Last of Lise's Visit

Neighbors Shawn and Bob invited us for dessert the night before daughter Lise left. Shawn and Lise have a special bond; they share the same birthday and have always enjoyed each other. Logan (9) had snuggled next to his mother, playing with a tablet.

David was in dog heaven, having his hands on two of their dogs as Bob watched in the background.

Of all the homes Lise has seen in Denmark, she said few had a bathtub. She intended to soak in our tub, but didn’t get to it until her last night. Shawn gave her a bath bomb to make it extra special.

This was the last photo I took of Lise. We were on the way to Charlotte and dropped Rose and son John $pencer off to pick up her car. The girls were laughing about Lise’s stuffed animal. Instead of T-Rex, she named him T-Red. After she got home, Lise texted that T-Red had a seat to himself from Charlotte to London.

We packed a lot into Lise’s two-week visit, giving us many memories to savor.

Waterfalls with Lise

Daughter Lise’s penultimate day saw us chasing waterfalls. We planned to go to Soco Falls until son John $pencer mentioned Mingo Falls. It was in the same vicinity, and none of us had seen it. According to a guidebook, there were 158 steps to the falls, which made me pause. As it turned out, there were sturdy railings on both sides, making it easy. We thought it well worth the climb. We stood on the bridge over the stream taking photos.

John, Lise, and David at Mingo Falls

John, Lise, and David climbed down to the stream on the other side of the bridge. The views were most satisfying.

John, Lise, and David below Mingo Falls

My favorite photo was the one Lise took, a selfie plus three.

I had promised Lise a favorite meal, so we went home for lunch before going out again. We went to Sunburst Falls, my favorite close to home. We looked at the water from both sides of the bridge and were about to leave when Lise said she wished she had gone out on the rocks with David. It wasn’t dark yet, and I urged her to go. David came back to us, was pleased she wanted to go, and went back with her. I took the first shot without zooming in.

The close-up shows their faces.

The next picture shows Lise presenting the falls with a grand gesture. Of course, the zoom eliminated the falls.

On the way back to the car, David broke off an ice saber and let Lise brandish it.

Our day had been thoroughly satisfying. It was fun to share tales of our adventures with $ and Rose.

Musical Beds, Snow, and Friends

We played musical beds the week of Thanksgiving. There were seven of us, so at least one person slept on the floor each night. Daughter Lise probably moved the most, sleeping in the living room, John’s office, and my room. I had a surprising experience, finding warmth where I least expected it. My north-facing bedroom was always frigid in cold weather, so I assumed the other two bedrooms were equally uncomfortable. Grandson David prefers the top bunk and offered me the single bed in his room. It was my childhood bed that had been my mother’s before me. I lay under a very thin blanket and a light quilt, expecting to shiver. Warm! It was toasty warm! The other surprise was finding David is even quieter at night than during the day. If I snored, he was polite enough not to mention it.

Lise and I were excited that the forecast was correct. We walked to the creek in falling snow! Neighbor Marla was walking Albert, and we had a nice chat with her.

Lise and Marla

When we came home, the grass was covered with snow. We didn’t get much more, and like the typical North Carolina snow, was gone a few hours later.

Connie and Marla suggested having lunch together. We went to a place none of us had been before and enjoyed the food and the visiting. There is nothing else in the world like having neighbors who are friends.

Connie, Lise, and Marla

End of Nathaniel's Thanksgiving Break

Grandson Nathaniel had a week and bracketing weekends off for Thanksgiving. The days went by much too quickly, especially the last two. Daughter Lise (Nathaniel’s aunt) wanted to go to Cataloochee, hoping to see elk grazing in the meadow. I took photos of Nathaniel on a split log bridge, Lise with a house built in 1903, and Lise getting a picture of one elk by the side of the road. Part of the ride was on a rough gravel road that was one and a half lanes wide. It felt a bit unsafe when trying to pass a car in the opposite direction, but Lise did it well. She loves to drive and misses driving in the US.

Back at home, Nathaniel made us hot chocolate. It was probably better not to know the ingredients included dark chocolate and heavy cream. Yes, ignorance is bliss.

Lise with hot chocolate by Nathaniel

Both grandsons and I went to Grace Church of the Mountains, an Episcopal church in Waynesville. I was thrilled they used my favorite Advent hymns for the first Sunday of Advent. The organist played Wachet Auf for the prelude and postlude. He had the expertise and the instrument to make it memorable.

We had lunch at a hibachi Japanese restaurant on the way to Charlotte. The fellows watched intently as the chef juggled knives and cooked the food in front of us. It was quite a show, with delicious results.

We took a farewell photo in front of Nathaniel’s dorm. Lise and David went up to see his room, which they had not seen before.

I was walking up and down on the sidewalk near the car, which was parked in a fire lane. They got my attention so that I could take a photo of them on Nathaniel’s balcony, waving from the balcony below the top one.

On the drive to Charlotte, we realized Nathaniel had not lowered the mirror when he left. We took care of that as soon as we got home. The next day Nate began classes in the new term. Sugar is one of the classes, and he said his fingertips will be burned when handling the molten sugar. Lise begged for photos, but he said he is often too busy to stop for pictures. We’d probably gain weight just looking at photos of spun sugar and decorated cakes. We’ll make do with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.

We miss you, Nathaniel.

Black Friday

I swore I’d never again shop on the day after Thanksgiving. Once was enough 20 years ago. This year Lise needed sneakers, and John asked us to get something for him. Thankfully we did not get involved with frantic crowds or snarly people. Nathaniel was game to go with us, and I saw firsthand why Lise loves to have her nephews shop with her.

Thanksgiving Gifts

Grandson Nathaniel had a week off from college and offered to help in the kitchen. I’ve always been torn about his cooking at our house, not wanting to put pressure on him when he has free time. He repeated his offer to cook the turkey if I wanted him to. I said yes and felt a great sense of relief. Why had I not accepted such a wonderful gift before? I’ve prepared the Thanksgiving turkey only six times, and I would have followed the directions on the wrapper. I was suddenly free of calculating the cooking time and checking on the bird. He made a special herb butter, pushing it under the skin with his fingers. I took a photo as he was about to put it in the oven.

Daughter Lise and Nathaniel took shots of the bird before I carved it. We have never had such a moist, flavorful turkey.

He is majoring in baking and pastry, so I scolded myself for not asking him to bake for us. I asked if he would like to make rolls for the feast. He did not make them a day ahead as I would have. He had them rising and popped them in the oven after the turkey was done. What a treat!

Grandson David dusted ceiling fans and furniture before cleaning the hardwood floors. He also helped Lise make the counters neater. Those were precious gifts, as well.

Lise took a turn at the stove, preparing a Danish potato dish that is served on special occasions. This was not a gift. This was a miracle. Many of you know that Lise never spent much time in the kitchen. A friend in Denmark challenged her to do this for us, and she did!! Our Danish friend Kai often spoke of having this, so I knew it was very special.

Other food gifts included John’s cutting up the butternut squash so that I could cook and puree it easily. Connie brought a lovely corn pudding and the most delicious chocolate cake, covered with swirls of mint whipped cream. With all these gifts, we lavished love on each other.

We had one picture of our satisfied selves at the table before we had dessert.

Lise, Bob, Beth, David, Marla, Connie, Nathaniel, John

A gift that didn’t show was John’s cleaning up the kitchen after the meal. I really appreciated knowing that my job was through as we cleared the dessert dishes and settled in the living room to chat.

A Tale of Hanging

I looked from the kitchen to see why son John $pencer was snickering. He said Sadie’s tail was hanging off the chair. Sure enough, it was! I took a photo before walking around to see his view.

We had given Sadie an almost-empty peanut butter jar to lick. She worked on it for hours, trying to get her tongue to the bottom. She was so intent on her mission that she was unaware I walked around to get another shot of her peculiar pose. Later, daughter Lise felt sorry for the dog and dug out the remaining peanut butter with her fingers for her to lick.

I nominated long-armed Nathaniel to take our selfies as we hung out at the creek. The sun was playing with shadows, so it wasn’t the best shot. We’ll keep it to remind ourselves of the pleasure we had in walking together.

Nathaniel, Anne, Lise, and John at Jonathan Creek

Nathaniel worked all day in the kitchen. He made a butter/herb mixture and put it under the skin of the turkey, ready to cook the next day. Eggnog was prepared, and dinner rolls were ready for baking. He and I put together our traditional cranberry-mince pie. I first used the recipe in 1975, when Nathaniel’s mother was four years old. I stirred together the filling, while he made the pastry. He used a mixture of butter and shortening, so I know this will be the best pie ever.

Nathaniel with the cranberry mince pie

John drove Lise to her annual dental appointment several towns away. She had two-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Despite that, she was game to eat barbecue with the rest of us. We felt that was a good reward after a long day. No hangups here!

BBQ! John, David, Lise, and Nathaniel