Thursday, December 25, 2008

And to all a good night

It has been a good Christmas, and we are especially grateful because of all the harrowing traveling our family has gone through. First, getting Erin up through icy
Arkansas last week.

Then this week Gerry and Vickie, Erin, and Geri Ann left Georgia to take Aidan back home to his new baby brother and to his parents who were missing him greatly. Oh, they also had their dog Chloe and Erin's housemate's dog Acie. They did fine until they hit bad weather and ice in central Illinois. Lots of cars in the ditches--and there they were with such prescious cargo. They debated pulling off at Champaign, but phone calls ahead told them the roads on to northern Illinois were okay that night. They kept going and Aidan was home at 2:30 a.m. Gerald was following this trip by phone, and I suffered with them as did Gerald. Today, however, when they drove back down to Southern Illinois, the roads were perfect. And the Taylors had good roads down from the St. Louis area. The Cedars, of course, had no trouble getting out from Marion.

No one has had much sleep lately and Gerry and Vickie are already in bed readying themselves for the trip back to Georgia. Erin and Geri Ann have gone to play basketball in their uncle's barn.

We had 13 for dinner, and all but two of those are bedding here tonight, so our bedrooms are full and couches are made up for the young people. We fixed a nice soft bed of rugs and an old bedspread for Fifi, Acie, and Chloe in the garage.

I'm tired. So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Closer and Getting Done—I Hope!

Monday Gerald and I went to Carbondale as he had a hearing aide check up, and we thought we could visit some stores to shop. That much we accomplished. We planned next to go on down to Cobden after lunch and go by an orchard for apples and by Bill and Mickey Tweedy’s house for a quick drop-in visit. When it started snowing rather heavily, we decided we better get back to Marion. We did stopping for lunch on the way back to the farm. By then it had quit snowing so hard, and we took time to go by the Dollar Store for Christmas cards and a few other items. I found Aidan a battery-run play chain saw that makes a wonderful noise that I think he will love and his mother will hate me for. We stopped and picked up the Christmas letters from the fast print shop, where we had left them on our way over to Carbondale.

Back home I started working again on clearing up all the insurance papers, Medicare papers, and doctor/hospital bills on the dining room table. Ever since computers were invented, I have been unable to understand what I see on such bills. I hate messing with them. They come so many months after the event/appointment that I get very confused.

I miss the days when we had no insurance. I used to stop as I left the doctor’s office and write a check for $5 a visit if I remember correctly. (Gerald’s ag economics professor said health insurance wouldn’t pay off for a young farm family—and he was correct. The only year we had children in the hospital—two children, one of whom was in two different hospitals—we did have insurance. Gerald had bought group insurance, which a fellow farmer—older and much admired—had started more to help other people than himself. Gerald wanted to support his efforts. The next year we dropped the insurance. (Gerald said we would have been fine without the insurance—using the premium to pay the bills—but it was comforting to know we were covered.)

But we are no longer a young farm family, and times have changed. So we did get insurance many years ago. Yet it would be so nice to walk out of a doctor’s office and know the only paper we’d ever see would be the picture of the cancelled check when we received our bank statement. I have to wonder how much all that paper work costs per visit.

But I digress. I was determined to get those bills off the dining room table and a Christmas tablecloth put on before I started addressing Christmas cards on a table downstairs in the den. And I did it. Never mind that today I got one doctor’s bill back because somehow I had failed to put a stamp on it. I phoned the orchard to see about sending apples to my sister in Texas as I did last Christmas—but they explained it was too cold to ship apples now. Oh. I did not think of that.

Tuesday was made exciting with the belated arrival of Erin, our Texas A&M granddaughter. She started through Arkansas on Monday, where the roads were so bad that her grandfather and father advised her to get a motel that night. The next morning she started out only to soon have a two-hour delay while cars were cleared that had gone into the side of a bridge there.

Fortunately she had a book along to read. She also had a tiny black dog with huge ears named Acie to keep her company. No, it isn’t hers, but one she is keeping through the holidays for a housemate. Throughout the trip, she talked to her grandfather as she progressed to Illinois. Finally we were eating hamburgers together at the end of the day and getting acquainted with Acie, who somehow the next day ended up at Erin’s other grandmother’s house down the road apiece, and evidently they have quite a friendship going.

Erin has been busy and keeping us young as she comes and goes from Woodsong. She is connecting with friends here at home, helping her Gma Shirley (the dog sitter) get her Christmas shopping done, and visiting her high school teachers, We like having her around and teasing her about her “good jeans”—the ones with holes all up and down the legs—the expensive ones.

Yesterday I finished my first batch of cards, and today they were mailed. Who knows when the next batches will go out. I have sent cards (stragglers) in July. I like to keep in touch with old friends, and I know they have more time to read letters after the holidays.

I managed to finish my Christmas shopping Tuesday afternoon including a substitute gift for the apples I could not send my sister and husband. Gerald mailed that and her birthday present yesterday while he was in town. Gerald bought the men’s gifts today.

When he took over buying for the guys in the family a couple of years ago, he relieved me of my annual conundrum—what to buy for the men. This year he outdid himself and even wrapped them this afternoon while I was at Katherine’s house helping her when an aide could not come. We had fun going through her gift drawer deciding what she had stored away for various folk. I offered to wrap and was told she wanted that fun. (She had no idea how relieved I was.)

Sam came in with his trombone all excited about his school day. Instead of his regular classes, he had played with jazz band for the Rotary Club and a nursing home with lunch at McDonald’s in between. Two earlier performances this week were cancelled because of weather/illness problems, so he was quite pleased these were not.

Tomorrow we go to Lake Saint Louis for skin checks from a dermatologist there that our daughter Mary Ellen recommended, and we will visit with her family. Erin and Acie are heading to her family in Georgia, where she will also see her nephew Aidan, who flew home with his Gma Vickie on Tuesday. Gerry has been having fun watching cartoons with him, and of course Geri Ann loves having him around. He loves being around “G” and will be excited to see his “E” when she drives in.

After the weekend they will head to Aidan’s house. Tara says Maddux is missing his big brother Aidan. Gma Vickie will get to rock Maddux again while Gpa Gerry and Tara’s sisters meet him for the first time. Erin is taking our presents for that northern Illinois family by way of Georgia. Because tomorrow she is driving an older car of Gerry’s left in a shop here for repair, Erin’s is leaving her vehicle for their return stop from northern Illinois. So the rest of our presents for her family stay here. Come to think of it, it is not just the doctors’ bills that are complicated in this 21st century.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Welcome Maddux Mark Archibald

I haven’t really changed my blogging date to Thursday. We have just been focused on all the excitement of our second great grandchild born Tuesday afternoon, December 9, at Aurora to our oldest grandchild, Tara Archibald and her husband Bryan.

We’ve been busy checking out email photos of Maddux and his big brother Aidan, who will be three in May. I saw more adorable photos tonight posted by Bryan on Facebook. Gerald has taken copies over to his other great grandmother, Gma Shirley. We found out Shirley had her first great granddaughter a week or so ago. We knew Tara’s cousin Jeremy and his wife were expecting at the same time as Tara, but we didn’t know their little girl had arrived. I am sure Shirley has already shown the photos of Maddux and Aidan to great great grandmother Imogene, who lives beside Shirley.

In all this excitement and the busyness of the season, I somehow lost a day. I was actually hurrying earlier this afternoon so I could go to the Wednesday night monthly business meeting at our village church. Obviously, I am a little late.

This morning I took our decades-old Christmas tree and its huge string of lights to the Household Give-Away that the Ministerial Alliance operates. It is only open on Thursday mornings, so I should have known tonight was not Wednesday. But it is easy to get mixed up during this season. I had rushed there because I overslept, but I did get there. They welcomed our tree since they had just given away their last one. Afterwards Gerald and I met at Menards, where he was Christmas shopping and I had seen an ad for pre-lit trees. After our shopping, we had lunch together at Fazoil’s and were pleased to run into Joe and Janet Walker, who live in Marion, but are from our home community, and we had a nice visit.

I’d decided as a concession to my age that I would buy a pre-lit tree this year for the family room. I may have made a mistake. For one thing, it is heavier than the old tree; and if Gerald had not put it together and figured out how to hook the lights together, I am not sure I could have. The multi-colored lights are so very pretty that I almost hate to add all the boxes of ornaments I use on this tree that I consider the family tree where gifts will accumulate. Maybe I will get those ornaments on tomorrow. Gerald got down the lights that the wind had blown up on the house and added some more before it turns cold again.

The upstairs tree is shining out the living room window. It is almost finished. I still have a few more ornaments to put on as I needed some more of the little hooks, which were downstairs. I’ll take them up in a minute and put the last ornaments on before I ready the coffee for Gerald’s breakfast.

I haven’t decided whether or not to add the beautiful silver icicles that Katherine and Mary Ellen and I had so much fun buying years ago at a sale in Nashville, Tennessee. I used them last year, but I may skip putting them on this year. I would just add a few from the silver box every time I passed the tree, and eventually the tree was covered with the old-fashioned icicles.

This tree also needs to be replaced. It has shed from the moment I brought it home over a decade ago, and now some of the limbs have fallen off. A big reason I went to an artificial tree was I was wanting to avoid fallen needles. I want to have those needles vacuumed up before I place the old wine shower curtain beneath it as a tree skirt to match the wine in the couches there.

I received a special Christmas call this afternoon from my cousin Doug in California, and I caught up news on him and Vera and their three boys. Josh is still in the military and he and his wife presented Doug and Vera with a first grandson Josiah Ray. David is teaching math and Chris is teaching piano. David has already started on his doctorate.

We are getting Christmas cards daily in the mail, and I am thinking about ours. I bought some Christmas stamps but still need to buy cards and make copies of the annual Christmas letter. Usually I buy the cheapest cards I can find now that daughter Jeannie no longer makes cards. Hers were works of art that I was proud of sending and some folks framed. I figured these I send now get thrown away and that is okay. The point is to stay in touch and honor the friendships of the past.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Where Is It? Let's See Now

Mary Ellen called from up the road apiece on Friday that they had discovered the controller for the TV in the den was accidentally in their basket of games picked up just before they left our place to head to their other family’s home. Should they return it? Naw, just wait until Christmas when you come down. They can also then retrieve Trent's black left-foot shoe (a thong it is too cold to wear often now). Later Mary Ellen reports that Elijah’s coat was left in their camper. Brianna’s coat, however, was left at Geri Ann’s Grandma Shirley’s house.

Leslie and Gerald assured me that Erin’s winter A&M jacket was left behind at Woodsong deliberately because she won’t need it down there until she is back for Christmas break. So it is in the coat closet waiting for her. Geri Ann’s charger for her I pod is ready to be taken to the post office. Trent’s Nintendo is on the table in the den. Jeannie left behind ingredients she brought down for a cooking project she started but didn’t get to finish. Someone’s electric toothbrush is still in the guest bathroom. I recovered my purple comb from Katherine’s vanity yesterday, where evidently someone must have been primping with it there.

Katherine got tickled thinking that all over America, families are trying to find and retrieve and figure out where their possessions are after all the Thanksgiving holidays. Most families in our area try to visit both sides of their families, and it is a challenge to keep belongings under control.

I used to marvel many years ago at the goodness and the energy used when my daughter-in-law would bring her little ones to my parents’ home in Goreville and then hurry on to another Christmas Eve gathering at her grandparents. The next day after she and Gerry observed Christmas morning at their house, they would come to ours for Christmas dinner and then onto her folks’ home for yet another dinner.

After the grandparents no longer had their observances on Christmas Eve, life did temporarily get simpler. However, now Gerry and Vickie are in far-off Georgia. Tara, their oldest, is in Aurora far north of us. We are all eagerly awaiting the birth of Tara and Bryan’s second son any day now, so holiday celebrations are definitely complicated. We will welcome whoever is able to show up before, on, or after Christmas.

Jeannie and Rick are entertaining his family at their house for the first time this year, so they won’t be down from Freeport either. She’ll experience left-behind objects at her house no doubt.

We received our first Christmas card on Saturday from cousin Valerie, who wins that contest every year. Our second card came today. I better start thinking about mine. When we can’t get together with friends and family at this time of year, it is lovely to connect by mail. And belongings stay in their rightful place when we visit by that method.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Button for Technorati

I am trying to learn about Technorati. This is a button that I am able to post:

Add to Technorati Favorites

Claiming blog for Technorati

I am supposed to post this to claim my blog for Technorati:
Technorati Profile

I hope this works. I am trying again in hopes it will publish this time.