Carols and Collections

We planned to meet James at St Mark’s in Asheville after he told us they were having a service of lessons and carols. We had no idea it would start with such a poignant announcement. Pastor Webb talked about the beautiful stole he was wearing. It belonged to James, the man we were sitting with in the pew! James’ late wife Margaret had it made for James. Margaret’s sister in England had a friend who created it. Holding up a photograph, Pastor Webb said the artist had made a stole for John Paul II when he visited England in 1982.   James’ stole had bits of cloth from Westminster Abbey incorporated in it. It was stunningly beautiful in a stately way. Margaret loved that service and was often a reader for it. As James said, people loved the way she pronounced Isaiah with her cultured English accent. What he didn’t need to say was that Margaret was a much-loved member of that congregation and sorely missed.

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t finagle a picture of the pastor wearing it. The photos I took before the service show the inside of the church and the front door standing open in the extremely warm weather.

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As planned, we went to the Moose Café for lunch. What a delightful time we had! James is a highly skilled conversationalist. With a deft question here and there, he kept us talking about things we all were interested in.


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David, John, Anne, and James

After James left, we wandered through the farmer’s market next door. It was good for us to walk after a heavy meal, and we were killing time. Strangling time was more like it. Nathaniel’s flight was not due into Greenville, SC, until 7 in the evening.


As we drove on, I wondered if we could go to Bat Cave. We’ve often driven by the exit for the town, and I always wanted to know what it looked like. It turned out to be an old fashioned tourist spot. There are still rooms and cabins for rent, but they aren’t slick and glitzy. John twice let David and me out beside the roaring stream to take photos and enjoy the sound of the rocks dancing around the boulders. I knew the area near Hendersonville was noted for apple production, and we saw many orchards on both sides of the road.

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Stream in Bat Cave


David went in the terminal to wait for Nathaniel while John and I parked in the cell phone waiting area. We were busy with our phones. Nathaniel let us know he had landed, and David signaled that they were waiting beyond the second poinsettia Christmas tree. Without further ado, we collected them and headed home.


Having a quick exchange of gifts was the first thing we did. We had dessert of Christmas cookies and eggnog. I took a shot of Nathaniel with his head on Grandpa’s shoulder. When he was little, a long time ago, he would throw himself on his granddad and say, “Teddy.” He has a much more grown-up version now, breathing out “Roosevelt” as he plops his head down. We meandered off to bed. It’s no surprise that I won, being the first in bed and the first asleep.

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Nathaniel and David open gifts
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John and Nathaniel


We went to church in Asheville on Christmas Eve, arriving shortly before the service was due to begin. I think we got the last three contiguous seats for that very popular candlelight service.

David and John didn’t want their pictures taken first thing Christmas morning, but they agreed to put their feet near the stockings.

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We rushed to church midmorning, but there was no need to hurry to the church in Clyde. Most people stayed at home. The pastor must have counted the people as he made announcements, because he said we could all come up to the altar together. It was a cozy time of worship.

Things began to liven up as Belle and her friend Rita from Sylva and our new neighbors came for dinner. After they moved in, we met Marla walking her dog as we walked to the creek. They were originally from Indiana but had spent some years on the other side of the mountains in Tennessee. They brought lots of goodies – fresh fruit with a dip, cookies, candies, a grape salad, and a fruit dip with Graham crackers. We also had two dips, spinach and salsa, followed by a chicken casserole, vegetable casserole, lemon lime salad, frozen cranberry salad, and the flamed Christmas pudding.


I thought the refrigerator would be emptied after the meal, but it was chock full of leftovers. I took a photo, because I’d never had a fridge that full before.

122615 Fridge chock full

The day after Christmas we had no plans. We moseyed to Waynesville, walking up and down Main Street. The town was crowded with others, like us, in shirt sleeves or wearing light sweaters. I particularly enjoyed going through Mast General Store. They had all kinds of things displayed on three levels. As we drove home, David asked if we could eat lunch on the porch. He cleaned the table while I put the meal together. Can you believe we sat there eating without sweaters or coats on the 26th of December?

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David and John eating on the porch on Dec. 26


Warm Greetings on Christmas Eve

Warm greetings are highly desirable on a cold winter day. They seem a bit redundant during a heat wave, as we have here in North Carolina. During the night there were hours of heavy rain with lightning and thunder. This morning John drove us down to see Jonathan Creek, swollen with muddy water.

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For the noon meal, John grilled apple sausages on the back porch. We might have been tempted to eat out there if the table had been clean.

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We went to church in Asheville, driving through some patches of fog. Every seat was taken for that candlelight service. As folding chairs were added, people were asked to open the window nearest them.



Back at home, we lit candles and had the fireplace going while we celebrated with eggnog and Lebkuchen. We didn’t leave the home fires burning for long!


From the South, warm greetings to all of you.


Merry Christmas!


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David, Anne, and John on Christmas Eve

A Super Birthday

I think birthdays get better the older you get. Mine this year was perfect. People phoned, posted messages on Facebook and via e-mail, sent e-cards, and chatted via text. How rich I am with family and friends!

Son John $ cooked breakfast for us. We had English muffins topped with dilled scrambled eggs and cheese, bacon, and for two of us, livermush. For lunch, John treated us to Italian food at Frankie’s, a restaurant that we have intended to try since we moved here. It exceeded expectations.

Our neighbors are perfect, too. Where else could John have made two phone calls and conjured up an instant party? He bought a double chocolate cake, made coffee, set the table, positioned the balloon, and mixed in congenial neighbors who are dear friends.

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Five-year-old Logan was doing very well sitting at the table with adults. This boundless bundle of energy controlled himself admirably. John set up the gift Shawn and Bob brought him, a “Train in a Box”. Logan loved it, even going outside to bring in horses from the train set on the porch.


122215 Trai in a box D Logan JC.JPGI gathered three original Pollock mobiles and put them at his place to stave off boredom. What fun he had! The toy camera tried to catch the spirit and the action, but failed. 122215 Logan playing with Pollock originals

Logan quickly learned to blow on the mobiles to bring them to life.

I’m so glad I didn’t feel older just because the calendar says I am.

A New York Sunday

We missed seeing Nathaniel because he was involved in a fencing tournament all day. He was too tired to go to the Baroque concert with us, but we picked him up to have breakfast with us before church. I got a quick picture of the brothers as they goofed around in the parking lot.

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David and Nathaniel

There were many things we enjoyed at our former church. Best of all was seeing friends we’d known for donkey’s years. It was wonderful to have a service where the whole liturgy was sung intact.


We ate lunch with Barbara and Thom at a fun restaurant before dropping Nathaniel off at home.

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Thom squishing Nathaniel
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Barbara, John, and David








We were early getting to the city and walked to Rockefeller Center. It was an obstacle course! Imagine exiting an arena where you’ve just seen popular teams play a game, and you’ll know how many people were swarming the streets there in mid-town. It would have taken a long and patient time to get to the skating rink. I took a shot from the edge, and we worked our way to the main entrance to take a photo.

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Rockefeller ice rink
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Rockefeller Center








We had not been into St. Patrick’s cathedral since it was cleaned. We joined the throngs moving into the church. It had always been crowded at this time of year, but this was unreal.

I swear you can see anything in NY. A man was maneuvering near us, and he was holding a pizza box. He said to his companion, “I had no idea a service would be going on.”

I’m positi122015 St Patrick side sectionve the two of them were planning to have a quiet picnic in the pews!!!! As it was, almost every seat was taken. I took a shot in the side aisle where monitors showed what was going on at the high altar. I’m not sure if the noise I heard was loud tourists or contemporary music in the main part of the church.

I assumed we were going to a regular evensong at St. Thomas, but John knew it was the classic English service of lessons and carols. What a worship treat! Because the service is so popular, they did it twice on Sunday and will repeat it on Christmas Eve. Although we were quite early, all the center aisle seats were taken. We walked to the front of the church and around the front to take excellent seats in the fifth row. Ushers scoured the pews for empty places. The church was packed, every available place taken. Some of the descants probably went over our heads, but we’ll be able to hear them by streaming the service on the computer.

You aren’t allowed to take photos before or during a service, but others were posing after it. I persuaded John and David to step up to show people we were there. We shook the hand of the main pastor who was wishing everyone “Happy Christmas.” From that you’ll deduce he was from England. He responded to John’s telling him he listens to most services from our home in NC. As David shook his hand, he said, “Nice tie.”

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Family Visit and Christmas Music

Sister-in-law Barbara and Thom had reserved a whole day for us, and what a day it was! We talked and laughed non-stop. Barbara, always super-efficient, set out a lovely lunch, and they chose a Spanish restaurant for our evening meal. I hope I can be forgiven my lie. I told the singer I enjoyed her music, when I was really looking forward to the Baroque concert we went to. Believe me, musicians need all the encouragement they can get! I figured my words should have come from a real fan who wouldn’t think to compliment her.’


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Thom, John, Barbara, and David

From listening to John’s vast collection of Christmas music, I knew nearly all the selections for the evening. The musicians were among New York’s finest, and they seemed to truly enjoy singing and playing for us.


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Long Island Baroque Ensemble

This year they had the usual clown perform after the intermission. He did goofy things like pretending to use the bald head of the flutist as a mirror. He danced in the aisle, pulling up a woman from the audience to dance with him. John heard the story later, that she had a total knee replacement two months ago. She had a quick panic attack, thinking she couldn’t participate, but she was thrilled to find she could twirl freely. She went home with renewed confidence in herself.

David was on the aisle and wasn’t surprised that the clown used him as an assistant. He held the parts of the pole as the man added sections under a twirling plate. I got a shot or so, but Barbara used her phone to get a short video.



One of the great parts of the evening came during the wine and cheese reception following the concert. For some reason, the singers did not perform a round written for them. In the past, the new round would be sung, and the composers would be recognized. The woman who organizes the group handed out the music to everyone who could read music. She divided us into six parts, and we sight read it with ease while standing at the buffet table. I happened to be standing next to the cellist who had a rich baritone voice. It’s not often that members of an audience have a chance to perform and get a free souvenir to take home.

Our Visit in the Village

Early in the morning we left David sleeping in the motel and walked by the water in Stony Brook. This was where I exercised for more than 20 years.


Walking friend Tom was waiting for us. Because of the fierce wind, he hopped in our car for the show and tell session. He had a vase he’d bought at auction, along with an old book that included a picture of it. I won’t include the details now, but the book discussed the artist in depth. Tom handed us a small gadget, and we correctly guessed it was a nutcracker. He then pointed out the design that could be traced back to Italy. Lastly, he showed us two spoons that were made of melted coins. They had a high silver content, and now the spoons are getting more rare because people are melting them for the valuable silver. I remembere122115 Tom's spoons from melted coins.JPGd my brother and I had three spoons each that were purported to be the same type. I was eager to pull out mine to see if they were similar. They will differ in one respect – Tom’s were beautifully polished. As he was leaving, Tom presented the spoons to us as a Christmas present!

We chatted with Dave whom we’ve known for years. He asked especially about our son $ who is a kindred spirit. Both love to hike and camp out.

Our grandsons had been to a model train display in the village, and Tom also recommended it. I have a lighter appreciation for trains than John and David, but it was fun to watch the trains puff around the track.

121915 David John train show