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.

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