Number One is Here!

I knew when I went out walking that John and David might arrive. Sure enough, I had started down the steep hill when a gray vehicle cruised to a stop beside me. A pair of long arms extended out of the window and pulled me into a deep hug. Number one grandson was here for Christmas. It had been 14 hours since they had dinner with David’s mom, Kate, and Michael in New Jersey. By the time I came in from the creek, they had unloaded the car. I demanded and received a full stand-up hug for the official start of our celebration. In a few more days, number two grandson will fly down the day after his school lets out. You realize, of course, that the numbers refer only to birth order. Both are number one in my heart.

Photos are sure to follow.  The travel-stained college student opted for a few hours of camera-free living.  It had been 22 hours since his last exam ended.

Walking in a Winter Colder Land

I walked one mile instead of two. Brrrr! It was 18F when I left the house. I topped jeans and a sweatshirt with my winter coat for the first time this season. At the stop sign, I did just that. I stopped, turned around, and high-tailed it back home. My nose and mouth had stopped checking in. I didn’t want that to happen to my metal knees! The house felt overly warm for an hour, after which I checked to see if the heat was still on. This is a day to keep moving!

If you are in the northern hemisphere, what are you doing to keep warm?  I’m going to make split pea soup and bake some bread.  That should keep the kitchen warm.

Celebrating Snow

The first thing I did with this December snow was to wonder at it. We probably don’t have a number big enough to estimate how many flakes fell on our property. It boggles the mind to know each flake is different. I stood outside, picked one flake as high up as I could see, and watched it float down to see where it would land. You could hypnotize yourself doing that. I wanted to ask the old oak tree, “How many snow storms have you seen? What were things like 200 years ago?”

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When the snow was almost over, I measured it and tasted it. The green ruler showed we had eight inches on the deck. You need children for snow cream, but I made do with my inner childish self. I piled fresh snow in a bowl and added sugar and vanilla flavoring. I was surprised it became icy and a bit crunchy. It would have been better if I had remembered the recipe and put in a bit of milk. I wondered what would happen if you substituted confectioner’s sugar, honey, or molasses for the sugar. Would adding Coca Cola sweeten and flavor it? Would cardamom and almond flavoring appeal to our Norwegian relatives? I could have sprinkled four spices on it and called it pumpkin spice for daughter Lise. She might have liked it flavored with cranberry/raspberry juice, too. I’ll bet the grandsons would have opted for root beer. Shrimp and cocktail sauce, anyone?

 

No snow storm is complete without proof of what you saw. There was a beautiful shot in any direction you turned.

 

When I tired of having my mind boggled, I ended with laughing at odd sculptures.  Even clothes pins had topknots.

 

This was a most satisfying snow, especially considering we were promised half an inch.

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First Snow of the Season

Mountain snow doesn’t mess around. Instead of gradually working up to a good storm, our weather jumped in with inches of snow. I walked Dolly before it hit its stride. The view at the top of our street sent mixed signals – autumn overlay on winter.

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I tried to get Albert with snow on his nose, but missed. The dogs were frisking in the snow, and neighbor Marla and I were agreeing about our love of white weather. We made a happy foursome!

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John went to play with trains and is missing all this wonderful weather. I’d get out there and wallow in the snow if I thought I could get up gracefully.

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Christmas Decorating the Mountain Way

I observed this metamorphosis with amazement. People who live above our walking road, removed pumpkins from the tan Halloween hay and sprayed the hay red and green. Santa jumped in with bows and a solar light. Will they recycle again? I’ll watch and let you know.

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This was my view while walking Dolly to the stop sign.

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John had an appointment, so I took Dolly out alone. She pulled me for a full half hour without choking herself to death.

I said, “Whoa, Dolly! I’m not used to cruising at 90 miles an hour with my brakes on!”

My knees thanked me for turning around when I did. I wish I’d had more stamina for her sake.

Pulldog

I know Dolly, the dog in the photo, is not a bulldog, but today she was my pull-dog. There was a death in neighbor Shawn’s family, so we are walking Dolly while our neighbors are gone.

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We were very impressed with the dog’s behavior. I went over as soon as I was dressed and let her outside to pee. She came right back in and went straight to her crate.

“You don’t have to be there,” I said. “Come on, we’ll go for a walk.”

She danced to the front door when she saw the leash and waited for me to hook it to her collar. John joined us, and we set off. We are in the habit of taking a picture of those who walk to the creek with us, so John posed with her. I held the leash going up the steep hill, knowing she would pull forward. John said he’d never seen me go up that hill so fast! I think I need to rent her for the walk EVERY morning. Wouldn’t you agree?

Bye, Lise!

The last few days of daughter Lise’s visit flew by, and my memories became jumbled. The photo file was my go-to memory bank. When son John $ spent a day with us, we went to the Haywood Smokehouse for barbecue. That’s a favorite place for all of us. Lise’s request was for BBQ as often as we could stand it. Despite two Thanksgiving dinners, we managed to have this Southern specialty four times.

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Lise had seen the closeup photos of elk at Cataloochee that we took a few weeks ago. She knew we weren’t likely to see that display again, but it was worth trying. We saw a buck lying down, breathing heavily. Further on was a peaceful scene of grazing elk – one buck and a group of females. As humans are wont to do, we made up a story to fit what we saw. We imagined the two males had faced off to duel with their antlers, and the winded stag was the loser.

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Prettier than the elk was the stream running through the high valley. I’m a sucker for streams!

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The road to Cataloochee was one of the original bladder-bustin’ drives our son took us on when we visited him before moving here. The narrow gravel road wound up and over a mountain, constantly twisting and turning. There was an observation area beside the road that we climbed up to see the mountain vista. On the way back, we spotted it high above us.

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Close to home I took a picture as we were descending the mountain. A small ribbon below was I-40.

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Another day we picked up a package, making a day of it. Lise ordered an electronic gadget for a friend in Denmark, and the only one available was an hour and a half away in Knoxville. We drove over quickly on the interstate and came home on small roads, going through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I asked Lise and John to pose for a photo in the restaurant at Carver’s Apple Orchard. As soon as we ordered, the waitress brought apple fritters, applesauce, and glasses of apple cider to the table. Yummy. The menu featured chicken – fried, dumplinged, and pot pied. We could have also had ham, cat fish, or a hamburger. This was good ole Southern cooking at its best.

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The apple orchard is outside the window

One shopping trip to Asheville was enough to complete Lise’s list of things to take back. We nearly split a rib in the dressing room. Lise asked me to sit there with her, turning this mom into a ladies’ maid. It was my job to hang up the garments after she tried them on. I was rehanging a blouse when I heard her make a funny noise. I looked up and saw the sleeves flapping about. The garment was one of those new-fashioned ones with breaks at the shoulder. Her arms had gone through at the shoulder, and she was shaking with laughter. I said I should take her photo, and she said, “Do it!”

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Before heading to the airport, Lise fed apples to the horses. I was writing this on the way home and couldn’t look at the photos. She had picked out several shots she liked, and I presume one of them will appear here.

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Those two weeks flew by in a flash. A year is a long time to wait for her to come again, but meanwhile we have lovely memories to savor.