Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fence Iris

I've felt a little off-center today. I'm not sure why. The oak pollen is brutal right now and I think my body is fighting off the dreaded GUNK.

The sun was warm today but it was much cooler than the last few days. We're playing outside tomorrow evening and we're hoping it isn't too cold to keep the folks from turning out.

During our walk today, I shot a picture of Jilda's pride and joy. It's an iris that came from her mom and dad's iris garden. She planted it years ago. the first time it bloomed was the year her mom died and it hasn't bloomed since.

I love this flower and we can smell its aroma when walking into the house.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Some things are worth it

When we bought the adjoining property a few years ago, I walked it the first time with Jilda. We took our time paying attention to as many details as we could absorb. There's a monster fig bush on the hill. Down toward the middle is a beautiful dogwood.  There are honeysuckle vines, huckleberry bushes, and old growth timber with oak and hickory trees.

We noticed the stump of an oak tree. I'm guessing it blew down years ago during Hurricane Opal when it made landfall in September of 1995. Even though the gulf is over four hours to the south, it was still classified a hurricane (winds 75 MPH) when it moved over Empire.

But I digress. When we saw the stump, I made a mental note to burn the stump off so that it wouldn't slow down my lawnmower when I cut grass.  Jilda said, "Ohhhhhhha." That usually means I've missed something. She said the stump had character.  When I stepped back and took another look, I had to agree. So, I've been cutting around the stump since. I've taken pictures of it before, but this was the first time with the tiny blue and yellow flower blooming. 

What if it does take me another three minutes to cut the grass. Some things are worth it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Best Camera in the World

When I first started the Entrepreneur class in January, it was already dark when we got out at 8 p.m.
Surrounding city lights washed out the stars leaving the night sky a black-velvet blanket.

Things got better when the time changed. The last few weeks the skies have been cloudy when class dismissed. Tonight was a different story.

The instructor and others in the class we in a hurry to get home and I don't think they glanced at the night sky. I'm in a hurry too, but I try never to pass up an opportunity to see something beautiful.

I pulled to the edge of the driveway, rolled down my window and snapped a picture with my phone. My digital camera has a telephoto lens which would have rendered a much clearer picture, but it doesn't work when it's at home in the office. I read once that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. It's hard to argue with that logic.

Monday, April 16, 2018

National Library Week ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I’ve had a fascination with books for as long as I remember. My mom bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias when I was in grammar school. The pages between those red leather-bound covers were like a mental magic carpet to me. 

Our family was fortunate. Neither of my parents graduated from high school, and both wanted to ensure their kids had a shot at an education. That’s why they bought the books on the installment plan. It didn’t take a diploma to understand the value of books. There were many kids in rural America who weren’t as fortunate.

Carl Elliott, who was our representative in Congress from 1949 to 1965, understood the value of books. He was instrumental in the enactment of the Library Services Act of 1956. Part of the funding from this bill paid for bookmobiles. Those libraries on wheels put knowledge into the hands of millions of rural Americans.

I remember the first book I checked out of the Walker County bookmobile. The title was "The Wildlife Cameraman," by Jim Kjelgaard. I remember becoming lost in the words of that book. It was one reason I wanted to learn photography when I got older.

Through the years, I’ve used the library system a great deal. When I started working in Hoover in the '80s, the commute was brutal. The drive took an hour in each direction, and that’s when the interstate wasn’t under construction. The interstate was ALWAYS under construction.

At first, I listened to the same three songs on commercial radio, but halfway to my destination, I tended to drool. The other choice was listening to news that made me want to drive full speed into a bridge abutment. Searching for alternatives, I found the answer at the library. Books on tape.

At first, I wondered if I could focus on the words, but I learned that a good story drew me in. I listened to hundreds of biographies, self-help, do-it-yourself, and works of fiction.

The commute robbed me of 10 hours of life each week. But discovering books on tape in the library turned wasted hours into an enjoyable part of my day.

This week was National Library Week and the folks at the Carl Elliott Regional Library in Jasper
invited me to participate in a Local Authors event. I was thrilled at the invite. When I arrived, staff members showed me to my table and offered help setting up.

There were several other writers on hand. The people at the library were incredible. I sold some books, made new friends, and listened to a gospel bluegrass group playing in another section of the library.

As I looked around, there were a lot of young folks there. That was encouraging to me because a library is more than a place to check out books. It’s a place of history – a place of discovery. It’s educational and social. 

I think Walter Cronkite summed it up well when he said, "Whatever our libraries cost, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Cronkite.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday news from Empire

Today was much colder. When the storms moved through yesterday the temps dropped like a (put your own simile here).

When it was time to walk this morning,  I pulled on my shoes, walking shorts, and a tee shirt. It took Jilda longer to get ready and I wasn't sure why. She'd bunded up. I chided her a little.

When we started walking the sun was out and it felt good. I think I might have said, "This is invigorating."  But once in the shadows, I changed my tune.  When the wind kicked up I chided myself for being weather obtuse.

After the first lap, I ran inside and put on warmer clothing. The second lap was more comfortable.

Jordan and his mom joined us for the second lap. He was glad to get outside after a day of bad weather. I shot a video of him rolling down a hill and it was a scream. Oh to be 10 again.

Jilda cooked sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and butterbeans this evening. It was a perfect end to a Sunday.

I took a picture this evening that made me a little sad. I found the wing of a swallowtail butterfly on our back deck. Why a single wing would be there I have no clue. It made me a little sad.

That's all I have to report.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Stormy Saturday

I woke up just after 3 this morning to get a drink of water and to check the weather. April in the south is beautiful, but it can be violent. Seven years ago on the 27th of April, 55 tornadoes touched down in Alabama. Two hundred and thirty-eight people died in our state that day. All tolled, 340 people died from Tornados that day.

So to say that we are weather-aware when "bad clouds" are possible is an understatement. When I looked at the radar, it looked as if the worst would get here after lunch today.

This morning we had some grocery shopping to do, so we were on the road early. We stopped at Micky D's and had breakfast. We don't do that often. 

When we got back, we noticed the wind picked up. You could see trees swaying and birds scurrying. We were running through our disaster plan to make sure we had everything we needed in case storms knocked off the lights...or worse.

Miraculously, the atmosphere was dry here which caused the worst of the storms to dissipate. Our neighbors to the west were not as lucky.

The folks east and north should keep in eye on the radar. 

It's been rainy all day so I  pulled a picture out of the archives from April of 2009.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Important Part of Fishing

It's been too long since I've been fishing. When my job ended on January 31, I told friends that I'd be resting and fly fishing. I didn't. Life has a way of swirling around you and sucking up your time. If you don't set priorities, something else will. I know that happens and still, I haven't been fishing.

I drove up a few times to check the water but never tossed a fly. The funny thing about fishing is that it's much harder to catch a trout when you don't wet a hook. Funny how that works. It's like buying an exercise bike and then using it for a clothes dryer. People rarely lose weight by hanging their clothes on the bike, Apparently, you have to get on and pedal. Who knew?

Anyhow, It's my intention to go fishing this coming week. I may not catch a trout but that's OK. As the song goes, "The important part of fishing ain't the fish but the fishing."

Below is a picture I took of my friend Mr. Smith. It was early one morning on the Sipsey.

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