Thursday, July 31, 2008

Take It Off.

How many people -beside me -think they need to take a few pounds off -or maybe, a whole lot of weight?

I know I could lose at least 20, maybe thirty pounds and still would have a good way to go if I were trying to get back down to my weight of 10-15 years ago. We need not delve into how many more pounds I would have to shed to get back to my "ideal' weight, according to the height and body type charts. Suffice it to say, it would keep some diet pill manufacturer in business for a while!

I've thought from time to time about maybe trying one of the over-the-counter type diet pills available today but boy, talk about confusing! There are so many different kinds and how do you determine which works the best, which is the safest pill, which is the best buy for effectiveness, safety AND price.

Just looking at the bottles on the shelves and comparing prices I suppose is one way you could make a selection. But, how risky is that? If you know anything at all about various health food type ingredients and can read the fine print on the bottles, you might be able to use that as a small guide of sorts.

But it still doesn't give you test results as to the actual effectiveness or safety and really, because often the packaging is such that one may be a 21 day supply, another would cover 30-days and some packages may even be for a smaller supply so you'd have to have a calculator along then to compute based on the number of pills per bottle, what the price per pill would actually be.

If I do decide to try some over-the-counter weight loss plan, one using diet pills, I think I would do a really serious search on the internet to try to determine what products would be the Best Diet Pill based on studies done that could be used then to determine all the advantages offered, along with any potential down sides to these products. After reading up on each product listed, I think I might then be able to make a fairly sane, relatively safe decision too as to whether or not I want to try this method to get rid of a lot of ugly fat or if I want to suffer and try the old-fashioned way by regulation of food types, calories and that really bad word I hate, exercise!

Let's face facts about weight though and that is many of us today are carrying a few extra pounds and weight loss might be very beneficial. But there are risks involved in dieting of any type so before making such a decision, be sure to do some homework and study ALL the pros, ALL the cons, of each type of diet and definitely, study up on each type of diet pill available too.

It is something to think about though and before I try to take any pounds off, I'd want to know that whatever pill I selected was the best diet pill for me!

Now, on to smaller things!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pickin' Up

Tonight, I'm gonna just try to bring things kind of up-to-speed, catch up on things a little bit, give some "bits and pieces" of things going on here.

Let's move right into the latest pictures of my two favorite subject - Maya and Kurtis. Heck, I might even throw one in of the two kittens still in residence too, just for good measure.

Here's Kurt, getting something he loves -a nice ride in his swing on the swingset in the back yard early this afternoon.
Here he is again, letting out one of his "Yay, Yay!" vocal renditions -just letting everyone in the neighborhood know he's outside and having himself a really great time too!
Then, he found this bat and decided maybe he might like to learn to play baseball someday.
After checking the bat out very closely, I think he's decided this one will be okay for him to use.

When he came back inside and was going to have lunch, this is what was waiting for him in his booster chair! Yeah, those kittens -Chino in front, Javiar to the rear -taking a little cat nap.

Then Maya came home from a visit with her Aunt Kathy -after Aunt Kathy had picked her up out at church after Bible School today. Maya's been going to Bible school every morning this week at our church. We're not sure how this is going because although Maya seems to enjoy it, but one lady who is apparently helping with the nursery class informed Mandy yesterday when she picked Maya up that she had to "tell Maya at least five times to sit down!" The way it came across to Mandy was that this woman apparently thinks Maya has "behavior issues." DUH! Do ya think? And we thought everyone at church, this lady especially, were all aware that both Maya and Kurtis are autistic. However, this same person had also remarked to Mandy on another occasion that "Gee, Maya doesn't look autistic!" Again - DUH! Is there a particular way that children with autism "look?" Sure would be nice on one hand if there were cause I betcha it would make getting kids diagnosed then a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, that's not how it works as almost all children (and adults too) look pretty much like their peers who are considered to be NT. Some children, like Maya, can talk, can do lots of things just like other kids who are 4-5 years old but we don't know exactly how well she comprehends much of what she "knows" just yet. Somedays, things work fine and dandy and other days -well, not quite so good. But just as she is learning as much, as quickly as she can, so too are we learning more and more about how much she knows, understands, remembers too.

And Kurtis -well today, when his speech therapist came she brought with her several photos she had taken here on her last couple of visits -all to be put into a little booklet for him to look at and learn to say who is in each photo or what the objects in the picture are -all people or items that are favorites of his. As the therapist showed him these pictures today, she would say to him, "Kurtis, who is this?" and then she would say who (or what) was in the photo. The first pic she showed him was one of me and as he looked at the pic, she asked him "Is that Grammy?" and he immediately looked up at me and gave me one great big smile. He did the same when shown a photo of Mandy too -flashed her a huge grin. But when he was shown the pic of Maya (who wasn't here at the time) and the therapist asked him "Is this Maya?" he actually responded and said "MAYA!" Yes, he did! And he got a big round of applause from all of us then too as that makes now a fifth word added to his vocabulary!

Now, one more thing here tonight -and then, I'm closing up shop for tonight with respect to the olde computer.

Last week at this time, if you recall, I mentioned that one of my favorite bloggers was about to embark on a journey that would test her physically -and if all went well, in going on this particular journey, she would save a life -her father's. That blogger is Terri -of Terri Terri Quite Contrary. Last Thursday, Terri and her father had surgery to remove a kidney from her and donate it to her Dad. I'm really happy to say that she's been home from the hospital since Saturday, doing quite well in her recovery and at last report earlier today, her Dad is doing very well too!

Isn't that just wonderful to be able to report back that things have all worked out the way the doctors intended them too for Terri and her Dad? What a gift that is for anyone to be able to give the gift of life to someone, and especially to her own Dad too. Go by Terri's place, tell her yourself how great she is to be that brave, that courageous.

And you can see too that while she's been home, recuperating, she hasn't been just lazing around the house but she's been one busy little beaver too as she handed out a bunch of awards yesterday.

And she gave one of them to me -this one -the "Brilliante Weblog" Award! I'll take a bow now and thank her profusely too for this award. But I think it would be great if someone would design an award (I have no clue how to do that) and it should be the "Bravest Blogger" Award and it should be given to Terri for sure!

Now, as you all know, when someone gives us an award, the tradition is to select other bloggers who you believe are deserving of the same honor as you received. In keeping with that theory, then here are the bloggers I think are excellent candidates to get this honor.

Sunshine - the vivacious mother of Four out in Iowa who has had some mega challenges this summer from remodeling her home, keeping four children in line, occupied and also, having had to cope with numerous weather related events from tornados to flooding and all the while, keeping a cool head about her, spreading lots of joy -and her own special commodity -plenty of sunshine to the blogosphere.

Smalltown RN
- The most charming nurse in British Columbia to have a blog! She tackles all types of topics from trying to teach teenage boys social skills to medical ethics as well as all kinds of stuff in between. Add to that, she posts some of the most beautiful photos of the area "she calls home" that just make you want to find a way, someway, somehow, to go visit wild, wonderful and very beautiful British Columbia and the special island she calls home.

Dianne - Here's lady from New Jersey who runs her own business out of her home, takes some really great pictures too -always ready for a way to experiment with her camera, push the envelope a little there, tackles rescues of cats and has two beautiful cats she shows off regularly that she "saved" plus, she writes a really fantastic blog post too! Wordzzles on Saturdays, serious subject like politics, social issues as well as interspersing those posts and pictures with posts that show a fantastic ability to write and a really wild and wacky sense of humor too!

Sandi - My last choice for this award tonight is this fine, genteel southern belle, Sandi McBride at Holding Patterns. If you're looking for a blog to read that offers a great mix from stories that can make you cry to those that will have you holding your sides from laughing, then this is definitely a great place to stop, visit, read and enjoy! Sandi's life has taken her down many paths as the wife of a career military man so she's lived in many places stateside as well as overseas and has lots and lots of interesting stories to tell about that part of her life. Right now, I think she's probably still occupied in canning tomatoes picked from the garden she and her husband, Mac, have at their southern "Plantation." If you're real nice when you visit her place, give her some good comment lovin' ya know, who knows, maybe she'll reciprocate and give you a big jar of home-canned tomatoes! Worth a shot, isn't it? Try it, you won't just like it, you'll love visiting her place!

That's ends my award ceremony now for this evening but I'm sure over time, I'll bring this special award out again -and probably again after that a few more times -to bestow it on more of my favorite bloggers.

Now it's time for me to go collapse for the night. See you all tomorrow somewhere here in the Blogosphere!

Sleep tight.

Frankly, Scarlett....

A couple days ago, I got a note in my e-mail from Sonia Sunshine telling me she was going to sponsor a "whinefest" at her blog today. Anyone who had something they'd like to complain about was welcome to come by her place and register their unhappiness with "whatever" in her comments section today. This sounded like a good deal to me so I'll take her up on that offer. She also did up this neat little badge -taken from my favorite book and movie -"Gone With The Wind" -with Rhett Butler beginning his famous line "Frankly, Scarlett" (and I believe it ends with "I don't give a damn" too, doesn't it?

I decided to use this badge to announce I'm gonna do a rant, throw a small hissy fit, about something that happened to me a long, long time ago but the issues with this event still really bug the living daylights out of me because it has to do with what, in my perception, is lunacy on the part of our wonderful government and the administration of some of their programs.

Twenty-nine years ago this coming December, my kids and I moved into this house -my family homestead, my mother's home, built in 1903 by my Grandparents. While the house had many good points too it -solid construction, some upgrades had been done (not a whole lot, but some) over the years, but it was fine for me, for the kids and it was "home" in the truest sense of the word. I was comfortable living here because it held for me many, many wonderful memories of people who had been such a large part of my life, no longer with me in person, but their essence was still here in this house, which in turn then made it "home" for me.

The place, when we moved in here needed a few things right away - improvements to the wiring, more outlets in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms -for openers. Other things that I wanted to do in the house though were off-limits to me because of my limited income.

However, back in the spring of 1987, my ex-brother-in-law told me about two programs that he felt I should apply to for help in getting some needed repairs to the house done. One was a program through Community Action in which you could get $5,000 to cover repairs whether they were considered to be health/safety in nature of strictly cosmetic. The other program is on administered through the FHA -the Farm Home Administration Loan for Low Income/First-Time Home Buyers Program and through it you could recieve a larger amount of money via a mortgage.

So, since I needed lots of things done -a new roof over the kitchen and sunporch, cupboards in the kitchen that had been damaged due to the leaky roof, countertop in the kitchen that was of the old-fashioned linoleum variety with the stanless steel band type edging which was word, and kind of "slivery" along with various and sundrie other things, I contacted the FHA to get information about this program and securing a loan through them.

The rep I spoke to told me yes, indeed, this program existed, there was lots and lots of funding available and approval could take place within a matter of a mere 3-4 days, a week at the utmost. I said bring the papers on and let me get started! All the while though I was in a bit of a state of shock thinking that the government must have made some great changes, streamlining, ya know, if they could take applications for a program of this magnitude and have it approved, ready to roll with it, in a week or less!

That was one of the first things I learned where the government employees lied to me as the week they had told me this could be done in stretched out until late summer of 1988 before everything was finally approved and after that, it was November before the contractor could get started because he had committed to other clients in the meantime. I mean gee, you couldn't expect him to not take on other jobs because he was waiting on the government to approve my puny little application now, could ya? Well, I sure couldn't blame him!

Anyway, back to my issues with the FHA.

I was told that my house had to meet certain specifications to be approved for this loan -for a family of four (which mine was -me, three kids -animals didn't count) the home could not exceed 1,300 square foot. I was applying for a loan of their maximum variety - $10,000 to be repaid over a 30-year period at an interest rate of 1 percent per year. Yes, the percent quoted there is correct and don't we all wish we could get any kind of loan today with only a 1 percent per year now too?

My first problem came about when the house was measured and it seems this house contains 1,360 square footage which made me ineligible for the $10,000 loan but I could still apply for a loan of $7,500 at 3 percent interest per year. However ALL things that could be covered in this smaller loan HAD to be, no ifs, ands or buts, strictly health and safety oriented. Therefore, certain things I wanted to have done would not, could not, be included in this loan.

The contractor I had selected had given me a bid of what all he could/would remodel, rebuild, fix for the grand sum of $10,000 but since my house, being so much larger than the 1,300 square foot allowed (I asked the govt. rep. which closet maybe I should try to get rid of in order to qualify for the larger loan but he didn't seem to comprehend what I was grousing about there.) I had been told I would have to get a private loan for the $2,500 needed to get all the things done that I had requested. My contractor redrew his bid so that the money he needed would appear to cover more of the "health/safety" items that were on my list and after the third re-drawing of his bid, it was approved. I still had to get a loan for $2,500 to cover all the things I felt were needed though.

The loan could be approved to cover a new roof over the sunporch, back porch and kitchen; it would cover new wall cupboards to replace the ones damaged by the leaking roof. It also would cover replacing the countertop with a nice, pretty butcher block counter. But, it would not cover replacement of the base cupboards because they had not been damaged by the leaky roof.

Keep in mind her folks that this is a loan that I was going to be repaying 100% plus interest -not a grant type thing in which I only repaid a portion of this money. But I was not going to be able to fund the new base cupboards through them.

The whole purpose of this loan was to repair the roof and some other things and also, to upgrade the value of the house too. Now how much added value do you think I would have if my kitchen contained nice new cupboards on the walls, very attractive counter top -and base cupboards that didn't match of the above items,

I asked the rep how the heck they could say this was something that would add value to my home with mismatched cupboards and such and by the way, who the hell are the idiots who made up these guidelines anyway?

His answer was simply "Well, they do!"

Ok, who are "they?" Well, first I was told these specifications were done up in the state's office of the FHA, so I called them asking to speak to whoever was in charge of these absurd requirements. But the Harrisburg office said no, it wasn't them who was in charge of drawing up these rules, it was the office in Washington, D.C. So, I called that main office number and no one could direct me to a person, or persons, who drew up these rules and regulations. Finally, I got someone there pinned down who identified who the "they" in this whole equation would be. It was none other than the U.S. Congress in its' collective body who approved these requirements.

So, in other words, some jackass in Washington sits and makes a determination that my family and i are not entitled to a home larger than 1,300 square footage -no allowances made for closet space, ya know and also, because I was so lucky to be working although the job paid for crapola -basically barely above minimum wage, then my family and I had to be relegated to having a kitchen with a new ceiling, new windows in the kitchen, new paneled walls, new wall cupboards and new countertop but we should just be satisfied with all that and make the best of having base cupboards that didn't match! Ludicrous, right?

Now, remember above I mentioned about the monies available through Community Action -the $5,000 you could get through them that could be used for anything you wanted -from sup to nuts, safety and health repairs or cosmetic, it made no difference, as they would all be approved. Initially, I was told by the secretary in the Community Action office that the way this program worked was you filled out an application with them, got it approved and then, that got your loan for the $5,000 automatically approved through a bank. Well, I knew darned well no bank was going to approve me, on my income, for a $5,000 loan, in addition to the $7,500 loan through FHA -plus, there was at that time a mere three-year waiting list to get said loans approved then too!

I later learned the information she gave me was incorrect though. You got approved to receive $5,000 -yes, that was true, but the amount of money that you, the individual borrowed from the bank was between $750 and $1,500 -and the rest of the money to make up the $5,000 was a grant, that didn't have to be repaid.

So here's two government programs, both good in theory, set up to help low-income people better the caliber and quality of their home but yet, one is still treating the applicant like a piece of trash, in a sense, in that they had the power to dictate what you could or could not do to your home with their money even though you would be paying it back at 100 percent plus interest while the other, which would be handing you between $3,500 and $4,250 free and clear -you would only have to pay back a very small percentage plus interest, would allow you to spend that money on whatever your pea-picking heart's desire might have been.

Now, I ask you - what in these two programs do you see as good? What in these two programs do you see as being fair -or perhaps more than a tad unfair too?

If you want to remodel a particular part of your home and you have a contractor's bid for the job -or you know what items you want to purchase and you happen to be handy enough doing carpenty, wiring, plumbing, etc., yourself -so you want a loan to cover the materials needed, is it fair then for the government to tell you what, exactly, you can or can't have in your home because after all, this loan is for somone who is proven to be a "Charity case" and therefore, doesn't deserve the same niceties in their home as do those who earn a much larger income and can afford to pay back their loans at a higher interest rate then too?

Although I wouldn't like it if someone or some agency were giving me $5,000 and they told me to get that money, I had to use certain items -whether they were a design or quality I wanted and liked or not, because the money was in essence a "gift" I could abide dealing on that basis -at least somewhat. But if I am going to borrow $7,500 or $10,000 -whatever -and pay it back completely plus interest on that money as well, then I sure as hell don't want the government telling me how big a house I can have and that I HAVE to live in a home that has been remodeled but only partially, because there is no need for your decor to all match if you are a "charity case" dealing with the government!

I managed to get what I wanted done -yes, but only because I had a contractor who knew how crappy the inside of the home would look if it was only half-way done and he didn't want his name associated with workmanship that didn;t reflect well so he worked with me every way he could to get the initial loan approved and I did manage then to get a "line of credit" loan through the bank to cover the items I needed but which the FHA classified as "cosmetic."

One other thing too about these programs and the way they are administered, I don't think I would have minded being put through all this stuff about what they could or could not approve for me if I had seen the same type of reaction from these same people who put these programs together with respect to how they furnish their offices in Washington, D.C. or state offices, with no regard whatsoever for how much they spend on things like hammers, commodes, office furniture, etc., etc.

Know what I mean?

That's my "Frankly, Scarlett -I don't give a damn!" rant for today!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Down!

Well, it's been quite a time here the past couple of days!

Sunday, as you may recall, Mandy worked with her sister, Carrie, and Carrie's fiance, to empty out this apartment, dispose of all the stuff the girl and her roommates had left behind and then clean it after that. We ended up with a nice tv set, a mattress and box springs for my bed, plus various other things -from a nice quilt, to pots and pans (teflon inside with a red exterior -snazzy).

One of the items left behind was a brand new computer desk -still in the crate, never opened. I was kind of looking forward to a new desk here, however -but unfortunately -it was not in my cards after all. Seems the girl who had hired Carrie and Robert to do this clean-up called Carrie Sunday evening and asked about the desk -if it had been junked or if one of them had taken it. Carrie had explained that her sister had taken it and the girl then said well, it was a mistake, that the desk had belonged to her roommate and she had planned to take it back to the store where she had purchased it. Yes, it was a desk that she had even paid $400 for too!

Well, luckily for her, no one had opened the box and begun putting it together although it is sitting here in the living room, behind the sofa, taking up more space that we really don't have any extra of the space thing to begin with ya know, what with the two organs sitting in this room now too! (I still haven't been able to just trash the first organ I had here before I was bestowed with the beautiful Hammond organ from my late aunt's house. Just can't bring myself to throw things like that out to the trash pickup people like so many folks seem able to do.) However, Mandy has no way to load this desk up and take it back over to State College so it has to sit her until Thursday now -till Carrie has a day off -and she and Robert will come over to pick it up and make arrangements then for the girl and her roommate to get the desk back. What ticked Mandy off over the whole desk deal was that when she and Robert were carrying it out, the girl even offered to help them to load it onto the pickup truck! Geesh, you'd think if it wasn't to be tossed out, she'd have realized or known that then, wouldn't you? It never ceases to amaze me what people -especially young college students or new graduates - will leave behind for the trash crew to haul off to the landfill. Sometimes, I truly do believe many people have more money to throw away than they have brains. Such waste!

I have a surprise too -it's something that certainly has been a big surprise for me -and that's my little "vegetable" garden I planted in early June in an old, narrow flower bed alongside the house. I'm notorious for being the plant killer -never able to keep a plant growing in the house and my previous attempts at planting a vegetable garden (something I haven't tried for well over 20 years now). Because the stuff just either never came up or died shortly after sticking their little heads out of the ground, when I got the tomato plants, plus some green and jalapeno pepper and cabbage plants and put them in this little plot, I never expected them to even take hold -much less to actually produce anything. But I was wrong and they have been growing fairly nicely -well, all except the cabbage plants that is. I think maybe the crowding was just too much for the cabbage plants to take. But anyway, here's some pictures of my lovely tomatos that are starting to form (I've counted at least nine little tomatos so far and I think there are three jalapeno peppers now too.)

On the bottom picture, you can see how narrow this plot is and it is probably only about 12-15 feet in length, so the plants are really crowded in there. Plus the tomato plants are in dire need of some stakes to hold them up as well. Bill was supposed to bring some stuff home from the garage that would work to stake them but he forgot them yesterday. He says there's some stuff in the basement and the lean-to behind the house that would work for that purpose too but I don't know what stuff he has earmarked and what would be okay to remove from his stash so hopefully, tonight he will pull out the pieces I can use for my pretty tomato plants to keep them growing and producing now too!

Now, I haven't posted any pictures for a while of the lovely little kittens we have had here but we are now down from the original four siblings (two males, two females) to one of each! The fattest of the kittens -which we had just been calling "Chubster" -found a home over a week ago when our next-door-neighbor's daughter and her boyfriend came over and made a selection. They took Chubster -who was just the cutest little grey ball of fluff with a little dabble of white under her chin and a tiny star of white just above her nose.

One of the male kittens -"Blacky" left late Saturday night to go live with a young woman who, along with a male friend of hers, showed up here shortly after midnight and in need of some help. Seems she and this guy were driving down the road up along the hillside behind our house, going a bit too fast for road conditions without the rain that was pelting down at the time and she didn't make the curve at the bottom of the hill. She hit a tree and the car flipped over. How she and the guy with her were able to get out and not have a single mark on them is almost beyond belief. But anyway, the walked up from where the car had flipped over to our house and came down here looking to be able to make a phone call for someone to come pick them up. As she was using the phone, I was joking that the cost to her for using the phone would be that she would have to take one of the three kittens that were left. She had laughed when she realized I was joking about charging to use the phone and had said sure, no problem, she'd love to take one of them so little Blacky, one of the males (tiger stripe with a lot of black coloring) went to live with her.

My son had just arrived home from his cross-country drive from Nevada to here in the 1971 Chevy pickup (bright, bright yellow no less) that his Dad had given him and he was down here showing off his new vehicle to us when the couple appeared at our house in need of help. Bill, Clate and Mandy all went down to where the car was resting on its roof and the guys got it flipped over and then towed it up to the garage at my son's house. Because it was quite damaged, the young woman had told Bill he could have the car to do with whatever he wanted -which would be to tow it to the recyling place where they buy old cars for so much per pound in exchange for helping them out of the bind they were in with the car and the wreck, etc.

However, this morning Bill learned that over the weekend sometime, she had given the junker to another guy in the area who also deals in junk cars. Needless to say, Bill was not too happy about the turn of events, since he's the one who went out in the rain and with my son's help, had flipped the car upright and was nice enough to tow it from the scene for them at no cost. So he's planning now to remove the exhaust and the catalytic converter before the other "junker" guy gets there and tows the car home. Bill also says if the car is still there tomorrow, he's going to remove the tires from it too then.

So anyway, we are now down to two kittens left here and one of those will be leaving after August 12th as the driver of the van who picks Maya up and takes her to her school, brings her back home too, will be taking "Javier" -the remaining male and the tiger stripe kitten in the picture below. The little grey female left then will be Chino (all Spanish names, courtesy of Kate, the 16-year-old here) and we're hoping someone will come along and offer her a good home too!

Aren't they just too cute though? All four of the kittens, although they were playful amongst themselves, are very quiet, very gentle natured little things, much like their mother, who has never tried to scratch the kids under even some not so very gentle handling that Kurtis especially has been known to dish out. Amazing, isn't it, that a grown cat and the kittens too, have not been the least bit inclined to lash out at the kids in their over-zealous handling of them.

Now, back to the business of trying to find that one last kitten a home.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

While Pennsylvanians are currently being treated to all kinds of news lately about scandal upon scandal emanating from our beautiful capitol city - Harrisburg -from some legislators under investigation for all kinds of bad doings -misuse of public monies to even a "Spam Scam" apparently also being investigated, I'm just going to not bother telling you any more about the Keystone State's current woes but instead, give you some more of those snazzy little quips from our "Fearless Leader" a bit further south of my fair state!

Monday, July 28, 2008 - 176 days left

"And the other lesson is that there are people who can't stand what America stands for, and desire to conflict great harm on the American people."
--Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2003

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - 175 days left

"Columbia carried in its payroll classroom experiments from some of our students in America."
-- Discussing the ill-fated Columbia space shuttle - Bethesda, Maryland, 2003

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - 174 days left

"I think war is a dangerous place."
--Washington, D.C., 2003

Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 173 days left

"The United States of America is engaged in a war against an extremist group of folks."
-- McLean, Virginia, 2006

Friday, August 1, 2008 - 172 days left

"We had a good Cabinet meeting, talked about a lot of issues. Secretary of State and Defense brought us up to date about our desires to spread freedom and peace around the world."
--Washington, D.C., August 1, 2003

Saturday and Sunday, August 2/3, 2008 - 171 days left and 170 days left.

"Tribal sovereighnty means that: it's sovereign. I mean, you're a --you've been given sovereighnty, and you're viewd as a soverign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities."
--Washington, D.C., August 2004

Hope you all had a great weekend and have a better week ahead too! And, if anyone can possibly translate the last quote there for me, please do! As Ricky Ricardo would say, "S'plain it to me."

Ah, the Depression of it All!

I'm telling you one thing for sure, the aging process is downright depressing at times!

Really, it is! You get all these little issues that mount up against you -or so it seems -and just sucks the fun right out of some things in the process.

I've never been a shopaholic -although I have atwo daughters who are very inclined to that type of behavior although one recognizes the fact she can't afford all the new stuff she'd like to have for herself and her kids so she has become the "Yard Sale Queen." The other -well, we have finally convinced here that is is perfectly acceptable to shop the clearance racks.

But for me, shopping is downright depressing these days -mainly because my old fat cells appear to have built on several rooms in my body and have invited all their family and friends of fat cells to come "live with me and be my love" -if you know what I mean. Add to that the fact that stores apparently don't seems to stock clothing the same way they used to do either. A few years back, when I was a lot slimmer than I am today, the only clothes that ever seemed to make it to the clearance racks were in the 16-20 size range -just a tad too large. Now that I can use clothes in that range, don't you know the bulk of the clothes on the clearance racks all seem to be 10-14 sizes! Now that is really not just depressing, but downright disgusting too, I say.

Darned near has me convinced I should try some Leptovox and shed a lot of these extra pounds and get the wrinkles out of my face at the same time too!

A "Double-Header" -right?

Old Houses

I'm sure I've mentioned before that my house is an old house -been in the family for 105 years now. I was born in this house too, although not 105 years ago. Not quite. However, there are some days when I wake up that I feel much, much older than the house is -like maybe 105 going on 350! Arthritis wakes me up most every morning and hangs around all day, bugging me, and to make sure I'm not lonely when I go to sleep at night, it tags along with me then too!

My eyes have been giving me fits lately too now -or perhaps it is that my glasses must need adjusted or something but reading is often difficult too.

Add the vision problems to the fact that in old houses, the wiring often isn't placed in areas that would give the best light placement either. Now, the wiring in this place is good as I had a lot of it redone when I moved in here in 1979 and then, had more work done with respect to the wiring after my dear son managed to catch the house on fire too. Heck of a way to get things fixed and remodeled in a house ya know!

I'd like to have some additional lighting in my kitchen sometime -when we win the lottery ya know -but in the living room, what I need now is a nice lamp to give a little bit of a pretty touch to the room and also, give me a means to have a lamp near the sofa for when I do try to read a bit. The lamp we have there now if a bit on the bedraggled side. I was looking at some lighting fixtures and fell in love with some of the beautiful tiffany lamps! WOW. Would any one of them ever look pretty on the end table by the sofa though! Yes, indeedy, sure would!

A Bonus Day

The other night when Carrie and her fiance, Robert, were up here for supper, they mentioned a job that they had contracted to do for some young woman over at the University. This lady, it seems, is moving out of her apartment and in order to get her deposit back, the apartment of course, has to be all cleaned out and spiffy. She offered a decent amount to Carrie and Robert to haul everything she wasn't taking with her out and to dispose of the stuff and then, after that, to give the apartment a really good scrubbing down.

Carrie offered a share of the money if she wanted to come over today and help them so this morning, Mandy was up bright and early, almost at the crack of dawn, to meet them at 7:00 a.m. and get started.

Around 9:30, Mandy called me to let me know how things were going and to tell me of some of the stuff she was bringing home with her that the lady was going to just toss into the garbage.

First, a nice tv set -about 3-years-old and same size as the one we had in the living room. This set will go in the living room here, the one in the living room will go back up to Mandy and Bill's bedroom and the one in their bedroom now will go over to Kate's room, so that's a nice win-win situation for everyone. There will also be a new twin bed for me, for my room as the mattress and box springs I currently isn't quite as firm as I prefer and Mandy says this set is a good set and very nice and firm. Ok, I'm fine with that too.

She's also bringing home more pots and pans -stuff like that, which we definitely DON'T need -don't have room for a bunch more kitchen stuff, but what the heck, she can use it to put out when she has a yard sale some weekend now in August.

But there is one other thing she is bringing up and it's a new computer desk -still in the box, never been put together and set up. Now that would be nice to get a new computer desk as this one is a bit too clunky, too big really too for the corner where we have it in the living room. And that it is brand-spanking new too is really great, don't you think. Now, if it were a desk from this type of office furniture, I would be downright ecstatic. However, if that were the case, we would also definitely have to build an extra room -and a large one at that -on to be able to fit it in here.

Oh well, I could live with that idea too, as long as we have hit the lottery to be able to afford the addition it would really be a huge bonus day then, wouldn't it?

Yeah, dream on!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Teenager Issues

The 16-year-old here sometimes gets really frustrated as well as feeling embarrassed somedays when she gets an outbreak of stuff -pimples and such - on her face. And let's face it, most likely all of us have had issues like that from time to time too when in our teens. Sometimes it continues well into adulthood too.

And why is it every time that happens, it always seems to coincide with an event for which we want to look our absolute best too and how the dickens can you possibly do that if you end up with zits and stuff on your face then? Why is that? Makes me a firm believer, for sure, in good old Murphy and his stupid law!

Heck, even at my very advanced age, I even develop things like that too from time to time.

So what do you do to get rid of them or at least cover them up as best you can? I hate to try to put make-up over 'em cause it always tends to make them look even worse -stand out in the crowd for sure type thing then ya know.

I'm thinking maybe what we need here is a nice container of pimple cream to use to try to heal them properly and as quickly as can be done then too!

Risk Factors

Last week -a week ago tonight to be exact -as you know, my van broke down on me coming back home from the airport at Pittsburgh.

When I realized the van had problems that appeared to be indicative to me of something serious, my main concern then was how was Maya going to react to all of this? In retrospect, as several friends and some family members have mentioned to me, I had to have had some really good karma going on for me in that this took place on roads that weren't heavily trafficked, my daughter's best friend just happens to live nearby to where the van broke down and she came and rescued us.

But when I think about what would have happened to us if I had not decided to take the route I was on when this happened -if I had come back by trying to go north on Interstate 79 -a very fast moving, four-lane highway, with loads and loads of tractor-trailer traffic on it, odds are that we could very easily have become a big grease spot on the highway had I been on that road when the transmission went out on us.

If that had been the case, odds are about now, Mandy would be busy trying to find help in filing a law suit -probably would have been in need of a darned good truck accident lawyer.

Boy, I sure am glad that isn't the case. Just breathing a big old sigh of relief for the luck that rode with me last Friday night!

Volume Control?

Sometimes, this house gets really, really noisy. With a two-year-old who doesn't talk (although he is starting to say a word here and there now) and a 4 1/2 year old who never seems to shut up -neither of them have ever heard of the term "indoor voice" either, add to that people calling other family members constantly (or so it seems), someone running a lawn mower outside, or a weed eater, people running up and down the street in front of the house with those really loud motorbikes or ATVs and the extraneous noise levels here get pretty bad at times -especially if one is trying to watch a particularly favorite tv program.

I think at times I maybe in need of a hearing aid to be able to know what's being said on some of the shows I really like to watch. My favorite -"The Office" even under the best of circumstances here -like I am the ONLY one in the house, I still have to crank the volume way up in order to follow the dialogue accurately.

I'm thinking these programs all need to use closed captioning so I can follow them ok and enjoy them!

Such a deal!

Did I tell everyone before than my son-in-law has now become an entrepreneur? I thought I had mentioned this but now, I'm not sure, but at the risk of being redundant, I'll mention it here.

Yep! He and a friend of his have set up shop in a town about 12 miles from here. It's basically a Used Car Lot where his friend, that guy's son as well as his son-in-law too, get cars, trucks, fix them up -thanks to my son-in-law, who is a mechanic -and then, put them out on the lot for re-sale.

The SIL checks over any cars they bring in to see what needs to be done and then, he goes to work and gets them all spiffied up, ready to roll and be a good working unit, reasonably priced, for people -like his old Mother-in-Law here -to use.

Once SIL gets all the cars they have for resale all fixed up, he can then work on other vehicles that people who know his workmanship, his ability, and such, can bring their cars to him to work on, fix the brakes, lube jobs, tune-ups, whatever.

Since they are new in this endeavor though and could use a hand in getting their names out to the public, I think he and his partner need to invest in some promotional items.

I think I'll mention this to them and see if maybe they'd like to hire me to do advertising for them cause I really could use a part-time job that wouldn't require bunches of manual labor and being on my feet all the time.

Sounds like a game plan to me!

Why, Why, Why!

Boy, the past week has been full of frustrations galore here!

My van broke down and needs a new transmission -which I can't afford. I need a different vehicle too -also which I can't afford and that has been giving me a lot of stress and anxiety.

Last week, Kurtis was really out-of-sorts and for good reason too. The poor little guy had some big issues with a case of the "poops" which, in turn, gave him a really ugly (boy, I do mean UGLY too) diaper rash so he was in a lot of pain, not sleeping well and therefore, was also really a little crabby appleton from all of that.

Add to that, Maya is still refusing to continue with the next step in her potty training regimen too. We have tried virtually everything we can think of to get her to use the potty for everything -as it is intended to be used, ya know, and she just flat out refuses plus, she won't tell us WHY she won't do this either.

Right now, if we ask her "Why won't you do poppy in the potty?" the answer we keep getting from her is this - "Why?"

And that's what we keep saying to, "Why, why, why?"

If this keeps up, we're soon gonna have to switch to this type of disposable diaper in the future, I fear!

Those Little Things

I've been dilly-dallying around the past day or so -reading a book, that I finally finished ("Juniper Tree Burning") the flipping over to the computer to read a blog or two -or ten, maybe -but hadn't really concentrated on getting all the new posts showing on my reader completed between Wednesday and this morning -until a few minutes ago, when I read the last of the new posts.

In the wake of the car problems, it appears that finding a decent used-but-new-to-me transmission that would be affordable will be a really difficult task followed by the even more difficult job for my son-in-law to then find adequate time to install a different tranny in the van. So this week, the lack of a vehicle of my own has had me somewhat bummed out as well as more than a little anxious about how I would acquire another vehicle to replace the van. I'm far from a rich old disabled/retiree and don't have but a couple extra bucks laying around -and they would be "George Washington's" unfortunately anyway. However, I did manage to do two posts this week of the paid variety and for that little bit of extra buckaroonies it will bring to my coffers eventually, I'm really happy -and thankful. I'm especially thankful because one of them was done with the group that I have, in the past, often had a lot of difficulty even finding a post I was eligible to accept and then, frequently ended up doing a post that wasn't going to net me any money because I couldn't get them to submit properly. Somehow or other, Blogger was changing the anchor text and changing it around thus making the URL not go where it was supposed to lead the reader -and this in turn would make the post unacceptable to the powers that be who decide if they will accept it and shell out any money back to me for my work but I finally got a post for them done and it went through! Yippy Skippy! Maybe now, if I can build up a little better understanding here of the "edit html" side on posting, I can work around that issue and be able to get a couple more posts done to earn a little extra cash after all. Yeah, that would be great and I will really be thankful if that happens.

Along the expense lines with the car problems though, something has happened that looks like it will resolve my being without a car in the near future. My son-in-law is working in a "partnership" type thing with a man who has a used car lot with his son and son-in-law. The SIL is their mechanic. His partner offered a vehicle he has available there with my old van as a trade and my son-in-law is going to throw in a junker he had been planning to take to the car recycling place to sell it for the metal there for this fine unit thus it will only cost me the transer fees and for the expense then of a few smallish parts the buggy needs to make it a good unit. Probably will cost me then between $100-$150 total -and that is my kind of car price tag ya know!

This future vehicle of mine is a 1998 Jeep Cherokee, 4-door, 4-wheel drive too and it has about 28,000 fewer miles on the odometer than the van had when I got it about 18 months ago! So, hopefully within the week -if I am lucky -the SIL will have it all ready to go and I can be zipping around in my own set of wheels again! Ah, independence that only comes from having a means of transportation of your own! YAY! For that I am doubly gonna be thankful, ya know!

Wednesday night was the night the Schwann Man comes around here and Mandy made a few purchases from him. Sadly, I was not really completely thankful for that because you see, he was all out of those scrumdelicious cheese-stuffed bread sticks he normally has and which we have been purchasing on a bi-weekly basis now for a little over a month! Gosh, they are yummy and both the little ones here really love them and gobble them down with much gusto too! He better do a double stocking of those breadsticks when he comes around again two weeks from now and if he does, you can bet your bottom dollar I will really, really be very thankful for that.

However, as I was trying to find places in the freezer to stash the purchases Mandy got from him -and was having a really difficult time with that job too -some item started to slip and slide and almost fell out on my foot but I did manage to grab it and get it repositioned in the freezer without it hitting my foot and then the floor. But in the process of doing that and in my excited state of mind then, I made some comments meant to be (well, they should have been anyway) said more or less under my breath but they came out a little louder than necessary and gee, don't you know, there was an echo in the kitchen about 2 seconds after I made those mutterings. Some expletives that often come forth from my mouth when I am in a very agitated state -which I was at that time. The echo machine -none other, of course, than sweet little Maya who repeated only the cuss words I had just said -nothing else of my mutterings! My older daughter happened to be here Wednesday evening when all this happened and she about wet herself, howling in laughter at my dilemma with Maya and the language (bad) thing! Why is it so darned funny when your kids catch you in a pickle like that anyway?

Although I am not condoning or encouraging Maya to say these things that Grammy lets fly from time to time, to be honest, I have to say that I am actually thankful that she did pick up that utterance and repeat it though because it speaks for itself then that she is learning -and learning -and learning -and that, is a very good thing. So guess in a weird way, I am thankful to see that is happening in her.

Tonight thought, Maya had been out for a little while, had Kurtis with her and when they came back home, she was playing around with him out in the kitchen and I was in what the kids tease me and call my "normal position" -that being parked here in front of the computer. Mandy started to sing to Kurtis -"Old MacDonald had a farm..." and as she began to sing the ei-ei-o chorus, I heard another voice singing that part too! And boy, hearing that brought tears to the eyes and a whole bunch of thankfulness deep down inside me because you see, it was Kurtis -yes, Kurtis --who was singing the chorus along with her! Actually it almost sent me into a state of shock! Mandy said he had done that at least three, maybe four times this afternoon and evening while they were out and she could hardly wait to get back home to get him to show off his new found talent and word! Incredible! After nine months of three different therapists working with him, he is finally beginning to pick up and repeat a word every now and again!

Yep -again -you better believe I am really, REALLY so very thankful!

That song tonight - Music to my ears and I am really looking forward to much more of those things in the days ahead -many more words for which I can consider I am blessed to have these grandchildren in my life and so thankful to see how they are beginning for Kurtis and continuing for Maya to learn!

Ain't life grand though!

And this is my post in connection today to the "Faithful Fridays" done by Blessed1 at Daily Blessings!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Findings From the Past

If you've read my blog for any time now, you'll no doubt know that I really like history -especially the history of my community -the township, the little villages here and the people who once lived here, their families, the interconnections between families, where many of those folks with roots to this area are today. For the past 3-4 years, by researching through the historic newspaper section of, I have been transcribing bits and pieces about this area and the people who called this home. I have no idea how many word documents I have saved now with article after article about happenings from here between 1913 and 1966-67 (that's where I left off the last time I was researching via the old newspaper, but suffice it to say, I have many, many pages of these bits and pieces of what once was.

I did have sort of a game plan, initially, that by transcribing these articles, someday, I would sort through them, organize them, and then do some type of book that might be of interest to anyone who, like me, enjoys reading trivial bits like that -history -but also I had figured I would do this "book" in a way that it would or could be useful to those who are doing family tree research -to give them perhaps more personal information about their ancestors from this region than just those old census records, which often are very difficult to read and sometimes, pretty dry too.

The past several months, I've been very lazy about this research project of mine. Matter of fact, I don't think I've done a transcription since February or March. I haven't even updated my own family tree very much in quite a long time either.

But after events of this week -in the past two days -I think I better get moving, do some more work on that and try to set some goals for at least completing the research.

What brought this on? Well, Sunday evening I received an e-mail from a lady who had found my blog by googling the word "Panakaka" -which is a Swedish dish -a baked custard type thing -that my Grandma used to make frequently and which I make fairly often. My kids and I love it -especially with blueberries or if I happen to get to an IKEA store and buy some lingonberries, which is what my Grandma always said were meant to be served with Panakaka.

As it turns out, this lady's ancestors had immigrated to this area where I live from Sweden back in the 1880's and she knows some folks from around here. What's more, this lady was also born in Jamestown, NY -where I lived for a little over a year during 2nd and 3rd grade and where I spent most of my summer vacations too through 1961!

I e-mailed her and thus began a correspondence with her. Then, she either forwarded our communication on to a cousin of hers who lives in Jamestown but is moving next week to South Carolina and that lady and I have been buring up the cyberspace this afternoon and evening with e-mails -questions and answers we both have about people and the area of our past, our roots.

One thing I thought was really cool was in a response to one of my notes, the lady still living in Jamestown asked about a surname I had mentioned and wanted to know if the Nagle family I knew had ever had a little store up on Newland Avenue and as it turns out, yes indeed, we were talking about the same family.

Now, this evening, I received a comment to one of my first posts -way back in September of 2006 -from a blogger who is on my favorites list, whose blog I read daily - Beth of Around the Funny Farm. Gee, it seems Beth's roots also revert back to here -to where I live -as she informed me that her grandfather was from Grassflat -which is the name of the little village where I live. She says he worked in the coal mines here and was one of a family of 11 children! What's more -about two months ago when Mandy and I had made a trip to Pittsburgh for an appointment I had with my surgeon there (a trip that went much better than the drive there last Friday because we didn't have any car problems -except that we got lost coming out of PIttsburgh that day) but anyway, on the way back home we had stopped at a little convenience store on the east side of Route 79 where the Grove City Outlet Mall is located to say hello to my ex-sister-in-law, who is the manager of that establishment. When Beth had read that in my post then, she had informed me that she lives about 10-15 minutes away from that store.

Well Beth -go stop over at that convenience store and talk to the manager there some day as she is also from Grassflat and her grandfather also grew up in Grassflat (so did my sister-in-law) and what's more, her grandfather was one of 18 children! (That included also a set of triplets!)

Back when I got my first computer in the summer of 1999, I was really interested then in just searching for information pertaining to my own family tree so I used to surf a lot of the family tree sites for people searching for ancestors that might be linked to my trees. And, within a few months, I had found a cousin of my Dad's who lives in Phoenix, AZ and who had a very concise tree, full of information about my great-grandfather and all of his children -except for my grandfather. The reason being my g-grandfather and his second wife had moved from eastern Pennsylvania, to this region where they had lived for a short period of time and then, they had migrated out to Montana but my Grandfather had stayed behind here in Pennsylvania. So, although I knew a little bit about my grandfather's full siblings as well as his half-siblings, I didn't know enough about them to ever be able to do a full tree on that side of my family unless I would win the lottery and be able to go to Montana and stay there a while to research those roots. That cousin sent me everything she had on that side of my family tree and in turn, I sent her all the data I had on my Dad's parents, their children, grandchildren, etc. -all information which that cousin would also have had a really hard time in tracking the data down for her tree too!

Back then too, I came across a query one day from a lady researching her roots back to Grassflat and I recognized her name. She had graduated from high school four years ahead of me so I didn't really "know" her -I knew who she was -but I knew her sister very well because she was in my class and we had gone through most all of our school years together -with the exception of the roughly a year when I lived in Jamestown, NY and went to school there.

Ok, I e-mailed that lady and we began to write back and forth. During those early letters I learned that she had written a book -begun mainly as a family history for her siblings and the descendants of their very large family. This book chronicles how her grandparents met in Slovakia, their journey to the "new land" and how they came to settle here in this small community. It is also a telling of what it was like growing up here in a large family in the 40s and 50s, until she finished high school, moved to Cleveland, got married and had her own family.

The upshot of that early communication too has resulted in a very strong friendship developing between us -and sharing of many mutual concerns as she and I both were diagnosed with cancer too about a year apart. So far, both of us have now remained cancer-free too -so we celebrate that victory together as well these days. She and her husband make trips over here from Cleveland from time to time and we always try to get together either for lunch or maybe just coffee and dessert but try to make time to visit, reconnect in person then.

And, my friend's book -well, it may have started as a self-published family history type thing, but a few folks here and there heard about it and told her they would like to be able to purchase a copy of it -myself, included in that number -and primarily from word of mouth, she has had her book reprinted now four times and nine years since it was first published, she still gets inquiries and orders for a copy of it! So if anyone here is interested in a book about one family that used to live here, drop me an e-mail and I will give you her e-mail address and you can then contact her and get a copy. It really is a very nice book, well-written and a very enjoyable piece to read!

Now, going off in a little different direction tonight there is something else I wanted to mention to everyone reading my blog and that is about a fellow blogger who I know many of you read her blog (I've seen your names in her comments section) and who I have come to "know" as a great cyberspace friend but I'd like to ask those who aren't familiar with her blog to please pay her a visit and then, keep her and her father in your prayers because this Thursday, she will be having surgery to donate a kidney to her Dad, who has been dealing with dialysis and kidney failure for a long time now. This would be for Terri, of Terri Terri Quite Contrary. She writes a terrific blog and please let her know you will be keeping her in thought and prayer for a swift recovery from the surgery for both her and her dad! I'm sure she would appreciate any extra kind words coming her way and I KNOW you won't regret reading her blog too -if you don't already do that!

Send her lots and lots of blogger love, especially now, as she gets ready for this really brave step she is about to take.

And, one other thing -in the "small world" vein -I got an e-mail this evening too from yet another lady I met via the family tree research message board about 8-9 years back whose father was originally from this area and who still has many relatives in this region -most who I know too from the church I belong to. This lady and I have e-mailed back and forth for about 7-8 years now but never met. However, this Sunday, she and her husband will be in this area and they are going to stop by my house for a quick "get-to-know-each-other" visit. I'm very much looking forward to her visit too now.

So, here's to Terri -Good luck, many prayers for you and your dad coming your way from lots of friends in bloggerland -old readers and new ones alike -and also, here's to finding folks and making new friends simply because of what a small world it really is where we all reside!

Just one small example of how the internet -and blogs -bring so many people together, create new friendships every day and who knows, maybe someday, through the efforts we all put into blogging and getting acquainted, we will shrink the globe that much more and maybe even help to make our world a much more civilized, peaceable and loving place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

Yeah, I know -I'm late again -or maybe by now people are saying "As usual" when I don't get the Bushisms put up here on Sunday the way I had been trying to do.

This week, I have yet another excuse for my tardiness. I was majorly backlogged with blogs to read due to having been away from home Friday -taking my son to the airport in Pittsburgh and with the van breaking down on me on the way home, having to spend the night in Saltsburg, PA with Mandy's best friend and then, waiting till Saturday afternoon until my son-in-law and Mandy could get there with the truck and car dolly to tow the van back home! Phew! Needless to say, it there were around 170 plus posts coming up on my reader when I finally was able to try to get going with that routine.

But anyway, I'm here now so let's get started and see what special things the DUBYA has to say for this week now.

Monday, July 21, 2008 - 183 days left

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - 182 days left

"I wish I wasn't the war president. Who in the heck wants to be a war president? I don't."
--Washington, D.C., 2004

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - 181 days left

Congress publishes a report on 9/11, but information is omitted for reasons of national security.
--July 2003

Thursday, July 24, 2008 - 180 days left

Bush desecrates the American flag by autographing it for doting fans.
--Livonia, Michigan, July 24, 2003

Friday, July 25, 2008 - 179 days left

"These people don't have tanks. They don't have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out."
--Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 2002

Saturday and Sunday, July 26/27, 2008 - 178 days left and 177 days left

"I need to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect you and I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United Nations Senate."
--South Bend, Indiana, 2002

There they are now -guideposts for the coming week.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What To Wear - What to Wear?

David McMahon at Authorblog posts a "Weekend Wandering" question every Sunday in which he throws out a question and asks us to do a post on our blog about his topic of the day.

Today's question is this: Do you have an item of clothing that you haven't worn for more than a year?

And, my answer to that questiojn is I have a whole closet full of clothes I haven't worn in more than a year!

Actually, my closet if full of clothes that in many instances I haven't worn in oh, at least 5-6 years!

This isn't due to my being so fussy that if I have an item of clothing I won't wear if it is sort of no longer "vogue" or because I am tired of that item or that it has a tiny rip that needs fixed or anything along those lines.

My reason for having this entire closet, fully loaded, really, with clothes I haven't worn in a long, long time is because none of them fit me any more. Unfortunately it is not because they are too big for me cause if that were the case, I could always take them in then.

Nope, in my case it is because over the past five-six years, my once semi-svelte frame has expanded and done it in a "big" way too!

And you know, if something is too small for you, letting out seams isn't near as practical or easy to do as is taking a seam in.

Why then to I keep all these clothes, just taking up space?

Well, for one thing they are in an upstairs closet and I avoid the stairs as much as possible because I have a lot of difficulty going up and down stairs and I don't care to chance a fall and possible broken bones which would bugger up my system way more than it already is.

But besides that, I am also way to Scotch to get rid of these items simply because I am, in this instance, ever the optimist that some day I may actually begin to lose weight and they will once again fit me.

Yeah, in the words of comedienne, Judy Tenuto, "It could happen. It could happen."

And realisically, I would probably have to add "When donkeys fly" to that but who knows. I don't. And I'm not going to risk have to buy another whole new wardrobe when that great diet kicks in for me and I shed all this extra baggage too!

So now, I'm going back to my dream world of smaller sized clothing that's barely been worn, just waiting on me to shrink and dress up to the nines then!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"500 Miles"

Since about 8:00 p.m. last night, for some strange reason, that song -"500 Miles" has been running over and over through my mind. Guess you could say I got a massive case of "earworm" going on there, huh?

Although I used to know the lyrics to that song many moons ago, I don't remember them all now. I had thought of posting a you-tube video of Peter, Paul and Mary singing it, but for the life of me now, I can't figure out how to put a you-tube video into my blog so if anyone wants to tell me how to go about doing that -for possible future use -please feel free to do so. (Just keep the instructions extremely simple, plain English -no computerese, please -as I am a bit of a moron when it comes to translating computerese into English, ya know!)

Anyway, there is actually sort of a reason why that song kind of struck me last night and yes, thee is a story -probably a lengthy one too -that goes with it but I'll try to keep it as short and sweet as possible. (Cough, cough, I know!)

Anyway, here's the scoop!

Yesterday, my son was going to fly out of Pittsburgh Airport to Las Vegas where his Dad was to pick him up and his plan is that after spending 2, maybe 3 days visiting with the old man, he will then drive back home in an old pick-up truck his Dad has restored and according to my son, he is giving the boy the truck. (I know, my son isn't exactly a "boy" as he'll soon be 35 years old, but heck, he's still a boy to me, still "my baby boy" ya know.

The original plan too was that his girlfriend he's been seeing since early December was going to go with him. They had bought tickets -one-way -non-refundable and non-transferrable too and Mandy was supposed to drive them to Pittsburgh using one of his girlfriend's vehicles.

Well, this week, Kurtis has been having a terrible time -had a lot of issues this week with his bowels which in turn resulted in the poor little guy getting a really, really nasty diaper rash -extremely red, sore -yeah, you know that drill I'm describing. End result of that has been no one here has been sleeping very well because, well, because Kurtis has not been sleeping very well. And if he doesn't sleep, he figures we shouldn't either so he entertains us then with his own specific type of music -mostly screaming and wailing. And needless to say, Mandy has been very sleep deprived.

So Thursday night, I suggested to her that perhaps it would be easier if I drove them to the "Steel City" to catch that jet plane, ya know. She almost jumped for joy when I mentioned this.

However, Friday morning when Clate called to check in about what time to be ready to leave, etc., he sprung another surprise on us -it would just be him flying as the girlfriend had gotten ticked off at him late Thursday night and had decided then she was not going with him. Well, ok. So that ruled out taking one of her cars then too. It was decided that I would drive him down in my van - a 1996 Ford Windstar -with 144,000 plus miles on it. But the son-in-law said the minor problems the van had wouldn't be a hindrance -it would be ok. So, we were on with that plan then.

Friday morning -because I do so much enjoy the thrill of spontenaity, etc., I suggested to Mandy that Maya could go with us too. Sure, fine, she thought it would be ok -that Maya would enjoy the drive and probably provide me with enough entertainment too on the way home, with her singing all the little songs she knows now, that it would keep me awake and alert. Another good game plan too, we thought.

So, about noonish, Maya and I left to go pick up Uncle Clate and he then had to drop his girlfriend's car off at her house (Which he had been using this week since he had just sold his old caddie last weekend when he was home, ya see.) He arrived there a little ahead of me as I had to gas up and get a check cashed so I would have some cash coins with me for sodas and food maybe. When I pulled in to pick him up, he was standing by a big tree in her backyard and there, under said tree, were several clothing items, on hangers, waiting to be loaded into the van too.

As he was putting the stuff in the van, I quipped to him that it looked like the girlfriend had tossed him -and what items of his he had at her house for whatever reasons -out on his ear. He grinned at me and said, "Yeah, pretty much, that would be the case." So supposedly, this is the end of that relationship.

In the car then, on our way to Pittsburgh, he told me he figured I probably would have done the same thing as she had done to him -toss him out, that is -wouldn't I? And I said that if I had been the one ticked off at him, I would have done a few other things first -like USE that non-refundable, non-transferrable plane ticket and I definitely would have taken advantage of being able to travel -by an old but nicely running truck, cross-country -see the sights, ya know -and then, after I got home, I would have pitched his scrawny butt and his clothes out the door and told him not to let it hit him in the behind as he left too! But then I am very Scotch at times, can't stand the thought of losing that $300 investment in the plane ticket nor to give up the ride back home. Just would never have crossed my mind to cancel all that good stuff out just because of a stupid squabble.

So, we drove on to the "Burgh" -laughing, talking about all kinds of stuff, listening to Maya singing to us and just generally having a really fun trip. Got him there at the airport, safe and sound and only 5 minutes late for check-in but he was ok even at that. I just pulled up at the entrance, he hoppped out and grabbed his bag, gave Maya and I each a big hug and kiss and away he went.

As we started to pull away from the entry point, Maya started calling to him "I wanna go on de plane too!"

Next stop -McDonald's where Maya and I had a nice leisurely Happy Meal for her and a double-cheeseburger meal for me. I called a cousin of mine who lives down near Washington, PA while we sat in the van a little bit to give our food a chance to digest ya know -talked to her a little while and then away we went, heading back home.

I was coming out of Pittsburgh on Route 376, heading to Monroeville area where I figured I would pick up Route 286 and follow that back route home. I know my way on those roads fairly well as my Mom's oldest brother used to live in Monroeville and that's the route we always took to his house.

Aside from a couple of missed turns on 376 and circling around to get back on the right highway again, things were fine. I came to the intersection of 376 or route 22 and 286 and made my turn there heading towards Saltsburg, PA.

After driving on that road for several miles, I started to notice the car didn't seem to be running quite right - seemed to not have any power, no pick-up, kind of surging. The closer I got to Saltsburg, the more drastic the sounds and motions of the car became -making some strange noises too it was. I made it through Saltsburg but as I made the turn in the middle of town and started out of Saltsburg, I was afraid the van wasn't going to even make it up the first hill but thankfully it did. But I decided to find a place where I could pull over and call Mandy -and Bill -to try to figure out what was happening with the van.

At that point, I saw a Dollar General Store on the left side of the road and pulled into their parking lot and called home.

Sitting there, talking to Mandy on the cellphone, trying to explain to her what was happening with the car, I mentioned to her that though I'd never driven a car before that was having transmission problems, I was thinking it might be acting up along those lines. As I said that to her on the phone, a very nice looking young man was walking past us in the car and he stopped to tell me it looked like the van was leaking transmission fluid then.

Oh brother! My worst fears seemed to be confirmed then ya know. He talked to me and I relayed to Mandy and Bill what he was saying and then as he left to walk away, he turned to me saying, "If you need any help, I just live right next door here and I'll be out working around the house and cleaning my truck. Just come get me!"

The SIL told me to go buy as many quarts of transmission fluid as I could, and see if this guy would put the transmission fluid in for me -and show me how to put more in if the van acted up further down the road. So, that's what I did then -went and got this nice man, purchased 10 quarts of transmission fluid and a funnel and he put two quarts of fluid in for me and I took off again heading, hopefully, for home.

I don't know how far we got -cause I'm a terrible judge of distance -could have been a mile, or two-maybe even five -but I could hear the same sounds starting up again and then, when I tried to accelerate, the car sound like it was just revving up but the speedomoter wasn't moving -just staying in one place.

So, guess who found another place then to pull over? Yep, I did! Right in front (luckily) of the Conemaugh Township Borough Building who just happened to have this nice big, very convenient parking lot there -just waiting for goofy old grammies, with a four-year-old granddaughter in tow -to pull their very sick little van off the road and call home to tell Mandy and Bill of this revolting development!

One blessing that came up throughout this whole process was that Mandy's best friend, since kindergarten, her husband and 15-year-old son just happen to live in good old Saltsburg so Mandy called Missy and she then called me to tell me she and her son were on their way to pick Maya and I up -that we would be spending the night then at their house.

So -at least I knew we wouldn't be stranded there, out in the boondocks, in the dark, alone, ya know. Within about 10 minutes, Missy and Cody pulled up and we loaded my stuff -and Clate's into her suv and away we went to their house!

Now, let me tell you this too -Missy and her husband just moved into this house a year ago -it's the first time I've ever been to their NEW house and WOW! What a gorgeous place it is too! Drop-dead beautiful as houses go! So Maya and I spent the night there and today, Mandy, Bill and Kurtis came to pick us up and bring us home.

They did that by hooking up the car dolly to the back of Bill's truck, loaded Mandy's car onto the dolly and towed that down to save a little gas that way plus provide enough room for all five of us to be able to ride back home that way.

Bill unloaded Mandy's car at Missy's house and she, Kurtis and I rode in the car while Maya got the honor of sitting in her car seat up in the cab of Daddy's pickup truck and rode the whole way home with him then!

We didn't bring the van home to the house though, rather Bill took it straight to the garage where he works now, unloaded it there and put it up on the rack to try to see if he could get a better idea of what was really wrong with the car.

He's thinking right now it may just be a leaky seal though and if so, he'll fix that and then, see in the meantime if we can find another decent transmission -that won't necessitate me having to take out a small business loan, ya know -and then replace that part of the car later -if that's going to be feasbile, that is.

So there you go -the reason that started that song, running through my head for the past 24 plus hours now.

Not that I had drive 500 miles, not that I was 500 miles from my home, but boy, there were times last night when I felt like I was that far away from home. Might as well have been 500 miles if I hadn't decided to come home on the route I did take too. If I'd gone home by going up Rte 79 and across 80 then, I'd really have been sunk on a four-lane highway and no one, no way, to get rescued without involving a motel and towing fees and still having to have Mandy and Bill come pick us up too! Just providence there that made me decide to come home the back roads, I guess.

But even more things than that -providence again here -was that when we finally got to the garage this evening, when Bill unloaded the van from the dolly, guess what he discovered then?

Would you believe that one of the tires on the dolly had thrown off a big patch of tread? And not only that, Bill has no idea when that happened either. How lucky we were the it didn't all peel off and cause a major accident, that could have upended not just the dolly and my van but also the pickup truck with my son-in-law and sweet little granddaughter in there with him!

When I think of what could have happened there and think of the words to that song "500 Miles" it just makes me think of what a terrible journey we could have ended up being on today and that one would have seemed like it was 500 miles times who knows how much in grief, pain, misery.

Counting my blessings, yet again tonight, as well as thinking how fortunate I was to have met the nice young man in the Dollar General Store in Saltsburg -Terry is his name -and for his assistance in helping Maya and me through the first phase of our dilemma! He wouldn't accept a penny for helping me but I told him -after asking his name -that I would definitely give him a shout out on my blog when I got home so if anyone from Saltsburg is reading this and knows Terry, who lives in the little brown house by the Dollar General Store on the east side of Saltsburg on Route 286, please tell him for me that my granddaughter and I did finally arrive home, safe and sound, and that he is one very nice guy -my hero, for darned sure, ya know!

And, here's a look at Maya's and my other three heros of the day -Missy, her husband Matt, and son, Cody! After all, if they hadn't come and picked Maya and me up, we'd have had one really long, hot, sweaty and scary night alone in the van I'm afraid!

Maybe I should have titled this post "All's well that ends well!" You be the judge of that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

About Those "Golden Years!"

Although my age -technically -is not old enough to retire on Social Security, (won't be 65 for another year yet and I think they upped the age to 67 too -or didn't that go through?) I've been on Social Security via Disability for the past almost five years now.

Although there are times when I DO actually wish I could be out in the work force the fact I am unable to do that anymore does have a few benefits for me. I am able to be here every day and watch the kids if Mandy has to work or has an appointment -whatever, in that respect. For me, it is a chance to watch and enjoy these two of my grandchildren as they grow, develop better coordination skills, learn to talk and just enjoy those things I missed when my children were growing up. All because there was no alternative -as a single parent -I HAD to go to work. Child support doesn't go very far and in case anyone is thinking "Well, you could have stayed at home and let welfare support you" -don't even go there! A whole lot of folks have the delusional ideas that if one is on welfare, it is a big gravy train and you are on easy street. Not true, not true at all!

I know because when I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, could not work at all but hadn't yet been declared disabled, in order to get medical assistance, I had to apply for cash assistance and if anyone is on "Easy Street" receiving a whopping big old $175 a month -to cover housing, utilities, car insurance and other "incidental" then that person is a heck of a lot better at managing finances than I ever was or will be!

But issues with welfare, economics, etc., is not my point of my post tonight.

I have come to the conclusion that the term "Golden Years" -referring to retired people -is a misnomer. The only people who see "gold" with respect to older folks are those in the medical profession.

And even that isn't really what I'm going to tell you about tonight either. That's just my opinion about the way things go once your body doesn't function quite as good as it had for most of one's life and it seems every time you turn around you're going to this doctor or that one and then referred to yet another and the cycle goes on and on that way then.

I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer five years ago this past March having gone to my family doctor for a general check-up because of some pain issues I'd been having in my lower intestine. The GP referred me to a surgeon to have him check me out -requiring a colonoscopy -and that was how I met the first (of several) surgeons I've dealt with since then.

The day he did the colonoscopy, after I came back from the recovery room, he came in and talked to my younger daughter and me -giving me the diagnosis that the colonoscopy revealed I had a tumor in my colon and that it was malignant. He also gave me a run-down of what I would be doing over the next ten months with respect to treatment. Two days after that test, I reported to the oncologist where they set me up with what is called a "Pic" line -just an iv connecter placed in my arm which would be connected to a little portable pack that I would wear 24-7 for the next 6-7 weeks. And three days after I had the pic line installed, I was to report to Altoona General Hospital's Radiation Department where I would meet with the doctor there who is the head of the Radiology department and that doctor would have me coming over there five days a week for the next 6-7 weeks to receive radiation treatments to shrink the tumor and thus, make it more operable. The objective there was to shrink it and make it easier to remove so as to -hopefully -not have to have a colostomy but rather a resection of the colon.

So, right there, I'm up to four doctors seeing me -three of them being specialists too.

The radiation worked in that when I had surgery in June of 2003, they were able to remove the tumor by doing a colon resection -no colostomy needed. At least not at that time.

However, by the end of July, I had developed some other issues that was causing me lots of problems. Seems I had two discs in my lower spine that were herniated. Trying to get that corrected required a little over six months of physical therapy -the first three months of the therapy were really just to get me so I could walk -and sit -for more than five minutes at a clip. The pain from this problem was so severe that I was taking some heavy-duty pain pills which in turn were creating yet another problem -severe constipation -a condition no one likes any time but when you've just had major surgery on your intestines, consitipation is really a bad thing then. The combination of severe constipation, two herniated discs, major abdominal surgery on the colon and pain pills created a vicious cycle right there. Plus I also had to return for follow-up chemotherapy that August too -which added a few more issues into the mix -like nausea! Eventually, I learned too that the radiation had left some residue in my lower spine which also contributed to the pain levels then -and still does.

Because the therapy had done all it could do to get me able to walk reasonably well again but wasn't working with the rest of the pain issues, I got referred to -yes, another doctor -this time one for Pain Management. Now, I've added a fifth doctor to my list.

Finally got things to a point where I could handle the pain fairly well and I was then down to just routine check-ups, another coloscopy a year after the surgery, and then, in February of 2005, I landed in the hospital with loads of pain plus nausea and a nasty urinary tract infection that required some kind of "scope procedure" done by a local urologist. This revealed a blockage in my right urinary tract and that doctor could not do the type of surgery required to correct that issue at the local hospital so I was referred then to Pittsburgh to see a surgeon there who eventually -on Halloween of 2005 -did a resection type of surgery on my right urinary tract. Ok, now I'm up to seven doctors.

In the meantime, the surgeon who I really liked and who had done the colon resection had decided to leave this fair state of Pennsylvania -mainly due to the malpractice insurance costs in this state -and he moved to Wisconsin. So when it came time for me to have my next lovely colonoscopy check-up, I had to see yet another surgeon. Make that doctor number eight!

This doctor told Mandy and I after performing that test that he had found a mass in my lower intestine and that it was malignant, but could not be feasibly removed. That was the news the day of that test but a week later when I had to go see him and get the full lab results, I was informed that although I did have a mass in my colon that was inoperable, thankfully, it was not what he had intially thought -and was NOT malignant. A bonus, right? But he also told me that he wasn't going to do anything for at least six months and for me to come back then -unless I developed a blockage in the interim -and he would then consider doing a colostomy.

The thought of waiting six months, dealing with the amount of pain I was having then, plus not being too crazy about the test results -just didn't trust the lab reports there -and my GP ended up referring me then to PIttsburgh -again - to meet with doctor number nine -a surgeon who determined that I should have a colostomy immediately to alleviate much of the pain issues I was having.

After that, things rolled along fairly nicely but then, a couple of months after the colostomy, the doctor who was the oncologist also left the area so that meant I was -eventually -going to have to see yet another oncologist to keep tabs on the way my system was operating -or not. I didn't get around to meeting doctor number 10 until this past January. He had me get some routine tests -cat scan, blood work, etc., -and that's when they found out I now had a hernia too! That was doctor number ten!

So, I was then referred to yet another surgeon - a local one though -but after he checked me, reviewed my records, Doctor Number eleven felt I would be better off if I returned to Pittsburgh to see the doctor who had done the colostomy for him to determine if I really should have surgery to correct the hernia -and even possibly do a reversal of the colostomy too at the same time. Thankfully, since I really didn't want another trip to the operating room any time soon, that doctor said "No surgery -at least not at this time.

So this spring then, back to my regular family doctor for my regular routine check-ups and she did one of those "routine test" we women are supposed to have regularly -a Pap test -which came back with some questionable issues which in turn required a second Pap test and it showed what was determined to be more questionable things, possibly pre-cancerous tissues -so that got me referred then to Doctor #12 - an ob/gynocology doctor -and yesterday, I reported to him to have a lovely little exam in his office and a test done there -called a culposcopy (I think that is the correct spelling -that's what it sounds like anyway and it didn't make my spell checker flash at me so it must be the right spelling, I guess.)

For anyone who has never had one of these tests, it really isn't all that bad -there are some that I firmly believe are much worse -like any type of rectal exam! But what they do in this test is that is is basically like a pap test -an internal female exam -but in doing this one, the insert sterile cotton balls that have been soaked in white vinegar, then using that lovely spectrum (yeah, you women know what instrument I'm talking about there, don't you) the doctor looks up inside the inner depths with a special green light to see if the there are any color changes on these white vinegar-soaked cotton balls. And I don't remember now if he said if they turn a different color, it indicate cancer is present there or not but the upshot with respect to my female organs he says is that there is NO cancer there! Yippy skippy! I'm a happy camper over that news -although I was a little uncomfortable all evening yesterday -from the spectrum -and also, from having my legs in a strange position for a long period of time which makes the leg and hip joints and muscles a bit on the stiff and sore side for me for a little while.

Today, I had my "routine" check-up -again -with the oncologist and he gave me a good report too -all the lab tests I had done last week came back fine and dandy -and clear of any cancer markers there too!

Isn't that just loverly!??? Well, yes, really it is because although I am not living my life in fear and panic that the cancer will come visit me again some day -in my opinion, it probably will but if so, I'll deal with that then, if and when that day comes my way.

But with meeting the new doctor yesterday and my visit today with the oncologist, I thought I'd tell you a little bit more here too -about both of these guys. The ob/gyn doctor and I were talking while he was examining me and I don't know how the conversation went in the direction of computer, the internet, etc., but I had occasion to tell him I have this blog and boy, it almost seemed like his ears really perked up over that bit of information. He asked what I write about here and I told him - just general things about me, my life, my family, my grandkids and especially the two little ones and the autism factor there. Before I left, he asked me if I was going to blog about him here and was I going to say he was a terrible individual, bad doctor, etc. I said I would only say bad things about him if he acted in any way like he was not a trustworthy physician but because I really liked him -very thorough, also very personable and my kind of doctor in that he has a sense of humor and put me at ease, made it much easier that way to deal with the tests he did yesterday, I have to say I think he's a pretty doggone good guy!

So if he's searched the net last night or today and happened to figure out which blog is mine and reads this, Cheers to to you my good man for making my visit to you yesterday as pleasant as possible, considering the circumstances that sent me there! No, I'm not going to identify him here though.

And today, my appointment with the oncologist revealed things about him that I wish I had know back in January and really, that I wish he'd been with the onology department here all along because you see, in our chat today, I learned he had cancer when he was in medical school and had done a good deal of his medical school studies and work while getting treatment plus, he had an ilieostomy done then too. Being able to talk to someone who knows first hand the quirky little things one has to learn to deal with when you have either a colostomy or ileostomy (basically the same procedure, just slightly different regions of the abdomen involved there) really builds one's comfort level with a physician! As he said - and yes, I agree completely with him on this, even though having surgery of this type and dealing with the ramifications it brings is not always pleasant, sometimes downright disagreeable, it is still a life-saving procedure and I am actually grateful that I had this done.

That doesn't mean I love it -I don't -but I accept it and appreciate it for the relief it has provided me in terms of alleviating a whole lot of pain issues over the past 21 months now!

And I hope you all realize I don't think these doctors -all twelve of them now -are all making windfall profits because my body is in a somewhat declingin -maybe deteriorating state these days with my comment about the Golden Years applying only to the doctors and pharmacies. I'm actually very glad each of them has been around to help me over the rough spots I've encountered in the past five years.

I may not be in the very best shape these days but as I always tell people now when they inquire about my health, how I'm doing now -"As long as Im still breathing and am able to move about even a little stiffly these days (thank you "Arthur" as a cousin of mine refers to the arthritis thing), I'm one happy little camper and hope they all enjoy the "Golden Years" on my contributions to the pot!

This is a long, drawn-out post -I know (my usual, huh) but it is something else too. It's actually my post for Faithful Fridays -hosted by B;essed1 at Daily Blessings Blog!

Because I am very, very thankful I have had the help of each of these doctors in my life!