Friday, April 11, 2008


I love the sound of that droning chant, a chant that doesn't have to be taught. The chant is somehow instantaneously programmed into the mind of a 4 year old the second he scuffles his cleats through the crushed red brick and slips into position on the freshly mowed grass in left field. I love the smell of the popcorn wafting from the concession stand and the unforgettable aroma of grape BubbleYum.

Yesterday was the day!

Carson's first practice. He has been anticipating the day for weeks. We have been having batting practice in the yard and he has been keeping the old man hopping. I had to change the direction of his hitting as he is capable of hitting it just far enough to go down the hill, driveway, across the road and almost dropping 50 feet into the creek. He now drives the ball up the hill toward the woods, where it conveniently dribbles back down the hill toward my feet.

His excitement was not in control. He practically ran from us as soon as he saw the familiar faces of his teammates. The coach placed him in left field with strict instructions to stay put. We all know how that goes. At the crack( or in the case now days..the "ping") of the bat, the ball rolls through several legs and ends up against the right field fence. Who was there first? Yep, all the way from left field. Every batted ball sent him into motion, diving, rolling, bumping.
Then came time to step up to the plate. He picked up his bat, headgear and took his stance staring down the pitcher. He looked exactly like "Chicken Little" trying to balance that over-sized red batting helmet. He connected with his second pitch and I don't know who's smile was the greatest, his or mine or Sharla's. He rounded the bases, leaving a trail of dust!

The most memorable part of the day happened a few minutes before we left the house. He looked up at Sharla and told her " I don't want to sit in that dumpster!" We fought to keep straight faces and it was hard. Sharla kindly corrected him with" no honey, it's not a
dumpster, it's called a dugout".

Swing batter!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The word simply means a state of close relationship or a close acquaintance with something.
Sometimes we become so familiar or comfortable with something or someone that we take it for granted.
We find that objects in our surroundings have become so commonplace that we seldom recognize that they are missing or it takes us a long time to do so.

I was familiar with my hair until the age of 18. I have been without it so long now that I forget what it was like; until the Summer sun turns my naked pate an unsightly shade of red and the inevitable peeling begins a week later. When I say that I am bald, Carson quickly corrects me, adding that I have hair, just on the sides.

We can become so familiar with the people around us that we often feel we know what they are thinking and the actions they are about to carry out. We build relationships based on these feelings and it brings us closer in our marriages, jobs and friendships. It is just when we become too familiar that we often overlook the big scheme of things and plod along, doing things in a repetitive motion, falling into a rut.

Can we be guilty of this in our prayer life as well?
How about our worship?
Do we sing praise, or do we just sing a song?
Can 'church' become so familiar that we lose focus?
We need to take a survey introspectively and ask ourselves a few questions and then answer them honestly.( you make up the questions because only you know the answers)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Terrapene Carolina.(Eastern Box Turtle)
Ok…we finally did it! We have had this plan in the back of our heads for about five years and it recently moved to the forefront. After a lot of misgivings about having passed the opportunity by on three occasions, we are jumping feet-first into a new, ardous and hopefully rewarding business/passion venture. Our house sold this week and we cashed in the 401K and the moving van is scheduled for Friday morning. Enough of the schooling, working for the ‘Man’ and living paycheck to paycheck. We are trading in a life of daily toil and strife to return to the land and reap the lifestyle only it can bestow.
Our venture begins with the move to Watauga County Tennessee in the eastern part of the state. We found the ideal opportunity to own our own nature preserve, where we will be actively involved in the breeding, hatching, raising and the eventual release into the wild of the threatened Eastern Box Turtle. The preserve is comprised of 500 acres of prime unspoiled turtle habitat. Second growth forest surrounded by a buffer zone of no development only adds to the beauty of the preserve. We are taking over an existing facility that has fallen into disrepair. No too far gone that it can’t be rebuilt with a little effort. We will have to live in an old mill house on the property until we can build our cabin.
That will be secondary, as we will be there primarily to start the restoration of the breeding facility. The turtle population in the area is still at a level that is stable and not in decline, so we will have a slight head start in that aspect. While the Eastern Box Turtle lives an average of 40 years, some have known to live to 100.
Our goal for the next 20 years is to raise and release 5000 breeding pairs back into the woodlands of surrounding states and to educate the public on how to help the population survive.
The days will be long and hard, but I’m sure the rewards will be great.
We will try to keep in touch frequently, but the 18 mile trip to town to use a computer at the local library will not happen that often.
You can reach us by mail at:
Turtle Back Farm
No. 1 April Fool's Dr.
Watauga, TN. 04-01-2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Well, well, well.
Hopefully the next three quarters will be better than average and bring the prospectus back into the black.

There has been an extraordinary amount of sickness that just seems to get passed back and forth between the three of us. Many trips to the doctor's office( not me of course!) rounds of antibiotics, cough suppressants, decongestants and chicken soup.
The job situation could be better. Many of us are being sent home early due to lack of work. Hopefully this won't last long.

On the bright side, Sharla is finishing up her Spring semester of student teaching and only has one more class this Fall to graduate, and of course...Catlettsburg Little League opening day is April 12. Carson is gearing up for T-Ball and is looking forward to playing for the Cub's. He said he is going to hit the ball over the fence and hit the CSX train! That is gonna be some kinda homer!

He got to meet Brandon Webb; his baseball idol last month.( yes..we do have some pics of him with his eyes open...just happened to find this one first) He is also ready to play soccer but we haven't been contacted about which team he is going to be on. He has also starred in a couple of YouTube videos demonstrating his athletic and comedic abilities.

The fish are biting, the Trillium and Bloodroot are poking through the leaf litter, grass is greening up and turkey's are strutting and with some warm days and a little rain in April, the morel's will be ripe for the pickin''s definitely Springtime in Kentucky!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Boy Scout Road.
With a name like that, you can only imagine that it would be running rampant with wild-eyed boys full of vim and vigor.
It was! Once upon a time.
Now the land seems sterile, gone is the big hand hewn cabin, trees, creek. Replaced with millions of dollars of homes and green manicured lawns devoid of the sounds of restless youth. The hills we roamed as kids, now are fenced and protected by silent alarm systems daring you to tread backward to those days gone by.
The two story cabin only sat about fifty feet off the road, but to us kids it was in a wilderness, miles from civilization. We unrolled our sleeping bags on the floor upstairs and then set about gathering firewood to burn throughout the night in the great stone fireplace. We traversed the hills behind the cabin as if they were the Sange de Christo mountains and we were beginning an adventure at Philmont. We practiced our woodsmen skills with knives and axes. We built bridges and towers of saplings, lashing them together with rope and honeysuckle vines. We hunted the very elusive snipe at midnight with the new scouts that joined our troop. All in all, we slept very little when we went camping at Camp Verity. There was just so much to do and so little time to do it in.
We tried to squeeze a week of activities into a weekend.
The big cabin is still alive and well. It has a new home near Yatesville Lake in Lawrence County Kentucky, and it has a new name: Camp Cherokee. While it kind of looks the same, it will never be the same. It just doesn’t get the attention it did 30 years ago, when it was occupied by happy throngs of boisterous scouts.
In September 1999, six of us old guys got together and spent the night in the cabin. We didn’t sleep. We sat on the porch in chairs and reminisced the entire night. The propane lantern softly hissed as it lit up the front of the cabin. We all took turns with a memory and everyone added to it. Before we knew it, the sky was beginning to glow a soft yellow and was soon peeking through the pines. Where had the night gone? Once again we squeezed a lot into a little. This time it was twenty five years into about ten hours. We parted ways that morning, only two of us still live in Catlettsburg and the other four headed back to California, Texas, Florida and Ohio, ensuring each other we would try it again soon.
As for Boy Scout Rd…I think it needs a name change.
Camp Arrowhead...I'll save that for later.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


The decade of the 70's was the decade of catching White Bass in Lake Erie. The Walleye weren't the featured fish and we didn't have the means to reach them on the offshore reefs anyway, seeing that we fished around Middle Bass in a small green boat with a 7.5 Sears Ted Williams motor.
Pop Pop and I, sometimes Dad and Herman always stayed at Beer's Cottages right on the shore on the island's east end. We usually stayed in the first cottage beside the road. It was probably 30 feet from the waters edge and 20 from the fish cleaning table. The aroma was something you got used to very quick. The cottages were sparse, concrete floor, drapes for doors on the bedrooms, a table, four chairs, penciled tallies of daily catches on the door frame beside the fridge, a screen door complete with holes and a layer of dead flying bugs at least an inch thick in every window sill. Just perfect for guys that only came there to fish.

The days were spent following the flocks of gulls that fed on the baitfish chased to the surface by the great schools of White Bass. Find the birds find the fish. We would cast white Shyster spinners and double rigged white doll flies on a three-way swivel into the schools. The action was fast and furious, we shook the fish loose and let them flop in the floor of the boat. We often stood ankle deep in fish, waiting to put them into a bucket when the school disappeared.

Evenings were filled with camaraderie around the fish-cleaning table. Rapala fillet knives gleamed beneath the glaring light of the street lamp. We all were coated in a glistening layer of OFF as the swarms of bugs hovered between us and the light. The water streamed constantly across the table cascading onto the granite rocks and back into the lake. My job was to cut out the belly bones and occasionally swipe the knives across the old concave Arkansas oilstone to keep the work going smoothly. The fillet's were bagged and wrapped in paper and deposited into the freezer at the office.

This was the routine. Day in day out, but that was why we were there. Having fun and anticipating the great meals of fried fish to come later in the year.

Sometimes in the late evenings, we would drive to the other end of the island to the abandoned Lonz Winery dock. A massive concrete structure, broken down and kinda spooky. We would set up at the end of the dock and put nightcrawlers on the bottom and catch Channel Catfish. I remember nights of 30 to 40 fish, all around two pounds each.

One particular night at the dock was very memorable...and still haunts me to this day.

I was around twelve years old and I had a brand new EverReady flashlight. It was at least a foot long and shiny. That night the fishing was slow and we sat there listening to the Red's on the radio. The lights of Put-In-Bay were visible several miles across the lake and the towering Perry's Monument was ablaze with white light. My new flashlight had a button that let me flash signals much like 'Morse code.' Probably a mile away I saw the running lights of a boat heading toward South Bass. I pointed my light and began blinking some kind of unknown message. To my surprise which soon turned to outright fear; the boat started turning and headed straight for us. It was running full speed and kept getting larger and larger, and I kept getting smaller and smaller. A giant searchlight came on and blinded us just as the first big wave washed over the dock sending our gear and my tackle box over the other side.(luckily it floated and I retrieved it later) As the boat turned sideways, it was then we saw the markings...Coast Guard! Must have been a fifty footer! The loudspeaker boomed with the voice of the Captain asking if we needed help? Pop Pop yelled back "NO! we're just fishing". The Captain said he saw a flashing light and thought we were in trouble. "We didn't flash any lights" was the reply.

I tried to hide!

The boat left and we gathered our wet belongings. Pop Pop said "someone probably walked in front of the Coleman lantern."

I never fessed-up. Until now.

There were other trips back to Middle Bass, but none ever topped the night I signaled the Coast Guard Cutter.

Friday, February 29, 2008

HIGH ON A MOUNTAINTOP we go through a lot of valleys.
It is when we have our 'mountaintop' experiences that we feel most alive. It is not necessarily when we feel that God is most with us. Many times when we feel we are at the top of the world, we think we made it all happen and fail to give God the glory. We often say: "look at me! look at what I did! I'm so great!" When all along He allowed us to shine, and the shine should have glorified Him and not us. We need to learn to be humble in these situations.
Why don't most of us feel the presence of God when we are at these extremes? Why do we most feel His presence when we are on level ground and in our safe places. Being on a mountaintop, while it feels great to us is not what it is all about. God wants us to be full of life all the time.

John 10:10.....and He is come that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.
Savor the mountaintop experiences, look around, enjoy the scenery, but remember the One that put you there!


Wikipedia describes a valley a type of landform. A valley is a long "depression" or (low part) in the land, between two higher parts which might be hills or mountains.
When we think of our spiritual life, the second part usually applies. A depression or low part.
Some valleys are deep, some are wide, some are desolate, some are lush, but they all have the same thing in common; when you stand in the midst of a valley, your vision to the horizon and the goings on in the rest of the world or life is very limited. You can't get a complete picture of the landscape as you could while atop a mountain, where you can survey all God has created.

Let's look at some valleys and see where we fit in:
Death Valley, Great Rift Valley.
Nile Valley, Mississippi Valley.
Happy Valley, Shenandoah Valley.

You go from the most desolate, to the sublime, then to an area of complacency as you feel yourself climbing up the sides till you are beginning to finally see your surroundings. It is then when we are able to see all around ourselves that we feel most at home and somewhat at peace. While we are never alone when we walk those valley floors, devoid of what we perceive as joy. We must understand that He is always with us. Just as He is with us when we stand at the rim of a valley and decide which way to go next. Do we take a step backwards or do we trudge onward and upward?

We make the choice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


No tears in heaven. Only rejoicing.
I know I shed my fair share of tears, and if combined with Sharla's we could probably start a small flash flood.
This evening found us in a tearful prayer time, rebuking the devil and seeking guidance in a ongoing matter in which we struggle. As we prayed, Carson prayed along with us, thanking the Lord for his day and to help him be good. Then he said " I'll be your tissue Mommy" as he noticed the tears in her eyes.
Immediately I'm reminded of the passage in Revelation 7:17..and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Carson didn't want to see his mommy cry and wanted to wipe away her tears.
Just as the Lord will comfort us in our time of need. We look forward to that day when there will be no more tears, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Sunday afternoon at Nanny and PawPaw's house was always eventful. After the football game was over and before the Lawrence Welk show started, Ellis and Myrtle headed back to Huntington and PawPaw was ready to take a walk.

He always walked the three blocks down Carter Avenue from Ringo Street to the Mussetter Super Value. He counted out his change in anticipation of a new can of Skoal. On days such as these, us kids got to walk with him. However, we wouldn't let him take the straight shot down Carter, we wanted to take a slight detour and 'walk the wall'.

Now, the 'wall', was not some dangerous precipice that could endanger the life of a child if they fell from it's great height; it was only a little over 3 feet high and you could only fall onto the brick paved alley as the wall butted up against a house and your shoulder kept in constant contact as you inched along.

The wall was easily accessible as it inclined up from the curb and descended 40 feet later likewise. PawPaw would hold our hand as we walked, only turning us free about midway where the telephone pole forced us to break our grasp and squeeze between it and the house. At the end of the wall there was a vociferous barking dog behind a wire fence. It would have eaten us alive it if could have reached us. PawPaw always ended our 'wall walk' with a taunt to the barking dog. He would near the fence and with a pointed finger he always said the same line...."I'm gonna tie your tail in a knot!"

The mission continued onward to the store and always ended in a piece of candy or as PawPaw always called it 'blowgum'. On the return trip, we often would come back by the Hobby Shop, where he would usually buy us a Smoking Monkey or Balsa Glider. 10 cents worth of great fun.

Found these on Ebay...around $8 plus shipping

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This morning during breakfast at McDonald's in Catlettsburg, Carson suddenly said," I have an idea! I want to open a pizza store and sell pizza that has pepperoni and peanuts, the customers will love it!

Dad and I looked quizzically at each other and Dad asked him where his store would be? he said "in my house."then he added he would also like to have a pizza 'mascot'...go figure!

OK with only pepperoni and peanuts. That is some combination, but I wouldn't be surprised if that has not already been done somewhere. What about a sauerkraut pizza? Yep...I know where you can get one of those, and they are delicious. It's not the kind of sauerkraut you are used to. It is a homemade slightly sweet version at Dick's Pizza, located in a house on the river in Sciotoville, Ohio.
Stranger things have happened in the culinary world!

Any silent partners wanna invest in an oven and some boxes?

Friday, February 22, 2008



I've often heard it defined as: 'the person you are when no one is watching.'

Wikipedia defines it as:Integrity is the basing of one's actions on an internally consistent framework of principles.. Depth of principles and adherence of each level to the next are key determining factors. One is said to have integrity to the extent that everything he does and believes is based on the same core set of values. While those values may change, it is their consistency with each other and with the person's actions that determine his integrity.

This brings about my take on the steroid issue in Major League Baseball.
Last year I picked up a magazine at church; HomeLife. On the cover was a well known player and his wife. The magazine article was all about his family life and most importantly, how his Christian faith guides him in his daily activities and gives him the strength to succeed. After reading this, I held this guy in high esteem. He is standing up for his beliefs and being a witness for Christ and a role model for young men.

Then the Mitchell Report hits the media....naming names of all the known steroid users in the league and his name was near the top of the list! "Say it ain't so!!!!" My 'radar' tuned instinctively to him, waiting and watching to see how he would respond to the allegations, and hoping as a Christian that he would prove to be a man of integrity. Almost 2 months go by without a statement. Roger Clemens is plastered all over the airwaves and emphatically denies using any type of performance enhancing drug although his best friend and trainer claims in an affidavit that he injected him many times. The same trainer (Brian Macnamee) also said he injected Clemens' wife and Clemens' teammate Andy Pettitte.

Andy Pettitte. The man of integrity. Would he deny the allegations as Clemens did?, or would he tell the truth?
My faith was restored last week when Andy Pettitte delivered a 55 minute apology to the sporting world that he did use HGH (human growth hormone): a performance enhancing drug. He claims he used it in rehabilitation to get back into the game faster. He said he never used it to get an edge or to 'bulk up". He only wanted to help his elbow heal faster. He admitted that he was wrong and stood before the world to offer his repentance.

I know that many judge others by their actions. I was guilty of that. I immediately began to watch Mr. Pettitte to see that as a Christian man he would do the right thing.

We as Christians, are watched daily. We seem to be held to a higher example for those living in the world. They watch us from a distance, waiting for us to trip up, say the wrong thing or be in the wrong place. I admit that I was being 'one of those', watching to see what would happen. I was not watching to see 'IF' he would do the right thing, but 'WHEN' he would do the right thing. I knew he was a man of integrity.

While we are not to judge the salvation of another, we can judge the 'fruits' that they bear.

While Andy Pettitte may have fallen slightly ( as we all do), he has shown the world that the fruit he bears is ripe.

Pray for Godly people like Andy Pettitte, and those that surround you in your daily walk with Christ. Pray for them and hold them in high esteem, help them up when they stumble.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Snow Day and a sick day. I am stuck in the house, recovering. This is a progression of what took place in an hour this morn. Only the mailman braved the drive and then he griped because I was home and that he had no place to turn around at the top. He had to back/slide off the hill.

And now it is melting...but gonna be 15 degrees tonight...and don't forget the lunar eclipse.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

THE VIENNA SAUSAGE artifact of my generation.

In my backwoods adventures, bushwhacking across streams, valleys and through lush forest. I have often stopped and rested atop a moss-covered rock to take in the beauty of a stretch of green unspoiled wilderness, and thinking to myself that I could quite possibly be the first person ever to step foot in that particular little piece of Appalachia apart from Dan'l Boone himself.

Then as I shift my gaze from the horizon toward my feet, slowly rising to stand. My eyes are drawn just to the side of the rock and I see a dull gray cylindrical object half buried, poking out of the leaves at the base of a giant oak tree.'s a vienna can!

So..I wasn't the first person here after all.

Just when you begin to think those kind of thoughts, you stumble upon the kind of objects that let you know that the world is still very small. The vienna sausage can, pop/beer can with a pull top and one of those small red plastic sticks that is used to spread that nasty yellow cheese-like substance on some pre-packaged crackers.

According to scientists that study biodegradability,(would you call them biodegradabilityologists?) pop cans will be with us 50-100 years, the aluminum vienna can 80-100 years and the little plastic stick will probably last over 500 years.

I won't even mention how long they say styrofoam will be here.

I can only find in my research that the vienna sausage can only dates back to 1963, when Armour Meats packaged them and single-handedly began the planting of thick aluminum trail markers across our woodlands and pristine ridgetops, I shudder to think of the numbers that coat the bottoms of our lakes, as the company marketed them as an addition to any successful anglers tackle box. Not as bait as some think. While they have been packaged in cans I have heard references to jars. I don't know how long that dates back or what type of jar the sausages were packed in. I have a notion that they were packed similarly to dried beef and pimento cheese spreads in those small jars that many in Kentucky use as 'juice' know the ones!

Vienna..pronounced as the city in Austria is the so-called proper pronunciation, pronounced as one word.However, in Kentucky we say it as if it is two words vi enny. Long i Long e.

It has been a staple in my life and has filled my hunting coat and fishing vest along with saltine
crackers for many years.

A coworker of mine told a story of a young lady he worked with in Portsmouth, Ohio who came to work one day showing everyone her new discovery at Kroger. Little hotdogs in a can! They are new. When they proceeded to tell her that they weren't new and probably packaged before she was born, she still didn't believe them. She tasted one, made a face and the guys gobbled up the remaining six.

Viennas now come in a few different flavors, barbecue, smoked, jalepeno, cajun, honey mustard and hot n' spicy. Armour is my favorite brand and I just won't eat Prarie Belt, Hormel, Libby's or Maple Leaf ,eh!

While the lable will biodegrade in a couple of years, the company needs to stamp a date and flavor type on the can. How will our progeny a hundred years from now know what was packaged in those small cylinders that I'm sure will catch the eye of some intrepid soul searching for a piece of the past.

Maybe I'll bury a few in the woods with the meat still inside along with a package of those cheese and crackers complete with the red plastic stick!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The little guy has been down and out this week. It all started Monday after school with a low-grade fever that slowly escalated into a full-blown trip to the ER Wednesday evening. Sharla had an appointment scheduled for Thursday, but the fever took over and drove us toward the hospital early. Carson has some kinda immune system. He rarely gets sick, usually fighting off any cold or case of sniffles. However, when his fever spikes he becomes lethargic, clingy and lifeless. He was all three as we took our seats in the KDMC waiting room awaiting our turn with the doctor. In triage, they gave him a dose of Ibuprofen and 30 minutes later as he was in the cubicle, reclining in the bed watching the Disney Channel on a TV on a swing-arm, he was practically back to normal.
A quick check-up by the Doc, a prescription, and out the door we went. Walking
(Yes…he walked out of the hospital, didn’t want to be carried) to the car he said “thank you for taking me to your hospital and letting me watch TV.” From ‘lifeless’ to ‘Superman’ in less than an hour. He talked to PawPaw the other evening on the phone and told him “it was dark when I left the hospital and my surgery didn’t last very long” Funny how a fever affects the body.

The fever is still hanging on after a trip to the pediatrician on Friday and she is just letting it run its course. He is on the mend.

When our fevers rise we often feel out of sorts with our surroundings, not in touch with reality and our judgment is often blurred. When the enemy turns up the heat we feel the ill effects. However, we can counter the attack with prayer and keep the heat down.
The Great Physician offers us a cure for our ills, pain and sorrows, an unlimited supply of grace, and it’s free! Try getting that kind of service at your medical facility of choice.

Pray, Keep the fever at bay!


Mark 16: 18 “They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.”
Here in eastern Kentucky and scattered throughout Appalachia, the practice of the literal interpretation of Mark 16: 17-18 is clandestinely performed in small congregations of “Jesus only with signs following” churches.
I’ve never personally witnessed the practice, and don’t have plans to in the future. Not that I have an aversion or fear of snakes, just that I prefer to worship in my own way.

There have been many documentaries, news specials, articles and songs associated with the churches that adhere to this ritual as a small part of their worship experience.
I admit I have had a fascination with it as well. You can’t help but be intrigued as you see those images in living color splashed across the television. The church service seems as normal as any holiness service on any given Sunday. The music, preaching, and testimony are the norm, but then the flames from a bottle of kerosene are passed around, and sips are taken from a jar of strychnine and then the flat boxes are opened and the serpents are draped upon the believers and passed freely around the altar, all amidst the rhythmic drone of guitars and tambourines.
I first read Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington over 10 years ago. It is a captivating work that takes the author; (a Southern Baptist deacon) on a journey into his past, discovering that two decades earlier his family practiced the faith. His research lead him throughout Appalachia and into the world of the “serpent handling” church.
Another great read is Faith, Serpents, and Fire Images of Kentucky Holiness Believers by Scott Schwartz. Schwartz documents his research with images that depict the practice as it is actually performed in Kentucky.
I remember my grandparents telling of attending a revival near Wheelwright in the 40’s and hastily retreating out the front door as a side door was opened and a box was carried to the front. They didn’t stick around to see if it was copperheads or rattlesnakes, or both!
While the worship styles vary greatly, even in our churches of the same denomination, we are all expressing our faith and testimony to the same God. Although our music might be loud to some, our prayers different to others, we are here to exalt.

I have to add that several prominent people in the 2 books mentioned are no longer in this world. Victims of the deadly poisons and serpents that they held dear to their faith. These believers never feared the bite of the serpent. A quote from a believer in Sand Mountain.
Let me tell you, the bite of the serpent is nothing compared to the bite of your fellow man.”
That is so true. I guess in a way we have all been bitten at some time or another in our Christian life. Hopefully as the ‘swelling’ goes down, our forgiveness will go forth and show the true love of Christ.

p.s. no child was harmed in the taking of the photograph and it WAS NOT taken at OABC.

Plastic snake compliments of the Kentucky Highlands Museum 2007.

Friday, February 15, 2008


There is gonna be a wedding and everyone is invited. All we know is that it will be sometime in the summer of 2010 in the morning not too long after sunrise.

Sharla and I are planning on renewing our vows for our 20th year of wedded bliss in a little over 2 more years. Our 18th anniversary is coming up on April 7. We were married by Harold Cathey at Unity Baptist, Ashland, Kentucky 1990.
We have been planning this for a couple of years and with God's will, hopefully it will come to fruition.
I have had the spot picked out for some time and Sharla loves it! It sits on a hill overlooking the town with one fantastic vista.Carson say's he wants to carry the rings. Sharla already has an idea of the rings and the place she wants to buy them, so all I have to do is show up and try to find a baptist minister. ( we don't necessarly want a high Maya priest offering up burnt maize, copal incense, red coral beans and reciting from the Popol Vuh.)
We have the place to hold the reception, even if it will only be the three of us, but all are welcome. Come hungry as there will be blue corn tortillas and pepian`for everyone.

Here is a picture of the wedding site........................


Just happens to be in Antigua Guatemala, and yes that is a volcano in the distance. Reception will be at the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo.

We'll let you know a more specific date later so you can book airfare and a
Hope to see ya there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


In geological terms a 'slump block' is the term used to describe a large boulder or piece of rock that breaks off from a larger piece and descends a slope by the force of gravity. My backyard and surrounding woodland is practically littered by many of these odd creatures. Hence the name of my road..Rockwood.

The rocks in my neck of the woods are sandstone, with the occassional band or fragments of limonite. The weathering of the limonite make for some beautiful and interesting designs. The pock-marked walls teem with ripples that resemble the beach with a ebbing tide.

My favorite place in my woods, lies about 200 yards behind my house, just past the giant boulder that is half the size of our dwelling. A rock shelter, carved by a now tiny seeping spring that runs silently down the western face and disappears into the gully eventually spilling into Hurricane Creek and a hundred feet later empties into Keys Creek and a mile further mixes with the Ohio River

When Sharla and I first moved here 17 years ago, I found the rock shelter. It is 20 feet deep at the greatest and about 80 feet wide. Nice and dry. There was a fire ring built by kids some years ago, and the rocks remained stacked perfectly and the remnants of charred wood filled the bottom.

While this place struck me as 'my kinda place', I noticed something ominous. Right in the middle of the face, jutting out over the fire ring, the rock had a crack about 3 inches wide about 3 feet up and about 20 feet across.. It looked as if it could come crashing down at any time. I guess I pressed my luck everytime I walked beneath it, but I had no idea how long it had been there. Had it been a week?, a year, a hundred years?

Fast forward 17 years.....

It all came tumbling down this winter. I never heard the thump, but i'm sure it made a great one. The whole piece came down in one great block, burying the fire ring and leaving no trace of the tell-tale soot coating the now bottom. The force of gravity that may have been building for 'who knows how long" only took a split-second to transform the image that I had for 17 years.

Rewind 17 years....

17 years ago I noticed the crack in the rock and felt the weight of that rock squarely on my shoulders. I was like that rock spirtually; broken and ready to fall. It was just a few short months later that my life was transformed as I gave it all to Christ. While that rock may have fallen and the landscape will never be the same, I too will never be the same as Christ changed me in that split-second that I believed in Him and confessed Him as Lord.
Look around, 'for old things will become new'.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I love to camp.

By camping, I mean real camping, not ‘camping in a can’, sleeping in an aluminum box surrounded with the comforts of home and smothered by the hundreds of others ‘roughing it’ just a few scant steps in every direction.
My idea of camping is in a tent or sleeping on the ground under the stars.
My first memory of camping is one of spending a spring weekend on the shores of Lake Cumberland’s Lilly Creek with Dad, PopPop, Uncle Herman and Teddy.
They camped there many years in tents, cooking on open fires and eating their meals while perched atop stumps and red Coleman coolers. I can still hear the looping trill of the whippoorwill and the hooting of the barred owl as if I was still curled up in my sleeping bag in the big musty canvas tent.
Years ago I was a backpacker. I traveled many miles and spent countless nights in my old Eureka tent and cooked many a one-pot gourmet meal on my Svea brass stove.
Some of my most memorable trips were a few that I soloed. My excursions all alone to Dolly Sods, Cranberry Glades and the Red River Gorge allowed me to experience nature without any interruptions from the outside. I could sit for hours and just observe the clouds, rushing streams, squirrels, rocks, wildflowers and the subtle beauty of a laurel thicket.
I can still taste the tartness of the rusty apples I gathered from an ancient homestead on a West Virginia mountain side and feel the frost on the bandana over my mouth and nose as I slumber beneath a Swift Camp Creek rock shelter in mid January when the mercury dipped to 14 degrees.
I loved to be out there, on the ground! I can only recall one time, where I sought refuge from the comfort of my tent. I was at 10, 000 feet in the Bridger Wilderness of the Wyoming Rockies peacefully asleep in base camp on Gypsum Creek. I was camping with my relatives that were hunting elk and anything “what mashes the earth”. I awoke, remembering that I was sleeping about 15’ from the ‘meat pole’ which was adorned with elk and antelope dripping blood onto the dusty ground. One thought shot through my mind…Grizzly!!!

It was then that I gathered up my belongings and crept into the confines of an old Airstream and locked the door.

Sharla and I did the ‘pop-up’ thing years ago, and enjoyed many nights away from home. We often spent nights in empty campgrounds as we traveled off the beaten path and it felt good to get away and enjoy the silence.

My gear still hangs in the utility room. Twenty plus years of hibernation, but it is all readily accessible and able to be called to active duty at a moments notice.
Hopefully it is ready to be called up soon as I have a camping companion now in Carson.
I got to relive that old passion last Friday night as he held me to an earlier promise to ‘camp’ with him. We got out the sleeping bags and mats, stretched a blanket across the back of the wingback chair and secured the other end to an antique travel trunk and stretched out beneath the ‘tent’. We camped in the living room floor with our heads beneath the picture window. We peered at stars through the naked branches of the big poplar just across the driveway and watched the room glow bright as the headlights of the few passing cars snaked around the curve across the creek.
He drifted off to sleep and awoke about 5am with a “Daddy?’ Thank you for taking me camping.
I know…5am. Then he went back to sleep.
He told everyone last weekend that he went camping and slept till the sun came up!
I thoroughly enjoyed that night as much as any night ever spent outside, even if my 45 year old bones creaked and my neck was stiff for 2 days.
I’m looking forward to our first trip this year as a family, curled up in our sleeping bags in the big tent. It can’t come soon enough.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Envious of a pig? How much lower can you get?
There are times that we live on the mountaintop and there are times we live in the valley.
That perpetual rollercoaster of life that slowly ascends with the jerky motion only to slide into a free-fall that leaves us breathless and wanting the ride to stop.
Those mountaintop experiences are when we feel the euphoria of life and often consider ourselves bulletproof.
The journey through the valleys, often leave us empty, drained and exposed.
Just as the prodigal son took his inheritance and lived the life of luxury upon his mountaintop. He soon found himself destitute, broken, and alone in a valley.
To survive, he worked feeding pigs and ‘he longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any.’
He envied the pigs!
We can easily slip into that same type of situation spiritually. The sin of overindulgence that often leaves us empty. We can become’ spiritually bankrupt’, hitting rock bottom, feeling that the whole world is against us.
When we finally realize where we are we need to immediately stop and assess the situation. Ask God for direction and He most likely will show you that the only way out is to look up, keep your eyes turned toward Him and don’t look down.
I have definitely been down in some deep, dark valleys in my life, and I have stood atop some mountains where the light shines brightly. I long to live on that flat plain of abundance, where the sun never sets and the darkness hides its face.
I am committed to looking up! I want to live for Christ and show His love.
I pray that I will never covet the trappings of a pig.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

WOODSTOCK 2008 2 whole days of sex, money and pride.

Woodstock 2008
WOW! What can I say?
20 + hours of driving time, various pit stops, food and fellowship and they let me ride up front so I wouldn’t get car-sick.( my scopalomine patch didn’t hurt either).
Nine of us guys from Oakland Avenue Baptist Church headed south Friday morning for the Men’s Conference at First Baptist Woodstock just north of Atlanta. Upon arrival, we were eating a great steak dinner within 5 minutes! This church has their stuff together. The organization is unbelievable. 8500 men assembled to be challenged and ministered to. 4 hours Friday night and 4 more on Saturday morning. 3 sessions with the pastor Johnny Hunt and 20+ breakout sessions that left you wanting more and hard pressed to choose which to attend. Luckily all the sessions are recorded so you can study them later at home.
The worship services were extremely moving. Tears flowed, voices lifted up the praise in song and hearts were broken. The ride back to Catlettsburg was filled with thoughts and questions about the event along with a little vicarious entertainment; each guy taking his turn for a friendly joust.
Wish I could have stayed for Sunday services as Mike Huckabee was delivering a message.
We left with many ideas for growing our Men’s Ministry at OABC and can hardly wait to get into the action.
Thanks to Jon Wellman for arranging the trip. I have been blessed.
January 30-31, 2009 Super Bowl weekend….I’ll be there.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Cold Cold Cold!!! 19 degrees this morning at 8:30 as I threaded my way down the ice-covered rocks toward the swirling waters of the mighty Ohio River below the Greenup locks and dam.
The sun was blazing through the light fog behind the dam, hundreds of seagulls worked the churning current and about a dozen brave souls stood rigid, casting chartreuse twisty-tail grubs into the chilly water.

I have been hearing about the large numbers of sauger being taken in the last month and decided to try my hand. I fished for almost two hours without a strike, but that never stopped me from enjoying the scenery and serenity.
I watched a few guys come down, make a few casts and then hoof it back to the warmth of the truck. One guy not far from me looked like Ralphie's little brother Randy; bundled up so big that he could scarcely move his arms to reel.
So my first fishing trip of 2008 brought no fillets to the table, but I'll be back, This was just an off day for the sauger.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL, AN EASY DOLLAR? now I'm gonna get on my soapbox for a minute.
I come from a long line of coal miners. My mom's family toiled long dark days in the mines of Floyd and Pike counties of eastern Kentucky. Days of hard labor, dusty, cold, dangerous, and again..dark days. They were deep miners. They worked the coal inside the mountain. The only visible sign of a deep mine was the loading tipple and the 'gob pile' of carbonaceous slate that was discarded over the hillside near the mouth of the mine or trucked away and deposited nearby. The gob invariably would catch fire either spontaneously or with the help of a match. The ensuing product of burnt gob resulted in a commodity termed 'red dog' and it is still used today in Kentucky as a substitute for gravel to coat many a muddy holler road.
I sort of followed in the footsteps of my family, earning a degree in Mining Technology from Pikeville College. While I never worked actually extracting coal, I chose the path of quality control and analysis. Out of college I worked for Ashland Coal and then Arch Coal in the lab.

I know who buttered my bread, bought my groceries and gave me electricity when I flipped a switch.
I have spent many hours underground studying roof control, ventilation, machinery and blasting and explosives. I've witnessed first hand the hardships and dangers that miners face every day.

I've studied the strip mining activities and the reclamation requirements that at the time required the site to be returned to the original contour. That practice seemed devastating to the topography of the mountains 25 years ago, but today the strip mining activities and mainly those of mountaintop removal are destroying the beauty of mountains. The 'original contour' laws are thrown out the window, in favor of so-called economical development. The 'flat' featureless plains in the middle of nowhere are supporting landing strips, golf courses and trailer parks. These operations are often out of the view of the public eye and seem to be 'out of sight, out of mind'.
Silas House wrote in the Lexington Herald Leader:"The sites are usually in isolated areas where as few people as possible can see them. Since the coal industry's major defense is that it's providing much-needed flat land for development, I wonder how many people are going to drive the winding, crumbling roads into places like Lower Bad Creek to shop or build homes on subdivided land. Not many, I assume."
While the technology is ever-growing in the mining industry, with the development of robotic remote control continuous miners, longwall systems and the safest coal mines in the world. It seems that we could mine the coal underground with greater safety and efficiency and preserve the natural beauty of our beloved mountains. The stripping of the mountain top, filling the valleys and hollow heads with rock and choking the streams, literally laying waste to the land is not what we deserve. There has to be a better way, not just the cheap, easy way that rapes the land and recovers the smallest seams of coal. Lets save the smaller seams near the summits for our future generations to mine with the unforeseen technology that is certain to come in the future.
Want to see firsthand the atrocious scars? use Google Earth to zoom down on any light colored spot amidst the verdant sea of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. The proof is there!

Get involved, join the fight!. Visit I Love Mountains!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


A few years back Sharla and I spent a few days in a B&B in Sevierville, Tennessee. The place was occupied only by us and another couple. The breakfast table was set and the four of sat down. Introductions were at hand and we couldn't help but notice the accent. John and Ann were from Glasgow, Scotland. They flew to Baltimore, rented a car and were driving the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. They were taking little side trips off the road to experience more of America than just the scenery.

The conversation was intriguing and sparked interest every time a new course was set before us.

Grapefruit with cinnamon sugar; a first for both of us guys, homemade biscuits and strawberry preserves, gravy, salt cured ham, eggs,fresh churned butter, pancakes and then the host sat before us a rather large bowl of southern comfort....Grits!

The Scotsman's eyes turned to his wife and see likewise. Then they both looked at us.

Fear not! I said, that is only a bowl of grits. I went on to say that at least the hostess served them in a bowl and not already on your plate as a lot of restaurants in the south do. With a little trepidation they both spooned a portion onto their plates and our eyes locked on Ann as she cautiously lifted a petite spoonful and deposited it onto the tip of her tongue. "Feels like frog spawn" she said and her husband quipped; "when have you ever eaten frog spawn?"

All in all they chalked it up as a new element of their trip.

Our conversations naturally centered around food and I had to bring up a question about that delectable Scottish dish..haggis. Now the fun began. While grits are kind of benign and somewhat one dimensional a haggis is quite complex.

Grits are just corn.

Haggis is oats, onions, salt, pepper, herbs, a liberal shot of whiskey,the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep all cooked and bound tightly in the stomach of the said sheep.

The haggis is traditionally served at a Robert Burns Dinner in celebration of the favorite son of Scotland.Which is coming up this January 25th.

If anyone has a place open at their table for the me!

Otherwise..I'll probably celebrate with a meatloaf and taters instead of haggis, neeps and tatties.

e Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o' fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking wareThat jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer

Gie her a haggis!

Friday, January 18, 2008


I know it seems that most of my postings revolve around the comings and goings of my son, but for good reason he is quite often my inspiration.

Last night (here we go again) as we were doing the bedtime routine, Sharla left the room soon after the prayers. It was my turn in the floor beside the bed awaiting the peaceful sound of his slumber. We sang a song and I told a story and all started to settle down.

The room was bathed in a warm red glow compliments of 'Lightning McQueen" and the soft drone of the humidifier beckoned the arrival of the 'sandman'.

I became lost in my own little world. My feeble mind was overrun with a play-by-play of the unpleasant events of the day. Carson had spent the better part of his school day in 'time-out".My finances(or mostly the lack thereof) weighed heavily upon me. My thoughts were consumed with how to provide for and protect my family. I was overwhelmed.

Then I felt a soft touch on my arm and heard the sweet words "Everything is gonna be OK Daddy, I'm right here."

Tears welled up in my eyes immediately. How could he have known what I was feeling? How did he know how much I was hurting? How did he know those words would touch me?

There were no more sounds. Just gentle breathing.

I left the room, still teary eyed, and shared with Sharla those comforting words.

I can only assume that his prayers had been answered and he was sharing with me the faith he has in me to be a father and husband.

It had to be his prayer, because in my selfish attempt to 'take care of it myself' I had neglected to ask for God's help. I know I'm not alone on this as many of us believe that we we can handle the 'small' problems. The problem is; all the 'small' ones add up and eventually become one 'BIG' problem.

I know Carson prays for me every night, and I hope he always will.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Carson’s bedtime prayer Sunday night was filled with the usual thanks and blessings for all the people in his life, but that night he ended his prayer with “and I thank you Lord for my Super Hero powers”.

Several years back there was a movie called Mystery Men. A futuristic tale of a group of wanna-be super heroes that band together to try and save the real super hero that had been taken captive and held for ransom. The wanna-be’s consisted of The Shoveler, Mr Furious, Blue Raja, The Bowler, the Invisible Kid and my favorite…the ‘Slpeen’. They all had talents, but they had yet to develop into the kind of talents that could be used to benefit society. Especially the talent of the Spleen. His claim to fame was ‘flatulence’ the 'SBD' type and with a flick of his coat tail he could dispose of a foe from across the room.
They formed a band of crime fighters and used the mediocre talent of each member to build the power of the group to super hero strength.
The Mystery Men relied on the talents of many to serve one purpose.
We as Christians often feel that we don’t have what it takes to perform at the Super Hero level but we don’t need to be super heroes to do the work of our Father. We do need to band together and work as one unit, combining the many talents and gifts that dwell within us to reach those that don’t know the power of God’s saving grace.

Don’t think for a second that you don’t have the power in you to be a ‘Super Hero’ for the Lord.
He gave us the talents and expects them to be used!

Don’t keep your talents a ‘mystery’. Expose them, expound upon them, exercise them, but most of all… excite others about what Jesus means to you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Don’t take shelter under a tree, stay away from metal objects, don’t be the most prominent object, stay low, seek shelter in a depression or ditch.
Sound familiar?
These are ways we have all been taught to protect ourselves from being struck by lightning during a storm.
We all have the common sense (hopefully) to follow these rules and get out of the rain, seek shelter and avoid becoming a target of a potentially fatal lightning strike.
We see the storm clouds rising, the skies darkening, we hear the rumble of distant thunder and we take action to protect ourselves and the ones we love from being harmed. I love a good summer thunderstorm. I love to watch the lightning streak and hear the crackle. I love the feel of thunder that sometimes rattles your bones and seems to move the earth. It gives the feeling that you are alive. The smell of ozone that sometimes envelopes the eerie yellow-like landscape preceding the onslaught is a sensation I’ll never forget.
However; I like to experience this when I know I am safe. I like to experience this from the confines of my porch, where if the rain starts to come in sideways, I can retreat inside and continue watching from the picture window in the living room. I am not afraid of a storm. I AM afraid of lightning! I avoid lightning at all costs and will continue to do so.

But what about that rare form of lightning that can strike without warning from a seemingly cloudless blue sky?. That proverbial ‘BOLT OUT OF THE BLUE’ .
A bolt from the blue is a term which refers to a form of lightning that strikes out of an apparently cloudless sky. It carries around ten times the current of an ordinary bolt of lightning.
Ten times more current? That packs a wallop!

The sky Friday was blue and sunny. There were no clouds looming on the horizon. No sounds of thunder rumbling in the distance.
Seems like the conditions were perfect for a “BOLT OUT OF THE BLUE’, and then KABOOM!!!!

I was struck!

At first I felt no pain, just a tingling and then a numbness overtook my entire body. I didn’t know you could be hit while inside the safety of your own home.
While I was not physically harmed, my spirit had been crushed and bruised. I learned of a so-called joke gone awry aimed at my wife that over-stepped the boundaries of decency and was a full-on frontal attack of MY Christian life, My marriage and My integrity.
I felt so violated.
While this has been a long 48 hours, I have found the forgiveness for this man. I have sought the support and prayers of my wife, son, pastor and my ‘band of brothers’ prayer group and my Sunday School class.They always have my back!
I know enough to seek shelter from a storm. I live my life to the utmost and don’t want to walk around in fear; and I won’t!
Continue to remember us in your prayers.
Pray without ceasing!

Monday, December 31, 2007


One last post for 2007.
Looking forward to 2008.
As Woodsy would say..”2008 is the year, its gonna be a banner year!”
I’ve got a lot of plans for the upcoming year. Plans, no resolutions.
January is gonna be filled with a lot of work, and extra on-call time. A weekend trip to Georgetown/Lexington.Then I’m off to a Men’s Conference at First Baptist Woodstock, Georgia on Feb 1&2. Triple Play
Hope to do a little more fishing and catch my first ever Kentucky Brook Trout.
Plan to take in another Mother’s Day with the Columbus Crew, maybe a trip to the beach in the Summer, Camden Park, pontooning on Grayson Lake, hiking and caving with Carson and being a dad and husband.
I’m open for anything that comes my way!
Bring it on 2008!!!!