Our Nephew, the Author

Rumor had it that our nephew Lars Brownworth made a best seller list. When I saw him yesterday, I asked where to find it. It was on a monthly list from the New York Times under the category Expeditions, Disasters, and Adventures. His book The Sea Wolves about Vikings was number 7 for June. I presume it will still be online until July 1. I tried to copy and paste it here, but it wasn’t readable. If you want to see it yourself, go to the New York Times web site under best sellers. The monthly categories are listed on the left side of the page.

061414 Catherine LarsI’m bursting with pride in his accomplishment. I have a feeling many of our family members and friends have done noteworthy things that have not been publicized. If anyone has good news, please share so that we can shout it from the rooftop. On second thought, we’ll use a WordPress blog to reach more people.

Winner, It’s Pooh

Logan, who lives across the street, celebrated his fifth birthday with a Pooh party. The boy was totally delightful – excited, exuberant, and polite! The excitement had been building all day until dinner time, yet he didn’t have a meltdown from all the stress. I loved watching him pin the tail on Eeyore. He was tempted to peek around the blindfold, but he stuck to the rules. He and his little niece took turns, then they included Dennis who is six feet tall. Eeyore was about two feet off the floor, so Dennis spun around on his knees before aiming. After half an hour or so, Logan wanted to pin on more tails with just as much excitement as the first time. That little boy was a winner.

062415 Pin tail on Eeyore  062415 Dennis 6 feet tall kneels to pin tail

Logan’s mom took the cake with all the decorations and special food. Pooh presided over the festivities from his perch on the chandelier. On the table were cupcake liners with honeycomb cereal, pretzels that might have been Pooh sticks, tiny bear cookies, and the birthday cake. The cake represented a honey jar complete with marshmallow bees and tiger tail candles. Shawn’s artistic ability was much in evidence.

062415 Bob Shawn Pooh on light  062415 Pooh bookends

062415 Logan with honey pot cake

While Logan was playing, his dad readied the tablet, which was his big gift. Bob downloaded a disk, installed the batteries, and had it ready to play with before Logan got ready for bed. We were very pleased to have been included in this special celebration.

062415 Bob AM Logan JC
John and I with Logan

062415 Dennis with broken party favor

Father’s Day Revisited

We celebrated Father’s Day a day late with our son John $ by driving to Tennessee. He found the most delightful restaurant in Maryville, Sullivan’s Downtown on W Broadway. It was a locally owned restaurant with an interesting menu and good service. As we drove through the town, I craned my neck and tried to recognize anything from the last time I was there. It was the summer of 1960, and my parents and I were on our way to pick up my brother from his summ062215 Bench at ice cream shop in Maryvilleer job as a camp counselor. I requested that we go through the town because my BFF Becky would be going to college there in a few weeks. These many years later I saw absolutely nothing I recognized. I read later that the restaurant was in the old J C Penny building, erected in 1925. Just down the street was a coffee/ice cream shop with an amusing bench in front.

Fortified with shrimp and grits, scrod, and a deluxe hamburger, we drove to Fort Loudoun (pronounced Loud-un with a swallowed “d”). This recreated fort was in use from 1756 – 1760 during the French and Indian War. The video was excellent, featuring re-enactors dressed for their parts. Husband and son are the history buffs, so I left the details to them. I was thrilled to find the young ranger grew up not more than 30 miles from my hometown. Of course, I thought he was riveting, with his amusing intro to the movie and lively tales of growing up in West Tennessee.

062215 Ft Loudoun center
Center of recreated Fort Loudoun
062215 Ft Loudoun JC near wall
John near an outer wall of the fort.

062215 Ft Loudoun $ reading in bed

We walked through the fort, and there were two things that I found most interesting. Outside the wooden walls was a hedge of ???? with thorns up to four inches long. You wouldn’t cross that lightly! Inside the barracks were bunk beds with tin candle holders. The soldiers might not have done it, but I imagined them reading in bed. I was pleased that the normally camera shy $ agreed to pose with the candle holders.

We drove over Fontana dam after a wild ride through the mountains. It seems the twisty road was fairly quiet until someone posted it on the internet. There are 318 curves in the 11-mile stretch and is now considered America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road. Its name? Tail of the Dragon. Signs warn you that it is illegal to stop on the grass to take photographs. $ was surprised at the lack of traffic on a Monday afternoon. I was surprised by three sets of photographers on three different turns. Wish I’d taken a picture of one of those setups. Each had a vehicle or so, a large sign with the name of the company, and two people sitting in camp chairs aiming cameras up the road in both directions. I presume some bikers might stop to buy a souvenir shot of themselves on the famous road. Somewhere there must be three deleted shots of Snot, our Sonata, with $ and me visible through the windshield.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”

Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.

Mehrling Muse, the name of my blog, seemed to suit me. I often do things backwards, so starting with my last name seemed appropriate. I like to make people smile, so something aMUSing seemed appropriate. We had well-loved cats years ago, and we heard mew, mew, MEWS all day long. Finally, I am a MUSician. You know now that I like to pun. This was written in five minutes, because we are celebrating Father’s Day one day late with our son.

The assignment today went on about writer’s block. I’ve read about it but rarely experienced it. Of course, there is a difference in writing when you feel like it and writing something to order. Many times I’ve started writing by saying I had nothing to write about, and then I filled a page or so with ramblings. Words swirl around in my head constantly, and sometimes they just have to burst out. Blogging is the perfect medium for me.

Church Roulette

On the longest day of the year, we played church roulette and lost. It was Father’s Day. Our son had suggested several outings that John would like, and he chose going to Old Fort. Rather than go to church near home, we opted to drive first and be nearer our destination when we went to church. We were out of practice with the game, not having traveled on a Sunday in a long while. When we used to go on two-week vacations, we’d keep going toward our next stop and look for a church on the way. We didn’t have GPS devices or cell phones back then, but we did get off the interstates onto smaller roads. As we cruised through towns, we looked for Protestant churches that had a service in the next 15 minutes. Once in a while we found one with an early service, but if we didn’t, there was always the standard 11 o’clock time.

Today we were playing the modern way, with a Garmin poised and ready. I’d find a church listed with its distance, and John would approve or disapprove. This device didn’t give any information other than distance and time to travel. We thought we’d done it just right, getting off the interstate and arriving at the church only a few minutes late. Wrong! The large parking lot was totally empty. Not even hangers-on were still there. The sign explained everything. Service at 8:30; Sunday School at 9:30. We were there at 11:05. We lost.

091514  Geyser at Old Fort
Andrew’s Geyser near Old Fort, NC

When we got to Andrew’s Geyser, John removed his jacket and tie. He would have been overdressed for a summer service in the South, anyway. We had bought barbeque sandwiches on the way and ate them beside a mountain stream. John is a train buff extraordinaire, so we were there to wait for a train, any train, that would climb through the Loops. Meanwhile, we were entertained by a young couple with a large dog. Repeatedly they threw an orange Frisbee, and the dog caught it like a football player. The dog began to run before his owner threw it, and he caught it midair almost every time. Play was wetter when the threesome went into the stream. The humans picked their way from rock to rock, but the dog could run in the stream. They were fun to watch.

102311 engine from geyser
Photo taken 10/23/11. Think spring, not fall.

John had forgotten to bring a book, so he listened to a CD while I read the newspaper we’d brought from home. He had already read it online in the wee hours. Although he was in the car, his antennae were tuned for the sound of the train climbing the mountain. He was getting out of the car as I got up to get him. We watched the train, pulled by three diesels, as its wheels squealed around the steep curve. When the train had gone, we drove on a small gravel road over the mountain and down to Ridgecrest. John found a good place to park in Black Mountain minutes before the train passed. He considered it a successful celebration of the day, and we headed home.

Who Takes Pictures of Chickens?

Who takes pictures of chickens? I do when the situation presents itself. I was almost home from the morning walk and turned into our street. A chicken was strutting about on the lawn at the turn, clearly pleased to be there. Oh, no! Could it belong to our neighbors across from us who were away on vacation? Without thinking twice, I whipped out the toy camera and shot it. I talked to it for a minute and went home, wondering if I should text Shawn. I wouldn’t know how to handle a chicken, but I would have tried if she told me what to do. There ensued a string of messages.

Anne: Something fowl in Angie’s yard a few minutes ago. Brown with red comb. Hope it’s not yours. No others visible.

S: Oh, no!!!! Alive or dead?

A: Very much alive. If I see it again, what should I do? I took a photo. Don’t know that I could send it here.

S: Yes, u can send it here. If you can grab her they usually lay down for you and can u put her in the coop?

061815 Not Shawn's chicken

A: Did the pic come through?

S: Yes, but we don’t think she’s ours. Our friend that’s caring for them is now heading over to check.

A short while later:

S: It’s not our chicken! Belongs to the teen who lives there.

A: Sorry to have troubled you about the chicken. Wanted to help if it had been yours.

S: No I’m so thankful you did as a fox could have gotten in the coop. Hence the fear.

I was relieved to see lights on in their house a few days later. I would be off chicken duty, with no need to take identity shots again.

John came in f062015 Neighbors on their roofrom our front porch and told me the neighbors were on their roof, cleaning the gutters. That was something I didn’t want to miss. I shouted to ask if I could take a picture, and they gave permission. I tell you, living in the Smokies is one fun adventure after another. I laughed when the owner sprayed the teen with the hose. It was a very warm day and undoubtedly felt good. If I’d been gardening, I might have gone over asking for a spray myself.

A Moving Visit with Sneaky Ad for WordPress

061915 Steve Chris JC
Steve, Christ, and John

We had a great, short visit with John’s sister Chris and Steve. This is a tribute to their powers of concentration, rather than anything we did. They were in the middle of moving from Pennsylvania to South Carolina. Originally they planned to be here for three or four days, but the arrival of the moving van was advanced. They would be here only one night. You know their minds must have been racing ahead, mentally placing furniture in various rooms and trying to remember where they packed the coffee pot. You wouldn’t have known it from their conversation.

Chris has yet to see the house. She couldn’t be there when Steve was looking at it, so there was a flurry of phone calls and pictures before he signed the deal. We learned they were used to that. The same thing happened when they moved from Long Island to Morgantown, PA.

I’m currently taking the free on-line course Blogging101 given by WordPress. This is one of those hidden ads in plain sight, as you might see in a newspaper or magazine. Steve made a statement that Southern Living magazine has great tips on gardening, but he had not noticed answers to gritty questions like keeping a lawn looking great when the weeds come up. After they left, I leafed through the magazine on our counter. The editor wrote about the garden column in the current issue, giving the blog address as southernliving.com/grumpy. (Copy and paste that in your web browser.) Lo and behold! The blog is hosted by none other than WordPress! Hooray for the home team!

Chris and Steve left mid-morning, expecting the trip to take less than five hours to get to their new home. John and I are still marveling at the state of their cars. We peered in and exclaimed, “You can’t be moving! You can still see out of the back of your cars!”

They knew how to move the right way. All their belongings, except for a few items, were on the truck. We were the opposite. We made numerous trips in the big Jeep, back and forth, always loaded to the gunwales. The vehicle probably looked like a chicken coop – untidy, raggedy, with feathers flying out the windows. Several times John made a hasty sign that we could see through a rear window, “Do not open.” That was a warning that the window was booby-trapped and would spill out possessions if you made a mistake and opened it. I still think that some of the items we never found must have leaked out. Now, almost a year later, I’m often surprised to look in the rearview mirror and see the road behind me.