June 23 – Hugs and smiles were the order of the day at Price Chopper where we were royally welcomed by our friends who work there. Robbie had enjoyed seeing one of our recent blogs with his picture in it, but he was too shy to say much except something like, “Can you imagine!” As Dale was paying for our purchases, Sheila said, “Now just a minute.” Reaching down behind the register, she came up with the cutest little birthday cake we had ever seen! Bright colors and a plastic decoration saying, “Happy birthday!” “Now you can let Dale have a little piece,” she said. “It’s enough for you both. Have a very happy birthday a couple days from today, and I gotta have another hug before you go!” Just as we turned to leave, one of the young baggers held out his arms too! I guess hugging is good for the soul and the spirit and helps to cement friendships.
Then we were off to HyVee for a special meal to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday a little early. I can hear some of you chuckling about our picking a grocery store to celebrate. Know why we do it? Because we can choose whatever we want to eat, and nobody comes round again and again to ask if we might want anything else or if we are pleased with what is set in front of us. That kind of makes us the ones who choose what and how much, and if we don’t like our choice, we can leave it on the plate and fill another one! We enjoyed our meal even more because the gift card was a present from Bob and Janice, our dear friends across the field from our house. Since Dale and I are both partial to fruits of all kinds, we enjoyed melons, peaches, blackberries, watermelon, pineapple, and the largest red raspberries I have ever seen! Also sampled several kinds of cheese, olives, cottage cheese, croutons,and garbanzos.
Later, as we were going through the checkout, one of the customers was paying for her groceries when she saw I had six bags of dry noodles. “Oh, I meant to get some of those,” she said. Turning to the clerk she added, “You’ll just have to wait a minute or two because I know where those noodles are. I passed them on the way in. and I’ll be back soon.”
When she came back, I had put our groceries on the counter. Once again, on seeing the noodles the lady said pleasantly, “You know what noodles are good for? They can be baked with chicken, and the dish is really tasty! Or you can fix them with several other kinds of meat,” she added. I smiled at her and said, “But we’re vegetarians!” She looked surprised, but asked, “How long have you been a vegetarian?” My answer? “Forever.” “Well, are you a vegan or just plain vegetarian? And what is a vegan?” After I gave her a quick explanation, first that we are not vegans, and secondly that we do eat eggs or cheese etc, the lady’s parting remark was “Well, that all sounds OK. I’m sure you’ll find something to put over those noodles!”
We stopped on our way home to visit a bit with Barney, who lost his dear wife Betty not much over a week before. As we neared his home, we saw him with the big mower, mowing the area across the road. He is never satisfied just to keep his own yard clean and tidy, but mows across two roads and picks up all the junk people throw out their car windows as they go by. Motioning for us to turn in the driveway, he followed along behind with the mower. Later as we talked about the recent funeral, Barney told us that over 250 people came to the viewing, and that part of the service had to be cut short so there would be time for the funeral. Betty was a blessing to so many, and Dale and I will always be glad that we found Barney and Betty as special friends.
As we visited, we could hear the noisy, unmistakable sound of cicadas out in the yard. Dale wondered why they were all there making their famous noise, while less than two miles away in our yard, we had heard nothing like that. “Wanna see lots of those things?” Barney asked. “Come on over to that tree over there, and when I shake the trunk, just watch how many drop or fly out!” As we neared the tree, I looked down at the lawn around the trunk. Must have been hundreds or more of those dry shells of cicada larvae which had come up out of the ground, climbed up the tree trunk, and the adult cicada had emerged from them and had flown away, leaving the shell behind. The adults mate, lay eggs, the eggs hatch, and little larvae burrow in the ground where they will live for 17 years before starting the process all over again.
As Barney shook the tree trunk, lots and lots of cicadas fell or flew away. Many times I tried to get a good picture of one sitting on a branch here and there, but just as I thought the cicada would let me get a great picture, it flew away. Finally Dale picked up a few from branches and put them in a small plastic container to take home. There I took a few pics of them, but still nothing spectacular. Now, a day or two later we are serenaded every day by such insects, but most of them stay back in the woods where they are happy and free. – CHRIS