Friday, August 28, 2009

Move Over, It's Claire's Time to Shine!

Okay, everybody. Brianna had her blog post yesterday. Now it's Claire's turn. She had her two-month doctor's visit this past week--including shots! (She'll actually be two months old next Wednesday). She's surpassed 11 pounds and the folks who call themselves "family" seem to meet with her approval.

Great Grandma Thelma will hold her just as long as the law allows. And that's just fine with Claire.

Great Granddaddy had a bigger treat than his birthday cake last Sunday--getting to feed Claire her bottle.Daddy (Matt) makes a comfortable lounge chair. Us long-legged guys do have an advantage here.
"Hey, everybody-- I've just learned to whistle 'Dixie'!"
Claire loves music. "Yore cheat-in' heart-- will tell on you. . . ."
Or if you prefer: "It's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go!""Okay, my mouth is open. Aren't you supposed to stick something in it?"
Mommy (Jennifer) multi-tasks, gleaning smart household hints from Real Simple while providing a perfect place of repose for Claire. Can't risk doing household chores now-- might wake the baby!
"Grandma, at least you understand me. Life can be SO hard sometimes. When you can't talk."
Grandpa says, "I don't care if you sleep the whole time--the main thing is, I've GOT you!"

"Well, Mommy, I like 'em fine, but I still think I'd rather live with you and Daddy."

"But play it smart or I'm liable to hit the road."
"I happen to know Grandma's got a thing for me and would take me in in a heartbeat."

"Even though she'd still have to share me. Sometimes."

"Claire, there probably won't be many times in your life you lie still this long!"
"Grandpa, all that means is, you haven't messed up yet."

"I don't get tired of this. I'm sure you'll let me know when you do."
"This 'human hammock' is somewhat conducive to sleep. Is it time for one of my morning naps?"
"No reason we can't both be comfortable, is there?" (See what I mean about us long-legged guys?)
"Ah, the benefits of meditation. Hope you didn't have anything you needed to do, Grandpa. I must not be disturbed."

"WHAT?! Who says it's time to go home?"
"Don't worry, Claire," Grandma says soothingly. "Sometimes the process of actually leaving can take a long time."
Three generations of All-American Girls.

"Okay, you guys. One more picture and let's call it a day. Or at least a morning."
I hope you enjoy the video below. See if you can identify these phases:
  • Contented sucking
  • Playing the piano
  • Directing the orchestra
  • Napoleon complex

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brianna at Four Months and Counting (not her!)

Brianna Mae Talbert is now more than four months old, and she is developing new skills with every passing week. Recently she practiced flying (well, soaring, at least) with Mommy (Amanda).

She's also becoming quite proficient at inserting most of her fist into her mouth. Hmm. . . . Now that I think of it, she was also making that hand-to-mouth move in the picture above. Could this be related to her ability to fly?

Grandpa Ken found that Brianna can be quite content just lying on the couch communing (okay, staring).
Well, let's be honest. Who's having more fun here?

Grandpa is notorious for clumsily allowing Brianna's pacifier to fall to the floor, so Bri finds that his ring finger is a succulent substitute that can't be dropped.

Grandma introduces an attentive Brianna to a girl's best friend.

"No, not the puppy dog-- that's man's best friend. It's the TELEPHONE, of course!"
Naturally, we don't know how humans will be communicating by the time Bri says her first words. But somebody has to teach this younger generation about rotary phones (so they'll understand old movies).

After us BIG people enjoyed a wonderful lunch, and Brianna had a snack, Amanda set the stage for Brianna's new trick-- rolling from back to tummy.
Step 1: Begin reading "The Eency Weency Spider" (or is "Itsy Bitsy")

Step 2: Continue reading, moving to the side. Baby's eyes will follow.
Step 3: Continue to engage baby laterally.
"Forget the book. What's Grandpa doing behind me with that little metallic object that occasionally makes a bright flash?"
Step 4: Voila!

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Brianna's investigation just results in a harmless reversal of position-- to her tummy. How long will she stay there?

"Listen folks, it's not easy to do this move gracefully. Now I'll nonchalantly study the quilt pattern while I try to figure how to get out of this awkward situation."

"Well, lo and behold. There's that spider book. How does it keep moving from place to place. For that matter, how do I?"
By no means was this the end of today's explorations.
"Hmm. I've heard of Bigfoot, but didn't know he was a relative."

"Maybe, just maybe, this is an escape route. Now, if I just knew how to crawl."
"Excuse me Mr. Puppy Dog, but is this Oz, Wonderland, or Narnia?"
It's hard to let Amanda and Brianna leave today. Judy and I try every trick to extend the visit. We are successful.
"Let's have one more good slurp on that finger, Grandpa."
"We are not picking my nose, no matter what is looks like."

"As far as I can tell, they're all the same flavor."

Now, take a couple of minutes to see Brianna in action. First view "Brianna enjoys a Slurpee," then "What to Do AFTER a Successful Roll-over."

In my next blog post, cousin Claire Devon Kirby gets equal time. See you then!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

200th Blog Post: The Cradle of Forestry in America

On Thursday, the last full day of our mountain trip, we filled the hours from late morning to late afternoon on an 11 mile stretch of Highway 276. This road connects Brevard with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We made several stops along our way. We stopped at a shady recreation area beside the Davidson River just after starting up the winding route. A short distance further we pulled into the Pisgah National Forest Ranger Station. We saw an excellent video presentation, glanced at several nice displays, took a last break before heading up, up, up.

Ahead lay magnificent Looking Glass Falls. Numerous cars had pulled off on the roadside, so there was a good crowd of tourists.

No water shortage here.

We didn't come prepared to swim, but a lot of folks did.

Judy counted 89 steps from the viewing overlook down to the base of the falls. And I have no reason to think she fibbed.

I had spotted an older couple 50 yards up the road from the main overlook and my curiosity led me to investigate. I was rewarded with this unobstructed view.

A few miles further was our main destination for the afternoon. Once known simply as the Cradle of Forestry in America, the title Forestry Discovery Center has been added in recent years.
The new, expanded name is certainly descriptive. Judy and I found beaucoups things to discover. Like this Forest Service quilt.
In the indoor museum of forestry, this mannequin paused long enough from his labor for this picture.

Why is it called the Cradle of Forestry, anyway? Well, in 1898, Dr. Carl Schenck was brought from Germany to lead the Biltmore Forestry School. Its task was to make forest products profitable for the Vanderbilts, and to train young men in the rigorous and demanding skills of the forester.
We enjoyed an exhibit about the dangers of forest fires (only YOU can prevent them)!
A pleasant lady ranger directed us into this "helicopter," where a combination of sound effects, realistic vibration, and a video of an actual forest fire through the front of the canopy helped recreate what these brave fire-fighting pilots must go through.

We then embarked on the first of two educational trails, about an hour's walk each. Most stops on the Biltmore Campus Trail had buttons to push for a narrative account and informative details. This is a "Black Forest Lodge," based on those that were still common in nineteenth century Europe.
This schoolhouse was the site of full mornings of indoor instruction for Dr. Schenck's rugged but eager apprentices. Then their afternoons were spent "in the field," on horseback, learning their trade.

Both parts of their education were vital. The practical application of what they learned here involved forest management, tree propogation, surveying, road building, and much more.
There was a commisary, or camp store, to supply basic needs.
I thought you might enjoy some of these vintage patent medicine signs--if you haven't already seen replicas in Cracker Barrel.
Comstock's Dead Shot Worm Pellets. . . .

Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills. Doesn't say what they're good for-- probably "whatever ails ya."
I guess for any old-timer who loved his huntin' dog, this was a good endorsement for chewing tobacco.

We had a bunch of outhouses at Camp Cherokee, so this was a familiar sight to me. Some of ours were called India, China, Little Illahee, and Little Chigger. The one facility with flush toilets was called 'Beria. It was once Siberia, but somewhere in the distant past part of the sign must've rotted off or been removed by a camp prankster.
We enjoyed examining the articles in the blacksmith shop.
The wash place consisted of a fire, a pot, strong soap, and a place to hang the clean clothes. I was familiar with Octagon soap from my Camp Cherokee days. Following campouts or "Indian Day" (which had us chasing like savages through brush and briars) we soaped up all over with Octagon. Then the secret was to sit on the dock until the soap was so dry it would crack when you bent your arm or leg. Only then did we scrub it off. This powerful stuff removed any trace of dirt, blood, poison ivy, or other foreign substances along with that top layer of skin you were just getting accustomed to. Very effective, though.
This is the way Judy's Grandma McKenzie washed the family clothes. And that wasn't so many decades ago!No clothesline needed. We wondered if they bothered to clean the fence, though.

The second trail was the Forest Festival Trail and highlighted some of the equipment and practical application of forestry.
This steam engine powered a portable sawmill which could be taken down and relocated fairly quickly by a knowledgeable crew.

It was interesting to see how the engine, pulley system, and log carriage all worked in harmony. It must have been some display. It made me think of the Perils of Pauline or Mighty Mouse speeding to rescue a lovely lady mouse from the sharp saw blade of a sawmill. I cringe to think about it!

This specially designed Climax locomotive was geared for heavy-duty mountain work. Trains hauled untold loads of timber from these mountains on railroads built by Vanderbilt and other entrepreneurs. When we camped at Courthouse Creek we were always thrilled to find old spikes in rotting moss-covered timbers. Things like that always carry my mind back to times I can only imagine. . . not that there's anything wrong with that.
Judy waves goodbye, but the truth is, the track ends about 15 feet ahead.
I'm not going anywhere either. Are there still kids that would like to have one of these locomotives in their own backyard? I hope so.
I know it's supposed to be bad luck to stand under a ladder, but standing under a trestle is only bad luck if it falls. With OR without a train on it.
This stone foundation and chimney of an old farmhouse reminded me of my reference to "Sherman's Sentinels" in my book, "Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace." But I don't think this old homestead was burned by Yankees. : )
When you exit the Cradle of Forestry, you face this sign. We didn't stop at Sliding Rock, but perhaps we will on another visit. We've both been there before, weren't planning on swimming, and would've had to pay just to park and take photos.
We also didn't make it those last four miles up to the Parkway. We were starving, having had only a light carry-along snack for our lunch. But we knew we'd be back, and it's always fun to leave some things undone.
This may be the only real "mountain view" picture I took on the whole trip. But we were certainoy "in" the mountains, heart, body, and soul.

Speaking of things to go back for, here's my list-- so far:

  • Chimney Rock
  • Center for Wildlife Education
  • Sliding Rock
  • Pink Beds Community
  • Moore's Cove Trail
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Devil's Courthouse
  • Glen Cannon Falls
  • Connestee Falls
  • Jazz at Sunset concert
  • English Chapel
  • Graveyard Fields Loop
  • Pisgah Inn Restaurant
  • Looking Glass ROCK
  • Cardinal Drive-In

You see why we need to go back--wouldn't you?

So that's my 200th post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you're a newer reader, take a look at my archives--some of my favorite posts are about short excursions we've taken. I enjoy sharing them with you.