Friday, May 31, 2013

Leaving the Nest

We found a Robin nest in a tree behind our house a few weeks ago.  Cari and I watched them on a regular basis and finally two babies were hatched.  The mamma bird fed her babies continuously every day but if we were outside trying to watch she wouldn't approach the nest.   For that reason we mostly just watched from in the house.
Then one day Cari came out to the car as I got home from work and she told me the babies had feathers and were sitting up in the nest.  We walked back for a closer look.  I got out my cell phone to take a picture and took another step toward the tree.

That's when it happened.  One of the babies jumped out of the nest and onto a tree branch.  I didn't move.  The bird then jumped from the nest and flew across the yard.  He didn't appear to be a very strong flier.  Most likely that was the first flight of his life.
 Then the other baby jumped out of the nest and attempted to fly but only glided down to the ground.  It ran and hid under one of our storage buildings.
UGH!!  I felt horrible.  I freaked those babies out to the point they jumped out of the nest and now what?  How will they eat?  How will they stay warm?

We did some reading on the internet and found that as long as they are feathered (they both were), they should be fine.  The mother will continue to feed them where they are and in a few days they may attempt to fly back to the nest.  We decided to let them be.

Two days later there were two adult Robins flying around the yard carrying food to various locations in our yard.  It seems that everyone is going to survive the trauma that I caused.

Maybe next year the Robins won't build in the yard of a curious home owner.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hiking at Table Rock

I headed out on Memorial Weekend for a hike around Table Rock State Park.  Here's a video and some photos from my trip.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Botanical Lunch

I headed out to the Clemson Botanical gardens for lunch last week.  I haven't done this since last year and I realized I really miss it.  Walking in the gardens is a great way to spend a lunch break.

There wasn't very many people around while I was there but one of the first people I saw was a lady near a picnic table.  She had a bag with her and was wearing a light wind breaker.  My first thought was that she was a volunteer picking up liter and helping out.

About fifteen steps past her I saw a small pile of Cheerio's on a tree stump.  I looked around and noticed another pile of Cheerio's.  I started to put the puzzle together in my mind and I turned around to see the lady walking farther down the trail.  The picnic table she had just walked away from now had two small piles of Cheerio's.
 Throughout my walk I saw many more piles of the cereal.  Either this lady was trying to mark her way or she was feeding the squirrels.  Whatever her intentions were I did see many squirrels enjoying her efforts.

I continued on finding a lot of flowers beginning to bloom.
I scouted out one of my favorite places in the gardens.  This quiet little area has boulders neatly spaced out along a creek.
 The Giving Tree.  Lots of love etched into this one.
 Bald Cypress towering into the sky.
 Oconee Bells are a pretty rare plant that can only be found in specific places.  Here's a section of them being grown in the gardens.  This is a newer display that I thought was great.

I'm not sure there is a better way to spend a lunch break.  In case you were wondering, I didn't eat any of the Cheerio's but I did think about it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Christmas is Over

It's May.  I'm sure that this is overdue, but it is now time to remove the Christmas tree.
Woah!  To be clear.  This is nothing but a dried out Christmas tree and a spark.
This is why we are going back to artificial trees.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


We found a new game to add into our game collection and this is another fantastic game.  There aren't a lot of complex rules and it doesn't take all weekend to play.  That means this is a great game for anyone!  It takes about 30 minutes to play a game and up to 6 can play at a time.


I have seen this online and in game stores for a long time but never knew what it was and hadn't heard much about it.   Then I watched an episode of Table Top where they played this game and it got my attention.
The game is played with large playing cards, each with interesting artwork.  Everyone has 6 cards and on your turn you play one of your cards face down.  Then you announce a clue that describes your card in some way.  The other players will play one of their cards that matches the clue face down.  After some shuffling, the cards are revealed.   Next the players vote by secret ballot which card they believe was the original card.
The starting player will only get points if SOME of the players picked the his card.  If the starting player's card gets all or none of the votes then he won't score.  So choose your clue carefully!

Over the weekend we played a few games with five players and then again with 4 players (for the family game night trophy).   I won the trophy, making it five victories in a row.  You can call me "5 Time".

I look forward to playing this game again because I think I have some great clues ready to go!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Friday Night Music in Easley

Last Friday night we headed over to Easley to get some super delicious pizza and then check out the free concert happening in the park.
As expected, the pizza was super delicious.   Then we walked across the railroad tracks (tracks run through the center of downtown) to the park for the concert.

As we approached we heard some harmonica and someone singing a blues style song.  It sounded pretty good.  Before we got to the stage area we came to the clock tower in town.  The first thing I noticed was that it displayed the wrong time.   Cari speculated that it should get hit by lightening and start working again (like Back to the Future).  Then I walked around the side to see that it was also the wrong time but different than the time displayed on the front!  Shouldn't these clocks be synced up?  Shouldn't they show the right time?  These weren't stationary - for display - clocks, they were moving.   ??

Anyway, when we finally got up to the amphitheater we saw a singer that appeared to be 21 years old.   Is he old enough to sing songs like this?

I suggested to Cari that he probably still lives with his mamma.

Easley has a great downtown for events like this.  They even have fountains that tempt children to jump in and go for a swim.
On the way back to the car I had to resist a strong urge of ordering one more pizza for the road.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


The massive giants of the flower world.  The Peony.
We have just one of these plants in our yard it always produced amazing flowers for us in the Spring.

They start out as such tight little balls on the ends of each stem.
And then they open and spread their pedals out to something bigger than your opened hand.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Date Night. Movies.

We only see about two movies a year at the theatre.  

It's expensive and it's just not the way we tend to spend our entertainment monies.

But on our last date night Cari and I decided to head out to see the Great Gatsby.  We almost skipped it based on poor reviews that were listed online but decided we'd give it a shot anyway.

The first thing I remembered when we got to the movies is the massive amount of teens that choose movies on a Friday night.  OMG.  I was the oldest one in there and I felt a little like a chaparone.  Are her shorts long enough?  Does his dad know he is with those guys?

We spent our $20 on popcorn and a small drink and headed into the movie.
I had no idea what Gatsby was all about because I had never read the book.  Cari read the book in school and remembered some basics of the story.
Once it was over we both decided that it was a good movie.  Thinking back on it I think it's a movie I would see one more time.  I think there were probably some small details in there that you would pick up on during a second viewing.  That second view will have to wait for Netflix because I can't afford to go back to the big screen until next year.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Champions of Blokus

Our family game night introduced a trophy sometime last December.  Since then, the winner of the game will get ownership of the trophy to display in their room.  Along with the trophy we started a small log to record the date, game, and the winner.

So far only two names have appeared on that record and mine is one of them.   Last week we decided to let Cari choose a game since she hasn't won the trophy yet.   A few minutes later she brought Blokus to the table.  A game that only she has won in our house.

Halfway into the game I started feeling good about my position but I couldn't be sure that I would win.  I continued to eye the pieces everyone had left and monitored the board carefully.

The boy was the first to become blocked in and unable to continue.  A while later the girl was trapped with a handful of pieces unplayed.  Cari and I were quietly counting each other's pieces across the table from each other.

On the last turn I had only one piece left in my hand.  Cari had two and the score proved that I had won!  I couldn't believe it and by the look on her face, she couldn't believe it either.

I retained the trophy and used my phone to cue up Queen's "We Are the Champions."

I am a little afraid that at some point my reign of holding the trophy will come to an end and my gloating will come back to haunt me.   Until then, I will continue to hum that I am the champion. . . of the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sun-less Festival

We had a chance to hit a spring festival on a recent weekend.  It was cold and windy and the threat of rain was over our heads but we weren't going to let that stop us.

Face painting and balloon sculptures makes it a true festival.
 Remember those trains I was talking about the other day?  Yeah, they are loud when you are right next to the tracks!
 She wouldn't sit in the Jeep so we took a picture in front of it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beautiful Noise

The beautiful noise is not kids screaming and chasing each other around the house.  The beautiful noise is the trains that run through town every day.
On a Spring day when the windows are all open and you are relaxing on the couch watching some TV the trains will come blaring through.  That never happens during a commercial either.  I love that disruption.  During the summer when the city hosts music in the park the musicians will sometimes be over powered by the train.  I love that beautiful noise.   

I'm not sure what it is that attracts me.  Maybe it's the rumbling weight that you can hear as the cars roll over the steel rails.  I guess I like the sound of the trains the same way that I like to hear thunder.  It's this booming powerful sound that echoes through the air.  There's even more than that booming sound with the trains.  It's a mixture of sounds that makes it great.  It's the screeching iron wheels, the roar of the engine, the horn blaring at the crossings.  

It's just a beautiful noise.  

Thursday, May 09, 2013

YouTube of the Week

Check out the last two laps of the race from Saturday.  Even if you are not a Nascar fan I think this will provide an exciting few minutes of entertainment.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I'm Leaving the Internet

No, I'm really not leaving the internet.

Someone else already did that and documented his feelings on it.

He pretty much said it wasn't worth leaving the internet.  Initially you think that the reason you don't accomplish all the "meaningful" things in life is because the internet distracts you.  It takes you away from what is important.  That's true.  Sometimes I wonder if I didn't have the internet or social media if I would achieve more.

Paul said that he did accomplish a lot initially.  He took advantage of this time.  But as the months wore on he fell into routines and found other escapes and distractions from the things that were "meaningful".

So we can all stop blaming the internet now and blame ourselves.  Which is where the problem probably is anyway.  

Friday, May 03, 2013

Story Telling

In all of human history the art of story telling has always been a critical element.

Not everyone has a great talent for telling stories and sometimes I wonder how Facebook, Twitter, and other sites effect our skills in storytelling.  We are forcing our stories into short abbreviated posts that don't allow us to develop some stories that deserve development.  I use these sites and even shorten up stories on this blog.  Every once in a while I look back a post and think how I could have told the story better.

I get reminded of this as I listen to great story telling podcasts.  People that don't rush through a story and take time to really tell it.  Some examples of great story telling can be found at The Moth, This American Life, and Snap Judgment.

For some, telling a story comes naturally and without much effort.  That's not true for me.  Especially when I'm telling a story online, it takes time.  It takes planning.  Sometimes it is hard to make the time to sit down and properly plan out how I want to tell a story.  That's something that I hope to do better on this year.  I don't intend to make my all of my blog posts longer (ain't nobody got time for that!), but when I feel like I have a story to tell I intend to take more time putting thought into how it's told.

While I continue to use social media and short story telling on Twitter, I plan on practicing telling a full story as well.  By the time I'm retired and sitting on the porch I should be ready to keep anyone willing to listen occupied for a long time.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Grilling Season

It's SPRING time!  That means I better get busy grilling as often as possible.   

Our grill had cooked our last meal recently.  Over the years the cheapest grill we could find had finally burned itself into worthlessness.  I admit that the problems with the grill were not helped with my lack of maintenance but I won't take full responsibility for the quality of this equipment. 

It had come to the point that if you closed the lid and walked away for a few minutes that you better come back with a bucket of water because your dinner would be fully charred and engulfed in flames.   I had learned not to walk away from grilling on this unit if I didn't want to fight fires and also because cooking on it took extreme management.  There were perhaps two hot spots the size of hamburgers that would cook great while the rest of your food remained raw.  Cooking on this grill tested skills of shuffling food around to get it all done at one time.  

So this spring we decided to start with a fresh new grill.  But first I had to assemble it. 

An hour later I was encouraged by the amount of parts still sitting on the deck.  The fewer parts that sat up there, the closer I was to grilling.  

This grill has two bodies to it.  You can use this as a charcoal grill or as a gas grill.  We decided to try out the charcoal side for our first meal.  

Like having anything new, I am starting with the best of intentions of maintaining this grill on a regular basis and keeping it in service as long as possible.  Fingers crossed that I keep this energy!

In case you were wondering. . . that first meal turned out fantastic!

This is going to be a great summer!