Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday happenings

It felt like early May here today. The sky was a shade of blue unseen here in summer. When the humidity begins to rise, it lifts a blanket of haze which can mute the blue making the sky look like a faded watercolor.

We ran errands early. At the big-box store, we picked up some flowers for the graves of my parents and brothers.

As Jilda fixed the flowers, I stood looking at the sky. Old cemeteries can be beautiful when the seasons begin to change.

This afternoon, I had a guy come and give me an estimate to clear underbrush on our property. As I sat in the yard waiting for him to find our house with his GPS, I sat on the stone bench.  It didn't take long to realize I needed a hat or my head would blister.

When he arrived, we walked the property and I pointed out the work I needed to be done. We agreed on a price, and as we walked back to toward the back gate, he saw the blueberries blooming. At first, he thought they were azaleas.   When I told him they were blueberries, he stepped over to have a closer look.

He has fruit trees and grapes as well. He was interested in the yield. I could tell he was a fit for what we work we needed.

In a few weeks, he'll show up with his crew and equipment. When then leave, I should be able to keep the place kempt with the tractor and bush hog. I'm excited.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sunset Palms

I know that when I said a while back that I would not post any more of the pictures from our beach get-a-way last month, it may have left you with the impression that I wasn't going to post any more pictures from our beach get-a-way.  But you would have been wrong because I sometimes lie. Well, to put some polish on it, my late friend John Elliot put it this way when describing another friend: "O.C. don't lie, he just remembers big." Skip replied, "It's true. I never lie, but I refuse to let the facts get in the way of a good story."

At any rate, I had nothing remarkable about which to write (is that shoddy grammar?) so I surfed for pictures (no pun intended.)

When I came across the picture of the palms at sunset, the colors spoke to me so I'm posting it.

I'll do better next time.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Humpday fun

One of the things missing when Jilda and I perform is getting decent pictures. While reading one of the songwriter's discussion groups, one of the participants suggested getting a selfie stick so that you could at least shoot a posed picture at each of the venues you play.

After thinking about this for a while, I ordered one from Amazon. It came today and after a few minutes assembly, I snapped a picture of my great nephew Jordan and me. I think it will work fine.

Today was a short day at school and rather than Jordan hanging around his Nana's office all afternoon, we swung by and boosted him from school.  He was thrilled and we had a great time. The temperature was almost 80 degrees F today and we spent most of the time outside.

We played toss the tree limb with Ol' Hook. The bulldog has chewed up the toys we've bought him, but I had a short stick of firewood about as round as the calf of my leg that we use as a fetch toy.  It's too heavy to toss far, but carrying it around seems effortless for Hook.

I hope your Wednesday has been a good one for you too.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Five years later

Last night after I posted, a reminder popped up on my phone reminding me that my mom died on February 20, 2012. Last night was the fifth anniversary of her death.

I'd felt a little off kilter for most of the day without knowing why.  The reminder was enlightening.

My mom had been going down for some time. Telling myself that "one day she would not be here," seemed at the time, as if I were preparing myself for the end... but it wasn't. It was the beginning.

You are never ready for losing a parent. My mom suffered toward the end of her life and when she took her last breath, most of the family and people who adored her were there. 

At first, I felt something that I thought was relief, and maybe it was.   But after the funeral flowers dried there were waves of sadness that even after five years have not ebbed. 

This much I know: if your folks are still alive, don't miss an opportunity to tell them how much them what they mean to you.






Monday, February 20, 2017

Toilet trouble ~ my column from Sunday's paper

This much I know for sure: Home ownership is NOT FOR WIMPS!

I’ve known this for ages, but I was reminded last weekend when I walked into my bathroom. There was an unpleasant smell. No, that’s an understatement. My bathroom smelled like one I encountered in Panama in the summer of 1972. It was in a waterfront tavern where drunken sailors from around the country came to tank up before setting back out to sea. The bathroom should have been condemned. But I digress.

In hindsight, I was naive to think it was something as simple as a leaking commode. I noticed a crack in it a while back and when I showed it to my nephew Haven, who is a plumber. He had several quips that are unsuited for a family newspaper. But after close inspection, he felt it was some kind of factory defect that we hadn’t noticed when we installed it last year. “Keep an eye on it, and if it leaks, we’ll replace it,” he advised.

When I called him the week before last after I discovered the stinky leak, he stopped by to check it out. Again, he had several “clever” remarks. I thought to myself, “He missed his calling. He should have been a comedian.” It was hard for me to smile much because the leak oozed under the vinyl tile which complicated the problem. The foul-smelling flooring would have to come up.

He pulled out the commode, and I headed to the big-box store for a new one along with the other things I’d need to complete the repairs.

The plan took shape — all I needed to do was rip out the flooring, fan dry the bathroom, scrub the area with an industrial strength cleaner, and allow it to dry. After that, I’d put down new flooring, and set the new fixture. I thought we’d be back to normal by Sunday night…but I thought wrong.

Sunday evening the subfloor was still damp, especially against the back wall. Moisture also seemed to be seeping out from under the shower stall. We began formulating “Plan B.” I scratched all the caulk from the seams of my walk-in shower.

After cleaning the seams with alcohol, I crawled around the bottom of the shower like a salamander squirting new caulk into cracks. The sealant smelled like the airplane glue we used to assemble model cars when I was a kid. After a few minutes of this, I got a buzz. A moment later I began seeing spiders and goats out of the corner of my eyes. “I need some fresh air,” I thought. Finishing the job took several other short sessions.

When this job was complete, I was satisfied the problem was resolved. Strike two.

The next morning there was more water in the corner.

I called the comedian and told him what I found. When he ran back by, he grinned as he said, “Looks like you got another leak.” I wanted to slap his jaws.

We pulled the fridge away from the wall and cut a hole in the sheetrock between the kitchen and bathroom. About halfway up where the pipes threaded through support studs, a tiny pinhole sprayed a little stream of water. Less than 10 minutes later the pipe was repaired, but then I had to start the long process of drying out everything and putting things back together. It would take a while.

Even though I cussed like a sailor for most of the afternoon, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. By next weekend, I should have my bathroom back in order.

Tonight I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I’m going to take a hot bath, and there’s about a 98 percent chance I’ll have a glass of wine sitting on the rim of the tub.

No, home ownership is not for wimps, and I’ve learned that a sense of humor is an asset.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ghost Ships

This morning was too warm for February. We drank coffee and checked email while we waited for the carrier to drop the newspaper in our box.

I think we are the only ones on our road that takes the Birmingham News, so I think we are the last drop she makes before heading home to her family.

When I opened the door, the dogs almost knocked me down to chase a nearby squirrel from the birdfeeders. It was foggy outside.

Halfway down to the paper box, I noticed a spider web in the huckleberry bush by the path. The morning dew had collected on the fragile threads of the web. It looked like a tiny ghost ship sailing across the foliage. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a few frames.

Further down the path, I noticed many more ghost ships in the trees and shrubs all around me. I think we were under some kind of attack. I've been edgy all day.

Hope Sunday hasn't been as spooky as ours :) .  


Saturday, February 18, 2017

A good morning

The place where Jilda works is beautiful. The facility blends into a woodsy setting and the lodges are constructed so that they fit in.

A few weeks ago we were heading up north on business and to make our appointment on time, we needed to head out after her early class on Wednesday morning.

Rather than sit in the parking lot and wait, I decided to go somewhere and have coffee.  On the way out the drive, I noticed the sunrise to the east. Pulling over to the side, I stepped out and took the morning scape.  The light on a pond just before the sun peeped over the horizon was incredible. You could see mist hovering over the surface and up in the sky, was the quarter moon.

I settled in at a McDonalds, sipped coffee, and wrote my column.  That sunrise in concert with a new writing venue, allowed the words to flow and in less that an hour I clicked the laptop closed and headed back to fetch Jilda. All in all, it was a good morning.



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