Sunday, March 18, 2018


Both Jilda and her sister have birthdays in March. Casie, one of her sister Pat's grandchildren cooked lunch for everyone today.

When Jilda and I arrived at noon, Casie's three children were sitting on the porch waiting. When I stepped up on the porch, all three kids came over and gave me a hug. Payton, the little girl on the right of me in the picture below said, "I read your story in the paper today." She went inside and got the paper off the couch and tapped on my picture.

She proceeded to tell me about what she'd read. It was the first time that she realized I was the writer who wrote a weekly column in the paper. Her mother has mentioned my column to me a number of times while we were down there when I wrote something that resonated with her, but the kids always seemed to busy to make the connection.

I sat on the porch with the kids for awhile talking about school, homework, and an upcoming trip to the state capitol this coming week.

Later when we were all inside, I heard Payton telling Jilda about my story. She ended by saying, "It was a good story." Hearing that made me smile

We gave Payton's younger brother Parker a joke book for Christmas. Today as we sat in the living room, he shared one of the jokes he'd read in the book. "Do you know what kind of tree grows in your hand?" he asked. No was my reply. "A palm tree. Get it, a palm tree." I acted as if that was the funniest joke I'd ever heard. That tickled him. I love it when kids begin to read and talk about the things they've read.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The weather today was remarkable. Jilda put a corned beef brisket in the crockpot early this morning and put it on slow cook. She does it every year for St. Patrick's Day. We have corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, butter beans, and cornbread. She normally does colcannon, with soda bread. But this year, my nephew Haven who LOVES this meal, asked if he was invited this year. We'd planned to keep it low key because Jilda has felt well, but by suppertime, we had a house full. Some of the "guests" aren't fans of colcannon and soda bread so we did cornbread and kept the cabbage and potatoes separate.

The meal was a hit. Our sister-in-law whipped up a peach cobbler and Haven's wife Alesha baked up a fresh batch of peanut butter brownies. Yum.

While the grownups were setting the table, I took the kids out back for a walkabout. Jordan noticed that the pear tree was in bloom and wanted to have a closer look. I shot a few pictures of him an Anthony but they couldn't stand still long enough to get a decent shot, so I took one of the pear blossoms instead.

I hope St. Patrick's Day has been good for you too. May you have the "Luck of the Irish" all the days of your life.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Thanks, Mister Sol

I had errands today so I didn't get my steps in as I usually do. This evening while Jilda prepared dinner, I took the jump-jump to the back porch and marched my last 5000 steps on a tiny trampoline. It's easy on my knees.

After I finished, I took the jumper inside and grabbed a glass of water. The sun was setting to the west and the evening critters were aflutter.

Ol' Hook the wonder dog stood guard on the steps to keep those pesky squirrels aloft.  I sat in silence taking it all in. When I looked down at the steps, I noticed the sun peeping through the pine and lighting up a flower pot that we used to grow herbs last summer. The herbs are long gone, but we left the pot there because we'll use it again this spring.

Winter had coated the northwest edge of the pot with a fuzz of moss. The sun pointed out to me just how beautiful it was. That would have been easy to miss. Thanks, Mister Sol.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hitching in the rain

My column this coming Sunday is about picking up a hitchhiker last week. It was an old cold rainy day. I'm not doing a spoiler here, but giving this guy a ride reminded me of when I was in the Army in 1971.

I was at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and my friend lived in New Hampshire. "It's only about 350 miles that shouldn't take us too long," he said. I was a hick from Sloss Hollow, Alabama and I hadn't traveled much. He could have told me it wasn't too far to walk and I would have gone.

We planned to head out when our classes ended just after lunch. It was a long weekend and we thought we'd eat supper at his mom and dad's house. 

We wore civilian clothes but we packed our Army uniform and field jacket in our bags in case it got cool. 

Looking at the forecast seemed like overkill because we'd probably be in New Hampshire by sundown.  

Outside the gates of Fort Monmouth, we stuck out our thumbs and a salesman picked us up in a matter of minutes. He took us just north of New York City and we caught a ride with another soldier a few minutes later. Bam! We were on our way. 

But the soldier had a couple stops to make. Time slipped away. We made it somewhere close to Worchester, Mass and the soldier let us out at his exit. It was dark and as luck would have it, a cold rain began to fall. We walked a few hundred feet up the Interstate and took refuge under an overpass. 
We put on our field jackets to help block the rain, but we didn't want to put the hood up because we wanted potential picker-uppers to see our faces. 

It was near midnight before a woman took pity on us. She pulled to the emergency lane. She rolled down her window to have a look at us before she unlocked the doors. We told her we were soldiers headed home for the holiday. 

She clicked the door open and let us in. Turns out, she had a son in the military too. She knew it was risky picking up two young men in the middle of the night, but she wanted to think that someone else would offer the same courtesy to her son if he needed a ride. 

That act of kindness took a lot of courage on her part. My friend and I were both grateful. My friend had family in Boston and they had agreed to take us on the final leg of our journey. I have a feeling that had they know how late we'd be arriving they would not have been so accommodating. 

These days with all the horror stories, most people simply will not pick up a hitchhiker. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and can't stop to give someone a ride. But when I see someone by the road standing in the rain, I remember the lady's kindness and offer a ride.

How about you? Do you ever pick up hitchhikers?

This has nothing to do with the post, but I shot this picture this evening as the sun was going down

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Time in the sun

We had someone come to our house today that has never been here before. Our directions are good, but people still struggle out here where cell reception can be spotty, and GPS sometimes takes visitors on adventures.

I called to verify she felt comfortable driving here, but I went out and sat on the bench by the front walk to wait. The turn into our driveway is sudden and people often pass it by before realizing they should have turned.  

As I sat on the bench, the birds and squirrels decided I was not an imminent threat and proceeded to feed. I heard a squirrel scampering across the metal roof and jumped onto the Rose-a-Sharon bush standing by the bench. He was halfway to the ground when he noticed me on the bench. He stood as still as a stone. His obsidian eyes looked me over. He was close enough that I could have reached out and petted him. When I eased my hand toward my pocket to get my phone for a picture, he darted to the ground and was gone in a flash.

The sound of our visitor's SUV preceded her arrival and she apparently had listened to the directions I gave because she pulled right into the driveway.

The wind out of the north was frigid, but I enjoyed those few moments in the sun visiting with our critters.

Since I didn't get a picture of a squirrel, I had to go back through the archives and settle on a picture of what I call a white dove.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


On our walk this morning I stopped at the dogwood in our front yard.  A few weeks ago when the temps toyed with the mid-80s the dogwoods were tempted to bloom, but mine were too smart to be teased. Even though the limb tips were fat as ticks, they held back.

It's a good thing they did because the temps last night dipped into the upper 20s. Frost was on my windshield this morning.

I could almost hear the dogwoods chanting - Na Na Na Boo Boo, you didn't fool me. They are in the starting blocks for when the spring makes its appearance.

The picture below, I shot a few years ago.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be Here Now

I sat down at my office desk this morning with a steaming cup of coffee and the intention of writing something remarkable. About the best I could muster was writing out a check for the light bill. My mind ricochets from current events to a never-ending to-do list. Then I remembered the mantra that my lovely wife preaches to her students at work and at the community yoga class. “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now.” In other words, “Be Here Now.” 
Sometimes being mindful is harder than you might think. Especially when you have urgent calls from Emily at Card Services telling me there’s an issue with my credit card or the automated message from the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS that needs to discuss my latest tax return. Not to mention the serious problem I have with my Windows computer. This one is especially perplexing since I haven’t a Windows computer in over 15 years. 
After about an hour of tapping keys, my mind was still as blank as a busted TV set. I clicked my laptop closed and took Jilda out for breakfast. She found a table by the window, and I ordered the food. Eating at the local Jacks during morning hours is like attending a family reunion. We saw a half-dozen people we knew. 
Sitting there, I looked around at the faces and heard clips of conversation. Mornings in that restaurant reminds me of my mother’s kitchen at breakfast. The aroma of bacon on the grill, and biscuits baking in the oven. I had a feeling that the experience would bring my mind back to here and now. I was right.
Once home, I took the critters for a walk. I flipped the collar of my insulated vest up to block the brisk wind out of the north. 
A doe and two fawns were feeding on acorns by the barn. When they saw Ol’ Hook and Caillou, they
bolted for the woods. The dogs yapped after them. I sat down on my thinking bench to watch, listen, and smell the earth getting ready for spring. Those moments without distraction were a joy. It felt good to “Be Here Now.”
There’s something powerful that happens when the mind is silent. Troubling things no longer seem as important. The space those thoughts occupy in my chattering mind tends to shrink. I often come up with creative approaches to complex problems. I don’t always solve them, but the silence gives me a chance to get a better grip on the pieces I can control. It also helps me to let go of the pieces I can’t control. This is a huge benefit of mindfulness.
There are those who say that mindfulness is a lot of New Age hooey.  I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind about mindfulness. But this much I know for sure. It works for me. In fact, it gave me the idea for this column today. 
If you get fed up with Emily and your credit card problems, I suggest you try to Be Here Now. 

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