Saturday, December 09, 2017

Dodged a bullet

When I went on Facebook this morning to check birthdays, a picture of Jilda and I popped up. It was
taken before we were married.

When I saw it, the image made me smile. Who would have thought two skinny kids would make it 43 years?

Our great-nephew Jorda and our great-niece Breeze were in a swim meet today in Tuscaloosa. We had nothing on our calendars so we drove down to give them our support. Tuscaloosa is about 80 miles south of here. They had heats most of the day so we watched a few and headed back home.

Stopping at Taco Casa, we eased through the drive-thru and got our order to go.

We decided to stop at the rest stop off the Interstate and eat our lunch instead of wearing most of it home by eating while we rode.

Parking in the shade, we ate and people watched. After tossing our trash in the receptacle, I turned the key. The car normally springs to life, but this time it clicked and buzzed. Oh Crap! (Clean version.)

I tried several more times but I knew the battery was dead. It had started slowly a few times when the weather was cold and I'd made a mental note to replace the battery but that mental note wasn't helping to turn that starter.

Stepping back inside the rest stop, I asked the attendant if she had jumper cables. She didn't but her friend who worked at the rest stop on the southbound side of the Interstate did. She called him on the radio. A few minutes later he pulled in and helped us get the car cranked. I'm not sure if they can take tips, but I put one in his pocket and thanked him profusely.

This incident could have turned out much worse. We were about 75 miles from home and family help. But thankfully, this young guy bailed us out. We now have a new battery on Jilda's car. Bullet dodged.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Snow Day

Just before we went to bed last night, the weatherman was pointing to the weather map saying the snow coming through this morning would be to the south and east of us. He said we could have a few flurries but that should be all.

I'm thinking the weatherman was hitting the cough syrup just a little too much because it started snowing and didn't let up until late this afternoon.

When I poked the ruler through the snow around 3:30 p.m. it was right at three inches. I know our Colorado friends would snicker, but it was a decent snow for us.

Samantha kept Jordan out of school and we played hard all day.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Learning how to see

We have a Japanese Maple tree in the backyard. It's in a pot as big as Delaware. I'm not sure why we haven't planted it in the ground because the pot weights much too much to wag inside.

The thing about this small tree is that it's beautiful, especially in the fall. It was slow to turn when the weather got cold. It seemed to want it to be summer for a while longer. The last few days, it surrendered.

I snapped a picture.

A few nights ago, I posted the picture I took at the forks of the river on Facebook. Someone said they were studying photography but they couldn't afford a "good" camera. I mentioned that I took the picture with my phone.

The thing is, I have an expensive digital camera. But the pictures I take with it are no better than the ones I take with my phone. 

When I was learning photography, I spent so much time and energy on getting the image "technically" right, that I didn't focus on the subject.

Jilda, who is an artist, taught me how to "see" photographs. And it's made all the difference. The best camera in the world is the one you have with you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Running on empty

It seems like I've been writing all day. I struggled with my column for Sunday's paper. I wrote three different ones before the words seemed to work. That's how it goes sometimes.

When Jilda got home from her early morning yoga class that she teaches for the staff where she works, we put on our jackets and walked. It was much colder after the rain moved through.

There wasn't a lot of color when we walked but I did see some lichen that fell from an oak tree in the yard.  I know it's kind of sad, but this is all that's left tonight.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Strangeness at the forks

I shot a couple pictures the other day when I was at the forks of the river. The light was amazing and I had the place to myself. 

When I walked up, there was a child's rocking horse sitting there. It was facing towards the east. My mind wrestled with what I was seeing. Why would a rocking horse be sitting there? My mind is usually good at connecting unconnected and seemingly unrelated dots. I'm not sure why I have that skill but I do. But still – there was a rocking horse sitting there and I was drawing a blank.

I have to go back there when the weather clears and talk to the crew and get the scoop. There's usually an interesting story connected to things there.  Once when I went, everyone was flying kites. You should know that most of the guys that meet there regularly are in the late 70s early 80s. But they seem much younger than their years because they are always laughing and having fun.

Anyhow, below is a picture of the rocking horse and another picture I shot while I was there.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Choosing a tree ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Thanksgiving was a low-key event for us this year. We had a few members of the family and some friends over on Thanksgiving Day to do the turkey thang. We may be a minority, but we like to celebrate Halloween in October and Thanksgiving in November. We don’t start decorating for Christmas until December. That’s just the way we roll.

This past week after coffee and breakfast, we headed to the tree farm for a Christmas tree. It will live in our yard until a couple of weeks before the fat guy cometh. Last year we waited too late and all the good “planting trees” were gone.

We settled for an artificial tree. It was pretty, but it smelled like polyvinyl chloride. For me, the tastes, sounds, and smells are what make it feel like Christmas. And the smell of plastic wasn’t Christmas-like. We vowed to do better this year.

The trees we’ve had in the past were Leland Cyprus. They make pretty trees, but they grow like they are on steroids. Our yard is full of them. The smallest one is about 15 feet tall. The largest one is well over 30 feet. The front and backyard look like Christmas forests. Our first live Christmas tree was a white pine that we bought in December of 1983. It’s now big enough that we could cut it and build a log cabin.

We wanted something different this year. Over near the edge of the tree farm, we saw a
Tree of Christmas past
beautiful tree. It was smaller than a Leland, but it had a good vibe. Sunlight made it look silvery blue. It smelled like the Pacific Northwest. The label said, Blue Ice.

Jilda stood guard by the tree while I fetched the “digger-upper-guys.” When I took them back to where she was standing, they gave me the tag and said I could go inside and pay for the tree while they dug it up and loaded it for me.

There was a line of tree-buyers waiting to pay. Apparently, a lot of people had the same “start early” idea as we did. So, I poured me a complimentary cup of hot apple cider and did some people watching while I waited.

Christmas music flowed from speakers that I could not see. Everyone in there was smiling. A cat, the size of a pot-bellied pig, purred on the counter while kids oohed, aahed, and petted him. After the swiping of the card, I headed back out for the drive home.

I’d never heard of a blue-ice Christmas tree so when I got home, I Googled it and learned that it’s an Arizona Cypress. Over the coming days, we’ll dig out our Christmas music, sip eggnog and decorate our little Blue Ice Cyprus. When Jilda does her magic, I know it will be beautiful.

We’ll also start our yearly tradition of watching our old Christmas movies. My favorite film to start the Christmas countdown is “A Christmas Story.” It always takes me back to the early Christmases in Sloss Hollow. Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation is usually the next one we watch.

This autumn has been a gift even though the weather has been warm at times.

But, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Where are they going

We could have snow this coming week. The weatherman hedged yesterday but today he seemed a little more certain we could see some flurries. I could have told him that we would have snow this winter. It said so in the Farmer's Almanac. 

Some people say the FA's predictions are unscientific, but in my unscientific opinion, they are often as good or better at predicting long-range forecasts as the Weather Channel.

Now, where was I? Oh yes – the prediction of snow motivated me to get the chicken pen snow-ready. I stuffed the laying boxes with fresh pine straw and tested the electricity and the small heater we use out there. 

After I finished my chores, I looked around for anything else that needed doing.  Things were pretty much in order.

I looked up at the evening sky before heading inside and I saw the contrail of an airplane headed west. I wasn't sure if there was enough light to take a picture but I shot one for grins.

After shooting the picture, I leaned against the back fence and stood for a long while. I could hear birds scurrying to find their places in the hedges. Woodsmoke from a neighbor's fireplace made me think of campfires and hootenannies. The brain is a wonderful vehicle. 

As it turns out, there was just enough light. But when I see a plane flying off into the horizon, I can't help but wonder where they are going. 

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