Entertaining Children

Ireland giggling in spite of the bright sun in her eyes

Ireland giggling in spite of the bright sun in her eyes

One last post from my visit with friends Friday morning . . . I think I am suffering from child envy.  Not something that happens too often, but seeing this particular family always makes me long for the particular set of joys and heart aches that come with having a family.

I mentioned in a previous post that watching the adults entertain the children was well worth the visit.  Entertaining the young involves making many faces.

There’s the I’m-so-exuberant-that-my-face-is-going-to-break-if-I-smile-any-harder face.  I suspect I make this face a lot at babies.  The eyes open wide, the eyebrows raise, nose crinkles, and the mouth opens into a jack-o-lantern grin.

Grandma make Ireland squeal and she comes in for some sugar

Grandma make Ireland squeal and she comes in for some sugar

For me, perhaps because I have learned through many years experience working with dogs and don’t have any other skills, this face is accompanied by the high-pitched happy-puppy voice.  It’s the voice that tells dogs you’re pleased and excited and they should be, too.  It’s effectiveness with babies may be limited–it did not convince little Ireland that I was more interesting than getting fed, for example.

There’s also the “awww” face.  That’s the face that may be accompanied by a pouting bottom lip, a head tipped downward, eyes rolled slightly upward and a general “aww, aren’t you happy?” sort of demeanor.  This face, by the way, is also ineffective at distracting a baby from the 3 basics:  1)  hunger, 2) fatigue, or 3) dirty diaper.  I did enough babysitting growing up to know that if you have an unhappy baby, start with those 3 things and then move on to making faces.

There’s also the I-love-you-so-much-I-would-do-anything-to-make-you-smile face.  Grandma’s seems to have this face down.  This is not terribly different from the I’m-so-exuberant face, but seems to be honed for kissing.  My friend exhibited this behavior in a way I can never hope to imitate.  I think you have to be a card-carrying grandma to do this effectively.

Grandma demonstrating how to make a finger jump from one hand to the other

Grandma demonstrating how to make a finger jump from one hand to the other

Besides baby Ireland, there was also a young nephew visiting, Jonathan.  As one might expect with any 8-year old, Jonathan was not so entertained by sitting around watching adults make silly faces at a baby.  Lucky for Jonathan, he was in the hands of professionals.

From Ireland’s grandparents, he attempted to learn how to make mosquito sounds with his mouth, how to make frog noises by flicking his throat, how to make one leg disappear, and, most challenging, how to move one finger from one hand to the other.  I was a little disappointed that no one showed him how to steal a nose, but he was pretty caught up in the finger-jump trick, so I didn’t want to confuse him further.

I did capture my friend/Grandma teaching the finger-jumping trick.  I wish I would have been standing on the other side of her, though, to capture Jonathan’s face of wonder.

My canine baby patiently waiting for my return to Chattanooga

My canine baby patiently waiting for my return to Chattanooga

 

Talking ’bout Generations

Generation 1 grinning from ear-to-ear while hugging generation 3--I love grandma's smile

Generation 1 grinning from ear-to-ear while hugging generation 3–I love the smile

Upon reflecting on spending Saturday morning with Great-grandparents, Grandparents, Parents, and child, the continuum struck me as profound.  I now have five close friends who are grandparents.  Everyone of them says being a grandparent is the best experience in the world–they don’t actually have to say that, the look on their faces says it all.

Perhaps it brings a sigh of relief knowing that you can pass the baton and let your child be the one who does all the hard stuff while you sweep in to blow raspberries on baby’s belly or to spoil a toddler with cookies at breakfast or let a ‘tween do something they’re not allowed to do with a wink and a shared secret never to be told to your children?

Sleepy face on Generation 4

Sleepy face on Generation 4

I am reminded of my own grandparents.  My father’s parents were born before the turn of the century–the 20th, that is.  My father was a late comer in their lives, born when they were in their 40’s.  By the time I arrived on the scene, they were nearly 70.

They were still fun people, albeit moving slowly, until I was about 12 or so.  We saw them twice a year, living about a 10-hour drive away.  Grandma always baked for us.  She made fancy homemade cakes for my brother’s birthday at Christmas.  But what really got us excited wasn’t the cake.  It was her marshmallow treats.  We had never had them before my grandmother made them for us the first time.  She set the standard.

My grandmother also made the best strawberry preserves I ever ate in my life.  Grandma’s strawberry preserves were so darn good, I still drool whenever I think about them.  I used to regret not learning from her how to make them, but now I think the memory of those preserves is sacred.  Grandma’s secret ingredient in all her recipes was an infusion of love.  Eating her goodies was like a sacrament–the embodiment of all that she hoped to pass down to us.

Generation 3 holding generation 4 and looking like only a proud papa madly in love with his baby girl can look

Generation 3 holding generation 4 and looking like only a proud papa madly in love with his baby girl can look

My grandfather did not bake.  Rather, he was just downright silly.  He was world-class when it came to horse play.  Whether it was chasing us around the house (irritating Grandma with our shrieks of joy), bouncing us on his knee, or pretending to steal our noses, Grandpa’s genuine goofiness was a crowd pleaser.

The most poignant moment of visiting Grandma and Grandpa always came when we waved goodbye.  Armed with a bag of candies to get us safely home again, we waved out the back window of the station wagon and watched Grandma bury her tear-streaked face in Grandpa’s shoulder as we disappeared from view.  I asked my mom once why Grandma always cried when we left.  Mom said something about Grandma missing us when we’re gone.  I didn’t figure out until many years later that it was because every time she said goodbye, she thought it would be the last.

Generation 4 rebooting

Generation 4 rebooting

Marching to the Beat

 

Tisen kept my fellow volunteer busy while I got a shot of the booth, McClellan Island in the background, and some rapidly forming clouds overhead

Tisen kept my fellow volunteer busy while I got a shot of the booth, McClellan Island in the background, and some rapidly forming clouds overhead

Sitting on the Walnut Street Bridge and watching tourists walk by is always fun.  What was surprising to me on Sunday was how many people were not tourists.  The local community showed up in pretty substantial numbers for an unadvertised, unprecedented parade on the Walnut Street Bridge.

As representatives of the Chattanooga Audubon Society, my fellow volunteer and I stopped a couple dozen people and managed to gather a dozen or so emails to add to the organizations contact list.  Of the people we stopped, only 2 of them were from out of town.

The 8-year old drum major led the band down the bridge

The 8-year old drum major led the band down the bridge

I can’t claim this to be a representative sampling of the population on the Walnut Street Bridge that day, but it seems that 90% of the people on the bridge were locals.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  The Howard High School band was performing.  With them, the brought all of the family and friends that support them.  The Chattanooga Ballet company was marching, the brought some more.  And so the list goes on.  I guess that’s what makes a parade a community event–it brings out the locals in masses to support the ones they love who are marching in the parade.  And, of course, the locals who just want to have something fun to do or who support the cause behind a parade.

The cheerleaders kept pace with the band

The cheerleaders kept pace with the band

Whatever brought people to the Walnut Street Bridge that day, the Howard High School Band was determined to entertain them.  After the dancers (see yesterday’s post), their 8-year old drum major led the instrumental section as they stepped in time to a raucous beat–it was enough to get the wood planking on the bridge vibrating.

Following the band came the cheerleaders.  They weren’t quite as wound up as the dancers in front of the band had been–no dances or active cheering as they went past our end of the bridge.

Most parades have fire trucks.  Since they won't fit on the Walnut Street Bridge, the firefighters walked instead

Most parades have fire trucks. Since they won’t fit on the Walnut Street Bridge, the firefighters walked instead

I was impressed by the ballet company’s choice of attire for the parade.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a ballerina elevated over another dancer’s head while wearing rubber rain boots before.  I’m not sure if they made it the entire half mile across the bridge like that, but it made for an exciting presence in the parade.

Ballet Chattanooga displays it's fun taste in footwear

Ballet Chattanooga displays it’s fun taste in footwear

The Dogood organization closed the parade.  This group promotes responsible dog ownership and a dog-friendly community.  They are responsible for getting the bridge open to canines, who were prohibited from crossing the bridge until a few years ago.  Tisen was happy to see them–grateful for the many times he’s gotten to accompany me on the bridge because of their work.  Although, I do think he was jealous of the other dogs’ Cinco de Mayo costumes.

The do-good dogs won best costume

The do-good dogs won best costume

At the end of the parade, the band gathered on the steps leading up to the glass bridge over to the Bluffview Art District.  They performed a couple of songs and then marched across the glass bridge.  This seemed dangerous, but they all made it safe and sound.

The last of the band makes its way across the glass bridge

The last of the band makes its way across the glass bridge

Here Comes the Sun

Tisen getting comfy under the booth--he turned out to be a big attraction

Tisen getting comfy under the booth–he turned out to be a big attraction

Given the size of Chattanooga, I am always surprised by the number of celebrations the city hosts.  Besides music venues, festivals, concerts, and fireworks, there seem to be a large number of parades.  Although, I guess it has been since Christmas that I was aware of a parade.  I’m sure there have been many, none-the-less.  🙂

I didn’t actually know what this weekend’s parade was for until I googled it just now.  I ended up on the Walnut Street Bridge manning a booth for the Chattanooga Audubon Society along with another volunteer.  We didn’t really know what to expect–it was a first for this event.

The parade opened with the rental bikes available all over the city at convenient locations

The parade opened with the rental bikes available all over the city at convenient locations

As it turns out, it might be a long time before there is another parade on the Walnut Street Bridge–the parade was in honor of its reopening as a park 20 years ago.  It’s a fantastic place and one definitely worth celebrating.  Our job, however, was to sign up as many people as possible for our email list, give those who did sign up free passes to the Audubon Acres property, and pass out Toostie Pops to children who showed interest.

Next came a mini choo choo belonging to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Next came a mini choo choo belonging to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga–well, it’s back there behind the bikes

As a sideline, I hoped to point out interesting birds to passers by and had binoculars and bird books set out for that purpose.  As usual, however, we were out in the middle of the afternoon at the worst possible time for birding.  We did see a Great Blue Heron and some Rock Pigeons, but nothing very exciting.

The thing that was the most amazing about sitting out on the Walnut Street Bridge on Sunday afternoon was the sun.  The weather was supposed to be rain all weekend.  When I looked at the weather channel app on my iPhone, the chance for rain dropped from 100% to 90% about noon on Sunday.  When we drove out to Audubon Acres to pick up lunch and load up the stuff we needed for the booth, the rain had slowed to a mist.

I don't know if the sunshine made these dancers especially enthusiastic, but they sure were having fun

I don’t know if the sunshine made these dancers especially enthusiastic, but they sure were having fun

By the time the van was loaded and we were back on our way to the Walnut Street Bridge, the rain had stopped.  When we arrived on the bridge, I pulled on my rain jacket for warmth–the sky was dark and threatening and the wind was blowing hard.  By the time we’d been there a half an hour, I was pulling off my jacket and putting up my umbrella for protection from the sun instead of the rain.

Tisen tucked himself back in the corner under the shade from my umbrella and drank more water than I’ve seen him drink in a long time.

It was like the parade organizers had special-ordered the weather.  This respite from the rain lasted long enough for the parade to conclude, our van to be re-loaded, and for us to drive nearly all the way home before the clouds blew back in and the rain re-started.  I really think I need to get to know the parade organizers better.

The dancers may have been the highlight of the parade

The dancers may have been the highlight of the parade

The Pearl

The Pearl District in Portland is a fun place to visit whether you prefer books, food, architecture, history, or beer.  Oh, or hippies.

It’s the kind of place where no one stares at me for walking around in hiking socks with my hiking sandals.  I guess with a North Face store and an REI in the neighborhood, it might even be considered fashionable.

There are also two breweries:  Rogue and Deschutes.  And, of course, a wide assortment of pubs and restaurants.

If you happen to be off work on a sunny afternoon in downtown Portland with great friends who have driven down from Seattle, this is the perfect place for a pub crawl.  Well, in our case it wasn’t so much a pub crawl as a stuff-yourself-silly-and-drink-a-flight-of-beer crawl.

It started when we decided we were starving for lunch.  My friend asked a mail carrier who happened to be walking by and he suggested Jake’s Grill at the Governor’s Hotel.  We ate way too much.

Then, after wandering around, we decided to check out the Deschutes brewery since it just happened to appear in front of us.  Deschutes has its own ambience with lots of high ceilings and dark woods and even elaborately carved decor.  But my favorite part of the decor was the “Restrooms Over There” sign with an arrow pointing to a large neon sign over the door to the restrooms that said “Over Here!”

But maybe that seemed funnier after we finished our flight of beer samples?

I think the blurry shots inside the pub perfectly captured the way it looked to me.

The beers were interesting.  A couple of them had an after taste that made me think someone had emptied an ash tray into the keg.  What was really interesting was that Pat tasted ashes in brews that finished smoothly for me and one of our friends.  But our friend and I tasted ashes in brews that Pat couldn’t taste it in.  Our theory is that Pat’s German taste buds are tuned differently than our more watered-down American taste buds.

Having finished our flights, the only thing left to do was to wander around some more and start to plan for dinner.  Never mind we’d eaten just 3 hours earlier.  We found an interesting seafood place we wanted to try from my iPhone. As we walked in the general direction of the restaurant, we thought maybe we would stop at another pub first just to kill some time.  But, everywhere we stopped, the bar was full.

We eventually and accidentally ended up at Jake’s Seafood, which was not the restaurant we had selected.  Giving up on the idea of having a drink at the bar, we got a table.  Once we were seated, we felt obligated to order dinner.

As it turned out Jake’s Seafood had been around for 120 years.  The food was fabulous, but my advice is don’t go there when you’re not hungry–it’s a shame to waste the experience.

Blues on the River

I have a confession to make.  In spite of the fact that I’m married to a guitar player and song writer who has been dealing in vintage guitars for about 20 years, I’m not that much into music.

In some ways, I suppose this works.  I enjoy music.  I love listening to music.  I just don’t really spend a lot of time seeking out music and I was never one to go out of my way to find a concert.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy concerts.  I just never kept track of who I listened to enough to find out when and where they were playing.

We periodically venture out to hear a band.  In Columbus, when we were still energetic enough to stay up later than 11PM, we would go see friends’ bands every once in a while.  But, I have to admit those nights out have gotten fewer and further between over the years.

In a sudden surge of protest (of the possibility that we’re getting old), when a friend from Columbus gave us a heads up that a Columbus band was going to be playing at Riverbend, we rallied and made our way across the river.  It wasn’t much of a rally since the set was scheduled from 5-6:30PM.

We’d already bought “pins” for access to all 9 days of Riverfest.  We’d gone to see Foreigner, but we took Tisen with us and he wasn’t allowed in.  So, other than me running in to buy a funnel cake (who can resist a funnel cake?), the pins hadn’t been used.

Hadden Sayers, as it turned out, is a guy with a band (I thought it was the band name).  He’s originally from Houston.  He told the story of moving to Columbus on a day when it was 7 degrees and how that led to his song titled “Take Me Back to Texas.”

This is almost the opposite of our experience of moving to Chattanooga on a day when it was 110.  Neither my husband nor I wrote a song about it, however.  I guess we didn’t want to go back to Ohio that much.

Hadden and the band are awesome musicians, every one of them (verified by my husband since I’m impressed by anyone who can play anything).  But, when we arrived, there were only about 20 people standing around in front of the stage.  As they progressed through the set, more and more people arrived.  As it turned out, the next band was Government Mule.  I’ve never heard of Government Mule, but I guess they’re popular in this part of the country.

Hadden told the crowd that the Mules were in the house and, if it was OK with the audience, he was going to play a few more songs (his set wasn’t over).  The audience cheered–I wasn’t the only one impressed.  I don’t know how many people in that audience had heard of Hadden Sayers before, but I think we all went home glad that we had now.