RandomConnections 2015 Calendar

2015 calendar

As has become my tradition, I have made calendars as gifts for my family. This is my eighth year of doing this. The photos usually come from the previous year, but not necessarily. I keep an album of calendar potentials, and sometimes pull from those if I don’t have something seasonally appropriate.

When I started this way back in 2006, I was using Qoop to create the calendars. They have long since gone, and for the past couple of years I’ve been using Lulu.com. I like their layouts, and I get a bit more room to add captions. That just wasn’t possible with Qoop. Because Qoop didn’t allow much room for captions, it had also become my tradition to do a blog post with a description of this year’s photos. Captions or no, I decided I’d still do a post on the photos, with a behind-the-scenes story.

BTW, if you want your own calendar, they are still available. Just click the link and you can order one. Continue reading “RandomConnections 2015 Calendar”

Christmas Wrap-Up 2014

Santa Ornament

2014 has not been an easy year. We lost my mom, and Laura’s mother has had serious health issues. I’m still trying to adjust to retirement, and Laura is trying to adjust to new work challenges. Even so, we were able keep some of our holiday traditions, and it was a good thing.

A Wright Family Christmas

I’ve already written about the difficulties with our time in Florida. I had begun my time down there with the Solstice Paddle, but there were multiple other kayaking trips. Usually I managed to get out on the water at about 9:00 am. At this time, the incoming tide was ripping from south to north, with an accompanying wind. My usual route was to paddle against the current, then come back with the wind and tide.

Indian River Paddling-5 Continue reading “Christmas Wrap-Up 2014”

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice on the Indian River-016
Winter Solstice on the Indian River

The shortest day of the year. When I can, it’s gotten to be my tradition to celebrate the winter solstice by paddling out to watch the sunrise. I had just driven ten hours on Saturday and arrived in Fort Pierce so that I can do my dawn paddle on Sunday. I was not disappointed.

Knowing that I’d be heading back down here in a couple of weeks, I left one of my kayaks when we came down at Christmas. It was waiting and ready when I got up at 5:30 am. Sunrise was at 7:09, so I had time to enjoy a bit of paddling in the dark. Continue reading “Celebrating the Winter Solstice”

Winter at the SC Botanical Gardens

South Carolina Botanical Garden-007

Wednesday was my one day this week without a singing engagement. I had originally planned to drive down to Columbia with Ken to see this Norman Rockwell exhibit, but we had some family business that needed tending. I was able to see my niece, Olivia, in her kindergarten Christmas play, and they didn’t have a single lobster.

I was able to wrap things up by lunch time, and I wanted to get out and do some photography. Even though we didn’t have time for Columbia, I called Ken to see if we could do something local. We decided to check out the South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson. Continue reading “Winter at the SC Botanical Gardens”

Birthday Hike to the Top of the World

Whiteside Mountain-33
View from Whiteside Mountain

Sunday was my birthday, and it was going to be tough. In addition to the realization that age is rapidly advancing, Laura had to leave last week to go assist with her mom, which meant I was on my own. This was also the first birthday without my own mother, and her usual phone call would be sorely missed. I decided that rather than mope around the house, I was going to head out on an adventure.

If you’re approaching Greenville along I-385 on a clear day, off in the distance is a striking angular peak. At 4390 ft above sea level, Whiteside Mountain isn’t the tallest peak in the Appalachians by any stretch of the imagination. However, it does boast the largest exposed granite cliffs of any in the Blue Ridge. Back in my rock-climbing/rappelling days the sharp peak always intrigued me, and always seemed slightly out of reach. While I did lots of climbing and rappelling along Glassy Mountain (before the desecration of The Cliffs), Devil’s Courthouse, and other points in the Blue Ridge, I never made it to Whiteside Mountain. I decided that would be my goal for the day. Continue reading “Birthday Hike to the Top of the World”

So You’re Considering a GoPro

GoPro Hero 3 Black
GoPro Hero 3 Black

This morning I got a message from a friend considering a GoPro camera as a Christmas present. Since I’ve gotten that question several times, I decided to put together a blog post with what I’ve been telling folks who might be thinking about getting one, either for themselves or as a present.

I’ll state up front that I love my GoPro, but sometimes it’s a love-hate relationship. Even though I (and lots of other people) come up with different ways to use the camera, it’s a niche product, and you have to know its limitations. TL;DR version, I wouldn’t recommend it as your sole camera, but if you’re an active, creative photographer, you’ll find yourself using it in all sorts of ways you never imagined when you first got it. Continue reading “So You’re Considering a GoPro”

The New Modern Prophets

TL;DR jump to audio file. Also, see the note at the end for disclaimer regarding names mentioned in this post.

Flashback – Summer, 1981

I was in-between semesters at Furman and was trying to earn a bit of cash for school by working maintenance for Laurens School District 55. This particular summer I was painting Sanders Middle School with an older guy (and by older, I mean probably in his mid-30s) whose first name I could only remember – Willie. Willie was a hard worker, and taught me lots about commercial painting, most of which I’ve long since forgotten. I liked Willie, and enjoyed my work with him that summer.

Willie was a devout Christian, and enjoyed listening to a local Black Gospel station on AM radio. I got into it, too, listening jealously to some of the piano chops these guys had. However, the one thing that made my day were the advertisements for Reverend Yuri. At precisely 11:25 am and 2:25 pm these would air.

Reverend Yuri was a spiritual advisor and reader located on Cedar Lane in Greenville. To this day I can point out his former establishment, which still looks rather weird. (I only know it was the place because there was a large billboard proclaiming it as Yuri’s, and not from any actual visits to the establishment.) His advertisements featured him using the vernacular, and started like this…

Is you tired? Is you lonely? Has your friends let you down? Reverend Yuri can help…

In the following years I’d tune in every now and then to listen to the ads, simply because I loved the use of the lilting vernacular. A couple of years later Reverend Yuri was replaced by “Sister Yuri.” I don’t know what happened. Sex change? Had I misunderstood the gender from the get-go, and the voice I was appreciating was that of the announcer? Who knows? Eventually Yuri closed shop and the ads ended. Continue reading “The New Modern Prophets”

More Thanksgiving Escapes

Island Kayak

NOTE: After a week, Thanksgiving turkey is probably getting old and not something you want to eat. I’m about a week late with this post, and I’m hoping it’s not quite as stale.

It was a week of lots of home health care visits. The nurse who will be staying with Laura’s mom on a regular basis dropped by a couple of times over the holidays. Another nurse came by a couple of times, and there were two different physical therapists in multiple times to work with her. Laura and I were tasked with heading out to get various items necessary for all of these pursuits. Add to that the desire for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and things could get stressful very quickly.

Even so, we managed to have a traditional Wright family turkey gathering, and I was able to spend some time with my family. I even managed a couple more escapes on my kayak. Continue reading “More Thanksgiving Escapes”