We spent half a day with grandson David before driving to pick up grandson Nathaniel in the evening. How blessed we are to have these young men in our lives!

David, John, and I drove to Carver’s Apple Orchard. We enjoyed the mostly golden leaves on the mountainsides. The restaurant on the premises was full! Here is a photo of the dining room, for those of you who may have forgotten what a full restaurant looks like.

The orchard is visible from the windows.

It’s fun to have a picture of my dining companions, one of whom is always willing to pose.

[I don’t know how to make the above photo and words smaller.]

After eating, we walked through the market full of apples, cider, jams, honey, and vegetables. It was the first time we’d ever seen men grading apples. They quickly picked out some to go in bushel baskets, and the rest continued on the conveyor belt to a large bin on the left.

On the way home, John drove on a small road beside the Pigeon River. I listened to the sound of the water going over rocks as David went down the steep bank to walk beside the water.

David was helping a friend and didn’t go with us to pick up Nathaniel. They had their own reunion when we got back. John reminded us to do the mirror ceremony. (It’s a ritual that Nathaniel raises the mirror to a level where he can see his face. He moves it back down when he leaves.)

The next day Nathaniel concentrated on school projects while David was at work. Nate asked about building a fire as son John $pencer walked through the room. John joined the two of them as they burned the old wood from the deck. That activity was a perfect diversion from studying. What could be better for a pyromaniac than being outdoors and tending a fire?

Autumn Items

We are beginning to have colorful trees near our home, but I haven’t found an arresting view yet. I stopped to take a photo of a burning bush we pass on our walk. This is the first year I noticed it has red berries. The leaves are getting redder and should be more dramatic in a few days.

Our one little rosebush was valiantly hanging on, keeping as much color as it could.

I didn’t notice the clematis bloom until I was pulling creeping thyme from a border. This plant produced two or three mediocre flowers in the spring and saved up all its strength to produce this stunner.

I hope you are enjoying the changing seasons wherever you are.

Trains, Sandwich Tongue, and Hangup in the Creek

Grandson David took a few vacation days to go to the train club with John. He knows people there and was pleased to spend time with two men named Bob from the Long Island club, shown here with their steam engines and John between them.

Bob W, John, and Bob A

I liked David’s photo of a few of the trains running that day. Can you see the steam coming out of the smokestack nearest the camera? Those trains burn coal or oil. I don’t know the people in the picture.

David took a photo as Bob drove the train through woods. David’s knees are in the foreground.

David was eating a homemade breakfast sandwich, which developed a cheese tongue as he ate. I was very aware of tongues from avoiding Sadie’s.

The big rock in the creek often snags branches, but this time the catch looked like a board covered with cloth. Unless someone moves it, the board will stay there until the next heavy rain.

Goodbye, Sadie

Sadie, Rose’s dog, has gone to live with Rose in Tennessee. Oh! How quiet the house is! We have no barky alert when someone comes down the street. There is no auto-vacuum in the kitchen or under the dining table. We miss our walking partner on a leash.

Sadie’s favorite place in the bedroom was the recliner. She spent hours there while I wrote and read blogs. Whenever I stood up, I’d pet her, and she’d squirm around so that I could scratch her tummy.

She is no happier being photographed than the rest of the family.

Today the shams are back in place on the bed. Several weeks ago I was surprised and pleased that Sadie jumped on the bed and took a nap with me. I barricaded her after that, because I didn’t want fleas in the bed. You see, I gave Sadie fleas. A couple of weeks before she came to stay, I saw a flea jump from the counter in the bathroom. I must have brought it and its family in from the garden. We vacuumed more often than usual, but the fleas loved catching a ride on Sadie. If we find more fleas, we’ll use a spray, which I didn’t want to use with the dog in the house.

Sadie barricades in place

This is my favorite photo of son John $pencer with Sadie. They had been playing hard, and he held her for a minute to calm her down. We both petted her a lot the days before she left.

I missed our morning routine. When I was dressed for walking, I’d say Sadie’s name softly outside $’s door. In two seconds, I’d hear her feet hit the floor and would open the door to let her out. She’d go straight to the front door and wait for me to attach her leash.

Hello CAT As we walked toward the bend in the road, John wondered how long it would take the cat to come out again. Twice she came nervously to the top of her driveway as John held Sadie a distance away. It had been weeks since we’d seen her. Today she jumped out of bushes and ran over to greet us. We call her CAT. She has a fancy name given her by neighbor Warren’s daughter, but Warren calls her CAT. I say it in a softer tone of voice. She loved the petting and walked along with us until something prompted her to hunt in the woods. I took a quick photo, because she is not one to pose for me. She seems to have forgiven us for walking Sadie.


Rose sent $ a video of Sadie meeting her grandson Easton. The three-month-old sat on the floor next to Sadie. The baby reached out his hand as Sadie sniffed him and licked his hand. They are off to a good start. Good girl, Sadie!

England 40 Years Ago — October 19, 1980

The most fun part of our week was having Aunt Val and Uncle Haakon staying with us. They flew into Heathrow from Oslo and caught a bus that brought them right into Reigate. I checked the bus stop every 15 minutes, and we met with no trouble. [That must have been the truth, because I might have remembered getting them if it had been troublesome.] They spent the first two full days in London, going in with John, and the third day poking around Reigate. I think they squeezed as much into their stay as was possible. It was simple to drop them off at Gatwick. [Heathrow was quite a distance away from our house, but we could see planes landing and taking off from Gatwick if we walked across the street to the top of the hill we lived on.]

Aunt Val and Uncle Haakon

John $ did a somersault out of his pushchair in Bejam’s [a store] but was kept in by his new harness. There he was, hanging upside down and was too surprised to cry.

Lisa and I identified the jay (bird) this week. It is a big bird, but has movements similar to our blue jay, though it isn’t colored the same.

I was cutting up toast to make bread crumbs, having a tough time of it, so sharpened the knife. Later I forgot what a good job I did on the blade and sliced myself. I found it hard to roll out pastry while licking the blood off the thumb every two seconds.

I’ve had several embarrassing things happen since we moved to England, but the worst yet has to be the time I dropped six eggs in the store this week! No one blinked an eyelash! I found a girl in the store who said she’d clean it up, and the check-out girl wouldn’t charge me for them, even though I told her to. The one that fell in the sugar display didn’t break, and I could see that two had broken on the floor. Couldn’t imagine where the others were until I was emptying the basket and found them broken all over the things I’d loaded in it. Yuck!

Lisa’s friend Caroline H came over for dinner Friday night. I wanted to serve something children would like, so did pigs in a blanket. She thought they were sausage rolls, ate one, refused another and was too polite to say what she thought of them. I wonder if she’s ever had hot dogs before. ???

Kate’s friend from school, Anna L, came to play Saturday. Kate wasn’t sure of the last name, but thought it sounded like “lawn.” It’s a Dutch name – the father being from Holland and the mother from Finland. They met at Cambridge in an English class for foreigners [probably before the term English as a second language was used] and courted for seven years before marrying and coming to live in England. He is in the chocolate trade.

We finally found someone more shy than Kate! When Anna’s mother was leaving, Anna burst into tears and begged her mother to stay. She did, for an hour! Later she slipped out, and Anna didn’t seem upset to find her gone.

John $ has experienced mittens for the first time. He peered at them, snatched at them, and tried to pull them off. After his walk, he had gotten them off, but they were hanging by the connecting string which ran from one hand, up the sleeve, behind the back and down the other sleeve. He picked it up over and over, trying to drop them over the edge of the changing table. When that failed, he exasperatedly jerked first one and then the other, producing a see-saw effect.

Changing John’s nappies requires great strength and ingenuity. He hates being changed, constantly trying to wriggle away. I’ve put pants on him while he was sitting, turning and crawling away. Today I hit upon a new strategy. I laid him down with his head and shoulders hanging over the edge so that he worried how to get back on the table rather than how to get away from me! The only disadvantage is that it left me with one hand to pin with, the other being required to hold that wiggle!

Happy baby on the changing table

Today we went to Clandon Park, a house owned by the National Trust and certainly the most beautiful we’ve seen so far. Petworth was grand, but not a match for Clandon. Since this one is so close to us, we hope to be able to take most of our visitors there if the house is open. Today was the last day of this season. The entrance hall is so large that I think you could fit our Stony Brook house into it! The plaster work is stupendous and the colours (English spelling there) are so vivid. I especially enjoyed seeing the kitchen in the basement with its huge roasting spits and series of pulleys to help in moving gigantic cooking pieces.

Clandon Park

I’ve another list of products and their country of origin that I’ve been jotting down. I should go to a map and make sure I know where all these places are – a good assignment for all the children in the family! We’ve had some bananas from Equador and others from Costa Rica. We have rubber gloves from Malaysia, almonds from Spain, onion powder from Italy, brown sugar from Guyana, salami from Belgium, broccoli from South Africa, garlic from France, canned tomatoes from Bulgaria, and mozzarella cheese from Scotland.

A couple stopped us after church today to tell us their daughter, Annette, had recognized Kate from school. They knew we were the ones from the US and wanted to welcome us. They spoke glowingly of a trip they had several years ago to Atlanta where come Baptists had taken them into their homes. I don’t think they told us their names. The woman said she recognized me from seeing me at the school. I just smiled because I didn’t remember seeing her. I hope I’ll remember her tomorrow! Lisa’s French teacher saw her and spoke to her, and another lady from the school seemed to recognize us. I have the feeling that one is likely to bump into more people one knows here than in Stony Brook! Isn’t that funny? It’s a big town, but perhaps we’re meeting the core people.

I thought I had a lot to write tonight, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. We think of all of you often and do appreciate all the letters we’ve been getting.

Oh, forgot to mention that I was thinking how well Lisa had done with her retainer. Not more than three days later at 4:30 a.m. she brought it to me with a broken wire! We found one half of the case with John’s toys and the other under the back seat of the car. I wrote the letter of explanation and John saw to mailing it in the pouch back to Lisa’s orthodontist in Setauket. We hope it won’t take long to fix and return. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is quicker than taking the mouth from Stony Brook to the next town, Setauket.

There! That finishes this epistle!

Sadie Loves Water

Son John $pencer talked about Sadie’s liking water. When he and Rose would hike near streams and waterfalls, Sadie was always eager to get wet. We found that she liked the run-off from a neighbor’s French drain. I would not have wanted to splash through that cold water barefooted.

It was amusing to watch the dog run through the stream. She would go two or three steps and dip her head to take a sip of water, without breaking her stride.

As we neared home, I took a shot of John and Sadie with neighbor Joyce’s tree. Those leaves turned orange and began to fall almost immediately. There is never enough time to get tired of fall foliage.

Hunting with Sadie

Perhaps Sadie saw it first, but I became aware of a cricket hopping across the bedroom carpet. I like crickets. I like singing crickets, but not at night in my bedroom. I picked up a small paper cup I keep on the computer desk for catching unwanted critters. As I moved toward the cricket, Sadie jumped off the recliner and lunged toward it. I couldn’t have said Jiminy Cricket before she had it in her mouth. Maybe it tickled her tongue, because she spit it out. In a split second it leaped out of sight. Sadie sniffed all around but couldn’t locate it. An hour later I saw the cricket again, and Sadie beat me to it a second time. When she let it out of her mouth, I swooped in with the cup. A political flyer was within reach, and I slipped that under the cup. Apologizing to Sadie all the while, I opened the door to the deck and flung the cricket into the night. She looked longingly into the darkness. More than likely, the cricket fell to the ground, since there is no floor on the deck at the moment.

The floor-less deck in daylight.

Logan and Sadie

I decided to take Sadie for a walk late in the afternoon, hoping to add another mile to my total. Walking, even at my pace, would be good for this high-energy dog. It might have been a humdrum outing, but I heard running footsteps behind me, and there was Logan (10)! He asked if he could go with me as he pulled on his jacket. Sadie was very excited to see her two-legged playmate. In an instant she rushed at him, jumping for joy. After passing two leashed dogs at the top of our street, she began to play roughly with Logan. I don’t like her jumping on him like that. As I held her tightly, she backed out of her collar! When I fumbled getting it back on, Logan clicked the collar easily. Sadie escaped again. I am so relieved she didn’t run away. Who knew an afternoon stroll would turn into a wrestling match? Thankfully, Sadie calmed down, and we walked to the stop sign without further trouble.

The sunlight was fading quickly as we headed home. Logan agreed to hold Sadie and pose, because he knows I love taking photos of him. You can see the golden light of a fall afternoon surrounding boy and dog. We got home as dusk deepened, when it would have been dangerous to walk on the road.

Still Only One Candle!

Yesterday was son John $pencer’s birthday. I used several of the photographs from his first birthday 40 years ago in a blog post, but I didn’t use the one showing him with his birthday cake. I liked the-deer-in-the-headlights pose.

John $pencer on his first birthday

He agreed to a non-flash photo this time around, and his smile was my reward. I was amused to find he still has only one candle on his cake. He was fun at one, but his stories have improved dramatically.

The cake was put together with things I had in the house. The layers were devil’s food cake, chocolate moose tracks ice cream, and whipped topping. M & M’s were sprinkled on top, and we had just-made hot fudge sauce to ladle over it. The sauce would have made cardboard taste good.

England 40 Years Ago — October 12, 1980

Here I am again after a wonderful visit with my folks. It was so good to have people to share son John $ with, to have help in the kitchen, buffers for the war zones between the girls, and to catch up on all the news that somehow never gets written.

The only disaster during their stay was a visit we had from the Lutheran pastor who has refused to give Lisa communion. She had taken a class and was regularly taking communion at our home church. The pastor said he will consider giving her a blessing at communion time as he does for infants. [This was a blessing, after all. We didn’t go back to the Lutheran church, preferring to go to English churches for the rest of our time there.]

I was summoned for a conference with the head mistress about Kate. I don’t know why being called in makes me feel I’m to be reprimanded, but I was glad when it was over. Miss Kinman suggested we either get a tutor for her or put her in a lower form. I was shocked to find that poor Kate had been struggling with 4th grade work as if she’d skipped a grade. We had made it clear that she was with children a year younger during our first interview, and the woman then told us she would be in 2nd form. I thought Kate was with the right age group and that Lisa was with those a year younger than herself. Turned out Miss Kinman always likes to keep youngsters in the correct age group, but now understands why we wanted the other arrangement to begin with. Kate talks happily about school now and seems to be doing well. She is getting her preps done by 5:30 or 6 every night.

Mother had her hair done at the hairdresser’s where I get my hair cut. She told us that she could hardly understand the first girl who washed her hair, kept asking her to repeat things, and explained that she had a hard time understanding different accents. The girl said, “You’ll really have difficulty with the owner who comes from Germany.” The owner started work on her, and Mother found she could understand every word the first time!

Someone asked what a common is, and Lisa popped up with the answer. She said it was an open place and anyone who is common can go there.

One morning my father woke earlier than I did and busied himself making biscuits for breakfast. That’s the first time I’ve ever come into a pre-opened kitchen – every drawer and cabinet was open because he was searching for the ingredients. The biscuits were delicious!

Last weekend we went to Dover, saw the hovercraft, had glimpses of the huge castle there, and drove on to Deal to go through the coastal artillery fort built by Henry VIII. I enjoyed that scalloped castle, though it is stark and not a beautiful dwelling as some are. We also drove through Canterbury, though not too close to the cathedral.

Family at Deal Castle

We also drove through the Knole property where everyone enjoyed the semi-tame deer. We went on to Leeds Castle, the most lovely castle we’ve seen so far. Someone commented that it is a fairy-tale place. Parts of it are ancient, parts just old, but gorgeously furnished.

It was quite cool while my folks were here, and one evening they and I became chilled while sitting talking. I did the quickest thing I could think of and got us each a blanket. John came to the door, stopped short, said we looked like furniture with dust sheets, and offered to turn on the heat. It’s funny that I never considered heating the whole house. I was too well-trained in survival techniques from winters in Stony Brook.

One day while the girls were in school we drove to a large estate where the gardens are open to the public. The four large lakes are lovely, just like landscapes painted by English artists.

One of the lakes at Sheffield Park, with the stately home in the background

We kept on the move and realized it was terribly windy when we got back to the car to eat a picnic lunch. My folks did the sensible thing and climbed in the car, but I kept $ in the stroller to feed him. We would have had wall to wall cottage cheese if I’d turned him loose in the car. His hair was standing straight up, and he’d squint up his eyes to see the food coming toward him. That baby never ate so slowly! He finally finished, and I started changing him which I couldn’t do on top of peanut butter sandwiches in the back seat. The wind was whistling around the corners of the car, but I battled on. Had to hold $ with one hand, the dry diapers in place with another, and felt it might be easier to manipulate the pins with my teeth. At this point a real gust picked up the stroller and started hurtling it down a hill. A wild hook with the foot missed, and on it sailed. Somehow I finally got it all together, much to the amusement of a couple calmly eating their lunch in another car. Nice to know I provided mealtime entertainment.

One day I was working in the kitchen while $ thumped around, and I was unaware he had climbed the stairs and headed straight for the shower room. I found him happily chewing on the drain strainer and sitting in the wettest puddle. He lived up to part of his nickname – Sopper. I wonder how many times he’s done that, and I thought the wetness was from another source.

Kate left her hairbrush within someone’s reach, and the whole upstairs got the brush-off. Stirred up the dirt so effectively that I was able to fill the carpet sweeper quickly.

The afternoon my folks left, John $ didn’t sleep well. I think he was cold. I climbed in my snug sack and held a nap in my lap. He slept for an hour before it was time to get the girls from school.

My dad playing with $. $ used the night table to climb up on the bed in the guest room.

We celebrated $’s first birthday by letting him chew on a pretty birthday card or so, opening presents, and eating cake. He loved his new dog, disdained the new harness, and smacked his lips over the cake. Thank you all for his gifts, cards and birthday wishes. I don’t think he is any the wiser after this milestone, but hopefully we have pictures to show him in later years.

Today the girls were invited to dinner and a long walk with the family across the road. They were having two cousins from boarding school also.

Tomorrow John’s aunt and uncle arrive, and we’re looking forward to their visit.

Happy Birthdays to Bill, Bob, and Kathie. Also to everyone else I missed!