England 40 Years Ago — September 28, 1980

September 28, 1980

I saw something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before this week. With the sun shining, blue sky showing, and only fluffy white clouds overhead, I saw and felt rain! I was tempted to ask the first person I met on the street if I felt what I thought I did, but I chickened out. Drove on home and saw a lovely rainbow arched across the sky. I wasn’t dreaming!

One night John was late running for a train, didn’t check the board carefully and went to Gatwick Airport. I was helping Kate with her preps (homework) and went out to search for him in the car when I realized how late it was. I was in time to save his walking up the steepest hill, anyway.

The day before my parents arrived, I whizzed through the shopping, going to a supermarket, the freezer center, and a green grocer with a quick time out in one parking lot to take off the nappy next to John $’s skin. There was a reason for that, as you can imagine, and he didn’t seem to mind having a half-wet one put back. All of that was accomplished on a one-hour parking ticket. One can’t always move that fast because sometimes there is no hurrying an Englishman.

Thursday the folks arrived. John had called the airport to check on the flight and discovered it to be an hour or so early. He rushed off to be there, waited until almost time for the girls to go to school, drove like mad to get home, and had me drive the girls to Micklefield while he played with John $. The driver’s seat wasn’t cold before he was back in and on the way to Gatwick. He waited and waited – nothing compared to the 2 ½ hour wait the folks had going through the passport peeking line. Their feet found it hard to be civil when they got here! The girls were so excited that they were in the car in a flash when I went to pick them up at school.

We keep telling people what a large house we have. It was so large that Dad lost his teeth. He made no mention of it, so I was a little surprised to draw bathroom curtains and find a grin lying on the sill. I exclaimed over them, and he said, “There they are!”

“How did you eat dinner?”

“It was terribly hard!”

Later I heard Kate telling young friend Marianne, “My Granddaddy has teeth he can take out.” We persuaded her it wasn’t proper for her to ask him for a demonstration.

John $ has had a cold, so we didn’t go much of anywhere Friday, since he seemed to need extra sleep. Both Lisa and Kate were invited to the Hull’s across the street for supper, so I quickly revised the menu to include all the things I know they’d love to miss.

Yesterday we saw Stonehenge. [No photo this time around.] I was shocked to see it just out in a field by the side of the road. How tiny it looked! I expected huge things visible for miles because of the photos I’d seen of it. It did appear much more impressive close up, which is the view everyone is used to. The weather was not the best, nor did it help that Dad had no protection and Lisa had forgotten her raincoat. We went to see the stones in shifts! Forgetting the rain gear was nothing compared to what I forgot – John $’s food and bottles!

Thanks to John’s spotting of a chemist (drugstore), I was able to sprint across a busy street and purchase a training cup, lonely and dusty, high on a shelf. That did the trick. We stopped for lunch at a family restaurant where baby food was served and poured the milk into the cup. That evening we found another chain that also served baby food, and John $ ate high off the hog.

After Stonehenge we went to a big house called Vyne. Never did discover the reason for the name. Anyway, it was an old thing that had survived the rebellion because one of Cromwell’s right-hand men had bought it. It was elegant. In a long gallery there was scheduled a flute concert for later in the evening. I thought I’d heard snatches of melody drifting around, and sure enough, when we got to that gallery, the young lady was practicing. Sounded lovely. As we were going out, the lady manning the ticket desk asked how we’d liked the house. She answered one of the girls’ questions as to who lived in the house, and she said she did, with her husband and two dogs! When she realized it was suddenly pouring cats and dogs and we didn’t have enough rain-proofs to go around, she told John how to bring the car from the lot right near the door. Wasn’t that kind?

So many of these old homes have art hanging on the walls. I wish I knew more about it. There was one verified Holbein and one they thought by Holbein of Henry VIII. Dad loved the huge table, and I liked the chapel. One of the stained glass windows was supposed to have Catherine of Aragon, who had stayed in the house at some time. Kate loved the acoustics in that chapel and made the most of them with her clogs. The rather disapproving elderly lady showing that room said, “She’s a noisy so and so, isn’t she?”

My parents in Vyne.

This morning we went to St. Mary’s, which turned out to be the family service. It was so terribly informal that I said it out-Baptisted the Baptists. Dad said, yes, he felt right at home. They even sang one chorus that he knew, and I heard him sing in church for at least the second time in my life!

All over England it was the Harvest Thanksgiving service day, according to the sign we saw later while driving. At St. Mary’s the vicar called the children forward, and they filled the aisles carrying home-grown vegetables, store-bought fruits and canned goods. I think they were piled up before the altar. There were huge bouquets of flowers on every pedestal and apples piled on the ledges. They called for volunteers for the next day to dismantle all the food and deliver it to needy families.

After sandwiches at home, we drove to Brighton. I had wanted to see the Pavilion, which we did – twice driving by. Couldn’t find parking nearby. That was OK; I understand the outside is much more interesting than the inside. We did park near the beach and wander for a while on the promenade. The girls got their feet wet, and Granddaddy got his pants wet chasing the waves!

John $, John, Grandmother, Lisa, Kate, and Granddaddy

G’mother and I were fascinated by the little enclosures that lined the walk that people evidently rented for long periods of time. Some were wall-papered, and all must contain chairs. Many people were sitting half in and half out of the sheds, reading.

Brighton

Drove on to Alfriston to see a clergy house that was built in the 14th century. It had the most beautiful thatching on the roof. The village itself was most picturesque, but we were too late to take pictures of it or to have time to wander around. Thought we saw three hang gliders hovering above the hills as we left the village. I’d love to go back there some day.

We’d carefully warned the folks not to drink the water upstairs. Dad took a cup of water up with him, and he caught Mother drinking from it. He hit on the perfect way to ensure she wouldn’t drink any more. He said, “My TEETH are soaking in that!”

Sadie Speaks

I was proud of myself for sitting by the side of the road when GrAnne told me to. The grandsons call her Gran, but she’s GrAnne to me. I like to put a little growl at the beginning of her name. They say, “SADIE! CAR! SIT!” I don’t know how to car-sit, but I’ve figured out they are pleased if I sit down when a car goes by.

Today I sneaked in GrAnne’s room before she got out of bed, and I settled down in the recliner.

Why on earth was she doing getting down on the floor? That’s my territory!

Was she sick? I touched her face with my paw.

She told me it was OK, that she was doing her stretch and exercise routine. I tried to lick her face to show my approval. She recoiled and said “Eyywwww.”

I decided it might be best if I supervised her from a distance.

In a little while she was on her feet where she belongs, and we walked to the creek. I looked for the squirrel I jumped at yesterday, but it was hiding. John and GrAnne wondered why I pulled so hard the last quarter of the walk. I wanted to get home to breakfast. They haven’t realized yet that food is more important to me than it is to them!

England 40 Years Ago — September 21, 1980

Last Monday was John’s birthday. He said they made much of it in the office, scads of people stopping by his desk to wish him well. As a special treat for dinner, we had onion soup. The treat for the girls was that they were not required to eat it.

John $ seems to be practicing to be hard-headed. He goes to sleep with his head wedged up against the bumper in the cot (crib). I examine him daily to see if a callous has formed.

We did rather frantic shopping Monday and Tuesday for the girls’ clothes. We hadn’t been able to find a black sleeveless leotard or a reasonable raincoat. Bought leotards and cut off the sleeves, but paid through the nose for coats. They were over $50 each!! I must say they are lovely and very well made. I’ve forbidden the children to grow out of them for the next two years.

The Lord does still provide miracles on request. Lisa had really begun to carry on about living here, claiming that everything was awful and nothing good. It got worse and worse. I began to dread the first day of school.

Lisa and Kate the morning school started

Wednesday morning we got to the school, and Kate forged ahead, asked someone where she should go and disappeared. Lisa would have hidden behind my skirt if I’d had one on. We watched a hundred girls march before our eyes, and suddenly there was no one! Finally the headmistress appeared and promised to take Lisa where she belonged.

From that moment I dreaded returning for them. You can imagine my surprise when I caught sight of a smiling Lisa who said enthusiastically, “I’m going to like it here!” Merrin G, a girl who moved here from Australia last year, befriended her and showed her around. They were happy to find out that they live within walking distance of each other.

I don’t know what the procedure is at other schools, but at Micklefield the mothers are evidently required to be visible before the girls are let out. That first afternoon of school there were knots of mothers and little ones clogging the pavements, and you could hear and feel the excitement building up. The next days, the same groups appeared, though the excitement has worn off somewhat.

Neither a doctor nor a pharmacist has heard of Merthiolate here. [I don’t remember why I wanted it.]

Chatting with a saleslady from Australia, we learned that they can afford steak to eat, but not margarine. (That is pronounced marge-a-REEN.)

Went to the play group at St. Mary’s Friday. Penny S, the doctor I’d met recently, had organized it a year ago. She has helpers serve refreshments, and mothers of young children gather there to chat. Penny was busy, but introduced me to Katrina from Scotland. That’s the first time I’ve ever talked to anyone from there. She said the best thing about her home area is the air and the view. One has to go out to find a view here, she said, but can look out any window in Scotland and see something beautiful. Can’t help but think she is a little homesick. She has lived here a year. She thinks it would have been easier to move abroad! On my questioning that, she said it takes 13 hours of hard driving (in a little car) to get to her mother’s. On the other hand, it takes only 9 hours door to door to visit her brother in Canada. She was also telling me she had just joined the Presbyterian church here. I was surprised to learn it is a lovely stone church on the way to the station.

Mary G also came up to speak to me. She comes from Connecticut, has lived here eight years, and people have been telling her and me that we must get together. I really enjoyed talking to her.

John $ has placed us in a peculiar position which I am just now noticing. When I wait for the girls, I’ve become aware there aren’t any mothers with little children at the upper house exit. At the play group there don’t seem to be many with children in school. Guess this could give us a wider range of friends.

$ was playing with a long-handled bath brush and sat on it. He got so angry when he couldn’t pick it up easily that he hauled off and gave it a huge jerk. Prized himself off the floor!

Friday night John brought Frank F home for dinner. Frank changed companies before the move, but his new company is based in London. This is the man John most enjoyed in the New York office, and they had a good time that night.

Merrin came to play with Lisa yesterday. Her mother came to pick her up, and we had a chance to talk for a little while. They come from Sidney and will be returning there about the time we go back to the States. Merrin has about the whitest hair I’ve ever seen on a child, very white skin, but dark eyes. It is an unusual combo.

Kate is studying the Middle Ages in school, so we went to Hastings today after church. We stood on the ridge where Harold had positioned his Saxons and looked down on the valley from which William the Conqueror fought for the crown. The battle had raged all day until Harold was killed. William later built an Abbey on the site and placed the altar on the spot where Harold had died. Not much is left of the old buildings. The battle was in 1066.

Our family with a commemorative marker about the Battle of Hastings

After that we drove to New Romney to ride a little/big train [Romney, Hythe, & Dymchurch Railway]. This railroad links perhaps six towns. We got there late and rode from the middle of the line to one end and back. The cars are less than a yard wide, and Lisa is almost as tall as they are, yet you can crumple yourself up and get inside the cars.

Lisa, John $, John, and Kate riding in passenger car of Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

John found out that it is more than just a tourist thing – school children ride on it to get to and from school, and they run a special for shoppers on Fridays. Each car can hold about a dozen people. This was $’s fourth train ride.

We enjoyed watching the engine and tender on the turntable. I don’t have a good photo here of the train driver (engineer), but everyone enjoyed watching him. He was a dwarf and perfectly sized for that engine.

It looks like Lisa is taking a photo of the driver, but I don’t think she had a camera.

My parents arrive Wednesday, so if you don’t hear from us, you’ll know we’ve been busy.

Tossed!

Our conversation turned into a contest, which I lost. I was laughing at myself and shared what I did at the bathroom sink. I used a hair band to keep hair away from my face. After washing my face, I raked the band off and tossed it in the waste basket instead of putting it back in the drawer. It had served me well for several years and did not deserve that treatment. I quickly retrieved it and almost apologized to it.

John said he had done something similar. He opened the garbage pail to empty the coffee filter. After shaking out the grounds, he threw in the permanent filter, as well.

The clear winner was son John $pencer. He broke his silence at the mention of coffee. He was taking care of two chores at once – putting away clean socks and emptying coffee grounds. You can imagine where this is going, can’t you? He threw his socks in the trash and realized something was not quite right when he dumped coffee grounds all over his clean t-shirts.

Have any of you carelessly tossed away something by accident and quickly retrieved it? We can’t be the only ones!

September Fun Days

We finally met John’s sister Chris and husband Steve from South Carolina to celebrate all our birthdays. Four times a year we plan to get together, but many things intervened this past year. Chris arranged to have the other sister, Barbara and husband Thom, join us with a video call from New York. It was like old times to have the six of us chatting.

Steve, Anne, and Chris

Rain was pelting the area when we were ready to leave, so we waited for it to let up. This is the only picture I took of brother and sister together.

I always try to take a photo of people when they walk to the creek with us. Today was debut day for Sadie! We were testing her new leash, and it worked well.

Sadie and John at Jonathan Creek

Logan came over after going to school on line. He was here when John $pencer gave Sadie a bath and could see the peanut butter trick firsthand.

I got tickled when Logan said he was going to balance a balloon on his nose. The flash worked for the first shot and not for the second. I was lucky to catch the moment, even if the lighting was not good.

England 40 Years Ago — September 14, 1980

Kate’s finger is getting better, though looking awful. John took her to the casualty department Monday night, and she came home beaming with the impressively large bandage on it. She was told to keep it on for five days, but it fell off before then. You should have seen some of the funny looking things I fashioned to keep it padded. This morning I tied one on so hard that she lost the feeling in the finger, then fixed it so loose that it fell off as she was walking. I’ll get good at it when she no longer needs anything.

One night John worked late, and we got behind a little milk delivery truck on the way back from the station. Many of them have three wheels and are electric, as this one was. However, this was late at night, the battery must have been one step away from zero power, and it whirred and wheezed up a slight incline. It was the funniest thing, and I nearly fell out laughing. John was embarrassed and afraid the driver would notice me draped over the steering wheel howling. You could almost hear it saying, “I think I can. I think I can.” I didn’t stick around to see if it did.

As I was feeding John $, his attention was diverted toward the girls. He turned his body, head and eyes away, but left his mouth behind and open for the next bite!

Everyone kept telling us to go to Sutton to a certain store for some school clothes. “It’s straight up the road that goes over the Downs,” they said. We found the town with all its one-way streets, couldn’t find the store or a place to park, rain began, and we returned home defeated. I hate to think how hard it is to get to a place that is difficult to find.

The Sutton day brightened up when we saw $ stand alone for the first time. He was by my bed near where I was mending some clothes, and Kate pointed to him and said, “Look what John is doing!’ Hasn’t done it since, but I’m sure he will in time.

Thought for one day – it’s no wonder I dislike cutting fingernails and toenails, for there are 100 of them under this one roof! I’m only responsible for 80. I ignore 40 of those and cut the 20 that scratch me.

Do you know how to get your money’s worth here? You get value for money.

On the 11th I saw the first squirrel since leaving the States. It was a gray one and looked just like those we’re used to.

Bought a second-hand sewing machine that was a gross mistake – it works better than my big one at home, and I’m going to be spoiled. I re-sewed the seams on the girls’ napkin cases for school and made Kate a case for her comb that is required. Also, about five garments have been mended. Nice.

Walter R. was here for dinner Thursday night. He is one of John’s good friends from the New York office and was in town for a week.

Friday we went to Cathy D’s for coffee. [Cathy had stayed with the Methodist minister’s family in my home town for a vacation. Her minister and the Ripley man had swapped pulpits for a short while.] She’d also invited Vivienne somebody who described her house as the one with the peeling paint. Our landmark is a dead white birch in front. The morning was fun, both ladies being able to tell good stories and pointing out some of the things they feel are odd about the British. They said their countrymen are noted for their eccentrics. Cathy went on to tell a story about a young German fellow she knew who said he hated the British. One day it was raining, he was hurrying to put up his umbrella and duck into a big store, and that was the moment he said he decided to love the English people. He suddenly realized he was on an escalator with his umbrella still up and held over his head. Not one person laughed or paid any attention to this odd sight! Cathy said people probably thought there was another crazy Englishman!

Saturday the doorbell rang twice so that only I could hear it. The first time Jehovah’s Witnesses found me in robe and rubber gloves, the second a doctor from St. Mary’s saw me with a dressed body and undressed hair, just washed. Ugh! Being proper English people, though, they didn’t comment.

Lisa has fallen into the habit of calling John, “Dud.” It’s half funny and half disrespectful. If I don’t watch out, my name will be “Mud.”

Today we went to Winchester Cathedral expecting the morning service to be at 11. It had been at 10:30, and we arrived in time for the anthem.

Winchester Cathedral

This was my Sunday to be in charge of the time bomb who began to test the acoustics as the anthem was ending. He doesn’t cry, but just lets out sounds like an owl. I wandered around outside with him, taking pictures, listening to the music which came through faintly, and heading for the car when rain started. The others weren’t far behind. They stayed for choral Eucharist beginning at 11:30 until communion was being served. Somewhere John read that that church is the longest of its type in Europe. Gothic, John tells me.

The back of Winchester Cathedral, taken while I walked baby $

Then we drove on to Tucktonia near Bournmouth. I left out an “e” in that name; would you know where to put it? This place is a model landscape having miniatures of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Westminster, etc. It is outdoors, has trains running all around, boats sailing in waters, airplanes taxiing, figures playing cricket and much more. The trains were almost LGB scale.

Near the entrance of Tucktonia

Big Ben is taller than I am, but I could look down on Buckingham Palace. We all enjoyed it a lot. This is one place where strollers are allowed, thank heavens! Photos below show Lisa with Big Ben, our family before Windsor Castle, and Tower Bridge. [Years later Lise looked for Tucktonia on the internet and found it has been dismantled.]

Below are photos of St. Paul’s Cathedral, front and back, and Lisa with Westminster Abbey.

I know what you’re going to do. You’ll reread this letter and realize my math isn’t much worse than my spelling because 20 digits aren’t accounted for. That’s exactly John’s complaint when he gets scratched by one of those odd 20 that haven’t been taken care of.

Clewes has begun praising my cooking, probably wondering what else he’ll get if he keeps it up. I’m going to turn the tables on him and praise his gardening. After one of these praise sessions he told me that he firmly believes NO ONE does everything perfectly, just daring me to disclose my weak points, no doubt. I ‘fessed that I was a failure at shopping for clothes, and wouldn’t you know it, he was here the day we came home from Sutton with our tails between our legs! Maybe that’s what is wrong with my attitude – we assume the wrong posture before we get out!

England 40 Years Ago — September 8, 1980

Someone commented last Sunday that there must have been a wedding because of the confetti. The girls picked up a few pieces, and we discovered it was paper in the shapes of hearts, flowers, horse shoes, etc. The only confetti we had seen before was made up of tiny pieces of shredded paper.

In talking of beds, we discovered that what we call a cot (folding bed) they call a ZED BED. They’d probably write it as “Z bed”, but of course pronounced Zee as Zed. A baby’s bed is a cot here, not a crib.

It’s odd that some differences show up at once, and it may take a long time for other things to come to one’s attention. I noticed the other day that the home where Lisa has her French tutoring has no front door knob. Then I happened to look at our door, and we don’t have one either!!

John $ is getting frisky. This week he chased me around the kitchen table while I was using a brush and dustpan. He wanted to play with the dirty thing, and I was working as fast as possible to get the mess cleaned up and avoid him. He had a small wooden toy in each hand while crawling and sounded like a child running on stilts.

One afternoon John $ scooted for the stairs, went up three and came back down time after time. He actually discovered for himself how to come down. I was SO IMPRESSED at how smart he was. Since then he has run up the stairs at every forbidden opportunity and absolutely refuses to try to come down. So much for my pride!

We went to the school to pick up a new uniform list, and Kate wanted to read it. Lisa was pushing John, and Kate and I were walking side by side. All of a sudden I heard a thumpy ring and found Kate not beside me – she’d walked right into a lamp post!!! I wished I’d caught her first expression with a camera. I tried my best to soothe her, but that is hard when one is doubled over with laughter. Lisa controlled herself better than I did and managed to calm her down. All that really suffered was Kate’s dignity.

The children and I went to Barbara C.’s for coffee. She’d also invited a woman with two girls, the older of whom is entering Micklefield this term. The woman is a doctor who decided not to practice until her children are older! It was a very pleasant morning. Both the doctor, Penny, and Barbara are active in home groups – church people who meet in homes for different activities such as Bible study, meals, games, etc. Penny invited John and me to join her group. Penny also runs a play group that meets Friday mornings. Ladies with young children take their little ones to the church hall and watch them play while the ladies talk. This is not a sitting service because I don’t think you can leave your child there unless you stay. After school starts, I may go. She said she is looking for committed Christians to be part of the group. Evidently many who come are not “committed.” I don’t know if that is a statement of their lack of faith or lack of church work.

The tea bags I buy have no tags! Gardener Clewes said some brands do have tags, but I haven’t bought any of them yet.

They don’t have sidewalks here – only pavements.

John $ and I had quite an adventure in the car. I had dropped John C. off at the station and drove on to the car place where I had an appointment for a little more work they had not finished the previous week. I had spoken for a car to hire (not rent), but they had none at all. They decided to do the work while I waited. I put $ in the push chair and waited. Before too long they finished and I drove off. Meanwhile, the girls were still in bed at home and not with me. About half way home $ wriggled out of his car seat. I clamped a hand on him until I could get to a place to pull off, but had to go through a round-about. In the middle of that crazy circle he grabbed the shift stick and put the car in neutral! I was able to get off the road, tie him down, and continue but somehow in the excitement missed a turn. I was so glad to get home in one piece. The whole time I was gone was under an hour and a half, but it felt like three! I came in telling the girls that I was there only because the Lord had been with me!

The afternoon’s shopping expedition finished me off. We bought school shoes for fifty pounds, which is over $100. We got outdoor shoes, sandals and ballet slippers for both girls. I realize that is six pair, but heavens! What money!

We were expecting company Saturday night, but the man called it off because of conjunctivitis. His, not ours.

I’m worried about John C. He bought a transformer for the trains Saturday and hasn’t hooked it up yet. He was trying to finish a big job he’d started outside and took the whole day carting us around yesterday (Sunday). I’ll think him more normal when he hooks it up!

Yesterday we went to the Lutheran church, picnicked by the road side, drove through Canterbury without stopping and went on to Dover. We got stuck in a traffic jam coming home that was worse than a New York jam. If that had happened while we were all in our little car, we would have ended up with relativitis.

The white cliffs are beautiful; we walked along the promenade, and the girls ran down to the water just to be able to say they’d had their hands in the English channel.

We went through, or rather, up to Dover Castle, one of the oldest fortifications in England. After going all around the square keep, we went in and climbed up to the top. There were displays of armor, a model of the battle of Waterloo,and a fantastic view from the top. Also went through an exhibit of costumes used in the series Henry VIII, some series about Elizabeth and some other historical people. That is, TV series. The girls were so thrilled to see them in person, having just watched the end of Henry.

Today Kate slammed the front door on her finger. There was lots of blood, a big flap of skin, and a few screams. I thought it looked pretty good, but neighbor Carol was concerned and told me which hospital to take her to. I’m waiting for John to come home to see what he thinks.

Neighbor Mary Ann bought a new fish, decided her bowl was too small and asked for permission to put three of her pretty gold fish in our pond. Everyone, including the fish, seemed to like the idea. I thought the fish belonged to her brother, but maybe not.

Camera Not Handy! September 2000

Daughter Kate and her boys spent the afternoon with us. It was almost unbearably humid, so I retreated to my air-conditioned bedroom where Nathaniel (7 months) was sleeping in a portable crib. Before long David (5) joined me on the bed. I read three books to him before he began constructing a tent with blankets. The baby slept for an hour and a half, then began to whimper. David kindly handed him a toy and put the pacifier in his mouth, a process that was repeated many times before Nathaniel began to protest earnestly. I wasn’t ready to give up the cool air, so I jotted a note to Kate on a scrap piece of paper I keep beside the bed.

I wrote, “Kate, Nathaniel wants his mommy,” and asked David to take it to his mother.

This is what the boys looked like that month as they played in the Narthex at church.

David returned, saying he had given her the note, and resumed his cycle of playing and trying to keep Nathaniel happy. After a while I scooped the baby up and headed downstairs. Kate was sound asleep on the sofa. Between her thumb and forefinger was my note. When I told John the story a day later, he laughed and said someone had probably warned David not to wake his mother. He had delivered the note, alright, but it had no visible effect on that sleeping form.

S’mores on Labor Day

Grandson David worked a full shift on the holiday and came home to eat his warmed bison burger, prepared earlier by Uncle John $pencer. We had been longing for S’mores, a common campfire dessert made with Graham crackers, milk chocolate candy squares, and marshmallows. David’s mom had left the extra fixings from our July 4th celebration. The grill was long since cold, so David and I roasted marshmallows over a candle before assembling our S’mores. They tasted good, although they would have been better among laughing relatives.

Marshmallow over the flame

Sadie is always ready to party, but when all is quiet in the house, she curls up to sleep. I found her in the living room. The pillow just happened to be at just the right angle for her head. Sweet dreams, Sadie.

Labor Day 20 Years Ago

September 4, 2000 On Labor Day John and I went out to eat in the middle of the day. I knew we couldn’t go far, because John was slated for the late shift at Borders. We both wished to avoid the tourist crowds in Port Jeff, and neither of us wanted to spend a mint on lunch. We ended up at a diner. It was surprisingly busy, with people constantly coming and going. You know the old game of “what’s wrong with this picture” where you look at a drawing and pick out an incongruous item? It dawned on me that I was looking at one of those. In a booth close to us were three Chinese people. Now I know they have to eat like all normal humans, but I can’t remember ever seeing any Chinese people in a diner before. I hope they enjoyed their hearty meal as much as we did.

My dad and I laughed about Labor Day being a holiday where half the people work extra hard serving those who have the day off. John fit in the first category, I in the second. I began the day with newspaper in bed. Forget having breakfast in bed. That’s nasty! I can’t abide crumbs in bed, and that’s what breakfast is all about. No, I’d take a newspaper any day. I showered, dressed, fetched the paper from the road and lolled on the bed reading it and working the crossword puzzle. What a way to start the day! Of course, it helps that it was Monday, and I can usually work the easiest puzzle of the week with a pen. I finished reading a book, streamlined the start-up routine of the computer, went out to eat with John and resumed reading. Meanwhile, John was serving stressed-out people at Borders. The day was stacked against book sellers. First, it was Monday which is Senior Citizen’s day. Checking proof of age adds to the check out procedure. Second, it was an overcast day. Bad weather seems to herd people into the store in droves. Third, it was a holiday and fourth, it was the day before teachers return to school. John was working the late shift, so he dealt with teachers whining that the books they wanted were sold out. He felt free to criticize them, because all the teachers we know are much more organized than that.

Grampy (brother-in-law Thom’s dad) wrote about their Labor Day:

“About Labor Day. While others take a holiday, we just keep doing what we do every day during the year. Wake up, get up, wash up, eat up, dress up, try to think what day it is and then get our get up and go started. Then it’s time for a break. And when you don’t do anything it is very hard to take a break.”