Sunday, December 30, 2007

Going to the Dogs!

The saga of dogs at my house has been a series of ups and downs! Two dogs that didn't get put in the house soon enough when the fireworks started one 4th of July disappeared. Frosty and Maxx got frightened, jumped fence and were never seen again. A pup that died suddenly from a case of parvo, a basset hound that I wanted to keep, but could not get to stop climbing a fence. That was a sight! But he had to go back to whence he came.

Then came a dachshund, a gift from my "first X-husband" to my daughter. She came with the name Daisy. What an awful name for a little dog. The name was quickly changed to Cinnamon. Cinny lived comfortably for several years as an only dog. Then a neighbor was getting evicted. This neighbor had an elderly Scottish Terrier, a female named Scotti (how original). The neighbor did not know where he was going and figured he would have to take Scotti to PAWS. I know the luck of older animals when they are at the shelter and told the neighbor that Scotti could stay with us. I let him know that if he found a place and wanted Scotti back, that was fine. I saw the neighbor twice after that and Scotti remained with us.

Scotti's hearing was failing. She depended on Cinny. Cinny would get Scotti when it was time to come in or when the food was put out. Cinny was an assistive animal for Scotti. Unfortunately, Cinny decided to dig out under the fence and was hit by a car at the end of our driveway. No one stopped to let us know. If Leah and I were sad, Scotti was devastated. Scotti needed a friend, so it was off to PAWS.

That's when I found Mikiya (Mikki). A cute little Spaniel mix with Papillion ears. A gentle dog that took to the role of assistive animal like a duck takes to water. Mikki quickly learned that Scotti needed her help and she was glad to oblige. Scotti eventually became totally deaf. After about five years with us, the arthritis became very bad and she had to be carried up and down steps - which also meant carried outside. A trip to the groomer meant baby aspirin so she could stand long enough to get clipped. But she still seemed happy. Two years ago, she got sick. As long as she was in the hospital on IV fluids, she did pretty well. Off the fluids, her kidneys shut down. It was with sadness and love that I held Scotti as she was given the shot that ended her life.

Mikki no longer had a job to do, no mission. She became very withdrawn. Just as Scotti had needed a dog, now Mikki needed one too. Off to PAWS again! Little dog, playmate for Mikki, young enough to be around for awhile, enter Miniya (Minni).

Minni is a ball of energy. A little terrier mix and smart as a whip. The dogs get along well together. They have a circular "rut" in the backyard where they play tag. They play tug-o-war with their toys and often curl up next to each other to sleep. They let me know quite loudly if anyone comes close to the house. They love to play and have never been aggressive toward anyone. They bark, but the tail keeps right on wagging.

Stuffed toys last about ten minutes at the most. There is a game called "Get the Damn Squeaker Out" that they play with all of them. Fetch can last for hours. They have me well trained. Although Mikki is a little taller, they are equal in weight and strength, so the winner of a tug of war match isn't known until the very end. There are days when I do not make it home to let them outside during the middle of the day. Bless their little hearts, they do not make a mess. They are ready to go outside when I get home, but they have managed to "hold" everything until I get there.

I really lucked out with these two "pound puppies".

What would we do without them......

As I peruse the forums, I am struck by the number of people who have pictures of their pets as their avatars. I know how much my animals mean to me and don't have any idea what life would be like without them. As you can see below, I recently lost a cat that had been with me nearly 16 years. Made a trip to PAWS yesterday, but I did not meet any cat that wanted to join the family enough to talk to me. My most recent addition to the family has adjusted well and is quite a lap cat (a fact that does not thrill some of the other would-be lap sitters) . Oliver is a real beauty and likes to play with the shower curtain. He basically ignores the dogs and has made friends with the other cats.

Before Oliver, Prince Gustov, better known as Gus, joined the family. Gus is also a lap sitter that made a rapid adjustment to the house. I have learned that if I have patience, the perfect animal will show up at PAWS. He has a distinctive face. Reminds me of some movie character, but I have not figured it out yet. It was the expression on his face that drew me to him. Gus is calm and loving. If not in my lap, he likes to be close by as this visit to the bathroom shows. Like most of my cats, Gus is a fairly large, long haired feline. Someday, I hope to add a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest Cat to the family. There is always room for one or two more cats at the food dishes and litter boxes!

This is Caspian. A large, short haired cat that is usually pretty shy. He has come out of his shell quite a bit and likes his share of attention and an occasional sit in a lap. He is seen here in one of his favorite hiding places - a basket/pillow that is under a small table with a floor length table cloth. He doesn't mind being disturbed as long as a little petting goes along with it. For about the first year that Caspian lived with me, he would only demand attention at bedtime. He wanted to curl up on a pillow next to my head. Since animals are no longer allowed in the bedroom, he has begun to seek attention at other times, too.

Eighteen pounds of love, that describes Trumpkin. Winter of 1993, I was visited by a big orange tomcat that moved in for the winter and left again that next spring. I had wanted a big, orange cat ever since sharing that winter with a cat we called George. Well a trip to PAWS led me to a cage with a big, orange cat named Trumpkin and his cage-mate, Caspian. They had been raised together and surrendered by their owner when a new baby joined the household. I did not have the heart to separate them, so I adopted them both. Trump is a lover and a lap sitter. He is also a nipper, and if the attention does not come fast enough, will give a little bite to let you know that he is there and wants a little lovin'. Trump has the most beautiful yellow eyes.

Sitting in the bathtub is Rush. Rush was adopted along with Leo who passed away in February 2007. Rush is an absolute hoot! He was named on the way home from PAWS. He was not meowing, he was howling and screaming! I thought what a loud, obnoxious, demanding personality - Rush Limbaugh - Rush became this beautiful cats name. He is still loud and demanding, but not obnoxious. He is a real attention seeker and a great lap warmer. He will often sit on his haunches in my lap, with a paw on each of my shoulders, like a baby giving a hug. He is a real sweetheart and still does not like to go in a cat carrier. Thank goodness, it is only once a year for the trip to the vet. He becomes obnoxious in addition to loud and demanding when the carrier is close by.

Meet Libby. A dainty little girl that almost did not make it. Libby was found at PAWS. She had an injured leg. I was allowed to take her for x-rays that showed the leg to have been shattered in at least five places. She also had an upper respiratory problem. PAWS suggested that I pick a different cat. No Way! Libby was nursed back to health, the injured leg amputated and then she was spayed. Her name is actually Liberty for obvious reasons, but Libby suits her just fine. The lack of a leg does not slow her down or keep her from getting wherever she wants to go. What a doll!

Harriet, wonderful, gentle and loving. Harriet was found as a kitten, about four months old or so in 1994. She was roaming at Harrison Homes. Someone had put a red "X" on the top of her head. I could not resist her beautiful blue eyes and brought her home. I was afraid the X was a target. Harriet requires a lot of brushing since she sheds a great deal. I think she does it on purpose for the attention. Harriet is now the second oldest of the cats, but is in good health. Leah took her to Chicago for awhile, but she did not adjust well to the change or being an only cat. When she came back home, it took her a long time to get over the trauma of the change. She is back to being herself now.

The Grand Old Man!!! Smokey was probably at least two years old when he joined the family in 1990. There is no way of knowing how old he is, but he is at least 18 or 19 years old. He sleeps a lot more now and likes to curl up in front of a heat vent in the kitchen. He was sick a couple years ago. We thought we might lose him. He spent a week in the hospital and had a slow recovery, but has regained the weight he lost and probably a little more. His coat is not as soft as it used to be. He will let you know when he has had enough - there is a special growl that says "Leave me alone". He is still referred to as the Attack Cat, a name he earned!

Cats - a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and attitudes. Not a pedigree or "papers" among them and I wouldn't trade any of them. My dogs are neat dogs, but they are not cats!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My New Year's Resolution has generally been to not make any resolutions. But I just finished reading a fellow blogger's post that has inspired me to get back in control. I haven't totally lost control, but I am losing it! Unless a person has known me for at least ten years, it is hard for them to believe the path I have been down. October 1997, I tipped the scale at 210 pounds. This was at the Doctor's visit that led to the cancer diagnosis. Chemotherapy left me with mouth sores that kept me from eating. I survived on Cream of Tomato soup and lost about 30 pounds. For some reason, chemo also changed the taste buds so that for awhile chocolate or anything sweet turned my stomach. Over time, I gained back about 10 pounds of what I had lost.

Eventually, I saw a copy of the Adkins diet book. I couldn't do Adkins, but I did cut out a lot of the sugar and other carbs. Over a period of about 14 months, I dropped down to 128 pounds. That was a psychological milestone for me. I remember being a chubby kid and being weighed at the end of 5th grade and weighing 128. As an adult, I was too thin at that weight and looked sick. I added some more carbs back to my diet. For a long time, I stabilized at around 135 and that was great. I tried to watch it pretty closely and stayed within a 10 pound range (130 - 140).

For the last several months, the sugar addiction has been hitting in full force. I am a closet addict. People normally do not see me eat the sugary things I love, but the results are there for all the world to see, like any addiction. I have not hit 145 yet, but if I do not regain control, I will. Then 150 and then, who knows. So, for that reason, I am breaking down and making a resolution for 2008.

I resolve to regain control of my addiction to sugar. I will return to what worked for me. I will "graze" on fresh fruits and vegetables during the day and eat a balanced meal at night. I will maintain my weight within my acceptable 10 pound range. When I was "grazing", I developed great metabolism and was able to indulge now and then without going off the deep end. I want to get back to that point. No, I will get back to that point.

Here's to a great 2008 for all of us!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today is the first full day of winter! Yeah! That makes us one day closer to the first full day of Spring. Winter is slow down time. Planning time, thinking time, reflection time, valuable time for those of us who seldom slow down. The argument between Me, Myself and I has already started. The more I think about it, the more I want to retire next year. That will give me a year to risk the possibility of life without insurance. It is not the 13 1/3 percent reduction in Social Security benefits that bothers me, it's the lack of insurance before Medicare would kick in. Fortunately, I am healthy and have been for the last several years. 1997 brought a breast cancer diagnosis. 1998 brought a parathyroid tumor (benign) diagnosis. 1999 brought a bone tumor (also benign) diagnosis. Since then, not even a serious common cold.

I don't think I would have too much trouble finding a part-time job to supplement Social Security and retirement savings. The finances are in pretty good shape and will be even better by November 1, 2008. I am not tired of working, in fact, I really like my job. I just don't like the stress level that goes along with it. January 2008 will make sixteen years in the same place. That's a long time. I don't see myself making it to seventeen years. It will be interesting to see how I think when it gets closer to August 1st. That's when I would have to notify Social Security that I would be retiring in three months. I know this is not the last time I will have this internal discussion, it certainly is not the first time.

For now, a tentative decision has been made - subject to change of course! November 1, 2008, I plan to be out of there and on to the great adventure of retirement!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Passage

Spring 1992, Leah and I moved into our home. That summer a cat showed up on our door step. She was a pretty gray and white cat, young, but fully grown. She seemed to make herself right at home. Leah named her Skyler because she looked like a cloudy sky. Skyler loved everybody.Where other cats may hide when strangers come into the house, Sky would make herself at home on their lap. A sweet and gentle addition to our home for 15 1/2 years. Skyler died today. Good bye, Sky.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Need To Take My Own Advice

I have not written lately. Not because of time limits. I have had plenty of time. I just did not have anything remarkable to expound on or an ax to grind. Now I realize I have an ax to grind with myself. There are a lot of "trite old sayings" that I use for myself or to assist people when they are looking for the "tree in the forest". Many of them are hold overs from when I worked at the substance abuse treatment center. "You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone" is one of my favorites. The definition of lunacy is obvious, "Doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results". To be successful we usually need to "change our playgrounds and playmates". I forgot the very one I needed.

Over at one of the local forums that will remain nameless, there is a guy (I guess it is a guy, I have no way to know for sure) that has been driving me nuts. Long, verbose posts, language meant to incite, verbal attacks on anyone who dares to disagree with his (her) view. And, damned if I didn't fall into it. Some statements were made that really angered me. I tried to respond politely, but to no avail. The confrontation continued on a couple of threads. I forgot all about, "Don't let anyone live in your head rent free". I was not only letting him (her) live in my head rent free, I also furnished the apartment and paid the utilities.

No more! My last post to any of the comments made by this individual was, "I will no longer add fuel to the flame." As much as I wanted to say a final "fuck off", I resisted. I have no need to defend my thoughts. They are mine and that is all that matters.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It Is Official!

I guess it becomes official that you are in the organization when your picture and bio go up on the organization's web site. I received an e-mail from Leah linking to her employer's web site. If you scroll down, there she is in the fifth position! New photo and cool bio.

Although being new to classroom teaching, she learned fast - she stopped and bought $20.00 worth of music for her students tomorrow. I wonder how much the average teacher spends a year getting essentials for the students?

Not only is this a great job, it is with an amazing non-profit organization who's focus is increasing participation of the minority community in classical music, as a performer or audience member. Way to go, Leah!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Visit

This evening I returned from a Thanksgiving visit with my daughter, Leah. It was good to see her. When your child moves to Detroit, you have to wonder if she is safe, given the reputation of Detroit. I loved the little neighborhood she lives in. We walked to the local Coney Island for breakfast on Friday morning. On the way back to her house, we stopped in the local bakery and picked up a couple of apple fritters for later. The bakery reminded me of Trefgzer's. A variety of shops and stores lined the street less than two blocks from her house. Old urbanism that the New Urbanists try to recreate! Their street is lined with little 1920's bungalows. The kitchen is antiquated but fun. When was the last time (if ever) that you saw a stove like the one in the picture? I guess I will have to give up some of my old pastel appliances. They will look much better in her home. That kitchen really needs the pink ice crusher and turquoise mixer. The bathroom has pink fixtures and plastic "ceramic" tile on the walls. Of course the tile is gray with pink trim! An archway takes you from the dining room to the living room. There is a little front porch to sit on while watching the world go by.

We drove through downtown Detroit a couple of times. It was clean and beautiful. I know there are areas of Detroit that are ugly, I saw some. But it was nothing like I remember from a number of years ago. On Friday, we went down to where she works. The office was closed, but the guard for tower four of the GM building let her take me up. Her office overlooks the Detroit River. She has a clear view of Windsor, Ontario. I would be daydreaming all the time. With the freeway and interstate system that crisscrosses the city, it takes longer to go from the parking deck to her office than it does to drive to work.

She has a nice young man for a mate, a challenging job, increasing music gigs and a comfortable home. She is happy. I saw it for myself and that makes me happy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Introducing Oliver


I couldn't get the newest member of the family to turn around, but my goodness he is beautiful. A friend suggested the name Oliver (ripe olive) and I think the name is going to stick. It is a strong name for a beautiful, strong kitty! Oliver arrived this evening after testing negative for feline leukemia and feline aids. He weighs in at 12 pounds. His coat is shiny and his tail is long and bushy. He has met the dogs and most of the cats. He seems to be getting along amazingly well. The dogs do not even seem to bother him much.

Very cool cat!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oops! I'm Doing It Again

February 9th of this year was a sad day. I came home for lunch and found one of my cats dead. I have no idea why Leo died. He just did. I have not gotten used to saying I have 8 cats. In my mind I still had 9. As you can tell, I love cats!

There have been numerous trips to PAWS just to "look". There have been some attractive cats, some I stopped to talk to and to pet. But none of them talked to me, until today.

I am in the process of removing some clutter from my office. Part of that clutter was a box full of printer cartridges. PAWS recycles cartridges. Good reason to pay a visit. Once the cartridges were handed over I decided to take a quick tour of the animal cages, just to say hello, of course. Past the dog cages. There were some cute ones, but easy to resist. On to the cat room. I did not make it to the puppy room.

Past the cages in the cat room. So sad, so many kittens. Tiny faces, barely audible meows and looking so sad. Climbing the cages in an effort to get closer, to get attention and to get a home. Kittens have an easier time finding homes, but some of them may not. Again, so sad. I looked at the adult cats. A beautiful long haired calico, a black and white tuxedo, various shades of tiger striped cats and a very pretty gray were curled up in corners or near the bars. Some moved when I approached their cage, some did not.

Then I heard the unspoken voice, saying "I'm here, look at me". I walked up to the cage and there he was. A large (although a little thin) long haired black cat. Fluffy tail and a shaggy mane; his fur shining like black satin. I look at his card and there is no blue dot. No one has chosen this beauty, until now. My first thought was, "No, I can't, not again!" On second thought, I took the card to the desk and waited in the little room while they went to bring him to me.

We were in the room alone. He curled up comfortably in my lap, butted his head against my hand if I stopped petting him. He let me pull apart the hair on his neck that enabled me to remove a tiny mat. We got on the floor. He played with the LED light from the flashlight on my key chain. He said meow. I said you are mine.

The papers are all filled out. I can pick him up Monday afternoon. I have called the Vet so I can have him tested for feline aids and feline leukemia before I bring him home and introduce him to the sounds and smells of his new home. I have had plenty of practice introducing a new cat to the brood. Smokey, Skyler, Harriet, Trumpkin, Caspian, Libby, Rush and Gustov will have a new housemate if all goes well. The beautiful black cat does not have a name yet, but will likely have one by the time we are home from the Vet. I am thinking he is an "Oliver", but I am not sure yet.

Mikki & Minni will notice that there is a new cat to chase, they will sniff, bark once or twice and then curl up on the couch as usual.

Nine cats and two dogs make a house full of love and fun. I hope the kittens find a loving home. I know one large, long haired black cat has.

Yes, I did it again. Welcome home kitty.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Clicked to Quick

My daughter Leah and her boyfriend, John
My son Brian with his wife Sherri and my grandbaby, Angie.

As I was going through the "dashboard" list of my posts, I clicked a button, and poof - I wiped out a tribute to my kids. Since then, the spirit has not moved me to post. I want to re-write one, but it needs to be right and I need to be in the right mood to do it justice. I have great adult children, who seem to have turned out pretty damned well, considering the parents they were blessed with!

I am back at work after being gone for two weeks, so I have been a little swamped and a lot overwhelmed. That has also impacted the brains ability to put sentences together.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cracked, not broken

I cracked! I posted on the forum. Just as I sometimes bite my tongue to avoid saying something, I tired of biting my fingers to stop from typing something. I admit to lurking on the forum since my last post on 10/26. There were a few times I nearly posted because I thought I had something to add to the thread and other times a smart-*ss comment came to mind. I resisted as long as I could. I cracked!

Cracked, yes - broken NO! Sitting back and doing (saying) nothing is something I did many years ago and I have struggled with that history for a long time. Staying out of that trap is part of the reason I started this blog in the first place. It has never been easy for me to "put myself out there". Posting on the forum was another step in that effort.

Attending the Blogger Bash on Tuesday was a giant leap in that direction. I am usually leery of social situations where I don't know anyone - old insecurities crop up! I finally convinced myself that fellow bloggers were not total strangers - I knew something of them from their blogs or their posts and I really wanted to actually meet many of them. I am so glad I went, even if I was at the "girl's table". They were some very nice, intelligent, funny, and interesting "girls" if I may say so.

Yes, I cracked. Not to have would have been to be broken.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Accomplished a "first" today! I removed the extension ladder from the garage, extended it high enough to reach the gutters and cleaned the areas that needed it! Maybe I will stop getting water in the basement when it rains and will not get an ice dam this winter. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is to me. In the past, I have paid (or coerced) people to clean the gutters for me or they didn't get cleaned. I could have done that again, but I have a ladder and cleaning the crap out of the gutter and downspout is not rocket science. Whether I could or could not afford to pay someone is not the issue, I do not like to pay people to do what I can do, even if I have never done it before. There is a real sense of accomplishment in tackling a job like that! I even cleaned up the mess.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Almost Did It

I almost made a post on PeoriaDotCom a bit ago. I almost posted in reference to Halloween Activities. Dream Center Peoria is hosting Fear Factor from 6 to 8:30 PM Wednesday. Food, games, fellowship and prizes. It is being held in the gym at their facility (the old YMCA). Someone posted "notice the civility on the forum now", I wanted to post, "Not civil, boring!" At least to me. Doesn't mean it was to everyone. As I think about it, perhaps "bland" is a better word. I do miss posting and I may again if there is a thread that has any "meat" to it, or if I think I have something useful to add to a topic. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and fairly literate. I have lived long enough to have had a lot of experience - both good and not so good. If I post again, there will most likely be some snide remarks (if a few folks are still around), but that's OK.

I have my own internal conflicts to get past before I can comfortably post again. I am working on it. I wish the forum well. I think it helped a couple of people get some direction on job hunting and to find out what kind of activities were available in the Peoria area. Some of the threads got me thinking about issues - until it seemed to me that there was an impasse and one side started insults toward the other side for their beliefs or opinions. Seems to me that there could have been an agreement to disagree rather than trying to "beat them into submission". I guess politics and religion aren't safe topics. I learned about some interesting blogs and web sites that I didn't know otherwise. Some threads were really fun. I enjoyed the "famous phrases" one. My previous experience with forums have been single issue or work related. Maybe I didn't know what to expect.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm Ready

It is nearly 58 degrees outside and a little more inside the house. I have readied the nest for winter. New jersey knit sheets are on the bed, my favorite blue down comforter rests on top of the sheets. The plastic has been placed on all the windows and the caulking completed in the basement. I just finished reversing the direction on the ceiling fans. I have a $241.66 credit built up at AmerenCILCO (and have not yet paid any this month, but I will). There are a couple more tasks that need to be completed next week. I have new insulation to put around the water pipes and there is a basement window covering that needs to be secured from the outside. If the temperature actually gets to the mid or upper 60's on Tuesday, I may drag out the extension ladder and tackle one area of guttering that tends to back up and has caused ice dams in the past.

Made a trip across the river. Bought a new space heater to take the chill off rather than run the furnace as much. Between electricity and gas prices, you never know which way to go. Also bought new light bulbs for the front porch. The old one still worked, but it was getting dimmer from dirt and dust. I will clean it and use it again later if I need it.

My internal clock was ready for the time change that normally happens the last weekend of October. I didn't fully wake up until about 7:30 this morning. I would have been right on schedule if the clock had "fallen back" as it would have last year. Maybe I will be as ready for the time change next Sunday as I was today!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Today's Ramble

I am reusing the title in an effort not to repeat the whole blog entry of 10/14/07. really fell apart. The Bible thumping, ultra-conservatives have hijacked not just a thread, but the entire forum. The "see how great I am" folks have made asinine comments in the middle of serious discussions. Like several others, I have made my last post. Anything that I might post would be discounted anyway.

Otherwise, I survived the week away from work. That is a strange way to view "vacation". I miss it when I am not there. One more week to go. Birthday has come and gone. I am a year closer to retirement. Not sure how I will handle that. I really think I will end up finding a job somewhere else to fill my time and wallet! Got the word today that Social Security has the lowest COL increase in several years - 2.3% I think it was. Right now, it looks like I could make it with the 20% cut that early retirement would mean. I may just quit after the first of the year and go job hunting. Who knows what will happen in the next few years. As long as I remain healthy, I will most likely work to supplement SS and pension funds. It is either work or volunteer at the animal shelter. The only problem with PAWS is that I would want to bring most of them home - especially all the large, long haired cats. I really do not want to be the neighborhood "crazy cat lady".

Got calls from both of the kids yesterday. Brian is fine other than sore muscles from chopping fire wood. His wife has a sinus infection and the little one is recovering from a cold. Otherwise all is well. Angie has selected a "favorite toy" from those received for her 2nd birthday. You never know what a little one will really like!!

Leah wrote her letter of resignation. The boss was not around much, so she ended up leaving it in his "in-box" and leaving a message on his cell phone. She finds it hard to quit. She enjoyed her co-workers and the work wasn't bad, but the opportunity to work with The Sphinx Organization was just too good to pass up. This will probably be the biggest challenge she has ever faced as far as employment goes, but also the most rewarding in the long run.

The kids are really too old to be called kids, but no matter how old they are (or I am) they will always be "my kids". Great kids at that!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day Four

I am scheduled to be off work next week too! Don't know if I can do it or not. I see to be trying to eat my way through these days off! Don't have this problem at work, but this is terrible. Will try to get back to normal with the food tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day Two

Time off - day two! The car went in for a minor repair this morning. The darn little scoop on the front of the car hits curb stops and drags on my driveway when I make a left turn into it. It was beginning to sag. It is back in place now, but unless I take it really slow, it still drags on the driveway! Right turns only, I guess. From there, it was off to get an oil change and tire rotation. Two more oil changes and then it is time for one of those service appointments that cost big bucks - at least it sounds like big bucks to me.

Back home to watch lesson 13 of the class I have to take for work. There are 16 sessions in all and then the test that has to be taken by 11/28. There are a couple of them I want to watch again before test time.

Then to the yard for a little outside time. Mowed the front yard. Glad I have a mulching mower. It eliminates the need to rake a lot of the leaves - of course there isn't much front yard left since I have planted flowers in most of it. Did gather up enough leaves to fill one landscape waste bag. Had to go out back and cut up a fallen branch from a hated elm tree. Have to go back out with the pruning saw to finish the job where the limb was too big for the pruner. Have to make sure the bundles are tied well, not over five feet long and weigh less than 50 pounds! Don't want to piss Waste Management off!

Watching a little of CNN's coverage of the fires in California! Such devastation. My heart goes out to the people in the way of the fire and those who have lost everything.

Guess I will gather up the scissors, twine and pruning saw so I can finish the task I started earlier. I would rather procrastinate, but I will finish the job I started. This time!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Time Off

Tomorrow is the first of 10 days off work. It will seem strange to sleep in on a Monday morning. I think I can manage, though. Have been working on a web based class for work and had not been able to access it from home, but I reset the computer and now I can. I guess I will work on the classes while I am off work. I was afraid I would have to go to the office, shut the door, and watch the classes from there. I am glad I will not have to do that, home is much more comfortable.

Have not taken any time off this year. Have been going in on Saturday mornings since the Dream Center started coming down to Taft Homes for their adopt-a-block program. Those folks are amazing. I have not minded going in to unlock for them at all. It has been a challenging year and the Dream Center has been a highlight of the year.

In its infinite wisdom, congress has instructed HUD to begin operating public housing like a private market business. As hard as we try to make it work, it seems like a lost cause. Not many private businesses can survive with 85% of the income that it takes to run the business! All we can do is the best we can do! I have said from the beginning that this was congress' way of signing the Death Certificate for public housing. I hope it survives the turmoil. The "general public" has no idea how many really good people live in public housing. They get up and go to work...sometimes not the best jobs. They may be working as a CNA in a nursing home, making beds at a hotel, calling you to collect on an overdue bill or serving you your dinner at a restaurant. Not the jobs that most of us want to do, but ones that need to be done. Many residents are students. ICC, Robert Morris College or a G.E.D. program, it doesn't matter. They are trying to make a better life for their families.

Not everything is rosie. There are problems, but the number of "problem residents" is much lower than the community thinks! Most of the problems come from the "outside" rather than from the "inside".

I have worked in public housing for nearly 16 years. There used to be grants for programs and modernization. Those funds have gone away. Taft Homes was modernized in the early 90's. Our furnaces are obsolete and need to be replaced. We can no longer get thermocouples for the majority of the water heaters, also obsolete. Funding cuts have led to massive lay-offs. We have two maintenance people. We share a carpenter, painter and plumber.

I will miss being at work. It will not be far from my thoughts!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday, Monday

Thanks to Kevin for teaching me to delete the comment I was concerned about and for adding Ramble On to his blog roll. Being a relative "Newbie" it is reassuring to find out that the blog is beginning to be read a little.

This was almost a do-nothing day. I am usually very motivated at work, but today was such a beautiful day that I wanted to be home. It was perfect weather to be in the yard (and it needs work). Plastic is on the windows in the living room. The dining room is next and then on to the upstairs.

It must have been a rough day in Doggie Land today. Mikki and Minni are both asleep on the couch and snoring loudly. It is a fun sound and makes me smile! Rush, one of the cats, is in my lap purring very loudly. He earned his name on the way home from PAWS - loud, demanding and obnoxious - Rush for Rush Limbaugh, of course!

Leah had an interview with the Sphinx Organization today. I hope it went well for her. They did call her and ask for her references. Thursday, she has an interview with the Detroit Symphony. Both jobs involve education and outreach into the urban schools. If neither comes through, she will be stuck with being the Administrative Assistant at Wold Architects until the "Dream Job" comes along.

Busy week this week. Tomorrow evening is East Bluff Housing Services Board Meeting, Wednesday is East Bluff United Neighborhood Association and Thursday is the last of the Public School Forums. I really hope that Glen Oak parents show up for the forum. Too many of these forums have been the neighborhood loud-mouths (like me) showing up and not enough of the parents who's children will be impacted by whatever decision the board makes (or has already made).

Good day for aluminum cans at work today. Ended up with five garbage bags of cans to crush. I will be ready to take cans to Miller's before the week is out. The residents are really getting into the "Can Kitty". It is great to see them come together with this effort. We have been able to make 10 micro-loans so far. All but four have been paid back and they are not due yet!! When you have nothing, $10.00 can help out a great deal. The "general public" has no idea how many good things take place at Taft. It was a little disappointing that Clyde Gulley did not show up at the last resident meeting. He was to have been our guest. No show, no call. Does that mean that his constituents at Taft do not matter. I sure hope not! Chief Settinsgaard is to be our guest at the November meeting - that should be interesting. I am glad he accepted the invitation.

I am looking forward to some time off from work. Have not missed a day all year and am taking two weeks off. Not planning on doing much except make a long weekend trip to Detroit and relax around home. Actually, it will probably drive me nuts to be away from work and will probably end up going in several times to make sure everything is going OK. I am sure it will, but delegating has never been one of my best attributes! Have to learn to let go!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Unwelcome Comment

I have no idea if I can delete just a comment, but I am not happy to have what appears to be an X-rated comment on my last post. If this is what I get, I may have to stop posting on this site. I would not like to have to do this, but......

Today's Ramble

I have been reading (and making a few posts on) I am amazed at the animosity that develops. It is one thing to disagree with someone - I often do, but to resort to the level of anger that is apparent is something I do not understand. An intelligent debate, I can appreciate, but when it disintegrates into questioning intelligence and name calling, I get very frustrated. It seems that some members of the "community" post just to see their name in print. My opinion - no more, no less. Perhaps there are histories and relationships there that I don't know about and that could explain some of the interaction. I do know it is the last place I would go to ask for information. I will likely stop making posts and eventually, stop reading It really does not make a good impression of the attitudes in the community.

On a happy note, I see that Ramble On is listed on The Peoria AntiPundit's site. Thank you! Emtronics opinion and blog are appreciated. One of the few voices of reason on the local blog scene. Again, my opinion! Peoria Pundit, Peoria AntiPundit and Peoria Chronicle are the three major reads for me. Chef Kevin, Ahl Things Considered and Merle Widmer's Peoria Watch are also checked fairly frequently. Beyond those six, any others pretty much mean I am bored. I like getting perspectives of what is going on in Peoria.

Where I live (East Bluff), where I work (PHA) and my age (almost 63) certainly influence my interests and activities. I have a house full of animals (8 cats and 2 dogs), shop at WalMart, love the dollar stores (Dollar Tree & Deals), eat out at affordable places and look for bargains everywhere I shop. My kids are grown and pretty much lead their own lives. I try not to intrude into their private matters but will give my opinion if asked.

It is a beautiful fall day. And since I live in an old house (with its original windows) it is a good day to start putting the plastic on the windows. Have caulked around a couple of basement windows and put new "V" strip on the front and back doors. Kitchen windows are done! Will try to get the pantry and living room done before the day is out.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

On A Happy Note

My daughter,Leah, and her "significant other", John, got here last night. Actually arrived at about 12:30 this morning. They had driven straight through from the Detroit area after they got off work. I had gone to sleep on the couch so I could be sure to hear them. So good to see them.

Leah and I went shopping for a bit this morning while John assembled the Roadmaster (Little Red Wagon) that is to be a birthday gift for my Granddaughter. Angie turns two on 10/10/07 but the celebration is tomorrow (Sunday). Near record high temperatures predicted for tomorrow, but at least the rain is out of the forecast. The birthday celebration is in Oreana, where my son, Brian, and his wife, Sherri, live. Leah and John will be driving back to Detroit from there. Coming back to Peoria is totally out of the way.

Went to lunch today at Haddad's. The "young ones" had a taste for Middle Eastern food. I am glad they did, it really hit the spot. You know the children have hit adulthood when they finally start buying the parent's lunch! :) They are out visiting friends now and I am here making sure I remember their visit!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A School, A School

My neighborhood for a school? District #150 has managed to get the Illinois State Board of Education to say that they MUST close four schools - four neighborhood schools that are important to their neighborhoods. Harrison School is to be built across the street from its current location, thus adding a tremendous amenity to a depressed neighborhood. Irving School serves the Near Northside and is in the heart of the Hispanic neighborhood. Many parents walk their children to school and there is a dedicated staff and volunteer network. Neighborhood needs the school. Kingman School in the heart of a fairly stable Northside/Averyville Neighborhood. Concerned neighborhood, dedicated teachers and a vital part of the area. Neighborhood needs the school. Glen Oak School serves the East Bluff and is in the heart of a struggling neighborhood . There is a concerned neighborhood, dedicated teachers and a committed volunteer network. Neighborhood needs the school.

According to District #150, there is money for only one school. Should one neighborhood be stabilized and two neighborhoods decimated? Should it be built as part of a "campus" with Woodruff and Lincoln School and decimate all three neighborhoods? The phrase "mega school" came up at the neighborhood forum tonight. Scary thought. Mega school brings up an image of depersonalization.

The school board insists that no decision has been made at this point. Sounds good, but very hard to believe. Yes, they are getting input from the neighborhoods, but how much attention will be paid to that input? Does it make any difference? Looks good on paper. "We met with the neighbors." "The all wanted the same thing." "We had to go to a location between them. that is the only way to treat the neighborhoods equally". Decimate them all! Build a mega school campus. Watch and see! I will be surprised if the mid-December decision by the board says, "The school will be built in the Lincoln Middle School/Woodruff High School campus." Good bye to three neighborhood schools. Hopefully it will not be good bye to three neighborhoods.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Deja Vu, Again

Another murder and probably another silent community. Two people shot in the 1200 block of East Kansas, one is dead and one is in the hospital. Not much on the news yet, but I am sure the rants and raves that blame the victims will again be profuse. No one deserves this kind of street justice. My sympathies go out to the families.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


On the eve of October 1st, I relish the thought of fall. The fall colors, although I am not sure how good they will be this year. Took a ride this afternoon - part of Grandview Drive, down Forest Park Drive, north to Detweiller Golf Course and boat launch, through Detweiller Park, north and west to Dunlap and back to Peoria. Almost no pretty trees yet!

This October I turn 63. It does not seem possible. I don't feel old, but there is just not enough years between now and then. My one and only grandchild turns two in October and I really hope to see her grow up. October 6th marks the 10 year anniversary of cancer surgery. All clear and I feel blessed. October is a month full of celebrations (except for Halloween). Halloween is the one night of the year when my porch light and house lights are off. The greedy teenagers ruined the fun for me.

Each of the seasons has special meaning for me. Fall is my time to finish up the tasks I have been putting off, it is the "wind down" time. Winter is the time to rest and reflect. Not a lot of time to do it, but I try. Spring is for planning and new beginnings and Summer is time to "Get 'er done". I would really miss not having all four seasons, even though I complain about the heat/humidity and cold/snow/ice. I guess, hitting 63 means I am in the Fall part of life. Wind down, put things in order, simplify and plan for a very LONG Winter. Damn, I don't usually get that philosophical, but I guess it doesn't hurt once and a while.

Next weekend will be a good one. With the grandchild's birthday, I will have both of my adult kids in the same place at the same time. That does not happen very often. After living in Santa Barbara, CA for several years, my daughter has moved back to the mid-West (if suburban Detroit counts as mid-West) and will be driving down for the weekend. Have not seen her since early June and am looking forward to the visit. Her significant other is going to try to put the Roadmaster Red Wagon together. With a big, red bow on the handle, it will make a great birthday present. Maybe we can get a Teddy Bear to put in it!!

Ah, October!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

How Do They Do It

I try to read a lot of the local blogs on a daily basis. Some have had no new posts for months and several have multiple posts daily. Guess my interests aren't broad enough, my brain not fast enough and the body just plain too worn out! I don't know how the regular bloggers can do it!

My days are pretty much the same. Off to work early in the morning (if 7:30 is early), lunch at the desk and heading home by around 5:30 (if I am lucky). Saturday work is only from about 8 AM til 12:30 PM. The rest of the day is mine!!! Sometime before dark, I try to get the "litter picking" completed around my block. Nighttime is spent reading blogs, listening to the TV, checking the PJ Star website and chatting on line - sounds facinating, doesn't it?!

Sunday is up for grabs! Sunday Morning news programs, a few (ha-ha) computer games, maybe a little house cleaning and laundry (reality sets in), an occasional nap, more reading and chatting and a lot of doing nothing that I can remember on Monday morning. This past Sunday, I visited my son, daughter-in-law, and Grandbaby (she is almost 2 years old). That meant a trip to Oreana and taking them to brunch at Home Town. Good to see them. I don't make the trip often enough. Great little family and I'm very proud of all three of them!

This evening's highlight was a phone conversation with my daughter who recently moved to the Detroit area from Santa Barbara. The trips to visit her in Santa Barbara were great. Not necessarily looking forward to short vacations in Detroit. Love seeing her (and her significant other), but sure don't see Detroit as being a vacation destination! She started a new job today. Has to make a living while trying to make a life as a musician. Has her first paying gig this weekend, so I guess it is working.

Have the chicken in the slow cooker. It will become the BBQ that will serve as the evening meal each day until it is all gone. Do not like to cook and try to limit the activity to once a week. I am also very grateful to paper plates, as doing dishes is not a favorite activity either. With 10:30 PM rapidly approaching, the final ritual begins. Make a fresh pot of coffee for the thermos, put the dogs in the garage for the night, sit on the porch for a few minutes and head for bed. Usually asleep by the time Nightline is over. Tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today - but for some reason, it is not dull or boring. I like my job, I like my home and I like my life. Contentment is a blessing! Feeling very content tonight.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


As I approach another birthday, I am getting one year closer to being able to retire. There are so many decisions to be made. Do I wait for full retirement (a little over three years), wait for Medicare (a little over two years) or say the hell with it, take my chances and pick a date? I thought about checking out of the full-time workforce at 62, but that 25% cut in Social Security was impossible to deal with. The other alternative is to keep on going. There is some benefit to that. Besides the obvious, work keeps me busy, I actually enjoy going to work and it keeps me from being the neighborhood "cat lady".

I began to simplify several years ago. A lot of things went to the curb to become someone else's possession. I recently gave away most of the "dress clothes" (I kept the little black dress and the little red dress that has never been worn). There is all that calculating to figure how much money is needed to continue to live in the fashion I have been accustomed to - certainly nothing fancy and my tastes are simple. I have no burning desire to leave a monetary legacy for the kids - they already have best legacy - values and principles that have made them responsible adults - anything else they will have to get on their own. No fancy funeral - after all usable parts have been donated, the rest of me turns to ashes.

I would love to have the kids take the ashes up in a hot air balloon and release them over a lake or river somewhere. But heck, they can bury them in the back yard for all it really matters! Enough of that, I have no intention of being morbid at this point in my life. Life is good. I am healthy and have plenty of loving housemates. All four legged (with the exception of Libby, the three legged cat). I don't think I was cut out for two legged housemates. Too many complications!!!

Who knows what I will end up doing, I sure don't. I guess I will know when the time is right. I wonder if most people who reach "near retirement" age go through these internal arguments about the ultimate decision regarding retirement or is it just me? I am sure Me, Myself and I will have this discussion several times over the next couple of years. May even become a heated argument!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Deja Vu

Here in Peoria, Illinois, it seems like we are stuck in the 60's. There have been 15 homicides since the first of the year. This does not count a questionable shooting by Peoria's Finest. This situation has deepened the racial divide that has plagued the city for years. Any progress that may have been made, seems to have been wiped out. Negative steriotypes have replaced common sense. "Blame the victim" is the name of the game. Doesn't seem to matter if there is any reason for the blame.

The local "news rag" allows comments to be posted. These have often turned into vile slurs, veiled threats (some not so veiled) and White Supremacy rhetoric. Families of the victim are ignored, to a great extent. I, for one, hope they never read the posts as they would serve to be knives to the heart of a grieving family. Eventually, some of the posts are pulled, but not before the damage is done.

The cold-blooded murders in Newark, NJ points to the fact that the problems are wide spread and not limited to one race. Every death is sad. Death due to violence lends the additional sadness of the dark side of racial unrest and the impact of gangs / drugs on our daily lives.

There aren't enough police anywhere to stop someone who is determined to perpetrate violence. Line the street with officers and someone will get shot in the alley. Parental responsibility - only works when the parents are actually responsible and the youth is willing to listen.

Eventually, personal responsibility must become an issue. It is tempting to offer solutions, but to do so is ridiculous. If there were a single problem, it might be possible. There are many problems and each violent situation involves a diverse set of problems. My responsibility is to become involved, to report what I see - from truancy, curfew violation to "man with a gun". I understand the silence, but without a community wide voice that says, "enough is enough", no change will happen. Let us rise together to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, then let us take the the personal action that says we mean it! There are many agencies and churches that have programs that could make a difference. It doesn't always take money, but it does take time!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not Enough to Go Around

It seems that the economy is strong, but with all proceeds of the growth going outside the U.S., many Americans are in a really sad shape. Not enough food inspectors to keep our food safe to eat. Not enough funding for the FDA to get new medication approved. Product safety is a question with the shortfall at the Consumer Product Testing Commission. Companies are in another round of lay-offs. I am more involved in local issues, drugs, gangs, crime, preserving older neighborhoods and quality of life issues. Lack of federal assistance makes it difficult to tackle the local problems. Let alone the national problems!

Being in Illinois makes it a double whammy. Rod Blag, the governor and a democrat is off the wall. More taxes, more gambling and very little accomplished. Electric rates have gone through the roof, although the cities are only approaching what the Rural Electric Cooperatives have been charging for years. The middle class has all but disappeared.

Our elected officials need to learn that charity begins at home. Great to help the desperate people of the world, but there is a lot of desperation right here in the U.S.A.

First effort

Have thought about starting a blog for some time. Don't know if I have the patience for it or not. I enjoy reading other blogs and making an occasional comment. I do not have an axe to grind or no brilliant conversation to share. Kids are grown and gone. I have filled the house with animals - right now, 2 dogs and 8 cats. Being twice divorced, I have come to believe that four-legged beings make better housemates that two-legged ones! It is great to come home at the end of the day to a warm welcome and no need to be nice!