Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Friday, December 31, 2004

The Neighbors Have Been Notified & The Bucket Brigade is on Standby. Happy New Year! Posted by Hello

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

My little girl gave to me...

the bill for prescription glasses with protective lenses

Monday, December 27, 2004

Monday Mutt Shot Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 26, 2004

An Icy Christmas Posted by Hello

We've had phone (outgoing long-distance is nonexistent) & cable troubles. Aren't those lines underground to prevent such annoyances?

Fortunately, no power loss in the humble home, so we are warm and safe.

It wasn't exactly the riding lawn mower I asked for, Santa,  Posted by Hello

But it sure has been fun Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Kid, what are you covered in? And why? Posted by Hello

It's just mud. We, um, kind of bogged the golf cart down. But we got it out! Posted by Hello

Kid, please, no more muddin' in the golf cart. Posted by Hello

We'll repair the neighbor's lawn in the morning. Posted by Hello

Friday, December 24, 2004

I was a chillin at the crib (check dat bling, y'all) Posted by Hello

When a bearded brother dropped by Posted by Hello

He had done brought a new ride Posted by Hello

When the homies came over, she gave em each a ride Posted by Hello

She always gone be my boo, ya'll Posted by Hello


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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Espionage Diverted

Posted by Hello

Voice mail revealed that one of the neighborhood kids witnessed delivery of THE GREAT BIG GIFT while we were out today.

I see a lump of coal and a bundle of switches in that kid's Christmas future ;-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Prodigal Parent

called today, professing the error of his ways.

Could it be that thousands of dollars in medical bills not covered by insurance and the threat of enforcing a 10-year-old court order influenced such a change of heart?

Could it be that another Christmas Miracle is in the making?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

"They were heroes when they left. There are a lot more out there"

Indeed there are...

And tonight, while I, and many others fear the very worst,

our pride has not faltered.

(credit for the link to San & my Mom)


A White Christmas?

MANNING — Although the temperatures in the tri-county area are expected to be back to normal today, a cold front this weekend offers the possibility of a white Christmas.

"Temperatures (today) should be back to normal in the mid-50 range with high temperatures on Wednesday in the mid-60s and highs on Thursday in the lower 60s," said Tina Morrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia. "But a front coming through Thursday will bring cooler temperatures for Friday night and Christmas Day. There's also a 30 percent chance of precipitation Friday night and Saturday.

"With a low expected in the mid-20s Friday night and a high on Christmas Day of around 40 degrees, Morrison said the tri-county area might see some frozen precipitation.

I bought milk today...just in case ;-)

On the Third Day of Christmas

My little girl gave to me...

an orthodontic payment plan.

The teeth that have never been invaded by a cavity suffer from a cross-bite which endangers their precious enamel.

The dental work begins on the 28th.

The reason for my Christmas Miracle, I suppose.

Monday, December 20, 2004

My Christmas Miracle

The kid and I received the most wonderful, unexpected gift moments ago.

Tears of joy and gratitude have been abundant in the humble house.

Mere thanks seem inadequate.

Monday Mutt Shot Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Big Prayers for Little Abby

Abigail Grace, born December 17, 2004, 2lbs., 7 oz. Posted by Hello

Little Abby just couldn't wait any longer. She and her Mom are under the care and supervision of a wonderful medical team specializing in pre-term births, and remain in our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

News from Florida...

We have adopted a sweet little girl!


I didn't even tell you we were considering it. But we have increased our family by one.

I know, people have already told us that we're crazy for having another when we already have three, but we can't help it. It feels right.

Darren and I have been thinking about adopting for a little while now. We have been weighing the pros & cons, and talking to the kids about it... They're all for it, but I think all they can see is "new baby" but not all the responsibility and work that could be involved.

Anyway, we made our decision today. We had the opportunity to bring home a 6 month old little girl, and we're all head over heels in love. Here's a shocker, though - she's black. But love knows no color - she needed a family. She's asleep on the couch with Darren right now. It's cute. Attached is a picture from earlier tonight.

Her name is Joy... the kids thought it appropriate since it's Christmas.


Joy Posted by Hello

Friday, December 17, 2004

Opening Night...Jingle With the Arts 2004

Posted by Hello

Many thanks to Miss Elaine and Kara for helping the kid prepare and for making it to the performance; to Sgt. Hodge, Miss San, Grandma, Aunt Claire, Margie & Henry for taking the journey just to be there; and last, but certainly not least, to Margie for being the official photographer of the evening.

The kid will always remember her first standing ovation, and she'll always remember that you were there!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


If my child needed me, nothing else would matter...not the job, not the mortgage, not the car payment...

Clyde and Renette Ross boarded a flight to Germany last month, to be with their son, Camp, who was critically injured in Iraq. They remain with him.

Think of the Ross family and give what you can, even if it's just a prayer or a word of encouragement.

Florence Marine awarded Purple Heart by President Bush
Morning News

A Florence Marine who was seriously injured in the Fallujah attack last month in Iraq was awarded the Purple Heart by President George W. Bush at Bethesda (Md.) Naval Hospital.
Bush personally presented the award to Wesley “Camp” Ross, 20, during a visit to the hospital Saturday, Ross’ sister, Lea Freeman, said. She said he also presented the award to several other Marines at Bethesda.

Freeman and her parents, Clyde and Renette Ross, witnessed the presentation.

“President Bush pinned it on him and shook Camp’s hand,” she said. “He gave him a presidential coin and said he was very proud of him. Camp was beaming from ear to ear. It was a very moving experience.”

Freeman said Bush thanked her brother for being a Marine and for all he was doing for his country. White House photographers also took pictures of Ross and the president.

“President Bush thanked us, looking each one of us straight in the eye the whole time he talked,” Freeman said. “He’s a very gentle, impressive and personable man. And he’s a lot taller than he looks on television.” Freeman said she told the president many people were praying for him to be re-elected.

Ross was seriously injured when a missile-type device hit the amphibious assault vehicle he was assigned to. The vehicle was taking troops into Fallujah. Shrapnel hit Ross, the crew chief, in the head, back and shoulder.

Freeman, a nurse, said her brother is making remarkable improvement and is off the ventilator. He still has the trachea tube in his throat, but has learned to speak around it.

“He responds verbally and nonverbally and answers things appropriately,” she said. “He has most of his long- and short-term memory. He is walking a little bit with a physical therapist, but still requires total care.”

Plans call for Ross to be transferred to a hospital in Richmond, Va., to receive specialized physical therapy and neurological rehabilitation, Freeman said. She said it’s supposed to be one of the top traumatic brain injury and rehabilitation centers in the country.

“Camp is cognitively aware of what is going on,” Freeman said. “But he gets very frustrated at not being able to get out what he wants to say.”

Freeman said she wanted to thank Hoffmeyer Road Baptist Church, the Marine Corps, all the prayer chains, community outreach personnel and readers of the Morning News for their concern.

“Camp has received bundles and bundles of mail,” she said. “The outpouring of care has been unbelievable. We are truly thankful. My parents are still by his side.”


Cards and letters can be sent to Lance Cpl. Wesley “Camp” Ross, c/o Marine Corps Liaison Office, Bethesda Naval Hospital, 8901 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20889.

A fund has been set up at Hoffmeyer Road Baptist Church to assist Ross’ parents, Clyde and Renette Ross, while they are staying with their son. The mailing address is Hoffmeyer Road Baptist Church, P.O. Box 3905, Florence, SC 29502. Checks should be made out to the Camp Ross Fund.

The Julian D. Dusenbury Detachment of the Marine Corps League also has established a fund.Contributions can be sent to: Commandant Clifford W. Gade, Marine Corps League, 601 McKeithan Road, Florence, SC 29501-8811.Freeman said Bush thanked her brother for being a Marine and for all he was doing for his country. White House photographers also took pictures of Ross and the president.

The Christmas Wish

With the help of Bubba & Tishie, I was able to finalize details for delivery of THE GREAT BIG CHRISTMAS GIFT today.

The kid has swallowed the pill of disappointment, convinced her wish will not be fulfilled, and is making last-minute substitute gift requests.

How I've managed to keep my mouth closed is a mystery.

She will have a wonderful Christmas. Momma, Daddy, Thank You. I couldn't have done it without you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Shameless Plug

Jingle celebrates 10th
Perennial favorite Christmas show set for weekend

By IVY MOORE Item Features Editor

‘If you’re not in the Christmas spirit when you get here, you will be before you leave.” That’s the perennial promise of Andrea Freed-Levenson, director of the Sumter Civic Dance Company, who’s also directing Jingle with the Arts for the 10th consecutive Christmas season. The program will be presented Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. at Patriot Hall.

“I only wanted to do it that one year,” Freed-Levenson said, “but I have more fun doing this than anything else all year, and people keep asking about it. Sometimes when people come in to get a ticket, I ask them if they’ve ever seen it. A lot of them say they’ve seen it every year. Jingle is fun to do because people like it so much.”

Jingle with the Arts, sponsored by the Sumter Civic Dance Company, brings together the company, the Sumter High School Show Choir directed by Eric Wilkinson and more than 100 local children who auditioned for special parts in a Rockettes-style entertainment that combines song, dance and elements of theater.

While she’s bringing back many of the favorites, like the soldiers and reindeer, Freed-Levenson has added some new elements, with scenery from professional designers in Las Vegas and Chicago.

“The first scene, our ‘gifts scene’, will feature special clothing from the Gap and Hip Hop clothes,” she said. “The scene is about things you can get as Christmas gifts. We’ll also have some swing dancing and a new Riverdance number. People always want to see that.

“David Shoemaker designed our opening set,” Freed-Levenson said. “He’s our technical director — he’s everything!”

Freed-Levenson choreographed the entire show, “except for the Hip Hop piece. Erin Levenson did that one,” she said.

The Nativity scene will be danced to the song “You Pick Me Up,” sung by Josh Groban, Freed-Levenson said. “It’s a beautiful piece.”

Soloist Garry Ball from the SHS Show Choir, will sing “Word of God, Speak” and the dance solo choreographed to accompany his song will be performed on alternating nights by Andrea Barras and Erin Levenson.

Wilkinson, director of choirs at Sumter High School, will also be the accompanist for the Show Choir. Fran Glaze is the 26-member group’s choreographer.

“We’ve been collaborating with the Sumter Civic (Dance Company) since the beginning of Jingle 10 years ago,” Wilkinson said. “We perform both with the dancers and on our own. It’s truly a total collaboration, especially in the final scene.”

Before that, there’s a special piece “that highlights one of the ladies who often gets overlooked during the season,” Wilkinson said, “so watch for Mrs. Claus. It’s a real treat.”

He explained that the final scene, the Nativity, “sets the tone for the holiday.”

Jingle with the Arts will be presented at Patriot Hall on Haynsworth Street on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. They are available at Freed School of Performing Arts, SEACO Music and from members of the Sumter Civic Dance Company and the Sumter High School Show Choir. For more information, call 803-773-2847.

Monday Mutt Shot...Is Supper Ready, Yet? Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Secrets of a Successful Southern Party...a Pig in the Pit Posted by Hello