Friday, May 28, 2010

Local Litter Revisited

Way back on January 9 I posted a blog called "CSI Meets Keep America Beautiful." The subject was the litter problem in my own little Murdocksville, NC community. And I know it's typical of many communities, both urban and rural. The litter problem is an epidemic with complex causes and no simple solutions.

The Justice League of America says, "We don't litter, and you shouldn't either."

Brianna and Claire say, "Hey, we don't litter. We may strew toys everywhere, leaving a wave of baby destruction in our paths, but we're totally Green."

Well, several months have passed, and the news is not that encouraging. In a stretch of the Murdocksville Road about one-eighth of a mile long beginning at my house, I gathered the following assortment in less than 30 minutes.

This is not a scientific study, since I don't know how long some of the litter has been there, but I've picked up roadside trash in that stretch a few more times since January, and lots of this haul was new.
I didn't take time to categorize and catalog this batch, but there's a real pots-pourri of yucky stuff. Stuff other people didn't want to deal with, so they decided to "gift" some innocent strangers. These folks must be real sticklers for keeping their vehicles neat as a pin on the inside. If only they were as caring about their community and other people's property.

I won't get into the CSI analysis this time. There seems to be a lot of fast food packaging and all sorts of beverage containers. Stuff the perpetrators just don't want in their own garbage cans or other repository. It's not like we're asking them to make a special trip to the landfill: just BE RESPONSIBLE! Please. : )

There is some evidence of repeat offenders. Marlboro Man (or woman) hasn't kicked the habit yet (many empty packs found). Someone favors Newports (3 boxes). You can identify most of this assemblage yourself.

I don't know the significance, but I found three empty tins of Grizzly Snuff. Wintergreen makes it more palatable for his "sweetie," I'm sure.

I would have suspected that people who were proactive about their own health would also care about the health of their environment. So I was a little surprised to find water bottles and green tea fraternizing with the beer cans and sodas.

And what self-respecting Starbucks customer would like to be known as a litterbug? It just doesn't fit their profile. But you can't argue with the evidence.

One bit of good news. By the time I removed all the plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard, only this non-recyclable trash remained. So at least 50% of what I picked up will be recycled.

Still, that's a grossly ineffecient way to recycle. Toss it out the vehicle window near the home of a known recycler (aka Green Party member, Sierra Club member, environmental wacko, goody two-shoes, etc.). Let them deal with it. (???)
No, I don't think so. Let's all clean up our own mess! And keep your road, your county, your state, and OUR America Beautiful! Thank you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"The Bullseye": A Camp Cherokee Special Breakfast

My latest venture into eclecticism was sparked when Judy showed me this page from the Food Network Magazine. It features a previous issue on eggs, with a cover photo they entitle a Nest Egg. Many readers informed them there were alternative names for this egg dish.

Judy recognized it immediately as the Bullseye I learned to love (and cook) at dear old Camp Cherokee. Other names offered by readers were Port Hole, Toad in the Hole, Shotgun Toast, Gas House Eggs, Birdie in the Nest, and Egg in the Window. One mother wrote in that when her kids were little she added a slice of melted cheese on top and called it Egg in a Hole with a Blankie. I loved that one!

The essential component of any of these variations is that you cut a hole in the bread and cook an egg (or 2) in and on the toast. You can add bacon, cheese, or other favorite ingredients.

It put me in the mood to cook up one of these old Camp Cherokee standards. And this is how it went, step by step.

Getting ready: Canola oil, one slice of wheat bread (use white, if you prefer), two eggs (one will suffice)

Neatly cut out the "bullseye." Or recruit your young "camper" for this fun task.

Since I was doing two eggs, I cracked one first and let it get almost done before adding the bread.

Bread over the egg makes an easy target.

I wasn't going to redo this over and over until a got a pretty picture. What you see is what you get. Egg number 2 scores a direct hit. Another bullseye.

I'm not a purist, and I like to mix my yolk with the egg white, so my final product looks more like a mini-omelet on hole-y bread. But it's still a bullseye in principle. And it still tasted delish!

Now for a little more on my special memories of Bullseyes at Camp Cherokee. This wasn't something we cooked up while at camp. It was reserved for overnighters. And especially, as in the picture below, we took a large group to a favorite place like Courthouse Creek or Cherokee, NC. There, it was easiest to set up an assembly line. Selected campers had the tasks of cutting the holes in the bread, cracking the eggs, etc. It was the only way to feed dozens of campers and counselors fast. My first bullseye was cooked by camp patriarch John McConnell, respectfully known as Great White Father. And if your bullseye wasn't quite perfect, John Mac wasn't the sort of person you'd mention it to. But they were always perfect. Camping food always is!
I hope a lot of my readers today are former Cherokees visiting from Facebook. I'm going to be posting a lot more blogs in the future about cherished camp memories. I think all my readers will find some connections.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Coolness of Being Claire

This is Claire's blog. The highlight will be a short video at the end, where she becomes "Scary Claire." Don't miss it! And be sure to look at the previous post about Brianna.

Now here we go with more of those crazy captions. I hope you enjoy them.

"It's deliciously naughty reading other people's mail."

"Uh, I'm not sure the tongue will go back in. Is it stuck? But not to worry, I'm still smiling."

"Well, while I've got the tongue out, I might as well go for the Guiness World Record."

"Okay, Claire, let's get back to memorizing this book. One day, you'll be reading it to me."

"The kitty cat goes meeoww, the puppy dogs go woof woof. And we still don't know what the little ants say. Bummer."

"Grandma's not one to hold a grudge. I think she even liked it when I scared her. Now all is forgiven."

"Big balloons come in handy for hiding from the Grand-paparazzi and his camera."

"The only thing worse than being hounded by nosey photographers is being ignored by them. There's a price to fame."

Now, for the real special of today's blog. Claire has been working on a technique of "startling" adults. She's been perfecting her technique. She's a master of timing-- the "pregnant pause," and pops up just when you least expect it. This video will bring a smile to your face. Don't let her scare you-- she doesn't mean any harm!
Hope you have enjoyed reading about Claire (and Brianna in the previous post) as much as Judy and I enjoyed these adventures firsthand.

Brianna has a Blast!

Let me say right up front, if you don't do anything else on this blog post, PLEASE view the video at the very bottom. Brianna has invented her own style of side-to-side rocking when listening to music, and it is hilarious and precious at the same time!

Also, be sure to view the separate post about Claire-- these babies get equal time.

"When my little car is happy, I'm happy."

"Woops. Road kill ahead!"

"Mommy, I don't know about that brownie. Haven't you got a teething biscuit?"

"Let's see if I can remember how to drive this toy. Oh, my bad. Not a car."

"Hurry up and take the doggone picture. My face is starting to ache."

"Then again, it's worth it for my fifteen minutes of fame."

"I can play a lot of stuff on my Monster Piano. But it does take all my strength. And please don't ask me to reach an octave with my little fingers!"

"The top only has from A to G. Maybe the rest of the alphabet is under here."

"Grandma, if I could only do one thing all day, it would be reading books with you on this porch in this swing. Life is good."

"Grandpa, I was wondering where you'd disappeared to. How did you get up there?"

And now, the highlight of this post, enjoy Brianna doing her own brand of Rock 'n' Roll. She had to modify her clapping to slapping one thigh (she's seen Grandpa do this). But the side to side rocking is totally her invention. And, no disrespect intended, she looks a little drunk when she rocks. When the music stops, she makes a feeble attempt to start it up again. She's perfectly capable of doing it, but insisted on Grandma pulling the lever. Poor helpless child!

It was "Good Times", as always. Now to post some cool photos and a video of Claire.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farm Life School Celebrates 150 Years!

Way back in August of 1975 I was home in Atlanta after wrapping up my fourth summer at Camp Cherokee. I was totally worn out. I had graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill that May, but as yet had no teaching job. Then came a phone call out of the blue. Dr. Jim Brock was calling from Moore County, NC, my top choice for employment.

Mr. Loyd, I'd like you to come up here to interview for a fifth grade position at Sandhills Farm Life School.

And just like that, I loaded my essentials in the trunk of my 1965 Ford Galaxy and drove back to the state that would be my new home for life! In spite of accidentally calling him Mr. Brock during the interview, I had signed a contract 30 minutes later. My mentor and great friend Don Moore, a respected local teacher, provided me lodging for those first few days. Then I was able to rent a room from his across the street neighbor, Mrs. Dixie Ray.

I never could have dreamed all the things that were set in motion by the simple decision to cast my lot with Moore County Schools. Within 3 months I had met Judy, introduced at Beulah Hill's fall revival by one of my students, Gwin Strange. We were married the next August, just days before I began my second year of teaching.

Now that I've been retired two years, I can finally say I've been married longer than I taught (34 to 33). My years of teaching were immensely rewarding and have yielded an abundance of deep relationships, both with students (around 1,000) and their parents. There's much more involved than good memories, because the relationships go on.

Saturday, May 15, was a great occasion to renew some of those acquaintances and to reflect on just what an impact my years at Farm Life had meant to me. The occasion was the celebration of 150 years of Farm Life School as an institution.

Hundreds of well-wishers from the community gathered at the campus for this momentous day. Many others wished they could have come, but alumni are scattered across the whole world now.

I was delighted that my two favorite Farm Life alumni were able to make an appearance. Jennifer is on the left, Amanda on the right. I had the wonderful privilege of teaching both of them. I'm currently participating in Claire's "home-schooling." We play a lot.

Before things got busy, I had a few minutes with my former third grade colleagues. Beside me is Betty Lou Stewart. Behind me are Patty Steingraber and Pam Cameron. Pam was my trusty assistant during my final two wonderful years. She helped hold things together for me during Judy's transplant and later when my mother's health was declining. Pam has faithfully carried on my Jack Tale and Grandfather Tale tradition. YEAH!!

It was great to see some students that meant the world to me. Here are Ryan and Aran.

Here is former student Chris with his Mom and brother. Our friendship was beyond the usual for teacher and student. We definitely had a "meeting of the minds."

There were many special aspects to the big day. Each fifth grade class had created a quilt which would be raffled off today.

A celebration of 150 years dates back to just before the Civil War. There are families in our school who have had students here for three or four generations. That's rare in this day and time.
Here's a program of what was in store for the day. If you click on it you may enlarge it enough to actually read it.

The school has evolved and undergone many changes, even during my tenure there. Below is the just-completed classroom addition, which will eliminate the need for most campus mobile units.

Dr. Susan Purser recognized early on that Farm Life was not a typical school. Community roots run deep and have sustained the values that have always undergirded a good education. Her remarks to the crowd showed great insight and appreciation for just what this school has meant and continues to mean to this community.

Two pillars of educational strength and wisdom who were an ever-present source of encouragement for me: Dr. Lorna Clack, my supervisor for the first two-thirds of my career; and Miss Nora McNeill, my principal for the final third of my career. I can truthfully say that these two outstanding educators ALWAYS put children first in their decisions. Many folks could learn from them.

These were the special speakers for the day: (left to right) Dr. Clack, Mr. Dale Frye, Miss McNeill, Mr. Randall Homan (brand new assistant principal), and Dr. Purser.

I was very pleased to see long-time friend Beverly Bizzell snapping pictures. Beverly administered our dental health program, including the fluoride mouth-rinse program for most of my career. I was our school coordinator of the infamous SWISH program until it was phased out a few years ago. But by then, I had already attained the title of SWISH Czar among my faculty.

Appropriately, students were the focus of the celebration. The New Century band performed admirably.

Fifth Graders sang the little-known Farm Life School Song.

Second graders entertained us with La Macarena and The Electric Slide.

In Miss McNeill's closing remarks she made an interesting observation. The school's longest serving principal, Mr. T. H. Lingerfeldt, is 100 years old this year. Nora noted that she had just turned 50. There's your 150!

This enthusiastic committee deserves great credit for taking care of the countless details of planning Farm Life's big day. Thank you ladies-- it was all worth it!

Once the speeches and performances were over, guests were invited to walk the campus, tour the buildings, and enjoying fellowshipping with others of the Farm Life family. This included one dear former teacher who had taught at the school in the 1950's. The Nature Trail was available for strolls. Refreshments were offered in the cafetorium. In the Media Center, an excellent slide show portraying the school's history was shown. I was happy to have a part, too. For those who just wanted to sit in the shade in the beautiful surroundings of their old school, I offered storytelling.

I had as many adult listeners as children, as I shared Uncle Remus's Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, a Grandfather Tale about Old Dry Fry, and my new favorite, Molly Whuppie, the Giant Slayer.

Though I shared folktales on this day, my mind was also on the countless array of true stories that make up the fabric of this great school's history. Imagine the quilt it would take to portray all the important events that history would entail! And unlike a tombstone, this school sign has only one date-- 1859. There's no ending in sight. Students that were present for this celebration may well be around for the school's bicentennial in 2059. I'd love to be there for that, too. Maybe there will at least be some wild stories about me!

Because I'm certainly not finished at dear old Farm Life. A rebirth of the Nature Trail is in the works. There are songs to be sung. There are tales to be told. A new generation simply can't miss all this! And as the view below demonstrates, the old school is just as welcoming as ever.