Our friends, who keep up with news of the neighborhood, seem to get lots of their information from Sorrell’s. That’s the service station/cafe that we walk by on our way to the creek. Today I got the scoop there, only outside, not inside.
A white SUV stopped, and the window rolled down. Neighbor Les and his wife wanted to know where John was. They laughed when I said he had a play date in Tennessee. I explained that he would be with lots of other train madmen enthusiasts, riding on small trains around a big track.
They changed the subject, asking, “Did you see the For Sale sign in our yard?”
Yes, John and I had seen it. In fact, John sent a link to friends in the middle of this state who have expressed interest in moving to the mountains. Les found a house nearby and bought it. The house is larger, and there is more land around it. They won’t move until the old one has been sold.
“Would you tell all your friends about it?” Les asked. “This is your chance to choose your neighbors!”
I would never have thought of that. It’s brilliant! If you are interested in buying a small house on a lower slope of a North Carolina mountain, let me know. There is also a separate building that could be used as a studio or office. Below is the realtor’s photo taken from the side. Come and be our neighbor!
We had been to the lovely wedding of the daughter of John’s first cousin. The church was Katie’s home church, where the minister who performed the ceremony had been her Sunday School teacher when she was young. Her roots were very much there.
I hadn’t thought about wedding roots until our son talked about his friend’s wedding. It was far from the homes of the bride and groom, in another area of the country. He couldn’t go, but he talked to an old friend who did go. That jogged my memory that our daughter had been to a wedding outside the country on a tropical beach. I enjoyed hearing about these glamorous events, but they were out of my league.
I said to son John $, “I haven’t thought about destination weddings in quite a while. Are they still an ‘in’ thing?”
I didn’t stop to think that $ has lived in North Carolina for a number of years. He is so at home hiking and camping in the woods, that you’d never guess he grew up on Long Island. He is a transplant, one whose roots in sandy soil don’t show.
$ had an immediate answer to my question. He shrugged and said, “How would I know? The weddings I go to are usually in barns!”
Another way of saying 75 years passed is that three quarters of a century are in the past – on John’s odometer. Thank heavens John himself has not passed! Our son and I treated him to a prime rib dinner on his 76th birthday. The meat was rare, as was the dinner. When we lived in England in the 80s, John occasionally had prime rib with horseradish. The hunger for that dish resurfaced last year and again this year. I’m sure he will not yearn for it more often, if that means another year of his life has passed.
The venue for the birthday meal was the restaurant where grandson Nathaniel worked all summer. The co-owner who had hired him was checking with diners to see if everything were satisfactory. When she came to us, John said Nathaniel sent greetings. Her face brightened up, and she began to say the most wonderful things about him. She said how much she had enjoyed him, that he had raised the bar in the kitchen, and that she hoped he would come back. That, in itself, was like another birthday present for John.
We enjoyed our dinners. John $ and I chose meatloaf, a less expensive item on the menu. I had a second reason to choose it. I suspect Nathaniel had made it! He used 20 pounds of beef for meatloaf the last time he prepared it. He might also have diced the tomatoes for the tomato jelly that decorated the top of the meat. It was delicious and beautifully presented. We came home and had angel food cake with strawberries and whipped topping. This is John’s favorite birthday dessert, one that his grandmother and his mother made for him when he was growing up.
I was thankful that John was alive for his 76th birthday. The next morning, my sentiments were not exactly the same. He planned to leave for a day at the train club in Tennessee at 5:45 am. Well before he left, he played Lutheran Public Radio using the phone in his pocket. The hymns were performed by a choir of recorders with the intensity of 100 bagpipes.
After 5 hours of silence, I was glad he texted me that he arrived safely.
As we drove toward the church, I realized John and I had sung there 53 years ago with our college choir. How nice to return for the wedding of his first cousin’s daughter! We had seen Katie most recently at the funeral of her grandfather and the wedding of her brother. Now it was her turn for a very happy occasion.
We were surprised that Katie’s only nephew was the ring bearer. We thought he was only a year old. A young woman sat in the front pew armed with a child’s book and a bottle. I figured she was there to catch the baby as he toddled by. No, it was better than that. Little John Junior was too young to walk. His mother was a bridesmaid, and she carried him down the aisle and handed him to her sister in the pew. I got his picture after the ceremony when his dad was holding him.
After Katie and Matt exchanged vows, the minister asked the congregation to stand if they would promise to support and encourage the couple in every way possible. He told the newly weds to turn around and savor the moment. They were to look carefully at all the people who were there to uphold their marriage. I had never seen that done before, and I thought it was a very meaningful part of the ceremony.
The minister said several amusing things about Katie and Matt. He knew them well and was advising them to love each other as Christ loved them. The hilarious words came during the prayer. He said, “When they think they have everything figured out, Lord, send them children.” I don’t think anyone laughed aloud, but a hint of sound rippled through the church.
I don’t cry at funerals, but weddings always get me. Of all Katie’s relatives, I was closest to her grandmother, John’s Aunt Kay. This time tears came in my eyes as I thought how very proud Aunt Kay would have been. Katie was named for her, and she would have admired her granddaughter for her beauty, accomplishments, and most of all, her loving heart.
The reception was in the stable building of a nearby plantation. It was the most humane reception I’ve ever been to. The eardrum-bursting band was inside the building, and the dining tables were in a large tent. We could hear conversation all around our table! We chatted with the bride’s cousins while Barbara and Thom danced.
John, his sister Barbara, and Thom celebrated John’s birthday by going to the Pisgah Inn for lunch. We had an hour’s wait for a window table, so we went on the deck for the view. I’m sure there are other wonderful places that have a good view, but this was the best one we knew.
It was worth the wait. Since we were there late, the crowd soon thinned, and we had a quiet meal.
None of us were hungry after that good meal, so we decided to share one piece of cake with ice cream among the four of us. Didn’t they do a lovely job?
We had a mini-family reunion to look forward to after the grandsons went back to school. John’s sisters and husbands were coming here, and we were going together to a family wedding in Tennessee. Illness and the threat of a hurricane have caused one couple to cancel. John pointed out that if South Carolina evacuates the coast, they might get here and not be able to get home. Though disappointed, we are enjoying being with the New York relatives. Barbara and Thom walked to the creek with us this morning, so I took the obligatory photo. John is not in the picture, because he turned back to help a neighbor in distress. She had an appointment in half an hour and could not find her car keys. To speed things up, John asked neighbor Marla to drive him home to get our car, but by then the keys had been found. That’s what I love about our neighbors. They are willing to request help, as well as give it.
You might wonder what retirees do when they get together. We have rocking chairs on the front porch and seats on the back porch, with mountain views in all directions. We are not rocking our lives away. After breakfast we went in separate rooms to work! Thom needed to listen to lectures for a course he is taking, and Barbara was working on a presentation. John has been writing a series about the hymn-of-the-month for church. I’m the only one playing, but I do learn lots of interesting things while reading blogs. That’s a good excuse in my book, but it’s also one of the many reasons I enjoy being alive.
Our pastor has a wonderful sense of humor that shows itself in the pulpit when things get out of control. Normally he reads the text for the sermon, opens with prayer, and launches into the message. He often grabs the attention of the pewsters, as he did yesterday, with a direct question.
Pastor asked, “How many of you like Brussels sprouts? Raise your hand. That many? Well, let’s just say if you invite me over to your house, you don’t need to serve Brussels sprouts. I can get along just fine without them.”
There were titters throughout the congregation. Continuing in a luring tone, he asked, “How many of you would like a fresh, warm, glazed doughnut?”
We knew he was warming to his theme, because his love of doughnuts is self-proclaimed. His eyes were bugging out as he exclaimed, “More of you like Brussels sprouts than doughnuts!!!! I can see this sermon is not going the way I wanted it to.”
There was loud laughter, and he had everyone’s rapt attention.
[For those who might want to know, he preached about the faith of the four men who brought the paralytic man to Jesus. Our faith, in a supporting role, can help miracles occur.]