Club operations for NRA clubs across the country.

After working in that section for about a year or so, the NRA converted their membership files from using a Remington Rand set-up over to a huge IBM computer and I transferred into the "data entry" section as an operator. I "Slaved" there for around three years. I use the term "slaved" there very loosely though. Granted the wages were not the greatest but I liked the work and we seemed to always be swamped, so I put in loads and loads of overtime so we could make our end-of-the-month runs on deadline. Our figures for memberships processed each month had to match up with the money the accounting office said had come in to the organization when they closed out their monthly accountings. It could be very stressful work sometimes to process as many memberships as we received each month, but the people I worked with there made the job a lot of fun while we pushed on to get the work done!

Around about the end of 1969, I was having some work related issues with the woman who was over the data processing unit and went to Mr. B and asked if he had any openings in his section where I could transfer over to as I really liked working for the NRA, didn't want to leave, but was very uncomfortable with working for that particular woman.

He immediately offered me a position to handle all his correspondence - dictation and purchase orders as well as putting me in as a trainee to handle a new section they had just formed called "Coupon Awards." I accepted it and thus began a really great employment experience.

The majority of the offices in the NRA operated with a fairly casual, open relationship between the managers and the workers and being in Adminsitrative Services working for Mr. B was really no different. We often referred to him, even addressed him directly too by his first name -Bill -and just as frequently, we also referred to him as "Big Daddy." After the old tv sitcom hit "All in the Family" came out, because Bill had a lot of physical characteristics like the actor, Carroll O'Conner, and he also could at times be just as bullheaded as the character on that show, Archie Bunker, we sometimes called him "Archie" too! And, he took all of these names in stride, even at times, taking pride in being compared to "Archie." (I said he was a really good boss and a lot of fun to work for and with but I never said he was perfect or an angel, did I?)

One thing I learned early on in working for Bill, he was terrible at dictation! Trying to make heads or tails out of what he was trying to say on the tape in response to various letters he had received, sometimes was about enough to drive a person to drink! He had more oo's and ahs and um's and you name it changes and such in his dictation, that I started studying how he was handling various types of problems being addressed so I understood what was going on better and then, I started to "edit" his letters. When I first started to do that, when I would take the correspondence into him for his signature, I would point out where I had "edited" -the changes I made and why - and before long, he would just say on the tape about many of the letters he wanted done, "Just tell 'em what I mean there Dummy cause you know what I'm trying to say." (And yes, he often called those of us with whom he felt he had an easy enough relationship at work, lovely little pet names - "Dummy" or "Toadie" or "Gopher." Although I suppose some people might take offense at nicknames like that, if Bill called you a name like one of those to your face, it was kind of like a badge of honor, not an insult. Because if he didn't like you very much, he tended to not really talk that much then to those people. You always knew when he said something to you if he was just teasing or if he was really upset, you could definitely tell the difference there!

In retrospect, with all the 'politically correct' stuff everyone is always carping about these days, the atmosphere of that office would never fly today! NEVER! And, that would be a shame because we all actually worked very well together, got things done quickly and rarely had any issues amongst the staff, much less with Bill.

He loved nothing better than to regale us with jokes too - some just funny jokes, others often a bit ribald too. And he also very much enjoyed pulling practical jokes on whoever he possibly could too! He had no problems with the staff "getting even" either with respect to the practical jokes, as long as the work was done, finished properly and no one got hurt in the process.

I remember one Monday morning coming in to work and being a bit on the testy side because I had gotten a ticket the day before from a Montgomery County motorcycle policeman. He claimed I had been travelling 45 mph in a 25 mph speed zone and I know darned well I sure as heck was not driving that fast. And, as I told Bill, I planned to contest that ticket too. Bill asked how I knew I hadn't been speeding and I explained it to him. First off, I was driving in Montgomery County and wasn't really all that familiar with the streets there, therefore, I would have been driving slower. My mother was with me, sitting in the "shotgun" seat, holding my daughter who was about three years old at the time and Mom didn't have her left leg braced on the floor boards, didn't have her right arm braced on the dashboard plus, she wasn't leaning across, glancing at the speedometer and yelling at me to slow down, that I was going too fast. And, finally, my car wasn't shimmeying either! (That car begin to shimmy as soon as you approached 40 mph!) Bill wished me luck with that logic when I was going to go before the judge in traffic court and I went to my desk and started working.

The next day when I came into work, there on my desk was a black and white promotional type photo of Richard Petty and written across the front of it were the words "To my good friend and great driver, Jeni" and it was 'signed' Richard Petty. Now, I didn't know diddly squat at that time as to who the heck Richard Petty was but one of the other secretaries there told me he was a very well-known race car driver. I knew of course this was not from this Richard Petty person anyway though because I recognized Bill's handwriting immediately.

Now, that was a fun joke in our section of the office and I proudly displayed that picture on my desk. A few days later though when I went back to the Accounting office and a girl who worked back there asked me about that photo and if I did really know Richard Petty.

If I see an opening to further a practical joke, it is not beneath me to lie and I saw a fish on the hook then and there so I told her yes, we went way back and in fact, I used to be engaged to him! I should add here too that anyone with a lick of common sense would HAVE to recognize how preposterous that statement was, but good old Rosemary bit - hook, line and sinker! So for months after that, the other secretary, Bill and I often tossed out more little lies when Rosemary was around about my former, so-called relationship with the great Richard Petty.

Another time, Bill called me into his office and asked me "Is there some particular reason why Barbara (one of the typists ) has clear finger nail polish on her neck?" So, I had to explain to him what I had done there too and why. Barbara had come in that morning with a lovely hickey on her neck - big, plain as the nose on your face too but she was trying to find something to use to conceal it. So, being the kind, generous soul I am, I told her if you put clear fingernail polish on them, it will draw the blood to the surface and the bruising will go away. I thought Bill was going to split a gut laughing over that one. He, like the rest of us in the office, was amazed to think she was dingy enough to believe a line like that.

One summer, as he was leaving the office late on a Friday afternoon - he reminded us that he was going to be gone for two weeks - on vacation with his family at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and he very sternly told us he didn't want any of us to be camping out -for any reason at all -in his office while he was gone. As a matter of fact, he told us there had best be cobwebs growing in the doorway to his office, on his chair, across his desk and phone when he returned to work in two weeks too.

And, you know what? When he came back into work that Monday morning, bright and early, there was a huge cobweb strung across his doorway, another big one across his chair, one on the desk from the phone to the other end of the desk as well as some smaller ones hanging in various spots around his office too! The cobweb in his doorway even sported a nice big, ugly as sin, paper mache spider too! He looked around at all that and asked us if we had managed to get any "real" work done while he was on vacation? You bet we had - in addition to making all those spider webs and spiders and carefully hanging them, we still had all the work up to date as well!

In the spring of 1970, Bill approached me and asked if I would be interested and willing to be sent to Phoenix, Arizona to work for the month of July and also for the entire month of October out there doing data entry for the 10th U.S. International Shooting Championships in July and for the 40th World Shooting Championships which the NRA was hosting there in October. Would I? Man, I jumped at that opportunity! And, so I worked with a guy from the programming section of the NRA to set up the way the data would be entered and the way the reports would be generated and we both got sent out to Arizona for two very hot but also very fun filled work assignments.

Bill and I had differing opinions on several things - politics, unions, baseball - just for openers. Bill was a staunch Republican, very much conservative in his beliefs pertaining to politics, etc. He also disliked unions immensely. We used to joke that the NRA was the bastion of Republican ideals, conservative to the max especially with respect to salaries, extremely anti-union and would tell Bill - to his face -that he really fit in perfectly there. I, on the other hand, have always been a Democrat and was very, very liberal back then. I was also a bit of a feminist too - no, I never burned my bras but I did support equal rights for equal pay and the like. I also grew up hearing about how wonderful unions - in particular the United Mine Workers and John L. Lewis were too. Oh -and the baseball - I've always been a Pirates fan, loved the National League and hated the American League teams - especially the Yankees. As you've probably guessed by now, Bill was an American League fan. And, he also worshiped President Nixon and considered him and V.P. Agnew as his "highway heros." Several of us frequently ragged Bill with jokes about never buying a used car from Nixon, etc.

While we were in Phoenix in July, the time came for the All-Star ballgame to take place. The evening it was being broadcast, the programmer guy (Earl) and I were in Bill's room, waiting for him to shower, shave and get dressed because he was taking us all out to supper that night. Earl and I had the All-Star game tuned in on the tv and were under orders to try to keep a blow-by-blow description running as to what was happening in the game to Bill while he was shaving and dressing in the bathroom. At one point, someone from the National league got a good hit and the crowd was cheering loudly -which Bill could hear that noise and he called out to us -"What's happening?" I told him and his response was "Oh those damned dummies! They don't know what the heck they're doing!" Because President Nixon was also in attendance at the game and I noticed he was applauding that earlier play there, I made a comment to Bill that "Well, your hero there, Tricky Dick, seems to think it was a darned good play." And his retort to that was "Oh Hell, he doesn't know what he's doing either!" After he said that, he immediately opened the bathroom door, stuck his face out (shaving cream over most of it) and sheepishly he said to me "I'm never going to live that comment down now, I suppose."

Quite right Bill! Thirty seven years later, I've still not forgotten you said that!

Those are just a couple small examples of the type of fun and games we had going on back and forth at work back then.

Bill was a great boss - taught me many, many things about the NRA, about work in general, about people. I loved working there but even more, I loved, totally enjoyed, working for him. He was a terrific boss, he really was.

When I left there in 1972 and my ex-husband and I moved here, back to my home area, Bill and I maintained the great friendship we'd developed over the 8 years I had worked for the NRA. He often wrote me letters, called to check up on how we were doing, to fill me in on news about so many people I'd come to know while working there. And, he even played practical jokes on me for years after I'd been away from the place.

When V.P. Agnew resigned from office, my son was just a baby at that time and I'd just sat down to feed him and figured I'd watch some of the soap operas on tv while doing that when the news bulletin about his resignation flashed on the screen. And, all I could do was sit there and keep telling myself to stay away from the telephone. DO. NOT. MAKE. A. LONG. DISTANCE. PHONECALL! Okay, I managed to stay clear of the phone for about an hour and then, I just couldn't contain myself. I called Bill, disguised my voice on the phone and when he got on the line, in the softest, sweetest voice I could muster, I asked him what happened to his "good buddy, Spiro T?" It took him a little bit before he realized who it was that was calling him and he just started to laugh then!

When he retired in 1992 as Treasurer then of the NRA, I got a call from one of the executive office secretaries in charge of planning his retirement party and was invited to return to D.C. to attend that function. I was also asked to make a few comments about Bill too - which I did! My gift to him at that party was a copy of the term paper I'd done that semester for a Labor Relations course I was taking about Unions. I'd done that paper in a make-believe dialogue between Bill and me with him explaining how it was beneficial for big business to relocate work to other countries, thus creating mega job losses here (specifically in the auto industry at that time) and me countering each of his explanations. I wrote it exactly the way Bill would have spoken to me too, even using some of the "pet" nicknames, like "Dummy" etc. My professor loved it! Gave me a A+ for the paper and I told Bill as I handed it to him, I owed that A+ all to him for having been a really great boss and a terrific friend over the years.

Sadly, Bill passed away last spring. I wasn't able to leave her to go down to D.C. for his funeral but I wished I'd been able to be there to tell him one last good bye.

I've used more of what Bill taught me over the short two plus years he was my direct supervisor than just in work settings though. He was a tough boss in that he wanted things done and they'd best be right. But he was also a great boss with the way he led us always with so much humor as well as compassion many times too.

Every job I've held since I moved back to PA those thirty five years ago, I have compared, point by point, to Bill and not a single one of them has ever been able to hold a candle to the type of boss he was.

He was more than just an employer, a boss, a mentor to me. He was indeed, a true friend - one whose memory I will carry with me the rest of my life.

Here's TO you, Mr. B!