Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pampering, Shopping, and a Cooling Rain

Sounds of thunder came inside the mall, and I hurried to end my shopping. Welcome rain greeted me as I scurried from Dillard's with my arms full of on-sale purchases and ran out to where I had parked the car under a shade tree--with all the windows rolled down to prevent a heat build-up.

I had planned to shop until time for Geri Ann’s softball game in Johnston City. Instead, I rolled up the windows and drove happily home through the rain. (Only later did I learn it did not rain up at J.C.)

My shopping trip today was something I needed to do, and I am not often much of a shopper. However, I had done so little lately that I looked forward to it-- mostly it was to “reward” to myself for enduring the dreaded mammogram this morning. My other “reward” for this important but unpleasant duty was to resolve that today I would not hurry all day long.

I would take my time, leave the house with chores undone and give myself driving time to be there without worrying about being late. (I have a tendency to act as though I have a magic carpet that will take me from Woodsong to town and then across town in far less time than it takes to do either. Consequently, I not only arrive late, but I must drive tense scolding myself for not starting earlier. Today I was going to turn over a new leaf.

I almost achieved that goal although my desire to recycle the bag full of aluminum cans and drop off the accumulated box of newspapers in the garage almost messed me up. When I saw another car ahead of me, I debated postponing dropping them off before the appointment. But that would require extra back driving, and I wanted those two big containers out of the car. I took the chance and arrived exactly on time. So then, I got to wait awhile, but I relaxed and enjoyed the wait knowing that I would not enjoy the appointment. I left feeling very righteous that I had accomplished that task for another year.

After shopping at Stella’s and the Dollar Store, it was lunchtime, so I went to my favorite (and cheapest for me) place in town--Honeybakers. There in a pleasant atmosphere, I relaxed again with a cup of soup, a wonderful roll with sweetened butter, and tinkling ice water served in a real glass just the right size--neither too small nor awkwardly large to handle. The well-trained service was lovely and rapid. I read a little local paper, consumed my delicious soup, and was on my way in little over a half hour. (We have had such ridiculously slow service lately in some restaurants that the speed with which my food came was greatly appreciated.) The only thing that could have made it better was to have had a daughter or friend with me, but life and today’s schedule did not allow that.

Next, it was on to the mall for the shopping trip aborted by thunder. However, the rain and the cooler temperature it brought was more welcome than more shopping. After carrying in my purchases to the guest bedroom where tomorrow I will have to finish putting them away, I was able to look at the mail, read a bit, check emails, and be available to go get Gerald up at Wayside Farm when he phoned for a ride home. He had taken the tractor up there to finish mowing CRP ground before he moves on to Gerry’s place tomorrow.

After that, I got us a quick but substantial supper since Gerald had to fix his own lunch. (Not setting his place, etc. was one of the neglected activities to get me to my appointment in an unhurried fashion.) By the time I cleaned up after our meal, set the breakfast table, and fixed the morning coffee pot, it was quite late, but I read a bit more, read my California cousin’s email forwards, and wrote a long and important email for a club.

I am on my way to bed now, and it has been a pleasant day. There are umpteen things I could yet attend to, but on the day a woman gets a mammogram, she has a right to treat herself well.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hot! Hot! Hot!

For 23 days our temperature in Southern Illinois has been above 90, and it looks like the hot weather will continue. Gerald and I watched a softball game in the heat this afternoon, and despite a sometime breeze and a huge hat, I was often uncomfortable. I was dry, dry, dry by game’s end.

I cannot understand how the young girls playing these games can take the heat, but they do. Geri Ann told me after the game that she has three tests tomorrow. She has been in school over a week now. She played a tourney last Saturday, another game on Monday, and will play in another tourney at the Johnston City field this Saturday. Today’s kids may not walk five miles to school like our ancestors did, but they are plenty tough. Much tougher than I ever was at their age.

Watching all the flooding on TV, grieving the Utah miners and the seismic conditions causing their deaths, and knowing how hot it is in Iraq, where insurgents have made sure electricity still is not constant, I know that I should not gripe about our heat wave.

Some kind of weather condition must have affected the air waves above our house tonight. We tried to watch the third of the TV series on God‘s Warriors on CNN. Suddenly the screen would go blank. Gerald learned that he could switch channels and eventually find one working (not easy), and then he could switch back to CNN and we would see more of their program. Sometimes this effort had to be repeated two or three times. Then for 10 or 15 minutes, we could watch without interruption before the screen blanked on us again. Odd--like so much of the workings of the electronic marvels in our modern life that our general science classes in the 1940s did not teach us about.

After the disrupted show and a bit of Channel 3 news, I came into my computer to erase off my two websites the announced program of the Writers Guild for September since there had been a cancellation. I succeeded easily with the first website. When I tried to do the identical thing on the second website, the edit button would bring up a blank screen.

Since I could not edit the item desired, I even pushed “delete” at the bottom of the blank screen, but when I returned to the website, nothing had changed. Everything including the announcement I wanted to delete was still there with its misinformation. I suppose whatever caused the TV problem was also causing the problem with editing my website.

Again I really should not gripe. With all the world’s problems, mine are minor in comparison. I’ll probably try one more time, and then go to bed with or without success. Ah well.

P.S. I wrote this post on Thursday night, and everything seemed to go well. It was said that the above post was published. However, when I looked at the website, this new post was not there. A half hour later it still was not there. This morning I came down to see if the entry had been posted overnight. It still was not posted. So I am starting over--just copying it and calling it a new post. HMMM.

I was mildly amused and mildly upset to see that the Southern Illinoisan's lead head line this morning was Hot! Hot! Hot! One reason I wanted to see if my blog had posted was to see if Woodsong Notes beat them to the headline. Since something failed to work right and I am just now getting this published on Friday morning (I hope), they got to use the headline first. I guess it must be true that great minds run in the same channels. Actually, the heat is so oppressive that most of the population is saying, "Hot! Hot! Hot!" So there is no great mind at work here or with the SI headline writer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Elijah is Here--Not There!!

Elijah came down to Woodsong with the Eiler Grey groupies, and he has stayed on for his week with grandparents/cousins in Southern Illinois. Samuel came out to Woodsong from town to join him and the rest of the gang staying here. One night when Geri Ann and friend Allison came from The Mix with us, there were 12 sleeping here, and quite frankly I am not sure who slept where--but I know the living room floor was occupied.

The next day the rest of the cousins (Trent and Brianna) showed up briefly here and for an Eiler Grey concert. When Eiler Grey (the stage name that our granddaughter Leslie has chosen) and her gang left on Monday, Elijah and Sam were the only grandchildren here until they went to Sam’s house while Gerald and I went up to Sesser to Geri Ann’s first softball game for Johnston City Middle School. After the game, we picked Sam and Lige up for the night at the farm before our planned trip the next day.

We slept late on Tuesday except Gerald, of course, who was out in the garden early on gathering produce to take along and share. After cereal, we loaded the car and headed to Saint Louis and on west to Lake Saint Louis.

We forgot to take pillows to travel, but that didn’t stop the boys from sleeping--because they had stayed up visiting the night before naturally. After sleeping, watching scenery, watching videos, making phone calls, etc. Elijah and Samuel grew bored and reached the “Are we there yet?“ stage. At that point, they kept us entertained as they played with words to discover that no one can ever be “there.” You can be almost there, but you can’t be “there,” because you are always “here.” So when we finally got to Brian and Mary Ellen’s house we weren’t “there,” but we were “here.”

The boys were invited up to visit with their cousins Trent and Brianna and to help break in the newly installed swimming pool just outside the Taylors‘ back door. That activity happily occupied us for the rest of the day with breaks for lunch and supper. Lauren joined us in the evening to spend the night with Brianna. Since we had big plans for Wednesday, I was impressed when the kids all headed to their downstairs bedrooms at a decent hour. I figured they were worn out from all that swimming and ready for sleep.

Little did I know until we were almost home yesterday how late some of these jay-whos stayed up. But we will not go into that. Mary Ellen had gone down to settle them, but I think she went to sleep before they did.

Our Wednesday adventure was to explore the St. Louis City Museum that Mary Ellen’s family had discovered on a school field trip. Gerald kindly took up to a lovely seafood restaurant at Union Station before we hit the museum. After we said goodbye to the gold fish there, we hurried on because Mary Ellen assured us there was much to do at this unique museum. It was indeed an amazing experience.

Artists/craftsmen have recycled Saint Louis history in this downtown eleven-story building with a school bus sitting on top of it as though about to drive off the roof. There is an airplane up there too on the outside. And all kinds of slides, climbing chambers of spiraled wire taking you up to these weird masses of junk. This is just on the outside. Actually just a small part of the outside stuff.

Inside, we were immediately awed by the beautiful mosaic tile floor of bits and pieces making fishes and sea creatures swimming under our feet. Great columns were at the entrance made of small brown gears placed together--often with a recycled marble in the middle of the gear. They were beautiful. Other tall columns were made lovely with recycled bits of glass. Huge sea monsters, serpents, whales, and dinosaur-like creatures abounded throughout.

Four or five stories of the building were gutted and then filled with unbelievable beauty and intrigue--storefronts of historic buildings, hiding places, climbing places, catacombs, dungeons, staircases of recycled materials, slides, lovely statues, ugly gargoyles, advertisements and a rescued Big Boy, collections of marbles, rocks, pottery--often just the tops, past cigarette packages, pin ball machines, and on and on. There was a battered grand piano with the top missing--but it was in tune and the children were encouraged to play it. Sometimes visiting pianists come to present concerts on it.

Although there were young brave slender parents there with little kids, we felt our 10 to 14-year- olds were the perfect age for this museum because no way could we have possibly gone through all the narrow holes and scary climbing places they went.

After we tired out wandering and seeing the never-ending sights, we were able to sit and people watch while our kids had adventures climbing things we really would have not wanted to watch. Where we were sitting, we saw children go into a hole in the floor beside us. We felt as if we saw them go into a rabbit hole and disappear forever because we never were able to figure out where they came out.

There was a circus on one floor that our kids attended, and a couple of them came out with drawings they said an elderly man had made of them. We saw the area for the much younger kids and a lady doing crafts with a table of them and other nooks with adorable old-fashioned child furniture for them to sit on. There was a little train for the youngest children to ride also.

We stayed almost to the 5 p.m. closing time, and then we had to say good-bye to Mary Ellen and the Taylor kids as they headed west and we headed east across the mighty Mississippi into Illinois and home. Since we were already part of the way home, the trip passed quickly. We stopped in Johnston City, found out the middle-school had won their softball game, and took Gerry and Vickie and Geri Ann out to supper with us before we dropped Samuel off at his house, and brought Elijah back to Woodsong. We were here--not there--in time for an early-to-bed night’s sleep.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Eiler Grey and Troops

The family room is awash with electrical cords, guitars, and teenagers. I ought to have written on here on schedule Wednesday night--because I have had to wait my turn to use my computer today. (A computer is a necessity for today’s kids.) I accidently found myself on MySpace before I got on here.

Freeport High School’s yearbook, which just came out yesterday, is on the dining room table, and we‘ve been enjoying it. Suitcases and clothes are strewn in bedrooms. The piano is no longer longing for a pianist. Videos are being shot as speech kids do their thing. In other words, Woodsong is one cool place this hot summer weekend.

Jeannie, Leslie, Elijah and buddies Rachel, Chad, and Sam all arrived at 1:30 this morning. They had broken up their long trip down from Freeport by stopping at Charleston’s coffee house, so Leslie could sing at the open mic there.

At the moment, we all have on our black Eiler Grey T-shirts that Rachel designed for Leslie, who sings under the stage name Eiler Grey. Pretty soon we are heading to The Mix in Carterville, where Eiler Grey will be in concert tonight. (Tomorrow night will be at Common Grounds in Carbondale.) Jeannie is picking up Samuel. Aunt Vickie is dropping off Geri Ann and Allison as they travel back from Carbondale. I told Geri Ann if they want to spend night, we still have some couches and the floor available.

Teenagers are invigorating to me--their humor and energy are exciting and pleasing. I have always thought that if the energy in a high school hallway between classes could be bottled up, we could send half the population to the moon AND solve the world’s problems.

Gerald is engrossed keeping up with Gerry and the Southern Force’s 18-and-under girls softball team in Oklahoma City. Despite falling into the losers’ bracket fairly early on, Southern Force just keeps winning. (In a double elimination tourney, one more loss and we are out.) That will be the first thing I want to know when we get home from The Mix: did we win tonight?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

We Got a Rain!

The heat has been terrible, and we really have needed a rain. Gerald hauled 8 loads of water in a 200-gallon tank yesterday morning to water his garden and trees. Although he is still coughing terribly with his summer cold, he was up before five, going after the paper; and as soon as he ate breakfast, he was out gardening and gathering produce.

Because I caught his summer cold and am feeling even worse in the morning than I always do, I slept as near to 8 a.m. as I could. I excuse my late sleeping because I work late. (I call readingt/writing my work.) I keep trying to change my schedule to match Gerald’s a little more closely--but nature created me to wake up feeling terrible and to really get a second wind after supper when the house quiets, the phone stops ringing, meals are over for the day, etc.

Because of his cold and not feeling well, Gerald wanted to run to Cape Girardeau and do some errands. He wanted me to go along to search for the Big Barn area on the Mississippi River levee area. I had other plans for things I needed to do, but because I felt so bad from the summer cold, I figured that might be a profitable way to spend the day. If not profitable, at least enjoyable to chum with Gerald. We crawled into the pick-up and were off by mid-morning headed to the Mississippi Bottoms.

After we had visited with his brother Garry and nephew Kerry up by Running Lake on the Rendleman farm that Kerry leases, we went back to Route 3 and turned west at Ware towards the farm we leased so many years ago. Before we got there, however, we turned south at the old Roy Brimm place, where I used to pick up the daughter for our G.A. organization at Ware Church. The Brimm house is gone as are so many houses we used to know. I do not know who lives there now in the new house.

Gerald was of the opinion that what he thought was the Howard Davie dairy operation (a large long building still standing there from those old days) was the vicinity where the Big Barn School used to be. But he really was not sure. We realized we needed to find some older people to ask questions about where the school had been. (As we understand it, Big Barn was near Willard’s Landing.) Was there a big big barn there before the Big Barn School was built? The levee has changed the terrain from earlier eras. You certainly could not see the river from there. Too many trees and too many miles yet to the river.

We drove on south on the 1946 (or was it 1948) levee that Gerald remembered being built and making more water holes on the river side as dirt was scooped out to create the large levee replacing earlier inadequate ones. In the sloughs, I once had a glimpse of at least l0 lovely white cranes having a party at one water area.

Eventually we came to a multitude of tractors and equipment making hay from the sides of the levee. Some place in here further west on the river bank had once been the Hamburg Landing. In fact, in the 1960s, Gerald had hauled grain and sold to a local group who put corn on barges there before the group went bankrupt. With the heavy leaves on the trees, we never once saw the Mississippi River. Back on Route 146, we took the Old Cape Road toward the beutiful Cape bridge. That was a new itinerary for me and one Gerald had not driven for a long time.

We went on to Cape and Jackson. For lunch Gerald took us to a barbecue place a friend had recently introduced him to. We did our errands, filled the truck with cheaper Missouri gas, and were back on Route 146 in the Ware bottoms when we saw sprinkles of rain on the windshield. Unfortunately the sprinkles did not last long. Gerald laughed that probably not many people could brag about driving through rain.

Imagine our amazement when we got to our home territory and found it raining so hard, cars were pulling off. We had to go see the crops up at Wayside Farm, of course, and water was filling the ditches and even running over the highway a bit at one point. Probably three or four inches of rain had fallen in a very short time, and a couple of inches here at Woodsong.. The thick bright green corn and soybeans were reaching skyward as happy as we were at this blessing of water fot them to greedily drink from the earth. Coughing as he went up the stairs, Gerald went to bed early and slept well. A few hours later, I followed when I finished the novel I was reading.