Monday, December 31, 2007
I have to temper the excitement somewhat because the last time I was REALLY excited about and upcoming year was 1976. Our country was coming out of years under Nixon and Ford and the turmoil that surrounded those administrations. We were finally out of Vietnam and we had a farmer headed for the White House. I got fired on my birthday, January 15th and I was unemployed for the entire year. I had been working at the Community News in Sumiton, Alabama with my friend Dale but the owner of the newspaper decided our little piece of heaven needed a publisher onsite. The relationship quickly went south and a few weeks after the regime change, I was on the unemployment line. To be honest, that was probably a gift because I was barely making minimum wage and the future was not bright there. But, I digress - I feel like good things are on the horizon for Jilda and me.
This morning we went to Jolly Cholly's produce stand and bought some collards for lunch tomorrow. We always lunch with Jilda's sister Pat where we eat black eyed peas, collards, and cornbread. The peas and collards are a tradition especially here in the south. They guarantee that you will have good fortune and money the coming year. We take no chances and eat a double helping of each - it doesn't hurt that we both love black eyed peas, greens and corn bread.
This evening while Jilda was teaching her Monday yoga class, I went to the Piggly Wiggly Grocery store and bought some nice steaks, a salad, some bread and a nice bottle of wine. We plan to have a relaxing evening here and stay off the roads which can get crazy on New Year's Eve.
Later on tonight we'll watch the festivities at Times Square and we'll ring out the old and ring in the new year.
I hope everyone has a great holiday.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
This has been a good year, for the most part. I did lose my last aunt in January and we a dog that we have had for years. But on the positive side, I became a columnist for the local paper which was a good thing. We also visited Joe Wheeler State Park for my birthday this year and had a relaxing day hiking and enjoying the wildlife. We wrote a bunch of new songs, one of which was used in a play "The Lake".
I attended the "Writer's Today" workshop at Birmingham Southern College and learned a great deal about writing. We also had an excellent garden this year.
I celebrated a 30 year anniversary at my company and we improved our financial position over this past year. I read twenty five books and took lots of photographs.
We updated our recording software and equipment, joined Taxi and attended the Taxi Road Rally in LA.
I'm still reading back over my journal and I will probably finds some other stuff to add to my accomplishments this year but for now, I'm going to knock off and go watch the Tide play Colorado in the Independence Bowl.
Happy New Year's.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
It cycles through the photographs like a slide show and it's almost like a time machine. One set of pictures was from the San Francisco trip a few years ago and there is a photograph of Jilda and I that was taken at Pebble Beach. It's one of my favorite pictures of us taken by my niece Samantha. It was her first time on and airplane and her first time in California.
Another group of photos was from our trip to Sedona, Arizona. We went there for our anniversary a few years ago. It too is one beautiful place on earth.
A lot of the pictures on the the frame are pictures of our family at Christmas and other holidays. Just looking at the photos as they cycle through brings a smile to my face. And for a moment, it sends me back to the time and place of the picture. Every picture tells a story and it seems I never tire of them.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I used to hate the rain when I worked outside climbing poles. I remember one Christmas Eve in the early 80's I had to work. They would normally let us off after lunch if things were slow, but we had a ton of work orders for trim line phones. That was long before cell phones and it seemed like every kid in Walker County wanted a trim line or princess phone for Christmas. I worked late to get the last phone installed. The wind out of the north would cut like thorns and to make it worse, there was a drizzling rain steadily falling. I was soaked to the bone and the lady of the house was kind enough to make me a cup of hot coffee and build a fire in the fireplace to help warm me up. I'm guessing she got tired of hearing my teeth chatter.
But today the rain was like an old friend that you don't get to see enough. I was also thankful that we didn't have the storms the weatherman had predicted.
I'm off work until next year. I hope you all have a great weekend.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Folks don't seem to be talking about the war now. It's become a part of the fabric of our lives now and since it is so painful to contemplate, I feel that some folks would like to put it out of their minds.
We are in so deep now that it would be a disaster if we pulled out without providing some type of stability, but I'm not sure our leaders have a plan. If there is a plan, what is it, and what is the status? I think we need to hold our leaders accountable. If they don't have a clue, then let's elect someone who does.
When you talk to soldiers, most every one will say without hesitation that they are willing to lay their lives on the line. But that is a lot to ask. I think it is our responsibility to make sure that they get out as quickly as humanly possible.
New Year’s is a special holiday for me. For as long as I can remember, I have taken the time between Christmas and New Year’s for reflection and self examination. Each year I make a list of goals on which I plan to work. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail miserably. I keep a journal so I can look back to see how I did.
I think setting goals has helped me to be more productive in my life. But in order for goals to be effective, they must be specific and measurable. “I would like to lose some weight,” is not a very good goal. “I want to lose three pounds a month,” is a much better goal.
It’s good to set up reminders either on your calendar, day planner, or on you computer so that you can remember the goals when your head gets full. I’ve also found that if you penalize yourself when you miss your targets, you are more likely to accomplish your goals. For example, if you haven’t lost three pounds by January 31st, you must eat tripe, pig feet, or something else that is disgusting. The next month you’ll skip a meal or two and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
I’ve always focused on self-help. My library at home has hundreds of books that have helped me become a better gardener, musician, writer, husband and friend.
The title of my column, “Life 101” is no accident. I believe that every day is a school day. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are destined to repeat them time and again until you do learn.
When I look back at my journal for this past year, I have made a great deal of progress. We have improved our financial position; we have spent more time with our family and friends, and we focused on our health. I have read twenty five books this year and we traveled to a music conference in
Another goal I set for this year was to find an outlet for my writing. I have written daily in my web log (BLOG) for more than two years and I wanted to write for a weekly column for a newspaper. So I took a vacation day on January 11th, and made an appointment with Brian Kennedy at the Daily Mountain Eagle. I walked into his office and told him I wanted to write for the Eagle. He looked over my work and agreed to get back with me. Within a few days, I was a columnist.
Not all goals are that easy to accomplish but when you write them well, commit them to paper, and maintain a level of commitment, you can do most anything.
Here are a few goals that I have set for myself for the coming year:
- To publish a book of my columns
- To get music in at least one movie or TV program this year
- Lose two pounds per month until I reach my ideal weight of 205 pounds
- Go someplace I have never been before
- Get my column in at least five additional publications during the coming year
If I don’t weight 205 pounds or less on December 31st 2008, I will eat a can of sardines.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Everyone would get cranked up on my mom's Christmas punch, wolf down a pound or two of divinity or some other kind of killer candy and by 9 p.m. we were ready to open Christmas presents. The kids were in a frenzy by that time and the house was pure pandemonium. That's when my mom really began to smile. She would start giving out the gifts but there were so many to give out that she would always called for reinforcements to help give out the gifts. By the time all the presents were opened there would be a mountain of Christmas wrapping paper.
After my mom's health began to fail, she went to live with my sister, things began to change and new traditions observed. We now exchange gifts on Christmas day.
This change left Christmas Eve open for us. What was once a rush to get here and there is now a relaxing evening where we do a nice dinner, have a little wine and open the gifts that we got for each other.
It felt odd at first, but the one thing I've come to understand is that things change. You can fret about it or make the best of it. Christmas Eve is now one of my favorite times during the holidays.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The dynamics of these parties is always a delight. We invite a bunch of people but we know that the timing of the party plays havoc on Christmas scheduling but our party has been on the same day for twenty years. Some years the party spills out onto the deck and side porch and some times it is a smaller crowd. Sometimes music is the main focus and sometimes it the conversation and fellowship.
In all these years we've never had a bad party. We've only missed two years since 1987; one year there was ice on the roads and the other year we had a death in our family. I know everyone says this, but we have some of the best friends on the planet. Our friends are doctors, lawyers, accountants, therapist, counselors, nurses, farriers, musicians, computer geeks, and writers. Every one of them is a treasure.
Tonight as we washed up dirty glasses and wiped up spilled wine we both glowed. I thought to myself, this is what Christmas is all about.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It was the first time I had ever been away from home for Christmas and I felt disconnected and I don't think I have ever felt more lonesome in my life.
Things get crazy around Christmas but when you are home, you are a part of the craziness and you get swept up in a million emotions. You can be so happy to be around the friends and family you love, but you can also feel profound sadness. You see people in abysmal circumstances, and Christmas time seems to act like a magnifying glass bringing the need into sharper focus.
The folks I really feel for this holiday season are our soldiers who are so far away from home. I know it is hard because I have been there.
My Christmas prayer is for their safety and that they get to come home to their families soon.
Friday, December 21, 2007
My birthday will be in a few weeks and we are going to spend a few days at the beach. It has been much too long since we were there. I love going in the winter. It's not crowded at all and walking along the beach in shorts and a sweater suits me just fine.
Cutting the entry short tonight. Not much on my mind. Take care and have a great weekend.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Once the rain blew out around five this evening, the western horizon turned the color of dying embers in a camp fire. It looked like a huge forest fire off in the distance. I grabbed the camera and shot a few pictures but the trees in my back yard made prevented a really good shot. But just seeing it was a gift.
Jilda does meditation recordings to give out to the people that come through the yoga program where she works. I spent the afternoon editing one of her recording. I added the sound of the surf along with some ethereal sounds from our keyboard. The end product almost put me to sleep just mixing it down.
It's taking a while to master the recording software and equipment but all the time invested is beginning to pay off.
We're watching our Christmas movies this week. Tonight we're watching "A Christmas Carol" with Patrick Stewart. He does a great Bah Humbug.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Jilda collects old teapots and we have a high shelf in the kitchen on which most of the pots live. It was my job to dust the shelf and clean the pots. Again, when I got up there I could have planted an herb garden and a row of corn up there. We cleaned until early afternoon and we still have some work to do.
I raked five pickup loads of leaves out of the front and back yards. I hauled the leaves down and spread them over the garden so that they can rot over the winter and hopefully give the garden a boost next spring.
Our barn had leaves in the gutters that I have not cleaned in a few years. This evening I got a ladder, climbed on top and cleaned them off. It's amazing to me how letting just a few things slide can really pile up on you.
Anyhow, I'm sitting out on the side porch winding down this evening. I have a feeling it will be an early night tonight.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I got a couple of last minute things for Jilda in the mail today for her Christmas Stocking. We both have Yuletide stockings and they are quite beautiful. Mine has a snowman on it and Jilda's has an Angel holding a dove. They look like antiques....actually they probably are considered antiques now.
But we have enjoyed the stockings so much that we have given one to all the kids in our family. We order them from Lands End and have the names embroidered on them. It's a gift that they can hold on to for the rest of their lives and each year as they unpack their Christmas decorations, hopefully they will remember us.
When our niece Samantha was about seven years old, she often stayed with us while her parents worked. And each year as Christmas approached she would always remind me "don't forget the stocking stuffers."
We had two new stockings to buy this year. Daisy, who is my nephew Jame's daughter, and our great niece Casey had a child today - Payton Elizabeth. They will have their new stockings by Christmas.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Doves prefer the cracked corn and they usually come in twice a day to feed. About ten in the morning and around three in the afternoon. When I looked out this morning, there must have been a hundred doves feeding. I went about my work and a few moments later I heard a whack against one of our front windows. That usually means a bird emergency. For some reason when the light hits the glass at a certain angle it confuses the birds and they fly into the glass. Most of the time there is a thump which means they realized their mistake and pull up at the last moment and thud into the glass chest first. They usually hit the ground where they spend some time getting their breath and trying to figure out who was driving the truck that hit them. They usually lie there on the ground for a few moments before launching into the air and away from the windows.
Today the sound was different. When you hear a whack, a sharper impact, it usually means the bird did not see the glass in time and they flew into it head first. That was the case with the dove this morning. When I ran outside, I knew immediately that she was dead. I did get a towel, wrap her up and bring her inside for a while to see if she recovered, but sadly she did not. I later took her out back and buried her with all the noble creatures that have died here.
This afternoon, we were sitting in the living room reading when Jilda said look there in the top glass. I looked up to see where the dove had hit the glass and the place looked like a small angel had pressed up against the glass with her wings outstretched. I thought to myself, a tiny angel did visit us today.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The picture of him that stays in my mind is the picture of him when he was about eight years old. He was at the Davis Cemetery leaning against his mother's legs at the graveside of his father. It was a warm sunny day and the voice of a country preacher droned in the autumn breeze; but I don't recall a word he said. I was ten at the time. The image of Micky standing there, hurting in a way that I could not begin to understand, is etched in my brain as if it had been scraped there with a dull pen knife.
I remember the night his father died as if it were last night. It was October 19th 1961. My daddy always had to get up early to drive to work, so we all went to bed with the chickens. I was restless that night and as I tossed and turned, I could hear a hound howling in the distance and it made a slight chill ripple up my spine. Sometime in the wee hours of the night I heard a knock on the side of our house just below my bedroom window. I bolted straight up in the bed. I heard my mother call from their bedroom - "who is it?" "It's Joe Wires, Elwanda, Frank's dead."
Mr. Wires was a neighbor of Micky's family and he had walked the mile and a half to let us know about the death. Frank was barely 40 years old and died of a massive heart attack.
Seeing Micky today was a gift and it did my heart good. He looked healthy and strong. We both promised to do a better job of keeping in touch. It is my intention to keep that promise.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
It was chilly this morning as Jilda and I went out to watch the Christmas Parade. Our niece Zoe was an elf on one of the floats so we had to see that. I maintain the City of Sumiton's website so I posted up the pictures from the parade for folks to see. Watching the kids is the most fun for me. The kids in the parade and the ones watching simply beam. I have to put my hands over my ears when the sirens blare but the kids don't flinch. And most of them smile for ear to ear.
If you'd like to see the parade photos, go to: http://thecityofsumiton.com/ChristmasParade/web/index.htm
Friday, December 14, 2007
A few days ago I dropped by to check on my mom and Ol' Buddy rode down there with me. My sister has a reindeer about 18 inches tall that's animated. When you plug it up, it moves around and turns its head back and forth. The little motor makes a slight moaning sound as the little mechanical beast moves about. Ol' Buddy was sitting obediently by my side until he noticed the deer. Before I could grab his collar he was all over that deer like cheap cologne. I snatched him up growling, snarling and snapping. I'm not sure if the mechanical moan sounded like an personal insult, or what but Ol' Buddy was not happy.
Luckily I managed to break up the altercation before the antlers came off or before Buddy got a mouth full of electrical wire. He looked up at me as we headed out the door as if the say "If you'd left we alone with that deer for a few minutes, I would have put him out of his misery, that's for sure." I have not doubt that he would have.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
She was freaked and it was dark when she got home and couldn't tell if the car was damaged or not. When I got home I pulled the truck up close so that I could inspect the vehicle for damage. Strangely enough, it looked like someone had taken a rag and wiped the grime off both doors and the back quarter panel but there was not a scratch or dent on the car. Apparently the angle of impact was such that she grazed the beast, and that spared them both a lot of pain. If Bambi had bolted an instant earlier, Terror Girl would have had and air bag and deer parts in her lap and I obviously would have changed her name to Deer Slayer.
I guess Bambi will think twice before tangling with Terror Girl.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I'm not the only one who watches shows time and again. My friend at work, Joe, watches reruns of Andy Griffith. Someone bought him a Mayberry Trivia Game a few years back and he remains unbeaten. They say he can quote episodes.
If anyone has seen a good movie lately I'd love to hear about it. We love adventure, love stories, drama and story movies. We don't watch violent, bloody, or scary movies. We're much too old for that.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In years past we would have made hot apple cider to drink while we decorated. Jilda has this world famous recipe. She pours a gallon of cider into our large coffee percolator and puts in a bag of those little Red Hot Candy where the coffee usually goes. She also throws in a few garlic cloves and some others mystery stuff but what comes out is killer cider. Anyhow, just thinking about that hot cider in eighty degree weather made me sweat even more so we skipped the cider but the tree still turned out well.
We’ve been using live trees that you can plant ever since we been in our house. We moved into our house on December 11th 1983. We were so excited as the workmen were finishing up. We didn't know at first if we'd be in by Christmas but we had a stretch of good weather and the carpenter gods were with us.
Our great-room has floor to ceiling windows and on that first night we hauled in a mattress and laid it on the floor in front those windows. We bought some cheap champagne and had a little gratitude ceremony. Before we fell asleep, a small deer ran into our yard and peered in through the windows for a moment before scampering off. I took that as a good sign.
Over the following days we moved all our furniture out of the single wide 12x65 trailer and into our new home. We lived in the trailer for ten years and we never missed it....except when it rains.
Our Christmas tree was a white pine that we bought from our friend at Four Seasons. It came in a big ol' bucket and we put it in a number 3 washtub and decorated it with all white pearl lights. It was the prettiest trees I had ever seen. After Christmas we dug a hole just outside our great-room windows and planted the pine not knowing if it would live or not. It did and today it is at least forty feet tall. We have bird feeders in it and it is one of the small pleasures that makes life fun.
Monday, December 10, 2007
We got a dispatch from Taxi on an HBO series that needs a John Denver-like song for an upcoming episode. We didn't have anything but Sunday morning as we drank our coffee, we started kicking around ideas and came up with a nifty song. I spent the morning recording it and I sent it off for their consideration. We'll know in a week or so if it gets picked.
Both Jilda and I have learned that we do better when we have deadlines. Without a deadline, we say "hey we need to write a song or we need to practice or....." Without a deadline, these things are prime targets for procrastination. Give us a deadline and we are all over it like a cheap suit.
For all of you that are working this week, y'all don't work to hard. I plan to have a boatload of fun.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I spent a few hours with Fred and saved myself hundreds of dollars in therapy and I also saved what little hair I have left. This stuff is so simple once you learn to understand Snoopy.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I had to head out sooner than I would have liked but it's my weekend to stay with my mom so we had to say our goodbye's and head towards home. I hope you all have a great weekend.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Today when I called home Jilda answered on the cordless phone because the chickens were raising a ruckus and she was headed out top investigate. I then heard he exclaim "get out of here - get away from those chickens!" When I asked what was going on she said a big yellow cat was trying to sneak up on the hens. I guess the feline thought they were big honkin' doves but that's not allowed in our yard so Jilda opened the door and sic'ed Ol' Buddy on the cat. She did this knowing that there was absolutely no way that Buddy could actually catch the cat but she felt it would send the right message and seemed to be a fitting response to the intrusion. Ol' Buddy sprang into action but was unable to get the proper traction on the wooden floors of the living room and when he finally got traction he careened off a post on the front porch and was all over the unsuspecting cat. I a fluid motion, the cat was up a tree and Buddy slammed into the trunk. When he gained his composure, he barked until he got hoarse.
Had this occurred before the back fence, it could have gotten nasty for the cat as the big dogs don't play. They have not yet bought in to the "live and let live" camp, in fact they are more closely aligned with the faction that believes the only good cat is a dead cat and that is one reason they are kept inside the fence.
When I got home this evening, Ol' Buddy was lying in front of the living room window with his head on the seal keeping his best eye out for chicken slayer. I bet he'd love to have a pair of tennis shoes for Christmas so that he could hone a few seconds off his response time.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Today at work another friend of mine was talking to he son, who is in college, about going to Georgia to look at a car. His son said it's on the eastern side of the state on the line next to South Carolina. My friend gave his son a very hard time saying that all that was on the east side of Georgia was the Atlantic. He rodes his son quite hard and even questioned his investment in the boy's education. the son became frustrated and hung up the phone. We all sat around and had a big laugh at the son's expense. Another friend who overheard the exchanged came up to me a little later with a printed copy of a US map and guess what? If you draw a straight line from Birmingham east, you will run into South Carolina before you get to the Atlantic. I'd bet the boy has the last laugh when his dad discovers that he doesn't know much about geography.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
We saw a doggie sweater in a catalog this week that we're thinking about getting Ol' Buddy. It's red and the writing on it says "BAD TO THE BONE". I think that seems fitting (pun intended) for the little beast.
He loves grown-ups (except for the UPS guy), but he hates kids with a passion. I have to lock him up in the laundry room whenever kids visit. When ever a kid gets near, he starts growling and snarling and when I scold him, he looks at me as if to say, "let me bite 'em up, it'll do 'em good!"
Anyhow, hopefully inspiration will visit me tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I decided to take vacation the rest of the day so Jilda and I loaded up in the truck and headed off to grab a bite of lunch and fetch ourselves a Christmas tree. We decided on Cracker Barrel because I have been craving Chicken and Dumplings. As always, the food and service was good at the Barrel so we paid the bill and headed towards Pine Hill Farms in Fultondale, Alabama. It is a little off the beaten path, but it is a really need little operation.
When we got out of the truck it was about 1 p.m. and even though the sky was clear as a bell and the sun was overhead, the breeze out of the north would cut you like a razor so we bundled up and wandered through the trees looking for the one that was right for us.
The rolling hills around the farm are dotted with Christmas trees of various sizes and walking through the fields on this crisp autumn day felt like we were in a move. The farm also has reindeer. The woman in the gift shop said they give weekend tours for groups of kids. I wouldn't mind acting like a kid one weekend and taking the tour myself.
There were some very nice Carolina Sapphire trees but I was not sure if these trees would live in Alabama when it gets hotter than a furnace in the summer, so we selected a 6 foot Leyland Cypress. We've had good luck with this kind of tree. They are planted in huge plastic pots and have to be dug up which was no small chore. A young worker came up with a sharp-shooter shovel and dug that puppy up and put it in the truck.
For $55 we have a very nice tree that we will enjoy for years to come.
Next weekend we will bring our new tree in, put on Windham Hill's "December" CD, mix up Jilda's special Eggnog and we'll decorate the tree. It's one of my most favorite things to do at Christmas.
I'll take a picture when it's decorated and share it with you all.
Monday, December 03, 2007
If you pumped that thing up five or six times, it would shoot like a 22 rifle but when you only pumped it once, it would only leave a nasty whelp when he popped you on the leg or rear end.
I got out of hand one day and he popped me on my left thigh. I headed for the house to rat him out to mother. She was judge and jury in such matters and she'd make him pay dearly, I was thinking to myself. Neil headed me off at the pass and said that if I told mother she'd whip him. "You got that right bubba," I snapped. "Well if I get a whuppin, I'll catch you asleep one night and put a grub worm in your ear. He'll eat out your brains and all your wiring and you'll walk around like a zombie for the rest of your life," he said deviously. I was pretty sure he was bluffing, but that threat put a nasty picture in my head and caused bad dreams for a month. On second thought, I decided to give him one more chance.
A bunch of boys from the neighborhood decided to play Cowboys and Indians one warm summer day. I was among the crew that somehow wound up as a Cowboy with Neil. The rest of the boys were Indians. We gave them all a head start and then set out to round 'em up. After an hour or so, we caught all the Indians except for Larry who was extremely fleet of foot. We finally hemmed him up and Neil ordered him tied to a tree. Once restrained, Neil began to interrogate the prisoner. "Where's your camp and the rest of the tribe?" he demanded. "I ain't got no camp, or a tribe either Neil," Larry pleaded. You could hear the panic creeping into his voice. Neil said "tell us where the camp is or we'll burn you at the stake." "I think I hear your mama callin' you Neil," which was Larry's feeble attempt at subterfuge.
We menaced him for a while longer then Neil softened. "If he's gonna start whining we might as well turn him loose." So we cut him free and he ran like the wind back home.
Neil would never have burned Larry alive, but singeing the hair off his arms and legs probably crossed his mind.
If we had played that little game today, not only would we have been chided for being politically incorrect, but we'd probably all have been taken to reform school.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The blog has definitely honed my writing and forced a discipline which had been lacking. So many of the great writers say that the only way to get better is to read and write....there is no substitute.
I now use the blog as a stepping stone for the columns I write each week for the various papers. I'll take an idea and expand upon it.
I am grateful for all of my faithful visitors who have stuck with me even when the entries were gibberish. I value the comments and encouragement. Thank you all.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
As we ate we turned on the tube and Private Benjamin was showing. Goldie Hawn played Private Benjamin and just watching that movie brought back memories of my experience in basic training.
I was drafted in 1971 and I spent the summer at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Ft. Campbell is on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.
The marching began immediately:
Ain't no use in goin' home
Jodie's got your girl and gone
It seemed like we marched all over Kentucky. We'd march a while and then we'd run a while. The Army gave me my first cooking class....well, you probably couldn't call it a class, but I did peal a truckload of potatoes and I cleaned the floor of the mess hall with a toothbrush. Apparently I was cleaning the floor much to fast with the regular brush so the Mess Sargent found me a tiny brush to slow me down.
We also watched a bunch of training films on the various kinds of gas that could potentially be used on us. Towards the end of the training, they issued each of us a gas mask and sent us into a bunker one at a time. We put on our gas masks and walked up to the Drill Sargent who was standing inside with his gas mask on. You couldn't really see that good because there was a dense fog inside, like a hot shower on a cold morning. "TAKE OFF THE MASK WATSON!!" he ordered. I was hesitant but I took a long breath, held it, and took my mast off. My face and eye began to burn. "How's it going Watson," he said casually. "Fine Drill Sargent," I managed to rasp out still holding my breath. "What day it is Watson?" Tuesday Drill Sargent. Now my lungs were beginning to burn. "Where are you from Watson?" Dora, Alabama, I managed. "What's your social security number?" As I started reciting my social, my lungs ran out of breath and I had to inhale about a gallon of tear gas. He then let me out of bunker. I was coughing and sneezing at the same time and stuff came out of my head that probably should have remained up there somewhere. The objective of the exercise is to familiarize you with tear gas. I have been familiar ever since. Believe me, that exercise prevented me in participating in any form of public protests after I got out of the Army, because the last thing I wanted was another snoot full of tear gas.
That's probably more information that you wanted, but seeing the Army movie tonight brought that memory back and I actually winced when it showed the scene with them coming out of the gas chamber.
The last think I remember hearing as I walked off the Fort Jackson, South Carolina when I was discharged in 1973 was a group of new recruits marching somewhere -
A yellow bird, a yellow bill
Landed on my window sill
I lured him in with crumbs of bread
And then I stomped his little head
Friday, November 30, 2007
When the unit arrived, I loaded my recording software and it immediately crashed Vista with the old Blue Screen of Death. I tried it several times to no avail.
Last night, I contacted Dell support and they began to work with me on my problem. I kept asking if I could get XP software and drivers so that I could reload the laptop to use with my recording software. The tech really didn't want that to happen. Part of his reasoning was that "XP will be going away in a few months." I had to stop him there - "here's the deal Shehnaz, I work with EDS and we have almost 130,000 employees most of which have PC's running XP. It ain't going away in a few months."
He then collected himself and after a few more minutes, I told him that if I could not get XP on the laptop that I would return it.
I thought I would be looking elsewhere for a new laptop but he said if XP would make me happy, then they would send me a new laptop with XP loaded. I told him I was very happy and also recommended that his boss double his salary. I think he was happy too.
I'm waiting to see if they stand by his decision but I'm betting they will. I am encouraged that that will replace the PC at their expense even thought the problem was not actually caused by their product.
If you are new to PC's and you do just basic stuff, I think Vista would probably be fine, but if you've invested money in software for XP, don't count on it working with Vista.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I wrapped up a project today that has taken up most of my time at work for the last few weeks. With the holidays coming and the end of the year in sight, things have slowed down significantly as most work will be shifted to the new year.
I'll be working on my goals and commitments for the coming year. That will be a challenge because there is still a lot of stuff up in the air. I have faith that things will work our as they should.
Having issues with the new laptop. Y'all pray for me.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The problem is, I know of no one who lives nearby that can explain this stuff in terms that ordinary humans can grasp. So I'm forced to read technical documents that were not intended for human consumption. Do you remember those guys in high school that walked around with calculators that you had to plug in and slide rules in there pockets? They traded those big 5 1/2 inch floppy disk drives that contained source code and computer hacks. They could read these documents with no sweat - "oh, I see the problem. It says right here you have to have the drivers for the flux capacitor re-compiled and the gain adjusted with an oscilloscope. " What's an oscilloscope? I stammer. "Never mind that, just plug your USB cable in here, twist this knob until the lights dim in your house and then right click on this icon here. You might consider wearing safety glasses," he suggests helpfully.
Anyhow, I'm going IN. If you don't hear from me for a few days, there's a very good chance I'm in the loony bin, jabbering incessantly about midi, quantizing, Aux Sends and Receives..............
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I got a haircut which took all of about three minutes and cost thirteen buck. I think I really need to invest in a set of hair clippers with a number three guard. I could pay for it in less than three months.
We've been talking with our new friends we met at the Taxi conference. James Leonard who lives in San Francisco is trying to talk us into going to the songwriter festival this coming July in Hawaii. The event is limited to 100 songwriter so every participant gets quality face time with the elite
in the music industry. Having the festival at one of the most beautiful places on the planet is not bad either. I've been told that one of the best sunrises on earth can be viewed from the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii.
I've almost talked myself into registering for this event now and figuring out how to pay for it later. Maybe I'll hit the 200 million dollar lottery tomorrow night and financing the trip won't be a issue :)
Monday, November 26, 2007
I spent part of the day re-recording some of our songs. One thing we learned at the Taxi conference is that we have to do a better job at presentation. Recording, for me, is a slow process because when you are musician and the engineer, each time you mess up you have to start from the top. When you have an engineer, they can usually punch-in, and so fixing mistakes is simple.
I managed to get through the guitar parts of one song. Jilda will come in later and do the vocals. I think the more recording I do, the better I will get at engineering or at least that is my hope.
This week I plan to tackle more songs. I think I'll post a few and seek feedback. That's one of the best ways to know if you're on track or out in the high weeds in right field.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
When I went down for the paper this morning, a fine mist draped our community. A young squirrel ran up a pine tree near by, positioned himself on a low limb and began to curse at me. I could tell he was cursing because of the rhythm and inflections of his bark. He seemed to be saying something like "you sorry sack of moose dung, can't you find some other critter to harass? I hope you slip on some loose straw and bust your behind." or something like that. I tried to imitate his barking but that seemed only to escalate the encounter. "Don't make me come down there mister!!!!, you have never been bitten until you've been bitten by and agitated quadruped." I decided it was time to head inside before Rockie called for reinforcements.
So tonight, we are going to munch down on warmed over turkey and watch an old movie on the boobtube. Maybe my biorhythms will be better tomorrow.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I'll need to start raking leaves when the rain stops. I'm going to put them on my garden spot to help fortify the soil for next year's planting.
Tonight's the big night for football in Alabama. It's the Iron Bowl which is the annual showdown between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. The Tide has lost five straight against Auburn and all the pundits are saying this will be the sixth, but I've got a gut feeling that will not be the case. If I'm wrong, I know all my Auburn friends will point out that I was wrong, but my gut feelings are right more times than they are wrong.
One way or the other, it should be a fun game and the winners will have bragging rights for the coming year.
UPDATE: My gut was wrong. Bama Lost :(
Friday, November 23, 2007
About noon I decided to forget about the computer and focus on getting my lawnmower fixed. I hitched up the trailer, loaded the lawnmower, threw Ol' Buddy in the truck, and went looking for someone to work on it, but on the Friday after Thanksgiving, that's easier said than done.
The first place I went to, which was highly recommended, had a sign that said labor is $75 an hour. I thought to myself - crap, I work on million dollar computers and I don't make $75 an hour. So I went to a few other places in search of a mechanic that would not want my right arm. Most places were closed but I did fine one mechanic that came out and looked closely at my mower. After a long while, he scratched his chin and said, "I might be able to fix that thang, how soon would you need it back?" I made a hasty retreat and took the mower back home. I got online, ordered the part and I'll fix it myself sometime next week.
Anyhow, we had left-over turkey for supper and it was even better tonight than it was last night. I'm hitting the bed early in hopes that my stars will be better aligned tomorrow.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I hope you all had a great day.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I slipped from the office and into the kitchen trying not to wake the spousal unit. She remains snippy until the sun comes up and the caffeine makes it's way through her system. I know this and I give her a wide berth at those times. She reminds me of our old Buick we had when I was a kid. It was really slow off the line when it was cold and early but once you got that baby moving, you better hold on because she would fly. I'm not convinced when she reads this, she will appreciate this analogy and that I was paying her a complement, because the old Buick was big and ugly. I loved the smell of the leather seats and it did have a great ride.....wait, I'm digging myself deeper and deeper....perhaps I've said too much.
Anyhow, I knocked off work this evening and went for a walk down behind the barn. The dogs were sitting on ready and when I opened the gate, it was off to the races. When we walk they experience pure joy and so do I. As we made our way down through the field a breeze came out of the west and autumn leaves fell like psychedelic snowflakes. A gentle rain began to fall and I looked up into the sky and said a silent THANK YOU.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I started to work in the building where I now work in the spring of 1983. I started with the phone company in January of 77 installing phones but I got surplussed and was about to be laid off when the job at the data center came open. Since I was fond of eating, I decided driving 48 miles one way was not that bad. I knew nothing about computers but I caught on quickly and realized I had a knack. Looking back it seems like only yesterday.
I've seen people come and go. Some got laid off and some quit of their own accord. One of my friends dropped dead of a heart attack a few cubes away from me.
When you spend eight our ten hours a day with people, you tend to get close to some and it is very difficult to see them go. My friend Susan who sits nearby struggled with the early retirement offer but in the end, she decided to go with the sure thing. She took the money and today we said a teary goodbye.
I know my buddies will be fine, but some of them I miss already.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Another thing I realized is that the instrumentation on most of our demos/cuts sound dated. In fact one of the critiques we got back said that very thing. So another initiative is to update the recordings and get them ready to pitch. One Taxi member we talked to last weekend told us that a big part of his success was having his stuff organized so that when movie and TV producers sent out dispatches through Taxi, he could respond quickly.
One thing I have learned is that if you want to be successful, talk to people who are having success doing what you want to do.
I also bought a lottery ticket while I was in California. A few million dollars would just about put me in a position to retire :)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Writing daily is a significant commitment but I want to write things that are engaging, poignant, and sometimes humorous. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I'm lost out there in right field in the tall weeds. It would be easy to simply blow it off and say that I'll catch tomorrow, but my personality is such that if I let a day slide by, it would not be long before I would not be writing at all.
I went by to see my mom today and she looked so frail. She will be 83 her birthday next month. She doesn't get out much these days. She used to go to church each Sunday but it got to where she was exhausted for a couple days afterwards so now she sits in her chair and watches soap opera's and games shows on TV. Her eyes do light up when the great grand kids come to visit.
You want your parents to live forever but you know that won't happen. I lost my dad in 1986 when he was just 62 and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him.
I can't imagine my life without my mom but deep inside I know that there will come a time when she will move on and leave us all with an empty feeling that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
We rolled in about 8:30 and unloaded our stuff. My sister-in-law and my niece decided to ride up with us and we sat in the room unwinding from the drive up. The third Overall came up early too and he brought his guitar over to our room so that we could run over our set in preparation for the show today. After practice, were sitting around sipping wine out of plastic cups when out of the corner of my eye I saw a small mouse run from the bathroom into the room where we were sitting. Steve saw the critter too and when I said did you see that mouse YEEEKKKKKEEEEEESSSS came a synchronized scream from Jilda, Pat and Jayna. Steve didn't scream but he put his feet up on the bed to keep them out of harms way. I think the girls thought we were pulling their chain but then the little mouse scurried the length of the wall and under the heating/ac unit and everyone saw it.
Again YEEEKKKKKEEEEEESSSS. It was like I was hearing it in stereo.
I got up and opened the door and raked my shoe under the unit trying to shoo the critter out the door but he was having none of that so he wheeled around and headed under the bed - YEEEKKKKKEEEEEESSSS. Jayna was the first to put her shoes and travel bag on top of the dresser. The Jilda and Pat quickly followed suit.
I obviously took advantage of the situation and employed a great deal of rat-scare tactics which won me a lot of points with the girls.
This morning when I went to get a receipt for the room I mentioned the mouse to the lady behind the desk and she instinctively looked around her chair I almost expected - YEEEKKKKKEEEEEESSSS. The cleaning lady who happened to be standing nearby said without shame or hesitation - "who's gonna clean that room today? You might as well call somebody in that can TAKE CARE of this problem - you know what I mean? Cause I ain't never going in that room again till that beast is GONE!" The inflections in her voice left no doubt that she meant business. They apologised profusely for the inconvenience but I told her it really was not a problem.
The Old Time Radio Show went well and we played to a packed room there at the BBQ Caboose.
After the show we walked around the small town square and did a little early Christmas shopping. I scored some points when I bought the girls some chocolate truffles laced with Jack Daniels.
The leaves in lower Tennessee are a few weeks ahead of the foliage here in Alabama. The color was absolutely stunning.
My niece Jayna snapped this photo of Jilda and I sitting on a bench on the square.
The first Saturday in December will be the Christmas Festival in Lynchburg and if you've never been to this little town, I recommend you do yourself a favor and make the short trip up and see just how beautiful it is there.
Friday, November 16, 2007
We are headed up to Lynchburg, Tennessee to play at the Old Time Radio Show there at the BBQ Caboose. My sister-in-law and niece are riding up with us so we may take the Jack Daniels tour before heading home tomorrow afternoon. It is my intention to shoot some pictures there in Lynchburg. The ones I shot a few years ago were really good.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I was still buzzing from the trip when I got to work this morning but the bad vibes from the coming layoffs etc. put negative energy in the air that was palpable. I had lunch in the lunchroom but the topic kept going back to - "what are we going to do?" or "I heard that the mainframe group will be gone by New Years."
I finished my sandwich and escaped back to my desk early to listen to music on my headphones to try and salvage the rest of the day.
I'm not making light of the situation because I know it's very difficult to stay focused and have a good attitude when things seem to be headed south but there comes a time when you have to say - hey, hit me with your best shot and lets get on with our lives.
I bought a lottery ticket in California and I'm about to log off and go check my numbers. Who knows, I might not have to go to work tomorrow. "Yes, just take my stuff to Goodwill, I won't be needing it any more."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I spent a little time on our www.homefolkmusic.com website. It will be some time before it is where it needs to be but I recorded some of the sessions in LA and a bunch of our new friends wanted to have copies.
We spent a lot of time listening to music given to us by other songwriters at the conference and I am blown away by the caliber of talent. Just being there has raised the bar for us.
Tonight will be an early night for us because I WILL have to go back to work tomorrow because the number of vacation days I have left is dwindling fast.
Monday, November 12, 2007
She has always gone by Jilda and that was rarely a problem until 9/11. Now every time we board an aircraft, it has been a hassle.
Today as we arrived at the LA airport at 4 a.m., the pre-security screener caught the discrepancy between Gilda on her photo ID and Jilda on her airline boarding pass. She immediately jabbed a big honkin' RED STAMP on her boarding pass and said "they can help you at the security checkpoint." As we approached they sent me down the normal line and they sent Jilda down the terrorist line. She was in this glass tunnel-like enclosure along with a guy that looked like he was a member of the IRA, a guy that looked like one of those weird Japanese cult members, and a middle eastern woman that was menacing the hired help. "You are singling us out," she hissed. I could not hear everything from my vantage point outside the aquarium, but Jilda was looking around as if to say what is this "we stuff" lady?
I thought things were about to get ugly when the lady security officer started snapping on rubber gloves. I can think of few occasions involving rubber gloves that turned out well.
I guess Jilda thought I was going to bail out on her to save my own skin because she was hollering through the thick glass trying to tell me not to leave her to the wolves. The rubber gloved screener whacked the glass with a stick and told her to look straight ahead.
There was a very nice screener guy standing there with me and I asked if they were going to do a canal search. He grinned and said that they had to do a really thorough search whenever there is any kind of discrepancy in the travelers documentation.
After that, the situation became much lighter for me, but Jilda was still freaked. They searched her purse, her shoes, checked her for explosives, and did the magic wand that checks for firearms. When the set her free, she was visibly shaken and when she saw me laughing she was one mad gentile.
Things went smoothly after that and it's actually comforting to know that these security folks are taking their job very seriously. As we boarded the plane for home I poked her in the ribs and said "look on the bright side, you are now probably on the Department of Homeland Security's Terrorist Watch List."
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We've met a ton of new friends this weekend. I have a sack full of CD's and business cards and a head full of ideas. There is so much work to be done. What's interesting is that a lot of what I learned this weekend dealt with marketing. What's interesting is that what I learned can easily translate into marketing not only music but also my other writing.
One very cool class was on staying with the hook. The instructor teaches at Berkley. He taught us to us a metronome when we are considering hooks to see if the words flow at different speeds. What was fascinating was the different ideas that flowed from the same hook when you sound out the hook at different tempos. I had never considered this.
I also learned that there are some very talented people in the world that are unheard. I also heard a lot of medeocre songs....songs that were written by people who have not quite learned the craft just yet. We still have a lot to learn but after listening to the pros here, we are a lot further down the road the a lot of folks.
We've made some connections with industry people that I believe can give us a boost up.
I'll end by saying this We are cranked.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I've just been challenged to a guitar pull. It's a songwriter showdown kind of thing....a matter of pride you see.
Thing about it is this guy is not that old and I'm betting that he don't have as many songs in his guitar case as us. I guess that remains to be seen. So we're headed for a jam.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The best part for us has been the other members we have met the last two days. People are into so many different things. It's very inspiring. In the lobby there are people on every sitting surface playing their music for anyone willing to slow down for a moment to listen. The more I listen the more I realize that there are a lot of dreams here in America. Very cool.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
We made the mistake of getting the breakfast bar this morning. When I looked at the offering they had hash browns, eggs, meat and fruit. "Any chance of getting grits," I asked hopefully. I always do that when I travel even though I know there's not a chance in Hades that they have grits. "No senior, we do not have grits." The fruit was excellent but the little biscuits they had were pitiful. They need to hire a cook from Hardees to whip them up a batch of real biscuits. It would change the life of these bean-sprout eaters.
We almost had a cardiac arrest when the check came - $40.00 not counting tip. I had to put that one on plastic so I can pay it off on the installment plan.
Jilda looked at the card that had the prices for the minibar. "Dang, we need to make a run to the liquor store, buy up a bunch of booze and bootleg out of our room," she said. I thought to myself, that's a great idea, if we didn't get busted, we could probably finance the trip.
Anyhow, things crank up at 5 p.m. and this place is buzzin'. There must be a thousand guitars in this lobby alone.
I'll give an update tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
This may be my only entry today. I'll know more once we are on the ground in LA.
Wish us luck.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
My good friend Dale Short taught me how to synchronize music with slide shows and it's something that comes naturally to me now. We are really excited about the next few days.
However, I'm a little apprehensive about the blog entries for the next few days. I'm not sure if the hotel will have Internet access thought it is California. or if I will have time to write something. I'm not wimping out, but it is a concern. I'll know more when I get to the hotel tomorrow night.
Hope I can sleep tonight.
Monday, November 05, 2007
We have a friend that builds cigar box guitars and I asked him to have a look to see if he could coax the old Tesco back to life. We had lunch today at the Chipotle Grill. It's a Tex/Mex restaurant in Hoover near where I work and I had a burrito in a bowl. They start off with rice with green stuff mixed in (I think it was jalapeno peppers and something else). Next they put on black beans, steak, salsa, sour cream, cheese and other stuff. It was really good. Phillip Eggers, Steve Norris and I sat on the veranda and ate. The sun was warm but the wind was brisk. I had to anchor down my napkins with my burrito to keep them from sailing off like a kite.
After lunch Phillip took a look at the Tesco and pronounced it in pretty good shape. He thinks he can rebuild the electronics and get the neck back in shape so that it will play and sound good.
I'm excited. Phillip is a remarkable craftsman. Have a look at his website and see what you think about his cigar box guitars. http://www.cigtone.com
Sunday, November 04, 2007
We spent most of the day today getting ready to head out to the music conference this week. We are both excited and apprehensive. We know what we want to accomplish but it's hard to know if well get answers to our questions. One thing I've learned is that the most remarkable things happen when you least expect them.
I now know how to install a doggie door so I can ad that to my resume if I wind up without a job. I'm taking orders now.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
Books-a-Million opened a new store yesterday in Fultondale. Fultondale is a good twenty miles from here but that still makes it the closest bookstore to Empire. I stopped by today for a few minutes to browse the selections. I picked up a Writer's Market 2008 and a book on trees. A well known writer told me as the "Writer's Today" conference that if you wanted to become a better writer, learn the names of trees and other plants in your area and instead of saying "the tree" say "the southern Bayberry tree."
I look forward to passing away many hours in my new book store.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
I picked up another publication today. Senior Living which is a paper published in Birmingham, has agreed to start running my column beginning in November. I pitched the column to The Birmingham News but the note I got back was not encouraging. I almost let myself become discouraged but then I got a call from one of the Senior Living editors and he said it was a done deal. So there.
I've collected some quotes and I'm in the process of putting together a cover letter to blast out to newspaper editors all over the south.
I'll let y'all know how this thang goes.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
A guy at work told me he lives in a community where kids line up to come to his house. They have to buy pounds of candy each year. We usually buy a few bags and then eat it ourselves over the course of a few weeks after Halloween.
People will be taking down their Halloween decorations this weekend and putting up Christmas decorations. I went in Wal-Mart yesterday and the garden center is now stacked full of Christmas tree lights, decorations, and other Christmas stuff. I am amazed at how quickly this year has flown by.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I did not respond back even though it looked like a great opportunity. Jilda would have enjoyed the cold, but I would have missed the BBQ and homemade biscuits.
There's a lot of government jobs out there but I understand they only review applications and resumes when Congress is in session and I was hoping for job in this decade.
Tonight at 7 p.m. was the last hour to get early retirement paperwork faxed into headquarters. As I mentioned before, I decided not to take early retirement and work for a couple more years. I should know this week if that's going to happen. After talking to my boss last week, I feel fairly confident that they will have a position for me. If not, I was looking for a job when I found this one....of course Jimmy Carter was in White House. Things could not have changed that much could they?
Monday, October 29, 2007
I spent the day writing columns, letters, and doing research for some short stories that are in the hopper. I came across an incredible magazine about the south. It's called Oxford American and the contributors are some of the best writers on the planet who write about the south. I've said it before but it is written in the pages of this publication - the south is a strange and wonderful place.
I'm not sure if I have a shot at getting published in there but I know for sure I won't get published if I don't write something and submit it.
I should know this week whether I will continue to be employed next year so y'all keep your fingers crossed. As I mentioned before, I may have to travel more than I would like but all things happen for a reason. Perhaps there are things out there I still need to see.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Sometimes it's hard to ID a small critter at night but the fox is fairly easy to spot. The color gray and the way our head lights hit this fox tonight made him look luminescent. The tail was the give-away because it was thick and bushy. They are beautiful creatures if you can ever get close enough to one to get a good look. Several years ago, I got close enough a few times to get a good look when they were eating my chickens.
I was beginning to worry about all the critters in the forest because it had gotten so dry but the recent rain helped a great deal and we are all thankful for that.
It's been a slow day here at the homefront so I'm going to sign off now.
Y'all have a great week.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I took a truck load of stuff Goodwill and Ol' Buddy was riding shotgun. A young girl/lady was at the place unloading the stuff her family had donated and she noticed Ol' Buddy sitting in the truck. "Oh, that's the cutest little dog," Ol' Buddy would cock his head to one side and then the other like the RCA Victor dog on the commercials when I was young. "What kind of dog is he?" she asked. I hated to tell her he was just a mutt so I told her he was a Miniature Watson Biscuit Hound.....and I didn't crack a smile. She looked at me and then at Buddy and said I've never seen one like him. "He's very rare," I expounded. "I had to pay for him on the installment plan. He was smuggled in from Asia at night on a shrimp boat. I pawned my piano and my riding lawn mower for a down payment to buy him," I said. I could tell her BS detector had not gone off yet so I trudged on.
"Yes they use these dogs in Kuala Lumpur to tree spider monkeys and to find lost children. It is believed that the Buddha owned a dog just like this one ."
I was on a roll and if I had a few more minutes I think I could have sold her an option to buy the next Miniature Watson Biscuit Hound smuggled into the country, but another truck pulled in behind me to do unload their stuff and I could tell that my yarn was over.
So me and Ol' Buddy drove off into the sunset and that girl was waving as we drove away. I really hope she doesn't Google Miniature Watson Biscuit Hounds because I'd hate for her to be disappointed.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I stopped at a country gas station this evening and a woman came out and pumped the gas. I was somewhat surprised because it has been years since someone else has pumped my gas. Once inside I saw the small station had floor to ceiling shelves and tons of groceries, batteries, household goods. I smelled like an old store - a little hint of ode de brown bag, vanilla flavor, with a suggestion of popcorn, and maybe fly paper. I bought fifty cents worth of Mary Jane's and almost yanked a jaw tooth out on the taffy treats.
I have some thinking to do this weekend because there are a number of options open to me on the job front. Behind one door I get to continue earning a check but I might have to travel a lot; behind another door there's no guarantee of a job but there is a handsome severance package (maybe); behind the other door there is a spider monkey with a loaded assault weapon and he knows how to use it. It's hard to know what to do so I plan to weigh out the pros and cons and meditate a great deal. In the end, I'm going to do what I feels right in my gut.
On the syndication front, there are a couple newspapers in North Carolina that are considering my columns for publication. I've got my fingers crossed that this dog will hunt. Believe me, when I reach critical mass on the number of papers running my column, I don't care if I have a day job or not. I can write from anywhere and maybe we'll get a chance to visit some of my blog buddies. I love Arizona and I've been wanting to go to England and Australia for a long time.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
When my father died, I was crushed but he had been ill for some time and I had begun mental preparations but when I got the call from the wife of my brother to say that he had died I simply could not believe it. And although it has been over ten years since he passed, I often think of him and his twisted sense of humor.
But tonight my heart goes out to my friend Danny. I will say a prayer that he has a safe trip and that he finds comfort with his family.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
10. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
9. 1776 - David McCulough
8. Atlas Shrugged - Ann Rand
7. Double Whammy - Carl Haaison
6. Black Cherry Blues - James Lee Burke
5. Rise and Fall of Alexandria - Justin Pollard & Howard Reid
4. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
3. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
1. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
10. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
9. Like a Rolling Stone - Dylan
8. Take it Easy - Eagle
7. Canon in D Major - Pachelbel
6. He Stopped Loving her Today - George Jones
5. Wild Horses - The Rolling Stones
4. Blowin' in the Wind - Dylan
3. Far From Me - John Prine
2. I Can't Help Falling In Love With You - Elvis
1. All Along the Watch Tower - Dylan
10. The Thomas Crown Affair
9. Forrest Gump
7. The Bishops Wife
6. Groundhog Day
5. A Good Year
4. Tender Mercies
3. The MatchMaker
1. For the Love of the Game
I reserve the right to change these when my mind starts working again.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I know this is horrible but as I read this bit of information, I got an image of an angry spider monkey beating the stew out of this guy and it struck me funny....I told you it was horrible...but I spewed tea all over my computer monitor.
One news report said that "Devout Hindus believe monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman, and feed them bananas and peanuts - encouraging them to frequent public places."
The city government has come under some pressure to rid the town of these panhandling anthropoids so they enlist the help of bigger and meaner monkey's. I guess they are like "pit monkey's" or something. But the langurs which are somewhat larger, apparently spank the smaller monkeys and keep them at bay.
It occurred to me that this would not be a problem where I come from. No sooner than you could say "maim that monkey", one of these good ol' boys around here would have that primate drawn and quartered and placed on a BBQ grill with a banana in his mouth.
We live in a strange world.
Monday, October 22, 2007
We sat under the drive through portico, rolled down the windows and listened to the rain. The wind out of the south blew a fine mist in my face and it felt heaven.
When I was in Panama it stayed hot and muggy most of the time. You never really got accustomed to the heat - it was like having a constant fever. Then one day I was riding my motorcycle across the Isthmus to visit friends on the other side of the country (about 50 miles) and it began to rain. Most of the time when it rained in Panama, a showers would blow up off the Pacific, soak everything, and the ten minutes later the sun was back out and it felt like a steam room. But this rain was different. The skies grew dark and the birds retreated to the jungle and the rain fell hard for many days. It was the only time I can ever remember being cold while I was there.
I know this rain will not replace the rain we have missed this year, but I am thankful for every drop.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I have recommendations from a number of people in the business and I'm working on a cover letter that is both catchy and compelling. I think if I can get them to read a few columns, I'll have a chance of getting published elsewhere.
If anyone out there has any words of advice, I'm all ears. I'm headed into uncharted territory and I can use all the help I can get.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
When you have been writing songs as long as we've been writing it's hard to whittle it down and decide which songs to do. We've been practicing for most of the day.
Jilda came up with a great idea for packaging our stuff. Our cottage business is called HomeFolk. We have old business cards with the logo hand stitched and it looks really cool. I think we are going to do labels for all our Cd's and Bio folders in that motif. We'll probably do our photographs is sepia tone and do the bio's on parchment paper. The idea is to set our stuff apart from the hundreds of other writers. Time will tell if the strategy works but for now it's a lot of fun working on the plan.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I walked up and down the road shooting groups of kids and their families. When the parade started, it was like a circus. People riding in the parade threw handfuls of candy to the kids watching from the side of the road. The high school parade turns out all the police as well as fire and rescue personnel. They keep their sirens blaring as they snake down the parade route. My ears are still ringing.
I shot close to two hundred pictures today and posted them on the Dora sight.
You can see the photos by going to: