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.

Hearty, Healthy Home Action

Favorable weather has had us more outside
than inside with the kids lately.
You name it, we did it.

The old standard Sit'n'Spins are still a hit
with Bri and Hunter.

The new ramp is a little bumpy for riding
these scooters, but worth a try.

Now here's a new twist.  The Easter bunny
has three tiny babies-- and the dinosaurs are
determined to eat them for a snack. Don't
worry, there's always a happy ending.

Bri tries out the new Tarzan rope swing.
I've made an improvement since then that
she'll like even better.

A new favorite game is "Call It," which is
probably not familiar to any or many of my
readers.  Amanda and I played this game more
than 20 years ago and loved it.  The kids have
picked it up quickly. I think I'll do a separate 
blog about this game soon.
And by the way, they're teaching Judy to play.

Less than 24 hours later, we had a new
attraction-- a double trapeze. (Bri and Hunter
will see it tomorrow)  Evan demonstrates.

A real leg-stretcher.

It's okay to relax, but don't let go.

An old blender with the cutting apparatus
removed is fine for the sand pile. Many a
smoothie was concocted this day.

Sorry, Grandpa.  You can't have a basketball.
I've barely got enough for myself.
(Just kidding-- Evan always insists on sharing!)

Evan invites Claire to try out the new trapeze.
She's a natural.  And he can't help but get in
 on the act.

Why is it kids would rather be upside down
than right-side up?

I could always just turn my camera upside down.

Claire falls in love with the Tarzan swing.
She tries it out with the new foot support
and swings back and forth across the ravine.

As the kids near the weight limit for a 
bike seat, I invite them to ride around the
yard with Grandpa.  This requires a high
degree of trust. But Evan accepts.

So does Claire.  Bri also rode it last week
but I failed to get a picture.  Bri and Hunter
have another chance this week.

Like Evan, I'm just hangin' around waiting
for the kids to come back-- and it won't be long!