Mistake in the Shower

With dismay, I realized I had a dollop of conditioner in my hand instead of shampoo. There was no easy way to get it back in the bottle, and a penny-pincher would not willingly waste it. Even the stingiest miser would not want outside help at that point. Don’t even try to imagine the scene. I know what I did, but not how I did it. I opened the shampoo, put some in the other hand, and proceeded to wash the hair with one hand without losing the conditioner in the other. Using two hands, the rest was easy – rinse, apply, and rinse again. It’s comforting to know that my brain could solve an unexpected problem while preparing for the day.

COVID, Back Then and Soon

On the way to Charlotte, taking grandson Nathaniel back to school, we went to a church we’ve been to twice before. It is one we particularly like. It’s a beautiful gray stone church on a winding mountain road, and a rushing stream borders the property. Inside is even more attractive, because the people are very friendly and worshipful. They use the old standard liturgy and sing the chorales that guide your thoughts in deep channels. Like icing on a cake, the pastor chants the service easily and precisely.

John couldn’t tell from the web site if this church was even having a service on Sunday morning. No one responded to email or a phone call. What a surprise to pull into the parking lot and find it full! An unmasked man walked to the entrance and went in. We followed and found the church as full of people as it had been in past years. There were paper bulletins and hymn books in the pews, something we hadn’t seen for a year. Even more shocking, one man shook our hands to welcome us! We might have thought we were in a time warp, except there were a few older couples wearing masks.

We found out the aunt of the pastor’s wife died the day before, and they would be leaving to go to the funeral and on to Colorado where their grandchild was born a month early. No wonder no one responded to email and web messages!

What we saw at the church was almost pre-COVID behavior, where things looked much like they did a year ago. I wondered if that is what our church in Asheville will be like some months from now.

I know the governor of NC issued more relaxed COVID guidelines the previous Friday, but I hadn’t read them. After church we went to a tavern Nathaniel chose from his phone as we drove along. It was in a small town near Charlotte. Masks were the only thing that screamed COVID. People sat at the bar, and tables were not as far apart as they probably were before. We used plastic menus instead of paper ones. I didn’t feel like I was being followed by an army of workers wielding disinfectants while silently cursing me for breathing. This may be a preview of how restaurants will be in the months to come.

How lovely it will be when the freedoms of the past and those of the present feel similar!

Nathaniel’s Quick Visit

Grandson Nathaniel had Saturday off, and we made the most of it. He finished work the night before at 9 pm, and that’s when John picked him up in Charlotte. They were back at our house by midnight, and everyone went to bed. Over breakfast Saturday, Nate had us laughing.

Rose brought her artist sister to a cabin in the mountains to paint for the weekend. Rose and John $pencer went hiking two days to give her plenty of time to paint. I asked for a quick photo to show that her visit overlapped Nathaniel’s for a few minutes.

Later in the day I asked Nate to pose with his degree earned nine months ago. It says “Associate in Applied Science Cum Laude”. Are we proud? You bet!! He is over half way through his junior year now.

We had tea well past the proper hour. I got out our 40-year-old teapot from England and warmed it. Nathaniel weighed the loose tea and set a timer for the steeping. He is more precise than I would have been, and it was worth it. He chose a cup and saucer that had belonged to my grandmother, and I took one that commemorated our 25th wedding anniversary. Clunky mugs were not suitable for our tea.

Nathaniel skipped the mirror ritual this time. The official photographer had gone to bed when he arrived, and the family scattered quickly the next day. The day he left, I asked him to pose, showing the mirror had not moved. He bent his knees, petted Sadie, and stuck out his tongue.

We went to church on the way to Charlotte, but that’s another story. To show the brothers together, I asked the boys for a fast picture as Nathaniel was heading for his dorm. It was a quick visit, but very satisfying.

Valentine Special

Neighbor Logan (10) is our family sweetheart, and he spent several hours with us on Saturday when there was no school. He wanted us to tell his parents that he did not look at the computer while here, and I forgot to send that message. The only electronic thing he did was practice sending swiped messages to John on the cell phone. He watched me text his mother and wanted to try it. It’s a fast way, though prone to errors. You drag your finger to the letters of a word, and when you lift your finger, the app proceeds to the next word. He and John exchanged short messages, amid much giggling on Logan’s part.

The lad has a high energy level and is never still for long. He doesn’t bounce off the walls, though. He began to play with the old office chair that John uses as a footstool. Bringing it into the kitchen area, he put a spin on it. I didn’t catch his fastest rate.

Logan steered the chair all around the room with full theatrics. I get tickled at all the things he tries. He is careful not to bump into things.

I was also amused at the lunch table. I always give him a choice of cutlery – utensils like we use or a child’s set. I bought the plastic fork, spoon, and pusher when Logan had almost outgrown it. The pusher caught my fancy, and I thought Logan might use it until his nephew Sufi was old enough for it. The thing is, neither Sufi nor his younger brother Pico has eaten with us.

The utensils are construction vehicles. I hadn’t looked at them closely and didn’t realize there were words on the backs of the handles. Logan turned over the fork and and read the words on the back. They said, “CONSTRUCTIVE EATING.” He could read before he went to kindergarten, so it should have been no surprise to me that he read it aloud easily. I giggled, anyway. It’s always fun to be with our favorite child in the neighborhood.

On the spoon handle: CONSTRUCTIVE EATING

This was our Valentine’s Day breakfast – chocolate brioche buns, one for each of us. Next time I’ll roll more chocolate chips inside. Would you agree with me that you can never have too much chocolate?

Like Old Times

It had been weeks since we visited with neighbors Shawn and Bob, so we got together for a long chat. How satisfying it was! Cold weather has always cut down social interaction, but these COVID days, everyone thinks twice about being inside together. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up on news. There was one new person partying with us – Sadie. She was so excited at seeing them that she could hardly keep four paws on the ground.

Sadie adores Logan (10). She forgot all our rules and gleefully jumped on him. Having three dogs at home, Logan can take care of himself, but he shouldn’t have to. Sadie wedged herself in half of Logan’s chair and kissed him. Bless his heart, he was still posing nicely for the camera. I really appreciate that.

I missed getting a photo of Logan bringing me a Valentine balloon. They know I love balloons, and this one was different from all I’ve had before. Bear Hugs! What could be nicer?

David and I Snowboard

Niece Chrissie offered to let grandson David and me go down the slopes on her snowboard with her, and we jumped at the chance. We were at home in North Carolina, but in Massachusetts via cell phone. She and husband Chris chatted with us on the lift, then she wore her phone and talked with us all the way down. It was exciting. She has been clocked going over 30 miles an hour, although not with us on board. I was amazed at how relaxed she was. She mentioned recently that being totally relaxed was the ideal, and she has been working on that.

Here is a clip Chris took of Chrissie. His shadow shows up, too.

David and I went up a second time with them, eager for more thrills. It was most satisfying. They decided to go in and boarded all the way to their building. That turned out to be more exciting than it sounds. Some tourists were wandering on the pathway, and evidently didn’t know that people on skis or boards have the right of way. Chrissie was annoyed because she couldn’t get around them. With perfectly acceptable language, she criticized them when they were out of earshot.

Inside, they showed us the new floor in their condo, which Chris installed after we visited them a year or so ago. It was fun to see their place again. I was tired after all that armchair exercise, but they were going to play active video games with their children who live in Utah.

Lap Dog

I invited grand-dog Sadie onto my lap. With a quick leap, she was there, and neither of us knew what to do next. She did not fit. Knowing this was historic, I asked David to take a photo as he sat on the opposite side of the room. He took a bunch of shots, and this was his vote for the best one of Sadie. I liked it too, because David was reflected in the window behind me.

Sadie knows I do not like to be licked when we are both standing on the floor. Being on my lap was an opportunity she took advantage of. Quick as lightning she had her tongue on my hands, cheeks, and LIPS! Ugh! David caught the action as I tried to avoid that searching tongue. My smile shows I was successful for at least one second.

I will wait until I’m on a sofa before trying that again.

Hoarding TP

It has been almost a year now, folks. Aren’t you tired of hoarding toilet paper? We never bought any ahead of time, trusting we could buy more when we needed it. Recently my bathroom was the one needing more, and there were only a few odd brands on the shelf. I read the labels carefully, wanting to avoid one-ply – the kind you need to tear off six feet for the simplest job. I shunned the obese rolls that get stuck in our holder. John was ready to set up a camp chair when I decided on the least offensive package.

A few days later, the first roll made its debut (de-bue not de-butt). My suspicions were aroused, because I could HEAR it unroll. Granted, there were no splinters in the paper, but it was CRISP! Crisp is not the ideal adjective for toilet paper. I am going to deal with it, hopefully without undue complaint. I beg you, if you have a closet full of TP, wait until you’ve used up half of it before you buy more. Please give the rest of us a chance to get our normal brands. Thank you.

COVID Vaccination

The county texted me that I could get my vaccination the next day between noon and one at the fairgrounds. I had put John’s name on the list first, so we assumed rightly that he would be able to get his, as well. We joined the line of cars slowly moving up the hill at the fairgrounds. Workers talked to us on both sides of the car, giving us forms to fill out and putting a sticky note on the windshield in front of us. Anyone taking a blood thinner was marked with a sheet of paper under the wiper. Two lines formed inside the first barn as workers checked our forms. We moved into one line again to approach the second barn.

We split into two lines again, giving me a chance to take a photo of the other line. John and I got our shots at the same time, along with cards to get the second dose in 28 days.

The exit line snaked down the hill. Workers checked our time, making sure we had been on site for the required 15 minutes after the vaccinations. A traffic cop waved us onto the highway, and we were through! We never got out of the car. I thought the operation was very smooth and efficient. Most of the workers were inside the two spacious barns. If we get snow and rain the next few days, they will be nicely sheltered as they work.

It’s really amazing that the vaccine was developed so quickly. Each state is responsible for organizing its distribution. John said West Virginia and Florida were ahead of everyone else. We got ours sooner than I thought we would, but we will continue to be careful until after the second dose.

I would love to hear about your experience of getting the vaccine or some of the things you have gone through during the pandemic. These have been strange times.

Challenge of a Common Cold

The challenge is this: can you describe a common cold without mentioning sinuses or lungs? I think I can.

For two weeks I haven’t worn rings or earrings. One week ago I quit wearing shoes and a belt. Last week I lost ten pounds, which would have taken ten years at my usual rate of one pound a year. Although my legs are a bit rubbery, I am feeling better.