Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snow from Manly to Murdocksville

The weekend winter storm marked the first snowfall since
our temporary stay in Manly (north Southern Pines) began
last February 29. We love snow, wherever we may be, and
enjoyed a neighborhood stroll once the precip had stopped.

Judy's familiar swing and chiminea look just as much at home
here as they did in her prayer garden at the Murdocksville home.

We like the looks of our cozy little snow-dipped "town house."

Like most folks locally, our winter coating was very shallow,
but it only takes a little to make a winter wonderland.

The playground is on hold until everything thaws-- which should be
in about 15 minutes.

We are making the most of living near horse country,
so an afternoon tour was in order.
The horses weren't out, but the fences and fields made
for some beautiful sights.
As they say, "There's no place like home."
We may not have a house  in Murdocksville, but
one day we'll be back there.  I couldn't resist a visit
to see what the storm had created there.  These scenes
were three days after the snow, so a lot had departed.

Obviously no one had walked on our wetland boardwalk since
the snow fell.

Obviously?? Maybe I should say no human!
Here's my theory.  The tracks on the right are some small game
animal, perhaps a squirrel.
The tracks on the left are actually about the size of a child's fist.
I believe they're from a bobcat, which we had seen on this property
before.  Larger prints than a housecat by far, but no claw marks,
which rule out a dog.
I think the bobcat may have been in pursuit of something that had
passed this way earlier.  No sign of a chase, so they didn't come
through together.

This bridge is at our "island" where some snow remained.

From the other end of the island.  There are FOUR bridges, but
I'm not sure you can see them all.

It appears that the bobcat had stopped for a drink and was in
no hurry.

There were also signs of deer activity, though deer are not
suitable prey for a bobcat.

The three prominent trees are our 100 year-old pear trees.
We are in hopes the cold weather provides some stimulus for spring growth.

I just had to visit the tree house.  Before long, we'll have the
grandkids up there for play once again.

Judy's arbor and picnic table are waiting patiently for our
permanent return.
If you enjoyed these winter sights, be sure to visit my
Sandhills Nature Trail blog at http://sflnt.blogspot.com.
Well, guess the snow was on the ground long enough
to be waiting for more.  But not this week. Even the 
nighttime lows won't reach freezing for a while.
Such is winter in the Sandhills of North Carolina.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Joy, at Home and About

This Christmas season has been as full of activity as every 
other year for me. Other than our family activities,
 most of it has been musical, and that's just fine with me.  
I realized my pictures are piling up, and I'll be doing more
Christmas music in a variety of venues 8 out of the next 10 days.
The fingers can rest after Christmas!


Below are the super children of Watch Me Grow, where
at the invitation of my good friend Miss Marianne, I've 
been doing Christmas singalongs since I retired in 2008.





Here's a brief sample of our freeze dancing,
always a holiday favorite with these pre-schoolers.

video

At the invite of long-time educator friend Elaine Sills,
I participated in Christmas at Weymouth for the fourth year.

The welcome at the entrance puts one in the mood.

The stately Boyd House is a warm abode for a
bounty of Christmas cheer.

My friend Sue and a duet partner performed just 
before me.  Numerous individuals and groups pitch in
to make Christmas at Weymouth a heart-warming event.


There are special trees and other festive arrangements
throughout the grand house as I've documented in past
blogs.  I didn't have time for the grand tour this year,
but what I saw was as magical as ever.



The stately Weymouth trees were in stark contrast to
the 2016 Loyd tree pictured below.  But this one is very
special to me and Judy.  While we are renting, we don't
have our old 9 foot ceilings, which our "free-range"
cedar trees always touched.  But we found ONE perfectly
suitable young cedar on the property we just sold and 
which is about to be cleared.  In fact, 3 or the last 4 years
we used a cedar that grew within 50 of our old house.
God blesses us with the small things.


Retired educators still love Christmas parties.
My faithful band of NCRSP gathered at the 
Moore County library for our final 2016 meeting.
I loved the Tree of Books the staff had created.
I've got enough books to build one a lot bigger
than this, but I think I'll postpone that project!


Let's move on to First Health Moore Regional
Hospital, where this towering tree graces the
main lobby.  It lifts the spirits of many who may
not be in their favorite place at the holidays.


Here I am without my long-time volunteer buddies,
Lyn and Jim.  They brighten many people's visits to 
the hospital.  They are kind, caring souls, with
charm and humor besides.


Another reminder of God's little gifts was this 
spectacular sunset this week.  Perhaps you saw it or
another one just as stunning.


This Thursday night we joined our friend Sal DiBianca
for a celebration of the 30th year of Sandhills Teen Challenge.
If you're not familiar with this Christ-based drug rehabilitation
program, it has been a blessing to our county since Sal and Debby
started it in 1986.


There's way too much history to go into detail, but
Teen Challenge is the ministry begun decades ago by
Rev. David Wilkerson, made famous by the book and
movie "The Cross and the Switchblade."


Over 1,000 Teen Challenge locations worldwide now
serve young (or not-so-young) men and women fighting
all sorts of addictions.  Year after year, testimonies of
Christ's life-changing power are shared.



And each year, the marvelous Teen Challenge Choir
rocks the place with some of the liveliest, most spirited
carols you'll hear anywhere.  It's truly thrilling!
I'll post a couple of excerpts on Facebook.



This year, we were honored to have as special guest
Rev. Don Wilkerson, brother of David Wilkerson and
co-founder of the original ministry in Brooklyn.  He
has an impressive and visionary resume'.




As I mentioned at the outset, this blog covers the first
ten days of December and the next ten will be a real
whirlwind for me.  But I'm excited about it and hope to
 have time to snap a few more photos and share the joy!
Merry Christmas to all!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall So Far (or Fall THUS Far, if you prefer)

We're at about the mid-point of fall and it's time
I shared some of our adventures with the grandkids.

Brianna is playing basketball for the Fire in the
Upward Church League.

Hunter is playing for the Dragons in his first
organized team sport.  Did I say organized?

They practice sometimes while they're at our house.
They also get to practice counting by twos.

There's more to life than basketball.  How's this for cheap thrills?

Then there's always the 3:00 freight train.

Evan is back to building his dream castle and manning it
with bold knights of old.

Claire uses a few of Evan's left-over pieces, but she's more
interested in her characters than the building.

Note her army of deadly snakes!

Evan adds a pair of watchful guardian eagles.

Looks like both fortresses are secure.

Nice going, Claire!

Now that Evan has lost his first tooth, all four grandchildren
have had that experience.  Many more on the way.

We spent an afternoon back at the old property and Bri
brushed up on some gymnastics she hadn't done for a while.

We soon headed down to the stream and waterfalls,
where the kids hadn't been for months.

While we were at the stream, we heard approaching voices.
Suddenly, Claire and Evan appeared.  Oh, what fun!

We were all happy to see that our unusual fungus from last
year had reappeared and even multiplied.

Here we are at the new footbridge across our frog habitat.

I may not be putting miles on this '73 Mercury these days, but that's
not to say it's not getting any wear and tear.  Evan's the driver,
while the others climb-- at a safe speed, no doubt.

It seems this would make for some distracted driving,
but Evan is very focused.

Next we were off to our trapeze swing that crosses a ditch.
Everyone got in many, many turns.

Off to the treehouse, where everybody found something to do.

Besides cooking and climbing, there was our outdoor "Little Library."

The same week, we all headed up to Morrow Mountain State Park
for a picnic lunch and a nice, long hike.  The kids were enthralled
with their natural "finds."

It was nice to have Jennifer and Amanda along--
especially since my camera wasn't charged.

Back around home, we attended one of Evan's Saturday morning
 soccer sessions.  Here he's sneaking up on the ball for a back kick.

Evan's age group practices drills together, then divides up for
a short scrimmage game each week.  He is a prolific scorer
and has a real knack for both offense and defense.

You can see the killer instinct in his eyes.


Six Cubes is our new favorite game.  Of course it came from a
yard sale, and that was many years ago.  It may be for ages 10
and up, but that didn't prevent Bri and Hunter from trying it with us.




You roll six dice at a time, then remove any dice that score
winning combinations.  You can continue or quit.  But if you
roll and score no points, you lose all points from that turn.


Her very first time playing, Bri scored a "straight" on a single roll.
This is worth 1,500 points.  If you've played Yahtzee, you'll
appreciate what the odds against this are.  Even a straight with
five dice is a rarity.


Here's the unique game board, with a few special spaces leading
up to 10,000 points.  You could easily create your own board and
use six ordinary dice to play this game without buying it.


Not satisfied with her "straight," Bri soon rolled the elusive
SIX OF A KIND!  The 6,000 points put her WAY over the
top to win the game.  To put it in perspective, the six dice are
one degree past Yahtzee's "five of a kind," plus this has to be
achieved in ONE roll.  Amazing!


I'm happy to say that Judy and I can top that 
Six of a Kind.
We have Four of a Kind Grandchildren that are
totally unsurpassed.
What are the odds of that?!