Birthday Cake for Breakfast

Presented with choices for his birthday celebration, grandson David opted for an egg in the eye for breakfast, followed by birthday cake. John and I agreed it was the thing to do. By the time we sang happy birthday to him, his eyes were fully open. As you might guess, David is most definitely not a morning person.

060118 3 David poses for birthday.JPG

John and I had already walked to the creek and showered before David got up. A few hours after our breakfast dessert, we went to Bogart’s, one of David’s favorite restaurants. He ordered one of their chicken sandwiches. It had fried chicken, barbecue sauce, cheese, lettuce, pickle, and tomato. It was so messy he had to wash his hands after eating. John had a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich, and I had a chicken salad sandwich. On my wish list is a selective reading button. Foodies could choose to read this paragraph, and others wouldn’t have to see it.

We walked up and down Main Street, going in the shops David wanted to see. We like checking the old favorites and seeing the new stores coming in. John and I never do this by ourselves, only when someone is here with us. Waynesville is a tourist/arty town that has gift shops, antique stores, art galleries, a chocolate shop, and breweries on Main, along with restaurants, real estate agents, a dog bakery, cinema, cooking shop, and furniture stores. We made one purchase. John bought a can of old-fashioned scouring powder that he said would be perfect for cleaning the bathroom at the train club. Whoop-de-doo!

As we came back to the car, I told David to pose with it to show how close he parked to the curb. If someone told me to parallel park on a very busy, narrow street, I would have chosen to skip the window gazing. He did it easily. It reminded me of his mother. She failed the parking part of the driver’s test that had traffic cones as markers. She drove us straight to Smithtown, parallel parking perfectly on the main drag where cars were everywhere.

060118 5 David parallel parked against the curb.JPG

As you can see from the picture, the street was dry, and people were wandering around the town. It seems this is the first day without periods of heavy rain for almost a week. I’m not aware of any flooding in the town, despite the videos that have been shown on TV of spots in Western North Carolina. Flooding was very real, just not here. David had his Burger King shirt and hat in the car. He drove straight to work, and I rode home with John.

The end of the day is going to be as weird as the beginning. David and John are going to Tennessee tomorrow for a meeting at the train club. David hates getting up early. His solution? After working the late shift at the restaurant, he will come home and sleep in the mini-van. He said he will sleep buckled up, so there will be no need for John to wake him at 5:30 or 6 when he begins the long drive.

Happy Birthday, David!

Flash Memorial Day Party

I sent a feeler out to see if we should plan a neighborhood party for Memorial Day. As a group, we do not commit to anything until the last minute. In the meantime, John’s train buddies asked if he would meet them in Tennessee to work on a section of track. He was over there for three days. I was not going to push a party with our porch in such a mess. Yellow pollen was still accumulating, and there was no way I could clean it and think about cooking. By Sunday evening, I thought the lunch was not going to happen, that is, until I was going to bed. One household was definitely coming, so the party was on.

I sent the “formal” invitations via text at 7:30 on the day of the gathering..

Yes! Last minute! Let’s party!

We’ll be ready at noon. Eat at 1:00. There is no time to prepare, so if you have any food you’d like to share, bring it. If not, just come. If we had rules, it would be against them to make a special trip to buy things.

If possible, please let us know by noon if you are coming.

I knew there would be six of us, so I threw a menu together in my head. The next morning, after showering, I leaned against my antique bed, and it fell apart on my toe. Hearing the racket, John rushed into the room.

“Are you OK?” he asked.

I groaned.

“Do you want me to get ice for you?”

I moaned, “Can’t talk.”

“Are you able to walk?,” he asked.


“What can I do for you?” he asked.

With clenched teeth, I said, “Can’t talk. Just let me hurt for a while.”

He laughed at that, and I joined him. John called grandson David from the other side of the house, and they put the very heavy slats back in the frame. I hobbled into the kitchen for ice from the broken ice-maker, and found walking made the toe feel better. As I pulled open the freezer door, a plastic bowl of cooked chicken fell on the smashed toe. It hurt already, so what was a little more?

I’m happy to report that 11 of us enjoyed hamburgers, chicken sausages, hot dogs, chicken and rice, homemade dill pickles, watermelon, Jell-o, peach cobbler, and a homemade cake with whipped cream topped with blueberries and strawberries. We would also have had baked beans if I had remembered to take them off the stove. I told people what they missed, but I didn’t offer to pour beans over the patriotic cake.

Before the party started, John picked up neighbor Logan’s feet to make him a human wheelbarrow.

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I said, “The wheelbarrow has gone flat. Get Logan to pump up that tire.”

052818 Logan wheelbarrow.JPG

David and Logan ate with us before they disappeared inside. I didn’t ask all that they did, but I saw them playing checkers and computer games. In the middle of the party I looked for some tiny airplanes we bought months ago. I hid them so well that I couldn’t find them. Logan stayed on after the adults left, and I finally found the little planes. Logan dutifully posed for me.

052818 Logan with mini-airplane.JPG

I got a shot of the two fellows as they played. The airplanes were not very air-worthy.

052818 Logan and David play with airplanes.JPG

The weather was miserable – cold and rainy – but we felt warm neighbors redeemed the day.

Hunting for Waterfalls

From the waterfall book John gave me, I picked out the destination of Yellow Creek Falls, about 100 miles away. The drive through the mountains was very pleasant. The walk to get there was labeled a #5, a moderate hike with some uphill sections, roots, stones, and a ridge to climb. Red flags did not go up, but they should have. Two couples coming back to their cars warned of a tree down over the narrow path and muddy sections. I could never have made it without grandson David ahead and John behind to steady me. I’m glad to say, my replaced knees passed this endurance test with flying colors. David was sure-footed and nimble, leaping over the trail like a goat. While I went through easier sections, he scouted ahead. We went off the path several times to look at the stream, making the climb worthwhile.

The downed tree was quite an obstacle. One of the couples showed us their battle scars, so we knew it would not be easy. David practically did the Limbo under it. I sat on it and swung my legs over, scraping myself just once on a protruding branch. I was so relieved to make it that I didn’t watch John going over.

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David at Yellow Creek Falls

When we came back down the trail, a big family group was approaching. Two of the fellows figured out how to brace the fallen tree with sturdy branches and used the leverage to break it free. That was a service to mankind, or at least to cascade-seekers.

The young people had on swimsuits, making David wish he had brought his suit. He wondered where they would swim. I found the answer on line after we got home. The swimming hole was at the base of the falls.

The hike was supposed to be only a third of a mile (536 meters), but we felt it was quite a bit more. John added two other falls for us to find in that area, so we were late on his schedule. Thank heavens we could drive to both near the Tennessee border! We saw Bald River Falls from a bridge and parked a few feet beyond it. Two sets of people were swimming there. If David had been a dog, he would have wagged his tail and whined.

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Bald River Falls, complete with swimmers on the left and right

A short distance away we found Baby Falls, a site with a paved parking lot, picnic tables, and public outhouses. Define a public outhouse, you ask? It’s a structure with a toilet, no running water, but plenty of toilet paper supplied by the national park. I called it a luxury, considering the remote location where GPS and cell phones don’t work.

052118 (9) Baby Falls near Bald River Falls.JPG
Baby Falls

A group of teens were in the water below the falls. David had already stopped to look when I heard something hit the water. I turned in time to see a young fellow come up from his dive.

052118 (10) Swimmers at Baby Falls.JPG
Zooming in on teens at Baby Falls

All four took turns diving from the boulders above. One even did a back flip! The camera caught the action of one, though I suspect you will see him slide across the screen instead of down.

[Does anyone know if it is possible to rotate a video?]

I was prepared to stay there as long as necessary to extract a promise from David that he wouldn’t dive when he returns with his swimsuit. He immediately said, “I wouldn’t take a chance like that, Gran.”

David also agreed that he would not wade across the top of the falls as two of the teens did. Every year I read in the newspaper about people who fall to their deaths after slipping on rocks above waterfalls.

John remarked that we had been away from the house for over twelve hours in our waterfalls quest. He said he could have driven to New York in that time. He admitted that he felt as if he had been driving the whole time and was weary. I’m glad he has already said that we will spend a night on the road if I go with him to Long Island in June.

Unnatural Nature Shots

After accidentally spilling birdseed on the deck, I saw many more birds coming to eat. One of my favorites is the Eastern Towhee. To me, he is a fancy bird – colorful and with pretty white markings on the black feathers on his back.

051518 Eastern towhee on our deck.JPG

We’ve had song sparrows all along, but with easier access to the seed, more came. I enjoyed watching a mother feed her baby. She would eat about four seeds and turn to pop one into the baby’s mouth. It took a while for me to realize the baby was pecking at seeds himself, while crying for her to feed him. I wanted to tell her to make him do the dishes.

051518 Song sparrow feeding young one.JPG

The horse chestnut trees had more blooms this year than I’ve seen before. One tree presented a blossom for my inspection on a low branch near the creek. The ones I used to see in New York were much, much larger and whiter than this. Perhaps there are different kinds, or maybe the altitude makes a difference.

051418 Bloom on horse chestnut tree by stream.JPG


No one was taken to the hospital, although things looked serious with our little street clogged by two emergency vehicles. A sobering thought — all the adults I know in these six houses are over 60.

051618 Ambulance not needed.JPG

I was hurrying to get breakfast on the table. We were driving to Tennessee to pick up our repaired van, and grandson David was finding out that he had to work later. John had gone outside because of the emergency and came back with Logan. As I walked food to the table, Logan (7) made a squeaky sound with his sneakers, rubber soles on wood. Think basketball practice in a resonant gym. John asked if I had a granola bar for him to take to school for a snack. I did, but I didn’t want Logan to know where I hid them. I asked the boy to go all the way to David’s room and back while making that noise. That gave me time to get out the snack, and I could track him by the sound. An added bonus was rousing David to come to breakfast. I suspect Logan was tired of having to squeak, because he didn’t do it any more.

I asked if he had eaten, and he said he had. As John ate, Logan’s eyes kept going to my plate with a buttered English muffin. I asked, “Would you like that muffin? Eat that one, and I’ll make another for myself.”

Logan finished half the muffin when John was ready to go, and he took the other half in the car. As you might guess, grandmotherly types love to feed people.

We came back from Tennessee mid-afternoon. We found that our neighbor was home, still waiting for results of tests. For those of you so inclined, please pray for patience and healing. Thank you.

A Quiet Mother’s Day

I hope Mother’s Day was pleasant for everyone. I had greetings from daughter Lise in Denmark and talked on the phone with daughter Kate and both grandsons. That leaves the Johns – husband and son – to talk about. I was very thankful they were with me.

Son John $ lifted a heavy object on Friday and felt something shift in his back. The pain came later. Personnel at the walk-in clinic feared a fractured pelvis. The ER doctor ruled out a fracture after looking at the images. He may have a herniated disc or nerve damage. He felt well enough to drive his stick-shift car here for Mother’s Day. Since sitting was painful for him, I chatted with him as he lay on the bed after our meal.

Husband’s problems were more far-ranging. The dealer worked on his car on Thursday. The next time he took it out was Saturday when he headed for the train club in Tennessee. He never made it there. When the power steering failed, he was able to pull in a shopping area. After an expensive tow to the nearest dealer, they found the new belt, just installed, had broken off and done lots of damage. A nearby rental place happened to have a minivan that had just been canceled. That was necessary to bring back the caboose that he is delivering to New York. You can understand why I was very glad to have John home on Sunday.

John was relaying his amusement at the tow-man. As they chatted while driving, Mr. Tennessee asked where John was from. After hearing Brooklyn, he said with surprise, “You don’t have a heavy accent like they do, and you don’t act like you know everything!”

Breaking news is that the caboose was delivered on time on Long Island. The photo shows it sitting in our car before all the exciting events of the weekend.

050718 Bob's caboose.jpg

Out On the Towns

John offered to take me on a day trip of my choosing between his trips to Tennessee and New York. We both decided the first one I mentioned would be saved for a day with our grandsons. That one involved beautiful views of mountains and a hike to a waterfall. We headed for Beech Mountain and Banner Elk. We found out that Beech Mountain is the town at the highest altitude east of the Rockies. The off-season population is 350. It swells considerably during ski season, and probably in the spring and autumn, too. I took one photograph from Beech Mountain that shows mountains in the distance and a restaurant that is for sale.

051118 View from Beech Mountain.JPG

Banner Elk sits below Beech Mountain and has a population of just over 1,000. I didn’t take any pictures in the town, but the live webcam ( sits atop the restaurant where we ate lunch.

John picked a mountain road to begin our trip home. As we drove, I asked, “Is this the area where we saw the mailbox that was high off the ground?”

Within five minutes, I saw it. By the time I’d commented on it, we were beyond it. John offered to turn around, but I said I’d find the picture I took before. Four years ago, I wrote the following about son John $’s tour:

As we drove down a small road, I exclaimed about a mailbox and insisted $ turn around so he and his dad could see it, too. There with other normal boxes was one way up high in the air. Someone must have installed it as a prank. The photo doesn’t show it, but the box was painted in red, white, and blue, with US Mail clearly written on the side.

Here is the original photo:

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I wonder if that mailbox was installed when we still had air mail.