Today we said goodbye to Jupiter (or "Buddy," as the girls insisted on calling him), our sweet black and white boy. He was only a couple of months away from being seventeen years old, but his kidneys were failing and his quality of life was suffering so we had to let him go. Anna and I are heartbroken; as I write this, we haven't yet told the girls, who are at Granny and Pa's house.
Here are some pictures of Jupiter with the girls from the last couple of years:
And here's Jupe with me and with Anna when he first came to live with us back in March of 2001:
I was looking through some files on a CD this afternoon to see if I needed to keep the CD--I didn't; I already have all the files it contained archived on a pair of external hard drives--and I found this picture of Jessica and her mommy from November of 2007:
This simultaneously makes me achingly happy and breaks my heart. If you're reading this years from now, Jessica, in one of the books I print of our blog, don't ever forget how much your mother and I love you.
I'm copying exactly what I wrote last year, because it's all still true this year:
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music, and I especially love going to Christmas concerts. For several years I went to the Gwinnett Choral Guild's Christmas concerts, but, sadly, the Gwinnett Choral Guild called it quits in 2015. However, last year I found a wonderful replacement: the Gwinnett Young Singers. I loved their Christmas concert last year, and tonight I went to their 2016 Christmas concert [except this time it's 2017], and it, too, was wonderful.
In the past, when I was a reasonable person [I have since realized I was never all that reasonable], it would have been enough to go to the concert and enjoy it, but now I have a smart phone, and therefore felt compelled to take pictures of the event. So here are some of them:
Today I went to the girls' school to have lunch with Elyse for the second grade Thanksgiving Feast!
The turkey and dressing and gravy was pretty good, especially for a mass-produced school lunch. The macaroni and cheese was also quite good; I only ate a little of it because Elyse kept asking if she could have some of mine. I didn't eat the green beans, of course; I just felt too self-conscious going through the line to not get something that seemed like a grown-up choice. I should have just asked for double helpings of macaroni and cheese.
Today we went to Stone Mountain for the opening weekend of this year's Stone Mountain Christmas. It was chilly and drizzly, but this weekend is one of their "bring a friend free" times, and Pearl had come to visit (spending Saturday night at Granny and Pa's house) and go with us, so we braved the weather and went.
Elyse brought her phone and took a bunch of pictures; here are ten of them:
This morning Elyse and I set out to go to a Girl Scout event at Autry Mill Nature Preserve. However, for complicated reasons involving hunger, parking, and anxiety about the bugs part of the program (anxiety on Elyse's part, but not so much on mine), we didn't actually make it there. Instead we went to the Target on State Bridge Road and looked around at Christmas stuff--nothing you can get a badge for, but considerably less anxiety-inducing than looking at bugs at the nature preserve.
I know some people think it's too early for Christmas--we're still a week and a half away from Thanksgiving--but I love everything about Christmas, including stores like Target in November and December, and I rather enjoy having several weeks of it.
Elyse has been so excited about Halloween this year! She and Jessica went over to Granny and Pa's yesterday after school to decorate their house (or at least the entrance to it):
We went to Granny and Pa's house this afternoon for supper--Marco's pizza--and then had a long wait until it was dark enough to go trick-or-treating. Jessica spent most of that time trying on various outfits and debating whether she wanted to go or not.
Elyse dressed up as a black cat:
In the end, Jessica decided to stay home with Pa to hand out candy; Anna and I (and for the first few minutes, my mom, until she decided to go back home) took Elyse out trick-or-treating. Elyse missed having Jessica with her, but that didn't prevent her from covering nearly the entire neighborhood, spending a full hour ringing doorbells and collecting candy. For the first few houses, Elsa D. (whom she's holding above) went with her, but Granny brought her back to the house with her when she decided to return home.
Elyse really wanted to carve a pumpkin--a real pumpkin, not one of those fake Styrofoam things (which the rest of us might have preferred)--so this afternoon she and her mother picked on out at the store, and then they came home and carved it:
(It wasn't raining, but it was a little chilly and the raincoat was the first thing Elyse found to put on.)
This afternoon, after I taught my Tuesday classes, I headed north on I-85 for Morganton, North Carolina, where I am (in my room at the Sleep Inn) as I type this. I'll go to sleep soon, hopefully sleep well and for a long time, and then get up tomorrow, partake of the free hot breakfast at this hotel, and then drive to Linville Falls to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'll spend all of tomorrow driving and exploring and enjoying the mountains and as many visitors centers as I can find and maybe even some good barbecue.
I left Lawrenceville at about 1:30 and made it to South Carolina about an hour later, stopping, as I do whenever I get the chance, at the Welcome Center:
My favorite thing about a good Welcome Center is the remarkable supply of brochures for various attractions:
This wall-size map of the state shows where I was at the time (You Are HERE, it says up near the north-west corner of the state):
From there I drove to Greenville, where I went to one of the coolest Barnes & Nobles I've ever been in:
I bought The Wind in the Willows (which I already have, it being one of my favorite books, but which I needed a good paperback copy of) and Siddhartha (which I read more than twenty years ago but would like to read again), and then had either lunch or supper, I'm not sure which, at Panera:
The French onion soup was fantastic!
I drove for a while longer on I-85, then I-26, and at some point I stopped for gas and took this picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains from a distance:
I'm not sure exactly when I crossed into North Carolina; I was on a local road by then, and there was no Welcome Center to visit. I made it here to my hotel in Morganton around around 8:30, settled in, did some grading (unfortunately I do have work to do, but fortunately the WiFi here works very well), and then sorted through the pictures I took this afternoon. After I publish this, I'm going to bed.
Wednesday, October 4 Day Two: The Blue Ridge Parkway
This morning I got up earlier that I probably should have (since I ended up not going to bed until midnight last night, a mistake that creating this post is about to cause me to repeat), read for a few minutes, called home to check on everybody, then went down to the lobby for the "hot breakfast" the hotel claimed to have.
The "hot" part, disappointingly, was the waffles and the pre-packaged microwaveable Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits in the refrigerator above the yogurt. Still, it was an acceptable breakfast, but I am glad I was not there on one of the days that prompted management to post this sign:
After I checked out of the hotel, I drove about an hour north to Linville Falls, went to the Visitor's Center, and then got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove for the next eight hours, with lots of stops to see sights and take pictures of them (and also one stop for lunch at a Subway). Here, in chronological order, are fifteen pictures I took this afternoon and evening:
(The circle in the picture above that looks like the sun is actually the moon.)
Thursday, October 5 Day Three: Coming Home
This morning I woke up at about 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got dressed and went forth to check out the breakfast at this hotel, the Quality Inn in Sylva, North Carolina. This time, the "hot" breakfast promised by the hotel's Web site turned out not to be a lie: they had biscuits and sausage links and scrambled eggs, all very good, and one of those hotel waffle makers. It was a satisfying breakfast.
I puttered around the hotel for another couple of hours, reading, napping a little bit, before I checked out and headed home. The drive back to Loganville was mostly uneventful; I made a couple of stops but didn't take any pictures or see anything exciting. I didn't even buy any books, though I did stop at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of Georgia. I made it home at about 3:45, just as Anna was getting back from picking up the girls from school. It was wonderful to see them all again!