Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Thoughts

When I was young, and even up until not so many years ago, I didn't give much thought to what lie behind the meaning, or purpose, of Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day).  All through school and throughout my paid-career years, the day was just another holiday, a time to get away from whatever stress was happening at the time.  While a child, our family didn't do anything special at home, it was just a day away from school.  As an adult, it was a day added to the weekend making for time to go camping, or have friends over for a good time and maybe a barbecue and marked the beginning of summer activities.

Over the last decade or so, however, I've come to realize just what this day signifies.  It's a day of cost.  Lives were lost.  Families left behind were changed forever, and not necessarily for the better.  It should be a solemn day, a reminder of these wonderful men and women who were too early lost to their earthly families.  These soldiers and their families had hopes, dreams, goals for the future.  They said goodbye to their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, children and all the other shirttail relatives and friends they had ever known.

Decoration Day was begun after the Civil War by the Grand Army of the Republic (Union) according to Wikipedia, as a day to remember those who were lost in that war.  They honored them by decorating their graves with flowers.  I didn't really know that until just last year, and while up north, went with my aunt and uncle and family members around to several cemeteries where family members are buried to place flowers on their graves.  I wasn't aware that my aunt and family followed that tradition.  In their remembrances though, it doesn't pertain to just those in the service, they make it for remembering all family that have gone before...but somehow, in my mind, and while that's a nice gesture, the deeper meaning and intent is lost.  That being, remembering those who died while fighting for either a cause they fully believed in or were compelled to fight because they were soldiers when a war broke out and it was their duty to do so.

A few from among my own ancestors, family and friends who I would like to honor today:

  • My great-great-grandfather, Richard Haas (real name) fought with the Union.  He was taken prisoner and died as a POW at Salisbury, NC.  He died from starvation, just weeks before the war ended.  He left behind in Michigan, a wife and three children, the youngest being not yet three years old.  His widow never remarried.  
  • My step-father's cousin was stationed in Pearl Harbor aboard the Utah, losing his life in the attack from Japan.  
  • In 1968 in Viet Nam, my second cousin (Gary), the only son among three children, lost his life in Long An Province.  At 15, it was the first funeral I'd attended.  I had only met him for the first time a year before at a family reunion.
  • The son of a friend I'd lost touch with for many years, gave his life in Iraq 11 years ago, leaving behind a young wife and two babies, in addition to his parents and family.  Though I didn't learn of this until a few years ago, I was heart-broken.  I knew this young man (Chris) as a 9-year old little boy with an infectious smile, dimples in his cheeks, who loved bacon. 
  • While not losing his life during his term of service, my mom's cousin Vern, lost his life a few years ago from the long-term effects of the agent orange he encountered during his tour in Viet Nam.
  • Some of my classmates in high school in the late 1960s, lost their brothers in Viet Nam, as so many did during that awful conflict. 
I recognize I am not alone with the losses of members of their family and friends, and perhaps many of my readers lost someone far more closely held to them, where the pain of that loss is an enduring reminder of the costs of war, than I.  Today, I pray for you as you remember again the heartaches of those losses.  

Let us all remember that today, Memorial Day, is a day of remembrance and honor to those who died in the service for their country.  And while we like to honor all service men and women, this holiday is separate and distinct from Veteran's Day when we honor those veteran's still living who do and who have served in the military.  God bless you all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I haven't posted any quilty stuff on Webs of Thread because, well, I just haven't done any quilty stuff all week.  I might get to some by the weekend.

What I have worked on is a little bit of genealogy.  No real research, but organizing and filing.  There's a whole lot of that to do!

I have a large quantity of very old film from back when each film shot was a 2.5" square, or 2.75" x 4.5" and strips of multiple images that are approximately 1 7/8" x 5 1/2 or 1/38 x over 5 1/2.  All before the 35mm film strips.  My goal is to scan and reprint them all.  I have done some of that in the past with my Hewlett Packard All-In-One printer, a function I didn't know it would do when I bought it, though I did have to make my own film holder to accommodate those sizes - necessity is the mother of invention I've heard.  I attempted to scan a couple nights ago, but the printer doesn't seem to want to do that anymore.  It gave me the same sound and error messages it gave me a few weeks ago when I attempted to send a fax and couldn't.  It may have something to do with a computer connection.  Marty was going to see if he could help with it last night, but I think we both forgot.  

Other distractions were on my heart and mind.  I learned on Sunday night that the son of a dear friend, going all the way back to 8th grade, was stabbed by his ex-girlfriend and died.  I cannot describe the grief I felt not just in the loss of his life and how, but for my friend's loss.  He was her only child.  He was a good 'kid' - age 38, had just bought his first house in January, he & the gal had been engaged, then a month ago, they no longer were.  All of those who knew him do not believe the account as reported in the news that he broke into her home.  He isn't here to defend himself and there's only her side of the story.  It's still under investigation, so hopefully the truth will prevail.  It's so very unbelievable and my friend has a long road ahead of her dealing with her loss and should there be a criminal case brought forth, she'll be faced with that. 

My brother who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, I have learned is now home.  He needs prayer for more than just his health and salvation.  The Lord knows those issues.  

Chicken bones and trimmings are simmering in the pot; it'll be chicken soup/stew for dinner tonight.  There wasn't a lot of meat left, so I pulled out a couple of breasts and am boiling them up separately.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday, Monday

So far this Monday morning is going well and I hope it doesn't become a 'downer' like the song "Monday, Monday".  Yeah, I'm from that seems like only Yesterday at times.  Oh wait, that was another song from back then.  Moving right along.  And time has moved right along...all too quickly.

Yesterday did not start out great for me, I was in a terrible funk, missing my Mom among other things, but my daughter called around mid-morning and I could hear baby Evelyn making baby noises in the background, such a delight.

For dinner Nick & Marty and I went to a restaurant called Islands.  We've only eaten there a few times.  It's kind of a sports bar with a tropical island theme, hence the name.  Television monitors are everywhere and the one I could see alternated between surfing and extreme snow skiing (I'm sure they have the latter on the islands, hehe).  Awhile back when my friend Panda and I went to a quilt show, we ate lunch at Islands and she'd ordered the onion rings, and I love good onion rings and that describes theirs!  We had onion rings, and I had a Kaanapali Kobb salad to go with them.  Nick had a burger and fries, bottomless fries I might add so he had more than what came with his burger, and Marty had a wrap with a coleslaw side, which I tasted the latter and it was yummy.  It had cilantro and jicama in it and he said it had a spicy bite, but my taste wasn't big enough to detect that.   We brought home leftovers.

Later in the evening the doorbell rang followed by a loud knock and I ran down to find a delivery of flowers sitting on my doorstep.  That delivery guy was in a hurry!  But he shouted "Happy Mother's Day" as he got into his car.

I brought them upstairs, setting them on a plate on my ironing board (the only empty surface); the bottom of the container was wet.  They are lovely and smell wonderful.  I was noticing the flower photos my friends were posting on Facebook, and noticed that almost all were purple/lavender colors, and mine are no exception.  That must be the color for this year.  And I like that color, by the way.  I find as I get older, it's more appealing to me than it was when I was young.

Raven gave her approval too.  In fact, she wanted to nibble on the basket, and has tried to nibble on a blossom or two as well.  She's still hanging out with me, napping on the ironing board, while I type my post.

I've not received much of an update as to my brother's condition other than he told another brother it is lung cancer and that one of the tumors has wrapped itself around the major artery to the heart.  I don't know if that makes surgery possible or not.  Also, my sister said that a biopsy of the tumor(s) was going to be done and they could then give him treatment options, but he is likely of a mindset that he won't choose to do anything. 

On with my day's activities.  Chores are always plentiful.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Trials and Tribulations

We have been told in Scripture we will have them, and have them we do.

Before I get to the latest bit of trouble, I'd like to wish all the Mom's out there a great big


*****          *****          *****

Anyone wanting to stop reading here,'s just a little family drama that follows.

I received a call yesterday from my sister saying my dad had to take my brother to the ER.  Brother Dean had been at my dad's but said he didn't feel well and left for his home.  Some while later Dean called my dad saying he woke up on the floor and asked if he could take him to the ER so my dad did, just dropping him off - actions like this are normal in this family.

This was around 12:30 yesterday.  I'd heard no update so called my sister, she was at my dad's, around 3:30 and they hadn't heard, so they set out for the hospital to see what they could find out.  Hospital said they didn't show him ever being there.  My sister went to his apartment, he was there but had a hospital band on his wrist so HAD been at the hospital.  I don't know how he got back to his place.  I don't know all the interim details but they took him back to the hospital where, when my sister called hours later, they apparently did more testing.  He was quite upset that my family had even told me.  This is the brother who hasn't talked to me since my mother was released to home under hospice care all because he chose to believe something untrue even though everyone who was at the site at the time didn't take what was said the way he did.  Such is life with an individual who is bipolar and has had a chip, or more, on his shoulder since birth.

When my sister did call back with the clear picture, or reasonably so, it was that my brother has three cancerous tumors in his chest and throat.  He is a smoker.  At least one of the tumors was blocking adequate blood flow to his heart and brain, which apparently caused his initial feeling of unwellness and passing out.  I also learned that he had been having TIAs since even before my mother had gone to the hospital in January of 2014.  I don't recall anyone telling me that, but my sister recalls him talking about it while in my mom's hospital room.  I may not have been there at the time.

It was decided that he should be transported to the University hospital in a larger city but he refused to go by ambulance transport and was waiting for his son to come and take him, which happened in the late evening.  There was the possibility that he would be having surgery last night.  I've had no updates yet this morning.

I don't know the prognosis or what his treatment will be if anything.  He is not employed but my sister thinks he has mimimal (poor) insurance through the temp agency he works through.

Regardless of the 'ill feelings' I still will be praying for him.  He may not want me to know, or to see me, but I can still pray.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chugging and Spinning

Around here that's what it seems I do, chug along and spin wheels, or rooms a la vertigo.

With all the other usual nonsense, of which I've probably posted too much on, my anger and frustrations have come out too often lately.  It's been one of those weeks.  I was reminded of a saying I've heard: "If you do what you've always done, you get what you always got."   It's paraphrased, and various versions have been attributed to Mark Twain, Henry Ford, and others.   I just don't know how or what to change to get different results.  Maybe it's just my expectations that need to change.

My dad gets his lower back cortisone shot today.  His brother is helping him with his appointment as he needed someone to be there and drive him home.

Marty is down in the dumps fearing he's going to be let go from this job that he's now had just a year.  I think the long commute wears on him. 

Marty and Nick have been doing some research on economical cars and if we get a third vehicle, Marty will drive it to & from work to save on fuel costs, and Nick will drive the 4-Runner to and from school which is only a few miles per day.  It's a huge NO on the Prius...Nick thinks they're the ugliest car in the world.

I signed Nick up for piano and voice lessons.  He will have them on alternating weeks.  He's previously had a year and more of piano.

I'm off to the shower, then chores, and hope to get a little more stitching done on that quilt I started earlier in the week.   If you missed it, check at Webs of Threads, my all-things-thread-related blog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Expired! or Not?!

I've probably made some comments on this subject before, and I know I've probably commented on blogs of others on the subject but, expiration dates are one of my pet peeves, so here's my gentle rant for today.

I'm one with a mindset that "expiration dates" are primarily marketing ploys and product rotation guides (with a few exceptions).  And for the record, it's my understanding that ONLY baby food/formula is REQUIRED by "governing authorities" to carry an expiration date.  I've eaten foods, including canned, with years old 'expiration dates'.  Many would not chance that, but I'm not one of those strict conformers.  That's not to say I entirely throw caution to the wind either.  I know that certain foods have a propensity for spoilage, like produce, dairy and meat.  Pharmaceuticals may be under different governing guidance.  And it's really pharmaceuticals I'm questioning today.

On my snail pace of decluttering long-neglected and overlooked things (yep, that's what I've been working on lately), I'm looking at medicines.  A couple years ago when I was experiencing severe lower back pain, I was prescribed medicinal patches.  The prescription label has an expiration given as " 1/14 " presuming that to mean " Jan 2014 ".  The box, and it's remaining contents, which are in sealed pouches, gives "06 2015".  Hmm, now isn't that interesting; the manufacturer / packager says they're good for nearly a year and a half beyond what the pharmacy put on their label.   I don't think it's the drug that's rotten!  So when we get 'expiration dates' on prescriptions, where the product is transferred from a LARGE bottle that we never see, counted out and placed in our SMALL bottles that we take home, how do we know for sure we're getting an accurate 'expiration date' in either direction?  Who would really know and does it REALLY matter? 

The only chemistry I had in school was the wee bit included in general science and biology at the high school and junior college levels.  Are chemical compositions (in pharmaceuticals) stable, or do they degrade?  And if they degrade, how fast?  Does degradation change the chemical composition? Is one chemical more stable than another?  Why is it "good" one day and not the next?  How much time beyond the expiration might a product still really be good?

How soon do you throw out your "expired" products whether boxed, canned, frozen, medicinal - presciption or over the counter?  And while you're at it, explain to me why there should be an expiration date on deodorant.  Seriously, my deodorant has an expiration date stamped on it of 10-2016!

Are my vitamins with expiry dates of Oct 2013 and 01/1011 totally ineffective?  Will they poison me if I still take them?  Probably not, for either question, but given their storage over the years, it's probably time to replace them.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rats, Vertigo and Catching Up

***WARNING*** Gross factor (rat poo) in first picture!

I'll start with the latter...catching up.  Frankly, I don't think I will ever catch up, but I'd like to think I will.  I've been home from the northern state for two weeks already, hoping to stay here until the end of June but am already seeing hearing things from my dad that may change that.  Since I left, my sister hasn't been able to make it down to check on him either, and that concerns me.  I did eight loads of laundry in one day, and that didn't include my new fabric.  There were still a couple loads that could have been done, and now laundry has piled up again - my guys have unlearned their good habits during my frequent absences.  I've only asked that they bring their dirty laundry and set it on the washer daily, and that Nick take his clean clothes from the garage (where the laundry is) to his room.  One of my first tasks was also to review (read 'toss') things still in the refrigerator from mid-January that they ignored. 

While I was still up north, I had a chat message from my son saying we had invaders beginning with "R" and ending with "odent" - cute, huh? - so I asked if mice or rats and where?  He said they thought mice and in the garage and they could hear them in the attic crawl space.  I suggested they get some traps and deal with it.  When I arrived home, I took a flashlight and investigated a bit more closely.  I keep my pantry overflow of canned and boxed goods, and potatoes, onions, apples out in the garage.  The first thing I saw was a tiny little mouse-trap set with a tiny little piece of cheese sitting out in the open on a shelf.  Then I saw the 'droppings', that is NOT from a mouse, that IS from a rat, and the rat will laugh at that mousetrap.  Keep in mind, I'm a country girl (or at least was) and my dear hubby and son are both entirely city boys even if hubs does like to be out in the wilds backpacking.  He knows nothing about these things.

This is a rat trap, not the mouse trap and it has been set for a week, no takers, and I'm not sure it's still set correctly.  Notice the wrapper was chewed into - it was a granola-type bar.
To refresh myself, I researched online - we never really had rats on the ranch, but mice were often in the feed and in the house!  I had hubby go out and get some rat traps, though I think they may be too big - isn't there a medium size? our rats aren't huge.  The research also said to make sure all points of entry have been plugged so Marty took care of that aspect.  He set ONE trap (it was recommended to set a dozen of them in many places).  Still no takers.  I had noticed that they had chewed into the potatoes, and especially had chewed into the packets in a box of instant potatoes!  

The first bottle I noticed.  I actually thought at first that maybe it had fallen onto the concrete floor and had been placed back on the shelf without it be realized it had split open.  But obviously, those are teeth marks!
Days later I discovered, in the other garage (we have technically a 3-car garage - might fit Smart Cars - with one side being 'finished' with a door that stays closed in between), that the shelf where we keep water and soda was wet.  Looking closer, I saw that several of the water bottles had the bottoms chewed out of them!  Can you believe that?  I was stunned.  Can rats smell water in those bottles through the plastic?  Hubs set two more traps there, but still no takers.  We still hear them in the attic area, and in the upstairs 'new' bathroom, the cats keep listening at the tub, so it sounds like they're going from the attic, down the wall and under the tub.  There is an outdoor access panel that hubs says is sealed, but I want him to open it and place a couple traps in there as well as in the attic.  What was Marty's comment?  "I was hoping to starve them out."  Um, if they're now trapped within the house having sealed up any access points, and they starve to death, they are going to STINK!  Such a city boy, lol.

Rats are supposed to really like peanut butter.  Notice the bottom of that water bottle, still in the case wrapping, chewed out and empty.  Several are that way.

The bag of potatoes chewed into, and though it can't really be seen, they had eaten quite a bit of several potatoes.

Research also said to hold off on cleanup until you're sure the rats are eliminated.  So I've been holding off feeling really grossed out, though I bought the bleach, and hubs bought the face masks. I need new rubber gloves yet.

So the vertigo.  Well now, isn't that fun?  I've had brief bouts of this somewhat frequently in recent years, but usually only feel its effects when I lay down so it's never been a problem.  A few days ago, out of the blue sitting in my office chair, the world started spinning if I tilted my head off center.  It persists, but not horribly, though enough to make me feel like my brain is a bowl of Jell-o when I walk or try to drive.  Sometimes its ok, other times not, and when I lie down, at times, the room spins like a pinwheel in the wind for about 30 seconds.  Interestingly, before I came home, my brother Eugene had been at my dad's and he was suffering from it big time and is on about day 19 with very slow progress of getting better.  He's glad he's in between job assignments.  Since I feel a little wonky driving, and because Nick has a minimum day today, I let him take my car all on his own, but as he doesn't have a school parking permit, he'll have to park on the street about a block away.

I'm supposed to be preparing for a meeting with our financial dude tomorrow...I may not be as ready as I'd like, but it will have to suffice.  We then have our tax appointment on the 16th,
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