Friday, July 31, 2009

Coffee Shop Gig and Computer Update

Quick update on the computer woes:
Computer 1
Rick 1
I managed to get the new drive to format and I then managed to make a backup of my entire computer on the new drive. Wrong. Apparently, I should have made a Clone of my C: drive which would then have made it bootable. That didn't happen so tonight, I'm going back in armed with the new information. More later on this.
Last night Jilda and I played at Legal Grounds Coffee Shop in Jasper. We had a pretty good crowd. The people that showed up were GREAT!
But I'm beginning to think that Jilda and I are rain gods. Every time we go anywhere near Legal Grounds, it rains. Last night, not only did it rain, but it looked as if a tornado, reminiscent of the 1974 tornado that ravaged downtown Jasper, would drop out of the sky at any moment and blow us to South Carolina. I'm guessing this could have deterred some of the people who intended to come see up play.
Our friend Fred did the sound and I think we sounded as good as we've ever sounded. Jilda was scared, but I think that made her play even better. She will be a real picker very soon. I am soo excited.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Round 1

Round one of the computer match leaves the score:
Computer 1
Rick 0
I'm getting some kind of error during the making of the image that's croak after several. Not only is the backup croaking but the computer gets the black screen of death.
I'm not sure what's going on as I've never seen this problem before.
Jilda and I play at Legal Grounds Coffee Shop tonight so we're getting ready for that. As a result, I'm not fooling with this thing any more this evening because I'd prefer not to get frustrated and breaks my guitar.
So, more later.
Oh yes, if you're out and about, come see us tonight.J Jilda has played guitar here at home and she's played some when we go to parties, but tonight is the first time Jilda has ever played the guitar in front of a crowd. That's like being thrown into the deep part of the river to learn to swim.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Going In

OK, I bought a new 1.5 terabyte hard drive for my computer. It's over ten times the size of my old drive. Not sure if I have a good image of my existing hard drive or not, but we'll see soon enough.
Y'all pray for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Computer Issues

The hard drive on my home computer is acting up. I've gotten several ominous messages lately and in the mornings when I get up, Windows has crashed and the computer is sitting at a blank screen.
So far, when I power cycle it, Windows boots, but it's a matter of time before it won't come back.
I've backed up all my pictures, music and documents, but the software that I use to make an image of my system disk has been getting errors too. So I don't know if I have a good system image or not.
I put "buy a new disk drive" on the list of things I'm really going to do tomorrow. I've got my fingers crossed that it won't be an issue that causes me grief, but time will tell.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heck of a Day

Today has been one heck of a day. The estimate to get ac in Jilda's car fixed almost caused me to have a stroke. The radiator was leaking and the fuel injection had an issue. Heck, I could just about balance the US budget with what this little episode is costing. I'll have to knock off a liquor store just to get Ingrid (the name of the Volvo) out of hock.
I've had several other things hit me today and since I'm trying to relax, I'm not going to rehash them here. I can tell you this, yoga class tonight was a blessing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July Sunset

This had been a great weekend. Normally we have a ton of stuff planned or we have a todo list brimming full of things that it would take several weekends to complete.
But this weekend was a rare "free" weekend.
I read two books, Jilda and I spent several hours preparing for our gig later this week. Will be performing by ourselves this coming Thursday evening at Legal Grounds Coffee Shop in Jasper. Our friend Glen Allen Bobo advertised our appearance on Facebook where he called us the Coon Creek Crooners. We just howled when we read that. We don't actually live in Coon Creek, but we're close enough for the name to fit.
This afternoon we went by our friend Fred's house to practice. He has a great sound system with monitors that you plug into your ears like headphones. We can actually hear how we sound.
On the way home we came upon a July sunset that was so incredible that I had to pull over and shoot a photo.
It's back to work tomorrow. I hope you all have a great week ahead.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Watermelon

We planted watermelons this year and they are coming along nicely but we had one melon that "volunteered" to come up as my grandmother used to say. Which means it grew from a seed that found its way to the garden via the compost.
I throw all non-mean food scraps into the composted and each spring I spread the rich black compost on my garden.
This year a watermelon seed survived and when I spread the compost around the tomatoes, it came up fast a furious.
We've been watching it for a week or two and we decided to try it today. I picked it this morning and this afternoon I spread newspaper on our deck table and cut that baby open.
It was what is known as a sugar baby. Small round melons that are sweet as sugar. It was ripe and it tasted great.
Jilda and I ate half of it sitting there on the deck. Now I can't wait until the others are ready.
The okra is rockin and rollin now too. I cut a basket today. In the morning, we are going to make a soup mix.
During the fall and winter, our homemade soup with a pone of cornbread cannot be beat.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Deer Story

I got home later than usual this evening but things were hectic at work and I didn't get a chance to walk so I decided to take a quick walk before dinner.
All the dogs were excited and were hopping around like kangaroos. As I was about to open the gate, a deer bolted from under the apple tree and headed straight toward the barn. The only dog that saw her was Ol' Buddy and he has the shortest legs of all the dogs. He tore out running as fast as those little legs would carry him. I only wish I had taken my video camera with me and could have shot a video of the episode. I'm sure you all would have gotten a little chuckle.
I checked one of my business bank account and discovered my debit card had been compromised. Almost a hundred dollars had been taken out over the last few days. I called the bank to make sure they cancelled the card. Fortunately, I don't keep much money in that account. Now I have to start all the paperwork to file a complaint and all that stuff.
It's been a long day today so I'm signing off to go eat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The Taco Bell Chihuahua died today. She was one of the most successful ads for Taco Bell. Gidget was 15 years old and died of a stroke.
Our dogs are gettin older too. Ol' Buddy is about six years years old and he's the youngest. The oldest is Blackie aka Bear. He's a mix breed that is part Lab. We know this because every time he gets near water, he takes a swim. Next is Astro who is also some kind of Lab mix. He looks like he's crossed with a Grey Hound. Even though he's aging, he is still fast as lightening. Next is Charlie, who is probably ten years old. It's hard to know how old Taylor is but all her teeth are worn down almost to the gum.
I know the day will come when we will start losing them. That is not a day I look forward to.
RIP Gidget.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Losing Weight

OK, I know I had fun at the expense of my wife Jilda over the fasting attempt, but when I got on the scales this morning I had dropped down to 213 pounds down from 223.
Now I'm not claiming that the lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper mix has caused the weight loss because I've been pushing away from the table and not having seconds. I have also upped my walking to at least 30 minutes a day and most days much more but I think the fasting elixir jump started my metabolism or something because each day I've been dropping a little.
Jilda has lost weight too.
As we get closer to retirement from the day gig, we're putting much more focus on the important things in our lives. What good is retirement if you're sick?
I'll keep you updated on our progress. My goal is to get below 200 pounds. Once there, I'll be at what I consider my ideal weight. Had I done this last year, I wouln't have had to eaten anchovies for New Years.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Legal Grounds Reading

I did a book reading tonight at Legal Grounds Coffee Shop in Jasper. I selected several stories from my book and we also played several songs that were mentioned in the stories.
The crowd was a little thin but there was nasty weather predicted for the evening so I think it kept a lot of folks at home
I've done quite a few readings but I always seem to be a little nervous in the beginning. Once I settled down, I became more comfortable. It was fun.
Legal Grounds is a beautiful coffee shop in downtown Jasper. Yvonne and Glen Allen have turned an old office building into an inviting atmosphere.
New businesses are often hit and miss, but this place is so remarkable. I really hope it hits.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fasting not a quick fix to weight problem

I sometimes multitask. The business definition of this term means to juggle multiple projects/ tasks at the same time. It’s a necessity at work to survive, but I’ve learned I really shouldn’t do it at home.

Case in point: Jilda and I were sitting on the couch reading last week. I was reading “The Missing,” a book by Tim Gautreaux. Jilda was reading an article entitled “Lose Weight, Have More Energy & Be Happier in 10 Days.”

I was engrossed by my book, but who wouldn’t be interested in losing weight, having more energy and being happier?

So, I utilized my multitasking skills to catch a great deal of what she was saying.

Believe me, I could stand to drop a few pounds. In fact, the last photo I saw of myself made me appear as if I were expecting.

She seemed to be saying something about “fasting.” My mind conjured up an image of losing weight while driving at a high rate of speed. I thought to myself, “That’s a diet I can embrace.”

Obviously, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This plan had nothing to do with cars at all. In fact, it has nothing to do with food. You have to go a day without eating at all.

The other pieces of the conversation I caught explained that every two hours you drink a concoction of water with lemon juice, maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper.

“This will boost your metabolism, cleanse your system, and make you feel more energetic,” Jilda read.

“We will also lose weight.” Someone in California lost eight pounds in 48 hours, according to the article.

“That’s nice, why don’t we try it,” I said absently.

That afternoon Jilda mixed up the elixir and we were set to try it the following day.

The fast hit the first snag around 7 a.m. when I got up on Saturday morning to make a pot of coffee.

Jilda called out from the bedroom “We can’t have coffee.”

That threw up an immediate red flag. “WHAT?” “Coffee is not food,” I said. “If we’re going to do this, we can’t drink anything but the lemon juice,” Jilda said. I headed to the office in a huff, to check my e-mail.

The first e-mail in my list was from Whole Foods and it was recipes for some of the best-looking food I have ever seen. I quickly deleted the e-mail.

I think you’re supposed to take it easy when you fast and do things that don’t require a great deal of energy, but we both had a lot to do. So as the day progressed, not only were we tired, but starving too.

The taste of the lemon water with maple syrup tasted pretty good but the cayenne pepper sneaked up on me. It would have gone quite well with a big homemade cheeseburger.

By 10 a.m. my guts started growling like a bear with a toothache and by noon, I was thinking about eating the Styrofoam ice cooler.

I would have given a week’s pay for a stash of those C-rations we used to eat when I was in the Army.

By 5 p.m. I was ill tempered and snippy. I was afraid Jilda would call me a wuss for bailing out, but it seems she was struggling too.

So she rattled some pots and pans and cooked up a pot of purple-hull peas and a pone of cornbread. We washed it down with ice-cold sweet tea. I can’t recall ever having a better meal.

The fast was not a total wash because we both lost a couple pounds. The biggest benefit from the experiment was what I learned — never multitask at home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I think a Sunday without an afternoon nap is a wasted weekend. Jilda and I walked after we had our morning coffee. We spooked a deer that had come up to our apple tree to check on the progress of the fruit. It was a young doe and she was gone in the blink of an eye.
It was a great morning for walking because the temperature was unseasonably mild. In fact, tonight will set a record here in Alabama for the date.
I saw on the weather channel where it's hotter than the hinges of hades out in Arizona near where my friend Grandpappy lives. I'm not naive enough to believe that the hot weather is gone for good because it's not even August yet. I expect there will be days when it will be hot enough to bake biscuits on the walkway of our house.
But I'll take all the gifts Mother Nature sends our way. We opened the doors and windows to let in the fresh air and we took a long afternoon nap.
Life is good.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Day

Today has been a San Francisco kind of day here in Empire. I got up early and worked the garden pulling weeds, and picking peppers, tomatoes, peas, as well as green beans.
I then cut grass which is one of my favorite things to do. I know, I'm twisted and I feel a little like Forrest Gump but I enjoy the work.
This evening we turned on some classical music, poured a couple glasses full of ice tea and we set out on the porch and blissed out.
We're getting ready to head out to Berkly Bob's to play a few tunes. I hope some of you can join us.
Happy Saturday evening.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Berkley Bob's

The Overalls are playing tomorrow night at Berkley Bob's Coffee shop in Cullman. We love this gig.
Bob and the people that frequent the shop are a hoot. It's hard to focus on playing that gig because the aroma of coffee is almost intoxicating. But I love coffee shops. Berkley Bob's is a computer hot spot so students from the Wallace State which is just a few miles down the road often wind up there getting cranked up on java, and surf the Internet.
The are musician friendly too. They frequently have live music with traveling minstrels stopping by to play a song or two. They also have open mic night which gives a lot of folks the opportunity to perform. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not, but the crowd is always kind.
If you are out and about tomorrow evening, please stop by and have a cup of Joe and howdy up with Bob.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jilda's iPhone

Jilda got her new iPhone today. I wasn't sure she would like it. She's not really that into technology but something about the iPhone interested her.
We discussed it and after I ordered it last week, I've been showing her some of the features. She could care less about some of the stuff, but being able to check her email, take pictures and video, carry her favorite music with her was appealing.
It came today but we haven't had a chance to switch her old phone over yet. She sounded really excited when she called today to tell me it came this afternoon.
Hopefully she will enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.
Not much else happening on the home front. We're headed to the funeral home shortly as mother of one of her cousins passed away earlier this week.
Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wildlife Week

It's been a wildlife week here in Empire. First we got new peeps, then our bluebirds hatched out the second bunch of chicks of the spring/summer, the baby sparrows left the nest yesterday and today when I looked out the garden doors toward the barn, we saw a little deer checking out the progress of our apple tree. By the time I grabbed the camera with a telephoto lense, she was gone.
Normally I would have been at work both yesterday and today, but I've been on call this week and worked Monday night and last night so I decided to work from home these last two days and that proved to be fortutious. Had I been at work, I would have missed three of the four sightings mentioned above. It's a gift.
And on the Crazy News Wire:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire - A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars. Josh Muszynski checked his account online a few hours after the purchase and saw the 17-digit number — a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500.

I had heard cigarettes were going up, but this has to make a lot of folks stop smoking :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Flew the Coop

In my column in the paper this last week I wrote about the sparrow who built a nest on our screened porch. We saw her several weeks ago one morning while drinking our coffee.
I thought she had somehow flown in through the door which we often leave partially open, and she could not find her way out.
When I stood to open the door to let her out, she dropped to the floor and scooted out a small rip in the screen that I haven't repaired yet.
I thought to myself, she didn't just discover that little opening, so I began to look around the porch. When I looked up on the rack where I store my fly rods, there is a little wicker basket that Jilda had hung there. Out from the edges of the basket I could see bits of straw.
I pulled up a chair to have a look and made a tweeting sound. When I did, tiny heads poked out.
I worked from home today and I always spend the
mornings working from the porch. This morning I heard fluttering sounds and the fussing sound of the mama sparrow. When I looked over, the baby sparrows had left the nest for the first time.
One flew to the floor in the back corner. Ol Buddy spied it and went in for a snack. I snagged him by the collar just in time to overt an aviary catastrophe. After putting him inside (he was not a happy pup) the tiny creature flew to the screen and scooted out the slit at the bottom.
Another one followed close behind.
A third one freaked and tried to fly through the screen. No matter how hard I coaxed, it would not go to the door or to the opening where to other two siblings escaped. I reached up and gently captured the little bugger in the palm of my hands and set it free out the door. If flapped for all it was worth and joined up with the rest of the fam.
The attached photo is not that good but hopefully you can see the baby sparrow.
What a gift.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Peeps on the Block

We have new peeps. I've tried to get pictures but the mama hen is so protective. Each time I get close enough for a photo, she clucks the little ones under a bush or some other cover.
One time when I persisted, she came racing out from under a shrub to flog me and all the dogs that happened to be nearby.
I've been flogged many times so I knew what was coming but the dogs were ill prepared and she sent them scurrying in all directions.
I know there are some dogs that would simply turn on her and eat her like a biscuit, but most of my dogs are older and for the most part they are wussy's.
I've counted seven, so far. Two black ones, two brown ones and three yellow/white ones. They are about two inches tall and weigh about the same as a hummingbird.
The one picture I did manage to get is fuzzy but it's the best I've been able to do so far. Hopefully in the next day or so I can get a decent picture of the little tike's. We don't plan on keeping them all so anyone out there who'd like to own a cute Watson chick, just let me know.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


We got rain this evening and it was a wonderful thing to behold. It's been hot here in Empire for the last week. Today the humidity began to build and I knew rain would not be too far behind.
We invited my nephew James and his family over to eat hot dogs and homemade ice cream. The middle child, Breeze loves blowing bubbles and she wanted to go on the deck and blow some.
She went out for a few minutes, but then I heard rain rattling on the roof and we had to shoo her inside. She was not happy.
I looked out the door to the garden and it seemed to be rejoicing. This evening after the rain stopped, I walked down to survey things and it looked like the okra had grown. I expect to see blooms this week and hopefully we'll be eating fried okra by the weekend.
Have a great week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


If you remember my New Year's resolutions from last year, one of my goals was to lose weight. I've read a great deal about goal setting and one technique is to create reprocussions in the event you don't meet your goals. I decided to give this technique a try. At the first of this year, since I did not meet my goal to lose weight, I ate anchovies. I HATE ANCHOVIES.
So I learned that the reprocussion technique didn't work for me so this year, I made a non-public goal to lose weight.
I've been walking and getting more exercise this year and I've really raised the bar the last month or so.
When I got on the scales today, I weigh less that I've weighed in years. I still have a way to go, but at least I feel I'm headed in the right direction.
I really want to retire from my day job. So, to that end, we're working hard getting all needed repairs and improvements to our home. I also want to get to a more healthy weight because what good is retirement if you're sick.

Friday, July 10, 2009

June Bugs

I went down to gather the last of the blackberries this evening. The berries on the top of the bush are already turning brown and dying and one might be tricked into thinking that there were no more good berries to be had. Being a blackberry picker from waaaay back, I knew that the biggest and sweetest of the season are in the bottom, shady part of the bush.
Apparently June bugs are hip to this fact too because as I reached for a particularly plump cluster, a big ol' honkin June bug was squatting on one of the berries.
I shooed him away and picked the cluster and moved to another one. On this bunch was several bugs. I conjured up my Moses voice and said flee you vermin or I shall smite thee.
The June bugs either didn't fathom the gravity of the Old Testament language or they simply thought they could take me out staff and all, because they didn't budge.
When I thumped one, it didn't fly away as I expected but flew straight toward my head. I dodged and it headed for my ear. It felt like it was as big as a hummingbird.
Now having a June bug on a string when you are ten years old (as I often did in the summer) is one thing, but at fifty-eight, having one fly into your ear canal and perhaps eating out some things in there that you could need later, is a totally different matter.
I backed away from the angry bugs and looked for other clumps down the path. I decided that there was enough to share. That's probably all the bug wanted to convey to me. Anyhow, I got plenty of berries for another cobbler.
I'm so excited.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Back to the basics

Reading the book on Shop Class saved me some money already. I'm good with my hands but for some reason, I've never felt totally comfortable working on lawnmower engines.
Often I simply load them on the truck and haul them to a repair shop and a hefty bill later, they work like a charm.
I have a push mower, which I only use occasionally, that wouldn't crank the last time I needed it.
I'd made up my mind that I needed to run it out to my repair shop this coming Saturday.
But after reading the book about the nature of repair work, I poured me a cold glass of ice tea, put on my coveralls, and went to my tool shed.
The mower would crank and run about three seconds if you sprayed starting fluid in the carburetor. It would then die and not hit a lick until you sprayed more fluid.
Internal combustion engines look complicated but if you break them down into their simplest form, they need gas, fire and air to run.
My lawn mower was obviously getting air and fire because it would start, it just wouldn't run for long. That left GAS.
I had put a little gas in the tank to get started but I noticed a little trickle falling on the frame from beneath the tank. BINGO I thought, the gas line has a small break in it. When I checked, sure enough, the line was dry rotted in places.
I scrounged around the shed and found a new piece of hose and clamped that baby on. I had a smug look on my face.
When I pulled the crank cord, it wouldn't fire off. I sprayed a little fluid in carb and pulled again. I ran for three seconds and died.
My heart sank, but I was not defeated. I check the choke, and the other links to the carb but everything looked in order.
I felt under the carb and there was a drain plug. I grabbed a socket wrench and twisted it loose. When the plug came out, about half of what drained out was water.
I decided to remove the carb and look inside. Once off, I cleaned some trash out and then sprayed the internal workings with WD-40 to make sure ever thing moved as it should.
When I put it all back together, I squirted a little fluid in the carb and pulled the cord. It ran for three seconds and then almost died....then it sputtered a little and sprang to life.
You would have thought I won the lottery. I did a little shade-tree mechanic dance right there in the yard.
I know there are a lot of mechanical things that are outside my realm of expertise. Jilda's Volvo, for example. Each time it needs maintenance, I have two choices - I can either take it to the Volvo repair shop or I can work on it myself and sleep in the tool shed for a month. On this, I acquiesce. But most everything else is fair game.
I sense a "back to the basics" movement in the air. I talked to a lady at work who has lived in a high dollar section of town for years. Today, she said that her family was selling their home and downsizing. "We're looking for something where I can have a garden," she said.
This is a theme I'm hearing more and more. Hard times tend to do that. People take stock and look at what's really important.
Being handy is a good skill that goes hand and hand with the "back to the basics" movement.
I believe it is a noble pursuit.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Couch

We had our hearts set on eating lunch at Niki's Restaurant in Birmingham today. Jilda had an eye appointment at 10 and we walked around the Galleria for a while so that we could synchronize our arrival at Niki's with lunchtime.
We walked into Macy's to look at juicers. As we walked out Jilda say a red couch out of the corner of her eye. We've been looking for a couch. When we sat, we both almost dozed off.
When we looked at the price tag it was a good bit more than we wanted to spend. The sales lady said "we have a great sale that starts Friday." When she looked up the sale price it was 40% off which put it exactly in the range we had set for the purchase. She put our name on it so this Friday, we'll be the owners of a new piece of furniture.
I thought I'd get away with just buying the couch, but now Jilda is talking about painting the living room.
Not sure what I got myself in to here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I went into Lowe's this evening to buy a water filter for the kitchen. A quick in and out, right?
No, I found myself walking up and down the isles and fighting the urge to buy one of everything between row three and row eight.
I found myself smiling. The experience gave me an idea for my next column. I'll post it here when it's finished.
I'm a little whupped this evening so I'm calling it an evening.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Something to Think About

I'm listening to an interesting book now. It's a book entitled "Shop Class as Soulcraft." The theme of the book is one that gets at the heart of work. The nature of work has changed drastically in recent years. Most noticeably since the proliferation of the Internet.
For years, kids have been pushed to college and knowledge based jobs such as computer programming, accounting, radiology and other fields. This shifted kids away from skill based jobs. In fact, most of the high school shop classes around the country have simply shut down.
The effect of this shift is that there are generations of kids now who have not learned to work with their hands. As a result, they don't know hot to fix things.
To make matters, worse, companies are now "off shoring" the knowledge base jobs to India, China, the Philippines and to South America where labor is much cheaper. We are losing high paying white collar jobs at an alarming rate.
The author of Shop Class puts forth the idea that we may be better off focusing on skilled labor that can't be done over the Internet.
Architect designs can be done over the Internet, building the buildings can't.
It definitely gives one something to think about.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hotter Than a Firecracker

We played at the Monkey Basket in Old Towne Helena last night. We started a 7 p.m. and the sun had not yet set in the west. In fact it had been baking the cement slab on which we would be playing, ALL DAY LONG.
They set up a tent in case the rain came in early and this trapped the heat drifting up from the slab. I felt like I was in a really efficient convection oven.
But the Overalls are troopers so we played on. There weren't that many people at first, but as the sun set behind the western horizon and it got closer to the time for fireworks, the streets were packed.
We finished up our show just before the fireworks show which began at 9 p.m. We played one of my favorite folk songs of all time - This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthry. I love that song and apparently the crowd did too because even over the sound system, you could hear hundreds of people singing:

It was a fun show even thought it was hotter than a firecracker.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July

We're laying low today resting up for the gig this evening in Helena. It's a good bet that it will be warm, but by 7 p.m. we're hoping the temps have dropped enough to keep the asphalt from boiling. Last time we played there was a tent that kept the sun at bay so although we sweat profusely, we didn't melt like snail on a salt block.
We won't have a chance to do homemade ice cream today, but we're inviting a few folks over tomorrow and we'll whip up a batch then. I can't wait.
Y'all have a great 4th of July

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy 4th of July - a day early

When I was considering topics for this Fourth of July column, I was coming up with a blank. I thought about the flag, the parades, the firecrackers, and the weather, which is usually hotter than the devil’s blow dryer.

Then my wife Jilda asked what my favorite thing was about the Fourth of July when I was growing up. That was easy! Homemade ice cream.

When I was a kid, my family spent holidays at the home of one of our aunts. We had more aunts than holidays so each year we rotated the Forth of July celebration between Aunt Edith and Aunt Nanny’s.

The food at these celebrations was always “off the charts”. Turkey with dressing, ham, fresh corn on the cob, fried squash, okra, tomatoes, and every other country vegetable you can imagine.

When it came to deserts, none of my mama’s sisters were slouches. They always tried to out do each other with cakes, pies, puddings, cobblers, and brownies. I had cousins that would poke you in the eye with a sharp stick to get the last piece of Aunt Edna’s red velvet cake.

The drill was the same every year. About an hour before lunchtime, the grownups would assemble a cadre of kids to man the ice cream freezers. We always had the obvious flavors, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry but we also had banana, peach, pecan, and lime sherbet.

My favorite was the black walnut that my mama made. I had equity in this batch of ice cream because I had to crack the nuts. Cracking pecans is a piece of cake, but a black walnut has an outer skin as thick as a coconut and the only way to get at the goodie is with a hammer. By the time I got enough walnuts for a decent batch of ice cream, I’d beat the thumbs and fingers off both hands.

So naturally, I was partial to the black walnut ice cream on the “Fourth”.

This year, Jilda and I decided to buy our own ice cream freezer. When we got to shopping around for a decent model, we discovered that they cost just slightly less than a Honda Civic.

I always thought using an electric ice cream freezer was kind of like cheating so we decided on a White Mountain hand crank model. I was working when Jilda called the salesman to say we wanted the hand crank model. He asked if we had kids and when she told him no, he convinced her to go with the electric model. “Tell him if he doesn’t like the electric, you can return it and I’ll send the hand crank model at no extra charge. Cranking a freezer is fun when you a kid, but it’s not nearly as much fun when you get a little older.” Looking back, I’m glad we listened.

We made our first batch of vanilla ice cream this past weekend. We don’t eat a lot of sweets, so when we do, we use the good stuff. No low fat, artificial sweetener for us.

When we uncapped that canister and dipped a spoonful into our mouth, all I could say was Yam-jouir. This is a hybrid American-French word I made up which means “really good!” I almost did an ice cream dance right there on the deck.

So this Fourth of July, we’ll be celebrating with all the usual cuisine, but you can bet your firecracker we’ll whip up a batch of homemade ice cream.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

You Can't Hit What You Can't See

I stopped by Whole Foods this evening to pick up a couple bags of flax seed meal. As I left the store I looked up at the sky. Big clouds as white and fluffy as the stuffing from an aspirin bottle. This set against a backdrop of blue sky. I literally stopped in my tracks to take it all in.
I can't remember the last time I've taken time to drink in the natural beauty of the sky.
What in my life has become so important that I can't take a little time to sooth the soul?
I can tell you this - if you don't get your priorities straight and determine how to spend your time, someone else will set your priorities for you.
I'm off tomorrow so I want to spend some quality time in the garden before the sun gets too hot. I need to mulch around the tomatoes, watermelons, and the cantaloupe. I also need to plant a few more hills of squash and maybe a few cucumbers.
I'm spending more time envisioning my life after AT&T. I could get used to this farmer, writer, musician, ar-teast role.
You can't hit what you can't see.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Short Week

Thank goodness this will be a short week at work. We are off Friday to celebrate the 4th of July which actually falls on Saturday this year. I've played catchup all week after being on vacation last week.
The Overalls are playing in Old Towne Helena before the fireworks show on Saturday. I'm guessing it will be another warm one, but we don't start playing until 7 p.m. which hopefully will provide some relief. If you're out and about, please drop by to see us. We'll be near the "Monkey Basket" gift shop on main street.
Steve is headed over to practice tonight so this post will be a short one. Have a great Wednesday.

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