Saturday, April 25, 2015

Now THAT'S Better!

Yep.  That's a lot better.  I had to have
that ring off for a few days due to my recent
knee surgery.  I took advantage of that to have
it re-sized at Honeycutt's Jeweler's in Southern
Pines, where Judy bought it for me 39 years ago.
Now it fits, but not too loosely, and has been
re-engraved and nicely burnished.
It's back where it belongs.

So that's better, and so is my knee!
Since most of you have family or friends
with plenty of surgical experiences (and
quite possibly yourselves), I won't bore you
with a journal type review of my own experience.

But I would like to say I thank God and the people
He has placed in my life that have made this a time
of learning, healing, and thanksgiving.

First, my surgeon, Dr. Jason Guevara, is a Christian,
and member of Judy's church, Grace Church.  So is
Dr. Lupkus, who in spite of still recovering from his
own knee surgery, came in on his day off to be my
anesthesiologist.  Other Christian friends have been
there for me at every turn.

The very best part of all is that I wasn't sent to a
rehab center.  I was sent straight home under the
care of Moore County's best caregiver and cook,
my Judy.

She's still in the midst of helping me with 21 one
days of sponge baths, washing hair in the kitchen
sink, and making sure I get my meds and ice on time.

My appetite has been good, but not big, so our left-
overs are lasting longer.  But every meal since I
woke up from surgery has been a pleasure, and I'm
thankful for that.

They give you plenty of pain meds, and I'm gradually
being weaned from them.  The leg muscles were
strong before surgery, and thanks to the wise
guidance of home therapists from First Health
and now Dr. Teri Walsh of Appalachian Physical
Therapy, the muscles are coordinating better and
better to make the new knee function naturally.

Teri says I should avoid tennis and running or
shooting basketball layups.  Anything with great
impact is a no-no.  But hiking is a YES. She even
said I'll be fine to teach the grandkids Four Square
when the time is right.  I need to ask her about
jump rope tricks.  I know that's high impact, but
perhaps with a cushioned mat I can at least show
the kids some cool tricks when they're about 8.

So I'm thankful, excited, and hopeful about a full
return to my favorite activities.  Surgery on the
second knee awaits, possibly by mid-summer.
If it goes as well as this one, by fall I truly will
feel like I'm liberated by my new healthy knees.

Friday, April 3, 2015

P.S. : I'm Done With That!

Yeah, it will take a little getting used to.
Haven't had it off in probably 25 years,
but P.S., I'm done with that.
That scar won't go away, but I can handle it.

That's not all I'm done with.
I've done "household chores" for the last time.
I'm not cranking that chain saw or lawn mower
again. Splitting wood?  Uh-uh.

I'm done with working on the nature trail
and nursing home singalongs. And after I
play the piano on Easter Sunday, I'm done with
that.  Delores understands and forgives me.
Judy understands, too, and so do some others.

I've washed the car for the last time,
I won't be setting foot in the garden.
And this might just be my last blog post.
We'll see.

By the way, P.S. is my abbreviation for 
Pre-Surgery.  I'm getting my left knee replaced
next Wednesday, and then I'll be done with 
that, too!

And hopefully, soon I'll be able to get back
to all those things that I love so much.
Cutting wood, cutting grass, gardening.
Washing the car-- not so much. Once a year.

I'll be hoppin' down the nature trail like
Peter Cottontail before you know it.
And back at the nursing homes and other
venues to share music with one and all.

And I'll be especially glad to get that
wedding band back.  You know, you can't
wear any jewelry into surgery. But I couldn't
get it off.  I honestly have no recollection of
the last time I ever took it off.

So today, I took it to Honeycutt Jewelers in
Southern Pines, where Judy purchased my ring
(and I, hers). I was there when they opened at
10 and by 10:08 they had cut it off with their
handy tools and measured me for a size larger.
Most likely, Judy will need to pick it up when
it's ready, because driving? I'll be done with that,
too, as of next Wednesday.
And once I put it back on, I'll introduce it to my 
new knee.  The knee is supposed to be good for
25 years.  I guarantee you the ring is good for
longer than that!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

48 Hours of March to April-- no foolin'

A ton of things happened at our house on the
last day of March and the first day of April.
And I'm not foolin.'  Check it out.

Bri and Hunter were delighted with a bucket
balance I got at a yard sale. Throw in some donated
surplus "gram-stackers" and we've instant fun. We
started by weighing and comparing some random
toys they selected.

Sound strategies quickly emerged.
Estimating, comparing, and logic were employed.

We recorded the weight of each object and
at the conclusion, Bri ranked all objects from
heaviest to lightest.  And by the way, this
wasn't school!

Let's listen in on Bri thinking out loud.

We weren't inside long on that beautiful day.
Bri is trying out the constantly improving
Tarzan swing.  Again, she calls it amazing. 

The padded hand grips make a big difference.
No blisters!

Here's what Bri thinks is fun.

Hunter did a million things at our house,
but he was in constant motion and kept
turning out as a blur.  Normal for a kid
who sometimes calls himself Flash.
Lets watch him work with our tepee
(From Uncle Buddy to Jennifer and Amanda
decades ago).

Let's try it like this.

No, let's fold it up and start over.

Uh, what happened?

Grandpa, are you sure all the grandkids like
to wear these handcuffs?

Fast forward to Thursday, April Fools Day.
There was no foolin' around, just playin' around.
Claire falls in love with the improved swing.

Not once have any of the children slipped off.
It's exhilarating to leap off into space, even if
you're only a couple of feet above the ground.

Here's our conversation:
Claire: I really like this swing!
Grandpa: I'm glad you do.
Claire: I'm glad you're glad.
Grandpa: I'm glad you're glad I'm glad.
Moral: You can't out-corny Grandpa.

Let's see what tricks Claire has mastered.
(By the way, Claire spent at least 30 minutes
with me just swinging back and forth in pure
delight.  After we returned to the house, she
insisted that Judy go back with her.  That time,
she swung across the ravine FORTY more times.
And when Jennifer arrived to pick the kids up,
both Evan and Claire had to show off their
trapeze skills many times before they could leave.) 

Meanwhile, Evan and Grandma are waging
dinosaur war on the front porch. How we love
these days when the doors can be flung open
wide and everywhere is a play space.

My camera angle makes it look like Evan is
Superman (he really is, but don't tell anyone).
He's actually demonstrating how to glide down
our ramp on two scooters at once.

But he's perfectly willing to share when
Claire wants a turn.

Claire scoots up to Grandma while Evan
courts disaster.  Rule # 1, Ev-man: No
broken bones at Grandma and Grandpa's!

Here's the Ev-man in action.

Mom will be here soon-- what have we 
not done?  How about shooting soldiers
with Grandpa's cannon?

Right.  We haven't done that since last fall.

Pretty good shootin', sharpshooter.
(Uncle Buddy and I collected these World
War II figures at Woolworth's more than
50 years ago.)

After Jennifer arrived, everyone was inside
except Evan.  I stepped out back and called
his name.  No answer.  I turned and saw him
grinning at me from the dogwood tree. (The
same one Jennifer and Amanda climbed back
in the 80's.)

I smiled back at him and asked, "What are
you doing up in that tree?"
He gazed seriously into my eyes and replied,
"Today is a day for tricking people, isn't it?"
Yes, it was, and for making a lot of people happy!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thirteen Seems Lucky Again

I'm not a bit superstitious.  But I do love to
study folklore and folk beliefs. And I've always
had a special fondness for the number 13.  Many
a time I've won a door prize or had other good
fortune thanks to that number.  Plus, I'm just a 
contrarian, and am drawn to that which others
might reject.  (I won't say that I retired during
Miss Nora McNeill's 13 year as my principal
because I thought it was lucky.  Rather, the 
entire 13 years were lucky!)

So I thought it appropriate that 13 days before
I am to acquire (at a cost quite dear) the first
new knee of my life.  FirstHealth was kind
enough to call me just a few minutes ago and
assure me that from the convenience of my 
own telephone I could max out both my 2015
deductible and co-payment.  Wow, talk about
customer service.  Of course, I couldn't pass it up.

Thanks to some fine friends plus a little (more)
good fortune, I've already accumulated most of
the implements of torture-- I mean instruments
of rehab.  Here they are, assembled and ready.

First, of course, is the handy ramp that we had
built last fall.  It has been a terrific addition, even
if I had no knee problems.  Visitors love it, and
it is even a play space for the grandkids.  But in 
just over two weeks, it will be more fully appreciated.

Several years ago, when I thought I wouldn't
need new knees until my 70's or so, I came upon
this "cadillac walker" for $20 at a yard sale.
Since then, I've loaned it out to several friends,
and now I will put a few miles on it.  It's as
good as new.

A church friend bestowed upon me this
bedside toilet.  There's no room beside my
bed, so we'll find an alternative location.
Someone said "How about down at the 
tree house?"  While it's true the tree house
is lacking such an amenity, I think I'd (k)need
to frequently replace the wheels on my walker.

Another dear friend passed this shower stool
to me.  Along with my non-skid rubber mat,
this will make my sponge baths a breeze.
No showers until the doctor says so.

Finally, my favorite. 
This is the walking cane of my great
grandfather, Joseph Alford Loyd, who
died in 1935.  He was 6'4", four inches
taller than me, so this cane is right for me.
Also, it is made of uncommon "wormy
chesnut," once the most plentiful hardwood
in the southern mountains.  The chestnut
blight, which continues to this day, prevents
chestnut saplings from maturing, though new
shoots continue to sprout from old stumps.

For this reason, there is a finite quantity of
items made from this sturdy, attractive wood.
In fact, the dulcimer that Judy gave me, hand
crafted my my pastor, Reverend Max Gilmore,
is made of wormy chestnut.

A home health store found me a rubber tip
for the cane that fits perfectly, so I will be 
honored to use it as long as necessary.

I've already had my pre-op session at
FirstHealth, and am gradually checking off
items on my pre-surgery to-do list.
I've had great encouragement from many
friends and family members who have already
had knee replacements.  And a lot of friends
who haven't had a knee replaced look at me
seriously and ask, "Are you sure about this?"
Yes, at least 13 days away, I'm sure!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hitting the High Points of Historic Hillsborough

On Friday, Judy and I embarked on one of
our signature Gypsy trips. We knew our 
destination was Hillsborough, NC, but we
didn't know what we might seeing while
going or coming.

The first thing I saw of interest was this
mosaic near the courthouse square in Pittsboro.
We often travel through this bustling town.
This day we got some tasty marked-down
items at a bakery.  This mosaic actually 
glitters, and the photo doesn't do it justice.

Here is the renovated historic courthouse
in the heart of Pittsboro.  You may recall that
it was damaged by fire several years ago, but
it cleaned up pretty well.

Below is a different courthouse, in Hillsborough,
the county seat of Orange County.  It's at the far
end from Chapel Hill- Carrboro, where we go
frequently.  It's funny that when I was a student
at UNC-CH from 1972-75, Mama and Daddy
always brought me to school via I-85 and we
took the Hillsborough exit to Chapel Hill. But
we never had cause to stop in Hillsborough.
So today was a get-acquainted trip for me and
Judy, and time well spent.

We had discovered the Saratoga Grill on, which I trust for travel tips.
Saratoga refers to the battle in upstate New
York which was the turning point of the
Revolutionary War.

This is just inside the entrance.  Then you 
ascend the stairs.

The grill is a bit unusual, in that it is upstairs
with no handicapped access. It has a bank of
windows which look out on the historic
courthouse, and we got a window seat.

We were early birds, and glad we were.

Here's that view.

And here's another nice view.
Can you say "Scallop and Cheddar Burger?"
Judy and I both said it, and enjoyed every bite.
The food was great and the atmosphere made
everything even better.

As you can see, by the time we finished the
place was packed.  Can you see Judy at center
at our window table?

I was a little heavier going down the stairs
than when I came up.

 This historic plaque refers to the same David
Fanning who took part in the skirmish at 
Moore County's House in the Horseshoe.
The date is 1781, though it looks like 1731.

 This monument recognizes Daniel Boone
whose adventures took him through here,
and Trader's Path, an old Indian route.

We enjoyed a short visit to the visitor's
center, where we got helpful maps, saw
a short slide show, and got personal attention
from a tour guide.

Among other historic connections, General
Lord Cornwallis spent time here near the end
of the Revolutionary War. Also, the surrender
of General Joseph Johnston to General Sherman
in the Civil War was nearby.

As gardeners and flower lovers, we deeply 
appreciate bees and other pollinators.

And since we detest mosquitoes, we adore
all things "dragonfly." Judy eyed this bench,
wondering where we could find one.

A historic home, Ayr Mount, had a steep
price for a tour, $12.  So we passed on that,
opting for the FREE one-mile walking trail
called Poet's Walk.  It was perfect!

They didn't charge us to look at the house.

More about Poet's Walk.

We loved this ubiquitous wetland plant.
Not until we got home was I able to research
it.  I learned it is Trout Lily, which also goes
by other names.  But it does resemble a
speckled trout.

This one is a little more open than most.

This internet photo shows what it will look
like in full flower.

 The Poet's Walk took us down to the Eno
River, which was still rushing from recent rains.
(Ah, alliteration!)  As you know, we have 
discovered and loved the nearby Eno River
State Park (see previous blogs).

No, it's not what you think it is, it's something
else.  Exactly what, I'm not sure.

The last of the walk comes back to this 
reflecting pond.  Note the double meaning.
Not only is a pond that reflects its beautiful
surroundings, but it's a spot that invites
poets and would-be poets to reflect on their
own experiences here.

I snapped this photo, aware that back at 
home, Hunter and Brianna were studying
ecosystems with 4-H this day.
We're all about "life-long learning," kids!

Back in the heart of town, we parked at
the site of the farmer's market (not open
yet, of course).  It reminded us of the nice
shelter we had seen in Abingdon, Virginia
last fall.

From that parking area, we entered the newly
completed River Walk, and were impressed.
We would have walked further, but had already had
 a good leg stretcher.  Plus it was on the cool side.

 A view of the Eno from the pedestrian bridge.

As we departed from Hillsborough, we
located the Occoneechee Mountain State 
 Natural Area.  It has a 2.2 mile loop trail
to the summit, which at 350 feet above the
Eno River, is said to be the highest point
between Hillsborough and the Atlantic Ocean.
It's definitely the highest point in Orange County.

We proceeded on, via rustic back roads,
to the little known former mill village of
Saxapahaw, beside the Haw River in
Alamance County (just south of Burlington).
We came here to see an old general store,
which along with other shops, has given new
life to the abandoned mill buildings.
Here's a view of the Haw River from the 
parking area.

This end of the building contains several
loft apartments overlooking the river, 
plus a nice restaurant.

This ampitheater is home to regular concerts
on a seasonal basis.

The General Store was more like a health
foods store, and high-priced, in Judy's 
estimation (trust her).  But we were glad
to see this creative enterprise succeeding.

The entire building also houses a coffee
shop and even a charter school!

From Saxapahaw, Highway 87 led us straight
back to Pittsboro, and the car knew the way
home from there.  What a nice day trip for
the first day of spring.  We'll be going back
to Hillsborough for more hiking, for sure.