Friday, October 29, 2010

It's All About Hunter

It's so hard to believe that Hunter is already ONE MONTH old!  Every time we see him he brings us happiness.  Can you tell what a chore babies are to Grandma Judy?  Just you try to take him away!

As for Grandpa Ken, cutting grass and splitting wood will always take a backseat to pleasant diversions like this.

And Hunter pipes in, "You can hold me till I can crawl, Grandpa.  Okay?"

"Don't you guys know dry humor when you hear it?"

Brianna is such a natural for the Big Sister role.  She's very helpful to Mommy AND Hunter.  And she still rules!

How's this for a Three Generation picture? Actually, four.  Grandma Judy is burping Brianna's baby doll.  These things are necessary.

Snuggling with Hunter is like having a warm little package of love.  Also, sort of like holding a football.   :  )

Regular readers, you've seen this one before.  In my opinion, it's an instant classic.

Grandma says, "Hunter, give us a few days and you'll have some more male companionship."
You see, Jennifer is due to deliver Evan very soon.  Jennifer says, and we agree, "The sooner the better!"

Links to Jennifer and Amanda's blogs are at the left.  Thanks for keeping up with all these thrilling happenings in the Loyd, Kirby, and Talbert households.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critter Alert X 2 (Boogers, Debi, Boogers)

Okay, if wiggly reptiles make you squeamish, you've been forewarned.  They still send a tingle up my spine each time I attempt a capture, and I've handled hundreds.  But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  Here's the story.
A few days ago, our neighbor walked into our yard while we were playing with Claire outside.  He asked if we knew anything about SNAKES.  And I said, "You've come to the right place!"  His particular problem was a large snake IN his house.  SURE, it's GREEN to leave the windows open.  The SNAKES think so, too!

He cautioned me that the snake was as long as his couch.  As I stood at the doorway to his living room and saw a room filled with "stuff," and that the lights were off (switch on the opposite side of the room), my task appeared daunting.  Not only might it prove hard to even locate the serpent, catching it might be impossible.  I was a little concerned about getting bit, even though they're not poisonous.  I knew in my mind that it must be a black rat snake, my all-time favorite.  Nothing else matched my neighbor's description.

By happy chance, I spotted the intruder trying to exit under a closed door.  As he probed for a large enough space, I was able to pin his head to the floor with my trusty oak "snake stick." I quickly got my hand firmly behind his head, rendering him harmless (but don't try this at home).  Although I had brought a snake sack, I decided just to carry him back to my house to show Judy and Claire.  This was nothing new to Judy, who has been supremely tolerant of my passion for legless reptiles almost since we met.  In fact, I caught more than one black rat snake at her Grandma McKenzie's house when we were still dating.

Claire was much too busy with our new ball raceway to pay much attention to our long, sleek visitor.  Later, Jennifer was a little disappointed that Claire had not gotten to put the snake around her neck like she did when she was a small child.

I carried my new friend to the far southern side of our property to release it.  Maybe it will find enough food to keep it from troubling my neighbor again.  But his trouble wasn't over for this day.  A little over an hour later, he ambled down our driveway again.  His expression said it almost before his mouth: "I've got ANOTHER one."
So back I trudged with him, tools of the trade in my hands.  This one was in the kitchen, and took longer to catch.  Once I spotted him behind a cabinet, the snake still held quite an advantage over me.  I simply couldn't get to where he was.  I prodded around with a long stick and he retreated.  I was very worried that he might go in the back of the stove.  I wasn't prepared to move everything, but I couldn't leave my neighbor in this position.
Once again, I was lucky.  Mr. Snake came out from under a cabinet halfway around the room.  This was totally unexpected to me, but I was ready.  Or so I thought.  There was a wooden chair between us, but I had to act quickly before he went back under the cabinet.  So I got my snake stick on him, only to have him entangle himself in the legs of the chair.  They're constrictors and quite powerful.  Before I could disentangle him, though, he made a rush to get away via the back door.  That was his mistake.  I had him in a flash.  Normally, I would have opened the door and let him go, but I knew he needed to be removed far, far away.

I keep saying "he," but obviously these snakes were mates, looking not only for mice, but for a suitable hibernation spot.  Our unseasonably warm fall has kept snakes active longer than usual.  I released this one in the same spot as the other one, and I have no doubt that they were soon reunited, thanks to their keen senses.

These two were beautiful 5-foot specimens, much larger than the two black snakes and the single corn snake we had seen around our own house early in the summer.  Unlike almost ALL my readers, I can honestly say I look forward to seeing them all again.

Please Be Kind to Snakes!  : )

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Action: Claire, Brianna, and Little Hunter

Here are some snaps from early this month.  SPOILER ALERT: There's a new baby somewhere in here!

Claire was in a playful mood, pretending she was tired.  That's why she's gradually sinking into her diaper bag.  And no, her teeth aren't brown.  That's a well-placed graham cracker!

"I'll grow into this chair," says Claire.  "I'll have to if I'm going to be an important executive.  Whatever that is."

"You can save your fingers for dessert.  As for me, I think two forks and two spoons will do nicely."

I haven't even told Jennifer this yet, but of all my pictures of Claire, something about this one is reminiscent of a young Jennifer.  How about some comments from some of you who have known Jennifer forever?  What do you think?

Lucky I got this photo of Brianna while she was standing still.  A moment earlier (and a few moments later), she was cruising across her living room at quite a clip.

Bri loves to stand on the Wii platform.  She thinks there's something magical about it.  At this point, however, her feet seem to be glued to it.  Temporarily, I assure you.  Don't lean too far, Bri!

We can verify that nobody will be getting these two young ladies mixed up.  Partly thanks to their hair!
Claire says, "Bri, how do you get your hair so straight?"

"I've got a better question, Claire.  How do you get your hair so curly?"

Claire is getting very good at feeding herself.  Yogurt is one of her favorites.

"Full facial coverage is my goal.  How'm I doin'?"

Now I think ALL these pictures are adorable, but this next one was worth waiting for. 
Grandma Judy, Big Sis Brianna, and little Hunter.
In case you didn't recognize it, this is a picture of LOVE!

More good stuff soon.  Come again!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One Month Ago

One month ago, when we still had just TWO grandbabies, I was having trouble loading pictures on my blog.  Here are some pictures from WAY back in September that I've been dying to share.

Claire:  "With the help of my little measuring cups, the piano is truly a percussion instrument!  Everybody SING!"

Brianna:  "Grandpa, some of these nursery rhymes are pretty graphic, aren't they.  Look at that poor EGG!"

Both babies refer to Kitty Cat with something that resembles "Ke-e-e-e-e," often repeated numerous times, with a little rise in the inflection.
We all agreed that learning to play gently with a cat can be excellent training for not destroying a little brother.

Claire:  "I'm too busy studying molecular structure to think about destroying little brothers anyway.  I'm gonna be a physicist like Dad."

Claire has discovered a treasure trove of old yearbooks and photo albums.
Claire: "WOW!  Whoever these belong to must be ANCIENT!"

Brianna:  " No, I don't need a hand, thank you very much.  What I need is another SHOE!"

Claire and Brianna both love BUBBLES!  Watching bubbles, popping bubbles, blowing bubbles. 

And frequently, tasting bubbles!

On this day we set up an indoor campsite with the tent once belonging to Jennifer and Amanda.
Like all children, they love private and secret hiding places.  This is a rare picture, partly because Brianna, a perpetual motion machine, is voluntarily lying down.

Have you noticed that the babies don't seem like babies any more?  They're ready to be BIG SISTERS.  Want proof?  Let's listen in.
Claire:  Hey Cuz, why don't we start a club?
Brianna:  Great idea.  And NO BOYS allowed!

No, I'm just teasing.  These spunky gals are going to be the best big sisters around.  They're already practicing on Hunter, and little Evan won't be far behind.
And neither will more pictures-- I hope!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Homeward from Chattanooga

Yes, my friends, this is the umpteenth and FINAL post about our glorious trip to Chattanooga and many points along the way.  If you're an occasional reader, you might think this was a marathon odyssey (to use a couple of Greek allusions) to Tennessee instead of a four day jaunt.  Avoiding interstate once again, we retraced our path through the foothills and mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.

This time we stopped alongside the Ocoee River, one of the rivers harnessed during FDR's New Deal years to bring electricity to this wild and rugged region (methinks that described the territory AND its inhabitants).  This river, with some category 4 whitewater rapids, is a huge draw for rafters and kayakers, but mainly during the summer. 

We were able to see the rapids both times we passed by, as water was released from the dam.

How do you like this narrow catwalk (I guess catwalks are narrow by definition, but I've always tended toward wordiness)?  I assume dam workers occasionally have to venture out here to spray WD-40 on jammed locks and such (please pardon my language).  I'm glad I'm not a dam worker, aren't you, LIZ?  : )

Beyond the dam was this beautiful view of Lake Ocoee, much of which is in Georgia.  We crossed it several times on our gypsy trip.

We stopped for a midday snack in Murphy, NC.  Picnicking at the town library, we got into a nice conversation with a friendly lady who had only been in town a month.  Her husband was the new pastor at the local Evangelical Free church.  We assured her how much she would love the Carolina mountains, and she agreed that she already did.

While still on winding Highway 64, Judy spotted something she had had her eyes open for all day-- a roadstand produce stand.  At Deal Produce Farm she got 25 pounds of canning tomatoes for $8.00, a big basket of peaches for $4.00, and three varieties of apples at 99 cents a pound.

We had never intended to make the drive home in one day, so we pulled in at Morganton in late afternoon.  Our motel was just a short drive from a wonderful local spot called Abele's Family Restaurant.  They had a unique strategy.  They had a very popular buffet, but it included no meats.  Tons of salad items, breads, fruits, home-cooked vegetables, etc.  They also had an extensive menu you could order from.  When I learned that you could add the buffet to any meal for just $2.49, I couldn't resist.  Of course the meal was so filling, I didn't even get seconds from the buffet, but it was still a great deal for little more than ONE additional side dish might cost at some places.  When we travel in that direction again, we plan to drop by Abele's.  It's worth looking up.

Saturday morning we had only a three hour drive ahead of us.  It was pleasant with little traffic and uneventful.  But we still saw something new.  We stopped at one of the two new rest stops on either side of Hwy. 220 south of Asheboro.  These flags were at half staff because it was 9-11.  (See how far behind I am on blogging?)

The rest stop was state-of-the-art.  They even had this lovely man-made waterfall.  That's something you don't see much in the Sandhills of NC.

But the waterfall wasn't just for looks.  It was part of a cutting edge "Green" effort.  That water was circulated back to the rooftop where beautiful gardens of herbs and wildflowers were being cultivated.  We were very proud of North Carolina's greenness.

And so at last, we were home from Chattanooga.  A year ago, we weren't sure when we'd ever get to either Louisville OR Chattanooga, but in 2010 we did both.

Once again, here are some brochures of places we saw in Chattanooga.
Would we go again?  I feel certain we will someday.  There are plenty of attractions we could visit without even repeating ourselves.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Chattanooga Nature Center

  • Tennessee Valley Railroad, a six-mile sightseeing trip over three bridges and through a Civil War railroad tunnel.

  • Point Park on Lookout Mountain, another Civil War park

  • The Lookout Mountain Parkway, from Chattanooga into Alabama

  • The pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River and more of the Riverwalk
  • Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park
But until we get the urge to travel again, I think all these babies will keep us both busy and happy!
(After reading this blog post, Judy said it was very good; she almost felt like she was there!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

And Baby Makes Three. . . Grandbabies that is!

Amanda and Stephen have a new baby boy!  So does Brianna.  So do me and Judy and all the rest of us.  Get Amanda's first-hand account plus many more pictures at Amanda's Blog.
Can you believe how relaxed and rested Amanda looks?  None of us know her secret.  In her arms is new arrival Hunter Grayson Talbert.  At birth he was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20 inches.  Who knows how big he is by now? 


Proud Daddy Stephen, little Hunter, and Mommy.

It was not long before Grandma and Grandpa were on the scene.
Grandma says, "Now Hunter, I'm the one you can talk to when nobody else understands."

Grandpa says, "Since I was the last boy born on the Loyd side of the family (in 1953), I've got a lot of "boy stuff" you're gonna enjoy.  In fact, your Mama enjoyed it all: comic books, baseball cards, and more"

Great Grandma Thelma and Great Grandaddy Jack will still be "Granny and Grandaddy" to all these grandbabies.  Granny says, "Now Hunter, this old man is going to tell you a lot of stories, but I will tell you which ones to believe, okay?"

Claire: Cousin?  I've already GOT a cousin, thank you.
Brianna: So the rumors are true?  Mama won't look like she swallowed a watermelon any more? 
I want to play with HUNTER!  Bring him on!

Kitty Cat is also thrilled that he won't be the only boy around any more.  Can you detect his unbridled enthusiasm?  I think Hunter will be as enthralled with Kitty Cat as Brianna and Claire are.  They both affectionately call him "Ke-e-e-ey."  And he is very fond of them.  He knows he'll hit it off well with Hunter, being a pretty good hunter himself.

Don't forget to visit Amanda's blog for better info.  Jennifer has her version, too, at Jennifer's Blog.
More baby blogs soon, I can assure you!