Monday, July 31, 2006

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# 12

Berg had to admit the negative Sarah showed him looked flawless. He was ready to see a print of it.

“Sarah, do you have to take it home to your darkroom to print it?”

“Actually no Berg, that’s where the old methods stop and new technology takes over.” With that said Sarah pulled a backpack from the wagon and told Berg to follow her.

They were headed towards the park’s ranger station.

“I want to borrow a desk and some electricity. Then I can show you what I’ve been talking about”

“ Well Miss Sarah Lee, I can hardly wait to see this.

Inside the station Sarah and Berg saw Mary. Mary was a junior ranger who served as Peter’s assistant.

“Mary, Peter said I could borrow a desk and some juice for this thing.”

“Peter isn’t here; he’ll be gone for an hour or so but he’ll be back for the evening battle and fireworks. Why don’t you use his office?”

“Works for me, Mary”

“Oh, Mr. Sandberg I heard about what you did at the Waffle House and I wanted to tell you that was so brave”

“Or stupid” Sarah remarked as she went into Peter’s office.

“It’s something like what our government trained me to do. It really wasn’t that much.”

“Still that took balls. I’ll bet you’ve got a real set on you!”

Berg blushed. It was so unexpected coming from Mary who looked so young but apparently was more experienced than Berg first thought.

“Berg, You coming?”

Berg walked into Peter’s office and saw Sarah already had her laptop out and a small flatbed scanner connected. As berg sat down in front of the desk, Sarah produced a bright hand-held light.

“What are you gonna do with that?”
“Watch Berg and learn. I’m going to scan the negative into my computer with this light. Done, now I can open it in my Photo Shop program and do any necessary work it might need.”

“Isn’t that kinda cheating.”

“Oh berg, it’s the negative made the old way that makes the picture. I’d be in the darkroom for a solid week if I did it that way and I’d never mare any money at it.”

“Look for yourself.”

Berg walked around the desk to view the image. Sarah had added a sepia-tone effect and what Berg saw was an photograph that looked like it was taken a almost hundred and fifty years ago and perfectly preserved.

“Damn, that’s good!” Sarah smiled.

“Of course it is. You were expecting anything less? I’ll develop the rest and print them when I get back home”

“I guess that ole wooden shoe box camera is pretty good after all.”

“As good or better than those plastic toys hanging around your neck.”

“Hey, there not plastic! They’ve got titanium bodies and are top of the line.”

“That one maybe but not this battered one here. Hell, I only saw you take one shot with it” Sarah was pointing to the old beat -up digital Canon Rebel.

“That shot was for Billy. The Rebel belonged to him. He was a friend of mine who was killed by an IED in Iran. I had borrowed the week before and he was coming to pick it up.”

“You mean an improvised explosive device – a roadside bomb.”

“Yes, it became our worst fear over there. They’re hard to detect and those bastards plant them by the hundreds.” Berg took the camera from around his neck and closed his eyes and could see Billy’s torn and twisted body lying beside the burning humvee knowing his friend died coming to see him.

“It was Billy who got me interested in photography and all the digital stuff. Sarah, you might say that camera is the reason I am where I’m at today.”

“So that’s why you’re here today as a photographer.”

“Why I’m now a photographer, yes. Why I’m here now, No. That’s of my own doing.”

Berg thought I’ve gong this far I might as well tell her the rest of the story about the camera and how it played into his retirement from the Army.

William Roberts III - Billy was from Arkansas. His family owned a farm there and he loved that place but he wasn’t a farmer. He dreamed of being a pilot and flying a jet fighter. Billy’s lanky six foot four inch frame changed his plans. To big for fighters or other warbirds he became a supply pilot.

“I met Billy on an R and R in Germany and we became friends. That’s when he showed me about how to use this camera. A few months after that Billy came to visit while his cargo was being off loaded and showed me some photos he took while he was home. It was the usual stuff but the one of his dad standing in a hog pen on the family farm caught my eye.

I had used his camera to take some shots of a safe house that had been hit by a 500 lb. LGM. One of the bad guys had been decapitated and his head was photographed for an ID.

I told Billy what I wanted to do and he said it’d be a snap. He put the head of the terrorist on his dad’s body. Now I had a photo of a dead high level terrorist standing there in the middle of a pigpen surrounded by about fifty pigs.

All I had to do is show this picture to those who weren’t showing the right amount of cooperation and threaten them with the same fate. I always got my answers after that.

Some Bozo news guy caught wind about it and concluded my torture of POW’s needed to be investigated. The Army didn’t give a shit how I got my Information but with other mounting scandals retired me.

So Sarah, that’s how I come to be here”.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

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Fishing at Cape Hatteras,NC - Happier Days

This is just an update on things. Guess what, after three calls still no test results or word from Emory. I feel they must be holding not so good results for me.

Much else is the same for us. Nothing really new for Sue and me. She is out of town for the next couple of days with business.

Miss Kitty

Our baby, Miss Kitty (almost twenty now) is sick and I have to take her to the vet so she can look at her. Miss Kitty hates going there and it breaks my heart to have to take her. Hopefully she will not have to stay overnight. She will get turkey rewards when she gets home.

P.S. Thats a legal size flounder there 16 inches and it was great lightly pan fried. : )

Our Baby

Saturday, July 22, 2006

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# 11

Sarah Lee refused the offer from Sandberg to carry her camera. She had never allowed anyone to touch that camera. It wasn't because the camera was especially valuable. It probably had no value to anyone but her; still it was priceless to Sarah. You see that plain old wooden box camera had been built lovingly by her father. She could remember as a teenager watching him work on the camera.

Sarah's father was a photographer, not a woodworker, so it lacked the finesse of a cabinetmaker. The wood was scavenged from an antique table, so the pieces didn't match perfectly. In order to focus, the lens assembly slipped in an out like a spyglass. The lens was very old and from France. The shutter was a simple thing with only two speeds, I and B. I was for instant most likely about a 40th of a second. The B just opened the shutter and held it open until the photographer released the switch. Sarah's only repair had been to replace the squeeze bulb which tripped the shutter.

To control the light the front element of the lens could be removed. There were five disks with various size holes that could be inserted behind the front element. These fixed apertures were chosen for the amount of light that day. Sarah had a tiny light meter from the 1940s that she used to judge the light. She never told anyone about that. It was old but not old enough to be used in a civil war setting.

Sarah's father had bought that particular lens because the barrel was wide enough to throw light in what would be the equivalent to an f3.5 in today's terms. If there was no aperture installed it could be focused easily on the ground glass at the rear of the box. The aperture Sarah and her father had used for portraits was f64. It gave a good depth of field which allowed Sarah not spend much time focusing the camera. The wooden box had three viewfinders. Each was brass and set for a fixed distance. Sarah just chose the one closest to what she needed then slipped it into the brass holder.

The first thing Sarah did upon returning to her wagon was to replace the landscape viewfinder in the small velvet lined wooden box. Then she removed the f22 aperture ring for storage on the lower level of the same wooden box. Only then did she unpack the two film holders.

"So how many exposures did you fire?" Sandberg asked.

"Four," she replied simply.

"How the hell could you capture the battle with four shots," Sandberg asked. He obviously thought that he had answered it himself. It was a simple answer she couldn't have, he thought.

"How could you need more?" Sarah asked it with a smile. Unlike Sandberg she had been through the same discussion a hundred times. First with her father, at which time she held Sandberg's position, and afterwards with more all the time. Digital cameras had not only increased the number of photographers, it had increased the number of shots it took them to be satisfied that they had a good one. Their coverage was almost a movie, since the shots came so close together. No matter how well the digital cameras captured the scene and no matter how qualified the photographer, they always lacked something. THe something was the feel of the place and time. The digital image at a reenactment was as out of place as the sound of that siren wafting across the black powder fill air.

"Before we start with the who did what, I want to see your four cute little images." Sandberg was intentionally being an ass, but Sarah caught it and didn't rise to the bait. Instead she opened an old wooden steamer trunk circa 1900. From it she removed a black film-changing bag that resided atop her change of clothes. She closed the truck and latched it before she pushed it to the side. From what looked like an old wooden nail keg she removed a folded canvas water bag.

"Why don't you go fill this, the faucet is just about twenty yards in that direction?" Sarah said it while pointing toward the bathhouse.

By the time Berg returned she had the first negative loaded into the film tank made from a peanut butter jar. The canvas bag, which Berg lugged back to the wagon, held exactly three gallons of water.

"Now John, I am going to do my one frame to make sure I have something, then I'm going to wait till I get home to do the rest. I always process a negative from each shoot to make sure the camera is working so that I can make any adjustments for the next shoot, should I need to.

Sarah quickly mixed four ounces of developer.

"You can't fill the tank with a thimble full of chemicals."

"Your lack of photographic knowledge amazes me," Sarah said it with a fake look of disgust. She knew how little modern photographers knew of primitive techniques. She poured the four ounces of chemicals into the sixteen ounce jar then quickly turned it on its side. She also began rotating it. What she had done was to form a long thin puddle of chemicals on the side of the jar. As he rotated the jar, the chemicals covered the film. By rotating it before the film had time to dry it was back in the 'soup' again. "Actually I only need 2 oz but it is easier to make four," she said smugly.

"I'll believe it when I see it," Berg said it but he knew when he had been beaten. Sarah obviously knew more about his new profession than he did. Well more about the history and the old ways. He doubted that she could make all that primitive crap shoot a decent set of images of a road race or arena football game. He could shoot a battle with the digital camera and then go shoot a circus inside the tent an hour later. He doubted she could do that.

Sarah dumped, added and rotated more chemicals. Finally she declared it complete. She removed the lid to view a perfectly exposed and developed 4x5 negative. She ran some water over it quickly then showed it to John Sandberg.

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# 10

Berg thought the sound of the siren out of place. It brought him out of the 19th century haze he had fallen into. It turned out to be a case of heat exhaustion on the part of one of the re-enactors. It was no wonder as the temperatures had climbed into the mid 90’s in the metro Atlanta area. It wasn’t a dry heat either. No it was more like the “I’ve spilt warm dishwater all over myself” type of heat. The re-enactors, most in their wool reproduction uniforms and heavy equipment were taking the brunt of it. Berg mused to himself, Sherman must have been in Atlanta on a day like this when he said, “War is hell” because it was sure hot enough to be

“Sarah, while we have this break, I’m going to get something cold to drink. can I bring you something?”

“No, I brought water. You should have too!”

“I did but it’s warm now and I want something cold.”

“In that case Berg, bring me one of those frozen lemonaides.”

“You know that sounds pretty good to me too. I’ll make it two.”

At that Berg trotted down the backside of the hill towards the park concession to pick up the cold treats. As Berg got closer he saw Peter there and he wasn’t looking happy.

“ What gives, Peter? You thinking the park gonna get sued for not having medical personnel on stand by because of this heat?”

Peter just stared at Berg for a moment. “Yeah, something like that!”

Berg saw Peter had other thing on his mind and moved on to the stand to get the drinks. Berg was going to stop and tell peter how well he thought the shoot was going: when he turned to go back he saw Peter was in an unpleasant discussion with one of the re-enactors. No doubt about the heat and the lack of an on-site medical team for such a large event.

Berg was calculating the numbers in his head on his way back up the hill. There were about 250 Confederate actors and 175 Union plus all the vendors, spectators and behind the scenes type who helped put it all together. He estimated that all together it was close to 1500 involved in this event. Berg felt the crowd would swell to 5,000 or more in the evening because of the fireworks display set for tonight.

“Here you go Sarah, they’re still mostly frozen.”

“Thanks, I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me.”
“So how’d your shoebox shots turn out?”

Berg couldn’t resist the jab at Sarah’s old wooden boxed view camera.

“Berg, I wouldn’t know yet. If you wee a real photographer you’d know there’s a thing called negatives and I haven’t processed them yet. I’m sure they’ll beat anything that Mattel camera of yours made”

Berg grimaced at her remark. Sarah could take it and dish it out double. Berg pushed on.

“Well take a look at these” Berg handed over his camera. “Just look at the little LCD screen in the b…”

Sarah cut him short. “Berg, I’m not an idiot. I know how to use one of these damn cameras. I just prefer not to.”

Berg was silent. He was beginning to think of Sarah as a landmine: you just never knew how much pressure it would take to set her off.

Sarah had to admit Berg’s shots were good, really good. They were well composed and detailed. Some of his close-ups had even captured the look of anguish on the faces of the soldiers in smoke and chaos of battle.

“Berg, these are nice. Your camera did a good job.” For some reason Sarah couldn’t resist the jab. She knew the camera was just a tool. It took someone with a vision to turn out work like she had just seen.

Berg caught the dig but no protest. He just looked a little hurt. How could this be from a man like him, Sarah thought. Sarah began to feel a bit guilty about the remark.

“Hey Berg, I’m going back to the wagon to process these negatives before this evenings session. Why don’t you come along and see what this old shoe box can do.”

“I thought you had to take them to a lab to be done.”

“No, I process the film in a daylight canister after loading in a changing bag”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

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A pair of Chipping Sparrows at work

Test results, we don't have no stinkin test results. That's right nothing yet. I called today and have not received that infamous "call back" that so often never comes.

I did get yesterday the paperwork to fill out to be placed on UAB's transplant list. I'll be working on that and getting the labs they need over the next few days. It's good not to have all your eggs in one basket.

I picked up my Pathfinder from the shop this morning. The folks there are really nice and their work is great. This last problem was from the wreck but could not have been easily found by anyone. I expect this to be my last visit there.

Sue is well. She has a trip next week for a few days.

Me, I've had better weeks but seem better this week.

I took only a few photos this past weekend. I didn't feel too well.

Thanks again for stopping in.

Regards to all,

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# 10

Funny how your loyalties can change so quickly, Sarah Lee thought. Twenty minutes before she had thought that Sandberb was a jerk. Hell he was still a jerk, but he was one of her jerks now. Sarah was not impressed with his story; cops did that kind of thing everyday. Not the same cop everyday, but somewhere in the world a cop acted, when others stood and watched. She wasn't even impressed with the medal thing, brave deeds were done by men couldn't find it in themselves to run away. That was the fine line. Some people could lie and await their fate, and others had to do something. The ones who ran were the flip side of the hero, not the ones who cowered in a hole.

No, what she was drawn to was the fact that someone attacked him for something every cop has done to a lesser extent. If you don't think a child rapist and murderer is tortured, try watching them being interrogated. The cops will go just as far as the bosses will allow. If the heat comes down it is the detective’s ass, but they don't even think about that.

Sarah gave the TV guys a quick glance then said, "If you are going to shoot the battle, you need to set that Buck Rogers shit up over there, she pointed to the down side of the hill. Otherwise you need to leave, you are in my way."

The newsies looked hard but didn't plan to spend the morning taping a bunch of fat re enactors. Sarah walked back to her wooden tripod topped by a wooden box camera. It was set up for infinity and as large an aperture as the lens had. The exposures would be slow speed but not as slow as her portraits.

She didn't even look at Sandberg as she went to her camera. All the adjustments had been made and remade a dozen times. She noticed with some satisfaction that Sandberg looked a little lost. She couldn't decide whether to give him the order of battle or watch him trying to do everything at once. She decided that if he ask, she would talk, if not screw him. She giggled then whispered to herself, "like hell."

The Yanks entered the field from the north side, the success hid behind the rail fence and in the gully. The blue bellies were going to get slaughtered. Suddenly the fife and drum could be heard rolling again over the Georgia countryside. The Yanks came from the woods and then formed into a skirmish line. Sarah had her spot picked out. Sandberg was looking a bit lost as he changed lenses on his camera. Sarah had no idea what he had expected, but the battle had begun.

"You okay over there?" Sarah asked it with what was almost an audible giggle, but she managed to suppressed it.

"You are enjoying this aren't you." Sandberg said it as he fumbled with the pieces of his camera.

"Of course I am. Do you have a matching Mickey Mouse watch." At that point Sarah could not contain her laughter.

"I think I finally figured out who you are," Sandberg said it without any humor at all. He didn't like appearing inept at anything.

"Oh?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah you aren't the cookie lady, you're the Cookie Monster." Sandberg didn't know what he had expected. What he had not expected was for her to break up in laughter.

"You better hurry hero, they are about to charge." Those were the words that managed to make it out between fits of laughter. The laughter was nervous, but Sandberg didn't know that.

So he thinks I'm a monster, Sarah found that amusing. Those who really knew her, wondered how the soft-spoken, church going, lady could be a tough cop. Sarah was a true chameleon. She changed when she changed clothes. If she hadn't learned to cope, she would have been diagnosed as mpd, multiple personality disorder. She might still slip over the line at any moment.

Sandberg finally got it all together. Sarah's attention returned to the battle. He had been distracting to her on more than one level. His trouble with the press interested her, but she wasn't interested enough to ask. Things would reveal themselves without an interrogation. At least that was her belief at the time.

The yanks were moving toward the reb lines when she had the right angle for her shot. She had ignored all the clicking coming from beside her. At least Sandberg didn't move in front of her camera. After the shot she pulled then reinserted her film holder. She pulled the dark slide so that she was ready when the hand-to-hand melee began. The rebs began to fire and the yanks began to fall. They didn't stop though, they just kept on moving forward.

"Stupid bastards," Sandberg said as he clicked away. "What a waste."

"Different times Sandberg," Sarah said as she waited for the men in gray to rush out. When they did, she fired the shutter then switched the film holders and did it again two more times.

The men disengaged and the battle lulled. Suddenly the cannons roared and the groups came together again. It took over an hour for both skirmishes to end. While Sarah was packing away her camera, she heard the siren. It sent a chill down her spine. It was out of place on a day like that, but with all the death, even fake death, it seemed somehow appropriate.

Monday, July 17, 2006

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# 9

Berg was finally back in his room at the Cannon Ball. The interviews had lasted more than two hours with the promise of more to come. Berg got out his gear and sorted out his equipment for the morning shots. He had decided to take the smallest of camera bags with him this morning.

Berg packed his Canon 1Ds and two lenses, a wide angle Canon EF 24 – 70 mm f/2.8 and Canon EF 70 – 200mm f/2.8L Is USM. “Oh. This is good glass.” Beg then picked up a beat up Canon Digital Rebel XT with its original 18 –75 mm AF lens.

Berg thought back to his friend Billy and how his camera had started it all and ultimately finished things. He had made a promise to himself to always take a shot with it where ever he was for Billy. It could serve as a back up if need be.

Well, look what the cat dragged in.

Morn’in to you too Sarah Lee. Sleep well?

Berg was prodding Sarah some this morning. He was tired after all the questions by the cops. The same questions had been asked and answers fifty times at least. Berg had grown weary after the third set.

Better than you by the looks of things. I was getting worried you weren’t going to show and they would ask me to use one of those Mattel cameras to do your job.

Sarah, you really know how to turn on that southern charm, don’t you.

I got a little tied up at a Waffle House this morning but I don’t have all that crap to set up like you do with that shoe box you call a camera. I’m ready and mobile on the battlefield.

Couldn’t quite get your grits down, could ya.

Yeah, something like that.

Well shit, more latecomers to get in my way and muck up things. There’s even a TV crew with ‘em too. These re-enactments haven’t been this popular before.

Berg looked over to see what appeared to be a small throng of reporter types heading up to their location.

Captain Sandberg, Captain John Sandberg - It was the one leading the pack up the hill.

Sarah was now confused. They wanted Berg. What the hell gives?

Yeah, I’m Sandberg.

Mark Bolton, AJC. The ranger in charge said we all had to come in a group because your time was limited and you were about to start work. This is Jim Messer, Fox 5 News and Julie Bass, channel 2 Action News

Linda Storm Kennesaw Gazette, pleasure to meet you Captain.

Please call me John. I’m not in service any more.

Well, we all would like to hear your account of how you single-handedly managed to disarm and subdue the armed robber this morning at the Waffle House.

What, what is this? Sarah couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

Berg quickly related his story of the robbery attempt to the cameras and print people.

Then it came, it was that little snot, the Fox reporter Jim.

Your are the same captain Sandberg awarded the Medal of Honor by the president who was latter linked to the mental torture of prisoners under your charge, right? You were “retired” from the Army after that incident. Is that correct?

Sarah was think, as well as the others – What an asshole.
Berg just turned and walked away, leaving Messer to stand there looking like an enormous prick.

Monday, July 10, 2006

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Weekend Update

Indian Burial Mound

Photographed - 7/06

Just a little update on what's going on here.
It was pretty much a normal weekend for us, nothing outstanding.

We took one of our rides into the North Georgia mountains in search of photo ops. I was looking for another covered bridge (The Blind Susie Bridge in Lula, GA) but was unable to find it.

We grilled out and did some bird watching. We saw what we think is an Orange Taninger. Of course no camera handy, so we'll keep looking for it to show up again.

Cows - White Co.

Photographed - 7/06

Recently we had purchased a large bag of dry cat food for Miss Kitty and put it in our pantry. We found out Sunday morning it was infested with moths. a good part of the day was spent emptying and cleaning the pantry. Then it was to the store to buy all the food items we had to discard.

Tomorrow I return to Emory for more testing to see if I still could get a transplant. It's something that I both look forward to and dread at the same time. I could be OK'ed for a transplant or told I can no longer be considered for a transplant.

Hay Bales - White Co

Photographed - 7/06

Photos - These are three different fields in White Co. Near Helen, GA. The first is said to contain the remains of a Cherokee Indian princesses who leapt to her death from near by Mt Yonah.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

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# 8

Sarah Lee Poole awoke not with a start but with reality slipping in like a fog. Reality had a nasty habit of pushing pleasant dreams aside. Sarah didn't exactly remember the dream, but she knew it did not include John Sandberg. He came to her reality as she moved her camera box aside. The Box reminded her that Sandberg would be on the small rise beside her as she shot a couple of exposures of the troops.

She hadn't planned to spend much time on the battle, since nobody would be paying her for that part of the day. Unlike Sandberg and half the others with cameras, Sarah had little interest in the battle itself. He profit would be from the walk around camp candid shots, and the formal portraits she would be shooting at her wagon.

Everything in the wagon had been designed for the reenactment. From the plywood floor, that would double as a studio wall when attached to the side of the wagon, to the small folding benches lashed to the inside walls, the wagon was a portable studio. Sarah could even make a tintype if pressed. Not the real ones of course but a fairly convincing fake. She would have to do the actual work at home, but it was doable.

Her breakfast was from a freeze-dried package. She promised herself yet again that she would start eating better. Instead of real food, it was coffee and instant oatmeal again. The coffee made with boiling water from her teapot poured over a tea bag filled with coffee grounds. She spent at least a minute dunking the coffee bag up and down in the boiling water. She never cared for the ritual, but it beat the hell out of her dad's coffee making on the road.

Her dad would pour a hand full of coffee in a pot and just boil the hell out of it. When it was boiling to beat hell, he would strain it through cheese cloth. The straining removed about 95% of the coffee grounds, which seemed to be close enough for him. It was not close enough for Sarah.

After her miserable breakfast, she went about the camp site making pictures of the men who had begun to stir. Sarah Lee usually could scrounge up coffee to refill her cup as she went along. It was unusual but not unheard of, to see the park ranger's pickup in the camp area. They usually tried to stay out of sight during the reenactment. A 2005 Ford truck did a real number on the 'lost in time' feeling that the re enactors paid good money to experience.

Sarah never did see the ranger, the truck was just there one minute, and then twenty minutes later when she looked again, it was gone. Since it had no significance to the reenactment, it got only a passing thought. Sarah had bigger things on her mind. She had to change the film in her film holders. Sarah's day was starting out just like any other day at a reenactment.

The battle didn't start till 10am. Unlike the real battle this one had a schedule. It followed the events of the day pretty close but, there still had to be a schedule for the visitors. There also was a published program, after all you can't tell the players without a program.

Sarah lugged her heavy wooden tripod to the small rise set aside for her, and she supposed Sandberg as well as the local press photographers. The amount of plastic that would be on that mound would be a bit of a shock to a retro photographer.

Sarah knew exactly where everyone would be at any given time. She also had her shots planned to the tiniest detail. The four by five film holders would be a bitch to change quickly, so she planned when to do it. One shot of the field when the Yanks came from the woods line and one of the rebel's defense lines, then change the film holder before they met in the middle of the field. With the second film holder, a shot of the battle before it went medieval. Close combat with long muskets with fixed bayonet could hardly be called anything else. Then the last shot to show the confusion of hand to hand combat.

Now and then Sarah would remove the pocket watch from the men's suit vest she wore. She would first check the time, and then look off to the trail leading from the park ranger's office. Since Sarah had arrived early, there was still lots of time before the show began. She had set up early to secure the best possible position, at least she told herself that.

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# 7

Berg woke the instant the roach skittered across his face and slammed the little pest against the wall. He hadn’t had any sleep aid, nightcaps of Jack Daniels since he got the call about this job and his reaction time was returning

“Shit” It was only 5 am. Berg hadn’t been up this early in months. At least not since he had been “retired” from the Rangers. Berg got out of his not so clean bed and headed to the shower.

He flipped on the light and was happily surprised not to see more roaches scurrying from the light. He got into the phone booth of a shower and stood under the hot water, eyes closed as it ran over his scared torso.

It was 5:25 am now. Berg fully dressed, had only one thought, coffee. The mom and pop place wouldn’t open until eight. So berg hopped into his jeep in search of the nearest Waffle House. Finding a Waffle House in Georgia wasn’t hard at all – even a blind could find one. It seems there is one on every corner. As a matter of fact the one he choose was only about ¾ of a mile away, right by I-75. If for some reason he didn’t like this first one, there was another just on the other side of the underpass. They were in view of each other.

Berg walked in and sat at the counter. Right away a waitress plopped down a steaming cup of coffee.

Coffees free for service men. What’ll ya have.

Berg thought a moment about correcting her but let it pass.

Can I get two eggs over easy with bacon, toast, grits and a large O J?

Sure thing, hun

With that the waitress hurried off with the order and Berg took a look around the place. It was busy for the time but its location next to the interstate explained that.

Here you go hun. Can I warm up that cup?

Yes, thanks

Berg chowed down on the food. It was really good and cheaper than mom and pops place.

Berg was just finishing up some of the best grits he’d ever eaten when the hairs on the back of his neck started to tingle. He sensed it before he saw it. Berg shifted his gaze to the right to see a man fidgeting in front of the register. He saw the man’s coat pocket and knew what was in it and what was about to happen.

Berg’s waitress was coming to the register to ask the robber for his order. Before he had the pistol level with the counter, Berg had delivered a blow across the young robbers windpipe and twisted the pistol from the falling man.

The waitress was screaming and a dozen cell phones were trying to dial 911. Berg stood holding the pistol on the robber who was just now realizing what had happened.

Berg thought the weapon was unusual for a person like this to be using. It wasn’t some cheap piece of crap but, a Browning Hi-Power 9mm. If the scum on the floor had started shooting it could have become ugly. The Browning holds 13 rounds – lots of victims.

Suddenly everyone in the place started clapping. The manager walked up but not to close

Mister, anytime you eat here it’s on the house!

Just then the first two police cars arrived. Berg raised his hands holding the barrel of the weapon while one foot stood on the would be robber's neck

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

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Even the Best Laid Plans....

Sunrise on White County Farm

Photographed - 7/4/06

An update on what’s been going on here. I thought the long weekend was going to be very good. Sue took Friday off after being gone the last nine days for work. She had to make about a 45 minute conference call about noon - PLAN.

REALITY -After the FIVE + HOUR call we still had time to grill out a nice mixed grill and watch a rental movie. It was Firewall with Harrison Ford – not a bad flick – very worth a rental.

PLAN – get truck Fri. afternoon at five

REALITY - My answering machine had a message that my Pathfinder was ready if I could come pick it up before 5:30. The time 6:15 – dialysis ran over by almost an hour because of a storm and power outage.
If I can’t pick it up it says I’ll have to wait until after the holidays – i.e. Wed. morning.

I have a really nice Saturday. Spend all day with Sue catching up on sleep, talking and having fun.

PLAN – get up very early Monday and go to the
N. GA mountains to take some photographs. Come home, cook out and later go to the local fireworks. (City of Cumming’s on the 3rd)
Stovall Mill Bridge - White Co., GA

Photographed - 7/04/06

Reality – Wake up sick as a dog. My day scrubbed. Sue does necessary grocery shopping. We watch another movie. The remake of The Pink Panther – with Steve Martin – almost as good as Peter Sellers version – another good rental.

Today’s PLAN – Get up early. Go to the mountains and take some photos. Cook out later and go see the fireworks.

REALITY – Don’t get up as early as plan calls for. Do get to mountains and take some photos. J Have nice cookout too. J
Go early to fireworks to get good vantage for photographing show.
Hour to go Fireworks drowned by rain – washed out. L

I’m sure you have noticed I have let my original intent of my blog slip a bit. This is due in part because of the crappy outcome of my transplant adventure a few weeks ago. I just haven’t felt up to it.

The other reason is I some how became so deluded as to think I might be able to sell some of my photos at local festivals and arts and craft shows. It might help pay for this hobby.

So, I’ve been spending some time choosing photos to print and mat.
Also I’ve been working on a web site for this purpose. Still lots of details to work out there.

I’m sure you also have noticed the short pulp fiction story I’m playing with. My Uncle and I take turns writing a page or two and try to cobble them together to make sense. It’s really kind of fun.

Regards to All,


Monday, July 03, 2006

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Since the family hadn't netted any information of value, Sarah decided to reach out to her partner. She hated to see her cell phone bill for the month, but she could always write if off as a business expense. Well a part time business expense to be more accurate.

"Eddie what the hell are you doing home," Sarah had known that her, almost ready for retirement, partner would be home. Eddie Macon did not work weekends for anyone. He was too damn close to pricking the balloon.

"You know me cupcake, always looking for an escape ladder. What you want cookie?"

"Eddie if you don't stop with the desert cracks you are going to get more than a sugar high."

"Yeah for the last ten years I been trying to get the damn wrapper open."

"Well here's your chance for me to owe you one."

"Sarah you owe me about two hundred and it still hasn't gotten me a night in a cheap motel."

"Eddie you know at you age you would have to just watch."

"Watch my ass, Okay what is it you need my little twinkie?"

"You know I'm in Georgia working that re enactment?"

"Sure, only woman I know takes vacation to wear old clothes and sit by a campfire with a bunch of old men in rags. No wait, that's a bag lady or an undercover cop." Macon burst into laughter. Macon was fond of his own jokes, as well as the sound of his own voice.

"Listen up Eddie, I ran into an old special forces type guy. Something about him ain't right. How about slipping into the national crime computer and telling me who he killed lately."

"Is he that bad cupcake?"

"I'm not sure Eddie, if he isn't being looked at now, we might be one day soon. He has that Texas Bell tower look about him."

"You keep your distance cookie."

"I can't, so get on this as soon as you can."

"Alright but you be damn careful."

Sarah gave him all the vitals on Sandberg. As was the case when cops played cops neither said goodbye, the line just went dead.

Sarah threw off the blanket, then she sat upright. She heard the far away sound of banjos and guitars. "Oh hell why not?" she said aloud.

The vendor area of the re enactment was about half a mile from the grassy amphitheater. As she approached the music got louder. There were even several eerie glows coming from the grassy bowl. Kerosene lamps glowed as re enactor families clapped their hand and danced a hoedown to the music.

Everyone was still in costume. Sarah was glad that she had worn her masculine get up. Sarah was dressed as one of the women who had fought in the war as men. It was a well known fact that every army in the war on both sides had women pretending to be young men. When a woman fired a shot that saved a man's life, he usually didn't care much about her plumbing arrangement.

Sarah was quickly surrounded by men and woman from the encampment. Just as in the war the Yanks tended to hang together and the Rebs did the same. As was her habit, Sarah fell into her male role easily. She even danced with a few of the daughters of the old south. It was great fun and since no one actually danced close, no one knew. Well a few who had their pictures made before might have had a suspicion, but none knew for sure.

It was after midnight when the dance ended. Sarah got waylaid by a Yank who had a little too much corn liquor. He argued the merits of the war and of course Sarah argued back. She refused to back down. Her father's motto, which she had adopted at work and in her personal life was, "Make your stand, then never give an inch."

The half drunk Yank was lucky that it was just words. Sarah had turned sideways to him to protect her vital organs. It he came out with anything, she was ready to break a bone or two. It was hard to say if he sensed it or just got tired of hearing himself talk. For whatever reason he gave up the argument with one parting shot. "We could whop you again reb."

Sarah mumbled under her breath, "So you say Yank, so you say."

She was stumbling around in the dark trying to find her way back to her wagon. She couldn't walk well in the dark, since she was a city girl. She also lost her way. Before she knew it she was in the parking lot where the re enactors had parked their cars. It was a half mile east of the vendor area. It could have been worse.

She found the gravel trail that lead to the encampment area. Before she set a single foot on it, she heard loud voices. At first she thought the drunken Yank had found someone else to argue with. She thought one of the voices sounded familiar but wasn't sure.

Sarah knew in here heart of hearts that she should just walk away. She didn't of course. Instead she turned walk as quietly as she could toward the voices. One more loud burst of shouts and then the starting of an engine.

Sarah stepped quickly into the shadows as first a black sedan and then a park ranger truck roared off into the night. "Some drunk giving the night ranger a problem," she said under her breath. Since the argument had moved on, she couldn't do a thing to help. Sarah had a feeling something was going to come of it later, so she made a mental note to file all the details away.

While making the mental notes she walked up the path toward her wagon.

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Sarah Lee decided to enlist some help in finding out about John Sandberg. She called her cousin, R.L. Poole, who worked for the NCBI.(North Carolina Bureau of Investigation)

Sarah’s cell began playing “Dixie” an appropriate tune for her location.
Hello, this is Sarah Poole. Oh, Robert – thanks for getting back to me so soon. No, no I’m not involved with the man, just working on a project with him.

Thirty-five minutes Sarah switched off her cell phone. Sarah had been right ‘bout Berg being dangerous. He had killed men, lots of men. Some of them had played a part it his winning the Medal of Honor. Sarah knew very few men who won the Medal, lived to wear it. Since its establishment in the Civil War on July 12th 1862, most were presented to the wives and children.

Sarah’s cousin had a hard time getting information on one Army Captain Sandberg, John A. It seems that anti-terrorism/ national security BS prevented releasing information, even to the people on the same side.

Sarah was thinking, was Berg still working? No, that didn’t seem possible. He wouldn’t be out doing this kind of thing. Still, he was too young to just retire. So, what was it? Sarah told herself she was more interested in Berg’s story, than she was in Berg.

Sarah felt the hard wooden floor of the wagon on her back and cursed it for keeping her awake. She knew in the back of her mind that it was more than the floor. In large part it was Berg, the iceberg. She was thinking it would be nice to melt through him, then find out his real story, and just maybe defuse the bomb ticking inside him.

Peter met Berg for dinner at a small Mom and Pop type diner where the food was good and the portions large. The only down side was that the selection was limited.

“Peter, just who is this Sarah Lee? She seems to pick up on everything and hold her ground.”

“I don’t know a hell of a lot bout her, she’s a cop or ex-cop something like that. Met her a couple of years ago when she filled in for her dad as the photographer at another re-enactment. Why all the interest Berg?”

“Just wanted to know a little about who I’m working with, that’s all.”

“Technically you aren’t working with her. All I know is she’s damn good at what she does and the service wants to use a series of her images from the other battlefields as well as this one.”

“Why do you need me then?”

“It’s two different beasts, Berg. Yours are very good and easy for printing the park brochures. Hers have a completely different feel to them. Like an image straight from the 1800’s. You’ll just have to wait and see it for yourself.” Peter paused a moment then went on, “Sorry Berg, I’ve got to run. I’ve got a meeting I need to get to.”

“A meeting, isn’t it a little late for a meeting Pete?”

“Oh Berg, the park service never sleeps!”

Twenty minutes later Berg found himself back at The Cannonball Motel. The aptly named tourist sleeping spot was small and family run. It looked old enough to have housed the original Confederate troops who had really fought there. At least it was clean. It wasn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. The price doubled during the re-enactment days. It did have beds, soft beds . That beat the hell out of the ground or the bed of a wagon.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

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# 4

Sarah walked away thinking that John Sandberg bore all the classic signs of
a 'going postal' killer. He had that intense look that her experience told her was dangerous. "So how do you know Peter?" She asked it as they walked across the meadow.

"We served together in a couple of places," Sandberg Suggested.

"Well he must not have been a very good soldier, he should have known the sun would be in your eyes from that point." It was a direct criticism of Peter and also the Military. Sarah had busted her share of G.I.s. Some while she worked as a beat cop, and even a few while she worked the gang squad. She respected the military without holding it in awe.

"He wasn't thinking about the sun being an issue since he knows nothing about photography. Hell I come to it late myself."

"So, what made you decide to join in the legacy of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston?"

"After I retired I needed something to keep my mind occupied. I didn't think I had all that many alternatives." John left the main reason tucked away. He didn’t want the emotions to boil to the surface

"Yeah, I can't see you punching a clock. The boss maybe but definitely not a clock."

Berg was at a loss for words, something that usually didn't happen to him. She continued walking until she reached the eastern side of the meadow. "The Yanks will come from that direction, she said it pointing to the north end of the field. The rebs will be waiting for them over there." At the mention of the Rebs she pointed to the gully that ran across the Southern end of the field.

"So it's a classic ambush."

"Not sure you could call it that, the Yanks know they are there. Won't be no surprise when they start taking fire. The Rebs have a couple of two inch guns that should be interesting to see shoot."

"You gonna' do the shots with that old camera?"

"Yep, it's what I do John."

"I have a bag full of zoom lenses, you don't mind if I do close ups of the soldiers do you?"

"Why would I mind?"

"My shots well most likely show you up a bit." He said it knowing that it sounded arrogant as hell. He knew how it sounded but he really didn't care.

"Oh don't worry about me. I just make one shot of the battle. I leave the rest of the crap shots to tourist with plastic cameras."

"This plastic camera is state of the art," Sandberg said angrily. He felt the need to defend himself. For some reason he had taken the remark personally. He had never been a tourist anywhere.

"Did they throw in a little talent and experience along with the warrantee?" Bug was beginning to play dirty.

"Why don't you wait and see how the shots look before you judge?" he asked.

"Oh I know how they are going to look. They are going to look like little plastic soldiers, in a little plastic frame." Sarah smiled at John Sandberg just to let him know she wasn't going to back down.

"Well we will see what is what tomorrow," He suggested.

"Yes we will. So Sandberg where are you staying tonight? Did they find you a comfortable motel?"

"Tell me you aren't going to make fun of me sleeping in a motel bed, while you rough it in the back of a wagon. I'll have you know I have slept in the rain without so much as a tent. I have slept while sitting against a tree. I might add that it was so hot and humid that you could ring water from the air."

"Then I suppose you have earned the Pakistani West Plaza." She was of course referring to the local mom and pop motel that would be filled with the families of re enactors. Not everyone was interested in sleeping on the ground. The camp followers for sure would be off to sleep in comfortable beds.
"So you are camping out with the other camp followers?" Sarah asked with a smirk. Sarah enjoyed putting Sandberg on the defense. It was an old cop trick to keep him off guard. Though she had no idea why she felt the need to keep him from digging in. She had an instinctive feeling that Sandberg was dangerous to her but she wasn't sure on what level.

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Peter and John were walking over the areas he felt John would be able to use for some panoramic shots of the battlefield when Sarah walked up.

Peter, what the hell is this. The park service has doubled the vendor charges over last year’s price. The price I quote in our contract for the service’s photos was based on last year’s fees – it’s in the contract. I guess my photo’s prices have just tripled.

Calm down Sarah it’s a mistake on our part. You’ll get the same fee structure as last year.

John was mildly amused how this woman had just handled his old friend. Berg wondered what else Sarah could handle.

Peter noticed the look on John’s face and not to be out done. “Sarah” I’d like you to meet Berg. John shot Peter a look that would have shredded most. Err, I should say John Sandberg Peter corrected himself.

Sarah sensed Berg was a man who bore watching for sure. He seemed to be a man about to explode. Sarah Lee knew she wanted to be far away if that happened. Oh she might have to pick up the pieces, but she would just as soon it not be too soon after the explosion.

Nice to meet you Mr. Sandberg. I guess Berg is short for Sandberg Sarah said with a slight smile.

Oh no Peter was laughing – nothing like that. John’s men gave him that one because of the way he dealt with the enemy –Cold as an iceberg.

John gave his friend a harder glare than before. Peter shut up. Sarah saw what she thought was a slight sign of fear on Peter’s face.

“Nice to meet you Sarah but, you’ll have to Pete here, he tends to get bouts of diarrhea mouth from time to time. Peter frowned, then laughed.

I was just showing Berg here some good places for some panoramic shots for the morning battle shots, Peter was enjoying the discomfort on John’s face at the use of his nickname.

I think Berg might actually be better off over in that area where I’m setting up, Sarah delighted in using the nick name – seeing that it cause a slight discomfort between the two men. Over here he’ll have to put up with the sun in his face – not a good thing for a photographer ya know.

Well, I’ll leave that up to you two to figure out. I’ve got to get back for another meeting. With that Peter headed back to the park’s office.

Iit’s Sarah is it.

Actually it’s Sarah Lee Poole.

Oh, the pie and cake lady. John’s attempt at humor fell flat as a pancake and stuck to the roof of his mouth as if it were coated in cane syurp.

I’ve heard them all before. Berg I expected something a little more original from a man like you.

What do you mean by that. John protested.

Well, judging by the hair and body you’ve got to be ex-military and a little too sure of your self and we know you guys can be such pricks in civilian life.

John was silent. She had read fairly well. There’s more to this pie lady than shows.

At the same moment Sarah was thinking I need to find out more about this man.