Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'm supposing here that most of you have seen/heard that priceless routine George Carlin had about "Stuff" and how we all acquire stuff, then we decide we need more stuff and on and on until we are pretty much over run then by all the stuff in our lives.

Well, in many ways, between all the stuff that Mandy and I have here at this house and all the stuff my son has at his house, we have just all kinds of stuff stashed away in drawers, closets, basement, attics, my son's garage, etc., etc., and yet, we still usually don't have enough stuff of some substance or another.

Granted, the stuff we tend to be totally short on, of course, is money cause I know if Mandy and I had a surplus of that stuff, we'd build on a little area to this house to make me my own little but larger than I have now, compartment room(s) like a room with a closet -a decent sized one but doesn't have to be huge -with enough space then to put my bed and dressers in there and adjacent to that, a little room big enough for say a futon and a recliner, computer and my Hammond organ (that had belonged to my aunt and which I got when she passed away) and a place then to put my tv set -which is a small one that has a built-in dvd player in it so that doesn't take up a bunch of space. Oh, an a little half-bath -just a commode, small vanity and shower facility.

Okay, that's all the space I would need for my own little living quarters then but boy, that would free up a lot of living space in the main house then.

Of course then -if we were ever able to do that -before much time would elapse, that new space would then be filled to the gills with some of the excess stuff that's currently taking up space in my son's garage, attic and even in the rooms of his big old house but which isn't all that big once you get inside because a big portion of his space is used up by the huge staircase that runs down the center of the house!

He's got things that are being stored at his house now that belong to lots of different people who, when they moved or got some new item or whatever, they didn't want to trash some stuff (there's that key word again, ya know) so all too often a lot of us (yes, Mandy and I are guilty of doing this with some things too but our stuff there is mainly smallish kitchen type items) have then taken things to my son's place to store them for some later or other or better usage.

This is the kind of thing that happens when people tend to be packrats and I suppose this is maybe how people become hoarders then too if there is no order whatsoever then to what is being stored and where and how.

My son, right now, for an example, has an abundance of television stands -at least one that we used to have here but got a newer, nicer one and no place to put the older one but there was really nothing wrong with it, and well, maybe when one of the kids gets a little older, we can put it in one of their bedrooms and use it again. (That's the kind of logic that takes place and all this stuff gets relegated to someone's spare storage spot -if indeed there is still one available -and it stays there until a new use or space can be found to put it back to doing its intended job once again.

And what brings all this to mind to me tonight, you ask?

Well, it seems our neighbor down the street has this really pretty, maple dining room table, complete with two leaves, and it would be really perfect for our needs here in our dining room and the great part about this item is that it is a good piece of furniture -made by Broyhill -and the neighbor is just giving this item away to anyone who wants it.

And I want it!

So what's the problem then?

Well, what to do with the current table we have that we are using here.

There's nothing wrong with the current table other than that we do need a larger table for when the whole family is here for a meal and I don't like the top on the current table as it is one of those with tile (ceramic, I think) top and if any foods get spilled on the table and runs into the groves then between the tiles, it's a bugger to get it to come clean. Worse than food stains though is that this is where Kurt and Maya generally have to play with one of their toys -that I have become a firm hater of too -and that's the stinking play-dough stuff cause that stuff, when it gets stuck in those grooves is really a pain in the dupa then to get that cleaned out.

Stay tuned though for more details as I try to wheedle Mandy into going down and gathering up this pretty maple table, with the two leaves, and brings it home -and we scramble then to find a new home -somewhere between this house and my son's -for the little table we have in use right now.

I'm pretty sure we'll find a place for it somewhere -probably in my son's kitchen area as he has a little bit of still empty space he can put something that size and it will be a great place then where he can toss his stuff when he gets home from work then, ya know!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strange - Just Plain Strange!

Do you ever wonder why we dream the things we do? I mean the really, REALLY strange stuff that comes across in our sleep, in our dreams?

I don't know about other people and their dreams but sometimes, the content of my dreams really confuses the living daylights out of me. It's like, where on earth did that come from? And why?

For a long time -over a period of several years actually -my dreams seemed to all be about my being back at the one truckstop where I used to waitress and inevitably, they all pertained to me waiting on a bunch of truck drivers back in the area we referred to as the Truckers' Room, and also inevitable was that I would end up trying to run all over the room to keep up with the demands of these guys and they would be yelling at me to "Hurry it up, will ya?" To their not-so-nicely put requests and feeling really stressed out to the max in these dreams, I would respond to them that I was moving as fast as I could go!

Those dreams, for me, weren't just little dreams but nightmares because back when I was a waitress there, I always tried to keep a close eye on my customers and their wants/needs, etc., and the regular drivers knew that too. To have a group of angry customers virtually screaming at me in my sleep to "Move it! Move it!" and them not realizing how fast I was trying to go -well it was something that really scared me to have dreams about that place and that happening to me.

I suppose part of those dreams came from the fact that my legs no longer cooperate and allow me to move near as quickly as I used to be able to do and that, along with the fear of ever having to go back to doing that kind of work again must have been playing in my subconscious some where.

Thankfully, I haven't had that particular type of dream for a long, long time now.

However, in the past two weeks now I have had some really odd dreams though and my ex-husband has been the main player in them.

Now that is really odd because we've been divorced for almost 31 years now and this is the first that he has ever popped up in any of my dreams.

Last night, the dream was sooooo strange and had so many weird things in it, I have no clue where any of these visuals could possibly have originated, especially with my ex-husband playing a lead role.

This one was strange, funny and also, really scary to me and when I woke up from it, I was on the verge of tears.

In it, there was my ex-husband, my son, my ex-brother-in-law and some other guy who I didn't recognize, didn't know the face or his name -but all males in the cast anyway.

My ex and my son were both dressed in these one-piece spandex outfits -you know, the kind that high school and college wrestlers wear -wrestling singlets is what they are called - and they had a big tractor-trailer parked alongside my house (a lo-boy -the kind of trailer that is often used to haul heavy equipment type stuff) and they were loading this stuff that supposedly was in my back yard onto this trailer and when they started to pull away, my son waved goodbye to me, calling out that he was going away to live with his Dad.

Now, if that wasn't just the weirdest combination ever though! My ex has never driven any kind of big rigs, although my son does that for a living but he has never driven anything hauling heavy equipment or cars -other than just towing some of his junkers he's owned over the years to the junk yard. Why my ex-brother-in-law was with them is anyone's guess but I'm thinking he might have been on my mind as a friend of mine was just inquiring about him a couple days ago.

And the outfits -those wrestling uniform type things -well, that was just the weirdest thing of all because neither my ex or my son EVER has had occasion to wear anything like that and if you'd see either of them, you'd definitely understand why too! Both of them are very slim, especially my son, who is also quite tall too! Certainly outfits like that are not made for either of them to show off their lovely physiques!

But why did it have me ready to cry?

Because my ex was laughing at me when my son was telling me he was leaving and going to live with or near his Dad and he was taunting me about that.

Maybe because way back when my son was 12 years old, the kids Dad had tried to convince the boy to come and live with him and perhaps what once was a strong inner fear then had come forward again to kind of haunt me.

That still doesn't explain why in blazes they were clad in those outfits though and that, at least, provided a bit of humor for me when I was trying to explain the dream to Mandy this morning.

Maybe wrestling stuff has been in the back of my mind of late because Penn State's wrestlers won some kind of championship this year. I can't tell you what the title is that they won because I don't pay that much attention to that sport but I do know there's been a lot in the sports news lately about this so I guess that must have filtered through to the inner depths of my brain some how.

But I'm not going to try to analyze these things any more than I already have and I'm gonna put them out of my mind too as nothing but the strange inner workings of my mind I guess.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Did I tell you before about my other daughter's fiance and one of his obsession that led to a really neat gag Christmas gift from Mandy?

You know, when I sit down and start to think of things to write about, sometimes the things that pop into my mind are rather discombobulated but, the thing is, since I often suffer from what we refer to here as either "senior moments" or more recently, as having a bit of "chemo brain drain" the thing is, when some of these topics pull up a little story in my past -either distant or more recent -if I don't write about it when the thought enters, then it becomes lost in the fog of my brain.

Like right now for instance -I'm having a discussion of sorts with Kurtis, one that is not exactly wanted either because I was trying to concentrate and remember the details I really wanted to write about here and he, well, he was supposed to be finishing up his supper. The key to finishing up his supper though had a lot to do with his exuberance and desire to just talk -and talk, and talk, and yes, did I mention, talk some more.

Okay, this is an ongoing problem, for sure as he pokes around, fiddling with his food and constantly chattering while doing that. So much chattering that he forgets to eat and also, because the chatter generally involves 20 questions or more too, if I happen to be doing something -like trying to concentrate and write -at the computer, my train of thought often flies right out the window.

Tonight, he decided he had eaten an adequate amount of the roast beef, parslied potatoes and candied carrots and asked if it was okay then for him to put his plate out by the sink. Yeah, go for it and then, you know what you have to do, don't you, I had asked him.

His answer -"Yes, listen!" Well, okay that's part of the rule but what else besides listening is needed was my next question. To which he had replied "Sit on the couch?"

Yeah, Kurtis, that's right but what else do you have to do?

He gave me the correct answer there "Be quiet" and I then asked him -fool that I am -if he knew what it means to "be quiet" and can you guess what the answer was to that?

"No talking!" Woo hoo! A break through there, I thought. But sadly enough I was mistaken about his understanding of that bit of instruction as the very first thing he did after taking his plate to the kitchen was to come up to me, at the computer, and begin rattling some more directives off to me -most of which I was also unable to understand either!

ARRGH! Sometimes, ya know, I just want a few extra minutes of uninterrupted time!

And now, back to my original story.

Seems the daughter's fiance has this thing he does, like clockwork, every single day as soon as he comes home from work as he goes through the entire house, checking every single door and window to make sure each one is latched (locked) properly.

When she told my son and I about this habit of his, we asked her why he insists on doing that and she said his reasoning is that he wants to make sure of the security in and around their house.

Say what?

Yeah, you read that correctly and as you can well imagine too since most of you know a little about my sense of humor (and my son's often mirrors mine), we both totally cracked up laughing and couldn't wait to get back home to tell Mandy about this. She too found the whole story really comical too and as this happened shortly before Christmas and she was in her normal mode of searching online for various nifty little gift items, it just so happened she came across a tee shirt, adult sizing of course, that said just one word "SECURITY" and she quickly ordered that shirt to give to him for his gift that year. Funniest thing about it ultimately though was that the only ones who got the joke -me, my son, Mandy and my older daughter. It went right over his head and below his knees at the time and older daughter had to explain it to him on their way home!

And all this talk then about security and stuff brings to mind something that also happened earlier this evening when Sammy began barking loudly and I heard someone banging on the front door. I went to open the door and couldn't get it to open -because apparently someone in the house had decided to invent his own form of home automation and security by locking the darned front door!

Seems that Kurtis, for whatever reason I have no clue, had yes, gone and locked the front door so his mother, coming back from working out at the church, was unable to get in until I could figure out which lock it was he had turned on there!

Kids! Just one big "go figure" with 'em and that doesn't change all that much sometimes even after they are adults -grown and out of the house!

Don't Touch!

Kids! The things they get into.

Thankfully, thus far, Maya and Kurt aren't yet into the phase of getting into big people things and using them -or trying to use them, let's put it that way.

I can hardly wait for that bit of turmoil to begin!

Remember, I've been down that road before ya know, with three kids of my own and boy, some of the things that they -well, mostly my son -got into. It's a wonder I didn't go bald a long, long time ago from pulling my own hair out with him!

When we moved into this house -which had belonged to my Mom and my Grandparents before her -there were all kinds of things here -shovels, spades, hoes, rakes (garden and lawn variety), tools of just about every type imaginable too -wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, saws -you name it, my Grandpa had it either in the basement, the old garage or the old wood shed.

Somehow or other, just about every type of gardening equipment as well as the wide variety of tools -for carpentry, plumbing, other types of work you need special equipment for to do household repairs -has virtually disappeared over the years.

Back when I was working at my first ever full-time job (at the old Cigar Factory up in Philipsburg) and earning all of $1.25 an hour too, I bought a set of cutlery that was, even back then, quite pricey. The set contained a butcher knife, a chopping knife, a carving knife and bread knife, along with a trimmer knife and paring knife. There was also a full set of other cooking tools plus, as an added bonus, a set of 12 steak knives. I still have, I think, all of the spoons and utensils as well as all the knives in the main set however, the steak knives have all completely disappeared over the years as has the trimmer knife.

To be totally honest too, the carving knife that I currently use though is not the one that came with the original set. That knife, although still in my knife drawer, is not all that useful as utility knives go since my son decided to use it to trim the base of a Christmas Tree with it one year. Nope, that might have been a darned nice carving knife, serrated edges, stainless steel, and all that good stuff, but up against the trunk of a nice pine tree, it didn't have quite enough edge to it!

The steak knives -those items are also among the missing thanks to my dear son too! I have no clue what on earth purposes he may have had in mind when he snuck each of them out, over time -probably used 'em for digging roads for his Tonka trucks early on and then later, after he'd depleted my supply of other tools, used the knives as make-shift screwdrivers or some such thing.

The trimmer knife -which was really my overall favorite of the whole bunch -well, actually I've gone through two of those. One which I think my son may have lost somewhere along the line and which I replaced and the second one, which even had an ivory handle whereas all the rest had a dark brown handle, I rather suspect my ex-son-in-law managed to inadvertently dispose of in the trash.

Don't ask me why or how he could have done that, but seeing as I have searched high and low in this house, every possible nook and cranny where it could have been left or landed -whatever -and it has never turned up after he had used it last!

Isn't it just such fun and games though as one travels through life wondering where in the heck all these things do go?

Little Mishaps

This morning, Kurtis was playing here in the living room with Sammy, the dog -chasing him all over the place, grabbing one of Sam's toys and then, playing their own little game of "tug of war" here.

Sounds sort of peaceful enough on the surface, doesn't it?

Well let me tell you, appearances are really deceiving.

The flooring in the living room and dining room in this house are both hardwood floors. Granted, they need refinished but no point in having that done while these two kids -heathens that they can be at times -are the way they are these days!

And this morning was darned good proof of that too.

Kurtis was running around, chasing Sammy and didn't have shoes on -just in his stocking feet and in the process of their playing, Sammy managed to get tangled up under Kurt's feet, which sent Kurtis flying, face first on to the floor.

Of course, he immediately burst into tears as I'm quite sure it didn't feel very good to land the way he did and so, Mandy tried to calm him down, got him to get up and come over to where she was sitting -just in front of where he had landed -and she tried to elicit from him the usual information about where he was hurting.

So, she asked him, "Kurtis, where did you get hurt?"

His response was to point to a spot on the floor and he said, "Right there!"

Which of course had both Mandy and I giggling then and he was really a bit confused I suppose, wondering why Mommy and Gram were both laughing at him when he'd just gone a-over-teacups!

Eventually, Mandy did get him to point, appropriately, to whatever area on his abdomen or arms he had landed on and yes, a kiss on those spots made for a very quick recovery then too.

However, judging by the way he immediately began the chase all over again with the dog on the hardwood floors, I guess he still didn't learn his lesson there.

But boy, just think how much faster he probably would have gone into a slide if these floors were all resanded, refinished and polished up though?

A Bit of an Eye-Opener!

Boy, with the way prices are going up lately, seems everything is coming under scrutiny these days as people are trying to find some way to get the things they need for less money!

I know, for myself, I'm trying to limit how much driving I do so I can save a few bucks at least on gasoline now. Sheesh, it's back up to $3.69 a gallon here now and that's for the regular gas, not any of the supposedly High-Test stuff. Fortunately, I don't have to run here and there all that often and usually can manage to get the groceries I need or other things if/when I do have to run over to Clearfield for a doctor's appointment or lab work at the hospital.

Make one trip do for any many as I can -that's my mantra these days.

Ken -Mandy's friend -was doing a bit of complaining, of sorts, recently about the cost of his car insurance as he was paying about the same just for liability coverage as Mandy and I each pay for full coverage so he had Mandy doing some research for him online to try to find some cheap auto insurance. To be honest, I don't think such an animal exists but what the heck do I know.

Frankly, I've long ago decided I will stay with the company I deal with because I've had my insurance with them for close to 30 years now and thus far, for the coverage I have (and Mandy too, as she deals with the same company) I'm very happy with them and their rates.

Sure, a little less would be nice I suppose, but I do have a couple little extras in there that would run a bit higher with other companies and I don't care to do without them.

That, plus the fact that any time we've had to file a claim, we've received very good, fast service too and that, plus the fact, I think if you move your coverage around too much, you may end up with a company that cancels you too as soon as you do need their services.

So, guess I'll just deal with what I consider to be the tried and true then.

Springing Up...

The past two weeks here we've had several days that were definitely of the teaser type -sunny, bright, breezy and yes, even a bit on the warm side too. One day, as a matter of fact, the evening news broadcast said that it had reached a high of 70 degrees (that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius, folks)!

Unfortunately, I think the very next day or maybe two days later, something like that, the temps dropped back down to making us think it was still January or February!

But, the fact remains that spring is definitely right around the corner now and warmer weather should be arriving to stay most any day now. (Can't get here soon enough to suit me!)

And, before you know it, the grass will begin to grow and once that starts, in now time, it will be pretty much out of control too.

Now that's one aspect of spring, summer and even fall weather that I don't look forward to. Of course, keeping the lawn mowed is a chore that I no longer worry about because there's no way I can get out there and run the lawn mower to keep the grass at a decent level. Last year, Mandy generally had a guy up the road from us come down and keep the grass cut. But, were Mandy or I to try to keep up with that job, we sure would need a new lawn mower that would be easy for either of us to handle -preferable a nice big riding one like oh say, maybe something from the simplicity zero turn mowers selection. Granted, were we to get one of those, it surely would mean we'd struck gold, oil and hit the lottery though because of course, the ones that caught my eye were the ones in the top dollar category.

Right now -like today -it was nice outside, at least to look at but it was still a bit on the nippy side. When I took Sammy out for our walk today, I still needed to bundle up in my winter coat, nice heavy hat of Mandy's plus had my scarf around my neck to keep the drafts out there as well.

But cold as it has still been here, it hasn't stopped the early flowers from popping through the ground in the front flower beds. I see that we will be enjoying a few tulips, crocus/daffodils and hyacinths too probably by the end of April at the rate they are coming up now.

Here's hoping too that the predictions I've seen for next week though don't come to fruition and kill those pretty posies off in the process cause I've seen more than enough snow, icy rain, sleet and such for this winter!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Be Prepared!

I wrote the other day here about how I almost got stranded with my jeep -30 miles from home -when the latch on the driver's door wouldn't fasten but thankfully, with some information I got from my ex-brother-in-law auto mechanic and a hand from two young fellows in the vicinity, I was able to get that problem taken care of and got back home without any more problems. Ken checked out the door the next day and said he put some stuff on it -probably that good old WD-40 or something along those lines -to keep the latch well lubricated and in working condition for me.

But you know, that brings my mind to thinking then too about other issues - things that can happen to a person when you're on the road, whether you're running a quick errand not that far from home or on a longer trip - such as all the trips my kids and I have had to take over the past five years down to Pittsburgh and back to the hospitals and doctors there.

We've been very fortunate in that we've never had to call for emergency assistance on any of those trips. There was the one instance a year ago this May though when the ER department of the hospital in Clearfield DID have the local ambulance transport me down to Pittsburgh when they thought I had an obstruction in my bowel and also, when they started to administer the first chemo treatment back in early September at the Cancer Clinic and I had a severe allergic reaction to that particular type of chemo and they had to have an ambulance come and transport me from the Clinic up the hill to the emergency room of the hospital -not even 1/4 of a mile away!

But even so, it is something to stop and think about how a person would handle a situation if you were traveling and were in an accident. How would you or someone else traveling with you arrange then to get back home if your vehicle was badly damaged or totalled? And, with Mandy and me, suppose we were on one of those trips and had the kids with us -how would we get them back home then too?

Just some food for thought you know about some things many of us never think about.

The Plan for Pretties...

So this evening, Mandy was sitting at the table, looking through a catalog of some sort and I glanced over to see what it was and boy, did I get a surprise.

She was checking out seeds and bulbs from a Flower catalog!

Mandy has always taken a very limited -and the key word here really is "limited" interest in any type of gardening. Oh yeah, she did plant a couple of tulip plants and some daffodils a few years back and occasionally of late, she has been kind of half-heartedly playing with the garden rake on what is supposed to be a flower bed in the front of the house. But overall, that's been about all the interest she's ever shown in that aspect of "decorating" around the exterior of the house.

I'm not one who can talk here though because when it comes to flowers in particular I have no knowledge about growing that kind of stuff, when to plant things, how to plant flowers so that you will end up with a balanced group of blooming things.

And if you put the two of us together messing with that kind of stuff, it spells one thing -disaster!

I've tried a couple of times to get one or two plants of the indoor variety to grow and in each case I killed the poor plants. Well, there was one ivy plant that somehow managed to survive here for almost three years which is truly a record for this house.

I should maybe show her this site about a hydroponics system and tell her this is the kind of setup she really needs to make her garden grow!

Actually, what we really would require is a way to have plants, indoors as well as outdoors, that can thrive with no water, no one weeding around them and certainly, no one talking to them, coaxing them to grow like the nice little posies they were meant to be.

But, apparently Ken has given her some ideas about beautification by having a nice flower garden and if he can nudge her along in that kind of stuff, more power to him.

I know one person who would be happy to look down on the place and see bunches and bunches of flowers of a whole lot of varieties blossoming here and that would be my Grandpa.

He really had a green thumb you see and had a beautiful rose garden along the front of the side yard, several kinds of flowers in the beds across the front of the house as well as a very pretty rose bush that grew on a trellis right by the middle window in the old sun porch and when it was in bloom, it was always so nice to sit out on the sun porch -or better yet, to sleep out there on hot summer nights -and the aroma from those roses would then waft into the room, gently lulling you to sleep with their sweet scent.

So who knows but maybe she has a bit of his green thumb hiding deep inside of her and just waiting to come forward to assist her in her garden plans.

Sure would be nice!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coming Together!

In my last posts, I told you about going down to Karthaus on Sunday to be able to have a little bit of a visit with one of my closest friends from high school -Cheryl. She lives in Florida and along with her brother, Don, (also a Florida resident) and their younger sister, Barbara, who lives in Idaho, were to be here for almost a week as they tended to the difficult task of going through their childhood home, their Mom's furniture and other belongings and then, determining if they would try to sell many of their Mom's possessions or donate them to some great charitable organizations in the area.

That's one job I'd really hate to have to do -to rip apart my family home, where I grew up, ya know. Their Mom is still living -thankfully -and doing quite well at the age of 93, living in Idaho now with the younger of her daughters. But in the past year, it was decided that it was too much of a strain on their Mom to come back to Pennsylvania every spring, stay through the early fall months in the family homestead, alone -and at her age. So in December, they had put the house up for sale, figuring that with the economy in general being so punk and the economy in this area in particular not exactly a blossoming thing, that it would no doubt take a long time to sell the house.

Surprisingly enough though, the house sold within two weeks after they listed it! A really remarkable event for this area, for sure. And this week was the only time that the three siblings could all get back here to Pennsylvania to take care of the furniture and the rest of their Mom's belongings still in the house.

I was really happy that on Sunday when we went over to Karthaus for our brief visit that my older daughter, Carrie, and my grandson Alex, were here to go with me as Carrie is the only one of my children who really ever knew Cheryl, her husband, Mitch, and two of their three children. Carrie was happy too that she had the chance to see Cheryl again as the last time she saw her was when Alex was just a very tiny baby -a little over 13 years ago!

But that visit Sunday was way too brief and Cheryl very much wanted to have a chance for us to connect a little further so she arranged for her cousin, Sharon -also a very close friend of mine from our high school days too -to meet us at The Tavern Restaurant in State College. Her sister, Barbara, also joined us and we had a really great meal along with a lot of fun talking over things from the past, current things in our lives and even a bit about what the future holds (maybe) for us.

Like a lot of my other blogger friends like to do, I had given thought that I would take photographs initially of the great food each of us ordered along with some snapshots, for posterity, of Cheryl, Sharon and Barbara. Yeah, it was a nice thought but not one that came to mind for me until well after we'd eaten and were beginning to wind down, talking about going back to our respective homes or motel room, in the case of Cheryl and Barb! I'm getting to be quite the master of having "senior moments" especially where my camera is concerned, aren't I?

However, I did remember I had brought my camera along in time to at least get these three pictures of my three supper companions and I'd like to at least share those pictures with you.

This is my good friend, Sharon -who lives in State College, has e-mail and yet, we rarely see each other it seems. The last time I saw Sharon was two years ago this month when she and her sister, Connie, made it up this way for one of our monthly lunch bunch meetings and which was also the last time -before Sunday -that I'd seen Cheryl then too! When I mentioned to my daughter Mandy that it had been two years since I'd last seen Sharon, she laughed and teased me that she has seen Sharon on a goodly number of occasions in that two year period as she has often run into her when she's been over in State College shopping!

This lovely lady -the baby of our group tonight -is Cheryl's sister, Barbara. Talk about not seeing someone in a long, long time -I figured out after I got home tonight that before seeing Barbara on Sunday at their Mom's home, the last time before then that I'd seen her was probably in mid-August of 1963, when Cheryl and Mitch got married! I used to remember Cheryl's anniversary date easy as pie but now, I'm not quite sure of the date! I know it was in August of 1963 and I think it was August 14th, but I won't swear to that as being the correct date. Barb looks so much like their Mom though it's downright eerie!

And this, last but definitely not least, is my very dear friend, Cheryl! Doesn't she look fantastic though? I tease her as well as one of our other classmates -Rose, who usually attends our monthly lunch functions -that it just isn't fair to the rest of us for them to each look so darned great after raising a family, now being Grandma's too and all that stuff.

Cheryl and I have something else in common too though. Something I wouldn't really recommend others try to vie for this record though as we have both joined the ranks of being cancer survivors -not just once, but twice. for each of us. What I find a bit strange though is that Cheryl was diagnosed in 1990 or 1991 with endometrial cancer and then 3 years ago, with colo-rectal cancer whereas I was diagnosed in 2003 with colo-rectal cancer and last August with endometrial-uterine cancer! We each had virtually the same diagnoses but in opposite order.

We -Cheryl and I -share a lot of other things too though -one being our political/social beliefs as we both believe in the same political party and theories as well as having like-minds about many of our social policies in this country too. That aspect is something that anytime we have a chance to get together and talk always makes me feel quite comfortable as I don't have to explain my logic in my beliefs to her. She knows exactly where I'm coming from and why I feel and believe the way I do because we are virtually of one mind in that respect.

What's really sad though is that as close as Cheryl, Sharon and I have tried to stay over the years, even with all the technology and stuff there is available today too, we sure don't stay in what could ever be termed constant contact though! It really is downright pathetic for me to admit that I only live about 40 miles from Sharon and yet, it had been two years since the last time I'd seen her.

With Cheryl, of course, there is a bigger, possibly better, excuse why we haven't been able to get together in person and that is because with her living in Florida and me in Pennsylvania, well her trips back home aren't all that frequent and for me, well I'm still waiting to figure out a way to manage a trip to Florida sometime before my time on earth ends!

There is a good possibility that we might actually manage to see each other again sometime this year though as they are planning a trip up I think in June for a college class reunion for her husband, Mitch, as well as maybe a couple trips up in the fall to watch Penn State's Nittany Lions during football season.

I'm looking forward to those times already and hope we can figure out a time that is mutually agreeable for all of us to get together once again.

I'm always up for another visit such as this one tonight was -just so nice to be able to reconnect with some very good old friends, ya know!

Remembering things from those good old days always makes me feel a good bit younger then than what my actual age says I am!

Nothing wrong with that at all, is there?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Small World, Indeed!

Yesterday, that would be this past Sunday, my older daughter and her son, Alex, and I took a little drive over the mountain to another little "local" village here -one I haven't been to in many a year now.

The reason for our drive over and down to Karthaus was because my closest friend from high school was down at her family home along with her brother and sister as they were clearing out her Mom's belongings -clothes, furniture, etc. Her Mom, who is now 93 years old, had stopped a year ago from spending her winters in Florida with her surviving son and her summers back here, alone in the family home in Karthaus. But up until 2 years ago, she was coming here usually in late March and staying by herself there and then, returning to her son's home in Florida in/around October or so. Quite a darned good feat for someone in that age range to still be able to be self-sufficient like that up till she was almost 92 years old, don't you think?

Well, last year, it was decided her health, though not terrible, just really wasn't up to the par level her kids felt it should be for her to stay there alone and so, last year, she had gone to Idaho to spend the year with her younger daughter who lives out west there. Apparently she liked the climate and location and such with her younger daughter because she then decided she would stay on out in Idaho.

Back in December, my friend (Cheryl) and her siblings had decided to put their Mom's house on the market. Because this area is a very depressed area and real estate is usually pretty slow to sell here, they figured it would be a long haul before they would get a buyer for the house. However, they got a big surprise when someone bought the place within two weeks after the house was put up for sale!

With the house sale set to close the end of March, Cheryl and her two siblings then were faced with the task of clearing everything out of the house and the only time that the three of them could get back home at the same time was this past week -from March 18th through this Wednesday, the 23rd. They had initially hoped to have an auction sale but that fell through and somehow, within two days of hard work trying to organize their Mom's things and sort through items they each wanted to keep too, they did manage to have a little "house sale" then yesterday.

So, that's why Carrie, Alex and I made the little trip down river to Karthaus.

I was really glad that Carrie (and Alex too) were here and able to go over with me as Carrie is the only one of my kids who really knows Cheryl and her husband, Mitch. Also, the last time Cheryl had seen Carrie -and the only time she'd ever seen Alex -was when he was just a tiny baby, probably only a month, maybe two months old and boy, he sure has changed -and grown -a heck of a lot since then!

It was so nice to be able to visit a little with Cheryl and her siblings as well as to see some folks from down river I hadn't seen in a long while -like another former Classmate, Herb, and his wife Donna. Always good, in my way of thinking, when you can have an enjoyable visit with old friends like that.

While we were talking though, Cheryl's sister told me a story about what had happened recently to her back at her home in Idaho.

Barbara said that she generally attends Mass every Sunday and when she does, she take communion home then to her Mom. A few weeks back, she was unable to get to Mass so had made arrangements with someone at the church to have communion brought to her Mom. Then, last week when she realized she would again be out-of-town over the weekend, she contacted that couple to see if they would be so kind to please bring communion to her Mom in her absence.

The lady assured Barbara that they would do that and no problem, that type of arrangement. Barbara happened then to mention that she was going to be in Pennsylvania to clear out her Mom's home there and the lady asked her where in Pennsylvania she was going. Barb had explained that this is a small village, out in the sticks of central Pennsylvania and most likely the only town near to here that she figured the lady would have heard of was State College and Penn State University.

The woman told Barb then that oh yes, she knew exactly where State College is because they (she and her husband) are from Clearfield County -which is the county where Cheryl's hometown, as well as mine, are located. Upon hearing that, Barb then told her that her hometown is Karthaus and here's where the real surprise came in. The lady then told her that they are from Grassflat -which is where I live!

Barb asked me then if I know any people here in town -now or years back -with the last name of Petro and I said definitely, I do. So she then asked me if I know a Paul Petro and his wife, Karen? Well, I don't know his wife, but Paul grew up about 6-7 houses down the street from my place!

Incredible, isn't it, to be in Idaho, a thousand plus miles away from Pennsylvania and to have someone you've never met before be the person who brings communion to your home for your mother and then, to learn that they just happen to be from the same region in Pennsylvania as you are from! (And from the same school district too!)

Isn't that just amazing though?

As Barb said to me about this event, "The world really is small and getting smaller every day or so it seems at times."

Yes, indeed it is Barb!

And now, tomorrow evening, I get to reunite with Cheryl and Barb, along with their cousin Sharon -also one of my very good high school friends -for dinner over in State College at The Tavern.

And I'm really looking forward to that!

And we'll make the world just a teensy bit smaller during the time we'll have to spend over our meal, you can bet money on that!

Lock It Up!

So, this afternoon I had to make a drive over to Curwensville because I had a doctor's appointment there with my primary care physician. Had to take all the meds I have here that I use with me so they could go over the bottles, check the dosage, all that happy stuff, ya know.

How it happened that I left the house a little later than I should have in order to arrive there on time for my appointment is something I still don't understand because one minute it was 12:30 and the next, sheesh, it was 1:45 and my appointment was -I thought -for 2:15, but turns out I had the time wrong too. It was actually for 2:00 p.m. so I arrived late and ended up having to reschedule said appointment then for this Friday.

Oh well, guess I am slowing down more than I thought I was these days. But my tardiness is not the point of this post. Just setting the scene, you could say I guess.

When I arrived at the doctor's office, got out of the car and slammed the car door shut, I got a little bit of a surprise because the door of my trusty little old jeep wouldn't shut!

Nope! Just gave a clanking noise and bounced back open again.

I tried to look at the latch mechanism to see if I could figure anything out on my own but, true to form, my unmechanical ability was coming through loud and clear and I didn't have clue one as to what I could do myself to fix this situation.

So, with my driver's side door hanging wide open, in I went to the waiting room and to speak to the receptionist on duty.

First, I asked her if she might, by chance, happen to have a Phillips screwdriver handy there because I had noticed this much about the latch mechanism -there were two big bolts there and they both required a Phillips screwdriver to work on them! (Give me 10 points there for being observant of that and knowing too the difference between a plain screwdriver and one with a Phillips head. Some good actually came from having been married to a mechanic and having a son who likes to tinker too with various tools.)

I also asked her to call my daughter as I figured if I couldn't get things squared away and drive home with the door to the jeep closed, safely, I'd have to have her or Ken come get me and get the door working again.

Well, the receptionist dialed the number for me and handed me the phone and as I stood there, listening to the rings, I remembered Mandy had gone upstairs to try to get Kurtis to take a much-needed nap (and to take a nap herself too) and her cordless phone, which is normally on the hook in her room, was laying on the end table beside my recliner. Rats! With that phone downstairs on that table, I knew she'd never hear the incoming call just ringing away.

So, back to the drawing board I went as I tried to think who the heck I could call then!

Ah ha! Every now and again I do have a "let's use all parts of the brain" moment and I had the other recepionist -Wanda (who I have known since she was just a little bitty thing) looked up the number for me of the garage in Clearfield where my lovely ex-brother-in-law works -as an auto mechanic -and a darned good one he is at that!

So I got Uncle Tom on the line and explained my dilemma to him and, as he has done for me and my kids on too many previous occasions to begin to remember, he told me things I could do in order to get the locking system to work so I could then return home.

Back out to the jeep I went with the good old Phillips screwdriver in hand and tried my level best to get these two big old bolts screwed back in tightly but with no luck. (The one was, as I had suspected, stripped out and was sort of like a car, stuck in the mud -revolutions galore but just spinning tires, if you know what I mean by that.)

About that time, and after having said numerous words that turned the air around me probably a fine shade of blue, I saw two young fellows leaving the apartment building adjacent to the doctor's office and I called out to them, asking if either of them knew anything about car door lock systems.

They came over and looked at the situation and the one guy then moved the bolt that was in the stripped out region to another open slot and he managed to get that bolt and the other one, each screwed in tightly so when he attempted to close the jeep's door, it actually latched!

"God bless your pea-picking little heart," I told the young man, and then also told him "I'll buy you a beer when you're old enough!"

He laughed at that telling me he was already old enough. So then, I told him that if he knows my ex-brother-in-law and which local pub he hangs at, to go up to him and tell him that his sister-in-law said for him to buy this guy a brew and I'd repair Uncle Tom next time I see him then with a six pack!

The fun thing about this whole event though was that I had taken with me the last tablecloth I just finished last week along with the tulip one I had done for Mandy's birthday for the sole purpose of showing them to the receptionist in the doctor's office. That Wanda happened to be working there today was just icing on that cake though.

Wanda informed me she had seen the pictures of the tulip tablecloth on my Facebook photos and had immediately called her Mom to tell her about that tablecloth. She then informed me that she has a set of pillow cases, hand-embroidered, in a tulip pattern identical to the one on my tablecloth. And furthermore, she said it had been embroidered by her grandfather, the late Wayne Raymond! (Keep in mind here I knew Wanda's family quite well -her parents as well as her grandparents too!)

Now if you'd ever known her grandfather, learning that he had been very adept at doing exquisite needlework would probably come to you as a big surprise the same as learning this about him did to me! And, Wanda understood completely when I said that was incredible to learn that about her Grandfather.

She said yes, it was something quite extra-ordinary and went on to tell me that her Mom is now in the process of teaching her son, Isaac, who is probably 10 or 11 years old, how to do embroidery work too -and not just that but also that he LOVES doing that stuff!

So, imagine that! Not only did I manage, with a little bit of assistance, to get my car dilemma fixed -at least for the time being anyway -but I also learned about a man I had known much of my life who did embroidery work as a hobby (and did it extremely well too) but that his great-grandson was no also going to be carrying that tradition forward.

Oh, and I'll be posting some pictures of the most recent tablecloth in the near future, just as soon as I can figure out a way to lay the cloth out to show it in the best light possible.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Celebrating the Irish...

Today -well, actually it's yesterday now since I'm writing this at 2 a.m. Friday, the 18th -was as everyone is aware, St. Patrick's Day.

It's a time when everyone or darned near everyone anyway, becomes a bit Irish, isn't it?

I've always "celebrated" St. Patrick's Day -often with several mugs of green beer too.

This year, for our "family" dinner this past Sunday I cooked a nice brisket of corned beef along with the potatoes, carrots and of course, cabbage for Mandy, my son and his girlfriend and myself all to enjoy. Didn't figure the kids would partake of this since they tend not to care for meat and potatoes but to my surprise, Maya and Kurtis both ate a little of the dinner and without a major hassle either -except for the cabbage -which they both pulled that substance off to the side and ignored it.

They each asked what that was and in an effort to avoid a lot of whining and complaining about how neither of them likes cabbage, I first told them to eat it, cause it's a vegetable. Well, the kids both turned into question boxes then and wanted to know the name of the vegetable so, continuing in my ploy to avoid saying "Cabbage" in front of them, I told them this was the "C" vegetable -a new item and very tasty. They bought that line long enough to at least taste the cabbage anyway.

Monday, I made my own corned beef hash by grinding up a little of the left over meat along with the leftover veggies and baked it -with some eggs broken on top of the hash. I figured by grinding the veggies all up, they'd get the cabbage and not even know it was in there and that actually worked! Not perfectly, but they ate a bit of the hash better that way than they would have if I'd simply just reheated the veggies and served it up.

Because I managed to volunteer to provide a dessert out at our church on three separate occasions over the coming month and I wanted to find something new, exciting-maybe -and different to fix, I bought one of those little cookbooks you see in the magazine racks at the store.

This one was all cupcakes! Some different recipes in some cases but a lot of them were neat and cute little ways to dress up cupcakes. I don't know why but I've never been big on making cupcakes for some reason or other but today, I decided to try this one recipe that looked really simple and interesting -St. Patrick's Day cupcakes!

It was an easy recipe -and no fancy decorating either -simply make this cake (from scratch) and add to it a package of instant pistachio pudding mix -which makes the cake a lovely light green shade. The frosting -also extremely simple -a can of cream cheese frosting with a couple drops of green food coloring in it.

Maya was quite excited about the cupcakes she saw when she arrived home from school. Mandy had been in town running some errands and had picked up a few groceries there which also included a box of six cupcakes too. So now, all of a sudden, we had 18, not just a dozen cupcakes here!

As Mandy looked around and saw that, she remarked to the new TSS here to work with Maya that this was the difference between a "modern" mother and a Grandma in that she had purchased cupcakes and Gram had made homemade cupcakes!

Then, she added to that thought by telling the TSS that this was one big way Gram is a lot different now than she was when Mandy was a kid because after all, Gram never made any special desserts for her and her siblings back then for St. Patrick's Day and why was that anyway?

My response?

I didn't have this cookbook back then!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Faulty Lens?

Back in December I finally got around to making an appointment to have my eyes checked and then, got myself not just one, but two new pair of much needed new glasses! (You know -one of those buy one pair, get the second pair for half price or some wacko deal like that -which according to my math, didn't exactly work out to what I thought it would, but anyway. I got the 2nd pair as my own insurance policy you could say. Since I am blind as a bat without my glasses, I figured if something happened to the one pair, like a broken lens or some such, I wouldn't be stuck and unable to see my hands before me then with a back-up pair.)

But anyway, so I got these new glasses, right? And I was kind of expecting miracles I guess that it would enable me to see, to read better but somehow or other now, other things are happening.

I find myself reading things but I am reading them incorrectly it seems. Mixing up words sometimes and kind of misplacing letters which then confuses the heck out of me and I have to go back and read and re-read stuff several times then as a result of that little problem.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing wrong with the lens on the new glasses but the rate with which these mix-ups are taking place has me wondering if I have developed a severe case of dyslexia in my old age!

Darned good thing I'm not looking for any finance jobs is it -considering how frequently I am mixing up numbers when I read!

About two weeks ago, I misread a viewing time for a friend who had died and mentioned this to my good friend, Shirley. We both had a good laugh over that because it seems she too is experiencing the same problem with her reading!

Misery does love company though, ya know!

Previous Employment Memory

Way back when, in the time I frequently now refer to as being "When I lived in the dark ages" (cause that's how old my kids have always thought me to be) I worked for that big outfit in D.C. that often strikes fear in to political rhetoric for their defense of the Second Amendment.

I figure most of you can figure out easily enough that I'm referring of course to the National Rifle Association.

I worked there for eight years and to be honest, I loved working there. I really did!

It's kind of funny though when I think back on how my beliefs were when I was hired were a bit skewed to be working for them though because I was a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, fairly strong feminist too back then and I firmly believed that the lack of gun control had been a major issue with respect to the assassination of President Kennedy.

When I left there, I was still a liberal, still on the feminist bandwagon too but my views on gun control had changed a bit by then.

But that isn't what I'm writing about here in this post. I'm writing about the last job I had while working there and that was being in charge of a program called "Coupon Awards."

This program was set up originally to provide awards of considerable value to those people who competed in various NRA sponsored competitions around the country through gun clubs who were registered with the NRA.

The first awards were pieces of sterling silver flatware and other decorative items made of sterling silver but some of the competitors began asking if there couldn't be other items made available to them to turn in their "coupons" they won at these competitions and so, my boss put me in charge of finding companies where we could purchase gift items of various types at wholesale and then, put together a catalog the competitors could request and make their selections from said catalog. Kind of like a "Green Stamp" type operation if you remember receiving those stamps when you purchased things at select stores that gave them out.

I really learned a lot while working to get that catalog put together and to set up plans with the companies we joined forces with for them to drop ship items ordered through the NRA directly to the competitors and had a lot of diverse items from which they could choose their prize -or gift -whichever you would care to call it.

I had items that people who enjoyed all types of guns -whether it be for competitions or for hunting -with companies where they could get things like Bausch and Lomb glasses and binoculars, bushnell rifle scopes, bench loading equipment on one hand as well as Corning dishes, Coleman camping items, to name a few things we lined up for their shopping pleasure.

Once the catalog was set up and in place, I then handled all the requests from the competitors from start to finish -to make sure they received the correct items and took care of any problems that could -and sometimes did -occur in the process too.

It was a very interesting job to see the program as it began and then grew to a point where it was profitable from all angles and gave me a great boost to my ego then to see it flourish as it did.

When I left that area and moved back to my hometown -where I still live today -I really missed not doing that work and not being able to find anything that provided as much of a challenge to me as that job had done.

But that was the choice I had made when I decided to return to living out in the sticks I guess.

Generational Wardrobe Gap?

Watching Maya play here in the house gets me to thinking about games I played too as a child -the pretend syndrome, ya know.

I used to get into one cupboard in my Grandparents room where I knew my Grandma had a big bag of very (and I do mean VERY) old dresses from around the turn of the century and I would try those dresses on to pretend to be going to some fancy dance or some such event.

Maya has a box full of items purchased with the sole intent of a child wearing them for pretending to be a princess or a ballerina.

When I was a year or two older than Maya is now, my heroine was the late Dale Evans and my dream was to be a cowgirl, complete with a holster set and 2 guns!

Okay, so I was a bit of a tomboy is what many would say about those childish visions I suppose.

Lately though, Maya has been really concentrating on dancing around in the living room, trying her level best (without instruction) to stand and then twirl on her tippy toes. She's now thinking along the lines of being either a ballerina or a cheer leader, since that's another outfit she has in her "pretend" bag of clothes.

When I was a kid, we used to play Cowboys (or cowgirls, I suppose) and Indians -no special outfits required for us to play in then.

I hope that Maya doesn't decide she wants to be a cowgirl now though cause then Mandy would have to go shopping for some kind of equestrian apparel I suppose. (I think the thrill of playing Cowboys and Indians has decreased because one rarely sees any western programs on the TV these days for kids to get ideas to copy that genre though.)

In truth, I do enjoy watching her run through the different outfits she has to wear in her pretend play. Imagination as it begins to blossom in young children is a really fascinating thing to observe, ya know.

Last summer, after watching the physician's assistant remove the staples from my abdomen (from my surgery), she wanted to be a doctor then. She's absolutely fascinated by any little cuts or bruises she might see on my arms or legs and goes running for the bandaid box to apply bandages to those tiny marks she finds and then tells me that she's making it all better for me.

Of course, one has to keep an eye on her ideas there because if you aren't careful and she finds those little bitty injuries, she's also just liable to decide to scratch at them till she gets the healing process disturbed and it begins to bleed then.

Makes me wonder if she reverts back to the idea of a career in medicine, just what kind of surgeon she might turn out to be since often she's the one inflicting the injury -or re-injuring it, at the very least anyway.

It's all in the name of play right now though, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Art Linkletter Was Right!!!

How many of you, my readers, remember the old Art Linkletter show, "People Are Funny?"

And if you, like me, watched that program way back when, you'll remember that he always had a segment called "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" and boy, is that ever the truth!

Having raised three kids of my own and now, working with my younger daughter here to help her see to raising her two youngsters, that segment of good old Mr. Linkletter's show comes back to me almost daily now!

The grandchildren here do say some really choice things from time to time, that's for sure!

Last week one day, Mandy was up in her room, putting clothes away and she heard Kurtis coming up the stairs. She knew since the door to his room as well as to Maya's room were each closed and her door was open, that he would be coming into her room as a result. So, she decided to play a little trick on him and she knelt down beside the dresser and when he came into the room, she jumped up at him, and yelled "RARRRGH!"

Well, she about scared the living daylights out of the poor kid, don't 'cha know!

She told me later that he immediately started to pout and got this "poor me, poor me" look he gets on his face so she felt sorry for him and hugging him, told him she was sorry to see she had evidently frightened him so much.

His response to her was a very somber one as he pointed his finger at her and said, "Yes, you did scare me and DON'T you ever do that to me again!"

You have to love not just what they say but also the way they say it too.

This past weekend, while Mandy and Ken had gone down to Maryland for a quick visit with Ken's family there, Kurtis and Maya spent Friday and Saturday night with Mandy's best friend and her family at their place about six miles from here.

On Saturday, Nick had taken Kurtis outside to show him some construction work that is taking place almost in their backyard which involves a guy working there running a backhoe apparently.

Now Kurtis loves virtually anything with an engine -cars, trucks, sure but also trains, planes and big, heavy equipment too. But, he'd never seen something like a backhoe actually in action so he just about went bonkers watching the guy running that machine!

Nick, Mandy's friend's husband, said he just jumped up and down, squealing for joy and kept saying over and over, "I just can't believe that. I just can't believe that!"

Tonight now, after being put to bed, he started calling that he wanted something but I was unable to make out from downstairs exactly what he wanted so up the steps to his room I had to go.

When I went in there, he wasn't fussing at all, but rather, had a question burning in the back of his mind.

"If you get something sticky in your hair, will it make you turn into a ball and stick to things?" is what he asked me.

HUH? What the heck kind of question is that was my initial thought! He had the tv in his room on so I glanced over at that to see if maybe there was something on there about things in your hair or some such but the Disney channel didn't have anything that looked remotely like it referenced something like the question he'd given to me.

So I had to kind of fake it and just reassure him that nothing was going to happen to his hair, assuming that was what he was worried about.

His next statement then showed what really was on his mind though as he told me, "I need chocolate milk!"

Well, alrighty then! Actually that came as no surprise to me because it's pretty much standard operating procedures with him on a nightly basis!

When I came downstairs then to get him more milk, I told Elizabeth, my son's girlfriend, what I thought he'd asked me and she laughed and gave me the correct translation.

Seems he had asked her earlier if you got chewing gum in your hair, would it make you go bald? And when he had tried to ask me a similar question about that subject, where he was actually saying "bald" I mistook that word to be "ball" -either way, he's happy now knowing he has nothing to worry about!

Just as long as he doesn't put chewing gum in his hair cause that might cause his mother to start pulling her own hair out then while trying to remove chewing gum from his.

But also, I think some of this comes from questions in his mind too as he tries to understand what happened to my hair and why I was bald for the past almost four months and am finally beginning to have some regrowth there on my head now!

At least, that's my theory about that and I'm sticking to it!

Are You Covered?

I'm quite sure you, like me, (and if you watch TV at all) have seen all the various ads there about insurance -car insurance, homeowners insurance and yes, life insurance too.


But did you know there are various steps you should take for example, if you want to purchase different types of insurance -steps that will tell you exactly how to buy life insurance online.
I personally adhere to the idea that purchasing insurance is a good thing to do. Granted, I suppose some people might get a bit carried away with that and could possibly make themselves "insurance poor" as a result, but it's something I think everyone should at least look into and purchase some type of insurance, even if all you can afford is a small policy, that is much better than having no insurance whatsoever.

But then, I developed my ideas about life insurance when I was just a child and the insurance agent who represented the company through which my grandparents as well as my mother had purchased policies then, came around to our house every month to collect on those policies and to also, from time to time, recommend that they review them to make sure their coverage was adequate.

My grandparents and my Mom were strong believers in carrying life insurance and they did a good job, I think, of putting that idea firmly into my mind then too. As a result, I have always had a life insurance policy on myself ever since I got my very first job. It was one of the first commitments I made way back then to take out a policy on ME so that if/when something happens to me, my kids now won't have to worry about how to pay for my funeral, at least!

Think about that aspect if you haven't already and especially if you don't already have life insurance.

Just one more way to protect your kids after you're gone, ya know!

A Real Blessing!

Did you know I have an anniversary -of sorts -coming up this week?

On March 17th, to be exact, it will be eight years since I was initially diagnosed with cancer -colo-rectal cancer to be precise.

I had chemotherapy and radiation, then surgery, then more chemotherapy after the therapy and although initially it was believed I would be able to rejoin the work force after the surgery and chemo, as things worked out, that wasn't to be.

I had a few other issues that came about and made me unable to return to work and as a result of that, I had to apply for social security disability.

When I first applied for disability, my application was turned down but I learned this is often the case and was advised then to re-apply. Thankfully, my second application was approved though and I then received disability until I turned 65, at which time, it was then switched over to regular social security retirement benefits.

Although at times it can be rather difficult to get approved for disability through social security, it is well worth appealing any decision that may have gone against you if you know that there is no way your system can withstand the physical and also, mental, pressures involved in holding down employment in your previous type of employment.

Since 2003, and my initial diagnosis, I have had several surgeries and also, last summer was diagnosed again with cancer. However this time it was a different form of cancer and not coming from the first diagnosis.

There are still many things I can do but I just can't do them in a sustained performance as I could before my illness and the complications that came about after the first surgery.

For openers, I can still type and for the most part, I can still think too. So I can occupy my time by writing my blog or e-mailing friends, things like that, which I don't have to do if my body is not being cooperative with me on any given day -which it does have a tendency now to be a bit contrary with me from time to time, ya know.

But ultimately I have to say this about the social security disability program and that is that it is truly a life saver as without that income, I would have lost my house and who knows what else and who knows where I would be today without that as well as medicare!

Two wonderful programs, both of which need to be maintained for generations to come because none of us knows what might befall us and prevent us from earning a living.

Udderly ...Interesting? Maybe.

Tonight for supper I decided to experiment a bit and make my own homemade corned beef hash. I had a good big of the potatoes and carrots, as well as the cabbage, left over from yesterday's dinner (had some nice slices of the meat too, in case you're wondering about that) and I figured if I just heated up the veggies, I'd get the same-old, same-old argument from the kids about not wanting to eat that because they don't like potatoes, or they don't like carrots and they don't like that other vegetable in that mixture either. (Yesterday, when they each pointed to the cabbage and asked what that was, I started out just telling them it was a vegetable and didn't say the name as I knew just hearing "Cabbage" would set them into an uproar. Eventually Maya asked more questions about the vegetable, being the little question box she is, ya know, so I ended up telling them the name of the vegetable was simply the "C" vegetable. Maya also wanted to know why it was named the "C" vegetable and I finally got out of that story by just saying that I didn't know why, but that's what it is called.)

So I figured if I fed this leftover stuff, all of it, into my little food chopper and chopped it up, then tried to brown it a tad in the frying pan, the cabbage would get kind of ground up and mixed in then with the potatoes, carrots and the couple pieces of meat I chopped up like that too. And it did sort of work in that Maya did eat most of the serving of hash that Mandy gave her. As an added attraction, when I stuck this combo in the oven, I added eggs to the mix by making a little indentation in the hash and cracking an egg into that so then the eggs "baked" -got kind of like poached eggs on the hash ya know. Maya did eat the egg on her serving along with most of the hash but Kurtis was his normal picky little self and took a couple of bites then ate toast. Oh well. Mandy and I both enjoyed the hash a lot anyway.

Towards the end of the meal, Kurtis decided it was high time that someone gave him some milk to drink, so Mandy poured a small glass for each of the kids. (Actually, only Kurt had milk as Maya wanted water.) Anyway, as he picked up his glass to take a drink, he asked us if there is water in milk. We told him no and Maya, being the little instructor now on virtually everything, decided she was going to explain about milke to Kurtis.

"Milk doesn't have water in it because it comes from cows," she very matter-of-factly informed her little brother. Then she started to try to give him a visual by demonstrating a little with her hands about cows and how they have these things that hang down and you grab hold of them and pull on them and that's how you get milk! It was really a cute demonstration on her part and she then asked Mandy what those things are called so sure, we both answered her question by telling her they are called udders.

But anyway, Mandy and I thought it was a really cute, pretty accurate description -"udderly correct" as a matter of fact -of where and how you get milk from cows!

This evening, I decided to check out what was on the PBS channel tonight since all it said for the evening viewing tonight on that channel was "Viewers Favorites" -which translated means pretty much it was a pot luck thing if you clicked that channel on as you wouldn't know in advance if it was going to be a favorite program of yours or perhaps of 50 million other viewers and was one you really didn't like at all.

However, I really lucked out tonight there as the show was a video made in 1980 of a reunion of "The Weavers" - a really great quartet singing group from the 50s primarily who ended up being black-balled back then due to Sen. McCarthy and his anti-communist hearings.

The program -two hours worth -was well worth watching! Great music to listen to them singing and also, the dialogue between the singers too was so interesting -Pete Seeger was one of the best known musicians in that group.

What was really sad though watching this group in clips from way back and also from the Reunion Concert in 1980 at Carnegie Hall, was how many years this group was unable to ply their craft -their music -because they had been black-balled. Such a waste there, ya know, to have no studio willing to record their music and no dj's who would play it, no clubs who would book them to sing. That, to my mind, was pure and simple, a criminal act in and of itself.

Listening to that music though took me back in time to memories of the first apartment I shared with three other young girls who, like I was at that time, were also employees of the FBI in the mid-60s.

Like almost all other young women living with a couple roommates back then in the D.C. suburbs, weekends were party time! And one of the groups my old roomies and I hung around with was a group of kids who were students at Catholic University -well, all except one guy who was attending the University of Maryland -and when they would show up at one of our weekend parties, it was inevitable that everyone would gather back in the larger of the two bedrooms in our apartment for our own version of a "Hootenany." (If you recall that show from the mid-60s, then you'll know what I am talking about there.)

Anyway, remembering how much fun we always had when two guys in particular would show up who were part of the group from Catholic University bringin their guitars and we would sing-along to whatever songs they picked out for us. The guys from Catholic U called their group a Social Fraternity and called themselves "The Senators." I don't remember names of most of the group -just a couple of them -Joe Srour, Jim Gallagher and Jack Campbell. There was a guy named Paul, who was really a riot, very funny, but I can't for the life of me remember his last name now. (And Jack Campbell was the one lone member of that group -honorary member I think he was -who went to the University of Maryland.)

But anyway, this was a great bunch of guys and we always had so much fun when they showed up. Nothing out-of-line at all -just good clean-cut fun with a little drinking thrown in!

Jack and Joe told me once that they knew where almost every party was being held around the D.C./Md/Va area every weekend because they had such an extensive line of communication with folks and they would get calls all week long telling them about a party at this apartment or that one.

Upon hearing that proclamation from those two clowns, I had challenged Jack that he couldn't possibly know where there was a party going on all over the entire radius of the D.C. area until one night, he proved it to me.

I remember it was a Friday night and at that time, I had moved from Maryland (SE, Prince George's County) over to Arlington, VA where I was sharing an apartment with another girl there. There was a good bit of commotion going on out in the hall outside our apartment about 9 p.m. and soon there was a banging too on our door. I remember answering the door to find Jack standing there and giving me the devil for having a party and not inviting him.

Turns out, my roomie and I weren't having a party but the guy who lived behind us was and Jack had been driving by, on his way to one of the parties on his list and saw a bunch of people entering our building and assumed it was my roomie, Mary, and me who were entertaining that night. When he found out it wasn't us but was our neighbor, who neither Mary or I knew at all (nor did Jack), he insisted then that we crash the party next door and he bet me that once in there, he would encounter someone there that he knew.

And, to my surprise, that's exactly what happened too! We crashed the party and within 5-10 minutes, Jack had found someone there who he knew from some where or other!

That always amazed me about him!

And see that show tonight, remembering the good old days of my roomies and my friends and I having our own fun-filled hootenanny, also got me to thinking too about those guys and wondering what ever happened to them.

I lost contact with them in late 1966 after Jack graduated and got a job as an engineer of some kind down in North Carolina some place. Joe, I think if I remember correctly, was majoring in Physics and was a grad student at the time I knew that group but I never heard what became of him. Jim Gallagher I think was a pre-med student but you know how it goes after so many years, one does forget things like that or you get one person confused with someone else too at times.

But it sure would be fun to know if they are still around some where and what they've been doing with their lives all these 40 plus years now!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Next Up -The Easter Bunny!

I love playing on the internet, looking at all kinds of websites and the stuff they have to offer, don't you?

Sometimes, it gives me some wild ideas of things to make and other times, I find things I think would be fairly reasonable, that I could purchase and give -especially little things for my two little grandkids here.

Nosing around tonight, I came across this site where you can get personalized Easter gifts for kids and found, of all things there, the cutest little tee shirt with Elmo (from the Muppets) on it that I know Kurtis would really love! He's always been a very big Elmo fan and that would really make for a cute gift and one that wouldn't give him any cavities either!

Seeing that reminded me how, when my kids were small and I was the local Avon Rep, I would get them only a couple of small candy items and then, stuff little Avon gifts into their baskets. I figured they still got their chocolate fix but also, that way, they got some other little gifties too that would last them a lot longer than the chocolate would.

As a matter of fact, I know Mandy still has a couple of the little necklaces I got for her back then and she has passed them all down to Maya now.

Always makes me feel good too when I see one of those pieces on Maya, ya know!

Birthday Special?

Playing around here tonight on the computer and I found something really neat!

I'm not usually one who buys flowers and sends them but this really caught my eye.

I found this place where you can get exclusive ProFlowers coupons and with them, you can get some really neat deals!

One that definitely caught my eye was a special where you can get a dozen roses for $29.99 and with this special coupon, you could get another dozen for free!

Now, I ask you, How cool is that?

I'm thinking if my budget can cover it, that would make for a really neat gift for me to send a dozen roses to my older daughter for her birthday in about 3 weeks and at the same time, have another dozen sent here to Mandy for an early Easter present.

Now that would work quite well in my book!

Wish I'd Remembered This....

My son and his girlfriend -along with her 5-month-old nephew were down here today for supper and conversation. I had made a big pot of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots today to have for our "St. Patrick's Day" meal because come St. Patty's Day, he'll be on the road, working, and to fix a meal like that for mainly just Mandy and me would involve way too much food for the two of us.

So anyway, we had our little celebration, so to speak, today along with some cupcakes that are actually Peanut Butter-filled Brownie cupcakes -and they were, as you can well imagine, very well received by everyone, especially the two youngest members of the household! I'm gonna be experimenting a bit this week with various dessert items because I am slated to bring a dessert next Sunday to the community Sunday Lenten Service which will be held at our church and I'm trying to find something a bit extra special then to take to that event.

Clate and his girlfriend are currently taking care of her sister's baby since she fell Friday night beside her car and broke both bones in one leg so she's a bit incapacitated now -and probably for a while too. The little guy is a roly-poly, good natured fellow though and Kurtis loves him to pieces. (So does Sammy, the dog, too! Sam's getting his "I'm a guard dog of babies and small children" hat on whenever they come down here now with the baby. Really cute to see how attentive both he and Kurtis are to the baby.)

But tonight she was telling me that she purchased a set of bunk beds -gonna need sleeping space like that for when her boys get here to live -and she's anticipating delivery of 'em this week sometime.

I didn't even think of this when they were here but I should have told her about the bunk beds I had bought years back for my kids and shown her some really neat ones I had seen too in the log furniture line!

Actually, I had bought two sets of bunk beds for my kids when they were small. The first set, white, with two drawers under each bed, were nice because of the extra storage space they provided.

The second set, that I bought about ten years later was the kind that had a double bed on the bottom and a single bed on the top and that set really worked very well in this house because of the extra sleeping space it provided in no more room than the double bed I used to have in the small bedroom had taken up. And that's really the kind of bunk beds she could definitely make use of with her boys!

I could just kick myself now that I didn't even think of the potential of something like that for her kids.

Boy, these senior moments just seem to come visit me more and more frequently all the time now, ya know!

The Good Daughter

You know, I have to say this (and heaven knows, I don't say it nearly enough) but my daughters are both really great people! Yep, they most certainly are.

Okay -I confess there are times one, sometimes both of them, do tick me off a little bit, but I'm talking here about overall, both of them are really great all-around people regardless of what some twits here and there may try to say about them.

They just don't know them the way I do. Translated, of course, that means I love them, both of them -and just as much as I love their brother too!. (I had to throw that in for good measure, ya know!)

Take today, for example. Mandy knew I had wanted to go to church this a.m. but also must have figured out early on in the day too that I was really whipped and not feeling quite up to par -lots of aches and pains today so I slept a lot longer than I usually would. It helped a good bit -not quite enough as the back has still been aching off and on all day -but a little improvement is better than no improvement.

She even made a special run to the store in Kylertown to get me a copy of today's Sunday paper -Pittsburgh Post Gazette -which I like because they have a good TV guide magazine section and also, they usually have three -not just one -but yes, three, crossword puzzles on Sunday too! Of course, one is I think from the NY Times and I'm lucky if I can figure out 2 or 3 answers on that puppy though -which I find a bit depressing but anyway, such is life in the fast lane, right?

Today's magazine insert (Parade, maybe?) had a feature in it on jobs people across the country have and what they get paid along with some corresponding stuff about some of those same jobs as seen in various tv shows too. Like "Parks and Recreation" as well as "The Office."

They focused on a guy from the Scranton area and his job, compared to that of Jim, on "The Office" to portray sales jobs as an example and boy, that had me thinking I must have been looking for decent paying work in all the wrong places back when I was still working, still employable, ya know!

But, I have done sales work in the past and I'll say this for that kind of work, that it's a lot harder than most people think it is! Of course, I'm comparing apples to oranges here because the biggest sales job I ever had was selling Avon and I did that for a little over 18 years! It has its good points, for sure, but it is a sales position that one really has to work darned hard at in order to be successful with it, that's for sure.

However, considering I did that for 18 years, it wasn't all that bad either. Got me out and about and gave me opportunities to make lots of friends of people who lived in and around my area who I might never have met otherwise, and that's definitely worth something.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Easiest Yummy Dessert Yet - Step by Step!

Occasionally, I have posted a recipe on my blog -one that I like a lot and also, that fills my recipe requirements in that it must be relatively EASY to fix.

I decided last night, while getting the ingredients lined up for the dessert I was going to make and which I took to church this morning for the lunch we served the conference held there today that I would take pictures of each step of the process in making this dessert item and then, post it all here on my blog.

This dessert, in my opinion, is super easy to make and as proof, I will tell you I've made many of these over the almost 30 years now since I acquired the recipe and never once has it failed me -or those who ate it either!

This recipe was given to me oh, probably about 1983, I'd say, and it came to me from "Mrs. Boyle" (of Midland, PA), the mother of the guy I was engaged to but then got really cold feet and walked away from the marriage idea then, apparently for good, cause here I am, still single! LOL

And, the name of this masterpiece of easy and deliciousness is "Banana Split Cake!"

Although there is no baking, no cake actually involved in this, it does resemble very much the scrumpdeliciousness of a Dairy Queen-type banana split though.

Anyone can make this delicacy and have a great item to put on your table for your family or something really terrific to take to a pot luck dinner or special meeting sometime, some place, some where. It's super easy to make and a novice cook can make it with extreme ease and for a gourmet-type cook, it's one of those recipes that is really a breeze to fix.

I'm definitely not in the gourmet cooking category as I am too lazy to do all the work involved in that type of cooking plus, a lot of those type of items also call for items that tend to be a lot too pricey for my modest food budget. But this one won't break the bank for you to fix which is another darned good thing about it too!

So, with all that above information in mind, here goes with my very first pictorial, instructional post to my blog!


First off, here's a picture of my recipe for this item. I copied over the recipe to a little notebook cookbook I had put together for myself back in the early 80s and this one has been used so many times -as you can see by the stains from who knows what splattered all over it -that it came loose from my notebook several years ago and is now just this -a loose piece of raggedy paper that holds the means to make a really great delicious dessert! (Good luck trying to read my chicken scratch penmanship on this. "Writing" was one of my absolute worst and most disliked subjects all through elementary school. Can you tell?)

The first thing you need is a 13x9 inch cake pan. Last night, because I was making this to take to church, I used a disposable pan, just for convenience sake.

And you will use that pan to make a graham cracker crust. Here's the ingredients needed for the crust:
Two cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 stick of margarine -melted.

Mix those ingredients together with a fork and then, pat into the pan and stick it in the freezer to firm the crust up a good bit.
Next, set up a small colander atop a plastic bowl that will hold about 2 cups -at least -of liquid and empty into the colander 1 large can (16 ounce, I believe it is) of crushed pineapple and allow that to drain.

While that's draining, you can then mix the filling -which is sort of like a pudding (but isn't quite) and it's not cooked either.

Here's the ingredients and directions for making the filling:

2 cups of powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 eggs
2 sticks (1 cup) of margarine (or butter if you prefer that.) Allow the margarine to soften before beating it all in with the eggs and powdered sugar.

Beat those three items together on a slow speed at first to blend them and then, turn the speed up to a medium-to-high speed and whip this for a minimum of 15 minutes! Yes, you read that right -15 minutes! That's what Mrs. Boyle specified to me although she never gave me a reason for that amount of time though. (I'm thinking perhaps it is because you are using raw eggs and this food is not going to be cooked so perhaps beating it that long eliminates any dangers then from the raw eggs making people ill. I just don't know the answer to that but I am religious about making sure to beat it for at least those 15 minutes anyway!)

This picture below is what your pudding filling will look like.

Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and spread it evenly across the crust.

Then, you take that pineapple that you've had draining and wring it to remove as much of the juice remaining in the pineapple. Yep! Get a big old handful of that crushed pineapple and squeeze the living daylights -er juice -out of it! Till it gets to be a ball about the size of between a tennis ball and a baseball.

Lightly drop the pineapple in dribs and drabs atop the pudding filling til you have that just about completely covered. Try to separate the pineapple bits as much as possible to make for a more even distribution of that fruit on top of the filling. So it looks sort of like this then:

Now you take three really nice, firm, large bananas and slice them fairly thinly and layer these banana slices neatly across the entire pan of graham cracker crust/pudding/pineapple.
Like this:

We're almost finished with this luscious dessert now. All that remains is to take a large container (16 ounces) of Cool Whip -or any generic type frozen whipped topping -that you have set out to allow it to soften a bit -and spread that over the top of the whole mixture now.

After doing that, you can set some maraschino cherries (drain them, please) on top in a pattern of your choosing or just randomly, depending on how well you like -or don't like -cherries -as these are optional. And take a bottle of chocolate syrup and drizzle some of that around the top of your cake then too and presto magic, you end up then with this:

I usually place this in the freezer then to let it chill to very firm or at least in the refrigerator to keep until I'm ready to serve it.

But how difficult was that now to make? Do you think I lied to you about how it's an easy-peasy dish? Trust me, it's not! And believe me, you will get raves about it from whoever tries it too -unless you happen to have a really picky eater around who either does not like pineapple or bananas or, heaven forbid, chocolate syrup! My grandkids even will eat this and you all know from my telling you, time and time again, how finicky they can be about various foods!

Try it! I'm betting you will love it just as much as I do!

The most difficult thing about making this entire project is beating the pudding for 15 minutes and wringing the juice out of the pineapple. (Save the drained juice into a container and also, don't forget to have that container handy to catch all the extra juice that you'll be wringing out of the pineapple too -which amounts to a total of about 2 full cups of pineapple juice that you'll have leftover to mix with oh, pina coladas if you like or just drink it as a breakfast juice too. Yummy any way you deal with that, ya know!