Midnight Mice and Daytime Gliders

We were on the way to bed when David told us he had just seen a mouse scurrying about his room. Silly us, we went to look at his room, which was as peaceful and quiet as could be. David made sure there were no edibles lying about, and I checked the internet to see what we could do till morning. One article said to put dryer sheets around. John fetched those, as I moved open packages of food from kitchen cabinets to the dining table. David said it was about 4:30 in the morning when he heard gnawing sounds. The mouse was biting down on the bottom edge of the door. Made us wish the paint had lead in it! We’ll need a quicker death than lead poisoning, though.

On our morning walk, we bought mouse traps at Sorrells. They still sell the classic wooden and wire ones for less than two dollars! I opted for two high-tech plastic ones, and John chose two bait boxes. We’ll see who wins.

I had gone to bed at 1 and got up at 6, so I took a nap after breakfast and after lunch!

Neighbor Logan (9) was with us for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We knew his parents wanted him to stay away from the computer, so John listed the things he did with us. He said, “He played checkers, helped do some outdoor work, flew the glider, watched TV for half an hour, read for 20 minutes, and played a game. A delight to have! Forgot to say he fed the horses, too.”

Logan told me of the BEST flight of the glider. His words were tumbling out of his mouth so quickly that I had a hard time catching them. He moved his hands in descriptive circles, saying, “It flew around FOUR times, and then it made a perfect landing on the grass.” Try saying that in 1.5 seconds!

I was lucky enough to catch one good flight in eight tries and present it here with a silent trumpet fanfare.

Laughter in July

The goldfinch didn’t know how silly she looked, peering over the edge of a yellow flowerpot. I was sitting at my computer and slowly pulled the camera out of my pocket without disturbing her.

Batting a balloon about is often too tame for neighbor Logan (9). This day he made up rules for playing baseball with it. Logan was a blur as he feigned going one way and then another, trying to make it to home base without being tagged.

On a more serious note, Logan forgot to tell us he was not supposed to play computer games until after he had done it. As penance, John asked him to read to him three times longer than he usually does. We think Logan saw the fairness of that.

John saw hot dog rolls on sale at the dollar store. He didn’t realize they were meant for foot-long dogs until he brought them in the house. We laughed and intended to cut them in half, as needed. David stopped me as I approached with a knife, and he put the two brats on one bun. I predicted it would fall apart, but he held it all together until it was finished. David laughs readily at the silly things we say and do. I love that. Laughter is such a gift and is so uplifting.

Have you laughed aloud today? If you’d like a good laugh, go to this link https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/73629786/posts/15739 to get to Baby Blues by Linda Bethea.

Days Off are not Off Days

I didn’t realize I was going to take days off, but it was lovely to drift through the last ten days as our head count in the house came down to three. John was volunteering at church where a group prepared and served breakfast to youths who were here for a mission event. While he was out, I did half our usual walk and came back to work in the garden. With my weeding and John’s clipping bushes, we can see a definite improvement.

Son John $pencer and Rose are driving West. Rose texted, “A beautiful Nebraska sunset for you, a train for John, and a Sadie picture for David.”

Rose knew just what would please us. I loved my sunset.

I sent Sadie’s photo to David, and he was glad to have it on his phone.

The train was obviously a big hit. I showed it to John, and he asked me to thank Rose. She replied, “I expect he knows what train it is by looking at it.”

The next time John came in the room, I read Rose’s reply. His response was, “It’s the Powder River unit coal train. I would like to know whether that was the front or back of the train and whether it was going East or West. If it was heading East, it was loaded with about 14,000 tons of coal for a power generation station east of the Mississippi River. There were probably two other diesels on the other end, controlled by radio. The engines will stay with the train, even on another railroad.”

Can you imagine having that kind of information in your head all the time???? I guess that’s why his hat size is larger than normal. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for him.

An Excellent Music Blog

Once before I reblogged a post from Manuscript Notes, but that was with the old editor. I clicked on the reblog button on this site, and absolutely nothing happened. Next, despite following several leads from the question mark at the bottom right of my screen, I have no clue how to reblog with the new editor. Sorry. Rant is over. Let’s concentrate on the positive.

Following are two paragraphs from the home page of Manuscript Notes:

“I have given myself the challenge of posting from time to time, in an aim to introduce classical music to people who either profess themselves to be tone deaf or simply insist that they will never like it.

“It is positively not a classical-music-for-dummies blog! The hope is to inform, and simply share my love of these pieces, in the same way any of us likes to recommend a good book, play or film.

The subject of today’s blog is Cesar Franck’s violin sonata. The link: https://manuscriptnotes.com/2019/07/22/harmony-cesar-francks-way/

I read through the notes and clicked on the link to one movement of this marvelous piece. What a treat! The world was suspended as the music danced and wove its way through my head. Please try it!

Second Family Gathering

We had our second family gathering of this series. The people were relatives of two of our nieces, Kathie and Julie – their parents, all their aunts and uncles, another sister, and several offspring. We met this time in the their ancestral home. My family married into theirs, so don’t have delusions of grandeur about my roots. The house was built in the late 1700’s, and was acquired by their family in the 1930’s. Several of us took the tour, starting on the ground floor. A number of pieces of furniture were carved by a great great uncle. Most of them have hidden compartments Tour guide Myra told us the one in this dining room photo has seven secret places.

We looked at things in the living room, while grandson Nathaniel checked out the chandelier.

On the second floor of the house, the old phonograph caught Nathaniel’s attention in the guest room. Myra played the record on the turntable and handed the young generation shellac records to inspect. I was impressed when I noticed how carefully and reverently they handled the old 1/4-inch thick disks. Myra said Thomas Edison had been in the area for some reason and came to the house. He was given the tour, seeing many of the things we were looking at.

After Myra pointed out some of the features in the master bedroom, she handed Julie a printed copy of the pirate story they usually include on the tour. Myra went in the next room. When Julie read aloud about the death of one pirate by the hand of another, several of the books in the bookcase began to slide in and out. We laughed, knowing Myra was behind the wall.

On the third floor of the house, I was impressed with two paintings in my late sister-in-law’s bedroom. She wanted to dress up the area of the built-in drawers and painted two panels for it. I never knew she dabbled in painting.

Nathaniel was told not to bring food, but his offer of grilling was accepted. Donning his brand new apron, he cooked burgers and dogs in the carport. As several of us talked to him, he jumped into action, twisting the controls off. He saw a surge of flames that shut off. His hunch was correct; the tank was out of gas. There were three uncooked hamburgers, which he finished cooking in the kitchen.

People in town know the ancestral home as the shoe house. When my late sister-in-law was little, her grandfather and great uncle built a shoe out of concrete. Note the details – laces through the holes, seams of the shoe, and a curved sole. Nathaniel and cousin Kate adorned the top.

The teens stood on the bench at the top of the shoe.

Flashback to 2004 where David is on the shoe. In 1973 nieces Julie and Kathie are with daughter Lise and Julie’s and Kathie’s grandmother Mama Sue

Two, who usually tangle feet under our table, came out in the open during the afternoon. The friendly warfare took place in the sitting room, the most-used room in the new addition.

Rick agreed to do a magic show for us, using John, Julie, and Nathaniel as helpers for various illusions. Most impressive was a rope trick that his niece Susan saw and recommended. Rick learned it this past year and amazed us by cutting a piece of rope into pieces and ending with a whole rope. He did several several variations of this. At one point, the rope had multiple knots in it, which he cut off and tossed to the floor. Even that segment ended with a whole rope.

Flashback to 2004 when magician Rick was doing a card trick. David was wearing a hat and glasses having to do with Harry Potter.


If you’ve read this far, I’ll share with you the serious side of our gathering. A young man of the middle generation, not pictured here, is dying of an aggressive form of cancer. Julie organized us twice to come together to surround him with our love. He knows he has our constant prayers. His Christian witness is amazing, because he knows the Lord has saved him and will be with him as he passes from this life to his heavenly home. God bless you, JTR.

Vacation Finale

We didn’t intend for daughter Kate’s last day to be crammed with activities, but we had to take advantage of David’s day off. One of our favorite places to go is the Vanderbilt estate, Biltmore. Kate had never been there, and the special exhibit of the season featured trains, the garden railway size. [Note: the estate is now requiring visitors to have reservations.] After reading our shirts, a visitor offered to take our photo near the entrance.

We have always been fascinated with the swimming pool, amazed that George Vanderbilt included one in his house that was finished in 1895. The pool had underwater lighting, as well!! One of the docents remarked that they filled the pool for only a few days at a time, since it would begin to get a bit rank with no chemicals added. How cold the water must have been, since it was filled with mountain water! Correction: John said there was a steam hose that warmed the water, and that was why it became unfit for swimming in a matter of days.

Biltmore swimming pool

My favorite shot in the walled garden was of Kate and David. Former neighbor Amy and I saw the garden filled with tulips one year. I was happy to see the space filled with summery plants this time.

Kate and David in the Biltmore walled garden

I saved eight photos taken in the conservatory. All featured David and Kate with the trains amid exotic plants. I liked one with a model of the village church, where a train was running between the church and the backs of David and Kate.

A second favorite shows a train on a high trestle, going from one glass house to another. I didn’t look at how it was done, but David said windows had been taken out to give the trains access at that level.

The entrance to the outdoor garden railway had a cute engine at the entrance. David climbed in it at Kate’s request.

David’s face in the engine

My favorite photo there was of Kate and David with two trains running behind them.

Outdoor trains with Kate and David

Despite some lightning in the distance and rain on the windshield, we drove to Hot Springs for lunch at the Iron Horse. The weather began to clear as we drove on a graveled road to Tennessee, where there was a stream to swim in. Unfortunately, heavy rain had swollen and muddied the stream, making it too dangerous to swim in.

Muddy mountain stream

Across the road was a small waterfall where David waded and Kate climbed on the rocks.

Kate on the rocks

Both climbed up to a pool above the falls and posed for me.

Our scenic drive home across three mountain ridges was lovely. We had been gone for 12 fun-packed hours, leaving enough time in the day for ice cream before going to bed.

The next morning, while the mist was still hanging in our mountains, Kate hugged her dad goodbye. She expected her drive to New Jersey to take 14 hours.

Goodbye to Dad

Peaches on the Porch

Daughter Kate and I went to an antique mall in Asheville with Nathaniel while David was working. Nathaniel knew the place, having spent a couple of hours there when I had an appointment nearby. We enjoyed poking about, and I knew the bench to sit on when my back protested. They made two purchases, a jacket and a London Fog raincoat. I wish I had taken Nate’s picture when he modeled the raincoat at home. On him it looked elegant. He wore the jacket when he served us the peach cobbler he had baked.

Nathaniel serving his peach cobbler

David and Kate responded when we called out that it was time for the mirror ritual. Nathaniel put the mirror back to its normal position before we went to church.

We ate lunch in Asheville, after which John drove Nate to Charlotte. They took our wash with them, and Nate texted his three roommates to ask them to be through with the machine by 4:30. Our washing machine died, and the new one wouldn’t be delivered for a week. John met the roommates for the first time, as well as the mother of one of them. The mother had cooked for the four boys, freezing about ten meals ahead. Normally the fellows shop for food, share the cost, and cook dinner together. John said it appears that Nathaniel does a great deal of the cooking, since he works from 1 to 6 most days. John came home with one load of dry clothes and two others that went in our dryer.

David and Kate planned to hike to the top of Purchase Knob, a mountain we see from our house, but the weather looked threatening. I took a nap as they sat on the front porch and saw two lightning strikes in front of them. Both were less than two miles away. They obviously made the right decision to stay home. I wondered how loud Kate may have screamed. A few days before, I was in the kitchen while others were in the dining room. They saw the flash of lightning and were not surprised at the thunder. I told Kate I didn’t know which startled me most, the boom of thunder or her scream. It’s an instinctive thing she cannot control, this being a warning to those who scream at the sight of a spider not to criticize her. The same goes for those who can’t deal with mice.

We’re back to six in the house, feeling a large empty space where Nathaniel had been for the long weekend.