They Came for Coffee

They came for coffee and left, having had dark colored water. As they were pulling out of our drive, I asked John if the coffee had been weak. It had. John normally makes the coffee, but he was enjoying the conversation so much that I didn’t interrupt. I used coffee that was new to me, a medium roast from Aldi’s. Our guest said he had been in the Navy and liked his coffee black. His wife added her agreement. That should have been a red flag to double the amount I thought proper. I wanted to run after their car and shout that we’d make a better brew if they would come back.

My freshman roommate from college came to visit her daughter who had moved near Asheville. We lost touch ages ago, so I was thrilled she agreed to come to our house for coffee. We last saw her 53 years ago at graduation. Minna Gwyn and Jerry married a few months before we did, but I didn’t really know him. What a revelation it turned out to be!

As we walked in our house, Minna said to Jerry and me, “Arp meet Ripley. Ripley meet Arp.”

What? I grew up in Ripley, a small town that never made it to important maps. Minna implied Jerry grew up in Arp. As in so many agricultural areas, outlying communities had names but no town. Arp was the first settlement west of Ripley.

I exclaimed, “You went right by my house every time you went to town!”

Jerry was aware of it and knew which house was mine. I was oblivious to all kinds of things when I was young, but how could I have missed him? He was one class ahead of me. There were a number of small schools in our county feeding into two high schools, so I wouldn’t have known him until I was in 9th grade. Still! I should have remembered him! They quickly let me off the hook, explaining that he moved to Memphis after he finished 8th grade.

I put my foot in it when I asked how they met each other. “At Rhodes College,” they answered.

Yep, the four of us were graduates of the same college (university for non-Americans). Why had I missed Jerry there, too? The answer was that he went through in three and a half years, and he was a biology major. Biology and music didn’t cross paths. Minna met Jerry when they had a German class together. [She remembers you, Gerhard.] I was delighted to know this person who had been nearby but totally out of my sight.

The other surprising revelation was what Minna and I did after college. We both got degrees in music, but her instrument was organ, and mine was piano. All these years I imagined her being an organist in some big, impressive church. No, by choice she taught private piano lessons and subbed on big, impressive pipe organs. I would rather have held a spider than teach piano lessons, and I was the organist for our church (without an impressive organ) for 25 years. How I could have used her training!

We might have cut straight to the laughter if we hadn’t caught up with personal history first. It’s not a requirement, but if you come to visit me after 50 years, please send ahead a five-line biography and abbreviated family tree.

I don’t dare repeat the story that caused Minna Gwyn to laugh aloud. We had an inept teacher in the music department who had no grasp of the music history he was trying to teach. When John finished his story, I’d say her mirth was vindication for what she had endured.

Jerry attended the school at Arp where his mother was a teacher. I had to tell him how I wanted to go to that school. Our family drove past it on a hot summer day, and I told my parents that’s where I wanted to be when school started in August. Why? I was reading the name from the front of the building, Arp Consolidated. I don’t know whether to blame it on bad eyesight or poor reading skills, but I read it as Air Conditioned.

I laughed most at Jerry’s story of the outhouse when he was about five years old. He and his cousin Tommy ran and jumped over the hole that was left after the outhouse was moved. For those not old enough to know, you move the structure when the deep hole below is full. Jerry made it. Tommy didn’t. Not to worry – I do remember Tommy from high school. The stench was gone by then.

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Stink Bug

Something was crawling up my leg as I washed my hands in the bathroom. I expected to see an Asian lady beetle, but it was a stink bug. Now a stink bug in this house could also be known as a Lise-freaker. There was ONE in the house last Thanksgiving, and it found her. You can’t blame anyone who shrieks when confronted with a flying insect, but I’m used to scooping stink bugs into my hand and throwing them outside. This one was friskier than most. It crawled out of my loosely closed fist and flew away. Obviously, I didn’t want to clamp down on it and cause it to stink. We were hurrying to go to early service, so I told myself I’d find it later.

Later happened to be five minutes later IN THE SHOWER. It crawled on my foot. The choice was to deal with it quietly or leap through the curtain like an screech-amplified lawn sprinkler. I know which Lise would have chosen. I just danced around the subject and got the water to pin it to the drain. It’s the first time I’ve ever showered while keeping my eyes totally on my feet. The bug seemed to be drowned. I used a paper cup to pick it up, and it stuck to the inside of the cup. Little did I know, it was in suspended animation.

After church and lunch at Cheddar’s, I headed to the bathroom with the toy camera. 032617 Stink bugOne tap of the cup, and the bug landed upside down on the counter. To my shock, it moved its legs. I told it to pose and flipped it over, having nail clippers there for size comparison. The photo session wasn’t long, and soon the bug was tossed onto the deck where it blended in with hulls of sunflower seeds from the bird feeder.

The story is true, but do you really trust a person whose cockeyed glasses take a nap on the nightstand like this?

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“I Lost Two Teeth!”

Don’t worry. The title quote is not mine. If I had lost two teeth, my bank account would be hurting more than my mouth.

We walk by sun time, not by the clock, trying to be out at dawn and home before the sun heats up. At this time of year, we often see neighbor Bob driving Logan (6) to the bus stop. We caught up to them as Bob parked at the stop sign. Logan was in the back of the car, and as Bob rolled the window down, the boy’s head went down with it. He was teasing by hiding from us. His great news overcame the teasing mode as he announced, “I lost two teeth!’

May I take a picture?” I asked.

No,” replied Logan gently as he ducked his head. His dad told him to pose for me, which he did graciously. With children you often have one shot, and that’s all you’re going to get. Bob and Logan passed on this one, so the photo moment was declared a success.

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Death by Dust Bunny

I witnessed a death caused by dust. In truth, I had a hand in it.

Since we moved to the mountains of North Carolina, we have had seasonal infestations of bugs that look like ladybugs. Most people know that real ladybugs are prized in the garden, but our intruders are not. In the house, mostly in our bedroom, we have Asian lady beetles. The photo came from PestSupply on the internet. [Does that name strike you odd, as it did me? Who wants a supply of pests?] It seems our house is a target, since these beetles attack light-colored houses. Ours is tan.

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I have documented the dusting in this house, mainly because it doesn’t happen often and is noteworthy when it does. It’s true that one can be contaminated by walking through here, which is what happened to the unfortunate beetle. I spotted it on the bathroom floor, but then it was spotted to begin with. Following the normal procedure, I picked it up, intending to drown it in the toilet. That’s when I noticed its rear leg was caught in a dust bunny. It turned itself over in my hand and started crawling, dragging its baggage behind it. The little toy camera wanted to record this event, so I put the beetle on the counter. There has to be a way to set the camera for close-ups, but I couldn’t find it quickly. If I were put on trial, this fuzzy photo would be Exhibit A.

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Lady beetle dragging a dust bunny

After taking a dozen poor shots, I carried the bug to the toilet for a quick, watery death. Let this be a warning to all you lady beetles. 99% of you will not get a five-minute reprieve due to a dust bunny trap.


John asked a simple question over breakfast, “Do you need laundry done?”


You have it right – he does the laundry, and I am grateful.  It wasn’t always his job.  When we had three children at home and I was the stay-at-home mom, I did whites six times and colors two times a week.  That is not to say that we were squeaky clean.  Just walking through our undusted house could contaminate you.  He volunteered to do the wash when he had his office next to the laundry room, and I was working outside the home.  That slid into the era of necessity when I was recovering from having total knee replacements.  The “look Ma, no hands!” could not be applied to laundry baskets on stairs.  Well, it could, but there would have been bodily harm to someone.  We moved to a one-floor-fits-all house in the mountains, and he continued his clean act.  In return, I say thank you every time I find clean clothes laid on the bed, always folded or on hangers.  It is truly a blessing.  He’s a keeper.


John’s morning query made me wonder what drives other people’s laundry.  There are the questions of who does it? and what is the trigger?  Most people I know, including Facebook and WordPress friends, have some cleaning routine, otherwise I would have smelled you long ago.  Do you wash because the laundromat is empty at a particular time?  Perhaps you know you have to do this chore when you retrieve your socks from the floor and wear them ten days in a row.


I answered John’s question by saying I would look in the drawer and see how many pairs of jeans I had left.  I asked, “Why are you asking?  You have been washing exactly when I needed clean clothes.  What has changed?”


He replied, “I threw away some underwear and opened a new package.”


Ah!  The necessity marker had changed!

Passing a Bone Density Test

I was a bit late starting to have my bones scanned. The first two times the scans were done in New York where they were quite passive. All I did was lie comfortably on a table as the arm of the equipment passed over me.

Time went by as I became more aware of aging. Old folks’ magazines harped on balance, among other things. A few weeks ago I added a short routine to the dressing schedule – standing first on one foot and then the other for several seconds. That was harder than it used to be, especially on the side that didn’t recover well from a total knee replacement. Little did I know that this was going to be beneficial for the upcoming bone density scan.

The friendly technician filled out a form as she asked me questions about smoking, drinking, exercise and such. Then she threw me a curve. I was to stand up and balance on one foot. Ah! I had unknowingly been prepping for this! I knew I could do it. She didn’t specify which leg to use, so I chose the better one. She said, “Cross your arms and put a hand on each shoulder.” How bad could that be? Well, it wasn’t bad, but it was almost impossible to do. If I couldn’t balance, would they send me to the emergency room at the hospital next door? “Sending over unbalanced woman for immediate observation!” Panic set in. “Do it, Anne. Just do it!” It didn’t help that the woman’s lips moved as she counted. How far did she need to go? A minute? An hour??? Each time my other foot touched the floor, she began again at one – one potato, two potato, three potato. I wanted to tell her to give me a break and start with five the next time. I swear her potatoes got bigger and bigger. I thought of demanding a stopwatch that didn’t get slower with each successive count. Finally, before I fell over and damaged something in the room, she pronounced herself satisfied. We could have been there all day!

Days later my doctor’s office called to give me the results. I have yet to see any number associated with the scans, but this time there was a name attached. It’s not good when you slowly slide into named diseases! The advice was to keep taking calcium and Vitamin D and to keep walking. Of course, I’ll keep walking! I probably started running about 72 years ago. I didn’t say that, knowing she meant walking as exercise. A morning walk of at least half an hour was my norm for the last 22 years. It was upped to an hour about six years ago.

Complacency might have been the correct label for my mental state. I was doing the right thing and would continue secretly working on balance. That was before I got blasted out of the water again. A smug article upped the ante. Can you guess what it suggested? It said to balance on one foot for a full minute, like when brushing your teeth!!! Golly Pete! If I can’t hold a pose with arms crossed, what is the likelihood I could do it while brushing my teeth as thoroughly as you are supposed to do? I challenge you to give it a try and let me know how well you do. Don’t fall. Knocking your teeth out while trying to balance is not recommended.

Nerf Warfare and Time with David

Neighbor Logan begged to play with David, telling his dad it was the last day our grandson would be here. As it turned out, it was the last chance Logan had to be with him, because we were out the next two afternoons. The house was totally quiet for a few moments, then there were shrieks and a barrage of gunfire. These two cycles were repeated endlessly. Logan helped pick up the bullets before he went home, yet we were still finding them in odd places for days. You’d think all that hubbub would disturb us old geezers, but we loved it.

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We spent half a day at the Biltmore mansion, always a pleasurable outing for us. David sees more movies than we do, and he particularly enjoyed seeing the costumes on display. Books that the staff knew George Vanderbilt had read were on display, along with costumes from recent movies of those novels. We had one photograph of David taken near the entrance.

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Because we had trouble with the car at the last visit, David did not see the greenhouse and garden shop. He loved all the orchids and borrowed my camera to take a photo of the bluest one he could find. In the shop, I lingered beside each water fountain until the fellows pulled me away with the promise of lunch at the Moose Cafe.

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Another day I stepped outside to look at the daffodils and was surprised at how warm it was. While I talked to plants that were about to bloom, David began cleaning oak leaves out of the pool.

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I was happy that both Nathaniel and David had one lunch on the porch. As I’m writing this, snow is falling outside my window as a teaser. It isn’t likely to stick until the middle of the night.

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The day David was leaving, I asked him to pose for one closeup of his face. I needed one of each grandson to use as a desktop until they come back.

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