Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! by Robin Janney

Well, it seems Carol and I have managed to get slightly off our schedule, but it's all good because life happens!

Today is a holiday for many, and at the very least a day to spend time with family.  Rather than have a home cooked meal, some of my family went out for our traditional ham dinner.  Of course, the restaurant is owned and run by some of our family so it's a double bonus.

No matter what you do today, whether you celebrate the Christian holiday or not, I hope you and your family have had a Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

You’ve Got A Friend In Me – By C.P. Stringham

My dad's pride and joy 1946 Willy's Jeep and Mom's brand new
1979 Buick Regal in the background. I just remember the Jeep
didn't have any seatbelts. Have times changed! 
I’ve had a lot of time to be retrospective lately. I’m helping plan a 25th wedding anniversary party for a high school friend who I had lost touch with until recently. The sad part of this admission is that, for the past twenty years, we have lived within seven to fifteen miles of each other at any given time and have only been “reunited” since I joined Facebook seven years ago. Alas, while we complain about the time we “waste” on social media, it has been a great tool for catching up with long lost friends. While Penny graduated a year behind me, we attended a very small school in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania where everyone knew everybody. Since we were from the same “neighborhood,” we rode the same school bus and her younger brother was best friends with my younger brother.
Fred's 1979 Camero - This car ate Ford Mustangs for breakfast! 
My kid brother's high school sidekick and Penny's kid brother, Brent.
In fact, while I was in college or home visiting from the Philly area, I felt like Brent was a part of the family. He and Fred were always working on some car project. Brent had a classic Chevy Nova with a 383 engine that he was able to miraculously keep dirt road dust off of like it was made out of Teflon or something. Fred’s first car was a ’79 Buick Regal. The car was ordered new by my parents, driven by our mom for years before being given to me until I bought my yuppie Honda Accord, and then was passed down to Fred. The stock 231 V-6 engine wasn’t enough for my brother—the vo-tech student who took after our motorhead father. He
 dropped a performance 350 in with a racing cam, installed a racing torque converter, and replaced the highway-friendly, gas-saving 308 rear for a lower 373 rear for weekday driving, and had a 411 rear for “weekend driving”—which meant faster take off for drag racing. You know, something EVERY high school boy needs in a car. Zero to sixty in what-the-hell seconds! I grew up in a house where knowing the higher the number of a rear, the lower it was geared for faster take off and the lower the number of a rear, the higher it was geared for higher top end long distance speed was all second nature. And then came his 1979 Chevy Camero. Again, its stock 305 V-8 wasn’t fast enough, so he upgraded to a small block Chevy 350. He bored out the cylinders and added a performance cam. It was fast. Really fast. I recall a test drive with him at the wheel, Eric Cressman in the copilot’s seat, and me in the rear seat, flying along the back stretch of County Route 427, heading back towards Wellsburg, at an easy 140mph. The engine had more to give, but we were running out of unpopulated roadway. I remember saying, “What’s that smell?” and Eric answering with a grin, “Brake shoes. It takes a lot of brake to slow down at this speed.” I made the sign of the cross and wondered if my brother had the foresight to install a parachute—just in case. Whatever car my brother had taken from tame and transformed into “Frankenwheels,” you could bet Penny’s little brother had spent some time under the hood as well. I guess that makes him Igor, the mad mechanic’s assistant!
Our founding Liberal Ladies members!! L-to-R: Jan, Michelle,
Penny, Me, and my oldest. We are now 23 members strong!

Penny is one of the founding members of our Liberal Ladies’ Luncheon League. Living in a predominately conservative area makes for lonely political conversations to those who are like-minded. We have to stick together. And we do. While I tend to keep my social media posts tame, she isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers. As an author, who counts on social media to help sell books, I have to exercise restraint. That doesn’t mean I won’t like the hell out of someone’s progressive post!
Penny and I are also 
Meeting up at ArtsFest! Me with Penny and her boys!
moms of children on the Autism Spectrum. Both of her boys have the higher functioning Asperger’s Syndrome, while my youngest was classified with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified. We’ve learned to lean on each other over the past few years because, even though our families and other friends mean well, they truly don’t understand what moms of special needs children go through. If it isn’t a medical or a behavioral issue we are trying to work through, it’s a school-related issue. Our kids have Individual Education 
Me with Robin Janney- Author and Penny. Unplanned purple wardrobe.
Plans or IEP’s. We have to continually advocate for our kids to make sure they are receiving the necessary educational services to make them successful students. For my daughter, things have gone smoothly at our local school. For Penny’s boys, not so much. They are almost finished with their first year of homeschooling and it has been highly satisfying for momma and sons.
Penny and her family; L-to-R: Dillon, Helene, Ashton, and Kevin.

This year is Penny’s 25th wedding anniversary; a huge accomplishment in this day and age of high rate divorce. She and Kevin have made it through years of infertility issues, employment setbacks, Penny’s autoimmune disease, and, currently, they are both dealing with spine-related injuries. Penny is in need of a second cervical spine fusion and Kevin just had his first cervical disc surgery—because, when it rains, it pours. With all the stress of keeping up with their financial responsibilities, they need to take time to celebrate the milestone their marriage has hit. With everyone’s hectic schedules, it is too hard to attempt a surprise party, so family and friends alike are helping to organize the event. Penny asked if I would help out and I jumped in and our fellow Liberal Lady, Jan, and her husband, Doug, have offered their services as well. Since my family is dealing with its own set of medical issues with both of my daughters, I needed the distraction party planning would bring about. I’ve been crafting for two weeks. Guest table centerpieces, dessert table decorations, bridal table decorations, etc. I’ve been doing what I can to make it special for my friend. My mom even lent a hand last weekend. She loves any crafting task that allows her to whip out her hot glue gun! She’s also making the cupcakes and ceremonial cake for the cupcake tower. My neighbor, Betty, is even donating her incredible bar cookies, my mom’s making pecan tassies, and Penny’s aunt is making snickerdoodles with more varieties to come. What’s better at a party than a fully equipped dessert table?!?
At any rate, that’s what I’ve been up to, so no writing is really going on. A little here. A little there. It’s all good. I’ll be sure to post party pics in an upcoming blog post.  
The invitations! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Traveling Woman by Robin Janney

Most of the time, I live my entire life in one little square county of Pennsylvania. Monday through Friday I get up and go to work, maybe stop at Walmart on the way home from work and go to bed.  With varying mundane chores in between; and walking my dog.

But since my last short post, I have probably traveled close to 2000 miles outside of my little corner of the universe.  Part of the reason why I'm posting so late, actually at the start of Carol's week, is I'm just plain exhausted even though I've been home since Tuesday.

The "Big Chair" of Thomasville!
The first trip was to Thomasville North Carolina for my Aunt Pat's funeral.  I'm very grateful that my work allowed me to take the time off for this trip, even though aunts (and uncles) don't technically qualify for bereavement leave.

The different ceremonies for my aunt were spread across three days, rather than the usual two.  Mostly because of scheduling at the National Cemetery where she was to be laid to rest.  So late Monday afternoon, after the funeral and the meal that followed, my immediate family and I were left to our own devices.  We didn't want to just sit around, so after some discussion (and finding out what was opened and closed) we ventured into Thomasville in search of the "Big Chair" which as you can see in the photo, we found.  Pretty impressive, even if it does seem strange.  But then, the area's claim to fame is their furniture so I guess it's understandable.

Managed to sneak myself into this one!
Across the road from the big chair, was a pretty fountain and a small clock tower.  We wandered across, and decided to wait to see if it would chime on the hour like the internet said it should.  Of course, we took the opportunity for another photo...or two.

It was a lot of walking for my mother, who walks with a cane, but we managed to keep up with her.  Still, I don't think any of us minded waiting for the top of the hour.

And then when nothing happened, and we started to leave...the darn thing started chiming!  About two minutes past what the clock face said was six o'clock!

After this, we wandered down to the caboose they had sitting on a retired track.  We have one in our town, but this seemed something special since it wasn't...well, wasn't home.  Of course, more pictures followed. 

Antics like this is probably why the town cop kept driving through the center of town real casual like.

There wasn't much else to do after that, so we returned to our rooms for the evening.

After my aunt's internment, my husband and I started the long trip back home.  For the most part, it was uneventful, although we did drive by a tractor trailer accident not to long after it happened.

It was heavier traffic than what either one of us were used to, although according to another brother since we were still moving it wasn't that bad.  Still, we detoured into Fancy Gap, Virginia for a while.  Just to get off the highway and find some breathing room.  Thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful and we found ourselves home shortly after one in the morning.

Life returned to usual for a few days, and then Mother, my younger sister and I were off in the opposite direction.  North. To Rochester, New York.

First we stopped along the way and picked up one of my brothers, then we headed to Rochester.  To see a specialist for my mother.  She's  been plagued with bladder problems for years and our local specialists no longer have much to offer and they sent her to Strong Memorial Hospital for a second opinion.  And all that ended up happening this trip was the doctor ordering a test Mother has never had done before (which sounds really uncomfortable).  I'm not sure yet whether I'll be able to accompany her in April, but at least my brother and sister are up to speed and could step in just in case.

After lunch, which took longer than expected due to a new waitress, we took a few minutes to relax and site see since we were in another new locale.  My brother found us a waterfall in the middle of the city to look at, so off we went!

High Falls.

HIgh Falls, Genesee River, Rochester NY
Which felt a thousand times higher than what it was.

Pont De Rennes Bridge, from whence the previous picture was taken.
Now, I only made is about halfway across this pedestrian walkway.  Walking down the middle, only looking at my feet or straight out to the left or right, never downish.  I began repeating to myself that "I've been higher. I've been higher."  Indeed, I managed to look down from the top observatory in the Empire States Building in New York City.  This should have been cakewalk.

I did manage to get to the edge of the bridge to take a picture or two.  I never did look straight down even then though.  My body was shaking by the time I got back to where my mother was sitting on one of the many benches they have on the bridge.  It felt to me like the entire bridge was shaking when groups of people would pass.

The rainbow
Still, I managed to stay in control and didn't freak out.  I walked out, took my pictures and enjoyed the view, and then walked back when I decided I had enough.  Even managed to see a rainbow in the falls spray!  And if you look in the background of the first picture of the falls, we were lucky enough to be there when a long train was passing over.

Mother stayed the rest of the week with  my brother, who kindly brought her home today.  I'm not sure I had another trip in me.  I like traveling, although the pre-trip is anxiety-ridden (did I pack everything I need? Where am I going?), but I sure do like landing back at home in my own trailer, in my own bed.

There truly is no place like home.

Although, husband and I are already planning a trip across country.  Hey, nothing wrong with dreaming and planning a few years in advance!

Hope everyone's had a great weekend and may your week be a good one.