Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springtime in Southern Illinois

Driving to town provides welcome change from the sparse color of recent winter drives.  Redbuds reached their peak of beauty in our area for Easter weekend. The dogwood here is just beginning to bloom. The smell of freshly mowed grass is in the air, and the green lawns sport redbuds, peach blossoms, and crab apple blooms. I like the bright yellow blobs of dandelions in many lawns, and they make me think of our late friend Zella Cain, who also liked dandelions.

 Not all but most of the lacy white blossoms on pear trees have now been replaced with small green leaves matching the abundant greenery of grass and the leaves on shade trees during this annual reawakening. However, trees in woods along the roadside seem slower to achieve leaves, and that makes the appearance of the occasional redbud blossoms peeking through bare brown limbs especially lovely. 

Unplowed fields are often covered with the pinkish purple of henbit, and occasional bunches of yellow mustard plants are showing up.  The large patch of daffodils that I annually sneak a bouquet from has now been replaced with lovely paperwhites that seem extraordinarily abundant this year. I assume these daffodils and paperwhites were planted by the same woman oh so long ago beside a house no longer there.  She would be surprised at how they have spread out over this large area beside the road and up into the bordering woods.  

Although we had a smaller group than usual for Easter at the farm, Cecelie persuaded her mother to take her to Bloomington, where she caught a ride down with her brother Elijah at Illinois State.  Despite the pressure of end-of-semester work coming up, Brianna came home from Murray State.  These kids all landed at Mary Ellen and Brian’s farm house and stayed there, but were in and out of Woodsong as they planned their usual group shenanigans, which this year included kidnapping their cousin Sam to join them despite his not feeling well.  (Yesterday’s definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease started him on a 21-day regimen of antibiotic and the promise of feeling better in ten days. This was a relief.  How he has kept going full speed despite growing sicker all the time is beyond me.) 

These kids went over and volunteered to help hide eggs on the church lawn at our village church, and they stayed up to all hours talking over summer plans, current happenings, and the transitions in their lives. They did all their customary childhood activities including dying eggs and making Easter nests on the lawn.  Mary Ellen had volunteered to do the centerpiece for our dining room table, and it was very cute with the metal rabbit she had found the previous weekend at Hannibal, MO. She hosted the egg dying and brought over the bunny cake and the goodies for the kids to decorate it. (I think she was seven or eight when I turned over that decorating over to her.) 

Elijah gifted us with a beautiful song at worship in the village before we gathered for Sunday dinner here.   Katherine had worked out precision plans for an aide to bring her out for Easter dinner, but she was unusually weak and felt too bad to come.  The evening aide did get her to church Sunday night for at least part of the service.
Since our Georgia families were involved with softball games at Athens’ Jack Turner Stadium, we spent some time both Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching that series on the University of Georgia website.  We won two out of those three games and were disappointed again today to lose a home game against Georgia State.  Next we play three games against Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Both Gerald and Brian have been busy lately burning the limb piles from winter clearing. Gerald has cleaned out flower beds, mowed the huge lawn he has created, plowed the garden and done some planting already. Brian began farming this week after the delay caused by the heavy rains.

Somehow Gerald has found time to go with his brother Keith over to Southeast Missouri Hospital at Cape Girardeau to sit with their brother Garry, who is there with Ginger, the love of his life.  Our sister-in-law has been the victim of multiple strokes, seizures, and the resulting problems since December of 200l.  (There had been previous episodes, but that 2001 stroke was the disabling one that they have had to cope with.)  Garry and Ginger are both heroes in my view.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Go Go Go Joseph

My week started with my strains of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat in my brain.   I would be thinking of something else completely but would suddenly realize my thoughts were being accompanied in the background by “Jacob, Jacob, and Sons” or “Poor, poor, Joseph…” or some other memorable melodic phrase. I don’t remember experiencing this phenomenon so intensely before, but it was a pleasant two-day aftermath of a quick one-day trip to Nashville to see and hear granddaughter Leslie performing at the Larry Keeton Theater there.
Jeannie came in slightly after midnight last Thursday on her way down to Nashville for the last weekend of the show.  I had just gone to bed when I heard her quietly letting herself in the unlocked front door.  I’d gone on to bed because I had begun to be a bit nervous as she had texted me she was on her way down with stops along the way.  I knew that probably meant bike-riding stops; and being a mother, I can easily start imagining someone being assaulted or passing out on a bicycle trail somewhere. To not allow myself to worry, I decided to go to sleep and when I woke up to go to the bathroom if Jeannie wasn’t in the house, then I’d call Rick and start praying. (Actually I had already said prayers for her safety just in case she needed divine help.)   But blessedly my motherly fretting was unfounded because soon she was here and in bed, and without greeting her, I drifted into sleep.

As we breakfasted the next morning, she offered to come back to take me to the closing night of Joseph as she knew I would like to go. That seemed like a lot of driving to ask anyone, so I asked Gerald about the possibility of his taking me to Paducah to cut off a couple hours driving time for her.  He immediately sweetly assented, and that is what we did with a lovely lunch at Olive Garden before Jeannie and I repeated her trip to Music City and Gerald went back to the farm.  Gerald and I had visually feasted on the newly blooming red buds all the way to Paducah, and the spring sights intensified the further south Jeannie and I traveled.

We arrived in time for a leisurely visit with Leslie and Mike, and I was more than pleased with their new home in the city.  A large lot with a big back yard, which they had fenced for their dogs Millie and Sidney was in a neighborhood with well established beautiful trees.  The one in their side yard with ivy climbing it really took my eye.  Inside a lovely staircase and hardwood floors welcomed us.  Since they have not started work on the two upstairs bedrooms, I didn’t accept the invitation to go up, but I loved all the hard work this young couple and their friends have already accomplished on the first floor. Kitchen counters that their two fathers helped Mike install one weekend were beautiful.  The new gray couch selected for the family room with its gray tile flooring that Mike put down there and in the kitchen was quite lovely and comfy. Newly painted walls and redone furniture all spoke of hard work and good taste.  Jeannie had an errand to do and I took a little nap after Leslie calmly packed a small bag and took off for the theater.  She loves to sing and entertain, and she does so without any show of nervousness or diva self centeredness. 

The Larry Keeton dinner theater is just one of many activities located in FiftyForward Donelson Station, which as I understand it was once a school building. I think the theater is in the former gymnasium.  Now guests at the many tables are served dinner by various youth groups taking tips for their hard work. Thus, these kids are given a theatrical experience while they fund raise. I have never quite figured out the organizational structure of this Senior Center for the Arts, but it offers many educational, performing, and exhibition opportunities for not only older adults but for all ages.  Impressive volunteer efforts are apparent throughout the Center and illustrate what a community can create working together.  

Large white dogwoods in full bloom lined the front of the building as we entered to settle in for the upcoming show.  We hadn’t come for dinner, so we sat in back seats as the curtains opened for the sing-through performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s kaleidoscopic styles of music ranging from ballads to county to calypso and more.  Tim Rice’s lyrics retold the Genesis story of a boy who was Jacob’s favorite son of his favorite wife Rachel. Flaunting his favored status and his beautiful coat of many colors, Joseph so irritated his brothers that they sold him into slavery and told Jacob a wild animal had killed him. The Ishmeelites sold him down in Egypt to Potiphar.  Joseph was a successful slave until his attractiveness brought attempted seduction efforts by his owner’s wife.  Innocent Joseph was thrown into prison and it seemed his life was ruined.  But his ability to discern the meaning of dreams reached the ears of Pharaoh, who delighted us theater goers with his Elvis Presley impersonation and delighted Joseph by putting him second only to himself in the kingdom.  The predicted famine came about and brought Joseph’s brothers down from Canaan to buy grain only to find their brother was now as powerful as he had been in his childhood dreams.  Their repentance and Joseph’s forgiveness brought a reunion with Jacob, played by Larry Keeton himself.  The musical ended with the feel-good emotions reconciliation brings about.

Our feel-good emotions came from hearing our Leslie in a role she had long had on her to-do list. Narrating in song throughout the performance, she lived up to the critic who had written, “Her vocal quality is pitch-perfect, strong and simply lovely.”  After all the ending hoopla and recognitions, she and the rest of the cast were yer to strike the set and clean things up for the next upcoming production.  After hugs and goodbyes, we left to fill up with gas at the station next door to the theater, and Jeannie expertly maneuvered us through the city and onto to Highway 24 back to Illinois. We were back at Woodsong shortly after midnight, even earlier than I sometimes arrive from Katherine’s when I help out there.  When I woke up the next morning,  Jeannie had just pulled out of the driveway on her way up to visit Elijah and go to church with him.

Just as we had Friday night when we watched Georgia win 6-1, that afternoon Gerald and I ate in his office as we watched the Louisiana State University website to follow the third game in the weekend softball series. Gerald had watched Saturday night’s tie game, which we lost 5-4 while I was in Nashville. Sadly we lost again on Sunday 13-11 making us now 35-8.  Katie Brown, who had grown up just south of Baton Rouge, showed her stuff with two home-runs and so did Tina Iosefa, one a three-run homer.

Georgia will be in Atlanta tomorrow night playing a non-conference game against Georgia Tech, and it will be shown on ESPN3.     


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ever Changing

At our other farm home, I paused each morning as I walked through the dining room on the way to the kitchen. There through the sliding glass doors, I’d check the pond for that day’s update.  Here in this house, I look out the living room windows to see what is happening on the lake. Ever changing, it always pleases me.

One morning last week, the suface sparkled with a million diamonds gleaming gloriously under the warm bright sun. The next day, the surface was darkened reflecting a dome-like covering of gray-black clouds over the entire farm. More than seven inches of rain came that night, and we woke to see the water brown from mud washed in and perhaps stirred up from the bottom.  The next day, the brown had lessened.  And today it was almost clear again. 

Through it all we have been visited with bluebill ducks who have stopped here  temporarily.  Since various varmints annihilated our home-grown ducks, we are always excited when visitors stop by.  Gerry said they probably left Mexico during the early part of March. When they move to the other end of the lake, we fear they have moved on north, but then some will return to our end for us to enjoy their bright white sides contrasting with  glossy black feathers.  As I walked to the mailbox at the end of our lane, I was relieved to see they are still with us.

Gerald was surprised to look out a couple weeks ago and see the telephone wire beside our lane almost filled with martins lined-up there. He hadn’t realized it was time for their return, and he hurried and cleaned out his houses for them, and they settled in.  Now the view of the lake often features their graceful circling and swooping as they fly down for insects or perhaps for a drink.

Busyness last fall  kept me from searching out our bird feeders. This is the first year since we’ve lived here that we were unable to look out the kitchen window to see the winter birds feeding there on the deck.  When the snow blanketed everything, I felt bad until I found out  Gerald had lined our lane with bird seed, and I saw multitudes feasting there. (He has a tendency to do things in a big way.)

I also failed last summer to get the hummingbird feeders up until the very end of summer. I have been meaning to check with my next-door neighbor when I need to get them hung because I do not want to delay as I did last year.  These pretty little birds whirring and fighting each other as they gather around the deck feeders are an interesting addition as we look out toward the lake at the constantly varying vision there.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Home Again and Hoping for a Less Busy Week

Drooping yellow daffodils that I had swiped from the roadside still sat in blue glasses on tables when we returned from a weekend at the University of Missouri softball games with the University of Georgia. The bouquets  still looked good when we left, but they and some pretty glass serving pieces not yet put away reminded me of the busy week before we left for Columbia.

Katherine had a couple of aides out, and I spent considerable time there.  On Tuesday afternoon when there was a gathering of our church  women that night at our house, Jeannie texted that she and Cecelie were on their way down from Freeport—but they’d entertain themselves.  That was good, but I was glad she gave up sleep so that she and I had a long late night visit at the kitchen table. Despite their being on spring break, Rick did not come until the next night because he had a track meet to attend.  (He and I had a nice visit before they left again,  however.)

Jeannie chose to come a day early so that she could get another lick in on her goal of riding her bicycle down the entire length of the Mississippi River.  She and Rick had gone from Cairo across the bridge and down into Kentucky during their Thanksgiving visit, and she wanted to add a few miles onto that before next summer.  Leaving Cecelie at Woodsong on Wednesday while I went to Katherine’s, she completed another 20 miles or so almost reaching the Kentucky border this time. I am not sure if she plans another stint before she takes off in earnest with Rick accompanying her with the truck—eliminating the need for back riding to get the bike returned to the parked van.

Thursday morning they left Rick’s truck at the farm and took off for Nashville to be there for Leslie’s opening night of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at the Larry Keeton Theater.  I have no idea how Leslie and Mike are accomplishing all they are doing with full time jobs and a newly bought house to fix up. But then, frankly, I have always wondered the same thing about our children and their spouses and their multiple careers and projects. So I guess Leslie and Mike are just following their elders’ examples. Fortunately, Les and Mike are young and strong and healthy.  I love the audio Jeannie posted of one of Leslie’s songs. Since the belongings they had left at Woodsong were gone when we came home, I assume they spent Saturday night here before they traveled up to stop at Elijah's church to worship on their way back to Freeport. 

Our nephew DuWayne and his wife Vickie are long-time softball fans, and they came up Friday morning, and we left for the five-hour drive to Mizzou. We picked up Mary Ellen at their farm for her first opportunity to see Geri Ann, a sophomore now, play college ball. She was also very excited to see her niece Tara since they have always been super close.  Mary Ellen was Tara’s first baby sitter the summer Tara was born. (Vickie would bring her over, and I would seeing her having a sweet mother-daughter talk with her baby before she brought Tara in.  We got to enjoy her until Mary Ellen woke up, and we were there to help if Mary Ellen needed us.)  Then a couple of decades later, Tara served as a summer nanny for Mary Ellen’s Trent and Brianna. 

After stopping for lunch on the way, we had plenty of time to check in at our motel just a couple of miles from the ball park although we were disappointed we hadn’t been able to get rooms at the same place as the team. After hugs and greetings, we sat with Gerry’s wife Vickie to watch what turned out to be a very disappointing first game of the series since we lost 8-6.  (Yes, there are two Vickie Glascos in our family as well as one Vicki Glasco Escue. There were some mixed-up medical records once, but that is not a problem since our Vickie moved to Georgia.) After the game, Georgia softball girls were having a catered dinner at their motel;  and since we lost, that was just as well since none of us were in a mood to celebrate. 

We assumed we’d celebrate the next night, but instead that late night supper with Gerry and Vickie was also a consolation dinner because again we lost to Missouri—this time with a walk-off home run changing the tied score to 6-3.  Tara had already taken the Georgia team to dinner when we all met up, but she came with us, and we loved this opportunity to visit with her.  Geri Ann and the team were required to get an early closing to their day, so we didn’t have the pleasure of her presence.

Sunday was our last chance to play like we usually do, and we did it winning 6-2, which made everyone’s trip back home much more pleasant.  It was great fun seeing Alex Hugo hit her nation-high 15th homerun of the season and seeing the hugs she received from her Kansas grandmother after the game.  For several of us, the trip to Columbia was the closest trip we would have all year to see UGA play.  Paige Wilson had a very large family delegation from Chicago, and it wonderful to meet them and Paige made them very proud all three games. I loved seeing her tiny toddler niece walk by wearing her Auntie Paige Bulldog shirt.  Georgia is now 30-5, and they will be at home to give their players some rest for the Wednesday game and next weekend’s conference games with South Carolina. I think they are pumped and ready for more wins. Gerry proudly posted that their players had perfect class attendance except when travel required them to miss.  There will be life after ball for these young women.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Celebrating Gerald

We started Gerald’s 84th birthday on Saturday by driving down to Union County to enjoy the brothers’ traditional birthday breakfast.  At JR’s on the square in Jonesboro, my hometown, we found a place to park in the very crowded southeastern corner—the same corner where buggies parked when Abraham Lincoln came over to the hotel and visited with the gathering there the night before his debate with Douglas out at the Fairground.  It was good to see all the cars, which meant that the square restaurants were crowded with hungry customers.

We entered and found brother Keith and nephew DuWayne drinking coffee  and holding our corner table for us.  Of course, we had to talk about Georgia’s softball win (4-3) the night before  in 10 innings.  Soon Garry and Ginger arrived, and the friendly  talented waitress who had been refilling our coffee cups, quickly took our orders and soon delivered them with no mistakes.  The place was filling up with men in jeans and work clothes ready to get a good hot breakfast and enjoy seeing their friends before they spent the day either working or loafing according to their age.  There were a few women present too, so Ginger and I did not need to feel uncomfortable.   

Soon our table was laughing and telling stories, which is the way birthdays are celebrated by these brothers. (When they get a chance to be present, the younger generation likes to be there just to hear them laugh.)  Always the knowledge that Kenny is no longer with us is in the back of everyone’s mind, but that knowledge makes being with each other more appreciated and important.   After breakfast, Gerald drove me down to see the beautiful new court house for my first time.

Mary Ellen had already called Gerald to wish him happy birthday and to tell us they were bringing our supper to enjoy together while we watched the 4 o’clock game between Georgia and Texas A&M.  So when we got back to the farm, I didn’t need to spend much time fixing us a light lunch.  Gerald had been watching the wind for days waiting for the wind to be from the north so he could burn off the native grass acres as the government requires.  Our son-in-law Brian came over with Brianna and Trent to help and they had a blazing fire going quickly and the job completed.  Trent is becoming quite a photographer, and he had it all recorded and ready to show by the time the game started. 

When Mary Ellen arrived with food ready to be heated and finished, she decided to cook and eat downstairs where we would be watching the game on Gerald’s computer. (When we sold our other house, the buyers did not want our kitchen stove or microwave, so we moved them  in to my combination  laundry room/office—the largest and messiest room in our downstairs.)   Between my office and Gerald’s is a large furnace /hot water heater area that was meant originally for a shop, but that was not needed since Gerald has a very large building outside for that purpose. The old fridge from the other house and a popcorn table fits easily in this room.   The grandkids were little when we moved here, and I set up an old door  for an art table for them surrounded with cheap plastic kindergarten-size chairs.  They loved their gathering place, and they have devised many projects down there—some secret and some we have shared. 
As they became high schoolers, I moved a discarded repaired table in to replace the now too-low door table.   Gerald moved over and installed a TV just for them to enjoy on the two discarded couches, where a couple of them have to sleep when all the beds are full.  I called it their den.  I suspect that the fact that the floor is concrete with some left-over carpet on part of it created an environment the kids know they cannot damage and they can be as messy as they wish.  Part of the present messiness  is the addition of another table we replaced a couple of years ago in the kitchen.  I kept the old table thinking a grandkid might need a table for an apartment, but so far that hasn’t happened.
Anyhow, I cleared off the unfinished photo books I had wishfully started on the project table, and Mary Ellen had room to set up dishes and birthday cake for Geralds’ party. Brianna had topped the cake with a tiny candelabra device that held red birthday candles.  Red was the party color scheme in honor of  Georgia’s red and black.  Grandson Sam and his girl friend Anna had joined us, and we spent the evening watching the game and eating.  When the grandkids got noisy laughing as they do when they gather, we chased them back into the family room, and they were quiet after that when they checked in on the game to see their cousin Geri Ann pitching.
We loved knowing that not only Gerry and Vickie, Tara, and Geri Ann were there in the College Station complex while we watched, but their Texas daughter Erin was able to join them.  (We had to forgive Erin for wearing her alma mater A&M clothing since we love the Aggies too.) We were right there with them all in spirit and also in disappointment when Geri Ann lost her first game of the season (4-2)  in spite of pitching a tremendous game.  
After the game, the four  young ones went off to go see Marion High School’s musical  up at the Civic Center. Mary Ellen and Brian left to  finish their dry wall project for a bathroom off their  hallway. We were left with good memories of a lighted birthday cake  and voices singing. (And yes, someone had to add “You belong in a zoo” at the end of our rendition of “Happy Birthday.”  That was in honor of Gerry’s boyhood version of the song. )

When I came home from church yesterday and saw Mary Ellen’s car in the driveway, I  wondered if the left-over roast I quickly stuck in the microwave would stretch, but I knew I could add sides to make it work.  But almost immediately, Brianna came up to tell me Mary Ellen had brought our lunch just like the night before. I joined them downstairs around the computer and Mary Ellen handed me a hot plate of yummy food.  This time we also enjoyed the end of the game  since we won 4-3. 

It was a good and very restful weekend with cards, phone calls, Facebook and  text messages throughout the day along with his  birthday breakfast and birthday supper party reminding Gerald how much he meant to so many.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Home Runs and Strikeouts

Our Georgia Softball Dawgs continue winning with multiple home runs and double digit strikeouts.  After sweeping their first Southeastern Conference play last weekend against Mississippi State, Georgia this weekend will face Texas A&M.  Gerald and I wish we were there in College Station because our granddaughter Erin will be able to attend to see her sister Geri Ann play and to visit with the rest of her family.  We will be watching on the computer, of course.  Since I last wrote, the Georgia website has offered a live video, and that is far better than Game Tracker.  We always enjoy Kevin Copp announcing even when the audio and video or Game Tracker aren’t in sync.

Alex Hugo, an Olathe, Kansas, native has been the hero for the team recently.  Not only was she named Player of the Week for the SEC but also chosen national Player of the Week by both USA Softball and College Sports Madness. And no wonder.  Alex hit her 12th home run Wednesday, and it was the fourth game in a row she hit either the game tying or the game winning home run.  Of course Paige Wilson hit her 6th home run that night against Gardner-Webb and Katie Brown her 2nd.  Home runs are expected when Georgia plays. Anna Swafford, Kaylee Puailoa, Tina Iosefa, Maeve McGuire, Geri Ann, and Bethany Beggs are all home run hitters this season. 

In the meantime, our pitchers Geri Ann and Chelsea Wilkinson make strikeouts look easy.  Chelsea with a 14-2 winning record had 14 and 12 strikeouts against Mississippi State, her sixth time for double-digit strikeouts this season. Geri Ann pitched against Gardner-Webb on Wednesday and now has a 12-0 winning record, and she tied her 9 strikeout high that afternoon.

Now I wish I had not started naming names because what would we do without the fielding skills and fast legs of Sam LaZear  (highest batting average right now on the team) and Naija Griffin, both of whom I love to watch play.   And Bekah Farris, Malia Rivers, Katie Sowers, Tiesha Reed, Adele Harrison, and our second Kaylee—Kaylee Williams all have played important roles this year. These young women  play as a team always trying to improve over their previous performance.  And that has allowed them to best quite a few other teams so far.

Yesterday was our youngest grandchild’s 15th birthday.  Just as I wish I could be in Texas for the games this weekend to see that set of grandchildren, I wished I could have been in Freeport yesterday as I have  also wished I could have been there for all Cecelie’s  high school freshman concerts and performances. I finally got her copy of Heavens to Betsy mailed with her birthday card on Tuesday thanks to our granddaughter Brianna, who is home on spring break from Murray State this week. She did the post office errand for me since I was running late for Katherine’s house.  I have tried to share the Maud Hart Lovelace books with the granddaughters at appropriate ages because I loved them so much when my friend Lynn discovered them for us at the Anna City Library, oh so long ago. Because I was gone most of yesterday, Gerald and I did not get to render our phone call duet singing “Happy Birthday” to Cecelie until today. 

When I woke up this morning, I found Gerald’s note on the breakfast table that my brother was in the hospital. I called Jim after his procedure thanks to the phone number his wife Vivian left us on the phone. Then I called my sister to share what I had learned since she called him yesterday.  He seemed in great spirits and his voice was so strong.  A bleeding ulcer has happened to him before, and it is less scary than a diagnosis could have been. 

So talking to my two siblings was the happy highlight of my day at home. (The last three days I have unexpectedly had 8 to 10 hour shifts spending time with Katherine since one aide went to the hospital for an asthma attack and came out with a throat cancer diagnosis.  Another aide has a mother in the hospital.)  My sister Rosemary is eight years older than I am, and thanks to her twice-weekly Tai Chi participation is in better shape than I am.  However, we are both amazed at how busy we are during “retirement” and are saddened that our younger generations have greater health problems than we do. Rosemary and Phil still serve Friday night supper to anywhere from 10 to 20 for their extended families that they are rightfully so proud of.  Rosie quoted Phil today at remembering that the two of them went off to live in far-off Texas all by themselves, and now they are surrounded with family.  They still are pleased, however, when Illinois relatives come to visit. 

I am waiting for all this bad weather to clear to drive up for the day for a long-delayed visit with my brother and wife.  And maybe if the Georgia Dawgs keep winning, we will get to go to Oklahoma City for the nationals and on down to Rosie and Phil’s at Amarillo and see those Texas families they have created.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Weekend Watching---Go Bulldogs!

It was a lot different “watching” softball this weekend than last.  Then we were in the stands at the beautiful Jack Turner Stadium surrounded by tall pines and seeing balls go over them as the University of Georgia softball team continued their homerun habit.  Of course, we also witnessed the 8-0 shut-out that University of Alabama at Birmingham gave us on Saturday.   That was a shocker, but as coaches say, you learn from losses, and the next day Gerogia came back and defeated UBA 10-1, which gave our visit a great ending. 

We had left Illinois on Friday at 4 a.m. with our nephew DuWayne  driving, and the traffic in Atlanta made us fearful we’d not be in time for the first game against Western Carolina, which Geri Ann was pitching. But we made it in plenty of time. The Bulldogs won that game 9-3 and the next game against St. John’s with Chelsea Wilkerson pitching by 8-0 in five innings.

Despite our many layers of clothing, we were very cold at both games on Friday and again on Saturday when we defeated St. John’s 13-3 in five innings but lost to UBA. It wasn’t just me as DuWayne admitted he was cold too.  Of course, as I told Vickie, our daughter-in-law, I remember being colder at games in Mississippi and California in the spring of 2001 when Tara was a freshman playing and  then at one fall game at Notre Dame when we went to see Erin play.

In Mississippi, a bitter cold wind and rain storm hit the Starkville area taking out the town’s electricity and cancelling the last game the next day because it was too cold for the players’ hands. Vickie’s pretty new car was banged up by a garbage can flying into the street and electric wires were hanging low over our cars. I think a school had a roof taken off, and there were disaster meal stations for people.  Our motel in a nearby town  had water, but at church the next morning, the pastor advised us to not sit too close to one another because baths were not available for many who were  without water as well as electricity.

I had so looked forward to going to warm places that spring, but California was also bitter cold—especially when late night games had extra innings lasting until midnight. Our friends Lois and Tom Doctor in Oakland transported us to the games and provided us with warm blankets as well as a beautiful house with wonderful food to retreat to, so we have warm memories of that week despite the cold and aluminum seats.

Yet I guess the coldest I have ever been was a fall game at Notre Dame when we went to see Erin play. We had prepared for the cold, and I was bundled to the hilt but was still miserable. Saddest though was a group of youngsters from some sort of foster home with their adult leaders.  One girl directly in front of me had no warm coat on, and it tore me up.  Finally, I got up my nerve and begged her to take a coat or blanket or hat (can’t remember what) because I had so much warm apparel.  I loved and admired her even more when she very proudly refused.  I had to give up urging her, but I will never forget her.  I still think of her and how cold she had to be, and I have prayed that her self pride and determination have been her key to a successful adulthood.

Friday as we headed down southern highways, we had noted the buds on trees along the way; and despite Saturday’s cold March beginning, we saw beds of blooming daffodils in Athens. And in one yard as we drove by, I actually saw two ornamental trees covered with pink blossoms.  Oddly, by the next day, we had weather in the 70’s, and  people were walking into church without coats.  That afternoon the ball game gave us a delightful entrance to spring weather as well as the come-back win against UBA.

Plans were to head back to Illinois immediately after the final game, but Sunday weather reports told of icy roads starting just above Nashville and through Kentucky and into Southern Illinois.  DuWayne recently retired from the highway department, and he has plenty of knowledge of what can and cannot be done to help icy roads, and he had buddies who kept him informed about road conditions.  We were not eager to be struck or stuck on the highway, so we stayed in Georgia for an extra night. 

It is so nice that Gerry and Vickie and the Archibalds all share their big house, so when we were not at the ball park, we were able to visit with both families and enjoy our three great grandsons. Although Tara leaves early each morning to fulfill her duties as assistant coach at UGA, she spends evenings cuddling with the three little guys, and that is fun to watch as they slip in and out of their play with each other to interact with their mother.  Geri Ann lives off campus in a friend’s rental home this year, but she came over to be with us all three evenings, and we appreciated that. 

While we were hearing by phone how cold it was at home, we all headed out to the backyard without jackets after the game to watch the three little boys play.  Bryan, our grandson-in-law, has built a zip-line from one tree to another next to the creek there, and Aidan, Maddux, and Payton demonstrated this for us. I also visited with Jake, whom Gerald passed on to Gerry last fall for squirrel season with his grandsons.

Geri Ann’s new little dog Chance has ended up her folks’ home for right now, so we were able to visit with Chance as well as Chloe, the little dog Vickie inherited from Erin many years ago. Chloe and Chance get along very well and also entertained us as they cavorted in the family room attached to the kitchen where everyone hangs  out. 

However, Chance was afraid of us strangers and on Friday and Saturday would softly growl anytime we came near his bed.  Despite my best efforts, he would not follow Chloe’s example that I was worthy of lap holding.  However, when I came into the house after the Sunday game, there was still a piece of bacon left sitting on the kitchen counter.  Two bites of bacon fed to Chance in his cage did the trick. He never growled at me again. I was smug that evening when Chance crawled all over me and even thought I was kiss worthy.

The next morning we deliberately ate a slow breakfast with Gerry at Cracker Barrel so we could miss Atlanta traffic and give road crews and salt time to work. Tennessee was not too bad, but Kentucky was slow driving with rough iced roads that shook the car.  Fortunately our excellent driver DuWayne could handle this dangerous stuff.  Once we got to Illinois, where even the university and colleges as well as all the schools were shut down for two days, the highways were clear.  But our country road was not, and our lane was  slick and tricky. 

By this weekend, weather is quite pleasant.  We are glad since our local schools’ start  spring break.  Everyone is reporting on plants in their yard beginning to come up into the sun. One friend has already written on Facebook that she has planted spinach and lettuce on the warm side of one of their out buildings.

Yesterday afternoon I was in town and did not get to sit through Georgia’s tournament games against Tennessee Tech and Kent State, but Gerald shared the winning results with me (3-1 and 4-1) and told me how good Geri Ann and Chelsea pitched. Today we both “watched” and tried to enjoy the new Game Tracker on the Georgia website that is vastly different from last year when the plays recorded were often slower than the radio announcer’s audio version.  Somehow we could cope with that.  It is much more difficult when the visuals on the computer screen are two plays ahead of what the announcer is saying, which is what is happening this year. We are not complaining though since this afternoon we beat Kent State 5-2 and Purdue 6-1.  That doubleheader sweep gives us a 20-2 record.