Thursday, February 26, 2015


We felt a little smug this morning. The lights blinked a time or two last night, but the power remained on.

The coffee pot had just beeped, signaling that it was ready for sipping when I heard the tell-tale BOOM. The power shut off immediately and all I could hear was the whisper of our ceiling fan twisting every-slowly to a stop. 

A few seconds later, I heard the UPS on my computer chirping. I know I have about three minutes to shut my computer down gracefully before it cuts the battery backup power to the computer. I hustled into the computer room and shut it down before it died.

The power was off a few hours before the roads cleared enough for repair trucks to make it through.

Stepping down to the chicken pen, the ground and trees looked like a Christmas card. I snapped a couple photos with my phone before heading into the pen.

The chickens were sleeping in and went wild when I came in to fill the feeders. 

Just after lunch, the power came back on and not long afterwards, the sun came out. The light reflecting off the snow was blinding.  

My great nephew Jordan came over to help me shovel the snow off the steps and sidewalk. A deer bounded through the yard while we shoveled. A few minutes later, a bird dog  I never saw before bounded up the yard, apparently in pursuit.

If the roads are passable, I'll head into work for a while tomorrow. The last few snow days were a nice littly vacation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow day

I kept thinking we'd dodge the frosty bullet this year but didn't happen. Sleet began ticking off the
deck around 1 p.m. and within minutes, snowflakes as big as silver dollars began falling. 

I snapped this picture after about 15 minutes. It's now 7 p.m. and it's still falling outside.

Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan came over to play for a while. 

Out in the garden, Jordan built a fort and we had snow battles. 

We also rolled up a couple snowmen.

After about an hour, his teeth were chattering, but he didn't want to go back inside, but his mom persisted.

I will still be on the ground in the morning, but the forecast calls for temps in the low 40 so it will probably begin to melt by mid-morning.

I just received an automated message that school has been cancelled tomorrow so it will be a snow day.

The lights are flickering, so I'm hoping we keep power. Y'all stay warm.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow pie

I drank the last of the milk when I raided the fridge after midnight last night. A glass of milk and a few gingersnaps set me right. When I mentioned to Jilda this morning that I drank the last of the milk, she smiled and I wasn't sure why.

It hit me this evening when I stopped by Walmart to pick up a fresh carton. They are predicting snow here tomorrow. We make fun of people who storm Walmart to pick up milk and bread at the first hint of snow.  Sure enough, when I went in, the dairy aisle looked as if locusts had descended on the area and picked it clean.

Leaning close to the cooler window, I stood on my tiptoes to get a better view of the cooler. Deep in the back, I saw one carton out of arm's reach on the top shelf. I called one of the stockmen over.  He stood on the edge of the cooler and pulled it out for me. I could have gotten it myself, but I didn't want to be on News at 11 - Walmart customer breaks a hip crawling into a cooler for the last carton of milk.

Dropping the milk in my buggy I made a Beeline for the register, avoiding the bread aisle on the journey. Fortunately,  I didn't see any friends or acquaintances.

Jilda and I will both be off tomorrow so hopefully we won't have to deal with getting out in the white stuff.

I'd be willing to bet our great nephew Jordan will come over and serve up some snow pies.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Taking off the training wheels

My wife, Jilda, wrote a poignant blog post about training wheels this week. Her blog, entitled “Transformation Information,” is about embracing life changes.
The inspiration for her entry was when our great nephew Jordan learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The sheer joy on his face with those first few feet of freedom made my heart soar along with his. I experienced that sensation in my life many times when I outgrew my training wheels.
I guess you could say my dad was like “training wheels,” as I learned to drive. He’d slide over close to me when I slipped behind the wheel and speak as calmly as a monk as he gave me the basic instructions.
“Not too heavy on the gas,” “Be mindful of the chickens, they’re not smart,” and “Keep it between the RC signs,” were some of the instructions I remember him giving.
The first time I drove alone, my heart soared like the proverbial eagle.
I felt a similar sense of triumph this past week when my first group of students received training certificates.
They came through the BACK TO WORK 50+ at Bevill State Community College last month. Six of them received scholarships to attend Computer Office Familiarization training. This training puts them closer to finding a job.
I coached these students over the past few months, and some of them seemed almost defeated. They had been unsuccessful in their job search.
Requirements for most jobs include a basic understanding of computers. Applicants without those skills never get an interview.
On the last day of classes, I stopped by to join in the celebration. We all lined up to pose for a picture. Everyone had a reason to smile. In a sense, these folks took off their training wheels and learned something life-changing. As we stood there, my spirit soared along with theirs.
It takes courage to remove the training wheels. “What if I stumble? What if I fail?”
Fear can be immobilizing. It seems like such a long time ago, but I remember being fearful to start back to college.
What if I’m too old?
What if I’m not smart enough?
What if I fail? These questions kept me up at night as I struggled with the decision about going back to school.
Looking back, it almost seems comical. School wasn’t a breeze, but when times got tough, I buckled down and did the work.
In May of 1997, I graduated with a master’s degree. Marching across the stage to receive my diploma with my mom and other family members looking on was a highpoint in my life. My heart soared.
This much I know for sure: training wheels are a great place to begin. You find your balance and get comfortable without the fear of falling.
The only way you’ll ever experience the bliss that comes with that first ride alone is to lose the training wheels. I can promise you, your heart will soar.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter's last hurrah

February is the hardest month of the year for me. Even though it's the shortest, it seems twice as long as the others.

We still have another week left of the month, and I would never wish away even an instant of my life, but it's tempting. It's been my least favorite month for as long as I can remember.

In the future, maybe I should move to the tropics for the month of February. Somewhere where the sun is warm and you can sit by a restless sea at sunset and drink fruity cocktails out of plastic cups with colorful umbrellas.

I'd probably have to go alone because Jilda loves winter and all that it brings. She likes walking when air escapes her mouth in huffing clouds. Caillou would stay with her because with fur as thick as a mink coat, he hates summer.

I guess the easiest thing for me to do is to stop whining and embrace winter's last hurrah.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Unlikely Improvements

There's an ancient oak down by the barn. Lightning lite it up about five years ago but it took a while for it to give up the ghost.

I realized back last summer that it needed to come down, but standing precariously close, I wasn't sure if I could take it down without putting it through the roof of the barn. So I put the task on my todo list of stuff that I really need to do.

A few years ago when I remodeled the barn, I focused on the parts that were damaged most. The front and side facing the north and east were the worst.  In places, the only thing holding the roof up was wood so bad that hungry termites wouldn't eat it.

The back of the barn was unsightly, but it was solid enough, so I decided to do that at a later time.

Fast forward to Thursday evening when a cold front pushed a squall line screaming before it. My front yard was covered with limbs and debris from someone else's yard.

This evening when Jilda and I walked between rain showers, we strolled to the barn. When we rounded the corner of the creative space, I realized the wind had taken the old dead oak down.

Fortunately, the ancient roof escaped major damage when only a small limb landed on it. But the back of the structure took the brunt when a section of trunk as big around as my waist, raked down the side of the barn.

Oh No! Was a thought that crossed my mind first. But when I got a closer look, I saw that none of the supporting studs or rafters were damaged.

As it turns out, the falling deadwood ripped the old siding off which will actually make repairing the barn easier.

So I guess you could say the storm did $300 worth of improvements.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thinking about my mom

Three years ago this afternoon, my mom died. All of her living children, and most of her grandchildren were sitting on the bed around her.
She had a massive stroke earlier in the week and had been unresponsive in the end, but I like to think she knew we were all there.
The last years of her life were not happy ones. My dad died in 1986 at the age of 63 and she never remarried.  
She lived alone for many years in a house with dark paneling that seemed more like a cave when the curtains were drawn. But she rarely let the light inside.
Things changed when she had a reaction to some medications, and once in the hospital, tests revealed she had massive coronary blockages. Things leveled out after doctors cleaned out her arteries and installed a pacemaker.
Not long afterward she went to live with my older sister. She was never happy with the arrangement but  admitted reluctantly that it was best.
Through the years, her health went downhill making it necessary to move her to a senior facility and that's where she died at 4 p.m. on February 20, 2012.
We buried her next to my dad a few days later in the old cemetery near where she lived most of her life.
I like to think that her spirit smiled as she was laid to rest, close enough to my dad to hold hands if they wanted to.
My mother and dad on their wedding day,
August 27, 1942

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