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Blog“Just Over the Hilltop”

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The title for this week’s journal comes from the re-occurring comment of Garrett when playing checkers with his little sister, or with me, or with his cousin Alysa. He is very sharp at this game and very strategic for a five year old. But often “It’s the rule” would resound as he had to inform us of something we were doing wrong. I tried to keep his men I had jumped, but “it’s the rule” to give them to the owner. All men had stars up when playing the game and eagles up when they became kings which was “it’s the rule” and new to me. It was the beginning of a wonderful weekend with family who had come for an early Thanksgiving.

That is one reason I’m late with the journal. The other is because I actually forgot yesterday was Tuesday. So, here I am late again but that’s okay because it is my personal schedule I am accountable to. And I can change it or forget it when I am too busy.

Last week

Backing up a little to the beginning of last week, the women’s class ended its six-week course with coupons from me to follow-up with each lady. There is usually a let-down after an event and this is my way to extend and spend time with the ladies. Some of them are getting both Dick and me to stay with their children while they go shopping or out on a dinner date. We did put a two-three hour limit so neither we nor the children get exhausted or exasperated. A couple of them I’m taking to lunch and the others I am having over here for a luncheon.  I’m definitely looking forward to spending time with them and checking on any progress or questions. I’m really not a phone person and would much rather talk face to face.

I am not a phone person and would much rather talk face to face

Choir practice and Bible study, a haircut, and the West Potsdam Retired Ladies luncheon also happened before the family began to gather. I was so grateful the luncheon was at Judi’s where I just needed to attend, and the month of November I’ll host. Judi makes the best squash soup topped with bacon pieces and a little sour cream. And I asked for seconds instead of apple pie! It was so delicious.

Family memories

Jami, Karen, Garrett, Heidi, and Elsa arrived Thursday afternoon, which enabled us to have a little time with them before planned and non-planned activities started Friday. Papa and Garrett put the train together that evening while Karen and I talked. On Friday the lift arrived to our driveway parking lot and Dick and the logger rode the lift higher and higher to start taking down the limbs from a driveway maple. The grandchildren sat on the porch steps for a while watching and I took pictures. Little by little the ninety-year-old tree, now dead on one side and leaning precariously toward the house, came down.

I started making desserts for Thanksgiving and added a batch of cookies for the workmen, knowing there would be other workmen coming on Saturday to install our new boiler. The tree and the boiler were not on the calendar when we set the date for our family gathering. But we made it all work!

Little by little the ninety-year-old tree, now dead on one side and leaning precariously toward the house, came down

Garrett and Heidi helped me sweep the wood chips and leaves off the porch, and then they started sweeping the driveway, helping Papa. Heidi loves playing in and with the leaves so she kept putting her chips into small piles, then adding leaves to make piles to jump in. She would also throw the leaves over her head and have a delighted expression as the leaves floated around her. Oddly, her piles are still in the driveway and Papa hasn’t swept it clean yet. Maybe that is similar to me not having all the books, trains, and bedding back in their places. They bring such wonderful memories when I look at them.

After that, the grandchildren had a pizza picnic on a red and white checker tablecloth in the living room while we all watched “The Wizard of Oz.” This was their first time and Karen had prepared them for a few scary parts. They liked the movie and the picnic and then while they were sleeping Eliot, Lori, Byron, and Alysa arrived from southern Vermont about midnight. We talked until one, but knowing the turkey needed to be in the oven by 6:30 I needed some sleep and they were tired from the trip.

More activities

Chad, Kate, Cheyenne, Sam, and Emma came in on Saturday and stayed at Eric’s and Andrea’s, where we also took the prepared turkey, gravy, potatoes, onions, stuffing, and desserts to add to all Andrea had prepared. Thirteen of our fifteen grandchildren sat around the table with four of our five children and their spouses. It was a lovely dinner and visit. Dick and I are at the stage where we do more listening now than talking and were enjoying the stories and antics of this dear family. I’m beginning to understand the contentment and happiness of my Grandpa Bills as he seemed to just delight in us having fun when we were younger. That’s where I am now.

I’m beginning to understand the contentment and happiness of my Grandpa Bills

Snowman pancakes were the request of Garrett and Heidi, so pancakes were served for breakfast Sunday. Then the whole family met at Ponderosa for our parting lunch. There I got to visit more with Cheyenne, Byron, and Matthew (the teen grandchildren) while holding Emma, the youngest grandchild, now two months old. It was a very special time for me to hold in my heart and then it ended with Papa becoming the conductor of a chair train while Matthew was the engineer, and I was the ticket lady. The grandchildren from ages two to ten chose their place of destination, I gave them a ticket, they boarded the train and then Papa punched their ticket. This kept them laughing and busy while their parents got to talk and share the last strains of saying good-bye. Then everyone headed home and after we got home, Dick and I fell asleep on our couch and slept for two hours! I guess we were exhausted.

Sweet memories, a wonderful family, and great food made this early Thanksgiving extra special. Even with all the unplanned events, we had a good time and probably the best was seeing our daughter-in-law Lori, looking healthier and moving with more ease. We have been so concerned for her and it looks as though she is on the upside and so our prayers continue as she gets well.

Well, this journal is long with the joys and love expressed by this family and written about from “just over the hilltop” where the memories of twenty-one people gathered to laugh, encourage, and enjoy one another. May your upcoming Thanksgiving be as wonderful. Just remember “its the rule” to “obey all rules!”  Love, Sharon