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

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Life's Happenings--Sad and Happy Ones

Since I knew not to count chickens before they hatch, perhaps I should have known not to assume that Ian the Sebastopol goose was here permanently. But he seemed so content and healthy, and I surmised he was able to survive. However, we have not seen him on the lake for several days now, and I am really sad about that. The only good thing is that we have not seen any feathers or half eaten body, so maybe he walked away, but I fear not.

Our neighbor across the road from us had a lake built last fall, and I kept looking over hoping Ian might have walked across the road and over there, but I suspected I was fantasizing. I do enjoy seeing her beautiful lake just as I used to enjoy seeing her horses play in the meadow there when she still had horses. But no Ian.

Friday night we watched Texas A&M softball play Alabama as we ate supper in Gerald’s office. Since we lost, it was disappointing. Because of the rain coming in on Sunday, it was decided for the next two games to be a Saturday double header. I was watching the two games off and on as I came and went from Katherine’s house helping out there. Mary Ellen joined us during the last game, which I am glad to report we won by a huge score after losing the first two games.

Oregon was not playing last weekend, but we had exciting news when Geri Ann was drafted to play on the Akron, Ohio, Racers this summer. I knew that was how she hoped to spend the summer, so I am glad it worked out well for her. Oregon is on the term system rather than semester, and she will need to return for one more term this fall, so a summer of professional play fits well for her summer job.

I like hearing all the spring news of our grandchildren. We were pleased to have a visit from our grandson Trent one windy day. We had to go outside and enjoy the weather with him because he brought his dad’s drone over and took photographs of our place and then came in and visited with us. That was neat to hear his plans. His sister Brianna down at Murray was in their annual long traditional All-Campus Sing with her honors group and they won first place in their category, and the next day she ran her first 5K! Cecelie was participating in Freeport High School’s traditional variety show called Show Time, and I was sad I did not get to go as we usually did for her older siblings. Attending was one of my favorite things to do; and, of course, Sam had to go with us. Driving to the top of the state is not as easy for us as it was a few years ago, and I must accept that. For the first time, Sam had to be states away for his birthday down in Texas this week. However Katherine managed to give an early birthday supper for him during Easter break, and I was able to drop in for that.

Change is expected and proper as children and grandchildren grow up, and I actually rejoice in all their activities. Yet there is also some nostalgia with the knowledge that I will see less and less of them as they go on to fulfill what they are supposed to do in life. I eagerly seek out Elijah’s writings on Facebook to see how he is experiencing student teaching. Erin shared a brief essay with us that she wrote about the farm at a writing conference a couple weekends ago, and seeing her memories made me very happy but still with a touch of sadness. Gerald’s photography hobby provides me constant visual reminders of family members and gatherings, and I love seeing them on several walls as well as on his computer screen as they flash by. Yet seeing the new more grown-up photo of our great grandsons right beside earlier younger photos also makes me aware of how fleeting life is.

Gary Havener, a school mate of our children died this week. He was much too young, but he had been very ill for several years. Gerald has been quite sick with a bad cold and terrible cough all week, and we were not able to attend services in Gary’s honor, but we grieved at life’s cruel seeming injustices. His wife did such a brave job taking care of him. She has been one of my heroines, and I have always been blessed by her upbeat determination to care for her family while she continued to be concerned about the rest of us in our community.

Speaking of nostalgia, we have not had asparagus in the garden for many years even though at the other house it was an important vegetable on our table. Gerald’s dad always grew it, and he helped us get that asparagus patch going. We missed it. Yesterday Gerald brought in our first mess from the new patch he has created. Along with chicken and dumplings, I prepared it for noon dinner today, and it was so good.

Tonight we ate a hamburger supper in the family room while we watched on television as Georgia beat Tennessee in softball. That too was nostalgic as we watched players we rooted for two years ago; and, of course, we rooted for them again tonight.

As we finished the evening, more news about the terrible Ecuador earthquake came on. Gerald remarked how minor our troubles are in comparison to the horrors down there. And we know many other places on this globe where the suffering is equally difficult to contemplate. I am grateful for those courageous enough throughout the world who step in and help.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Redbud! Yes!!

The redbud, crab apple, forsythia, and peach are all adding colorful beauty to this lovely spring awakening with the pear and other trees’ white blossoms giving a softening contrast. The fields in government program were burned as required by Gerald with some help from our son-in-law Brian. Now their blackened ugliness is almost replaced with bright new grass. Fields of pink/purple henbit and other fields of bright yellow wild mustard please my eyes. I don’t know enough about farming to know whether henbit and mustard enrich or deplete the soil for future crops, but I enjoy seeing those colorful fields. (I guess they deplete, but when plowed under perhaps everything comes out even. I need to ask Gerald.) I saw my first dogwood in bloom yesterday and once more rejoiced in spring’s glory. And the tulips are up! At this time of year, spring is my favorite season although autumn will be my favorite six months from now.

Jeannie has come and gone. It was a quick visit for only part of two days, but she got to meet Ian, the white fluffy goose, as did the grandkids during Easter weekend. Ian’s owner said he knew his name, but he did not respond when the grandkids called him. Gerald and I like trying to spot him over on the island or swimming beside it or, best of all, swimming along in a line with his wild geese buddies who fly in and out.

Rosy Cole, a writer friend over in England, wondered of Ian could mate with the wild geese. I have no idea, but it is interesting to speculate what might come out of hatched eggs if such a thing happened. When we first moved here, we had a white female wild goose on the lake who was sterile. Gerald and the grandkids named her Aflack, and the kids loved for me to fix them one of Aflack’s eggs. For some reason, the other geese shunned her, and I felt sad when I saw her all alone. Then she started helping out by sitting on other geese’s nests while they took a break, and suddenly she seemed to be accepted. But fall came and she flew away with the others, and we never saw her again. Since Sebastopol geese cannot fly, maybe Ian will be here for a long time.

Gerald works hard in the garden almost every day, and we are excited about the possibility of strawberries and asparagus. He built a short fence for the blackberries bushes to climb up. I always wanted a strawberry patch back when Gerald was too engaged with crops and pigs to add on other projects. Now I am fearful I may be too old to be able to get down to pick them—which used to be one of my favorite things to do.

We stay busy watching our two softball teams—sometimes A&M on one computer and Oregon on the other at the same time. More often, however, the time difference keeps them playing at separate times. I am almost through my cardiac rehab sessions, but then I have some major dental problems to spend time on. Always something it seems to take my time and give me an excuse for my messy office.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jeannie's On Her Way!

For many years, we counted on the Eilers coming for Easter, but that was not possible last year. And this year, Cecelie had an activity requiring them to stay be in Freeport on Sunday. Jeannie’s plans for them to come just for Saturday ended up being aborted, but she messaged that she hoped to come down during this week. Maybe Wednesday. So I unlocked the front door early this morning in case she arrived while at was at cardiac rehab this afternoon. At supper time, I learned she was as far down as Bloomington; now I hoping the rain does not delay her too much longer. It has been too long since we’ve seen her!

As always I enjoyed having four of our college grandkids coming and going all weekend. Trent from John A. Logan, Brianna from Murray State, Sam from Baylor, and Elijah from Chicago where he is student teaching and living at llinois State’s apartment for the student teachers. (My interactions with our fifth collegiate was on the computer watching Geri Ann playing the opening games at the beautiful new Jane Sanders Stadium at University of Oregon.) I also got to see Sam’s friend Anna a couple of times during the weekend. I love hearing the kids’ talk about their classes, their political opinions, and their plans for the future. I like knowing the washing machine is being used for college laundry again just as it was years ago when their parents were at the farm from school. I had to be impressed when one grandson made his own breakfast, washed up all his dishes, and while doing so, thoroughly cleaned my neglected stove top! Oh, and I learned about bubble tea, which they drove to Carbondale for. Unfortunately, all left to go their separate ways on Easter morning, and the house was silent again.

Meanwhile, Gerald and DuWayne had a rough time driving down to see Gerry and Texas A&M play softball at Georgia with a number of wrecks slowing their travel. Then because of rain threatening, it was decided to have a double header on Saturday. So it was late when they left Athens on Saturday, and they decided to drive all night. (This is typical of Glasco men.) Gerald texted me when they got to Chattanooga, and he turned the driving over to DuWayne. I don’t know when they arrived at the farm, but Gerald was sleeping in bed with me when I got up, but I do not think it had been for very long.

Before I left for Katherine’s house, I had left a note on the kitchen table that anyone who wanted had been invited to go to a 9 a.m. worship with the Taylors and that we were planning on eating Easter dinner at a local restaurant at 11 in hopes Elijah might be able to linger that long and also to avoid the holiday crowd. He needed to get on the road, however; but Gerald did get up to see him briefly before he left and Sam before he went to attend church with Anna. The kids had all attended her church’s Easter vigil the previous night which ended at midnight.

Gerald was too tired to make it in for dinner, but I was well pleased because Trent did. He stays so busy working two jobs, doing great class work at John A., and keeping up his extensive Internet life that even though he is the local one, I rarely get to see him. So sitting by him and getting his hug was special although I was saddened knowing Brianna probably won’t be home until semester’s end. Then she is heading back to Orlando to work at Disney again this summer.

I had asked Katherine what she wanted for dinner later in the afternoon, and she decided she would be able to eat meatloaf. Wouldn’t you know that the restaurant had a new menu and meatloaf was not on it. I did take Gerald home a piece of sugar-free apple pie. When I was texting, Katherine later about the meatloaf and planning to go to a different place to get it, she realized she was hungry for fish. So fish, potato casserole, and baby carrots along with chocolate cake for dessert was her holiday meal, and she was able to eat quite a bit of it.

Well, Jeannie has not arrived yet, and I will not keep her up once she gets here. But I am entertaining myself to stay up in order to see her smiling face and know she is safely here! Talking can happen tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Gerald’s birthday was well celebrated this year. He had phone calls and text messages and Facebook greetings from friends and family all day long. The calls started very early at breakfast with one from his granddaughter Leslie—a singer down in Nashville, TN—whose husband Mike shares this same birthday.

Then perhaps the most touching call came soon after from Katherine, who was not only able to make the call (sometimes she can’t) but she told her dad she wanted to sing for him. And she did, and Gerald said she sounded good! She too used to be a singer down in Nashville, but multiple sclerosis makes it difficult for her to talk sometimes; and singing which once defined her, is usually impossible.

Of course, Gerald was in contact with our son whose card from him and Vickie had come early, but he missed Jeannie’s evening call, because we were all out to eat with our youngest daughter and husband, Mary Ellen and Brian. Jeannie’s card arrived the next day.

We had a delicious meal with the Taylors, and granddaughter Brianna whispered about the birthday boy to the waitress, and she brought him a special piece of pie. He had to take it home as all of us were too full for dessert. Or at least we thought we were.

When we arrived at the Taylor house, we found out that more fun and food was in store for us there. Brianna had been baking. There was banana bread and an angel food cake for the birthday cake. Mary Ellen had sliced strawberries along with the whipped topping all ready for our dessert, and Brian made us coffee. Trent was at work, but maybe he celebrated when he got home later! Katherine has been enjoying the slices of banana bread Mary Ellen wrapped up for her.

When Gerry and Vickie lived in Athens, Georgia, Gerald always tried to go down to a softball game and considered that his special birthday celebration. When he saw that Texas A&M was playing at Georgia this birthday weekend, he knew he needed that special treat. He made arrangements with his nephew DuWayne to go with him, and that too is a treat since DuWayne helps out with the driving. I was going to go along if I could. Then just the other day, we realized that this was Easter weekend! But Gerald and DuWayne took off at 6 Friday morning, and I am sure they are having a great time watching great softball despite the opening loss.

Gerald taught me how to use his computer when we watched Oregon’s streamed game against Stanford Thursday night. I was able to see yesterday and today’s games sweep the series. I was more than thrilled seeing great work by our Geri Ann. Vickie was there to see it all in person, and I that too makes me happy. Having other grandkids in and out of the house makes this a special Easter.