Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tattoo ~ Inspired by my lovely spouse's update tonight

My lovely spouse sat down with her laptop and whipped out her entry tonight while I was tapping keys. She's talked about getting a tattoo for years, but for one reason or another, she never got one.
She drew a line in the sand and will get a lotus flower tattoo when we complete our singer/songwriter cd later this year.
I, on the other hand, got a tattoo when I was about twenty. I was in the Army in Panama at the time. It was a holiday weekend and a bunch of us guys were all sitting around the barracks knocking back a few brews when someone said, "Hey, I've got a great idea - let's all go get a tattoo!"
That sounded like a splendid idea to everyone so we hopped on a chiva bus (converted antique panel trucks with no windows; operated by Panamanians).
Once in Panama City, I volunteered to go first. I've heard people say that getting tattoos didn't hurt, but if they would lie about that, they would lie about most anything. Mine hurt like crazy. Even all the Balboa beer didn't dull the pain. I actually think my shoulder smoked as the tattoo artist laid down the design.
All the guys gathered around and watched. Not sure if it was the smoke, or the guttural whining sound I was making during the procedure, but everyone else sobered up, and I was the only one that went back with permanent artwork on my shoulder.
I've heard that tattoo artists have come a long way and that it REALLY doesn't hurt much these days. That may be true, but we'll know soon enough when the spousal unit gets hers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jilda and I drove into town one day last week. We were running a little late for an appointment, but made good time until we hit the Birmingham city limits at which point traffic came to a screeching halt. It seems there was a wreck off the side of the road, and everyone had to stop, have a look, and then move on. I changed lanes a few times, but each new lane seemed to move slower than the old one. 
I finally picked a lane and crawled through town, arriving at our appointment thirty minutes late. During the snail race, I had time to reflect.
When I was "jobbed" I drove into town daily. It was not uncommon to be stuck in traffic for forty five minutes or longer. I thought to myself during our latest mission, "I really miss this." 
I miss traffic jams almost as much as I miss mind numbing conference call, petty office politics, and paying a premium price for mediocre food at the company cafeteria.
The thing is, since I've been away from the corporate world, I haven't gritted my teeth one time. I haven't been awakened late at night by people upset because their computers are broken.
I do miss my friends at work. I still stay in touch and each time I talk to them while they are working, I can hear the stress and frustration in their voices. 
I feel their pain because it was not that long ago, I was in their shoes.
I am thankful that things worked out the way they did. I got to leave the company on my terms. My future is up to me and the Good Lord.  
It is my intention to heed the advice of Robert Frost and take the road less traveled by.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun on Sunday Morning

I lay in bed this morning and listened to the rain ticking on the metal roof. I little wave of satisfaction drifted across my mind. After all, it was the soothing sound of raindrops gently tapping the tin like a steel drum, that was the deciding factor between metal and shingles.
I eased out of bed, poured a cup of steaming coffee, and headed out to the screen porch.
We have Adirondack beach chairs with flat armrests as wide as boat paddles. I placed my coffee down, laid my head back and blissed out.
While I sat there, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  We have a deer that frequently comes up and eats bird seed out of our feeders and drinks from our fountain, so I thought it was probably her. 
I slowly turned my head and I saw three deer instead of one. It was a mama deer with two spotted fawns that were smaller than most of our dogs. 
They didn't notice me on the porch and they put on a show. It looked like the two baby deer were playing tag. They dodged, jumped and bucked like rodeo horses. 
The mama deer got in on the fun and showed the youngun's a few maneuverer's.  Apparently they were enjoying the rain too.
It rained on and off for most of the day which was a gift. The temps have moderated a little but it has been many days without rain and the ground was getting harder than cold grits.
My only regret this morning is that I didn't have my video camera to capture the frolicking wildlife. I think you would have enjoyed the show too.
 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still Learning

I've come to realize the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know diddly! As I mentioned before, I've been writing daily since December 2nd 2005. 
I know my writing has improved through the years, but when I read the words of some other writers, I'm  simply blown away.
I'm currently listening to an audio book by Sol Stein and the subject is how to improve your writing. I've actually read a ton of how to books all of which had some good things to offer. But this book, so far, has been incredible. So good in fact, that I ordered a hardback copy to use as reference.
He does a chapter on improving pace by doing away with unnecessary adverbs. He took examples from successful authors and pointed out places where they could have improved their writing. When he read the edited versions, the sentences were more powerful.
He also recommended a book entitled The History of the Senses, which I also ordered. It came yesterday and I've already picked up new ways of describing the things I see, hear, touch, smell and feel.
I'm excited. Hopefully you will see steady improvement in my writing style in the future.
Y'all have a great weekend.



Friday, August 27, 2010

What It's Worth

Our pear tree had no pears last year. I'm not sure if it was a late frost, and early spring wind, or sunspots, but we had no pears - ZERO - nada.
This year however, the limbs are bowing with fruit. I've watched them for weeks, picking and testing a pear now and then to try and determine when they would be ripe.
I kept my great nephew Jordan yesterday and each time we walked by the tree, his eyes drifted up to the fruit.
When we finished up at the barn and headed back for lunch, I asked him if he liked pears. He shrugged his shoulders - "me don't know," he said. I found a juicy looking pear about the size of a softball and held Jordan up to let him pick it.
He carried it as gently as an egg. When we got inside, I washed, peeled and sliced it into small chunks and sat back to watch.
He took a small piece and tentatively put it in his mouth. But it was soon obvious that he loved the pear. He said "dis is good uncle Wick!" He hasn't perfected "R's" yet. He ate two more before he went home in the late afternoon.
I've had people tell me that it's cheaper to buy fruit at Wal-Mart than to buy trees, and care for them year after year. That may be true in strictly economical terms, but I think there's more involved here than a sack of pears or apples.
I know where my fruit comes from. I know what is in the soil and air around my trees. I know what they eat and I know what tries to eat them.
I also believe that when you help a child understand where food comes from, it can help him with life skills that a lot of kids never learn. No calculator I've ever seen can figure out what that's worth?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kickoff

For all the folks who have been following my blog since it started back in 2005 know that it was a part of the natural evolution of the www.dorahighschool.com alumni website.
For years I used the website as my blog and place to display photographs. I also shoot the Dora Bulldog football games when they are close by. 
When I looked into blogging, I found that Blogger was easy and free. It also had a feature that allowed people who had never heard of Dora High School to stumble upon my blog.
As it turns out,  I now have more readers from around the world than local readers.  My book Remembering Big grew out of  the blog.
But, to my readers who are not local, tonight is the first night of football season here and I'm headed over to a local school to shoot a few pictures.
Jilda worked today and she's whupped so I'll be flying solo tonight.  If it's not to late, I'll post another entry when I get home.
Go Dawgs!!!
P.S. The link to photos that I shot are here: http://www.dorahighschool.com/sports/2010/DoraCordova/index.htm

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bon Appetite


My chickens love me, and here's part of the reason why. Yesterday when Jilda and I walked, my mind was somewhere else, which is contrary to my intention of being "in the now".
I heard her exclaim, "What is THAT!" When I turned, she was pointing to our young pecan tree. I took a closer look and saw hundreds of catawba worms on one limb and they had munched all the leaves off the limb.
Thank goodness they were concentrated on one limb and hadn't migrated to the rest of the tree. I hustled up to the shed and got the snippers, whacked off the limb and tossed it into the chicken pen worms and all.
The chickens, ever interested in all wiggling things gathered around the limb. I continued on our walk.
When we finished, I walked back by the pen to see what was shaking. I saw right off that it was not catawba  worms. The chickens ran to the gate expectantly as if to say, "what's the next course daddy?"
Some folks would have used some gosh-awful spray to rid themselves of the worms, but the chickens would have missed a marvelous meal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking About Sweater

When we walked this morning, it was at least fifteen degrees cooler than yesterday. You could tell that without looking at a thermometer or consulting the Weather Channel. 
The windows, which for the past six weeks have been covered each morning with a thick mist, were clear as a crystal glass.
It won't be long until the leaves begin to turn and before we know it, autumn will be here. I love hot weather, but I must say six weeks of above average temps has made outside exercise and work difficult. 
I look forward to being able to wear a sweater. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bare Feet - My column from yesterday's paper

When I was a kid growing up in Sloss Hollow, the bottoms of my feet were tougher than the soles of most store-bought shoes. 

That’s because from the middle of May to Labor Day, I never wore shoes unless I went to church or somewhere else where shoes were required, which was rare.

Even when the days got hotter than the devil’s welding torch, and the August sun baked tar bubbles from between the gravel on the paved road, I didn’t wear shoes.

There were times I had to scrape tar off the bottoms of my feet with kerosene and a stick. 

My feet could get really dirty during the day, but they had to be fairly clean before going to bed at night. 

Trying to slip into the sack with dirty feet was useless because my mama had laser scanning capabilities back then. She could be ironing a pair of dungarees in the kitchen and spot a dirty foot headed toward the bedroom, using only the dim light from our old Philco black and white TV set. 

Mama had an old photograph in her picture box that was taken with her trusty Kodak camera. It was a picture of a bunch of kids in front of the house. 

When you looked closely at the picture, you could tell which kids were from up north visiting Alabama for the summer, because they all had on shoes.

The hillbilly kids would poke fun at their Yankee cousins until they shed their shoes and toughened up their feet.

By the time they went home at the end of summer, they had to be reminded to take their shoes with them.

The only tennis shoes I’d ever heard of were Keds, and Converse All Stars, but I didn’t own a pair until I went to high school and needed them for gym class.

A lot of folks said you can run faster and jump higher in tennis shoes, but I never bought into that malarkey. I felt like I could outrun the wind in my bare feet.

The beauty of being barefoot was that you didn’t have to waste time sitting down, untying shoes when you came to a creek. If you were barefoot, you could walk right into the water without breaking stride. Bare feet felt like freedom to me. 

Fast forward to now — since I’ve been without employment, I’ve spent a lot more time barefooted. It still feels great most of the time, but when I walk on anything other than grass, I do this little dance step that looks like a cross between a Native American rain dance and a drunk, doing the Monster Mash dance that was so popular back in the day.

It seems like I’m more connected to the earth when I don’t wear shoes.

Walking in a freshly plowed garden feels especially good to me. You can tell a great deal about the soil when you’re bare footed. You can tell if the moisture content is right, you can tell if the soil has too much or too little clay, or if you need to run over the plot one more time with the tiller.

Of course, you can buy soil test kits that would probably be more accurate, but you’d lose that connection to the earth. 

Some might say I’m a little too old to go shoeless and that I might look a little goofy when I walk on rough surfaces, but this is a small price to pay for that feeling of freedom.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Stump

There is a stump that's almost three feet in diameter just off our back deck. A giant sweet gum tree once stood there. Each fall it dropped what seemed like millions of Tootsie Pop sized seed pods around the base of the tree. The balls have sharp spines jutting out which makes them the closest thing the tree family has to a porcupine. They cause havoc with lawnmowers and bare feet.
We became concerned last year when a strong thunder storm blew the top out of the tree and it barely missed falling on the roof.
We made the decision to cut the tree down before if fell on the house. As it turns out, this happened to be a perfect spot to place the BBQ grill I bought earlier in the summer. I love it when things work out well.
The stump serves as a utility table for the grill. I can set plates on it, vegetables that are awaiting their grill time, and as I learned yesterday, it's a perfect prop for shooting a picture of a glass of red wine highlighted by the setting sun.
It's been too hot to grill for the last month, but Jilda and I were craving a little steak, so I fired that baby up.  
As I sat waiting for the steaks to cook, the sun slowly dropped low enough for this photograph. I used a screen filter to add a little interest and this is the result.
Oh yes, the steaks were very good too!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Music and Pictures - See the next post for the slideshow

I love slideshows. I've done them for as long as I can remember. I started back when I shot pictures with my Canon F1 film camera. I shot thousands of slides and I spent hours pouring through the best photographs. I then considered all the music in my album collection for the best piece of music to go with the pictures I'd selected.
Back then, the only people that saw the slideshows were personal friends who came to our house.
We'd gather in the living room, turn out the lights, and fire up my two slide projectors and a lamp dissolve machine that synchronized the music and the slides.
These days, the technology is so incredible that you can do in a matter of minutes what it took days to do before.
The show I just posted is a collection of photos I shot with my iPhone. I used a piece of music  by Anja Lechner from her CD Chants, Hymns and Dances. I didn't get permission to use the music, but I did send her an email asking for permission. Obviously if she doesn't want me to, I'll take the slideshow down immediately. Either way, if you need some beautiful music to get your day started out right, check out Anja's work.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
September 15th update: I got an email back from Anja Lechner's record label saying to remove the music from the slideshow. I immediately complied.
They said they don't approve the use of their music "as a matter of principle". I hear what they are saying. I'm a songwriter too, and I wouldn't want my music used if it wasn't helping me in some way.
I had about a dozen people ask me about this music. I'm not sure, but I would not be surprised if some of them had purchased the cd or songs from this project.
At any rate, the slideshow is not available until I write a piece of music to go with it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Great Blue Heron

My buddies couldn't get away to fish today so I went alone. I got there after daylight and as always the mist hovered over the water.
I sat on the riverbank and tied a fly on my line before wading in.  I think what I like most about fly fishing is that it's almost Zen like. You have to be "in the now" when you fly fish because when your mind wanders, you tend to get your line tangled into a ball and you can easily spend more time untangling than you do fishing.
The trout didn't find my first fly appealing so I sat down on a huge rock in the river and began looking through my box for another.
I looked down steam and saw this Great Blue Heron standing in the water. He seemed to look at me as if he owned the place and was questioning why I was in his space.
Once the new fly was tied onto my line, I snagged my first rainbow trout of the day.
I reeled him in and released him.
I glanced back at the heron and he was still standing there. I had the feeling he was saying "you got lucky, rookie!"
I found my rhythm and I lost all concept of time. All of a sudden I heard splashing and when I turned to look, the Great Blue and caught a trout bigger than the one I caught, but he doesn't subscribe to the catch and release philosophy.
I stayed for a while longer and caught two more nice fish and released them as well. The Great Blue apparently was disgusted because he lifted off and headed down river in search of better company.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Babysitting

I feel like I've been rode hard, spurred deep, and put up wet. I did babysitting duty today for my great nephew Jordan.
Now he is really easy because he is a very intelligent and well behaved kid that does what I ask him to do.
But on my watch, he gets my undivided attention. I don't check email, I don't watch TV, I don't take naps , I don't do chores. I watch the kid.
I'm grateful that the weather moderated today because we spent most of the time outside. I ran by the dollar store yesterday and bought up a bunch of outdoor toys. So today we played wiffle ball, blew millions of bubbles, walked to the barn, fed the chickens, fed the deer, and watered every plant in the county.
He noticed that one of the bluebird houses was coming apart and was concerned. I said, why don't we fix it!
He was all for it. So I got the tools out, which included a battery powered screw driver/drill. I held him up so that he could remove the screws holding the birdhouse to the tree. I then helped him unscrew the door and bottom of the house. While I was looking for new hardware to make the repairs, he commandeered the screw driver and tried to drill everything in sight.
When we got new, longer screws in the birdhouse and it was sound again, I held him up and let him reattach it to the tree. "Now Nen" he said with a look of satisfaction on his face.
His grandpa had gotten home just after lunch but we were still working on the birdhouse and Jordan is not the kind of kid to leave a project undone so he wanted to stay.
After the birdhouse job, He found the wheelbarrow and pushed it around for two hours until he was exhausted.
When we went inside for a water break, he decided to go on home.  I talked to his grandpa a short time later and Jordan was sound asleep.
Watching kids is hard work, but it's fun. I hope that when he is older, his has fond memories of the time we spend together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Moon

I tapped keys for awhile, so I walked out on the deck to look at the sky. The moon is about 3/4 full tonight and the clouds racing from the west make the sky look like something straight out of a Vincent Price movie. 
I stood for awhile listening for the howl of a wolf, but all I heard was a dog barking off in the distance.
What is it about the moon that is so attractive. I mean, after all, it's just a big round rock floating in space about a quarter of a million miles away, ambling around the earth once a month. 
We all know the moon affects the tides, and some say more babies are born during a full moon than any other time of month, but I'm not sure that's actually true. 
I do know that sitting outside with someone you love on a night when the sky is clear and the moon is full, there is something going on that you can't measure with any scientific accuracy.
I also know this - my head was devoid of ideas until I walked outside, breathed in the warm humid air, and looked skyward at the moon. 

A little Slide Show of Jilda and me along with some family and friends

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicken Trouble

Chickens are not smart creatures. The four I have left are from the batch of twelve we bought in May (or was it June?). As you may recall, raccoons feasted on the other eight. 
Normally you have some older chickens that can show the younger birds the ropes, but these kids have been on their own.
When I pour food in their three feeders, they all scramble and jockey for the same feeder. They jump in with both feet and soon all the feed is out on the ground and they repeat the process until the feed is sufficiently scattered.
Then at night, instead of roosting on the nice little roost I built for them, they roost on top of the nesting boxes. Not sure what's up with that or what will happen when they actually start laying.
I can hear the hens now "Wow! What a mess! What were we thinking roosting up there. Somebody get a hosepipe and clean this mess up!"
Anyhow, the rooster tries to crow each morning, but he sounds a little sad. I guess when he reaches puberty, that will all change and he'll be looking at the hens in new and interesting ways.
More later.

Nothing but Net from Alabama Adventure Ride

Monday, August 16, 2010

iPhone Fun

I had some iPhone fun with the new blazing star flower on our back porch. It's a beautiful red flower that takes its sweet time to bloom, but when it does, it is stunning.
The first one of the summer bloomed out this morning and It was so vivid, I thought I'd see what my new iPhone photo apps could do with it.
I think it looks cool, but Jilda dog cussed me for jerking Mother Nature's creations around :)
I tried for this effect when I first started processing my own pictures.
I had a black and white darkroom and I learned to print photographs when I worked for the weekly paper back in the seventies, but printing color in a small darkroom was much more difficult.
I tried for this stark coloring by running slide film through the negative film chemicals. The results were interesting but VERY time consuming and expensive.
These days in a matter of seconds you can get really cool effects.
Have a great week, and try to have some fun.

Quick Fixes Don't Work - My Column in yesterday's paper

WARNING: The following may step on some toes. 

We have become a "quick-fix" society. Some of the best selling books in bookstores have titles like: "How to Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Minutes"; or "Make a Million Dollars While You Sleep"; or "How to Look, Feel and Be Younger While Eating Fried Chicken and Watching Football on TV."

One day it dawns on us that we've gained too much weight, or maybe our joints squeak when we stand, and we want it fixed -- NOW!

But there is a problem with this quick-fix philosophy -- it doesn't work. 

Our bodies begin to deteriorate naturally with age. This process speeds up when we don't care for our ourselves. 

Some book publishers might say this is blasphemy, but we don't get fat, broke, or stove up overnight.

And there are no magic pills, diets, or get-rich-quick schemes to fix these conditions quickly. 

Oh sure, when you're hurting you can take pills that will mask the aches and pains, but you sometimes drool on your pillow when you sleep, and the problems remain.

What's sad is a lot of people get hooked on pain medicine, and their lives often begin a downward spiral. 

You don't believe me? Take a look at the number of people entering drug rehab, or worse, look in the obits in the local paper. An alarming number of people are dying too young. 

When it comes to back and joint issues, there are some people who are candidates for surgery, but according to several folks who have gone under the knife, that's no picnic and positive results are not guaranteed. 

I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of people out there like me, who would feel much better by changing their lifestyle.

These days, Jilda and I get up a few minutes early each morning and take a brisk walk. Believe me some mornings that's tough. But after we get out in the fresh air and start to move, something remarkable happens. The aches and pains diminish dramatically. 

A simple yoga routine can also be very effective in reducing knee, back and hip pain.

Exercise does a couple of things. It brings blood flow to those aching areas and it helps to keep the pounds off our backsides.

If you were to buy a brand new car, park it out in the weather and never drive it, after a few years, it would become rusty and undrivable. But if your drive it right, and care for it, chances are it will last for years. 

These days, a lot of people treat their cars better than they treat themselves. That's evident by the recent findings that Alabama is one of the biggest states in the country. I'm not talking land mass here but the size of our rear ends.

The reasons seem clear to me. We're getting too much junk food and too little exercise. 

In years past, we bought into the fallacy that fast food helped us cope with busy schedules because it was cheap, you could get it quickly, and eat it on the run. 

The truth is, fast food is neither fast nor cheap anymore. Especially when you factor in the long term healthcare costs resulting from years of bad habits. Disclaimer here: there are some fast food places that have healthy menus, but most of them don't.

What's troubling is we are passing these bad habits on to our children. Instead of feeding our kids fresh fruits and vegetables, we're stopping off on the way home and getting pizza.

Too many of us are letting the TV and computer do our babysitting for us. The combination of a sedentary lifestyle and too much junk food will make us sick.

Jim Rohn, who is an excellent self-help author and speaker puts it this way: "Over time, a few good habits, repeated daily, can make you successful. A few bad habits, repeated daily, can make you a failure."

I think the key words are, "over time". This means there are no quick fixes. But most anyone can take a ten minute walk today and maybe increase it to fifteen minutes tomorrow. Stop by the produce stand and buy some fresh apples. The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", has survived through the years because it's true! 

You won't lose twenty pounds in twenty minutes, but if you replace bad habits with good ones, over time you will begin to see a difference in the way you look and feel.

In the long run, I believe you'll be very happy you did.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rainbows


What is it about rainbows that is so special? Driving to our gig last night, we were headed east into a thunderstorm. The sun was low on the horizon in our rearview mirror but before it sank down, it threw up a nice little rainbow.
I shot this photo through the windshield with my iPhone.
I think the time of day and the surrounding rain kept it from being more brilliant, but I consider seeing any rainbow a gift.
The gig at La Reunion was a hoot. We packed the house with family and friends.
The owners were thrilled.
We didn't get home until well after our bedtime last night so we took a really long nap this afternoon.
I might have still been napping if the phone hadn't rang.
This evening before sunset, we looked out and our little deer was munching on the corn we'd left for her.
Even with the nap, it's probably going to be an early night tonight. 
Y'all have a great week.

A Little Slide Show

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Out of Phase

We played La Reunion tonight and had a great crowd that turned out. I felt like I was out of phase or something because I kept losing focus which is not good for someone playing music.
I beat myself up on the way home, but that was silly. Sometimes you have an off night. We've gone to a ton of concerts in our time and it's not uncommon to hear miscues in live performances.
Anyhow, it's over now so I'll stop whining and get ready for our next git. I do want to thank all the folks that came out tonight.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Little Red Bird


I left the door slightly ajar on our screen porch yesterday and a cardinal, as red as a fresh wound somehow flew through it.
Ordinarily, that's not an issue because we find birds on our porch all the time.
We go out there several times and day and when we discover a trapped bird, we simply open the door and shoo them off.
But yesterday, I had left the ceiling fan on and the cardinal, while trying to escape, apparently flew into one of the spinning blades.
The sad thing is that it did not die instantly. The fan apparently broke its neck and I found it on the floor dazed, confused, and unable to move. 
It broke my heart to see it lying there. I did my best to make it comfortable, but it died a short time later.
I guess the humane thing would have been to put the creature out of its misery, but I simply could not bring myself to do it. Call me a wimp, but I could not.
So I brought it a shallow dish of water and sat apologizing for a long while. I had to feed the chickens and our other critters, and when I returned, he had died.
I buried him in a place of honor in our pet cemetery. 
I made a promise to all the creatures in earshot that I would never leave the ceiling fan on when we are not out there. 
I know it doesn't help this bird, but it should reduce the chances of a repeat.
Note: the picture above was borrowed from the Internet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Good Day

I was on the river at 6 a.m. this morning. I sat on the bank waiting for my fishing buddies to arrive. The morning mist lay on the water like a blanket of gauze.
I could hear the trout hitting bugs on the surface of the water, and off in the distance I could hear a woodpecker tapping a tree looking for breakfast.
I closed my eyes and the scent of pine and river moss drifted up and into my brain and the earthy smell put a smile on my face that I cannot explain.
When my friends arrived, we suited up and headed down to the water with rods and nets.
I used to wade this river in shorts, but the water averages 52 degrees and that temperature would make my knee joints feel as if they were pumped full of crazy glue.
I invested in some waders which really helps fight the cold water and keeps me dry.
We fished for a few hours before workers turned on the turbines at the dam up river.
When they sound the siren, you have to make your way to the bank because water comes rushing down the riverbed and it gets deep quickly.
The turbines weren't supposed to come on today until noon, but at 10:30, we heard the warning. I moved toward the bank more quickly than I had to, I stepped on a slick rock as big as a VW, and I busted my rear end.
All of a sudden, my waders were full of ice cold water and more was heading in our direction.
My buddies saw what happened and were concerned at first, but when they saw I was OK, they started giving me a hard time. It was good natured fun and I too had a good laugh at myself.
But when my buddy Mike started out of the water, he did a little ballerina routine and he hit the water too which ended his mirth (at my fall).
The sun had risen above the trees and it was getting really hot by then, so I really didn't mind taking a dip.
I didn't catch any fish today, but to me, any day spent on the water is a good day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ooops!

Jilda's dog cussing me this evening because I gave her a little incorrect information and she blasted it out on her blog.
I "thought" I read on Yahoo that you could see the Aurora Borealis tonight. She seized on the news tip and wrote about it in her blog.
Now it seems the phenomena was actually only visible on August 3rd. So unless we can make the earth spin backwards, we probably missed it this year.
The good news is, the Perseid meteor showers should be at their peak Thursday and Friday nights between midnight and dawn.
I saw a meteor shower once when I was in Panama. I was lying on the top of the fortress wall of Fort San Lorenzo which was an old abandoned Spanish fort on the Atlantic Ocean. 
The night sky was cloudless and you could see from horizon to horizon.  All the guys that lived in our barracks were there and when the show started, it was like watching a 4th of July fireworks show. All you could hear was OOOOOOOO - AHHHHHHHH! 
Absolutely stunning. Here is a link to what the fort looks like today.
http://www.canal-cruise-panama.com/Fort-San-Lorenzo.html
We also watched one here several years ago when our nephews next door were at home. We parked the truck out there, set up lawn chairs and blissed out watching Mother Nature's show.
So, I guess you can guess what we'll be doing tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Golden Stories

I had the opportunity to interview a ninety year old lady today. She still live on her own and drives a convertible.
Her life has been remarkable. Her family was in this country before the American Revolution and some of the stories she told me gave me goosebumps.
Her phone rang in the other room and she left me to go answer it. I spent the time looking at her pictures, and knick-knacks.
When she returned, I asked her about a few and each one had a story that left me shaking my head.
There was one picture of her as a very young woman with an older man. She told me that was her and her father on her sixteenth birthday. She then reached for a photograph of a dog tied to a bumper of a car.
"This is what my father gave me for my birthday," she said. I said "that's a beautiful dog."
"Not the dog," she said. As I looked more closely I realized that the car was a Rolls-Royce convertible.
"I loved that car," she said, "but I fell in love shortly after that picture was made, so I sold it without my father's permission, and used the money run off and get married." She went on to say that she sold the car to the British Military who was scouring America looking for Bentleys and Rolls-Royce's." It seems they were they only car built sturdy enough to support armor plating and the British were about to enter World War II with Germany. They were refitting the cars and shipping them to Africa for the war effort.
I was at her house for over three hours and I could have stayed all day.
I'll be writing the story over the next few days for publication in a local paper. After it runs, I'll post it here.
Merry Christmas (I just wanted to be the first to say that).

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rose-a-Sharon

I mentioned the Rose-a-Sharon blossom that I saw yesterday on our walking meditation. I let that moment slip, but mother nature must have thought that I needed to see it again so she repeated the show.
I finally "got the picture" today when I took this photograph with my trusty iPhone.
There is a book of photographs entitled "The Best Camera in the World is the One You Have With You".
I could not agree more! Life happens. You can't say "hold that pose, I'll be right back with my good camera." If you want to capture the moment, you use whatever camera you have at hand.
My phone has a stopwatch so I use it to time our walks each morning and it's rarely more than an arms reach away.
I've come to understand that the on-board camera, in most situations, is all you need.
I know video is great, but to me, the still photograph can say so much more.
Sometimes with video, you capture too much and the essence of the moment gets lost.
But with photographs, you capture a moment in time.
If you were there at the time the shutter clicked, your mind fills in all the other details. If you were not there, you mind is free to paint the scene in whatever fashion suits your fancy.
I believe that when we get older, all these photographs we've taken through the years, will help remind us what a gift our lives have been.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Learning

Jilda was a little slow moving into technology.  She only got an email address a few years ago and she spends very little time on her computer. 
She's beginning to see the potential of various things and she's begun to ask for me to teach her things. I'm only too happy to help.
But she teaches me things too. She is a GREAT cook! Most of my friends would move in and live here for the food alone.
Today before we headed out on our morning walk, she said let's do a walking meditation. I wasn't sure what that meant but she explained that we would walk in silence for thirty minutes. We'd walk slow and be mindful of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and the various things that you touch and that touch you while you walk.
I wasn't sure at first, but I'll try anything. Right away I become aware of the grass and acorns under foot. Off in the distance I heard a dove and even further, the knocking of a woodpecker. 
I saw a purple Rose-a-Sharon blossom highlighted by a sunbeam that somehow made it through the canope of oak and hickory.
I could smell the earthy aroma of a pine tree that was blown down a few years ago. The trunk rotted to the point that it was returning to the earth. 
Even with the current heatwave, I could almost feel a hint of autumn on the early morning breeze on my face.
The thirty minutes flew by and instead of feeling winded, I felt refreshed. I can promise you, I'll do walking meditations more often, thanks to this lesson from my lovely spouse. 

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Absent Muse

I think I know now how it would feel if someone were to take a caulking gun, fill it to capacity, stick in in one ear, and pump about ten pounds of high test peanut butter right into the cranial cavity. I have thoughts, but they seem to be moving slowly, and sticking to the bottom of my medulla. 
Jilda swears it's the heat but it happens sometimes when it's cold, so I'm not sure that theory holds. Anyhow, I've tapped the letters off my keyboard and I still have not come up with a decent idea, so I'm taking a "by" tonight. Maybe tomorrow the muse will visit.


Friday, August 06, 2010

I had a million things to do today, but I blew most of them off. My friends Charlie and Yvonne Watts needed a little help with their computer so I decided that would be a good use of my time.
After I finished installing their wireless router, I sat and talked with them for a while. Charlie was on Congressman Tom Bevill's staff for years and he has so many delightful stories to tell.
As I was about to leave, Yvonne said "I want you to look."  I captured a short video and posted it to YouTube of their little chihuahua Cookie having fun with their cat.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

First Baby Sitting Gig

I had my first baby sitting gig today with my great nephew Jordan. Jilda and I have kept him a number of times, but today his mom had orientation at school and Jilda's work schedule changes so it was me and the "J" man this morning.
video
We fed and watered the deer, fed and watered the chickens, and then headed down to the barn. Once there, he got a lesson in basic tractor operation. I didn't really crank the tractor, I just showed him all the parts and explained how everything worked. He talks up a storm, but I only catch about every fifth word, but he repeated back to me his understanding of how the tractor worked. He'd point to each part and jabber for a while and I would nod my head.
He also got a crash course in where trees come from. We started with mimosa trees which have seed pods now that looks like beans. I explained how the seeds fell to the ground, then a next year, a small mimosa tree would sprout. He studied me as if he though I might be pulling his leg, but then looked as if he understood. We went from there to acorns and oak trees.
When we got back up to the house, I told him we needed to pick up the limbs and pine cones that had fallen, put them in the wheelbarrow, and unload them on the burn pile.  Once he got the hang of the wheelbarrow, I sat back and watched as he pushed and pulled that thing all over the yard and picked up every limb and pine cone in sight.
We blew bubbles peed off the back porch and had an all around great time. When his grandpa got back from his morning appointment, he came to get Jordan, but he didn't want to go home.
I had been a little apprehensive about keeping him because I wasn't sure how he'd react once he realized that both his mom and Jilda had skipped out on him but we guys made out just fine.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

New Arrival

Jilda whipped up some pasta for lunch today and I was at the sink putting ice cubes in the glasses for sweet tea when I looked out the window toward the barn.

When I saw what was scurrying across the field, I just had to smile. We've had a young deer that's been coming up in the front yard and what appeared to be a mama deer in the back.

A few days ago the mama deer disappeared. With the brutal heat the last several days,  I figured she'd moved on to get closer to a water supply. But today, when I saw the spotted fawn frolicking in the field, I realized  that the mama had been off in the hollow giving birth.

The fawn looked like a puppy running around her mama and chasing crows that were trying to horn in on the corn.


I went this afternoon and bought another bag of corn and a mineral lick. I also put a pan of fresh water in the shade of the apple tree.
We both sat at the table and watch the show. What a gift!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Beach

The very first photograph I have of Jilda and I was taken on the beach just across the road from the old Sea Horse Gift Shop in Panama City, Florida. 

We were standing up to our boney knees in water that was as green as an emerald necklace.

It was taken in 1969 and we were both as skinny as reeds and grinning into the camera as if we could see into the future, and it looked bright for us.

The sand was white as pure cane sugar and it took our eyes time to adjust before we could see without squinting.

I can close my eyes right now and play those images as clear as a digital slideshow on an expensive computer. But my slideshow has much more depth because it comes with the smell of a salty breeze, the sounds of the rolling surf and squawking seagulls fussing overhead. 

The highlight reels of my life would include a lot of footage shot in Gulf Shores and the Panhandle of Florida. 

I don't believe I am unique in this regard. We here in Walker County live close enough to the beach that we could run down there on a whim.

I think most everyone who lives here has probably spent many memorable summers at the beach.

I know that's why watching the news has been so difficult for me these last few months. 

When the Deep Horizon well blew out killing 11 souls, and spewing God only knows how much crude oil into the gulf contaminating the fragile ecosystems of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, it sent a wave of shock, sadness, and disbelief over me.

How could we have let this happen? This is the question that keeps running through my mind. 

How could an industry as huge, and as profitable as the oil industry, NOT have a clue what to do in the event of a disaster?

How could our government dole out billions of dollars in oil subsidies and NOT have a clue, that the oil companies did NOT have a clue? I'm at a loss.

So now that it's happened, where do we go from here? No one knows the extent of the economic and environmental impact of this disaster. 

You can, with some accuracy, assign values to the cleanup efforts, and you can put a value on lost revenues of fishermen and others impacted by the spill. 

But what dollar figure do you place on a species of fish, birds or other wildlife that disappears from the planet forever? 

How do you place a value on the property of people who have worked a lifetime to buy a place by the water, and in a matter of a few months, see those dreams tainted by a sheen of oil? 

Some of the reports the last few days say the oil is dissipating and the impact may not be as bad as was first thought, but I fear those beaches will never be the same.

As I said, I'm at a loss of where we go from here, but one thing I would do. 

Beginning today, I'd stop payment on all the oil subsidies, and I would pour those dollars into research for solar, wind, and other clean, renewable resources. 

I would use the outrage we now feel to wean ourselves off oil. A side benefit would be that we'd remove most of the funding from terrorist groups who are dead-set on annihilating us. 

We live in a garden. Birds and other creatures are taught at a very young age not to foul their nests. 

I think this is a lesson we humans would be well served to learn.

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