Monday, November 29, 2004

Off The Map

A new job, family illness, and the holidays does not make for good upkeep on the blog. Here's the 2 minute recap:

1. Grandma: She is home and well. Hopefully we'll find out more after tomorrow (Tuesday) when she goes for a screening at Roswell. There is a very slight chance that she might not even have cancer since the hospital she was at only made their determination that she did based on blood samples. But I'm not getting my hopes up too much on this one.

2. Thanksgiving: We celebrated in Buffalo this year due to several factors including the fact that my Aunt Carol was in NYC for a wedding, so it was easier to have dinner at my Grandparent's house so we didn't have to cart everyone to Rochester. Also, the main reason was that my Grandma got to come home the day before Thanksgiving and actually join us for dinner as well. A very happy thing for everyone.

3. Thanksgiving 2 - The Pies: I made the pecan and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving this year. This is normally my Grandma's job, but I was handed the torch this year for obvious reasons. I followed her recipe and I'm told they came out fantastic. So cheers to that!

4. Thanksgiving 3 - Annual Hang-Out: Well, since we couldn't be in Rochester and, therefore, couldn't hang out with Sean & Anne like we normally do on Thanksgiving, I called up my cousin, Mike, and we met up for some drinks in Niagara Falls after all the belly stuffing. A nice time, especially since we got to meet his girlfriend, Laura.

5. Thanksgiving 4 - Black Friday: Matt and I actually went shopping Friday morning. Matt said, "Never Again!" I didn't mind it so much. Probably comes from those 4 years I worked retail during the holiday season. I found some great deals at Petite Sophisticate, which is unfortunately closing down in the mall we went to. I also got to buy Matt his birthday present - navy khakis. Oooh. Speaking of...

6. Birthdays: Y'all should wander over to Matt's blog and leave him a comment to wish him a Happy 32nd Birthday! We're celebrating the actual day by going to his parents for a spaghetti dinner. If we're not going up to Buffalo this weekend (or Friday at least), I plan on taking him out to dinner somewhere nice.

That's all for now. Will update again when the moment is right!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Only Thing That Remains The Same Is Change

Well, my Grandmother isn't coming home after all. My parents called me this morning to tell me this bit of news. The story:

My dad got in touch with Dr. Hurley (my Grandmother's doctor) last night to talk to him about bringing my Grandma back to Rochester since she was being released from the hospital. This was news to Dr. Hurley, who said, "She can't leave the hospital. She's too weak!" Then my dad found out from our cousin, Janet, that she was visiting my Grandma when the surgeon came in to talk to her about the surgery. He was going on about all the things involved in the operation when he mentions that they'll be putting in a shunt/stint(?) which is when my cousin interrupts, "They already put in a shunt/stint!" The surgeon said, "OH. I didn't read her chart over."

When my dad told me that bit I burst out, "Do you think there's another hospital Grandma would be okay with besides this one??" My parents are looking into whether my Grandma's health coverage would allow her to go into Roswell for treatment. Meanwhile, Dr. Hurley is working on getting my Grandma into some rehab treatment so she can regain some strength. I'm not sure if she's going to have the operation now, or if her doctor will even let her if she's too weak.

That's the latest and greatest. Thanks for putting up with me using the blog as the "Grandma Update" place for now. It's about all the energy I can expend on it right now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Okay... things are more up where my Grandmother is concerned.. in a weird way. My Grandma only has one kidney, and I guess the past week has put stress on it, so the doctors wanted her to get some rest before they tried to do the operation. So my mom is going into Buffalo tomorrow to pick up my Grandma from the hospital and taking her back to their house in Rochester. Length of stay undetermined, but the doctors said she would need to rest 3-4 days before they re-tested her.

To me, this is good news. I was hoping my Grandma could go home for a little bit and have a break from the hospital. Now I know the fact that she's not strong enough to go through the operation right now is not a good sign all around, but to me, I want her home. Plus, I'm hoping we can get some straight answers from the doctors on what's going on since at one point they told my Grandma it would be a 7-hour operation and now they're saying it won't be that long. The whole situation creates a whole "WTF?" for my family.

That's the Grandma Alice update for tonight. If she's still at my parent's house this weekend, we're going up to see her and then coming right back since I have to perform in a concert in Warren, PA on Sunday.

Another Update On Grandma

My Grandmother opted for the surgery for the pancreatic cancer. Since the operation is on Thursday, Matt, me, and my parents are traveling into Buffalo tomorrow night after work to see her. Just in case. The surgery has a high mortality rate, so part of me (and Matt) wonders if she's going for the surgery as a quick way to avoid further pain. We really don't know. On the other hand, she finally signed release papers so that my Dad and my cousin, Valerie, can find out information (legally) on how she's doing from her doctor.

Before I head off for work, I want to say thanks to everyone that's commented, emailed, or called me to let me know you're keeping my Grandma and family in your thoughts. That means a lot to me. We're hoping she pulls through and can get back to some semblance of life for a little while, but I can't say I'm very optimistic right now.

A Good Take on Music File Sharing

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco had some great commentary on why file sharing on the Internet should be encouraged, not fined.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Quick Update

The quick update is that I can officially say that my Grandmother has pancreatic cancer, which is what we believe her father had when he died. My Grandma always hoped that when it was her time, she'd just fall over dead of a massive heart attack like her mother, sister, and brother. Unfortunately for her and all of us, it doesn't look that way.

She was doing better yesterday when we saw her in the hospital, but we're fairly certain she's not going to have the operation/chemotherapy. What that means in terms of making her comfortable and whether she could even go home at all is unclear. I guess we'll see what happens over the next few weeks. Assuming nothing happens in the next three days, I'm going up to Buffalo by myself on Wednesday after work to visit her. It's hard to see her in pain and not feeling well, but I'd rather see her as much as I can now since we all know her time is a lot more limited.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

When Holes Get Punched In Your Heart

Yesterday, we found out my Grandma is very sick. She has been the hospital since last Friday with pain due to what we thought was a blocked bile duct. If only it was that simple and easy. I can't say right now what is actually wrong due to the fact that we're not supposed to know (her doctor told my dad). All that matters is that it's not something you generally come out of ok, if at all.

I'm scared for her and absolutely wrecked. We're meeting my parents in Buffalo today to see her. She doesn't know that Matt and I are coming, and it's going to be hard to act like we don't know anything. At least I can plead that the circles under my eyes are from lack of sleep due to the new job.

The picture below is my Grandma perfectly.

My Grandma Having A Ball At Our Wedding Posted by Hello

She has always been known as the life of the party. She knows how to cut a rug and throw back a few with ease. I know she had a lot of fun at our wedding and whenever she can get out.

The important thing is that she's still with us now. I hope they can do something for her to alleviate the pain since I doubt she's going to go through the surgery that may or may not fix what's wrong. It's just too sudden. Too soon. And it's never fair around the holidays, but I learned that death comes when it must when my Grandma's husband, my Grandpa, died the day before Christmas Eve.

So please keep my Grandma in your thoughts. Some of you who read this blog know what a fun lady she is and she could use all the good mojo you can supply.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The New Job & Blogging

Unsurprisingly, starting my new job this past Monday has had a detrimental effect on how often I blog. Not that I've been very consistent the past few months anyway. I blame elections on that even though it's not even close to being the case.

Anyway, the new job is good. I was feeling overwhelmed my second day when we got down to brass tacks of what my responsibilities actually are, but my loving husband put it into perspective by asking, "Well, isn't this somewhat similar to what you were doing before but just juggled around?" I'm hoping he's right on that.

Here's where you all roll your eyes and sigh when I say that going back to work full time and having to get up early to leave by 8:15am and not get back home until 6pm is a real drag. I'm exhausted. Plus it didn't help that Sunday night I was a little excited about starting, so adrenalin woke me up a little after 3am and kept me up until the alarm went off at 6:15am. Sleep deprivation sucks. Especially when you're a CSI fan (all varieties), which means you can't catch up on sleep because you were watching the show until 11pm.

Next week is my first full week at the job since we have today (Veterans Day) off. I think I'll have a better assesment of how things are then. They changed my title to Public Relations Specialist, which I like quite a bit because the previous title, Operations Specialist, meant I had to take time to quickly explain that it was a PR position.

So if the blogging drops off here and there. Forgive me please. I'll do my best to get back up and running with my usual witty, rapport. Hah. Well, I can try, right? Until then...

Monday, November 08, 2004

Pierogi Party

This past Saturday, my mom, my Aunt Carol, and I went to my grandparent's house to learn how to make my Babcia's pierogis. It normally takes my Babcia three days to make all the pierogis our family consumes on Christmas Eve. Mind you, we make about 35 each of kapusta (AKA saurkraut), prune, apricot, and cheese filled pierogis.

Mom Sugars the Prunes Posted by Hello

Julia Rolls Out The Dough Posted by Hello

Aunt Carol Stuffs Pierogi Posted by Hello

Aunt Carol & My Babcia Posted by Hello

Here is the recipe:

Babcia’s Pierogis

3 cups flour
1 ½ cup instant mashed potatoes, cooked
1 egg
soft-serve margarine
farmer’s cheese
lemon juice

Following the directions on the box, make instant mashed potatoes for six.

Using a pastry blender, blend flour and mashed potatoes until flour is gone. Beat the egg in a measuring cup and then add enough water to make it ¾ cup. Add egg mixture to dough and mix with pastry blender and then with hands until all flour is completely mixed in. Divide into three parts.

In a 6 quart pot, boil water and have a second 6-quart pot of cool water near by.

Cover board/counter with flour, coat rolling pin with flour. Roll out a dough ball, rolling from center out to about a large frozen pizza size. Turn over, add a little more flour to the board and roll out from center again, making sure to roll ends as well. Flip again so that the “sticky” side is facing up.

Saurkraut: add a tablespoon

Prunes/Apricots: coat fruit in sugar and put two in each pierogi

Cheese: add a large tablespoon
Cheese Filling Recipe:
3 lbs farmer’s cheese
¾ cup white sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together

Put filling near end of dough, flip other side over and press down. Use Babcia’s round cutting thing or a knife to cut out pierogi. Press edges together firmly.

Once you have 15 pierogis, add to boiling water for 10 minutes or until they float/edges get “done.” Shock the pierogis in the pot of cold water. After shocking them, use your hands to coat one side of the pierogi with soft-serve margarine

Thursday, November 04, 2004

If The Shoe Were On The Other Foot...

Imagine John Kerry had won. Now shake yourself from the daydream and think about what the Republicans would immediately start doing as a political organization.

Someone else put it less mildly.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

George Bush Still Has to Answer to the Other 54.9 Million

It's not looking good for democracy in this country. Yes, we had an excellent example of democracy in action last night, but that doesn't convince me that the radical right is about to change from their course of making this an Authoritarian America.

So we need to continue to be vigilant watch dogs and protestors. Daily Kos said it best. We cannot bitterly accept defeat but take stock of the fact that 54.9 million Americans said that Bush didn't deserve to be president again. Fifty-three million people didn't think they were better off now than they were when Clinton left office. Fifty-three million people who wanted a change so that this country could regain its integrity.

Congress and the President still have to answer to those people too. We will not be ignored.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I Voted For Kerry...

Who did you vote for?

Go log your vote over at Jason Kottke's 2004 Election Poll.

The Future Of Our Country Is At Stake...

Today is Election Day.

We currently have a terrorist in the White House who is destroying our country.

Today we can take our country back.

If you are able, Get Out And VOTE.

I've made statements in previous years that if you choose not to go to the polls that you lose bitching rights for the next term. I cannot stress how serious this election is for us and future generations.

On a bright side, it does look like people are getting out to exercise their right.

And if I can get to a computer early this evening, I'll post Zogby's 5pm prediction. He was one of the only people on the money in 2000 with his prediction of "too close to call." On The Daily Show a few days ago, he proclaimed that Kerry would win it today (turn up speakers).

But don't forget that pollsters cannot call people who use cell phones exclusively. Think about that. The fate of this country is still in your hands.

I'll now point you to someone else's words of wisdom, with Michael Moore's final words on the election yesterday.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Concert Review

The local paper actually reviewed our community orchestra concert. I dare say this is the first time I've played in an ensemble that has received print for a performance!

Orchestra Gives Audience An Old-Fashioned Style Concert

The Jamestown Area Community Orchestra treated a local audience to an old fashioned Sunday afternoon concert at First Covenant Church of Jamestown. The volunteer ensemble, with 40 members, produced an hour-long program of relatively brief, popular works which provided a delightful and uplifting experience. Andrew D. Coccagnia conducted the orchestra, and provided genial, informative spoken program notes.
The program began with Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance, No. 5,” which they performed energetically.
The only work of the day which wasn’t completely successful came second. The principal theme from the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is by John Williams, and contains his famous uplifting masses of sound, but the instrumentalists had some trouble producing enough ensemble within each instrument part to really do
it justice.
Things were back on track for Antonin Dvorak’s “Slavonik Dance, No. 3,” another rhythmic Eastern Europe dance work which the conductor reported was inspired by true Slavic folk music, and by the Brahms work which began the program.
Percussion and lower brass instruments then got a brief vacation, while the rest of the orchestra provided a beautiful, melodic and gentle Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves,’ which is one of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ most popular and recognizable compositions. The flute solo was especially noteworthy in that performance.
The first half of the program ended with a lively reading of Gliere’s “Russian Sailors’ Dance.”
The concert was performed free of charge, but at this point of the performance, a freewill offering was taken, to help defray the cost of purchasing music and other such expenses.
Following intermission, they played a medley of selections from the popular Broadway show Fiddler on the Roof, which began with a brief soliloquy from that show, performed with great effect by Russ Germaine. Germaine later performed an especially effective trumpet solo within the medley.
The performance concluded with Offenbach’s popular “Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld”’ a lively piece best known as the familiar accompaniment to the dancing of the exotic can-can.
Short, melodic and completely accessible, the program sent the audience smiling into a cold and windy afternoon. The next concert by the Jamestown Area Community Orchestra will be performed May 22, 2005.

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...