A Little Ray of Sunshine

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pissed at the Gas Company (for helping Big Brother)

Italics are my opinions and additions interspersed.
Included with my gas bill is a pamphlet: The Gatekeeper Program. Or, how you can screw up the life of an elderly person living near you.
"Gatekeeper is a program designed to bridge the gap between needy elderly and social service agencies."
Excerpted from "Situations/Signals that would indicate a referral to the Area Agency on Aging".
Recent loss through death of relative/friend
Death of pet(s)
Continual life review/reminiscing
Loss of hearing, sight
Low income
Lack of social relationships
Person living alone over age 75

(There are many others, some of which I would suggest occasion a call to a relative of the person, such as chronic physical illness and unable to go outside to grocery or drug store.)

"If you observe any combination of these signals, a call needs to be placed to the Area Agency on Aging. If the individual in need is unable or unwilling to call, please make the call for them. You can request to remain anonymous.
"When making a referral to the AREA AGENCY ON AGING, please include the following information:
name of the elderly person
phone number (if possible)
"reason" you feel the person needs help"

You are supposed to call the Southeast Idaho Council of Governments. The address would indicate that it is near or in the County Courthouse.

Is it just me that has a problem with this? I think I need to ask my elderly next-door-neighbor if she does. She's lived in her home for 65 years, and raised her three kids there. She's lived alone for over ten years since her husband died. Let's see, she lives alone, she's certainly over 75 (unless she was under ten when she married and moved there) she reminisces all the time, and she's hard of hearing. It usually takes yelling "Hello" three times before she responds. Lately, she hasn't been around much, she's been over at her daughter's place helping her daughter recover from chemotherapy.
This scares me. We're supposed to call, anonymously, if we "observe any combination of these signals". So now, if you're elderly, you better not trust anyone. Oh, wait, that might lead to "lack of social relationships" and get you informed on. This is just screwed up.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Father-Daughter gifts

My husband just walked out the door, tool box in hand. He and Dad spent much of yesterday trying to put a new computer in the old Buick. They are going to work on it some more today. Apparently the computer is in a rather inaccessible place under the dashboard, and attached by non-standard screws.
As my husband walked out, I commented "That was a great gift, wasn't it?"
He gave me a funny look, the 'What on Earth is she talking about?' look.
"The tool box. Dad gave me that." I said.
"Oh, yeah. I didn't realize it was from him."
After numerous exchanges of 'Bye-bye' and 'Luff-you-too' with Beau, he was off to work on the car. Hemi's got a nasty cough, so the boys and I are staying home, and I thought, well, for all Dad and I often don't see eye to eye, he's come up with some great gifts over the years. Most of my favorites were as a pre-teen or teen. I guess I was probably not your stereotypical teen.
The best gift, of course, was the 20 gauge shotgun. Probably after that would be the spinning rod, then the tool box, then the fly-fishing rod. The tool box has certainly been used the most over the years. Dad made sure I knew how to use the tools in it, even though I never did get the names straight! (It's a waterfall wrench? A canal wrench? Whatever--it has something to do with water! But I know how to adjust it and use it, and it's had plenty of use.) As a girl, I kept rabbits--as many as eighty at a time, during the summer, when the kit mortality rates were low. So I have the wire cutters and cage clip tool in that box, too, though I don't use them anymore.
The spinning rod has been used a lot, too. Mom and Dad have a creek in their back yard. My dad loves to fish, as does my husband, my father-in-law, my husband's best friend, my husband's younger brother, my husband's younger brother's father-in-law, well, you get the idea. Nearly everyone we know fishes, and it's a child-friendly activity when we go to a reservoir. Or have one of the three grandmas handy to watch the boys. (That would be my mom, his mom, and his younger brother's mother-in-law.) Beau likes to 'fish', too, but being two, he does it with a stick. And spending a day fishing with the inlaws got me more 'Good Daughter-in-law' points.
The shotgun has been used less--I used to hunt with my dad and mom, and assorted labs, but since Beau was born, I haven't been hunting. I'd rather not have to use it for anything other than hunting, but that's not up to me. Still, so far, it's only been used for hunting.
The fly rod hasn't been used much at all, but it probably will be used more in the future. My greatest catch so far was Dad's hat! He should've known better than to stand behind me when he was trying to teach me to cast in the driveway. It's been good for laughs, and as the boys get older, I should have more fishing time to experiment with it. I never used it much when I was at home because my folks' creek isn't suitable for fly casting.
I've also gotten lots of hunting and fishing licenses from Dad over the years, and those are always appreciated. And then, there was one year when Mom and Dad indulged my liking for physics, and gave me books, Principles of Physical Cosmology by Peebles, Black Holes and Time Warps by Thorne, and a whole pile of others. They are still scattered over my bookshelves, mixed with dictionaries and other reference material, across from the shelves that hold the Bradbury and Heinlein, and all the other science fiction, which was another gift from Dad. Mom, to this day, thinks science-fiction equals romance equals porn. I will grant that she is right about much of what goes by the name of science fiction, but there is plenty that is not. And Dad shared Verne, Wells, and all the other old greats with me. We buy each other science fiction for birthdays, now. In fact, for his most recent birthday, I gave him "The World Turned Upside Down" compiled by David Drake, Jim Baen, and Eric Flint. Much of it was a walk down memory lane for Dad.
My husband likes to say that life is about making memories, because no one can take your memories from you. That is what all the great gifts Dad has given me have in common: the memories we've made with them.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Surprise

Back a year ago, we were living in another place. I was seven months pregnant, we were shopping around for a minivan, and my husband had hit the degree ceiling at work. That is, he wasn't gonna get promoted because he didn't have a bachelor's degree. So, he'd applied to a couple different schools, and we were waiting to see what was going to happen.
Well, he got accepted, and got a financial aid package we figured we could survive on, so we shelved the minivan shopping, packed everything up, and moved. But we were still relying on the '93 Buick Century to get around. Now, it's a good reliable little car, but the key word there is little. It's all you can do to fit two car seats in it, and once they're in, there's only room for one passenger unless the second is really skinny and can fit between the car seats. We figured it'd last another three years or so until he got the degree, and then we'd get a minivan, and we'd just have to hope we didn't have another baby in the mean time.
Now we're living about fifteen minutes from my folks here, they're out in the country and we're down in town. They both teach at the university, and Mom works with international students. Two weeks ago she gave us a call. One of her students had graduated and was leaving for Taiwan in a couple weeks, and needed to sell her '95 Ford Windstar NOW. Mom and Dad would be happy to help us pay for it, and we could pay them back when we had the money . . . part when we sell the Buick, and the rest whenever. Well, great! It needed a pile of work--front brake discs, tie rods, etc.--but that was okay because the girl selling was willing to drop the price accordingly.
We can fit the kids in, without them being able to torment each other, and no one can kick the back of the driver's seat. We can even take passengers. Or haul stuff. My dad's a child of the Great Depression: my parents' place is as good as a junk store for finding useful things. I mean, Dad's probably got at least three of everything. All you have to do is dig. And the price is great--"Just don't bring it back here. Ever."
Sometimes, things just work out when you least expect it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

If they were in daycare yesterday we wouldn't have . . .

Beau wouldn't have slept late because he's getting over a cold. They wouldn't have passed a happy half-hour eating cheerios together on the kitchen floor while I washed dishes. Hemi wouldn't have climbed up the stairs a dozen times before noon. They wouldn't have wrestled together on the living room floor. Beau wouldn't have helped mix biscuits and scramble eggs for lunch. They wouldn't have eaten lunch with Mommy and Daddy. Hemi wouldn't have dozed off for his afternoon nap in Daddy's arms. Beau wouldn't have taped eight new words to his word wall to learn. We wouldn't have read Go Dog Go and Diggers and Dumpers at least three times each. We wouldn't have walked over to the little butcher store five blocks away to get some hamburger and Parmesan cheese. We wouldn't have bumped into Poppa (my father) there, picking up steaks and fresh fish. Hemi wouldn't have dozed off in his stroller on the way back. Beau wouldn't have labeled every car, truck and van that passed us as we walked. We wouldn't have met the lady with the two half-grown standard poodles.
Some folks may have no choice but to put their children in daycares, but none of us should ever pretend, or let others get away with pretending, that those children are doing and learning the same things they would be at home, let alone learning more than they could at home.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Childrearing and other thoughts

There are so many children that you see every day who are brats. What are parents thinking? I am sure Beau would love to be a brat. bratiness isn't allowed. Why do people let their kids act like that?
We live in Mormonville. While that creates some issues, namely that of dwelling among vast numbers of people who do not share our beliefs, children are valued here. A lady whose daughter had played in the High School Orchestra with me years ago approached us in Walmart to admire our children. "You are rich." she said. Where we lived before, a small university town, we got the "Haven't you people ever heard of birth control?" line. When you have two children and people ask you that, you really have to wonder.
How many words does a child have to know before you say he can read? Beau can read at least a dozen. We have the alphabet and a bunch of words taped to the wall. Well, sometimes they're taped to the wall. More often they are pulled off to be played with. Hemi gets labeled with his name, Baby, and Brother pretty regularly. Beau likes to bring words to where ever Daddy or I are working. "Mommy! Pizza?" he says, bringing 'Pizza' over. "Yes, Beau, Pizza. Put it back on the word wall, please." He runs off. "Mommy! Mommy?" he says, bringing the next word he knows. He knows words relating to family, food, furniture, and certain actions he is asked to perform regularly, please and thank you, and feeling words that he uses. I decide which words to put on the wall based on how well he uses them. Hemi just likes to eat them when Beau doesn't put them up high enough.
To brag on Hemi, though, he can actually say one word. That is, he pronounces it clearly, at the appropriate time, without someone else saying it first for him to echo. This word is "Uh-oh." For instance, he will be sitting in his high chair, playing with a toy. He pushes the toy off the tray. He leans over the edge, looks at the toy on the floor. "Uh-oh!" he says. Aside from meals he gets stuck in the high chair sometimes when I am cooking or cleaning and Daddy is not available to watch him. Making fries or doughnuts and having a baby underfoot is just not happening here.
Well, I have got plenty to do. We got the bookcase, and my husband bolted it to the wall, so now I need to put books on it. There are always dishes, and since today is Monday, the sheets need to be washed. And did I mention there are always dishes?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Off to the races

A week and a half ago, Hemi was at the rocking back and forth on hands and knees stage. Then, one day, he figured out how to crawl. Yesterday, he discovered that he can crawl up stairs! Well, that's all just fine, except that the first six steps of the staircase are completely open to the room beside them, and Hemi hasn't quite figured out that whole concept of heights. As in, he doesn't have a clue that he's going to fall before he crawls off the edge of anything. I'm trying to teach him how to slide down the stairs on his bottom, but that scares him, so I'm going to have to figure out another technique.
Anyway, we are going to go get a sturdy old bookcase from my folks this afternoon, and bolt it up to the wall next to the stairs, so as to extend it. It'll probably reach to about the middle of the next to bottom step, and if he falls off there, he's probably going to be more scared than anything else. We need more bookshelves anyway. Oh, well, give him another month and he'll most likely be walking, he's doing the pull up and stand thing already, and once he's up he's comfortable enough to only hang on with one hand. I can't believe how fast he's growing up. He's nine months, by the way.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A place I like to visit . . .


Science Fiction and Fantasy . . . free, but adictive.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Patty Cake

A couple days ago, I was sitting here, at my desk, glaring at the never-ending stack of bills to be sorted out, paid, and put away, and I heard "Patty cake patty cake patty cake patty cake . . ." I looked over, there, on the floor, next to me, are my boys, sitting and laughing and clapping their hands. Beau is lacking a little in rhyming ability, granted, but he's just taught Hemi how to clap! Part of the fun of having two close in age, I'm finding, is that the older teaches the younger things you didn't know the older knew. You know what? I like being a mommy.


About a week and a half ago I was feeling kind of down. It was overcast and generally January in Idaho-ish. So, I did what I usually do around this time of year: I planted seeds. It's too soon still for starting my tomatoes and peppers, so I planted coleus and heliochrysum. I've had the package of coleus for a couple years, the heliochrysum for maybe four or five. Well, two days ago the coleus began sprouting, and every day since there have been more sprouts. The heliochrysum has a longer germination period, and the seeds may well be too old anyway.
This was by way of being an experiment. I read somewhere, once, that you could grow seeds in damp paper towel, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's worked really well. I put the paper towel in the bottom of a shallow tupperware-type tray, dampened it, sprinkled the seeds on top (I chose those which say not to bury them when planting), and covered the whole thing with plastic wrap and put it in a southern window. Now I have a bunch of little seedlings. I'll have to see how they do. They aren't ready for pots, yet. I wonder which ones I should use, and, yeah, which box did we put the potting soil in, anyway? Did we even pack it? You'd think after six months we'd have unpacked, wouldn't you?

My little spot on the blogosphere.

Well, I thought about it for a while, and I don't really know that I have much to contribute to the general blogosphere aside from what I post in other people's comments. On the other hand, the average blog that I read tends to be about politics and such, and given the current state of the world, that tends to be, well, negative. So, since I have cute kids, and I'm generally an upbeat person, I figure I can add a little sunshine. This is about me, anyway, and what I want to talk about. So, fair warning: I'm self-centered, like everybody else. If you don't want to read a mom bragging about her kids and sometimes moaning, go read something else!