Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Luck Runneth Out!

I knew, sooner or later, it was bound to happen.

I've been fortunate for a good long while now that even with the crazy hours I keep, walking the dog despite the cold, the rain, the snow, being out around the general public doing Christmas shopping and things like that, plus being around two grandkids who are frequently exposed to all kinds of stuff, I had managed thus far to NOT pick up any of the nasty little germy things.

However, I do believe that run of luck has done dried up on me and the way my throat feels tonight, has felt pretty much all day, the sneezing, and what I can by now recognize as the beginning signs of a good old fashioned head cold, I can pretty much guarantee that by morning, my nose will be running like a really trusty Kohler faucet.

Oh well, all good things must come to an end and if I have to be blessed with a stinking head cold, I'm just glad that it decided to wait until this week and didn't come calling last week when I was working feverishly to finish up the last tablecloth (for Mandy) plus trying to get food fixed for our Christmas Eve family get-together.

I finally decided when nothing seemed to salve my sore throat tonight and the sinus activity was picking up steam that the time had come to find some cold tablets that I knew were stashed away somewhere in the cabinet in the kitchen. (No, we don't store over-the-counter meds in the bathroom medicine cabinet mainly because a certain nosy little girl can get up on the vanity and could easily get into stuff like that there.) However, considering her penchant for getting into that cabinet and finding various kinds of cosmetics -eye shadow, eyeliner, lipsticks and blush plus occasionally some bottles of nail polish too and that she likes to trim herself, as well as her little brother in various shades of these commodities too from time to time, maybe we should move those items to some other area where there is a very high cabinet with no easy access to it.

Nah, wouldn't want to do that and take away the entertainment her little escapades do give us with all that war paint, ya know!

But anyway, I don't know who brought this cold home, but whoever did, it seems to have also hit both kids too as both Maya and Kurtis woke up Tuesday morning with very runny noses and Maya's voice was getting pretty raspy too by the time she went to bed tonight.

Thankfully, no other symptoms have shown up that would indicate this is any more than either a head cold or a simple sinus infection type thing -no upset tummies, or anything like that, so I think, I hope, we can rule out the flu then.

And I'm gonna just relax as best I can and let this little sucker run its course in me while the Mucinex DM -my most favorite brand of cold meds -will fight it and help keep me a little more comfortable for the duration.

I was just thinking back to the last time I had a cold and I do believe it was about three years ago, right after I came home from the hospital after having had the colostomy.

So really, I guess I can't complain about that then can I?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trash Picker

Ah, the Christmas Spirit!

It was so nice here Thursday night with the whole family here. A big meal, gifts exchanged. Lots of laughter -and gee, even a lot of love too.

Okay, a few minor lapses in the love but that's okay. Next time we have a big shindig planned with lots of food and a certain grandchild (who shall be unnamed) won't help do up a couple of dishes to help ready things for the meal, perhaps we shall tell that grandchild "no help, no meal!" Ah, but I doubt that would solve the issue, would it? (This did not involve anyone under the age of 12 so I do think that the request to wash up a few dishes was not something that difficult for an almost 14-year-old to do, do you?)

But that was really the only flaw in what was otherwise, from my perspective, a pretty darned nice night!

Mandy, my son, Clate and grandson, Alex and I went to the 9 p.m. church service. And, it was beautiful! The choir sang my favorite song -that old Swedish number that we also always sing at the end of the St. Lucia Program every year too -"Lyssna, Lyssna!" So lovely to sit and hear the words and melody wafting into the sanctuary as the choir sings it while out in the narthex.

Pastor Carrie's sermon was a very interesting take on what if Christ were born today -the message basically being not to look for Him in what we think of as the standard place for a King to appear. Just as 2000 years ago so many of the people then couldn't fathom how a King could be born in a manger stall, not have the gold and silver robes and ornaments befitting a king either.

Christmas morning, the kids were up very early. Actually, there was some question of how much the even did sleep because they were both awake periodically throughout the night! Maya is the one who first discovered there were presents downstairs for her and for Kurtis so she took it on herself to go up and bring him down to see -and then, to open their Santa gifts.

They both made quite a haul -between the family gifts Christmas Eve and then the Santa gifts in the morning, I think it would be a wise idea to see about building on to the house -any time now. (Oh, if only that were an affordable idea though!)

With all the food Thursday night, lots of leftovers yesterday so Gram didn't cook -ANYTHING!

Today, Mandy had work from noonish until 6 p.m. so I was here with the kids to keep me company, entertain me and such. Considering that Santa brought each youngun here a little drum set -no, not the big kind -just a small snare type drum with a tamborine, marimbas and oh yes, a harmonica too with each set! My, my! Judging by the amount of time Maya especially spent blowing in and out with this little instrument, if someone shows her how to hit the various notes in a scale, she might actually become pretty good at playing the thing!

For me -I really do want a set of earplugs though -preferably NOW!

Shortly before Mandy left for work today though, she informed me that older daughter had called and wants us to go on a search and destroy mission for a gift she is pretty sure she "lost" here.

Now Thursday night, about 2 minutes after they left, we discovered that she had forgotten oh, 3 or 4 of her gifts that she had sitting on or by my computer desk. Mandy tried right away to reach them but apparently they were still down in the gully here and had no service so by the time we did get in touch with them, they were already on the interstate and heading east there.

But the item she called about this morning it turns out was a gift certificate from her brother and his girlfriend to a very nice local restaurant up here so she wanted us (or me, since I was the one home this afternoon) to please see if we could find this gift!

Do you have any idea how much fun it is NOT to sort and sift through 8 trash bags -all but one was all gift wrap but that ONE odd bag contained more things than I really wanted to ever have to go searching through in my lifetime! Coffee grounds, bits of all kinds of food stuff from the preparations on Thursday as well as what various children (and probably a few adults too) didn't like or couldn't finish eating. Just basically a rather nasty ordeal!

And if anyone else want's to look through those bags now -to verify that my vision wasn't faulty, they are more than welcome to do so -just count me out!

Where said gift certificate is now is totally beyond me! But I do think I did my part in the search department. Maybe a bit above and beyond too -well, in my opinion anyway!

But till the next time someone loses something, ya'll can just refer to me as "Ye Olde Trash Picker!"

Hope your holiday was just as nice as ours was -where it was nice -and that no one has to perform any search missions in the garbage arenas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost Time....

The excitement is in the air in this old house -at 7 a.m. on Christmas Eve when there is no school, Maya is up, running around, trying to snag candy canes from the Christmas tree and even playing a Christmas Carols cd to help keep her in the Christmas mode!

She survived the past two days with the box and clothes basket sitting in the dining room, tightly packed with presents with only a few reprimands. When I finished wrapping gifts early Wednesday morning as I placed the packages in these two containers, I made sure than any presents with her name on 'em were firmly placed in the very bottom of the big, long storage tote and as many packages as I could stack there were then placed on top of her gifts. This resulted in a few tears Wednesday when she saw no packages with her name on them and Mandy and I told her that must mean she's not been the good little girl she thinks she's been and apparently she's not gonna get ANYTHING for Christmas. One of my blogger and facebook friends said that was a poor way to deal with her but I had no other place to put these packages plus, we had been warning her frequently -too frequently -that her behavior better improve or else.

Yesterday -that would be Thursday, ya know -morning, I was listening to Kurtis practice his new-found skill of going up and down the stairs and at one point, thought he must be falling as there was a lot of extra clunkety-clunk-clunk sounds on the stairs. But as he came through the living room to the doorway into the dining room, I saw what had been causing that sound.

There he stood, holding this big box that says "Parking Garage" on the side and has pictures on the box of matchbox cars.

He stopped, looked up and me and pointed to the box saying, "Race cars? Race cars?"

Yes, baby , there would be race cars involved with that box and that he had managed to drag it downstairs told me that I might be well-served if I could find a race car and take off in it before his Momma got home from work.

You just know, don't you, that the appearance of this box was because he had also picked up skills his Mother had when she was but a little older than he is right now -snooping and finding stashed presents and even being brave enough to pull something out that Mandy had stashed under her bed and haul it down the steps to show good old Grammy his "find" of the day!

I finally completed the final tablecloth I've been working on for the past two weeks about 6 a.m. this morning, hence the reason I am still awake at this hour!

Here's what the center part of this tablecloth looks like.

And this picture shows what is in each of the outer corners of the tablecloth too!

Now, that tablecloth -along with a pair of fingertip towels with a floral embroidery and a pair of pillowcases too -is all packed up in a box and gift wrapped but I didn't assign a name on the tag I put on the box. Rather, for this package and the other one contained another tablecloth plus towels and pillowcases, I just wrote "Surprise" where the label says who the present goes to. Then, when we do our gift exchange later today, I'm going to hold both boxes up in front of my daughters and tell them each to choose a package and whichever tablecloth is in that box they pick, will solve my dilemma of trying to determine who gets which tablecloth! And if they want to switch items around, that's fine with me too then!

Now, since I was up all night working to complete the border on this tablecloth and have already had my little walk up the road and back with Samuel J. Muttley -about 3/4 of a mile one way which gives me roughly having walked -or almost trotted, I should say as Sammy may be a small dog, but he sure can pull a person along quite handily -about 1 1/2 miles then, round trip! At the pace he sets for me on our walks, the calories -and fat cells -should fly off me! Provided I can keep up the pace with eating salads, salads and more salads!

So, I'm gonna go lie down now and take a snooze. I have a few things partially done for our meal so I should be able get in a nice little nap before I have to dig in and cook a big meal for the whole family who will be here -or should be here -by 4 p.m. After that, Maya will be happy to have the presents given out and we'll have time to relax a tiny bit then before going to the late (or candlelight) service at 8 p.m.

So, because I don't anticipate having time to be back on here today -maybe tomorrow I'll catch up on my blog reading -I wanted to be able to say this though to each and everyone of you who reads my blog -faithfully or now and then -have a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

And now, some sleep for me so I can have a God Jul!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's the Little Things....

I haven't been keeping up very well this past week with posting as I have been working -feverishly -to finish one last tablecloth. I thought I would have it done by Sunday night but that didn't materialize. Then I figured with what little I had left to get it done I could have it done by Monday night, but that didn't pan out either.

Now, I have four leaves on one lousy little poinsettia in one corner and a very simple border to complete around the outer edge and that's going to have to wait now till Tuesday before I get that topped off and then, it will be completed!

I would have had it done earlier tonight but Mandy informed me she wasn't going to have the time to wrap the presents I have for the kids and adults so it came down to my wrapping gifts tonight and getting that done -or finishing the tablecloth and I decided to go for gift wrapping.

Because I do have a bit of an evil streak in me and also, because a certain little girl here is a complete clone of her mother and her aunt when it comes to snooping in packages, I have all the packages wrapped and stuffed into a big plastic bin and a clothes basket and I don't have them hidden. Those two "storage" containers are sitting in the dining room, just waiting to be handed out Christmas Eve.

However, all the packages for Maya and Kurt are on the very bottom of the big bin so there is no way Maya can get into that and try to sneak a peek at any gifts! Good way -maybe -to kind of scare here into thinking she's not getting anything but maybe a lump of coal cause she hasn't been behaving very well and Mandy and I have warned her time and again that she was skating mighty close to the edge and just might not get ANYTHING from ANYONE much less Santa Claus for Christmas.

Yes, I am just ornery enough to try a stunt like that on her and see how well it flies!

Monday afternoon, when Mandy got home from her jaunt over to Dubois to try to finish her shopping, I had some local errands to run so I headed out the door shortly after she came home.

First stop was at the mail boxes to check and see what the postman might have dropped off.

Since we no longer have a post office here in our little village, the residents -most of 'em anyway- get their mail at individual boxes that require a key to open them and there are three clusters of this type of mailboxes at strategic intervals around town. The cluster where our box is located is situated pretty much in the center of the village and much as I dislike not having a post office building here to go into and college our mail, it is nice this way in that you can pick up your mail at any time of day or night.

Provided, of course, that you have your own little key to open said box, that is.

And when I went to get our mail today, imagine my surprise when the mailbox key wasn't in the little area between the front seats of my jeep! It's where we "always" keep that key but today -no key!

Now Mandy has a small problem -or has had in the past -in keeping track of keys, particularly her car keys. And about a month or two back, she informed me that she had either lost -or well, misplaced -one of the two mail box keys we had.

But today, it appeared she had now lost the only other key we had to use to pick up our mail.

I turned around and came back to the house -honking the horn as I pulled up out front and she came to the door to hear me having a bit of a hissy fit as to what had happened to the other mail box key. She initially tried to pass it off that I had lost it but then realized the last time we'd used it was on Saturday and that day, she, the kids and Sammy, the mutt, had walked up in the freshly falling snow to get the mail and she was the one who had charge of the key then too!

She was a bit ticked at me for being ticked at her and tried to blow me off by saying she would hunt for it in her purse or her jacket pockets later but I figured, with her track record, I'd best find out what we'd have to do if it didn't turn up and get ready to set that ball into action, ya know.

So off I went to the post office in the next neighboring village to drop some cards into the outgoing mail and also, ask the postmistress there for information on what we would have to do if we can't find the key.

It also just so happens that the postmistress there is my son's girlfriend so along with getting information on the set-up for replacing a key, I also had her cancel the stamps on two cards I had in my purse but I didn't drop them in the slot but put them back in my purse to bring them home with me.

Why? Because these were two little Christmas cards I had purchased for Maya and Kurt and I didn't want to wait till we got things with the mail box squared away to give them to them.

So, when I came home, I pulled these cards out and told them a bit of a fib that when I went to the post office where "Aunt Betty" works, she was "changing" the mail (which she wouldn't be doing for mail coming to our village but Maya and Kurt don't have a clue as to how that works but I also figured that Maya is slick enough though to notice a good stamp that hadn't been cancelled) so anyway, I told them Aunt Betty had just come across, it so happened, these two cards, one for each of them and I gave them their own cards.

What happened next totally took both Mandy and I by surprise.

Maya opened her card, looked at it briefly, but that was about all the reaction she gave.

Kurtis, on the other hand, was so excited over this little card, squealing like crazy, saying "Christmas card, Christmas card" and then, when Mandy read it to him and told him it was from Grammy, he really got excited!

I'd be willing to bet that people around the country and certainly those folks in Washington -senators and representatives -wouldn't get this excited if they had finally just passed a bill for affordable health insurance! No sirree Bob, I bet they wouldn't!

But he sure reacted in a way that you'd have thought he just got that or else, maybe a winning lottery ticket!

Just too doggone funny, it was!

All of which just further proves to me that with little children, it often really is just the little things that excite and please them the most.

Hope he's that happy come Christmas Eve now when he actually gets some real packages and presents to open!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Suspense Is Building!

Well, for those whose sole celebratory aspect of this season is focused on gifts -giving and receiving of them, that is -just think, by this time on Friday, it will all pretty much be over but the shouting, won't it?

I tried over the years when my kids were growing up to not concentrate that much on the gifts part of the holiday as I wanted them to understand that the real reason for the season is the beautiful gift that was given to us those many years ago in a tiny manger stall in Bethlehem.

To give gifts -well, to my mind anyway -should be somewhat of a way to reflect on the giving as opposed to the receiving end. Not necessarily an easy lesson to teach children what with all kinds of catalogs, ads on tv, announcements about Santa this, that and the other, all around and all the time too, it seems at times.

Of course, my own financial circumstances dictated to that a lot too as I was generally broke year-round so often the kids would get something in September or October that they really needed -shoes, boots, a new coat or some such, and they were told then that this item was actually a part of their Christmas gifts too. I also tried to limit how many toys they got too -never more than four or five items that would be construed as "Toys."

Mandy and I are the ones who generally do the Christmas shopping for Maya and Kurtis here and budget limitations as well as wanting to adhere to what I used to try to teach Mandy and her siblings still apply somewhat to how much we get for the kids.

This year though should be really interesting as Mandy got an aquarium -not a big one, just a smallish, starter variety, and plans after Christmas to set it up and then, look around for little swimming creatures to put in this item. Sounds like a neat idea since she informed me that her friends, Jen-Jen and Nick,have an aquarium at their house and she's noticed how it really draws both Maya and Kurt's attention as they will sit and watch the fish swim around, completely focused on them.

However, I thought too that people who know how many animals we already have - one dog (Sammy), two grown cats (Nina and Chino), the kitten not selected to go live elsewhere and who we call "Flutternutter" plus three bunnies -still living in the cage in the basement may be wondering what the heck is with us with all the animals, adding an aquarium and fish to the mix, that either we are starting our own zoo or perhaps our own private pet franchise here!

Well, I guess the aquarium and fishies for it won't be all that bad an idea for the kids, will it -anything as long as it keeps their attention and away from other activities, huh?

But on the other hand too -maybe the fact that Nina, the Mama cat, seems to be making a lot of those dreadful noises that tend to indicate she's either missing not having any babies to care for or else, she just wants to go running around, find the local cat bar and pick up some big hot Tomcat to go dancing with at some fancy place.

Figures she would get ideas like that now that we are in the process of getting things set up to curb those thoughts in her, ya know.

So, just cross your fingers and hope that we can keep her "under wraps" ya know, until the middle of January when she's supposed to get "fixed" for good!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In Anticipation...

I'm posting this today mainly to let folks know that no, I haven't dropped off the face of the blogosphere, nor have I keeled over from lack of nutrition, thanks to my new "Diet and Exercise" (dirty words) regime.

But I have been busy -sometimes it seems like I've been doing nothing though cause I don't really have much to show for my "busy-ness" either. Well, I did get my Christmas cards almost all addressed and some, even hit the mail already too! I'm a bit impressed with myself on that deal as I do tend to procrastinate -greatly -when it comes to getting the cards taken care of and sent out. If you haven't received your card from me yet and you know you are normally on the receiving list of one from me, have faith, it will get there yet! (I hope!)

I've had several ideas floating in my mind -and yes, that is a very dangerous place at times, quite risky indeed for me to be mulling a lot of things I'd like to write about when I think I really need to think them through and actually kind of plan a post. I normally tend to just write these things pretty much off the cuff, spur of the moment thoughts, feelings, etc. I know -that's a really big shocker for me to tell you that, isn't it? (And yes, that was intended to be sarcastic.)

But one thing I do want to say today is to tell you again about one of my favorite bloggers. A gentleman (and yes, for those of you who also read his blog, you will know too that I use that term "gentleman" a bit loosely) blogger I follow who lives up in the Boston area has a really fantastic post, full of sentimentality and all that good stuff (a lot of which is taking up tons of space in my pea brain too right now) primarily about the Christmas season.

His blog name is "Suldog" -and he writes some of the best stuff ever! Funny, hysterically so at times, bad taste (okay even that maybe now and again some might say) but nevertheless, he is really one of the finest bloggers around. And if you're one of his followers, you wouldn't be a follower of him if you didn't agree with what I just said above! If you've never read his stuff, go and do it and do it now -or at least as soon as you have ample time to be well-entertained! Trust me on this one folks!

The above link is to his blog. This link HERE though is to the exact post I think everyone should read of his stuff! (Just in case by the time you read this and if you follow my directives to his place he may have something new posted and you need to read this post especially.)

Jim's one of those guys who can shock you with his words, point out things that are yes, social injustices in one breathe and in the next, talk about teddy bears, marriage, memories of days of yore, toss in more than a few words too that can curl your hair (wish it would work on mine right now, come to think of it) and turn the air blue and the odds are that you, like me, will come away loving what you just read!

Yes, he is that damned good!

Take that bit of advice from me now as my Christmas gift to each and every one of you -and anyone else who might stumble across this piece!

And, while you're at it -have a very Merry Christmas, Happiest of New Years, Happy Hanakkuh, Seasons Greetings, but mostly, coming from me, have a God Jul!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sister, Can You Lend a Hand?

It's been an interesting evening here for me tonight! A bit confusing at times, I must admit, but fun, all the same. It also gave me a great feeling too when, after at least an hour -possibly two -on the phone with a very good friend from way back, I was able to help get her started with her very own Facebook account!

It's a bit more confusing to get an account set up now, I think, than it was when I first signed on. Back then, it was really easy and -to my way of thinking -also very straightforward. Now, with some of the changes they have made to the set-up and all, trying to walk another person through the process -over the phone -and explaining what this or that or something else is for or what it does -especially when, like me, you aren't exactly the most literate person around about Facebook, but we managed and finally got her page working!

It's been quite a busy weekend here -or longer than that I guess since my last post. I've been lost in my own little world several times and then again, since the last post I put up here. Now, I get confused with whether or not I wrote about something on my blog or did I only put this or that up on my Facebook and not here -or was it vice versa?

But anyway, let's try and backtrack a little bit and I'll play some "catch-up ball" with things pertaining to me, my family, home, getting ready for the holidays and what not, whatever else may pop into my severely depleted brain cells tonight.

Starting with this picture for you to gaze upon!

This is the handmade wreath our good friend, Joe Kolivoski, made for us and it is hanging on our front door now -in all its shining glory! Isn't it just gorgeous though? Because the light in the area of our front door isn't the best -virtually non-existent at times -I had to use the "low-light" setting on my camera and in doing that, it makes the greens of the wreath look like they are white or at the very least, tinged with snow. It's not that color at all and is actually a very pretty dark hemlock green. So, when you look at it, picture it as being this dark green color and not looking all white under the bow.

Last week, we got the two orange kittens -brothers, they are -delivered to their new home and owners and this coming Wednesday, if all goes as planned and the weather stays decent enough to travel down to Bellefonte, I will be delivering the little gray calico (girl) kitten to the grandmother of the little girl who will be the "owner" of this sweetheart of a kitten. She really is a cutie and I can't see how any 3-year-old WON'T just fall in love with her on first sight and the two will bond forever@

That will leave us then with just one male -the really pretty orange male with the white face and chest - and if Mandy can find a new home for Nina -the Mama cat -then we will keep "Flutter-nutter" as Mandy likes to call this particular kitten. I have nothing against good old Nina, basically and honestly, I don't but the thing is, she hates Sammy, the dog and try and he does to get her to be friends with him, I guess that just isn't going to happen. So, maybe -since Sammy gets along greatly with "Flutter-nutter" it would work better then if we could keep him and let Nina go with some other family I suppose!

Last night was our annual St. Lucia pot luck dinner and program at church -as we welcomed this year's St. Lucia and her court to grace us for the evening. The weather wasn't the best -freezing rain in the morning even caused the cancellation of our regular Sunday morning services but by 5 p.m., it was just a bit of misting and lots of fog -only a few patches of ice on parking areas and such.

Here's the picture of this year's St. Lucia -portrayed by Susan Eyerly - and her full court. Because of the weather, our attendance was down a good bit for the dinner and program and we had no young boys present last night at all so there were no "star boys" to accompany St. Lucia and her assistants. But we did have a new one in the lineup of those attending St Lucia last night and she's the second from the left in the picture. Yep, that's my granddaughter, Miss Maya, making her very first appearance in the St. Lucia procession. Note that all the other attendants are each holding a lit candle while Maya is merely holding a white candle -not a lit one though. For obvious reasons of safety, we decided not to place a lit candle in her hands just yet! But although she was a bit skittish initially about taking part in the ceremony, she ultimately decided to do it and once up in front of everyone, showed how much of a little ham she really is then too! The court in this picture consists of (from left to right) Rachel Araway, Maya Wagner, Sarah Haller, St. Lucia (Susan Eyerly), Savannah Mabie and Kylie Moriarity, wearing the typical Swedish peasant dress costume.

The food at the dinner was excellent -as it always is -and we finished off the night by the members of the past and current senior choir coming forward to do a rousing rendition of the favorite Swedish Christmas song "Lyssna, Lyssna!" I had my son use my camera and try to get a video of us singing -which he did, sort of, except for one small thing. He stopped the video before we, the choir, stopped singing the song so it sort of ends quite unexpectedly. (Only a minute and 35 seconds worth of us singing our pea-picking little old hearts out. I don't have it converted to a U-tube video so will not be posting it on here, at least not at this juncture!

We did, unfortunately, have some very bad news about a boy from our church though who was accidentally shot Friday nite and is in serious condition at a large hospital east of here after having to be life-flighted there around midnight Friday night. He was quite fortunate in that the bullet didn't hit any major organs or his spine -but did do a good bit of damage to his small intestine. So far, he is recovering as well as can be expected this soon after the injury and we're all hoping things will keep improving as rapidly as is possible and that he will be able to be back home before Christmas anyway. So, if you're of the praying sort, please remember him in your prayers, if you don't mind. A few more prayers sure can't hurt anything, can they?

Last night, when we went out to the church for the dinner, the SIL wasn't quite ready and we had to get out there, get the food Mandy and I had prepared out and ready to be dished out ya know, so Mandy and the kids and I left in my jeep with the SIL to follow as soon as he finished getting ready.

Well, we were all seated and well into the meal when the phone rang in the Sunday School Social hall and it was for Mandy! Seems the SIL had run into some problems. He was going to drive out in Mandy's car but he had paid no attention to Mandy's telling him that the gas gauge on this car doesn't work (no surprise ya know that a mechanic wouldn't pay attention to this on a car within his own family, is it now?) but he hopped into her car and started on his way -the drive that is all of about 4-5 miles only to have the car die on him at the intersection about 1/2 mile or so up the road from our house. Somehow, he managed to get the car back down to sitting in the middle of the road in front of our house but not in the parking area so he decided to take drastic steps to push it off the road and into the icy parking area we have by pushing it with his pickup truck. He pushed it by doing it nose-to-nose -with the front end of his truck lining up -or so he thought -to the front end of Mandy's car. Unfortunately, this created yet another problem in that is sort of left a nice big old dent in the hood of Mandy's car!

So he called us at the church to tell us of his dilemma and that he wouldn't be out there then. My son finished eating and left to come down to the house and see if he could help the SIL finish getting the car off the road and with no further damages to the car.

Needless to say, this has not made for a really happy household then or today as Mandy was a bit putout by his taking those drastic steps and ending up denting the hood of her car -the newest vehicle she's ever had and one that, prior to this mishap, looked pretty doggone nice too!

Oh well, what can ya say about things like this that happen with this family other than it's just a bit more drama added to other drama, which in turn is added to yet more drama and so, the saga continues I suppose!

And today, I had a lovely little trip over to my doctor's office in Curwensville so she could talk to me about the results of some blood work she'd had me have done about a month ago now. Seems that there are a few issues with the blood results and those issues made it necessary for my doctor to utter to very nasty words to me - DIET and EXERCISE! Yes, I am now under orders that I have to watch my diet, intake, etc., and do some kind of exercise -whatever my stiff leg joints will handle I guess -and return in 3 months, hopefully having shed more than a few pounds and with my blood sugar under control as well as the nasty cholesterol too! YUCK!

Not that I don't agree with her over the fact that it sure wouldn't hurt me to lose more than a few pounds -because I've known that for the past 3-4 years or more now. But sheesh -to have to curb my intake of pastas (which I love) and sweets (which I do like but I don't really indulge THAT much on them -other than the ice cream) and the exercise -well I guess that means I probably am going to become the designated walker now for Sir Samuel J. Muttley, doesn't it? Sure does look like things will be going that way for me. Say a prayer that the D&E doesn't totally do me in, will ya?

And that pretty much takes us up to the current time now -which is almost midnight -and time for me to get to bed! Oh and that brings one more thing up too -I lost my bed buddy tonight now too! Mandy finally got the bedroom upstairs all set up so now, both Maya and Kurtis are sleeping in the same room, in their own respective little beds and Grammy now gets to sleep alone!

Well, the nice thing about that is that I don't need to worry about waking up in the middle of the night with a very wet behind so I guess that's the good that comes of this transition, isn't it?

Nite now and God Jul, too!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Project Finally Completed!

It's been a while since I started working on this project -a Christmas tablecloth, 50x50 inch size -and at times, I was wondering if I was ever going to get the darned thing done!

It really isn't that difficult to embroider this piece -that is until you get to the places where it requires using gold filament thread -like in the center of each flower plus to outline the flowers and the "ribbon" effect along each side of the piece too. Trust me when I tell you this that working with gold filament thread is a royal -and I do mean -a royal, pain in the dupa for sure!

But anyway, as I promised, here are the pictures I took tonight of the finished piece. It only took me about 7-8 weeks to get this puppy done. Thnakfully, it looks pretty decent in the photographs unless you are really looking to find my erros and then, what else can I say except "Sorry about those things!
This is a view of the center flowers and the two "Jul Bok" Candlestick holders I have. The Jul Bok (Christmas Goat) has some kind of traditional meaning in Sweden but to be honest, I don't know the story behind that symbol. However, these candlestick holders were made by my friend Kate's husband and she gave me one for my birthday present back in October and I purchased the second one at our church bazaar. (I also have an order in to Jim -Kate's husband - for him to make me two more of these beautiful candlestick holders! Don't you just love them though?)

Here's little bit of a closeup of the four center flowers on the tablecloth.

Here's a bigger close-up of the four center flowers.

This is a closeup of the outside corner flower -one on each corner.

These are the flowers that adorn each outside edge of the cloth. There is one group like this in the center of each side part of the cloth and this also shows a little bit of the ribbon effect that accompanies these little bouquets.
And here we are -back to a view -again -of the center flowers and the two Jul Bok candlestick holders.

A close-up of the Jul Bok Candlestick holder shown on the tablecloth and with the tree in the backdrop.

And finally -here's Maya and Kurtis -wishing each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas or as those of us with Swedish ancestry would say "God Jul!"

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wanted: Jet Plane


What started out looking to be a "nice" day, seems to be deteriorating quickly. Or maybe it is that it is fading out from nice to nasty slowly and has me doing a bit of a slow burn in the process. At any rate, I'm just getting a tad more rankled as the day goes on.

Mandy remembered last night to set the alarm so as to wake me up at a time that would give me adequate prep time to get to church today. (I have no alarm clock in my room and truth be told, have no place were I could even find the room -or plug -to have one there, so I have to depend on her to wake me up when I need to be up and about earlier than my usual rising time -which is generally any time after 9 a.m.)

So, I made it to church, then to the store to get the Sunday paper, milk and a nice cut of beef to cook for supper.

Came home and took one look at the living room and got the bad vibes that things weren't going to be fun here today.

My first -and only - clue to that was the fact the SIL was camped on the couch, semi-conscious, and that is generally not a good sign. If he's awake, sitting up, holding that infernal cup of coffee that he takes only two, maybe sips out of and then just sits there, staring straight ahead -at nothing - at least that pose sometimes has potential that he will move around -eventually. But when he is in a prone position, that generally is indicative that he has generated a headache for himself and any thoughts of his rousing enough to do ANYTHING are pretty much null and void.

It's now five hours since I got home from church and he's still pretty much in that same position.

Mandy and Maya left about 12:30 to go down to Bellefonte, taking the two orange, male kittens down to meet up with a lady who found Mandy via Craig's List and who wants those two brothers to come live with her. Yippee Skippy! I'm impressed with that! Another lady has called and made reservations in advance now to meet either Mandy or me on the 15h of the month and deliver to her the little grey calico fuzzball kitten which then just leaves us with the other fuzzball -the orange and white male -and quite the handsome little dude he is too! He's the one of the kittens who made up first with Sammy and now, they are quite the twosome! Even sleep together, they do!

We got a coating of snow on the ground yesterday and it's been cold enough last night and today too that none of that skiff has even thought about melting. It does make the area look pretty though, gotta admit that much in favor of the snow. And, the fact that it isn't so much that it has to be shoveled is an added bonus too!

However, all the nice things I just mentioned aside, my mood is such that I'd like to fly the coop and thoughts of some nice Miami Beach hotels or just about any place really, as long as it is a good ways away from here and from the slug on the sofa, ya know!

My theory on this whole situation is if he feels that crappy and is edgy over things that really are relatively normal things -a 3-year-old who makes a little noise now and then, a young dog and a kitten who like to play and skitter around the room, the telephone ringing from people who want to talk to him -and any other miniscule thing that makes what he considers to be an unwanted sound or movement -then get thy hiney upstairs and crash in your bed, fella!

The only time he has moved off the sofa has been when the dog has moved -and it has made no difference if his movement was quiet or noisy -but what it has caused "el sluggo" to rise up, grab at the poor dog and shove him aside with a few choice curse words directed at poor little Sammy in the process.

The other strange thing about this recurring illness here is that every time his older son is here for a weekend, it is inevitable that on Sunday, the SIL will be sick, to sick to move, for the duration of the time the boy is here! Makes for a really enjoyable visit with his Dad, don't 'cha know?

Of course, I confess too that I am still a bit ticked off at him for yesterday and his actions of that day too. Deer season is in full swing here ya know so yesterday, he and the boy went hunting with a bunch of friends of the SIL's.

Hunters, for those who don't know diddly squat about that subject, are supposed to be out of the woods by dark and dark falls now around 5-5:30 p.m. so I had supper cooked, ready to serve by 6 p.m. I figured since where they were hunting is about 6-8 miles from the house, if they got out of the woods by 5 p.m. and said their goodbyes, etc., that still gave them plenty of time by which to be home by 6, or even 6:30 at the latest,.

However, it was about 8:15 before they arrived home. And there were no courtesy phone calls to the house to let me know they were okay, no one accidentally shot or lost in the woods or no deer that they were busy butchering either. Just saying that it might have been nice to have a little idea WHEN they would be arriving back at the olde homestead, ya see.

He did note that I had this casserole sitting on the counter and made a comment that it looked good and all. I muttered something to the effect that it had looked a lot better though at 6 p.m!

That comment did elicit a bit of an explanation from him that by the time they ALL got out of the woods and had to stand around and b.s. a bit, ya know, before he knew it the time had whizzed by and it was 8 p.m. I said something to the effect then too about it not taking over 2 hours to drive 6-8 miles.

Yeah, I was pissed. Royally jacked I was. But it was more because I knew too that they had eaten supper already at the home of the guy on whose property they'd been hunting so I knew too that he could easily have phoned to tell me that but he couldn't even tell me they'd already eaten there.

Nope! The step-grandson told me that bit of information!

So now, I have a container of leftovers that probably won't heat well and will go to waste and that will tick me off just a tad bit more too!

Oh well, c'est la vie, I guess!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Going Public...

This morning, Mandy had the kids setting up at the table after breakfast with a big roll of coloring pictures of the Christmassy variety and what a great idea that was! It kept both of them happy, having fun together without a bunch of fighting (and bossing on Maya's part) for quite a while.

But, as you know, all good things do eventually end and their interests wandered to other things more exciting around the house then -mainly that Miss Maya wanted to play "teacher" to Kurtis. A nice thought, yes but not necessarily one that HE agrees with for any length of time.

However, apparently the fun of coloring and then being a teacher overtook Maya a bit -so much so that she forgot to heed any warnings within her system and as a result, at one point, Mandy noticed that the seat of her pants had taken on a kind of pointy shape to it. Tell-tale sign that she should have made a trip to the bathroom, ya know! (Although she is doing much, much better in that department, she does still have the occasional accident.)

So anyway, Mandy told her to go back to the bathroom and change her drawers. She went, skipping and jumping for joy but a few minutes later, appeared here in the living room -naked from the waist down and holding in her hand her underwear, which was still heavily laden with its not so little lump, ya know. And she stood here, holding it up, shaking the underpants as she announced to us that "it won't come off!"

And Mandy and I both went into a bit of a panic mode then as we told her to get back in the bathroom with that, RIGHT NOW, and for heaven's sake, quit shaking it too!

Ah, the fun, games and yes, a bit of excitement of small children in the house, huh?

And that thought -the excitement of children, especially babies and yet again, especially NEW babies got me to thinking that any day now we should be receiving some birth announcements from at least three sets of parents-to-be!

I'm not quite sure right now when these blessed events are due but one, the daughter of my cousin, Ken, I do recall is due the end of December. This will be Erika's second child and will be a little sister for her and husband Wade's little girl, Tori, who is 2 and a half years old now and quite the lovely little girl too, she is!

Then, there is our friend Betsy and her husband, Dan who are expecting their third child. Mandy isn't sure but thinks this baby is due in either February or March. They have two of the cutest little boys ever -Jacob and Isaac -and Isaac was in the same preschool class last year as was Maya so she got to know him then. She also likes Isaac -a lot -too! Kind of is what one could say maybe her first boyfriend, huh?

And finally, there is my friend and former co-worker, Tammy and her husband Arun -way out in Texas some place, who are having their first child either in December or early January and I'm really looking forward to hearing from her that their baby has arrived, safe and sound. I haven't heard from her in a couple of months now but I know she is one busy young woman, working, trying to keep up with running a household and all that entails so I'm sure she's been kept very busy! At least, I sure do hope that's why I haven't heard from her in a while anyway.

I should try to get out my knitting needles or crochet hook perhaps and make some little gift for these anticipated blessed events. Although since Erika's late grandmother was pretty much my mentor of sorts in the knitting/crochet handcrafts arena, I'd be a bit worried about making something for her new baby cause my skills are no where near those her grandmother possessed! My Aunt Mary was an expert -and a whiz -at making all kinds of beautiful knitted items -especially so in the baby department! I had several hand-knitted sweaters that came from her nimble fingers for all three of my children and she had even knitted a fuzzy, furry boa scarf too for Maya before she became too ill to do any knitting anymore.

That's something though that I will have to give a lot of thought as well as special effort to if indeed I do try my hand at making some baby gifts in the near future.

It's snowing here now today -not a heavy, wet snow but rather the fine snow. I'm not a huge fan of snow because I hate when the roads get all slicked over from it but I do love to be able to be in my house, all warm and cozy and watch how pretty it is to see the snow falling and slowly accumulating too.

My son-in-law is enjoying the snowfall this afternoon now and he and his older son, Shane, have taken to the woods in hopes of bagging a nice deer today. And I'm hoping they do get one too because all of us here enjoy the benefits by having a full freezer then to make lots of good, nourishing meals with the venison for the rest of the winter ahead.

The son-in-law couldn't go hunting today though until this afternoon as he had to take his truck up to his own garage first thing this morning and fix the brakes on it as they went out on him last night on his way home from work when he had a little mishap and hit -are you ready for this -a BEAR -at the intersection of the road into town here and Route 53!

He said the bear appeared virtually out of no where and when he saw it, he stomped on the brakes so hard it blew the brake lining out on his truck! So, he had to go fix that in order to be able to go out in the woods with the truck this afternoon.

Sometimes, it really does come in handy having a mechanic in the family, doesn't it?

And now that I have my blog reading for the morning finished, have this post almost ready to go too, I'm going to swipe a couple of the freshly made cookies Mandy baked a little while ago, a nice hot cup of coffee too and then, mozey over to my recliner to pick up the red tablecloth I've been slaving over for the past six weeks or so in hopes of getting it finished in the very near future!

And with all of that done or in mind, I bid you all a God Jul!

The Push Is On

First, let me explain something. Because the time here is now 1:51 a.m., technically it is Saturday, December 5th, but anytime I refer to a day as "yesterday" in this post, I mean that as Thursday, December 3rd. Why? Because until I go to sleep and then wake up, it is not the day the calendar may say it is. Just my theory, my own way of time-keeping ya know.

Now, on to better things. Ha! That's a joke too cause it's been a kind of dry spell here with respect to good topics to talk/write about. But be that as it may, here goes.

Yesterday, after the power was restored, the internet also back up and running fine and dandy, Kate (the 17-year-old, soon to be turning 18 in another week) and I got crackin' and did some major cleaning in this old house!

I may have mentioned a bit about our stint as two "Merry Maids" -just slaving away in my last post but truthfully, I don't remember if I mentioned it or not.
But anyway, because the adults (and near-adults too) who live in this house tend to be of the pack-ratty variety, we had a whole lot of stuff that got tossed out during our cleaning binge.

One item I came across kind of puzzled me at first. It was a flat piece of a kind of pliable plastic with a backing on it that you could peel off and a sticky side was revealed. The top side was a pinkish shade and bumpy, and these bumps were in various sizes too. What the heck was this thing anyway? (If I'd have been thinking yesterday -instead of being so intent on getting anything I saw no earthly purpose for tossed into the trash can -I would have taken a picture of it, just so I could write about this weird looking thing and write about it. But I didn't so you'll have to try to picture this in your mind's eye if you can.

Finally, I asked Kate if she knew what it was and she said it was something you could cut the various sizes of these "bumps," peel the backing and tick it on your face or neck (arms or legs too I suppose) and it was supposed to look like scabs to make a more realistic Halloween-type costume for you that way.

Wonderful! Just what everyone would want to see, what anyone would surely need, huh? Something to put on your face to make it look like you needed a good acne treatment or some other kind of medical care, huh?

Considering that Kate didn't do any trick or treating this year -not even for the church youth group's party -and Maya dressed as a princess, Kurtis as Elmo, why was this item something someone in this house felt was a necessity anyway?

See what I mean about stuff appearing here and there being no earthly purpose for it?

But anyway, because we did get the downstairs of this old barn a good once-over and while it looks pretty decent now, I really should take the time to take some photos of it look all spiffy, ya know.

Kate and Mandy got the tree put up on Monday and then the trimming of it, Kate got a lot of that done on Tuesday. Yesterday, she put the finishing touches on it and it looks pretty neat.

Normally, we put the tree up in the living room -in front of the bow window or in the corner of the room by that window but this year -because we really have an over-abundance of furniture in the living room -thanks to Bill's great bidding skills at auctions and his bringing home a "new" (to us, anyway) living room suite about two months ago, we have a full size sofa, a love seat, matching chair plus two recliners -along with a bookcase, file cabinet, my desk with my computer and -can't forget this -the Hammond Organ which had belonged to my Dad's baby sister and who passed away a year ago this past April!

All of that -plus Kurt's pac'n'play, which is his bed until Mandy gets the kids' bedroom all completed and set up with beds, dressers and such -and even though the living room is pretty large (22x14 foot), there's no room to spare, that's for sure!

So, the decision was made then to put the tree up in the corner of the dining room, adjacent to the living room and it looks nice there. Kind of gives the room a bit of warmth I think.

Our friend, Joe -also referred to around here as "Precious" (a joke nickname he gave himself) came by on Sunday with a gift for the family. A simply gorgeous wreath he had made of fresh evergreens and the most beautiful trim with a big beautiful red bow on it! He's very creative and does a fantastic job when he makes some wreaths for the holiday season to give to some of his family and this year, he made this one for us. A gift we all really admire and very much appreciate. And yes, I will take some pics of it to share too -just as soon as we figure out how we are going to hang it on the front door and get it up in place there!

I was so busy with the cleaning yesterday, then the cooking of supper followed of course, by a nap after eating too that I didn't have any time to spend working on my current tablecloth project. Today, I did get a good bit of work done on it only to find out I didn't have enough floss on hand to finish this item! Boy, what a bummer that was. I was thinking either Mandy or I was going to have to make a trip to State College or Dubois -a 40-mile drive one-way -just to get one little skein of embroidery floss until an idea came to me.

My neighbor and good friend, Shirley, who lives a couple houses up the street from me and who also is pretty heavy into the embroidery stuff, might be worth while to call her and see if in her stash of floss she might possibly have a skein of the color I was needing. So I called her and she said she would look in her floss container. About a half-hour later, she called me back to say she had that color -not quite a full skein -but I could have it! Saved! Yes indeedy, Shirley saved the day for me in that respect! All I need to do is stop by her house and pick it up! Isn't it great when you have friends who help you out of a bind and really make your day nice and bright and merry, too?

And finally, because I had mentioned in an earlier post this week too a Swedish dish that my family and I really like and it had appealed to one of my blogger buddies, I'm including the recipe here in this post, for Swedish Panakaka -a baked custard-type item! So, for Sandi at Holding Patterns, this recipe is for you, my friend! (And for anyone else who'd like to give it a whirl too!) My recipe says you are to bake this at 350 for an hour and then, jack the temp up to 400 and bake it at that temp for 20 minutes longer. However, my friend Shirley -the one who came to my aid with the floss -says she bakes hers at 325 degrees for at least an hour -or until a knife or toothpick inserted in it comes out clean. Hers comes out very nice and even in color whereas mine always puffs way up while baking and the top gets very brown then too. Either way I suppose is right or okay though. So here's that recipe now folks!


a recipe given to my Mom (Hazel Eld Hill) from Elizabeth (Erickson) Werner, an old resident of the West Clymer area of Grassflat.

2 quarts milk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour
2 junket tablets
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs

Dissolve junket in 1 tablespoon of warm water.

Heat milk to lukewarm.

Beat eggs, flour, salt and sugar. Add junket to milk and mix all together.

Pour in greased pan and let stand till “set”. (I am not totally sure of what the term “Set” here means, but I usually just let this sit until the mixture seems to just settle a little bit.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Then, continue baking for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. –Bake until knife inserted comes out clean.

(I usually use a 13 x 9 glass baking dish when I make this but Mary Ann Erickson Eyerly often bakes this for church dinners and uses a deep bowl type casserole dish for her panakaka. –Either way, it is delicious! )

My family likes to eat Panakaka in various ways –hot, fresh out of the oven for a supper meal or cold , sliced and topped with fruit (hot or cold, fruit toppings are great on this). Also, we often take the slices of leftover Panakaka and brown it in butter and pour syrup on top of it then. It is truly a multi-purpose meal –use it for the main dish for a light supper, or for leftover-type suppers or breakfast or just a “between-meals” snack too!


And, God Jul too!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Town Circuitry

Brother! What a day it was yesterday -Thursday, December 3rd. Definitely a day to remember, that much is for sure.

While watching the 11 p.m. news on Wednesday night, I took note of the weather forecast for the overnight and heard the forecaster mention that some stormy weather was on its way to our vicinity and that it most likely would hit -most probably areas north of Interstate 80 the hardest -and that it probably would happen somewhere around 3 a.m. too.

And wow, was he ever right!

Along about 3:15 to 3:30 a.m., as I sat happily working on the same tablecloth project (trying really hard to work as fast as my not-so-nimble little fingers will let me) all of a sudden, I was in the dark!

Granted, I often function in the dark but that is a different kind of dark -as in my mind, ya know but last night I was literally sitting in total, pitch black darkness as the electricity had gone south on me and everyone else in this little village. Turns out it was that way for virtually every little town around these parts too though so I was in good company I guess you could say.

I sat there for a few minutes debating if I should get up and shuffle my way around the living room and the rest of the downstairs in that darkness to see if I could maybe track town a couple of candles. Problem with that idea though was I couldn't remember where Mandy might have stashed any of the big fat candles we usually have around here. That, plus the living room floor was quite littered with bunches of the kids toys and I really wasn't looking forward to trying to find my way and then step on some sharp toy, injuring perhaps a foot initially and who knows how many other body parts too in the off chance that something like that could also trip me and I'd fall and break a bone then for sure.

The cover of darkness though sure didn't stop the kittens from racing and chasing around the house. Up and down the steps they ran at what sounded like it had to be break-neck speeds and made one thing there was a whole herd of some kind of animal romping about for sure.

At one point as I sat there I heard a really loud noise -a crash-boom -come from upstairs. I also heard a tiny voice saying something too that sounded like "Boy, sure is dark" and at first I thought it was Kurtis talking to himself -which he does at times if he wakes up in the middle of the night. I braced myself figuring if it was him and if I was hearing things correctly then it probably would be just a matter of minutes before he would get frightened by it all and start wailing.

I waited -but no wailing. Quiet for a little bit and then, I heard -distinctly this time -someone pounding on a door upstairs and an impatient voice calling out, "Daddy? DAD! Something's wrong and it's all dark!"

Now I know at times Kate -the 17-year-old -can be a tad of an airhead but I figured heck, surely she realizes there is a storm outside cause you could hear the rain pelting down by then.

By that time, I decided I'd best try to find some candles if at all possible so I set up by shuffling my feet across the floor, figuring by doing that I wouldn't then step down hard on any sharp objects like oh, some matchbox cars maybe or worse, some of Maya's little Bratz dolls and those infernal detachable feet those things have!

Then I also noticed that apparently my eyes were adjusting to the blackness a bit and there was a little bit of moonlight kind of streaming into the living room so I could get my bearings a bit from that as to the furniture placement and not worry about stubbing a toe on the leg of the sofa or some other piece of furniture.

I made it to the kitchen, found one barely usable candle there and some matches and got it lit. This gave me just enough light then to find my way back to the living room and there, lo and behold, I found three candles on the shelf above my computer, got them lit and presto, magic, "Let there be light" ya know!

Here's where I really got brave though.

Because of the problems with my knee and ankle joints who often have minds of their own and don't like to function quite properly -especially not on stairs -I rarely venture up to the second floor of the house and only go down to the basement if I absolutely have to -as there is no rail along the cellar steps, they are rather narrow too, and the last thing I really want at any time is to take a header down any steps and end up with a broken leg, arm or hip, ya know!

But last night, I decided circumstances necessitated that I make my way upstairs.

What could impel me to do that?

I had taken a candle and gone out to my room to check on Maya, thinking if she was awake out there, alone, in the dark, she would probably be a bit frightened.

Imagine my surprise when I looked into my room, at the bed, covers pulled down to indicate she had been there but wasn't there now! The bed was completely empty of any small person there!

So, quite cautiously, candle in my left hand, right hand firmly gripping the banister rail, up the steps I went, slowly, very slowly as I sure as hell didn't want to have my knee act up and throw my balance off and fall down the steps with a lit, glass holder candle in it either, ya know.

When I got to the top of the steps -to the landing there -I discovered what had caused that loud "crash-boom" sound I'd heard earlier.

Because one of the cats we have here -Chino, to be precise -tends to camp out upstairs a lot of the time, Mandy had set up a second litter box at the end of the hall and it appeared to me that the cats (kittens, really) romping about up there had managed to slam into that litter box and upend it!

Wonderful! Now there's something you really don't want to encounter at any time -a litter box full of crapola -but there it was, right in front of me and all over the floor.

I managed to skirt around it without losing my balance and went on the check in the room Mandy's been painting and trying to get it ready for Maya and Kurtis to take up sleeping occupancy there sometime in the near future, thinking maybe Maya was up there and sound asleep but aside from all kinds of clothes belonging to the kids being in nice stacks around the room, there was no Maya.

So I checked in on Kate -in her room -and she was sound asleep in her bed with no little sister there with her.

Last resort, I lightly knocked on Mandy and Bill's door and called out to Mandy, asking if Maya was by any chance in there with them. And, yes she was!

Seems that little girl had made her way through the downstairs without bumping into the Christmas tree, tripping over any toys, knocking into Kurt's pac'n'play bed and managed to get upstairs -all in total black -pitch black -darkness!

Needless to say, I was amazed at her prowess in doing that!

So I told Mandy then that if she or Bill had to come downstairs at any time before the sun came up (figuring the power was going to be off at least 2-3 hours) that they should call downstairs to me and have me come to the foot of the steps with a lit candle so they could see to make their way down safely. Also, so they could see where the litter was spilled out all over the floor and not step in that mess too, ya know.

Then Mandy giggled and told me that Maya had just told her something. "Tell Gram I'm sorry for the mess but I knocked over the litter box!"

Okay -that mystery was then solved. And as I started back down the hall to the steps, Mandy called out that Maya said for me to please be careful that I didn't step in the cat's poo then too!

It was only a matter of perhaps about 5, maybe 10 minutes at most, that I heard people moving upstairs and slow, deliberate footsteps coming down the stairs. It was Mandy and Maya coming down because they both had to go to the bathroom (which is located on the first floor of the house) and they could see to find their way because I still had the candles lit and placed on the mantle above the fireplace.

After they came out of the bathroom, we learned the reason Maya had awakened was because, of all things, she had wet the bed -in my room, my bed! Lovely! Not.

And about that time, Kurtis did wake up -fussing, scared and only wanting his mother to tend to him, so we got Maya settled in to lay down on the loveseat, Mandy and Kurtis together on the sofa and I pushed the back of the recliner -my normal seat -so as to be able to stretch out and maybe catch a little bit of much needed shut-eye then!

When I woke up around 8 a.m., I happened to see the next-door neighbor's daughter hauling their garbage can up to the road for pick-up and since her Mom is a teacher at our school, I hollered out the bathroom window at her to see if they knew if the school was going to be on delay or would they be closed for the day. (Our phones here, by the way, both being of the cordless variety, don't work when the power is out so I was hoping somehow the neighbor had managed to learn something about the school's operational status for the day.

Yep. She informed me we were going to be on a two-hour delay.

Too late by that time to get Kate up to get ready for school since there would be no hot water for a shower and no power for her to use her special tools she needs to do her hair either, we settled in to wait for the power to be restored. Around 9 a.m., finally, the power came on and Mandy began to get Maya ready for school as her bus would be coming around 10 a.m. to pick her up.

She doesn't understand time yet -nor school delays either -so she began to obsess a bit about why hadn't she already got dressed and ready for school as she could tell by the amount of light outside that it was obviously around the time, or even later, for her to be on her bus and on her way to school already. But, finally 10 a.m. rolled around, the bus showed up and Mandy got her off to school then.

But that hour between 9 and 10 a.m. -after the power came back on -also saw it go out again, then come back on for a few minutes only to go out again -several times. Finally around 10 a.m., the power came back on and stayed on for at least 90 minutes before dying again but only briefly that time.

Mandy had made arrangements previously to go with her boss over to Bellefonte and State College so as to take Deb, her boss, to some auction house over there and also, to the various second-hand clothing places Mandy likes to haunt too so by 10:30, she had left to pick Deb up and they were on their way.

After getting Kurtis ready and out the door, on to his van and to school for the day, Kate had begun to pick up and straighten up the island in the kitchen as well as the round counter top that goes around the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Since she was busy with that and truthfully, the entire downstairs was in dire need of a good cleaning up, I kicked in gear and got toys picked up, papers tossed, the floors swept and then scrubbed too. Then I cleared off the top of what had been my old computer desk and pushed some living room furniture around to make room for the desk between the arm of the sofa and one of the two big radiators in the living room. Not the best arrangement possible for the furniture placement and certainly not an appearance that would win us a decorating award, but it was functional and got the old desk out of the archway between the living and dining rooms where it had been parked for several weeks since Bill had picked up a "new-to-me" desk at a household auction a few weeks ago.

Finally, by 2 p.m. I was ready to sit down, check my e-mail, read some blogs and such but when I did, I got a shock and a half in that the olde computer here (which isn't really old, having only had it for not quite two years) wouldn't work! Monitor wouldn't display a thing!!!

So I called a friend of ours who is pretty good about getting computers to come back to life and he came over to check things out. In the interim, I had called my internet provider to tell them all the lights on my cable box weren't coming on only to be told the one light that wasn't functioning was an indication that the computer and that cable box were not communicating.

The technician suggested I unplug and re-plug every thing on the back of the computer -a job I hate to do because inevitably, I forget which plug goes into which hole there ya know.

Well, I checked the plugs into the surge protector and everything there seemed to be working okay and had just started to check the plugs in the back of the computer when Bobby -our personal computer techie -showed up.

When he came in and as I was explaining my dilemma, I was finishing up with checking connectivity, etc., and turned the computer back on and surprise, surprise -the monitor came back to life.

Kind of like when you have a car that is making a strange noise and you take it to the mechanic and of course, the car refuses to make that strange noise for him then was how this made me feel with the computer! Apparently the appearance of the computer techie friend scared the computer into behaving properly! My theory there, anyway!

By that time it was close to 4 p.m. and another friend of ours called to say he was stopping by for coffee -which meant more delays in my getting some of the things I had wanted to do done! After he left, it was time to start supper and before you knew it, it was 8 p.m., time for the kids to get ready for bed!

Yeah, they fell asleep -one on the couch, one on the loveseat and I crash-landed too as I fell asleep for about an hour in, yes of course, my recliner!

Woke up in time to catch the last half of "The Office" -one of my favorite programs and after that, I started to try to wheedle down the number of blogs I had listed on my reader that had new and unread postings.

Between doing that, checking back and forth to my e-mail and facebook, I finally got everything under control then with the computer and that stuff around 2 a.m. -even managed to write a post and get that up too!

Now, here it is going on 3 a.m. and I see I have some new e-mail to check and after that, the morning newspaper from State College will have today's edition online so I'll have to read that and all this just means I lost the entire, freaking day to this stuff and didn't get to do any work on the darned tablecloth in the process!

But one good thing about how things played out for me is this. You see, the power lines in this little village are set up such that there are at least two different circuits that handle our needs and lucky me, the section of town where I live just happens to be on the circuitry that got fixed, up and functional first. Things could have, you see, been much worse as if I were living in the section of town called "Dobry Town" I'd have been without power till around 5 p.m. as that's what time those folks finally got electricity again!

I'd have been dead for sure if I'd have had to wait that many more hours before getting my first cup of coffee for the day, don't 'cha know!

I know - a long, boring story but that's the truth and that's how this one day in my life actually transpired!

I can hardly wait now till the freezing rains of winter come along and the power lines get knocked out yet again!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Speaking of Food...

Remember the old round many of us learned back in our younger days -in elementary or high school about the goose getting fat? Sure you do, don't 'cha?

"Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please to put a penny in the old man's hat."

And today, when we remember that song, how many of us are also making lists of what special items we have to buy so that we can make all kinds of cookies, breads, other special items, a big meal to organize for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and then, of course, the grand finale of this time of the year -New Year's Eve and again, special foods hit the table then too, don't they?

I think about my own list, pared down a good bit from previous years when I baked and baked and baked cookies and cookies and cookies. And then, some more cookies after that! No, not all of those were for just my family and me because I always used to bake oodles of cookies and take them in to share with my co-workers at one place where I used to work.

But just thinking about even the more limited menu and cookie prep I do these days still makes me think I should prepare a bit by finding the best weight loss pill ever to counteract against all the extra caloric intake involved in munching just a few of those goodies!

I realize too that my extra, unwanted, unneeded too, weight comes from overeating yes, but also because of other factors that kind of put me into a life style that is way too sedentary. It would help a lot, I'm sure, if I were able to move around a bit more too.

Now that we have the lovely little mutt living here and he needs to be taken out several times a day, perhaps if I concentrate on doing that more, walking him maybe just a few feet more each day too, it would be beneficial to me in the weight department.

I'm sure a little exercise as mild as walking a little dog -and that is what he is -a smallish dog -wouldn't tax my system all that much now, would it?

Sounds like a way I should ease into as I begin preparations for our Christmas celebration and all the food prep that goes with that.

It could serve to make it all a very Gud Jul celebration for me and to have a slightly healthier body then too!

Food For Thought

Last night, Mandy and I attended the monthly meeting of the WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) group of our church for the Christmas/December meeting and "pot luck" dinner. I can't remember off-hand now how many were present -11 or 12 of us (not that many so I should be able to remember the exact count, but I don't -senior moment there, ya know.)

It was a very nice meeting -quite brief as far as the meeting itself goes -but a very nice, and quite delicious meal, that much is for sure! Chicken divan, another chicken/vegetable casserole, pork barbeque sandwiches, a baked bean casserole along the lines of "Cowboy" beans, brownies, fruit cake, jello, banana split cake and my neighbor and good friend, Shirley, had brought a special Swedish food item called "panakaka". This is not a really flavorful dish, actually it is a somewhat bland baked custard, but in our church circle, it is very much a favorite item at almost all pot luck dinners. I make it on occasion for my family and they all like it -a lot -and I love it. Traditionally, if one is to do this right, it is supposed to be served with a healthy serving of lingonberries over it but last night, as there were no lingonberries available, I put a nice big helping of some homemade cranberry sauce on mine and trust me when I tell you this, it was delicious!

I've been working my little fingers practically to the bone, trying to complete the 50x50 tablecloth I've been working on for about six weeks now. I'm getting close to finishing it and that is quite a relief. The cloth is a red cotton/polyester type blend fabric and in the center there are four poinsettias, with a poinsettia in each outer corner; a ribbon-type design around the outer edges too with a small "bouquet" in the center along each outside edge of white blossoms -with gold trim around them. A lot of satin stitching in this piece -and I do mean a LOT! But the most difficult part of the whole piece is that a lot of the flowers have centers that are done with gold filament thread and that ribbon edging along the sides? Well all of that is also outlined with the blasted gold filament thread too! And, for the record here, let me just say that I try to avoid -like the freaking plague -anything that requires using either gold (or silver) filament thread because it is an absolute bear to work with!

So anyway, needless to say, I am very happy that I am closing in on finishing this piece fairly soon -hopefully by this Sunday anyway!

Also, last night at our meeting, each person attending was to bring a gift suitable for a child (up to age 18) -either clothing or a toy -new, unwrapped and for approximately $10 in value. Mandy and I took six of the little tee shirts I purchased last Friday in my Black Friday shopping expedition as our gift(s). The items given will all then be turned over to a gift program in a nearby town (I think it is sponsored by the YMCA there but it may be through another church. I'm not positive which but at any rate, it's a good program and there were many things given that will help some families in the region who are having a hard time providing basics, much less Christmas gifts, to the young folks.

But the thing I really wanted to share tonight is something I got in my e-mail this morning from my dear cousin, Ruth Ann -down in Austin, Texas. This is one of those "forwards," but I really liked this one -liked it a lot, as a matter of fact. And I do think the words and message it contains are very good in the "food for thought" department. Maybe I feel that way because it is very much the way I think about the thoughts presented in it.

But read it, if you will please, and then give me your thoughts on any or all areas mentioned.

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :



Personally, I prefer to say "Merry Christmas" but hearing someone say "Seasons Greetings" or, "Happy Holidays" isn't going to ruin my day nor do I think the person extending a greeting like that is going to rot in a really warm place someday either. I also have always enjoyed seeing Christmas lights, a big special tree all trimmed too in front of the courthouse in our county seat, as well as the nativity scene too. But I also recognize that not everyone around me in my little corner of the world is going to appreciate the same things I do either so, to keep peace for those individuals -who have rights just as I do -I do understand why many places opt to omit things like this considered to be based on the Christian religion. And, if that is something I feel so strongly about, then I could -and then should -have my own decorations at my home that reflect my sentiments there.

Those things are not what this beautiful holiday is ALL about anyway -they are just images -sometimes religious yes, sometimes things that actually have their origins elsewhere but which people over the centuries have incorporated as part of the meaning of Christmas. Nice traditions for those of us who believe in that but they are not what I absolutely must have to make my own celebration complete.

Actually, considering the bickering that sometimes accompanies displays, religious music and such at this time of year, I consider that to be a total detraction -the contradictions, that is -and chose to focus elsewhere than on those elements then.

Just a little of my thoughts with respect to the message in that forward and maybe someone will read it and think there are some good points to ponder.

Actually, since part of my ethnic background is Swedish (the other half is Scottish), the traditional greeting usually exchanged between members of my extended family is the Swedish (and this is not going to be technically correct because I don't know how to get the little marks over the letters as is done in the Swedish language) expression "Gud Jul."

And that is what I am hoping my family and I will have and I'm extending that wish to each and everyone of you reading this piece too!