Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Late Nite Viewing....

I don't know about anyone else's taste in late night TV viewing but I confess to being a big Craig Ferguson fan. The man -at times anyway -has to be at least semi-insane. Suffice it to say, I do think he is usually really hysterical.

But the other night when I was watching the show and Tom Selleck was the special guest, I'm still not sure how the conversation went from Secretariat and the galloping, dancing horse's appearance, to a discussion on artificial insemination of race horses and from there, some how evolved to a discussion of bedbugs and mattresses!

But the line which really got me was when Tom Selleck had mentioned bedbugs and mattresses and said that after just a short period of time -I think he said 2 maybe it was 3 years - that a new mattress would then weigh double what it did weigh when you first purchased it, due to the accumulation in the bottom of the mattress of lice, bedbugs, dead skin and also, from the moisture of your own body sweat!

Hearing that -well, kind of made me think that maybe it was time for me to go shopping for a new sleep spot, ya know!

But anyway, I got such a kick out of that particular interview Craig had with Tom Selleck I thought I'd give you all a treat and you can watch the excerpt for yourself. It's a long interview and the part about the bedding is at least half-way through the video, but if you like Craig and happened to miss this show, you'll definitely get a good chuckle -or two (or a lot more) out of it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

God Jul!

It's Christmas Night -actually, if you want to be technical -it's the wee hours of the morning on the day after Christmas! And, all through this house, the only creature stirring is Sammy as he had to move from where he had been reposing to be near me, after I moved over to the computer desk now to start to write this post. (He has to be at my feet -no matter where I go -or so it does seem. The cat is all curled up on the new Penn State Lap Robe older daughter and grandson, Alex, gave me for Christmas so I imagine when I move back over to my recliner, FluffNuts won't be ultra happy with me cause I'll be tossing him off his cherished spot.

The big part of the Christmas celebration is now history for this year -at least in this household it is.

We had our big family meal on Christmas Eve -baked ham, scalloped potatoes, candied carrots, acorn squash, coleslaw and fresh home-baked Swedish Limpa Rye bread too! For dessert -if anyone had room right after the meal -there was an assortment of cookies -Peppermint chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodles and tartlets filled with an assortment of fillings from pumpkin to lemon-coconut, to cranberry-nut, brownie and of course, pecan plus a milk chocolate cake frosted with chocolate-kahlua icing. After church at 9 p.m., which was a beautiful service, full of singing many, many of the old favorite Christmas carols, plus hearing the choir do a really fantasic rendition of a combination of Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Angels We Have Heard on High under the superb direction of our choir Director, Linda Nelson, we returned home, refreshed and fulfilled from hearing once again the beautiful Christmas story too. A very good reminder that although we all do get really wrapped up in all the hoopla leading up to Christmas -decorations, food preparations galore, gifts, wrapping and then, opening packages especially -that all too often the true reason why we celebrate this occasion gets stuffed in the background, lost in the mix.

And for a while on Christmas Eve, one could say our house did a good bit of that -getting all hepped up over the meal, the packages, and yes, the mess that comes with all of that work too!
(It took me the better part of Christmas Day till I finally got all the dishes washed up and put away from our dinner last night as well as from our "after church" snacks too -the cheeses, crackers and dips plus a bit of the Boone's Farm Wines I got for Christmas as well. (I['m enjoying a small glass right now of some Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine -an old, old favorite beverage of mine from way back in the dark ages. When I was still married, it was a bit of a tradition that my ex-husband would buy a case of Boone's Farm wines -a mixture of bottles -so I could take my pick -Apple Wine, Strawberry Hill or Mountain Grape. I used to joke that this was some "Fine Cheap Wine" but truth be told, I do like the flavors of this stuff and since I hadn't had any Boone's Farm stuff in many a year, it was a bit of a treat for me to partake last night of a bit of the wine! I even got a little surprise in that my son gave me a bottle of a different flavor that I'd never heard of -different flavor -Cold Creek Berry -which I really liked a lot too!)

Anyway, I thought since I haven't done any posts with pics of the kids and family for quite some time, that I'd give you a little glimpse of them -as well as the house and such -over the holidays.

Wednesday, the 22nd, was the final day of school here before the Christmas break and here's Maya, all decked out in the special dress she had for just that occasion. She was quite the excited little girl that day to be able to go to school and looking so pretty!
And here she is again, smiling so broadly, with her little brother looking a tad confused but happy that she allowed him to share her Rudolph hat that she made in school and proudly wore it home on the bus and then, turned it over to him. Days when she willingly shares things with her brother are a bit of a rarity here so maybe that's why he looks a bit confused!

Christmas Eve, I got my present from me to me -which consisted of the new glasses I had ordered on Tuesday at the Eye Doctor's and which I was really surprised when they phoned me on Thursday to tell me my new glasses -two pair (for the price of one, they say) were in already! Unfortunately, on Thursday, I had no transportation available as my son was using my jeep but Friday, you better believe I made arrangements with him so I could run into town and pick up my new specs! So nice to be able to read again!

The kids pestered Mandy most of the afternoon to please be permitted to open just one present and finally, she gave in and let them choose a package. They opted (maybe with a bit of persuasion from their mother though) to open the packages marked from Poppy to each of them. (Poppy being Grandpa who once upon a time, many, many moons ago, was married to Gram and who now lives in Nevada so the kids rarely see him.)
Here they are as they started ripping into those oh, so mysterious packages! Maya got a puppy on a leash that came with its own carrier too and Kurtis was thrilled beyond belief when he saw that his box contained a remote controlled car that is a "Bug-a-Bug" -which translated means it is a Volkswagon Bug vehicle! Uncle Clate took charge of the car and the battery charging which meant the car was on the charger all night then and on Christmas Day, it ended up being Uncle Clate who got to actually "play" with the car first as the kids were with their Dad and two of their siblings then too all day. Poor Sammy got chased all over the downstairs of the house by Uncle Clate with that car!
This shot is just for posterity's sake -to prove that once in a blue moon the living room actually gets cleaned up and in order -looking a bit nice and organized.
But then, in record time -or so it seemed -the living room then looks like this! Actually, the mess and mayhem was kept pretty well under control since I had Clate bring me a couple of garbage bags and as the kids opened their presents, I had them then put the ripped up wrapping paper in the garbage bags then and there! Kurtis, who usually is pretty good about helping to pick up around the place was Johnny on the spot to bring the papers over and put them in the trash bag and even Maya actually was a willing participator in this process too. I was in a bit of a state of shock to see her helping a bit to keep the mess under control as she generally never wants to help out in that respect, at all! Maybe she was remembering the "Elf on the Shelf" was watching and this gift exchange did not include any presents from Santa so she was just making sure, I guess, that he didn't overlook her because she'd been inconsiderate about helping to clean up!

Santa did come by this morning and both kids were really excited over what he left behind -more toys and even a brand new two-wheeler bike for Miss Maya! Heck of a time for a kid to get a new bike when there is snow on the ground and even the risk of a few icy patches on the road too so getting to actually try it out and ride it -well, that's gonna not happen for a while, I'm afraid! But she got plenty of other toys to occupy her time well until spring when the weather is much more conducive to bike riding then!

I got a surprise today too -an extra two gifts along with the items I received last night (a new sweater, a Penn State lap robe and coffee mug, plus a new faucet for my kitchen sink and a cute wall plaque that reads "My greatest blessings call me Grandma" and you know I loved that, don't you. But on Christmas Day, when I awoke from a long late morning-afternoon nap, there were two more gifts laying on the coffee table for me. Both were from Mandy's estranged husband a were quite a surprise to me as I sure wasn't expecting anything from him. But the neatest thing about his gifts to me was one was a Snuggie -one of those wrap-around you fleece things and the other is a little battery-operated apparatus that you can put in your ear and then be able to turn up the volume on the tv or whatever as high as you want and not annoy anyone else around by having the sound turned way up. Now, my kids got a big charge out of both of these gifts to me from him at first but in the end, they both agreed that both gifts were very well-intended and things I definitely would use and that I needed! The wrap-around thing is light-weight but just heavy enough to provide a lot of warmth to my arms, shoulders and back and that, plus the lap robe -well, they'll both get a work out here for sure because I am constantly freezing! (A bit of aftermath I guess from the chemo!) And the kids will be the first to admit that I can use something, for sure, to keep the volume on the tv under control so I can hear it without the sound deafening the rest of the household. I have not tried the device as yet but will let you know if it works as advertised! I sure do hope so and so does the rest of the family! So thank you Bill for two gifts that really are very much appreciated although I do wish he hadn't done that as I know his finances sure aren't in the best place where he can actually afford to be buying all kinds of presents for everyone and their brother, ya know.

And finally, a little bit of humor as we began moving closer on Christmas Eve to the big gift unveiling and such. Kurtis was playing in the late afternoon Christmas Eve on the living room floor and Mandy happened to see and hear this. He reached over for Maya's toy princess telephone and receiver in hand, he put it to his face and she heard him say, "Santa! I need help!"

We have no clue as to what his reason was to "call" Santa and make that statement unless of course, Maya may have been doing her normal thing and being the big bully sister that she often can be to him.

But needless to say, Mandy and I both loved the comment at any rate!

Here's hoping the beauty of this season and the reason behind it too are all part of your life -today and always. And may the New Year be one of great blessings to you and yours too.

And so, in the words my Swedish ancesters would have said, I say it now to you - God Jul!

Peace, love and happiness! May it all be yours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If Only In My Dreams....

I love Christmas music. Don't you? Doesn't everyone?

I love the carols and the service at our church on Christmas Eve that is filled with the singing of as many of the beautiful carols as the Minister and Organist and the choir too -can possibly fit into the service. The beauty of the words and music seem to cast a spell of peace, calm and serenity over me -no matter how much I had planned to do for Christmas each year and usually fell quite short of accomplishing those goals too, hearing the music just really does fill my soul in a way that no other service, no other time seems to bring to me.

At the onset of our Christmas Eve service though is the part that really stirs up my nostalgic side though. That's when the lights are dimmed and the choir gathers in the narthex and they sing an old favorite Christmas song that I especially love. The name of this song is "Lyssna, Lyssna" and it is sung in four-part harmony with no organ or piano accompaniment. Since it is an old Swedish Christmas Carol, it is also sung in Swedish too.

Not that there are lots and lots of members of our parish who still speak the Swedish language and the neat thing about this song being sung by our choir is that very few of the members of our church choir these days even have an ounce of Swedish blood in their ancestral line, but you see, the roots of those people who founded our parish back in the late 1880s were primarily from Sweden and so, even today with many of our members stemming from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, our church still celebrates the holidays by inserting many of the old Swedish traditions in whenever and wherever it can be done.

I love this song! I really and truly do. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my Grandfather singing it -with me listening to him and his beautiful bass voice as he would sing the harmony parts to this song -even after his own memory had run away from home, so to speak, he would remember the lyrics and the melody and sing it loud and clearly. It was one of his most favorite pieces of music and one that he in turn, taught me to love it too. I didn't learn the words to this song until probably two, maybe three years after my Grandpa died, but once I learned them, and the music, I've never forgotten it.

I have so many memories of Christmas and the majority of them are all good ones too. Oh, a few here and there that maybe didn't quite measure up to par but those were generally due to not having the best things going on in the background now and again during the years when I was married.

But as a child, the things I remember remain as a very strong part of me and what I think of around Christmas.

I remember vividly the smells in this old house of my Grandmother and Mom baking all kinds of wonderful things -from several kinds of breads (Swedish Limpa Rye, Grandma's regular white bread, special rolls, cinnamon buns, and braids), cookies of several varieties with Grandma's favorite being Fruit and Nut Cookies, made with fruit cocktail and chopped nuts in them.

And I remember too in the weeks preceding the holiday an aroma that, if a friend of mine happened to come home with me and who wasn't of the Swedish ethnicity, this particular smell might make that person cringe just a bit.

Anyone who has ever grown up in a household where the family partakes of dried salted cod fish will know that odor stems from all the soaking of the fish in a lye solution for about two weeks or so before it is ready to be cooked.

Known as Lutfisk, it was our main staple for our meal on Christmas Eve.

According to my Grandmother, the tradition was to have this fish -boiled -and served with plain boiled potatoes and creamed peas and with a cream gravy over the fish and potatoes. Very bland in color was how the early evening meal on Christmas Eve was supposed to be and boy, my Grandma did her darnedest too, every year, to follow that tradition right down the nth degree.

I think another reason we always at the Lutfisk early in the evening in our house too was because my aunts, uncle and cousins would generally start arriving between 8:30 and 10 p.m. and I don't think any of them happened to care that much for this particular meal, for the Lutfisk, except for my Grandparents, my Mom and me.

We always went to the very late service back then when I was a kid too -at 11 p.m. and after church, our neighbors across the street would always come in and join us for a very festive after-midnight snack which consisted primarily of breads and cheeses, pickled herring and another Swedish dish that I can't spell but the translation of this dish is jellied veal, served with a couple drops of vinegar on top of this concoction.

My Mom and Grandma would shop for a really nice piece of veal, preferably a knuckle joint with enough meat on it to cook off and lots of potential too, for the juices around the joint to cook down and create a gelatin-like dish. The meat would be ground up fine along with onions and peppercorns and some other spices and then, the juice/broth poured over it and it would be chilled into this meat jello. I finally found a recipe for this dish about 25 years or so ago and made it for Christmas for my kids and me but my son was the only one -besides myself -who would even taste it. What's sad -to me -is when I tried to make it that one time, it actually turned out very good and I wish my girls had at least just tried a little bit of it instead of turning up their noses at it. But then, that's what comes I suppose of not following traditions like we had when I was young each and every year and therefore, when I did spring this on my kids, they had definite ideas by that time of what they would and absolutely would not even try to eat.

I remember from about 8-8:30 on Christmas Eve, how I would wait and watch for cars coming down our street and hoping and praying with each little bit of traffic that came by that the vehicle would pull over in front of our house and my aunt and uncle from Pittsburgh and their five children would arrive and the house would begin to fill, not just with people but more so, with the noises associated with the first arrival of the family. Then, my two younger cousins, Ray and Dave and I would begin waiting and watching together for our uncle, aunt and cousin from Maryland to finally get here. Grandma would begin her pacing then too as she tried to stay calm but you know -or at least we knew -that she would always be worrying about this son and his family and their drive up here, over the Tuscarora Mountains of Southern Pennsylvania -which back then could prove to be a rather wicked trip for the vehicles of that era. Because that uncle had his own business and sometimes couldn't get away from their place in a more timely fashion than my other uncle and his family, it would often be right up to the wire to get to church on time from waiting, watching -and yes, worrying -about RW and his wife and daughter to get here.

Once Uncle Ralph arrived though, everyone could relax a bit and enjoy the raucous laughter that always ensued when he entered this old house. He was the tease! Always laughing and joking with Grandma and with the kids in the house too.

After church, and after our midnight meal, the business -the REAL business of the night took place as the Christmas presents were passed out. That was the time my cousins and I had really been waiting for the permission from our parents to "dig in!"

I remember too my Mom, kind of circling the living room as we would start ripping into packages and she would nudge me and my cousins, urging us to be careful please as we tore the wrappings off so she could go behind us and begin to gather up as many big pieces of wrapping papers as she could possibly retrieve and begin to try to neatly fold these pieces up to save for the next year. She and my Grandmother too would both do this and the following year, they would take the box they had stored those wrapping pieces in and get them out and begin to iron each and every piece, neatly, so it could then be reused the following year -thus saving them the expense of purchasing more gift wrapping paper. (They also tried to salvage every box that had held some gift in it too for reuse the following year as well.)

After the general hubbub of unwrapping gifts had finally died down and the grownups had then also had a little toast with some Mogan David wine, we kids would usually crash on the living room floor while Mom and Grandma would issue instructions to my aunts and uncle as to who would sleep in which bedroom and who would go across the road and sleep at the neighbor's house that night.

Once most everyone was in bed, that usually left my Mom and my Aunt Nellie to begin the preparations then for our Christmas Day meal -either a big turkey or a ham. So while the rest of the family had pretty much settled in to sleep, they would be busy out in the kitchen till around 5 a.m. before they would finally call it a day.

These things though are all memories I hold near and dear in my heart and every year, about this time, they surface as I think of how wonderful those holidays always were and always will be in my heart.

And that brings me to the secular song, "I'll be home for Christmas" which I also really love. And when I sing that song along with a cd of Christmas music, when I get to the line, "If only in my dreams" it always makes me tear up.

I am always here -HOME -for Christmas and have been now for well over three, almost four decades now but with the passage of time, beginning in 1958, with our first Christmas after Grandpa died and the first Christmas too without three of my cousins being present as well, the holiday, as I knew it, had begun to change. Within ten years, my Grandma died as well as my oldest uncle and my aunts and uncles and cousins had stopped coming "home" for the holiday. I wasn't even here then for about eight years as my Mom, older daughter and I were living in the D.C. area and we would drive up from D.C. to my uncle's place in Hagerstown so we could at least be with part of our family then, you see.

But Christmas -here -has never been quite the same for me.

I guess because I'm a good bit like my older uncle who had built his family a beautiful two-story brick home outside of Pittsburgh which he always referred to as his "house" but when he used the word "home" everyone knew he was referring to this old house here, that today is mine and my children's home. I can understand his differentiation in those two words completely because anytime I lived away from here, home was always meant to be this old house, this homestead, this place with all the voices and memories of the people I loved who made it home for me.

So you see, this year at Christmas, yes I'll be here at home but really it will be "only in my dreams!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

We're Cookin' Now!

Yep! I think I may have finally broken out of my pre-Christmas slump!

Saturday night, I pretty much had sat around all day and into the evening, feeling kind of sorry for myself, a bit blue and sad. Why? Because I didn't know that Mandy had made arrangements for the kids to go spend the day with her friend, Jenn-Jenn and her kids so I didn't make any arrangements aforehand then to get my jeep to use and do things Saturday afternoon. If the kids had been here, there's no way in God's Green Acres I would or could have tried to take them with me and try to finish up any Christmas shopping but without them here, I could have gone and perhaps taken advantage of some sales that were available on Saturday.

That kind of set the tone then for me for the day as I sang the "Poor Me" blues to myself for something to do, lacking anything better, ya know.

Finally, around 9 p.m., I was fairly wide-awake then and decided to bake some cookies. So, I got out the two bags of Andes Peppermint chips and made two big batches of cookies, using the recipe on the back of the bag.

Now, if you like Andes candies and peppermint, then this recipe is one you should give a shot! Most definitely! The cookies are kind of like Toll House except that they have oatmeal as well as coconut in them, and pecans and of course, these scrumpdelishous peppermint chips! I baked a little over 12 dozen of these puppies and everyone in the family who has tried them now, loved 'em! So I will definitely be baking these cookies again in the future!

Sunday, yet another day of no wheels and left to my own devices as Maya had spent the night at Jenn-Jenn's house and Kurtis went with his dad for the bulk of the day. Talk about a quiet house, this place was that, for sure.

I confess it is kind of nice if the kids are out and with their dad or someone or somewhere else. Quiet is nice now and then. It was really nice not to have to listen to Kurtis crying because Maya had just pushed him or done some other mean little trick to him -and baby, she has dozens of tricks she pulls on poor Kurtis and he either ends up with being hurt, physically, or just having his feelings tromped on some times too.

But the thing of it is, when they are gone for any length of time, then I start missing the noise and confusion and the mischief-making too that usually goes along with their being here.

Yeah, I'm one really spoiled and often confused too, old lady who just wants to have her grandkids around me as much as possible! By the time they both got back home Sunday night, I had definitely had my fill of the silence in the house -enough to last me a good while anyway!

But I did take advantage of the quiet on Sunday and managed then to get my cards addressed. Well, all but two that is and I couldn't find addresses for those two potential recipients so will have to make other arrangements to get cards sent to those folks on my list.

Today, I had to go to Clearfield for my weekly blood work, so I had Clate come down here and Mandy took him to work so I could use the jeep to go to the clinic. Things went very smoothly with the lab tech person today and after I left there, I went and got my son what probably will be his most appreciated present this year. I went to the District Magistrate's office and paid off the last of the fines he had there! To the tune of $60.00, no less! I gave him the paper tonight just before supper and yes, he was really happy and excited to see that was out of his hair. I knew he had to make a payment on this fine by this Wednesday and I also knew he didn't have near enough money to even make a payment -what with other bills hitting him right and left and not near enough money coming in to make payment on all of them much less this hanging heavy over his head too. I figured since I got that nice windfall sale last week of so many of my needlecraft items, the least I could do was eliminate that worry for him.

As he said when he saw what I had done, "Well at least I don't need to worry now about the sheriff having a warrant out for me, do I?" No, son you don't but please, don't do this stupid stuff again!

Now, tomorrow - I have a much needed, long overdue appointment with the eye doctor so I can finally get my eyes checked, new lenses and frames ordered and perhaps sometime within the next week or two, be able to see much better -again! The lenses in these glasses just don't give me the vision help I need and the fact the frames are more than a little bit bent out of shape too, doesn't do a thing to help my eyesight either. Nor do these frames do anything to help my appearance either as they are so bent and wobbly too that they look like my face must be a bit crooked!

Once I get that taken care of, then I can dig in and start doing some really serious baking. Have lots of different cookies I want to make, plus bread to bake on Thursday and Friday. Then, I also have to figure out my menu for our Christmas meal which will be Friday night prior to going to church plus another meal on Saturday as well.

Now just so we don't get hit with some bit old snowstorm or some such nasty kind of weather, or no one has a bad accident that knocks the power out for any length of time to prevent me from completing my baking and cooking routine and we'll be good to go then Friday night as well as Saturday where the food is concerned anyway!

And Mandy is a bit peeved this evening with Uncle Clayton and Gram too. But this new word in Kurt's vocabulary didn't come from us teaching him this. Rather, it came from his seeing one of those Geico ads and he apparently fell in love with the psychiatrist in the ad who yells at his client and calls him a "jack-wagon!" Cause he said that after the ad had just finished playing on the tv which got Uncle Clate to giggling and that was all it took.

You laugh at anything he says and boy, that word or words then do often seem to get locked in his mind for a long, long time.

Mandy -by the time supper was over had had enough of his calling everyone and everything around here a "jack-wagon" so now, Uncle Clate and Gram are on her bad list for egging the boy on to get him to say this over and over again.

I swear I didn't encourage him to do that.

Really, I didn't. It's all that bad Uncle Clayton's fault. And you know, don't you, I wouldn't lie about this, now would I?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wish In One Hand....

Here's a question for you.

How many of you have ever been trying to scrape up some extra cash and gathered up whatever jewelry or gold/silver things you had and sold it to one of the places that deal in cash for jewelry, etc.?

I did that one time -about 24 years ago!

I was going to try to move from this one-horse (not even that anymore) town and was considering a move to Cleveland because my best friend at that time had moved back to her parents home in one of the Cleveland suburbs and had told me that work was very plentiful there and that one could earn a decent wage too, doing data entry and stuff like that. (I had worked doing data entry back in the 60s and 70s in D.C. and also, in the late 70s in State College, at the university so my skills in that aspect were still very strong.

Anyway, I had gathered up what few pieces of jewelry I had that wasn't just costume jewelry and took it to a place near here where you could sell the stuff. If I remember correctly now, I think I reaped a grand total of $200 -which I used then to open a savings account. That savings account was the first one I'd been able to open since my older daughter was a baby -about 20 years earlier.

I even sold the small diamond engagement ring the guy I had gone with for almost 3 years had given me too! I had offered to return it to him when I broke things off with him, but he had insisted I keep it. Probably the only good thing that ever came out of that lovely relationship.

But anyway, tonight -doing a little surfing and playing to occupy my mind and keep me from starting to do my Christmas Cards (Yeah, I will go to all lengths to procrastinate and keep from doing that dreaded chore!), I came across a site that had me wishing I had some gold or jewelry to trade in or better yet, that I could buy gold coins!

Holy Rip! Have you checked on the price of gold lately? If I had any idea -and anything I could use to sell that was pure gold, boy, I could make a good profit there now.

But, then too, with my luck, as soon as I had something like that to sell or had enough money on hand to risk investing, I figure the price of gold would then probably drop down to being only worth pennies.

And then, I'd be saying the rest of the words that generally finish the adage I used for my title today.

Yeah -I'd be checking to see which hand filled first and I know exactly -I think -what I'd probably be holding, don't you?

Guess there's nothing left for me to do but go write out the darned Christmas cards now.

Better day tomorrow, I hope!

Christmas Present for ME!

If you have followed my blog for any time now -or also follow me on Facebook -you know I spend a huge amount of time busy with needlecraft stuff -embroidery in particular.

I have published photos on my blog throughout the past year now of the various projects I have completed, most of which have been tabletopper cloths -the smaller, square pieces that can be used as a center piece on a dining room table or that just fit on a smaller kitchen table. I also had put up pictures of the pillow cases I completed along with the ONE tablecloth done -measuring 50x50 inches square and also a couple other smaller embroidered items.

My goal had been to try to get enough items completed early enough -before Christmas -to open an site and see if I could perhaps sell a few of these things.

I didn't get around to opening an site just yet but hopefully sometime in 2011 I will be able to do that but I'm going to have to really get busy -again -and do lots and lots of embroidery work and quickly too because yesterday, I pretty much had much of my stockpile of items wiped out!

No, nothing drastic happened to any of these craft things, but I did manage to sell a goodly amount of my craft stuff yesterday to one lady, who came to my house and loaded up with the tablecloth, six tabletoppers, five pair of pillow cases, a set of acrylic coasters, a pair of terry guest towels and two small childrens vests!

I won't elaborate on how much she paid me for those items but suffice it to say, it will make for a much nicer Christmas for my kids and me, that's for sure!

If anyone reading this is interested in purchasing any tabletoppers, I decided to post photos here of the ones I still have available. Pretty slim pickings really compared to what I had on hand yesterday morning!

"Christmas Tree" -Here's a view of the full cloth to the left and on the right, a corner closeup of the tree, all decked out with the colorful balls and ribbons.

This one is a Nordic Christmas design and on the left is a "full" view of the cloth with a corner closeup shown on the right.

Here's full view on the left of "Golden Lillies" with the corner close-up on the right. My apologies for the darkness of the upper part of the pictures but I haven't been able to figure out how to photograph these pieces and get the lighting even on the pics. Any suggestions? Feel free to pass them along to me!

Reflections is the name of this piece and I will say this -it is the least expensive of the items available mainly because there isn't all that much embroidery work on it. The leaves are appliqued on which means there was a lot less time involved in finishing it!

This one is titled "Winding Flowers" and was one of my own particular favorites while doing it. Just thought the flowers -and the edging -made it a really pretty piece.

And, the last piece -is this one, which I don't recall the name of this tabletopper. But it is a pretty piece with the blue flowers with yellow accents and the very pretty yellow lace edging along the cloth.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about any of these items as I'd be happy to give you whatever information I can pertaining to them.

But these pieces, along with all the pieces the lady purchased yesterday -plus a couple of small things done specifically for family and/or friends, represent a years worth of embroidery work for me. Trust me when I tell you, that's a whole lot of hours! And, if you are interested in purchasing a piece, keep in mind that what I ask for an item represents the cost of the materials and my labor -which generally runs to two to three weeks worth of working several hours a day but I can't very well ask the going rate of minimum wage or these pieces would then run several hundred dollars per piece and I can't very well see anyone wanting to pay anywhere near that much for an item like this, can you? Still and all, my time, I do believe, is worth something, but I do try to ask what I believe is a fair and reasonable price for them.

Now that there is only a week left till Christmas and I have yet to address any Christmas cards, nor have I done any baking, plus I have gifts to be wrapped too -its gonna be a really hectic week ahead for me!

The hardest part of those tasks for me is the Christmas card thing! I absolutely hate to address them! Within five minutes after signing the very first card and putting a name and address to the envelope, my right hand will begin to cramp and as a result, my penmanship -which is a lot on the chicken-scratchy side to start with -will become more and more illegible as the addressing process goes on! I'd like to wheedle Mandy into doing this dreaded job for me but she already has more than enough on her plate with working and dealing with the kids too. Too bad Maya's printing is rather large right now or I could, I'm sure, get her to do this for me as she has been getting into the boxes of cards her mother purchased and been addressing them to everyone and their brother until Mandy catches her with the cards! I think Mandy's now had to purchase at least one more box of cards, possibly two, to make up for the ones Maya got into!

And - you all know too how things go in the weeks leading up to Christmas when there are small children around -all the threats of how we're gonna keep lists of who's been naughty and nice to scare the living daylights out of those children, hopefully into behaving better. Well, although I have not seen these "elf on a shelf" things I read about, yesterday, at supper, I told Maya that she'd best straighten her act out because unbeknownst to her, there is an elf in the house who sleeps on the shelf in the dining room -when she is sleeping but the rest of the time, he is invisible and follows her and Kurtis all over the house, watching their actions, recording for Santa when they do nice things (like pick up their toys willingly or are nice, not bullying each other -the bullying thing is mainly for Maya's benefit as she does really try to boss -and push -Kurtis around ALL the time) so she has, at every opportunity now, been inquiring more and more about that "elf" ya know. Not that I've seen any major changes in her behavior as apparently she fears nothing when it comes to that stuff, but I figure any little thing that might get her attention is worth a shot, ya know.

At least she hasn't found the boxes (and there are two fairly large ones) in my bedroom that are packed with unwrapped gifts though. Thankfully, she is quite as much of a snoop in all areas of the house like her mother and aunt were -and her grandmother too which my Mom would say if she were around to comment about that topic! Especially since this week, Maya has returned to sleeping in my room with me again! Mandy was a bit concerned that she might nose around but so far, so good and lets hope it continues in that vein too!

I finally got around today to making an appointment to have my eyes checked and to get new glasses -which are really very badly needed too, I might add. That is my Christmas present from me to me, ya know! The stem on the right side broke several months back and was "mended" somewhat haphazardly at that time and then, if you recall when I went to my cousin's funeral last month, I changed my name, temporarily there to Grace as I managed to fall, flat on my face in the parking lot and broke the frames then above the left eye! I did manage -thanks to some crazy glue -to get the frames glued back together -again, a bit haphazardly too but the upshot was that the glasses kind of fit like my face is crooked -leaning down a bit on the right side! Okay, so they made me look a bit on the drunk side I guess -that I couldn't even put glasses on straight ya know -so I hope to heck I can get fitted with some new frames and especially with new and much more powerful lenses too because these that I have now just don't do the job adequately any more! I really would like to be able to see what I'm doing much better than I can right now! Of course, I can always use the excuse that my glasses need changed when I screw things up though, can't I? But who wants to eat stuff that doesn't taste quite right because I can't read the measuring spoons or cups correctly right now, huh?

Yesterday, my high school girlfriends and I celebrated our third Christmas lunch together! Three years ago this month, our friend, Rose, came up with this idea for the group of us -five usually -who have known each other for between 55 and 60 years now, to have lunch together once a month and thus started our little tradition. Two of us live within two doors of each other, Rose lives about 2 miles from Kate and me; Linda lives about 12 miles from us and Carol, lives over the mountain in State College -about 35 miles from here. A sixth former classmate who lives about 4 miles from those of us here in this region attends our lunches too every now and again and today, she was with us. So we six had a very lovely meal, shared news of our kids and grandkids and such and had many, many laughs too. Three of my classmates -Carol, Rose and Kate are married while Claudia and Linda are widows and I'm the so-called "gay divorcee" ya know! Rose and Carol will celebrate their golden wedding anniversaries next year -Rose and her husband Durvin, in March -on St. Patrick's Day and Carol and her husband, Ed (who grew up two doors up the street from me) will have been married 50 years next September or October -can't recall right now which month it is. Kate and Jim -my neighbors 2 doors down -celebrated their 45 anniversary this past October. I find it absolutely fantastic that they have made it those many years together! And yes, I confess, I do have a little twinge of jealousy -or envy -of them for having been able to do that especially when I think I was damned lucky to have lived through being married for a mere eight years! (Yeah I know -you just have to be fortunate enough first off to have found the right person and then, both have to have been willing to work like hell to make things work as well! And even then, sometimes, things just don't work out the way you'd like them to I suppose, do they?)

So now, time for me to go hop in bed with my sweet little sleeping buddy who will have that bed all nice and toasty warm for me too. It's one time of the day when Maya truly is very angelic so I kind of like to take advantage then of that aspect!

Hope you all are better organized with getting the last of your holiday preparations completed and are able to relax a bit, enjoy the beauty of the season in all aspects.

Just remember there's a whole lot more to Christmas than presents, baking and Christmas cards as those are just symbols and not the true meaning of this blessed season.

Sit back and read the words that tell us why we celebrate our Savior's birth and keep that message uppermost in our minds -that's my thoughts anyway as Christmas Day draws nearer and nearer.

And I'll be watching that "elf on the shelf" too -as he tries to sleep after a hard days work of recording the antics of the two little grandchildren that rule this household too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I don't know what your views are about discipline and, of course, punishment for children and at the risk of offending some of you perhaps, I debated about whether I should post this or not.

I do and I don't believe in corporal punishment. I've always believe for very small children -toddlers -that a little pat on the behind with a stern voice and reprimand were fine. Not a hard, hand on skin type hit, but just a friendly reminder, shall we say, that the child's actions were not in line with the expectations of the adult population.

I did that with my kids when they were small and as they grew up, I did a lot more threatening than actual physically giving them a smack. That is not to say that occasionally, things got to a point where it seemed the only thing that would suffice as appropriate to reprimand them did involve a spanking but those occasions were, for my kids, pretty much as far and few in between as had been spankings I received too as a kid.

Usually, with mine, I could threaten them that I was going to count to three and by the time I hit three, their behavior had best taken an about face or they knew, somehow or other, there would be hell to pay. Not necessarily physical punishment of a spanking but something would give and it wouldn't be me, so they'd best straighten up and fly right.

Not that they were always all that good at remembering what the house rules were supposed to be, but overall, they turned out pretty darned decent by the time they hit adulthood.

Now, with Maya -boy, she really knows how to put people to the test of wills!

When she gets a notion into her head, trying to distract her to something else or even more difficult, to discipline her is quite a task.

Sunday afternoon, I was busy in the kitchen, trying to make a dessert dish, as well as two other dishes to take with us to church that night for the annual St. Lucia Program and Pot Luck Dinner so I really wasn't in the mood at all to put up with any of her shenanigans.

I had been after her for quite some time to pick up toys she had strewn around the living room and she had repeatedly been ignoring my requests. I put both her and Kurtis into a time out -7 minutes for her (it goes by the age of the child) and for Kurtis, 4 minutes. Of course, she was highly offended that his time out was shorter than hers and I simply told her that was too bad, so sad, but that's the breaks of this game, ya know.

And still she refused to obey my instructions to pick up any of the mess she had on the living room floor. No! Now she also began to sass me too and was also poking her feet (clad in socks) into Kurt's face and I told her to stop that, to sit up straight and behave till her time out was over or else, she was liable to end up with a sore behind.

(Yes, I do threaten that punishment from time to time and sometimes -if I am very lucky -she will realize and remember that every now and again Grammy's threats aren't just words, but if pushed too far, she just might follow through.

Sunday, Maya decided to push me a bit more and I went over to her, got her by her upper arms and pulled her into a sitting position away from her brother. She sassed me yet again and I told her she'd best think twice about talking to me like that. Oh how that child loves a challenge, ya know -cause she mouthed off once more to me and with that, I raised my hand and gave her a very quick, but a bit sharp smack on her behind.

The look on her face was absolutely priceless as I could see she was really surprised by this.

But what got me even more was when she looked up and me and said, "Hey! You did that on purpose!"

Damned straight I did my little Princess!

But I also had to turn around and glanced at my son, who was laying on the sofa, watching tv and both of us had to put our hands over our mouths so as not to let her see we were both laughing at her response then too!

As I said, this is not a means of discipline that I use all the time -just when she gets really out of hand and I can't get a means to redirect her at the time. Much of the time, she know when she's about pushed me to my limits simply by looking at my eyes and she can tell a lot by the glare she gets from me as well as the tone of my voice.

But every now and again, she is the recipient of that thing many refer to as an "attitude adjustment."

A bit later when her mother came onto the scene, she got yet another rude awakening because she and her brother had pretty much trashed their bedroom and she had refused to help pick up that mess too. So Mandy grabbed a garbage bag, headed up to their room and proceeded to pick everything up off the floor and put it in the garbage bag then, telling Maya it was all going into the trash. A whole lot of wailing and gnashing of the teeth then ensued and the bag made its way downstairs where it is now still sitting but which will shortly go to the basement, out of sight for a while and Maya will be left to brood and stew a bit about all the toys, many which she just got for her birthday two months ago, are now in that bag.

It's a toss-up whether either method works or if one works better than the other. But with her, because of her obsessions at times, you have to take a really firm stand with her or else.

With Kurtis, generally all I have to do with him most of the time is to give him "the look" or what my kids always referred to as the "evil eye" and he takes off and starts picking him toys and such. The only time the "evil eye" has absolutely no affect whatsoever on him is when it comes to trying to get him to eat! He can be just as stubborn then as his sister if he insists he isn't going to eat something on his plate!

How did or do you handle discipline with your kids? Just wondering.

I remember my Mom getting really, really angry with me a few times when I was a child and on those occasions when she actually administered a spanking, it was something I knew then and remember today that I richly deserved that punishment too!

My kids will likely say the same about what they did and what I did in return as well.

I do wonder though with Maya, in particular, how she views her behaviors vs our house rules and punishment for disregarding them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming Up Fast!

All kinds of things happening here lately! Some nice, good -and of course, with these two grandchildren present, some aren't always that great to deal with either!

Where to begin now? Hmmm. Well, let's start with Friday morning and Maya getting ready for school. This was one of the "not so nice" episodes with the DIVA side of Maya making a really strong appearance.

Let me say this about her - she is and can be quite fashion conscious, sometimes. Friday morning may have been one of those times when SHE thought she was being quite the princess but her choice of shoes that day left a whole lot to be desired in her mother's mind as well as mine.

She had decided to wear this cute pair of leggings with a matching top and I have no clue as to what possessed her when it came to the shoes to wear to school that day but she decided that she should wear this pair of really pretty, very dressy, black patent numbers that are also, open-toed! For openers, the leggings and top were "schoolish" -not party-time pieces, if you get my drift and where we live, here in central Pennsylvania, we have snow on the ground, on the road and oh, a tad of ice here and there underneath all that too. Open-toe shoes on Friday, when it may have been a tiny bit warmer than it had been earlier that week, it still wasn't near warm enough for open-toed shoes.

Needless to say, Mandy put her foot down on Maya's idea and, if you know the old joke about a married couple where the guy makes a comment that doesn't go over too well and the next line is "And then the fight began" well, that's pretty much what happened here.

Maya does not always deal very well with being told something other than what she thinks is the best thing to do so she and Mandy got into a battle that had Maya first whining, then wimpering, then wailing and there was a good bit of yelling and maybe you could even say, gnashing of teeth that resulted in her missing her bus.

Now, this is also a child who loves going to school and the thought of being late -well, unlike her aunt, she takes great offense to that idea and just KNEW that Mr. McClelland (her teacher) was going to be very upset with her. Add to that, Mandy then told her she was going to be a little later than she would have been if Mandy had been better dressed because now, she had to go change her clothes in order to drive her to school and walk her into the office and go through all that rigamaroo that you have to do when coming to school late. As Mandy put it, "It would be one thing for MarKay (the bus driver) to see me in my raggy old green sweatpants, but I'll be damned if I'm walking into the elementary office wearing these things, so you'll just have to chill a bit till I get dressed!"

I don't know how late Maya was -for all I know, Mandy may have even beaten the bus in getting there, but I sure do hope we don't have many more mornings like that one was. (However, something tells me that by the time Maya hits her teen years, there's gonna be a whole lot more mornings like this one was!)

Friday nite, Mandy and the kids were in Philipsburg at the Weis Market there, picking up a few items we needed and somehow or other, Maya managed to loose another tooth. And yes, it was another upper tooth too so now, she really is toothless across the front and can be singing "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" but she'll have to change to her "three front teeth." We've been teasing her that if this keeps up, pretty soon she'll totally be "gumming it!" (Either that or she can join me in eating soft foods that are easy to chew and digest.)

The tooth fairy forgot to show up Friday night and didn't make the standard appearance here till Saturday night but again, Maya left instructions for the tooth to be hidden under Gram's pillow and the reward placed there. No tooth fairy is allowed to enter her bedroom ya know. Hmmm. As much as that individual is paying these days, I think I should at least get a cut considering it's my pillow that's being used, don't you?

I was supposed to have an appointment tomorrow with my surgeon in Pittsburgh but as of Friday afternoon all the weather forecasts for today and Monday were calling for a 70 percent chance of snow and that it would be a heavy snowfall at that. So, without too much more thought about that forecast, I called my doctor's office and canceled that appointment! Mandy had said earlier in the week that there was no way in God's green acres she was driving to Pittsburgh if there was even the slightest chance of snow and as much as I don't really want to be riding that far if it is just really, really cold, I'll be darned if I want to ride that far if it is snowing, even just flurries, ya know! Ya, I'm turning into a big old coward in my dotage.

Today was a big day at our church too. Every year, on the Sunday in December that falls closest to the 13th of the month, we celebrate St. Lucia Day, in honor of St. Lucia, the patron saint of Sweden. (The people who founded the church my family and I attend, back in the late 1800s, were of Swedish descent and even when I was a kid, the majority of the membership was of Swedish ethnicity. Although today, our congregation is very diverse with respect to culture/ethnicity, we have made this celebration an annual tradition for about 30 years now and I love this celebration -"The Festival of Light" is what it really is.)

Last year was the first year that Maya participated in the pageant/program and was part of St. Lucia's court. Last year, all those in St. Lucia's court also held a lit candle as they did their entrance into the church social hall and Maya made a few of the women's heart flutter a good bit in fear as they watched her walk in holding that lit candle. This year, one of the ladies who gets the kids ready for their grand entrance solved that problem as she had found some little "flameless" candles the younger kids could use! Same effect, just a whole lot less scariness, ya know.

And Maya did her part quite well, walking in behind the only "star boy" this year but when she got up front with the rest of the court, you could see how proud she was that she was able to participate in this event.
Here's the full court for St. Lucia this year. From left-to right, Tom, Maya, Rachel, Jenny, Casey and this year's St. Lucia, Liz! A much smaller court than we've had some years, but the kids each did their part and there were more than a few proud parents -and grandparents -present to see them -and also, to hear the kids sing this little Swedish folk song -which I don't know the name of it, much less the words, but it's really cute anyway!

We have a lot of juggling we have to do here now too since my son's pickup truck broke down last Monday and neither he, nor his uncle (who is one of THE BEST mechanics in the county) or my ex-son-in-law (also a mechanic) have a clue as to what is wrong with the poor little pickup. So, since sonny-boy is also majorly job hunting, he has been using my jeep to run around, dropping off applications, praying for an interview and beyond that, to an invitation to become an employee of some outfit around these hills, and make it soon too please!!! And that, of course, leaves me with no vehicle, doesn't it?

Aside from having canceled the Pittsburgh appointment for tomorrow, I am also supposed to report to the Cancer Center in Clearfield early in the a.m. to have my weekly blood work drawn so, if it isn't dumping tons of snow and looks like we can get through from here to there, I'm going to have to have my son take me for that appointment so he can then still be able to use my jeep to go to a little bit of a job he landed on Thursday -bartending at one of the local establishments here. Tuesday -I have another doctor's appointment in Clearfield -this one with a heart specialist that my family doctor ordered I see him because she had detected some "relatively minor changes" on my last ekg -done the day they tried to give me the first chemo treatment, which you all may recall ended badly with my mega allergic reaction to the drugs in the chemo! Sheesh! I ask you now, if you had something like that happen and immediately after, they ran and ekg on you, wouldn't you pretty much expect it to be a bit different from the previous ekgs? I know, I'm just whining here simply because I don't want to go see this heart specialist and get forced into having a freaking stress test which would mean I would have to go, 12 or 24 hours (not sure which) with NO nicotine and NO caffeine either! Man, these people want to kill me, not cure me when they order things like that! I'm just whining tonight but wait till I have to have that stress test and you all will probably hear me wailing then, I bet!

On a pretty good side, I do have most of my shopping for the holiday complete now. Darned good thing too, because the coins aren't there to support much more spending anyway. I'm just relieved that the kids are as young as they are and as such, have never heard of Wii or an Xbox 360 or any of the other high-priced things most kids have on their wish lists! If they ever begin expressing a desire in the near or far off future for anything that would cost an arm and a leg, I'm afraid we'll have some mighty disappointed gift recipients in years to come!

I just checked the weather here -still a tiny bit of misting but thus far, nothing else. I suppose since I canceled that darned Pittsburgh appointment, it will end up to be nothing but a little spritzing. Just my kind of luck in trying to figure out what the heck avenue to take, ya know.

So now, just remember that Monday -December 13th -is St. Lucia Day and the way to honor her completely is for the oldest female in the house to rise and shine about 2-3 a.m., bake a batch of St. Lucia buns (and ice them too, I might add), make a pot of coffee and then, don a white robe, a crown of live (lit) candles and to then wake up all the other members of the household by serving them coffee and St. Lucia buns in bed.

I'll pay my tribute to St. Lucia on the Sunday nearest that date at the program at church and the great pot luck dinner we have there then too. Even though -as most of you are aware - I do tend to be a night owl, there is no way on God's Green Acres you're gonna have me report in later that I stayed up all night baking rolls, making coffee and being bright and chipper around 6-7 a.m. to serve that to my family.

Their on their own tomorrow morning!

But have a Happy St. Lucia Day -do it for me, Okay?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Now, To Get Organized!

I finally finished what will possibly be the last tabletopper I may be doing in 2010 yesterday morning. Now, I'm working on a counted cross stitch picture that -if all goes well and I don't go blind from it -hopefully I will be able to complete it in time to give it as a little gift for someone special to Mandy, the kids and me. Not naming any names here because I know she sometimes reads my blog and if I don't get it done, or manage to muck it up and can't give it to her, well, that just wouldn't be right now, would it.

But anyway, here's a couple of pictures of the last two tabletoppers I completed this year.

This one was one of my favorite pieces! I sort of have a "thing" I guess for Poinsettias as I have made several now over the past two years that involved poinsettias.
And this one -I fell in love with this one when it was first brought out about a year ago by the crafts place where I generally get all my embroidery stuff. But the base price of it was way out of my reach so I was just hoping that sometime they would put it on sale and finally, in mid-November they did. It wasn't the best price I've ever seen for a tabletopper but they had at least marked it down to a price that I felt I could spring for it and I really enjoyed doing this piece. Only took me about 10 days in all to get it finished which really made me very happy too!

Around the house, things have begun to change a little bit with respect to Maya. She finally now has a friend, a year younger than her, but who lives about 4 houses down the street from us and the two girls have begun the process of forming a friendship. For Maya, this is the first she's had an opportunity to have a friend nearby and close to her in age as well as interests too. However, this is now also bringing about a new problem for us with her!

She has gone down to this little girl's house a couple of times now to play and this week, was invited down there Monday evening for a little birthday party for her friend too.

Much as we know she definitely needs friends in her own peer group, she doesn't understand that she can't go down there every evening after school or all weekend either, every weekend. Nor does she understand that she can't go there and just stay there almost forever either.

All of this creates a lot of weeping then after she has to return home. And we have to keep explaining this friendship process again and again to her. Most kids, by the time they get to Maya's age, have several friends in their own age groups and such but this is the first Maya has had an opportunity to experience this in her life.

The first day she went down to her friend's house, the little girl and her mother had walked up to get Maya and she was allowed to take her bike down there that day. As I watched out the window of the front door, Maya and her friend, side-by-side on their bikes and the other little girl's mother walking behind them I was struck by the differences in Maya's life at age seven and how my own life was at that age.

By the time I was seven, I had several girlfriends the same age and we were pretty much on our own -allowed to play outside year-round -riding bikes when the weather was good, sled riding in the winter, building snowmen, making angels in the snow together too in the winter and never did we have a parent supervising every single activity we had back then. Maya has never been able to just go outside and play in the yard alone or even with friends -mainly because she still isn't that observant about things that could create a dangerous situation for herself or for others.

And I just think that is so sad to realize how much fun she has missed out on because of her not realizing things that could harm her -or Kurtis too. She needs to learn those things to develop her sense of independence.

Today was finally a fairly decent day for me! The darned injection I had to have last Thursday -required after each chemo treatment -really did a number on me this time as it left me feeling like I had been run over by a steam roller or some such thing and just flat out exhausted too! Six day it had me in its grip and boy, what a good feeling it was to wake up this morning and NOT feel like that -all achy and still as tired as I was before going to bed, ya know!

Even had a little incentive to do some surfing a bit today, playing on some survey sites I signed up for (desperation breeds strange bedfellows ya know when you're trying to find little ways to add a little funding) but some of the sites piqued my interest in other things too -one being custom laptops -which really amazed me as to all the various programs and such some of them can be loaded with. (I saw some that even had fingerprint technology on them! Imagine that! Wonder if they are special computers for private investigators or something like that?) Of course, the prices were wicked on those models too but still, it did fascinate me that you could get a computer with stuff like that. Just goes to show how little I know too, I guess, doesn't it?

I've been putting this off now all week but by the looks of things with respect to the weather forecast here for the weekend and for the beginning of next week, it looks like I'm going to have to call my doctor in Pittsburgh today now and cancel my appointment scheduled for Monday afternoon. They are calling for sleet and ice this weekend here -which is going to make the St. Lucia Day program set for Sunday evening (with a big pot luck dinner then too) difficult for people to attend and I really hate to see that happen as I very much love this particular celebration at our church every year. And Monday, they are calling for snow and nastiness again and neither Mandy nor I will attempt to drive the 130 plus miles, one way -from here to Pittsburgh and back in weather conditions like that! Better to stay home and try to reschedule the check-up I'm thinking.

So, there you have it -all the news from this house that is fit to print I guess! Maybe next week, if my energy holds up for me, I will get in the mood to do some baking for the holidays. I really shouldn't do that because that's putting temptation out there, right smack dab in front of me with the cookies I do love to make and don't need them wreaking havoc then with my flood sugar levels nor with my weight! How the heck do I get around that without eating at least a few cookies anyway?

That will probably be my next dilemma I suppose!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Something Wrong Here!

Boy, I do hate it when things go slightly awry with my computer! Really and truly I do!

And that's the case here tonight where I'm in need of opening a couple different files in "My Documents" and I can't get the computer to open any of them!

This all started when a cousin of mine wrote and asked me for the home addresses for three of our mutual cousins. She figured I had their current addresses because I was the one who always wrote the family newsletter every summer about our family reunion we used to have and then would send this newsletter to every one who I had an address for -and I had a bundle of 'em too, I might add.

I've never had this kind of problem with my computer before! So what the heck gives now?

One of the address files is saved as a Word document and two others are saved as Open Office -which is supposed to open virtually anything -but for some reason or other, I can't even get Open Office to open a new document for me either tonight! Just very frustrating.

I hope to heck this isn't an omen of pending disaster that might send me to look for information on new desktop computers!

I've only had this particular computer for about three years now and it's got plenty of features that are all still in fine shape, as computers go, ya know so I would really hate to have to go shopping for a new unit!

That would be just what I really DON'T need at this point in time, for sure!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Spinning Wheels

Good news, bad news, sorrows in the family yet again. Where to begin?

First, the good news I guess and that would be that with the 4th chemo treatment I had this past Tuesday, my oncologist made the decision that I don't have to have the last two treatments that had been scheduled! Now that news is the kind of stuff I don't mind getting nor do I mind telling everyone and anyone about that too!

The bad news though came this morning when the daughter of my cousin who passed away quite suddenly almost four weeks ago now phoned me to tell me that her Dad died too -this morning. What a blow for this young lady and her two brothers to now lose their Dad so closely after their Mom's death. It's one of those things where you really don't know what to say, what to offer to help and what does the family need right now -other than prayers and more prayers, really? He had been in very poor health for several years so it didn't come as a huge shock but still, and all, it is a shock after all, isn't it?

My son is going through a very rough time right now -unemployed and because of a screw-up last year when he lost his job with the unemployment office, now he can't even sign up for benefits. Somehow, that doesn't seem fair to me to punish him when it was a mistake on the part of his past employer on the paperwork but that's how that cookie crumbled ya know. He's not happy with me right now because we had words this evening about this whole situation and I think he should make arrangements to go back to work for the gas company he had been working for most recently although to do that would mean he would have to leave home and go to North Dakota and spend the winter months working up there in the great outdoors!

I told him I don't really want him to go there but my reasons for not wanting him to do that are selfish as I want him to be here, to be near his sisters and me. However, if that is the only job available to him that would pay him a reasonably decent wage, then perhaps it would be best if he'd "suck it up" and go there! ]

He seems to think I don't understand about taking a job, just to have a job and not really being happy with the work, etc. Boy, is he ever wrong on that count!

I tried to explain to him that the bulk of my working life was spent in employment that barely paid enough to get by on and then, working a second job on top of that most of the time too. He forgets that after I finished college, I couldn't even get an interview much less hired for a job in the field I had studied and as a result, I ended up taking the only full-time job I could get then -working as assistant manager at a truck stop restaurant in the same position I had held prior to my going to college and I hated that job, that place with an absolute purple passion. But sometimes, you do what you have to do to survive, whether you like it or not.

Sometimes, over the years since I graduated and took that job (again) I thought working there made about as much sense to me as it would for me to go to Florida for a Fort Lauderdale car rental while living here in Pennsylvania. Go figure, huh?

I'm hoping something comes along and very soon too so that maybe my son will get a job here or fairly close to home, but if it doesn't, then he -along with his sisters and me too -will just have to "suck it up" and head to the great outdoors, freezing temperatures and blizzards of the prairie land of North Dakota.

Life happens to all of us and often brings consequences along with it too that none of want to deal with but you do what you have to do, regardless, don't you?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fat Cat!

Our cat, Fluffnuts, is turning into quite the big, furry beast!

He was a year old in October and though he does still play from time to time with Sammy, those activities have lessened a good bit over the past few months.

As cats are known to be, he is one very independent gentleman cat.

But I thought it would be interesting to show you how he looks these days.

I took these pictures of him the other night as he was curled up in a big ball under the Christmas tree. Fluffnuts, the big guardian of the tree, ya know.

Here he is -still under the tree -but he lifted up his head I guess to let me know (judging by the really alert look on his face) that he wasn't all too happy about my disturbing his sleep.

But looking at him, and how big he's grown, if this growth keeps up, I'm gonna have to be looking for the safest diet pills that work, I think! I wonder if they make things like that for cats anyway.

I haven't weighed him but he is one big load, that's for sure! If I didn't know better, I'd think he has a lot of Maine Coon Cat in him -sure is darned near big enough to qualify for that breed I think.

But he's a good old cat -a great hunter who frequently deposits "gifts" on our front door step too. Not necessarily the kind of presents I like to receive but in his world, one has to realize mice and gophers and other little animals like that represent the equivalent to a bit of gold to him.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Help Wanted!

Today was certainly not one of the best days of my life!

My problems began last night when I couldn't stay awake -kept falling asleep while trying to work on my current embroidery project! I hate when that happens because then, since I was dozing off throughout the earlier evening hours, I woke up then about 12:30 a.m. and of course, you know then I was WIDE awake! So as a result of that, I didn't actually go to bed till about 4:30 a.m. and then, had to get up around 9 so I could run to Clearfield for a follow-up injection from having had my final (I sure hope it's final!) chemo treatment this past Tuesday.

So I started out the day behind the eight-ball, so to speak because I was still tired, not fully rested.

Plus, there were a myriad of other issues that cropped up throughout the day -errands I had to run for Mandy that turned out needing more information and more work; Mandy have brought all the boxes and storage bins down from the attic to put the tree up and lots of disruption from that; getting this injection which unfortunately makes me feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck as it seems to make every joint in my body ache and well, the weather (cold, really cold and snow on the ground) did nothing to improve my attitude either.

And by the time I had supper ready, I think I had ticked off every single member of my family -from my oldest daughter who I snapped at (several times) when she called this evening, to Mandy for just trying to get the tree up and the house somewhat in order and also my son for well, just being present and accounted for!

I jumped all over Miss Maya too while fixing supper because she was being a tad obnoxious, telling me how she doesn't like turkey and didn't want any of the home-made turkey pot pie I had fixed for our meal and well, I informed her in short order that Grammy is not running a short-order restaurant here and that it is high time she realizes she'll either have to eat whatever goes on the table or she'll find herself going to bed very hungry. (I did eventually relent as I remembered I had some leftover tuna, mac and cheese casserole in the fridge so I did warm that up then to make for a slightly more peaceful meal -no small children crying, at any rate!

But boy, as miserable as I felt -and acted too -I was really wishing that I knew someone who had taken a massage therapy program online and had graduated from it to come along and just wipe out all my aches and pains in one great big massage tonight!

Baby, that would have been heaven to me!

Hopefully now though Friday will maybe be a bit better. This darned shot -as the nurse reminded me before giving the injection -kind of makes you feel really trashy for usually two days so please let the after affects of this thing pass on by very quickly or I'm liable to have to go looking for a new family to contend with me and a new place to live too boot!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Night Visitor

Tuesday evening, shortly before it was time for the kids to go to bed, Maya lost another tooth!

This was another upper-front tooth but not the other one in the very front -guess that would make it an incisor to the right of the front tooth, wouldn't it? But anyway, she can definitely be singing that old song, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."

So Mandy told her to get an envelope and put the tooth in it and then, put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy to come visit her and that suggestion sort of freaked Maya out. She started to fuss saying No! And that she didn't want the tooth fairy to be coming into her room!

I have no clue what brought this on but eventually it was decided -by Maya -that she would put the tooth under Gram's pillow instead.

This morning, although she didn't come in my room and try to wake me up, I could hear her in the dining room talking and could tell she was watching to see if I was waking up. So when I came out, she asked me then if there was anything under my pillow or not.

And sure enough, there was!

Boy, the tooth fairy sure does pay a lot better rewards these days than it did when I was a kid! Back then the going rate was usually a nickel, maybe a dime I guess if the tooth was a bigger one or some such reason.

But Maya raked in a whopping big $2.00 and now has a big old gap there in her mouth.

I told her she's gonna have to just be eating nothing but really soft foods now and teased her that she's gonna be "gumming it" like Gram if she isn't careful.

Should have seen the look on her face when I told her that line though.

This morning, we had our first real snowfall of the season and boy, either it was horribly slick out or a lot of folks had forgotten how to drive in snow because there were several accidents in this area in a short period of time. The way it was coming down there for a while, I half expected the school to dismiss early but they didn't. However, Kurtis was home all day as his school was canceled for the day.

And I have been freezing here all doggone day! Just shivering and can't seem to get warm.

This evening, since it was Mandy's day to cook at the bar and I wanted/needed to go to a viewing at the local funeral home -a neighbor lady of ours passed away and I wanted to go to the viewing so Clate agreed to stay with the kids while I went up there.

After the visit at the viewing, I ran up to the hardware store in Kylertown to get one of those screw-in light bulb thingys that has an outlet on the side where you can also then plug something in. Needed one of these for the outside light so that we could then hook up the lights from the beautiful wreath my friend, Joe, (aka "Precious) had made for us. While at the hardware, I was looking around a little back in their gift shop and found a very pretty bone china coffee mug with very pretty painting of grapes on it and since it was marked down to $2.00, it came home with me! I love mugs and especially really pretty ones like this one is.

When I got home, things were in a bit of a havoc here with Uncle Clate and the kids!

On Saturday, if you recall, Maya did a number on him with her "washable" paints by spilling them all over the dining room floor and he had to scrub that mess up since I was busy in the kitchen cooking our "Thanksgiving" meal. That deal had him muttering about how he knew there was a good reason he'd never had any children!

Well tonight, seems both the kids got him and got him good this time too.

He said Kurtis had told him he needed to go potty and since normally, Kurt is able to do this all by himself (but he always seems to feel the need to announce to whoever is with him that he has to go to the bathroom -who knows what is reasoning is for that). So anyway, Uncle Clate tells him, Okay, go ahead and away he goes to the bathroom.

Why Maya decided to follow him in there, no one knows, but she did. And supposedly, so the story goes according to Maya, Kurtis whizzed on the floor in front of the commode and because he did that, so did she! (Note: this is Maya's explanation for things which may or may not be the truth and the whole truth, ya know!)

So anyway, when I got back home, Clate was in the middle then of trying to clean up the bathroom floor of this big puddle of pee right smack dab in front of the commode!

I do believe these two children are trying their darnedest to make sure Uncle Clate has a really, really big fear of ever becoming a parent -if and when he ever finds someone who will marry him, ya know!

And, on another note here too -while I'm on a bit of a writing binge -some other news from this place.

I had my fourth chemo treatment yesterday and am very happy to report that prior to getting it, the oncologist told me that he had decided this would be the last treatment needed!

How's that for an announcement, folks?

He said the results from the PET scan I had done about a week ago or so were very good -clean as a whistle -plus all my blood work has been very good all along too so he felt that it was safe then to stop the chemo after yesterday's treatment!

I feel very, very fortunate for sure as to how the chemo went for me in that I had no nausea, a minimal amount of fatigue, really just after the last treatment. The main issues I had from the chemo amounted to ulcers in my mouth and my tongue feeling like it had been scalded and a really bad cause of "dry mouth" all the time. That, and frequently feeling like I was freezing! (Like tonight!) The only time today when I was actually warm, not shivering, believe it or not, was when I was all bundled up in my heavy winter jacket with my knit hat on and my furry red scarf wrapped around my neck! This was even when I was outside, in the jeep, waiting for it to warm up a little and for the windshield to melt the snow/sleet on it! Crazy, huh?

So anyway, that's the latest news from this place -and except for the antics of the kids trying to see what they can do to bedevil poor old Uncle Clayton, I think it was some pretty good stuff going on!

Now, wish I could find a good paying tooth fairy as I'd put my dentures under my pillow in hopes of getting a really good return there!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gram's Helping Hand!

Because both my daughters had to work on Thanksgiving Day, my family and I had our Thanksgiving feast yesterday (Saturday, that would be).

And about a day or two prior to the big day, I made a comment to my son that since he would be here and isn't working as yet, he could come down here and spend the day helping me fix our big meal!

Surprisingly enough, he arrived here around 9:30-10:00 a.m. and ready to go to work.

Well, not quite that. He was here and he wasn't hungover or anything like that but he hadn't a clue as to what he would be able to help me with.

I already had the turkey pretty well cooked by 10 a.m. and I'd baked five pies the day before, plus made the stuffing (obviously, since the turkey was almost all cooked by then.)

All that remained was to peel the potatoes (white and sweets), put the green bean casserole together and fix two salad items (broccoli and cauliflower salad and pepper slaw.)

However, I did have to make a quick run to the grocery store for the salad items along with a couple other fresh veggies for the veggie/cheese tray so he came in handy then as the one to stay home with the two little kids and make sure while I was gone that they didn't destroy the place.

When I returned home, Maya had gotten out her paints -four fairly large bottles of "washable" paints and was getting ready to open shop on the kitchen table with them. This was one time when my son -who has next to no experience with small children - realized how this action of hers could spell potential disaster and he suggested to her that they get some newspapers and put them on the table and she could then put her drawing paper (meaning Gram's typing paper she had managed to find and confiscate) on top of the newspapers, thus eliminating any mess.

It was a good thought. A very good thought, just not one that was foolproof though.

As she began playing little artist, he seated himself at the computer to play on Facebook. He was only about 4, maybe 5 feet, at the most, away from her and felt this was a safe distance from which to still be free to play on the computer and still keep a little bit of an eye on her activity.

Not long after the drawing/painting time began though, out of the corner of his eye, he realized his 7-year-old niece was no longer drawing on the table but was, instead, dancing in what could only be described as a fairly large sized puddle of paints!

Keep in mind, the container said "washable" paints!

My son immediately jumped up and began to get equipment to clean up Miss Maya's mess, and yes, it was really a big one too!

The floor that Mandy had slaved over the day before on her hands and knees -scrubbing it and putting down polish on top of that -now had an area about 4x4 ft (16 square ft, ya know) or thereabouts, with a motley mixture of the primary colors splashed all over the place!

Needless to say, because my son knows his sister's temperment all too well, he was in a bit of a frenzy to try to get the paints all sopped up first and then, scrub bucket, bottle of Lestoil and a scrub brush in hand, he got down on his hands and knees to scrub the floor clean again!

Oh the mutterings he was mumbling!

At one point, as he walked to the kitchen to get more stuff to sop up the then soapy water and such, I heard him mutter that he knew there was a good reason why he'd never had any children. Or at least, this qualified for a reason to never become a parent at any rate.

And hearing him say that, it was all I could do not to burst into loud laughter.

I realized at that moment in time I was finally getting my revenge on him!

It only took me almost 35 years to get it but baby, it certainly was worth while that I had to wait so long.

You see, years back, when he was about 2 1/2, or so, and was (I thought) busy playing in the front of the house (living room) while I was back in the bedrooms, vacuuming, even over the noise of the vacuum, I suddenly realized there were no sounds of play emanating from the living room.

And anyone who has ever had children knows the cardinal rule of thumb is if it gets quiet, the child is either asleep or has gotten into some unwanted thing that spells disaster for sure.

I went to check on him and found him in the kitchen with the contents of the cupboard where I kept the cereal boxes all removed from said cupboard.

Furthermore, each and every box of cereal had also been emptied into a nice big pile on the floor. That pile was topped off with the box of oatmeal and then, to finish off his grand production there, he had located the bottle of syrup too and had proceeded to pour the whole darned bottle of syrup over all this cereal!

Then, he had walked -or danced -through it all, probably several times.

He had on a pair of flannel pajamas his grandmother had made for him for Christmas and the oatmeal with the syrup as an adhesive, was sticking to his pantlegs so as to make him look like he'd possibly been tarred and feathered.

And trust me, that's pretty much what I wanted to do to him too!

He knew right away, probably because my shrieking at him came close to putting him into cardiac arrest, that Mom was not exactly pleased with his form of artwork.

I don't remember spanking him although that is a remote possibly that I may have given him a smack on the behind as I took him to the bathroom to scrub him down and get clean clothes on him. Most likely though, the language he heard from me that day may very well have been his earliest instructions in curse words of every type imaginable!

I always used to tell my kids when they were growing up that I couldn't wait until they had children of their own someday and then, they would understand completely why I was, why I am the way I am -because children drive you insane, don't they?

But anyway, I do feel completely compensated now in the getting even department where my son is concerned.

Getting even, even when it takes 30 plus years for it to come about, certainly is well worth it!

And, if he ever does meet someone with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life, I do hope this event doesn't scar him for life about having children of his own.

After all, eventually he'll also be able to say like I do: "Revenge comes to him/her who waits, patiently!" (The key word there being "patiently.")