Albert, the Vacuum

Albert, neighbor Marla’s German Spitz, loves to sniff around Bob’s car when we meet at the bus stop. Bob invited the dog in, saying there were some spilled Cheerios he could clean up. Albert was delighted and set to work as we humans talked.

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Logan (8) was out of sight, running back and forth from the car to the end of the street. We laughed when Bob said quietly, “I feel sorry for the teacher.”

When the car was clean, Albert was petted before heading in to breakfast.

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All that activity was in sharp contrast to the beginning of our walk. A deer paused to look at us through the heavy mist, well before the sun burned off the moisture.

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Near the creek, John said, “My hair is wet from the mist.”

I replied, “Mine is, too.” Laughing, I said, “I had to touch my hair, didn’t I? It’s like wet paint! You see the sign and have to check to see if the paint is dry.”

Focal Points

We had two points of interest this week – Hurricane Florence and Logan’s getting on the bus.

The hurricane was a non-event in our area, unlike the flooding in eastern North Carolina. We noticed one 10-mile-per-hour gust of wind that lasted 30 seconds. Big whoop! One full day of steady rain made Jonathan Creek rise. I was texting with friend Karen when John walked in and asked if I wanted to drive to the creek. We rushed there and took a few shots to share with her. Karen is one who usually walks to the creek with us when she is here, so she had a vested interest in it. We caught the water at its highest point.

John checked the rain gauge when we were sure all the rain was over. Despite being warned that we would have 10 to 20 inches of rain, we could muster only 4.

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A video clip of our street at 7:40 would show everyone converging at the bus stop. We try to time our walk to be there, and Marla comes out with dog Albert. Logan jumps out of his car, not so much to join us, as to run circles around us. In the photo, Logan had already greeted us at Marla’s driveway and run onto the neighbor’s lawn around the telephone pole.

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Logan is the blur to the right of the pole.

Logan circled around to pet Albert as we began to talk to Bob in the car. There was a pause as we watched the boy leap onto the bus, and we scattered as quickly as we gathered. Another day was off to its proper start.

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John’s Birthday

To celebrate John’s birthday, we went to the restaurant where grandson Nathaniel worked for the past two summers. As the camera came out, son John $ adroitly offered to take our photograph, thereby getting on his preferred side of the camera. I took comfort in knowing I could erase anything I didn’t like.

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John likes that restaurant for one particular dish, which they do well. All their food is good, but I go there to bask in reflected glory. One of the owners generally cruises the dining room, and John lets her know we are Nathaniel’s grandparents. Last year she beamed on us and told us what a marvelous worker he was. This year she called over the other owner, and he joined her in praising our favorite chef-in-training. Their words were glowing, and I took in every syllable. I looked at my plate and took myself down a notch. If Nathaniel had been working there, he would have peeled the potatoes.

Later we had John’s favorite dessert, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped topping. As we sat on the porch, we told $ that we’d heard coyotes howling in the pasture the night before. We’d never heard them so close or so persistent before. Although we were not frightened, he assured us that no coyote had ever killed a human.

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The next morning, John saw the single candle left from the night before and stuck it in a biscuit. It was his official birthday, after all. Normally I cannot do two things at once, but I did that time. I pulled out the camera to take a shot of this shady character, and I sang Happy Birthday.  $, right beside me, declined to sing. If you listen carefully, you can hear his silence.

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New Shoes for Logan

We (well really, it was I) puffed up the steep hill on the morning walk. John simply sauntered up without breathing deeply. We expected to see neighbor Logan (8) waiting for the bus and Marla chatting with him and his dad. The street was empty. We wondered if they all overslept, but soon Logan’s car came rushing down. Marla appeared at the same time, and the street was peopled as it should have been. We learned a while ago that daybreak is not a stellar time for either Bob or Marla. They manage to bear with our jocularity and puns without hitting us.

Logan jumped out of the car with his usual energy and bounded across the street. John spotted a square tag on the boy’s shoes, as I noticed they were not the neon-green pair. Bob rubbed the sleep from his eyes and said he probably shouldn’t have worn his new sneakers. Logan submitted to John’s cutting the tag off before jumping the ditch.

“Your shoes aren’t tied,” John said.

Logan sat down to demonstrate that the laces were not long enough. He gave a halfhearted attempt at tying them and jumped up to run again. John wouldn’t give up so easily and verbally wrestled him to the pavement. I think Logan got the shoes tied as the bus pulled up. So began another school day.

My day, too, began in typical fashion, as my camera demanded to record a sweet scene.

091418 JC advises Logan on tying new shoes.JPG

Cat 2!!

When we stopped by the little produce shed to buy tomatoes, the woman behind the counter said excitedly, “It’s a Cat 2!!!”

For once, I heard and understood a message that John missed. As he started to ask about it, I said, “The hurricane is now a category two.”

With weather apps, we watched this storm change course, slow down, get stronger, and dither about in the ocean. Its projected landfall was about 350 miles (563 km) from us. A week ago, we watched a reporter dramatically walk in the tiny waves breaking over his toes, trying to scare us. It was too much too soon. We cleaned our house and put clean sheets on all the beds in case friends or family needed a place to stay. I even had time to clean up the garden! I estimate we had enough food on hand to feed eight people for two days. It would have been a great way to clean out the refrigerator. Though no clouds were in sight, grandson Nathaniel’s classes were canceled in Charlotte, 200 miles from the coast.

I was on that woman’s wavelength, ready to hear news of a storm on the move.

We were so ready for the storm, that John said it might be a good day to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway among fluffy white clouds. He was right.

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We are home again and will wait another two days for the rain to begin.

Mamaw, Where did You Come From???

I was shocked to see a photograph of my mother’s mother in the newspaper. Mamaw died at age 89 about 39 years ago . Why would her likeness be published in a paper 450 miles away? John had already seen the picture and remarked on it. Brother Bob agreed that it looked much like her.

Look at these photos to see my real maternal grandmother in her early 80s.

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Mamaw at 81 with our daughter Lise


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Mamaw at 83 with our daughter Kate

Do you agree she looks a lot like Sadie Berry below? Sadie still works five days a week in Swannanoa, a town out from Asheville. She turned 100 years old the day after Labor Day.

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Sadie is roughly 18 years older than Mamaw, as pictured. People really do age well these days, don’t they?

Face Time with Logan

Neighbor Logan (8) came over and asked if he could stay with us while his parents went to a meeting at their church. Of course, we were delighted. He and John played two games of checkers until we heard a storm approaching. The boy was very patient with me and the camera. I tried to focus on the bullet-boy as he ran on the porch, and he rushed up with a big grin on his face. I’m going to keep the image handy whenever I want to be infected with laughter.

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Logan ran one of our radio-controlled cars as we waited for the storm. He put it up to his face to feel the wheels spinning. I caught the smile, but not the action.

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We first heard the heavy rain, and then watched as it approached from the mountain. For a few moments it was raining on Logan’s house and not ours. The fellows continued to throw a tennis ball back and forth until it escaped into the dripping bushes. Logan was all for chasing it, but John stopped him with a simple no.

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Our ritual for a visit with Logan is hiding a granola bar for him to find. When we first began three years ago, he would ask for help after five seconds of looking. These days he is more observant and keeps hunting. I warned that this one would be difficult to find. Can you see it? It’s on top of the fire extinguisher.

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Logan looked everywhere with his eyes before he began to climb on the counters. He moved things gently and searched thoroughly. I avoided looking at him, knowing my eyes would be tempted to glance at the hiding place and give the game away. He finally asked if I would tell him how high it was, which I indicated with my hand At last he ran toward us at the other end of the room.

“I found it!” he exclaimed. With bewilderment he said, “There are three others in the cookie jar.”

The response in my head? Aaaauuuggghhh! That had been my hiding place for all the bars since grandson Nathaniel found Friar Tuck in an antique store. Logan also spotted the bar I had hidden. It’s back to square one for Anne!