Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Comings and Goings

As I drove home from Katherine's, the brilliance of the full moon comforted me with its beauty, and I knew no matter how many miles apart all our loved ones are going to sleep soon under that same moon.

It was sad when grandson Sam pulled out of our driveway for the last time this summer. He'd packed up his stuff here a couple days before to go back to his home in Marion and also pack up his stuff there. He came out to say goodbye to Gerald, who happened to be at the other farm. Sam needed to be at the high school shortly for his end-of-the-summer job helping out with the marching band's preparation for its fall schedule. So they had to say goodbye by phone.

Sam had been in and out of Woodsong a lot this summer, and that meant occasionally we also were able to see his sweet friend Anna. After he finished his first summer job, he'd already taken one car load of possessions back to Waco earlier when he went down to see friends, talk with his academic adviser, and attend a music pastor's concert near Dallas. Then he'd taken off with a couple of high school buddies for a camping trip in the West. Then we again enjoyed his time with us a few more weeks. With all the rain reports the day he left for his second year at Baylor, his mother was concerned, but she felt a lot of confidence that all would be well since Anna's family was traveling to the same destination at the same time.

That very day our son Gerry arrived for an unusual amount of time—a four day visit. He had come to visit his friend Shannon in the hospital at Saint Louis; and between the two trips up there, he crammed in as many visits to local friends as he could. We loved having him here, of course, and hearing his stories and reports on his friends' doings.

On Sunday we decided to attend church with Mary Ellen and Brian to share Gerry and also so we could see Brianna who had just come in the afternoon before from her summer working at Disney Land in Orlando. Trent had flown down to help her drive back with all her stuff. Somehow after they arrived home, Mary Ellen and Bri had shopped and not only found the perfect headboard for her apartment down at Murray, but it was already repainted Saturday night, and Mary Ellen had put on a top coat of something yet that very morning! They were taking Bri to move in that afternoon, and Bri would be starting classes on Tuesday. Despite the afternoon move ahead of the Taylors, we six had a relaxed dinner together after church, and Gerry regaled us with his series of stories about a coyote road kill. (You do not want to know.)

The next day Gerry went back to Saint Louis for another visit with Shannon, and Tuesday morning he and his dad were up early for their trip to have breakfast with Gerry's uncles and cousins in Jonesboro before Gerry started his long trek back to Texas. His truck was loaded with sweet corn from the Taylors and cantaloupes from Gerald's garden as well as one of his watermelons, which unlike the cantaloupes have not been plentiful this summer. Now Gerald is relishing photos and messages about the great grandsons enjoying them.

Gerald and I are looking forward to Geri Ann's visit after she completes her first summer of professional softball. She called us from Alabama last night where the Ohio Racers are in tournament. We are looking forward to Vickie's visit too when she comes to pick Geri Ann up for a Texas visit before she has to start her last terms at Oregon. Sadly Gerry will not be able to come back with Vickie as originally planned, and he has to miss his high school reunion because of coaching duties with a gathering of recruits that same weekend.

Today is Gerry and Vickie's 37th wedding anniversary, and I loved seeing their wedding photo posted on Facebook. In some ways it seems only yesterday that they were that beautiful young couple in white tux and bridal dress leaving their reception at the school's multi-purpose room for a honeymoon on the Gasconade River in Missouri. But three adult daughters and those three grandsons make us realize it was not yesterday, and we are grateful for all the blessings.

Also on Facebook, I learned today was the day that the Taylors moved Trent into his new apartment at Carbondale to complete his education at Southern Illinois University, where he will be a fifth generation Saluki. His great grandfather rode his horse there every week and boarded before riding back to Goreville for the weekend. And the same moon shone on him that we enjoy tonight.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Comings and Goings

Just as June was a blur, July continued to often cause me to catch my breath to clear my head. It was exciting when Jeannie and Rick came through for a good evening visit and bringing us some of Rick's honey from his Wisconsin hives, and showing the maps that taught me the Mississippi River extends way beyond New Orleans into the Gulf. They left the next morning before we were even out of bed. (I am guessing maybe 4 a.m.) They were eager to reach Louisiana to start the last leg of their goal for Jeannie to ride her bicycle the complete Mississippi River Trail. Earlier this spring they had done Mississippi and crossed over the bridge at Natchez to Vidalia. As her coach, Rick has gallantly and with bated breath watched her ride in Canada and now to the lowest part of the Mississippi River on crowded highways, darkening lonely ones, rough graveled trails, and scary bridges. They have endured hot weather, cold weather, rain, and unkind winds and irritated motorists.

Another night I was coming home down our lane after a late evening helping Katherine, and I saw vehicle lights heading my way. When the lights suddenly swooped around and headed back, I should have guessed Gerry, but he was not known to be anywhere near us. But there he was walking around the end of the garage when I got to the house. (Gerald had texted me Gerry was here, but somehow the text had not gone through.) He gave me a hug and explained he had recruited for two or three days and now he had done his laundry at our house for the next round of recruiting. We had a good visit; and for some reason, I assumed he'd spend the night. But, no, he was back on the road to head to Saint Louis to be there early the next morning for a friend's very serious surgery. Shannon made it, and Gerry continued recruiting.

Since she lives near us, Mary Ellen often drops in and out unexpectedly when she is in the neighborhood on the way to a client or to see someone visiting here or to bring us one of her great meat loafs. When she was expressing a bit of concern about having to climb up to the second floor of an abandoned building in a nearby village, Gerald decided he would go along. He reported her trepidation was well founded in his opinion. Hopefully the new owner is on his way to successfully reclaim the building's usefulness.

When our granddaughter Erin realized her schedule was clear of her travel ball coaching duties and her military husband was called to California for a few days, she headed to Illinois. She had missed seeing some dear ones when she was here in June. She especially regretted not getting to see her friend Candace's twins on their third birthday. She not only had a good visit with us and her other relatives, but this weekend visit she was able to spend catch-up time with Candace. On Sunday afternoon before she left, we were treated too when Candace brought the twins to the farm. Gerald gave them a “fishing” and boating experience. (If I understood it, the adults caught the fish and the Jamison and Mathison caught them with their hands from the bottom of the boat and threw them back in the lake.) I was home from Katherine's when they came inside to holler “Gma Sue Gma Sue!” and want to play and explore the house with me. In our crowded tornado shelter, of course, they immediately found two badminton rackets and headed back upstairs. By the time I got up there, one boy was asking me for his and I could not see it anywhere. Two days later, I saw both neatly placed by their mother on the fireplace mantel out of view. With curly blondish locks, they are absolutely adorable but all boy, and I knew exactly why Candace hid the racquets. It was several more days before I thought to have Gerald get down the diet soda carton that Erin wisely placed on the very top of the kitchen cabinets to solve that problem when they were snacking in the kitchen.

One of my favorite summer visits was from Trent and his friend Rachael from New Jersey. They had first come while I was at Katherine's, so Trent called the next day and made an appointment because he knew I wanted to meet this young woman with the beautiful red hair—my favorite hair color. These two and Brianna have been friends since childhood via some game on the Internet that was safely monitored for kids. They kept in touch through an alumni group or something. A couple of summers ago, Trent was treated to a week in New York City visiting Rachel's parents and grandparents. And now Rachael has experienced farm life in rural Southern Illinois.

Our July visits were completed by Jeannie and Rick's return from their successful mission. We loved hearing their stories and were grateful Jeannie made it safely through New Orleans by going very early during day-break hours. They stayed with us a couple of nights, but Jeannie was still enjoyed her return to riding form, so she had to ride 93 miles to Carbondale and around to get her fix the day in between the night-time visits. With her last summer's cancer delay, we were filled with awe and delight that the Mississippi River journey is complete and that now she is riding Freeport trails with relish until the school year begins and she must return to work. Rick actually started work on Monday with the annual math review that some high school kids elect to take before the formal school year starts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Too Much Going On

     Standing on the deck with feisty tiny hummingbirds buzzing near me, I looked across the lake where the wild geese rest in water near the edge of the island shaded by leafy trees overhead. The hot summer air in front of me is filled with young martins gliding in circles while their shadows on the grass below create a duet of grace. I enjoy a moment of calm and peace and hope it stays that way for awhile.
      I had thought that once our anniversary celebration was over that the summer would suddenly be lazily unencumbered with plans or conflicting duties. Not so. The first two weeks of July flew by with needs, responsibilities, and appointments bumping into each other.
      My wristwatch that I felt so smug about quickly replacing with a new battery quit again after two weeks. I really like my inexpensive watch because I can clearly see the time easily, but I guess I need to go back and replace it with more than a battery. I avoid that huge store because I have to park so far away that I once got lost trying to find my car. And once inside the store, there is much more walking to find anything.
      Since my watch quit working, I tried to carry my cell phone more to be able to check the time. When I had pockets that was not a problem; but once when I didn't, I carelessly dropped it and it fell into two pieces. Yes, it was one of the old ones with a little cover. I resisted everyone's suggestion I might need to replace it with a more modern cell phone because I knew how to answer it, make calls, and text. There were some uses I never had bothered to learn, but I sure did not want to figure out a new phone. 
     That breakage, however, required another trip to the mall at the other side of town, where the phone store has limited parking and a long wait. There I found out the clerk had to call Gerald for his permission for me to replace my phone. I listened as she explained there was a $40 upgrade fee but became somewhat embarrassed as she incorrectly told him I'd said he had wanted me to get one of the 99 cent phones. I explained to her afterwards that he had not said I was to get the 99 cent phone, but that was my desire. I had two choices and chose the one with a pull out screen that I hope makes texting a mite quicker.   
        However, the store was out of that one, so I am waiting for it to be delivered and then I will need to either follow directions to set it up or go back to the store and they will kindly and gladly do it for me. Since I am a poor at understanding directions, I suspect I will need to make another trip back to the other side of town once my new cell arrives. I had no trouble parking the other day, but I had a scare when a big truck almost backed into me as I exited. I took comfort that at least it would have been his fault if he had not seen me in time.
      On yet another day, I had finally made the needed appointment to get my eyes checked—at the same mall on the other side of town. I found out the reason I kept thinking my left lens was dirty was that a cataract on my left eye needed to be corrected. Now I've made that appointment for August—the earliest they can take me. There have been a couple of appointments to keep current on my INR level, which I am conscientious about after two hospitalizations in past years for pulmonary embolisms. Now I need to make a check-up visit with the dermatologist since I found out it had been three years when I checked my files.
      The worst summer busyness, however, resulted from serious health threats to loved ones. All three of our brothers had serious problems. Gerald couldn't go see Keith while he was in the hospital because Gerald was fighting an infection himself. The other two brothers both received good enough reports that they did not have to be hospitalized, and Gerald is feeling good again. Katherine, however, had to spend ten days in the hospital at Carbondale to take care of two serious infections and other issues. By the time she returned home, her already short staff was decreased by one, so I needed to go to her home each evening. After many phone calls, texts, and interviews, she thinks she again has a full staff. So today I am not leaving the farm.
      I am using all this busyness as my excuse and not blaming (or admitting) my age caused me to get mixed up on the time for a dentist appointment in Carbondale. Gerald kindly took me for the appointment and dropped me off saying he would complete our recycling job. I had filled the trunk because we like the center in Carbondale where you can recycle all items at once from paper to cans, glass, etc. Our plan after the appointment was to drive down to Keith and Barbara's in rural Union County since Keith had gotten home from the hospital the day before. Imagine my embarrassment when I found out my appointment had been that morning not that afternoon.
      Yes, the office had called me and reminded me, but I either misheard or just got mixed up. I phoned Gerald to come back for me as soon as he was through recycling, and I have to brag on him for not being the least unpleasant about my mental failure. In fact, as we left in the direction of Keith's, he pointed out we were on the same street our friends Rich and Ann Lipe live on. He commented that I'd been wanting to see them, so why not stop and see if they were home! We had a wonderful long neglected visit with the Lipes before going on down and having another good visit with Keith and Barbara. We stopped in Marion for supper and took a bite by Katherine's to feed her supper and give her night pills.
      These time-consuming irritants and obligations and worry for ourselves and family members are small in comparison to the heart-rending news we have heard on television this month. The gun violence and the resulting weeping fill the screen. Once again someone with serious mental problems, increased by his association with hate groups, went on a shooting spree and took five of our finest police, who had just stood with peaceful protesters. We hold our breath to see how things go with Britain out of European Union. And now we hear about the uprising in Turkey, and we feel concern as to how that will affect our fight against ISIS. We worry about the slaughter in Syria. We experience the need to turn the television back on to find out the latest development and at the same time a reluctance to possibly hear of yet another tragedy.
      I am grateful to be able to look out occasionally and watch three bright yellow finches who have finally found the net holding seeds for them there. I am grateful for all the flowers piled in sympathy on the police cars in Dallas. I am grateful for the ten-year-old who wants to become a policeman someday because his mother who shielded him was shielded by a policeman. I am grateful for the wisdom-filled words of grief-stricken15-year-old son whose father was shot by police. I am grateful for those who risk criticism and danger to remind us that black lives matter. And for those who include black lives when they say all lives matter. I am grateful for Chief David Brown and his good thinking and quiet leadership under duress and for his faith that he so naturally shared with the nation. I am grateful for President Bush and President Obama who stood in unity condemning gun violence and encouraging us to become a better nation.






Saturday, July 02, 2016

June 2016: A Month to Remember

June has been a special month—one we will always remember, but the memory may be somewhat blurred because so much has happened this month. Early in the month one night, I'd just organized myself on the computer to be ready the next morning to complete some necessary tasks, and I was ready to go to bed. Suddenly my screen was filled with directions from a nasty virus that I knew were not directions I should follow. And they were impossible to get rid of. So with the computer in the shop, I was not able to record trials or relish blessings as this month unfolded.

Now with my computer's repair and factory reset—whatever that means—some things are new, and I have to reenter passwords to get on sites. I still cannot email out from my one remaining email account. (Microsoft destroyed my long-standing Hotmail account one night in May with no warning, and I lost all the archives including some important research. I still had an older email account I used for genealogical correspondence that I seldom used anymore. But for some reason, now in order to send an email I have to give some information about IMAP and SMPT that I do not have. I do not even know what the screen is “talking” about. GRRRR.) So modern technology has definitely been one of my trails this June.

But enough griping! Technology is amazingly wonderful and unbelievably productive and valuable. I just wish I were more competent to use it. I also wish that people with evil intent were less competent. Why are terrorists able to mislead young adults to join their wickedness? How can we use social media instead to entice them to try love for their fellow man instead of lured toward hatred and murder?

Our children used social media to communicate between themselves and to announce to others plans for a 60th wedding anniversary party for us. They asked for our permission, which I was reluctant to give because they have busy lives and Gerald and I have busy lives. I was not sure that our celebration needed to be public. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be wonderful to see friends and family, and especially it would be great for our children to have opportunity to see their extended family and their hometown friends. Two of our four children live away, and I thought it would be especially good for them. Just keep it simple was my only request.

Although the other two of our children live here, I knew in all likelihood Katherine would not be able to attend because she is so ill with advanced multiple sclerosis. That was another reason I hesitated to agree to a party. No mother wants one of her children to be left out. To survive the daily heartbreak of watching a beloved child suffer, one has to learn to not feel but to simply accept. But holidays and special events make that more difficult. No one would have enjoyed seeing everyone more than Katherine. But she was kind and understanding and accepted one more disappointment in her limited life when her efforts to attend failed.

Despite my distorted face when a gum swelled up as the dentist had warned might happen and my having to see him on Friday afternoon for an antibiotic and pain pill, Gerald and I were immediately made joyful as children and grandchildren started arriving for our special weekend. Gerry and Vickie arrived very early Thursday morning with grandsons Maddux and Payton after driving all night. Jeannie arrived after first driving from northern Illinois to Nashville, TN, attend her son-in-law Mike Thompson's graduation from the police academy there.

Because granddaughter Erin married Josh Simons right before he was sent to South Korea, we had not had the privilege of meeting our newest grandson-in-law except by social media. This spring Josh had safely returned to Fort Hood, and he and Erin have bought a house in the nearby community where she teaches. When they learned at the last minute that yes Josh could be off that weekend and they both were coming to Illinois, the party planners suddenly cooked up a last minute family wedding shower to welcome them.

What they did not realize was that Hank Williams, Jr., was in town, and there was not a restaurant in town available for a party. So Erin's Johnson family and her Glasco family gathered at Woodsong on Friday night for dinner that our daughter-in-law Vickie carried in for over 20 of us from the Blue barbecue stand down at Creal Springs. After I ate their delicious food, I understood why I'd heard so much about their business. We could stay together and visit as long as we wanted without competing with Hank on the streets of Marion. The bride and groom cut their cake and opened their presents, and our weekend celebration was off to a great start. Everyone was impressed with Josh, who was so pleasant and whose smile was contagious. We also loved meeting little Lily Mae Rongey, and people were competing to hold her. When Gerry and Vickie lived here, Vickie gave great birthday parties, and we had regular get-togethers with the Johnsons. So it was like our old good times.

We also had our first wonderful and carefully guarded surprise Friday night. Brianna had told me how disappointed she was that going back to work at Disney World this summer would cause her to miss our anniversary. When the Taylors walked in for Erin and Josh's party, beautiful Brianna was with them! She had been able to arrange to be off work and fly up just to help us celebrate.

The next morning, our children were busy at our village school multi-purpose room getting ready for the afternoon gathering. Of course my 90-year-old sister in Texas and my almost 88-year-old brother up at Mattoon could not come, but we were eagerly anticipating our local extended Glasco-Wenger families being there as well as friends. Imagine the amazement when I looked up and saw a man with a long white beard that could only be our brother-in-law Don Gamble from Rock Springs, Wyoming! And then I immediately saw Ernestine, Gerald's only sister! What a glorious surprise for all us us! And I was just as thrilled when my Goreville cousin and wife, Dick and Irma Stanley, walked in, so I had a Martin relative attending! They both looked great and we had an excellent visit—the first since the tragic unexpected death of their beautiful son Grant.

Then as friends and neighbors came in, I was so grateful for this opportunity to connect again with so many I rarely see anymore. Age and responsibilities have made our participation in community affairs very limited. There were old friends and new friends; and although with so many there at once, visits were not as long as I hungered for, I was made very happy. When our grandchildren sang “Blessed Assurance,” and then Leslie, Elijah, and Sam each sang a solo, my happiness soared even more.

All good things must end, and it was sad to see everyone depart at various times just as it had been joyous to see them arrive. It helped that Ernestine and Don visited with each brother through the following Thursday; consequently there were breakfast gatherings in Jonesboro and Marion for those who could make it.

Grandson Trent used his prize-winning camera skills to give us a great photographic record of our big day, and I am spending much time enjoying them now that my computer is home. I feel certain Gerald can be persuaded to make me hard copies, which I am even more partial to. I have also been reading and then reading again all the lovely cards and notes we received, and we are still getting them in the mail. A busy blurred June will be cherished the rest of our lives.





Friday, May 27, 2016

Flowers, Losses, and Wins

Well, I guess I better throw out my second Mother’s Day bouquet. Maybe I can find a pretty iris from the yard to replace it. The night before Mary Ellen and daughter Brianna left to drive Brianna to Disney for another summer’s work, I’d heard that Bri, her brother Trent, and cousin Sam were having Friday night supper together. Come to find out, they bought their supper at the grocery store and came out to the farm and had a picnic on the deck. I was at Katherine’s. When I left her house and was pulling out of her loop street onto Duncan, I saw a car stop and kids yelling and wondered who those youngsters were.

Then as I turned the corner, here they came up behind me and presented me with a lovely bouquet that they said was a belated Mother’s Day gift. We had a laughing gathering until another car came up and I had to move on. There is nothing so energizing as young people out having fun! Their flowers came just as I needed to throw away the lovely bouquet Gerald had given me for being the mother of his children, so I have enjoyed them.

Last Saturday rather than this weekend was my memorial participation. I squeezed in a trip down to Busby Cemetery in Goreville between visits to Katherine’s house. I had bought artificial flowers in a timely fashion a few weeks before and they were waiting in the car. I felt bad that I had neglected the annual trip to Busby for a couple of years, and I was determined to have flowers on my parents’ and others’ graves this year.

As little girl, the third Sunday in May was always important to our family because this day was called Decoration Day where my father’s family were buried. Daddy explained to me once that because so many people in that strongly connected community had family buried in more than one cemetery, it was decided to designate different Sundays for different cemeteries. Then people could observe more than one day to decorate graves. I remember the flowers made of crepe paper that people prepared for the graves. Mother usually had iris and other fresh flowers to put in fruit jars and leave on our ancestors’ graves.

Three of my great grandparents’ babies are buried and marked with flat rocks stuck into the earth. Three of my daddy’s baby sisters are there near his parents’ graves, and he and his siblings placed an engraved stone for them. It was always extremely important to my aunt Myrtle, the only sister who lived to adulthood, that the little girls have commemorative flowers. Daddy taught me to honor the graves by not stepping on them but walking between them. This year as I walked between them, my elderly balance was challenged by the uneven grassy ground. I knew I might not get back to put flowers there again.

Yesterday was a lazy rainy day for me, and the rain today will probably make it another one. Yesterday I had to run to town for an INR, but I was back home in little over an hour. It was made into a very pleasant trip because I was able to accidentally visit with Saundra Jent just a bit in the waiting room before and after my INR. We had not seen each other in person for years although I consider her a very special and favorite person. She used to teach our kids at church and entertain them at her home. Her mother Marguerite Miller Hill was the first person who came to visit us when we moved to farm in Williamson County. I so loved Marguerite. I used to tell my kids if I had a flat tire or some other disaster kept me from meeting their school bus after a ball game, they could always go to Marguerite or Joyce Jean’s and either would take care of them. The disaster never happened, but having such wonderful friends gave me peace of mind just in case.

We spent last weekend watching softball. We were shocked last Friday night when our Texas A&M lost to Texas 5-0. All five of their scores were homeruns! One player had not had a hit since Valentines Day and broke out of her slump with one of these runs! We came back the next day and won against Boston and then Texas, so the chance to move on came the next day against undefeated Lafayette Louisiana. A&M thought they had won that game in the 8th inning and were cheering when the umpire declared the batter had stepped over lines no longer present in the batter’s box. So they lost 9-8 in the ninth inning, and thus did not get to play yet another second game against Lafayette. Freshman Samantha Show had pitched so many innings in this tourney that the Lafayette crowd gave her quite an ovation, which was certainly deserved.

Oregon, however, came through their regional undefeated and will play their first game in the Super Regional against UCLA tomorrow at 8:30 pm CST on ESPN. The 16 regional tourneys have been reduced to eight super regionals. So there are fewer games to watch this weekend. Some of the super regionals started yesterday. Again this tourney is double elimination. Their second game will be Sunday at 6 CST on ESPNU. If necessary, the third game will be Sunday at 9 CST on ESPNU.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strawberry and Softball Season

Lots of rain lately with resulting mud have made it difficult for Gerald to keep his strawberry patch picked as quickly as he’d like. But that is only because he is a perfectionist; he has done a great job harvesting the lovely and delicious red fruit.

Although I really admire his attractive garden that I watch from my kitchen window, I still have not dared venture out and even tried to pick any. When younger, I have always picked strawberries on my knees. I know I could eventually get down, but I also know I would have a hard time standing back up. GRRR. Gerald bends over; and though it hurts, he believes it is strengthening his back.

His crop is fantastic providing us berries almost every meal, a freezer full for next winter, usually some in the fridge, and some he is giving away to other family members. I have helped burr a few, and I have washed and placed the pretty berries into the freezer bags. I’ve also made lots of shortcake using my mother-in-law’s method.

My mother made strawberry shortcake using pie crust she baked for that use. I think I also remember her serving shortcake to her club members once on the little sponge cakes sold for that purpose. And maybe one year when the Dairy Queen was the newest thing in the nearby town of Anna, I believe she served her club friends the sugared berries over that yummy frozen product--perhaps with a slice of angel food cake along side on the glass desert plate.

When I married Gerald, strawberry season was in full swing, and his father had a wonderful patch. I was amazed to find his mother used crackers instead of pie crust for her shortcake. In the years since, I have used both my mother’s and Gerald’s mother’s method. I also used the little sponge cakes a few times in my early wifehood, and once I baked the shortcake recipe in my wedding gift cookbook. That was a lot of trouble, and not particularly satisfying. But for many years, I make shortcake with crackers. Now I use whole wheat crackers; and for Gerald and me, I use Apriva—the sweetener from Kroger. I still use sugar when making it for others as I did the night of the tornado warning when some of the family came over and when I have taken shortcake to Katherine.

After watching and following Texas T&M and Oregon’s games last week and weekend, we made a point of listening to the Sunday night announcement where the 64 teams battling for NCAA World Series championship in June will start their journey in the sixteen regionals. A&M will be playing in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Geri Ann will be playing at home in the beautiful new Jane Sanders stadium at Eugene.

Although we were saddened, when A&M lost in their first game 5-4 to Louisiana State at the SEC conference tourney on Wednesday, it helped cheer us up that Gerry was able to unexpectedly quickly arrange to go to Eugene for Geri Ann’s senior softball weekend! Her mother was already there, and Tara was able to take her two youngest—Maddux and Payton—to cheer their Aunt GA on. (Aidan had a baseball game of his own, so Bryan stayed home in Texas with Aidan.)

Oregon’s series against Utah started on Thursday night, and it was quite a night! The Oregon Ducks won the Pac-12 conference for the fourth straight year—matching UCLA, the only other such winner in conference history in the years 1988-91. Cheridan Hawkins pitched a complete game and beat Utah 5-1 for her 20th victory this season. Gerry was able to see Geri Ann hit 3 for 3 and was part of the stand-up ovation the crowd gave the Ducks for winning the conference.

Unfortunately, the Ducks lost Friday night when Utah came back for a 3-2 win. Oregon’s Madi Bishop, a top-100 recruit last season out of Jonesboro, AK, scored both its runs—the first on an error Utah made on Alyssa Gillespie’s single bunt when Bishop raced from first to home. Bishop later blasted a homerun single over the left fence, but Utah made the last run and won.

Gerry was there Saturday along with Vickie and Tara and the boys to be on the field with Geri Ann before the game when Oregon honored its eight seniors. Then her family saw Geri Ann belt her solo homer over left field. Winning the series against Utah, the Ducks won 3-2 when Cheridan Hawkins once more pitched a complete game. Hawkins allowed only two unearned runs, five hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts. Obviously she is ready for the post season.

We will be watching at 3:30 CST Friday afternoon when A&M plays Texas on ESPN2, which will be A&M’s 27th appearance in the NCAA tournaments. And we will be staying up late that night because Oregon plays Fordham at 10:30 CST on ESPN2.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Spring Blessings

When weather cooperates, farmers are busy replacing the fields of henbit and wild mustard with plantings of corn or soybeans, Gerald said I was probably correct that those early plants equal out any nutrient depletion when they are plowed under. Best of all, he explained those plants hold the earth and prevent erosion. And they add organic matter to the soil. So they are helpful as well as colorful to look at. He said some farmers actually plant rye or turnips (a field turnip, not the table kind) to accomplish those tasks; and as the plant and roots deteriorate, better air and water passages are left in the soil beneath the planted crops.

Nothing is prettier than white dogwood blossoms peeking through greening woods, and that has been a major pleasure for me this spring. I am in the midst of facing up to what must be done for a tooth problem. The spectacular displays of dogwood along the highway made even the anxious ride up to the periodontist at Mt. Vernon pleasurable for me and Gerald.

We continue to watch college softball games and are more interested than ever as tournament time approaches. We even got an unexpected over night visit from our son Gerry back when A&M played at Missouri. Taking some batting cages up early in his truck, he swung by here. Gerald had debated driving over as we have done it the past, but seeing it on television was certainly easier. In the third game of their series last Sunday No. 18 A&M beat No.1 Florida 6-4. Today Gerry posted that they were 7th nationally in home runs, 18th in batting average, and 7th in slugging percentage. Go Aggies!

Oregon moved up to No. 3 ranking after a streak of winning shut-outs and players breaking school records. Geri Ann hit her 10th homerun this season last night. They will travel to California this weekend.

A friend started Katherine’s birthday celebration a day early with a gift-laden visit from her church girl friends. I made a homemade birthday cake and ordered in pizza for Gerald and me to join Katherine in her bedroom to celebrate. I have opened and displayed her birthday cards there; her husband’s flowers and the flowers of a friend have made the room festive. I read to her the more than 100 birthday wishes on Facebook, and she enjoyed reminiscing of those friends from the times when she lived a much different life than now--one full of activity, accomplishments, and challenges.

Unfortunately, one of Katherine’s long term aides, the oldest and one of the very best to get much accomplished in a brief shift, had to resign because of some health problems. She stuck it out through the need for infusing an antibiotic, and the last dose was given on Katherine’s birthday. We deeply regretted her leaving, but knew she needed a chance to rest and revive. So I have spent more time at Katherine’s house than usual trying to help out until she secures more staff. (Final exams at the local colleges have also played havoc with some of her aides.)

Her many bedroom windows open up on a lovely city park, and the activity there does add some variety to her limited life. Last fall, Gerald fixed a new television for her up in the air above those windows at just the perfect height for her viewing. Always good with electronics, she understands all the complicated choices that modern TVs have, and she has to repeatedly tell me step-by-step what to push to get shows chosen, watched, recorded, rewound, or whatever, while I still long for the days when one pushed an on and off button. But the television and some things on her phone (which is even more complicated than the TV) allow her keep up with sports, the political season, local news, and the current TV shows every one talks about. Since I am busy doing other tasks while there, I am not so up to date. (When I am in my kitchen at my house, however, I usually have the news on and try to keep switching from channel to channel as commercials come on. Nevertheless, I know the words to some of those commercials.

In addition to softball excitement, our singer/actor granddaughter Leslie got a call back on an audition for a nation-wise tour this week. Suddenly she had to frantically arrange to take the very last seat available for a flight to New York City, and she even got a request to return on Tuesday, but she did not make it to the final cut and returned to Nashville where she had been pouring her heart and extra time into the second “Any Song Will Do” event to be streamed at 7:30 tomorrow night (Thursday). Hope you can watch it with us at anysongwilldo.com.

And her brother Elijah finished his student teaching with an A and will graduate from Illinois State this Saturday morning. As if that is not enough excitement for Jeannie and Rick’s family, Cecelie has her prom at Freeport High School that night!

The excitement here on the farm is the abundance of asparagus and now a handful of strawberries starting to turn red. Gerald honored me with the first one but confessed that some little animal had actually had one or two before mine.