Thursday, July 31, 2008

Our Big Wall Chalkboard

As I was blog hopping the other day, I came across a post that reminded me of my dad at Your Fun Family titled Fun Paints For Kids Rooms.

One of the things my dad did for us kids that really impressed my best friend who lived next door was putting up a BIG chalkboard for us. At the time, we lived in a double house and used it all for just our family. My dad bought some chalkboard paint and put it on the one wall of the upstairs dining room! He made it about the same size as blackboards were at school and then added a wooded chalktray. We got a lot of use out of that and when we moved, he made another one for us in the rec room he made in the basement.

Having one in the rec room was especially handy for keeping score and letting our guests draw on it at parties. Such an easy thing and yet we used it a lot!

When I got married and bought my own house, I asked my dad to put a big chalkboard in our basement too. I was just thought it was such a handy thing to have and would have missed it. I used it a lot to keep track of my eBay sales.

Harry did all this work by himself! What a dad!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No More Reaching To the Back of a Cupboard Shelf

Harry was always looking for ways to make things easier. When my mom wanted something out of her lower kitchen cupboards, it seemed as though it was always way in the back and she had to unload all the stuff that was in front first to get at what she needed. When Harry saw my mom struggling to get big bowls that were way in the back of a kitchen cupboard, he began thinking of a solution.

Harry remodeled our kitchen, putting in rolling shelves in the cupboards under the counter,(sort of like drawers but the sides didn't come up all the way so we could still see what was in there). To get things from way in the back became easy. The shelf just rolled out and we could easily reach the things in the back without having to move everything first!

I really think this is a wonderful idea and those who do remodeling or home construction should give it some serious consideration. (Sorry, I don't think I have any pictures of these.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


Today as I was viewing blogs, I got a very pleasant surprise! I came across a review of my book, "My Funny Dad, Harry," by Rene' Morris at Cheaper By the Half Dozen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seniors and the Computer

The other day in the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, I read an article titled "Seniors cruising the Information Highway" about how Sen. John McCain is an Internet "illiterate" and Kathryn Robinson (age 106) who began using the Internet at age 98! It said she started to learn because she wanted to email her family. This triggered this post about my dad. I have great admiration for any senior who tackles the challenge of learning to use a computer since I observed the struggles my dad went through.

By age 88 Harry was very hard of hearing to where it became extremely difficult to talk on the phone with him. It was embarrassing when he'd call me at work about something and I had to keep repeating things over and over and over so he could understand what I was saying. It got to the point where sometimes he never could understand. I'd get very frustrated to the point of giving up and saying "I'LL TALK TO YOU TOMORROW, GOODY-BYE" and hang up.

I suggested he get a computer so we could communicate through email. He agreed that sounded like a good idea so bought himself a computer. Little did I know what a challenge it would be for him. Since the whole reason for getting the computer was so we could email each other, I tried teaching him that first. Well, actually the first step was showing him how to get to his email. We are talking baby steps!

The first challenge was learning to use the mouse without right clicking every 10 seconds or so. Mind you, he can't hear so I had to write down everything so just communicating instructions or bits of information was a v-e-r-y s-l-o-w process! I was determined to be very patient though because I was excited that he was willing to learn. He had great difficulty using the mouse because of not only arthritis in his fingers, but he also was diabetic and had numbness in the ends of his fingers so couldn't really tell how much pressure he was using and would constantly be right-clicking accidentally.

Not only did Harry have trouble right-clicking the mouse, but also moving the mouse around the screen which brings me to the second challenge of being unable to read the screen because he had poor eyesight as well. Consequently, he had great problems even seeing where the cursor was. There's only so much one can do to make the words and icons bigger, and not all the word size is adjustable. Harry used a magnifying glass to read the screen. To make matters worse, when dad finally did get the cursor on the icon or the scroll down bar and went to click, he would look down at the mouse and then by the time he clicked it, he would accidentally move the cursor. Imagine how frustrating that would be!

Still, we persisted. He was amazed and excited to read order confirmations he received when I'd order things for him from his Home Trends catalog on the Internet. He'd say, "the more I use this computer, the more I like it." Dad was a very patient man and going slow did not bother him at all. I tried sending him an email from work but he'd wait for me to come over the next morning to pull it up for him to read. This defeated the whole purpose of sending the email. Well, I still had hope and figured in time he'd catch on.

Next, using the keyboard proved to be the third challenge we faced because Harry was never a typist. He always used the hunt-n-peck method. Now though, with the arthritis and numbness in his fingers, it proved to be more challenging than ever! I finally worked on showing him how to create an email to send to me but it took him about 40 minutes to type me out a one line message. Needless to say, he didn't send me any emails after that.

The final challenge Harry faced was his short-term memory. There were just so many things to remember that he felt totally overwhelmed and he couldn't help it. I wrote out what I thought were step-by-step instructions on separate cards by topic for whatever he wanted to do such as ones for sending email, using the Internet, reading emails. Just real basic stuff. I used very big print but still, we never even got that far for him to use them on his own.

We both felt very bad about the computer sitting there all day unused and paying for his Internet service that really only Gerard and I used when we'd come to visit him. I did set up the weather for him on his home page, but that was about the only thing he could really use it for on his own. He got the computer the end of July and by the end of October, it was plain that Harry learning to actually use it on his own wasn't going to happen. It was just too difficult for him. When I offered to buy it from him, his eyes lit up and I could see how relieved he was. Gerard and I didn't plan on getting a computer until after we retired because I had access to one at work and knew if I had one at home too, I'd be on it ALL day. (I was right by the way!)

At least we tried and I am so proud of my dad for being open to the idea and really trying his best to learn it. It actually brought us closer and certainly helped me understand his problems better which enabled me to show him more compassion and develop more patience. For those super seniors who have mastered the use of email or the Internet, I say BRAVO! I dread the day when my fingers no longer work right and my eyes can no longer read the screen and find the cursor--I just hope it's a long, long ways off!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

28 on Amazon's Nonfiction List!

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when I went on Amazon to post a book review for my husband and checked on how "My Funny Dad, Harry" was doing. If I scroll way down the book detail page, there's a lot of information there and it lists the book's ranking on Amazon. Usually the number is over 1,000,000 in best sellers, BUT yesterday, in the nonfiction category, it was 28! Someone must be buying it! Anyhow, I was very happy to see that, although it doesn't usually last for long. I used to check quite frequently but haven't in quite some time so it really encouraged me.

If you were one of the people to purchased it, if you let me know, I would like to add you to the list on my side bar. For those who've read it, there are some discussion questions related to My Funny Dad, Harry at the bottom of the book detail page for you to answer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

See-Through Door Is Nice For Cats

Harry modified his wooden doors upstairs by taking out the bottom panel and replacing it with Plexiglas, both the door at the top of the stairs and also the bedroom door of Sylvester's room. He did this so that when he'd come upstairs, he could see where the cats were. If they were by that door, then he'd go in through the kitchen door instead. For Sylvester's room, it allowed Sweet Thing and Sylvester to see each other without actual contact. They were always arch enemies though and never became friends. They were both in tact male cats and very territorial! It was very helpful though to see where Sylvester was before entering his room. Sylvester had feline aids so was kept separate from all of dad's other cats. He loved to be pet though and was usually "Mr. Nice Nice." Of all the cats I had contact with, he was the only real "lap cat."

The modified doors worked very well but had to be changed back when it came time to sell the house. Most people, after all, would want privacy in their bedroom so a door with a window in it wouldn't be a good thing.

When I asked my dad if he could make a door for us that we could use to close off the basement so the cats wouldn't go down there when we didn't want them down there, he designed this special door for us. He used Plexiglas in it so that the light could still shine through and also so we can see if someone or something is on the other side of the door. It works well and I'm very happy with it. So is my cat, Spunky Doodle. The other day she followed me down there but didn't come up when I did. My husband didn't know she was down there and closed the door! When I was going to bed at 10:00, I saw her on the other side looking in patiently waiting for someone to open the door for her. Poor Spunky Doodle! (She wrote about this episode on her cat blog on (Cat Corner-MEOW) section.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Four Things

The Zoo Crew tagged "My Funny Dad, Harry" blog so here are the responses I think my dad would give:

Four jobs I've had:
1) bicycle repair shop
2) tying knots on a production line
3) packaging designer a St. Regis Paper Company
4) church elder, trustee, treasurer (volunteer)

Four movies I can watch over and over
Never watched movies.

Four places I've lived:
1) Garrettesville, Ohio
2) Parma, Ohio
3) Cleveland, Ohio

Four TV shows I love:
1) Perry Mason
2) Andy Griffith
3) Matlock
4) All In The Family

Four places I've vacationed
1) Florida (before marriage)
2) Pennsylvania (Took kids to Fairyland Forest)
3) Massachusetts (relatives)
4) Niagra Falls (One-day trip with our family)

Four of my favorite dishes
1) Mashed potatoes
2) Ice Cream (He'd sometimes have it for breakfast!)
3) Graham Crackers
4) Pie
(is it any wonder he was diabetic???)

Four sites I visit daily
(I'm sure this refers to computer sites, but he didn't go on any daily so I'll list the places he went daily)
1) Front porch to feed cats and put out fresh water.
2) Upstairs to feed cats and clean litter boxes.
3) Basement or Garage to build stuff.
4) Afternoon nap in a chair.

Four places I would rather be right now
1) No where could beat heaven!

People I tag:

- Ubiquitous, a caffinated student blog

- Lesson in Life

- A Simple Life

- Is 8 Enough

- Karen and Gerard Zemek

- Mums

Please link to me in your post as well! Think of it as free blogertisement.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Striper Shares About Some Fun With Harry

Hi, I'm Striper. I am a "ghost" writer on this blog. I want to share with you about what fun I had with Harry. He was a very nice old man who let me climb all over him! I loved Harry very much. I lived outside and found his porch one day. Many other cats were there too, but sometimes, I could find a time when I would go when they weren't around. In the picture, I am sitting on top of the Kitty Motel that Harry made for us stray cats.

Harry put food and water out for us every day. His daughter, Karen, would visit him every morning before work and on the weekend so I got to know her too. She always liked petting me. I was very surprised that one day, Harry let me come into his house. Blackie and Timi already lived on the main level with him and didn't really like the idea of sharing their territory with me. Softie and Sweet Thing lived upstairs and they didn't even let me come in with them at all! I sought out my own territory in the basement.

I would climb on Karen sometimes, but I liked climbing on Harry better--he had a nice big back that he let me ride on! He would dance in front of the mirror with me on his back--what fun! One day, Karen came over and wanted to get my picture riding on his back, but I just wasn't in the mood that day.

The basement had a lot of cool hiding places. Karen brought me a toy for Christmas that she put under the desk that I laid on top of all the time. I remember making Harry and Karen and (even her husband) laugh when I bat that ball around the circle. No matter how hard I hit it, I couldn't get it out! I loved walking on top of Harry's workbench too. He had all kinds of stuff on it. I liked hiding in the clothes chute and when I got sick, I went up on top of the suspended ceiling tiles. I was up there for several days and Harry couldn't reach me to get me down. I finally came down on my own. He brought me tuna treats to entice me down, but I was too sick to enjoy it.

One of my favorite things Harry did was give me catnip. It made me so crazzzzy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cat Books From Dad

I just finished reading Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the files of a Cat Shrink by Pam Johnson-Bennett. It was really a funny and educational book about dealing with strange cat behaviors. It reminded me of the cat books I got from dad (some when he was alive and some when I had to clean out his house after he went to be with the Lord).

Here's the list:

Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat, NOT a Sour Puss (also by Pam Johnson-Bennett)

Ain't Misbehavin' by Wright and Lashnits

Pet Speak, Speak Your Pet's Secret Language by editors of PETS

Preventions Symptom Solver for Dogs and Cats

What My Cat Taught Me About Life by Nikki Anderson

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.