Home Church and Dinner by the Creek

We assembled our home church to worship Sunday morning, since our services were canceled because of the corona virus. John printed the worship outline from the church web site and stapled the pages for each of us. He had two hymnals, bought when we lived in New York, for us to share. I set up a laptop, and grandsons David and Nathaniel moved chairs into place. A few days before, the pastor, organist, and several choir members taped the service that we watched. After a short break, we watched a Bible study the pastor had prepared for the day. We missed greeting friends, but we were all safer for that.

Having church at home

We bought barbecue sandwiches from one of our favorite places and ate them at Richland Creek near the rec center in Waynesville. There were lots of friendly dog-walkers on the sidewalk. We were surprised that a number of them spoke to us. I’m not sure that would have happened on a normal Sunday, but I think people were missing contact with others. This was far different from Sunday dinner at a restaurant, but it was celebratory in its own way.

Can you tell which grandson is warm-natured?

That afternoon I went out on the deck to look at the burn pile, which seemed a bit ragged. There were large sticks scattered around the edges. David confirmed my supposition. Dog Sadie loves chasing sticks, so either she pulled them from the pile, or she ran with them while playing with a human. I found it amusing that she left a message for me with sticks. I read it as saying she missed being here and looked forward to coming back.

Rose sent us Sadie’s portrait taken at their campsite.

Do you have pets that leave messages for you? I don’t mean the pile by the door that says you didn’t open it in time. Do they tell you they love you and miss you?

COVID-19 Picnic

We are a family of somewhat happy refugees, waiting for developing news of the corona virus. John rescued grandson Nathaniel from Charlotte after his university closed. Our poor student was suffering from an awful head cold, diagnosed by a walk-in health facility. It definitely was not the dreaded virus. He didn’t do the mirror ritual until 12 hours after he arrived.

Nathaniel moves the mirror up to show he is with us.

Son John $pencer and Rose left our house to avoid Nathaniel’s illness. They checked in with us from time to time with calls and texts, which I really appreciated. While they were hiking, Rose texted, “It’s a beautiful day here. I hope you are all enjoying it as much as I am.”

The next day they hiked to the ridge line and got a good signal. Rose wrote, “I hope you all stay well. We are in our element here and enjoying our freedom and break from the news.” She sent me a photo of their campsite.

As that photo was coming in, David, Nathaniel, and I were chatting with Lise in Denmark. She was supposed to go to Sweden to appear in a promotional video for a new type of stomach balloon for weight loss. The border was closed because of the virus, but they were able to do the video in Denmark. She was having stomach cramps because of the procedure. She explained that this would be the worst day, and she would feel much better the next day. As we chatted, she made up a new verse of the Misery song. Years ago she made up a song with the boys because she had a miserable cold. After that, she would add a verse when any of them felt bad. Today’s verse was something about “If I pop, you’ll need a mop”.

Lise said in Denmark people are required to stay 6 feet apart. From her flat, she looks down on the street outside a bakery. They have put tape on the sidewalk, marking intervals of 6 feet for those waiting to go inside one at a time.

The boys and I had a picnic lunch on the front porch. Normally we eat on the screened porch at the back, but it was windy and cold there. The fellows sat in the sun as I hid in the shadows.

Porch picnic

Nathaniel went inside and came back with his vintage leather jacket. He wanted it to warm up in the sun and said, “I feel like Pastor Hofler in this jacket. All I need is a cigar to compete the picture.”

David might have leaned forward to get out of the picture. Note toes high-lighted with white.

The sky was very busy, making me think that people were flying because they couldn’t shop. Every time I looked at the sky, I saw another plane streaking over. As old contrails disappeared, new ones took their place. I showed the boys what I saw – a cloud in the center of a tic-tac-toe grid.

Sky tic-tac-toe

Have any of you had pleasant things happen related to the viral pandemic?

Viral Pan-panic

What a week of change! I last wrote about loving my bed, with no thought of preparing to die in it. We knew the COVID 19 virus was spreading, though there were no cases in our county. Suddenly all the schools closed, churches canceled services, and all restaurant dining rooms were shut. The only things that changed in our house were not going to church and the cutting of grandson David’s hours at a fast food restaurant. Burger King can function with only three employees per shift, since they are now operating totally through the drive-through window. David has always washed his hands thoroughly and has now doubled his awareness of the spread of a virus.

We wanted to get out of the house safely and drove to our favorite waterfall. John took a nap in the car as David and I enjoyed Sunburst Falls. I said we had silent worship there with the falling water. I always think of living water welling up to eternal life and paused to thank God for what He does for us.

The most dangerous part of the day was driving in heavy, heavy fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way home, we stopped by an Italian restaurant and picked up a stromboli full of meat and cheese to bring home. That was a winner.

Grandson Nathaniel was able to keep working until his university closed the dorms. Overnight he had to make plans to remove all his belongings, which had been accumulating for two years. He and John managed to cram everything in the mini-van. It was so warm by the time they got here that we had lunch on the back porch. Nathaniel plans to fly to stay with his dad next week.

We will now begin the next stage of anti-panic living. This is “V” living –virtual hugs and verbal “love you” phrases for victory over the virus.

I pray all who read this will be safe and well.

Easy-learning Music

Do you like classical music, but you don’t know much about it? I’d like to recommend Manuscript Notes. This is one of the best blogs I’ve ever followed. Try it here. Below is what I wrote to him today:

“You may think of yourself as just an amateur enthusiast, but you are so much more than that. First, your knowledge of music and performance is out of sight compared to an average music-lover. You may take that for granted, but your readers do not. Your writing skills are excellent, so you can convey your knowledge and enthusiasm with written words. Then you add a carefully-chosen video or recording for illustration, and that enlarges our understand immeasurably. I am totally in awe of your talent and abilities to promote music for average people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your most excellent blog.

“My husband is a prime example of a person who was influenced by music writers. He grew up in a home where music was important. The children had music lessons, sang in church choirs, and went to concerts. They liked good music, and that’s as far as it went. John’s music education came from record jackets. Any time a new recording came into the home, he read the performance notes carefully. Fast forward to university years. He majored in history, and his roommate was a music major. The music major came back to the room one day and asked John if a particular statement from the music professor was right. John knew the teacher had made a mistake and told him why. Writers like you were the ones who educated John and expanded his horizons. Please be assured that you possess a most valuable skill that few others have.”

I Love my Bed

I have new-to-me mattress and springs on my bed. The old set, which had come from my parents’ house, had seen better days. I now have what had been in our guest room. I enjoyed the sleeping for several months until I thought about the life of my bed. It was getting unfair usage and had no way to protest. John sleeps in a chair, so he was not part of the equation. I flipped the topper once a month so that it would get even wear. That did nothing for the support underneath.

My children laugh with/at me for stretching out and saying, “I love my bed.” It all started when I was recovering from knee surgery ten years ago. After being in the hospital and rehab, it was beyond marvelous to be back in my own bed. That phrase was a four-word prayer of thanksgiving. Daughter Lise and grandson David sometimes come in my room just to hear me say it again. In this tenth year, it’s more likely to be thankfulness for getting through the day in one piece.

Without meaning to, I was mistreating my bed. I still sleep on half the bed, and that half was taking all the responsibility – full weight, you understand – of giving me a good night’s sleep. How could I show my love for the bed? Turning the heavy box springs and mattress around regularly was beyond me. That’s why I now switch sides of the bed once a week. All three layers get a breather at the same time.

Switching is not easy for humans. You might not want to try this at home, folks. I need to open my eyes before turning over, so that I don’t roll off while thinking I’m on the other side of the bed. The phone (more important as an alarm clock than a communication device), has to be on the table next to me. It’s easier to reach from one side than the other. Since the bed is now several inches higher than before, I need a stool just to get in it. That has to be shifted weekly, as it also serves as a marker to remind me which side I should be on. So far I haven’t tripped over it in the daytime.

I love my bed.

Chef Goes Back to School

Grandson Nathaniel’s week with us went by in a flash. We always enjoy being with him, and the pleasure was doubled, since grandson David lives with us.

People envy us having a student chef in the house. Now when he comes to visit, he brings his knives with him. That is a distinctive mark of a chef in my book. I try to listen to hear what Nathaniel might be in the mood to cook, and this time he talked about making a chicken sandwich. He didn’t give it a distinctive name, but it needs one. He grilled chicken fillets outside, whipped up a special bell pepper sauce, cooked crisp bacon, piled everything on a hearty wholegrain bread, and added lettuce. What a meal!

Nathaniel does not wear his heart on his sleeve, but he does wear a thermometer and a pen on his sleeve when he is in uniform. He would have liked that convenience the day I cooked a meatloaf wrapped in pastry. I can only imagine how fancy he would have made it, but mine was humdrum. He consoled me by saying that he loves home cooking because it is comfort food. When I said I would see if the meat was done, he checked it with a thermometer. He actually went to his room to get the thermometer, since he didn’t wear his uniform to cook here.

On David’s day off, we went to two thrift shops and enjoyed looking at things for several hours. Did we buy anything? No! I’m a miser, and David feels his student loans hanging over his head. Nathaniel’s refrain is, “I’m a broke college student.”

We did a bit better at a thrift store in Hendersonville. I bought $2 earrings, and John paid the same amount for a tie. We found a set of four wooden chairs for the kitchen table, feeling we got a bargain. Guests, note that you will be more comfortable to sit and chat after a meal now.

I often write about having fun and laughing, so I tried to catch a bit of the laughter after dinner one night. I kept quiet so the other five could be heard. There is nothing particularly special about our carrying on, but it was us at our silly best. I’m sorry I couldn’t remember how to include a WAV file.

We remembered the mirror ritual before leaving for church. The rest of the day was taken up with eating at a favorite restaurant and driving Nate back to Charlotte. He was a bit concerned about a heavy load of classes and working. I suspect he was eager for Monday morning to come so he could get it over with. There is only one first day of term, after all.

David acts as witness to Nathaniel’s lowering of the mirror as he left


We went to Jonesborough, TN, to go through the International Storytelling Center. We assumed it would be open on a Wednesday, but it wasn’t. Neither was a train museum in town. Evidently cultural things are not available on Wednesdays. I took a photo of John, Nathaniel, and David with the Storytelling Center in the background.

We like walking up and down the main street of a town, poking our noses in shops and soaking up the atmosphere. We hadn’t gone far when we heard a train, visible from Main Street. David and John stood transfixed until it had passed. I’m sure they could recite the type of engines and the number of cars if you asked.

When we walked under the porch of an old hotel, Nathaniel’s head could touch the underside. He became a decorative post for a few moments.

Son John $pencer had suggested Jonesborough as a destination, and he found a restaurant on line that sounded interesting – the Black Olive. I thought the food was super. The fellows all had variations on classic Parmesan dishes – eggplant, veal, and chicken. I chose spicy shrimp and chicken with penne pasta and a spicy white sauce and sun-dried tomatoes. Yummy!

David and I went to a lollipop store, while John and Nathaniel browsed in an antique store. Both were a bit disappointing. The lollipop place had only wrapped hard candies. I didn’t see any chocolate there, though David did. It’s just as well that I wasn’t lured into buying any sweets.. The antique store was too pricey, so Nathaniel was not tempted. We left, having enjoyed the town and the lovely drive through mountains both ways.

When Sadie begged Nathaniel to play with her, they had a tug of war with her blanket. They played until Sadie was panting and jumped on a chair. David and John went to church for the Lenten service, followed by choir rehearsal. It had been a most pleasant day.