Thursday, September 30, 2010


Mike and Joyce have enjoyed riding together on Mike's Harley, but Joyce decided early in June that she would rather be driving her own bike. I can totally see Joyce making that decision... she does like to be in control, and also when you're riding behind a person on a motorcycle, you really don't get to see much of what's in front of you, which isn't much fun.

So mid-June, Joyce paid not very much money for a 1982 Honda 450, a bike older than she is...

She was initially pretty happy with it (though doesn't Kev look the opposite in that 2nd photo?! yes, we worry). But there were problems with the carburetor and some other things, primarily a result of the bike having sat for so long without being started or driven.

So she and Mike started looking again. At the shop where they bought Mike's Harley, the dealer has just gotten in a used 2005 Yamaha. It was owned by an older couple, and it was a bike that had been very well maintained. So Joyce traded her old Honda in on this pretty Yamaha...

This bike is quite bigger than that old Honda, so Joyce took it slow learning to drive it and handle it. I'm happy about one thing... the previous owner outfitted the bike with extra lights on both the front and the back. The dealership where Joyce bought it put in an extra battery to handle the lights. You should definitely see this bike coming down the road!

The icing on the cake was the passenger footpads the owner had installed on the bike for his wife, whose name is also Joyce...

I had to admit that was a pretty awesome touch. I've struggled with all this motorcycle stuff, of course, and I worry like crazy. But Mike and Joyce are young and smart, and they love a ride on their motorcycles. I'm happy for them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's not a contest except it's totally a contest

Kev usually goes to the "Whitetails Unlimited" dinners with family members and friends. This time around he took Sammy with him.

They all don't go for the dinner. The event is held at a hall and the food is ok, but there is also a silent auction, a live auction and then the best part, the raffles.

My brother-in-law, Bob, the one who usually organizes everyone attending one of these events, or a similar "Ducks Unlimited" dinner, is really freakin' lucky at winning stuff at these dinners. He usually goes home with some kind of rifle, plus a bunch of other stuff.

I know Kev has spent a hundred bucks on raffle tickets at one dinner... and got squat.

But the stuff offered on the auctions is pretty nice. We have several beautiful wildlife-related framed prints on our walls by Kev attending these dinners (and drinking a little too much while he's there, thus the bidding). I do like all the prints very much, but I don't want any more of them... our walls are filled up enough with them right now.

Joyce and I were home together fixing dinner while the boys were out last night, and I told Joycie that if her dad came home with another print, I'd have to skin him alive. Joyce texted Sammy later and relayed my message, which thankfully was in time to stop Kev's bidding on a beautiful Charles Denault print. Not that I wouldn't totally enjoy another Denault print, but we have one (maybe two?) already.

Sammy had a plan for his dad's cash anyway. On the silent auction there was a over-sized folding lawn chair, and the minimum bid was $60. Kev made Sam squirm until the last minute, and then let Sam bid on it. Sam got it. It is the largest lawn chair I've ever seen. Sam set it up in the living room, and we had a lot of laughs over it. Sam kept saying, "I'm so happy." Kev sat in it and was swinging his feet, and Wiley didn't know what to make of that. It came with a canvas case with straps so you can carry it like a backpack, like the usual folding lawn chairs, and Sam had to duck down to get the thing inside through the front door... it sticks up past his head about 3 feet. Crazy big thing!

Then Sam took it up into his bedroom. He told me this morning that the chair feels bigger up there, because his bedroom has a normal ceiling height. Sam said, "It's my redneck throne."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sam's Sophomore Homecoming Dance

Sam took his friend, Jacy, to the Homecoming this year. We took photos at Jacy's house, then back at our house, then we joined a large group of Sam's friends at one of the girl's grandparents' home.

At Jacy's house:

At our house:

The grandparents' home was a lovely place to take photos... beautiful, large home and grounds. The skies were a bit gray, and it was a bit cool out, but we still got some great photos.

This is my favorite photo of Sam and Jacy - I took it while sitting in the front seat of the car by just holding my camera upside-down and taking a bunch of pics... this one is cute.

After all the photo ops, Sam and Jacy met some more friends at B-Dubs and had dinner, then they all headed to the dance at the high school. The dance was held in the school cafeteria, and since Sam's on Student Council again this year, he got to get up early and help decorate for the dance. After the dance was over at 11pm, Sam went to an after-party at his friend Zack's house, then overnight at Nate's. Sam got home around noon on Sunday, and took a nice, long nap in the afternoon! He and Jacy both had fun.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Not what I had in mind...

Trying to take a photo of Wiley and me while in the car (no, not while driving!). He doesn't take commands very well. Like at all...




That was me giving up! (while wiping my lips off...)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Counting my blessings... with haunting sorrow...

On this morning's drive, Sam and I came across a bad accident that had just happened. Later, after dropping Sam off at the high school, I called my BFF, Sandy. I try to talk with Sandy in the mornings as many days as we can connect. Some days we miss, but often we are both driving into work at the same time so we have a chance to talk. Yes, we are both driving and talking on our cell phones. But it is not illegal to do so in Michigan or Texas, and both of us are on an easy, mostly clear & straight route and we are very cautious. On more than one occasion, one of us has had to stop the conversation just to pay attention to traffic or whatever. In a word, we are both careful.

This morning, heading East, I was driving right into the sunrise. I told Sandy about the sun, because it was brighter than usual. Sandy was driving in the dark since it's an hour earlier there in Texas. I said, "I might as well be in the dark, with this sunshine, it's like I'm driving blind."

And I was, with the sun so bright on my windshield, which wasn't very clean, I was unable to see most of what was in front of me. I basically slowed down and followed the car in front of me. I think we were all doing that coz I was part of a long line of slower-than-usual cars. When I got into town, it was kinda hairy at the traffic lights. I seriously could not tell if it was green or not.

Then I talked with my sister just a bit ago. The accident that Sam and I saw was horrible. It was between a school bus (one from our district) and a red Jeep Cherokee. The fronts of both the bus and the Jeep were smashed. Not just smashed... gone. When Sam and I approached, there were a lot of vehicles stopped at the accident site, and traffic was down to one lane in each direction. The bus was half-way into the East-bound far lane facing West, and the Jeep was half-way into the West-bound far lane facing East. Since the bus was on Sam's side, he was checking it out. There was a person standing at the entrance, but the door and entrance was mangled. Sam thought there were kids on the bus, but he couldn't tell for sure because the sun was shining on the bus windows. I found out from my sister there were no kids, only the driver and another adult. Thank God.

I had my window down; I put it down because I was too warm in the bright sunshine. We got about level with the smashed Jeep, and I had to stop because an ambulance was approaching fast, all vehicles were stopped. I could hear the scene before I looked over... Laying face-down in the dirt on the edge of the road was a man, about age 35 I think. He was mostly covered with a white blanket, but not his head. Kneeling next to him was a woman, and she was sobbing and screaming and wailing, she was rocking back and forth kind of, and touching his head. I can't stop thinking about what I saw, and I cannot get that sound of her agony out of my head. I'm not sure I ever will.

My sister told me that she heard the bus driver and the adult passenger were taken to the hospital but were both ok. Kathy works in the school district, so she was able to find that out. No one knows anything yet about the man driving the Jeep, though. Kathy heard that the Jeep pulled out directly in front of the bus and they hit head-on. Everyone seems to believe the man driving the Jeep likely didn't see the bus because of the bright sunshine. A truck had pulled out just before him, and people seem to think he probably just followed the truck. Like what I did this morning at the traffic lights... How many of us have done something exactly like that...

I am still amazed at how that school bus smashed that Jeep like it was an empty beer can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The big yawn

Let me tell you about my August. It sucked. I was sick from one thing or another through the entire month. Bronchitis, viral, which went into pneumonia, then sinus and ear infections, then a very bad reaction to Bactrim that I was prescribed for those infections. And then vertigo as a result, probably of both the ear infections and the Bactrim reaction. Oh, and 3 doctor appointments and a total of 7 different prescriptions. Oh yes, yes indeed...

I also missed work for most of August, which is horrible. Too busy to miss that much time. So now I'm backlogged at work, and also at home... coz I got nothing done there either.

And my head felt terrible, and flattened, from laying down so much. And I am still not back up-to-speed with stamina. (I could use a nap right now, for example.)

But that old "every cloud has a silver lining" has come into play. 'Bout damn time, too.

August ended with my going to work on Monday, the 23rd. Wore me out, so I was in bed before 7:30pm. Woke up at 4am, and on my way back to bed from the bathroom (coz anyone with a lick of sense and a 50-year-old bladder knows darn well why I woke up at 4am) I sneezed hard. And my world began to wobble.

I've had vertigo since the end of June 2008. It is awful to have a vertigo attack... thankfully in all this time, I've only had 1 vertigo attack out in public, with the rest occurring while at home. It ain't pretty, so home is best. There is usually vomit involved. And moaning. And of course with me, also much cussing. (Sorry, Mom!)

So I made my way back to the bathroom, and I took an Anti-Vert tablet and a Valium. Then I slowly made my way back to bed where I hung onto the edge of my inner balance for roughly 4 hours. Usually, an Anti-Vert and a Valium will zonk me out within 20 or 30 minutes, but not that morning. Finally though, I fell asleep, and I slept hard for several more hours.

When I woke, I did not feel any vertigo symptoms. My right ear still hurt, though. And you know how you feel like you just can't move when you sleep that hard? Like life is in slo-mo?... That's how I felt. Got up and around, started to feel better, and I yawned. I mean I really yawned. A great big yawn. And I heard a CRACK! deep inside my right ear.

And my life changed.

I hadn't realized how much the vertigo has affected me the past two years... how much a feeling of constant wobbling, of peripheral dizziness, of almost-nauseated was part of my every-day existence. Getting vertigo was like a giant slap in the face, but living with it and adapting to it was a slow enough progression that I failed to comprehend how much it had changed me.

And now it seems the big yawn cured me. No more vertigo. As much as August sucked, it was worth it. I'd opt to go through 2 Augusts like that to be done with that pesky vertigo. So worth it.

And that there is my silver lining. Kinda matches my hair color.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One light bulb at a time...

My husband, Kevin, who is a United Steelworkers Union member, forwarded onto me an email about buying American-made products. For us, it hits home... so I wanted to pass this along to everyone I can, especially since I've had this experience myself at Wal-Mart recently. I do make an effort to buy American-made products as often as I possibly can, and you can save money by doing so. The packaging may not look as pretty and you probably won't see a commercial on TV. Big whoop huh.

Where I work (which is not Union), half of our department was fired in 2008 and the jobs went over to Mumbai, India. I am very fortunate to still have my job. Today's employment situation in Michigan, in my hometown, is a sad, sad story.

Here is the text of that very interesting email, capital letters and exclamation points as originally received...

"Whenever and wherever it is possible, LET'S BUY AMERICAN MADE AND GET OUR PEOPLE BACK TO WORK!


... Buy American Made

This works when the dollar is weak and the people are afraid for their jobs.

... Buy USA

A physics teacher in high school once told his students, “While one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train at all, a billion of them would!”

With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American.

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowe's the other day, and just for the heck of it, I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China . (My swimming pool is not yet closed for the winter!!!)

The next day I was in Ace Hardware and just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in the USA.

Start looking.

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job.

My son likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now. I will not buy it any more.

My favorite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest.

You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets.

I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand that I normally buy, was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value". I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO !!! and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA, by a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.

So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets... yep, you guessed it, Bounce costs more money and is made in China. The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA ! I did laundry yesterday, and the dryer sheets performed just like the
Bounce Free I have been using for years... and at almost half the price!

Lay's stacked potato chips in a can is made in Mexico. Good old Pringles made in USA.

My challenge to you...
Start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things, and see what you can find that is made in the USA. The job you save may be your own or your neighbor’s.

If you accept the challenge, please pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time!

Stop buying from overseas companies!

(We should have awakened a decade ago.)

Let's get with the program. Help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the USA."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

He ain't heavy

One day in August I had to drive Sammy over to the high school for football practice. We live about 20 or 25 minutes from the high school, and there are about 4 different routes we can take to get there. One route goes down a super busy, straight 2-lane "highway" called Meridian Road. Traffic on that road can sometimes be crazy, with lots of drivers well exceeding the 55 MPH speed limit. Also, since it's just 2 lanes, many drivers pass when they really should not do so. Been quite a few wrecks on that road, including fatalities. When Sam starts driving himself (soon, thank God!), he is already aware that he's not allowed to take Meridian Road.

From Meridian, we take a left turn onto Gordonville Road. Gordonville includes a bridge that crosses the Pine River and then the road follows the river. That curvy stretch is also a bit dangerous to drive since many drivers tend to go too fast for the road, which has very short sight distance ahead due to all the bends in the road. Here's a view of it thanks to Google Earth:

(Don't you just love Google Earth satellite views?!)
So of course, I love to take that route. Mostly because the curvy stretch of Gordonville along the river is a beautiful piece of road. I also enjoy seeing the changes in the river during the months. In August, the river is usually at its lowest point, showing all the rocks and dead trees. This August, because of the summer we've had with lots of humidity and good bit of rain, the river had a lot of plant life in it and next to it. Grapevines have gone completely crazy this year!

On this day after dropping Sam off, I took the Gordonville way back home. As usual, I had my camera with me. We had taken Gordonville to the high school, and I thought I had seen something interesting in the river, so I wanted to take another look. I got my camera ready, and actually stopped at one spot and managed to take 5 photos before I chickened out and drove on. Turned out to be a good idea because right after I began driving again, a little car came around the bend fast and got very close to my car very quickly.

None of my photos were exceptionally in focus. I didn't discover exactly what I was photographing until I could look at the pics on my camera when I got home... Here is the best of my risky photographing that morning:

Pretty cool, huh? I knew it was a turtle on the rock, and I've seen turtles on that big rock before, but I didn't know it was a double-decker until I saw it on my camera.

And also something I think is kind of cool is that I can see that rock in the Google Earth shot...

I have, however, learned my lesson... not gonna stop along that stretch of road to take photos ever again. When that little car came up behind me, it scared the crap outta me! Not really worth a rear-end collision. Imagine that conversation... "yes, officer, I know I shouldn't have been stopped there in my car, but I wanted to TAKE A PHOTO OF A TURTLE..." Oy.