May 23, 2005

Hello! It was so nice to get your letter and the information on wood-burning furnaces. Thank you for taking the time to keep in touch. I really miss reading the newsletter every week and finding out what's new with everyone.

Some things never change and at the writing of this

letter, our family is busier than ever. Still, as it is a cold, rainy day here, I've decided to take a break and enjoy some time with a friend :) Besides, I'm pooped and deserve it!

This time last week I was in a panic because Matthew's graduation announcements hadn't arrived yet and commencement is June 3! Thankfully, they did come in and a couple of days spending every free moment on them got them mailed out last Friday- exactly two weeks ahead. Thank goodness we are not having his party until June 18.

Plans for the party are coming along, but there is so much to do. The day we are having it is also my aunt's 80th birthday so we are combining the two. Her birthday will be secondary to Matt's graduation (at her insistence) but there will be some fuss and we're inviting some of her friends and  cousins. We wanted to do something since her own kids and grandchildren didn't plan anything. I don't even know if they will bother to come home for it. They've been non-committal. Anyway, it's going to be a wonderful day - I hope we get nice weather. We are going to rent a tent (our one big expense) to provide shade or shelter from rain. Other than that I have lots of family and friends who are going to help with the cooking and a couple male relatives are going to come help us set everything up. Tim nearly has the new pool deck finished so there will be swimming and Matt is setting up volleyball and badminton. I'm also thinking about providing decks of  cards on the tables. No beer, which will disappoint some relatives but with all the teenagers running around I don't want to have to worry about what they're doing.

Matthew has his orientation for Pittsburgh Technical Institute on June 25. He moves into his apartment July 23 and classes start July 25. Matt didn't get much financial aid because o f our income. They look at just that, not your debt or whether you can afford to pay. I had really hoped our being in the bankruptcy plan would help him out. Nope. In fact, we just got the bottom line a couple weeks ago. Unless he can pay the balance down some with scholarships and gifts... Tim and I are looking at 30 monthly payments of $692! Learning to live frugally has never seemed more important - at least to me. Unfortunately, Tim isn't one who wants to think ahead to where money's going to come from. He just does what he does and trusts it will all "magically" work out somehow. You can imagine how much stress that causes me.

We bought a new car about a month ago - went out for a part for the pool filter and came home with a car! We really did need to get something. The Mercury wasn't big enough for our needs, it had over 150,000 miles on it, overdrive didn't work and neither did the speedometer or odometer. Definitely was time for a new car as the Merc would never have passed inspection. Still, we only meant to look that day, but couldn't afford to pass up the deal we stumbled on. The car was the dealership's loaner. It's a 2005 and had only 21,634 miles on it so it still has a full warranty. As it turns out, it was also exactly the right kind of car (Ford Taurus), right age, right price (half off the sticker), etc. for any bank to give us a loan in spite of the bankruptcy. Anything more or less on any of those things and we probably wouldn't have been approved.

My grandmother was taken to the hospital over a month ago for a urinary tract infection. It took a while but they discovered she had kidney stones plugging her kidneys and that they were too big to pass. After a week or two she was transferred to a large nursing home that offers therapy and the like. The hope was to get her stronger and then have the procedure done where the kidney stones are dissolved. Nana didn't get any stronger. In fact, she got worse. She wasn't eating or drinking much at all. She was basically awake but unresponsive. The kidney stone procedure was postponed. I really thought we were going to lose her - well, she's 87 so we will one of these days, but... The chance to have it done rolled around again last week and all the experts" said no, she wasn't strong enough. My mom put her foot down and demanded it be done. If she didn't make it  so be it, but it was better than watching infection after infection take its toll. Mom was right. Nana came through just fine and looks so much better. She's still pretty much a vegetable but at least she isn't in pain.

I'm still driving a school bus. Only 6 1/2 days left in this year. I imagine I will be back at it in the fall but for now I'm looking forward to having a couple months off - and not just from the kids. It's been an interesting year among the drivers. A few months back the husband of one of the drivers was arrested on heroin related charges. It was in all the papers and on the news. The woman had to pass a drug test and our supervisor rode with her for two weeks to observe. Well, she may not use but she was arrested last week for selling heroin.

No garden for us this year. Though they live full- time at John's house on the ridge, he and Mom have planted their garden here. The are tired of battling the deer for their vegetables. Since I don't have the garden to contend with I've been working on flower beds. I've bought some flats of flowers to get some instant color but mostly I haven't spent much at all. There are a couple of other ladies at work who enjoy gardening and we've been trading seeds and bulbs. I was able to do all around the pool with hostas, tiger lilies and cannas for $0. I was also given a huge box of cactus that gets yellow flowers and edible fruit but I don't know where to put it. It has nasty little hair-like jaggers that seem to jump onto you by the hundreds and sting like crazy. I can't seem to decide on a safe location. I'm still waiting for the banana palms to come.

Well, I should wrap this up and get it out to the mailbox then head back to work. Tell everyone I said hello!


PS I forgot to tell you about Tucker - the kitten from you-know-where! He joined our family two weeks ago and is an absolutely adorable ball of gray fluff but looks can be deceiving! While he's good company for Scooby, who can't be considered lonely or bored any longer, he is a little terror pouncing on anything that moves (and a lot of things that don't), racing across and climbing all the furniture. How I cringe when I hear the sound of kitty claws velcroing their way up the back of the sofa. Furniture isn't the only thing considered climbable. Legs are good, too. And look out below 0 we have "flying" kitties that just might drop out of nowhere and land on your head. Sleeping dogs never get to lie. Neither do sleeping people. We are counting the days until he is old enough to be neutered and declawed!