Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I've only spent two Thanksgivings away from home in my life. That was November 1971 when I was in radio school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and the following year when I was stationed in Panama.

I was short on money to fly home that year, but I did consider hitch-hiking to Alabama. It was during those years when drivers actually picked up hitch-hikers. Soldiers in uniform and an added advantage because people wanted to help servicemen in those days. But I only had four days off and I feared I'd get stuck on the road so I opted to spend Thanksgiving with one of my married classmates who lived off-base.

Thanksgiving is such a special holiday for me. It's always been about family, food, and celebrating all the abundance in my life.

The first Thanksgiving in New Jersey was hard because I wasn't home with my family, but having Thanksgiving with my friends softened the bruise, but the following year in Panama was brutal. It felt as if I were a million miles away.

I could close my eyes and smell the turkey and ham baking in the oven, and hear the din of laughter coming from the living room where my family and friends gathered waiting for the blessing to be said.

Today as my niece said the blessing over the turkey and dressing at our house, I thought about that day in Panama in 1971. It was a short mental journey on to the soldiers serving on active duty around the world today. I wish I could have had them all here at our house today so they would not spend this Thanksgiving feeling like they were a million miles away from home.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Be here

Driving home this evening, the full moon looked as big as a dinner plate through the trees. The moon ends 2015 by giving us two treats. A full moon on Thanksgiving morning, and another on Christmas Day.

I don't recall the last time that happened. I tried to get a picture this evening, but my attempts were tragic...well, actually tragic might be a little harsh, but sad seems to fit nicely.

So tonight I surfed through older photographs. I came upon a picture I took five years ago in December of 2011.

I could come up with some tired phrase about how fast time slips away, but the thing is, it's getting away at an alarming pace.

It seems as if the older we get, the grains in our hourglass get smaller and woosh through to the bottom of the glass much quicker than when we were younger.

The only way to guard against the passing of time is to be Pay attention. Blog. Otherwise, we'll wake up one day and wonder where it all went.

I hope you all have a remarkable Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Inspirational walk

Thanksgiving week is a wonky work week. Normally, I have all day Wednesday to sip green tea and write. But this week I'm workingWednesday. So much for leisurely writing.

Today I completed work a little early and decided to dive in head first and knock the column out. I made a steaming cup of peppermint tea and sat down to type. Nothing.

I tried all the old standby muse nudgers but none of them worked. I decided to do a new technique that I learned about called freewriting. That means you start typing the first thing that pops into your head and eventually an idea dislodges from a long nap from somewhere inside your mind and your off. I typed until my fingers bled...bruised...well actually they grew tired of typing and I decided to
take a walk.

The walk was refreshing. The sun was lounging on the western horizon, and a few beams filtered through the canopy to highlight a few lingering autumn leaves.

I paused and snapped.  A little further along, I snapped another one.

I was walking the new path and as I got near the barn I saw something in the underbrush.

Bending down, I scooted off the path to investigate.

What I found was an old RC Cola bottle with the neck broken off.

Mother Nature figured that since the bottle was no longer being used, she'd use it as a vase.

There was a fern growing from the mouth of the jagged glass, and when I held it up to the light, I could see the fern flourished inside the bottle too.

Mother Nature will not be denied.

When I got back to my laptop, the words seemed to flow much easier.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A lesson in fear ~ my column from Sunday's paper

NOTE: I used a piece of one of my posts last week in this column.

Fear is an interesting emotion. Most of the things I’ve feared in my life never happened. They were figments of my imagination.

Fear sometimes caused me to say and do things I regretted after the threat of danger had passed.

When I was a kid, the closest dentist was in the town of Cordova. The town was about eight miles away from our house and was situated near the banks of the Warrior River.

I HATED going to Cordova. It wasn’t just going to the dentist; it was because I was afraid of riding over the old bridge into town.

The steel structure had a wooden roadbed. Over the years, the bridge deteriorated and the ends of some of the boards broke off and fell into the river. The bolts fastening the wood to the structure had worked loose and rattled when cars or trucks drove over it.

My mother always drove slowly across that bridge. We had a 1957 Buick which weighed just slightly less than one of the Great Pyramids, and she always feared it was too heavy for the ancient structure.

Even driving slowly, the clattering sound of the wood on steel was almost deafening.

A few times, I conjured up enough courage to look out the windows as we crossed that bridge. In places, you could see through the missing ends of boards all the way to the water 40 feet below.

To say it made me uneasy would have been an understatement. In fact, my rear end almost chewed holes in the upholstery during those infrequent dentist trips. It was enough to make me brush my teeth with more diligence.

It wasn’t the bridge itself I feared, but images I conjured up of us plunging into the depths of the river and being trapped in the back seat as the ink-black water rushed in through the cracks and slowly turned the passenger compartment into an aquarium. By the time we arrived at the dentist’s office, I was usually exhausted. Fear does that to you.

Facebook is a blessing and a curse. I love looking at Facebook on special holidays when people are sharing pictures of the family and kids.

But during election time the posts on Facebook often get mean spirited. I try to keep my views on politics, religion and hot-button topics to myself because I prefer not to add to the noise.

Some of the things I saw on Facebook after the Paris attack and the subsequent backlash about America accepting Syrian refugees looked almost like headlines from the National Enquirer.

People are filled with fear and the thing that concerns me is we’re letting a handful of terrorists rule our thinking and our lives.

The only real thing these savages can do is to instill fear. This is their weapon of mass disruption. If they can make us fearful, have they not already won the battle?

Autumn berries

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday stuff

We had to bundle up to day on our morning walk because it was the coldest morning of the year. Breath steamed out of my mouth when we walked up the hill. Normally we do a long walk in the morning and then a short one in the afternoon if we need the steps to meet our daily goals, but today was packed.

We joined Jilda's sister and her family for lunch but we had to leave early because one of our friends died unexpectedly and the funeral was today.

She was a of those people who saw humor in unlikely places. I often laughed 'till I cried whenever we dined with them.

Today as we stood in line waiting for our few moments with the family, I thought about all those good times we all spent together...the fun we had, and when it came time for us to hug her husband, I choaked up.  He said as we stood there, I know she's mad she missed this party.

This evening when we got home, we still had things we needed to do. But as the sun sank down, I realized I was short on steps and decided to take a walk.

Jilda threw on her shoes, put a harness on the pooch, and we were off. On the last lap, I noticed light on some twisted trees I'd never noticed before. I knew I needed a photo for tonight, so I snapped a photo.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Summer's gone

Summer's gone. We've flirted with frost once, but tonight the temps will drop into the 20s. We spent much of the afternoon prepping plants and finding space for them inside the house.

The big ones came in yesterday, but we have a forest of smaller ones that we shove into every nook and cranny that gets light through the windows.

The hardest one to find a place for was the oldest plant of the bunch.  It's philodendron that once belonged to Jilda's grandmother. Though the years, the plant passed through the generations to Jilda. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House the first time she remembers seeing that plant. We finally got everything placed this evening.

Jilda then started going through the books. Any that she didn't want to keep, she put them in a pile for me to consider before they go to the thrift store.

The Zinnias bloomed until just over a week ago. When I knew their days were numbered, I snapped an art photo of the last one standing before mowing them into mulch.

Jilda has peas on the stove and baked sweet potatoes with beets roasting in the oven. Soon I'll whip up a pone of my world famous cornbread and we'll have our supper.

It's been a productive day. I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Neighbor's dogwood

I'd been dreading a task on my todo list for weeks. It's one of of those Important but not Urgent tasks that is OK to postpone for a while, but if you wait too long, you regret it.

My task was moving the citrus trees from outside the great-room windows inside. Several days ago there was a threat of frost, but I didn't get the trees moved inside. The cold snap didn't hurt them, but there is a hard freeze warning predicted here tomorrow night. Temps are expected to drop into the 20s which would do irreparable damage to the trees.

We've had them as long as I can remember, so I "man'd" up today and moved them inside. I didn't split my guts open as I feared, but by the time I finished I felt as if I'd gone 18 rounds with the young Cassius Clay.

The trees take up a great deal of space so Jilda had to do a lot of prep work to make room for them. She'd planned to cook supper, but she ran out of steam too. She suggested I go to Green Top BBQ and get us a BBQ Salad.  That sounded like a winner so in a flash I was off.

When I got back home, the setting sun highlighted the leaves on our neighbor's dogwood which stands at the corner of her yard a few feet from our driveway.  There was no traffic so I pulled to a stop, stepped out and shot a picture. Dogwoods are beautiful year around, but in the fall they are exquisite.

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