Rain on the Mountain

We planned a mountain day when the weather was supposed to be clear in the morning and rainy in the afternoon. Our first stop was our favorite waterfall, Sunburst Falls. It began to sprinkle as soon as we stepped out of the car, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the falls. Grandsons David and Nathaniel walked ahead of us and sat on the ledge to see the water pooling below the falls. (Photos on the left.) The shot on the right shows how deep the chasm is at that point. I was fine with their sitting there, but I’ve seen both son John $ and David stand up where their feet were resting. That makes my heart flutter! I was glad they turned around before standing up.

The young men headed down the road and onto a steep path to the rocks below. I think I zoomed in a bit to see them, but it really was quite a distance.

The next shot shows them standing on a big rock.

Nathaniel was taking a photo of us on the bridge as David waved.

Photo by Nathaniel with Lise, Kate, and Anne on the bridge

It was raining steadily as we watched the boys. I was standing in the rain, but Kate wore a raincoat and Lise sheltered under trees across the bridge. We damp people drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, hoping to see vistas with clouds. Instead, we were in dense fog. Bummer! We turned around and went back down the mountain, shopping at Walmart before going home.

That evening we ate the birthday cake Nathaniel made for David’s birthday month. It was a dark chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a strawberry filling. It was fantastic!!! In addition, Nathaniel left the trimmings from the cake and the extra frosting on the counter for us to nibble on. What a treat!

David could have eaten the whole cake himself without gaining an ounce!

Raining on our Walk

On the way to the creek, we stopped at the firehouse to vote in a run-off primary election. Lise realized she was eligible to vote, since she uses our address as her legal address in this country.

The little stickers say, “I voted.”

At the creek, we were teasing about the boys’ long hair, not cut since the COVID-19 shutdown. Haircuts were on the list of things to do that day.

I spotted a three-petaled flower by the stream and guessed it was a trillium. Nathaniel climbed down to take a photo of it.

Walking back home, we saw rain clouds coming over the mountain. That was not in the forecast!

The rain was definitely coming our way.

We dithered about staying at the gas station or risking being drenched.

Nathaniel and David walked around a big rig to get a good photo of the storm, and Nate took the short way back. We wondered if people in the cafe were laughing at us. I’m sure the regulars all know us by sight.

Sheltering under the canopy was our choice, but Lise decided she needed the steps. David agreed to walk home with her.

Kate had not walked with us because she wanted to take a shower. Nathaniel called his mother, and she drove down immediately to pick us up. When we caught up to Lise and David, David squeezed in the car with us. Lise walked on alone and was slightly damp when she got home.

“Mom! Could you come get us, please?”

Swimming with a Waterfall

When daughter Kate comes to visit, we schedule a swimming adventure for her and grandson David. This year we went across the border to a large stream in Tennessee that son John $ had shared with us. I couldn’t get near the water because of a steep bank with exposed roots, but they picked their way down to the water and waded in.

One of Lise’s favorite photos shows her swimming toward the falls with Kate. I was sitting on the bank in a camp chair, loaned by a lovely local woman who was there with her son and family. I watched the action in the water, zooming in with the camera to see what they were doing.

Mehrmaids

Kate found a rock perch, and Lise must have been standing up when David climbed up near the falling water. I wished there were locals there to show him where to slide down. It would have been dangerous for him to try it own his own.

When the swimmers came back, a dog was there retrieving sticks. Perhaps he sensed that David loves dogs, so he went to David with a stick. Each time David threw it, the dog came back to him. This kept my three entertained until they were fairly dry.

John and Nathaniel opted to sit in the car and chat while the rest of us were in or near the stream. Before rejoining them, I took a photo of two stacks of rocks in the stream. I don’t know why I like these things so much, but I’m always drawn to them.

We drove back to Hot Springs to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, the Iron Horse. We waited expectantly for our meal and enjoyed every bite.

Having been chilled in mountain water, our swimmers were uncomfortably cool. Lise laughed at herself for using her napkin to cover her legs.

John drove us safely home on twisty mountain roads. We enjoyed the gorgeous scenery when we weren’t nodding off. Nathaniel made a chocolate cake to celebrate David’s birthday that was at the beginning of June. We’ll use any excuse to get our favorite chef to cook for us.

Father’s Day

Five of us gathered around the monitor to attend a streaming church service on Father’s Day After that, grandson Nathaniel got the fire going. Soon son John $ and Rose joined us, and our circle was complete. The day was perfect for eating on the porch. Rose took a picture of all of us at the table. We talked nonstop, teasing and retelling funny family stories. The day was full of merriment and mirth.

John $, Nathaniel, John, Anne, David, Lise, and Kate

For the foodies: Nathaniel grilled marinated chicken breasts, asparagus, Bavarian brats, and Pepperjack hot dogs. He also prepared a salad of fresh beets, salad greens, Feta cheese, dried cranberries, and roasted pecans. Rose brought macaroni and cheese, which was a favorite with everyone. For dessert we had a store-made angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped topping. We also had cheesecake from Walmart, the kind with 12 different slices put together to make a whole. It didn’t stay whole for long.

We gathered under the oak tree for group photos. I liked this informal one where we were talking to Sadie. Sadie obeys the command to “sit”, but she hasn’t learned “pose” yet.

Nathaniel, Lise, David, John Kate, John $, and Rose

Rose took the best shot of our three children, who haven’t been together for 15 to 16 years, according to Lise’s reckoning. She saw $ in North Carolina and Kate in New York, but $ and Kate were not in the same state at the same time. They enjoyed being together again.

I hope all of you who celebrated Father’s Day had a fantastic time together.

Rituals of a Family Visit

Grandson Nathaniel always moves the mirror higher on the wall at the beginning of his stay with us. All others crowd into the photo. Spirits were running high.

Kate, Lise, David, Nathaniel

On the way from New Jersey, daughter Kate and Nathaniel stopped at our favorite Virginia barbecue place and bought meat and sides for dinner. What a treat for all of us!

David, John, Lise, Nathaniel, and Kate

The two who had been in a car all day went for a walk, each joined by a sibling. I could hear them laughing as they came down the street. What a lovely sound!

Lise, David, Nathaniel, and Kate

Silliness erupted for a post-dinner snack. Nathaniel modeled a folded trivet.

Lise took the same trivet and balanced the crown on her head.

David is not impressed with the crowned one.

Part of daughter Lise’s success in losing weight was exercising, something she continues to do. She challenged her nephews to do a lively squat exercise. There was as much laughing as squatting. I went to bed when they decided to do planks. How much mirth can a body endure???

Vacations!

This year we participated in four vacations – those of daughters Lise and Kate and grandsons David and Nathaniel. We stayed at home, and all the fun and excitement came to us.

The first evening David spotted a box that had come for Lise. Knowing he was famous for squeezing into tight spaces, I wasn’t surprised that he headed for it. He was inside it in no time.

The next morning Lise and I headed for the creek. It’s traditional for a photo to be taken at the creek on the first walk of a visit. Both creek and daughter posed for me.

It was as good a time as any for a selfie.

As I write this, we are waiting for Kate and Nathaniel to get here from her home in New Jersey. It’s a grueling 12-hour drive. She is much, much braver than I am.

Flag Day

The significant event of the day was going to church. It wasn’t normal, but it was certainly better than we’ve had for months since the virus lock down. The choir sang at the 10 am service outside. I took a photo of the fellows setting up. Not being able to see the screen, I cut John off on the right side. There were wires galore connecting the piano, loud speakers, and microphones. I was amazed they pulled it all together, but maybe they are used to it.

Choir director on his knees. David in the middle. John’s blue coffee mug shows he is within reach.

We had rain at home before we drove the 30 miles to church. We were concerned about the weather, but it was wind that played havoc with the choir music. I caught one page from the choir director’s stand, and others ran after the rest. The pages were copies of hymns, not expensive sheet music. I wasn’t the only one who saw dark clouds approaching toward the end of the service. Pastor had his eye on them and shortened the last hymn to two verses. Everyone pitched in to carry chairs inside after the electronics were wheeled away.

After church, a special cake was served in the entrance so that no one had to go inside. We were celebrating the birthday of a church member who will be 100 years old in three days. Bill attends church every Sunday, and there are always people hugging him or shaking his hand as they pass by his pew. He is amazing!

This was also our wedding anniversary. We decided to try a Caribbean restaurant to have something different, but we couldn’t tell if they were still doing take-out only. David got out to read the signs on the door. Just then a worker came out and told him no one was allowed inside. We went straight to our second choice of the day, Chrimson Crustacean, otherwise known as Red Lobster. I asked David to do the selfie on site, because I thought the men might take off their ties after dinner. The sparkly flag on my top didn’t show at all. Oh, well, I tried.

On the way home, John bought us a tiny chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The one we bought for David’s birthday was labeled chocolate, but the cake inside was yellow. This time the label was correct, and we all enjoyed our chocolate fix with a minor amount of guilt.

Celebrating an Anniversary

We began the celebration of our 56th wedding anniversary on grandson David’s day off. The list of restaurants we brought up included local ones and some in Asheville. David came up with the winner, one that had slipped our minds. He remembered that when his brother was here, we went to Square Root in Brevard on a day he was working. We promised him we’d go again so that he could experience it. We found that it had reopened with 50% capacity seating and took a chance. The drive on a small road over the mountain took a long time, so the lunch rush was over when we arrived. What a treat we had!

For the foodies: we had an eggplant and portobello sandwich, a hot ham and fig sandwich, and planked salmon with succotash and rice.

Salmon with succotash and rice

The ending was spectacular. We split a slice of key lime pie and a piece of cake they called a chocolate tower. I was hurrying to take a quick photo, and David turned the plates to show the desserts to advantage. The pie had a most intense lime flavor, enough to make us roll our eyes with delight. Words wouldn’t do the chocolate justice. Never mind justice, we should have asked for mercy after savoring the cake. It was sinfully good!!

Just desserts

Taking a different route home, John urged David and me to get out by a mountain stream. With David’s help, I got down the rather steep bank. If the video works for you, you’ll hear the roar of the stream and see the water rushing under roots of a tree. The roots had grown over big rocks for a solid base, but there was no earth around half the roots.

Unearthly roots

In case you can’t see it, below is a still photo of David as he tried to get a video looking upstream.

David with skeletal roots

Nearer home, we went to the water’s edge at a local swimming hole. Children were jumping off a big rock into deep water, while adults lounged in camp chairs. David and his mother Kate swam downstream from there last year. This might be a good place for them to swim when she comes this year.

Friday People

For several years, grandson David worked at a fast food burger place when he wasn’t in college. He was never an opener, but he worked all different hours from 10 in the morning until midnight. It took me a long time to realize there was one day of the week when he was more likely to drag himself into the house and collapse on the nearest chair. I often asked how his day was, and he might share a short account of something that happened. Almost always an unpleasant experience happened on Friday. There was something about the day that made a few customers rude, overbearing, contentious, impatient, critical, verbally abusive, nasty and insufferable. If you can think of other adjectives, add them to the list. In addition, some asked for extra packets of a special sauce and refused to pay for them. David and I began to call these characters Friday People.

I’m sure none of you who read this act that way. Since you are one of the good ones, I’m going to ask that the next time you order fast food on Friday, you be especially pleasant to those who serve you. They may have already been maligned and mistreated unfairly. Whatever you can give – a smile, a friendly word, a thank you – please boost the morale of those behind the counter..

To be fair, I should mention the prize customers. When the dining room is open, there are people who come in for a meal regularly, often more than once a week. David comes home and says, “My regulars were in today.” Of course, they don’t belong to David; they are shared among the staff. These people have a nice word for everyone and often know names of workers. I think I’m right that occasionally staff members sit and chat with them if they are on a break. Some customers come in every weekday and order the same meal. As David says, you know what they’re going to say before they say it. These regulars are a pleasure to serve.

As David left for work on a Thursday, I said, “At least you won’t have Friday People today.”

With uncharacteristic pessimism, he replied, “Unless they come in a day early.”

This is my favorite Burger King photo of all time taken on August 24, 2011. David (16) and his brother Nathaniel (11) were having a lot of fun at lunch, bursting into laughter just after I took this shot. We were traveling upstate New York to see waterfalls, a favorite pastime even then. This was a Wednesday, so I’m sure we didn’t behave like Friday People.

David’s Birthday – Morning, Noon, and Night

I think all grandparents want special things to happen on their grandchildren’s birthdays. We’re blessed to have grandson David living with us, giving us an easy target.. The camera was waiting in the pocket. I was a little late getting breakfast on the table, so David took a shower and put on his uniform before we ate. John put a candle on the lemon biscuit spirals to add the birthday touch.

This was breakfast on the run.

After David left for work, I made Brownies with dark cocoa and dark chocolate chips. John drove us to town, and we took our place in the Burger King takeout line. John told the order-taker that we were making a delivery to David. Coworkers are generally aware of a birthday in their midst, and she told us to pull up to the second window. If David was surprised, we couldn’t tell through the sneeze guard and required mask. Besides, he had his head in the clouds. Can you see the real clouds in the photo?

Birthday delivery to Burger King

Many hours later we had dinner on the porch, and it was dark for the obligatory cake and candle picture.

I had noticed before that I cook for people I love, but it hit me in the face on David’s birthday. Morning, noon, and night I pushed food on him, not that it changes his shape at all. When he is hungry, I swear he can pull the front of his stomach in to touch his backbone.

Others paid attention to him with text messages, phone calls, and greetings on social media. One gift that came in the mail was very special. At work they brought in chocolate cupcakes to celebrate, and he loved that. After everyone had a chance to take one, he brought the rest home.

This was not a birthday with high drama or fireworks, but it was excellent in an ordinary sort of way. Happy 25th birthday, David!