Monday, November 30, 2015

Under the weather

I’ve been under the weather the last few weeks with a nasty cough that sounds like a hound treeing a squirrel.

I’ve turned into a whiny baby. It takes great restraint from Jilda to keep from cutting my head off with a butcher knife to put me out of my misery.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this bad.

I know the exact moment it started. We were driving down Interstate 65 to play at an art festival in Clanton. Midway between Birmingham and the peach water tower, we both saw a small fire just off the Interstate.

Instead of the smoke rising as you’d expect, this smoke spread out just above the ground and hung there like a veil.

A moment after we drove through the smoke, we coughed in stereo. Jilda said, “I hope they weren’t burning toxic waste back there.”

We both laughed, but my cough persisted…and has for three weeks.

The last time a cough this bad settled in my chest was when I was about 13 years old. I remember that time clearly because it was my first trip deer hunting with my dad. I anticipated that I’d come back with deer meat and a story to tell, but the only thing I brought home was pneumonia.

It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and the temps had dropped like a stone. We bunked with about 15 other hunters in a run-down hunting cabin. Pulling my pallet up close to the fireplace, I fell asleep to the sound of snapping logs.

The next day, the sun felt warm on my hunting jacket when the wind wasn’t blowing, but my shotgun was so cold I feared my fingers would stick to the polished blue steel barrel.

And then after lunch, the clouds rolled in. Soon, misting rain began to fall. By late evening, my clothes were damp and my boots felt like anvils on my feet.

That second night, getting a place close to the fire was harder because everyone’s feet got wet that day so boots took the choice drying spots by the fire.

The next day was the most miserable day of my life. The jeep dropped hunters every three or four hundred yards in the area. My stand was in a grove of oak and hickory with no one in sight.

I sat at the base of that tree for hours. The drizzling rain returned and brought flecks of sleet and snow with it.

When I couldn’t take the wind and cold anymore, I found a giant oak that had been damaged by fire in years past. The trunk was hollowed out and the opening was just the right size. I burrowed into the tree like a mole and stayed there until I heard the jeep horn at dusk.

A rattling cough started that night and by the time we got home the following afternoon, I was sick. The doctor took one look at me on Monday and told my mom I had pneumonia. It took forever to get over that hunting trip.

This past week when I went to the doctor for my current cough, he shot me full of antibiotics and medicine for the cough. I’m feeling much better, but I couldn’t run a race.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Taking a pass

It's rained all day so we did a lot of indoor work. I've read and spent most of the day working on a Berkeley College of Music Songwriter class. I'm out of juice. today and I am frazzled.
So I'm going to take both a Pass Goal and Collect $200 card tonight.
I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holding on

Our autumn has been a little wonky. The leaves got a head start and it looked as if it would be a stunning year, but then It stayed very hot and dry. The leaves struggled not to fall and turn into a brown crunchy carpet.

When the rain came, it brought wind with it and many of the leaves were blown off before they had a chance to show out.

We drove to the store to pick up some groceries this morning, and the sky was stunning. We noticed several crimson maples and Bradford pear trees.

Then on our walk after lunch today, I came up several small oak trees that had lingered and decided to put on their own show. I was glad they held on.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The day after

Today was a laid back day for Jilda and me. We took a long walk and then ran a few errands. Afterwards, we headed up some leftover turkey, dressing, and some other goodies followed by a long peaceful nap.

About 3 p.m., we heard a commotion outside and three of our great nieces and a nephew were running up the hill into the front yard.

Jilda and I sat on the back step of the deck along with their PawPaw and watched those kids run wide open for almost two hours. Their energy wore me out.

They didn't need toys, computers, lawn games, or anything else but open space and fresh air.

The setting sun highlighted wispy cirrus clouds sweeping up from the Gulf of Mexico and painted them the colour or orange sherbet.

I stopped them for a moment and asked them what they saw in the clouds. "An angel", one shouted.
"There's the wings, and there's her halo." "A dolphin," another one offered. And so on.

With kids, it doesn't take a lot.  I'm thrilled they enjoy coming to our house. Holidays would be a lonely time for us if it weren't for the children of our nieces and nephews.

We didn't have children (long story here, but maybe another time), but we've had the good fortune to live next door to Jilda's brother who had three kids and now they have children. We're surrogate grandparents. Whenever someone needs a kid picked up at school, or needs a place for a kid to stay when everyone else in the family is tied up, they have us on speed-dial because we are here to serve.

It's a delightful arrangement because we get to have all the fun with the kids and then send them home when they're worn out and cranky.

I hope you survived Black Friday. Click here for my post a few years ago about shopping at the time of the year.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I've only spent two Thanksgivings away from home in my life. That was November 1971 when I was in radio school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and the following year when I was stationed in Panama.

I was short on money to fly home that year, but I did consider hitch-hiking to Alabama. It was during those years when drivers actually picked up hitch-hikers. Soldiers in uniform and an added advantage because people wanted to help servicemen in those days. But I only had four days off and I feared I'd get stuck on the road so I opted to spend Thanksgiving with one of my married classmates who lived off-base.

Thanksgiving is such a special holiday for me. It's always been about family, food, and celebrating all the abundance in my life.

The first Thanksgiving in New Jersey was hard because I wasn't home with my family, but having Thanksgiving with my friends softened the bruise, but the following year in Panama was brutal. It felt as if I were a million miles away.

I could close my eyes and smell the turkey and ham baking in the oven, and hear the din of laughter coming from the living room where my family and friends gathered waiting for the blessing to be said.

Today as my niece said the blessing over the turkey and dressing at our house, I thought about that day in Panama in 1971. It was a short mental journey on to the soldiers serving on active duty around the world today. I wish I could have had them all here at our house today so they would not spend this Thanksgiving feeling like they were a million miles away from home.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Be here

Driving home this evening, the full moon looked as big as a dinner plate through the trees. The moon ends 2015 by giving us two treats. A full moon on Thanksgiving morning, and another on Christmas Day.

I don't recall the last time that happened. I tried to get a picture this evening, but my attempts were tragic...well, actually tragic might be a little harsh, but sad seems to fit nicely.

So tonight I surfed through older photographs. I came upon a picture I took five years ago in December of 2011.

I could come up with some tired phrase about how fast time slips away, but the thing is, it's getting away at an alarming pace.

It seems as if the older we get, the grains in our hourglass get smaller and woosh through to the bottom of the glass much quicker than when we were younger.

The only way to guard against the passing of time is to be Pay attention. Blog. Otherwise, we'll wake up one day and wonder where it all went.

I hope you all have a remarkable Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Inspirational walk

Thanksgiving week is a wonky work week. Normally, I have all day Wednesday to sip green tea and write. But this week I'm workingWednesday. So much for leisurely writing.

Today I completed work a little early and decided to dive in head first and knock the column out. I made a steaming cup of peppermint tea and sat down to type. Nothing.

I tried all the old standby muse nudgers but none of them worked. I decided to do a new technique that I learned about called freewriting. That means you start typing the first thing that pops into your head and eventually an idea dislodges from a long nap from somewhere inside your mind and your off. I typed until my fingers bled...bruised...well actually they grew tired of typing and I decided to
take a walk.

The walk was refreshing. The sun was lounging on the western horizon, and a few beams filtered through the canopy to highlight a few lingering autumn leaves.

I paused and snapped.  A little further along, I snapped another one.

I was walking the new path and as I got near the barn I saw something in the underbrush.

Bending down, I scooted off the path to investigate.

What I found was an old RC Cola bottle with the neck broken off.

Mother Nature figured that since the bottle was no longer being used, she'd use it as a vase.

There was a fern growing from the mouth of the jagged glass, and when I held it up to the light, I could see the fern flourished inside the bottle too.

Mother Nature will not be denied.

When I got back to my laptop, the words seemed to flow much easier.

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