Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow in the Sandhills?

Yes, it does snow in North Carolina's Sandhills.  Not too often, and not too much, generally.  But our "welcome mat" is always out for any visitation by the white stuff.

Our snow didn't begin until after midnight Saturday, so technically we didn't have even a smidgen of a white Christmas.  But that worked out so much better for our holiday plans we didn't bemoan that fact.

And because our snow came a day "late," these grateful birds were able to enjoy a sheltered meal at the window bird feeder that Judy gave me for Christmas.  The little sparrows and titmice have kept it busy constantly.

Our other feeder was popular, too, hosting as many as four or five birds at a time.  Sparrows, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and doves.  Soon Brianna and Claire will be perching on the inside with me looking at these happy birds on the outside.  I can't wait.

A healthy dose of snow provides the contrast that many of us in the south love.  We figure, if it's got to be cold, we might as well enjoy the snow.  Three bags of sand are designated for a new sandpile next spring for the grandbabies.  Sand is the white stuff our area is much more commonly known for than snow.

Kitty Cat's perch, the flower pot on top of this white oak trunk, will be inaccessible for at least a few days.  Although Kitty Cat loves the snow, I don't think it makes a suitable bed for him.  And that trunk will probably become firewood by next winter.

At the edge of our field you can see the menagerie created by the countless flakes adorning our new-growth forest.

Amazing how snow can transform any scene into a wintery Christmas card image.

We've enjoyed little "tunnels" around the property.  The children love to go through them in the strollers on our rambles.  The snow gives them an ethereal look.  No matter how sheltered the branches and vines make it appear, you can see an ample carpeting of the powdery flakes filtered through.

This longleaf pine branch is bent low by the snow's weight at the top of our driveway.  It would have given the top of our car a sweeping-- if  we had needed to go anywhere this day, which we didn't.

The swing set is something else that will remain dormant for a while.  I predict it will be doubly appreciated by the children after some time off.  If the current forecast of temperatures as high as 60 comes true, we may not have as long a lay-off as we thought.  But winter's far from over, that's certain.

We had taken a long morning walk and about 4:00 I asked Judy is she wanted to venture down to the stream at the back of our property.  We decided it would only be colder the next day, so we bundled up in our now-dry apparel and trudged off.  This is Judy, though with only a few square inches of face exposed, you'll have to take my word for it.  Just a couple of steps behind her, an icy stream tinkled like a gently swaying chandelier.  If something can sound cold, this did.

Judy obliged me by taking a picture of me, as well.  A cross between Frosty and the Michelin Man, but I'm thankful for these clothes that effectively keep out the cold.  (I don't know why we feel we must take pictures of ourselves, as if to prove we were really there.  Obviously, somebody took these pictures.)

We're nearing the end of this little tour.  I hope you dared to venture out in your neighborhood for a little firsthand appreciation of the snow.  How else will you harvest some for snowcream (yes, Judy made us a delicious batch)?  This is Judy's prayer garden, with swing, chiminea, birdbath, and all on temporary sabbattical.  But we'll be out there again before you know it.  Only the birds braved it on this winter day.

Yes, snow sometimes visits us, even in the Sandhills.  The land of the longleaf pine instantly acquires a new and wondrous majesty.  This year, 2010, the visitation was a most special gift from God.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guilty Plea Entered

Today Ken Loyd entered a plea of "Guilty"  to not having blogged during the entire month of December (as of this writing).  This crime is only an internet misdemeanor in North Carolina, but can cause substantial damage to a blogger's credibility.

Loyd attempted to sway legal officials with a litany of excuses:
  • "I was in Atlanta!" (hence, no computer available)
  • "We were babysitting." (more fun than blogging)
  • "I was sending out dozens of Christmas cards." (Yes, I DO know that many people!)
  • "We were decorating for Christmas."  (yes, every waking hour since December 1!)

The chief prosecutor was unsympathetic, rattling off his counter-arguments without hesitation:
"Loyd should have been able to persuade his brother in Atlanta to spring for a decent computer and internet service by now.  And according to copies of his previous blogs that were subpoenaed, those grandbabies are smart enough to be writing the blogs for him at this juncture.  The excuse about cards was considered laughable by the court.  "NO ONE sends Christmas cards any more," they said.  "At least not like the one you sent the judge (an ill-considered joke about fruitcake serving as a doorstop).  And last of all, eye-witness observers cast doubt on Loyd's claim about hours spent decorating.  He was spotted hastily harvesting a somewhat pitiful "Charlie Brown" tree from beside his own driveway.  The same tree allegedly was visible through two windows shortly later.  His fence was carelessly slung with shabby plastic greenery and half-burned-out strings of lights.  The entire process could have been done by any reasonably competent person in one to two hours.  'The old place has never been a showcase, certainly not this year," one anonymous neighbor vented.  "Sort of reflects poorly on all Murdocksville."

Loyd received a suspended sentence upon promise of future blogging, a minimum of ONE before year's end, to be followed by others in a timely manner, at least some of which will be required to contain current grandbaby photos in addition to captions meeting or exceeding previous standards. 

Loyd was duly penitent and grateful for another chance.  "It could have been worse for me," he admitted.  "In early December I thought about reposting blogs from two or three years ago, when I only had four or five readers.  I could have shown old pictures of trips to Morrow Mountain, family get-togethers, old Christmas trees.  The casual reader wouldn't have noticed the repeats.  It wasn't integrity that stopped me-- I knew I could never explain the absence of babies in the pictures.  But things have a way of working out.  The court could have thrown the book at me.  Instead, I came clean and will have a chance to refurbish my somewhat sullied reputation as a prolific blogger.  I just don't know what I will blog about next.  But something will come to mind."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

If you've read my last two blog posts, you will know that Thanksgiving Day would just be the culmination of an already stupendous week.  And that's what it was.

Special of the day was babies, babies, and more babies-- five in all.  Two Talberts, two Kirbys, and the one on the right is cousin Reid.  Does Grandaddy look a little proud?
And Claire wonders, "If Reid is our second cousin, does that make me and Bri first and third, and Hunter and Evan fourth and fifth?  I'm confused."

As all the young ones have come along, the older ones are still growing, too.  Emma may be a Short, but she didn't get the "short" gene.  Amanda doesn't care if Emma passes her.

First thing I knew, Brianna had Grandma, Great Grandaddy, and Aunt Jennifer from Georgia playing her favorite game-- Ring Around the Rosie.

Brianna: "No, silly.  Don't you know the leader doesn't have to fall down?"

Claire puts us older folks to shame by sweeping with not one, but two brooms.  But it is easier to see the dirt when you're closer to it.  Come over and help us sweep anytime, Claire.  Or just play!

Three week-old Evan says, "Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.  But I can't even have Gerber turkey yet!"

Grandpa and Amanda show off our two newest arrivals, Evan (left) and Hunter (right).  Next year they'll be rambling around the church fellowship hall like their big sisters.  And who knows what the big sisters will be up to by then!

Little Reid is just on the verge of walking, but he was all over the fellowship hall with his big smile.
"Doesn't anybody want to play hide-and-seek?" he asks.

Grandmas Leila and Judy say, "Girls, let's give everybody a big hand for preparing this wonderful Thankgiving dinner." 
And most of all, we thank God for allowing our family to share this time together.
Truly, we can hardly begin to count our blessings.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Fine Fall Day

Although we see Claire and Brianna every week, it's not as often that we keep them at the same time.  The Tuesday before Thanksgiving was one such day, and it was pure joy to play with them or just watch them explore things, both indoors and out.

We've always thought there was no better toy than a large box.  Claire is searching for the secret door while Brianna waits for Claire to find her.  To be continued . . . .

"Thanks for the lift, Claire.  I think I'll walk the rest of the way."

"Have Graham cracker, will travel.  Yee-haa!"

"So that's where those mysterious noises were coming from!"

"No, I don't have a license, but I've had my shots.  Why?"

For Claire, music and sports go together.  You won't often see her with nothing in her hands.

This was the first day we tried out our new double stroller (yard sale, of course).  The girls loved it.
Here, Brianna is trying to disable the restraint system.

"Hmm.  I think I can pick this lock.  Just a simple mechanism, but oh, so devious."

Here's an unplanned four generation picture: Claire (in the swing), Judy, Jennifer, and Great Grandma Thelma.  Brianna says, "Hey, don't forget me!" (No, we won't)

Claire says, "Hey, these Graham crackers go great with swinging, too."

Three real swingers.  And the boys will be swinging, too, before you know it.

"Would you like these eggs sunny-side up?  Or just hard-boiled?"

Claire and Brianna try out a Sit-and-Spin, which was probably their mothers's favorite toy 25+ years ago.  Jennifer and Amanda could really fly, either together or solo.  These girls will, too, in a few more months.

New feature: Pick Your Own Caption
Option 1: "So maybe I do drink and drive.  But I'm not texting, am I?
Option 2: "One thing I can't stand is a tail-gater-- gimme a break!"
Option 3: "No wonder I'm not getting anywhere-- this contraption only has one wheel!"

Next blog:  Thanksgiving Day, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Week of Thanksgiving Begins at Morrow Mountain

Just one week ago, I was all caught up on my blog.  Pictures of all 4 grandchildren were up to date.  Well, not any more.  It's been a glorious week.  This is the first of three blog posts covering what happened from last Saturday through Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday Judy and I joined Amanda and Stephen and kids for a few hours at Morrow Mountain State Park.  The weather was even more perfect and the leaves more striking than when Judy and I had gone up there early in November.  Amanda's blog has many more pictures you'll enjoy.  (click that last phrase for the link)

We drove straight to the mountaintop and started with a picnic lunch.

Brianna was in heaven.  We eventually gave her more than baby carrots, but she was quite content with them for a while.

Brianna was in awe of the leaves and wide open spaces.  Amanda did her usual masterful job of chronicling occasions like this.  But she couldn't escape Grandpaparazzi!

At the bottom of the mountain we strolled on and around the pier at Lake Tillery.
Stephen tells Bri, "I carried you down; now you carry me up."

Grandma cautions, "Now Brianna, just remember when you read about Jesus walking on water, that doesn't mean you should try it.

Brianna's a good big sister.  "Hunter, I'll hold you, and Grandma, you hold both of us."

"Oh Grandma, you've just got to see the view from down here!"

Hunter says, "I know the Bible says 'We shall all be changed' . . .
but in the trunk of a CAR?"

It's not often you'll see Amanda without one of the children along for the ride.  But don't worry, she's got an eye on them.  Right now she's more concerned about Stephen and Grandpa.

"Hunter, I've already told your sister this offer, but if your folks don't treat you right, we'll just move up here to a little house in the big woods.  OK?"

Brianna just loved dropping stones in the water, ker-plunk!
I didn't realize until I read Amanda's blog that Bri must have been wondering how the rocks disappeared.

"Grandma, why is one of your arms getting longer than the other one?"

Grandpa's highlight of the day was toting this precious cargo on the mountaintop trail.  Grandma had the idea of bumping knuckles against trees as we passed them.  Bri, the trees, and Grandpa all had a fine time.

Next post you'll see what a fun time Judy and I had keeping Brianna and Claire together last Tuesday.  Don't miss it!