Monday, June 25, 2012

More "Equal Time": Claire and Evan

This is the companion post to the one about
Brianna and Hunter that precedes it.  Please
don't fail to visit it also.

Honestly, I get so immersed in the fun around
our house, I sometimes can't even pick up the
camera before the "Kodak moment" is gone.
But that's okay-- the memories are in my
brain-- somewhere.

While Evan and Claire swing away, I show
them GIANT bubbles for the first time.
It's an instant hit. And a nice shady activity
for hot summer days.

Evan:  "I wonder what happens when I
open this little door."

"Enough, already!  Let's close it up!"

Evan: "That's my pet cowbird on the 
window birdfeeder.  Isn't he silly?"

These kids are ready to cook up something.
And note Claire's signature fashion statement:
wristwatch on the elbow.

It's music time.  While Evan picks out a tune
on the keyboard, Grandma tries to figure out
how to play the radio with Claire.

Now it's Claire's turn.  I think she's playing
(and Evan's singing) "He's Got the Whole
World in His Hands."

"SEE?? It's a song about ME!" 

"Have we sung all four verses yet?"

Claire has always loved airplanes, and now
she's enamored of trains.  So we pull out the
 old wooden train from our yard sale treasures.

The rest of these pictures were taken on 
a beautiful morning at Evan and Claire's
house.  What a great playroom they have.

Claire luvs her tiger.

But she doesn't want to miss out on 
what Evan and Grandma are doing.

Time to load up the babies and go shopping.
And that includes the new Spiderman shirt.

Evan: "Good tiger.  How about a ride for me?"

Fast-thinking Grandma snaps the kids
in a quiet read-aloud moment.

Well, so much for quiet moments.  Let's
see who can jump from the highest place!

"Yeah, man, this is even higher."

"Of course, it's okay, Grandma and Grandpa.
Mom lets us do this all the time."
What an irresistible foursome of grandchildren
Judy and I are blessed with.  And we know it!
I'm up to date on the pictures for now, and I
hope to post a couple of cute videos soon.

Equal Time for Grandkids! Brianna and Hunter

Recently Camp Cherokee has dominated my
blog posts, and there will be more of that to come.
But past time to catch up on the doings of my 
grandkids, starting with Brianna and Hunter, then
continuing in a separate post with Claire and Evan.

I read that among the things that are quite simple 
for a child to operate are the grandparents.
I plead guilty.  With pleasure.

In fact, I can get pleasure just watching
Hunter have a good time rocking.

When Bri and Hunter both tune in to Dora,
the rockers get a real workout.

Makes you wonder if he'll be this attentive
to a kindergarten teacher one day. . .

. . . or if Bri will be this entranced by a
lesson on phonics  in a couple of years.

Digging back a whole month, I came to 
these pictures of Bri's Kindermusik graduation.
Parents and grandparents-- and little brothers
were all welcome to attend and participate.

Hunter's not sure what to make of this
sudden freedom.  Bri and Grandma
patiently await instructions.

Bri: "Dad, here's how you strut yo' stuff."

Bri's creative movement involves burying
herself under a barrage of scarfs.

Hunter thinks Mom is being real silly
(well, what about the rest of us?).

A valuable segment of Kindermusik is
story time with Miss Susan.  Bri loves this.
Where is Hunter?  Who knows.

Then the kids are sent out as missionaries
to teach their parents and grandparents
how to "do" story time properly.

After an hour of this, a fellow needs a 
little down time.

Whew, that was some climb.

Meanwhile, Bri looks for just the right sticker.
It's been a great spring at Kindermusik.
Now we can dance all summer long!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Grand Cherokee Reunion, Part 2

Let's gather 'round the old camp fire
Warm as our hearts is the flame
Let friendship temper every desire
And kindle love that o'er will remain.
Come stir the glowing embers red,
And pledge a tryst with me,
Wherever you and I may wander,
To Cherokee we'll loyal be.

On the weekend of our grand Cherokee
reunion, over two dozen of us sought to honor
our pledge of long ago days, as we gathered
again to a place dear to our hearts.
Here's the HOH, the House on the Hill.  A
wonderful gathering place, but it wasn't what
made Cherokee special.

The revered Thunderbird once adorned
our central gathering place for Trading Post,
tetherball, pingpong, and four square.  Great
memories, but that isn't what made Cherokee.

This totem, representing the noble qualities
camp sought to instill and foster in each
camper, comes closer to representing the
Cherokee way of life.  It will deserve a blog
of its own.

The miniature totem above is an
exact replica of the gigantic one
below, which has survived many
a winter storm and sun-scorched
day on this hilltop.  And it stands again.

On the title page of Jane Mac's Memories
of Cherokee, my brother Ellis included this
Nostalgia is a way of looking at things with a 
reverence they should have had all the time.

For those of us that came back to Cherokee
the nostalgia was not a vague sentimentality,
but a tribute to an experience that impacted
our lives and directed our paths for future years.

This map of Lake Burton in the HOH is a
reminder of the two-mile swim to the dam,
canoe trips to Arrowhead Beach, Pirate's Cove,
day trips to Goat Island, and portages to Lake
Seed and Lake Rabun. We could remember the
special night each summer when two motorboats
would tow a train of canoes to the middle of
the lake where we could watch the setting sun
give way to the rising moon.  There we had our
goodnight circle of friendship and love in a
place of perfect tranquility.

Speaking of arrowheads, many were found
each summer.  One of the old camp brochures
tells how once upon a time a camper was 
chosen for "Best Arrowhead" of the summer
and the boy added it to a camp collection.  It
was our connection to the Cherokees of old.

We are thankful for the many camp artifacts
that have been preserved.  We were always
a primitive camp, and things changed only 
slightly during the 75 year camp history.
Meals in the dining hall were one constant.
Always good local produce, good fellowship,
and ravenous appetites!

Jane McConnell (left) and her mother 
Mizmac were the guiding lights for Cherokee
throughout its existence.  Most of our alumni
never met Mizmac, but all of us experienced
her legacy through the loving guidance she
shared in our lives.  That goes for counselors
as well as campers.

Don Moore, as I mentioned in my previous
blog, was my mentor, and Jane's co-equal
and ingenious collaborator for four decades.

Just like in our old camp days, each hour
brought new arrivals, eagerly greeted. The
HOH porch and yard were a fine spot for
renewing old friendships and forging new ones.

Old sagas of danger, courage, and humor
were relived, and embellished.

Excellent food always adds to fellowship.

Who were we to question details?  It might
be our memory that was a little fuzzy.

Many photos and other memorabilia were
spread on the porch and tables in the HOH.
These helped to stir some memories and
generate some great yarns.

Warren and Danny provided lively and 
entertaining music, as they did each summer
for 20 years.

Tiger and Ken joined in, and later some
camp songs were sung.

One reason this date was chosen was to
honor Uncle Don's 85th birthday.  I think
we did a pretty good job.

And a short time later this carved-up cake
evidences that we felt "obligated" to indulge
in a "Cherokee serving."  Delicious!

In the remaining daylight hours small groups
rambled around the old camp grounds, 
explored old haunts or found a comfortable
spot for conversation.

At Jim Bell's invitation, several of us delved
into old camp relics and archives that were
in two tumbled rooms of an old storage shed.

Disheartened at first that we could only 
gain entrance into one room, we brightened
when we were able to, er, access the second
room late in the day.

We felt like archaeologists, even benevolent
"Raiders of the Lost Ark." 

And were we rewarded?!! The second 
room revealed even more old photos and
films from camp of yesteryear.  And this
box contained brochures, guidebooks and
logs from camp's founding in 1924 up to
1941.  That was the last year a full-sized
guidebook was needed, since camp filled
up to overflowing based on word-of-mouth
recommendations and our Cherokee became
a multi-generational family.

There's so much more to tell, and there
are many others who I hope will share 
in the telling.  I'll be blogging more about
Cherokee, but I don't know the whole story.
I do know that Indian Pipe, one of Jane Mac's
favorite woodland plants, still calls camp home.

And I do know that rhododendron and 
countless other beautiful plants still adorn
our hillsides and pathways.

By evening, many of our band had parted,
but those of us who had the good fortune
to be spending one more evening basked
in the glorious day behind us.

I reflected back to a small mid-winter
reunion in 1975.  Different setting (Cherokee
Lodge), different folks, but the same spirit.
I won't attempt to name everyone pictured, but if you
know these folks you can easily find them: Ciss
Alexander, Dar Baugus, Jimmy and John Baugus,
Warren Calvert, Jane Mac, Ross McConnell, Ginger
Kroeber, Burt Mashburn, Charles Bryant, and
Billy Savitch.
This bell is just a "little brother" of
our dear old Big Bell of bygone days.
If we gather again will you come?
Will you ring the bell for all the
Cherokees who make the pilgimage

I don't think nostalgia is the right word.
It's reverence.
Thank you, Jane Mac.  
Thank you, Don Moore.
And thank you, my Cherokee family.

To the sparks, to the flame,
To the fire that sets all our hearts aglow,
To the hills, to the lake,
To the breezes that sweet in our faces blow,
To the sun, to the moon,
To the spring in its crystal purity,
To you, to me, to a loving camp loyalty . . .