Tuesday, June 27, 2017


A few weeks ago I posted a picture of the old Masonic Lodge in the old town. There's nothing left but potholes, kudzu, and brambles as thick as a broom.  We'll, there are the old pictures taken through the years and the memories.

When I was a kid, the wall on the west side of the main street had a fresh coat of austere gray paint stroked on it every few years. I'm guessing the railroad did that. The wall was the only thing between main street and the trains that rocked and rumbled through the old town as regular as clocks back then. The only paint on that wall these days is sprayed on by teenage lovers and seniors from the high school a few miles away. WE ARE AWESOME, WE ARE GREAT, WE ARE SENIORS 98. And so on.

Sometimes graffiti on that old wall is ugly and often vulgar. But sometimes when the angle of light falls in a flattering way, it can be beautiful.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Father’s Day got me to thinking about the mentors in my life. My father taught me things that have been vital throughout my life. My grandfather and an uncle were iconic in my life, but there were also mentors who were unrelated by blood. The contributions of my mentors often seemed insignificant at the time. But when looking back over my life, I’m humbled by the things they chose to share with me.

One mentor in my early life was Cecil Kitchens. He was an old mechanic that worked on our cars and lawnmowers. Mr. Kitchens who lived on Red Star Hill near Old Dora was the best mechanic around according to my dad. After a few visits to his shop, he became number one in my book too. Cecil’s shop was orderly. His hand tools were as clean as spoons.

When people brought machines to him for repair, the first thing he did was listen to the customer. He’d nod as they described knocks, sputters, and squeaks. He always did a visual inspection of the mechanism. His approach to his work was methodical. I credit Mr. Kitchens for my problem-solving skills.

Throughout my life whenever I’m working on a device, I think of how Mr. Kitchens looked and listened before putting wrench to metal. Thanks to Cecil, I’m able to fix things.

Several of my teachers in school taught me things that my report card did not reflect. Not the least of which was “Always Do Your Homework.”  Even today when I have a meeting at work or at one of my volunteer efforts, I always do my homework. I realized the importance of this lesson after years of meetings. When someone comes unprepared, it is a waste of everyone’s time. Not doing homework is rude and expensive.

Another mentor that stands out in my mind is Dale Short. I’m sure he’ll blush when he reads this, but
Writer Dale Short
it’s true. He taught me to take photographs. He also taught me the love of writing and the importance of working on the craft daily.  We worked together at The Community News in Sumiton just after my tour in the Army. The job didn’t pay a lot, but what I learned during my time there was priceless.

G. M. Young was a general manager for the phone company back in the 70s. I met Mr. Young at a city council meeting. He started hanging out the paper office. We’d all drink coffee now and then. We talked about business, politics, and the meaning of life.

When I left my job at the paper, I lost touch with Mr. Young. My cousin Tommy Lowery hired me at his package store to pump gas and load beer. I worked there almost a year while I looked for a job. One day Mr. Young stopped by the station for gas. He stepped out of his company car and leaned against the door as I filled his tank and cleaned his windshield. He asked if I’d ever thought about working for the phone company. I told him I was looking for a job and would do most any kind of work. He pulled a slip of paper from his pocket and wrote down a name and phone number.

At break time, I called the number and asked for Mildred Clayton. She was a hiring manager for MaBell. She told me to come in and take a battery of tests. Before leaving that day, she asked me to report to work on January 3, 1977. I was thrilled.

Working for the phone company allowed me to buy a new home, attend college, travel, and meet amazing people through the years. I often wonder if Mr. Young realized the impact he had on my life.

It doesn’t cost money to be a mentor, but they often share something much more valuable –knowledge, empathy, and time.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Soggy bottom

The sun returned this afternoon. The remnants of tropical storm Cindy moved off to the east leaving Alabama as soggy as a baby's bottom.

I took my second cup off coffee outside and walked down to the garden. All but one tomato plants are prone on the ground. They are OK, but when it drys enough, I'll sink posts on each end and string wire across the garden and then secure the tomato baskets to the wires. This should keep them erect for the rest of the summer barring a hurricane.

Most of the sunflowers were also blown over. They were lying on the ground with blooms the size of softballs. We'll try to get those up as well, but it might be easier to cut the blossoms off and have a beautiful bouquet for a few days. We'll see.

I shot the picture below of our sunflowers on this day in 2010. It was a little gnarly so I art'ed it up for tonight's post.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Butterfly Screen

Jilda and I played tonight at a coffee house north of here. We are late getting home. I didn't have a picture from today, but I found one I shot on this day seven years ago. It suits me tonight.
The bed is calling.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wet day

It was a rainful day today. (Is that a word?) The outer bands of the tropical depression keep sweeping over us every few hours. Once the rain stops, the sun comes out and makes it steamy. One thing is for sure, we are no longer in a drought. In fact, our rivers are fat.

After the last line blew through, I decided to run to the hardware store to get a new flap for Jilda's commode. The device had been in since Clinton was in the Whitehouse.

Halfway to the nearest town, a member of the local fire and rescue flagged me down. A tree and power lines had fallen on the road. I had to find an alternate route.

Backtracking, I went around the problem. Picking up the new part, I headed toward the crib. After a few minutes, the problem was resolved.

Ol' Hook and Caillou had cabin fever so I took them out for a quick walk before the rain returned. On the way back, I snapped a picture of our lavender Rose-of-Sharon that's blooming at the corner of the house. Jilda will call me a copy cat since she took a similar picture this past week. But pickings were slim when you're dodging bolts of lightning.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This is not a drill

I had an appointment with my knee doc today after lunch. Taking the backroads gets me there faster, but I go through no man's land when it comes to cell coverage. My phone read NO SERVICE most of the way. When I reached the crest of one of the hollows, my phone began screeching. This can't be good, I thought to myself.

When I got to a wide spot in the road, I pulled over to see the message. The National Weather Service had just issued a Tornado Warning. This is not a drill campers – duck and run for cover.

I wasn't sure if the alert was directed at my home zip code or where I was currently idling beside the road.

I had a strong enough signal to call Jilda. I knew she was taking a short nap before heading to her job but this was important. She grabbed the phone and in an instant was in the TV room watching the weather.  She said the storm is headed for you. CRAP. I had no place to seek shelter where I sat so I jammed the truck in gear and scrambled toward the doctor's office where I knew they had a safe room. Less than five minutes later, I parked and was heading inside. The county tornado sirens began to wail before I got inside the building.

At the front desk, all the nurses and admins were glued to the TV set in the lobby. The tornado was on the ground but it was a few miles east and south of us. They showed me where the safe room was and we all watched the electronic progress of the storm on a wide-screen TV.

As often happens, this storm lifted. A few minutes later, the warning moved to other parts of the county. All I saw were angry clouds and torrential rain.

Nothing like a little excitement to test the blood pressure medicine.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rainy day

It's been an old rainy day. The outer bands from Tropical Storm Cindy swept north from the southeast drenching everything in its path. It could rain for days.

Jilda and I were both off today. We took her to the dentist early this morning for a temp tooth. I'll let her tell about that here.

Neither of us has slept well for the last several days so tonight we plan to get an early start.  If you live in the path of Cindy, keep an umbrella handy.

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