Thursday, July 28, 2016

On the road

I spent most of the day one the road. An early-morning meeting took me to West Alabama and when I left, I had a coaching session near Birmingham.

Clouds moved in which gave a little reprieve from the heat. When I hit the Interstate after leaving Fayette, I rolled my window down and propped my elbow through the opening. I could smell rain before I saw it ahead so I rolled my window up and turned on my headlights. My wipers worked overtime but visibility dropped to a few car lengths.  I moved to the far-right lane, slowed down to 50 mph, and flipped on my flashers.

Then as quickly as it came up, it drifted off to the north leaving a steaming highway in its wake.

After the coaching session near Birmingham, I looked at my watch and it was time to go home.

By the time I got home, the rain had moved out leaving pleasant walking weather. I managed to get my steps in and give Ol' Hook, the new dog, a chance to stretch his legs and work on silent commands.

Tonight I'm weary so after this post and a cup of sleepytime tea, I'm calling it a day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Magical Day

This morning was magical. Normally Jilda has an early morning yoga class she teaches and I spend the time alone writing my newspaper column for the following Sunday. But today was different.

One of Jilda's friend lives near Muscle Shoals. She works with bands and musicians in the area. She
knows EVERYONE.  She sent Jilda a message on Facebook about an unadvertised event at Counts Brother's Music Store in Muscle Shoals. We decided to blow off our normal schedule and drive up.

If you lived through the 60s and 70s, Muscle Shoals is important to you whether you realize it or not.

Musicians from around the world came to this small town in north Alabama to record. Bob Dylan, Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, and Paul Simon to name a few.

The sound created by the musicians and producers in that area is woven into the soul of popular music recorded during that time.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones wrote the song Wild Horses while lying on the floor of the studio in Muscle Shoals.

This morning we arrived 30 minutes early to get a good seat because even though the event wasn't publicised, we knew word would spread. And it did. By 10:30 the place was packed.

The only two playing was Christine Olhman (the Bee Hive Queen from Saturday Night Live's band) and Kelvin Holly. Kelvin played with Little Richard, Neil Young, and many others.

The show was the two of them sitting on stools within arms distance of the audience. They played songs and told stories for almost two hours.

We've been buzzing all afternoon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Last night I dreamed it snowed. In the dream, I walked barefoot onto the deck. The snow squeaked and crunched under my feet as I walked to the edge to get a better look at the yard.

In the dream, it was early morning and the cardinals frenzied between hedge and huckleberry looking for a few bites before all food was hidden by the snow. The only time one can hear the silence is when it snows. It's almost like a distant whisper that you're not quite sure you heard.

Sometimes dreams are snatches of imagery like a film that's been cut and pasted back together randomly, but this dream had continuity and seemed to last for hours.

But through my sleepy eyelids, I could sense the morning light seeping around the blinds.  I didn't want to wake from the "snowdream."

After breakfast, I loaded the truck for a workshop at lunch. By the time the cooler was on the tailgate, my shirt was damp.

Clicking the seatbelt into the buckle, I leaned forward to look at the sky and said to no one in particular,  "What I wouldn't give for a little bit of snow right now."

Snow picture from a few years ago.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Be kind ~ My column from Sunday's paper

While reading blogs this past week, I came across a post that made me think. The graphic read: The Gene Pool Could Use a Little Chlorine. I howled.

She wrote this after learning about a project to move elephants in Africa because humans are encroaching on their habitat and killing them for their teeth. People can be so unkind. This fact came into focus at our house the past few weeks.

First, the hungry bulldog that I wrote about in last week’s column showed up. We learned that the dog was deaf and had other health issues. Owning two high-maintenance dogs is expensive, and we didn’t need another one. But we realized with health problems, the dog was probably unadoptable so he would be staying. We named him Hook.

Just as we were getting used to that, two more Bulldogs showed up the next day. These two were hungry, thirsty and full of parasites. What made these two different were youth and beauty.

We realized that no matter how cute these dogs were, there was no way we could afford them. We were at a loss at what to do. I dreaded taking them to a shelter that euthanizes animals.

Facebook troubles me at times, especially during the election years because it can bring out the worst in people. But sometimes I read things that make me smile and give me hope.

With this in mind, I decided to try Facebook to see if it could help me spread the word about these pups so that their story would end well.

I took a good picture of them looking lovingly into the camera as we were about to go for a walk and then posted the picture on Facebook along with a note about being disheartened that someone could be so unkind. Tossing these loving, loyal creatures out like pieces of garbage was beyond my understanding.

The words and picture must have resonated because the post was shared 84 times which gave it wings. Private messages began hitting my inbox with ideas on how to get the dogs to no-kill shelters.

Late that afternoon, I got a private message from a woman who works with Forgotten Tails Rescue of Alabama in Jasper. She said they had a foster home that would take the two young Bulldogs, and they felt there was a decent chance they could place them.

The next day I took them to a local vet where the dogs were vaccinated, tested for heartworms and treated for parasites. They were also neutered (sorry about that guys.)

When I went back later to make a donation to the shelter, the woman told me that neither dog had heartworms which was great news. She smiled and said they already had families that were interested in adopting them permanently.

Hearing those words made my eyes get misty, and I got a lump in my throat that made it difficult to talk. Kindness does that to me. I stood there breathing as I wrote the check and gained my composure. I made sure she knew how much we appreciated their help in finding the precious pups a permanent home.

If I were a geneticist, the first thing I would do is to tweak the kink in the DNA chain that makes people unkind. I think that would make a remarkable difference in the human race.

Anyone who would like to help spread kindness should consider donating to Forgotten Tails Rescue of Alabama. They have a Facebook page. Their website is

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We get our answer in July

The intermittent rain is keeping the garden alive, but the sweltering heat is a burden on the plants. After our early walk this morning, I grabbed an eight-quart basket and picked tomatoes, peppers, and patty-pan squash.

We've given away a lot of produce, and eaten fresh veggies every day for the past month. And that little plot is still producing. Soon we'll start preserving what we don't eat. One of my favorite winter meals is vegetable soup that we put up during harvest.

Sometimes during spring when our backs are aching after a long day of gardening we ask, "Why on earth are we doing this?" We get our answer in July.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Smoke on the water

I stopped by the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River yesterday afternoon just as the sun was sinking low. The turbines had at Smith Lake had been turned on to generate power to help keep our air conditioners on.

The water at the bottom of the lake is 52 degrees and when that cool water mixes with the warmer water, a mist rises that looks like smoke.

Heat and humidity together are perfect for the creation of thunderstorms. As I stood on the banks, the cool water acted like a natural air conditioner. Off to the north, I saw clouds hanging low and I knew it was time to get back into the truck and head for home because it would soon be unsafe to be standing out in the open.

I did stay long enough to get a photograph.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New book hits the rack

One of the goals I had for the year was to publish my fourth book of columns. The process
has been slow.

Remembering Big, published in 2008 was my first book and I was so anxious to have copies in my hand that I took a haphazard approach to editing. I sent pieces of the book to one guy in the newspaper business and had one other have a look. And when the book came out, I found tons of errors. The stories were from the heart and I thought they were all good, but  as I read the finished book, some of the errors jumped out and bit me like a "dreadful snake" (the title of an old bluegrass song.) 

The readers were kind and no one pointed them out to me, but then no one had to point them out.

That first book was a learning thing and each book since, I've had a lot of eyes on them and it shows in the finished product.

I'm working on the formatting so that it looks good on Kindle. It should be available on there soon.

I'm proud of Life Goes on. If you know anyone you think might enjoy one, have them get in on I will put these on my webpage soon so that people can buy an autographed copy from me.

It's available on Amazon here

Now on to the goal of solving world peace and finding the path to true happiness.

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