Saturday, March 28, 2009

Et Cetera

These second graders would rather listen to stories than
take reading and math assessments. So would I!

This is what a Happy Math Camper looks like.
Especially with chocolate milk (for a choco-holic).

This has been a busy week but in a good way. Lots of little things have kept me away from the old blog, but the rain has just begun once again and this seems like the perfect time to get caught up.

Let's just do the old day-by-day method.

  • Monday. In the morning I began a little spring cleaning in the garage. My target date for completion is 2011. Just pick a month--any month. Ray and I played keyboard and guitar music in the afternoon to prepare for a little singalong at Manor Care Nursing Center this coming Monday. We practiced fewer of our country/bluegrass songs than usual and worked on the traditional folksongs our audience grew up with. Ray plays by ear, like me, and he can join right in on almost anything I play. We always close with our souped-up version of "Home, Sweet Home" that, according to his family tradition, was written by his great grandaddy.

  • Tuesday. I continued working on the garage in the a.m. In the afternoon I headed over to Moore Regional Hospital to play the lobby piano for anyone passing through or waiting for patients. Just as much fun as ever. I was able to invite a young fellow with a broken arm to play the bass notes of the piano to accompany me on "Baby Elephant Walk," which is always a hit with the young folks.

  • Wednesday. I made a few final preparations for my first session of Math Camp. Amanda joined me and Judy for lunch and provided a scrumptious ham and cheese soup plust "Stack-em-High" cookies with maple syrup flavoring. My camper, Jessie, joined me after school and we had a blast playing number games and exploring Math Magic. Sometime I'll tell you about "The Cuisenaire Game." That evening I had Children's Choir at church, which was fun. We usually conclude with a special game, and this time it was Indoor Hockey. Maybe I'll take a picture of that next time.

  • Thursday was my busiest day of the week. Pam invited me out to good old Sandhills Farm Life for a singalong and storytelling time with Mr. Jackson's 2nd graders. Pam also treated me to some of her homemade barbecue, which was delish. She had prepared her kids very well to sing "The Desperado" with motions. Their participation was terrific. Another class joined us for the story time later, and I read "The Tar Baby," a Br'er Rabbit favorite, an African folktale, a Molly Whuppie story, and some traditional "whoppers" and tall tales. Pam has been reading Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales to her class all year, so I didn't read any of those. Molly Whuppie is like a female Jack, and her tales are hilarious. School was as busy as a beehive, as expected, but I had a chance to speak to quite a few staff and students who I hadn't seen since before Christmas. In the lobby I saw an artist's rendition of the upcoming classroom addition. It appears to add six classrooms and should allow the removal of the campus mobile units. If a new elementary school is built in the next few years, Farm Life's enrolment should stabilize. I also learned that next fall SFL will celebrate its 150th anniversary. How exciting! I plan to be back at school for some Nature Trail strolls after Easter vacation.

  • Friday. Friday evening Jack and Thelma joined me and Judy to view the film "Fireproof" at Grace Church in Southern Pines. We highly recommend this movie for couples or singles. Judy and I are also using the accompanying book, "The Love Dare," which has excellent lessons, insights, and daily challenges (called 'dares'). It's not just about marriage, it's applicable to all sorts of relationships. After the movie it was time for UNC's late-night game against Gonzaga. I'll spare you the details--not many of my readers are big sports fans, but there's plenty about the game on the internet if you haven't already heard more than you wanted (Dook fans). I hope after their Sunday game with Oklahoma there will be more good stuff to read. I'd love another shot at the Final Four, but the competition is extremely tough.

  • Saturday. That's today. We ate lunch at 195 for the first time since before Christmas. It was as delightful as we remembered. We ran a few errands and got home about the same time as the rain began in earnest.

It goes without saying that we ate like kings and queens all week. Some of the highlights were Judy's meatloaf, her homemade chicken salad, boiled cabbage, and boiled squash. We had some good canteloupe and strawberries, too, and it's not even farmer's market season yet. Our first garden peas have come up, and in a few weeks we'll be planting lots more yummy stuff.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Welcome, Spring!

My birthday, Thursday, was the last official day of Winter. So Friday welcomed Spring. And for once we got enough snow that we didn't mind saying goodbye to Old Man Winter (Jack Frost is still around--as you'll know if you stepped outside early today)!

In our moderate Sandhills climate we enjoy the early harbingers of Spring that begin to appear as early as February. Below is the old-fashioned shrub called First Breath of Spring. Its fragrance is to die for! Wish you could smell it. It is well past its peak now but we still pick up the scent when we go to the mailbox.

The maple trees I transplanted from the swamp years ago are flowering and will soon sprout their first leaves. And one nice thing about maples--I don't know anyone who's allergic to them! Eventually they become great for climbing and providing a cool summer shade. (Hmm. That's THREE nice things about maples).

The buds of the dogwoods are swelling. In a few short days they'll burst onstage and overshadow everything else. And that's a good thing! As some of our old giant oaks died, dogwoods, some planted by me, some by the birds, have proliferated. And we love them.
This red honeysuckle is another of my favorites. I first transplanted some that grew down in the woods in hopes of attracting hummingbirds. It was successful and birds have planted a new "colony" by our driveway. This is the first flower this year, with many more to come.

Below is the Flowering Quince, but it's known locally as hog-apple. It actually has a small fruit and I imagine hogs once fed on this low shrub.

These next two pictures are a lovely white flower that adorn our front yard and continue to spread.

Some of our red camellias turned out beautifully even after the poor timing of those last nights down in the teens a couple of weeks ago.
And where you have red camellias, the pink ones can't be far behind!
And where you have red and pink camellias a . . . a WHAT? An EASTER EGG TREE can't be far behind! And do you know what that means?
Soon little chocolate bunnies will be hatching everywhere around the Loyd house!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Live (but not) at the Fiddlers's Convention

It's been ages since I even attempted to download any videos on this blog because it takes forever on this computer. But for those of you who were unable to make it to the Highfalls Fiddlers's Convention last Saturday, I'm posting my "rough draft" recording from a practice session at home. This version is a little over 8 minutes-- I shortened the actual performance to about 4 and a half by omitting "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" and shortening two or three others. To see the list of songs in this Old-Timer's Medley, see my blog post from earlier this week (scroll down). Maybe you can watch this (or listen while you fix a snack) during halftime of the UNC-LSU game!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Old-Time Fiddlers's Convention

For 74 years the Old-Time Fiddlers's Convention has been held in Highfalls, in northern Moore County, NC. It is well-suited to the ampitheater type seating in the North Moore High School auditorium. I've heard about this convention for many years, and a few weeks ago it occurred to me that this would be the perfect year for me to participate.

Okay, when you think of bluegrass you think fiddle, bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and dobro. They had all of that. They also had some superb clogging talent. Performances by young talent and old pros, both individuals and groups, went on from 5:30 until 11:30.

I was quite pleased that this particular convention also had a piano category! YES!

Not being very familiar with the set-up, I arrived early and got registered. I didn't realize this meant I would actually perform very near the beginning, but I was glad. As it turned out, there was only one other adult piano entrant, and he played just a few minutes before me. He did very well, and I knew I had tough competition.

I played a medley of old-time favorites:

  • San Antonio Rose

  • Redwing

  • Down Yonder

  • Nobody's Sweetheart

  • Under the Double Eagle

  • 12th Street Rag

Fortunately, I did not play these songs on the piano pictured below. I was able to use the Yahama Grand--my instrument of choice!

I got an enthusiastic response from the crowd, especially on the last two songs, but at that time I didn't know there wouldn't be any more pianists. Late in the evening, I was pretty confident I would come in either first or second--DUH! And when the awards were finally announced at the end of the long but festive evening, I came in next-to-last. In this case, that was first place and a twenty-five dollar cash prize. I don't think I'll even have to report it to Uncle Sam!

I had a terrific time and have had potential songs for next year cycling through my mind ever since. Daddy had insisted I call him with the results no matter how late it was, and I woke him up a few minutes after midnight. He didn't mind--in fact, he said he'd like to be here for next year's convention. Don't know if that'll work out or not, but the Convention is always the second Saturday of March, which will be March 13, 2010. Maybe you'll join us!

Good Times on St. Paddy's Day

I celebrated St. Patrick's Day early and often. After hauling several station wagonloads of firewood from down in the "swamp" I played the piano at Moore Regional Hospital in the afternoon. Chipper accompanied me on the piano (in a way) and we both remembered the wearin' o' the green. Not that I think anyone would have pinched us!

Just as I was preparing to begin playing, a young lady came by, looked at Chipper, and remarked, "I dated a guy who looked like him once." ("Hmm. . . just once," I thought)

Judy and I were invited out for a nice Italian St. Patrick's Day dinner by this bunch of Steel Magnolias. What do these lovely ladies have in common? Pam, Beth, and Margie were my teacher assistants for the FINAL 10 YEARS of my career! Amazing that they'll still speak to me! They put up with a lot and became as close as family during our time together. This was Pam's brainstorm to help me celebrate my birthday a couple of days early (Hint: the last full day of winter this year). I am so thankful to have had friends like these to share my classroom and all the wonderful memories of those 10 years. And I'm even more thankful that we remain close friends.

Pam's husband Dennis and daughter Madison were also along for the festivities. Madison had recently won State honors in the Reflections art contest. She honored me with my own personal copy of her winning entry: the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with a river of raging rapids. I will always treasure it.

The birthday happens to coincide with UNC's first round NCAA ballgame with Radford College, so a victory should be a bonus present. And for Tywan Lawson to be healthy by then would be the icing on the cake--so to speak!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Birds and Such

I've had birds on my mind lately (even now, Amanda is thinking birdbrain). So, just for variety's sake, before I go off on basketball too much, let me share what can be observed from our dining room window.

I am not going to copy facts from my Peterson's Bird Guide. There are ample facts on the internet if you want to pursue that. But maybe you've seen some of these birds and didn't know what to call them. Maybe you don't care what they're called. Whatever. . . .

Below is the Tufted Titmouse. These are common around the feeder. We like to make remarks about their spiked hair. For them, every day is a bad hair day, but some are worse than others.
Below is a Towhee. It's named for the call it makes, but that doesn't help me pronounce it. Sorry. This one's a male. The female has more rust-colored sides. You may know that males of many bird species are more brightly colored than their mates to distract predators (personally, I think peacocks go a little too far with the concept). Besides dining on the feeder, Towhees like to scratch around beneath it on the ground. Looks like this one could skip a meal or two, like moi.
Here's the Brown-headed Nuthatch, which often flocks with chickadees and sparrows. This is the one about which Amanda joked in my post about a week ago, "Dad, I think you just described yourself."

There are other types of chickadee, but the Carolina Chickadee is our very own. They are cute, active, and have a fascinating flight pattern that the books describe as "undulating." Look it up if you're curious. But if you watch a chickadee, you won't need to look it up.

Nope, that character below is not a cardinal. It's a Purple Finch. There's also a Scarlet Finch in my bird books, but I haven't seen one. This one looks scarlet, but the people that name them call it purple, and who am I to question them? This birds popular cousin, the Goldfinch isn't seen as often around here, mainly because the thistle seeds and other specialty seeds that attract them are a bit pricey.Okay, here's the North Carolina state bird (and several other states), the Cardinal. If you don't know this one you are required to re-locate to South Carolina (not really, stop that sniveling). Cardinals are beautiful, showy, or gaudy, depending on your point of view. Their intelligence is also up for debate. Just watch them; you'll see what I mean. The males are very jealous. There might be several cardinals in the vicinity of the feeder, but it's rare to see them share it at the same time.

As a prelude to posting this blog, I brainstormed 18 birds we commonly see on our property, plus four more we have occasionally seen, including hawks. I bet you already know 10 or 15 common yardbirds (no offense, I'm not talking about your friends--that's yardapes). Watching them can be relaxing (okay, annoying for some people). If you actually want to attract them, it doesn't take much to lure them. If you have cats, hang your feeder at a safe height. Don't feel guilty if you like birds but don't want to fool with feeding them. All experts agree that birds don't really need our help to get enough food. Feeders are just our way of getting them in the locations where we want to observe them. Spring is coming and there will only be more and more aviary activity. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Tar Heels Survive Friday the 13th

Prediction: There will be more banners hanging in the Dean Dome after this season!

It could've been ugly. What am I saying? It WAS ugly. But somehow, even with ACC MVP Tywan Lawson, the Tar Heels persevered to hold off a determined, even desperate, Virginia Tech team. When I learned Tywan wasn't going to play, I felt that even winning one game in the ACC tournament would be a moral victory. Now I'm greedy. I really want to beat Florida State tomorrow. But it would be no disgrace to lose to any of the teams still standing in our ultra-tough league.

Speaking of Friday the 13th, I guess you noticed we just had one of those in February. In fact, do you realize that February and March are the only two months that can have a Friday the 13th consecutively, and that can't happen in leap year. Since it only happens when Feb. 1 is on a Sunday in a non-leap year, it doesn't happen very often at all. Maybe that's why I don't remember it. Well, there's more to life than basketball, so let's move on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ACC Tournament Time!

Yes, it's ACC time, but since UNC doesn't play until Friday, I've been pretty laid-back about it so far. The hardest part right now is waiting to see how quickly Tywan Lawson recovers from his foot injury. Not too many of my readers are bit sports fans, and those that are have better sources of sports news, so let me update on some other things.

Sunday was a pleasant day. Had a super church service at Manor Care Nursing Center, then came home to watch the Tar Heels give a basketball clinic to Duke (oops, how did I get back to basketball)?! Actually, Duke is scary good and that game could have gone either way. It will take some luck for the two teams to face again in the ACC championship. I predict it won't happen. We'll see.

Monday I attacked my woodpile with the splitter and ax-maul. Wednesday I finished up the logs that could humanly be split. The few remaining ones are twisted or gnarled so badly that each one will be a "project." If a hydraulic splitter can't handle them, I don't feel too bad if I have trouble. When one finally succumbs to my ax there is a slight euphoria.

Also on Monday I was able to arrange a survey of our front property line as a prelude to putting the old Loyd place on the market. Yup. You heard it here first! Except those of you who already knew. We hope to relocate not too far away by the time Brianna and Claire start kindergarten, I start drawing Social Security, and Daddy turns 100. We're not in a hurry.

Tuesday was one of those days we had to go to Chapel Hill, and we always find a way to make medical days more fun by doing something special. So on the way up we lunched at the General Store in Pittsboro. The rest of the day went smoothly, and we don't have to go back until. . . uh, Monday. But this is the time of year Chapel Hill is more lovely with each passing day. Even the weather report is improving, but we have no control over that.

Moving on to Wednesday, besides finishing most of that woodpile, I got a haircut at Eastwood. I met my barber's grandfather who grew up on a tobacco farm in Mount Airy. He had some good tales. Maybe he'd been drinking some of that hair tonic.

From there I headed to the hospital to play the piano in the lobby for awhile. A man who volunteers there had been wanting me to learn a Big Band song called "Moonglow." I finally found the music and learned it, and after I played it for him he told me why it was special to him. Years ago when he worked in New York, he and his wife would drive over into Canada to a dance hall they knew about. "Moonglow" was always the last song the band played before calling it a night. I love stories like that. He also said the Andrews Sisters had made a big hit with that song.

Today I got outside early to clean up the area where I've been sawing and splitting that mammoth white oak tree. I must have raked up at least three bushels of wood chips and sawdust! But finally I can drive through that space to begin the process of hauling wood I piled up down in "the swamp" last fall.

Thelma joined us for lunch today and Amanda will be coming tomorrow. Judy and I love having the leisure to have these special mid-day events. We may go non-stop with grocery shopping, wood cutting, or chores, but that intentional noon slow-down is food for the spirit as well as the tummy! What a pity our American work ethic assigns guilt to any thought of relaxing until a full eight hour day is registered. I don't want to segue into an upcoming blog post, but I will always believe that the time I spent reading great literature to my students after lunch was some of the best time of each day. It refreshed the students and made any activity that followed more productive. More on that soon.

Well, two games of the tournament are history. UNC will play a dangerous Virginia Tech team tomorrow (Friday) at noon. Right now Judy and I will cheer on the N.C. State Wolfpack--since they're not playing our Tar Heels!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Silents Are Golden

For my editors out there, the title is not in error, it was the topic of a fun evening at the Senior Center last night. Tim Lussier, silent film aficionado and Moore County Schools Information Officer was our Master of Ceremonies. As he played over 90 minutes of the greatest moments of the silent screen, he regaled us with trivia about the production, history, and stars of that era. Ever since I took classes in Radio, TV, and Motion Pictures at Chapel Hill, I've had a deeper appreciation for the art of these silent films. Actors had to be highly expressive without benefit of talking.

Tim covered every genre. Let's begin with comedy. The Keystone Kops, below, were the consummate slapstick artists. There was nothing serious in their episodes. Nevertheless, they were innovative and performed daredevil stunts for their audiences.

Harold Lloyd (no relation) brought stunts and comedy to a new "height." We were told that the actual background was live street scenes of Los Angeles.

I have seen the feature-length Buster Keaton classic "The General." Not only is it a good tale, in part it's based on the true highjacking of the locomotive of the same name in the famed Andrews Raid during the Civil War. The entire historic chase took place between Atlanta and the Tennessee state line and makes fascinating reading. There was little comedy associated with the actual event, but Keaton masterfully mixes comedy and drama. How did he get himself into some of these fixes!?

Charlie Chaplin is still my favorite of the silent comics. He has been imitated for generations by comics, and probably always will be. The following two shots are from "The Gold Rush." I have a video of this classic and most years at school I would show it for a special treat when snow was in the forecast. I didn't do it just for entertainment, but also as a historical lesson. I called it a trip back in time, and set the stage by describing how earlier generations had to watch movies differently than us. Since Viewing is one of the five language arts we teach (Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Viewing) I wanted my students to be aware of how they view things. Multi-tasking may be fine for some activities, but watching silent movies took a lot more focus than watching "talkies." If you don't watch or pay attention to the sub-titles you will miss crucial points in the story line. In that sense, silent films were more active than passive, compared to modern cinema and television.

Even in the comedies, high drama began to be at a premium. There was great pathos in Charlie's secret love of "Georgia," a dance hall girl. She pretended to like him to make her brute of a boyfriend jealous, but in the end. . . .

Well, since most of you aren't likely to go out and rent "The Gold Rush", here's the spoiler:

Charlie strikes it rich and gets his girl! But it's sweet, because she realizes she loves him BEFORE she finds out he's a millionaire, so he knows she loves him for himself.

Even horror found silent films to be an effective medium. Below is Lon Chaney, "Man of 1,000 Faces," starring in the original "Phantom of the Opera." It is said that audiences were truly terrified, and sometimes went screaming from the theaters.

The characters were larger than life; admired or despised, loved or hated. One example of Tim's trivia: actress Theda Bara's name was an anagram for "Death Arab." No surprise that she was in the "Sheik" movies! (Not Shrek)
Silent films reigned for some thirty years, but were doomed by talkies, which opened up whole new possibilities. But as one star of silent films lamented, it was the end of "the universal language." For truly, with the exception of the sparse sub-titles, people of all nations could generally make sense of any silent movie. That was a tribute to the skills and diligence of these pioneers of moving pictures.

I asked Daddy if he had been to any silent movies in Atlanta as a boy. He was born in 1914 and these movies were prevalent until about 1930. He had never mentioned it before, but when I brought it up he recalled Mama and Papa Loyd taking him to downtown Atlanta on two occasions to see silent movies. He remembered the subtitles, and that one of the movies was about the Bible. Tim Lussier mentioned that years before Charlton Heston was Moses in "The Ten Commandments" there was a silent version by the same title. When I told Daddy, he was fairly sure that was the one he saw.

I'm happy to report that our local Sunrise Theater will be featuring some silent movie classics from time to time (credit Tim Lussier). You can also search the internet of course or visit if you would like to learn more. If you'd like to come over to watch "The Gold Rush" some time, let me know.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes. . . ."

One of the most memorable elements of Mama’s funeral service was a litany of her favorite Bible verses read by her two pastors. The Reverend Dr. Royeese Stowe was Mama’s senior pastor and had gotten to know her and Daddy well since coming to Chamblee Methodist two years ago. Associate Pastor Jordan Thrasher had likewise developed a warm friendship with my parents during his short time there. The heartfelt love expressed by Roy and Jordan, and the fact that they had gotten to know Mama much more closely than most of her pastors in recent years, made their words both comforting and uplifting. I was deeply impressed that they chose to read all scriptures from the King James version, little heard in Methodist circles for decades. This special touch was a tribute to the way Mama would have heard the verses as a child and young woman. As Roy implied, modern translations are fine for meaning, but for the exquisite poetry of the Psalms, nothing beats the King James.

As I listened to the words again that day I thought of the powerful truths they imparted. And they weren’t just for us. We have also lost an aunt and two uncles in the last 13 months, one just days before Mama’s death. Their families were there, and I know we all shared many of the same thoughts this day.

Here are just a few of the verses shared that day.
  • Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1: 1-2)
  • Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19: 14)
  • The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they who dwell therein. (Psalm 24: 1)
  • God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. (Psalm 46: 1-2)
  • God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. (Psalm 67: 1-2)
  • I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121: 1-2)

    Those are only excerpts, but here is the 100th Psalm in its entirety:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord, he is God; it is he who hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations.

Here are several familiar and powerful verses from Philippians, chapter 4, probably Mama’s favorite Bible chapter of all.

  • Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice.
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
  • I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.
  • I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.
  • My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    These weren’t just words to Mama, they were her daily practice, even to the end.

    Pastor Roy saved the beloved 23rd Psalm for the graveside. You may have it memorized, but if not, here it is (so you don’t have to go searching for your King James)!

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
    he leadeth me beside the still waters.
    He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

    All of these truths, spoken in the midst of much loved friends and family, made it a little easier to say goodbye to Mama. Especially since one day I’ll get to greet her with “Hello” once again!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Odds and Ends

Don't worry. The title doesn't allude to more colonoscopy jokes. But this post will include a few brief news items.

Today, March 3, is the second anniversary of Judy's successful liver transplant. We will be celebrating with a night out with our family tonight. Below are some lovely flowers Jack and Thelma placed in church Sunday. One arrangement is in memory of Judy's Grandma McKenzie and the other is in honor of and thansgiving for Judy's successful transplant. Any of you who see Judy know how well she is doing. Ready for biking, hiking, and gardening!

Saturday, Judy and I attended a gardening workshop at the Pinehurst Village Hall. Ag Extension Agent Taylor Williams presented an informative and entertaining session called "Hindering Hoodlums and Helping Heroes." We picked up several helpful hints. We already lean toward organic gardening, and that was part of his emphasis. He stressed that many garden insects are helpful, and that's why folks should be cautious about general pesticides. In fact, one reason honeybee populations are in distress is because people inadvertently poison them when they spray plants during blooming. He showed us that even plant lovers can do much harm through ignorance (even more through stupidity, I might add). His slide show and clever captions kept the audience attentive--and the Pinehurst crowd is very demanding!
For several weeks Judy and I have been working intermittently on a 600 piece puzzle of 80 old-time Hollywood stars. The hard part was there was no photo to go by. We finished it off Monday morning (our snow day), agreeing that it was the hardest puzzle we had done. We have a few good ones waiting in the wings, collected cheaply from thrift shops and library sales.

The third snow of the season did not rate top billing, but we were glad to get it anyway. We peeked outside at 2:15 a.m. Monday morning and saw a light layer across our yard, but it must not have snowed much more after that. Still, Judy fixed a breakfast of eggs, toast, and sausage that was much more impressive than the snow!
I'm still behind on blogging, but aiming for 2 or 3 times a week. Thanks for visiting, O Faithful Readers.