Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a piece of tile..ssssss

My daughter has had to borrow my car this week, as hers is having transmission issues. Somehow my right rear tire, managed to pick up with what we thought might be a piece of tile. That little triangle of porcelain, or whatever it is, that made a nice hole in the tire. In fact when Ashley got out of the car, she could hear a distinctive hissing sound as air escaped from tire's new orifice. Sigh, that meant that I was either going to hope my luck improved and I could get the tire repaired, or dig into my wallet and buy new tires.

Going on the advice of my husband and hoping not to have to buy a new tire, I went to Dixie Tire on Asheville Highway here in Spartanburg. One of the things you notice right away is a big jar sitting on the counter. In that jar is a collection of things these guys had taken out of tires. The items ranged from the expected screws and nails to a sizable piece of rebarb and at least two deer antlers. My little chunk of tile, although an inch long looked puny in comparison.

I was pointed to the coffee and the waiting room. My granddaughter, who I had to bring along, decided that the place was rather boring and promptly settled down for a nap. Within 30 minutes, my tire was fixed, and back on my car. The price for the repair was quite reasonable, and I went back home a happy camper.

I just hope it goes as easy for my daughter's Neon. We'll find out soon, but I'm betting that we won't get off near as easy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I'll have some pollen please, with a side order of ragweed

As nice as summer is, I am very glad that fall is in the air. Oh, wait, Fall is my favorite season. Spring falls into second place. Summer is the worst! I just don't like being hot and sweaty. Getting a tan is a waste of time for me too. I don't tan, I just turn into a nice shade of fuchsia that fades into my normal bleached whale hue. Winter would be great if it didn't get cold. I like shivering about as much as I like being hot and sweaty. So I pick Fall as my favorite season

I love the crispness in the air you feel with fall. I love the leaves as they change colors. Fall comes just in the nick of time for me fashion wise, as by the time it gets here, I'm utterly sick of my summer clothes. However Fall brings with it something that that doesn't agree with me at all. Ragweed, and all those other lovely pollinating weeds, plus the mold and mildew that falling and decaying leaves are sure to breed. Of course I'm allergic, very much so. SO much in fact that I get shots and take two prescription medications to help alleviate the symptoms. However even all that medical help is not quite enough at times. Like now when my sinuses are alternating between being completely blocked up and running like a raging river.

Thankfully such episodes as I am experiencing now don't last all that long, but boy can it make me grumpy. So all who know me and I'm not my usual perky self, just be patient with me and remember that ragweed has exceeded its maximum capacity in my head. Just point me to a Claritan and a cup of coffee and I should be much nicer tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And then I saw her face

I have living with me a considerable source of distraction. She's small, can't walk without holding onto something and only has two teeth. I am of course describing my 10 month old granddaughter. While her mommy and daddy plan a wedding, take classes at USC-Upstate and hold down part time jobs, little Helene' Grace, often finds herself left home with me, her Nana, as Nana attempts to get something, anything done around the house.

Now while I'm at work, I am able to get my clients taken care of, keep my station organized, and do other duties required of my job, and go back home, satisfied that I've managed a day of accomplishment.

My granddaughter, to her credit is a good baby. She has a sunny disposition, entertains herself easily, and usually only cries when she's sleepy. Then she fights the urge for a nap with every fiber of her little chubby being. However she's a busy little girl. Here is a list of all she can accomplish in the space of about 20 minutes.

1. Pull all the books off her bookshelf...again. (1.5 minutes)
2. strew all her toys with pauses for playing with them. (5 minutes)
3. Chase a cat, catch the kitten who is her best friend and partner in crime. (2-3 minutes)
4. Play with her musical toys, dance to the music (five minutes)
5. Crawl around seeing what else she can discover, stopping to examine before moving on. (five minutes)
6. Find any small object left on the floor, give it a taste test. (2 minutes)

It is no small wonder, that when she is in my care, I get little done other then maybe some laundry and picking up what she has left in her wake. For example, she once managed to open up a box of wipes and pull out 34 of them (of course we counted!) in the space of 1.5 minutes. We had left the box on the floor, after a quick, "grab and change, release" diapering job.

Of course one look at that happy little face, so proud of her accomplishment easily prevented her mommy or I from scolding her. We were too busy laughing at her as she gleefully waved two of her purloined wipes.

Laundry time is play time for her. To her its a game. We usually fold clothes while sitting on the couch, making little sorted piles. Her mission is to tear down those piles. The last time she did this, her persistence reached a new high. I repeatedly told her "no" She ignored me. I moved the piles, she reached for them even harder, I lightly smacked her hand and pulled it away from the pile, again telling her no. Not dissuaded, she tried again, and this time I smacked her little well padded bottom, repeating the word NO. Then I saw her face. There wasn't a single tear, but it was as if she was saying, "I'm sorry Nana, I'll be good now." I'm such a sucker for such adorable remorseful, so I gave her a big hug and a kiss.

She loves our cell phones and immediately goes into pose mode, whenever we point it in her direction. She knows she's getting her picture taken, the little ham. We try to get her to talk to Daddy or Pappy but she just grins for all she's worth.

Her fascination with electronics is not limited to cell phones. TV interests her only when music is playing, or like just know when she heard someone squeal on an advertisement and she squealed back an echo. Her other big fascination is with our computers. Why? Because they have buttons just asking for little fingers to push. More then once she hit the bright blue button on my tower, sending my system into shut down mode. The last time she did that, I was in the middle of something, so I gave her a rather sharp "NO!" Then I saw her face, eyes big, little lip stuck out, knowing full well that she had done something Nana didn't like. So I scooped her up and gave her a big hug. Yes, I know. You don't have to remind me.

This week, my Nana duties have been upgraded as her Mommy had a health issue that required surgery. Ashley is in recovery mode and is unable to care for her daughter nearly as much as she would like. Daddy's school and work duties limit how much he can help, although he has been here as much as possible. The rest of the family is helping as much as they can, but the lion's share of baby duty has been falling to me.

Last night I was tired, wanting to go to bed early. I have kept forgetting how much energy caring for little ones can be, and was ready for some baby free time. So I was sitting in the rocker contemplating how I could rope my younger daughter into helping her look after the baby for a while so I could at least put on pajamas and brush my teeth. Then Helene came over, pulled herself up, and then I saw her face.

I knew my bedtime routine would just have to wait, I had more important things to do, like play with that little cutie a bit more.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Got gas?

So it's been a busy week, if one watches the news. Naturally the recent storms have made headlines. My own family watched Ike's passing with great interest. First because my oldest lives near downtown Houston, and second because he works for one of the local stations. We got to view local coverage from the online feed. We also were quite surprised by the effect this storm had on the gas markets.

It didn't really make much sense to me when I learned that so many gas stations were not only raising the prices, but were selling out of fuel. While I understand the need to temporarily shut down oil platforms, refineries and pipelines in the face of some really bad weather, to see a major panic attack set in because of it took me by complete surprise. Who started this unnecessary and expensive panic? Who knows, but once started, even the media who kept reporting about fuel price risings and shortages at the pump, possibly fueling the panic,(no pun intended) couldn't get people to listen to the sound advice of "don't panic this is temporary and a wise precaution. Things will be up and running in a few days".

Thankfully any damage to our fuel infrastructure in the Houston area was minimal at best, and that entity will be back in full swing, likely as soon as the power is all back on. Apparently the panic was merely that, panic brought on by people already nervous about the economy of our energy infrastructure.

The arguments from capital hill, and the campaign trails don't do much to help people feel any better about the future of our energy sources. There is a lot of arguments about whether or not to drill in Alaska and offshore, there are debates about the greenhouse effect, there are some tax incentives for buying energy efficient appliances or hybrid cars, and there are some rumblings about alternative energy down the road, all while the urging of further taxing oil companies. I see from those sources a lot of talk, and very little positive action.

While I am not a completely avid environmentalist I do firmly believe that we need sound sensible solutions for conservation and energy usage, as well as to find cleaner and renewable sources of energy. We already recycle here at our home, burn those high efficiency light bulbs, use energy star rated appliances and electronics, keep our thermostats at warmer, or cooler settings depending on the season, and keep our vehicles in optimal condition so they use gas more effeicently. The only reason we haven't jumped onto the hybrid car bandwagon is the cost. I just don't see how a $400 a month car payment is going to offset the price I pay at the pump. Our cars are older but paid for. Going into debt to save a few dollars at the gas pump to me makes no financial sense.

Which is why a television ad intrigued me. I'm sure some of you have seen the ads that T. Boone Pickens has been airing lately. I got curious and went to the website and immediately saw that here was someone who had decided not to wait on the government to fix things, and was instead taking positive steps to do so himself. It's suggesting among other things a shift to wind power to help free up natural gas for vehicles and other energy uses. It does urge more oil drilling but recognizes that as a short term solution. The site is non-partisian and doesn't support any political candidate. It instead is a grassroots effort for change in the energy sector.The website is a good source of information, contains a petition we can send to congress to urge them to take actual positive action, web groups, forums, and news. Yes, I signed right up.

While there is news in our area about using old landfills to turn methane to electricity, and negotiations for a new nuclear plant there is much we as individuals can do. If a new nuclear plant is built, and that is a big if, seeing how the last plant went online about 20 years ago, construction will take quite awhile. And to me it is merely a short term answer. They still haven't solved the waste problem which needs to be done. While smart cars and hybrids are flying off the car lots that sell them, they don't have a large impact in our local economy or energy infrastructure. While we have a decent mass transit system in Spartanburg, it is still underused, and doesn't affect most of us who live outside the city limits. We of this beautiful are I now call home need to step up to the plate and do more.

Does Mr. Boone have THE solution? Well I think that he is offering at least a couple of them, and I do agree that it is us, the people of this country that can make things happen. I also agree that it is time to remind our congress men and women that they are to be representing our interests, not the other way around.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

As if my house wasn't enough of a disaster area

For those of you who don't know, I am a recent addition to Spartanburg SC. When I lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina, we lived in an old farm house built by my husband's grandfather. The place had a lot of character. It also lacked a single wall, floor or ceiling that was level. The windows were old and drafty, and the kitchen, although of a nice size did not have a space for the fridge. It was in the dining room. The square footage was also pretty small and we had one tiny bathroom. With five people, that bathroom was the most popular room in the house in the morning.

When we moved here, our new house was about 300 square feet bigger. Its doesn't seem like much, but for us it was a huge difference, or rather it was at the time.

We moved four people and two cats to our new house, as our oldest child had already finished college and was on his own. We relished in our new space, discovering we had space for all our things with a bit of room to spare. It's been nearly three years since we moved here, and I am wondering what happened to all my space. Now in all fairness I am hardly Mrs. Neat Freak, and my daughters, especially the youngest could win awards in livable clutter. Our house has a lived in look, very actively lived in.

I suspect two factors. The first is my granddaughter who came into the world 10 months ago. She's the most adorable baby in the world,(me? prejudiced? NEVER!) and is the light of my husband's and my life. But she has gotten to the age where she is crawling destruction. If she isn't pulling things off a shelf, she's dragging a toy along in her wake. I now call my living room Toys R Us.

It is amazing the space required for a crib, a high chair, a toy bin. Oh wait, we put dvd's in the toy bin as the baby kept pulling them off the entertainment center. There is a huge stuffed dog, a musical gadget that she can eventually ride, and various and sundry kid friendly toys. They are in their place for the first ten minutes after you put them away. Then things are right back where they belong, strewn all over the floor, just as my granddaughter prefers it.

Then there is the laundry. I thought two teenaged girls produced massive amounts of dirty laundry. I had forgotten how much a baby could produce. Even though we all share laundry duty, we seem to always have at least one load in both machines. And it doesn't take long to have overflowing hampers again, with tiny outfits in every single one.

The other factor to the growing chaos that is my home is the new kitten. Yes now we are a house of three cats, and the litter box may not survive. The kitten is a rescue and of course who could resist 1/2 pound of inky feline cuteness? The baby adores the kitten and the kitten adores the baby, when it isn't trying to outdo her in the game of "make a mess." One of my cats, Luna-tic, aka Jabba the Kitty, usually stays out of the way of all this living activity. Of course I think that cat was actually a slug in a former life, she's so lazy. Chernobyll, feline number 2, loves the new kitty playmate and has stepped up to the plate to keep up with the youngsters. Yes I named a cat after a nuclear disaster sight. Remember the a fore mentioned litter box? That cat is what sent it on the road to its ever pungent demise. Of course the new kitty had to have unique name just like this housemate. so Kit-astropheis what we dubbed him.

As Kit and the baby follow each other around, I know that cleaning up after them is only going to be caught up while they are sleeping, that is if we can find the energy with all of us working, some of us in school, Of course it would help if we stopped playing with our most recent additions and taking pictures of that durn cuteness long enough to do something useful, like clean.

Of course soon, my daughters will be moving out having finished college and with the older will go the granddaughter and at least one cat. I will then sometimes long for the days of barely contained chaos. Or will I?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Apparently someone out there likes me!!

Someone in my area has decided to take the time to search out other people who blog in my city. They read a recent entry I had written, liked it and after asking permission, posted an excerpt on the local blogger site.

Spartanburg bloggers are an eclectic group, but that isn't surprising as most of us who like to write are eclectic in our tastes, our writing styles, our subject matter and our viewpoints. The name of the site featuring us bloggers from Spartanburg is which is tied in to a local online paper called the Spartanburg Spark. (yay, a new possible place for me to blather on about)

Should be interesting.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

That whole election thing

For what seems like the past two years this country has been considering who to choose for the next president of the United States. I saw my first roadside sign featuring a potential candidate long before most people had decided to even to run for the office.(No, they did'nt make the final cut) I knew then that it would be a long, long, LONG campaign. I also knew, considering the political temperament over the past few years that things would likely get ugly.

And that is what I just don't understand. Why are people so vicious in their attacks on the current president, as well as the potential presidential candidates? While I don't agree with everything our current president has done, I still believe he deserves our respect. He was elected twice, as was his predecessor, who I had far greater issues with. It surprised me that this former president could seem to do no wrong, despite having scandal, after investigation, after legal proceedings after impeachment. At times his private life made public would make any tabloid editor drool with happy anticipation. Yet despite my personal dislike for all of that, I still believe that he deserved the respect for the office he held. During Mr. Clinton's tenure some positive things were done that he deserves credit for, he did and still does have an amazing gift for public speaking, and is a natural diplomat. Of course he made as well as all who have gone before him some very poor decisions.

Why in the race for the "big seat" is everyone so polarized? If some say that they are for one candidate, or express, as I have admiration for something a candidate has said, even though they are not my voting choice, do some immediately decide that I am either a complete political idiot, or someone out of touch with reality. Therefore I tend to avoid most politically minded conversations for the potential argument that could ensue.

The current president has made both good and some very bad decisions, yet he has received none of the respect that usually goes with the office. While he's not the most eloquent of speakers, but he sure can handle a press conference. In comparison to his immediate predecessor, the sitting president's private life is rather boring. He sometimes makes decisions that seem short-sighted and often goes against his advisers when making decisions. Sometimes he's proven wrong in those choices, but he is also often right. Somehow the right decisions get no attention from his critics, only the wrong ones. Mr. Bush has had to make unpopular decisions and quite difficult ones as some of the situations faced were unprecedented. Of course every president since Washington has found themselves thus, and so will whomever we elect in November.

We can "If I was president, I'd do this" all day long, but for what end? We elected them to make those hard decisions so we don't have to. And of course when making hard decisions, one is likely to upset someone along the way. that is why they are called H-A-R-D decisions, because of the potential, often unknown consequences.

One would hope that people would stop listening to the nastiness, the half truths, the innuendos, the slanted polling, the talking heads in the media and simply look at each candidate and the merits of what they hope to bring to the table. By looking at their views on important issues, their voting record, if they have held legislative office, what they have written, business decisions they have made, and lastly and least importantly personal lifestyle choices.

Maybe if we didn't have a plethora of pundits on every media station trying to tell us how to think the decision of choosing the president would be easier. Of course it would be nice if Congress would enact a law limiting all the campaign hullabaloo that gets worse and worse every year,. But then I remember that they take regular dips into that murky campaigning pool themselves. And I guess that some journalism graduates are thankful for the job that reporting on the circus that is politics allows. I just wish this circus would at least have a decent high wire act.