Seeing Nathaniel and Sarah

On Sunday daughter Lise, grandson David, and I drove to Charlotte to visit with Sarah and grandson Nathaniel. What a delightful time we had! While waiting for Sarah to get off work, Nate served us hot spiced cider and chicken Alfredo tortellini. Delicious!

The brothers posed for a lighthearted photo.

The lighting was not very good at the restaurant.

Four of us squeezed together as Lise took the picture.

Sometimes you are lucky and get a good shot.

We went to an ice cream shop for dessert, where Sarah was looking at the world through upside down glasses.

I always enjoy the spontaneity of Sarah and Nate. We’ll be walking along, and suddenly they will do a quick dance. I’m never fast enough to catch the action, but they are kind to repeat it. In the ice cream shop, they did a bench dance.

Handyman Thanksgiving

When brother Bob and Beth come to visit, they always offer to fix things, and what a team they are! I hadn’t expected them to jump in Thanksgiving night, but they did a number of repairs before midnight and started again the next morning.

One of the things that was high on the list was cleaning the solar tubes. Neighbor Bob installed them for us several years ago, and we had quite a collection of dead bugs. I wanted to leave them and consider them ceiling art, but I was outvoted. We hadn’t been able to open them ourselves. Beth found instructions on line, and Bob could follow them. It still was not easy, but he did the first one while David watched. David worked on the second one, and when the third one presented problems, everyone helped.

Bob removed the pin in a squeaky hinge while Beth looked up the various things that could cure it. David watched and did the second one himself.

The most challenging job was rehanging a bi-fold door that had jumped off track. I was impressed at Bob’s agility – mighty good for an 82-year-old.

I was taking photos as unobtrusively as possible, wanting a record of the many things they did. Because of Bob’s sensitivity, I have this picture that I will always treasure. He asked for a flashlight before going into the attic, and he noticed my hand reaching for the camera as he clipped the flashlight to his shirt. He turned to face me and said, “You want a picture, don’t you?”

I was stunned that he not only knew what I longed for, but he paused in his fix-it mode to make it possible.

We laughed that Beth called her job “stuporvising”. You can make up your own definitions for that. Still, having someone look up things, provide another pair of eyes, offer suggestions, and stand by to fetch tools is invaluable. David was the avid apprentice, learning by watching and copying. He has been doing routine jobs around the house, and now he learned how to do other things. Lise was the list-keeper and general helper, and I was the useless photographer. I am very grateful for all that they did.

I asked the group to help me make a comprehensive list of the things they worked on, because I knew I did not have photos of everything. If you care to read the list, see if there are things that you could do in your own home. Here it is in the order we remembered them. They trimmed evergreens that had grown above windows, put new batteries in the front doorbell, replaced batteries in a thermostat, planted tulips, removed bugs from solar tubes, rehung a bi-fold door, locked windows that had gotten out of line, moved a very heavy recliner (by taking it apart) to another room, checked a suspected leak in the attic, stopped a bathroom light from flickering, shifted the strike plate on the laundry room door to make it shut correctly, painted a moldy spot on a ceiling, un-squeaked a closet door, and replaced the water filter under the house. The last job was so hard that Bob recommended we get a plumber to do it next time. He and David did not have the tools or strength to do it easily.

Thanksgiving

Daughter Lise and I walked to the creek before others got up on Thanksgiving Day. Our church had a service the day before, so there was nothing to rush for.

We had a leisurely breakfast, after which I put the turkey in the oven. It turned out it wasn’t a fake turkey, after all. Several large pieces of turkey breast were put together in a mesh bag to hold them together. How easy it was to slice, with no bones to get in the way!

Here we are, gathered at the table. Left to right are Max and his mother Kathie (Bob’s daughter). Beth and my brother Bob are next, then Lise and David.

For an appetizer, Beth brought crackers and four kinds of sliced cheeses. She prepared a lovely spinach salad with feta cheese, candied pecans, and dried cranberries. The standard foods were on the table – turkey, dressing, gravy, and homemade cranberry sauce. Lise baked Parmesan zucchini, and I sauteed yellow squash with onions. Kathie contributed a lovely sweet potato casserole. We took a break before dessert – lemon cheesecake and a pumpkin cheesecake pie.

Before they left, Kathie asked Max to take a photo of three of us. I’m very pleased to have this more formal picture. It was marvelous to be with this small family group after being with the larger gathering a week ago.

Good Neighbors and a Fake Turkey

When daughter Lise comes, we always try to see former neighbors Connie and Marla. We had a mother/daughter lunch in Bryson City, catching up on recent events. When the restaurant closed for the afternoon, we went to their house and laughed ourselves silly. We caused Albert to bark, but that’s better than having other diners glare at us.

It’s marvelous to have long roots with neighbors, as well as family members. Marla took a photo of Lise and me, a rarity these days.

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, may you have lots to be thankful for – family, friends, a moist turkey, and sides that are not at war with each other. After all, you will be taking sides.

If anyone cares to share your menu, I’d enjoy knowing what you had for your holiday dinner. I was horrified to discover today that we are having fake turkey! I read the label in the store as “turkey breast”. Despite handling it there, putting it in the freezer and taking it out, I did not read the complete label. It’s a BONELESS turkey breast. That means turkey meat was mashed together and put in a mesh casing to hold it together. Next year I’m going to ask David to pick it out.

Gobble Fest

My brother Bob and wife Beth had our annual pre-Thanksgiving gathering the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The most impressive presentation of food was Kathie’s appetizer, made to look like a turkey.

Below is a collection of candid photos from the afternoon. I did not get specific permission to post these shots with names, so they will remain unlabeled.

We spent the night there, and the next morning Bob mentioned that someone wanted to know the height of the ceiling. He and David measured it at 18 feet.

There was an amusing mix-up with some chocolate candy, and this photo will remind us of the shrieks and giggles that followed.

Before Lise, David, and I drove home, we went out for a light lunch at a local eatery. Beth and I were eager for hamburgers, while David chose chicken and Bob tuna. The food was not impressive, but we enjoyed being together for as long as possible.

Lise’s Visit Begins

Daughter Lise’s arrival at the airport was on time, allowing us to go to Culver’s for frozen custard before going home. It was a lovely way to begin a treasured visit. The photo doesn’t show that Lise and I were sharing this dessert. It was chocolate custard with added bits of Dove chocolate and cheesecake crumbles.

We were eager to open a very special Christmas gift, nephew Chris’ mobile creation. I had a preview on Chris’ blog. See his site here. Knowing the year’s figure was a skier, I aimed the camera at Lise and grandson David as they opened the package. I missed their intake of breath and realized something unusual had taken place when I heard their exclamations.

The mobile is not a skier. It is a man with a steam engine! Wow! This is a beautiful memorial for late husband John. All of us are thrilled to own original Pollock art, but this is far beyond anything we could have imagined. We are deeply touched by Chris’ thoughtfulness and creativity.

The day before, I prepared for Lise’s visit by baking her favorite pumpkin pie. It’s been a tradition for a number of years. Because she is losing weight, I cut a tiny piece and wanted to show how proud of her I am for her restraint.

The next morning we took the obligatory photo of us at the creek. For Lise, I took one of the creek alone.

Half the day was spent on estate business – going to the lawyer’s office, registering paperwork at the courthouse, and depositing an estate check. The rest of the time we talked and talked about all sorts of things. We never run out of words.

Ice in Various Forms

Grandson David and I knew it was cold as we headed for church, but we didn’t expect to see rime ice. I took a quick shot out of the car window before we moved. Rime ice forms as wind blows very moist air (fog or cloud) over trees and bushes. Because temperatures are colder up high, ice forms there and not on the lower slopes. I find it amusing that it looks like a horizontal line has been drawn on the landscape.

Temperatures were low overnight, turning the birdbath into a skating rink. Perhaps the birds had already checked it out, because not a one came to look for water to drink.

A chunk of ice clogged the rain gauge. As David noted, I should have emptied it.

A Birthday Party that Grew and Grew

Neighbor Shawn slipped over to my house mid-afternoon for a quick celebration of her birthday. It was just the two of us, but numbers were not important. She rushed to her family party at a gourmet pizza place, promising to come back later.

True to her word, she did come back. Bob joined us for a pleasant visit. Shawn knew neighbor Lisa was baking a cake for her, but she didn’t expect the cake to come find her. This photo shows Shawn and the cake with Bob in the background. It turned out to be the best shot of the cake I had. Isn’t it lovely?

It would have been quite proper for Lisa and Harmony to take the dessert and party across the street. I was not part of the original plan. However, things happen in this neighborhood in the most delightful way. Bob said he would cut the cake, and I got out plates. We all moved to the dining room, and oh! how we enjoyed that Hummingbird Cake! It was full of fruit and nuts and had a sweet filling and frosting. Superb!

We talked of things neighbors talk about – how to catch ‘possums and relocate them, adjusting to the time change a week ago, Bob and Logan’s disposing of a skunk that died in Joyce’s driveway, chatting on Holly’s porch, pet chickens, the tree house Bob built for his children (insulated, carpeted and powered), and Logan’s pet ‘possum that lives under their porch.

Logan and his niece Lily came over, and our party was complete. What fun it was! No amount of planning ahead would have made it any better.

Not MY Garbage Truck!

While walking, I noticed a green pickup truck, half filled with plastic bags, headed into our development. I wondered what was in the bags, and in a few minutes the truck came back, now fully loaded. Garbage! I’ve lived here eight years, and this was the first time I saw a private vehicle doing a garbage run. We are responsible for removing our own trash, which David and I now do on Wednesdays. Some private citizen has a business collecting garbage for those who don’t want to deal with it themselves. It must be a good deal for both.

After I came home, I looked at the porch cam video as I often do, seeing what I looked like waving at the camera. Much to my surprise I saw something else.

That private garbage truck used my driveway to turn around!

Sneaking in the Front Door

Electioneers hang about poling places, limited by law as to how close to the entrance they can get. Because I was walking to vote, I approached the door from the fire engine side which had to be kept clear for emergencies. The group was aimed at the parking lot, hoping to influence undecided voters. I slipped in without their noticing. Of course, they paid no attention to anyone walking OUT, knowing people going that way had already voted. I walked to the creek to stand where I usually do, to see and hear water gurgling over the rocks. It was a tiny win for me to avoid them, but a victory, none the less.

After voting, I picked up one item at Dollar General that I felt wouldn’t be too heavy to carry home. Half way up the steep hill, neighbor Shawn stopped her car and offered to carry the bag, as well as my jacket. What a kindness that was! I thought the cam from the porch would show her leaving the things, but it just showed her car stopping and then pulling away. This is what I saw when I came home.

My energy was waning, as shown by the cam mounted on the porch. Many thanks, Shawn.