Sunday, October 31, 2010

Exposed! Memory Loss.

If you remember, on Friday, I wrote about what Halloween was like when I was a youngster and also, a bit about my kids and their Halloweens too in comparison to what lies ahead now for the grandchildren.

That post, I had taken and put it on my Facebook too and boy, did I get a surprise from having done that.

Two old friends -a bit younger than me though -had commented on the post on Facebook, asking me if I remembered an event that took place back in my elementary school days when the students at the old Grassflat Elementary school -grades 1 thru 6 -participated in a Halloween parade around the village. And what's more, that we were led by the town's fire truck, blowing the siren to lead us on our way around such a big town as this is. (That's a joke as I don't think the village has had more than 900 residents as long as I've been around here -and that's now well over 60 plus years.)

However, I was really taken aback by the questions posed to me by sisters, Linda Raymond Askey and Diana Raymond Clark and especially so when they remembered, quite vividly, as a matter of fact, what their older sister, Bridget Raymond Askey had worn for her costume that year and in the parade!

I called my neighbor, and long-time friend, Kate Nelson Eyerly to ask her if she had any memory of this event and if so, maybe we could figure out what year this parade took place too. Unfortunately, it seems Kate's memory failed her there to as she had no recollection of us doing that.

So, I then called Bridget -the sister mentioned in the comments on Facebook for her costume that was supposed to have been of an African pygmy, with big long earrings made of cardboard. Or so sayth her sisters anyway.

When I spoke to her and explained what I was calling about, and told her I have no memory of this whatsoever, she howled laughing.

The reason this was so comical to her you see, is I sort of have a reputation amongst my classmates of being able to remember things -all kinds of things, mainly trivia type stuff -but going clear back to our time in First grade and coming forward over the next 12 years.

Well that well-known long-term memory just got exposed now, didn't it?

I think Bridget probably loved that fact that there was something that happened to us as kids that she remembered, quite well, and I didn't!

And I'm now really disappointed in myself that I don't recall something as auspicious as a parade, led by the fire truck, around the whole doggone town.

Actually though, I don't think I can blame this memory loss on the "Chemo Brain Drain" thing -as fellow blogger Janine at Sniffles and Smiles likes to refer to how confused those of us getting chemo do tend to get and quite often too.

Cause I know I had no memory at all of this even before the chemo treatments started!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cold and Feeling Kind of Punk.

So, in my last post, I told you bits and pieces about how Halloween was when I was a child and for my children too. Got ready and went to the school then for the "Halloween Parade" there.

Boy, what a mess!

It was cold this a.m. -very gray skies and as I began driving to the school, there were some sprinkles of rain entering the scene too.

Finding a place to park -as usual at our school -is quite an experience. I finally pulled off next to another car parked on the grass in front of the elementary playground. Walked to the elementary school and got pretty well soaked in the process as the sprinkles had turned into a rather cold, kind of steady rain then. And of course, I hadn't worn my winter hooded coat so my turban (and my head) got wet as did my fleece jacket which made me feel cold clear to the bone!

Went to the entrance of the elementary building -which of course is locked -and pressed the admittance button. Then, nothing happened but I saw this other door beside that and it opened and in I went. There was a young woman there who I asked about where we were to go for the kids' parade and she informed me we had to go back outside -brrrr -just exactly what I didn't want to do -and walk -in the rain, of course -clear down to the main high school entrance.

By the time I finally got inside, I felt like I was near to being frostbitten! If I'm freezing now at cold rain and temps in the high 30s or low 40s, I'm thinking we need to find a quick buyer for the house and high-tail it out of town on the first big rig going south and west! LOL

Got in the auditorium, which of course was packed but managed to find a seat beside two friends from church Elsa and her daughter, Denise.

Watched the kids come through -starting with the kindergarden kids and on through the 6th grade. I'd have loved to have gotten some decent photos of the kids but from where I was seated -way in the back -even if I used the close-up feature on the camera, it doesn't have enough power to it to pull in a good shot with lighting decent enough then to actually make out who any of the kids were in these classroom groups.

After the kids came out on the stage and stood there -and a few kids here and there waved to the audience -when they exited the stage they were supposed to come down along the side aisle, go across the back of the auditorium and then down the other side aisle and exit then to the right to go back to their rooms.

As Maya's class began to move off and I tried to snap a picture of her, the movement combined with the lousy lighting all worked together to give me a very dark picture of nothing I recognized!

And then, to add insult to injury, her teacher didn't lead the kids down the aisle past where I was seated -for some unknown reason -so I didn't even have a chance to get a shot of her then as she should have strolled by us. Drats!

But fortunately a friend of Mandy's apparently had much closer access to the kids and she got this picture of Miss Maya in her cheerleader's outfit -complete with her black pompoms!

After the parade, I came home, found a quilt to curl up under in my recliner and shivered for at least the next two hours, trying to get some warmth to my cold old bones! (And this was after coming out of the school to a bright and sunny scene too! However sunny it may have been, there sure was no warmth from that orange ball in the sky for me today though!)

Spent the bulk of the day under that nice warm quilt and napped off and on then too and now, it's after midnight and I'm still a bit chilled tonight yet!

Yeah -I can see the handwriting on the wall for sure.

It's gonna be a really long, hard and cold, cold, cold winter ahead!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh, The Excitement!

This weekend marks what is probably one of the most exciting events in every small child's life. Probably only Christmas can bring more thrills (and scares too) than Halloween.

Maya is very excited over the prospect of going "Trick or Treating" on Sunday evening and Kurtis -well, he talks a really good game about "T&T" but I wonder, when the time rolls around, how he will do with it this year.

He's still terrified of a certain mask that Mandy and I bought two years ago -for Uncle Clayton to play around with and spook his friends, ya know (cause that's just the way my favorite son rolls!) Maya knows Kurt is extremely afraid of this mask and she knows too that it is stashed back on the top shelf -out of sight -of a cabinet in my room but she has Kurtis believing that the mask is the "Boogie Man" and that he lives in Gram's room. So, as a result, he will not go into my room. Matter of fact, he won't even walk past it if the door is even the least little bit ajar there.

Hmmm. That issue might actually have some good features to it if Kurt were like Maya was about going into my room and getting into all kinds of things and then, making a general mess with the stuff she would find there. But I think with her, she was always just too darned nosy and put those little fears -if indeed she had any -behind her as the thrill of sneaking in there, getting into perfumes or makeup was probably much, much stronger in her than it is in him.

For the past month or better now, every night when Kurt would say his prayers and go through his litany of "God blesses" it was almost a given that every night, he would also add in there to God Bless the skeleton. But then, the other day, for whatever reason -who knows what inspires him at times -he decided Skeleton was scary, downright terrifying and spent the better part of an hour crying and wailing about not wanting to see Skeleton! Go figure, huh?

Thinking about Halloween this morning though, I was trying to remember way, way back in time to the first time I ever went Trick or Treating and I find I have no memory about that first event in my life. I remember when I was in fifth grade though that my costume that year was Peter Pan and that my Mom sewed a special outfit for me, including a special hat that went with the green pants and top she stitched together for that occasion.

I remember too that year the student in our room who won the prize for the best costume was Bob Humenay - who went on to become a priest. He came dressed as a robot and it was a costume he designed himself too -very original it was and he definitely did deserve a prize for it.

Back in those days, when you went trick or treating, you went to the homes of people you knew and as you entered those houses, the residents were then to guess who each person was. Today, kids just go door-to-door, begging for candy to be dropped in their bag and there is no guessing who is who because they come from adjacent towns and hit every house on the block, whether they know the people who live there and rarely does anyone take the time to figure out who is who too these days.

When my kids were in the trick or treat phase, the only houses they went to that were out of our town, were to the homes of good friends and up to Morrisdale to my Aunt's home so she could see the kids in their costumes.

I remember especially the first year that Carrie participated in trick or treating.

It was 1972 and we had just moved back to Pennsylvania from Maryland. We were living in Philipsburg and didn't know any of our neighbors there at all, so I made arrangements with my friend Kate -who lives two doors down from this house -which was then occupied by my Mom -to bring Carrie down here and she and I would walk Carrie and Karen (her daughter who is a month to the day older than Carrie) around the street here. All went quite well as people back then still would try to guess who the children were behind the mask and costume till we got to a house about 6 doors up the street from Mom's house. The couple who lived there invited Karen and Carrie inside so they could guess who they were and Kate and I hid off to the side where we could still see and hear what took place but so we wouldn't give away the identity of the kids.

Well Dorothy -the lady who lived in this house -got the girls inside and stood back a bit, momentarily, then asked "Well, who do we have here?" And all the coaching Kate and I had tried to give the girls went right out the window as Carrie spoke up saying "Well, I'm Carrie and this is Karen!"

At the grand old age of five, she didn't grasp the guessing game part of this event but Karen did and boy, was she fit to be tied at Carrie for having given their identity away. Kate and I had a big laugh over that as did Dorothy and her husband, Speed but I don't think Karen talked to Carrie again that night for spilling the beans!

I remember too one year when I made several costumes for the kids, as well as one for myself and for another girl at the truckstop where I worked then. The other waitress got fabric and I made a costume for her so she could be dressed as a big grey mouse and mine was supposed to be the "Bird of Paradise" -replete with a big old rainbow "feather" tail and a blue head covering that had a big old orange beak on it and that beak bobbed up and down everytime I would walk around the dining room, waiting on customers that night.

That year, I made costumes for Clate and Mandy. Clate's was a cute outfit that was ultra simple to make -grey fabric like a sack that you pulled over his head and eye-holes and a mouth hole cut out with a big tube of fabric sewn together and stuffed that then served as an elephant's trunk. It was great for hiding the identity, for sure.

Mandy's costume though was to be a bunch of grapes from the Fruit of the Loom commercial and my intent in sewing these outfits was to save money on putting a costume together for the kids by sewing these things. However, the materials needed for the bunch of grapes ended up being probably the most expensive halloween costume ever for anyone in this family! Not only did I have to purchase the special fabric in several different shades of purples, lilac and lavender, but I also had to buy the fiberfill stuff and stitch all those grapes -in various sizes -together and stuff each one then with the fiberfill before attaching it all together on the headpiece! It was cute yes, but the darned thing cost me almost $30 when it was all said and done and my Mom most likely was rolling in her grave at the thought that I had invested so much -gee, a week's worth of groceries at the very least -to make a halloween costume for a child!

I remember too I borrowed the elephant costume that year, slipped it over my head and clothes and wore it to the Halloween Party up at one of the local pubs here in town. Because it covered the face completely, all anyone could tell about my identity was that I was wearing glasses so as long as I didn't open my mouth and speak, no one could figure out who it was in the elephant outfit! It just about drove my crazy ex-brother-in-law crazy trying to get me to say something so he could then figure out who that costumed character was! Served him right that he couldn't guess it was me since the night before he had about scared the living daylights out of me -and the kids -by coming to our house and prowling around, looking in the windows and growling all the while wearing this werewolf mask that was ultra-ultra scary and very, very ugly! He loved that I about jumped a foot or so off the floor when I saw him standing at our front door that year!

But anyway, it should be interesting here come Sunday evening to get the kids dressed and ready to go trick or treating. Whether Kurtis will actually venture out of the house or not -that's gonna be the big question.

Stay tuned and who knows, maybe I'll even have "film at 11" Sunday night if I remember to get the camera out and take a video of the kids.

Meanwhile -have a Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For the Want of New Shoes!

One thing I have discovered recently on the few longer walks Sammy and I have been able to take is that I think it's high time I get myself a new pair of shoes!

I think I'd better look for a pair that give a lot of nice soft comfort to my feet, yes but also that will provide a really good support too so that after these walks, not only will my feet not hurt but also, hopefully, a good pair of shoes would keep my leg muscles from cramping up on me too!

Nothing worse than aching feet and legs is there! And especially not when they wake you up from a hard-earned sound sleep in the middle of the night with a big old charley-horse! OUCH and double OUCH on that deal.

I hate to shop for shoes because finding a pair that fits the way I want them to do and are reasonably fashionable (they don't have to be really, really vogue, but decent, ya know) is like searching for a needle in a haystack for me.

And then there's the price too! Gotta keep that in consideration as well and finding anything in my very modest price range is really next to impossible too.

One thing for sure -much as I liked the looks of these mbt shoes -they looked like something that quite possibly would satisfy my walking needs (if not my pocketbook), I doubt I'll be able to get a pair of these anytime soon. Well, unless I win the lottery that is and then, I might even invest in more than one pair of these puppies!

So, looks like I'm going back to the drawing board -again -in search of some soothing, comfortable shoes that I can wear year-round while walking good old Sammy!

Run-Around Sue!

Just wondering if anyone else remembers the song, "Run Around Sue?" It was popular back in my younger years -you know, the ones I usually refer to as the 'dark ages' but just came to my mind tonight as I was thinking of a title for this post.

Not that I am a "run-around" in the way the Sue in the song was but boy, today, I sure felt like I could use this as my alias.

A group of women from our church decided we would get together today at the lovely Hotel Phillips 1921 Restaurant to celebrate our minister's birthday -since she is now officially in her thirties! The nice thing too about this lunch was that Pastor Carrie's mom -who has been visiting here for the past 6-8 weeks I think -was able to be with us today too. She's leaving tomorrow though to return to her home in Wisconsin.

Anyway, we had a very nice lunch, with either 13 or 14 women in attendance. I think it was only 13 but as I tried to go around the table, mentally, to count up how many were there, I wasn't sure if there may have been another lady with us that I might have forgotten. But for the sake of this post, we'll just leave it at 13, if that's okay with you, my readers.

A couple of the women seated near me had never tried the lobster bisque soup that this restaurant serves as a "house soup" and today, they decided to try it. I think in the end, almost everyone present had a cup of this delicious concoction. I had been thinking of just ordering a bowl of the soup but then decided what the heck, and I got the soup and sandwich special -a cup of the bisque with a chicken salad sandwich which was served too with a little cup of bean salad.

The only drawback to my meal today was that, as usual, Murphy and his stinking old law came along and I managed to drop a teensy tiny piece -barely bigger than a minute, ya know -of some kind of green from the bean salad (probably a dab of parsley or cilantro) on my shirt! And where did this gem land? Well, of course, right smack dab in the middle of the front! And of course, the shirt is an ecru shade and this tiny leaf thingy was coated with oil, don't you just know and to make things worse yet, it was the first time I'd even worn this shirt too! ARRGH!

The ladies seated around me and I had been joking before our food arrived about each of us having the propensity -or so it seems -to always manage to drop some tiny tidbit of food and have it land right smack dab in the middle of the chest area!

Wonder if the darned oil stain will come out now when Mandy does the laundry? By golly, I sure do hope so because I really liked this particular shirt and I'd hate to have it ruined by only one wearing, ya know.

After lunch, I decided since I was out and didn't have to rush right back home to get Maya off her bus or Kurtis off his van, that I would run over to Clearfield and take care of some really important business there for my son. Since he's still out in Texas working and will probably be there to the middle or near the end of November, someone has to handle his "affairs" here and since my name is on his checking account, most of that job falls in my lap then.

My son just so happens to have two fines he has to pay on monthly. One is for the DUI he got 18 months back and the other is a recent ticket he got one Saturday night when he and some friends were out and up at the truckstop in Clearfield and when they went to leave, each one of them made a big production out of pulling away from the parking area. That means they each apparently had to burn some rubber and spray up some gravel or some such routine (childish crapola in my book but apparently they regard this as great fun) and of course, as my son was the last in the line to pull out, he was also the one who got nailed by the town cop there and got a fine for his actions!

Sometimes, I do wonder when he will ever learn! When will he ever grow up, ya know? By the looks of things, probably never!

So, knowing these fines needed to get a payment made to each of them, off I went to shell out $75 of his money to keep him from having a warrant put out for his arrest here for non-payment of fines!

I have to make sure to remember to keep him current on these things while he's away and also, to make sure his car insurance is all up-to-date too or else, if he's late paying the insurance, we'll end up looking for car insurance quotes in the near future if his policy lapses.

Boy, as if keeping track of my own stuff weren't enough already by itself, now with his bills and due dates to keep straight too in my head, this is really gonna tax the chemo brain drain to the max I'm afraid!

Just liable to put too much mental stress there on the grey matter in my now bald head and it might explode!

(Oh yes -I am now bald! I had our neighbor do the deed last night when she came over to color Mandy's hair again! Figured what the heck, I may as well take the leap and get this all over and done with. Give me enough time to get accustomed to this sandpaper look and who knows, maybe some day in the distant future I'll even share a photo here of the new vogue look going on in this household!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Social Butterfly

I think I've mentioned this on a few previous occasions that I'm somewhat of a recluse of late.

No, this isn't due just because of the cancer and that stuff but rather, I've just become much more content to stay in my house, cook for my daughter and her children, read now and then, watch tv and well, just embroider -or occasionally play with other craft types too.

I've never been what you'd call a true social butterfly although for a good while in my life, I did like to stop at the local pub and put a few brews back on occasion.

But this area too isn't really that socially inclined either -not towards having fancy parties and sending out holiday invitations to a party here, or another one there, fancy get-ups and such. I suppose there are a few people around here -in the larger little towns maybe -who actually do that, but here where I live, no so much.

And I'm just as happy to have life the way it is here in that respect -nothing to worry about then that way!

Rats! Another Appointment.

A couple of weeks back, I got a phone call from my family doctor -or my PCP (Primary Care Physician) and she asked me to please come in to her office and see her, as there was something she wanted to discuss with me.

So, I made the appointment, went in and learned she had noticed some discrepancies between a test that had been done on me recently and the test results she had for me from July. This involved a cardiograph type test, you know, with the ecg machines and that kind of stuff. Although she said it maybe isn't anything at all to worry about, saying perhaps my stress levels were really up or something that day, she still thought it would be best if I saw the cardiologist over in Clearfield.

Well, it dawned on me that the day I'd had that most recent test was also the day of the first -and infamous failed -chemo treatment, during which I had a horrendous allergic reaction to the chemo and had to be taken from the cancer clinic to the hospital E.R. via ambulance. Shucks, no wonder there were some slight differences in the test results.

Well, I thought that she had decided then to not have me see the cardiologist then, thinking the whole discrepancy thing was due to the stress levels of that particular day but I found out today, I was wrong.

When we got home from our little shopping jaunt, there was a message on my answering machine telling me that I now have an appointment in late November to see the darned cardiologist after all.

Sheesh! That will really have me all stressed out for sure because you can't have caffeine for x-number of hours before any of his examinations and tests and the same applies to nicotine too. We'll have none of that either!

No morning coffee, no morning smoke?

I'm dead meat, folks!

Get Back on Track -Maybe?

Well, tonight -after our fun outing up to Kane, PA to find that little store -when we got back home I had some more fun. I made a big pan of the baked custard, which Mandy and I are the only ones in the house with good taste buds apparently cause we were the only ones who ate any of it. I did get Maya to take an itsy-bitsy little bite and then, when I asked her if she liked it or not, she gave me a very cold look and an even colder answer. Simply said "NO!" And apparently, for her, that was the end of that discussion.

I also baked some of the lovely Swedish Limpa Rye bread now that I finally -after a long, long time of doing without the needed flour -got and I managed to get three loaves of the bread done as well as two small kakas of rye bread. (A kaka is pronounced sort of like "cock-a" and is bread dough rolled out like a pizza pie to about a 2 inch thickness and anywhere from 6 to 10 inches in diameter.)

Monday morning though -before I took my shower to get ready to roll -I did something else. I took a pair of scissors and snip, snip, snipped every last strand of hair on my head I could reach and snip! What little bit of hair I had left was really just straggles of strands but they were pretty much long stragglers too, down the back of my neck. The hair was too thin to pull it up and use anything to hold it up and in place, even under the cover of the lovely different turbans and it was really bugging me. A lot! A whole lot!

So I took the scissors and cut it. Then tonight, Mandy called our neighbor telling her we have panakaka as well as some freshly baked limpa rye and could she trade those commodities to our neighbor in exchange for her coming over here tomorrow night and coloring Mandy's hair. Yeah, they have a plan in motion for that now. I told Mandy to tell Karen to bring her electric cutting equipment -razor or whatever she would need to use and she can then just shave the rest of the puny little hairs left on my head off then and there. I figure I may as well go the route of the buzz cut and get it done with!

So now I'm getting myself back into the baking routine once again. Just in time too so I can make a couple of loaves of bread to take out to our church bazaar a week from this coming Saturday -November 6th!

If anyone reading this is gonna be in the vicinity of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lanse, PA -stop by for a lovely lasagne dinner -complete with salad, rolls, butter and homemade pumpking or apple pie and check out all the goodies the women of our church will have on sale there! Virtually about everything from soup to nuts!

And now that I'm working on getting that aspect of my life back on track, wouldn't you just know it, something else is popping up now that kind of gets me to hold back on taking Sammy for our long, long walks just yet.

And what might that be?

Hunting season!

Hunters will be busy, busy now getting their guns all set, their rifle scopes honed in (or whatever the heck it is they do with those things) and wandering around the woods near here during the day with more than a few of 'em probably having an itchy trigger finger too, I fear.

For me, that will be just enough to keep me from taking Sammy out further from the house on our walks. I'll go down to the end of the paved road from our house, up the street to the 4-way intersection in town, but other than that, till after hunting season, our long walks will pretty much be curtailed except on any Sunday that the weather is decent.

Just see no sense in taking any chances with things like that, ya know!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Kitchen Has Now Re-Opened!

Finally, after a long, long drought, I found a store -about 80 plus miles from where I live -that carries Pillsbury Rye Flour! And right now, as I am writing this post, I have a batch of "genuine" Swedish Limpa Rye sitting on my radiator, wrapped in wax paper, tee towels and a big blanket, so it will raise up nice and pretty, the way it's supposed to do!

It's been at least 2, probably closer to 3 years now, since I've been able to purchase GOOD rye flour! And this is something that really, really has had me very ticked off at not just Pillsbury but Gold Medal, King Arthur and Robin Hood Flour as well. Well, not the flour but the manufacturers of those rye flours at any rate.

I love -love, love, love -Swedish Limpa Rye bread and I just so happen to have a recipe too that is quite simple to make that was passed on to me via a cousin (who included the recipe in the cookbook she put together and gave Mandy for a wedding gift) and that cousin got it from yet another cousin who I figure got the recipe from her mother, who in turn no doubt, got the recipe from her mother and that person then responsible for this great, easy and delicious bread would then have been my great-grandmother! Confused? Don't worry about it. Just take my word for all of that stuff.

Anyway, a few months back, I was grumbling to a good friend from our church -who just happens to be a fantastic cook and excellent baker too -about the state of affairs for those of us who like rye bread with a nice soft texture and a mild, sweet flavor to it -like the Swedish Limpa delivers. Grumping because the only kind of rye flour one can purchase around here -or most anywhere now apparently - is the kind that is very coarsely ground and it just doesn't do the trick for Swedish Limpa Rye Bread.

Turns out, this lady had discovered a little store up in Kane, PA - Jack Bell's Meat and Poultry Shop -and he carries the soft textured rye flour -such as that which one used to be able to purchase and manufactured by all of the major flour makers. I vowed then that I had to make arrangements to get up to Kane -about 80 plus miles from here -and get me some of that good flour so I could make not just one but several batches then of Limpa Rye Bread!

And today was that day!

Kurt doesn't have school on Mondays and today, neither Mandy nor I had any appointments we had to tend to, so I suggested to her maybe we could take a spin up to Kane and see what they have at this store. Mandy often is up for a little "outing" and today -with nothing really hanging over our heads (Except that we had to be back home by 3:30 p.m. to get Maya off the school bus) -away we went!

The store was very easy to find and upon walking into it, I felt a bit transported in time back to the old general stores that used to exist here in this little village when I was a youngster.

The owner greeted us as we entered the place and in less than a minute's time, learned I was there in search of Pillsbury Rye Flour. He then pointed to an area at the bottom of a shelf right by where I was standing and there sat four big plastic bags of none other than Rye Flour!

I was in heaven!

After getting 3 or the 4 bags he had on the shelf, Mandy and I then got busy looking around at many of the other items he had for sale there. Lingonberries -mmmmm, made me hungry then to get some and come home and make a big pan of Panakaka (a very bland flavored baked custard that is excellent with lingonberries -or just about any other kind of berry-type fruit too -drizzled over the top of it. So, a jar of lingonberries went on the counter alongside my flour order. Then Mandy succumbed to his description of a jam they had there -homemade -and consisting of elderberries and peaches, so a jar of that went into the order too then.

After that, we made our way to the rear of the store and to the meat counter. Here again, I felt transported in time to the meat market in Jamestown, NY where my uncle worked for many, many years as the meatcutter there. The white front of the meat display cased and the glass that was slanted back to enable you to get a great view of the variety of meats on sale and I almost expected to have my late uncle step forward in his all white uniform, with his spiffy little white soda-jerk kind of hat and the apron that was blood-stained, yes, but yet, you knew implicitly that it was a clean as it could possibly be considering the kind of work being done there! Yeah, I was having those kinds of visions in my mind, ya know -pure sentimentality at its finest.

At the meat counter, I got a big package of one of my other favorite Swedish foods -potato sausage called "Korv." (Actually, I believe the o in the Korv should have some kind of dots over it to indicate the correct pronunciation but I have no clue how to make those symbols appear in my typing here.) My uncle used to always make the Korv sausage -especially at Christmas time when he would make an even larger than usual batch of the stuff. And I do love the flavor of this meat! Mandy, in the meantime, decided to try a package of Jack's homemade sausage scrapple -a meat delicacy that I guess you pretty much have to be from Pennsylvania originally to have a taste plus an understanding of the many ways you can serve and thus, eat scrapple. I'll not get into the arguments some may put forth about scrapple, what it is, what's in it, how to cook it, how to serve it -with syrup or jelly or ketchup or whatever your own personal preference may be but suffice it to say, Mandy and I both do enjoy a bit of scrapple from time to time!

And now, it's time for me to have my supper which tonight consists of a big pan of baked Swedish custard -i.e. Panakaka -but sadly, it will be eaten without the lingonberries I had in mind because some how or other, in the processing of our order, the owner apparently missed the jar of lingonberries I had put on the counter cause it wasn't packed in with all the other things we came home with.

However, I think I'll survive because Mandy just had a big serving of the custard and she said it was really good with the elderberry-peach preserves she had purchased.

Saved -in more ways than one today. Flour, Korv, rye bread gonna be baked in about an hour or two and now, some good old fashioned Panakaka.

Doesn't get any better than this, folks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Never too Early to Plan Ahead!

I'm gonna switch gears here for a bit and talk about something else that has been on my mind -a lot -of late.

Job security.

Now, I'm retired -have been on social security for seven years now. Initially, I wasn't considered to be retired but rather on Social Security Disability because after my first go-round with cancer 7 years back, I had a few other problems then too and well, it made the prospect of working even part-time pretty much out of the question.

But now -for the past year -I am officially considered to be retired because of my age status.

Back when I was a lot younger and working full-time, plus usually having a part-time job then too, I didn't really give much thought to retirement, much less to the possibility I could become disabled and unable to work. You know how it is when you're in your 20s and 30s, those thoughts rarely enter one's mind.

In my 40s though, I did start to think a bit about how in blazes I would survive alone once I was of retirement age but I still usually brushed those thoughts aside because after all, that was 20 some years down the road and heck, I had time to try to find a better job, one with benefits and all those nice things some people manage to glean from their employment.

But seeing how quickly those years passed me by, now I do worry about my younger daughter, Mandy.

Right now, she works part-time at an establishment about 5 miles from where we live and she averages about 20, sometimes 24 hours a week. While I understand her issues for staying in this job (aside from the fact that she really does enjoy working there -most of the time) but right now, because of the various issues that crop up frequently with her two small children, she needs a job like this with the flexibility it does afford her.

But, at the same time, she also needs to start now in terms of planning for her future -and that future may very well still involve helping her children too because autism is such a tricky disorder that regardless of how well the kids may be doing now, we still don't know how well they will be able to manage on their own as adults.

I'd really like to see her look into the health care jobs field. It's a career field with a whole lot of options, including some jobs that don't require years and years of education and training too.

My older daughter took the course to become a Certified Nurse Assistant a couple of years ago now and this past winter, got hired, full-time, at a nearby hospital as a CNA. She makes a very good wage now, has benefits, including hospitalization (very important for everyone to have THAT benefit, isn't it) plus vacation and other little incidentals too.

And the really nice thing about her working in this field is that she discovered by working for some home health care agencies that offer minimal help to enable people to stay in their homes, that she really likes this kind of work. Truth be told, I think it's probably quite safe to say that she loves it and has found her niche now after a goodly number of years of working and floating from one food service position to another or taking on menial office work that she found boring.

And, Mandy's disposition towards working with people is very much in line with that of her sister's. They both are very empathetic individuals and are always willing to go the extra distance too in trying to help people, so I think Mandy would be well-served down the road if she were to look into what types of classes would be required to enable her to use her talents in this field.

Just start looking at these issues now though -before they hit you full in the face with the need for training, a better job and such some time in the future.

That kind of planning ahead, in my opinion, will never let you down.

An Alternative Meaning Perhaps?

My cousin phoned me tonight and we had a nice, fairly lengthy chat, comparing issues, problems, other things too, most of which though dealt with the chemotherapy she's currently receiving and my own chemo too.

At one point though, she started to talk about how she feels she's becoming a bit more forgetful or more easily rattled since she started receiving the chemo treatments. I laughed and told her about one of my favorite bloggers -Janine at Sniffles and Smiles -(who has walked in the same shoes as my cousin and I are now doing) and it is Janine's theory that chemo causes "brain drain."

Now, before anyone gets all hyper here about what I'm about to say (because I studied about this particular thing for my major in college), I'm thinking perhaps it would be appropriate to label this "chemo brain drain" thing along with the type of cancer a person has and refer to it as a dual diagnosis.

Just my own offbeat sense of humor trying to poke a bit of fun at a situation that often needs to have a whole lot of humor run through it in order to make it tolerable and help folks just to survive.

Well, that's my theory anyway and by gosh, by golly, I think I'll stick with it too. It's carried me this far and I'm counting on it to take me through the rest of the way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Anticipation....Then, Splat!

Do you get cravings for certain foods now and again? I am guessing we all have that happen to us and today was one of those days for me.

The Women of the Morrisdale Methodist Church were having their annual Fall Bazaar today and my cousin Margy's husband, Jack, always makes a big pot of bean soup for this event. Every year when Mandy and the kids and I get up there to the church, the soup is already gone -without fail. But yesterday, Mandy had phoned Margy to make sure Jack was making his famous bean soup for today and Margy said yes, but we'd best be there before 9 a.m. if we wanted to score some of this good stuff.

Well I really had a hankering building then for bean soup. Nothing like a nice big bowl of homemade bean soup -and sprinkle a few chopped onions on top of it too, just for good measure. But, as often happens with us and trying to rise and shine for an early hour -like prior to 9 a.m., it was closer to 10 a.m. by the time we arrived at the bazaar.

But to my surprise, my dear cousin, Margaret Anne, had bottled up a quart jar full of this great soup and had it sitting on the check-out table, just waiting for me to pick it up. Finally, we'd managed to score some homemade soup!

So, after visiting with a few old acquaintances and cousins at this event, Mandy left to go to work and I was then to bring the kids back home with me, along with the other goodies Mandy had bought -plus a surprise present to me from one of the ladies in the kitchen who presented me with a big, fat "halupki" (translated -stuffed cabbage roll). Now I love those things perhaps even more than I love bean soup. Really, I do. They are absolutely awesome.

So anyway, we came home and I had Maya carrying two little styrofoam plates with candies on them while I was bringing in my halupki, my jar of bean soup and also, another quart jar of soup Mandy had purchased -homemade chicken noodle.

This should have been a walk in the park, really, cause this stuff wasn't heavy -not really. But I ran into trouble when we got going down the sidewalk because "Mr. Overly Friendly" dog -AKA Sammy was tied outside to the front stoop and of course, he high-tailed it to the door, so he could beat Maya and Kurtis out in the quest to be the first to get inside the house.

Then, Maya was having difficulty turning the knob on the front door and Sammy was barking and jumping on her, then on the door and being a royal pain in the behind. So I reached over Maya's head to grasp the doorknob and turn it and as I did that, you know don't you, that's when disaster truly struck!

Sam jumped and managed to bump my left arm -which is the arm I had all these goodies nicely cradled -and what happened was a great big old SPLAT!

Yep. My precious commodity, that quart jar full of fresh homemade bean soup, landed squarely on the front door step and of course, smashed then into a kazillion smithereens!

Talk about a revolting development, that sure was one right there.

But, then too, I got to thinking about this that if everytime I had something I really wanted to eat (but probably shouldn't be eating for one reason or another), if I could plan it so Sammy knocks the food out of my hands, I sure will never have to even think about going to a place like hcg Austin for any weight loss or wellness type programs, would I?

So anyway, then I had to get the broom and dustpan and clean up all the broken glass, all mixed in with the beans and the broth and get that mess cleaned up.

Now that little bit of so-called exercise though really made me appreciate -very much -that one lone halupki I'd been gifted with too at the bazaar! And a few of the candies Mandy had bought too sure tasted good for my dessert!

Next year, I'm taking along one of my big cloth, eco-type shopping bags specifically so I can safely carry another quart jar of fresh homemade bean soup into the house and get to enjoy it then too!

Actually, I lucked out further too though because Mandy had also bought a jar of the bean soup but had taken it with her when she went to work so when she called home this evening, I asked if she'd polished it all off. Boy, was I happy to hear her say that she still had some left!

Now I can have some of Jack's Bean Soup for my lunch tomorrow!

Yay, yay, ME!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gram's Poor Little "Sweet Pea!"

Do you have pet names or little nicknames for your kids and/or grandchildren?

My kids -the fully grown ones -had nicknames, sort of, when they were little and some of them still stick with them. Mandy's was always "Shrimp" or "Small-fry" but now that she is taller than me, neither of those apply. Her sister however loves to tease Mandy about being so slim so she often calls her "Lizard-Butt" -because the girl has no behind. (I'm not sure if she's really my daughter after all.)

My son I think has always been referred to -lovingly of course -as "Squirrel" and a few others that are generally left unmentioned. And older daughter -well when she she was around Maya's age, her Dad always used to refer to her as "Petunia Punkin Head" and every now and then, just the Petunia part slips out when talking to or about her.

Maya and my older grandson often get called little pet names too. Maya being "The Princess" and Alex is Gram's Prince. So when Kurtis came along the search began for a pet name for him.

After a lot of trial and error I suppose you could call it, Kurt has now officially become Gram's little "Sweet Pea."

Well, I'm here this evening to tell you that my little Sweet Pea is a tad under the weather this evening. He woke up Thursday morning with a bit of a very raspy cough so we kept him home from his pre-school program but today, no fever, no other complaints from him, we sent him to school.

However towards the end of the afternoon, his teacher contacted Mandy to tell her that he was rapidly losing his voice, was getting fussy and didn't want to eat either. All tell-tale signs of something coming on inside of him.

Mandy called the doctor's office and they said they could/would see him at 3:45 which meant, since Mandy was at work, that I was designated then to go pick him up at school and take him to the pediatrician's office then. That also meant doing some fast scrambling to make sure we had coverage here at the house to get Maya off her bus at 3:30 p.m. -when I would be 13 miles from here, loading her brother into the jeep to go to see the doctor.

Mandy was calling around to get things coordinated when I headed out to pick up Kurtis and as I was going out of town here, I passed a very familiar vehicle and the person driving it waved to me which gave me the impression then that it was someone I knew driving it.

And about 100 yards further down the road, it dawned on me who it was driving that vehicle and why it was so familiar to me then too. It was older daughter, Carrie, bringing her computer tower up for my next-door neighbor's son to work on eradicating a nasty virus the tower had picked up.

Well, I swung my jeep around in record-time then and high-tailed it back to the house where Carrie was just getting out of her car to go inside. I told her to call Mandy and let her know she would be here then to get Maya off her bus so we then had that problem all taken care of.

Next came my stop at Kurt's school and to get him into the jeep and on our way to the doctor's office. We got there at about 3:40 or so -plenty of time to spare there!

The pediatrician came in to check Kurtis and I must say I was amazed at how well AKurtis behaved today. He couldn't have been more angelic in his behavior than if St. Peter had been sitting right beside him!

Not a peep, no crying, no whimpering, no whining! Sure is a far cry from the outbursts that we all used to have to endure with Maya when she was this age range! Boy, did that ever make me happy!

The Dr. checked Kurt over -sore throat, cold, any poor breathing issues and the little guy was soooooo sweet, so well-behaved, I was pretty much in a state of shock over his good behavior.

The doctor tried to make a joke with Kurt -something about his sounding a bit like maybe he had a pony in his throat cause he was "a little hoarse" but of course, the attempt at humor was lost on Kurtis. He's not up to understanding innuendo or stuff like that just yet.

And when the Dr. began to check his heart and lungs, the exaggerated movements and breathing Kurtis did then was just too doggone comical! He really outdid himself in the cooperation dept there as he was taking such long, hard deep breathes the Dr. had to tell him to ease up a bit!

He even offered up a few comments to the doctor too -like "Is gonna be better, huh?" That one was said rather wistfully but the doctor agreed completely with him by telling him "You better believe it there Bub!"

Now if someone had told me 3-4 years ago that some day in the fairly near future, I'd find myself sitting in a doctor's examining room with a four year old who was behaving better some some grownups might do, I'd have been saying then "No way that will ever happen."

And if my Mom had been there to see this behavior, she -like me -would have been completely dumbfounded too because that most certainly was NOT the kind of behavior I exhibited for several years beyond the age of 4 or 5 in a doctor's examing room!

Such a nice pleasant switch from what is often the norm in small kids in doctor's offices, ya know!

And considering my head was throbbing a bit from the darned sinus infection that's been bugging me for the past 3-4 weeks now, I was even happier that Kurt was as well behaved as he was today.

The diagnosis though -just a bit of laryngitis -no fever, no strep throat -and his recommendation for the boy -Chicken noodle soup! (However, we had to forgo that idea because Kurt isn't to much of a soup person and if he does eat soup, it had better be tomato!

But anyway, the little guy is feeling a tad under the weather but at least it really isn't anything serious at any rate!

Confusing, at Best!

How many of you, my readers, are on Social Security? And if you are, do you have Medicare too?
Just wondering as well if you also have a supplemental insurance plan that kicks in and pays a lot of the difference between what Medicare pays and what your actual bills for doctors, hospitals and yes, even prescription stuff too.

I have that -social security, medicare and in addition, I also have other health insurance so the debt -especially now, with the chemo and all kinds of other doctor visits - doesn't get too far ahead of what I will actually be able to pay.

But one thing that really bugs me are these darned Medicare part D plans!

Now my insurance coverage does provide this coverage and for that, I am really very grateful. But boy, I do wish they would make the stuff they send me a lot easier to figure out.

I get these printouts from my insurance provider in which they list all the information ever put out I think, on the drugs I am getting, particularly with the chemo! And when I read those papers -usually about five-six pages in length -I come away from that reading just totally confused.

If you get papers like these, listing all the drugs and their cost, and your cost and some other cost factor in there too, tell me how the heck do you figure out what in blazes they are saying on these papers anyway?

Next on Maya's Wants List!!!

My granddaughter, Miss Maya, as you may recall, just celebrated her 7th birthday. And what a celebration it was too! It was a surprise party that we had managed to keep a complete secret about it until she walked in the door here last Saturday night.

Imagine her surprise when she saw streamers hanging down in the doorway between the dining room and the sunporch area and then, in the dining room, there were even more crepe paper streamers hanging from each corner of the room over to the ceiling light as well.

Needless to say, she was really one very happy and extremely excited little girl.

Her first words at seeing all of this were "This is my best birthday EVER!"

And speaking of great birthdays, she got lots and lots of neat gifts too. That's for sure.

She even received a DVD player! I was a bit shocked by that gift until Mandy informed me that the DVD player that is built into the little TV set I got for the kids two years ago had been broken. Seems little Mr. Kurtis managed somehow to do that!

Well, both the kids do love to lay in their bed and watch their favorite videos as often as they can, that's for sure. And the nice thing about this piece of equipment now too is that we can always disconnect it from their tv and bring it downstairs to hook it up to the tv in the living room so we adults can then enjoy watching some movies too then from time to time. (The DVD player we had here in the living room stopped working a while back, so this will definitely come in handy here, won't it?)

But at the rate things are going here, with Miss Maya getting all these new kinds of "toys" -sort of -and with having the capacity to watch lots and lots of movies in their room, I'm thinking maybe we should even start thinking about getting a popcorn machines and that way, we could have oodles and oodles of popcorn available for their viewing pleasure as well as for Mandy and me too! (Well, actually we could probably make do with only one machine but then again, the way those two kids can put the popcorn away, who knows if one or maybe more would be needed to do the trick!)

That really would work quite well in my book! LOL

Low Funding!

Boy, there's a topic for you, huh? Low Funding! Who doesn't run into issues with not quite having enough money to do what you want or need to do, anyway?

I know I do from time to time, that's for sure. But right now, that's not my base problem, strangely enough. (Since it does tend to plague me from time to time.)

No, right now, this pertains to my poor son -out there in the panhandle of Texas, working away and trying to earn enough money to get himself back on a decent financial track for a change.

But, between trying to balance his fiances a bit for him while he's way out there, and him, trying to figure out how he's gonna manage in a few weeks to allow enough money to make a few necessary purchases of some really heavy, very warm clothing -if things work out the way it looks like they will and if he gets sent up to the cold, northern prairies of North Dakota for his job, there still may not be enough accumulated in his "till" to cover those expenses.

I hope it doesn't come to this but there's a good possibility he may then have to resort to taking out a payday cash advance! I'm not crazy about that idea but it might be the only solution he would have available if push comes to shove, ya know.

It might be either that or run the risk of freezing his butt, fingers, toes, ears off working out in the cold weather that far up north, ya know.

And I'd really hate to see that happen. I kind of like him much better with all his appendages!

The New Me!

If you read my post on Wednesday about the impromptu lunch some of my old high school friends and I had on the occasion of another classmate and her husband having come north for a little vacation and time to visit with old friends, you may have noticed that on those pictures, that I'm wearing a white turban.

Yeah, seems the old chemo kicked in full gear last week and between Tuesday and Saturday, the hair loss was so large that it did necessitate my bringing out the turbans I got at the Cancer Clinic and began to wear them.

But you know, it doesn't bother me. Actually, the turbans feel very nice and comfortable and now, with chillier weather setting it, they give just a nice amount of warmth then to my old ears!

But, one thing I did notice on those pictures that I suppose you may not have noticed -well, I hope not anyway -and maybe I'm just getting a bit paranoid, but I think my skin tone and color doesn't look quite right. I'm thinking perhaps I should invest in some face cream to see if it maybe helps rejuvenate some issues there.

Well, if nothing else, since winter weather is just around the corner now, and if I get back into the swing of things, walking Sammy more, again -then some face cream would definitely help prevent the skin from getting all red, rough and chapped from the cold weather, wouldn't it?

Smooth Sailing -Sort Of

I know I've been telling all you -my lovely readers -about the chemo treatments I'm not getting. I have to have six of these treatments spread out over an 18 week time span.

And generally, when you think of chemotherapy, all kinds of not so nice things probably pop into your mind, I suppose. I know they did for me but so far, I'm actually weathering the storm fairly well.

I've had no nausea from the treatments which is a big bonus but then too, I get a prescription to take the first two days after a treatment that is supposed to prevent nausea and in the event it doesn't work completely, I have another prescription here that I can take for that issue too. And so far, this has been working quite nicely.

Between my first and second treatment though, I have to say I felt terrific -even had what seemed to be an over-abundance of energy on hand. WOW. Now that was an incredible feeling for me.

My appetite was good too however, my doctor was a bit alarmed because I had lost some weight -almost five pounds in between those two treatments. I was quite happy about that because I thought then well, looks like I don't need to be going looking for some weight loss pills that work then, would I?

Well now, since my last treatment, I have a little problem -nothing major, I'm sure -but my sinus has been going absolutely haywire on me. And what's more, it's causing issues that make swallowing difficult and that, in turn, is turning my appetite off a good bit now.

Hopefully, the sinus stuff will clear up soon now that I got some other meds to go to work on that.

Much as I do like the idea of losing a couple pounds here and there, I do understand my doctor's concern and hope this little problem will soon be corrected so the appetite doesn't drop off too much.

Vacation Dream Returns!

Forgive me if I am repeating myself here -I do try not to do that -but I keep having this dream, over and over, about winning a dream vacation in a dreamy beach house!

Why is this, I wonder?

I keep dreaming over and over about spending a lovely, leisurely week in one of the homes that is part of the Outer Banks vacation rentals!

And while there are a whole lot of these beautiful home to choose from, this one, "The Skyhawk" is the one that keeps popping up in my dreams.

Maybe this is an omen that I have won a week long vacation to be taken in this large and lovely house. Do you think that could be what's happening here?

Boy, I sure do wish that is the truth cause then I would know that Mandy and I -and the whole doggone family for that matter -could be able to go to the Outer Banks next May to attend B.J. and Paul's wedding for sure!

Cross your fingers and say a prayer for me that this is what's happening! OKAY?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great Get-together!!!

Well, I checked my reader this morning and had it pretty well cleared out -save 3 that I had to save as unread because I knew the posts probably would be lengthy and very detailed and I didn't want to miss anything by not being ultra careful when I read them and then, I left about 11:45 to go meet up with a bunch of great old friends for lunch. When I came back home I now see I have 36 posts -and climbing almost minute by minute too -waiting to be read!

Hey, slow down folks! I also have embroidery waiting for me to work on sometime too, ya know!

But that isn't what this post is about -the blog, the reader, the embroidery. Nope! This post is about a great little lunch that I was lucky enough to attend -and even helped to get some of the folks out and up to the restaurant too for this mini-reunion. And I'm so happy over the way it all turned out, that I really wanted to share this with all my virtual, blogger friends now too!

This one couple in the group today used to live here, until that is, June of 1980 when the family moved down to the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Florida area and my world has been really quiet, tame and often very, very boring ever since they left!

Ted and Priss Strand you see -the couple who moved their two sons and Ted's mother, Minnie, to Florida were from June of 1973 until June of 1980, my closest friends and both were very good friends of my ex-husband back then too. Oh, the crazy, zany things we four -along with about 3-4 other couples in this area did together way back then when we were young, healthy, nimble but still, not too tightly wrapped either -as that old saying goes. I missed Priss especially as soon as they left as she and I had become very fast, strong friends and trust me when I tell you this, I have missed her not being here every darned day since then too!

Pris graduated from high school in my class, Ted was a year ahead of me and, as I was teasing Ted today as we were breaking up from our lunch, back in our school days, most of us were half afraid to talk to him and one of his buddies in his class (Denny Marcinko) -not because they were bullies or anything like that, but rather because Ted and Denny were both really smart, really, really what would today probably be termed mega nerds, computer geeks I suppose they'd be today too come to think of it. But anyway, back then their interests -a lot being technical stuff, electronics, etc. -was way, way above my head and also, the majority of my classmates too now that I think about that!

When my ex-husband and I first moved back here in 1972, we were renting an apartment in Philipsburg from August, 1972 until March of 1973, when we found an older house for rent in Lanse, the little nearby village to Grassflat (where I live today) and we moved down there. This house was probably about 8 houses from Ted's family home where he, Priss and their sons, Teddy and Michael, lived with Ted's mother, the fabulous Minnie Strand. (Minnie was the same age as my Mom and she was one special lady -quite a corker and a character, for sure!

Ted had e-mailed me almost 2 weeks ago now telling me that he and Priss were taking a bit of a vacation and coming up to Pennsylvania for a week or two and that they would be in touch with me while here so we could get together and visit. Been quite a few years since I'd last seen them -I don't remember the year right now but somewhere in the early-to-mid 2000 years, they'd been here to bring Ted's Mother home for burial in our church cemetery, so the kids and I had somewhat of a chance to see them -as well as their sons too at that time.

So when Priss phoned yesterday she said they wanted to have lunch today at a near-by restaurant -Key Largo -which is also the same place where my girlfriend from my class try to meet every month on the last Thursday of the month -usually anyway. And I jumped at that idea.

Then, I got to thinking about who else I could call and invite to go to lunch with us too and I'm happy to say that we ended up with a rather unusual group of folks -former classmates and even a couple who used to live in Lanse -sort of in between where I lived there and Ted and Priss's home there then too!

So -before Blogger shuts the picture posting mechanism down here today -scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Pacific time -I think I'd best get moving and post these picture now, here, on my blog just to be on the safe side!

In the above picture, from left to right -here's Ted Strand, his lovely wife, Priscilla, Norma Richards Smith and her husband, Art. Ted and Norma both graduated in 1961 from the Cooper Center of West Branch Area High School and Priscilla was in my class in 1962. Two great couples there, for sure!
And here you have all of us present who graduated from West Branch, Cooper Center -two from 1961 and the rest of us, in 1962. Seated -left to right are Claudia McGonigal Yingling, Herb Lucas, me in my lovely turban, and Linda Wertz Payne. Standing behind us are Priscilla Palinkas in front of her husband, Ted Strand, then there's Art Askey and Norma Richards Smith. So neat to be able to enjoy a nice, leisurely lunch with this many of my old friends from back in my younger -much younger -years!

Here's a shot too of Art Smith, Norma Richards (1961) husband -didn't want him to be left out of the photo action series, ya know.

Here's yet another shot of the group -same people, same place -same thing -just 8 good old friend together yet again!

There was a couple seated at another table who recognized Ted and Priss when we came in and so, Priss invited them to come sit and eat with us. I kept thinking they looked somewhat familiar and I suppose Priss figured I knew them so she didn't specifically "introduce" them to me. Well, eventually it did dawn on me who they were -Mr and Mrs. Eli Pulcini who had lived in between Ted and Priss and my ex-husband and I when we lived in Lanse and it just so turned out that they too had moved to Florida probably somewhere around the same time-well maybe the mid-to-late 80s perhaps -but they too had moved to an area in Florida fairly close to where Ted and Priss live. The other "small world" thing about seeing them there today is that Mrs. Pulcini made the special "Two-wheel bicycle cake" for my older daughter, Carrie, on the occasion of her 7th birthday -when her special gift that year was of course, a two-wheel bicycle! Now isn't that just too cool too?

Anyway, it was a good day -a very good day, indeed. The only thing wrong with it -is that tomorrow, Ted and Priss will most likely be leaving to return to Florida. Priss says they are going to try to come up again next year for Ted's 50th class reunion but when I mentioned coming back in 2012 for our 50th class reunion, she said she'd have to think about that.

Well Priscilla, my good friend, you darned well better think long and hard and you really best be present and accounted for at that event celebrating 50 years since we finished high school! Yeah, I'm a big -very big -proponent of the class reunion -for my class as well as for any other class too. (So if you have a major reunion coming up in your future, please, take my advice and attend. Don't let old things hold you back , little petty school squabbles, old relationships and the like. Go and go with an open mind that over time, every last one of us experiences happy time, sad events, sometimes things that are beyond the pale with respect to tragedy and such and those things change each and every one of us into who and what we are today.)

Open your heart and your eyes and see the person you knew back then for who and what he or she is today and allow healing if it is needed then to take over and you may very well be quite surprised at what you will learn about those folks and lots more perhaps about the person you have become and are today.

Oh and one last thing here. As we were leaving the restaurant, classmate Art Askey asked me if I planned on posting these pictures on the internet. Why, what a question! Of course, you bet your bippie I would, Artie baby! And here they are showing all of us in our shining glory!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Someday -when the ship comes in....

I know you -my readers -know me well enough by this point in time to have come to the realization that often, I am a bit of a dreamer. Nothing wrong with that now is there?

Well, as long as a person doesn't let the dreaming get out of hand and begin to believe those dreams -especially some that might be a bit far-fetched on the current budget in this household -are reality. If they could be reality, that would be nice, for sure. But at the moment, they aren't but it still doesn't stop me from dreaming -or Mandy either for that matter!

About two years ago, Mandy and her now estranged husband, had decided they were going to being working on doing some updating in the appearance of our bathroom. Nothing wrong with a project like that if you start small, do the affordable things that you want done and then, as you have time and hopefully, enough funds too of course, work on the changes you'd like to make on the higher end items.

And that's where one of my dreams comes into play!

Right now, we have the stuff around the tub that is fiberglass panels, at least that's what I'm pretty sure it is anyway. It's not a bad thing, served its purpose for my kids and for me for close to 20 years now as part of the shower enclosure -along with the glass sliding doors too.

But here's what I'd really like to have on the walls around the bath tub someday!

Some glass mosaic tile stuff is what I'd love to see on the bathroom walls around the tub -in some really pretty colors too that would blend and accent nicely off the flooring Mandy and Bill put in and the color they painted the walls too. That would mean a tile that sports some greens, sort of teal bluish shadings and beige and a little bit of a rust color too -not a really dark rust -just sort of lighter, medium shading -and boy, I just think that would make the bathroom look really spiffy, ya know.

But, what we currently have is still workable, livable, doable -whatever you care to call it -and there are other things we have to work on getting first, so the pretty glass mosaic stuff is gonna have to wait.

But I waited a long, long time to get this old house the way it is today -warts and all, as the saying goes -and it won't hurt us to bide our time a bit longer then either!

In the meantime, if I dream about re-doing the bathroom, let me just dream about it technicolor at the very least!

For Whatever Its Worth...

Okay -today I had my second chemotherapy treatment and so far, all seems to be going fine and dandy! I didn't sleep through the whole infusion today -like I almost did three weeks ago with the first treatment -but I did get a little bit of naptime in there!

And so far tonight, took my anti-nausea meds this evening after supper and have had no repercussions along those lines either. All it good, yes it is.

Well, that's my opinion on my current medical status.

However, my oncologist and I have a small difference of opinion right now about one little thing.

Now, I'm quite pleased with the fact that I have lost a little bit more weight over the past 3 weeks or so because I had -after the surgery healing was pretty well done -gained a few pounds so now, I'm almost down to the lowest point I'd been since December and yes, that to me is a good thing.

My oncologist though -although he isn't really, really upset that I lost some weight now, he does feel it is something to watch closely and although I told him I haven't been using anything specific -other than walking Sammy a little bit now and then and yes, trying to not eat as much as I used to but I'm not using a fat burner and the weight loss is not due to any side effects from the chemotherapy either.

Just good old not being a pig -very rarely do I go back for seconds, and I've been pretty good too for the most part about eating candy, pastries and not as much stuff that is high in the carbohydrate department as I used to have on my plate -all the time.

Just hope all things continue to go in the direction they've been going for the past 3 months now -better, better and better!

Different Eras, Different Priorities

One thing I have noticed and been thinking about it a lot too lately, is the perceptions my kids -who are all adults now -and the priority they place on something that as I grew up, how I was raised, was something considered to be a very high priority item and that something was Life Insurance!

My Grandparents, with whom my Mom and I lived, were both very strong advocates of at least having some kind of life insurance and so was my Mother. And, as I grew up, I fell right in line behind them -believing that yes, life insurance is truly a necessity of life -not for me, not personally, but rather a necessity for those people we may leave behind.

But my kids -if I mention life insurance to them, they will give me a bit of lip service and agree that it's not a bad thing to have but well, they just haven't gotten around to actually taking out a policy, you see.

Sometimes, especially after the phone call last night from my son and with him so far from home, and worrying then about the dangers that could befall him, I think maybe I should do some research and compare term life insurance prices. Then it might not be a bad idea to do the same thing for my daughters as well and give them the information to mull over and see if they can't find something that would at least be in a price range they could afford today -and could build into it a bit more if their finances get in a better shape!

It is something that really is, in my opinion, the same today as it was when I was growing up -a very high priority item!

Shopping With Children!

This is something that bugs me at times when I happen to take the two grandchildren with me to the grocery store or other places that frequently use these point of purchase displays.

For the most part, I don't object to this type of advertising and marketing because usually it is a way to steer customers to items currently being sold at a special sale price. And usually, the displays in most cases are not such that draw the attention of small children and that's fine. I'm the one doing the shopping and the purchasing and paying -not the kids.

But the ones that bother me immensely are those that are near the checkout counter and within the reach of small hands and most often these are for the candies and little junk food type items that DO tend to grab the attention of small children!

And then, especially if you are a bit harried to get the shopping completed, the kids spy this stuff and then it begins -the "I want" this or that syndrome. You all know what I mean if you have to shop at any time, in any place, with small children in tow, don't you?

I just wish all stores -from the little corner type markets to the big box chain stores -would take that more into consideration when they set up those type of things to display their merchandise.

Having things that entice small children is often a bit of an invitation to them to do their own brand of shoplifting then too at way too young an age!

I had that happen to me a while back with Maya as, when we got to the car and I got her into her car seat, I saw she was opening a package of bubble gun and I asked where she got that?

I knew where she got it! Precisely! It was on display on the rack totally within her reach and she didn't yet understand that those things are there for purchase only -not for little children to reach up and just take them!

I took the opened pack of gum from her and immediately went back into the store and gave the cashier money for the gum and he thanked me for coming back and making good to the store.

But Maya on the other hand, never ever saw that gum again! It went into the garbage as soon as we got home.

Gram's method of punishment, ya know!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trouble on the Double!

I swear, sometimes my son can find trouble no matter what he does, where he goes. It just seems to follow him around -kind of like the "Pig Pen" character in Peanuts, ya know. He just seems to have a cloud around him that says "Here I am and I'm a troublemaker!" Even when he's not!

Now I'm not saying he is as sweet and innocent as the prettiest, purest white snowfall, cause no, he's not. But what happened to him tonight makes me wonder if maybe I might need to contact some attorney somewhere out west -like maybe personal injury lawyers Tucson or some such agency like that.

The company he is employed by sent him out to Texas -to the panhandle region and he is supposed to be there for the next 3-6 weeks or so, working. I put him on a bus to that are early Friday morning last week and today, he and the guys he works with began working in that region of Texas.

Tonight, after they returned to their motel rooms, he decided to walk to some little fairly nearby convenience store to get a pack of smokes, a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly so he can make himself some sandwiches for when he goes to work.

Well, as he was walking along towards the store, he got stopped by the police and even was frisked -for doing nothing but walking!

And, to add insult to injury, they even ran a report on him and here is where things get really weird too!

Seems this report showed that he had been arrested and convicted for supposedly being under the influence of a controlled substance -meaning drugs.

And, the report according to the police in Texas says that his driver's license -in its entirety has been revoked too.

Now, what really happened was that he was arrested -yes, a year ago in March for a DUI -driving under the influence, but nothing about drug usage at all. And the only thing that was revoked was his CDL license but not his regular driver's license!

The cop told him that it was a good thing he was walking though and not driving a vehicle because his license -according to this report or the cop's interpretation of it anyway -was that his entire license had been revoked, suspended.

Then, this report also contained information about my son and his lovely Volkswagon Bug -a Baja Bug that he has and that he restored himself. When he lived in Arizona and Nevada and initially completed this vehicle, it was registered in Nevada and was perfectly legal there.

When he moved back to PA though, it was a whole different story and a local town cop in a neighboring community stopped him one day simply for driving the Bug. Actually of the charges that cop tried to put against him, the only one that was legitimate was that he had been living in PA longer than the time allowed before you have to re-register a vehicle here. That cop even had a charge against him for defacing an inspection sticker because when he rebuilt the car, he had put a new windshield in it and he had purchased the windshield at some junk yard in Nevada or Arizona and it had had a sticker on the window for some kind of inspection or some such in Texas and he apparently hadn't got all the sticker removed from the windshield.

Anyway, that happened back around 2000 or 2001 and Favorite Son had to spend good money -close to $1,000 for attorney fees and then fines too, particularly to get exhonerated on the defacing an inspection sticker charge -which was totally bogus! Anyone else around here would never have been touched for this kind of junk.

And here he was now tonight -way out in loverly Texas -and the cops telling him his license is suspended and him trying to tell them that no, it was just his CDL portion that was suspended and them pretty much telling him not to even think about arguing his point with them cause they knew from this report that this is the truth, yadda yadda.

Then, when they did turn him loose, the last thing to cop told him was "If you're gonna buy drugs down here, don't do it in this town!"

And, as he said to me when he called home tonight, "How the heck do I show them that they are wrong about this report, anyway? And what if that is really what it says on his report too? How do I get that corrected anyway?"

And I have no clue how to answer that question either, would you?

I know he did get the DUI -for drinking and driving and that his BAC was .09 and the limit is .08. I know too that his regular license was not suspended, just the CDL. And I know too, that the attorney showed the courts that the only charge that was legitimate with his VW Bug, was the one about it not being properly registered in the state of PA! And, that the rest of the stuff on that case were all bogus charges.

Things like this do really make it look like he is a total bad ass, which he is NOT! And if a potential employer says they want a complete background check on him before they will consider whether or not to hire him, how the heck does one get their record corrected to show the legitimate charges against a person and not things that are fabricated in the reports that apparently are available to police, coast-to-coast, anyway?

I never gave a thought to that something like this had the potential to happen to the kid!

Now what?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Big "Sumprise"

It's a busy day here with a big -hopefully - very exciting evening ahead!

Monday is Maya's 7th birthday but because of the work schedules of some family members and also, these things generally work out better on weekends anyway -we are celebrating her big birthday with a bit of a bash for her tonight.

And -let me also add this -It's a surprise! (Or, as she says it -"A sumprise!") We have said nothing at all to her about having a party for her for her birthday but it's definitely in the works.

Mandy is at work now -till about 4:30 or 5 p.m. and when she left this a.m., she took Maya and Kurt to her best friend's house to spend the afternoon with Jenn-Jenn and Nick-Nick and their three teenage children. Three kids who absolutely dote on these two little ones here and Maya and Kurt both love going there for a day on the weekends whenever possible.

That way, having them out from under my feet, it gave me the opportunity then to do some preparations for our meal tonight. Two of Maya's favorite things - Sloppy Joes and Macaroni and Cheese! We're also having hot dogs too and maybe I'll get really coordinated and figure out something else along the food lines that she likes and that I can easily pull together. Mandy's making the Sloppy Joes while she's at work and I already have the mac'n'cheese put together now plus, I have a pan of sweet rolls as well as a pan of flat bread that I hope will turn out like the Swedish Kaka bread the kids and I really love too.

Aunt Carrie called last night and we tried then to get Maya to tell us what she wanted for her birthday but she was really reticent about mentioning anything in particular.

Although the kids already have a small swing set in the backyard, I know Maya would love to have a big old wooden swing set but sad to say, that's just not gonna happen! She did finally tell Aunt Carrie last night that she would like to have a scooter but I'm pretty sure that won't be coming her way tonight either. She will, however, be getting a pretty good selection of little toys from the Hannah Montana stuff and I'll lay odds she'll be happy and excited over those items. (This kid is so into Hanna Montana that I'm wondering if maybe she's already the President of the local chapter of the Hannah Montana fan club!)

Mandy's worried whether Maya will be excited and if she will truly be surprised by this whole deal and I'm pretty sure she'll be surprised and I'm also pretty darned sure both she AND her brother Kurtis are gonna both be excited, hand-flapping little fools tonight!

Time for me to go check on my rolls and bread now and get them into the oven. Then, probably do up some deviled eggs as an "extra" food item more for the adults (Maya and Kurt won't touch eggs fixed like that with a ten-foot pole, ya know!) Too bad Uncle Clate is gonna miss out on that item since it's something he really loves!

I'll keep ya'll posted how the party works out and hopefully, will remember to get the camera in action with film and video at 11:00 - as that saying goes!

Looking Snazzy!

This morning, when I picked my son up to drive him over to Clearfield where he was to catch that bus bound for Amarillo, when he came out and hopped in my jeep, I couldn't resist picking on him about his appearance.

"So, I see you're wearing your finest jeans today, aren't you, Son? Trying to make an awesome impression on someone along the way I guess, huh?"

He knew I was being a bit sarcastic in saying that and just laughed at me then. "Yeah, Ma, that's right!"

His jeans were what I gather would be considered vogue but this style just boggles my mind, for sure. Why? Well because they had not just tiny rips and tears here and there but big, really, really big, holes from about mid-thigh down to just below the kneecap. This style just totally goes against my grain, ya know. Who on earth would want to wear jeans that have as many holes in them as these do?

I like to see him dressed more along the Preppy lines -kind of like these sweaters =like the brown crewneck he had on last night when he had to go to a company meeting. Or like this coat too that he has and which he bought one exactly like it too for my grandson for Christmas two years ago. Don't he and his nephew make a rather dashing pair in their "look-alike" jackets though?
Hard to believe that Alex -my grandson -was only 11 years old there but was that close to his Uncle Clayton's height then and now -WOW -you should see the two of them together! Pretty soon, they'll be nose-to-nose, ya know!

But, my son can "Clean up quite nicely" if he has a mind to do so. Just that rarely does his mind think along the same timelines as his mother's so he tends to opt for a lot of his outfits to be along the "Raggy" style lines -or so it does seem to me anyway!

Not in the Cards!

Every day now, when I get up and get around to combing (or brushing) my hair for the day, the old gray-haired mop is getting thinner and thinner. One of these mornings I expect I'll try to comb out the last few remaining hairs and they'll just fall off, into my hands, conceding defeat, ya know.

The waste can in the bathroom has been seeing quite a few very large handfuls of this hair each day now.

The other day though, as Mandy was getting Maya ready for school, combing her hair in the bathroom, Maya asked her mother some questions and the discussion went like this.

Maya: "Why is Gram cutting her hair?"
Mandy: "She's not."

Maya: "Well how's come there's all that hair that was Gram's in the waste can then?"
Mandy: "Because Gram's hair is falling out."

Maya thought about that for a minute or so and then said this:

"I could cut it for her, maybe?"

Ummmm, sorry Maya but I rather think not.

Some how, I just think it would be much better for all concerned -especially old Gram here -if I just let the chemo do its thing and have the hair all fall out on its own rather than have one of Maya's hair styling attempts be done to me!

I could be wrong of course, but for now, that just ain't gonna happen, my sweet little girl!

Old Homestead Quirks

I know -or at least I think I know this -that at some time or other I have mentioned that the house I live in was built back in 1903 for my Grandparents. Right? (I have said that before haven't I?)

Well anyone who has ever lived in an old -especially a much older -house knows that quite often the house has many quirky things about it.

This old place is certainly no exception.

Take for example the beautiful brick fireplace that is on the west wall of my living room. I don't know what year, for certain, that fireplace was put in there -if it was part of the original design or was added in years later in the 20s or 30s when my Grandparents did some changes to the old place, but there is one thing I do know about this fireplace and that is that it is not meant to be used.

Well, maybe when they first built it, the intent was to have a lovely fireplace that would help keep the house a bit warmer but at some point in time, one of my uncles made a discovery about this thing and as a result, he warned my Mom and my Grandparents not to use it -EVER!

Why? Well because it seems the fire pit that holds the hot ashes and cinders and stuff like that is situated on one of the main timbers of the house and when he discovered this, he even showed them that there were scars on those timbers indicating charring from some prior usage of the fireplace.

I do recall one time in the mid-50s though when my Mom was having the grates to the old coal furnace we had then replaced and it was mid-to-late October and don't you just know, since we couldn't fire the furnace then, we got hit with a really bad cold snap and had no other means for heat, comfort and warmth then other than to build a fire in the fireplace. So, my Mom did just that.

However, at that point in time, my Grandpa's mind was not near its normal state as he was frequently having issues of dementia and when the fire was built in the fireplace, he high-tailed it out of the house and down the road to the home of his older brother where he announced to my Great Uncle Erick and his two daughters who lived with him that we were trying to burn the house down up here. My Uncle told his girls that maybe they'd best come up here and see what the heck it was that Hazel (my Mom) must be up to that had Grandpa this riled up.

So, the fireplace has never been used as an implement for warmth -not ever, since that one time. And technically then, I really wouldn't ever need to worry about getting any Fireplace accessories for it.

But I still think some of these things would be nice, would make the living room look nicer, sort of cool and attractive then.

Maybe one of these days -when, if ever, we also manage to get some new furniture too that would really give the room a whole new look. (And maybe I'll win the lottery then too, ya know!)

Oh well, it's something nice to dream about having a house that is a whole lot more coordinated than this place is!

Big Bus Trip -Again!

Well, for the second time in the past almost 17 years now, this morning I put my son on a bus again.

This time it's taking him to the panhandle area of Texas and it's for his current job.

Seventeen years ago this November -the week before Thanksgiving -I put him on a bus to take him to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where he was going to begin his basic training for the Army then.

That trip kept him busy -and away from home, from me, from his sisters -for a little over four years.

This trip is expected to keep him busy -at work, hopefully out of trouble too -for the next three to six weeks. After this particular job ends then, he's not sure where he might be going.

Could be to Mississippi or perhaps Louisiana but it could also mean a tour up in North Dakota in the months of the year that most folks don't really care to be in North Dakota, ya know.

He's currently working for some gas company that has been putting down cables and stuff in this area to then detonate something or other to get some kind of seismic readings that I gather will let the company know about gas locations. Probably has something to do with the Marcellus Shale Gas Project in the local news here of late.

You can tell, can't you, how in tune I am with this whole project, I bet? Not very!

All I know is that for the past three weeks now the kid has had a for-real, paying job and right now, that's about all that mattered too. His employment status for the past 10 months hasn't been to fruitful having lost his CDL (trucker's) license last December which then meant he lost his job and finding other employment in these hills is not exactly the easiest thing to do these days.

Come to think of it, I can't remember a time in my entire life when finding a good-paying, decent job in this area has been an easy thing to do. Work is never very plentiful in this section of the state.

Right now, to get him "relocated" -temporarily anyway -down in Texas, Mom had to get up -yeah, rise and shine -about 5 a.m. today and cart his butt and the bare necessities of his belongings over to Clearfield where he and a whole bunch -probably around 80 guys he said -would board a bus that would take them then I think to Amarillo. (Note how well informed I am as to exactly where he's going! Heck, I'm not even fully sure of the name of the company he's currently employed by! Sure do hope we don't have to locate him in case of an emergency back home, ya know!)

Well, anyway -I did all that -got him to the motel headquarters and ready to leave on the bus and came back home. Actually got to view the dawn this morning too -another rather rare occurrence for me and I even took a couple pictures of it too, just to prove to you that I was up and OUTSIDE between 6 and 7 a.m. this morning.

Unfortunately, I can't show you those photos right now because my storage thingy with Picasa -aka Google -is currently on a hold status because I thought I had renewed my extra storage but the order hadn't gone through because my credit card information had changed since the last time a made a purchase there. Silly little thing like that is now screwing me up from posting any photos on my blog apparently for the next day or two until my order gets processed completely! Sure do hope the hurry that order along cause I'm sure you all are just dying to see my lovely sunrise photos from the road in front of my house. Just spectacular they are, trust me. (NOT!)

But anyway -back to my lovely son -when I returned home this morning from dropping him off by the big old bus, daughter Mandy informed me he had called about ten minutes before I got home and needed me to go to his house and get something he had forgotten there and then, return to Clearfield to bring this important item to him.

What had he forgotten? Some kind of base charger for his two-way radio that belongs to the company and well, he sort of was going to need that, ya see.

I managed to pawn the rescue mission to his house and then back to Clearfield to get this item to him off on to Mandy. I think I appealed to her sentimental side when I reminded her if she did this, then she could also have a little extra chance to wish him well and say goodbye to him this morning too.

Anyway -she made the run for me. Got over there and got the charger to him before their bus pulled away from the motel.

Sure am glad that bus didn't leave at 6:30 a.m. sharp like he had told me it was supposed to do!

And, isn't it fun dealing with kids that no matter how old they are, still need Mamma and/or sisters to come rescue them too!

Anyone reading my blog from near the Amarillo area? If so, keep an eyeball out for a tall (6'2"), very lanky but also quite handsome youngish male who may or may not be acting a bit crazy, zany, and who talks with a Yankee accent.

Just might be my Favorite Son ya know!