Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Troubles Abound But So Do Joys!

Photos of beautiful baby Caroline, our first great granddaughter are all over our house. Vickie is again helping Erin today during this difficult time. It is still a wonderful time but also a difficult time because the military leave for Caroline's father has ended. Today Josh returns to base for re-deployment to South Korea. So much sadness in the world because of hate and evil! My breakfast was ruined as I learned of the horrible shooting of our Republican congressmen while they were practicing for the traditional ball game tomorrow night that raises money for charity. I also know from Internet headlines that there has been a shooting and deaths in San Francisco; and as I write this, I am avoiding facing that knowledge until later.

One of the scariest things about such shootings is that a single crazed individual can wreak such terrible harm while the majority of Americans works so hard to make things better in the world. Finding out the shooter was from Belleville in our area of Illinois was further upsetting. An acquaintance of his was taped saying he was not an evil man. I think I understood what that acquaintance meant—that he had not previously done such horrific acts to warn us of how dangerous he was. But with Steve Scalise's life and another victim's life in critical condition, we know this so-called ordinary man did a very evil thing. And we have to determine to live as happily as we can with danger just as previous generations had to do as they faced dire problems and many dangers. So Congress says the baseball game will go on tomorrow night.

We were pleased that both “our” women's college softball teams were in the final eight who went to Oklahoma City for the national play-offs. Our granddaughter Geri Ann, who will be graduating Sunday from the University of Oregon, was a student coach this season for the Ducks, and we were pleased to see them go into the semifinals although our son's Texas A&M team was done on Elimination Saturday. We wanted in the worst way to go to the tournament, but common sense prevailed and we stayed home and watched on television.

Although Gerry managed quick visits to love on baby Caroline on his way both to and from Oklahoma City, he had to hurry on to Houston where practice for the Scrap Yard Dawgs was well underway. This is the second season for this new professional fastpitch women's softball team, and Gerry is coaching them this summer. Since those games are not on television or our computer, Gerald is following the Scrap Yard Dogs by phoning Gerry and by checking their website. I follow them through Gerald's reports, but may find more time to read about them soon.

I am spending a lot of time looking at photographs of places in Spain. Our granddaughter Brianna and her friends, who are studying there, are taking and posting astonishingly beautiful photos of places and colorful events in Grenada and Seville. The rich ornamentation on the centuries' old buildings and the lovely elaborate gardens are fantastic. I did not realize Spain was so full of loveliness, and I am enjoying it all vicariously.

Such great beauty in the world reminds us of the good that has abounded in past generations along with all the wars and evil deeds. Talking to a far-away cousin's daughter this week, I heard her explain that as a retired RN with their four children reared, she now spends her time volunteering in her church's food pantry and soup kitchen and other such community projects. I see Susan Geisler's postings about jobs available in her area and know she is trying tohelp those needing employment. I read the long article she posted about the sad problem we have in our nation with infant mortality, and know she is trying her best to improve that problem. I see my college debate colleague's post encouraging parents to read to their children. Now retired from a life in educational theater, I can tell she still cares about other people's kids and wants to spread any information she can to help. We have choices to make in life. We can be negative and despair because of the evil that exists or we can strive to be a part of those who work to create beauty and improvement in the lives of others.




Monday, May 29, 2017

Strawberry and Softball Season

We have been eating strawberries often lately. This is the second year that Gerald's garden has produced all the strawberries we can eat. He grew them and picked them and sometimes even burred them; but unlike the little red hen, he shares them willingly with me. Once again we have several bags in the freezer for next winter.

I make strawberry shortcake the way Gerald's mother taught me. Instead of using pie crust or the little sponge cakes from the store, she always used crackers in her shortcake. I started out using pie crust or the little cakes, and once I even make the plate-sized shortcake from my bridal cookbook. But I found I liked Mom Glasco's best of all, and that is what I still do today. Except now instead of sugar, I use Apriva and I use wheat crackers which weren't available when I began. I did use sugar for the shortcake that I fed granddaughter Leslie when she and Mike dropped in briefly on their way home from Cecelie's high school graduation. The beautiful Mother's Day plant that they brought me from Jeannie is definitely the highlight on our front porch.

This is the first year for the asparagus that Gerald planted in his garden, and he brings in a cutting of it almost every other day. It tastes so good and fresh. After I wash it, I stand it upright in a narrow pitcher with water in it just the way Mom Glasco taught me years ago. We eat it sparingly,however, because the Vitamin K interferes with our blood thinner meds, so I've put many meaks' worth in the freezer.

As always, we have watched a lot of college softball this season usually on the computers in Gerald's office. We watched on his bigger screen but turned off the sound of the announcers. That was so we could hear the radio announcers on his other computer because our granddaughter Erin was one of them. The two programs were not always in sync, but we did not care because we liked hearing Erin's sweet voice and laugh. Our thoughts are with her and Josh because in the morning, baby Caroline is to be born.

For the last three days, we were able to leave the computers behind and watch softball on the television screen. Texas A&M played Tennessee in the super regionals at Knoxville with fourteen other teams battling it out in their supers across the nation. The winners of two out of three games advance to the Nationals in Oklahoma City starting Thursday.

Friday evening's game was a big disappointment because A&M played poorly and lost.8-1, a lopsided score that should not happen in the super regionals. Then we thought we had lost again yesterday when Tennessee got ahead early. But seeing A&M come back and win that second game 6-5 set the table for an exciting game today.

I tried not to be too optimistic lest I be disappointed; and when Tennessee quickly got ahead again this afternoon, it looked like this would be our last game of the season. Then the Aggies came alive and pulled ahead. Then behind. Then ahead. There was one rain delay and there were the frequent delays that Coach Karen Weekly is known for. Katherine and I watched together in her bedroom. With the rest of the entire softball nation, we could not help but marvel and be inspired by A&M's pitcher Trinity Harrington, who had missed their regional tourney to spend the last days with her father as he lost his battle with cancer. Her team had rallied the best they could to show her support last week, and they knew how she wanted to win this one for her father, who had been a great supporter of her softball career. And with the help of her teammates, she did. The camera frequently flashed to her mother in the stands, and it was hard to stay dry eyed.

When Tennessee made their last out, the A&M tears were tears of happiness as they became one of the eight teams heading to the Women's College World Series, something little girls playing softball grow up dreaming about.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Busy Times for Farmers and Grandkids!

Dust is flying in the fields as farmers here hurry to get seed in the ground. They often have to be on the roads as they go from field to field or farm to farm. Although I usually cut through the country, the other day coming home from Katherine's after I had filled my gas tank, I took the highway. There I slowly drove a long way behind a tractor. I reminded myself, “If you like to eat, be grateful for farmers.”

Mary Ellen and Brian are not only super busy in the field and with their kitchen redoing, but they somehow managed over last weekend to move two kids out of their apartments as their school year ended.
I was only away from home last Saturday morning less than an hour running in to do an errand at Katherine's house. Yet I missed all the excitement here. Gerald was down at the end of the lake mowing the bank there when he realized his tractor was on fire!

He had to jump off and hurry up our long lane to get to his shop for a bucket. Riding his utility vehicle back down, he was able to dip lake water and put out the fire. Scott Cully, our good next door neighbor, came and helped when he realized what was going on. Brandon White was going by a little later and saw something amiss from the road and ran up fearful for Gerald. By then Gerald had things under control, but Brandon stayed until he was sure all was well.

A bird had built a nest inside the tractor and caused the fire with considerable damage to wiring. Scott and Sonja were here again that afternoon helping, and the repair folks brought down a replacement tractor this week when they took ours to be repaired. Gerald was amazed as he had never had such an occurrence before, but he has since learned that this happens more than we were aware. I used to have to lay down on the garage floor and coax out kittens from the inside of the car engine before I drove the car, but I did not know you need to check tractors for birds' nests.

Grandkids' summer plans no longer allow coming to the farm first to attend Vacation Bible School when they were very young and then in later years to help out with VBS in our village. This summer their plans are diverse and exciting. Trent was the first to begin work. Brianna and Mary Ellen drove with him to Kansas City to get him settled in a sweet little loft apartment in someone's home, and yesterday Trent began an internship at the AMC Theater Support Center, as their new headquarters building is called.

Brianna has a few days yet to get packed and ready for a hot summer in Grenada, Spain, where she will be immersed in Spanish at classes at the university there. (This trip is to fulfill a requirement for TESOL students at Murray.)

Sam is temporarily here from Waco and was able to with his mother on Mother's Day. He will be interning this summer teaching motivated kids from the inner city at a program in Austin. His group will be meeting at the University of Texas, so he is pleased about that.

Elijah is finishing his first year of teaching, and he will be supervising the Illinois Normal interns just as he did last summer. This is the program he participated in two summers ago which led him to teaching in Chicago.
Cecelie, his younger sister and our youngest granddaughter, will be graduating from high school in a few days and will be going the furthest this summer. She felt called to go on a mission trip to help in an orphanage in Kolkota, India. (I did not even know Calcutta was now called Kolkota.)

Her older sister Leslie is busy developing her new dual business—going rogue, Leslie calls it. http://leslieeilerthompson.com/marketinghome/ She free lances in both marketing and music work. One most recent client is her dad, for whom she created a website to promote “Mr. E's Bees.” She continues to perform as she has all her life (even as a a toddler when her mother said she always acted everything out instead of talking) and now she uses her university training to work as a music copyist.

Because the University of Oregon is on a term system rather than semesters, Geri Ann does not graduate until June 18 on Father's Day. She made the decision not to play pro ball again this summer, and I am hoping she gets a little time to rest up before she joins the work force. I know she is coming this way to be in a friend's wedding, and I am excited about that.

Tara, our oldest granddaughter, will continue what she does all the time—getting three boys to their ball games and cheering them on while also working full time at the new sports field house she has been involved in for the two years it was built. Fortunately, she has lots of help from her husband and also her mother, who lives near by.

However, Vickie may be busy elsewhere this summer although I an sure she will attend plenty of boys' games. I am saving the best for the last! Granddaughter Erin will be having her baby girl very shortly now, and I am hoping she will have a wonderfully busy and happy summer ahead of her bonding with Caroline Marie Simons before she has to adjust to going back to her teaching job.

Oh, I forgot to include Sam's girl friend Anna, who is planning a trip to see a friend in Germany, after a summer of employment caring for six children during the day. As I have anticipated the grandkids' summers, I have had to study up on my geography and look at maps to see where they are all going to be. I look forward to hearing their reports to enliven my quiet elderly stay-at-home life style. And I look forward to holding that first great granddaughter!

















































Tuesday, May 02, 2017

"Oh, Didn't It Rain"

Our family celebrations are much smaller these days with most of our family no longer in our community But we did have a pleasant Easter with the Taylor family. Trent and Brianna were both home from college and died beautiful eggs for us. After worship, we six gathered for dinner at the farm, and later I took plates into Katherine and her aide and visited there. Grandson Sam had surprised us oldsters by flying home for his birthday weekend, so he showed up at the farm coming and going while spreading himself thin to see both sides of his family. Getting to see her son unexpectedly definitely made Katherine's holiday. Sam did not surprise his cousins because they all keep in close touch thanks to cell phones.

Last Wednesday was Katherine's bithday, so I made her a cake I sometimes made her years ago—an angel food with a bouquet of real flowers with the vase hidden in the center hole of the cake. We took chicken and dumpling dinners from a local restaurant and had birthday dinner in her bedroom with the help of her excellent aide. As I had not been organized enough to know the time to send to Mary Ellen with Brian in the field, they dropped in later to sing “Happy Birthday” with us when we cut the cake. With gifts to open, a call from Sam and others, and all the cards in the mail and Facebook greetings, that was the best we could do, and Katherine was smiling and appreciative.

The Taylors are without a kitchen right now as they are replacing floor and cabinets and doing other rehab work. When Gerry came through here on his way to a softball weekend at Lexington, Mary Ellen came over to see him and brought Fifi to enjoy a bit of country life running in the fields since her life has been torn up too by all the workmen in the house with her. Before Gerry and Gerald took off in his rented pickup carrying the team's pitching machines, there was a demonstration of bird dogs brought up to the farm from Knoxville. Mary Ellen and I had to laugh to notice that Fifi was not intimidated by those big dogs. She marked her territory to let them know this was her farm. Gerry brought in four quail eggs for Mary Ellen to fry for Brian, which she laughingly and graciously accepted although she had never served such before. Then she remembered she had no kitchen—so I am saving them for her.

I listened to Friday night game on the computer and was pleased with the A&M's victory over Kentucky, and someone put a photo of Gerald at the game on Facebook. But weekend began going downhill when I learned that our Jeannie and husband Rick were driving home from Rochester and they would be going back Sunday afternoon to have same-day surgery yesterday morning to repair a problem caused by the port left in after her chemo. Jeannie kept emphasizing it was “not a big deal,” but I did not believe her for a minute. So when it stormed all night, I felt as I often do that nature was upset as I was. I do not know how much it rained because our rain gauge was run over at five inches when I emptied it the next morning.

We are on a hill side, so we do not worry about flooding. I was grateful that my diligent husband had noticed and made a point on Thursday to repair the very tiny “wanna be a gully I grow up” on the side of the slope on our lane. He also cleared the debris off the filter on the emergency overflow pipe on the far end of our lake. The first thing he asked when I told him about the rain storm was whether the water went over the dam. And I was able to tell him the overflow had worked perfectly thanks to his work.

But many people in our area as well as other areas of the nation did not fare so well. Lakes formed beside many roads here, and some roads became lakes. Our homeless shelter and many other homes were flooded. The Catholic church opened for those needing shelter, and the Red Cross came in with emergency shelter. And people are still hurting and coping.

Katherine had one aide out sick and another who had a car wreck, so I took the highway into her house to avoid the closed roads. We listened to the A&M-Kentucky game together on her TV screen, and we felt together the pain of defeat. Of course, we assumed we'd win again on Sunday, but we didn't.

I went back to town through light rain that evening to give Katherine night pills, but then drove home through torrential rain. I knew then I would stay home the next day and not venture out unless necessary. I slept very late and poured out another over five inches of rain from the gauge. Fortunately Katherine's aide was back, and I had the restful Sunday I needed. I prayed for Jeannie's surgery coming up, ate up left-overs in the fridge, found a play-by-play game account on Kentucky's website that let me follow the game, and looked forward to seeing Gerald and Gerry when they arrived that evening from Lexington.

Despite a fall the night before from catching his foot on a stob in an unofficial walkway between the outdoor pizza place and their motel, Gerald was in a good mood. With his hand he had bandaged up very professionally after he picked the gravel out, he and Gerry had me laughing during snacks at the kitchen table as they told of their misadventures. (Gerald had a regular doctor appointment today, and the doctor said his hand looked good.) I am sure Gerry was exhausted because he went straight to bed after his shower instead of running over to visit a friend as he wanted to do, and I think he and Gerald slept as good as I did the night before.

Yesterday after we saw Gerry off for Texas, I was focused on waiting for Rick's call that Jeannie's surgery had gone well. The good call came, and I relaxed. They stayed at their motel in Rochester last night, and today they were on their way home. I thank God for that. Gerry and the pitching machines are back on campus today, and he is cheerful on Facebook. Gerald has picked the asparagus in his garden and cleaned out the overflow filter again. He is ready for the next deluge.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Enjoying Spring's Beauty

Leaving behind the twittering martins swooping over our lake and the many resting on the telephone line up our lane, Gerald took us on a springtime ride to visit a cousin-in-law and his daughter before they headed back to North Carolina. He deliberately chose roads we don't usually travel to get there.

Seeing the roadside platform placed to view the geese brought memories of a long ago stop there with my visiting cousin Doug and a grandson sitting in back in his car seat with his sister buckled beside him. Somehow unbeknownst to us when we got back in the car, an insect mnaaged to get under the grandson's little leg. We could not figure out why he was crying although we kept trying to correct any problem. When we finally arrived at the family cemetery where we were headed and got him out of the seat, we saw the terrible red bump on the under side of his leg and the squashed insect. Other memories of that day are more pleasant, including explaining to his not much older sister why she could enjoy but not pick the pretty flower arrangements off the graves. That wildlife viewing platform reminds me of the sad little story that tore this grandmother up. Fortunately, the grandson survived just fine and is now teaching in Chicago, but I don't think we ever stopped again.

Soon we were crossing the highway over the eastern end of Crab Orchard Lake. Fluffy white clouds in the blue sky rounded down to the edge of the lake, and I inhaled the beauty and the peaceful change from the earlier sorry memory. Springtime beauty kept increasing as we drove through the many hills and hollows with roads now lined with the silver-green leaves of the autumn olives.(Or were those shrubs Russian olives? I don't know the difference.) Behind these short pretty little trees which are now deemed invasive, were the tall dark trees left over from winter with only a few giving us a hint of green leaves forming. The purple-pink redbud, however, was at the height of its glory, and an occasional patch of bright yellow blooming mustard plant added more color. After this bountiful blessing of roadside beauty, we arrived at the hill-top destination home out from Cobden. There we had a long and good talkative visit with Bill, who had recently suffered a serious fall, and with Glenna who was there to make sure he was taken care of as he recovers.

We left going back home a different route of hills. These provoked even older memories of when curvy Old 51 was the only way we had to go to Carbondale back in our college days. Gerald had an errand there at a favorite hardware story, and then we stopped in Marion to use one of our Christmas restaurant gift cards.

Only a couple of days later driving into Katherine's, in addition to all the early-season yard sales going on, there were dogwoods now in bloom adding white delight to the landscape along with the colorful redbuds. Many more tall trees were green with early leaves.

More recently in one of the older neighborhoods in town with its ancient bricked street that I love, I saw a large pink dogwood blooming beautifully in someone's yard. That reminded me of a lesson I learned a few years back. I like simple things, and I like old things. And I am not too good about changes. I had not grown up with pink dogwoods, so I thought pink dogwood had to be a variation some over-eager botanist had created-- just like our food manufacturers are no longer satisfied with plain oatmeal, but must now befuddle us with many variations. This wide array of choices makes going to a modern grocery mind-confusing and time-consuming. So I resented the pink dogwood as a one too many modern variation. Then I found out that I was wrong. It had been around for a long time. I looked it up just now and found that this lovely pink variety was noticed and recorded by a plant hunter named Marc Catesby in 173l.

I am now trying to remember that getting old should not make one crotchety and critical of inevitable changes that will come when needed or maybe when not. I can be grateful for caffeine-free tea for those who need it and the quick-cooking oatmeal or other products for those in a hurry—sometimes me.I can be grateful for healthier choices on our crowded long grocery aisles and I need to look at changes with more openness. There is an excellent smaller store with fewer and shorter aisles in town, and I often choose to go there. I am also aware that many people in small villages or poor city neighborhoods have no store that is easy to get to, and that makes my complaints about too many choices seem even more petty.

Rejoice in your blessings. Cope with your problems. And have a pleasant Easter everyone.

























































Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Celebrating Gerald!

A few years back, Gerald decided he needed to go see a softball series to celebrate his birthday. I cannot remember whether that trip was to see our son coach or one of our granddaughters play. Nevertheless, a tradition had begun. I think he has managed to go see games for his birthday ever since.

This year the softball series nearest his birthday was March 18-20 when Texas A&M would play Ole Miss. Nephew DuWayne was ready to be a willing driving assistant; the two of them always have a good time watching Gerry's teams. I was not up to sitting on cold bleachers instead of following the games in the comfort of home, so I declined.

I thought I ought to start the project of uncluttering my office. However, as always, I became too interested in old papers and would have to read them, so I did not get far on that project. I did manage to fill a big tall wastebasket and get those papers into the trash barrel in the garage. This is good for me because I am addicted to paper, and it hurts me to part with long-ago drafts or saved interesting articles that I might want to use someday for research. Long before researching on Google was possible, I had files of saved research on family history and other interests for writing I have never had time to accomplish unfortunately.

Since A&M swept the weekend series, Gerald came home in great spirits Sunday night. The shared the bleachers with fans, who with gave them credit for helping win and urged them to come to all the games. I heard the radio broadcaster telling how great the food on the Oxford square was, which was what Gerald had told me the night before. Vickie had primed Gerry to be sure Gerald had a birthday dinner there. With only one game a day, Gerry had time for visiting with his cousin and dad, so the whole weekend was successful. Gerald slept good that night back at the farm.

By Monday, the texts, phone calls, Facebook greetings, and birthday cards had started. Gerald gave me DuWayne's message that not only would Gerald's birthday breakfast be in Marion for our convenience, but they would even delay it until eight if I could come. I was flattered and embarrassed at the same time, and I assured Gerald to tell DuWayne I could surely make it to a 7 o'clock breakfast once a year! When Ernestine was here, I told her she was the only one I would go clear to Jonesboro early in the morning to eat breakfast with, but that was an exaggeration-–a synonym for a lie. Actually there are many people I would rise early for, but just not on a regular basis. Ha.

So on Tuesday morning, Gerald and I calmly traveled to town to share breakfast and laughter with his brother Garry and Vera and five of our nephews—DuWayne, Tim, Kerry, Bryce, and great nephew-in-law Eric. We felt even better when we learned that oddly all of the younger generation were actually working up in our neck of the woods that day anyhow, so coming up to Marion instead of Jonesboro for breakfast worked out well for them too.

Gerald continued getting birthday messages all week, and Wednesday brought the most beautiful one of all. This brightly multi-colored handmade card was an elaborate fold-down one with even its large envelope brightly decorated by our artist daughter Jeannie. Gerald had to take it in to show Katherine on Thursday.
Gerald's last official party was one Mary Ellen cooked up for Saturday night. Brianna had been on spring break all week, but at the same time, Mary Ellen was selling real estate and finishing up their April issue of House2Home's magazine. They had hoped to find time to look for Bri's apartment for next year at Murray, but they were pushed shopping for her upcoming trip to a roommate's California beach wedding at the bride's grandparents' home this weekend.

Our Freeport granddaughter Cecelie was also on spring break from high school, and her brother Elijah had put her on a train in Chicago to travel down for a week's visit their sister Leslie in Nashville. So on Saturday, Leslie was bringing Cecelie up here to catch an early Sunday morning train in Carbondale back to Union Station, where Elijah would meet her. So I was looking forward to seeing them.

Naturally they were planning to see Brianna and Trent. Mary Ellen and Brian invited us all to meet and have pizza together to celebrate Gerald's birthday. We were shocked to find when we arrived at the designated pizza place, there was not a single parking place available—not one! We hastily called Mary Ellen, who called the others, and we all ended up at another favorite place, where parking was available. And their pizza was delicious as always. We had a good time talking and laughing, and the younger four got together for even more visiting while we went home to contemplate our blessings. Cece ended up staying all night with Brianna, and I enjoyed a wonderful end-of-the-evening talk with Leslie hearing all about her new work as an independent worker in her home office. Going rogue she calls it. She and Gerald visited briefly over the coffee pot the next morning, and I assume Cecelie caught her 7 am. train and Leslie made it home to Nashville and Mike.

This week has not been so pleasant for Gerald as he had serious dental work yesterday, which was checked again today. He looks great in his new dentures, and he has seemed to enjoy soft meals I've served him of mushroom soup, jello,and ice cream.

Before they left for Mississippi, Gerald had hurried to get some CRP ground burned off, a storm-damaged shop roof repaired, and a couple martin houses cleaned out. The martins are already nesting in them. Today he was replacing a handle on the downstairs toilet that had quit working. No wonder we celebrated that 87-year-old man!!






























Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Fun Weekend

The fun started when we learned that Geri Ann was flying from Oregon into Saint Louis around midnight Thursday with plans to drive a rental car down to the farm. Erin was to be surprised since she did not know her younger sister could make the upcoming baby shower. Gerald told me with emphasis not to tell. Imagine my horror Thursday night when I texted Geri Ann asking if she were in Saint Louis yet, and almost instantly I received a reply from Erin saying: “No, I am not flying into Saint Louis until Saturday morning.” (I knew this already from her call to Gerald, but she probably thought he had not told me all the details, which included her plan to meet her mother-in-law there, who was flying in from Minneapolis.)

Since my copy of the sent text showed plainly it was to Geri Ann, I was afraid Erin would see that if she looked the text a second time. I did not want to be the guilty one ruining the surprise. Fortunately, I have now learned that the name of the intended recipient does not show, and so Erin did not suspect that I was really talking to Geri Ann!

I have a terrible time with modern technology, and I did not dare text either sister again Thursday night. I went to bed puzzled. It took me until the next morning to figure out that I had put Erin's phone number not only under her own name but also under Geri Ann's. Obviously, I am not too familiar with texting, and I guess I had not texted Geri Ann recently to discover my error. (I dropped and broke my phone and had to put all phone numbers in a new one.) Ah well. It is corrected now. Geri Ann was asleep in the brown room when we got up the next morning.

(The brown room is where people choose to sleep if they need to sleep in. Our house has a walk-out basement and lots of light enters, but three back rooms have no windows—a bedroom and my office and Gerald's office. The bedroom has tan walls and ended up being called the brown room to distinguish it from the bedroom in front with yellow walls.)

After a nice visit, Geri Ann was off to Johnston City to visit her long-time friends Cierra (Cece) and Dustin and little Matt—Geri Ann's god child—now a toddler. We knew our daughter-in-law Vickie and the third sister, Tara, were starting from Texas after attending Tara's three boys' school musical, and they might be arriving sometime after midnight depending how soon they were able to actually get on the road. However, some time during the night, Gerald had a text saying they had decided they better stop at a motel before continuing. I think Geri Ann came back late after visiting Gma Shirley and spent the night again in the brown room. Quite frankly, that was the last I even tried to keep track of those coming and going!

Saturday morning Vickie and Tara came through Anna and picked up the special cake with a pink elephant on top with at large pink bow (all made of icing) and Caroline's name on it. They went onto the event center at West Frankfort where some entrepreneur had revitalized the Old Fire House for celebrations such as this. Geri Ann was directed to go there to wait for whenever she was revealed to Erin!

A huge high ceiling-ed room awaited them there that had once housed fire trucks, and they wanted to make it pink and pretty for little Caroline's first party. So they were busy unloading table cloths for the many circular tables, table flowers with peanuts holding them in their vases, tables for signing and gifts, and bags of animal crackers for favors. They also had to gather various foods and set up to feed us the next day! I am not sure who all showed up to help. Gma Shirley was there to visit and help, and Mary Ellen and Brianna showed up before the day was over. Since the hostesses did not want Erin to have to prepare for her own party, we had the pleasure of a long visit with her during the afternoon before we took her down to spend the night at her Uncle Louie and Aunt Chris's house.

Sometime in here, Elijah had arrived from Chicago, and he and Trent were briefly at our house before they went shopping for baby gifts, I think. Before the evening was over, Geri Ann and Brianna had joined them for whatever mischief they had planned. Having Geri Ann with them was a special treat, though they missed Cecelie and Sam, who could not make it. By then we had learned that their cousin Leslie and husband Mike would not be coming up from Nashville until Sunday, so there would be a bed instead of a couch available for Lige. Tara and Vickie arrived at the farm after a late night supper in town. I knew they must be tired after their previous 36 hours of travel and party efforts. We quickly agreed to leave the door open for whoever showed up later and went to bed as soon as possible.

The next morning Gerald went over and picked up Erin as we both wondered why we had not thought to just let her borrow the truck the evening before. (But we had enjoyed taking her and, thus, visiting a little longer.) Because of our colds and also because I had been needed at Katherine's house, Gerald and I had missed church for a couple of weeks. So we headed out while Vickie and her three daughters were able to visit a bit at the kitchen table. Rather than eat in town as we usually do on Sunday, Gerald and I came back for a quick light meal before we headed to the Old Fire House to join everyone there.

Gerald was pleasantly enthusiastic about going to his first baby shower. While some of our men thought they just were not meant to attend such a party, a lot of them showed up. There were Glasco, Martin, Johnson, and Borum family representatives there as well as Crab Orchard high school friends of Vickie and, of course, her daughters' school friends from Johnston City. I was relieved we did not play some of the games that have been invented in recent years, and instead we just enjoyed visiting and table hopping and lots of eating. I loved seeing people I had not seen in way too long although I am no longer nimble enough to do much of the table hopping.

I did appreciate Gerry's cousin DuWayne keeping me up on the scores of Gerry's game going on down at College Station.  A highlight for me was seeing little ones there that I especially wanted to see in person rather than just on Facebook--one of whom was DuWayne and Vickie's pretty little granddaughter Camy. And now we have photos of them that Gerald took. Erin looked so pretty and healthy, and she proved she was ready for motherhood when she raced to the big heavy outside door and rescued her cousin's son Bentley, who had managed to open it—even though he is not yet two!

The big event,however, was seeing Erin open so many gifts and seeing the sweet tiny clothes that are so abundant for today's babies. I remember making six flannel night gowns for our babies—and they all four wore those gowns before I gave them away to another mother to use. I also had cute diaper sets given to me—little plastic-lined ruffled pants with tiny cool tops which were a new item in those days. Little girl babies traditionally wore soft light-weight pastel dresses made in the Philippines. I was blessed with an abundance of those because my sister-in-law Ginger had received a carefully hoarded supply from her family in Missouri when her daughter Vicki Sue was born. Ginger passed them onto me, and I think I remember ironing fifteen of them in the living room of our little rented house and laying them on the back of the couch to enjoy before I hung them up. I did enjoy that work although no one needs to iron baby clothes now. I am sure I passed those on also although I would enjoy fondling one of those little dresses again.

Now babies are dressed in soft footed sleepers as well as exquisite clothes for going out and about. Yet young mothers are still passing clothes on since babies grow so rapidly that newborn clothes are too quickly outgrown to ever wear out. Erin loved going through the large shopping bag of her cousin Sarah's beautiful clothes all carefully laundered and ready for Caroline now that Lily Mae no longer needs them. I saw Erin go through that bag twice enjoying those clothes showing them off, and I am sure back in Texas now, she is handling and dreaming over the pretty new things she was gifted with Sunday. Gerald's overalls (size 6-months)and a couple of other farm outfits for Caroline were especially appreciated by all—or at least giggled over. I want to see up close all the books Caroline received if we someday get to visit her Texas home.

I was at Katherine's house after the party, but family members gathered to eat party leftovers that Vickie fed everyone at our dining room table. I am sure they were all tired but happy,  I arrived home in time so enjoy this too.

On Monday morning, although it quickly melted, there was snow on the ground. Vickie and Tara were already long gone before I woke up at 8. Erin came over from Chris and Louie's, and we had a good visit before we had a final early lunch in town with Erin and her mother-in-law Roxanne before they drove back to Saint Louis to catch their respective flights back to Minneapolis and Dallas. I know Erin was very eager to get back home. Her husband Josh had been on a training event in California for a month; and as service people's lives would have it, he returned to their home just two hours after Erin had to go to Dallas to catch her flight here. So he was being “dog daddy” for their little bull dog while Erin was up here. He had to return to base the next day after she returned home, but she was hoping he would have some time off later this week while she is on spring break from her school. And if so, I am sure she is showing him Caroline's clothes.