Nathaniel’s Breakfast

Grandson Nathaniel (16) loves to cook. When he first comes to visit, I do the grandmother thing and try to prepare the dishes I think he likes. One of these times, I’ll learn to offer him the use of the kitchen earlier. Actually, I think I did this time, but maybe I didn’t use the right combination of words. He offered to prepare breakfast two days before he was due to leave. We jumped at it. He likes to have the kitchen to himself, so he cooked while we walked to the creek. It’s amazing to me that he always finds the ingredients and the utensils he needs.

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As soon as we stepped inside the front door, I knew we were having maple sausage. He cooked sausage for himself and me and bacon for Grandpa and David. There were fluffy scrambled eggs and biscuits brushed with honey butter. He had also set the table with dishes, cutlery, and condiments. He was totally ready, and so were we.

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He posed for the presentation of the biscuits.  He almost burned his hands, having just taken the dish out of the oven where it had been keeping warm.

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After I buttered my mine, I took a photo before digging in. Everything tasted as good as it looked. What a treat!

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Nathaniel’s talents are not one-dimensional. He offered to help clean, so John asked him to do a giraffe job, dusting the ceiling fans. There are six inside the house, and he had them done in short order. It certainly helps that he didn’t need to carry around a step stool.

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Yes, the house is going to seem very empty when he leaves. At least we’ll still have grandson David here for another week before he has to go back to college.

Christmas with Logan

Christmas was not complete until we had a visit from neighbor Logan. He had been busy all during the holidays with his siblings. His oldest sister moved back here from Turkey, and the younger of the two sisters visited from the coast for several days. His brother lives nearby. I can only imagine the jumble of adults, children and dogs tumbling over themselves when they all were together. Their house did not appear to bulge at the seams, but I’m sure they made use of every square inch.

Logan presented his beaming self at our front door, and the fun began. John started a game of checkers with him, which Nathaniel continued.

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Then came the familiar announcement, “I’m hungry.” Logan isn’t allowed chocolate or sweets, the rule from home. Can you guess his snack of choice? He suggested apple slices with peanut butter, first crunchy, then smooth. He and I played three games of Pegity, my favorite game, the object being to get five pegs in a row. He was satisfied after he won two to my one. I wasn’t thinking and didn’t get anyone to take a photo of us.

We bought a gift for Logan well before the edict of no toys for Christmas. Don’t judge Shawn and Bob on this; they had good reason for their decision. When Logan came in, I texted them, asking permission to give him the game. I suggested he open it and keep it here to play with us. Whew! They agreed! John led him to the tree where he found the little present. There were only two others there, the ones I forgot to give our son!

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Logan opened the magnetic Hangman, stating he already knew how to play. I should have paid more attention to that. It was decided he would choose a word for me to guess, and I asked that he run it by Nathaniel. He is only six years old, after all. What if he had me guessing a misspelled word? I failed to grasp another clue as they conferred, Nathaniel’s groan. Can you believe what that little wizard had me guessing? Photograph!!!! I lost.

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Logan read the spines of our small collection of holiday DVDs and picked out Polar Express to watch. Nathaniel loaded it, and John sat with the boy to watch it. Before they got very far, Bob came over to retrieve his son. We hadn’t had him long, but it was a most satisfying visit.

While writing this, I watched a Junco hopping around under the feeder on the deck just beyond my computer screen. I named him Pogo Junco. He hopped over and under the frame, all on one leg. The other was pulled up so that only the useless foot showed. He was matter-of-fact about his disability, asking for food, not sympathy.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

Nathaniel was the grandson that went to the creek with us on the fourth day of Christmas. We chatted and laughed all the way. I saw something unfold that I would give my eyeteeth to have recorded. We were in the middle of the road approaching the four-lane divided highway. There was a double yellow line which split to go around the stop sign. Nathaniel, in his size 14 shoes, lurched from side to side as the left shoe stayed on the outer-left line, and the right followed its line. The further he went, the wider apart his feet were. He switched to the inner set of lines and went a few more feet. By then he was about my height, not his usual 6’5”, when he could go no further without falling. It was hilarious.

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The rest is history. I say that because the following paragraphs have to do with the remainder of our day spent in a museum. If you are in a hurry, you can skip this and not miss anything. It’s rather dry and dusty.

Nathaniel suggested our destination, the Henderson County Heritage Museum. It was housed in the county courthouse right on Main Street. Two delightful volunteers chatted with us from time to time. One was a native of Hendersonville, and the other had grown up in Oxford, Mississippi. I’d say their accents were good examples from their areas. We found out that the Mississippi woman had been married to a serviceman and moved all over the country. Her favorite place to live was Governor’s Island just across from Manhattan. She lived there with her husband and children when John was in high school.

We spent two hours going through the small museum. John and David read every word of the display about railroads in the area. I took a long time in the room set up as a general store, and Nathaniel read the things the rest of us didn’t. There was a long interview with a veteran from World War II that was played in the war room. I had glanced at the pictures of many locals who died in various wars and found a chair to sit on while the others read. Because I wasn’t reading, I listened to that interview. The man was one of ten children. The six men were all in the service, and all survived the war. He was 90 at the time of the interview, and one sister was the only other living sibling. I was impressed at the boys’ deliberate pace and attention to details. No one pushed to go faster or skip a display.

One of the things that caught my attention was a quilt that showed various things about the county. I wondered if my blogger friend Carole ,who lives in Hendersonville, had anything to do with it. She designs quilts and posts them on her blog.  Carole’s blog is here.

We had a very late lunch in a place that billed itself as a soda fountain. Vintage dishes and Coke bottles lined the walls. There were three machines for making milkshakes, each with about five mixing arms.

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We enjoyed walking up and down Main Street, watching other tourists and peering in shop windows. Both boys said they would love to live in that town! Without the mountains? Yes, they could always drive up to see us and use our mountain views.

A thrift shop was a strange magnet. We had to tear ourselves away because Christmas items were half price. We bought a ceramic church, an angel candle holder, and three mugs. I’m sure we could stock a Christmas store with all the seasonal items we own. John will be sorry he turned us loose when he has to pack up everything after Epiphany.

Second and Third Days of Christmas

We opened gifts on the 26th after grandson Nathaniel walked to the creek with us and ate breakfast. It was wonderful to be in no rush. I took one photo of my heroes as they were admiring some of the Danish gifts their Aunt Lise had left for them. You’ll note Nathaniel was wearing a trench coat and had not yet gone in the phone booth to change into his super guy outfit. Grandson David had already donned his blue cape and was ready to fly to someone’s rescue.

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On the third day of Christmas, David walked with us while Nathaniel stayed home. Since we are still in a drought stage, there was very little water coming down the mountain in the tiny stream called Park Branch. David got as close as he could to listen for some telltale gurgle.

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A few steps later we were looking at a rainbow that ended at Joyce’s house.

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When I sent the photo to her that afternoon, I said, “Guess where the pot of gold was. Too bad you weren’t home.”

She replied, “Oh! I’ll have to dig in the yard! Maybe it’s still there. Thanks for the pic!”

“Need help digging?” I offered.

Her comeback was quick, “No thanks. I can do it myself.”

You can’t beat having neighbors with a sense of humor!

The boys went with us to shop at the supermarket, and then we had barbecue for lunch. They were not always fans of this Southern fare, but they are converts now. Nathaniel likes walking about picturesque towns, so we drove to Dillsboro. The boys posed with a big tree outside an empty shop and hopped on an old shoeshine stand on a porch.

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We enjoyed going to the chocolate factory, a gift shop, and a junk shop. The one who was feeling ill enjoyed the public restroom. Coming back through Sylva, we looked for neighbor Marla’s bike shop and popped in to say hello. I should have taken a picture, because the shop was most impressive. There were bikes and gear filling the large space. I commented on the new bike smell, which is mostly made up of rubber. Marla doesn’t smell it any more unless she has been away from it for a few days. It is not quite as expensive as the smell of a new car.

We did quite well on a rainy day, I thought. We still have our souvenirs from the chocolate factory to look forward to.

Recipe for Chicken and Stuffing

Chicken and Stuffing

From the Norwegian Cooks at Gotaas-Larsen — 1978

4 chicken breasts or 2 whole chickens – boil and remove meat from bones

1 pint sour cream

1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use either mushroom or cream of chicken soup, preferring chicken)

1 can of mushrooms or fresh ones (Optional)

1 small bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing Mix

1 stick butter (usually half that)

1 cup chicken broth from first step

Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Mix cooked chicken with sour cream, mushroom soup and optional mushrooms and put in greased pan. Top with mixture of stuffing mix, butter and chicken broth.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.


Not Ho! Ho! but Ho Hum!

When everything goes smoothly, what is there to write about? This does not mean I am asking for trouble. Christmas was delightful, but wouldn’t you be eager to read more if I said the oven caught fire?

Our son John $ and neighbors Dawn and Jeff had Christmas dinner with us. From long experience, we planned a fail-safe menu. In past years almost everyone in the family sang in the choir on Christmas Day, and we were hosts for the family gathering. Since 1978 we have served a casserole called Chicken and Stuffing which could be done ahead of time. The other permanent item is my American variation of an English Christmas pudding based on Gillian’s recipe. Gillian was a dear friend who gave me her recipe in 1982 when we moved back to the US after living in England for two years. Today we also had frozen cranberry salad, spinach casserole, and a sweet potato casserole. I enjoyed our conversations, but I didn’t ask for permission to share. Dawn knows I have a blog ,which does not constitute permission. I jumped the gun recently on sharing a message and do not want to do that again.

Gifts? Do you want to know about exchanging presents? We didn’t. Well, not yet. There wasn’t time. We quickly cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, and then it was time for John and David to go to Charlotte to pick up grandson Nathaniel at the airport. The round trip will take four to six hours. That’s why I am alone in the house and free to write. There won’t be much quiet left after I finish soaking it up. We may wait until tomorrow to open gifts, depending on how tired the fellows are when they get here. Nathaniel flew from Long Island to Philadelphia and had over three hours to wait for the next flight. Christmas will be continued later.

Meanwhile, our tree waits patiently to share the gifts beneath the branches.


Diary of a Christmas Morning

Wake Up! That was not my alarm saying that. It was the devotional for Christmas Day. I went to bed at 2 am after going to church, woke at 6, opened the devotional book as usual before my mind could race to anything else, and there was the title. Wake up! No! No! I need twice that amount of sleep, not that I ever get it.

When the alarm went off for real, I jumped out of bed and ran to the closet to see if I had wrapped that last gift. I hadn’t. It was a little gift for David. As a small child, he was the most obedient boy you could imagine. If he were offered candy, he’d say, “I’ll ask Mom if I can have that.” He is 21 years old now, and it took me by surprise that he was a gift snoop. It didn’t fit his personality. He announced the other day that he knew what was in every gift for him under the tree. I’m positive he did not disturb the wrappings. He didn’t need to. A soft, cuddly roll had to be a throw, and that tell-tale box was candy. I had warned him not to touch one thing, because he would likely have mashed it in the wrong place and torn the paper. There should be one surprise on Christmas morning! Last gift was hastily wrapped.

Already behind schedule, I rushed to the bathroom and indulged in a bit of involuntary crying. Shampoo in the eyes will do that. Warning to self: you are evidently in your second childhood. Must be time to buy baby shampoo.

I faced the mystery of the missing hose. Another bow to old age: I wear compression hose and wash them every morning. A pair was missing, not hanging in the shower where I’d put them to drip dry. They appeared when I pulled my towel from the heated towel rack. John had taken a shower, in so doing soaking the hose, so he hung them up in an alternate place. I’m used to a husband who showers regularly in the morning, not halfway through the day. I’ve had this husband for 52.5 years as of December 14, and I will never get used to unscheduled ablutions.

John and I had a quick sit-down breakfast of German Stollen, sent by our dear friend who treats us like royalty every year. It takes David several hours to become human. We let him sleep, then woke him up and pushed breakfast in his face in the car. He didn’t appear to be suffering.

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We are now home from church, and the casseroles are in the oven. On to Christmas Day!

On this wonderful day, I’m praying for the peace and joy of Christmas to fill your heart.

I’d love to hear about your day if you have time to share.

Merry Christmas!