Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moving fast

When I sat down to brainstorm ideas for the column this Sunday, I realized it was the first Sunday in OCTOBER.

How can this be? Auld Lang Syne is still echoing in my head and this weekend we'll be looking for pumpkins.

Life moves fast so don't blink. It's a wonder all my pictures aren't blurry.  Let me be the first on this year to say to you,
Merry Christmas.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I sharpened my pruning shears this week. They will be pressed into service this winter when the sap drops in the fruit trees. Pruning is vital for the health of trees as they age, and in a sense, it’s important for people too. I’ve neglected pruning chores the last several years because of an unfortunate incident while cleaning our front windows. I fell from a 10-foot stepladder. The only injury from the fall was to my pride, but it made me mindful of ladders
and my trees suffered.

Halfway down the sun-dappled path to our barn stands an apple tree we planted in 1980 when we first moved to our property in Empire. We bought it from Stark Brothers, and it was not cheap. Neither of us made a lot of money then because I had just started with Ma Bell, but we decided to invest in the future.

This tree did not let us down. Through the years, it has consistently borne fat juicy softball-sized apples. We don’t spray our apples with any chemicals, so they look splotchy when you pick them off the tree. A few swipes down the legs of my blue jeans turn them into apples worthy of being featured in a Southern Living photograph.

Several years ago, I began noticing that woodpeckers apparently love the bugs in apple wood because the bark on some of the larger limbs looked as if they had a bad case of acne. Because I wasn’t pruning, newer limbs began growing in new directions, making the tree look gnarly and off balance. This year, two of the larger branches gave up the fight and collapsed under the weight of the apple harvest. It still has a lot of beautiful apples left, but before next year I’ll need to rent a lift and do some serious pruning. I’m not sure it will survive.

We’ve already planted younger apple trees to take its place, but they have big baskets to fill.

As I sat down to write this column, it occurred to me that as we age, people are similar to fruit trees in many ways. When we are young, we grow in many respects. We try new experiences, pick up habits, meet friends, and find jobs. These things seem right at the time, but we reach a point in our lives when we need to do some pruning.

Old habits that were useful when I was 30 no longer add value to my life. The things I loved to do when I was 22 no longer bring me joy.

Both Jilda and I have collected souvenirs and knickknacks through the years that we loved. Looking at these things now, it’s sometimes hard to remember where they came from and why they are still collecting dust on our shelves.

Like our old apple tree, we’ve reached a point in our lives where we need to do some serious pruning. We started earlier this year by decluttering our house. Getting rid of “things” wasn’t easy, but taking a long, sobering look at our lives and pruning old routines is even harder. In the end, pruning is a job worth doing if we want to continue to grow.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Both Jilda and I are sitting at our computers staring at the screen as if we were trying to conjure ups some words from the ether, but it wasn't happening.

She asked me what I was writing. I looked at her as if she were speaking Sanskrit. When I asked her what she was writing about, she looked almost as befuddled, before saying, "We need a vaycay!"

Our niece just returned from five days at the beach with a tan, fresh eyes, and I think she was a little taller.

Soon after both of us hit UPDATE tonight, we're going to have a conversation about going on a vacation before the holidays. I think we both need to get away from this heat for a few days.

If anyone reading this post lives in the mountains, or somewhere up north where the weather is cooler and has a spare bedroom for rent, please let me know. We are quite, easy to talk to, and non-smokers. We'll give you our American Express.

The picture below was the only thing I shot today. I was
going to write about the weather again,  but I tired of it before I ended
the first paragraph. It's a sad picture of the last of our garden.
The heat has been too much for it this year.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Golden Rod

We went out of town for a brief overnight stay so we've put in some asphalt miles today and I'm a little road weary.

There's not a great deal of color yet, but we can always count on the golden rod.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cooler weather coming

The weatherman swears cooler weather is moving in this coming week. Theoretically, the highs will be in the 70s during the daytime and 50s at night.

I read where this has been the hottest year on record. Maybe the people who say it's just a cycle we're going through and that climate change is a myth. I truly hope they are right.  Because if they're wrong, by the time they realize the error, it may be too late to turn back the tide, as it were.

Anyhow, I do welcome the news of cooler and I'm posting an encouraging picture to coax it along.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First day of autumn

Today was officially the first day of fall. I had back-to-back meetings which left little time outside. That's probably a good thing because even though the temps are not in the triple digits, with the humidity, it feels like it.

The weatherman said a few minutes ago that by next week the highs would be in the 70s and lows in the 50s. If I'd been in the same room with him I'd have kissed him on the mouth...not really, but it's safe to say, I'm very happy that cooler weather is on its way.

After all my meetings today, I needed a little time by the water so I headed the backroad home and stopped by the lake.

Smith Lake is pictured here. A few hundred feet beyond where this picture was taken is the earthen dam. Below the dam is where I fish for trout. I don't come to this side very often, but I decided to stop by today and get a fishing report.

There were fishermen pulling boats onto the ramp, but most of them looked hot and testy. I've learned that these guys don't like to talk when it's hot and they haven't caught any fish, so I gave them a wide berth.

I hope the first day of autumn (first day of spring for Jo-Anne and Alphie Soup who live down under.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A child's mind

I was off today, but Jilda had an early-morning yoga class where she works and needed to roll out of bed at 5 a.m. in order to drink a cup of coffee and get ready to hit the road.

As the coffee dripped, I got a buzz on my phone. When I looked I saw the International Space Station would be passing overhead in three minutes.

I stepped out barefoot and walked down toward the mailbox to get a clearer view of the morning sky to the north. The sky was dark, but off to the east above the horizon, I could see tinges of magenta and a color I could not name. 

A few steps further and I looked toward the northwest. A moment later, I saw the ISS gliding across the morning sky. I stood there until it passed silently below the horizon. I spent time thinking about that miracle of modern technology today.

This afternoon Jilda and I picked up our great nephew Jordan from school. Once home, I told him I'd seen the ISS and he was curious. I showed him the app on my phone which gives the time the  station appears in the sky, the direction, and the angles.

We talked a bit about how often the space station circles the earth. When I told him it was traveling at a speed of 4.76 miles a second, I could see the wheels spinning as he tried to wrap his mind around that. We talked a little about the size of earth and that the space station circled earth about every 90 minutes. I answered several questions with help from the calculator on my phone. It was hard to judge what pieces he understood.

Who knows what all he will remember, but I think it's important to share things that are at the edge of his comprehension. 

After sitting there a long while I imagined he was thinking about space, physics, the theory of relativity, and what not, but he broke the silence and asked me if he could play with the box behind the couch in the laundry room. I smiled more at myself than at him, and said, "Of course." 

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