Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pennsylvania State Holiday Eve

Back in the days when I waitressed at the truckstop down the line from here -put in seven long, hard years there, people -this day marked the start of a special holiday season, revered by Pennsylvanians from all across the state.

That season - Deer Season!

I dreaded this day and absolutely loathed, abhorred and despised the first day of Buck Season. With. A. Passion!

Not that I don't like the fruits of the hunters labors, because I do. Venison, contrary to what my older daughter will say about it, is some good meat! My son-in-law here is a hunter and we frequently dine on venison throughout the year from deer he has shot or from deer some hunter friends of his shot, who DON'T hunt for the meat but rather for the "sport" or "trophy."

Quite frankly, I don't think too highly of those hunters who head out into the woods aiming to do away with Bambi's parents just for the heck of it. Hunting, to my mind, should be done for the meat and if you manage to down a buck with a nice big, snazzy rack, well that is just icing on the proverbial cake then, ya know. But, the fact that these friends of the SIL's who go for the sport, the rack, but then do turn over the kill to my SIL, for him to clean, butcher, bag and freeze -well, at least it's getting used properly then, not going to waste.

Call us a "Redneck Family" if you wish to but the SIL has even been known to bring home fresh roadkill from time to time -a deer he's seen on the side of the road that had just had a run-in with a car or truck and lost the automotive vs animal battle. Keeps the freezer a little stocked up that way.

But back to the old "First Day" syndrome that I hated so much. For three years that I worked at that truckstop, I was on the midnight shift and so, starting at about 3:30 to 4 a.m. on the Monday morning right after Thanksgiving, the hunters would begin to filter in. Many just handing thermos after thermos over to my co-workers and me to fill for their early morning wake-up juice while plenty of others would show up, usually starting around 5 a.m., to load up on a big, hearty breakfast.

Trust me, deer hunters gearing themselves up to hit the woods, in search of breakfast, lots of coffee and such, are NOT the epitome of patience. Not. At. All! The only people in the truckstop happy to see these patrons were the owners of the place -who did NOT have to wait on these obnoxious, rude, bossy -very bossy -people in a massive rush to get out to the wilderness and play the "Great White Hunter" role.

All sense of timing, logic, understanding totally flies out the door when these fools arrive, in droves, no less. Each one bearing the largest thermos they could find and not seeming able to comprehend that a Bunn coffee maker, even with five burners holding pots of steaming coffee, still takes time to replenish each pot that it can often take to fill one of the gigantic thermos bottles being shoved at the waitress or cashier's faces!

Ordering ahot breakfast -bacon or sausage, eggs, perhaps pancakes or french toast -in a dining room that holds about 96 people, all of whom arrived within about a 10 minute span to the room being completed filled -leaving hunters standing in line, waiting to get in and be fed -provides for another dilemma.

Why do these clowns seem to think the management went out and purchased upteen more grills, just for the sole purpose of frying up their eggs or whatever, so they can order, get their thermos filled, eat and be out the door in record time -like perhaps 10 minutes? There is just no way possible that even in a restaurant as large as this one, with a pretty good-sized kitchen, with 3-4 grill cooks manning the fort there, that all these food orders can be processed simultaneously.

But you try explaining that to a testy, anxious, excited hunter! I dare you to do it and succeed in getting that logic across to them. The logic factor flew out the window as soon as that hunter's feet hit the floor that morning!

And, the last four years I worked at that place, I was on second shift -from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. -and then, I had the dubious pleasure to wait on many of these same hunters as they come back from the woods, ready for a big supper, and almost always not complete either unless they order dessert too. Said desserts often being the dreaded ice cream sundae or heaven forbid, a banana split -both hated orders by any sane waitress as they are often very time-consuming to prepare and folks ALWAYS order them, want them delivered to them five minutes before they told you their choice too.

Patience definitely becomes a lost entity in this mix -from the hunters as well as from the wait staff.

One item the cooks hated to see handed in to them though was a request for a club sandwich - you know -that three layers of toast, filled with sliced ham, sliced roast beef and/or turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato -skewered together with four large toothpicks and then, sliced into pretty quarters and arranged nicely on the plate. One grill cook in particular hated orders for club sandwiches at any time -even if it was the ONLY order he had hanging to prepare but bringing requests to him for these sandwiches when the restaurant is filled to the gills with impatient hunters, was really a sticky situation. So, one night during deer season, I had a table of nine hunters sitting together and the first order I took was for a Club sandwich. Hmmm, I thought -Ronnie is not going to be happy with this order. But to my chagrin, the next seven orders I took from that table were for, you guessed it, Club sandwiches! These guys couldn't form an original thought for their meal apparently and had decided to simplify things by playing "Monkey see, Monkey do."

And when I took that order to the kitchen, and put it under the magnet holder for incoming orders, you can bet your bottom dollar I did NOT call out loudly to the kitchen help -"ORDER." No sirree Bob! I laid those puppies down there, barely whispered to the cooks that I had just given them 9 orders to process and believe you me, I turned tail and ran from the kitchen.

The customers could hear Ronnie bellowing about ten seconds later when he picked those tickets up and I steered clear of the kitchen to go back and check on the progress of those orders too as much as possible as I didn't really want to risk the loss of a limb or perhaps, even life, as Ronnie had sort of suggested he was going to do if he saw my face back there again!

Oh the memories! Oh, how glad I am that I don't have to put up with waiting on deer hunters, not ever again -except to serve my son-in-law his supper here, that is.

Speaking of serving meals here, I'm in the process now of getting our second Thanksgiving Dinner in the past three days, cooked. Turkey is in the oven now. I am not making more stuffing though as there is a big container of stuffing still in the fridge from the first Thanksgiving Dinner, cooked here this past Thursday. Potates, white and sweet, both have to be prepped, some veggies decided on to be cooked too, coleslaw mixed as well and since older daughter and her fiance are supposed to be coming for dinner at two p.m. (weather permitting, that is) I better mix up a container of her fiance's absolute favorite food item - Watergate salad! Thankfully, it is probably the easiest item on my menu for today to prepare though so I'll have no problem fixing that one. I'll have a hell of a lot m ore problems later today though trying to figure out what containers to put the additional leftovers in and where to stash them in an already filled-to-the-gills refrigerator.

Nows when I kind of miss working in a restaurant though -plenty of space in big walk-in coolers to place leftover food items!

We're already off to a wonderful start this early in the morning too with Maya and her antics as her dad caught her a short time ago kissing the end wall in the living room. Why would a five year old want to kiss the wall you ask? Simple. To blot the lipstick she managed to find in the medicine cabinet -a nice, bright cherry red shade no less -and which she smeared on her lips.

Ah yes, those lip marks in that bright shade do wonders for the decor here! And, her mother is going to be really impressed when she gets up, comes down for her wake-up cup of java and sees that new trim work too!

You might hear Mandy's screaming many, many miles away from here as I'm quite sure she's going to really let out a hell of a bellow!

There go my eardrums today -for sure! One more thing for me to be thankful when this day is over is how much hearing I may still have left, ya know!

Oh well, as the older daughter likes to say about things like this -"It's all good, it's all good!"

And she's right too there. It is "all good!"

Just a great opportunity for my family and me to come together, enjoy a big meal, lots of pie and some great family times. We have too few of these moments anymore so take advantage while we can to be able to come back together over food and give thanks for it all.


As I pulled out the pages from my little desk calendar with the Bushisms, and in thinking of a title for this post today, I was inspired by the Bushism for tomorrow -Monday -December 1st. Quite accurate, I'd say.

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 50 days left

"I used to fly myself, and I said, 'well, there's one terrible pilot.'"
--Washington, D.C., December 4, 2001, discussing his reaction to footage of the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 49 days left

"I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome."
--NBC Nightly News, December 2005

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - 48 days left

"Sometimes, Washington is one of these towns where the person --people who think they've got the sharp elbow is the most effective person."
--New Orleans, Louisiana, December 3, 2002

Thursday, December 4, 2008 - 47 days left

"Some reports are issued and just gather dust. And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it, and our guest read it."
--Washington, D.C., December 2006

Friday, December 5, 2008 - 46 days left

"I think it's important to bring somebody from outside the system, the judicial system, somebody that hasn't been on the bench and, therefore, there's not a lot of opinions for people to look at."
--Discussing his nomination of Harriet Miers, Washington, D.C., 2005

Saturday and Sunday, December 6, 2008 and December 7, 2008
45 days left and 44 days left

"Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die."
--Washington, D.C., December 7, 2006

Ah, and the Thanksgiving season continues knowing we are now under 50 days remaining in his reign.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"Only THe Good" Friday - Week #4

A couple of weeks ago, another blogger buddy of mine -Shelly at This Eclectic Life -launched this blog idea that on Fridays, those who wish to participate in this "Only The Good Friday" are to do a post that lists only the good things that we've experienced -be it today, earlier this week or month or perhaps even something good from way back in our lives -or that is happening or happened in the world around us. Shelly's post today is labeled as being her seventh but I don't remember having done that many of these and frankly, today I am just plain too lazy to go look and see how many times now I've participated in this either, but I think, for me, this is my Fourth!

Today, being the day after Thanksgiving, it's easy to list one thing I see as fitting for this post -Thanksgiving dinner -the big turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and a slice of any of the four types of pies I made for the occasion yesterday -apple, blueberry, mincement and of course, pumpkin! How great it is that we, as a nation, take the time to sit down to whatever we regard as being the makings of a feast and offer thanks for being able to do that -with family or friends -or even casual acquaintances. To be able and willing to share our own sustenance with others is an excellent way to show our gratitude for living in such a land of plenty.

Sadly, there are so many in this nation known for the bounties of work, food, freedoms of many varieties too who don't have the means to provide even the simplest of meals for themselves or their families. With the spread my family and I had here, we certainly could have fed several others at our table and still had plenty of leftovers to make a meal for another day as well. And trust me when I tell you this, my family and I are far from being "rich" in the monetary sense, but we were rich yesterday in that we were able to share our meal, our thanks for being able to purchase and prepare this feast too, with my son-in-law's sister, her son and her baby girl. Although the need for churches and other organizations to prepare huge meals and open their doors on Thanksgiving Day to those less fortunate is wonderful there are still so many others who could use at least a really great meal, in the company of family or new friends. I'm thankful this is being done and also that across the country, many other churches, civic organizations, even some restaurants as well, offer an opportunity for a meal either for free or at extremely low cost to those in need. One such event takes place in State College every Thanksgiving Day when the "Olde College Diner" -a favorite restaurant for Penn State students and many others in that region, offers a Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with all the trimmings for a mere fifty cents per person and has been doing that tradition for many, many years now too.

That I was able to bake these pies, also some walnut sticky buns, along with cooking supper Wednesday evening for the two middle step-grandchildren who were here that evening and got the stuffing for the turkey done up for yesterday, I'm really happy to have been able to do that! Even though it meant being on my feet and in the kitchen for close to 10 hours -almost solid -Wednesday and that it took me a good while yesterday to get my joints kind of lubricated and able to move fairly freely again too from all that work, it was all so worth every ounce of effort when we finally sat down to eat!

Although I don't participate in the Black Friday Shopping day today -just not my cup of tea, at all -Mandy left about 7:30 this morning with our next-door neighbor and one of my older daughter's best friends to go meet up with another of Carrie's good friends too and then, the three of them met up with Carrie at the mall over in State College to comb the malls there for what they consider to be great bargains for those on their Christmas gift lists. They'll polish their shopping off with a nice dinner together over there and then, head back home, exhausted -no doubt -and probably stone-cold broke too in some instances but the camaraderie they enjoy I think is what makes this something that all four of them now look forward to doing, year after year!

Kurtis is doing so much better now and that really makes my heart sing! The work the therapists have been doing with him for over a year now finally seems to be kicking in for him as he is trying to speak much more now. Not that he has that many words as yet in his vocabulary, but my friends, these are all baby steps for him, just as they were for Maya about two to three years ago now too. He's learning little things that enable us to better communicate with him almost daily, or so it seems.

This morning, he woke me up about 6 a.m. -not fussing, but by something else he has discovered and that is that he can often reach the living room overhead light switch on the wall here -provided his pac'n'play is positioned close enough. And his flipping the switch to turn the overhead light on, then off, and back and forth, is what woke me today. Since he was being quiet about performing this little trick, I decided not to acknowledge him, in the hopes he would soon tire of this, lay back down and go back to sleep. However, after a few minutes of the lights going off, coming right back on, I finally spoke to him -without moving from the sofa though where I had been sleeping -and told him "No, no!" There was a pause then the lights went off and on again and I repeated my command to him. Still the pull to flip that switch was too strong and again, off they went, back on again. Finally, I said this to him in a much sterner voice and I could hear him moving in the pac'n'play and then, heard and also felt, the thud as something hit the arm of the sofa near my head. I figure he'd just determined where the sound of my voice was coming from and this was his way to acknowledge my presence. But when the lights went off and on, yet again, I told him -again -"No no, Kurtis. Time for you to lay down and go back to sleep!"

This time, he let out a little somewhat stifled sound -like a cross between a moan and a cry -as I heard him moving around and could tell he'd just flopped himself down in the playpen and then he said, very softly, "Okay." He sounded kind of resigned as he said that, like he meant it as "Well, okay -if you say so." And all in all, it made me really happy that he was understanding my words a little better today.

My son got home early from h is run this week -around 9:30 last night, he said. He came down about 8:15 this morning, waking me up (after I'd fallen back asleep from the light switch stuff with Kurtis) and surprised me that he was home already. That's always something that makes me feel much better when he does his truck run and makes it back home, safe and sound.

I've still been busy working on the current tablecloth project and hope that maybe over the weekend by Monday or Tuesday of next week, at the latest, I will have this table topper completed. Its a 32x32 inch square piece with a floral spray in each corner -very pretty colors of the flowers in pink shades, some white flowers and some pale blue. I have completed two corners so far and have all the greenery on the third corner done along with maybe a third of the greenery on the fourth and last corner, so I'm pleased that I'm making this much progress with the project so quickly. At this rate, I might even be able to do another table topper and who knows, maybe even another larger tablecloth too between now and Christmas -or perhaps some more pillow cases. Who knows! I'm just moving along, doing as much of this as I can and happy that it's coming together for me in such a good way too!

This past week with the church service on Sunday at which the Children's Choir sang -and Maya was up front with them, singing her little heart out, really was a very high point for me. That my son -good old Uncle Clayton -even saw fit to join with us in attending church this past Sunday so he too could see his beautiful little niece showing off her stuff, was indeed a great reason for me to be happy and yes, to celebrate!

This year, rather than making my kids puzzle over what to get me for Christmas, I sat down and made out a list of things they could choose from! The options were either a gift certificate -in any amount that would be affordable for each of them to either Herrschnerrs Craft store or to Barnes and Noble -or, if they wanted to shop for a specific item, I listed out various books I would love to receive. A large assortment there for them to pick from too, it was too! I don't need more clothes even though, like most any other person I always do like new stuff, but instead of them laboring over what they think I would like, the colors and especially the difficulty involved in finding something in my size (and style) that I can really use, well I just figured if I gave them this list it would be a lot easier for them for me and make all of us a lot happier in the long run that way too!

Now, one of the good things from having had a big Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday, is that my refrigerator is loaded to the gills with cooked turkey and it's time that I go fix some of it in a meal for the kids, the son-in-law, maybe my son too and myself now for supper.

How many ways can you fix a meal with leftover turkey and dressing? I think I'm about to find out at least my answer to that question over the next few days.

And I'm going to enjoy every bite of that food, making more stitches in my project, watching and hearing both Kurtis and Maya grown and learn more and more every day now too!

So many things -all good -that come my way -our way -daily that aren't given all that much thought to the happening at the time and way too many to even sit here and mention.

So much bounty, so little time to take note of it all, but these listed above are just a few that I found to be such good things -for me anyway -and all, just this week too!

Picture This!

My friend and fellow blogger - Doctor Sardonicus - over at Pole Hill Sanitarium posted this and tagged me to participate in this meme. Here are the rules for this:

Today's subject matter comes in the form of a tag from our good friend Amy, aka 24 Crayons. The rules are that you find the fourth picture in your "My Pictures" folder and post it, no matter what it is. Then you write four things about the picture, and tag four more people.

I'm a little bit late in doing this as he tagged me to do this I think two, maybe three days ago, but man, I've been busy as well as forgetful about doing it too, but "better late than never" has always been my motto. So here I am today, following the directions -or at least as I perceive them!

Now, since I actually have two folders with photos, I wasn't sure which one to pick from, so I decided to make up my own version of these instructions and picked the fourth photo from the first group -my Kodak Pictures Folder -and then, from my "My Pictures" folder as well.

This is a picture I didn't take -for openers -as Mandy took it and it is of Katie, the almost 17-year-old stepgranddaughter (who no longer lives with us), Maya and Kate's girlfriend, Erin. This picture was taken in the bathroom at the high school as Mandy had taken the girls up there to wait for the bus to arrive that would take them and the rest of the members of the school marching bad to Florida for a much anticipated trip to Disney World. Our band has been fortunate on several occasions in that they have received invitations to perform in the parade there -I think it is over the 4th of July, if I am not mistaken.

Kate and Erin are not musicians in the band but get included as part of the band because they are both majorettes. I'm really pleased that the kids -all the band kids, that is -through their hard work and great direction from our band director -had this fantastic opportunity to travel to Florida and got to go to Disney World and Epcot Center. Truly a fantastic learning experience for them and a great honor for the band, as well as our school!

Now, from my "My Pictures" folder, the fourth picture in the first folder there would be this one:

This picture holds so much special meaning for me -as well as for Mandy -because it is of Maya at Christmas two years ago. This was the first Christmas that Maya actually paid any attention to her gifts and things like that and it was also the first Christmas that she was talking.

Because her attention span was fairly slim then though, we had her seated in her high chair and gave her each package to open while sitting there. This particular gift was one she got from her half-sister, Sierra, who lives with her maternal grandmother along with her brother and Maya's half-brother, Shane.

The package contained a set of "princess" dolls -Barbie-type dolls, each dressed in the trademark gown of various storybook princesses. As Maya opened the box and withdrew each doll, she immediately named which princess each doll represented -Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Ariel and now, I can't remember who the fifth doll was supposed to be, but whoever it was, Maya recognized it!

Needless to say, we were all astonished that she recognized each character and named each one correctly! That gift was one of the best presents -ever -that Maya has received as she played with those dolls, over and over and over! Still has a couple of them to this day too!

And, because hearing her identify each doll, correctly, meant so much to all of us too, it was this picture that we used last year as our Team Photo for our participation in the Cure Autism Now Walk for 2007 in State College, PA!

Today, as I write this post, Maya is seated on the living room floor, with her Barbie carrying case (which I might add is filled to the brim to overflowing with variouis Barbie dolls and oodles of clothing items) and playing quietly with her Barbie dolls!

Personally, I never cared for Barbie dolls for my kids. Never had them for myself when I was growing up because I was too old for dolls by the time they were introduced so I never was addicted to them. But I never liked them when my girls wanted them as I felt it was another way that society and manufacturers were pushing more grown-up things on little children by getting them all wrapped up in appearances, clothing, styles and such at very young ages. I always liked regular "baby" dolls much better for my kids and would have preferred that too for Maya until I saw how much she not only enjoyed them but how much she was learning from playing with them too. She has now, just recently, become interested in the old-fashioned "Baby" dolls -kind of has the toy thing a bit reversed there you might say -but whatever works as far as she is concerned is now what works too for me!

But if anyone would like to come and try to help me remind her that "good girls pick up ALL their toys" when finished playing with them or when Gram tells her to do so, feel free to stop by and give me a hand later.

I'll supply the coffee along with your choice too from my array of pies made for dinner yesterday - Apple, Blueberry, Mincement or good old Pumpkin! Leave no good deed unturned you know is my motto and anyone who can find an easy way for Maya to learn and remember about the "clean-up" process, I'd probably even fix you a five or six-course meal too!

Happy Picture Posting now to anyone who would like to participate in this little meme! I'm not normally one who likes and does memes but every now and again, one might happen my way that I feel comfortable about doing and this was one of that kind!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's the Little Things

It definitely is the little things in life that help get us through every thing else. Don't you agree?

Life in this house gives me a deeper appreciation at times for the "little" things. By that, I am referring mainly to Maya and Kurtis and their words, their antics. Even when some of Maya's antics don't produce exactly desireable results -like her hair cutting, self-administered about a week ago. Thankfully, Mandy's trim of her chopping along with a trip to the hairdresser to even things out a bit more did end up with a really cute hair style for her. Although at the time, I know Mandy wasn't so sure things would end up that great for all concerned.

This past Sunday -after church, back home again -Maya started whining, wanting a drink (nothing specified at the time though) so her Dad offered her a drink of water. No, no, that wasn't what she had in mind but he said that was all that was available then as the milk was low till Mandy got home from the store with another jug. That wasn't acceptable to Maya as an excuse so she still refused the water but she did start telling her Dad what she wanted instead.

Hot Chocolate! Apparently Bill wasn't in the mood to make some of that so he offered the water again. Maya kept on that she wanted hot chocolate made with ovaltine and furthermore, she wanted it to be "Burny hot too, Daddy!"

A request like that was one that Bill decided -since she was so emphatic about it -that he couldn't refuse so he heated up the water in the tea kettle and made her the requested hot chocolate!

Monday night, Maya moved back upstairs, to her own room to sleep there -again. So I'm now back to sleeping alone. Boy, it does really get chilly -make that downright cold -out in my room when you're the only one in the bed generating any heat and someone who was sleeping with you kicked off heat like a mini-furnace!

But when she went up to bed Monday night, apparently she wasn't quite ready to settle down then and there though and so, she started the standard line almost all kinds give forth when they are trying to stall the sleep process.

"I wanna drink of water!"

Mandy asked her why she felt she needed a drink of water and Maya's response to that was,
"I need it cause my eyelashes are dry."

Now, who would ever have thought of that line for a reason to need a drink of water? See, you learn something new everyday, or so they say, and when you're dealing with a five-year-old whose mind operates like Maya's does, you really do get an earful of new learning from time to time.

I'm probably going to be too busy over the next day with the cooking and baking for our dinner tomorrow to blog -or read much either for that matter. Got a big turkey to make stuffing for, roast it, cook white potatoes to mash, yams to bake too, plus make some pies, bake some bread as well. In addition to prepping some of that stuff today, I also have to cook a little larger supper tonight because the two middle stepgrand kids will be here for supper tonight, for their weekly "meal visit" with their Dad. Tomorrow, I'm the son-in-law's father, sister and the sister's two children will be here for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Guess that's gonna fix my getting to watch much of the parade and doubtful I'll get to see any football tomorrow either.

But my cooking and baking preparations won't be done tomorrow as on Sunday, I'll have to cook Thanksgiving Dinner all over again! The reason being my son is on the road, driving tractor trailer and won't be home till late Saturday sometime and Sunday is just a better day for all of us to get together then as the older daughter, her fiance and hopefully, her son -grandson Alex -aka "Gram's Prince" can make it here then too.

Oh well, what the heck! Two turkeys to cook in less than a four day time span -think of all the leftovers we can enjoy then! That's the big problem with this scenario for me as I AM thinking of all those leftovers and trying to think of tasty ways to use all the leftovers that will fill the refrigerator to overflowing, ya know!

Here's a couple pictures though of those two little things in my life that I love to write about. Just so you can see how sweet they look, how comical they can be at times too!

Here's Maya -all dressed to go to school. The coat she has one is one I absolutely love. Mandy found it about two years ago at either the local Good Will store or the Kid-to-Kid Consignment shop in State College -not sure which -but she fell in love with it then and even though it was at least two sizes too large for Maya then, she had to buy it! It was marked for a mere $3.00 and the maker -Hannah Anderson -the Swedish clothing manufacturer! Anyone who has ever seen any clothes by Hannah Anderson knows to find a winter weight coat by that designer, at that price, has done found one heck of a steal!
Here's Maya doing one of the activities she enjoys -a lot -reading some of the kazillion books she has on the shelf here. Those glasses though -just an added feature for her, not something she has to have to see.

If the glasses were real and needed, hopefully she would think to put them on right side up, not upside-down.

And here's Kurt -also reading some of the kids books! Boy, I sure do hope that as they get older, they still enjoy reading as much then as they do now!

Kurtis is not one to be outdone by his big sister either -likes to check out those glasses for himself too! Kind of looks a little Elton Johnish there don't 'cha think?
Kurtis also likes to take a book to bed with him too. That way, if he wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes now he still has something to read to put himself back to sleep I guess.

And finally for today -here's Maya, with that sweet face, lovely smile and that often really devilish look in her eyes too -posing as she wishes all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

May peace and blessings abound to you and yours as we all give thanks for all the bounty in our lives today -and always.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Ups and Downs

Today has been a bit of a strange, off-beat day for me.

Church this morning was excellent. Maya was in the Children's Choir and the kids sang my favorite hymn - "Children of the Heavenly Father" -the words to which I had been working with Maya for the past 2-3 weeks to help her learn the first verse in English as well as in Swedish.

The kids in the choir ranged in age from Maya being the youngest at 5 years to some of the older kids -a couple in their early teens. My neighbor's daughter, Kylie -who is 14 now (Wow, where did THOSE years go as it seems like just yesterday she was a baby!) came by our pew and got Maya, walking up to the piano and positioning Maya directly in front of her. Then, while the kids sang, Kylie held Maya's hand firmly -a good move - and that helped to keep Maya on task and focusing on the song.

I was so proud of Maya as she stood there, singing -and yes, she remembered the words in both languages -or at least the majority of them anyway. She looked so doggone cute too in a really pretty little dress of a white fleecy type fabric dress, long sleeves with a round neck and a pink heart appliqued in the middle of the front and trimmed with pink fleecy fabric on the sleeves and hem. Looked like a little angel she did, for sure!

My neighbors and good friends, Shirley and Bo, Kate, Jim and their younger daughter Susan, were all seated in the pew directly behind us. Mandy had arrived at church before me as Maya had to be there 15 minutes before the service for a last minute practice session so they were already seated when I arrived -along with my son!

Yes, Mandy and I guilted him into going to church with us today. He's had an attitude about church more so than religion itself for several years now -one that doesn't sit too good with me, but I know if I try to argue and push him, he will just dig in his feet that much firmer and resist going to church with us. But about 3 weeks ago, when it looked like he would be working at a new company, having different hours with guaranteed weekends off, I had told him if he was going to be home on weekends now, he could mark his calendar for today to go to church. He gave me -and his sister too -a bit of a black look and asked just why that was that I felt he should have to go to church today and I told him "because your niece, Maya, is going to make her debut with the Children's Choir, that's why!"

Immediately, his look, his demeanor changed and he answered me softly, saying "Yes, I can do that." Yeah, I knew he could and also that he would try his level best to be there today too because you see, he absolutely adores that little girl -as well as his two nephews too.

So, when we walked in today and as I started into the pew to join Mandy and the children, I leaned down and whispered to neighbor Shirley as I passed her -"Don't faint now." And with that I gave a quick backward glance towards my son. Shirley looked up, saw him and laughed as she knew what I meant there. After church, Jim -our other neighbor told Clate that when he looked up and saw him come in and sitting down, his first reaction was to look up and check the ceiling to make sure it wasn't falling in or anything. Thankfully, Clate does have a good sense of humor and knows these folks well enough to know when they are just poking a little fun his way and didn't take offense to any of this friendly teasing.

The nice thing -along with Maya and the children's singing to day -was that a goodly number of fellow parishioners spoke directly to Clate, telling him how nice it was to see him in church today. I'm sure at least the warmth from those folks greeting him like that made him feel good about the whole occasion.

This morning though -at church and after -I felt fine. Not tired, no other problems until mid-afternoon when I got so darned cold -just felt like I was chilled clear through to the bone. And I couldn't get warm no matter what I tried. Then I got really tired, couldn't keep my eyes open, and my back started to ache. I had put a roast in the oven and had set the timer but told Mandy that after the timer went off, it would still have to cook an additional amount of time -probably close to another hour so for her to fix some scalloped or au gratin potatoes to go with the meat then once the timer went off and then to wake me up too. I figured if maybe I napped for an hour or a little better, it would help me get warm, give me an extra jolt of energy perhaps and rest the back a bit. But when I got up, she had supper completed and I found myself still freezing while eating supper.

I tried to do some blog reading but found I couldn't sit comfortably at all as my back was just throbbing with this dull ache, added to the cold feelings and still being really tired and sleepy so to the couch I headed, covered up with a heavy blanket and fell asleep for another hour or two.

I was awakened though around 8 p.m. by Mandy handing my the telephone, saying the call was for me. Geez! I hadn't even heard the phone ring, that's how soundly asleep I was then.

The caller was an old, very dear friend of mine who I've known for close to 30 years now -a retired truck driver I met back when I first started waitressing at the big truckstop down in Snow Shoe -Max's! He and I have kept in contact over the years -even when he took a transfer with CF from the Poconos to their terminal down by Jackson, Mississippi for the last years that CF was in business.

Gerry and I have always loved to pick on each other, playing practical jokes whenever, wherever we could but he's always been like a big brother to me too. Just a very good, close friend -someone who knows me, my kids too -and always a lot of laughs involved when we get together to talk -whether it be in person or on the telephone.

He was calling to tell me that he had been to the CF trucker's reunion lunch today over in the Poconos and had to let me know which drivers were there, who's still around, in good health, not doing too hot, as well as who has passed away in the past year or two as well.

His main issue tonight though was he wanted to know if it was okay if he gave my phone number to one of the old drivers I had always been good friends with, back in the day. Heck yeah, Gerry -give him both numbers here at the house, was my response to that! I'd love to hear from Walter, AKA Jumper (CB handle) again! What a hoot he was along with his running buddies, Stanley (Happy Man) and Bobby O, aka Zero!

Gerry told me that Walter had written his phone number down for Gerry -on the name tag Gerry had on at the reunion and as things were breaking up -only about 5- 6 drivers still left hanging around, Gerry said he realized there was this phone number there on his name tag but he couldn't for the life of him remember who had written it there.

So, one of the guys he was talking to told him "Here, take my cell phone and call the number and see who answers." Which is what Gerry did and that's how he found out that Walter was the one who had written his phone number there so he wouldn't lose it, wouldn't forget about it that way either!

I can just imagine the thick Brooklyn accent of Jumper's as he told Gerry "That's my number you stupid &8#*())&^#!"

It was so much fun tonight though talking to Gerry, hearing him tell me about all the different drivers he'd seen today and for both of us, remembering some of the crazy, zany things that went on back then when I was waitressing as it was usually a contest, daily, to see who could outprank each other.

One of the guys that Gerry used to run with -Phil, a really nice, generally mild-mannered guy but with a great sense of humor -sadly lost his life a few years back now. He'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, had treatments, surgery and was considered to be "cured" but then, something went awry with the electrolytes in his system and the doctors were never able to get that regulated so that is what ultimately caused his death.

In telling me about that, Gerry told me what happened to Phil the last week he lived. He and his wife had gone to Florida where they spent their winters after they had both retired and in the hospital there, on "the machine" a team of eight doctors had told Phil's wife there was nothing more that could be done for her husband and it was their recommendation (7 out of 8 agreeing with this) that they "pull the plug." Then, these same doctors went into Phil's room and told him, to his face, that was what they recommended. Phil was very weak, very sick -yes, but still able to comprehend what was being said to him. His response was to very slowly garner enough strength to lift his arm and then, to politely give these doctors the finger! How choice! And so typical of Phil to have done something like that as his final gesture too!

As we talked tonight, recalling so many of the funny things that took place at that restaurant during the seven years I worked there, I've been thinking since our conversation about how thankful I am that I had that time there, met those drivers and forged some great friendships too in the process.

There were many days when I hated the thought of going to work there, knowing it was going to be a busy shift for one reason or another. I loathed having to work there on the Monday after Thanksgiving which is the first day of deer season here in Pennsylvania. Deer season in central Pennsylvania is like a celebration of another holiday, one that in some hunter's books ranks above Christmas, New Year's, The Fourth of July all rolled together too, ya know! I hated working there on midnight shift too on Saturday nights when the drunks would roll in and would have loved to have rolled almost every one of them up and right back out to whatever bar they'd just evacuated! Hated, waiting on drunks, just hated it! Something that caused a lot of teasing from the truckers who knew me too because, as they liked to point out, I was known to toss a few back from time to time and wasn't I being totally unreasonable then in my dislike of drunks? Not really, I used to tell them because "Drunks do not impress me and sometimes, when I drink, I don't always impress myself very much then either!" Makes me really glad that these days -well for several years now as a matter of fact -I don't feel any pressing desire to go sit and drink anymore. I do still like a beer every now and again, but not anything in excess and I'm perfectly happy to sit at home, crack one open and enjoy it while watching tv or relaxing. That, right there, is really something to be thankful for that with age I guess I finally came to me senses, didn't I?

Before I end this little (?) piece tonight now though, I do have to apologize for something here. I had said the other day that I was going to take my camera to church with me today and click it over to the video setting so as to do a little video of Maya and the Children's choir singing today. Well, as you can see there is no video here. No still photos either, unfortunately. Why? Well, because this morning my senility factors took control and I forgot completely about my plans to take my camera with me to church today!

I'll be kicking my own behind for a good while over that gaffe, you can bet your bottom dollar on that one!

And, after talking to Gerry tonight, I'm thinking I'll have to stop sometime and put the crazy things I still remember that we did back in the days I slaved at that truckstop -the things that kept me from going totally bonkers and depressed about the sucko things of that job and gave me -and many others too -lots and lots of grins, giggles and often, out-and-out good old belly laughs.

Yep, the job may have been the pits, but the people I met there, friends made and such -it wa a great run while it lasted.

Ten-four, good buddies!

Thanks -for the Memories

Just thinking here -as I was getting ready to post the Bushisms for this week -this is the last Thanksgiving with the DUBYA at the helm. Now, isn't that alone, something for which we can all be quite thankful?But then again, without these lovely quips, the misspoken words and ludicrous interpretations of his, what's gonna be around after January 20th to laugh at?

Actually, I'm quite sure there will still be many faux pas -from politicians on both sides of the aisle too -that will continue to provide some amusing moments for all of us.

But in the meantime, here's this week's wandering words of the illustrious DUBYA!

Monday, November 24, 2008 - 57 days left

"Thet president and I also reaffirmed our determination to fight terror, to bring drug trafficking to bear, to bring justice to those who pollute our youth."
--Speaking with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, Santiago, Chile, November 2004

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 56 days left

"I believe that, as quickly as possible, young cows ought to be allowed to go across our border[...]There's a bureaucracy involved and I readily concede we've got one. I don't know if you've got bureaucracy here in Canada or not, but we've got one in America, and there are a series of rules that have to be met in order for us to be able to allow the trafficking of cows back and forth."
--Discussing the Mad Cow Disease scare --Ottawa, Canada, November 2004

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 55 days left

"This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all.

-Amman, Jordan, November 2006

Thursday, November 27, 2008 - 54 days left

"The law I sign today directs new funds and new focus to the task of collecting vital intelligence on terrorist threats and on weapons of mass production."
--Washington, D.C., November 27, 2002

Friday, November 28, 2008 - 53 days left

"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law."
--Tucson, Arizona, November 28, 2006

Saturday and Sunday, November 29/30, 2008 - 52 days left and 51 days left

"As far as the legal hassling and wrangling and posturing in Florida, I would suggest you talk to our team in Florida led by Jim Baker."
--Crawford, Texas, November 30, 2000

Friday, November 21, 2008

When Snow Is Good

Anyone reading my posts for any length of time has probably come to the conclusion that I absolutely loathe, abhor and despise winter -and especially the snow that comes with it.

Well, that's not exactly true. By January and February -yes, it most likely has by then become something I'm very tired of seeing. But today, as we received our first really good dose of winter's finest, I'm not in that kind of miserable mood. Not just yet anyway.

And today, also being a Friday, and Friday means that a post showing "Only the Good" is due from me, I looked at the snow from a slightly different angle.

It really is pretty!

Here's Maya, down in our backyard, checking everything out and enjoying being able to go out and play in the white, icy stuff. Although school for her -nor for anyone else around the county -was cancelled, or even delayed today, Mandy didn't send Maya to school today as she just thought the way the roads down our way were this morning, there was no sense in putting "Mr. Fred" (Maya's van driver) at risk of sliding into a ditch. So, Maya had the entire day at home, most of it in the house too as she had to wait till Mommy got home from work around 3 p.m. to be able to go outside and play.

Here's Maya, out front, having some good old-fashioned fun in the snow. Note the accumulation on Mandy's car. At 10:30 this morning, Mandy had cleaned off both my jeep and her car and by noon the car was completely covered again with this much on it by around 3:15 p.m. (And, she had cleared at least this much snow from the car this morning!)
Today was the first time in Kurt's young life that he's ever been outside in the snow, all dressed and no where to go, sort of. He wasn't sure about this stuff on the ground and had no clue as to what one is supposed to do with it either. Mandy said when she brought the kids back inside that she had finally found something that stops Kurtis dead in his tracks. Take him outside in the snow and he just stops, stays completely still! Hmmm. Sounds a bit promising -but cold -doesn't it?
Even Chino -our sweet little kitten -decided she wanted to go outside and check things out too. However, once out there, she must have decided it was better to sit on the front stoop.
Kurt seems to be adjusting a little more to the white stuff. Maybe, kind of like Gram, in that snow at this stage of my life sort of grows on me for my appreciating its presence.
I guess it's ok to try to move around a little bit in this stuff. Seems like that may have been Kurt's thoughts on the stuff here.
Meanwhile, Maya was having a great time, walking in the snow, kicking at it with her boots and watching how it curled around -like maybe it would dawn on her that you can roll this stuff into big balls and build a snowman. That's probably a little ways down the line as yet for her though. She's not quite the novice with snow that Kurtis is, but she still isn't all that knowledgeable, as yet, as she just had the thrill of sledriding last winter for the first time. She has yet to learn the joys of making angels in the snow, building forts, making snowballs that are packed really solid and heaving them at anything that comes within your range. Wonder if when she and Kurtis get older that they might enjoy learning to ski?
Guess sitting on the swing right now is a bit out of the question, isn't it?

Kurt looks like he's checking around, trying to find the shut-off valve on wherever this snowfall is coming from, doesn't he? Sometimes, I think I probably look like that too when we're in the midst of receiving a whopper of a snow storm. This one was just nice, just enough!
I sure do hope the residue around Maya's mouth was there BEFORE she went outside and not something she found under the snow and smeared around on her face! I've never heard of any chocolate snow, have you?
Looks to me like Kurtis is wondering what Maya has on her face too. Either that or maybe she just tossed some snow in his direction?

My son called home today too -around noonish -asking what's new and exciting here compared to where he was then -someplace in southwestern Virginia. I told him about the snowfall and such, then asked him when he figures he will be home. The answer was sometime tomorrow night.

On hearing that response, I said "OH, good! If you get home tomorrow night then you will be here and able to go to church with us Sunday morning, just like you promised Maya you would do!" I think, no, I know, he had forgotten all about that promise he made or maybe he was just hoping that I would have forgotten about it at any rate. He should know better than to think I would do that when it comes to a promise from him to go to church with us! The mind then becomes like a steel vise and I latch onto those words with the strongest type mental glue possible!

Why this Sunday, why the big deal of making him promise to go with us? Because you see, the Children's Choir is scheduled to sing the anthem this week and yes, Maya is now a part of the Children's Choir at church! She's been learning this one hymn that the kids will sing and it just so happens it is one of my favorite hymns too! "Children of the Heavenly Father." Yes, I dearly love that song and the kids are supposed to sing all four verses of it and then, repeat the first verse but in Swedish!

Maya hasn't learned all four English verses but she does know the first verse now in English and she has picked up a good bit of the first verse in Swedish too now. I hope things go smoothly for her with her first public performance in church. Not that she's singing a solo or anything that big, but for little kids, even getting up and singing in a group can be a bit scary the first time they do that so we'll be watching, hoping and praying that all goes the way the choir director wants things to go! (Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to get a little video of the kids doing their number on Sunday.)

All these things -the snow, the way the kids responded and reacted to it, the fact that Mandy made it to work and back with no problems on the snow-covered roads, and especially that my son was reminded about his promise for Sunday -all are, in my book, "Only the Good" things for today, this Friday as we got hit with our first major accumulation of snow for the season.

Just seeing the joy on the kids faces taking in the fresh air, the snow still falling, the fun of exploring it a bit and for me, the knowledge too of many things to come that they will find happen and they will love -just as much as I did when I was a young'un!

Sure is pretty to see though, isn't it?

And there you have it -what I like about snow and what makes it really a pretty darned good thing after all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Girl's Group

Today was the day for the monthly lunch get-together that some of the "girls" I graduated high school with met and enjoyed a nice leisurely visit. Normally, we meet at a little local restaurant (Key Largo) on the last Thursday of the month but since that date would be Thanksgiving Day this month, we sort of figured we'd best change the meeting time. Same thing applies to our meeting next month too.

There were four of us today -Kate, Rose, Linda and myself. Kate is my neighbor, two doors down and across the street from me but she is also the first friend I made as a pre-schooler. Actually, we probably go back to about age two or three but any way you cut it, we've been best of friends for over 60 years now. Rose grew up in the house next door to me (Kate's family home was the house next to Rose's) and we've been friends for almost 60 years -only about 58 years since her family didn't move in there until 1951. And Linda -well, Linda lived in a village about 4 miles from Kate, Rose and I and we all met in 7th grade when the kids from our village got bussed to the school in the village where Linda lived. Anyway, that would have been the fall of 1956, so we've been friends, the four of us, for over 50 years. There is another friend -from yet another little village and who we met in 7th grade -who often joins us but she lives over on the other side of the mountain now -as in State College, which is about 37 miles from here so she doesn't always make it here every month for out lunch meetings.

We had a little extra surprise today though. After we finished eating, were just sitting and talking about a little bit of everything, Rose happened to look up when someone entered into the restaurant and remarked that it was one of the guys we had gone to school with -Art. Turning to look, and seeing that he was seating himself with a couple in the middle of the restaurant, I realized that was another girl from our class -Bridget - and her husband, Ron! No one in our group had noticed when Bridget and Ron came in but when it became known then that the four of us were sitting back in the corner, Bridget and Art -who is her brother-in-law -came back and chatted with us a good bit then.

One of the things we discussed was about our meeting for next month and initially we talked about going to a little restaurant in Philipsburg -about 12 miles from here -for our meeting but then Rose extended an invitation that we come to her house next month for "lunch, brunch, coffee, cookies and maybe even a little Christmas cheer" -as she put it. So that's what we decided we will do then.

But there was something else we discussed today -a topic that really doesn't sit all that well with me. Rose's youngest brother - Michael -who has lived and worked down in Virginia for a goodly number of years now, was diagnosed a few months back with cancer. Pnacreatic cancer, to be more precise. Actually, for some reason I'm thinking I was originally told the disease involved pancreatic as well as lung -or maybe it was liver -cancer too. Anyway, not a good scene at all.

Michael is the baby of Rose's family - 10 years younger than us. For me, growing up, he was kind of the baby brother I never had. A good kid, a great guy as an adult. And funny -very, very funny! Mike -or as my kids call him, "Uncle Mike" has a really wacky sense of humor. He loves to keep in touch with all his sisters and their other brother and considering there were 13 children in that family, that's a lot of people to keep in touch with, ya know. One time, he called each and every one of us siblings -collect -just to see if all of them would accept the collect phone call. Crazy, zany little things like that -all part of what makes "Uncle Mike" such a hoot to be around.

The last couple of times we "girls" got together, Mike was always asked about. What treatments he was receiving, etc., how well his system was responding too -that kind of thing.

Today, I asked Rose what the latest is on Uncle Mike and she said the chemo he had been getting was really laying him very low so they decided to stop that for about three months. He's very tired, she said -and having been down that road myself with chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo -I can relate there. Then she said that Mike was a bit down in the dumps now too because at his last doctor visit, he had asked the doctor when he could return to work and she told him, "Never." She had also explained to him that unfortunately, his situation is "terminal." All they are doing now is trying to keep him going, with the best quality of life they can provide -along with some more quantity of life too.

Now, when I first heard "Uncle Mike" was sick, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my first thoughts were that pancreatic cancer is one that I had never heard anything about with respect to any type of "cure." But each time our group got together, Rose told us the latest reports and for the most part, they were all very positive. Gee, maybe I had misread something somewhere along the line and you can imagine, I was sure hoping - and praying too -that this would be the case. But with what she told us today, it doesn't look like my original thoughts were off-base at all.

Not that I don't hope -and pray -for others who are sick regardless of the illness, or how well I may or may not know that person -and in that respect, it's always very unsettling, very worrisome and yes, saddens me -a lot. But Uncle Mike -hey, he's still -always gonna be -my baby brother, ya know!

So many things I remember about him -about being over at their family home for so much of my growing-up years. He was such a cutie and my Mom too always thought the world and all of him from the time he first started walking and venturing outside the house to play in the yard on through till he was about 12 or 13 years old when Mom moved to Maryland to live with me there.

One thing I will never forget about Uncle Mike was how one year he went out trick-or-treating and when he returned home, his mother had him dump his bag of treats on the kitchen table and he had to tell her then who gave him what in his travels.

He pulled up a homemade popcorn ball, wrapped in cellophane or saran wrap and announced to his Mom that "Hazel gave me this." Now that doesn't sound like anything bad there does it. Except for the fact that on our street there were two women named Hazel. One was a lady of not the highest moral caliber, who also was notorious for liking her beer a lot more than she should. The other Hazel was my Mom.

Well, when he told his Mom that he got that popcorn ball from Hazel, she hauled off and smacked him upside the head, giving him "high Holy" and reminding him that she had told him never to go near that house!

He looked at her a bit confused and said, "But Mom, I meant Hazel next door." At that, his mother (who had originally told this story) said she felt all kinds of guilty for having smacked the kid and for even thinking that he would have gone trick or treating up at the other Hazel's house!

I have Uncle Mike's phone number here now and have been meaning to call him sometime -just to chat, remember silly things about growing up here, along this street. Maybe even convery to him a bit or a lot of the sentimentality things too that crop up in a situation like this. I don't want it to be a call that is down, sad, depressing as it would leave both of us feeling worse than things already may have us all feeling as it is now.

But someday soon, I'm going to have to bite the bullet and call him. I figure I have to remind him that not only does he have his entire family -9 sisters left, 1 brother, his own children and grandchildren, wife and niece and nephews out the yazoo who are all pulling for him but he has another older almost sister who is doing the same and who, like all his family, still loves the "little brother" very, very much.

If you will, put "Uncle Mike" on your prayer list, please. I'm sure he'd appreciate all the good thoughts possible being sent on his behalf.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Needed: Time and Energy

I've been telling you since mid-August about my renewed interest in embroidery and about the projects I've made so far. You're very probably getting tired of hearing about them but truth be told, I can't help myself as I am really, REALLY quite astonished at what I have accomplished in the past three months now!

You see, I am normally not fast when it comes to crafting -especially NOT when it comes to embroidery. I'm also very notorious to family and friends for starting some projects and then, within upwards of a week or two -once in a while the surge of interest will hold up for a month -I tend to disband all operations I had just undertaken.

I've got stuff in my "stash" -and anyone who sews, knits, crochets, embroiders, etc -knows exactly what I mean when I talk about having a "Stash" -that I've had in there, somethings for several years. I have at least three large plastic tote containers in the basement stuffed full of various yarns, plus two smaller totes and a couple of large, heavy-duty zippered plastic bags (the kind that a small quilt or maybe a blanket may have originally called home) also filled with yarns. I've got four-ounce skeins of four-ply yarns, enough to make probably two, maybe three full-sized afghans, or a couple baby afghans. I have a gazillion skeins of the fun-fur yarns -in numerous shades -that I bought when I was on a kick, making narrow, furry-type scarves from a pattern I got after my late aunt Mary had made and sent my daughters, Maya and me all handmade scarves from this type of yarn. Plus, I have a big bag of about 25-30 scarves that I made too when I was on the scarf-knitting kick. I haven't touched those yarns and my knitting needles in several months -probably well over a year now I would imagine.

I have about five, maybe six of the large plastic totes filled with fabric too -for whenever I decide to go on another sewing kick! There are at least two, maybe three boxes of sewing patterns too, all stowed under my bed, just waiting to be put into use as well.

And then along comes this sudden urge to embroider. Why, I have no clue but it just hit me back in early August and I haven't lost it yet. I've even added to my stash since then as well -considerably so. I now have at least three, possibly four larger tableclothes waiting, a couple new dresser scarf sets, two more pillow case sets along with several other types of embroidery work waiting for me to dig into and make up. Christmas is coming -faster than ever, or so it seems, and I need to have as much of this needlework stuff done so that come mid-December I'll be able to stop and get cracking on the binge I will no doubt pick up then -baking Christmas cookies!

What I need right now is a lot more time -time to finish as many of the things I want to make for gifts and such. And in addition to time, I really need lots and lots more energy too!

Last night, when I started working on the newest tablecloth project here, i worked on it all night -from about just before midnight until a little after 8 a.m. this morning. And if I'm going to keep up with stuff, maintain hours like that, I'm gonna need me some good energy stuff or at the very least, some Ephedrasil Hardcore.

I wonder if that stuff works anything like the lovely little things I used to take way back in my much younger, party-hearty days did? Maybe I should check it out.

Hugs and Kisses

Nothing much going on in these parts of the world. After the hubbub of the election, then Blogblast for Peace two days later, followed by Veteran's Day a week ago, things have pretty well settled down.

I've been reading blogs but not been commenting much lately. Just nothing much to say I guess -not that what I've read or seen (photos and such) have been boring. Far from it. But my mind has been functioning on a different level of late and the bulk of it has had to do with embroidery!

I finished the set I was working on -the snowflake pillowcases and matching dresser scarf plus two round doilies. Well, the embroider is completed but the dresser scarf and doiles, technically, are not finished as I still have to hem them and then, attach the lace edging to them too.

This past Sunday, I started another tablecloth -it's actually a table-topper, not a full tablecloth, measures 35 inches square I believe. This one is a red fabric, done with white snowflakes around the entire border area and in the middle of each side, is one embroidered -actually cross-stitched -reindeer! I finished this last night. I was really astonished that I was able to do it in just over 24 hours as I think it took me a little over two weeks to do a cloth of the same dimensions, but with the border of Christmas trees and snowflakes. And this one really looks sharp too! I like the red fabric behind the white floss design a lot -a whole lot!

Last night, I was going to start working on a red table-runner that I had purchased about 2-3 years ago -poinsettias done in white on the red background and the fabric of this was sort of a silky, nubby-textured -very pretty, very rich looking -and feeling too. However, when I opened the package and removed the runner, I was dismayed to see the stamping of the design (White stamping) had almost completely disappeared. Just extremely faded out. I tried to mark it in, as best I could but I was getting the markings a bit cockeyed, uneven and such, so I decided this is a project definitely for my "after Christmas, when I feel like slaving" pile!

So, I picked out another table-topper I have in my "to-do" stash - a floral design, very pretty, but a lot more work involved in this one than in the other table-toppers I've recently completed. In the past 24 hours, all I have finished is the dark green leaves and stems on ONE flower in ONE corner! A far cry from how much I had been able to complete on the tabletopper I finished in ONE day! I'll post pictures of the red tabletopper at a later date as well as document my progress on the one I'm currently slaving over!

Tonight, when my son-in-law came home from work, I had a few words for him. This has been brewing, bothering me for a long time and though I have made comments about this -trying to be subtle -apparently they were very ineffectual, not received at all on his radar and tonight, I had made up my mind I was going to mention this issue to him, directly!

I asked him, plain and simple, to please, when washing the dishes to NOT PUT ANY DISHES OR POTS AND PANS AWAY! Just leave them in the drainer, on the side counter and I will put them away!

Why? Because he consistently INSISTS (no, not verbally, but shows me by his refusal to put things away the way I have stuff organized in the cupboards) on shoving the pots and pans into the oven drawer and by stacking serving dishes as well as plastic storage containers NOT in the way they should be placed!

Now, I know this is not that big a deal to most people -obviously, it isn't of any importance to him, but it is something that totally irks me to no end!

I hate to open the oven drawer and find that pots and pans are just tossed in there, not placed in any semblance of order, by size, with no regard to handles that easily get caught on the drawer and making it difficult, if not impossible at times, to open the drawer! A while back, after he had put pots and pans away in there, just all willy-nilly, when I went to open the drawer, the handle to the base of my nice stainless steel double boiler was caught in the under part of the oven and ended up breaking the handle off that pot! That really ticked me off because it was a very nice pot and the ONLY double-boiler I had too! Last night, when I went to get some serving dishes from the corner cabinet, there was the big 5 quart Visons casserole dish sitting on top of the oblong pyrex baking dishes, all tottery, ready to slide off, possibly slip and fall out and on to the floor. I really like my large Visions casserole dish and would hate to see it come crashing down to the floor all because someone refused to put it back, in the corner of the cabinet, at the bottom and with a smaller casserole dish resting in a nesting fashion inside it!

Last week, I had told him to not bother putting dishes away, especially the pots and pans, when he does dishes and he had blithly replied "OK. No problem!' But evidently, it is a major problem for him to remember WHY I don't want him messing in my cupboards.

I am not exactly the epitome of neatness -I'll be the first to admit to that -but the kitchen is primarily my domain, and I do like to try to have my cabinets there organized as best as possible, in a fairly neat fashion too. However, some people around this house have never paid a lick of attention to my wishes in this respect and yes, as you can tell, it really does bug me!

It always takes me back to when my ex and I were still married, living in the house we built next door to this place and my Mom was still alive, living here, in this house. Now my Mom was a stickler for organization -especially of the cupboards -(maybe that's where I got this little idiosyncracy from) but she used to drive me bonkers when she would come over to my house and insist on doing the dishes or at least putting them away. (I've always been of the "wash and drip-dry" whereas she believed strongly in wash, dry, put away, then and there! And, I wouldn't have minded her putting dishes away there either but she would never pay any attention either to where I stored things and just put things away in cupboards where SHE THOUGHT they should go, not where I WANTED them to be! So you can see, this was a power struggle for me then and I guess in some ways, it's a bit of a power struggle now too. I don't mean for it to be that but just please, put things away so larger dishes are on the bottom, and then nest the smaller dishes, by size, in or on the larger dishes -not the reverse! I don't really think that's too much to ask, nor is it a difficult concept either. Well, at least not to my mind it isn't difficult. If it were something hard to do you can bet your bottom dollar I sure as hell wouldn't be doing it that way then!

Ok, 'nuff said about that little bit of irritation in my life!

There was something really neat that happened today that I wanted to tell about here.

Kurtis responded to me with a request for a kiss for Grammie! Yes, he did and I am still all excited abou that!

He's been responding, of a sort, for some time now, when you hold him if you ask him for a kiss, that he would sort of lean forward, putting his cheek close -kind of like he is extending it there for us to kiss him. But tonight, he DELIBERATELY came and offered his cheek in response to my asking him for a kiss! Oh, yes he DID! Of course, when I asked him for a hug, he immediately ran off in the opposite direction but heck, the kiss was worth a gold mine in my book!

And finally -but certainly not of lesser importance to me -I have to take the opportunity here to do a little bit of bragging -about my older grandson, Alex! Seems my "Prince Alex" made the honor roll at his school (Bellefonte)!!!! YAY! How awesome is that, I ask you? I am so happy, so excited and PROUD of him! Can you tell? I waited, not very patiently for all the years his mother, uncle and aunt were in school, in hopes that just ONE of those three, would just ONE TIME, make the honor roll in school -all to no avail! Most of the time, I ended up grumping and growling a lot about the grades they brought home -especially my son's! Atrocious! Absolutely atrocious my son's grades were! The girls did a bit better but none of them wanted to be bothered studying much, doing the extra work needed to be a good student. And now, finally -one of my long-held wishes and dreams for my offspring has come true!

A big round of applause for Alex Genet for his efforts, hard work, and studying! See, Grammie was right in saying it would pay off and at least, I'm happy to say that his mother -and his Dad -both enforce that with respect to his studying!

Surprise, Surprise!

Who among us doesn't like surprises? I know, I enjoy and appreciate them. Maya loves them! As a matter of fact, we frequently bribe her (or try to, anyway) to do this or that with the promise that if she is good, does as she is told, she will get a "sumprise."

I often make purchases online too -from the craft place up in Wisconsin -Herrschnerrs -that I would dearly LOVE to be able to visit and shop there in person, as well as Barnes and Noble too. Barnes and Noble may be my favorite "brick and mortar" type store but unfortunately, their nearest store to me is about 38 miles -at least a 45 minute trip -and I don't get over into that neck of the woods all that often, so I frequently use their online site to shop. Those two places tend to get the bulk of my online shopping business and my daughter here is a huge E-bay fan -for purchasing as well as occasionally selling things too.

So, between the two of us, it's not unusual for the UPS or Fed-Ex delivery guy to pull up here and bring us a package we have to sign for.

However, a couple of weeks back now, I saw the delivery man pull-up and met him at the door. Signed for the package which I initially figured was for Mandy since I hadn't recently made any purchases that would be arriving then.

To my surprise, the package was addressed to me. And even more to my surprise, it was from Amazon books -a place I'd never ordered from before. What the heck could this be?

I hurried inside, and quickly opened my "sumprise" -while Maya watched -and I really was surprised too as inside I found a copy of the best-selling book "The Shack" by William P. Young. This book has been on the best sellers list for some time now and I had intended to tell my kids -hint, hint -ya know -about it and that I'd really like to have a copy of it too. But, since I hadn't done that, I couldn't imagine how I came to find myself holding a copy of it in my hands.

That is until I saw the invoice inside the package!

It had been sent to me by one of my good blogger friends, Keith -who had evidently thought I would enjoy this book or perhaps I had even mentioned my intent to tell my kids about this book that they could put it on their Christmas gift list for me.

However or whatever it was that made Keith decide to send this book to me, it was really a great gift as I have enjoyed what I have read so far -still have a ways to go to finish it though as I've put it up till I get some of my embroidery stuff done.

And, it certainly qualifies as a great surprise!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And On We Go

Moving along, getting closer and closer to the day of no more "you-know-who" to kick around, giggle over his comments, wonder at his logic -but in the meantime, here's almost a week's worth of more Bushisms for your perusal. Yes, there is again a day missing in the mix. Evidently some little finger reached out and touched my calendar again -this time nailing the paper for Friday, November 21st. My apologies for that as I know everyone really is anxious to get a full week's worth of entertainment, courtesy of the DUBYA.

Monday, November 17, 2008 -64 days left

Visit, a website that chronicles every failure, controversy and scandal of the Bush administrtion. Updated daily.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 -63 days left

"How can 59,054,087 Americans be so dumb?"
--Cover of The Daily Mirror, a British publication, after George W. Bush is re-elected with 59,054,087 votes, November 2004.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 - 62 days left.

George Bush tries to leave a Beijing press conference and cannot open the door.
--November 2005

Thursday, November 20, 2008 - 61 days left

"We thought we were protected forever from trade policy or terrorist attacks because oceans protected us."
--Santiago, Chile, November 20, 2004, at the APEC Summit

Friday -November 21, 2008 -60 days left

Sorry -no post for today as Maya has apparently made off with that day's message on my calendar.

Saturday and Sunday, November 22/23, 2008 - 59 days left and 58 days left

"The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law."
--Austin, Texas, November 22, 2000

There ya go, folks! Now, I think I'll ave to checkout that "" site and see what other gems I've missed over this administration.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Only the Good Friday and a Give-Away

Tonight, I'm doing my "Only the Good Friday" post with a little extra twist to it. A link to where you can -if you hurry -get in on a give-away for a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble!.
Here's the link to the give-away, so hurry, go sign up and maybe someone will win that followed my lead to Oh Amanda's place! Not only is this a great opportunity to win a nice big fat gift certificate to one of MY favorite stores, but any one who purchases through B&N can be part of the Box Tops for Education program too which gives a percentage of your purchases back to your home school district! Isn't that a great idea too!

Boy, do I ever wish I would be the lucky person to win the $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble cause then, I could get more books that my oldest grandson would like to receive for Christmas along with some more books for both my daughters -and for me, too!

I really think this contest, the Box Tops for Education too, are something terrific and really deserve a mention as an "Only the Good Friday" type deal, don't you? Oh, and thanks to "Mrs. 4444" over at Half Past Kissing Time who is responsible for pointing me to Oh Amanda and this contest in the first place!

Yesterday -Thursday morning - I had an appointment over in Clearfield to go get smashed. Yeah, it was that time again for me to report in and have my annual mammography done. Lucky for me, it went pretty smoothly -didn't cause a whole bunch of discomfort even, just a tiny little bit of squishing -and now, I should be good to go for another year before I have to deal with THAT again! But you've gotta know too that this is such a very important thing that ALL women should have done -at least once a year and for all the women whose lives can and have been saved because of this test, it really ranks up there too as an "Only the Good Friday" type event.

On my way over to Clearfield -and on the way back home too -I had a cd playing in my jeep. No, not just playing but BLASTING, BLARING and I was singing along to some of the songs, humming along to others -on this cd, a really great Johnny Cash cd (sorry, but I don't remember now which one it was as Mandy has several of his cd's and we both love his music -a WHOLE LOT! The one I was listening to though -I think it was Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison though, yeah, pretty sure that was it. And it came to my mind as I was enjoying his great work what a good Only the Good Friday thing it is that we have CD players in vehicles and also, that someone with as much immense talent as Johnny Cash had could sing like he did and totally cheer me up as I drove through the cold rain, then mist along the highway. Music, just about any kind of music for that matter, tends to have the capacity to do that for me -changes my outlook, makes me feel younger, brighter, happier, able to enjoy the good as well as cope with the bad that sometimes creeps in too.

The other morning, while I was enjoying my first cup of coffee for the day -another thing to add to the Only the Good Friday feelings ya know -Mandy called to me and wanted me to hurry out to the kitchen. Well, hurry is not a word that has much use in my vocabulary as my speed is far from what it used to be, but anyway, I got out there as quickly as I could and she was pointing out the window on the kitchen door. There, in the backyard stood a lone deer -a doe (I didn't see any antlers so I presume it was a doe) and she was grazing down back in our yard! I went back and grabbed my camera, tried to open the inside door as quietly as possible so as not to spook the doe and took two pictures -neither of which turned out! Took me those two pictures to realize I was trying to take the shot on the inside, through the screen, so all that showed up was the mesh -a close up type view no less -of the screen! So I tried to quickly -and as quietly as possible -open the door and take a step out on the deck to get a shot but it was really too far away then to show up very well -therefore, I'm not posting it here today.

But, I ask you now, isn't that too an "Only the Good Friday" type moment in time -to see this beautiful animal, quietly eating grasss about 60 feet (give or take a few) from one's back door? We often see the deer in the back lot, a little bit further down, closer to the woods and the creek that runs along the back lot (no, it's not exactly the "back 40 acres -don't own but two lots with my house here) and it is so nice to feel that much closer to Mother Nature when they show up to feed. My son-in-law loves seeing them too but he just wishes he could either hunt from the deck and get his buck for the year or maybe, if he's really lucky, he'll find one of the deer that ventures forward, that close to us and civilization.

"Uncle Clate" was down tonight for supper with us and after we ate, he, Mandy and I were watching tv but Maya went down to the basement with her Dad, having some quality father-daughter time together there. Her dad drew two cars for her -not one time, but three times -and Maya then colored the vehicles and wrote (well, printed, ok?) the name of who she wanted to give her drawings to. One for Gram, one for Mommy and one that had across the top, printed so nicely, "Uncle Clate." She came upstairs and laid it on his chest. Now, you also have to realize two things there -one is that my son loves cars, volkswagon bugs in particular is a make he is extremely partial to and also, he is a total sentimental slob about Miss Maya, his only niece. As he was oohing and ahhing over her art work, you could see too the tears welling up in his eyes as he realized how much this little girl truly adores her Uncle Clate! And oh my yes, that is such an Only the Good Friday moment for me -for Mandy too! And also for Maya as he made her feel she was ultra special then for having colored in the two volkswagon bugs her daddy had drawn for her to color and present that then to Uncle Clate.

I managed to find enough time after I left the hospital lab today to do a bit of shopping too -nice, because some of the stores were having some good sales and also, because they weren't packed with frenzied shoppers looking for items to purchase with Christmas gifts in mind. My kind of shopping event there, for sure -and yes, another Only the Good Friday thing too.

On the craft side here, I have both pillow cases done now -remember the one I showed you the other day when I posted the pictures of the 52x52 tablecloth I had completed -and I am almost finished with the matching dresser scarf now too. Anytime I manage to stay with a project as long as I have this embroidery kick I've been on now since early August is most definitely in the Only the Good Friday catergory for me!

Tonight too, I want to remember the many friends and family members I am able to keep in touch with via the internet -e-mail, blogs and such -a very nice fun Only the Good Friday remembrance for me.

And for the package I received today too -with two more fairly large tablecloths, two pair of pillow cases and two dresser scarves that I was able to find and purchase online last week and to add to my embroidery stash projects to keep me -and my fingers -very busy over the coming months -that really is, for me, a very good Only the Good Friday thing to have available to do now!

So many other things and not near enough time tonight -probably never for that matter -to think of and note that they are all Only the Good Friday things.

Life, being the best of them though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love Those "Piggies"

A while back, I posted a copy of an article I had published in a now defunct local monthly newsletter publication. That piece was titled "Wealthy's Reward." At the time I posted that article, I had said I was going to try to publish -now and again -other pieces I had published in that newsletter -"The West Branch Review."

Today, I decided I would post here another of the pieces from the newsletter. This one is one of my favorite pieces. And believe me, I do really love the "piggies" mentioned in this piece -one of my all-time favorite dishes, for sure. Hope you get the flavor in the piece of how I was raised too.

>Traitorous Taste-buds

By JenniferHill Ertmer

Published June 2004 – West Branch Review

I grew up in a very segregated society, not in the south, but right here in the middle of Pennsylvania, in the little coal-mining community I still call home – Grassflat.

No, it wasn’t segregated based on what most people think about when you use that term – not on race, but rather based on one’s ethnicity and religion.

When I was a young’un, one’s ethnic background and religious choices were of utmost importance to where I was allowed to go, who I was permitted to have for friends and playmates.

I grew up living with my mother’s parents whose origins were Swedish and they belonged to the Lutheran Church here with deep-set Swedish roots. Along the street where I lived, most of the other families were of similar ethnicity and the majority also belonged to the same church, thus making those children acceptable playmates and friends - at least according to my Grandmother’s stern standards anyway.

What my grandmother didn’t know was that her tomboy granddaughter occasionally ventured a little further from home and every now and again, even dared to play with other kids who were Slovak and, perish the thought, Catholic as well.

The exceptions to Grandma’s strict rules were the Bunyak’s just up the street from us, and the Little family who lived next door, or now and then, the Kuzilla family who lived across from my great-uncle down the street. These three families I think may have been the only Slovak/Catholics who met with Grandma’s approval.

By the same token, many of the other kids in town my age, but who lived in the Dobry Town or Pleasant Hill areas of Grassflat, probably had the same rules and regulations imposed on them that they were not to associate with those Swedish Lutherans either.

It was a stupid concept when you think about it later in life, and one that is typical of the ignorance people frequently exhibit in society. It is a classical case, I suppose you could say, of “institutionalized racism/prejudice.”

Although I knew pretty much the boundaries set by Grandma of who I could associate with, where I could go, etc., it took a birthday party when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old to galvanize my own incentive to break free of this particular cultural stigma.

That party, given by Mrs. Kuzilla for her daughter Veronica, who was three years younger than I, was quite an affair. Unlike most birthday parties I was accustomed to at which the fare usually was cake, ice cream and something to drink, Mrs. Kuzilla had fixed what would be considered a major feast. It was at that party that my taste buds first met up with a dish that was to become a life-long favorite – pigs in a blanket, or “halupki”!

I came home full of stories to tell my Mom and Grandma about all the food there. But this entrée had definitely had a very, very lasting impression on me and I begged for months, even years, after for Mom or Grandma to please make “piggies.”

I finally figured out this dish was considered too Slovak or Polish for either Mom or Grandma to consider cooking, and the less said about it the better. But the experience started my taste buds on the road to degradation. As I got older, I had more opportunity to experiment with other foods and, hopefully, got a lot wiser about other “differences” too.

It was after one of my jaunts a little further from home than was actually permitted, and playing with a girl my age whose ethnicity was Slovak and who was also Catholic (to add insult to injury), and I was invited into her home, where her mother offered me some type of Slovak pastries she had just made that were absolutely to die for, when I realized one thing for sure. I had to keep that discovery to myself. I dared not reveal I had been consorting with the enemy, as perceived by my Grandma, and worse yet, had even dined with them!

To this day, I still remember the sweet goodies made by Vicky Little’s mom, Helen (Bunyak) Little, but I have no clue as to what they were called. All I know is they were deep-fried and absolutely fantastic.

So much so that now my mouth is watering just from the memory and I think I will surf an International website once more in hopes of finding a recipe that looks even remotely like these great morsels were!

This post has been brought to you courtesy of something I'm really going to need if I keep writing about food - the best diet pill.

*** A side piece of information about this article too is that had my Grandma ever known some of the things I did while playing next door with the Little family children, that house would have become permanently off limits to me, for sure! If I happened to be over there on a high holy religious day -one that required the kids to offer prayers upon prayers, Mrs. Little would herd me upstairs -along with her very large family group, and I was required then to participate in these prayer gatherings. I knew the Rosary and several of the prayers that were said over them probably just as well as did the Little kids and I'm sure that could possibly have led to cardiac arrest for my Grandma or my being completely banned from ever setting foot in their yard, certainly not their house, ever again. Fortunately for me, I had by that time, learned there are times when the less said, the better and I kept my big mouth shut about those things.