I took a photo in the kitchen, intending to use it to thank Chris and Steve who had given me a marvelous apple whomper several years ago. This gadget cores an apple and cuts it into wedges. The unusual part of it is a hinged bottom that pushes the apple all the way through the cutting edges. Because it works like a charm and we eat apples often, it was sitting on the counter. I was about to put three eggs on the counter for our breakfast, and I had the brilliant idea of keeping them contained on the apple gadget. It worked like a charm. The eggs made no attempt to escape, and we had a happy breakfast.

Fast forward to lunchtime. Instead of using the method that worked before, I put one egg on the counter and thought it was secure. I had never had an egg roll off the counter and didn’t expect it to happen then. As I put the egg carton in the refrigerator, I heard a splat on the floor behind me.

That renegade egg sought freedom in a desperate way and is probably now cavorting with Humpty Dumpty. There were no king’s horses or king’s men at hand, so Mistress Mehrling stooped to the lowly job of cleaning a large egg off the floor. She will publicly thank the apple whomper for its service and reward it with a permanent home on the counter if it agrees to be the egg corral from this day forward.

I Found the Nth Degree!

It was 29F (-1.7C) when we walked yesterday. Neighbor Marla said, “You won’t be leaving anything on my post today.”

She was right. We were wearing our usual layers, and we were comfortable. My windbreaker stayed on and zipped, not hanging on her mailbox post to be picked up on my way home.

One day later was a different story. It was 28F (-2.2C). After chatting with Marla, Bob, and Logan, I was chilled on the edges. Fingers, toes, and ears were reporting in negatively near the creek. John whipped a knit hat out of his pocket and added it on top of the lovely hat friend Karen knit for me. I was no longer making a fashion statement, but my ears had thawed by the time we got home.

I’ve decided the Nth degree must be 28F, as defined by my numb ears.

Dark hat covers my multi-colored favorite.

Karen’s hat might say it was over the top.

Hilarity on Qualla Road

The temperature was just below freezing, but it looked a lot colder than that. Rime ice formed on the trees at higher elevations, creating very wintry scenes.

John and I were on the way back from the creek, walking at a good pace before we got to the steep part of Qualla Road. A woman, who was about 40 years old, rolled down the window of her car. We all burst into laughter when she called out, “I want to be like you when I grow up!”

We had no instant reply, but her smiling face and amusing statement made our day.

One-eyed Walking

It was 18 F (-7.8 C) when we went walking this morning. I knew to wear a sweater and my winter coat, since that was comfortable yesterday when the temperature was 22 F (-5.6 C). I was still in sneakers, while John switched to his work boots. I suppose I was generating heat, and that’s why the left lens of my glasses fogged up. On a normal day I have a hard enough time seeing the ground with trifocals, so navigating today was a little harder. The lens cleared up when I stood at the creek.

There was a bit of excitement in the pasture today. As we sat down to eat, John noticed horse DW lift his head and stand in an alert pose. DW watched something intently, then trotted to the fence. Soon a horse approached the fence on the other side. Vixen joined them as a second horse arrived. All four have stayed close to the fence, watching each other as they graze. We tend to look for the animals as we sit down to eat, and they often keep us entertained.

After lunch I went outside to take a photo for neighbor Joyce, who gets as much pleasure from watching the horses as we do. She interrupted her work day to look at it and text me back. I was surprised at how warm it felt outside in the sun. I had gone out without a sweater and looked at the thermometer when I came in. It was 39 F (-3.9 C). Joyce said we are the toughest older people she knows. I was glad she didn’t say foolhardy.

In the Company of the Rich

On David’s day off, we went to Biltmore, the mansion in Asheville belonging to the Vanderbilt family. I remembered that the staff would be in the middle of removing Christmas decorations. David missed seeing the mansion decked out in Christmas finery, so he thought it would be interesting to see some of it. The entrance, dining hall, and breakfast room were back to normal, but many of the rooms were still decorated. The trees were lit on the second floor.

In the music room, cleaners were on scaffolding on wheels replacing drapes and dusting the walls. The industrial-sized duster was enough to give me nightmares. Several people were un-decorating trees in the gallery. I was amazed that they were in the same box stage as John is at our house, with storage boxes near the ornaments. Their setup was highly organized. As I walked toward this area, a woman dropped one of the round ornaments, easily six inches in diameter. It rolled out of the restricted area toward the feet of visitors. A man deftly retrieved it for the worker, and everyone laughed. Despite the ball’s delicate appearance, it was tough!

010919 Undecorating at Biltmore.JPG

Now you’ve seen how un-decoration is done with the rich, you can view John’s box stage at our house. The big difference is scope. I wouldn’t be surprised if John gets the job done before they do.

010919 Undecorating at the Mehrlings.JPG

One More Party

John’s sister Chris and Steve had a party for us celebrating two birthdays and a graduation. We met at a restaurant in Columbia, SC, roughly half the distance between our homes. I adore helium balloons, having not had them in my childhood. There was a balloon for three of us, tied to the backs of our chairs. When I took a photo of the group, I concentrated on getting all the faces.

010719 Steve John David Chris.JPG

The faces had smiles on them throughout the meal as we chatted about the joys of cruising (two for, two against, and one not experienced), mutual friends from our church on Long Island, special time that Dr. Mehrling spent with his children, one hilarious story about shoes in bed, and another about a dog house that turned out to be a pump house for the well. As usual, conversation never flagged.

Although the happy faces were no longer under the balloons, I thought the balloons deserved their own preservation. Wait staff and patrons commented on them in the restaurant, and we had many wishes for a happy birthday as we walked outside. Note to self: balloons are real attention-getters in a public place.

010719 Celebration balloons.JPG

Last Christmas Party of the Season

Our family gathering in Charlotte was technically still in the Christmas season, since it was the day before Epiphany. The date didn’t matter, because our hearts were festive. The celebrants were relatives of brother Bob and Beth. Because of illness, Bob and daughter Julie were missing. Those pictured are Susan, closest to the camera, and left to right Bill, John, Kathie, Sam, Max, Kate, and Beth. Husband John was standing with me and out of range. Everyone was smiling, probably because they didn’t have to move or pose formally. I didn’t look, but I’m sure John was grinning, because he avoided being in it.

010519 Family Christmas in Charlotte.JPG

We had a lovely afternoon visiting with each other. The hilarity broke out when we played Speak Out. The game has plastic pieces that stretch your mouth. One person reads a game card with immobile lips, and the others try to guess what he is saying. Max and Sam were good sports and volunteered to go first.

010519 Max Sam with Speak Out mouthpieces.JPG

Susan went on the deck with her dog, coming back to tell us a deer was lying there watching them. Four or five of us walked out to see him, and he posed more willingly than humans. We were about 15 to 20 feet from him. He and his herd move freely on the land behind the condos that connects to a green belt. We saw at least six of them walking there. Can you believe I saw more deer in the city of Charlotte in one afternoon than I’ve seen in the mountains in four years?

010519 Deer in Susan's backyard.JPG

I texted Beth to let her know we were home safely. Her drive to Winston Salem should have been shorter than ours to Waynesville. It wasn’t. A tire blew out, and AAA rescued her by putting the spare donut tire on the car. She made it home without further incident.

One day later niece Julie and her friend Tommy picked up our grandson Nathaniel from the airport in Charlotte. He was returning from Christmas break with his dad. They took him out to brunch and delivered him to his dorm. What a kindness that was!

010619 Julie picked up Nathaniel from airport.jpg

Everyone is back in place and ready to resume normal living after a wonderful Christmas season.