Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blossoms for the Celebration

Pink blossoming tulip trees and bright yellow forsythia join the earliest spring flowers to make yards in town ready for the weekend celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The full moon lights the sky, and the last two days have been delightfully warm with Spring’s promise. Soon we’ll have my favorite red buds decorating the countryside, and as the red buds’ blossoms fade, the dog wood trees will take over with white blossoms.

Leslie just arrived from Belmont, and the washer and dryer in my office/laundry room is already in motion. I like it that our college grandkids can do their laundry here and, thus, arrive sooner—just as our kids did more than a couple of decades ago when they’d come over from a Carbondale dorm for supper and save quarters at the same time.

When we moved here over eight years ago, the couple who bought our other house at the hog farm did not want our old washer and drier, so we moved them and stuck them in the garage. The new washer and dryer wasn’t hooked up for several months. By that time, I was in the habit of doing our laundry in the garage. It was right by the kitchen and much handier than this downstairs laundry. The builder insisted I put a laundry shoot from an upstairs bathroom down to this room, but I keep in covered for fear a little one might find it and explore where that hole goes. I do use this laundry room for all the downstairs linens and towels, and it is very convenient for this occasional use. I pulled the last sheets out of the dryer after Les arrived.

This winter we finally replaced the garage washer and dryer because they were in poor shape, and we figured the energy saving would be worth it instead of letting them completely break down. The last repair on them didn’t help them at all in my opinion, and it was a task for Gerald and our neighbor Scott to load them in his truck and take them to Harrisburg. I never thought about needing two sets of appliances, but it has turned out to be a very good thing. Twice we have had families living with us briefly during remodeling/schooling, and our frequent weekend guests like knowing there is a washer-dryer awaiting them at our house.

Tomorrow Gerald’s sister Ernestine is arriving in St. Louis escaping the snow in Rock Springs, Wyoming, for our warm spring weather. She is here for her high school reunion; and best of all, her daughter Leah is with her bringing her baby girl Emmy that we are all eager to meet. We had lunch with our niece Vicki yesterday so Gerald could put a car seat in Vicki’s car for Emmy.

Vicki is picking them up at the St. Louis air port and has a room all ready for them at her parents’ farm home down in the Mississippi bottoms, where Ernestine attended Shawnee High School. The Saturday night reunion will be at Fox’s Hollow, a favorite community gathering place for fish on the weekend owned and operated by a farmer nicknamed Foxy. I think they will be here Friday night and for Easter, but I am not really sure how this will all work out until the reunion is over.

At one time, we had three Vickie/Vicki Glascos in our extended family and at that time all three lived in this area, so sometimes doctors’ offices had mix-ups. It helped when Vicki Sue married Ernie and became Vicki Escue. We also have a son-in-law named Brian and a grandson-in-law named Bryan. At least the Bryan/Brian have different last names. More recently we realized that our newest great grandson Payton has the same name as one of Emmy's big sisters--Peyton and Kennedy.

The baby bed will be ready for Emmy as soon as Gerald moves it across the hall to the larger bedroom. (This is Mary Ellen’s baby bed that we traveled to Michigan and brought back with a truck load of other stuff when her nephew Samuel was born. After he went into his youth bed, the baby bed came to Woodsong, where it has had good use ever since.) Maddux’s high chair is still in the dining room from Christmas, so Emmy can use that too. (This high chair is one of two identical ones bought in 1993 when we had two grandsons born at the same time. One was passed on to Cecelie and ended up donated up there when Cecelie outgrew it.)

Leslie’s family is coming down from northern Illinois and will arrive tomorrow. Our daughter-in-law Vickie and granddaughter Geri Ann are coming through on their way to Tara and Bryan’s family at Aurora in northern Illinois. Gerry and Erin will have Saturday games and won’t be able to make the holiday. Mary Ellen and Brian’s family are going to the Villages in Florida to celebrate with Brian’s mother.

All the blossoms should make everyone’s trips pleasant. I wish the people in Rhode Island and Haiti and Chile and Iraq and Afghanistan had pleasant and peaceful conditions.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Meeting Payton Dean

There was no hyacinth smelling on Thursday. I opened the bedroom draperies that morning to rain. Later I saw from the deck that two or three more hyacinths had bloomed, but I didn’t wander down there. It continued raining all day as I prepared for our Friday get-away to belatedly celebrate Gerald’s birthday. Since we didn’t get to go to Knoxville last weekend, we were going to Lexington, Kentucky, to see the Georgia softball team play the University of Kentucky. When I went to town after lunch, I did not have an appointment and feared my favorite hairdresser might leave, so I went to the shop first.

Using the biggest umbrella we have to go in and out there, I stayed fairly dry. Next I visited with Katherine, and that didn’t involve much time from car to house. Then I picked up prescriptions and bought necessary bananas at Kroger. The rain was so hard that my shoes and stockings were wet from wading the accumulated water in the parking lot, and my raincoat was soaked through. As I left town and filled the car with gas, the heavy rain and strong winds continued and swept in to finish drenching my raincoat and demolishing my new hairdo. No, I had not been thoughty enough to bring an old-fashioned plastic scarf for my head. (For those of you fortunate enough to have known the late Arthur Farmer, the word “thoughty” was his.)

Friday the rain was over and Gerald, who had worked all day Thursday in his shop, was still out there struggling to finish the softball batting tees that he wanted to deliver to Gerry on Saturday. I not only had time to smell the hyacinth, but I chose the prettiest pink one for the kitchen table and insisted Gerald take time to smell it too.

Our goal was to get away after lunch, but it was more like 4:30 by the time we left Marion to head to I-64. Gerald had four tees completed and a new top for one of the old ones, but he didn’t dare paint them without enough time for them to dry. Gerry assured him that was just fine—that he and Geri Ann would paint them. The trunk and back seat was needed for the tees and our luggage.

We made it to Corydon, Indiana, for dinner at Cracker Barrel with a Christmas gift certificate and spent the night there. The sign in the motel parking lot said that Corydon was the first Indiana capitol established in 1816. Gerald has fond memories of Corydon and Louisville because of the many years that he and his brothers and various nephews traveled to the farm show. They did not get off their farms often in those days, but they enjoyed this annual event that developed its own traditions, such as Gerald dancing the “old soft shoe” where they lodged at some point in the night. They wanted one meal at a Corydon restaurant, where a woman there reminded the boys of their mother. Of course, that restaurant has been closed a long time ago, but Gerald enjoyed the reminiscing as we drove along.

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at our motel, we were on our way to Lexington. After crossing the Ohio River and as we neared Lexington, the “horse capitol of the world,” we enjoyed seeing the fenced pastures on the rolling hills with beautiful horses or sometimes herds of cattle grazing on the bright spring grass.

We were staying in touch with Tara, who was traveling down from Aurora with the new baby, Payton Dean, and with his brothers Aidan and Maddux. In fact, that was the only good thing about having to cancel our trip last weekend. We had learned that Tara could no longer wait to show off their new son and she would be at the Lexington games. Vickie and Geri Ann are still going up to Aurora at Easter and spring-break time as originally planned before Payton decided he needed to see this world now, but Gerry can’t go with them. He was able to make acquaintance along with Vickie and
Geri Ann with his new grandson this weekend, and he was one proud grandparent.

Those three boys made the weekend very special for all of us. We are amazed at Tara’s mothering skills and the competent way she copes with her three sons. Aidan, almost four, had been up at 4 a.m. before anyone at their house, Tara said, because he was hyped for this trip. Before the day was over, he had not only attended two ball games, but he had also swam in the hotel pool twice with Geri Ann. Maddux, fifteen months, did not like the pool, but he played his harmonica for us and showed off his attention span and developing vocabulary until Gma Vickie finally had to hide the bottle of bubble solution because she was worn out from blowing for him. He even managed to blow a few himself, which I thought was as surprising as his harmonica blowing.

After locating the hotel where the team was staying but not connecting with anyone, we had started toward the softball stadium when we heard a honk and saw Vickie and Geri Ann driving in the same direction. We pulled over and followed them to a restaurant for their breakfast/lunch. We decided we better get a sandwich also since it would be a long time until dinner. After finding the softball stadium (always a challenge in a new city), we went on to the find a seat in the bleachers.

Tara and the boys had not arrived yet, so Vickie stayed available at the park to help her when they arrived and to see Payton for the first time. I am sure that meeting will always be a special memory to Vickie; for their family, meeting at a softball field could not be more appropriate. Tara has spent large amounts of time on a field since she was seven or eight and played on her first team with her little sister Erin playing in whatever sandpile or playground was available until she began playing on her own team at five. It was a boy-girl team in Marion that did not keep score. Geri Ann began going to games as an infant just as Tara’s sons have.

As loyal a fan to Georgia softball as Vickie is, she spent most of her afternoon playing in the grassy area beside the bleachers and back of the dug out with Aidan and Maddux. Of course, she was also keeping up with the games as well as she could. She had lots of help since others wanted to play with the kids too. Both boys were dressed in their Georgia red and black outfits and had a ball and a tiny bat as well as a willing teammate with their grandmother. Gerry could not resist being there too during breaks.

During the first game, Geri Ann had the honor of holding Payton, also dressed in Georgia regalia, but so bundled up with blanket and shawl that not many saw his finery. Tara went from son to son as need arose but also watched the games sometimes, where one of her summer players from Southern Force was on Kentucky’s team and one on Georgia’s team.

Guess who held Payton during the second game? Great grandmother Sue! Following instructions, I kept him completely covered. As long as he was wiggling a tiny bit or breathing so I could tell it, it felt wonderful to hold and sway a mite with this tiny swaddled infant. If it had been awhile since I’d checked and he wasn’t making gentle breathing noises, I would lift the shawl and make sure his little mouth and nose had plenty of air space and he was as content as he felt. Of course, I loved every peek. I adored the little mouth, the tiny nose, and the mass of dark brown hair showing out from under his bright red Georgia bulldog hat. Satisfied he was breathing properly and feeling guilty I’d cheated by looking, I’d pull the shawl back over and continue swaying, and I would tell him how fine I thought he was.

We won the first game 4 to 2 and thought we were going into a tie game with the second one. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Wildcats hit a two-run homer and the game was over 4 to 2 in their favor. Not a pleasant ending for us, but I am sure it was for the woman in the blue T shirt proclaiming, “Beat Georgia.” We went back to the hotel and were able to unload the batting tees into the team bus. No one wanted to have to go back out, and Aidan needed to swim.

Eventually Vickie ordered pizza and we all ended up in our room. Vickie said the woman on the phone told her this Mad Mushroom special was large. It was humongous and so was the large box of cheese bread—biggest boxes I’d ever seen and more than our four generations could eat. But everyone made room for the pretty decorated cupcakes Vickie had made for Gerald’s birthday—the first birthday cake he had in this dragged-out recognition of his attainment of 80 years.

In addition to eating, the evening was spent sadly rehashing our two games, watching the Kentucky basketball Cats lose to West Virginia on TV, playing with Aidan and Maddux, and admiring Payton until his mother took him into the other room and fed and swaddled him and finally everyone went to their own rooms.

At the breakfast dining room this morning, we all met and visited again. Payton was wide awake and we took turns holding him. Rain had been predicted, and it had already started. But the game would not be called until nearer the l o’clock game time. Gerald had slept eight wonderful hours without waking, he said, but he really was not feeling well. If the game was called off, there was no point in our staying; and if it was played in drizzle, we knew Gerald did not need to be in that.

We were dressed to find a church somewhere and worship before the afternoon game, but we made the decision to give everyone a final hug and kiss and start towards Illinois. If we saw a church somewhere along the highway we might stop—something we like to do. But Gerald really was not up to attending with his cold seeming to take a turn for the worse. (Or maybe he was just rightfully tired out after all the work in the shop this week despite his cold and then driving to Lexington.) Anyhow we did not pull off the highway to look as we drove through rain off and on all the way home. At least it was not difficult driving.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside Denny’s that had replaced one we had gone to many years ago. The old one was special because it had a clear plastic bee hive built into the outer wall of the dining room that allowed you to see the bees working.

Back on the road, we learned by phone that it had cleared off in Lexington and softball was being played. We reached Woodsong about 3 in the afternoon--tired but jubilant because Georgia had played good softball today and won the third game 16 to 5. It was a fine weekend although I am making suggestions that maybe Gerald will need to see about an antibiotic. Everyone seems to report that this particular cold hangs on unusually long, so maybe another night of rest and Gerald will really be on the mend as he has kept thinking he was.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

As I drove to town this morning through the countryside to Katherine’s, everywhere I looked at people’s lawns and the roadside, bright and sunny daffodils were welcoming spring.

Across from the large roadside expanse of golden daffodils that I especially love because it has been there for decades and always come up earlier than others, there is a tiny ancient cemetery. Someone has cleaned it in recent years. I don’t know if family members or strangers are now mowing and keeping this burial place pristine. I’ve never stopped at this tiny cemetery because it seems so private although there is a little driveway in, and maybe someday I will stop and view the few tombstones there and admire the caretaker’s work. Today one grave was completely covered with the cheerful daffodil blooms that symbolize so well the renewal of hope and joy after the cold of winter.

Weather was beautiful today. Frantically Gerald and I helped Katherine get ready for the hospital van, which came 45 minutes earlier than we expected. Evidently the time for the
Tysabri infusion at the hospital was misunderstood by either Kate or the van driver. So it was a wonderful relief as she wheeled outside the door towards the van and she asked if she would need a wrap to tell her that she would be fine without a sweater or coat.

I had already told her as she brushed her hair to try to catch a glimpse in her yard of her new daffodils that had started blooming since yesterday. Her plants are unusually healthy and pretty—actually four different kinds of daffodils. Today’s new ones are bi-colored with a slightly orange center and a simpler one that is just plain yellow. Yesterday the lovely large pale yellow ones at the end of their house were showing their stuff, and my favorites—the miniature ones under the light post—were waving at me in the breeze. I picked three of each and placed in her vases so she could enjoy them inside the house.

After helping Katherine out of bed since it was her morning aide’s day off, Gerald went on home to continue his work on the softball tees he is building to carry down to the Georgia Dogs this weekend at Lexington. (I stayed in town for several errands after having a cup of soup at Honeybakers, my favorite lunch spot.) Gerald did take time off to listen to today’s ball game (we lost) and then went back to the shop. He finally managed to make himself quit when he smeared the end of a finger with the grinder. The nasty cold that started last Thursday put him way behind on this project.

He still is not recovered from his cold, but is much better than the weekend and on his birthday Monday and even yesterday. The only celebration I could think of that he was up to on Monday was bringing home salads and chicken pot pies from Bob Evans for our evening meal. He had to cancel the traditional breakfast with his brothers that day, but they are planning to meet in the morning.

I am sure there will soon be another breakfast or two soon when their only sister Ernestine and our niece Leah come and bring our great niece Emerson Leigh to meet her Illinois relatives. Ernestine has a high school reunion to attend, but we are all focused on meeting baby Emmie. (Emmie or Emie or Emmy—not sure how they spell that diminutive.) Katherine is hoping today’s infusion will help her be able to attend some of those family celebrations where Emmie will be our star. We feel like we already know her from her pictures and Ernestine’s descriptions.

Sam’s trombone lesson was cancelled today, but he went with me to Small’s (a locally run store that has a good meat market and deli) to pick up some barbecued pork steak he likes and other sides for our suppers. With his classic rock station still playing, I drove home to Woodsong, where our double daffodils, which have had buds for weeks, are finally showing a bloom or two beside the patio. Gerald’s bulb garden had a single daffodil and hyacinth in bloom that I don’t think were there when I left the farm. I must go out and enjoy the fragrance of hyacinth in the morning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rainy Sunday Kept Changing Our Plans Too

Plans today kept changing too. (It is after midnight—but I am still thinking it is Sunday night.) We had planned to eat out today with daughter Katherine’s family, but with the rain and other problems, we did not. So I quickly opened a jar of spaghetti sauce and added it to already browned ground beef from the freezer. (Daughter Jeannie taught me the advantages or keeping frozen browned ground beef on hand ready to use.) Brian dropped by and ate a plate with us before he headed back to central Illinois.

Finally I remembered that I had planned originally to go our first 2010 meeting of the Illinois Chapter of Trail of Tears Association. But after Gerald decided he wanted to celebrate his birthday by going to the softball tournament at Knoxville this weekend, I had emailed our chapter president that I would likely be in Tennessee.

I had actually forgotten today’s meeting despite the great publicity given it. When I remembered, with the chilly rain coming down and a tie-breaker game going on that I wanted to follow, I was tempted to stay home and skip the meeting. But I wanted to hear Herman Petersen’s presentation, so I left the dishes in the sink and drove slowly to Vienna—not wanting to hydroplane in the rain.

I thought maybe the crowd would be slight with the rain, but I had to park a long way from the library door. (That is when I discovered the fold-up umbrella I usually carry in the car pocket was no longer there.) Entering the downstairs community room and shedding my dripping raincoat, I was pointed to a couple of empty seats on the back row by Sandy Boaz. They were filled when I squeezed back there, but one unfolded chair was there. Two or three people kindly lifted it out and passed it and set it up in the one tiny space remaining. Others came in who had to stand throughout the meeting after the chairs ran out.

I enjoyed seeing again the National Park Service video again about the Trail of Tears. I was very glad to hear Herman Petersen’s story of his own search for information about his Cherokee ancestor. Since there are few records of the Cherokee in the 19th century, such family history searching is quite challenging. Herman started his family story in Norway, from where his known ancestors came.

Since his great grandfather, the Cherokee, had moved out of Indian Territory before 1895, neither he nor his daughter were there to be on the Dawes Roll. But Herman did find this man’s mother listed as already deceased on the special census that was taken to prepare for the Dawes Rolls and also the sister who did not leave Indian Territory. Herman’s pride in his Cherokee heritage was made clear by wearing a ribbon shirt and a typical turban that the men often wore in 1838. At someone’s request, he had to demonstrate how to roll the turban.

The difficulty of researching Cherokee heritage was also clear by his presentation, but then all family research can be challenging. So often, as in my own family, relatives had the same first name. In our case the William Martins almost overwhelm us with confusion sometimes.

Johnson County Historical and Genealogical Society members, who hosted this meeting for TOTA, always serve homemade cookies to go with coffee and drinks. During this social time at the end of the meeting, it was interesting to find so many people searching for ancestors who had dropped off the Trail here in Illinois. One woman who had just started searching was referred to Joe Crabb, who knew her people. In fact, thanks to Joe, her relative from Womble Mountain recorded the family story for us shortly before his death. It makes us grateful that we did get some of these stories recorded before it was too late.

The first question I asked Gerald when I got back home—had Georgia Dogs been able to come back again after being behind when I left for the meeting. (My cell phone is not working again, so I couldn’t call on the way home. I thought I had the phone fixed—so now I must take it back for another fix.) The answer was yes—in an overtime inning. Then I fixed us a bite to eat.

We were both concerned because a young friend of ours from Texas was coming to Saint Louis for a seminar this week and had planned to come early and visit us on the farm for Gerald’s birthday. We were both excited about this, but overnight Gerald’s cold had taken a terrible turn for the worse. (Yesterday he seemed better.) We did not want to tell him not to come, but Gerald didn’t feel he should let him come and be coughed on either. When he called and asked Gerald how he was, Gerald said not so good. Brad said why, and Gerald said because he was almost 80 years old! Brad then explained that he was not so good either—he was in the hospital at Denton with shingles and so would not be able to visit us after all. He promised to come a weekend later in the year after he gets back from a trip to India, so we look forward to that.

It was too late to go to our evening church service, so while I glanced through a large file folder (a real treasure trove of information) that a lady brought me this afternoon from Michael Scott, I also watched the debate and media coverage of the historical passage of the health bill. That is why I am writing after midnight.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Best Made Plans of...

The car had been serviced for the trip, arrangements had been made with various folk that we need to tell when we are leaving, prescriptions were filled, etc. etc. Our son Gerry was making our motel reservations where they were staying. Unfortunately, I caught a cold early in the week, but I was counting on feeling better by today. (And I am.) By Thursday, however, Gerald was catching the cold. He did not feel like driving to Knoxville yesterday (with a side trip to see our friend Tossie, he’d hoped), so suddenly we were staying home all weekend and all the preparation was wasted.

Instead we found out what was going on between University of Georgia and Tennessee’s softball teams with our old standby—game tracker. Since we lost the first game this afternoon, we were not too sorry we were absent from the stands although, of course, we wanted to see Vickie and Geri Ann there. The second game started badly and made us think it might be more of the same, but it changed in the fifth inning and we won 9 to 5. The tie-breaker tomorrow should be fun to see, but, of course, we won’t since we are still in Southern Illinois.

This first day of spring changed many people’s plans with floods at Red River and a historic struggle in Washington, D.C., to change our way of providing (and not providing) health care in this nation. That tie breaker will be of considerable more consequence that who wins a softball game tomorrow.

Nieces in Texas and a nephew in northern Illinois all wrote to each other on Facebook about waking up to snow-covered ground. Our weather here was quite beautiful, and Brian was down putting on anhydrous in anticipation of planting. Gerald had plowed our garden yesterday in preparation for planting his first potato crop and then he also plowed up a small part of the lawn where the moles have ruined it. Today he replanted that area.
He’s already mowed the lawn for the first time. The martin houses are washed out, dried out, and cranked back in the air.

Why is he planting potatoes for the first time in his garden? Well, before he took Leslie to Texas, our friend Don Dillow phoned to see if Gerald could bring him some Yukon Gold seed potatoes because he had not been able to obtain them. Now Don is in his 80’s and had a heart attack years ago, but he still gardens, gathers pecans from the trees in his yard, hunts turkeys, deer, and quail, and I don’t know what all he does do in addition to ministering to many people. So Gerald called their mutual friend Bill Tweedy, another champion gardener, to find out where to buy seed potatoes and became so interested in Yukon Gold potatoes that he couldn’t resist buying some to plant for us.

Gerald certainly planted potatoes as a boy, but we never had to after we married because Dad Glasco grew large patches to fill his cellar bins with enough for all five of his children’s families as well as plenty to take to various widows that he knew would appreciate them. (After he retired, Dad Glasco used part of his acreage and his farm machinery to grow multiple patches of many kinds of vegetables to share at housing projects and with friends and family. Garry, the son that took over the farming, was good to help Daddy with his vegetable projects. I always wished we had some way to export Daddy’s expertise to underdeveloped countries because was the best gardener I ever knew.) We will find out this summer how much Gerald remembers about potato growing from his boyhood. If nothing happens to change our plans, that is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My First Corned Beef

Although I always want to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, I am not and I don’t usually celebrate. Oh, I always wear green, and I made sure my kids had something green to wear, so they would not be pinched or have their foot stomped on. But that was about all the celebrating we did. I started wondering about this pinching/stomping tradition this week. Is this just something that is done in our area, or is it universal among school children?

However, I not only wore green this year, I cooked my first corned beef. I bought two from Kroger with the spice packages wrapped inside and directions for cooking on the outside of the plastic wrapper. I had decided to serve corned beef sandwiches to the church women who were coming to our house on Monday night.

A group of volunteers were having a fund raiser up at West Frankfort today and one of the names and phone numbers given for the event was a writer friend I had lost contact with. I phoned Kay and asked her for serving advice. In addition to the flax bread I love and had planned to serve, I found out I needed to offer rye bread and Swiss cheese and even sauerkraut could be available. I ran out of time and decided to forgo the sauerkraut, which I was somewhat uneasy might smell up the kitchen.

I fixed a large relish plate of green items with only bright red pepper slices in the middle to give a mite of color. I made pea salad, lime punch, and used a special Irish coffee packet I had been given for Christmas in addition to making a decaf pot. Chips and candies. Angel food cakes, with and without icing (icing colored green, of course), lime sherbet, and green grapes were offered for dessert.

Mary Ellen had given me beautiful green place mats two or three years ago as well as two new sets of Christmas tablecloths at the same time. With so many choices at Christmas, I had not yet used the emerald place mats, and they really brightened up the yellow cloth which I have used throughout the years since Gerry and Vickie’s wedding rehearsal dinner 30 years ago!

In fact, I looked through the house and found every green dish or vase or candle available, and green took over the environment. I had bought three beautiful candles for 25 cents apiece at the Carbondale mall in the Christmas season’s leftovers. So they decked the dining room table sitting in a dish I bought from Salvation Army to hold them. Yes, I did have a lovely vase of daffodils in the living room. If you read my last blog, you know where they came from.

After singing and prayer requests for friends and loved ones, Deana Odom gave a devotional. In our business meeting, spring plans were completed. We are preparing ten large buckets of carefully chosen food items to feed a family and then we will be tightly packing them. Someone in our area is to take them down to Haiti along with many other churches’ buckets.

Not so important but enjoyed by the children in our village as well as by visiting grandchildren will be our Easter egg hunt followed by lunch the day before Easter. I certainly enjoy not having to fix lunch that day for my gang since egg dying and other activities keep us busy. Then there will be the sunrise breakfast (I never make that) the next morning and finally our annual women’s banquet in May when we invite our friends and neighbors. The men serve our meal and clean up afterwards. Can’t beat that! We have fun decorating for it, and Jo Barger plans and executes the meal, which the men also enjoy after their serving work while we go upstairs for a program. I can’t imagine planning food for this large group every year, but Jo is more than capable. Our meal is always delicious.

Jo is one of the most knowledgeable food experts in our area and has a cook book to prove it. (I am sure she has been a valuable resource for her son’s popular Goreville restaurant.) She delights in serving family and friends at gatherings in her home or down in her special little backyard cabin with an old-fashioned cook stove to make biscuits and enormous old-fashioned breakfasts.

After all our plans were made and ready volunteers were quickly secured for every project, we moved to the kitchen/dining room to enjoy my efforts at green food. Better than the food was the visiting seasoned with laughter. There wasn’t much corned beef left over, but enough that Katherine’s family as well as Gerald and I were able to have a sandwich again today. I felt I made Saint Patrick proud this year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trounced But the Martins Have Returned

We rushed down to Gerald’s office right after a quick lunch in the kitchen after our morning church services. Gerald got the game coverage going for us. This afternoon's tie-breaker 3rd game in the series between Georgia and Alabama softball teams left much to be desired by us Bulldog fans. The final score of 13-4 hurt our pride, and losing two games out of three was not what we expected.

Gerald and I tried to take the bad taste out of our mouths by watching Gerald's slide show of his photographs of his and Leslie's trip to Texas. I noticed he did not have a single shot of Mike Bear, who showed up in many of Les's photos on Facebook. But I loved seeing Gerald’s photos of Bobby and Katherine Sanders' beautiful grandkids and seeing their resemblance to our late friend. Katherine was a natural beauty, and her daughter Regina and her five children carry on that beauty. Gerald had many great photos of Leslie, our blond beauty, as she enthusiastically enjoyed her first trip to Texas, and I especially liked those of her with Don and Helen Ruth Dillow. However, I admit Mike Bear having with breakfast with Don and Helen Ruth was funnier.

The crocuses are blooming at Katherine’s home, and I enjoyed them all week. I appreciated those flowers she planted with some of her last energy and physical ability. I saw my first robin there also. Gerald was excited this morning to see the martins beginning to line up on the overhead wire along our lane, which brings electricity to our homestead. Soon they will probably fill the wire down most of the lane. He realized that his first job in the morning will be to clean out the martin houses for these first scouts to check out.

As Leslie and I drove home from town through the country on Friday, I saw my first daffodils in blooms by the roadside. We have some here with buds but no blooms. This large roadside patch comes up early each spring, and I always day dream about the long-dead farm wife who must have planted them by a house which disappeared many decades ago. Their beauty is a legacy that we still enjoy when we drive by.

They are so profuse and the patch so large that I have never felt guilty when I have stopped my car and picked a few to brighten our table. Once when Katherine could not come home for Easter, I sent her a couple of them stuffed in an envelope. Maybe I will have time to run over tomorrow and pick a spring bouquet. One recent change, however, is the beautiful new house half hidden in the woods behind this patch. I don’t think these homeowners own this roadside patch, but I am not sure. Regardless, they might not appreciate my annual delight in this golden visual treat. On the other hand, maybe they would enjoy my enjoyment.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to Our Own Niches Now

Gerald and Leslie drove 13 hours straight and reached Woodsong between 2 and 3 a.m. Friday morning. After sleeping in, they phoned me at Katherine’s house, and I met them in Marion for lunch. I switched into Leslie’s car after lunch, and Gerald drove the pickup I’d used all week to go back to the farm. Les and I did a couple of errands and ran back by Katherine’s so Les could see her and I could pick up the items I’d forgotten and left in the bathroom I’d used. We met Kate’s new aide, a college nursing student back from her spring break. David and Sam were home from Kentucky and so we got to see them too—also Sam’s buddy Tyler before we left.

Back at the farm later in the afternoon, we watched a couple of very old videos that Leslie was putting on a CD for us. I loved seeing those youthful images and didn’t want to leave to go upstairs to prepare supper. So I fixed a quick meal of salmon patties, instant mashed potatoes, and peas with fruit for dessert. I was still disoriented from being away all week, and I remembered something my sister Rosemary shared with me that her mother-in-law taught her. Mrs. Parks always kept canned salmon on hand, so she could fix a quick meal if someone showed up unexpectedly at their farm. You don’t have to thaw it. It is quick and easy and you don’t have to think very hard. Ha. Down through the years, I have followed that advice.

I enjoyed telling Leslie about the large house that her Uncle Phil grew up in over in the near-by Carrier Mills/Stone Fort area. The Parks had acquired an old-fashioned hospital building and moved it to their farm. I think it was ten rooms or so. Was there a fireplace in each room? I know there was one in the living room. While Phil was in basic training with the Air Force, I moved out of the dorm and into their apartment with Rosemary for three months when I was a freshman at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Rosemary liked going to the Parks for visits since they missed Phil too and she was comforted by that shared understanding. The first time I ever remember seeing a jet air trail in the sky was when we made the trip there one snowy winter day. We didn’t know what that “split” in the sky was. We watched it for miles, and I wondered if the earth were coming to an end. When we got to the Parks farm, somehow a road was blocked by snow or ice, and we parked at the bottom of a very steep hill and Rosie and I proceeded to climb that hill—going up two feet and back one often times. Of course, it didn’t help that we got the giggles.

Today Leslie was introduced to a Woodsong custom. Georgia softball team was playing Alabama a double header starting at noon. So lunch was served in Gerald’s office as we followed the game on game tracker. She had to leave after the first game and head back to Nashville. She arrived there hours ago and has already posted photographs of the Texas trip on Facebook.

We loved the first game of the double header because fourth-ranked Georgia won 3-0 against seventh-ranked Crimson Tide. This was the first conference game for both teams. (Georgia’s games with Florida were rained out on Wednesday.) The second game later in the afternoon was not so much fun. We were ahead, and then illegal pitches kept being called on Georgia’s pitcher. Because of that, two runs were given Alabama to tie up the game. The radio announcer could not refrain from commenting that 16 previous umpires had seen her pitch and never saw an illegal pitch, but this third base umpire saw it that way today much to the season-high crowd’s dismay and disgust. Then we tied the score in the bottom of that inning. In the next, we thought we’d gotten a third out on a bunt when the umpire called Alabama safe. That gave them the opportunity to get two more on base before Olivia Gibson hit a home run, and Alabama won 8-5.

Now tomorrow the two teams challenge each other for two out of three. Alabama has a 16-6 record now, and gave Georgia their second loss this season making their record 19-2.

Checking Facebook to see if Leslie had made it safely back to Nashville, I’d read that Ryoma and Gina Collia-Suzuki over in England were having pizza for supper. That threw a craving on me, so when Gerald said he was running into town to get a part to fix our broken sink sprayer, I suggested he pick up one for us. He and our son-in-law Brian arrived at Woodsong at the same time, and we teased Brian he had smelled the pizza. We enjoyed having him at the supper table, and he left to go up to their camper at the other farm.

Life is somewhat back to normal now after everyone has returned to their own niches in this universe.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In and Out: Coming and Going

While Katherine’s aide has taken her to the doctor in Carbondale, I have run out to Woodsong to pick up the mail, eat a delayed breakfast with coffee, and catch up with a few things. So I need to blog now if I am going to do so today.

This is spring break for local schools, and son-in-law David and our grandson Sam are in Kentucky on a wild boar hunt. A text to Kate this morning tells her that they saw two wild boars today. Maybe tomorrow they will get one. We do not want these wild creature traveling to Illinois, so I hope they reduce the population down there.

Leslie keeps sending Facebook photos of her and Gerald’s road trip to Texas. The photos of Leslie’s stuffed bear (named Mike Bear after guess who) safely snuggled with a seat belt beside Gerald is bringing back memories to her mother and aunt and their Christmas dolls from long ago. Since this trip is to explore seminaries for grad school, I think Leslie’s mother questions the need of a stuffed bear accompanying a grad student. I think Gerald looks rather cute with a bear beside him and rock and roll music blaring.

Of course, our favorite photos on Facebook this week are the ones that the Archibalds and Tara’s sister Erin are posting of our latest great grandson Payton Dean and his sweet brothers. The opportunity to see these photos even caused our son Gerry to temporarily join Facebook to his sisters’ delight. Payton Dean got his middle name from Gerry and his father Gerald Dean.

Okay, I have checked hotmail, Facebook, etc. and need to pop in a load of laundry. So it is time to be going. In and out. Coming and going. That’s the schedule for this week.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Payton Dean Archibald

Although I usually just start blogging without any preparation, I made some scribbled notes yesterday about what I might blog about today. However, my plans have changed because of the arrival at l:30 this afternoon of our third great grandson—thanks to Tara and Brian Archibald, who have produced these three beautiful boys. (I have already seen Payton’s photo on Facebook thanks to his Aunt Erin!) Payton has managed in less than a day on this planet to change a good many folks’ plans for today. I can only imagine all the scrambling and plan changing that went on with the extended Archibald family in northern Illinois as they helped Tara and Brian.

Payton was scheduled to arrive one month from today on his mother’s birthday. His maternal grandmother Vickie already had all her arrangements made to be there then. Today Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann thought their afternoon would be focused on University of Georgia wining their fifth game of this weekend’s invitational softball tourney at Athens. They probably expected to be texting Tara and Erin scores and the progress on the softball game—not anxiously waiting to hear about a new baby boy in their lives. I am sure they had difficulty concentrating on softball. I can just see the smiles on their faces when they got the word Payton was here.

Yesterday evening Tara was happily writing on Facebook about the fun day at the zoo with little Aidan and Maddux—Payton’s older brothers. Not much older, in fact, since Aidan will not be four until May 31, the birthday he shares with his father. Maddux was one on December 9. I should be concerned about Tara and Brian managing with three sons that close together, and I am concerned. Nevertheless, they have demonstrated exceptional parenting skills with the first two, and I suspect they will be just as competent with Payton.

What was I going to write about today? Well, the exciting news that Gerald’s only sister Ernestine and her daughter Leah (whom we still call by her baby name Leah Dawn), and Leah’s baby girl are coming from Rock Springs, Wyoming, on April 1. That was big news, but Payton upstaged them.

I was also going to write about Gerald and Leslie visiting our friends Don and Helen Ruth Dillow down in McKinney, Texas, where they have gone on Les’ spring break from Belmont to explore seminaries there as she considers that possibility for graduate school in a couple of years. They’ll also be visiting Gerald’s special phone buddy Bobby Sanders, who moved from our village many years ago but remains a close friend. Finally, they are going over for a quick visit with Erin at College Station before they return to Woodsong, where Leslie’s car is waiting for her in our garage. I thought all this was big news, but Payton’s arrival made all our phone conversations be about that and not Texas.

And I had jotted down some end-of-the-week pleasantries, such as watching 89-year-old Pearl Stearns paint a lovely painting at a club meeting Friday afternoon. With her easel set up holding the small photo of a lighthouse on the ocean as her inspiration, she talked a bit about the Famous Artists correspondence course she started once—but which was interrupted by the birth of a baby who had colic for the next six months. (Babies certainly do change our agendas.) By the end of the meeting, the canvas was lovely with blue ocean surrounded by mountains and the wooded area amazingly realistic. And I was going to share my delight at having coffee with Leslie as we sat together at the dining room table and she told me about the various activities she’s involved with at Belmont and her plans for the summer, where she will be teaching music and drama at a children’s camp focused on the arts. Oh, all kinds of pleasant things have happened, but nothing as exciting and welcome as the safe arrival of Payton Dean Archibald.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Home Again

Because our son-in-law David had to travel upstate to Rock Island on Monday, I spent Monday and Tuesday nights with Katherine and our grandson Sam in Marion. It was late when I got home last night after yesterday’s activities, which ended with senior citizen shopping at Kroger. After making sure items that needed the fridge were put away and eating sandwiches with Gerald, I went to bed early.

At Katherine’s house, suddenly I was enveloped in junior high days again with basketball practices, ISAT testing, and buddies. I always felt I could best keep in touch with my kids and their friends when I listened in while driving them places. In the same way, it was fun hearing Sam and Tyler discuss school, sports, teachers, and coaches to and from the Upward basketball championship game Tuesday night. Kids soon forget the driver, and you get an honest look at their world and feelings. Gerald brought Katherine in the van to see this final game of the season. Although we lost, it was not unexpected, so there was no grieving. Saint Joe’s team was first in the league and undefeated. I enjoyed the familiar sounds and noise of the game and seeing the unfamiliar gym at Third Baptist.

Last week I’d phoned the cosmetology lab at the college to see what the current procedures there were. It had been a long time since I had been there. For a couple of years, I have been very happy with the stylists I found at a local chain. I can’t fix my own hair since my sister spoiled me doing my hair as I was growing up, and I soon learned to depend on daughter Mary Ellen during adulthood.

I have had the misfortune of frequently losing beauticians down through the years as their shops have closed. I was envious of a friend in another area town who had been to the same shop for forty years. When I found a shop in town with multiple people I liked and where I could go with or without an appointment as the need arises, I thought I had it made. But now the corporate office has decided to limit options there, and no more permanents are available. I decided to start trying the local college students again. A third cheaper than other places, I could afford the gas to drive there.

The young student answering my inquiries said only walk-ins are taken, and she emphasized that for a morning perm, you must be there by 9:15 at the latest. After Katherine’s aide arrived Tuesday morning, I dropped Sam off at school and even had time to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart to look for photo corners. I didn’t find them, but inquiring at customer service, I had wonderful help and soon a clerk brought them to me! They were in the scrapbook section of the store, she explained. That made sense.

I hurried on over to Carterville to the college, found a scarce parking spot, and walked the long distance to proudly arrive at the cosmetology lab at 9 ready to be made beautiful. The place was eerily empty and silent. Finally an instructor came out of a back room, hailed me, and walked up to explain that the lab was not open on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. All students were in classes. Why the student phone receptionist had not explained that was a mystery to me as I am sure it also was to the teacher who had trained students to answer more fully. My inconvenience seem unimportant, however, when she explained she had taken off the day I phoned because her son was leaving that day for Afghanistan.

I came on home and fixed lunch for Gerald and me and made plans for the supper meal at Katherine’s house before the big championship game. Yesterday morning was her aide’s day off, so a young friend came to help Katherine out of bed for the day. She needed someone to drop off a loaner cushion for her chair that hadn’t helped the discomfort. Since there was a branch store on the airport road on the way to the college, I decided I’d make another stab at getting a perm in the afternoon since I’d had a haircut just to prepare for the perm. The medical supply business was going to charge Katherine $75 to pick up the non-helpful cushion even though they had a truck coming nearby. (This too was explained as a corporate decision if a truck went to anyone’s house.) That $75 errand may have been the most I have ever been worth in a day in my life!

At the college and another long walk from far-away parking, a student with beautiful long blonde hair in large spirals surrounding her youthful face gave me her first perm. With my permission, she took before and after photos for her portfolio. She was so sweetly conscientious that she made me nervous, but with the instructor’s help, things went well, and I hope the photo made her look good. By the time I picked up my suitcase at Katherine’s house, shopped at Kroger, and decided I was too tired to fill up the gas tank, it was a late supper at Woodsong when I finally arrived home—made even later as I patiently waited for fourteen young deer to leap across our lane one at a time in front of my car until I was positive no more were coming.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Let the March Winds Blow

March is here and is always welcome because we know spring is coming soon. Even though we may have more snow storms before the month is over, April will bring relief. Five weeks to Easter someone said today.

The first two weeks of March promise to be busy, so I’m trying to plan ahead and be prepared. I’ve been working on the March schedule for preschool workers during our worship services at church. I posted them tonight but will be making some more changes as I was mixed up on one grandchild’s custody schedule.

She only gets to come with her grandmother every other week, and because of a change due to illness, I figured it wrong. She is very eager to help with the preschoolers, so I want to make the necessary changes so she can have this experience occasionally. This is not the first time I have dealt with planning around every other weekend visits. It is important that adults work to make these rotating weekends as stress free and pleasant as possible for kids.

We staff each preschool room with one or two adults but also have teens and older children assist the adults with the little ones. We try to space out everyone’s turn, so no one has to miss too many worship services. The teens and older children are a great help to pour drinks, sit down on the floor with the children, read books, and help in countless other ways. The little ones love the youth, and the adults can use the help. Most of all, however, this supervised participation in child care provides child care experience to our kids and teens.

Unfortunately, I entered parenthood with absolutely no experience with little ones; and though I read Dr. Spock and all the pamphlets given me at the hospital, I felt very nervous about motherhood. Because I had done almost no babysitting and I was the youngest in our family, I knew nothing about small children and their care. I don’t advise that ignorance. The most important job in the world—parenthood—deserves preparation and training. I like helping our church kids grow up understanding and experiencing childhood development and gaining a certain confidence and even expertise in working with preschoolers.

In addition to figuring out that March schedule, I’ve been thinking through what I will serve when it is my turn to host our church women this month. I’ve set a date, checked it with the one giving a devotional, and have started a grocery list that will include several green foods since the date is two days before St. Patrick’s Day. I’m the song leader, and the books are already in the house and the songs chosen. The reason I am trying to organize every thing early is because I will be out of the house quite a bit the first two weeks of March.

This is also Gerald’s birthday month—in fact several of his family celebrate this month. He and Keith have already made arrangements for Garry’s birthday breakfast this Wednesday. Gerald’s breakfast with the brothers will be later. I can’t remember if they do one in honor of their only sister out in Wyoming or not. It doesn’t take much for them to plan a breakfast.

I was hoping to do an 80th birthday party for Gerald that included more than the just our kids and grandchildren (whichever ones who could make it) going to a restaurant, which is what we have done in recent years. We have wanted to have a cousin gathering for a long time, and I thought this might be the special weekend to do it. I had ruminated about a number of possible larger gatherings in my mind before I approached him.

Gerald, however, had already figured out the birthday treat he wanted. He plans to have the ball tees he is busy making in his shop all complete by his birthday weekend. And the softball games that weekend at Knoxville when University of Georgia plays Tennessee will be one of the closest venues to deliver the tees to Gerry. He can celebrate with Gerry’s family there, and we may have to wait until Easter weekend for the rest to celebrate here with him.

Since it won’t work out to have cousins and extra relatives for a party after all, I won’t immediately need all the extra plates I bought at Salvation Army last week. But there are washed and neatly put away in a former television cabinet that was right there waiting for them the minute I cleaned out some old papers and CDs. I was surprised at how easy my storage problem was solved. Someday I will plan a party large enough to need them.

There are other plans for March, so it is probably good to have one less party after all. As a part-time writer, who has always made my living as a housewife and not from writing, the winter months have often been when I had a few extra hours to write. That has not happened this winter. I have slowed down, and we’ve also had more medical appointments than in the past to keep ourselves in good health. I am trying not to fret about what I haven’t completed. Sometimes it is better to go with the flow of events that life brings to you. Right now I am busy listening to softball games. Maybe I’ll have some extra time this summer. Maybe not.