Sunday, January 25, 2015

More fun with the kids

Tonight was my great nephew Jordan's birthday party. His mom bought a birthday package at the University of Alabama Basketball game against arch rival Auburn.

We had a large time, but most of the fun was watching the kids. Bama went ahead in the game with 4 seconds left on the clock.

I snapped a selfie of Jordan, his mom, Jilda and I.

We rolled in the driveway and four minutes until midnight. Seems very likely at this point that we'll be sleeping in tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Turning in early

I'm running on empty tonight. It's been a grueling week but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

My great nephew Jordan needed someone to pick him up yesterday, so I left work and drove the five minutes to his school.

He met me at the door smiling. When I told him if it was OK if I ran by work to tie up a few loose ends, he said, "Sure."

One the way in the build, I stopped long enough to snap this photo of him posing with the schools Art
Mule (it's a long story.)

Once inside, he sat in a chair in the corner of my office, pulled a book from his backpack, and read while I finished up the work that had a deadline attached to it.

Afterwards, we headed home.

As always, when he's with me, we stop at the forks of the river so that he can stand for a while by the water.  Yesterday, we saw a muskrat swimming into its bed on the bank across the river.

We always see some thing fascinating when we stop by the forks.

I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Turning in early.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A place to think

We hope to do more work on our creative space this spring. For new readers, the creative space is a hundred-year-old house built by the people we bought our place from. It's down by the barn on the back of our property.

At one point the old house was falling in. The tin roof, which is the color of lead, has damage caused by countless storms through the years. Holes big enough to toss a puppy through were patched with roofing tar and silent prayers.

A few years ago, we did some major restoration. We replaced the front porch, part of the roof, and put garden doors in the back. The house is now solid, but it can be a little drafty.

The  windows are cloudy, even on sunny days. When the angle of light is just right, you can see tiny bubbles in the old glass.

In winter, the wind out of the north makes the curtains dance, but I still can't bring myself to replace them with the newer energy efficient kind.  We won't be living down there, so on days when the weather is too hot or cold, we won't work down there.

This much I know for sure: in early spring when the days warm there is no better place to write. You can smell the earth coming alive. There are no phones, TVs, or radio. I often find inspiration in the stillness. It's a great place to discover, to create.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Your Thoughts

Lately, I've been asking myself: What makes blogs successful?  Some of the blogs I follow have long entries, some have short entries,. And some have a hyper focused topic, and so forth.

It's hard to determine what resonates in the blogosphere, and what sits on the page like tripe sandwich with mayonnaise with garlic pickles.

So, I thought I'd ask you some questions. Your mission....should you choose to accept it, is to answer what you like, or don't like about blogs. It's not scientific, so don't go all beaker and safety glasses on me, it's just a simple unvalidated survey.

I'll keep the survey short so if you choose to participate, you simply copy the questions below, paste them into the comment section along with your answers.

1. Do you prefer long  posts (500+ words) or short posts (100 to 499 words)?

2. On longer posts, do you read or skim?

3. What makes you bale out on a blog post?

4. What makes you want to read the entire post?

5. Do you like pictures on posts?

6. Does it matter whether or not, the blogger replies to your comments on each post?

7. How much time do you spend per day reading blogs?

8. How important is theme? (Do you prefer blogs with specific themes? For example, fashion, food, technology, or fly fishing.

9. What is your ideal number of posts per week for a blogger?

10 What do you want to be when you grow up?  OK, I'm jacking you around on this one, but I'd be interested in what you have to say about the other questions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fun with folks on the left coast

I'll be heading to California in a few weeks on a business trip. The hotel where I'm staying is one of the fancy-smancy places and today I got an email re-confirming my visit.

They asked me what time I was scheduled to arrive, if they could help me arrange for private transportation, and whether I preferred a feather or foam pillow.

They also asked about allergies, and whether I had an special dietary requirements.

Obviously they didn't realize that I was an Alabamian with some time on his hands, so I thought what the heck?

I asked if the feathers came from live chickens or dead ones. I also told them I could eat just about anything except those fuzzy fish that sometimes come on pizza. To further clarify my culinary desires, I told them that I wasn't fond of tripe, but given the choice between the fuzzy fish and tripe, I'd go with the tripe.

I ended by telling them that regular grits and unpasteurized buttermilk were fine for breakfast if they had cathead biscuits.

....I wouldn't be surprised if they sent me a follow-up email to say there'd been a mixup in reservations and they were actually overbooked and would have to move me to the local Motel 6 on the edge of town.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Inspiration everywhere these days ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The inspiration for my columns comes from different places. Sometimes it comes while flipping through grainy photographs from my distant past or listening to the lyrics of songs that have touched the heart at some point in my life.

The idea for this column came as I read in Paul Zollo’s book, “Songwriters on Songwriting.” The author interviewed Jackson Browne about his song “These Days.” From the first time that record spun on my turntable, it was an instant classic. I’m sure I’ve listened to it over a thousand times.

It’s about the angst we all feel at some point in our lives about growing up and growing older. Browne wrote the song when he was 16 years old and I can’t imagine how a mind that young could have written something so profound. It sounds as if someone much older should have written it. He said it just came to him.

But who knows where insightful inspiration comes from? Are they radio waves sent out from a higher power through the Universe? And only individuals mentally tuned to a special celestial frequency can receive the signal?

Perhaps that’s true. I know if someone invented antennae that you could wear on your head to improve reception, it would be worth a fortune. I would wear it each time I sat down to write.

That’s probably a fanciful thought, but what if it were true? What if all the inspiration and answers you need in your life are out there in the ether, waiting for you to tune in your psychic radio to the correct frequency and listen?

Some folks believe all the answers are written in the Good Book, and for many it is the source of their inspiration. But others seek answers in different places.

Some look to drugs or the bottle for inspiration, but few find it there.

So, what is inspiration? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition is “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone.”

The book tells us what it is, but there are no clues on where it comes from. It remains a mystery, but I think inspiration lies with life as it unfolds before us.

The older I get, I seem to find inspiration in unpredictable places. It seems I’m most receptive when I look at life through the eyes of my inner child.

I’ve been accused of behaving like a child. I think it was meant as an insult, but on the eve of my sixty-forth birthday, I consider that jibe a compliment.

This much I know — inspiration is a vital component of our lives. It’s what drives creativity, which keeps us learning, growing and reinventing ourselves. It is what keeps us young.

I’ve seen people in their nineties who seem younger and more vital than people a third of their age. It’s because they read, write, dance and like hummingbirds, they thrive on the nectar of life.

What inspires you?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The sea

So much has been written about the ocean, by much better writers than me. The descriptions so vivid, one feels as if they were there.

I'm not sure anything I write could add value, but then, I couldn't call myself a writer if I didn't try.

This much I know for sure: the rhythm of the surf, and the life that thrives around the ocean resonates with on a level much lower on the brain stem than most stimuli.

Just sitting by the water with closed eyes, and feeling the energy surging around me seems to feed my soul. 

We were only there for a few days, but it was a respite I needed. 

I know for some, a visit to the sea isn't practical, but for those within driving distance, you should do your life a favor and go there. Sit for a while.....with no agenda, and listen, taste, feel, and be at one with a force much greater than you. 

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