Posing Balloons

Not everyone knows how much I love helium balloons. Neighbors Shawn and Bob brought a patriotic one to our July 4th gathering. I wish I had immediately taken it onto the porch for everyone to enjoy. To prove my addiction later, I tried to show my collection in various states of deflation. Obviously the new one was tugging at its shortened tether and wanted to be taller than the rest. Posing balloons is almost as difficult as posing dogs or children. This impatient photographer does not have a gift for that. I returned the new one to the kitchen where it could be the star of the show.

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Neighbors brought wonderful food to the party. The others might not have minded, but I would have been annoyed with myself if I’d tried to pose the food while everyone was hungry. There is a time and place for food porn, but not while 13 people are waiting to eat. That’s why you are not going to see the pretty dips, cut up fruit, labor-intensive deviled eggs, and patriotic cake with strawberries and blueberries that they brought. Needless to say, there was little left a day later.

The Relaxed Chef

Would you trust this young man to cook all the meat for your neighborhood party?

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Grandson Nathaniel didn’t change his pose when I stalked him with the camera. I labeled this shot the Relaxed Chef. Nothing was burned, and nothing was underdone. If he had been nervous, it would not have been due to grilling burgers and brats. He knew he was going to be put on the line at work in an hour. His first week at the steakhouse was spent peeling potatoes and prepping food. He was a line cook yesterday, along with two others. The restaurant was not busy, and they worked as a team, making this a good starting experience for him.

Various and Sundry Items on Sunday

How I wish members of our former church could have heard the music we had in our new church for the Fourth of July! They played every patriotic song that has Christian lyrics, boosted by trombones and trumpets. The woman playing the organ got sounds out of it that we didn’t hear at the formal dedication. An open secret is that I always tried to take my vacation over the Fourth, so I wouldn’t have to stumble through my poor version of those same songs. Retirement is glorious!!!! Many people were staying after church for the picnic, and a few were wearing patriotic clothes. I’m sure people would have exclaimed over my men if we’d stayed. We had to hurry, though, because both grandsons were working. I was vocally disappointed that I hadn’t had a chance to take their picture. As we dropped David off, John suggested that we all get out of the car and get a quick shot. That was most kind of him, since he loathes posing for photographs. I gave him 1,000 points for that.

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Despite working in a restaurant kitchen, Nathaniel was still willing to cook things for us. He picked out a recipe for stuffed peppers and prepared it on a morning he would be going to work. I think he took a better photograph of it than I did, but I forgot to ask for it. I split my concentration between the food and the beloved grandson, so you’ll have to imagine how good it looked. He took steps that I would have omitted. He had a top on the peppers, with melted cheese showing through the hole where the stem had been. It tasted as good as it looked.

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Several days ago I got a shot of David licking a whisk. He is as much of a fan of Nathaniel’s cooking as we are. I suspect Nate is holding the mixing bowl to show how clean David got it.

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David got a tip at work! Normally, workers at fast food restaurants don’t get tips at all. David said a man plunked down two fistfuls of small change on the ledge of the drive-through. David counted it out and was gathering the change to hand back when the man said to keep it. He brought home two nickels and 30 pennies.

We get more than our fair share of pretty clouds and try to appreciate them as sight gifts. This skyscape was in the middle of the valley as we walked toward the creek.

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Nathaniel’s First Day

Although it was a slow day for the restaurant, the kitchen staff kept grandson Nathaniel busy on his first day of work. I was surprised at the things he did, because I assumed they would have him washing dishes. He helped peel potatoes, made croutons, chopped a crate of tomatoes, and made two batches of meatloaf using ten pounds of meat each time. There had been comments that the meatloaf was too moist and fell apart, so the chef changed the recipe slightly and varied the cooking times. I’m glad we had a hearty lunch, since Nate was on his feet, working without a break, for six and a half hours.

Generation Gap

You don’t hear about the generation gap any more, at least not constantly, as in the 60’s. My generation supposedly had wildly different life values from those of our parents, but that’s not what I was thinking about. I became aware of my feelings regarding work for my children and grandchildren. Our son John $ was here today and had lunch with us. Also at the table was grandson Nathaniel (17), who was going to start his first job in an hour. He has been paid for doing various bits of work, but this was the first time he was interviewed and hired for a summer job. I was nervous for him from the time he talked of coming here through his first two interviews. If I were honest, I wouldn’t use euphemisms, but say flat out that I was worried. At this moment I am very aware that he has gone out to make his way in the world. Is he ready? Yes, he is. Does he have a good work ethic? He does. Does he have good manners and social grace? Absolutely.

When John drove Nathaniel to the restaurant, I chatted with $. What was his first job? Was he nervous? I enjoyed hearing his recollections. That’s when it hit me that I don’t remember agonizing about my own children’s launch into the working world. All three got jobs without my help or worry. They cleaned houses, worked as a maid in a motel, washed dishes in restaurants, made bagels, worked as a camp counselor, drove a bus, worked behind the deli counter, and had jobs in a warehouse and a place where flagpoles were made. They worked at an earlier age than I did, too. I could have been a professional worrier, for heaven’s sake! Why did I fall down on the job? I flubbed my chance to make them apprehensive and nervous.

I had an excuse for not worrying grandson David into a job. He was living in New Jersey when he started work as a cashier in a supermarket. I will admit to being apprehensive when he came here last summer and needed a job to help pay college expenses. The pressure was high, and I did my fair share of worrying that he wouldn’t find a job without some kind of pull. Despite me, he got a job quickly and returns to it when off from college.

I was going to make a public apology here to my children for not worrying about them when they began working. Before I could begin, I canceled it. In this past year I have listened to their comments about the lack of work in their field, concern about a lateral move, and an application for a second job. I may have failed you in the worry department for your first job, but I’ve been on duty ever since.

Note to self: You know God is in control. Trust Him!

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Celebrating Seven

We were very aware that it was neighbor Logan’s seventh birthday. John and David were in New York, so we said ahead of time that we’d like to celebrate with him at a later date. Grandson Nathaniel and I called birthday greetings to him as we drove out to run errands. Logan and his foster brother Dennis were skate boarding on the street. I thought he looked a little pensive, but that’s probably because I knew his mother had a terrible sinus infection and would not be having a family party for him that day.

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Nathaniel and I put our heads together that afternoon, wondering what we could do for Logan. We decided a seven-year-old should have party games to jazz up his birthday. Our list of choices included hide Uncle Sam, batting a balloon about, flying gliders in the yard, working a small jigsaw puzzle, and playing checkers. Logan came in the door, showing all the things he could do with his new spinner.

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He chose the hiding game first. Some years ago we had a tiny porcelain figure of Uncle Sam that had come in a box of Red Rose tea. We used it instead of a thimble, taking turns hiding it in plain view for the others to find. Poor Uncle Sam broke his legs off when we dropped him, and Kate’s Michael glued him back together. He resurfaced a few days ago, fell on the floor, broke his legs, and was re-glued by Nathaniel. The next time he falls, we might rename him Humpty Dumpty. Nathaniel was hiding Uncle S when I took a photo of Dennis and Logan playing with their spinners.

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Logan’s second choice was to play checkers. Dennis played against him the first time, and I took a shot of Nathaniel as the second opponent. Dennis devised a marble maze in the background.

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A few days ago Nathaniel baked a cake for his brother David, and I asked if there would be a spoonful of icing he could save for Logan. I KNEW Logan would love it, because when we kept him for a few days some months ago, he said he would love a chocolate cupcake for a snack after school. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing for him, and all he did was lick the icing off. Yes, he’s a boy after my own heart. Nathaniel, bless his heart, saved about three tablespoons of icing. He slipped into the kitchen and got it ready. It’s a mystery to me how a boy with a bowl and a spoon can spread icing all over himself, but Logan is a master at it. He also downed a glass of milk, which probably turned brown as it passed through his chocolated mouth.

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Playing with Nerf guns was not on our list, but that’s what Logan wanted to do. Nathaniel shooed me into the safety of my bedroom to write while the war raged outside the door. He came back to get me as the boys were leaving. Both young and old boys had a lovely thank you for me, which I would like to redirect to Nathaniel, the one who really earned it.

Summer Days

Dennis came back to visit his foster parents across the street, and he and grandson David built a marble maze together. I loved the clacking sound as the marbles rolled down the chutes. Children’s toys might be more fun for young adults than youngsters.

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Daughter Kate and the young men fed the last of the carrots to the horses that live behind us. The best entertainment is sometimes free.

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062317 Terrapin on Woodmore that N moved


After Kate went back to New Jersey, Nathaniel and I found a terrapin on the road as we walked. The little guy must have been frightened silly when the giant picked him off the road and put him in the grass. For days after, we looked along that stretch, hoping there would not be a splat on the road.

The day his mother left, Nathaniel spent the morning working on the waterfall that he and John built last year. It had begun to lose water rather drastically, and Nate found where water was escaping. I asked for a victory pose.

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I offered Nathaniel a Moon Pie, knowing he needed the Southern experience of eating one. He already knew I was disappointed that the chocolate had no taste. The chef  devised an enhancement. He split it, added a marshmallow, drizzled chocolate sauce on it, and sprinkled it with espresso chocolate chips. The snack was so messy that we almost needed a shower after eating it. There was finally enough chocolate taste for me.

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