Thursday, February 23, 2017

Keith DuWayne Glasco, Sr. (Aug. 8, 1937 to Feb. 16, 2017)

On a beautiful rural hillside caressed by balmy warm weather, we said goodbye to the body of Gerald's youngest brother after his long fight with heart problems. We knew Keith was in a better place and no longer in that beautiful wood coffin as we listened to the final words of his pastor. Barbara's parents and others of Keith's family were already buried in this rural cemetery not far from Keith and Barbara's home where the long funeral procession had stopped briefly for Keith's dog Hash to join us for this final farewell.

Our great niece Jennifer Jade Escue from Kansas City hurried to our car and joined Gerald helping me tranverse the upward climb on the soft thawed groud to the tent waiting over the grave site. Before we left, all were invited to go on to the church fellowship hall a hill or so away. Amid the visiting, some were taking a rose from flower arrangements to remember Keith with. Keith had been honored in every way his many friends and family could accomplish.

From Thursday morning when Gerald along with others of Keith's family saw Keith peacefully breathe his last breaths shortly after his pastor had visited and offered what turned out to be a final prayer with him, everyone wanted to remember all the good things Keith and Barbara had done for others.

Our granddaughter Leslie was already up in northern Illinois for the high school state speech contest on Saturday that her sister Cecelie was in, so Les had planned to stop at the farm on way home to Nashville. Now our daughter Jeannie and husband Rick also came down to grieve with us. It was good to be able to worship with them on Sunday morning. Although a previous appointment made it impossible for Leslie to stay over for the funeral, she did delay her drive back to Tennessee until after the visitation for Keith.  There she was not only able to see our daughter Mary Ellen and husband Brian but her cousins Trent and Brianna as well as more  distant cousins--some of whom she had never met.

Sunday evening we gathered at the funeral home on the Jonesboro Square, where in the past we have said goodbye to so many family members and friends.The line of grievers soon reached the bank next door, and the people kept coming until time to go home. While some had arrived from a distance, most were neighbors and local friends. Barbara and her sons and their spouses and the grandchildren and great grandchildren were hugged over and over as they listened to the expressed grief and affection. Sometimes tears came down the cheeks of those already missing their friend, and sometimes laughs and smiles were shared.

The next morning we gathered there again for a funeral service that was joyful and reassuring as we bid farewell to the dear one peacefully lying there with his hands holding one of his late brother Kenny's pocket knives and also a little metal angel a great grandson wanted Grampy to have. The pall bearers had been asked to wear jeans with black shirts, and the word had gotten around so those garments were seen throughout the congregation as well. I was silently thanking God that our son Gerry had arrived safely at 4:30 that morning after driving all night. His cousin DuWayne had tried to dissuade him from making that hurried trip, so I did not bother. I did try to not take away any of the very brief rest time he had at our house, but I was glad to visit with him a bit at that bountiful feast the church provided in the large fellowship hall packed with people. Soon Gerry would start the trip back to Texas to be at batting practice the next day, and we took Jeannie and Rick to their car to start their long trip upstate.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Laughter and Stories Keep Us From Crying

Winter has brought many good memories and wonderful stories while we gather together and and listen to one another talk of life and happy times.

What can be better than being at table with friends enjoying chili together on a cold winter day? A pretty table with bread made by the host is icing on the cake, but the true cake is enjoying each other while we make new friends and hear life stories. (The lemon cake served for dessert was very good, but still not as good as the stories, Laughter and stories cannot be surpassed. ) How will we ever forget that the long-married couple across from us first met when they were just eleven and nine?

He was visiting her church and playing the piano. He looked around and saw her and thought she was the cutest thing possible even though he had come with another girl who was considered his “girl friend.” Sealing the deal, the little girl he thought so cute winked at him!! She seems quite proper today; but even in the church house, she knew the proper response to his admiration at that early age! They married a few years later, and have led a productive life rearing two fine sons and sharing their many talents wherever they have lived. Since their childhood homes were miles apart , I do not know how they continued that love at first sight. If we are fortunate, maybe we will someday learn how that was achieved. There was another great story about his car break down when he tried to visit her as a young teen. Obviously, this successful couple both knew who they wanted, and the world is a better world because they did!

Last week besides his own doctor appointments, Gerald made several trips to Cape Girardeau to visit his brother Keith at the hospital. His heart disease had become seriously worse. Then at the end of last week, sadly Keith was sent home with Hospice help.

Actually he and Barbara have wonderful help already there on their rural hilltop. (They have wonderful help because Keith and Barb have always been quick to provide help to everyone they know.) Both his daughter-in-law Glenda and his granddaughter Lauren are outstanding experienced RNs and live almost within shouting distance of Keith and Barbara's, and they are very attentive and devoted. Their granddaughter Amanda also lives at the foot of the hill with her parents DuWayne and Vickie, so they also have a trained beautician for manicures and pedicures along with many other services that the nurses and granddaughter Andrea are happy to provide for the grandparents they love. Their granddaughter Tracy has years of experience in the dental field and was able to give Gerald some advice while she was down from Saint Louis to see Keith and Barb. Sons Tim and DuWayne, grandson-in-law Eric, and grandson Greg are all close enough to visit and help and be involved taking care of cattle, dogs, poultry, or anything else Keith would want done. Grandson Mark, though not living adjacently is within a few miles of Keith and Barbara's farm as is our brother Garry. Add on to that Keith's cousins nearby and all the friends he and Barb have collected and you have a community of help available.

Tim and DuWayne encouraged Gerald to come down when he can because they feel like the brothers--only Gerald and Garry now since we lost brother Kenny to leukemia-- make Keith laugh more. (Our kids always loved to have the brothers together to hear all the laughter that was produced as they talked of childhood exploits and neighborhood characters.)

As soon as Ernestine and Don heard how seriously ill Keith was, they started here from Wyoming. Ernestine was the only girl in that family. They were able to bring along their daughter Leah and granddaughter Emmerson called Emmie since Leah is home schooling Emmie this year. Despite living so far away, Emmie has made close ties with the Illinois relatives because she loves the farms and especially all the horses and dogs and kittens and chickens and ducks that she finds on the Union County farms. The Gamble clan arrived late Sunday night to Garry's place exhausted but eager to visit Keith and Barbara. Gerald was eager to see them, of course, but decided to stay away on Monday, so Ernestine could visit that day without competition while Keith was most strong. Those two were the youngest siblings.

Yesterday, however, we could stay away no longer. After a quick visit with Katherine, we took her hugs down to Keith and Barb. I was able to repeat to Keith the loving memories that Katherine had of him. “He always hugged me and whispered in my ear, and I had no doubt he loved me,” she said.

Tim had stayed with him again the previous night since DuWayne is scheduled for future nights. Family were pleased that Keith had slept better than usual the night before. The established routine for Keith was to get up and dress and have breakfast before going to his recliner. The TV screen is adjusted for his chair where he continues his habit of watching his favorite cowboy movies which Barb said he probably has memorized by now. Visitors come sit near him and tell him what they need to tell him, and he responds with typical love and laughter. When he tires, he lapses into sleep and that is good. Lauren, who was on duty yesterday, was quick to anticipate his every need. After lunch he goes into his bedroom to sleep if he wants to, and people visit him there. Once I glanced in to see Lauren lying on the adjoining bed laughing with him and the visitor.

Before Ernestine and Don, Leah and Emmie arrived, Barbara had told us how much fun seven-year- old Emmie had with our warm weather allowing her to play in the yard the day before. (Snow was deep when they left Wyoming.) She took good care of all the kittens, and with permission and encouragement from Barb had created what she called a “kitty buffet” with piles of food for each cat. The zenith of her visit though was to see a chicken fly up into a pan of straw there in the yard and then leave it cackling gleefully! Emmie was amazed to find a warm egg left there, and so was Barbara as she said they were not laying right now. Barb asked her if she would like her to cook that egg for her, and Emmie was delighted to eat the egg she had gathered.

When their family arrived, Leah reported Emmie woke up talking about that egg and said if she found one today, it was going to be for her Uncle Keith. Soon Emmie was carrying out cat food for the kitties again and snuggling with each one by one. Next Vickie Sue arrived from their home up near Carbondale on Rocky Comfort Road, and she had a Valentine gift for Emmie and colorful decorated cupcakes for all.

Just as Gerald had explained of his previous visits, their adjoining dining room had a table full of food that loved ones had carried in. (DuWayne was not above sending Gerry way down in Texas the mouth-watering photos of his Aunt Opal's famous egg custard pies that she and Bryce took down to them.) All the people coming and going were fed freely if they were hungry, and people usually were when they looked at the food. Garry had brought in buns and pork from Jonesboro's famous Dixie Barbecue along with pies. We had just finished eating, and here came our cousin-in-law Morris with this huge huge pan covered with foil explaining he wanted to get it there while it was still hot from the oven. People started exclaiming that not only did it smell good, but this home-made tea ring was a work of art. Lauren was quick to hand out servings to everyone, but I had to go look to see how beautiful that tea ring was. Barbara explained that Morris and cousin Judy are known as these generous cooks who regularly show up with tea rings and home-made pies for the sick and their families. Morris always donates a similar large tea ring to the local fall festival, which raises money for the school, and people will bid it up to fifty dollars or more.

After lunch, Emmie was quick to go back outside in the warm weather. One by one, each kitten was carried in and visited with us. Since there were three dogs n the room (Keith's beloved Hash, Lauren and Eric's little Murphy,and Don and Ernestine's Finnley), there were a few snappy interactions if the kitten escaped Emmie's arms. That provided a bit of excitement, but the best part was the kittens inspired Barb to start telling Emmie about all her pet animals down through the years. Barb pulled her wheel chair toward Emmie, who was soon enthralled.

I remembered sitting in their living room long ago and suddenly seeing a terrapin come crawling slowly out from under the couch. I assumed that like most farmer's wives, Barb had baby pigs and calves inside to warm up. But I had forgotten about the pet ground hog. Barb said Keith had found a tiny pink animal no bigger than your hand out in the yard and brought it in. They had no idea what kind of an animal it was, but Barb got out the baby bottles and the formula she used for baby pigs and started caring for the tiny thing. It turned out to be a ground hog and remained a loving pet for a long time until it was full size. It finally bit her after she had been asked to take it to school for the kids to see, and perhaps that excitement over stimulated it. There was also a story about a raccoon although it must have been a short story because I cannot remember how that animal showed up, but the photograph of it high up the wall sitting atop their horse collar lamp was adorable.

But the best story was of the pet skunk Barbara had briefly as a little girl. The family saw it on the highway, and Barb's dad stopped and retrieved it and handed it to Barbara. She loved it, of course, and the only time it ever sprayed was once when a dog threatened it and once when it hurt its foot on a loose wire. She kept it until her mother found Barb had it inside her bedroom and decided it was time for the skunk to go elsewhere. Perhaps the sweetest part of Barb's stories was getting to watch wide-eyed Emmie hearing them. A tiny little thing, Emmie has huge blue eyes in a little elfin face and almost a perpetual smile. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious.

It was getting late in the afternoon; and though we were reluctant to go, we needed to. But then Keith and Gerald's cousin Irma and husband Jim arrived from Jonesboro, and we wanted to visit with them when they were not in the bedroom visiting with Keith. At Gerald's suggestion, I had put on my coat and gone into the yard where he and Irma were visiting, when Gerald realized his cousin Joyce, who was driving over from Cape Girardeau, was almost there. So while Irma and Barbara directed her on the country roads to find the farm, we were back inside for yet another family visit.

I loved being in that familiar living room again. Let me tell you about it. While they were adding this room to the house the Holly Sitter family had left behind, a swallow had found one of the overhead beams they were using on the ceiling. They enjoyed watching her build her nest of mud attached to the beam and raise her babies there. Barb would not allow them to clean the beam after the bird family left. The nest has remained these many years with a tiny cloth bird sticking its nose out of the top. The outside wall is all rock with a fireplace in the middle, and three mounted deer heads from long-ago hunts. The room-length mantle is filled with framed photographs of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, horses, and other beloved animals. A pleasing collection of baskets hangs down from the mantle.

Beside the carpeted room with lots of seating is a long tiled walk from the front door to the kitchen and dining room, and that wall is filled with more photographs and memory-filled art work made by the grandchildren. Perfectly clean now, I know that tile walkway has had much traffic from muddy farm boots and the muddy barefoot feet of a host of happy children.

Oh, I must mention the two large gray hornet's nests—one on each side of the beam separating the living room and dining room. I have never seen a hornet's nest in anyone else's living room, but I love the looks of them in this room. Oh, now I do remember part of the raccoon story. Her nephew Kerry had giving Barb one of the hornet's nests, and that raccoon climbed up there and started to destroy it. He quickly became persona non grata, and that was the reason for his departure.

Today brother Garry phoned that Keith was much weaker this morning, so Gerald and Mary Ellen went down after lunch. Vicki Sue was there and had posted on Facebook she was sad, so I am dreading today's report when they return. I hope Garry and Gerald were able to make Keith laugh again today. Regardless, their hearts will be warmed this cold day by the love in that house on the hill, but at the same time their hearts will also be broken as they watch their brother's health deteriorate.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January Happenings at Woodsong

A nurse at one of Gerald's routine appointments asked him if he had had anything good happen to him. He was quick to tell her that we had just learned on Sunday that we are going to have our first great granddaughter expected at the end of May.

Although Erin and Josh were eagerly waiting to find out what the latest ultrasound showed, their only expressed desire was that the baby be healthy. Since Josh was on base, Erin scheduled her mother for a visit to go with her to the doctor for this important check-up. We immediately got that the good news that all was well, but that it would be announced on Sunday whether this infant was to be a boy or girl.

It was awfully late in the day when that video finally came on our Facebook accounts. Before it did, there were some worried texts and phone calls. Anticipation in Illinois was high. Finally the video announcement came showing Erin and her mother standing in front of Erin's travel softball team and opening a large box to release balloons, And they were PINK with a few red ones mixed in. Those who know Erin will not doubt that her child will probably be properly represented by a few reds mixed in the the pinks.

We were thrilled—just as we would have been if blue balloons had come out of that box. With three great grandsons already in our lives, we know how wonderful baby boys are. And we could imagine how much fun a little boy cousin would have with those three. But it is also easy to imagine how they will enjoy taking care of a little girl. (Many years ago, Erin and her big sister Tara relished taking care of baby Leslie. Those were our first three grandchildren, and the two older ones made Leslie a little princess. Forgive the digression please, but one pleasure of being old is that everything brings up memories.)

Being able to know the baby's sex is a relatively new possibility despite old wives' tales trying to convince us about how we carried our babies—low or high. Now that young parents can find out scientifically, they often want to announce to the world whether it will be a boy or girl. Others choose to not know ahead of time or not to share it if they do. Knowing does help to decorate the nursery or what kind of shower gifts to buy. (Way way back in time, all infant clothing was usable by either sex, which is why there are some adorable long-ago photographs of little boys in sweet dresses.) Gerald's next big project is finding Caroline Marie her first paid of overalls. He has already checked out the infant aisles at Rural King.

I am not sure why I have not blogged in January very much. I have not been that over busy. Christmas decorations were put away a couple weeks ago. I think the only one still out is a favorite small table cloth I use every year that talented Joyce Beasley made me long ago. Candle wax spilled on it, and so it is in the garage where I am gradually picking off the wax down to the cloth, and then I have to figure out what the next step should be.

Listening to the news has taken more time than usual. I think it is very important that we all be very watchful right now since our democracy may be at stake. It has always been important to be watchful, of course, but we have not previously had Russia trying to influence our election in addition to destroying Aleppo while threatening Europe. Nor have we had politicians' spoke persons defending “alternative facts.” Accurate information is always difficult to come by because the whole truth is often cumbersome and almost impossible to discover. But defending untruths is not only disgusting but about as unpatriotic as one can get. I cannot get over the reporter who falsely reported that President Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King. I am sure that reporter feels terrible about his admitted mistake, but my sympathy would not keep me from firing him if I were his editor. He has caused so much trouble by his sloppiness and laziness in not checking out what he was writing even if he did not mean to write an untruth. Others are deliberately spreading falsehoods. So though I would like to watch less television now that the election is over, I feel a responsibility to pay attention. That is one reason I have not blogged.

Despite often falling asleep when I sit to read, I have read considerably this month since an excellent aide has reduced the time I've needed to help care for our daughter Katherine. I did go in this evening to feed supper, give night pills and help her get comfortable and pick her choice from the guide of TV shows for night watching. I have read quite a bit of the book I asked Gerald to give me for Christmas and have continued reading a couple others I already had started.

This afternoon I finished the third volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. Thompson died before completing this third volume. Consequently, R. H. Winnick, a student and then assistant of Thompson, worked with him and finished Robert Frost: The Later Years, 1938-1963. I still need to finish an Appendix containing Thompson's personal notes about this well-loved and troubled sensitive poet who lived a long life despite many health and other problems. As I read about his final days, I felt tearful. And then I turned on the TV to learn Mary Tyler Moore had died. Who could not admire her beauty, her talent, her courage, and all she did to make us laugh? Thank you Mary Tyler Moore for all you did to advance the cause of women and to fight against diabetes. While we recognize the extreme importance of government, we must never forget the importance of the arts.








Thursday, January 05, 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas--or More

Our Christmas was different, but it was a good one. Our first pre-Christmas guests were Gerry and Vickie and Geri Ann, who had already had their family celebration at College Station. We had a good breakfast with Glasco kin at Cracker Barrell the morning after they arrived around midnight. There was a second Glasco breakfast there a week later when was Jamie Escue was home from Louisiana, but I was at Katherine's the evening before and didn't get to go to that breakfast. Gerry and Geri Ann were giving two softball clinics in this area while here, and Gerald even went along to the second one and was impressed. As well as to be with the Johnson and Glasco family celebrations, Vickie was here to help her mother who was recovering from surgery

Gerry did not stay as long as the other two.Vickie took Gerry up the Friday before Christmas to catch a 4:30 a.m. plane to south Texas for hunting and bird dog work, which Gerry loves so much that it is more fun than work. We fed him favorite foods that we had stuck in the freezer to save for him since he could not be here for the Thanksgiving feast. On Christmas day, he was texting Vickie trying to get pity for missing the family dinners and claiming to eat from a bag of chips, but I refused to feel even a mite of pity. His hunting work continued through the New Year celebration when Vickie and their three grandsons joined him for the weekend, and he really enjoyed himself then.

Jeannie and Rick with Cecelie came through Woodsong for a brief overnight visit on their way down to Nashville to spend Christmas with Leslie and Mike. With Geri Ann here from Oregon and Sam here from Baylor, and the Taylor kids off school, they made the most of Cecelie's visit. They also made plans then for a second cousins' celebration the day after Christmas when Cecelie would be back through and Elijah also would be driving up after his Nashville visit. In fact, Vickie agreed to stay an extra day just so the six youngest of the cousins could have yet another night together, and Sam's special friend Anna joined them since they consider her one of the cousins. (When I say night together, I am not exaggerating. They started early and left Woodsong for dinner in Carbondale and a movie and I think a bowling alley visit and ended up at Woodsong where the hardiest of them stayed up till 4 a.m. I was told. Since that was about the time Vickie and Geri Ann were gathering up their suitcases and three dogs to drive to College Station, I am not sure Geri Ann ever went to bed.) That same night Jeannie and Rick and I saw the same movie, Fences, in Marion. That was a late night out on the town for me, but I think we were probably home soon after l0, and Jeannie and I did not talk too late since they were also driving home the next day.

Christmas Day itself was a small affair for us, but quite lovely for me since once again Mary Ellen had us over to their farm for dinner. Vickie and Geri Ann enjoyed the Johnson celebration on Saturday, and her mother was up to that gathering.  On Sunday, they attended church at Stonefort with her brothers' families and were very happy to hear Louie and Terry sign together. The Taylors and us worshipped in Marion together and enjoyed beautiful music, the sermon, and seeing friends. While the Taylors went on to the farm and check the ham and last minute meal preparations, we were able to go by Katherine's and give her pills before lunch. Later Mary Ellen and I took her in Christmas dinner, and Mary Ellen fed her, and we all enjoyed the Christmas tree Sam had put up in her bedroom  the night before for the special dinner he prepared and the evening they had together. Geri Ann and Brianna came adding to the afternoon  festivities, and our visit probably wore her out before we finally departed.

Mary Ellen's house was decorated inside and out this year; and when we drove by, we had already been enjoying Brian's white star on the barn—the same star the Rix family put up there for years. As we stepped into their large kitchen and were greeted by Fifi, our eyes were delighted with her lovely colorful table with its many candles and places waiting for the nine of us. Our noses were delighted with the wonderful smells, and soon our mouths were rewarded with all the good food they had waiting for us. Sam arrived from going to church with Anna and Vickie and Geri Ann were there.  Like Gerry, Fifi wanted us to feel sorry for her not having the yummy food; but remembering her vet's warning after she got sick on human food, I did not give her a mite of pity either. After we had indulged in the dessert table with its colorful fruit, pies, Brianna's angel food cake and the chocolate covered peanut butter drops she had also made, we all gathered by the tree in the living room to exchange gifts and stories. (I love the stories about the pinball machine decorating one back corner of their living room.) We were all having so much fun and laughter that Trent almost forgot that he was supposed to be at work by 2, but he wasn't very late.  Sam was able to go on and help his little niece celebrate her first birthday at his brother Davie and Krissy"s house.

The day after Christmas I enjoyed visiting with family still at the farm, but I was saddened to attend the funeral of a writer friend.  Jari Jackson had asked for a "journalist funeral."  The funeral director and her pastor were not sure what that meant, but Mayor Bob Butler, Jon Musgrave, and  Pastor Bob Dickerson did an excellent job of creating one for a long time journalist who wrote for big city papers and then retired in her hometown and continued writing pro bono promoting good things here.

Gerald and I celebrated New Year's Eve by driving into Marion and having our evening meal at the new I-HOP, which we had not yet visited. Waitresses with bright clothing and bright smiles greeted us warmly as we entered, the food was delicious, and everything was so new and clean. We were surprised at how large it was, which will be great next summer for the baseball crowds.


Altogether it was a very nice Christmas season despite our no longer all being together on one day and despite the horror of multiple sclerosis. Our one tree is still up and quite beautiful to me. I usually leave a tree up until New Year's Day because that is what we did at our house when I was a child in Jonesboro. Once or twice, however, when the weather was so bad the kids had school cancelled, I left a tree up till Old Christmas that I learned about from Jesse Stuart, a day some English immigrants continued down in Kentucky and which some Amish still do.  Tomorrow is Old Christmas or Epiphany and our tree will be there to help us celebrate. The truth is I am leaving it up till I get around to it, maybe during the weekend or maybe afterward. Taking off all the ornaments and putting them away in their proper box and then pulling the tree apart takes up a large part of a day, and the family room will be a jumble until the job is finally finished. So my twelve days of Christmas may stretch out to fourteen or so.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Perfectly Prepared for Christmas


The tree is up and decorated in our downstairs walk-out family room. Left-over pies from Thanksgiving were thawed for Gerry, who could not be here that holiday. Final Christmas cards are in the mail, the ones I did not have an address for. In the old days, one could look in the phone book for local addresses, and that is what I did unsuccessfully in this day of cell phones. It finally dawned on me that I could look up addresses on the Internet, so I did. I even got the bags of plastic bags to the Salvation Army store since they appreciate them especially during this busy buying season.

I made a quick decision last Friday not to put up the living room tree this year. I planned to, but suddenly the thought of not having to unearth it and all its decorations sounded good to me. Then, best of all, the thought of not having to take it back down and store everything again sounded even better. So in a weak moment, I made the decision; and for the first time in 15 years, there is no tree in the living room in this house. Yes, I miss it a bit, and I am resolving to be better organized next year. On the other hand, maybe this is a fine new tradition.

Reading the latest issue of Springhouse, my favorite regional magazine, I had changing emotions when I read my friend Dixie Terry's usual column. First I was mad at myself. Then I decided I was angry at Dixie for making me mad at myself. Then I corrected that thought knowing I was just jealous. Then I found myself amazed and admiring her extreme competence even though I have always considered her a very talented person who seems to do more than any one person could.

She had me going all right until I came to her punch line after she had described the beautiful decorations, the completed baking, and all the Christmas preparations she had accomplished early in December. While I was still shaking my head and telling myself that I could surely do a little better if I started earlier next year, her next phrase stopped my whirling brain: “IN MY DREAMS,” she said. Ah well. That was better. I am sure her house is more decorated than mine and that she really has done all kinds of food making, none of which I have done. Nevertheless, the perfect preparation she described was only in her dreams! Now she could still be my friend!! It was that perfection we all only dream about that had made her untouchable and unreal. Thanks for the laugh, Dixie—something you have often made me do when you have written about your busy life.

Another fascinating Springhouse article was about Mark Motsinger, whose father Virgil received the Crab Orchard High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 after an outstanding coaching career at Southeaster Illinois College. Mark's grandparents were the late “Copper” and Irene Motsinger in our village. Mark is now teaching history in the high school at Carrier Mills, but back in 2000 after a successful 16-year career coaching the Lady Falcons, he was one of several people laid off at SIC, and he spent the next year teaching in a Christian school in Senegal. On weekends he helped out in a nearby village, where he actually bought land and helped establish a church. He experienced much we don't see in Crab Orchard. If you don't already subscribe, you might want to pick up a copy at some area businesss who handle the magazine, or just subscribe for $35 to Springhouse, 8250 Level Hill Road, Junction, IL 62954. If you ask for the current issue with Mark's story, I bet Brian DeNeal would send it to you.

I am also reading the new local book my brother Jim and his wife Vivian sent me: The Law and Judge Lynch: 200 years of murder in Johnson County, Illinois by Ed and Diane Annable. They had received a copy before I knew about the book because Diane is is Vivian's niece. An interesting good pick-up-and-put-down book, it is quite revealing of past times and attitudes. I have read a couple other books recently in addition to finishing the second volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. (I had recently re-read the first volume, and now I am on the third.) So I have had time to read even if I did not feel I had time to put up a second Christmas tree. But then, of course, I can read sitting down. (It feels good to have some time to read lately, except I am likely to fall asleep in my chair.)

Gerald and I also took time to go see the annual musical at the Marion Civic Center last weekend. I so enjoyed the beautiful music, the many quickly alternating attractive sets, and the brightly colored costumes as well as finding out what Tiny Tim did after he became an adult. What a great gift to our community from the First Baptist Church! We appreciated the Saturday matinee, so we could still get home early. It was pouring so hard when we got out that we changed our plans to eat in town. We did not even want to go through a drive-in with wind blowing rain inside the car. As it turned out, we had three grandkids drop by who have all finished final exams and were hanging out together. So we let everyone choose from our supply of frozen sandwiches that we keep on hand, and with the help of the microwave, everyone had a bite to eat.

Our Oregon grandchild, Geri Ann, arrived with her parents Gerry and Vickie from Texas just after midnight Tuesday night. Because of their late arrival, the Glasco breakfast gang very graciously committed to an 8 a.m. breakfast time at the local Cracker Barrel. That was late enough and close enough even I was willing to get up and make it! A dozen of us lingered for way over an hour talking, laughing, and taking photos. Three of us old generation (Gerald, me, and Keith), six of the second generation, two of the third generation, and tiny Gentry (wearing spurs no less) made it a four-generation event. That night the Taylors joined us for a supper of store-bought frozen lasagna and salad—one of the easiest meals I know of.

Since Gerry and Geri Ann are involved in two softball clinics and Vickie is helping with her mother who is recovering from surgery, we are not going to see as much as we'd like of them, but it is nice to have them in and out. Vickie is also busy taking care of her new puppy Gage, who is in Gerald's shop along with Chloey and Chance. She makes sure they are let out to scamper about every few hours. (The Archibalds couldn't come so they are taking care of Nelly.)

Our one tree is twinkling brightly right now while Gerald watches a basketball game. It is not piled with gifts beneath as in the past. I not only went very lightly buying gifts this year, but they were wrapped and mostly sent home with family members either at Thanksgiving or since then. Shopping is a more difficult chore than I want to experience, and I don't like mailing packages either. I have found time recently to do my long-neglected leg exercises that I never should have stopped, and I think I am already walking a bit better. If I keep that up, maybe I will be able to be better organized next Christmas! In the meantime, I am blogging to you and wearing the very bright sequined sweat shirt that Mary Ellen made me many years ago when she was a young single editor down in Tennessee. I always get lots of notice and compliments when I wear it in public. I am looking and feeling festive and am relaxed since I don't have to achieve Dixie and my dreams of perfect preparations.





Thursday, December 01, 2016

Beauty and Bright Lights Wherever We Go

So many folks must have used the weekend to put up Christmas trees and holiday lights, and I am grateful as I am enjoying all I see. I was in the mall yesterday to pick up my new glasses and enjoyed the decorations there as well as on homes to and from town. Today I had a brief dental appointment in Carbondale, and the dentist's reception area was so beautiful that I almost wished they had been delayed in seeing me. Recently redecorated, the room's blue and silver color scheme was magical with a silver tree and blue and silver ornamentation added all around. A few scattered brown natural pine cones was the perfect touch on the tree.

Before the dental appointment, Gerald and I recycled a trunk load of cans, plastic, newspapers, glass, catalogs, and cardboard. (I have been recycling magazines to other readers.) Then Gerald treated me to the Chinese restaurant for lunch before my appointment. With its presentation of rows and rows of food, I find the variety amazing as well as delicious. So much food that can only be described as pretty is a visual delight. We enjoyed seeing a young college-age couple opposite our booth laughing at each other and using chopsticks. Another family with two young children finished, and the little girl saw us watching her and consciously smiled and carried on a bit to charm us. Two retirement-age couples were in the booth next to us and were obviously enjoying their visit as well as their food. Many in the restaurant were dressed in work clothing and on their lunch hour. The guests and the staff were multi-cultural and as varied as the food. I had to rejoice again that we live in a nation with such abundance for so many of us ordinary people.

I remember growing up that a restaurant meal was seldom enjoyed by working class families. Even when we traveled, we often stopped at a grocery store and bought bread and bologna for the day's lunch. It was good, and it was fun. Occasionally someone might take me to lunch, such as when my best friend Lynn and I sold poppies on the streets in Anna because her grandparents were active in veterans' affairs. The Dillows always treated Lynn and me to lunch at the Anna Cafe, where side dishes were served in little bowls I thought were so cool. Menus were foreign enough to some of us that we would order, “The same.” Now many families can afford to eat out so often that mothers wanting more control over nutrition have to limit that.

I know there are many hungry in our nation, but with school breakfasts and lunches, soup kitchens, senior meals on wheels, and weekend sacks of food given for many needy families, we do not have a great problem of starvation, and I am grateful. (Anything we can do either by friendship or government to help families function better will help eliminate child hunger. Jobs are important, but often it is addictions and untreated depression more than lack of money that keeps children from being fed properly.)

After an errand and the dentist appointment, we headed down the highway south to visit Gerald's brother Keith and wife Barbara at their farm. The highway had just finished being reconstructed, and again I knew how fortunate we were to live with such magnificent roads. And when we left the highway and went onto country roads, there was no fear of the car getting stuck in the mud,which happened on rural roads in my childhood.

At the farm, three beautiful kittens came to greet us as we approached the door; and as always, Hash (Keith's constant companion) welcomed us with a bark when we went inside. Their granddaughter Amanda was there helping Barbara, and their great granddaughter Cammie (not sure how they spell that) greeted us with an adorable smile. Four fingers held up on her little hand made me realize how long it had been since I had seen her as a baby once at a family gathering. We visited and enjoyed looking at the pretty Christmas tree Amanda had helped Barb put in the living room window. As we left after our goodbyes, I got to talk to the kittens again.

After a couple errand stops in Marion and a brief visit at Katherine's, we headed home through the country. Sometimes Gerald takes the highway, but he was willing to go that way to satisfy my request that we take the time to go off the old Creal Springs Road and head up Cherry Valley Road to see the annual light display out in the middle of that rural area. Last year I kept seeing it at a distant and thinking I would have time to run up Cherry Valley, and suddenly the season was over and I had failed to get a close-up view. Their display has always been spectacular, and it is easily seen from a distance, but one needs to go and stop there and gawk as long as possible. You will only see part of it even then. It can only be described as fantastic. I really think everything is mostly new this year; but since I did not visit last year, maybe that was when so much more was added. There is a sign I had not seen in past years saying the hours were from 5 till 10 each evening except Saturday and Sunday then the lights go off at 11. The sign told me the family name: Yost. I have always wanted to meet these generous people and hear the story of how this enormous family project was started and what keeps them going. How young are they to be able to put up all these lights and other decorations? Where do they store all this between Christmases? The family certainly ended our day with pleasure, and once again I was grateful.

Going to the dentist during the beginning of the Christmas season  made for a fun day. There are no Christmas decorations up at Woodsong yet, although this morning I did carry in the pumpkin/squash autumn display from beside our front door. Now I will need to cook those decorations and start getting down Christmas boxes.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Giving Thanks

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” my 90-year-old sister Rosemary said when she called me on my birthday this week. She had kept the pulling of her upper teeth a secret from her kids, but the procedure went well and the upper plate was ready in record time the very same day. She was grateful for that and many other things.

She had ended up with a blood infection a year or so ago when a couple of teeth were pulled, so she was nervous despite changing dentists and being certain to have antibiotic preparation this time. She did not want her daughter down the street to know because Gloria would have wanted to go with her to support her. Because Gloria's daughter was recovering from a double mastectomy, Rosemary felt it was more important that Gloria focus on helping Jennifer without feeling conflict. My sister has always been an inspiration to me, and once more both her gratefulness and her independence were setting a good example for me as I am entering the frail elderly stage of life. Although we can't sleep together in our childhood bedroom any more while we giggle or she gives me advice, I still gain wisdom from her through letters and phone calls. I am very thankful for her.

After Gerald's brother Keith's hospitalizations, we recently were able to meet Keith and Barbara down at the Lake of Egypt restaurant for Friday night fish. We do little social activities these days, and this was a time of celebration that Keith is much improved. We are very thankful. A couple Friday nights later, I came in from Katherine's and was expecting us to eat one of our usual hurried-up simple suppers, and Gerald said his brother Garry and Vera were coming up for fish at Lake of Egypt. Would we like to meet them? We did and that too was a lovely visit. We are thankful for Garry and Vera.

We came home early from our time in Freeport so we could visit my only brother and wife in the middle of the state on our way home. It is no longer as easy a drive up to Mattoon as it used to be, and Jim and Vivian can't jump in the car and drive down here as in the past. My big brother was my hero as I was growing up, and some of my best childhood adventures were with him and our cousin Jack down at Mr. Airy Farm. Then when he came back from service, he gave me good advice as a teenager, and I liked watching his and Vivian's romance develop into marriage. Jim and I like to reminisce on the phone, but seeing the two of them in person was so much better. They were a wonderful support when our parents were still alive and then helping afterwards. So that visit was especially important to me. and I am so grateful for them and all they have meant down through the years.

If I counted correctly, Gerald and I now have 24 in our immediate family and one on the way, and I am extremely grateful for each family member. Although they were not with us on Thursday, we were thankful for the Archibald gang who traveled duet with Vickie from Texas and arrived Monday night.

Tuesday was a spectacular day with the three great grandsons all over the place “driving tractors, driving tractors, driving tractors” as 6-year-old Payton said when he stopped long enough to eat something mid-morning. Maddux and Aidan were also driving whatever they could find. And the lime carried in the house from their tennis shoes, which they are wonderful to remove at the door, showed proof that the lime pile Gerald provides for their digging was not neglected. Their dad Bryan was kept busy sweeping up. Tara reorganized clothes for their family so they could leave early Wednesday for the long drive up to Chicago area to visit Bryan's family. Gerald has been clearing trees and burning them along the edge of a field, so he created a giant bonfire, which was beautiful, and the boys roasted marshmallows. The Taylors--Brian, Mary Ellen, Trent, and Brianna-- came over and ate supper with us, and Trent and Brianna had great fun playing with the three boys.

When I walked out of my bedroom Wednesday morning, my birthday started with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” from Rick and Cecelie as they had arrived the night before shortly after I had gone to bed. Soon Vickie was presenting me with a gaily wrapped special wall picture especially chosen because she knew I would love it because of the birds. The day continued with greetings and remembrances and ended with Brian and Mary Ellen bringing me and Gerald birthday supper.

Gerald helped me with the turkey getting it from the fridge where it had thawed for four days. (I really have trouble now lifting a 20 pound turkey although I managed to get it from the store and home.) He went even further and pulled that plastic thing-a-ma-jig that unkind men put in the turkey's rear cavity. Of course, that part is never completely thawed. Gerald found out I was not exaggerating when I carried on about how hard that is to remove. Tom Turkey was panned and put back in the fridge for Gerald to put in the oven when he got up the next morning. Since Vickie and Mary Ellen were doing everything else for our dinner, I went to bed early. Of course, Vickie had also been at her mother's a lot and was busy making food for the Johnson dinner Thursday night at her brother Louie and Chris's house. On Thanksgiving morning once I made the dressing, I was able to relax and read!

We had 15 at our Thanksgiving Day table, and we certainly missed the 10 not present. It was Gerry's first Thanksgiving not with us, but he was busy with his new hunting operation on the Kennedy Ranch next to King Ranch in South Texas. Brian did an excellent job carving the turkey, which had always been Gerry's job. Jeannie could not come because she was sick, and I had to fight being distraught about that. I soothed myself by knowing how important it was for her to finally get some rest and recover. And I understand that she has. Since she will be in the full swing of things again on Monday, that is good. Knowing that Geri Ann is finishing her degree this term and will be with us at Christmas time kept me from too deeply grieving her absence although we all felt bad that snow in Oregon had prevented her and friends from the trip they had planned. And I had to be proud and happy Leslie had rehearsal for her upcoming Christmas tour she was chosen for. I figured that Mike may have been on duty. Whether he was or not, I felt pride and gratitude that he had accomplished this career move.

One big event Thanksgiving Day was the arrival of Josh and Erin Simons from Belton, Texas. They had started up the day before after Erin's doctor exam; they were excited because their baby is now far enough along to have fingers and toes. They have a girl's name chosen, but soon we were challenged to find a boy's name that Josh likes since he is choosing the boy's name. Our college kids got into that and the next hour or so was spent calling out and debating boy names.

Another highlight was that Katherine was able to come out for dinner with the help of an excellent aide. Getting to sit at the table and visit with her was a special treat.
Cecelie and her college cousins Brianna, Trent, Sam, and her teacher brother Elijah were in and out all week either sleeping (??) here or at Mary Ellen's. Well, they do sleep, but often most of it is in the morning. And they shop and go to the movies and watch movies and find numerous ways to entertain themselves. They also thoroughly enjoy playing with the Archibald boys. Sam got to visit with his little niece, and the photos he took of her were adorable. Of course, we had a brief visit with Anna once before they joined the other young adults downstairs. People also had individual plans and were in and out eating at their favorite places. Add to this mix, six granddogs, who all stayed in Gerald's shop when they were not out running and enjoying themselves, the very good week sometimes became somewhat of a blur.

Bryan ended staying up staying in the Chicago area since this coming week is one he needs to be at his firm's headquarters, so Tara bravely drove with the three boys back to the farm last night. To her surprise and joy, they quickly tumbled into bed the minute they arrived. Today has been another busy day of play for the boys, and Tara was getting them packed to drive back to Texas as soon as their cousin Kinsley's birthday party was over this evening.

Vickie had brought much food back to Woodsong from the Johnson feast and put it in the fridge in the garage. Trent was working today and Sam had gone back to Marion. Rick and Cecelie got on the road for the long trip upstate. But I think there were 12 of us at lunch who ate food from our holiday dinner combined with Vickie's yummy left-overs.

After every one left tonight, I took a remaining pecan pie to put in the freezer for Christmas, and there was most of Vickie's delicious ice-cream cake with chocolate cookies though out. With the abundance of food, we had forgotten it was there. So that too is ready for Christmas.

As my sister said, we have so very much to be thankful for. I am so sorry that food and shelter and safety and family are not there for everyone. Let's try to make that happen for others when we can.