Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strawberry and Softball Season

Lots of rain lately with resulting mud have made it difficult for Gerald to keep his strawberry patch picked as quickly as he’d like. But that is only because he is a perfectionist; he has done a great job harvesting the lovely and delicious red fruit.

Although I really admire his attractive garden that I watch from my kitchen window, I still have not dared venture out and even tried to pick any. When younger, I have always picked strawberries on my knees. I know I could eventually get down, but I also know I would have a hard time standing back up. GRRR. Gerald bends over; and though it hurts, he believes it is strengthening his back.

His crop is fantastic providing us berries almost every meal, a freezer full for next winter, usually some in the fridge, and some he is giving away to other family members. I have helped burr a few, and I have washed and placed the pretty berries into the freezer bags. I’ve also made lots of shortcake using my mother-in-law’s method.

My mother made strawberry shortcake using pie crust she baked for that use. I think I also remember her serving shortcake to her club members once on the little sponge cakes sold for that purpose. And maybe one year when the Dairy Queen was the newest thing in the nearby town of Anna, I believe she served her club friends the sugared berries over that yummy frozen product--perhaps with a slice of angel food cake along side on the glass desert plate.

When I married Gerald, strawberry season was in full swing, and his father had a wonderful patch. I was amazed to find his mother used crackers instead of pie crust for her shortcake. In the years since, I have used both my mother’s and Gerald’s mother’s method. I also used the little sponge cakes a few times in my early wifehood, and once I baked the shortcake recipe in my wedding gift cookbook. That was a lot of trouble, and not particularly satisfying. But for many years, I make shortcake with crackers. Now I use whole wheat crackers; and for Gerald and me, I use Apriva—the sweetener from Kroger. I still use sugar when making it for others as I did the night of the tornado warning when some of the family came over and when I have taken shortcake to Katherine.

After watching and following Texas T&M and Oregon’s games last week and weekend, we made a point of listening to the Sunday night announcement where the 64 teams battling for NCAA World Series championship in June will start their journey in the sixteen regionals. A&M will be playing in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Geri Ann will be playing at home in the beautiful new Jane Sanders stadium at Eugene.

Although we were saddened, when A&M lost in their first game 5-4 to Louisiana State at the SEC conference tourney on Wednesday, it helped cheer us up that Gerry was able to unexpectedly quickly arrange to go to Eugene for Geri Ann’s senior softball weekend! Her mother was already there, and Tara was able to take her two youngest—Maddux and Payton—to cheer their Aunt GA on. (Aidan had a baseball game of his own, so Bryan stayed home in Texas with Aidan.)

Oregon’s series against Utah started on Thursday night, and it was quite a night! The Oregon Ducks won the Pac-12 conference for the fourth straight year—matching UCLA, the only other such winner in conference history in the years 1988-91. Cheridan Hawkins pitched a complete game and beat Utah 5-1 for her 20th victory this season. Gerry was able to see Geri Ann hit 3 for 3 and was part of the stand-up ovation the crowd gave the Ducks for winning the conference.

Unfortunately, the Ducks lost Friday night when Utah came back for a 3-2 win. Oregon’s Madi Bishop, a top-100 recruit last season out of Jonesboro, AK, scored both its runs—the first on an error Utah made on Alyssa Gillespie’s single bunt when Bishop raced from first to home. Bishop later blasted a homerun single over the left fence, but Utah made the last run and won.

Gerry was there Saturday along with Vickie and Tara and the boys to be on the field with Geri Ann before the game when Oregon honored its eight seniors. Then her family saw Geri Ann belt her solo homer over left field. Winning the series against Utah, the Ducks won 3-2 when Cheridan Hawkins once more pitched a complete game. Hawkins allowed only two unearned runs, five hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts. Obviously she is ready for the post season.

We will be watching at 3:30 CST Friday afternoon when A&M plays Texas on ESPN2, which will be A&M’s 27th appearance in the NCAA tournaments. And we will be staying up late that night because Oregon plays Fordham at 10:30 CST on ESPN2.

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