Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Harbinger of autumn

It was brutally hot here last year. There was no rainfall. When the water tables dropped, streams dried and trees died. It didn't rain until late fall. 

This summer has been hot too, with humidity as thick as sorghum syrup. The difference is that we've had a lot of rain. The fruit trees bounced back, but most of them didn't have much fruit. The exception was the blueberry bushes. We soaked their roots with city water from a hosepipe. They prefer rainwater, but nature is not choosy when it comes to survival.

This morning when we walked, I saw a crimson leaf from a poison ivy vine on our path. The wind from a thundershower must have swept the leaf from a nearby plant. My knees creaked as I squatted to shoot a picture. 

I smiled as I stood because I understood that the leaf is a harbinger of autumn.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Blue fungus

The water oak in our yard was small when we moved here in 1980. Jilda's parents had moved a double wide trailer here on the property in the mid-1970s. The company moved the dwelling in pieces. They scraped the lot down to the red clay. The trees and shrubs that lived here prior to their move were shoved into a pile and burned.

They planted a few Rose-of-Sharon bushes, some azaleas, and they dug a dogwood up from the hollow and planted it by the drive.

A squirrel must have decided the land was still too barren, so it planted an acorn. The water oak took root. We built our house in the fall of 1983 and moved a few days before Christmas. The tree flourished.

The tree is a lesson in yen and yang. Through the years the tree has shaded our house, saving us a bundle in summertime power bills. It's also a beautiful tree. Humid summers paint a coat of moss on its trunk and roots that resembles a green scarf.  A yang is that limbs dump mountains of leaves in autumn. And when the wind blows, acorns ping the roof like a Jamaican kettle drum.

Another yang'ish thing is limbs die and fall. Today when I drove into the driveway after work, I noticed something. When I stepped closer I saw it was a limb that had fallen off the tree. Unlike most limbs that fall from that tree, this one was covered with a fungus called terana caerulea. I think the common name is cobalt crust. I've never seen a fungus this color.

While the fallen limb is a hard yang, I'm leaning toward a yin for this beautiful fungus.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Report

I worked a wonky shift today at the college. The early part of my shift began at 7 a.m., but I left at 11 to check my great nephew, Jordan out of school. It was a ghost town at the elementary school.

When I buckled him into the seat of my truck, he was CRANKED. He'd done his research and watched several YouTube videos on what to expect. Even though he's only starting the 4th grade this year, he's reading above the 9th-grade level. When his reading scores returned he ranked in the 99 percentile in the U.S. He was eclipse savvy.

The glasses I ordered from Amazon the first of August were unusable. After they shipped, Amazon sent me an email and said they could be defective and not to use them. They refunded my money. But by the time the glasses shipped, all the local places were out of glasses. A friend I went to high school with read me post on Facebook and offered to send me two pairs of her glasses. They arrived in time. I was thrilled and thankful.

Jilda doesn't go into work until after 2 p.m. on Mondays, so she whipped up lunch. Baked organic chicken, baked potatoes, and fresh tomatoes. Yum.

The moon started munching on the sun before we ate. Jordan and I sat on the back deck and provided play by play updates on the event. 

Not only did we have glasses, but I helped him build a crude pin-hole viewing device. We'd also heard on the Weather Channel that you could use a colander to view the event.

So as the moon had its way with Ol' Sol, we tried each of the viewing devices. Jilda and her brother Ricky (Jordan's pawpaw) stepped out and viewed the celestial performance. 

The daylight began to dim about midway through. Birds began scurrying from bush to bramble like the do at dusk. The rooster crowed, and the chickens began making their way toward the roost.

The eclipse was not total here, but it was around 94%. We couldn't see the stars like they could a few hours north of here, but the light was eerie. 

When the sun began reclaiming its light, Jordan and his pawpaw headed home. They called me a few minutes after they left. "You have to come down and see the pinhole effect of the light through the trees on the road that runs by our houses.

When I walked toward Jordan's house, I saw thousands of crescent quarter moon lights on the asphalt. I'd never seen anything like it. 

Jordan knew they would be there before he headed back home. Apparently, that was one of the YouTube videos he watched. 

 So that's my eclipse day. How about you?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Uncool day

Jilda and I were sitting on the sofa reading the Sunday papers. The temp outside was 96ish. Just then, the lights went off and the ceiling gently whirred to a stop. Crap. The power went off.

I called the power company and the recording said the power should be on. I'm glad they don't actually record the conversations because at this point I said some unkind things to that machine.

A little over an hour later, I heard the power truck driving up and down the road. They do this every time looking for the source of the problem. Sometimes it's a limb on the lines down beyond us in the bottoms. And, sometimes I think a squirrel poots on the transformer and it goes off.

At any rate, he drove by the house a couple times and the power still didn't come back on.

I got in my truck and drove up the road slowly. I know which pole the fuse is on. When it blows, our power is off until it's reset. He was standing at the pole when I got there and tried to reset the fuse, but it blew again. The problem still existed.

A while later, our power came on and I thought the problem had been resolved. But a while later I saw the power guy walking behind my house and toward the neighbor's house. I walked out back to speak with him.

Apparently, our elderly neighbor's power was still off. He said the transformer behind the neighbor's house had blown and since they couldn't get a boom truck back there, they would have to do it by hand.

I said, "Why don't you drive the boom truck down our barn road and drive it over there. This is my property and whatever it takes to get her power back on, it's OK with me." He said, "Barn road?"

I walked back and showed him how to drive the massive truck down our little road, and through the fields so that they could drive into her yard.

I could see relief spread across his face.

A few minute ago, I looked out the garden door and a truck the size of Rhode Island was driving through our field.

Hopefully, they'll have her power on soon.

I hope your day has been cool.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


We did the wedding tonight. We did cover songs we'd never done before. We practiced till our fingers were raw trying to get the songs right. We play a lot of coffee houses and festivals.  When you play a great deal, it's not uncommon to make a mistake every now and then. But a wedding...A wedding is a life event.

All of my frettings were wasted energy because we played the songs flawlessly. It was a beautiful thing...The wedding I mean.

We are honored that our friend Laken asked us to play on her special day. I've never seen her happier.

We talked to the father of the bride at the reception and he asked if we'd paid attention to the sunset the last night at the rehearsal dinner. I told him I had. He asked if I saw the sunset that was brighter on one side than it was on the other. I told him that I did see it and actually took a picture.

He said one of his friends told him the reason that the horizon was darker on the western side. He said it was the shadow of the earth. I'd never seen the phenomena but I knew there had to be some explanation. Maybe his friend was pulling our chain. Have any of you ever seen this phenomenon?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Birmingham Sunset

A young friend of ours is getting married tomorrow. She asked us to play a few songs just before the ceremony. She's the daughter of two very old friends and we've known the bride to be for most of her life.

Tonight was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. We were invited. The dinner was at one of the oldest country clubs in Birmingham. It's perched on the edge of Red Mountain and has one of the most beautiful views of the city at night.  The one during the days not bad, but the view at night is breathtaking.

As servers scurried around with lofted trays, the sun outside the windows put on a show.

I love weddings. They seem to lift the vibration level of everyone around.

The scenery was just a bonus tonight.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ghost town

Here's a Throw Back Thursday photo. I shot this photo 12 years ago in 2005. It's of one of the buildings still standing in my old home town. Harry Shaws Drug store was a few steps further down the street.

The entryway door had a small bell on a hook that jingled when customers walked in. The high ceilings were dark. Years of using a coal-fired stove for heat and cigarette smoke made the wooden walls look as old as time.

At one time, there was a soft drink maker in the old town. Dora Colas were made there but that was before I was born. I never tasted one, but I saw one of the bottles. The glass was opaque. When you held the bottle to the light, you could see tiny air bubbles in the glass.

Most of the town burned to the ground in 1957, but that was when the mines were in full swing and the railroad rumble through the town.

When the 78 Highway connecting Memphis and Birmingham was completed in the late 50 businesses started moving toward the highway. The old town slowly died. It's a ghost town now that lives only in pictures and in the memories of those who once loved that old town.

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