Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's science fiction

2010. For a child of the 60's and 70's, 2010 sounds to me like science fiction. I start thinking about all the stuff we have now, and it is truly mind-blowing. I was trying to explain again to my kids about how much easier grocery shopping was when I was I kid. There just wasn't much to choose from, and salsa... we didn't know the word here in rural Michigan way back then, let alone have 30 different ones for our selection pleasure conundrum. And TV, 4 or 5 channels. Yes, I am seriously old.

And lately, I have felt a lot older than I am. I have spent the past few months trying to get off from pain meds, which I was still taking for pain from the surgeries I had almost 2 years ago. A sucky situation. Turns out, I can live without pain killers, but it ain't pretty. I believe I have an above-average or actually high pain tolerance, and I believe one can get used to a level of pain... eventually. But meantime, I found the level of pain was making me tight as a ton of knots, which triggered Vertigo again. And on my job, it's full-on, heavy-duty 4th quarter and year-end close time... So, yeah, back on the pain meds for now. Shit.

I've not had the oomph to do much of anything, not blogging, not cooking or baking, not pottery... if Joyce hadn't been running the Christmas show for our family this year, I dare say it would've been a flop. We did not send out Christmas cards this year. I was shopping for presents right up to Christmas Eve, and that is not like me. And Joycie wrapped most of the gifts for me.

So, though I am not making a New Year's Resolution, because I do not believe in those, I have decided to try to blog more often. I have so many family milestones, events and just plain moments that have gone undocumented in my blog since early 2008. I write this blog truly mostly for myself. It is like a journal of our family events, and I like to go back to older posts and read and look at photos, and remember. So that's my decision... post more on my blog and catch up on events in our lives over the past 2 years. I'm not deciding to Post Every Day and I'm not deciding to cover Events in Chronological Order. Whatever will be, will be.

I think that if I make an effort to write a blog post more often, other things in my life will, well.... fall into place. Blogging gets my creative juices flowing, and that feels good.

Oh, and I've also decided that Salt is the Enemy. It really, really is. Caffeine comes in a close 2nd, but no freakin' way am I going without coffee. That's just inhumane.

Oh, and I've also decided to free myself from post titles. You'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last minute holiday shopping?...

What to get for the person who has everything? Stumped for ideas? Shopping crowds got you down? Sick of trying to find a parking spot that isn't 2 miles away? Tired of clicking through web pages? ... Well, don't just give up!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meet my brand new grand-niece


I'm not 100% sure what time she was born, but I think it was close to midnight and I think her birthday is Dec. 9th. I am 100% sure she is beautiful! She's 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches of beautiful. I love how she's looking at the camera... you can tell Elliana is smart... those eyes! She almost looks like she's smirking, an expression I've seen on her momma's face a time or two... !

My niece, Sara, and also her husband Derek, must have had a long afternoon and evening... I got the text they were heading into the hospital at about 2pm yesterday. But mostly Sara... coz I heard they finally went with a C-Section around 11pm. Both momma and baby daughter are doing well. Sara sent me Elliana's photo in a text message this morning at 7am.

My fingers are itching to hold her!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

You can run...

Awesome, eh?! This photo of a hawk was the only photo that turned out at all of the 8 taken on Kev's game camera. But what a shot. Kev set up his game camera overlooking a deer carcass, which I cleverly eliminated from the above photo... well, perhaps not so cleverly because that's why the picture looks a little choppy under the bird's belly and left wing (his left, not yours). We were surprised to get only 8 shots, and the other 7 turned out with 1 white with just the photo label at bottom with the other 6 just blanks. Total blanks. We don't know yet if there is something wrong with the camera or what. Here's hoping not.

If you wanna see the original pic in all its carcass glory, click on the one below to enlarge. It's kinda yukky, though. So you've been warned...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


This morning, the full moon was just above the horizon in the western sky with a smattering of flimsy clouds around it. It was gorgeous. It had a ring around it, too. Sam was driving (yes! driving!) to school, and we were waiting at the drive-up window at the coffee shop... I said, "Look how beautiful the moon is!"

He said, "Werewolves."

He was right, too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hello yourself

So yeah, anyway, I'm still breathing. This is a photo I just took this morning of the women's bathroom at work. As you can see, it is a long, narrow room. With a total of nine - count 'em, NINE - stalls, the last 2 being the larger wheel chair access types. So I enter the bathroom the other morning, and it is entirely empty. Like it was when I took this pic. This actually happens quite often. I select a stall mid-way down the row, and I am happily peeing away when I hear the bathroom entrance door open and the hurried click-clack, click-clack of shoes on the tile floor. With not even a slight hesitation, the woman pushes in the door of the stall I am in. While I'm peeing. The only closed door in the row of nine - count 'em, NINE - doors. Yes, I locked the door, but our door locks are meant to only keep the doors closed... if you push hard enough the doors will open as it's some kind of safety feature. And yes, she pushed well hard enough... HELLO THERE! CARE TO JOIN ME????...

How obtuse does one have to be to choose the only closed door in a row of nine stalls?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

With blessings to share

My niece, Susan, has a son, Rogan, who is my sister, Janet's grandson and the light of her life. That light will be shared in the not too distant future...

My second eldest niece, Sara (Susan's sister), and her husband of 19 months, Derek, are expecting their first child.

Last Friday evening, we all met at Janet & Bob's house, and Sara and Derek were on the speaker phone. Sara had an ultrasound earlier, and so they were to announce to us all whether it would be a boy or a girl. Sara had wrapped 2 presents at some point in the recent past, and she hid them at her mom & dad's house. Sara told her mom to go get and open the one with the yellow bow. Inside was a pink outfit... Janet's face was awesome to see! Gramma is happy at the expectation of a baby granddaughter. I wish I had gotten a photo of that expression on Janet's face, but I missed it, so this poor quality photo will have to do:

Janet still looks glowing with happiness. We all were, of course. Not that a second great-nephew would have been a difficult thing to look forward to! But it was a very nice bit of news...

And what a fun way to share it with the family. Such a cute, tiny pink outfit. It was very cool. Sara sounded so happy, too. She told us they have decided on a name; she will be Elle. Such a pretty name.

Sara scanned the ultrasound photos and shared them with us. Meet our beautiful Elle:

This one of Elle sucking her thumb is so adorable:

And this one of her little foot...

I can't wait! My fingers are itching to hold this baby girl.

Then on Monday, I went out to lunch to a Mongolian BBQ and on the way out, I snagged a fortune cookie. It sat on my desk at work; I didn't get around to opening it. Then yesterday morning, after I was talking with a coworker about his wife who is having their 2nd child this week, a baby girl, and I told him all about Elle... and then after he walked back to his cubicle, I noticed the fortune cookie and opened it...

Way too cool! I tend to keep fortunes, and I have a ton of them. I've read a ton of them through the years... but I've never received or read this "short stranger" one. So I had to send a picture message to Sara right away... a Chinese fortune cookie that predicts the future for real. Can't wait!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Kev and I went for 4wheeler ride this evening, and it was a gorgeous evening. Still is... got all the windows open and a nice, cool breeze coming in.

Kev's big field out back is coming up mostly with tall grasses, but it's beautiful.

We saw a doe with her twin fawns in the woods. We've seen them up around the pond, and we were able to turn off the 4wheeler and watch them for a bit before they bounded off.

Kevin, Turtle Rescuer

Back in the first days of the month of June, Kev found a turtle at work and brought it home in a box...

Yes, a turtle...

and because no self-respecting, intelligent turtle would want to live in a chemical plant, he set it free in our pond...

Good-bye very happy turtle, no super powers in your future.

Kevin: Hero of All Natural Turtles Everywhere.

I have so many, many things yet to blog about, going back to last May. By last May, I really mean May 2008. To present. I have taken blogging procrastination to a Whole New Level. I should do something about it...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Love, love, love

Since I have sorely neglected this poor old blog lately, I treat you with a photo!

Ladybug love...

Now, doesn't that photo give you a warm feeling inside? Even the smallest creatures are loving, and loving each other. And like humankind, some are just plain freaks, even among the smallest creatures... notice the little voyeur there on the side?... ahem...

This post must be photo-filled instead of text since the reason for my lack of posts is a decided lack of creativity in the cranium. I'm busy at work, as usual... I'll be too busy for the next couple of years cleaning up from my 2008 debacle. Too busy at home, as well, with a backlog of work there, too. And I'm still spending much of my free time whining and laying down. *sigh*

And I'm still not winning the lottery. *sigh* (Even though I dreamed, very realistically, that I won $250 million... in which dream, I made a list of 100 people, family, friends and coworkers, who would all get $1 million each. If you're reading this and fall into one of those categories, don't you sorely wish I had won?! Me, too.)

But instead of a million bucks for you, I have another lovely photo... Mike and Joycie on Mike's new-to-him Harley...

Isn't it all shiny and beautiful? And don't they both look so happy? You can't see me, but I can tell you that I look both happy and worried. *sigh*

Yet more love... this from Texas, where my best friend, Sandra Jean, and her hubby, Brian, have a new puppy. Meet Jake...

He is with his best friend, Scout, and Jake is a fun-filled, lovable 4-month old. And Jake is also, like most puppies, simply beautiful while napping...

Sadly, Sandy and Brian lost their dog, Shadow, a while back. Shad was a black lab, and she lived a long, happy life, and as with all our beloved pets, she'll always be missed. Having Jake helps the hurt a bit for both Scout and Shadow's humans.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Loving where I live...

From our local newspaper's "crime log":

Saturday, May 30

12:14 a.m. -- A deputy was sent to a Hope Township home after a man reported hearing a woman in the woods screaming. Deputies checked the woods and determined the noise was a barn owl.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Down home in Michigan

Joycie and Mike made Mexican food Saturday evening and had friends over. Allison's sweetheart, Christopher, is visiting her from Italy, where he's stationed in the Navy. I've been getting to know him through his VLog, and it was super nice to meet him in person. What I liked most about Christopher was how happy Allison looked. Their story is very romantic.

Kara has returned from India, where she spent her last semester. And got her nose pierced...

I love it. When you have an experience like that, you should come home changed. Internally and externally. The little diamond looks perfect on her.

Kev and I left the youngins on their own for dinner, and we went out... for Mexican food in Mt. Pleasant. Silly us. Joyce & Mike's was better (we had it Sunday). When we got home, they were all set up out at a campfire by the pond.

It was a pretty cold evening and kind of windy, so not the best evening for a campfire. Your front gets warm, but your back freezes, and the smoke goes all around.

But I managed to get a happy photo of Christopher and Allison:

And of Mike and Joycie:

Joycie, Allison and Kara have been friends since they were little kids in elementary school. So many years, so many changes...

Friday, May 15, 2009


It has been a long week, and I'm tired. Sam is gone for the evening, as usual. Our little social butterfly is rarely home on Friday evenings, and he has made plans for the weekend. Tonight he's at the Loons game with friends and staying overnight with his best bud, Nate. Joyce and Mike are both done with their respective college 2nd semesters, and they've been working full-time each day this week. They're not home yet because they're getting groceries for us on their way home. Words cannot express how much I love and appreciate those 2 youngins.

It's a beautiful evening, and Kev started mowing the lawn about an hour or so ago. Since he has made such an enormous lawn for us, it takes him quite some time to mow. I've been sitting at my computer trying to get up the energy to do something, like write a blog post... but instead I was playing Hoyle chess. Kev decided I was looking far too serious, so next time he drove by the window I'm facing, he waved at me in a very energetic way... and he was buck naked. Yes! I know! How cool is that?!! But alas, my new cell phone failed me. The photo save and erase buttons are on opposite sides from my old cell phone... so I deleted 3 great pics instead of saving them. *sigh* But oh my heck, I laughed. My hubby is crazy. Very cute also.

Mother's Day was awesome. Sammy made pancakes for breakfast. Extra wonderful. Extra wonderful with my brother, Jim's, maple syrup, too. Yum. My wonderful kiddos, and Kev, too, gave me a Zune. 4 gig! I was so excited and surprised. I want to download books. And use it for music from Joycie, too. But, I have been unable to download the software. My high speed dish Internet access just isn't high speed enough, I guess... it keeps timing out. I had to call them and ask for a CD, which they are mailing, but it is the older version software, so after I install it, I will have to download the upgrade. Fingers crossed. It's frustrating. I wanna use it so badly!!! And I can't yet. Grrr... And it is such a pretty, pretty pink! With a pretty white and pink case!

My sister, Kathy, called me yesterday morning on her way to work. We both drive M-20 and there has been construction along a part of it recently. Yesterday morning was windy. One of those huge black and white signs that reads, "Injure or Kill a Worker..." blew over right in front of her. Right. In. Front. Of. Her. Thankfully no one was in the left lane, and she didn't hit anyone as she swerved to avoid the attacking sign. Which would have otherwise surely injured or killed a worker on her way to work. Irony on a windy morning. Gotta love it.

Both Mike and Joycie have done very well on their grades this past semester. I think they feel like college is crawling by, but I cannot believe this college year is over. I'm so very proud of the both of them. They are also both doing great at their jobs; both working for the same start-up company. That's for another blog post. But again, I'm so proud of them.

I'm also proud of my niece, Michelle, who has graduated from college (look for pics later), and I'm so proud of her brother, my nephew, Michael, who has also completed his first year of college. Michael with a straight 4.0 GPA. My nephew is brilliant.

Joycie's good friend, Allison, got a nice surprise this week. Her sweetheart who is in the Navy and stationed in Italy came to see her here in Michigan. We get to meet him tomorrow evening, and I'm very much looking forward to that. Also to Joycie's homemade Mexican food. The girl can crank out the tortillas so wonderfully. Mike's momma, Izzy, has taught her well.

And can we all get a HALLELUJAH! that "Coach" is finally, finally voted off. He has been barf material all the way. When he told his "Assistant Coach" that "they" call me the dragon slayer, I actually did feel a bit of vomit in my throat. They didn't call him that, HE called himself that. Ugh. Gag. And did anyone else find it strange that everyone else had a family member visit, but not him? We have been muting or fast forwarding through the Survivor episodes now whenever we see his mouth moving. He would have been the ideal person to take to the final 2, though... who on the jury would give that conceited jackass a million bucks? No one. Stephen is one smart dude. I hope he wins the million just for getting Coach out. Though JT is awfully adorable...

And speaking of adorable... this week's Two and Half Men was awesome. I love the character, "Berta" (Conchata Ferrell, who plays the part perfectly!)... my favorite quotes from that episode: 1) Jimminy, I'm drunk, and 2) He digs the trench and you lay the pipe. Classic.

Yet more TV! I really enjoy the show The Big Bang Theory. The character Sheldon and his "classic pranks" is so funny. Bazinga! This recent episode where Wolowitz pretends to shoot a crossbow at Sheldon, with the added gesture of throwing the weapon down when he's done shooting it was awesome. And now we are saying Bazinga! around this house.

I used to cook a lot. I used to be known as a really good cook. But I haven't been cooking hardly at all in the past, oh... 18 or 20 months. It's another thing I keep hoping will return to "normal" one of these days. Meantime, I am recording a heck of a lot of cooking shows. My favorites are Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Giada and Tyler, and of course, Rachel, too... I have so many different episodes recorded on our DVR, and I rename them all just "Food" so they are grouped together. When I am feeling particularly tired out and yet still anxious (have that going on a LOT lately... work pressures, so much work backlog from last year... ugh), I love to watch Paula cook. Her Southern drawl is so soothing, y'all. And her food looks so good. I just wanna hug her. And then eat everything she's cooked up in her gorgeous kitchen. I think Paula Deen is probably the TV cook I most admire... her book, "It Ain't All About the Cookin'" is on my want-to-read list. I love watching the Barefoot Contessa episodes, too, also soothing. Her home is lovely. But it's all a little too... I don't know... too too... y'know?. Kevin likes it when I'm watching any Everyday Italian episode, and he'll actually watch them with me. I'm sure it has nothing to do with how gorgeous Giada is... (Kev calls her the little midget with the big knockers and the low-cut shirts.)

Wow. I watch a lot of TV. And right now, the Tigers are on it. See ya!

Friday, May 08, 2009

My guitar girl

Joyce did a ton of research, got a great deal, including a student discount, and bought herself a new iMac. It's gorgeous...

And as you can see, she's super happy about it. She has had it a little over a week now, and unfortunately, she already had some problems with it. But she was on the phone with the iMac folks and it seems to be all ok now.

The machine is amazing. The screen is huge, as you can see in the photo, and so crisp and clear. The hard drive is the monitor, no other piece. The CD/DVD drive is just an opening on the side. The keyboard is super lightweight and very thin. There is even a USB port on the side of the keyboard, which is handy for the iPod, etc.

Since it's a Mac, it came loaded with all kinds of stuff, including iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. Oh. My. Heck. I love that she has GarageBand. Yesterday evening, she played 3 songs for me that she's created using GarageBand... Joyce singing and playing her Martin. I loved it! She's making a bunch of tracks for a CD for me. I can't wait to get the CD. Joyce used to never like to sing for me while she played her guitar, but like her guitar playing skills, her singing shines. Her songs are beautiful. I will see if I can talk her into letting me post one of her songs on my blog. I say "her songs" but they are covers, not songs she's written herself. Hey, now there's an idea...

Joyce did say, though, that while she was using GarageBand yesterday, it unexpectedly quit. So maybe all the little bugs aren't out of her new iMac yet. Which really sucks, considering it's brand spanking new. She bought the support/extended warranty thing, though, so she's covered. I told her it was "the nasty virus"... We've been discussing how Macs get very few infections, because the idiots of the world write those things for Windows, not Macs.

When she ordered it, she was like a little kid at Christmas, constantly checking the package tracking and telling me the status updates. It's left California! It's in Nevada! She kept asking me when I thought it would arrive. It was fun watching her excited anticipation and then her glee when it did finally arrive.

After she told me it was in Nevada, I sent her this text message:

"Your mac decided to make a quick stop in vegas. The good news is it won big time at black jack. The bad news is it blew it all on prostitutes and now it has a nasty virus."

I didn't hear back from her for a while. This was the Tuesday evening before last. Joyce had gotten home from class and made herself some bacon and eggs for dinner. Kev, who had forgotten to get milk on the way home, and really, really ticked off Joycie in the process, was outside with Sammy shooting baskets. They both came inside about 7:30pm, and by this time Joyce was up in her room studying (exam week this week for her), and I was laying bed enjoying the cool breeze coming in my bedroom window and the beautiful view of the pond and the relief on my neck from my lovely, lovely pillow (been a rough couple of weeks lately with neck pain, ever since N.C., one of our cats, tripped me up on the porch steps).

So the 2 sweaty boys decided to come in the bedroom and visited with me. Kev came in first and laid down with me and was massaging my neck, then Sammy came in and laid down in front me so I could hug his sweaty self. It was actually very nice... just what I needed to feel better.

Kev, Sammy and I were talking when my phone beeped a new text message... Joycie's reply. So the 3 of us started replying back, with Sammy doing the typing (man! that boy can text so dang fast)... here is that goofy text conversation... and what's funny is that Joycie didn't realize it was the 3 of us yanking her chain... We 3 found it hilariously entertaining.

Joycie: LOL don’t talk about my mac that way. Its only rumors.

Us: Bullshit. I saw the youtube video.
      [Sammy enjoyed typing "bullshit"... boys!]

J: Whatev

Us: Youre the one that will be touching it

J: Yeah and it will feel amazing. I will just wrap it in saran wrap.

Us: Your sex life is your business
      [Again, Sammy cracked up at "sex life"...
      14-year-old boys!]

J: Yes it is

Us: But I think you should tell mike, he has the right to know to protect himself from possible infection

J: Don’t worry I will let him know my mac is a whore

Us: Thats coz all macs are whores

J: Again... whatev. It dont matter none.
      [Joyce did that one just to annoy me;
      she knows I can't stand poor grammar.]

Us: Spoken with the grammar of a true mac user.

J: ...grrr

Us: What’s the difference between a pc and a mac?
      [Sammy asked me what the answer was...
      I told him it depended on what Joycie said back.]

J: What?...

Us: Exactly!
      [Sammy said, "I don't get it"...
      I said, "Exactly!"
      Sammy said, "I still don't get it."]

J: Dont get it.

Us: You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish.
      [This was Kev's contribution, and Sammy
      was laughing so hard he could hardly type.]

J: I’m done trying to understand you.

Us: It is what it is.

no answer...

Us: Dad wants to know if you got any milk on the way home?
      [Major chain yanking here!]

J: No, tell him that its his job and he should know these things.

Us: Mmm... bacon smells good

J: It was good

Us: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

no answer...

Us: You should have bribed him with bacon

J: Oh well, sucks for him I guess

And that was it. It was good for a laugh, and it is making me smile just typing this up. But maybe it was one of those times where ya hadta be there...

Thursday, May 07, 2009


I've been watching the ditch down our dirt road, and with all the April rain, and rain in May, too, it has been rising and falling daily. I am somehow entranced by the streams of water coming out of the woods (more on that later...), and when I'm on my way home, I've been driving past our driveway on these sunny days to check out further on down the ditch.

Saturday, I saw this heron and managed to get quite close to it before it spread its huge wings out and flapped away...

Then I watched a number of small, yellow birds flying around and chasing each other, all the while singing like crazy. I think they are Orchard Orioles, but I'm not completely sure. I haven't seen this bird before... they were lovely, they sounded lovely and their antics were very entertaining. When a couple of them would decide to chase each other, they would really get some speed going. I was sitting in my car, with the engine off & window down, and they'd ZOOM! by. One got a little close, and startled me... thought it was going to zoom into my car, or right into my head... Pretty, aren't they...

While I was watching the streams of water and the birds, I could hear a chainsaw going, so I made my way down the road. Kev was out on the northwest corner of our property cutting up a downed tree. The man loves to cut wood...

And in the woods, there were violets everywhere...

It was a beautiful day. Love this time of year.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Phone pics from the kids

Joycie took this photo with her phone recently. We already knew how Reilly spends his day... this just proves it. Sprawled out on Sam's queen-sized bed in the sun...

Reilly isn't always spread out like that; he spends a lot of time laying on the bed so he can look out Sam's bedroom windows down the driveway. Lovely way to spend a day.

I'm jealous.

Sammy took this photo with his phone right before we left the house one morning on the way to school/work. He didn't tell me about it or show it to me on his phone; he emailed it to me at work, and it was a pretty surprise...

I love watching the sunrise on the pond. This pic is now my laptop desktop background.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goose egg

I mentioned recently that I found a goose egg on the side of our pond, and that Kev set up his game camera to monitor the situation. Good thing we weren't on pins and needles waiting for something exciting...

The most exciting part (not) was convincing Reilly, our dog, that it wasn't a ball... over and over and over and over...

The pair of Canada geese would visit the egg daily. They'd fly in and spend some time around the egg.

I watched them do this a few different times, and I never saw them actually touch the egg. They'd land on the pond and then swim over to, or near, the egg. Watching the pair fly in, swoop low, swing around and majestically land on the pond was awesome. When I saw them, they would then swim directly to the egg, except for one time when they swam toward it, then passed it, then back to it.

I believe they probably did this more than once per day, visiting their egg. I also believe they have a nest nearby. We hear them often, late at night or early in the mornings. It has been a puzzle to me... it had to be a mistake when she laid the egg there, like, oops, that one popped out by accident! (Maybe she bent over when she shouldn't have, like after having chili for lunch.)

But why the visits?

Anyway, the visits are over now. We finally retrieved the egg, and Sam, very interested, cracked it open last night, well away from the house. He said it didn't stink and it looked just like a regular egg, no big red spots or anything. I was tired of making sure the dogs didn't get to it, and with the days warming up, I'm pretty sure it'd be one stinky egg soon. I'm kinda surprised a crow or something didn't go for it.

Kev's game camera caught very few photos in the past 3 weeks. We're not sure why; we know there were times when the geese were definitely there at the egg, but the game camera took no photos. Maybe the lighting at the time wasn't enough, or maybe there was too much sunshine, to trigger the camera's action sensor. We got about 15 photos; half were of nothing.

A couple of the pics were kinda neat, though...

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Tdap, Tdap... Tdap, Tdap, Tdap... Tdap, Tdaaaaaaaaaaaap. TDAP.

Don't know why, but that's what happens when I think "Tdap" in my head. It becomes Pink Panther theme music.

If you do not know what a Tdap is, then FOR SHAME. Get thyself to thine doctor (or reasonable facsimile thereof) pronto and get it. It's a shot. Yes, it'll hurt. Ya big baby.

My niece, Chelle-Belle, was very, very sick recently. Thankfully, she was home from college for the weekend, so her parents were able to get her to our local ER very late one evening. Her struggle to breathe was painful in many ways... painful for Chelle and painful for my sister and brother-in-law to watch. Michelle did not have pneumonia; a day later it was confirmed she had Whooping Cough.

Michelle received a medical checkup and the shots required before she began her first college semester, including a Tetanus shot. But for some reason, though I believe the Tdap shot was available back then, Chelle got only the T. (Michelle is in her final semester of her 4-year college program, pre-med.) Tdap is Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis. We all greatly wish she had received the "p" along with the "T", and what the hell, the "d" too for that matter. She has it all now.

Pertussis, aka Whooping Cough, is extremely contagious. Since it's now been discovered for young adults, and us old adults, that the vaccinations we received as children have worn off, we all need to be sure to get re-vaccinated with the Tdap shot. Unfortunately, many parents are recently deciding not to vaccinate their children. So between these 2 factors, Whooping Cough is on the rise in the U.S.


I say "unfortunately" because I am pro-vaccination. And yes, I know this is a big ol' can of worms (I listened to the Momversation on it recently). I'm totally Old School. Shoot 'em up, baby. Coz I agree with 2 statements on that Momversation: 1) Vaccinations are one of the best medical breakthroughs of our generation, of recent generations, and 2) parents who decide not to vaccinate their children are relying upon the rest of us who do... otherwise, we would be back in epidemic city Big Time on many diseases. Also, I have a niece, Sara, who teaches Special Education, and Sara is certified in MI, MR & Autism (MI is mental illness and MR is mental retardation - I think, though I'm not sure if that is still politically correct). I have such awe of Sara, choosing that profession; I am so proud of her. I talked with Sara not too long ago about the relationship that seems to be made between vaccinations and autism. She explained one thing I hadn't thought about, which was that years ago, children were not diagnosed as autistic where they would be diagnosed as such now... it is not so much a situation of an increase in autism as an increase in diagnoses of autism.

I am not saying there are no risks associated with vaccinations, because of course there are risks. But, I believe that vaccinations have allowed my children to be free of the danger of many diseases that plagued children of my father and mother's generation and the generations before them.

Right before Michelle became so sick she had to be taken to ER, I got to visit with her, and since we're such a huggy/kissy family, I was hugging and kissing her. Thankfully, last May when my physician checked me out from attic to basement, I got the Tdap shot. I have no recollection of that, so I had a scary bit of hours between learning I was exposed and learning I was vaccinated. Whew. I wasn't up to another round of any kind of antibiotics.

Also thankfully, Kevin just got a Tdap shot at work at his recent physical. Kev has to undergo a very thorough annual exam due to his new job at work, and the Tdap shot was not optional; get it or don't keep the job. Not that he wouldn't want it. And even more special for Kev was that his employer provided it, made the pain on his shoulder for the next 4 days that much more bearable... at least he didn't have to pay actual money for the shot. (Kev can be so cheap!) Joycie and Sammy also have had the Tdap shot within the past 2 years, so we are all good. But our Mike needs his Tdap shot, which he will get pronto. He needs the Tetanus anyway, because of the job he has now, where he works around older homes and buildings.

Remember: Renew your Tdap shot every ten years.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why, hello there

Every once in a while, I like to look through Photo Friday. I like the Link Viewer they have, and I like zipping through the photos. I do this sometimes at work at my desk while I spend a quick 15 minutes eating my lunch, and it's a nice little break in the middle of a busy day. Especially when some of the photos are so spectacular, they can take one right out of one's dinky little cubicle for a brief second or two. Nice.

The range of photo quality, though, is truly amazing... from really great to really bad. A few years back, I used to participate, mostly as a means to try to learn how to use an Olympus that was my first real digital camera (I'm not counting my very old Sony Mavica). That Olympus had features on it that I never did get around to using. I think Photo Friday was booming then, this was early 2005... and it wasn't unusual to see over 600 photos posted for one weekly challenge. That's a lot of photos to look at, especially when we had only dial-up Internet access back then. I think now it mostly depends on the weekly challenge, some of them get a lot of interest, thus 900 photos, and some don't, so 120 photos. I find it all very interesting.

Mostly I enjoy Photo Friday just to find those few photos that really strike me for whatever reason. A photo I can't get out of my mind.

There's a lot of professionals or almost-professionals using it for basically free advertising, and eh, who cares. But they bore me. They bore me about as much as their polar opposites... the ones I see that are the half-assed photos of someone's little daughter, photos hardly in focus and barely able to be categorized as part of the week's challenge. Those all just make me bored. I mean, HELLO, it's Photo Friday, not show me your crappy quality photo you took AGAIN of your kid. And it's not all about you, Mr. $8,000-camera PLUS expensive lens selling photos and copyrighting everything because of money, money, money.

Photo Friday is about... well, here it is in their own words:

  • Each week Photo Friday posts a photo assignment. Your mission is the creative interpretation of the week's theme. When you're done, post the picture you took to your website and submit your link to Photo Friday.

  • Photo Friday is about challenging our participants to be original and creative within the constraints of the week's theme. It's not a competition. Anyone with a camera and a place on the internet to post pictures can participate.

I like the regular average Joes & Janes who take a great shot or set up a great shot for the challenge and post it. Those are the pics I look for.

Last week's challenge was "Extreme Closeup" and some of the photos were amazing. This one I just cannot get out of my head. I just like this little feller. He's my laptop's desktop background right now. Yes, I totally do that. If I find a photo I adore, I may use it for my desktop background. I mean, seriously, click on the photo and look at him large... how can you say no to those eyes?

I found one photo quite some time ago that was a black and white shot of a circle of dark stones on a beach, and there was just something about it that was awesome. But I can't locate it now, and so... I miss it. But not enough to go through a kazillion Photo Friday photos to try and find it.


OK, so... reminding myself of my penchant for copying the pics for using as my desktop background, I went to my old computer and found it!...

I sorely wish I could give credit to the photographer, but after finding the file and looking at the date of it, then spending a bit of time trying to find it again on Photo Friday, well... it seems an impossible task. If I find the photographer, I will totally update this post and give him credit (I seem to recall it was a him, and they were on vacation in Norway or Finland or something, and he lived in Switzerland or something, or I could possibly have dreamt all that up). Love the photo, though. Don't you? Do a Google image search on "beach circle" and you'll see some neat photos, but in my opinion, not as good as this one.

   I found the pic, "on the beach" on Photo Friday,
   in the "Best of 2007"... here's the link to it
   on the beach by urbanmonster
   Not the story I remember...
   But awesome photo.

This has been such a strange day. Good Friday, and a holiday by my company (whoo-hoo, thank God for those Christians, eh). But I did have to do a bit of work today, at least from home (been doing a LOT of that lately). Kev spent time outside stacking wood, and he came in the house to tell me there was a beautiful pair of Canada geese setting on the edge of our pond in the sun. So I grabbed Joycie's/my little Sony and snuck out there. It was pretty windy today, so I managed to get quite close to them.

Since I knew Kev was going to head out back with the 3 dogs shortly and would scare the pair away, I tried to get even closer. They got up and got agitated, and then got into the pond, like swimming kind of toward me. I taped it with the little Sony, but between my walking on uneven ground, the strong wind, my facing the sun, and the little Sony wiggling at every move, the movie file is awful (Joycie said like "The Blair Witch Project"... ugh!). I would walk a little closer toward them then stop, then walk, then stop... and at one point they really started squawking at me. Something caught my eye and I looked down at the edge of the pond and saw this:

Why would she lay an egg on the edge of the pond like that? Freaked me out. I stopped the taping, and right about then, the 2 geese took off from the pond... talk about a grand exit. It was gorgeous. And I wasn't recording any longer. Sweet.

So Kev and I, and the 3 dogs, took another 4-wheeler ride out back and retrieved the game camera. I convinced Kev to plant a fence post near the egg and set up the camera there... I wanna see what happens to it. When Kev was setting the metal fence post, Barney and Reilly were with us, getting into the pond. Reilly suddenly noticed the egg and started for it... Kev had to yell at him quick. Reilly thought it was a ball, and he surely had to get it before Barney! That would've been a let-down in so many ways.

Can't wait to see what the camera shows tomorrow. Full moon tonight, too. Very beautiful on the pond. And how do I know this? Because it is right now almost one o'clock a.m., A.M.! I am wide awake at 1am. This is not like me, and I'm not sure how this happened. I am the one trying to stay up until at least 8:30pm lately. Especially now, working so many extra hours on quarter close (work stuff, y'know). I'm pooped by 7pm. But today, I'm all wide awake. Well, wide awake for me. Tomorrow should be very interesting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Odds and ends again... mostly odds...

Meryl Streep is my favorite actress ever. (Or am I supposed to say "actor"?... seems like I heard or read somewhere that actor is to be non-gender specific and thus more PC. Whatever.) She's amazing. I have loved every movie I've seen with her in it. Meryl Streep has more talent in her little finger than most of the actors (actresses) out there. Seriously. For one thing, this:

I loved that movie. And I can't imagine doing that move at my age, let alone her age. And speaking of age, she is aging better than any other actress also. I greatly admire that woman. No, it's not a crush... well, maybe a little... Anyway, I bring this up only because she must have somehow been featured in a dream I had last night or something, because I woke up thinking of her. (Hey, gotta be a good day when you wake up thinking of Meryl Streep, right?) And thinking how she has more talent in her little finger than, well, you know.

And then I thought of her little fingers... Have you ever noticed how Meryl Streep has very small little fingers? I mean, her little fingers are small... they're half the size of her ring fingers (or 3rd finger or whatever the technical term is for the finger between your little finger and your bird). I noticed it years ago and now look for it on occasion in her movies. (Ever do that? Notice something and then can't help but look for it over and over. Yes, you do.) So I've been scouring via Google images for Meryl Streep and her extra little, yet still gorgeous, little fingers. And it's been amazingly difficult. Most photos I've found don't show her hands very well, or if they do, she's doing something like this...

But I did find these...

So, that's what I find interesting at 4:30am.

This week is our son's school's spring break week. If we were normal, we'd be on a nice vacation somewhere with our son, leaving his hard-working older sister home to attend her college classes. But, we are not normal. I am not, anyway.

Fortunately, Sammy was lucky. And Lucky Sam has some good friends... A good friend, Austin, who invited Sammy to go with him and his family to the Kalahari Resort in Ohio. Sam is half fish, and I'm sure he is in heaven right now. I miss him, but am oh so happy for him. Austin's family and 2 other families all went there together, so there are lots of kids. Some younger kids, but Sammy likes little kids. I'm so happy that Sam is getting to do something so very, very fun for spring break. And they're staying in the "Village Suite" at the Kalahari... pretty freakin' awesome.

In light of Sam being gone most of this week, he and I made plans for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I took Monday as a vacation day to spend with Sam. We started on Saturday with a tanning session for Sammy. (I let Sam do about 4 or 5 tanning sessions... a local tanning joint has a deal where you get 6 free to see if you like it, then you can sign up if you want. Awesome.) Then on to the Hollister store at the Saginaw mall.

Words cannot express how much I hate Hollister stores. I am far, far too old for them. They play the music too damn LOUD and they spray far too much perfume EVERYWHERE. And they sell cheap stuff at ridiculously high prices. But, words cannot express how much I love my son, so... to Hollister we went.

Sammy and his friends are what Joycie (lovingly) calls "label whores." Joycie and her friends would happily hit the local "Salvo" for t-shirts (Salvation Army store). And since we live in a town that has many world travelers, they'd find some cool, like-new t-shirts from places like Belize, Ireland, Australia, China... Sammy wouldn't be caught dead in anything from Salvo. Even if no one could possibly know it came from Salvo, HE WOULD KNOW. And since we were not spending any money on a family vacation once again this year, I agreed to Hollister. What will $230 buy at Hollister? 1 pair swim trunks, 2 pair of shorts, 3 t-shirts, 1 t-shirt with a collar and 1 bottle of Jake cologne. Yes, $230. (Kev, if you're reading this, I know you're croaking right now, so get over it.) This desire of Sam's to wear The Name Brand clothing is definitely not something he got from me or his Dad... we got home and Kev met us in the garage... and Kev had on a black t-shirt that I got free from my employer back in 1979. Yes, 1979.

Sunday, I took Sammy back into town for another tanning session, a hair cut and then a "date" with his girlfriend, Julia. We picked Julia up and went downtown where I stayed at a local coffee shop, using their super fast free wi-fi to get some work done, while Sammy and Julia just walked around together. I managed to hack it out... I say that because I felt awful. When we got home Saturday, I felt awful... Sam was afraid our Sunday plans would be cancelled, but I stuck it out. Not easily.

Because once again, I caught some damn bug. Been sick again since early Saturday, with a stomach flu or something, reminiscent of April '08. Ugh. Ever since I had that Augmentin reaction, I have felt weird and/or sick. Weirdly sick. Sickly weird. Vertigo is crazy. Also, my sense of taste is greatly diminished. Very odd. I have been putting more salt on things lately without thinking about it, because I can't taste it until it's too much salt. And salt doesn't help with vertigo (I read that somewhere, I think). Too much salt doesn't help a person's body at all. So I've been trying to be aware of it, and not use it. It's like food is so-so and coffee is simply hot. Today, I can taste coffee more, so I know my sense of taste is returning, slowly though.

Monday, Sammy needed an allergy shot, and then we had plans to go out to breakfast and then a bunch of other plans. I did get him to his shot, and then to breakfast as promised... to an iHop (allergy shot in one town, iHop 30 miles away in a another town, oy!). Sammy wanted iHop because he loves their cornmeal pancakes. Guess what... the cornmeal pancakes are no longer on their menu; can't get 'em. He was disappointed, and I was like, "OMG, I drove 30 miles for this and I feel like CRAP." And then we had to cancel all the rest of the day's plans because I had to hurry home, and then I spent the rest of the day pretty much between my bed and my bathroom. What a sweet way to spend 8 vacation hours. I was telling my best friend, Sandy, all about my troubles, and she said, "It's like they said in that movie The Bucket List, 'never trust a fart'!" That's my Sandy, she can still make me laugh even when I don't feel like it.

And now I've been up and done with my shower since before 5am, sitting at our dining room table with all my work spread out - it's all staring at me! Been writing this blog post all that time, on and off, with several interruptions... But also having enjoyed the coffee Kev made this morning, talking with him before he had to leave for work, and enjoying what I can see of a gorgeous sunrise down our long hallway, past the kitchen, through our small window...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Riding with the dogs

After Kev felled the big oak last weekend, he and I took a short ride together on our 4-wheeler. We drove out back so Kev could show me where he cut down some more trees. Out back by our little pond, there are 2 clumps of witch hazel growing there. I have a fondness in my heart for those witch hazel, and Kev knows this. The past couple of years, some small poplars have begun growing up too close to the witch hazel. I've been hinting, asking and outright begging Kev to clear those away. And he did! Have I mentioned lately how much I love that man?...

On our way back to the house, I used Joycie's little Sony for another video. I am amazed at how well that little thing records. And yes, my skills are not very refined, I'm afraid. But I was riding on a 4-wheeler. Don't expect too much.

The fun part, which is also at times very irritating, is Reilly's behavior. Reilly loves, loves, LOVES a 4-wheeler ride. He likes to be right in front of it and jump and act all weird. He used to bark at it and act like he was trying to bite it, but we got him to stop that behavior. Most of the time. Usually Kev will holler at him and tell him to run on ahead, and since Kevin is the ONLY person Reilly will mind, that's what Reilly does. I asked Kev to let him be coz I wanted to record Reilly's madness so we could laugh at it later. You can also hear Barney huffing and puffing behind us. Now that he's blind, he follows the 4-wheeler right on our tail. Betty makes her way however she wishes. Now, from her you'll usually hear some major huffing and puffing... but she stayed back away too far to get it on this video. The ride was fun. Enjoy...

Kev had moved both the pickups away from the polebarn in the event the big oak wasn't convinced to fall in the direction he wished. Squash the pole barn, just don't squash the trucks! I loved his comment when we were riding along side the pond and could see both the trucks parked in the front drive... Kev said, "30 years of technology right there between those 2 trucks." I thought that was a cool observation... we love the old pickup. Kev traded in his 1999 Chevy truck for this 2008 he has now. I think Kevin really tried to love that 1999, but he just could not. Me, neither. This new one, we both love. She's a keeper.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my Dad's 79th birthday. Happy Birthday, Daddy!!! 79. Crazy, ain't it? Where does the time go?....

Since my Dad was 30 years old when I was born, this means I am soon to be 49. Which is really just 50, as I think I've mentioned already... 49 is really 50. And I'm the "baby" of the family. Youngest of 5 kids.

Hey, Dad, 79 is really 80!

In spite of all the frustration and worry us 5 kids managed to put our parents through during the years, Dad and Mom are both pretty young-acting for their respective ages, and they're strong. You would've think some of our stunts would've aged them more considerably. Guess that's why we're all made pretty tough, coz our folks are tough. We were kids raised in the country with parents who expected us to work hard, do our share of the chores, think for ourselves, do the right thing and speak with good grammar.

We had all kinds of fun growing up. Summers were, of course, the best. When I was real young, we had horses and some ponies, too. I remember one pony that was a biter. I hated that one. Got me in the fleshy side part of my back once. Mean old thing. We had chickens out there near the horses, too. I remember being afraid of the rooster who would chase me, until I chased him back. I think my brother showed me how to do that.

I remember us kids making a tree house in the big White Oak tree out in the front field. I also remember that my brother accidentally buried the claw of the hammer into his head while we were making it.

I remember jumping off the back deck of the house. Our house was built into the side of a hill, so from the front of the house, coming up our long driveway, it looks like a single story typical ranch style home. But over the hill was the downstairs. Can't really call it a basement, so much of it is open. There was a deck off the kitchen/dining room on the top floor, running all along the back side of the house, kinda like a back porch with an 8' or 9' drop, so jumping off it was irresistible. Kids! Jump and roll.

After a while, Mom and Dad sold the horses, being sick of hearing us kids complain about having to take care of them and whose turn it was to do what with them. Then one day, our Mom bought us some motorcycles. She surprised my dad with a 250cc Kawasaki, I think it was, and then we got like a 175cc or 125cc and then a smaller 100cc or 90cc or something like that. I remember part of one summer where we had to clear some land, cutting and hauling brush, and we'd take turns riding the smaller motorcycle. The rest of us would have to clear brush while one of us got a turn on the bike. That was fun. The motorcycle part, while everyone else had to work.

We always grew a huge vegetable garden, and us kids had to work in it, hoeing and weeding in the summer. Usually hated it, as most kids do. We'd have to work for a while, then get to cool off and swim in the pond for a while, then maybe have to work some more. We got a ton of food out of that garden, and really, my Mom and Dad worked harder at that than us kids did, all combined. Didn't appreciate it much then. Sure do now. Loved the frozen corn we always had. And good potatoes. Getting potatoes out of the cellar in the winter. And Mom's canned tomatoes, and peaches, pickles... all that stuff. We sure gave our folks a lot of grief getting us to work in that garden. But we always ate a lot!

Once my sister, Kathy, and I were riding the motorcycles in one of the front forty fields, and I believe I was on the 90cc, and there was a small, very small, hill in the field. We'd jump it with the motorcycles. Get some air, too. Problem was one time was I took it in the wrong direction... the side with no slope. Stopped the bike cold and I went flying over the handlebars. Hurt like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks and tore my shirt off me. I remember the shirt was blue with white buttons, and I was really bummed coz I loved that shirt. Too torn and blood stained to fix. Kinda screwed up the bike a bit, too.

My Mom sewed a lot. Back then, you could buy fabric for a shirt for less money than a shirt. Not so nowadays. Back then, with 5 kids to clothe, my Mom did a LOT of sewing. She was awesome at it, and still is. All the many, many, many clothes she sewed for us. Jeans to look like the popular painter paints, with triple seams and everything. My Mom could sew anything you wanted. Anything.

When we had horses, at various times we had quite a few, like 6 or 10 or so. Once we had a new stallion. I believe his name was Buck. Or maybe Blaze. Been a lot of years now, so I'm not positive... Anyway, Kathy and I decided to take a ride, and we took out a couple of mares. As it turned out, mares in heat. Buck was very interested in following us, and he broke through the fence and chased us. The mares took off like bats outta hell. Kathy and I were pretty scared. Buck was gaining on us, so we decided the safest thing to do was to get off the mares. How do you get off a galloping mare over which you have no control? Jump. I seem to remember the unfortunate coincidence of my decision to jump being right near the big briar patch. How accurate all these memories are is surely up for debate. But I recall briar patch related pain. And then we had to catch those darn horses. But first Kathy and I had to walk back home, all dirty and dusty and covered with scratches and blood.

I also remember one day when my folks were gone and my brother decided to hollow out a big old tree like the kid in the book, "My Side of the Mountain." Only that kid did it to a live tree. Jimmy had picked out a dead tree. And he tried to hollow it out like the kid in the book... using fire. Caught the tree on fire. I remember we called Uncle Don over to help. Lucky on that one, no forest fire ensued. I remember Uncle Don saying something about, "You know what happens to kids who play with matches? They wet the bed." I never did get that. We did play with matches a lot. Can't believe we never did any major damage.

Jimmy did a lot of things. He was a fearless boy growing up. And tough. I remember one time Dad had the trailer hooked up to the tractor and somehow Jimmy got his hand caught and pinched on the hitch. He screamed in pain. Dad stopped the tractor and jumped down quick. But Jimmy took off running, holding his hand, and Dad couldn't catch him. Jim did a heck of a number on his hand.

We gave our parents lots of opportunities for trips to the ER. I remember stepping on a board with a rusty nail... went right through my left foot. I still have a big scar there. ER - tetanus shot.

Once Jimmy and I were riding a horse, both of us on one horse, no saddle. Us kids always rode bareback. We were never supposed to ride down the road, but we did (of course). And I ended up falling off the back of the horse, slid right down his rump. He was a big horse, too. Fell on my left arm. Jimmy told me to get back up on the horse, but I told him I couldn't. I had to walk home. Boy, was Jim mad at me, coz he knew we were gonna get it. And I walked home and had to tell my Mom and Dad I broke my arm. And of course, they found out we had the horse out on the road. Boy, we sure did get in trouble for that. ER - broken humerus. Clean break, though. Too high up for a cast, so I had a sling. Started 3rd grade wearing a sling to school. And that stunk.

Once, Kathy and I took Dad's 250cc Kawasaki for a ride. Kathy had to drive, I was too small to handle it. I was wearing an old Lee coat that was my Dad's. It was way too big for me, but I loved that jacket. It was white denim with big pockets. We were ready to go, but Kathy had to run inside for something or other. Can't remember exactly. But I had to hold the bike up, but it weighed more than me and it started to fall. Which wouldn't have been good, but worse, a handle or something caught the sleeve of my coat and flipped me a good one when the bike fell. ER - broken collar bone. Compound fracture that one. Had to wear some kind of brace. That sucked. Shoulder tells me when it rains now. Coz I'm OLD.

Us kids used to fight with each other a lot, too. Like all kids. Chase each other around the table, pulling chairs out behind us so it'd trip up the one chasing. And we would get some speed going, too. We were tough. We'd wrestle for fun. And like wrestling fun with kids sometimes does, it'd turn ugly. Coz someone would get mad, and then we'd wrestle in earnest! We were very tough country kids. But let any other kid pick on one of us, and watch out, coz you'd have all of us kids to deal with. We always stuck up for each other. Dad and Mom taught us that, too.

We didn't have any close neighbors, so each other was all we had most of the summer days. We had tons of fun, though, always. Swimming in the pond (now filled in and no longer in existence), swimming in the river, climbing trees, making forts in the woods, playing inside the lilac bush, catching fish in the river and frogs in the ditch, running around summer evenings catching fireflies. Playing all kinds of games in the yard, our own versions of tag, football, baseball, Red Rover, especially fun when friends and family kids were over. Spying on our parents and their friends or aunts and uncles when they were over, coz we could look through the windows after it got dark and they couldn't see us. We thought that was so fun!

We used to walk along the road and try to find those brown beer bottles to turn in at the little store, I think we'd get 5 cents for them. Which was a lot of cash to us kids. I don't think kids today would bend over and pick up a nickel in the mall parking lot. With a nickel, we could buy 10 pieces of candy at the little store. We'd walk to the store on rare occasions, and since the store was a mile down one road and then a half mile down M-20 and our folks would NOT let us walk along M-20, we would walk to the store through this old oil well trail through the woods. That trail is still there, but I think it's private property now. Heck, it may have been back then, too, but the owner was never there. That was fun going to the the little store and picking out penny candy, getting it in a little brown paper bag... Two-for-a-penny candy, really, rootbeer barrels, chewy nutty squirrels, hot cinnamon fireballs, caramels, jawbreakers, sweetarts, bit o'honey, tootsie rolls, or suckers, all different kinds. Sometimes we'd get orange sherbet push-ups. Or a pop. Or a fudgesickle. Great on a hot summer day.

Us kids were pretty typical kids.... trying to find clever ways to get out of a bath or brushing our teeth. Or trying to get out of work. I somehow have the reputation of always having to "go to the bathroom" when it was time to clear the dinner table. I have no recollection of those events whatsoever.

Also, the usual fighting in the back seat of the car until we got yelled at. Breaking stuff and blaming it on each other. Hitting, getting caught, "but she/he started it!" Good times.

Actually, the thing I remember most about riding in the car as a family is that we would sing. All of us. Dad, too. I learned a lot of old songs that way. Like "Your Cheatin' Heart" (Hank Williams) and "(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!" (Teresa Brewer, baby!) and "It Comes and Goes" (Eddie Arnold) and so many more. We'd also sing a lot of the good old hymns, and also some of the "new" songs, like "Proud Mary" and "Burning Bridges"... And yodeling!! My Mom can really yodel! Not that Swiss crap, I'm talking hillbilly yodeling. I loved that as a kid, listening to my Mom yodel in the car. I love hearing her yodel now! I yodel like my Mom, though not nearly as well (coz no one can yodel like my Mom!), and my kids groan at me. Eh.

We'd sing at home, too. My Mom can play the piano, she's awesome. Mom never had lessons, she played "by ear," and Dad would ask her to play a song, and Mom would play it and we'd sing.

Breakfasts. Feeding a family of 7 ain't no small thing. We had hot cereals for breakfast every morning before school, and often on weekends, too. Oatmeal, Malt-O-Meal, Ralston, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat... We all had to sit down together for breakfasts and for dinners. And dinners. Meat and potatoes. My Mom could fry chicken... yum. Meatloaf and baked beans on Sundays, come home from church starving and the house would smell sooooo good. Roast beef and gravy. My Mom's gravy was the best. Hamburger and beans, with bread and butter. Yummy. And home-baked cookies every weekend for school lunches. And Mom's jello cream cheese whipped cream lovely bowls of heaven. Chocolate cookie sheet cakes. Mmm... New potatoes out of the garden. Corn on the cob, dripping with butter. Enough for everyone to have too many pieces! We ate like kings. And we went through gallon after gallon of milk every week. I remember Dad would buy it 4 gallons at a time, using one of those plastic carrying things for milk.

Takes a lot of food to feed that many people. We were never supposed to just go into the kitchen and open the fridge and help ourselves to food. All the food in the house was for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Not for snacking. Though, of course, us kids would snack. I remember sneaking a big spoonful of peanut butter and eating it while I would read a book.

And books! Trips to the library all the time. Checking out tons of books. And then Janet's boyfriend, Bob's (now husband) mom worked at Kresge's, and when the paperbacks were discontinued, the store was supposed to toss them. (Did any store ever really do that???) So she would give us grocery sacks (the brown paper ones, coz there were no plastic grocery bags back then) full of Harlequin romance novels and other paperbacks, all with the covers torn off. We devoured those books. Well, not Jimmy.

Sunday evenings watching the Wonderful World of Disney TV show, with Tinkerbell and her little sparkling wand. And Mutal of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Playing the games in the front of the first huge book of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, a 2-volume dictionary, each volume weighing about 50 pounds!

All in all, the 5 of us kids were basically good kids, but we also gave my Mom and Dad plenty of unpleasant and worrisome moments. And here we all are, all grown and getting old, and we're all still close. Still totally a part of each other's lives. With Mom and Dad at the center of it all. They raised us right.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The mighty oak falls

Out back near the dogs' run and the pole barn is one large oak that was part of a twin. One of the twins fell a couple of years ago, causing no damage. Though, years ago, back in 1991 when our house was in construction, we had a big wind storm that summer, and a huge branch of that tree fell off... and on its way to the ground, the branch swept down the side/corner of our pole barn. Did some major damage to the pole barn. And that was just a branch of the tree! A branch the size of a small tree.

The remaining, still-standing twin has become less stable. This is always the case when a pair of twin oaks loses one. This is the third set of huge oak twins where one came down in a storm and Kev has had to take the other one down. All 3 have been near our house, so also near our outbuildings and everything, too. Felling a tree that big is a risky venture, and you gotta know what you're doing. Thankfully, Kev has tons of experience cutting down trees, and he was taught by the master... my Dad. Dad and Kev have felled many a huge tree together.

So this tree has been leaning toward a couple of pine trees we have over there, pines we would like to keep... Kev decided yesterday was the day to take that tree down before it came down on our pines, or worse. We have very few pine trees on our property, and those we have are because we've planted them ourselves.

The wind yesterday was quite strong and blowing to the west, which would be helpful in taking this oak down in the right direction. My job was to keep the 3 dogs out of the way. Betty was easy, she just laid down, poor old girl...

Barney, now totally blind, was a bit more of a challenge. He had found an old tennis ball and was walking around with it possessively in his mouth. I got him to lay down, but he always just starts rolling around on the grass, coz it feels so goooooooood...

Reilly minded me and sat still. He also kept an eye on Betty and Barney, and when Barney would wander, Reilly desperately wanted to herd him back to me, but I made Reilly stay put...

This is Kev beginning to work on the tree. Big tree, huh...

The other big, single oak is staying... at least for now. It's standing tall and straight, well, mostly straight... so far, so good. Though, when a single oak has grown up so near other trees that have come down, it affects that tree. That oak has been used to the other 2 big trees all its life. With those twins gone, the single tree will have to adjust, such as how the wind and sun change against it, the roots at the bottom. That single tree should be fine, but through the years ahead, the twins being gone may adversely affect its life expectancy.

Kev starts on the tree by making a cut on the side he wants the tree to fall toward, first one cut...

Then another cut...

Cutting a wedge out of the tree, making the weak spot to convince the tree to fall that way, hopefully avoiding the nearby pine trees as much as possible...

Here's the video I took of the tree falling. Not very good videography skills; I'm not used to Joycie's little Sony at all yet. There is also a lot of wind noise in the video... it was a windy day! And there's a loud shout by me when I screamed for Barney because I thought Kev was telling me he was in danger. Scared the crap outta me! Poor old blind Barney.

Kev got the tree down keeping the pine tree intact... whoo hoo, Kev! That's my man!!!

It was pretty exciting. Scary, too. Big tree. Kev is 6' tall, so this photo gives you an idea of how much work he has ahead of him getting the tree cut, split and stacked and the stumps taken care of...

Of course, the first thing Barney did was find one of the wedges Kev used and had it in his mouth, which made Reilly instantly want it.

Kev got Barney to drop the little wedge and tried to get him to carry around the big wedge... eh, made us laugh anyway!... poor old blind Barney, guess we shouldn't be making fun of him...

Barney is such a huge dog, though. Guess we thought that wedge was more his style. Reilly only cared that it gave him the opportunity to get what Barney had...

I also took a sweet photo of N.C. also... can't you just feel that stretch?

And then later, Joycie and Mike got home, with groceries! Joycie started cooking right away. She cooked for about an hour, and the house smelled so wonderful. Usually Mike helps her cook because they like to do that together, but he had homework to work on. Joyce made taco beef, homemade tortillas, fried up some homemade tortilla chips and made a big bowl of guacamole. Oh. My. Heck! That was some good Mexican food. Izzy, Mike's momma, has done a great job teaching our Joycie how to cook the good stuff! It was so delicious.

You can see our beautiful girl had been slaving over the hot stove... looks at those pretty red cheeks! The four of us had a nice dinner together. Sammy wasn't home; he was at a friend's house. As usual... our little social butterfly, that boy.

And now, just for kicks, here's a crazy photo I made of our crazy old, blind Barney...

Freaky, eh.