Monday, February 06, 2006

A Warm Winter So Far

All this wonderful "spring" weather we have been having in Southern Illiois has caused our ducks to think it is nesting time. We have had all seven of the ducks Gerald raised last summer along with the two geese, who think they are ducks, wandering in our front and side yards looking for nesting spots. I am grateful for the warm weather for all those that have avoided the potentially high heat bills that would have occurred if we had a "normal" winter with much cold weather. I am also grateful for the Cedars who are continuing to work on their house. It is much more pleasant to do so in warm weather than in bitter snowy cold weather. We occasionally have a biting wind at some point in the day or night, but overall the weather has been especially nice this winter for our area.

I ran by the Cedars for the first time in awhile this afternoon and ended up staying with Samuel while his parents were out on business. Josh came over and the boys played in the park. When they came in with bright rosy cheeks, I teased that they had on too much rouge on their cheeks. Not to be outdone, Josh told me I should have seen the mud on their shoes before they scraped it off in the grass. Sam and I were two inches taller, he declared.

I am enjoying the driving the new car since it has been repaired with a new computer module from Texas replacing the defective one. Then the other 17 computers had to be reprogrammed so they could talk to the new module. I am glad somebody understands all this. At least I hope somebody does. Of course, I never understood how old-fashioned cars worked, so I don't need to expect to understand how computerized ones work. I can remember in high school general science class believing that I understood how refridgerators work. Occasionally I think about that and wish I could remember. I hate to think how much I have forgotten over the years.

We enjoyed a visit from our friends Willitt and Carolyn Pierce as they passed through our area from north of Chicago on their way to visit a son's family in Atlanta and then on to a time-share in Florida. They were also going to visit some high school friends of Willitt in our area who have retired from a career in Africa as missionaries.

On Saturday a number of us signed books at the first Winter Book Fair at the Illiois Centre Mall. Our tables were scattered from one end of the mall to the other, so the writers missed getting to visit with one another as we often do. But it was good to see Kestner Wallace again as his table was next to mine. His children were with him, and when he substituted for Violet Toler as a reader, I was told his daughter read for him. My table was just outside the community room, and I wanted to go hear that and other presentations, but I couldn't leave my table of course. Also on our end of the hall was Lois Barrett getting to make her first signing since her surgery, and she was accompanied by her two sharp teenage grandchildren: Noelle--already a published poet--and Matt Fowler, who serves as Lois's webmaster. I appreciated Pat Evans showing up to show support for Southern Illinois Writers Guild members who were there, and it was great to have her at my table when it was my turn to read. It was also exciting to have Deb Tucker, our Guild newsletter editor, wandering around taking photos for our newsletter--photos will be a first for us.

Sunday was a potluck at church after morning worship, and as always the food was too good. We have some exceptional cooks. There was a big pot of beans, corn muffins made with yeast, a wonderful bowl of cooked cabbage, and just about anything else one might think about wanting to eat on a winter day. The pies and cakes on the dessert table were almost too pretty to disturb. Our hostess Shirley Butler had the basement dining rooms decorated with bright red and white Valentine accessories and tablecloths, so our meal was in a visually delightful environment.

As we sat talking after the meal in that pleasant place, confidences were exchanged as someone at our table asked probing questions of our oldest active member. Zella Cain raised two handicapped children as well as four handsome healthy ones. The questions came because several of us have children and grandchldren with disabilities, and Zella has always been an inspiration to us. Zella did not disappoint us as she shared some of the ways she coped and talked of the pain that comes when we see our children suffer. We came away knowing what we already knew: there are no easy answers and no one knows for sure what is always the right thing to do. Yet we also knew that Zella had made it through the difficulties and has a host of descendants and friends whose lives are made stronger because of her example through trials and tribulations.

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