Saturday, November 28, 2009

Confusion Reigns Supreme!

In case you haven't already gathered this from reading my blog, there are times when I confuse easily. Okay -that's a bit of an understatement, my kids would say (as would a lot of others, I'm sure.)

It is very easy to confuse me, not just a little bit, but to the max! Math can sometimes boggle my mind, depending on what the application being used might be. Economics -in particular micro stuff (as in the most dreadful class ever that I took in college, got a D in it and changed my major because of it) is yet another thing that rattles me -a lot. I had something else in my mind as I was typing that last sentence, but by the time I got to this sentence and went to write about the other thing that confuses me a lot, I had forgotten what it was. (And things like that do a royal number on confusing me too, as you can see.)

Science, formulas, physiology (and remembering body part, their functions, etc) can throw me for a hell of a loop too. I don't know why but I could never get it straight in my mind about diabetes, the pancreas, insulin and that stuff -so lets hope I never develop that disease cause I am quite sure I would go over the edge trying to figure out if I need to eat or drink something to avert a diabetic reaction of some type or other.

Certain forms pertaining to accounting confuse me too. Why, when you use a bank card, do you have to check whether you want the application to be a debit or a credit? Well, I know if I opt for the debit, it will require I use my pin number and I have never made a transaction in all the years I have had my bank card where I had to supply my pin number so if I had to do that now, I'd be screwed cause I don't remember what mine is. I know too if I would use my bank card and could select the debit feature, the transaction would charge me a fee whereas if I select the credit feature, it doesn't charge my account.

What's confusing about those two things to me is that in my mind, if you debit something, you are subtracting and if you credit something, you are adding but in the case of my lovely bank card, both transaction mean subtraction but the debit one means subtract more!

Now if you read my post yesterday, you know that I went Christmas shopping and when I got home, I realized that I had purchased two items - a sweater for Maya and a tee shirt for Kurtis that I had already purchased, oh a month or so back for each of the kids. Yep. Same identical sweater -manufacturer, color, size and with the tee shirt, same color, size and design on the front of it too! I had also purchased two packs of training pants for Kurtis -the cute little ones that are considered, I guess, to be "designer" stuff because the one pack of three are from the movie "Cars" and have Lightning McQueen on them and the other pack are all Spider Man stuff. I also purchased two items -to be gifts for certain family members - that I thought were priced at either $11.99 or $12.99 but somehow, I had ended up getting charged $14.38 for each of those things.

And then, upon checking further on my reciepts, I got really confused because of the way their scanner equipment reads an item and applies discounts too.

So today, Mandy, Kurt and I went back over to Clearfield so I could take the items I had purchased in duplicate and either exchange them for something else or have a credit applied to my charge account and also, to get the price corrected on the other two gift items to reflect $12 something instead of $14.38 each.

As I strolled back to the service desk, I went by the area where they had this huge display of the items I had been overcharged for and saw that the sale price was $12.88. (I hadn't even looked at what the "regular" price on those items is until today when I saw the non-sale price was $32.00 per set. WOW! I sure was glad I had found them at the sale price, ya know cause there is no way in hell I would ever pay $32 for one set of these items!

At the service desk, the clerk came up to assist me and I explained my senility factors had set in and that I had unwittingly purchased two sweaters alike and two tee shirts alike as well and also, my daughter didn't want the training pants I had bought for my grandson, so could I please take care of that? Sure, no problem she had said and I plunked my bag on the counter only to discover I had inadvertently grabbed the bag containing six tee shirts for little boys, intended for a gift program for needy children. RATS! (Actually, I didn't say that. My sailor's vocabulary slipped through when I saw that mistake and I said "Oh Shit! I picked up the wrong darned bag!" Oh well, no big deal as Mandy can bring them over next week and get them exchanged or a credit applied to my charge account. Whatever, ya know.

So I then told the clerk about the two items for which I had been overcharged.

She looked at them, looked at my receipt, dug out their sales flyer and announced to me that those two items were not the items shown in the flyer and that they actually should have been charged to me at $14.38 per pair. Hmmm. Why then I asked, is the this huge display out front with oodles more of these items loaded on there and a sign that says they are $12.88 per pair?

She went out and looked, came back and said yes, the sign does say that but still and all, these items shouldn't be pricing out as $12.88 but rather $14.38.

Excuse me but if that's the case then all those things shouldn't be displayed together with the one sign that says $12.88, should it?

She went and got her supervisor to "handle" me then. They had a little discussion about the price issue there and decided that yes, I could actually get them for the $12.88 price and they would give me a $3.00 credit to my charge account to reflect that correction.

Do you know what they have to do to post a credit like that?

They have to do a refund of the item at the original non-sale price, then, the do a purchase of the item at the original non-sale price and applied not one but three different discounts against the item and it ended up that my price was not $12.88 that I was being charged but rather $8.27 per pair! I like their math, but that was just wrong and I wasn't really there trying to rip the company off -just trying to take advantage of the sale price I had seen advertised and just apply a $3.00 credit to my account then, will you please?

The rest of my confusion over my purchases last night came about because the cashier mentioned to me, since I had a rather large amount of items I was buying, that she could ring up a certain number of them on one slip and if it was over a specific amount (I think it was purchase over $125 and you got $25 off and over $75, you got $15 off) but it couldn't include all your purchases on just one slip -and she'd have to ring up two separate slips. Well, okay now. I'm all for saving $25 sure and if I can save $15 more on top of that, well bring it on, ya know. So that's how she rang up my purchases -two slips with a total discount to me of $40 but $25 on one slip and $15 on the other.

The lady back at the service desk then informed me that that had been handled incorrectly and I wasn't eligible for a $40 discount. Yeah -well, don't bitch at me about what your employee offered to do for me cause I didn't know about that in the first place.

Have you ever tried to interpret these cash register slips and how to figure out what the original price was, then what the sale price to you was and after that, what your "net" price -the bottom line to you, what your are paying -actually is?

Remember, I said at the beginning how I confuse easily well, this whole deal had me totally discombobulated.

Add to that there is yet another area that confuses me quite easily too. And this one is probably one of the most frustrating for me to cope with. If I am talking to someone, trying to explain something and if that person starts bombarding me with questions or just sentences somewhat about the topic at hand or worse yet, about things totally unrelated to where my mind is, I really get lost and I do it at warp speed then too!

And when I am agitated to start with and trying to put on a calm front though, and I utter 5-10 words and then the other person starts saying to me -in rapid speech too -that no, no, this is wrong, this is how it is done. this is this is that, etc., they best look out because it is liable to bring out utterances from me that some folks might consider very offensive (as in blue vocabulary ya know), it will make my voice (which is loud enough usually on a normal basis) get louder, my blood pressure will increase then too, I'm sure, and it will also make me even more strongly convinced that I am right and you are wrong too! Not a good scene, not at all!

Now if in the beginning, she or the other clerk -upon seeing that the items I bought that were "overcharged" to me had supposedly been incorrectly displayed by the sale sign, if she had just said, okay, an error, not your fault, you should have your account credited to the tune of $3.00, I would have accepted that and disappeared. But by first making me feel that I had tried to pull a fast one on them, telling them I bought this and it was really that, ya know, then doing a credit that ended up charging me not the $12.88 for each pair of the sale item but rather $8.27, which was an incorrect price for sure, it wouldn't have made me that much more determined then to show her the error of her way and how she was costing the company $4 more per each item I was purchasing then too!

And that is what made me say to her that seeing this credit transaction -which is incorrect and though it is in my favor and I will take it, it also makes me realize exactly why so many companies are losing money these days!
Kind of like the jokes we all have seen, I'm sure, about the people who run cash registers but don't have a clue how to give change unless the machine flat out tells them what the change should be for the bill tendered!

So anyway - that was my day today!

Oh the drama. Oh how I felt like I was going cross-eyed too, looking at those items on the receipt, that small print, this discount, that discount, another discount and getting confused and overwhelmed more and more by the minute!

Now Mandy and I are wondering when she takes the items I purchased in duplicate, by accident (by senility factoring in there, LOL) will they charge my account back by the original price per item, then the current sale price, then take 2-3 discounts on that too, to come up with what figure to credit my account with?

Just wondering. Wouldn't you?

Happy Shopping though!

Done, Done and DONE!

I did it! First time ever but I went shopping on Black Friday!

No, I didn't get up and go stand (or sit or sleep) in line in the wee hours of the morning although I could have done that as I was still awake when the Black Friday sales were just beginning. Nope. I waited till about 6:30 p.m. Friday night and hit the road to Clearfield. Over there, I shopped at J.C. Penney's, Ollie's and good old Walmart.

I got some pretty decent deals too although there's a few things I'm gonna have to correct from my shopping Friday evening.

First off, there's the little matter about a sweater I bought for Mandy and a tee shirt I got for Kurtis. Seems I must really love those two particular items as Mandy pointed out to me that I had already bought a sweater like the one I picked out tonight for Mandy -a month or two back -and I had also bought the same tee shirt for Kurtis that I bought tonight as well! Talk about being forgetful, huh? Don't think I've ever done that before. have you?

So today now, Mandy and I are going to have to make a return trip to Clearfield -to J.C. Penney's - so I can return those two shirts as well as the two sets of training pants I got for Kurtis but Mandy wants me to take them back and get a credit for them as she felt they weren't that great a price and she can get them for much less elsewhere. That doesn't surprise me though. Not just that Penney's prices are more than a lot of place but also, Mandy it doesn't surprise me in the least that Mandy would know what places carry the same quality and for a lot less money.

When we do go to Penney's, I'm also going to have the sales clerk explain my receipt to me.

When I shop, I tend to try to keep a running tally in my head of how much money is involved in what I like, what I decide ultimately that I am going to buy. Know what I mean?

Well, tonight when I got to the checkout, the clerk suggested that I let her ring up my sales as two separate purchases because if she did it that way, she could actually apply two separate discounts then to my purchases.

So I figured okay, sounds like a good plan to me. Except when I got home and was looking at my receipt for my purchases (on my card, of course) something didn't sit quite right.

So, I sat down and wrote up everything I had purchased and entered the price each item was on sale for and then tallied it all up. Seems that my purchases came about 60 cents less than what I was billed! And that was without applying the two discounts to my purchases too. How could that be?

Near as I could tell -if I had the sales figures correct (and I'm pretty darned sure I did because that is one thing I look at -the sale price -before I touch the item, think about the purchase and then, make a decision. According to the total I got, I should have been billed either $196.05 -total -or maybe $198.05 -there is also some question in my mind about two items I purchased that were on sale -I thought for $11.99 but may have been $12.99 each but on my bill/receipt, it says I was charged $14.38 each for those items. Hmmm. Something doesn't seem right in that but that's only $2.00 total so, if they are wrong or I am, I'm not going to argue that point.

However, the clerk had rung up two slips -with the first one coming to just over $125 in purchases and the second then was just over $75 for the rest of the stuff. By doing it that way, she then gave me a 25 percent discount on the first slip and a 15 percent discount on the second -or so she said. Well, the way I figure it -if I am correct and understanding all this "high finance" there, then my first slip should have been for around $94 bucks and the second, should have been for about $62 -for a grand total then being billed to my card of about $156 instead of the $198 I was billed. Sound right to you?

Well at any rate, I will find out later today if I am right or not and if so, it will be nice to have a credit of over $40 -or at least $40, if the discount was $25 and $15 rather than the percentage -taken off my bill! If I am right, it is definitely worth my quibbling with them about it too.


But anyway, with what things I have purchased previously with the intent of this or that being a gift for this kid, this grandchild, etc., and what I purchased tonight, I got gifts for 13 people For about $300 total! And that isn't just one gift per person either but several things for each of the grandkids as well as my children, the son-in-law, older daughter's fiance and my son's girlfriend and her daughter too! Sure, I could have gotten by with getting one present per individual and only spent maybe between $130 and $180 -at $10-15 per person, but that always makes it look a bit too bare to me.

I won't say what I got everyone but some of the gifts I'm hoping everyone has a good sense of humor come time to open presents! All are useful items -except two toys I purchased. One each for Maya and Kurtis and by doing that, I broke my own cardinal rule that I won't buy toys for the grandkids for Christmas mainly because they all have way more of those than they need already and I'm already tired from picking those up after Maya and Kurt!

Mandy beats my shopping hands down though -for the little ones -because she does a lot of her Christmas shopping for them year-round (well I do that too) but she also shops at Goodwill, yard sales and also, a very nice children's consignment shop over in State College. Her theory there is as long as the clothes look like new, Maya nor Kurt will ever know the difference that they were actually "gently used" and not brand-spanking new items.

Right? Well, I agree with her theory there, that's for sure!

So now, I have all the items packed up in boxes and safely hidden away till it is time to do the wrapping of them. (Oh and before I forget, I also purchased two gifts -one from me, one from Mandy -to take to the pot lucky Christmas meeting and dinner of our Women's Group at church and these are to be given to needy children in the area! We are supposed to bring either clothing or toys, unwrapped, and not spend more than $10 for the gift. So, what I did there was select tee shirts for little boys -regularly priced at $0.99 each but on sale for $2.99 each todayand I got three shirts from me; 3 from Mandy -for around $9 or so. The organization that distributes the gifts can then, if they wish, take 1 shirt and combine it maybe with a pair of pants or even a toy, someone else may have donated to make for a nice gift for a little boy that way! Or they can just package it up as three shirts for one child. Whatever!

When I got home and was gathering up the other stuff I had purchased and had stashed away, I couldn't find one of the gifts I had for my older daughter so I then had to go on a search and destroy mission here to find that present and put it with the box intended to be wrapped for her, her fiance and my oldest grandson.

Boy, sometimes this forgetfulness really can be a royal pain in the old dupa ya know!

Anyway -I'm happy that I have all my shopping done and that I finally experienced Black Friday shopping as well!

I have to say that the three stores I was in -none of them were jammed with shoppers or anything like that and I had no problems finding a parking space at any of those stores either.

And, I sure as Hell didn't have to stand outside in the cold for a long,long time, waiting to be let inside to go shopping either!

And now, if I want to get up in the morning in time to be able to go back there with Mandy to make the couple of exchanges I need to make and get my bill explained fully to me, I better stop writing now while I'm ahead.


Yeah, you know I'm right, don't 'cha?

Happy shopping to everyone and to all a good night!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bring It On!

What better day in the entire year that today to take advantage of doing an "Only the Good" post! Right? Shelly Tucker over at This Eclectic Life set this in motion quite some time ago now and initially, it was supposed to be a Friday post, as in "Only the Good Friday" but she recently changed that to something that could be done whenever anyone wanted to write about the good things that come into our lives.

Thanksgiving Day has to be the ultimate day for thinking about and acknowledging all the good things we have, don't you agree?

In no particular order, I'm gonna try to list the many, many things that are good in my life. Some things are even better than good -they're GREAT!

I was quite fortunate to have been blessed with three beautiful children. Mine aren't little kids anymore as they range in age from 33 to 42 -sorts of dates me right there, huh, but I have to say they are the best ever! Carrie is my favorite because she is the oldest. Clate, of course, is my favorite since he is my only son and Mandy -well, she's my favorite because she's the "end of the line" -my youngest, my baby! That's a family thing that began when my son was in the Army, stationed over in Hungary as part of the support troops during the Bosnia conflicts, and when he would write letters to us back home, he would put up in the return address "Favorite Son" instead of his name there and it just stuck then to refer to each of my kids and my "favorite" whatever that person's standing is in the family structure.

One of the good things -really one of the best -that has come from my children is that regardless of what we went through when they were growing up -some pretty hard times now and then, we've managed to grow even closer through the years. And somehow too, they managed to grow into some wonderful young adults along the way even though the potential was always really high for them to veer off and grow up to be in trouble in oh, so many ways. Being a single parent is no picnic but growing up in a home with only one parent isn't an easy thing at all for the children involved so I count the fact that mine are all productive citizens today, each in different ways, but they are caring, concerned adults now, empathetic and loving in the right ways.

That's a pretty darned good thing, I'd say.

And my daughters have also blessed me beyond my wildest dreams too with the three beautiful young people who are my grandchildren. Alex -who is 12, is one of the most handsome young men around, a very good student, working on his musical aptitude with his trumpet lessons (when he decides to obey his Mom and practice that trumpet! (Yes, Alex -it's important that you follow through with the practice and work your way up, acquiring more skill as you do that with that instrument!) The perseverance needed to practice learning any musical instrument actually will help you in ways you never could realize today in your years to come. He and I have a pact about gifts for him -birthday, Christmas -which really makes me very happy. I hate to buy him toys because he -being an only child -probably has received almost every known toy for kids in each and every age group over the years and I don't like to buy him clothes either because I never have a clue as to what size he wears, what styles, colors, etc., that he likes so to make my shopping easier, and because he LOVES to read, he sends me messages as to which type of books he likes or tells me specific authors and titles and then, I try to find him reading materials in those areas. I really LOVE having a grandchild who loves books and reading pretty much the same way I do! Reading is truly fundamental to learning just about anything that comes down the pike in life and it is also such an enjoyable thing too. As my ex-husband and I always told Alex's mother, if you like to read, you can take a trip around the world and do it all in the warmth and comfort of a cozy chair! She didn't believe us 30 plus years ago when we told her that, but she does now and Alex -well I think he figured out early-on that reading is enjoyable and satisfying in so many ways. That is really a very good think and yes, his pleasure in reading is something for which I am very thankful.

And then there are Kurtis and Maya -Mandy's two youngsters -who take Grammy on a ride down so many paths, not just daily but often hourly and even by the minute as they change their moods and likes/dislikes often at the drop of a hat. So they keep me active -physically and mentally, as I try to keep them on the straight and narrow by keeping one step ahead of them when I can.

Both Kurtis and Maya are autistic -as I have mentioned about them here many times before. Some people, upon learning this about my grandchildren, react with various emotions. Many offer sympathy to me, to my daughter -their mother -thinking this is such a terrible disorder and to have two children who are both affected, why how can one possibly manage to deal with them and not be overwhelmed by the problems they may have. But I see both of them in a completely different light as to me, they are the greatest! I am truly very, very blessed to have them in my life and they provide motivation for me to keep going -even when the going gets a bit rough. And yes, at times, it can be frustrating but most of the frustrations of dealing with these two aren't all that much different than what one deals with in trying to raise two small children who are considered to be "normal" -whatever the heck normal may be, ya know! They are the light of my life, my reason to keep pushing forward, doing what I can for them or to help their Mother wherever/whenever I can that way. With lots of therapy -behavior, occupational, speech and play -they have both come a long, long way and are continuing to do so too.

Earlier tonight, as I was trying to fix some of the special dishes associated with a Thanksgiving feast -baking bread, pies, making the dressing for the turkey and getting that into the oven to begin cooking, the two little ones were on a roll, each I think trying to find a way to drive me as close to insane as possible. While I worked in the kitchen, they raced and chased around the house, messing up many things by leaving a trail of toys scattered about and both of them decided tonight would be a good night for them to showcase their own musical abilities too by singing their own versions of "Jingle Bells" over and over and over again for about two hours solid. Yeah, I was about ready to tear my hair out and am hoping I don't have to listen to that Christmas song again at least not during this Christmas season. But then I think and remember that just a year ago, this would not have been something happening with them, here. A year ago, Kurt had no words -absolutely no vocabulary whatsoever and a year ago, Maya couldn't be bothered trying to even think about playing with her little brother.

Yep, as that saying goes -"You've come a long way, Baby" sure is the truth for them -and for me -and it is awesome to watch them as they continue to learn more and more each and every day. A darned good thing for sure and definitely one of the biggest blessings in my life today.

It certainly was a good thing too that I was blessed with some of the best, nicest, funniest too at times, people a person could want with the family and friends I had growing up, as a young adult and I am so fortunate that I still have many of those people in my life to this day.

I'm thankful for the closeness of friends I've had since childhood -seeing some of those who are still walking around on the planet after so many years and knowing the ties of having grown up together along this little street in this tiny village are still there and are doing their job of binding us still today, again and again. I hope that is the kind of thing my grandchildren will know now and in the future too, long after I am gone, that they will have not just family but many, many great friends to have shared their lives with along the way.

I'm thankful that well over a hundred years ago, two couples from two different lands, made the decision to move their families from what was known and familiar and comfortable to them, leaving their own family and friends behind in Sweden and Scotland to come to this vast and beautiful land of opportunity. From them, through DNA, I am here now, a compilation of those couples of their good traits and yes, a few that maybe I'd be better off without too -like the stubborn streak I just had to pull from all four trees and which daughter Mandy also apparently picked up that trait too. Yeah, there are other things I inherited from my ancestors too I suppose but that stubborn streak -boy, it's the one that often has put me in a good bit of hot water over the years but since I'm still here, still kicking, I'd say then that must be a pretty good thing after all.

I'm thankful too because I live in this country that I have so many freedoms that so many around the world don't have now and perhaps they never will experience the joy of being able to vote, to have freedom of speech, free will in many, many aspects. That's not simply a good thing, it's a wonderful gift each of us here has and one that often we forget how fortunate we are.

I'm thankful that regardless of how rough the economic scene may be today, I have a home -a roof over my head -with heat, running water, stove, microwave, washer, dryer, indoor plumbing in the form of that room called the bathroom, a television to watch programs I enjoy, programs that show me other cultures, countries and such too and teach me then a little more of how much there is in my life for which I should be more than just a little bit thankful.

I should give thanks much more often than I do for the people who worked to teach me the basic skills of "reading, writing and arithmetic" many years ago. I am thankful for the schools and teachers I had then, but sure didn't do much to acknowledge how important those folks were to me for what they tried their best to impart to me. All things considered, for a small community, little schools, tight (very tight budgets back then) I think I came away from their hands knowing and understanding most of what they taught me then.

I'm thankful too that although for the past six years I found myself unable to work any longer that we have this system here called Social Security and I was able to be at least semi-independent then through a check I receive each and every month now. Our system may have its flaws here and there, but overall, it does what it was intended to do for people old enough to retire or those, like myself, no longer physically able to go out and put in those hours towards a means of support.

Although I have had some health concerns over the past six, almost seven years now, I am very, very thankful for every day that dawns and finds me still able to pull myself up out of bed each day. The joints may be stiff, achy as all get out; I may have issues during the day that are unpleasant, sometimes very painful, but you know what, I'm thankful I can still move at all. I'm thankful for those aches and pains too because that means I'm still functioning, here, able to enjoy my family and friends, food that is more than enough, my freedoms that allow me to have this life in this place, on this day and hopefully, for a goodly number of days -and years -more too!

So many, many good things do exist in my life -too many to even begin to think of all of them and acknowledge each and everyone one, but I know they are with me and for all of those things, those good things (and even those not always so great) I am now, always will be, eternally thankful.

And now, here's hoping I can convince Kurtis that it would really be a very good thing and one I will give lots and lots of thanks for too -if he will please go back to bed, back to sleep so old Grammy J here can go get a little bit of shut-eye too!

And finally, I am so thankful for this piece of equipment that my fingers are clicking away on, putting some of my little thoughts into a big thank you for this computer, for being able to have this little blog and the folks I have come to know and appreciate for the past three years now. Thank you for coming by, for reading what I ramble about, for commenting and giving me encouragement, laughter and love for those I know vicariously though it may be through the good old internet!

You rank right up there with my family and friends near me for giving me the incentive to keep going too!

Now, let's all enjoy the day - great food, football or whatever things are of interest to all of us -and be very, very thankful that we have the opportunity to have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up, Down - All Around

That's been me today -and over the past few days too. I've been busy, running around, cooking a bit, more embroidery work on the current project and running around some more. And my emotions too have been running the gamut in the process as well.

Two weeks ago, I was so angry, frustrated, if I'd had the chance, maybe I would have jumped at it and strangled a certain male member of the household. SIL -thy name is moron! And boy, for almost that entire week, that's really the exact word I felt described him best!

I do lean very strongly on the sarcastic side -just saying in case you are misreading some of my posts so that is clarified now, ya know. Because a little over a year ago when the SIL (aka moron) decided he wanted to go into business for himself and operate his own auto repair business, he referred to himself then as being a "Self-employed, professional business man."

Okay, you want the name, then play the game, son!

It's pretty much a given that starting out in a business of your own, it's probably going to be some tough economic sledding for a good while until you get your footing, get a bit of a clientele established, etc. Right?

Well -in my opinion -one of the first things you do is establish a set routine -at least, of sorts. SIL apparently doesn't believe in that. Even though the sign on the door to the office at his garage says his hours there are from 8:30 a.m until 5 p.m., it is a rare day that he arrives there even close to 8:30 a.m. Even if he does manage to get up when his alarm clock goes off shortly before 7 a.m., and even if he doesn't park his scrawny butt IN MY RECLINER for only an hour, holding that one cup of coffee, taking maybe a sip of it every ten minutes (if that) and then gets dressed to leave, 8:45-9 a.m. is probably the earliest he's ever arrived at said garage. Usually it is more likely to be 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. before he is at the shop and ready to begin thinking about work.

The hours he sets up but doesn't keep, is but one of many irritants I have with this whole situation these days.

He has a friend who apparently started to hang out at the garage with him and apparently is capable of doing or helping with some easy mechanical-type tasks involved in automotitve work. And two weeks ago, SIL announced to Mandy and me that he thinks he has figured out a way to resolve this issue of opening the garage for business at 8:30 a.m.

Simple. He will have this friend come in at 8:30 and he can then work till oh, maybe as late as 4 p.m. and then, SIL will continue his timetable of arriving anywhere between 10 a.. and noonish -if he's lucky.

However, Mandy asked him well how are you going to reimburse this friend-guy anyway. To which is answer was "Well, he won't want much." Hmmm. Unless I were independently very wealthy and really, really, really absolutely LOVED doing a particular job, be damned if I would be willing to do anything for 30 hours or so every week for "not much money," would you? I didn't thnk so!

But what really sucks about this notion is the fact that SIL -aka the moron -hasn't had enough income after paying his rent and operating expenses at said garage for the past 2-3 months to bring home any "profit" to turn over to Mandy for household operating expenses.

And yet, here he is figuring he can operate this business by paying this guy "something" (but not much, of course) but he can't afford to pay himself and thus support his own upkeep much less also his family's! Incredible but true that he is, yes, this insane!

Frustrated, angry -FURIOUS -yeah, to name a few things that I am, have been, over this situation.

Last night, a little after 9 p.m. -kids were both in bed and asleep and SIL was here when Mandy asked if I'd like to go out for a bit, down to the establishment where she works two days a week for a cold beer. Sounded like a bit of a respite to me and quite a change of scenery, for sure, so away we went. SIL had to call to check on her, of course, at least twice while we were there. The last call she said he was ticked off. Oh well, too bad, so sad! We weren't doing anything out of line, just enjoying a brew, talking with her boss -the lady who owns the place -and my son's girlfriend was there with us too. And, after the boss closed the place, cleaned up, mopped the floors and such, we decided to stop at the local truckstop then for "breakfast" before coming home. Nothing bad in that -just more opportunity to talk, to joke, to laugh -to get away from the home frustrations at times is a good thing, isn't it?

We were home by a little after 1 a.m. so that wasn't all that late either and by then, the SIL was in bed, fast asleep too.

Mandy was up by 7:15 to get Maya ready for school and I was up then too. SIL -still sound asleep with that freaking alarm clock still blasting out every 10 minutes or sn with the stupid snooze alarm. Finally, about 9:30, the friend who is the garage opener, ya know, called to talk to SIL and Mandy took the phone up to him and woke him up. It was after that call that he finally meandered downstairs, got his cup of coffee and began the two-hour (at least) perching on the sofa, coffee in hand, sipping a teensy drop or two every 10 minutes uor so for at least the next two hours!

Mandy had to leave around 10:30 -taking Kurtis with her -as she had an appointment with his behavior specialist to do an eval for him and then, she had a doctor's appointment at 2 p.m. in State College, so was taking Kurtis (and his TSS) with her to that as I had to be out at church by 11 a.m. this morning to meet up with a lady from church (and very good friend too) so we could load her big old SUV up with frozen turkeys and bags and bags of groceries we had set up yesterday to deliver to folks in the area who were in need -for whatever reason -of a little hand-up for Thanksgiving.

Before Mandy left though, she gave SIL some last instructions and the very last thing she told hm was that he would have to put Sammy, the dog, in his crate while we were all going to be out of the house. Generally, Sammy is pretty well behaved -while we are all here -but this home is still fairly new to him and he still has the inclination of a puppy now and again to try to chew so to be on the safe side, when Mandy and I are both going to be out of the house for more than 15-20 minutes, we put him in the crate for safekeeping.

I left about 10:40 to meet the lady at church along with Pastor Carrie and a young man who was going to help with the delivery of these Thanksgiving care packages. We delivered 15 packages-my lady friend and I and Pastor Carrie and her driver delivered 7 or 8 packages. I got back home around 3 p.m. -so I could be here to get Maya off her bus -and when I pulled up in front of the house, the sight that awaited me really got my dander up even more, with respect to the MORON SIL!

There, sitting in front of the house, was the crate - out in the open with little Sammy penned up in it. No room to turn around, to get really comfortable, no snuggly little towell or blanket for him -no food, no water. No. NOTHING!

I was really infuriated then! Not that it was that cold-cold today that the dog would have frozen or anything but geez Louise, he is so cramped in that crate that he couldn't really curl up nicely to keep warm at all. As I said it wasn't freezing cold or anything but it was a bit on the nippy side and kind of dampish too. And the poor dog was shaking in the crate!

I got Sammy out of the crate and into the house and you have to know he was one very happy camper to see me, to have me rescue him from that little torture chamber there. I hate to put him in the crate and leave him in that inside the house when we have to go out and he crys and crys when we do that too cause he's a very social little fellow. But he's never been shaking like a leaf when we return home and let him loose like he was today!

Then, after talking to Mandy to figure out when -approximately -she'd be home and telling her about this, she called her stepson, who had spent the weekend here and who had to go to the garage with his dad today too so his grandmother could pick him up there and they were then heading down to Tennessee for the Holiday break. The stepson informed her that they had arrived at the garage at almost 1 p.m. -over two hours after I had left the house and over 3 hours after the "Self-employed, professional businessman" had managed to get his behind out of bed to park on the couch and sip his half-a-cup of coffee!

My dilemma in this is that if something doesn't happen soon to change all this stuff, for openers, I am afraid I will have a gaping hole in my tongue from biting clean through it to prevent my saying something totally, totally out of line to hime!

By change, I will concede that his living here and having to put up with me, my moods, my quirkiness too is no picnio for him either. But.... well, for his own well-being, for the hoped for success of having his own garage/business -as well as for his family -his wife, children and their well-being now and in the future, methinks it should be his move to do the bulk of the changing of the mode of operation here!

I don't want my daughter to have to deal with the pain and all the other junk that would come along if she were to totally put him out and go so far as to file for divorce. Really, I don't want to see things come to that. But again, if he's going to continue in such a lackadasical manner with the operation of his "busines" then for the sanity of all concerned, perhaps a separation/divorce even is a necessity.

Gee, I feel immeasurably better now -a lot calmer, quieter inside my being ya know, since I put these words out here, expressed my anger, vented. Whatever you care to call it.

I really would like to see him succeed as he is a very capable mechanic and his idea with his garage too was that he was going to work at "reasonable" rates, not try to charge the high fees most all other garages charge. A nice idea but to make it work, he has to be there to do the job first!

He isn't lazy -not really. But he is very, very disorganized. Doesn't grasp the concepts of many things -prioritizing things being just one. He has no comprehension of how to keep a set of books -a much needed commodity im a business, ya know. Mandy and I are both convinced that along with his being more than a bit of a hypochondriac, he is also ADD, so has difficulty concentrating on more than one thing at a time in most respects. And, if someone calls, or stops by, he is then easily distracted. He has no qualms about putting in later that the norm hours to get jobs done, but see -if he would get himself on a regular schedule, get to work at 8:30 a.m -as the sign on the door says -then he wouldn't need to be staying way, way late at work either, would he?

But the day, as a whole, although this stuff with the SIL was/is still a very upsetting factor here, all was not a total loss because of the people I met delivering these Thanksgiving dinner care packages, seeing the surprise on their faces as they saw how much we had packed into these packages and knowing at least these 20 some families would be having a darned good meal come Thursday to share with their family too then!

And for my friend and delivery companion, we had a great time -four hours spent together talking about everything and many things and reconnecting a bit there too!

And now -I'm relaxed, ready to go to bed, have (hopefully) pleasant dreams and to quote part of how my blogger buddy, Suldog, always signs off -"More later" but I'll add to that, "Hopefully with better stuff" to be considered.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SWEET! (Is it ever!)

First off, gotta tell you something that for us was really exciting news! You better believe it!

Yesterday (that would be Friday, if you are counting back), Kurt's TSS had something to share with us that happened at his school during their playground time.

It seems that while the kids were outside, playing, Kurtis felt "nature calling" and decided to answer that call, right there, in front of his classmates, teachers, aides -everyone -by dropping his drawers, then his pull-up and with a certain body part then fully exposed, he proceeded to whiz right there, on the playground!

And for us -well, as you can imagine when the potty training has a little bit of an impact, we were ecstatic with that bit of news.

Yes, we also howled laughing about it too and I'm sure it will be one of those stories that will probably follow him FOREVER but sure was a most welcome surprise story for us!

Another little story too that I think qualifies under the header of "Sweet" involves my older grandson.

A few weeks ago, he and Robert (his Mom's fiance) had gone turkey hunting together. It was Alex's first time to actually be able to hunt, in the sense that he could shoot at a turkey if he saw one.

They were out and Robert was somewhat ahead of Alex when Alex saw a great big flock of turkeys -and got really excited about this and was trying to get Robert's attention to the flock. Finally, he did that and was telling Robert all about this.

Robert asked him if it was a clear view and Alex said yes, it had been. Then Robert asked him if he got a clear shot and Alex said that no, he hadn't.

Well, why not was the next question.

Answer from Alex -Well, I was so excited over seeing these turkeys that I forgot I was holding a gun!

Yep! That's my grandson on his way to becoming a Great White Hunter, ya know!

(Just another little story that no doubt will also follow Alex now for the rest of his days too, huh?)

But the real reason for this post is so that I can respond to some requests folks have made for the recipe for the Creamsicle Fudge -as shown on an earlier post here a few days ago. It was shown in the photo of some of the candies that were on sale at our Church Bazaar two weeks ago today and the Creamsicle Fudge is the orange and white candy pictured in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph.

I knew that I had the recipe for this delectable stuff -someplace -so today, I went on a search and destroy mission to locate said recipe. Little did I know when I started my search that it would really be a search and (hopefully not) destroy mission.

First I check my documents file on the computer but couldn't find it there. Then I found a cd that my neighbor had made for me some time back when he copied a bunch of stuff over to cds from my old computer. With the header on this particular cd of "Recipes" I thought surely I had found the right place where I had the recipe stashed. WRONG!

I then found another CD -one made when I got this computer and went through just about every single file and folder on it under the "Saves" category and no recipe for the fudge. Also, none of the other recipes I knew I had and that I had saved -somewhere -but where?!!!

Finally, after looking -and then looking again and again -I clicked into another folder also marked as being "saves" and finally, I located the file I needed -hidden deeply under another category altogether! Sometimes, my filing systems really get pretty strange, ya know.

So anyway, I located the recipe and am posting it here for those who requested it. It is really fairly simple and it definitely is quite delicious!

(Because it was saved originally as a word document, I'm hoping that it will transfer across here okay!)

Cream Sickle Fudge

(Got this from Brenda Larson McDowell, our organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lanse. Brenda’s Aunt Millicent was married to our cousin, Ivar Peterson, grandson of Aunt Selma Till Peterson.)

3/4 cups butter (no substitution) (and 1 ½ teaspoon butter to use for greasing the pan.)
3 cups sugar
¾ cup whipping cream
1 package (10-12 ounces) vanilla/white chocolate chips
1 –7 ounce jar Marshmellow cream
3 teaspoon orange extract
12 drops yellow food coloring
13 5 drops red food coloring

Grease 13 x 9 pan with the 1 ½ teaspoon of butter
In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, whipping cream and butter.
Cook/stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved completely.
Bring to a boil and cook/stir for 4 minutes
Stir in white chips and marshmellow cream
Blend until smooth.

Remove 1 cup of mixture and set aside.

To remainder, add orange extract and the food coloring
Stir until blended.

Pour into the pan and drop reserved 1 cup of mixture by tablespoonful over top.
Cut this into the colored candy with a knife to swirl it through.
Cover and refrigerate until set.

Tastes just like those good old creamsicles! Also, nice and fattening too!

And just for good measure, here's another candy recipe I saved and which I made a batch of this two years ago for the church bazaar.


Prep Time – 10 minutes, plus chilling

Makes about 2 ¼ pounds fudge or 36 squares

3 packages (6 ounces each) premium white chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (not evaporated)
1 ½ teasoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped green candied cherries
½ cup coarsely chopped red candied cherries

Line 8” or 9” square pan with foil.

In saucepan, heat chocolate with milk, vanilla and salt over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cherries.

Spread fudge mixture in prepared pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm.

Invert fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil.

Cut fudge into 36 squares.

Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Very good, very pretty and very easy!

The second recipe is good -also fairly easy too (I don't deal well with recipes of any type unless I can state they are very easy or at least, relatively easy!) but my own personal favorite of the two is still the Cream Sickle Fudge!

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet Information

I know I've told you lots of stuff about the Bazaar we have at our church every year -first Saturday in November. But there is one area of the bazaar that I think I should tell you a little bit more about.

And that would be the corner designated in our church social hall as "The Candy Shoppe."

This section was pretty much the brainchild of one of our parishioners who also just happens to be a really fantastic cook and organizer of virtually all things food related for our women's group.

She and the lady who is also our church organist are the ones who pretty much handle all the details for the operation of the "Candy Shoppe." Here are some pictures taken at least year's bazaar of Florence and Brenda running this operation at full tilt.

Now doesn't that just look perfectly delicious? The orange and white candies on the far right, bottom, is Creamsicle Fudge and I do believe it even outweighs my love for peanut butter fudge! It is absolutely fantabulous! Trust me when I tell you that.

But one thing that Florence -our fearless fudge and candy leader -thought to do when she first came up with the idea of the "Candy Shoppe" is that she got specially made boxes that will hold either a half-pound or a full pound of candy pieces and she also got labels printed up too that lists the name of our Women's group and our church name and address on them. This label is then put on the top of each and every box of candy, sealed and then, a nice red ribbon bow tied around each box too!

Some pretty -and very sweet -promotional products there, don't you agree?
I'm not sure off-hand how much they charge for the candy per pound, but I think it is priced between $6.50 and $7.00 a pound -which by candy pricing standards is a pretty fair price. But this table along with the tables that hold oodles and oodles of loaves of home-baked breads, primarily the traditional Swedish Kaka bread, are the big money-makers for our church bazaar.

Now, if only that candy didn't also come with a kazillion calories per bite, it would be totally ideal as a food form in my opinion!

Planning Ahead

Some changes have to come about in this house, I think, so we can have a smoother routine going here - particularly in the department of computer usage!

With my daughter, Mandy, the 17-year-old and me all vying for time on the computer, having just one computer is a difficult thing to share the time involved so each of us can get a turn online to do the things each of us enjoys doing.

The 17-year-old has a My Space account, along with her e-mail stuff -and who knows what else that can keep her busy online. Mandy has a My Space account as well as Facebook plus she belongs to several Autism Support groups online too and then, can't forget her frequent perusing of Craig's List and E-bay, looking for good bargains as well as trying to sell things that the kids have outgrown and which are still in excellent condition.

And me -I've got my blog, my Reader which is loaded with near to 200 blogs that I get notified if there is a new post there to read plus my Facebook and e-mail as well. My reader can take me upwards of a couple of hours every day if it is a day that oodles of bloggers have decided to add a new post. Facebook is just a fun thing for me to try to keep a little bit of contact going between family and friends so it doesn't take quite as much time out of my schedule as do the blogging things for me.

But, what to do? That is the big question.

I suppose we could reconnect my old computer but it would have to run on a dial-up service as I'm not sure it is capable of handling a high speed connection and that wouldn't sit very well with either Mandy or the 17-year-old and I sure as heck am not willing to give up high-speed for my stuff either.

So I think about the only solution is for me to start looking about at laptop computers so that I have a little idea of what the capabilities of those things would be along with the costs and such and then maybe, just maybe, I can start to plan ahead and save towards such a purchase sometime in the future.

Unfortunately, with the finances here being pretty tight these days, and every time I think I'm gonna have a little extra this month or that, something else comes along and knocks those plans all to H**L!

Between issues like needing fuel oil for the furnace, gas for the jeep, increases in my medicare payment for Social Security as well as in my health insurance bill too and the reduction in my Social Security check last January after the nice raise recipients were given (a long story there but although I received a nice $73 a month increase -on paper -in my Social Security, because that increase took me to a higher level annually that the base poverty level, I lost the assistance I had been getting which paid for my medicare payment so I ended up receiving a cut in my check to the tune of $36 a month and now, with the increases in the base medicare payment and my insurance, it will mean another $36 a month taken off the top of my check so that I will then be receiving $9 a month less than I was getting six years ago when I first qualified for social security!)

I know that those figures don't sound like me to some folks reading this -gee whiz, only $72 a month ya know I'll be missing, but on Social Security as your only income, $72 a month might as well be a gold mine!

So, guess I'll have to figure a way to earn a bit of extra money somewhere along the line in order to be able to start saving for a laptop computer sometime before I croak!

Wish me luck on that endeavor, will ya?

Thanksgiving Dinners

Wow! Busy morning today.

I was part of a three-woman detail who went grocery shopping this morning to get items needed for the turkey dinners the Women's Group at our church is fixing up to give to families in our area who are in need of a hand-up for Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The Thrivent Organization (Lutheran Social Services Agency) has for several years now donated a number of turkeys to each of the Lutheran churches in our region and then, each church, in turn, has then given a turkey to various households in our area where families who might be having a bit of a hard time managing from time to time. Each year, the number of turkeys that we receive to give away may vary from 20 to 30 birds. This year, we will be delivering a turkey to 24 different family -not all necessarily members of our parish but rather, members of the local community.

This year, WELCA, our women's group, decided we would contribute more to this meal and as such, we are now providing the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast to these families.

Our shopping carts were filled to the brim! We purchased instant mashed potatoes, jars of prepared turkey gravy, stuffing mixes, green beans, mushroom soup, french-friend onions (to top the green bean casseroles, ya know), yams, mini-marshmallows, cranberry sauce, brown 'n serve dinner rolls and even frozen pumpkin pies and a package of brownie mix. All this in addition to the turkey already being provided by Thrivent!

I wish you could have seen us at the checkout counter!

The clerk there really was grateful I'm sure that the store has a barcode scanner or else, she would have had a long task ahead of her if she would have had to ring in -or even swipe -each and every item individually.

The total cost of all the groceries we purchased for these packages came to almost $640! The store donated brown paper bags to us to pack the items in and Pastor Carrie is going to write a "greeting" on each bag then -some type of quote from the Bible -so that the families who receive this dinner package next week will know this is being done by a religious organization but beyond that, there are no strings attached to these bags. No ploys to try to get people to come and get involved in our church or things of that nature. Not that if any of these folks would decide they wanted to become a part of our church community, they sure wouldn't be turned away, but the dinner is not contingent on anything like that at all.

On Sunday, after church, the women -along with the young people in Pastor Carrie's Confirmation classes -will get together to bag up these foods and next week -on Monday -at least one lady from our group and I will be delivering these packages to the families selected this year.

I think this is a wonderful gesture of sharing our bounty with those less fortunate. To make different foods and then, to give them to others -whether they are perhaps homebound and can't get out or who have difficulty fixing things or to take into places where I used to work (back in the day) just to share something a little special as a treat to my co-workers has always been something I enjoyed doing and still do whenever I can.

Just the gift of a big turkey is such a nice sharing gesture but I'm really looking forward to delivering these bags with all the fixings for a great Thanksgiving meal and seeing the look of surprise on the faces of the recipients will really make Thanksgiving something much more special for me this year.

We had talked about the possibility of serving a Thanksgiving Dinner at our church to any and all who wanted to just share a meal with others but decided we weren't quite ready to handle something that involved -at least not this year. But that is a thought we are considering for some time in the future.

Now, just hope -and pray -the weather next week when we begin to deliver these bags holds up and we don't have to worry about slippery roads or sidewalks, etc.

Four carts, loaded to the gills, by the time we were finished with our shopping.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

East Meets Midwest!

Today was a big day, indeed it was!

After three years of communicating via blog posts, e-mail and also Facebook, I finally had the chance today to meet Mr. and Mrs. Skittles! No, that's not their real names - Skittles has a nifty blog and if you follow her at all, you know her name is Barb and her husband -who she usually refers to as "Mr. Skittles" is actually Mike! No, Skittles is not their last name either but I'm not gonna divulge that aspect to you.

If you've ever read Mike's blog -which he used to have but hasn't been a participating blogger for quite some time now -he often used to mention his fascination for trains and such. He and Barb also love to take off and travel, kind of randomly, sometimes a bit haphazardly too, but they had decided they wanted to make a trip over to the Altoona, PA area so they could see the world-famous Horseshoe Curve and also, possibly stop by and visit the Railroader's Museum which is also located in Altoona and in deciding to come this way, they remembered that I live fairly close to Altoona -about 50 miles north of that city -so they made arrangements to stop by my house this afternoon (Saturday, that is) for a little visit over some hot coffee.

Initially, Maya decided she wasn't going to be social at all although Kurtis made friends fairly quickly and easily too with both Barb and Mike. Sammy, the dog, was apparently overjoyed at meeting some new folks though as he managed -on his second try -to hop up in Mike's lap and proceeded to give him several "doggie kisses" then too!

The kittens however must have initially decided to follow Maya's lead though as for quite awhile we couldn't find any of them but then one by one, they appeared and visited too for a little while. Although we did discuss the prospect of shipping one, maybe even two kittens back to Michigan with Barb and Mike, the idea was eventually deep-sixed.

Here's the first (of two) photos I took today. (I get to chattering and forget that I need to take some pictures ya know, so that's why I only got two photos.)

Actually this is video but I didn't realize when I went to take the picture that Mandy had been using the video function on my camera recently and hadn't bothered to switch it back to regular pictures. It's only about 2-3 second and looks more like it is a regular photo but I liked it as I thought it was a very good picture of Barb and Mike. Don't you agree too?

Eventually, Maya decided to be at least semi-sociable and posted with Mike and Barb for this picture. She could have done a little better on the smiling but what the heck you gonna do with a six-year-old who can have a really big stubborn streak at play at times?

I wish I'd taken the camera outside with me though because before they left, we got to see their beautiful chocolate lab, Hannah, who was riding along with them on their tour of Central Pennsylvania. And when Mandy came out to meet Hannah, Maya decided she had to come along too. That's when she really wanted to be very sociable with Mike and Barb. Mandy went back inside and brought Kurtis out to meet Hannah too and he absolutely loved that dog! Even tried to say her name for us too. It wasn't the best pronunciation of Hannah but at least he gave it the old college try.

I spent the rest of the day baking -made four pies -apple, cherry and two pumpkin plus I made a nice big homemade beef and vegetable pot pie as well. Used up the leftover roast beef and gravy from our dinner this past Sunday when I had tried the infamous potato and carrot disaster casserole.

Remember I think I mentioned when I posted about that lousy casserole that Mandy had decided she had to take a picture of the dish -for posterity, ya know? Well, I finally got around to downloading all the pics on my camera tonight and lo and behold, there it was!

And now -brace yourselves. Hope no one gets sick from looking at this beastly mess. But here's what the casserole of Cheesy Potatoes and Carrots looks like. (And trust me, this is not what it looked like in the picture in the recipe book cause if it had, I never would have tried to make the damned thing!)
I wish I could say that as ugly as this looks, it tasted good but that wasn't even the case with this concoction either. It was just bad, bad, VERY BAD!

And that pretty much gives you a little bit of a run-down on my visitors today plus some unpleasant food to look at too.

I have to say too after three years that Barb and I have been communicating, it was super nice to finally meet her. I do know her voice though as she has called me on the telephone a few times so I can usually recognize her via that medium but now, there's just such a much more complete feeling once you've finally had a chance to meet that person, face to face.

Hope we can do this again sometime too, Mike and Barb!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Big Changes!

Things have been taking place here -changes -and let me tell you, these are some really nice, actually great, changes. And, they are eliminating some other changes that would ordinarily have been needed too!

What kind of changes are these that I rave about tonight?

Well, every day now, for the past four days in a row, Kurtis has been going to the bathroom door, pounding on it and requesting to be let in there so he can sit on the potty!

He gets in there, pulls his little insert for the commode seat out and puts it in place and with a little help in the undressing department, he then gets up and sits up -like a big, big boy -and has done his business there then!

When he's finished, he tell us "Good job!" And you betcha, yes indeed it is!

Earlier tonight, it was so darned comical though. I went in the bathroom to hand Mandy the telephone and he was sitting there, concentrating on the task at hand. Actually he had already processed a bit through -if you get my drift -but apparently had the feeling there was more there so he was staying put to see it through, all the way.

Mandy finished the phone call and started giving him a bit of a pep talk, telling him to push it out, way out and he -being heavy into the echolalia thing (can't spell tonight), started to imitate what she had said. However, in doing that, he hunched over, made like he was really straining very, very hard and then said "Push it out, way out!"

But, because of his posture and his straining efforts while trying to speak, his voice rose and got this really squeaky sound to it as well and all of that just totally broke both Mandy and me up. Completely! And with us laughing -actually howling -he started laughing, clapping and cheering too.

So nice to have such a happy little camper like him around here. (He is, generally speaking, usually very much the happy little camper too, most of the time. Except when Mommy isn't home to get him out of his school van or if she happens to venture upstairs without explicitly telling him where she is going. Then, he can wig out pretty loudly and very fast!)

I don't know what was wrong with our sweet little pup tonight too. He just all of a sudden upchucked on the living room floor. Not exactly what Mandy wanted to see, for sure. But boy, it sure did draw the attention of the two kids to the scene. Both of 'em had to come running over and look at the nice (NOT) mess there. Kurtis was so excited over this event, Mandy and I both were afraid he was gonna go a bit to far and walk right into the middle of Sammy's little "gift." So I had to grab him by the shirt and kind of yank him back a step or too till Mandy could get the paper towels and get it all cleaned up.

She decided maybe what made the dog sick was that he likes to stick his nose into the cat's litter box and seems to relish chewing on that stuff a bit. Boy, I thought dog's were supposed to have a really good sense of smell and if that's the case, I can't figure out how they can get their nose that up close and personal to the cat's litter-crapola, ya know. It's hard enough to cope with that particular scent when you are two rooms away and one of these lovely (NOT) cats has decided it was time to relieve themselves of everything they have ingested for apparently the past week and a half or something like that. Foul, really, really foul, ya know!

Bring on the gas masks might be a recommendation in the future, huh?

I got a pleasant surprise today though when Mandy brought the mail home. There was a nice little package for me! A book, written by a lady I've never met but with whom I have been corresponding, off and on, for about 4-5 years now. It's a book she wrote about her father and another gentleman who became unlikely partners back in the early 1900s in some coal mining operations in south-central/western Pennsylvania and how her father went on to build is own coal company back then. Very well-written, interesting and amazing -all rolled into one little package.

Written by Jean Crichton, the name of the book is "Digging For Treasure -Two Pioneer Coal Developers in Portage, Pennsylvania."

Jean's uncle -brother of her father -was Kyle Crichton, a well-known writer from the 30s through the 50s and formerly a columnist for Colliers magazine and apparently there must be some very strong writing genes in Jean's father's family that her uncle and she were both blessed with. Although this book is not large -only 85 pages, in length, I was able to sit down early this evening and read it the whole way through. (Luckily, both grandkids were on pretty good behavior at the time and that gave me a good opportunity to concentrate and read.

And to enjoy learning a bit more about the history of the coal industry in this region of the state as well as to learn a lot about Jean's father and others of his era in the process. An extra bonus there in that.

And that takes me pretty well up-to-the-minute now and time for me to call it a day. Need to get all the rest I can tonight as Maya doesn't have school tomorrow (or today, now since it's past midnight) but Kurtis does. So that means she will be here all day, and ripping and tearing the house up, being bored because there won't be any other child here to boss around. And brother, she does dearly love to do that too ya know!

Saturday, we are to have visitors coming our way -from Michigan -and hopefully I will have pictures to post of that shortly thereafter. It's been a long time in the making but if all goes well, come Saturday I will finally have a chance to meet one of my favorite bloggers and one who has been a friend via our blogs for about three years now, since we became acquainted shortly after we had both begun blogging in August and September of 2006.

Yep -the one and only Skittles and her husband are in the vicinity -visiting Friday over around Altoona so since I live only about 50 miles from Altoona, she and "Mr. Skittles" plans are to stop by my place on Saturday.

And I'm really very much looking forward to that!

Now -time for another big change as I am venturing off to bed and it's not even 2 a.m. yet!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

System Shock!

Reading the blogs tonight as they appeared on my Reader, I got a bit of a memory jolt -the system shocker -when I read the post by Terri (of Terri, Terri).

First there was this picture on her post.

Followed by her explaining someone had given her this award -the Over the Top Award and then, there was this -the explanation of the rules involved with this award.

You have to answer a few personal questions, but the catch is, you can only answer each question with one word. One word answers? ARRGH! They absolutely have to be kidding! Me, answer something with only one word?

And then it dawned on me as I read her answers and got to the bottom where she wondered who would take up the challenge and try to do this thing that she had mentioned me there. Which also reminded me that another blogger friend - Mimi of Woman in the Midst: Raw -had given me this award oh, maybe about two weeks ago now and I had shelved it at the time, figuring I'd come back and do it in a day or two and I had promptly forgotten all about that!

And so, with apologies to Mimi and in quick response to Terri, (no procrastinating this time or I'd probably forget and never come back to it), here's my answers, such as they are!

1. Where is your cell phone? Non-existent

2. Your hair?Uncombed

3. Your mother? Deceased

5. Your favorite food? Pasta

6. Your dream last night?Nightmarish

7. Your favorite drink? Beer

8. Your dream/goal? Living
9. What room are you in? Front
10. Your hobby? Crafting
11. Your fear? Loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Secure
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Non-smoking
15. Muffins? Bran
16. Wish list item? RV!!!
17. Where did you grow up?Pennsylvania
18. Last thing you did? Drove
19. What are you wearing? Sweats
20. Your TV? Non-stop
21. Your pets? Ten!!!
22. Friends? Fantastic
23. Your life? Calamity

24. Your mood? Contented

*25. Missing someone? Always
26. Vehicle? Messy
27. Something you’re not wearing? Pantyhose
28. Your favorite store?Herrschners
29. Your favorite color? Blues
30. When was the last time you laughed? Tonight
31. Last time you cried? Tonight
32. Your best friend? Toss-up
33. One place that I go to over and over? Bathroom
34. One person who emails me regularly? Arlene
35. Favorite place to eat? Brother's
Now comes the big challenge… Who to pass this on to? Who hasn’t done this one? Or more to the point; Who is most likely to participate?

Boy -who to pass this one on to though? Now there's the rub. I know Suldog just did this the other day and I'm not sure if I really want to raise his level of ire just now. Terri and Mimi -well, they both sent it my way so can't return the favor there either, can I?

Who does this leave then?

Well -here goes -with apologies all the way around to one and all!

Shelby Dupree

Sandi at Holding Patterns (Gives her one more item to be thankful for!)

Terri at Inner Dialogues (Hasn't been blessed with one of these in a long time.)

Dr, Sardonicus at Pole Hill Sanitarium (if he'll stop his music reviews to do this)

I thought about tagging EVERYONE on my Reader but dang, I'd be here all night, typing and highlighting and all that, ya know!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holiday Confusion

I've been intending to write this post for several weeks now -even before Suldog mentioned it a little while back, I already had this on my mind.

However, as so often happens, things I may have on my mind often don't materialize and see the light of day on my blog -or if they do, it isn't always in a very timely fashion. And so it is this year with me and with this post.

I've been busy. Boy, for a while there, was I ever busy! Crafting, cooking, baking -all kinds of things along those lines -and some of the crafting, cooking and baking had to do with the Fall Bazaar held at our church by the women of the parish this past Saturday. A dinner to prepare things for, baked goods for the bake sale portion and yes, I donated two of the tabletoppers (smallish square tablecloths, for those who don't know that term) I had embroidered. Both of them were of the Christmas themes as were a lot of other hand-crafted items offered for sale at the Bazaar.

I've been working on these things plus several other hand-made items that will be used as Christmas gifts from me to members of my family all year long. But, with hand-crafted stuff, one generally does have to start working on those type of things well before most folks even begin to think of Christmas if you are gonna get 'em done in time for the holiday, that is.

Although I keep a careful eye on sales at my favorite crafting items website all the time and shop year-round there for things I want to make - for family gifts for birthdays or Christmas - one thing I really do dislike immensely is the advertising practices so many stores follow with respect to the Christmas Season.

Actually, it isn't even just the Christmas Season that this affects as merchandising displays are often up two, even three months prior to all the various holidays throughout the year. Valentine's showing up in early December; Halloween candy over the Fourth of July and of course, stores who aren't already advertising something or other with Christmas in mind as early as September are probably doomed and out of the shopping loop I suppose.

But let me explain a tad here too first. I have, since my children were very small, shopped year-round with Christmas gifts in mind and then, packed the items away to be dug out and wrapped a day or two before Christmas. I did that out of necessity though otherwise what I bought back in April or June that I paid maybe $20-25 for would cost me at least double that figure, perhaps even triple if I were to wait until December to do all my shopping. And my budget just never would have been able to withstand that and still be able to survive afterwards to pay regular bills, ya know.

So I am not saying I'm against shopping well ahead of time, but I hate to walk into stores in mid-October and see displays all geared up with Christmas themes -or the advertiser's versions of what they "think" are Christmas themes anyway. And, I especially hate to hear Christmas music played over and over and over yet again from early on in autumn up until Christmas Eve and for a couple of weeks afterwards too.

That stuff, for me is just a bit over the top.

Jim Sullivan -a great blogger from up in the Boston area with his blog, Suldog has blogged about this issue last year and I think maybe even the year before that too. But this year, he even produced a special logo -or picture -that we can use to put on our blogs to show we support him and his special effort to curb and curtail the over-abundance of holiday advertising for the Christmas Season until at least after Thanksgiving.

And that, my friends, makes a whole lot of sense to me too!

If you agree with Jim's theory, feel free to steal the picture at the upper part of my sidebar and display it on your blog and hopefully, you will also write a post too with your thoughts about this issue.

Truthfully, I think all this proliferation of advertising, beginning earlier and earlier it seems each year, does nothing but destroy, bit by bit, the true meaning of Christmas for many, if not for most of us.

And the incredible push it has too on consumers, making them feel the need to shop and shop and shop some more to make sure you have EVERYTHING imaginable purchased and under your tree come Christmas Eve tends to yield a much more ungrateful group of children (and adults too at times) as the expectations then rise, higher and higher, each year in the gifting arena.

It takes away the magic of the holiday. It makes us forget the true reason for the season -which is not to have the most fantastic tree, or the biggest spread ever on your table for a holiday gathering, nor is it a time best remembered by the most raucous and drunken gathering for a "Christmas Party" at home or the office either.

Ok -I'm off my little soapbox for tonight now. Time to go wash up the supper dishes and try to work on some more of my craft projects I have stashed away here. Projects I purchased months ago and without any obscene displays urging me to have them in order to provide my family with the most perfect Christmas ever.

The most perfect Christmas ever took place a little over 2000 years ago in a manger in Bethlehem. A most humble beginning for the Prince of Peace.

And, that's the aspect I would rather convey at Christmas -as well as year-round -that family and faith are the things to be recognized, given honor to -not all the trappings the ad-men would want us to believe in.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Decisions, Decisions!

It's getting closer folks -that time of year, ya know. Stores are already -well, they have been for some time now -advertising for the big December event ya know.

I really hate that the stores start so early -seems like they are ready to roll with Christmas decor in August these days. Halloween wasn't even over and they were intermingling Christmas stuff with Halloween and Thanksgiving.

My blogger buddy, Suldog, hates this - all the early ads and displays and such. And as far as the stores go, I do too! Seeing -and hearing -Christmas stuff so early does nothing to help inspire me in any direction. Actually, it is more of a turn-off for me much of the time.

Too many reminders of how much I do love the season but it's the reason for the season, not the constant barrage of visuals of children with upteen toys and most of them really, really expensive ones too that turns me off completely.

I do however begin my Christmas gift list -if you want to call it that -early on. Mainly because a lot of gifts from me tend to be of the home-made variety -crafts type things that I have embroidered, knitted or crochets.

And all that is fine to a degree. I do have to start early with these projects in order to get them done. And the online craft site I deal with does start showing new Christmas crafting items early but the nice thing with doing the online thing there is that I'm not getting bombarded with all kinds of "holiday" music then too.

But even with the time needed and decisions as to what to make for this or that one, I still am often left wondering what the heck to do about my daughters! Mainly the older one as Mandy generally tells me in exact terms -i.e. what item, what store, aisle, price, size, etc., that it is she would like.

Trying to find something for my other daughter can be a lot trickier though. Finding something affordable -for openers -and that make for some unique gifts for her can pose quite a quandry at times. She can be a bit fussy now and again, plus I have no clue these days as to sizes for her so I steer clear of the clothing then much of the time.

And finding things I like that the two little ones really need, can use, would like -in a price range that would work with my budget -gets more difficult with each passing year it seems.

Maybe though, since Mandy won a gift package at the Chinese Auction at our Church Bazaar this past Saturday that included five lottery tickets and three of those five yielded winners -a free ticket, two-dollar winner and a five-dollar winner -and one of those tickets yielded another two-dollar winner too, it would appear she might be on a lucky streak and maybe when this last two-dollar winner is redeemed, it will result in her hitting the jackport.

And that my friends, would eliminate about any and all decisions of what to shop for this year then!

Don't I wish though?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Never Again (In My Kitchen)

I have a few things I am addicted to -besides nicotine, that is. One would be knitting and crochet pattern books. The other -cookbooks!

I've got a pretty healthy supply of cookbooks, in addition to subscribing to a couple websites, each of which list beaucoup recipes.

It's not that I cook all kinds of stuff -fancy or plain -all the time, but I do love to look through cookbooks, especially, and dream of whipping up some of the really yummy looking stuff shown in them. Same applies to the websites too.

I especially like to pick up the little specialty cooking booklets -put out by a major publisher of several cooking monthly magazines. After church today when Kurtis and I went up to the local store to get the Sunday paper, I spied a new one of these pretty little cookbook booklets. I leafed through it and a recipe in there looked really appealing to me so, after looking over the ingredients, I decided what the heck -toss the booklet in the cart and take it home to study it further.

All the recipes in this booklet were supposedly geared towards "Comfort Food." I liked that idea. Liked the thought of comfort food being something yummy but also without tons and tons of preparation too.

After perusing the whole booklet at home, that same recipe I'd briefly scanned at the store was still beckoning me, calling my name. Yessiree, it surely was doing that to me.

I had picked up a nice-sized piece of London Broil and had the idea in mind of cooking that up in the crockpot with a package of onion soup mix and another packet of brown gravy mix, all stirred together with two cups of hot water and poured over the meat to let that simmer a couple of hours so it would have a nice dark brown gravy with good meat as well as onion flavoring to it.

And, I decided to try the recipe I'd spied in this new cookbook booklet too!

The recipe consisted of shredded potatoes, carrots with a little bit of shredded onion in the mix and it was to be cooked in a white sauce with a "hint" of cheddar cheese melted into the white sauce. I don't know why, but it sounded "interesting" and the picture of the dish looked VERY inviting to me too.

Not knowing if anyone would be here to have supper with us, I decided that the initial recipe appeared too small, so I doubled it. That was my first mistake here!

I should know by now not to double a new recipe unless I have at least some idea of how the end result is going to taste -like maybe I have sampled a bit of the dish someplace else. Which, in this case, of course, you know I'd never heard of this dish before today much less ever sampled a bit of it too.

Well, let me tell you -the first comment about the potato-carrot-onion casserole came from Mandy. "Pretty bland," says she.

Yeah -had to agree with that assessment, I did.

But, considering Bill tends to regard my cooking as a bit heavy on the spices and way too spicy quite often for his taste buds, I thought maybe i might be something he would like.


What's more, as I dug into it, I discovered I didn't care for this item at all! Not even on itty-bitty little bit!

Before setting the food on the table, I had told Mandy I wasn't sure how this casserole was going to go over tonight as it was a bit of an experiment. After she took a look at it, she grabbed the camera and took a picture of it. (No, I have no downloaded that photo to my computer as yet plus she intends to use it first on her Facebook.

Wonderful! Let the whole freaking world in on the supper disaster at our house -complete with pictures at 11 p.m. Sure. I love that idea. NOT!

What really gets me is the description of this item in the cookbook -is that the lady who submitted it says that she has been relying on this for more than 30 years and states that is most certainly a strong testimony then for the scrumpdeliciousness of this casserole.

And to that I say, Lady, you need your tastebuds examined!

Thank goodness the meat was just right -done to a nice juicy tenderness, gravy really flavorful and all that. Plus I had a beautiful loaf of "Swedish Kaka" bread my neighbor had made and donated to the Fall Bazaar at our church yesterday to soothe my tormented tastebuds from this yucky casserole.

That, plus I also have a couple pieces left of the really tasty "Creamsicle" fudge-like candy I had purchased at the Bazaar yesterday too.

Oh well, what the heck you gonna do when a food experiment that looks to be so good goes awry?

While trying to eat this concoction, Mandy asked if it was a lot of work to fix and I said yes, and that only added more insult to my injured cooking spirit today.

That will be the last time I ever shred potatoes and carrots and cook them in a special white sauce with a hint of cheese in it too!

It looked about like a baked casserole of coleslaw and even that I think would have tasted a whole hell of a lot better than this dish did!

Considering all these recipes have supposedly been tried and tested for accuracy, flavor, ease of preparation and all that by the food editors of this little cooking booklet, I think maybe they all need to have their taste buds checked out too cause mine sure don't agree with this as being a wonderful entry in the world of wonderful "Comfort Foods."

Nope. NOPE! Never again will this item be fixed -by me -and served to anyone in my family!

They can rest assured in that!

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Blink of the Eye

I hit the publish button a bit early as I had forgotten to add that this is my "Only the Good Friday" post. For anyone who isn't familiar with Only the Good Friday, it was set up by blogger Shelley Tucker of This Eclectic Life and although it initially was set for Friday publications, it has changed to now being "Only the Good" on any day! Check out Shelley's blog for more information on posting about the good things as you see them in your life.
We've all heard, most of us also often cite too those adages about how quickly children change, grow up, become adults and are out on their own.

Somehow, I rather think the events I'm revealing here today really do serve to show the "Only The Good" side of life. Let me know if you agree or not.

"In the blink of an eye" -or so it seems -those things occur and we're left wondering just how it could be the years can pass by so quickly.

And by the same measurement of time, we know too how fast things can happen -often terrible, life-altering events -that seem almost beyond belief too.

Take for example the horrific automobile crash I wrote about here about 2-3 weeks ago now in which the young couple, parents of two small children, were both killed -dead at the scene of the accident -and those two children lost the people responsible for their care, the individuals who loved them so deeply now gone forever.

Other things can happen too that may not have as tragic an ending as that accident but that can change one's outlook, the mode of operation, from an event that had the potential of being completely life-altering but thankfully, didn't quite materialize in that manner.

Just enough though to perhaps scare the living daylights out of us though. An event that maybe makes your blood run cold as you think of this and what could have happened, thankful though that you were lucky enough to come away physically unscathed perhaps but mentally, changed.

We had just such an event here in our family this past week.

My older daughter phoned me Monday night and I could hear the panic in her voice as well as in how she was breathing too while trying to talk to me. Her voice was quivering, lowering, then rising, quiet then angry and loud.

She began to unfold the events of that day to me and the more she talked, the more I could feel the terror creeping in, deep inside me too.

Her son, my oldest grandchild, is twelve years old now -a big boy; very tall for his age as he surpasses his Aunt Mandy who is 5 foot 7 1/2 in height. He isn't heavy but is quite well built for his age and height. He's also generally a pretty calm young man too -usually quietly taking in the scenes of things happening around him. That trait, it would appear, worked well for him on Monday afternoon.

His mother and dad have shared custody of him so some days he goes to his paternal grandmother's home after school and other days, he rides the bus to where his mother and her fiance live. Monday was a day to ride the bus to his mother's home.

The bus stop is maybe a half-mile from their home. It's a very quiet country road, winding past some newer homes and a big farm house belonging to an Amish family.

He was about half-way home when a car drove past him, moving rather slowly he noted, went up to a driveway and turned around. As it came towards him, the car began to slow down, more and more, until the driver pulled up and stopped alongside my grandson.

Speaking to the boy, the driver began by telling him he knew my grandson didn't know him and that he didn't know my grandson either. He also added that he realized too that he didn't know the boy's parents nor did they know him too. But, he was wondering if he could give the boy a ride home, that he would be very happy to do that for him.

All the things that we try to teach children and hope and pray that they absorb and remember came into play then in my grandson's mind as he began to think -and to realize -this just wasn't right.

He then tried to concentrate on remembering whatever he could in the way of details about this man, about the car too, so he could give a good description of what was taking place.

The man repeated again and again, his offer of a ride for the grandson and the boy stayed his distance from the vehicle as he pointed out a house almost across the road from where they were then and said "It's okay. I'm just going to my friend's house right there."

Finally -much to the boy's relief -the man took no for an answer and as he pulled away, he spun the tires and sped off.

My grandson then hurried home as quickly as possible and told his mother immediately what had just transpired. She and her fiance then called the police and reported this event.

After coming to the house and talking to him, the police told him he had done an excellent job of remembering various characteristics about this man - older, probably early 50s, salt and pepper hair, very blue eyes. Although he didn't get the make, model or year of the vehicle, he did remember it was a burgundy color and also, noted that there was a bunch of junk-type stuff on the front seat of the car that had the boy thinking too if he'd accepted the offer of the ride, just where would this guy have had him to sit?

The police went to the farmhouse of the Amish family and spoke to a son of theirs who verified having seen the vehicle and his description matched my grandson's as well.

Two days later, the school principal called the grandson to his office to speak with him about what had happened, to commend him for staying calm and using his wits to remember as many details as he could. He also informed the grandson that the police had told him they have had two other reports of a man matching much the same description and driving a car of the same color within the school district in recent days too.

All of this brings to one's mind, of course, the terrible things that COULD have happened between my grandson and this stranger. It also makes one very, very thankful too that nothing that dire did occur.

But how quickly -had that man jumped from the car and overpowered my grandson -would his life, his parents, mine, the other grandparents, his aunt and uncle's have changed -drastically!

He may be a big boy for his age but if taken by surprise -as my son said when I told him what had occurred - he could easily have been overpowered, knocked out and carried off.

Way, way, too easily.

I had a lot of hesitation about writing this post. I wasn't sure I wanted to tell the whole blogosphere about what had happened for fear of causing more concern or embarrassment to my grandson, perhaps even to my daughter too in the process. Initially, I was to shaken to pull my thoughts together in a somewhat cogent manner to even write about this.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I have to write this and show how some people do use various methods to accost our young people and also, how important it is that those youngsters are able to come forward to tell what has happened. Also then to reiterate how easily someone could possibly snatch a child, even a pre-teen who looks pretty capable of handling and defending himself, and make off with the individual.

And so I write this now as a warning to parents, grandparents, caretakers -whoever -and also to children and teens -of any age range -to be extremely cautious, to never, ever accept a favor or ride from a stranger, regardless of how nice, handsome, clean, polite, that person may seem.

And to be sure to relay any and all information about someone who doesn't belong and who is acting somewhat strangely to the adults in one's life and then also, to the police.

I am so grateful today that my grandson was unharmed but that still doesn't keep my mind from racing to the "What if" aspects of this scenario. I'm so grateful that my grandson kept himself cool and calm; that he thought to tell the man he was just going to the house across the road, that he thought to organize his mind to be able to take in as many details as possible too and perhaps those things in his report will help the police to locate this person and get him away from the potential of harming any child in the future too.

All of that happened just so quickly -"in the blink of an eye" -you could say.

So take the opportunity everytime it presents itself too to show those closest to us just how much we value and love them -extra kind words, more than the usual hugs and kisses too perhaps. We never know when it might be the last chance we have to do that, you know.

And please, above all, stay safe!