Friday, August 31, 2007
I dreaded having to write an entry in the blog that detailed how I got my rear end kicked by a bird that weighed less than an ounce so I backed away slowly. The little red throat darted back and forth trying to find his way back off the porch. I sat back down and he retraced his flight in and was out like a shot.
I started thinking that if kids learned how to assume the humming bird attitude, there would be no more school yard bullies. The bigger kids would be afraid the little guys might put their eyes out.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Time will tell. Go Dawgs!!!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
When we were growing up, we lived in a house with lots of windows. The old homeplace sat under huge sycamore and cottonwood trees so the direct sun rarely touched the roof but it still got hot in August. We had a big ol' window fan that was in the north window of our living room. Unlike today's fans which are made from light weight metal with plastic blades, our fan was made from heavy gauge steel with steel blades that looked like an airplane propeller. It weighed just slightly less than our refrigerator and had what looked like a washing machine motor with a fan belt on it which spun the big blades. If you made the ill advised decision to poke you hand in the back of that fan, it would lash off your arm at the elbow before you could say Captain Hook. I stood outside the window many times and let the air blow in my face. That baby generated enough wind to blow the hair piece off a used car salesman.
All our beds were situated close to the windows which were raised about two inches. Old faithful would suck the cool night air in through the opened windows and keep us cool enough to require a thin blanket even on the warmest nights.
Last summer when it got really hot and we paid a hefty power bill, I mounted a campaign to get one of those big old window fans to fight the heat and save on power. Jilda said "well honey, if you want to sleep under a fan, there's a ceiling fan out on the porch, you can sleep out there." So that's about as far as that campaign went.
I think most of the bad hot weather is behind us now but I do hate to see the bill when it comes in next week. If any of you feel obliged to help, just click on the pink pig icon over to the right :)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
There was a time when I would have continued to write and "settled", but this is a good idea and I chose to lay it aside for now and have another go at it when the idea has had a chance to percolate a little in my brain. I think of it as composting. You put a few scraps in there, throw in a little manure, stir it around and let it breathe. Before you know it, you have something thick and rich. Of course I could wind up full of manure. My wife has said that of me on more than one occasion.
Monday, August 27, 2007
He finally got tired of the loading and unloading the Tercel, which was almost like putting together a life size 3D jigsaw puzzle, and he bought the Ford. It made his life much simpler. When he passed away the truck sat in my mother-in-law's yard until she got tired of looking at it and started talking about selling it so we moved it up to our house and parked it down behind the barn.
Neither Jilda nor her brother wanted to get rid of the old truck so it sits there even today.
This past weekend I went on a photo shoot and shot this picture because I thought it would look good on the blog. Some day I hope to put a little money in it and get it back in shape.
Who knows, I might need it when I start remodeling our house.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Today it is a fascinating collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution. We both were in awe because actually seeing the ground on which history was made somehow brings that history to life.
On Saturday we drove up to Salem and toured the area made famous by the Witch Trials. We saw "The House of Seven Gables" which is a large rust brown wooden house made famous by author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not far from the House of Seven Gables was a small shop owned by Laurie Cabot, the Official Witch. When we walked into her shop, we heard incredible music playing softly. Jilda bought a book and some incense. The clerk at the store was stunningly beautiful with jet black hair and ebony eyes. She sprinkled a pinch of glitter in the bag. Before we turned to walk out I asked her about the artist on the CD. As it turns out it was Enya and since then we have bought all her music. It's great on Sunday mornings while you drink your coffee.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I hate it when my ideas do that. It's like they chiding me from just outside my realm of consciousness. "Na na na boo boo, you can't catch me - writer-boy!" is what they seem to be saying.
Well to this elusive idea is say: UNCLE!!! I give up. You win. I'm tired, so you can live to be written another day
Friday, August 24, 2007
Tonight I'm sitting in a crowded coffee shop writing this update. It used to be almost impossible for me to do any thinking unless it was totally quite but something changed and I now have the ability to simply shut things out. Even with music, laughing people and the sound of traffic, I can keep my train of thought.
Writing at different locales can sometimes jump start a lazy muse. I need all the help I can get to keep that heffer busy.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I've skipped no less than a million rocks and I'm what some would call an expert. Slate rocks are my least favorite. While they are flat, they tend to break apart on entry and the resulting tumble is not pretty. They don't come in good skipping sizes. The big slate rocks sink like anchors and the thin ones curve like well thrown baseballs.
I've learned through experience that the best skippers are flat rocks about the size of a silver dollar that have been worn flat by a fast moving stream. They have the proper weight and balance and if you lean to the starboard (I'm right handed) to just the right angle, it allows the flat rock to hit the still water near the bank and skip forever.
There is a certain beauty to a skillfully thrown rock. I actually had a big ol' bass hit one of my skippers once.
Skipping rocks is an excellent way to spend a lazy summer afternoon. There is something about it that clears the mind to where you drift almost into a Zen-like experience.
I had a grueling meeting today that lasted nine hours and the pace was frantic. After lunch when the energy level lagged, my eyes glazed over and I thought about skipping rocks. It brought a smile to my face and gave me strength to carry on in the face of adversity.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
One of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed was about ten years ago. Jilda and I were in California and we found ourselves at a deserted state park on the Pacific Ocean just off Highway 1 a few miles south of Half Moon Bay. It was summer but the wind off the Pacific was cold and we stood there wearing sweaters and watching the sun drift down toward the horizon. The roaring surf drowned out all sound and it felt like we were the only people on the planet. I wish I could name all the colors the sun painted on the water before it slipped away.
I could have stayed there forever but we could see the fog rolling in and decided to make a run back across the mountains towards the hotel before we got stranded.
I read somewhere that one of the best sunrises on the planet can be viewed from one of the Hawaiian Islands but I'm sure the point could be argued by people all over the world who have a good view of the eastern horizon.
I know this - each time I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset it puts a smile on my face - kind of like seeing an old friend after a long separation.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I usually write as fast as I can while the words are flowing and worry about editing later. The problem there is that you get so close to the things you write that you can't see blaring errors and later after the stories are posted or published you'll see them as if they were blinking red.
The post that I did yesterday had an issue that I missed. Jilda read it and said you got away from your hook. I had started writing about trains and I ended up by writing about the demise of our little community. Last night I thought it was pretty good, but when Jilda pointed out lapse, I decided to re-write it and stick with the trains.
So there - a short essay on writing at no extra charge.
Monday, August 20, 2007
By the time our family moved there in the mid fifties, the mines had played out so the trains stopped for the most part. The old steel rails that ran through the heart of Sloss Hollow were rusty from disuse. Sage grass and bitterweed with tiny yellow flowers grew through the gravel roadbed and there was always a faint smell of creosote which is a highly toxic chemical used to keep the cross ties from rotting. We all played on those old tracks so much that it's a wonder we didn't grow extra fingers or maybe a third ear out of the middle of our foreheads.
Every now and then we'd hear the low moan of the train horn and rumble of the huge steel wheels and we knew the train was headed for West Pratt. Kids from all over the camp would bail out of their houses and run down by the tracks to watch the spectacle. One warm summer day we heard the train coming and I ran back into the house to get a Buffalo Nickel out of my bank. I then raced outside and put the coin on the tracks. I stood back several feet and waited to see what would happen. Some of the kids ran down the tracks to meet the train and then trotted along beside the slow moving beast. The engineer laid down on the horn and it was so loud that we all clapped our hands over our ears. The old railroad man would smile and lean out the window to look back toward the caboose. I guess he was making sure none of us hair brained kids tried to run under the boxcars.
After the train passed I looked for my nickel but it was not on the track. A bunch of the other kids joined into the search and then someone exclaimed here it is and when I picked it up, it was still hot. It was as big as a quarter and almost as thin as a stamp. There were markings on the coin but you would never have guessed it was a buffalo.
Those trains left a lasting imprint on my psyche - woven into the fabric of my young life.
In the early 70’s I was working for a small weekly newspaper and I got the opportunity to write a story about trains. The assignment had me riding with the engineer in the huge engine of a freight train. The beast ambled from
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I wrote fondly of the tiny biddies back several months ago. The thing about biddies is that they grow into chickens. The hens are not bad but the roosters go through a stage where they look mangy and not unlike a buzzard. But the older the roosters got, the combs and the colorful tail feathers grew out and they looked quite beautiful.....as chickens go.
A while back they started crowing in the early morning hours. At first they reminded me of a teenage boy at puberty but after a few weeks, their cock-a-doodle-dooing became loud and clear.
A few nights ago, one of my neighbor's friends showed up with a flashlight and a roosting pole and collected all the roosters. I asked if he would leave a couple of the hens to keep the bug population in check and he agreed. I noticed this morning when I went to fetch the mail that one of the hens is setting so in a few weeks, we'll have another batch of biddies.
My Internet connection is off again and charter does not plan to send anyone until Monday. It is really frustrating. I really wish there was an alternative but living so far out in the country makes for thin pickin's when it comes to fast access Internet providers.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to do an entry tomorrow but I'll catch up when I get the connection back.
Have a great weekend.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The storm lasted for almost two hours. It seemed to drift off to the east and then BAM!!!!! It would strike too close for comfort.
I didn't have the heart to walk down to the barn this evening to check on our trees. We have three oak trees that must be a hundred years old and I just hope they survived the onslaught.
The power was off when I left out for work this morning and I obviously did not get a chance to check my email. The power came back on this morning just after I left.
This evening as we were contemplating what to have for supper, the power went off again and it just came back on. I'm typing like a banshee to try and get this entry posted before another storm brews.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Back in early 1980 Jilda and I lived in a house trailer down in Sumiton. It was an older unit that was impossible to cool. As a result we spent a great deal of time during the summer months with our parents and friends who lived in cooler abodes.
We bought the trailer used and we didn't know it at the time, but it was plagued with bugs. We did everything except set of a low yield nuclear device inside that tin cracker box but the bugs remained.
Hurricane Fredrick hit Mobile in the fall of 79 and blew most of the telephones to Tennessee. The phone company send me and several hundred other techs down a few months later to start putting the place back together.
We locked down the trailer, packed up our stuff and moved into a Howard Johnson's on Government Boulevard on the west end of town. Jilda followed the telephone van convoy in our truck with Ol' Duke, our German Shepard in the back.
That was in April and we stayed until late in the year. The summer of 1980 was the longest streak of days over a hundred degrees here in Alabama....until now.
When we finished up and came back home, the autumn leaves were already turning. When we opened up the trailer, all the candles we had used for decoration were puddled up around their bases....and there was not one live bug in the place.
There is no rain in sight and the woods around our house is a tender box. As my old father-in-law used to say, "we need a hurricane."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I was kind of a fat baby so I'm not sure what criteria the judges used. I'm praying that there was not an evening gown involved because that means it is possible there is a picture of me wearing sequins floating around out there somewhere. Surely there was no swimsuit competition, but she said I could jabber up a storm when I was very young so there is a distinct possibility that I could have won some type of debate....especially if my competition was droolers or whiners. What ever the deal was, I won.
When I look in the mirror these days, it looks like my head has worn out two bodies so it's good to know that I was cute at one time in my life and I've got the silver to prove it.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I'm about to go on a campaign to get some of this stuff stopped. Of course, I'll probably have issues with the spouse because she loves catalogs but we are trying to "go green" so eliminating some catalogs will be required.
We also get a lot of magazines that we don't read. I do really well when I subscribe to a new magazine. I usually read the first few editions from cover to cover, but then I get busy, work late, or go out of town and next thing you know, your stack of unread magazines could double as your coffee table if you could somehow bind them together.
It is my intention to pare down to the few that I continue to read even when I get behind. That way maybe there will be a tree or two for my nieces and nephews to climb when they get older.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
As he was walking by me before lunch, I grabbed him up and tickled him until he almost wet his pants. He giggled and squealed and tried to break free but I had him good so he had to just take it. When he finally escaped he put a lot of space between us for a while. He later got distracted and wandered too close to me again and this time I decided to do my imitation of Earnest Angley (the tele-evangelist) and remove the demons from the child. I clapped my hands on both sides of his head and said in my best EarnestVoice "DEMONS BE GONE!!!!! I then proceed to look into both his ears to see if I could see and remaining demons. Jered again squealed with delight.
We had a large time and I had him so hyped up after lunch that he was careening off the walls. His mom looked at me with malace when I stood and told Jilda it was time for us to go home.
An uncle's job is a tough one, but one that I take seriously.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I did shuffle down around lunchtime to get the mail and the papers and I was listing slightly to port. The wind was blowing out of the south but it was a hot dry wind that rattled the sun baked leaves in the trees around our house.
This afternoon we sat on the couch drinking a homemade frappachinos that Jilda whipped up in the blender and watching the humming birds. I guess the nectar in the flowers has pretty much gone with the wind so the little aviators were lining up to drink at our feeders. Apparently there were some "strays" that came over to drink because a couple of the males had what appeared to be duels to the death. They would bump each other and then fly in a tangled ball of beaks and feathers straight up out of sight and then fight almost to the ground. It wore me out just watching them.
I hear it's hot all over so everybody stay cool.
Friday, August 10, 2007
We flew into Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago when we went to Sedona. It was early May and already quite warm there. I chatted briefly about the weather with Lloyd at the National Rental car place. I told him it got hot in Alabama too but the humidity made it feel differently. Lloyd snorted and said "you should come back when the temp is 120." Now I would not argue that 120 isn't hot, but I wonder how ol' Lloyd would have fared today here in Alabama. I'm not trying to start up a regional feud, it's just an opinion.
Is there anyone out there that can tell me if one would be more miserable in Arizona with the temp at say 120 or in Alabama with a temp of 106 with about 80% humidity?
Inquiring minds just need to know.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I told my buddy Wayne at work that I was listening to it and he told me he had read it years ago. I knew there had been a mini-series made of the story so I asked Wayne which character Robert Duvall played. He told me that Duvall played Gus. He named the actors who played the various other parts and then proceeded to tell me that one of the main characters in the books gets hanged. "Dang it Wayne, I thought I told you I was READING the book." Oops! he said and then proceeded to tell me more of the story. I closed my eyes, put my fingers in my ears and started humming as I walked away. I started to let the air out of his tires but thought better of it. I will return the favor the next time I read a book before he does.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
My wife and I just got home and we are whipped.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
My aunt Edna and uncle J.C. lived up on Number 10 hill. They called it Number 10 because the Number 10 mine was nearby and many of the workers lived in the camp. When the mine shut down most of the workers moved away, but they stayed there and lived in a big old white clapboard house with a steep pyramid like shingled roof. Her front porch had a fresh coat of steel gray paint on applied every spring and there was a Firethorn (Pyracantha) bush at the corner that put on orange ornamental berries about this time each year.
Uncle J.C. worked as a foreman in the mines if I remember correctly and was at work on most days when we visited but aunt Edna was always home. She smoked unfiltered cigarettes but she had a Bakelite cigarette holder the color of tortoise shell. It made the cigarette look like it was a foot long. The Pepsi man delivered co-colas by the case to her house each week and she kept them stacked neatly on her front porch. She would always let me drink as many as my mom would let me have.
She also had a swing as big as our couch that hung by shiny chains from a support beam. I entertained myself for many, many hours on that porch as a kid.
Another good thing about aunt Edna's house was her red velvet cake. She'd usually whip one up if she knew we were coming to visit. She and my mom would sit in her kitchen and drink coffee and talk while it cooked in her oven. I sat on the front porch and kept the swing moving with my bare feet as the aroma of the cake waifed out the screen door. By the time the frosting was spread, I was bouncing off the walls.
It's funny the things your mind holds on to, but I never have a bite of a red velvet cake that I don't remember my aunt Edna.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The Tao Te Ching, which Wayne Dyer discusses at length in his new book, says that you can't have beauty without knowing ugly - light would have no meaning if it were not for dark - that you could not enjoy laughter if you did not have sadness. I guess that it stands to reason that people around here are entitled to know cold weather because it is sure hot around here.
But I would like to point out that there is something good that will be happening later this month and that is a celestial light show. According to news reports:
"This year experts predict an excellent Perseids display, as peak activity will coincide with a new moon, meaning dark skies that allow the meteors to shine."
When to watch
In general, the Earth encounters richer meteoric activity during the second half of the year. And you're more likely to see twice as many meteors per hour in the predawn hours as compared to the evening hours.
Here's why: During the pre-midnight hours, we are on the trailing side of the Earth as it moves through space. Any meteoric particle generally must have an orbital velocity greater than that of the Earth to "catch" us.
After midnight, when we have rotated onto the Earth's leading side, any particle that lies along the planet's orbital path will enter our atmosphere as a meteor.
In these head-on collisions, meteors hit our atmosphere at speeds of 7 to 45 miles per second. Their energy of motion rapidly dissipates in the form of heat, light and ionization, creating short-lived streaks of light popularly referred to as "shooting stars."
Summertime meteors are especially noticeable between mid-July and the third week of August. Between Aug. 3 and 15, there are six different minor displays. When they run (and peak):
— Southern Delta Aquarids, July 12-Aug. 19 (July 28), 15 per hour, faint, medium speed.
— Alpha Capricornid, July 3-Aug. 15 (July 30), 4-5 per hour, slow, bright, a few fireballs.
— Southern Iota Aquarids, July 25-Aug. 15 (Aug. 4), 1 to 2 per hour, faint, medium speed.
— Northern Delta Aquarids, July 15-Aug. 25 (Aug. 8), 1 to 4 per hour, faint, medium speed.
— Kappa Cygnids, Aug. 3-Aug. 25 (Aug. 18), 1 to 3 per hour, slow moving, sometimes brilliant.
— Northern Iota Aquarids, Aug. 11-31 (Aug. 20), 1 to 3 per hour, faint, medium speed.
So, if you enjoy shooting stars blazing across the night sky, pick a date, set your clock and watch the show. I'll be watching.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
We've had a few of those rogue snow events but they have been rare indeed. I can remember once before Samantha was born, when her brothers were young, we got a really good snow. A good snow here is four or five inches but this one closed down the school, the roads and most other functions. The kids came over and James nailed me on the side of the head with a snowball. I promptly rolled them both in the snow just to prove that I could. Obviously that meant war so they ganged up on me and almost managed to get me down. Jilda slipped up and laid down behind me where by Haven, the youngest, pushed me backwards and I hit the snow flat of my back. They were on top of me in an instant and I had snow poked in every exposed orifice. I had snow down my collar, my pants - I even had snow in my socks. We played outside until we were all red from playing and the cold.
Afterwards Jilda went inside and made up a batch of her world famous hot chocolate. We keep those tiny marsh mellows for just such occasions. This is a fun memory.
As I said, I like hot weather but when the Dog Days of summer arrive and I can hear myself sweating, I start looking forward to those first cool autumn days.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I looked at the sunflower which has three blooms about the size of a softball. They look as if they are bowing their heads to the morning sun. The flowers this year are more of a gold than yellow. I'm not sure if that's a function of the pH of the soil or the type of seeds we happened to get.
I went down this morning and fetched my old bicycle out of the barn. I haven't ridden it in several years and I feared that it was too far gone, but when I pushed it up to the workshop behind the house, all I had to do was air up the tires, spray on a little WD-40, wipe down the seats and it was ready to go. I rode it around the back yard tentatively.....it was a piece of cake.
Tonight we play at Java and Jams downtown Birmingham. We have some friends coming over. We'll probably get cranked up on high test coffee and play all the old songs.
Hope you have a great Saturday night and Sunday.
Friday, August 03, 2007
It hasn't rained here in days and my squash plants look like I could roll 'em up and smoke 'em. You've never had a buzz like the one you get from smoking a crook-necked squash plant - OK, I'm kidding. Anyhow there was about an inch of dust on my truck so when I went into town today I ran it through one of those good car wash places. I had driven for about five minutes when the sky became dark and a shower erupted right over highway 78 and rained on me for twenty minutes as I drove back home. When I wheeled into the driveway, I kicked up about an inch of dust which promptly settled on the truck. Oh well, I think clean vehicles are highly over rated.
Even though it has been hot and dry the color has been remarkable the last week or so. Hot pink crepe myrtles, multi-colored roses, wild yellow daisy's, and Mimosa blossoms that look like a pink sneeze. Our gardenias are also blooming an they look as if they were chiseled from bone. They smell like heaven in a vase.
Tonight I ran down to the world famous Green Top Bar-B-Que and got us a couple Bar-B-Que salads which is a great Friday night meal. Tomorrow night The Overalls play at Java and Jams downtown Birmingham. We've practiced a lot but I still feel rusty. But after we get there and get the first song or two under our belts, I usually settle down.
Y'all come if you're in Birmingham.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I'm going to play my "get out of writing a blog entry" card this evening. I'll do better tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Brian Whitney is the one who came up with the idea of Just Plain Folks and the mission of the organization is to be a free resource for musicians. It's that simple. Brian now travels all over the world holding these showcases and spreading the news about the organization.
We played a couple songs, bought a hat, got our picture taken with Brian and then we headed home. It was almost midnight where we got here and I had to be up again at 5:30 a.m.
My head was a little foggy but I was still buzzing from last night so today was not that bad. It was touch and go after lunch when the instructor in our training class started talking bits and bytes but I made it through. I can tell you tonight will be an early night.