Thursday, December 08, 2016


This evening after work was the annual Christmas Parade in our hometown. It's sponsored by the chamber of commerce and I do the website and social media for the organization so I stayed after work and shot pictures.

Parades are always fun to watch at any age, but the kids are what make them special. Walking the parade route before it began, the kids along the way were cranked.

I'm off tomorrow and I plan on sleeping in until at least 6:30. Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Remembering Uncle Marvin Lee

I have December 7, highlighted on my calendar. It's the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My Uncle Marvin Lee Ferguson died. He was just a kid having the time of his life in the U.S. Navy. I scanned several pictures from my mother's picture albums. Uncle Marvin Lee had sent home to his family in the weeks prior to the attack. 

On that Sunday morning, he was on board the USS California which was one of the battleships in the harbor on that fateful morning. 

It was before I was born so I never met Uncle Marvin Lee, but my mother teared up when she spoke of him.

He was the first soldier to die in WWII in this county.  The local  VFW is named after him.

He has a headstone at the family cemetery near Jasper, but I'm not sure his body was ever recovered. I should have asked my mom, but I never thought to ask.

War is a dirty business. I know there are times when it's difficult to avoid, but the cost is staggering. There are victors, but I'm not sure there are ever winners.

USS California ~ Navy Photograph

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Slow news day

Recycling is almost non-existent where we live. When my nephew became publisher of the local paper back in the summer, one of the first things he did was start recycling newsprint. But to recycle glass, cardboard, plastic, and other items we have to haul it the thirty miles to Birmingham.

We recycle as much as we can, but cardboard is a hard one.  We're mindful of landfills, and we're aware of polluting the atmosphere, but we can't eat it...not yet anyhow. So, I wait for a windless day, and I burn the cardboard in our burn area at the edge of the yard. 

We stopped burning cardboard back in the summer long before the governor declared a state of emergency and instituted a burn ban. 

I took our cardboard to the tool shed and stacked it neatly in the corner at first. But after almost five months, whenever we had cardboard, I'd open the door to the tool shed toss the cardboard in and slam the door before it tumbled out.

It's rained almost every day this past week and today's headline read, "Governor lifts burn ban." This evening when I got home, the air was still thick as a curtain with misting rain, but I piled up a mountain of cardboard and began to burn. It took about 10 trips between the shed and the burn area, but I finally rendered it to gray ash. I then took a shovel and tossed damp soil on the pile to prevent it from spreading though I felt sure it wasn't going anywhere. 

Afterward, I went back to the shed, and it had miraculously tripled in size on the inside.  

I guess you can tell by this entry that it's a slow news day in Empire.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Be kind to all ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Thanksgiving has evolved through the years for the Watson household. Looking back, celebrating this special holiday with our parents were some of the best memories of my life. But when they passed on, things changed for us. We now make Thanksgiving Dinner (lunch) for family and an eclectic collection of friends that have no other place to go on Thanksgiving.

Everyone I know loves this holiday and the recent trend of making Thanksgiving just another shopping day is disturbing. We decided never to shop on Thanksgiving or the day after. I don’t care that I can get a great deal on a flat-screen television. Everyone deserves time with family on Thanksgiving.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went to Walmart for a few items. The woman who checked us out looked frazzled. The place had been a madhouse over the holidays, and she’d had her quota of rude customer and people who treated her poorly. We’ve been through her line several times, and she’s usually upbeat and smiling. On this visit, she looked raw and tired.

On the way home, Jilda was somber. She was in retail for over 20 years, working every Black Friday and Christmas Eve. It was rare that customers were rude to her back then, but it happened. I’m not sure why some people think that spending a few dollars at a place of business gives them the right to treat those who work there like chattel.

I witnessed this in October standing in line at a local department store. We were behind a man who was buying a shirt, and while we only heard bits and pieces of the conversation, the look on the young sales clerk’s face was telling. When the man finished, he stormed off. I’m guessing he was looking for someone else to abuse. When we stepped up to the counter, the young girl, who was new on the job, had tears in her eyes.

We spoke to her kindly, and within a few moments, she looked as if a weight lifted from her brow. I made a few observations about the abuser and probable causes for his behavior. By the time we left, she was smiling.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. and ordered a deli tray from Walmart. I placed the order a few days before, and without thinking it through, I told them I’d pick it up at 9 a.m. When I arrived at the store an hour early, I hoped it would be ready. It wasn’t. A young woman who’d never prepared a deli tray before was working on it. I looked at my watch and realized that if I didn’t get the tray soon, I’d be late for my meeting.

The alpha male voice which originates in a dark part of my brain kept firing off suggestions for snippy things to say. “Snort! Tap your foot! Look annoyed! Ask her if she plans to finish that tray today!”

Then the wiser voice, asked a simple question, “Who’s at fault here? Did you tell them you’d pick it up at 9 a.m.?” I took a deep breath and smiled at myself. I watched the young woman put the tray together with care. Finishing the job, she smiled as she sat the tray on the counter. “It looks nice, don’t it?” I told her it did and that I was going to recommend that her boss double her salary. She beamed, and I did too.

Maybe we should celebrate Thanksgiving daily.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Snow's a comin'

Last week it was so hot here that I contemplated walking naked. I apologize for that visual folks I hope you can forget it and forgive me for using it, but I needed contrast because next weekend the weatherman says we could have snow! Jilda yipped with glee when she saw the forecast because that's when we're going to get our Christmas tree.

A few years ago as we walked the hills and hollows of Pine Hill Farms looking for our Christmas tree, snowflakes began to fall. As we stepped into the gift shop to pay, the aroma of hot apple cider greeted us. We sipped tea as we browsed and watched the snow falling out the windows.

The truck had a light dusting on the rails of the bed as we loaded the tree but it was gone by the time we pulled into our driveway.

In the spirit of that forecast, I'm posting a picture from that same year. I hope you all have had a remarkable weekend.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Just another rainy Saturday :)

Our great nephew Jordan and great niece Breeze had a swim meet today in Birmingham so we headed out just after coffee. The skies were already thick with low-hanging clouds with a stiff wind out of the west that made goosebumps race up my arms as we climbed into Jilda's car for the trip into town.

Thousands of kids from all over the state were at the complex and by the looks of the parking lots, each kid  brought a bunch of kinfolks.

Jilda wore a jacket, but I wore a long-sleeve shirt. A clump of decorative grass by the walk caught my attention so I stepped over to grab a quick picture. Jilda was cold and she didn't slow down to wait on my so I had to hustle to catch up after the shot.

Jordan and Breeze both did well in their respective races. We were proud of them both. Afterward, we did a little birthday shopping at Books A Million superstore. We buy a lot of books for the young folks in our family.

This afternoon, I watched my college team spank the competition in the conference championship game so the Tide is headed for the playoffs. I'm hoping they continue to play well.

As I sit here typing tonight rain in drumming on the metal roof. There is not thunder in the distance or forks of lightning in the night sky, just and old cold rain.

Even though we got several inches this past week, we were still under a burn ban. But when the rain moves out next week, I think I'll be able to make S'mores in our fire pit for the first time this year and burn the mountain of debris in the backyard.

Whether I'll be able to burn or not, I welcome the rain and I hope our friends north of us get rain too.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Blog Anniversary

We don't shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. As my granddaddy would say, "We're agin it cause
people need to be home with their families."  So today, we went out to pick up some things for the nieces and nephews.

The shopping took longer than we'd anticipated and we were both starving. We decided to grab a few tacos to tide us over until we finished our galavanting.

The next stop was the cemetery to decorate for Christmas. We pulled up to the top of the hill where my folks are buried and cut the engine. I cranked down the side window of the truck while Jilda pulled a couple tacos from the bag.

We ate them sitting there in the cab of the truck. There was a cool breeze out of the west, but the sun was warm. It was peaceful in the cemetery.

We took the old faded flowers from the vases, put them in plastic garbage bags, and I tossed them in the bed of the truck for disposal when we got home.

The red and white poinsettias should take our folks through Christmas. After the first of the year, we'll do some arrangements that will be there until Decoration Day.

As I wrote this entry, my computer dinged. When I looked at the notification, it said "Rick's Blog Anniversary." My first entry was 11 years ago tonight.

I wasn't sure where I was heading with the blog. It started out as a blog for the alumni of my old high school. But it evolved into a kind of daily journal for me.

I've posted every day with few exceptions. The times I missed was because violent weather knocked out power for extended periods of time. Even then, when the roads were clear, I'd drive to the McDonalds which is 11 miles away and post using their WiFi.

Someone once asked me why I write every day. My only response is – so that I can find my voice.

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