Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My top goal that took a great deal of focus and energy was publishing my book. I'm proud of that accomplishment. One shortcoming might bee that I spread myself too thin and try to do too many things at once.
My second goal was to get music in at least one movie or TV program this year. Jilda and I both spent a lot of cycles writing, recording and pitching songs. But placing music is slow work. We do have a shot at getting our song "Christmas of My Dreams" in a made-for-TV film next year. It's hard to say if get in the movie, but it is in consideration.
My third goal was to lose two pounds per month. I not only did not lose two pounds per month, I didn't lose any weight at all. In fact I gained a pound this year. I made a brash and ill advised promise to eat an anchovy if I did not meet this goal.
See photos below.
My next goal was to go someplace I have never been. That did not happen either. In fact, we didn't get to travel much this year at all.
My last goal was to get my column in five additional publications during 2008. I pitched the columns to hundreds of newspapers in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi and Arizona. I had positive responses from several papers and they ran a few of my columns for free, but the only paying newspaper I picked up was 280 Living which is in the 280 corridor south of Birmingham. So I count this one as a miss too.
So my goal performance was less than spectacular, I did have some things that I'm proud of:
Both Jilda and I are healthy
We are both happy
We got a chance to spend quality time with our friends and family
We reduced our overall debt by over 10% Both our vehicles are now paid for
Sales of my book have exceeded expectations.
I finished the draft of next years goals a while ago and I will post them tomorrow.
However, don't expect to see any brash statements this year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Shovel out manure from commercial chicken houses
Chicken catcher (commercial)
Work on the chain-gang for the highway department
Maintenance mechanic work
Repair radio transmitters and receivers (Army)
Newspaper reporter & photography
Gas pumper/windshield washer
Garageman (maintain vehicles)
Telephone installer and repair
Heavy equipment driver
These are all actual jobs I have held at one time or another in my life. I'm not looking for a job, but in looking back over my resume, it's comforting to know that there is a better than even chance I could find work that I can do.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Do you ever wonder why each year when you get ready to decorate for the holidays, you find your Christmas lights wound into what appears to be the world’s largest ball of chewing gum? I have a theory. I think it’s due to what I call the three phases of Christmas.
Phase I happens in late November or early December when you’re channel surfing your car radio to find a decent song. All of a sudden, you hear Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. A smile comes to your face as you realize that Christmas is just around the corner. Soon you get a beautiful Christmas card from an old friend and you remember a Christmas past. Again, you smile!
You write out your Christmas list and begin considering what would make the perfect gift for each of your family and friends. You go shopping early to pick up the gifts for the folks who won’t be home for Christmas. As you approach the store, you hear The Salvation Army bell softly tinkling, and you reach into your pocket to donate a few dollars to those less fortunate.
Phase II happens in mid December when it finally occurs to you that Christmas is HERE! You panic as you begin to wonder how on earth you’ll get everything done before the fat man comes.
You go out to the garage to fetch the Christmas decorations and you’re almost crushed by a gigantic ball of twinkle lights. It takes you days to unravel that mess. While decorating, you come dangerously close to falling off a ladder and breaking your neck. A day later, the jerk next door apparently hires a landscaping firm to decorate his yard, making your exterior illumination look sad by comparison. You’re no longer smiling.
Phase III happens the last weekend before Christmas. You are officially freaked! You go to one of the big city malls and a flock of kiosk operators swarm you like flies on roadkill in August. You get jabbed, poked, pulled, and sprayed with all manner of toiletries and perfume. You walk around smelling like a hooker.
The clerks are so frazzled by ungrateful shoppers that when they say Merry Christmas it sounds more like a snarl. I think what they’d like to say is, “I hope you and your family choke on fruitcake.”
When you get to your car you, discover that you have received a gift that keeps on giving. Apparently, an inconsiderate shopper has unloaded their cart, and rather than park it where it belongs, they simply give it a push down the parking lot where it careens off several vehicles before coming to rest against the door of your car. One thoughtless act - $1200 in ding-damage. Happy Holidays!
By the time Christmas Day arrives, you’re sick of hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” You reduce the possibility of hearing it again by jamming the radio off and tossing the knob out the window. You consider ripping the speakers out of the door but fortunately someone cuts you off in traffic and you’re forced to hurl some obscenities, which takes your mind off the song.
You are so beaten down by the holiday madness that the day after Christmas, you just want it to be over. All you can think about is tossing the tree and getting that junk out of the yard. You go around babbling for hours. You lose all recollection of that day and later, you’re surprised that the decorations made it to the garage.
And…..That’s how your Christmas lights always wind up looking like the world’s largest ball of chewing gum.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This subject came up Christmas night when we were visiting with friends. As I expected, everyone was pretty much in the same shape with the exception of our older friends. They have almost all their money in bank and they are holding some commercial property. Both are hard to beat right now.
I know things will get better. As the old song goes, "if you ever gonna see a rainbow, you have to have a little rain."
So I haven't dwelled on the down side, I've focused on what it going well. We and our families are healthy, I have a job, my book is selling, and despite all the doom and gloom, I know that things will work out. I am working on my goals for the coming year and I find that exciting.
It's back to work tomorrow, but it will be another short week. Most everyone else has vacation so I should get a great parking space tomorrow.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Today was a delightful day. Our friend Paul Jones did a surprise birthday party for himself and it was a hit.
He normally does his weekly radio show from the BBQ Caboose on the square in Lynchburg, but it only holds about forty people. Paul needed a bigger venue for his surprise party so he got the Lynchburg Country Kitchen which is a restaurant that went out of business last year. The Kitchen holds about a hundred and fifty people. I'm not sure how many were there today, but it was crowded.
We got to see Charlie Louvin. Charlie was born in Henager, Alabama in 1927. He and his older brother Ira Louvin toured throughout the south. They also had a string of hits in the 50's and 60's. Charlie and Ira have often been called one the most influential duos in Country Music History. Check out Charlie's website
We also got to see a country music legend's great nephew.
I know, when they announced that this guy was Grandpa Jones' great nephew, I was prepared for the worse. Usually when you have someone you think is riding on the coattails of someone famous, you don't expect much. But I'm here to tell you that Phillip Steinmetz is a remarkable performer. He not only sings like his great uncle, but his claw hammer style on the banjo I think is actually much better than Jones. He was funny, and very professional. He was a chip off the old block. Here is Phillip's website.
We couldn't get out of Lynchburg without having some grub from the BBQ Caboose. We ate like it was Thanksgiving and then I slept as I drove home. All in all, it was a good day for the Watsons.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I wrote my goals out and the very last line I said "If I do not lose 20 pounds I will eat an anchovy." Jilda, always the mindful said, "You better be serious about losing twenty pounds, because I know how you hate anchovies and your friends won't let you forget that you promised to eat one of those little fuzzy fishes."
Here's the thing, I need to be hard on myself. I need to drop some weight. One of my buddies at works said, "just don't mention it, no one will know." But I'd know. There is no way I would "not" do what I said I would do. I have not lost twenty pounds so watch out little fishes.
Jilda is fighting off a cold so we are going to wait until morning to head out to Lynchburg. I'll try to take a few pictures for tomorrow evening's entry.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
My Letters to Santa have evolved through the years. When I was a kid, I wanted to write Santa to say, “Please check the Sears and Roebuck Catalog and bring me one of every toy on pages 312 through 427.” My lists would have been massive, and required additional postage. I did worry about what would happen if I angered my jolly, rotund benefactor.
I could almost imagine my huge list pushing him off the deep end. “Not sure what happened officer;” Santa would confess. “When I saw the length of this list, I just snapped. I promptly hitched up Rudolph, went to Alabama, and threw little Ricky into a wood chipper.” I could imagine the arresting officer having one look at my list and saying, “Yep, good call Santa, he deserved to be shredded. It’s best we thin out the shallow end of the gene pool while we can. We’ll code this as justifiable chipping.”
Mom would shame me into keeping my list short. “Son, don’t wish for more than Santa can carry.” Embarrassed by my Christmas cravings, I always pared down my list and honed in on a few special things. One year I asked for a Daisy Pump BB gun, one year a red Huffy bicycle, and one year a new baseball glove. Santa was always more than kind to my family and me.
One thing I learned later in life is that “things” don’t really make you happy. They break, wear out, or simply lose their luster in time. What really brings a smile to my face nowadays are the memories I have collected through the years. They never lose their luster – in fact, they become more treasured as time goes by.
We all know that Christmas is a magical time and that most anything is possible.
If I were making a list this year, it would look something like this:
1. I want to spend one more day helping Pap (my grandpa who passed away in 1970) put horseshoes on a mining mule. After the job is finished, I want to sit with him in the shade of his old sycamore tree and drink a glass of Mama Watson’s sweet tea. I’d love to see him pull his can of Prince Albert tobacco from the pocket on the bibb of his overalls and hand-roll a perfect cigarette. His timeworn Zippo lighter was older than I was.
2. I want to take a fishing trip with my dad and two brothers. I want to pitch a tent on the banks of the Tennessee River, catch a mess of crappie and fry ‘em up in a campfire skillet. We always said we’d take that trip one day, but we never did.
3. Jilda’s mom and dad are gone now Santa, but I want to have Christmas dinner with her folks one more time. I want her dad Sharky to give one of his classic blessings, delivered with the eloquence of a country lawyer. I then want to dive into Ruby’s turkey and dressing and eat myself into a stupor. These are the things on my Christmas wish list.
My wife Jilda, our friend Tracy, and I wrote a Christmas song a few years back and the chorus describes what I would truly like for Christmas.
Everyone that I ever loved
Friends and family
Have come together to celebrate
The Christmas of my dreams.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
As I drove home, I could see shafts of sun to the east but in my rearview mirror all I could see was angry black clouds with greenish light seeping in between. When I walked in the door my phone was ringing. My sister-in-law called to tell me there was a tornado warning for Walker County. A storm spotter had reported a funnel cloud. The road I live on dead ends onto Coon Creek Road.
When I walked to the back deck to get a sense of how bad and how close, the wind started blowing rain horizontally and the trees in my yard were swaying like a yard full of drunks. I stepped back inside and grabbed my flashlight. I started herding my dogs to the middle of the house in our safe place. And just as quickly as it had started, the wind died down. The rain kept pouring, but after the squall line blew by, all that was left was water and lightning.
As soon as that was over, I got a call from work and we had a computer down hard. I got on the phone with a sense of dread because it's an older computer and it's Christmas Eve. I could envision being on the phone all night. As it turns out, we managed to remove the defective component and the computer booted right up. I said a silent prayer.
Jilda got home a little while ago and fired up a pizza, and put on some Christmas music. I began to feel better at once.
We have Christmas Eve to ourselves these days. Tomorrow will be hectic, but tonight we'll kick back, maybe watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and open the gifts we give each other.
I hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Jilda picked them up just after noon and buckled them in the back seat of the Volvo and headed back to Empire. She made a side trip by her sister's house to pick up some gifts and to take the kids on a tour of the farm.
Her sister Nell, lives in Hull, near where the old mine tipple once stood. She has chickens and goats. Like us, Nell names all her critters and when the kids got out, they rode around the farm on the little four-wheeler truck. When they got to the goat pen, all the goats came running up to greet them. Some of the goats are as small as Ol' Buddy, but some are as big as a Toyota. The kids like the goats from afar, but apparently they freaked out when the furry critters got too close.
They wanted to gather the eggs, but Nell had already gathered them so they were a little disappointed.
When they arrived here, I was working, but it was time for a break. One of the first things they wanted to do was gather the eggs. I grabbed a small basket and headed out to the laying box. I was silently hoping the chickens had laid eggs today. When I looked in the box there were three eggs there. Breeze picked up one as gently as she would a small kitten. Stone gathered the other two and put them in the little basket. When we got to the back deck, Breeze and Stone both wanted to go in through the dogie door. "Have at it," I said. If they went in and out once, they went in and out a dozen times.
Jilda let them cut, design and bake Christmas cookies. The kitchen looked like the scene of a college food fight. Jilda also fixed deviled eggs which is a dish the kids love. I happen to love them too. Jilda fixed a dozen. I ate three, the kids at the rest.
When their dad came to pick them up, they had to show him the dogie door trick. He just howled. These are delightful kids and we both take particular care in spoiling them rotten.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I know this sounds strange, but since I've been doing yoga, the cold doesn't bother me as much. If I can keep my hands and feet warm, I'm fine.
When I was a kid we had coal burning fireplaces in the camp house in Sloss. One of my chores was making sure we had plenty of coal on the concrete hearth. I wore blisters on my hands carrying those scuttles of coal. And later the blisters turned into my first calluses.
We would bank the fireplace at night (smother it down for the night) so that it would burn slowly giving off a little warmth and stay lit all night. In the morning we would take the soot-black poker and stoke the embers. Once it caught its second wind, we'd add some large lumps of anthracite coal that was as black as tar. Before you could say "well parch my bluejeans," it was toasty in that drafty old house.
The old Warm Morning coal stove in the kitchen, heated the front part of the house. On cold mornings, my mom would fire that puppy up and the stove pipe would get so hot it glowed the color of an orange. My mom didn't use that old heater for cooking, but she always kept a kettle of water on there for coffee or tea in case a neighbor dropped by mid-morning.
Our fireplace today is more efficient and much easier to keep burning. And, I don't miss that faint smell of sulfur that comes with burning bituminous fossil fuels, but on cold mornings, that old fireplace felt pretty dang good.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This year, the chili and hot apple cider were the hits. The sun came out today, but the wind out of the northwest would cut you in two so our buddies were ready for something to warm them up.
We just got through cleaning up the kitchen and storing the left-overs. I'll have enough stuff for lunch all week.
I'm whupped...and I'm on call starting at midnight so I'm signing off for tonight. Have a great Christmas week.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We have our open house tomorrow. It's an annual event that always falls on the last Sunday before Christmas Eve. We started in 1983, the year we moved into our house. The only time we skipped the party was a few years back when we had an ice storm.
Some years we have forty people show up and other years we may only have fifteen or twenty. Regardless, we always have a great time. My lovely spouse is a wonderful cook and I suspect that has a lot to do with people coming. I doubt it has anything to do with my wit and wisdom.
This year, two of our oldest and dearest friends won't be able to come. We will miss them, but they are involved with a noble cause that will keep them from attending.
We will play Christmas music on our guitars, drink eggnog and hot apple cider. We will enjoy the company of some of the most extraordinary people on the planet.
I know I will feel better tomorrow, because you can't be in the company of friends and NOT smile.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I'd rather have a rusty coat-hanger punched through my eye than try to write when I have nothing to say. Tonight I'm drawing a blank. Kick me, beat me, make me write bad check.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It took me three hours to get to work this morning. Traffic was moving fine and I casually click on the traffic map on my iPhone. It showed a section that was solid red just ahead of me. I had just passed the last place where I could get off so I was hoping the slowdown was in the other lane. It wasn't. Seems an eighteen wheeler got in to it with a huge dump truck and about ten cars were part of the collateral damage. Not sure if there were injuries, but the interstate was a parking lot. I put some soothing music on my phone, turned the engine off and waited until it started moving again.
A rescue vehicle could not make it to the accident because some thoughtful drivers who were trying to get ahead in the traffic took the emergency lanes which also got clogged. Very nice.
Anyhow, I'm home now and I'm in my sweatpants and ready to relax for a while.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It's usually not a bad time to work. It's quite, the phone rarely rings, and you can get caught up on all the year end stuff that needs to get done before the new year arrives.
I'll be review my goals from last year and there is one that is bothering me. I set a goal to lose 20 pounds. I committed to eat an anchovy (which I HATE) if I didn't lose the weight. Not only did I NOT lose 20 pounds, I gained 2.
So on New Year's Eve, I will eat an anchovy.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Darkness fell, so Ol' Buddy and I drove slowly eastward toward home.
Just before I reached the Warrior River, a rescue vehicle blew by me and that NEVER is a good thing. I rounded a curve and came up on a really bad accident. The rescue squad had not come to a complete stop when I drove up. People who happened upon the wreck were in the median trying to help the injured. I drove on by and began flashing my headlights to warn oncoming traffic.
Drivers were flying past even with the road slick as freshly mopped floor. I said a prayer for those in the median and I hope no one else got hurt.
It's the holiday season folks, slow down...arrive safe. Don't become a sad, sad Christmas story.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm a live and let live kid of guy, but when it comes to spiders in the house, I draw the line....he's dead spider crawling.
I need to introduce him to my chameleon. Last year we had a young chameleon who wintered inside. Every now and then if you looked really close, you could see him lounging on the avocado tree or checking the lemon tree for aphids.
By spring, he was a good sized lizard and he was ready for some sunshine. Mr. Spider is a different story all together. I've been bitten by spiders before and I can tell you first hand, it's not fun. When I did installation & repair work for Ma Bell, I crawled under houses daily. It was not uncommon to swipe a Black Widow or a Recluse off my coveralls when I came out from under the house.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I find that fascinating. I guess I thought my family was unique, but as it turns out, we were all in pretty much the same boat.
I have since learned that some people had more money, bigger houses, and better cars, but there were common threads that ran through many of our lives. Broken homes were rare. It was not uncommon to be disciplined by parents, teachers, neighbors and anyone else in authority. If you misbehaved, there was a better than even chance, you'd get busted and pay the price. We learned our manners, and we learned to work.
This environment was exactly what I needed and I thank the Good Lord every day that I had the opportunity to grow up here.
I guess I never realized that so many others who grew up in the south during the 40's, 50's held the same view.
I had a lot of people today ask me about writing the book. I told them to get in a habit of writing every day. I also told them that for the most part, writing is the easy part. Getting out and promoting it is the hard part. A book does no one any good if it doesn't sell.
Time to kick back this evening because tomorrow, it's back to the grind at work.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Micky practically lived with us all through my childhood. He is a thread woven into the tapestry of my life. He was witness to many of the things I write about.
In later years we haven't see much of each other, but I think of him often He always makes me smile whenever he is around.
Please hold him in your thoughts and prayers.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The dogs get cabin fever so I put on sweat pants, a sweater and my new beret (I feel like I look goofy in it but I'm wearing it anyhow). As I slipped on my gloves, the dogs were ecstatic. When I open the door, it sounded like thunder. The deck was still slick from all the rain so they careened around like pinballs until they got in the yard.
It was still cold and I could see my breath as I walked toward the barn but it felt good to be outside and not under an umbrella.
When I got down to my meditation rock, I saw that the rains had revived the carpet of moss. The sun filtering down through the trees made the scene look ethereal.
My iPhone has a stop watch that I use to time my walks, but it also has a nifty little camera and I snapped this picture for you to see.
This picture does not do meditation rock justice.
After lunch, Jilda had to head off to work and I had errands to run. I ran by the high school and donated a copy of Thinking Big to the library. Sara York who is a friend we have known most of our lives is the librarian. I asked one of the girls who was there reading to shoot a picture.
I can tell you this - doing promotion work is a lot harder than writing. No wonder those folks make a killing.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
She had to work this evening and couldn't go with me. When I told her I was nervous, she said stop being such a whiny-baby, you're a big boy now. I felt much better after she explained the situation in those terms.
As it turns out, the interviewer was Tommy Combs, a guy that I grew up with. His family, like mine, didn't have a lot growing up, but he has done very well for himself. He made me feel comfortable during the session and hopefully I kept the gibberish to a minimum.
The show will air tomorrow morning so the test will be watching to see if I made a complete fool of myself. Time will tell.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
We rarely get snow here so when we do it's always an occasion for a celebration. She will whip up hot chocolate, hot cider, vegetable soup, cornbread, and snow ice cream. We play in the snow as if we were children.
Snowfall usually doesn't last here, so we have to pack a lot of fun in to a short amount of time. The weatherman is saying we could get up to three inches in Walker County, but on Friday it will probably be warm enough to go swimming. So it goes here in the strange and wacky part of the world.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I looked over on the corner of my windshield and there was the tale-tale ding. Dang it! I exclaimed to myself.
When I got home, I asked if she realized the nut that hit her car, hit mine. She said that she didn't but when we looked in the corner of her windshield, there was a ding in hers too. What are the chances of that happening. One nut, two windshields.
Monday, December 08, 2008
There is a note of caution on every hair dryer you buy that says DO NOT USE THIS UNIT WHILE IN THE BATH TUB. The reason for this warning is that electricity and water are not friends. They don't play well together and when the do get together a mess ensues. Well, that's what happened at our data center.
Thousands of computers worth billions of dollars were chugging along without complaint until the water came. Then they became big ol' boat anchors.
Getting all those computers back up is a slow tedious process. When I called the Outage Bridge to see what was going on, other members of my team were swamped (put intended).
I really didn't have much planned this week except to promote my book, so I joined in on the call and helped.
I just got off the call a few minutes ago....after twelve hours with a phone in my ear. Hopefully things will stay up for the rest of this week and I can have some home-time fun.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Pinehill was hoppin. I bet there were a hundred cars, trucks and SUV parked willy-nilly all over the farm.
Two gentle old horses stamped and snorted while they waited for the next wagon full of younguns to pile in. When the driver snapped the reigns, they eased off like a turtle on downers and pulled kids around the fifty acre farm. The grown ups hung out around the concession stand sipping hot apple cider.
We've been going to Pinehill for years so we knew the drill. We selected a tree close barn. That's where they tend to the trees that are dug up instead of cut down. We quickly picked out our tree and the lot man had two high school boys hustle over and dig the eight foot Leyland Cyprus.
I took the tag off the tree and went inside to pay while the kids dug. Five minutes later it was in the truck. I laid a five spot on each of the digger-kids and the lot man was waving me out the driveway. We were on our way home before most of the folks figured out what kind of tree they wanted.
I brought the tree in tonight and it always looks bigger inside than when it's outside in the ground. It's a pretty tree and we'll decorate it either Monday or Tuesday and I'll post another picture.
Hope you all have a great week.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
In years past, I would have been crushed, but these days I tend to wax philosophical. It truly is just a game.
If the sun comes out tomorrow, we are going to get a Christmas tree. The holiday's are closing in and we still have a lot to do, but once we get the tree, the stuff will begin to fall into place.
Jilda still hasn't started painting the Christmas cards. Each year she tries to come up with a unique design, but this year's she's still trying to decide.
I'm guessing she will firm that up tomorrow and stark knocking them out early next week.
I'm calling it a night. Have a great weekend.
Friday, December 05, 2008
All the prognosticators say the Tide doesn't have a chance tomorrow in the SEC Championship game. They say the Florida quarterback is the best college football player of all time. I would not argue the fact that Tebow is a gifted athlete. Some say it will be a miracle if Alabama pulls it off.
The thing about it is, I'm worried about the game as I have been about all our games, but this Alabama team is remarkable too. One of the broadcasters said last week that the Alabama team is greater than the sum of its parts. I felt like that is a tremendous complement. Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner, but we've won 12 national championships. The years were 1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, and 1992.
Win or lose, I am so proud of our team. We've gone through a lot in the past ten or twelve years.
My gut has been wrong a time or two, but I feel in my gut that we have a shot at this one. You can bet I'll be watching with my mom and trying our best to pull them through.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Banking at that branch comes to a stand still as all the tellers come over to the window to howdy up with Ol' Buddy.
One of the tellers will say "here's Ol' Buddy" and all of a sudden all of the tellers are at our window. This is the time he puts on a show. When they say something to him through the tinny speakers, he will cock his head like the RCA Victor dog. When they complete our transaction and send the cash drawer back out to us, there is always a doggy treat in it.
Yesterday, Jilda ran by the bank that handles our business account. As she approached the window, Ol' Buddy became excited. Much to his dismay, there was not excitement from inside the bank and it appeared to him that they continued banking as usual. I'm sure the main thought running through his mind was "MONEY CHANGERS!!!!." When money drawer came back out, all that was in there was a receipt, which he promptly chewed up and left the damp pieces on the floor.
Jilda said that Ol' Buddy hopped into the back seat where he rode dejectedly all the way home. I need to have a talk with the banking team at that branch because there is one thing they need to understand - When Ol' Buddy ain't happy, I ain't happy. Either get right with the dog biscuits or we're taking our business elsewhere.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I clicked on my "writer" folder of music in iTunes but that wasn't happening either. So I reached for the old guitar. I came up with a catchy new melody, but I found no inspiration in the strings.
So tonight, is one of those nights when I have nothing to say.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Since December 2nd, 2005, I have written in some form or fashion every day. I know some days the entries were lame, but as I look back over my work, some are not bad.
It was this Blog, and the reaction of readers, that kept me going. Some time back, I had a co-worker go back and read selected entries and he told me that he learned a great deal about me. The fact is, this Blog contains the stories of my life. Obviously I left out some parts because this Blog is read by people of all ages and all walks of life so I do not wish to be accused to providing too much information. "Dang man, I wouldn't have told that!"
But there is a lot of stuff about the things I love, things I don't care for, my family, and my lovely spouse. I know I have written extensively about her, but I would never intentionally write anything to embarrass her. In fact, if there is ever anything questionable, I run it by her first before publishing. It is this kind of consideration that has kept her from slipping a packet of rat poison in my Tortellini Soup.
It was because of this Blog that I had the courage to approach The Daily Mountain Eagle about writing a weekly column. And it was those columns that are the basis of my first book. I am happy with the sales and I am grateful to all those who have purchased and/or plan to buy a copy of Remembering Big. I have started an outline for my new book with will be fiction. More on that later.
It is my intention to continue writing until I have nothing left to say. Thank you dear readers.
Monday, December 01, 2008
The obvious names were there, Bill Gates and Steven Jobs, but there are others with stories just as interesting.
Click here to see for yourself:
One of the people is the worlds youngest billionaire. I actually read the "Google Story" which is a very interesting book about the two young guys that started Google in a garage.
Most of us have witnessed this incredible journey. Enjoy.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Our first sale was to a nine year old girl. For some reason, she was drawn to our table. As we talked to her mom, the child read the first column. "She loves to read," her mom explained as she reached for her purse. She bought the book and I autographed it "To Alexsys". I had a smile on my face as they walked away. I love kids who read.
A moment later, two more young girls (ten or maybe eleven) stepped up and asked what we were doing. Jilda explained that we were setting up to sell my new book. "Is it your first?" the older girl asked. I told her it was. The younger of the two girls thrust her hand across the table to shake my hand and said "congratulation, I am happy for you." I could not believe how articulate these kids were. I was blown away.
We stayed for several hours and we did better than I imagined. We saw friends, family, and old teachers from Dora High School.
I had an opportunity to talk to a fellow writer who is on the staff of the Daily Mountain Eagle. Mandy came by to shoot a picture for the paper, but we had a chance to talk for a while about writing.
I can tell that she is a student of life. She had a class with Rick Bragg, who is one of my favorite authors today. Rick Bragg wrote a book called "It's All Over But The Shouting" that is one of the best books I have read in years. Mandy is in the planning stage of her first novel. I have a gut feeling that it will be very good.
We packed up our stuff to leave and when we got to the door, we had weather shock. The temps had dropped about fifteen degrees and a cold rain was blowing out of the northwest which made if feel much colder than 47 degrees.
We drove home slowly in the rain.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I got to telling Zoe, knock knock jokes. She would laugh uncontrollably. She would then run over to the table where her mom and my sister were sitting and she would retell the jokes.
It got funnier and funnier. Zoe is a delightful child.
I told her a few of the old standby jokes and Zoe brought the house down when she told them.
Knock, knock. Who's there?
I'm sorry I made you cry!
And my favorite:
"Do you know the difference in snot and a bowling ball?"
"You can't eat a bowling ball!"
I think she has a future in comedy. Her mother takes a dim view, but that's the beauty of being an uncle. What's she going to do?
I love America
Friday, November 28, 2008
They wanted to hit Wal-Mart and Target in rapid succession so they decided to forgo the local Wal-Mart and head out to the one about twenty miles away because both store are in close proximity. By 4:55 a.m. Dannielle had honed in on the RiteAide Mixers. Wal-Mart has a strict policy that you can put any sale item in a shopping buggy before the sale begins so Dannielle sat on the box that contained her mixer until the clock struck 5. She then snagged it up put it in the buggy then proceeded to strafe the rest of the store before heading out to Target.
They got back this afternoon just before 3 p.m. and we actually needed a llama to help pack the stuff they bought into the house.
They both pronounced it a success. What was great about this year is that there were not fist fights, no eye gouging, and very little pushing
I think my sister dozed off on the couch before I got my laptop packed up. I'm betting it will be an early night for her. I know it will be for me because it wore me out just listening to their adventures.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Today was different. Our nephew James Phillips called us a few weeks ago and asked if we would be interested in helping with a Thanksgiving meal for the community. It was not only for the needy, but for folks who had nowhere else to go. James envisioned people from all walks of life sitting down at a table together and breaking bread. He writes for the Daily Mountain Eagle and he had written a column in the paper about his Thanksgiving idea.
When he asked us to help, neither Jilda nor I hesitated...we both said we wanted to participate.
Patti, a lady from a small church near Cordova read his column for the first time that day, and was touched. She and her husband usually spend Thanksgiving at the beach, but after reading the column, she decided to stay in town and help with the community feast.
Last night, James' wife Andrea had a problem and she was admitted to the hospital this morning. James paniced. He called Patti and she swung into action and took charge of the event. It went off without a hitch.
There was enough food to feed a multitude. We had a pretty good crowd that showed up to enjoy a good hot meal. Being in the presence of a group of people who give of themselves felt 'right'.
One of the guys that showed up to eat had obviously lived hard. He was articulate and I knew at once there was more to him than met the eye.
Jilda and I sang a few songs and the guy listened respectfully. A little while later, he stood up and sang an old Gospel song a-capella. The power and quality of his voice made the hair on my arm stand up. He finished the song to rousing applause.
When he got through eating, we sent food home with him so that he could eat tomorrow. He thanked everyone and as he walked away he sang "Farther Along." I was blown away!
I am so thankful that we decided to help with the community feast. The only thing that would have made it better is if my nephew James and his family could have been there.
I am also thankful for all my family and friends. My wish for everyone is that they have a remarkable holiday.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The picture to the left was taken in Lynchburg. Our friend Wes and his wife Deidra joined us for a BBQ Caboose radio show. Afterwards we took a tour of the Jack Daniels distillery. You can't see it in this photograph, but as we posed for the picture, tiny snowflakes fell around us.
This picture to the right is of our songwriting buddy Tracy Reynolds and her hubby Eric.
They lived in Nashville at the time and we had just chowed down on some Chinese food before we headed south.
The next picture is of our bandmate Steve, his late brother Ron, who was actually like a brother to me as well. Jilda shout this picture at Blue Mountain, Florida in early May.
We were all there to attend the wedding of an old friend. We spent the weekend playing music,
eating seafood, drinking beer and telling lies.
This is actually my favorite combination of life activities. When I retire, I plan to do this as often as possible.
This picture was taken last November when we attended the Taxi Road Rally in Los Angeles.
Kaye is one of our oldest and dearest friends. This is Jamie, her baux. He plays a mean keyboard and is a great chef.
Jilda and I have written songs with Jamie that are quite good, in my opinion.
The picture above was taken on the Warrior River.
Jilda shot this photo of our friends Terry and Tom.
Tom and his lovely wife Judy have a beautiful place on the river and a few hours at there house is equivilant to a week of vacation in most hot spots.
Hope you all have a great Turkey Day.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The creators take the broad view of music and include recordings from around the world. Many of the recordings were done in the field in remote regions of the world. They are crude by today's standards, but there is no mistaking the beauty in the music.
Today I listened to the one on Woody Guthry. What is remarkable about this particular podcast is that the programs includes commentary about the recordings which put them in context. This gives a much richer view of the music.
What's great about this is that they are free. If you have an iPod or iPhone, getting them is simple, but you can also download them and burn them onto a CD if you don't have an Apple player.
Fascinating stuff. I highly recommend checking out pod casts.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Our family had a small cabin down on the Warrior River and I've spent a many of foggy Saturday nights down there. Once the fog settled in, you could not drive out for any reason. There were several narrow wooden bridges without guard rails which made driving in fog treacherous.
What was even worse than trying to drive in fog is trying to navigate a boat through fog. You can't see any landmarks so you think you're headed in the right direction and you wind up back where you started. It really messes with your mind.
It's amazing how much you depend on your vision. This reminds me of a joke I heard once -
Stevie Wonder challenged Tiger Woods to a round of golf. The loser had to buy the winner a new Learjet. Knowing that Stevie was blind, Tiger tried without success to dissuade him from the challenge. Stevie would have none of it and persisted. Tiger finally relented and said OK, you pick the time. Stevie said, GREAT! let's play tonight at midnight.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I find the older I get, the harder it is to go back to work after vacations. If I took two weeks at a time, I would be totally worthless. I have one more week to take before year's end and then it starts over again January 1st 2009.
I was looking back over my entries earlier in the year and I spent a great deal of time fretting about my job with EDS. Then the announcement was made and BAM! I'm back with at&t.
Not sure how the economy will affect the utility, but I have to believe that if thousands of people get out of work, it will dig into the bottom line of most companies.
I was also looking back over my goals for the year and I have made significant progress on almost everything. The one area where I have not done well is losing weight. I haven't lost any weight and if I recall, I pledged that if I didn't lose down to my target weight that I'd eat an anchovy.
I'm not looking forward to that, and I'm not discounting last minute miracles, but if I'm not at my target weight, I will eat the little fuzzy fish. It will be my luck that I'll acquire a taste for them and start eating them all the time which will probably not help with the weight.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Just for curiosity, I typed in "What if men" and the two suggestions I got were:
What if men menstruated (the number out to the side was 431,000_ The second suggestion I got was
What if men had babies (82,000,000)
Those numbers to the side are the results you would get if you selected either one of those terms.
That means that there are 82,000,000 entries on the world wide web that will give you some type of information about what would happen if men had babies.
I am officially fascinated. I suggest you play with this and report your findings back to me.
This is homework and you will be graded.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I understood that I've got to do some point-of-purchase graphics or else the books will simply lay on a counter. Also, I realized I need to make is simple for people to reorder. I don't want them looking for my number so I had an idea.
I'm going to use 8x10 Plexiglas frames with this graphic (I'm open to suggestion here) and on the back of the frame, will be a business card with reorder information.
So far, I have lined up stories in 280 Living, and a story in The Daily Mountain Eagle. I plan to approach The Birmingham News and Black & White, which is a great Arts paper in Birmingham. A good review or mention in either of these would be huge.
What would really be good is a great review by the New York Times so if any of my blog buddies have any insight as to how I could make this happen, please advise.
Also, any advice, experience, or opinion on the best ways to self promote would be greatly appreciated.
My spouse has a knack for marketing and I've already adopted a bunch of her ideas. I also have a copy of Gorilla Marketing which has some excellent information of self promotion. So far it has been fun. I'll keep you posted and hopefully not bore you too much.
I'll get back to my old style of blog writing soon. Please bare with me in the meantime.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I got around this morning and headed into town. I linked up with my new friend Roxanne at the Birmingham News and she directed me to the loading dock.
I'm not sure what I imagined 2000 books would look like. I had considered driving the Volvo to pick them up but when I asked Roxanne, she said there were thirty one boxes. Thirty one boxes, I asked. "Yep, thirty one." I guess I better drive the truck.
As I backed up to the loading dock at the News, workers brought out a pallet of boxes. The pallet wouldn't fit on the back of my truck, so we had to load them by hand.
As I drove away from the loading dock and headed the truck toward the country, writer's remorse set in. I had a half a ton of books in the bed of my truck and I suddenly realized, I have no idea how I'm going to sell them.
"That was stupid," my nay-saying self chided. "what were you thinking? You'll be lucky to sell a copy to mother! People aren't going to buy this crap! Where are you going to put 2000 books in a 1500 square foot house that already packed with your furniture?"
I got a knot in my stomach. But then I remembered the advice of my spouse - just breathe. I then reflected on the encouraging words from from friends, neighbors and other folks who stumbled upon my work. I began to relax. I also realized that the fun part was over, now I've got to hone my marketing skills.
Tonight, I feel better. Local newspapers are doing stories next week and I have my first book signing scheduled for the 30th. It is my intention to put my nay-saying self back in the closet where it belongs.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Jilda works at a local drug and rehab center that treats returning soldiers. There is rarely a day that goes by that she doesn't shed tears for the condition of some of America's best.
I was not one of those who grew weary of the war and became vocal late in the game, I have been against it from day one...not against the troops, but against this war.
The war in Afghanistan is a different story, Al Qaeda attacked us and we went after them. I can live with that.
As these folks come back scarred, they will need a tremendous amount of care. We as a country owe these men and women a great deal and I think we should provide the best care possible. In some of the past wars, I think we allowed the government to get by doing less for our veterans.
I've heard some of the older people say, "We didn't have all these problems with the returning troops for WWII." I don't believe that's true. I don't think we were sophisticated enough to recognize the damage. I had an uncle that saw bad things in France. He arrived home damaged. A few years later, he put a 45 pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger leaving three children.
I said all that, to say this. I hope the new president can find an honorable way to get us out of this mess and I also hope that we don't sell our soldiers short when it comes to doing right by them.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Why is the government fooling with my alarm clock.? Can someone answer that for me? I am one of the most normal people I know, except for twice a year. In March when we go to daylight-savings time, and November when we go back to regular time. I get crazy because it messes with my internal clock and I am not happy.
Before we got all modern and what not, we woke up with the chickens and went to bed when it got too dark to work. Most of the money spent on energy, was for candles and feed for the horses. Then someone invented light bulbs and TV’s. I think the world has gone to “Arkansas in a handbasket” ever since.
I am not sure when the concept of daylight savings time was dreamed up, but I first heard of it back in 1974 when Nixon was in the White House. There was a gas shortage and long lines at the gas pumps. I’ve always believed moving the hands of the clock backwards and forwards to save energy was a big sham, dreamed up by a team of over-paid government consultants hired to "think outside the box." They must have been thinking WAY outside the box.
Suggesting that we fund alternative sources of energy, like wind or solar power, would have been a waste of time. That makes too much sense. The oil companies, which have been pulling strings in Washington since the invention of cars, would have tarred and feathered the whole kit and caboodle. “If you develop all that clean energy, there is no way we can hold Americans hostage for the next fifty years. We’d have to use something other than $100 bills to light our cigars!”
The consultants probably contemplated the challenge of how to save energy for months, with all of their ideas smelling worse than an outhouse in August.
Once they milked as much moolah as possible out of the government, one of the consultants, giddy with the lack of sleep and cranked up on high-octane coffee, came up with idea for daylight-savings time.
On a dare, they offered this idea to Nixon; "Bare with me Dick, because it gets complicated," they managed to say without spewing coffee on the Oval Office carpet. "Every year during the spring, we move the clock forward one hour, and each fall we move it back an hour. That way, the public stays disoriented and confused because they get less sleep. It will take a while to get used to the time change and therefore save money on heating and cooling,” they explained with straight faces. “When they become accustomed to the time,” they continued, “we’ll change it back." Nixon bit, and I’ve been cussing him ever since.
I bet those consultants laughed hysterically when the check from Uncle Sam cleared the bank.
I’m guessing that same firm set to work immediately on revising the U.S. tax code.
I hope the new president pulls the plug on daylight-savings time and has the really smart people come up with new, clean ways to generate energy that don’t affect my sleep!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Jilda and I went to Sedona, Arizona for our 30th anniversary in 2004, and the thing that stands out in my mind, is the sky.
The night sky seemed larger and clearer there. There weren't as many lights at night to compete with the stars which made stargazing almost intoxicating.
You could spend a lot of money and never come close to the experience of witnessing the gifts Mother Natures offers you free of admission.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Tonight I recorded a new song we wrote recently. We have a new connection to a Nashville producer so we're putting some stuff together to pitch.
Our buddy Fred has cleared his calendar and is chompin' at the bit to write some new stuff too so expect some new material soon.
I've got a lot to do this week in preparation for the release of the book. It is supposed to be ready on the 25th. I'm excited. I have to meet with the Mountain Eagle writer and photographers to put together a story about the book as well as the editor of 280 Living.
I'm also firming up dates and times for book signings. I will be a busy boy for the next few months.
Have a great week.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
the dogs just after morning coffee, the sun was out but the wind out of the northwest was chilly.
The dogs love this weather. When we started out they chased each other around in the back yard before jockeying for position at the back gate. When I open the gate, they are like greyhounds except they run in every direction.
I took my iPhone in case I saw something interesting. I have jumped deer and other critters on my walks, but today, I just saw the sun and the sky with some autumn leaves.
Shortly after this was taken, the rain clouds returned and what felt like small flecks of sleet fell on my face. I'm guessing it was rain, but
it felt cold enough to be sleet.
Tonight we are playing at Berkley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman. It is a delightful place to hunker down and spend a few hours enjoying good food, great coffee, and a relaxing atmosphere.\
Here is the address of Berkley Bob's:
304 1st Ave SE #1
Cullman, Al 35055
|* approximate times|
Friday, November 14, 2008
Not sure what it is about fog that get deer in frenzy, but it does. They will dart out in front of you before you can say holy &&&&??????????!!!!!!!!!!*&^*$#%$@ where did that thing come from?
I arrived home without incident.
Jilda had cooked chicken tortellini soup, which should in all honesty be classified as one of the Great Wonders of the World.
This morning I looked out the garden doors toward the barn and I couldn't see the apple tree. The smoke-like fog was still hovering just above ground level. It stayed that way well into the morning.
Only late this afternoon did the sun peek through the clouds.
Tomorrow night The Overalls play at Berkley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman. Bob is a delightful person and we are looking forward to playing there. The only thing, there are football games tomorrow evening so we may be playing to an empty house.
Y'all have a great weekend.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
-- Frank Outlaw
Habits are key to the results you get in your life. It's an old concept that's been around forever.
In the book "As a Man Thinketh," James Allen wrote "Nothing comes from corn but corn, nothing comes from nettle but nettle". Is this profound, or what? Obviously the Good Book nailed it "as you sew, so shall you reap".
The point is, when bad seeds are planted, the harvest is thin. For young folk just starting out in this world, there is no better advice than to form good habits. Good health habits, good financial habits, good relationship habits, good work habits, and good spiritual habits.
I know there are many other areas of the human existence, but if you focus on the five or six areas that make the most difference, you will do great things.
It's easy to get off track, because it's so easy to NOT do the right things. "I will study when Dancin' with the Stars goes off." or "I will walk tomorrow, but tonight, I'm going to eat this half-gallon of Rocky Road ice cream."
So, as your self-help guru, I advise you to form good habits and work hard to stamp out bad ones. The dividends you reap throughout your life will make it worth your while.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I think those are words we should all live by. Things are scary now especially when you take the short view.
If I were retiring today and had to start drawing from my 401k, it would not be a pretty picture.
But if you look at the long view, this too will pass. It's just a blip on the radar.
I think this entire world crisis right now is due mostly to the fact that people are locked into the short view. Not just people, but corporations. A CEO doesn't have much time to show that he is performing. One or two quarters of lackluster performance and he's looking for a new job.
The Japanese, on the other hand, have always taken the long view. During the times when they are retooling and modernizing their technology, they may not make boatloads of money. But investors in those companies understand and are taking the long view too.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best when he said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
I am not afraid. I'm taking the long view. If I have to work a while longer, then so be it. I love this country and I always will. I refuse to panic.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
When a search term beats out Paris Hilton, and college football, and college girls gone wild, it is one popular item.
I don't consider myself an "early adopter". It's not important to me to have the latest and greatest gadget, but I actually got an iPhone this past week. My niece got one and demo'd it for me a few weeks ago and I was very impressed.
Since I currently work for AT&T, I get a discount on the phone and the service so I signed up. I have not been disappointed.
Yesterday heading in to work, I clicked on the map function and the phone hooked up with a satellite that's lurking somewhere overhead just out of sight. All of a sudden a small blue dot started blinking on my screen. When you look at the map on the display, you can see the little blue dot move as you drive down the road.
That was pretty cool, but I had read something about a "live traffic" feature. As I got on the Interstate and entered Birmingham, I could see the route I was taking was solid green. That means that traffic is moving smoothly. When I looked at the interchange, that heads east through downtown, the Interstate was solid red. A few miles later when I arrived at the interchange, I could see that traffic heading downtown was almost at a stand still. Apparently a wreck out near the airport. I knew immediately that this little device would come in handy.
I get instant weather for cities I want to track, I get instant stock reports (depressing - I may turn this feature off) and a bunch of other features I have yet to discover.
The only downside that I have noticed so far is the battery life. With all those little radios doing their thing, it is hard on the battery. If you decide to get one, you will definitely want a car charger.
Didn't mean for this to turn into a sales pitch for the iPhone, but I really think I'm going to enjoy this little device.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I think it started when Nixon was in the White House. They probably contemplated the problem for months, milked as much moolah out of the gov as possible and on a dare, they came up with daylight saving time. "Bare with me Dick, because it gets complicated," they managed to say without spewing coffee on the Prez. "Every year during the spring, we move the clock forward one hour, and each fall we move it back an hour. That way, the public stays disoriented enough that they will sleep longer to try and adjust to the time change and therefore save money on heating and cooling. When they become accustomed to the time, it changes again."
I bet that whole management team laugh hysterically when the check from Uncle Sam cleared.
Anyhow, I didn't mean to get on a rant, but it has been my intention to shoot some photos of the foliage on the way home from work, but thanks to those weasel consultants, it is now too dark when I leave work.
Late last week, I left a little early and capture this shot in the parking lot of the building where I work.
Hopefully I can shoot a few this weekend before the rain beats the leaves off the trees.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
As the years wore on, the knobs wore out, the pickup went south, and it would not stay in tune.
When I started to work, I bought better, more expensive guitars to play, so I stuck the old Teisco in the back of my closet where it has lived ever since we moved here twenty four years ago. I had considered tossing the guitar a time or two, but I could never bring myself to letting it go.
We met a guy through Steve (the third Overall), who builds Cigar Box guitars and banjos. I asked him if he would have a look at the old Teisco to see if it could be revived. He promised he'd try. He has spent months looking for old parts and this weekend, I picked it up.
I almost wept when I saw it. Aside from the scratches and the fretboard worn slick from use, it looks like it did when I first got it. This morning, I plugged it in to my Trace Elliott amp and that old $25 guitar has a sound that it unique and beautiful.
Tonight as I sit here strumming, I am a happy man.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
One thing in our favor is that the game starts now, at 2:30 and we don't play until 7 so we can wats a lot of it before having to leave for the gig.
Y'all have a great weekend. Roll Tide.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I got a few hours sleep and when I awoke around 11, I looked down across the garden toward the barn and the color was stunning.
The sweet gum trees are such wimps. The leaves turn early and when the rain began to fall, it stripped most of the leaves off the trees. It will take a shovel to get them all off my deck.
I'm about to crash. I hope I wake up in time for our gig tomorrow night.
Have a great weekend.