Summer’s Last Rite

The car began to roll out of the driveway when grandson Nathaniel jumped out and said he forgot to do something. He must have answered my question with at least one word, because I immediately knew he was heading for the mirror in the front hall. He strode; I ran. He reached up to take it off the wall while I focused on him. You see, when I was looking for a place to hang it when we moved in, I slung it on a sturdy hook that held a wall clock for the previous owners. We installed a lower hook. Moving the mirror up is the first rite Nathaniel performs when he arrives. As you can see, it is perfect for him to glance at his face. It works for brother David, as well.

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The last rite of a visit is the formal lowering of the mirror. As he straightened it, he said, “That’s right now. I can see my belt buckle.”

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We both rushed back out to the car so that I could wave as they set off for the long drive to New York. I remembered there was one other tale I wanted to tell. It involved a shopping trip to East Tennessee, where we went to the Smoky Mountain Knife Works. They proclaim themselves to be the the world’s largest knife store. The first sign I saw inside the store was repeated throughout. It stated that persons under 18 years of age were not allowed to handle knives or swords.

That sign didn’t make me laugh until we got back to our house. I understood the reason for the warning, but how ludicrous in our case! Nathaniel (17) just spent the summer cutting things in a steak house kitchen! On the days they were making tomato jam, how many tomatoes had he cut up? The answer – 400 tomatoes. He knew exactly how many were in a crate and how many crates he had gone through. Below is a photo of a sandwich he made for our meal. It involved cutting chicken, slicing cheese, cooking bacon, and grilling the chicken. He is more careful with knives than I am.

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I wonder what the knife store people would say if they knew he had played with fire as well.

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Summer-ending Photos

After grandson David went back to college, we had another couple of weeks with his brother, Nathaniel. I took the photo below when we went shopping in Tennessee. I sat in the second row of seats, and Nathaniel was in the third row. He draped his long frame over one seat, with his feet touching the front seat. He listened to music, read something on his phone, and had the new skillet in his lap.

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He seasoned the skillet that evening by applying shortening and baking it in the oven. The last thing he cooked for us was a batch of cathead biscuits, so called because they were as big as a cat’s head. He said they were a Southern tradition, but I had never heard the term. We skirted the issue by calling them delicious.

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Neighbor Logan spent an afternoon with us shortly before school started. He found a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle in the closet.

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Although it was a little frustrating for him, he worked it entirely by himself. He was happy to pose for a victory photo.

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This last Monday of August was the day David started classes, Nathaniel arrived home, and Logan had his first day of school.

A friend took our son’s picture at Rocky Top in Tennessee on a warm afternoon. That makes a fitting summery/summary photo.

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Tats are Out

I’m here to tell you that tats are out, and nose décor will be the newest fad. Tattoos had been rising in popularity, judging by their visibility on the street. Once people see the possibilities of decorating their noses, this fashion will be nothing to sneeze at. Those looking for “green” possibilities will be thrilled. They can use organic elements found in their own gardens. Beat the rush! Get your style sheet today! Send in the Sinus Up Form immediately! Nathaniel is modeling the Wistful Wisteria Pod, a very popular look for August.

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A few days ago grandson N picked all the pods under the pergola. Of course, being as tall as he is, he didn’t need a ladder.

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He began to empty his pockets onto the table. I thought it was a magic trick, as they just kept coming and coming.

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He asked us to guess how many there were.

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I don’t remember who won, but the total was 75. We weighed the largest pod, showing 3 ounces. I didn’t think to weigh the whole crop.

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If anyone wants some, please come help yourself. I’m wondering how we will dispose of them. If we take them to the dump, 75 pods might explode and cover the whole county next spring.

E-clips

We have e-mail, and e-books, so why not e-clips? That’s the way John jokingly spoke of the impressive celestial event. Brother Bob and Beth came over, and we drove about 20 miles to the area of total eclipse. Our day was fantastic.

Bob ordered the special glasses for viewing the sun, and John explored maps to find a good place to wait. No one said anything, but we were all concerned when we got on the highway. The traffic was stop and go, because so many people were streaming toward the area of total eclipse. We began to breathe again when the cars moved. We turned off before getting to Sylva, not wanting to get involved in that town’s big celebration. There were many places we could have waited along that road, but we all voted for the parking lot of a Baptist church. It was bordered by a gurgling mountain stream with railroad tracks nearby. Waiting was easy with fun people around.

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We ate sandwiches we’d made for ourselves at home, and Beth handed round the most appropriate snack – Moon Pies. We became more informal as time passed. Between times when we gazed at the sun, we sat in the van which was in the shade.

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Two were on the ground when the light began to fade. We noticed the quality of the light was unusual, not quite like a cloudy day or normal dusk. Bob was standing in the sunlight and noted that it wasn’t hot. The temperature dropped. As the moon totally covered the sun, John saw one star, and Bob pointed to a planet. We took our protective glasses off for a minute and saw the moon totally covering the sun. News media will cover that, and you’ll know what we saw.

 

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We had a lovely setting for eclipse-watching.

 

We didn’t stay long after the moon moved on, figuring we’d see the end at home. One last peek in the driveway, and we were ready to feast on Nathaniel’s eclipse cake. I realize now it was best viewed from above. The chocolate frosting represented the shadow, and the yellow was the corona. The only shot of the top was Nathaniel’s weighing the cake. It was eight pounds, but we’ll have to subtract the weight of the cake stand once it is empty.

 

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His foot is that long; the sock is not floppy.

 

The celebrants are pictured with the cake before we sat down to demolish a quarter of it.

 

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A bat has not nested in John’s hair.  That’s the furniture behind him.

 

Beth and Bob were caught in a massive traffic jam on the way home. They think it was caused by a collision of several tractor trailers.

Tall Order Cook

With our grandsons here this summer, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. One of the first things we had for breakfast was my favorite – Egg MacMehrling. It’s a takeoff of McDonald’s McMuffin. John and I usually have it at least once a week. It was the first item to be removed from the menu. Being a short-order cook became a tall order because I know too much. I remembered everyone’s preferences, which was paralyzing. They understood why we weren’t going to have it often when I listed the components and choices for the four of us.

 

English muffin – 1 barely warmed, 1 lightly toasted, 2 toasted to a rigid crispness

Butter – 2 with, 2 without

Cheese – 3 cheddar, 1 pepper Jack

Meat – 1 limp bacon, 1 crisp bacon, 1 hot sausage, 1 flexible but not there to choose

Egg – 2 with runny yolks, 2 like hockey pucks

 

Why anyone would cook for a living is beyond me.

Extreme Baking

Grandson Nathaniel (17) always asks if he can use our kitchen, and we fall all over ourselves saying yes. This time he wanted to design an Eclipse Cake for the upcoming total eclipse of the sun. He had only one day off before the event. As prearranged, that morning John woke him at 5:30 so they could go to the supermarket when it opened at 6. He wanted fresh lemons, and I had only tired limes on hand. When they came back, we had a quick breakfast, and he set to work. I’d like to sound a {{GONG}} when I’m proud of him.

Before lunch, the two cakes were cooling in their pans, and Nathaniel was ready to begin the filling. He graciously deferred to our schedule, eating a leisurely meal with nary a fidget in sight. {{GONG}}

I was on the other side of the house a bit later when John shouted, “Anne! Can you help us?”

I flew to the kitchen and stopped short. How on earth could I help? Nathaniel was holding one side of a layer, and John was steadying the other. The top had slipped off the bottom and broken apart. We froze, trying to decide what to do to save the cake. There was despair in Nate’s voice as he declared there was nothing to do but start over. He didn’t shout. He didn’t stomp his feet, which are big enough to set off an earthquake. He didn’t pitch a fit or throw anything. He put the layers on a cookie sheet and started over immediately. {{GONG}} {{GONG}} {{GONG}}

Hours later, the new bottom layer was on the pedestal cake plate, and he applied a firmer filling. I held my breath until the top was secure. He was willing to postpone the frosting until after supper. {{GONG}} We ate the most broken bits for dessert.

At 11 p.m. I rubbed his back and said I had to go to bed. He kept working. {{GONG}}

The next morning after walking with John, I said I dreaded to see the state of the kitchen. John said he thought things looked good when he made coffee before dawn. Nathaniel had cleaned up after himself. {{GONG}} {{GONG}}

After breakfast, the baker used his icing spatula to put his final touch on the frosting. {{GONG}} He finished and stowed the cake in the refrigerator before we got home from the week’s grocery shopping. We three ate another quarter of the broken one after lunch. Nathaniel excused himself to get ready for work. When he came back, I asked if he would pose with the old cake.

He said “Oh, no! Not with that one!” With that, he promptly sat down and smiled for the camera. {{GONG}} {{GONG}} {{GONG}} {{GONG}}

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My apologies, dear grandson. The story demanded documentation.

Logan’s Goodbye to David

We didn’t see a lot of neighbor Logan this summer. He was away with his parents several times, and we were busy with grandsons David and Nathaniel. To mark the end of this visit, Shawn and Bob invited us for a pancake supper featuring maple syrup they bought when they were in Vermont. It was bitter-sweet for me, because I know how much Logan and David enjoy playing games together. There SHOULD have been more time, but David was usually working when Logan was free.

Logan’s manners were wonderful as he sat through the leisurely meal. Finally he asked if he and David could be excused from the table. As they got up, David admitted that Logan had quietly asked him to play checkers many times. I had to take a shot of Logan’s position after they switched to a different game. One foot was on the coffee table, and I think the other was on the floor. Logan’s concentration was such that I doubt he knew I took a flash photo.

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The rest of the adults chatted for a bit at the table.

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John, Bob, Kate, and Shawn

Our daughter Kate was with us for one full day. She drove down from New Jersey to pick up David and take him to college in New York.

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Logan and the youngest of the adults played Uno for several rounds.

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Logan, Shawn, David, and Kate

When it was time to go, David and John swung Logan over their heads. In the photo, the boy is just a blur, high in the air. Nathaniel missed all this fun because he was working. That was the hallmark of our summer – juggling schedules.

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David, blur of Logan, and John

The next morning I spotted David’s final balancing act of the season. The ice cream scoop was hanging precariously over the sink. I was already missing you before you left, David. Can’t wait for you and Kate to come back!

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