Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sumac Sky

Tonight, I'm out of words so I'll leave you with a sumac sky.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The water

You can probably tell by flipping back through my posts from the past, that I'm fond of water.

Many of the major rivers in this country, flow through Alabama at one point or another. We're blessed with an abundance of creeks, lakes, ponds, and deep-green rivers. 

My dad bought a small lot on the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River in the late 1950s. I helped him build a small two-room cabin on the water. And I spent most of the summers during my high-school years at that cabin.

We had a small jon boat with a 10 hp Evenrude motor and I could drive a boat before I learned to drive a car...and I learned to drive a car young.

I learned to waterski in one lesson and got up on the skis the first time.

So, as you might imagine, I'm drawn to water. 

When I need to think, I'll often go somewhere close to water's edge and sit. Sometimes I don't figure out my dilemma, but I don't consider the time wasted.

A few weeks ago when I took the long way home, I passed by the scene below.  There was a car on my tail and I started to drive on, but I felt like the moment was too important, so I pulled to the side of the road and waved the tailgater around. 

I then slowly backed up and sat for a long moment. I'm glad I had the good sense to snap a picture before heading home for supper.

Monday, December 15, 2014


It wasn't that cold this even, but I got a little wet when I ran to the truck after work. It was only a fleeting shower, but it was enough to run down the neck of my sweater and soak my sox.  The forecast said it was only 53 degrees, but it felt as cold as the picture below.

I'm not sure what's happened the last year or so, but in the past, I rarely remember getting cold. It was almost as if my thermostat was on a sliding scale.

I'd wear a jacket if I thought about it, but it was no big deal if I forgot it. That's not the case now.

I guess that's another feature of getting older.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas at home

Thirty-one years ago this week we moved into our new home. We'd spent the first ten years of our lives together in a gray and white single-wide trailer that was cold in winter and so hot in August, we often sat in lawn chairs in the front yard of the trailer park until the mosquitos ran us inside.

I worked as a reporter at a weekly community paper and Jilda worked at a dress shop. Together our salaries were barely enough to pay the light bill and put a few groceries on the table. And then in 1976, my job outlook darkened when I was fired on January 15. As it turns out, it was also my birthday.

I was out of work a year, but we somehow made it through.

Then out of the blue, I got a call from G.M. Young, an old gentleman I'd befriended while working at the paper. It was December of 76 and he said that I should fill out an application with the phone company.

I'd never consider a career with the phone company, but my unemployment had run out and my prospects were thin, so I jumped at the chance.

After filling out a mountain of paperwork, and taking a battery of what I though were strange tests, I got the call. They offered me a job as a garageman beginning January 3, 1977.

I started out at $3.17 an hour for gassing up trucks. I thought I was robbing the phone company but I didn't share that with anyone. I showed up early and worked a little over each day.

We began saving for a house, and in 1983 we signed a contract to have our house built. It wasn't big or fancy, but it was something we could pay for. The thing that sold us was the vaulted roof with floor to ceiling windows in the living room that made it hard to tell where the outside world ended, and the inside world began.

In one way that seems like a lifetime ago, and then.... well, you can finish the sentence.

As I stand in our front windows this evening looking at our yard, I can see the first Christmas tree we had here. It was a white pine that I placed the Christmas star on without a ladder. It's now over 60 fee tall.

There are six other Christmas trees that we've had through the years that are visible through the windows.

Through the years with Ma Bell, we flourished and many people asked us why we didn't move to the south of Birmingham into one of the affluent neighborhoods, but we always resisted. Sure the drive was a pain, and the houses were much bigger, but I never saw one that looked like home

Saturday, December 13, 2014

This time of year

The sky was fairytale blue this morning with wispy clouds drifting off to the east.  I could smell woodsmoke from the neighbor's fireplace when I stepped out to feed the chickens. It was chilly last night leaving a layer of ice as thin as an onion skin on the birdbath.

Our great nephew Jordan's mom had to work today so he arrived early and had breakfast with us.
When the day warmed some, we headed out with an ax. We were on an annual Christmas mission. Each year since he's been old enough to walk, we've cut a small Charlie Brown Christmas tree from behind the barn and decorated it for him at his house.

On the walk down, he and Jilda sang Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. I wouldn't call it melodic, but I can say it was the most interesting version of Deck the Halls that I've ever heard.

The only rule for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree is that it has to be his choice.  Today's tree was actually a good one.

When I cut the small pine down, he insisted on dragging it home himself. He's growing so fast.

This evening, Jilda worked on her Christmas cards for a while. For the last twenty-five years she sketches them with pencil and then paints the cards with watercolor. Each year is a different design.  Some of our old friends have framed artwork with nothing but her cards they've received through the years.

Jilda made an Irish Fruitcake today and slipped it in the oven this evening. Dinner was hard to enjoy because of the aroma drifting from the stove. It was difficult not to sick my head into the oven and eat it while it baked.

But it was worth the wait.

I love this time of year. It's a sensual feast. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes can be so exquisite.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday stuff

My great nephew Jordan's folks had to work late today so I picked him up at school. I waited outside on the stone wall that just happens to be perfect for sitting in the afternoon sun like a river turtle on a log.

When he stepped through the door, he had his backpack over one arm and papers in his hand. His face lit up when he saw me there.

 I strapped the seatbelt around him and soon we were off. He didn't want anything to eat, so we aimed the truck toward home.

As we neared Sipsey, I said, "Do you want to run by the forks?"  "Sure!"  He's always ready to stop by the river. I'm not sure if it's because he knows I love the place so much, or if he's developed a love for the place himself.

We walked around and skipped a few rocks.  We sat on the bank in the sun for a long while. A blue heron took flight, dragging his long stick legs behind until he cleared the surface, and then gracefully glided down river for more peaceful surroundings. 

We sat in the sun for a long while before heading home.  He is growing up so fast. His bag was half full of books he'd bought at the book fair today. Ninjas, space travel, and 101 Gross Things were among the books. 

It's our intention to enjoy him while he still thinks we're cool.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sitting in for Santa

I got a call today at work from my nephew Haven. He's always jacking me around but he said, "Hello, is this Santa??

I said that it was Santa.

Then in his daddy voice, I heard him say, "Anthony is not eating is supper, could you have a word with him."

I told him I would and then he handed his phone to his son who is four.

"Anthony Haven Phillips," I thundered.

I heard nothing but silence on the other end, but I trudged on.

"I understand that you are not eating your supper?"

"You should eat your supper, and you should obey your mother and father," I said as I Ho Ho Ho'd.

"What do you want for Christmas?"

I could hear him saying some things timidly.

Then I told him I'd see him Christmas, and to be a good boy.

I heard him say, "Merry Christmas Santa."

I Ho Ho Ho'd as I hung up the phone.

A while later, I got a text from Haven saying his eyes were as big as saucers as I talked to him and that he ate everything on his plate.

I think I'd make a good Santa.

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