One-Thud Morning

Daughter Lise noticed sun on a mountain as we came down the steep hill. When we came back, I paused in the middle of Jonathan Creek Highway while John and Lise continued to the other side. This is the best shot I’ve taken so far of the highway we cross to get to the creek, and the sun-splashed mountain shows clearly.

We live out from town. This is the connecting road to I-40.

The Thud game began right at this point seven years ago. We are careful crossing this highway, because many vehicles go far beyond the speed limit. Once in a while we miscalculate the speed. It’s a close call if you almost run and your heart rate increases dramatically. We say THUD! exactly as the car comes to the point it would have hit us if we hadn’t hurried. When Lise walks to her office in Copenhagen, she plays the Thud game when crossing busy streets. She has to watch out for bicycles, as well as cars.

There was a car heading toward me in this photo. By the time I put away the camera and crossed the road, that car was close. I said Thud! as I rejoined John and Lise.

A Couple of Days with Nathaniel

Grandson Nathaniel is at university in culinary arts, so he had a suggestion for lunch when we asked for it. We enjoy going to independent restaurants, especially when recommended by a local. Lise was excited about the place, even before we entered. A new sign on the door stated that anyone fully vaccinated for the COVID virus could enter without a mask. Freedom!!

I got a kick out of the photo taken in poor lighting. I immediately saw a giant halo over Lise’s head and a small ghost rising out of the table to menace her. Two people couldn’t see the ghost when I showed them. I was left wondering if I had paranormal powers, seeing a ghost clearly when others couldn’t. The head is over the black dish on her plate, and his arms are raised over his head. It seems more visible when viewed slightly right of center. If you see it, I’d enjoy a yes vote in a comment.

Angel Lise threatened by a streaked white ghost over her plate

Skipping the mirror ritual, Nathaniel went right to work in the kitchen. He had promised Lise he would make croissants with some of the Danish butter she brought him. Son John $ came in to greet him, and the two of them started their banter in fake English accents. They think of the most outlandish things to say. $ backed against the counter when he thought I might record their nonsense. I wanted to, but respecting his privacy was more important.

An hour and a half later, Nathaniel was really into it. Can you see the columns of butter standing to the left of the mixer? All of it was used in the lamination process before he went to bed. We know all the croissants were consumed at once the last time he made them for a group. We hope David will be home from work when they come out of the oven tonight.

This morning he baked cardamom blueberry muffins for breakfast. What a treat! I told the family to enjoy that perfection. They all like soft muffins, and mine tend to be crisp around the edges. I should have taken a photo of the empty dish, showing their popularity. Too late!

Lise on Vacation

Daughter Lise worked the first half of her COVID visit, and now she is on vacation. She always loves relaxing with Sadie. The dog considers the green recliner her own, so when Lise sat in it, Sadie jumped up and pushed her way to the back.

Four of us were free on grandson David’s day off. We celebrated by having lunch at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After eating, we went outside to the observation deck to see the mountains stretched out before us, or in this case, behind us.

Lise hadn’t seen Looking Glass Falls recently. John found a parking spot only a few steps from where this photo was taken. David and Lise went down to the base of the falls, while I enjoyed the sights and sounds above.

We drove upstream to see the water before it crashed over the falls. The sticks here were too large to be rescued.

Rescuers of Sticks

Our family has become rescuers of sticks that are stuck in creeks. It all began on grandson David’s day off. We had eaten a heavy meal and went to the town recreation center to walk by Richland Creek. All of us enjoy the sound of gurgling water, so we sat on a bench to soak up the sound.

While there, we noticed a stick trapped by a rock. It was a challenge David and daughter Lise couldn’t resist. There were two attempts, one with a stick that was too short and one that was just right. Success!

This stick was too short.
There it goes!

Another day Lise noticed one stuck on our measuring rock. This is the rock we look at to gauge the depth of the water. After almost every rain, something will get hung up on it. It was Lise to the rescue!

Sadie loves water and sticks. She walks in every puddle and stream she can get to, lapping up some water as she goes. Sticks draw her like a magnet. When Lise took her down the bank to Jonathan Creek, she pulled Lise to one hanging there. She followed family precedence and tugged it free. Unlike humans, she might have jumped in the water to follow it if she hadn’t been restrained.

Here is a great stick.
I’m going to grab it.

Neighbors with Morning Coffee

I was going to text neighbor Shawn as soon as we got home from walking to the creek. There she was, on the porch sipping her morning coffee.

“May I come over?” I asked.

She replied, “Of course. Come try my new chair.”

As we sat down, we saw neighbor Jeff striding up his drive, holding a cup of coffee. He was on his way to my house to pick up an envelope from John having to do with the road association business. Dog Dolly barked at him like he was a stranger, so he came on the porch and sat down to wait for John. Shawn said, “I’ll get Bob. He wouldn’t want to miss being with the neighbors.”

Bob came out with his coffee as their two dogs and a cat wandered among us. I was amazed that Dolly and Jasmine cuddled together, but I guess they made their peace long ago.

We called John over when he started to Jeff’s house, and he took a chair. It was all like a movie, with everyone gathering before the real action started. The next bit was pure entertainment. We asked why Logan wasn’t in school. Shawn explained Logan has a cold, and they would have to go through the daily COVID routine of answering questions and having his temperature taken. If he had gone inside and coughed or sneezed, they would probably have had to go back to get him. Getting out of her chair, Shawn said, “I’ll get Logan. He knows the words by heart, since he hears it every day.”

Logan came out, smiled at everyone, and launched into the spiel he hears every morning. It was hilarious. I did not understand a single word that came out of his mouth like machine gun fire. It was the standard COVID drill, which you’ve heard many times by now. You are asked if you have a cough or fever and if you’ve been with anyone who has the virus. Perhaps there are five questions, but you would never have known that listening to Logan. Bob said it should be recorded, so Logan went through it again with Bob’s phone trained on him. I wish I hadn’t forgotten my camera, because I would love to have had that.

The impromptu gathering broke up when John left for an appointment. We all went back to our normal lives with spirits boosted. What a marvelous way to begin a day!

My Scales LIED

Daughter Lise and I have had friendly rivalry over weight while she has been here. She wants to get back to what she weighed several months ago, and I’m always eager to shed a few pounds painlessly (oxymoron, I know). Several days this week we weighed the same!

Frankly, it’s surprising we haven’t gained more than a couple of pounds, considering the places we’ve eaten. On David’s day off, we went to the Sweet Onion in Waynesville. For the foodies: Lise and I had pot roast and mashed potatoes. David had salmon with a drizzle of sesame, lime, and teriyaki.

Normally we don’t have dessert after a restaurant meal, but the waitress rattled off the three items on the menu. David’s and Lise’s eyes lit up. We ordered the triple chocolate cake with ice cream and split it three ways. They posed with it, looking over-eager.

That afternoon Lise told me the digital scales were not being truthful. She found out by accident. Stepping on, she noted the numbers and stepped off. Almost immediately she got back on the scales. The second time, she weighed three pounds less. Three pounds!!! This morning I saw my number was the same as it had been for several days. Remembering what she said, I stepped off, waited for the memory to clear, and stepped on again. Wow! Three pounds lighter!!!

Lise thinks the three-pound difference happens only once a day. After the scales have been used, they are set correctly for the rest of the day. Has anyone ever had scales that lie to you in the morning and backtrack in the afternoon? I wouldn’t mind one with a ten-pound difference.

Brackets for Walking

The brackets are two clips from the surveillance camera on our porch. Several months ago there was an incident in the neighborhood that caused almost everyone to get a camera. Since then, I’ve enjoyed it as a toy, often waving toward it as I go in and out. I remembered to look at the activity this day and saved the ones of our going out to walk and coming back home. Lise keeps me laughing throughout the day. You can imagine what the day was like with this as the beginning.

In the time between the bracket videos, we enjoyed seeing the sun come up to shine on top of the mountain. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s the kind of thing we see often. At this point we were on our way to the stop sign.

Sadie and Lise


Daughter Lise and her friends passed pleasant hours playing games during lock down in Denmark. She bought games here to take back. One of them was Azul, a game with pretty tiles and oddly concocted rules. The photo is blurred, as was my mind when playing. Grandson David and Lise talked strategy aloud, helping me to a big win that night. Next time I’ll play quietly, prepared to lose on my own. I’m good at losing games of strategy.

Amusement and pleasure joined when we met former neighbors Connie and Marla for lunch. We see each other on Facebook, but real face-time is far better.

You’d think we were doting on a toddler, the way we acted when Lise bought Sadie a decorated cookie from the dog bakery. My first priority was getting a shot of Lise giving it to her. Having brother and sister together with the dog was next.

I couldn’t resist John $’s tenderness. We all love Sadie, but $ is her first choice here at our house.

England 40 Years Ago — May 3, 1981

Sunday (April 26 in Cornwall) The wind blew and whistled around the house till we were tempted to look out and see if the Big Bad Wolf were there. Before we got out of bed we heard peltings on the windows. Yep, rain, sleet, and snow. The weather wasn’t going to deter us – we set out for Exeter and drove through the most fantastic snow storm. It’s the deepest snow we’ve seen in England – 2 or 3 inches! What a winter wonderland! We can’t believe it happened a week after Easter in the southern part of England. We trudged through the sludge to Exeter Cathedral, a lovely, airy stone building.

After a lunch of hamburgers, we drove to Torquay and rode behind a steam engine along the coast, over some hills, and into a valley with a lovely harbour. This is a resort area noted for its warm weather. We saw palm trees defiantly standing up to the cold wind.

It’s the usual thing in this area to have wrought iron gates at driveways and front gardens. We were asked to keep the ones at this house shut because cows sometimes wander by. Even in the cities, most places have these gates. Nearly all are painted pastel colours – very few black.

We had trouble with the hot water when we got back to the cottage and asked a neighbour for a ladder. He, poor fellow, had just returned from his holiday, but came over to try to help. A plumber is due early in the morning. Just our luck to have to oversee repairs on vacation! The neighbour said we came to a lovely area of the country, but picked lousy weather.

Monday April 27 You might think waiting for a plumber to finish a three hour job would ruin the day. Didn’t! We enjoyed hearing the Cornish accent. Poor man had to dismantle all the pipes to the heater to find the trouble in the bottom of the tank – a wad of fiber glass insulation.

After he left, we had a quick lunch and set off. Went to Buckland Abbey which had been given by Henry VIII to a family who later sold it to Sir Frances Drake. We saw a model of the Golden Hind and some of the banners that Drake had had – among the finest in Europe they say. We had tea in the kitchen there, our first time to have tea in a restaurant. Very nice.

Buckland Abbey

We drove around Plymouth and saw the waterfront where the Pilgrims set sail. In this area, Drake played a famous game of bowls while waiting for the Spanish Armada to come in close to shore.

So many restaurants are empty in this country, it’s no wonder the prices are so high because we pay for those empty seats. We tried a steak place in Plymouth and were pleasantly surprised by the food and service. They obviously don’t cater to children, having no special prices and no booster seats. $ sat on his car seat and had a grand time. As we were leaving, the waiter whisked $’s plastic bib away and cleaned it! That’s probably a first and last event!

Tuesday, April 28. Saw Dozmary Pool on the moor where legend says King Arthur’s sword was thrown and a ghostly arm rose up to catch it. It is a bleak, brooding place. Not far away is Jamaica Inn, the setting for the novel of that name by Daphne du Maurier.

Tintagel is the site on the coast where the remains of a castle overlook the rugged coast. It is reputedly King Arthur’s stronghold, but the buildings don’t date back quite far enough. It was surely impregnable, but what a wild place to live! (At right is Merlin’s Cave at Tintagel.)

Saw Cotehele House, built between 1485 and 1539. It was absolutely beautiful. The feature I particularly liked was the block installed about 1485. It has the earliest clock in England still working and in its original position! There is a big stone for a weight, but no pendulum – a funny balanced gadget swings back and forth. It doesn’t even have a face, just rings the hour.

We lunched on Cornish Pasties, a delicious hearty meal. This is the area where they originated, so had to try it. We understand most bakeries and many butcher shops sell them.

Wednesday, April 19 St. Michaels Mount was marvelous. At low tide there is a walkway to the island, but we arrived too late to walk over. Going over sand, up steps built into rocks, and down the other side brought us to a boat for the trip over. The climb up the steep, steep hill was an effort, but worth it to see the castle. Several hundred years ago there was a monastery; later the refectory became the dining room of the family who bought it. Now the present Lord St. Levan lives in the Victorian part not shown. The tide had come in more while we were on the island so that we rode back in the boat over the walkway and to a different landing since our departure point was now under water.

St. Michaels Mount from land
From St. Michaels Mount – walkway under water

Lands End was windy, but since the sun was shining we didn’t mind. We drove through Penzance and Truro, stopped to see the Cornish steam engines that moved men and tin in the extremely deep shafts and ate at a lovely restaurant. John $ has been an angel – we didn’t get back until 9 p.m. and he hardly cried all day long. (At right is a Cornish steam engine.)

Family at Land’s End

Since we’ve been here, we have wondered why the roads seem to be sunken, yet the fields are on a level with the road. It’s like driving in a maze because you can see ahead only, the sides slope up higher than the car. Finally figured it out by seeing a new fence. Stones, slate, or shale are piled up, often with a herring bone design near the top, and sod put on top. A slightly older fence had sod on top and vegetation growing out. The older the fence, the more vegetation until years later there is only a grassy mound with flowers!

New fence
Medium-aged fence
Old fence

Thursday, April 30 We walked on the moor today to see an ancient ring of stones built about the time Stonehenge was. The wind blew continually, the rain spit, and we could identify with characters in old novels who seem often to battle adverse weather on the moor. Eerie!

Stone Hurlers, Bodwin Moor

The next ancient monument was right beside a cottage. There were some huge stones balanced together that is thought to be a burial chamber which was then covered with earth.

This area is famous for china clay and pottery, so we visited a local pottery. The showroom was rough, but we enjoyed seeing the various things they make.

Spent half the afternoon at a train park riding behind the little live steam engines. The layout was huge and had won some prizes in competition.

The latter part of the day we roamed about a huge mansion, Victorian in style, though parts are 17th century. I was amused at a saucer bath the last lord preferred until his death in 1930. Kate at first thought it was for a baby to play in. It was a low circular shallow tub with no running water or drain. In the huge bathroom was a stone hot water bottle! The man showing the room said he remembered his parents having one before rubber ones came along. The large tub was on feet and so high you’d have to use steps to get in. The rim was made of mahogany! That’s class!

Gate to Landydrock

Friday, May 1 John $ wrote his name for the first time! He did it by having his push chair spell the name in the sand on the beach.

Trerice Manor House

In the Tudor manor house we toured, a lady showed us all the secret drawers in a desk. Reminded me of Woodside in NC. The barn has been converted into a restaurant with lots of home made goodies.

Besides tin mining, this area has many china clay works. We found an outdoor museum that showed the old method of separating the china clay from sand and dirt. Did you know that this powder is used in making paper and medicines? Of course, china and pottery also use it. We were mesmerized by two working water wheels and a paddle wheel. One of the water wheels was 90- years old and still working beautifully.

We ate a marvelous dinner in a lovely little place over looking the harbour in Fowey (pronounced Foy). The streets are the most narrow I have ever seen — winding and steep. During the tourist laden summer, the town is closed to vehicular traffic. The streets are a few inches wider than our car; pedestrians flatten themselves to the sides of buildings at the sound of a car.

Saturday we all pitched in to pack and clean the house. Drove across Exmoor which has some very different vegetation from Bodwin Moor. We squeezed in one more touristy thing by going through Arlington Court, the ancestral home of the Chichesters. Then we settled back for the long drive home, accomplished easily. John $ has been so good – unbelievable to those who have traveled with him when he was otherwise. And so home where the dirt hasn’t moved in our absence. Do you know how to tell someone to go across the street? It’s “go over the way.”

Sunday — Found out our doctor friends, Penny and Andy had an 8 pound 13 ounce boy while we were away. They have two girls and lost a boy a year ago. Tuesday the girls return to school after a month’s holiday. It’s been great fun. Town names we liked best in Cornwall: Harrowbarrow and Catchall.

Walking Sadie in the Rain

It was John $’s first day on a new job, and Sadie sensed something was different, though she didn’t know what. She ran to the front door and waited, hoping Lise and I would take her for a walk.

I’ve done fairly well getting clothes out of my room when I need them. I am determined not to walk in there while David is sleeping. Three of us have shifted where we sleep so that Lise can use David’s room as her office. She begins work between 2 and 4 am, matching her hours to Danish time. This day I forgot to get socks.

“John! Do you have a pair of socks I can borrow for walking?” I pleaded. Bless him, he let me have the pair he was about to put on.

Lise got $’s permission to take Sadie. He hugged the dog first, and we set out, knowing rain was in the forecast. John suggested we turn around half way to the stop sign. When we got to that point, we both agreed the rain was not imminent and went on. The rain clouds were watching, and they began to tease us at the stop sign. We hurried home in a steady drizzle. The wind lifted my hood, and I pulled it back over my head. Soon it was stuck there, plastered by rain that had permeated the flimsy material. It was water-repellent, not waterproof. It didn’t really matter, because I was a bit too warm, anyway.

We waved at the red car going by, and I realized it was $ on his way to work. Sadie had been trotting along with the leash taut. In an instant she stopped, lifted her head, and sniffed intently after the car went by. She knew John had passed us!

When we reached the front porch, we asked John for a towel to dry Sadie. I don’t know how Lise’s jacket fared, but mine had soaked up the rain and was not dripping.

I took a quick shower in the family bathroom, taking John’s suggestion of using a fresh towel because mine was in the other bathroom. I borrowed someone’s soap, washed, and realized I had not gotten the towel out first. Luckily, the bathmat was of towel material and could be scooted. Step. Shlump. Step. Shlump. I side-stepped, keeping the mat under my feet, until I reached the towels. Having no clean clothes available, I put nightclothes back on and downloaded photos.

Lise soon wandered in, taking a break for a second breakfast. I prepared croissants, bacon, and an egg for John and Lise. Halfway through my granola, I paused to get David’s meal on a plate. We all ended about the same time, and David rushed off to work. Things are quietly hectic here, but we are managing to get most things done reasonably well.