Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Joyful Season

December is always a happy, busy time for me.
And of course, for my sidekick, Chipper.  A lot
of our "business" involves music, but the Christmas
cheer covers a wide spectrum of activity both at
home and throughout the community.  Here's a peek.

Chipper assists me in all my musical programs during the
month. Five nursing facility singalongs and worship services,
seasonal music at the hospital outpatient lobby, and more.

My friends at First Health make the season bright.

For the umpteenth year in a row, I got to celebrate
with the kids at Watch Me Grow Pre-school. Kids
love the songs with motions.

Three French Hens . . .

Five golden r-i-n-g-s . . .

A loving bunch of kids.

Christmas at the Weymouth Center has been part of
my holiday regimen for a while now.  Below are a few
shots of the Boyd House in its seasonal splendor.

Two of my fellow pianists perform an hour of duets
before my time to play.

Of course, a huge chunk of the Christmas
fun occurs right at home at the Loyd place,
especially when the grandchildren come.

Bri and Hunter decorate the redbud tree at the back gate.

Then they decorate the gumdrop tree.

Time to play a game we invented last year. "Elves"
must deliver "gifts" to Santa at the North Pole.

Not as easy to find the North Pole as you might think.
You have to follow orange cones that mark a trail, and
it can lead anywhere on our 10 acre property.
Bri takes a side trip to walk up the trunk of this fallen pine.

With the "gifts" successfully delivered (we played the
game four times!), the children turn to the tire swings.

Is Grandma waiting for her turn?

It's Claire and Evan's turn to decorate the crape myrtle
tree out front this year.

Every ornament is placed with the care
of an artist.

Then they are ready for their turn at the North Pole game.

When the elves arrive at the North Pole, they have to
toss the gifts into Santa's Toy Box.

After the game, Claire heads into her beloved dogwood tree.

Evan diligently starts to dig a hole, which is actually
going to be a trap.  He covers it with sticks and leaves,
waiting for an unsuspecting victim to step in.

You guessed it.  He nabbed Big Foot!

I've been cleaning out the attic in the garage, and all
the kids have climbed up there, with both a ladder and
the disappearing stairway (they love the sound of that).
Makes me think of a good story-- "The Mystery in
the Old Attic."

Bri performs a little dancing act with this mountain
craft character named Limberjack.

Hunter explores the virtual advent character a dear
friend shares with us each Christmas.  All four of the
grandkids play with these activities year round.

The indoor fun includes setting up our own Christmas
train and enjoying our folding books.

This past Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, we got to
see all of the kids in three different Christmas programs.
Bri and Hunter were a shepherd and an angel.
Claire sang and recited with real joy.
We loved her song of the American Indians.

Evan was the all-important Letter X!
His version of "Mary, Did You Know" would bring
tears to your eyes.  I want to hear it again!
I'm sure he'll sing it for me if I ask!

Not all the fun is at our house, I must admit.
Let me give a little publicity to a jewel in 
our community.  Part of the historic cabin at
the Woman's Exchange is the former kitchen
from the McKenzie family homeplace.

James Tufts, founder of Pinehurst in 1895,
purchased that cabin from Judy's great-
grandparents and moved it to its current
location.  For many years, Judy's great-
grandmother demonstrated weaving for
crowds of onlookers.

A new attraction in the Sandhills is on 
Highway 5 in Pinehurst, courtesy of the
Aberdeen, Carolina & Western Railway.

Look close at that engineer.

So the Sandhills now has our own Polar Express.

Ho, Ho, Ho!
 I can't forget to mention the spot where some
of my most favorite Christmas moments come,
my church-- Beulah Hill Baptist.  This Sunday
will top off a wonderful month of Christmas
sermons, music, and worship.

I hope you will be blessed, not stressed by
the activities of the Christmas season, as we
celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
You can celebrate whether you are in church, 
at home, or in the community. But celebrate!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Biking the New River Trail, Part Two

Let's continue on down the New River Trail.
If you missed part one of this adventure, turn
your bike around and find it.

This level stretch is characteristic of much of
the trail, which follows an abandoned railroad
bed.  This is why the trail is ideal for bikers
of all ages who don't necessarily have to be
in great shape.

It was a beautiful day for a bike tour.  In
fact, it was about the only day in the last
ten that was perfect.

Something big is ahead in the distance.

We'll get there, but some trailside sights
delay us.

Note the honeybee.

Here we are at the Hiwassee trestle.
Several different views follow.


Here we say goodbye to the Claytor Lake
portion of the trail.

Lots of ancient rock formations, cut through
by the original railroad.

Highway 10 is now between us and the
still-wide river.

The quaint station house at Allisonia means
we're nearing our turn-around point.

This is one of the occasional glimpses of
civilization we encounter.

All aboard!  Bikes now leaving Allisonia!

We rode through a few  leaf showers that
began to paint the trail.

At last we come to Big Reed trestle.

Big Reed gets its name from this broad,
expansive field of reeds which are well-
watered by the flooding of the New River.

The LAST bridge.  Whew!
Except we have to cross them all again
on the seven mile trek back.

This auto-shot is a little blurry.
Or maybe it was just us.

As we pedaled back, tired and sore, the
mile posts became our most welcome sight.
We had started at Draper, the 6.2 mile point
of the trail, and turned around at Big Reed
Trestle, the 13.2 mile point.

Every landmark we passed was a little 
closer to "home."

As a collector, I couldn't help but notice
this odd collection of concrete pilings a
neighbor of the trail had compiled.  Don't
call me odd!

We had seen (and dodged) numerous black
walnuts along the trail.

And there were chestnuts, too.  Ain't it a beauty?

Nearing Draper, and plenty of daylight left.

Milepost 7 would be the last one before Draper.

As close as we were to the finish line, I had
to stop to photograph the handiwork of a
leaf-cutter insect.

Draper Station!  We made it!

What a great ride on a beautiful day.  We'll
no doubt return to ride other sections of our
beloved New River Trail, including places
like Galax, Fries, Shot Tower, and Foster Falls.
No doubt we'll either be found at Grassy Creek
Cabooses or Trinkle Mansion B&B, both 
great places!
Make sure you've seen all four of my blog
posts covering this fun trip.  Happy trails!