Sunday, April 30, 2017

Geese and Sunday stuff

When we looked at the forecast last night before turning in, the weatherman said we could have rough weather this evening.  We had a few more yard plants to buy for the yard and a few other chores. We discussed the plan over coffee on our back deck.  

The wind out of the west was restless and the trees swayed like toddlers taking the first steps. We left the back door open so that we could hear the morning music playing on our stereo.

Just before we headed inside, I heard a honking sound coming from behind us. In a moment I knew it was a flock of geese that has decided to make Empire their temporary home. There are ponds and strip pits all around us and the Mulberry River is just about close enough to hit it with a rock with my slingshot so they have plenty of water nearby.

I leaned my head back on the Adirondack chair on the deck and waited for them to fly over the house.
They honked their greetings as they flew toward the pond behind the barn.

I'm not sure they will stay the summer because it will be getting toasty soon. But I plan to enjoy them while they're here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Jilda and I normally don't eat a big breakfast. We most often eat cereal or one of her special protein shakes. Since this was a "lay sorry" weekend with no commitments, she decided to do biscuits, bacon, and eggs. She didn't have to twist my arm.

The scent of baking bacon (yes she cooks ours in the oven) drew me to the kitchen like the Sirens in Homer's Odyssey.

When she put the plate down on the table, I closed my eyes and let the aroma find it's way through neural pathways to my childhood. My mama cooked breakfast every morning. Most often it was eggs, biscuits, grits, and some kind of meat.

While Jilda fixed her plate, I snapped a picture.

The only other thing of significance I did today was to upgrade Jilda's phone. The weak-hearted would have shied away from an upgrade, but Jilda's phone was getting to the point that it would soon be going downhill. It took several hours, but she now is up and running. You'll have to check out her blog to see the first picture she shot with it.

Transformation Information.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Pink Mandevilla

The Mandevilla we had for years died this spring. We kept in inside over the winter and took it out when the weather changed. It sprouted a few shoots but then turned tobacco brown. I dumped the remains into our compost pile and wrote it off as an unsolved mystery.

Then last week when we visited our local produce stand, they had "monsta" ferns and out in front under their shaded entryway, were pink and red Mandevillas. The old one was crimson, but Jilda picked out the pink one to bring home.

It only had a few blooms when we repotted it.  The space beside the garden door on the deck seemed perfect. Soon after it acclimated to the new space, it put out new buds and they are coming out in force now.

After walking this evening, I sat on the deck to cool off before stepping inside. When I started indoors, I stopped and snapped a picture of one of the lower blooms.

I'ma loving this plant.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Yellow Yarrow

Jilda and I walked on our new property yesterday. Part of the land looks as well tended as a golf course. Just beyond the field, is a stand of old growth oak and hickory. Near the edge of the field was the remains of an old stump. The tree that once stood there was a casualty of a spring storm about 10 years ago. Our small community lost hundreds of stately trees in that storm.

The man who owned our new property back then had the trees cut in small sections to burn in his fireplace. The woodpile behind his house grew to mountainous proportions.

Now, all that's left where the trees once stood are little mounds of loam. The roots and the stumps were reclaimed by Mother Earth. The soil is a perfect place for wildflowers.

Yesterday as we walked we came upon a small patch of yellow yarrow. I stopped and leaned in close to smell of the blossom but with a steady wind out of the northeast, I couldn't catch an aroma.

The property looks more beautiful than when we first bought it. The only change is, we paid the last payment on the property in March.

In the scheme of things, do we really "own" anything? We may take possession for awhile, but when viewed through the eternal lens, our lifespan is but a blink of the eye. Still, it's comforting to know that for a while, we can call this little place our own.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sun bathing

I was off from work at the college today, but I always write my column for Sunday on Wednesday. Jilda teaches one class for the staff at the rehab center. She has to be there at 7 a.m.  

Shortly after coffee, she heads into work and I head to the screen porch to write. Today's column came easy. I'd been thinking about our old friend Louis who is struggling to hold on right now. The column wrote itself.

Jilda and I'd bought more tomatoes, herbs, flower seed, and other goodies to plant. Rain is supposed to move in tonight so we wanted to get everything planted.

When she got home, we donned work clothes and got at it. By mid-morning, the sun was high but there was a steady breeze out of the northwest that kept things perfect for garden work.

When we finished up, and I was rolling up the hosepipe, I looked inside the fence and saw Ol' Hook sunbathing. You can tell by the picture how hyper this dog is. He's totally deaf, but his eyesight is like lazervision.  

Today while we worked in the garden, he chased a butterfly shadow until he dropped. I guess he figured that time was right to roll over on his back and get a little sun on his tummy.

He is a comical dog.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Friendy forecast

I knew the day would be a good one even before it began. I'd just come back inside the house after feeding the chickens and prepared myself a bowl of Nature's Harvest cereal. 

Pouring the honey and milk onto my bowl, I started to sit down to eat. Just then, something caught my eye. Up near the northern rim of my bowl was a sliver of almond in the shape of a heart.  Is that a sign or what?

Not everyone looks for clues in their cereal bowl to get a feel for the day's forecast. Partly cloudy with a dash of drama? Add a little angst and handwringing on the side and you have a something to grind your teeth about.

Seeing that almond heart at breakfast told me today would be blue skies, friendly smiles, and a get out of the doldrums free card.

I hope your day was a good one too.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Universal Truths ~ my column from Sunday's paper

One of the most profound things I’ve discovered stumbling through life is that there are Universal Truths. These truths are things that any unbiased witness would affirm. What follows is my short list of Universal Truths that I’ve observed.

Education does not make you smart, and the lack of education does not make you stupid.

I’ve met highly educated people who could recite verses from ancient texts. They could argue about virtue, ethics, politics and religious theology. But they found simple life skills baffling. I’ve also known people who never finished grammar school analyze a complex problem and come up with an easy solution.

Attitude is everything.

My work at the college has me working with local employers. In my discussions with the people making hiring decisions, they often say when given a choice between two people, they would hire the one with a good attitude even if their skills aren’t quite as good as the other candidate. I’ve worked with talented people with rotten attitudes. Poor attitudes are toxic on groups that work (or play) together.

Silence is sometimes the best path but not always.

Abraham Lincoln said something profound on this topic: It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. But there are times when silence is not an option. Realizing which path to take requires wisdom.

Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.

Henry Ford contributed this universal truth. In my opinion, that thought is more valuable and important than his contribution to the manufacturing process at Ford Motor Company.

Each day I hear people say, “I could never do that.” It’s their first line of defense against almost any idea. When asked why they do not feel up to the task, they come up with a litany of lame excuses why something would not work. Sometimes rather than challenging them, I’ll say, “Then it must be true that you can’t.”

The road is long.

One of my favorite Aesop’s Fables is the Tortoise and the Hare. That childhood story is a profound truth. Life is not a hundred-yard dash. There will always be people faster, smarter, have more money, and better looking. History is filled with stories of people who came from nothing and over time became giants. Of course, the opposite is also true. The grandchildren of Cornelius Vanderbilt squandered an estimated $200 billion on big homes, fine cars and expensive wine. I guess they were all educated, but as I mentioned in my first universal truth above, education does not make you smart.

Procrastination is a thief.

I’ve learned this truth the hard way. Life is full of unpleasant tasks. These things can be ignored, but neglect will not make them go away. They hang around like lint on a black sweater. You can put these tasks on the back burner for a while, but they remain there festering like a splinter in your finger.

My wife Jilda had a ding in her windshield. For months I kept saying, I need to call and have that repaired. Had I not procrastinated, the insurance company would have sent a repairman and fixed the ding at no cost. But last week, a crack began spreading, and it didn’t stop until it reached the rubber seal. I called the insurance company and scheduled the repair. It took a half day of my life. Procrastination stole money from my wallet and time from my life. And that’s the truth.

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