Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The moon is full again. Gerald’s garden can only be described as lush. The recent rains have made everything around us rich with green vegetation.

For dinner tonight, food from the garden included healthy okra (laid on a plate and three minutes in the microwave), sliced yellow zucchini (topped with no calorie spray, seasoning salt, and three minutes in microwave), and sliced tomatoes. Cantaloupe was dessert. Oh, and an ear of the corn from Scott’s patch next door rescued from the deer. Gerald has already taken 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes to the homeless shelter along with zucchini and okra. We’ve shared cantaloupe and veggies with Katherine and an aide, and I suspect we will have to find other recipients very soon. The extremely hot temperatures must be good growing weather.
We received just the right amount of rain last Wednesday here at Woodsong and up at Wayside Farm, where most of Brian’s crops are. Between the two farms, however, along Route 166, the rain came so hard that the ditches were overflowing and the road was covered by water for the first time in all the decades we have lived here. A soybean field there was covered with muddy water. Smoke was everywhere and a fire truck was there as Gerald drove by going to check on Brian’s crops. A large barn full of hay at Doughtys was destroyed, we assume by the lightning.

Geri Ann had taken friends in our car down to Gma Shirley's, and Gerald called her to wait awhile to drive back home because he felt the creek there might be flooding the road. Not so. (Although one neighbor over in that direction reported four inches.) At the Medical Arts Center this morning, where Gerald had a colonoscopy, we ran into Carbondale friends, and they did not get this rain at their home. Their garden has about dried up. Once again the rain had fallen and not fallen on the just and the unjust. But overall, crops in our area are abundant. So are the quail.

Gerald was ordered to take it easy today, and after we had stopped for a delayed breakfast at almost noon, we came on home. I had been recruited to be in the waiting room and to be his driver as required by the doctor. Almost home on our country road, a mama turkey started across followed by a couple of gawky young ones right in front of us and I braked for their crossing. Then another one came after them and finally a fourth. These inexperienced birds were not the least afraid of my car nor were they in any hurry. The last one reversed itself to nibble something in the road and then to poke on across. Finally we started forward and almost missed seeing the father turkey waiting to join them in crossing with three more young ones in the thicket on the right.

When we reached home, Gerald read, snacked, worked with photographs, played on the Internet, talked on the phone, and finally took a long nap in his recliner after only a bit of leaving the house to go down the lane for the mail and to add a cantaloupe to the kitchen counter.

It was late twilight when we finished dinner and he invited me to ride around the farm on the mule. The darkening sky was covered with dark blue clouds mixing with those clouds turned orange and pink by the setting sun. Gerald was hoping to see the huge buck he had seen while riding with Aidan and Maddux. Instead we saw four deer guiltily leaping and fleeing from Scott’s corn field when they saw us riding toward them. They were as fast as the turkeys were slow and could easily outrun us. Gerald left that part of the farm, and soon we saw them again over in the neighbor’s pasture on the north of us.

We continued on around the lake. Green trees were reflected in the water. The overhead sky’s reflection with its gentle pastels of the pink and blue clouds mingled with the greens made the whole scene like one of Monet’s masterpieces. By the time we were back to the shed and had parked the mule, it was dark. I finished up in the kitchen before coming down here to reflect on this summer day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Took Two Grandmothers

Whew! Just finished two of the busiest weeks of my life with house guests for 14 days straight. All family, so no real stress—just lots of fun. Most were grandkids or their friends, and they were all very well behaved since they are growing up real fine! But time was taken with VBS, funeral visitations, and meals for five to twelve oft times. Groups overlapped, and it wasn’t always possible to visit with individuals the way I would have liked to do.

Gerry came in Wednesday night and picked up his daughter Geri Ann and two other Georgia Southern Force players, Courtney and Samantha, who been dropped off earlier on their way home from a Chicago-area tourney. Vickie and another player dropped off Geri Ann and Courtney on Sunday evening—not even coming in the house--and then drove all night to reach home in Georgia. On Monday, Sam’s parents and sister dropped her off after a visit with central Illinois grandparents

When Gerry arrived Wednesday night, the girls had their gear packed after three days of visiting friends in Johnston City, boat riding, fishing, and relaxing. They watched a lot ot television and a video that Geri Ann found of one of her cousin Elijah’s plays. When Lacey, who plays on the local Southern Force team, stayed all night here, she took them to Marion for snow cones. They visited Gma Shirley down the road and she insisted of cooking their supper. Softball players live such disciplined regimented lives that it was good to see them plan their own agenda while they were at Woodsong.

Since it would be raining down the highway, they put their suitcases in black garbage bags before putting them in the back of Gerry’s pickup, where Gerald added the new batting tees he had worked hard in this summer heat to complete before Gerry arrived. They too drove all night after leaving here and arrived in Georgia the next morning.

I had two down days to relax myself, put fresh sheets on all the beds, catch up on some reading, and thought I might blog yesterday for the first time since the flurry of activity started.

However, Tara phoned Friday night explaining she and the boys (aged 4 years, 19 months, and four months) were coming down for a tourney Saturday afternoon at the softball stadium at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where the local Southern Force team was playing.. She was just stopping by on her way to her parents’ home in Georgia for a practice of the Georgia Southern Force team, who would go from there to College Station, Texas, to play in the nationals there.

We immediately put our heads in gear to see how we could take our turn helping with the three great grandsons. Tara handles them with great calmness and efficiency—it is sweet to see three little outfits and shoes all laid out in a row the night before. Gerald wanted to see Lacey and the Johnston City girls play, so he was the logical one to drive with Tara and Aidan, the four-year-old, to the game. Aidan, just like Tara and Gerald, would not pay any attention to the sweltering heat.

It hurt my ego to admit that I could not handle the two younger boys by myself since Tara, a tiny thing, lugs three little ones around so easily, but I knew I could not. So Gma Shirley came to the rescue and arrived to help. Believe me, we kept busy all afternoon! We both enjoyed all the snuggling, rocking, giggling, singing, and playing with our mutual grandsons. Maddux kept wanting to go outside, and Gma Shirley finally accommodated him for a brief time after it cooled off a tiny bit, but Maddux was sweating when he came in and I think he understood why we had been telling him it was hot, hot, hot outside.

The gamers arrived back with pizza in the early evening, and Tara took a brief nap downstairs while Gma Shirley and I had final loving-time with Payton. It had cooled off, and Gerald was outside taking Aidan and Maddux on all the rides they demand when they are here—the lawn mower, the tractor, the “mule,” and the boat. And they both had to hit off the little tee fixed for them. I even “caught” a few balls off the ground and threw back for them. Soon Tara was up and organized as always and had all three happily in their row of car seats in the back. She would be driving all night to reach Georgia and was planning on the boys sleeping.. I am sure Gma Shirley and I were both saying a silent prayer for their safety as they drove off in the dark. We went back inside tired but pleased with our afternoon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Erin's Summer in Europe

If you are like me and have always wanted to travel to Europe, you might enjoy it vicariously as I am doing as I read my granddaughter Erin's blog. After graduating from Texas A&M this May, Erin's A&M coaches asked her to start a blog so they could know what their catcher was doing with the Sharx over in Austria for the summer. Here is her blog url:

Some of you in Europe may want to go see her play. If you do, tell her Gma Sue said hi.

Musical Beds

Written on July 14--but never finished nor posted:
My cousin Bill's son Mike died Sunday, July 11,and Gerald and I will be going to his funeral visitation tonight at nearby town of Goreville, our Martin ancestral home.

All three teens here for Vacation Bible School went to my cousin David's visitation on Monday night. In the meantime, my son Gerry was here a couple of nights as he was very close to David, and he and Dave’s son Neil have been friends since the days when they played sports against each other in grade school and high school.

Then last night daughter Jeannie and husband Rick and their kids Elijah and Cecelie came in from an aborted camping trip. After some nice camping followed by rains and mosquistoes, etc., the two kids asked to come here where their cousins were. Jeannie is busy washing up all the rained-on comforters and Rick drying out their tent. We are playing "muscial beds" it seems like since Tara and three boys came by Sunday night on their way through from Atlanta going home to northern Illinois after a softball tourney.

We started with plans for each of the three teens to have their own bedroom this year—a far cry from when we used to fill two queen-size beds with grandkids in the upstairs room over at Pondside Farm and I slept with them to keep them settled down the best I could.

However, when the kids found out Tara and the babies were coming, they were thrilled and Trent gladly moved to a couch and gave his room to her and then next for a couple of nights to his Uncle Gerry who was here for David’s funeral. Then the Eilers came, and again the kids were thrilled that Elijah and Cecelie were joining them—and Sam gladly moved to a couch and gave the adults his bedroom. Having five grandkids instead of just three for VBS was better yet, they all agreed. And so did I.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sad News About Cousins

My son Gerry phoned early this morning to tell me my cousin David Martin had passed away last night. I missed David's daughter Mickey's call a little later. Didn't hear the phone right, but Gerald talked to Mickey. His funeral will be Tuesay morning at Webtown's Community of Christ Church, where David's wife Norma is an elder. His visitation will be Monday night.

David had been through so much fighting cancer for a long time now, and this last 30-40 days had been horrific from all Mickey had told me as he had his bladder removed and other surgery and spent 30 days at Barnes in St. Louis and then a week in skilled nursing home, where Norma was given a bed since she could not stand to leave him. He hated the ground up food at the nursing home that made him choke. Then they took him home. He was given the lemonade he wanted with lots of sugar just like he specified. Other requests that day were attended to and he went to bed to sleep in his own bed saying, "If I die tonight, I have had a good day." In retirement, David was remained active as a hunter and gardener and an avid ball fan for his kids and grandkids. He was a marvellous story teller, and his begged-for talks at our Martin reunions are a pleasant memory.

A call from our cousin Helen Martin Sitter last night told me that our late cousin Bill's only son Mike Martin, 58, has been given two weeks to live. He too has been battling cancer and a stroke caused by all his problems. His sister Jeneane has been a beloved mainstay in his life. She must plan his funeral at Goreville for him, where he will be buried in Busby Cemetery beside his baby brother Patrick, who died on Christmas Day many many years ago. I see Mike in my mind's eye as still vibrant and healthy, just as I remember David. I think the last time I visited with Mike was when our cousin Doug came from California and Mike and we sat at our dining room table visiting over at Pondside Farm.

With these griefs in our family and teaching Vacation Bible School in our village with three grandchildren here to help teach, the next few weeks may not include much blogging.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Greenwich Village Remembered at Woodsong

Monday was rather scary because when Erin woke up all alone at their Georgia home, she was extremely sick and thought she had food poisoning. Her dad was directing her by phone to drink Gator-aid, and her momma was arriving back there at 6 p.m., but Erin was having to face that she might not be able to leave on her scheduled flight out of Atlanta the next day for Austria. However, by the time Vickie’s flight arrived in Atlanta and she drove down to Watkinsville, Erin was better and she had her mother there to help her finish packing. She caught all her scheduled flights and she was in Austria ready for her first softball practice with the Sharx. We all breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude.

Once again my dining room table has been covered this week with papers, music, and booklets with plans for Vacation Bible School at our village church. Becky Belt and I will be working together in the room the children will come to for their Bible story. Each day we will see all the children enrolled as they rotate by age groups through our room. I am reviewing the Genesis story for the first day—God not only created us but made each of us unique and special. Then there will be a lesson the next day on Joseph, one on Zacchaeus on Wednesday, and one of Jesus on Thursday. The last day will be from Philippians and we will think about how we can live in ways that honor the God who loves us.

I cleared the table yesterday, however, for Eric and Ann Levin were coming over and I wanted to put out some fruit for munching, and it was all because of Red Room, a writers' site on the Web.
Somehow Eric had found my website here, where I mentioned that I went to Greenwich Village the summer after college graduation. I wanted to be a writer, and I thought the proper thing for me to do was to collect experiences. So going to Greenwich Village, where I had heard writers hung out, seemed like an interesting experience to have. I applied for an interdenominational summer project called “The Church in Urban Life” and was accepted. (If it had not been for Gerald coming along and our getting engaged, I probably would have stayed in New York for a year or two. At least that was my intention. But because of our engagement, I settled on just going there for the summer as already planned but teaching the next school year in a Chicago suburb.)

Recently I have been looking at old scrapbooks and trying to decide what to do with them. One scrapbook was on my summer in Greenwich Village. Those in the summer project stayed at Judson Student House, a cooperative, near Judson Memorial Church, which was one of the project’s sponsors. We each were on our own to seek out a job and support ourselves. I found summer secretarial work for Dr. Martin Siegel at The United Synagogue of America in upper Manhattan beside the Jewish Theological Seminary.

At the student house, where we all pitched in cleaning and doing kitchen work on a schedule, we would have seminars, discussion groups, and lecturers on city politics, economics, and the church’s response to city challenges. On weekends we would go to different activities, the museums, and plays. On Sunday we’d visit different churches, such as East Harlem Protestant Parish, Christ Church, and Riverside Church, or we’d attend services at our sponsoring church, Judson Memorial.

Eric Levin, who was born and reared in New York City, where his father had a cigar store in the Village, phoned out of curiosity after seeing that I had spent that summer in Greenwich Village. Gerald took the first call and they became acquainted. I was home to get acquainted when the second phone call came. Eric has lived in our very rural community for years, but because he works out of the community and is not native born like many here are, he said he had not met too many local folk. He came to the Friends of the Library presentation, where I spoke on the Trail of Tears, and we became better acquainted.

He told me about his father’s smoke shop and how he worked there in his teens during the 1960s and met many of the writers who shopped there, so of course I was fascinated. I told him I had just looked through this ancient scrapbook for the first time in years and he would have to drop by and see it. So last night was the night we chose, and we were able to meet his wife Ann.

He had told me on the phone he had gone to school in Berkeley and then came to Pomona, a tiny village southwest of Carbondale, the home of Southern Illinois University. I imagined that he came from Berkeley to one of the communes which sprang up in that era in that beautiful hilly country, but he didn’t. He just wanted rural life. He was very tired of cities—especially after being the victim of a hold up—and someone told him about Pomona and he came here without knowing anyone and rented an old farm house without running water and became a true country man while he finished his degrees.

He also had told me he had married a local girl, who died young. Imagine our mutual surprise when conversation last night led us to realize that this first wife was from the same Godwin family that Gerald’s mother descended from. Eric’s father’s ashes were scattered at the Jerusalem Church cemetery, where his first wife’s had been, a cemetery where many Godwins are buried.
I liked hearing Ann tell about her interesting career as a social worker who works with dialysis patients. We found out that she was from nearby Johnston City, where I taught part time for a couple of years not too long before she started high school there, so we just missed each other. Though she did not know Gerry’s family, we did know several of the same folk.

Eric’s 90-year-old mother is now living in assisted living in Marion after just having been moved from her duplex there at Liberty Village. An accomplished pianist, who studied psychology along with his sister at New York’s New School of Social Work, but who had a business career with a corporation, she sounds absolutely delightful. She loved having a place to grow flowers and feed birds. For the first time in her adult life, she was driving a car. Now friends make sure she still gets to all the concerts at SIUC.

Altogether it was a fascinating evening comparing and contrasting urban/rural lifestyles and sharing our experiences. . We did look at the scrapbook and Eric showed me on a city map in there where his father’s shop was on 7th Street and where he went to grade school across the street from Brooklyn College. We saw the playbills for The Trial, Victor Borge’s comedy, The Boy Friend, Fanny, The Teahouse of the August Moon, and The Pajama Game along with the $l.75 ticket stubs for the cheap balcony seats where I would sit.

After the Levins left, Gerald went to bed, and I came down to check email and Facebook to see what time the Eilers—Jeannie and Rick, Elijah and Cecelie got away from Freeport. But I could not get on the Internet. A phone call located them on Interstate 57 near Mattoon, and I figured they would not arrive until 2 a.m., so I started this belated blog. Actually they arrived at 1:30 so I am just now finishing the blog. I woke up to Jeannie and Rick laughing with Gerald in the kitchen. That was before Rick took his morning run and Jeannie rode her bicycle over country roads for her morning pleasure. Then we had a good visit before the six of us sat down for lunch and a final time together before they repacked the van stuffed with all their camping gear and bicycles and the dogs Lucky and Leah. Now they are on their way again to visit Leslie at Barefoot Republic Camp in Kentucky and then travel with her for the rest of the weekend in Nashville.

It is time for me to get out the VBS materials and return to my studies at the dining room table. Although the number of grandkids coming is shrinking as the kids have moved away, taken summer jobs, and so forth, there will be three teens here, and instead of being students at VBS, they all three will be helpers with the younger kids. Down through the years, as the children have matured, they have pitched in and helped. They like helping and they love being together for whatever projects they cook up to entertain themselves for the rest of the day at Woodsong.

Monday, July 05, 2010

America's Birthday and Reunions

Erin left Woodsong early this morning after breakfast, stopped in Nashville to have lunch with her friend Brooke, and is now safely back home in Georgia. We already miss her.

Yesterday while she was running around shopping and having fun with Gma Shirley and her cousin Sarah, Gerald and I attended the annual family reunion at his cousin Troy’s house. Started long ago as a birthday party for Gerald’s grandfather Ben, Ben’s daughter-in-law Stella, and Ben’s granddaughter Patsy, this was one of the first family gatherings I attended after Gerald and I were married. That party was at his cousin Wilma’s house. I remember because I was pregnant with Katherine and by the time we went over the winding country roads that are so beautiful, I was quite nauseous.

Later we were out of the area and then after Grandpa Ben’s death, we did not attend for years, but when it started being at Troy and Bobbi’s farm each year, we were invited and try to attend. This is our opportunity to see his cousin Patsy’s three daughters and whatever family they can bring with them as they still honor their mother’s birthday. Troy and Bobbi set up comfortable tables and chairs in their pleasant garage and picnic tables and lawn chairs under the huge shade trees in their yard. As someone observed, there was food enough left over from the pot luck to feed another large family the same size. That was before the homemade ice cream was served.

The biggest thing in our community this holiday weekend has been the school reunion planned by two sisters and their volunteer committee. I have been following the progress on Facebook for months. Not being an alumna of the local school, I was not involved, but my children have been interested even though only my local daughter was able to attend. From the pictures on FB and all the comments written there, it was a beautifully organized event and the food was delicious. Almost 500 people were served dinner last night in the old high school gym. For a tiny village without that large a population, that is amazing. I cannot even imagine preparing food for such a crowd, but these folks did it.

Someone said Violet Jordan, formerly school secretary for many years, was expected to be the oldest present. I think she recently celebrated a 90th birthday. There were a good many multi-generations in attendance I think. With the coal mines mostly gone, a large percentage of our graduates go elsewhere for employment. Everyone was so excited to be able to see friends again.

The first thing I heard when I walked into our village church this morning was a friend telling me Katherine and David were able to attend. I knew she wanted to do so, but I also knew she was afraid it would be too difficult. Having taught music at the school to children from K-12 before multiple sclerosis made it necessary for her to resign, Katherine was wondering how she would handle the exhaustion of meeting up with not just her own classmates but also former students. I had heard, however, that the more recent graduates were not the ones coming but those who had been out of school long enough to have lost touch with friends and who now really want to reconnect.

Before Sunday School was over today, our pastor was back in our small preschool room telling me the Richey family with their little ones were in the sanctuary and maybe I better have some extra help during the worship service. The Richey kids—Danny, Tommy, and Polly—grew up with our two older children. Several of their children (teens and young adults now) were also with them and Polly’s three grandchildren—the two-year-old twins Sadie and Riley and their younger toddler cousin Savannah. We were told which twin had the longer pony tail, and that all three could share pacifiers without our worrying about it. (Polly looks more like a movie-star than a grandmother, but she still looked very comfortable carrying baby Savannah around the church yard after services.)

Beaming over all of them was their father and grandfather, Fred, who moved into his own assisted living apartment in Marion after the death of his wife Helen who spent way too many of her last years in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s when Fred could no longer take care of her. Yet he drove to Carrier Mills each day to see her. All I could think was how thrilled Helen would have been if she could have seen those great granddaughters. She loved children, and long after she was sick but still able to come to services, she would coo excitedly anytime we had small children in a program or singing a song.

Helen was a good friend from the time we moved into the Crab Orchard community with a toddler named Jeannie and baby Mary Ellen on the way. Helen was the church nursery coordinator and went out of her way to make me feel welcome. When her own preschoolers were older and after teaching in local schools awhile, she soon became one of the outstanding instructors at Southern Illinois University’s Vocational Institute. I remember she would hurry home to be there when her kids got off the school bus, passing through Marion on the way home. Then if she had to do errands in town, she would drive back with her children in the car.

Yet she still had time to help out friends in need. When a single mom with young school children moved into our community and lived near her, Helen made sure the children could call her if they needed to before their mother got off work. She took care of Jeannie and Mary Ellen when Katherine was in the hospital in St. Louis once. Jeannie was thrilled because Helen tied an apron around her waist and let her stand on a platform and wash dishes. Mary Ellen remembers a campout on their farm and Fred letting them ride the horse. I remember her helping me in the church kitchen the day of Jeannie’s wedding. They were all still bubbling about the school reunion the night before, and the resulting family reunion today. They are hoping for a repeat next July.

We are grateful to live in a nation where we have freedom to worship as we please, to express our differences in opinions in the press and in public, and where families and friends can gather together to enjoy each other’s company without fear.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Not So Busy and Not So Hot

The week is ending with cooler weather and everyone is really enjoying the change. It was cool enough that I pulled some weeds out of the front rock garden one evening.
Gerald has picked our first tomatoes. With a motor that Gerald had repaired, we have been riding on the lake in the metal boat Gerry used to use for hunters on the ocean. Twenty years ago today our granddaughter Leslie was born, and she is in our thoughts today, and I managed to get her birthday card to her on time and in the right city since she was not at camp this week. I haven’t tried to do too much but enjoy our company this week.

We are delighted to have our granddaughter Erin still with us. She first said she was leaving Wednesday since she has to get organized and packed for the summer of softball with the Austrian Sharx. She will be meeting up with three other American players in Philadelphia next week to fly over. But she ran into her friend Toni’s parents in town and they told her Toni was coming in for the weekend and persuaded her to stay here longer. Since all the rest of her family is at a softball tourney in Colorado and she would be going home to an empty house, staying here for fun at the beach with dear friends she hardly ever gets to see was too enticing to resist.

She had an unusual experience when she planned time with her other grandmother on Monday. Since her grandmother had a doctor’s appointment, Erin said she would take her and they would have lunch afterwards and enjoy a visit that way. The appointment was with a specialist the primary doctor had asked her to go to as they have been trying for much too long now to find the root cause of some medical issues. Although her grandmother had not felt good on Sunday, I enjoyed imagining how much fun the two of them were having at lunch. I have seen them talking before at a restaurant just like two bubbling teens even though neither is a teen any more. And Erin said it was fun, and she was going to bring her grandmother home out here in our rural community afterward.

However, her grandmother wanted to watch her bat at the local Future Swings, where Erin had taken lessons with Todd Poe for many years. Erin cut it short to just 30 minutes out of consideration. When Gma Shirley stood to leave, she was not well at all. Erin had to decide what to do. Despite her grandmother’s protests, she did the right thing and took her to ER after a call to the primary doctor and to Erin’s mom down in Georgia getting ready to take a plane to Colorado. Erin’s mom called her two brothers here, and soon the family was gathering at the hospital, where Gma Shirley was admitted after an exhausting wait in the ER.

Meanwhile that same day, Erin was getting texts and photos of a horrible car accident resulting with a dear friend having the first of six surgeries to reconstruct her face before she will be able to play softball again. And then another friend had to text her of one of their friends’ mother dieing of an unexpected sudden massive heart attack. Erin was a very tired and sad young woman when she arrived back at Woodsong. She was back to the hospital the next morning.

After two days of tests and a regular medical treatment that makes her feel better—but still no answers—Gma Shirley was discharged with her sons and their wives and grandchildren all hovering over her. Erin has been spending time with her, and last night they had a big family dinner down there to celebrate Gma Shirley’s release and Erin was able to see all her Johnson cousins.

Erin and long-time friend Candace have been fishing with Gerald on the lake, and life did get better as her grandmother returned to normal living. Today Mary Ellen came down with Bryan, who was here on farm business, so that she could have a good-bye visit with Erin before she returns to Georgia and her packing responsibilities. Erin had us laughing over all the funny things young girls said at softball camps the last two weeks. Some things weren’t so funny—like being puked on in an elevator crammed with little girls the very first day of camp. She told the girls to just shut their eyes.

Before the two camp weeks were over, it sounded as if there were not too many things that could happen that didn’t. No wonder Erin arrived here tired. She is just now getting her voice back from supervising those camps! Mary Ellen has a talent for getting people talking, and I enjoyed this afternoon of anecdotes and laughing before Erin took off to meet Toni and friends at the beach. And I was glad for Mary Ellen’s help in the kitchen and our mother-daughter talk after Erin left.  

They couldn't hang very long though as they had to travel home to take Brianna to cheer a friend in a local pageant at the community 4th of July celebration.  Trent, who had always done scientific experiments in their kitchen when he was a little boy, is now conducting his various projects in their garage. . She left hoping her house and her son were still intact.