Monday, December 31, 2012

Rhythm of Life

Jilda and I wrote a song several years ago entitled “The Rhythm of Life.” The lyrics describe the ebb and flow that we all face as we cruise through life. There were years when I felt as though I were riding a wave of good fortune, and then other years not so much.

This year got off to a rough start when Jilda started taking infusion treatments to help fortify a faulty immune system. Then a few weeks after my birthday in January, my mom had a stroke and died about 10 days later.

We lost two friends, and our three oldest dogs this year as well. One of the dogs died in July, one a few days before Christmas, and the other a couple days after. 

It was a year of loss, so I haven’t been myself during the holidays. Jilda was off work today and we decided to start practicing songs for an upcoming gig on January 4.

While flipping through the book of our original songs, I came across the lyrics to “Rhythm of Life.”

Although the song is not upbeat, I smiled as I read the words because they reminded me that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. 

The lyrics seemed to put things into perspective. There were times in my life that I felt lower than a snail’s belly, and I wondered if I’d ever see the light of day. But nothing says it better than the old cliche, “the sun will rise again.”

I know it’s true because I’m living proof.

I was fired on Jan. 15, 1976. What made the sack stink worse was that it was my birthday.

Jilda worked at Keynote Fashions at the time but she didn’t make enough for us to live on.

I worked odd jobs, sometimes two or three at a time to help make ends meet. The rubber on our tires was so thin you could see the air inside them.

We ate butterbeans, cornbread and a lot of Spam. Sometimes when money got really tight, Jilda’s mom and dad let us raid their cabinets. Christmas gift giving that year was slim. 

I’d gotten to know a man named Jim Young when I worked for the newspaper. He was a general manager with South Central Bell for this area. I’d written favorable stories for him, and he never forgot it.

Just before Christmas 1976, he called to ask if I’d ever considered working for MaBell. He knew I was a veteran, which didn’t hurt. The phone company gave preference to veterans in those days.

I interviewed, did well on all the tests, so on Jan. 3, 1977, I went to work as a garageman for the company.

It was like the dark clouds of that year moved off to the east and even though it was rainy and cold that first day of work, it seemed as if sunshine had come back into my life.

Below is the chorus to our song.

“Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry
You lose at love, and don’t know why
The ever flowing rhythm of life
It’s been this way, since time began
A timeless tapestry, a master plan
Life is a mystery, yin and yang in perfect harmony
The ever flowing rhythm of life.”

I hope you all have a bright and prosperous 2013.


Life Happens is Rick Watson's latest book. Like Remembering Big, it's a collections of short essays that first appeared as columns in newspapers across Alabama.

Life Happens is available in paperback and eBook from
Click here for the link.

If you'd like an autographed copy, visit my personal website. Click Here

Remembering Big now available on Kindle, and Nook. It will be available soon on all major eBook providers.
Click here for Amazon link.

If you'd like an autographed copy, visit my personal website. Click Here





Sage Coffee and Books June 28th
DeKalb, Mississippi from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Rick will be signing books at the Book Nook in Sylacaga, Alabama on March 9th from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.
Click here for their Facebook page

Rick will be appearing at the Weogufka Center's Author Event on April 6th.
Click here for their webpage.




310 Stacks Bottom Road
Empire, Alabama 35063





Sunday, December 30, 2012

Google +

I got a pop-up message when I logged on yesterday saying that I should merge my Blogger and
Google + profiles.
I've noticed a few of you are doing this. Rebecca Jerdee at and Rachel Cotterill at are using their Google + profiles and I wondered if it changed anything significantly?
I think I'll give it a try soon. The Google info says that it makes your blog more visible to a wider audience.
I've started joining Google + Communities of interest. So far I've joined Writers, Authors, Bloggers; Authors and Marketing; eBook Publishing; Singer/Songwriters; as well as Entrepreneurs and Self Employment.
Some groups I've joined in the past have not been that good but I've picked up some very good information on these Communities.
What I've discovered so far is that Facebook has more users, but the discussion on Google +  seems to resonate with me.
There are also useful tools such as Hangout which allows 10 people to video chat together. I've used it a few times to brainstorm with some of my friends and it's really a powerful tool.
If any of you are on Google +, be sure to let me know so that I can Circle you. I'm Rick Watson Homefolk Media if you search for me.
Tomorrow is the last day of 2012. I spent a good bit of time this morning finalizing my goals for 2013.
So I'm excited about 2013. I hope we all do remarkable things.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Wash

I've been sitting here tapping keys for 20 minutes trying to come up with a decent idea, but I've had no luck.
Sometimes when you cross your eyes, and lean a little to starboard while tapping the keys to the rhythm to Chuck Berry's Johnny B Good, you can channel some profound thoughts from the universe.
But so far in addition to JBG, I've tapped out Little Queenie, Memphis, and Maybellene without even a twitch of an eyebrow. The wrinkles in my brain are as smooth as a baby's butt.
I turned the keyboard over to make sure none of the creativity was seeping through and leaking onto my desk, but nada.
So, I'm calling it a night. I will leave you with a picture I shot a few weeks ago so the visit here won't be a total waste of time.
I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thinking Outside the Net

Me and my guide at Helen, Georgia
I've made a decision. On January 1, 2013 I'm going fishing. It been way too long since I've been, and for the life of me I don't know why.
I mean, what could be more important that fishing?  You get exercise, you're being mindful of the environment, you're helping the economy when you stop at the fly shop and load up on fishing stuff, you're enhancing your creativity, and you're fortifying your mental health. This is all important stuff here.
I think if more people spent time fly fishing, there would be world peace. I know there would be true happiness.
I'm actually thinking about running for congress. Your help in brainstorming is welcomed. Possible slogans so far are: "Fish More, Fight Less", or maybe "A Trout On Every Table".  Maybe you could come up with a better slogan, but it must be fly fishing related.
My other thoughts for the new year include, having lunch with a group of our dear friends at least once a month. I plan on hiring an unemployed thug to look me up and beat the crap out of me if I don't stick to my intention.
Playing music at coffee shops, festivals, or other fun venues both here and abroad at least monthly.
I'm trying to think of innovative ways to approach the new year. I'd love to hear what you plan for 2013. Let's think outside the net here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I have two questions I always ask at the end of interviews. The questions usually take people by surprise.
No matter how old the subject is, I always ask what they want to be when they grow up.
And I ask if they had a chance to do anything differently in their lives, what would it be.
I consider asking the questions a public service. A lot of people blow off the questions, and that's OK.
But through the years, I've had some very poignant answers.
I asked a very successful gentleman that today, and he got a far-away look in his eye when he responded to the do-over question.
He said that during his career, at times he was brutal with fellow workers, employees, and others. He didn't make excuses, or try to rationalize his behavior. He answered the question by saying that if he could have a do-over, he would be kinder in his dealings with those around him.
I don't think he was trying to win points with me for the interview, because there was something in his voice that told me he was speaking from the heart.
So, as this year winds down, it think it's as good a time as any to ask:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
And, if you had a do-over, what would it be?
As my lovely spouse might write:
Good night, sweet dreams.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Google Plus

I've started spending a little more time looking at the posts on Google + these days. The things people post on there seem to be a better fit for me.
During the elections, I couldn't bear to look at Facebook. People seemed to prefer spend more time debating politics and less time sharing family, friends and inspirational stuff.
Contrary to popular belief, debating politics is not a way to win friends and influence people.
So, I started visiting Google + a few times a day and I found that there are tons of writers, musicians, and creative people on there sharing things that resonated with me.
I logged on for a few minutes tonight and came across this video. I'd read the story a few weeks ago but hadn't seen the video until tonight.
I must say watching this made me smile, and gave me hope.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

The weather was nasty today but the severe weather passed just south of us. I haven't heard if tonados touched down, but we spent much of the day with one eye on the television weather, or on our iPhone weather apps.
I had a hard time with this first Christmas without my mom. I spent most of the day in that strange place where I felt as though I were a spectator. I felt detached from what was going on, but watching the scene, almost as if I were watching a movie in which I was an actor.
This evening we had dinner at my sister's house and my niece who fell in love with photography and video because of me.
When she was very young, I worked at a newspaper. A big part of my job was photography. I'd shoot family pictures and print them up in the darkroom. She was fascinated by those images.
When she grew up and began working in photography herself, my mom gave her all the old 8 mm film and video taken through the years at Christmas.
Tonight, she showed a movie that she'd edited combining some of that footage from past Christmases.
Seeing my mom and dad in their element, was cathartic. I found that I no longer felt detached, but drawn into those images. I found myself laughing out loud. It felt good.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Peaceful Christmas

Jilda decided to work today. She could have taken off,  but the military cottage at the healthcare facility was filled to capacity. Many of the soldiers were fresh off overseas tours, and haven't spent Christmas at home in years.
She has a soft spot in her heart for the guys and gals in the military. One of the newcomers who came to her class today was in a wheelchair. A road-side bomb robbed him of both his legs. It could have been awkward, but the group did chair yoga which worked out just fine. The group didn't expect her, so they were so thankful that she showed up.
I'm proud of the work she does there. I don't know how we will ever repay those folks. They have sacrificed so much.
While she was away at work, I checked our generator and bought a can of gasoline. You might think "That's odd, Rick. Why would you be doing that?"
Well, it's because it was warm enough to swim here today. Just after lunch I sat out the deck in the sun and blistered my face.
A cold front is marching toward Mississippi and Alabama, and some time tomorrow afternoon the temps will plummet from the 70s to the 40s. The weatherman says conditions are favorable for violent storms across the south.
I choose to believe they are wrong, and I'm predicting a peaceful Christmas for us all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve Eve

I heard toenails clicking on wooden floors about 4:30 this morning and I realized our ancient dog Taylor was on the move.
She is about 12 years old and in poor health. She's blind, and deaf. When you hear her walking around in the night, that means she needs to go to the bathroom.
I helped her outside and after she did her business, she smelled her way back to the front steps. This morning she tried to navigate the steps, but couldn't manage it.
I had to lift her back legs up so that she could get back on the porch and into the house.
I know that we'll have to make the hard decision on her soon too. It's been that kind of year for us.
Life is funny. Some years are like celebrations. It seems as if luck is on your side, and things always go right for you.
Then other years, it seems the opposite is true. That's not to say that good things haven't happened this year, but we've had our share of misfortune.
I lost my mom in February, a dear friend in spring, and we've lost two (soon to be three) of our four-legged family members this year. Those who read my blog daily know the sordid details.
But soon we'll rip December off our 2012 calendar, and we'll have a fresh slate -- and empty basket that we can fill with an abundance of love and life experiences. I welcome 2013.
I hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ho Ho Ho

Jilda and I had lunch with friends today and afterwards we stopped by the store to pick up some Scotch Tape so that we could finish wrapping Christmas gifts.
A few minutes later we'd paid for our stuff and we headed towards the car when I heard a child exclaim Santa, Santa!
I didn't think anything about it but Jilda looked to see a little girl about four years old strapped in a carseat reaching for me.
The child's dad was embarrassed, but Jilda laughed so hard she almost wet her pants.
It took me a second to realize the child was calling to me. I guess my gray beard must have made me look like the jolly old fella wandering around in the Dollar General parking lot.
If I'd been clever, I would have stepped back to the car and asked her what she wanted for Christmas. "Yes, you can have the American Girl Doll with ALL her clothes, purses, and jewelry."
Of course the sight of her dad pummeling Santa in a discount store parking lot might have scarred the child for life so I'm guessing it was a good thing I got in the Volvo and drove away.
Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Memory

Jilda and I married in 1974. I worked for a small weekly newspaper then. I loved the work, but even with both of us working, we probably qualified for food stamps though we never consider applying.
We lived in a white and faded gray 12 x 60 house trailer. It was hot in the summer, and the winter wind blew through the windows enough to ruffle the curtains. The best thing about that trailer was the sound of summer rain on the roof.
Then in 1976 the paper changed management, so they "let me go" on my birthday on January 15.
I didn't have a regular job that year so we did whatever it took to keep the lights on, and a can of Spam in the pantry.
Then in December of that year, an old telephone guy I'd befriended at the paper recommended that I fill out an application with MaBell. I did, and on January 3, 1977 I started work.
Things turned around for us. Although I started out at the bottom with MaBell, I quickly moved up. We saved our money and in late summer of 1983 we decided to build a new house.
The lock & key price was $37,500. I fretted months before signing the papers because I had no idea if we could pay for the house.
Builders began construction in late fall with a target completion date of mid December. We desperately wanted to be in our new home by Christmas. The weather was unsettled (imagine that for Alabama).
But then the construction gods smiled on us and after a last minute flurry of work, the builder showed up and handed us the keys to our new home.
We were so excited. That first night we bought for a cheap bottle of champagne, and spent the night sleeping on a mattress on the floor in front of our great-room windows. We sipped champagne from Dixie cups.
That weekend we moved our clothes  and furniture from the trailer and began our new life as homeowners.
We bought a white pine Christmas tree that you could plant, which was the first of many. We had a Christmas Open House for all our friends that Sunday.
That year seems like a turning point for us. We'd shrugged off the shackles of poverty, and moved up.
It changed our lives.
I cannot think back on that Christmas without smiling.
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End

Since the world is ending tomorrow according to the Mayan calendar, I've maxed out all my credit cards. I didn't pay any of my bills for December, and I haven't flossed once.
I stopped by the store and bought more sun screen just in case the the forecast to the right is correct.
Jilda and I watched a movie recently entitled: Seeking a friend for the end of the world.
Steve Carell stared with Keira Knightly. Steves movies are sometimes funny, but this one was not. It was poignant in ways I did not expect.
But the theme of the movie gives one something to consider.
If you knew the world would end in two weeks, what would you do?
I've actually spent time contemplating this scenario. Obviously work didn't figure into the equation. I didn't spend much time thinking about getting new tires on the truck, I never once though about calling my financial planner. What I did think about was my friends and family.
Tonight Jilda and I met four of our oldest and dearest friends. Brenda, Danny, Tom and Judy. Sitting there talking, laughing, and getting caught up with each others lives was uplifting.
I couldn't help but think, if the world was ending, what better way to spend it than with the people you love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Our dog Astro, a lab mix, came to live with us over twelve years ago. He was abused before we got him, and he's always acted grateful that we welcomed him into our home. He was polite, and minded better than a lot of children I see these days.
Normally when he moved about the house, he was in stealth mode. Even though he weighed well over 80 pounds, the only sound he made walking through the house was a gentle clicking of his claws on the wooden floor.
I'm not sure how he did it, but when he came in or went out the doggie door, the only sound it made was a slight whisking of plastic against his muscles as he slowly passed through the door.
Each day on our morning walks, he ran like the wind and looked more like a thorough bred racing horse, than a mix-breed dog.
This morning around 3 a.m. I was sound asleep when I heard a loud noise in the bedroom. I jumped up in my ninja crouch only to discover it was Astro. He was in some kind of distress.
I guided him into our laundry room and onto a thick rug where he normally sleeps. I wasn't sure if he'd had some kind of seizure, or something worse.
My niece Samantha and Astro
Both Jilda and I laid down on the floor, with him in between us. Eventually he went to sleep so Jilda and I went back to bed.
When the vet office opened this morning I took him down. I kept hoping it was some type of infection or other malady for which the vet could treat with medicine. But I knew deep down inside, it was something worse.
After a few moments with him, she delivered the bad news. He'd had a stroke. Yes, in some cases, animals respond after massive doses of steroids, but with dogs his age, and with the condition he was in, she didn't give much hope.
I called Jilda and we both cried as if we'd lost a child. I went back inside and told the doc to put him down.
So today has been a sad day for us here in the Watson household.

The photo to the right was taken about 12 years ago. It's of our niece Samantha and Astro. She was in elementary school then. She has since graduated from college, and is working as a physical therapist assistant.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Customer Service

Jilda worked today, so while she toiled away, I tossed Old Buddy in the truck and we took a leisurely ride to town to run some errands.
I've sold some books the last few days so I wheeled into the drive-thru windows at our bank, and Old Buddy, who normally snoozes on the passenger seat, became animated.
When the mechanical drawer opened, he was in my lap in an instant. Apparently the teller and Old Buddy go way back because he put on a show for the lady. He cocked his head one way and then the other.
I'm sure he must have looked like the RCA Victor dog in those 1950s commercials, because through the bullet-proof glass I could hear the woman say aaawwweee.
I popped the checks into the drawer and petted Old Buddy as he did other tricks.
If he could have gotten a little closer, I'm sure he would have licked the glass.
When the drawer came back and clanged open, there was a treat inside with my receipt. Old Buddy yipped a thank you as we drove off.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No Sympathy

When I fell off the ladder Saturday, I sprang back to my feet like a cat. Jilda came running out to check on me. I think she heard the ladder bang up against the house, but now she's telling all her friends that the house shook when I hit the ground.
Now I know I could afford to drop a few pounds, but there's NO way the house shook when I hit the ground, and anyone who says I did, is a LLPOF (Lier, lier, pants on fire). So if she writes that on her blog, I need for some of you to call her on it.
After the spill, I walked around nonchalantly as if nothing had happened, but I was secretly taking stock on all my moving parts to make sure something wasn't broken.
After a while, I thought to myself, hey, this is no big deal.
That night I fell asleep, and when I woke up Sunday morning, I almost called 911. Every muscle in my body was aching.
I snorted some Advil, and finally managed to stand and move about.
But this morning, the old body went into phase II with aching muscles, some of which I didn't realize I had. I felt like I was walking sideways.
Then tonight when I went to yoga, the yoga class (mostly women) ganged up on me and had fun at my expense.
Old achy Rick got no sympathy there :)
Y'all have a great week.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

We kept this weekend open, so yesterday afternoon, I brought our Christmas tree inside. I helped wrap the lights, because that part is easier with four hands, but when it comes to hanging the ornaments, I leave that to Jilda.
She is very meticulous, when it comes to decorating so I try to give her room. Time has taught me not to question, but to attach the little hooks and hand them to her when she wiggles her fingers.
She never takes her eyes off the tree so I have to rely on subtle signs that she needs something. A wiggling finger, a cocked head, a barely audible grunt, or hip that's thrust to the starboard instead of port.
Sometimes it takes a mind reader to hand her the right thing, but again, time has been a friend to me. I simply act as the DJ, and drink provider.
At times it's hard to see where she's headed with a particular design, but I've learned that I don't have to envision the outcome, while the work is in progress.
I shot this picture while there was still light outside, long before the crystal stars, snowflakes, and icicles were hung.
When she finished the tree, we turned off the overhead lights, sat on the couch sipping eggnog, and listened to Windham Hill's December.
Today, Jilda has spent most of the day painting Christmas cards. It is a tremendous amount of work, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Many of those who get her cards, frame them.
It's been a good weekend, although due to the tragedy in Connecticut, we've both had heavy hearts.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families there.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A good imagination ~ My Column from this Week

A good imagination in my line of work is a gift. As a writer, it helps me come up with decent subjects for my work. A good imagination enables me to make non-intuitive leaps, connecting things that most folks wouldn’t ordinarily connect. 

But an overactive imagination is not always an asset, especially in lines of work like bomb specialists, or police investigators. 

Last month our gas stove died a few days before Thanksgiving. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse because Jilda had a fresh turkey breast as big as a basketball sitting on the counter, and it was the main course for her family’s Thanksgiving Dinner later in the day. She’d turned the oven on, and then scurried around collecting spices, fresh herbs, and other ingredients used to make her baked turkey a masterpiece.

When she leaned over to slide the turkey into the oven, it was as cool as an icebox.

That’s strange, she said. She fiddled with the knobs, and tried again. Something’s not right, I heard her say with more than a little panic creeping into her voice.

I hustled outside to check the gas level in our propane tank but it was practically full.

We moved quickly to Plan “B”, which was calling all our kinfolks who live nearby to find a working oven. 

You’d be surprised at how many folks don’t cook these days. After the third call, we found an oven to use, which saved the day.

Later that evening, Jilda began researching stoves as if she were writing a thesis on culinary preparation. She found a stove that had all the features she wanted. With the swipe of a credit card, the oven was ours.

I contacted our nephew Haven who is a plumber and gas man, so he put us on his work list. An overactive imagination is not a strength in his line of work either.

The next afternoon he knocked on our door and soon we were busy hooking that baby up. 

Most of the installation went off without a hitch. All the burners sprang to life as expected, but when he turned on the oven, something wasn’t right.

All of a sudden I smelled smoke, and it was not the new-oven smell. Something was on fire.

My imagination leapt into action. I was thinking not just house fire, but a conflagration that would level our entire community. I imagined news trucks and helicopters filming the carnage nonstop.

I’d have to notify neighbors, fire departments, and possibly FEMA.

My mind raced, ticking off a list of things that I should try to save. I thought first of getting our dogs to safety, my computer so I could save my data, pictures, music, and all the words I’ve written in the past 50 years, my guitar, and, and, and ....

Haven, on the other hand, realized it was probably something small that had fallen through the cracks near the oven burners.

A few seconds later he took his pliers, reached into a bowels of the oven, fished out a smoldering piece of cardboard about the size of a playing card, and tossed it into the sink.

I felt a little foolish, but thankfully I didn’t mention to Haven all the things that had coursed through my mind. 

But then my imagination stepped in and I realized this little episode would be perfect for this week’s column.

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Imagination a great tool for a writer 

Friday, December 14, 2012


I spent most of the morning in Birmingham doing interviews. Both subjects were delightful. One young man is a sculptor, and the other is a retired doctor who was born in Cuba and fled the country during the Cuban Revolution. She now writes historical fiction.
This evening, I've run out of steam and I think I could tap the letters off the keys and not come up with anything of interest to say.
I'll do better tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

The holidays have been a little squirrelly this year and but today we got the opportunity to pick out a tree. Here is a photo of Jilda doing her Vana White routine, showing off the tree.
We always opt for trees we can plant after Christmas. A stroll around our yard and you will see many of the Christmas trees we've planted through the years. A few of them didn't make it trough our brutal summers, but many of them did.  One of our first trees was a white pine that we planted in 1983 in our front yard. That small tree is now about 50 feet tall.
But we've also had hemlock, cedar, spruce, and a bunch of leyland pines.
I shot a picture of one of the leyland's a few years ago when we got an early December snow. I call it Snow Cyprus.
Our blog buddy and good friend Grandpappy painted a beautiful watercolor of this photograph and sent it to us.
Saturday, we'll put on Christmas music, unpack the ornaments, and decorate the tree. We'll have a little eggnog, eat some fruitcake, and bliss out in front of our tree.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Write Right

I finished my newspaper column today while sitting in the waiting room where Jilda gets her monthly treatments. I rewrote one passage a half dozen times before settling on a revision.
Writing in that environment was challenging at first, but I have an MP3 entitled Focus, which is a recording of white noise that has an underlying frequency oscillation that theoretically helps the brain to focus.
I've read some studies that implies the brainwave technology is a lot of bunk, but this much I know. When I sink earplugs thumb deep into my audial canals, and crank up Focus, it drowns all the sound around me and allows me to write without distraction.
As I was saying, I finished my work and then switched over to Audible where I've been listening to The Successful Novelist by David Morel.
One of the key points Morel pointed out, as I listened today, was that flashbacks in your story are tricky, and should be avoided most of the time.
I stopped the audio, flipped open my laptop and re-read my column. I realized the troublesome passages was a flashback.
This was an eye-opening insight for me, because I often waltz down memory lane and each time I did, it created work that was often disjointed.
It's fine if your writing about a trip down memory lane, but if your writing about now, it can make your writing choppy.
With my newly acquired knowledge, I rewrote my column with a fresh perspective and made the piece much more powerful.
Here's the thing, and I've said this before: To write better, you have to write. There's no getting around this simple fact. That's the reason I write in this blog every day. Even on day's when I'm beat and had rather lick a toad, I write.
I think it's also imperative that you read the people you admire; not to copy them, but to understand what they are doing right so that you can learn to write right.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good Vibrations ~ Pass It On

It's easy to get lost in the noise, especially during an election year when the rhetoric is often mean spirited and divisive.
Even reasonable people have a hard time imagining there's light at the end of the tunnel without it being attached to an oncoming train.
Some new age thinkers say there is a vibration coursing through the Universe, and during times when the level of vibration is low, people tend to feel helpless and almost desperate.
These same thinkers say that Jesus, the Buddha, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa raised the vibration levels around them exponentially when they walked the earth.
I'm sure scientists scoff at this notion, and I'm not sure how much I can buy into, but this much I know.
I've been around people who had such a strong aura of love and compassion, that my spirits were lifted just being near them.
You may be wondering what started me down this path, but Jilda stumbled upon a video this evening that made my heart soar.
I hope you'll consider taking a few minutes to watch a little of it.
I think if you start watching, there's a good chance you'll watch it all. If you do enjoy it, please consider sharing it with someone else who may need a life.
Maybe it will raise the vibration level of the planet just a little.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rainy Weather

I woke up in the early morning hours to the sound of thunder. I laid there with my eyes open for a few minutes and saw another flash of lightening. I silently counted one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, BOOM.
I've always heard that if there's a significant period of time between the flash and the sound of thunder, that the storm is a distance away.
I Googled tonight and found out how to calculate the relationship between lightening and the sound of thunder. As it turns out, it's not an old wives tale.
When a thunderstorm is nearby, you'll see lightening and hear the sound of thunder immediately. It's possible to calculate approximately how far the storm is from you by counting the seconds between the flash and the sound of thunder.
Since sound travels roughly a mile every five seconds, the storm I heard last night was roughly two miles away.
Soon the sound of rain began pounding our metal roof, and it sounded like a cheering crowd off in the distance.
The next time I saw a flash, the time before I heard thunder was slightly longer which I theorized meant the storm was moving away from us. I would have continued with the experiment, but I fell asleep.
This morning as the coffee perked, I opened the front door to let the dogs out. All three of them started to bolt out the door, but then pulled up short when they realized it was raining. What a bunch of wusses, I thought to myself.
It rained for most of the day. I would have stayed inside myself, but I got an order for ten books, so I had to go to the UPS store.
Tonight the rain moved off to the east, but the wind kicked up out of the north and it feels more like winter's approaching, instead of Christmas time in the tropics.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

When Dreams Come True

I've spent time this week making a list of the things I want to accomplish in 2013. Last year (2011) was a strange year.
The violent outbreak of tornadoes knocked the wind out of me, and many of the goals I'd listed only a few months earlier, all of a sudden seemed less important.
I know both Jilda and I suffered from post traumatic stress because we both felt almost as if we were in a daze. The fact we drove through devastation when ever we left home, was a contributing factor.
Since that day, the communities around have made a great deal of progress. There are a lot of new homes around here, and new roofs on old homes.
When I started writing this update, I realized that I didn't write down any goals for 2012. I found that so odd, because I've written down goals religiously for the past 30 years. I made no mention of goals on this blog, nor in my private journal.
I will have some goals for the coming year. I want to grow as a writer, as a musician and performer. I want to make some improvements around the farm, and I want to travel in 2013.
Jilda and I have been working on a new music project for well over a year and I'd really like to make that happen next year.
The trick is to put some timelines and action plans together for what I want to do, otherwise they're just idle dreams. There's nothing wrong with dreaming, but I can tell you from experience, it's much more fun when dreams come true.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Fruit Cake

Last week when we visited friends in Birmingham, one of the desserts served was fruit cake. It was scrumptious.
Some people whine at the mention of fruit cake, but I love it.
My mother made all kinds of fruit cakes during the holidays. One was a no-bake fruit cake using graham crackers and marshmallows. She also made a Franklin Nut Cake.
I hadn't tasted a fruit cake that came anywhere close to my mother's cakes until the one we had last weekend.
Jilda asked for the recipe and the hostess shared it. This morning, we headed out early to the market and bought all the fixin's.
We have company coming tomorrow so we've spent a good bit of time today sprucing up the house, but this evening Jilda decided to make the fruit cake.
Normally when I ask if I can help, Jilda says no. The main reason is because our kitchen is so small that when there's two people in there working, it's more like dancing.
But tonight, she said sure. So I helped cut up the pineapple, dates, pecans, and other stuff. We used the largest bowl we have, but fitting all the stuff in it was a challenge.
We ended up dumping half of it into another bowl, and mixing it slowly before adding more stuff from the second bowl.
After popping that baby in the oven, we had supper and watched A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart. This is probably my favorite version of the Dickens' Classic.
The aroma of that cake kept wafting through the air as thick as summer gardenias. It was all I could do to keep from diving in the oven head first and eating my fill with a fork.
We're saving it until tomorrow, so I'll report back then on how it tastes. I'm confident that my help making it help to put it over the top.

Friday, December 07, 2012

RIP Uncle Marvin

Today is the 71 anniversary of my uncle Marvin Lee Ferguson's death. I remember it because he was on the USS California at Pearl Harbor which was one of the ships that went down on December 7, 1941.
I wasn't born then, but my mom told me her family took it hard. The loss of a son, the world thrown into a war that lasted almost four years, was hard on everyone.
All the pictures that survive of him show him tooling around the islands on a motor scooter, or posing in front of his ship with a crew of his friends. He looked so happy. Any why not? A young guy from one of the poorest states in America, signs his name on the dotted line, and soon he's off to see the world.
He was the youngest boy in a family of 13 kids. My mom was the middle child. She outlived all her siblings but she died this past February.
Last year on this date, when I stopped in for a visit, I asked her about Marvin Lee. She didn't remember a lot of the details, but the memories that came rushing back were painful for her.
Tonight as I write these words, I thought of all the 2402 souls that died in just a few hours there, and all the families that were forever changed.
RIP Uncle Marvin.

USS California sinking at Pearl Harbor

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Dog Stories

Jilda and I headed out for our morning exercise earlier than usual. The oak, hickory, and sweet gum trees have all shed their leaves, so as we passed beneath the ancient trees, our feet sounded as if we were walking on a crunchy carpet that is an unfortunate shade of brown.
The dogs love this time of year. Our neighbor's dog jumped a deer behind the barn, so she and all our dogs were off to the races. The sound of their barking faded as they chased the poor critter into the next county. 
A while later as I tended the chickens, the dogs dragged back into the yard. I heard them panting before they came into view, with tongues hanging from their mouths like leather straps.
I have an old aluminum dishpan in the back yard that I fill with fresh water each day. They drank the pan dry.
It occurred to me that if dogs could talk in a language we could understand, what stories they could tell.
Our dogs are well behaved, for the most part, so we give them a lot of space. 
Walking is a daily routine for us, so they're accustomed to being free-range dogs. When the walking is done, they are low maintenance for the rest of the day because they collapse on the carpet and sleep.
My mother was against dogs in the house, and she could never understand why we allowed it. That's OK with me. 
We've never had children, so our mutts are important to us, and I never felt the need to justify that with anyone.
I hope when our critters move on to the next level they say, "You would not believe how much fun we had with our people."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Voyager 1

If you ever get to thinking you're clever, consider this. American scientists on September 5, 1977 (Carter was in the White House), launched a space probe called Voyager I into space. Voyager II launched seventeen days earlier on August 20, but it had a different mission so it dallied around Jupiter and Saturn long enough to give Voyager I a head start.
The simple act of getting something that size off the ground boggles my mind, but news articles coming out this week report that Voyager I is zipping through the outermost edges of or solar system at 35,700 miles an hour, sensing solar winds, and the magnetic attraction of deep space. It's still sending information back to earth on its journey. It takes the signals 17 hours to reach earth.
I can almost hear the smart guys with long sideburns wearing bellbottoms, kicking this idea around over a few beers. "Hey, why don't we send a spacecraft out to Jupiter and maybe check out the rings around Saturn." To which one of his smart buddys would say, that's a great idea," as he swilled another beer and shoved a few more peanuts into his mouth.
I read a piece today that said Voyager I is 11 billion miles from the sun. Who would have thought it?

While I'm writing about space and what not, I came across this video that's based on something Carl Segan wrote. It's a short (4 minute) video that blew me away.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Congratulations to my Lovely Spouse

When Jilda sat down at her computer tonight, her fingers started dancing on the keyboard. I barely had a chance to settle in at my computer and all that tapping was a little distracting.
She usually starts much slower, looking for quotes, pictures, or some other prompt, before hitting her stride.
When I mentioned that she was off and running tonight, she pointed out that she hit the milestone tonight. She wrote her 1000th post.
I had been writing my blog for years before she started. I'd disappear into our office to write and she'd sit in the great room reading. I encouraged her to do a blog because I knew she had something to say, but for the longest, she never took an interest.
Then in April of 2010 she was ready. She asked me to show her how it worked. I set her up a Blogger account and after a few minutes, she was hooked. She started off tentatively, but daily writing grows on you.
She's always written well, but her style and voice have improved dramatically. These days whenever we travel, she always makes sure we're booked at a place which has wifi so we can write in our blogs.
I'm very proud of her. If you've never visited her blog, stop by and have a look. I think you'll be happy you did.

Transformation Information

Monday, December 03, 2012

Aging Gracefully ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

It’s tough getting older. When I look in the mirror, I see the face of an 18-year-old kid blasting down the highway in a 1965 Impala SS with windows rolled down, my hair blowing wildly in the wind, and the music so loud that people in the next county could sing along if they chose.

Of course, if I looked closely enough, I’d realize my beard is now gray as wood ash, and my hair went south with the geese years ago.

But even so, I don’t feel that old. I had some support on this view this past week when I signed books on Black Friday. Several people came up to me and said, “You’re younger than I thought you were.” 

While saying “thank you, I’m flattered,” my mind wrestled with what they said, trying to decode the message.

Either I write like I’m really old, or the picture we use in the Daily Mountain Eagle does not do me justice. I can fix the picture, but trying to get more hip in my writing style might be more of a challenge. 

If I’d been clever, I would have asked why they thought I was older, and the path forward would have been simpler.

Fast forward to this weekend: Jilda and I have been saving to build an addition onto our house. We want a small sunroom on one end with a basement/storm shelter underneath.

These days when a bad cloud comes up, we round our critters up and head to my bathroom with pillows around our heads. So a storm shelter would be a welcome addition. 

While discussing what else we’d like, I suggested expanding her bathroom and perhaps installing a garden tub with a Jacuzzi. 

We were driving down the road somewhere between Sipsey and Jasper when I made this suggestion. I’d just taken a sip of tea, when Jilda said, “At our age, it might be better to install wheelchair ramps and a shower with a door wide enough for a walker.” 

I spewed tea all over the dashboard and laughed so hard I almost choked.

Her humor is often subtle and it sneaks up on me at inopportune moments. 

I gained my composure, and I took a napkin from the glove box and wiped off the speedometer and steering wheel. 

What she said was hilarious, but it was also right on the mark. We have friends our age who have houses so high off the ground that you’d need a forklift to get them inside once their knees go.

Aging is not for wimps, and there are no manuals. We’ve taken good care of ourselves. We eat right, for the most part, we exercise daily, we wear our seat belts, and do everything in moderation. Good Lord willing, we could live another 30 years.

And while I’d like to think that we’ll still be frolicking together in a Jacuzzi at 90, truth is, it would be much better to be able to take a shower even if I did have to lean on a walker.

Aging, it’s something to think about.

Books By Rick Watson

Life Happens ~ Enjoy the Ride, like Rick's first book Remembering Big, is a compilation of short essays take from his best newspaper columns over the past few years.
His work has been described as humorous, poignant, and uplifting. Rick says his goal is to leave readers with a smile on their face.
"There's a news overload these days and every time you pick up a paper or turn on the TV, there's more bad news," he says. "I'd like readers to take a respite from bad news when they read my work."

Remembering Big ~ Ponderings & Reflections of a Sloss Holler Scholar hit the racks in autumn of 2008.

Click here to see Rick's Profile on Amazon.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Happy Blogerversary

Tonight, as I tried to think of a subject to write about, it occurred to me that I wrote my first blog entry on December 2, 2005. So tonight I celebrate my seventh bloggerversary.
You can probably tell by the name that the blog started out as an extension of my work on
It's an alumni website for my old high school and I thought a blog would be a great way to write for the people who frequently visited my website.
As it turns out, it quickly evolved into a personal journal where I shared my goals, dreams, and other stuff that happened to me from day to day.
At first, only local people visited. But then something interesting happened. I picked up followers in Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, and all across America.
I'm not positive, but I think most of my followers now are people who live in places other than Walker County, Alabama.
The longer I wrote, the more confident I became, so I approached the local daily paper and asked to write a weekly column.
The editor at the time was kind, but he wasn't very encouraging. He said the papers had tried local people in the past without much luck. "Most people are excited at first, but after a few weeks, they usually begin missing deadlines, before long, they quit altogether," he explained.
He told me that writing a weekly column took a great deal of dedication.
I'd anticipated his reluctance and was prepared. Since I'd been writing a daily blog for over two years, I had a year's worth of columns written. I took 10 samples for him to look at.
He called the next day and told me they'd give me a shot. That was in January of 2007.
My first book Remembering Big was comprised of 50 of the best columns. My second book which hit the market in September of this year has 50 more columns.
I wrote all this to say that blogging is a tool. Whenever an aspiring writer comes up to me and asks how to get started, I always tell them to blog. Blogging builds discipline, and hones skills.
Of course you have to also study the craft, and read the work of people who are better than you. It's a tired cliche', but writing is a journey. The more I learn about the craft, the more I realize I don't know squat.
But here I am, on my seventh blogerversary pecking away on my keyboard. On my phone, I'm listening to "The Successful Novelist".
Looking back I can see that I've come a long way, but when I look ahead I see I have a long way to go.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


My head is pounding like a kettle drum being whacked by a drummer cranked up on diet pills and Mountain Dew.
I know most of you who live outside the south probably think we're crazy to get so excited about college football, but I can't help myself.
I have a theory.
My homestate of Alabama is a strange and wonderful place. We're last (or first in the bad categories) in practically every economical, social, educational, and physical statistic that's ever been measured.
We have one of the highest high school dropout rates, infant mortality rates, we are some of the most obese people on the planet, and we talk funny.
There are a few things we're good at. Even thought we fall very low on the per capata income, Alabama is one of the most generous states in America. We donate a lot to charity.
We are also good a college football. So for a few month in the fall, we don't suck. Alabama is not alone here. Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky always play their hearts out.
Tonight, Alabama played Georgia in the South Eastern Conference championship game. It was a nail-biter until the very end. Both teams deserved to win this one, but Alabama prevailed, and will face Notre Dame in January for the National Championship. Alabama won last year. It wasn't the first time. We won in 2009 too. In fact, the school has won 14 national championships in football since 1892.
The Tide is one game away from #15. I'm sure Notre Dame has other ideas, but tonight we're celebrating in the tiny community of Empire, Alabama.
Our football team did us proud tonight.

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required