Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interesting Week

   It's been an interesting. The last few days have been like riding a roller coaster. The good news is we survived, and in the scheme of things, we didn't lose anything except a few night's sleep and we didn't do our daily posts on our blogs.
   Many of you have sent comments, personal notes, left voice mails on our phones, and Facebook messages. We are truly blessed to have you all as friends.
As of last night, we had power, lights, and water. We still don't have Internet connectivity, but we'll have that in time and we can get back to normal.
   I've gone out these last few days and took pictures, interviewed survivors, and I shot some heart-wrenching stories and video that I'll post once we get online.
   This evening, I think we're going to plant our garden. I know that might sound strange, but after three days of tremendous stress, digging in the dirt just feels like the right think to do.
Y'all take care and hug your family and friends each chance you get.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bad Night

All,
We don't have power or phones and it could be a while before they are restored. Jilda and I are fine but many in our neck of the woods were not as fortunate. Out county lost a lot of people in yesterday's violent tornado out break.
I got a signal on my cell so I thought I'd post to let you all know that posts might be sporadic for a while.
Take care.
Thankful Rick

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Angry Spring

   My carpenter was supposed to come back today to do a few more things here at the house. We decided to replace three more windows and the front deck. Jilda also wants an arbor at the front of the house. I'm guessing another eight or ten hours before we finish up, and we can slap a fresh coat of paint on this baby and call it complete.
   But the sun slept in this morning and the weatherman was pointing to a river of angry clouds to the west, so we decided to postpone removing windows until we were fairly sure we wouldn't need lifejackets to get into our bedroom.
   So I decided to catch up on some of the outstanding interviews that have deadlines coming up in the next few weeks. Apparently the putty I was whining about in my last update, drained out on my pillow last night because I finished up two stories and worked on a third one.
  I had some good advice from some of my followers. I especially liked Old Kitty's advice of beer and chocolate. I really couldn't see a downside that that piece of advice. 
  The sun came out after lunch and a restless wind blew blew billowy clouds across the sky for most of the afternoon. When I stepped out on the deck a few minutes ago, it was as still as the inside of a vacuum tube but the folks in Mississippi and Arkansas who are off to the west of us look like they are getting pounded even as I type. It's been an angry spring weather-wise.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I need a change of scene

   Tonight I feel like someone squirted silly putty up my nose and ears and then packed it up tight into my brain with a kindergarten pencil.  I have some creative thoughts, but they're simply not free to move about my cerebral cortex as they normally would. 
  I mean, usually when I have an idea, it filters down through memory, my mental censor, my funny bone, and on to my fingers. Each stop adding its own spin and flare before the words appear on the screen.
 But tonight, it's all I can do to keep from licking my monitor just to see if the colors taste as good as they look.  As I sit here tapping keys, I can almost smell the paste we used when I was five.  Thankfully they used dull scissors back then, because I'm sure I would have lopped off a finger accidentally had they had any edge at all.  As that thought struggled through my brain, I instinctively pushed away a cup that holds several sharp pencils and a pair of razor sharp scissors. 
 Maybe what I need is a change of scene. Go somewhere I've never been before and eat something I've never eaten (although that might be difficult).
  Anyhow, maybe I'll do better tomorrow. If any of you happen to know how to dissolve mind putty, would you please let me know? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Learning how to breathe - Column from today's paper


I was rockin’ and rollin’ today — knocking out to-do list items with a vengeance, but that all came to a screeching halt when I stopped for what should have been a five-minute transaction at the Jasper Feed and Seed. 

I locked my truck and headed inside. My truck always beeps, buzzes and does everything but hit me with a jolt of electricity when I try to get out with the keys still in the ignition, but today I ignored all the warnings and waltzed inside.

The folks in the feed store filled my order within a minute or so and I headed around to the loading dock where I’d parked my truck, to pick up my feed. I reached into my pocket for my keys, but they weren’t dangling from my left pocket where I ALWAYS put them. I dug around in my other pocket, but it was empty too. When I leaned in close and peered through the glass, the keys were dangling right there in the switch.

As I stood there pondering my next move, I thought to myself – why on earth did I even lock the truck here? The people who go to Jasper Seed and Feed are farmers, hunters, gardeners and animal lovers, who are some of the most honest and trustworthy people on the planet. I’d probably have a better chance of hitting the $300 million Powerball Lottery than having anything stolen out of my truck at the Seed and Feed.

I’ve owned that truck since 2004 and I’ve never locked my keys inside — until today. I stewed a little but one of the warehouse guys stepped out to see if he could lend a hand. We noticed that my driver’s side window was cracked about a half inch — just enough to slip a wire or something inside to try and unlock the door.

He fetched a piece of stiff wire and stood on the passenger side of the truck to guide me toward the door handle. I tried for 15 minutes, and I hooked the handle several times, but I couldn’t get the door unlocked.

Then I remembered what my lovely spouse teaches in her yoga/meditation classes — just breathe. She has a great deal of experience with soldiers who are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress. She says that one of the most calming things you can do is simply breathe deeply.

So I let go of the frustration and the urge to jab the sharp end of the wire into my eye as penitence for doing something so dim witted. I stood there and took several deep breaths. When I looked inside the truck, I noticed the window handle was well within reach. 

I maneuvered the wire through the crack in the window and it slipped right around the knob. When I pulled it, the window rolled down about an inch. After a little more maneuvering, I managed to get the window down enough to squeeze my arm through and unlock the door.

I was so happy! The warehouse guy told me that a visit from the locksmith would not be cheap. Knocking off a liquor store to pay for my senior moment didn’t sound that appealing. Another contingency plan was to break a window, but then images of me driving around with duct tape on my window popped into my head.

So, tonight I gave Jilda a hug and told her thanks for teaching me how to breathe.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

   What is it about pens? I love em'. I have three fountain pens that I've been given through the years. One by my lovely spouse several years ago for my birthday, and two that were anniversary gifts by the company for which I worked for many years.
   I'm not exactly sure what they cost, but I'd bet they cost more than my first car.
   But fountain pens, to me, make writing more elegant. When I write in my leather journal, or when I do book signings and other events, I always use one of my fountain pens. Somehow writing with a piece of handmade precision, makes me feel a little smarter and the things I write seem a cut above.
   But in the scheme of things, my pens are quite modest. Consider the info below.

Penscollections.com
The Limited Edition Mystery Masterpiece, a joint creation between Mont blanc and Van Cleef & Arpels, is the most expensive writing pen ever created. Can you imagine, it costs $730,000! This amazing pen is truly a masterpiece of the jeweler's art. Each pen has 840 diamonds and more than 20 carats of gemstones set in a Van Cleef & Arpels patented "Mystery Setting" that conceals the stone settings. A groove is made on the culet, the bottom facet of the stone, which is then slid onto the threads of the lattice design so that the stones can be held in place side by side without any visible support. There are three variations, set either with rubies, sapphires or emeralds, and accented by diamonds. The three variations of these marvelous pens are limited to three releases each for a total of nine. The unique work took over a year and a half to create by skilled artisans..

   What could/would you write with a pen that cost three quarters of a million dollars. I'm not sure, but you'd look pretty darn good writing it.
 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reunions

   This is reunion weekend for our local high school. Several classes gathered in a meeting room at a nearby hotel tonight and unlike years past, it was packed. 
Organizers did a much better job of getting the word out. The classes represented tonight were 1966, 67, 68, 69, and 1970. 
   Most of us are past the point of fretting that we've lost our hair, or gained a few pounds. I feel lucky that I still have most of my teeth and I rarely drool down the front of my shirt when I eat.....I know this is probably WAAAAYYYY too much information, but I'm just saying.
   The folks that showed up tonight ran the gamut. Some have been very successful in business, some in sports (one guy played in the NFL), and others who've distinguished themselves in one way or another. Some have spent their lives raising kids, and working unglamorous jobs, and they seem as happy as anyone else. The race is long and success means different things to different people.   
   What was interesting about this particular gathering is that most everyone wanted to talk about their retirement, their grand children, and their lives after "the race". 
I do the alumni website for our high school so I'm pretty much the designated photographer. The downside is that I'm never in any of the pictures. 
   Tomorrow the class of 1961 (50 year reunion) is meeting for lunch and I'm taking pictures there too, then tomorrow night is the all class reunion where people from all years will meet and howdy up.
   I'm guessing I will be reunioned out by tomorrow night but I do plan to get someone to shoot a picture or two so at least there will be a photographic record of me :)
Have a great weekend.

Happy Earth Day - Video Give Earth a Hand


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Walk in Clover

Jilda made a run to the local produce store this morning to pick up fresh fruit and veggies, and left the boys to fend for themselves (we babysit every Tuesday and Thursday for our great nephew Jordan). The exhaust from her car still lingered in the driveway when Jordan said "let's check the barn".
Moments later we were off. Droplets of rain from last nights thunderstorms clung to the leaves of trees and bushes so I showed Jordan something new.
Come here, I coaxed. Look at this. I pointed to something high in the tree. When he walked closer to have a better look, I shook the trunk and a thousand droplets of rain, fell on his face. He squealed with delight. Every tree from that point to the barn he would say-- come here, let me show you some-ping. I'd walk over acting as dumb as a stump and look up. He'd shake the tree and droplets would fall on me. I'd then chase him around in mock anger.
Down behind the barn, there is an open field of clover, sage, and blackberry bushes. There were also plants I couldn't name that had yellow and violet flowers. 
I sat on a stump and watched him explore for a long time. I began to wonder -- what was so important all those years when I was working -- when I was much too busy to sit in a field of clover and watch the boundless curiosity or a child? I was at a loss to think of what could be more important.
But then I remembered that it was all those years of getting up before the chickens, and braving the traffic to get to work that made this day possible.  If I hadn't earned, saved, and planned, I'd still be working -- on mindless conference calls and in endless meetings.
So I get it. Life is a dance. Every day can't be a picnic, but every day shouldn't be a grind either. 
I can tell you this -- days like today made those 33 years seem worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strange weather

   I had errands today so I headed out just after lunch. It's that time of year here. One moment the sun is hot as a laser, and the next moment cold moves in like an unwelcome guest. You don't know whether to wear shorts or a sweater. 
   This morning when I stepped onto the deck to dump the coffee grounds into the compost bucket, the wind blew out of the northeast and I shivered involuntarily. 
  During the drive into town, low-hanging clouds, sporadic showers, and blinding sun alternated in some weird climatic dance.  When the rain stopped, I rolled down the window of the truck to get a better feel for the road. 
   One moment the air temperature felt like warm breath on my neck and then next moment, it was almost like someone dropped ice down my collar. I could whine about it, but no one here would listen. 
   For years I wouldn't buy a car that had air conditioning. I thought it was for wimps. I liked the windows rolled down to hear the sound of the tires singing on asphalt, and feel the wind rushing through my hair. It's the absolute best way to get a feel for the weather.
   Tonight as  type, I can hear thunder rolling in the distance. For the next few weeks, our weather will be strange, but then Mother Nature turns a page, and the sun will be our friend until late autumn.
  My editor ask me to set up an interview with the local weather man. He's like a rock star in these parts because during the spring, he saves more lives that seat belts by telling us where the nasty weather will hit. He just sent me an email and I'm interviewing him next Thursday.
Maybe he can tell me if I should pack up my sweaters or leave them out for a while.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Will I Be Remembered


Have you ever thought about how you will be remembered? I help maintain the cemetery where many of my folks are buried and I spend time down there wandering around the gravestones.

I'm guessing most of these folks didn't write their own epitaphs. For the most part, they are written by beloved spouses, and children who remember the qualities of the deceased and want to document those sentiments for eternity. 
I know it might sound morbid, but I think about it from time to time. Actually, Jilda and I wrote a song with our friend Tracy Lea Reynolds with that hook, but I never felt like the song lived up to its title. Anyhow, here are the lyrics to the chorus.
How will I be Remembered, a hundred years from now?
As someone who made a difference, or just someone in a crowd?
The shadow's growing long, time's slipping away
No time for IOU's, will I be remembered
For what I did, or didn't do
How will you be remembered?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Books

  I just finished Ava's Man by Rick Bragg. I'm a member of Audible because I seem to spend a great deal of time in my truck. I'm not crazy about most of the stuff I hear on the radio, so I listen to books on tape. 

  Since I joined Audible many years ago, I've listened to 374 books. 
A few I fast-forwarded through parts, but those were few and far between. As a writer, I love well written books, but I also learn from bad books.

  I take a broad approach to my reading -- I read popular fiction, the classics, biographies, and history.

  I'm not sure if it's because I was born in a mining camp in the toes of Appalachia, or what but Bragg's work speaks to me. In the book I just finished, he literally spoke to me because he was the reader of Ava's Man. 

  It is a book about his grandfather who raised his family in Alabama and Georgia during the Great Depression. I knew his grandfather -- not his actual grandfather, but I knew men just like his grandfather. In fact, there are many parallels between his grandfather and mine. 
They both were bigger than life, they both made moonshine whiskey, they both loved to fish, they both built boats out of materials they had at hand, and they both died too young.

  Bragg never met his grandfather. Ava's Man was written from stories he collected from family, friends, and others who knew his grandfather. I, on the other hand, spent time with my grandfather, but when I was old enough to understand the gravity of what was mine for the asking, I had my own agenda, and much to busy to be bothered with such things. 

  There are few things in my life that I regret, but I regret letting my grandparents take a treasure chest of  knowledge and wisdom to their graves without at least having a look inside.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Chicks

   Did I mention that we have baby chick's? They scurry around the pen like tiny bugs. I've tried to shoot pictures of them this week, but it's the first brood for mama hen and she's super protective. In fact, she tried to peck the stone out of my ring when I put a lid full of starter/grower food down for the babies.


  No matter how softly I talk or reassuring I try to be, when I step into the pen to give them fresh water and food, she makes this frantic chicken sound that seems to be saying -- CHICKEN SLAYER!!! YOU WILL TOUCH MY BABIES ONLY OVER MY DEAD BODY YOU BIG NARLEY THING WITH AN UGLY BEAK!!!!! 


  I used to disregard attacking chickens, but we had a game hen a few years ago that came off the nest and pecked me on the wrist. She managed to sink her razor sharp beak up to her eye balls in one of my veins. Jilda thought it was hilarious until she saw the blood coming out of my arm. After I stopped bleeding she did tell one of her friends that I was henpecked. Since this is a G-Rated blog, I won't repeat what I said to her, but it made her laugh even more.


  Anyhow, in a few days I should be able to slip in and get a few pics of the chicks without losing an eye. 


On another note, as we were walking today Jilda said LOOK! I stepped back to have a closer look and saw our first chicken snake of the season. He was a baby -- probably 2 1/2 feet long.


NOTE TO SELF: Keep baby chicken snake away from baby chicks.


I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ol' Buddy Loves to Ride

   Ol' Buddy loves to ride. In fact every time I start putting my shoes on, or pick up my backpack, he starts dancing around like he'd won a box of Slim Jims.

   During the fall, winter, and spring months he rides a lot, but the summer sun gets hot enough to cook breakfast on the hood of the truck by 10 a.m. so he doesn't get to ride much. Also, if Jilda and I go out at night he has to stay in as well.

   When he has to stay home, he broods while we're gone and when we return, he goes into my bathroom and has his way with tissue or anything else left in the wastebasket.

   Tonight Jilda and I went to scope out a new music venue and listen to our friend Skip Cochran play at the Daniel Day Gallery. The gallery has an outside stage at the back of the gallery.
  
   Was sat out on the veranda to listen.  In the evening sky, were big rusty clouds, tinted by the waning sunlight. Off to the east, the moon, which is almost full, rose above Red Mountain.  The experience would have been even better, but after the storms blew through last night, the temps dropped like a stone and the night-wind made it feel much colder.
 
   When we got home the dogs were happy to see us, and just now when I went into my bathroom to take out my contacts, Ol' Buddy had done a number on my wastebasket. He just wanted me to know he was NOT happy that he didn't get to ride tonight.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Through the Looking Glass


   I'd never been out of the country --- actually I'd rarely been out of Alabama when I was drafted in 1971. Looking back I must have seemed like I was Gomer Pyle to the drill sergeants and other draftees at Fort Campbell. But I made it through basic training and my advanced training at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. 

   When I deplaned in Panama it felt like I was in the jet wash because the air was hot on my face. But it was like that the eighteen months I was in the tropics. 

   When the bus dropped me off at the front gates of Fort Clayton, I stood looking at the huge palm trees that line the drive. It was late afternoon and the sun had dipped down below the trees but it was still light. 
A breeze out of the west rattled the frons, and I could hear a chittering sound that I'd never heard before.
When I walked under the trees to get a better look, there were hundreds of colorful exotic birds singing their hearts out. If I'd been clever, I would have done a little research on the various species of birds there, and written them down in my journal.....but that didn't happen.

  I spent my time in the country wandering around seeing incredible things and all I have to show for it are flashes of memory --SHAZAM DRILL SERGEANT, LOOK AT THEM BIRDS..... or, LOOK AT THEM BIG OL' LIZARDS, or, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN WATER THAT COLOR? Hind sight is............

  I guess what started me down this path is, tonight we watched Alice in Wonderland. I regret that we didn't watch this one on the big screen. I re-read Alice a few years ago and I was totally blown away by the imagination of Lewis Carroll. 

  I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interesting Evening

   Jilda and I attended the Timothy Sumner Robinson Forum at Samford University tonight. The event is in honor of one of our friends.
   Tim was a remarkable individual who graduated from Dora High (where both Jilda and I graduated) at the age of 15 and he graduated from Samford University at 19.
   While at Samford, he worked as a reporter for the Birmingham Post Herald where he covered the civil rights movement during that turbulent period in Alabama's history.
  Once out of Samford, he moved to Washington D.C. and applied at The Washington Post. They turned him down originally but he stuck around and got his Master's degree in journalism. He applied again, and this time they hired him as a copy editor.
   He worked his way up to the city desk and served as the night editor for a while and then the day editor. Tim was there during Watergate and worked with Woodward and Bernstein.
   Several years ago, he died of complications from colon surgery and his family, along with The Washington Post and Samford University, sponsor this forum and a representative from The Post speaks to the students at the college. One student wins a summer fellowship to intern at The Washington Post.
 Jason Reid, who is the sports columnist for The Post was the guest speaker this year and his topic was how social media has changed print media today.
 He said that reporters and columnist who work at The Post are held to the same standards with their blogs and twitter posts. All social media stories, messages, and updates must hold up to scrutiny with valid sources.
  I found the topic fascinating and it seemed to strike a chord with all the college journalists in attendance tonight. I know our friend Tim would be delighted by the dialog and exchange of ideas.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Evening Fire

    Through several years of nasty weather, we had piles of debris all around our property. They were out of sight, but there were never out of mind. Then all the construction since the first of the year added to the piles of debris and they were NOT out of sight.
    The last month or so, we've had a lot of dry weather and days where the wind blew hard, so cleaning up those piles was out of the question. 
   But I looked at the forecast for this week and things looked good, so I called my buddy who owns a Bobcat last week to see if he could work me into his schedule. Yesterday was the only day he had available so I took it. 
   I was afraid after all the rain on Monday night that it would be too wet for him to work, but he showed up around mid-morning and got after it. 

   By nightfall, our little farm looked like a different place. We had a mountain of debris burning safely down in the hollow.   
   I'm not a pyromaniac, but I can tell you, there is something primal about watching a fire after the sun goes down. I think the campfire is the the reason so many people love to camp.
   I was exhausted from "lifting that barge and toeing that line", but I sat for a long time listening to the crackle of the evening fire and to dogs barking off in the distance. 
   I know I still have a long way to go before I can say that our projects are complete, but this is one item I can check off my todo list, and it feels good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No Clout With Mother Nature

   I stepped outside to survey the yard in daylight after last night's "big blow." The only thing amiss was the wind had blown most of the blossoms off our dogwood tree. The yard looked as if we'd had snowfall over night.


  Our dogwood tree is over 30 years old. It's beautiful year around but it looks like a big white cloud when it blooms in the spring. It's the biggest dogwood I've ever seen. The trunk at the bottom is probably two feed in diameter and the limbs start low to the ground.


  When our niece Samantha (Jordan's mom) was three, she used to climb almost to the top of the dogwood. She called it the magic tree. She spent hours in the branches and leaves. Jilda wrote a children's story based on "The Magic Tree".


  The only concern about the tree is that it' directly underneath the power lines. It's not tall enough to get into the lines, but the power company has a policy of slash and burn when it comes to trees beneath their lines.  
  We've had to stand our ground many times when the tree slayers came to our neighborhood. Thankfully we have an old acquaintance that's been with the power company for many moons. 


  Last summer a crew of tree slayers who now do the work for the power company, came a'callin'.  When I told the trimmer he couldn't cut the tree, he said (yes, I'd call it a snitty tone) that I'd have to talk to his supervisor. I told him to get the supervisor. While he was gone to fetch the bossman to deliver the "bad news" to me, I called my buddy at the power company. I was standing under my dogwood as the supervisor walked into my yard. Before he got to me, I heard his two-way radio screech to life. The voice on the other end, told the supervisor not to bother the dogwood. 


  I could tell that it pained the supervisor that he couldn't put me in my place. He simply shook his head and turned to walk away. He called out over his shoulder as he was getting into his truck -- I'm not sure who you know mister, cause we ALWAYS get the trees out of the right-of-way.
  I wish I had more clout with Mother Nature.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brief Update

     Tonight sounds like a repeat of last Monday. A line of storms are on the western edge of the our county bearing down fast.

     Last week was straight line winds and we didn't lose power, but sometimes storms blow our lights to Georgia so I'm doing an update now just in case.
More later....I hope.

   LATER: Thankfully no tornados hit around here.  I looked out the back door just before the straight line winds hit and the pine and hickory were dancing in the wind. Off in the distance you could hear the constant roll of thunder. I tried to shoot a little video but on replay, it didn't look like much so I'll spare you.

  The temps will be cooler tomorrow so it's my intention to begin the cleanup work and prepping the house for painting. There's still a lot of work to do, but I feel good about where we are. I've set a goal of having all our renovation projects completed by the summer solstice.

  You can bet we'll have one heck of a party and you're all invited.

  All you folks to the north and east, keep your eyes to the skies.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Race for the Roses

Jilda and I grow great tomatoes, tubs of potato's, baskets of squash, and mountains of peas, but our roses are pathetic.
We have several bushes, but none of them do that well.
The most luck we've had are our John Roses -- We got a cutting from our friend John Elliott who has since passed away. The roses he gave us are climbing roses and we planted them down at the front of our house on the bank near our mailbox, and we named them after him.
Each year it throws off thousands of blooms, but they only grow to about the size of a silver dollar. Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, but they are more like rose-lets.
Our other roses are hit and miss.
Jilda's brother, on the other hand, has roses as big as softballs. It's a source of contention  -- He called early this morning to rub some salt in the wound.
"Hey, one of my pink roses is blooming," he says over the phone...and you can almost hear him snicker.
After Jilda and I finished our walk, we stepped over to his house to have a look.
Though it pains me to say it, his roses are stunning. I'm not sure if he puts some kind of special sauce on his bushes, or what, but he spanks us silly each year in the race for the roses.
If any of you have any rose-growing advice, bring it. I'm taking off the gloves!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Ebb and Flow

It seems ebbing more than flowing these last few days. My energy level has dropped these last few days and it's all I can do to keep my eyes open.
We took our buddy Fred to Niki's Seafood tonight for his birthday and afterwards we drove around Birmingham and watched the sunset off to the west. There's a few coffee houses we're checking out and an art gallery that has live music.
It's been a long time since we've just driven around town in the evening when traffic is down but the city is coming alive.
It seems the character of cities change at night. I've been to New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, and they all seem to be more exciting after twilight.
Anyhow, it was fun driving around tonight.
I hear the sleepytime tea calling my name. I think it will be an early night and I might just sleep in tomorrow to recharge my batteries.
Y'all have a great Saturday night and Sunday.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sea of Cars

I scheduled an Apple class this morning to learn how to protect and manage data on my Mac. In the past, I struggle with my Windows PC. I bought software that never seemed to work as advertised and I always fretted that I'd lose data if my computer crashed.
The new Mac has a program that constantly backs up the data to an external drive. The trainer, after checking my backup scheme, intentionally deleted a file off my desktop. He then deleted the trash basket and the file was gone.
He walked me through a total of three mouse clicks and the file was back on my desktop. Simply amazing.
I know all you Mac folks are shaking your heads about now wondering why it took so long for a reasonably smart guy to realize he should have been using a Mac -- but what can I say?
Anyhow after the class, I went to the newspaper office and worked on stories that have approaching deadlines.
I was waiting for Jilda to complete her yoga certification training (the next to the last class before she receives her 200 hours certification...big drumroll). When she called to say that class was over, I headed south for a few miles to pick her up. It was 4 p.m. When I stopped at a traffic light, the sky was clear and I could see for a mile or more ahead of me. What I saw was a sea of cars waiting for the light to change.
Before I became un-jobbed, this kind of traffic was common, and I rarely took notice. But these days, congestion for me is when Jilda and I both need ice from the fridge at the same time.
Even though the sky was clear, the exhaust from the idling cars made the scene look almost like a desert mirage because of how the cars seemed to shimmer in the distance.
Tomorrow the weatherman says the temps will reach 79 degrees. We may go straight from winter to summer this year, but I guess time will tell.
Y'all have a great weekend.

P.S. I mentioned a few posts back that I'd post the story I wrote about the children with Franconi Anemia. Here is the link to the story in the Homewood Star.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Progress

I checked two huge looming items off my todo list this week. I completed my income tax package and took it to our accountant, and today we closed on my mom's house.
The latter is something that's been eating away at me for some time. I knew when we put her in the nursing home back in November that we'd have to sell the house. Medicaid requires that she have no assets.
I thought at one time that maybe I should buy the house and rent it out, but after months of wrestling with the decision, my sisters and I decided to put it on the market.
As I wrote a while back, the house was a wreck because people (I use that term loosely) had broken into her house and carted off anything of value including the copper pipes and the wiring out of the walls.
The house has never been worth a great deal, but after being plundered, the county tax assessor placed a "no value" on the house and the only thing of value left was the land.
Someone made an offer a few weeks ago and Medicaid agreed. Today closed that chapter.
When my sister and I sat down to sign the papers this afternoon, I got a lump in my throat. My mom loved that house.
It wasn't my childhood home, because we moved there the year after I graduated from high school. The house I grew up in was purchased by the State to make room for a new road that came through our neighborhood. My parents took the money from the State and bought this place that we sold today.
This afternoon, I felt in my heart that it was the right thing to do and my spirit felt a little lighter as I drove away.
Here's the thing -- there are always obstacles that come up in your life. Sometimes you spend way too much energy fretting about what to do. All you can ever do, is to make the best decision with the information you have at hand. As someone wrote in a comment on one of my entries, "regret is a waste of energy."
So, now I plan to focus on finishing up all the cleanup, painting, and decorating on all the projects currently underway here at the Watson household.
I know my spouse is a saint for not taking a hacksaw, and cutting my head off while I was sleeping. She hates disorder, and right now, thanks to me, we have an abundance of it around here. But after today, I feel like I can get down to work and cross a few more things off my list. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Something To Look Forward To

It seems like most of the businesses I deal with online have sent me an email in the last few days - Charter,
Chase, CTI, Exxon/Mobil, HSN, and others all let me know that someone might have accessed my personal email address at a company called Epsilon.
Apparently Epsilon handled some type of email verification for many major corporations around the globe.
They say no one saw my personal or financial data, but most likely got my email address. That's good to know, because I don't get enough spam now.
Hopefully I will get more offers for girls gone wild videos; chances to hook up with South African bankers who need to contact me to transfer millions of dollars to my bank account; or to sell me pills that will make me more alert, more creative, make my penis larger, and/or make grow hair on my folliclely  challenged head.
All of the warning emails said to be mindful of emails that ask for me to verify my personal banking, credit card, or other personal information. WELL, I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night.
I'm actually glad the businesses gave me a heads-up about the security breach, but in reality I've know for a long time that there are some very smart people out there fishing around for my personal information.
I think all of us should be very mindful of any email from strangers or friends.
Maybe we should all start communicating with letters again. I know it's not as instant as email, but is there anything better than getting a personal letter from a friend? And, most of the hackers wouldn't have the patience to wait for a letter to arrive in their mailbox.
All kidding aside, be mindful.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Don't Blink

The storms move through quickly last night and fortunately we had no damage. This morning was cool but the sun came out bright as a beacon. When I went out to feed the critters, I wore shorts and a sweatshirt.
The wind and rain stripped the pollen from the trees and the air was so crisp and fresh it almost burned my lungs.
Jilda had a dental appointment early to get her teeth cleaned (she loves dentists), so our great nephew Jordan stayed with me while she was out.
At mid morning, he looked at me and said, "I have an idea, why don't we go to the barn!"  I looked at him wide-eyed and said -- that's a great idea.
We did all the routine stuff, which is to check on the tractor and all the implements, we checked the bat houses at the back of the barn, we looked for deer tracks, and the we headed down the path to meditation rock.
Ever so often, I'd stop and ask Jordan what he sees. It's a game we play. I'm trying to help him get into the habit of being observant.  He didn't like the game very much at first and he'd say, "I don't see anything."
But then I'd point out mushrooms growing on tree stumps, dead limbs that looked like snakes, rocks that looked like fish, and tiny purple flowers growing right next to his feet.
After a few times, he got into the game and started rattling off things that he saw. Much of what he said, I still don't understand, but I acted like I did.
I can almost see him growing before my eyes. What's interesting, is that we babysat with his mom when she was his age. It seems like yesterday, and yet she's about to graduate from college, she's a single mom, and we're keeping her child.
Soon, he'll be going to pre-school and won't be spending Tuesdays and Thursdays with us. If I listen closely, I can almost hear the sand as it ticks through the hourglass.
As the country song goes, Don't Blink.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Bad Cloud

I could tell you the weather was bad this evening, but then you'd probably say -- what do you mean by bad. So I decided to save a few keystrokes. I shot this leading edge of a system that moved through just before dark this evening. 
Just after I shot this, the winds kicked up and there were gusts of 60 mph. I stepped back inside the community center where we Jilda does her yoga classes on Monday. We had one student (besides me) to show up, but there were about 20 people from around the community that came to the center to seek shelter. 
The lightening and thunder were brutal and we had hail, but I didn't see any damage.  I think the worst is over for now. 
When we got home, the dogs were careening off the walls. They have weather issues. 
Anyone to the east of us, hunker down because it's headed your way.



video

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fun Ain't Cheap

We rolled in today after lunch and I was whupped. We unloaded the car and I immediately took a two hour nap.I think my friends Dan and Keith were going to fish some more this morning before heading home, but I was fished out, so we pointed our car east and headed for home. It was a fun weekend.
Friday was a learning day for me. I've been fly fishing for some time but it's always been hit and miss. I learned a little here and there about casting, lures, and how to read a steam, but it never seemed to jell. That all seemed to change this weekend.
Dan, who owns the papers for which I write, organized the fishing trip and he hired a fishing guide.
Both Dan and Keith (who also works at the paper) are accomplished fly fishermen, and didn't need a lot of advice from our guide.
I on the other hand, felt that I needed to listen. Deb Bowen was the guide and she's been fishing the Soque River near Helen, Georgia for years. Since the other guys didn't need her advice that much, I dug in and took advantage of the instruction.
On day one, it became apparent, my casting skills were just short of awful.....no, I'll fess up - they were awful.
But Deb coached, observed, adjusted and cheered on Friday. At the end of the day, my technique improved dramatically. I didn't catch any fish, but I could cast like nobody's business.
I took a good bit of ribbing. On Friday evening, Jilda and Dan's girlfriend Allison cooked dinner for us. They served up huge portions of spaghetti. The food was great, but I couldn't eat everything on my plate. Dan, who'd scarfed down everything on his plate looked at me and said "catching fish really makes me hungry." Ouch!
Saturday was a new day. I came out with new skills, and a new attitude. Again Dan and Keith went off on their personal quests for fish, and Deb hung with me and gave me a few last tips on keeping tention on the line during the time the fly drifts downstream.
I wasn't in the water ten minutes when I caught a weird little fish. It wasn't a trout, but I was encouraged.
A few casts later, I hung into a trout as big as a Honda Civic. He bent my antique fishing rod almost to the water. This one got away, but not before the guide and Keith saw the beast. But it doesn't really count unless you get it into the net.
Later in the morning, I did land a beautiful rainbow about that was about 14 inches long.
Then I was on a roll. All in all, I landed five very nice trout, one which was over twenty inches long.
We did catch and release so all the fish we caught this weekend were on barbless hooks, and we made sure they all had recovered from the tussle before we released them back into the stream.
I'd give anything if my dad had been on this trip with us. He had the fly fishing rig that I now use, but he never really got a chance to do a lot of fishing except on the river near where we lived.
I know he would have been very happy that I spent a glorious weekend on the water.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Fun weekend

OK, I figured out what I was doing wrong yesterday and today, I rocked and rolled.
I'm wind burned, my casting arm feels like it's made of lead, but I have a smile on my face.
The jokes my buddies were making fell off dramatically today.
This should be the last iPhone update for a while as we'll be home fairly early tomorrow.
I hope you're weekend was fun too.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Short post

We don't have Internet connectivity here at the cabin so I'm updating via iPhone.
Today was a beautiful day for fishing.
I hung several fish but didn't land one. Tomorrow will be a better day.
We're going into town tomorrow evening and both Jilda and I will make our real updates then.
Have a great weekend.

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