Millstones and Milestones

Seventeen. My oldest daughter would have turned seventeen last week. Seventeen seems like such an unimportant birthday. You became legal to drive the year before, and it will be another year before you are an adult. Seventeen is just seventeen.

As I sit here at the park watching my boys and my little girl play at the park, I can’t help but think there is more to being seventeen. This year would be the last she would be a child. Responsibilities sh e will never have to face would be looming around the corner. Decisions about the future would need addressing. She does not have to worry about any of that, but I wish she did.

This morning might have opened with a big breakfast, if we could get her out of bed, and she would have gotten hugs and kisses until she told us to go away. We wouldn’t listen. A dinner of her choosing and a cake made by her mom (or maybe her brother since he loves to bake) would end the day. Would she go out with her friends, or would she stay home with her family? I don’t know, and I never will.

My wife asked me if it would ever stop hurting. I told her no. It will always hurt when those two lonely milestones come around.

For my part the grief for her, my Hailey, hangs about my heart like a millstone grinding away at the wheat of my soul with a slow persistence that I may never be rid of entirely.

Thankfully, I have my wife and children to keep me whole. They are the light that chases away the darkness that wants to feed the destructive urges that lurk beneath the surface. They may never know exactly how much I love them, but I try to show them and tell them every day.

My Inspiration

It is easy to say you are inspired by someone. I say I am inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, L. Ron Hubbard, Tolkien, Asimov and a number of other writers, and that would be the truth. But those sources of inspiration are of the sort that I look at and say, “I want to write like them. I want to be known like them.” They are passive inspirations, long gone and safe to emulate from afar.

It is a rare thing for me to find someone that inspires me to do something solid. They make me want to change something about myself and be more like them. Well I can say with all honesty that I have been inspired, and I think it only right to share who inspired me. Continue reading “My Inspiration”

Vacation On a Field of War

This past weekend I drove up to Pennsylvania to pick up my boys. I hadn’t seen them in almost two month and my parents thought that meeting my wife, daughter, and I in Gettysburg would be more fun that meeting in Columbus, Ohio (no offense to Columbus intended).  As the day approached we learned that my wife would have to stay behind for her Triathlon training. It was very upsetting for her and the boys, and I wish she could have made it, but she is working on hard on her training and it was the right choice.

My daughter and I were on the road ten minutes before five o’clock AM with our camping gear in the trunk and our snacks in the front.

Six hours later we arrived at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. We met my boys and my parents in he Visitor Center just in time to watch a film and see the Cyclorama. With that done, we went into the museum.  All of the artifacts and presentations were interesting, but I’ll be honest, I was far more into being with my kids and seeing Kaitlyn glomming onto her brothers.


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After a quick break for lunch, we started on the driving tour through the park. We borrowed the CD’s and booklet from the Gettysburg KOA where we were staying. Not to get too sidetracked, but I would definitely recommend the campground as an affordable overnight option if you don’t want to pay for a tourist town’s hotel rates. It’s a great place for the kids to play and includes a playground, swimming pool, over-sized chess set, and breakfast on the cheap.  There is a little store with snacks, toys and touristy stuff.  I bought the  auto tour book and CD’s after the fact and I plan on coming back.

I enjoyed the auto tour immensely. Of course I had to get out at a number of stops to read some of the numerous markers that litter the park with information. Much of it would mean little to anyone not well read on the Civil War, but even for the uninformed it would be interesting. When we got to Seminary Ridge I was completely in awe. Staring up at Cemetery Ridge and knowing that on the third day of the battle, 12,000 Confederate soldiers lined up a mile across and marched up that field to face the Union troops tucked behind a short wall and makeshift fortifications. The insanity of it is mind boggling. Those men were incredibly brave and I cannot imagine marching into the face of so much firepower.

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The auto tour was cool, but we got kind of a late start, so by the time we got to the Army of Northern Virginia Memorial, we had to make a decision and opted to skip some sites in order to hit the two places I really wanted to check out: Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge.

Little Round Top  was amazing. What a commanding view of the battlefield. I can completely understand why the Union dug in and the confederates fought so hard to take it. We walked around, took a bunch of pictures, and I got to spout off to my children about the battle that was fought where we stood. The one thing I missed out on was Chamberlain’s memorial. It was a little way down the hill from where we parked and I could tell the kids were getting tired.  I’m looking forward to checking that out when we come back.

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Cemetery Ridge. Wow. Walking onto the field and seeing the path traveled by Pickett’s Charge was incredible. Standing on the spot where the Confederate troops briefly broke through the Union line and standing beside the spot where Lewis Armistead reached the Union cannon before being shot was breathtaking. Zachary went with my mom to check out the cemetery, while Katie, Connor, my dad, and I walked the length of the ridge. It was incredible. some of the monuments brought up more questions than answers, but all of them were beautiful in their own right.

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We ended the day with a visit to the Pennsylvania Memorial. It stands out in a field of exceptional monuments. It is the largest structure in the park outside of the Visitor Center and amazing to behold. It was the ultimate stopping point for our little trip.  As a reference, the statue at the top stands twenty-one feet tall, so you can imagine just how immense the structure is.

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Eric, Where Are You?

It has been quite some time since I have posted a blog entry, almost four weeks to be exact, and it has been quite some time since I’ve had this long of a break, so I thought I would give you a little update as to why I’ve been so silent as of late.

The week before Christmas I was suffering with a little pain in my left ankle. I figured I had sprained it or pulled something there in the back, so I adopted a limp and didn’t think too much about it.  On January 2nd, my wife and daughter left North Carolina to go to Arizona where they would see my mother-in-law (more on that in a minute). That night I sat and watched some movies with my boys, played some Warhammer 40K: Armageddon, and went to bed.  When I took my shoe off it hurt pretty badly. I expected that because I had gimped my way around the Charlotte airport for an hour and a half and I was a bit sore. When I looked at my foot it was swollen. Now I don’t mean it was a little puffy, I mean it was alien looking.  The next morning I went to urgent care.


The doctor took some x-rays and asked me a bunch of questions while waiting for them to develop.  Based on the questions she and the nurse were asking, I’m pretty sure they thought I had a bad case of gout. Oh how
I wish that were the case. When the doctor came back after looking at the X-Rays she said I had a huge calcium deposit on my Achilles Tendon, the biggest she had ever seen. They slapped me in an air-cast, gave me a set of crutches, and a prescription for Oxycodone.


The medication did not help, my foot remained swollen and I was dealing with the most physical pain I have ever suffered through. Thankfully my boys were able to help me out around the house, but I still had to work and I had a huge project to work on, so I could not let the crutches slow me down. After a week and some more medication, the swelling started to go down and now I can walk on my air-cast without the crutches. There is still a little swelling and there is plenty of pain when I overdo it or try to walk without the boot, but I am definitely on the road to recovery.

Now why was my wife in Arizona without me? Well my mother-in-law was diagnosed in November with stage five cancer. The cancer is so pervasive at this point that they are not even sure of its point of origin. My wife went down with my daughter for a visit and to say goodbye. We are not in a position to go to Arizona constantly or for my wife to take off work for the duration. The timing of the visit was excellent and my wife was able to get Phyllis situated in a group home with the help of hospice.

My wife has to bear the brunt of the work in taking care of her dying mother from across the country, so all I can do is hold her tight and try to take care of more here on the home front. My wife is a saint. She has spent countless hours on the phone arranging transportation, radiation appointments, and talking to her mother, who is confused, scared, and in pain. I only hope that if I am ever put to the test that I’ll prove to be as strong as her.

The third piece in this carnival of misery has to do with our pending purchase of a new home. Last month we put some money down on a home because we were told by the lender that we would qualify for USDA financing. Every step along the way has been delays, questions and paperwork to the point where our financing is in question. I’m confident that everything will work out, but this has been a torturous process. I spend more time scanning and emailing documents than I do just about anything else.

As you can see, my life has been a bit full as of late. Honestly, the pain from my Achilles tendon has been the most devastating to my writing. I didn’t think it would be an impediment to my writing, but it is insufferably hard to concentrate with so much discomfort. I’ve had a hard time getting used to it.

You Are The Love Of My Life

Happy Anniversary, Tracy.

Fourteen years ago today my beautiful wife, Tracy, married me at the Edgefield on the hottest day of the year. So much of that day is a blur, but I’ll never forget the site of her walking down the aisle. She was so beautiful in her wedding gown, but I would have taken her if she had come to stand beside me wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  On that day I was bonded to my soul mate, and it will always be one of the greatest days of my life.

Tracy, I know things have not always been easy with me, and I know that we have spent years toughing our way through loss and difficulties, but you have always been the high point in my life and at the end of it all, your love has carried me past the points where I would have broken. You are the mother of my children and I could not have asked for better.  With so many years behind us, I look forward to so many more years ahead and I count myself as blessed for having you as my wife. You are as beautiful today as you were the day we were married, and you shall always be the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary
At the Alter

A New Beginning

You may or may not have noticed the “Under Construction” sign on my home page this week. You might even look at my blog and see if you can find what has changed to warrant such a sign.

I can assure you, there is nothing cosmetic that has changed.

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice
© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday I received a letter from Getty Images stating that I had violated the copyright of an image they owned. I’m not above admitting that the letter, along with the settlement fee demands attached to the letter, sent me into a tailspin. My book sales don’t even cover the cost of my godaddy account or the hosting, much less could they pay for a whopper of a fine they threatened me with.  I say threatened because that is exactly what they did. “Pay XXX dollars or we will take you to court and you have to pay XXXX dollars instead.” I can’t afford a lawyer and I did not know I had used a copyrighted picture.  Most every picture I use comes from Photobucket, which I should be able to use for my blog.  I was so freaked out that at one point I was honestly considering giving up writing altogether.

I have since moved on from that.

Tracy and I did a lot of searching on the web and reading of articles and decided the best course is to deal with Getty Images rather than ignore them, because there may be a chance they do nothing, but if they did decide to take me to court the costs would be far too great.  I’m not blindly sending a check. I’m asking for proof and then I will negotiate from there.  In the meantime, I have taken down the offending picture and most other picture I think could be a risk.

Along with the pictures I took down all of the posts for the current 100 word challenge story line. My intention is to repost them, edited, and a chapter at a time. The first post should be in place by Monday.

In the meantime, I suggest you check your blog and your sources lest a corporate monster like Getty Images sends you a tersely worded letter as well.


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