Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Smart Kids

Our great nephew Jordan took his first SAT test this past weekend. He came over and walked with us Sunday afternoon. He's in the fifth grade. I'm not sure I could spell SAT when I was in the fifth grade.

He's never made a B on his report card. When I asked him about the test, he shrugged and said the reading was easy. The math was hard. He won't know his scores until March. I'd be willing to bet he did well on the test. 

I asked where he wanted to go to college. Without missing a beat, he said Yale. If someone had mentioned Yale to me in the fifth grade, I would have told them that's what my mama does when she's really mad.

If he does get a scholarship there, Jilda and I have already decided to rent our house out here and rent an apartment in New Haven, Connecticut.  

On the last lap of our walk, I raced him up the hill. That was a joke. He was up the hill in a flash and had climbed the magic tree in the front yard to wait for me. 

I'm glad we have smart kids coming along behind us. We'll need some smart kids to keep the wheels on the earth bus.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Telling storiesThis

One of my favorite radio shows when I was a kid was Paul Harvey. He knew how to find good stories and how to tell ‘em. I’ve learned, there are stories all around us if we take the time to look and listen.
Last summer when the mercury had very little room at the top of the thermometer, Jilda and I needed a few groceries and reprieve from the heat, so we headed to Walmart.  
The tiara lady smiled and greeted us as we walked in. She’s been greeting customers for years. She always makes me smile, even when I don’t feel like it.
As we strolled around the store, Jilda said, “A story about the Tiara Lady would be a good story for the paper.” On the way out, I stepped over and asked the tiara lady if she would consider letting me interview her for the Mountain Eagle. She wasn’t sure anyone would want to read about her story, but she agreed. 
We’d always called her the tiara lady because every time you saw her, she was wearing a tiara to greet customers. Her name is Marlene Williams Young.
I made an appointment with her for a few days later and took my camera. We spent a few minutes talking. She told me some great stories, and I snapped a few tiara photos.
The story appeared in the paper in July and went viral. It was shared over 12,00 times on Facebook and thousands of people read her story.
The CEO of Walmart sent Young a private message on Facebook thanking her for taking such good care of Walmart customers.
Someone from People of Alabama saw my article and contacted her about doing a segment. Since the release of that clip, over a million people have viewed her story. People have asked for her autograph. I’m guessing this story changed her life.
The same month I interviewed the tiara lady, I came across another story idea while driving home. A painted rock in the yard of an older gentleman piqued my curiosity. I’d seen the rock a hundred times, but that day I SAW it. 
Glancing into the yard, I saw the man sitting in the shade with his dogs at his feet. I flipped on my blinker and turned into his drive.
When I asked if he would consider letting me do an interview, he said, “Sure, sit down a spell.” We talked for over an hour. 
His name was Drennen Baggett, and he was 91 years old. He told me he had Native American blood flowing through his veins. Baggett had led a colorful life. 
When I asked him about the painted rock in his yard, he told me the story.
One day while sitting in his shady resting place, he looked at the rock from a distance and thought, “I could paint me an Indian chief with his war bonnet on that rock,” Baggett said.  He went to Walmart and bought enough paint to do the job.  
Baggett had defied death a number of times, but he fell ill not long after the story appeared in the paper.
His daughter told me that he had framed the article that ran in the paper and kept it by his bed. I got word that Mr. Baggett died on December 30. 
I know I’m not Paul Harvey, but I thankful I have an opportunity to tell the stories of some amazing people.

This was the sky tonight as we headed to yoga.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Without my help

Today, I rested. It's rare that I have a day without a ton on my calendar. There was stuff I could have done, but I decided to let it wait.

Strangely enough, the wind still blew, the birds still dined at our feeders, and tonight the full moon rose. All without my help.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

No much to say

I choose to post a picture tonight in lieu of words. Sorry. I'm whupped.  I'll do better tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Chicken trauma

An owl got one of our chickens yesterday. Chickens are vulnerable to a number of predators. Weasels, opossums, raccoons, and hawks.

I know it was an owl because yesterday afternoon right at dark, I heard the chickens. That's rare with these chickens. They are hens and so they don't crow at daybreak like roosters.

When I stepped down to check on them, an owl was in their coop eating corn from their feeders. Once the owl saw me, it flew up to a low branch of a nearby sweet gum tree and observed me.

After putting the chickens into their coop and latching the door, I stepped back inside my house for my BB gun.  I didn't want to hurt the owl but I wanted him to know I was unhappy. I fired several times into the tree. One of the shots must have gotten close because he flew away.

I'm on call at the paper, but Sunday I plan to put up netting which is a deterrent for hawks and owls.

On the lighter side, Jilda and I went to one of our favorite restaurants tonight. The food was off the charts. The paper had given me a gift certificate to this restaurant for Christmas and it seemed like a perfect time to use it.

The only pictures I took today were of more moss and lichen. Heading into the archives, I found this picture of sparrows munching birdseed off the back deck banister. I love these little critters and they would never hurt my chickens.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lichen bouquet

We walked in the rain today. Normally, the dogs are ecstatic, but today I think they wished they had sweaters. 

On the first lap, I noticed what looked like a bouquet on the ground. It was a beautiful piece that had fallen off of one of the dead limbs on the ancient oak down by the barn. The limb it fell from once had a tire swing attached to it.

The swing has been gone for years but you can still see where the cable attached near the trunk.

Years of swinging children rubbed the bark off the limb where the cable was attached. The oak is so noble, it holds on to its limbs as long as possible.

You can see lichen growing on the limb. When I saw the lichen bouquet this morning, it didn't touch it. I wasn't sure if it was toxic. Neither was I sure if it was harmful to the tree.

I did a Google search a few minutes ago and found that there is nothing to fear.

The bark of trees such as the live oak provides a stable surface for lichen growth. Lichens may, in fact, help live oaks by discouraging insects and fungi. The long strands of lichen provide nest-building material for birds, as well as camouflage from predators.

I was so happy to read this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Green velvet

The walk this morning was "chillified" as my grandmother might have said. The sun was out, but the wind out of the north punched a hole through my sweat pants and shirt. It made me glad I'd put my gloves in my pocket before heading out.

I was a bit distracted because I had no clue what my column for Sunday's paper would be. As much as I preach the Be Here Now sermon, I was not there during the first part of my walk. 

Then on the second lap, I looked to the side of the barn road and saw a tree the wind had blown across the road years ago. We chainsawed it away from the road but left part of it in the hollow. The end closest to the road is the one I saw.

Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture. I know my lovely spouse will call me a copycat because she took moss pictures earlier in the week, but since the green velvet of moss is about the only color now, it ends up being a frequent subject of our pictures.

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