Monday, May 30, 2011

Creepy Creatures by Crikey!

Ah such a fun day it has been today!

Older daughter (Carrie) arrived late this morning to pick up Alex and take him home and as they were getting ready to leave, my son called to tell them, if they had enough time, to meet him up at his place as he was on his way back to his house with the big truck so he's now ready to leave late this afternoon or early this evening to begin his work week.

He wanted them to meet him there so that he could then take my grandson, Alex, for a ride with him back up to the truckstop where he would park it until he's ready then later to go to work.

So, they grabbed a bite to eat from all the leftovers from yesterday's meal and then, headed up to Clate's house.

Shortly after that, Carrie phoned me to tell me they were on their way up to Kylertown but that I needed to take a run up to Clate's house to see the snake up there!

Say WHAT? Snake? Me, going to go look at a snake? Didn't sound like a really fun thing to me since I am petrified of snakes -don't really even like to see dead ones although those are the only kind I sort of can like, ya know.

Well, as it turned out yes, there was a snake up at my son's house. Only it wasn't out in the yard, or up by the road. No sirree, Bob! This sucker was all curled up apparently in the bathtub in my son's bathroom!

As the story goes, Clate's girlfriend had gone in to the bathroom for the usual purposes and was sitting on the commode when she glanced off to her left and her gaze was met with this nice big old black snake neatly entwined along the ledge behind the tub there!

Now she and I -as well as both my daughters too -all share the same reaction when confronted with something like a snake. Jump, Scream, do a dance much like someone with St. Vidas' Dance issues and then, run!

Poor Elizabeth jumped up, her slacks still down around her ankles, and scrambled like crazy to open the door and get out of there, all the while trying to pull her pants back up and screaming too for Bill -my ex-son-in-law -who lives there too along with my son and his girlfriend.

Bill said later he'd never known Elizabeth to stutter until today!

So, as soon as Bill had surveyed the situation, he went and got his gun and well, that snake is no longer amongst the living.

My son, in the meantime, was on his way back down to his house when Elizabeth phoned him to tell him what was going on.

Then, she left for work shortly before I got up to Clate's house and he pulled in the drive.

Bill, Clate and I stood out front of the house for a little while, talking about this latest event at his place and finally, Clate mentioned he'd best get inside and get around to the task of being the snake remover. Meanwhile, Maya was telling him over and over not to bring the dead snake out of the house via the front door but as soon as she would say that, she would go around to the back part of the house by the kitchen door and tell him not to dare bring that snake out using that door. A bit confusing there as to which door he should use what with her moving all around all the time, ya know.

But we finally got the kids to stay in the side yard and Clate went in to get the snake out of the tub.

He wasn't in the house more than a minute, two at the absolute most, when he called out to Bill,
"Hey, bring the gun here!"

Bill asked him if the snake wasn't dead yet and Clate said no, that wasn't the problem. Instead, there was now a second snake in the bathtub!

Sheesh. One was plenty in my book!

So anyway, Clate managed to send the second snake off to its great reward wherever snake heaven may be and then, did get both snakes out of the house and carried them down to the woods in the back lot where he then disposed of them!

Now, he's having a really fun time using that spray foam stuff all around the pipes and other fixtures around the tub and sink to look for any other possible holes that a snake might be able to use to access the bathroom there!

Never a dull moment, that's for sure!

(Oh and I took my camera up with me as I wanted to get a picture of the snake -then the snakes -but Clate said no to that idea! He said he didn't want me posting any photos of the snake in his house on the internet cause he just knew that's what I wanted to do. And, of course, you know he was right about that thought crossing my mind. I did get a picture of him walking down through the back lot, carrying those two snakes -and they were big puppies too, at least four if not five feet in length, but unfortunately, I was too far away, didn't remember I do have a zoom feature on my camera, albeit not a very strong one, so you really can't see the snakes he was carting away. However, later, I did talk to his girlfriend and it just so happens, she has a picture of the first snake -dead -in the bathtub and she promised to send me a copy of it as soon as she can do that! At least she agreed with me that it sure would make for a great story in a blog post! Whether it makes it sound like Clate's house is "Jeff Foxworthy-ish" or not!)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Answers? Maybe.

My last post apparently took some of my regular reader friends a bit by surprise.

I've dealt with depression issues, off and on, for many years now and sometimes, it comes on me, wraps itself around me a little tighter than I like, for sure. Wednesday was one of those days.

Some of the issues -like the ones I talked about in Wednesday's post -are things I try to keep at bay as much as possible mainly because when they creep in and sneak up behind me, they tend to make me angry and bitter -both emotions I don't like at all so I try not to dwell on them. But sometimes too, they take a bite too large and then, I feel compelled to speak about them.

Usually, when I do that -write about the negatives around -it does help to clear the air as well as my mind.

After my major vent post, I decided I needed to get out of the house while the weather was still decent so Sam and I went for a walk up the road -through the area that is civilized, not down the road to the woods. And that walk really did me a world of good too!

Three doors up the street from my house, I saw the first peonies of the season in bloom!

This bush has several blooms on it -right in the middle of the front yard of my neighbor, Genevieve's place. Seeing those pretty flowers really set the tone then for the rest of Sammy's and my walk. (I have a fairly large peony bush along the side of my house that has several nice big buds on it but it is generally among the last of the peony bushes around the neighborhood to bloom. I guess it must not be in a location that provides the right kind of sunlight to make it blossom at the same time as others around me do. I also have a peony bush in front of the house that I transplanted last fall from some plants my neighbor, Jodi, had given me. (She and her husband Tony own the house that had belonged to my great-uncle, Erik Eld, and when she thinned out her peony bushes along her front porch, she asked if I'd like some of them, knowing that they had most likely been planted there many, many years ago by my uncle and of course, being the sentimental slob that I am, I jumped at that opportunity!) However, that bush -although it's growing okay and all, doesn't appear to have any buds on it. But a smaller bush Jodi gave me and which I had Clayton plant over in the far left corner of the yard, by the spot where he and Mandy had buried our beloved cat, Gracie Baby -who we had for over 16 years -that bush is also doing well and does have a couple buds on it already now!

Sam and I had a very pleasant stroll -at a nice pace for both of us. Not too fast but fast enough to make it a worthwhile exercise kind of walk. We saw several friends along the way which always helps in the mood improvement department too.
A few doors further up the road from Genevieve's home, is this house that had originally belonged to my Grandpa's cousin, Anna Engstrom, and her family. When the family sold the place, it was purchased by the daughter of a neighbor who lives down the road from my home -Charyl and Charlie Engleman -and they had sold it about 4-5 years ago to a couple, Woody and Cynthia Miller -who moved late last summer down to Georgia. The house had been up for sale since then and I had heard rumors last week that some family had purchased it but when I walked past there on Wednesday, I saw the "For Sale" sign was gone so I took that as proof positive that we will be getting new neighbors along the street now very soon.
Further on up the street, I noticed all these buttercups growing and in full bloom along the bank of the home there that used to belong to George "Stiney" Lawrence and his wife, Elsie. Stiney and Elsie have both been gone for many years now but seeing all those buttercups just reminded me of them and what good people they both were. Stiney was a big fan of hunting and fishing as well as baseball and for many, many years from the early years of the village until probably the 40s, he was one of the best known pitchers for the old baseball team that the village fielded, year after year. And Elsie, his wife, a little bit of a woman, was well-known for her ability to talk. And talk. And talk some more. If you had to go up to the old company store or to pick up the mail, and had only a limited amount of time to do that, you would pray that she wasn't outside when you went by her home or if she was, that she didn't see you or you'd never make it back home in time to make any appointments you might have had! But she was such a sweetheart, you could never get angry at her -or yourself -from having found yourself in one of her conversational clutches.

Sam and I walked on up the street, passing my friend Sherri's home where she was sitting out on her front porch and greeted Sam and I with a "Hello" and a wave. Up by the Moose Club, where we turned around, I saw another old friend sitting out on her porch too so I called out to Bernie that it was good to see her up and about and outside, getting some fresh air. Bernie is in her 80s now and has had some ups and downs over the past winter with health issues but she looked good and seemed very chipper when we passed by her place.

On the way back home, I took this picture then of my neighbor and good friends, Shirley and Bo's rhododendron bush in front of their place.
This particular bush has beautiful lavender colored blooms on it and as it is just beginning to blossom, by next week, the whole front of her house will be covered in those pretty purple posies! So many folks up and down this street have rhododendron plants in various colors ranging from a pale pinkish-white to the lavender and some are a much brighter color of a deep rose shade. My neighbor down the street, Kate, has three different colored bushes that have just started to blossom in the past day or two but I didn't get a photo of hers as yet. I'll have to get a shot of her plants blooming though to post in the near future as they are really quite spectacular.

I have a bush at the front of my house that has blossoms very similar to the rhododendrons of my neighbors but my plant is a Mountain Laurel and like my peony bush, is a much later blooming plant too.
Here's my Mountain Laurel and maybe, if you click and enlarge this shot, you might be able to spot some of the buds beginning to show up on it. But it will be at least the end of June before they will burst open and blossom, giving the front of the house some little dabble of color then.

By the time Sam and I got back home, I still had the 'earworm' going on in my head of that Beatles song, "Help" but having been out for a pleasant walk, seeing some pretty flowers blooming, a friendly hello from several folks too along the way, and I could feel my mood beginning to lift and being replaced with some positive feelings by that time.

It's really amazing what a difference that short amount of exercise, sunshine and friendship, combined with some pretty sights too, can do for a person, isn't it?

Wednesday evening too Mandy sent Ken and I on an errand -supposed to go up to Kylertown to pick up a few things that were on sale there this week and Wednesday is the day I usually try to go to that store because, being of Scottish ethnicity ya know, and that store gives a big 5% senior discount every Wednesday so I like to take advantage of whatever they have on sale that I really can use. This week it was a good sale on Perry's ice cream -2 half-gallons for $6.00 and with my discount as well, no way was I about to pass that deal up so we came home with four cartons of ice cream then!

On the way up to the store though, Ken and I had to make a stop at the Moose Club so he could "sign the book" and thereby, be eligible for the daily drawing there. Unfortunately, his number didn't get picked that day, but my neighbor down the street, June and her husband Daryl, were the lucky ones and they came home close to $300 richer! Not a bad deal I'd say!

And, the neat thing for me in stopping at the Moose, having a quick draft beer then, was that I also got to see a guy who graduated three years behind me in school and who I hadn't seen for several years now. Always enjoy talking to Jim -or "Simmie" as most everyone around here calls him. He's still just as much of a fun guy to be around now as he was way back in those dark ages when we were both in high school.

Thursday night though we got hit here with a heavy rainstorm! Mandy and the kids had been into Philipsburg so Maya could attend play practice for the summer production the Front and Centre Theatre Group is going to be putting on in July - "The Jungle Book" and Maya will be an elephant in this play. Mandy and I are both really excited about how she will do in this event and we have her all psyched up telling her that as an elephant she will get to do the "March of the Elephants" number then! Something really neat and fun to look forward to then, ya know!

The storm uprooted lots and lots of trees around the county, including one big tree that had fallen and was taking up a big portion of Rte 53 as you come into Morrisdale. Mandy managed to ease her little car around that tree and got home without any other complications -except the problems that continued on through the evening with power outages that were several and frequent. Around about 11 p.m., after one of those outages -and off and then, quickly back on thing -my computer went dead on me! Now, you have to know that is something that totally strikes fear and panic into this old lady's bones, for sure!

About 11:30 p.m., the tv cable finally came back on line thus eliminating my issues about not having my regular viewing to see but still the computer was for all purposes seeming to be deader than a door nail!

First thing Friday a.m., I phoned a friend of ours who lives over on the back hill in town, told him of my dilemma and he came over to see if the computer had been really damaged big time or what.

Thankfully, he happened to think of what had happened just about 2-3 weeks ago with the computer when it wouldn't work here but when he took it to his place and hooked it up, it had fired up like there was nothing wrong at all so he reached down and unplugged the computer at the wall, waited about two minutes and plugged it back in and when he turned it on then, everything worked just fine and dandy! Seems in the event of a power outage like that, sometimes in order to get the computer to function again, you have to completely break the electrical connection by unplugging it, then plug it back in and fire it up! So simple a cure and so relieved was I at seeing that happen too!

Then, Friday night, Mandy drove down to Milesburg where she met up with my older daughter (Carrie) and my grandson, Alex, to bring Alex up here to spend the weekend with us. He and Mandy are like two peas in a pod -they operate on much the same wave length much of the time and I just enjoy having this young man here to spend the next couple of days with us.

Saturday afternoon, Alex, Kurtis and I went up to the local greenhouse to get a bunch of flowers to take to the cemeteries tomorrow -have to go to the Lutheran cemetery here in town to put flowers on my maternal grandparents' graves as well as on the graves of daughter Carrie's Godparents and from there, then we have to go up to the cemetery in Morrisdale where my parents are buried along with my paternal grandparents, and all my Dad's siblings and spouses except for one aunt who, with her husband, is laid to rest at the big cemetery in Philipsburg. The past few years, I have managed to coerce my son in to going with me to put the flowers on the graves as I need his strength to dig up the soil in front of the tombstones and also, have to have someone considerably larger than me -or at least a whole lot stronger than I am -to give me hand getting back up on my feet after I've been down on the ground planting flowers! One of the many features of the aging process ya know that I'm not overly happy about! I tried one year to do the transplanting alone but had such a bugger of a hard time trying to get up into a standing position again that I vowed I'd take someone with me in the future!

So tomorrow, after church, Alex and I will be doing the flower plantings together. He's a big young man, strong and capable and can dig up the ground, plus be there to lend a hand so old Gram get back up on her feet again too!

So all in all, that venting I did on Wednesday really did clear so much of the bad thoughts out of my head and that's a really good thing. I haven't yet figured out what things though I can put on my Bucket List that would be reasonable things to strive to achieve. That's part of the problem with that deal -figuring out what you'd really like to do that actually has potential because I sure wouldn't want to be having wild hair dreams of something that is not in the least bit possible for me to do as that would just complicate things and bring on another round -or two -or more -bouts of depressive thinking!

Oh and the neat thing too this week -on Wednesday afternoon -when Mandy went out to get Kurtis off his van coming home from school, the driver remarked to her that he had been singing his little heart out -the whole way home, all twelve miles of the trip! Deanna then asked Mandy "Does your Mom by any chance watch "All in the Family?" And Mandy had said well yes, she watches it fairly often on TVLand channel. Deanna then said she figured as much because near as she could tell, the song Kurtis was singing, over and over to entertain her -and himself -none other than the theme song ("Those Were the Days") of that show!

Yep! Kurtis loves that song and also, two songs on an old cassette that will actually work in the cassette player in my jeep -"Big Girls Don't Cry" and his true favorite I do believe, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight!"

One of these days I'll have to figure out a way to do a little video of him in the jeep, singing away those songs. Definitely will entertain ya, that's for sure!

A Weem a wetta, weem a wetta -whatever that means! And for whatever that's worth too!

Maybe the kid is just an old soul at heart and just loves those Oldies but Goodies like his Grammy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Cue or a Clue?

Excuse me while I ramble a bit today but my mind's been and still is, more than a bit discombobulated, I guess you could say.

This song, one of my all-time favorites by the Beatles, really expresses a lot of what I'm feeling of late.

Why? I'm not really sure. Maybe it's the repetition of things about "younger days" ya know and the realization that I'm a long way from those days now. The aging process is not for the weak and weary nor the fainthearted, is it?

Most of the time, I have been able to deal with a lot of stuff in my life by simply putting it out of my mind. Stuffing it way in the back, filling that space with all kinds of other things that kept me busy, occupied and well, out of trouble in that respect.

But lately, it does seem that it keeps pushing forward, knocking all the good and positive moves and thoughts aside and totally crowding them out.

And, I confess that I really do hate when that happens.

It just totally buggers up the system, the works, the mind, the peace I like to have around me.

One thing that has been annoying me lately -a lot -is that as I move closer and closer to the end of my little line, there aren't many things I've often wanted to do that I have actually ever managed to accomplish.

Remember that great movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman -"The Bucket List" -well, that's pretty much what has been taking up a lot of space lately. No, not the movie itself, but rather the idea put forth in that movie.

Have a dream and go for it!

But how do you counter with that when those dreams are now totally out of reach?

I've accomplished only a couple of things that I think were probably on my "Bucket List" -if indeed I had one of those things way back when or even all along in my life.

I always wanted to get married and have a family and yes, been there, done that. I have three grown children who, most of the time, are pretty darned great. Yeah, every now and again there are slip-ups, issues here and there with this or that one, but for the most part, I have to say they are pretty good kids, considering how they were raised, ya know. The family was and still is more than a bit dysfunctional -what with being raised by a single parent. (One of the favorite lines often stated by all three of my kids is "How do you spell 'dysfunctional'?" And their standard answer to that question is "Ertmer!"

Now, I have exceeded my Bucket List with respect to having a family in that I now have three beautiful, very intelligent, completely awesome grandchildren -Alex, Maya and Kurtis -and I couldn't have been better blessed if I had put in a request for grandkids and had given directions as to how to make those little people be the best! They are, all three of 'em, the greatest, simply the greatest. I am truly blessed to have them in my life today of that there is no doubt.

One of the other things that I believe was on my early list was the desire to go to college, to get a degree in some field that was of high interest to me and one that I believed would also help me to reach other goals in life -like solid employment, for openers.

And yes, although it took me a long, long time to get myself into college and though I completed my degree in four years and am proud of that accomplishment, as things turned out, what should have been something that sparked me onward and upward, things never materialized quite in that manner for me. I was never able to get myself hired in any type of work that actually utilized my degree as such and that has always been a huge disappointment to me.

I don't know if my resume was such that it didn't call attention well enough to my strengths or if it was that I didn't know anyone to put in a good word here and there maybe for me, or if it was the tell-tale signs of my age that are difficult to hide in a resume at times, but for the nine years after my graduation when I responded to open jobs in my field, it sure seemed like I couldn't even have paid someone to give me an interview, much less hire me.

And you know, after a while, especially that amount of time passing by when you don't have all that much time to begin with then, it does become really depressing to try to combat those feelings that all point to a very low self-worth in the end.

Don't get me wrong now, as I don't really regret having gone to college, having borrowed student loans to get myself through school, having that degree to point to on my resume. Nope! Not in the least do I regret that as regardless of the outcome in terms of finding gainful employment, I still do have the education and no one can ever take that away from me! It's still there, lurking about somewhere in my pea-brain, just searching for a way to become a useful entity in my life.

Another thing I often had dreams about when I was younger -in those good old days -was the desire to travel, to see the beautiful country I call home, to see a few points around the world as well -like traveling to Sweden and Scotland for openers to see the lands where my ancestors were born. Always wanted to do that and today, I'd still love to see those places but unless I begin to play the lottery and manage to hit it big time, those dreams are never going to come to fruition. Not in my wildest dreams will they ever happen unless, lottery aside, I could get hired as some kind of paid companion to accompany some really nice, kind-hearted, generous to a fault, wealthy individual who thought my communication skills and sparkling conversations would be a skill worthy of their having me accompany them to places hither, thither and yon.

After surveying in my mind the people I know, the probability of ever encountering a soul such as the type described above, well we can write that idea off completely! Just ain't ever gonna happen is it?

Why though am I today voicing some of these things, these dreams that have gone bust, or thoughts that just keep coming forward and which seem to be hell-bent on ruining my quest for simple peace of mind?

Mainly because if I don't begin to talk about these things in some way, to bring them forward, they will keep eating away at my innards and ultimately, will erase any positivity I might have left in the back of my mind.

So, as I listen to George, Paul, John and Ringo in their song, at least the melody is cheerful and the words -well, they are pretty straight-forward and do describe my feelings much of the time to a tee too! Funny thing though but my favorite Beatles song was always "Yesterday" but that one while still high on my list of favorites, maybe is too melancholy for me to listen to and take any comfort from it at this point in time.

I dunno.

I keep telling myself something else I have often repeated over and over in my mind over the years -"This too shall pass!" And, yes, I still do believe that is the truth but maybe I'm just getting way too impatient today waiting for it all to pass.

Or then again, maybe it has -like my life -pretty much all passed me by already.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gimme A Break...

This has been one of those week when I really wanted a break from the action around me!

First off, Monday morning I was greeted by a sight on my computer screen that I knew automatically was heralding really, really bad news and a rough time ahead.

One look at the message on my screen and I just knew that the MOTHER of all malicious malware had come to roost on my computer -again!

Trying to find a way to get my sick computer fixed, then actually working on this end with a technical person somewhere in cyberspace on the other end of my connection took away the better part of my day.

Towards the end of this issue, I also got an e-mail from a cousin telling me that her uncle, my oldest male cousin on my Dad's side of my family tree had died that morning.

Definitely not the kind of news I want on any given day but certainly not on the same day when I was so worked up with worry over the computer issues and how I was going to exist till my next check arrives on June 3rd after I paid for the repairs -well that was a little much to deal with those two things together.

Then, Monday evening I went on a bit of a cooking binge -of sorts. Nothing really drastic -well, not fancy, not difficult to fix -but anyway because of a project I am in charge of through our women's group at church, I was going to have a couple women from church coming to my home for a meeting Tuesday a.m. and Mandy asked if I planned on fixing anything to feed them. Her theory was if they were arriving at 11 a.m. and going to be here for who knew how long, if it were her going to someone's place at that hour, she'd definitely be expecting to be fed.

Good point, Mandy.

Actually I had planned on fixing something but unfortunately prior to Mandy's questions, I had gone pretty much brain dead about what to fix. Thanks to Mandy's suggestions then I fixed a small dish of macaroni salad, mixed up a container of tuna salad as well as egg salad and made a really easy but very, very tasty dessert called "Lemon Delight." I had this nice big loaf of Polish Rye bread that a friend of Mandy's boyfriend had brought back to PA from a trip to New Jersey in my freezer so I thawed that, sliced up several pieces of the bread and made up a plate of tuna salad sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches then prior to going to bed that night.

So when Tuesday morning rolled around, I was already for the ladies to arrive and for us to get to work looking over the information I had on hand about preparing a cookbook -which is going to be our women's group project now over the summer months. We didn't make any hard fast decisions -just reviewed cover ideas to get some ideas of those we liked, along with dividers and a few other ideas of how we want to proceed with this project. We want to try to dedicate a section of the cookbook to some of the many people who used to be part of our church community for many years and who had been well-known in the church for their great cooking and baking skills as well.

Wednesday morning, I was off to Clearfield for my monthly appointment at the cancer clinic there to have my lovely little port flushed. Anyone who's had chemo and who has "bad veins" and has had to have one of these things inserted in their chest will know what I am referring to there so no further descriptions -I hope -are necessary. Suffice it to say though that the nurse who did the flush this time was awesome! She stuck that needle into the port and I never felt even the slightest twinge of a pinch!

At last, something good besides the meeting Tuesday morning in my life!

Thursday though and things began to fall backwards when I got an e-mail from a cousin on my Mom's side of the family to tell me her sister, who was in Hawaii for a work related assignment, had become ill while there. Not the flu or something like that though. No! She'd had what was being labeled as a "cardiac event" and yesterday had heart catherization with bypass surgery scheduled for today! Seems at least three arteries or veins -not sure which -were blocked and when I say blocked, I mean really, really blocked. One was 100% blocked and two were 95% and 80% blocked! While two of her co-workers were able to stay on with her for a few days -one has to return home tomorrow (Friday) and the other, on Sunday, the company she works for had graciously offered to pay her sister's airfare to Hawaii to come out there and be with the sister who had the surgery! Sounds like things were coming together except for the fact that the sister offered the airfare had to make arrangements to have someone come and stay with their elderly mother while she would be in Hawaii with her sister.

Always something to muddy the waters, isn't there.

And speaking of muddy waters, it has rained every freaking day this week too!

But lest you think my week as been ALL doom and gloom, there are a few things here and there for which I am actually quite happy and very thankful.

Starting with the rain -which no, I am not a huge fan of the grey skies and wet continually coming down but still, I do recognize the fact that it is not just a fact of life that rain must fall but also, that as long as it stays within reason in the amount of raining ongoing -i.e. no flooding such as has been happening all along the mighty Mississippi and the Ohio rivers - then rain is ultimately a good thing. I did notice last night and today that already the lettuce I planted last week in my garden has begun to poke through the ground. And the starter planters I have set up inside the house -well those plants all seem to be flourishing under my care. (That alone is quite a coup for me since I generally have a tendency to kill baby plants you see!)

Although we didn't make any hard, fast decisions at our meeting on Tuesday, we did get a lot of information and ideas processed and have made inroads now into how we will proceed from there. That, plus all the tuna and egg salad sandwiches I made up came in very handy for supper, lunch and supper again, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even the kids ate 'em and that's always a good thing!

And speaking of food and good things like the kids eating, I really hit the jackpot tonight with our supper apparently! I'm usually more than a bit leery about trying new recipes because in the past, anything new usually didn't go over very well with the two kids and I really am not a big fan at all of leftovers!

But tonight, I decided to live dangerously and I fixed a new recipe I'd found called Lemon-parmesan chicken and penne pasta. I figured maybe because this chicken when cooked up could maybe fool the kids into thinking it was some kind of chicken fingers type meal -which is generally something they will eat -and that with the penne pasta, sometimes I can also trick them into eating other pastas besides a steady diet of either macaroni or spaghetti noodles you see.

This dish, as it turned out, was actually quite easy to fix -the pasta cooked up nicely and while it was cooking and the chicken in the oven baking, I sauted a bit of chopped garlic with italian seasoning, basil and parsly and then, to that, I added some frozen snow peas to saute them too and mixed that in the with the cooked pasta, topped with the baked, breaded chicken breasts.

Either both kids were so starved at suppertime tonight that they might have eaten ANYTHING I put on the table or else, they are getting a bit more adventuresome about trying new things because they both ate the pasta, including the peas and the chicken like there was no tomorrow!

Now that was a very pleasant surprise for me and gives me renewed hope about cooking yet again tomorrow.

Finally, my day today ended on yet another high note when Mandy picked up the mail. Seems a friend of mine from my high school days -who lives in Colorado and is also a mega crafting nutcase a bit like me -had sent me a little present that she had stumbled across out in her neck of the woods.

It's actually supposed to be an embroidered lap top quilt but her theory on what I might be able to do with the kit is to embroider it all up -cross stitched flowers all over it -finish the edging and consider it to be a slightly larger tabletopper! The dimensions on this thing are 45 inches x 45 inches -which is considerably larger than the tabletoppers I often do but what the heck!

One thing for sure, I will really keep me very busy for quite a long period of time.

Of that, I am very positive!

So thanks to Nancy for thinking of me and my love for embroidery by sending this present to me. It couldn't have come to me at a better time as I really did need a good pick-me-upper today!

And that's the way things have rolled around here for the past four days now -a big mix of sad, worrisome and bad things intermingled with a few surprises and a couple good things.

Now, here's hoping the weather forecasters are on target for the nicer weather they say we'll be seeing over the weekend.

I, for one, can really use a very nice dose of sunshine!

How about you -how's the weather and life been in your neck of the world?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trying Times!

To call the kind of day I had yesterday "trying times" would probably -at least in my opinion -be just a tad of an understatement.

Personally, I consider it to have been a day straight from Hell, sent to me, personally by Satan himself!

Last summer, I inadvertently got hit with this really nasty virus/malware thing that took my neighbor's son two days and two nights of working on my computer to remove files and folders to flash storage and any place else he could find for external ways to salvage my data and then, to root around, remove this, change that, over and over again, until he had finally removed the miserable little sucker that had my computer looking next to dead! I had accidentally misunderstood some stuff about that program and had been dumb enough to click on what actually opened a round-robin floodgate within my computer to screw things up.

Yesterday a.m. though, when I got up and went to check my e-mail, my facebook, my reader, and found the only thing I could access was my e-mail as the rest was giving me this error-alert-warning and this time, I didn't open anything pertaining to that stinking message but it still screwed up my computer for most of the day!

Luckily for me, since I couldn't locate my neighbor's son to see if he could fix my computer again, I did find a company online that I went through and the technician worked with me over the phone and doing the "fixing" via a remote connection, finally got the stupid problem cleared out. It cost me a lot more moola to have it done this way -seeing as my neighbor's son works quite cheaply but still, nice to know I had hooked myself into a company that was nice to deal with the tech guy -a very personable man who also explained things to me in simple English -no computerese -as we worked along and the whole process only took about 3 hours from start to finish too!

But now, that leaves my budget for the rest of this month pretty well shot in the behind too ya know!

And that means some of the things I had hoped to make payments on (like some of my medical bills) and oh, a few sales I will most likely have to bypass too of crafts stuff I'd like to order (stuff I really don't NEED but I do really WANT ya know) will have to go on hold a while longer I guess.

So thinking ahead to the next gift time coming my way -which doesn't arrive until my October birthday -I had kind of been hoping my kids would humor my likes and get me something that they will look at as being sort of football gifts because what I'd really like to receive for my birthday is a really nice, heavy and also, pretty sweatshirt -yes, you read that correctly -either a Nittany Lion sweatshirt or a maroon one that says Washington Redskins on it. And, please make it a hooded variety too, will ya?

I do have one Penn State sweatshirt now but I've had it for several years now, it's a bit faded and also been well-worn so time to replace that puppy and as for the Redskins, it's been many, many years since I last had a nice sweatshirt that designates that group as being my favorite professional football team!

Now if they really wanted to make me really, really happy, they could always take out a small business loan and get me tickets to either a Penn State game or a Redskins game but considering the costs involved in that, I'm more than happy to settle for a sweatshirt!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fun Day!

Today was one of those days that had a lot of laughs in it -most of 'em coming from my grandson, Kurtis!

His vocabulary is becoming something to behold -always a surprise what he'll come out with next.

This morning, after my normal computer time to check e-mail, look at Facebook and read posts, check my reader and read more posts , then read the newspaper online -CDT, from State College and after all that, wash dishes left from last night.

Once I got through all that, I decided the kitchen was an absolute royal mess so started to go through papers laying all over the place and pitch them in the trash. Moved on to trying to neaten up the divider counter and the island top -a job that took me the bulk of the afternoon but I did make some headway with it.

Most of the morning, Mandy and Kurtis were away -off to Clearfield with Ken looking for stain for the deck, a new screen for the front storm door and who knows what else.

Then, this afternoon -after I got a lot of stuff neatened up, a little organized, etc., I decided to bake a pan of Strawberry Cheesecake bars from a recipe I had found on the Taste of Home recipe site. Got that completed and in the fridge to chill and it was time to think about supper.

While waiting for Mandy to finish up a few things, I was playing on the computer a bit -first break time I'd had for well over 5 hours of being on my feet, working away in the kitchen, and Sam began to bark incessantly. I was doing my normal thing of yelling at him to "Shut the hell up" and then heard a voice at the front door saying that the dog wants out. Say what? Turns out Sam was barking because my neighbor from up the street had stopped by to return two of my plastic food storage containers that I'd put some leftover lasagne in one and some ginger cheesecake in the other and dropped them off Sunday evening for Shirley and her husband Bo.

Not one to return something empty, seems Shirley had filled the one container with some great home-baked Snickerdoodle cookies too! Mmmmm, love those cookies, I do!

Kurtis was upstairs when Shirley came in but when he came downstairs and she spoke to him, I asked him if he knew who this was and he said that he did so then I asked him, "What's her name?" He really surprised me -also made me really happy too -as he replied "Is Shirley." Yep, it is Buddy Boy! So nice to see him recognizing people and remembering then too who they are. Just some more progress going on here ya know!

However, after having been in the kitchen all day already, not having anything thawed to cook either, I made Mandy and offer she couldn't refuse.

So, away we went for supper at the "Pumpkin House" -also known as the West Branch Diner. That's a bit misleading actually as the true name of the place is the West Branch Diner but most everyone around here refers to it simply as the "Pumpkin."

We got there, got coffee and some root beer for Kurtis to try -his first time having anything other than milk at a restaurant and placed our order when Mandy commented to me about someone who had just come in the place.

"Mom! Aunt Carm just came in!"

My response was "Really! You're joking." And she assured me she wasn't joking and about that time, there was our old friend, my former next-door-neighbor, Carm!

I haven't seen her in several months and to prove how long it's been since I last saw her, she informed me she retired from the work force last October! WOW! Had it really been that long since that last time I'd talked to her? Guess it had.

So we invited her to join us and proceeded then to try to do a little catch-up in what's been happening in both our lives.

She was teasing me about my new hair style and then realized that it wasn't one I'd actually chosen but had kind of been forced into it when the chemo caused all my hair to fall out -back in October. And what little bit had been left behind, I had had the neighbor (Karen) come over and shave that tidbit leftover off!

But since late March now, the hair is slowly growing back in -thank you very much!

As usual, with Carm -who actually is not my kids' aunt but we refer to her and all her sisters and her brothers as this or that aunt or uncle,(makes life easier to identify then who we are talking about that way) we fell into a great easy conversation.

Carm's family -having been my next-door-neighbors from about 1951 until the early 70s when her parents sold the house next door to me to one of their daughters and her husband, so we still had a member of the Little family living beside us then for almost another 20 years! That, plus Carm's niece, who parents had purchased the family home, went on to marry my ex-husband's brother, so my kids then got in the habit of referring to Carm's Mom and Dad as Grammy and Pap because they heard their cousins calling them that. Again, just something that made life and identifications easier.

Although Carm is four years my junior, we've always been good, close friends. And she is quite a character too in her own right -very much fun to be around. She now lives over by Dubois but was down in our area to go up to the high school to observe the kids there on Prom night. One of her granddaughters was attending the prom as were at least two of her great-nieces as well. (And, Mandy and I later discovered that one of her great-nieces was the date of our cousin, Pj, too! Now, there's yet another small world kind of event, isn't it?) And after seeing pics on Facebook later of Pj and Carm's niece, I have to say they both have darned good taste!

Carm proceeded to tell us that on her way down the mountain, she'd stopped in Clearfield for some fuel for her car and apparently the kid working as an attendant at the station was admiring her. She is still one very good-looking lady, ya know! Anyway, their conversation got to the point where, after he had pretty much been trying to pick her up, she turned and asked him how old he is and the kid told her he's 25. At hearing that, and this is pretty much a typical response you'll likely get from her, she told him "Sweetheart, I have undies and the bottom of my drawer and shoes still in the floor of my closet that are older than you are!"

I sure would have loved to have seen the look on that kid's face though!

Kurtis was really wound up tonight at the restaurant too -jabbering about everything and anything! And being really cute too when Aunt Carm went to leave as he repeated to her all the last comments Mandy and I made to her. You know the usual -Good to see you again; take care, hope to see you again soon, etc. Yeah, he had his very own litany then of advice to her as she was leaving!

I have to say that today was a good day on so many fronts but especially that our decision to go to the Pumpkin House for supper really paid off in spades!

Just so nice to see Aunt Carm once again and to be able to share fun stories and get a little bit up-to-date with each others lives, ya know!

Now, it's about time that I get my self off to bed so I can get myself up early in the morning and hopefully, be ready on time to get to church, also on time! This may be something of a record setting thing if I do manage to do that as it has been ages since I managed to get to church two weeks in a row!

Wish me luck and say a prayer for me that I can do that!

And, as usual, I'll be saying prayers too for each and every one of you, my readers, too! (Yes, I do that!)

Nite-nite and Peace!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A New Food Group?

Friday night, for our supper, I decided to live dangerously and fix something along the Mexican line.

I do like to make things besides the standard fare from time to time -much as I too love Mac'n'cheese, which is by far and away my grandkids most favorite food item -I like to branch out now and again.

So tonight I had decided to give enchiladas a shot.

Trying something new here for supper is risky business ya know. Especially if I don't fix something else that is pretty much a guaranteed item that the kids will eat cause there can be severe wailing and gnashing of the teeth at meals with a new food substance.

Sheesh, the way these kids can react to a new food substance you'd swear they think way ahead of their capabilities -and of my cooking abilities too -and that I'm trying to poison them with extreme hgh or some other hormonal substance and such!

But anyway, tonight it was time to try the enchiladas and with great trepidation, we (Mandy and I) dished out a portion of the Mexican food onto each child's plate and then we sat back to eat and wait to see how quickly one or both of the kids would begin whining -or worse, screaming and crying -about the food on their plate.

But surprise, surprise! Nothing like that happened!

I was a bit astonished when after a couple of bites, I took a chance and asked Kurtis if he liked his food and he told me, quite plainly then too, "Yes, is very tasty!"

I asked Maya about her food and she wasn't quite as vociferous as her brother in making a comment and answered rather quietly that she liked it.

A double bonus! Both kids. Eating enchiladas! Amazing! Pinch me quick to make sure I'm not dreaming about this, ya know!

I do have to say though about this batch of enchiladas that they were a tad on the spicy side. When I ran up to the store to get the special things I needed to make them, the store didn't have any enchilada sauce so I purchased a store brand jar of salsa with the label reading "medium" pertaining to the heat/spiciness involved in the salsa and I have to say I'd consider that sauce as being labeled incorrectly. I love spicy food so things like that don't bother me but this stuff did leave a tad of a bite in the back of one's throat after a while! But to Kurt's credit, once that started to happen to him, he remarked that it was a little spicy and I said yes, a tiny bit but he soldiered on and ate almost every bit of the enchilada Mandy had given him!

Later on though, Mandy's best friend, Jenn-Jenn, came down to pick up Maya and take her up to her house to spend the night -a fairly normal thing for Maya to go and stay overnight with Jenn-Jenn and Nick-Nick and their family. We call Jenn Maya's second mother and her entire household is also Maya's second home!

While Jenn was here, waiting for Maya to get her stuff together, Mandy mentioned to Jenn about our supper and so Jenn questioned Kurtis about what he'd had to eat tonight. He scratched his head a bit, turning it up to look kind of questioningly at Mandy, then at Jenn and Mandy then said to him, about the stuff we'd had that he had said was "tasty" and finally, he pulled it out of the depths of his memory and spoke up, telling Jenn that he had had "En-cha-wawa's"

Needless to say, all of us -well the adults anyway -cracked up completely at his mispronunciation of enchiladas. I think we all probably had visions of someone chasing little Mexican dogs to catch them and turn them into the "en-cha-wawas!" But if that wasn't enough, a short time later, Kurt was still talking about his supper and then he told Jenn-Jenn that we'd had groundhog! Well, apparently he'd heard me talking about ground beef and just omitted the beef and tossed in the hog there on the end of that word. He does that a good bit now and again -after he hears something mentioned, he frequently then tries to use a word or several words in his own conversations but doesn't always get the words -or the context -right.

That's okay though. At least we know he's listening albeit it apparently really within his subconscious the way he brings things up later!

And at the end of the day, we know he's learning!

Boy, is he ever doing that!

Oh, The Memories!

This week -on Tuesday as a matter of fact -I had a very pleasant surprise.

My best friend from my working days in Washington, D.C. -which I left behind me in August of 1972 when my ex-husband and I moved back to my hometown here in Pennsylvania -phoned me!

Before Joan retired about two years ago now, we would talk on the phone, usually at most, once, maybe two times a year. The only exception to those calls were if something really drastic happened that we just had to share with each other and sadly, most of those calls were because someone we had both worked with back then had passed away.

But since she retired, we don't chat on the phone a whole lot more often -not something like every 4-6 weeks or so but we do call each other more than likely 4-6 times a year now and I have to confess, it is usually Joan who calls me. Although the old excuse we both had about not calling all the time was because of how much a call cost per minute and now, we both have unlimited calling on our phones, so there is no extra charge to either of us where our phone bills are concerned but nighthawk that I do tend to be, when I get the urge to make a phone call and just b.s. a hour or two away, it's usually gonna hit me about 1-2 a.m. and for some reason, I tend to think now that most people don't really appreciate calls at that hour of the night or more accurately, the morning!

Joan though (that's my friend's name) would tell you if she were to hear me make a comment such as the one above that calling at 1 or 2 a.m. never stopped me before and though that would be a true statement, I could clarify those actions today by reminding her that those were back in the days when I worked midnight shift and also, those were the days when I still drank too! LOL

It's always fun for me to chat with Joan though and its also inevitable that our conversations will cover most everything from soup to nuts and frequently even have a little bit of politics intermingled into the mix as well.

Then, for at least a day, sometimes several days after one of our phone conversations, I'll get on a bit of a tangent, remembering other things we maybe didn't even talk about but that were some of the funny things that often took place where we worked back then.

Last night, while telling Mandy some other silly stories about Joan's and my working days together, I happened to think of something -and this was something Joan and I had not talked about nor had anything even remotely come up in our conversation that might bring this to mind, but for whatever reason, I started telling Mandy about one of the liquid lunches that I recall from back in those good old days.

For some reason -which I don't remember now though -I was at the lounge in the restaurant across the street from our office -The Holiday Inn -and though there had been several other co-workers along on that day, by 2 p.m., the dedicated folks had gone back to work and we diehards were still there celebrating something. I don't recall all who had been there besides Joan and myself but I do remember the guy who was the director of the division where we worked was there (I think he was the one buying, come to think of it) and his secretary was with us too!

Joan and I and the rest of the girls who worked in our section -doing keypunch -rarely went to lunch with this guy -old "Hose Nose" as we often referred to him in the office. And to have his secretary with us was even more of a rare occasion!

His secretary though was quite a character in her own right -a tall, very statuesque woman, probably in her late 40s, perhaps early to mid-50s at the time and she was also very aware of the intimidating aspect her appearance held too. She always carried herself with an air that she was above the shenanigans that our key punch crew often were known to pull off around the office, throughout the building, for that matter. Jane was above all that!

Except on this particular occasion when I think she maybe had been partaking a bit heavily of the sauce and may have been oh, slightly tipsy because some how the conversation in the lounge had turned to cigars and the next thing you knew, there was Jane sitting there lighting up and then smoking this cigar! Remember this was in the late 60s so for a woman to smoke a cigar was quite a rather shocking thing.

This was about the time that the Robert Burns Cigar Company -the one I had worked at shortly after I graduated from high school -had introduced a public relations type campaign with the tag line of "Should a gentleman offer a lady a cigarillo?" (Or was it a tiparillo? Now, I can't remember the ad precisely but it was one of those things. One thing I do know for sure that it wasn't an ad offering a Davidoff!)

But I remember that I must have had one really shocked look on my face watching Jane -this really prim and very proper appearing lady -light up that cigar, that's for sure.

I later learned -after I transferred out of that division at work and went downstairs to work in the Administrative Services area -that appearances can be very deceiving. My boss who was the director of that division then informed me that many people around work rarely ever saw that side of Jane but when she cut loose, he told me, she had one really wild sense of humor!

Funny though, isn't it, the silly things that stick with us in our memory many, many years after the fact!

Working at that place I have to confess that rarely did a day go by at work but what someone didn't do something goofy, silly, sometimes downright crazy and yet, amidst all the laughter that flowed quite frequently, we still got the work load processed in a very timely manner.

Just goes to show you that a happy, friendly, fun-loving, practical joking work force is also a very, very productive one too, ya know!

Yep! Lots and lots of wonderful memories associated with my old friend Joan and that employer!

Best ever!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trouble with a Capital "T"!

I've never had this happen to me before but with the issues Blogger had yesterday, it seems they deleted posts put up on May 12th. It just so happens this post was written and published on May 12th (originally) and today, I discovered it had been deleted by Blogger. Lucky for me, I still had it on my reader so I did a paste and copy and here it is, back to life again! Thanks to those other bloggers who commented on Facebook that this error of Blogger's had happened or I never would have known my post had been obliterated!

Two questions here for you tonight.

First, have you ever seen the musical, "The Music Man" and if so, do you remember the song in that production that details how having a pool hall in River City means trouble and that trouble is with a "Capital T?" If so, then that may give you a tiny bit of an inkling that I didn't have the best of days yesterday.

And my second question is this: Have you ever witnessed the black screen of death on your computer monitor?

If so, then you'll probably understand completely why I was worried sick all afternoon yesterday, convinced I was going to have to go and apply for what I refer to as a "small business loan" or at the very least, find some places to go for some personal loans.

The problem I experienced began when Mandy and Ken decided they were going to power wash the deck on the back of the house, along with the siding all over the house too. Sounded like a reasonable idea to me until when they plugged the darned thing in and it blew a circuit breaker.

Well, initially I didn't think too much about the blown circuit breaker, cause that does happen every now and again -not frequently, ya know -but every now and again and yesterday, when it happened and the tv shut off, I figured it will all be okay as soon as they get the thing plugged in someplace where it will work okay for them.

However, I didn't realize it immediately that the blown circuit breaker was the item that was responsible for the black screen of death that was then appearing on my monitor! Hmmm. How can this be happening to me?

Because I am not a rocket scientist nor am I a computer engineer type person, my initial reaction was to go and tell my son's girlfriend -who is pretty adept about computer stuff -and she told me it sounded like I might have fried my computer!

Say what? Here I was thinking that it was some kind of issue with the monitor because there was nothing showing on the screen and the blue light on the was coming on so that told ME that the computer was working, just not the monitor but Elizabeth informed me it was actually just the reverse. She said the monitor is probably okay but the tower -probably not so much!

Sheesh! That's when my stomach really began to churn big time and the nerves came out of the closet where they've been hiding since the last time my computer went nutso-wonky on me by picking up a really horrid and nasty virus last summer. I was on the verge of, as my son so sweetly put it in a Facebook post, suffering through the "D.T's!"

But I finally pulled myself together and phoned a friend who lives on the street up the hill and behind our place and who also just so happens to be a bit of a computer geek/guru and within ten minutes he was here, gathered up my tower and took it home to have a good old "look about" at the innards of my computer.

Figuring I might be in for a long siege of computer withdrawal while our friend was working on my sweet baby computer, I got in touch with my ex-son-in-law who had "borrowed" my old computer and asked him if he would please bring it home to me when he came home from work tonight. He said no problem to that and about 7 p.m. or so, he dropped the old computer off on my desk.

Then I took one look at that tower and the mess of wires and such that all got plugged in someplace in the back of a computer and my stomach began churning all over again.

I didn't have clue one as to where any of these wires should go on my old computer and from what I could see, I had the sinking feeling that I wouldn't be able to hook up my old computer using the cables and such laying in an ugly black, tangled up mass on my desk because one thing I didn't see on the back of the old computer were any little USB ports! And I could see plain as day that a lot of these wires and cable and such also came supplied with just that -a USB port thingy to be inserted in of course, a USB port.

So I phoned my geek/guru friend and told him I had the old computer but couldn't make heads or tails out of this mess of stuff laying on my desk to be hooked up somewhere. So he said not to panic because he would be over in about 10 minutes or so to oversee things.

And much to my surprise, when he did arrive in yes, about ten minutes, he also came carrying in my lovely sweet baby computer, all healed and ready to be hooked up in a jiffy and fired up then, ready for me to use it until the next time -hopefully never -it breaks down again!

Seems the computer was pretty much in need of a very healthy dusting out inside and everything came back to life, nice as can be!

Thank goodness. Tragedy was averted for me. And trust me, a sick, broken computer to me spells Trouble with a capital "T"!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Winter Works!

I've been saying on several occasions here that one of these days I would get around to taking pictures of the crafts stuff I've done since the beginning of the year but never got around to doing that.

Well how lucky are you today now!

I finally finished the last project I've been working on for the past month or a little over a month, actually, tonight and decided it was high time that I got to taking pictures of these items.

If you're on Facebook, you can see them there in an album I set up and posted tonight. But since many of you aren't on Facebook, here's the accumulation of things I have embroidered since January 1st of 2011.

Yes, I've been a busy little old Grannie doing all this stuff but the thing is, it doesn't feel like work to me because I really enjoy doing the embroidery. It actually relaxes me very much, helps me clear my mind and not dwell on things that would otherwise upset me and make me very nervous and/or depressed.

So doing this stuff is really -believe it or not -very beneficial for me.

Anyway -here goes with the pictures!

"Blue Jacobean"
standard-size pillowcase set

"The Aristocrat"

Standard-sized pillowcase set

"Three Snowmen"

Standard sized pillowcase set

Single pillowcase
from the Disney collection

"Choo Choo"

Standard size pillowcase set

"Floral Path"
Tabletopper -32x32 inch

"Floral Path" Tabletopper
32x32 inch

"Winter Church"
32x32 inch

"Winter Church"
32x32 inch

54x54 inch
"Bright Blues"

Four flowers in the center
of 54x54 inch tablecloth

"Bright Blues"

Corner Flower
Tablecloth -54x54 inch
"Bright Blues"

The entire "Bright Blues" Set!

Tablecloth -54x54 inch
6 very nice sized (large) napkins
that match the tablecloth!

And, there you have it -the assortment of embroidered items I've finished since the first of the year.

Well, there are two other tablecloths I did in those 4 months too but I already posted the pictures of them when I completed each on since they were birthday presents -one for each of my daughters.

Now, to figure out which item in my stash collection I'm gonna tackle next. Another big tablecloth, maybe? Or will it be some tabletoppers or more pillowcases? Maybe even a dresser scarf to put on top of the mantelpiece over the fireplace? I haven't decided as yet what is next on the agenda there but one thing for sure is that I have a big old plastic tote container filled to the brim with all kinds of kits in those various areas to choose from.

If I get really brave and daring, who knows, I might even decide to tangle with a counted cross stitch piece too! Not sure if I'm up to that right now though as counted cross stitch does tend to make me more than a bit cross-eyed. (Also increases my blue vocabulary too as there's generally a whole lot of cursing going on when I'm working on counted cross stitch.

Oh well, time will tell and as soon as I figure out what I'm gonna do, you'll be second to find out. First will be my daughter Mandy and the grandkids!


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Not Your Average Day!

In about seven minutes from now, this Mother's Day will come to an end and a new day will begin the 24-hour countdown then.

As Mother's Day celebrations go, today was really one of the best in my memory of those events!

Although my older daughter -and her son, my older grandson -Alex -couldn't be with us since she works the midnight shift at a hospital in her area and also, she had work tonight too -and we all want those people who care for us in the hospitals to have been able to get enough rest to be there for us, to be able to be awake/alert too while doing their jobs, don't we now? But although we missed her presence, the card she sent me for Mother's Day did compensate a whole lot in her absence as her sister and I really got a great big chuckle out of that card!

Three cards for Mother's Day -one from each of my lovely children -and only one of the three cards was of the sweet, syrupy and very sentimental type. And that one this year was from my baby, Mandy.

Regardless of the tone of the cards, I loved all three of them very much and they helped make the day one that was really very pleasure-filled, for sure.

Neither Mandy nor I had to cook today as Ken (Mandy's boyfriend) had made two great big pans of his lasagne, which has to be the absolute best in flavor, with a great meat sauce and oodles of cheese! I did make a dessert for our meal today -made it last night -and it turned out to be a big hit too. It's called Ginger Cheesecake and it definitely fills the bill for all the requirements I have in a recipe. It was easy on the ingredients, easy to put together, looked like I had slaved for a considerable amount of time preparing it and best of all, it tasted great! I got the recipe off the back of a package of Betty Crocker's Gingerbread Cookie Mix and you can bet your bottom dollar this is one dessert that will make its way to our table again!

Not only was today Mother's Day but it was also a day for a birthday celebration too. My son's girlfriend, Elizabeth, celebrated her birthday today as she and Clayton were here for dinner and he also got her a nice little chocolate cake -which was a huge hit with Kurtis who loves, loves, loves virtually anything chocolate, ya know. Kurt was very psyched up about today being Elizabeth's birthday and spent a good part early in the day practicing, honing up on his singing abilities so he had the "Happy Birthday" song absolutely down pat!

We - Mandy, both children and I -all made it to church too Sunday morning! Quite a feat for me to accomplish this as I am not one to be able to "rise and shine" early in the morning as you may recall. But I managed to do it today, thankfully.

The Women's Group at our church have a special project going on right now and that's to ask members of the congregation to provide any -or all, if they can afford it -items on a list of things that will go into making up layette packages that will then be sent to various places around the country here or around the world, to be given to new mothers to help them begin the never-ending job of trying to provide as best they can for the basic needs of their infants. Today, we were to bring the items we had to donate to the service and then, during the Children's Sermon, Pastor Carrie had the children help her to collect those items which were then placed in the bassinette that our Group's President (Mary Kay) still had from when her son was an infant about 45 years ago! Mary Kay had trimmed the sides of this infant bed with loads of flowers so it looked very pretty and believe me, those little ones sitting around the altar rail with Pastor Carrie were quite proud and happy to be able to help Pastor Carrie collect the items and put them in the bed for babies in need, world-wide.

As we were leaving church, I made a comment to Mandy to invite Pastor Carrie and her mother to come down and join us for dinner at our house. Pastor Carrie's mother is visiting here till mid-June and they accepted our invitation. We had such a fun mean as the more I am around Pastor Carrie and her mother, the more convinced I am that somehow, someway, we must be related because listening to them tell stories about the rest of their family -all back home in Wisconsin -and her Mom and I compare notes about child rearing, it always gives me such a great feeling inside to know I'm not alone in having raised kids who where quite the characters when they were small and still are to this day! It made for a really fun meal, filled to the brim with some great food and lots and lots of laughter! Both things that are great to have when you have a family plus friends meal!

After dinner, when it was just the kids, Mandy, Ken and I here, as I began the job of putting leftover food away, I decided to share some of our bounty with some neighbors of ours. I packaged up a big serving of the lasagne along with a couple pieces of the dessert I had made to take to our neighbor lady three doors up the street from us. She is a very nice -excellent neighbor actually -single lady in her early 80s now and she's been my neighbor all my life. Then I also fixed two containers -one with two slices of lasagne and the other with a couple slices of the cheesecake to take up to give to my good friend, Shirley and her husband. I also took along the tablecloth and napkin set I have been working on for the past month now to show to Shirley. ( I should be working on right now so as to finally get it completed as I only have about an hour's worth of work left to go on this set and it will be done, done, done! But I also know if I don't write this post now, by tomorrow, I probably will have forgotten several little minor details to relate here then too.)

When I dropped off the little "care" packages to Shirley and Bo and then, showed her my tablecloth set, we got started chatting -just like we always do when we get together and before you knew it, I'd spent well over an hour there then talking with her about all kinds of things -not just embroidery.

I told her though that Pastor's Mom had told me about a store near to where she lives in Wisconsin that sells a little bit of everything but it's apparently one of those salvage type places where they buy up all kinds of extra inventory from other firms at dirt cheap prices and then, resell the stuff but also at very, very low prices too. She said this place has a separate section though that is nothing but crafting items and she has often purchased things like pillow case sets for as low as $1.50 for the pair -already stamped and ready to be embroidered. Hearing that had me drooling big time at the dining room table and I remarked that perhaps Shirley, her sister, Kate, and I might just have to organize an excursion of sorts, for the three of us to travel to Wisconsin just to visit this crafts corner in that store.

I mentioned this idea to Shirley who just howled laughing at that idea, saying the very last thing she needs is to purchase more craft things but I know -just as I'm sure she knows too -that were it possible for the three of us to finagle a way to make a trip like that, Shirley and I would both come back home all loaded down with, yes, more embroidery kits. And I am pretty doggone sure we would do just that because when it comes to stuff like that, we both lose our "need vs. want" theories and the "Want" one would take precedence! Even though neither of us really has any more room to spare in which we could store such things, kits like those at really great prices are absolutely next to impossible for either of us to ignore.

While visiting with Shirley she also told me a really fantastic but true story on one of my favorite type of topics: the "Small World" theory about life. It's a great story that I would love to share but won't do that today because it would make this post way too long and right now, it's already about to my mini-version of War and Peace that I tend to write in my blog.

So I'll spare you that story tonight but will try to keep it all in the forefront of my memory to write about it soon as it is a really great story, in my opinion.

And now, as Mother's Day has officially ended here for 2011, and I'm still basking in how great the day was for me anyway, I'm gonna close out now, go finish that tablecloth (so I can then begin work on yes, another tablecloth. What else did you expect?) And then, I'm gonna go crawl into bed with my little sleeping buddy, Miss Maya and be off to dreamland in probably three shakes of a lamb's tail, as my Grandma used to say.

Here's hoping all of you -my readers -who share the status with me of being a Mom, have had a day even half as excellent a day as mine was for me today!

Peace and Happy Mother's Day every day!

Friday, May 06, 2011

What's In the Future?

You've all read plenty here by now of the various embroidery projects I have completed. I know, I know -a lot! I've done several things now thus far this year too but have only put pictures of two of the projects I have completed since January 1st on either my blog or on my Facebook.

Why is that -considering I have completed two large tablecloths (those were gifts for my daughters for their respective birthdays and those are the two items I have photographed and posted about.) But in addition t them, I've also completed three sets of pillow cases, a table topper and am almost finished now with a slightly larger tablecloth that comes with a set of six napkins too -but I've been really lazy about photographing them.

I think I mentioned a long, long time ago my plan -such as it is or was -was to do these embroidered items and then, set up an Etsy account to try to sell these items on that. Well, I opened an Etsy account oh, about two years ago now but have never got around to activating it completely.

Why? Because I don't feel I have enough items in an inventory nor do I have the needed information about shipping stuff either, in order to complete the activation process.

One thing for sure is at the snail's pace that I work on the embroidered stuff, I won't need to worry about needing any barcode scanners to track my inventory or sales! That is definitely for sure there!

Granted, as speed with embroidered work goes, some of my friends here who also enjoy doing embroidered work, think I am a bit of a speed demon. But trust me, if you are trying to make things that you might like to try to sell in an online market, I am still really slower than slow, for sure!

I had thought about putting some other hand-made items I have completed and stashed away here in a make-shift sort of inventory but, although I found the photos I had taken of those items, be darned if I could remember where in blazes I had stashed the box where I had put the things!

These were about 30 handmade baby bibs I had sewn a good while back and a couple close friends of mine had seen them and had liked them a lot -enough so that they had me make some more that they then purchased as great little baby gifts or for use by their grandchildren.

Well, I sure as heck couldn't very well open an Etsy sales site showing these photos of these cute little bibs though if I couldn't find my already made stash of 'em, could I?

Although I thought I had hunted high and low, scoured every known hiding place I thought I had for those darned bibs, do you think I could find 'em? No. Sirree!

Until that is, last week when I was actually on a search and destroy mission for a pair of slide sandals I've had for about the past 8-10 years now and well-worn as they may be, I still love 'em and wear them most of the time during the summer months.

While searching for those sandals, I came across a box I hadn't spied in my earlier searches of the boxes shoved under my bed and lo and behold, there were all those darned bibs I had been on the major search and destroy mission for a few months back.

This may or may not mean I will soon be activating my Etsy account but at least, it does bring the possibility of that ever happening just a tad closer!

Glare in the Square!

Yesterday, I took Sammy out for our regular walk but that walk ended up being far from "regular" as those things go for me -and for him!

We headed down the road towards Peale and right after crossing the little bridge that goes over the Moravian Run -always/often referred to by locals here as "The Sulfur Creek" -I did something I've never done before on any of our walk-abouts.

We left the roadway!

We went off to the left of the road, crossed over a rocky drainage ditch put in last year with the big mine reclamation project that extends from Cooper Two across the mountain to where it ends, just about at the beginning edge of Peale. And, we followed a little road, of sorts, that probably came about for the company that did the reclamation to build and use to get their workers back up on that end of the mountain and to get their heavy equipment maybe moved up there via that route as well.

What's so unusual about this part of our journey is that I have only ever gone off the beaten track in my walks on two other occasions -both times, my grandson, Alex, was with me too. One time was when we went exploring what once was the park that existed for many years in Peale and the second time, was a walk Alex, the dog and I took out along Cooper Two Road.

I don't like doing that -leaving the road -because I am actually terrified that if I wandered around the woods like that, I am increasing my chances of encountering something I truly would loathe, abhor and hate to see in my walks -a big old snake of the rattler or copperhead type, ya know! They'd probably hear me screaming for miles around if that kind of encounter have happened to me!

But anyway, yesterday was my day for feeling quite adventurous -apparently. And an adventure it was too, trust me! A long one - a very long, hard pull walking up that road, up that hill to see what I could see.

But, once I got to almost the top and to the beginning of that edge of the reclamation project, the view there was awesome, truly awesome and beautiful! So it was well worth the aches and pains then -and later -in my legs and back and the huffing and puffing to arrive at that point too!

Although I did take some pictures along our walk at the top of the hillside there, only a couple of them are really decent enough to post.

The reason -or what I place the blame on anyway -that several of my shots are buggered up is the darned glare on the little square -that screen on my camera!

I was thinking that with the sunshine yesterday, not only would some nike sunglasses be a good investment for me but if some kind of "sunglasses" as it were could be fitted on my camera some how so that I could see what I am trying to focus on with the camera and not be blinded by that glare so much so that I have no clue if what I'm trying to photograph is even within my view-finder at all, that would be really awesome. Well in my book anyway and yes, we all do know by now how convoluted "my book" is though, don't we?

I did manage to get two pictures though of an area in the reclamation land that I think might possibly be the tippy-top of what used to be the old bony pile out by Cooper Two.

See that kind of greyish-black mound sort of in the center of this shot? That's what looks to me like it could be the top of what used to be the old bony pile. And if it is indeed that, then finding what could be left now of that old bony pile made this little walking jaunt all the more worth while for me!

It used to be one of the most hated sights around our lovely little village -at least by my Grandmother's standards of nice or not so nice things to see. She absolutely hated that thing -found it to be ugly, gross and flat out disgusting! And I suppose depending on how one would have viewed it, day in and day out, from our kitchen window, as she could plainly see it from there while doing dishes or trying to prepare meals for the family, maybe it was what she saw in it there.

For a long while, I too sort of shared her view, her opinion too, of that thing.

But guess what?

Now that it is pretty much dead and buried by the ground being moved around and over top of it, I find I kind of miss not seeing it there!

Ugly as it may have been, it was also a major part of the town's history and that's the part I miss today!

The Overlord Wishes...

One of my favorite bloggers - Bud, at Older Eyes - recently passed on an award to me - The Overlord -and if I understand the rules (other than that you have to write a post and pass this award on to other bloggers who you believe would not just follow the award rules but also, who conform to the status of being an actual Overlord, here then is my take on this idea.

My interpretation of being an Overlord is that it would be kind of akin to being King (or in my case, maybe "Queen") for a day and getting one's wishes, regardless how outrageous they might be, granted then.

Oh, to have such power!

When I went to bed last night, I had this award and thoughts about what I'd want done on my mind, thinking a good night's sleep might open my mind to thoughts that were great, mighty and worthy of the status of being an Overlord.

Before I could even get into my bed though, my thoughts were totally disrupted by the fact my bed buddy -Miss Maya -had the covers all so darned twisted up that I practically had to remake the bed before I could even lay my body down there.

So my initial thoughts about what I'd want were to never have to do something and then, redo, redo, redo things! Okay, with a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old always around, getting into things, making messes and never being willing to even help clean up, much less listening and doing it by themselves, that is a pretty powerful thought there, don't 'cha think? Unlikely, but were it possible, very powerful and okay, it's still one of my dreams just as it has been for oh, the past 44 years now, pretty much! (Boy, if my kids read this post and pay attention to this paragraph, I'm liable to get a whole lot of grief from then over this thought/theory! Might just ruin my Mother's Day gifts for sure, huh?)

I thought too about trying to remember some funny, pithy things that would be good for an Overlord to have, to us but as often happens when my brain is challenged along these lines, I had a massive dose of "chemo brain deadness" strike me so, we'll cancel out the idea of anything that is cute or comical then I guess.

Instead, because this has been on my mind a lot this week, in view of the world news of Sunday night, I decided to focus on something that I seriously would like to see, would like if I had the power, to use it then on people the world over.

And that would be that all prejudices would be automatically wiped out, erased, done away with and that peace would then reign supreme -as it should be!

Think about the events of this Sunday though for a moment and remember back to just after the 9-11 attacks when the news broadcasts were showing photos of people, mostly in the middle east, who were dancing in the streets, celebrating the loss of those lives from the attacks and how horrid it made us, as a people -a nation -feel to see people elsewhere celebrating the senseless loss of life. Then think about the scenes shown Sunday night and Monday of people in this country reveling in the killing of Osama bin Ladin. Is there a difference there between those doing that in 2001 and today?

I think not!

What I see here, what I also fear here too that will most likely happen, is that through the elimination of Bin Ladin and those pictures of Americans celebrating that fact, it will only create a new, perhaps even larger rift in the international society of people to provide yet another reason, excuse, for even more -perhaps even greater violence and so, the revenge factor lives on and on for more generations yet to come.

And, do we all really want that for ourselves -for our children, grandchildren?

There are those who will no doubt take my words to mean that I admired Bin Ladin but I don't. He was, in my opinion, a very despicable man, to be sure. But, regardless of what our feelings were about him, death is never a thing to be celebrated except within our own religious beliefs that the person has now entered eternal rest. Please remember, just as we were offended by others celebrating the loss of lives on 9-11 and the pain that caused in our own hearts, so too does his death leave his family -wives and children, brothers, cousins, etc. -grieving too and we should at least have the decency to give them that much respect.

In doing that, being respectful of the dead, it makes us the better person/people in the end. I suppose my logic is a bit convoluted here -which is, let's face it -generally the way my logic always tends to run. I am as relieved as the next person may be that Bin Ladin is no longer able to orchestrate more violence towards our country or any country for that matter but I still don't believe it to be acceptable to laugh, sing and dance with glee over his death.

Now, to my other wish as Overlord -and this is really important too -I would make it mandatory that Donald Trump get two things - a sense of humor and a much needed decent hair cut.

To conclude this little post, I now am supposed to pass this Overlord on -in the effort to make this award and posts a viral thing -on to other bloggers who, for various reasons, I think write some darned good stuff and would have some really great requests if they too were able to be an Overlord for a post, a day, week, lifetime perhaps.

And the winners from my perspective are:

Mary Anne at A Place I Call Home -for her ability to see things and put a really great perspective to work in her writings.

Dianne - at Forks Off The Moment -another blogger who doesn't fear voicing her opinions and often quite strongly too! But at the end, as she always says, "We still have Hope!"

Sandy McBride -at Holding Patterns -for all her insights on life and for a blog where you can listen to some really great music while reading her great stuff as well!

Magazine Man at Somewhere on the Mast - who though he hasn't posted anything in quite sometime now, writes some awesome stuff when he does get around to blogging! I'm willing to bet the family farm that if he were to have Overlord status,he'd have some really terrific wishes to bestow, for sure! Just take the time to read some of his posts for the sheer enjoyment of his great writing. You won't regret it!

Terri -at Into The Mystic - Because she's my avid bowling friend from up north in Minnesota who always has some great thoughts and good things to say!

Jocelyn -at Oh Mighty Crisis -a blogger who is truly a wordsmith of the highest caliber. Currently on sabbatical from her college professor work as an English instructor, residing for a few more months in Turkey, she's got some wild, wacky and yes, often profound stuff to be found at her place!

And finally -to my old blogging buddy, now in "retirement" from blogging but maybe an award like this (considering how he always LOVED to get awards) would bring him back to life for yet another post -Suldog! He's one blogger who really is quite deserving of an award like this -a great writer and one who would probably love nothing better than being an Overlord and able to put his wishes out there for all of us to see. Worth a shot to see if I can get him to come back to life for at least one more post, ya know!

And now, having done my duty, so to speak, I'm finished here for the moment anyway. Off to do some other stuff -walk the dog, housework, get ready for the Friday afternoon fights to begin when the grandkids get home from school, cook, embroider and oh yes, read a bunch of posts waiting on my reader now too for me to tackle and see what great things are happening all around blogland!

Cheers -and Peace!