Saturday, February 28, 2009

Are You A Bear?

Our great niece and nephew visited us a few weeks ago. Black, our eighty-five pound lab-mix dog greeted them warmly. He loves kids and he weighs more than both of them. Stone walked over to Jilda and said "is he a bear?" Breeze walked over, squatted down, and asked Black to his face "are you a bear." Black licked her in the face and she squealed with delight.
Ever since the kids were here, each time Black comes around we ask "are you a bear." When we do that, he wags his whole body and prances around.
The last 24 hours we had a lot of wind and it has rained more than six inches here at the Watson household. Both levels of our garden are standing in water and indeed look like ponds.
Wind out of the south took a huge buttermilk pine down between the house and the barn. Unfortunately, the tree fell on our pecan tree that we've been coddling for the past few years.
I feared the worse but when I went in with the chainsaw, and cut away the dead tree from around the pecan, I realized the young tree was bent over but not broken. It will take some time to clear out the dead tree but I can do that later.
On the way back to the house I looked over toward the garden pond and Black was in the water up to his side. He looked like he was in heaven. So if Old Black is a bear, he's a waterbear.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Zone

I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately. I know the best way to lose readers on your blog is to write crap. I don't write every day to win a Pulitzer prize, I write every day because of the discipline.
I've read a great deal about writers and there are a few common themes. Read the work of really good writers, study the craft, love the language, and write every day.
Some days the ideas and word flow effortlessly. Some days I have to pry them out with a spoon.
There is no pattern, except I've noticed that writing when I'm really tired is a total waste of time, but it's impossible to predict when the drought will occur. One thing I should do is write several columns and blog entries when I'm in the zone.
I tell you this is a book that would be a hit with struggling writers....What do you do when the words won't come?
Anyhow, I plan to rest up tonight and find the words tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Talk

I had my first speaking engagement today. I addressed the Walker County Genealogy Society and discussed the importance of stories. What was interesting about this group of folk is,- "they get it".
After my talk, we had refreshments and almost everyone there came up to tell me their story. I was surprised at how many knew more about my extended family that I did.
There were a number of guest who attended today seeking stories and connections for their families.
I'm not sure why, but when I was younger, and my grandparents were still living, I could care less about my family history. Now that I'm older, and more interested, the trail has grown colder. It would have been so easy to gathered the information first had. That's not a option now.
I did have the good sense to record my grandmother Watson telling some stories about her life.
I was well received today and I was surprised and happy with the number of books I sold. I made a donation to the Society.
All in all, it was a good day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fruit

I'm thinking Kiwi tree. Actually I'm not sure if they grow on bushes, trees, or if they will grow in the south at all but our great nephew Jordan loves 'em. He just celebrated his first birthday and he has discovered the wonders of fresh fruit. I'm guessing he will enjoy all kinds, but the fruit of the day is Kiwi.
So I'm doing some research to see if we can grow them here and how long it takes for them to bear fruit. We currently have grapes, peaches, apples, pears, blueberries (though they are not bearing yet) blackberries and and muscadines. All the weather folks are saying that this winter has been perfect for fruit and vegetable production. Cold enough to kill the munching critters and wet enough to make the roots explode a the first sign of spring.
I'm excited. I love everything about spring....except for the tornado's.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm Cheating Tonight

OK,
I've drawn a blank tonight. I tapped the letters off the keyboard and nothing. Just then, my email tinged and when I looked it was several really funny quips about aging. So, here they are.
I saw where a reporter was interviewing a woman that was 104 years old. When he asked what was the best thing about being that age, she quickly said "No peer pressur
e."

I've sure gotten old! I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,
New knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes I'm half blind,
Can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, Take 40 different medications that
Make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia
Have poor circulation; Hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.
Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92.
Have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver's license.

Know how to prevent sagging?
Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

It's scary when you start making the same noises
As your coffee maker.

These days about half the stuff
In my shopping cart says, ' For fast relief.'


Monday, February 23, 2009

Remarkable

I downloaded a new version of Google Earth last night and they have added street views even here in the country. They didn't come down our little road, but they did come up the Empire Road.
I also saw where they came through the community where I was raised. You can click on a picture and get a 360 view of the area. The old house was torn down to make way when the new road came through. I find it funny that I call it the new road even though it has been built for almost 40 years. But I digress. I clicked on the picture near when the old house once stood and did a 360 view. There are mobile homes parked on land where the old place stood, but you can still see ome of the trees which are are still standing.
Seeing the old place from space is odd. My friend Grandpappy asked me about the old Dora Train Depot a while back. I looked up the exact location on Google Map, you can still see the concrete slab on which the old building sat. Truly remarkable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bad Bird

We were drinking coffee and watching the fireplace this morning. Ol' Buddy went out for his morning stroll. A short time later I heard him on the porch whimpering. I hurried to the door thinking he had gotten hurt or something. When I looked out, Clyde the rooster had Ol' Buddy backed up against the door and the little mutt wanted inside in the worst kind of way.
Clyde's feathers were all puffed out and he was doing this sinister squawking sound that was scaring the daylights out of the dog. The door was only opened an instant when Ol' Buddy shot inside. He looked at me as if to say - "we need to get rid of that evil bird!"
Clyde must be coming of age because he decided later in the day that he didn't like my looks either so he made a little run at me. I gave him a little taste of Mr. Niki tennis shoe and the bird decided to let me live.
I can tell you this, if he pull that stuff with Jilda, we'll be having Clyde the rooster for Sunday dinner.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Stuff

I"ve been on the slow track today. I worked late last night and I've been a sleepyhead today.
We ran out to the co-op this morning and bought some cracked corn for the chickens and some deer corn to feed our four-legged friends until spring. We saw the whole fam again the other night. A young buck, a good sized doe and a small deer jumped out in front of us while we were on the way home. We drive slowly on our road now because seeing them has become routine and they wouldn't be nearly as cute coming through our windshield.
They will have to find cover here this evening because I just got a weather alert and there is a wall of rain out near Jasper which is about fifteen miles away. You couldn't tell it by looking outside now because the sunshine is stunning. We sat in greatroom by the windows earlier and snacked on blueberry cheese and hot tea while watch what seemed like a million birds feed in the yard.
I'll be on call again tonight so I may be cranky tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Road Scholar

I'm listening to a book now called "Girl With a Dragon Tattoo". It was written in Swedish and translated to English. The names are odd and a bit hard to follow at first, but I've gotten in the groove now.
It's a tale about a journalist who is hired to solve a forty year old crime. I wasn't sure I was going to like the book at first but now I'm hooked it's hard to put it down.
I was curious about how many books I've listen to. When I looked in my Audible library, I have 292 books. I listened to books on tape for years before I subscribed to Audible. I'd venture to say I've listened to somewhere around a thousand books.
Jilda doesn't like to listen to books because she says she tends to become distracted, but I have no problem staying focused. I think it makes good use of the two hour commute that would otherwise be wasted.
If you spend any time at all on the road, I recommend you give audio books a try.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

iPhone Stuff

I found another cool application for my iPhone this morning. It's an app that allows you to listen to PBS radio stations from all over the country. There are two folk only stations that are incredible.
I'm not sure when it happened...when a simple telephone transformed into a tool that not only lets you talk to anyone on the planet but also allows you to surf the web, get directions, get real-time traffic, medical information, a dictionary, thesaurus, camera, and a flashlight. I'm surprised that I can't whittle with it.
What is even more amazing to me is the people who thought it up and the ones who imagine and develop new applications so quickly that it's hard to keep up.
Anyhow, I'm listening to Woody Guthrey on www.folkalley.com which is a station in northeast Ohio. And I'm a loving my little gadget.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lazy Day Stuff

I took a lazy day today. I had a big list of things to do, but I didn't do any of those things. Instead, Jilda and I finished a song we had been working on for a good while. I picked up the guitar early and we knocked it out while we drank our coffee. I sent it to our buddy Steve and if he likes it, we may put it on the next Overalls CD.
We've been kicking around the idea of doing another CD, especially since we've upgraded our recording equipment and have a couple more years of performing under our belts. I think we are finding our niche. We don't do bars and other smoky venues, but there are a lot of coffeehouses and festivals who want original acoustic/folk music. We got in a groove last year in the fall and we played almost every weekend.
I'm on call this coming weekend, but the weekend after, I think we are going to rent a chalet and write new material. We'll get a pet friendly chalet this time so we can take Ol' Buddy with us.
Maybe at Cheaha State Park where the air is cool even in the summer time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blade Trauma

The rain started pinging off my windshield before I left the Birmingham City Limits. When I turned on the wipers, all I got were nasty streaks. I stopped under a bridge to inspect my wiper blades and they were in shreds. I haven't replaced them in some time and I guess the temperature swings has played havoc on the rubber. I waited a while until the rain subsided.
I stopped by Wally World and bought new ones but the rain started back up so I poked on home in the slow lane. I'm taking a day off tomorrow so I'll replace the blades before the next raindrop falls.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Frog Pose

Tonight was yoga night and Jilda took us into some uncharted territory. I thought I was going to have to call 911 and tell them I was stuck in frog pose and I can't get up. I feared they would think it was a prank call and leave me there to rot.
When class was over, it actually felt good so I'm guessing my body needed the "frog stretch". I might be croaking a different tune in the morning.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Birds

We had a delightful Valentine's Day. Our friend Wes, who is a 4-H member from way back, spoke to the gathering. It's an annual gathering of 4-H kids from all over Alabama. They get together and for a leadership conference where they discuss projects, network, and have a little fun.
We met some remarkable kids last night. They were full of enthusiasm and ready to get out into the world and make a difference.
After we ate and Wes delivered his speech, we went back to the rooms and played old love songs late into the night.
This morning as we got ready to leave our host asked if we wanted to tour the mew. I wasn't sure what the mew was, but the tours we had of the other facilities were cool so we said sure.
We learned from Becky (the woman responsible for care of the birds) that a mew is the facility in which birds are housed. She introduced us to a vulture, a horned owl, a couple of hybrid owls, and a red tailed hawk (pictured above).
She asked us to be seated in the show area so Wes and I sat on one bench; Jilda and Deidra sat on a bench ten feet across from us.
She let the hawk out to get some exercise and it flew around to some perches in the show area. When Becky called the hawk, it dove off a tool shed and swooped down within two feet of the ground and flew between. I tried several shots before catching the bird in mid-flight. It was a magnificent creature.
Becky graduated from Auburn and landed the job with the 4-H Convention Center caring for the birds. She spends a great deal of time with school children across the state doing seminars and exhibitions with her birds.
After about thirty minutes with Becky, it's obvious that she loves her work and it was gratifying to spend a little time with her and the birds.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

We are doing Valentine's Day at a convention center in south Alabama and I'm not sure if I'll be able to post this evening.
Jilda and I exchanged cards early. I found a nice card and some chocolates for her and bought her the Bon Jovi CD's she's been wanting. She painted a card for me and bought me a great University of Alabama car tag that I've been lusting over for a while.
We're off to lunch with friends and then head out the the center where will have dinner, dance and spend the night.
If we're up to it, we may write a new song with our friend Wes tomorrow morning. I'm taking the guitar and laptop just in case. The last time we visited the center several years ago, we wrote three songs in one day which is a record for us.
Y'all have a great day. Hug your honey and celebrate each other. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saws

I finished up work today around 4:30 and since I was already home I had time to do a few things around the house before dark. The wind that came through earlier in the week had blown down a dead pine in the back yard and I hadn't had a chance to cut it up and stack it in the fire pit.
So when I knocked off, I fired up the old Stihl chainsaw and made short work of the cutting. I've had Homelite and McCullough saws and they do pretty good, but my Stihl is an angry little tool.
After that I took the dogs down to the rock for a little exercise. They were soooo happy. Of course Black, the big ol' lab jumped into the pond for a quick swim and walked up the shallow, muddy end. I had to hose him off when he got back in the yard. He is an amusing dog.
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Porch Weather

I'm working from home tomorrow and if the weather is still nice, I'm going to set up my mobile office on the porch and watch the finches as I work.
The only drawback is that Clyde (our Rooster) gets his kicks coming up to the edge of the porch and crowing. The last time I worked from the porch, I was on an outage call. Clyde jumped up on the fence and started crowing. The people on the call thought it was some kind of alarm or ringtone. When I explained that it was the real thing, they couldn't believe it.
I've been giving the porch a lot of thought lately and I think I'm going to glass it in with windows that I can raise in the summertime. In the winter, I can us a small heater out there and it would be comfortable year around.
Anyhow, everyone have a safe Friday 13th and a fabulous Valentine's Day. Be sure and get something special for your honey.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Mystery

I woke up early this morning and got the coffee started while Jilda was still sleeping. I stepped out onto the deck before daylight and looked off toward the south. The wind made it feel like early spring. Clouds out of the southwest were racing across the sky and the waning moon cast shadows on the deck that quickly moved off to the east. I sat out there for a long while as the coffee was brewing and it felt good to be alive.
As I sat there listening to night sounds, a song ran through my head trying to find its way out. I have the melody and images but I've yet to find the thread that holds it together. That's often the hardest part of writing - finding the essence of what it is you want to say. So many words (and songs) have been written that it's hard to find the thread that's not worn thin.
When you hear songs that have withstood the test of time, they all seem to have something in common - the music, the words, or more often both, conspire to find a place deep within your psyche to settle. Maybe it's a function of time and place. Maybe it's the first time you hear the song, your mind is like a fertile garden and the song is the seed that takes root and flourishes.
I think it's a mystery that many songwriters would sell their souls to solve.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Melissa

I had my iPhone set to shuffle today and it must have known I needed a special song. It served up Melissa by the Allman Brothers and it sent me back to 1972. Melissa was one of the first songs the Allmans wrote. What's sad about this song is that Greg's brother Dwayne died tragically in a motorcycle accident a few months before the song was released. I was in Panama then and the PX (Post Exchange) had a great music department so I loaded up on vinyl. "Eat a Peach" was one of those records.
I lived on the top floor of the barracks in a cot by a window with no glass. The screen kept the mosquito's out but the warm tropical breeze off the Pacific blew through at night, and it felt what I imagined Heaven would feel like. I spent my nights lying on that cot and listening to my records through headphones. That music spoke to me on a level that's hard to explain.
February is hard for me. My baby brother who died in 2000, was born on February 15th and my older brother Neil died February 13th 1994. Both were way too young to lose and I've never really gotten over the loss. I've come to understand the pain never goes away.
Today when my trusty iPhone served up Melissa, I could almost smell the ocean and feel the salty air on my skin. Hearing the sound of that slide guitar and the sadness in Greg Allman's voice made me feel that I wasn't alone. He too knows what it's like to lose a brother.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Four Rules

I'm not sure if people actually drive crazier when there's a full moon or if you just notice it more, but I saw wrecks going to and coming from work today. Even yesterday, when we drove over to Steve's house to practice I was tooling down the Interstate and happened to glance several hundred yards up the road and WHAM! Somehow a car got sideways and several cars that were following too closely were all tangled up. A few moments later they were all on their cellphones to their insurance companies. What a mess! I thought quickly and took a fast approaching exit. I then tooled over to Stevo's house the back way.
Wrecks are expensive. I know there's a lot of talk about getting money into the economy, but somehow I don't think spreading it around via lawyers, insurance companies and emergency room visits is the best avenue.
With these four simple rules, I could save you, your insurance company and this country billions of dollars this year alone and reduce the chance of an accident by about 95%.
1. Slow down - especially when it rains
2. Let someone sober drive when you're drinking or stoned
3. Don't tailgate - even if people honk their horns behind you
4. At a Yield sign, never take your eye off the driver in front of you until they pull into traffic
So there. I've said it. Rick's contribution to help with the financial crisis.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wordless

I feel like I've run out of things to say. The recent posts have been quite thin. I think winter has something to do with it. During the other seasons, I spend a great deal of time outside and I'm always doing something. When the weather gets cold, I seem to spend most of my time inside hibernating. Being under the weather hasn't helped either. I've taken cough syrup the last few days and my head now feels like cheese.
One good thing that happens this time of year is the seed catalogs. We get some great garden catalogs and that's a bit of a diversion.
So, again, I'm going to beg off and hope I have a better writing day tomorrw.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Happy Birthday Jordan

Tonight we celebrated our great nephew Jordan's first birthday. His mom had his party at Jasper Park. They have an indoor pool and all the kids swam a while to work up an appetite.
Jordan is at that remarkable age where he is a sponge. He was taking everything in. He loved the water, the decorations, the singing, the fruit and the cake.
The thing he spent most of the time looking at was his big ol' Mickey Mouse balloon. When we sang happy birthday, he smiled back across the table at us all as he was scarfing down some cake.
Happy Birthday Little Buddy.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New Tool

I'm doing my part to help a struggling economy. I bought a new tool. Some folks would call it a toy but I consider it the next logical step in blogging/website design and human fullfilment. It's a really small (and relatively inexpensive) video camera. It's designed to take short video clips and post them online.
I'm using it for short training sessions at work. The nature of break/fix computer problems can be complicated to say the least. You can write a document perfectly but without pictures, words can be obscure and confusing. With a three minute video, almost anyone can see exactly how the repair is done.
Another use I plan to make of the device is to film my buddy Steve playing songs in our performance set. I can then load the video on my computer and practice. Obviously practicing face to face is the best way, but we live over 50 miles away from each other and getting together once a week is difficult. There are times when we are both busy that practice once a month is a luxury. Time will tell if this little device is as useful as I think it will be.
Anyhow, attached is the first short video I did yesterday evening just for kicks. This is the first one so I'll be working out the kinks in the weeks to come

video

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sick Day

I went back to the doctor with the sinus thang and got another shot and more drugs. My head is not stopped up now but feels somewhat like are marshmellow. So, I'm taking a sick day from the blog. Y'all stay warm.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Venting - A Happy Ending

OK, I have some good news. Apparently someone at Acronis is monitoring the web for anything written about their product because someone that works for Acronis read my Venting post today and left me a comment to contact them.
This evening when I got home I sent the info and case number to the gentleman and withing 20 minutes my phone was ringing. The support team walked me through the steps to resolve my problem.
I am now a happy camper. Thanks guys.

Wash Your Hands

It started the day before yesterday with a little harmless sneezing. I'd been working in the barn and chalked it up to barn dust. But then that night, my sinus' seized up and I felt like someone had poured Elmer's glue up my nose while I was sleeping.
When I went in for a routine checkup yesterday, they shot me up with some Decadron I felt better almost immediately. In fact, at ten last night I felt like I had eaten a hand full of diet pills and chased it with a case of Mountain Dew. I was wired, but my sinus' felt great.
This morning I could feel it coming back and by noon, I was miserable. I'm going to fix me a hot toddy before hitting the hay tonight and even if do feel bad, I probably won't care.
Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. That's my thought for the day.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

First Podcast

I've been talking about podcasting for a long while. Tonight, I posted my first podcast. My blog readers will have the first chance to hear the column that will run in this coming Sunday's paper.
I'm open to suggestions.

http://homefolkmedia.com/Podcasts/ValentinesDay.mp3

Venting

I'm having an issue with software support for Acronis Backup software. I bought it back in August and I had a simple question. When I went to their website for help, it asked for my login email address and password. I tried all my email addresses and all the passwords and none of them worked. The site gave me an opportunity to send an email. I sent the email and forwarded a copy of the receipt they sent me when I purchased the software.
In every other instance in the past, this is all that was needed to get my login/password reset. Not so with Acronis. They said they didn't have a record of my email address and to please use the email address I used when I originally ordered the software. I sent a list of all the email addresses I have. None of them were in their database.
I've exchanged a dozen emails with this bunch and I'm no closer today than three weeks ago when I started. I got an email address today that asked me to respond back RESOLVED if my issue had been resolved. You guys know me, I'm easy going...right? Well, I snapped. I fired off a terse email asking to speak to the owner, ceo, manager, HMFIC to give him one last chance to help me resolve my issue. If I don't hear back soon, I'm going to log onto every tech forum I can find and spread the word about this bunch.
........OK, I feel better now that I have vented. Believe me, if I don't hear back soon. I'll let y'all know so you can spread the word about Acronis.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Outliers

I'm listening to a fascinating book now called "Outliers". It's an in depth study of success. I've read self help books in that past that proclaimed to study the habits of successful people, but his book goes much deeper and actually seems to explain things in terms that really make sense.
The author says that success depends not only ability, but also opportunity. He got started down this path while he and his wife were at a Canadian Youth Hockey tournament. His wife made the observation that almost all the the players on both the all-star teams were born in January, February or March. When he looked at the roster which gave the player's birthdays he saw she was correct.
He dug deeply trying to explain why this was so. What he found was the age cutoff date was January 1st. So kids born the first few month of the year had up to nine months head start in maturity and growth over kids born in December. The Canadians are serious about their hockey so they identify the best players early on and they get put into other teams that are more competitive with better coaching. They practice more against stiffer competition which makes them better and better. Practice makes perfect.
Now I just started the book today so I have a lot more to hear before it's over but what I've heard so far has been very interesting.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Some things tick me off

I’m an easygoing guy, and anybody that knows me would testify on my behalf in a court of law. But some things get my goat and I can’t help it.

The people who believe that turn signals are optional, drive me batty. You are both cruising down the road when all of a sudden, they slam on the brakes as if they are about to hit a deer, and then they simply turn off. You have to stand on your brakes, spill coffee in your lap, and swerve to miss the moron. Meanwhile, he’s wondering why he hears screeching tires and someone screaming bad things about his family tree.

While I’m discussing drivers, I would be remiss if I overlooked people who weave in and out of heavy traffic talking on cell phones. They are laughing and having a great time chatting someone up while leaving a wake of near fatalities in their paths. The only thing worse are those who hold a cell phone in one hand and light a cigarette with their other hand. Do these folks not realize that cruise control is not the same thing as autopilot on an airplane?

Oh, here’s one. You sit down for a nice evening meal after having close encounters with the folks mentioned above and your phone rings. It’s a telemarketer with a chipper voice. I know almost everyone has to work to put food on the table, but honestly, I’d rather get my supper from the dumpster at McDonalds than to harangue people when they are trying to eat dinner.

Another thing that galls me is that person at Wal-Mart who burns twelve dollars in gas driving around the lot trying to find a parking place close to the door. If they spy someone about to leave from one of the places, they will sit there for hours waiting until exiting shopper loads their stuff. Meanwhile you are locked in more securely than a crack dealer in county jail. Not only are they burning excess gas, so are you, and the eighteen drivers behind you that are being held hostage. I’m telling you, there are times I would give anything to have one of those Star Trek phaser guns that vaporize things. It would be a lot less crowded at the shallow end of the gene pool.

There are three kinds of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can’t. You probably guessed which category I fall in to, but I do know when I have more than 10 Items in my buggy. You’d be surprised at how many people can’t count. They will buy a month’s worth of groceries and then go through the “10 Items or Less” line.

I come up behind them with a bag of Doritos and some breath mints and I have to wait an eternity before I can pay for my stuff. No wonder my blood pressure is high!

It comes down to simple common courtesy. We share a planet and the things we do often affect others. With a little thoughtfulness, we can make this a better place for everyone.

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