Funny Funnel Cake

Grandson Nathaniel baked us a Twelfth Night cake. He saw a recipe for it at home, asked John if we wanted it, and sent him the list of ingredients. The first I heard of it was while we were shopping for last-minute Christmas things at Walmart. John was looking for candied lemon, orange, and citron. He phoned Nathaniel in NY to see if a general fruitcake mix would do. Now here for the Christmas break, he picked out the bits he wanted and baked the cake. We found out the tradition of making a special cake for the 12th day of Christmas goes back to medieval times, though the oldest written recipe was printed in the early 1800s. We tasted it while it was still warm. Yummy!

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Our chef always cleans up after himself in the kitchen!!! The next morning I saw the inside-out silicone bundt pan he had left out to dry. A giggle escaped me. Picking it up, I said to him and John, “I’ve never eaten a funnel cake. This looks like the funnel you’d need to make one.”

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David was up when we came back from our walk, because he accidentally went to bed much earlier than he intended. The temperature outside was 17F. To us the house wasn’t cold, but his toes told him otherwise. As he waited for me to cook bacon, livermush, and scrambled eggs, he said how grateful he was for an instant fire.

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Family at Christmas

Brother Bob and wife Beth came to spend a little more than 24 hours with us. They stay very busy with church activities, family events, and Bob’s involvement with three bands. We were pleased they made time to come. Grandson Nathaniel took a picture of them with us. He worked quite a while to get this photograph. The day before, he was playing with my camera and read that it could be controlled with a smartphone. He connected his phone to it. It worked then but would not connect when we stood there. He set it aside and took the picture himself.

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John and Nathaniel posed with the creek for me. This was the first time this visit that he walked with us, because he was getting over a cold.

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After the weather turned quite cold, no one was interested in being outside for any length of time. We chatted all our waking hours, which I found quite satisfying. Nathaniel worked with the phone/camera setup, using my phone this time. Eureka! It worked. All of us posed for the camera, which was on a tripod. Nathaniel could see us on the phone as he stood there with us. He made sure we were in focus, and I asked if any of our glasses were reflecting light. With a press on the phone screen, the camera snapped the picture. No more setting a timer and running to get in the shot! Nathaniel held up the phone so that we could see what the camera had captured. We agreed that the forth shot was the best of everyone.

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Did you have painful posings for your family group?  There is usually one who grumbles through the whole process.  Our group was recorded before our grumbler had time to complain.  Progress!

The Demarcation of Christmas


How do you know when the fourth Sunday of Advent becomes Christmas Eve when they are on the same day? I hadn’t a clue, so I left it to the liturgist, John. Maybe I slept through it, taking a nap before the midnight service. All I know is that we had four colored candles in the Advent wreath in the morning, and when I came to the supper table, they had all turned white. Grandson Nathaniel slept through it, too. In fact, he missed Christmas Eve entirely! Thankfully, we have no photos of this. Nathaniel battled a head cold for a week before flying here. He took one dose of Nyquil after our noon dinner, and he didn’t surface again until Christmas morning. John and grandson David both asked him if he would get up to go to the 11 pm service. They saw flickering eyelids and heard groans shaped like “No”. He had no recollection of it the next day.

Because some of us didn’t get to bed until 2 am, we straggled into breakfast at 8. There was no time to look at our stockings or exchange gifts. After going to church (a 45-minute drive away) and getting the dinner in the oven, we gathered around the fireplace to see what Santa had left us. When the children were little, we’d be in our pajamas when we took down our stockings. The excitement just wasn’t the same when the person handing out gifts was dressed in a three-piece suit.


The two younger generations posed with the trinkets Santa gave them.


After our traditional dinner of Chicken and Stuffing casserole, the fellows agreed to pose in front of the Christmas tree. This shot made me smile, because that old mischief-maker John $ was tickling those next to him. They were just about to crumple and explode with laughter.


Nathaniel crowned me with cardboard that looked like a stylized halo in an ancient painting. He borrowed my camera to record this angelic moment. I don’t know if I can live up to it, or if I’ll have to live it down.


Toward the end of the day, our neighbors across the street came to share our Christmas pudding. You need an appreciative audience to sing and cheer the flaming. They performed their part well. In the photo you can see David’s tie, Shawn, Moo, Brittainy, and a little of Logan’s face. Off camera were Bob and Moo and Brittainy’s toddler. It is always enjoyable to spend time with them.

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Christmas was very special, as it always has been. We shared the celebration of God’s coming among us with church friends, family, and neighbors. We pray that all of you had a blessed holiday.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Despite his long day of travel the previous day, grandson Nathaniel was122417 Nathaniel cut the stollen up at 6, appearing totally refreshed. In fact, he was looking for things to do while I slept. John directed him to the room in which he is most at home, the kitchen. He cut the Stollen, and when everyone was up, he lit the candles.

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As we left for church, Nathaniel popped his hat on Grandpa’s head. John said he was the chauffeur, but I thought he looked more like the coachman.

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The boys were in fine form, teasing each other and having a good time. They chose to sit together in the very back of the mini-van, and my gallant coachman opened the door to the second row for me. Nathaniel collapsed the seat in front of him and put his legs on it, with his feet against the back of the passenger seat. David, known for compressing himself into small spaces, sat behind me. (On the college choir tour, David fit in the overhead compartment of the coach on a dare.)

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Nathaniel made good use of his fancy hat in church to hold his bulletin.  David, next to me, compressed himself into the pew as I took the shot around him.

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I’m not sure at what point the fourth Sunday of Advent becomes Christmas Eve, but I presume we will behave properly.

The Rite of the Mirror

Weather was bad across the eastern part of the US on the 23rd, interfering with travel at all levels. Nathaniel’s first flight from Long Island was delayed, causing him to miss his connection in Philadelphia. By the time he walked in our house, he had been traveling for 14.5 hours. Much as I dread John’s driving up to get the grandsons, I heard myself saying, “John, you could have done it in 15 hours.”

Needless to say, we were a bit like zombies. Nathaniel greeted David, who was waiting eagerly to see his brother. No one said a word about the mirror, but I was on duty. I wanted to catch that moment when the tallest one in the family performed the Rite of the Mirror. Every time he comes, he raises it to his height, which is where it was the first time he came. I had slung the mirror on the hanger the previous owners used for a clock. Eureka! I got it! John was in the background, holding a blanket from the car. Nathaniel’s visit with all of us had officially begun.

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Seeing the photo, he was horrified at his travel-stained appearance, but all he wanted to do was get to bed. That was the sentiment of all of us. We had half an hour until Christmas Eve began at midnight.

A Miser’s Birthday

My birthday began in the nicest possible way after midnight, but before the slow clock chimed 12 times. David was lying on the floor near my feet with his phone, and I was reading the last of the day’s blog posts. He said quietly, “Happy Birthday, Gran.”

Texts and phone calls continued at a more normal hour in the morning, and I appreciated each one. Walking to the creek had one unusual pause. A trucker I nicknamed Fisherman was stopped in the service station. I chatted with him several weeks ago and saw photos on his phone of some of the fish he had caught. He jumped down from his cab when I introduced John to him, and we had a lovely conversation. He remembered John liked trains and mentioned several railroads in the area. He plans to go fishing during the holidays.

I’ve decided being a miser is acceptable, as long as I ENJOY pinching pennies and don’t hurt anyone with it. We had coupons for Burger King (where David works). Eating our breakfast sandwiches beside the stream near the rec center was most enjoyable. Of course, I appropriated one of the FREE sandwiches for myself and let them have the ones that cost money. Don’t remind me that we could all have had a cut-rate meal.

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My birthday cake was free! Our favorite supermarket sent me a Christmas card that included an offer of a free chocolate layer cake if redeemed before the end of the year. John asked the person behind the counter if she could write on it, and she did. No charge!

Son John $ was with us for the celebratory lunch at Sweet Onion and took a photo of us across the table. We had chicken schnitzel, and he had turkey meatloaf. The food was interesting and delicious.


Our friends from Alabama were already at our house before we got home. We had a nice visit, then they had dinner in their camper. David took a selfie of us as we were about to cut my free birthday cake.

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Marty and Ron joined us for cake and added lots of animated conversation to our party. They kept us spellbound with their tales of travel around the world.

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I felt the day was a fitting celebration to mark the 75th time I’d had a birthday.

Logan’s Awful Santa

I’m a sucker for motion-sensing devices. I couldn’t resist buying a Santa for neighbor Logan that promised Christmas cheer. It stayed in my room for several weeks before I tested it. I turned it on to hear a raucous “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” that repeated a couple of times.

I said to myself, “Shawn and Bob are going to kill me if I give this to Logan.”

A self-threat of death didn’t stop me. I went ahead and told Shawn I was going to give it to him, with the advice that they could turn it off. A good neighbor would have had more sense than to follow through. Evidently, I’m not in that category. Logan came over to visit for a little while as we were finishing dinner. With camera rolling, I gave it to him. You can hear it by clicking here.

At the very end, Logan turned to John and said, “I have a straw.”  Later neighbor Marla mentioned that she had given Logan a straw that sings when used. I hope all our neighborhood friendships survive the Christmas season.

Meanwhile, Logan’s brain was whirling as he thought of various ways to use the toy. His final plan was to set it near the fireplace on Christmas Eve, so he will know when Santa reaches for his cookies and milk.

Watch out, Santa!