John’s Surprise Oral Exam

If John had been the least bit nervous, I couldn’t tell it. This was about the fourth time he stood before the Sunday School class to present a video series about Martin Luther. If you didn’t know, October of this year marks the 500th year since Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Germany. Each week John has presented background history to the class while young Adam set up the DVD at the front of the church. If Adam hits a snag, as he did this time, John keeps talking until the video is ready. That in itself would be unnerving, but it doesn’t seem to bother John.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the dignitary come in. He had preached at the early service and sat through John’s class before preaching at the late service. It was Dr. Dale Meyer, former Lutheran Hour Speaker (aired nationally) and now president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, the main seminary of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. John handled it with aplomb. As our class dispersed, I saw Adam hand Dr. Meyer the disk. He had gone forward to speak to John and mentioned that the Synod and the seminary had done videos, but this was one he hadn’t seen. John told the man they had met at a nursing home he was involved with in Brooklyn, mentioning people they knew in common. Dr. Meyer remembered having been there.

On the way home, I asked, “Were you nervous when Dr. Meyer came in? If so, you didn’t show it.”

John told the story from his view. He said, “Before we began to set up, Dot [an enthusiastic member of the class] told me she had chatted with him after the early service. She said her class had the most marvelous video and a wonderful leader to explain things, and he should come to our class. So, I had advance notice that he was coming. That was a lot to live up to.”

Under the Robin Radar

Years ago John’s sister Barbara and Thom gave me two birds as a birthday present. They were motion-sensitive, moving their beaks and singing when you walked in front of them. I adored them. They lived on different levels of the house, the goldfinch in the dining room, and the robin on top of the armoire in our bedroom. They recently surfaced again after having been lost with my favorite cookbooks for two years. I had the three required batteries for one bird. Robin was the first to be activated, and I put him in the kitchen. That was not a popular choice. People went by and spoke to him.

“Be quiet!”

“Who asked you about anything?”

“What was that?”

“If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna feed you a real worm.”

Before it escalated to bodily harm, I moved Robin to the bedroom where I could enjoy him all by himself. He is turned now so that the only time I set him off is when I get something out of the dresser drawer. The other day I didn’t hear anything moving in the office or kitchen and couldn’t tell if John were awake. I stooped down, sidled in front of the drawer, and opened it to get clean clothes. Good! I didn’t wake up John or the early bird.

Robin got a rewarding kiss.

It was meant as a reward, anyway.  Maybe he would rather have had a worm.

Two-story Spider Web

If spiders cause revulsion to well up in you, read no further. I almost hit my limit when I was researching webs and pulled up a page with an animated spider crawling about the screen. *shudder*

A two-story web was near enough to the road for a close shot. Wonder if it’s a mother/daughter dwelling.

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Even closer is a photo showing a messy web. The spinners couldn’t all be teenagers.

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What started my looking was a field of webs on a misty morning. This appeared to be a suburban development that used the same architect. On a day with low humidity, the webs were not visible like this.

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If anyone can identify this type of web, please share your knowledge. The only one that looked similar to my eyes was the cup and saucer web or bowl and doily web, said to be in North and Central America.

Wisteria’s Reprieve

The wicked wisteria vine finally redeemed itself. We were disappointed in its blooming for three years, beginning with the year we bought the house. You’ll say I expected too much of it. You could be right, since it wasn’t due to bloom for another month that first time. I watched for blooms the next year and saw none. Last year there were a few miserable little clusters hanging on the underside, like they were hiding. I had it in for that invasive plant. It frothed green all summer and looked like bare bones the rest of the year. All it was good for was taunting me to trim it. Murder was in my heart. I wrote about it five times last year, none of it complimentary. It grabbed neighbor Logan’s airplane, attacked an innocent butterfly bush, mocked me when former neighbor Amy added a nice bench and a lovely birdbath under it, and exploded in wild growth whenever I wasn’t looking. Oh, yes! I had it in for that creeping monster. This year buddy, this year OR ELSE.

I looked at the wisteria and walked outside to examine it. There were suspicious growths on the ends of sticks. Five blooms came out, followed by a hundred or so the next few days. I’m not going to recant. I meant every ugly thing I said about it, but I’m willing to put that in the past. John and I are looking out the kitchen window whenever we pass and commenting on its beauty. The final blessing came when a rainbow arched over it.

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How Now Brown Cow…. Bird?

Although the brown-headed cowbird is a year-round resident of North Carolina, I didn’t see it until this year. The unpopular bird ate seeds on the deck long enough for me to get a photo. It is a black bird that looks like his head was dipped in brown paint. I won’t begrudge him one dinner out at my expense. The bird is disliked because it lays eggs in other birds’ nests. What a freeloader! The cowbird frolics, carefree, as the foster birds hatch and feed the interlopers as if they were their own. The only thing I like about the bird is that it takes advantage of others without forming vast bureaucracies to oversee the program.

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According to various sources on the internet, the phrase “how now brown cow” was used in elocution lessons. It’s only as old as I am and just about as relevant. Has anyone else ever heard it?

Good Friday’s Rescue

As we backed away from the house, John said, “I hear something dragging.”

I hadn’t noticed, but we both got out to look. A piece behind the front bumper had dropped down and was scooping up gravel. John was wearing a suit. It would have taken me half an hour to get on the ground, and there was no guarantee I would see how to fix it. Getting John to church to sing in the choir seemed impossible. You could probably have heard our brains grinding three feet away. I voiced the quick solution – let’s see if Bob is home. Shawn was watering their lush grass, and she relayed a shout for Bob. Superman couldn’t have changed his clothes and been on the spot any sooner. He took one look, dropped to the gravel, and pushed the piece back into position. Adding washers would hold it more firmly.

He said, “I’ll do it in the morning. Take our car to get to church.”

Wow! Neighbors like that don’t grow on trees! You can see why we think they are super special. We got in their sleek car and sped to Asheville, arriving in time to rescue the pastor. Rescue is the wrong word, but I suspect someone backed out of reading a section. Pastor McFarland greeted us across the Narthex as he hurriedly thumbed through the bulletin. He found the place where the choir was to sing, saw that John could be in the congregation when he needed him, and asked John to read the question parts of the bidding prayer.

The congregation was asked to enter the sanctuary silently for the service, giving John time to scan the reading several times without interruption. I thought he did it well. The choir sounded good, too. In many church choirs, women’s voices overpower the lower parts, but I could hear the four lines clearly. All this was thanks to Shawn and Bob’s generosity. I’d like to give them the Golden Hero Cape award for their quietly spectacular rescue.

The church looked somber, draped in black. I never saw details of our last church, because I was always in the choir loft. Here the crosses, altar, baptismal font, and pulpit were covered. We left this solemn service in reverent silence, knowing the greatest rescue of all time happened outside Jerusalem over 2000 years ago.

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Logan’s Afternoon

Neighbor Logan (6) had no school this week, and we wondered if we would see him. He had been in Tennessee two days and came over about 1 in the afternoon the third day, saying he could stay until 2:30. John and Logan played basketball outside for a while. We hadn’t had lunch, so I fixed popcorn for a snack to tide us over. We eat late, anyway. When the boy found out at 2:30 that we hadn’t had our meal, he thought it would be a good idea if he stayed to eat with us. His dad agreed he could stay. We had half a ground turkey pie that would feed three easily. Knowing how picky children can be with vegetables, we asked what he liked. Butter beans. The photo below shows how he concentrated on spearing about six at a time on his fork. He even volunteered to finish the ones left in the serving bowl.

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Logan was ready to leave the table in jig time, not being used to our leisurely meals. When he asked to be excused, we suggested he stay on the porch with us. That was insurance that he wouldn’t watch too much TV. He said, “Let’s have a spelling test.”

Have you EVER known a child who wanted a spelling challenge? John gave him a short word which he spelled easily, but he wanted something harder. He spelled strawberry for me. John asked for Pullman, and I gave him daffodill (his spelling). Crazy was too easy. When we couldn’t stump him, he asked to be excused. In two seconds he was climbing on my exercise bike, which was still way too big for him. He is getting better at it, though. He kept his feet on the pedals, but he had to let the handles go with each down stroke. Watch his tongue. Do you think he could ride the bike with his mouth shut?

The fellows played checkers while I took a nap. John is not a game person, but thankfully he does like checkers. The game snack, which John prepared, was a bowl of mixed nuts and raisins. At five John sent Logan home, because he needed to get ready to go to choir rehearsal. It was great to have a big chunk of time with our favorite neighborhood child.