MY sister Aleida recently sent me an article which gave the hint of a suggestion that time travel theoretically could be possible due to recent data showing that subatomic particles were recorded to travel faster than the speed of light. According to science fiction, once the light-speed barrier is broken…game on in regards to time travel! (Of course the article put this much more scientifically.)
Now, the Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and my grandmother’s house in rural Asheboro North Carolina could not be more different. I do feel, however, that I experience time differently when I visit there…and while time travel may not yet be possible in my lifetime, and as amazing as the prospect may seem, visiting NC is the closest type of time travel I’ll ever be a part of.
My grandmother has lived in this house almost her whole life- having moved there with her husband shortly after they got married. It is pretty rural now, and was even more so back then; she describes standing at the kitchen sink looking out the window at the one winding country road, homesick for the city life and her parents…but then looking out at the lush green trees and landscape of the country gave her comfort in the beauty of the changing seasons.
I posit that when I return to North Carolina, while not exactly traveling in time, I am wholly affected by time and I experience it more there than in any other place.
I go back in time when I think about how my mother and all her brothers and sisters grew up in that house- slept in the rooms that I slept in, ate at the same table, looked at many of the same pictures in the albums and on the walls.
I find out new pieces of history every visit…that child’s rocking chair sitting dustily in the corner? My grandma told me last visit that it was my moms. It took on a whole new aspect to me. [reminder to insert picture of said chair later!]
I go back in time when little things evoke memories of my childhood. Smells especially…when we visited a barn in the German Black Forest this summer, Rijen thought the smell of cow manure was pretty strong, but I loved it because it reminded me of the farm in NC. Or the opposite, the worst smell I ever smelt was when I witnessed my grandfather having to birth a cow whose fetus died in utero. That may seem pretty awful, but it was life on the farm, and it really impressed me. There was a silent strength in that act- it had to be done, and he did it.
I experience a stasis of time when there are so many things that stay the same. There is a permanence and personality to the house. The orange carpet, the light green and white faded and peeling wallpaper in the bathroom, the Zane Grey hardbacks on the bookshelf. Those of you who have experienced an old house like this may feel this- an organic feeling to it as the house seems to settle into itsself and the surrounding trees.
There are a lot of sensory elements to this aspect of experiencing time standing still. Each time I visit I am at a totally different place in my life- but the same sights, sounds and smells comfort me when I return there. My grandmother making chicken pot pie, the sound of the tea kettle waking me up in the morning because she doesn’t hear that it is going off..the different kind of cookies all packaged in their respective storage containers on the tablecloth laid out on the washer and dryer. There is no internet and very limited cell phone reception there. I get so used to it that when someone turns on the TV and all the cable channels start blaring, it is quite jarring.
Do I go forward in time? I guess I could…if I wanted to. I’m the type that would rather reflect on the past than think about the future. Actually, I feel like the progress of time is actually more evident there because so much about the house is firmly rooted in the past. The many modern improvements that my family has made to make my grandmother’s life easier stand out more, and any new changes that may have happened between my visits are more apparent.
Well, enough in this vein, and on to my NC top ten. I wanted this post to celebrate all of the things that I love about North Carolina- the things that I can rely on- the things I call home. It was hard to narrow this list down to 10, but at least it leaves room for a follow-up post after my upcoming visit this week!
Every time I have visited in my memory, there are always an assortment of nightgowns for me to wear. (I don’t even pack pajamas anymore). It also seems that there seem to be more and more choices every time I visit. Last time, (pictured above) I was able to practically have a different nightgown every night! The yellow one was my favorite.
One night when Rijen was on a visit with me, it got really cold during the night. He told me the next day that he woke up in the middle of the night with a chill and as he turned over, trying to get warm, a moonbeam was shining on this long-sleeved blue and white nightgown (2nd from the left above) hanging off of the bureau right next to the bed……
…I know it would have made for a better story if I could say that I woke up in the morning to find him wearing my grandmother’s nightgown, but he didn’t actually put it on. He confessed that he was very tempted though!
On the 20th of this October, my three sisters and I will all be together at my grandmother’s house. I really really really hope I am not the only one wearing these nightgowns!
9. Grandmother’s Garden
My grandmother is an excellent gardener and is my inspiration for all things green. I love visiting in the summer when I can see how beautiful her garden turns out. She has all sorts of things growing there- beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers..and I am sure there are more things I am forgetting. It was especially tall this year, I thought!
I love the ability to go outside and pick vegetables, take them inside, wash and prepare them and eat that same day.
8. Animals: Specifically Kitty-cats and Cows
There used to be LOTS of animals at the house when my grandfather was alive. It was like a little girls dream come true- bunnies, little chicks, kittens etc. There were an assortment of hutches and my grandfather would show us how to gather the eggs, although I was always a bit frightened to put my hand close to the hen. While the hutches now stand empty, you can always count on the cows, (and count them, as well-as grandpa would do), and possibly even a kitten.
I’m sure Fiona would have rated this #1! It seems like every time I go to NC there happens to be a new batch of kittens around. So I asked my uncle Gary, and sure enough, there was one. He attached himself to Fiona early on (or was it the other way around?) and they became exploring partners.
Fiona is not very imaginative when it comes to naming things. Her baby doll is called “Baby,” her bunny rabbit is “Bunny,” and even though I suggested lots of fun names for this kitty, she named it “Kitty Cat.”
I should be more accurate actually and title this
COWS BETWEEN CARS!
You can tell I do not tire of taking pictures like these. (More to come I’m sure).
How does this happen, you ask? Well, put a mechanic and a farmer on the same property (same person-my uncle Gary) and then you get this beautiful pasture for the cows….framed by organic cars.
It’s the kind of thing that I wish you all could see in person, this picture doesn’t quite do it justice, since it is quite an amazing line-up of cars. Perhaps Aleida can take some better pictures this upcoming week.
Okay, now we are getting to one of the most unique things at the NC house:
7. OLD MAGAZINES
Since my grandmother knows that I enjoy sewing and crafting (interests passed on to my by her and my mother), she always sets aside new magazines and digs out old ones that she thinks I might enjoy looking at. While I was in Germany, I guess she had 2 years to find some real gems, because on this last visit in August, she had this amazing magazine from 1978:
Note my grandmother’s writing at the top here:
Are you ready to see what is inside? Are you sure?
I’m not sure if it is the “dots,” but that waiter is excited about something…and speaking of exciting, let us turn to the next page…
I think Tyra Banks (ANTM) would say that the chef stole the spotlight in this photo. Although it is hard to take one’s eyes off the fringe. It is looking FIERCE!
6. The Property
Since I’ve not lived in a house with its own back yard for years and years now, I love walking around in the property back behind my grandparent’s house and my uncle Gary’s. I was especially excited to take Fiona on a cow hunt.
I must be honest, sometimes going so close to the cows makes me a bit nervous. (There is the famous story of my mother being gored by one when she got to close to its calf). So, the next time we went on a cow hunt, I enlisted the help of my intrepid 1st-cousin-once-removed Aaron.
He came fully equipped as our sergeant guide- ready to fend off snakes and cows, negotiate huge anthills, hack aside tall weeds and bend down barbed wire fences. I did NOT know what I was getting into when he led the way. I think I was pretending that I was ten years old once again.
First we encountered some ancient cars returning to their origin.
We finally made it to this open clearing, where this majestic tree stands all alone.
It’s hard to really see the perspective here, but trust me it’s pretty magical.
Our guide scouted some things out for us, and then asked if we wanted to go down to the river. I probably should have said no, but again the 10 year old me said yes. (My 10 year old self didn’t realize that it would have to precariously hold the two year old and the camera while hopping over a barbed wire fence where the ground on the other side of the fence drops off immediately into a little ravine down to the river. Oh, and negotiate spider webs and tree branches at the same time. And then army crawl under another fence and then hop over yet one more).
Amazingly, we made it to the river without any major injuries. And it was worth it because Fiona loved it.
By the way, all the fence hopping and crawling under gates—we weren’t trespassing, these are just barriers my uncle puts up to keep others out of various areas of the property.
5. OLD PHOTOGRAPHS
I read recently that one way of preserving old photographs instead of scanning them, is to just take a picture of them. Since it would be a bit difficult to scan my grandmother’s old family pictures, I thought I would try it here, and I think the quality looks pretty good. Plus it cuts out a bunch of steps to get a photo to a digital form.
One of my favorite activities to do with my grandmother is to go through all of her photo albums. This never gets tiring–even though I have seen the pictures now many times, it is still a a challenge to try and remember who everyone is. I am amazed that she recalls all the names and often little anecdotes about each person. It is incredible to think about how the people in these pictures are not that far distant from me…yet I can only guess at to what they were like based on the few pictures and stories that get passed down. I like that this picture of my grandmother’s father is quite handsome and serious, and the next one shows a bit more personality.
4. Recent(ish) Family photographs
I actually meant to put old photographs at #4 and family at #5 but they both go hand-in-hand. It is pretty funny to look back at all the family photos we’ve sent our grandparents over the years. My grandma likes to take them out and look at them often, and Heather has done a lot with keeping them organized. This photography idea is taken from the website Dear Photograph.
OF Course Good Ole Southern Cookin’ comes in at #3. I was fortunate to be at my grandma’s right when it is best- when the tomatoes are ready. I could eat a tomato sandwich every day all summer…as long as the tomatoes look like this:
I also want to point out that everything on the above plate except for the bread and mayonaise was straight from my grandma’s garden.
Chicken Dumplings are my favorite meal here..but it was interesting to try a version of that I’ve never had before-with garden-fresh corn. I’ll have to put the recipe up next time. Again, there was a lot more delicious food, but I didn’t think to take pictures. Next time!
Since all of my mom’s immediate family has stayed in North Carolina, it makes it really convenient to see a lot of family members when we visit. They also make an effort to get together and do a “cook-out” or a big dinner when one (or more) of us come to visit. Out of town visitors or not, most Sundays at least one or more of my Grandma’s children are at her house for dinner. It was an especially meaningful reunion after being overseas for 2 years- and to visit with a new baby as well!
Fiona and Leif have cousin contemporaries of their own who are now beginning the new Trogdon generation.
So this may look like a stressful moment above…however Gary is well-used to it. His twin sons now have little boys of their own. I am sure holding two fussy babies is a piece of cake for him.
Of course the number 1 thing about North Carolina is Grandma herself. We’ve shared so many good moments together. I hope that my children will have memories of meeting her, and even if they don’t I will have lots of stories and pictures to share with them to make sure that they know the good stock they come from.
Of course a visit wouldn’t be complete without visiting Grandpa’s grave. Fiona doesn’t have any comprehension of death or graves yet, but we told her that these flowers were for Grandpa Trogdon so that we could remember him.
I can never seem to quite blog in real time, but this way I am cheating a bit. These pictures were all taken during my visit in August, however this post is scheduled to “post” during the time that I am there. So, in a way it is a little window into the kinds of things we will be doing and seeing while in NC. However it will be a lot different because all of my sisters will be there and there are some fun things we have planned. I am really looking forward to it and I’ll do my best to report back on how it went once I am back to civilization/internet land.
Maybe in the meantime Rijen might do one of his famous guest posts as he tends to do while we are gone!!!!