Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wonderful Women of the Web!

If you look to the right of this page, in my sidebar, you'll see I have added another picture there tonight. Just like this picture on the left of this post's page.

This one came to me via Mother's Pride -a very friendly, also very busy of five daughters somewhere in Great Britain. (I think I have the count right - you did say "five girls" in your lot, didn't you?

Anyway, I came across her blog fairly recently - don't recall exactly when -or even how I found her place, but after reading a few of her posts, I liked her blog right off the bat and immediately added her to my reader.

Trust me, when I tell you this, go check out her blog and see for yourself that her stories are pieces of easy reading, with lots of sports (frequent football) stories as well as other things that a group of five girls of assorted ages can get manage to get into.

And another thing I also liked very much about her blog is that she often also posts things pertaining to religious holy days, or readings of a spiritual nature. Always nice to take a breather from some of the everyday problems or wacky things we all often write about and sit back to read something inspiring too every now and again.

Since I mentioned above that I added her immediately to my reader, that just reminded me about something else I've done a lot of lately. I've been finding so many new blogs that I really enjoy and have been adding what seems like almost a kazillion new blogs to my reader but I have not yet gotten around to also putting them on my blog roll and I'm really going to have to do that really soon too or it will take me a month of Sundays to get all the new blogs I'm now reading listed there!

And I'm going to pass this award on now too - for a couple bloggers, fairly new to my blogosphere -but who know how to "turn a phrase." Check out their blogs now and you'll see what I mean.

And now, the envelope please....


UPDATE: Thanks Dianne, for calling my attention to the error I had with highlighting those I awarded this to. Now, if you click on Sonny's name it will take you to her blog "Just Me" and clicking Molly's name will take you to her blog -the Powerball Wannabe. Sorry for the confusion there folks. Just glad it was something easy to correct though.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Of Parties and Gender Confusion

If you've been following various blogs today, you might have heard there was a big, big birthday bash going on over at Misty Dawn's Place for her baby, Maggie May. Today, you see, was Maggie May's first birthday -making her seven years old then. I think that's the comparison of dog years to human, isn't it?

Anyway, everyone here affiliated with Downriver Drivel wants to wish Maggie Mae and her mistress, Misty Dawn, the very best wishes for the happiest birthday and many more.

Because of various problems, we weren't able to get away from the Downriver region to pay our respects in person - or even earlier today when the party was in full swing. But we have some good reasons for the delay.

First, there was a problem for Gram to get access to the computer as everybody and their flipping brother seemed to need to do something on it today and tonight. Then, when things finally cleared out and I could get here to search through pictures to use to send greetings from each party who was supposed to attend Maggie Mae's gala celebration, I couldn't locate the picture of Gracie, the senior feline family member. Gracie is the 16-year-old cat and apparently she's not the only one in the family getting senile either cause I searched all my files but couldn't find the photo I had of just Gracie, all by herself. The only picture I could find of her at all, was this one here below -of Maya and Gracie in the playpen together. Apparently Grace decided to go into hiding tonight too cause I couldn't locate her to take a current photo of her either. But, although Gracie probably doesn't remember what a birthday is much less when hers was and also, since she generally tends to hide from dogs, regardless how sweet and friendly they are, she probably heard me mention about this celebration and decided to play contrary old lady and hide out till it was too late to be included at the party. But, if she could (and if she weren't afraid of doggies), I'm sure she'd at least send a card asking for someone to keep these children here away from her and just let her sleep, peacefully, while everyone else carries on singing and dancing and eating dog and cat birthday treats.

Nina is currently visiting this week - and probably for a couple of weeks - maybe longer, we're not quite sure yet - up at Uncle Clate's house. Seems Uncle Clate and his roommate, Dan, have been having a little problem up at that house with mice and they were going to take Jorge up there to stay and hopefully, catch the bad mice but Gram suggested that Nina go instead because Nina has been known to understand that cats are expected to catch mice. (Yes, Nina did catch a mouse last fall one day here in the house.) But Nina, being the party cat she is, asked that I send this picture of her along with greetings for Maggie Mae's birthday.
Now Jorge had planned to attend but because of things getting jammed up with computer time being at a premium, Gram didn't have enough energy to send Jorge out to the party. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

And, since Gram and Maya looked pretty peaceful but just in case they needed a little bodyguard, Jorge decided to stick around here this evening but wishes you a very happy birthday all the same. See what a great "watch" cat Jorge is?
And now, it seems too we have a bit of a problem here pertaining to sweet little Jorge.

When this cat first arrived here - or maybe I should say, when I first discovered the cat had arrived here Sunday night but I didn't learn about it till Monday afternoon, the very first question I put forth was about Jorge's gender. I asked Kate, since she is the one who named the cat "Jorge" if she had checked to see what sex the cat was and she had assured me that yes, she had checked and the cat was most definitely a male.

Well, I took her at her word but yesterday afternoon, Mandy told me she happened to be "looking Jorge over" (if ya know what I mean) and in doing so, she thought perhaps a closer look might be in line with respect to the gender as she thought Jorge was kind of minus some things and we might want to consider a name change, maybe - to say "Jorgetta" or something like that -maybe even Mabel -but at least a feminine name.

So I asked Kate about this- if she was really sure, downright positive that Jorge is a male and again, she said she was certain. I asked her then what method she used to make her determinations about the sex of the cat and to my surprise, she said she had used a method I had never heard of before in determination of the sex of an animal.

She figured it out by the fur!

Yes, you read that line correctly - "by the fur!" Now how in blazes does one figure out if a cat is male or female by the fur? Well, it seems, according to Kate's apparently tried and true methodology, that female cats have very soft, silky fur whereas male cats fur is stiffer, not soft, not fluffy and that my friends, is how you tell the sex of a cat!

I proceeded to explain to Kate that I really do believe she is checking the wrong area there. Then I reminded Mandy of the one and only litter of kittens old Gracie had many years ago -before she went to spend two days with the vet and after that, kittens were a thing of her past -but one of Gracie's kittens -a male -was so obvious in his sexuality that when he walked away from you, because of what you saw then, we (the kids and I) referred to him as "Balzac" until some kind soul adopted him out from our home.

I really do think Kate may have missed some very important lessons last year in her biology class though too, don't you?

But, if anyone has any suggestions for another name for Jorge -feel free to pass it along to us. For my part, I'm just as happy to let things alone and keep calling her "Jorge" anyway -gives the cat added personality and character, I think. Kind of like the reverse of Johnny Cash and his son, "A Boy Named Sue" don't 'cha know?

But anyway - Happy, happy first-seventh birthday to Maggie Mae! Hope you got lots and lots of greetings and good wishes for many, many more occasions like today!

The Downriver Gang -with lots and lots of drivel here to spare,. ya know!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An Honor!

Tonight I got a message from my blogger friend, Mary Ann -up in British Columbia. (You may know her too as "Smalltown RN" and actually, she lives on an island just off the coast of British Columbia.)

Smalltown RN has been a regular visitor to my blog for well over a year now and we've become a tad more than just two bloggers who read each others posts in that time too - as I feel we've also become very good friends albeit of what others might call a "virtual"variety. That's ok - I feel very comfortable in talking to her back and forth about lots of issues and concerns of all types.

Tonight, she sent me an e-mail in which she told me she had a "surprise" waiting for me on her blog. Looking in there, what do I find but she has given me an award and a very, very nice one at that.

It seems that a mutual blogging friend of hers and mine - TC or Tomcat -of Politics Plus -had given this award to Mary Ann and she thought my blog -or I - deserve to receive it too.

Let me say this -I am not a "mentor" for bloggers in the sense of one to come to with technical questions because as I have stated here in previous posts, I am about as dumb as a doorknob about "how to" stuff pertaining to the technical side of blogging!

But, I do love blogging -very much - and in the past 18 months, have met so many people from all walks of life, from all over the globe too - Norway, Sweden, England, Australia - just to name a few, plus a goodly number of Canadians who I now call "friends" from British Columbia clear across the continent to Prince Edward Island with stops in between in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta -well, okay -coast to coast - to say nothing of now having a blogger friends in many of the 50 states of the union too! Such diversity is something I really enjoy about this blogging thing! To get to know these fine people, to see the beauty of the areas where they live as well - things I would never be able to see or learn about had I not decided one fine day back in September of 2006 to create my own place in cyberspace - my blog.

We come from all walks of life, all kinds of occupations, ethnic backgrounds, different races and none of it matters except that we are all friends. Many of us are pet lovers - some are really ultra-extreme in their devotion to the felines or dogs around them - like Magnetbabe in Florida who tries her level best to save as many feral cats as she can or Misty Dawn in Missouri with her beautiful dogs that she says "keep her sane."

Some in my blogging community are newspaper journalists, some are writers of books. Some are REALLY interested in the political side of life here in the US and also in Canada. Some love to Hike, others like dancing -some actually do lots more physical exercising that makes me tired and my legs and back ache just thinking about all the stuff they do to stay fit and trim - unlike me! There are a couple lawyers among my cyberspace friends, and people who work in various capacities too in offices all over the world. There are also some who are like me, retired or disabled and some parents who work from their homes, some parents who are "stay-at-home" types -those traditional type parents -if there is now, in this day and age, really a "traditional" type parent.

Some of my blogger friends -like my family and myself -deal too with a disorder called autism and quite a few of my blogger buddies -if you go exploring on my list of "favorites" you will find have very strong, first-hand knowledge of this subject. Those who read my blog all the time know that my granddaughter - my Princess Maya -is autistic and all signs point in the same direction too for her little brother, Kurtis. It's a topic that is near and dear to my heart because I live with them -or do they live with me - whatever -so I am around them, see the things that make them just like all other toddlers of their age as well as the little idiosyncracies that set them apart too from other children. Knowing there are so many of my blogger friends who also experience the same issues -some even more extreme than what we see here with my grandchildren - gives me a sense of comfort that I know I can talk openly and freely about my beautiful grandkids and learn ways to possibly help them improve over time too!

And, in blogging, getting to know so many people world-wide, of so many different characteristics -well if wanting each of you to get to know each other too from my suggestions here on my blog, then maybe I am a bit of a blog mentor that way.

And in that respect - each and every one of you - my readers -my friends - are also in your own way, a mentor to me as we walk, day by day, experiencing life, sharing our excitement over happy times, our sorrows too as they also come our way - and because of that feeling each of you brings to me, I am not selecting a specific person to give a "Blogging Mentor" award to but rather, I bestow this on each and everyone of you as you come by and visit, leave comments, e-mail me at times too.

Take it, display it with pride as you all are mentors in your blogging efforts as well as in many other ways too!

And keep coming back to continue sharing -to continue together in our journey as we learn more about our world in this way.

All Kinds of Things!

Lots of things happening here between Sunday and today -er, tonight and early this morning, perhaps I should say.

Where to begin? This is going to be more than my usual "hop-scotching" all over the place by the looks of things but I'll try to keep things in some kind of order -if that's at all possible.

First - yesterday, my SIL decided that the cats needed bathed. I don't really know why he decided it was necessary -he does that every now and again, goes off on tangents about bathing the cats. Sometimes, I think he likes to do it because it gives up an upper hand with both of them for a while or maybe because he knows they both hate it, he loves to torment them that way. But anyway, he did Nina -the orange cat first -and she came out of the bathroom looking none the worse for wear. But Gracie - the old cat - I was really frightened when she came out of the bathroom. Gracie is our "baby" ya know - a beautiful cat she always was but age is taking a big toll on her -in her appearance as well as her physical condition -and mental too, we fear.

Anyway, when Gracie came into the living room, she was really, really wobbly - weak-knees is about the best I can think of to describe her. I was afraid maybe she'd had a stroke or something that her balance was all discombobulated. Then, she stood up with her front paws on the radiator - a place she often likes to use as a spot to recline - but it was obvious she was unable to hop up there on her own. Mandy went and got a towel, folded it and put it on the radiator and I lifted her up there, trying to help her to lay down. In doing so, I was shocked to feel how skinny she is now too. She's always been difficult to tell if she's lost weight or anything because of her fur -she's been our big old "puffball" cat you see -and that always made her look heavier than she really was. But now, well I know she's old (16 years last fall), senility factors creeping in (forgets to use her litter box) and had to have a tumor removed from her jaw late last summer/early fall which we decided not to go the distance to have it tested to see what it was because Mandy was just afraid it would show cancer or something. So while I wasn't surprised she was thinner, I was surprised she was a scrawny as she is now -just skin and bones, fur doesn't fluff up like it used to either - a myriad of problems. We're thinking perhaps we should have her put down but she doesn't appear to be in pain or anything - and well, the thought of saying goodbye to her after so many years of having her, such a beautiful cat, a nice cat too, especially easy with the kids -with all three of the grandkids -well, you can I think understand our concerns with our poor old baby Gracie.

Moving on now a bit -yesterday afternoon/evening Mandy went to State College with one of her good friends to visit her friend's sister in the hospital there. The sister had just had her third baby - third boy too -Saturday morning, so Mandy went along for the ride and to see the new baby, etc. She had called home about 6:30 or so to check in and while I was talking to her on the phone, the SIL had just come into the house and knowing I was talking to Mandy, he asked me to ask her if she wanted another cat? Say What? That's what went through my brain first and then I practically yelled at him "NO! I am not asking her that!" She wanted to know what I was talking about but I blew her off. But after hanging up, I told him not to EVER ask her if she wants another cat because knowing her, what a cat lover she is, she would take that as license to be hauling every Tom, Dick and Mary cat she came across that appealed to her then and we really don't need any more animals - unless she and SIL would relent and allow me to drag home a puppy maybe. Yeah -also something we don't NEED but that doesn't keep me from wanting one all the same!

Now -I'm going to cycle away from the current time for a moment to tell you a story about something my kids did to me back in the late 80's.

I was on a "cleaning kick" this day (something that was in and of itself, a bit of a rarity for me) and was trying to clean my bedroom. I'd done the kids rooms already and had moved some furniture into the hallway and into my son's room and in passing out of his room, I noticed this cat we had at that time, laying on a straight-back chair there, sleeping. No big deal though - that cat was always sleeping. Back to my room I went, started moving something else around and I glanced up and there was that cat laying on my bed, sleeping. Now how the heck did that cat get from Clate's room -from the chair -over to my room and curled up on my bed, sleeping away without brushing up against me in doing so. I glanced back to his room and there was the cat still sleeping on the chair so my head swivels around to look at my bed again and damned if the cat wasn't there too. WTF? Yeah, it was one of those kind of moments. Then I figured it out -we now had two cats in the house that looked exactly alike but when had they smuggled this other cat in? I called the older daughter at her workplace and told her about this mystery cat here. She completely broke up laughing and then explained to me that she knew the "new" cat was in the house and had been here for over two weeks by the time I discovered its presence. Ok, I'm not always really observant, usually not always that wide awake plus, I don't wear glasses for nothing either as I am pretty much almost as blind as a bat as well! You will see later in this post how this story "fits" with today's post.

Fast forward now to Monday morning. Mandy had taken Kate to the foot doctor so when Maya woke up, she was upset because it was me, not her Mommy coming to take her downstairs. This made for a bit of crying and whining for a while early on but then she finally calmed and quieted down. My son came down to have coffee with me and I was showing him the recent pictures we had done last Thursday at Sears from my file on the computer. We were talking back and forth about the pictures as well as our current "blog mystery" and his stalker too. Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen Maya leave the living room, heard her go into the bathroom but initially, I didn't think any more of it until it seemed to be an inordinately long period of time - of extra quiet too -that she'd been in there. Okay, every parent reading this knows quiet with kids spells trouble with a capital T, doesn't it? I got up to investigate and when I walked into the bathroom, there sat Maya on the floor in front of a small plastic chest-type thing (has about 6 drawers to it) that she keeps all kinds of little doo-dads in the drawers and on the top, it holds a myriad of things from hair sprays, to perfume, to lotions and baby powder but the baby powder container was on the floor beside Maya. She had a Q-tip in her hand and was drawing little wave type designs on the floor in a thick covering of good old baby powder! Lovely! Not! I called Clate to come and see the present his niece had left for me and we both had a little giggle over it too as he went and got the broom and dustpan and cleaned it up for me. Thanks, Son! See there's a reason I call him my "favorite son" ya know!

Now when Maya woke up Monday morning I noticed she was very, very warm to the touch and it was obvious without even hunting for the thermometer that she was running a fever and a pretty good one too - I would have estimated it was probably at least 101 if not higher. (No, I didn't take it, just saying that from touch.) I convinced her to let me give her some cold/cough meds that Mandy has here for her and by 11:30 a.m., you could feel the temp had begun to come down. However, I also noticed she was beginning to develop more of a cough and her voice sounded scratchier than earlier as well.

Shortly before my son left, she disappeared into the kitchen and again - the dreaded silence. I got up to check on her and found she had managed to somehow find the bottle of Children's Tylynol cough/cold syrup and had "measured" some of it out too -into two -not just one, but TWO -of those little dose cups. Ok, more of the meds were actually spilled on the counter by the sink but it was the principle of what she was attempting to do - self-medicate herself! I wasn't worried though that she had overdosed or anything as I could see none of it had yet made it to her mouth. Got that mess cleaned up then!

Then, Mandy and Kate finally returned home from the doctor's visit around 2 p.m. or so. Kate's on the couch reclining and all of a sudden I see some strange movement in the room. I do a double take and realize she's holding a cat -roughly about the same size as Nina -the orange cat -and I ask where the hell that cat came from. The answer - seems the SIL had brought the cat home last night from the garage where he works part-time and where someone had dropped the cat off and he was worried about it, etc. Yes, this was the cat he had wanted me to ask Mandy about on the phone last night -if she wanted it or not! I was stunned that he had snuck the cat into the house on me cause for openers, he tends to be allergic to most cats -more so the shorthaired ones (and this one is, like Nina, a short hair.) However, this cat is sooo cute -really HE is -and I learned too that Kate had named him last night too - Jorge. (Say that with the Spanish accent there if you will, please.) Anyway, I pick this cat up and am holding him and he is snuggling up against me, purring as nice as can be and very much having made himself quite cozy and comfy already in the household.

Here then is our newest member of the family - I present "Jorge!" Isn't he cute though?

Now, moving forward here -to supper time. Maya comes and sits up at to the table and one look at her face and you can see the fever is definitely back and is in FULL Blossom too! Her cheeks and nose look like a clown's face has been painted on there with Kate's darkest shade of rouge. I have never seen Maya run a fever like this before and it scares me as I begin to worry that perhaps she has scarlet fever or scarletina and not just the head cold we thought was coming on earlier in the day. We got a little more cold medicine into her and the fever seemed to be starting to come down but by 10:30, Mandy came and told me she had called the ER and they had advised her she should bring Maya in there to be checked -which she did. Four hours later, they got back home shortly before 3 a.m. and thankfully -the cough which had become deeper, croupier and more wheezing/whooping type sound to it they said was not pneumonia although the chest x-ray had shown she did have a lot of goop in her chest, they got the fever reduced further at the hospital to 99.9 and sent her home with instructions for otc meds Mandy could pick up at Walmart and give her.

Here's Maya, on the loveseat shortly before she and Mandy left to go to the ER -and there's sweet little Jorge lying on the loveseat with her. You can't help but notice Maya's cheeks and nose and how red they were then, can you? Definitely, she was a sick little girl tonight and I'm really relieved now too that Mandy took her over to the ER to get her all checked out.

And, to add to all that, the little guy is now starting to run a fever too -developing a bit of a cough as well and his nose seems once again now to have become its on spigot-putting out a steady stream there that he gets really ticked at us when we try to wipe it away.

I just heard a slight rustling noise behind me and looked over at the loveseat -there was Jorge upon the arm, leaning over, watching Nina who was on the floor almost directly in front of him. Slowly, his paw reached down to bat at Nina and before she knew what was happening, he had hopped off the arm of the loveseat, pounced on her and they were rolling on the floor, playing together.

Now - the next step here - hopefully the income tax refund check will come really soon so Mandy can schedule a very important visit to the vet's office for Nina - maybe for Jorge too - so that we won't have to worry in the future about more gray or orange or mixed up combinations of those colors - kittens to try to find homes for in the future!

Never a dull moment -is there?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Out of Curiosity

Ok - here's another question too! Only this one is actually directed specifically to a certain person - but unfortunately, I don't know the identity of said person.

Let me explain.

Some months back, I noticed some activity coming to my blog from someplace in Germany. Ok, lots of people land on my blog for whatever reason and by whatever reason, who knows. But this one from Germany, I noticed kept coming back -and back again and again -and what's more this person was definitely reading lots and lots of stuff on my blog. Not that I considered that all that big a deal because, after all, it is in the public domain so I can't say "Hey, cease and desist that!" now can I?

But by looking further I could also see how they found my blog. They had been googling my son's name and yes, it had come up on my blog and I referenced on numerous occasions to the effect that I have a son, his age, and name, etc.

I mentioned this to my son back then - teasing him about it because you see, when he was in the Army he was stationed for close to two years in Germany so I was teasing him that maybe he had a girlfriend there he'd never told us about -or perhaps, even more.

Well he -being like his mother - nosy, snoopy ya know - was curious as was I as to who this might be who was obviously looking into his activities over the past so many years or so. But, he couldn't think of anyone directly who might try to search for him via the internet. Well, that is until today.

I noticed first on the little thing on my sidebar that I'd had visitors from this or that region so I decided to click into that on my FeedJit page and there it showed I had a visitor from "Lauterbach, Hessen, Germany." When I went to my sitemeter, it shows that visitor as coming from Nordrhein-Westfalen, Meinerzhagen, Germany. Not only that, it also showed the search terms this person was looking for on my blog - looking for my son by name, then by "Clate's Girlfriend", then "Theresa" and finally, using the search term "Marion" as well. Ok, those first search terms made sense and I could see which posts of mine they had found using them - but searching on my blog for the name "Marion" had pulled up a blank for this mystery person.

So I called my son to tell him his stalker was back on my blog! I told him what I had seen that they were looking for there and the name "marion" too - which did register with him as he said he had dated two girls in Germany - one named "Miriam" and another named "Marion" and also that each girl had known about the other as well.

Which then also prompted him to laugh and say "Heck Mom, if they want to search for me, why doesn't this person just call me and get it over with?" Well, probably my dear, because this person doesn't know your phone number or doesn't know how to send mail to you here either, for that matter!

His response to that was "Well hell, Mom. Do a post and just put my phone number up there and say "Yo! You wanna talk to me? Call me at this number!" Ok, I talked him out of that idea - not wise to just post your whole phone number on the internet ya know.

But, if the party from Germany who is reading my blog, searching for information about my son would like to contact HIM, directly, if you would please send me an e-mail - you can use the e-mail address on my profile - just click on the highlighted area there that says "E-mail" and it will take you to a form you can use that will come directly to my inbox of my e-mail - and I will respond to you with his phone number and his mailing address as well!

I know - that old adage comes to mind here - "Curiosity killed the cat" - but he and I both really would like to know who it is who is looking for information about him -who knows why -but we'd like to know that.

And now, we won't call "Interpol" or whatever agency it might be to sue you and ask you to cease and desist. Read my blog all you want - heck, comment too anytime you please.

Neither of us has anything we're trying - or want to hide - that we area aware of anyway!

Help us solve this mystery will you please?


Those of you how read Linda's blog -Are We There Yet? - are familiar then with the segment she does now and again -usually on Fridays - "I've Got a Question -You've Got the Answer" and that's kind of what I'm gonna do here today.

Except my questions -well some of 'em are, maybe convoluted or confused but then again, that's me. By this time, anyone reading my blog knows I do sometimes think and write very convolutedly. (My spell checker says that isn't right, so maybe that is a word made up, just by me.)

Anyway, just wanted to forewarn you here that my questions may not be all that clearly explained because you see, I have as background noise -besides the voices I already hear in my mind -the musical "Annie" playing on the tv and a certain four-year-old who is not feeling good -fever, sore throat, cough plus, she's very upset because her Mommy isn't here. Actually, she's very put out that Mommy went someplace and horrors, didn't take sweet little Princess Maya -even though she's sick and all that stuff ya know.

So anyhoo -here goes.

A while back, I asked if when you viewed my blog, the sidebar in particular, if all the awards I have set up there show up for you or if there are some pictures coming up as missing. At that time, I was still on dial-up and everyone who responded said they could see all the icons for the awards fine and dandy and most everyone seemed to think it might be a problem I was experiencing with dial-up.

Well, I've had the high speed connection for a month now and although if I view my blog on Internet Explorer, all the icons show up, when I view it using Firefox, those icons are still missing. If I go into page layout and open the slot where the icons in question are set up, as soon as you open that segment, the box in the middle -the one that spins and turns as supposedly blogger is adding that icon to the screen, is spinning and turning -apparently on a constant basis!

Now another thing too -if I am reading someone's blog using Firefox, often if they have posted several pictures in a post, some of the pictures will not open for me -but, using Internet Explorer, they will show up.

I mentioned this to David McMahon at Authorblog the other day - because his blog, of all blogs with the plethora of photographs he generally posts, one doesn't want to miss viewing those, for sure - and he and Terry -of Terry's Playpen - both thought possibly that the cookies thingy on Firefox wasn't deleting cookies properly or something to that effect. Although I went in on IE and deleted cookies, also did a disc cleanup too -I can't figure out how to delete cookies on Firefox. Can anyone give me ultra simple, step by step, English only (no computerese terms, please) how to do that on Firefox?

Does this sound like it might be solely a Firefox issue as opposed to a Blogger issue? I figure I've ruled out dial-up, I think the fact that it functions properly on IE would also rule out Blogger as being the culprit too but maybe it is Blogger in conjunction WITH Firefox. I'm just curious if anyone else has issues like this and if so, what caused the problem and then, what did you do to fix it too?

This morning, one of Mandy's friend directed her to the YouTube place and to oodles and oodles of videos about autism - videos done by parents, videos put out by older kids and adults too who have autism and everything I think maybe betwixt and between pertaining to autism YouTube videos. I don't have the URL that got Mandy into that area but if you can find it -you all being better acquainted with the wheres and whats involved with searching YouTube -check it out -or rather check out lots of these videos. Some very informational stuff along with some that are just plain so cute, so neat to see how well other kids are doing with therapy and care, lots and lots of loving care and understanding, that if you aren't familiar or only vaguely so about how autism affects people, go, check these out.

Now, I'm going to tell you a little story about some convolution going on around here last evening. Possibly, convolution at its finest levels -or close anyway.

My SIL came home from work yesterday about 4:30 or so -was here for about ten minutes max and then, he left to go up to my son's house as he had promised Dan, "favorite son's" roommate, that he would come up and give him a hand tearing out a wall in the room behind the room the guys turned into their "bar" area. Ok, no problem. And away he went.

I'm betting he hadn't gone more than a half mile up the street from our house when the phone rang. It was SIL's Dad calling. He wanted to know if SIL was here. "No," I told him, "He's gone up to Clate's to help Dan." Pap said ok, and hung up the phone and I figure that's the end of that.

But wait -no, it isn't. Actually the confusion had just begun. About 10 minutes after SIL's dad's call, the phone rings again. I answer it and it is a male whose voice I don't recognize immediately and he's rattling on and on about how Clate had called him and said we were looking for SIL and that he (the caller that is) was over at Lowe's and what's the problem with the furnace?

And I'm sitting here listening to this and wondering who in bloody blue blazes this is, and what problem is there with the furnace? None that I'm aware of and not only that, who's looking for SIL because I KNOW where he is - he's up at my son's house helping his roommate fix a wall there or some such. Then this caller finally identifies himself - after he asks me "Is this Amanda?" and I say no, who is this? and he identifies himself as Dan, Clate's roommate. Then he says to me "Oh never mind. Clate called me and said something about that you were looking for SIL and the furnace being on the fritz but never mind, maybe I got the message confused." And he hung up, leaving me totally confused. (I know, I know - that's a fast trip to get me to confusion central but that is also beside the point.)

So I call Clate - who by the way, was in Kansas, waiting for a load to make a return trip back home sometime late last night. Of course, I get his answering thing on his cell phone, leave a message for him to call back. Which he does about ten minutes later. He asks if I was calling about having received a call from his roommate, Dan. Yes, as a matter of fact, I was. Well, here's the full story.

Seems after Pap called here looking for SIL and I had told him where he was, instead of going up to Clate's house to talk to him in person, SIL's sister called Clate - who you remember is in Kansas at the time -to ask him to call Dan and have Dan call SIL because SIL won't answer his cell phone. WHY you ask all this round-about methodology to track the SIL down? Because the furnace in the trailer where Pap and SIL's sister (and her two kids) live -well, the furnace wasn't working there! They wanted him to come look at the furnace and fix it. Which, once it all got sorted out, he did go look at the furnace, replaced a nozzle on it for them and then, finally got back home later last night. I asked him when he got home if he'd fixed it and he said yes and I asked him then if he was ever going to send Pap's landlady he rents this god-aweful trailer from a bill for all the work he has done over at that place - free, because it's for his dad and his sister but for which the landlady should have been responsible to take care of the repairs on the junk heap in the first place!!! Yes, I am a truly obnoxious old woman when I get my dander in a dither! You can't imagine the things SIL has done over there -stuff he has purchased (wood, parts for the sink, the furnace, the commode, whatever) and his labor which has been a LOT and I do mean A LOT too - all to fix things because the landlady won't shell out a penny to the upkeep of the place. Even the way she is renting it is illegal as it had belonged to her aunt who died and the property is still -about 8 years after the fact - still in the deceased aunt's name but the niece is renting it to Pap and his daughter and her kids for $350 a month. On top of which they of course have to pay ALL the utilities - water, sewage, electric, oil -plus, they also have to try to contend with the things falling apart in the place and get them repaired at no cost to the landlady! Talk about your slum landladies in an old coal mining village, huh?

But I did have fun teasing my son about them calling him to track down SIL who was at my son's house while my son was stuck in Kansas and I reminded him that I happen to have a magnet my grandson Alex got me for Christmas that has Dorothy and Toto's picture on it and says "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto." on it! And I kept ragging Clate about his being in Kansas while all this junk was taking place where - why here, of course!

Ah, the drama - the drama of life in this fast lane I call home!

Sloughing Onward

Slowly, but surely, we plod on and before you know it it will be time for "Trick or Treat" -then Turkey Day, followed quickly by time for mistletoe and holly and New Year's and finally - a new day will dawn - January 20th, 2009!

And to keep you thinking until then -well, here's this week's collection of charming Bushisms.

Monday, February 25, 2008 - 330 days left

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 -329 days left

"In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about --well, never mind."
--THird presidential debate, Tempe, Arizona, 2004

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 -- 328 days left

"It's good to see so many friends here in the Rose Garden. This is our first event in this beautiful spot, and it's appropriate we talk about policy that will affect people's lives in a positive way in such a beautiful, beautiful part of our national -- really, our national park system, my guess is you would want to call it."
--The Rose Garden, February 2001

Thursday, February 28, 2008 -- 327 days left

Former lobbyist and indicted embezzler jack Abramoff's birthday, 1959
"Can you smell money?!?!?!
Jack Abramoff

Friday, February 29, 2008 -- 326 days left

"I thought how proud I am to be standing up beside my dad. Never did it occur to me that he would become the gist for cartoonists."
-Newsweek, February 2000

Saturday and Sunday, March 1/2, 2008 -- 325 days left and 324 days left

"Ann and I will carry out this equivocal message to the world: Markets must be gone."
-Swearing in Ann Veneman as the Secretary of Agriculture, March 2, 2001

And there you have 'em - another week's worth of the DUBYA!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Behind The Scenes

Last night, I told you about taking the little grandkids over to State College where we met up with my older daughter and her son, my grandson Alex -who is 10 now -and we had their pictures taken -some solo poses and some with the three cousins together.

I ended that post with one of the group photos of the three kids.

Tonight, I'm going to share a little bit with you of the preparations that went on prior to the photographer ever getting her sights lined up on the kids.

They had us in a fairly large room which very conveniently happened to have this big white curtain for a backdrop there that worked very nicely for Alex to use to have some privacy as he changed from his school clothes into one of the several outfits his mother, Carrie, had brought with her for him to select from to wear.
Here's Kurtis in his stroller, waiting patiently while Mandy gets Maya all decked out in her pretty new dress on the right side and to the left, Carrie is handing Alex clothes as he's stripping and giving her the other set of duds he'd been wearing.
Here's Alex, putting on his shoes and joking with Kate - the 16-year-old who got plenty of pictures taken of herself -all by herself! The photographer really did a great job with her too.
While the photographer was working with Kate, trying to position her, at one point, Kate remarked that she felt "uncomfortable" with her hands positioned around her head, her face, etc. I told her to just pretend she was talking on the phone -but without having the phone resting on her shoulder (which it the normal position for her) and can you believe it, she had the nerve to try to tell me she hardly ever talks on the phone! I was shocked! You could have fooled me so apparently that black thing she walks around with it cradled by her chin from about 2 minutes after she gets home until supper is ready, is some strange appendage that also just happens to make these ringing sounds, all too frequently. This picture below is the result of some of the photographer's positioning work that Kate had said made her feel "unnatural."
Here's Maya's first shot -all by herself.

And here's the first one of Kurtis, alone -he wasn't the happiest camper there at that time.

This one was about the closest she could come to getting him to smile but we really liked it. It's funny though because at home, if you aim a camera in his direction, he's usually all smiles. Guess it just wasn't his "smiley" day yesterday then.

And here's the one of Maya that I liked the best!
And my handsome 10-year-old "Prince" - Alex -here's one I really liked of him.
While we waited for the photographer to get the pictures set up for us to view and make our selections from, here's a couple of pictures of what was going on with the kids during that time.
While waiting, Maya found some crayons and coloring books and was happily playing with that -or so we thought anyway -until I happened to glance over and saw she was under that table ledge there below the mirror, crayon in hand, just ready to start doing her version of Picasso-type drawings on the wall! Sheesh! Can't look away for a minute, can you?
This picture I think was one of my favorites of the pictures I took of the kids before and after the photography session. Maya and her hero, Alex!
This picture though of Alex and Kurtis ranks up there too as a favorite for me. Alex really did a great job pushing Kurtis all around the area there in the stroller, entertaining him, trying to keep the little guy as happy as possible while we waited.

And now, I think I've probably got enough people in the snore zone from showing off all these photos of my grandkids as they had their first "professional sitting" for a group picture of the three of them.

I really do have to acknowledge the young lady who worked with the kids. She really knocked herself out trying to bring out the best she could considering how difficult it was to get Kurtis to sit still, to get Maya to understand the instructions of where to stand or kneel and to not move her head once the young woman got her all positioned too! The way the two little ones did behave though, overall, I doubt she even had a clue that she was dealing with two children who have "issues" -Maya, who has been diagnosed for almost a year now as being autistic and Kurtis, who has been evaluated as having developmental delays but who it does appear will also be diagnosed sometime in the future as being autistic too.

Sometimes - many times actually -you'd never know that though, to look at them, would you?

What's The Problem?

Thursday afternoon, Mandy, the two little ones, the 16-year-old and I all went over to State College to meet up with the older daughter, Carrie, and her son - My Prince Grandson, Alex. We made arrangements to meet at the Sears store at the Nittany Mall and Mandy had made an appointment with their photography studio to have the kids pictures taken.

The picture taking was quite an experience. Alex has always been photogenic and quite the ham. That, plus his age now (10) made him easy to work with. Maya -all things considered -did quite well today. Much better than she was a year ago when, before Christmas Mandy and I had taken the two little ones, all decked out in the Christmas finery, to the K-Mart in DuBois for pictures. Getting her to sit in a particular spot -heck, just getting her to sit at all -was a chore. Trying to get her to look at the photographer was also very difficult. At that time, Kurtis was the little ham and not walking at that time (only 8 months old ya know) when we put him in a particular spot, he stayed there and he also smiled readily too for the camera. We still got some cute pictures of them that day, but none of them showed Maya looking in the direction the lady wanted. But as it is with kids, you take the best you can from the ones you get and be happy with that.
These are the two pictures we were able to get from last year's photography session. As you can see from the look on Maya's face there, she was off in her own little world, not looking at the camera, not really sure I suppose of what was happening there. I still think it's a lovely picture but just wish it would have been able to capture her looking directly at the object the photographer used to get their attention and that she'd been smiling too.

And so it was today with trying to get all three kids lined up, posed, holding still, ready? Say cheese. And inevitably, either Kurtis or Maya would look off in another direction or Kurtis would move, try to escape from be forced to sit down, stay still. We did however finally manage to get three shots that were reasonably good though. We never did get Kurtis to even smile, much less flash the big grins he usually gives out.

It still took a heck of a long time to look at the shots and make selections - this one, in two 5x7's and two sheets of wallet size - that one in an 8x10 and 2 more sheets of wallet size and so on and so forth. I, of course, loved all the pictures as did Mandy and Carrie too but no way can one possible have a need for all the photos in the packages they offer either. Sure you need to figure out who will be the recipient of a framed photo of these three super stars -there's Pappy (Bill's Dad), Poppy - Mandy and Carrie's Dad, me, Alex's Dad, Alex's paternal grandparents -both sets, Uncle Clate and Great-Grandma Eileen (my ex's 81 year old mother), one for my best friend, another for this or that relative and presto magic, before you know it, you're easily in hock for the rest of your life! These pictures are great, yes - for sure. But I am very much inclined to agree with my Mom who always believed they were also a big rip-off, money-making market too!

When Mandy was about a year old, one of those photo package companies - the kind that would come to your house and do pictures - called and wanted to know if I would be interested in having photos taken of my kids -have a nice picture to put in a pretty 8x10 frame and hang on the wall for posterity. Sure thing, I said and promptly made an appointment. It was one of those offers where you could get an 8x10 for only $3.00 -or something like that.

Our finances at that time were really rocky and the last thing in the world we could really afford was me looking at bunches of "proofs" of my three beautiful little children and NOT ordering a slew of prints -of this pose and that one and oh, that one is so precious too, I'll just take three of it plus two each of these and 5 of those. Will power flies totally out the window then, don't 'cha just know it?

Well as it turned out, the day they were to come with the proofs, I had to work - I mean I HAD to be there, no taking the day off, not even the afternoon. Mom was watching the kids that day and she knew the guy was going to be coming with the proofs. She also knew what the "special offer" they had used to sucker me into getting the pictures taken in the first place was as well. She told me not to worry - she would look over the prints and make a selection. She also said she was only going to pick one picture -the one we had already paid for -no others because she knew we really just could not afford to spend on any more than that ONE photo.

I remember waiting and waiting - excitedly -till the picture - the ONE picture she had chosen finally arrived in the mail. I opened it and there before my eyes was just the most beautiful picture ever of my three babies all together! Carrie, in her lovely long pale blue dotted Swiss dress from Uncle Tom's wedding, seated holding Mandy who looked so adorable in a pretty little pink dress and there was Clate, kneeling by Carrie, with a hand placed ever so lovingly on Mandy's shoulder. It was a fantastic photograph, really it was. I marvel at my Mom's ability to make that selection and stick to her guns that she was only going to take JUST ONE picture! But she did it.

Sadly, that picture got slightly water damaged when the upstairs of the house caught on fire and in trying to remove it from the frame to replace the frame with a new one, it was stuck there and parts of the picture tore in the process then too. And, of course, I have no "proof" or no negative to have the picture reprinted from. I don't even remember the name of the company that maybe, if I had that information, I could have contacted them to get a reprint of the photo done. So, you'll just have to take my word for it that it was just a beautiful photo that thankfully, did last for close to 20 years at any rate.

So after the girls (and I) decided which shots we felt were best, how many to order and Mandy signed a healthy sum of funds away to get prints upon prints, off we went in search of food cause by that time, we were starving. Carrie and Alex opted not to join us for supper as she needed to get home, grab a bite to eat and then a little shut-eye too since she had to work the graveyard shift tonight.

After considerable discussion of where to go and dine, we finally decided to take our chances with Applebees. Not that eating there was taking a chance but rather taking Kurtis and Maya there to eat in public can be quite risky at times. We were seated in a nice booth - Mandy and Maya on one side; Kate and I on the other and Kurtis in one of those wooden high chairs with no tray, was at then end of the booth. Mandy ordered the steak and shrimp combo, Kate was really in an exploratory mood about food tonight - NOT -and opted for a bacon-cheeseburger and chicken noodle soup and I had the 9-ounce steak, with mushrooms and garlic on top, sides of onion rings and Applebee's "famous" Mac 'n'cheese. Maya was given a choice of either spaghetti or mac 'n' cheese (two of her favorite foods) and she chose the children's mac 'n' cheese -not really a big surprise to any of us. Kurtis dined on the french fries that came with Kate's order but which she didn't want. Both kids behaved quite well - ate very good, no meltdowns, no screaming, kicking, screeching, wailing from either one of them! A nice meal, yes indeed.

After we got home, I started to transfer the photos - yes, we did get the CD with the pictures we had to choose from loaded to it to bring home tonight -but for some odd reason, I couldn't get any of these pictures to open after I got them transferred over to "My Pictures." So I had to putsy around with the computer - do a little maintenance stuff -and finally, was able to get in to the folder, name the pictures, get them all positioned in the right direction, etc.

I wanted to e-mail one of the pictures of the three kids to a couple of my cousins but didn't want to send them as an attachment from my e-mail because I was afraid the file would be pretty large and bog down in transit in cyberspace or worse, maybe even crash someone else's computer as they tried to download it. To avoid this problem I usually send pictures using the Picasa e-mail set-up in which it crunches the file down to a reasonable size for me but when I tried to do that, Picasa2 gave me an error message saying there's currently a problem with Picasa, they're working on it and if I just hit the "send" button it will send an error message for me then back to Microsoft about the issue. Hmmm. Seems to me I had the same message a week or two back when I wanted to e-mail a couple pictures I'd taken of the kids to my cousins.

Ok, I thought -no problem as I also have the Kodak Gallery that I can use too to e-mail photos from it -it does pretty much the same thing with pictures as does the Picasa2 program. But when I tried to log into my Kodak Gallery account, no dice. Seems they are doing maintenance and it will be available again "shortly." Well, then I remembered that I got that same message there when I had tried to e-mail some photos through the Kodak gallery because I couldn't get them to go using the Picasa2 program.

What gives here people? Two photo programs that both do roughly the same thing and neither one of them is functioning nor have they been for a week or so now, seems a bit strange to me. What the heck is the issue with this software anyway? And when will either or both of them be available for me to use again? No information as to that, of course.

Stymied there, I saw in my e-mail that my phone bill had just arrived so I thought well, since I can't e-mail those cousins a picture, I'll check and see what my phone bill is for this month. I signed in to that sight and what do I get? A message from Verizon telling me that accessing my account is temporarily not available and please check back at another time. No mention as to what time would be okay for me to check back though. Considering this client of Verizon's tends to be a bit senile, they shouldn't leave it to me to check back randomly but really should give me more exact information that I could maybe log into my computer calendar so it will send me a notice or flag my attention to remind me I need to look at my phone bill and not put it off, etc. And this is the second month in a row that I've received that message from Verizon when I tried to view my bill. What gives with that issue there people? Seems to me in a month's time they should have gotten their act together, got that "unavailable" issue all ironed out, don't 'cha think?

And now, before I head to the sofa to put my weary head on the pillow, I'm gonna show you one of the pictures from the selection on the cd. Yep - just like my Mom - only gonna show you one! Well, at least just one today anyway!

Isn't this just priceless though? (And trust me, it is killing me right now NOT to post all the pictures we got to select from for every one to see here and now. Eventually, I will show you the favorites though - but today -just one!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wheels, Deals and Steals

After doing the post below, those squeaky wheels in my mind began turning as I was thinking about and remembering cars I've owned over the years, and how I came about getting them. Also, how much I may have liked or disliked various buggies I've called my own too.

The first car that comes to my mind though was not one that I owned but rather was the car my Mom had when I was a baby -a 1940 Ford -that had been my Dad's car. He had bought it new and I remember in 1952, when my Mom traded it in and bought a used, 1948 Plymouth Coupe, I was highly -and I DO MEAN HIGHLY -ticked at her for trading it. For openers, I had a fixation at that time for Fords, since my uncle had a Ford and swore by them, as well as the fact that I had wanted Mom to keep that old Black 1940 Ford simply because it had been my Dads. He had picked it out. He had also of course, driven it and because I'd never known him (he died when I was a baby), it was the only tangible thing of his, in my mind, in my life then. The fact that I simply did not like Plymouths because my uncle's ideas and attitudes had permeated my mind that about certain make and manufacturers held sway too in my opinion there.

Mom ran that Plymouth until 1957 when her one brother had just purchased a new Chrysler and he knew the old Plymouth was giving Mom a lot of problems, so he offered to sell her his 1952 Pontiac, two-toned green, hardtop. She knew the car was in great shape, knew she couldn't get a deal like the one my uncle offered her either so she bought that car from him. The purchase price I still remember too. He charged her $450 for that car. Mom had that car until 1967 when, in December of that year, I had to work this one Saturday and bus service were we were living in Maryland, just outside the District of Columbia, wasn't very good on the weekends so I had driven Mom's car to work that day.

On the way home from work, my best friend -who was also my supervisor -was with me and as we were coming out Pennsylvania Ave Southeast, the car started to heat up. I made it across the Anacostia (can't remember if that is supposed to be with one "n" or two) and pulled into a service station there where the attendant checked the radiator for me. He told me the car had plenty of water. Shows how much he actually knew about cars too because his answer to me was actually, "Oh, you've got lots of water in there. It's just bubbly away, really hard."

I asked if he thought I'd be able to make it the rest of the way home with the car -had about 3 miles to go I think and he'd said, "Oh sure. That won't be a problem." So off we went. Got on the Suitland Parkway and the closer we got to the exit ramp for Suitland Road, the more the car was by that time, beginning to cough out clouds of white smoke. When I got to the stop sign where the ramp merged into Suitland Road, the car totally shut off on me and these humungous clouds of really thick white smoke were then totally enveloping the car.

My girlfriend, Joan (who, by the way 41 years later, is still my bestest friend) was really in a panic. She was yelling at me that we'd better get the hell off the road and out of this car cause she just knew the eff'er was gonna explode on us and we would go up in a poof of smoke.

About that time, some nice guy came along and pushed us from the ramp clear down (about a mile, maybe 2) to the ESSO (precursor of EXXON I think) station just past Pennsylvania Avenue where a good friend of mine worked. As we drifted into the gas station, smoke still billowing from under the poor car, my buddy Jerry came out, took one look at the car and said, "Oh man! You're Mom is gonna kill you cause you just killed her car I think."

And yes indeed, I had done that. I'd caused the complete demise of that old boat of a car that Joan and I always called "The Green Hornet."

Although I really couldn't afford it, I had to get another car then. We couldn't deal with not having a vehicle even though I usually took the bus to work. So car shopping I went.

I called a guy I knew from back home here who always worked as a new car salesman in the Virginia area and he had always worked at a Ford dealership too -which was great in my book cause I still had the "Ford is best" theory working in my mind - thinking back to my Dad's old 1940 Ford, ya know. But, as luck would have it, he was working at that time for a Chevy dealership out at Seven Corners in Virginia. I have no clue how the heck I got out there to look at the cars available - since we sure as heck didn't have a second car sitting around and I can't think that I would have taken the bus that far. That would have taken me half the day just making bus connections to get out there. But somehow, I got there and Mick convinced me the best car for me, at that point in time, was a new 1967 (end of the season, left-over unit) Nova, in steel blue, two door, radio and heater and white-wall tires too for a mere $2,617. Yes, I remember the price tag of the first car I bought! I remember too I had to get a small loan from the bank for $240 to use as the down payment. My car payment was $66 a month for three years, and the bank loan repayment was $32 a month for a year, so for the first year I had that puppy, I was coughing up just under $100 a month to pay for it.

Considering I wasn't even earning $100 a week then and had to pay rent, car insurance then, a couple other bills and buy food (and clothes too) for myself, my older daughter AND my Mom, I worked a lot of overtime in order to make that car my own!

I had that car till about 1973 when my then husband convinced me to sell it to someone for $600 and I don't recall what type of vehicle we got then to replace the Nova.

In November of 1977, hubbie and I decided we needed a new car and we ended up buying a really sharp, new (1978, not a leftover on the lot) Chevy Monte Carlo that was all white with powder blue plush (velour) interior. WOW. It was a looker, that baby was. I don't know who was prouder of that car though - me or my husband.

But in 1979, when the marriage was going down the tubes and I was stuck driving a raggy, ramshackle bucket of bolts big-assed station wagon that was really a mess and not reliable to make five runs a week over the mountain to work in State College (75 miles round trip which came to 375 miles a week), I knew I had to bite the bullet and buy a new car. I went to the dealership where Frank had worked and got myself a cute little Chevy Chevette - solid black. The sticker price on it was around $4200-$4400 - don't recall the specifics on that one and my payments were $127 a month - that part I do remember -for five years.

Now that was a car! It was just perfect for me - small, easy on gas, low maintenance too it proved to be as well. By the time it got its first oil change, the car had 117,000 plus miles on it and at 135,000, I had both the time and money to get the oil changed a second time. That car had great traction too for a little bug type vehicle -would "walk" right up roads here that were snow-covered and slippery and where better cars would fail. But my trusty little Chevette never let me down at all!

In 1984 though, the milage was by then up close to 150,000 on the Chevette and I was concerned it was going to probably die on me so I found a used Ford Fairlane that my then boss had on his used car lot for $1,200 and bought that. The thing I liked the best about that car was that it had air conditioning -and not the kind you joke about involving rolling down the windows either. But sadly, after a little over a year's time, the air conditioning was about the only thing that worked prety much the way it was supposed to. Getting the car to keep running any time you had to stop for a light or stop sign was getting to be next to impossible. It was breaking down so regularly and even my ex-brother-in-law, who is one of the best mechanics in about a three-county area, couldn't get it to run right and he advised me I'd best start looking for a new unit of some type.

And so, back to the "olde dealership" I did go in hopes of finding another Chevette that would serve my needs as well as this one had done. Instead though, I ended up buying a 1988 Subaru Justy, which - until it totally rusted out on me -did run just about as good as the Chevette had done.

In 1994, when I was working two jobs (my normal way of life for many years) except one of these two jobs was in Baltimore, 220 miles from here, Monday thru Friday and then I would come home Friday night and work the weekend at the "weather place" in State College and that old Justy, my brother-in-law was afraid was going to just break apart in the middle of the frame from all the rust it had so a-shopping I did go and I came home with yet another Subaru Justy - a 1994 model, in silver grey.

After making darned sure the car was rust-proofed as part of the sale package, I ran that buggy till 2000, and with close to 160,000 miles on it, I traded it for a brand-spanking new Ford Focus! Finally - a Ford!

My son is all about either Chevrolet or Volkswagon Bugs -from the 1960's with the "VW Bugs" though and although he did concede that some rating system for vehicles had given high marks to the Subarus I'd bought, therefore, he could excuse my driving that make vehicle, when I bought that Ford Focus, you'd have thought I'd just committed hari kari or something.

But, the Focus did me well. Really, it did. The fact that any car I ever bought new I also always purchased the special "Disability" insurance along with the car financing package because I knew I had to always have a car but if I were sick or injured, couldn't work, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't lose my mode of transportation. Little did I know when I bought that Focus what a good move it would be for me that I had bought that insurance as when I got sick in 2003, cancer of the colo-rectal region -that insurance covered the last two years worth of payments on the Focus!

I'd probably still be driving that Focus today too if my son hadn't managed to total it on Christmas Night a year ago.

I was looking to buy a used car then cause I knew I didn't want any car payments to have to make with my poor little social security disability check income and since my son-in-law is also a mechanic, he was looking around for a good used unit for me. In doing so, he learned a buddy of his who runs a small used car thing on the side, had this 1996 Ford Windstar van for sale. According to Bill, the book price on this minivan was between $2,600 and $2,800, but his friend had said if I was interested, he'd let me have it for a mere $1,800.

I'd pretty well decided this car sounded like a decent enough deal but then Mandy learned that Bill's friend was low, really low on funds at that time and that maybe, just maybe, she could talk him into knocking a few more bucks off the price and that's how I came to get this car for around $1,500-1,600!

It runs nice; isn't too bad on gas except at gas prices that are now up to $3.20 per gallon, I still costs me almost $60 just to fill the tank on it. However, since I don't go running around that much with it, I can usually run the van for a month on that amount of gas fuel.

And there you have it folks! All the cars I have owned, myself plus one that was jointly owned (the monte carlo) and which was also "gone with the wind" in the divorce settlement, plus the cars of my childhood to my early 20's.

I hope I can keep this van running -and running - and running -and never have to worry about buying another car, new or used, again.

Who's The Boss?

I've been derelict of my posting the past two days. I know it, but conditions just were not conducive to my posting. Yesterday, I was really, REALLY tired all day because a certain little boy had me up way late and when I figured I could catch a couple catnaps during the day, about the time I would just doze off the darned phone would ring and wake me up. So, as a result, I was about in a zombie state by 8 p.m. last night when I wandered off to my room to lay down and didn't get up till 4 a.m. this morning! No, I didn't sleep soundly that entire time -did wake up now and again -but as none of those little "wake-ups" necessitated my getting up and out of bed to go to the bathroom, I was able to go right back to sleep so in essence, I got myself the most sleep over a stretch of time that I've been lucky enough to get in a long, long time!

The past two days, the 16-year-old has been home from school, sick. Apparently the flu as she's been complaining that she just aches all over and she has a cough as well. I tried to tell her this morning to take some of the Mucinex DM as it worked really well for me breaking up a bad cough but she explained to me that her cough was just very dry is all. Hmmm. You coulda fooled me! When she does start to cough, it sounded pretty doggone croupy to my old ears. I don't think she has a clue what a dry cough is as opposed to one that is "productive." This is the same person who can't tell chicken from roast beef from pork roast or pork chops, ya know. I think maybe link sausage is probably the only meat she is able to identify so I'm not gonna believe that her cough is "dry" after what I heard when she was hacking away.

Kurtis is currently doing the nocturnal thing again tonight - running around the living room here now -yes, at 2:12 a.m., he's up and ripping and tearing. Mandy and I are both hoping he will soon run out of steam.

This wasn't Kurtis tonight - it's a little video that Kate (the 16-year-old) took of him right after Christmas with HER new digital camera that she got for her birthday. When it comes to that kind of technology, that kid is way, way, WAY ahead of me! This was one of her first tries at doing a video so it's a bit on the dark side, but you can see he was a "moving and a grooving" that night -and he moves even faster now!

Little Miss Maya has learned a few new things lately too - some additions to her vocabulary as a matter of fact. Much as I am happy to see she's acquiring new words, there are a few things she's picked up of late that I think we're gonna have to put a little clamp on her -actually, on us, and the things we say around her here.

Take tonight for example - she was out in the kitchen messing around - not usually a good thing for her to be out there when no one else is there too -and I was after her, telling her she needed to come into the living room. And she was being her normal ornery little self and paying not a lick of attention to my commands. So I told her she'd best get in her and do it now cause she didn't want me to come out there and get her. Same response - she stayed put in the kitchen. I got up and began heading out there and when she saw me coming she took whatever it was she had in her hand and threw it and then, threw herself down on the floor in front of me, kicking and hollering at me "Leave me alone, ya goof!"

Yep, that's exactly what she said - what she called me! And I know exactly where she learned that too as Mandy and I both have a tendency when she does some things that aren't exactly what we want, we do use that word to her - along with a few other terms of endearment -turkey, goober, stinker, etc.

I had a little heart-to-heart chit-chat with her then - asking her who is the boss here anyway and her response to that, honest enough that it was, "Maya!" I promptly told her she was very misguided in her beliefs there because Grammy is the boss here! (No I didn't say she was misguided, but I did tell her that I. Am. The. Boss. GRAMMY is the boss, not Maya!

She wasn't overly happy with me as I gently led her into the living room but she didn't have a mega meltdown on me and plopped her little butt on the sofa where she sat quietly, looking at a couple of her books and within about 10 minutes max, she had curled up and fallen asleep on the couch.

When Mandy came home about an hour after all this took place, she went to get Maya off the couch to take her up to her bed and Maya woke up. At first she was being agreeable to going to bed, then she started to whine a bit and Mandy put her foot down -said she had to go up to bed then and to give Gram a hug and kiss good night. At first she protested some more but then finally, she came over to me and gave me a big hug and a kiss and said "nite-nite, Gram." As she headed towards the stairs with her mother, I called out to her and asked "Maya, who's the boss here?"

Her answer: "Gram."

For one night now anyway, I won one little battle but the war, I fear, has just begun.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Information, Please

I think - as usual - I may have reversed some things with this Survey thing I signed up for - see the post directly below here for more information. I think this survey is the one I was actually supposed to fill out first, but I didn't -I did the one below first.

But what the heck, here it is anyway. If it strikes your fancy, copy it to your blog and fill one out too! Or just have fun reading this and picking on me for being so darned dense!

And yes, that is really the name of my hometown too! Honest! I swear it's true!

Coming Clean

Saturday night, as Mandy was bathing both the two little ones - and I was in my normal habitat, that being my "base" -parked in front of the computer, surfing or playing my favorite game, Zuma, my space was rudely interrupted by Mandy, calling for me to hurry and come into the bathroom. Ok, I'm figuring she needed a hand with one of the kids or something, so I slowly rise and move the distance back to the bathroom to see what she needs.

As it turned out, she just wanted me to come and see what the grandson was doing in the tub. (No, he wasn't making any strange deposits there, thankfully!) Seems he was so thoroughly caught up in the fun of bathtime, he was dipping his face into the water and as a result, he had bubbles, hanging all over his face - forehead, nose, chin, cheeks -even his little mouth! Now, had I known it was a moment in time like that which she wanted me to see, I would have reached up, grabbed the camera and gone in there all aimed, ready to snap some great "action" photos. However, that wasn't the case as I had to turn around, go back to the living room, get the camera and then try to get Kurtis to cooperate as I tried to focus and get a couple pictures that could have been really cute (I think so anyway) had I been faster on the draw and better prepared.

But anyway, here's what I came away with:
By the time I got any pictures snapped, this was all of the bubble boy look that was left.
Here he is, squirming all over the place, as Mandy tries to dry him off and get him dressed.

Here's Maya, watching in amazement -or is it more like a state of shock - as Mandy tried to keep Kurtis from falling off her lap and getting him dry and ready for bed.
Here, he'd finally calmed down a little bit anyway and Mandy was actually able to make some headway with the whole process.

I was going to write a post and use these photos last night but then decided I'd leave that for a post for today - today, meaning Sunday. But then Sunday just didn't afford me any computer time to do a post and put these photos up, so here it is now, 4:24 a.m. on a Monday morning and I am just now getting around to writing a post - and using those photos.

I thought using those pictures of the two kids, all squeaky clean ya know, would make for a perfect backdrop for my post today.

Earlier this morning, as I was doing my blog reading (between midnight and 3 a.m. today) I came across something on one of my favorite blogs - something that was really nice to read, very complimentary to me, not just by the blogger but also by one of her regular readers and commenters to her blog but made me realize I definitely need to clear the air here!

The blogger was Molly Gras and the really nice compliments from Dave in the comments section opened my eyes really in disbelief. (By the way, Dave's blog -Rather Than Working also happens to be yet another of my favorite blogs to read -if you have never read Molly or Dave's blogs, go check them out some time for some really interesting, often humorous, takes on their lives.)

Molly apparently is laboring under the delusion that I am several things that I most definitely am not! Organized being one of them. And her calling me the "Keystone of sanity and support" for my family -well, I appreciate someone thinking that but then, if my kids happen to read her post, it would probably be weeks before they would stop laughing about me being described in those words.

Back in the days when I was still working, I was usually pretty organized - at work, anyway. At home though, that's always been a talent that totally escapes my abilities. I have never been anywhere near to being what one would call a "model housekeeper" - one never knows where things in this house might happen to be found on any given day. Take yesterday just for one fine example. I'm addicted to the Sunday crossword puzzle in the CDT - just have to be able to sit down at the table, a fresh hot cup of coffee, preferably a donut or maybe two, followed of course by a good healthy (cough, cough) dose of my cigarettes, as I sit there and struggle most Sundays to get even a few words filled in here and there. And yesterday, when I got bogged down, couldn't think of some answers, I decided it was time to haul out the big guns, my two Crossword puzzle dictionaries and the Thesaurus/Dictionary for some help. Only problem with that idea was I needed help in locating those books! Where in blazes were they anyway? I went through the bookcase, not once, but several times. Checked the shelf in the dining room thinking maybe I had stuffed them up there with my cookbooks (two shelves worth of cookbooks ya know) sometime when I was in a hurry to get them put up and out of harms way of two pair of little grubby hands that often prefer to rip and tear pages in books and magazines, as opposed to politely turning the pages. Nope! My special dictionaries weren't there either. I looked on my desk, in the storage area of the desk, the shelves along the side, the cabinet beside the desk and even in the china cupboard and small buffet in the dining room and came up empty-handed every where I searched. Where in blazes could they possibly be? I inquired of Mandy first - who was playing "Sgt. Schultz" with her "I know nawthing" routine and then, I asked the 16-year-old if she'd perchance seen them recently. She has a penchant at times for taking things and putting them in her room or carting stuff to school too and those items rarely ever resurface then either. She looked around a bit and then, after a little while, she called to me that she had found them. Where were they, I inquired and she said she'd found them in the cellar way! Now, who in bloody, blue blazes thought that would be an appropriate place to put these three books is absolutely beyond me - I know one thing for sure, I NEVER put them THERE! I'm kind of betting it was probably the son-in-law who crammed them there because he would never think to put them in the bookcase which is where they actually belong and where, most of the time, I keep them there too. He's not exactly on the friendliest of terms with any books unless they involve cars!

For about two years, a couple of years back, I used to write small articles mainly about local history type things for a very small, local monthly newsletter publication here. I used to joke too that the editor/publisher and I got along together very well because we were both very disorganized and also, we both practice procrastination -heavily! We were pretty much "neck and neck" on the disorganization thing and she had me maybe by a nose on the procrastination.

The other thing Molly mentioned - "keystone of sanity and support" - well anyone here who knows me well - my kids especially, but also my friends and neighbors -will probably line up to tell you stories about me and my not being totally sane, not by a long shot! One year, I was so jammed up with working two jobs, getting slammed too with extra hours at the one place so that I was working 80-90 hours a week for close to two months after Christmas that year that I hadn't gotten the time to take the Christmas tree down by the end of February. I left it sit a while longer (it's artificial so no danger there of it creating a big mess with pine needles or anything like that.) Finally, by the time Easter rolled around and the tree was still standing, all trimmed, my older daughter offered Mandy $20 if she would de-frock the tree and take it down. Mandy refused her generous offer and I decided if she wasn't interested in taking it down for money, I sure as hell wasn't going to be doing it then for free. I left the tree up that entire year and come Christmas, told everyone about how much time and stress I'd saved myself too by doing that! Along about July or August of that year, older daughter and my grandson Alex - who was about 3, maybe 4 years old then, were here one Sunday and Alex had very politely whispered a question to his mother about why did Grammy still have a Christmas tree up and decorated and Carrie told him "Just don't ask, Alex, don't ask. Somethings are best not to question here." And he accepted that it was just one of Grammy J's weird little ways.

I'm also the person who ran a 1979 Chevette for 117,000 miles before getting the oil changed on it. I thought my brother-in-law, who is also a very good mechanic by trade, was going to smack me when he found out the car had run that long without an oil change. But really, I had explained to him, I have the oil checked every time I get gas and it uses maybe a quart of oil every 1,000 to 1,500 miles so isn't that then in essence changing the oil every 3,000 to 4,500 miles? Well, that logic worked for me and apparently it worked out ok for that car too as it had around 142,000 miles, give or take, when I sold it to some guy who ran it for a work car, then passed it on to his son for a school car and all he ever did to it was put in a new battery!

Now Dave labors under the impression too that I am "bubbly" -they both also seem to think I have lots of energy. Nope, not me, not the last time I checked anyway! Ok, that might have been me 25 years ago, even 10-15 years ago but certainly isn't me today! Since having had three major surgeries in the past 4 plus years, along with I think 5, maybe 6 colonoscopy procedures (which by the way the prep for those puppies is much, much worse than the procedure!), and having had two herniated discs, along with an overabundance of arthritis in my ankles and knees, radiation residue in my lower back too, I move anything but quickly these days! I hibernate most of the time too in my house - even in the summertime. A little exercise, I know, wouldn't be a bad idea to perhaps help shave a pound or two off my frame but my back and legs cringe at the thought of walking that much! I'm going to try to get out and walk more this spring, summer and fall though. That's what I'm telling myself now but wait till next November or December and ask me how well that game plan went too, will ya?

And, I'm going to go out on a limb here this morning and confess to something else too. This is something that might aggravate some folks perhaps - those who also have children or family members who are autistic. I'm going to be gut level honest here and tell you that although I love, cherish and adore both my two little grandchildren (Maya and Kurtis) and I accept Maya's diagnosis of autism and the possibility that Kurtis may too be diagnosed as autistic as well, that doesn't mean I don't wish they didn't have it or that they weren't that way!

Lately, several bloggers I read who have children who are autistic have posted that it is wrong to wish for things like that and in doing so, they seem to think it diminishes the autistic person, takes away from the love of them for who they are and in that respect, I beg to disagree.

Can anyone tell me -honestly speak out -if you have a child who is autistic - or a grandchild or niece, nephew, cousin, whatever - and say that you wouldn't rather they didn't have to cope with the issues autism can bring? Don't we all wish for the very best possible for our family? That doesn't mean children or adults who are autistic aren't fantastic individuals -people we love and hold very close to our hearts. That doesn't mean that we would trade them in ya know, like a used car for a better model. But does it mean we have to take the facts of autism and just accept that it is probably going to make for a much more difficult road for the child who has that to hoe, than for children who are "normal" -as if we really all can agree too as to what normal means? I love Maya, with every fiber of my being and will do anything I can to help her learn, to function better now, and in the future, yes indeed - and the same applies to her brother just as it does for my older grandson, Alex, who has none of these issues to deal with.

But I worry about how other children will perceive Maya once she leaves the more insulated area of the preschool program she attends now and starts attending public schools. Perhaps by then, she will have learned enough about how to socialize with other children better and she won't be dealt the hand of having other children ostracize her, pick on her for her quirky ways or some such. Children -and adults as well - can be very cruel about dealing with others who don't operate exactly the way they expect or want them to do ya know and I would hate to see Maya crushed in any way like that. Certainly, I would much rather she not have to deal with that aspect of life. Who in their right mind would? But because I wish she would never have to encounter that type of issue - because of her autism - does that mean I don't love and accept her fully?

Perhaps I am wrong to feel this way but I don't honestly believe anyone who says they wouldn't change their child -to be free of the autism or special needs a child may have -is being fully honest then either. The same person would still be there in the body - just better able to work through the growing up process and be able to function better, easier too perhaps, then as an adult.

Feel free to disagree but show me in no uncertain terms that you wouldn't change certain behaviors if you could, that you wouldn't be relieved not just for yourself but for the autistic child (or adult) if the meltdowns didn't occur, if head-banging was no longer a concern or communication was better, speech came along in the more normal time frame, potty training wasn't an issue in a child who is 6, 10 or even a teenager? Those are just a few, barely scratching the surface, of things that can and often do affect someone who is autistic. They also affect people with many other special needs too, but that still doesn't make them undeserving of being loved and accepted but it also still doesn't mean if someone wishes their loved one could NOT have to contend with those things, in addition to life in general, that it is wrong to wish things were different.

Time to "come clean" is my theory on that.

It's no different than wishing for a better paying job, a better home, nicer, easier way of life or even getting a winning lottery ticket, is it?