Graduation!

The graduation ceremony was like most others – dignified and solemn. What made this one different? This graduation was OURS!!! Our grandson graduated from college, and we were as proud as could be. There were only three tickets per student, which covered Kate, John, and me. We wished for one more for David’s roommate, but he saw it streamed to a nearby building.

An organist and two trumpeters played a beautiful piece as the faculty processed in.  They switched to the traditional Elgar for the students.

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We wondered if David could find us, because we were in the very first row! Kate saw him looking straight at us from that group of 219. John and I were amazed at the number. We thought there might be 10 or so mid-year graduates.

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David is in the middle, wearing a blue tie.

One of David’s favorites, the head of the music department, was announcing the names as the students went up for their diplomas. David was in the choir all four years and enjoyed Dr. J. Maybe this is standard procedure, but I thought it brilliant. Each student handed him a card with his name on it, along with the phonetic spelling.

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The president of the college handed the diploma to the student and turned to pose for the official photo. Dr. Nunes had a wonderful smile for each and every one!

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Dr. Nunes addressed the class and instructed them to change their tassels from the right side of the cap to the left. I was relieved none of the caps were tossed into the air. The new alumni followed the faculty out of the building to music by Handel.

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We ended the day with a celebratory meal at the Odyssey. The Odyssey is the diner in Broxville where John took Lise, Kate, and David (all now alumni of Concordia) when he went to see them or was on campus for a meeting. Justin and Caroline were special friends of David who were at the graduation. They returned to campus, and Kate drove home. We began the trip to North Carolina, going into Pennsylvania before stopping for the night. It had been a long day, but a very satisfying one.

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Justin, Caroline, Kate, David, and John

New York Adventures

Before breakfast John’s sister Barbara and I took a short walk from her house to an overlook where we could see Long Island Sound. I had a bird’s eye view of the harbor where I walked for 20 years. John joined us, and as we walked back, an old friend stopped his vehicle and hopped out to greet us. It was marvelous to see Dave. Another man strode past, carrying his newspaper. I was glad to see him alive, because I used to see him reading his paper as he walked near the grist mill. Evidently, he didn’t run into anything that killed him after we moved away.

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Dave, John and Anne in Stony Brook

We had breakfast with niece Tonja at the dining hall of the boarding school. She is head of the lower school on campus, where she is expected to be visible and available much of the day, including Saturday.

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Daughter/mother Tonja and Barbara

David’s roommate went with us for our Manhattan adventure. Daughter Kate met us on 5th Avenue, having driven in from her home in New Jersey We walked to the back side of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, knowing we didn’t have time to push through the crowds at the front.

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We passed a display of a replica of the star on top of the tree, and I took a picture of our group in that area. I was surprised to find a reflection of the ice skating rink above their heads.

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John, Justin, Kate, David, Barbara, Tonja with reflection of ice rink at Rockefeller Center

Hiking back to St. Thomas, we had seats near the front for the service of lessons and carols.

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I should never be left with a camera and time to kill. Our group is shown in the pew, waiting for the service to begin.

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As we inched our way down 5th Avenue in the car, I took a photo showing the front view of the tree in Rockefeller Center. The crowd was still as thick as could be.

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There are pictures of store fronts with light shows on the facades of the buildings. New York is really spectacular at Christmas.

Instant Friends

I knew if we ever went to the eastern coast of Maryland, we had to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Rooster (Lee), and his wife Mary Agnes. The opportunity came as John and I planned a trip to New York. As usual, we could not loiter. I wrote Lee that I’d set a timer for an hour for our visit. Well, we were late. I texted where we were, and he replied, “43 miles away. Be safe, clock starts in 10 minutes, will be a short visit. LOL!” We had no idea we’d be laughing before we ever met them.

Have you ever met people with whom you have an instant bond? We were at home with Lee and Mary Agnes as soon as we got out of the car. What a marvelous time we had! That dratted timer went off way too soon.

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Mary Agnes, Lee, and John

For an hour or so after we left, I savored the visit while John drove. Every once in a while, I’d ask, “Did you hear what he or she said about….?”

First of all, we got a quick run-down of their children, grandchildren, and great-grands. Lee held a portrait-sized photo and explained everyone. That was a marvelous beginning, because we then knew who they were talking about. A photo family tree is a real treasure.

I couldn’t begin to recount all the things we talked about, but I loved hearing stories of the ten years they ran a bed and breakfast place in that little farming community. Both were working full time, as they catered to guests who were there about 350 days out of the year. They never once had a guest that they hoped would not return. The stories were marvelous, and we were spellbound. Woven through their narrative was a haunting tale that you’d need to hear first-hand to appreciate. Mary Agnes told Lee he needed to write the stories, and I know he’d do a beautiful job.

Lee’s blog address is elfidd.com.

Snow!

Our weather forecasts are rarely accurate, so we weren’t concerned about an impending snowstorm. Several people around the US asked if we were ready for the storm that was not yet on our radar. It hit. There were a few flakes Saturday morning, lots of drizzles, and finally real snow after 5:30. Power went out at 11, and we got it back about 18 hours later. Our church in Asheville was closed, and I’m sure a huge percentage of other churches in the area were shut tight. Roads, if passable at all, would have been treacherous. John is a drive-through-anything person, and he said we weren’t leaving the house. We found out later that trees fell across the road near the stop sign, and neighbors Bob and Jeff walked there and cleared the road. Our heroes!!!

We are blessed to have a generator that runs a few outlets around the house, and we had hot water. Water is not taken for granted here, because you need electricity to run the well pump. After dressing in my warmest clothes, I made pumpkin soup in the microwave. We were ready for the day. Logan and his parents, Shawn and Bob, came over to huddle with us. Neighbor Joyce joined us later. We used our collection of throws and flax warmers to keep from shivering. Not knowing how long the power would be off, we didn’t use our gas fireplace. If the house had gotten colder, we would have turned it on. We were able to make coffee and hot chocolate, with no takers for tea. Conversation never flagged, and two worked on a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t know how long they stayed, maybe four pleasant hours.  There were no unpleasant moments.

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Bob, Logan, Shawn, John, Joyce.  Curtains block drafts from the doors.

Bob left to help a neighbor start a generator, and the rest of us played balloon. We told Logan to get a new balloon, and he asked his mother to tie it. Logan and I are not good at that. Balloon is an active game that never fails to warm me up. Adults sat on chairs, and Logan was EVERYWHERE. John claims Logan could play a fierce game of toss and return all by himself.

As daylight faded, everyone went home. That’s when the power came back on. I became concerned when John didn’t come in from shoveling snow. He was still shifting the wet mess. That’s when I realized how much he missed New York weather. He cleared our driveway and was shoveling the street!

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Christmas lights were again visible at Logan’s house.

Pig-face Logan

Neighbor Logan (8) entertained us as his parents put the finishing touches on a lovely dinner. The things he could do to his face defy description. When I got out the camera, he posed with his pig face.

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The party was perfect, almost halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shawn baked a turkey with all the trimmings, and Bob was mashing the potatoes when we came in. Their house was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The weather got in on the act, too. We arrived in rain and left with snow accumulating on the ground. In between, we talked about the neighborhood, Christmas movies, sales of homes, local bakeries, and other topics that brought many laughs.

For the foodies: We had turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetable casserole, and homemade rolls. Yes, we were almost in a food coma before dessert. I brought a toasted coconut pie, like a Southern chess pie. Neighbor Connie brought a cake with white chocolate raspberry frosting. It was even better than the name sounds. It’s surprising we could walk away from the table unaided.

I took a photo of us at the table, which included Logan looking like the handsome boy he really is. Instead of that one, I’ll show you the one Logan took with my camera. He did a great job, didn’t he?

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Bob, Shawn, Marla, me, Connie, and John.  Photo by Logan.

Thanksgiving in the Mirror

All the fun people who stayed with us the week before and after Thanksgiving went home. This was the most hectic and satisfying November holiday we’ve ever had. There is one thing I would have changed, and that is cousin Debi’s overnight stay in the hospital on her way here. We were sorry to lose a day of visiting, but we were thankful she was fine.

It would have been great to have a laugh-meter to measure our mirth. I don’t know why we found so many things amusing, but we did and usually do. The turkey was perfect, serving us twice with a half cup left over. I think it fed 13 in total. Wouldn’t it be nice if all turkeys were so well-behaved? Stuffing was another matter. We need to buy some chicken to make the quart of it disappear.

I thought life might become a bit boring after Thanksgiving, but it didn’t. A couple we have begun to know at church sat in the pew in front of us. What a surprise it was to see them heading to the front door of a restaurant across town as we pulled into the parking lot! Linda and Gil invited us to share a table, and we had a delightful meal together. While they waited for me to finish eating, Gil told a story while folding a napkin. He is an illusionist, occasionally giving the children’s sermon in church, using magic to make a point. Everyone sits up to see what he will do. At the table he tore up the folded napkin and used the pieces to finish telling the story. What fun! I took photos, but I did not ask their permission to post them. A woman at the next table spoke to Gil as we got up. She had enjoyed his story, too.

Monday, neighbor Shawn asked if we would be home at school bus time, in case she didn’t get back from an appointment in time to get Logan. I texted her that we would be home all day and might get lonely by afternoon. She sent a grin back and said Logan had missed us. Logan probably asked to come over to see us during the past two weeks, and his parents would have told him to stay away because we had company. Shawn was back in time for the bus. John was outside raking leaves, and Logan joined him.

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Logan raked and said it was fun to use the wheelbarrow. He offered to wheel the leaves down to the burn pile. John went with him the first time or so, and then they took turns. John said he handled it skillfully all by himself. He takes after his practical, hard-working parents. The November holiday may be over, but life in the mountains continues to delight us.