Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I got flashed yesterday and I enjoyed it.  Initially, I was caught off guard from it and didn't know how to react so I just smiled and waved.  What else should I have done?  It's not every day someone flashes me.

Thinking back, I think I may have only been flashed somewhere around five to ten times in my life.  In some ways that sounds like a lot.  In some ways, it isn't nearly enough.

After I was flashed, I slowed down a bit as I rounded the corner and, sure enough, I saw the waiting patrol car sitting on dirt beside the road.  I wasn't speeding prior to the truck flashing me, but I still appreciated his gesture.

When I was out of view of the law, I thought about flashing someone heading that direction so I could return the favor, but I didn't encounter anyone before I made my turn.  Then I started thinking about it, and I don't believe I  have ever flashed my lights at someone to warn them.  Maybe once.  I can't remember for sure.  But if I did, it was no more than once.

How about you?  How many times would you say that you have been warned of upcoming police by flashing headlights?  How many times have you warned others?  Did you enjoy it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So Hungry!!

I was traveling a bit this past week for work around six thirty in the morning.  At that hour, this billboard caught my attention and had me laughing for about five minutes.

If it doesn't seem that funny to you, come back and read this at six thirty in the morning.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The movie Fireproof has been out for a while.  I have never had a real interest in seeing it.  It seemed to be a movie for couples with problems in their marriage, and since my marriage is very good, I didn't pay attention to the movie.

A lot of churches have played it during small groups and had discussions on it. My friends that had seen it told me to watch it and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I resisted their request even when they told me that couples that are perfectly happy would appreciate it.

Recently Cari said she wanted us to watch it and she was going to get it from the library.  I still resisted.  I didn't refuse to watch it, but didn't make it a priority.  I thought the movie would be kinda hokey.

Cari finally broke my resistance and we watched Fireproof this week.  I now have to admit that it was a good movie.  I really enjoyed watching it with her and I will now join my friends in highly recommending this film to all couples.  I really appreciate Cari going and getting that movie and enjoyed watching it with her!

I'm not going to give you a full review here, there are plenty already written on the internets, but I'll tell you that the movie has some funny moments in it, some sad moments in it, and a lot of good information.

When the movie was over, we turned off the television and Cari looked at me and said, "So what did you learn?"
A tip for any guys reading this:  Telling her that being a fireman is dangerous work wasn't an acceptable answer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


There is probably only two more times to cut the grass until Spring.  One of those times was going to be last Saturday.  

When I got up Saturday, it was raining.  At lunch time, it was raining.  In the evening, I got off the couch and poked my head out the door . . .rain.  I wasn't upset about missing grass cutting at all. 

Sunday - rain.

Monday, I was working, but after work - rain. 

Again on Tuesday I was at work and when I got home the sun was shining.  We had some other things to do and I didn't have time to cut the grass.  

So here we are on Wednesday afternoon.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the grass is two feet tall!!  Now I don't want to even try cutting grass!  Let's go for a hike!

Monday, September 21, 2009


If you own a Nintendo DS then you need to go get a copy of Scribblnauts today.

Here's the website: SCRIBBLENAUTS

The game presents you with a series of challenges (200 + levels) and you decide how to solve each one.  In one situation, there is a man standing on an island.  You are told "Get him off the island."   The first time I solved this puzzle I typed kayak into the game and a small kayak appeared.  I gave it to the man and completed the level.  Another time I typed in "front loader" and a yellow construction vehichle appeared and I shoved him off of the island.  There are endless ways you can do this.  There are over 20,000 words recognized by the game and you are free to solve each puzzle in any way that you think may work.

Another example is an early level with a butterfly flying above your head.  You are told to get the butterfly.  It is too high up to get with a net. What would you use?

Scribblenauts is unlike any game that I have ever played.  Being able to type in any object and see it appear in the game is really cool.  Yes, certain items are more useful than others, and you can use those items for a lot of levels.  But I've been having more fun trying to create new ways to solve problems.  In fact, you are rewarded if you can solve a level three times in a row without repeating any items.

You can also create your own levels and share them with friends online.  So anyone reading this, let me know if you go get the game.  I've been playing it this week and I'm just now starting to feel creative with my solutions.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waterfall at Home

After I got out of the shower, Cari came running upstairs to tell me that water was flowing from the ceiling downstairs.  Somewhere around the upstairs bathtub, there was a leak.

I went downstairs and saw the water dripping pretty steadily from a huge wet spot in the textured ceiling.  The good news is that the leak was in the laundry room and not the dining room!  I took a knife, cut a hole into the ceiling, and water poured steadily onto my head.   For a moment, I thought about cutting a hole in the floor of the laundry room and just letting the water run straight down under the house.

Cari didn't like the idea of a waterfall at home, so I continued to investigate the leak.  From downstairs it was hard to see where the water originated.  It was leaching through some insulation and there is no telling how far the water traveled before dripping down.

Back upstairs with my knife, I started cutting a hole in the bedroom wall so that I could access the shower valve.  I identified that the water only leaked when the shower was on.  "Don't use this shower.", I declared.  Then I went to work.

That was a little more than a week ago and we still don't use the upstairs shower.  This is particularly annoying because the downstairs tub is filled with plastic bath toys and my arms are constantly bumping stuff.  Upstairs, we have a curved shower rod installed that makes the shower feel so much bigger.  Also, every morning getting ready for work, I constantly have to run from upstairs to downstairs as I try to put myself together.

Cari asked me when I would fix the shower and I told her it would be a few more days before I had time to do it.  I told her the leak may be up near the shower head in the wall and I would have to tear up more of our bedroom to get to it.  Hopefully not.

Last night, my family of plumbers did some testing to find the source of the leak.  Meredith took a bath upstairs and then Randy took a shower.  All the while, Cari was peering through the hole in the wall to watch for water drips.  She figured out the problem and determined that the tub spout was loose, allowing water from the shower to run behind the tub spout and into the back of the tub.   A little tightening and a little caulking, and the problem is fixed!

I caulked last night, so we'll see how it goes later this morning.  Hopefully the waterfall has been stopped.

Now someone has to fix the holes I cut.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chattooga River - part 2

It didn't take long for us to scout out a great site next to the river and start setting up camp at Burrell's Ford.  Rake and I got to work on our small tents and Aaron built his camping hammock.  My tent is a one man tent and is small.  I can mostly sit up in it at one end, or lay down, and that's it.  I didn't realize the size until I was sleeping with my backpack inside by my legs.  Next time the pack stays out.

After building camp we went down and waded in the water a bit.  There was a large tree that had fallen across the river, forming a natural bridge that I stood on for a while.  Aaron joined me on the log and started to cut away my hand holds away for fire wood.

Back at camp I found some food and organized my things a bit.  Aaron was away from camp for a little while and when he came back, I noticed his hair was all wet.  He said he felt much better after cleaning up in the river a bit.  I decided that sounded like a great idea and headed down to the river (in my jeans).

I splashed water on my arms, face, and neck.  The water was cold and very refreshing.  I bent down and rubbed the water through my hair before standing up and looking down river.  There was no one else out there at the time.  Just me and the sound of the water rushing over the rocks.   What an awesome feeling to be standing in that river among the beauty that God has created!

That night I ate some crackers for dinner.  Rake was digging into a packaged Tuna meal,

and Aaron thought he would do some cooking.  His cooking turned into my entertainment as I finished my dinner.  Without all the details, I'll just tell you I don't remember what he ate.  Whatever it was, I'm not convinced it was cooked properly.

Of course we had a camp fire that night.  Can you camp without one?  The fire was going good and we all sat staring into it until the ultra late hour of 8:30pm.   That was when we called it quits and got to bed.

It was warm, and I started out on top of my sleeping bag.  By morning, I was in the bag, zipped up and cozy!
It was about 7:30am when I crawled out of my tent to find my partners still asleep.  I headed out to the river with my MP3 player and watched the water for a bit.  My shoulders and neck didn't hurt as bad as they did Saturday night.  In fact, they didn't seem to hurt at all and I was surprised I wasn't in pain.

At night, I had put my food with Aaron's on the other side of camp, hanging in a bag.   Rake decided to keep his food in his tent.  He said he would risk the bear foraging in the night and be the one to get attacked.  I tried to appreciate his sacrifice, but his tent was just too close to mine.  Either way, the bag of food was untouched and so was my tent.

We had just a few miles to hike on Sunday, so we took our time closing up camp and getting our packs back on.  The first stop Sunday morning was King's Creek Falls.

That was the last landmark of our trip.  We posed for photos and talked about what we had seen on Saturday before hitting the trail back to the car.  It had been a very good backpacking trip.  Hard work for sure, but very rewarding.

This backpacking adventure was about three guys heading into the wilderness, carrying everything they needed on their backs.  Sometimes we walked silently on the trail, just listening to Rake's sleeping bag smacking his butt.  Other times we joked and laughed together.  When we would stop for a break, we'd marvel at the amount of water that Aaron squeezed from his head band.  Or at the fact that I was hiking more than ten miles on a hot day in a pair of jeans.  This trip pushed us to try harder when we thought we couldn't.  I guess that's why it was suggested our next trip be during the winter so we could add freezing cold to our list of challenges.

A big thanks for an awesome first experience with backpacking goes to Aaron, Rake, and of course, the Chattooga River!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chattooga River

For my first backpacking adventure, I headed out to the Chattooga river with my friends Rake and Aaron.  The Chattooga forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina and has been listed as a "Wild and Scenic" river.  This title affords it some very special protections from development.  The river is also surrounded by national forest lands on both the Georgia and South Carolina sides.   This makes for a great hiking environment.

We set out and quickly found ourselves at Licklog falls where we encountered our first group of backpackers.  Two men and a dog had camped there the previous night and told us a bit about where we were heading.  We wished each other well and departed.

As we hiked the trail, I really enjoyed our short encounters with other backpackers.  All of them were friendly and there was an instant bond in the common fondness of torturing our bodies with heavy packs on a hot day.
One couple that comes to mind was the pair we met later in our day.  I'm sure we looked exhausted, but to me, they looked very fresh on the trail.  Being out in the middle of nowhere, I knew this wasn't the case.  In fact, everyone looked fresher than I felt.   They were coming from where we were going and we asked them about some possible campsites up ahead.  She told us we were headed into the "high country" and the sites would be beyond that.  While she spoke, her silver ring glinting in the sun and had caught all of our attention.  Before they continued on the trail, she held up her hand to show us the ring. "We just got engaged!", she told us with enthusiasm.  We congratulated the happy couple before heading toward the "high country".   "Did she say high country?", I asked.

"My heart sank when I heard her say that.", Aaron replied.

Getting up that hill at Round Top mountain was made a bit easier with some of my new equipment.  Some items that I didn't take as seriously prior to the hike, I now know are vital.  The first of those is the pair of hiking poles I happened to pick up on a Wal-mart clearance shelf.  From the beginning of the day, I relied on those poles to help keep me from falling, and later, to help support my weight.  Rake also taught me Saturday morning that hiking poles make good spider web removers as he lead our group along the trail.

Another piece of gear that I learned to treasure on the trip was my new water bladder that fit neatly in the pack.  With a tube coming out and over my shoulder, I was able to sip water much more frequently then we would stop for a break.  Having water that available is something I will not do without anymore.

There was gear that I learned I may consider for next time.  Like proper hiking clothing.  Both of my partners wore hiking pants that had plenty of pockets, were light weight, and unzipped at each leg to convert into shorts.  Meanwhile, I traveled in jeans.  Although not uncomfortable, they were heavier and slowed me down from playing in the river past ankle deep.

Lunch time on Saturday was a favorite moment of the weekend.
 We found a place on the river that was littered with boulders.  After a few minutes of quietly enjoying the river, we started exploring the shore and wading in the water.  Stopping at a large rock above the water, we contemplated jumping in for a swim.  Unsure of the depth, we chose not to risk the jump.  Had I not been in jeans I may have done it, and I wasn't going to be pulling off my jeans to jump in unless someone else did it first.  After Rake finished counting fish, we packed up our gear for more walking.

All together we hiked around ten miles on Saturday.  It was somewhere around five pm and the eight mile mark that I felt like I had reached my limit.  We stood at a promising riverside campsite and discussed our options.  "This site looks great!", I voted.  Rake consulted his map and Aaron, who never sat down, wanted to go on.  So the three of us pushed onward to our destination of Burrell's Ford campground.

Check back in a day or so to learn about our camp, river baths, and Sunday adventures.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alive and Well

This late Sunday update is to let you know we (Aaron, Rake, and myself) have emerged from the wilderness alive and well.

Photos and stories to come this week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Camping Level Up

I've decided to take camping to the next level.  Backpacking.

Everything you want or need must be hauled in on your back.  No more loading a car full of snacks, cookware, radios, games, and chairs.  If I want it, it must be in the bag on my back.  

I'm really excited to get going and I have a lot of new gear to try out.  For this first trip, I had a lot to purchase, including a backpack and a small tent.  
I don't plan on doing any cooking while on this one night trip.  That would mean carrying more stuff.  Instead I will eat trail mix, crackers, cereal bars, and jerky (mmmm... jerky). 

Initially, I opted to leave the sleeping bag at home because I thought it would be warm enough.  I am now not sure of the weather and have purchased a new sleeping bag.    

Water will be the one thing I will not try to go light on.  In fact, water will be the heaviest thing I will be carrying.  At least the bag will be lighter on the 2nd half of the trip.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


The other day I told you about the Union UMC cemetery and in that post I put a photo of this tombstone for Maria Ferguson.  
I thought that it was odd that it had a pentagram engraved onto the stone.  I have never associated a pentagram with Christianity and in fact, have never seen one on a tombstone in my time exploring these old cemeteries.

I did a bit of searching and found some information on Wikipedia that explained how early Christians used a pentagram.  Wikipedia offers a few explanations, including that the five points were the five virtues of a knight or that the five points were the five wounds of Jesus.  One on each foot, one on each hand, and one in his abdomen (the top of the star) when he was struck while on the cross.

The problem with all of this information is that the Christians used a pentagram with the center point at the top.  Ms. Ferguson has one upside down.

I continued searching into the late hours last night, when I should have been asleep, and found a photograph of the same pentagram with the icons in each point.

This is a pentagram used by the Order of the Eastern Star.  They are a Masonic group but a little different than the main Masonic organisation.  The OES allows women into the group as long as they have a certain relationship to a man that has reached a high level in the Masons.  Such as a wife, daughter, or sister.  The order was started in 1850.  I'm not going into detail on what these groups are about, but I will tell you that each of the five points in that pentagram represent a specific female from the Bible.  The center image is an open Bible.

So Maria was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star.  The other thing that struck me as odd was that this is a black cemetery and I am surprised that blacks would be involved in the Masons of the South during the early 1900's.  

So I continued to read...

That's when I started to read about Prince Hall chapters of the Masonic Lodge.  Prince Hall chapters seem to be a black fraternity that is inline with the Masonic organisation.  Prince Hall Lodges were started in 1784.  Prince Hall was a free African American that was a Master Mason in the 1700's and helped form the African lodges.   I don't believe that all Masonic organisations recognize their Prince Hall brothers, but the top of the organization in England DO recognize them as official.

The church building at Union was built in the 1970's and the corner stone lists a Masonic Lodge at the bottom.  That lodge is a member of the Prince Hall chapter.

So, I answered some questions about why a pentagram would be inscribed onto a black woman's tombstone and I learned a bit more about free masons.  I'm still a little curious about Maria.  There doesn't seem to be any male Ferguson's buried in the cemetery and I wonder what her relationship was to join the Order of the Eastern Star.  I also wonder if a woman that was in a growing fraternity like that would have been more educated or more of a role model in the black community during those years.

If I am able to learn more about Maria or the Union Church, you'll be the first to know.   You never know, this research might lead into a new National Treasure movie!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Union Cemetery

An old cemetery and abandoned church building was brought to my attention by my friend, Jewell, as I talked to her about finding some local historical spots.

Only five minutes from the house, I was unimpressed by the bland, block building. A rectangular building with few windows, and oddly, only three sides painted. I pushed on the door but could only open it partially, as it was blocked by carpeting that has come loose. Inside I could see rows of pews, a small piano at the front, and artificial flowers still sitting on the alter.

A corner stone on the building noted that it was built in the 1970's but that the church was organized in the late 1800's. I walked across the street to the mostly unkept cemetery. This is really what I wanted to see.

The Union United Methodist cemetery is a black cemetery and has been used into the 1980's from what I could tell. Toward the back, into the woods, I started to see many un-labeled graves. These are graves marked only with a stone sticking up from the ground. In a few areas, I moved some debris and found a stone marked only with initials. One of the more interesting stones was a hand carved one in the back. It is hard to read, but tells that Cota died on June 2, 1888.

The mis-spelled, hand carved stone is one I don't see often in old cemeteries but had seen before. It normally belongs to a poor, or uneducated black church from that era.
Initially, it was hard to find some history on this spot, but I did get a bit of information on its early history from the Pickens Sentinel newspaper dated October 18, 1871.
Union United Methodist Church, located three miles north of Liberty on
Campground Road, had its beginning in 1870 at a brush arbor on its present site.
A deed was recorded on November20, 1872, from William Banks to the trustees of
the Methodist Episcopal Church "where on stands a house of worship." Members and
friends of the community would gather once per year for a week of camping and
church services. The activities ended on a Sunday with Camp Meeting which lasted
all day.

The Colored Camp Meeting. The greatest camp meeting that ever has been witnessed
in Pickens County, among the colored people, was held at Union Church,
commencing the 4th inst. and ending the 80r. The meeting was conducted by order
of Rev. R. A. Fletcher. Those who labored with him were Rev. George Gray, Rev.
Patrick Fair, and also Simmons and Goodlett. The result was that 101 members
took sacrament. 8 were baptized l3 received into full fellowship and 2l on
probation, making, in all 34 additions to the church, and there were also 18
conversions. The meeting was well attended. Mr. A.M. Folger was present, with
his Bibles for sale. The pulpit was occupied on Sunday by Rev. R.A. Fletcher.
The order of the meeting was excellent. The meeting closed on Monday at l0
o'clock. After the benediction was pronounced, all went home, rejoicing in
the Lord for their successful camp meeting at Union. (Pickens Sentinel l8 Oct
1871, p. 2, col. 3)

The present church structure, erected in 1973 under the pastoral leadership of
John L. Pendarvis and Julius L. Scipio, replaced a building that had lasted for
more than half a century.

The membership of fifteen persons are descendents of families associated with
the history of the church. The Julius Thayer Family, the Frank Thayer Family,
the Bright Hunter Family, the Ervin McDowell Family, the Rhone Family, the Riley
Ferguson Family are representative of the membership throughout in the history
of the congregation.

Being on the same Methodist charge, Union Camp Ground and Robinson Chapel
always shared pastors. Known in the beginning as Union Camp Ground, later as
Union Methodist Episcopal Church, the church is today known as Union United
Methodist Church.
Contributed by: Anne Sheriff
After a few emails, I was also given a name to a local pastor that may have some additional information on this church. As I continue my mission to learn the history, I'll share any interesting bits I come across. It turns out that this seemingly unimpressive building has an impressive history.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Coming Soon...

Day 5 of being sick.

Although I have been sick and in bed since Wednesday, I have managed to dig up some interesting bits of local history for you. That and some interesting photos are coming in the next days.

I have also managed to read probably the best history book I have can remember reading this week. A book by Jerry Alexander, detailing life at a textile mill village in the early 1900's. Mr. Alexander does an outstanding job of describing daily life at Cateechee, SC in his book: The Cateechee Story. If you are interested in history, Google that book and buy it!

I started feeling better last night and this morning, so I expect my next post not to be a short, random string of words.

Meanwhile, here's one of the baby:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My Model

A short blog for a sick day.

Here's another one of my favorite model:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Roll Naked!

Cari and I were in the backyard and she motioned with her outstretched arm to the entire yard as she said, "Go clean up the dog poop."

"The dog only goes in one part of the yard. Don't worry about it.", I replied. She didn't really care for my answer. Apparently, she believes the dog goes all over the yard. From where I stood in the grass I saw no poo and declared the play area of the yard to be free of waste.
The boy came out to see what we were talking about and I motioned my outstretched arm across the yard and asked him if he could see any poo. Of course, he said he could not see any.
"In fact, I am so confident there is no poo here, I will get naked and roll up the hill naked!", I declared to Cari. Immediately, the boy challenged me to do it. Then Cari came down from the deck to where I was standing in the grass. She turned her head, looking for neighbors, then back to me. "Fine, do it", she said.

I lifted my shirt over my head and threw it to the ground. With my belt unbuckled, I started to lower my pants when Cari pointed up the hill. Only ten feet from me was dog poop. In her best "I told you so" voice, she warned me not to roll in it.
I pulled my pants back up, ending the challenge, informed her that I wasn't going to roll in THAT spot anyway, and got the shovel.
The boy, disappointed in missing me act like a fool, requested that I shovel naked.
Request denied.