Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hummingbird Hunter

The hummingbird was visiting the feeder hanging from our front porch last night. I ran into the office and grabbed my camera and flash. When I got onto the porch, the hummingbird was not there. I set up my flash in a hanging basket of flowers pointed at the feeder. I sat on the bench holding my camera and started to wait.

I continued waiting.

The sun was almost out of sight and I continued to wait.

Then I heard familiar short chirps that I knew to be a hummingbird. I sat up and studied the tree across from me. Last year, that tree was a popular spot for the birds to observe the feeder from.
Then I spotted him. Sitting across from me in that tree, he turned his head, revealing his location to me. This wasn't the shot I was ready for. I slowly put the zoom lens on my camera and put the camera to my face.

Then he flew off. QUICKLY.

He made a brief 1/4 second appearance at the feeder and then was gone again without eating. I went inside to express my frustration to Cari. I couldn't find her in the house, so I went back to my spot on the porch. Now, I couldn't even hear the hummingbird. I felt like he had gone for the night.

As I packed up my equipment, Cari came out to the porch. "Where were you?", I asked.
"I filled the humming bird feeder in the back yard." she said. "I came out to tell you there was a bird on it."

"Why would you fill the back feeder when I am trying to stalk the birds on the front one? You just gave them an option to escape me."

She answered with a smile.

My stuff was already packed up, so I picked up and went inside. The sun was completely down and it was too dark to get the shot I wanted. I peered out the back window at the feeder Cari had filled. One hummingbird was finishing his meal as I stood there, then quickly flew off toward some trees. He may have escaped me tonight.

Next time will be a different story.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where is my time?

Finding some quiet time has been rough this week. It's all I can do just to get these pictures up tonight.

Hope in the next few days I'll be able to start writing some more. I also have not been able to read any blogs this week. I hope to get caught up by the end of the week. Thanks for the comments everyone. I'll try and get you another update tomorrow night.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Freedom Weekend Aloft

I have waited all winter and spring for this single weekend. A memorial day celebration in Simpsonville featuring hot air balloons.

Freedom Weekend Aloft.

A huge crowd came out to the four day event. We went on Saturday. We parked in a huge field about a mile from the park. A long line of buses waited to take people into the park. This system worked VERY well for handling such a large crowd.Tons of things to do at the event. One of our favorites was the dog catching frisbee competition (I don't know what in the world they call it). Pretty much anyone could enter their dog into this contest. The people that did enter were amazing. These dogs have been highly trained and the trainers could probably whoop me in frisbee golf. I have lots of photos of the dogs in action. Jumping off the trainers back to catch a frisbee. Flipping in the air to catch a frisbee. One woman trainer really sticks out in my mind. She would fling that disc about thirty or more yards and the dog would be hauling to get it. She started screaming, "RUN!! GET IT!! HURRY!" And you know what? That dog hustled even harder. The dog visibly pushed and went faster. It was pretty cool.

We watched a magician and a juggler take the stage while we got a drink. The only negative to the day was how incredibly hot it was.
(Meredith tries to find some shade)
Around 5:30 or 6:00pm we headed toward the large field to see the hot air balloons. THIS is the part I was waiting for.(The crowd cheers as this balloon floats overhead. A man in the basket was cheering back to the crowd)

Saturday night was a contest. Two giant "X"'s were laid in the field. The balloon pilots had to go a minimum of one mile away, fly back toward the park, and drop a bean bag marker on the "X". Whoever got closest, wins.

This created one of the slowest races you will ever see. It also showed how much steering could really be done with a balloon. Not much at all. Most balloons drifted far to the left or to the right of the field. A few balloons got close and dropped their markers. One even lowered himself ALMOST to the ground, leaned out of the basket and dropped his marker in the middle of the "X". (the red check balloon nears the cross)
The crowd cheered for his skill at this. It was really interesting to watch this take place, and beautiful to watch the balloons coming toward us.

After the balloons landed, it was time to go. A long line of buses waited to take a long line of people back to the cars.

The festival organizers did a fabulous job. Great time.
I am about twenty minutes past my bed time, so I'm going to add pictures to this post tomorrow night. For now, you can click the box on the right and see some balloon pictures I have posted on Flickr.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My head. The voices in my head

I have several things to tell you about. It's going to have to wait until another day.
The children haven't stopped talking to me for more than five minutes today. That's not really a problem. We went outside and played. We came in and played. I've discovered they can not be wore down.

I just sat down for the first time today and I started to write. In the ten minutes I was starting and collecting my thoughts, I was interrupted five times. SERIOUSLY!

Obviously I will not be able to relax and write the post I want to, so maybe we'll try again tomorrow. I have quite a bit to write and I'll have to wait for some quiet time to do it.

In the two minutes it took to type this, Randy told me that dinner is ready and Cari came in to tell me dinner is ready. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Friday was my last day at work before I moved to another location with the same company. I have been in the current spot for almost three years.

I knew that some would try to play tricks on me, so I prepared a trick against the office. Hopefully my assault would come unexpected and throw them off balance.

Early in the day I thought of my plan. A bit after lunch, my good friend Rick calls. Rick used to work in this location. He and I have had many prank battles and lots of great times.

I explained my plan to Rick. On Friday morning, I would arrive at work before anyone got in the office. I would fill the office with shopping carts. It would be awesome. Who wants to deal with that at 7am?
A lover of pranks, Rick approved. He even helped me plan it to be better.

A bit after 5pm on Thursday one of the office girls told me the office manager was expecting a room of carts in the morning. WHAT!!!?? HOW COULD THIS BE!!!??? The office manager is friends with Rick. He wouldn't. . . no! He just wouldn't do that. . . would he?

It turns out he did NOT tell the manager what was coming. During my planning stages, she caught on. With her expecting the joke, I had to abandon the plan.

Friday morning I arrived at work and walked into the office. I pulled one wheel off of each rolling chair and hid them in the shredder bin. Then I left. I did not want to be present when she sat in the chair and tipped it.

Fifteen minutes after 7am, she called me. "Where are my wheels?"
I started laughing. I refused to tell her. Still on the phone, I heard her telling my boss. He laughed and walked off. Finally, she stole a wheel off of another chair to repair her own.

An hour later, the next girl comes into the office. She sits in the chair and tips it. She also robs from the last remaining chair to repair hers. I walk into the office and the last chair is sitting in the corner. Three of five wheels missing. When the last person arrived at work, she complained about the chair missing wheels. I blamed the other two and left the office. Success!

They played along later in the day by taking shrink wrap and wrapping my car. I found out about it and cut it off shortly after lunch. By the time I was leaving work this afternoon, my car had been re-wrapped. This time with toilet paper. I think I got out pretty easy.


Yeah, the last post was about urine. As you can see from the title, this one is about blood. No video tonight. You'll thank me later.

Randy has been sick all week. Very high fever for the past few days. Not many other symptoms other than the fever. He had to leave school early on Wednesday because of being sick, so Cari took him to the doctor. The doctor really couldn't diagnose anything and sent Cari to the hospital with him. Cari called me at work and had me meet them at the hospital.

They wanted to take x-rays of his chest to check for pneumonia and they also wanted to draw some blood and check for bacteria.

I arrived just after the x-rays were done. We headed back to have some blood drawn.
Randy doesn't remember ever having shots or stuck with needles before, and he had no fear of it.

The chair looked a bit like a high chair. He sat down and a tray was placed in front of him to rest his arms. The nurse said she needed two samples and would like to take one out of each arm. As she prepped his arm, he started looking a bit nervous. Cari held his hand and talked with him as they stuck his left arm. He winced and moaned a bit, but didn't cry. Cari bragged how brave he was being.

Me? I stood in the doorway quietly watching. As the nurse finished drawing the first sample, I started to feel a bit warm. By the time the nurse was prepping his second arm, I was sweating. I started to feel a bit weak. I walked into the hallway and sipped my water. I was about to pass out.

Something about needles and drawing blood just does not work for me. Anytime I have been with Cari and she had to get stuck, I always turn around or leave the room.

So, I stood in the hallway turning pale. I could hear Cari talking to Randy still. I was not getting better. Cari pointed out how much braver Randy was behaving compared to dad. I leaned on the wall and felt no better. Finally, I walked back to the waiting room and slumped into a chair. Slowly sipping my water and trying to calm myself.

Cari came out just a minute later with Randy. He wasn't crying. Cari smirked at me, "you are green." I didn't even reply. Maybe she wasn't laughing, but it sounded like it to me. She asked if I could drive home. It took just three minutes before I was ready.

With all the violent video games and movies I have witnessed, I'm not sure what it is about seeing blood drawn that breaks me down. Next time Cari calls me to meet at the hospital, I'm staying in the waiting room until the blood work is done.
---Randy is feeling much better today. Fever much lower. Don't know what the cause was.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Piece of the Puzzle

Another piece of the office puzzle has been completed. A small table and two chairs.
We also found a brass duck at an antique store yesterday. I put to use some cool photo coasters we got last Christmas from Becky & Grant.
To finish it off, I printed a panoramic of the Poinsett Bridge from last week.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Follow the Directions

After my hike this morning, I decided to finish trimming up the trees in the front yard. Three oak trees and a maple tree.

As I cut, the kids dragged the branches over to the circle of sand that is reserved for the pool. The pool is not up, so the sand has become my burn pit.

It didn't take long, or many matches, to get a good fire going. By dinner I was throwing the last branches on the fire. Mission accomplished.

Next on the list was to build the wagon that has been in my trunk since Cari purchased it two months ago. The school needs to borrow the wagon tomorrow, so I actually had to get this done.

I set the box on the ground near the car, empty the contents, and throw the box on my fire. After walking back over to the spread of parts, I open the instructions.

"Step 1: Do not destroy the packing and carton until the unit is completely assembled."

I glanced over at the box engulfed in flames. Then up at Cari. "What's wrong?", she asked.
I just handed her the instructions and she started laughing.

By the way, the wagon came out ok.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Beat down by the Man

Our friends that live about two blocks away had a garage sale last weekend. They put some signs on the main road directing people into our subdivision. Those signs helped get people to the sale. It also helped the law find them.

"Can we see your permit?", the officer asked.
My friend was confused. "Permit?"
The officer explained in city limits, you have to have a permit for a garage sale.

This is just another reason Cari and I don't live in the city limits. We haven't had a garage sale, but if we do, we certainly don't want to get a permit. When you live in the city limits they just find ways to remind you of their control. They probably wouldn't let you burn trash in your yard either.

So the officer told my friends they would have to get the permit within the week to stay out of trouble. On Monday, she went downtown and told them she needed a post-sale permit.

The fee: $3.00
It would have been easier to give the officer a few paperback books and a t-shirt from the sale.
What's the fine for bribery?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you! (not you, dad, you have to wait a month)

I hope all of you that are mothers have a great day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Have you ever eaten at Sonic? Over the past year I have really started to love their drinks and their slushes. Especially during the summer. The Sonic near the house even does 1/2 price on drinks during the day. Recently I actually ate a Sonic burger. It was very good.

Here's what confuses me of Sonic. If you haven't been there, you have to understand what Sonic is about. It's like an old fashion drive in. You pull up, place your order and someone on skates will come out to your car. That person will take your money and make change right there. They will also bring your food right to your car. It's really a great system. You don't have to get out of the car, you just pull up, turn off the car, and eat your lunch in the shade. Or after you get your food, feel free to drive off.

So will someone PLEASE tell me why Sonic has a drive-thru lane?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Poinsett Bridge

I got up this morning, drank a few sips of coffee and loaded up the car. Camera equipment, GPS, Mp3 player, a packed lunch, and the rest of my morning coffee were put in the car and I headed out.

About forty minutes later I arrived at Poinsett Bridge. I have been to the bridge one other time for a brief visit. This time I took my time taking pictures and admiring the stone work. Joel Poinsett was the person that commissioned the bridge to be built, and supervised its construction.
The bridge was constructed in 1820 as a part of the South Carolina state highway. The highway linked Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC.

Joel Poinsett was once the US ambassador to Mexico. He is the one that brought the Poinsetta plant to the United States and the Christmas plant was named for him.

There isn't much water going through the creek that the bridge crosses, making it pretty easy to walk under the arch and get photos from a lot of angles.

After about two hours, I sat down on the bridge and ate my lunch. After lunch, I went back to getting some more pictures while I listened to my Mp3 player. The road can not be seen from the creek below. That explains how the two officers were able to surprise me as they walked under the arch. I caught one in a photo by accident. They apologized for getting in my shot and asked if I was taking pictures for a publication. Then they left. I think they were there on a break or something. There is nothing around this area to be policed.

I spent over three hours around the bridge this morning. Over two hundred pictures were taken. Six of the photos made it onto my flickr page, so you can view them there. This was the first photo shoot that I turned off all automatic settings on the camera and learned how to choose the settings myself. I think I got some good ones.

Poinsett Bridge was a beautiful place to spend the morning. A very relaxing place to sit and look while listening to the water on the rocks. Until the law shows up.


I went out to take some pictures today. I spent the day alone, quietly taking pictures of this 187 year old stone bridge. Alone, that was, until the law showed up.

More later tonight.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Little House

About a week or two ago, I went for a hair cut. Getting a hair cut is not something I enjoy. I don't like to spend the money on it, and I don't like to sit and wait.

Most times, I don't have to wait for this barber, but this past time there was four people in front of me. There is only one barber in the shop, so I waited. He was closed due to being sick the day before, so I guess there was a back log of people with long hair.

As I sat waiting patiently, I watched the TV that hangs in the corner. After being there about twenty minutes, I started reading a magazine. That's when I heard the music. A very familiar song. It was the opening to Little House on the Prairie. I put the magazine down. Little House has got to be one of the best shows ever. I used to love watching it. I watched for about ten minutes, then it was my turn for a cut. I was the last customer. I thought about making the barber wait so I could see what Charles Ingles was going to do.

I finally got up for my hair cut. I normally make small talk with the barber. This time I was listening to Little House, so I didn't say much to Mark. It was funny, maybe he was tired, because he didn't say much to me either. Then again, maybe he likes listening to Little House as much as me.

Then this past Sunday, I got dressed and came down stairs for church and I see Meredith wearing this dress. This is now the "Little House" dress. I really like this dress on Meredith, and it again reminded me of this wonderful program.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saving Money

Cari loves to come home from shopping showing me how much money she saved.
"How much do you think this costs?", she will ask while holding up the newest piece of clothing.
"Twenty dollars for that shirt."
She smiles, "Only ten dollars. It was twenty five! I saved us fifteen dollars!"
"Oh, wonderful.", I think to myself. Never mind the fifteen she saved, where did she find the ten that was spent?

A few months ago I was wanting to buy a MP3 player. Cari has one, and we share it, so she said I didn't need one. Of course I didn't NEED one, but I really did want one. The guys at work got some Samsung units that use touch screen type controls, has a nice screen, and has slide out, built in speakers. The built in speakers are great. Also a rechargeable battery that charges when plugged into USB on your computer.

I never got one. Never only lasted until last week. One of the guys at work wanted to sell his so he could buy an iPod.

When I got home from work I looked at Cari and held up my new MP3 player. "How much do you think this costs?"
She didn't have a lot of enthusiasm when she replied, "How much did you spend?"
"Well, it retails for $179.00.", I told her proudly.
She still wasn't excited. "How much did you spend?"
I turned it on and slid out the speakers so she could hear it. She didn't look impressed.

As the music played, I told her, "I paid forty dollars. I saved us $139.00!"

Never mind where I got the $40, this thing is awesome.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

You Atheist!

Cari and I walked over and met the Atheist and his pregnant wife. Here, I thought she was just fat, but turns out she is pregnant. She is due in October. Only a month off of our baby due in November. Maybe our kid will teach their kid about Jesus.

We stood in their driveway and talked for a little bit. Where do you work, what's your name, kind of thing. The girls talked about the possibility of shopping together. We told them about some of the other neighbors on the block, including the unfriendly Yankees two doors to the other side of us.

They both seemed friendly. . . considering that he is an Atheist.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mental game

Do you know how to make someone feel like they are getting a great deal? First you tell them some inflated price or number. Then as they talk you down and you accept, they feel like they got a great deal. At the end of the deal, you got what you wanted and the other person feels like they got one great bargain.

Cari has been talking about getting a new kitten since the lost of Maggot. I guess one cat, one dog, two kids, and a new baby just isn't enough in this house. I wasn't really fighting getting a new kitten, but I can't say I was excited about it.

I was at work the morning Cari was headed to the humane society. She called me and told me she was going to come home with a kitten or two.

"OR TWO!!??"

Cari explained that the kitten would need a playmate. "Wouldn't it be so much fun to watch two kittens play together?"

"Ummm. . .no. I think one kitten will be plenty." She was really pushing for two kittens for a few minutes. After being wore down I finaly just told her to get what she wanted to get. Isn't that what was going to happen anyway?

An hour later, I got a text message. "home with one kitten"
At that moment, getting one new kitten felt like I had won. Like I got a great bargain. I wouldn't have felt that way if she didn't fight so hard for two.

Meredith got to name the new kitten, since the dog is technicaly Randy's pet. She chose "Candy". A horrible cat name in my mind. I didn't complain to Meredith of course, but it is going to take some length of time before I'm willing to call this cat, "Candy".

The other cat that already resides here doesn't appreciate this kitten at all. The dog wants to taste her, and the kids don't want to put her down.

Here's some photographs of the new kitten.Adorable. Maybe we should have gotten two.