Monday, June 30, 2008
This spring, the tree was full of peach blossoms. Calling it a tree is a bit of a stretch because the trunk is about as thick as a kindergarten pencil with a bunch of smaller branches. But none the less, it was full of blossoms.
This year, the rain came back to Alabama and the little tree flourished. As the tiny peaches began to grow, the weight started bending the tree over. I had to dig a hole near the tree, and sink a post deep beside the peachster. I then took an old pair of pantyhose and secured the young tree to the pole. But the peaches kept growing. Saturday, I found a branch that had been blown off our oak tree during a recent storm. The limb had a "Y" in it that would have made a darn good slingshot. I propped the sagging sapling up with the support.
Today when we got home, we walked through the garden to check everything out. The peaches had ripened over the last few days. I snagged one, wiped it on the sleeve of my shirt and took a big ol' bite. Juice squirted all over my chin. It was delicious.
I know it's probably not smart to eat the entire peach crop in one afternoon, but I've had three so far and Jilda won't fess up to how many she has eaten.
People ask me why we live out in the sticks. In the past, with the cost of commuting, I have asked myself that same question. But today, sitting down in the garden, enjoying fruit from a tree I planted years ago, I knew the answer.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I've been yelled at and cursed all afternoon she said. "I'm so sorry," Jilda said. "I hope you put the ones who were ugly to you by the ice machine. " The young girl smiled and said "that's a great idea!" If you've ever had a room by an ice machine, you'd know that people get ice at all hours of the night in plastic buckets. I sounds like a hand full of marbles in a hubcap.
But why would people be ugly to a clerk at a hotel? Or a waitress at a restaurant? Or anyone for that matter? I think it was Calvin Coolidge, who skipped over man who was in line to become his vice president because the guy was rude to a waitress. Talk about consequences. A guy is rude to a waitress, a future president sees the infraction, and as a result of that act, the guy loses a chance to become the second most powerful man on the planet. He also lost his place in history.
Anyhow, we got a great room - just a few steps from the elevator so wagging luggage was a simple chore. Be kind - it pays.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
When things freeze up in there, you hustle out to the shed and gets some Nogginlube, squirt a little in the old ears and bang - it's good a new. After a few applications, you could do algebra again and maybe even program your VCR.
We had a good practice this evening. Steve and Judy have been slammed and The Overalls have not practiced in some time, but we got there early afternoon today and put in some good string time. After practice, we had boiled shrimp, potato salad and a nice tossed salad with cranberries and toasted pecans on top. Yum. For desert we had Key lime Pie. I can tell you, if we practiced more, I'd weigh 400 pounds.
Have a great weekend.
Friday, June 27, 2008
My head feels like someone stuffed cotton in my ears and then poured in some syrup. I guess this will be one of those veg-out nights. I'm here to tell you, work is interfering with my fun.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I had on shorts and a T-shirt, but I figured I could score enough berries for a pie. I hustled back to the barn and grabbed a quart jar and headed back down the path. My legs and arms look as if I've been in a cat fight, but I've got berries and Saturday, I'll be enjoying a scrumptious blackberry cobbler. A little heaven in a dish.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Last Sunday morning as we sat drinking our coffee, I reeled off several of the titles to my lovely spouse. After about the third title, her eyes crossed slightly and I could tell I was losing her.
"Yes those are OK, but I think we can do better." She has really been supportive and has been instrumental in putting it all together. "Why don't you let me have a shot at it," she said, reaching for a pad a pencil.
Her first few suggestions sounded close to the mark, but they just didn't click with me. Then she said "I've got it!" When the words rolled off her tongue, I knew she nailed it. The title she came up with is:
Reflections & Ponderings of the Sloss Holler Scholar
I love it when a plan comes together.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
My nephew James and his wife Andrea brought all their kids to the affair. Breeze, who is the middle child, looked at Jilda when the service was over and said "I go home with you." James started lobbying hard to convince Breeze that she needed to go with them and see the Peach Water Tower and the Peach Convention Center. Breeze wasn't having any of it. "I go home with Jil," she insisted.
While we have kept her and her brother a few times, she has never gone home with us alone and no one knew how she would do, but she was great!
She fell asleep and when we got home, I unbuckled her from her car-seat and took her in. She woke up when I put her on the couch, but she didn't fret. Jilda put on some soft piano music and she sat there for some time just listening and absorbing her environment.
When she was fully awake, we went out on the deck and blew bubbles (we keep crayons and bubbles for just such occasions). After the bubble-fest we went down to look at the garden, the fruit trees, the rabbits and the chickens. She was one happy child.
In fact, she was not ready to go home when the time came.
She started to cry when we headed for the car, but then Jilda picked her a gardenia blossom and then started singing and soon a smile replaced the tears.
It was a delightful way to spend a Sunny Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Here is the joke:
"I was walking by a insane asylum recently when I heard chanting from within. 13-13-13. I couldn't grasp why they were chanting. The wall was too high to see over, so I looked for a crack so I could see inside. When I found a place to see through, someone jabbed me in the eye with a stick and immediately they began changing 14-14-14."
OK, you didn't like that one? What about this? Do you know why it took so long to bury the last Pope? They couldn't find the Pope-hole diggers.
Guess I should give up the day job to pursue a career as a comedian.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I had a little extra time today so I went down to a section and began shooting photos. Ol' Buddy went with me. He's not into the project like I am so he walked over and sat in the shade and observed.
I have a small brush that I use to clean away the, old leaves, dust and grime off the stones so that I can get a good photo of the name and dates. It's slow work because there are over 1300 people buried there and I've only linked to about fifty headstones. I'm also trying to get the families of people buried there to send me photos and stories about their loved ones so that there will be a record of not only who they were, but what they did for a living and how they died.
One of my friends at work frowned when I told him about the project. "Why would you want to do that?" It's hard to say exactly why, but I feel like it is important.
So in my spare time, I go by, shoot a few pictures and link them to the list of names I have listed on the site. I'm guessing that at the current rate, it will take another few years to get it all together. Oh well, there are worse ways to spend your time.
Friday, June 20, 2008
When I was young and my family lived in a mining camp house in West Pratt. The front of the house sat up high on cinder block supports and in winter, the wind out of the north whipped underneath making the worn linoleum floors inside, cold to bare feet. But when it rained in the spring and summer, my mother let me go under the house and play for hours with my army men and small wooden blocks that I used as bulldozers.
I built a thousand miles of roads and bridges under that old house as I listened to the rain falling gently on the tin roof. It is such a vivid memory, that the sound of rain on tin make me smile without conscientiously conjuring up the image.
When it came time to come inside, I always had to go around to the back of the house, strip down to my skivvies, and toss my outer clothes into a waiting Maytag washing machine that sat on the edge of the back porch. I was as dusty as a cowboy who has been chasing cows for days. More than once I ran around in the back yard and let the rain wash the dust away.
So if it's raining in the morning, I just may sleep in.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I had a conference call this afternoon that I took on my wireless phone. I slapped a headset on it and it worked just fine. I did have to mute quickly when a cat slipped into the yard because Ol' Buddy takes a dim view of any feline activity in the area and his yapping would not have went over well while discussing transition planning with my new boss.
With the price of gas, I hope to work from home more. Most days it's simply to hot to work from the porch, but on days like today....I'ma loving it.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Like most Americans, I have a hard time with the price of gas. I know it takes this kind of trauma to move us into action. I'll be looking for a used car that is better on gas. Like most folks, we are mindful about unnecessary driving.
I heard on NPR today that Americans have driven less this year.....by over a billion miles. People are having to make hard decisions.
I know we will get through this and my dream is that we all come together as a people and become more sensible in our use of oil.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We met at a meat and three diner around the corner from the Birmingham News and grabbed a booth looking out onto 21st North. A few blocks away, organizers were in a frenzy erecting tents and scaffolding for City Stages which is traditionally held on Father's Day Weekend.
After about ten minutes of options, my eyes began to glaze over and I suggested we order. As I sat munching on my deep-fried chicken, fried okra, and corn, Tom Baily, who works for The Birmingham News - Specialty Printing, explained all the things that go into the price of printing a book. He also gave me the low-down on how pricing works. His insight on self publishing and self marketing were invaluable.
Tom said that a lot of writer were under the impression that once the book was written, the hard part was over. They think the people will beat down the door to their houses demanding copies for all their relatives.
I assured him I was under no such delusions but I felt like I could sell at least a dozen copies. I know for a fact my mama would be six when she gets her social security check.
Anyhow, I'm making a few final decisions before I give him the go-ahead to start the presses. It's an exciting and scary thing.
It looks like my goal of having it in the fall is definitely doable.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Back in 1979 when Hurricane Fredrick hit Mobile, Alabama, the phone company sent me down to help put the phones back in order. I was down there for almost a year.
After a month or two, Jilda joined me in Mobile and she brought Duke with her. Together we lived in Howard Johnson's Motel in West Mobile.
The maids gave Duke a wide berth, but he was a fun loving dog that loved people. To keep hotel management from banning Duke from the motel, Jilda always took the dog out for a walk while the cleaning staff worked in the room each day. The maids always watched Soaps on the TV as the cleaned our room. One day Jilda came back a little too soon and as the woman laid sprawled across the bed engross in the "Days of Our Lives", Duke silently walked into the room ahead of Jilda and ran his cold snout up the dress of the large woman, and on up the inside of her thigh.
She screamed like she was being ravaged by the Hells Angels. "LORDY SWEET JESUS!!!!!" By the time she got through thrashing around, she had kicked over her cleaning cart and a lamp by the bedside. It's fortunate the door was still open, because I'm quite certain she would have taken it off the hinges.
The manager made an unscheduled visit to our room that evening and said Duke had to go. Sadly, Jilda packed up his food dish, his water bowl and all his toys in her little red Honda Civic and headed home with a front seat full of dog.
I have so many stories about that dog that I could have written a book myself. But I have to give Grogan credit, because he did his dog Marley proud.
Like us, he kept his dog Marley thirteen years and when the end came, it was like losing a child. Putting Old Duke down was one of the hardest things I ever did.
If you are a sucker for a good dog story, I highly recommend "Marley and Me."
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today was a good day for most anything you might want to do....well of course you wouldn't get much snow skiing done here today, but you could have done most anything else that required big fluffy clouds, a bright blue sky and warm sunshine.
Our good friends Steve and Judy came over for practice. We have some gigs coming up soon and we wanted to get our set list worked out. We have been very busy the last several weeks and as a result, The Overalls have not practiced. But we made up for it today. I thought we sounded good.
We are also working on some new material for our next project. We have four songs that are strong candidates.
After practice, we had dinner. Jilda whipped up a meatloaf, and her famous green beans wrapped in bacon...um! We also had fresh squash from the garden. For desert we had pound cake topped with Ben & Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" ice cream. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I even started tackling the "Things to do" list. I actually maintain two to do lists. Thinks to do and things I'm REALLY going to do.
I had to run by Lowe's and get a new water filter because we were beginning to taste chlorine in our water.
It was overcast when I left, but by the time I got to the store, the sun was blazing and my black truck heats up hotter than a cauldron of boiling roofing tar. I realized there was no way I could leave Buddy in the truck.
I parked near one of the outside buggy stations, I grabbed a plastic buggy and threw Ol' Buddy in. The yard boy looked at me questioningly. I could tell he hadn't been trained on how to deal with customer/K9 issues. "He's a seeing eye dog," I said by way of explanation. He was a young guy and I could see the wheels cranking in his had but I hustled off with the dog before he figured out I was pulling his leg.
There was no greeter so I figured I could pull it off without getting arrested for some kind of weired statute involving canines and lumber supplies. I quickly pushed Buddy over to the plumbing isle and scooped up my replacement filter and headed for the checkout.
A kid in line in front of me spied Ol' Buddy and started oooing and ahhhhhing. Suddenly all eyes were on the dog. Fortunately the line was moving along and I slapped my AmEx on the counter and in a flash we made our getaway into the blinding morning sun.
I imagined the assistant manager thumbing through the store policy book so that he would know how to properly deal with similar situations in the future.
Friday, June 13, 2008
People come from all over the south and for three days the population of the city almost doubles.
So, as I crawled along the interstate, I had a foreboding feeling because I was a good fifteen miles from downtown and if traffic was already moving at a glacial pace, I wouldn't make it home until morning.
I started running alternate routes through my head, but each time I approached an exit where I could execute my get-a-way strategy, it was clogged and traffic was at a standstill. I decided to turn the AC off, roll down the windows and make the best of it.
As it turns out, that was the best strategy because everyone was getting nowhere fast. The way I saw it, I could arrive home happy or I could arrive home mad - either way, I would arrive at exactly the same time so I opted for happy.
I did managed to exit off the interstate in Homewood and take a little known street out of town. Turns out, there was a lot more people who knew about it than I thought, but traffic was moving so we crept out and I got home two hours later than normal, but I was whistling when I arrived instead of spewing steam out my ears.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
When I looked out the back door at the garden, I could see the squash rejoicing. I'm hoping the corn recovers.
I've been trying to get pictures of the new peeps but their mom's are really protective and will not let them out in the open. When I see one out the window, and I grab my camera, she gets in between me and the peep and hustles it under the azaleas or under the side porch. Maybe this weekend I can slip up close enough to get a shot.
My head's full this evening. I think I'm going to veg out for a while.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The weatherman says we have a fifty percent chance of showers today, but I don't see anything that resembles a rain cloud. The interior of my truck could double for a conventional oven.
I'm not sure if the corn in our garden is going to survive. We may have missed the window, or it could be that the plot on which we planted the corn is shaded for a few hours a day. The garden book says it needs full sun. I wish I had bought the book before I planted the corn.
We have some scrub poplar and sweet gum trees that are encroaching on the garden plot and I'm thinking about taking them down this fall even though I don't really like cutting trees, I do like fresh vegetables so there will have to be trade offs.
The tomatoes, peppers, and egg plant are doing great so for that I am thankful.
Vine-ripe tomato juice will be rolling down my chin before you know it.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Today is my friend Danny Arnold's birthday. Danny works at
He does the best version of the song "Gloria" hands down. No other performer can come anywhere close to Danny. When he starts singing that song, he gets totally involved and he does this little dance that is hard to describe. He also adds some descriptive, colorful words that I'm sure Van Morrison (who actually wrote Gloria) would have included had they occurred to him when he was writing the song. Danny's version, brings the song to life.
Several years ago, Danny started dating another friend Brenda Johnston and the romance blossomed. He asked her to marry him and they asked Jilda and I to sing at their wedding. We were thrilled because we were crazy about both of them. We knew it was the real thing.
Jilda and I surprised both of them by writing a wedding song especially for them. It was a magical night I recorded in my journal.
The chorus is:
Tonight we're gonna do it up right
We'll be together for the rest of our lives
Through good times and bad, the happy and sad
We'll walk through it all hand and hand.
We tried to call Danny a while ago, but got their answering machine. I'm guessing they've gone out to celebrate tonight. I think our message will bring a smile to their faces.
Happy Birthday Buddy.
Monday, June 09, 2008
My niece Danielle was an exception. I was away in the Army when she was born and when she saw me for the first time when I came home, I had a mustache and I was wearing a big Panama hat. She recoiled in horror and I'm not sure she has fully recovered even today. Her youngest child Zoe, on the other hand, seems to really like me.
Every time I call my sister Mary Lois (Zoe's Grandmother) Zoe gets on the phone and tells me the news. She has a few missing teeth missing but strangely enough, I can understand what she is saying.
Yesterday at the family reunion, there were a bunch of kids gathered. Zoe, Rachael, and Celeste (shown above) played on the tire swing in my sister's back yard, until they were as red as a beat.
Had the reunion been at my house, I would have tickled them silly, pumped them full of candy and soft drinks, hosed them down in the back yard and then sent them home with their parents.
It's probably a good thing that we didn't have kids.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
The early morning hours were pleasant with a nice little breeze out of the west flapping the edges of the tent. But by lunch time, I come to know how if feels to be baked alive in a convection oven.
It takes quite a bit of money to keep the old cemetery clean and the only means of income is donations we get each year on decoration day. I've done this job for several years and you learn a lot about people. Some people drive up in old cars, driven by older people, and they'll drop a twenty in the box. And then you may see a Lexus pull up and drop in a dollar. There is a core group of families that always give generous donations and thanks to them, we can continue to keep the old cemetery beautiful. The interesting thing that I have observed first hand - is the people who donate the least, complain the loudest. "There we leaves on my granny's grave."
Oh well, the folks who care for the cemetery usually say "yes mam, we'll try to do better next year."
Something interesting happened to me this evening. I was walking around taking pictures for the website when I walked up on a lady talking to Earl Hicks, who is on the cemetery board of trustees with me. She asked him if he was the one that decorated the grave of one of her relatives. He said that he did decorate the grave and began asking her who she was. I heard her say - "my daddy name was Ted Hicks." That pricked my interest because I had an aunt that was married to a man named Ted Hicks. When I asked if her mother's name was Thursie, she said yes. I said well hello cuz. As it turns out, she was a first cousin that I had not see in over 30 years. She asked about my mother and I was telling her that mom lived with my sister now and didn't get out much; when low and behold, my sister came driving up with my mom. It was a hoot. Both my mom and Sandy were very pleased to see each other. I love coincidences.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
My friends Earl Hicks and Gary Woods were down there this evening putting the finishing touches on the cleanup effort. We sat in the shade and talked for a while, swatting gnats with sweetgum brushes. With all the rain this year, there seem to be clouds of them everywhere - gnats, I mean.
The light in that old cemetery is remarkable late in the evening when the shadows get long. Every now and then when you drive down there, you will see someone sitting by the side of a grave having a private conversation. It's peaceful down there. The only time the silence is broken is by the cooing of a turtle dove or by an old freight train passing through on its way to Tupelo or eastward toward Birmingham.
Tomorrow is the second Sunday in June which is decoration at Davis Cemetery. It also happens to be reunion day for our family. For years it was held at my mother's house, but she now lives with my sister so we gather at her house for lunch.
We once had a huge crowd every year, but most of the older family members have passed on and many of the younger ones don't make it to the reunion.
I was thinking that a lot of these younger folks don't like holding on to the past. But then, it's not really their past. I hope we have a good crowd tomorrow, for my mother's sake.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Ann told us that she was touched when we sang, and that Joel would have been thrilled. She asked that we take the money and go out and have a meal in his honor. Both Jilda and I wept when we read her note.
So tonight, we went to a local restaurant and had a wonderful meal. We recalled our favorite memories of our friend. We held our glasses high and tinked a toast in his honor.
His memory will never die as long as we live.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I know George wanted us to use the stimulus package to buy something new, but we couldn't help ourselves. We paid Jilda's car off some time ago so we're going to start doubling up on the house payments. It is my intention to be in a position to take the money and run the next time I get an offer.
Our other hen hatched out at least on more baby peep today but she's still sitting so a few more may hatch before she's through.
I bought a really good Home and Garden's book today that goes into detail on how to care for your garden. I've already learned some things that should make the yield better.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
My cube is a fairly good size with lots of cabinets and shelves. The new area is not quite as large, but it's big enough. I started cleaning out my desk and other storage and I had tons of junk that I've collected through the years. I must have had 200 floppy disks. My computers at work don't even have floppy drives in them now. I have no idea what's on the disks. I think I'm going to put them in the crusher and just let them go. I would give them away, but I could have some private data on them so I can't take a chance.
I have cables to computers, zip drives and other peripherals that I have not own in years. They went in the garbage. I also had a shelve of old magazines. One good thing about magazines is that I can put them on the tables in the break room and they disappear quickly....on to the desk of someone else, and to points beyond.
The only bad part is my plants. They get settled in an area and they don't like to be moved. They will sulk for a week or two and cast off some foliage.
It is my intention to have a little better feng shui in my new area. I think I need a better flow of energy around my desk.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
When I started learning how to play the guitar, I didn't want to waste time learning anything about music, I wanted to play and let those beautiful notes come rolling out of the sound hole. When I get around people who play really well they assume I know things about music, but they'd be wrong. I can't tell a quarter note from a piccolo. I've bought several music books trying to learn more about music, but I find myself paging through to the back of the book to see if I can simply take the final test in the book and acquire the knowledge but it hasn't worked yet.
It's the same with writing. I dodged most of the really hard English teacher in school, opting to slide through by the seat of my pants. "Who in the world needs to know how to conjugate a verb?" I chided more conscientious students. "You may need to learn this stuff so you'll be able to write when your older," they often counseled. "I'd rather donate a kidney," I thought to myself.
Well here I am, trying to be a writer and I struggle with the English language. I've known Cubans that were better with English than me.
The defect rears its ugly head in other areas as well. When I get new software or new electronic equipment, I never look at the manual. I learn by fooling around. It's only after I smell smoke or hear some ominous fizzing sound coming from the innards of the equipment that I pick up an manual. "Oh, I probably should have read this first," I lament.
This is a heck of a thing to come to grips with when you're my age. One would think that as many years as I spent in school, I would have learned but that is not the case.
So it's back to the fundamentals for me. I bought some Style Guides, some basic gardening books, and a Music 101 book. It is my intention to root out this nasty habit as if it were thistle in my garden.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I've got a call in to the printer to discuss my options. I need to understand how many I have to print to make the price affordable. I might have to knock of a liquor store or perhaps sell a kidney to make enough money for the first run, but I've made up my mind I'll do whatever it takes.
I also got a couple nibbles on the weekly column so I've got my fingers crossed. All I need is about another couple hundred papers to start running the columns weekly and I'll be set :)
Sunday, June 01, 2008
We broke up more space in the garden this morning. We have garlic at one corner and we let that space go until the it was ready to harvest. A few days ago, the heads broke open signifying that it's time to dig it up. We harvested a small basket full of garlic. Afterwards, I cut the grass and then brought in the tiller to get that section ready to plant our eggplants. I think we'll plant another row or two of peas and then call it quits for now. It will take a good bit of work keeping the weeds at bay until the harvest comes in. Our tomatoes have lots of green tomatoes on them now so it won't be too long before I have a homemade/homegrown tomato sandwich. Yum