Category Archives: sister

Earthy Goodness

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“We have learned that more of the ‘earth-earthiness’ would solve our social problems, remove many isms from our vocabulary, and purify our art. And so we often wish those who interpret life for us by pen or brush would buy a trowel and pack of seeds.” Ruth R. Blodgett.

The week-long sunshine and humidity boosted garden growth.  Clean, crisp leaves of arugula and leaf lettuce will make a big bowl of salad for the family crowd this week. My sister is in town from Minnesota, cause for celebration.

Sweat beaded my neckline, and then down my back and chest as I harvest the garden greens. Already 88 at 10 am. Soon salty droplets dribble onto my lips. The greens are almost sweet before the extreme afternoon temps turn them bitter. Are not we all?

The herbs thrive in the summer heat, with plenty of water. More chives need cutting. Snipette of tender dill and cilantro came ready in a couple of days. Next week I will be freezing my surplus herbs for the winter meals. The pea blossoms produced 1-inch pea pods in a matter of a week. Plant scraps are added to the compost. Earthy goodness. Primal to my taste buds. Organic gardening.Arugula.

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Let The Good Times Roll

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Many of you catch glimpses of our lives on Facebook and Word Press.  Thank you for the continual contact.  And we love hearing your news as well!  So we wanted to summarize 2015, and tell you what we are hoping for in 2016.  Wow, 2015 was like no other Dean and I have experienced.  In 2015, the first half included 2 sunny vacations, and the second half we worked through details regards housing, floods, and the beginning of restoration.

In February we lapped up sunshine in California and came back to Missouri’s bitterly cold winter.  Dean’s father celebrated his 80th birthday with family and friends.  We had another Gall wedding celebration in April.  Yes, that would have been the 4th in less than 9 months with the extended family.   We planted and harvested lots of herbs,peas, and beans this growing season.  During the summer we vacationed in our beloved Minnesota with my sister and our dog, Midnight.  Throughout the year we frequented local music venues. But in December we ventured to Nashville thoroughly enjoying the Amy Grant and Vince Gill holiday concert. We ended 2015 with a bang at the Pokey LaFarge concert on the Delmar Loop.

Dean and I’s government jobs keep us occupied, and we are thankful for them.  My quiet husband does not share his own accomplishments, but I will boast on his behalf.  Dean received a promotion and raise late this year, and it is well-deserved.   He loves the research and the customer interactions at the National Archives, and it shows.  This raise will be handy as we work towards an investment property in 2016.   I keep very busy at my job with St. Louis County’s benefits office.  I am constantly planning ahead, while reminding myself to take a breath and being mindful of the present moment.   After years of my supervisors’ prompting, I am public speaking now.  My position as the employee wellness coordinator gives me a platform to work from.  The series of enrichment classes I have and am developing for the employees are on “resilience and beyond”.  I speak from personal experience and with heart.

In July Dean and I visited the German town of Hermann, Missouri for our 5th wedding anniversary, where we married 5-1/2 years ago.  We came upon a “business opportunity”, a cute historic guest house, a late 1800’s cottage-style.    Dean and I took a few days to think and pray on this possibility.  We decided to act on this dream.  The next several weeks brought us a declined loan as it was the wrong type of loan for this property.  So we began the process again with a local Hermann bank on November 7, but we quickly ended the process on November 10 after our main water line in our residence burst sending 1 – 2 inches of muddy water onto the slab floor.  It was and still is unknown how much will actually come out of our pockets.  We anticipate a few thousand for the insurance deductible and upgrades with all laminate flooring and all new doors.  The unexpected inheritance from my deceased patriarch was very timely for Dean and I.  It is being stretched to meet many needs.  So that Hermann historic guest house still needs a new owner as the current owners are hoping to travel with their retirement.  They asked, and we continue to pray.  See what God has in mind for us.  Dean’s 1st grandchild is due in May.  Another girl to spoil!  Vacation plans are being sketched, may have us going North, South, and West this year.

This rental house we are in while our house is in renovations has broadened my thought on “home”.  “Home” is where you lay your head, and share your heart and blessings with your family.  And family comes in all shapes and sizes, this I have grown to understand.  One type and size does not fit all. The December record-breaking floods came 3 blocks from our rental house this week.  I had to remind myself where “home” is and who “family” really is to get through those stormy nights.  So “let the good times roll” and we welcome 2016!Home Sign

New Years Celebration BalloonsFrom Dean and Anna Gall’s home to yours, love and blessings that overflow this 2016.

Duck Audacity And Boats n Birds Bobbin

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Bird life on Island Lake this summer is very active. Forty-one loons and counting as more were being hatched this week. Two families of ducks frequent the boat dock and lake side looking for handouts. Apparently vacationers were feeding them, and the presence of more people posed the promise of more handouts. Duck audacity was proudly displayed even with our 85-lb labrador, Midnight present. Midnight had a whining fit as we kept him on the porch until the ducks and ducklings were back in water swimming safely onto their next destination. Flies, butterflies, and dragonflies flew with the breeze. Owls by night and chipmunks by day sat on the tree limbs watching the life underneath. Co-existence.
The summer rains followed Dean, my sister, and I to our beloved Minnesota. It rained everyday we were at Island Lake. But each day also included some sunshine and low 80’s. Thunderheads would build up with steam as the day went along. Then, the winds would blow the rain across the lake in sheets, causing ripples and then white caps in the lake. The cool north air would follow. Those storms created some awesome views from the porch of our favorite little red cabin or the boat dock. Dean captured a few awesome photos. Our Midnight embraced the noisy storms outdoors or on the porch with us. The thunder sounds different at Island Lake than in our Missouri home. Momma loon and her baby weathered the white caps in the bay, bobbin with each wave. Dean caught the reflection in the water as a double rainbow arched above the lake. Friendships continue after so many years. And new ones form even amongst the dogs. Another memorable week at Valhalla.

Whirl Wind Day

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Frozen Leaves
“Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.”

~ Sara Coleridge

Veterans Day means another day off for the government worker. In the past, Dean and I have used this day for a long weekend trip, catch up on doctors’ appointments, and/or chores around the house or greenhouse. This year the whirl wind day encompassed doctors’ appointments for all three of us. The cold air literally blew in while we traveled 1 hour north for our labrador’s annual veterinary exam. We visited my father’s cementary site. Old flowers withered and brown, and I forgot to bring a sprig or two of colorful leaves and mums, Dad’s favorite flower. Not sure the wind would have allowed them to stay. The whirl winds brought the last of the leaves down, and a stark-gray filled this November afternoon. It followed us back to St. Charles County, Missouri.
My youngest daughter is in the hospital once again with major back issues. We make our way over to their apartment to watch after the two grandkids when they arrive home from school while our son-in-law stays with my daughter at the hospital. A congenial disorder she found out a few days ago, same as her older sister. My heart aches. A mother despises the pain her child is in no matter how old the child is. A sense of comfort envelopes me as I spend time with Libby and Brendan. The grace of God is evident in this family. We gathered under fleece throws while watching a Disney classic. The wind whipped about outside the patio window, frozen leaves nestled in the corner of the deck. Their three cats take turns for a gander as the howls come and go all evening. Spits of snow tell us winter will follow this whirl wind day. Good-bye autumn, my achey joints are not ready for winter yet.

The Year of The Mattress

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ValhallaValhallaMap
Dean and I along with our labrador-flat coat retriever mix, Midnight arrive at the 60+ year old cabin situated on Island Lake just at sundown. Oranges, pinks, and purples kiss the lake “good night” and welcome us. It’s been a long haul from St. Charles County, Missouri to this Minnesota paradise. But so much worth the road trip. Weekday and weekend warriors cannot stop on vacation either. We had taken the extra long route following the Mississippi River highways. So a 12-hour trip became a 15-hour trip. The meandering scenery had slowed our pace down before arriving at this moment. Midnight climbs out of the SUV from his secure kennel into what I think my father described to him as heaven. Our dog gazed wide-eyed at this expansive beautiful lake recounting the aquatic tales his deceased master had told him, I am sure. Into the lake he went, lapping water and going for his doggy swim in Island Lake. Just 2 minutes to realize heaven was here, and my father’s spirit present.
Our first night at the cabin we unloaded the SUV, then gathered jackets and a flashlight onward bound by foot just up the road with our dog. The little green cabin had folks congregated there near a campfire. We met up with my childhood friends and greeted new ones from as far away as Norway. Midnight gets acquainted with more labradors, the natural breed of our 4-legged friends in the land of 10,000 lakes. Before we know it, the time passes midnight with the campfire still aflame. Embers will be there in the morning to start a skillet breakfast. We head back to our lakeside cabin, choosing the front bedroom of the 2-bedroom pine-lined dwelling. I climb into bed too tired to have a spring from the mattress just about empale me. We’ll sleep in the back bedroom tonight and deal with the mattress issue tomorrow. We discovered the back bedroom mattress was not much better as Dean and I are forced to meet in the middle. This mattress’ sunken center provided cozy quarters for this exhausted yet still honeymooning couple. Our backs ache in the morning begging for more support. Dean flips over the empaling mattress to its other side to discover the year of the mattress … 1971. Why that is the first year my father along with my mother and their 4 children ventured to this heavenly northern destination in a Chevy Impala. Now don’t cast too much judgement on this mattress date. The cabins are only used 3 – 4 months out of the year, so a normal 10-year mattress can go to 30 – 40 years. So at 42-years old, it might be due for replacing.
Electronics, computer and TV are non-existent in the cabins. While on this get away, Dean chose to use his basic cell phone on occasion. I took a vacation from it all. This post was written last week, scrawled onto my paper journal … I awoke this morning before sunrise. Is it night still? No clock to check as we are in a time warp at this northern lake retreat. In just a few minutes I see a tinge of blue in the black sky. I take this moment to observe the day’s beginning. I slip on my jeans and sweatshirt and quietly step onto the screened porch. Those moments of complete silence, no human awake just nature and I welcome the morning in this neck of the woods. Our dog, Midnight stretches on the porch and awaits at the porch door to be let out. He, too embraces morning’s arrival this day. There is something special about living in the present moment. All senses akeen, see the colors change before my eyes recognizing the picturesque treeline before me. The loons cry out as the fog lifts from the lake. Misty vapors keep my skin and clothes damp, I smell and taste the lake, and I remember my father’s love of this place. His planning, mapping, and research of his yearly fishing trip started in January when the tree farming and landscape designing was at a hault. My father was a planner, and I too like him. Yet this present moment reels me back to reality. I would have missed this unforgetable sunrise had I rolled over and slept in another morning of my vacation … ducks, a blue heron, and even a night owl calling it a night show themselves amongst the pines, birches, and cattails. The dragonflies are now flitting about, illuminating more color for this overcast day. The brisk morn may see a rain shower before the warm noon sun. No boat on the lake, that I hear or see, and 2 hours into this day … In 1971 and several years to follow, my father would have been out on the lake by now catching walleye and bass for that evening’s dinner. Way before my siblings or I and definitely my mother opened an eyelid. I miss my father today like everyday. This place called Valhalla is heaven on earth, and was my father’s favorite place while he was alive on earth. Somehow he is with Midnight, Dean, and I. It is called eternal life …
For my siblings and I Valhalla meant playing with friends all day with very little chores. We would play h-o-r-s-e in the barn, swim in the cold lake, boat rides, hide-n-seek with the fireflies lighting the path, and a campfire with songs and roasted marshmallows. Those young teenage years I wanted to be on the receiving end of another kiss from a cute Norwegian boy, my Minnesota friends’ visiting cousin. To me Valhalla is about people, kind-hearted genuine folks. The mild summer and lake fish bring the people. But the people bring life to the vacation. The summer visitors enjoy fish fries, potlucks, smokey breakfast skillets, and campfire tales. This year the fish fry, skillet breakfast, fire grilled pizzas, and lemon rice krispies treats make the food highlights. More Norwegian cousins entertain the family and friends this year. I miss my Norwegian friend from my childhood, and his cousin promises to persuade his return to Valhalla next summer. Initimate moments we share about the death and memory of loved ones. Songs were sung at church and at the campfire. Yes, my Scrabble game had kinder words reflecting my kinder, at peace thoughts this restful week. The year of the mattress did not reflect the oldness of 1971, but the goodness.

Scrabble Words

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I keep a Scrabble board set up in my office at St. Louis County, available at the front lobby area for co-workers, visitors, and employees alike to play at their leisure. I borrowed the board game from our neighbor colleagues one building over. One of my office break activities is to play Scrabble. It is a stress relief with the construction projects in my office building. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard some days. Spelling a word or two takes the edge off from the noise level of the drills and saws. I can concentrate better after forming words from the letters that pop in my head. I know it is strange, but it helps. Wellness in action versus taking a “smoke break”, a drag or two of a cigarette before hitting the reports and answering the 100 and 1 questions our employees and retirees have. A “game” is completed usually in 4 or 5 days, with myself the most active player. I experience this same release when I write this WordPress blog or in my journal.
My daughters call me the “Scrabble Queen”, because I love playing it and am very competitive. Though I am competitive in other games such as Monopoly, card games, softball, tether ball, etc. I can still smack that softball over the left field fence. Ask my elementary schoolmates about my tether ball game. I would beat the snot out of the boys at every tether ball game. Well, not the boys but the tether ball! There was a boy or two I may have swung at as well… So back to Scrabble, with my family I use to make nonsensical sentences with the words we formed on the board. My siblings or children and I would laugh for what seemed like hours making up sentences with the Scrabble words. The analyst in me wonders if the combination of words I form for any given Scrabble game have a subliminal significance? Yesterday’s Scrabble board has the words “dead”, “blind”, “fist”, “knot”, “whimp”, “weigh”, and “czar”. BTW: “Czar” scores big points for a short word if you put it on a triple letter or triple word score. So the above words are fairly strong, echoing my recent thoughts of this tough world. “I wish I were blind to the world, whimpy by character, or dead to my feelings, because I am weighed down with knots in my stomach from the tight-fisted czar called life.” Woo! Simply said, I am overdone and have a tude. Feeling ready for my vacation from the house, office, spice shoppe, and greenhouse, you think?! R & R is right around the corner, tomorrow a matter of fact. Thank God! Maybe my Scrabble game will have kinder words such as “zeal”, “calm”, “smile”, “peaceful”, “love”, and “gratitude” when I return from my northern destination? Good chance of it! I want to be a colorful light to this world!


What words does your life spell today? I pray God’s best in your life: color, music, adventure, health, love, and peace!

My Friday Family Adventures

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Tornado
So this Friday is like so many of my days, filled with family adventures. Early morning we are greeted by my son-in-law asking to use our van to help a mutual friend move his bee hives. Big bee hives, and the trunk of a car would not suffice for the task. Of course, use the van, put gas in it, though do not leave any bees in it. Remember we will be loading the huge van with plants later tonight.
The morning goes along with a telephone call from my younger brother while at work, asking if we had found out if we can sell Grandpa’s snake-skin belts and jewelry at the farmers’ markets. A few days ago I told Dean about this request, but I had not heard whether we gained permission to include my grandfather’s handmade snake-skin crafts at our tent. But I will follow-up with this. The next question my brother ask, “Would you like to donate your body to St. Louis University when you die?” He asked this with no hesitation, like he was asking if Dean and I can come over for dinner tomorrow night. Now, I have to take a few seconds to think why he is asking this. With my pause in reply, he interjects that this is what our 97-year old grandfather is doing, and what him and Uncle Earl have discussed doing as well. “Would it be neat for the university to do genetic studies on the Bates Family?” Steve says. “I am going to ask Rick and Marge (my other siblings), too. And maybe Rachel and Elisabeth (my daughters) will consider doing the same?” So it takes what seems like 5 minutes to respond, probably more like a minute. “It’s a good idea, and I am open to it. I always thought to donate an organ to science after I pass, but I need to consider what Dean wants when I pass. I will ask him.” Dean and I discuss briefly on the commute home from our jobs, “no immediate answer, we have time for this decision,” I add.
Then Mom calls late this afternoon asking about the weather-stripping for the front door. It appears what we installed this winter caused a suction when it rained earlier this week, that she could not get the door open. Great, she is trying to sell the house. We will be up there to take care of this weekend or on Wednesday when we assist her with her move to the villa 1-1/2 miles from our house rather than the hour’s drive we currently have. Mixed feelings altogether there.
We get home to eat a quick dinner my chef son-in-law prepared, fried fish, mashed potatoes, and a tomato-mozzerolla salad. Dean and I needed to get to the greenhouse as soon as possible as a large cell of violent storms was on the way. Dean checked http://www.wunderground.com, and it was in Warren County, one county west of us. Onward to the greenhouse to pick up a few plants for the Saturday morning farmers’ market. The radio said a tornado had been sighted in Franklin County, one county southwest of St. Charles County. Probably 30 minutes from us. The earlier rains had the ground soaked already, so we parked the van just past the barn. Dean and I quickly walked up the hill, gathered armfuls of plants, each making 3 trips back and forth. By my last trip back to the van, the sky was an eerie green with a black cell right in the middle. Lightning flashes bolts bright, and the heavy rain starts. Our Charlie Brown spruce tree was in full glow with the solar lights like it was nighttime already. It was only 7:15pm. The van radio told me a tornado warning was issued for St. Charles County, and a tornado was sighted in Defiance. Wonderful, we are in Defiance! I guarantee that black cell I saw had a tornado in it! Dean arrived with his last armful of plants, promptly loaded them in the van, and backed the van up in a hurry. We slide off the gravel road right into the slippery clay mud. That van kept sliding towards the rushing creek! Inches from it! Dean tried pulling forward, and we were stuck. Dean and I tried gravel, wood planks, and prayer. We were not going anywhere, especially when Dean accidentally locked the keys in the van. Thank God the engine was turned off! Flash flood warnings came over the weather band radio in the barn. I asked my husband to call our landlord, to see if we could start the tractor to pull the van out. No keys were available, with the landlord in another county over. We asked for the farm neighbor’s telephone number. We called my son-in-law and this farm neighbor. My son-in-law got to us with our spare van key and a smile in his voice within 30 minutes. Our rescuer! The farm neighbor was not home, 30 minutes away but would try to get to us. Dean rocked the van back and forth shifting in reverse and back forward. Mick and I pushed with all our might. A wood plank shot back and hit my ankle. Bruised, swollen, and sore but no cut. Thank Jesus. Rocking back and forth for 10 minutes, the van was out of the muddy mess onto the gravel road. Shovels put away, barn light turned out, and we all managed to cross the creek to the safety of a paved county highway. A call to the farm neighbor to say we were out of our predicament. Reports of a huge tornado touching down in the local towns of Weldon Springs and Harvester, Missouri wiping out multiple houses came over the radio. Cannot help to think we were stuck in the mud for a reason, to avoid being in the path of that nasty tornado. A muddy mess and sore, we all three were, but safe in our house now tonight. Yes, my family adventures never end. Sometimes like the whirlwinds I experienced tonight. Peace I sense. Gratitude, I have family to help when we need it, and to be with on this stormy night. St. Louis University is not ready for me yet. Stay tuned, another chapter of our family life on this blog, maybe with Dean’s family.

A Flower For Mom

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Do you want to brighten Mom’s Day? A single blooming shasta daisy bedded in a terra cotta pot will do just that! Deanna Greens And Garden Art will be selling at two farmers’ markets this weekend. On Saturday, you can find our tent at Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ Market from 8:00am – 12:00pm. Dean will be there with his smiling face and a cup of coffee at hand. Joining Dean are our lovely geraniums, a blooming cactus, hanging pots of swedish ivy, moses-in-the-cradle, asparagus and rabbit’s-foot ferns, vinca, as well as small planters of easy-to-care-for succulents. On Mother’s Day, you can find Dean at the Chandler Hill Vineyards Farmers’ Market from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Also, beautiful nature photo cards crafted by my artist sister will be available at both markets. A delicious Sunday brunch is being served at the vineyard. Come to the countryside of Defiance, Missouri for an unforgettable Mother’s Day treat! I will be at the Olde Town Spice Shoppe selling spices and sharing recipe ideas. Remember, buy local! Dean and I will join my grown children and grandchildren for a picnic at the park near the Missouri River in St. Charles for the evening. Happy Mother’s Day!

Blessing Jar

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Blessings come in different forms.  Counting my blessings is a mindset when I buried my father less than 3 weeks ago after his 9-month battle with brain cancer.  Still grieving.  But I came across this website blog about a blessing jar:  http://thefrugalgirls.com/2012/11/the-blessing-jar.html.  Cute  craft idea!  The photo below comes from this blog. Reading the blog, it reminds me to recall all the wonderful things that took place this year.  It’s been a very difficult year, so I think  a bit of a challenge with this blessing search …  I will start with my family, my big, big family!  To begin my husband, Dean is just want I need.  He is multi-talented, jack of all trades. And he is so patient with me, my ideas, my projects, my moods, etc.  And on top of that Dean is affectionate and thoughtful.  My hubby rubs my stinking feet after a long day working in the greenhouse.  And then there is my children … my oldest daughter, Rachel has a smile, kind word, and humor that will turn any sour day into a sweet one!   And then my Elisabeth, her beautiful acceptance of this diverse life is such an example to me.  She grows more saintly with her patience!  Both of my daughters suffer with degenerative disc disease, but continue to bring joy to the people  around them despite their pain.  My son, Ben has the most tender heart that permeates through this tough world we live in.  He held his arm around me during my father’s memorial service.   Probably an uncool thing to do in most 19-year old young men’s eyes, but he does not care what others think.  My grandchildren, well read about all five in my earlier blog:   https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/they-are-mine-alright/.  And then there is the extended family.  My family grew closer through my father’s terminal illness.  My sister traveled 3 trips from the west coast to be at my mother’s and father’s beckon call for months.  My two brothers took over the needs of my 97-year old grandfather as my father could no longer take this role.  My mother did not give up on my father’s wish to die at home.  So she had many endless hours as his nurse, you know,  24/7.  My employer was so patient, allowing me time away to run errands for my mother and visit my father.  Co-workers and vendors I work closely with, asked how Dad was and I am doing even today.  And the solace the greenhouse plants and soil gave me from this tiresome world we live in.  So how I can summarize this year  is “God is good”.  He takes care of us!  We are truly blessed!  What will you put into your blessing jar?   Funny thing about this photo, my Dad’s nickname is Marty.  I wonder what musings he is having in heaven today?

 

My Father

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My father’s obituary … more thoughts in a few days …

Martin K. Bates, age 76 of Bowling Green, passed away Thursday October 18, 2012, at his home.  Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday
October 20, 2012 at the Mudd-Veach Funeral Home in Bowling Green, with Rev. DawnVictoria Mitchell officiating.  Burial will be in the Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Bowling Green. Visitation for Mr. Bates will be held from 10:00 a.m. Saturday until the time of service at the funeral home.

He was born March 10, 1936, the son of Earl Kenneth and Anna Susanna Kurz Bates. He grew up in St. Louis County and on April 26, 1958 in St. Louis, he married Darlene Hudson.  She survives. Also surviving are his father of St. Charles; two sons Martin Richard Bates and wife Joan of O’Fallon, Stephen Kenneth Bates of Bowling Green; two daughters
Margaret Bates of Los Banos, CA, Anna Gall and husband Dean of St. Peters; five grandchildren; 5 great grandchildren; one brother Earl F. Bates and wife Sunny of the State of Montana and one niece Julie Fait and husband Jim of Romeoville, IL.  He was preceded in death by his mother, 
his step-mother Paula Bates and one nephew Drew Bates. 

Mr. Bates lived in St. Charles County for 43 years where he owned and operated Bates Nursery in St. Peters from 1969 to 2002 when he retired.  While owning the nursery, he raised many of his own plants, and did landscaping.  In 2003 he moved to Bowling Green.  Martin was an avid hunter, loved his hunting dog Midnite and enjoyed training dogs. He also enjoyed woodworking and painting and sketching.  He was a good husband, father and grandfather and was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal.

Serving as pallbearers will be Rick Bates, Steve Bates, Ian Bates, Nathan Bates, Benjamin Phelps and Dean Gall.

Memorials may be made to the Donors choice.

http://www.muddveach.com/6/post/2012/10/bates-martin-k.html