Tag Archives: Dixon Ticonderoga

A Dixon Ticonderoga Adventure

Many great memories are attached to a Dixon Ticonderoga NO. 2 pencil. From my mom trying to make me a swell speller by writing words thousands of times to teaching hundreds of Space Camp staff how to give a presentation everyone likes. I have a lot of love for the world’s best pencil company. Last week, I had the honor of visiting the Dixon Ticonderoga National Museum and Fine Art Gallery in Lake Mary, Florida. It is a worthwhile trip for any educator, artist or pencil lover.

The museum and gallery are on the fifth floor of an office building in Lake Mary, Florida. To visit you must make an appointment. It is perfect for school groups local to the area. There is even an activity center for students to learn more about the amazing assortment of products the Dixon Ticonderoga brand has to offer. If you are interested in a tour, please follow this link for details.

I am very thankful to have a relationship with the corporate office of Dixon Ticonderoga through a few social media conversations with Donna Cochran. Ms. Cochran is the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Dixon Ticonderoga and the Curator of the museum and art gallery. She was so thoughtful to give me time from her day to show me the artifacts and original works of art on display for the guests of the museum.

My favorite story was about the restoration of their Norman Rockwell painting. Rockwell had been contracted to produce three works of art for the Dixon Ticonderoga company. All three of the paintings were stolen from an office in New Jersey City, NJ. Authorities did recover one of Rockwell’s works, “Grandfather & Grandson”, which has been fully restored and is on display at the art gallery. Some of their art work had been mishandled through the years. With the new gallery and museum, it can be preserved for many generations to enjoy.

The museum and gallery is currently two rooms in size, however I am sure this is just a start for the Dixon Ticonderoga museum. The artifacts on display are rich with history. Not just pencils and crayons, there are marketing graphics, company stock shares from the early years, links to many pop culture and industrial innovations. The story of the Dixon Ticonderoga is a story of our American history. A company which began when our country was just a fledgling nation can teach us many things about who we are as a country. I learned that Ford Motor company contracted with the company to make coil boxes for the Model T. These boxes were original made to sell crayons to students. Crayons even flew aboard STS-87. Amazing to think of all the places a Dixon Ticonderoga product has been.

“Not so fast my friend”! I finished my tour by visiting the back offices, which included former ESPN analyst and Dixon Ticonderoga spokesmen, Lee Corso’s office. Many people think it is just coincidence that Corso holds a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil when on College Game Day. But Mr. Corso has been affiliated with the company for years. Mr. Corso wasn’t in, but it was a treat to visit his office.

Dixon Ticonderoga really makes the best pencils and they have great people working for them. I am thankful for my mom making me use them and love them years ago! I am also thank for the time I spent with Donna Cochran and the artifacts of the Dixon Ticonderoga National Museum and Fine Art Gallary.

What Was I Thinking

What was I thinking while caught up in a moment of “Billy Bad Assisum”?  What was I thinking signing up for a FULL Ironman triathlon.  I guess I really thought I knew what I was doing.  I guess I thought… “that which does not kill you makes you stronger”!  I guess if I have come so far along this path, I can go just a little further.  The problem is that a full Ironman is twice as long as I have ever swam, ran or biked before.  Can I do this?  Am I strong enough?

Yes, I believe I can finish a full Ironman, but will it be within the time limit?  Yes, I feel like I can train enough to finish a full Ironman, but what will be the cost?  Yes, I feel like I can give what is needed to do all of those things and be the Vice Principal of Space Camp, but will that even be enough?  I am not Amazon.  I am not a freak of nature, physical specimen of what God ordained as a triathlete.  Heck, Amazon was a triathlete before she could even swim!  I am seriously in over my head.

Well, the next four months will tell me if I can swim 2.4 miles in the Tennessee River, if I can bike 112 miles through Tennessee and mostly north Georgia, and finish with a marathon through the streets of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Will I do it?  Will Dixon Ticonderoga still use graphite as the pencil core?  Will Aviation Challenge still be associated with the color green?  Well, I am only sure about one thing.  I am in over my head!

As Derek Jeter is my witness, my number one goal until the morning of September 29th after 140.6 miles is Chattanooga!  I don’t know Derek Jeter personally, but he dated Mariah Carey and he is a New York Yankee!  He can be my pinstriped patron saint of athletic endeavors!  Peyton can only be my boyfriend!

Turkey Blog 4.0

Do you know where you were a few days before Thanksgiving four years ago? Well, my answer to that question is, right here. I was sitting on this couch with my laptop computer creating my blog, GraphiteFree.  I haven’t been the most faithful companion to my blog. Life sometimes happens and it is less than eventful when you put it into print. This post is to help mark the anniversary and the Thanksgiving season.

The latest Facebook trend this month is to put what you are thankful for each day of November.  I didn’t discover this until a few days ago. I am less than observant at times. This is my futile attempt to be as cool as everyone who started on November 1st, listing what they are thankful for and desperately hoping to keep my blog relevant.

One – God:  I am very thank for our gracious Creator. Knowing that our God and Father is watching over us and loved us enough to save us is the most precious thing in our lives. This is what I am most thankful for.

Two – Family:  I have a wonderful family. Being home in Mississippi recharges my heart and soul. I love being on the farm near my family with my mom cooking in the kitchen and daddy in his chair. On top of that, I have a wonderful extended family in Madison County Alabama.

Three – Blinkers:  I love safety. I am the Be Ready Girl! Blinkers represent planning ahead… look for the safest route to your final goal… and not running into the driver next to you. Blinkers are important.

Four – Freedom:  Until the socialist take my freedom. I will be very thankful for this. Don’t believe everything you read. Thinking for yourself is the best way to experience freedom. The ability to pick and choose what you want to do on a daily basis is a glorious thing.

Five – Great Friends:  Throughout my life I have all ways been surrounded by wonderful people. Life is not much fun unless you have great friends to enjoy life with.

Six – Sports:  I am very thankful to be a fan of sports, a lover of ESPN Sports Center and a competitor in many sporting events. I love crying at sports movies and those touching “Inside the Lines” stories on Sunday mornings.

Seven – Bunnies:  This year, I was blessed by having a litter of rabbit kits. There were seven of the little guys. It was one of the coolest things ever! I now want to start a farm.

Eight – Health:  God has truly blessed me with great health. I can do all things I need to do. I have been given great endurance and I am seldom sick.

Nine – Ragnar:  On November 9th, a team of crazy friends and I ran from Chattanooga to Nashville. I am thankful for friends and for the ability run… I am still not fast, but I can run.

Ten – Soda Box Cookies:  These cookies are not made from some super secret recipe. These cookies however are the best ever conceived and my grandmother taught me how to make them. I miss my grandparents and are truly thankful to have some of the greatest to ever live.

Eleven – Electricity:  I could be one of those people who lives in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. However, electricity and technology has given us so much extra enjoyment in life. Without refrigeration our modern day Thanksgiving would not be possible.  It is great to type a blog and not use graphite to record all my ramblings.

Twelve – Cowbells:  No, Mississippi State is not known for its multiple national titles, but it is know for its cowbells. Mississippi State is a wonderful place with many happy memories attached to it. Hearing a cowbell ring gives me great joy! I am thankful for the Bulldogs and I hope they beat the University of Mississippi on Saturday.

Thirteen – Thanksgiving:  Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever conceived.  There is not a push to over commercialize it. People don’t get lost in shopping to help fuel our economy.  It is a day where we all pause and thank God for those things that are truly important in our lives.

Fourteen – Pencils:  The Dixon Ticonderoga is the quintessential American pencil.  It has been in my backpack, on my desk and behind my ear for many years. I love the pencil, because it does not expect me to be perfect like the pen does. The pencil is a non-judgmental companion that I am very thankful for.

Fifteen – Peanut Butter:  I was a picky eater growing up.  Some say I am still a picky eater.  However, if it wasn’t for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I might not have lived to see the age fifteen. Heck, I didn’t like pizza for a while. I feel sorry for all the poor souls who are allergic to peanut butter.

Sixteen – Golf:  Is there anything better than taking a club and beating the crap out of a small round object. To focus your energy on one single point in space and driving the ball beyond your own expectations is one of the best ways to release stress!

Seventeen – Math:  Seventeen is a prime number.  So is 37, which will be my age this time next year. No matter the number or age, I love math. I loved teaching math and doing math. I even like the new exhibit at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Math Alive.

Eighteen – Peyton Manning:  True, Peyton is not with the Colts anymore, but he is still my most favorite boy friend. But I am still very lucky to see my favorite Manning playing football this season! Thank you for Peyton’s health! Also, I am very happy Peyton attended Rocky Top and not Ole Piss.

Nineteen – Okra:  Delta State is a wonderful university found in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Knowing how quirky I am, you should know that I would go to school where they have a mascot like the Fighting Okra. I am an okra girl. The Statesmen is a dumb mascot!

Twenty – Salt:  What would we do without salt? It a multifunctional tool which I can not imagine a day without. It makes stuff taste better. It is used for many great Biblical analogies. And it is useful in making ice cream.

Twenty One – Antiperspirant:  Let me be honest with you all, I sweat more than most human beings do. If it were not for Degree antiperspirant I wouldn’t have friends and my Ragnar team mates would have kicked me out of the van after my first run. I am very thankful for the help I receive in the use of antiperspirant.

Twenty Two – Cotton:  I love being a farm kid. I love all the amazing memories I have either in the cotton field or the cotton gin. I loved having acres and acres to roam when growing up. I am very thankful for my farming family.

Twenty Three – Proof Readers:  I can’t spell or write very well without an army of people to help me. I need to have proof readers to make this blog thing a reality. It is fun connecting with people though my blog. I couldn’t do that without people to help me.

Twenty Four – Weddings:  This is going to seem like a crazy thing to be thankful for, but I am thankful for Anderson’s wedding last year. After the wedding my mom saw pictures of me on Facebook. She thought I was fat and told me I was fat. Later that fall she told me again after another wedding. I am thankful for this, because it was the kick in the pants I needed to get in shape!

Twenty Five – Running: I am thankful to be able to run, because it makes me not so fat. However, I wish I could be thankful for good genetics which makes me a good runner. But that is not the case, I am slow and thankful for the abilities I do have.

Twenty Six – Recruiting Staff:  Yes, I am very thankful for the efforts made to recruit new staff for Space Camp. But one of the most coolest things about staff recruitment, is staff training is not far behind. Did I mention, I have the coolest job in the world.

Twenty Seven – Baseball:  Since I was 20 months old I have been fascinated with the game of baseball. I have been to many professional, college and high school games. It doesn’t matter if it is a World Series or a little league game, I love the game of baseball. Get well soon Derek Jeter.

Twenty Eight – Gadgets:  I love knives, first aid supplies, tools and electronics. I like being ready for most anything that life could through at me. I am thankful that Lysol can kill 99.9% of germs. I am thankful for those who invented these things and the spirit of innovation.

Twenty Nine – Space Camp:  I am truly thankful for being able to work at a camp that operates year around.  Space Camp has wonderful staff. Everyday is a different day! I am thankful to work at the coolest place for space!

Thirty – Turkey:  I am a turkey for some of the things I have listed. But all in all, I have enjoyed this exercise. I will enjoy my time with my family around the Thanksgiving table. Thank you so much Mr. Butterball!

Yellow Pencils

“More than a writing and art products company Dixon Ticonderoga is a company that empowers people to take conscious and subliminal thoughts – facts, ideas and dreams – and preserve them using tools that are simply extensions of themselves.”

A few years back I started the sentimental ritual of buying school supplies each fall. It was just after I left teaching and started full time at Space Camp. I am defiantly better suited at Space Camp than in the classroom; however, I miss school supplies. As a teacher I had two pencil cups on my desk. One cup held pencils for public use. Those pencils could be used by students who were not prepared for class or just needed an extra pencil. These pencils were most often found on the floor after class. Chewed and gnarled by students these pencils had less than adequate writing cores. Then there were my pencils, a gleaming cup full of perfectly sharpened number two Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.  The pencil angels guarded these pencils from unappreciative students and their dirty little hands.

Once I started buying my favorite pencil the people of Space Camp started to notice the greatness of the Dixon Ticonderoga. After I stated using the pencil others followed and soon I had dozens of Dixon disciples. It was a writing utensil revolution. Adults who had never been exposed to a quality pencil wept with joy at the ease in writing. Men and women rushed to Staples to buy their own Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Ok, this is a bit of an over exaggeration. One thing is true, the greatness of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils was introduced to many employees at Space Camp.

This small writing sample is from Dixon Ticonderoga’s website. It is a marketing slogan that I picked up when I started used Dixon Ticonderoga pencils as props in The Presentation Everyone L.I.K.E.S. This presentation is used to teach new staff how to present educational topics as a Space Camp counselor. Joseph Dixon wanted to create a company that made a product that was the “best of its kind.” I want the counselor staff at Space Camp to be the best of their kind. This small quote on my cork board is one of many reminders I have in my office to show staff that I mean what I say. I am all in, committed to greatness, an over achiever in the pencils world, and dedicated to the education of the masses. If you are going to be a nerd about something, just step up your game and be a geek!

Greetings & Salutations!

Remember that pig? Wilbur was his name I think! To keep from going to the slaughter house his friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, spun a web with a word of the day on it! Need help with a larger vocabulary, ask Charlotte to help. Great thing about Wilbur and Charlotte, they had a farmyard full of critters to help.

I started this blog to improve my writing skills, but I have neglected GraphiteFree of late. It isn’t because I am just sitting at home each night looking for stuff to do. My life is pretty fast paced right now. I feel like I need a break similar to Ferris Bueller. I did drive Rhonda’s car into work on Monday, but I didn’t take the alias of Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago!

I wanted to check in to let everyone know that I am still alive. I am attempting to take classes online, work at my new job, and keep my dog and husband happy (whom I haven’t been able to spend much time with). I worked at the Barn the other day and some of my favorite Barn yard animals visited, Silk Dupioni strolled in on Sunday. She didn’t buy anything, but was very regal! Cameron Drape beat on the window just to say hi! Crazy lady, she didn’t even come in to return anything. I have missed the barn!

Life is crazy! I was addressed as “The Crazy Pencil Lady” by an Advanced Academy 12 day camper today. I am trying to keep my head above water. Really trying to focus on school and work so I can make it to Aug 12th, because on Aug 13th Punkin and I are flying to NYC for a vacation! I am not answering my phone or checking my email. It doesn’t matter who you are, I am focusing on 8.3 million people living in New York! I may ignore Facebook… nah that will not happen!

Terrific was another one of Charlotte’s words. I got to see a pig at camp, so life is all good and very terrific! Thanks, Pig!


In the past week, I have been referred to as a ninja twice. This seems somewhat odd and foreign to me since I don’t know martial arts, I am not of Asian decent, nor do I wear black pajamas to work. I felt I needed to dispel this myth. I am not a ninja; however, the more I thought about this odd title of ninja that people have used to describe me I started to believe it myself. Below, I have listed a few details to support my claim to the ninja title.

I wear khaki all the time. Currently I spend most of my day in the ETF building at Space Camp. It has khaki colored walls. There are many forms of camouflage. Black pajamas are the camouflage of choice for the ninja we are familiar with in pop culture. Ninjas use covert methods to wage war on their enemy. I have been described as stealthy in my ninja-like movement around camp. I seem to pop up in the most random places. This movement is only concealed by my khaki pants.

Fear does not exist in a ninja! When faced with a snake, red wasp, or grizzly bear around camp I do not give into fear. Ok, we may not have grizzlies at camp but we have skunks and nutria. Nutrias are similar to the R.O.U.S.’s or rodents of unusual sizes. I have captured a few nutrias in my time and fended off snakes. Just the other day, I snatched a red wasp from the arm pit of an AC counselor. This feat of bravery helped start the ninja myth.

Rather than samurai swords, I carry freshly sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Everyone knows that the pencil is mightier than the sword. When my ninja skills are weak, I carry two pencils with me. The #2 pencil is very powerful!

To conclude, these few examples are weak at best to support my claim as a ninja. I will need to face the facts that I am not a ninja. My khaki pants and Oakley sunglasses are not the uniform of a ninja. My quick reflexes around dangerous creatures are still not fast enough to make me a ninja. Finally, has anyone ever seen a pasty, red headed, Anglo-Saxon ninja? So truly, I am not a ninja!

No. 2 Pencils

This is the Dixon Ticonderoga, no. 2 pencil, the best and most recognizable pencil in the world! Made by the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company in 1913 and named for the historical military post during the American Revolution, Fort Ticonderoga. Over a half billion of my favorite pencils are produced each year, this blog will tell you a little bit about the inventor Joseph Dixon, the man who started JDCC, the heritage of the Dixon company, and what makes a no. 2 pencil so special.

Joseph Dixon was born in 1799 in Massachusetts; he was the son and grandson of naval captains. As a boy, Dixon was intrigued with fireworks and rockets. He tried making improvements to his father’s ships. As a young inventor he made innovations to the camera, steam engine, and patented a method of printing money to prevent counterfeiting. He started working with graphite refining and became fully dedicated to making the best pencils in the world. He is associated with some the great American inventors like Robert Fulton, Samuel Morse, and Alexander Graham Bell. Dixon would realize his dream and produce the first wood and graphite pencil in the United States.

The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company (JDCC) would make improvements in graphite products such as stove polish, and additives in lubricants and paints, but it would see the most success in the their production of pencils. During the American Civil war the demand for a portable writing instrument led to the mass production of the Dixon brand of pencils. By 1872 the Dixon company was the largest producer of graphite products in the world and making over 86,000 pencils each day. During the late 1800s JDCC would have a factory in New Jersey, cedar mills in Florida, graphite mines in the U.S. and importing graphite from Madagascar.

In 1913, the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company would introduce their marquee product, the Dixon Ticonderoga no. 2 pencil. It was the first pencil designed solely for educational use. The Dixon company would use images of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in their advertising. This imagery would link a great American product with the great American spirit. Marketing was very important to Dixon company. In 1929, Dixon would be the first company to obtain a license from Disney to use images of Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters on the pencils and products. Through several mergers JDCC would become the leading manufacture of school products in the world. In 1983 after a merger with Bryn Mawr Corporation the company would change its name to the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, in honor of their leading product line.

So why is a no. 2 pencil so special? A pencil’s writing core is made from graphite and clay. The more graphite in a pencil core, the softer the grade and darker the markings will be. The more clay in a pencil core, the harder the grade and lighter the markings will be. In the United States we use a number to indicate the degree of hardness or softness of the pencil, for example the no. 2 pencil is a soft/hard black. It is soft enough to make writing easy but the marking is still dark. Everyone knows that no. 2 pencils are used for standardized testing. The markings of a no. 2 pencil are dark enough for the computer sensors to read the scoring sheets and hard enough keep its point for an extended time. While known for their no. 2 pencils, Dixon Ticonderoga also produces pencils in four additional degrees of hardness.

Joseph Dixon was hoping to make the best pencil of its kind, and in my humble opinion the Dixon Ticonderoga no. 2 pencil is the best. I use the Dixon Ticonderoga each and every day. I have hundreds of different shapes and colors of the best pencil in the world. I use them so much that most of the time you will find me with one or two pencils behind my ear/ears. And each day, I hope to live my life in the same fashion as Joseph Dixon made his pencils… The best of its kind!

I Am a Nerd

I am a nerd! For those who have questioned that fact and all those who have urged me to be honest with myself, I am a nerd. I am such a nerd that a few years back I started teaching a briefing about presentation skills in which I used the Dixon Ticonderoga as my instructional tool. My briefing has been so successful that people remember me for my love of Dixon Ticonderogas. Once while I was getting my hair washed at the salon, a girl asked where I worked and if I was the pencil lady. Indeed I am the pencil lady!

What came first the pencil or the journal? The answer is of course the pencil. I love my Moleskine journal but the Dixon Ticonderoga is truly the “Best of Its Kind!” My Moleskine would go digital in the fall of 2008, with graphitefree.com. Why GraphiteFree? Simple, there isn’t any graphite involved in the production of this online journal. I still have my Moleskine and I still have my pencils, but today I received the greatest birthday gift a nerd could ever receive.

See my love of writing, journaling, blogging, or dyslexic rambling is now permanently affixed to, I think, thousands of pencils. The AC gang, Slip Knot, Snapper, Divot, Tank, Biscuit, and even Nemo (the newbie) gave me a box full of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils stamped with www.graphitefree.com. Wow! I am a nerd! But I am a nerd with really awesome friends!

Thank you guys!

Welcome to 2010

Survival TrainingI started this grand and glorious year with my brother and nephews at Pilot/Co-Pilot camp, a program of Aviation Challenge. It was so much fun! Whoever runs that place is a redheaded mastermind of fun! It was great hanging out with my family at AC for the weekend! It didn’t matter that Reece, call sign Pigskin, looked like a homeless Vietnam War vet. God love the little man, but he doesn’t care how he looks. Rhett, call sign Yankee, was concerned with shooting Alvin down. We all wanted to seek revenge on someone. We are a very competitive family! Shot down everyone in the sims and won the Flag Award. We had our fire built before Cornbread came back to the Boy Scout Area with matches.

Great weekend. I think Walt and I will be remembered as the college football people (Ole Miss and Florida played in Bowl games), because everyone knows I have to keep up with Urban Meyer and his boy! Ole Miss, I was hoping, would get wrangled by the OSU Cowboys. Great weekend only leads me to believe this will be a great year!

I am looking forward to training the newbies, presenting at SEEC and Honeywell Leadership Academy, the Star Wars exhibit, another AC 12 Day camp, and who knows, maybe another trip to Prescott for Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale and a PBC Wedge, or maybe, just maybe a winning season for MSU football! This year I started a really cool five year journal. Every day for five years I will add a paragraph about the day. Quick thoughts, maybe the quote of the day or something like that. Sounds like fun!

With the new journal, I am going to make a few changes this New Year. And they are as follows:

  1. Wear more pink, “Pink is my signature color!”
  2. Watch more reality TV. I want to create a new show, “Real Housewives of the Barn.”
  3. Be more huggie! Being affectionate is the true sign of a great leader!
  4. Stop using Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Truly, you can’t tell a difference in Dixons and the Staple’s brand.
  5. Finally, break up with Peyton; I think I am more interested in younger men now. Tim Tebow is a hottie!

Good luck and God Bless in 2010!

Blogging for Blog Sake

Lots of GraphiteLast year on November 27th I posted my first blog on Blogger, and I have enjoyed every minute of the adventure. I am not blogging to make money, market a product, give cooking tips, or improve your golf game. I am not a mommy blogger or topical blogger. I am blogging to improve my writing skills. Yes, you read that correctly, I am blogging just for the heck of it. I am not hoping to get a book deal or have fifty-two minutes of fame. I am simply doing it to grow as a person and as a writer.

Growing up I struggled with the English language, and yes, being from the south there is a wise crack there somewhere. I couldn’t spell, didn’t know how to diagram a sentence, nor could I tell you the difference between a preposition and a participle. Despite my struggles I graduated high school and college. In fifth grade I was evaluated for a learning disability. My parents and I learned that I don’t decode words the same way most people do. I see the shape and my brain breaks words down like it would art or a geometry problem. I see shapes not sounds. The examiner told me that a typewriter was in my future. Wow, he couldn’t tell the future but was close, because I got a laptop!

My freshman year at Delta State I had one of the toughest English composition professors, Dr. Sarcone. I was scared to death of her. She kicked my butt, however I didn’t give up. She would tear my papers to shreds and then stomp on them. If only she had used a Dixon Ticonderoga correction pencil I could have found some positive in the class. There was one paper I wrote about living in a small town that she liked. As shocking as that was, I still couldn’t spell and I didn’t read so well, but this small bit of encouragement fueled me not to give up on school.

I sometimes feel like my blog is very “me” centered, like I want to draw attention to myself. This is not my intention, but I do want feedback. I want people to tell me if I have typos or misspelled words in a blog. I would like to know if I make sense to the general public. Looking back on my year of blogging I asked people on Facebook what their favorite blogs were. Facebook is where most people read my digital ramblings. There was no clear cut best blog and it seemed like all I was doing was drawing more attention to myself and butchering the English language. I have narrowed the list down to ten of my favorite blogs. Before I give you my top ten blogs, here are a few fast facts about my year in blogging…

  • I have written 83 blogs. Combine them all together, they account for more writing than I did in all four years of college at Delta State.  Sad, but true.
  • I started blogging on Google’s Blogger, but recently I have switched to WordPress.org using a personal server. I have some regrets to the switch, but the editing flexibility is worth it.
  • I have divided my blogs into seven categories and my favorite category to write about is the Barn. I get to use more creative license with Barn blogs than any other.
  • Facebook pushed more people to my site than any other referral site, almost as much as direct links to graphitefree.com. If you are considering blogging, make sure you have a great network of friends on Facebook.

After those few facts, I am sure you will not be interested in my best blogs to date; however, I will tell you anyhow. You can stop reading; we do still live in a free country! In no particular order here is a few of my favorite ramblings.

Boo in Sleeping BagHouse Guest: I loved writing this sentimental blog, but I knew that I was hooked on my new hobby of blogging when in the middle of the night Salem the cat used me as a pillow. I thought to myself, “This would make a great blog”. I was addicted and I didn’t even know it at the time.

Plumber App: Plumber App was a great way for me to poke fun at my awkwardly ironic life. It was short and to the point, but funny. And it was fun to write.

Barn Gone Wild: I enjoy writing Barn blogs more than any other topic. I started writing my twist on my retail experience in June. I have to be creative with my Barn banter to help protect the identity of those who shop and work at the Barn. And those who know what I am talking about seem to think it is funny stuff.

Dead Bird: This blog give a great description of why my job is one of the coolest jobs on earth. I can walk down a sidewalk, get distracted and meet a moonwalker. Or I can hang out with space shuttle commanders at Otters giving a new meaning to ATO!

Raptor (1997)Piggly Wiggly Flu: A very deep topic, I almost didn’t post it because it may be too heavy for readers, especially on Facebook. I was wrong. A lot of people enjoyed it and was pleased that I wrote it. Keep washing those hands and taking vitamin C!

Ode to the Raptor: I write about camp, a lot! Since I was young all I ever wanted to do was work at a summer camp. From Camp Garaywa, to CRS, and now at Aviation Challenge I love the dynamic educational environment around camps. This blog represents the best in the camp spirit. I love my AC family and that includes the Raptor.

A Jack Daniels Still Bourbon Trail Blogs: I love my adventure blogs, because my first journal was a travel journal. Lookin’ for Adventure, Joe and Jim, Who is Elmer T. Lee? and White Dog were the blogs I wrote while on my Kentucky adventure. I can’t just pick one because I like them all. While I was gone I realize that if I don’t make it with my real job or working at the Barn, I could write for travel magazine.

Benefits to Jack Daniels: Chris made a contact with his current employer while sharing a meal with strangers at Miss Mary Bobo’s in Lynchburg, Tennessee. His move from PwC to Booz Allen Hamilton has forced us to be married… first time in five year of marriage.

Good Okra Hunting: I love my college. Sharing my love for Delta State and the Mississippi Delta is so enjoyable to me. I wrote this blog after a recruiting trip to DSU with Amazon. I got to find new places to eat and catch up with a few professors and friends.

I Think I May Lose My Job: My blog is about my random rambling about my life. When Bill Belichick went for it on fourth down against the Colts I knew I wouldn’t get much done at work the next day. I love Peyton Manning and I love went Boston teams loose!

Rainbow Cupcakes

My place card at the dinner tableSome of my favorite memories have been standing around the chop block in my mother’s kitchen. This was the case this morning and this afternoon as we prepped for our large Thanksgiving Day spread. Last night as I helped my mom prep the turkey on the chop block for its overnight stay in the oven, I realized how lucky I was to be born in a family that knew how to cook. I remember standing on a stool in my Gran’s kitchen learning how to bake cookies. Each batch of her soda box cookies we made was precious and dear to me. Cooking is just as special to me as eating on Thanksgiving Day. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Thanksgiving.

Today I woke up excited about helping cook the 2009 edition of Big Mama’s Thanksgiving meal. We have basically had the same menu for years. Oven roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, five-cup salad, sweet corn from our farm, asparagus casserole, green beans, giblet gravy, and cranberry sauce from a can. Mom has thrown in a few things to keep us guessing like broccoli salad, mac-n-cheese (the real stuff), mashed potatoes and fruit salad. I must mention the saga of the rolls. My dad loves brown-n-serve. I love the ready to eat rolls that come in a tin pan. But my mom loves to make home made yeast rolls. She seems to always win out.

This year as I was setting the table and the Little Indians were fighting over who could help. I devised a plan to split the warring tribes. Reece would make place cards for the table while Rhett helped me set the table. I knew working at the Barn would pay off. I would have never thought of this plan if not for the dozens of tablescapes I have worked on at the Barn. Everyone helps with lunch, even little Lucy helps by taking drink orders. She wrote each drink order on a note card with a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. I trained her well.

The Cupcake PrincessThis afternoon I had to play “babies” with Lucy. Strange thing is, I didn’t know how to play “babies.” Growing up I played football, cowboys and Indians, or army with my brothers and cousins. This concept of playing with dolls was new to me. I didn’t know how to feed the baby, change the baby, or burp the baby. Come on, it has a plastic head with a cotton body and synthetic stuffing. You can feed it, change it, or burp it! The only thing worse about this playing “babies” is my brother put Lucy up to asking for a cousin for Christmas. Unfortunately I think she will be disappointed, because that isn’t on our Christmas list.

This afternoon it all seemed to come full circle. Lucy was left with me while everyone else went hunting. She wanted to make cup cakes with multicolored icing. She was standing on a stool helping me bake. Sure it wasn’t some family recipe or traditional holiday treat. It was more like we were playing in the kitchen than cooking. I learned that Lucy loves cake batter and icing. After putting the cupcakes in to bake we added food coloring to the frosting. Lucy had to sample the blue, the pink, the green, and the orange icing to see which one tasted better. As we were baking Chris was in the woods hunting.

Pumkin and BuckHe has taken on the sport in recent years. He loves growing his beard out, wearing his hunting clothes, and spending time in search of the great white tail buck! This morning he woke up and hit the dear stand before day break. This afternoon he tried his luck again. He is such a technology driven hunter. Last year he played with Blackberry more than he shot his gun. I text messaged him to see if he took a shot. He informed me that he shot at a six point. It wasn’t until I saw the bearded wonder outside with his not six point, but eight point buck I had confirmation of the kill.

We have a lot to be thankful for, cooking, cupcakes, and trophy bucks. I look forward to the Iron Bowl tomorrow, finding a taxidermist, and the Egg Bowl on Saturday!

AC Birthday Bonanza

Funfetti Cake... Dixons! Today was my birthday! Someone told me it was a special day. I replied with “I am too old for a special day”.  Reluctantly, today has been a very special day. From birthday greetings on Facebook, to the delivery of the F-16 engine at Aviation Challenge, it was a spectacular day! Today would have a been a great day if all I did was hang out on the right wing of Story Musgrave’s T-38 while Snapper and Slip Knot taped the plane. Today would have been great if I had only hung out with Tank and Divot as the engine was lifted off the 18-wheeler. But I got to hang out with all my friends.

My birthday started with a text message to my friend and delta twin Emily Erwin. Emily and I graduated from Delta State together a really long time ago. One spring afternoon, way back in 1996, on a golf course with Ricky Jones we discovered that we shared a birthday. Emily has always been one of my favorite people. Knowing that I share my birthday with the coolest, curly haired chick in the Mississippi Delta is special… Special day confirmed! She pointed out that year 33 should be known as the Year of Boo. Not my dog, but Boo Ferris the former Boston Red Sox pitcher and Delta resident! Emily is the curator of the Boo Ferris museum.

F-16 Engine... Pratt Whittney Perfection!This morning I arrived at camp, and the fact that I work at a camp is pretty special all by it’s self. Breakfast was chicken biscuits in the chilly rail car. All was great I thought, I thought that the plane would be painted before lunch, but I was wrong. Unexpectedly a super secret terrorist organization kidnapped all of the AC management team but me and I had to rush to their rescue. Not really, but that was the scenario I was given. I rushed to the freshly painted Hab3 showers, climbed the Pamper pole, raced to the Davidson Center, right justified, and then toward A Time for Courage. All made sense when I finally made it to the Corporate Classroom, not the Board room, and found all my fellow buds along side a funfetti cake and power point projection.

Slip Knot was the pastry chef this year! She made three cakes, two Dixon Ticonderoga pencil cakes and a chocolate checker board cake for Marcia who doesn’t like funfetti. Marcia didn’t know that funfetti was the official cake of Aviation Challenge! The gang had tried surprising me with a website for my blog. I had forgotten to tell them that graphitefree.com was already my domain name, so that wasn’t an option. They did give me number 2 Dixon Ticonderogas with graphitefree.com stamped on them. I am very excited!!!

T-38 Table!!!Shortly there after, we got a call for the recruiting goddess, Charity N. Stewart, about the F-16 engine making a legal U-turn in front of HR and headed to Aviation Challenge. But the day wasn’t over after the F-16 engine was put into place. I got to help (in a small way) put the stripes on the T-38. Discussing the future paint scheme of the YAV-8B Harrier was another highlight to an already special day. The Harrier will be a great paint testament to all those who love Aviation Challenge. It will show what pride, professionalism, and leadership truly is to all the campers and staff in the next generation of AC. I love my life at AC! I love eating lunch on the wing of the T-38! I love seeing things improve throughout the years. I love funfetti and all the other official AC brands!