Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gram's Helping Hand!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh the mutterings he was mumbling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too Much Information?

Sometimes I think I just don't know how to properly use Google. Do you ever feel that way?

You key in something that you think you'd like some good information about and hit the enter key only to find a kazillion responses from Google -with 99% of them just being advertisements about a specific product -and often not really what you wanted to learn then too.

Recently, I did a search on "Diabetic Testing" and instead of getting really usable information, all I got was hits for places where one could order this type of equipment but anything about the equipment itself, reliability and such, was kind of hidden away in a circular type of information piece.

I wonder if someone were to key in a question, like how to get rid of acne fast how many hits that would generate? And would they give actual answers first, then advertisements or would it just be the other way around.

I do enjoy being able to use a search engine like Google and a few others too from time to time, but I think my problem is that I am spoiled, having watched way too many episodes of Law and Order (or other programs) where they go to the computer, automatically know exactly what word or words to enter and in a matter of nano-seconds, the computer pulls up a file that takes the detective right straight to the information they are seeking -no need to read through page after page of useless information, ya know, to get to the one tiny sentence, or word, generated in the page hit.

Maybe I just need to learn better -and easier perhaps -ways to use the search engines -or maybe there's a need for the search engines to search differently -faster, easier, more accurately.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Four Weeks of Work!

The past month has been a full one for me, that much is for sure. Chemo every third Tuesday, blood work every Monday and a new medical issue added to my already pretty full plate -diabetes! Ah yes, and I am so impressed with that last addition too!

Mandy's friend, Ken, when he heard that my family doctor was concerned about the blood sugar levels and considering putting me on insulin, brought down a glucometer plus a lancet and a container of test strips so I could try to start monitoring my blood sugar levels a little bit.

Then, when I went in for my last chemo treatment, almost three weeks ago, the oncologist was really concerned about the blood sugar levels showing up in my weekly blood work too so he said he was going to call my primary care doctor and discuss this with her and quite possibly, they would decide whether to put me on insulin (pills) or not. The nurses in the Cancer Center said they didn't see that much point in trying to get the sugar levels regulated right now because the chemo plays havoc with that stuff but, regardless of their opinion, the oncologist and my family doctor made the decision and I ended up with a prescription for the insulin pills.

Then last week, after my blood work, they decided to up the dosage of the insulin too. However, because I'd run out of the test strips, I called my PCP and asked her to give me a prescription then for the test supplies as I had to have a way to try to monitor the blood sugar.

Imagine my surprise -no, change that to shock -when I learned I couldn't take that prescription and go to a pharmacy in the area to have it filled unless I wanted to pay all the costs myself. It seems my insurance will only cover the test supplies as long as I order them through one of the "mail order" places that is on their list of approved suppliers! Darned good thing that I am not in dire need of this stuff -like life or death need, ya know -since it will take me at least a full week till I get my supplies sent to me. Of course, a lot of the delay is because of the Thanksgiving holiday and places being closed for that but still, what if it was imperative that I be taking blood sugar readings at least two times a day -if not more -but was unable to do that due to the hold-up in getting this testing equipment? Things like this -where I am locked into dealing with a supplier whether I really like the one I ended up with or not -really irks me to no end!

But anyway, be that as it may, I've been engrossed in a lot of other stuff the past four weeks too!

For openers, because I have a stack of books -about a dozen or so, at least -that I purchased well over a year ago but hadn't read, I decided it was time to work on the book pile and begin to whittle it down a little. I read four books in a week -one being a book by Mary Morris McGeary (not sure of the spelling of the last name there, but she wrote "Songs in Ordinary Time" several years back and won an award for that one -which I had read and loved) and the book I read this time "The Lost Mother" was equally as good. The other three books I read weren't bad, but they didn't hold a candle to this one, that's for sure!

And of course, as usual, every chance I got I was also doing more embroidery and tonight, I finally got around to taking some pictures of seven of the last projects I completed. I thought I had taken a picture of the 8th project but saw once I got them loaded into my Crafts Album on Facebook that I hadn't taken a shot of the poinsettia tabletopper I had completed so that will have to wait another day for me to get that done.

But anyway, here's the photos of the seven other projects I now have finished. If I'm ever going to get my account set up on to list the items I have completed, I'm gonna have to get cracking, that much is for sure.

So, here goes -my little show of what other things I've been doing!
First, here's a set of hand towels with a cute little Christmas Teddy Bear bringing presents for the holiday.

Next there's this tabletopper -"Bells and Bows" and the colors a muted shades of a pink/mauve with the ribbon in a pale aqua/teal type shade. Very pretty color combination and all of the bells and bows have gold metalic accents threads in them.

Then there's this tabletopper -"Oh Tannebaum" -which is an item I made three of this pattern last year for Christmas sales. A very pretty, but also very simplistic design.
This pillow case, from the Disney Winnie the Pooh collection, of good old Eoyre, is earmarked for a very special little boy in this house for one of his Christmas presents from Grammy. I have another one waiting in the wings to do up -a Princess one, Cinderella, I believe -for Maya but I'm gonna have to get really brave to tackle it because these sets are really tiny stampings for the stitches and a really hard for me to make them out at times then too. But, the kids love 'em, so you know who will win out in the long run then, don't you?

And finally -something I don't usually mess with -counted cross stitch! I love the way these things look but they do tend to make me somewhat cross-eyed when I work on them!

Anyway, these are acrylic coasters with a cork backing. The first set -"Sweet Delights" is a set of four whimsical candies -really cute. The second set -"Stylish Snowflakes" is a very pretty set of four coasters each with a different snowflake design. I actually enjoyed working on both these sets and surprised myself that I got them finished as quickly as I did.

Of course, doing all this stuff now, one thing I didn't have to worry about while working on these projects was getting upset at myself and pulling my hair out. Ain't got none right now to pull out, ya know!

But at any rate, it's something I enjoy doing, hopefully will even be able to sell a couple of these items so I can have a little extra cash to pay for some more kits and maybe even be able to pay down some of these excess medical bills that keep arriving pretty much on a daily basis, ya know! Cross your fingers and hope for the best once I get my site set up!

I see too now that I miscounted how many items I had done. The final total is seven -but I forgot to photograph the tabletopper with the border of poinsettia flowers and bows -a very pretty, rich-looking piece, all done in satin stitching. Yes, I'll get my fanny in gear and get a snap shot of it to post here in the very near future too. I promise!

So there you have it. The stuff I really enjoy -a lot -reading and or embroidery!

Mandy apparently wants me to start sewing again too now as she bought a pattern for a coat and dress set in Maya's size. However, I told her if she wants me to do any kind of sewing it will mean that my sewing machine will have to be brought out from my bedroom and set up in the living room. A move I didn't figure would go over all that well with her because she grumped about the sewing machine being in the living room when I used to keep it in here but she just shrugged her shoulders and said that was fine with her adding that it really wasn't her idea to move it to my room in the first place. So in other words, it annoyed the hell out of her ex-husband apparently. Well, once I get it set up in here, we shall see how long it takes before she decides she's tired of it being out and in the way, etc., etc.

Time now for me to get some sleep so I can get up early in the morning and begin working on the potatoes and vegetables, etc., for our two-days-late Thanksgiving supper we'll be having here Saturday night. If you happen to be in the vicinity of our house around 6:30-7:00 p.m., and if you're hungry, stop by and join us.

Always enough food to feed at least one more, ya know!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Curing Things!

Maybe this post will turn out to be what some might think is TMI (too MUCH information) but what the heck, is what I say.

Let it all hang out!

Considering how I felt almost all day yesterday and the better part of the night too, with my gut churning away, I was about ready to consider looking into finding -and purchasing -a good colon cleansing pill to shake loose and chase out whatever it was in my gut that was giving me such terrible fits, ya know!

My main concern really though was that perhaps some little tiny piece of food had some how managed to find a little opening in my intestine and lodged itself in there and thus, about to create either a nasty case of diverticulitis or worse -a bit of a blockage such as I had back in May when I ended up being transported down to Pittsburgh to spend 2 days in the hospital there while they tried to determine what had caused my problems that weekend.

I attributed that episode to having eaten a very tiny bit of kernel corn about five days before I had that attack and since then, I have gone to great lengths to make sure I don't put any of that delicious vegetable into my system -not ever again!

And now that things are finally feeling a bit better within my tummy area today and I need to get cracking to on doing what baking needs done for my family and our Thanksgiving Feast -which will be held here on Saturday instead of today because of work schedules for both my daughters - it really hurts me, deep inside in my "traditional Thanksgiving menu side" that is -that I won't be fixing a nice big casserole dish of corn pudding this year.

I love that stuff and I think it's probably my older daughter's favorite way to eat corn, which by the way, is also one of her favorite vegetables too. But, this year, if any one wants to eat that, they're gonna have to cook that themselves and please, don't have it here either, to tempt me!

One go-round with a tiny piece of corn stuck in my gut was more than enough for me!

I'm thinking maybe I'll make some kind of a spinach casserole that would offer a bit of fiber to myself and my family too.

Hey! It sounds good to me anyway!

Rough Day

Yesterday started off calmly enough but by the time it ended for me (close to 4 a.m. today), it turned out to be one that wasn't so very nice to me.

Although I've been very lucky dealing with the chemo treatments this time around -no nausea, for openers and not that many problems with the high levels of fatigue that often plague chemo/cancer patients, yesterday wasn't all that kind to me.

It started about five minutes after I took my first dose of my daily meds - a high blood pressure pill, my Detrol to help a few other things and my insulin tablet.

Suddenly, my stomach began to feel like it was playing ping pong with those three pills -batting them back and forth from one side of the stomach lining to the other and while it wasn't making me nauseous, it was creating a lot of mild to sharp pains for well over the next fifteen hours after the onset.

I was trying, of course, to figure out what was going on there and what I could possibly do to alleviate the discomfort.

I got to thinking maybe all I need is some hgh supplements to try to transport my system back to a better day, a better time in my life, improve my appearance too (or so said the promotional information about the stuff.) But then I got to thinking a bit more about the appearance deal and realized that it said nothing whatsoever about causing more hair to grow faster and right now, with my bald head, that's something I am looking forward to happening -a new growth -a full head of hair.

I don't mind the baldness all that much except for one thing.

It really causes me to notice every darned draft in this house -or so it seems.

The kids walk by me and their walking creates a breeze -something I had never noticed at all prior to the hair falling out -and that chills me. Yes indeed, believe it or not, it makes me feel -or at least notice -the air around me all that much more these days.

Part of my sleep apparel often consists either of a hooded sweatshirt of cowl neck sweaters, with really big cowls, that I then pull up over my neck and the back of my head to try to keep those areas just a tad bit warmer.

Probably looks goofy as all get out but you know what?

I don't care!

Just as long as I'm not freezing, shivering away, I'm happy.

And -since today is Thanksgiving Day - I'm also really thankful that I like both hooded sweatshirts and cowl neck sweaters to rescue me!

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my blogger friends, my neighbors and especially to those who are a part of my extended family (cousins galore, all over the place) as I love you all, whoever you are and wherever you may be!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pleasant Visit!

I know I have written in the past -distant and fairly recent as well -about issues we've had with both the youngsters here pertaining to going to church.

From the very beginning with Maya, we took her to church with us and that first year with her was really nice too as she was a very pleasant baby. She didn't get all hyper around people fawning over her after the services, almost always fell asleep during the service too, which made taking her with us quite easy and very enjoyable.

Then, when she was just past 30 months -right after Kurtis came along -out of the blue, from no where, the worm turned and for the next 13 months, taking her along with us to church was an impossibility as she would begin to scream as soon as the car made the turn into the church parking lot. And if we were foolish enough to try to get her inside the building the screaming and crying would just intensify.

Finally though, after a little over a year of those carrying on episodes, she began to calm down and gradually acclimated to the routine of sitting through a church service.

Kurtis never went through that phase -well, not that early on anyway. His rejection of attending church started recently and it caused our attendance to drop off again then too because although he would be fine in the car, walking into church, even greeting other people in the narthex and such. He would be good walking down the aisle to a select pew, quiet, giving us the idea that all was well and we could get through the service with no problems.

That is how it would go with him -nice, ya know - until the organist would appear and begin to play the prelude and then, he would begin to fuss. Amidst crys of "No music!" or "No sing, no sing!" it would be inevitable that Mandy would take him out and away from the service but usually, by the time the offertory was ended and communion beginning, he would be calm enough to sit through the end of the service.

Still, Mandy longed to be able to sit through the service uninterrupted by his crying and carrying on, ya know.

We figured since he only got upset when he heard the organ being played that maybe there was some type of sensory issue pertaining to a vibration perhaps from the organ that upset his equilibrium so just sort of bided our time then in trying to take him to church.

This past Sunday we talked to him about going to church with Mommy, Maya and Gram and he was responding to our talk, very excited and happy, saying how he was going to go to church.

Then he started mentioning -well in advance of being in church -the "No sing, no sing" thing so we told him that was okay that he didn't have to sing but that others like the music and enjoy that and he seemed to calm down enough that we decided to give church attendance another shot.

Armed with what quite possibly may be the largest book of pictures to color, mazes to draw through, things to connect the dots and such, plus a small plastic box filled with many crayons and even a few markers too that Maya carried in with her, and the kids grabbing not one but three of the bags at the back of the church filled with soft type, quiet toys, in we went.

And, once seated in the pew, the kids -side-by-side -(which can often be a bad seating arrangement as it invites bossiness and bullying from Maya on to her brother at times) both kids dug into those bags and settled back for an hour of non-stop coloring and such.

Kurtis had his "bear-bear" with him too. (That's this big furry pillow-type, cover that is his security item.) And, with "Bear-Bear" spread across his legs, then a little lap-type drawing board, crayons, all kinds of papers to play with, he settled in and played nicely -no outbursts of fear and tears when the music began -and only once during the entire service then where we -or the congregation -actually aware of his presence, he was that good, that quiet.

Pastor's service this Sunday was organized a little differently than the norm though as there would be a scripture reading, then she would discuss a little about each of the seasons of the church calendar and each of these little pieces would be followed by the congregation singing one verse of the hymn, "Crown Him King of Kings." It was a very nice presentation, to say the least.

As she talked about each season, she had -for display and information -each of the different paraments used to be draped over the pulpit -explaining the Greek (or sometimes Latin) letters and their meanings as well as the significance of the pictures on those cloth pieces too.

As she moved along, discussing each season, when she came to the church season we are now rapidly approaching, she opened that particular topic by saying "Oh, Christmas."

And without looking up from his coloring, never missing a beat with his interests spread before him in his lap, there came from Kurtis a rather loud exclamation where his echolalia set in on him and he almost shouted, "OH CHRISTMAS!"

But that was the only time he voiced anything much less in a way that the whole congregation heard him and the success we had this past Sunday was such that it makes us look forward now to the possibility of returning fairly regularly to attending church -again!

Just another little way in which we measure bits and pieces of progress, the learning process in action here, you see.

After church, there is of course the procession out to the narthex where Pastor Carrie stands and greets everyone. Kurtis totally blew her off as he ran past her -no shaking hands for him that day -he had other fish to fry and headed over to the refreshment table to get first dibs on a cookie or some other treat there.

Maya generally is fairly complacent about the exit process and usually will respond to Pastor's outstretched hand by reaching up and shaking hands -or at least a light touch anyway.

But this Sunday, for whatever reason, she hung back, kind of shyly hiding between Mandy and myself and refused to shake -or even touch -Pastor Carrie's hand.

That is until Pastor Carrie mentioned to her that Kurtis had given her his hand and not wanting to be outdone by her little brother, she came forward immediately then to extend her hand!

Amazing isn't it what will sometimes influence small children!

And let me tell you this, I am not against a bit of bribery or stretching the truth a tad too in order to get good results!

And I'm also really thankful that at times, things like that work wonders with small children too!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On a Roll!

Today really is a new day for me!

My son got home from the hinterlands of northeastern Texas (the panhandle area) after working 12-14 hours a day, almost every single day for the past month and boy, it sure was nice to see his smiling face sitting before me late last night!

This morning, I got up about 8 a.m. but decided after checking my e-mail, reading the daily paper from the next county over online, that I really wasn't awake enough then to stay up. Needed a few more z's, ya know, so back to bed -and sleep -I went till around 10 a.m.

By that time, Mandy was up and had made coffee so I enjoyed a nice hot cup of coffee while playing then on Facebook for a while and then, my reader. Got blogs cleared from the reader -at least temporarily anyway, and even made comments this morning on several of my favorite blogger's posts too.

Clayton came down and had a cup of coffee with me too and boy, I wish you could have seen the reaction with one little boy as he recognized the sound of his "Un Quayton's truck" as he came down the street and pulled in out in front of our house! Yep! Kurtis definitely knows what Uncle Clate's truck sounds like -got that noise well-placed in his memory bank, he does!

After Clate left, I decided -before having breakfast -or lunch or brunch or whatever -that I probably should do my blood sugar test. This act has been really a depressing thing as my sugar levels have been all over the board for sure in the past two weeks. From the two days running when it was down to 156 when I first got up to one evening when it hit a high of 450, I was beginning to feel really frustrated over this whole deal. Plus, I had several instances were I tried to test and ended up poking myself and ruining test strips without getting a reading!

But today, I persevered and got a reading on the first try and it was one that really made me quite ecstatic -very happy indeed -to see the reading there of 138!


To celebrate the occasion -and because Maya said this is what she wanted to eat -Gram fixed the kids and myself too -scrambled eggs and wheat toast!

And after that, got the dishes washed up and mixed up a big old batch of homemade Swedish Limpa Rye bread!

Nothing like home-baked bread to have as a celebratory tool when your blood sugar level comes clear down to a lovely 138 now, is there?

Next step is to try to figure out what the heck to cook for supper that won't take me forever to work it through my system in the blood sugar category and that it will also be something the kids will eat without any major wars developing between me and them in that process.

I'm kind of leaning towards cooking up the last of the Swedish Korv sausage I have in the freezer and making a big pan of the Swedish baked egg custard dish -(panakaka) like my Grandma often would make for a nice quiet Saturday evening supper.

If I'm gonna celebrate this low on the sugar levels today, I may as well do it right, keep within the old ethnic dishes the kids and I ALL like and enjoy the meal.


I thought so.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back in Motion -Sort of!

Well, trying to decide what to write about some days is really nice and easy and if I would just jot some of those things down someplace to jog my mind when I have time to sit and write would make my blog life much simpler.

The other day -on my way over to the Cancer Clinic on Monday for my weekly blood work - all kinds of topics and what I'd like to write about them, were virtually flooding my mind. Boy, if I can just remember these thoughts when I get back home, I could do up several posts and let them sit to put them up as I please.

But, remember that old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men, and enter that into my mode of operation and now, you can pretty much figure out that those ideas flew out of my mind then as quickly and easily as they had first entered. Ne'er to be retrieved either in all likelihood!

Sometimes, my ability to forget -which is now getting stronger than my ability to remember -simply amazes me!

Things are sort of starting to settle down here after last week's family loss, my problems then with the neuplasta shot knocking the socks off me for almost two full days, the drive on Saturday to my cousin's funeral and well, I've now forgotten some of the neat little things that the kids did that made life really interesting along the way.

Well, except for one thing that is -and that is how well both Maya and Kurtis behaved at the funeral service and the dinner after the service too. If ever two kids looked the epitome of little angels, it was these two and their behavior Saturday. The fact that they sat completely still -not a peep out of either one -during the service was remarkable for openers, but that they sat up to the table, shut up and ate (following Gram's normal specific directives at mealtime, ya know), made this even more memorable. Not a single bit of argument or fussing over what foods where there and that, my friends, is awesome!

There was one slight problem on our way into the church for the dinner though. Apparently, my klutzy side decided this would be a really good time to make an entrance and as Maya and I walked along the parking lot to the church hall, somehow or other, I managed to get my feet a bit tangled with each other and in doing so, I found myself trying to balance on a parking barrier. Not a good mix, not at all!

Of course, I lost my balance and footing and did a nose dive to the pavement! People scurrying over asking if I was alright and yes, for the most part, I was -well with one small exception -a little cut above my left eyebrow which of course, bled like a darned stuck pig initially.

That, and the other injury was that the frames of my glasses split, just above the left lens and the lens went flying out on the pavement. Oh joy! The rest of the day was spent with me squinting a whole lot, trying to make out what was in my field of vision. (I'm virtually blind as a bat with out my specs, ya know.)

Initially I figured this was going to mean a trip for sure to the eye doctor but a little container of crazy glue saved my checking account of that expense -for a while anyway. I got the lens back in the frame, pushed the frame together then and glued that puppy up but good! I won't say good as new but darned near.

And yes, I am gonna have to make an appointment with the eye doctor sometime in the near future because my frames are more than a bit bent now, plus I know the lenses definitely are in need of being changed too. Just gotta figure out a way to squeeze the money out for that expense along with trying to figure out how I'm gonna pay for all the medical bills that just keep flooding in now too! Arrgh!

Last night, while messing around on my Facebook site, I discovered that today was the birthday for one of the aides at the school Kurtis attends. She and Kurtis are buddies, through and through. She also has a history with my family and me in that years back, when she was in high school, she frequently used to babysit for my kids and my son, Clayton, was a big favorite of hers. Knowing how Kurtis loves Miss Jackie and also, how much he really, really loves birthdays -for anyone -and singing Happy Birthday too -I deliberately put a nice little bug in his ear this morning when I woke him up to get ready for school.

I told him that today is Miss Jackie's birthday and the first thing he was to do when he got to school was to wish her Happy Birthday and then, he was also to sing that to her as well.

I haven't heard anything from her as yet as to whether or not he followed through on my instructions, but considering I had him in the singing mood while he ate his breakfast, I'm betting this was something he no doubt remembered to do! Sure do hope so anyway!

I've also been meaning to post some of the photos taken at our church women's bazaar two weeks ago and keep forgetting to do that. (Darned chemo brain drain keeps attacking my memory more and more.) But anyway, here's the pics -not many of 'em -that I got at the bazaar.

Here's a view on the left of the baked goods (cookies and suc) and on the right, of the bread table, about half-way through the bazaar. I don't know exactly how many loaves of home-baked breads we had donated, but I'd be willing to bet there were 50-60 loaves of Swedish Limpa Rye and Swedish White Kakas. The big round flat loaves you see in the front of the bread table picture are the White Kakas.

The above photo here is of the "Candy Shoppe" with all kind of mouth-watering candies and fudges! It, like the bread and baked goods tables, always gets a good response from repeat customers, year after year!
And this was some of the items on the crafts table -the two tabletoppers on the far left end were two of my pieces of work. Unfortunately, neither item sold this year so I don't know if they just didn't catch the eye of the right person or perhaps we may have overpriced them. Who knows but they're still available at any rate.

And finally, this is a partial view of the Chinese Auction table which has proved to be very successful. (Mandy and I each won two items from our chances purchased on things on the table so we thought it was a pretty good deal.) All the monies raised in the Chinese Auction goes towards our local food bank and this year, we raised $435 for that very worthy charity!

And finally, there's been on little change to my health concerns since my last writing too. At least I don't think I mentioned this before, but if I did, forgive my being repetitive. I now have another new drug added to my plethora of pills to take daily. (Something else I have to remember to do ya know!) This one though also involves my testing my blood sugar at least twice a day now and then, taking an insulin tablet twice a day too!

Trying to get the blood sugar under control is I do believe, about the hardest thing yet for me to deal with. This doctor will tell you to watch your food intake, lay off the carbs and sugars but you can eat virtually all you want of meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, and stuff like that. Then, you get hold of a magazine article which says watch the carbs and sugars and oh, by the way, stay away too from daily products, cheeses, milk and such. Which directive should be adhered to anyway?

And do those doctors and writers of these articles have any suggestions then what I can and should be eating when everything seems to make the blood sugar skyrocket?

Darned if I can figure it out, that's for sure!

A friend of Mandy's who is also diabetic brought me a little cookbook with recipes all geared to people with diabetes and these recipes look really good but it confuses me to see things like pot roast -with meat and a big carb producer, potatoes -all lined up and cooked in a nice fancy sauce. Sure doesn't sound any different from the pot roast I normally fix for family dinners so what is there about this recipe then that makes it okay for someone on a diabetic-type diet anyway?

And of course, my main problem is that I love casseroles and I dearly love Pastas -any kind! And pastas -well, those of course are to be avoided at all costs. Now, if I can't fix those for the grandkids (and me) what the heck are the kiddos gonna eat anyway? Salads are not even on their particular food radar ya know!

Oh well, I suppose I'll figure out a way to muddle through this some way, some how but why do these things have to have a major affect of my diet anyway?

Between the staff at the clinic having me scheduled for all my visits at an early hour in the morning -8:30-9 am. -and now, the medical professionals are coming after me by my food intake, I swear, these people are trying to kill me!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Looking Forward -With Apologies!

First and foremost, I do believe I owe a huge apology to my many blogger friends who have posted something this week and I haven't even given most of them a nod, much less a comment for their efforts.

But, I think I have an excuse.

For the first time since beginning this lovely march down the chemotherapy path, I'm feeling a tad under the weather. Yes, Maggie Mae -I guess that time finally has arrived. (Maggie went through an ordeal last fall and over the winter months coping with chemo which often left her really fatigued and hurting and she had been really shocked that I'd been dealing with this stuff and had no complications whatsover -well, other than a teensy bit of really minor complaints at any rate.

But this week, this treatment, there have been ramifications I guess you could say.

The chemo itself on Tuesday went fine and dandy -no problems at all -and I slept through the most of the 5 hour plus a few minutes of the infusion. Left the clinic all chipper and fine.

Came home to the news from my daughters that my oldest first cousin had passed away that very morning. Quite suddenly too. She, like me, had been dealing with chemo this fall too and we'd call each other, compare notes on what was happening in our own end of the chemo world, ya know. We both had only minor complaints and issues all along.

Then what the heck happened? I asked her husband when I called him for more details if she'd had problems, perhaps begun to deteriorate or something and he'd said "No. No problems. They think she had an aneurysm." Small comfort that is to think that well at least there was no wasting away, all kinds of pain killers to try to make her comfortable in her last hours or days. We do try to rationalize, justify things by putting them into a context like that though, don't we? Well, I know I do anyway.

So there was that event and it really did take the wind out of my sails, that much is for certain.

There was also the decision made Tuesday when my oncologist phoned my primary care physician for a little chat over this thing call blood sugar levels and between the two of them, they then decided it was time for me to be given a prescription for insulin. Wonderful! NOT!

Well, I guess overall it isn't that terrible -at least this is in pill form, not via injection. Something good to be said about that aspect, isn't there now?

But I'm still more than a tad wigged out over this new development -mainly because I just don't comprehend the whole procedure, not one frigging little bit! Why it's so difficult for me to comprehend is really beyond me and probably is due more to my being an obstinate old battle axe ya know and I want to ignore it and pray it will go away. Which, unfortunately, I do realize now that things have reached this point, it ain't gonna happen that way. So I have to get my resolve in gear and try to learn how to cope with this development now too.

Then, yesterday, I had to go back to the Cancer Clinic to get an injection of Neuplasta -which is supposed to help keep my blood counts up where they are supposed to be. The nurse told me as she prepped my arm for the needle that with this injection she was gonna ruin my next two days for me and baby, she just wasn't whistling Dixie when she said that!

By the time I got back to the house, I was feeling -for the first time since starting this chemo stuff -like I had been run over by a Mack truck! Exhausted just isn't the right word for how I was feeling. Dead -maybe a bit more accurate!

All I wanted to do, virtually all I could do really, was sleep!

Add to the sheer exhaustion, the fact that this most recent dose of chemo had already left me with a dry mouth -a mega cotton mouth, if you know that feeling -like I've never ever had before from any hangover that can produce that effect on you too, if you know what I mean! I've had some pretty ferocious hangovers in my day but trust me when I tell you this, the cotton mouth I had going on yesterday, still hanging in there on me a good bit today too, beats all of those old hangovers all rolled together into one! Yes, that bad!

So bad as a matter of fact that I could barely get the words to come out of my mouth and even the nurse noticed how much of a struggle speech was for me yesterday. She even went and got me a big styrofoam cup of ice water to take with me to try to keep my mouth, my tongue, moisturized I guess would be the best description there.

Then, last night because my sinus is still being obnoxious and trying to drain but really, all it's doing is clogging up my throat with all this freaking mucus and damned near choking me at times -no exaggeration there, really -I decided to take a dose of the lovely generic form of Nyquil I take for this issue. I knew when I took it it would tend to make me groggy in the a.m. but man, that aspect should have been well on its way out of my system by this time today but so far, the fog still hasn't really begun to lift today.

I cheated on my Reader this week, trying to clear it -mainly because my ability to see, read and concentrate on what I was reading was sub-par -very below par levels as a matter of fact. One night, I gave up completely when I nodded off at the computer with my finger on the down button and had by the time I came to, realized I had just probably flipped over and through close to 50 posts on my reader and I didn't really want to try to find the point where I'd actually last read a post. So, my apologies for that event.

And then today, I found myself choosing to do that -not by accident but just scrolling through almost everyone's hard writing work to clear my reader. I rarely do something like that and it tends to give me a bit of the guilts when I do it too. But I just couldn't function well enough to read that much today.

I got Kurtis off to his school program this morning but not before he came to me and wanted to chat a bit. Very intense in his insistence to talk to me, he informed me "Uncle Quate come home nex week?" (Translated -Uncle Clate will be home next week.) Yes, baby I told him, he will be home then and won't that be nice too? To that, Kurt responded with a resounding YES! "And we will go aside and pway, won't we?" Yes baby, you will be able to do that for sure -go outside and play with your big, lanky, zany Uncle Clate!

When it was time to get him on his van today, Miss Maya -who doesn't have school today -insisted on going outside with me and Kurt to wait for the van to arrive. She, in her long red nitegown with a Sesame Street character painted on the front of the gown, and wearing her orange and black socks with her pink and white sneakers on over those gawdy socks! Hair uncombed and askew, she looked every bit like a little waif! If she were my older daughter's child, my life would be in danger now as Carrie would have a hissy fit if a child of hers were ever seen outside the house looking like Maya did! (Mandy, on the other hand, would just snicker and go on her merry way!)

And as Kurtis left, his last words were to Maya - "See you waiter My-YA!" Yeah, he puts more emphasis on the last syllable of her name. Actually, he tends to pronounce it with sort of a Brooklyn-Yiddish type accent (Where he got that, I have no clue) by calling her "Moi-YA!" Yep, life with his vocabulary sometimes is a bit of a hoot, ya know.

So now, it just Maya and me and she's dressed now -did a good job too of self-dressing today and she's waiting patiently for Gram to pick up the list of "things to do" instructions that Mandy left for me to do with Maya today.

At the top of the list though -"Walk Sammy!" -the dog! Something I have been very, very lax about doing for the past two months and a bit more now and yes, I agree I need to get back into the habit of doing that. We also have orders here to go get the mail, to write up Maya's Christmas list for Santa and gee, by the way, maybe Gram and Maya could even bake some cookies together too. Lunch directions are "Tuna?" Tuna what, my dear?

And at the bottom, Maya had printed, "Get Kurt ready for school get on van!" I'm dealing with not one, but two, bossy females here, aren't I?

Tomorrow -I'm still dreading as it means driving a little over 100 miles to attend the final service for my cousin and that mean I really do have to face the stark reality then of this loss. Older daughter and her son are coming up to take me, Maya and Kurt to the funeral and for that, I am very grateful. I know too this is hitting my girls, both, very hard too because as my cousin and I had drawn closer over the past several years and especially over the past 3-4 months now too, they also had learned more about Nancy, about her family and the interactions over the years there between us, me, my Mom, Grandparents -you name the people -and Nancy. And they had learned more too about what a special lady Nancy was as well.

And for that, I am very thankful too. Sometimes we aren't always able to get that kind of message across to others so they can then appreciate and understand better how much of an impact family can and does have on all aspects of our lives.

And now, I'm gonna try to wake up a bit more here and get some clothes on that would be appropriate to wear while walking the dumb little mutt and my sweetheart granddaughter.

I do think the fresh air and sunshine might just make some of this other foggy stuff in my head up and disappear.

If it doesn't though, be prepared to offer suggestions for help "Chemo Brain Drain" disappear!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sixty Six Plus Nine, or Minus Nine?

The number in my title have significance really only to me. But being the generous individual I am, I'm gonna try to explain them now to you.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while now will probably figure out -since I have not been secretive about my age -that the sixty six represents little old me.

The plus nine though is the number of years between me and my oldest first cousin on my Mom's side and the minus nine is the number of years between me and my youngest first cousin on the same side of my family tree.

The countdown of those 18 years began on April 16, 1935 when my oldest cousin, Nancy, was born making my grandparents two of the happiest people on the face of the earth.

How do I know that, you ask, since I didn't come along for another 9 years and didn't realize how big of an event my cousin's entry into the world was for a few years after I arrived on the scene too?

Easy! Because as early as I can recall my grandparents talked and talked -and showed me pictures too of my oldest cousin -what a cute, absolutely adorable baby, toddler, little girl, slightly older child, teenager, etc -you get that picture don't you -that she was. Even my Mom joined the chorus there too often telling me how exciting those early days as an aunt were to her.

Then, a year later, along came my cousin Barbara, and she too qualified for the royal treatment from grandparents and aunts and uncles -and yes, there were loads of old photos to be shared with me from early in my life of that cousin too!

But two years after Nancy, the family was blessed with a royal entrant when my cousin Carl was born! Carl was -I firmly believe to this day -the child who totally stole both my Grandmother's heart as well as my Mother's!

I do apologize if it sounds like I am grumbling here, exhibiting a bit of jealousy because that isn't my intent because before I ever did develop a tad of jealousy off and on concerning any of my cousins, that didn't come about till I was probably close to being in junior high and those ideas only came from the fact that my Mom would not allow me to get my learner's driving permit when I turned 16! (You see, my uncles -fathers to Nancy, Barb, Carl -as well as three other cousins who came along over the years -told my Mom they may have allowed Nancy, Barb and Carl to get their permits at age 16, but they weren't going to do that with the three cousins nearest my age so, if Mom knew what was best for me, she shouldn't let me get my permit either. And then, of course, they let those other three cousins get their licenses all before I got mine at age 18. Dirty rotten ratsofras ya know!)

Anyway, back to my progression here. The fourth grandchild was my cousin Joan and well, I guess the grandchild arrivals were becoming something one maybe gets accustomed too -the number of photos of subsequent grandkids does drop off as each new one comes along.

Unless that is, you happen to be the fifth of the series and you just happen to be born in the home of your grandparents and you and your Mother continue to then to live with said grandparents too.

Yeah -that would be me! I was number five and of course, because I lived here with Grandma and Grandpa, it was only natural I guess that I did get a bit more attention from them over the years. Well it makes sense to me anyway. My apologies though to my cousins who maybe kind of, sort of, got left out in the rain a little bit. I do know it wasn't that they loved me more just that keeping track of who belonged to who gets a little harder to remember as people age and also, I know too what a rotten little brat I was -frequently- -back then too so I'm quite sure there were many, many occasions when my grandparents really, really loved the rest of their grandchildren oh, a heck of a lot more than they did me! Yes, I really, really, really was or often could be, that bad!

But anyway, maybe this happened to be sort of an equalizer with my cousins and the attention thing, but three days -yeah a mere three days that I will never ever live down -my cousin Ray, was born! He dearly loves to antagonize me whenever he can now that I am his much, much older cousin ya know! But it did go a good ways for a while anyway to prevent me from getting totally spoiled early on.

With Ray's entrance into the family we thus begin the minus nine I mentioned and two years after Ray, along came his baby brother, David.

With those seven grandchildren, five of them were children of my oldest uncle (Bert) and his wife (Nellie), one belonged to my middle uncle (Ralph) and his wife (Hazel) and then there's me -the only child of my parents and by the way, my Mom was the only of the three daughters of her parents to have a child. That left my younger uncle (Clarence) and his wife (Mary) who finally presented my grandparents with the last four of their grandchildren starting with Ken, who was two year younger than our cousin, David, then Susan, two years later, Tommy came along two years after his sister Sue and then, last but definitely not least, 18 1/2 years after Nancy, there was Becky who is a year younger than her brother Tom!

Today, all of my Mom's immediate family are gone. Between 1967 and 1986 - gee, a year over the 18 years it took for my cousins and I to arrive is all there was between the passing of Uncle Bert down to Uncle Ralph with the other four in between.

Along that way, we also lost my cousin David too, in 1982 -when he died, then a week and a day later, Aunt Ethel left and a week and a day after that, her husband also passed. Needless to say, the month of March in 1982 was a terrible time for my cousins, for my surviving Uncle, and all the rest of us within the extended family.

So what's the point of this post tonight? Giving you the birth order and death order, of sorts, of my aunts, uncle, etc.? Maybe you can look at it that way.

But I've something on my mind tonight as I think about my family -those I grew up surrounded by and who I loved as a child and still do for that matter.

About seven years ago though, my oldest cousin Nancy, who was worried then about me because I had then been diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer, had raised three kids as a single parent, and a few other things along the way, began to call me off and on -just to check up on me because with the death of our Uncle Ralph, Nancy had kind of taken on the mantle of the matriarch of the family. Yes we still had our youngest Uncle's wife left then too -our Aunt Mary -who, over the years I had become very close to her and Nancy knew she and I communicated fairly frequently too. But from that time forward, Nancy and I came to know each other pretty much all over as we rehashed things we remembered about our parents, our grandparents, about her siblings, and our other cousins -things that happened to us as little children, as teens and young adults until we each branched out and went a bit our separate ways.

Not a bad separation -no anger, no feuds really just life moving us farther apart. In some instances it would be geographic separations -miles and miles and no mutual place it seemed to come together unless this or that cousin could maybe make it back here for the big extended family reunion of the descendants of our great-grandparents from time to time.

And so, over those years a lot of lack of communication, not putting forth the effort any of us should have put aside to do just that with each other and so we're now left with people who know each other by name, yes and how we are related, yes to that too, but unless we have kept in some form of contact over the past 25 -30 years, all too often we only know and remember the person as we knew them back then.

And that is just downright wrong as well as being sad at least in my opinion.

Which now brings me to the real reason for writing this saga, of sorts.

Because you see my cousin Nancy - let's call her the leader of the pack -and I -two cousins who rediscovered each other better seven years ago and who have continued to try to stay in touch, especially the past six months when she began having more health issues as did I and both of us ended up by early August with yet another diagnoses for each of us of cancer.

Both of us going through chemo -again for me, first time for chemo for her (although she had come through kidney cancer and the loss of a kidney, breast cancer and then bladder cancer over the past three years) and we began calling more frequently, comparing notes and issues about our chemo treatments. Trying too, to bolster the other up but that wasn't all that hard to do with Nancy as she had a strong faith, a very positive attitude as well to the treatments, to her prognosis as well.

And in truth, we both were dealing quite well with the chemo -no major problems for either one of us.

So imagine then my shock when I came home from getting my third chemo infusion today to my daughters -both of them were here -and Mandy telling me she had some news for me but it wasn't good news. There had been it seems, a phone call today while I was at the Cancer Clinic, happily sleeping away the 5 plus hours it takes for my treatments.

The call? It was from my cousin Nancy's husband, Howard, to tell us that Nancy died, very suddenly this morning.

Shock? Disbelief? Grief?

All of that and more.

I know my Faith tells me, tells all of us really, that we should rejoice when someone passes on to our Heavenly Father and I am doing that. Truly, I am because I do believe that Nancy shared my faith and that of our ancestors and that's what they believed too.

But this does put a whole different spin now -and for a long time to come too -because Nancy is no longer here for me to talk to for hours -or until the cordless phones (either hers or mine) would decide enough and go dead on us!

This also brings to mind, even more than ever before -probably because yes I am rapidly aging, the memory is fading a bit, even beyond what I jokingly picked up from blogger Janine -the dreaded "Chemo Brain Drain" thing - but with age also does occasionally come a bit of knowledge too.

And it's that tiny bit of knowledge that I have acquired -mainly over the past seven plus years now of my conversations, my communications with Nancy - and that is how important it really is to maintain contact, as much as is humanly possible with as many of one's family as can be reached.

Yeah - to quote the old Verizon tagline -"Reach out and touch someone!"

Learn as much as you can about who those little kids you grew up with are today and get to know them and yourself too, as much as possible, in that process.

Family is important! If you've not had the best of relationships, stop - look back and take stock of things and see if what drew you apart is of utmost importance now in the general scheme of things or have enough years -and changes -gone by and the spats that may have separated family in the past are of a lesser consequence perhaps today that some fence mending can be done and the family relationships perhaps retrieved, repaired?

I don't think there are any major squabbles between my cousins and myself -none I can recall now anyway if ever there were any -but yet, we still grew apart over the years.

And I know from how good I always felt after sharing calls with Nancy, with my late Aunt Mary too, and how much I miss not being able to be close -geographically or in contact via phone, e-mail, facebook, chat, whatever -with too many of my cousins still here, that I can try to maintain some semblance at least with them for whatever is left of my life now too.

Dedicated to the memories -and they are many -I have had given to me over the past 66 plus years by my cousin, Nancy Louise Eld Lang.

Always in my heart, Nance -today as before -and for the rest of my days to come. I know where you are and just hope in time, I will be able to find you there too -again.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Big Day Ahead!

Here it is -November 5th, already and I really should have my fat self out in the kitchen by now to get cracking on a lot of cooking that has to get done today.

But, instead, here I am, still seated at the computer with several blogs left to be read in my reader and a few other things on my mind too. So I figured, what the hey -go ahead and do the post for today and share the bounty of things for which I am truly thankful today.

First off -why the rush on cooking today anyway? I've been baking bread like it's gonna go out of style the past two days and today, I have to make two pans of lasagne plus, I might just bake up yet another batch of bread if my energy holds up.

Wednesday, I baked 3 batches of bread -8 loaves of Swedish Limpa Rye and a batch of what was supposed to be Swedish white Kaka bread but unfortunately, for who knows what reason, the white bread very much flopped for me. To say I was upset would be a bit of an understatement because I was so excited, so thrilled a mere three weeks ago when I figured out this particular recipe could be used to bake the white kakas I so dearly love to eat. But, judging by the way those 4 loaves turned out, the only ones who will get any of that so-called bread will be a few pieces here and there for Sammy the dog -he can use them to gnaw on -and maybe spread some of the bread outside for the birds, whatever ones are still around these parts -to have a bite to eat too.

Now, the reason for this frenzy of baking and cooking is because tomorrow is the day when the women of our church hold our annual bazaar and having a big -actually a pretty huge -supply of the home baked breads, especially those that hark back to the Swedish linage of many of our parishioners -is what has this cooking on my agenda.

Because of the flop of the white bread Wednesday evening, I decided to give it another go yesterday and thankfully, whatever went wrong Wednesday with that dough I must have somehow eliminated that step yesterday because I ended up with three loaves for the bazaar (and one for us to have with the great home-made Vegetable Beef Soup Mandy (yes, Mandy -my daughter who normally is not on a friendly basis with the kitchen) made for us for supper. The kids actually ate the soup -even most of the veggies and meat in it -which is quite a super feat for both of them and they both were very happy to have some more fresh home-made bread to go a long with that accomplishment too.

So now -I have roughly 12-14 loaves of bread to drop off tonight at the church social hall along with a poinsettia tabletopper I embroidered too that will go on the crafts table for sale tomorrow. And tomorrow morning, I'll be taking two pans of lasagne out there to be served for the dinner we also have at our bazaar.

And, as I get these things ready to go for this event, I am also thinking how thankful I am that I am able to fix these things -especially this year, what with all the other things going on in my life the past couple of months. I'm very fortunate first off that I am getting chemo treatments to -hopefully -rid my body of any traces left of the cancer cells and also, that I am so lucky too that the chemo has not had a really bad after effect on my system.

I'm thankful as well that we -Mandy and I -are able to donate these foods to the bazaar. There have been times in my life over the years that baking one batch of bread or a cake or a pan of some type of cookies, would have put quite a strain on the food budget in the household but I have a pretty full pantry these days of ingredients needed to bake these items and to put together not just one, but two pans of lasagne too. And when our budget was much, much tighter over the years, I still wanted to be able to share what little we may have had available to give and today, I'm even more thankful and very happy that we can give this much from our kitchen to benefit the church group.

I'm very pleased too that since I am no longer working full time that I had the time and have developed my embroidery skills somewhat to also be able to have done this tabletopper to give for the crafts table at the bazaar. Last year, my first time to have any projects like this completed and that I felt were suitable to be given to the bazaar, I was very pleased to see how well received those items were. I only wish this year I had been able to find and create a second tabletopper in a holiday theme to donate too.

Giving these things gives me such a sense of satisfaction -happiness that I am able, physically, to prepare these items, as well as providing things that will bring in a good return for our efforts tomorrow too.

And while I am on a thankful binge here, of sorts, there is one other thing that this morning for which I am also giving thanks. And that is for the arrival of a new baby over the past night/morning -a son -weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces, 21 inches long and named Joseph David. Although I've never met this baby's mother, his father is a long-time friend of my family. For many years, we always called the new father by the nickname of "The Prince" or sometimes, "Prince Valiant" because he looks a lot like Prince Valiant of the cartoon, plus back when we first met him, his mode of transportation was a little old Plymouth Valiant.

So, to our own "Prince Valiant" and his bride, the "Princess Becky," many congratulations to you on this wondrous gift and addition to your family. For his safe arrival, all of us are truly thankful!

And now -time for me to go head to the kitchen, for sure, and get cracking!

Peace and still finding -daily -so many things for which I am very, very thankful!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dona Nobis Pacem

It's that time again folks!

Time to join forces in the Blog Blast for Peace.

Can you think of something any better to write about, to come together and each of us consider then how wonderful peace, throughout the world, would be?

And why I ask, can't we -by our common efforts -strive to make this a reality, not just a prayer, not just a dream?

Especially now, this month, when in just a few more days we will be honoring Veteran's Day and wouldn't it be wonderful though to think that if there were peace, we could simply honor those who choose to serve our country and not have to think about the fact that all too often -even today -we must honor those who served and died in their quest to acquire peace -for us and for all mankind.

Peace means so many things to different people though. To some, it obviously means living without the fear of fighting, of bombs, of terroristic acts and such. To others, it may mean simply having adequate housing and food for their family that would bring them peace -and joy too.

Many of us who live in this country don't really have those worries about us all of the time and we too often forget how important this one little word -PEACE -really is. We take it for granted as for the most part we can go about our daily lives in a very peaceful manner.

But so many others across the globe don't have that available to them and we should, we must, remember that and their plight now and always that someday, through the talents, and freedom available to us, that simply by unifying in this effort, putting it out front in our daily lives, we can someday achieve what seems at times to be the unattainable.

Bring your voice into this today and blog for peace, please.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. A small step, yes -but the more who take those words and work towards that end, the better things will be for each and every one of us.

And that is what I do firmly believe and is something I am today and always thankful that I live in a place where I can express my beliefs, freely, without fear of prosecution or retaliation -one form of peace right there.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Doing Without

Years back, when I worked as a truckstop waitress, it became sort of a standard practice, tag line kind of thing that a lot of the truckers would come in that establishment and as usually happens, ya know, when I would approach this or that one to wait on them, they would often ask the same question.

How're ya doin'?" And depending on if it was a driver I knew fairly well, my "standard" answer would most always be a one word response = "Without."

The guys who knew me understood though when I said that I might be referring to doing without all different kinds of things -generally though, it was intended to mean money but some of them like to put a totally different spin to my meaning too at times.

And, today -to try to continue with my idea of finding something that ultimately is a good thing, something to think about along the holiday line that is coming at the end of this month -Thanksgiving -to give a little recognition to the many things I know I have -and probably most of you have the same or similar thoughts along these lines too then.

In preparation for the annual bazaar that the women of our church have the first Saturday in November and which is coming up this Saturday now, I figured that today would be an ideal day for me to dig in and do some baking for the baked goods table.

Since our successful run last Monday up to Kane, PA where Mandy and I got me a big bag of good soft and smooth rye flour, I planned then to bake several loaves of one of my favorite things - Swedish Limpa Rye bread. And, because I had such good success too in the past two weeks with a really yummy white bread recipe -that if it is made right, makes some great Swedish (sweet) flatbread or as we call it here, KaKa bread. (That is pronounced like "cock-a" not like the Spanish for a not so nice substance.)

So I set out late this morning to get cracking on the bread baking!

I mixed up two batches of the Limpa Rye and then, a batch of the white bread and had it all in various stages of the rising process, then the baking -also in stages -then all afternoon.

Since it was about noontime, I decided to bring the "boombox" type radio/cd/tape player thing out to the kitchen and tune in the AM station from Philipsburg (WPHB) so I could listen to the noon news and then, maybe stay tuned to that frequency while I was baking and be able to hear some neat country music.

When the news and their public service announcements ended, the first piece of music the dj played then was Willie Nelson -one of my favorite artists -singing "Without a Song."

As I was beginning to mix up my first batch of bread, listening to this piece -which by the way is also a favorite song of mine too -it even got me in the mood where I was singing along with good old Willie too.

And, in doing that, paying more attention then to the lyrics, sort of got me to waxing a bit sentimental too about how I feel about music -something I do love, used to be a decent enough alto singer but my voice just ain't today what it used to be, ya know.

But my thoughts ran the gamut there about what would life, our world, be like if there were no music? Music to really rock to, music that soothes the soul -just like in the Old Time Rock 'n' Roll, or American Pie ya know. Music that also soothes us in many other ways, sweet, slow, mellow sounds too -or in gospel songs that also move the soul in other directions. Classical that can cover all kind of emotions too.

And I like just about all forms of music -from church music -which is a good thing I do like that because that's the only type of music I have ever been able to play on the piano or organ. (Not that I did back years ago when I was church organist, that very well and I sure don't do a good job with it all today but still, I do occasionally like to sit at the organ and try to play some of my favorite hymns every now and again. I like mainly rock from the 50s, 60s and 70s and I went from disliking country music back in the early 60s to enjoying lots and lots of different country artists who were around then and many who still are today. All three of my kids and I are very big fans of the late Johnny Cash -just something about his work that rarely disappoints me. Him and another old favorite in the country genre, Tom T. Hall. Yeah, I could sit and listen to either of them sing and just as easily switch from listening to their twangy stuff to enjoying Jack Jones, Frank Sinatra and then, go to yet another level for the Righteous Brothers or the Beatles or the Stones. Eclectic? Well a bit anyway.

I kept that radio station tuned in there all day as it played lots and lots of country stuff and now and again, had me alternating between just bouncing to the beat to even belting out a song too now and again if they happened to hit on a number I knew and remembered many of the words to it too!

And it kept me calm, mellow even you could say, so I kept plugging away at my breads I was making and just enjoying the nice mood and frame of mind the music was keeping in me.

And so for today, I would hope that the music never dies. That it is always with us to wake us up, move us in many different directions too and may life never be without a song.

And that's what I'm really thankful for today -November 3, 2010!

Monday, November 01, 2010

One Down, Another to Go!

Well, we survived Halloween last night but for a while I was a bit worried as I was afraid we would run out of candy way too early in the event. But luck held out until about 7:45 -with only 15 more minutes to go -we ran out!

And what an opportune time for it to happen too!

Just as six boys showed up -all obviously in the 15-17 year old range -and by that time, Mandy and the kids had returned from their travels so she went to the door and told the kids that she was sorry but we had run out of candy and furthermore, she kind of gave them a bit of a tongue lashing about the fact that maybe at their ages, they were milking the holiday just a bit. They were a bit put out by her speech, not even paying any attention to the fact she told them that our well had just gone dry and one of the bunch even told her, "We'll remember you next year!"

Say what? Sheesh!

Here's the two little trick or treaters, all decked out in their Halloween finest garb.

First here's Kurtis -as one really cute little hot wheels race car driver. (I was really surprised that he actually participated in trick or treating as he had been changing his mind all day yesterday. One minute he was going to dress up and go and the next minute, he was near tears, talking about scary skeletons and such. But when push came to shove, he managed to bring his courage to the front, dressed up and away he went. Still, I was fully expecting them to bring him home in about 5-10 minutes but he lasted the entire time -a good hour and 45 minutes!

And then of course, here's Miss Maya -as a punk cheerleader. How in blazes do seven-year-old kids come to decide that they want to be a "punk cheerleader?" And what the heck, exactly, is a "punk cheerleader" anyway? Beats me!
Both kids were still very excited about the fun of trick or treating when they got home -especially Kurtis, who was really wired for sound.

However, it had been a long day for both of them -especially him -and within 15 minutes, the fun of trick or treating was exchanged for the exhaustion of all that walking around and so, as often happens with one very tired out little boy, we all get treated then with a meltdown. Not as bad as some he's had but still it took a little while to calm him down and then, to convince him it would be best for him to get his jammies on and hit the road to dreamland.

But before that happened, this is a little of how things looked here!
So, with Halloween for 2010 now history, next up in "importance" is tomorrow -or rather, since it is now after midnight as I write this, today -Election Day!

And brother, after all the non-stop ads on tv, all the flyers stuffing our mailbox -so much hype, so VERY much hype this year -I don't know about anyone else but I am gonna be one very happy camper after the polls close tomorrow night and the returns get tallied and we find out if the ones who spent the most come out the winners!

You know, come to think of it, the way Kurtis was acting in that last photo, and the look on Maya's face too could pretty much sum up my feelings this year about the whole voting thing!

But after the elections become history, we will move on to yet another holiday. Unfortunately, this one -which in my book is a truly wonderful holiday that everyone -regardless of race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or no religion -should take to heart and celebrate with every ounce within us but sadly, it seems often to be overlooked. Definitely not given its proper dues, for sure.

And that would be, of course, Thanksgiving!

I haven't yet heard any Christmas music playing anywhere but things have been going up in various stores about Christmas for some time already. Why the rush?

Don't get me wrong here, I love Christmas every bit as much as I love Thanksgiving but I really do hate to hear all the commercials and the way Christmas is presented in so many of them too.

I'm like my blogger buddy -up by Boston way -Suldog -who has been lobbying on his blog for the past several years now for people to wake up and give the homage and respect that Thanksgiving should, by all rights, have -especially since it comes roughly a month before Christmas!

To be honest, I'd even like to see Black Friday banned too as I think it puts too much on what those people in advertising would like to make us believe Christmas is all about -and that is shopping! Shop till you drop, ya know. Shop till you'll be struggling with credit card bills from this year well into the next decade if you aren't careful!

Jim is willing to allow Christmas advertising and such begin after Thanksgiving and yes, I do wholeheartedly support him and that tenet too. (But I'd still like to see Christmas be more about what it really represents -not what Madison Avenue thinks it should be.)

And to be fair then -to both these holidays as wonderful -and awesome as they both are -I do believe we should take the time during the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to make that our first concern.

To think deeply, during these coming days, about what Thanksgiving does -or should -mean to each of us.

Perhaps take the time each day between now and Thursday, November 25th, to recognize something every single day for which each of us has had or has in our lives to give thanks for -family, friends, a job, retirement, school, health -whatever. And to be thankful too for being as blessed as we are to have this beautiful country, with a strong constitution and government that offers us so much, every single day!

And so, that's what I am going to try to do over the next 23 days -take time to be so very thankful for all the things -the good, as well as the difficult or bad -in my life. I'm going to try to do it not just as a mental thing but also, as a written one.

If I miss a day here and there, it won't be because I had nothing that day for which to give thanks, but just that sometimes, some days just don't seem to hold enough hours for me to do what I plan or want to get done!

And today -since it is officially now November 2nd, Election Day 2010, I am truly thankful that I have the right to go and vote! I may not be really enthusiastic about those I get to select from today but still and all, if I chose not to vote, I have then been one very ungrateful citizen, haven't I?

And I am also thankful that after tonight -no more nasty mud-slinging political ads on tv, or people reaching out to touch me, incessantly, via the phone to get me to put my vote in this or that column too!

Think about this a bit -mull it over -and then won't you join us in this campaign that Thanksgiving DOES Come First!