Sunday, July 31, 2011


Three teen grandchildren—Elijah, Trent, and Brianna--spent last week helping in our village church with Vacation Bible School. Seems impossible that the little kids who used to come yearly to attend VBS are now old enough to work with the younger children—and they did a splendid job. I have to fight to keep from still seeing them as the little group that used to follow me into the grocery store like little ducklings. People would smile as we went by, and I would be so proud of those little guys.

But summers come and go, and seemingly suddenly these same kids are all grown up—two will start college in just a couple of weeks. They still make people smile, and I still know pride that they are my grandkids.

Our summer evenings used to be spent in local ball parks watching Gerry’s girls play softball. (We also watched Leslie at the Carterville park one summer and attended a game or two watching Elijah and Trent in far-away parks. If I remember right, preschooler Leslie was picking flowers in the outfield or something like that.) We still go to softball games, but now those games are usually in college stadiums or on TV. This spring we were cheering on the Southern Illinois University Salukis, for whom Tara used to play, because Erin was there at first base as assistant coach.

Now Gerry and Vickie’s youngest, Geri Ann, is about to enter her senior year of high school, and this week she is playing with Southern Force for her sister, Coach Tara Archibald, at Chattanooga at the Amateur Softball Association 16 and Under national tournament. I can remember tiny Tara playing with a broken arm one summer—with her doctor’s permission, of course. I’d be rambling around the park with Erin, and then a few years later when Erin was playing, I followed Geri Ann around making sure she did not fall into the creek that goes through Marion park—or was that just Erin? Elijah was there in a stroller and sunglasses for some of these long-ago games. At Harrisburg and Johnston City, Vickie always brought Geri Ann to the park in spotless condition fresh out of the tub--but with sand bucket and shovel. No child ever left the parks with dirtier clothes and face than she did. I remember that I supervised Sam in that Johnston City sand pile also. That was back when he would watch big league games on his living room television and run the imaginary bases there making a home run every time.

He came home Saturday night from his youth group’s mission trip to Joplin, MO, and I was blessed to be there at his home when he arrived. As we anticipated, the week working in Joplin had been life changing. He was fortunate to be on one of the groups working indoors—repairing things, salvaging filthy tables and other school equipment, and painting walls. He said that the roofing crew knew temps in the three digits on top of the tar-covered places some days. Major chain stores there are still operating in tents while new buildings are being built. He just kept remarking that photos cannot begin to capture the devastation there. And yet he said people have come together to solve their problems. Prayers are frequent on a daily basis in a downtown tent.

One of our families moved last week within their city, and two more will be moving soon to other locations. Our oldest great grandson will be starting kindergarten on August 9. Erin is still hobbling and taking antibiotics and enduring a major life style change, being confined to her house and watching more television than she has ever watched in her life. Her doctor says her knee looks good, and we hope she will soon be back to her usual active life.

While it was hard to act surprised, our family kept the Facebook messages flowing as we congratulated Mike Thompson and our granddaughter Leslie Eiler on their announced engagement. At his parents’ home in Ohio, Leslie finished reading Jane Eyre and received a proposal and she stammered yes. We are all admiring the ring on the posted photos.

Oh, there have also been promotions and awards in the family this month. And Leslie’s mother Jeannie rode 60 miles the other day on her bicycle, which deserves an award. So many changes and transitions have taken place this summer. Makes my head swim. But life was meant for transition. I was helped to appreciate all the summer’s growth and change by Sandra Henry, the daughter of my second cousin Shirley, whom I used to meet to play in the creek between Mt. Airy Farm and their farm home on another hill. Sandra posted today on Facebook: ”Once told that if you always did what you always did that you will always be where you always were. Much truth in this simple statement!“

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beach Ball Bible Basics

Beach Ball Bible Basics

1. What are the two main parts of the Bible? Old and New Testament.

2. How many books are in the Old Testament? 39

3. How many books are in the New Testament? 27

4. How many books are in the entire Bible? 66

5. What are the Ten Commandments? These were the ten instructions for people to live by written on stone tablets brought down from Mt. Sinai by Moses.

6. Where do you find the Ten Commandments in the Bible? Old Testament. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

7. If you want to know about Jesus, what testament do you look in? New Testament

8. What are the four books in the New Testament that tell the story of Jesus? The first four books--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--the Gospels.

9. Where can you find the story of Jesus’s birth? Matthew 1 and Luke 2.

10. Where can you find the longest recorded sermon that we have of Jesus? Matthew 5:7. Challenge: Read the Sermon on the Mount outloud and find out how long Jesus’s sermon was.

Directions for the game:

Child throws beach ball to another child to answer the question. Then draws a question from the basket and reads it.

If first child answers correctly, he gets to be the next thrower. If first child does not know answer, he/she throws it to someone else until correct answer is given.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crops Are Maturing

Bright green corn plants have replaced the golden stubble of harvested wheat in the field beside our lane. The plants seem a foot taller each passing day. There are no soybeans here on this farm, but as I drive through the countryside, tall green soybeans blanket former empty brown fields with their thick bushiness as far as the eye can see. I enjoy watching the growth. The fat deer I saw tonight enjoyed feasting on that growth. With this heat, I would not want to be out in those fields right now, but evidently the deer, who was on the edge of the field, can handle the heat.

One of the scariest times I ever had was when someone left a farm gate open and our three-year-old son escaped the yard and had taken off down that machinery road beside a field of corn in this kind of weather, Everyone on the farm started yelling for him and running down that road praying he stayed on the road and did not go into the field. Fortunately, he did and was having a wonderful time with his freedom when we found him. A little boy lost in that that maze of corn would likely have passed out for want of oxygen before dark came.

Gerald is feeling better and had his first physical therapy appointment today for his hurt shoulder. We will likely never know what caused his temperature to spike over the weekend. Maybe allergic to the pain pill prescribed for the shoulder? Whatever, he has not missed a day spending several hours outside in this steaming heat. Of course, with air conditioned tractor cabs, working out there is nothing like the old days when he ate dust and stayed drenched with salty sweat running down his face. But time outside the tractor and hours working in his shop still give him a daily dose of high heat. He claims his shoulder and other aching joints and muscles hurt less with the sun beating down than they do when he is nodding off in his easy chair in the air conditioned house. Nevertheless, I am always grateful when he is in that chair or on his computer during the hottest times of the day.

After two unexpected surgeries over the weekend because of infection caused by the previous surgery, Erin was able to go home Tuesday morning. A port will allow the constant supply of meds for two weeks as she hobbles around on her crutches with the rolling tower with its bags of antibiotics following her. Vickie, her mother, stayed with her constantly at the hospital and is there with her now in Erin’s house. The surgeon has assured her that the second weekend surgery showed her knee was without remaining infection, and the cultures came back without any bacteria growth. So we are hopeful that all is well except for the pain and the time lost. It has been a very scary time.

In the meantime, on Monday afternoon, I did some of the Carbondale errands that I had meant to do last Friday. I was able to join Vickie and Gma Shirley in Erin’s hospital room for another brief visit. My mornings this week have been studying Vacation Bible School materials in preparation for next week at our village church.

Tara’s family is coming down for a softball tournament here this weekend, and Gerry and Geri Ann are coming back up from Georgia. Sometime my three teenage grandchildren who are going to help in VBS will be arriving also. Only our youngest grandchild is still young enough to attend VBS, but she can’t come this year because of a camp conflict.

One by one the older kids have switched from being a student to being a VBS helper, but they still want to come and I am glad. Although Sam helped last year, he will be unable to this year because he is going with his church youth group to Joplin, Missouri, to help there with the World Changers organization. He has new heavy duty work shoes and his mother made sure his shots are all up-to-date. The kids here at Woodsong are going to miss him terribly, but we know he will have a life-changing experience in Joplin.

Erin was expecting during her work-filled summer to have a bit of fun keeping in shape and spicing her evenings with slow pitch softball. Instead she is experiencing the tough irony of an athlete being knocked off her feet by a sports injury. She’d had surgery on both knees a couple of summers ago because of years of catching, but she did the physical therapy work afterwards to be able to play in Europe all last summer and be active all this year as she coached and gave lessons. As tough as she has been, she has always been empathetic to others, but I do not doubt that this misfortune will make her even more so. This too will be life-changing. More than crops are maturing around here this summer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Still Busy and Weather Still Hot and Too Much Going On

Teachers were asked at the Trail of Tears Institute how much they spent each year for class supplies out of their own salary. If you had heard their answers, your admiration for today’s teachers would increase. Some of these teachers were very young (possibly with student loans yet to repay) and with houses to buy and little children to support. Some were older with possibly older children in college. All were probably taking graduate classes and facing those tuition expenses. Yet every one of them spoke of spending a minimum of $300 to supplement their provided supplies. Some of the older teachers estimated they might spend $2000 or so. If it is true that your treasure is where your heart it, these teachers’ hearts are in their classrooms with their students. The very classroom we were sitting in was filled with books, posters, and all kind of learning accessories—all provided by that particular classroom teacher.

Some of us from the Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association were meeting with these teachers who are preparing to use the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois as their theme for this year’s project using original resources. There were interesting sessions and I was glad to be there for three of the four days of the Institute. I hated missing Tuesday, but I had other obligations that day. I also left at noon on Thursday and didn’t attend the field trip to the Crabb-Abbott Farm in Pope County. I knew from personal experience that Joe and Ethel Crabb would be terrific hosts for this field trip, but I needed to get back to the farm for a previous Thursday afternoon commitment.

As I drove home, I just relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful tree-covered hills between Vienna and Woodsong. New Burnside’s steep hills are one of my favorite spots in our region, and the leafy trees are at the height of their summer green glory. With responsibilities behind me, I looked forward to a deliberate agenda of doing as little as possible for a couple of days so that I would be ready to dig into my study of Vacation Bible School materials next week.

I had lots to think about as I drove home and most of it was pleasant. Gerry and Geri Ann had been at our house Monday and Tuesday nights, and Vickie had driven up with Ansley, a Southern Force player, on Tuesday. There had been fishing and playing with their new puppy Molly along with the visiting.

On Wednesday morning we had waved them off as they headed for the home run hitting derby that evening in northern Illinois. That would be followed by Thursday and Friday pool play for the tournament that started today. A phone call Wednesday night had reported that for the second year in a row, Geri Ann had won the home-run derby, and so as I drove home Thursday, I was eager to hear how they had done in their first games that day.

Gerald had a standing doctor’s appointment that morning, so I expected to hear that all his blood work and other tests would come back good and he would be feeling chipper about that. And I was hoping the doctor would do something positive about his shoulder that was hurting him. Erin was meeting with her surgeon to get her “stitches” out after her ACL surgery, and she was so excited. I was very happy for her.

Sure enough, Gerald was able to report at our late lunch that everything was good on his check up, and he would start taking some physical therapy on his shoulder next week. Later he reported Southern Force won their pool play games that day. I checked my Facebook messages and saw Erin’s happy report that she would be seeing the surgeon. I usually take a light supper into town on Thursday afternoons for Katherine’s family, so that David knows that one night’s meal is taken care of. At their house, Katherine told me with tears in her eyes that Sam had seen a later Facebook entry from Erin. She was in Carbondale Memorial Hospital because there was infection in her knee and she would have to have two more surgeries this weekend. Suddenly life had taken a scary turn, and I could no longer anticipate a pleasant weekend.

By bedtime, Vickie had driven down from the top of the state and was already sitting up with Erin at the hospital. I doubt that she got much sleep that night, because Erin was in enough pain to make her restless. Rick, her boyfriend, who is working nights this week, had already been up for 24 hours but was preparing to sit up all night too. But Vickie and Erin persuaded him to go home for a little sleep. He was back at the hospital very early the next morning as the first surgery was scheduled for that morning. Gerald and I arrived at the hospital by 9:15, and a lonely teddy bear with its leg in a bandage was the only occupant of her room. Erin was already long gone being prepped.

A helpful nurse took us to where Vickie and Rick were waiting. The four of us waited together, and a nurse would report to Vickie every hour or so. Finally before noon, the nurse reported the surgery was over, and the surgeon would meet Vickie to explain all that he had done. When that time came, Vickie invited us all to go into the consulting room with the doctor, and we heard him explain how he had flushed and cleaned out the infection. He had made the decision to put in “beads” which were infused with antibiotics so that Erin would have the antibiotic right on the site of the infection as well as antibiotics given through the veins. Because of this, the second surgery would be tomorrow rather than today so that the “beads” could continue their work a little longer. The cultures taken on Thursday would not be back for a day or two yet, so a general spectrum antibiotic would be used until they knew what specific one to use. And we will be holding our breaths until then.

While Erin was in the recovery room, we left to meet friends for lunch that had already been planned before Erin’s bad news. Afterward, a phone call to Vickie told us that Erin was back in the room and it would be okay for us to come in and see her. We stopped at the gift shop to get a couple of roses to take up, and Rick came in to buy a beautiful balloon bouquet to go with the teddy bear. In her room Erin was wide awake and quite pert and smiling entertaining one of this year’s top softball players, her Gma Shirley, and her Aunt Chris. We added our roses to Gma Shirley’s and visited a little while and said our goodbyes.

After one brief errand, we were back at the farm and Gerald and I both felt a nap coming on. He put a heat pad on his shoulder and sat in his easy chair and was soon fast asleep. His sleep has been interrupted lately by this shoulder pain, so I felt very glad he was inside in air conditioning instead of outside working as he usually is despite the extreme heat and the painful shoulder. He had taken one of his prescribed pain pills, and I was not surprised that he slept as long as he did. I had had a full night’s sleep, so my nap was not so long.

At supper, he complained he really did not feel good at all and felt feverish. When our kids were little, I could almost give an accurate temp reading with my hand. I cannot do that anymore, but a single touch of his forehead let me know that he had more than a little fever. I put a thermometer in his mouth and it registered over a 101. He slept through the evening, but had a very restless night, and at 3:30 I could tell his fever was higher. We both assumed we’d be looking up an urgent care center today since his doctor does not have Saturday appointments. Nor would we be going back to the hospital to visit Erin as she recouped and prepared mentally for tomorrow’s second surgery. (I have never understood the two surgeries, but from the Thursday appointment on, that was the announced plan.) She wrote on Facebook: “Surgery went well. In pain but surrounded with people who love me :)”

When I got to the breakfast table this morning, I was glad I had prepared the breakfast coffee as usual and laid out dishes because Gerald was there already dressed reading the paper he had walked down the lane to retrieve as he does every morning, and he had no fever. His pajamas had been damp when he woke up, and he said that he guessed this was what the old timers meant when they used the expressed “sweating out a fever.” The next thing I knew, he had changed into his overalls and was outside working with the weed eater. I think he did take a nap this afternoon while I ran into Katherine’s, but when I returned, he had already fixed himself a supper sandwich and was out on the lawn mower again for an hour or more.

Meanwhile, the Southern Force lost their game today in this single elimination tourney, so the rest of Erin’s Georgia family will be driving down tomorrow instead of Monday. I am sure everyone is sorry about the loss, but Gerry and Geri Ann are eager to be here to see Erin. Gerry told us on the phone that he had his grandson Aidan sleeping in his hotel room last night, and Aidan had already told him he is going to sleep there again tonight.

There is always good mixed with the bad if we look for it hard enough, and I am sure Gerry and Geri Ann have enjoyed seeing Tara and Bryan and those three charmers—Aidan, Maddux, and Payton. But it is difficult to concentrate on the good when you are waiting for cultures to be returned from the lab.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Too Hot and Too Busy

Since I stay in air conditioned rooms most of the time, I should not complain about the 90 plus degree weather, so I won’t. I must complain about too many projects going at once and life not allowing me to finish one thing at a time. I have worked hard all week on various things and still stayed behind all week. That is why I have failed to blog.

I had not done anything this week that could be called recreation unless it was a little bit of reading and some research which I admit I consider fun. (My research is rarely original research. Mostly I find myself exploring other people’s research and sometimes my own to try and find an understanding of a subject.)

If anyone saw my book and paper-cluttered office, he/she would wonder how in the world I can get any work done in here. Me too. I love my roomy office hidden away in the back of our walk-out downstairs, but when a deadline for a presentation looms, I often find myself needing to spread out to the dining room table not only to have a clean surface for an over abundance of notebooks and papers but so I can keep an eye on whatever kitchen work I am involved with. Even with the proximity, I still may burn something as I divide my attention. (Of course, as an absent minded person, I can burn stuff even if I am not too busy.) Oh, if I must confess as I seem to be doing, I also have a pile of reading material to review in the living room too.

Geri Ann, our Georgia granddaughter, flew into St. Louis Thursday morning in order to o have a brief reunion with local friends and to attend the softball series between the National Pro Fastpitch USSSA Pride (with its former Olympians) and Diamonds at the Miners’ park. Her sister Erin and Erin’s boyfriend met her at the airport and brought her down.

So after the work week I’d had, I was delighted when Geri Ann and her friend CC Hutchinson (whom I don’t get to see often since Geri Ann moved to Georgia) and her cousin Sam came out to fish on the lake yesterday. I hurriedly fixed them a late lunch. I know I can always please my grandkids if I serve friend okra, and I thawed the remainder of the German chocolate cake from last week’s potluck that I had stuck in the freezer to keep from tempting Gerald and me. CC had never eaten fried okra, so she got initiated. (Since Gerald is cutting back his garden to mostly tomatoes and watermelon plants this summer, I don’t know what I am going to do when the okra in the freezer is gone. I guess I will have to check out local farmers markets.)

I was just as delighted when Erin hobbled in on her crutches to do some laundry. I had not been to see her since her ACL ordeal. I was reluctant to go by her place for fear she would be asleep or needing to go to sleep. I think I guessed right on that since she told me yesterday that she usually only gets four hours sleep until her meds wear off and she has to get up and ice her leg for awhile before she goes back in hopes of a second span of rest. I knew her cousin Sarah and her Gma Shirley and her boyfriend were in and out taking good care of her and seeing that she got to physical therapy when she couldn’t drive. I knew she would phone me if she needed me. This week she was able to drive short distances and began working some at the university again. Yet I know she is bound to be feeling pain.

Gerald was keeping Sadie so she would not jump on Erin, but the abundance of ticks here on the farm had us all worried despite the precautionary pill Sadie takes which keeps her tick-free in her own backyard where the tick population is evidently radically less than ours. So Gerald and Erin gave Sadie a bath, and she went home again with Erin, where she is often an inside dog unlike here. Hopefully she will sense that Erin can’t rough house with her and she’ll not be banished completely to the backyard.

Since CC left after the fishing to go to her grandmother’s, Gerald took Geri Ann and Sam to see the first softball game between USSSA Pride and the Diamonds. Erin sat in the handicapped section and was able to watch her old Texas A&M buddy Megan Gibson pitch again, and the Glasco fans were especially interested in the two University of Georgia alums—Brianna Hesson, who just graduated, and local standout Kristin Schnake of Nashville, IL. With Cat Osterman pitching for Pride, we were proud that Brianna got the only hit. Schnake, on the other hand, was hit by Osterman—twice.

I stayed home to continue working on a presentation coming up Wednesday for the Trail of Tears Institute this week at Vienna sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. A grant has enabled 12 local teachers to be chosen to help their students not only learn to use the Library of Congress primary sources but to study the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois. When Sandy Boaz, president of the Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association, was invited to have the Illinois TOT directors help with this project, she quickly accepted. Our TOT chapter has long hoped to increase the study in our schools of this historic event in our region and of the way our nation interacted with the people living here on the lands that eventually became the United States of America. This TOT study will provide a microcosm of this for these lucky students, and their knowledge of history, economics, politics, psychology, the depravity of humanity, and the goodness of humanity will be broadened. The teachers at the Institute will be from Pope, Johnson, and Union County where most of the 1838-39 TOT in Illinois took place. Joe Crabb will be telling about Pope County and Gary Hacker will share about Johnson on Wednesday. My responsibility will be to share about Union County and also the legend of Priscilla who was freed from slavery at Jonesboro.

There is so much information, misinformation, and twists and turns in this complicated story of the TOT that it is difficult to decide what would be most helpful to these teachers. I expect the dining room table will stay in service, and I have no hopes of straightening my office this week. And I may not blog again for another week. Now I need to go turn on the porch light because Dean and Lacey Newbold will be dropping Geri Ann off soon after tonight’s NPF game out at the Miners’ Rent One Park. Although he did do some ditch work at the other farm today, Gerald decided to stay in the air conditioning this evening and read about the games in tomorrow’s Southern Illinoisan.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Seeing the Countryside and the Family

Rocky Comfort Road, Water Valley Road, and Buffalo Gap. These road names are indicative of the terrain and the atmosphere we enjoyed as we traveled to and from the annual Glasco gathering at Gerald’s cousin Troy’s farm. This gathering originated as a birthday party for Gerald’s Grandpa Ben, his cousin Patsy, and cousin Paulie’s wife Stella. Ben and Patsy are no longer with us, but Pat’s daughters and granddaughters come long distances to be present for this occasion.

I’d had a frustrating morning discovering that I did not have enough eggs in the house for the cake and meat loaf I had carefully planned a couple days before. I had bought the ground chuck, checked that I had the right cake mix and icing (German chocolate) but never once considered my egg supply since usually there is an extra dozen or so in the little fridge in the garage. There wasn’t, and I told Sadie all about my sad story as I went in and out of the kitchen with her lying in the garage doorway blocking my entry whenever I came out.

I had no other meat thawed, so I had no choice but to jump in the car and drive as rapidly as I could to the little grocery on our side of town. I watched that I did not drive too rapidly because holiday traffic means extra cars and necessary police on the road. Fortunately, the grocery was almost empty and I was in and out quickly with a dozen eggs in my hand.

I had already cooked potatoes and carrots to add around the meat loaf, and I’d started both the cake project and the meat loaf mixture before I realized the egg shortage. Soon both were in the oven. Gerald had unexpectedly helped Brian move some farm equipment down to Brian’s leased land, so I was almost ready to pack up the food when Gerald was able to leave.

I was looking forward to the drive through tree laden hills on both sides of steep roads that lead to Troy and Bobbie’s farm. Often the trees meet overhead, and short bushes and vines beneath the trees fill one’s vision with green, green, green. When we were not in forest areas, there were black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, and tiger lilies at roadside.

As usual Troy and Bobbie were prepared for a crowd with multiple picnic tables under their towering maples and a garage full of tables and chairs along with the tables there for potluck offerings and soft drinks. As always, there was an abundance of food including someone’s home-made chicken and dumplings and a delicious selection of cakes and other delicacies.

And later in the afternoon, there was two freezers of home-made ice cream. Gerald’s cousin Wilma had made the freezeer full (the one I sampled)at l0 that morning. After emptying all the ice and repacking it, she had a firm and delicious cream for us to enjoy all those hours later in the 93 degree heat, which fortunately was softened by the shade of the trees and sometimes a touch of a breeze.

Coming home I was delighted when Gerald decided go a different way and to take Buffalo Gap. Here the black top road is replaced with gravel, the hills are even steeper, and you wonders what you’ll do if you meet another car on the one-lane road that goes on for miles. It made me think about what the early Glascos had felt when they traveled that same road in wagons and buggies. Troy’s grandson Spenser had brought out the original large Glasco family photograph in its ancient scarred ornate frame that hangs in Troy’s house. There was William Price Glasco and his third wife Lucretia from whom our branch of the family descended. In addition to their children, there were also children and grandchildren from the first two wives. Our Grandpa Ben was the youngest son and just a young teen when this family with multiple branches gathered long ago probably around 1890. It was likely that they ate together around loaded boards held up by carpenter horses that day when the photograph was taken. We are thankful for a continuation of that family fellowship and love.