We were walking toward the creek when I saw a frozen puddle by the side of the road. Have you ever been overcome with a wild desire to act like a two-year-old? I HAD to tap it with my foot. My balance isn’t the best, and I didn’t want to go too deep and get my sneaker wet. Okay, that was a bit beyond the toddler mentality. I motioned with my hand for John to come nearer. He gallantly extended his arm to assist. Crack! Pop! Crackle! Yesssss! There is nothing like the hollow sound of shattering ice!
John said I must share a mountain-scape that spread itself before my eyes. The sun was coming up, just touching the top of the rising mist. With scenery like this outside the bedroom window, there is an urgency to get up so that you don’t miss a minute.
I was sitting at the computer when a woodpecker came to the feeder. Son John $ was in the kitchen, and I softly asked his dad to relay a message for him to come see it. He approached softly and quietly, getting a good look at the bird. I felt for my pockets, but pockets are in jeans, not my dress slacks. $ tiptoed away and returned with the toy camera. Gotcha, bird!
When I looked at the photos, the camera seemed to be dictating what the bird said.
“I don’t know why you humans call me Red-bellied Woodpecker. Surely you could have come up with a better name than that. I do have a tiny bit of red on my front, but I’m not going to show it to you.”
“It’s not easy hanging on this silly feeder. It’s humiliating to appear so hunched over. Couldn’t you find something better for me?”
“Hey! Did you get my profile? This is my best side.”
Son John $ came to pick up his birthday gift, an Omni-slope Sighting Clinometer that we ordered and had shipped here. $ neatly cut the tape with the knife he always wears. He opened the box and said, “Oh, no! They took all the fun out of it!”
I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but I assumed he was disappointed with the gifted gizmo. He could send it back if he didn’t like it. Turning toward me, he held out the bubble wrap.
“Look,” he said, “all the bubbles are connected, and you can’t pop them!’
Sure enough, I squeezed one large bubble, and the air expanded into the next compartment. I tried two hands, using two thumbs and four fingers. Even with twisting my face, there was no explosion. The nerve of those packers to ruin our fun!
Would you like to know what a sighting clinometer is used for? You look through it to find how steep the terrain is. I asked if he were planning to build a road. No, he will use it when he needs to know the steepness of a mountain trail. Before he takes customers on a hike, he needs to be able to describe what they will encounter on the trail. $ looked at the mountain in our backyard, and I presume he understood the reading. He was very pleased with the clinometer and put it back in its leather holder. The bubble wrap was left behind. I wonder if scissors would make them pop.
The phone showed the incoming call was from area code 646, which is Manhattan. My answer was a brusque hello, because this was someone I didn’t know. A young man’s voice fumbled a bit and asked for Grandpa. I knew it was not David or Nathaniel. Even under stress, that voice did not belong to either of my grandsons. Immediately I thought of an article I read in the past week about phone scams targeting older people. Playing for time, I said I’d get Grandpa. I took the phone to John and was able to tell him I didn’t think the call was legit. John listened as the person began to explain that his friend’s mother died, and he was at the funeral in Manhattan. He said, “I think you have the wrong number.” The phone went dead. Bingo! It was the beginning of a scam call.
I told John about the article, which said a call will come from a grandchild who is caught in some bad situation and begs you to wire money to him/her. Well, our call didn’t get that far. How I wish I could remember all the points I’d read. One is that you can ask a question of the caller that only your grandchild would know. A second is to hang up and call your relative, which is what we did. John phoned Nathaniel and chatted a bit about what he had done during the day. The answer was that he prepared Eggs Benedict in class, and he sent us a photo of it. [Nathaniel said they made the English muffins a day or so earlier and put together the dish today. His recipe for Hollandaise sauce called for twice as many egg yolks as mine, making it very thick.] I texted David and got a quick reply, so we knew he was fine. I will keep reading the old folks’ magazine to try to stay ahead of current con games.
Breakfast was a fun and delicious meal. We were between appointments in neighboring towns and ate at the Paper Town Grill. I had seen it often, driving by this storefront restaurant that stated they served breakfast all day. Shortly after we sat down, the tables filled with older people who were regulars. One woman left her seat and picked up two jam packets near the kitchen door, because she knew where they were kept. The waitress apologized for her forgetfulness. I listened to the accents, all local. I hope to be able to define town mountain talk some day. The accent is lightly Southern, but there is a twist to it that people in the middle of the state don’t have. Rural mountain speech is different altogether, twangy and nasal, sprinkled with words you’ve never heard before.
John noticed two bulletin boards on the wall behind me. One was titled “In Memory of” and the other, “Guess Who?” The memory board had photos and obituaries. The guessing board held children’s photos that had to be of adult patrons. This was the real deal, a place where people’s lives were bound together in life and death. Nobody glared at us, so I presume we didn’t take anyone’s regular table.
John ate an omelet which was light, fluffy, and cheesy. My sausage, eggs, and French toast were excellent. John said he’d be willing to go back there any time. I would like a repeat, too, to try Southern things like biscuits with gravy or a bowl of grits. You can tell a lot about a place by their grits.
I had not paid attention to the dust bunnies gathering in the bathroom. They evidently had time to plan a national convention there while I was enjoying company. After Karen left, I happened to flick my towel so that several of the bunnies hopped across the room. Impressive as that was, I got out the dust buster and did what I had to do.
The very next day I found thousands of small black balls of lint on the rug and marching around the waste basket. Where on earth did they come from? You’d think they had the walls of Jericho in sight. For those of you who love to read mysteries, what clues should I have noticed? Human hair (mine) was not part of the mix. The black balls did resemble sheddings from John’s sweats, somewhat like those scattered about the bedroom and his office. His dirty clothes were there in the closet waiting for me to add mine and walk them to the laundry room, but they weren’t throwing off lint. I’m thinking some gremlin turned his pockets inside out and enjoyed a black snowstorm. Housework is one thing, but doing the same weekly job two days in a row is beyond tedium. If I had been properly tuned, I would have turned tedium into Te Deum, we praise thee, O Lord.
I can’t remember ever watching the presidential inauguration for any length of time. In past years I would have been chasing after children or working. This time I had the quiet house to myself. With the television on, I vacuumed one room, mopped another, cooked a good old American hamburger for lunch, and ate outside on the porch. I switched stations to get different views and hear different commentators. Since we are not TV watchers, I was shocked at how many notables I recognized on the screen. Didn’t they used to have labels to slap on famous people? It became a game for me to name the person on camera before an announcer said it. I recognized five of the eight supreme court justices, two of my former state’s senators, all the former presidents and their wives, and those who ran for president. Makes sense, doesn’t it? They are historical figures, and I’ve been around a long time.
It didn’t occur to me to close my eyes and bow my head for the prayers, because I was watching TV. You don’t watch television with your eyes closed. That’s why I was amused that several of the clerics read their prayers, looking up at the people as if making a speech. Were they preaching to God or the crowd? Heaven knows, whoever occupies the White House needs lots of fervent prayer.
Listening, even with only half an ear, brought lots of historical tidbits. They have to fill the air with something while nothing is going on. I did wonder about what happened when January 20 fell on a Sunday, and that was easily answered on line. As happened with Obama’s second swearing-in, the oath of office is administered in a private ceremony at noon on Sunday, followed by public ceremonies the following day.
Frankly, I was glad when the day was almost over. Feelings ran so high during the election, that I feared for the safety of all the main characters.