Last Mailbox Warming

The temperature was only three degrees warmer than the previous day, but the windbreaker and hat I wore both days were too much. I left them to warm Connie’s and Marla’s mailbox as we walked on to the creek. With warmer weather coming, this was probably the last time I would use their mailbox as a coat rack. They are moving at the end of the month. We’re thankful they will be only 28 miles away (15 miles as the crow flies).

Marla didn’t realize her car was posing for the photo as she pulled out of her driveway. It seemed fitting that she was on the scene for this historic moment. When she stopped to chat with us, Albert added sound effects by barking from the porch. We will miss him, too.

Hat by Karen. It is perched on the post.

Rejuvenated at the Supermarket

The whole world is concentrating on COVID-19, since it has affected everyone in some way. Because it was raining at the time we usually take our 2.5-mile walk, we did our grocery shopping at the tail end of senior-time. Since our state now has rules about staying apart, our store set aside two days for seniors to shop between 7 and 8 in the morning. At 77, I’m probably in the middle of the older category. I was impressed that the atmosphere was pleasant. People moved at their own slow rate, calmly making choices. Most were aware of other shoppers, so that there were few clogs in the aisles. There were no loafers or sneakers there, either. We oldsters have honed our coping skills, helping us to be patient and friendly. We would rather be known as patient in the grocery than the hospital, so we were careful with each other. I can’t say I always feel good about being old, but today I was thrilled to note that I had more speed than most. I was walking upright on my own, not using the cart as a crutch or a walker. Not using a motorized cart, I could reach everything we needed. Both John and I could read the grocery list, no small wonder since I had written it. Shopping was a great experience, because I came out feeling 20 years younger than I did going in. That kind of regression was a heady experience, one worth repeating on a weekly basis.

We hope all of you are coping easily and managing to avoid contamination.

A New Pew

We found a new place to worship at our church. A week ago we watched a video of the service in the dining area using a laptop. This time we saw the service streamed at the usual hour, and we were using a desktop. We could hear it without straining, and even better, we could sing at our usual volume. Whispering to sing is difficult! Grandson David grasps electronics faster than I do, so he was in control. People around us conjecture what life after COVID-19 will be like. I think we’ll have to install recliners in churches instead of pews. Some will have lift seats to help us oldsters stand up at the proper times.

Note John’s white shirt. He dresses for church, even if it’s in a bedroom.

Son John $pencer and Rose found a place to rent for a short term where they can more easily control their environment and lessen the chance of getting the corona virus. Our service was over when they finished packing and said goodbye. I’m always thrilled to have a good likeness of people I love, even if it is taken when they are leaving.

Sunday dinner was at the same venue as last week – Richland Creek near the rec center. In fact, we had the same table and sat in the same places, though Nathaniel was gone. This time we brought food from Haywood 209 Cafe. The wind made it a bit challenging to keep things on the table. We managed to keep it all under control and back in the car, following the camping protocol of “leave no trace”.

You can’t see the strong wind here.

We enjoyed a long drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This time there was no heavy fog, and we could see the long views that are so lovely here. We went to Looking Glass Falls, always impressive in every season. David went down to the base, but I’m glad to say the daredevil near the falls in my photo was not David.

Rose sent a picture of $ and Sadie, showing man and dog enjoying their new home after unpacking. The house is on a hillside overlooking a country road and a creek as large as our Jonathan Creek. If I begin to get jealous, I must find my CD of a mountain stream.

Sadie and John $pencer

COVID-19 Days

The first displacement of the virus brought grandson Nathaniel to us for a week after his university closed down. He recovered from his head cold, lowered the mirror the night before he left, and he and John got up at 3 am to get to the airport in Charlotte. His dad picked him up at Newark Airport, and they drove to his house upstate New York. There he will have a room with peace and quiet to do his online classes.

I enjoyed the birds feeding on the deck and tried to refill the bird feeder to keep the show going. I dropped the feeder, attempted to put it back together, and dropped it a second time. Cute though it was, the feeder could not take that abuse. The birds landed on the roof of the feeder and could see all the spilled seeds on the deck. Other birds went straight to the railing to peck at the suet cakes. They adapted quickly, I’ll say that for them. It was almost time to quit feeding them, anyway. Neighbor Joyce is tracking the migration of the hummingbirds and thinks the males will be here soon. None of the birds realize we are not as free as they are.

Roof left hanging and feeder on the railing

Joyce was the first to think of perching on the porch. We are not supposed to go in each other’s homes to visit, but we could be in the fresh air outside and stay six feet apart. She was the first to come to my porch. She basked in the sun, while I sat in the shadows, and we had a most satisfying chat. Someone commented that I should take a photo of porch-sitting, but I forgot to do it.

The next day neighbor Connie took a break from packing to move, and she visited with me on the porch. Bless her heart, she was willing to pose, so our visit was documented. Wasps kept circling close to her, which was unnerving. Son John $pencer found wasp spray and hit a few of the critters. Connie and I saw one die on the floor. I was armed with a fly swatter and the spray, but I didn’t kill any of them. At least the spray served as a warning, keeping them away from us. In the photo you can see the spray bottle on the small table and my chair beyond it. Our chairs were over six feet apart at that point. There is nothing like face-to-face conversation, even if your faces are required to be far apart.

Connie on the porch

I got my revenge on a wasp the next day. Opening the mailbox, I found a large one sitting on some letters. I gently pulled the mail out, but the wasp went toward the back. Using a piece of daughter Lise’s junk mail, I raked at it and poked it. Luckily it was stunned. I swatted it down and ground it to smithereens with my foot. I didn’t know death could bring such pleasure. Oh death, where is thy sting? It’s in the gravel where it can’t hurt me.

Home Church and Dinner by the Creek

We assembled our home church to worship Sunday morning, since our services were canceled because of the corona virus. John printed the worship outline from the church web site and stapled the pages for each of us. He had two hymnals, bought when we lived in New York, for us to share. I set up a laptop, and grandsons David and Nathaniel moved chairs into place. A few days before, the pastor, organist, and several choir members taped the service that we watched. After a short break, we watched a Bible study the pastor had prepared for the day. We missed greeting friends, but we were all safer for that.

Having church at home

We bought barbecue sandwiches from one of our favorite places and ate them at Richland Creek near the rec center in Waynesville. There were lots of friendly dog-walkers on the sidewalk. We were surprised that a number of them spoke to us. I’m not sure that would have happened on a normal Sunday, but I think people were missing contact with others. This was far different from Sunday dinner at a restaurant, but it was celebratory in its own way.

Can you tell which grandson is warm-natured?

That afternoon I went out on the deck to look at the burn pile, which seemed a bit ragged. There were large sticks scattered around the edges. David confirmed my supposition. Dog Sadie loves chasing sticks, so either she pulled them from the pile, or she ran with them while playing with a human. I found it amusing that she left a message for me with sticks. I read it as saying she missed being here and looked forward to coming back.

Rose sent us Sadie’s portrait taken at their campsite.

Do you have pets that leave messages for you? I don’t mean the pile by the door that says you didn’t open it in time. Do they tell you they love you and miss you?

COVID-19 Picnic

We are a family of somewhat happy refugees, waiting for developing news of the corona virus. John rescued grandson Nathaniel from Charlotte after his university closed. Our poor student was suffering from an awful head cold, diagnosed by a walk-in health facility. It definitely was not the dreaded virus. He didn’t do the mirror ritual until 12 hours after he arrived.

Nathaniel moves the mirror up to show he is with us.

Son John $pencer and Rose left our house to avoid Nathaniel’s illness. They checked in with us from time to time with calls and texts, which I really appreciated. While they were hiking, Rose texted, “It’s a beautiful day here. I hope you are all enjoying it as much as I am.”

The next day they hiked to the ridge line and got a good signal. Rose wrote, “I hope you all stay well. We are in our element here and enjoying our freedom and break from the news.” She sent me a photo of their campsite.

As that photo was coming in, David, Nathaniel, and I were chatting with Lise in Denmark. She was supposed to go to Sweden to appear in a promotional video for a new type of stomach balloon for weight loss. The border was closed because of the virus, but they were able to do the video in Denmark. She was having stomach cramps because of the procedure. She explained that this would be the worst day, and she would feel much better the next day. As we chatted, she made up a new verse of the Misery song. Years ago she made up a song with the boys because she had a miserable cold. After that, she would add a verse when any of them felt bad. Today’s verse was something about “If I pop, you’ll need a mop”.

Lise said in Denmark people are required to stay 6 feet apart. From her flat, she looks down on the street outside a bakery. They have put tape on the sidewalk, marking intervals of 6 feet for those waiting to go inside one at a time.

The boys and I had a picnic lunch on the front porch. Normally we eat on the screened porch at the back, but it was windy and cold there. The fellows sat in the sun as I hid in the shadows.

Porch picnic

Nathaniel went inside and came back with his vintage leather jacket. He wanted it to warm up in the sun and said, “I feel like Pastor Hofler in this jacket. All I need is a cigar to compete the picture.”

David might have leaned forward to get out of the picture. Note toes high-lighted with white.

The sky was very busy, making me think that people were flying because they couldn’t shop. Every time I looked at the sky, I saw another plane streaking over. As old contrails disappeared, new ones took their place. I showed the boys what I saw – a cloud in the center of a tic-tac-toe grid.

Sky tic-tac-toe

Have any of you had pleasant things happen related to the viral pandemic?

Viral Pan-panic

What a week of change! I last wrote about loving my bed, with no thought of preparing to die in it. We knew the COVID 19 virus was spreading, though there were no cases in our county. Suddenly all the schools closed, churches canceled services, and all restaurant dining rooms were shut. The only things that changed in our house were not going to church and the cutting of grandson David’s hours at a fast food restaurant. Burger King can function with only three employees per shift, since they are now operating totally through the drive-through window. David has always washed his hands thoroughly and has now doubled his awareness of the spread of a virus.

We wanted to get out of the house safely and drove to our favorite waterfall. John took a nap in the car as David and I enjoyed Sunburst Falls. I said we had silent worship there with the falling water. I always think of living water welling up to eternal life and paused to thank God for what He does for us.

The most dangerous part of the day was driving in heavy, heavy fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way home, we stopped by an Italian restaurant and picked up a stromboli full of meat and cheese to bring home. That was a winner.

Grandson Nathaniel was able to keep working until his university closed the dorms. Overnight he had to make plans to remove all his belongings, which had been accumulating for two years. He and John managed to cram everything in the mini-van. It was so warm by the time they got here that we had lunch on the back porch. Nathaniel plans to fly to stay with his dad next week.

We will now begin the next stage of anti-panic living. This is “V” living –virtual hugs and verbal “love you” phrases for victory over the virus.

I pray all who read this will be safe and well.