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"It seems to me what you lose in mystery, you gain in awe."
Sir Francis Crick

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
--William James

>>>Photo Links<<<

If any of the photo links are broken, you can find the public photo gallery here

Friday, May 30, 2008

North Mississippi Allstars, More School Awards

First, the show last night at the Handlebar was really fun. Man, those NMA have some kind of energy. They came out with two of my favorites back to back: "Ship Comes In" and "Stompin" . It was like I requested them or something :-) They played a solid 2 hours of straight up hill country boogie. I felt like I got my money's worth at the end of the show and then some. My neighbor, Barry Batson and I had a blast and enjoying talking about music all night. Our wifes are glad that we are neighbors so we can go without them and not make them listen to what Tricia sometimes describes as "that loud guitar noise". It was that! My recording using the hypercardioids turned out really good and I hope to have it posted before we head out to Dupont State Forest for some camping and hiking with the boys tomorrow afternoon.

Today was also the awards day at Crestview for 1st grade. So, Dylan got to receive and Tricia was able to award all the soon-to-be second graders in her class for a job well done.

Here's another You Tube video from the awards, this one shows Dylan getting a little overzealous with receiving his certificate from Mrs. Young. He got it right with some guidance and then showed how proud he was of his certificate. The 1st grader teachers did it right and did the year end awards with the 4th quarter awards. That way, I didn't get confused and try to leave early again.

By the way, if you don't like the video streaming quality of these embedded videos, you can click on the image and go to YouTube to watch in higher quality.

Another softball game tonight, this one was a lot shorter but Miles and Dylan did get to see me bat and field for a little while tonight. Dylan was impressed with my uniform as usual. Miles wanted to know the score every 5 minutes. Somethings never change!

Well, time for bed. We reserved a camping site near Dupont State Forest in North Carolina for tomorrow and plan to check out some short hikes and waterfalls while we are up in the hills. Only 3 more 1/2 days of school to go!

See ya!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday with Miles and the NMA

Tons of things going on today. On top of work being at hyper speed due to the MUSE conference, Miles and Dylan have award ceremonies at school and the North Mississippi Allstars are in town.

Here's some video from Crestview showing Miles getting his 4th quarter awards. Silly me, I thought that was the end and left to go back to work. I was later informed that was just for the quarter and the end of the year awards followed. Not the most organized ceremony but it was fun while I was there and Miles was glad to see me. Stay tuned for Dylan's tomorrow.

Here's my gallery from the North Mississippi Allstars at The Bohemian for their free show before their Handlebar set tonight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mocha Club

I started a Mocha Club team this past weekend and you may have received an email from me about it. It's a cool way to give up just a small amount of money ($7, the cost of 2 Mochas or 1 big one at Starbucks) each month to help African projects. My team project work will be towards HIV/AIDS recovery and prevention in Africa. A friend of mine told me about a musician who talked about the club in his show. It's something we can all do and the sacrifice is so small compared to what that money can do in Africa in the right hands. So, if you got an email from me, open it and thanks for joining me on the team.

Speaking of team, our softball team had a late game last night, started at 930pm. We played a great game but lost 22-21. Yes, that's how church softball scores l@@k. I had a couple of hits and scored but the most fun for me was playing catcher. I didn't do too bad but the funniest moment was when a player hit a pop fly and it almost hit me and the ump in the head as we both stood there. We both thought it had gone behind the backstop. It had to look funny to the crowd. But, it wasn't as funny as a certain youth minister we all know plowing over first base and tumbling down the line (and he was out). We had a lot of fun last night even if we didn't win. The other team has evidently struggled as much as we have in this league of big power-hitting teams because at the end of the game, one of the other players said "we should play ya'll every night!". I couldn't have agreed more. It was the first game that I have played in all season that didn't get called because of the score. You can figure out the rest :-)

Only a few more days of school for the family. Miles and Dylan will be out after next Wednesday at 12pm. My sister, Amy, will be here in Greenville taking her RN boards and plans to take the boys back to Sumter after they are done. That will give Tricia and I some time to recover and celebrate the end of the school year. On a school note... Keller is doing so good in training. I think he has "Down" pretty good, as long as he knows you have a treat and he is making great progress with "Stay". Shadow still doesn't see the big deal...

See ya!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just an update on the ice cream

No ice cream party tonight as Tricia is still feeling zapped from her illness this week. We decided to postpone until later this summer. I did yard work and washed Keller. We are headed back for another lesson at doggie school tomorrow afternoon and he needed a bath. He is growing so fast. I plan to take some pictures tomorrow to post. Ok, hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend. Remember to take just a minute to remember those who gave it all on the battlefield for our freedom. We all take it for granted too easily these days.

See ya!

How Cool is That?

I want to write about a few cool things in my life that have put a big smile on my face:

1. Dylan got to run on the field with the Greenville Drive last night as part of the end of the season banquet. Although the Drive lost to the Charleston Riverdogs, we had a lot of fun on Family night. We even ran into Brian and Kelly, who had great seats right behind home plate (see pictures).

Here's the video on Youtube of Dylan running on the field:

2. Our Keurig one cup coffee maker. The boys and I got Tricia a one cup coffee maker for Mother's Day. I got it for her because she likes to drink a cup or tea or decaf or regular coffee (just anything not cold) at night. She was wasting more than she was drinking at night; so, a one cup seemed like a great idea. She loves it and I do too. It's great for a quick cup when you are on the run or only want 1 cup. It's easy and no mess. Miles' orthodontist had one in his office so I kinda had an idea but this is really cool!

3. Ice Cream. We stopped for Cold Stone Creamery last night on the way home and I think we found a new place to get ice cream. We had overlooked this place (right next to Target and Panera on Wade Hampton) since moving here. We started looking for Marble Slab or Cold Stone via the GPS on the way home from the Drive game and viola- there is was right on the way home. Now, we will be tempted by Dillard's (still my favorite), Brewster's and Cold Stone Creamery. Speaking of ice cream, we are having some friends over tonight for ice cream and Trivial Pursuit fun. I can eat ice cream everyday and that's what makes life so COOL!

See ya!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fishin' in Sparkleberry

Today marks 1 year since my Dad, Cecil Heyward Johnson, Jr, departed this life. My favorite memories of childhood and teenage years are of fishin' in Sparkleberry Swamp with my Dad and brother or sisters or just me and Dad. I made a video for him of a fishing trip with some good music soundtrack after he could no longer get in a boat due to poor health. He told me it meant a great deal to him and we had a blast watching and listening to it.

Here's a link: Sparkleberry Swamp

I enjoyed watching it again today. Thank you Dad for those memories and for teaching me about the swamp, the farm, trees and everything else. We all miss you. I thought about you today when I was walking with Keller. I remembered how much we laughed when I called you from Giants Stadium on Father's Day in 1991. I was at a Grateful Dead/Little Feat concert and had been on the road for a few weeks with the Dead. I said "Happy Birthday Dad" when he answered. Of course, it was Father's Day. He understood and was glad to hear I was alive and doing mighty fine thank you very much...

The reason I thought about that incident was I was thinking about what I would say to him today and I immediately thought "Happy Birthday Dad". It seemed kinda funny until I thought more about it and walked on down the road with Keller. Your death is like a birth, the way out is the way in. So, Happy Birthday Dad!

Here's the tune we played when we put Dad's ashes in the ground. It's Sierra Leone from Derek Trucks Band 3rd CD. It always reminds me of 2 worlds: the hot and dry dirt roads of the South and Africa and at the same time, some other perfect place of peace.

Derek was gracious enough to play this for me in Charlotte the week my Dad passed. They never play this tune and I haven't heard it since.
It was in the Rastaman Chant instrumental that started the 2nd set: 5-26-7dtb

See ya!

Cecil Heyward Johnson, Jr

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

About Last Weekend

I finally have a chance to write about some of the good things happening at Freedom Fellowship. A few weeks ago, some one wondered into church who hadn't been in church in a long time. That same person hadn't been sober in a long time either. One thing lead to another and I ended up giving that guy a ride home after the service. We talked about my own experiences and struggles with alcohol and drug use. I gave him my phone number and told him to call me if he was serious about our discussions of getting his feet out of the grave.

I was proud of how welcoming we made him feel without trying to make him leave or convince him that he shouldn't be in church in his condition. He sat quietly and listened to Cliff's sermon, which happened to be about the prodigal son parable in Matthew. Skip forward a few weeks after several phone calls, lots of prayer and hooking up this guy with a group of men on the path of recovery in our church...he is making the right steps toward rehab and recovery. He's been in church the last 2 weeks and you can tell something is going on. He has a long way to go and still needs prayer, support and encouragement (don't we all!); but, I'm glad we are stepping up and helping him as commanded. Please read "we" as Freedom Fellowship, I am only a small cog in the wheel of this story.

Another cool thing is some friends we have invited to Freedom have been twice with great things to say. They haven't been part of a church family in a long time and it's great to hear the excitement of finding a place that you recognize as a home and a place to grow. I know how they feel.

Speaking of feeling...Tricia is feeling better and going back to work tomorrow. She has her color back and her smile. We missed it the last few days. Dylan is feeling much better today and went back to school for the first time since last Thursday. He still gets giggly thinking about Tricia telling him "Good boy, good boy" when he was throwing up into the "bucket" that Tricia was holding for him at 1am. She was delirious from the early hour and the stress. Even in his physical and mental anquish, Dylan saw the humor in her saying "Good boy, good boy" just because he hit the bucket. He told me on Friday, "Daddy, Mommy acted like I was Keller or something when she said that." Tricia said it helped make the awful moments a little brighter and woke her just a little bit. Sorry for the grossness of that paragraph but that's life.

See ya!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tricia is not feeling good today

Please lift Tricia today as she is green and grey with the same stomach bug that Dylan has been dealing with all weekend. Dylan is also home today since he was sick again last night and not up to speed all day yesterday. Tricia started feeling ill last night and went to school with plans to find a sub asap. She is now up in bed and I am trying to get her to take something. Dylan is playing and hanging out. He is feeling better but not enough for school. Miles has PACT tests all week again.

The good news is school will be done in a few weeks and summer will be here!

I had a blast on Friday in Camden with Yonrico Scott Band. I have some of the recording (1st set) and getting the 2nd set from the sound guy. We left during the 2nd set so I could get some sleep before the class on Saturday at Tuomey.

I made it back to Greer Saturday night with a car full of trees and shrubs to plant in the yard. We had a great day at Freedom yesterday. I will write more about that as soon as I can.

See ya!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yonrico Scott Band in Camden, ACLS at Tuomey

I am heading south again today after just 2 nights at home. I have to teach ACLS at Tuomey in Sumter this weekend. Tonight, I am heading to Camden to catch my good friends, The Yonrico Scott Band, as part of the Camden Jazz festival. My sister, Amy, is joining me to celebrate the end of RN school! She is taking her NCLEX on June 3rd. I will be in Indianapolis that week. She is actually going to take it here in Greenville since it's an earlier appointment and she can stay here with Tricia and the boys. It's going to be another busy weekend. I am going to try to get back to Greer for church on Sunday morning too. But, I may go to Alice Drive in Sumter as previously planned. I have to get my bass from Robert Gibbs (who will also be in Camden tonight) so that will dictate my travel plans too.

Dylan is home with me today. He had some violent stomach discomforts last night around 1am. He did not have a good night. Feeling much better this morning and next to me on the laptop watching a movie right now. It could have been the mac and cheese out of the can as that was the result we saw :-)

I am going to take Miles to karate today at 5pm after work and then hit the road.

Have a great weekend and know you are LOVED by God and me. Hey, I got my new leather bond copy of The Message Remix this weekend plus a used copy of Cold Mountain that I can't wait to get into. The movie remains one of my favorites and I am looking forward to a new version to play in my head through the book.

See ya!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stormy Chicago

Well, it looks like a Cubs game is out of the plans while I am here. There was actually a really cool shuttle bus I could take from the mall next door but some thuderstorms are looking mean and I have too much to do for work tonight. I didn't really want to get trapped downtown in the rain. I am about 15 miles from the Lake Shore Drive area and downtown. Maybe next time around...

Otherwise, it's not too bad here. I am about 5 miles from the site and this is Midwest suburbia with tons of eateries and stores around. I am going out for UNO pizza in a few. I had a great Bison burger at Ted Turner's Montana grille last night while watching the Cubs beat the Padres. That was a great burger! It was way too chilly for this South Carolina boy last night but much warmer last night. These people up here talk a little funny too (that was for you, Tricia).

I'll be back home on Wednesday night. My sister, Amy, is staying with Tricia and the boys while I am out of town. She told me today she is enjoying hanging with Keller and just enjoying her completion of RN school. I also got the report on Dylan's baseball game last night. Ever since Tricia started promising $1 for hits and stopping the ball, he has been a regular All Star with batting and fielding. Whatever it takes at his age, maybe he might even be enjoying it too :-)

Well, I'm out for some really good pizza. Oh yeah, I also got a Blackberry yesterday and just finished setting up the phone to work on my company exchange server. Life is moving very fast these days, very fast. So, hold on and buckle up.

See ya!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sweet Home Chicago

I am heading out today for Chicago. I have a new work site there and have to train the hospital staff for the next 2 days on how to use our company software. The last time I was in Chicago was driving through to Maine from the West Coast on a Friday at 5pm in a thunder storm. Hopefully, this will be a much better visit. The Cubs are in town all week and I can get a $16 cheap seat. It all depends on the transportation to the stadium. I will be near the airport, so it depends on how I feel tomorrow night.

We went down to Sumter for Amy's Pig Pickin'. It was some good eatin' and great to see everyone, including some Tuomey folks. The boys got the 1st swim of the season out of the way. I remember swimming this early as a kid but now it makes my lips blue just thinking about it! It was also good to attend Alice Drive on Sunday too.

On a bad parents note... I accidentally left the doggie door locked for the garage while we were gone to Sumter, so Keller spent most of his day/night in the garage. It was evident by what he left for us. But, at least, he had food and water. Now, Shadow, on the other hand, who we thought was outside when we left...was locked inside with no food or water (it was on the front porch for him). Just shows what the whirlwind we left on Saturday was like :-).

Keller paid me back in Aces last night. He got my cell phone and used it like a teething toy. I was a little upset and not proud of myself when I found that. Keller and I are cool now as it was my fault for leaving it where he could get to it and my Ipod while cleaning out the car when we got home. Tricia's comment: "Looks like you might be getting that Blackberry sooner than you think." I am on the way to AT&T today to see if there is anything I can do. Luckily, I keep my spare phone. At a minimum, I can get a new SIM card for it and be on my way. Well, gotta finish packing and hit the road. See ya!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wednesday Whirlwind

What an awesome day yesterday! I left the house at 615am, hit Starbucks on 85 as I watched that big red sun climb out of the east. It's been a while since I have seen the sunrise and set in the same day. I went to Sumter for my sister's RN program graduation and pinning. We are so proud of Amy. I know some of the feelings she is experiencing, as the end of that training is indeed cause for celebration. I am also happy to share her joy as a family member and fellow nurse. My Mom and I are glad to have another nurse in the family too!

After the obligatory meal, I took a walk through Tuomey and said "hello" to the staff. It was good to see so many familiar faces and see what's changed in a year. I will be back next week to teach ACLS as well. There were also many Tuomey family at the graduation. I then dropped off my bass with the master of guitar zen, Robert Gibbs. Robert is not only a guitar master but a great teacher and instrument tech too. I am going to see him at the Camden Jazz fest next week too. He has some serious fluidity in his playing and I have turned him on to Derek Trucks too!

Before I left town, I went by Alice Drive Baptist to get some materials for the Africa trip. Thanks to all who have contributed to my trip. I was able to see the report on my finance status. Keep praying for us and if you are considering support, check my web page for info Africa 2008.
I made it back to Greer with 5 minutes to spare before we headed out to Life Group. We met last night at Ruth and Allan Waterfield's incredible home on Lake Lyman. We also got a quick boat trip in before the meeting started. It was a great way to relax with Tricia and see the sun go down over the mountains and the lake. Thank you God for safe travel and for making a Wonderful World for us.

See ya!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Miles and the Disney Duet

Hey, I'm now on YouTube. It's free and I found it to be easy once you get past all the profile creation stuff they put you through. My first video is from last night's chorus performance at Crestview Elementary. Miles has been working hard on his part all spring. In case you don't know, he's the sharp looking fella in the Sorcerer's hat. Enjoy!

Here's some of the snapshots on Picassa.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Caesar's Head and Pretty Place Chapel

After church today we took the boys up the hills to Pretty Place chapel (Camp Greenville) and then back to Caeasar's Head State Park. It was a great day with some clouds but lots of sun. On the way to the park, we met our friend Judy and her son, Vincent for lunch at Aunt Sue's place. We had some great food and ice cream and then the 4 of us went up for some hiking and sight seeing from the overlooks. We plan to get back up to hike Table Rock in June and this was a fun afternoon with the boys. Miles definitely needs to get out walking a little more and Dylan had way too much energy for the rest of us on the trails. I know they will sleep well tonight! Wow! the weekend went way too fast.

Yesterday, we made it to the Farmer's Market for the flower festival. We got some asparagus ferns for the front porch and a buckeye tree because gosh darnit, Tricia is from Ohio, and you have to have a buckeye tree!!! We are still discussing where we want to put that tree. It looks like a hickory nut tree to me and will look good in the backyard. We also made it to Sunrift Adventures in Traveler's Rest. We got Dylan some Keen sandals so he has a pair like the rest of us now. He was really bragging about them on the trails today. Plus, we made a stop at our friends, Leopard Forest coffee, to fill up on the essentials of beans and ice cream!

On Saturday afternoon, Keller and I went to his first dog obedience class. He did so good, we started on the 2nd lesson almost right away. It helps when you are the only ones in the class and I have spent some time with Keller already learning (him, not me :-) )hand signals and sitting. He was so good, especially after he found out the instructor had treats for doing the right thing. Food is his reinforcer!

This week is going to be hectic too. On Monday, Dylan has a baseball game with team pictures. At almost the same time, Miles is singing in a duet part with the chorus for the PTA meeting. Dylan and I are going to sprint across town to make that after the pictures. Then Tuesday, the usual piano/karate fun and then I am heading down to Sumter to see my sister, Amy, graduate RN school with a cap and pinning ceremony at the Opera House on Main street. It will be a great chance to say "Hi" to the Tuomey folks too. I can't believe it's already been a year since I left Tuomey and joined Iatric Systems. Best year of my life too! Then I have to head right back up here for Life Group on Wednesday night. We are then heading back to Sumter on Saturday (after another baseball game on Friday) for a big Pig Pickin' with the whole family to celebrate Amy's graduation in true south Sumter style! Then, next week I head to Chicago for an onsite training... but I am getting ahead of myself! I may get a softball game or two in there if my luck holds (or my knees don't buckle).

On the Sumter front, thank you for all of the prayers for Holly and Mikey. Little Isabella's funeral is tomorrow. Here's the obituary: Isabella Kinsley Waters. Please continue to pray for Holly and Mikey in the days ahead as they will need strength and power to move forward with their lives after this loss.

Thanks for reading and See ya!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Something Precious Lost

Yesterday was a very sad day in our family. My dear cousin, Holly, who has suffered from epilepsy since childhood suffered a seizure while holding her 9 month old little girl, Isabella. When she came through after the seizure, Holly was on the floor and she found little Isabella was not breathing. I hate to tell you that we lost Isabella yesterday. Holly and Mikey live next to my parents' farm in Sumter. Holly and Mikey are devastated and older brothers Noah and Nathan are confused and sad. Please lift them in your prayers and thoughts as they will need God to weather this storm and find some comfort to ease this pain that hurts to the core of human existence.

Here's a prayer that a dear friend from church sent yesterday. I ask that you read it and pray these words to our Lord, our Father. Holly and Mikey probably don't know you and may never know your name or face; but, Jesus hears your words and I thank you from everyone in our family.

Father, I come to you now in the name of Jesus on behalf of Holly and her immediate family and entire extended family. Make your presence known in a supernatural way to calm and settle the fear, extinguish the guilt, and multiply the hope. May they have visions of Isabella in your presence and that all is well there. Help them to get through this day and the days ahead. Help them to know how much you love them and are speaking to many others to share your love during this time. Help them to draw close to you. Help us to remember to continue our prayers for them. Show us others way we can serve them from afar. Thank you for loving us all and especially for caring for them during this most difficult time. Amen.

See ya!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

My friend (and pastor) Cliff Marshall posted on his blog the other day about the things he got from his Dad. One of the things was his big smile, so big it makes his eyes squint. It got me thinking about the things I have inherited (for a better word) from my parents. I left a comment over there and thought I would post them here too.

Thanks for sharing Cliff and Jeanne, you had me laughing and smiling too.

Let's see...

>the LOVE of ice cream (Dad and Mom)

>Bull-headedness to the extreme (Dad)

>the gift of conversation (Mom)

>Faith in the power of Jesus (Mom and Dad in that order)

>Orange blood...Go Tigers (Dad)

I left out most of the ones I am trying to overcome or compensate for most days. I hope I am passing the right ones on to Miles and Dylan. Next month is 1 year since my Dad passed, it's still amazing how often I dream about him. Sometimes good and sometimes painful but it is always so real. I often tell them that I hate they got to know him as a weak, sick old man. I was once so scared of him, physically and emotionally. I hope to continue to teach them the good things he showed me and tell the stories about how much he accomplished and what he did that was good. Thanks for sharing!<<<<<

I finished the great book by Anne Rice, The Road to Cana. Wow! When is the next one coming out? I think it will be great to read all 3 together as 1 volume when she is done. The section of Jesus' temptation by Satan in the desert is unlike any you will read elsewhere. I had to check it out twice because it was on a 14 day loan and I had way too much going on in April. But, a 14 day loan is a good thing, it means other folks want it too and it's in high demand. I highly recommend these 2 books for Christians and non-believers. It's fiction (maybe) and it does require you to suspend some of the things you have set in your mind about Jesus: the missing years (to steal an album title from John Prine).

This weekend, Keller and I start doggy school (every Saturday). He's doing good with the home training but we want a little more refining. Today is also the day we celebrate Shadow's birthday. We have been his staff...I mean we have enjoyed Shadow in our LIFE for 4 years now. He was such a little ball of black fur back then. He would follow you around the house and talk to you, which he still does but it's usually to get us to do something for him these days.

Shadow definitely used one of his nine lives this week when he decided to take on Keller head on. Tricia and Dylan were in the backyard practicing baseball with Dylan's new bat. Miles and I were at karate. Tricia said Shadow jumped down off the fence and then pounced on Keller and set his claws and teeth into Keller's side. Well, that's all Keller needed for a reason to wrestle. Tricia and Dylan report they went at it with hisses, barks, snarls, moans, and roars for a least 2 minutes until Shadow had decided it was not the best move he had made recently and took off for a tree. He was still in the tree two hours later. Yesterday he barely moved out of the chair. I did comb out all the mud that dried on his back. I think (hope) he learned his lesson that Keller may be young but he is very strong and always ready to wrestle. Life just wouldn't be the same without them!

See ya!