Logan’s Practical Math

Logan gave us some sweets that his sister Brittainy and Mu brought from Turkey. We knew they were very special and ate them with ceremony. Ummm! Exquisite! As a welcoming nod, I baked chocolate chip cookies for them.

As I picked up the spatula, I said to Logan, “These are for your family, but I baked one extra for you right now. Which one would you like to have?”

He chose his cookie, and I began putting the rest on a paper plate.

“How many are there?” he wanted to know. I told him, and he stated there were seven people in his house. I countered with the number five, because I didn’t think they’d give the baby one. I’m not sure who number seven was. ???

It takes a while to sharpen one’s skills, but I remembered the last time Logan begged for a granola bar. It was dinnertime, and we said no. He said he would take it to school for snack the next day. Reluctantly, we agreed. At his walkway, he looked back and saw us watching. Did he manage to unwrap it and eat it before reaching his front door? Probably. How could I make sure these cookies would make it over there? Taking a piece of scrap paper, I drew circles, like ones I had seen his on math homework.

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Logan looked at the circles and picked up the pencil. He wrote “15 cookies”. I didn’t feel guilty for having given him one, because any six-year-old who can spell cookie by himself deserves one, don’t you think? Note the chocolate smudges at the bottom of the paper. I think of a cookie as clean food, but that isn’t necessarily so.

My reasoning was, if Logan knew how many cookies were sent for each person, he wouldn’t break the set. I asked, “How many cookies should each person get?”

I knew his homework involved adding and subtracting, not division. Logan didn’t know the answer. I explained there were five rows of three. No clue. Taking the pencil, I pointed to each row in turn and said, “Mama, Papa, Brittainy, Mu ….”

“I know! I know! Three!” he said.

Shawn texted that when Logan came in the house, “He announced loudly that everyone gets three cookies!”

The next text was, “Over n over! Ha ha”

Logan passed with flying colors. My question for anyone with grade school children is, how did I do with my first foray into new math?

Day 2, Watch Out!

If the previous post sounded idyllic, it was. We were fresh, and neighbor Logan (6) was on his best behavior. We left off with bedtime, when Logan chose to sleep on the recliner in my room. I wrote about him then, staying up far too late. Experience counts, though. Before going to bed, I hid the remote to the TV. One time when he was here, John found him watching a program at 2 or 3 in the morning.

Logan began stirring around 5 when it was still pitch black. I almost quit breathing so he wouldn’t guess I was awake. He must have been searching for the remote around 5:15. It didn’t take long for him to come back to speak to me in bed. He obediently climbed back on the recliner, covered up, and tried to sleep a bit more. You have to give him credit for staying down another 15 minutes. John often wakes and looks at the computer anywhere after 4, but he was wrapped in a blanket. He stirred enough to say he’d be up in a few minutes, so I handed Logan the remote and made a coffeecake where I could monitor what he watched.

John soon persuaded Logan to turn off the TV in order to play Chinese checkers. From the other room I heard Logan’s soft voice and John’s chuckling reply, “No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast!” I had to smile, for I had already fended off requests for peanuts, cookies, and ice cream. Those were the requests I heard and understood.

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102916-peggityAfter we three walked Logan’s dogs, I put my Peggity set on the kitchen table. Did any of you ever play that game? It’s my favorite game that involves strategy, in fact, the only one I play willingly. I didn’t push it, just waited for Logan to see it and ask to play. After each game, I asked if we should put it away and play again another day. About six games later he agreed, and John took him to the playground. Playing Peggity with a beginner is a real challenge. I try to fix it so that the child wins every other game. Admittedly, I had lots of practice with our two grandchildren. Now they can beat me at will. That is what I really wanted, isn’t it?

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John and Logan walking Dolly and Abby

After lunch we suggested a nap. Logan was short of sleep, and so was I. I went to sleep and have no idea whether he slept or not. I’ll let you judge. Hearing car doors, I looked out and saw people carting suitcases into Logan’s house. It was almost exactly 24 hours after we got him from the school bus, and he was free to return home. I packed his bag while he hunted for his socks, and then he ran across the street. Picking up the pillow and blanket he had used, I found one other item in the recliner – a miniature Etch-a-Sketch.

Logan Spends the Night

These are exciting times in our neighborhood. We began the day walking toward the sunrise and the dawn mist.

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Shawn and Bob (our neighbors across the street) drove to Atlanta to pick up their daughter who flew in from Turkey. This would be the first time they would see their six-month-old grandson in person. The flight arrived in the evening, and no one could tell how long it might take to get through customs. Because of that, we kept their son Logan overnight. Fun for us!

We picked him up at the bus stop, and while Logan and John let the dogs out, I baked some chocolate chip cookies. We had our cookie break on the back porch.

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The fellows played a few games of Chinese checkers before we walked the two dogs to the stop sign and back. Logan scrambled up a steep bank with dog Abbie, where he waved to a passing car.

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As we walked, Logan wondered if he could go to a park to play. John was game, so the two of them went to the school playground to kick around his soccer ball. I prepared a jack o lantern meat pie.

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I knew Logan liked cantaloupe, so we had that and Snickers apple salad. He ate very nicely, taking seconds of the salad. Who wouldn’t? It had a Snickers candy bar in it! The recipe was on Food.com in a collection of Halloween foods. I cut the candy in such tiny pieces that Logan couldn’t pick them out from the crisp apple slices and cream cheese dressing.

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John supervised Logan’s shower, and I watched a television show with him before we put him to bed. The last time he was here, he began the night in the upper bunk bed and ended up on a recliner in my room. When given a choice this time, he chose the recliner.

Voting for President

I have yet to hear one voter who is taking pleasure in the 2016 presidential election. Most will be glad when it is over. I avoid election articles in our newspaper, and I skip every Facebook post having to do with politics. It was while walking to the creek near our polling place that I saw a bunch of election signs. I don’t know why I looked at them, but I saw a set of three red and white signs that thrilled me.

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What about you? Would you vote for Forest Gump for president? He certainly knew how to run.

Beauty in the Backyard

My brother Bob and wife Beth came for a quick visit to see the autumn colors in our mountains. I made them pose before a sourwood tree, one they identified for me that I’m trying to fix in my memory.

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In a big loopy drive, we went on the Blue Ridge Parkway, drove through Cherokee, and came back on another section of the parkway. The weather was a bit rainy, making some of the scenes rather dark. We have memories of lovely fall colors that don’t exactly match our photographs.

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Bob’s shot from the parkway

As we drove past the Hemlock Inn, Beth and Bob said they had stayed there once. They told the story about playing a word game that night with the group, something similar to Scrabble.

Beth asked, “Is dogly a word?”

Bob said, “No, but godly is.”

That made everyone burst out laughing. Bob felt that made his long-ago graduation from seminary very worthwhile.

Rain was falling when we came home. Beth stepped onto the back porch to see how our garden was faring. She has advised me on gardening from time to time, and this summer she and our grandson Nathaniel dug up all the iris bulbs and replanted them. She could see the new growth, a healthy circle of green blades. We noticed a brilliant rainbow on this side of the mountain. Beth said she’d never seen purple on the lower edge of a bow. The proverbial pot of gold should have been in the horse pasture, about equidistant from Joyce’s house and ours. We went outside, Beth looking at this fantastic scene while Bob and I tried to capture it with our cameras. We had been looking for beautiful sights of the season, and the most dramatic was in our own backyard.

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The acorn squash we had for dinner was a show stopper. I realized as I cut it that Beth might not like it. She can’t abide pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Would this pass muster? She insisted she would try anything put in front of her. John and I liked it last week, baked with a little butter and molasses. Beth tasted it and said, “This squash doesn’t taste nearly as bad as I thought it would.”

We laughed, and she extended her statement to say that it was good, good enough that she would eat her whole portion.

The next morning the temperature was 42 degrees at walking time. Beth opted for a bit more sleep, but the rest of us set out. I took the usual photo at the creek where the guys were still bundled up. I had already taken off my windbreaker and put it back on. The wind in the valley was intent on chilling us.

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John and Bob at the creek

Bob expressed interest in a saw John pointed out halfway down the steep hill. I suggested we stop to look at it on the way up when I would need a breather. The rough workshop has been producing outdoor wood furnaces and cutting big trees into thick planks. The fellows were looking at the saw when I snapped their picture. John looked for the blade and commented that it was a big band saw. I nudged Bob and said that was just the thing! He plays trombone in a retro group with a big band sound.

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We drove to Cataloochie, the closest part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to us. We knew the scenery would be good and hoped to see the elk in the high meadow. The road was good in places, but part of it was gravel and only one and a half cars wide. This was a real mountain road that wound up and down to get over the ridge. We stopped at an overlook where a kind young man offered to take our photo together.

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Beth, Bob, Anne, and John in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

There were lots of vehicles parked in the meadow, and sure enough, the herd of elk was there. They stayed in the field, and the humans stayed on the road, although some had lenses that made their cameras look 15 feet long. If I were the elk, I would demand more privacy.

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You Might Live in the Mountains of North Carolina if ….

you see a mailbox like this on your morning walk.

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This being election time, would you like to vote for a label? Your choice is (1) hillbilly problem-solving or (2) lazy practicality.

Oh, you need more background? This mailbox is closest to a clapboard house with four vehicles parked on the grass and none in the detached garage. Their huge barbecue grill is on the front porch, and Christmas lights still outline the railing.

This mailbox is also across the road from the driveway of a neat brick house. There is a portable basketball hoop near the garage, and once in a while there is a white SUV parked there.

Have you chosen your answer? The mailbox, by the way, belongs to the brick home.

Autumn’s New Dimensions

I have begun to watch for the weekly Nature Journal in the Asheville Citizen-Times. George Ellison is the naturalist who writes about our mountain surroundings. He quoted Dr Ross Hutchins on October 14, writing about leaves.* The expert said no two leaves are exactly alike, making me think of fingerprints and snowflakes. His writing was poetical when he talked about the voices of trees as wind blows through them. I first noticed that while walking under a gnarled old pine tree at the boat ramp in Stony Brook. There was a stiff breeze that day, and the resulting sound was a swishy sigh. Wind brought that tree to life. You can imagine the music implied in the title, Wind in the Willows.

Hutchins also wrote about flight patterns. Have you ever thought about flight patterns of leaves? Hutchins claimed he could identify a leaf by the way it fell. Maple leaves have a downward spiral, and oak leaves zigzag from side to side. Willow leaves spin. We have a huge oak in our yard, and I could immediately check out this statement. It is true. The leaves zig this way and zag the other If you see my head shake when I’m looking outside, I’m probably just following a crazy leaf as it falls to the ground.

I took a photo of our tree, so you can see what a future I have in leaf watching.

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* “Hidden Valley of the Smokies: With a Naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains” (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1971) by Ross E. Hutchins.