Saturday, April 15, 2017

Enjoying Spring's Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

























































Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Celebrating Gerald!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






























Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Fun Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





























































































Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Springtime in Winter

Bright yellow daffodils and the white blossoms on pear trees continue to decorate this late winter landscape. 
Gerald and I have both had our first cold that we have had in a year or two, but we cannot blame it on the weather. This has been an unusually warm winter here in Southern Illinois, and I have kept expecting it to change.Yesterday's rainy weather while I was out and about doing errands after I had a semi-annual check up with the heart doctor made me think of April--not winter.  Last night's wind storm did some slight damages here, but nothing like the tornadoes a few days ago over at Elkville and elsewhere.

Other areas have not escaped winter. After Gerald's sister Ernestine and husband Don stayed around for some final family visits here before they left our warm weather and headed back to Wyoming, they were dreading the snow and ice-covered roads between here and there. They made it back safely, and we were grateful. Last Sunday, I noticed our son was wearing a coat at the softball game down at Texas A&M while we were still able to opt out of jackets.

I just hope we do not have one of our March blizzards this weekend when family is coming up from Texas and Tennessee for granddaughter Erin and Josh's baby shower. Preparing for the new baby girl coming into our family's lives has been such a joy during our season of sorrow. First the dining room table and then the bed in the guest bedroom has been covered with sweet frilly clothes and girly gift bags, and now I have to get that room back in operation before company starts arriving for this weekend's party.

 The last baby girl in our immediate family when out granddaughter Cecelie was born—and she is a senior in high school this year! We have delighted in our three great grandsons since then, but we are definitely ready to welcome a little girl into the mix.

Erin's sister Tara has suggested instead of using a card with our gift that we inscribe a children's book—one we already have and cherish or one we choose just for Caroline Marie, That has been a fun idea. (I have been concerned when I realized how much cards cost these days. I loved the gorgeous cards given us for our anniversary party, but was shocked when I realized how expensive they were. They have been re-read more than once and are carefully stowed away for future enjoyment.) With cards costing more than some books, Tara's idea is an excellent one. I can just imagine how much pleasure Josh and Erin will have reading to their little girl.

Regardless of whether spring weather stays or not, our hearts are warmed that we have a new birth coming up to celebrate.












Thursday, February 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Laughter and Stories Keep Us From Crying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January Happenings at Woodsong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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