28. The Old Timey Fall Festival


THE CALLISON’S JOINED US for the weekend in North Carolina, a good deal of Tree Felling in the boys’ futures, a good bit of porch sitting in ours. And although it is against my mountain religion to drive off this ridge (but for an emergency), we were going to be here for four full days. So I opened my heart to the possibility of a Saturday jaunt to Mount Mitchell.

A little road trip could be fun, I thought, particularly if the result was a mountain view even more spectacular than our current 5200 foot elevation.

And then I learned it was also The Old Timey Fall Festival on the town square in Burnsville. That made it a Done Deal.


you can see why i was so excited


Of course Leslie and Scott were game. So Saturday morning we loaded up the dogs, the people, and the trash* and we pointed the 4-Runner for Burnsville.

That festival did not disappoint.



AND THEN WE STARTED the climb to Mount Mitchell. It was a beautiful drive that took us along the Cane River, the South Toe River and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. In no time at all we were unloading our crew at Mount Mitchell and making the short hike to the top.

Oh, those views.





Mount Mitchell is the highest spot East of the Mississippi, and its peak just happens to be in sight from the back deck of our place. We’ve spent hours sitting there looking across at it, discussing the weather, wondering whether or not a person standing there could see our house and meadow here.

With binoculars, we could. (That was pretty cool.)


We're there on that second ridge between the pines!
our little slice of heaven, on the middle ridge between the pines


Then we hopped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued in the other direction, eventually taking a (planned) Forest Service Road shortcut that offered a pretty–if slightly unnerving–path down.




It was a perfect day with dear, dear friends, a perfect way to officially move from the fun of Summer to the fun of Fall.



Sweet traveling buddies
Cinder and Little Bit: Sweet traveling buddies



30 Days of Fun 

*Needless to say there’s no trash pickup on the mountains so a trip to the dump is cause for rejoicing



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Day 23: Altogether Now

Our baby girl has graduated from college and still we made the decision to invest in season football tickets, Clemson fans that we are. We love the game, Tim and I do, the kind of fans who sit through The Entire Thing even when the spread of the score and the oppressive heat and the distance we have to travel to get back home make it ridiculous to even consider carrying on sitting there. Yes, we are fans who hang through every scoreboard minute until the players shake hands, the field is swamped with running, star-struck kids and the alma mater

Where The Blue Ridge Yawns Its Greatness, Where the Tigers Play

has been sung.

We do love Clemson football.

So it was with particular excitement that we prepared for Game 1 of Season 2015. Eliza, our graduate, would be coming to the game with us, as would Jenna and Jayme, daughters of our dear friends and tailgate buddies, the Rojeks. The game would be followed by a fabulous holiday weekend at a cabin in the mountains of Highlands, North Carolina–a once in a lifetime opportunity, we realized, spending this time all of us together before our worlds divide, our girls starting their separate grown-up lives.

What a joyful time we had, beginning with the tailgate itself. The forecast for rain manifested in one post-game clap of thunder and one short downpour that found us huddled up (selfie-style) under our big tent.


Look! The Maibergers are here, too!
Look! The Maibergers are here, too!


Then we headed for the mountains and two very full days that did not disappoint. We drank coffee and watched the sunrise, we drank wine and watched the sunset, and by the time the weekend was over we’d solved nearly every world problem. It was glorious!

But most of all, it was a time for us to gather, families who love each other deeply, friends who have experienced–together–the unfathomably quick passage of time as we watched our children grow from sweet little girls into smart, beautiful, independent women.

How did this happen, is the question we asked each other over and over. And then we raised a glass and toasted them all, Jayme, Jenna and Eliza, joy and pride on our lips, and in our hearts, gratitude, deep and profound.


Jay, Jayme, Cathy, Jenna, Eliza, Julie, Tim 9.6.15 Highlands, North Carolina


30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 22: Labor Day in Highlands

We went to the mountains for the holiday weekend.

I got up early to watch the sunrise.

God gave me this.





30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!



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College, and Grand Goodbyes

You’d think it would get easier, this facing down of another Fall semester. After all, I’ve been through it twice. What’s more, this time I carry few of the Mom-worries of her first year of college. She’s walking out my door and back into her own life a much wiser, more confident (nearly) 21-year-old—a far cry from that young girl I left standing amid a thousand freshmen on the sidewalk in front of Lever Hall.

And yet the reality of this third goodbye has left me hollow. Vacant. Carved-out.


I am thankful for this: God eased me into it this time, granting about a million reprieves. We helped her move over a week ago, you see, Tim driving the big truck to Clemson and—with the help of her awesome cousin, Julia—toting load after load after load into the apartment and up the stairs. Then the two of them headed on to Cashiers, NC, for the start of our annual Monetti Family Reunion summer vacation while Eliza and I spent the afternoon organizing drawers, arranging closets, hanging curtains. By the end of the day, her Junior Year move-in was nearly complete.

I rejoiced at not having to hug goodbye that day. Instead, she and I got in her car to make the trip to Cashiers together. I drove. She DJed. We both looked out at the mountains, singing along to our favorite new-this-summer song:

show me
how big your brave is

It’s bonus time, I thought as I drove, these two days with my girl before she’ll make this drive back down the mountain without me. I’ll think of it as bonus time.


on the mountaintop

She was generous with me, I know that for sure, during that Eliza Time of vacation. She let me have those days on my terms. We sat in the double adirondack and watched the sun set against Chimney Top Mountain. We hiked around Hampton Lake, twice. When we all gathered for dinner in the big lodge dining room, she chose the chair right beside mine (without me even asking). Most telling, she allowed photo after photo of us together.

Then all too soon it was time for her to go, to head down the mountain to Clemson. Before she left, she came along on our group excursion to Highlands, stretching time for me once again.

We shopped, we giggled, we bought matching $3.00 macrame bracelets. And then over gigantic dripping ice cream cones, she announced to the group it was time to go.

Don’t be sad, Mom she said, hugging me quickly. I’ll see you Friday.


And so we stopped in to see her one more time on our way home, staying just long enough for Tim to build the big bookshelf to go beside her bed. And just like that, in no time at all, we were out in the driveway, hugging goodbye again.

Make good decisions I said, and we both laughed at the recitation of my stock College Departure advice for her, a line picked up from one of our favorite movies.

I will, Mom, she said, rolling her eyes just a little, as always.

Then we got in the car and pulled away, and I looked back as my baby turned to walk toward the door of her own apartment.

Tim reached for my hand, knowing from experience the tears were about to flow, knowing it was time for me to let go, knowing full well the empty that awaited me, here at home.

Knowing Junior Year had begun.

Day 23: Almost Heaven

Joey, Anthony and Julia, Chimney Top Mountain

We were given fair warning, we mortals who would never take on the challenge of climbing  Chimney Top Mountain (estimated to take 4.5 hours) in less than an hour. But it’s what Tim put out there, and he got three takers: Julia, Joey and Anthony.

They accomplished it in an astounding 45 minutes.

And when they got to the top? A once in a lifetime opportunity on this rainy mountain day, beautifully articulated by 8-year-old Anthony.

I touched a cloud today, he said.


30 Days of Fun II