Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Walk Around the Block!

Most of the walks Sammy and I have taken over the past three weeks or more have been pretty much concentrated on walking down to Peale (the ghost town) or out along Cooper Two where there has been a very large mine reclamation job finally finishing up out there.

Today however, I decided we would walk around town -leaving my house and going up a little way past our postal cluster boxes and then turning down Clearfield Street to walk through the section of the village always called "Dobry Town."

This particular section of the village was populated mainly for many years by people of the Slovak ethnicity and as such, from early on until probably the late 60s and even into the early 70s, there was not much in the way of cross-cultural communication with people in that end of town and those who lived atop the hill or down in the gully along the street where I live and where I grew up. The section where I live is referred to as "West Clymer" although why they called it that and still do is beyond me since it is actually in the eastern end of the village. Go figure, huh? But this section as well as the hill top has always been considered to be for the Swedish families and their descendants and they and the Slovaks rarely intermingled for many, many years. Silly, isn't it, to think of such prejudices that existed here then but they did and boy, you didn't usually break those cultural barriers back when I was a kid!

But anyway, to walk around the village on this route comes out to be almost exactly a two mile walk from start to finish and the two hills involved are not really steep therefore I don't mind this walk, provided I head UP the road from my house and not by going down the road cause then, the hill between the bridge below my street that goes up into Dobry Town is long and a hard pull for me then till I reach the top! (Certainly I am going to take the easiest route to walk ya know. Hope you didn't think I'd gone completely over the deep end with my walking, now did you?)

But anyway, these pictures are nothing fantastic -just a few simple sights I saw and that I liked too.

This is the first thing I saw that caught my eye.
These pictures -of raspberries ripening -were taken just before the house in Dobry Town that used to belong to the Palush family but it has been vacant for many, many years now. I saw some ripening raspberries at two other spots along my walk today too -one bush being under a big old hemlock tree just up the street from my house in front of the home that used to belong to Andy (Benny) and Florence Nadzom. Really amazed me to see those berries growing there right under the hemlock's branches!

Just up and around the curve a little piece -just past Irene Danko's family home and slightly beyond where former residents in this spot -Tessa Schuller and Babe Terry -lived a long time ago, I saw these flowers. I can't say what they are because I have no clue as to the identity of the tiny purple blossoms in the upper photo nor do I have a clue as to what the white flower is on the big bush in the backdrop of the lower picture either! A botanist or horticulturalist I am not, that's for darned sure. But I don't recall ever having seen either of these blossoms before and thought they were both very pretty. The one in the lower photo only had a couple of bloomers right now but the bush was just loaded with all kinds of bud that looked like they are ready to explode any day now. I'll have to remember to venture back over there perhaps at the end of this week to see if the whole bush is abloom by then perhaps.

Doesn't this sight above kind of make you think you are out in farming territory -just driving along a little side lane or something? This was taken just beyond the flower pictures above and is of some miniature horses or ponies -not sure which exactly -grazing in the field beside the house that used to belong to Joe and Pauline Petrof Bosak. Yeah - this is sort of a mini-farmette right smack in the middle of the village!

Because I happen to love roses -virtually any kind, any color -although I love the yellow roses or the white ones the best -I snapped this picture of this rose bush -I think these are rambling roses or wild roses -not sure what they are really called. But anyway, this bush was in bloom alongside of the garage that had been part of the property where John (Crocky) and Evelyn Johnson Prokop had lived when I was a kid. Just hit me as so pretty a sight is all this was.

And finally, on my little two-mile tour today, Sammy and I encountered this cat across the street in front of Bosak's old garage. I was quite surprised by the demeanor of this cat who didn't make any attempt whatsoever to take off running when it saw Sam and I walking nearer to it! Sam even got really up close and personal with the cat too as he sniffed it several times before crouching down in front of it and barking a bit. Truthfully, since he is accustomed to our cats here -mainly to Fluff-Nuts being his playmate and sometimes even his sleeping partner too -I think Sam's gesture in barking at the cat the way he did was to try to entice the cat to play with him -which of course was a complete failure in that respect.

When we walked away, the cat was still sitting there though in the same position, not having moved at all with Sam's intrusions there!

So there you have it -not that much to see around here most of the time -which probably makes a lot of folks wonder what the heck I see about this tiny town that entices me.

Maybe it is simply that it is this small, for openers and that I knew so many of the former residents and still do know a lot of the residents here today -although not near as many as I knew when I was a kid. Why is that I wonder that people move in here now, even close by me, and for some reason, it is not near as likely that people will get acquainted quickly or easily and become good neighbors and even friends such as life was back when I was a kid?

Probably I stay on here simply because it is that thing called "HOME!"

My oldest uncle lived for many, many years down in and around Pittsburgh and built a beautiful two-story brick home too in Monroeville, but yet, he never referred to that house as "home" using that term when he was talking about this town, this house where I live, which was always "HOME" to him too. Even though he lived more years around Pittsburgh/Monroeville than he ever did here.

Yeah, go figure, huh?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Of Memories and Memory.

How good is your memory?

Mine is toast with respect to the short term stuff. I can't remember stuff I need to retain for five minutes and don't even think about asking me what happened or what I did yesterday!

Total recall is definitely not a part of my vocabulary.

And I'll be very honest here as I tell you this, it scares the living daylights out of me how darned forgetful, or is it senile, that I have or am becoming!

This is probably the one thing I do actually worry about -a lot, too. The cancer, the prior surgeries, the upcoming surgery -I pretty much put them out of my mind and don't allow myself to dwell on them.

A lot of folks have remarked to me that considering my medical issues over the last seven years and that it all started going downhill with the go-round of colo-rectal cancer, they don't understand my lackadaisical attitude towards health concerns. But that simple to me. My theory is we all are going to die someday and what good would worrying about this do me but perhaps bring it on sooner as a result of my worrying about it all.

The spring of the year I received the cancer diagnosis (2003) our church had an interim minister then as we awaited the arrival of a new minister who had accepted the call to our parish. But prior to that, I was going for some counseling with the interim pastor -a really terrific guy who I often had wished would have accepted the call to our parish. Just a really nice man, easy to talk to about any and virtually all concerns.

One day, in our chat, I mentioned to him my one worry -the forgetfulness -and I told him it emanates from the fact that my grandfather had what was back in the 50s referred to then as "Hardening of the arteries." Today, I suppose it could be considered Alzheimer's or simply dementia but anyway, he had a lot of days the last two years of his life when he didn't know my Grandma, my Mom, other family members and friends, often tried to run away and did a few other slightly strange things then too. (Funny thing though about his memory lapses is that he always knew me! He'd always called me or referred to me as "the kid" and that never left him.)

But anyway, I had explained to the minister that I really don't fear or dread death but the thing I do fear most is that as time goes on, I will end up like my Grandfather or like my Mom's older sister or even like my Mom, who was beginning to get a lot of the same issues shortly before she died like Grandpa or my aunt had. And, I told him, for whatever it is worth, I just hate the thought of not knowing the people around me, family members, friends and such and not even perhaps even knowing who I am either then.

I told him that if there were a guarantee that came with longevity that I could live to a really ripe old age and be like a lady from our parish who lived to be 101 and was fully lucid -as well as quite active too -up almost to the very end -I wouldn't mind living on and on and on, ya know.

Well the pastor looked at me and said "Well, I really think even if you do live a really long life and even if your mind takes a vacation, consider it this way. You will still be happy because you won't realize that you don't know what's going on around you then anyway!"

Yeah, true enough, that thought is, but still....

However, there is something else too and that's the fact that many of my family members and a lot of my good friends too tend to marvel at my memory these days.

No, not the short term stuff which I already mentioned that it is very SHORT! But rather the things I remember from years and years long gone by!

This subject came up again at the monthly lunch event I attend with 3 or 4 good friends from high school as well as two of these friends go way back to first grade. My friend Kate -well that friendship extends back as far as I can remember as we grew up two doors apart, have been best of friends for at least 62-63 years now.

But I remember all kinds of minute details, events, birthdays, family stories not just from my own family but often from theirs too!

Earlier this week when my older daughter and her son -my older grandson -were here for supper, we got talking around the table then about memories and how I remember a lot of stories about our family too from fifty years and more.

And I was telling them stories about my Grandpa -and his issues of confusion and memory loss and also, things about neighbors and friends -people they also know.

I told them that my good friend Rose -one of the girls in my lunch group -and someone I've been friends with now for almost 60 years -marvels that I remember some of the things I do -like the time I called her on her wedding anniversary about 2, maybe 3 years ago, just to wish her and Durv a Happy Anniversary.

But, as I explained to my girls, as long as I remember what year I graduated from high school and also, that there is such a thing as Saint Patrick's Day, I figure I'll always be able then to remember then how many years Rose and Durv have been married since they got married on St. Patrick's Day the year we were seniors in high school!

Here's hoping the memories still hold up for me for a few more years to come though. Which is one reason why I started this blog -four years ago this coming September -so I could document things my kids and especially my grandchildren do and also, write about things I remember from a long, long time ago, things that impacted me, that made or make me who I am today, ya know -so my kids and the grandchildren too and anyone else in my linage who might come along many years from now and can understand then who this person -me -really was!

Just in case someone somewhere in the future might want to know that really important stuff about me, ya know!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Twins? Not Quite!

I was looking tonight for a recent picture of Maya and Kurtis together to give the story I'm about to tell you a bit more credence but couldn't locate one that was really recent. I did however find this one -taken a little over a month ago of the two kids.
I think you can see a lot of the ways the kids look alike on this -although not as much as I'd like to be able to show of the two of them together and how much alike they do look at sometimes.

But, since I do like this shot of them together -I decided what the heck. I'll go with it anyway.

Today though, my best friend from my working days at the NRA -way, way back ya know -happened to phone me and we were having one of our normal really lengthy phone conversations. For the most part of our talk, the kids were playing -fairly quietly -upstairs in their room, with an occasional jaunt past me in the living room. Just so I would remember they were still present and accounted for I suppose.

However, at one point, they appeared in front of me and they looked a tad differently than they had on their previous visit. Hmmm. I could have sworn Kurt had shorts on earlier and Maya too plus, I know she'd apparently changed tee shirts too.

But why?

So I asked Kurt where his shorts were and why was he running around with only his underwear and a tee shirt on. Maya, meanwhile, is standing there just giggling at me and that's when I realized she had shed her shorts too and was only wearing a tee shirt and underpants as well. On a closer glance I also then realized she didn't even have her own underwear on but rather was wearing a pair of Kurt's underwear -training pants with little pictures all over 'em of Spongebob Bob -or whatever that yellow square cartoon character is called.

So I asked her why they were both dressed like this.

You ready for her answer now?

"Because we are pretending to be twin brothers!"

Gotta love it that she has an answer for darned near everything, huh?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Fun and Games -Some Not!

It's been a busy time the past week here!

On Saturday, Mandy and I went to a wedding. The wedding of our neighbor's daughter, Susan, to Kenny and a beautiful wedding it was, indeed! (Susan's mother has been my closest friend, geographically speaking, for most of my life and we've also been best of friends in the true meaning of the word "friend" too for all those years, which now number probably close to 64 years! Incredible huh? But true!)

Here's a picture of the bride and groom -just for you to view! The groom is right beside her! And, beside the groom is his mother too -as they stood in the receiving line right after the ceremony.
I don't know about your thoughts on the bride, but I think she looks mighty happy! As well as beautiful too.
In this, another view of the receiving line, here's Susan and Kenny and in the background, there's her Dad -Jim Eyerly and her mother, my good friend, Kate Nelson Eyerly. Jim looked a lot more comfortable in this pose than he did when we saw him earlier -just before the service -when he was preparing to escort Sue down the aisle. He also sang a solo at the end of the service -a beautiful rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" done to perfection. Put that great tenor voice of his to very good use on this occasion he did!
Three generations here -Susan's niece, Katie, Susan's mother, Kate and Susan's oldest sister, Karen -at the beginning of the reception.
Susan's sense of humor often is very much like her Dad's -more than a bit zany much of the time. Here she is at the reception as she and Kenny made the rounds, greeting and visiting a bit with all their guests. In this shot, she was showing those of us at our table the "comfort" shoes she had chosen for this big event in her life. As a joke, I told her to put her foot up on the table so I could get a better shot of the shoes and Susan, being Jim's daughter, obliged!

There's been a whole lot of drama ongoing this week in our house -things I will not write about here mainly because there are also certain elements in this area -people -who have been reading my blog, not interpreting correctly either as they have run to other people to tell things that aren't accurate about things I've said here. Therefore, if those people -and you know who you are -care to know the details about which I give reference here -think about my hand and a specific digit on one's hand and picture this -I'm waving it right at you right now! (If you want to talk and spread gossip, sure would be nice if you got your stories right, ya know!)

I'm still waiting -fairly patiently -for a call from the hospital in Pittsburgh with the date when I have to go there again to have all the pre-operative tests run -about 2-3 hours worth of 'em as a matter of fact. After that is done, the hospital -and the surgeon -then have 30 days time in which to schedule me for the surgery and if they don't do it in that time span, I'll have to go and have the darned tests all repeated then!

Yesterday was a milestone day for Miss Maya as she lost her first UPPER tooth! The other one probably will follow along in fairly short order to so we've been telling her by Christmas she'll probably have her own special song she can sing then --"All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth!" You wouldn't think one little tooth can do much to change a child's appearance but today, she seemed to look much older than just 6 years old -well, older than she looked Tuesday night when she still had a full contingency of baby teeth then!

Today, I went to lunch with four of my good friends from elementary and high school but, because Mandy had to go to Hershey Medical Center with her best friend and her daughter, for me to go to the luncheon today, I had Maya and Kurtis as well as the TSS who works with each child with me too! This is all part of the work these young women do with the kids to try to aid them in the process of learning good social skills and in that respect, I am really happy to report that both of them did extremely great today!

They ate the chicken tenders and a lot of their french fries, polished off their applesauce and milk too and not only that, they were so well-behaved it almost put me in a state of shock, ya know!

They usually do fairly well in settings like this but the thing with these two is that that worm can turn on you in a heartbeat and a meltdown can develop out of no where. But today, they really were both at their absolute best in the behavior department.

As we left the restaurant, Kurtis went up to each of Gram's friends and gave each one a big, big hug, saying and waving "Good bye" to them as we headed out the door.

Can't very well ask for anything more, can you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Singing That Do-Do-Do-Do Voodoo Song!

As if I didn't have enough garbage, crapola, junk and just plain bad vibes floating about in my own private little Idaho here, this morning when I checked my e-mail I found a rather strange message there.

It was an e-mail from a good friend who lives down in Florida but with whom I hadn't had any communications for the past few months. In this message, she (supposedly) was writing to tell me that they were in England, stranded by customs, couldn't get their hotel bill squared away, etc., etc. You probably recognize that drill as being one of the many, many spammers sends, don't you?

Well I did anyway -recognize this note as such -spam and a scam!

Then, about three messages after that one, there was an e-mail actually from my friend's husband telling me-and various other friends and relatives -that their e-mail account had been hacked into and someone was spamming folks in their address book with the above cited message.

Hmmm. I was just in the process at the time of getting ready to e-mail them and tell them there was some fishy stuff going on with their e-mail so the timing on that note was impeccable.

But as I went to reply to the legitimate note, it dawned on me that if I did reply to their actual message, who would receive my note then? Would it be received and read by the spammer or would my friends actually then get my note?

So, I decided against replying right then to them and was going to try to find someone with more knowledge than I have about e-mail, the internet, spammers and cyberspace stuff -which shouldn't really be all that difficult as my knowledge really isn't near what a lot of folks tend to think it is about these things. Many of my friends think because I am frequently camped at the computer that I know ALL there is to know about this stuff when in essence, I am actually quite ignorant about many things pertaining to those areas -or maybe I should rephrase that and say that really applies to most things internet/computer related! LOL

Now, here's where the singing of that "do-do, do-do" music comes into play.

I had the e-mail to my friends open, ready to to a reply and just left it there till I had acquired some more information but when I went to go back to their real message, it was no where to be found within my e-mail!

It wasn't hanging around in my in-box, nor was it showing up in my out-box or my junk mail folder or my trash! Just sort of had evaporated into thin air -or whatever kind of air constitutes cyberspace!

So that's my song today -Do-do, Do-do!

Anyone have any suggestions as to where that pesky but legitimate e-mail may have gone?

I haven't a clue!

Someone I Never Knew

All my life, Father's Day was a day that was painful for me. Why? Because I never had the opportunity to know my Dad as he died when I was 17 days old. He saw me one time, when I was 10 days old and my Mom took me to the hospital where he was dying then of cancer so he could meet me, see me, etc. I was the only child as they had only been married for a short 14 months before he passed although they had been dating for close to ten years. That was a fact that I always resented too and used to tell my Mom if she and my Dad had married earlier on, I could have had at least a brother or sister, maybe even more, who knows!

My "issues" if you will, about Father's Day stem solely from the fact I never knew my Dad but not because I grew up with no father figure in my life. Mom and I lived with her parents so until I was a little over 12 years old, I had my Grandpa in my life. And let me say this too -I adored him! Several of my cousins have told me in recent years that they felt he was just a stern, old man and they feared him but the only time I was ever the least bit afraid of him was a couple of times in the last 2 years of his life when he was very senile, or had dementia or Alzheimer's they probably would call it today. Now and then he would lose his knowledge base, not know my Mom or Grandma but for some odd reason or other, he always seemed to know me. It was a difficult period for my Mom and Grandma then because he would often try to run away and then, if I was at home, my Mom would call out to me to run after him till she could get the car out to go pick him up. He would, you see, always let me accompany him on his wanderings and usually, if Mom got the car out and pulled up beside him, she could then trick him into getting into the car and bring him back home.

But besides my Grandpa, I had several others in my growing years -uncles -who stepped up to the plate you could say -and were at least kind of temporary father figures to me.

My Dad's youngest brother was one who lived the closest to us so he was one who was high on my surrogate Dad list. Uncle Arch was not only just as cute as a button, but he was also one who really lavished me with lots and lots of love. If I was at my Dad's homestead -where Uncle Arch and his family lived, along with my youngest Aunt -and if one other aunt happened to be there too (my Aunt Sis) there was absolutely no getting past either of them without first getting and giving hugs and kisses galore. (Demonstrative, with respect to showing major affection, was not a big trait with my Mom's family so this was an attribute I relished very much when at that Uncle's home. That, plus his daughter was only a year older than I so we grew up quite close then. Today, we have rekindled that relationship even though she is well over 2,000 miles away from me -down in Austin, Texas -but we e-mail back and forth frequently. And, we also use each other often as sounding boards too when we are ticked off about various things too!

My Mom's older sister and her husband had no children of their own but they doted on me -a lot! I lived with them for over a year from 1951 until Thanksgiving of 1952 and spent the better part of all my summer vacations from 1952 until 1962 at their home, with them. Anytime, when I was a kid and would get mad at my Mom and decide I was going to run away from home, my plans were that I would take off, hitchhike and go to Jamestown, New York and live with them.

The summer of 1964, when it came time for my Mom's family reunion -which until that year, I had never missed any reunions of that part of my family -I was working in D.C. and one of my roommates was from back home here. She also had a car and was going to be coming up home that weekend so I was going to ride up with her. I don't remember now what went haywire with those plans but we didn't get here till about 1:30 in the afternoon, the day of the reunion, and everyone had gone to the park probably about 2 hours earlier and I had no way then to get to the park. When they came home that evening, when my Uncle Butch pulled up in front of the house and I came outside to greet the family as they returned home, he broke down and cried and cried to see me. Why? Because when I didn't show up at the reunion, he was worried I was angry with him over some silly thing or other and that's why I wasn't there! Well, we both sat and cried then too because I was really upset at having had to miss the reunion!

Uncle Butch could be a bit of a taskmaster at times -had very high expectations for folks, especially for his nieces and nephews -which sometimes didn't go over all that well with my cousins and with myself either. But he was also the most tender, soft-hearted person you'd ever hope to know. He and my our neighbor two doors over here (also my best friend Kate's Dad) loved to go fishing and every year when my aunt and uncle would come home on vacation, Uncle Butch and Howard would make plans -big fishing plans -to go trout fishing down outside Bellefonte on the State Prison grounds there. Actually, they would plan to make to fishing excursions there -one for just the two of them together when they could do some serious fishing and another day, they would take Kate and me with them! My aunt would pack a big picnic basket with all kinds of food for the four of us and Kate and I would have a ball, wading in Spring Creek (scaring all the fish is more accurate what we were doing though -according to my Uncle and Kate's Dad). We would fish from the bridges used by the guards and convicts as they transported them all around the grounds there and the thing we usually caught -nothing! Well, other than a good time, that is!

My Mom's younger brother -Uncle Cookie, as he was always called by my cousins and me -had four children of his own, taught school in Corry, PA and because that was back in the days when teachers were grossly underpaid, he also always worked at least one part-time job all the time. But in the summers, when I would go to my aunt and uncle's in Jamestown, it was always figured in for me to have a chance to spend usually at least a week at Uncle Cookie's house, with his kids and all the many animals they always had too. They always had at least one -sometimes several -collie dogs, for openers. Then my uncle got the idea to raise a pig to slaughter for their freezer, their older daughter loved cats so she was allowed to have a cat and the oldest son for a while was into raising rabbits too. The younger girl got control over some ducks they had for a while and the younger son -well, his pet was the pig! One year, my uncle got the notion he'd love to have lamb so he went and got this really cute little white lamb and had it "farmed" out on a back section of his property. That was all well and good until he started treating that lamb more as a pet -naming her -and he would come home from work and go check on her, ending up sitting on the ground beside her, gently stroking her. When it came time to plan to butcher, he lost his taste for lamb!

But he was such a fun uncle to be around. He had a fantastic sense of humor and could cajole his kids and me into doing a lot of things that other kids may not have seen as a fun way to spend the time. Actually though, I credit the time I spent during my summers at their home as the only time I was really exposed to what it was like to live in a "normal" family. At home here, our lifestyle was often pretty disorganized and as a result, we had no set time for supper and I had no bedtime schedule during my growing years either. Probably explains a bit of why I have always been a major night owl I guess!

My Mom's older brother and his family of five children often came here for weekends and were always here for Christmas -usually spending the entire week after Christmas here too. I loved that but my cousins weren't all that keen on country life as they lived in a suburb just outside of Pittsburgh and this little village was way to tame and quiet much of the time for them. Actually, it was more to the point that they had their life there and friends of course so they gave up a lot just so we could all be together for every holiday during the year.

My uncles played very important roles in my upbringing but not in a way that was always really visible to me at the time. Sure there was a lot of hugs and kisses and being demonstrative with affection from my Dad's brother and yes, my aunt and her husband -who were made my legal guardians when I lived with them -did give me a goodly amount of things my Mom would never have been able to provide -my bicycle, roller skates when I was in my teens, clothing, jewelry and such -and my younger uncle did provide things that weren't tangible but were ever so important to my growth and maturity as well as my education back then. But it was something I didn't recognize then as the surrogacy factor in action. I do today though and I do thank my lucky stars that each and everyone of them was a part of my early life, my learning process.

After I left home and went to work -spending eight years working in D.C. for the National Rifle Association -I didn't realize it at the time but in hindsight, I often gravitated towards men who were sort of along the lines of "father figures" to me then. In particular, the guy who was my last boss at the NRA became a mentor for me and in all the employment I have had since I left that place back in 1972, I have never had a boss who I respected as much as I did that man and whose friendship I truly valued over the years very, very much. He taught me so much while I worked for him and also, showed me that people can work together in an atmosphere that also includes lots and lots of fun, joking and pranks too and still get the work processed in a very timely fashion. It does help a whole lot when you love to get up and go to work as opposed to being in a place where your work, your skills, your entire being, is regarded more along the slave lines or that you are a lesser person and undeserving of decent working conditions! Put that in your pipes and smoke it -any of my previous employers who operated in that manner!

About 2 years after my divorce, while working as a waitress at a nearby truckstop here, I met someone who truly epitomized the "father figure" for me as well as becoming a grandfather figure to for all three of my children. He was a trucker and quite the character too! He and one of his sons both drove tractor trailer back then for the now defunct Interstate System and his cb handle was "Old Granddad!" Short, a bit rotund, with a deep, deep often gruff laugh, he was one of the nicest men I have ever known. He and his wife lived at Conneaut Lake Park -two blocks from the Kiddy Land section of the park -and they also owned a cottage across the street, on the park grounds, that they rented out each summer. I don't know how I lucked out in acquiring Regis Ryan Sr as such a great friend but I did and my kids were enthralled with him and his wife, Mary Ellen too! "Pap" -as my kids often called him -took them (and me) under his wing and we had standing invitations to spend "Teamster Picnic" weekend at their home every summer from 1982 until 1993. (He died in August of 1993 and my younger daughter and I made the drive out to western Pennsylvania to his funeral, while my son had to stay at home as he couldn't get the day off from work. It meant as much to Mandy and to me to be there for Pap's funeral as it would have if he had actually been a full-fledged member of our family.) His wife had died about 2-3 years before him and because I was away when she passed, I didn't learn of her death until the day after the funeral when he called to tell me. That was a jolt too because again, my kids and I had come to love Mary Ellen as much as we did Pap! They even took Mandy and Clate up to their home for a week to relax and enjoy the lake, the park and Mary Ellen's great cooking too!

When Pap died though, the loss of this guy who had taken me under his wing, treated me like a daughter he'd never had (as did his wife too), saying goodbye to him was for me, much like I would reckon it would have been for me had I ever known my own Dad as my kids and I loved him dearly. Purveyor of great advice, giver of pats on the back of the pride he had for my decision to go to college as a returning adult student at the grand old age of 46, my graduation was bittersweet for me then because I know, had he still been alive, he would have been there, watching me receive my little blue leather folder from Penn State with that hard-earned B.S. in it! He had confidence in me, and he pushed me to keep doing what he felt was a move in the right direction for me. He also provided my family and me with more laughs too than maybe folks even have a right to have!

It's been 17 years this summer since we said goodbye to Pap and I still miss him greatly as does my daughter, Mandy, especially. I'd love to go up to the Park again to visit the old place but somehow, without him being there, without him poking fun at us and everyone else within his range, to not hear that good deep belly laugh too -I don't think the Park would be the same. Although, some day, I hope to live long enough to take Maya and Kurt there to show them around and tell them what a wonderful person they missed out on knowing but I hope somehow to keep his memory alive by incorporating a bit of his attitude and sense of humor any way I can in their lives.

The thing though that I finally figured out about my Dad and my not being able to have ever had a relationship with him is that for years and years, there was something missing that I couldn't put my finger on until probably in the last ten years and that was that I really didn't know who I am, deep inside, because I never knew what he was like -his demeanor, his attitude about all kinds of things, what had he liked, what talents did he have that he enjoyed using.

That, plus the fact that I really didn't know his siblings -other than the one uncle and especially my youngest aunt. I knew who my other uncles were, as well as both my other two aunts -but how were any of them like my Dad? My Mom's family, on the other hand, I knew all my aunts, uncles, first cousins as well as all my Grandpa's siblings still living when I was growing up! And I knew almost all my Mom's cousins and their children too! I was raised primarily as being in THAT family and not so much a part of my Dad's family. And as a result, often I felt a void, that I was part of them yes, but not fully.

Not until I really got interested in family tree research and as I dug around online and such for information on both sides of my Dad's family tree and met some of his cousins, then also, finally got to get better acquainted with my oldest uncles children, I began to feel "at home" within myself. I was able then to figure out a few things about my temperment that hadn't always jived with my Mom's family but with my Dad's -a whole different story there.

But now, this brings me to a bit of a different quandry because you see, since my ex and I divorced 30 years ago and his siblings are scattered all over the place -with the exception of one brother who lives near to us -my kids don't really know their Dad all that well and they could probably run right into a cousin or even one of their uncles or their aunt and not have a clue that they are related. With all three of my grandkids now too, they are not in a position -nor am I now -to really get to know their roots, first-hand, by knowing all their extended family either.

And, this is something I really would like to change if at all possible for them -that they learn as much as I can pass on to them about their roots and traits that are acquired through genes often way, way back in their family history.

So -my word to you -if you are in a situation within your own family of distance from relatives or bad vibes for whatever reasons and not getting along with this relative or that or an ex-spouse situation, please at least try to share whatever good factors you can find about your family with the children left in the wake.

Trust me, it is very important for children to grow up knowing who they are, deep inside themselves and it helps immensely then for them to learn how to be more comfortable within their own skin from having that knowledge.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot Day For a Big Time!

One p.m. and it's hot here today! Gonna get even hotter today though in more ways than one though.

Sammy and I went for a walk earlier -left about 11:30 and got back to the sort of cool house about 12:15 and my lovely little pedometer says we walked 3.12 miles. For us to walk that far, in this heat, and stopping here and there to take some pictures too -we didn't make bad time at all!

Here's some of the things we saw today that interested me. Sam could have cared less about any of these except on item. Tell me when you finish reading this if you know what item he liked.

We walked down towards my favorite ghost town -Peale. Why am I so interested in this ghost coal mining town? Well mainly because when it was initially settled, my great-grandparents and six of their 12 children moved there with just about everyone else from the town of McIntyre, PA (another now ghost town down in Lycoming County) and they all came to Peale by train on a weekend in early October of 1884. Why did they all come at the same time? Mainly because these folks were employed by the coal mine -probably one belonging to the CBC Coal Company -and when a new mine was opened or another closed because it was mined out -often entire villages were moved out to other areas then.

So that's the main reason this ghost town fascinates me. Plus the fact I grew up hearing my grandfather and my uncles too talking about the early days in Peale, the mines in the area, the difficulty of the work and the dangers therein as well. And, anything my grandpa did -well that always held, and still does, my interest. (Yes, I was "Grandpa's Girl!" For sure.)
This picture above -taken from Peale Road -is where the electric line crosses the road and cuts down the hillside into the valley below. It's a scene that I find very pretty. Wish I could get a better shot of this but that's about the best my little camera can do.
This picture -taken from the same spot as the one looking down into the valley -is an overview of the valley and the mountain behind (and around) it. The Red Moshannon cuts through here approximately about in the middle section of this shot. Again, my camera isn't geared for trying to get good pictures from a distance like this but again, this is a view I really love seeing -the forest here, all green and beautiful.
As we headed back to the house I got some pictures that really interest me as this is something that maybe as early as next week we can go down there with some pails and come home with some freshly picked blueberries -or huckleberries -which is what we generally call these scrumpdelicious fat, blue berries that make into great pies and/or cobblers, maybe even jam for some folks!
Just another view of some more of those lovely huckleberries growing!
I've been watching the blossoms -pretty little white flowers -blooming for quite some time now along Peale Road and waiting, fairly patiently, to see some fruit begin to form. Still loads of blossoms for these plants alongside the road but today, finally, I saw this where there's actually some tiny little fruit beginning to form. Won't be long now -I hope -before we can also go down there and pluck that yummy fruit too -wild strawberries! Makes the best strawberry jam ever -if you're one who knows how to make that stuff, that is. My Mom and Grandma always went picking the wild strawberries to make that kind of jam -along with the other strawberry preserves they made from the berries in the big strawberry patch my Grandpa used to have way back when I was a little girl. (Yeah, a long, LONG, time ago, that was!)
I've been trying for a long time now over the past couple of weeks to get a picture of a butterfly but darned old Sammy always managed on those few occasions to startle the poor little things off and they'd fly away, out of my range.

Today, I hit it lucky though and got this shot as well as the next two pictures of this pretty little creature. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to try to hold a leash taut enough to keep one small dog fairly still long enough to catch a butterfly on film? Trust me, it's no easy task to perform!

Seeing this beautiful butterfly, so delicate, so graceful too in flight, reminded me of the big event in this area today.

My neighbor and life-long friend's youngest daughter is getting married this afternoon! Yep. Little Susan is getting "hitched" and Mandy and I are going to the wedding and of course, to the reception.

Kind of like the butterfly, getting ready to take flight, maybe? Well, not quite because Susan has taken "flight" if you will a couple of times already -high school graduation, college, work, more college but now maybe one could compare those other things, as small flights -a puddle-jumper perhaps for the first one, then maybe a commuter flight but now, she's ready for the big long flight on a jumbo jet perhaps.

Anyway you cut it, it's a big move, gonna be a big happy (and really hot) day for sure!

So here's to you, Susan and Ken. May this flight be as graceful as that of the little butterfly, as filled with lots and lots of interesting plants to visit and sights to see as that butterfly takes in too and may it bring you loads of huckleberries and wild strawberries too plus green valleys and lush thick pines, hemlocks, oaks and maples to keep your life bright, colorful and as free from strife as any marriage possibly can be.

Congratulations to both of you on this, your wedding day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lucky Day!

Some of you might not consider today (Monday, that is) as having been a lucky day for Mandy and me because it wasn't without a snafu, but overall, things went quite well.

We left here around 7 a.m. and headed west -just following good old Horace Greeley's instructions , ya know. ("Go west young man, go west." Okay, we read that as "Go west, young woman" I suppose, didn't we?)

And, we arrived at McGee Hospital at 9:45 a.m. -made great time -and I was 45 minutes early for my first appointment. (Yes, to those of you who know me and know Carrie -she is actually my daughter even though she was a week late arriving in the world and has been late for most everything every since then though. I am usually fairly punctual.) I figured we'd have to wait no matter what time each appointment was set for so came prepared with my current tabletopper embroidery project with me.

Even though the office was pretty full when we got there and I pulled the embroidery out to begin working on it, I was called back to meet with the doctor within only a couple of minutes of waiting. He spoke to me about the problems I'm experiencing, the diagnosis that forced my doctor here to refer me to the specialist(s) in Pittsburgh, he checked things out himself and then, sat down in his office to talk to me and to Mandy -explaining what he recommends, what he will do if I opt to have the surgery (which I will do) and got things in gear for the surgery to be scheduled and to take place.

I have to say both Mandy and I were very impressed with this guy -Dr. Krivak -and his thoroughness as well as his general attitude which showed he has a great sense of humor as well as very much taking his job and my health issues quite seriously. My kind of doctor that way in that I feel comfortable with him, confident in him and he was making wise cracks back and forth with both Mandy and me during the examination and consultation.

Next up was a follow-up appointment with my previous surgeon -Dr. Hughes -who, we learned about two weeks ago will be leaving UPMC the beginning of July and is moving to Gainesville, Florida to a much larger practice and a big jump in responsibilities there too. We teased him a lot about how unfair it is that he is leaving us behind and that Mandy and I are both trying to figure out a way to move to Florida just so I can keep him on as my surgeon! Best blue eyes ever this guy has got! And so nice and compassionate a doctor he is as well. Yep, we definitely are gonna miss not having him around to take care of any of my problems from here on out.

By 3 p.m. we were back at McGee Hospital to meet Dr. Eid, the third doctor I was set up to see today. He, like Dr. Hughes and Dr. Krivak, made both Mandy and I feel quite comfortable in his recommendations about the surgery.

Bottom line is that it will happen -at least the hysterectomy will definitely take place and the hernia repair is the one that still hasn't been carved in stone as to whether they will do that or a partial repair (if you will) or what exactly.

But at any rate, I have to return to Pittsburgh at a date in the near-near future to have some other necessary tests done that are considered to be the rule to go by for pre-operative procedures -a cardiogram, bloodwork, of course, and CT scans too plus some other procedures deemed needed due to previous surgeries I've had done in the past 7 years. Then, shortly after that stuff is tended to, they will set a date and time and I go back to Pittsburgh -again -but the second trip I will stay and they will cut -and cut -and cut! Okay, maybe not THAT many times but you get the picture I hope.

We stopped and did a little shopping on the way home at Pittsburgh Mills -got some good buys, had a nice time looking around that mall too. And finally, around 7:30 p.m., we were on our way back home.

We made very good time coming home too until, that is, we stopped in Clearfield so Mandy could use their restroom there and pick up a copy of tonight's paper too then.

When she came back to get in the car and leave, she glanced out the window and to her surprise -and shock -she saw steam -lots and lots of steam -coming up and out from under the hood of her car. It was then that she realized when we came down the ramp at the Clearfield exit and were behind a big truck, she'd said how she was so glad that the smoking smell she detected was apparently coming from that big truck and not from her little car.

Except that wasn't the case after all as she jumped out of the car and ran around to the front of the car to take a look and it was then that she began jumping up and down like a maniac (doing what we refer to as "The Ertmer Dance" (usually done in pure anger and tonight was no different) and all the while she was shouting one obscenity, over and over and over again -F***!

There was you see a huge puddle building up under the car at the right front and spreading quite nicely then too in the parking area at the Sheetz store on Rte 879.

About that time, a state cop pulled up in a parking spot there and he showed us just how nice and helpful the state police can be as he called in an officer assist call to one of the local towing services for us! (Talk about irony though. This trooper also just happened to be the trooper who pulled Mandy over about 2 months ago and ended up giving her a ticket for not wearing the corrective lenses that her license has stamped on it as being required!)

Thankfully, Mandy was able to contact a friend who came over and picked us up and brought us on home -down to the house -where Aunt Carrie was waiting patiently for our arrival and Maya was sound asleep in the brown recliner and Kurtis was curled up in Aunt Carrie's arms -also out like the proverbial little light!

So, though I still don't know when -exactly -this surgery will take place, it will be in the near future. And yes, I am looking forward to getting it over and done with and begin healing again, getting back on my feet and enjoying -hopefully -a goodly portion of the summer with my walks with Sammy! (And no, I'm also not looking forward to all of this either -I'm not really a glutton for punishment but rather a realist and what will be, will be, ya know!)

I have a little bit of other news tonight too -things I had planned to write about yesterday but didn't get around to doing a post after all.

Here's some photos I took of some things around here that made me very, very happy!
Finally, it happened! I've been watching -and waiting (not very patiently either, I might add) for the mountain laurel bush at the front of my house to finally begin to open the buds on it and this weekend, it finally began to bloom! Here then is the first blossom on that bush and boy, that really made me very happy to see that happen!
And here's a bunch of mountain laurel bushes blossoming away -about 2/3rds of a mile down the road from my house on the road to Peale. There's a patch that I would estimate to be between 60 to 100 foot in length and probably about 8 foot wide too, at least, of these beautiful bushes all in full bloom. What a gorgeous site it is to see them as they are surely one of the prettiest flowers of all when they do finally decide to break bad and bloom.
And finally tonight, I give you this picture of one of the two big planters I have out on my deck and if you look very closely, you will see that there are three little tomatoes that have formed and are getting bigger too by the day as well as one nice little pepper that has emerged from the blossom stage for me too now!

And the rest of my garden -lettuce, green onions, carrots, beets, bush beans, summer squash, broccoli and more tomato and pepper plants as well -are all growing quite tall for me!

Isn't summer just grand though?

And aren't Mandy and I just the luckiest people ever that the car waited until we had pulled into to the Sheetz store before erupting and spewing water and antifreeze all over the place and NOT doing that to us while we were still down in Pittsburgh@???

Yep! Sure looks to me like it was a darned lucky day.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ear Plugs, Please!


The next person who gets either -or both -of these kids a toy that makes noise had better been gathering up some life insurance quotes cause if I have my way, their family then is gonna need a good payout from their life insurance policy!

Case in point here.

Yesterday, Mandy took Kurtis for his dental appointment -which went quite well, by the way and thank you for asking. He tolerated the exam in good form, had a good report too on how his teeth were and such so, for all of that good stuff, Mandy found him a new toy.

Some kind of book thing pertaining to the characters in the movie "Cars" -which would be fine except for the fact on the front cover it has a steering wheel and right in the center of that steering wheel is -of all things -a horn!

It would be nice -oh, so very nice -if Kurtis were to take a liking to opening the book and looking at the pictures in it but no, he has to push that darn button for the horn. OVER. AND. OVER. AGAIN!

Please say a prayer that his meds will kick in really quickly now and he'll drift off to sleep soon.

With my luck though, he'll fall asleep with his finger on the button, depressing it constantly until it sticks and then, won't shut off the incessant beating I suppose.

Damn Murphy and his stinky laws too!

Time to Plan for Winter!

This past winter, when I started walking with Sammy, there were a lot of days that I wanted to walk with him but the weather was just really prohibitive. There were also some really cold, snowy and blowy days that I did still venture out with him too, but you can bet your bottom dollar I made those walks not all that often and they tended to be barely a mile, round-trip too.

And now, even in the summer months, when it gets rainy and cold from time to time, I dread encountering days like that because it really knocks my walking exercise back a good bit.

So, I've been thinking about something -just kind of investigating it somewhat at the moment -to see if I can get something that would replace the outdoor walks and still give perhaps the same benefit to me.

I've been thinking about investigating treadmills!

I haven't priced any as yet -just thinking first where the heck would I put one if I were to get one as space in this place is a bit limited! Too doggone many toys scattered all about for openers and then, where could I store it when I'm not using it too is another issue I have to think about before actually looking into the possibility of getting one.

Anyone here have one and if so, how much do you use it and does it give the kind of results too I've been getting from the walks outdoors with Sammy?

I know it won't give me the same results -won't be near as much fun, no interesting sights to be seen that I can take pictures of then either.

But I do think I will have to look into something to use as a compensation type thing for those days when I can't get outside and walk or days when I just don't want to do that because of other problems -like being stuck inside with the kids as I don't relish trying to walk the dog and keep tabs on a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old all at the same time!

And I really don't want to lose the benefits I've seen since I started this walking program either.

Ah, decisions, decisions, ya know.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Good, Clumsy and Sad!

Yesterday was quite the day for me with things happening that kind of fit all three of those words above.

First up -the good.

I was invited to a birthday party for a lady who was my neighbor for many, many years -from the time I was born until oh, about five years or so ago. She was one of the women on our street who served, in a manner of speaking, as another mother to me -in the manner that Hilary Clinton wrote about in her book, "It Takes a Village." She, like all the other women along this street, raised not just their own children, but looked out for the neighbor children, even to disciplining them at times if they saw any of us doing something really bad or wrong.

But about 4-5 years ago, she decided that the house she had was just way too big for her to maintain, to even need for one person and the amount of yard work involved had started to become overwhelming to a woman in her early eighties and so she sold the house and moved into a senior citizen complex over in Clearfield.

Yesterday though, her daughter-in-law organized a little surprise for her in the form of a small birthday party to honor her on the occasion of her 87th birthday. As such, two of my neighbors and I -along with several other women from our church, were invited to a little get-together for her -very low-key, very nice though.

Initially, I thought Mandy had to work the afternoon shift yesterday so when I had told Mary Kaye -the organizer -that I would be attending I had also said I might have to bring both the grandkids with me and make it a quick visit then to the party cause with the grandkids, ya know, things may not always work out as peacefully as one would like. However, the way things worked, Mandy didn't have to go to work until 6 p.m. so I could go to the party alone if I wished. But I had mentioned this event to Maya earlier that she (and Kurtis) might be going with me and she was rather looking forward to it, so I ended up taking her while Kurtis remained at home with Mandy.

This was something that could have been an instant recipe for disaster if Maya had decided not to be on her best behavior but I'm happy to say that she did very well there -considering the only other person attending who was under 65 years of age -besides Maya -would have been our minister, Pastor Carrie!

She was polite, relatively quiet, not jabbering constantly or annoyingly to me or anyone else there and she was also quite attentive to being careful around Mary Kaye's beautifully decorated home too! I told Mandy when we got home that she'd been as angelic as any six-year-old could possibly come close to being!
Here's a picture of the guest of honor -Ruth -seated in front of the door -and around the table (l-t-r) are former neighbor, Kate, then Ruth's niece, Marlene, to her right and another former neighbor, Shirley. Actually, these four women and myself lived by or very near to Ruth most of our lives.
And here's Maya -all dressed up and being her very best little self -sitting beside an antique mama/papa doll that hostess Mary Kaye had allowed her to play with.

Can you tell how proud I was -still am -of how well she comported herself yesterday?

When we got home though, things sort of went a bit down hill though but not from anything Maya did or said but rather because I apparently had bit off a bit of a "clumsy" pill and it seemed for a while anything I came near or touched was doomed to cause me a problem.

First, there was the kitchen sink and the spigot there. The faucet is one that is rather high and if you aren't careful when you turn the water on and if there is something in the sink, the way the water may hit an item in the sink can really turn nasty on you in a heartbeat! I went to turn the spigot on, not paying any attention to a ladle laying in the sink and when the water hit that ladle, the velocity then caused the water to begin to spray out, all over the darned counter and the floor! By the time I managed to get over to the handle and turn it off, it almost looked like I'd been trying to flood the kitchen. This, obviously, wasn't one of my finer moves of the day as I then had to mop up all this water from the kitchen floor before doing anything else then -like cook supper!

As I started to cook, I began to take dishes out of the drainer and put them away and in the process of doing that, I picked up a coffee mug that my son had bought for me when he was 12 years old and had spent three weeks that summer visiting in Florida with his Godparents. This mug was a very pretty cup -on the thin side and not like the regular coffee mugs -and had delicate pink flowers on it as well as a little writing about "Mother" and it was something so sentimental in value to me that I could have cried on the spot when I picked it up and felt it slipping from my grasp and it went crashing down then into the sink and shattered. Glass pieces flying and I was beginning to think maybe I almost needed to be wearing safety glasses and other protective clothing ya know!

I got the glass cleaned up from that broken cup and went back to fixing supper and in the process, reaching for my salt shaker, I managed to bump the top of my hand on the corner of the cupboard near the stove and that little bump which to most people probably wouldn't even leave a bruise, with my skin on my hands seeming to be almost paper thin nowadays, I ended up with a little three-corner type nick cut in the top of my hand. Not something drastic as injuries go, but one that does tend to bleed -a lot -so then I had to stop what I was doing, get the darned cut cleaned off and go find a big bandaid to put over the top of my hand to keep from getting blood all over my clothes and anything else in my way!

Thanks goodness the party was the first thing on my agenda yesterday and it went very well cause if I'd had the other things happen to me first, I'd really would have been a total nervous wreck the rest of the day!

Hope I forget where the heck those darned clumsy pills are hidden!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Big Plans! (My Version.)

Late yesterday afternoon, Maya's TSS (that's a wrap-around therapist who comes here and works with Maya - and Kurtis too at times -to help her learn coping skills needed to continue to grow and learn) and I were having a bit of a rough time dealing with Maya. She was upset because frequently, on Fridays, she will go to the home of Mandy's best friend and her family and often spend not just Friday night there, but the entire weekend too.

However, that wasn't in her cards yesterday as she needed to stay here -with me and with Kurtis -mainly because the kids' Dad was coming down to the house and well, he would have been upset had Maya been gone.

Anyway, she was bordering on crossing that threshold from a small tantrum into the full-blown meltdown mode and we (the TSS and I) were having to do some quick thinking and improvising to find ways to re-direct her and thus, avoid that stinking meltdown thing.

Finally, I lied to her and told her the reason she couldn't go there last night was because Jenn-Jenn and her husband had to take their younger daughter to Hershey yesterday, to see her doctors there and have a check-up, and thus, they wouldn't be back home until way, way late last night -like well after midnight, so Maya HAD to stay home yesterday.

And she bought that story! Thankfully.

But the deal was that today, both Maya and Kurtis would get to go to Jenn-Jenn's house and spend the whole day there with her and her family while Mommie has to work today.

And that left me with a whole lot of time today that I could do whatever I pleased, maybe even go wherever I might want to go too.

So, I decided with this extra bonus of free time that I am going to make a little bit of a trip over to Dubois because they have a Joanne Fabrics store there and I need to pick up a bunch more embroidery floss so I can begin my next project just as soon as I finish the one I've been working on and which is coming near to being completed now.

This trip for me is about like the equivalent to having just handed me Universal Orlando tickets!

I know you are now convinced I am totally crazy to feel this ecstatic about going shopping at a fabric store but it's true. Really and truly, it is!


Well because you do realize by now -I would hope -that I am addicted to the embroidery hobby I've gotten myself into over the past almost two years now. Oh. Yes. I. Am. Totally addicted!

My daughters sometimes might say I am obsessed with this hobby and perhaps that is true too.

But anyway, it's a rare thing indeed for me to be able to just pick up and go over the mountain to either Dubois or State College -the closest places to me that have a Joanne Fabrics store and thus, have a selection of embroidery floss for sale then too.

Usually, for me to get to go shopping, it is with Mandy AND with the kids in tow as well.

Anyone ever try to go shopping in a fabric store with a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old -both who have autism, for openers? It ain't a pretty sight, let me just tell you that! All too often they become upset -and or bored -or both and it becomes a super highway to Meltdown Mall of the mega variety too!

I like to be able to take my time when I go to this store, when I am shopping for things I need for my embroidery habit.

Yes, I will have a list with me today of the colors of floss I HAVE to get but I can -without the kids present -look at all kinds of other things in that store that also interest me.

To try to go shopping during the week at either of these locations also means a lot of extra other planning too -like making sure that some one will be here at the house when the kids are brought home from their day at the schools each of them attends. And if it's a day when Mandy has work, that means my time shopping then is going to be very limited. I'd have to leave here by 11:45 a.m. and it is at least a 45 minute drive to either place and I'd have to be back home by 3 p.m. to meet the first bus dropping Maya off, so there's that pesky 45 minute -at least -return drive home which then leaves me roughly about an hour and a half of time to do any shopping whatsoever!

And, if I'm going to drive 40 miles to do some shopping in my favorite store, then I don't want my gas being wasted with just the one-stop shopping then either. I want to be able to check out a couple other stores while I'm out too ya know!

So that's why yes indeed, this little trip today is the equivalent for me of being handed a nifty little bonus package -almost like a bit of a vacation -you see!

And when I get back home from this escapade, I'll be one happy camper, refreshed from my outing and yes, also relieved then to be back home, a bit poorer in the pocketbook yes, but excited and happy all the same!

See you later!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Shaping Up?

Yesterday, because I was really busy almost all day in the kitchen -cooking supper for older daughter and the older grandson -I was lax in walking Sammy thus, lax then too in getting some good exercise in for myself as well.

I sort of made up for that today as Sammy and I went for a long walk -like about a hour's worth -but which only amounted to about a mile and a half distance because I was somewhat engrossed in taking more pictures along the way of changes in the trees, the woods, the ground cover, etc.

One thing I noticed more and more on each walk though is the preponderance of blackberry bushes and blossoms on them this year. Incredible the amount that seems to be out there. Of course, I really don't know if this is a larger than usual crop of blackberries that might be coming on though as I have nothing to compare this to since I haven't done any serious walking around the roads into the woods in this area for many, many years. But I sure am hoping that things work out that way.

Just look for example at these blackberry plants and all the blossoms on them.

All these blackberry bushes and blossoms are growing directly across the street from my house at the corner of my neighbor's lot. They are intermingled with the trees there, growing up behind the telephone pole and in the last photo above, you can see the branches loaded with the blossoms are above the telephone lines there and are even falling over the telephone lines too.

Now, I see those blossoms and my mind starts to roam and in my mind's eye I'm envisioning some really good things too. Things like oh, some freshly baked blackberry pie or cobblers or maybe even -if I get really ambitious later this summer -some home made blackberry jam!

Mmmmm. Sure does sound good doesn't it?

The only problem here being the fact that although I have lost a few pounds, I have a "far piece" yet to go and not only that, but you see, years of not being the most mobile person around have left me with other things too -like rolls of flab and fat.

Right now, that means the walking -while good -is going to need a bit more to get rid of the rolls that look almost the size of some industrial handles -if you can envision what I mean by that!

Let's face facts folks -the epitome of "love handles" ain't what I got!

Guess I'm gonna have to give some serious thought to some kind of other exercise program of some sort that will help tone up the body just a tad.

Then again, maybe when I have the lovely surgery I have to have sometime in the near future, perhaps I can talk the surgeon -or one of 'em anyway -into just taking a nip and a tuck here and there and snip, snip, snip it -or at least some of it -all away.

Yeah -and I know the old adage too about wishing in one hand and doing something else in the other so I suppose that above thought will be just a thought, just some wishful thinking.

But then again ya know, it could happen!

Picture This!

Okay -now I want you to close your eyes and open your mind to picture something.

Picture this nice table -for dining purposes. It has a nice light oak finish around the framing and the legs and the top of the table is white squares -tiles -ceramic tiles. Pretty vision, isn't it?

Now, think of those tiles as being the nice pretty shiny white of oh, let's say a white satin tuxedo vest and think about how bright white that would be.

Then picture taking a piece -a nice good sized piece -of dark (really dark) chocolate cake, with some white cream cheese icing on it -and take that cake and crumble it all over the white table -or sprinkle it all over the pretty white vest -and then, smoosh it in using that lovely white cream cheese icing as sort of a gooey glue factor and think about what you have left then in front of you.

And if your mind's eye has done a decent job of imagining this stuff, you'll know then exactly what kind of a mess I had a little while ago on our dining room table after some one, a small child, I'm not sure exactly which one, but I rather suspect it was a four-year-old boy (mainly because the bulk of the big crumbs on the floor were pretty much in line with where he'd been sitting) took his nice yummy piece of chocolate cake and crumbed it up -or the majority of it and smeared it all over everything within reach of him as he sat at the table.

He even managed to fling a piece of the cake that clipped Maya's forehead and the crumbs and icing then attached to her bangs too.

Yep, just picture all this and then imagine what kind of mood that mess put me in.

Well, on second thought -depending on how sensitive your system might be to some pretty bad cuss words, maybe you better not picture my reaction to all this.

It's cleaned up now and I'm using this as a means to keep calming myself down so that I don't do anything really rash to this certain little boy here -who believe it or not, I still do love dearly anyway!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

'Splain This, Lucy!"

How many of you have ever watched the old Lucille Ball show on tv reruns or whatever and if so, you know how Ricky (played by her husband in real life, Desi Arnez) would often -or more than likely usually -be upset with something or other Lucy had done and in his Cuban accent, would ask her to 'Splain" this or that -meaning for her to explain her actions.

Well, I have a question tonight that I'd like to see if anyone can possibly give me a real answer to this -an answer that makes sense, that is.

We see so much these days on the news about so many people who for whatever reason got into financial difficulties and as a result, have lost or are in the process of losing their homes. And this is not about what caused people's finances to "go south" but rather a consequence that occurs if you lose your home.

Did you know that if you lose your home, if the bank forecloses on you and you have to leave the abode behind, that the government, in its infinite wisdom -namely the IRS -comes in then and somehow or other, they make some calculations and not only do you end up homeless, but also, you end up owing the IRS on the money that they say you "saved" -or which is deemed as income then, by the foreclosure?

I suppose this isn't an accurate description of what takes place in these circumstances, but this is my interpretation of the whole process anyway.

The only way I can explain this is by an example -taken from circumstances I witnessed with my daughter and son-in-law.

The SIL was married before and he and that wife had bought a home together. When they split, with the divorce and such, neither wanted the house -for whatever reason, that I'm not sure, but they defaulted on the mortgage. And of course, you know, when you do that, the finance company is gonna come after you sooner or later, which they did and at that time, the SIL and his ex-wife signed the place back over to whatever financial institution had covered their mortgage initially.

Now, my ex-husband and I did pretty much the same thing too -back in the 80s with the house we had built and which we still owed on too -we signed it back to the finance company and they took over the property, sold it -for less than what we had owed on the place then too -but it left my ex-husband free and clear then to purchase another home in another state with his second wife and I didn't want the house because my Mom had died and I had her home -which really is MY HOME, ya know - and the kids and I had moved into her house, my grandparents home, MY HOME!

And for us, that was the end of the whole problem then.

However, somehow or other, the amount of money still owed on the SIL and his ex's house was divided between the two of them, and some other mathematical transactions applied to this figure and they both ended up then that the finance company said they both still owed money -around $6,000 each or so I think it was.

Well, the SIL had no means at all to get a loan to repay that figure but somehow then, the full amount of the money that had been owed initially was turned over to the IRS and he then -along with my daughter (because they had been filing joint tax returns, ya know) ended up with a bill from the IRS for over $6,000!

Why? Well, because somehow the IRS considers this money they owned as being income!

Now, I ask you -or anyone who knows and understand and can explain this financial jibberish and the legalese, how when you lose a property completely, have no equity in it at all, can this then be calculated as being "income?"

If you have a car and miss the payments and it is repossessed, are you then, if the bank then has the vehicle and sells it to someone else, have to continue paying for a vehicle you don't have and is that money that you aren't paying on that loan then considered to be income too?

Just wondering, ya know.

But where does stuff like this end anyway?

I'm thinking now of all these people who are filing bankruptcy or being foreclosed on and losing their homes, if they are then later going to get a nice not-so-friendly letter then down the road from the IRS telling them not only did you lose your lovely home but now, you owe us money on the deal that you already lost your shirt on!

Somehow the whole process just smells like something rotten in Denmark, as that old saying goes.

I really do wish someone would explain the logic of how a loss factor like that can become income.

Can you "Splain" that to me?

What I Really Should Do!

I know I have had -and still have too -some bad habits that I should work on getting rid of them but somehow, I've just not got around to doing that as yet.

Oh, I've listened at least partially to my doctor about trying to watch my diet -at the very least -and getting a bit more physically active too, exercising and trying to lose weight.

I haven't been all that good about watching what types of foods I eat but I have been trying to at least cut back on the amounts I ingest and that, along with -especially along with this -walking the dog, usually every day for anywhere from a little over a mile to as far as almost five miles on a few occasions -and through those meager efforts I have now dropped 20 pounds in almost six months time.

Not a huge amount of weight lost, but hey, it's been better than doing nothing and feeling really miserable about my size and girth, etc., isn't it?

But one thing I really should pay more attention to and do something about is my smoking.

I know if I keep on with this bad habit it's just going to be a matter of time before I'm gonna need -at the very least -a portable oxygen concentrator and really, I have had over the past seven years, more than enough health issues, with more surgery now looming on the horizon for me too and I really do not want things to get this far out-of-hand or advanced with respect to health issues.

I have two relatives that I can think of right now who have to have oxygen running 24/7 and although it does beat the alternative there by having that kind of equipment, it still is a major inconvenience to enjoying life to the fullest, isn't it?

People who know me know that I tend to make wise cracks about my smoking and why I continue with this unhealthy habit. I used to tell people just make sure I have a carton of my favorite brand of nicotine in the casket with me so I have some to take along on that journey.

Back in the early 90s too, our former postmaster here in town got on my case one day when I went in to pick up my mail, bragging to me about how he had successfully kicked the habit and why didn't I try to do the same.

My retort then to him was that I knew "We're all going to die someday and since I'd already long ago figured out I wasn't going to die of an overdose of sex, that it may as well be from something I enjoy!" And yes, I did mean what I said to him back then. I kind of still do too.

But today, my priorities are different from what they were back then. I have something in my life now that means the world to me and you know, I'd like to be around as long as I possibly can now just for the sheer pleasure of watching them grow up.

Of course, those of you who follow my blog know I'm referring to my grandchildren -all three of them -but especially the two younger ones, Maya and Kurtis, who live with me.

No, this post isn't an announcement that tonight I am quitting or anything quite that drastic just yet, but suffice it to say, I am looking -again -into alternatives, methods I can try that might just be a means to a successful ending of this bad habit.

And if I can do that, then I guess all that will be left is for me to quit cussing then too!

Give up one vice, may as well at least work on getting rid of the other too! Then no one can say when Maya -or now Kurtis -slips up and uses what we refer to as a "red word" that they had to have learned that from me!

Better Safe than Sorry!

Did I ever tell you about my ex-husband and his home?

My daughter here flew out to Phoenix back in March to have a visit with her dad -her second trip there in the past 11 years now -and while there, she stayed in a fifth wheel camper he has adjacent to his home.

His home? Well, his home just happens to be an RV! A regular motor home, ya know.

The kids and I sometimes joke about his "home" and that he has his washer and dryer outside the front door of the motor home. I can't say this with certainty cause I've never been there myself, but my son and his girlfriend as well as Mandy have all been there and that's what they say he has anyway.

Back around 2000 or 2001 -can't remember which year it was now -he and his wife drove out here in that motor home for a cross-country trip and visit here, on the east coast with the kids.
He's lucky in that he is a mechanic by trade so if anything mechanically had gone wrong on their trip, odds are he probably could have fixed it himself -if the need would have been there.

Now, you know -if I had a motor home though and decided to try to do a trip like that, the first darned thing I'd be getting before heading out though would be to make sure I had some kind of coverage that included motorhome towing, don't 'cha?

Cause with my luck -which is heavily oriented around Murphy and his old stupid law -you know I'd be the one who would have the thing break down on me, probably out in the middle of no where too, I suppose.

I wonder if the worry about something like that happening to him while traveling maybe was the reason why he bought that fifth wheel camper so he can go travel and leave the motor home parked where it is.

Well, for sure, if he does that, he doesn't have to worry about leaving the washer and dryer sitting out in the desert all by their lonesome then, does he?

A Lovely Picnic

The other night -Tuesday, to be precise -our church women's group (WELCA -Women of the Lutheran Church of America) had a picnic supper for our regular June meeting.

We held it at the home of one of our members and invited the women of another group from a church about 15 miles from ours to attend so we would have an opportunity to get better acquainted with each other's group.

And I wish I had taken some pictures of the deck on the house belonging to the lady from our group to show you. (What hurts is that I had my camera with me, in my purse, but the conversation -and meal -was so nice, flowed so well, that I forgot all about having the darned camera with me! How dumb was that anyway!)

Anyway, this lady's home is an old, two story house -kind of on the lines of a big old farmhouse -and she had a deck built on to her front porch a few years back that connects to her front porch -which is quite large -and then, it goes along one whole side of the house and extends almost the whole way across the back of the house too.

She has all kinds of very pretty outdoor furniture on this huge wrap-around porch/deck -from rattan to a hanging swing, to a swing with a canopy, various other chairs and a fantastic large picnic table she had specially made by a local contractor of an extremely hard, very durable plastic that the manufacturer told her would withstand any type of elements the weather in these parts might deliver to us!

And while the furnishings were very pretty, quite pleasant and comfortable -very homey, actually -and the food we had was fantastic too -the best part of visiting at her home was the view from the back portion of her deck.

It overlooks her very large backyard which has a large pond about in the middle of the yard and also, from her deck, you can see woods and the lane that goes up a slight hill behind the pond and leads to the home of one of her nephews as well as being able to see the big old neighboring farm house that her second daughter purchased a few years ago and has done major renovations to that property too.

All of this -the deck, the furnishing, the food, the company we had joining us and this spectacular view -made for a really fantastic get-together for all of us.

(Sometime in the future, I'll have to remember to get some pictures at least of the backyard and that pond there to prove to you how lovely a setting we were privy to that evening.)

I think everyone there at this event left with the same sentiments as I had too -and we're all wondering if we can convince her to have our monthly meetings at her house, on that deck -at least over the summer.