Sunday, August 31, 2008
Since there is no room for them in the original building, they surplus students are housed in trailers parked around the grounds. Most of the trailers do not have indoor plumbing. If a child has to go to the restroom, they are usually escorted by an aide.
Normally trailers are used in extraordinary situations and are temporary. This school has had trailers for years and the number continues to grow. I woke up this morning thinking about what would happen if the school was hit by one of the many tornadoes that rip through our area with alarming frequency.
I've never been politically motivated, I don't want to run for office but I do fear for the lives of the children of our community. I believe that things can change with the right focus. I've stood by too long. I think it is time to act.
The next board of education meeting is September 11th so Jilda and I have marked our calendars and plan to attend.
I'll start by gathering facts and then try to raise awareness with the news media. There are a lot of things that are broken and they will stay broken until someone takes a stand. We'll see what happens.
The way I see it is I know and the school board knows the school is vulnerable. If disaster struck, and we had not acted to correct the problem, the blood would be on all our hands.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The positives for Alabama is they had the best freshman class in the nation. We have freshmen that have phenomenal talent but they are freshmen and subject to inconsistency. We are building a little depth and our offensive line is one of the best in the nation.
So, in a few hours we'll have an idea of what all this means. I love my team, win or lose.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Most of our friends have sailed and come back ranting and raving. Jilda has been a little hesitant because she has this little problem....she is deathly afraid of falling overboard and drowning while I'm in the casino playing roulette.
I think I've convinced her to give it a try, but I may see if we can just get on the ship and hang around while they are fueling up just to see if she feels comfortable enough to sail away from the dock. We'll need to take this one step at a time.
Have a great holiday weekend.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The next step is when they print a draft of the book. That is my last chance to edit, change, or rearrange any of the content.
After those changes are made, it will take two or three weeks to have the finished product in my hands. Then the real work begins. This is an interesting process. I've learned a great deal already and I have a feeling the lessons haven't really begun yet.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Today was a phone day. I felt the headset I was wearing was growing into the scalp which I think actually enhanced the quality of the headache.
Anyhow, I think I'm going to disengage from the computer and rest the old eyes a bit. Happy Wednesday.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Some time later our friend Skip, who was working on a political campaign, mentioned the song to George McMillian who was running for Governor. George liked the song so much that he paid for recording time, and a local bluegrass band recorded the song in Nashville. The Eagle was used a various functions throughout the campaign. The candidate did not win the election and I choose to believe that it was NOT because of our song.
Several years later, our friend Ray Benson, who was the lead singer for the bluegrass band who had recorded the song, got a record deal and one of the songs on the project was The Eagle. He would be singing with a Trio and one of the members of the trio was Tracy Lea Reynolds. We became instant friends and co-writers with Tracy.
For one reason or another, the trio didn't happen and Ray backed out of the deal. Tracy went on to get a record deal of her own and she too recorded The Storm Brings Out the Eagle, along with four other songs we co-wrote with her.
During the promotion of the album, she sang live on The Grand Ol' Opry. The song she sang was The Storm Brings Out the Eagle. I have a tape of that performance. That was in the mid 1990's.
The song is still getting a little air play here and abroad.
A year or so ago, we played the song for Don Early who is another friend of ours. He has been playing music since the late 50's and he has an incredible voice. He said he loved the song and asked us for a copy of the words.
Last night we got a call from him and he said he had rearranged the song and played it for a team of movie producers this week, who were filming a "made for TV" special here in Alabama. He said the song blew them away. He thinks if he can get a good recording of the song that it may make it into the movie.
We went over there tonight and he played the song for us. It made chills run up my arm. Now we are scrambling trying to put all the players together to help record the song....Fred, if you are reading this....I need to talk to you about helping us do some recording.
I am constantly amazed by our friends. Whether this song makes the movie or not, we are flattered and humbled that our friends have believed in us and did what they could to help us be successful. The truth is, when you have great friends like ours, you are already successful.
Here are the words to The Storm Brings Out the Eagle.
When the horizon fills with clouds of the storm
Small Birds seek their refuge
When thunder rolls and the wind is born
The weak await the deluge
But the storm brings out the eagle
To challenge the wind and the cloud
Yes the storm brings out the eagle
Soaring high and free and proud
Defiantly facing the fury
Determined to see it through
May all the storms of your life
Bring out the eagle in you
When your trials are many and your triumphs are few
And your fire is down to an ember
When your spirit grows weary, and your lost and confused
There's something that you should remember
Monday, August 25, 2008
She arrived in Alabama several days ago with wind gusts and torrential rain. Yesterday afternoon I started getting calls from people all over the state telling us to take cover that a tornado was headed for Empire. Now Empire is not that big so we ALWAYS get concerned when they say a storm's headed this way.
We kept a watch out and you could see sunshine out the front windows but when you looked out the back doors toward the south, it looked like nightfall. There was no lightening or thunder which is totally different than spring and autumn storms. I could hear the rain coming from about a mile away and our dogs went berserk. But the storm stayed up high and all we got was another inch or two of rain in a matter of minutes.
A while later, the sun was out again. Jilda went out back to put some scraps in the composter and noticed our tomato cages had been blown over. When she walked through the garden to straighten them up, she sank up to her knees in mud. I could hear her hollering through the open doors and I ran out to see what was going on. When I got to the fence, she looked like a miget. I thought I was going to have to get the truck and a tow-rope to rescue her but I managed to walk around the edge of the garden and get close enough to pull her free. I should be able to retrieve her shoes next spring when I break the garden up again.
As I sit here typing, I can hear the rain on the roof. Fay should help get the water tables back to normal after a year or so of near drought conditions.
I've heard some people complaining about the rain, but I consider it a gift.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
You are the decisions you make and for the most part I'm very happy with where I am. But sometimes when I see a very creative movie, read a book or hear music that absolutely blows me away I find myself wondering how our lives would have been had we settled somewhere else? Somewhere closer to "the action."
We watched a movie that we both love called "Committed". It's an odd movie staring Heather Graham and Luke Wilson. It's very quirky, but it makes me smile. The screen play is eclectic but I fell in love with the characters. I find it creative and stimulating.
I sometimes wonder "what if we'd decided to live in LA instead of Empire, Alabama? Would it make a difference if you were surrounded by creative and stimulating people?
The reality is that there are a lot of creative people in LA that spend their time and energy just getting by just like everyone else on the planet. I believe that there is something down deep inside that makes you want to do remarkable things and it doesn't matter if you live in New York, LA, Nashville or Empire, Alabama. It's a matter of focus, and determination and time.
It's OK to wonder, but I think it's better to spend your time working on your chops rather than worrying about what might have been.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The apple and pear trees are bending down from the weight of the fruit. Like weary peddlers packing their goods to market. I'll have to do some pruning when the weather gets cold and the sap goes down.
This is the best year ever for the pears. They are huge and when you bite into them, the juice runs down your chin. I walked down to gather some tomatoes and I picked a pear the size of a softball and ate it there under the tree.
The apples still have a few more weeks before they come into their prime. I'm not sure what kind of apple they are. I planted the tree a long time ago. The fruit gets fairly large and when you bite into the, they are very sweet but they are somewhat tart....very crunchy.
Some years it's too dry and the fruit falls off before it's ready and the birds get the benefit. But this year, was a perfect combination of hot days with frequent rain. So we've had a bumper crop.
I'll be eating jelly and fried pies all winter. Thank you Mother Nature.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I'm not really sure how they kept score as both teams got the ball five times in a row and then each team got to try to score from the twenty yard line three times. And that took it to halftime.
I think the game would have gone better had it been straight football but hey, I didn't make up the rules.
Dora had a dismal season last year winning only one game all year. The team looks much sharper this year so my hopes are high.
I'll post the photos tomorrow on www.dorahighschool.com
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
There was an old guy that lived in Frenchtown which is a community near Old Dora. The railroad that runs through Dora, is cut into the side of a mountain and Frenchtown, which is a sleepy community is situated on level ground about a hundred yards down the mountain from the tracks.
About twenty years ago a freight train loaded with produce and new Fords jumped the tracks near Frenchtown and the momentum pushed the engine and several cars down the embankment. The engine came to rest only a few yards from the old guys house. The news reporters from all around rushed out to the scene, to interviewed the old guy. "What was it like," they asked. "Hit (that's the way he talked) sounded jes like a tornader coming."
OK, here's a joke for you - Do you know what a redneck divorce and a tornado have in common? Somebody is going to lose a trailer.
I grasping at straws tonight, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We went down this evening and he shot about a dozen pictures that were just what I needed. As a bonus, we got to sit around and talk to our old friends for a while.
I'm excited and almost overwhelmed by the book project. All kinds of thoughts are racing through my head. Is the layout right? Is the title right? is the work good enough? Your mind is really good at this stuff. It knows where the cracks are in you armor and it picks away relentlessly.
Well, I'm going to do this thing. If it falls flat, then I'll pick up the pieces and move on. But it's like the old saying goes - you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket. I'm buying a ticket.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
We talked colors, fonts, types of paper, glossy/matt finishes and schedules. I handed over 48 columns and within a week or so, I'll have the first proof. This is where I look at the initial designs and layout. Once the basics have been approved, they will provide an entire proof copy of the book. This will be my last chance to make any significant changes to the project. After I give final approval, it will take about two to three weeks to get the finished book in my hands.
Once I get the finished product, then the work of marketing and promotions begins. Jilda and I have some experience with this because of our music, but promoting a book is different. You have to do book signings, speaking engagements, and a lot of gorilla marketing. If you are unsuccessful, you wind up with a trunk full of books.
I have had a lot of people contact me asking when it will be available and I am grateful to these folks because without their support and encouragement, this project would remain just that - a project....a dream that has no way to come true.
The ball is now rolling and I'll keep y'all informed as to the progress.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The new truck has been great. I've never owned a black vehicle before and it took some time to adjust. During the summer, the interior heats up enough to smelt iron ore. I think U.S. Steal wasted a lot of money buying coal. They should have bought a fleet of black vehicles and put the ore in there during the summer months.
Other than that, the truck has been great! Today on the way to work, it turned over 100,000 miles. Car manufacturers should program odometers to ding, blink or otherwise herald milestones. "Hey Bubba, you've driven the circumference of the earth...or you have spent a year sitting in the driver's seat of this vehicle." The S-10 Chevy pickup I had before I bought the Ranger, had 280,000 miles on it when I sold it. I would have put fewer miles on it had I driven it to the moon. My brother-in-law has had the vehicle for the last five years and he put another 100,000 miles on it. He thought I was crazy to sell it. I probably was.
Anyhow, I have never had one minute's problem with the Ford until this afternoon when I was leaving work. When I hit the starter, all it would do is click. I checked the terminals and they were corroded. I could not tell with a cursory inspection because the battery terminals have covers on them. When I looked under the covers, there was green coral looking acid/corrosion/something strange and as toxic as the ooze off plutonium.
I was standing there with the hood raised scratching my head when an old friend stopped by and gave me a jump start.
I made it over to the super-center and bought a new battery as well as new terminals which I installed in the sweltering heat outside. When the job was done, I turned the key and the Ford sprang to life.
There were people at the super center complaining about the repairs they were being forced to make to their cars but I didn't see it that way. My truck has taken me around the world almost three times. I think it deserves a new battery.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
We got there about 10 a.m. and the sun was already warm. When we got back to the live stock area, the critters were not happy about the heat. There were pot bellied pigs, ducks, geese, Guinna fowl, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and every kind of chicken you could imagine. I never realized the variety of colors, sizes and shapes of chickens. I wanted to buy them all and take them back to the farm.
I had been looking for a nesting box for the chickens at home, but we came home empty handed, except for a big ol' bag of parched peanuts.
This evening, I rebuilt an old nesting box we acquired when our neighbor moved away. He raised game chickens that are used in chicken fighting completion. I never actually saw him fighting the chickens.
When I mentioned to a lady co-worker who was raised up north that I once had a neighbor who fought chickens, she exclaimed "well that's not very fair, a man against a chicken!" I explained that it was actually the chickens that fought each other. I don't think the neighbor would have stood a chance against a good game rooster. They would probably have pecked the guys' eyes out because he was "bad to drank."
Anyhow, I got the nesting boxes repaired and hung in the shed so that they can do their setting out of the weather.
One of the new peeps that was born the 4th of June was a rooster so we should be able to raise all the chickens we want. We're taking pre-orders for WatsonRed Chickens.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
We play tonight so I'll be getting home past my bedtime so I'm posting a little earlier than usual.
Our friend Fred is going to ride up to Local Color with us and critique our show.
I put new strings on the Taylor for tonight. I haven't changed strings in some time and they were beginning to sound flat to me. There is nothing like a new set of strings on a good guitar. They seem to ring forever.
Signing off for now. Have a great Saturday.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Today she called to say he was back. I really can't blame him because the apples are really scrumptious. Our pairs are coming in too, and there are some as big as softballs. He'll probably find them if he keeps coming around.
I have a lot of friends that are hunters and I respect that. They all are mindful of the environment and they eat what they take. But I'm not a hunter.
I guess I'm a wuss because I just cannot bring myself to shoot an animal. I did hunt for a while when I was growing up, but it just wasn't right for me. It never felt right and so I leave that pastime to others.
Tomorrow evening The Overalls play at Local Color in Springville. If any of my friends are out and about, feel free to come by. The food is good and we always strive to put on a good show.
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
We camped out on the back of the bus and there was a bunch of young folks our age heading home for the holidays. I had the good sense to take my guitar with me on the journey. I wasn't that good then, but I could play old country standards, Dylan, and some Peter, Paul & Mary songs. As it turns out, that's all it took. We sat on the back of that bus and sang until we got hoarse.
It didn't take a lot of sleep back then to get by, so we were off to the slopes by early Friday afternoon. Rick gave me a few cursory instructions and said "it's easy, you'll love it."
I put on the boots and clamped on the skies. So far so good. We headed to the lift and I watched for a while as little kids and old folks hopped on the lift. It looked simple enough, but it took a few times to actually get on board. I didn't realize that the lift didn't stop when the get to the top. You're expected to hop off and then ski down the slope. When I got to the top my exit was less than graceful....I hit the snow face first.
I finally got up and started stomping my way over to the beginner's slope. A kid took pity on me and showed me how to start and how to slow down when I started going too fast. She was a good instructor for a ten year old, but I was not a very good student. I spent more time on my face and on my rear than I spent standing on ski's.
At one point I got to going pretty good and then I felt like I was going too fast. I used the braking technique which is to point the front tips of your ski's together, but the move was to abrupt and I almost snapped both legs off at the knees. I limped for a month.
I decided then and there that if I did any more skiing, it would be on the river. I kept that promise to myself.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
There was not thunder and no wind, just an old slow rain.
I don't recall the last time we had an all-day rain. Everything in the yard looks refreshed, except for the birds which all look like wet socks.
Had I been at my regular desk I would have described the day as hectic, but today I didn't get cranked, I just handled one thing at a time and moved through my workload. I don't think it was an accident, that I accomplished more with less frazzled nerves - I credit the rain.
Monday, August 11, 2008
One problem that I see (because I struggle with it) is that you lose sight of your goals and your purpose in life. Why am I here?
I watched Peaceful Warrior recently and the spiritual teacher appeared in this young gymnasts life. The gymnast became frustrated with the teacher, who worked in a gas station doing routine work there. "Why are you doing this?" the kid snapped. The teacher said "there is no higher purpose than to provide service to others."
This one statement caused me to do some self examination because it seems so often in my life, my priorities have been backwards - what can you do for me? Not, "what can I do for mankind?"
I'm afraid when the final tally is in, I will have spent too much time gettin' and not enough time givin'. It is my intention to turn this equation around.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
These days there's all kinds of stuff to consider. Clothes, backpacks, pens, theme binders, mp3 players, cell phones, and calculators.
It used to be a lot simpler buying school supplies - a pair of dungarees, a couple of flannel shirts, a Hopalong Cassidy lunch kit, some paste, a writing pad, a couple of fat pencils and you were set. The only calculators we had was the ten fingers on our hands. I still use my calculator. It's easy on batteries.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I heard what she was saying but it didn't make sense. I stepped over to the computer to see if I could solve the mystery when she said - Oh!, it's not Mexico, it's Medico. Medco is our medication vendor since I changed jobs back in April. She laughed so hard she almost lost her breath and I thought it was pretty funny too.
The older I get, the more tricks my eyes play on me too. Here's a "funny" about growing older. One old guy was telling a friend that he had just purchased a new hearing aid. "I can hear like a baby now," he bragged. His friend, who was getting a little hard of hearing too said "what kind is it?" The first man looked at his watch and said it's 4:30.
This joke has nothing to do with age but it's pretty funny none the less:
Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic? He doesn't believe in Dog.
Have a great Saturday evening.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I sat on my turning plough and soaked in the last remnants of the setting sun. There is an oak tree in the barnyard that I cannot reach around. In fact, some of the limbs of that oak are bigger in diameter than the trunks of most of the younger trees around here. It is a magnificent thing to behold. In the heat of the summer, it seems cooler. And just sitting in its presence makes you feel a part of something much bigger and more permanent.
As I've said before, people often ask me why we live out here in Empire. "You're spending a fortune on gas and the time you spend commuting is lost." But usually when people come to visit we wind up taking a walk down to the barn and once they stand under that oak tree, they begin to understand the appeal.
I'm grateful for that old tree and all the other blessings in my life.
Y'all have a great weekend.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Before I knew it, the clock had wound around to quitting time.
I'm going to be a slacker tonight. I'll do better tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Now when I remember my dreams, they often involve music. In some of my dreams I played an entire show with my guitar out of tune. Every time I'd try to tune a string that was flat, it would get flatter and the rest of the band looked at me crossly.
A few nights ago I had a dream about playing a harmonica but no sound came out no matter how hard I blew. Even with the weird instrument malfunctions, I'd still rather have a music dream than one about giants. It's a matter of scale (pun intended).
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I could almost see the remote saying "while you're out getting batteries you might want to consider buying some eggs and a fresh carton of milk because the carton in the fridge is six days past the "sell by" date." Further recommendations would include - "don't use the Bank of America Visa, it's maxed out. Be sure and return the overdue library book the air is low in your left front tire."
The remote knows all this stuff because of an artificial intelligence chip installed by the phone company. The device has gotten smart enough to link up the the Department of Homeland Security and it will rat you out to the feds if you don't report the hundred dollars you made selling some old tools at the yard sale; or if you burn a music CD for a friend; or you tear that warning label off your mattress.
I'm telling you, it's not that much of a stretch.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Just before dark a thunder storm slammed down from the north making it sound like we lived under a bowling alley hosting a tournament for drunken Shriner's. I'm not knocking Shriner's because they do incredible work, but they know how to have a good time.
I was working in Mobile back in 1980 putting the town back together after Hurricane Fredrick had his fun. Jilda joined us mid-summer at the Howard Johnson's and she brought our German Shepherd Duke to keep her company at the hotel while we worked.
Somehow I managed a rare weekend off and we headed west down the coast. Our original plan involved us going to Biloxi, Mississippi for a swim in the ocean, but one thing led to another and by 10 p.m., we found ourselves on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
If anyone has ever walked down Bourbon Street at night, you can see almost ANYTHING. We passed a guy on stilts that was about twelve feet tall. He had on a pair of pants that came all the way to the ground so if you had slammed down one too many Hurricanes, you'd think he was actually that tall. He was ambling down the street dancing to music we could not hear. We passed a bar with a picture window. When you looked inside, there was a woman on a swing and she was butt naked.
Now here's where it gets weird. Since our original destination was the beach, I had on a pair of swimming trunks and a tee shirt. Jilda had on a cut off tee shirt and a bikini. We didn't raise an eyebrow with Bourbon Street revilers, but when we tried to enter Pat O'Briens to get one of those world famous Hurricanes, they wouldn't let Jilda in. I it wasn't because of Duke, our German Shepherd, it was because Jilda was wearing a bikini. We were dumbfounded. We had to stand aside to let a woman walk in wearing a pair of short overalls made entirely out of black electricians tape, but Jilda could not enter.
"OK, I'll stay out her with Duke, you hustle in and get the drinks" she snapped. Stupidity make her snippy. So I went in and ten minutes later when I came out, she was totally surrounded by Shriner's who were apparently in town for some kind of convention. They were asking - "How much for you? Another said "how much for the dog?" Another ventured "how much for you and the dog?"
It is fortunate that she was unarmed, or she would still be in Angola Penitentiary...or worse yet, could have been fried as crisp as a spring-fed catfish by Gruesome Gurtie, the state's legendary electric chair.
I never know when I sit down to do a blog entry where the stories will end up. I think some of insightful, some are poignant, and some are down right strange. It's obvious this one falls into the latter category.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
We always weave some motivational stuff in with our songs. Not sure if any of the words hit the mark with these kids, but we always give it a shot. The child care workers always ask the kids to stand and say their names, tell their ages and say where they are from. I asked them to include what they want to do when they grow up.
As they went around the room, some wanted to be nurses, one kid wants to be a welder and construction worker; one wants to play football; and a few wanted to be singers/performers/actors. I love to plant that seed whenever I can. It's never to early to get kids to thinking about their future. I think it is important for them to visualize a better life.
Jilda, who should probably be a motivational speaker, encourages them to dream big but to work each day towards those dreams. I was inspired myself.
I closed by saying that my prayer for them is to go out an do something remarkable. The cards are stacked against them, but chose to believe some of them will beat the odds.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Usually when we play we play we get thrown in with rock, blues, R&B or groups with banjos and cloggers. I don't have anything against banjo's and cloggers or any of the other kinds of music for than matter, but usually when people come to hear the blues, they aren't ready for singer/songwriter folk music and they look at us as if we were airlifted from Botswana and dropped at the festival by mistake.
The Birmingham Folk Festival, except for the choice of dates, was a refreshing venue. In years past, it has been a private festival, but this year it went public and the choice of locations was exceptional.
Avondale Park is one of the oldest parks in Birmingham. The Park has lots of old trees and a spring fed pond with fat geese that love visitors with loaf bread.
The park also has a very nice pavilion that was build back during the depression by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which built parks, schools, bridges, and other stone structures. Putting people to work is what helped bring our country out of the great depression.
The WPA also built the amphitheater at Avondale Park which has been used down through the years for music performances and plays.
Hopefully next year, they will pick a festival date earlier in the spring or in autumn so that us old folk won't get heat stroke.
If you'd like to read about the festival and the interesting history of Avondale park, click on this link and read a story in the Birmingham Weekly written by our old friend Cortney Haden who is a treasure a for us who love Birmingham.
Friday, August 01, 2008
I'm not sure what we were thinking back in March when we got the gig. It was in the low 70's with a cool breeze out of the northwest. "Do y'all want to play the Birmingham Folk Festival this year?" "Heck yes!" I can remember us saying. Upon reflection, that may have been a hasty decision.
We played a festival in August about five years ago and I think I lost ten pounds before we got through the set. I had to use a wet-vac to mop all the perspiration out of the guitar.
Jilda is praying for a freak snowstorm to drop a foot of snow on Avondale Park an hour or so before we hit the stage. I'd settle for a big ol' fluffy cloud the size of Rhode Island to inch over the park bringing with it a gentle breeze out of the northwest.