Monday, May 30, 2011

Good Times

Ever have one of those times when there are too many things you want and need to do than is humanly possible? We have just had too much on our calendar lately—two grandsons graduating from high school, one grandson graduating from 8th grade, end of semester plays, programs and softball games, reunions, medical appointments, and storms, and a great grandson’s 5th birthday party up in Aurora that we could not attend.

In between the rains and storms, our son-in-law is trying to get crops planted. In addition to all his own projects, Gerald wants to be available to help a little bit if Brian needs a ride to another place or something welded. One of Gerald’s most time consuming projects right now is mowing our huge lawn that is growing beautifully because of the excess rains.

I didn’t finish my list of errands nor go by to see Katherine on Wednesday while I was in town because I kept hearing warnings on the car radio that our region might be getting tornadoes at any time. I knew the chance that the tornado would hit in whatever area I might be in was slim, but the constant reports about Joplin made us aware that we needed to be careful. Activities and ball games were being cancelled; students and people were sent home from school and work early. Storm shelters were opened in churches and public buildings for those who needed a place of safety.

I was relieved when our car was in the garage again and out of danger of hail that hitting various spots in our region. And I was glad when Erin showed up to spend the night in our downstairs bedroom that is actually underground. Her car and her dog Sadie were sheltered in Gerald’s shop. I remembered two frozen pizzas in the freezer and fixed those and carried down to our downstairs family room where we ate supper and were glued to the television. Local weather reporting had replaced regular programming. Although we were not really afraid, we were prepared to run into the safe room under our front porch area if necessary. I was worrying about Katherine’s family, and she phoned to check on us.

One tornado was seen over Marion but did not touch down. We seemed to be between the two worst areas that were showing bright red on the screen. One tornado touched down and did a great deal of damage at a little town north of Mt. Vernon named Boyd that none of us had ever heard of before. We heard Union County, our home county, was in path of the storm, but it was Saturday at a family gathering down there that we learned that a tornado had actually touched down and damaged a cousin’s trees and other people’s property in a fairly small rural area there.

We grew bored by weather reports and the danger seemed to have passed, and we went on to bed. Erin was up early the next morning for her and Sadie and her cousin Sarah to head to Athens, Georgia, to visit her family and be there for the Super Regionals softball tournament to start at Athens on Saturday. Gerald fixed her an egg in the microwave for an egg sandwich and she was gone before I got up.

Thursday we both had appointments with a dermatologist way over at Murphysboro, which is why my face is temporarily scarred up from some zapping. But we had a good report, and that is what matters. We had stopped in Carbondale on the way over to empty our garage of all the recyclables and we had to stop by the audiologist in Carbondale on our way home. That night we hurried to Sam’s 8th grade program at 6 p.m. in a very crowded gymnasium with parking spaces all taken before we arrived though we were on time.

As some places do, the school avoided using the word “graduation” but called the evening a Recognition Program. The large class sat in folding chairs and filled the floor of the gym with a row of teachers at the side and dignitaries on a temporary stage. Many many awards were given before finally row by row each youth went forward to get a diploma or whatever you call what is given if it is not a graduation ceremony. Sam was one of the 15 students in the class that had made all A’s their 7th and 8th grade years, so we enjoyed seeing him on the front row although neither of us could hear in the cavernous gym. Evidently no one else could either because the audience kept a lot of conversations going all around me, and for some reason, there was a steady flow of people going in and out.

Gerald and I lost each other in the crowd after he came in from parking the car. I had to literally crawl up the bleachers to one of the few lowest seats available since the lower seats were all taken. I saved a spot for Gerald, but he did not find me even though I stood up and was waving. I began to wonder during this long program how in the world I was going to get back down without a handrail. I get dizzy in this kind of steep seating, and I was concerned. I was on the end of a row, and finally I got up my nerve and reached over and asked the sweet young man across from me on the other side of the un-railed steps if he’d let me hold his arm going down. As I knew he would, he was the perfect gentleman and agreed with a smile to help me. Only then I could relax and watch the graduates, and I clapped for every one of them as they were handed their rewards.

Afterward we hurried home and watched the ending of the first of the eight women softball NAAC Super Regionals strung out across the nation. Our Super Regional was not starting until Saturday night, but we were interested in all these 16 winners of Regionals who were going to be reduced to eight teams for the World Series in Oklahoma City starting at the end of this week.

We wanted to go to Elijah’s graduation up in the northern part of the state and especially so since he would be one of the speakers. We had heard him as an 8th grader give a great speech at that graduation, and we wanted to see him complete the circle. But a seven-hour trip was just a little overwhelming at this time as Gerald has been having some back trouble. So we stayed home, but I believed I’d always feel some pain that I did not get to attend. Of course, there was also that birthday party in that end of the state. (I am greedy about life.)

We were watching whatever softball games we could, but Saturday was the annual reunion of the students who went to the old Wolf Lake High School, which became a part of the consolidated Shawnee High School in the 1950s. We could not go when we were still farming, so Gerald especially likes to go now. This multi-class reunion always brings out-of-town oldsters back to their roots, and the local alumni go all out to give a really nice gathering. Gerald enjoys seeing old friends and catching up on their lives. I have tagged along enough that I know many of his high school friends, so I enjoy seeing them too and always meeting new ones. I happened to sit by Bob and Betty (Millis) Larrison, and I had a great time getting acquainted with them. I was surprised to find out that Betty was a sister-in-law to Gerald’s cousin Marjorie and they were headed there after this reunion ended.

We had just time to buy some flowers and head to the Jonesboro Cemetery before we were to go to a 5 p.m. 25th anniversary party for Steve and Debby Haldeman at her sister Irma’s house. We have talked for years about needing to have another Glasco-Wenger get together, and Gerald’s cousin Irma had invited us all there to do just that. It was a wonderful party with lots of time to see new little ones in the family and to visit with all the relatives. Tender ribs and yummy scented kabobs were carried in and added to the groaning dinner buffet for everyone to help themselves as people showed up as their schedules allowed.

The lovely tiered anniversary cake was made by Irma—something she and Debby used to do together. It seemed impossible that it had really been 25 years since we attended Debby and Steve’s wedding at the Wenger family farm. That particular wedding was memorable to us because Jeannie was doing a lot of long distance local bike riding in those days and had ridden to our farm from Carbondale. During our lunch we watched a show on television about these bicyclists riding across the nation. That afternoon we arrived at the site of the wedding and found out the bikers we had just watched on television were there on their bikes having ridden down from Chicago. They were the groom’s brothers. These young adults went on to start a successful bike touring business and have been riding here and abroad ever since. It was fun to see Steve’s parents again and hear a little more about these bikers that had impressed us so.

We were not very good guests because after dinner several of us hovered around the television set to watch the first Georgia-Baylor game in the Athens Super Regionals. Nor were we very happy when we lost. Since the winner of these tourneys must win two out of three, the final two games for us were yesterday afternoon.

After church yesterday morning, Gerald took me down to my family’s cemetery at Goreville to place flowers on the graves there, and then we enjoyed dinner at The Old Home Place—Pat and Tina Barger’s restaurant. It was good to see my cousin Joe Martin there, and he came and visited with me a long time. (He is a second-cousin once removed.) Like most people, I have great admiration for Joe because he has accomplished a great deal despite difficult odds. As a youth, he was a finalist in Special Olympics and even went to New York because of his ability. He keeps himself in great shape and dresses with crisp neatness and style. He proudly told me he had worked at the local grocery for 30 years now. He has collected thousands of dollars for charity by riding in bike-a-thons, and now he says he has added bowling and karaoke to his activities.

We hurried home to sit in front of the television again as we watched ESPN as Georgia hit five home runs and beat Baylor 14-2 in the second game of the series. We had forced the third game, and we were relaxed during the 30 minutes between games because we felt assured our Bulldogs would beat those Baylor Bears without any problem since we were on a roll. Sadly for us, Baylor came back and quickly pulled ahead and won handily with a 9-2 score. So Georgia will not be going back to the World Series for the third year in a row. Our family felt devastated, and soon remarks came up on Facebook expressing our disappointment.

I went upstairs to clean up a messy kitchen and turned on the television there. A news report was showing Tuscaloosa one month after their tornado. (One of the Super Regionals was held there where the campus had to be closed and graduation postponed till September, but the stadium was ok. Tournament visitors saw and experienced the destruction there.) Although I had rooted for Danielle Miller on Stanford’s team, who is such a great kid, I had to be happy for Alabama’s team, who after that terrible tornado trauma, won the right to go on to Oklahoma City. Seeing that news report about how many are without homes quickly put the softball loss into perspective. As our son Gerry said, “Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you!” Nevertheless, he is already at work for next year.

Leslie started downstate after her brother’s graduation yesterday, and she arrived at Woodsong at 2:28 this morning. I had slept on the couch and been up at 2, but still slept through her arrival when I lay back down. I woke up again at 3 and saw her car in the driveway and the unlocked door now locked, so I went on to my own bedroom. Like everyone, Leslie slept fine in that underground bedroom that is completely dark and quieter than the other bedrooms. It was mid morning when she came upstairs.

We had a good visit before she was back on the road to Nashville and her red-headed boyfriend, whom she was missing. She took a video of Elijah’s speech, so I can look forward to her putting it on You Tube. It won’t be a good as seeing/hearing it in person, but I have my perspective straightened out now. I am through pouting.

Les has worked as an R. A. in the dorms at Belmont the last two years, and she was eager to have her first apartment for her senior year. She and a girl friend have secured an apartment in their youth pastor’s home, and she is working two part-time jobs this summer to pay for it. Her car was loaded down with stuff from Freeport to add to her thrift-store finds, and she was so excited to have today to finish setting up her very first place before she starts back to work tomorrow.

Seeing her joy and anticipation helped my attitude also. I just changed the title of this blog from "Too Busy Times" to "Good Times."

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