Monday, March 28, 2011

Noise and Quiet--We've Had It All

Somehow this afternoon I ended up with quiet, and I guess I needed it because I fell asleep at the computer. I will have to stop very soon now and go think about preparing dinner for the four of us here at Woodsong. I am hoping the ground beef for a meat loaf is sufficiently thawed.

We knew Tara and her three young ones were coming back through after their week with her parents and Geri Ann in Georgia as soon as Southern Forced ended their weekend tourney. But weather cancellation on Sunday allowed them to arrive last evening instead of in the middle of the night.

In fact, they were already here when we returned from the 6 p.m. service and hearing a very thought-provoking sermon by our friend Wendell Garrison. He was preaching that God wants us to spend our riches here on earth helping others rather than accumulating for ourselves. Seeing people around us and their needs includes building relationships with them—a form of riches anyone can share—which Dives failed to do with the beggar covered with sores who was at his gate. Suddenly in eternity the roles were switched, and the rich man needed Lazarus even as Lazarus had needed but not received the crumbs from Dives’ table.

We saw two cars in the driveway as we approached the house and knew that Tara had arrived and Auntie Erin was already there to enjoy an evening with “the boys.” Erin’s long team bus trip to Omaha had been cancelled on Saturday as the snowy weather was still present there. We had profited with a Saturday night visit as she used the found time with us and then on to her cousin Sarah, who has missed classes with pneumonia.

Briefly yesterday in the time before the evening service after the afternoon funeral for the mother and sister of two local friends, I had gone on Facebook. I told Gerald it sounded to me like Jeannie, who was on spring break up at Freeport, was heading this way to ride her bike.

On our way into town, Gerald phoned, and Cecelie, who had her mother’s phone in hand and had just left a message at our house, said yes they had just started from their house on their way headed south. They would be arriving in the middle of the night.

After sandwiches at the kitchen table and Gerald’s command tractor ride for Maddox and Aidan, we all settled into the living room, to sit and mostly just watch three little guys and their newest achievements. While putting away food before I got there, I did hear Erin playing the piano for Aidan and Maddux who love music and “playing” the piano themselves.

But soon the wrestling, running, and boy noise was going strong. Maddux had learned many new phrases and words, and one of the cutest was his, “I’m just kidding,” said with the most mischievous smile imaginable.

Aidan was showing off some of his moves from a video that he explained his mother would not let him watch. (Tara said they were in a Disney store and were given a free video that she did not think about putting in for Aidan to see a couple years ago.) When she realized the video was showing the kids how to make these moves including kicking, she never let Aidan see it again—but two years later, he still knows the moves, which are noisy and somewhat dangerous with two younger boys on the floor with him.

When Maddux asked, I realized our little wooden train set was missing from the bottom of the coffee table that their Gpa Gerry made me his senior year in high school. I suggested they look under the couch where Aidan had remembered some visits back was where I had stored Candy Land and other many-pieced games. Sure enough, the train set minus the engine was there where someone had parked it. (I will have to be on the lookout for the engine in the downstairs toys.)

Payton delighted us with his new-found walking ability. He still crawls faster than he can walk, so when he races after his brothers, that is his mode of choice. He loved the beautiful little picture of Mary and baby Jesus that Erin brought me from Italy last summer. Fortunately, it is metallic and not breakable, but I had to put up a couple of other things that were.

He is totally his parents’ child right now, and he really does not want to be held by anyone but Tara and Bryan, but as long as he is in their arms, he smiles and coos and flirts with all of us showing how much he likes us as long as we don’t try to hold him.

There was some horse riding when Maddux asked almost five-year-old Aidan for a ride, which Aidan patiently provided and seemed to enjoy as much at three-year-old Maddux. The noise continued. Most of their shared games involve a great deal of noise, laughter, and sometimes crying.

One by one, Tara took the boys down and put them to bed. Finally Erin had to go to take care of Sadie and get to bed herself so she could go to work this morning. My intention was to read until Jeannie and Cecelie arrived, but I fell asleep with my book in hand. At l: 30, I woke up and decided to put a welcome note on the front porch for them and head to the bed to sleep. When I came back in the house, I saw their lights coming down our lane, so I waited up a few minutes more before they fell thankfully into their waiting bed.

The morning was spent at the breakfast table as people gradually woke up. Gerald was busy giving tractor rides—moving dirt and filling up a sunken in area over the new water line from the lake to Scott’s plots across from our driveway. The lovely sounds of Cecelie's violin came up from downstairs where she was playing for Aidan.

Finally Payton was cranky and needing his morning nap as well as worrying his mother that he might be getting sick if the last antibiotic had not completed its purpose. So she loaded the boys up to head north and reach home to give scheduled softball lessons tonight.

Gerald and Cecelie took off for Cape to meet his brother for lunch and get our car serviced there. After a sandwich with me, Jeannie took off to explore how bike-ready the trail here was down at Vienna with hopes it was not as muddy as the unusable one she left behind near Freeport. I have had time to check hotmail and Facebook, and take a nap at the computer. Now I must go see if that ground beef finished thawing in the fridge.

P.S. Gerald and I spent much time at his computer this weekend watching Georgia play three games and sweep the University of Florida. Go Dawgs!

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Just hang around,,,"

Probably many places use the same motto Southern Illinoisans often do: “If you don’t like the weather, just hang around and it will change.” It has likely been said here many times the last two days.

Wednesday afternoon Gerald and I drove over to Carbondale under a bright blue sky decorated with fluffy mountains of white clouds so beautiful that I could hardly take my eyes away.

At the Southern Illinois University softball stadium, I pulled out the sunscreen and slathered my sun-warmed arms and was grateful for my straw hat. I had to pull the hat far down on my head so it would not blow off and occasionally even then had to grab it, but that breeze felt good in the heat. We were disappointed that SIUC lost to University of Illinois 5-2, but enjoyed seeing Chelsea Held make her first homerun of the season. Gerald has been cheering her on since her Southern Force days.

We heard it was to be cold the next morning, and it was. Gerald worked outside all day yesterday with heavy winter coat and hat. I stubbornly did not put on a sweater when I worked in the garage or made a brief errand outside, and I chose a jacket last night to keep from having to put on a winter coat for our Southern Illinois Writers Guild meeting.

Our speaker was held up at another meeting, so after our business meeting was finished, there was time for some group sharing and then to visit awhile. Don Barnett of DuQuoin was there for the first time with his debut novel They Shall Take Up Serpents. Working full time, he took four years to complete the novel based on his award-winning play written while obtaining his masters in playwriting at SIUC. From his comments,I felt he must have have done considerable research.

Barnett said his novel takes place in Harlan County, KY, where his family had roots, and the book tells the fictional story of a snake-handling preacher there and of the courtroom drama after a man died from a snake bite. Don was wearing a black cap and T shirt with “Bloody Harlan” in large scary red letters given to him when he visited for a signing in a book store there. His hotel also let him set up to sell his books in the lobby.

Don delights in hearing stories. I am sure he listened well in Harlan County and heard many local tales while gathering material for the second novel he is already working on about the Hinsley family. He discovered while writing the book that his great grandmother, who is terrified of snakes, actually participated in a snake-handling service in that county. Now I have one more book waiting on the counter upstairs making me wish I had nothing to do but to read books.

Our son-in-law Brian had come down yesterday to farm. After I got home from Writers Guild, I was still at the kitchen table reading Springhouse magazine that had come in yesterday’s mail when he came in from the field. So at 11 p.m., I heated up the left-over Mexican chicken pie that I’d fixed for Gerald and my lunch.

We woke up this morning to a cold drizzle mixed with bits of snow, so no one was too eager to go outside. But I had to leave at noon and head back to Carbondale for an echocardiogram and annual visit with cardiologist, who said I was doing just great. (I take one little pill a day for a fast heart beat and really have no problem.)

I had loaded the car trunk this morning to relieve the garage of our large accumulation of recyclables. Carbondale is the only place I know that takes glass, and I was glad to get rid of it and all the newspapers, plastic, cans, catalogs, and phone books.

I still had some time, so I decided I should stop at the mall. Today I knew I had to wear a coat, but I should have left it in the car when I went inside. After a mocha and a breather at the coffee shop, I went on to the nearby department store and I actually found a larger crock pot I wanted on sale in the kitchen department. Of course, it was in a huge awkward box and I started carrying it in hopes there might be a place to actually purchase it close by although there was no clerk to ask. The coat had made me hot and the box instantly seemed much too bulky and heavy to search for register. I put it down, took off my coat, and headed to the car to join the 5 p.m. traffic to Marion and then to the farm.

Gerald was already in his office following the Georgia softball team playing the University of Florida at Gainesville on Game Tracker. I quickly loaded sandwich fixings, baked chips, and fruit and delivered our “picnic” in a basket to join him for supper as we cheered Georgia to a 10-7 victory in the 7th inning. Brianna Hesson’s homerun was the thriller today.

SIUC in the meantime had their softball game tomorrow against Creighton cancelled because of the snow in Omaha. They will play a double header on Sunday if the weather allows. Bet folks up there are hoping, “Just hang around and the weather will change.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Busy Happy Times

It felt good to go to bed last night and know I could sleep as long as I wanted this morning with no major responsibilities nor scheduled fun awaiting me. The last two days have been full, busy, and fun. I needed a breather,

Gerald and Sam arrived from Tuscaloosa just before midnight Sunday, and I was already asleep, The plan had been to get a motel room on the way home if Gerald was tired, but he claimed he wasn’t in his l0 p.m. phone call home and kept driving. Sam tumbled into the bed here that he’d slept in before they left, but Gerald went to check his computer. I did wake up until Gerald came to bed and we had brief conversation about the tourney and trip home.

Sam slept late the next morning, but as usual Gerald was up before me. He pulled out the built-in extension on our kitchen table for me since I was entertaining a women’s group from church for our monthly meeting that night. I found a tablecloth to fit the extended size, laid out serving dishes and did other small tasks. I made a grocery list, which, of course, I forgot. (But at least making a list usually helps me forget less.)

Sam woke up and I drove him to his house in town. He helped me pick daffodils along the road in my favorite spot so I’d have some fresh flowers for the evening. (Our late friend Zella used to bring me flowers from her garden, but now I have to supply my own.) After I dropped Sam off, I did the grocery store run and bought prepared chicken for Gerald’s and my lunch. Finally, I stopped by Larry’s bakery for some cookies and hurried back to Woodsong for a late lunch with Gerald.

Sunday evening I’d made a couple of angel food cakes in honor of Zella for whom I used to include angel food in the menu. I’d learned years ago with Dad Glasco that angel food is kind to diabetics. I’d bought vanilla ice cream to go with the angel food cake and cookies, thinking I’d serve it as I did other flavors in the long ago past when I put scoops of colorful ice cream or sherbets in a large bowl and let people help themselves. (It did not work as well this time as the scoops melted together slightly—but it was easier to serve oneself than any other way I know.)

After lunch, I arranged the cookies and a cheese tray and lunch meat tray, made punch, fixed the coffee pots—decaf and the real kind—and arranged the daffodils. (I forgot to put the cheese platter on the buffet until almost everyone was seated and the guests said to forget it, so I did. Gerald and I just enjoyed the cheese today for lunch sandwiches.)

Many many years ago, Mary Ellen had given me a lovely coffee cup decorated with spring flowers and with matching paper party napkins. Saving them for the perfect occasion, I somehow had never used them and decided March 21 was a good day to unwrap the napkins for a spring theme. So daffodils went into the spring-themed cup and also into a plastic cup I inserted into the cup’s pretty gift box and I had flowers for the buffet,

My mother had a small unique blue china flower holder with a little white spring figure which sat on top. The vase part below had holes punched for flowers, and Mother used this with daffodils for her club meetings. Sometime after I left home, the little sprite on top had been broken and she had carefully glued it all back together. So with memories of my mother, I took the little vase from Grandma Sidney Martin’s trinket case and placed daffodils in those holes for the front hall. I still had a few flowers left for a bud vase in the living room.

The furniture there only seats ten, so I also got out a few folding chairs in case they were needed, and I was glad I did since there were 14 of us. Gerald had already been given a microwave meal for the downstairs microwave to hold him until after the meeting. I changed my blouse, renewed my makeup, and had some resting time before the guests began arriving.

After singing, a prayer time for dear ones needing special prayers, and hearing a devotional from Deanna Odom, we had a good time as usual making spring plans for an Easter egg hunt for the children, deciding a date for the fishing tournament coming up, and choosing a theme for the annual women’s banquet in May. Afterwards we moved into the kitchen-dining room area for refreshments and lots of visiting and laughing at each other’s stories around the tables. (I learned, for example, who accidentally started the recent grass fire in the village of Crab Orchard. It was not funny at the time, but some of the stories that came out of it were.)

All too soon, it was time to part as women had children at home to get to bed for school, and we left with the usual instructions to watch out for the deer. Gerald came up and we visited awhile since we were still talking about his weekend trip to Alabama, and I put away the perishables, after Gerald indulged. Only one cake was half gone, and I wrapped the other for the freezer, and told him the half left over could be his birthday cake the next day.

Yesterday I got up early for me, so I could go with Gerald to meet his brothers at Cracker Barrel for the obligatory birthday breakfast. Ginger and our nephew Tim rounded out the party. The waitresses there have fed these Glasco brothers for so many years that they are very kind and know just what extras to bring to the table. Ginger and Garry are so sweet to watch as he takes such good care of her.

We certainly saw a spark of the pre-stroke Ginger when Keith repeated someone’s remark about his daughter whose husband had died. He said she was finally able to order what she wanted at a restaurant now. (And it was pleasant to also hear that a new fiancĂ© is treating this young woman like gold.) Ginger was so upset to hear of this young woman’s mistreatment that she expressed in no uncertain terms her indignation and that she would not have tolerated that. Garry agreed she would not have. We all loved seeing the real Ginger assert herself, but Keith soothed quickly so she would not have to remain upset. Ginger loves to shop at gift stores and buy pretties, which will have to be stored by her aide since like most of us our age, she has more than her home can accommodate. So she purchased her accessory, and Garry was happy for her shopping happiness. Tim had to leave earlier to go to work, but the rest of us sat and visited until probably 9:30.

Gerald said he had to go home and do some work in his shop, but he would really like to visit his cousins in the Water Valley neighborhood in Union County. He worked until 1 before he came in for lunch, and declared he did not want to work any more on his birthday, so we took off on country roads with Bradford pear trees blooming in people’s yards and the roadside redwoods just beginning to turn lightly pinkish-purple with promise of full bloom soon.

In the meantime, Katherine had called while he was in his shop and said she had an aide bake him a birthday cake and they could bring it out late in the afternoon, I wasn’t sure how that would work with Gerald’s visits to cousins, so said we’d see how the afternoon went. Gerald’s cousins as well as several of their children’s families all live nearby each other on all the sides of a crossroads. I think I remember those country roads are called Rocky Comfort Road and Buffalo Gap—which gives you an idea of the hills and valleys and the lovely rustic scenery in that area.

We had hoped to visit all three cousins, but we ended up with only time for two out of the three. Both Paulie and Roy are a few years older than Gerald and have had major health problems.

We visited Paulie and Stella first, and we were deep in conversation and reminiscences when an adorable curly headed three-year-old ran into the room with his blanket and plopped between Stella and me on the couch to continue his nap. We had seen all the outside play equipment and toys in the yard as we came in, bur did not realize Stella was caring for little Sandy that afternoon. He slept soundly between us despite of all Gerald and Pauly’s laughter and a couple of noisy phone calls. (One was from his three-year-old cousin just up the road wanting to come down and play if Sandy was up from his nap.) We were glad he woke briefly before we left, so we could see this great grandson’s beautiful eyes and smiling face.

We went back to our car and drove up the brief distance to Roy and Roberta’s house, where a huge German shepherd stood in the living room window and heralded our arrival on their front porch with ferocious barking. Roy came smiling to the door and let the big dog out to lick our hands and give us welcome when Roy told her we were okay. The dog was in and out during the visit and Roberta fed him candy and he made us feel very important with his genial attention.

We were able to hear the story of this dog’s adoption after they saw him advertised on television from a humane society in Cape—one that had told them on the telephone that the first person to come for the dog could have her. They hurried to Cape and filled out the necessary papers and were then told they could not have the dog. They went home thoroughly confused and disheartened. The next day, they phoned again to see if the dog was still there and could they please have her.

Again they were told all they had to do was come for her. Roy told the phone person that they had driven 70 miles round trip the day before and would do so again, but he expected to be given the dog if they drove over to Missouri to obtain her. I do not know if the phone person and the other woman were not in communication or what, but they drove there only to be refused the dog again. A young woman spoke up for them, however, and Roy insisted he’d been promised the dog, so this time they did get to take her home. They both told us what an extraordinary dog she was and how good she was, and I believed them. But as we continued hearing stories of all the dogs Roy has had in his long life, we found out they were all good and extraordinary dogs. We did not doubt that after the pleasant visit with this one in their lovely comfortable but spotless living room. Once again as we walked outside, we enjoyed the well-kept place with its enormous country lawn that Roy and Roberta work together keeping mowed perfectly despite their serious health limitations. (A great nephew helps when needed with all the necessary upkeep,)

We decided we did not have time for a visit with the third cousin, whom we had visited not that long ago and who did not have the current health problems of the other two. We connected with Katherine by phone and she suggested we simply stop at their house for supper and they would order pizzas to augment the birthday cake . That is what we did, and the cake was delicious. They wanted us to take it with us, but we thought it best to leave it behind out of temptation’s way and where Sam can eat it with no danger with his fast teenage growth, (He seems two inches higher every time I see him.) So after a nice visit with the Cedars, we came home where more phone calls and emails awaited wishing Gerald a happy 81st birthday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cecelie's Birthday

Our youngest grandchild Cecelie Elise is 12 today, which in their family is when daughters can get their ears pierced. So her mother has Cecelie and five little girls out shopping at the mall with the ear piercing project as one of their aims. I really do not know how she can possibly be 12 since it seems to me only yesterday we went to Freeport to see her come home from the hospital. I frequently manage to send birthday cards late, and once again I did it. Well, I thought at least it would be post marked on her birthday when I addressed her card and wrote her birthday check. But as usual when I want to mail something, the post person had come on time and today’s mail had already been delivered to our mailbox. The card is waiting in the truck, and I am going to try to get it to town to put it in today’s mail.

Why am I going in the truck? Well, as I had anticipated, the draw of the softball tourney at Alabama was too much for Gerry’s family to skip. Gerald and gramdson Sam left Woodsong yesterday morning in the car to save gas. They arrived for the game in plenty of time as did Bryan and Tara (our oldest grandchild) and their three little guys who had arrived at Woodsong at 2:30 a.m. and slept till everyone woke up.

After breakfast and Gerald’s return from an early morning trip to town for cash, Maddux (who had been begging for a tractor ride) and Aidan and even Payton had their outings on wheels with Gpa Gerald. Bryan took Payton on a ride down the road in a little wagon, and Sam, who had spent the night, was also outside entertaining these three little ones letting them run off steam before they had to get back in their car for the next long jaunt to Alabama,. Only the anticipation of seeing Gpa Gerry and Gma Vickie and Aunt G made that prospect palatable to Aidan. Although Bryan has to return to work, Tara and the three boys are staying in Watkinsville with Gerry and Vickie next week.

Tara and I too were outside enjoying the beautiful warm weather and watching the boys run and play, kicking and throwing a ball, and riding anything with wheels that they could get an adult to ride them on. Interesting how balls and wheels delight boys. All too soon, everyone had to load up for Alabama. I waved them all off and came into a quiet house.

Ignoring the breakfast dishes, I did some reading and then continued working on some Martin family history that I am focusing on now. Oddly, I have re-connected with a California grandmother who is doing research on the Martins for her grandson Codi. (She is not a Martin, but her daughter married a Martin descendant. I find that very impressive that she is willing to research someone else’s family line for her young grandson.)

I say re-connected because she had written me an email several years ago about this branch of the family. (My great Uncle Jim’s son moved to California in the 1940s and local Martins had lost touch with him.) I even found those two emails from her in an email account I rarely use, and she explained clearly how the descendancy went. What is so embarrassing is that I had wanted this information and then totally forgot I had it in those long ago emails. Sometimes I wonder about my mind.

Nevertheless, the reconnection was good and I have been busily corresponding by email this week with her. She has sent me more information, and I have sent her more family and friend connections and stories. This correspondence will serve me well when I continue the work I started many years about my great grandfather William Felix Grundy Martin of Sleepy Hollow in rural Goreville.

I started asking questions about William Felix’s life decades ago and have written several different attempts with updates as the years progressed. I just completed and mailed a short version to the Johnson County Historical and Genealogical Society, which is asking for family histories for a 2012 book they plan to publish.

After completing that and then having this stimulating email correspondence with Codi’s grandmother, I am inspired to try my best to finish this long essay and hope to get it published in Saga, a regional genealogical journal. Then when I leave the planet, other descendants will have access to the information. Certainly I have much more information now than I did when I put a short bio on the back of a photo of him decades ago or even when I first wrote about him with more length in 1995.

I cannot seem to do anything on a scheduled basis anymore, so once again I am late with what is supposed to be mid-week blogging. And since I need to mail this belated birthday card to Cecelie, I am going to run into town to the post office where mail goes out at 6 p.m. I think I will be tempted to go by Katherine’s house and watch the second game between #2 Alabama and #1 Georgia tonight with her on ESPNU at 7 CT. We lost 2-1 last night, so we are hoping the Georgia will be more ready for Alabama’s All American pitcher tonight. I watched on Game Tracker last night here at Woodsong, but I think I will want someone to cheer with me for the Dawgs tonight.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What a Difference

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday we were freezing at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale softball tourney. This week we were burning up. Sweaters came off, and the occasional person in shorts did not look out-of-place. Outside the stadium and beyond the fence on the green slope there, many were sitting comfortably on the grass to watch the game.

Last week I forgot to take a blanket, and although I knew it was warmer yesterday, I had not been outside when we left before noon for the 1 p.m. game against DePaul. So I stuck in a blanket just in case we stayed for the late afternoon game against University of Illinois at Chicago and it grew chilly. We didn’t stay for the second game even though they announced it would be in 30 minutes instead of at 4 p.m. Even if we had stayed and the game had been at 4 as scheduled, we would not have needed that blanket in the backseat of the car. But I would have been sunburned because yesterday I forgot the sunscreen and my sunglasses. I will surely get organized before the end of the softball season.

University of Georgia had four at-home softball games in a row starting with a pick-up game against Penn State on Thursday and then three days with a game against 21st-ranked Louisiana State University.

Four wins later, the Georgia Bulldogs are now heading to South Carolina for a double header on Wednesday. This weekend they will be in Tuscaloosa playing against #2 Alabama. Saturday night’s game at 7 CT will be broadcast on ESPN. Nevertheless, there are a lot of Illinois folk right now who are fighting the impulse to drive to Alabama for what should be some pretty spectacular softball. Alabama has a 24-1 record right now and Georgia has a 21-1 record.

Last summer when the Union County Historical Society entertained the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association after its meeting in the nearby Catholic church, I talked to president Pat Brumleve asking about the possibility of donating my collection of childhood scrapbooks to the archives the museum is creating. The society newsletter is always asking for old documents, photographs, and paper ephemera. Pat said to bring them down. I figure getting rid of them now will save my children that problem later and perhaps save the scrapbooks from being burned. The museum has just reopened for the 2011 season and is staffed by volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5. I had stuck in the two boxes of scrapbooks just in case there was time to drive on down to Cobden between games yesterday.

I asked Gerald if he had time to drive down, and he agreed to go. A new Civil War display had opened, and I was interested in seeing it as well as getting the scrapbooks out of the garage before mice got into them. We were fortunate to have Judy and Will Travelstead as our tour guides yesterday since they are so knowledgeable about local history as well as knowing every inch of this Old DeBois building that they were instrumental in saving.

Without the Travelsteads’ and others’ volunteerism, that building might very well have been torn down by now and a community treasure never established. Rather than have bake sales or other such fund raisers, the museum operates a beautiful gift store on the newly refinished north side. People donate lovely old collectibles of all kinds and they are sold at inexpensive prices, but money comes in to help finance the building and its activities. I could not resist five hand-crafted Easter eggs, some sprays of wine-colored glass berries that just match our living room couch. And it is almost impossible for me to go by collections of second-hand books and leave empty handed, so I brought out two of those also.

On our way down to Cobden, Gerald had phoned our friends Bill and Mickey Tweedy to say we were coming to town and to consider getting together to go out to eat. Bill, an outstanding horticulturalist, was using the beautiful day to start garden work, but he said come on over after we did our museum visit. We always love driving the rural roads leading to their lovely retirement home atop one of the scenic hills on Bill’s boyhood fields. His brother Jim and wife Mary also live nearby on another part of their boyhood farm.

We became so comfortable visiting in the Tweedys’ living room enjoying their new recliner couches that Mickey suggested we just bring in something to eat rather than having to go out and then maybe find ourselves in a place too noisy to keep visiting. After some discussion of possibilities, we sent the two men to town to bring home a pizza.

Mickey also served us some bean salad she had in the fridge, and at the end of the meal asked if we liked canned peaches. I frequently buy cans of peaches, so I said yes. But her home-canned Cobden peaches from the peach capitol of our state were nothing like the ones I pour out of a tin can. They were cold and luscious. With a plate of miniature cheesecakes from their freezer sitting there in the middle of the table tempting us along with the peaches, we sat long at the table. We visited for hours without the annoyance of conscientious wait folk interrupting to ask us if everything was all right.

We came back to Woodsong much later than we had planned and woke up to many unfinished household tasks this morning. We also woke up refreshed by the memories of the good time the night before.

Yes, our pecking bird visited us both yesterday morning and this morning, Gerald said. Although I was up by 7:30 both days, I did not hear our avian friend because he or she had already quit pecking. I was impressed that this bird knew we were now on Daylight Savings Time and made the adjustment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Banging the Head Against a Glass Wall

No, I am not talking about the glass ceiling for women executives although I know that is a problem for many women. I am talking about a small bird that is driving me nuts. (Actually it is medium size—neither small nor large for a bird.) Starting last Sunday morning, we had a bird fly to our top windows in the living room where a sill exists that separates the bottom windows from the top four (two large in the middle and two small on the sides). Here the living room makes a slight triangle looking out to our lake.

For the more than two hours after we woke up Sunday until we left the house, this bird was knocking on one or the other of the two larger windows. He or she might fly away for a few minutes, but then he or she would return to sit on the sill and bang again many times before taking a break. It was very upsetting and puzzling as to why any bird would do such a thing. I can’t see much more than its head peeking over the sill and knocking away, and I do not know what kind of bird this is. We have had birds walk on that window sill before looking in on us with curiosity, and I always liked that and might often have a one-sided conversation with the bird. We have beautiful woodpeckers at our feeders often, but we have never before had a glass pecker.

Was the bird hungry? Obviously the bird was not getting anything to eat by banging its bill against glass. Besides, the bird feeder on the deck below offered a good breakfast without any need for knocking. Gerald suggested maybe the bird was looking for a nesting place—but nothing that high up in our living room could possibly look like anything offering shelter for a nest.

I was very sympathetic to the bird, and I was afraid it would eventually knock itself out. The first thing I did when we came from church was to check the deck. No bird. As Gerald pointed out, the ones in the past (only a couple in last l0 years) who fell dead were flying and ran into the glass door or window accidentally at high speed. This bird was quite consciously and deliberately choosing to return again and again and knock on the window with its beak. Of course, we had to comment on the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and being surprised with the same result. I was just glad the knocking was over and the bird did not show up during our lunch.

But the knocking is not over. (I call its noise “knocking” because it is loud and can be heard two rooms off in the kitchen. Knock. Knock. Knock.) Every day this week for a couple of hours in the morning this persistent creature starts our day and its day with this knocking for a couple of hours. Since I am often a late riser, I only hear the last efforts while Gerald hears the early knocking. It was a day or two before I even realized what was happening.
That day Gerald had planned to be away, and I was up early. I thought I would take advantage of no lunch to prepare and sit in our living room and try to catch up on the huge collection of magazines I wanted to read and pass on to a magazine-loving friend. Just sitting in the living room relaxing is a treat I don’t often indulge in—. I was looking forward to this. Then our too-friendly bird flew back just as I sat down. With the constant knocking, I can’t claim too much relaxation happened. Now on the sixth day, I am no longer sympathetic to this bird. I want to yell at it and ask it what kind of a bird brain it is.

I am wondering how long the bird is going to keep knocking. Does it want inside? Does it like the noise it creates? Does it have some kind of pain that the rhythmic pecking distracts from? Does it think it might win a mate by being a drummer? Or is it an insane bird that does not have a mental health center to help it?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Chilly Weekend in Southern Illinois

Two pairs of stockings. Two pair of slacks. Two tops covered with corduroy jacket. Warm snuggly gloves, Warm hat down over my ears and to the top of my glasses. And a winter coat over it all. That’s how I dressed yesterday to go to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s first home softball game.

We awoke to a very rainy Saturday and learned Erin and others were hard at work with the squeegee trying to get the field ready for their home tournament. Although I was ready to jump in the car and make it to the stadium if they played at 12 as originally scheduled, Gerald and I did not think that was going to happen as the light rain kept coming off and on. So I fixed our lunch and learned the noon game was cancelled, two teams were playing at 2, and SIUC would be playing the Kentucky Wildcats at 4.

Our car showed the temperature as 40 degrees when we parked it, and I felt smug that I knew how to dress for cold weather as we walked to the stadium. Inside we were able to find plastic seats with backs as opposed to the aluminum benches that are tortuous on cold days. Obviously not too many people were willing to brave this chill after it finally quit raining. Immediately I realized I had forgotten the most important thing for cold weather softball: bring a blanket to cover up with. I thought longingly of all the wasted blankets at home, but I also noticed others with less warm gear than us. I decided not to whine. The Kentucky team had a young but fine pitcher, and after six straight wins away from home, our Salukis lost 9-6.

It was still 40 degrees when we got back to the car. When Erin met us afterwards at Fazoli’s for supper, we knew we had made the right choice. The bread sticks came to us almost too hot to hold, but they sure felt good to winter-cold hands,

Georgia’s tournament games were cancelled yesterday, and we figured Gerry was wishing he could have gone with Vickie, Geri Ann, and Gma Shirley to his third grandson’s first birthday party. We would have liked to have been there for that also, but it was just too much of a trip and we had other obligations.

Usually I only assist my young friend Kim Barger with the preschoolers in our Sunday School class, but she was away taking her mother on a long dreamed of cruise. Despite her mother’s health problems, Kim had permission from her doctor after explaining a cruise was on her mother’s bucket list. With all three of her daughters, her brother and wife, and some grandkids on the cruise, I am feeling confident that Joan will come home very happy even if exhausted from the trip. I am eager to hear about it.

That left me and Deana Starnes responsible for our preschoolers. Since we were studying Genesis 1 about God making the light and the dark, our activities focused on that. We had some cards with pictures on both sides to illustrate night and day and with punched holes for the kids to lace through with yarn. I am not sure this group had ever done that before, and they enjoyed it and immediately decided to take the cards home for their mothers.

Last week, they had been using some toy plastic saws during their free play, and I did not like their trying to saw on the little red rocker because I was pretty sure it was going to be scratched. Kim brought some short pieces of lumber for children to hammer nails into when we talked once about building a couple of years ago. But those were no longer available. So Gerald made us short blocks to saw on out of some of the scraps of lumber in his shop. The kids appreciated that.

SIUC was playing today at 1 and 4; and although Gerald was tempted to go back over to see them play, today the temperature was 30 degrees, so he chose to stay home and listen to Georgia’s game. They won, and SIUC split their games today.

I went in to see Katherine, and she and I watched Robert Duvall in the 1983 movie Tender Mercies, which won him an Academy Award for Best Actor. I so rarely watch movies that I knew nothing about the movie. We both liked the understated way the film showed time lapses with no attempt to bridge the scenes together letting us do that in our own minds. I loved the set with a realistic house so like many homes I have seen. Katherine commented that the brown and white afghan on the living room couch was just like one in their closet passed down from David’s grandmother

Gerald and I met up this evening to hear his friend Wendell Garrison’s sermon. Katherine was not quite up to getting ready in time to go, but she wanted to free up David to go and pick up Sam who would be there after his youth meeting. I wanted to stay with her, but she wanted me to go be with Gerald. She also wanted some alone time and this was her opportunity. During the afternoon, she had enjoyed the yummy brownies that Mary had sent home with David for her this morning. Mary says she loves to cook, and sending homemade food is her ministry. I was able to tell her how much Katherine enjoyed them as I bet the whole family did after evening church. We’ve made plans to go to lunch with Wendell and Mary soon and are looking forward to the opportunity to visit a little longer.

Gerald suggested going for a sandwich before driving to the farm; and since I had nothing at home to feed him except what I had fed us at lunch, that seemed a good idea.

After coming home tonight, I discovered that Tender Mercies was directed by Australian Bruce Beresford who did Driving Miss Daisy and another of my all-time favorites Breaker Morant. Somehow finding that out gave me a pleasant ending to the day.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Pot Roasts, Laundry, and the First Daffodils

Returning from taking in a roast and veggies to Katherine’s family, I got a phone call from Gerald who had been trying to reach me on my cell phone. He said our granddaughter Erin was coming over and wanted to take us out to supper, but he told her just to stop by and bring a pizza out to the farm as he figured I’d be tired just getting back from town.

“Oh, but I’ve got a roast with potatoes and carrots waiting for us in the oven,” I exclaimed. (I’d just made two pot roasts at once in the oven, had transferred one to the crock pot to plug in at the Cedar house so they could eat whenever it was convenient for them, and the other was waiting in the oven for our supper.) So Gerald said he’d call Erin to skip bringing out the pizza. The prospect of Erin’s supper visit brightened my drive home.

Gerald was long gone when I woke up this morning as he headed down to our home territory in Union County to celebrate his brother Garry’s birthday with breakfast at Ginger’s favorite restaurant at Jonesboro. (Garry is conscientious to take her out to breakfast since this is her best meal to consume before she tires later in the day.) Their brother Keith was meeting them there too, of course.
I did not really expect Gerald back for lunch as I knew he and Garry would have a lot of visiting to do. So I planned the roast for supper although usually we eat our main meal at noon and just have soup and a sandwich or something simple in the evening. I figured if he came back by lunch time, we’d have our sandwich at noon. As it turned out, he pulled into our garage this afternoon just as I was preparing to leave for town to go get Sam from his trombone lesson, so we had had very little communication today. It was lovely to have a leisurely supper with him and Erin to catch up on the day’s events.

I encourage our grandkids to bring their laundry when they visit since we are fortunate enough to have a washer/drier on both floors and they can finish quickly. This happened accidentally. When we built this house with a full walkout basement and its two bedrooms there, the plans were for a laundry downstairs on one end of my office, which backs up to the downstairs bathroom and the plumbing there. I figured if we sold the house at sometime in the future, another person might want to use the room for a sewing or craft room and the laundry would be convenient for that person too.

Our building contractor had insisted I needed a laundry shoot in the bottom of the upstairs bathroom vanity directly over my office, so I would not have to carry dirty clothes down. This made sense and I figured he was right, so I told him to go ahead.

I was leery of this because of very young grandkids. When we moved in, I proceeded to cover it up with a stainless steel tray I bought at Salvation Army for this purpose and put supplies there to conceal the tray. My fear came from Mary Ellen’s story of driving in Grinnell one day and hearing the story of the firemen at her friend’s house where the daughter and a visiting girl friend decided to travel down their laundry shoot—and she got stuck inside. I have used the shoot a few times and am glad it is there I’m also glad it is covered up so that now ten years later I don’t have to worry about great grandkids taking an adventure that would drop them down on the concrete floor that the carpet would not do much to soften.

As it turned out, the people buying our farm house had their own much newer washer/drier and did not want ours left behind. So we moved the machines over the half mile to this house and hooked them up in the garage on the upstairs ground level floor. With all going on with settling into a new house, the new downstairs washer and drier were not hooked up for several months. By then, I realized how convenient having the washer/drier in the garage right by the kitchen was.

After we did get the new washer/drier operating, I did not want to change my habits although I was very grateful for the convenience of doing sheets and towels there from the bath and two downstairs bedrooms there. During the two summers we had family living with us in the downstairs and during the many vacation and holiday visits, having two sets of laundry equipment has been a boon for all of us although I would not have thought to plan for that convenience.

So tonight after supper, Erin was running up and down the stairs keeping the machines running and resting on the couch reading a book between loads. Gerald and I both enjoyed her presence, and we both fell asleep while we were reading, which is pretty typical of our evenings. We woke before she loaded her car down with clean laundry telling her we’d see her at the Saluki softball games on Saturday.

Yesterday when I drove to town for a friend's funeral, I imagined that instead of the dull roadside soon I’d be seeing the large patch of daffodils that I enjoy each spring. Today I did not have to imagine. The first ones were up waving their yellow heads at me as I passed. They will be joined by a host of others and that area between the road and the woods will be a brilliant yellow in another week or so.

I also noticed yesterday that Katherine’s crocus by the front lamp pole were peeking yellow heads up from their winter’s sleep. She sent me out with a tiny vase today, and with Sam’s help I picked the first three to brighten their family room with a promise of more blooms to come from the many flowers Katherine planted when she was still able to garden.

It is too early for winter to be over, but these first glimpses of the coming spring are refreshing our spirits and lightening our moods.