Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Today, it was so nice -and boy, I do mean NICE -sunny, bright, warm and temps at this hour still hovering around 64 degrees F, so Sammy and went for a long walk today.

I hooked the little pedometer that Mandy bought (for who, I have no idea as she hasn't used it) and away we went.

We walked down to the ghost town of Peale -a distance according to my trusty little measuring device, of 3.9 miles (round trip) and for my purposes, I find that figure close enough to 4 so I am rounding it off to say that we walked 4 miles, round trip.

I took my trusty little M853 Kodak digital camera with me and took a goodly number of photos too of various points along our walk and I had planned to put them up on this post this evening.

But alas, that plan has come to a rapid end and hence, the title of this post -"Catastrophe!"

Unfortunately, as we neared the home front, I stopped and took aim with the little camera and just as I clicked the shutter, Sammy -ever the really bright dog, ya know (NOT) decided that was a good time to jerk on his lease and try to move around a bit.

That one little jerk of his lease caused me to lose my hold on the camera and it slipped out of my hand, landing along the side of the road.

I thought when it landed that perhaps all would be okay as it didn't seem to land with a thud or a crack -kind of soft landing you could say -but that, apparently would be incorrect.

When I picked the camera up, I realized that the lens that slides in and out when you turn the camera on and off, seems to have been jarred a bit and is now jammed on the one side in an untenable position where I can't figure out anyway to try to prod it into sliding back into the case or going out into the full position it was in as I snapped that last photo.

So now, I am back to square one with the camera situation in my life! And trust me, this rally annoys me greatly as I had come to really enjoy the ease of putting my camera in my purse, sliding it into a pocket and away I would go, ready to aim and shoot at a moment's notice.

After I got home, I went online to the Kodak site to see if it offered any suggestions either as to how to maybe do a self-repair job (if possible) or, where I could maybe take the camera to have it looked and and possibly fixed.

Boy, what a joke that turned out to be!

It says on Kodak's website that any repairs should be done by an "authorized" Kodak Repair Center but be darned if I can find anything online that shows where those repair centers might just be located!

Of course, considering where I live -out in the boondocks, ya know, of central Pennsylvania -130 miles from Pittsburgh; 180 miles from Erie; 130 miles from Scranton; 120 miles from Harrisburg and probably about 200 miles from Philadelphia -all the major cities in the state -I doubt there is anyplace relatively close to my home where I can take this sweet little red camera that I so love to see if it is even repairable!

So now I'm thinking I suppose I will have to dip into my little slush fund I've been saving from the little bit of extra money I earn online from time to time and use that to get myself another camera. I'm thinking maybe one along the same lines as the one I purchased in February that my older daughter and my son went in on the purchase price of a nice M340 digital camera that we gave Mandy for her birthday. It's the same size as the camera I had that I had purchased a little over 2 years ago this past Christmas but her camera has 10.2 megapixels whereas my camera I believe only had 8.0 on it.

Maybe, if I'm really lucky, I can get a camera like Mandy's for the same sale price as the one we got her too.

Maybe, if I am really, really lucky, and I get myself another nice, new, little digital model, I will use a neck strap on the next one and not rely solely on my hand to keep a camera from falling and being hurt like I managed to do with this one.

Now, before I close this post, just one more thing here. If you recall, I think I mentioned in my last post about the accident at the Red Moshannon Canoe/Kayak Races this past Saturday that started at the bridge in Peale (the Ghost Town) and ended at the bridge at the foot of Cooper Mountain -at the point where the Red Moshannon converges with the Black Moshannon.

Anyway, after this race having been in existence for 43 years this year and though there have been some spills and close calls there from time to time, sadly this year's race ended on a very sad note as one participant, George H. Lockey Jr., from Kylertown, died yesterday -March 30th -at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after having been flipped from his kayak and found, floating past the bridge on Rte. 53 where a bystander pulled him from the water and began CPR, etc. on him at that time.

For anyone who reads my blog because they are looking for things about the Red Mo Race, I am therefore posting the obituary for George that was in today's edition of The Progress, the daily newspaper from Clearfield, PA.

George H. Lockey Jr.
MORRISDALE -- Mass of Christian Burial for George H. Lockey Jr., 62, of Morrisdale will be

celebrated Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 11 a.m. at St. Severins Roman Catholic Church,

Drifting, with the Father David Perry as celebrant. Mr. Lockey died Tuesday, March 30, at

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh.

Interment will be at st. Severins Roman Catholic Cemetery, Drifting.

Friends will be received Monday, April 5, from 6-9 p.m. at Johnson Funeral Home, Grassflat.

The rosary will be recited at 5:45 p.m. and a vigil at 6 p.m. both Monday, April 5, at the

funeral home.

Military honors will be accorded at the church by members of the Moshannon Valley

independent Honor Guard.

Born Oct. 21, 1947, at Philipsburg, he was the son of Vera Denochick Lockey of Allport and

the late George H. Lockey.

Mr. Lockey was a member of St. Severins Roman Catholic Church.

He was a lieutenant in the District of Columbia Fire Department Hazmat Unit from which he

retired in 1993 after more than 20 years of service.

He was a Vietnam-era Army Vetera.

Mr. Lockey was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, fisherman and Geocacher.

He loved working in the maintenance of the Quehanna Trails.

Mr. Lockey was a member of the Cooper Township Planning Commission.

On June 21, 1969, at St. Severins Roman Catholic Church, he wed Sharon harvey Lockey, who

survives in Morrisdale.

In addition, he is survived by a son, Jason Scott Lockey and his wife, Shelly, of

Mechanicsville, MD; a granddaughter, Gillian; and a sister, Vera Ann Lockey of Lanse.

Mr. Lockey was preceded in death by his father.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be in the form of Mass cards.

There will be a luncheon in the church social hall after the Mass.

Rest in peace, George. At least you were able to leave this earth doing something you loved to do -being outdoors, canoeing with the best of 'em!

And to Sandy and his son and family -my condolences in your loss and you will be in my prayers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


There is an event that takes place about a mile or two -probably more like 3 miles perhaps -from my home every year, on the last Saturday of March and it's something that really brings the old village to life!

It's a canoe/kayak race on the stream that runs through the ghost town of Peale down in the woods here!

This race has been happening for I think forty plus years now if I'm not mistaken and it's become really popular and quite well known too. It's one of the better white water races at least in the eastern part of the United States, for sure.

It begins at the bridge in Peale that crosses over the Red Moshannon Creek and proceeds seven miles downstream to the bridge at the foot of Cooper Mountain on Route 53 where the Red Moshannon and the Black Moshannon streams converge and from there, the water goes on to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

The son of my neighbors and good friends has taken part in many, many of these events and this past Saturday was no different. As I was coming home from helping at a funeral dinner at our church, I saw the neighbors' son pulling away from his parents home and motioned to him to pull off for a minute so I could find out how he made out this year.

No big surprise to me when he said he'd taken Second Place! So congratulations to you -Howie Pillot -for another race well done!

This year though the race came very close to having a tragedy as one of the participants had his canoe flip on him near the finish line and he was seen floating in the water near the bridge. Someone on the sidelines managed to pull him out and began doing CPR on him and the local EMTs and other emergency personnel were notified. Initially, he was taken to a local hospital and from there transferred to Pittsburgh to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The reports from the local newspaper today say he is in critical condition there. (I was going to link this to the story from the local paper but they don't have archives in place to my knowledge on their website so the story would end up being replaced tomorrow.)

Anyway, the racer involved was George Lockey, a 62-year-old man from Kylertown, a little village about 4 miles from where I live. George is a retired firefighter from Washington, D.C. and since moving back to his (and his wife's) home area, he's been really active in many events of the outdoor variety, especially hiking through many of the forest areas in about a 3-4 county radius. He also is an excellent photographer and has a portfolio of many, many woodland scenes of this region as well as some really outstanding pictures of wildlife in the region too -especially of some of the rattlesnakes he has encountered in his hikes.

I wish I could find his website with his photography posted there so everyone could see some of the fantastic pictures he has taken and also, as a way to show folks the beauty of this region. Words really don't do it justice but George's pictures do just that!

So please, say some prayers for George that he has a full and speedy recovery and also for his wife, Sharon, and their family as they go through the waiting process at the hospital.

(If anyone reading this is on Facebook, you can access a fan page about the Red Moshannon Race via Facebook and see some of the terrific photos posted over this past weekend of various racers running the rapids on this race.)

Back to Basics

After last week and all kinds of things going on around here, a lot of stuff got shoved off, not done, routines -what few I had -went you know where in a hand basket!

But tonight, I just came back in from taking Sammy out for a really quick walk (hey, it was nippy out there although the moonlight was beautiful) and I took him for one of our regular longer walks earlier today too. The walk thing, with Sammy, is something I'm trying to make as one of the kind of daily deal type of thing, not just for him, but for me. I really do need to follow through on this for myself to try to keep up the calorie burning and get my legs more accustomed to walking, more and more now, as the weather gets nicer, warmer and such.

On our walk earlier today, I saw one of the big signs of spring sprouting up along a small wooded area we go past -good old dandelions blooming! A month or two from now I'll probably be cursing them but today, they looked really nice with that pretty little bit of yellow peeking above the leaves!

Last week was a really rough week for me and also for Kurtis as we both got hit with pretty much the same "bug." I don't know if mine was allergies, hay fever kind of stuff, or if it was a nasty old sinus infection, but it wasn't your run-of-the-mill type of head cold, that much is for certain. Kurtis does have allergy issues so we blame that for a lot of his ailments that affect his sinus passages. Poor little guy was all stuffed up and the junk was draining like crazy apparently down his throat too, same as with mine, so we both ended up with really bad, yucky, croupy type coughs then too. I think mine is finally coming under control now as I got myself medicated with some good old Mucinex DM pills as well as a big bottle of cough medicine to try to calm the coughing down to a dull roar and it seems to be doing just that now. Finally!

Mandy did get a call Friday from the pediatric neurologist at Geisinger Medical Center -where we had to take Kurtis on Thursday for an EEG (brain wave test, ya know) and he informed her that nothing out of the ordinary showed up on Kurt's test so guess we don't have to worry now about seizures and/or epilepsy or anything of that nature. So that's a big relief, for sure.

I decided last week against setting up a team again this year to participate in the Autism Walk over at the University. My kids and I had a team in honor of both Kurt and Maya for the past three years but this year, I really don't feel up to all that is required for participating plus, Mandy has to work the day of the walk this year so I would probably have had to take both the kids with me if we'd done the walk. It's only about 1 and 3/4 miles in all, but I know Kurtis wouldn't be able to handle that much distance and there's just no way I could manage to push him in a stroller that would be large enough for him to fit into now either.

So, with all that in mind, our team is taking a breather this year from that event. But to anyone who reads my blog and who supported us in the past, you can always make a contribution if you so desire to the general fund for the Autism Speaks walk. It is for a very good cause, no two ways about that.

I still have not been able to reach the surgeon I had for my last surgery three years ago this past October down in Pittsburgh so don't know what the heck to do because the local surgeons don't want to mess with the hernia surgery around my colostomy since none of them did the initial surgery. I think I'm just gonna call the OB/GYN doctor here and tell her of the problem I'm experiencing, give her the doctor in Pittsburgh's number and see if she can elicit a response from him. I'm not in any rush to go under the knife for any of this but I suppose it is better if things get put into motion to get something set up. That way, Mandy and I would have time to better get things organized with the kids, her work schedule and such, ya know.

Other than that, things have been pretty much running status quo with me just falling a bit behind last week is all. The rain, Kurt's doctor's appointments, Mandy's return from Nevada and such and what little bit of a schedule or routine I had sort of went out the window, big time.

But now, I'm resolving to get back on track -back to those basics of routines I had in place -or at least somewhat so, anyway!

Better get as much walking done as I can before those old April showers take over and keep me -and Sammy -inside again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fright Night!!!

Phew! Right now, I'm breathing one really, really big sigh of relief.

But since about 9 p.m. tonight, I was really on edge, nervous, okay, face it, I was downright petrified!


Because something was wrong with my computer! That's why!

What happened, we aren't entirely sure, but I was about at my wit's end, for sure.

A little after 9 p.m., Mandy sat down to use the computer and when she tried to log into her facebook account, she couldn't enter her password. Absolutely could not type it in. Although the cursor was blinking, if she tried to type in her password, nothing happened except the screen would change to reflect the computer's history. Go figure now, how would or could that happen, huh?

So she asked me what was wrong and being the computer whiz that I am not, I had nary a clue.

So I thought maybe there was something wrong and the innards was full of dust, ya know. I had asked Mandy a while back to pick up a can of that stuff you can spray around to clear out dust accumulations so I got that out, removed the side panel and sprayed away. Yeah, not proud of this but there WAS a lot of yucky dust in there.

Okay. Got that cleared out, panel re-inserted and time to test this puppy again but still nothing.

I clicked on my e-mail and was going to see if it was working and it downloaded what new e-mail I had okay. So I thought I would try opening a new message and see if I could send it to a friend who has helped me through some issues in the past but when I tried to type in the title of my note, nothing.

Seemed the keyboard was being obstinate and weird -as well as Firefox and Facebook.

So then I thought well, maybe somehow the keyboard had been accidentally disconnected, ya know. So I moved everything around the tower, went to move the tower out to check the back connections and the computer shut off on me.

So then I went through all the outlets into the surge protector to see if they were all plugged in completely (a few months back, Sammy -the dog -had accidentally bumped the connections, knocking them loose and that had created some issues for me then) and I checked all the connections into the back of the computer itself and one of them apparently had been pulled out just a tad so I got that re-connected, power re-established, etc., but still -no change to the way the computer was operating.

Now, as I said above, the last thing in the world I am is computer savvy about the innards of this thing or anything that is really the least bit technical. But I was on a mission tonight to see if I could do anything to get this sucker up and functioning once again. It had been working fine about an hour before Mandy had decided to log it, so what the heck could have happened to it in that amount of time with no one playing on it?

I did the disc cleanup -which, with Windows XP takes what seems like FOREVER to do its thing. After that, I did a defrag -another clean-up thing that also is slower than freaking molasses in January too. Those done, I then got Firefox to open and managed to get to a bookmark where I had a link saved to Micro Trend Anti-Virus (freebie thing, ya know) and I was able to click that open, click on to download the program thinking maybe I'd been hit by some kind of virus or some such that my regular anti-virus program hadn't picked up on.

I was in the process of watching the anti-virus program do its scan -which was roughly by then almost 3 hours after Mandy had first begun having problems with this puppy -when I happened to glance down at the keyboard and noticed the the "ctrl" key to the right side of the space bar appeared to be depressed so, on a lark, I touched that key and it popped back up (after I toyed with it briefly).

The anti-virus program ran, finished up, telling me I had one (1) threat -some spyware -which I clicked to have that fixed and after all that, then I re-opened Firefox and went to my bookmark for Facebook.

I clicked on Mandy's code there. It asked for her password which I was able to provide and this time, it let me type the password in and presto magic, Facebook opened right up.

Will you look at that? I AM a computer whiz after all, aren't I?

After wasting (well, not really -as all the things I did really DID need to be done) roughly three hours, worrying myself sick thinking my baby, my computer, was sick and probably would need hospital care plus a lot of moola that, of course, I don't really have handy to get it functioning again, and apparently all that was wrong was that this particular "ctrl" key had been depressed and got stuck in that position!

Whatever it took there to get this thing up and running again, I'm just really ecstatic that by accident I just happened to see the key that looked like it was depressed and possibly stuck and that it was apparently the problem and all is fixed, up and running again.

Obviously so -huh, since I am sitting here, typing away and seeing the letters all appear before me on the screen.

Yeah, me -the computer whiz-kid! LOL

But we have decided to make sure Kurtis isn't near the keyboard at all because Mandy thinks he was squirming around, touching things while she was holding him and trying to sign in and that's how that key ended up getting depressed and locking up the keyboard for us, but good!

Now, I can go to bed, relax, rest, get a good night's sleep and not have nightmares about computer technicians doing heaven only knows what to my poor little computer to get it up and running again!

Or better yet -maybe I should just change my name to "Lucky!"

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Brief Respite

There have been a lot of things going on here in my home the past couple of weeks that were sort of a culmination of sorts of other things that had been happening for the past several months to even a couple of years.

I can't disclose everything that was going on but, if you've followed my blog for quite sometime now, you may recall I had posted a number of things here pertaining to someone in the house, in the family, who was really stirring the pot, big time, and not in a very good way. Definitely not in a manner that was financially helpful to the family unit, that much is for certain.

Now, as you may recall, last week my daughter took a short vacation out to Nevada to spend a few days visiting with her Dad. She hadn't seen him in two or three years so it was something she really wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself, she jumped at it. I don't blame her at all for wanting to see him as all children -whether younguns or older, grown kids, should have the opportunity to be able to visit with their parents as often as is possible. Agreed?

Of course, her absence meant special arrangements were made for the two little ones here. Maya spent the time her Momma was away with a couple and their three teenage children who are all very close friends of Mandy's. Maya frequently spends an overnight or a weekend with them. She loves them dearly and they adore her.

I was "left" (so to speak) with the care of little Kurtis. This isn't as much of a hassle as some folks might think it would be given the fact that both Maya and Kurtis are autistic. Now, had I been left to be in charge of both the kids, by myself, for that length of time, I quite possibly would be bald today as the two of 'em together, with no other adult around to diffuse situations that arise with them, can be pretty hairy, to say the least. But separately, there was no sibling rivalry, no jealousy cropping up and Kurt tends to stay pretty calm, relatively quiet and laid back then when by himself.

Now, while my daughter was away though that meant that I also was put in the situation of having to contend, alone, on my own, with the two other people who live here and both of them sometimes tend to wear on my nerves.

Sometimes I can shake off the stuff the do -or don't/won't do -with only a little effort on my part.

Then there are times when I absolutely am about at my wits' end with one or both of them and am about to blow a major gasket.

This past Wednesday was one of those days!

Mandy had returned home late Tuesday evening and on Wednesday, she had to return to work. Which meant not only did I have Kurt and Maya to watch but also the other two here and both of them were really totally rubbing me the wrong way.

The teenager in the group is a senior in high school and as such, expects to graduate in June. That however, is somewhat a debatable thing as her grades leave much to be desired and as of a couple weeks ago she was failing GYM -which is by the way, a required subject too. Now how someone can fail gym was a bit beyond me especially when I learned it was because she wasn't coming to class prepared with the proper clothing! To flaunt the rules of the class in that manner to me is just totally mind-boggling! I realize that she is capable of passing the physical requirements and she thinks showing up, being able to do that should be adequate enough. For some reason or other, she must want to make a federal case of this or something to see how far she can push the envelope there, ya know.

She's also been soliciting all kinds of literature too from upteen different colleges, business schools and the like and yesterday, she mentioned she was in the process of applying to some school -don't know which one, didn't ask, didn't want to raise my blood pressure any more than it already was, ya know.

I mentioned to her to proceed with caution on the applications because more often than not, colleges also require an application fee -just to submit the application for their consideration -and money is something there is never an abundance of in this house, in this family. That plus my thoughts were whirling around about her grades, which as I said are not the best -not by a long shot -and why clog up an admissions officials already stuffed to the gills inbox with an application that in all probability will be turned down too -due to the lack of decent grades.

She then informed me that because she qualifies for the free lunch program in school, the guidance counselor told her that she can apply to any school she wants and they will waive any application fees then because of that! Therefore, she was going ahead and applying to whatever school it was that had caught her eye.

This from someone who thinks college is a cake walk, who hates to read textbooks, will not do anything in that respect unless ordered to do that and then, it is given a haphazard scan job in the reading area. Apparently the high school teachers today do not require that the kids actually read anything in the textbooks that we, the taxpayers provide for the kids and that all that is needed for study purposes are the notes the kid takes in class or the study sheets the teacher may hand out. Sheesh! Somehow I rather suspect if some college does accept her, she will have a very brief time there unless reading chapter after chapter after chapter suddenly becomes high on her "to do" list. But what the hell do I know about these things anyway? That's just how it was for me in college anyway -read, read, read and then, yeah -read some more!

Then -because these run-ins with the teenage really frustrate me immensely -I was already edgy as all get out when the other resident came home from work. And his appearance then and from his opening words, I could feel my blood pressure escalating yet again.

Seems he was feeling a bit "under the weather" and that tends to make him more than a bit on the whiny side, which in turn, just irks the living daylights out of me because his complaints tend to be rather nondescript, very general, very vague and also, border on the kind of things that most people would take the attitude to just suck it up and deal with it!

And feeling as I did then, about to implode momentarily, I told him that I had to go see a friend who lives up the hill from us and I left the house -leaving him in charge!

And, I had lied about the friend I said I had to go see. I just had to leave or I might have done something really drastic if I'd stayed in the house any longer last night!

I drove around thinking initially I would stop and talk to my son and his girlfriend but that didn't work out as they weren't home. So I drove a little farther, thinking of where I might go, if there was someone else I could go see that I could let all this pent-up anger and all kinds of other emotions inside of me out and free.

And, I realized I was about a mile or two away from the home of a lady who, along with her late husband, had been part of a circle of friends my ex-husband and I had been part of many years ago so I drove by her place, saw the lights were on and knew she was at home and that's where I ended up then.

And boy, am I ever glad I did that!

From the moment I walked in and she asked what I was doing out and about and I told her I needed to talk to someone that I could talk freely with, that I could rant and bitch and cuss like a sailor or whatever, drink some coffee with and smoke cigarettes like crazy too if I wanted and she laughed, telling me I had indeed, come to the right place!

And yep, that I had!

When I left there about 2 hours later, I felt so refreshed, so ready to not pay a whit of attention to the two in the house that tend to annoy me greatly at times and I came home almost a new person, you might say.

I beat Mandy home by about maybe 5 or 10 minutes and when she came in and I told her where I'd been -and why -she gave me a great big hug and told me she was so happy I'd found an avenue to let loose, to get rejuvenated, ya know!

Then, Thursday Mandy and I had to take Kurtis to Danville, to the Geisinger Medical Center where he was scheduled to have an EEG done and then be seen by a pediatric neurologist after that. When we left, we were both edgy again because the other member of the family apparently wasn't going to go to work today. Hmmm. I'm wondering -as is Mandy -how long the employer he now has (since he had to disband his own operation as a "professional, self-employed businessman" within the past month) will contend with his inability to show up on a punctual basis and also, for five days running in each week too! His attendance doesn't hit me as one that will likely carry him very far in this job now if he keeps going like this.

But, though we were both upset by this turn of events with his not going to work, we took a bit of comfort in the fact that we were going to stop by where my older daughter lives and pick her up and she was going to go with us then to get Kurtis for his test and to see the doctor.

And that worked really well too as we had a great time together! We, all three of us, thoroughly enjoyed being with Kurtis, laughing at his antics, appreciating his sweet nature to the max. And with that, we were able then to back-burner the problems sure to be waiting us when we returned home -at least for about 5-6 hours anyway!

Although this post has some negativity in it and technically, to do a post and put it up as part of the "Only the Good Friday" posts, it doesn't fully qualify. But I'm going to do it anyway and take a bit of liberty with the "Only the Good" aspect as my escape to my old friend's house Wednesday night and the relief that gave me along with the sheer enjoyment of spending a day with both my daughters and my little sweetheart, Kurtis, was all nothing BUT good for me!

And a little bit of good can sometimes go a long, long way too, can't it?

It may not have been the vacation I talked about wanting the other day but it was as close to that in the refreshing of my body and soul as I could get right now and was just exactly what I needed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On a Merry-Go-Round!

Ever feel like you are spinning away on a constant merry-go-round?

Boy, the past couple of days have been like that for me -or so it seemed anyway!

Between Mandy being away in Nevada for 5-6 days visiting with her dad and me being the one to oversee watching Kurtis, keeping what I could do to keep the place running semi-decently during that time, I really did get way, way behind in reading others blogs. I had been trying to keep things under control so that when I would try to read those posts I wouldn't be swamped with oodles of posts but somehow or other over the weekend, I lost control in that respect. Yes I did that -again!

By the time I sat down yesterday and tried to get the Reader cleared out I had almost 300 posts waiting for me to attend to and that my friends, is a tad overwhelming to see that much reading sitting there, just waiting! I thought I would never get that number whittled down but finally by late, late last night I had it down to about 8 posts that were left for me to read. I was beginning to think that everyone and their brother had put up new posts between midnight Saturday night and early Tuesday a.m. and that maybe I would put a request out on my blog for people to slow down a bit on the posting so I could catch up.

But I didn't do that and I'm not asking that today either. Well, okay -maybe just a little bit of a slow down perhaps? Nah. I just need to get my act together, organized and just do it! And I also need to apologize to for being this slow and uncoordinated about reading and commenting then too. I know, everyone does like to get comments because then you know that things are okay with other folks and your blog stuff is working pretty much the way it's supposed to do then too!

But let me tell you a bit about my little merry-go-round life the past week!

On Saturday, my daughter Carrie and her son -my "prince" Alex, came up for supper after we we went to the local high school to meet up with my son, his girlfriend and her daughter so we could all go see this year's production by the Drama Club of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." In these hills, this is a big deal as our Drama Club really is -for a very small, rural school district -first rate! And this year, was no different from previous years in that the director and the kids really did shine in their production! Fantastic play, it was.

Aunt Carrie had wanted to take Maya with us to see the play so she had asked Jenn-Jenn, the lady with whose family Maya was staying while Mandy was away, if we could arrange to take Maya with us. However, Jenn had asked Maya what she wanted to do and Maya had decided she wanted to see the play on Saturday afternoon by attending with Jenn and her daughters instead of her going with us. And that was okay with us too -whatever would make Maya the most content is one of our mutual goals ya know.

But after they had gone to the play in the afternoon, Jenn decided to bring Maya down so that she could spend a little time with Aunt Carrie and her cousin Alex too. Unfortunately, Maya wasn't any too happy with that deal and when they arrived here at the house, she went into a full-blown meltdown on her instead! It took a great deal of cajoling and struggling with Maya to just get her out of the car and into the house and even after that, she continued on and on with her meltdown.

Now Maya and her meltdowns, sometimes you really do have to just sit back and laugh about the things she says and does during them because sometimes they are just downright funny! And that was the case Saturday night when as Maya was stomping, kicking, screaming and crying, in her fits of anger, she ripped down several of those little colorform things (Easter designs in this case) that Mandy had put up on the glass panes of the back door and she rolled them up in a big ball and threw them in the trash can. Upon tossing them, she turned to the rest of us here and announced in a very loud, very authoritive voice, "There! I just cancelled Easter!"

Boy, I was surprised at that announcement cause I just didn't realize that she had the power to do that trick, ya know!

Then, not getting quite the reaction from us that she had expected, she proceeded to sit between the living room and dining rooms and as she pointed to each of us seated at the table, enjoying supper and calling each of us by name too, she stated that "I don't know you!" and "I don't know you" and on and on around the table she went with that. Then grandson Alex piped up to her with this "Well Maya, how come if you don't KNOW any of us here then how can you call each of us by name too like you did!"

Man, she shot him a look of "I Keel You" (like the ventroliquist's dummy says -Jeff Dunworthy, is it maybe?) when Alex said that to her! Too funny!

I especially loved the Cancellation of Easter though, don't you?

Sunday just flew by and it was late when I sat down to work on my embroidery stuff. I figured with what I had left to do on that project I should have been able to have it completed -finally -by maybe 2 or 3 a.m. Monday morning.

And it looked for most of the time that I was gonna be able to meet that deadline too. That is until I realized that I was going to run out of the one color of floss needed to finish up.

But then I thought -no problem -because when I had purchased this particular kit, I had liked it so much that I had ordered two of the kits. So, that meant in the second kit, I had more floss there and I only needed a strand about 18 inches long in order to finish the one I'd been working on, so I opened the other kit to swipe that much floss from it.

But as I went through the different floss colors I realized there was something off kilter here! Wouldn't you just know it but the 2nd kit was missing the very color that I had just run out of from the first kit! How improbable an event is that? What was really screwy too is that in the first kit, when I went through and organized the colors, it too had been missing a color in that kit but it just so happened that I had that particular color in my own floss inventory/stash so I had just used my own material there. I would have ignored that one color being missing (since I already had that color on hand) completely but when the second kit came up show of another color and I had just run out of that other color on the kit I was working on, well I was a tad upset then.

So Monday morning I called the manufacturer's customer service number and complained. So now, they are sending me two skeins of floss in the two colors I had been shorted. Okay it's not any major expense to replace them for them or for me -only about 40 cents per skein of floss -but it is a major savings for me that they are doing that because otherwise I would have had to take the time to drive to either DuBois or State College -a distance of 35-45 miles, one way, a loss of an hour's time to drive over, an hour back, plus time in the store shopping, etc., -all things I really didn't want to do. So it was nice that they are sending that stuff to me for "free" now, isn't it?

Today, was not the normal day that my monthly lunch bunch gets together -usually it is the last Thursday of the month when we meet -but this month, because Kurtis has an appointment at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville tomorrow, the girls moved our lunch ahead a day so I could be able to join them.

And we had a very nice get-together too, we did. I always enjoy these gatherings. Today, one of the girls (Rose) made the comment about how they always tease me and yet rely on me too, to remember dates and ages and little things like that from our history together and she said in her mind's eye, she had thought last month after our meeting that maybe someday years from now, we'll still be getting together and will have to ask me how old each of us is then too!

The way my memory is rapidly evaporating though, I don't think they'll be able to rely on me for that information then! Hope they are all writing these important dates and facts down to save them for posterity, ya know!

I'm still trying to reach the surgeon in Pittsburgh or his physician's assistant -that would be the surgeon who did the colostomy on me 3 years ago and the person I need to contact to find out what he thinks should be done for me now -hernia repair or no hernia repair -hysterectomy here (locally) or hysterectomy there (Pittsburgh). I've called his office on several occasions over the past week and asked to have him or his PA return my call but thus far, I've heard nothing. So I am still wandering around in the mental darkness of my mind I guess you could say! Wish they would call me back so we can discuss this further or if I have to schedule an appointment to see him, to get that much done and preparations moved forward a bit that way.

And then there is Mandy -who returned home last night, arriving about 11:30 p.m. I'm really very relieved to have her back home for many obvious reasons. Yep, I am.

But by the same token, I told little Kurtis last night as I was holding him, rocking him, cuddling and snuggling with him, that maybe his Momma should take little trips like this one more often because it made Kurtis really receptive to my holding him, cuddling him, snuggling him!!! Most of the time when Mandy is here, he wants nothing to do with anyone but her for those things!

And obviously, I enjoyed that part of her being away on vacation the absolute most of all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ain't Misbehaving....

I know, I've been a bit AWOL the past two or three days -shirking my responsibility about keeping au currant with the blogs I follow. But trust me, I haven't been up to no good, haven't been misbehaving -at least not yet anyway.

It's Tuesday now, as I write this and tonight, Mandy will return home from her little getaway excursion to spend some quality time visiting with her Dad out in Nevada.

I've been here, manning the home fort. Well, part of it anyway and that would be the Kurtis part as Maya has been staying with Mandy's best friend since last Wednesday and will return home this evening. Probably her return will also create a major meltdown because she dearly loves to spend time at Jenn-Jenn and Nick-Nick's home with their three teenage children.

Now, I do have a really good excuse as to why I haven't been keeping up with my readings the past couple of days. And considering how well-behaved Kurtis really has been to deal with, I sure can't place any blame over on to him for my being this lax and behind.

But really, I was busy. Very busy, as a matter of fact.

Saturday night, I did post about the high school play my older daughter and her son along with my son, his girlfriend and her daughter all attended. It was terrific! Those kids really put on a great showing of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

But prior to the play, I cooked dinner for my daughter and her son, the SIL and myself -(Kurtis had his reliable standby -some leftover mac'n'cheese from Friday's supper), so there were dishes to be done, a little picking up here and there around the place and before I knew it, the time had flown by and without my getting any blogs read.

Sunday, time to cook another big dinner with my son and his "family" here, along with Carrie and Alex. It was so great to have my older daughter and older grandson here for two days -so much fun with Kurtis too, who thoroughly enjoyed the great weather and being able to be outside with people willing to pay attention to him and him only, getting lots and lots exercise and fresh air. And boy, that really paid off in spades too because by 8:15 Sunday night, he was down for the count, sound asleep and whats more, he didn't get up until after 11 a.m. Monday morning! Wiped out, completely, that's for sure.

Sunday afternoon though, Clate, daughter Carrie and I were relaxing at the dining room table after supper and Kurtis was zipping around the room, jabbering away when my son did one of his normal (for him) things. He let out one really huge burp and when he did, Kurtis kind of glanced at him, as if he was wondering about that noise. So Clate decided that it was time to begin trying to teach Kurtis the fine art of belching. (Something my son truly does excel at and takes great pride in his long, very loud burps too.)

So Clate told Kurtis to watch him and listen carefully and yes, he let another big belch out! After which, he told Kurtis, "Now, you do that!" And to our surprise, Kurtis did try to imitate Uncle Clate but without the actual belching cause he doesn't know yet that those things can be done on command. But anyway, he stood there a second or two and then he made this loud growling sound -kind of like saying "ARRGH" ya know and I have to confess it was so comical to see him trying his best to do like Uncle Clate, that Carrie, Clate and I just howled laughing.

Then he made it even funnier too because we would say to him, "Kurtis. Burp." and he would make the same sound, over and over again. Even this morning, he remembered what he was to do if I asked him to burp so we really did have a lot of fun and laughs with him over that little bit. Probably shouldn't be teaching him stuff like that but heck, he'll learn it eventually and if he's going to truly be a part of this family, then he has to be able to compete with some of the others who take such pride in their belching endeavors.

But anyway, Monday I had to break down and do some emergency laundry -something I don't do because the washer and dryer are in the basement and those stairs have no railing for me to hold on to, plus my right leg in particular rebels about going down steps like that and I have a fear I will lose my balance and tumble down the steps. The very last thing I need to do is fall and break a bone anywhere, ya know. But since this was an emergency thing, I threw the stuff to be washed (sheets, blankets from my bed that the rotten little Tom-Kitten had sort of baptized) and then, very cautiously proceeded down the steps, holding on to whatever I could to steady myself as best I could.

While down in the basement, I came across some things there -stuff that had been taken downstairs to stash them out of sight until we figured out something to do with them, ya know. And I started to think -something that also is not always a good thing too -about ways that maybe we could use some of the materials Bill has stashed in the basement to alleviate some major storage issues in this old place.

I spied some lumber Bill has piled in one part of the cellar and got to thinking that maybe he could build some kind of shelving in our entrance way where we could put shoes so they would be out of the way, in an orderly fashion and clear up a lot of the clutter in that area. I get really frustrated with everyone's shoes just laying around there and when you need a specific pair, the mate is always missing and well, it would just be helpful to be a bit more organized.

If nothing else, maybe he could some of the wood there to build some type of book shelves into the corner behind where the tv stands now which would help to eliminate so many books and magazines being piled hither, thither and yon too. That would be a great place to have some additional shelves where we could put things that we're always trying to find some place that is high enough, with no access way for little fingers to be able to reach and get into, ya know!

That's one of the big drawbacks to living in an old, old house that no matter what one does, there is always so much in the way of storage places being available. So, to compensate, one has to try to figure out ways to utilize every stinking nook and cranny!

I mentioned the idea of some kind of shelves for the shoes to the SIL and he actually agreed with me and thought it could be done fairly easily. Now, finding a way to prod him into actually doing that -that will be the real problem, for sure. I figure I best be quiet about suggesting any more "custom-building" ideas to him as given too many suggestions about things like that will get him to feeling overwhelmed almost immediately.

Yeah -keep it simple and go "one step or one day" at a time and who knows, maybe one of these days, the idea will strike him and he'll think it was his idea all along and then, he'll hop to it and get it done.

Now I'd best get to bed so I can get up and get Kurtis ready to take to his therapy appointment and from there, to his school and that will give me roughly 3 hours of "free time" to come home and look around for maybe some more ideas or better yet, do some work on yet another embroidery project I started tonight.

Or maybe I'll just come back home and take a nap and dream about these things ever happening!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dream Along With Me!

Mandy's been gone since this past Wednesday -along with her boss-lady, Deb.

They flew out of Pittsburgh Thursday around 1 p.m., landing safely in Phoenix where her Dad met her at the airport to transport her to his place in Laughlin, Nevada where she will be until tomorrow -Monday -at which time, her stepmother will drive her down to Phoenix to meet up with Deb and her friends and then, Tuesday, they will depart for points east -like Pittsburgh!

I'm really glad Mandy had this opportunity to get out to see her Dad again and to roam around Laughlin, meet up with a lady she's been communicating with online too for the past 7-8 years now. She deserves the chance to see her Dad (so do the two other kids too for that matter) much more than she (or they) can simply due to the distance involved.

All three of my kids now have a pretty solid relationship too with their Dad although, if someone had told me about 12-20 years ago that this would ever take place, I probably would have laughed in their face.

It was a long time coming, a hard time to restore the relationship that had been severed between the kids and their Dad over the years following our divorce. And I am really and truly very relieved, very, very happy, that it all came about for them to have rebuilt this on what was back then a very rocky foundation.

But, tonight -after having spent a great two days with my older daughter and older grandson plus having had them plus my son, his girlfriend and her daughter here for supper tonight, I couldn't help but think about something else though too.

I really need a vacation!

Yeah, I do. I haven't had a real, bonafide vacation in so many years now, I don't think I can remember exactly when I did have one. Maybe back in 1983 when older daughter along with two friends of mine from the restaurant where I worked and I took a couple of days and escaped to Atlantic City, New Jersey. That may have been my last vacation I think.

Or it might have been the week I took in 1982 when the kids and I went to visit my best friend in Maryland, from there we went to Ohio, to Cedar Point and after that, drove out to Illinois to see their paternal grandparents. That might have been the last time I had a full week of "No work, just fun" vacation time so I do think I am very much overdue in that area, don't you?

I'd be happy going just about anywhere, as long as it is away for a little while from the normal every day doings here for a bit.

But here's something I'd really like to do though -and that's to get one of the units available through the Outer banks beach rentals< for a week -a full week, yes -and go there with my whole family and maybe even a few close friends too as a really terrific getaway.

Of course, to do something like that would take a great deal of planning -not just to coordinate when each of us could go someplace but also, how to acquire adequate funds too so that we could afford to do this too. (Hence, the idea of maybe a few close friends might be willing to go along with us too -lessen the cash outlay on each person involved that way, wouldn't it?)

But seriously, why not? I know a couple family groups around here who do just that every year. But then too, they also have bigger families than mine and a little sounder financial picture too, come to think of it. But still and all, I do think it's an idea that warrants taking a bigger, closer look at, ya know.

Or heck, maybe some of you -my blogger friends -might want to take a vacation somewhere on the east coast and with enough bloggers, we could easily fill one of these gorgeous beach homes and have a great time together, enjoying the sun, surf and summer fun, couldn't we?

Just some food for though in one of my crazy dreams but one that I think has a touch more probability that it could happen that my idea of going to Sweden some day.

As long as I can keep dreaming though, I'll be okay!

Family Time

What a way to welcome spring!

The past two days have been fantastic -and not just because the weather was extremely cooperative but because I had the opportunity to have my older daughter and her son, my Prince Alex grandson, here Saturday and through today! Then, later this afternoon, my son, Clate, along with his girlfriend, Betty and her daughter, Rachel, were here for a visit and supper.

Last night though we all attended our school drama club's presentation for this year. This is always a big event in our area as the lady who is in charge of our Drama Club always manages to find something really terrific for the kids to present.

This year it was "Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory" and the kids really, REALLY outdid themselves! They always do kick butt with their performances every year but this year, well I was especially proud because one of the leading parts was played by a cousin of mine! And another lead role was played by the great-grandson of the people who lived beside me when I was a child -and who were like another set of parents to me back in those days!

My cousin -Jamison "Jamers" Monela was the character Charley Bucket and Jeremiah Dobo portrayed Grandpa Bucket. Both these young men did an awesome job in their parts and for that matter, so did every single one of the rest of the kids in the cast along with the crew who did all the behind the scenes work too!

The director also just so happens to be my next-door neighbor -Deb Young Moriarity -and as she has always done, she came through again this year with a big winner of a production!

Here's a couple of pictures, not too great I'm afraid as my camera doesn't have a high speed setting so in the lower light conditions, by the time the click took effect, some of the people being photographed moved and well, you can see for yourself. Trust me though, the play was great, the thought of trying to get a shot and preserve a little "history" was there too, ya know!
The cast member in the red dress walking off stage here is the daughter of the director and our next-door neighbor -Kylie Moriarity! She was terrific in the role of the really spoiled rotten little girl!
This is Jeremiah Dobo, son of Steve and Cindy Dobo, grandson of Paul and Lillian Little Dobo and great-grandson of my neighbors from my childhood, Cyril and Catherine Rothrock Little, in the role of Grandpa Bucket!
And here, standing next to Jeremiah Dobo is my cousin, Jamison "Jamers" Monela -son of Paul and Ellen Weaver Monela and grandson of Jack and Margaret Anne Hill Weaver. I don't know offhand how many of the school productions Jamers has been in to date, but between his appearances over the past so many years in the school's plays plus his acting in productions in the Summer Youth Theatre Group in Philipsburg, he's going to have a whole long list of credits to his name by the time he's ready to go to college! Both these young fellows have a lot of talent and are getting a whole lot of great exposure too in this small rural area!

And just so I don't forget to post a few other pics too, here's one of my daughter (Carrie) and her son, my Prince, Alex (yes, Alex -you're always gonna be Grammie's Prince) that I took last night as Carrie was doing her last minute dress routine to get ready to leave for the play.
(Isn't he just the most handsome young man though? I don't think my Grandma's pride is overdone in feeling that way about him, do you?)

And finally, here's the latest pictures of the kittens and their Mamas! Mandy got out one of the pac'n'play units we have here, set it up in the kitchen and parked all nine of the kittens in it. It's really funny to watch both the mama cats and the kittens as the mamas pay no attention to whether it is their own kittens or the others that they are nursing!

The only kittens I know for sure which Mama cat they belong to are the two buff/orange kittens and the dark colored calico shown here -which are Nina's babies (Nina is the orange cat.) The other kittens are all in various shades of grey stripes and I can't tell which one belongs to which cat's litter at all any more!

And finally -here's poor lonely little Sammy -feeling every bit the outcast in the house because both Nina and Chino still give him a really hard road to hoe!
And now, since Spring is officially here, lets hope Mother Nature doesn't decide to lambast us again this month with some trashy weather.

I've really become quite spoiled the past four-five days in a row with nice weather, lovely sunshine and a touch of warmth all of which came together in a great way for me to welcome Spring with family and fellowship!


Friday, March 19, 2010

On the Job...

I've been on a bit of a mission, of sorts, for the past almost three months now.

Over the past 18 months, I've been a busy little beaver doing all kinds of embroidery projects as you may recall. The objective initially in those projects was that I had the items I made in mind to be used as Christmas gifts for my kids -kind of a way to give them something they would be able to keep -and yes, use too -over the years that would be something tangible, from me to them, for long after I have gone on to my just rewards, ya know.

Well, since last fall I have been giving a lot of consideration to perhaps trying to find a way to post the items I have made online and offer them for sale. I've found a couple of places too where I can, in essence, set up a web presence to have my own little venture there then.

Although I have no idea at all if this would actually be something of a most successful home based business type venture of not but sometime in the near future, it is going to be something I have decided I'm going to give a try at any rate.

The problem for me right now is the length of time it takes me to create a finished product of the embroidery items I love to make! I really enjoy making the table toppers -a small tablecloth that measures usually anywhere from 31x31 inches square to 36x36 inches square. Sometimes, I can find one I like and can get it done in under a week. Then there are others -such as the one I am working on now -that take a long time to get them finished! The one I'm doing now is cross stitched (not counted, oh no, no, no, never would I tackle an item this size in counted cross stitch as I would never live long enough to see it completed or I would really go blind in very short order, I'm sure) but anyway, this project involves a lot of stitching and I've been working on it for almost three weeks now. Yeah, I am getting close to finishing it but I don't see anyway I can possibly put a piece like this on a website and offer it for sale as the amount of time I have invested in it, would make it impossible to determine a fair price then for the item.

So, I'm thinking because this particular piece consists of a cardinal (the bird, not a ball player) in each corner, with a bit of greens around it, and because a very dear, good friend of mine dearly loves anything to do with cardinals and also because she has a birthday coming up at the end of this month, I'm considering that this item will never see the "for sale" pile of stuff I have done!

Just as I don't feel I can put a price on this item, I know too that I also can never put a price on the value of the friendship I have with her and I know this is something when I get it done that she would understand the time element involved, she would also know too that I opted to give this to her not just because I know how much she loves cardinals but also, as a way to remember her Mother too -who also loved cardinals so very much.

There will surely be other projects that don't require quite as much time to complete them that I can do and put in my "for sale" stash, don't you agree?

On My Mind....

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably are aware by now that anytime I post a title such as this one, it's most likely gonna be a bit on the convoluted side.

And if you think that, tonight you most certainly would be right!

So many things on my mind today.

Mandy left yesterday. She and Deb (her boss-lady/friend) drove to Pittsburgh, got a motel room there and spent the night so that Thursday a.m., they could take the shuttle from the motel to the airport, leaving Deb's truck at the motel, and eliminating having to pay parking fees at the airport that way. Then, when they return next week, just hop the shuttle back to the motel, grab the pickup and ferry themselves on home!

I talked to Mandy around 11 a.m. and they had finished checking in then -just waiting to board the plan and take off around 1 p.m. for Phoenix. She called this evening about 7:30 or so -was with her Dad then and they were about to head out to start their run to Laughlin but were gonna get a motel room for tonight -as they were both pretty well exhausted. Bill talked to her a little later at which time she told him they were someplace in Phoenix but were lost cause her Dad had made a wrong turn when she told him to go one way and he went the other but her Dad was saying it was just the opposite that he'd made a correct turn but Mandy had told him to go in the other direction -something like that. (I'd love to have been a fly on the ceiling of his truck to have been able then to hear them arguing over who was right, who was wrong, on the directions. She is SOOOOOO Very much his daughter!

Maya is staying with Mandy's best friend, Jenn and her family till next Tuesday evening -when Mandy comes home so I am left to watch over Kurtis. This isn't that bad to manage with just him as in most problem areas here with the kids, Maya is just enough older (and wiser, maybe smarter then because of that) than Kurtis and tends to be the troublemaker. She either leads him astray or if she can't do that, she beats him up! Nothing like sibling love, is there?

This week, after after received the news from my doctor that I now need to have a hysterectomy because I have a virus-type infection in the cervix that is considered to be CIN2 (kind of like Stage 2 of the cancer stages is how I understand it) and since I will have to have surgery and they will have my "belly" open (as my OB/GYN dr. puts it) she thinks it would be highly advisable for me to have the hernia I have fixed at the same time.

Now, this is where things get confusing I guess.

My OB/GYN Doctor is a local physician and the doctor who did the last surgery on me is on staff at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and I need to contact him and get his opinion on whether he advises having the hernia repaired then.

Things get a bit more convoluted here now too. Those who have followed my blog since my beginning days may remember that the last surgery I had (in 2006) was to have a colostomy and the hernia I have is, apparently, in the stoma (which is the opening of the colostomy.)

None of the local surgeons here want to mess with this hernia repair because they aren't exactly familiar with how the surgeon in Pittsburgh performed and looped and what not, the colon when he did the colostomy so they think the hernia repair, if it is to be done now, should be done by the UPMC surgeon. Which is pretty much okay with me except I don't know then if he would also do the Hysterectomy because he is an internal medical surgeon, specializing mostly in oncology type patients/colo-rectal stuff, etc. So would this mean I would then also have to be referred to a surgeon on staff in Pittsburgh who specializes in OB/GYN stuff?

So, yes -that stuff is weighing on my mind a good bit right now.

But what really is bothering me more than anything else is the worry about the prep stuff I will have to take prior to the surgery, regardless of where it is done or who does what?

If you've ever had any kind of abdominal surgery, you know what prep stuff I am talking about there then, don't you? YEah, drinking that horrible stuff -either magnesium-sulfate in a pint bottle, or some stuff in a big gallon jug or just a teeny-tiny bottle of the magnesium-sulfate pretty much like taking a straight shot of rot-gut whiskey, but the reaction of one's body to the intake of this stuff -no matter how you take it -is that it then gives you the nastiest case ever of the "Runs" -or Montezuma's Revenge or whatever name you want to call it.

And I have had to drink this crapola (to make me do just that you know) enough times that I can't even stand the thought of drinking that stuff ever again. Just the mere thought of it makes my mouth pucker and my stomach begins to roll and churn making me feel like I need to go throw up, ya know.

What I'd really like to know is it possible for a person needing to do a "clean-out" number on their intestines -for purely medical purposes -to use maybe a colon cleansing pill in place of drinking that vile and very disgusting other stuff?

And regardless of what one has to ingest, my other concern then is how many boxes of colostomy bags should I invest in and have stacked in the bathroom when I do have to do this prep for the surgery anyway?

And, by doing that, what risk am I putting myself in then that all that extra flow might just cause the darned intestines to get overworked, overwraught and rupture someplace else in the process then too?

Yeah, that's the dilemma that really has be bugged very much right now.

I've been trying now since Tuesday to get in touch with the Pittsburgh surgeon but to no avail. Can't even get through to his physician's assistant to explain what's going on here now and why I need to at least talk to him, maybe will have to go see him in advance of having any surgery done.

I'm seriously thinking of telling the OB/GYN doctor here to just to the hysterectomy and I'll worry about the hernia stuff later if it does in fact become a necessity. But I do see her logic in the idea of tending to the hernia while the getting at it is good and wouldn't necessitate then another abdominal surgery somewhere down the line and having to go through the damned prep problem all over again then too!

And, when one's mind is as convoluted as mine does tend to be under the most normal of conditions -well, you can see then what a bunch of confusion this does pose for me, can't 'cha?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Volcano!

Last Thursday, it was such a nice, truly beautiful day, when I took good old Sammy out for a walk, we very much extended our stroll to include walking on some roads that weren't all level, as is the road in front of my house that we normally walk most every day.

All winter, on our walks, I have kept to just the one street -this street -going as far up as our Cluster Mail Boxes and returning home -a walk that doesn't involve any climbing of any hills -and hills are one thing that are in abundance around these parts!

But last week, we walked and walked and I took pictures -and more pictures -that show some of the ways my home town has changed over the past 6 decades.

We made a loop around the village and when we came down the big hill on the backside of town, at the foot of that hill, we took a dirt road to the left and walked probably a mile (at least) on that road, climbing up the steep incline to the top of the hill in the vicinity referred to here as "Cooper Two."

Cooper is the name of the township here so often there are references about the town and other villages that include that in the name -street, area, whatever. But the section we visited last week -"Cooper Two" comes from the Township and the "Two" has to do with the mines in the vicinity.

From the start of our walk along that dirt road, I kept trying to look past the trees for familiar landmarks along the way and for one specific thing that was the hallmark of this part of our region.

The Boney Pile! (When I was a kid it had several other names besides the boney pile. Some referred to it as the Tipple, others as the Slate Dump or the Slag Pile. My children's generation I have since learned called it the "Volcano.")

Back in the 50s, my older aunt's husband used to love to go up behind the Boney Pile and wander around amidst the rubble of the long-ago, abandoned then at least 20 years, coal mining history. He would point to various items and then try to explain to me what place this or that piece had in connection with the mining of the coal that had once been the lifeblood of this little village as well as most every other little town dotted across the county.

And one of the things he and I would usually do on these visits was to climb up to the top of the Boney Pile and from there, we could see all across the valley, such as it is, where my home village is located. From our vantage point, to our left, we could see down into the ghost town of Peale and beyond that, we could see the forest as it grew along the hillside going up to the old train station in Peale, to the coal strippings that were running hot and heavy 50 plus years ago in the region referred to here as "Tunnelside" and beyond that, to another tiny stop on the old railroad line -Gorton.

I kept looking and looking for a glimpse of the Boney Pile but couldn't find it! I couldn't even find the old path that as kids, my friends and I often walked back to the base of the boney pile too.

Now that Boney Pile or Tipple -or as my kids refer to it -"The Volcano" was something that my Grandmother as well as my Mom too, both hated! To them, it was just a huge, huge pile of slag, cinders, rocks and such -the useless stuff of the coal mining industry. And it was reputed too that back when I was a kid, the Boney Pile was still smoldering away, deep in the center which thus would give my kids and their pals the idea I suppose to call this thing "The Volcano." My Grandmother always worried about the aspect that the boney pile was still on fire and that one of these days, as she would say to my uncle and to me, "Someone's gonna climb to the top of that big, ugly and smelly thing and it's going to erupt and swallow those people up, alive!"

Hearing her say that did put a teensy bit of fear into me but not quite enough to stop me from exploring down there with my uncle.

But last week, as we walked and I took snapshot after snapshot along the road, I was disappointed in that I couldn't find, couldn't see the Boney Pile.

Then, we came upon this sign:
And on both sides of the dirt road, along the mountainside, we saw these sights then too.

The last photo there is looking out and over the approximate area where that Boney Pile I knew throughout my childhood used to be as it is gone now, plowed over in the reclamation of the area through a very large, ongoing job to reclaim the land to its former glory.

However, it struck me as also being something -dare I say it -very sad too as I lost a large part of my history in the covering over of the Boney Pile, "The Volcano."

Now if my Grandma were alive and were to hear me voice something like that last sentence, she would probably tell me -or you -that I must have lost all my marbles or some such. She so hated that part of the topography of this little town I'm sure she would regard it as being akin to hemorrhoids treatments of the highest magnitude!

While I can understand her opinion that this was just a huge, dirty old eyesore, it also was a part of my childhood, my youthful years and the fun of the excursions up there with my uncle are vivid parts of my memories.

And now, that big landmark is also a part of my memories too, isn't it?

Back in 1970, when the company I worked for sent me out to work in Phoenix, AZ for the month of July and again, for the month of October that year, we were working outside of Phoenix, off the Black Canyon Freeway and I recall my Mom asking me what the landscape was like out there -if there were mountains and if so, were they high, like the Rockies or what?

And the closest thing I could think of to describe the mountains behind the range where we were working was that they reminded me of the old Boney Pile in a very pretty way.

And today, since I can't locate any old photos showing what The Volcano"/Boney Pile actually looked like, you're just gonna have to take my word for it when I say Grandma was wrong.

The Boney Pile really was quite a beautiful place!

More Changing Scenery

The other day, I did a post about the postal system in the village where I live. In that post I had a photo of what is believed to have been the first post office in town, along with a photos of the last two locations of a physical post office here, ending with a photo of the "Cluster mailboxes" we have today.

The purpose of that post was to document how things were to how they are now and was my way of illustrating the history as well as how the town has lost a social venue when the physical building for a post office was removed from us.

Today, I'm going to show you some other things that have changed too over the years. These are all things that have been damaged and the loss is irreplaceable.

This little bungalow type residence was once upon a time the home of the "Company Doctor." It is said that it was one of those mail-order homes -from Sears-Roebuck or one of those places. When I was a child, it was definitely one of the better homes in town -very well-kept, always was enticing to me. I always wished I could see what the inside of the house looked like back then.

That idea will never come to pass -to see the inside of it -as it burned a year or so back and it has been condemned, not enough of the house left standing that it can ever be fixed, returned to its former place of honor and beauty.
The above house shown here also went up in flames about a year or so ago. It didn't have the history behind it as did the former Doctor's house, as it was an old home but it had been remodeled quite extensively in the 50s and 60s and was for a good number of years a very nice residence. I won't go into detail here on the cause of the fire and a side story about that other than to say that two people are awaiting trial because of the fire.
Located directly across the road from the house pictured above is this place. The family who owned it moved away from here back in the late 50s, perhaps early 60s -mainly because the children in the family had to leave to move to the "big city" in order to find gainful employment and then, the parents opted to follow the children there too. To my knowledge, no one has lived in this place since the elders of the family left here and thus, the house was left to just kind of die a slow passing into oblivion.
And here, just up the street and around the bend from the last two former homes is this -the rubble left behind of what once was a house -a home to some family -that has finished its descent into the depths of rubble.

Seeing these places -as well as several others with similar appearances, circumstances, etc. -it makes me think that something should be done to either find a way to restore, if at all possible, some of these homes and if that can't be done, then find a way to eradicate them -kind of like one would do if you had acne and used acne scar removal to make the surface -or the skin -of the village look presentable again.

Kind of like this place now is:
If you could have seen this house the way I saw it when I was a child, it is something that has seen a remarkable transformation!

Back then, it was very run-down, dilapidated and occupied by one old man. From what I have learned about the early history of this village, the family who once owned this place were quite well-to-do but as time moved on, so again did the children, leaving the father to live out his last days alone and unable to tend to the needs of the old house.

Some years after his death, a young couple dared to purchase this place -ramshackle as it was -and they went to work on it, lovingly restoring it to its former beauty.

And yes, it is that today -a beauty! Almost looks like it could a medium sized mansion type home from the Civil War era. The couple who bought it and restored it to look like this really should give and be given too, a big pat on the back for a job very well done.

Seeing the old homes fade away -either because they were flat out abandoned, or by fire or simply just reduced to rubble is something that saddens me very much to see this occur. Each of these places has a history -a family or perhaps even several families -who lived there, enjoyed the warmth and comfort the place had to offer and now, all that's left are memories.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On The Horizon...

A week ago -on Monday, March 8th -I had an outpatient procedure performed -a cone biopsy.

This is a biopsy done on the cervix but in this procedure, the innermost tissues of the cervix are scraped and examined. It was done because for the past two years, I have had abnormal results in my annual Pap tests.

Yesterday (March 15th) I had an appointment with the OB/GYN doctor who did the Cone Biopsy to learn the results of this test -as well as what recommendations she has for me too.

The upshot of the biopsy is that I have pre-cancerous tissue present and her recommendation is that I have a hysterectomy.

On the surface, this sounds pretty cut and dried, doesn't it? And in essence, it is that except in my case there are other circumstances.

First off, I had a colon resection done almost seven years ago to remove a malignant tumor in my colon. Then, two years after that, I had a blockage in my right urinary tract which was "corrected" by having sort of the equivalent of the colon resection except this time, it was to reroute the urinary tract around the blockage.

Then, a year after that -because of issues occurring in the colon -beginning with an infection in the outer lining of the colon at the site of the colon resection surgery - a colostomy was the recommended procedure.

About two years ago now, I learned I have a hernia too -in the area of the colostomy.

Wonnerful, wonnerful, huh?

The surgeon who did the colostomy felt surgery to correct the hernia was not a good thing as he said often it weakens the area of the surgery and creates a sort of fertile ground for yet another hernia and could then lead to even more abdominal surgery.

So today, when the OB/GYN doctor was discussing the necessary hysterectomy, she suggested that perhaps -since they would obviously have the abdomen opened up and since I've already had three major abdominal surgeries (the two mentioned above plus 29 years ago, I also had my gall bladder and appendix removed), plus the colostomy -that correcting the hernia might be a feasible thing to consider in connection with the hysterectomy.

Now, the problem with this is that the local surgeon here isn't keen on doing the hernia repair because he wasn't the surgeon who did the colostomy and it is his belief that my doctor in Pittsburgh -who did the colostomy -should be the one to do the hernia repair. And if they were to do that and the hysterectomy simultaneously, then I would have to go to Pittsburgh (136 miles from here) to have that done which would then also entail engaging a new OB/GYN doctor in that vicinity who practices at UPMC as does the surgeon I had before for the colostomy.

So now I have to contact the surgeon in Pittsburgh, talk this problem over with him and get his opinion on how to proceed with the upcoming removal of these things!

Ideally, if I have to have these things done, I would prefer to have the OB/GYN doctor I have here to do the hysterectomy but I would also prefer that my previous surgeon in Pittsburgh be the one to do the hernia repair. However, that just ain't gonna work, folks!

I'd prefer to have the surgery done, if possible, at the local hospital as for openers, it would be much more feasible for my family if I am only "incarcerated" (shall we say) for five to seven days in an institution that is a mere 22-23 miles from my home as opposed to traveling 136 miles, one way, to spend that amount of time that far away from my family!

Ah, decisions, decisions! Sure would be nice if the decisions I have to make of late didn't involved cutting into my gut again!

But unfortunately, that's not the case.

So it's gonna mean a bit of phone tag I suppose to reach my surgeon in Pittsburgh, possibly a trip or two down there for preliminary examinations, consultations, etc. And then, figuring out from what he says, what route to take.

Frankly, aside from the distance and travel required -plus the prep I would imagine that would be needed too for abdominal surgery (same drill as one has before having a colonoscopy and in that case, the prep stuff is really worse than the procedure) -but I really like the surgeon in Pittsburgh -very, VERY, nice eye candy ya know, plus he is just a sweetheart to deal with. Best bedside manner I've ever encountered over the years! So at least, the fact I like that particular doctor -a lot (and so do my daughters for that matter -tee hee) does help to make the trip and all that crapola a bit more enticing.

So tell me -what would you do anyway?

Looks like this spring and/or summer is gonna be one of me recuperating -again, or maybe I should say, as usual, huh?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scardy. Scardy.

Those words in my title -"Scardy. Scardy." spoken by little Kurtis, in his pronunciation simply means "Scary. Scary." And boy, he has had the things he's been afraid of too over the past year, for sure.

Just when we think we have it pretty well in check, know which items will trip his trigger and set him off, crying -no sometimes screaming in his panic-stricken voice (which means it's loud, very, very loud) something else comes along that frightens him and we have to figure that item then into the mix when we go someplace.

Case in point: Tonight, we went to a benefit spaghetti dinner, organized as a senior class project by a young girl my daughter knows through her step-daughter. The beneficiary of this dinner though -now that person we know quite well, as it is the daughter of a couple who are among Mandy's bestest friends ever.

This would be the infamous couple -Jenn-Jenn and her husband, Nick-Nick -and their three children -all who are at the top of Maya (and Kurt's too) list of most favorite people they know. Their youngest daughter, Emily, was diagnosed a little over a year ago with Transverse Myelitis and I'm not even going to try to explain this illness here but suffice it to say it is a very serious condition to hit on a kid Emmy's age -or at any age for that matter.

Mandy, the kids and I went to this dinner. Maya actually was pretty well-behaved, which is always nice when that happens. Kurtis though -well he had a bit of a meltdown caused by something the people at the table in front of us had with them.

Prior to the wife (of the couple) sitting down, she had been roaming all around the cafeteria with a nice big fat movie camera perched on her shoulder. She was photographing (filming) everyone and everything, or so it seemed. Kurt, I think, saw her in action but had no reaction to her or the camera then.

Not until she put the video camera on the table with the lens pointed virtually directly at Kurtis and then, boy did the crap hit the fans with him! The poor kid was absolutely terrified! Crying, screaming, words all jumbled up so we couldn't make out what he was trying to say and for a good while, all we could make out was him saying the "Scardy, scardy" over and over again.

Finally, Mandy figured out that it was this video camera that was putting the fear of God into his poor little self so she got up, walked over to the man seated at the table and asked him if he would mind moving the camera to his right side and pointing it in another direction.

He did that and as soon as that camera was out of Kurt's sight, he calmed down right away!

I won't go so far as to say that he was as good as gold then but at least he did quit screaming and that's all that was ultimately important for us so we could have a semi-peaceful meal then!

Changing Scenes!

Gosh, but it's nice today! Beautiful day in Pennsylvania -and probably around a good bit of the country as well. Sunny, bright, warm -snow melting down quickly and a little of the mud is even beginning to dry up too, thanks to no rain, snow and yuckiness over the past few days.

So, in conjunction with my ongoing exercise and diet (that's not been being observed too much of late), Sammy and I went for our fairly regular walk. I even took my camera along to try to take a couple of pictures that I could post here as well -and use them, if need be, to prove to my doctor perhaps that yes, I have been out and at least doing a little bit of walking as my exercise program.

I had a little idea when we left the house of what I wanted to photograph and post here to show you but I got so many pictures by the time I was done that you might think -if I were to post them all today -that maybe I'd been away, enjoying one of those Branson vacation packages or something along those lines at any rate.

My original idea for my post today was to show you a bit of history from this little village, mainly pertaining to the U.S. Postal Service as it was over the years and is today, available to those of us who live here.

So, beginning here with the earliest photo I've come across to date of what once upon a time -probably way, way before my time even -was perhaps the first post office in Grassflat. I think this photo was sent to me by my good friend (and long-distance historian of this region), Jeff Feldmeier, from Allen Park, Michigan. He wasn't sure where this building was located but near as I can figure out, based on the church steeple nearby, I think this was the house that stood beside the old Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church that was in the upper end, known as "Pleasant Hill" section of the town. (That church burned to the ground either in the fall of 1966 or 1967 -can't find anyone who is 100% sure of which year that happened.) Anyway, neither Jeff nor I have a clue as to what year this photo of the old post office was taken either.

I think, the place I knew as the post office while I was a child and until my early teen-age years was located from probably the early 1920s until the late 50s in a building that was added on to the homestead of the Lakin family from town. When I was a kid, the postmistress was Miss Ethel Lakin and her home was at that time, considered to be one of the finer houses in the village. Sadly, after her death, the place suffered greatly and about 18 months ago, was sold for the grand sum of $4,500 -if you can imagine buying a house for a price like that in today's age!

Here's what's left of that house today -which will probably explain why the price was so low too!
The addition to the house that housed the post office of my younger days was located where you see the triangular outline of something that obviously has been torn away. And thank goodness it was torn off too as the roof was caving in, windows broken and well, just in a big mess of disarray.
After Ethel Lakin, the long-time postmistress here retired, the guy who took her place as postmaster (Tom Janosky) also moved the post office to a building that had at one time been a little store in town and which Tom owned. That building has since been torn down as has the remains of a big general store that was owned and operated by the Mike Humenik and his son, Johnny, for many years. It was referred to often as the old "Company Store" because before Mike took it over, the building had belonged to, of course, the Coal Company that pretty much ran the town for many, many years. This is what is now on the land that formerly was the post office during the 60s and up until 1994 when our post office was permanently closed and the old general -or Humenik's- store.

And this my friends, is where I get my mail delivered today!
Since the summer of 1994, when Tom retired (our last postmaster), the post office decided not to use the building they rented from Tom as it needed a lot of upgrades to make it handicapped accessible, provide adequate parking and such, and apparently it was felt it would be too difficult and costly to do that, so they shut the post office in town down then.

My great friend, the late "Uncle Joe Benny" Nadzom, (He and his wife are not related to me but my kids and I always refer to them as "Uncle Joe Benny" or "Aunt Helen Ann".) tried and tried to keep the post office from closing on us but it was a useless battle. So today, the residents of town either get their mail delivered directly to their home if they were on the old Rural delivery route system or they have a box in one of the three "cluster" boxes that are strategically located within the village.

This group -where I pick up my mail -is almost dead-center in town, a bit below where the last post office once stood and the buildings that occupied this site when I was a kid were what was left of the Westberg's Garage and the old "nick" -short for Nickolodeon or the movie theater owned by the Isaac Kolivosky family. Yes, this little village at one time, clear up into the very early 50s, had a functioning movie theater here! I even remember going to see two movies there too as a child -"Snow White" and the last movie I think ever shown at the old theater, "Miracle of Fatima."

I took several other photos (several, being a bit of an understatement) but will do a couple other posts using some of those pictures in connection with the them here of the way the scenes in my hometown, this little village, used to be and how they are today.

As to the loss of our post office, this is something I miss very much, not having a building to go into and pick up my mail there. It was the town's focal point for keeping up with the news around the village -true stuff or just plain gossip, ya know. It was where one learned that this person was ailing, another had died, someone else got engaged or married, new babies that were born were celebrated in that old establishment too for many, many years. Today, the only establishments in town where one can sort of "catch up" on local news is either The Moose or the town's remaining pub, Cooper's Bar and Grill. Well, the Catholic folks can still learn a little via their church built atop the hill in town in the 60s but that still leaves the Protestant population kind of out in the cold, ya know.

It was how people related to each other and now, ask anyone who has lived here for a long time and they will tell you -as I often say -about how, way back when, I knew almost everyone in the village and in some instances, knew their family trees almost as well as I knew my own!

How things have changed to today where none of us can say that about our neighbors and the village as a whole any more because in many cases, we have neighbors who aren't exactly new but may as well have just moved in on our respective streets because we no longer know the names of those who are our neighbors.

And that is something I do, truly miss!