Saturday, August 18, 2018

The coast

We helped a friend celebrate a birthday this evening and just rolled it. It's almost past my bedtime. Looking through pictures from almost 20 years ago, I came across one of Jilda and me taken near Sausalito, California.

I will do better tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Fish are biting

There's an old saying that I've heard for years. Like many old sayings, it's easy to say that's an old wives tale. But when you start sorting through the facts and fiction, there's often a level of truth behind the sayings. 

My old friend Leo at the Forks of the river is the first one I heard say it. We were riding through Sipsey and past an old barn with a weary barbed wire fence. It was in late August and the sun was brutal. He glanced out the passenger window at cows in the pasture and said, "The cows are laying down. That's means the fish ain't biting."

I've never researched that particular saying, but I still think it when I drive by cattle in a pasture. 

I also bend, spindle, and mutilate old saying. For example, when I'm trying to explain how simple something is to do, I say, "It's not rocket surgery."  Another example is, "You can lead a gift horse to water, but you can't look him in the mouth." Or, "He's not the sharpest tool in the elevator."

At any rate, I learned today when I drove by cows standing knee high in bitterweed that fish were most likely biting.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


It didn't seem fair that Mandy got all the accolades last night. Flo was hurt. It was obvious in the way she would lite on a moss flower not three feet away and slowly waggle her wings. I think that's the way she seethes.

She wasn't jealous of the pictures I took last night but miffed in the tone of my words.

This beauty let me know that she and Mandy were "just friends."

At any rate, after raking me over the coal for a while, she posed on the butterfly bush.

Tomorrow I think I'll use my DSLR with the telephoto lens to take a picture of Flo and Mandy together.

I've reached out to the National Enquirer and they were chilly to the idea of a love fest on my back porch, but they said if they couldn't dig up another angle on Hillary's emails that they might buy the story.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

There is a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly flirting with our Mandavilla on the back deck. Jilda named the butterfly Miss Flo, and she named the Mandavilla Miss Mandy.

I drank my last cup of coffee on the deck this morning. We had early appointments, but there's always time for coffee.

Miss Flo has been flitting with Miss Mandy for days. Apparently, it's an illicit liaison because each time one of us steps over to snap a picture, Flo flies away and heads for the butterfly bush in the flower bed.

When we become distracted, Flo will flit over nonchalantly and then they are kissing – right there in broad daylight. We keep telling them we try not to judge, but apparently, with the state of social media, they choose to keep their activities secret. I'm guessing they have their Location Services turned off too.

But Jilda and I are patient. We will get a picture of both of them together.

For now, all I have is a picture of Miss Mandy. She looks a little lonely if you ask me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The gift

We have a basket of shells on our bookshelf that we've had for over twenty years. I remember the day we found these shells as if it were yesterday.

Usually, when we go to the beach, we'll find a few decent shells. Most of them are as small as thimbles. Every now and again, we found ones that were a little bigger.

Our friends Kaye and Ron had just bought a new house at Blue Mountain Beach, near Seaside, Florida. We'd gone down a few days after Christmas that year with plans of bringing in the New Year on the beach. On New Year's Eve, a storm came in from the south. Lightning jabbed at the empty beach. The lights in their new house flickered like candles. Thunder rattled the champagne glasses on the table.

Sometime after midnight, the storm moved off to the north leaving a sky full of diamonds.

The next morning, it was warm for January. I wore a thin sweater with shorts. When we started walking, I saw a shell in the surf and scrambled to get it between waves. Then I saw another one a little deeper. Rolling my shorts up even higher, I waded in after the shell. Jilda squealed and snagged another one. Soon all four of us were picking up more shells than we could carry.

Kaye, who was an experienced beachcomber, had thought to put a net bag in her pocket. We found more shells that morning than we've ever found before.

Through the years, we've given some of the bigger shells to friends and family but we still have baskets.

The shells remind us of the gift that day gave us.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Knees and Rainbows ~ my column from Sunday's paper

August is a slow month for Jilda and me. That’s why I chose it to do something I’ve never done before.

It will be the first time I’ve ever been in the hospital. I’ve visited people in the hospital more times than I care to remember, but I’ve never been in myself. I’m excited. (Could you feel the sarcasm dripping from that last sentence?)

Today, I had an appointment for pre-admission testing. Soon, I’ll be going into the hospital to get a new knee. I’m fond of my old knee, but in the last few years, it has become about as useful as a cassette player. During the visit, I had knee school. It talked about all the things I can expect after the installation of my new knee. Many of the things I had already thought about. Some I had not. 

My niece Samantha is giddy with anticipation. She is a physical therapy assistant. She will be doing my therapy when I come home. I thought of all the fun I’ve had through the years giving her a hard time. I have a feeling that payback will be hellish. I’m a big boy. Not only can I dish it out, but I can also take it. I will have to put my big-boy-panties on, as they say.

Today, while driving back from the appointment, the August sky was spectacular. Even smoke and smog couldn’t dampen the deep blue sky. At one point, the sky looked like a zoo. I saw a walrus, a whale, and a bear the size of Rhode Island. A few miles down the road the zoo was gone, and it looked like piles of cotton sheets scattered around a dorm room.

When we got home, Jilda had to get ready for work. By the time she’d changed and had a glass of water, our rescue collie Caillou tried to get in her lap. He can hear thunder in Mississippi, but this time it was much closer. I took him to his safe place before stepping out on the screen porch for an analog weather report. The clouds to the west no longer looked as playful as they had an hour before. 

A moment later, the whisper of raindrops in the leaves got louder.  Then came a downpour so hard I could barely see my truck which was less than 30 feet away. 

I had unwritten stories to work on for the paper and now seemed like a perfect time. Fetching my laptop, I flipped it open, clicked on my writing playlist on Spotify. 

The rain began to ease up, and to the west, the sun poked through the rainclouds. Then synchronicity happened. My playlist served up Israel Kamakawiwo’s cover version of the iconic song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." On a whim, I stood and walked to the screen and scanned the sky to the east. Sure enough, I saw a rainbow for a brief moment before the sun ducked behind the clouds.

I took the synchronicity of the song and sky as a good luck sign.

I shot this pictures 10 years ago this month.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


We have a new swing in our backyard. It's actually an old swing that someone gave us. They were going to toss it. 

I picked it up before they changed their minds. We found a place in the shade of the pine and sweet gum trees. 

Jilda and I have never had a swing of our own. We have lawn chairs, loungers, and benches but no swing.

Both our parents had swings on their porches when we were growing up. They came as standard equipment even on old camp houses. Some of them didn't have indoor bathrooms, running water, or air conditioning, but they all had swings on their front porches. 

Sometimes late on summer evenings after dusk chased off most of the light, you could hear squeaking chains on front-porch swings. 

I missed our old swing. Jilda and I kept saying we were going to get one, but we never did...until yesterday. 

After unloading the old swing, we found its resting place. It was covered in some kind of sap that hid most of the yellow paint. Taking the pressure washer, I washed off most of the sap. The rest seemed to be embedded. I headed for the shed for sandpaper, but Jilda insisted we leave some of it on the swing. "It makes it look used," she said. I nodded my head in agreement.

The heat index was over 100 today. This evening, a breeze out of the west began to blow. I took a glass of ice tea out and sat on our new/old swing. It felt right.

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