On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

The Grubert-Dicus family enjoyed a whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend in Mountaintop, and now we are racing toward Christmas. Our house rocks with all of the extra people. The family cats George and Lulu also returned for their country weekend.

The Mountaintop Eagle staff had a short week. Everybody was busy baking, getting meals together and celebrating. I start my Thanksgiving Day dinner preparations a full 24 hours before we sit down to eat. This year was the first in at least 10 or more that I made an old fashioned Apple Pie. I have made many a pie over 47 years of marriage, but had taken the easy road purchasing pies for too long. It was time to get back to basics.

With a basic piecrust mix and some fresh Heller Orchard apples I got right to work. I had forgotten how soothing it is to just sit and peel apples. I found my old Betty Crocker Cookbook recipe and before you knew it the sweet spicy smell of the pie filled the house. Scratch baking adds a whole new dimension to the scents of the season.

By bedtime I had assembled the stuffing, cooked and mashed the turnip, made fresh cranberry sauce, and put the sweet and white potatoes in their pots for cooking the next day. Candied yams and fluffy mashed potatoes are staples at our dinner. Green beans and creamed onions would round out the table.

Mark and Lara and our grandchildren Charlie, Patrick, Kate and Maggie arrived from Brooklyn about 10:30 p. m. Thanksgiving Eve. The excitement level ticked up fast. Mark Grubert arrived at the Avoca airport from Charlotte about midnight. Our family holiday had begun.

I usually cook a big breakfast on weekends and special holidays, but this time I delegated all the preparation and cooking to different members of the family. Maggie cooked the turkey bacon, Mark Dicus cooked the pancakes, and others set the table. The hostess needs to savor at least one cup of rich morning coffee. Lara and I call it “mother’s milk”.

Conversation flowed and soon we were ready for some outside activity. The kids and the men energetically played a pickup game of tag football. Lara and I embarked for a vigorous hike up our big hill and into the Gamelands from Heslop Road. We saw several parked vehicles and talked to one local man who warned us it was hunting season. I replied that there should be no shooting today. Monday November 30 was to be the first day of rifle deer season.

The road was quiet as we breathed in the fresh air. The beautiful swamp along the way is as high as I can ever remember and we could see that busy beavers appeared to be expanding their dam boundaries and there was open water in the forest. I assured Lara that it was safe to proceed even though we were not wearing fluorescent orange.

Everybody changed into their holiday attire and we enjoyed some snacks. Football was abundant on the TV. The turkey was roasted and the rest of the side dishes prepared and the family ate heartily. We started a new tradition where each family member gave his or her reasons for being thankful for each other member. Round the table we went learning some surprising and tender reasons each of us is thankful.

The apple pie was finished after the first round complemented with Lara’s delicious fresh pumpkin cheesecake.

Our family tradition includes watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and the hilarious movie starring Steve Martin and John Candy released in 1987 always keeps us laughing out loud. Mark Grubert can recite just about any line with just the right inflection.

Black Friday dawned fair and promising to be warm. We got ready for some shopping. I like to take my daughter and grandchildren shopping. They get just what they like and everybody is happy. The month or so between shopping and opening the presents still adds to the excitement. Friday night is also leftover turkey day. This year I put everything into its reheatable containers before storing in the fridge and taking it out for reheating was a breeze. Cook once eat twice or in the case of the turkey more times for sandwiches.

Friday night was card night. The players agreed on a 7 card Texas Hold ‘Em game. Maggie Dicus was one of the big winners and one by one the others were out. I only won one hand for the night. Probably need to practice more. Our second full day of Thanksgiving was nearly over.

Saturday was a dark damp day and we all had some favorite things to tackle. Mark Dicus took Patrick and Kate to Lisa’s Beauty Shoppe for haircuts on Small Business Saturday and the group ate lunch at Abe’s Hotdogs, one of their favorite Mountaintop eateries. Mark Grubert tutored Charlie Dicus in algebra.

Lara and I took a trip over hill and dale to Country Folk in Nescopeck to see the Christmas display. Judy Carroll and her staff put together an amazing display each year. No two years are alike and on the dark damp day the bright lights and glitter were stunning. It took us two complete rounds of each of Country Folk’s three floors and the small farmhouse attached to it to try and take in the ambience of the displays. Country Folk is a destination any time of the year but the Christmas displays are truly over the top. Judy was one of our first advertising customers in the 1980’s and she has grown her business with an artist’s eye for design and an entrepreneur’s skill in business. Lara and I both got some new Christmas memories for our homes.

Mark Dicus and some of the children put some new lights on the house this year. At 5 p. m. we had a lighting ceremony with Mark posting on Facebook “Not quite the Griswold’s, but it’s a start”. Very funny, Mark.

Lara and Mark departed for their annual date to plan their children’s Christmas gifts over a casual dinner at the Ice House Pub and the children, grandparents, and Uncle Mark enjoyed our traditional Saturday night dinner. It is fun to play with the kids while their parents are out. We always hear the most amazing things.

Alas Sunday was back to Brooklyn, but only after another trip to Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm in Dorrance for another perfect tree. The parking lot was crowded on the beautiful sunny day and tree cutting and selling was brisk. There are thousands of perfect trees at Helen & Ed’s.

With the family on their way back home Charlie and I took a nice walk up our street and into the forest along Heslop Road. Sunday was the last day for safe travels in the Gamelands during the two week deer season and I wanted to get one last 4 miler in for the month. There were plenty of newly posted yellow private property signs along the way. But then there are 1,127 acres of Gamelands all around us for recreation all year round.

Monday morning dawned with the promise of a sunny day. Within an hour I heard rifle shots and before long a happy hunter was travelling up my street with his prize deer. Please send us photos of you and your deer for publication. We always enjoy spreading the word of our hunter’s success.

Superintendent Appointment The appointment of Peg Foster,

current Fairview Elementary principal as the Crestwood School District’s next superintendent brings up some puzzling commentary from the last school board meeting. Foster was hired with an 8-3 vote.