Monday, December 31, 2007

Peace, Love, Good Health and Happiness

Wishing all of my blogging family and friends a Happy New Year filled with peace, love, good health and happiness. If you are going to be on the roads tonight and your celebration will include alcohol, please drink responsibly and have a designated driver.
As the new year approaches I am finding myself reflecting on this past year. It was a rough one for my daughter Tersie and her children. It was during the holidays last year that her marriage of 14 years ended. It could have blown us all away, because we had spent our family Christmas together and there was no clue what-so-ever that before the New Year was rung in ex-son-in-law would be turning so many lives upside down with his revelation of "no longer being happy". Needless to say that made this year's celebration difficult to deal with and nearly heart breaking for Tersie. Those firsts will get you every time. She has done so great all year with the firsts that she had to face. I have been able to watch my daughter transform into the beautiful person that she is with each new obstacle she has had to face as a single parent. She has become independent and strong. Perhaps there is truth to the old adage 'If it doesn't kill you, it will only make you stronger'. It has been like watching a beautiful butterfly emerge from a cocoon. Hopefully with this holiday almost behind her as their first single parent family holiday, she will be able to completely rid herself of that cocoon.
Divorced families do make for some difficult planning when it comes to Christmas and New Years celebrations, not to mention birthdays. With Chris' ex-wife (Oop's mother) we have had many family get togethers either completely destroyed or turned upside down, just because she likes the chaos. This year at Christmas was no different. (Jo note: You would think we would all be used to it by now and come to expect it. Some how, for some unexplained reason, we let our defences down and she catches us off guard every time.)
Tonight JD and I will spend a quiet New Years Eve here on the mountain with T-Bear and ring in the New Year just the three of us. Tomorrow being Britt's B'Day, she and her mother will go birthday shopping while T-Bear and I bake her B'Day cake and decorate it. In the evening we will gather at Chris and Melody's to celebrate the New Year with all of the Good Luck Food and celebrate Britt's 15th year of life. All the 'Yankee' children and grandchildren will be present and accounted for. (Jo note: Just one more reason to celebrate.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year.... New Beginnings

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Christmas.........

I have to think that the single greatest thing about this time of year is the promise and the hope that comes with it. So 2007 wasn't what you had hoped for due to many reasons and not necessarily as an end result of something you did. (Jo note: I find it comforting to know that I am not the direct cause for all of the screw ups in my life. Sometimes they are actually brought on by outside forces.)

New Years is just a few days ahead of us. A New Year that can bring new beginnings. A chance to step back and take a long look at last year to see if we can figure out what went wrong and what went right and the whys of it all. A fresh chance to regroup and start again, one step at a time. Actually these things can be done at any time during the year, but it just seems right to save it for the New Year.

As for the infamous new years resolutions..... I have none. I quit doing those a long time ago. What a way to start a new year. I would set new goals for myself, try to accomplish what I had set out to do for a few days or a few weeks and fall way short of my goals. I finally realized that there probably is no better way to start the new year on a downhill note than with a new years resolution. Why tell myself I am going to loose 30 plus pounds this year and then get depressed and eat my weight in comfort food! Why not just weigh myself and watch what I am eating on a day to day basis instead of starting the year off with pressure. (Jo note: Didn't we just go through the stress and pressure of Christmas and all of that shopping, baking, entertaining and now have 'The Tax Man' to stress over for a few months? Who needs more pressure?)

We still have Britt's birthday coming up on New Years Day. After that, I plan on watching the OSU ~vs~ LSU game on TV. (Jo note: I am a Buckeye and JD is from Louisiana so it should be an exciting game. I will probably end up cheering for both teams.) I have knitting and crocheting to do. And I will gradually get everything gathered up for taxes.

We wish you a good start to the New Year with lots of wonderful surprises in store for you as the year progresses.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Chistmas To All

................And To All A Good Night!
Seth found the perfect way to end a perfect day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Brown Bag Christmas

From time to time I receive an e-mail that gives me food for thought or brings tears to my eyes. I opened my inbox to find that special e-mail this morning. I know this has probably been making the rounds, but I think it deserves a special place on my blog because it is something we can all learn from...... Enjoy!


When I asked our newlywed Sunday School class to share a favorite Christmas story, Carrie Fuller said, "Our family has one we call the 'brown bag Christmas.'" When she finished, I had to hear more. Two days later, I called a member of her family for more details.

It was the early 1930s during the Dust Bowl days of Kansas, in the heart of the Depression. The Canaday family---Mom, Dad, 7 children---were having a tough time existing, so there would be no luxuries at Christmas that year. Mom told the children to go outside and find a Christmas tree and decorate it. After a lengthy search, they returned with a dead branch, the only thing they had been able to find. They stood it up in a bucket of sand and decorated it with pieces of paper tied with string. Little Judy, almost four, did not know how a Christmas tree was supposed to look, but somehow she knew it was not like that!

As Christmas approached, the Canaday children, like children everywhere, pestered Mom and Dad about what presents they might get under their "tree." Dad pointed out that the pantry was bare, that they did not have enough to live on, and there certainly would be no money for gifts. But Mom was a woman of faith and told her children, "Say your prayers. Ask God to send us what He wants us to have." Dad said, "Now, Mother, don't be getting the children's hopes up. You're just setting them up for a disappointment." Mom said, "Pray, children. Tell Jesus." And pray they did.

On Christmas Eve, the children watched out the window for visitors, but no one came. "Blow out the lamp and go to bed", Dad said. "Nobody is going to come. No one even knows we're out here." The children turned out the lamp and got in bed, but they were too excited to sleep. Was this not Christmas? Had they not asked God to send them the presents He wanted them to have? Did Mom not say God answers prayer?

Late that night, when one of the children spotted headlights coming down the dirt road, everyone jumped out of bed and ran to the window. The commotion woke up Mom and Dad. "Don't get excited, children," Dad said. "They're probably not coming here. It's just someone who got lost." The children kept hoping and the car kept coming. Then, Dad lit a lamp. They all wanted to rush to the door at the same time, but Mr. Canaday said, "Stay back. I'll go."

Someone got out of the car and called, "I was wondering if someone here can help me unload these bags." The children dashed out the door to lend a hand. Mom said to her youngest, "Stay here, Judy, and help Mom open the bags and put up the gifts."A deacon from the church in town had gone to bed that Christmas Eve, and lay there tossing and turning, unable to get the Canaday family off his mind.

Later, he said, "I didn't know what kind of shape you folks were in, but I knew you had all those kids." He had gotten up and dressed and went around town, rousing people from their sleep to ask for a contribution for the Canaday family. He filled his car with bags of groceries, canned goods, toys, and clothing. Little Judy got a rag doll which remained her favorite for years.With so much food, Dad wanted to have a Christmas feast, to spread it all out and eat as they had never eaten before. Mom, ever the caretaker, said, "No, we need to make this last." And it did last, for weeks.

The next Sunday, Mrs. Canaday stood in church and told what the members---and one deacon in particular---had done for her family. There was not a dry eye in the house.Years later, the oldest sister Eva wrote up this story about her family for a school project. Eva said, "We were so thrilled by all the wonderful things in the bags, for a while we lost sight of the most special gift. The best gift that Christmas was not in brown bags at all. It was Mom's faith, as she taught her children to bring their needs to Jesus and trust Him to meet them. And a Dad's love that wanted only to protect his children from hurt and disappointment."

When Carrie finished telling her story, she added, "Little Judy is my wonderful grandmother."

Today, Judy Canaday Dryden lives in Sanger, Texas. As she relived this event from seventy years ago over the phone, one could hear the tear in her voice and feel her pride in being the recipient of such a precious heritage from her mother and father.

At Christmas, we celebrate praying mothers and caring fathers and believing children. We give thanks for sensitive deacons and generous friends and sleepless nights. And we praise God for the hard times that teach unforgettable lessons, stories of faithfulness that get told and retold through the years inspiring each new generation to place their faith in a loving Savior.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seth Day.......Revisited

We're All About Exercise

Play Time

Bonding With Grandpa
I may have mentioned it before, but Friday of each week is Seth Day for us. It is one of those special times when we get to spend quality time with the youngest of the grandchildren. That smile on Seth's face is there pretty much all of the time. Occasionally you may catch him without it, but usually that is when something has really captured his attention and he is pondering the great secrets of that object.
I look for him to be pulling up to and walking around things before too much longer. His legs are very muscular and when he is in his exersaucer he is not only standing on his own, but jumping as well. He just needs to get the balancing act down a little better.
I can't think of a day better spent, than one spent with the grandchildren. I just wish that all of our little ones were close enough that we could just hop into the car and go see them every day. The 18 hour drive and the price of gas sort of limits us on that.
While spending time with Seth yesterday I received a follow up call on something I had inquired about last week. I had seen an advertisement for a company that provides testing supplies for diabetics. They were offering information packets, coupons for diabetic supplies, and a diabetic recipe book. I went online and requested the packet leaving my information so they could contact me. It wasn't the company that you see advertising all of the time on TV, but one that I was not familiar with. I am here to tell you that contacting these people was the smartest move I have made in a long long time. The pills that I take for my diabetes are the only medication that I can get in generic form as a $4.00 prescription at a local pharmacy. Everything else; Byeta, Lantus, even my test strips have to be sent off to the Prescription Insurance Company to be filled at $50.00 a pop. That is until the first of the year, when the cost of our insurance is going up, as well as the cost of having the Rx filled, which will be $65.00 then (and the lancets are not covered at all). My Endocrinologist wants me to test four times each day. Well it just doesn't happen. Living on a fixed income makes a person stop and think, how can I deal with this without going bankrupt paying for Rx refills. The lady that I talked to yesterday (Vickie) asked about my testing. I told her that I don't test four times a day because of the expense and that I also use an old meter that I had because the test strips were $50.00 as opposed to $65.00 for the newer meter that I have. Instead, I test when I feel funky. I know that doing this does not help keep the diabetes under control, but you do what you have to do. She took some information about our Rx insurance carrier and our health care insurance carrier and said she was going to do some checking to see if she couldn't get those testing supplies for me at a cheaper price. In less than 30 minutes Vickie was calling me back with 'Merry Christmas' greetings and saying that our insurance company is going to take care of those testing supplies through Vickie's company at the cost of $4.95 for a three months supply of test strips. But Wait!!! That's Not All!!!
They will also cover the cost of my lancets! ..............But Wait!!! That's Not All!!! Vickie is going to send me a new meter at no cost to me that will give me more accurate readings than the old one more than likely has. I thought I had saved the information for this web site on the computer, but I can't locate it. When I receive my care package from Vickie, I will be sure to post the information for anyone else that may need this type of assistance. Testing supplies at $4.95 ~vs~ $65.00 is a no brainer for me.
Jo's note: Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus! (Sometimes he calls himself Vickie though)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa Biker

It wasn't so many years ago that the very word 'BIKER' brought visions of the Hells Angels sort to mind. These visions making you want to run and lock up your daughters and hide some place yourself. Things have changed a lot over the past 30 or 40 years.
The biker of today comes from many walks of life. They are professionals, the same as they are good old boys that punch a time clock every day. Riding in the back is no longer where you are likely to find women these days. There are probably as many women on the road steering those bikes as men. Don't be surprised to see senior citizens amongst the roles of today's bikers either.
If not for the effort of a lot of Bikers and their clubs around the country many children would do without Christmas every year. They get out there on their bikes and do Santa Runs, Toy Runs, and Christmas Runs to bring in the toys for the children that otherwise would not receive anything for Christmas. God bless every one of the bikers that give so freely of themselves.
Our Texas younguns, Greg and Tammi, as well as Tammi's mama, Sandra are all bikers. This past summer Greg and Sandra rode their bikes from Texas to Ohio for a little visit. I was impressed with what good time they made. The three of them are medical professionals and would you believe there's not a single beard between them. This post is for all of you.
Twas the night before Christmas, And not until Spring
Would a motor be running, not even a Wing.
The bikes are all sleeping, they're covered and warm,
Batteries are tended, nylon covers their form.
My Bros were all nestled down snug in their beds,
While visions of new chrome danced in their heads.
And I in my do-rag, bike jacket and boots
Out shoveling snow, and dreaming of scoots.

Then from the horizon there came such a clatter
My shovel I dropped, what could be the matter?
Away up the hill, I slogged through the snow
Looked up at the sky; where'd all that noise go?

Then a throb from the heavens, like straight pipes so hearty
Gave Summers' good thoughts, a loud bikers' party.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a Hog Ultra Classic, Red trailer in rear!

With a little old rider, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than a V-Rod his Ultra came on,
And he whistled, and shouted, and sang out this song;

"Now, Springer! Now, Dyna! On Ultra and Softail!
Now Vulcan! Now Injun! On Vict'ry and Triumph!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now RIDE away! RIDE away! RIDE away all!"

As small bikes that from the semis do fly,
When they meet with the air blast, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top that Ultra it flew
With a trailer of goodies, and ole' St. Nick too

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The rumble and thunder of pipes that gave proof.
I ran in the house, boots thumping around,
And in came St. Nick all bearded and round

Dressed all in black leather, from do-rag to boot
His chaps were all tarnished with road grime and soot;
A T-bag of goodies he'd flung on his back
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack

His shades -- how they twinkled! his do-rag how scary!
With chains intertwined, through skulls that were cherry!
His droll little mouth had done many a row,
So the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
The smoke had a strange smell; it gave him relief.
He had a broad face and a large fat beer belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly

He was tattooed and plump, a right jolly old rider,
So I offered a cold brew, thought what could be righter?
A wink of his eye as he downed that cold beer,
Gave me to know I had nothing to fear

He spoke not a word, but went straight to my ride
And fixed it with Chrome, Horsepower and Pride
And giving the peace sign with bikers' good cheer
Strode off to his Ultra rumbling near

He sprang on the saddle, his gloves on the bars
A wheelie he threw; then off towards the stars
I heard him exclaim, as my chest swelled with pride
A Jo note: I couldn't find credit for this poem anywhere. If anyone knows who the author is please leave that information in the comments so I can give credit. TY

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Away In A Manger....

Our Christian Academy's Preschool classes presented their 2007 Christmas Program to a packed house last night.

How proud we are of Riley. He was chosen for the role of Joseph. We are especially proud of him for how very still he sat through out the play. Not an easy task for any 4 year old.

Angels gathered on high to sing praises.....

Shepherds came from near and far...

As did Kings bringing Presents for the Baby Jesus....

All sorts of critters gathered around the Holy Family..........

.............And we had Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus!

You did a Great Job children.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On The Go Monday

Yesterday was a pretty busy day for us, as J.D. restocked the firewood by the hearths (we have two) and on the porch, I was working on a new project that I started. While searching the Internet for crochet patterns, I came across more than a couple of patterns for what is called a 'Prayer Shawl'. It caught my interest and so I researched it a little more. It is a shawl that is given as a gift to someone that is in need of prayers. The object is to say prayers for that person or for a special need while crocheting it. I have finished one shawl and am nearly finished with a second one. They work up fairly quick and only takes a few skeins of yarn, so they are very inexpensive. The first one I will give to a special person tonight or I will at least give it to someone that will see to it that she gets it. I don't attend church on a regular basis. Most of my worship happens in the early morning hours as I watch God paint a beautiful sunrise in the eastern sky. Also when his wonderful critters come to visit and stop to eat a little of something growing in the yard. My ministering to others is usually through words on the computer, a hug for family or friends, and through prayer requests.
This prayer shawl stirred something inside of me that I felt the need to respond to. It could be a way of ministering to others in a way that I can identify with. When my father died I could not get warm. I felt a coldness that went all the way to my bones. This lasted from the moment I was told of his death for at least a week after. It wasn't until I prayed, that relief came. As I was on my knees asking for God's help in seeing me through this loss and helping my mother and children to deal with my father's death, that I felt His healing touch. I asked Him to please take the cold away. Almost immediately I felt warmth wash over me. It was like sunlight through a windshield on a cold winter day. I decided that I want to do this so I can help bring warmth to someone in need by actually wrapping them in a shawl made by me that has my prayers for them woven in with the yarn.
So that is what I am up to right now. Yesterday our Britt was home sick from school. Tersie's car was under the weather and had to go to the "feel better vehicle clinic". T-Bear needed a way home from school. So we left the mountain and was able to spend some enjoyable time with three of our girls. It is something we don't get to do very often any more. Tersie is very much into being an independent single mom. Which she does way too well sometimes and the girls keep very busy schedules with school activities. All of which means we appreciate any time we can get with them. Being able to be of help to her when she needed it and it felt so good. We hated that she had such an expensive repair job at this time of year though.
While we were in town I bought what supplies we will need to see us through to Christmas Day. Our family gathering will be at Chris and Melody's Christmas evening when they get back from Kentucky. We will go in a little early and get a ham started in the oven. I am making 'G'ma's Potato Salad' and all the ingredients were bought yesterday for Grandma Crace's Apple Stack Cake. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Tonight is Riley's Christmas program. He has come a long way since last year. His performance last year was as a donkey in the stable. He did a terrific job of it too. This year though he will be Joseph. We will give you a full report with photos tomorrow.
Note to Jo: Run, run, as fast as you can..... You can't catch me I'm the 'Gingerbread Man'!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Puff..Puff..Puff... That Cigarette

This is going to be a very short and to the point posting. I was so wrapped up in our surprise snowfall over the weekend that I didn't even realize until this morning that Saturday was an anniversary for me. It was six months ago Saturday that I laid my cigarettes down on the screened in porch and walked away from them. I did this with the help of a drug called Chantix and a lot of prayer on my part. I had tried quite a few times before to quit smoking and failed miserably.
Now here it is six months after the fact. The cigarette pack still lays untouched on the porch. I guess I really can't say they are untouched, because about a month after I quit Riley picked them up and brought them to me saying, "Here Grandma, you forgot your cigarettes on the porch." It felt good to tell him that I hadn't forgotten them, that I left them there because I don't want to smoke them any more. He told me o.k., then put them back where he found them.
I can honestly say that there has only been a few times that I had a craving for one, but tthat craving came and went rather quickly. The worse craving I had was the day I lost my mind due to that musical drug, Lyrica. That too passed though.
Note to Jo: It does feel good to no longer be a slave to tobacco.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sometimes Less Is More

I want to dedicate this posting to all of those that are feeling the stress of the Christmas season for one reason or another. Perhaps your job and your schedule is so demanding that you just don't seem to find enough hours in the day to get done everything that you think needs to be done before Christmas morning arrives. Perhaps You find yourself in a different life situation then what you were on past Christmas mornings and through no fault of your own you find yourself a single parent due to divorce or the death of a spouse, your youngest child has left the nest, you lost your job and the money just isn't there like it always was before. I pray that what I am about to say will help ease the stress that you may be feeling.
This doesn't come from a mother or a friend that just wants to help lift your spirits. Even though I very much want to do that. It comes from the memories of a woman that has spent 58 Christmas mornings on this earth. Not only childhood memories, but memories as a mother of two small children and memories of a mother experiencing the empty nest.
As I was growing up both of my parents worked to make ends meet. This was a rare situation in the 50's. Christmas as a child bring back memories for me of Grandma Crace's Apple Stack Cake and trips to Aunts and Uncles houses for Christmas dinner. Memories of Christmas plays at church. As for presents under the tree I remember 1 gift that if I close my eyes I can still visualize what it looked like. It was a ballerina doll. She wore a black sparkly tutu and ballerina slippers. Poor things feet had to have gotten cramps in them as she wasn't a jointed doll and her feet were always pointed in the ballet position. I also remember she wasn't your typical doll because her hair was dark brown like mine and not blond.
By the time I had reached the 6th grade, my dad had gone into business for himself and we had moved to Florida. That was the leanest Christmas I can recall. There wasn't enough money for a tree that year, but somehow my mother had scrimped together enough money to buy my brother and me something for Christmas morning. Our mother was a master at scrimping. I had two gifts that Christmas. One was a baton, the other was the book, "Little Women". That Christmas I will always carry in my heart. I will always remember that in some way my mother had to have sacrificed in some way to be able to buy those gifts for us. I wish to this day that I still had that book, but I don't. I actually wore it out over the years from reading it and rereading it. I know there were Chistmas mornings when there were lots of gifts under the tree, but it was the times when there were just a few that brings warmth to my heart.
Then as a parent there was our first Christmas in California when my children were 4 and 9. Being a military family, money was seldom in abundance. I always started Christmas shopping in August and either put things in lay away or bought a little at a time and hid them. Every year by December first I had Christmas taken care of and all that was left was the baking and decorating. Not quite the case that Christmas. When we arrived in California there was no base housing available. They were starting to pull the troops out of Viet Nam and there was a pretty long waiting list. Civilian housing was at a premium as well. We did manage to find a small Apartment in Newport Beach that was temporary. It was located pool side and they didn't allow children in those apartments, but rented it too us until after the new year as a gesture of kindness. I had Christmas bought, but it was in a moving van someplace between North Carolina and California.
We furnished that little apartment with lawn chairs and a folding table and our beds were sleeping bags. Now what will we do about Christmas? I found a three foot tree at a variety store and a few ornaments to decorate it with. We only decorated the side of the tree we could see. I sat it on top of a big empty square box I found at the grocery store and used a towel for a tree skirt. I think that Christmas my children each received two gifts. I remember buying Chris a guitar that year. I remember this only because he played it non stop. I remember stressing out over that Christmas and the concern I had that my children were going to be disappointed. They weren't though. It was like a Charley Brown Christmas that year.
There were also the Christmas' that we played Santa for families that were in need. What a wonderful feeling it was to tip toe up to someones house after dark and leave a surprise gift or two at their door. Not to forget the Christmas Eves spent visiting nursing homes with the church. The joy on those dear faces as the children sang Christmas songs and passed out cards and hugs to the senior citizens. There was just as much joy on the faces of those that came to visit, as those that lived there.
My experience with the empty nest was when my Tersie left home. True she was only 70 some miles away going to school at OSU, but she was gone. It was the Christmas season and my Tersie was gone. Never mind the fact that she would be home over Christmas break. I forced myself to do Christmas shopping that year, yet just couldn't seem to get any baking done. That was something that we did together and she just wasn't there. Cookies and home made bread was always on my to do list for Christmas. I just didn't have the Christmas spirit. Needless to say, when Tersie did come home she didn't hesitate to let me know her disappointment that I had not done any baking.
So to make an already very long posting to an end, I will give you the bottom line.
It isn't going to matter how many presents there are under the tree on Christmas morning. It will be that one special gift that will be remembered any way. It will be the love and warmth of family and home that will be remembered. It will be those special traditions that you build with your children that will be remembered and repeated when they have families of their own. Children are really more in tune to the world around them then we think. If there are financial hardships, trust me they are aware and they really won't be expecting a truckload of gifts under the tree any way. They understand and they still love their family unconditionally. It is the perfect time to put the focus of the true meaning of Christmas back where it should be.
Merry Christmas and may God shower you with his love and blessings!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Wonderful Surprise

Once a week we try to spend the day with our youngest grandson, Seth. Yesterday was Seth day. He is growing like a weed and seems as if every week he is doing yet something else new. For the past few days we have been getting weather warnings for a winter storm for Ohio. The worse of this winter storm being to the north and gradually tapering off to rain/sleet mix by the time it reached southern Ohio. I have to admit that I was disappointed with the thought of all of that wet stuff coming our way. I find few things as relaxing as watching the snow fall while staying warm and cozy inside, with a wood fire burning. With the weather forecast being so bleak we rushed to the store before coming home yesterday and stocked up on supplies in case we aren't able to get off the mountain for a while.
What a wonderful surprise when I looked out this morning and saw all those white fluffy snow flakes drifting from the sky.
About an hours worth of snow and half an hours worth of sleet!

I love my wind chimes!

Wonder if a cushion of snow would be soft to sit on?

View of front yard from kitchen window.
Special note from Jo: Thank you God for indulging me! :-)

A Mountain Man's Tale

Ahhhhhh the joys of country living.

Why is it that the trip from the house to the bathroom always seems longer in the winter time?

J.D. says he sure will be glad when we get indoor plumbing!
Just thought we would have a little fun with the camera this morning. We have had so much fun with this outhouse. It was here when we bought the property and yes, it is an operational outhouse. It is a far cry from what I remember as a little girl living in the country though. Those memories include some very unpleasant smells. This outhouse is a compost outhouse which in reality means little to no odors. The only undesirable characteristics seem to be the cold in the winter and the wasps in the summer. There isn't much that can be done about the cold, but I am bound and determined to some how beat the wasps problem. ( We are open to any helpful suggestions on that). It does come in handy when we are out working in the yard during the warmer months. The granddaughters (ages 14,13 & 10) refuse to use it, but grandson Riley (age 4) had no qualms about it. We are planning an outdoor shower sometime in the near future. Friends and family that come to visit are usually quite surprised when they look inside for the first time. We have it quite nicely decorated with pictures on the wall and lots of books and magazines to read. We even have a pitcher and bowl, soap and towel so hands can be washed. Also a bowl on a chair filled with potpourri. We love our mountain home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Shopping "&&()@^@#&*"

I am a true believer that the quickest way to turn a person with a cheerful happy Christmas spirit into some sort of red eyed, snarling, head spinning creature is with a shopping trip this time of year.

I have never in my life ventured out on Black Friday to do any type of shopping what so ever. In fact I even gone so far as to make sure that I was stocked up on enough groceries to last at least until the first of the next week for that very reason. This may have come about from all the years of working retail.

Well, with the prices of everything sky rocketing this year, I decided to bite the bullet and charge out there with the rest of the world trying to catch a bargain and save a few dollars. I even had J.D. convinced that this would be the thing to do.

Come Friday morning, I had my list made and woke J.D. up long before the crack of dawn and we were on our way to town. We made Wal-Mart our first stop and had very little problem finding a parking spot. We made it inside fairly easily as well. It wasn't until we reached the back of the building that we came to a complete stop due to a bottleneck. Shopping carts were going no where at all. It was at this point, I left J.D. with the cart while I made my way through the people milling about in the aisles with my list in hand to find some of those bargains. After what seemed years, I found my way back to our cart and my husband, list still in hand, but no bargains in tow. It was at this point that we deserted our cart and made our way back to the front of the store.

Our next stop would be Sears. Maybe this wouldn't be as bad. What planet did I think I was on to have a thought like that. It was just as bad, if not worse because the store isn't as big. Another stroll to the back of a store and back to the front and I threw in the towel. Who needs this kind of stress so early in the morning?

It took me all of two stores to wonder why I had even thought that dragging us out in the cold at a ridiculous hour of the morning was a good idea. When it could all have been done in the comfort of our home, with a cup of coffee in hand. I didn't think about it until right now, but I could blame my temporary insanity on the bad effects of Lyrica (see yesterday's posting) on my system.

We left Sears and headed for Bob Evans for a good country breakfast. Not much can work up an appetite like a failed Black Friday shopping spree.

Kudos to those shoppers that do get out there on Black Friday and manage to save a few dollars and find those bargains to boot. It is a tradition for son, Chris and daughter-in-law, Melody and they find the bargains. I truly believe that if you are going to do this you need to have a game plan, as well as training. It is like a football game in a lot of ways. If you aren't going to train for it, and follow a plan, you might as well forget about any sort of wish list or happy ending at the end of your shopping excursion. All you are going to have is a head ache and nasty temper.

Note to Jo: From now on stay on the mountain and shop online. Just as many bargains there as in the stores. Drink my coffee and say, "Ahhhhhhh, I love shopping like this!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Once Upon A Time......

Once upon a time in Cyberland there existed a blog that went by the name of 'Moodscapes'. The hand that penned this blog belong to (ME!) and I was delighted with the outlet I had created for expressing myself. No matter what the mood, I could express it there and for the most part everyone respected my feelings and my thought process.

I have a condition that many people suffer from, called fibromyalgia. What a dream come true when the FDA approved a drug that would take care of the pain that fibromyalgia brought nearly everyday. Lyrica was the name of this drug. Memory takes me back to thinking how musical the name sounds. Music for most people is a source of relaxation so therefore it is a fitting name.

Oh, the first few weeks of taking this new drug was wonderful. Although there was still a certain amount of pain it was very bearable in comparison to the pre-Lyrica days. After reading the side effects flyer that came with the Lyrica, things looked even more promising because the worse thing listed was dizziness. No big deal. After all some had accused me in my younger days as living in a permanent state of 'Dizzy".

As the days marched on, I started having fleeting bouts of depression. Well, it is the season for depressions for one thing and depression rides in a side car with fibromyalgia for the other. Therefore not much thought was given to the depression.

However on one bright sunny morning, my world exploded on me. I don't even recall now what sparked it. I do recall thought, that not a soul was safe from my mouth and verbal ravings. Anyone that dared get in my path heard ranting and raving from me that I am sure they never in their wildest dreams thought would come out of my mouth. I hurt several loved ones that day and I will forever pray for their forgiveness. I also clicked delete on Moodscapes, as well as my Grandparents blog.

During one lucid moment I knew this was all terribly wrong. I went online to check out the side effects of this miracle drug more thoroughly. I found a web site that not only lists the common side effects (these are the ones we get as a print out with the medication) but it also listed the uncommon side effects. I could not believe what I was seeing. In the uncommon side effects (effecting 1 in 1,000) was a list of every strange behavior I had experienced over the past few weeks. At that moment, I decided I had to get that garbage out of my system. So I just stopped taking every drug that was prescribed to me. (special note: not recommended) I was very fortunate that I didn't suffer any ill effects from doing that.

All I was concerned with was purging my system of these chemicals and becoming a human being again. I am happy to report that it seems to be working.

As a result 'Moodscapes' is just a memory and I now attach my thoughts and memories to 'Bits and Pieces'. It is very important that when given a new drug, especially one that is praised as a miracle drug of sorts, that you check out as much information on it as possible. Although Lyrica is working for many people and making a huge difference in their lives, it doesn't work for everyone. I am proof of that. I would prefer to deal with the pain of fibromyalgia than to live through another nightmare like the one 'WE' experienced.

.............. And they all lived happily ever after.
Now you know the rest of the story.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

While I Was Sleeping

We had a visitor yesterday evening here on the mountain. It was a young man that I had invited to come by and tell us what he had to offer in the way of a cancer insurance policy. We had one that we have been paying on since 2002, but the premiums had jumped from $53 a month to $136 in five years. That price hike didn't reflect any claims from us, because there were none. How ever being a survivor myself of cervical cancer and memories of my mothers death from cancer still pretty fresh in my mind, I truly feel the need for a cancer policy.

Our young insurance representative assured us that he would not sell us anything that we did not need and commented that a person can be insurance poor. If that isn't an understatement, I really don't know what is. That very thought has been rolling around in my mind for quite some time now. It started in October when we received notice from our insurance company in Louisiana that they could no longer write the type of policy that JD had for the house that he co-owns with my ex-wife-in-law. As a result they would have to write a different sort of policy that was going to end up costing us a little over 3 times as much as what we were already paying.


I went to work on that one right away and found that the wonderful people at The Hartford (through AARP) were more than happy to take care of our insurance woes not only at an acceptable premium, but offering more bang for the buck. It was at this point when I had them run quotes for our little home on the mountain, as well as for our vehicles. Again they were able to offer us more benefits for less money on everything. Right about now, I would be thumbing my nose at Allstate.

Okey Dokey, I need to get back on track with this story. I started thinking about how insurance has taken over our lives, not to mention our incomes. We no longer have just life insurance, stay with me here because I am going to start a list of the many kinds of insurances that I can think of and there will probably be many that I don't think of:

  • Life

  • Burial

  • Dental

  • Eye

  • Health

  • Prescription

  • Cancer

  • Stroke

  • Heart Attack

  • Home Owners

  • Renters

  • Accident

  • Automobile

  • Malpractice

  • Valuable processions

  • Don't forget those valuable body parts (Hands and Legs)

They even have Pet Health Insurance and Pet Accident Insurance now to take care of Fido and Fluffy's needs!

When did this happen? I remember when I was small, my mother taking me to the Dr. and before we left she would open her purse and take out a few dollars and pay for the office call. We seldom went to the drug store because the Dr. usually dispensed his own medication. At what point in time did it become necessary to have insurance to pay for the Dr. and medications that he or she prescribes? One thing is certain, without the insurance, the days of opening your purse and paying a few dollars for the office call and medication is a thing of the past. Even with the insurance coverage it is getting more and more difficult to afford health care. The cost of the premiums are increasing on an annual basis, while the benefits are decreasing. I for one, see something seriously wrong with this picture.

I ask again when did this happen? As I sit here drinking my morning coffee I will continue to ponder that question and see if I can come up with the answer. For right now though I would just have to say it must have happened while I was sleeping!

Mental note to Jo: Sleep with one eye open in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mmmmm Mmmmm Good

Since it is the season for sharing, I wanted to share this very rare photo of my sweetheart. This is rare not just because J.D. doesn't do kitchen aprons (a carpenter's apron is a different story), but he seldom does cooking.
He is a master at pancakes and bacon. He has even added oatmeal to his list of mouth watering stove top accomplishments. He just does not enjoy cooking and I have to respect that. I, on the other hand love to cook. Really it is a match made in heaven because there is never any competition going on in the kitchen.
This picture was taken in 2000 on a trip to Ponca City to visit J.D.'s youngest daughter Angela and her family. Of course J.D.'s desire to stay as far away from a stove as possible is no secret. I remember grandson Warren's reaction to Grandpa in an apron and actually cooking. He was spell bound, which in turn prompted the photo.
Bon Apetite!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Memories Of Grandma

As I was writing my post yesterday my mind kept drifting back to my days as a child and the time I spent with my grandmother. I loved spending time with her because she always made me feel as if I was special. Believe me that was a big deal to a little girl that was one of the youngest of many grandchildren. One of my favorite aunts used to tell me that so many of the grown ups didn't know what they were missing out on by not spending time with me, but that was just the way it was. She said that by the time I came along there had already been so many babies born into the family that any new ones were nothing to take notice of.

When I was growing up, Grandma lived in a little cottage on a hillside in Southern Ohio just down the path from one of her son's and his family. She raised chickens, gardened, canned, quilted and watched TV. She cooked with a wood burning cook stove and heated with a wood burning stove as well. Any time we came to visit was reason enough to dress a couple of chickens and fry them up for supper. To this day, I have yet to taste fried chicken that could even compare to Grandma's.

I jumped at any opportunity I had to stay with her. Once while I was there visiting for a week she decided that she would teach me how to quilt. How important did I feel when she told me what we were going to do! We started with a pattern template and some fabric. I sat for what seemed like hours tracing that template onto the fabric while Grandma cut the pieces and stacked them into a basket. Of course she wasn't just going to turn me loose on the sewing machine with these pieces of fabric. She brought out paper and drew lines on them, then she drew circles on some and some were decorated with triangles and squares. She opened up her treadle sewing machine (that is peddle power for the younger generation) and took the thread out of the needle. After showing me the basics of operation she turned me loose sewing those pieces of paper with the empty needle. I was in heaven! It was when I mastered stitching on the lines that she threaded the needle and let me actually stitch the real deal together.

I was recently thinking about when we went to visit her at Christmas time as I was growing up and couldn't remember ever getting an individual Christmas gift from her. Her income was very limited and she did have ten children and as I mentioned before many grandchildren. Still Christmas did not pass without giving something of herself to each of her children and their families. It was the same gift every year and I looked forward to it just as much as anything Santa might leave under the tree. Every year at Christmas time, Grandma would bake an apple stack cake. One of those traditions that I have come to dearly miss over the years since her death. Grandma was the only person I have ever known of that made that cake. Several years ago, I was talking with a coworker during our lunch break and we were discussing grandmas and cooking, etc. She mentioned a cake that her grandma had made at Christmas time. As Cheryl described it, I knew it could be none other than that same cake recipe because I had watched Grandma make it many times. She told me that when her grandma had died after her belongings had been pretty well picked over, the grandchildren were allowed to go in and take one thing of hers. She took a kitchen calendar that had hung on the wall for years as she was growing up. On that calendar she found the apple stack cake recipe jotted down on the back of the last page. Cheryl shared that recipe with me and I still have it tucked away in my recipe box. I think perhaps this will be the year that I bring that recipe out and bake it for my family.

I loved my Grandma so very much and still recall what a bright spot she put into my years as a child. She was everything a Grandma should be. My mother was that kind of Grandma to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I only hope that I can be the sort of grandmother that my grandchildren will remember years after I am gone and be thankful for memories that I have left behind.

Merry Christmas Grandma and thank you for the warm memories!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Life As A Quilt

From time to time I like to sit quietly and take stock of my life. Thoughts about like where I have been and where I am going. The joys and sorrows that have made up this life of mine, as well as the people that have traveled this journey with me. Some are still by my side, new ones have joined me, while others have wandered off along the way to pursue their own journeys separate from mine.

I use to hold on to everything that I remembered when I did my inventory. I found by doing that, I was also holding on to things from the past that had hurt me emotionally. As a result, I was preventing those hurts from healing and not allowing forgiveness to enter my heart. My plan is to work on that.

Have you ever really given much thought to quilts? Each one is unique to their own creator, therefore no two will be alike. Many people may use the same pattern, but there will always be variations in the colors, the fabric, and even the skill level of the creator. I see our lives as being very much like quilts. How wonderful that we each are given the tools and opportunities to create our very own quilt, just by the life we lead and the choices we make. Some of us will be very precise and careful about where each square is placed and the colors and fabric that is used. While others will whip through their quilts like a whirl wind and those squares will be placed randomly here and there. While still others will be masters at creating a crazy quilt. I can honestly tell you that I have created my share of those.

The bottom line is to create a quilt that you will be proud to leave behind when your days are through. A quilt that you can pass along to your loved ones. Something that they can wrap up in when the cold winds of loneliness blow and the memories of you, as the quilts creator will keep them warm long after you journey has ended.

Happy quilting!