Sunday, April 10, 2016

Dreaming of my Grandparents' Home

This morning, I think I was dreaming about being at my grandparents' home in El Paso, TX (their Mountain Walk Drive home, not the Blue Ridge Circle one) just before I woke up.

In that nebulous no-man's-land between dreaming and waking, I vaguely recall waking up in the spare bedroom at my grandparents' at breakfast time (never mind that I was usually awake well before breakfast). The scents of percolating coffee and frying bacon, the clink of utensils, the sunlight peeking through the edges of the window shade and curtains - I was certain that I was registering these stimuli as though they were actually filtering into my brain via my senses.

When I opened my eyes, I was genuinely surprised at finding myself in my own bedroom hundreds of miles away from El Paso, so sure was I that I'd awakened at my grandparents' home.

Needless to say, I've had a bit of "homesickness" lingering around me today, noticeable when I have time to sit down and take a moment to relax. I think the cloudy weather is partly to blame; overcast skies always spark a bit of blues and homesickness for the Southwest, where we usually have about 300 (or more!) days of sunshine.

Anyway, a week ago, I'd visited my parents. While I was there, my mom had given me an album of photos she'd organized after going through my grandmother's belongings and finding her many photos.

I was looking at these newly acquired pics this morning, and decided to share a few of particular interest to me after this morning's dream of waking up at my grandparents' place.

This first pic is of my grandmother. There's nothing written on the back. I'm going to assume she's not much more than one year old, if that? Circa 1925-1926.

This next pic is of me, at my grandparents' Blue Ridge Circle home. The back of the pic says "Aug. 1974 3 yrs. 9 mos." in Oma's handwriting. 

It looks like I've found one of Oma's perfumes. Or maybe it was my mom's, since it looks like Chanel No. 5, which is one of "her" perfumes.

So, I had to include this next one, simply because it looks like I was instructed to dab a little perfume behind my ear. Because that's how you wear it, right? I can see that the lid is on the coffee table next to me. (The same thing is written on the back of this pic.) I'm assuming my grandfather took both this pic and the previous one. 

A pic of my Uncle Ralph is on the table behind me. 

I definitely remember the glass-cube window in the foyer behind me.

This last pic, I'm sure, was taken by my grandfather, using my camera. This is in the backyard at the Mountain Walk Drive home - the same home I dreamed I'd woken up in this morning. 

I'm going to say this was taken in the early 2000s. There's nothing written on the back. I'm assuming I'd had this pic printed when I'd gotten home after visiting them, and then I sent it for them to keep. 

It's been fun looking through these "old" pics, some older than others, and finding ones I haven't seen before, or finding ones, I'd forgotten about.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On HAT's Birthday

I decided I needed to post something today, which would've been my Uncle Hector's 61st birthday.

His initials were HAT, but he would often "sign off" on emails, texts, messages to me as "UH" (for "Uncle Hector").

This past weekend, I was given a photo album of old photos. These pics had been my grandparents' but had been in my mom's possession after my grandparents passed away; my mom organized them and stuck many of them in an album for me.

In the album that she'd given me, I found a photo of my uncle that I don't remember having seen before.

On the back of this photo in my grandmother's handwriting, it says Nov 1974. "UH" would've been 19 years old in this pic.

I'm posting one more (this is one of my own photos that I'd taken myself); this one is of "UH" and Liv as they read a book together. This was in my grandparents' den, when we all happened to be visiting my grandparents in El Paso, TX.

He was in what I called his "Johnny Cash" period of dressing all in black (hence the "Man in Black"/Johnny Cash reference, LOL).  My grandmother once asked my uncle why he always dressed all in black. His response? With a chuckle, a shoulder shrug, and a smile, he said, "It's easy to always match."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Start of Summer Fun (2015)

Here are three of my favorite pics from the beginning of our summer in Culver, IN (for Culver Summer Schools and Camps).

They were taken about a week before camp started, when I was in some orientation/in-processing, and had a bit of time to take Liv on a walk to stretch her legs.
On my first day of orientation, Liv had been so cooperative, either drawing on her sketch pad, reading, or quietly using her iPad, while I sat in the first of many day-long briefings. At one point, we had a 10-15 minute break, so I let her run down the sidewalk and back to burn a bit of energy. This was on campus near the building where we were having our orientation meetings that day.

One evening, we had some time to go into the town of Culver for a treat (the local coffee shop, the Culver Coffee Company, had ice cream). After getting our treats, she'd wanted to take a walk by Lake Max.

This was late one afternoon, when we were to meet the rest of my senior counselor teammates for dinner at one of the buildings near the lake. Since the campus is mostly pedestrian - we were to park our cars at the other end of campus- Liv and I walked. She had run ahead a bit, to look at something that had caught her attention.

While some staff members had golf carts (and a golf cart would've been convenient for those times I had to cross the campus quickly), I liked the health benefits of having to walk as much as I did during those seven weeks Liv and I were on campus.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Time to Grab Those Colored Pencils

For Christmas, "Santa" gave me one of those coloring books for grown-ups - one with a "Day of the Dead" theme.

Here's one of my first finished pages.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Culver Discovery Flight 2015

During my summer at Culver Summer Schools and Camps in 2015 as a staff member, I was able to do something spectacular.

They have an aviation program for students who want to learn how to fly a plane (they'd had one in the past, but it was put on hold for a few years, but a revamped program is now up and running).

Well, for those new or returning students (and staff members) who are curious about what it's like and want to get a taste of flying a plane, Culver offers what's known as a one-hour "discovery flight." Three students (or three staff members) can sign up with the Culver aviation department to get a discovery flight scheduled.(Oftentimes, the older kids in Woodcraft - the 9-14 year olds - will take a Discovery Flight and then are interested in signing up for aviation classes when they return to Upper Camp; I believe they need to be at least 14 years old to take actual aviation classes.)

Then, after the trio's discovery flight is scheduled, Culver will transport the students via shuttle bus (while staff members drive themselves) to the Starke County Airport for their flight. The three students and an instructor pilot head off in a 4-seat Cessna, one student in the front along with the instructor pilot, and the other two students in the back. After a safety check around the aircraft by the instructor pilot, and after ensuring everyone is buckled up, the instructor pilot will give the student in the front seat a brief explanation of various instruments in the cockpit.

Then off they go, with the instructor pilot in control. After they're in the air, the instructor pilot will decide when it's a good time to hand the controls off to the student in the front. At that point, the student in front will actually be flying the plane, able to move the controls this way and that, and able to get a feel for how the aircraft responds to the controls (the instructor always there to give guidance or take over if safety dictates).

At this point, the student in front gets to fly the plane for 20 minutes!

After 20 minutes, the instructor takes over and they land at the airport. The three students play "musical chairs" and the other two students get to take turns sitting in front and flying the plane for 20 minutes each (the instructor pilot taking off and landing for all three).

Needless to say, I was able to take a discovery flight!

At the beginning of the summer, when all of the staff members were there the week prior to the start of camp, we were getting various in-processing briefings, one of which was by the Director of Aviation. At some point in her briefing, she was telling us about the discovery flight opportunity for anyone curious about Aviation. And . . . she said that the opportunity wasn't limited to just students! If any of us staff members wanted to take a discovery flight, we would just need to get two friends and get a discovery flight scheduled!

Well, at some point that week, I was talking to a new friend/fellow senior counselor, and I'd said, "You know what? That discovery flight opportunity sounded like a lot of fun. I'd love to do one!" And she said, "So would I!" And that's when the lightbulb went on over our heads.

She found a third person who was interested in going with us. The only problem now was trying to schedule it in - we were so busy as senior counselors that we kept saying, "Maybe next week . . . "

Finally, we ended up saying, "We've got to do it now, or we'll miss our chance."

So, July 27,2015, it was!

We were SO excited! And the exciting part was that they had three instructors available and three aircraft available, so we each went up at the same time (taking off one right after the other), so we didn't have to wait our turn - we were up in the sky at the controls at the same time.

And it was SO MUCH FUN!

We were able to fly over the campus, and Lake Maxinkuckee, and I was able to take two laps over the Riding Hall. It was awesome seeing the campus from a plane.

The only downside for me was that I was flying and couldn't take pics. So I only took two pics at the beginning, when the instructor pilot was taking off - just before he handed over the controls. (And I hadn't thought to give him my phone so he could take pics - of the riding hall AND of my being at the controls - until later on that day, when it was too late.)

Here we are, taking off:

Here we are, leveling off and the instructor is just about to have me take the controls:

Ahh, Indiana in the summertime . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Panoramic Views of Our Summer Home

Last summer, Liv and I had the opportunity to spend our summer at Culver Academies' Summer Schools and Camps.

Back when I was a teen, I'd spent two summers at Upper Camp (for kids 14-17 years old) and had a BLAST! And then I ended up having the opportunity to go to high school at Culver Girls Academy.

In May 2014, Andrew, Liv, and I went back to Culver to celebrate my 25th reunion with my classmates (and I'd been to each of my previous 5-year reunions at the 5, 10, 15, and 20 year points). During our time there in 2014, Liv was old enough (at 8 years old) to experience a "Mini Woodcraft Camp" which is an abbreviated version of their summer Woodcraft Camp (for kids 9-14). This is a fantastic experience for kids, where they learn leadership skills and responsibility, and can experience a whole host of activities, from equestrian sports to sailing, ice skating, astronomy, soccer, archery, and even Quiddich (from Harry Potter fame), among many other things.

Anyway, during our weekend at Culver in 2014, since Liv LOVED her experience at Mini Woodcraft, Andrew and I looked into what we needed to do to get her there for Woodcraft 2015.

To make a long story short, Liv ended up attending Woodcraft  2015, and I ended up employed there as a Senior Counselor for a new Upper Camp (14-17 year olds) unit - the girls' mounted unit! So we were both able to spend the summer on a beautiful campus on Lake Maxinkuckee (aka Lake Max).

Since I've been away from blog-writing for a while, I thought I'd ease back into it by sharing a couple panoramic photos of the Culver campus I'd taken with my smart phone.

This first one was taken during the last week of camp, the last week of July 2015. (Click the pic and it should give you a larger view.)

The building off to the left is Eppley Auditorium, where theater, dance, and musical performances (both student and guest performances), movies, meetings, acting/theater/dance classes, and awards ceremonies take place. 

The buildings on the right side of the first picture are academic buildings.

I took this second pic on August 1, after camp was over, and we were ready to head home, after dropping off some final out-processing paperwork related to my employment. I had wanted to take a quick walk around campus one last time, kind of mentally saying goodbye to a place that I cherish.
You'll see the Culver Memorial Chapel just to the left of center, with its steeple pointing skyward. The castle-like building to the right of the clump of trees (in the middle) is the Riding Hall. This is the home of the famous Culver Black Horse Troop and Culver Equestriennes.

(That red line on the ground in the second pic was part of the boundaries of a huge relay race that took part over the summer.) 

Okay, so I was originally planning on just posting the two panoramic pics, but I got carried away explaining. So, there you go. A couple pics with a lot of background information. I will be back soon to post more pics.
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