Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When the Cows Come Home

A good friend of ours raises cattle on his land. The other night I was told one of his cows had a calf. She was having a difficult time with the birth so he went into the field and delivered the baby. He said he had to tie a rope around the legs of the calf and help pull him out.

The next day we were having lunch at his house and visiting for a few hours. When it was time to leave, I saw him preparing a needle of antibiotic to give the calf. I asked if I would be able to go out and see the calf and he told me that I was welcome to tag along.

The closest I have ever been to cows before was looking through the farm fence. Sure sometimes they come up to the fence and see you, but you always know that fence is there.

On this day I found myself walking across their field. It was late in the afternoon and it was getting colder. We passed through one gate and around another. About five cows walked toward us. They were mooing. They were getting within fifty feet and still coming. When they would moo, you could see their breath in the cold. It looked like steam coming from their nostrils. As we walked along the fence line toward the calf, I could feel that a cow was following us. I must have been visibly anxious about it because my friend laughed a bit and said that they wouldn't bother us. We stopped and I turned around. This is what I saw:
You can see that more were on the way. They probably were hoping we would feed them. That wasn't going to be the case for that visit.

He gave the calf her shot and then tried to determine if he had been eating yet. We had carried a bottle of milk out there, but the calf refused to take it. The baby was sitting under the mom's chin and she was very protective of her baby. Everything we did, you could see the mom watching us. She would use her head and push Bill's hands away a bit.
After we determined the calf was doing pretty good for his first day of life, we headed back to the house. Of course, the cows turned and followed us. About half way back they lost interest and we were walking across the fields alone. I told Bill that I'm sure it's just an every day thing for him to walk out there with those cows, but it was so exciting for a city guy like myself.

He told me maybe some day I could come out and help with a birth. THAT would be incredible. But if I'm really going to help, I'll leave the camera back at the house.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sibling Love

Jen was just talking about trying to take nice photos of her kids. She did a great job describing what a horrible experience it can be. That's why I try to sneak up on my kids.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Funnier in the Morning

Things are much funnier at two in the morning. That's about the time I was going to bed the other night. Cari had just gotten up to feed the baby. As I lay down trying to fall asleep, Cari mentioned that the dog needed an updated rabies shot. That seemed like an odd thing to think about while feeding a baby in the middle of the night, but that's what she said.

Then she said she has been looking for the guy at CVS and he hasn't been there in a while. That got my attention. "The guy at CVS?", I asked.
She told me that sometimes there is a guy with a van sitting at the CVS parking lot giving out cheap vaccines.

WHAT!?? I started laughing. I pictured a beat up old van. A man in a half buttoned long sleeve shirt and dirty jeans would be leaning on the vehicle. As people went into CVS to do their shopping he would "psst" them over to the van. "Where's your dog?", he'd ask.

Then people would rush home to get their dog and let him stab the puppy with a needle.
"That'll be five bucks."
If you don't think this story is very funny, come back at two in the morning and read it again. It'll get you laughing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Day of History

I have so much to write tonight. I think I could write a book. Cari, Brenna, and I went exploring today. It was a place I had driven through a few times. I always thought they had some cool buildings in town. This morning I got up and loaded a few geocaches into the GPS for the Pelzer, SC area. It turns out that wasn't necessary, because once we got out there and started exploring this tiny town, I forgot all about geocaching. The history in this town is amazing.

The town was started by Pelzer Manufacturing Company in 1881. They built a textile mill on the river. By the early 1900's the company had built 1,000 homes, five churches, two schools, a library, a dam, and multiple factories. At one point, around 1895, Thomas Edison showed up and witnessed a hydro electric station start up. He helped the company to become among the first in the state to have electric lights in their buildings. They were also among the first mills powered by electricity. They continued growing and would end up building four textile mills in the area.

Once Cari and I got home from our trip today I started working on Google. I had never worked this hard on researching anything when I was in school.

The Pelzer Manufacturing Company owned all the land and all the houses. Everyone that worked there, lived in company owned homes. They made purchases at company owned stores. They went to the churches built by the company. The company even trained their own militia. This was common in the South during the textile mill era. One thing I read today said that over 90% of people in the South lived in a home owned by their employer. Pelzer was one of the largest developments of its kind. .

By the mid 1930's the company was bought out by Yankees (Bank of Boston). It was downhill from there. Strikes, gun battles, lynching of blacks, horrible sanitation, and the depression was just a few of the things I read about.

As you drive around the town you see buildings that have been standing since beginning. Within the past five years, they have started removing some of the production buildings no longer being used.

Here's a handful of photos with descriptions under each one:This is a shot of the dam. The original dam was built in 1881. I didn't find any info about rebuilding this dam or altering it. I don't really know the age of this actual structure. Some of the top sections were made of stone and I believe most of it is original materials. If you look down the center of the photo, you will see circle supports in the water. This was the line of the old bridge. I was standing on a tore up road when I took this. The road continued directly across from me. The NEW bridge is to the left.

This was taken near the bridge where the power plant is. You can see the new bridge in the background. Notice this does not produce power anymore. The mills are gone. All the wires have been cut and the transformers removed. The turbines still generate power, but not to this site. There was a lot of No tresspassing signs up that made me nervous. Funny how a plastic sign can do that to you.

I was still standing where the power plant is located for this shot. Turbine building is located to the left. An empty field sits where the production building once stood. The large building in the background is a warehouse that I would later sneak into. No pictures of that. But I did take a pinch of polyester fabric out of an old bale while I was in there.
This is the front of Pelzer Presbyterian Church. This is one of the five churches built by the mill. This is the original structure. A Sunday school area was built in 1905 at the back. Other than that, it has not been changed since 1896. It's on the National Historic Register.This house is just down the street from the church. I believe from what I read today that this house was lived in by the president of the company. Mr. Smyth.
Driving around the old mill village we came across this building. The old train depot. You can see it needs a few repairs.This building really caught my attention as we were walking today. There was another just like it next door. I believe these buildings to be original to the mill. They were located directly across the street from the mill and one block over from the church. One book I read today described the company stores as white buildings. This may be one of them. They were not very large. Several windows have been busted out and the door was cracked open. I didn't go in.
This was a shot looking inside a busted window of the building above.
Later, when I snuck into the warehouse, I found a similar scene. Trash and office supplies left covering the floors. It's like they just went home on the last day of operation and nobody thought about cleaning the place out.

I took almost 100 photos in Pelzer today. I went home and learned a massive amount about this amazing tiny town. I'll happily go back anytime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bury the Cat

Our cat, Mister, was getting very old. I believe she was 15 years old. Yes, I said she. When we first brought her home as a kitten we thought it was a boy. Turned out he was a she, but we didn't change the name.

Cari called me at work to tell me Mister was looking REALLY bad. She said the cat looked near death and could hardly stand up. I was working until eleven that night and couldn't really do much except listen. Then Cari instructed me to dig a grave for the cat in the backyard.
I should have taken a picture of my face when she told me that. I would have to leave for work around eleven the next morning. How early I would be getting up to dig a three foot hole in the frozen clay. I was not happy.

I told Cari I would not dig the grave in the morning. I told her it would wait one additional day, for my day off. "When the cat dies, wrap her in plastic, and she'll be fine for a day", I said. That was unacceptable to Cari. She threatened to pay the neighbor boy to come do it.

We argued about this for a few minutes before I gave in and said I would dig the grave in the morning. During all this, the cat was still living. Why am I going to get up early to dig a grave for a living cat.
We got off the phone and I went back to work.

An hour later, Cari called again and said that Mister was dead. It was sad. Mister was one of the first things we got together. We used to hang a Christmas stocking for her. At that moment, I wasn't thinking too much about the happy memories. I was too focused on the hole I would dig. I was still frustrated about the whole thing. Can't it wait?

After work, I stayed up and made no effort to get to bed early. I looked outside at the thermometer. 30 degrees. The morning was coming up quick.

Stupid grave.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sledding 2008_1

As promised, I finished my video after work today. I hope you enjoy it.

We don't get to play in snow very often, so when the opportunity comes, we have to take advantage of it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Work in Progress

I started working on the sledding video tonight. It will be less than 3 minutes long when complete. It's taking longer because I can't stop laughing at some of the clips, and I keep watching them over and over again.

When I get home tomorrow evening, I will work hard on getting it finished and posted. You should be able to watch it by Monday morning.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sledding Quick Movie

Cari got this video of me going down the front yard with her camera this morning.

Bread, Milk, and Eggs

We had a winter storm warning last night and today. We may get one snow a year. Cari went to the grocery store yesterday morning and said it was packed. I've learned there are only three things you need when a possible ice/snow storm is approaching.

1. Bread
2. Milk
3. Eggs

Apparently, if you get trapped in your house, it will only be for the duration of one breakfast. I always thought these emergency supplies were in case you lost power at home. If that's the case, your milk will spoil and you will have to eat raw eggs. Doesn't it seem you would be better off buying nonperishable items? When we lived in Florida and were preparing for a hurricane you would buy;

1. Bread
2. Peanut butter
3. bottled water

Even though it doesn't make sense, I swear Cari came home with bread, milk, and eggs. She claims she was going to buy those items storm or not. I'm not so sure.

Sure enough, around seven last night, it started to snow. I was at work until around ten. Driving home was not that bad. There isn't much traffic on the roads I take and it wasn't icy. Just some slush and snow.
It's pretty exciting because we will only see this once a year in most cases. This morning school was canceled and I already have the day off from work. I was out by eight throwing snow balls with the kids.
Then I drove out to the Hagood Mill to see what kind of pictures I could come up with. It was raining out there, so I didn't stay too long. When I got home I found the kids sledding down the hill. I joined them for a while and made a snow man. Did you realize how HEAVY snow is? It took two adults to pick up the middle section.
I made some video sledding down the hill and crashing into the trees. I hope to get that put together soon.
We didn't even have eggs for breakfast this morning!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Photo Show

Last week I submitted two more photos to another show. The theme of the show is "Captured Imagination". A few weeks ago I went through several ideas for the show. I even spent a day shooting for my idea. The result was not good and I felt like I wasted a day. Then I started thinking that captured imagination does not require photoshop. It just needs a certain type of shot. I scanned through some shots from the past year and found about ten I thought would fit. I narrowed it down to three and Cari picked the final two. I spent a day buying some frames and mats. For Christmas, I received a mat cutter and some other tools to do the job myself. Two nights before I had to submit the photos, I was sitting on the floor cutting out the mat. The first one was not easy, but it turned out pretty good. When I started the second one, it was around 11pm. My cut went off line and ruined the entire piece. The next day I was at the store buying another mat.

After submitting the photos, a judge decided what pieces got accepted into the show. I got a card in the mail yesterday telling me that one of mine got accepted. The funny thing is, it was not the one that Cari and I felt was better of the two. Here's the two shots that I submitted. I didn't make time to photograph the framed shots, so you just get the photo.
The wedding shot has a white mat with a wide black frame. The railroad shot has a light tan mat with a oak frame. The railroad shot "Around the Bend", is the one that got accepted.

Friday night, Cari and I will be at the opening of the gallery. I'm pretty excited to see what else made it in. The show is not just photography. It was open to all mediums, both 3D sculptures, and 2D framed art. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

At the bar

While all the pilots sit and get drunk at the airport bar, they might want to watch some television. What do they watch?

Friday, January 11, 2008


We signed Randy up for basketball at the rec center this winter. They went through a few months of practicing three days a week, now they are into their season. The gym gets filled up with all the games, so practices have ended.

So far he has had two games. They won both of those.

It is a lot of fun to watch these guys figure out the sport. It's an instructional league geared toward young boys that are just learning. The ref goes pretty easy on the boys. Double dribble and traveling don't get called most of the time. Last night, a boy decided to see how far he could push the limits.

More Work!

Amanda's stay is over. We drove her to the airport the other day. She has been a tremendous help while she stayed with us, especially with the baby. We all enjoyed having her stay with us through the holidays. Well, except for the last night she was here. That was the night she tried to start a civil war in our house. Thankfully, we all survived the battle, even the boy.

On the drive to the airport it struck me. Who's going to pick up the slack and help out after she leaves? I started to casually beg her into staying longer. When I saw that my efforts were not paying off, I asked Cari the question.

"Now that Amanda is leaving, does that mean I have to help out with the baby again?"
"Yes.", was all Cari said. It isn't the quantity of words that made an impact on me. It was her tone.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Favorite Quote of the Week

Referring to a day out geocaching. . .

Roadrunner said:

"not a bad day using multi-billion dollar government satellites to track down Tupperware in the woods."

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Years Day

Yeah, it was already a week ago. It feels much longer than that to me. I didn't have to work on the first this year. It was cold and VERY windy that day. So we decided to load up the van and go for a walk in the park.
Wow that wind was cold.

We walked around Falls park for a while and took some pictures. It was fun, but it was so cold, that it was a little less fun. When we got home and I started looking at the pictures we had taken,

I found this one. I asked the boy what he was doing and he said he didn't remember.

On our way back to the car Amanda fell in love. I really think this is love at first site. The guy was a little cold to her at first. But once she got her arms around him and gave him a kiss, he warmed right up.
After the park, we took the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese.
We all squeezed into the booth and let Chuck sketch us. It's a pretty good picture. I'll get it scanned for you someday when I have more time. I feel like it is should be Wednesday or Thursday, but I just checked and it's still Monday. Oh, man!
Well, New Years was a great day. Let's hope they are all like that (but warmer) this year.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Upstate Geocaching

I had a great day today. Rake, his daughter (Little One), and Roadrunner drove up to my area for a day of geocaching. We got started around 8:30am.

At one of our first finds of the day, Little One was having a hard time opening the container. She handed it to Roadrunner. He also was having a hard time opening it at first. That's when Rake suggested that a man open it. Little One gave a quick look around and said, "Where's a man?"
We all felt much better about ourselves after that.

Another one of our earlier finds was at this location:

We would discover, after some amount of searching, that the cache was under our feet. It turns out that Little One was standing on it during this picture. The cache was not a plastic container, but one of those hollow rocks you would hide a key in. It blended in perfectly. So much, that when Roadrunner started digging through the rocks a bit, he tossed the cache to the side.

The white cup Rake is holding in this shot came from a scary convenient store that I hope Roadrunner will tell about in his blog. He took some photos in that place. I'll tell you that it wasn't the entire shelf of bagged pickles that scared me most.

One of my favorite views of the day was this old bridge.

A metal structure with a timber floor, coated with asphalt. The bridge is in the woods near the existing bridge. I would not have ever seen the old bridge just by driving past. Thank Geocaching for this find. The bridge is covered in trees and briers. We crossed the bridge then had to make our way down a steep slope. I know this picture may not make it look very steep, but trust me. I was holding every tree branch to not slide the whole way.

Roadrunner found the one near the bridge very quickly.

On our way out, we had to push through some nasty vines and bushes.

After lunch, Rake decided to build a bird house. By hand. With no hammer.
You can see he was very proud of it.

Thanks to Rake's excellent planning, we were able to track down 16 caches today.
The four of us all had a great day. I really appreciate the three of them driving so far to spare me from a long trip. It was great to meet you guys, we'll have to get together again. And really, I don't mind driving. I can come your way too.
I'll end with this picture that shows a common theme in our day. Little One getting surrounded by cameras as she does our dirty work of fetching and re hiding the caches.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


We keep this potted tree outside during the spring and summer. During the winter it tries to survive in front of the window near our dining table.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This lunch seems thin

Last week one day I called Cari while walking to the car on my lunch break. I was carrying my bottle of water and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I asked what they were doing and she said that they were headed out to lunch. Not just any restaurant, my FAVORITE Mexican restaurant.

I tried to make her feel bad as I bit into my sandwich. It might have worked a little bit, but she was still going.

That night at dinner, I asked the kids what they had for lunch. Randy had casadia. I answered him by telling him I drank water for lunch. Next was the girl. She told me how good her tacos were. I told her my jelly was plain. Cari was groaning at this point. She didn't want to hear any more. She offered to make my lunch for the next day. I accepted.

The next morning I had to leave the house by 5:30am. I took a look around in the refrigerator and didn't see a made lunch. I quickly put together a small lunch and went to work. When I called her at lunch time I didn't mention about the food. After a few minutes, she remembered and said that she really would make my lunch for the NEXT day.

Well, that night, as we got into bed, Cari jumped up and went downstairs. I knew that she had forgotten again. I wasn't going to say anything. She came back up within two minutes. I was thinking, "that won't be a very good lunch". She was waving $10 as she entered the room.

"Chik-fil-a will make your lunch for you tomorrow", she declared.

Although she didn't make my lunch herself, she delegated that job to someone else. I called Cari and thanked her for making such a tasty lunch.