Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mid-Winter Mish Mash

One day the weather is Southern Illinois allows us to go coatless; and the next day when we try it, the wind makes us sorry. Today was pretty again although a jacket was in order.

Son-in-law Bryan and Brianna were down from Lake Saint Louis yesterday. Somehow Brianna and Sam ended up at the Illinois Centre Mall, where I spent the day with Southern Illinois Writers Guild members at our fourth annual Winter Book Fair. The mall sets up tables for us in the center section by the fountains, and we sell and sign books and SIWG anthologies while talking to mall strollers. It is always fun to table hop and visit with the other writers as well as talk with past and potential customers. With the economy like it is, no one expects to sell many books.

Brianna had been to the nearby movie theater with the older sister of Sam’s friend Josh. Not only do cousins from afar keep in touch by texting, but they meet and become friends with each other’s friends. Thus, Brianna came from Missouri and ended up at the movies in Illinois with Josh’s sister. Then Sam, who had been under the weather earlier in the day, was feeling better, so son-in-law David brought him out to meet Brianna to explore the mall until we wrapped up the Book Fair at 4 and they could ride out to Woodsong with me.

I needed to buy bananas to give us potassium, and we were out of grapes and getting low on oranges, so we ran by Kroger’s as I had planned and bought sandwiches from the deli there and gas for my near-empty car with our 15 cent discount on the Kroger credit card. Then Brianna, Sam, and I headed out to Woodsong, where Gerald and Brian were finishing up their afternoon projects.

We soon were eating the sandwiches and chips with ice cream and the cookies the kids chose for dessert. (I meant to send the rest of the chocolate milk and those cookies home with one grandchild or the other, so Gerald and I would not be tempted. However, in the concentration to get to Sunday School this morning, I forgot the cookies and milk, so maybe I can take them into Sam’s tomorrow or the next day.)

After helping teach our preschoolers during Sunday School, I stayed on for the extended session during worship. One of our high schoolers came in to help me. It pleases me when teens like Cody come in, because I can remember well many years ago when our son Gerry and his friend Tom were among the boys who helped with the babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Always under the direction of an adult, of course. What real training those sessions were for parenthood.

Worship must have been through hymns today and a little shorter than usual as our interim pastor became ill and had to go home before the service started. Cody said maybe it was a good thing he was not in the choir that long as he was tired. He had not slept well last night, so he got up and texted his friend over in Britain, where the sun was shining. Nevertheless, tired or not, he interacted with the children who keep us hopping.

Preschoolers crave watchful attention, and we give it. One-year-old Caleb delights himself when with intense concentration he learns to manipulate various toys or blocks. Then my heart melts when he looks up to make sure I am watching to admire his achievement. To know my watching means that much to him is as great a reward as our mutual handclapping when he gets the blocks stacked right or places the coin in the slot on the little toy farm barn that he gravitates to every Sunday.

After church, we headed down to the Old Home Place at Goreville to introduce the Taylors and Sam to Patrick and Tina’s new restaurant. Our meal was delicious but plentiful, so three take-home boxes were asked for. Sam left with Brian and Brianna for them to drop him off in Marion on their way back to Missouri.

Gerald wanted to check out an uncommon way back to the farm, so we wandered through country roads like Webb Town road, where we passed the Glen Webb Family Farm established in 1856, and on to roads with names like Wagon Creek Road and Creal Springs Road and finally back to Route 166 where we would turn off onto New Dennison Road and be home to check the softball scores.

The Georgia Dogs had had another good weekend with four shut-out victories in the Black and Red Showcase there at Athens. However, after winning a 14-inning game Wednesday at Huntsville, Texas, against Sam Houston and winning against them again on Friday in the opener at the Easton Tiger Classic at Baton Rouge, Texas A&M had a bad hair day yesterday losing to Ohio State and LSU. Then in bracket play today, they were ahead of LSU until the bottom of the sixth, when LSU rallied with three runs. A&M lost 3 to 4, so I know Vickie and Geri Ann left Louisiana with heavy hearts just as Erin did traveling back to College Station. But Coach Jo Evans was upbeat about all the things the girls did right.

With no church services tonight to allow our pastor to recuperate, we watched some TV, and I am reflecting early on the past week to write this blog. There was the trip up to Rend Lake College to the little restored school house on campus, where Lori Ragsdale had a reception to announce all the life-long learning opportunities coming up. I gave my pitch for our tour through Southern Illinois to revisit the Trail Where the Cherokee Cried. Since it was Lincoln’s birthday, Lori had arranged for Abe and Mary Lincoln performers to give a brief program too. Of course, I was also thinking about granddaughter Geri Ann's 15th birthday.

As always when I am passing by and have time, I pulled off at the Sesser exit at Whittington and visited the Southern Illinois Arts and Artisans Center. It truly is a visual buffet, and although I can’t afford the expensive art objects there, I like looking. I was able to pick up some books and items from the bargain table.

I stayed in Marion to attend Sam’s winter band concert, and before I headed home, I stopped off at Latta Java and was able to hear the last couple SIWG readers there.

Gerald had gone on an Angel Flight with his friend Herman Hood to Arkansas to pick up a patient in route to hospital treatments. I wasn’t sure if he would be at home when I returned or not. He had been playing with going down to Louisville, KY, to the annual farm show after the Angel Flight, but he was back at home asleep in his armchair watching television (ha) when I returned to Woodsong.

The next morning at 3:30 I woke up to see a wide-awake husband with his cap already on and a dance in his step as he scooped his change from the dresser and anticipated his adventure heading to Louisville. I wasn’t surprised, because I knew he really wanted to see all the new stuff that would be on display down there in the acres and acres under roof. I was surprised when he called before 6 that night and instead of staying all night in Louisville as he and his brothers’ custom was for years, he was already back in Illinois and heading home wanting to know if he should pick up supper in Harrisburg or would I like to celebrate with a Valentine’s dinner in Marion. I figured he must be tired, so I let him choose and soon we were eating a lovely dinner at my favorite restaurant in town.

It has been a good week with one afternoon spent studying Gary Hacker’s new book on the Trail of Tears through Johnson County and now several new books from Southern Illinois writers waiting for me to find time to read or at least skim through them. While I sat at the mall yesterday, I was able to read Joanne Blakely’s just published beautiful poetry chapbook. I certainly recommend it and Gary’s book.

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