Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Break Is Over

Everyone is gone, and Gerald and I find the silence almost deafening. Gerry’s family had to leave Friday morning since their family was involved with a softball camp this weekend. Katherine and David were just out for the day on Thursday—bringing me a start of the beloved lilac bush that Katherine dug one hot afternoon from our old farm home. She was still able to plant and nurture it then eight years ago. David had dug it for me for my birthday. I could not have asked for a better present. The other two families left this afternoon. I hope all are safely home and tucked in bed after their long drives home.

We weren’t sure what time Erin’s flight was from Atlanta to College Station, but I hope it was early enough that she too is soon in bed. Everyone dreaded starting back to the grind in the morning.

It has been a good six days of family visiting at Woodsong. Most days people were coming and going, and I was never sure who was in the house. Eighteen were here Thursday, and after that, seldom less than ten of us were eating. Sweets from Gma Shirley’s Thanksgiving dinner showed up on our dessert counter along with Mary Ellen’s apple pie and chocolate pecan pies. So it did not seem to take much effort to fix a new dish or two for lunch and mix with the leftovers.

Friday we took the kids to the Carbondale mall while two daughters and I looked at kitchen sets. (Five of my six chairs are beyond repair, and the sixth will likely die soon.) Since we were there, we went to Pagliai’s for pizza while Jeannie reminisced about college days there. After a Saturday night movie, it was pizza at Walt’s, which brought memories to Mary Ellen. The kids thought pizza two nights in a row was a great nutrition choice. We oldsters enjoyed it too.

Gerald convinced me that I should go ahead and use the leaking sink by keeping the crock pot beneath to collect the water. That worked, and all I had to do was remember to empty it. We kept the dish washer and the sink busy with dish washing.

I slow baked steak and potatoes in the oven while we were at church this morning. We were all pleased that Leslie and Elijah sang for us in the service. Mary Ellen and Brian had not been able to hear Leslie sing in a long time; and except for his family, none of us had heard Elijah for a year or so. When we arrived back at the farm, I fixed the okra that I had thawed out to prepare for Thursday’s feast. A family favorite, okra is always on our Thanksgiving menu and I had it written down on the planned menu, which I failed to consult on Thursday. Two days later I remembered it in the downstairs fridge in the den. Ah well.

Now at last, the leftovers are mostly gone. The two youngest granddaughters finished their turkey cupcakes this afternoon—a project that got stranded last night when it was time for all to leave for the movies. The kids drove the “mule” for the last time. I assume they may have made any last decisions or conversations about their on-going group book project that they have been working on for a year or so. Jeannie straightened bedrooms and put the sheets from the couches and air mattresses through the laundry. Kids were told to pack up their clothes and stuff. There were emotional hugs as cousins parted company from one another. Granddogs were loaded to leave, and after the final farewells, I took Sam and his friend Tyler home. We enjoyed the neighbors' beautiful Christmas lights as we drove.

Gerald and I watched television together. Two people don’t make much noise.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Twas the Night Before...

This afternoon I wrassled the turkey. With Gerry's help pulling out the still frozen-in plastic ring, it is ready for the oven at 5 a.m. The sweet potatoes are boiled and ready for the casserole. The celery and onion have been sauteed ready for the dressing. I think I have everything necessary out of the freezer.

I just made up three couches and have a couple more to go in case they are needed. Fortunately, the Taylors are willing to use their camper. The kids could go to Katherine and David's or may end up at the camper or at Gma Shirley's, and there are always plenty of air mattresses if someone wants the floor. But I want to have places ready just in case since the adults occupy the bedrooms.

Gerry, Vicki, and Geri Ann arrived from Georgia early this morning sometime after midnight--I was alseep. Yesterday afternoon Erin arrived from A&M and Leslie from Belmont about the same time that Gerald and I returned from our dermatologist appointments in
St. Louis. Gerald took us out to dinner. My birthday was Monday, but I asked to wait and celebrate with my two favorite college students.

Right now two families, whose kids had school today, are on the way here--and should be here by midnight if not before. Brian and Mary with Trent and Brianna are coming from central Illinois, and Jeannie and Rick with Elijah and Cecelie are coming all the way from Freeport. I imagine Elijah is driving.

Gerry's family left to go to Gma Shirley's for a family dinner there before they head out to the Crab Orchard High School gym to see their cousin Drew Johnson play. He made 22 points the last game. Hope he even beats that tonight, while his family is watching!

Gerald and Gerry went hunting this afternoon with Gerry's two dogs that are here at Woodsong right now. That went well and there were four quail dressed in the sink that I quickly put in the freezer. I might have prepared them, but my kitchen has a clitch in it right now. After I had washed and prepared the turkey, I used lots of hot soapy water to clean the double sink to be sure no bacteria was left behind. Then I noticed all the water on the floor and water dripping from the door below the sink. Since I try to be careful not to splash when handling poultry, I was puzzled. Gerald and Gerry helped me explore under there, and it was discovered that for sometime water was leaking from the disposal. A crock pot stored there was full of water from he past. I am glad we found the problem, but it could have happened at a more convenient time. It was all the extra use of water that made us aware.

I'll have to restrict the use of that main sink. Fortunately, on the other side of the kitchen, instead of just a small water-dispensing sink, I had chosen to install a large sink. I was thinking of a place for wash the garden vegetables in the summer, but it will sure come in handy until we get the other sink repaired.

Leslie knew I was wanting to see Up that I've heard so many good things about. So while she was in town getting a hair cut this afternoon, she rented it for me and after supper she and I watched it together. It was as delightful as everyone said.

Well, I am sure I have stuff to do in the kitchen, and I need to hunt up some more sheets and blankets. I wish you all a happy
Thanksgiving. Pray for peace. And drive carefully. As we say in Southern Illinois, watch out for the deer!

Monday, November 23, 2009

School and Swine

My daughter, who teaches art, wrote on Facebook about the six graders suddenly showing up in class with miniature skateboards in their pockets, which of course they could not resist pulling out and playing with. That brought to my mind the annual appearance of water guns each spring among the high school crowd in the old days. And I remember granddaughter Tara and her young friends at Harrisburg all having some kind of mechanical “baby” that they carried with them even on the softball bench that had to be fed and cared for every few hours. These young “mothers” took it all very seriously until the fad faded as rapidly as it started.

I had recently again picked up Volume 1 of The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees off a table in the living room. I’d started it months ago, but life interfered. The bookmark still remained about a fifth of the way through. Enough time had passed that I wanted to start again at the beginning, and I’m now probably a fourth of the way through. Only recently translated and made available to the English reader by the University of Nebraska Press, it is fascinating reading detailing the daily life in the mission at Springplace in the Cherokee Nation. The diaries and other documents were made available and published with the consent of the Moravian Church of the Southern Province.

Dr. Rowena McClinton of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville translated from the archaic German script the diary entries from 1805-13 is this first 648-page volume. Volume II then awaits me with entries from 1814-21. McClinton’s enlightening Introduction presented the historical context that brought the Moravians from Central Europe to the New World and this group to the Cherokee.

The Moravians lived among the Cherokee for over thirty years, and it is interesting to read the experiences and adaptations they made in the first two years (the only ones I read so far). They could only board four students in their school, but the James Vann plantation was nearby, and some children lived there and came to the school.

After reading Jeannie’s lament about what the small skateboards did to students’ learning and classroom decorum, I had to giggle the next day when I read the entry about little Johnston McDonald’s parents visiting the Moravian school. The father was extremely interested in Johnston getting an education, and he forbade his son from bringing his blow gun to school knowing it would distract him. (The blow gun was a long pipe which allowed arrows with thistles instead of feathers and could be used by the boys to kill birds.) I could imagine that Johnston and the other boys made new blow guns when the season beckoned.

The mission seemingly welcomed all Indians and all travelers for meals and sometimes for several days’ visits. I found the hospitality amazing although occasionally the missionaries had to say they could not provide what someone asked for. They wished they had more room for student boarders. Sometimes the visitors slept in the school house with the boys or evidently wherever they could find room for them.

Keeping food available for such a large group was always a challenge, but the missionaries had unflagging faith that God would provide. They might be out of meat for awhile, but eventually a Cherokee would come with a turkey or a venison ham, and the diarist would thank God for the provision. Sometimes the missionaries purchased or traded for the meat, but often it seemed to be a gift.

Because so many people were dropping in and eating breakfast or dinner or supper, I expected more detail about the food preparation. What was being harvested or prepared was mentioned, but nothing was said about how the food was cooked or how the dishes got washed. And there was very little said about the method of instructing the students, who came speaking Cherokee, but I am hoping for more information on that when Anna Gambold becomes the diarist later in the volume. Missionaries were told that adults could not learn the Cherokee language. Much was said about prayers and other devotional activities and who attended the services.

One of the missionaries’ greatest pleasures was the packets of letters and materials received from other missions in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. I am assuming those missions delighted in reading the Springplace diaries, but maybe not since there was no copy machines. Right now I am following the many entries concerning the lost pigs that the Springplace mission desperately needs for food. The pigs are simply allowed to run loose in the woods, but they have disappeared. Has someone stolen and already butchered them? Have they wandered so far that the brethren will never find them? If I can find time to keep reading, maybe I will learn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thinking about Thanksgiving Day

Weather at Woodsong turned fall chilly today along with some rain. I did not leave the house although I originally planned to go with Gerald when he took Katherine for her H1N1 shot, but it was just too tempting to stay snug at home.

Since it was cool enough, I turned on the self-cleaning device in the small oven, which was quite disgraceful from heavy summer use. I emptied the big oven on my stove, which I seldom use except to store big skillets, and used it for today’s project.

Today was pie-baking day, and I put five pumpkin pies in the freezer for the Thanksgiving holidays. That is 30 pieces, which is not very much for people who are here for more than just dinner that day. People are often too full after turkey and dressing and veggies to even eat dessert—but later in the day while everyone is having fun or have wakened from their after-dinner naps, most will return to the dessert counter. With a cup of coffee, some will be visiting again at the kitchen or dining room table, so I want plenty available. I also have a dough-lined pie pan in the fridge to put together another pecan pie to join the one already in the freezer. Fortunately both pumpkin and pecan freeze well.

In the morning, I plan to purchase the biggest frozen turkey I can find and it will go into the freezer until Saturday. That will give five days for it to thaw. If it is completely thawed, the battle will be easier with the metal or plastic thing-a-ma-jig that holds the legs together.

I also want to be sure I have adequate potatoes and sweet potatoes in the house for next Thursday’s mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole. I have already bought cheap bread for the dressing to supplement the left-over odds and ends of bread and cornbread that I have accumulated since the last time I made dressing. It takes a big pan for our gang. I learned the hard way, however, to not make the dressing too deep in the pan or it will not be sufficiently baked by dinner time.

I am trying this week to get done the preparation I usually do Thanksgiving week because two days next week include follow-up doctor appointments. Gerald and I go to St. Louis for a follow up with the dermatologist on Tuesday, and I think two granddaughters are arriving from their respective colleges that same evening. Wednesday I have a follow-up on another fall procedure in Marion, which should not take long. Afterward I will buy fresh salad fixings and some nice rolls to heat up for our dinner on Thursday.

The week after Thanksgiving I can begin to think about Christmas cards and holiday decorations. But right now I am thankful for family and the abundance of love that will be in our home next week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrating Autumn

A warm sunny Saturday afternoon saw folks sitting on the steps and picnic tables at John A. Logan College entrance. Fragrance floated from the Karmel Korn trailer, and relaxed shoppers coming and going to and from the filled parking lot were enjoying the beautiful autumn day. Bales of straw artistically topped with pumpkins, squash, and gourds set the theme for the annual fall festival of arts and crafts inside.

Writers had the opportunity to display and sell their books at the Southern Illinois Writers Guild tables in the cafeteria surrounded by booths of hand made jewelry, fluffy hand knitted hats, and almost every art form imaginable. Our newest SIWG anthology just off the press had arrived for us to sell our craft at the festival.

This eighth volume of The Writer’s Voice, produced by a commercial printer with an International Standard Book Number and to eventually be available for purchase on Amazon is a long way from the early ones we used to assemble with borrowed equipment at a local school. Editor Kathy Cotton reviewed the anthology’s history and wrote, “The product expanded from sixteen writers and fifty-something pages to thirty-eight contributors—including winners of our own national writing contest—and one hundred forty pages.” Cotton, a talented and dedicated volunteer, who is an artist and dancer in addition to being a poet, designed and formatted the book and completed it on schedule despite problems calling for a new hard drive, then a new motherboard, and finally a new laptop.

Along with the top winners in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, this year’s anthology was opened up to include offerings from the public for a special storm section about the May 8 derecho. Those eight extra contributors and photos of the storm will make this year’s book one to remember.

I enjoyed sitting beside Jim Lambert, our president, and showing people his poetry book Winds of Life, which I am very fond of. And it was fun to meet two of his grandkids who came by with his wife Sandy. Jim was busy showing off Fog Gilbert’s books on the other side of him as well as hawking our anthology. I even sold one of my books to a friend of one of my daughters.

Since there was plenty of help at our tables, I felt free to leave early—even though I had gone late. I came back to Woodsong to finish putting together a green bean casserole and some pickle dishes to go with the pecan pie I had made the day as our contribution to the annual Thanksgiving feast at our village church. Some special people had donated their time to make the hams and turkeys along with pans of delicious dressing. Shirley Butler had outdone herself with beautiful decorations making the church basement an autumnal wonderland. Others prepared our “home grown” program afterward, and we laughed and cried together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lost Dog, Good Neighbors, and Veterans Day

Monday started with Gerald waking me with the good news that he had found Gerry’s bird dog. Wanting to get acquainted with the dogs, he had taken them “hunting” on Sunday afternoon (without a gun), and he was dismayed when one ran away from him and he could not locate it. A road away from Woodsong in a far neighborhood, Gerald found the dog upsetting two sweet women who were fretting about the lost dog going back and forth between their houses. They were taking care of the dog even though they were needed to get ready to go to work.

They had inquired and tried to find the owner, one had called the no-longer-in-use lodge phone number on the collar, and both had fed the dog. One was so worried the dog was hungry. Until it ran away, it had free access to its feed, so Gerald knew it was not yet suffering too much even if the dog had not found such caring neighbors. Gerald was glad to meet such nice neighbors for the first time, and he was greatly relieved to find the dog. I think Gerry was even more so because he was worrying about his father searching for them.

Later in the day we had a phone call from our fourth-grade neighbor Katie telling us the time for the Veterans Day program at Crab Orchard School. She invites Gerald for the program and lunch each year, and he was again planning to go with her. Unfortunately, a Tuesday morning call reported that Katie had a high fever and would have to miss school.

That cancellation allowed Gerald to finish the repair of a tin roof on a machine shed up at Wayside Farm on the road to Pittsburg. He had acquired the tin and started the job on Monday, and he was eager to finish up one more derecho-caused problem. He came home at noon yesterday saying he was now done with replacing the tin. However, while on top of the roof, he discovered how rusty all the nails were and was amazed more tin had not blown off. So he announced that maybe ten or so two-hour sessions between now and spring would complete the project and allow him to repaint the tin. He put in his two-hours this morning.

I am old enough to remember when Veterans Day was still Armistice Day, and my daddy would cross the street to the Jonesboro Grade School to ring the bell at 11 o’clock. I remember his telling our school assembly once how people in Goreville beat tubs and celebrated with great vigor when World War I ended. He wanted us to sing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” with a little more enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, and we did after his story. While the many programs across our nation were planned before the dastardly deed at Fort Hood, I am sure we were more thoughtful and more tearful with this tragic event so fresh in our minds. We look forward to the day when we can sing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” and ring a few bells. But too many will not be coming home.

Daughter Jeannie posted on her Facebook the Journal Standard’s video of the Freeport School District program yesterday in appreciation for veterans. Here is the link:

If you watch it, the first soloist is our grandson Elijah singing. Then the next three nights, their high school will be performing their fall musical. I wish we were able to go, but it is just not working out for us.

Monday, November 09, 2009


November 9, 1989

Open up. Open up.
The people spoke it.
Open up. Open up.
The people demanded it.
Something there is…
Make it fall. Make it fall.

Create. Create.
God spoke it.
Light. Sky.
Land. Plants.
Sun and stars.
Birds and animals.
God spoke it all.
Let people rule, He said.
It is good, He said.
Swords rule. Word rules.

Tear down this wall.
Let it fall. Let it fall.
Celebrate. Celebrate.
The people spoke it.
The people demanded it.
The people ruled.
And it is very good.

Speak up. Speak up.
Word creates. Word rules.

By Sue Glasco on 11-9-2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Rainy weather has been replaced this week with sunny days giving just the right amount of warmth to the breezy air. Everyone has felt their spirit lift although the great fall color has greatly diminished.

Yesterday I was scheduled to speak at Nine Mile Baptist Church’s women’s retreat at Lake Sallateeska, and I enjoyed the drive up to north of Pinckneyville and the beautiful lodge after I got there. Their retreat theme was “Seasons” built around the scripture that for everything there is a season.

Since these women live near Mulkeytown (one grew up there), I was asked to speak on the life of Priscilla, the slave girl freed to live in the Silkwood home. I tried to show the various seasons of her life and how despite the very difficult times and many deprivations caused by prejudicial nineteenth century laws, she was able to live a useful life that blessed others. And there seem to be many indications that she lived a happy life at Silkwood Inn. With little education, no career, and no children of her own, she is probably the most famous of anyone who ever lived in Mulkeytown. (Abe Lincoln’s son Robert and some elephants came to town to build the railroad through there, but he didn’t actually live there.)

Musing over the day’s theme scripture, I did some heavy reflection on that as I drove home and realized I need to face and plan for the new season of life that I am now in. I don’t like change, so I don’t reorganize life easily. Nor do I like to discard traditions, friends, acquaintances, or possessions. Especially I do not like to discard paper or books. Yet maybe the time has come to simplify my life and my office. Simplification may mean cleaning out some things. We’ll see.

I am not an inveterate hoarder. I know I can honestly say that because I have hauled trunk load after trunk load of clothes, household stuff, and other things to give away when I could no longer use them. Gerald has cooperated by hauling truck loads of furniture or mattresses to the household give-away in our nearest town. I also have hauled countless trunk loads of refuse to recycling centers. So I know I won’t be written up in the newspapers when I die for having a house with mounds of old newspapers and magazines with only narrow lanes to walk through. It also helps that as long as I can stay out of second hand book stores and away from beautiful dishes at Salvation Army, I am not much of a consumer.

Nevertheless, I seldom see a newspaper that I don’t want to clip and save information—just in case I write an article or know someone who needs that information someday. I struggle to pass on magazines even though I know I will never have time to finish reading them. I think part of my affection for the written word was passed on to me by my mother. As a motherless child on the farm with her daddy at work in town, she looked forward to a daily newspaper or any periodical or letter that came to their mailbox. Unlike today, the printed word was a scarce and precious possession in that time. We are inundated with newspapers, long begging letters from countless organizations, and inexpensive magazines. Mother never got over being in love with publications, and a favorite phrase of hers was, “I read an article that said…” If it was in print, she was inclined to trust the words even though she was not a gullible person.

I still giggle when I remember the first time Gerald, as my fiancĂ©, went with our family to our beloved Mount Airy Farm, my dad’s childhood home. He was eagerly reading from a Popular Mechanic from a large stack on the wicker table in the living room. Suddenly he noticed it was twenty years old. I don’t think our family ever subscribed to that magazine, but a friend had passed them on, and rather than throw them out, Mother took then to the farm. I understand.

Magazines stack up at my house. File cabinets are full. I made family scrapbooks for years, but that hobby disintegrated into filling boxes of family ephemera with the idea that maybe in my frail elderly years, I will have time to make scrapbooks again. Both our old farm house and our new one have had the delightful characteristic of having nooks and crannies, and that has encouraged me to make use of them with various saved items. Our grandkids know if they need some item for a project (clay, toilet paper roll, cardboard box, construction paper, gold foil from a Christmas card, you name it), I will probably be able to find it somewhere.

However, so our children won’t have to go through some stored boxes looking for lost stocks or savings bonds (don’t have any), I have boxes of former teaching files or other projects marked: “Throw out when I die.” But maybe it is time I start throwing out some of the stuff myself. Maybe this should be a winnowing season for me.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Week at Woodsong

Where did the week go? I started with laundry from the weekend on Monday. The first week in the month also holds both our regular board meeting of the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association and also the local women’s club.

The board meeting was supposed to be a very important planning session when we were joined by the national president and the national executive secretary, both from states away to plan our national convention, which is going to be in Illinois this year in September. We planned to meet at Camp Ground Church as soon as they arrived from area airports, so that they then could drive on over to Metropolis to spend the night and to sign contracts and secure space for the convention there. Knowing our visitors would have no time to eat before the meeting, we planned a light supper. At the last moment, one became ill and her doctor did not want her to travel, so there was no reason for the other national representative to come from his state either. We thought our Illinois board would therefore have a short meeting since the main purpose of the meeting was aborted.

Not so. As we relaxed and ate together, we realized that there was much local planning we also needed to do and this was the perfect time to accomplish it since we’d be involved with convention planning at a rescheduled time. We brain stormed and came up with some good ideas for work to be done in 2010.

The most exciting event of the evening, however, was sharing in the birth of Joe Crabb’s great granddaughter down in Texas. His grandson and wife were there to attend to the birth of a baby girl that the biological mother was heroically allowing them to add to their family. Joe warned us if the phone rang, he’d leave the room so he could learn of this expectant birth. We would not have that. We did not want to be denied our participation in this important occasion.

Sure enough, his phone beeped and a text message told him Savannah had been born. I wish you could have seen the smile on Joe’s face. There were goose bumps and tears and happiness filling the room. Then the baby’s grandmother phoned to make sure Joe had received the text announcement. And, best of all, next we were all privileged to see this sweet baby girl’s photo on Joe’s phone—all wrapped cozy in a blanket with her little face staring at us with no idea she had caused such pleasure up in Illinois. I predict great things for this cherished child.

Not nearly so dramatic nor so important, the second most exciting event of the evening was Joe’s bringing in the beautiful new brochures his daughter helped him create—brochures showing the map of Pope County with clear directions as to how anyone can hike, bike, or drive over a nine-mile certified original segment of the Trail of Tears.

The National Park Service has sent the signs to make the way clear for visitors, and some are already in place. After running out of posts, a new supply has been found, and the rest of the signage on the trail segment should be completed soon. You don’t have to wait though. If you stop by the Chocolate Factory (always a good idea) on the designated TOT highway, Route 146, you can pick up a brochure and follow the clear directions for an interesting day trip through beautiful countryside, where the Cherokee sadly marched 171 years ago.

Today was the afternoon meeting of the Women’s Club, and we were able to hear Cindy Gibbons, president of Old National Bank, tell us some of the important things happening in Marion right now. Since I missed last month, it was fun to see everyone again and hear all the plans for the season ahead.

With meetings, meals to make and dishes to wash, phone calls, research, and reading, the week has flown by. Gerald continues in his project of helping clean up Brian and Mary Ellen’s new acreage, and then there have been a couple of Gerry’s dogs here at Woodsong to care for this week. Baseball games for Gerald to watch in the evenings. What should have been a week we could pronounce a good week ended with the great national sorrow and our hearts filled with grief for the families who lost loved ones.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Visiting Waggoner and Mascoutah

Several weeks back, I alerted our youngest daughter, Mary Ellen, and husband, Brian, that we might be up for the weekend since I was to speak at the Mascoutah Heritage Museum this afternoon, and Mascoutah would be on our way back home to Woodsong. As both our lives and theirs became busier, Mary Ellen and I were both assuring each other it was okay if we did not carry out those plans.

Nevertheless, we went to Waggoner this weekend, and I am glad we did. Waggoner is definitely my size town—200 to 250 or thereabouts population—surrounded by farm country. The only place to get a coke is at the machine at the tiny post office. There are several vacant buildings, a former school building with a terrific set of modern playground equipment (donated by a famous visitor several years ago—a story I need to find out more about), many well cared for homes, and a few of the other kind.

My daughter’s family has just moved there and live five miles out in the country, so I did not get to explore the town as much as I hope to in the future. I am sure you will be hearing more about Waggoner from me in the years to come.

We were able to meet some of the girls in the freshmen class of the area high school on Friday night. They gathered in the kitchen for pizza and then a trip to a “haunted funeral home” several towns away. I enjoyed all the giggling from afar as we ate our pizza in the living room, but I declined the invitation for the haunted site—especially after we heard there might be a four-hour wait line. Actually I think it was only two hours by that night, but I was glad to be comfy-cozy relaxing and watching a movie on TV at the Taylors.

On Saturday, we slept late, relaxed more, and went to lunch at a fabulous Chinese restaurant in a nearby town after we visited a rural tree nursery. (Brian always ends up with a great landscaped yard with neat trees wherever they move although right now he is planning a test plot in their huge back lot. Mary Ellen is regretting seeing the pretty green lawn plowed up for planting.) After lunch, we visited a couple stores and bought candy in case any goblins showed up at their rural home, and then we went home for more relaxing. We were so stuffed from the wonderful Chinese buffet that we could not believe it when Brian put a large-size pork loin on the rotisserie on the patio. Not surprisingly, we were hungry again after he brought it in smelling and looking delicious. Then we settled to watch the baseball game, and Trent entertained in his lancer costume including the wooden sword and authentic looking wooden shield he designed and he built with some help from his dad.

This season at the Taylors always includes a spooky visitor called “Dead Donna,” something or someone they bought a few years ago for a slumber party. She is a two-foot doll or manikin with death pallor, long dark stringy hair, horrible eyes, skinny feet with painted toenails coming out beneath her white gown, and over-size scary hands. She can light up and make some frightening noises if you turn her on. Mary Ellen had not been able to find her on the top shelf in the basement where she had been stored after their move, but someone found her and brought her to share the evening with us. Donna managed to move around the house to startle us, and I was disappointed when I did not happen to be in the room when Brian woke up from his nap with Dead Donna a few inches from his face.

With the change to standard time this morning, Gerald and I woke before the family. On my way through the kitchen to the downstairs bathroom, I noted the nice table laid out with dishes handy for the waiting cereal choices on the counter. I came out of the bathroom back into the kitchen and jumped when standing at the end of that table offering us a bowl of apples was none other than Donna. I laughed next, but I could not bring myself to eat one of her poison apples. When Trent walked through and opened a Reese’s cup for his breakfast before he went back to bed, I assured him that the orange treat surely had plenty of Vitamin C.

After more coffee and visiting, we worshipped with 50 or 60 others at Waggoner Christian Church in a charming white clapboard building. An enormous tree (sycamore?) was the only tree in the large church yard. Mary Ellen said they measured it recently and it was the fourth tallest of its kind in the state. I thrilled at its beauty and prayed the town does not have a derecho. We heard a wonderful sermon by Pastor Mary and deeply regretted that she is soon retiring. I would have liked my grandchildren, Trent and Brianna, to hear more than a few months of her wisdom and knowledge. The Taylors stayed for the pastor appreciation meal at 11, and we drove on down state
Route 4 first built in 1920 and later designated as U.S. Federal Aid Highway 66. Within a few years, Highway 66 was moved east, but much ado is made yet about the original Route 66, which we also traveled on last spring in Oklahoma when we missed a connection to the Interstate.

We got to Mascoutah in plenty of time to be set up before the 1 p.m. opening of the museum. The volunteer had told me she’d be there at 12:30 in case anyone wanted to come in early and tour the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “Journeys.” Their museum was one of six in the state chosen to display the well-done interactive kiosks. Their high ceilings and spacious rooms qualified them to have their second Smithsonian exhibit.

Our first visitors were two little cousins—one a fourth grader and one a fifth grader. The volunteer assured them they did not have to pay to see the exhibit—but they saw the money box, where people donate, and they hurried home to get coins so they could also be contributors to the museum. It was fun to show them around the large two-story building filled with local antiques and artifacts in addition to the Smithsonian exhibit on the first floor.

By the time our program was to start at 1:30, the second-floor auditorium was filled. (They have a fund underway to put in a passenger elevator since now the only one is a freight elevator.) I was able to tell about the forced journey the Cherokee had to make in 1838-39 leaving behind their fine warm cabins and the graves of their loved ones to walk a l,000 miles to a strange territory to start building anew. At the end of the hour, after questions and answers, people huddled over the exhibit tables of books and articles about the Trail through our state, where more died than in any other area of their horrific journey.

It had been a day without a hitch—almost—when the Taylors had returned home from the church potluck and saw my suitcase still sitting by the backdoor. If it had only clothes in it, I’d told Brian to bring it the next time he comes to the farm. Since it had my meds and the arm splint I have to sleep in right now, we had to accept their offer to bring it down. We intended to meet them part way, but they kept driving and were also able to see the “Journeys” exhibit. Brianna got some hours of driving practice to help her meet the Illinois quota she’ll have to have before she gets that coveted driver’s license.

So we got to hug and say goodbye again before we started down Route 64 and then Interstate 57 to arrive at Marion in time for supper at Taco Bell before coming back to Woodsong. Gerald watched the game tonight, and we had phone reports of Tara’s Southern Force softball tourney in Georgia, where Erin had also arrived for the weekend to help coach, and Geri Ann played. Then Erin went back to Texas while Tara and little Maddux went back to northern Illinois until next weekend at Chattanooga. Gerry and Vickie get to keep Aidan this week, so there will be a fun time in Watkinsville with Aidan to entertain them.