Friday, January 29, 2016

January Plainness

As January comes to a close, I feel rested from the relief that comes after the rich glitter and color—sometimes the excess--of the holidays. I like the plainness of this month as my spirit needs it. Maybe now I will be ready for Valentine’s bright red. We have had one snow day, but the television stories of the weather out East made ours seem inconsequential. Right now our weather is sunny and warm!

As we have made plans for the year ahead, we have also been forced to look back because of the deaths during this cold time of the year. We’ve attended one funeral for a friend; and one day this week, I took three sympathy notes down to the mailbox at the end of our lane. Since a dental appointment the next day would prevent Gerald from attending the funeral, we drove over to Murphysboro Tuesday night to attend the funeral visitation for the son of one of Gerald’s cousins.

We went at 5 when the visitation started hoping to avoid later crowds, but we had to park a block away, and the line was already to the door. Since we no longer have the annual family reunion that the older generation started and which continued for many decades, it was good to visit with Gerald’s cousins’ children and spouses. We are the older generation now. Only one cousin-in-law and the two of us represented our age group that night, although I imagine more older ones were able to come the next day. It was good to reconnect with family despite the sad circumstances. Since the waiting line was still as long as when we arrived, we were glad we came when we did. We stopped on the way home to use one of our Christmas gift cards for a bite of supper.

Yesterday we had planned to go to Paducah, so we went early in order to use another gift card for dinner there at The Olive Garden. That is one of the few restaurants we don’t have in Marion, I love the way their salads are served, so I like going there. After we did a couple of errands, we had leisure time to drive to the old part of town and enjoy the many old buildings there and then to drive along the Ohio River waterfront for a bit before returning to Illinois.

This morning I had a check-up with my doctor—all is well. For the third time this week, I go to cardiac rehab this afternoon, so much of our time this winter is filled with medical and therapy appointments—a common complaint of our age group. But I have spread out papers and resolved to finish writing up what I have learned about “Cedar Billy” Martin, my third great grandfather. I almost had a long essay on him revised a year and a half ago when another project interfered. I have not had the will to go back and finish, but I hope by the time spring arrives, I will have completed this essay on a man I only found out about in late 1998.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Middle of January Already??

Well, actually it is past the middle. I’m not sure how that happened! The trees and their ornaments have long been boxed and pushed back in the closets. An undiscovered gift under the tree that showed up was boxed and mailed and received by the one who didn’t get it and was too kind to mention it. Christmas dinner left-overs that Mary Ellen sent home with us have long ago been eaten up, and I had to start cooking again. Actually this week, she brought over one of her good meatloafs. Since I already had something thawed, I put it in the freezer. (Nothing makes me feel richer than to have a main dish all cooked and waiting in the freezer!) Christmas cards were finally bought and mailed during the two weeks or so after Christmas. Holiday accessories kept being discovered one by one and removed from various rooms. I thought that was over, but this morning I noticed one pretty sparkly long-stemmed thing I’d added to the artificial flower arrangement in the corner of our bedroom. So I took it to the other bedroom where upstairs Christmas stuff is stored, and I think it may be the last to be put away. (Christmas items are like Easter egg grass or a single jelly bean that may show up a long time after the holiday!)

I started the first full week of January with a check-up with the heart doctor and received a good report. Then I started cardiac rehab over at Herrin Hospital, so three afternoons a week I go over for a scheduled one-hour session, which they call a “class,” but so far it has been spending the time on various exercise machines. I am studying the booklet they gave me the first day.

I am not the only one back in class. Trent started back this week at John A. Logan, which did not wait until after Martin Luther King’s birthday this year. Granddaughter Brianna had joined friends for a reunion at Disney World; and on Friday afternoon, it was fun to hear her report of her fun there before she goes back to Murray tomorrow for the academic grind awaiting her. Geri Ann was the first to go back to school in Oregon, where they use terms rather than semesters. With a final softball season starting for her, she will have a challenging winter and spring. Sam has already been in class for over a week at Baylor; and Katherine reports that without fall’s time-consuming band activities, he is really enjoying his classes. Elijah has settled into Illinois State student housing in Chicago, and I am looking forward to reading his Facebook posts as he starts student teaching. His sister and parents have already completed a couple of weeks of school up at Freeport, and Leslie and Mike down in Nashville are adjusting to Mike’s shaved head and his studies at the police academy there. Erin too is already back in class teaching her middle school kids how to be better writers.

In addition to trying to keep up with where our scattered family is and what they are up to, I am trying to keep up with the many Presidential candidates to make up my mind on how I should vote this coming November. I suspect I already know, but I want to keep an open mind. I am proud of Katherine’s interest in keeping up with the debates despite all her serious health problems. I have heard all the Republican debates. As a registered Democrat, I am not doing too well keeping up with my tribe. I missed the first Democrat debate while we were up at Freeport last November. I did not even hear the second one announced. I spent over an hour trying to find the third one on television because I confused the so-called announced special with the actual debate, so all I heard was bits and pieces after it was over. I am hoping to hear the entire debate tonight.

Like all Americans (except maybe a few), I am rejoicing at Iran’s release of our service people and the five hostages. I hope this is a good sign of what may come the rest of this new year! Whatever happens in this year and years to come, I know the One who tells us to fear not them that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28)