Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

I spent a lot of time today refining and writing my goals and intentions for the coming year. It seems like we have a lot of things in the works and they seem to be converging on the coming year.
I'm excited.
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

Accomplishments This Year - a partial list

Jilda warned me not to do it but I wrote about my goals in my column in the newspaper this week. About a half dozen people have already said they plan to weigh me next December and if I haven't lost the twenty pounds, I'll be eating an anchovy casserole. Not sure what they would taste like but it really doesn't sound pleasant.
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

Every Picture Tells a Story

My mom bought us a high tech Christmas present this year. We got a picture frame device onto which you can load digital photographs. I got the tiny memory chip on Christmas Day and grabbed about forty pictures at random just to see how it worked.
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

An Old Friend

The sound of rain tapping the rhododendron this morning was a perfect wake-up call. We are still way down on the amount of rain that normally falls here, but it seems the pattern has changed and hopefully it will chase the drought away.
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


I checked the website today and the number of our soldiers killed in Iraq hit 3900. That's more than the population of the town in which I was born. Thanks goodness the rate has slowed but I'm not sure where it will end.
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 Los Angeles, California to learn how to get our music played in movies and on TV.

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:

  1. To publish a book of my columns
  2. To get music in at least one movie or TV program this year
  3. Lose two pounds per month until I reach my ideal weight of 205 pounds
  4. Go someplace I have never been before
  5. 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

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was once much more hectic than it is today. Before my mom became ill and when my dad was alive, we always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. Everyone would converge on my mom's house about 8:30 p.m. and the living room would be filled to capacity with kids, grand kids, aunts, uncles, grandparents and gifts for all. Someone would grab the video camera, which then was as big as a microwave oven, they'd heft it up on a shoulder, and switch on the attached light. The light was brighter than the landing lights on a 747. You could get a tan while you were videotaped.
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

Open House

We had our annual Christmas Open House party this evening and it was a lovely event. Jilda worked in the kitchen last night and most of the day today on things like roasted pecans with some kind of topping; cheese potato soup, homemade salsa, pretzels dipped in some kind of sweet icing, and a ton of other stuff.
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

A Soldier's Christmas

On Saturday December 23nd 1972 I was in the Army serving in Panama. Some of the guys from more affluent families flew home for Christmas leaving a rag tag crew to mind the fort. I headed out the the beach at sunset and I sat for hours looking northward toward home. The Atlantic surf was angry that evening but it felt peaceful sitting there.
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


Today is the shortest day (or the longest night) of the year. The winter solstice occurs just past midnight here in Alabama.
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

Bah Humbug

We got a much needed drenching rain today. I had to pick up a few things at the store so I threw Ol' Buddy in the pickup and headed out. It wasn't that cold but the blowing rain made me wish I had worn a jacket.
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

Christmas Cleaning

Each year we have an open house party the Sunday before Christmas Eve. So we have been cleaning all week to get the house into shape. We are fairly clean people but we let our dogs come into the house. Today while I was dusting a what-not shelf in the hall, I raked the dust-cloth under the shelf and I pulled out a dust bunny that would have been big enough to thatch a roof in Ireland.
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

Christmas Stockings

We finished up all our Christmas shopping today. We were weary after lunch but we ran by the house, had a frappachino, kicked back for a few minutes and then we were one the road again. We finished up the last gift around 5 p.m. and we are in for the night.
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

Tiny Angel

When the weather starts getting cold we load up on scratch feed, cracked corn, and wild bird seed. We also buy suet and other treats for our feathered friends. In fact, our birds are fed better than some children I know. We enjoy sitting in the living room, listening to music and watching the birds have a feast in our yard.
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

Cousin Micky

I saw my cousin Micky today for the first time in several years. He has been through some hard times but today when I saw him he looked well. He was witness to many of the stories and things I write about on this blog and in my columns. He lived with us on and off during his childhood and has been like a brother to me.
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

Milk and Bread

I had to fight the urge to go out and buy milk and bread this evening. The weatherman said there was a chance of snow flurries late tonight and I really don't want to be caught without milk and bread...even thought I rarely eat bread or drink milk. I think the urge is encoded in the DNA of southerners. It's like when a hurricane is in the forecast. People will rush out and buy every available generator even if the hurricane is headed for Singapore.
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:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Buddy and the Mechanical Deer

My older sister has every kind of Christmas decoration you can imagine. She starts decorating on Thanksgiving and she barely gets through on Christmas before taking everything down.
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

Terror Girl Strikes Again

Terror Girl is at it again. She's not menacing the people on the left coast, but she's put wildlife here in Alabama on notice. While driving home tonight at dusk, she noticed movement to the left out of the corner of her eyes. All of a sudden, Bambi comes charging in from the south and slams into the side of the Volvo. She barely had time to hit the brakes. She said as she looked in the mirror, saw the deer flip and skitter to the side of the road but was up in the blink of an eye and bounding towards the river. I can imagine it saying "dang, I need a drink!"
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


We watched "Love Actually" last night and it is a remarkable movie. It takes place at Christmas and is four or five vignettes. As the stories are told, you are taken from high to low. It takes incredible writing to create a screenplay that does this successfully. We enjoyed the movie so much that I ordered a copy for our home library. We tend to watch movies that we really like over and over. We've watched Grounghog Day no less than a dozen times. Forrest Gump, at least five times. Phenomenon and For the Love of the Game, five or six times.
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

Decorating for Christmas

We put up out tree today but it didn't feel much like Christmas time. The temperature was in the low 80's and I worked up a sweat just hefting the cypress inside. Jilda spent most of the day decorating the tree and the house with all our Christmas stuff. We've collected a lot of stuff through the years.
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


I've had a nice day today. I'm taking vacation the next few weeks so I plan to relax a little and work on some fun projects. I've got plenty to do with my book project and also with the music.
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

Understanding Snoopy

My friend Fred came over this evening to try and give me a basic recording lesson. Some of the stuff I got but when he got to the part about signal compression and equalization it was if he were speaking in tongues. Have you ever watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? When I was listening to Fred, it was almost like listening to Snoopy. When he finished his explanation he followed up to see if I understood. "No I must have missed something," I said tentatively. "What part did you not understand," he asked. "All of it," I said. Well Fred has the patients of Job because he would break it down into terms that I could understand. "Do you understand plumbing," he asked. "Yes, I have a pretty good grasp of plumbing." And when he put it in those terms, it became crystal clear.
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.
Thanks Fred

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Porch Sitting Weather

The weather warmed up nicely today here in Empire, Alabama. Jilda's brother invited several members of her family down for lunch, and we rarely turn down a free meal so we headed out. He also invited our buddy Steve and he girlfriend Judy. We had turkey and dressing along with all kinds of other goodies. After we ate we went out on the back deck which overlooks his garden and we played music. Some of these folks have heard us before but others had not. We had a little impromptu sing-a-long. They didn't ask us to Inagodadivita but they did ask if we knew and Frank Sinatra. One of the kids requested jingle bells and that we knew so we were a hit with them.
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


OK, I want to say right up front that I have nothing against cats. We don't own cats but it is for their own safety because we have a yard full of dogs.

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

Don't Know Much about Geography

Are you smarter than a fifth grader. I watched this show the other day while I was staying with my mom. I've spent a lot of time in school and have an advanced degree but I was totally stumped by some of the questions. There were questions I thought I knew but when the answers were revealed, I was wrong.
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

Tapping Keys

Sometimes the words won't come no matter how fast I tap my keyboard. My dog realized I was struggling and came over and put his head it my lap as if to say - "hey dude, sometimes I don't know what to say either."
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

Christmas Tree

I had a routine treadmill test today and I passed with flying colors. The worst part of this test is that they had to shave parts of my chest so they could attach the probes. Not only does it hurt like crazy when they pull them off but anyone having the misfortune of seeing me without my shirt on, now thinks I have the mange.
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

Childhood Games

My brother Neil was about seven years my senior. He was a good kid but he had a mean streak that came out now and then. My mother bought him a Benjamin Franklin pellet gun when he was about 16 and he immediately proclaimed himself god. Not the God but some kind of minor god and anyone that didn't like it could talk to Mr. Franklin.
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


I was sitting here listening to the rain rattle the roof trying to think of a good subject to write about. I happen to look back at my older entries and realized that tonight is the second anniversary of this blog. I have written something every day for 730 days. Now there are those who would argue that some of the tripe I have slid by was actual writing, but I say hey, walk a mile in my shoes before you cast a stone.
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


We had steaks tonight with a sweet potato. Jilda wrapped small bundles of green beans with lean bacon and baked them in the oven until the bacon was nice and brown. It was a scrumptious meal.
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

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