Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In a Pickle--Time is Running Out

It is almost time for the annual visit of grandkids during Vacation Bible School at Center. I hope that I am almost ready.

We got a late start on VBS preparation this year because so much was going on with our congregation--still is for that matter. To try and alleviate stress, it was decided to repeat a week of Veggietown lessons from many years ago. Our pastor had our lessons saved for us, and while the material is vaguely familiar, I still have a great deal of study to do before now and Monday morning. Seems like it was just last year that I got rid of some of the materials I had used the first time way back then.

What I did not count on was having someone accidentally jump a curb and run into our back passenger car door while I was inside the mall last week the very afternoon before we were to leave at 5 a.m. next day for Springfield doctor appointment. And that “quick trip” to Springfield was supposed to just be for a second opinion to back up the first. We probably broke records in recent years for a slow trip home from Springfield because of all the storm-caused delays. And unexpectedly, we have to go back again this Friday for follow-up. So for those and other reasons, an over-full schedule was expanded considerably this past week.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed telling the Heartland Rotary Club about Southern Illinois Writers Guild on Tuesday morning. If we are not detained in Springfield, I will be able to read from Down on the Farm as planned for the reception for showings of the Historic Structures and Farm Machinery in Art at the newly refurbished Little Egypt Art Association building on the Marion Square on Saturday afternoon. As I searched the book for appropriate readings about old farm houses and machinery, I was somewhat surprised to find much more than I needed for the 15-minute reading.

Our Guild is also planning a third Southern Illinois Writer’s Conference on Saturday, September 9, at John A. Logan College, so part of my brain is working on that. SIWG is pretty excited that we have two Illinois publishers coming: Doris Wenzel from Mayhaven Publishing in Mahomet and Ray Elliott from Tales Press in Urbana. This will be an incredible day for anyone interested in writing. And this year because of gas prices, we are making the registration fee just $l0 instead of $35 and hoping we will have enough extra people attending to make up the difference. People can go off campus to local cafes to eat, so the conference will be affordable for students and those on fixed incomes. This is going to be a great bargain and I hope a productive day for writers in this region.

I will be taking my Bible and lesson plans along to Springfield for more study and prep. I have the new pickle pot ready for the kids to use to determine what to do in some of the pickles they may find themselves in. I am just hoping I will be ready and not in a pickle myself on Monday morning.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July Heat Wave; Computer Crisis and Joys

The heat wave throughout much of the nation has affected us in Southern Illinois also. Not me cause I am able to stay mostly under AC. But I worry because of Katherine's MS and I worry because Gerald was up against a deadline on a project with our neighbor, and he has worked outside in his shop right through all of this heat. He has come in with his clothes wringing wet. But tonight he came in celebrating, nevertheless.

Tonight Gerald and Scott tested the two spray rigs they have been building for weeks now. The sprayers worked. In the cool of the evening, I went out and watched them try out the first sprayer. One will be shipped to Florida tomorrow and another to England. Since he has to help load hay or straw bales in the morning before he goes to physical therapy, Gerald will still be working out in the heat. I must say he is tough.

Because we had two blue-screen shut downs at the first of the week following by another crisis on Monday night, I have spent a couple of days getting at least some of my documents backed up. I am terribly negligent about back-up. And I have never arranged to keep back-ups in another place in case of fire as I was told to do in a class early in the history of computers. I considered it excellent advice, but I have failed to follow it.

I have warned all my email buddies that I may be shut down with a crash anyday now. But once I started warning people, our computer has worked perfectly. Well, slow, but just fine otherwise. So we will see what happens. I am pleased I have the back-ups accomplished. Certainly not everything as I got terribly bored, but I hope the most important documents. On an older computer, I used to back up important emails, but then I did not know how to retrieve them from the disk. So I don't back up emails anymore.

Computers are so amazing and mystifying to me. I have been receiving emails of a friend's son and family on a mission trip to Morocco. The same Texas friend is also sending us up-to-date information about a mutural friend in a nursing home in Nebraska. I am also checking Jon Musgrave's blog and audio entries from over in the Ukraine with a mission team from Marion Second Baptist. I am in closer contact with cousins than I have ever been in my life since I hear from them regularly at least with forwards while in the old days, we might only hear from each other at Christmas. And like much of the population, I have found family history on the Internet that I never dreamed I would ever be able to discover. And like much of the population, I will go through a difficult withdrawal period if and when we crash.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rainy Summer Days Are Very Welcome!

Gentle rains have started and stopped for a couple of days now at our house, and we are grateful. Gerald's garden plants seem to be taller every time I look out the kitchen window. He brought in the first tomato and a huge head of cabbage. So we had slaw with our hamburgers tonight.

We are most grateful, of course, for the rains on Brian's crops. I imagine Gerald has seen the the corn and soybean fields both days, and he will undoubtedly take me by the first time we are out running around together. Going by fields with Brian's crops is a part of his summer activity. And our friend "Bun" Handkins checks them regularly also. It pleases us to think that someone in his 90s is still involved with life and watching our crops.

Gerald was awake at 4 a.m. and stayed awake until it was time for him to take a friend to an airport in Indiana for the friend to pick up his plane being serviced there. So when Brian called from Lake Saint Louis tonight, Gerald was sound asleep in his comfy chair in front of the TV, which works better than a sleeping pill for him.

I stayed up later than I should have last night reading the fascinating blog of a paraplegic, who has accomplished amazing things. So I was still asleep when the phone rang this morning--very late this morning. A saleswoman was following up on Gerald's first foray into looking for a stone to put on our cemetery lot. We are very proud to have one finally purchased. I was quite horrified when he told me at supper last night what stones cost. Yikes. What a waste of money. I wondered if we could take one of the huge left-over rocks Gerald used for our new rock garden and just bolt a piece of metal on it or something explaining who we are when we die. But our children might not like that, so we will probably be conventional. But I can think of a great many things I'd rather do with that much money than to buy a tombstone--I would love to give it away to all sorts of people and causes. Now that would be fun. I don't see anything fun about spending money on a rock. GRRRR.

For some reason for the first time since we have lived here, we have a bluebird visitor who likes to sit on our upper ledge of our living room windows and look in longingly as if it would like to join us. The baby martins are giving their lungs lots of exercise chirping loudly and flying excitedly all around us as we watch them from the deck. The yellow finches brighten our day as they eat thistleseed from their bag hanging down over the patio. As Pat Evans observed, the rain does not deter the hummingbirds from their feeders. They keep me busy making them sugar water.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quiet Fourth of July

Busy with our various projects, Gerald and I did not go far yesterday on the Fourth of July. In the past, we have sometimes gone to a community barbeque or to a bash our daughter-in-law sometimes hosts. But we had been celebrating with the famly for a week during Jeannie's visit, and it was good to have a restful day. After running to town for a prescription, Gerald did run up to Gerry and Vickie's house and found our little Geri Ann suffering from one of the many viruses in our community. (She is fine today.)

Although Tara, Bryan, and baby Aidan had squeezed in a trip down here to get a truck load of stuff from their house in DuQuoin and hurried back to Chicago area on Monday, we had not seen them during their too-brief visit. Jeannie and daughters hit it lucky and happened by at the right moment to get to meet Aidan. Of course Gerry and Vickie had delighted in seeing their daughter's family and holding that new grandson again. When Gerald asked about how much Aidan might have grown, Vickie looked sad and Gerry said, "She is suffering post-partum depression." We don't think he was really kidding. I suspect there may be a trip up in that direction when Erin plays softball at Elgin.

Besides the wonderful rain we had, our only treat for the holiday was a ride around the farm on the "mule" for Gerald to show me some dirt work he has been doing--a favorite past time for him. He had worked that morning again leveling a spot on the west side of the farm. An old pond must had been therein days gone by, and he was smoothing it out. Today he moved the kids' swing from the tree in the north fence row over to that newly created flat area. Our neighbor thinks we need a picnic table there.

Mext we traveled on and looked at the lake spillway that he was making some adjustments to. Because of the rain, water was pouring out of a pipe in the bank there.

As we continued around the lake, we enjoyed seeing the 26 geese we now have at Woodsong because they were swimming on the lake. We don't mind the frequent inconvenience of having to slow the car when they cross the lane in front of the car as they busily come and go to the wheat field and we don't mind their being on the edge of the lawn, but we get upset if they wander too close to the patio. But they are a pretty sight on the lake. We think the ducks are a pretty sight no matter how close they come to the house. Yesterday the island was alight with Queen Anne's lace and the bright yellow blooms of black-eyed Susans, and it looked like a big bouquet. But the narrow back channel and some areas of the lake are covered with algae like last summer, and those areas are not so pretty.

Yesterday we prayed for peace and democracy in Iraq and other troubled spots around the world, and we thought prayerfully about our service people and their families. And we remembered the several groups from our area that are in other lands or about to go to other lands on mission trips. And we will continue to pray those prayers after the Fourth of July also.