Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Playwright!

Earlier this evening, as I was passing through the dining room, I noticed Maya was bent over the table with a bunch of papers and writing something. Knowing she had finished her homework (reading) for the day, I asked her what she was doing there. Her answer was "I'm writing my play!"

Well, okay now! Nothing like setting you goals in life early, is there?

So I looked at one of the pages and seeing where she had this printed "Cariter" and not being able to figure out what the heck that was, I asked her to read that word for me. She promptly informed me it says "Character" and I promptly informed her too that she sort of had that spelled incorrectly.

When Mandy and I were talking a bit later, I told her that Maya is writing a play and that these papers on the dining room table were her work thus far. Needless to say, we both got a big chuckle out of the whole thing and Mandy said I had to scan these and then write about them so here they are -the early works of Maya K. Wagner.

The names of the actors in this play are as follows:
    Dawn Bubba-Smith -that would be the name of Kurt's TSS (except that her surname is not "Bubba-Smith" and I have no clue where she got that from!
    Brittany Gonder -well that's the name of Maya's TSS.
   Kurtis Wagner - Maya's little brother.
   Maya Wagner -of course, our little playwright.

Now, I realize reading these scripts and not being familiar with her penmanship, etc., I will try here to translate each person's roles as she has them written.

* The word "cariter" on each script blurb is Maya's way of spelling "Character."

Name: Dawn Bubba-Smith - Cariter: Paleontoloquist. Songs: Get those fossils. Dritcet the Dinos. Run Away/Finale. Dino World/ Bows. Team Dino.
Lines: Kill all the dinos.

Next role.
Name: Brittany Gonder. Cariter: Stegosaurus. Songs: Dino World. Help T-Rex. Run Away. Kill T-Rex. Team Dino. How we were made. Help us not be extnked. Run Away/Finale. Dino World/Bows.
Lines: Go team Go.

Name: Kurtis Wagner. Cariter: T-Rex. Songs: Dino World. How we were made. Help us not be extinked. Run awa/Finale. Dino World/Bows. Team Dino
Lines: Help me they are killing me help.

Name: Maya Wagner. Caricter: Pteranodon. Songs: Dino World, Help T-Rex, Run Away. Kill T-Rex. how we were made. Help us not be extinked. Run Away/Finale. Dino World/Bows. Team Dino.
Lines: On it Sr. Branchio. I am Pteranodon not a dragon. Go dinos go. Attack T-Rex Now.

I typed these parts and lines, instructions just as Maya has them written down -if the spelling is right, that's fantastic! And in some cases I left her spelling alone -just to give the full effect. If you haven't figured it out yet, her word "extnked" is as she printed it and I think she means "extinct" there if I'm not mistaken.

One thing though I realized while reading this and typing this up is that she apparently is writing a musical and it worries me now if that is the case, we may need to consider getting Schecter Guitars so she can learn to play and do her own accompaniment that way too I suppose!

But I would imagine when the money comes rolling in from her brilliant works, that will all be paid for out of the profits.


Monday, May 28, 2012

No Secrets Here!

Aside from the weather yesterday, the weekend has actually been very nice. Hot, yes. But nice all the same.

Sunday afternoon we got hit with some really strong electrical activity in the atmosphere. I'm definitely not a big fan of electrical storms -not at all -and yesterday sure was no exception to that for me.

The storm blew in shortly before 5 p.m. (I'm guesstimating the time but I think it was around that time) and was strong in pelting rain, high winds and lightning and more lightning. Somewhere between 5 and 6 p.m. there was a really sharp flash of lightning and also, a really, really loud thunderclap then too and presto magic, the power went out!

I was worried initially about how Kurtis would handle this storm as he tends to wig out over the lightning, especially when there is a power outage but yesterday, he actually did quite well during the storm. He did have his little 20 questions actually means 40 questions game going on and had one question after the other about the storm, the thunder, the lightning and mainly about how long is the power going to be off? But, at least he didn't wig out and have a massive meltdown, which was a relief. I really think the fact that it was daylight when the power went out and any other time we have lost power it was already dark outside is what helped him not to get totally terrified.

He fell asleep on the sofa probably around 8 p.m. or shortly thereafter and the power didn't come back on until almost 9 p.m. However, the cable, telephone and internet were all three down for the count until about 10:30 p.m. -much to my relief there! Only so much solitaire I can handle on the computer.

Thankfully, when the storm hit, we had already had our big meal for the day so it didn't interrupt any grilling activity. I fixed my own recipe of grilled chicken breasts in a liquid sort of rub consisting of lime juice, chile powder, a bit of black pepper and garlic salt mixed, brown sugar, about 1-2 tablespoons of oil and Worchestershire sauce. Just mixed up those components, drizzled it over the chicken, then spread it around with a basting brush and let it marinate for about 2 hours. I pre-cooked the chicken in the oven and then, transferred it to the grill so it was cooked all the way through and only grilled it long enough to give it the heat and flavor from the grilling. To go with the chicken, I fixed a pasta and vegetable salad from one of my many cookbooks and a small container of baked beans. The chicken and pasta salad both went over quite well with everyone present yesterday -including Kurtis! Of course, he had to have a big blob of ranch dressing to dip his chicken in which is standard operating procedure for him regardless of how any kind of poultry is cooked. Gotta have that Ranch dressing for dipping, ya know.

Maya wasn't home Saturday as she was spending the day -and night too -up at Mandy's best friend, Jenn's place. Seems they have a pool in their backyard and that was right up Miss Maya's alley. She didn't come home until a little after 4 p.m. today then.

Although Mandy had received a phone call earlier today from the kid's Dad, asking if he could see the kids, she didn't tell them about that in case he pulled a number he's often noted for and that's saying he'll be here and then, not showing up. So rather than run the risk of the kids being disappointed, she didn't mention it to them at all and just let them be surprised when he showed up.

Maya was supposed to be cleaning up the pig sty she refers to as "her room" but wasn't all that interested in completing that task -especially not after her Dad showed up. However, he went upstairs with her to do a mix of supervising her clean-up job and helping her with the task too. When they came back downstairs, my son, Clate's girlfriend, Elizabeth was here, sitting at the table with me having a bite to eat. Maya, Bill and Kurtis all came into the dining room at the same time and upon seeing Elizabeth seated at the table, Maya shocked all of us with her decision to "introduce" Elizabeth to Bill. (A process not needed since he had camped out for several months at Clate's house and definitely knew Elizabeth already.)

But anyway, Maya turned to Elizabeth and said, "Have you met my Dad? He was in jail back in January!"

Now granted this was the truth because he had been picked up and spent a couple days in the pokie for non-support but we were all pretty shocked simply by Maya's nonchalance in stating this to Elizabeth like that.

Truth be told, I started to giggle over that remark and had a hard time to finish eating because the way she had said that just struck me as so darned comical.

Bill then told us that both kids had given him the third degree while upstairs with them, asking him all kinds of questions about what it is like to be in jail, how you get put there and well, you name it, they asked him about it!

So now, look out because Maya knows all there is to know (at least in her book anyway) about what happens when you go to jail!

Important things to know just in case you ever get sent there, I guess her motto is "Be prepared!"

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Social Room!

Mandy's always planning ahead for some event or another and right now, one of the things on her mind is her brother's 39th birthday coming up in August this year. It will also mark her nephew -my older grandson, Alex's 15th birthday too -three days before Clate's so we usually try to have a combined family party then for the two of them at the same time.

One of the things Mandy has mentioned to me that she thinks one of us should consider getting for Clate is something she says he definitely needs in the "Social Room" at his house. (The Social Room is the area that I think used to be the dining room in years long past for the family that previously owned this old house but Clate has transformed it into a bar! He has a really nice bar built in there, along with a big old refrigerator that holds a half a keg of beer -nice, for when you want to relax and have a good cold brew of draft beer. (Nothing much better than that, at times, is there?) He also has his stereo system built into the wall behind the bar which is nice but would be nicer if it were working at 100% right now and Mandy thinks he also needs an audio rack there too so he could better keep track of his cds and such.

I picked up on the vibes she was trying to be so subtle about in that respect and I gather now that is what she thinks I should get him -or that she and I maybe should consider getting him for his birthday.

Okay -it's a nice idea, I'll grant you that and, unless she discovers something else between now and August 22nd that she likes better, it will probably make the gift list for him then.

But you can also bet your bottom dollar even if we (or I) get him that, between now and then, she'll also be on a major search and destroy type mission looking for something else to get him along the lines of a gag gift or two as well.

It does make for a lot more fun when his birthday rolls around because of that and makes the Social Room really quite the fun place to be then!


May of 1982 marks the beginning of a really great time in my life. It was that month, that year when I went to work at the Truckstop in Snow Shoe and thus began my relationships, my friendships, some of which last even today, with many truckers, mostly from Ohio and Pennsylvania.

It was then that I met a particular trucker who drove for Interstate Systems and who lived in a park in western Pennsylvania.

Short, a bit on the rotund side, looking kind of like a beardless Santa Claus and sounding very much like every kid's thoughts about how Santa would or should sound, this man was Regis Ryan and little did I know when I first got to know him just how much I would come to treasure not just Reg but his wife, Mary Ellen, his sons, grandkids and the place where he lived.

And, so did my kids!

Reg and Mary Ellen lived at Conneaut Lake Park, north of Sharon, PA and in addition to the house they lived in, they also owned a cottage, through the gate and across the street -as Reg would tell you, the cottage is 2 blocks down from Kiddy Land!

That summer marked the first time my kids and I went to Conneaut Lake Park -for the Teamsters Picnic in mid-June -and it was the beginning of a time when my family and I fell in love with this place, this park and especially with these two very special people who resided there, who took us in under their wings, and provided my kids and me so much -more than I could ever begin to repay them for that's for certain.

Reg's CB handle was "Old Granddad" but most people who knew him well usually just called him "Granddad" and my kids were no exception to that rule. But aside from that being his CB handle, he was very much like a Grandfather-type to them, which was nice since they barely knew their grandparents who lived in Illinois, rarely came east for a visit and I think 1983 was the one and only time the kids and I managed a trip to Illinois for a visit with them.

I loved Conneaut Lake Park too for the lovely little lake the town is named for -obviously, Conneaut Lake! The amusement park there wasn't all that large but it was big enough for my kids to have a blast using the park tickets 'Pap -as they came to call Reg -and Mary Ellen would put aside for them for use whenever we managed to get away from home and would drive up to the lake for a short stay.

It was there that Pap took my older daughter, Carrie,  two other waitresses from "the Shoe" and me out on his boat for the day and made a very strong attempt to teach the three girls how to water ski. I don't think any of them actually managed to get up on the skis in the water but I do know we all had a great time out on the lake.

Here's Pap's boat at the dock -just waiting for us to board and have a fun and sun-filled day on the water!

Most of our visits to the Park we -the kids and I -would stay at the cottage across the street from Pap's house that he and Mary Ellen owned and which was usually rented out all the time from Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Except for one weekend in June -when the Teamsters would come to the Park and hold their picnic there and Mary Ellen and Pap wouldn't rent the cottage that weekend because they kept space available there for friends from out of town to use the cottage.

Now this cottage was far from fancy -no sirree! It was what I would characterize as being the typical getaway place, furnished with very old, antiquated maybe would be a better word, rustic furniture. Staying in the cottage meant fraternizing with people from all over the place who you would meet on Teamster weekend and maybe see there again here and there over the years and maybe never see them again either but you played board gamed, cards, horseshoes and drank beer, ate meals at Reg and Mary Ellen's house and thoroughly enjoyed the R&R that was provided there!

I don't recollect right now what year Pap retired -I'm thinking it was either 1983 or 1984 -but whichever year it was, the drivers along with his sons, Reg Jr and John, had a big, big retirement party for him at the West Middlesex VFW Post and one of the other waitresses at The Shoe and I were in attendance at that affair.
Here's Pap -showing off his prowess and how he acquired the CB handle of "Old Granddad." That's Joe Kurtz and another driver to his right (Tommy but I can't remember his last name now or his CB handle either) but they two had become friends of mine through that waitress job.

Here's another shot, also at the Retirement party -of Reg, his good friend, Ed Clark and Joe Kurtz too. Great guys, really they all were!

For the next several years, my two younger kids in particular came to look on the time we would get to go to Conneaut Lake Park as their (and my) true vacation. One year -I think around 1985 or 1986, they invited Clate and Mandy to come to the Park and spend a week -just the two kids -with Pap and Mary Ellen. They had a blast there that week, for sure!

But you know don't you, all good things do tend to change and often to come to an end. I don't recall now exactly what year it was when Mary Ellen passed away but I wasn't at home when Pap called with the news and didn't find out about her funeral until the day of the funeral when I got back home. That hurt very much that I had not been able to be there with my friend Reg at that painful time, that loss for him and my kids were equally upset over that too.

For the next few years though, I always took off a long weekend -usually from Thursday thru to Monday over the Teamster Picnic weekend and would go up to the park, taking Mandy and Clate along, and stay at either the cottage or in Reg's house and I would spend the entire days -Friday and Saturday -cooking all kinds of things so that when Pap's friends from his trucking days would come calling over that weekend, there would be an ample supply of food ready and waiting for any one who wanted a meal or just a bite of something to eat. Pap said it made him feel good that I was able and willing to do that for him as it was what Mary Ellen would have done for him and his friends too.

When I decided I was going to go to college, Pap became one of my strongest supporters -always there to talk to me on the phone when I needed a bit of moral support to keep me on track in my studies. He did the same for my kids and also, allowed my kids -particularly Mandy -to invite either her cousin Angie or a girlfriend of hers (Missy) to go to the park and stay at his place for a few days every summer. The kids loved Pap to pieces even though he tormented them all the time with his teasings. But they knew too, if you were at Pap's house and he DIDN'T pick on you, then you weren't worth his time and he didn't care much for you then.

He sure had a field day picking on my kids every chance he got!

Sadly, Pap died very suddenly in late summer of 1993. Mandy and I were both able to go to his funeral along with several other old friends of his. That was almost 19 years ago this summer and my kids and I -all of us -still miss "Old Granddad" very, very much.

Here's one of my favorite pictures ever of Pap -along with his sons, Reggie and John.

Thanks again Pap for being like a father to me, for you and Mary Ellen treating my children too as if they were you grandkids too. All of us will never forget either of you for your love and friendship, for sure!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


When Sam and I went for our walk the other day I took my camera along so I could get some photos -hopefully to share here -of some of the pretty things I see on our walk-about this road.

One thing that really upsets me on our walk though is that all three of the apple trees down the road that produced such nice apples -and such good cooking apples too, especially for making homemade applesauce -that none of these trees look like they will be giving forth any of their good produce this year!

The early rise in the temperatures in March had many plants popping up and starting to bloom way ahead of schedule and then, from Easter for about two weeks after that, the weather turned cold -very cold as a matter of fact, even including a heavy snowfall too -and that may have been the demise then of the apples from these tree for this year. And that, is really sad for me! I enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the apple blossoms for openers and you better believe I really appreciated those good apples -for free no less -that we gathered up time after time and that I cooked down into some great applesauce that the kids loved and so did Mandy and I too!  I packaged that applesauce into 2 quart ziplock storage bags and froze it and then, as we wanted applesauce to eat, I would stick a bag of it in the microwave and nuke it for a minute to a minute and a half and presto magic, nice warm, really tasty applesauce!

I didn't even get any pictures this year of the apple trees getting ready to blossom either as I had done in past years so I missed out on everything in the season of the lowly but lovely little apples!

I did however get a picture of all the leaves on one of my favorite apple trees -kind of a moratorium, if you will, for what should have been there by this time of the year!

But here's a little tour of some of the pretty things along our walk for your perusal.

 I don't know what this bush is called but the flowers on it look like big old white snowballs -very pretty any way and our neighbor down at the end of our road, Jodi and her husband Tony, have two of these along their front yard in full bloom right now!

As you walk up the street towards my house, on the left side, in Mike and Linda's yard, you'd see this beautiful array of flowers! The colors are so lovely, don't 'cha think?

Just beyond that flower bed and up a little higher on the hillside, is Mike and Linda's house and Linda has all kinds of flower baskets hanging from their big old porch. Doesn't that look ever so inviting to sit out there on a warm summer's evening, smell those lovely different floral scents and relax  -maybe with a large glass of iced tea or hey, even a brewski?

The angle on this shot is far from the best but this is something I really like -a red maple tree! This one is in the front of Daryl and June's yard along side of one of those bushes like Jodi and Tony have too with the big white snowball-type flowers. A couple other neighbors here have a red maple in their respective yards and this particular type of tree always reminds me of the beautiful big red maple that was in the upper yard of my Dad's family homestead up in Morrisdale, PA. Brings back lots and lots of great memories of times with my Dad's family up there in my aunt's side yard. 

Here's two different colors of rhodedendrons that adorn the side porch at Garvey's home. Some day, I'm going to have to get a shoot of each of these color plants and see if I can get them to grow near my house too!

I love this array of the purple rhodedendrons blooming along side Karen's grandparents' home and which was -until about 3-4 weeks ago, occupied by Karen but she has now moved over to State College to save on gas costs to make the commute to and from there every day to work. Miss not having Karen living two doors from us but I love to see these beautiful flowers that greet Sam and I on our walk.

And here we are now, back at my house where the only flowers to greet us here are two Sweet William plants I put in there last year and was quite surprised to see that they reappeared this year! 

All is not lost though as I see the peony plant around the back corner of my house has buds, nice big buds, on it and pretty soon I too will have some really lovely, very showy, bright pink flowers to compete against one or two of my neighbors' plants!

Who knows but maybe someday I might manage to have a semi-organized flower garden too! 

It could happen, ya know. Unlikely as that seems with one who has a black thumb instead of the green kind but I keep hoping --and trying -against the odds!

Tick Tock, Tic Talk!

Up early this morning, had to shower, get dressed, do something with the hair so I wasn't going out in public looking exactly like the "Wild woman of Borneo" or some other such bad hair-do day to go with Mandy up to the school for the IEP meetings with the Speech Teacher, the Occupational Therapist, the Director of the Special Ed Program and the teacher for each kid too. Just to get things talked out and agreed upon then as to what services each kid would receive next year and what special services would continue particularly for Kurtis.

It was nice for me to hear the good things (as well as the bad things too) about each one of the Grandkids, for sure. Maya's report was filled with praise along with information as to her grades and she doesn't have a grade under 95, if I remember correctly -could be 93, but I think it was 95. Kurt doesn't get grades per se yet -just in kindergarten this year, ya know -but his reports were very good too in that he has met all the goals his therapists had outlined for him last year! They even complimented him on his reading prowess too, stating his skills have improved tremendously and he's reading at a very good solid rate for his age, grade, etc.

So, after that, since Mandy claimed she was near to starvation, we stopped in at "The Pumpkin" -the nickname for a little diner just down the road from the school that is actually named the West Branch Dairy Diner -and had lunch there. I like to eat there whenever we can for a variety of reasons. One, the woman who owns/runs the place is from down home here, very nice lady, probably about 10 years my junior I'd guess, and I know her husband too from years of waitressing around this area at various truckstops. The food there isn't fancy, but it's usually pretty good and the prices are very reasonable as well. I know one thing today I totally enjoyed the grilled cheese steak sandwich with the side dish of potato salad -which is kind of surprising for me as I'm not normally that big a fan of potato salad but theirs today really hit the right spot apparently.

Got home, got the computer stuff cleared out -Facebook and e-mail anyway -and dishes washed up too. I also went out back and scrubbed down the deck, after cleaning up a huge mess there from a garbage bag that had been put out about 3 nights ago or so and some animal had gotten into it, chewing the bag open, almost to shreds, and garbage of all kinds strewn then across the deck. I don't know if this was a wild animal that did that or it could have been one of two stray cats I've seen around here a couple of times too.

After that, I ventured down the back yard to my veggie garden area where both rows of onions I planted are now coming up very nicely as is the row of leaf lettuce and two rows of green beans too. I also planted some yellow squash, some acorn squash and cucumbers but I don't know which is which of what it coming up there because I can't remember now in what order I had sown those items and when they first begin to pop through the soil, I am not that experienced at vegetable garden as to identify each type of plant that early. But it does make me very happy to see that all the items I planted are starting to grow -for a change -and that's progress for me, isn't it?

After weeding there a bit and getting some of that stuff cleaned out of the garden -and making my back and legs ache a good bit too -my system kept trying to tell me I should go in and take a little power nap but the dog was antsy as all get out and I figured he probably was really in need of going for a nice walk so the nap got put on hold and Sam and I added another mile to my walking mileage chart for this week!

Today, we just took a nice stroll down the road -only about a mile down and back -and though Sam likes to romp around in the leaves and high grass along the road and such, I don't veer off the roadway because that's really inviting little visitors to land on a person and take a hitchhiking ride into one's house. I've actually been very lucky in that in my entire lifetime I've only seen a tic up close and personal on myself one time -and that was either last summer or maybe even two summers ago!

Well, that is until today that is! On our way back to the house, I happened to catch a glimpse of something on my tee shirt and on second glance, I realized the little black thing there was actually a tic! Boy, that hand came into action really fast as I brushed that thing away! EWWWWW! I hate most all kinds of bugs and such but tics and spiders are the highest on my nemesis list.

I figure that little old tic just landed where it did because it probably looked to be a nice big old soft yet firm foam mattress. After all, as my kids like to harass me because no matter what I do, if I am wearing something that will stain easily or is of a very light color and I need to keep my appearance at least semi-neat, you can bet your bottom dollar I will spill something and that drop or blob -whatever size it may be -will land right squarely in the middle of the upper part of my chest! Never fails! Of course, my older daughter says if I didn't have a shelf there ready and waiting that might not happen. I doubt that though!

But with this little old tic, he really didn't have any place else -or anything bigger (or maybe even better) to pick from so there he was resting way too nicely atop my right one! (You guess what that "one" is now. Ha ha!)

What a Way To Go!

Take my son! (Trust me, there have been times in my life when I sort of said things like that about him and was really hoping for the first band of gypsies to come through and take him.) But in the long run, I'm really glad no one showed up and made me an offer on any of those days I may have been thinking like that.

Cause if that had ever happened, I wouldn't have this tall, lanky, sentimental, talented young man (hey, he's younger than me so he'll always be a "young man" in my book, ya know) to talk about here or to poke fun at a lot of the time on Facebook too. And trust me on this too -he deserves all the teasing and ragging his sisters and I hand out to him whenever we have the opportunity to do that to him!

He is artistic in many ways. Drawing, oh my yes, he's very good at art like that! Really, he's terrific considering the fact he is natural, untrained in that respect. And he does have a good modicum -now and again -too of other artistic talents. Some of those, only a select group of people might be appreciative of his efforts cause Lord knows, some of them, I haven't a clue what he's going for but what the heck. It's his talent, his time, his efforts and I'm just happy to see him playing around with those things every now and again.

He's also a bit of a collector. Or maybe I should say a "Wannabe" kind of collector cause what he'd really like to do and collect, he doesn't have the time or money to put into that!!!

He loves cars for openers but mainly just old cars. Or trucks. And right now, he has this 1971 Chevy pickup, painted a bright, bright sunshine yellow that his dad bought out in California or Nevada or Arizona -one of those hot dry states, anyway -and his dad restored this pickup then too. And, oh about 4 years ago now, his Dad sold this truck to him and Clate flew out to Nevada to finalize the deal with his Dad and then, he drove that pickup truck from Nevada back east to home, here in Pennsylvania.

He also sort of owns an old volkswagon -a Baja unit, if I have the terminology correct there. Of course, that unit -the lime green and purple trimmed VW Bug -is sort of not running at the moment and hasn't run for well over 2 or 3 years now too! The engine is out of it -needs a tad of work, ya know -to get it back together and running again. And, when Clate has a vehicle in that state, that always means too that it needs more money than he has available now or in the near future! So in the meantime, the Bug sits in wait in his garage.

He has a pickup truck -newer model but not newer than 1999 as anything THAT new would be verboten in his life of cars and trucks and such! He got it because he felt he could do a minimal amount of work on it to get it running and he'd then have a good little pickup to run back and forth to his job site -which is a 40-mile trip, one way! Thankfully, because of the way he works, he usually only has to make that trip to the job site Sunday night (and parks his vehicle there then) and then, he drives his vehicle back home on Friday evening when he finishes up for the week! However, this little pickup turned out to require more time than he had available, plus more money than he had at the time to invest in it too, so it's still sitting beside his garage, waiting for him to find the time to get the work done to get it running.

About a month or so after he invested in that pickup, he and his girlfriend realized they really needed to purchase a vehicle that was runnable upon being purchased by them -one that they wouldn't have to work on for a month -or more -to get it road worthy because winter was coming and he can't drive his nice yellow truck in the winter time as it is not the best vehicle for road conditions in the winter in central PA!

So he looked around -and looked some more -and lucked out when they found and bought a decent older Jeep Cherokee, about like mine, except theirs is black and mine is a dark red. I have no clue what year his Jeep is -heck, I can't even tell you for sure what year mine is -which tells you how much attention I pay to data like that doesn't it?

But anyway, this old Jeep of his -like mine -is worth its weight in gold during the days of bad weather and nasty roads here and gets him or his girlfriend where they need to get in a good state too!

Now this spring, Clate has also begun to delve into collecting one of the other things he is especially fond of -bicycles! He's determined -he thinks -that he is going to locate an old bicycle for each one of the adults in our family and that means he's including me in this mix too. The reason, I figure, that he wants to find a semi-decent bicycle for Mom is out of guilt he has for having destroyed my beautiful Schwinn Hornet Bike (a boys bike no less, cause I didn't like riding girl's bicycles, still don't for that matter.) when he was a kid. That bike of mine was in fantastic shape considering my aunt and uncle had purchased it for me the summer of 1955 and I rode it hard over the next 7 years and then, it got retired that is, until my son came along and discovered it! But he didn't take it out of retirement to ride it -no! He took it out of retirement to cannibalize it! And a bang-up job he did of that too!

So now, so far this spring, he's come home with two bicycle finds -one of which is parked out in front of my house now that he picked up for his sister, Mandy. She loves it -banana seat and all -even though it needs more than a little bit of work to get it looking half-decent as it's pretty rusted. The other bike he picked up isn't as bad to look at as the one he got for Mandy and he has it up at his house. I think that one is supposed to be for his older sister, Carrie. I can hardly wait to see what he finds to bring home and gift to me!

But if he's gonna be getting more and more bicycles for his sisters, his girlfriend, himself, for me, he's definitely going to have to invest in something else too - an suv bike rack - in order to have some means of transporting these bikes all around.

And for sure he'll need that to take his sister Mandy's bike any place at all because, one of the things that bike needs, right off the bat -is brakes!

And this area has too damned many hills around here to try riding a bike with no brakes down!

And, that's the truth!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh, the Beauty!

Yesterday, I had to take some stuff up to my friend, Kate's house and this time I thought to take my camera with me.

I was just up there about 2 days or so before and thought about my camera when I left that I wished I had brought it along because the flowers in the front of Kate's house are now in full bloom and trust me when I tell you this, but they are simply gorgeous!

Don't believe me?

Here's some pictures I took yesterday of two of the bushes in front of Kate's porch, plus some pictures I took of some floral blooms at the house next door to hers too!

Now be honest, but aren't those just some gorgeous blossoms and a fantastic color too of one of the Rhodedendron bushes in front of her porch?

I have to confess though that this little visitor to one of those blossoms was the only drawback I could see there! And let me tell you, the bumblebees were humming all over the place around this bush and the one adjacent to it too -which I neglected to get a shot of it! (A subject for another camera shoot, maybe?)

Now, maybe you can check out these blooms and tell me what kind of plant this is? Kate and I discussed it earlier and neither of us was sure what kind of floral item this is. I walked over to that house and took some pictures of this plant, but still am not sure if it too is another type of rhodedendron or some other plant. But, from the road in front of that house, they are absolutely breathtaking -more so than when looking at them up close and personal maybe.

The flower on this bush looks a bit like a honeysuckle but with very, very little pinkish tinge to it. The leaves do look a lot like it may be rhodedendron but, I'm just not sure there!

This one though really is very stunning and I don't recollect ever having seen a plant with colors like this. The center is almost a wine shade and then, the full blossoms around that are pure white and it is absolutely gorgeous too!

By the way, the house where those last three photos were taken is vacant and up for sale. So, for anyone interested in living in a little, itty, bitty village -out in the boondocks -but with a lot of flowers and floral shrubs already in place and doing super great too, just let me know and I'll be more than happy to hook you up with the realtor handling the property! (The place also has an above-ground pool up behind the house along with a poolside deck and pool house, plus a three-stall garage with a very large 2 or 3 bedroom apartment above the garage as well! Own and rent, simultaneously, ya know!)

Of course, the bonus to that property is that you then get me and my family as your neighbors.

Oh wait! Maybe that isn't a bonus attraction to some people though, huh?

A bit of a Chill

Yesterday, the weather here was absolutely beautiful! Friday evening and Saturday weren't bad either, come to think of it. Although, Sunday was nicer in that it was a tad warmer.

Although I don't like the really, really hot weather -well, to be more specific, I don't like it when it is very warm but also, very humid, because then, everything seems to just stick to you, doesn't it? But yesterday -well, that was very nice because it was low humidity with just the right amount of sunshine -warm but not scorching, ya know.

Today now, we're back to the not so pretty kind of weather. Not raining now although we had a tiny bit of rain earlier, but it's gray and a bit on the dreary-looking side, ya know.

One thing it is not however is WARM! Granted, it's not freezing either outside but it's not warm. And it certainly is not so warm that there is a need to have the darned overhead ceiling fan in the living room running!

A certain party here left the house and left the ceiling fan turned out -for whatever reason, I really am not sure but I will say this, when my toes and my nose both get a bit chilled, I am really not very comfortable with that feeling.

Turn off the fan, you say! And I say, I would if I could but right now, I can't so I shan't! And why is that? Well because for me to reach the darned chain to turn the fan off, I need a step ladder and I am not always that well-balanced to use step ladders so I have to sit here either in the dark because I have turned off not just the fan but also the light, or I wait till that certain party returns home and pulls the doggone fan chain to the off position for me!

But then too, there is another solution which we could possibly indulge in and that would be if we got a remote hookup like what I saw at ceiling fans from There's a little remote thing you can have wired right in and it's not even expensive either!

And I could just sit here and surf, type, look at photos, read Facebook, my reader, in complete comfort simply by flicking the lovely little remote control unit!

Oh, the things one learns, huh? I had no idea you could do stuff like that!

Difference of Opinions?

Mandy had to take Maya in to play practice this evening but before she left, she gave me some instructions to do some search and surfing for her.

I have a few other things on my mind right now which didn't include searching for the stuff she wanted.

Why? Well because my mind was just running in kind of reverse channels maybe after I was looking at some photos taken Saturday of Mandy's best friend's son and his girl friend -all decked out to go to the Senior Prom.

And for a nano-second, sort of, I thought this photo of the kids would match up with what my ex-husband would have called decorative coat racks from

To say he and his daughter might just have a difference of opinion there is a bit of an understatement, don't 'cha think?

But on the other hand, the kids do make for a darned good looking couple, don't they?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Photos Don't Lie!

Well, here it is, Saturday night and the weekend is now half over but what a great weekend it's been!

Yesterday, we got company -a visitor from about two hours southeast of us -and he arrived bearing gifts. He brought up several steaks which he then grilled for all of the family, which included Clate and Elizabeth for supper too. Steak, au gratin potatoes, mixed veggies of cauliflower, carrots and broccoli and we were set for one really super delicious meal! Meat was cooked just to the doneness I prefer -medium rare -and seasoned to perfection too!

After supper, we all ended up with a little surprise video to prove to non-believers that my son actually rode in a Ford product!

A neighbor and good friend up the street from us has this fantastic Ford Mustang that he restored and boy, does that thing ever sound super great when he takes it for a spin down the road and then, at the end of our road -or the end of the paved area, that is -he swings around and goes back towards his house by going up the hill behind our place and in doing that, he stops at the foot of the hill and then, really tromps the gas pedal to the floor so you can hear that car probably over the majority of the town then.

That, plus the fact that my son is notorious around these parts for being a "Chevy Man" is what made this video a necessity.

Doug had made a run down our road and stopped to chat a minute or two with Clate and then Doug offered him a chance to take a ride with him -down our street, then up the back hill road behind us and back home.

Mandy didn't think of this video idea until she heard them coming back towards our house and she called out to me to "Get the camera, Mom! We have to get a picture of Clate riding in a Ford product!"

So out I came with the camera and Mandy then proceeded to take a little video then of Doug pulling up in front of our house and Clate getting out of the car. She explained to Doug that we wanted to take some pictures just as proof positive that Clate had actually ridden in a Ford Mustang!

Then, as if that wasn't enough, after Doug dropped Clate off and started down the road, Mandy did this little video too then -which really is just more of an audio because the intent in this video was to get a recording of Doug taking the Mustang up that hill behind us!

As you can tell by both these little videos, it takes very little really to entertain us!

This evening then, we took the kids up to the FlatRun Speedway -which is a track for go-cart type racing. The event tonight was also set up for support for Autism Speaks, as one of the young fellows who is really into this kind of racing is also autistic and so, it was dedicated to him. They had numerous prizes there you could get tickets for and then before the racing evening ended, they had drawings for those prizes.

One of the ladies who was in charge of the drawings came over to us and asked Maya if she would be willing to help them out by drawing all the winning tickets for each item. Initially, when they asked her that, she thought for about 10 seconds and then, shook her head and quietly said "No, I don't think so."

That move of hers totally floored both Mandy and me and we asked her why she didn't want to help out and explained to her a bit more all that they wanted her to do. Then she decided it would be okay and she would do that, provided I go with her!

So as she drew out the winning tickets and the people running the drawing recorded the winners, I stood there, behind her the whole time!

It was a fun time which both Kurt and Maya did enjoy a lot.

However, neither of them was particularly interested in watching the races as they both held their hands over their ears, saying it was too much noise, but at least neither of them went into a meltdown over that. Shows they are each learning to adjust to things that are to them perhaps very uncomfortable sensations.

The both spent the bulk of the evening at the races playing in a big sandbox underneath the announcer's stand! So when we did get home, Mandy had them both take their shoes and socks off out on the sidewalk and front door stoop so she could then dump all the excess sand in their shoes outside!

No doubt about how badly those two kids needed a good bath tonight when we got home! Sand up one side of each kid and down the other!

But it was all a fun time for all of us this weekend and especially so too since we got the video of Clate actually riding in a mustang!

And let me tell you, that car purrs, it roars, it squeals and it growls and it sounds, as Tony the Tiger would say, "GRRRREEAATTT!"

Potential Safeguard Maybe?

If you recall about 3 weeks ago now -or so -I wrote a post that had the story in it about a neighbor who complained about our dog on Facebook. She accused us of deliberately letting the dog run loose and was debating then about if she should call the dog law enforcement officer or what.

Well, my blogger buddy, Terri, commented that she felt this person was just trying to stir up trouble because a lot of people -especially on Facebook -do seem to enjoy doing things like that and in that respect, I agree a lot more with Terri than she realizes! The complaining party does seem to very much enjoy stirring up a bunch of crapola within certain neighbors here and with respect to that aspect, I'm taking Terri's advice and ignoring her. (Actually, I've been doing that for several years now ever since she made some really obnoxious comments/accusations against a couple other neighbors that I knew were totally false too!

But, at the same time, I've also been giving some thought to trying to find a way to give Sammy a chance to have a bit more opportunity for fresh air -and relief for himself too -that would be relatively affordable for us as well.

With that in mind, I found this site about dog gates at that has some products that are probably as close to be affordable as Mandy and I will ever come to finding! (Other than if someone were to give us fencing or if we found something totally dirt cheap at a yard sale.)

I don't know if something like this would work that well for Sammy -any more so than our current procedure of putting him out on a lead that is tied to the front door stoop. He doesn't like being outside with no one else around him so when he's tied up there, he tends to cry, then starts jumping on the door, practically rattling the glass out of the frame and very much messing up the window that way with his paw prints all over it! He also doesn't care for going to the bathroom in the yard either and usually waits till we walk him to do that. His personal preference there tends to be wherever he can find a very thick, grassy spot, a tiny bit on the high side, along the roadside. I think he likes to semi-hide himself while doing his business and also, the higher grass there maybe is to tickle his behind or some such! Who knows with dogs what they like and why, ya know!

So anyway, I'm thinking maybe one of these pen type units might work, if in the back yard and he at least could be free to run around a little then -sort of!

Now to configure the budget so I can actually manage to save a couple of bucks too! Yeah, I know. Good luck with that, huh?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Plans, and More Plans

Well, things did settle down here a bit after we made it through the special anniversary service and dinner at our church on May 6th. And what a good relief that was too! The service was so nice and the dinner was -as or dinners always do seem to be -outstanding too. So that was a really good thing and yes, a big relief for me.

Now, I'm in the middle of working with a few of my high school classmates as we are trying to get things all lined up, in order, for our big celebration come September.

We're planning a class reunion in honor of the occasion that this spring marks 50 years -yes the big 50 -since we left high school and made our way out into the working world!

So far, we have the hall reserved for September 8th and have managed to track down everyone who graduated with us complete with current addresses, e-mail addresses where we could get them along with phone numbers too.

And I have personally called all but I think 2 classmates who live away from this area to get a bead on whether the person would be interested in coming back home that weekend for this reunion. Out of 30-plus classmates I called, all but two said they would be interested and willing to make the journey back home for that occasion!

Our class -for this area and that era -was considered large in that at our school, there were 60 of us who started out together for our senior year. Today, 8 of those classmates are now deceased though but of the remaining 52 members of our class, we have over 40 who have thus far responded in a positive way to our inquiry about attending a class reunion.

Of course, come mid-August, when they have to have returned their RSVP form and sent their money for the dinner, that number may dwindle down a bit but I'm hoping it still stays pretty high so we have a record-breaking turnout then.

Believe me though, once I get through all the stuff we have in the works for this event, I am definitely gonna feel like I sure would like to go and enjoy a nice trip to some >vacation homes in Kissimmee FL.
I'll probably just have to make do with a nice ride out to Black Moshannon State Park which is about 10 miles from here, but either way, either place, will make for a nice respite after the reunion has become a thing of the past too.

Looking Back

I often try to remember many of the things my grandkids -Maya and Kurtis -say because sometimes, the stuff they come out with is really so darned comical. Like yesterday morning for example, when Mandy came back in the house after getting Kurtis in his van and on his way to school, Maya greeted her with an announcement of "We have a situation here!"

Looking around, Mandy spied immediately what Maya was referring to as it seems our silly cat, Miss Pearl the Purrball, had hopped up onto the counter, knocked over the open bag of cat food and it was all over the counter and the floor. As Mandy was starting to clean up Miss Pearl's mess, Maya told the cat, "Pearl, this place is not self-serve!"

At least that little chuckle Mandy got from Maya's comment made the clean-up a little easier to deal with.

But sometimes, when the grandkids say the things they say and make me laugh, it also reminds me of days, about 3 decades ago, when it was often their uncle who was quite the entertainer in the family. Clate almost always seemed to have a way of saying things that would crack everyone up.

One of his prize comments came about when he was 8 years old and his sisters and I had gone to Illinois to have a little visit with their paternal grandparents there. Grandpa was so excited after we arrived as his plans for the grandkids and me was that he and Grandma were taking us to their "camp" a little, very old trailer they had parked near the banks of the Mississippi and he also had a motor boat for fishing there too.

The first thing he did when we got down at their camp was to take all three kids out on the river for a ride in his boat. Then he brought the girls home and he and my son, Clate, took off then for some quality time -grandpa and grandson -fishing on the Mississippi.

The boy managed to catch two small fish -very small -and then, lo and behold, got a hit on his line. Grandpa said it took the two of them a good twenty minutes to fight with and finally reel in the fish which was a big, very ugly, Carp!

Upon finally getting it landed in the boat, Clate leaned back in the far corner of the boat and said, "Let's go home now, Grandpa. It's Miller Time!"

Grandpa came away from that fishing expedition with the idea that I must have some kind of millermatic or some such thing in our house back home in PA.

I had to explain to the grandparents that Miller's was actually their son's brand of beer and not mine!

After that, the boy really got things on a roll again when he told his grandmother that he was going to have me take that carp and "freeze it, really, really hard" and we would then bring it back home with us and he was then going to mount it on a piece of wood and hang in on a wall in the living room!

At that announcement, Grandpa got a bit worried and told Grandma to go get the shovel and start digging a hole to get the darned fish buried then as quickly as possible. Apparently he didn't want to take any chances that the boy was actually going to be able to transport that fish back to PA.

I didn't want that to happen either, believe me!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Day!

Mother's Day, 2012! What a wonderful day it has been too!

There have often been times, over the years, that for whatever reasons I didn't look forward to celebrating Mother's Day, didn't enjoy or appreciate any of the sentiment about the day at all at times too. Why? I really don't remember the reasons why now but suffice it to say it frequently didn't rank all that high on my list of favorite holidays.

The only other "holiday" that I was never keen on at all -and still am not - is Valentine's Day and I suppose considering all the rather negative circumstances of my life over the years, that one is pretty self-explanatory as to why I don't like it AT. ALL!

But anyway, back to today and life's realities.

I had initially thought perhaps we -my kids and I, and the grandchildren -could celebrate Mother's Day a day ahead of schedule -like yesterday. I had purchased a turkey a while back and had it in the freezer for just such an occasion for openers. That, plus Sundays are really difficult for us to have a nice family dinner because my son generally has to leave early Sunday evening (or late afternoon) to start out towards Pittsburgh and begin his runs for the week ahead whereas on Saturday, we don't run into a problem with him. Then, it's a problem with my older daughter and her work schedule as she works midnight shift, also works a whole lot of overtime too quite often, so for her to be able to be here, awake and able to enjoy a family dinner, that usually means she has to have off Friday and Saturday nights or at least Saturday night.

Well, this week, I had asked her on Tuesday if she was working this weekend and she said she was supposed to be off Saturday night BUT she might have to work after all. So I asked her to please let me know by Thursday, the latest, if she and Alex (the grandson) would be able to come up for dinner Saturday as I needed to know so I could get the old turkey out and thaw it in time to cook it properly.

Well, I didn't hear anything until Saturday, around 2 p.m., that she and Alex were planning to be here for Sunday dinner so I told Mandy then to get the turkey out and we'd have to start the thawing then and hope it got unthawed fully so I could cook it today.

Then, Mandy informed me she had set a time for dinner today at 2:30 and I was kind of wigging out about that because sheesh, church is from 11 a.m. till shortly after noon and by the time I would get home, get the other stuff ready by 2:30 for us to eat, well that was going to be a bit of a stiff request, for sure.

Oh well. I should be accustomed to that by now I guess! Seems that's the way things tend to run, frequently, around here -a bit hectic for a while and then, it could be several days of quiet, nothingness, ya know and all of a sudden, boom! We're back to hectic again!

But as it turned out, I did manage with just a little help from Mandy who peeled the potatoes and mashed them, that we had a fair-to-middling decent turkey dinner today! My son and his girlfriend and her twin sons, older daughter and the eldest grandson, plus of course, Mandy and her two hooligans and a friend of the family and we had some good company to munch on the old turkey today!

As frequently happens with my kids and the grandkids, it can get to be a bit of a free-for-all sometimes, with wise cracks flying about -often they are really sarcastic too -but that's the way we roll, you could say. After a bit of a misunderstanding over one comment -I won't delve into that one though -things did get back on track and the mood went back to being good-humored again.

Now, the surprise of the day though was when the step-granddaughter and her boyfriend showed up. When Mandy and her sometime to be ex-husband (if he EVER gets around to signing ALL the papers) separated two years ago, the step-granddaughter had just graduated from high school and decided she didn't want to live here if her dad wasn't living here too so, she moved out and back in with her biological mother. Suffice it to say, it's been a pretty rough two years on her as the mother sometimes is a bit flighty -that's putting it fairly nicely -and the kid lived with her dad for a couple months as well as she and her former boyfriend also tried having an apartment together for a while too but then, that fell apart as well.

But, she has gradually been coming around to Mandy, even to me as well, and has grown! Boy, has she ever grown but not in a way that is visible to the outside world as she looks the same as ever. I'm referring more to growth as in maturity -an area which I had worried virtually constantly about how this kid would ever survive in the real world because her attitude two years ago and prior to that was really one that -for lack of a better term -sucked!

She had to work today so didn't get here till about 4 p.m. along with her current boyfriend, who it turns out is the son of a lady I worked with over 24 years ago! I remember when his Mom and Dad got married and before he was born. Amazing -and you all of course know how much I dearly love the "small world" kind of stuff too, don't you now?

They both helped themselves to whatever we'd had for dinner, heated it in the microwave and sat down to eat and chat with the rest of us.

When she came in though, she handed Mandy a very pretty bouquet of flowers and an envelope, telling her not to open and read it around everyone else as she might be better off reading it in private.

The time flew by and the friendly atmosphere and good humor stayed very stable throughout the time they were here. After they left though - a little while later -Mandy came and handed me the envelope.

I'd just been online, reading some Facebook posts and there was one that a lady I "know" but I've never met -although she only lives about 5 miles from me -(but I know her husband because he and my ex-husband had been fairly good friends) anyway, she had posted about listening to the song "You and Me Against The World, by Helen Reddy and had posted the first couple of lines to that song.

Well, as it turns out you see, that singer is one of my absolute favorites and that song just happens to be a particular favorite of mine and older daughter's too! And it did what hearing or reading the lyrics to that song always does to me, it brought me to tears as it makes me think of my life, my relationships with my Mom as well as my relationships with older daughter in particular but also, with my two other children.

So there I was, having just wiped the tears from my eyes from reading the lyrics to that song, and reading this letter from the step-granddaughter had me tearing up all over again!

She had taken the time to write this to explain to Mandy how she'd felt when Mandy and her Dad first began dating, when they married and she and he moved in here with me and how things were too, in her mind, when Maya and Kurtis came along. How she hated having chores to do, how she thought we were hell-bent on making her life miserable and how, as a teenager, she had chosen to become pretty rebellious! Imagine that!!!

But ultimately, she'd come to realize what our joint goals had been all along for her was to help her to learn to be able to stand on her own two feet someday! And she'd thanked Mandy for all she's done for her and even thanked me and the other two kids for things we taught her, stating for Mandy to tell me that she even knows all her meats today! When I read that part of the letter, I howled laughing!

You see, this kid, frequently used to drive me absolutely bonkers when she would come out to the kitchen, lift the lid on a kettle or open the oven to see what was cooking and then, ask me what kind of meat it was that we would be having. She couldn't get the hang of telling the difference between something with ground beef or roast beef, or pork chops, poultry or fish! And that used to just drive me absolutely bonkers! (Yeah, I have a low tolerance level for some things, ya know!)

She had finished the letter off by wishing Mandy -and also me (even) a Happy Mother's Day and then added as a post script that she was wanting me to make "panakaka" (A favorite Swedish dish I make now and then) sometime and have her for supper then!

No problem!

When she left, she made sure to give hugs around to everyone here and they weren't what older daughter would refer to as "Air" hugs either but rather, genuine, tightly held, more like bear hugs!

And you know what?

Her visit today and especially that letter, totally made my day complete!

Here's hoping if you and yours were celebrating Mother's Day that you had as good a day doing that as I did!

Couldn't possibly have been better!

Friday, May 11, 2012


There has been a tremendous campaign ongoing in this area for sometime now -for prayers.

Our church, like many other churches, has a prayer chain and people can ask for prayers for themselves or for others during times of illness, fears, worries, whatever. And, there are four people currently on our prayer chain who are children, in really serious need of prayers -for themselves for a cure and also, for their parents and family members who are also having a difficult time dealing with all the stress that comes from having a family member at any age suffering from a debilitating illness, but especially so when that involves a young child.

A while back, there was a Facebook prayer chain started for a little girl -she's six-years-old -from near here -Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. Her name is Emily Whitehead and if you click on this link, you can read the journal her parents have been keeping about Emily and the treatments she has received for the Leukemia she has been dealing with for over two years now.

Emily was the Poster Child at the annual 'Thon Dance -a huge charity event sponsored by various fraternities and sororities for the Four Diamonds Fund through Penn State University every January and all the monies raised there go to help patients and their families who are coping with treatments for various types of pediatric cancers.

Emily, however, has been the catalyst for a huge support movement originating here in the central Pennsylvania region and which has gone viral through Facebook and Twitter.

And she has really shown what grit and strength -perseverance -she has too.

Two weeks ago, the reports coming from her parents about Emily's condition (she's currently a patient at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia) were very grim. VERY grim! The doctor's had told her parents not to hold out hope for Emily getting better as the status of her condition was that they really didn't expect her to survive the night, a little over two weeks ago.

That weekend prior to the huge deterioration in Em's condition had sparked a call-out for prayers and prayers and more prayers and people from this area as well as from all across the country and even globally, responded to that cry.

What happened next has been termed by her doctor's as being a medical miracle as they had never seen a patient turn around the way Emily has done!

Her parents too believe it is a miracle and they attribute it to the network of people -Emily's Army -who have been praying over and over again for Emily.

I don't know about those of you who come by and read my blog, as to what your thoughts and feelings are about prayer and miracles happening through that medium, but I have to say here and now, that I definitely do BELIEVE!

Now, remember I said at the beginning of this post that there are four young people in this area who are dealing with much more on their plates than anyone should ever have to contend with and I'd like to give a little information about them -as much as I know at this time, at any rate. And I'd also like to ask you -each one of you reading this -if you would please take a minute of your time and say a prayer for each one of these children that they -and their parents -will see the loving spirit I think we all have and that each of these children will also be healed too.

Brandon Denochik is a teenager -age 15 -who has been coping with cancer for four years now and apparently -from the latest reports I've seen on Facebook -has recently had a setback. He's been waging a very strong battle but needs some respite, some assistance -a "little help from his friends" you know -and for Brandon, can we all become his friend and offer prayers for healing for him?
Prayers For Brandon Denochick
Prayers For Brandon Denochick is an event on Facebook that is ongoing and open to anyone who would like to be counted for prayers and moral support for Brandon and his family. It costs nothing to join but a minute of your time, whenever, wherever you are, and the benefits that could befall Brandon and his family -well, who can tell how extensive they could possibly be? But it hurts nothing in the trying, does it?

And then there is another little boy in this region -Kenny Moore -who is about 14 years old (maybe he is 15 by now, not sure there) and he is in dire need of a liver transplant! The doctors have told his mother his condition is very precarious because not only is his liver damaged beyond belief but so is his spleen! His spleen needs to be removed before he can get a liver transplant but thus far, his overall condition is so shaky they have not been able to do that much surgery for him as yet. I know Kenny's Mom, his grandmother too -very well -as his grandmother grew up beside me and we've been good friends for many, many years. Please, if you too believe, do add Kenny to your prayer list too!

And finally, there is this sweet little baby, named Lu Shaffer -who is not quite two years old and has Rett's Syndrome. Her great-great-grandparents were my next-door-neighbors for many years and then, her great-grandparents lived in the family "homestead." One of Lu's great-aunts is my sister-in-law and two of her great-great-aunts are classmates of mine and both of them are part of the Monthly Lunch group I've written about here as well. Lu's Mom, Julie, has been writing a blog about Lu and what they are trying to get in the way of services, therapy, treatments, etc., for Lu. Here's Julie's Blog -Understanding Lu -which will give you a better idea, from a personal point of view, what all is affected, what all is involved in Lu's condition. 

Please, if you would, keep Lu in your prayers too. 

I'm thinking maybe we should think of these four young people -from toddler to teen -as "The Fabulous Foursome" because of the fortitude, spunk, determination and strength of body and spirit each of these kids embodies and because, they are -in my opinion anyway -certainly fabulous people, aren't they.

I BELIEVE! Do you?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Holy Rip! I knew it had been a few days since my last post but didn't realize until I logged in now that it was actually over a week ago since my last piece went up.

Seeing that proves with even more certainty that the title of my post today is absolutely, one hundred percent correct! I am definitely certifiable!

Certifiably what you may ask? And my answer is CRAZY! Forget about merely being forgetful or on the edge of senility, I am now, totally convinced that yes indeed I am certifiably crazy!

The past week apparently did me in completely.

Last week, at this time, I hadn't yet decided what it was I was going to cook to take to the special Anniversary Dinner after our church service Sunday morning but finally decided I would make chicken divan, a casserole of macaroni and cheese so the grandkids would have something there they would eat and also, a Swedish baked custard called "Panakaka." None of those items are difficult to fix so I figured I would be okay managing those things.

I went on a search and destroy mission about then too, trying to locate anyone from our church who might have had some old photos from 1986 and 1987 when the planning, groundbreaking and dedication services took place for our sanctuary which is now 25 years old! One lady, who I figured would be a shoe-in to have photos told me she did HAVE some photos of those occasions but had been searching for them all week and was unable to locate wherever it might be that she had put them for safe keeping! Don't you just hate when you do something like put an item up in a place so you will know for sure where you have it stashed and then, when you want to get it out, you can't remember where in blazes it was that you put the thing? I'm notorious for doing things like that and my ex-husband used to say when encountering me trying to recall where I had stashed something or other to "Let me know two years from now when you find it!"

So, I went on a campaign calling everyone and their brother. Then, on Thursday, my neighbor and good friend Kate, brought me a little folder in which she had newspaper clippings about our plans to build this new sanctuary, the groundbreaking as well as the dedication service and she also had a few photos of these things in there too!

Thank goodness! I was saved! So I picked up a poster board and then, Friday evening, starting around 8 p.m., I began the task of scanning all the items in this folder and then printing the scans out so I could then snip and tuck at them to position them in some sort of order (I hoped) on the posterboard which would then serve Sunday as a "memory jogger" for folks to see what all had happened back in 1986 and 1987 within our church.

Around 11 p.m. Friday nite though, my printer began to act up on me. I could print anything from my e-mail but as soon as I tried to print out one of the scanned documents, it would refuse to do anything! I tried everything I could think of or every tip in the online help file for my printer and all to no avail. Desperate, I picked up the phone and called Hewlett-Packard's 24-hour tech-help line. Two hours later, thanks to a very nice tech-support person someplace in Manilla -the printer began to function once again for me!

By that time it was going on 3 a.m. and it took me till 5:30 a.m. to finish printing the stuff, doing the snip and tuck stuff and pasting these items on the poster board!

Enough for that night's work, I hit the sofa and fell asleep there for roughly 3 hours before I had to get up and get cracking and gather up some azalea branches from a bush in the front yard of a former member's house and I also wanted to see if I could maybe locate some dogwood branches too -all for the work of a member of our church to decorate the church hall with some pretty floral displays. Since my son happened to float in here for coffee and a touch of conversation, I was able to guilt -trip him into going with me, giving me a hand and got the azalea branches I needed and he even managed to snip a few dogwood branches down in the woods for me to take to use on the tables too!

So, from about 9:30 a.m., I was out at the church with a bunch of other women from our group, getting the tables all set up for the next day's dinner, programming the coffee makers so that two big urns of coffee would be ready right on time for when the dinner would begin. Last minute preparations were reviewed to make sure we had all our ducks in a row and I finally got back home shortly after noon.

And then it was time to begin cooking for the next day! Panakaka was made first since it takes a bit over an hour to bake and while it was baking, I could cook the macaroni as well as the ingredients for the chicken divan too and got all that done up shortly after I removed the panakaka from the oven!

Then it was time to hurry up and shower and get dressed as my son, his girlfriend, Mandy and a mutual friend of hers and my son and I were all slated to go to Altoona -which is an hour's drive from here -to the Chili's over there for dinner to celebrate Clate's girlfriend's birthday! After a nice meal -I ordered the sirloin steak and yes, it was good enough but not so awesome as to make me think I would really want to drive that far for a meal again and at those prices too -we got back home.

I did squeeze in a very brief nap in the car on the ride home -about 15-20 minutes worth -but just enough to enable me to stay awake for roughly another hour after we got home. The kids -Clate, Elizabeth, Mandy and Jeff -along with a couple other of Elizabeth's friends -were all going to have a Cinco de Maya party then up at my son's house to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday a bit more. I had planned, originally, to go up for the party but by 10 p.m., I knew there was no way I was going to be able to deal with staying awake much longer -much less party and have a couple beers or some such!

So the couch and I met once again -much to the relief of my aching back, knees and ankle joints!

Up Sunday a.m. to finish the mac and cheese as I had to make the cheese sauce, get ready for church and get out there by 10 a.m. to help with the finishing touches for the dinner to be ready to start as soon as the service was over.

And, the dinner went off in a pretty orderly fashion and seemed very well received too by those in attendance. Here's some photos I took of the food table at our dinner.

In the photo just below here, if you notice those two oblong pans with a yellow color to the item in the pans, those are both the Swedish custard I mentioned. The one on the left is mine and on the right, was made by my neighbor, Shirley. She and I are usually the only ones in our church who often make this and bring it to church dinners now. When the meal was finished, there were 4 very small pieces left in each pan! Something my daughter was very thankful about as she almost went into a panic when we got home and she thought there was no panakaka left to bring home!

This photo is Denise -who frequently is the person in our church who takes pictures of members and/or special events to post on the church's website and also, the church's facebook page too. Here she is getting herself a little cup of punch just prior to the start of the dinner.

After the dinner ended, time for the clean-up crew to go into gear and it was close to 3:45 p.m. before I finally got back home.

I had bagged up three of the white tableclothes used on the tables to bring home and launder them -something we all try to take turns washing 2-3 of the cloths after each big dinner -and I put them on the counter in the kitchen beside my empty casserole dish so as to not forget then to bring them home.

When I got home and began to unload the dishes from my jeep, to my chagrin, I realized I had apparently walked off and forgot to put the tablecloths in the trunk of the jeep so asked Mandy to stop out at church later and pick them up. However, she didn't get around to doing that until Monday night and when she did go in for them, lo and behold, the bag was gone! I am hoping that the other lady who was still there when I left picked them up and took them home with her!

Sunday night, I was totally exhausted again and slept almost as soundly as I had on Saturday night after that full day!

Monday, Mandy had to leave here shortly after 7 a.m. as she had to be at the hospital by 8 a.m. to be readied for two biopsies she was scheduled to have done. Her good friend, Jenn-Jenn, was driving her over to the hospital and was going to stay there until she was discharged so she could then bring her home. Although the surgeon told Mandy and Jenn after the procedure was completed that on the one lump he removed, it was located a bit further inside the breast than he had anticipated and therefore, he had had to delve in a bit deeper then to remove it so he warned her that it might be more troublesome that night and cause more pain from that. She did weather the night fairly well though and yesterday, was moving around pretty good, just favoring her left arm a bit, as you can imagine.

We won't know the status of the biopsies now until either this Friday, the earliest but probably not until next Monday or Tuesday is more likely when we will learn if they were benign -which is what both the primary care doctor and the surgeon think the outcome will be. And I most certainly am praying --over and over --that their guesses will be right too!

All those things in the past week have had me more than a bit on edge and slightly antsier than normal. But what happened this morning is what has me totally convinced that I am most definitely qualified now to be certifiably crazy!

I got a phone call Monday -a reminder from my doctor's office -that I have an appointment for a check up with Dr. Hays and that appointment was to be at 1:30 Wednesday. I had told the receptionist no problem and I'd see her there today, laughing too as I joked with her that I remembered I have that appointment as I have it marked on my calendar here on the wall, right beside my desk. Mandy even asked me yesterday about what the appointment this afternoon was for and I told her -just a routine check-up visit. Well, okay!

So this a.m., up at 7 a.m. to see to Maya and Kurt, make sure they are dressed, ready to roll when Kurt's van arrives and about 4 minutes after that, Maya's bus and they get off to school okay. I get my morning coffee -actually my second cup by 8 a.m. ya know -and sit down at the computer to clear my e-mail, check facebook and then, look at the posts in my Reader, waiting to be read. Around 9 a.m., I remember I need to do a blood sugar test and so, grab my little booklet to record the date, time and reading and when I do, I see a discrepancy in the date for today to what date was showing I had marked yesterday. I glance at my calendar and see that on the 10th I have an appointment written in for 10:30 a.m. but I don't get up close and personal to read what the appointment is for as I just assume it is my doctor's appointment.

And that is when my mind really boggled up on me! I look at my blood sugar record book again and determine somewhere along the way I must have logged the wrong dates there so I mark in today's reading as being May 11th, because at least I was sure it was Wednesday, the 11th. Sure I was sure of that!

Then I think oh crap! My appointment was actually for yesterday and I misunderstood the receptionist when she called with my reminder on Monday and now, I've missed my appointment, gonna have to pay for a missed appointment as well as pay then too when I manage to get this one rescheduled! ARRGH.

I call the doctor's office and tell Deb, the receptionist my dilemma and she informs me that no, my appointment is still on for today! I'm okay on that part.

It was then that I looked closer at the damned calendar and realized I was looking at the April page, not May! Apparently I either thought I had pulled the month page up and had May's showing or it had slipped down and was showing April as the current month!

And that my friends is what has had me very occupied for the past week plus and also, why I am now very convinced of my mental status being that of one who is totally unglued at the seams!

Or so it does seem to be to me anyway!