Friday, June 30th, 2006. Today was our nephew Jesse's last day visiting us. We'll miss having Jesse around, he certainly made things fun around the house. Tomorrow we take him home to his mother Sherri, who is making her recovery at home in Prince George, Virginia. We return Sunday with our nephew Jimmy from Colonial Heights, Virginia. Jimmy spent two weeks with us two summers ago and we are looking forward to him staying with us for two weeks again this summer.
We are not looking forward to this weekend however. It will be our last trip to Sue's house. We will leave it empty on Sunday. A new family will begin moving in later next week. read more...
Tuesday, June 27th, 2006. If Ben's long hair wasn't clue enough that today's photo isn't recent, then the sunshine on his shoulders should have been. It was taken in June 2005 at the amphitheater up the street. Amy, Jesse, Ben and Jackson escaped today's rainy weather by spending two hours at Chuck E Cheese in Winston-Salem.
Sherri is home and resting.
I posted a little 45 second clip of me at the Pine Street play-spot on Lovills Creek during yesterday's heavy rains.
Jesse and I are off to the 10PM Superman premier!
Monday, June 26th, 2006. Amy and Jesse safely returned to Mayberry this afternoon. It was a long trip for them as they were both sleep deprived, but they managed by stopping for short naps . The boys spent the day at my parent's house playing with their cousins Seth and Caleb. We had hoped that Sherri would be able to go home today, but her doctor requested that she stay for one more night. I know Sherri is ready to be out of the hospital and hopefully she will be soon. She seems to be doing fine and the extra night is just a precaution.
It finally rained enough to bring Lovills Creek up to Flash Flood levels. I've been waiting an entire year for it to reach this level again. Amy was gone to pick up the boys when I got home, but Jesse was there. So I recruited him to be my cinematographer and to keep an eye on me while I was in the river. We strapped my Dagger GT onto the car and rushed to the river, parking next to the walking trail between Independence and Pine Street. The volume was awesome and I had a blast. The rain eventually returned to a downpour and we called it a night. Maybe I'll post a movie in the next day or so.
I'm very glad to have Jesse back with us and especially glad that my wife returned safely. We missed her. Ben fell asleep before dinner and as of now, which is way past his bedtime, is still asleep. Let's hope he makes it all night, it would be a disaster if he wakes up in the next hour or so.
Sunday, June 25th, 2006. Where do we start, with Amy's sister's heart attack last night or with Ben's trip to the emergency room this morning? Let's go with the big one, Sherri's heart attack. Jesse and I were playing XBox late last night when we got the call that his mom was on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. She had a heart attack and underwent surgery to install a stint repairing a 99% blockage. We got the news around 2am that she was out of surgery and doing well. read more...
Click here to see photos from Saturday's trip to Sci-Works.
Thursday the 22nd. Jackson went to his last morning of Arts Alive, which is a theater camp sponsored by the Surry Arts Council and directed by Peter Holland of Once Upon A Blue Ridge, the same group that performs the weekly Living Storybook series I talked about in the last post. While Jackson was at camp, Jesse took our friend Matthew to see Racing Stripes, one of the free movies offered over the summer at Creekside Cinema. Amy and Ben stayed home, pulling the old Rescue Heroe Aquatic Rescue Command Center from the attic. Jackson talked about that toy for months when he was two before Santa brought it to him for Christmas. He called it 'the quatic.' Ben spotted it the other day and wanted to put it in his room. He already managed to get the Mountain Action Command Center moved downstairs a few weeks ago. That was Jackson's big Christmas present when he was three.
This evening, for the third year in a row, we participated in the Arts Alive parade down Main Street that ends at the Andy Griffith Playhouse where Jackson and his fellow camp thespians performed.
I made this short clip last night for my nephew Jesse's myspace page. I call it Extreme Jesse (3.7MB). <Warning to everyone over 25: I used Illnino for the soundtrack, I'm eclectic like that>
Jackson made two big summertime milestones last night at the pool. First, he jumped off the diving board, with no life-jacket or 'floatie', and swam the entire length of the pool. Second, he dove off the diving board. His dives were actually closer to a flip, which is even cooler. I was enormously proud of him. I knew that he would be swimming like a fish by the end of Summer, but he has really came a long way in a short amount of time. Click here to watch the Pressure Drop video (4MB) I made of him performing those two feats. Once he knew he could do it, he dove, flipped and swam unassisted till dark.
This afternoon Amy and the boys once again escaped the heat by going to the pool at Homeplace. Jackson was excited to show off his new skills and went off the diving board a dozen of times.
Wednesday the 21st. The performers from the Once Upon A Blue Ridge theater troupe once again impressed us with the latest installment from their weekly Living Storybook series. Our fifteen year old nephew Jesse, who took theater last year and is visiting us for a few weeks, gave last night's performance of Snow White a positive review as well, although that could have been influenced by the cute actresses playing the lead roles. Jackson learned at his Arts Alive camp sponsored by The Surry Arts Council that they would need volunteers for last night's show and he went fully prepared to get on stage. In his first role of the evening, he started as a seed that grew into a tree helping to hide the fair Snow White from the evil Queen. His next role, as one of the seven dwarfs, took him onstage, which he exited at the end, announcing "Pleeeease, no autographs!" While Ben's attention remained focused on the show, I think part of that was from concern over what the witch was going to do next. Whenever the witch's dialog centered around one of her plans, Ben would lean over to me and whisper "what's going to happen?" read more...
Tuesday the 20th. I have the best Father's Days. I started a photo gallery to keep track of them a few years ago. Two years ago we went camping and fishing. Last year we went to the river with our friends the Eads, who hopefully will be able to go with us again next year. This year we rented the old Doris Anderson house in scenic Kibler Valley from my childhood neighbor Jenny Slate and spent two wonderful, fun-filled days on the shady banks of the Dan River, which might possibly be the coldest river on Earth. This photo of Amy will give you an idea of what the water felt like. It didn't deter Jackson from jumping right in though. He spent most of his time swimming, but also took relaxing tube rides, practiced archery, caught kayak rides back upstream, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, made s'mores, took walks, and played Frisbee. Jackson said it was the best camping trip ever. Maybe that was because we left the tent in the van and slept in the house. Ben didn't like to get in the water like his big brother, but he loved to get kayak rides in the little pool just upstream from the house. Our nephew Jesse is spending two weeks with us and was invaluable when it came to keeping up with the kids around the water, plus he is just a lot of fun to have around. The boys love him to death. The house is in such a beautiful and secluded section, yet has big open spaces for the kids to play in. The hydro station didn't release any water, things are just too dry this year, so I wasn't able to do a lot of kayaking, but I did get in a little roll practice and paddled through the only navigable section just below the power plant. You can read more about the kayaking stuff here.
On Sunday evening my sisters, their families and my father came up for a cookout on the river. Everyone had lots of fun kayaking, playing kickball and roasting marshmallows. My sister Deana has lots of great photos in her photo gallery. I have tons of photos myself in my Father's Day gallery. Thank you Amy, Jackson, Ben and Jesse. I had a perfect weekend.
Thursday the 15th. Isn't Summer supposed to be laid back and slow? Amy and Ben left Jackson studying Japanese Sword Fighting this morning so that they could get the tires rotated on the van. Rather than wait in the lobby, Amy walked the length of the walking trail that happens to pass right behind our tire center with Ben napping in the stroller. They then went back to watch some of Jackson's class, which is where I caught up with them briefly. I think this photo is neat because the sword completely disappeared in it. More photos from the class are here. Jackson enjoyed the sword fighting lesson (big surprise there huh?) and was thrilled to get to take home the bokken (wooden practice sword) he used in class. It looks very cool displayed on the shelf along with his medals and broken board above his belt rack. Amy and the boys then rushed off to pick up our friend Sam at Arts Alive. A quick lunch at our house was followed by the Summer Reading Program at the library. Jackson was very grown up and went to the program by himself, while Amy, Ben and Sam explored other parts of the library. They then changed into their bathing suits and hit the pool, staying right up until the time that Amy went to work. She then passed the baton to me and took Sam home. That only left dinner, bath and bed. And after a day like today, they went to sleep hard and fast, especially Jackson. I did have to let them sleep together in Jackson's room though, it was the only way I could get them to stay in bed long enough to fall asleep.
Wednesday the 14th. This week Jackson is spending his mornings breaking boards (seriously, this is the board he broke. I don't know about you, but I am seriously very impressed), studying Filipino Stick Fighting (seriously, here he is in action) and Japanese Sword Fighting at Mount Airy Martial Arts' Summer Camp. (Did you click on the Mount Airy Martial Arts link and notice the shiny new website they have over there?) He is spending his afternoons damming up a creek, shooting the real live compound bow his Papa gave him, going to the library, going to the pool and playing in the sprinkler in the front yard. Next week's mornings will be spent at Arts Alive at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. The only one of those things I got to do over my summer break when I was six was play in the creek!
Monday, June12th. As it's the only day of the week that no one works, Sundays are fun days at our house and we try to pack a lot into them. We certainly managed to do that yesterday, which means that I'm packing a lot into this post too.
Chapter 1. We spent Sunday morning in Levering Orchard at the foot of the Blue Ridge picking cherries with our friends Timmesa and Sam. I've got more info and photos from Chapter 1 in our Cherry Orchard Gallery. We had an awesome time and the only thing sweeter than the cherries is the time we had picking them. But as much as I'm already looking forward to next year's cherry picking, I'm also looking forward to when this year's belly ache ends. I think I ate a few too many cherries.
Chapter 2. After leaving the orchard and dropping off Timmesa and Sam, Amy mentioned that she would like to visit my grandmother. I said "why not?" and drove straight to Hama's house with two cherry stained boys sleeping in the backseat . Following a delicious lunch that included Hama's famous chicken and dumplings, the boys and I took a stroll that led us to the creek. read chapters 1-5, plus more photos...
Saturday the 10th. Until we get used to the new hair cut, Ben will be the primary subject of our photography.
Last night we went to the opening of Cars. We wanted to see it at the drive-in, but that show didn't start until way past bedtime, so we hurried over to the Ciniplex and got tickets before they sold out. The movie was awesome. And no one had to leave with Ben halfway through this time. After getting his hair cut, he skipped his nap by going to the pool with Amy and Jackson. He was so tired that he fell asleep on me midway through the movie. He must have been really tired to sleep through what was probably the loudest kid's movie ever. And again, I really enjoyed the movie a lot, it was loud in a very cool, big horsepower kind of way. Jackson already wants to see it again. read more...
Friday the 9th. Well everybody, what do you think? Can you believe that just two days ago Ben had this! In the first photo Ben is pointing to his head saying "Look Daddy, I got anudder one!"
Wednesday the 7th. The free outdoor children's theater season started last night with Once Upon A Blue Ridge's very entertaining performance of Jack Tales. The Once Upon A Blue Ridge troupe will perform every Tuesday evening just up the street at Blackmon Amphitheater. Next week's show is Wind Beneath The Willows, which is where we watched last night's show from, beneath the willow tree on the hill. Or as Jackson and Ben call it, their hide-out.
I'm posting this photo for two reasons. One is to document for posterity Ben's habit of playing with his top lip while lost in thought or while watching television or, in this case, watching a play. The other is to talk about Ben's 'Bestest Hat'. I'm sure many of you have thought "what's up with that hat?", because he has it on in almost every photo. Ben likes his hair long, but doesn't want it in his face all day, which means that he needs to wear a hat. And Ben's favorite cap by far is what he calls his 'Bestest Hat'. read more....
Saturday the 3rd. The boys and I spent the day at our local Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddler's Convention. I knew that Ben would have a good time, but Jackson doesn't usually go for this type of event. It's not exactly his kind of music. But this time he knew his buddy from karate, John, was competing and he was excited to get to see him perform. We had a good time, ate a ton of cotton candy and heard lots of great music as we walked through the campgrounds. Today was music, tonight we switch to dance when we go to Stuart, Virginia for my niece's recital.
Thursday the 1st. I was very pleased that National Public Radio's All Things Considered ran this story today about local radio icon Ralph Epperson who passed away yesterday at the age of 85. WPAQ, the station that Mr. Epperson started in 1941 is known around the world among Bluegrass and Old Time musicians. When I started researching Old Time music a few years ago, I was surprised to learn just how important our little local AM station's role has been in preserving and fostering Old Time. WPAQ was Surry County's first radio station and its Saturday morning live show, the Merry-Go-Round, is the third longest running radio show in America, behind the 'Grand Ole Opry'. It's the only AM station I have programmed on my car stereo and it offers a refreshing change from what all the other stations have to offer. I like this quote from both an earlier NPR interview and our local paper's front page story today, "If there are 26 places on the radio dial putting out the same thing, why would I want to be number 27?" I wish all the other radio stations had that same philosophy. Ralph Epperson also helped start another good local station, 98.1 FM, in Galax, Virginia. His daughter Deborah is the general manager there, while his son is the station manager at WPAQ and owner of our other AM station, WSYD. You can listen to the story at NPR if you want to learn more.
The boys spent the day with their aunt, while Amy sat with our friends at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. The situation there is still extremely critical and weighs very heavily on our minds.
On my way home from picking the boys up in Stuart this evening, I did a U-Turn in Amy's honor on 103 to save this turtle. He appeared to have stalled out during his trek across the road. The toad in today's photo has made himself at home on our side porch for the past few days. Apparently he and Frankie are buddies or something. (How many of you were surprised to see Mr Toad when you clicked over today?)