Friday, May 15, 2009

GENERAL "HOUSEKEEPING"

Friday again, whew. Why am I exhausted always on Fridays? Today I spent the afternoon (after working all morning and spending 3 hours on the phone with the Help people because I got a virus on my computer at work--a nasty little leach but all's well) doing a little spring cleaning--washing windows, washing and ironing curtains, cleaning out a closet, etc. Maybe that's it.

So I figured I would do some blog "housekeeping" as well. No topics, just a bunch of things that the "morning breezes" filled my brain with at 1 a.m. this morning when I couldn't sleep.

First, I have to tell you I read the most interesting book, ERNIE http://www.amazon.com/Ernie-Autobiography-Ernest-Borgnine/dp/0806529415/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242432562&sr=8-4 I had never read anything about Ernest Borgnine (why would I?) but as I read this book (that someone at work told me about), I was amazed at how many movies or tv shows over the years that I've watched that he was in. It was astounding. And now he's doing a voice on Sponge Bob Squarepants.

Anyway, if you are looking for a good read, you will enjoy this. I was very pleasantly surprised and even went out to find a website or someplace where I could send him a note. Technology is marvelous that way. That's how I stumbled onto JA's and Louise's blogs. I read their books and wanted to send them a note saying how much I enjoyed them and found their emails quite easily and was able to correspond with them. We're all just people, right? Not so with Ernie. Guess after 70 years of being a celebrity, he lives up in the unapproachable clouds somewhere. Didn't seem that way in his book, he sounded very approachable. Hey, Ernie, if you stumble across MY blog, send me a note, I'd like to chat.

Second, did you watch the Lost finale? I was shocked by the amount of blood on all these people. Jack, Sawyer, and Juliet were just covered. A little over the top IMO.

Third, seems Gulliver got bit by a brown recluse and let it go for three weeks and it turned into a nasty staph infection (all the way down to the bone according to the Professor). He finally was in so much pain, an ambulance was summoned, and he had emergency surgery the other night (I am surprised they didn't amputate the leg) to clean out the infection. He had a second "cleansing surgery" this morning and seems to be doing OK.

Gulliver is currently annoyed at and not talking to me. He asked my opinion on some plans he had made and I gave him a negative report. It is something he's done twice in the past with negative results. What does Papa say to me all the time "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So on that note, we'll go on to

Fourth, Aunt Cracker and I seem to be on the same wavelength alot of time and thinking about each other at the same time. I guess that is normal for old friends.

She is on vacation right now in Florida and due back the middle of next week. I wish she would hurry and get home. She and The Weatherman are on a much needed vacation, they both work pretty hard BUT I feel all out of sorts when she is out of town. Yes, I know I can call her any time but she's on vacation and I won't.

It's just when she is "gone" I always feel nervous, like I'm on a tightrope. That's how I feel most of the time anyway but she's here in case I fall. I know I can call any of my other Elders at any time, but they're not quite Cracker. I've only had to call her one time when I fell but you never know when another trip, stumble, or plunge might happen. So Cracker hurry up and come home.

So I was thinking about this feeling all nervous aboout it all very early this morning and when the alarm FINALLY went off, I noticed I had a message on my cell phone. A text message from Cracker. She was at a dive bar and wished we were there. Not sure what a dive bar is....she is in Florida, so a dive bar as in scuba divers? Or a bar that is a real dive (as in MO slang)? I'll have to get a report when she returns. Anyway, guess we were both thinking of the other in the early morning hours.

Ok between cleaning windows and thinking deep thoughts, I'm pretty whipped for the day.

Waiting patiently for Ernie's email........Grammy

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

THE "THREE"



I wanted to write a little more about the "Three bonus kids". Papa and I so enjoyed being around them but not being used to little kids in such huge doses, sometimes it was a little trying.



The oldest, Chatty, was a typical oldest girl. She seemed responsible for the others and was a bit bossy like oldest siblings usually are.



Her and Papa hit it off though and by the 3rd day, I realized she'd stake out the bedroom we were staying in (as she was the first out of bed at the crack of dawn) and as soon as Papa opened the door--thinking he would be able to get out for an early smoke an some solitary tv time--there she was, ready for fun and games with a new "victim."

Both her and her brother love to play games and it wasn't unusual for them to involve Papa in an early game of Chutes and Ladders or some sort of card game BEFORE breakfast and getting ready for school. This Grammy was on vacation, however, and enjoyed just laying in bed listening and letting it all happen without her. And for the week we were there, every morning, Papa still thought he would get away with his morning plans....not so with a determined 7 year old.



Still, the brother, seemed a little bit more reserved. He enjoyed games but seemed to let his oldest sister run the show and make the plans. Serious Girlfriend said he seems to be the most affected about her divorce and not being around his father all the time. He craves male companionship and took to Papa and I can see he is very close to FS as well. I noticed this especially on the Grand Canyon trip, he wanted to hang with the other "boys" alot and daringly walk close to the edge (with Papa usually having hold of him somehow).


He was more quiet than the girls but it was touching when he told his father that the Grand Canyon trip was his "greatest adventure." That makes a person feel good that you provided a "great adventure" for someone.

Then there is the Wild Child.



Can't you just see it in her face. She is so tiny and innocent but after a few days Papa announced "she is the instigator"! SG agreed but says it's for survival purposes having an older brother and sister. Wild likes to play games (or just be involved) but rules---we don't need no stinkin' rules. We got used to playing games and letting her just participate in whatever way she wanted on her turn while the rest of us followed the game's rules. We learned real fast, trying to teach her, just went in one ear and out the other. But she was so darn cute and her eyes just twinkled and smiled without her mouth moving that you couldn't get upset with her.



And that in a nutshell are the "Three". Can't wait to see them again and hope they get to come and have Christmas with us this year.

Later....Grammy

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vacation--Part Tres

I left off of this fascinating story on Thursday, Fantastic Son's birthday. For the most part, this vacation was really pretty dull. We took alot of naps but as for activities, we couldn't get motivated to do too much. We did have two activities that were....fun?!

Friday night, we went to Friday Night Franks at old Fort McDowell, somewhere north of Scottsdale. We really had a nice time there. It is an actual old Fort that is on the Yavapai reservation. The Yavapai run the nearby "Indian" casinos and they are trying to attract people over to the old fort for various other activites.



Friday Night Franks was all about hot dogs though, pretty simple. They sold raw dogs and brats that we cooked ourselves over the fire (also smores for dessert). They sold soft drinks and beer very cheap, had a live band, free wagon rides, and every hour a Yavapai would gather the crowd around and tell a story (mostly for the kids' benefit, but we enjoyed them as well).







It was really a beautiful place.




Saturday morning, after Friday Night Franks, we got up early to head for a day trip to the Grand Canyon, our other "activity". Serious Girlfriend and the kids have never been there and have lived in AZ for years and years and I've been three times already. (It's like STL people that have never went up to the top of the Arch!)

But our second activity started on a rough note. Seems FS didn't thoroughly cook his brats from the night before and we, diagnosed that after the fact, he had food poisoning. He woke up Saturday extremely ill but didn't want us to postpone the trip. The Three's had been looking forward to it and had even declined attending a birthday party in favor of a visit to the Big Hole.

So the 7 of us loaded up in the car and after a few stops for various refreshments, headed north, only having to pull over once for FS to throw up and he never used his puke bags, which was a plus. (DD, remember your airplane trips while pregnant and us collecting all the airsick bags for you!!) We left balmy 80 degree Phoenix and drove up the mountain and arrived at Grand Canyon just before noon to sunny, 42 degrees with 50 mph winds (you figure out that wind chill). Of course, the kids didn't have enough clothes on, hence their wearing adult sweatshirts in alot of this pictures! I swear that is the coldest place I go repeatedly but gorgeous all the same and Still told his dad that night on the phone it was his "greatest adventure".

Papa and Chatty





Grammy and FS (hard to smile, when your teeth are chattering)!



Greatest Adventure! The poor things look miserable!



He is such a great Papa!!



Me and The Three's.



It is a beautiful thing though.



Pondering the wonders of the world......Grammy

P.S. This ends our virtual vacation....the rest was alot of eating, napping, and shopping.

PARTIES

Before I continue our "serial vacation blog", I need to report on the past two weekends. Papa and I had attended two parties at both ends of the spectrum and I found it very amusing.

The weekend before last, we were invited to New Melle for the 50th birthday party of one of Papa's good friends from the past, wife. (That is sure ugly sentence structure, but I'm sure you get what I'm saying.)

We drove over around dusk. They live in a very rural area on top of a mountain (and I am not exaggerating when I say mountain). We made it as far as we could, about 2/3's of the way up the mountain before we had to abandon our car and start walking. This was where "side of the road" parking ended or started, however, you look at it. We knew there would be no better parking farther up the mountain. So we walked on to the top and the house and the party which was inside (upstairs and down), outside around a huge bonfire, and all around the porch which was all around the house, and more people were found by the garage, a little farther up the road. ALOT OF PEOPLE and a party remnant of Papa's wilder days evidenced by the crowd of people and the size of the crowd--Denise is a much-loved woman.

Since I knew very few people there, I engaged in people watching which was quite interesting; visualizing what these people looked like in their younger days. Now it was alot of gray hair and balding heads and there were quite a few kids (and grandkids) in tow. But these party-goers were trying their best to recapture party days of their youth---liquid (and other) libations flowed freely and there was quite a bit of Skynard mixed in with the country music now playing on the stereo blasting out over the top of the mountain. A good time was being had by all.

It was touching a few days later to receive a thank you card from the birthday woman just saying thanks for coming to her party--WOW, wonder if every one got one of these? What a lady!

Then this past Saturday night we ventured out to Jonesburg for a daytime BBQ at another of Papa's friends. Actually, this person was a childhood friend of Papa's brother but grew, over the years, to be friends with Papa as well. He is a retired St. Louis City police officer who built his dream house in the country a few years ago.

It was a beautiful drive over on a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon. Beautiful country and beautiful house he lives in. This party consisted of several different groups that Bob is involved in. He is in a Car Club (they refurbish old hot rods) and he is also a musician, playing the guitar. The music is what sucked us in this afternoon surprisingly. I figured the car club people would be the main focus of Papa's interest since he just bought his own old hot rod to refurbish.

When we arrived, there were several people sitting around playing music. Just a very long impromtu jam session. There were guitars, mandolins, yukeleles, big bass instruments (that stood up), a fiddler (different than a violinist she told us), a drummer (who looked like he was straight out of the confederacy) and a banjo.

People came and went during the day but it seemed like every new person that walked up the driveway was carrying an instrument case of some sort. What was so amazing to us was that most of these people (the musicians) didn't know each other. It started as a few who knew each other and they brought a friend who told a friend and the people kept coming. Some left to go play at some bluegrass festival close by but there were plenty of folks there to take their place. We heard everything from bluegrass and gospel music to southern rock and current popular songs.

So talented of musicians these people were. They would play a song and in between introduce themselves to the others in the group and talk about this song or that and then one would start playing and the rest would join in and no one was shy about singing. Sometimes that left alot to be desired but I envied them just bursting out in song and music.

They would play and play and then in between songs, someone would get up to go visit or get some food and another person would walk up to the group and pick up an instrument and immediately be joining in.

It was just an unbelieveable afternoon and evening and Papa and I enjoyed ourselves spending the day this way.

Those were the fun parties......I'll have to write later about our neighborhood parties......that have been going on for TEN WEEKS......but maybe I'll wait until I have a conclusion as Grammy and Papa are about to introduce our 15 year old neighbor and his mother (the MILF or so it says on her car windows in blue puffy paint) to the Franklin County Sheriff in the very near future.

Signing off after an amazing round of social activity.....Grammy

Friday, May 8, 2009

Serial Vacation - Part Deux

As our story continues, we have arrived in Phoenix, retrieved by Fantastic Son, and taken to his new house to settle in. House was very nice but we really missed Serious Girlfriend's built-in pool that was at the other house during our week.

FS lives here with SG and her three kids, three dogs, one cat, and a bird. Our dove, Chase, that I sent to live with him about 3 years ago---I found out that this sort of bird lives forever (or close to it) and he was driving us insane so it was a choice of him going to live in AZ or us "setting him free." Anyway, compared to Papa and I's calm, quiet, routine days with Snoopy, it was a wild, chaotic week.

The naming of the three: The four year old is easy---we'll now refer to her as Wild Child. Older sister is Chatty Cathy and the middle son will now be known as Still (as in Still Waters Run Deep). I've heard middle children have it rough but to be the boy between two sisters, I can imagine his pain.



"The Three" hit the door running at 3:30 and shyness occurred for all of about 30 seconds. If FS isn't working, The Three's dad drops them off from school about this time every day where FS helps them with their homework (I know, it kind of took me aback EVERY DAY when I watched this-love those skulls!) and starts dinner for the family.



I knew you wouldn't believe this without pictures!



So Wednesday night we sampled a little of their "family life".

Thursday was FS's 24th birthday and sometime while I napped that day, an unicycle was purchased by Papa for FS.



Papa owns one



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaWrguizD1o (cut and paste this in your browser for another giggle)

and believes everyone should have one and learn to ride. This Grammy is too darn clumsy to even give it a whirl and I have no circus aspirations.

We capped off the evening with a birthday dinner out.





OK, a serial needs at least three parts!!!

Until our next installment....Grammy

Thursday, May 7, 2009

THE CACTUS STATE OF AFFAIRS-SPRING 2009

Oh vacations. Don't you just love them?! We used to take 2-3 vacations a year, going to different places and seeing new sights but after a few less than pleasant experiences, we've trimmed back considerably and this is the first vacation we've been on since last July (which actually was just a long weekend in Memphis with a side trip to Mississippi). So we've been long overdue for a getaway.

Going to Phoenix doesn't actually seem like a typical vacation since we've been there (and all over the state of AZ) several times already. It's become almost a second home for us, we're so comfortable there.

We started out as usual with Papa complaining about having to miss a baseball game on Sunday. Papa plays in an old guys baseball league that goes from April until October. Although I do try to schedule activities around the 7 months of the season, I inevitably schedule something where he has to miss a game here or there and his complaining knows no end.



Papa batting.....notice the large crowds! I use to go to his games quite frequently but once made a comment about their age (just jokingly) and Papa banned me from the stands for a year. When I was allowed to return, the allure had been tabled so I go only now and again.



Here is a father/son game.....Papa is in the Browns uniform and Almost Step-Son is front and center in white sleeveless t-shirt.

Earth to Grammy----boy, what a tangent I went off there----back to vacation.....

We were using some of Papa's frequent flyer miles and let me tell you what a pain those are. From our experience they are not the least bit pleasant to use as a way of travel. You don't get to fly when you want, you fly when they say, at horrible times in the morning or night, odd days (we left on a Wednesday), connecting flights with long layovers, and you are in boarding groups that board last. It's almost like they want you NOT to use the FFM or even fly (on American).

The only positive was we got to check bags for free on the outbound flight. For some reason, they didn't honor this arrangement on our way home and no amount of arguing worked to change their minds. I've noticed several times that airline personnel are passive/aggressive. They tell you how things are and when you argue about an injustice, they just turn off and ignore you. This infuriates me but how can you argue when the other person is ignoring you. And it's not just me, with all the time I've spent in airports the last two weeks, I've noticed this alot. Must be in the training manual or something.

So our flight was for 6 a.m. (read my Dark Morning blog) which meant we needed to leave for the airport before 5 and that was pushing it close. We thought a Wednesday at that time, the airport would be deserted but we were quite wrong. It was packed with long lines at security. We were starting to worry a bit about making our flight but we did with Starbucks in hand and headed out on leg one to Dallas.

Dallas/Fort Worth airport wasn't bad, just huge and they have these Skylinks to ride on from terminal to terminal. Papa had been there before, so he was familiar with everything, but I was acting like an astonished 3 year old and embarrassing him! We did have a relatively short wait between flights on this leg and were on the plane to Phoenix before we knew it.

Since Phoenix is like a second home, Sky Harbor is as familiar to us as Lambert Airport. We maneuvered our way around there getting our bags and directing Fantastic Son to where we were waiting for his pick-up with no problems.

FS has been working sporadically most of this year due to the economy and good for us--he wasn't working during our visit, but not so good for him. He has been told work should pick up this month when some large permits are obtained by the contractors. I hope so.

We lunched (although it was only 9:30 a.m.) at a cute diner (called "5 and Diner" http://www.5anddiner.com/history.html) and went to his and Serious Girlfriend's new house.



No, they do not have Christmas decorations up still...this was taken the week they moved in just before Christmas.

Ok, we are going to do a blog mini-series now......stay tuned for our continuing saga coming soon.

Grammy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Easter

I think after Christmas that Easter is my favorite holiday. It might have something to do with the coming of spring. It was also one of my favorite holidays when I was a young girl. I remember getting all dressed up, usually at my Grandmother's house where we would travel to for that weekend. Then she would haul us all to church with her. Then we would come back for a huge Easter dinner (guess the cooking elves did that because Grandmother was with us all morning---another episode of magic from my youth!)

Perfect and Precious in their Easter finest (and woohoo Perfect posed for a picture--or maybe we got a face shot in passing.)





Anyway, after that we would (all the cousins and me) all go to the back yard (called the front yard by everyone (another odd ponderance to discuss at a later time) and hunt the Easter eggs that had been hidden by the Easter Bunny (who else? everyone was in the house eating the big Easter dinner together--or possibly more magic).

Precious...look in front of you, honey!



There you go!



Perfect's got this down pat!






Wait what's wrong with this one?



and before I end this blog, we have a running family joke about this face that I was accused of making all the time. Until I found the picture of DD and FS also making the "family face". Well, lo and behold....





It is all in the family.

Until I get another minute for more catching up.....Grammy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

HEY STRANGERS--Catchup

It's been ages since I've had any spare time to blog and I feel so bad for my two peeps! LOL. So here goes.

In a nutshell, we've had Easter and then Papa and I flew away to the cactus state to visit Fantastic Son, Serious Girlfriend, and to meet the bonus kids (I'll have to think up some names for those sweeties before too long.). And we thought we were in the throes of the Swine Flu the past few days but turns out Papa just has a nasty upper respiratory infection now. I'm not sure what the indicator is because he sure has all the flu symptoms and it worried him (and me) enough that he called the doc right away and went in Monday.

I have a neck update, pet catch-up, a retirement, and a hair incident also to discuss. And, of course, what have the P's been up to?! I'm gonna be writing for days.

First, Easter. The weekend started out with me and Perfect having some Grammy and Perfect one-on-one time to color and decorate our Easter eggs. We decided that since Precious puts EVERYTHING into her mouth, that trying to color eggs with her would be a nightmare. I could just visualize her face looking like an Easter egg, being an assortment of bright colors! Here's what dinnertime looks like on her now.



Myself, I was a bit concerned how much plastic it was going to take to cover the kitchen and Perfect before we started the egg decorating! But I decided my best bet was to put an old quilt down on the floor and we would work there. It took me considerable effort to get up and down and up and down....boy, I need some more exercise. We perserved though and got the eggs done.



So here we are getting ready to start--Perfect is covered also although not in plastic! I wanted to show that so you all don't call the child protective people on me.



After coloring, Perfect picked out the "perfect" stickers to apply.



So a successful activity for the two of us with minimal mess to clean up.

When we finished, Perfect and I capped off our evening (we had already had our Mighty Kids Meals from McD's) with a trip to the grocery store. I have always wanted to drive one of those racecar carts around and this was the perfect opportunity. Thankfully, the store wasn't that crowded because we did our share of knocking into things and people. Perfect has already learned to say "excuse me" so his tiny boy voice "excuse mes" probably kept us out of more trouble than intended.

Halfway through our shopping, DD called and said she would come to the store and pick Perfect up because they were done with their dinner out. I had to scramble after one look at my cart and say "No, we're almost done, we'll meet you at the house." I figured my choices were continuing to drive around with the racecar cart and NO child and endure nasty looks or move all the cart's contents into a regular cart so I could retain my guise as an ordinary shopper (on the outside). We were having too much fun though. (DD did advise me to watch Perfect's head as he likes to look over the side at the "wheels" and sometimes gets banged into things....we learned that the hard way before her call.)

So, who knew years ago that my current favorite Friday night activity would consist of decorating eggs with a tiny boy and then running around a grocery store driving a racecar shopping cart (sound effects and all).

And the favorite part was late in the night going to the refrigerator for a drink and seeing this.




More to come....Grammy