Monday, October 20, 2014

Giving back ~ my column from Sunday's paper

There are things we give that will outlive us. This train of thought pulled into my mental terminal a few weeks ago while sitting on the back deck watching our great nephew Jordan play.

His mom had to work late and his Nana had a doctor’s appointment, so I picked him up at school.  

I asked him if he’d eaten. “Only a little fudge bar, but I’m pretty sure that’s not really food,” he confessed. I snickered at this observation from a six-year-old kid from rural Alabama. So, we headed out in search of some chicken.

Back at our house, he headed outside after he'd eaten. He loves me to give him challenge runs and time his efforts.

OK, you have to run down and touch the gate, circle the hemlock tree three times, rattle the chicken pen fence, touch the rotting stump and then back to the steps before I count to ten.

Then he’s off like a shot. I adjust the speed of my counting so that he comes in just under the wire.  He will do this until his legs are rubbery.

On that day, when the self-competition was over, we sat on wrought-iron chairs, and drank cool water. The shadows were getting longer with dappled sunlight falling on plants at the end of the deck.

A hummingbird hovered almost silently to drink nectar from the bleeding heart that is still blooming. Without saying a word, we both stood statue still, watching the tiny bird feed.

When it zipped off, Jordan stepped over and leaned in to smell the tiny white flowers with red tongues.

I told him that his great-great grandmother Mammie gave the plant to Jilda long before his mommy was born.

He had to turn that over in his mind a while, and I could tell it was hard for him to determine the age of the plant.

He asked if he could meet Mammie. When I told him she’d died a long time ago, he stood there silently considering the plant she’d left. “It sure is pretty to be so old,” he said.

I told him that some things we give, live long after we're gone. Again, he wrestled with what I was trying to say.

To explain, I told him that whenever he was kind, or did a good deed for someone, they usually remember that kindness.

He understood that, but was eager to move on, so I gave him another running challenge.

I’m not sure what things the children in our lives will remember. We've always encouraged them to read, study, work hard and to give back to society.

I often use a quote by Maya Angelou:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I think in the end, that’s all any of us can hope for –– that we've given enough to make the people in our lives feel special, and feel that they are loved.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breaks

My niece Samantha was knee deep in an epidemiology paper this afternoon and about to go postal on the neighborhood. She's in the final months before graduating in May.

Jilda knows how to soothe the angry beast when she rears her ugly self in our mild-mannered niece -- she bakes chicken and her favorite rice.

When she walked over with her son Jordan, she was wound tighter than the short strings of a harp.

But I had new-age piano music playing and the table was set with glasses of ice tea with ice ticking in the glass.

Outside, the mama deer with twin fawns strolled up to feed. The little ones started running wide rings around the mama. 

It was the type of show that could make the most stressed person on the planet smile.

She seemed to be a little taller when they walked out headed home. A while later, her paper dinged in my email.

Jilda and I always scan her work to catch any obvious faux pas. It read as if it had been written by a graduate student. 

It's interesting what a break can do for you.




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lazy Saturday

Today was low-key. My wife Jilda had a little bump in the road with a reaction to the treatments she takes monthly, so after a few early-morning errands, we settled in.

After lunch, two of our great nephews came over to bake spooky-spice cookies. It's a tradition Jilda does each year. She whips up the cookie dough, and the kids help her cut out the cookies and then decorate theirs with as much sugar sprinkles as they please.

Some of the cookies come out of the oven as thick as a deck of cards with enough sugar on them to make your heart race.  I snapped a picture, but I sent it to her for her blog tonight.

I then watch my team put a thorough tail-whipping on Texas A&M. The game lasted until after five.

Once outside,  I realized I'd forgotten to put corn out for the deer ,so grabbing a scoop from the shed and headed down to the field to put it under the apple tree.

The sun had already slipped below the horizon, but the waning light still painted the passing clouds the color of peach sherbet.

It seemed the perfect end to a lazy Saturday.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Autumn apples

Our apples are slow to ripen. We have neighbors with June apples and by mid summer, they're gone. They taste pretty good, but they aren't autumn apples.

Our apples take their time. They just hang around on the tree all summer getting fat and sweet. My nephew came up with his wife a few days ago and picked some of the low-hanging fruit.

I picked some as well. Tomorrow, I'll take the ladder down there and get the big sweet ones that are always just out of reach for those standing on the ground.

The tree bows under the weight of the harvest. We'll start canning, freezing, cooking, and drying apples and still have bushels to give to our family and friends.

Today was homecoming for the local high school and I do the website. So I shot parade photos today from noon until two and tonight I shot pictures at the ballgame.

As I got in the truck to head home, my knees squeaked. When I walked through the door at home, the aroma of apple in the oven lifted my spirits.

I'm not sure there is a better end to the day than a slice of hot apple pie.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

A beautiful autumn day

I had an appointment in Birmingham today. I got there a little early so I checked in the with the receptionist and found a nice seat in the atrium.

It was a beautiful day and the sun filtering through the glass was warm on my arms.

Pulling out my laptop, I looked back over the interview questions to make sure the notes listed everything I wanted to ask.

The receptionist stepped back up to say that the administrator wasn't available. "She thought she'd sent you an email to reschedule," she said apologetically.

I flipped back through my email and there were no messages from her. I had the date and time right.
Smiling at the receptionist, I said "It's a beautiful day, no problem. We'll be in touch."

No one would have faulted me for being upset, but I decided not to give anyone that power today, so I snapped my laptop closed and headed to the truck.

Driving back to the Interstate, I noticed Seeds Coffee House on the left. I turned into the lot and headed inside.

The order I always get when I have coffee house coffee is a mocha. The shop was full of people sitting by the windows in the sun tapping away on their laptops while melodic music wafted from the Bose speakers positioned around the room.

When the coffee arrived, the barista had drawn a delicate flower design with creme and it floated on the surface like an apparition.

It's the little touches that make an experience special.

I had to leave early this morning and I didn't have a chance to walk, so I thought I'd take a walk after arriving home.

The breeze out of the west was cool, but afternoon sun was warm and played with the color of the flowers at the edge of our sad little garden.

I stepped over an snapped a few pictures. Before long, they'll be gone until next spring. I will miss them.




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Your worth

Getting rejections for your work is part of the process for most writers. Even the best authors got rejections in the beginning.

Jilda and I pitched a song in Nashville many years ago and the guy who turned us down said, "Hey, don't feel bad, I passed on the million seller song "Wind Beneath My Wings."

It didn't help our feelings, but I think had we seen this little sign, it would have made us feel better.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Change of plans

I'd blocked off this afternoon to finish my column. I had meetings this morning but everything had fallen into place.

Helped Jilda get off to work, CHECK
Hot Ginger tea brewed, CHECK
Pandora on solo piano station, CHECK
Idea for column, CHECK

My fingers had just begun the dance with letters and the backspace key
Ah yes, that will work,  BACKSPACE,  BACKSPACE,  BACKSPACE,
Ah yes......then the phone rang.
!@$#%FF%^&(JHHREXC&^%RFGHJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !@$#%FF%^&(JHHREXC&^%RFGHJ
I shouldn't translate.

It was my sister-in-law who is our great nephew Jordans' grandmother called to say the power was off at the school and my nephew Jordan was marooned. She works as a bookkeeper there and was in a bind.

Change of plans. I saved the document, put on some shoes, grabbed my keys and headed to school.

Jordan was waiting when I arrived. A few seconds later and we were off. I needed gas in the truck, and a lady who's helping me do research for a story called from the library to say she had more information for me.

The course of action was apparent. We needed fuel, and we needed to go to the library.

"You buckled in Bubba?"

"I'm in."

"You want to go to the library?"

"Sure."

And just that quickly we were off to Jasper.

Jordan had never been to the Walker County Library and his eyes got big when he stepped in.
We found Mrs. Blanton who'd graciously been searching for information and got the pages she'd found for me.

Before we headed out, Ms Blanton said, "There's a great section just there that I think you'd enjoy."

Jordan went out and began to peruse books. He found some and we headed toward the checkout.

"Show them your library card," I instructed. "I don't have one," he said. "YOU DON'T HAVE A LIBRARY CARD!!!!!!!" I said in mock incredulity.

He laughed and said "NO."

I told the clerk, that we'd need to apply for a card.

A few moments later he was filling out the card and standing in front of a camera to have his picture made.

I could tell he felt important having a library card. When the clerk gave him his return receipt, I told him to put that date in his iPad so that he'd make sure he returned the books on time.

The ride home, I listened to a six-year-old read about whale sharks. The book was obviously written
for someone reading at a more advanced level than Jordan, but he sounded out every word.

When I stopped for gas, his loose tooth came out.

All in all, it was an exciting afternoon.

I'll write my column tomorrow.





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