Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Pleasures

Despite driving home from Katherine’s last night in the snow and waking to a white lawn here at Woodsong this morning, I enjoyed spring. In the center of our dining room table is a bouquet of daffodils that grandson Sam presented me with Saturday from his mother’s lamp post planting.  He must have read my blog that I was wishing for a daffodil bouquet, and I certainly appreciated their beauty as I sat doing paper work at the table all morning.

I used the two angel food cake mixes that did not get made on Monday at the end of the week.  One was Gerald’s birthday cake—un-iced and perfect for a disciplined guy who does not intend to develop diabetes.  We ate his steak dinner sitting in front of the computer watching granddaughter Geri Ann win the first of the three game sweep this past weekend against Ole Miss.  He had gone to Union County for his traditional birthday breakfast with his brothers that morning. 

I was relieved to find out that even his brother Garry made it to the breakfast because I had learned when I awoke that Garry had to take his wife Ginger to the hospital after midnight.  Their daughter Vicki Sue texted me.  She was being a good Samaritan that day to get Katherine dressed and ready for some ordered tests over at St. Joseph Hospital in Murphysboro.  Our pastor was the other good Samaritan, who was driving the van.   I was resting at home all day!  (I was go in for the evening after the ball game and perhaps stay the night—but as it turned out, we were able to secure a new weekend night person, so at the end of the evening, I came home and slept in my own bed.)

Garry told Vicki to go ahead and take care of Katherine just as she had planned, and he and her brother Kerry would take care of Ginger.  When I read the text, I figured that Gerald would be spending his birthday over at Cape with Garry.  But Garry was able to bring Ginger home by 5 a.m., and Kerry stayed with her while Garry drove in for Gerald’s breakfast celebration.  The doctors thought she had had a reaction to meds.  So after his special breakfast, Gerald had a pleasant day with lots of birthday phone calls and Facebook wishes even though his original plan to go on an  out-of-state was cancelled earlier in the week.

The second angel food cake mix provided me with a dessert for our church pot luck yesterday.  I am not sure I had ever seen such a large dessert table as showed up at that potluck, but the angel food cake was enjoyed enough that I only had a few pieces to bring back home.   Neva Woolard was not so fortunate.  I teased her husband George that I was sorry I ate the last piece of her homemade strawberry/rhubarb pie because everyone at our table was telling me how delicious it was and I just had to try that last piece!  Her pies are beautiful to look at and luscious to eat.

I took a plate of the potluck food on into Katherine’s house for her to enjoy although she could not see the colorful dining room decorations with Easter buckets of spring flower arrangements on all the tables. 

I was relieved when the Sunday night worker came a half hour early because it was snowing hard, and I was nervous about driving back to the farm if it turned slick.  It didn’t.  We usually have about the same temperature and weather as Saint Louis, just a little north of us, but we have not had anything like the bad weather they had yesterday and today.

When I got home this evening I was delighted to read that for the second time Geri Ann has been chosen Southeastern Conference Freshman Softball Player of the week.  (Last week University of Georgia’s Tina Iosefa received that honor.)  Geri Ann was also chosen for national honors as College Sports Madness National Player of the Week.  If you want to see UGA play, you can google their website and go to the softball page and watch their Wednesday game against Georgia Southern, which will be at 5 p.m. our time here in the Central Time Zone.
Here’s the article from the University of Georgia website that made my day when I came home tonight:

March 25, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. Georgia freshman Geri Ann Glasco has been named the Southeastern Conference Softball Freshman of the Week and the College Sports Madness National Player of the Week for March 18-24. It is the second time this season that Glasco has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week and the first time she has earned national recognition. It is the third SEC Freshman of the Week honor for the Bulldogs this season, as Tina Iosefa earned the honor last week. 

Glasco helped the Bulldogs (25-7, 6-0 SEC) to a 4-0 record last week. She helped pace Georgia’s offense last week, hitting .600 with six hits, five of which were home runs. She also slugged 2.100 and had an OPS of 2.788 after reaching base nearly 70 percent of the time in four games. She led the team with eight RBI and scored a team-best seven runs in four games. The Watkinsville, Ga., native belted a home run in four straight games, including one in each game against Ole Miss. 

In the second game against Ole Miss last weekend, Glasco recorded her first multiple home run game, hitting home runs in consecutive at bats. She hit her third home run of the day in her first at bat of the second game of the double header against Ole Miss, bringing her total to three home runs in three at bats. The five round-trippers last week brought her season total to a 12, tied for most on the team and most ever by a Georgia freshman. 

In addition to her offensive numbers, Glasco led the Bulldogs in the circle, picking up three wins to improve to 15-1 on the year. She combined for two no hitters and two shutouts in her three appearances last week. She allowed just six hits in 12 innings of work and struck out eight. 
For the season, Glasco leads the team with a .452 batting average, a .935 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .542.

Glasco and the Bulldogs return to action on Wednesday, March 27 when they look to win their 16thstraight game as they host Georgia Southern at 6 p.m., at Jack Turner Stadium.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Softball and Spring

Since February, many of the conversations around here have been about University of Georgia’s softball games.  We are again having meals in front of game tracker on the computer in Gerald’s office, and already Gerald and his nephew DuWayne have had two trips to see UGA play.  They attended the first opening tourney at Athens, and then last weekend enlisted Sam, who was on spring break, to go with them to games at Auburn University in Alabama.   The weather there was warm and beautiful, and three wins made the outing quite a success.  The many homeruns confirmed the team’s improved batting, and everyone came home happy.

Little Payton, our youngest great grandchild, had chosen to come along with his Gma Vickie while his two older brothers elected to stay home in Athens under their dad’s watch care.  So Payton’s unexpected presence was another plus adding to Sam and Gerald’s weekend enjoyment.  Come to find out, Vickie’s mother (Gma Shirley) had caught a ride down to Athens with her son who was going through, so she was at Athens too and able to attend church with Bryan and the older boys, Aidan and Maddux.  So I know those two little guys had plenty of adoring attention also.

A few weeks ago I was thrilled, as I am each year, to see the crocus coming up beside Katherine’s  front sidewalk from bulbs she had planted in healthier and happier years.  Since it was still winter, the snow came, and I assumed the yellow buds beneath the snow were destroyed.  Happily, after the snow melted, there the sturdy blooms were fully opened and more vibrant than ever.  A second snow covered them, and I thought that might be their demise, but the second melt left them still lovely proclaiming that spring was around the corner.  At that time I was also watching and enjoying the  flowering of roadside daffodils, which had come up in their annual abundance before the second snow.  They too continued to thrive after the melt.  Since then, Katherine’s precious miniature daffodils have joined the crocus and their bigger relatives beside the lamp post and sidewalk to welcome in spring today.

Gerald wanted me to go along to Auburn since I suspect he knows it may be harder each year for us to travel to see Geri Ann play college ball. However, I knew we only had day-time hours covered for Katherine’s care, so I did not consider going.

I went out the Thursday afternoon before they left knowing that the young woman who comes for that night (and two other nights a week) had been having car trouble after her car accident and probably would not make it. (She thought she had her car fixed with a new part she bought, and she made it one night the previous week before the car broke down again.)  An older college student, she had been coming three nights a week for some time.  She was pleasant company and faithfully there to lift and adjust Katherine as needed. Then after the part did not solve the car problem, the car was in the shop for a couple of days. Then it still would not run.  So there had been frantic last minute phone calls from her area town about catching a late-night taxi or getting a friend to bring her before the friend went to work.  But the negative results of those calls made me expect that she would not to be there that night either, so I was prepared to spend the night.

Although the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday day-time care giver had had to transport someone to Chicago the previous weekend (an assignment from her regular job), she was scheduled to be there those three days, and I knew she was quite competent.  My plan was to try to get night time care arranged for those same days, but if that did not work out, I knew I would be rested to fill in.   So when I finally saw Katherine arranged comfortably in bed  that Thursday night (long after midnight), I  knew the day worker would relieve  me at 8 the next morning when DuWayne was meeting up at the farm with Gerald and Sam, who had spent the night there, and they were leaving for Auburn.  

I would go home to an empty house with plenty of time to rest and try to enlist more help.
What I did not expect was the early morning phone call from the day worker trying to explain through pain and tears that she had a tooth break off in her sleep and must go to the dentist that very morning.  Or at least I thought that was what she was telling me with her garbled speech and my hearing aids not on.   Next came two or three text messages, since she could not talk, apologizing for crying because of the terrible pain.  I assumed she would get taken care of and be there the next two mornings.  Katherine had a long-time employee who now is back in school and just comes every Friday afternoon for four hours and helps her with paper work and whatever is needed. So after I spent the unexpected morning there, I hurried to the farm for fresh clothes and a breather before the night.  There was no time to try to find a brand new night worker for the weekend.  But I figured that was okay as the tooth problem would be solved and that aide would be able to show up Saturday morning.

By that night, however, she was in the hospital for over night as a result of the tooth, which was absessed and poisoned her system or something.  A text said she’d be out on Saturday. Evidently the whole episode was even more serious than I thought because she was not able to come in on Sunday either.  Her cousin, who was supposed to work over night Sunday to replace the girl with car trouble, was suddenly called in to fill he place of the tooth-troubled aide at the group home where she works.   But at least I knew Monday morning was covered by a most reliable employee and the afternoon by another extremely reliable worker.  It is usually two or three in the morning before Katherine is adjusted to be able to sleep, but she made a point  of not calling for me, as she had also kindly done the night before, and I got several hours of steady sleep before the Monday morning sunshine work me up. The cheerful morning worker, who is dealing with her husband’s recovery from surgery last week, arrived at exactly 7:20 all smiles with every hair in place.   I stayed to help her for a couple of hours when suddenly her phone rang telling of a death in their family.  Since her husband has breathing problems and was taking the death hard, she phoned their nearby grandson to go stay with her husband.

I knew she might have to leave early, but the afternoon worker is just as experienced and dependable so I felt comfortable leaving.  Katherine urged me to go home and get some rest.  What she did not know was I was scheduled to host the monthly women’s meeting from our church that night.  Leaders had said I did not need to fulfill my turn to open my house for the meeting, but I did not think it would be a problem since I did not know all these various cancellations would occur.  I haven’t been able to attend many of these meetings this year, and I thought it would do me good to be involved with a happy gathering. So after checking with the one to give the devotional that night, I wanted to have my turn at my house and had it announced.  

Since I could not decide if I wanted to fix ham salad sandwiches or chicken salad, I had already decided that I would put out various kinds of bread and let everyone make their own sandwich.  (I have made my own chicken salad a few times in my life, but now I am inclined to purchase it at the local warehouse store; and if I want to make it more personal, maybe I cut up some grapes in it.  I also have another store where I like to buy ham salad.)
I had made a couple of  angel food cakes without icing  when it was my turn to help with refreshments at Women’s Club in February, so I thought I’d do that again for these friends.  That was an interesting experience because one of the three of us to do refreshments had phoned and said she had napkins and everything bought and had the recipe and planned to make red velvet cake. I haven’t been able to attend but one previous meeting this year, so I said let me make an angel food cake for any diabetics present and also make a red punch to fit in with the Valentine theme.  She assured me I did not need to do that, but agreed I could.  The day before that meeting, she phoned with the awful news that her sister’s 45-year-old son had dropped dead of a heart attack totally unexpected and, of course, she must go to Kentucky to be with her sister. But, she said, the third member of our committee was back in town and she had taken supplies to her house and commissioned her to buy some sweet little red velvet cupcakes at the warehouse store instead of her homemade one.  That sounded like a fine plan to me. 
For many years if I make an angel food cake (from a mix), I have always made a second one at the same time—hardly any extra trouble.   I might send the extra one home with granddaughter Brianna, who likes them, or take it to a shut-in or freeze the extra. So that is what I did that morning, but then I debated whether it would be silly or not to carry in the extra cake with the punch bowl, ice ring, etc. that I needed to carry in to the library meeting room.   The angel cake was supposed to just supplement the red velvet cupcakes.  Fortunately, I decided to take both cakes. 

I went plenty early to set up, and there I learned that although the napkins, candies, and tablecloth were brought by the president, the cupcakes (main refreshment) were not there because that committee member had to go to the hospital the night before. Whew!  I knew we now needed two cakes, and I had them in the room.  We had a wonderful program with three speakers, and as usual, they were first on the agenda so they could leave before the business meeting if they chose to do so.  And as usual, they were invited by the president to help themselves to the refreshment table as they exited.  When one man gratefully said, “Oh, I will take an extra piece for my landlady,” I knew my decision to carry in two cakes was the right one.  
The elderly ladies (my age group are the young members!!) were most kind and seemed to really enjoy the freshly baked un-iced angel food. The tall white cake on a lovely white pedestal cake plate that author Hua-ling Hu had given me looked very pretty on the red tablecloth.  So I bought two more cake mixes planning to repeat that success at my house with my church friends.

I digress.  Back to this week’s  situation—although I had spent an unplanned night away from home, I still had  a day to prepare for the Monday night meeting—picking up all the clutter of reading material I’d left in the living room and the dirty dishes I had left Friday afternoon when I expected to be back home the next morning.  In the meantime, Gerald, DuWayne, and Sam had returned to the farm after midnight Sunday, and of course there was stuff carried in from their trip. 

When I left Katherine’s that morning, I knew I needed to pick up the chicken and ham salads at two different stores, but I would have time that afternoon to whip up the angel food cakes because they are so easy to make.  I already had the breads, chips, party napkins, and pretty candies in spring colors—even some yellow Peeps.  I decided the most important thing I could do that morning was to get a much needed hair cut and shampoo, so I went to the beauty shop and gratefully saw my favorite beautician, who always makes me feel like a new person.  I was so pleased that finally I was getting that respite and relief from hair in my face, and I relaxed.

 I am not sure who called first, but the afternoon worker phoned to say she had stomach flu, and the morning worker had heard from her grandson that her husband was not doing well and she better leave even earlier than planned. (She is so fine an aide that I was amazed at all she accomplished while she was there.) I rushed on to the stores for the sandwich spreads and picked up some pretty springtime looking miniature cupcakes and some of those red velvet ones I’d been told about.  Oh, and some yummy chocolate cookie-candy type treats in a tray that I could put directly on the buffet.  Since I would need to take the place the afternoon worker, the angel food cakes would have to wait for another time.  I had not really had a relaxed meal since I was home Friday afternoon, so after I picked up the ham salad, I decided I would stop at a close by local eatery that serves good breakfasts.  Unfortunately it was now eleven, and they quit serving breakfast at l0:30. They are also famous for their barbecue, so I ordered a sandwich and fries to go with my coffee—something I miss most at Katherine’s house.  After I saw an enticing list of pies on their blackboard (another thing they are famous for), I added a piece of raisin pie as an after thought. 

Well fueled, I left to go back to Katherine’s.  A friend and husband had come in, so as I left I stopped at their table and asked if she’d be at my house that night.  She suggested that I simply cancel, but since I had been told for certain the night worker was coming at 7, I knew it would much easier to have the meeting than to find time to make phone calls to cancel. 

I got home after five and loaded the dish washer and bathed and put on clean clothes.  Gerald helped me get down the punch bowl and serving plates.  I stirred up a punch and had an ice ring left from the Women’s Club meeting, and I fixed a pitcher of ice water.   I can honestly say I experienced  very little stress because I knew the church friends would pitch in and help me and completely understand anything I failed to get done—one of which was the clutter of reading material.  Sure enough, our pastor’s wife arrived early to help and soon another friend showed up, and the three of us had things pretty much organized by the time the others arrived at 6:30.  I pushed the button on the coffee pot, so we could smell it brewing during our meeting.  Jeannie had given us a special Freeport Blend from one of their local coffee shops, and I had deliberately saved it for this meeting. 

At the last minute, our president Kim Barger made her first public appearance since her very painful shoulder surgery—her husband brought her since she still cannot drive.  She could not play the piano for us either, but Charlene Morris led us as we sang a cappella  The hymns were unusually beautiful that way.  (I thought of our friend Loretta White, who now lives in South Carolina, who always loved our singing.)  After our devotional by Deanna Odom and a business meeting, the dozen of us in attendance moved to the kitchen and dining room area.  (My earlier helpers were there to put the last-minute things from the fridge to the buffet.) Soon the room was filled with conversations and laughter, and I knew my decision to go on with the meeting was the right one. It did do me good just as I thought it would. There were lots of hugs and loving things said as we parted, and I slept very well with the dish washer humming again.

Last evening I felt things were in good shape when I left Katherine’s, and good help was to be there today, so I felt no need to go in. Today I mostly piddled and rested. The first day of spring looked warm out the windows. However, when I went out to share table scraps with Jake (that is why he likes me), I felt how biting the wind was.  Today’s UGA softball game at home in Athens was on video as well as game tracker, so we enjoyed seeing our son and granddaughters Tara and Geri Ann as we watched on the computer.  Gerry and Tara were wearing warm coats and the trees were swaying around the ball field, so I know they were having a windy day too. Since the game ended mercifully at five innings (14-0 in UGA’s favor) Gerald and I were able to eat supper afterwards upstairs in the kitchen—dining on sandwiches from the spreads left over from Monday’s party.  

I did regret that I did not have time to stop and pick daffodils from the roadside for the tables Monday as that is a springtime tradition I have. But I will enjoy them tomorrow as I drive to town  and may find time to pick a bouquet yet someday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Doings

When we got the newletter telling about the Continuing Education conference yesterday at John A. Logan College, I signed Gerald and me up to attend.  With all the cancellations and problems of Katherine’s aides, however, I had become convinced we’d have to miss it.  And we did miss the first session, but happily we arrived in time to hear Chris Villillo presenting “Abraham Lincoln in Song.”  I think it was the best lecture/concert I have ever heard.  His research on both that era and his knowledge of musical history was fantastic and presented in the most engaging way.  He had the audience totally absorbed as well as participating in his music with hand clapping and singing.  I learned more in that hour about Lincoln that will stick than I think I have in my lifetime of reading and hearing about this 16th President.

Who knew that Lincoln was a musician?  As he traveled the circuit as a lawyer staying overnight in the taverns of that day with his fellow lawyers, he not only gained his reputation as a master story teller, but he also could slip a tiny Jew’s harp from his pocket and join in as the men sang popular songs of that day. 

I had no idea what a Jew’s harp was, but Villillo gave us a demonstration as well as a brief history of the Jew’s harp, jaw harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp, English trump, guimbarde, and many other names this ancient instrument was called.  He said while Lincoln may have acquired his harp for a penny, Villillo had to pay $7 for the one he was playing.  He warned us that if we bought one for ourselves or a grandchild (my plan) to be sure to be aware that one  can take out a chip from a tooth if not played correctly.  This happened to him at an important occasion in front of one of our governors before he went to prison—a common occurrence for Illinois governors unfortunately. 

As he entertained us, Villillo played other antique instruments including a hammer dulcimer similar to one playing the waltz when Lincoln invited the lovely Miss Mary Todd to dance with him at that Springfield party at her sister’s home.  He had introduced himself by saying he wanted to dance with her “in the worst way.”  When she reported to her girlfriends afterward, who were very interested in this popular young gawky lawyer, she assured them that he stepped on her feet in the worst way.

One of the neatest things about yesterday’s conference was seeing so many friends that I haven’t had opportunity to see or have lunch with because of their busyness and mine.  It was great to be able to sit through one session with Marilyn Schild, who will soon be leading a tour to Puerto Rico, and to exchange hugs and brief conversations with Mabel Hayes, Marie Samuel, Dorothy Rudoni, Kara Webb, and others.  It was also fun to meet new people.  The noon-day meal was delicious and so was the fellowship.

A nice ending to a day, which started after I arrived back to the farm with Gerald fixing me a bowl of oatmeal,  was a sandwich supper I served to Gerald and our son-in-law Brian.  I went to bed early and slept well.

Katherine’s continued suffering is one of the most difficult and saddest things I have had to experience in life, and the joke was on us about the understanding nurse who said to come anytime before four that March 1 Friday that I last wrote about.  We hired an extra aide to help me and Jeannie and worked as fast as we could all morning  to get Katherine there that afternoon before four despite the rain outside.  About two, however, someone from that office called that an office meeting had been called, so not to come after all. That particular nurse or caller was amazed when Katherine told her what she and I both heard the nurse say  that no appointments for a couple other procedures would be necessary.  So that caller told her what we would have thought had we not been told otherwise that, of course, those procedures must be scheduled.  The caller said  someone would call her with new necessary appointments.  So far no one has called unless they did yesterday after I left in the early morning.  I will be going in soon and find out.