Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Weather Advisory and Three ZINGERS

First things first. I'm keeping the snow picture at the top of my blog because it ain't spring yet. Ever since Judy noted an evil smirk on Greg Fishel's (our TV 5 weather geek) face about a week ago, we knew another snow forecast was on the horizon. We kept watching the revisions in temp and precip as the week went along, and by Friday they let the cat out of the bag. If you're anywhere in the southeast you might get a taste of the coming snowfall. We hope for a lot but will settle for pretty and white. After all, this will be our third snow of the season, by far the best in a long time! Slide and glide safely and we'll try to do the same.

Now, for the three promised ZINGERS.
  • Zinger #1: Last Sunday part of our discussion around the dinner table was about colonoscopies and endoscopies (well, what does your family discuss over dinner, praytell?). Anyway, I had a sudden epiphany. "Why don't they just say endoscopy and OTHER-ENDoscopy."
  • Zinger #2: At our Wednesday lunch of soup (cheese tortellini, courtesy of Amanda) and cheese toast (courtesy of Judy), I was diligently observing the birds at our feeder. There was one little bird that I kept thinking was a brown variety of chickadee, but I just had to look it up in my little Golden Guide to Birds of North America. Eureka! "It's a brown-headed nuthatch!" I announced jubilantly. "Dad," Amanda calmly responded, "I think you just described yourself." (I'm proud of you, Amanda!)
  • Zinger #3: Last night I was talking to Daddy on the phone. I mentioned that we might plant some early peas and lettuce this year and that we might go to a presentation at the Pinehurst Village Hall about garden insects and pests. Daddy didn't miss a beat. "Tell Judy if she wants to keep pests out of her garden just to tell you to keep out." OUCH!

There's no question that the Loyd humor, such as it is, crosses at least three generations. We may not get much out of our garden, but we Loyds always expect a good crop of corn!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twelve Days Earlier. . .

Today's blog reminds me of a Seinfeld episode that began with a bizarre wedding scene. It then backtracked--two hours earlier, four days earlier, and so on-- to explain how everything had come to pass. It was clever and funny. I've seen Monk employ that device recently, and no doubt other shows have used it. Well, in today's blog, I'm backing up TWELVE whole days to the Valentine's dinner I never got to tell you about. You all know that the day after Valentine's Day, we hurriedly headed to Atlanta due to Mama's death. Let's see if I can even remember twelve days ago!

Here was Judy's menu for that memorable meal:
  • Sweet and Sour Pork

  • Steamed Asparagus

  • Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows

  • Yeast Rolls

  • Sage Butter

  • Choice of Tea, Coffee, or Water

  • Valentine Parfait

Not only is Judy a fantastic cook, she loves to cook, too! Every element of this special meal was prepared to perfection. I still owe her a meal out, but it won't match this one!

In the card below Judy tells me I have the key to her heart and that she loves me. I knew that, but it is emphasized by the fact that this is the key to her beloved '64 Plymouth--which, in its day, could rip up some asphalt on Murdocksville Road and go airborne crossing Joe's Fork Bridge (before the highway department smoothed out the bump)!

Delectable delights.

Come closer. Look, but don't touch. And don't TASTE, either!

Perfect parfait. That's a description and a translation!

Heartfelt lovey-dovey cards and the evening's menu.

I slipped up in failing to take a photo of the red roses. Amazingly, they were still beautiful after our week in Atlanta, and for most of the week after we got back. The house was cool enough to mimic refrigeration.

Following the meal, I did have a very small surprise for Judy. I had recorded on my keyboard a song I used to "croon" to her (like Rudy Vallee) when we were courting umpteen years ago. That special song was "I Only Have Eyes for You." I sang it to her (and she didn't even laugh). As the interlude began, I invited Judy to dance (my Mama and Daddy were dancers, but not moi). It was very nice. And here's a little trivia for you. February 14 is always our "half-year" anniversary, since we were married on August 14. This Valentine's Day marked 32 and 1/2 years with my sweetheart.

Well, that's all I've got to say about that. Next post will probably be about reading and pre-schoolers. Get psyched!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Elizabeth Anne Black Loyd 1920-2008

Almost all my readers already know that Mama finished her earthly race early last Sunday morning. That was February 15, the day after Valentine's Day. Fittingly, Buddy had called just after leaving Mama the evening before because Mama wanted him to wish me and Judy and Caryn and Steve a Happy Valentine's Day. By now, you're not surprised at that type of anecdote. I will have many happy anecdotes about Mama in the months and years ahead. I won't try to overwhelm you with a flood of them right now, but there are a lot of things you don't know about her.

I won't even try to match the job Jennifer and Amanda did in sharing about Mama's funeral. Go here for Jennifer's post and here for Amanda's. You won't regret it! The girls's reflections on both Mama's life and death are very special to me.

Rather than a coherent essay, please indulge me as I revert to the "random list" mode.
  • God's timing is perfect, as always. No one can write a good script for death and parting, because we would always extend the narrative. But there is a right time for each of us to leave this world, and we should note that Mama arrived in heaven that morning in time for the early service. She LOVED church, and she will hear singing and praises now that none of us can even imagine. She'll be an active participant, too, not a passive observer.
  • If I had lost Mama at almost any other point in my life, I think the parting would have been far more painful. But our many days and hours spent happily together from last spring until now were rich and joyful. There was nothing left unsaid between us--of course Mama even knew my unspoken thoughts. I'm happy to carry on a part of her life in my own, because her faith and love extended to others are her greatest legacy.
  • Mama must have been thrilled to see the outpouring of love from her and Daddy's families as well as friends during our visitations. Aunts, uncles, cousins, some of whom we hadn't seen in 20 or 30 years came from near and far to mark Mama's death and celebrate her life. It was a great blessing to me to see these relatives and to begin to reestablish some ties. I will make an effort to nurture these bonds in the days ahead.
  • Mama must also have been so pleased with the music at her service. Bill Calloway, First Methodist's organist played a marvelous array of her favorite hymns. Warren and Leah Calvert played the wordless Ashoken Farewell on guitar and fiddle. Sometimes words are not needed. Then Warren accompanied on guitar as Brian Weatherby played string bass and sang Friends Like You. You may recall my words about Brian and Warren on a recent blog post about my Camp Cherokee reunion. I am delighted I now have the link at which you may hear MP3s of that song and ALL their great songs. Go here: Courthouse Creek. Go NOW. Do it! You'll thank me.
  • Prior to the funeral, we had observed a weather forecast which seemed to make a rainy day inevitable. But NO! Even with a 90% rainy forecast, after early showers, we needed neither windshield wipers nor umbrellas from late morning until almost 5:30 that evening. I believe almost all of our guests were safely home before things changed. We had left the graveside to dine out as a family and returned to Prospect Cemetery to see if the gravesitehad been completed. Workers were still at their task, though, when raindrops began to fall. So we headed back to the funeral home to pick up several articles. Then Mama must have had a good laugh. The heavens burst forth with a sudden storm of hail! Amazingly, we were all at the rear of the funeral home for loading, and we were able to swing all four of our vehicles into the empty bays that often held hearses and limousines. We watched the bounding hailstones as lightning crackled and thunder boomed from all directions. We thought we had a safe vantage point to witness the lightshow, but upon hearing we were under a tornado warning, we headed inside. (I'm not making light of these storms-- there were 10 confirmed tornadoes in Georgia that evening, and much loss of property. Thankfully, only one life was lost, and it could have been even more devastating). I'm certainly not implying that Mama had control of the weather, but we were reminded God is in control of all things. The rain and the winds are at His command, and He desires that our lives would be, too. Like Mama's.

I'll share more soon, and I also have many other things to blog about, but don't forget to visit the links I mentioned. You'll get a blessing and a ray of sunshine from them all. Keep in touch!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Eclectic Week!

Here are some highlights of the past week:

  • Monday~ I finished sawing up the massive white oak tree that had generously been shared with me. Next week I'll begin the splitting!
  • Tuesday~ I played the piano at the hospital. Great fun, as usual.
  • Wednesday~ Amanda joined me and Judy for our soup luncheon and weekly card game. I hauled a load of paperwork to Carthage to drop off to a CPA~ first time in 32 years I've needed assistance on taxes.
  • Also Wednesday~ Judy enjoyed the Duke/Carolina game immensely. Too soon to make projections about UNC's future prospects, because every ACC team is upset-minded when we face them. Still, we're playing with greater intensity, and look like we're having fun.
  • Thursday~ I provided keyboard entertainment for a sweetheart banquet for the Ladies of Sacred Heart. This was the umpteenth time I've played for this event, but the first time it was held at Table on the Green, Midland Country Club. I always enjoy these folks. It was also the first time they held a luncheon instead of a dinner, which was fortunate for me, in light of my retirement.
  • Friday~ Judy and I did our household chores early and took advantage of the last warm day to picnic and hike at nearby Weymouth Woods. If you like hiking, you should try it. We followed the Pine Barrens Trail, Gum Swamp Trail, and part of the Holly Trail.
  • Saturday~ Today is Valentine's Day ALL DAY LONG. Judy's not-so-secret admirer/sweetheart sent red roses. Now I can get away with anything--for a little while. She's got a surprise dinner in the works for me, and I've got one more teeny tiny surprise. We'll wait a few days for a dinner out when Moore County isn't such a madhouse.

Hope you and someone special celebrate Valentine's Day in style!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Camp Cherokee Reunion

Cherokee's gonna shine tonight,
Cherokee's gonna shine!
Cherokee's gonna shine tonight,
Cherokee's gonna shine!
We're all dressed up tonight,
We're lookin' fine.
When the sun goes down,
And the moon comes up,
Cherokee's gonna shine!

The last Saturday night I was in Atlanta I was privileged to attend what was called "The Bachelor's Club," although my brother Ellis (Buddy) is the only original member who has never married. To me the evening was basically a reunion of some of my closest counselor friends from Camp Cherokee for Boys. I was a counselor at Cherokee each summer of college, 1971-1975, then one session in 1976 just prior to my and Judy's wedding. In 1982, when Judy was pregnant with Amanda, we both went to Camp for one session, and Jennifer got to go along. She wasn't quite 3, but she still has some vivid memories.

We dined at a Longhorn Steakhouse, then relocated to Buddy's apartment for some great music. The original Bachelor's Club once met annually, but had not gotten together for 15 years. I had never been able to attend, so it was a real treat.
From left to right, the musicians are Warren, Brian, Ken, Jim, Danny, and Sam. I had not seen Sam in 33 years, and the last time I saw Jim was August 13, 1975. That was the night before my wedding, and Jim, Warren, and I hung out at Jim's house.

Musicians must have an audience, and Uncle Don Moore, Michael, and Ellis were an appreciative one indeed. Don Moore was my mentor at Camp Cherokee, was instrumental in my coming to Moore County, and has been a huge influence in my life. He taught his entire career in Moore County (Southern Pines) and has retired to beautiful blue Lake Burton, just across the cove from dear old Camp Cherokee-- which is no more.

Warren has been my friend since first grade and was best man at my wedding--so he says! He's a masterful guitarist. Too good to be called a mere "picker."

Danny is a rare banjo talent. He and Warren have made music together since elementary school. Danny could have made it in Nashville if he had chosen to.

Brian is THE MAN on string bass. He's also an excellent career teacher in Atlanta.

Together, Warren, Danny, and Brian comprise the group Courthouse Creek, dating back to the 1970's. They're planning to make more music together in the near future. The group's name is taken from a favorite Camp Cherokee campsite far below Devil's Courthouse on the Blueridge Parkway near Brevard.

I wish you all could hear the music that we shared that night (Everyone in Ellis's apartments heard it I'm sure)! We actually did not sing "Cherokee's Gonna Shine Tonight"--wish I'd thought of it-- but if anyone wishes to call me on the phone, I'll sing it to you (Gail).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Highlights of Latest Atlanta Visit

I was thrilled to see the progress Mama had made since my last visit more than two weeks ago. Here are some highlights:
  • She gets dressed in her own clothes every day--and looks great!
  • She gets up in her wheelchair and spends most of her day sitting up, rather than lying down.
  • She spends most of her time outside her room, which is a large open area with sofa, comfortable chairs for family, and a PIANO!
  • She also eats lunch and dinner in the outer area--we call it the "family room". She's able to eat unassisted and is cleaning her plate consistently. Like all Loyds! She brags on the food, and especially enjoys desserts of pudding or the fruitcake cookies Buddy has supplied. Happily, Buddy has been playing for her and other residents's enjoyment before I visited and since my departure.
  • I got to spend many happy hours over several days playing old favorites, from hymns to childhood songs.
  • Mama successfully remembered how to play Solitaire. Didn't win her first game, but she played sharp--and we'll play some more on my next visit.
  • Caryn, Brantley, and Lindsey (my sister and nieces) visited on Saturday and we all did a lot of music for Mama.
  • I started reading an abridged version of Little Women to Mama, not sure if it would hold her interest. IT DID! We read several chapters Sunday afternoon, two more that evening, and Buddy read two more Monday after I had left. They're halfway through the book!
  • Mama pushes herself to improve on standing and walking when she has physical therapy. Daily, she set new records for distance. She impresses her therapists with her attitude and determination, and has also won the hearts of all her caregivers with her displays of love and appreciation. One night nurse said Mama told her, "Thank you for staying up all night just to take care of me!"

I still get to talk to Mama, Buddy, and Daddy by telephone daily, and I'm sure the great reports will keep coming until I can work out another visit. I did a couple of other special things on this visit that deserve posts of their own. Maybe tomorrow. . . or the next day. . . or . . .