Thursday, May 30, 2013

May Time Festivities

Flags were flying along the roadside for Memorial Day weekend as I drove into our village to attend a wedding Saturday.  It was a sweet wedding with the bride’s young adult son and daughter serving as attendants. Nephews were ushers, and bought in the bride’s mother in her wheelchair. (Someone told me a photo of the bride’s late father was there with her in the pew.) Beautiful music was provided by a sister and young friend. Another sister and family had come from the Washington, D.C. area, and cousins and an uncle had come down from northern part of the state. Her only brother, a skilled chef, was in the church kitchen preparing a sumptuous dinner for the reception after the ceremony. A brother-in-law was chosen to escort the bride, and when asked who was giving the bride away, his reply was, “Her family.”  I liked that answer because this scattered but close knit family was all there to support the couple in this village church their grandparents had attended.  I felt as if groom was being added to their family even more than she was being given away.

Our weekend treat was the unexpected visit of Gerry and Vickie, our son and wife and granddaughter Geri Ann.   I was spending Friday night at Katherine’s, but I bought barbecued pork steak from Small’s that I knew Gerry liked.  So with that simple supper, I had time to enjoy their arrival before I left. They always tell me not to cook, but I like to have them at our table.  Their goal as Gerry texted on the way up was to fish and fish and fish.  And they did.  Geri Ann, of course, was soon off to her old hometown to visit her Johnston City friends and catch up on happenings there. 

Vickie and Geri Ann had lunch and an afternoon in town with Vickie’s mother, who came onto Katherine’s where she visits and helps her on Saturday evenings. When I got back to Woodsong from the wedding and then Katherine’s house again, Gerry was out in the shop cleaning fish, but we all had a simple supper together with fresh strawberry short cake for dessert, Gerry and Vickie and her brother Louie and nephew Drew had caught plenty of fish for a fish fry at Louie’s house Sunday afternoon and also to put a supply into our freezer.  With the final washing of the fish in the kitchen sink, people went to bed with our house definitely smelling fishy, but they were a happy crew for the pleasure and success they had experienced on the lake. 

It was especially good to have Gerry and Vickie with Geri Ann sitting with us at worship on Sunday morning. We were invited to dinner at the fish fry, but I was planning on going to Katherine’s and I think Gerald was ready for a nap.  Of course, we suspected we would have fish brought to us anyhow, and we were not disappointed with the fish and shrimp and potatoes Vickie carried over. There were also small plastic bags of the same that I could take to Katherine’s, and that is what she had for supper tonight.

After Brianna’s recovery from wisdom tooth removal, she and her mother Mary Ellen were able to join Brian and Trent in their home here on Sunday, where they will be spending more and more time now that school is out.  Their urgent family goal is to get their crops planted after all this wet weather.  Mary Ellen was pitching in with the farming but she did come over to Woodsong for a brief visit and brought a Mother’s Day gift.  Unfortunately, I was at Katherine’s and missed her.  But the cousins had a get-together at Trent and Brianna’s house, and then those two came to Woodsong to stay up late Sunday night visiting with Geri Ann before their family went back to Georgia early Monday. Since Katherine’s regular aide was unable to come that night, Gerry came in and put Katherine to bed and I spent the night.  So I didn’t get to send them off, but Trent and Brianna were still here when I got back to the farm.  They didn’t stay around long, but they knew I was going to be napping shortly.

This afternoon Sam and his buddy Josh came out with their bikes in Josh's pickup, and rode over to Sarahville road and back.  They were hot and sweaty when they stopped by afterwards, but I teased they had a ways to go before they caught up with Jeannie, so I gave them no pity. Earlier I had 
reluctantly carried out the bouquet Jeannie’s family had sent me for Mother’s Day.  It had stayed lovely for over a week, but no longer. The rose petals on the dining room table had to be gathered and the cloth removed for the laundry.   So it had to go after I rescued the five remaining daisies that were still pretty enough to fill a little vase on my kitchen window sill.  The May festivities are over, but those daisies will keep me remembering the good times.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More Softball Heroines

I had meant to talk about Myra Branch in my previous blog about UGA softball.  Not only has it been fun to watch this fast-running senior  play great softball, I have found out about her inspiring success off the field.  How any student accomplished this must public service and played ball at the same time is amazing.  I hope you enjoy reading about her as much as I did.  Check this out:

Also I just saw this story that my son shared on Facebook.  Again some things are far more important than winning.  Read this story about a remarkable young lady--Rachele Fico.

Here is Gerry's Facebook comment and the link: Great article about a father and his daughter. A amazing player and more importantly, person is Rachele Fico! I also think I will make a note to remember that a player may have more than just simply softball going on in their life. I was able to meet and talk with Rachele this past summer on several occasions and she is quite an amazing person. Also, she is a bright reflection of the man that Ray Fico was. RIP Ray

It's All Over Now--for our 2013 Team

Granddaughter Geri Ann’s freshman year is over now at University of Georgia, and so is her first year of playing college softball.  Gerald and I went down to her first college game last fall during the practice season, and he and nephew DuWayne attended some games during the regular season.  This past week as the Georgia Dawgs earned the honor to play in the Regionals, we were often glued to the television in the family room.  I am sure that 63 other sets of softball fans also spent much of the past weekend watching as those 64 teams were pared down to the 16 champions to move on to the Super Regionals this weekend.

Friday was our first game and we watched as long as we dared before we jumped in the car and hurried half way up the state for Brianna’s graduation.  Gerald phoned ahead and told Mary Ellen to save us seats because we should be there at least by the benediction.  As it turned out, we were 15 minutes early with time to go to the restroom and find our family in the crowded gym.  However we saw one huge line of traffic in the opposite southbound lane that caused us to feel fortunate to be north-bound.  We might not even have made the benediction. 

When we left Woodsong, we knew our Dawgs were ahead of San Diego State by 6-3, but at this level of play, anything can happen.  So we were making phone calls and were delighted to find out when we reached the graduation that we won 9-3, and that Geri Ann had four singles and was chosen as Player of the Game.  In these double elimination tourneys, you hope to keep in the winners’ bracket because it is tough to have to play more games and then need to defeat non-losing twice to win first place.

Since we came on home yet on Friday night, we were able to watch UGA play Arizona State in our family room on Saturday evening to decide who would go into the losers’ bracket.  (Actually I started watching the game at Katherine’s house where I was working on the coming week’s meds.  Gma Shirley came in smiling with a fountain drink for Katherine and they were watching in her family room and yelling at me when Geri Ann was up. But I hurried back home as soon as I could to watch with Gerald.) We knew that the #5 seed and the team with Dallas Escobedo as pitcher was quite a challenge. So we were pleased when our Anna Swafford had a two-out single and broke up Escobedo’s no hitter. But Escobedo’s 11 strike outs explain how we lost 2-0 and ended up in the losers’ bracket. 

That meant we had to play an elimination game later that night against San Diego State again since they had defeated San Jose in the losers’ bracket.  They came back strong from the night before, but we were able to win 3-2 thanks to Paige Wilson’s three-run homer.  I love watching this redhead sophomore from Chicago hustle and do her thing. Of course, I love watching all these Dawgs play.  Freshmen Kaylee Puailoa and Tina Iosefa came here from Samoa by way of California, and their home runs have been an exciting part of UGA’s home run record season.  And my favorite to watch may be Naija Griffin, a little sophomore who runs like a deer and can fool the other team with a hard driven hit as well as a bunt. She and senior Christine Olney made some spectacular catches out there in the field also. Freshman Samantha LaZear is another fleet footed player who beat the ball to first, stole second, and then made it to third on an error.  Catcher Katie Brown has one of the best arms in college softball, and she too helped made sure Morgan Montemayor get this second win of the tournament for UGA. 

We sat down to watch championship play on Sunday knowing if we lost that our season was over.  We also knew if we won, we would have to turn around 30 minutes later and play Arizona State a second time to win the chance to move on to Super Regionals.  Freshman pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson soared during the last part of our season and did a magnificent job for UGA, but unfortunately Arizona moved ahead 2-0 in the first inning.   Once again we faced Escobedo, and once again after that first inning  she and Morgan Montemayor, known affectionately as “Mo” were pitted against each other.   Mo was back home in Arizona for this tourney, and she and Escobedo had each led Arizona high school teams to championships.  It was fun to watch the camera pan Mo’s family in the stands, and she did us proud with three scoreless innings against this outstanding team.  Despite senior Tess Sito’s single and move to second on a bunt by Olney, we never scored.. (Tess has signed to play professional ball next year.)  So our season ended with a 40-21 record. We did not get the play that second championship game against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State will be playing Kentucky at Lexington this weekend, and I am sure we will be watching, but not with the interest we would have if Georgia had been the one to move on to Super Regionals
It is over for us, but eight other teams surviving this weekend will move onto Oklahoma City for the NAAC Nationals.  With the tornado destruction in that area of our nation, I am sure this will be a sobering experience for these players as well as the usual exhilarating time that players enjoy when they make it all the way to Oklahoma.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Rite Circumstance for Tears and Joys

With Brianna’s other grandmother, Gma Dot, on one side of me and her mother on the other side, I was fishing for tissues and handing them out to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”  I did pretty well until the pretty graduate in the row in front of me started crying, and then my eyes teared up so I would fit in. Ha. 

Brian and Gerald were on the other side of Mary Ellen, so I didn’t see if they teared up or not.  Afterwards even though the graduates had thrown their much decorated mortarboards into the air with great glee and then filled their front of the gymnasium with streams of colorful spray strings, these same graduates were soon in tears as classmates hugged and were greeted by their special friends.  Gerald said he had never seen so many tears—he thought commencement services were supposed to be happy.  And they are, of course, but end of an era is also often appropriately grieved.   (After my high school graduation, someone lined up “our gang” and took a photo, which I never ever saw.  Nor did that group of close friends ever again be all together at same time.  Nor will they ever be since one of us is gone. Yes, there are reasons for tears.)

Gma Dot and I could not have been prouder as we saw our sweet lovely Brianna do a great job with her valedictorian speech.  Having just moved to Lincolnwood High School district four years ago, Brianna was at a disadvantage going into a small school where most freshmen had already had nine years of schooling together.  Or as she said in her speech, she could not speak about her grandparents going to school with someone else’s grandparents, which is a wonderful possibility in close-knit communities.  Nevertheless, she made friends and loves her now alma mater with as much passion as any native-born Lincolnland Lancer.  She appreciates all that small school had to offer her and worked hard to profit from those opportunities.  I am sure Lincolnland will be proud to have her as one of their talented alumnae as she completes her education and joins the workforce.

As soon as the ceremony and the after-greetings and hugs were over, we headed over to the local KC Hall at Raymond, where dinner was served at a lovely party.  Decorated with school colors and photos and memorabilia of the six families celebrating there, the hall was festive with gobs of friends crowding in.  I hadn’t been able to see Trent in the crowded gymnasium, but I got my hug there, and part of the fun for me watching Trent and his friends enjoy themselves as well as seeing Bri socializing with friends. Of course, I also enjoyed visited with Gma Dot, who will soon return to Arizona.  Tall and as strikingly attractive as a model, Dorothy is definitely one of my more sophisticated friends.  Yet characteristically, she pulled up the sleeves of her lovely blouse and laughingly showed me the small injuries (several) inflicted on her as she helped pick up limbs of a down tree and did other grunge work while she was down here in our area helping her son Brian as he battles to get a crop planted during this wet spring.

We had planned to stay at Mary Ellen and Brian’s house, and she had a bed waiting for us.  But as the hour got later, Gerald realized we could drive back home and be in bed not too much after midnight.  He had crammed a lot of work into his day before we left for Raymond, and I was not sure he should make that long drive yet that night.  But he was confident he was up for the drive, and knowing that Mary Ellen and Brian still had party clean-up, we decided we might be doing them a favor by going on home to Southern Illinois.  We were in our own bed by 1:00 a.m. and soon this morning, I was hearing him out on the lawn mower cutting the grass on the huge lawn he has created for us.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blooming Good

Although many of the iris buds had opened into purple shafts on Mother’s Day, the first full flower did not appear until the next day.  Two days later there were many blooms, and now iris bed is thick with more purple blooms than I want to count.   Gerald has the grass in great shape this spring, and he has the lake as free from algae as it has ever been, so looking out our lakeside windows is a visual treat.

We are enjoying accounts of our oldest great grandson playing Little League ball down in Georgia at the first of the week, and now his softball family are with the University of Georgia team in Tempe, Arizona, for the NCAA Regional tournament.  Our grandson Elijah has moved out of the dorm at the end of his sophomore year and is now attending an Inter-Varsity event in the Upper Peninsula.  Then after a brief visit back home in Freeport, he will return to Bloomington and be a first-time apartment dweller with a roommate.  His older sister Leslie is posting photos from Pennsylvania on Facebook instead of photos from Nashville.   I have no idea why she is visiting Pennsylvania.  Erin, who recently announced her engagement, has a new job and moved to Dallas.  Granddaughter Brianna will graduate from Lincolnwood High School tomorrow night and has only the summer before she is off to Murray University in Kentucky.  Sam received his driver’s license this week and is enjoyed the freedom this gives him.  It is exciting to try to keep up with our family as it is scattered throughout the nation, and I feel less land locked as I imagine their scattered activities. I admit to sadness at the time passing.  Seeing a photo of Bri on her last day of school holding a photo of her first day of school made me long to again hold that sweet angel of the past.  Nevertheless, I am happy and pleased at their growing up, and I like thinking of them busily engaged in life while Gerald and I have had to slow down.

We will be watching UGA’s first game at Tempe at 2:30 CST on Friday when we play San Diego State.   Hosted by Arizona State, the games will be on ESPNU. There are 16 regional tourneys with 64 teams competing all dreaming of going on to the Super Regional the next week and then to Oklahoma City. The 2013 NCAA Tempe Regional will feature Arizona State (45-10), Georgia (38-19), San Diego State (35-18) and San Jose State (42-15).  It is the 12th time in the UGA program history that the Bulldogs have been selected to participate in an NCAA Regional, all under Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Iris and Celebration Time

The young dogwood tree in the front yard is through blooming.  The rosy azaleas by the front walk have been gorgeous for over a week, but I doubt if they last too much longer.  The two bouquets that I picked from their branches have graced the living and dining rooms for a week, and they needed to be replaced today.  Then the front doorbell rang, and a young delivery manI was handed me a stunning bouquet from Jeannie and the Eilers up in Freeport.   I stop and enjoy the new bouquet on the dining room table every time I walk by.  As usual Country Creations had outdone themselves with this beautiful arrangement. Mother’s Day is just one of the many spring time celebrations going on across the nation.

I think most of the area proms are over now.  Last weekend, I enjpyed them vicariously because of  the many postings by proud parents on Facebook.  Are there no homely girls anymore?  I loved seeing all the beautiful young women in their lovely dresses.  I hope they all have good memories to store away for less festive future times in their lives.  We are so blessed to live in a nation where such luxuries are available for our children as they grow up.  I hope teachers, aunts, or other mothers helped any who could not afford a luxurious dress because there are plenty out there in garage sales and thrift stores that can make young women look like the princesses they deserve to be on special occasions.  

Now finals are going on and graduations about to begin.  Gma Shirley was going to be at Katherine’s tonight, but it is her granddaughter Sarah’s graduation from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, so I will to take her place at Katherine’s house for the evening until the night aide arrives.  We have one grandchild graduating high school this year, and a couple of neices’ children are graduating.
We spent much of our week focused on the Southeastern Conference softball tourney especially after we won our first game against Louisiana.  After rain delays all day yesterday, we were sitting expectantly in front of the television at l0 this morning.  Unfortunately, University of Florida (#1 seed in the tourney) beat us 9-5.  The game began with two quick home runs on their part, and we had some moments of disbelief that the Gators might win by the mercy rule—something we have no experience with knowing how to handle.  But we rallied and it took all seven innings for Florida to go on to play for the conference championship tonight.  Next come the regional tourneys.

Our niece Vicki Glasco Escue suggested on Facebook that we share good memories of our mothers.  I 
did not have time to respond when I read her idea, but I did enjoy her memories of  my special sister-
in-law Ginger.  Later as I pondered Vicki’s request, I decided one of my favorite times with my mother 
was when my brother would come home from working Saturdays at the Jonesboro Kroger Store. Dad 
would be in the living room reading or listening to the radio, I guess.  But Jim and Mother and I would 
pile on to her bed and listen to Jim’s adventures that day at the store.  I am sure we talked of other 
things too, but Jim usually had  interesting stories or funny incidents to tell.  We would listen and bond 
and end the day with warmth and happiness.   

As it has turned out, one of the families he told us about was a large family from one of the best farms in the Mississippi bottoms.  Clyde Treece, the father,  was one of the most successful farmers; and like in many farm families, Mrs. Treece was an excellent cook who knew good meals throughout the week were important to the family’s health and happiness.   Because of the many children, my brother was impressed with their large orders.  (With just three children in our family and no large noonday meal to prepare for, my mother’s orders were small in comparison.)  We liked hearing about that abundance, and I felt like I already knew the family when I married Gerald and found one of those children had grown up and was now my sister-in-law.  Opal inherited her mother’s exceptional cooking ability, and we have enjoyed many good meals at her table.  Her mother’s delicious pies were cherished, and when the family divided personal items after her death, they had an private auction just among themselves and her rolling pin brought a top dollar.

Funny how small things are often our fondest memories.  Mothers worry about wanting to give their children the world, but experience teaches us that love and devotion go further than any material provisions.   So it is that although I have enjoyed first the bed of solid white iris in someone’s yard as I drive into town and a little further up the street a bed of all yellow iris, it is my own bed now rich with buds that I am eagerly waiting to see.  Why? Because they will be purple just like the ones my mother used to grow.  Reckon the first bloom might show up tomorrow?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rained Out!

Fixed a frozen pizza and carried it and other stuff down to family room to watch the Georgia-Florida softball game at the University of Kentucky, and game was not on.  Gerald not around. Phone rang with family friend Jim Smiley wanting to know when/where game was on, and I told him I did not know.  Phoned Gerald who said he'd be in soon, but game was rained out in Lexington.  Rescheduled for 6:00 this evening.

Hurried home this evening from Katherine's running late and concerned about missing first part of the game. Hurriedly took down a frozen chicken pot pie that I fixed in the microwave for Gerald-- only to find the game was again rained out and he had already fixed himself something and  eaten upstairs. I ate the pot pie.

So at 10 our time (CST) in the morning, we will again be turning on the television hoping to see Georgia win over top-notch Florida.  The Southeastern Conference championship game is still scheduled for tomorrow night.  We will see what the weather is tomorrow .