Thursday, May 21, 2015

Point of reference

Point of reference is an important concept. I've always been good with directions though Jilda would probably argue that point, but working as a service tech with the phone company, I often had to get directions, especially when the customer lived in a rural area.

Most of the roads were unmarked and GPS was still a technology that had not matured. Often they would tell me to go down by the road until you see an old pickup sitting up on blocks and just past there, take a left by the witness tree, then drive until you smell chicken houses and hang a right.

Strangely enough, those were pretty good directions if I knew where to start. So, I would keep asking questions until they mentioned a landmark I was familiar with, then the directions usually made sense. All it took was a point of reference.

The same holds true for a lot of situations. I actually say, "I don't have a point of reference," a lot. We have friends who have lost children tragically. There is no way I could tell them I know how you must feel because we don't have children. I know first hand what it's like losing someone close to me, but a child? I don't have a point of reference.

I thought about that concept when I took this picture a few weeks ago. I could have told you the sky was blue and had I simply shot a picture of the sky, it would be hard to gauge what I was talking about. But a few colors in the foreground, and Wah La. You have a point of reference.

I hope you all have fun over the coming long weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Writing troubles

There's an old saying when you're trying to go against the flow that goes like this: You might as well be pushing a chain.

Well the last few evenings, I've been pushing a chain. I wanted to write a Memorial Day column for this coming Sunday and it was due today, but everything seemed soulless and as thin as a liars promise. So I quit trying and started thinking about another topic.

I told myself to get a good night's sleep and fix it in the morning. That was sound advice except I kept waking up during the night. When I woke up a 3:50 a.m. I never went back to sleep.  I simply closed my eyes and breathed deeply trying to force all thought from my mind.

Then about 5 AM I rolled out of bed and headed to my office. When I fired p the Macbook, the opening paragraph flowed as if it had been there all along and was waiting until I was ready to write it down.

Within 30 minutes, I'd finished the column. I should have laid back down and slept for an hour or so, but instead I hit the brew button on the coffeemaker.

When I was younger, losing a little sleep would not have been noticed, but I yawned all day today. Even now, I keep looking at my watch and thinking, "Is it too early to turn in?"




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Picnic planning

Our niece Samantha is a planner. It wasn't by accident. We were babysitting with her when she was 10 and she saw both Jilda and me updating our planners as we drank our morning coffee.

She was enthralled by the todo list, the calendars, and plugging dates and times for future appointments in a book. She was so taken that when we ordered our refills, we ordered her a planner too.

She embraced the planning process. If you asked her at 12 what she was doing next week, she'd pull the planner from her backpack and flip to the calendar and tell you in detail what was on her schedule.

She's an early adopter, so as soon as iPads and smartphones came onto the scene, she embraced them. Now her life is on her phone.

Fast forward to the first week of April of this year. She called to see if we could be chaperones at the first-grade picnic. She knew then that she would not be able to be off work for the picnic and wanted someone to be there for Jordan. Both Jilda and I plugged it into our phones and planners.

Today was a workday for me, but at 8:45, I forwarded my calls and headed to the park. At nine sharp, a herd of kids walked across the road to the park.

For a few hours, we helped the teachers and other chaperones keep an eye on about a hundred rowdy first graders. It was a joyful day.

I tried not to hamper the fun by taking a lot of pictures, but I had to take a few. The first picture is of Jordan and two of his friends. The second picture is him with his teacher Mr. Key.

I think he was sad when the picnic was over because he understood that he wouldn't see most of his friends until the fall.

I hope your day was as joyful as mine.





Monday, May 18, 2015

Fish tales ~ my column from Sunday's paper

My 7-year-old great nephew Jordan is a sponge … not a money sponge, although he accepts all donations toward the future purchase of a new game he wants, but he’s a knowledge, skills and experience sponge.

I picked him up from school this week, and he skipped out the door saying, “Guess what?”

“What?” I replied with enthusiasm, and the conversation began. He talked at length about volcanoes, lava, and molten rock.

When the conversation slumped, I asked if he wanted to stop by the forks of the river to see what was going on down there. “Sure.” And we were off.

The parking lot reaches close to the water’s edge and when we pulled in, we saw our old friend Leo Smith helping someone work on fishing gear. When he saw us, he bounded over to greet Jordan. Leo taught Jordan’s mom to fish when she was his age. After getting the fishing news update, we headed home.

Jordan and I had never talked about fishing, but when I asked if he would like to go sometime, excitement crept into his eyes.

When weather permits, he prefers to spend his time outside, so once I parked the truck and unloaded his backpack, we headed out to the deck.

While he flitted after butterflies, I stepped to the shed for something I’d put there 30 years ago. It was a rod and reel that my mom had given me after my dad died.

It took a while to remove the dust and cobwebs, but a clean work cloth and a touch of machine oil cleaned the old rig up nicely. Sorting through my ancient tackle box, I found a crappie lure. It had a lead head with tiny spooky eyes painted on it. Taking wire-cutters from my tool tray, I clipped the hook from the lure and tied it onto the fishing line.

Tying the lure on the line brought a memory rushing back from my childhood. It was of my dad showing me how to tie a lure on my line. For a moment, I smelled the Old Spice on his face and saw the stump of his middle finger that he’d lost in a work accident.

After attaching the lure, I stepped into the yard and called Jordan over. His face lit up when he saw the rod and reel.

The rod was designed for bigger hands, but he quickly adapted. The first few casts were wonky. One time he released the button too soon and the lure went straight into the air and dropped a foot from his head.

Placing an old aluminum dishpan about 20 feet away, I told him to cast toward that. Biting his lower lip in concentration, he quickly honed in on the target. Within a few minutes, he was pinging the pan with the lead weight.

When his mom came to fetch him after work, he demonstrated his new angling skills.

I told his mom to buy him a life jacket and we’d take his antique fishing gear for a test run. I’m sure the badgering for the life jacket began the instant they walked out the door.

Jet headed in the evening sky

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lost in space

We spent Friday and Saturday nights at Desoto State Park in northern Alabama. It's beautiful up there this time of year. The park has chalets with kitchens, and beds for about six people. The only drawback is there is no internet connectivity. 

The website says there is wireless in the lodge, but the signal must be carried by pigeons because it was very slow. It took forever to post our blogs from my iPhone on Friday night via spotty cellular service.

Then last night storms moved in and there was no cellular service. So for the first time in over two years, I missed posting an update. Actually, I wrote one and sent it, but it got lost in space.

We finished some new songs and laid the groundwork for several more. It's interesting watching the various members of our group approach the craft of writing a song.

Jilda and I've been co-writing for over 30 years, but some members of our group only write alone.  

Yesterday evening after a long day of writing, we threw steaks on the grill. The wife of one of the members had baked potatoes, and Jilda threw together a salad. The meal was delightful.

Jilda and I invested in a mattress, pillows and high thread-count sheets so we're a little spoiled when it comes to sleepwear so neither of us slept well. Even though it's only 7:15, I don't believe sleepytime is that far off tonight.

I hope you all have a remarkable week. Let's do something fun.

Flowers by the grill

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blue sky day

It's been another blue sky day here. I sat out on the lounge chair in the back yard while our nephew Jordan played. 
Clouds were gathering to the south and at times a little rain fell, but it left just as quickly as it came.
Some members of our songwriter group will be gathering to write songs this weekend. I'm excited.
Have a great Friday.

I shot this picture in Fairhope last week.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Old Photographs

Writing something tonight's been a struggle. I've been sitting here tapping keys for a while but that wasn't putting words on the page so I went to plan "B" which was to browse through old photographs and hopefully find something that sparked a thought.

That didn't help either, but I did come across a picture of my dad when he was about 20. He's standing (left) with my great uncle Elmer in what looks like a gangster suit. I have no idea where this was taken or what he was doing in a suit. 

I did notice his arm is in a sling. It looked like there were up to something or about to be. On a muse-friendly day, I would have made a story up...but that won't happen tonight. 

I hope you all have a great Friday.






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