Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springtime in Southern Illinois

Driving to town provides welcome change from the sparse color of recent winter drives.  Redbuds reached their peak of beauty in our area for Easter weekend. The dogwood here is just beginning to bloom. The smell of freshly mowed grass is in the air, and the green lawns sport redbuds, peach blossoms, and crab apple blooms. I like the bright yellow blobs of dandelions in many lawns, and they make me think of our late friend Zella Cain, who also liked dandelions.

 Not all but most of the lacy white blossoms on pear trees have now been replaced with small green leaves matching the abundant greenery of grass and the leaves on shade trees during this annual reawakening. However, trees in woods along the roadside seem slower to achieve leaves, and that makes the appearance of the occasional redbud blossoms peeking through bare brown limbs especially lovely. 

Unplowed fields are often covered with the pinkish purple of henbit, and occasional bunches of yellow mustard plants are showing up.  The large patch of daffodils that I annually sneak a bouquet from has now been replaced with lovely paperwhites that seem extraordinarily abundant this year. I assume these daffodils and paperwhites were planted by the same woman oh so long ago beside a house no longer there.  She would be surprised at how they have spread out over this large area beside the road and up into the bordering woods.  

Although we had a smaller group than usual for Easter at the farm, Cecelie persuaded her mother to take her to Bloomington, where she caught a ride down with her brother Elijah at Illinois State.  Despite the pressure of end-of-semester work coming up, Brianna came home from Murray State.  These kids all landed at Mary Ellen and Brian’s farm house and stayed there, but were in and out of Woodsong as they planned their usual group shenanigans, which this year included kidnapping their cousin Sam to join them despite his not feeling well.  (Yesterday’s definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease started him on a 21-day regimen of antibiotic and the promise of feeling better in ten days. This was a relief.  How he has kept going full speed despite growing sicker all the time is beyond me.) 

These kids went over and volunteered to help hide eggs on the church lawn at our village church, and they stayed up to all hours talking over summer plans, current happenings, and the transitions in their lives. They did all their customary childhood activities including dying eggs and making Easter nests on the lawn.  Mary Ellen had volunteered to do the centerpiece for our dining room table, and it was very cute with the metal rabbit she had found the previous weekend at Hannibal, MO. She hosted the egg dying and brought over the bunny cake and the goodies for the kids to decorate it. (I think she was seven or eight when I turned over that decorating over to her.) 

Elijah gifted us with a beautiful song at worship in the village before we gathered for Sunday dinner here.   Katherine had worked out precision plans for an aide to bring her out for Easter dinner, but she was unusually weak and felt too bad to come.  The evening aide did get her to church Sunday night for at least part of the service.
Since our Georgia families were involved with softball games at Athens’ Jack Turner Stadium, we spent some time both Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching that series on the University of Georgia website.  We won two out of those three games and were disappointed again today to lose a home game against Georgia State.  Next we play three games against Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Both Gerald and Brian have been busy lately burning the limb piles from winter clearing. Gerald has cleaned out flower beds, mowed the huge lawn he has created, plowed the garden and done some planting already. Brian began farming this week after the delay caused by the heavy rains.

Somehow Gerald has found time to go with his brother Keith over to Southeast Missouri Hospital at Cape Girardeau to sit with their brother Garry, who is there with Ginger, the love of his life.  Our sister-in-law has been the victim of multiple strokes, seizures, and the resulting problems since December of 200l.  (There had been previous episodes, but that 2001 stroke was the disabling one that they have had to cope with.)  Garry and Ginger are both heroes in my view.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Go Go Go Joseph

My week started with my strains of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat in my brain.   I would be thinking of something else completely but would suddenly realize my thoughts were being accompanied in the background by “Jacob, Jacob, and Sons” or “Poor, poor, Joseph…” or some other memorable melodic phrase. I don’t remember experiencing this phenomenon so intensely before, but it was a pleasant two-day aftermath of a quick one-day trip to Nashville to see and hear granddaughter Leslie performing at the Larry Keeton Theater there.
Jeannie came in slightly after midnight last Thursday on her way down to Nashville for the last weekend of the show.  I had just gone to bed when I heard her quietly letting herself in the unlocked front door.  I’d gone on to bed because I had begun to be a bit nervous as she had texted me she was on her way down with stops along the way.  I knew that probably meant bike-riding stops; and being a mother, I can easily start imagining someone being assaulted or passing out on a bicycle trail somewhere. To not allow myself to worry, I decided to go to sleep and when I woke up to go to the bathroom if Jeannie wasn’t in the house, then I’d call Rick and start praying. (Actually I had already said prayers for her safety just in case she needed divine help.)   But blessedly my motherly fretting was unfounded because soon she was here and in bed, and without greeting her, I drifted into sleep.

As we breakfasted the next morning, she offered to come back to take me to the closing night of Joseph as she knew I would like to go. That seemed like a lot of driving to ask anyone, so I asked Gerald about the possibility of his taking me to Paducah to cut off a couple hours driving time for her.  He immediately sweetly assented, and that is what we did with a lovely lunch at Olive Garden before Jeannie and I repeated her trip to Music City and Gerald went back to the farm.  Gerald and I had visually feasted on the newly blooming red buds all the way to Paducah, and the spring sights intensified the further south Jeannie and I traveled.

We arrived in time for a leisurely visit with Leslie and Mike, and I was more than pleased with their new home in the city.  A large lot with a big back yard, which they had fenced for their dogs Millie and Sidney was in a neighborhood with well established beautiful trees.  The one in their side yard with ivy climbing it really took my eye.  Inside a lovely staircase and hardwood floors welcomed us.  Since they have not started work on the two upstairs bedrooms, I didn’t accept the invitation to go up, but I loved all the hard work this young couple and their friends have already accomplished on the first floor. Kitchen counters that their two fathers helped Mike install one weekend were beautiful.  The new gray couch selected for the family room with its gray tile flooring that Mike put down there and in the kitchen was quite lovely and comfy. Newly painted walls and redone furniture all spoke of hard work and good taste.  Jeannie had an errand to do and I took a little nap after Leslie calmly packed a small bag and took off for the theater.  She loves to sing and entertain, and she does so without any show of nervousness or diva self centeredness. 

The Larry Keeton dinner theater is just one of many activities located in FiftyForward Donelson Station, which as I understand it was once a school building. I think the theater is in the former gymnasium.  Now guests at the many tables are served dinner by various youth groups taking tips for their hard work. Thus, these kids are given a theatrical experience while they fund raise. I have never quite figured out the organizational structure of this Senior Center for the Arts, but it offers many educational, performing, and exhibition opportunities for not only older adults but for all ages.  Impressive volunteer efforts are apparent throughout the Center and illustrate what a community can create working together.  

Large white dogwoods in full bloom lined the front of the building as we entered to settle in for the upcoming show.  We hadn’t come for dinner, so we sat in back seats as the curtains opened for the sing-through performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s kaleidoscopic styles of music ranging from ballads to county to calypso and more.  Tim Rice’s lyrics retold the Genesis story of a boy who was Jacob’s favorite son of his favorite wife Rachel. Flaunting his favored status and his beautiful coat of many colors, Joseph so irritated his brothers that they sold him into slavery and told Jacob a wild animal had killed him. The Ishmeelites sold him down in Egypt to Potiphar.  Joseph was a successful slave until his attractiveness brought attempted seduction efforts by his owner’s wife.  Innocent Joseph was thrown into prison and it seemed his life was ruined.  But his ability to discern the meaning of dreams reached the ears of Pharaoh, who delighted us theater goers with his Elvis Presley impersonation and delighted Joseph by putting him second only to himself in the kingdom.  The predicted famine came about and brought Joseph’s brothers down from Canaan to buy grain only to find their brother was now as powerful as he had been in his childhood dreams.  Their repentance and Joseph’s forgiveness brought a reunion with Jacob, played by Larry Keeton himself.  The musical ended with the feel-good emotions reconciliation brings about.

Our feel-good emotions came from hearing our Leslie in a role she had long had on her to-do list. Narrating in song throughout the performance, she lived up to the critic who had written, “Her vocal quality is pitch-perfect, strong and simply lovely.”  After all the ending hoopla and recognitions, she and the rest of the cast were yer to strike the set and clean things up for the next upcoming production.  After hugs and goodbyes, we left to fill up with gas at the station next door to the theater, and Jeannie expertly maneuvered us through the city and onto to Highway 24 back to Illinois. We were back at Woodsong shortly after midnight, even earlier than I sometimes arrive from Katherine’s when I help out there.  When I woke up the next morning,  Jeannie had just pulled out of the driveway on her way up to visit Elijah and go to church with him.

Just as we had Friday night when we watched Georgia win 6-1, that afternoon Gerald and I ate in his office as we watched the Louisiana State University website to follow the third game in the weekend softball series. Gerald had watched Saturday night’s tie game, which we lost 5-4 while I was in Nashville. Sadly we lost again on Sunday 13-11 making us now 35-8.  Katie Brown, who had grown up just south of Baton Rouge, showed her stuff with two home-runs and so did Tina Iosefa, one a three-run homer.

Georgia will be in Atlanta tomorrow night playing a non-conference game against Georgia Tech, and it will be shown on ESPN3.     


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ever Changing

At our other farm home, I paused each morning as I walked through the dining room on the way to the kitchen. There through the sliding glass doors, I’d check the pond for that day’s update.  Here in this house, I look out the living room windows to see what is happening on the lake. Ever changing, it always pleases me.

One morning last week, the suface sparkled with a million diamonds gleaming gloriously under the warm bright sun. The next day, the surface was darkened reflecting a dome-like covering of gray-black clouds over the entire farm. More than seven inches of rain came that night, and we woke to see the water brown from mud washed in and perhaps stirred up from the bottom.  The next day, the brown had lessened.  And today it was almost clear again. 

Through it all we have been visited with bluebill ducks who have stopped here  temporarily.  Since various varmints annihilated our home-grown ducks, we are always excited when visitors stop by.  Gerry said they probably left Mexico during the early part of March. When they move to the other end of the lake, we fear they have moved on north, but then some will return to our end for us to enjoy their bright white sides contrasting with  glossy black feathers.  As I walked to the mailbox at the end of our lane, I was relieved to see they are still with us.

Gerald was surprised to look out a couple weeks ago and see the telephone wire beside our lane almost filled with martins lined-up there. He hadn’t realized it was time for their return, and he hurried and cleaned out his houses for them, and they settled in.  Now the view of the lake often features their graceful circling and swooping as they fly down for insects or perhaps for a drink.

Busyness last fall  kept me from searching out our bird feeders. This is the first year since we’ve lived here that we were unable to look out the kitchen window to see the winter birds feeding there on the deck.  When the snow blanketed everything, I felt bad until I found out  Gerald had lined our lane with bird seed, and I saw multitudes feasting there. (He has a tendency to do things in a big way.)

I also failed last summer to get the hummingbird feeders up until the very end of summer. I have been meaning to check with my next-door neighbor when I need to get them hung because I do not want to delay as I did last year.  These pretty little birds whirring and fighting each other as they gather around the deck feeders are an interesting addition as we look out toward the lake at the constantly varying vision there.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Home Again and Hoping for a Less Busy Week

Drooping yellow daffodils that I had swiped from the roadside still sat in blue glasses on tables when we returned from a weekend at the University of Missouri softball games with the University of Georgia. The bouquets  still looked good when we left, but they and some pretty glass serving pieces not yet put away reminded me of the busy week before we left for Columbia.

Katherine had a couple of aides out, and I spent considerable time there.  On Tuesday afternoon when there was a gathering of our church  women that night at our house, Jeannie texted that she and Cecelie were on their way down from Freeport—but they’d entertain themselves.  That was good, but I was glad she gave up sleep so that she and I had a long late night visit at the kitchen table. Despite their being on spring break, Rick did not come until the next night because he had a track meet to attend.  (He and I had a nice visit before they left again,  however.)

Jeannie chose to come a day early so that she could get another lick in on her goal of riding her bicycle down the entire length of the Mississippi River.  She and Rick had gone from Cairo across the bridge and down into Kentucky during their Thanksgiving visit, and she wanted to add a few miles onto that before next summer.  Leaving Cecelie at Woodsong on Wednesday while I went to Katherine’s, she completed another 20 miles or so almost reaching the Kentucky border this time. I am not sure if she plans another stint before she takes off in earnest with Rick accompanying her with the truck—eliminating the need for back riding to get the bike returned to the parked van.

Thursday morning they left Rick’s truck at the farm and took off for Nashville to be there for Leslie’s opening night of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at the Larry Keeton Theater.  I have no idea how Leslie and Mike are accomplishing all they are doing with full time jobs and a newly bought house to fix up. But then, frankly, I have always wondered the same thing about our children and their spouses and their multiple careers and projects. So I guess Leslie and Mike are just following their elders’ examples. Fortunately, Les and Mike are young and strong and healthy.  I love the audio Jeannie posted of one of Leslie’s songs. Since the belongings they had left at Woodsong were gone when we came home, I assume they spent Saturday night here before they traveled up to stop at Elijah's church to worship on their way back to Freeport. 

Our nephew DuWayne and his wife Vickie are long-time softball fans, and they came up Friday morning, and we left for the five-hour drive to Mizzou. We picked up Mary Ellen at their farm for her first opportunity to see Geri Ann, a sophomore now, play college ball. She was also very excited to see her niece Tara since they have always been super close.  Mary Ellen was Tara’s first baby sitter the summer Tara was born. (Vickie would bring her over, and I would seeing her having a sweet mother-daughter talk with her baby before she brought Tara in.  We got to enjoy her until Mary Ellen woke up, and we were there to help if Mary Ellen needed us.)  Then a couple of decades later, Tara served as a summer nanny for Mary Ellen’s Trent and Brianna. 

After stopping for lunch on the way, we had plenty of time to check in at our motel just a couple of miles from the ball park although we were disappointed we hadn’t been able to get rooms at the same place as the team. After hugs and greetings, we sat with Gerry’s wife Vickie to watch what turned out to be a very disappointing first game of the series since we lost 8-6.  (Yes, there are two Vickie Glascos in our family as well as one Vicki Glasco Escue. There were some mixed-up medical records once, but that is not a problem since our Vickie moved to Georgia.) After the game, Georgia softball girls were having a catered dinner at their motel;  and since we lost, that was just as well since none of us were in a mood to celebrate. 

We assumed we’d celebrate the next night, but instead that late night supper with Gerry and Vickie was also a consolation dinner because again we lost to Missouri—this time with a walk-off home run changing the tied score to 6-3.  Tara had already taken the Georgia team to dinner when we all met up, but she came with us, and we loved this opportunity to visit with her.  Geri Ann and the team were required to get an early closing to their day, so we didn’t have the pleasure of her presence.

Sunday was our last chance to play like we usually do, and we did it winning 6-2, which made everyone’s trip back home much more pleasant.  It was great fun seeing Alex Hugo hit her nation-high 15th homerun of the season and seeing the hugs she received from her Kansas grandmother after the game.  For several of us, the trip to Columbia was the closest trip we would have all year to see UGA play.  Paige Wilson had a very large family delegation from Chicago, and it wonderful to meet them and Paige made them very proud all three games. I loved seeing her tiny toddler niece walk by wearing her Auntie Paige Bulldog shirt.  Georgia is now 30-5, and they will be at home to give their players some rest for the Wednesday game and next weekend’s conference games with South Carolina. I think they are pumped and ready for more wins. Gerry proudly posted that their players had perfect class attendance except when travel required them to miss.  There will be life after ball for these young women.