Friday, September 04, 2015


I'm a sucker for those lists. It's hard to say why, but I am. This one was a challenge from the BBC which said that most Americans had read six or fewer books on their list of 100 important books.

I went to the list and began looking for ones I'd read. There were several that I had not read, but when I finished clicking, I'd read 28. I was a little embarrassed that I hadn't read more of them.

For many years, I focused on Self Help books. I could get those free at the library where I worked. Later I migrated to best sellers and they were enjoyable, but few of the best sellers never end up on lists of "important books."

Then after I retire and focused more one writing, I began to read more of the classics. One book on the list from the BBC that was also on my "Reading List" was 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

I bought the book this week and began reading it. I'm about 100 pages in and I found that I'm enjoying it more than I thought.

If you're up to the challenge, click on the link below and put a checkmark in the boxes of the books you've read. I expect a full report from each of you :)

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

No idea

I searched for the name of this roadside grass, but I couldn't find it. One picture I found called it  Pennisetum but when I searched on that name I got a different kind of feathery grass.

I shot this picture yesterday on the way home. The sun to the west was highlighting it and a quick look in the mirror showed no cars on my bumper, so I pulled to the side, hopped out and shot a few snaps.

So not only do I have no idea what kind of grass this is, I also have no idea of what to write tonight.
What do you write about when you have no idea?

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


A lonesome stand of ironweed grew stealthily at the edge of the garden. I walked by it daily and never noticed it until today when I glimpsed a patch of purple out of the corner of my eye.

Stepping to the edge to get a better look, I could see the ironweed had just begun to bloom with grape-colored blossoms, but many of the nodes had not yet opened.

I actually didn't know the name of the plant until I Googled it. There are so many of Mother Natures gifts that I cannot name. A while back I'd stopped by the bookstore and bought a book on wild plants and trees of Alabama. I remembered that book this afternoon and pulled it from my shelf and put it by my computer for reference. 

One of the things writing coaches recommend is to be more precise in your writing. That's easier said than done. I think knowing the names of some of the plants I write about would be a good start.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The thing to do

Finishing up at work on time today, I headed home arriving just as Jilda was walking out the door to go teach at the rehab center.

I spent an hour writing on the screen porch. I'm working on the column that's due tomorrow and after a while, I could feel my muscles and joints were epoxafying (is that a word.)

Walking to the back deck, I grabbed my walking stick and headed out toward the barn with Caillou. The last several days of low humidity and cooler temps had spoiled me. Today, neither were a factor. While it wasn't oppressively hot, the humidity was as thick as grits.

By the time I'd made the first lap, my shirt looked as if someone had hosed me down.  After walking up the road in front of our house to check for litter,  I swung down through the yard. The mammoth water oak in the front yard keeps the noonday sun at bay, making the house cooler.  But the evening sun slips beneath just before it disappears below the horizon and bathes the flower garden in a few precious moments of sunlight.

It was during those moments when I walked by the flowers sitting by our front walk. I snapped a picture of the impatiens in the rock vases.  A gurgling fountain was just out of the picture.

Finding a place on the side porch steps, I sat for a while because it seemed like the thing to do.

Monday, August 31, 2015

National Dog Day ~ Column from Sunday's paper

I smiled this morning while looking at my calendar when I realized that it was National Dog Day. It seems every few days is some kind of holiday. Many of them do not resonate with me, but National Dog Day is one I can embrace.

Through the years, we’ve had great dogs. All of them were either given to us or wandered into our lives. There must be some kind of canine sign that says, “For a good meal and a warm bed, go to Rick and Jilda’s house.” Most of the mutts had dubious pedigrees, but that didn’t stop them from nuzzling they way into our hearts.

A longhaired German Shepherd named Duke was the first dog that owned us. I have hundreds of photographs we took of him through the years. He loved to ride.

During the summer, I would leave the back window of my old Plymouth Valiant open. The instant Duke heard the rattle of keys he was off like a shot, diving into the backseat like a stunt dog.

Later when I bought my first pickup, he rode in the back to Grand Rapids, Michigan with us. When it began to rain and sleet, he shared the bucket seat with Jilda through most of Indiana.

He lived with us for 13 years and when he died, we both wept as if we’d lost a child.

There was a story in my first book Remembering Big that detailed how another mutt named Ol’ Buddy came to live with us.

He was a snarky little critter that belonged to Jilda’s mom. I despised that little beast but when Ruby broke her hip and was hospitalized for weeks, it fell to me to feed Ol’ Buddy.

Each day when I went to feed him, he would race out of her house, run to the spot where she’d fallen, and look in the direction the ambulance had taken her.  I did the same routine for weeks. He ate very little, and I was afraid he would grieve himself to death before Ruby made it home.

One Saturday when I went to feed him, I just sat down on the ground beside him. I had a couple of Slim Jim sausages and I broke off and fed him little pieces while sitting with him staring down the road.

Slowly he crawled up into my lap and we sat there for a long time. After a while, we stood and he followed me to the truck.

He lived with Jilda and me for many years.

Some dogs bonded with me, and others, not so much. We had one dog we named Gibson. She adored Jilda and would not have cared if aliens had abducted me. That little short-legged lab (mix) lived to be almost 17.

Our friends share pictures of their kids and grandkids, but I always reach for my phone to show pictures of our pups.

As I type these words, Caillou the wonder Collie is at my feet.

He and our little Yorkie look like thoroughbred dogs, but we don’t hold that against them.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you hug your mutt in honor of National Dog Day.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Exploring the underbrush

Walking down the path behind the barn these last few days brings the changing color into sharper focus. The muted oranges and ambers of the canopy become more pronounced with each passing day. 

We took a misty walk this afternoon. The rain over the last few days was easing off to the east, but the lingering moisture made the trees weep.  

The earth smelled damp, and rich with rotting leaves and limbs.  Off the beaten path, the ground was spongy and I could see hundreds of mushrooms in the undergrowth. I decided to do a challenge offered a few times by one of my blog buddies which was to take a normal picture and one of the same subject with the Hipstamatic app I use so often.  

You should be able to tell which one is which below. Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hay is for chickens

We started planting our winter garden this morning. Beets, kale, turnips, and lettuce. We also planted a few hills of pumpkins. I'm thinking it might be a little late for pumpkins, but we'll see.

I weeded the blueberry bushes and spread pine-bark mulch around the roots.

The tropical storm Erika is headed into the Gulf of Mexico. The sun warmed the morning up nicely, but the radar showed these waves heading toward us. I wasn't sure how long the rain would last so I decided to cut the grass.

I bought a few bales of hay to spread in our chicken pen to freshen up their space. I unloaded one bale in the ergonomic wheelbarrow to haul down to the pen. The sun seemed to be spotlighting the hay so I snapped a quick picture.

By lunchtime most of my work was done. So I spent the afternoon reading. I hope your day has been as enjoyable as mine.

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