Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Locked out

Today has been jammed. I went to a city council meeting this morning. When I got out of the truck,  I had both arms full of stuff to take inside. Once the meeting was over, I headed out to the truck to go to another appointment, but I couldn't find my keys.

I traced my steps to see if I had dropped my keys on the way inside. Then I walked over and peered through the tinted glass. There they were dangling from the ignition. DANG! I thought.

I pulled the cell from my pocket and called Jilda at home. She was walking the dogs, but she hurried back inside and drove the 12 miles to the city hall to bring my spare key.

She didn't hound me or give me a hard time. She just opened the door, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "I'll see you later."

When I went to the newspaper office this afternoon, I stopped by the Ford dealership and had a spare key made.

Hopefully, I won't be stranded with keys locked inside my car again.

An old picture of the beast.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big Rocks

There is a mossy rock in the hollow behind our barn. It’s nestled under a canopy of oak, hickory, and pine trees. It’s a peaceful place. When my life gets crazy, I carve out enough time to visit the rock and think for a while. The sound of songbirds and whisper of the wind in the trees helps me find perspective – to put my life into balance. I don’t visit that big rock enough.
These past few weeks it seems I’ve spent my all my time juggling. The to-do list in my daily planner looks thicker than the U.S. tax code. Each time I strike one thing off, three more appear at the bottom. It seems the more my life gets out of balance, the more daunting the list becomes. It’s a pattern that repeats every few years. 
Just when I’m at the point of jabbing an icepick into my eye, I do a mental reset and go back to the basics. I know how to handle situations like this, but sometimes life and logic get tangled up.
Jilda and I took a class several years ago that put things into perspective. It was a Stephen Covey class entitled What Matters Most. He did an exercise with a volunteer from the audience that drove his concepts home.
On the podium was a bucket. Beside that were a few pounds of sand, some gravel, and some large rocks with things written on them like family, health, education, work life, money, and spirituality. The gravel represented things that weren’t as important but seemed urgent. The sand represented things that weren’t important but were URGENT!
He asked the volunteer to pour the sand into the bucket and then asked them to put in the gravel. Lastly, he asked them to fit the big rocks into the container. 
No matter how hard the volunteer tried, they could not fit the bigger rocks into the container. They simply would not fit. The volunteer had to leave the rocks representing family, health, or education out of the bucket. That bucket represented our lives. 
When it was obvious that all the rocks wouldn’t fit into the bucket, he pulled out another bucket. This time he had the volunteer put the big rocks in first. Then they poured in the gravel, followed by the sand. This time they all fit. The key was to put the big rocks in first.
This exercise made a tremendous impression on both Jilda and me. We’re both great at putting out fires. In fact, we are professionals. But so many of those fires are like candles that the wind will blow out in time. 
This afternoon, I wandered down to my big mossy rock and spent some time meditating on the big rocks in my life. When I got home, I scanned my to-do list and moved about 90 percent of them to my “Ain’t Gonna Happen” list. 
I already feel more in balance.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Waning Zinnias

It's been a low-key Sunday for both Jilda and me. We laid down after lunch for a nap and didn't bother to set a timer. I think I may have slobbered on my pillow.  After the nap, I decided to do something productive. Cutting the grass was on top of my list so I got to it.

This afternoon a breeze out of the west was cool but the sun was warm. That means it was perfect weather to cut grass. Topping off the tank of the old John Deere, I started mowing.

Cutting around the garden, I had considered mowing down the Zinnias. As I approached them I cut the engine and got off to inspect. Normally, these beauties thrive and decorate our mantel and bathrooms until frost. But these are beginning to look sad. The late August and September heatwave had its way with the plants.

The butterflies still had not given up on the flowering beauties and I thought it would be a shame if I did. So I gave them a reprieve for a few more weeks. Maybe if we get rain, they'll make a comeback.

I hope your Sunday has been a lazy day too.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Anything less

We had a show tonight with our good friend Joe Greg. He's a steelworker and gets very few days off work. He took vacation so that he could play with us tonight. And we were grateful that he joined us.

We had a small but enthusiastic crowd. We knew going in that we were up against SEC football. This is not our first rodeo. 

Some songwriters and bands get discouraged when the crowd is not overflowing. We take a different view. Each person that comes to see us deserves the very best we have to offer. We played and sang as if we were at the Astrodome playing to 50,000 screaming fans. We would never consider doing anything less.

This pictures was taken a few years ago.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Getting vitamin D

I had my last therapy session early this morning. After I hugged necks and shook hands with all my therapy peeps, I swung by Starbucks for a coffee and a paper. 

Once home, I grabbed my laptop and headed to work. I soon knocked out the first draft of a feature and the  wrote a news story. 

Wrapping up, I headed to the house. This was our first chilly day, but it was warmer in the afternoon. Heading out to the back deck, I sat in the sun to get some vitamin D. Samantha's dog Lady came out to join me. 

Sitting back in the Adirondack chair, I decided to meditate for a few minutes. My eyes were closed so I never saw Lady as she slipped up to me and gave me sugar. I took a selfie of us and sent it to her mama.

Lady, Hook, and Caillou had jumped a deer earlier in the day when Jilda walked them. Lady still had beggar lice on her nose from the chase.

Samantha is saving for a house of her own. Both Jilda and I told her that she could move, but she had to leave Jordan and Lady with us. I don't think she's convinced yet but we're standing our ground :)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Failure to communicate

I've always prided myself with my ability to communicate. Being able to express myself with kids, professionals, and people like me who grew up dirt poor is important to me. But today, I had a failure to communicate. 

I saw the company that trims power right of ways in our neighborhood last week. I called the power company and told them I wanted a supervisor to call me and discuss what needed to happen in my yard when the trimmers got to my address.

The supervisor's office was in Tuscaloosa which is an hour and a half from here, but he drove to my house.

I was working but Jilda explained our situation. He assured us he would have the crew chief talk to me before the crew cut the first limb.

The crew chief came at 7:30 this morning. I walked outside holding a mug of coffee and we walked through the yard. He said the oak limbs hanging over the power lines would have to be trimmed back. I knew that and had no problem with that.

He said they would have to snip a few limbs off the dogwood. I flinched a little and he assured me that it wouldn't be that much.

He mentioned a couple other places that needed a little attention and we shook hands.

I had an appointment to interview someone just before lunch and when I got back, I quickly saw they were trimming more than what I was promised. 

I grabbed my cell and called the crew chief. He was a few miles down the road. By the time he got there, they had trimmed our hemlock. We've had that tree over 20 years and it was barely 15 feet tall. It would never have grown tall enough to have been a problem around the power lines. 

When the supervisor walked up, he knew I was angry. I told him to tell the guys to stop cutting. "You are through cutting in my yard," I told him.  They started packing up.

He apologized and said he thought we were on the same page. I told him that I thought the same thing. I also told him I would do a better job explaining the next time.

I rarely get angry. In fact, I don't remember the last time I was angry. It bothers me that I let this get to me. But this place is our home. We planted almost every tree, shrub, and flower here. Most of them have stories behind them. 

This much I know for sure. The next time these folks come around there will not be a failure to communicate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Woke up to the rain

I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof and a gentle ticking of the rose-of-sharon bush outside our bedroom window.

The weather-folk said we could have rain later today at the earliest. But the hurricane in the Gulf changed the dynamics in the atmosphere.

Jilda and I shoe'd up after coffee and headed out for a walk. The rain had stopped but the grass was wet enough to dampen our shoes and sox.

The light was a little wonky, but there were a few photo ops. The yellow heart is a muscadine leaf and the red is what I think they call pin oak.

The hurricane made landfall on the Panhandle of Florida and moved over southern Alabama. A cold front from the west is pushing the circulation eastward. It's now over Georga heading for the Atlantic.

If any of you are in the path of the wind, stay safe.

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