Saturday, May 31, 2008

Of Kids and Kittens

This afternoon, Mandy, the kids and I took a drive down to a store in Moshannon that often carries items that other stores regard as "discontinued" stuff and one of the things Mandy wanted -and has been able to find there before -was a new head for our mop. So, away we went and ended up making quite a trip out of it all.

Moshannon is a little village about 8 miles from here but by the time we got back home, we'd logged in probably close to 100 miles on the odometer!

After leaving the store, we headed off to Snow Shoe and Mandy realized after she'd passed this one place that they were having a yard sale there -and she remembered too that last year, she'd stopped at that particular place and had come home with oodles of items for Maya in the way of "back-to-school" clothes and all for about $12.00 total! Today, we made out very well there again. I got Maya 3 or 4 really cute little shirts (the knit type, ya know) along with a snowsuit for Kurtis that is like new! Really nice, very heavy and only $3.50 for the jacket and snowpants plus it is a "Weather-Tamer" brand, so very well made. Mandy also got Kurtis a jacket that is fantastic. It is a winter jacket by Oshkosh but is two jackets -actually more like three -in one! The inside jacket is nice and heavy-weight and it can be turned inside out and worn with the fleece side to the outside if you wish. The outer most part of the jacket, if you remove the inner one, can be worn more as a "slicker" type but it also has a nice lighter weight lining in it too. The cost for that coat? A mere $2.50! I also got a bunch of place mats too - all in Christmas designs -for about $2.25 -for 9 place mats, cloth, very, very pretty and well taken care of too!

After the yard sale, we went on down the mountain to Milesburg where we stopped at the Travel America Truckstop where I used to work and had supper there. The lady who usually worked the Saturday dayshift as assistant manager when I was there -and who I was hoping to see today as I haven't seen her in about six years now, wouldn't you just know it, but she has changed her work days and is now off on Saturday! Dang! But I did get to see one of my favorite characters who worked there when I was assistant manager and that was the prep cook, Donnie! He's a piece of work and one heck of a strong and good worker too. I always liked him very much when I worked there and also, his son, who was only about 18 or 19 years old then and was our dayshift dishwasher. Heck of a good worker he was too -just like his dad! But getting the son -nicknamed "Red" -to talk was like pulling teeth unlike his dad who can match up to me in the conversation department. I hadn't seen Donnie but maybe one time since I left that place and it was nice to see him, get to talk to him again. And, judging by his reaction when he realized it was me, there was no phony-baloney about whether he was happy to stop and chat a bit -as that's something Donnie doesn't do very well! If he likes you, considers you a friend, the smile tells it all and yep, it was really good to see his big wide grin again!

After leaving the Plaza, we took the long way home -driving down Route 220 towards Altoona to pick up one of the back roads to home that took us up through Black Moshannon State Park and then, through the forest where the real boony road winds around and comes out about 5 miles from home! Just a nice "Sunday" type drive on a Saturday afternoon!

Tonight, my older daughter called around 8 p.m. to tell me she'd had a little incident when leaving her house to go to work this evening. As she went out the door, there was a yellow jacket bee there and it stung her on her arm. She's been extremely fortunate in that this is only the second bee sting she's ever received as the first one, when she was around four years old was how we realized she is allergic to bee sting! Initially, she figured it was no big deal but by the time her fiance got her to work, her arm had swollen up, plus it was itching like crazy she said. So it was decided then that she needed to go to the emergency room to have this all checked out. She said she came very close to passing out at work until one of the other aides there got her a cold, wet rag to put on the sting and her forehead too. Anyway, the doctor gave her some kind of prescription to get filled and carry with her now too in the event something like this ever happens again. She's just lucky that she didn't have a much more severe reaction to this sting and it was enough to scare her pretty darned good too, I think.

This evening, Mandy found something that really entertained both the kids for several hours. She stuck a dvd in of "Dora, the Explorer" and both of them were totally mesmerized by it for about two hours! Ah, peace!
The "wardrobe" choice was Maya's. Quite the stylish little girl isn't she? And that ring of chocolate around her mouth too really does wonders for making her look super cool! I have no idea why she insisted on wearing this hat though because the other day, when Mandy wanted her to wear it to school, she wouldn't have anything to do with it and told us then she didn't like it! Go figure.

Now -here's some pictures I took tonight of the kittens. Kind of hard to get them to stop crawling all around -or to look at me too -although two of them do have their eyes open pretty well now. They were 10 days old today.
This is actually all four of them -the best shot I could manage while all four of them were squirming around.
Here's three of them - the grey one here is the smaller of the two grey kittens. This one and the darker colored kitten beside it are the only ones that have their eyes open already.
Here's the two little grey kittens and I think you can see the one on the bottom has its eyes open. The other grey kitten is much fatter than the other three kittens -apparently she's a bit of a little piggy!
This one, with its eyes open, was the smallest kitten and the last to be born. It is also the one that cries the most although, I have to say that all four of them are actually relatively quiet babies.
Here's a shot of the "Tubster" kitten! She's so darned cute; so soft and cuddly too!

And there you have it - a Saturday's events and some shots of our cute little kittens.

And Now - Here He IS!

I introduced you all a few days back -sort of -to the newest member of our family -that being the abandoned dog my son found and brought home to his house. On their way up to Clate's house, of course, he had to stop by here and show his sister and his Mom -along with the next-door neighbor's kids as well, this big dog he had rescued from starvation.

I took my camera with me every time I went out the past three days on the off chance that maybe Clate's roommate, Dan, might have the dog outside and I figured I'd stop and get some pictures of him then but until this evening, I had no luck in that venture.

This evening, Mandy, the two little ones and I had gone into Philipsburg to the Pizza Hut there for supper and on the way home, as we turned down the road into Grassflat, I told Mandy to call ahead and have Dan ready to bring Bon outside so I could do a little photoshoot then ya know. Which he did - and as a result, I now have a couple pictures of this beautiful -really big -dog to show and share with ya'll!

Here he is - looking at the car with Maya seated in the backseat (in her booster chair-carseat) looking back at him. She pretty much gets the same kind of look -that puzzled one -when she sees Bon and I think it is probably the sheer size of him. She doesn't appear to be really frightened of him or anything, just kind of like the rest of us -in awe 'cause baby, he is big!
This is Dan -my son, Clate's roommate -holding onto the lease while Bon looks over the lay of the land at his new home. Dan says each day now he has noticed that Bon is getting a little more alert about things in the house -and outside happenings too. The first day there, he just laid around, barely moving much and when he would stand up, he just trembled as his legs and the rest of his body too, was just too weakened to stand up for more than about a minute.

The second day, when cars would go by the house if they would honk the horn, Bon would attempt to bark in return. Today, as the cars would go by, he had more energy and would bark fairly loudly in return when they honked. Mandy apologized to Dan for that because she always honks the horn every time she drives past her brother's house. (I'm sure the neighbors there really appreciate that!)
Isn't he just a beautiful specimen though? Clate brought his dog book down here Wednesday morning and showed me a picture -and write-up too -of the type of dog he believes Bon most likely is -some kind of Brazilian Mastiff. I think he looks more like a regular mastiff myself.
And this picture, well, it's my favorite of the ones I took this evening of the lovely dog, Bon! My newest "grand-animal."

He sat -on command -to let me take this picture of him and while I was doing that, he could see into the backseat of the car and what caught his eye at that time was little Kurtis, sitting in his carseat, kicking away! When Bon got up from this pose, he went over to the car door which was open and wanted to stick his head into the back seat to get a better look at both Maya and Kurtis there. Dan laughed and said maybe he is smelling the kids and thinking "Ah, lunch!" I think he was just curious as to how those little legs of Kurtis' could move as fast as they do when he starts kicking around like he does!

A big "Thank you" to goes out to

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Something I Forgot -About Blogblast for Peace!

As usual, the darned senility factors set in on me last night when I did my last post -the one linking back to Mimi's (Queen of the Memes) Blog about the BlogBlast for Peace.

I forgot to include the meme part of this event! How the heck did that happen that I forgot to put something this important in there? Sheesh!

So, here's the instructions for the Meme for the Blog Blast for Peace!

It's a meme.
You know the drill.

**start copy**
BlogBlast For Peace Meme ~ Join The Revolution
Here are the rules and the story.
Copy this into a post, ADD YOUR NAME to the bottom of the tag list and tag as many people as you'd like.
The Peace Globe project began in the fall of 2006
with a simple post from one blog, Mimi Writes. The post ignited a flame in the blogosphere. The flame became a passion. The passion became a movement. It amazingly traveled from blog to blog to blog across the globe. Bloggers wrote passionate articles on what peace means to them, along with the promise of three Latin words scribbled on a globe - Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace) - branded with the integrity of their names or blog names. It was positively inspiring to watch. And it began to happen all over the world - from Singapore to China to Afghanistan to Brooklyn.

It was simple. And powerful.

In less than one week bloggers from all across the globe will blog for peace.

We will speak with one voice. One subject. One day.

Won't you join us? June 4, 2008

1. Choose one of the four Peace Globe designs in this post. Right CLICK and SAVE in JPG format. Grab the globe at the top or go HERE for other choices.

2. Sign the globe using Paint, Photoshop or a similar graphics tool. Decorate the globe anyway you wish. You can even include the name of your blog. Click here for hundreds of inspiring examples from previous BlogBlasts. If you need help with this, ASK! I will help you myself or send someone else to your blog.

3. Return the peace globe to me via email ~ mimiwrites2005 at - Let me know your blog's name and url by leaving a comment here and signing the Mr. Linky. Your submission will be numbered and dated in the official gallery . Your globe and post will be listed on the Official BlogBlast For Peace website and The Peace Globe Posts page.
Here's the most important part.

4. On June 4, 2008 DISPLAY YOUR GLOBE IN A POST. Title your post "Dona Nobis Pacem". This is important. The goal is for all blog post titles to say the same thing on the same day. Write about peace that day or simply fly your globe. Click here for examples of peace globe posts from previous BlogBlasts.

I, Mimi Pencil Skirt, royally tag the following.

A Simple Life Alasandra & The Cats Amel's Realm Amori,poesie,arte,chat by Hanna
And Miles To Go Before We Sleep... Another Desert Rat Anyhow Blogs Ask A Lesbian BearsMountain Bijoux & Banter Cafe At the End Of The Universe Caught In The Stream Clumsy Mommy Dottie's Place Drowsey Monkey Feathering On My Nest Heart Of Rachel Hello?....Is This Thing On? In Search Of Life It's All Good It's Not A Weekend: It's A Lifestyle JB's Small World Julie's Blog Just About Scrapping Just Me And My Creations
Just Write akeside Lair Laketrees Late Night Latte Leaping Before I Look Life Is A Roller Coaster Mama Pajama Maremagnum Marie Millard Maryannaville Momto3cubs My Dogs Keep Me Sane My So-Called Site Pet Monologues Rainbow In The Golden State Real World Mom
Reba's Run Rooms Of My Heart ose' World Sarah Spelled The Right Way Secret Monologues
Ship's Log Of GT281 Simply Sassy Speedcat Hollydale Tarheel Ramblings Tell Me About It
That Grrrl The Backwoods Drifter The Cookie Sheet The Evil Blogger Twin The Furry Diva
The Gaytheist Agenda his And That this is Jo Kate Moss, but not
This That and The Other Thing Vixen's Den What She Said Too Will Write For Food
Witty Writer Gal Wonderland Or NotWorld So Wide Your Caring Angels

I shall return with Round 3 and an official globe count and list of missing locations.......

Please consider passing this meme through the blogosphere.

This is Mimi Pencil Skirt reporting from the lovely land of the Peace Globes.

Memeing the Movement.
**End Copy**

And, here's my very own Peace Globe for the June 4, 2008 Blog Blast for Peace.

Won't you join us all now as we bombard the universe with Peace Globes and posts in an effort to end the bombarding of the bad kind -the ones that kill, maim and destroy peoples lives, their land, homes and the world?

Help the Blogging Community to end these atrocities. Please! Come and join forces now with all of us for a strong, unified front and as ONE really BIG VOICE!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pleas for Peace, Please!

Just in case you haven't heard, haven't seen this anywhere in the Blogosphere, there's a big event coming up next week -on June 4th -the BlogBlast for Peace! Being my normal, heavy-duty, procrastinating self, I'm just a little bit slow on getting my Peace Globe up and posted but finally decided tonight I better play "Larry, the Cable Guy" and just "Git 'er done!"

If you read all the posts Mimi has put up about a reason to "Blog for Peace" then you know this is something that really needs to be done -and with as much "uumph" -power of words, you know -that we, the blogging community can possibly muster.

I'm not going to write about all the various places around the world where there are terrible struggles going on -some that have been going on now for decades -in the quest for peace. My words are not strong enough -alone -to have any impact on these areas, on these problems. But, with bloggers all around the world united, reaching out, crying for peace, praying that people will some how see the wrong involved in things like genocide, slavery, trying to impose an unwanted regime on people across the hemisphere, maybe, just maybe, our words, our voices will ring out, loud and clear for all the hear to please, hear these pleas, and grant us ALL -every last one of us -PEACE!

I am not saying to people in other countries that the only way to gain peace is to adopt the tenets we have in place here in this country -in the USA. I may believe our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence are wonderful but perhaps for other cultures, the words of our documents don't hold the same meaning. Fine! Then sit down with other fair-minded individuals and work out an agreement that works then in each particular country, with each culture.

Each and everyone of us desires freedom, should be able to live without fear of oppression. Those who wage war to try to force a particular type of religion on everyone else would not want that done to them -then why do it to others?

Those who wage wars for financial gain -how long will it take, if you win your cause, before someone else comes along and decides it is time for someone else to control all the wealth and a war erupts all over again? What has been gained other than people's lives -and livelihoods too - being lost, destroyed, some never to be rebuilt again? I fail to see any benefit to actions such as those.

To destroy people -because of their ethnicity -how long will it be before yet another group comes along and decides their group is the one, true people and a people, a culture is perhaps done away with completely?

What really is there to be gained?

By waging war, eventually there is nothing that will be gained.

To find a way to enable people to live, to have shelter, food, clothing, to provide a means for people to walk, talk, work, play, and love each other gives so much more to all concerned -not just a select few.

If each of us decides to announce through our blogs that we believe PEACE is not just a wild and crazy dream but something that is possible, our voices, united, can begin to bring about change -one small step at a time at first but with each word, each step, each movement in that direction, it would -no, it WILL -create a ripple effect that can make the difference needed to stop the violence, end the wars, and yes, bring peace to all mankind.

We here can use our voices to work toward this end by working to end hatred, discrimination, poverty, starvation in various ways -one of which is to exercise your right to vote and in doing so, send a message that killing, plundering, raping under any circumstances is not acceptable.

We can help stop the senseless violence by teaching our children about diversity -the beauty of all people, all cultures -all lands.

Use the power vested in each of us to do whatever possible to educate others in becoming self-sufficient. Use the education, the tools given through that means to show compassion, to spread love, not hate, not war.

Why not take to heart the words of the song -do it now, not tomorrow as tomorrow may be to late -but to "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin With Me!"

Just "IMAGINE" how wonderful that would be! John Lennon had the right idea in his song.

Just DO IT NOW - Please!

Animal Lovers!

Boy, what a day!

When I got up this morning, Mandy informed me that good old Mama cat, Jorge, had decided to up and move her family -lock, stock and barrel! Seems that sometime in the early morning hours, she had decided the location of the box we had fixed for her and her babies was too risky, creating too much disruption for her and her little ones, not safe because of a certain little over zealous four-year-old who wants to hold, cuddle, and darned near squeeze the living daylights out of these sweet little kittens, so she went in search of a new, safer abode.

Her decision, as Mandy informed me where she'd found Jorge and children, was to move them into my bedroom and try to stash them in a dark corner under my sewing machine! I decided I wasn't in favor of that move and promptly managed to get all four kittens out from that corner and placed them back in the box just outside my room! Wish you'd seen the dirty looks that Mama cat gave me too when I moved her children out to where they'd been.

The really funny thing about this move though -and I wish I could get a picture of this to show you - is how she must have struggled to move the kits from the box to the area under my sewing machine.

My bedroom used to be the sunporch on the house. It's located right off the front entrance and in fixing this up as my bedroom, my son put up a partial wall that split the sunporch into two segments. The larger part (which really ISN'T all that large) is my bedroom and the smaller segment serves as a sort of foyer between the front door and the dining room. But that wall doesn't go from ceiling to floor. No, it has about a foot gap from the ceiling down to where the wall begins. The top of that wall is also lined almost solid too with shoes - children's and baby shoes belonging to Maya and Kurtis!

Seems the way that Mandy found out what Jorge was up to was because when she got up this morning, she noticed some strange noises coming from the foyer area and upon checking into this, saw the Mama cat, scaling this "wall" with the fattest of the kittens in her mouth and somehow, by the Grace of the Good Lord, she managed to get up and over that barrier with no harm to the babies at all!

Later today, when Kurt's speech therapist arrived, Mandy went to take her to show her the kittens and lo and behold, one of the kittens was missing! We figured maybe Jorge had decided to start moving her babies again back under the sewing machine and looked there but found no kitten! We hunted high and low for almost two hours for that baby until Mandy finally found it -kind of wedged between a box under an old dresser in my room and the dresser beside the sewing machine! We then decided to just move the whole box into my room. Like I have so much room in there to spare you know. Well, what the heck is one more box in that small space that's already pretty jumbled up to begin with if it gives Jorge that much extra peace of mind, ya know!

Tonight, my son came down for supper with Mandy and the kids and me. It was a "normal" meal with him here as he loves to tease the 16-year-old as much as possible along with lots of barbs getting tossed back and forth between him, his sister and me in the process too. Always a fun time with him here. And, he -like Mandy - is also very much a cat lover too so he wanted to have a chance to spend a little time watching the new babies a bit too before he goes back on the road early this morning now and will be gone for probably the next 5-6 days. By the time he gets back home, no doubt these babies will have grown a lot and changed a good bit in their appearance too.

About 90 minutes after he finished supper and left, he pulled up in front of the house and came running in here to grab Mandy as he breathlessly began to tell her about a dog that her sister-in-law had discovered while out walking along the woods this evening with her two children. She could tell the dog was emaciated, had most likely been dropped off and she, like my son -and Mandy -gets really worked up over an animal in need. So she texted a message to Clate about this dog and how something needed to be done to help it.

So Clate had dropped everything and drove out to where she had found the dog, got him loaded into the cab of his pickup truck and was here then, looking to see if we had anything like dog food here that we could give him till he and his roommate could get things set up at his house for the animal. Of course, Mandy went running out to check on this poor dog and me, right behind her too.

But I have to tell you this much, although my kids and I all tend to favor large dogs -and the last dog my son had - Andrei -was a very big German Shepherd and Akita mix, nothing prepared me for the size of the beast in my son's pickup truck!

Folks, I kid you not! At first glance from the sidewalk, it looked like he had a pony in the cab of his truck! This dog is ginormous! Yes, indeed it is!

He looks to be a mix of either a Great Dane and Mastiff or possibly has a bit of bloodhound in him, judging by the face and jowls. He's also obviously a much older dog too - has a good bit of gray hairs around his muzzle. But the eyes and his very quiet demeanor just begged all of us to "please, love me, won't you?"

Yep! That's exactly what Clate's going to try to do too! The dog is now up at his house and Clate and his roommate Dan, are trying to figure out now what they have to do next to ensure that the dog has the best chance possible to being put on the road back to better health.

The poor thing is -for all his size - really very scrawny right now so he must have been on his own out in the woods for a little while. Hopefully, regular feedings, some good old-fashioned loving care and he'll make for a good companion for Clate and his roommate to have in the house.

Clate said he seems to have "decent enough" manners and was trying to get a little accustomed to their house. Although Clate had told Mandy to call Dan and tell him to herd Nina, the cat, into one of the bedrooms, Dan hadn't been able to do that before Clate brought the dog home and into the house. He said that the dog was sort of sniffing around the living room when Nina decided to come downstairs -totally unaware that there was a strange animal there much less one almost the size of Sasquatch! She (Nina) had made her way down almost to the bottom of the stairs, mewing a bit in her special way of announcing that she is coming to visit and grace you with her presence ya know when suddenly, the dog stuck his nose around the corner and she was face to face with his imposing presence! Clate said the look on her poor little face was absolutely priceless! But she didn't go running away -just stood there, eyeing him up and kind of doing a little sashaying around him then as delicately as possible. And he didn't seem to get upset to have a cat face to face with him either. Just a look that kind of said "Well, so be it!"

So now it should be interesting to see how this latest addition to our family will deal with the cat, with my son, with Dan, his roommate -and if they can nurse him into fairly decent health now too in the process!

Say a little prayer for the dog - the guys named him "BON" -after some musician in AC/DC apparently -and for reasons I won't go into on my blog! Some connotations there that are best left unsaid, ya know!

Time now too for me to go join Jorge and her babies to catch some sleep - in my room -for a change! Since Kurtis is now doing so much better at falling asleep at more reasonable hours and also, not awakening several times during the night, I've pretty much finally been able to sleep in my room again instead of camping out, night after night, on the living room couch! Gives me a chance to finally rest my back now for a change -and I'm really happy about that!

Nite all!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Babies In the House

Last week, if you remember, I posted about the new additions to our family. Our pretty little cat, the female with the male name (given to her by the 16-year-old -another story if you recall), presented us with four of the cutest little kittens you could ever hope to see!

I haven't tried to check the sex on these but, regardless of whether they are male or female, the 16-year-old has insisted since before they were born that Jorge would have four kittens (ok, she was right on that count) and that their names should be Jose, Javier, Enrico and Estevan. She also insists these kittens are"legal Mexican immigrant cats" too. Whatever that may mean, who knows. And sometimes, her logic is way too convoluted to even think of trying to figure some things out -this being one of 'em!

But anyway, here's some pictures now -finally -of these little sweetheart kittens.

Here's Maya, seated in her little "camp" chair (which Jorge also had taken a very strong liking to napping in it for the past 3-4 weeks) as she was watching and waiting for the kittens to arrive last Wednesday evening.
Here's Jorge shortly before the fourth kitten arrived. There are two kittens who are grey in color with markings almost identical to their mother and the other two are black with grey stripings - all four are really cute.

And here's Jorge with all four of her babies shortly after she got the fourth one all cleaned up and presentable.
And here's a picture of just the four little babies. They arrived in the following sequence - black, grey, grey and black and the smallest of the four - in the left hand corner -was the last one born. One of the grey kittens is apparently a little bit of a hogger as it is growing like wildfire! Getting really chunky, very quickly and apparently being that well-fed, it seems to be the calmest and quietest of the litter.

Needless to say, Maya is still very fascinated with all four of Jorge's children and the hardest task we have most every day is trying to keep Maya from strangling one -or all four -with her loving squeezes. So far, so good, in that department. Kurtis, on the other hand, seems to be totally oblivious to the presence of these four little ones - which is really a big relief to both Mandy and me. But then too, he's never paid too much attention to Jorge most of the time. Now, when we had Nina - the orange cat that my son took to live at his house -Kurtis was very aware of Nina's presence. But that was because he loves to kick the footrest on his high chair all the time and Nina loved to take lively little swats at those fast moving feet, ya know. I think Kurtis was more relieved than anything when Nina moved up on top of the hill with "Uncle Clayton." At least, Jorge has never tried to attack his legs and feet while he's eating anyway.

Now, before I wash up the last of tonight's supper dishes, I think I'll have to go have another peek too at Jorge's babies. Since the kids are both in bed and I can gaze at them by myself, in peace, ya know!

Senility Zone?

Boy, this time I think I've really gone over the edge! Yes, I am late posting this week's Bushisms but the reason - believe it or not -I got done in by the three-day weekend. Yep, was just sitting here tonight thinking about posting this week's Bushisms and I was thinking too that I was doing pretty good to be posting them tonight since they weren't late because, after all, it's only Sunday night ya know!

And that's when it dawned on me that no, this is NOT Sunday night. That was LAST night. Tonight, I finally realized, is actually Monday night! I kid you not. My mind was twisting around and thinking tonight was Sunday night. Talk about getting lost in space, huh? My own space, for sure there. So, anyway, here's this week's Bushisms and I shouldn't have to worry about screwing up my dates with a long, three-day weekend again now until September and Labor Day!

Monday, May 26, 2008 - 239 days left

"Finally, the desk, where we'll have our picture taken in front of -- is nine other Presidents used it. This was given to us by Queen Victori in the 1870s, I think it was. President Roosevelt put the door in so people would not know he was in a wheelchair. John Kennedy put his head out the door."
--Washington, D.C., May 2006

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 238 days left

"I always jest to people, the Oval Office is the kind of place where people stand outside, they're getting ready to coe in and tell me what for, and they walk in and get overwhelmed in the atmosphere, and they say, man, you're looking pretty."
--Washington, D.C. 2004

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - 237 days left

"So on behalf of a well-oiled unit of people who came together to serve something greater than themselves, congratulations."
--Addressing the University of Nebraska women's volleyball team, May 2001

Thursday, May 29, 2008 - 236 days left

"This administration is doing everything we can to end the statemate in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end."
--Washington, D.C., 2001

Friday, May 30, 2008 - 235 days left

"I'm goinna talk about the ideal world, Chris. I've read -- I understand reality. If you're asking me as the president, would I understand reality, I do."
--Hardball, May 2000

Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1, 2008 - 234 days left and 233 days left

"Actually, I --this may sound a little West Texas to you, but I like it. When I'm talking about --when I'm talking about myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me."
--Hardball, May 31, 2000

Phew! After reading those Bushisms for this week, it's no wonder I'm confused and got my days mixed up is it. I've been reading so many Bushisms it's causing my sense of reality to get all discombobulated too I think!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Diversity In Action?

If I told you I'm running way behind on so many things right now, would you be surprised? Probably not, since lately that does seem to be the only way I operate -late!

Yesterday, was a long day. Starting with only about 2-3 hours sleep (and not because Kurtis kept me awake but simply because I have been having difficulty falling asleep almost all week) and Kurtis had a doctor's appointment at 10 a.m. yesterday. So, I had to get up and get ready to go with Mandy to take Kurtis in for this checkup, mainly so there was an extra set of arms available to hold him down when the doctor tried to check little things -like his ears, heartbeat, etc. No needles were involved in this visit at any time however he has already developed this innate fear of doctors, stethoscopes, little lights - you name it! Mandy held his upper body down; I held his legs and feet and the poor doctor fought tooth and nail to try to check him over, listen to those little sounds while he screamed, kicked and carried on like a little raving maniac through the entire procedure. I know, I know - he's just a baby and he's frightened but boy, doctors trying to check toddlers -whether it's a general check-up or because the child is ill, really deserve every penny they charge for those appointments!

After the appointment, we spent close to 45 minutes at the garage where my son-in-law used to work (my brother-in-law still works there but unfortunately, he had taken the day off yesterday) so the shop manager tried to figure out what my son-in-law had disconnected in my van the other night when he was trying to keep my van running until he could get the time to work on it and fix a problem that often makes some switch or other malfunction, thus keeping the dome light burning and running the battery down. Whatever it was -some fuse or something -that he disconnected kept the battery from running down but it also disconnected the power windows thing which meant we couldn't open any of the windows in the van! Very disconcerting to ride in a closed up van with the sun shining brightly on you and the heat building up, etc. The poor shop manager couldn't find whatever it was that Bill disconnected so we ended up leaving there with the windows still tightly closed.

From there, it was off to Wal-mart for a bit of a "stock-up" shopping deal and then home before Maya got home from school at 3 p.m. Needless to say, I was bushed and as soon as I got the groceries put away, supper fixed, I headed for the couch for a nap. I had to do that then because I needed to be awake enough sometime last night to bake a batch of Swedish rye bread for the bake sale our church youth group was having today to get funds for a trip they are planning this summer to assist people in some other community with clean-ups of the property and such. After about a three hour nap, I got up, got my bread baked and back to sleep then around 2:30 a.m.

Today, I had to make another trip back to Wal-mart to buy a new portable mixer because last night while I was mixing up my bread dough, wouldn't you just know it but the motor on the mixer I have had for almost two years now burned out on me! Fortunately, the bread dough was at the point where I didn't really need the mixer to finish up as it was where I needed to mix the last of the flour in by hand and knead the bread to blend it in completely. Too stiff a dough to even think of doing that with ANY mixer actually.

I took Maya with me while I found another mixer and picked up a couple small items I had overlooked getting yesterday. After leaving Wal-mart, we then stopped at a nursery about 3 miles from home to buy flowers to put on the graves. The couple who own this particular nursery are around my age (not quite as old, but close) and their oldest daughter is one of my older daughter's best friends. They know me and they also know Maya a little bit but even so, as I got her out of the van and led her into the greenhouse, I was lecturing her over and over to please "DO NOT TOUCH THE FLOWERS!" She promised me she would listen, be good, not take off from me, not get into anything -the whole nine yards. Needless to say, she's a bit of a story-teller though and was trying her best to select all kinds of flowers that she felt I should purchase. I wouldn't have minded had she merely pointed them out but it was the picking some up by the stems that kind of made my heart flip-flop a bit as I could just picture having to buy a dozen or so slightly mutilated flowers that would never even survive the ride home much less to the cemetery, being transplanted and live for an hour beyond that ordeal.

This evening then Mandy and both kids and I went up to the cemetery where my parents are buried and got several of these flowers planted there. Not the best transplant -or arranging - jobs but they should last at least through next week if I am lucky!

Back home and time to start trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tomorrow -and how much to prepare too considering I have no clue right now how many will be here! Typical! The older daughter and her fiance are supposed to be coming up "sometime tomorrow." That could mean they will be here as early as noon or maybe not till as late as 4 or 5 p.m. Then there is my son who should have arrived back home from his weekly trucker run around 9 p.m. tonight and would be at his girlfriends' house tonight and who doesn't know if she is planning a cookout at her place tomorrow or not. But, considering he has to put a new starter on his car tomorrow, he says even if she is going to have a cookout, he probably will be down to eat but he'll just have to "double dip" then tomorrow - meaning eat here, go do something and then go to her place to eat again - or maybe reverse the order of where he will eat first and last. Who knows!??? So, to be prepared, I made a big batch of macaroni salad (Bill's favorite dish,) fixed a bit batch of deviled eggs and then, got Mandy to give me a hand fixing a big container too of Broccoli/cauliflower salad. Tomorrow, after church, I just have to fix a pan of potatoes to bake some oven-fried potatoes and mix up a cake while someone checks out the grill and does some burgers and maybe some pork chops too!

If you are wondering why I am prattling on about all these little things I've done yesterday and today and what sense this stuff makes with the title of this blog, the answer is NONE! It's merely my way of trying to tone myself down from going off into a huge rant about something Mandy saw on some of the autism parenting sites she visits online which totally angered both of us. I just felt I had to write about something totally different in order to stay a little calm, not be using tons of the really bad language my mind had been wanting to say earlier when I learned about this.

Did you all hear - or read -about the kindergarten teacher in Florida who had her class vote on whether to allow a little five-year-old boy in the class remain with the group? What's that all about you ask? Well, it seems according to one report I read that she was trying to teach the children about voting and they voted 14 to 2 that this one little boy should be voted out of their class. The kicker here is the little guy who was ousted is in the process of being evaluated and diagnosed with autism. Ah, now you know why this article caught both Mandy's and my attention - and our anger and ire as well.

To put a child of that age - and with a learning disorder such as autism, regardless of whether he is severely autistic, in a medium range or high functioning - to both Mandy and to me -was outrageously wrong, wrong and wrong again!!!! One report I read about this deal was that the children were only voting him out of the class for the day but try explaining that to a child on the spectrum! Lack of sensibility, lack of empathy, pure lunacy or idiotic behavior on the part of the teacher is what comes to my mind in this case -regardless of whether it was a move for one day or for the rest of the school term.

Is this a way to teach a child -or a classroom -about diversity and acceptance? Children understand diversity and acceptance when the differences that exist are not pushed on them and choices forced on them but rather by learning in an open-minded fashion to accept those differences, whatever they may be then on their own terms.

This has been a week that somehow doesn't show me how our society has advanced so much over the years in the acceptance of others who are different. First, the case of the 12-year-old autistic boy in Minnesota whose parents received a letter and citation about bringing their son to church. Yes, the priest at their family church had papers sent to the parents telling them they were not to bring the boy to mass any more because of the disruptions and fears he caused the parishioners apparently. Then, to add insult to injury, this case with the five-year-old Florida child being "shunned" buy his classmates. How ludicrous do things have to get before people will realize this is all just effing ridiculous!

I know my grandchildren can be disruptive in a church setting but still, Mandy and I both believe that they need and deserve the opportunity to learn the proper behavior in church. However, if they get too restless, too loud, Mandy will take the offender - or both if necessary - out either to the narthex, try to quiet them, calm them and then, if possible, come back in a pick up with the rest of the service. We did go through a period of about 13 months from May of 2006 until June of 2007 though when we did not take Maya to church at all because of her behavior issues. We had taken her from the time she was two weeks old to church and prior to that May, she had been doing fine but all of a sudden, totally out of the blue, she began to go into meltdowns as soon as we walked in the door of the church and then, it was as soon as we pulled into the church parking lot. So, to save our own sanity and preserve the peacefulness of the church service, we elected to leave her at home with her Dad until she became more willing to go with us, unafraid of whatever it was that was so dreadful and fearful to her in her mind. Today, she does very well in church -but as I said above, that wasn't always the case.

I know I can't compare Maya's behavior to that of this young fellow in Minnesota as it appears he has many more issues than Maya has had but I can understand the parents wanting him to be able to worship freely or as much as is possible for him to cope with at any rate. If it were me and my child, to be honest, I wouldn't try to force the child to deal with more than he is able to at this point -but then, that's just me there. It may be frustrating to other parishioners when he acts up and such but the only way he is going to ever learn too is by being able to be part of society too. A little more understanding on the part of the priest, the other church members too might be better for all concerned there too.

But the kindergarten case just totally disgusts me. How cruel a method to try to teach something like "voting" to a class by encouraging them to discriminate then against another child and to also have each child in the class TELL him why they voted him out of the class too!

Makes me wonder if we really are the intelligent ones of our species after all. Makes me wonder about what is our society coming to when, after all these years of trying to learn acceptance and lose the discriminatory aspects, will we allow things like this to go on?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Maternity Ward is Open

It's been a busy evening here. Also, an exciting one for Mandy and me but even more so for Maya.

Our lovely little cat -the supposedly male one named Jorge but who it was discovered about a day or two after it came to live with us that Jorge is not a male but rather a female - had kittens today.

I was out in the kitchen, cooking spaghetti sauce and all of a sudden, Mandy let out a shriek, calling to me, "Oh! MOM! Oh my God!"

She about scared the living daylights out of me and my first thought was that one of the kids had gotten into something, eaten some forbidden substance or well, who knows what.

I turned to look at her and she had hurried across the dining room to where Jorge was trying to kind of stretch out a bit and about that time, Jorge let out a fairly loud cry which then told me what Mandy was so excited about as she cried out to me "It's happening! It's happening!"

She hurried up and found a fairly large box in my room that had a couple of old towels from my Aunt's house that we had used to wrap and cover some of the dishes we got there and she brought it out into the foyer between my room and the dining room. Got Jorge all positioned in there and before we knew it, we had one little black striped kitten. That was about 6 p.m.

Although many autistic children do the hand flapping and it is something Maya did a great deal of back when she was about 2 years old, she rarely does it now unless she is really excited about something. Well tonight was full of hand flapping from her along with lots and lots of squeals from her too as she watched in astonishment as the first kitten showed up and then, for the next three hours or a little better, we all kept watch until now Jorge is apparently through adding to our family as she is all stretched out, reposing nicely with her four little babies.

Two are black with stripes and the other two are grey-striped and all four are nice sized and cute as the dickens. I know, I say that now but in about 6-8 weeks from now, when they are old enough, big enough to go on to other homes, I'll probably be so anxious to move them out that I'll even be considering fixing up a dowerysfor each one of 'em. (What would a dowery for a male kitten be called anyway? And, what would be appropriate gifties to put in a kitten's dowery too for that matter? Just wondering here.)

It was really difficult at first to keep Maya back from the box but finally, she brought out her little green camp chair and set it up beside the box so that way, she could sit and gaze in at these sweet little creatures.

With the first kitten, Maya was full of questions but the main one was why was Jorge licking the kittens? Mandy explained to her that Jorge was cleaning them, making them all soft and clean, cuddly, etc. Maya thought that over for a minute or two and then announced that "Jorge is scrubbing them, isn't she?" Yep, she's scrubbing them really good, kiddo!

After the third kitten arrived and Maya was trying to take a good peek at it, she discovered there was something else in the box with Jorge and her babies -something I really was hoping she wouldn't spy and WOULDN'T ask any questions about it. But, unfortunately, my luck had run out by that time. She kept pointing to this and asking about Jorge's "red poopie." She also noticed very quickly that Jorge was licking away at this too and it really put my mind to the test to figure out what to tell her this stuff was. Finally, I told her it was special vitamins that Mama cats have when each kitten is born and they then have to eat this to make sure the kittens are healthy. Thankfully, she bought that line. Explaining afterbirth to a four-year-old wasn't on my list of things I really wanted to do today.

Oh, and since I'm in such an exposure oriented mood -well, sort of -tonight, I may as well share Maya's other tidbit of the day too.

After a long drawn out process of her "getting her poop out" (as Maya calls her own body function in that realm), and after Mandy had taken her back and got her cleaned up, etc., she proceeded to come out and tell me she'd had a "nice big oval poopie."

Don't we just have some lovely pre-dinner time discussions here though?

Anyway, I think Jorge's family is now complete. I HOPE so anyway. And I will be posting some pictures in the near future of my new "grandkittens." Katie had planned to name them -regardless of the sex - Enrico, Estevan, Jose and now, neither Mandy or I can remember the fourth name Katie had picked out. Why the Spanish names? Kate insists that since she named the mother cat Jorge, these kittens are "legal Spanish immigrants" and therefore, must all have Spanish names. Don't ask me why or what possesses her some days. What causes a lot of the thought processes most 16-year-olds have anyway? Answer that question and I betcha we have the solution to Kate's name choices and ideas about the kittens ethnic status too.

Now, I have to go back and check on our new babies again. Just to make sure they're all ok, ya know. Uh huh. Sure I do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bedtime Blues

Right now - as I type this - the sounds floating down the stairs, emanating from Miss Maya's room -are not pleasant, not in the least. It's bedtime and a certain little four-year-old has been relegated to retire a bit earlier than her normal time due mainly to behavior issues.

What can I say other than "Them's the breaks, kiddo!"

I think it is more than safe to say that Miss Maya pushed not one but several buttons too many this evening with her mother and as a result -well we have one very unhappy camper, to say the least.

THe other little camper here isn't overly happy either but his issues pertain more to the problems he has from his allergies - itchy eyes, nose and the like -so he's had his evening meds, just needs his last evening bottle and hopefully those meds will all kick in and send him off, peacefully, to dream land.

This evening, one of the things Maya did earlier that started the ball rolling that ended up getting her into deep doo-doo with her mother was to take puzzle piece -from a wooden puzzle belonging to Kurtis, and place said piece under his chin and then, not very gently, push on it again his chin, throat area, ultimately kind of flipping it up and off his nose and face. Of course, Kurtis wasn't in the least bit impressed by his sister's skills -nor was her mother.

Warnings were given to no avail. A time-out was issued that got a loud response of "NO, NO! NO TIMEOUTS!" from Maya. Push finally came to shove and Miss Maya found herself being led, not in the friendliest of manners, and plunked down on the sofa. Tears were shed, loud crying ensued which was echoed then by Kurtis -who does not like it AT ALL when Maya is upset and crying as it just upsets him then too! Wonderful, huh? Stereo screaming! Just what every household should have.

A few more sassy answers and then, Mandy announced very firmly that she'd finally reached her limit and Maya was going to bed.

The instructions were given for her to come over and give Gram a hug and kiss, nite-nite, to which Maya started to weep, saying she couldn't do that because "Gram is mad." No there was a first! First doggone time she ever recognized that Grammy got angry! Not that she hasn't seen it happen, just that it was the first time it dawned on her that this might just be a really convenient excuse for a little extra leeway.

Unfortunately, that ploy didn't work. She did end up coming and giving me a hug and a kiss, went upstairs grudgingly -with a bit of noise -and now, she's in bed and having a royally loud hissy fit.

The only one this will actually upset might be the 16-year-old if she isn't yet asleep. However, if she's asleep, it most likely will never even phase her. She can sleep just exactly like her Dad - like a log!

I should be so lucky!

Interesting Evening!

Ok, I did it! I went to the school board meeting tonight. It's the first time I've been to a school board meeting I think since about 1975 I think. Back then, a group of about 9 mothers of early elementary aged students went to a meeting and being novices, didn't know about the board and their "Agenda" so when the board president recognized the group of us there and asked who we were and our interest(s), he quickly shut us down at the pass when he found out we were not the happiest parents in the school district with the way certain things were being handled with our kids.

My older daughter was then in 2nd grade and was having a lot of problems with reading. Her Dad and I had told her if she needed more help, to bring her reader home with her and we would read with her. However, she told us that the kids were not permitted to bring their readers home. Hmmm. My initial thoughts were that no 7-year-old was going to start to buffalo me at that early an age so I called the school and spoke to the principal about this. He really shocked me when he informed me this was true. The kids weren't allowed to bring their readers home for two reasons: One, they didn't have enough books to go around and Two, they found if kids did bring readers home, they then tended to read ahead!

Now, I may not have liked the idea of their not having enough books, but I could somewhat understand the restriction based on that. However, to not allow kids to bring the books home they are working with because "They would tend to read ahead" was a piece of logic I didn't comprehend then, nor do I to this day!

The upshot from that visit by eight other parents and myself was that daughter #1 got enrolled in a special summer reading program -in which she learned to read thermometers indoors and outdoors, took several special trips with the kids in her group -including a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo (and trust me, I'm all for educational things like the zoo trip as well as the others they had too) but they did very little of what she was supposed to be doing in that group - reading! I ended up having my aunt - the one who just passed away three weeks ago - tutor my daughter, two days a week for the last six weeks of the summer so when she returned to school in the fall, to third grade, she was actually taking an interest in reading and doing much better. Sadly, because of the system they were using at the school at that time, by the end of the second grading period, her interest, her grades too, were both starting a backslide. She didn't become interested in reading again until she was forced to read every day by her 5th grade teacher but she always had problems with reading after that. She loves to read now but in comparison to her brother and younger sister, she is a much slower reader and still has "issues" in pronunciation and comprehension of the words at times.

So, ok -now you know -I've not always been a big fan of some of the methods employed in our school district from early on with my kids. My son had no problems with reading but math -and holding his attention were his downfalls. The younger daughter -no reading problems, some math problems but most of the issues with her were simply that she -like her brother, in high school -didn't like to be bothered much with homework. (Although she would at least do the homework and submit it, whereas her brother rarely bothered even doing that. It's a miracle either of them ever graduated ya know!)

I went to the meeting tonight with a lot of trepidation because I hadn't written anything up -if it looked like there was a chance of the drama club issues being discussed further this evening and I didn't want to risk "ad libbing" my issues with what had taken place there two weeks ago.

I walked into the library where the meeting was to take place and the first person I see there, seated at a front table, is the 15-year-old grandson of my cousin! Yep! My favorite young person cousin who has been grooming himself for several years now in anticipation of eventually running for President of the United States! He's quite a character, believe me! A very savvy young fellow who I love to talk to, to joke around with too as he and I both share ver similar traits pertaining to humor -as well as our political beliefs! If I'm still around the planet when he is old enough to run for office, he can count on me to try to garner votes for him from the geriatric crowd at the nursing home then!

I was really glad he was there and that he invited me to sit by him too as he went and got me a copy of the board's agenda for the evening and even signed me in as a visitor for the meeting this evening. However, the only mention about the Drama Club was that there apparently had been a misunderstanding coming out of the last meeting and that the current director of the Drama Club is still in that position! Ok -I'll save my remarks for another meeting then if my young cousin keeps me informed as to when they might be engaging in another discussion along those lines or about "literature" or "the Arts" or disbanding any other really good programs the school has going at this point in time.

I haven't posted anything for some time about Maya or Kurtis -not because they haven't been doing anything -far from that! But really because they've both been pretty well behaved, all things considered.

However, I thought you all might appreciate this one little story from Maya.

Yesterday, Mandy and Maya went to church with Mandy's best friend and her children to a neighboring church in our area. Mandy said Maya did very well with the service there, sat relatively still, was quiet, etc. However, at one point during their service they had a man playing a guitar which completely enthralled Maya -definitely caught her eye and her interest. After church, at home, Mandy was questioning her about what she'd seen at this new church, who had talked to her, etc., and she questioned her about this guy playing the guitar. She asked Maya who it was that had been playing the guitar and her response - "It was God!" To bad we don't know who the guitarist was or we could call and tell him that Miss Maya apparently thought quite highly of his musical abilities.

She's been busy of late on days when it's been nice - sunny, not too chill or anything -and if someone is available to be outside with her -she's been practicing riding her two-wheeler bicycle. She got this bike a year ago Easter from Aunt Carrie and Uncle Robert but last year, though she was interested in the bike, she couldn't quite figure out too much about how to make it move. (It has training wheels, so don't go thinking we were trying to get a three-year-old to ride a two-wheel bike alone!) However, this year, she still has some problems with the pedals but after a little working with them, she can usually get herself moving and she does love it.

So, here's a picture of Maya last week -out on the road in front of our house -riding her bicycle!

And, that's all for tonight, folks! I think little boy's sleep-time antics, of trying to stay up half the night, fussing, fighting trying to go to sleep and such, have rubbed off on me. Now, he's been going to sleep between 9:30 and 10 p.m. -usually - not waking up during the night and sleeping till about 9-10 in the morning whereas I may be feeling like I am going to fall asleep while at the computer but as soon as my head hits the pillow, the eyeballs seem to pop wide open and I can't fall asleep then till 4 or 5 a.m. Then, within 2 hours, I'm awake in need of visiting the bathroom, back to bed again to sleep for maybe another 2 hours if I'm lucky. So, come early evening, most of the time I can't stay awake then and fall asleep which of course, feeds on the I can't fall asleep then when I need to go to bed! Sheesh! Wish my system would finally settle down, ya know!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Catch-up Ball

As my title above says, that is pretty much what I have been doing all this week and for much of last week too!

Just seems I can't get through reading blogs and then, trying to think of something to post, nothing seemed to come forward for me.

Not that there aren't plenty of things going on -on the world stage, nationally, even some local stuff that's caught my eye and ear, but trying to sift through this stuff and post something even remotely intelligent much less also -hopefully - interesting, just wasn't in the hand I've been dealt of late.

I mentioned I think in my last post my concerns about the teacher friend here and the issues that presents with our illustrious school board. I spoke to her again the other day and she suggested that perhaps I could write a letter to the Board or even speak before them.

I was at that time, trying to think of how to word a letter in support of her, of the drama program and not being very successful in my thought process either. The idea of speaking before the board would only work for me if I can pull the words together and have it as a written speech to use. I do NOT do ad lib, under circumstances of this nature, well at all! I would get way too emotional, lose my cool and do more potential harm then than good I'm afraid so it would have to be that I write something and have it all rehearsed, well prepared.

Right now though, I need to sit and talk to her, to get all the details straight as to what they have done, said, what she said, the union rep too so I know too then what I am "allowed" to know. Since the meeting she had was an "executive" session of the Board, it is possible that NONE of what was discussed was to be discussed further. I'm just not sure how things like that operate and the last thing I want to do is inadvertently say something that would dig a much bigger hole for her than the one already sitting there, yawning at her, just kind of waiting for someone to jump the gun, enter and screw EVERYTHING up, ya see.

I think this is probably best called a bit of a sticky wicket, isn't it?

On the home front, in other things, Mandy is yes, officially "laid off" but the reason given was that the restaurant didn't have enough hours/business to keep her on the schedule. Ok, that's nice in that it would allow her to sign up for a really paltry unemployment check and yes, even a check for $15 or $20 a week is still better than absolutely nothing. However, the whole thing basically hinges on he -the owner -doesn't want to have to deal with the amount of doctor appointments, therapist visits and such that are often necessary for Mandy to attend to with Kurtis. That, plus last month, she had requested off a Monday and Friday in the same week because she had an appointment that MOnday with the allergist in Pittsburgh and then, that Friday, I had an appointment schedule with my surgeon in Pittsburgh. As things played out, she ended up cancelling the appointment for Kurtis as she had no one to go with her and no way could she manage him, alone, for a 3 1/2 hour drive, one-way, plus waiting in the office, the visit, etc., a meal for him, for her, and trying to change him and manage to go to the bathroom herself with him in tow and then, drive back home again too -alone! She then contacted our GP doctor here and asked if they could find him an allergist a little closer to home which they did find him one in Altoona which is only an hour a way and then, I could go with her as it was during the hours Maya was in school too. That deal, plus the fact that my appointment that week was then cancelled by my doctor as he was going to be out of town so the boss wasn't too pleased about all that. Especially when she had to request two more days off, back to back (last Thursday for Kurtis and Friday for my appointment in Pittsburgh) and add to that, Saturday nite off if possible to attend the church dinner to meet the new prospective pastor for our church. Well, that, in our opinion, is the crux of the deal for removing her from the schedule.

However, since then, she did contact a former employer -a home-health care agency she had worked for in which she performed basic needs for elderly or handicapped people that would enable them to stay independent in their own homes and it seems that two of the people she had previously worked for are again in need of an aide so it looks like she will at least be able to get 12 hours a week working at that job again. And, of course, there's always the possibility of getting another client and hours then that would be flexible enough to fit with her ability to maneuver around.

The son-in-law though -well, it appears he is going to forge ahead with this partnership idea. All I can say there is I just hope and pray -for his sake, for my daughter and the grandkids -and yes, for my peace of mind too -that it all works the way he thinks it will. I just wish he had been able to do a lot more study of what is really necessary to go into business for himself before taking this big a step. That or if only he had been willing to apply for one of the two jobs, at least, that my son had called and told us about - both that paid well above what he had been earning at the shop position where he's worked for the past almost two years -or is it three years - now. So, cross your fingers, get out the rabbit's foot too, find some four-leaf clovers too while you're at it and most of all, say some heavy duty prayers that this all works out for the best for him, for the family.

And finally, before I close for tonight and go get my shower so I will have that done and won't be holding up the bathroom line-up in the morning so we can all get ready to go to church, there is some really good news in this little coal mining, mountain top community this week!

Our church got word on Friday from the pastoral candidate that she will accept our offer and WILL be coming here sometime in June to start as our new minister! And for that blessing, I am very, very happy and also, very, very grateful!

So, here's to Pastor Carrie Anderson from someplace out in the boondocks of Wisconsin, from a seminary in Iowa, as she makes her way east and moves into the parsonage belonging to our church and especially as she takes over the duties of this position to minister to the needs of our parish! Welcome, Pastor Carrie! And I pray that you find this area as beautiful, serene and peaceful as I do and the people to be as friendly, loving, hard-working and just plain good folks as I have always believed exist here too.

Getting Ahead? Maybe.

All Right! I'm determined that I will start this week out with a bit of a schedule or some sort of game plan at the very least. So, with that in mind, here's the Bushisms for the coming week!

Monday, May 19, 2008 - 246 days left

"First, let me make it very clear: poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."
--Washington, D.C., May 19, 2003

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - 245 days left

"Government can hand out money, but government cannot put hope in a person's heart, or a sense of purpose in a person's life. Government happens when a loving neighbor puts their arm around somebody who hurts and says, "'I love you' and 'Can I help you?'"
--Sioux City, Iowa, 2004

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 --244 days left

"I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances."
--Washington, D.C., May 2003

Thursday, May 22, 2008 -- 243 days left

"If a person doesn't have the capacity that we all want that person to have, I suspect hope is in the far distant future, if at all."
--Washington, D.C., Hispanic Scholarship Fund briefing, May 22, 2001

Friday, May 23, 2008 -- 242 days left

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
--Greece, New York, May 2005

Saturday and Sunday, May 24/25, 2008 - 241 days left and 240 days left

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."
--Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004

As always, interesting, to say the least, aren't they?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Worry, Worry -Everywhere!

This month is rapidly developing into one that is soon going to erode all the positive effects of the anti-depressants I'm taking, if things keep on at the rate they are presently tracking.

For better than a month now, Maya has been telling us every night at supper and prior to going to bed that she doesn't want to go to school the next day. Then, in the morning when Mandy gets her up, she often has the same message coming at her from Maya about how she doesn't want to go to school. However, when we try to question her about this, if we say "Why don't you want to go to school?" all we get for an answer is an echo of "Why?" Trying to figure out ways to re-word that question so as not to use the word "why" in it is not an easy task either, let me tell you that! And, apparently Maya doesn't understand the use of that word yet either. So, it leaves us in a bit of a quandry here, trying to convince her every day of reasons why she should want to go to school, what she will miss out on and all the good things we know she enjoys there. Prior to this, the only day we experienced any difficulty getting her ready for school and on the van was back in January and that was the day Mandy had taken Kurtis over to the hospital to have the tubes put in his ears.

So, that's worry number one but since we've been able to get here ready and on the van without any really major meltdowns -yet -it's a concern but not a full-scale, full-blown one at the immediate moment. Just one of the background noise things, if you know what I mean.

Worry number 2 -began last week when Mandy got her work schedule for the week and was only schedule to work last Monday and Tuesday. She could have also worked on Thursday but wasn't scheduled for that day. Wednesday, she always has asked off for because there is a therapy session at the Agency office that day for Kurtis plus one at the house in the afternoon and frequently, that has been the day the Specialist tries to come for conferences with her too. Last week though, she had also asked off for Friday due to my doctor's appointment and while she was at it, since they had adequate staff to cover, she had requested Saturday night off too. Apparently the owner of the establishment was put out at her because she had told him she really couldn't pick up all the hours of a girl who had quit a few weeks ago -mainly due to the kids and their therapy and class schedules and doctor appointments -plus the occasional ones of mine that require her presence. So now, she has been taken off the schedule completely. The story, from other workers there is not that she was fired but that she is off the schedule due to lack of business. So, since she only worked there part-time, does that make her eligible for a pittance of unemployment benefits she could sign up for? I think it does, but my knowledge about those things is pretty rusty now so I'm not really sure about that.

Then we have the really big worry, #3 on the list but probably should be #1 simply because it involved the son-in-law who is, of course, the major breadwinner in the household.

He was laid off last summer from his full-time job and although some weeks he only collected a partial unemployment check because the owner of the shop would have him come in and work maybe a day or two here and there, he was told about a month ago that he would be going back on full-time -even given a nice raise too -and then, after about a week of full-time work, he was back to part-time hours and such. Of course now, with part-time hours and his unemployment having run out, that is not near enough for all of us to manage here.

He's been doing some odd jobs, helping a friend of his establish a shop (he's an auto mechanic) in a town about 13-14 miles from here and the thought has been they would open this garage together, etc. However, both Mandy and I know he hasn't crossed all his "t's" nor dotted all the "I's" to this venture and they have no cushion to fall back on either so this idea, right now, is extremely risky business. EXTREMELY SO! I hate to say anything to him at all about these things because I know he feels I am just an old stick in the mud who doesn't want him to get ahead, get a business of his own, "his salvation," as it were, is how he is regarding this venture. And I would dearly love to see him be able to do that BUT only after he has shown he has the full ability to cover things in the start-up process. I'm not trying to rain on his parade, nor is Mandy but there is just so much at stake right now and no capital at all for them, for the family, to fall back on that I can't really see it as the great move as he is anticipating it would be. Not at this point in time anyway.

My son called this afternoon and told me of two jobs he heard about in his travels yesterday and that he forgot to mention to the son-in-law when he talked to him this morning -both have very good potential. One would be with a utility company as a "company mechanic" with union wages and benefits. The other would be with a smaller, private company but the guy who owns it is local and has a reputation for paying very good wages and being a very fair employer too. The latter might possibly be the easiest for the son-in-law to fall into if we can show him that this route would be immeasurably safer right now and he can still work towards his own business by building up some cushioning then with the security of a stable, better job right now.

And my last real concern right now is about the teacher/censorship problem I mentioned in my post the other day. In speaking to the teacher involved, it was suggested to me that perhaps I could write a letter to the Board or even speak at the next meeting. I would be happy to do either however, I am concerned about how to word a letter or a prepared speech (I don't do ad lib type things very well, as my voice and words get all discombobulated then) because I am not sure about how much I can say without digging a deeper hole perhaps for the teacher embroiled in this nasty situation. Because this all took place at an Executive Session at the School Board, how much of this information would be acceptable then for the general public to have wind of, you know? Is all of this supposed to have been kept ultra-secret from the public or what? By writing a letter or speaking up, am I going to further endanger the teacher's position then?

I hate -no, I loathe, abhor and despise the antics here -the censorship thing. I think it is absolutely despicable for any one person, any group, to dictate what others may or may not read, view, listen to, enjoy, etc. To label drama, the plays, etc., as "not being literature" to me shows a totally backward stance, one that I might have expected and understood had this taken place 50 some years ago when I was a kid -but it didn't! Now, in the 21st Century, when we are "supposed" to be a much more enlightened society, I feel these select few individuals -who in my opinion are totally ignorant of full learning -are trying to take us back even before the Victorian Era. As someone commented here on the other post -and as my son said too -would they say this about Shakespeare and judge his works as not being "literature?" Heaven forbid the kids would think of putting on something like "MacBeth" which is really murder and mayhem, isn't it?

I just do not understand how people can even think of doing something like this. And as much as I would like to help the teacher here, I am afraid because maybe I know too much and then again, maybe I don't know enough here either.

The whole thing worries me though because I just don't understand why on earth someone who is supposedly working to ensure the best education possible for the kids today would even think about destroying a wonderful program that has been developed in our school. One that has won numerous awards too through out the area for the plays they have put on over the past 6-7 years now and has provided so much valued experience for all the kids who have participated in these events too.

Just mind boggling isn't it?

And that, combined with the other things in my life, all has me in a very upset, depressed and worried frame of mind!

By "Popular" Request

Because so many people have left comments requesting recipes -ok, maybe two did that -I decided to go on a search and destroy mission here and find the recipe I wrote down a few years back for the Ham and Bean Potpie mentioned in my last post. I may have mentioned this recipe a time or two before because it is a favorite with my kids and it's the one I generally make to take to church pot luck dinners too. (Mostly because I rarely come home with more than maybe two-three tablespoons of the stuff left over and I really hate dealing with certain types of leftovers that somehow manage to get lost in the fridge until they have begun to grow a really think coating of green-gray fur, if you know what I mean.)

This particular dish is one that was served every Thursday as the dinner special at the truckstop where I worked from 1989 to 1991. I don't know what the origins are for this recipe but I'm guessing it is probably a Pennsylvania Dutch type dish. If you notice I didn't give amounts of the onions, celery, carrots to cook with the ham, as this varies for me depending on the size of the ham I ham using. It can also vary with individual tastes too as some people don't like a heavy onion flavor, others may not want or only use a smattering of the carrots and celery. It is pretty much an individual thing there. The same can be applied to the "dumplings" or noodles -whether you want to use more or less, it's up to you to determine how you like that.

It really isn't a difficult dish to prepare -a little time consuming here and there -but the flavor is well worth the effort. This recipe will make enough to fill a five quart (not 5 gallon as I had originally stated in my earlier post) casserole dish. I use the large oval shaped visions casserole dish -with a nice big lid to it too that makes transporting it a whole lot easier too.

If you want to make a smaller batch to try it out, you'll have to adjust your portions of ingredients as you see fit -again, it's a very individualistic dish and can be adjusted for a smaller portion or easily increased for a very large, large pan full too if you wish!

Try it. If you like bean soup, I'll bet you - and your family - will love it!

Cousin Jen’s Favorites

Ham and Bean Pot pie

2 large cans Northern white beans

piece of smoked boned ham –usually about 2-3 pounds, give or take.

Chopped celery

Chopped onion

Chopped carrots


Dash of celery seed

Salt and pepper

Place ham in large soup pot and cover with water.

Add celery, onion and carrots, seasonings.

Bring to boil and let slow cook then for 1-2 hours.

Pour Northern white beans in 4-5 quart casserole dish.

Remove ham and cut into small pieces or shred. Mix ham into beans.

Dip carrots, onion and celery from broth and add to beans and ham.

For Noodles:

Mix 2 ¾ cups flour, ¾ cup milk, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 eggs together. Let mixture set for about 5-8 minutes.

Section dough into 2 or 3 piece and roll each out.

Slice rolled dough lengthwise, then cut slices into small squares or triangles.

Drop these pieces of dough into broth brought to a boil and cook until dough pieces rise to top of broth.

Remove dough from broth and add to bean mixture.

Spoon broth then over beans and dough until dough pieces are pretty well covered.

Bake at 350 for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until mixture is somewhat thickened but not hard.

Stir mixture from time to time to keep noodles from getting hard as they bake.