Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Kiss and Roses and an Odd Anniversary Experience

Our 58th wedding anniversary last Sunday started with a good morning kiss and a hand-picked bouquet with roses on the breakfast table. I spent the morning at Katherine’s giving meds and breakfast.  Since it was also Father’s Day, I met up with Gerald and our  daughter Mary Ellen and her husband Brian after church, and they drove us  down to the floating restaurant at Elizabeth for dinner.  Gerald and I had talked about going there since we like being on the river, and we like the boat’s  somewhat primitive atmosphere The Taylors had never been, and it seemed the perfect beautiful drive to climax with fish from the Ohio River.  We all had hoped Trent might go along and he almost did, but as I will explain in a minute, we ended up being glad he had chosen to stay home.

By the time we drove there, it was a late dinner hour and we were hungry.  The cars lining the river bank warned us that many fathers thought their fish dinner was a good idea for Father’s Day, but that was to be expected.  In recent years, a double deck extra room has been attached to the original boat, and we also noted a couple of families had pulled their boats up on one side for a drive-in dinner.  Inside we were sent back to the outside to climb up into the extra room where they thought we would find seating.  

The waitress there explained there was no communication between the inside and outside and all tables were taken.  Rather than stand there in the narrow aisles looking like hungry vultures waiting for other customers’ table, we climbed back down and decided to enjoy the wooden walkway over the river on the other side of the boat.  Gerald went back in and put our names on the inside waiting list.  Actually it was not that long before our name was called although we figured already that Trent would have had his fill of waiting by then and we laughed at his wise choice. 

It is customary to share tables, and the waitress sat another couple at the end of our long table and we acknowledged each other with smiles and nods as they carried on their conversation and we continued ours.   A long time later menus arrived and our table’s orders taken.   And we continued visiting.  Until we ran out of anything to talk about except wondering when they were going to bring our food. 

By now we had started conversing with the couple on the end of our table and found out they had been at the Marion race track the evening before although they lived in another area town. The man was a long-time hobby race car driver and the wife his fan,  Although none of us had ever been at that rural track, we have always been able to hear the pleasant buzz of the racing cars on Saturday night. The couple knew all kinds of people we knew, and soon we were well acquainted and enjoyed being distracted from our hunger. They said usually on Sunday they go to the Red Onion in Equality for a wonderful menu of home cooking. But they decided to do something different; by the time they saw all the parked cars at the boat, it was too late to make it to Equality before the 3 o’clock closing time. We had never heard of the Red Onion, but their description made us salivate. Others around us were growing increasingly impatient and grumbling loudly that it was well over an hour since their orders were taken.  Some walked out.  We held our breaths when someone was testy thinking perhaps one table finally served may have come in after their order was taken. It was getting ridiculous.

Fortunately Mary Ellen and Brian were pleasant companions, and we all knew that fate had been kind that  21-year-old Trent had elected to stay home to eat and happily enjoy his games and many close Internet geek friends and skyping with his girl friend in New Jersey.  We made dumb jokes about their having to fish out the back of the boat in order to have the fish to cook for our orders.  But we were hungry.  And there were no snacks served nor any explanations.

Finally the two very young waitresses arrived with trays of food for both ends of our table.  They started to leave us with no utensils to eat with and fortunately the woman on the end told them we needed silverware.  Before I knew it, I had snapped, “And an apology.”  Immediately the good manners the  two young women had received from their parents kicked in, and they both spoke sincere-founding apologies.  No explanations, however.

When we realized we lacked catsup and tartar sauce, I retrieved them from a nearby table now empty.  I was feeling sheepish about my rude remark, but at the same time, I thought it was good the young waitresses got the instruction the management failed to give them, and I hoped they gave the apology to the other hungry waiting customers.  As far as I know, no apology, explanation, nor adjustment of the bill was given to Brian, but he was gracious enough to sum up the experience with the remark, “The fish was good!” 

We had another lovely drive home going through the Garden of the Gods enjoying the cliffs and all the greenery there.  Southern Illinois is beautiful this time of year.  We swung through historic Equality and saw the Red Onion.  I am sure we will go back to the boat someday, but it will not be on a Sunday or holiday.  But maybe the Red Onion will be tried this summer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grandkids' Visit

Sometime after midnight, Elijah and Cecelie arrived on Thursday from northern Illinois.  We’d texted, and I told them the door was open and to find their beds and make themselves at home.  I’ve been busy with appointments lately; and later in the morning, they were still asleep when I had to keep a dentist appointment.

By the time I came home and fixed lunch, Brianna had already come over and carried them away.   After lunch, I saw Sam’s car zoom up with Anna aboard, and then there were three cars parked in the front yard.  The cousins were having a confab on the little circle of grass under the tree in the driveway probably plannning their activities for the two days they could be together. Later Trent joined them. I enjoyed having the familiar giggling and piano sounds once more as they came in and out of the house.  Their shoes in the front foyer told me who was present when and who was sleeping over .

They are mostly all grown up, and I know their together times will grow fewer in the busy years ahead. Makes me sad and proud all at the same time. For years, a special treat for me was for them to come and attend Vacation Bible School in our village church. Then one by one, as they outgrew Vacation Bible School as students, they pitched in to help as leaders.

They had originally been scheduled to work in our VBS this week, but our leaders had to change the date.  Thus, our kids had this time available to get together before all their other summer activities began.  Even so, Brianna was working longer hours at the local Dairy Queen so she could be away next week joining her high school friends from Raymond in central Illinois in their trip to work in VBS in Florida.  Nevertheless, she crowded it all in and was packed to leave early this morning.  I have enjoyed seeing the photos they posted as they traveled south today.

Katherine’s aide had  become sick and had to leave early yesterday, so I went in to help after an earlier evening gathering.  Seeing the beautiful full moon as I drove home was my reward.  I found Elijah still at the computer when I went down to make sure he and Cecelie had seen the “Honey Moon” so close to the earth that it looked larger. They had, and I went to bed assuming they would be sleeping late this morning.

Full moons happen on Friday the 13th more often, but  this was the first “Honey Moon” on Friday the 13th since 1919, according to what I  read on the Internet. I won’t be around to see the next one. 

No one was scheduled at Katherine’s this morning and I went in to give her morning pills. I was disappointed when I returned home  and found Lige and Cecelie’s note on the breakfast table that they had needed to leave at ten for their long trip north. As always, the house seems very quiet when Gerald and I are here alone after gramdkids visit. 

 I am excited, however, about the internship Elijah will be participating in this summer in Chicago.  As I understand it, he will be one of 24 Illinois State University students spending their mornings helping a lead teacher in different  neighborhood schools and their afternoons with some community organization,  Then they will meet together for evening classes to complete their 8 to 8 daily schedule.    Sam and Cecelie, the only  grandchildren we have now still in high school, will both be going to camps and on various trips that I hope to hear about.  Trent will be in summer school when he is not gaming or living in his virtual world, but he has plans to go to New York, and I will definitely want to hear about that.  Living vicariously through grandchildren’s lives and activities is definitely broadening.

After supper this evening, Gerald and I went down to his office computer to watch the USSSA Pride, which our son Gerry is coaching this summer.  They are in Chicago this weekend and Monday playing the Bandits.  Pride lost to Monica Abbot’s great pitching, but it was so fun to see players we have watched down through the years playing professional softball now.  Gerald remembers Gerry having him walk over to another field during a travel team tournament one summer to watch Monica Abbott pitch while she was still in high school.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blossoms Brighten Our Lifes

I search for distractions and/or blessings to encourage me these days. Seeing one’s child suffer is excruciating. Recently a beautiful bouquet was waiting  on the dining room table when I came home from Katherine’s house.  Deep pink peonies mixed with lavender blue blooms filled a gorgeous vase and lifted my late-night tiredness and depression. The next morning Gerald told me the story behind the bouquet:  my neighbor Mary Lea Kahlor Burnham had come in and left them for us and phoned Gerald to tell him “a burgler” had been in the house.  

Gerald often does an extra chore that I have always done in the past or brings me blooms from outside. (His roses are getting quite beautiful now.)  And he too brought me a  couple of little bouquets not long after Mary Lea did.  As Mary Lea’s bouquet faded, I mixed the last blossoms with Gerald’s to stretch my enjoyment as long as possible.  She had told Gerald the lavender blue blooms from her late mother’s garden were “praying hands” closing up at night and opening during the day.   I have enjoyed watching them do just that.  I tried looking them up on Google, but the only praying hands there were hostas, and it was the leaves that folded in prayer, not the blossoms. So I am curious of another name for these small sweet blooms.

This made me remember how in my childhood I liked watching to see how my piano teacher’s row of four-o-clocks  by her sidewalk always opened their red blossoms in the late afternoon.  Blooms have often been a source not just of beauty but of fun.  One summer down at Mt. Airy Farm, my mother had snap dragons, and I enjoyed a lot of fascinating play snapping them. Of course, in those days, you could also tell if someone liked butter by holding a dandelion under the chin.  If the yellow were reflected, you could announce that the person liked butter.  And the hollow dandelion stems could be put together into a ring and added to others to make a chain much like the classic red and green construction paper chains at Christmas. Even prettier chains were made by knotting white clover stems around the blossoms.  I hope today’s children are still enjoying these gifts from nature.

I watched with pleasure in May when once again a large ring of mayflowers showed up in Mary Lea’s meadow.  I wanted to stop and go over and look under the green umbrella tops to see the little white mayflower beneath the leaves.  But I didn’t. There really is not a very good place to park right there on our country road.  That together with the fear of ticks, which is rightfully high in our family right now since grandson Sam contracted Lyme, prevented me from stopping.  So I use my imagination to see the blossoms as I pass by on my frequent trips to Katherine’s. 

Now the golden day lilies that our neighbors Scott and Sonje Cully gave us when we first moved here have just started blooming again. Profusely. They make a cheerful wall of welcome beside our house as we come up the driveway and into the garage.  I am grateful for the color and the cheer that good neighbors and bright flowers add to life.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Honeysuckle Adds Fragrance to the June Air

Honeysuckle decorates our country roadsides with charming beauty right now. Climbing upward and over small trees or spreading along untended fence rows, the honeysuckle’s white and yellow blossoms are thick and lovely on this beginning of June.

I have a strong emotional attachment to honeysuckle going back to my childhood.  At the end of our front porch across from the school in Jonesboro, there was a wall of honeysuckle giving off its wonderful aroma when we sat down to rest or swing on the glider there.  Someone taught me how to pick a bloom and suck the sweetness out. I have used honeysuckle in flower arrangements for weddings or everyday bouquets.  And I have fond long-ago memories when we first moved to this country road of rolling down the car windows to smell the honeysuckle along our road when I came home late at night from play practices. Later when we first built this house, Gerald even planted some on the end of our deck outside our bedroom door. 

It took over and became troublesome, and we had to give it up, although there is plenty over on our tiny island in the lake. Nevertheless, when I first heard the term “invasive species” about my beloved honeysuckle, I felt personally attacked.  It took a hike along with the school children following a worker at Shawnee National Forest to convince me that maybe that word was more accurate than I wished.  The worker explained how necessary to was for them to make forays into the forest to cut out the honeysuckle lest it completely crowd out other plant life.

So in spite of myself, I think of that when I enjoy the abundant roadside honeysuckle in all its glory right now.  The birds will spread its berry seeds in places where it will be unwelcome. In the meantime, the bees and hummingbirds and I will enjoy it just as the early pioneers did when it twined around their cabin doors.