Thursday, October 26, 2006

Falling Into the Fall Activities

Gerald ran over to Brian and Mary Ellen’s 100 acres on down the road from us yesterday and found their persimmon trees ready to gather after the heavy frosts we have had. Wildlife had found them also, but he was able to cover a goodly portion his bucket. He hulled them and I washed them and put them in the freezer today. It has been a few years since I’ve had persimmons to make the persimmon pudding that Gerald’s mother taught me to make with her pioneer grandmother’s method. So it looks like we’ll have pudding for Thanksgiving.

At the grocery store today, there was a huge supply of frozen turkeys already. I guess I might as well go ahead and choose one. Last year I could only get a fresh one, which I had never done before. It made me nervous because I did not know how long they had been in the store. I think I prefer the frozen ones although I do hate to thaw them. I especially hate wrestling that piece of metal hooked into the flesh. Plastic hooks are sometimes replacing the metal now, and that is a little easier.

My mother enjoyed the story of one of her fellow teachers about a Thanksgiving turkey. She had anticipated the holiday dinner prepared by her daughter-in-law when she and her husband traveled to northern Illinois where their son was in med school. Mother asked her for a report on the visit, and her colleague laughingly told about arriving Thanksgiving morning. Her daughter-in-law said she had everything ready for the noon meal--except the turkey. She handed her a frozen turkey with the explanation that she would let her prepare the turkey since she had not cooked one before.

Going thru the drive-in yesterday, I was having the girl ask me, "What do you want?" at the same time a call came from Gerry on top of a mountain in the Yucatan saying, "What's you doing?" He was telling me how to spell the mountain to look it up on the Internet while the girl at the next window was asking me for my money. I did not get the spelling. By the time I picked up the two hamburgers for me and Katherine, he had to hang up. But it was a fun call as he was so excited about the archeological discoveries he was seeing on a tour up there. He was finding tourist things for some wives coming with their hunter husbands in a couple of weeks. He is excited about this new duck-hunting venture in a different part of Mexico where the skies are black with ducks above the rice fields. The rice farmers are very glad for him to be there.

I am anticipating the Western Kentucky Book Expo at Sturgis this Saturday. It is by far larger than any of our local book fairs. Unfortunately, that day is also my 55th high school reunion and a Southern Force tournament in St. Louis. Our oldest granddaughter and family will be coming to coach, and our only great grandchild will be there. Actually, he may be in a motel room with his Gma Vickie if it is not pretty weather. Part of the gang will be staying at Mary Ellen and Brian’s, and Gerald may be with grandkids in their camper at a nearby park. Gerry and I will be wishing that we were there. People suspect he may be. Ha. Ha. We’ll see if he can resist seeing Aidan.

Gerald and I got our flu shots yesterday. Do you have yours?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Preparing for Winter and Pondering the Past

The green tomatoes got wrapped and the hummingbird feeders taken down and put in the garage tub to be sterilized and stored for next summer. Gerald had brought in a small bucket of the last of the okra yesterday, and I microwaved some for our lunch, put some in the fridge, and put some in the freezer. Our good neighbors Jay and Winnie Payne brought us a bucket of cleaned fish last night, so I fixed some for our lunch and froze the rest. Gerald ran by Vickie's and found Erin could not resist coming home during fall break after all. I hope I get to see her.

Today I worked revamping an essay that has been revamped many times on my great grandfather William Felix Grundy Martin. Down through the years, we have discovered new information, and so the essay gets longer and longer. I last revised it in 1999 and gave it to our four children as a Christmas present that year.

WFGM's mother was Hannah Alice McCullough Martin Nichols, whom my children called the "Little Apple Doll Lady" because her photograph taken with William Felix's family group looks like the little apple doll heads sometimes sold at craft fairs. Come to find out, my distant cousin in Centralia was calling her the same thing.

Despite all the new information, there is much we do not know about WFGM's life. He enlisted in the 109th Infantry to fight for the Union. This was the regiment that was issued inferior guns and was detached and left at Lumpkin's Mill because the guns were deemed unfit for use in battle. By April of 1863, the regiment was disbanded after losing 237 by desertion and some of the officers having proved incompetent. Like the others in the 109th, WFGM was transferred to and discharged from the 11th Illinois Infantry.

The service record for WFGM says he also deserted and yet it says he was paroled as a prisoner of war near Vicksburg on December 14, 1862, 16 days after listing as deserting, and other dates given in his record are at variance with one another. I get angry every time I read his service record because I do not think he deserted in the normal sense of the word desertion--if at all. I understand there was much Southern sympathy in the l09th, but WFGM was a strong supporter of the Union. He and his three brothers were part of the nine Martin cousins who enlisted with the Union despite their love for their Tennesee relatives. I am grateful WFGM was not one of the 92 enlisted men in the 109th who died of disease although he was very ill at times. I know how much his wife Louisa Jane was missing him as she cared for my grandfather William Henry, who was born three days after WFGM mustered in at Camp Anna. WFGM's younger brother and two of his cousins were among the 34,000 Illinois men who died in the Civil War.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Autumn Rains

Before we left for the weekend at Notre Dame, Gerald had picked the few ripe tomatoes in the garden and half a tub full of green ones. I still need to wrap them in newspaper although I see they are ripening quite well in the tub. I rescued Cecelie's soft fluffy aqua bear and little black-eyed raccoon from the patio, and they are sitting on the fireplace ledge in the family room awaiting her next visit. Good thing I did too because we have had constant rain since we got home at midnight Sunday. Last night the winds howled and over two inches more drenched us.

It was good news to hear from Gerry that rains also came and filled his ponds for the ducks at his hunting lodge in northern Mexico. He will be taking off for the new lodge in the Yucatan soon, and the pheasant-hunting lodge in South Dakota is shutting down soon.

The Archibalds were busy this weekend taking Aidan to the pumpkin patch, and then Tara was coaching Southern Force in the Chicago area. Bryan kept Aidan home out of the cold. We felt so sorry for the players in ND because the cold creates painful havoc on chilled fingers. They had the same trouble in Chicago and one player received a broken finger.

Brian was down and moved the Taylors' camper home. We will miss seeing it and thinking of them when we go by the farm on the Pittsburg road.

It was fun meeting other parents and grandparents at ND including the Bargars from California, where Erin is planning to go for Thanksgiving break. We are going to miss her bad at Woodsong. Actually, ND is on a fall break right now, but Erin could not come home. She is hoping to get in lots of her student teaching at a local school this week while her schedule is free.

Davie is studying photography in Seattle, Washington, and we miss him too. The family is scattered here and yon with everyone working hard at their various studies and occupations. That is a good thing, but I miss everyone. It feels like it has been forever since we managed a trip to Freeport, so I am really excited about plans to go see Leslie in Pajama Game in November.

I missed writing in "Woodsong Notes" last week, so I decided to write a day early this week. Maybe I will even get back on my Wednesday deadline tomorrow--if not, then next week.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Crops Are In!!

What a great feeling when a farm family can say, "The crops are in." Our son-in-law Brian Taylor and friends worked Monday through Thursday on harvest, and all the corn and beans are safely out of the field. It is so scary to have a crop standing tall and beautiful and then to watch the radar screen telling you that rain, wind, and hail are headed towards your area. We have been very blessed with a good crop that is all gathered so early in October.

I can remember Gerald struggling to get our crops in by Thanksgiving--and one horrible year when he did not finish until Washington's birthday. Of course, he was doing it all himself with his own combine. And there were years when the combine had to have tracks to get through the muddy fields. The bad years make the good years even more appreciated.

Yesterday also ended the middle schools' baseball and softball seasons with the state tourneys for both in the lower half of Illinois at the Pinckneyville fields. I did not get to go to the Tuesday game when Carterville beat us. That linded us in the semifinals yesterday against O'Fallon. With a score of 5 to 2, we won third after nine innings. Cartervlle triumphed for first place over Marion, who won second.

Sunday morning I awoke with my first head cold of the season, but I felt fine on Sunday and Monday. Just a little runny nose. I have this theory that by my age I have already had all the various viruses and so I won't have many colds--and if I do, they won't be serious. By Tuesday, however, after I had taken Katherine to get stiches out and hear the good news about the biopsies, I was feeling tired out and miserable with runny eyes and nose. I went home as quick as possible.

My misery has continued through today although I did not cough as much last night and I could tell when I woke up that I am going into the final stage of this cold. I sat in the car yesterday to watch the game to keep out of the chilly air. Later I was to learn that Geri Ann had been ill throughout the game, but played anyway. She and her teammates are definitely tougher than I am. I cannot imagine having the courage to slide with bare legs in dirt filled with gravel. They do not hesitate. Our younger generation is quite impressive with their work ethic and physical strength.

She and her family are already in Indianapolis tonight for a weekend softball tourney with Southern Force. Tara and family will be meeting them there as she is coaching the 14 and under girls, while her dad coaches the 16 and under team.

I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Eilers from Freeport. They usually arrive in the middle of the night. It is a long way down here. With the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, Jeannie and Leslie will be going over to the SIUC open house that day. Tomorrow they will go down to Belmont College in Nashville, TN. Elijah and Cecelie will stay here, and on Sunday we will celebrate Jeannie's birthday one week late. I am homesick to see all of them--especially Lige since he did not get to come the last time the others did.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rocking Aidan and Enjoying Harvest Time

After a busy two days attending our BSU convention, I was tired. An email announcing that our first Union County Writers Group anthology was available Friday night for pickup at a reception at Bethany Village at Anna would have been ignored--except for a kind invitation from Lois Barrett to ride down with her.

I knew I was too tired to write that night, and if I tried to read or watch TV, I'd fall asleep, so I accepted Lois' invitation. I was so glad I did. The beautful book edited by Kathy Cotton featured her cover design as well as some of her writings. The fall colors of the cover of Harvest of Words was repeated on the lovely refreshment table. There was even a cake decorated to match the anthology cover, and Betty Hickam brought a million-dollar pie she'd learned about on a recent Ophrah show. The anthology means much more to me now that I have met many of the other authors, and it was so much fun getting their autographs on my copy. The only thing left wanting for me was Pat Evans' and Violet Toler's presence. I can get their autographs later, but I knew they would have liked to be there and I would have liked to see them. Of course visiting with Lois going down and coming back to the farm was enjoyable as always.

The next morning I woke up and decided to take another hour's rest knowing Gerald would wake me in time for us to go to the state tourney game at Pinckneyville at l0:30. Imagine my shock when Gerald came into the bedroom after 9 o'clock and said, "We have five minutes to get ready to leave for Pinckneyville!" He had gotten caught up in his photography hobby downstairs and let time slip away. I think I made the deadline and assumed I'd skip breakfast, but Gerald had my bagle toasted and sprayed with margerine and a large covered container of coffee all ready for me as I dressed. Then we caught up with Mary Ellen by phone and she was taking Trent to be with Samuel for some free item David was going to take them to get from Toys R Us. Gerald and I crawled in with Mary Ellen and Brianna and took all the shortcuts that Gerald has learned about from years of going to the Pinckneyville ball fields. We were late, and only saw the third of Geri Ann's three hits, but it was a good game that ended right.

One of our big reasons to hurry there was our eagerness to see our four-month old great grandson, whom we had not seen since he was nine weeks old. Bryan had brought Tara and Aidan down, so Tara could see Geri Ann play as well as her Pinckneyville team, which she coached last year. He favored us all with smiles and let his great aunt Mary Ellen give him his bottle. (Mary Ellen likes Aidan, she says, cause he made her "great.") Then though he is not much on rocking, when he got sleepy, he let Great Grandma Sue rock him to sleep in her canvas lawn chair. To hold a great grandson is indeed one of life's greatest blessings.

After eating Chinese on the square and then back to the ball park for more Aidan watching, we eventually went back to Marion to pick up our car and a few groceries and head to the farm. Later that evening the Taylors came out with Samuel along and we got our belongings straightened out and to the right person.

On Sunday Katherine and David and Sam and the Taylors came for noon dinner--again increased by Mary Ellen's green bean casserole and dressing from their family's supper the night before. The kids were more interested in playing than eating, which reminded me of our kids and their cousins a generation back. We enjoyed the afternoon before everyone had to go their separate ways.

Gerry and Vickie had gotten up at 3 a.m. to go to Notre Dame and see Erin play in a practice game there, so the Archibalds were going to meet up with the Johnson and Borum relatives for their Sunday dinner. They needed to see Aidan too, of course. Tara and Bryan were assigned the privilege of taking Geri Ann and friend to a PomPom picture or practice or something so there was no chance for Aidan to stop by the farm even though Grandma Shirley lives down the road and around a curve or so from us. (But Gerald and I both got to go by Gerry and Vickie's house today and get a fresh report from their visit with Erin and I got to feed Aidan his bottle. Bryan had to return to Aurora last night because of work, but Tara stayed over to see tomorrow's game and will then take the train from DuQuoin back home to Aurora.)

I ended Sunday with a prayer walk with fellow church members praying for our school, our teachers, and our young people.