More Summer Fun

The first night John’s sister Barbara and Thom came, we sat on the porch catching up on news. Now that they are retired, they walk in the morning like we do. I have a picture to prove they went to the creek with us.

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Yes, she is a New Yorker wearing a subway map.

At the top of the big hill, we found Logan eagerly waiting for the bus. It was the second day of school, but the first day for him to be on the bus this season. He ran, and Bob rushed to catch up and speak to the driver.

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That afternoon John noticed Logan standing at the edge of his property while we sat on the porch across the street. His whole body leaned forward, willing John to invite him over. John called him, and he ran to get permission. Barbara, a born teacher, went inside to get a book for Logan to look at. She expected him to look at the pictures of the US presidents, but he began reading aloud, “George Washington….”

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She brought out another book with pictures to look for, and Logan was instantly glued to it. She promised to leave it at our house for him to look at, which she did. I think she felt sorry for me after hearing that I forced myself to play checkers one day to entertain him.

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Barbara and Thom were interested in feeding the horses for a photo op. One of their granddaughters rides regularly and would enjoy seeing them with the animals. I went in the house for an apple and found son John $ with a cut apple in his hand, ready to bring it out.

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Barbara feeding DW

On the way back to the house, Barbara spied a black snake in bushes beside the house. I was amused that three of us were eager to catch it, but only with our cameras.

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See the black snake we were watching?

Our activity for the day was going to Cherokee to see demonstrations of Indian village life in the 1800’s. On an overlook there was a sign with writing in English and Cherokee. $ knows a lot about the Cherokee nation, and he said they are the only American Indians with a written language.

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We saw demonstrations of weaving, beading, making bows and arrows, making blowguns from bamboo, and hollowing out a log for a canoe. There were traps for animals, houses of various styles, and the lodge where everyone in the community would attend meetings. We all enjoyed talking to a young man with an accent. He came from Scotland to the US to study, and met and married his wife. Unlike the US government, which requires proof of blood relationship, the Cherokee clan accepts him as a full member. We enjoyed the group doing traditional dances. They laughed, teased each other, and paid special attention to the girl in the group whose birthday was that day.

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Bear Dance

For dinner, we went to a place called Butts on the Creek. We all liked the BBQ. Barbara had to try something none of us had ever had – fried corn on the cob. There was a light batter on it that was crispy and good.

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Our sibling reunion was lots of fun. Barbara and Thom were on their way to visit her and John’s sister Chris and Steve in SC. John had the idea of our meeting for lunch in Columbia, SC. It worked nicely, with all of us driving part of the way. We were on the late side of the lunch hour, so the staff did not mind that we sat and talked in the empty restaurant. All too soon it was time to leave. We headed toward an empty house, and the other four continued the party in Summerville.

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Siblings Barbara, John, and Chris
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Siblings with Thom and Steve

 

Why Wash the Apple?

The question I asked myself for the umpteenth time was, “Why do you always wash an apple before you feed it to the neighbor’s horse?”

I have laughed at myself any number of times for doing just that – rinsing off an apple before holding it out for DW or Vixen. Well, there are two correct answers to that question. The first is, I do it out of habit. I always wash fruit before serving it, even though half the time the horses drop the apple. I have no compunction in picking it up off the ground and holding it out again. They eat off the ground 99% of the time, anyway! The second correct answer is that my companion, 6-year-old Logan, will likely take a bite out of it before the horses do. That is exactly what happened today. Thank heavens I didn’t deviate from habit!

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Today was a big day for Logan. We knew school was starting today, and Bob stopped the car when he met us on the road. Shawn lowered the back window so we could see our cutest neighbor and wish him well. John told the boy to come see us after school and tell us all about it. A bit later Bob sent a photo they had taken at their front door. We always took pictures of our children on their first day back to school, but ours always looked last-minute, not carefully planned.

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John was out running errands when there was a loud knock on the door. There was Logan, bursting to tell about his day. We sat down to talk, which was amazing in itself. He said he had breakfast at school, which was normal, and that he had pizza for lunch. I was surprised at that, knowing it was a half day. He chose to sit by Titus, and they played outside ,except not on the grass. I never know when I have heard him correctly, so I didn’t pursue that.

Logan told about the teacher’s rule for raising hands in class, which I think is priceless. He demonstrated that if you need to go to the bathroom, you raise one hand with pointer and middle fingers crossed. If you need a drink of water, you raise both hands and lower them with your fingers waving, like rain falling. Brilliant, don’t you think?

Pure talk didn’t last long. Logan wanted to play checkers, which I did very reluctantly. I am not good at the game and prefer not to play at all. He was the first to have more men than I did, but we ended in a draw. That means he played at a 10-year-old level, and I had the best game of my life. After feeding the horses, Logan announced that he was hungry. Via text Shawn gave me permission to give him Craisins. We were on the porch when John came in. The boy played on the exercise bike and is likely a couple of inches taller than when he last rode it backwards. He has been riding a real bike without training wheels for a couple of years, so I should not have been surprised at his coordination. If you can see the video, note that he wasn’t tall enough to hold both handles at the same time.

Sem Eye

The Olympic Games are almost over. Thankfully, grandson David was here when they began and got me hooked. I’m old enough to watch by myself, but it is so much more fun to watch with someone.

I have always been impressed with the technology involved. There must have been lots of chaotic moments, but the presentations were smooth. I enjoyed the quick background information about the athletes, because it made them seem three-dimensional. There are probably many sports fans who could have dispensed with that patter, but I liked it. NBC pushed American teams, which was expected. However, they also featured the outstanding winners from other countries. Usain Bolt of Jamaica was one of those.

Speaking of Usain, I had a nightmare about him. Who would have thought this giant runner with a jaunty air could inspire a nightmare? In my dream, I was watching him up close, as if I were a camera man beside the track. Every time he struck that signature pose of his, I felt a compulsion to swallow. What a struggle it was to swallow when there was nothing in my mouth! I desperately wanted to beg him to just smile and wave and quit tormenting me with that fun pose. Struggling out of sleep, I was almost sucking my teeth loose, trying to swallow.

The commentators never seemed to falter when pronouncing the names of the athletes. Yes, they probably had phonetic spellings, but I’ve heard church lectors mispronounce Elisha on a Sunday morning. Granted, the names may not have sounded quite right to their owners, but the sportscasters said them with authority. That brings to mind my question about “semi”. All my life I’ve heard people talk about semifinals, semiautomatic weapons, and semicircles. It was semmy, not sem-eye. Where on earth did sem-eye come from? All the TV people talked about the upcoming sem-eye for beach volleyball or the results of the sem-eye for the 100-meter race. Can you say sem-eye-circle without twisting your face? Sem-eye might be world-speak now with its constant airing of the past two weeks, but I will never say it willingly myself. Could I interest any of you to join me in a semi-serious protest of sem-eye?

A Coffee Vacation

Neighbor Connie knew John was away and, as a special treat, took me to the Smokey Mountain Coffee Roasters Cafe. We’ve lived in this area twice as long as she and Dave, but they already know the best places to go. I followed her lead and had a frozen mocha, a heavenly iced coffee topped with whipped cream. We settled at a small table in the back and talked to our hearts’ content. A few customers came and went, but I was doing what I liked best, visiting with a good friend. Connie has lots of excellent stories to relate, and one tale led directly into another. I asked how many times they had moved, and the answer was eight, twice as many times as we have. She worked at many different places through the years, something that would not have appealed to me but suited her thirst for variety.

I had no idea what time it was. Both our husbands called us on the phone, one perhaps looking for his lunch. We brushed them off like flies and continued my vacation day. When Connie looked at her watch, I thought she was surprised. I was shocked when she repeated the time. We had been there talking nonstop for six hours when I thought it might have been two or three!!! How could time go by so fast?

I took a souvenir picture, trying to show Connie’s face and the bags of coffee beans waiting to be roasted. The roasting machine is also in the background. It wasn’t a good likeness of her, but it’s the only one I took. We had confined our conversation to good things, but just think if we had gossiped, we might have roasted those beans right in their sacks!

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Off the Ball

The sad part about this account is that there was no one here to laugh. I would have been glad to pose for a photo if anyone had been here to take it.

The story began when we lived on Long Island, and I bought a balance ball to use as a desk chair. Our grandsons loved it, rolling about the alcove where I had my computer. I thought it was good for me, keeping my knees active for hours. All along I suspected it was a bit too big for me, but it worked, and I was happy.

I lost my computer desk when we moved to North Carolina, because it fit our new office perfectly. One of us was addicted to New York radio stations, so we could not share office space without driving the other crazy. The solution was to buy a bare-bones table which we put in the kitchen near the fireplace. I thought that would work well. I could write while baking or waiting for a pot to boil. The concept was excellent, but the execution nearly killed me. There were two things wrong. This table did not have a keyboard tray that slid out, so I was too far away to type comfortably. Blisters appeared on my big toes, big blisters that hurt! I was putting so much pressure on my feet to stay in front of the keys that it caused blisters. The ball was pushed aside in favor of my dad’s office chair.

After I changed the orientation of my computers, Dad’s heavy chair was not comfortable. The solution was to buy a new balance ball, one that was low enough for me to sit before a TV table. As you might guess, downsizing was trickier than it seemed. John helped me measure the height I needed, and I ordered a new ball from Amazon. It arrived the day our grandsons left.

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I perceived no danger. After all, I had a good history of sitting on a balance ball, didn’t I?. The new one looked awfully low, like it was the height of a kindergarten chair. It has been about 41.7 years since I was confident about rising unaided from a kindergarten chair. I placed the ball in front of the computer and should have paid attention to my reservations about its lowness. I didn’t. Ohhhh! My knees were bent less than 90 degrees. I wish Rebecca, my physical therapist after knee replacements, had been there to measure that angle. She would have been so proud of me. Whoops! Watch out! Shifting just a little bit was much more drastic than on the bigger ball. I had about a foot of leeway on the old one and an eighth of an inch on the mini-ball. I would have to learn how to get on it at just the right place.

Accidents happen in a silly millisecond, but it’s amazing how much your brain can process in next to no time. The mini-ball was intent on dislodging me, having the mind of a stubborn bucking bronco. As I began rolling to the right, I grabbed for the flimsy TV table. These are the thoughts that went through my mind, “You’re going to fall. Hold onto the table. The table is wobbling, and the new computer is going to fall on the floor. You don’t want that, do you? Let go of the table. Try not to kick it as you go down. Golly! The mountain out there is at a funny angle! Who knew mountains could go that way?”

Whammmm!

The brain continued racing, although the body was suspiciously still. Brain thought, “No bones are sticking out of flesh. I survived a balance ball crash, didn’t I? Nothing hurts, does it? Why did I try this with no one else in the house? Did I really think I could balance on a marble? Where is someone to laugh with me? I would have chosen daughter Lise, being the most reliable laugher in accidental situations. She could have shrieked uncontrollably for 10 minutes had she witnessed that unbalanced dump. You better see if you can get off the floor before you start laughing at yourself.”

Uooffff! Dad’s sturdy chair was right where I needed it. I was up before the five-minute rule that says nothing is broken if you stand up before time runs out.

I’m not totally dumb and was leery of using the ball again without an audience. However, I am a miser, a really extreme one. I will not send back that glorified beach ball and get a bigger one, because I am going to sit on it if it kills me. You are supposed to get back on a horse if it throws you, aren’t you? OK. I will listen to one bit of advice. I will put Dad’s chair beside me, even if there is very little room to maneuver. What I really need is a cage or four walkers, one on each side. A safety pendant might be a good idea, too. Here is one last question. Where is the wisdom that comes with age? I know the real answer. I’m not as old as I thought I was!

End of Summer

Although temperatures were still seasonally hot, a fun summer ended for me when John headed north with our grandsons. We laughed every single day at things that were amusing or just silly. We were old enough to be silly, and they were mature enough to join in. Of course, there were tons of puns bandied about, with David reveling in them and Nathaniel claiming to despise them. Both were good at it. We delighted in visits with relatives in Summerville SC and Winston Salem. Relatives from Thomasville were here for a conference, so we were with them for a few hours. Touristy things included seeing a bit of Charleston, touring an Asheville mansion, and going to a mountain folk museum. Another high point of the visit was son John’s taking the young men on a hike to Chimney Rocks. While David worked, Nathaniel helped John build a waterfall in the garden – a treat for the eyes and ears! Quite often Nathaniel grilled the meat for dinner. Everyone enjoyed the food, and John was pleased that he didn’t have to build the fires and do the cooking.

The time slipped away for us to see neighbors Shawn, Bob, and young Logan. They came over to say goodbye, and sadly we didn’t hear them at the door. They left a very special calling card – vine ripened tomatoes and green peppers from their garden. Unlike us, they have a very USEFUL garden.

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The last full day was a time for packing and putting things away. Nathaniel’s belongings were compact, but David was taking everything he’d need for college from summer clothes to winter coats.

 

 

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At the very last minute, Nathaniel remembered the mirror ritual. One of the first things he does when he comes is moving the mirror from its normal hook to a high one left by the previous owners for a clock. The height is perfect for him, and him alone. I don’t know why he was wearing a winter hat topped with a conductor’s hat, but we do silly things here. He was probably taking them out to the car the easiest way possible. He and David assumed poses for the formal ritual. Nathaniel carefully moved the mirror and leaned down to check his reflection.

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Formal pose for mirror ritual
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Last comfortable view for Nathaniel
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Mirror set at normal height
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Crouching for one last check

I hadn’t the heart to take a photo of the van before they left. I know it was unorthodox. They removed the middle seats. David sat in the front passenger seat, and Nathaniel folded himself into the very back where he was surrounded by luggage before and behind him. The last I heard from them was a text from David responding to my reporting of Olympic wins of the American swim teams. For me, this was a most satisfying summer, one filled with good memories and hopes of more to come.

Desalinization

Desalinization is the process of removing salt after an hour of humid gardening. The more common name is “shower”.

A desalinizating shower probably should be followed by a watermelon fest. I would shield you from my selfie, substituting a photo of grandson David approaching his personal feast after work.

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