Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I'm learning some new things on the computer. Jilda teaches Yoga and she ends every session with a 10 minute meditation. There's something about the quality of her voice that is very soothing. She has been asked a number of times to record her voice so that people can use it to wind down at night before going to bed.
I had been reading about podcasting. It's a new way to deliver both audio and video not only to the computer but to portable mp3 players. Thus the name Podcast. It's a new way for busy people to listen to their favorite content "when" they want to hear it.
They subscribe to Podcasts and their computer notifies them whenever a new Podcast to which they subscribe is available. They download it and when the plug their iPod or mp3 player in, the content goes to that device which allows them to listen any time they choose.
A lot of Podcasts are like news programs, radio shows, or other things that one might enjoy hearing. You can have your own radio show and Podcast from anywhere on the planet that has an internet connection.
If I wanted to have my own radio show with the music I love, I could line up the songs in mp3 format and record my voice just like a DJ might do. I then make these recorded programs available on this blog or maybe a website, and people would subscribe (if they like what I'm doing) listen on the go.
It's a fascinating phenomena. What's even more fascinating is how easy it is. I'm no computer programmer, I just hack my way through most of the time.
Learning new stuff is fun to me. Be on the lookout for Jilda's meditations or maybe Rick's audio blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Truth

Jilda sent me a quote yesterday that says:
"Lies are only lies if you believe them.
.....Truth is still the truth even if you don't believe it."
I have to watch myself because it's easy to get caught up in emotion. I have very strong feelings about politics, the war, the president, religion, personal rights, and many other left leaning ideals.
I get a lot of emails that conflict with my beliefs and there was a time I allowed myself to become angry and I would fire off missives explaining just how wrong the views of the sender were....and when I received emails that supported my views I wanted so badly to believe that they were true....but I've learned that more times than not when you check out the details on one of the Urban Legend websites, the emails are simply untrue. If an email makes you angry, there's a good chance it's a lie.
In our country there seems to be a great divide. Not only between the liberals and the conservatives but between the have and the have nots. Between the people born here and the people who come here looking for opportunity.
I think that we are being ruled by fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of aliens, of blacks, of whites, of gays, of the religious right, of the Godless infidels, of anyone who doesn't look and think like us. We don't like Yankees, rednecks, goths or geeks.....or those skinny tattooed guys with shaved heads and pants that show their underwear.
The truth is, we're all living in a garden. I don't think the Good Lord made mistakes. I believe that our challenge in our journey through this life is to learn how to live together. To be slow to judge and quick to forgive. To love our neighbors in spite of their political leanings or sexual orientation. To take only what we need to live our lives fully and to help those less leave the earth a better place for us having been here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Flow

I can't really explain "The Flow" but I always know when I'm in it. When I'm writing, the words and images flow smoothly and ideas seem to come from nowhere. I read a book about this a few years ago entitled "Flow." It was written by psychologist - Mihaly Csicszentmihalyi (the first name is pronounced Mee-hil and the last name is pronounced Check-sent-mee-hil) . The idea is that when you are in "flow" you are in a place where time does not exist and thought can be media rich with words, sounds, fragrance, and images. Athletes who experience this phenomenon say that the level of focus and concentration is heightened and in the case of baseball hitters, or tennis players, it is as if the ball slows down. They are able to make connection like never before.
Artists, writers, and musicians report that they feel super creative and are able to make connections in unique and interesting ways.
In the book "Flow" he gives some suggestions about how to attain "Flow" but I can tell you it is easier to talk about than to actually attain the state of flow. He suggests that the next time you attain "flow" to be mindful of your thoughts, the feeling in the pit of your stomach, the way you are breathing....try to take a mental snapshot and save it so that you can go back later and relive that moment.
I remember the first time I ever played air hockey on a table similar to a pool table. There was a "jock" there that was the reigning champ and he challenged me to a game...I guess so that he could slaughter me and amuse his trophy girlfriend.
I was a little slow at first and he jumped ahead. Most everyone counted me out, but I somehow got into the flow and it seemed like that little puck was in slow motion. I came back and won the game. I know it was ego, but I was elated...the jock didn't share in my elation and made an early departure without so much as a goodbye.
I can tell you this; if there was some way to capture that feeling and enter the state of flow at will, there would be no limit to the things you could do.
If you've ever experienced what I'm describing, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.
Post a comment.
I hope you had a good Memorial Day

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday Afternoons

We put the finishing touches on the yard this morning before our company arrived. Our deck looks like a botanical garden with herbs, flowers, vegetables, and trees. Looking down from the deck towards the barn, there is a mimosa tree. They are in bloom now and the flowers look like pink parachutes hi-lighted by the setting sun. Jilda said that as a child she would get the blossoms and touch them to her face like a powder puff.
My sister-in-law Pat brought her three year-old grandson Jerred with her today. He lives in the city and has a yard smaller than our flower bed. Jarred hit the ground running when he saw our yard. He had a truck and he must have put fifty miles on those small wheels while we were grilling out. His face got red as a beet so after he had mined all the rocks in our yard, I called him over to the container garden and was showing him the squash. He looked at me as if to say "why are you showing me this stuff?" but then I hit him with the cool shower spray from the garden hose. I transported him with a few drops of water straight to heaven. He ran like crazy and then wheeled around to say you can't spray I hit him again. He laughed till he lost his breath. He kept coming back wanting the hose. I'm guessing he wanted to share the fun with grandma Pat, but I kept it between us.
There is something about Sunday afternoons. It doesn't take a lot of money, gas, time, or trouble to invite a few folks over, fire up the old charcoal grill to burn a few dogs and have a great time. I wish I had known this when I was younger. I was always looking for the "action" when the truth is, the "action" is where ever YOU are. Life is what you make it.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. If you know a veteran take a moment to say thank you. If you have never been in the military or ever been to war, you cannot fathom what they have been through or are going through. We owe a debt to them that we can never repay.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Things That Last

We have company coming tomorrow for dinner so I spent a large part of the day doing spring maintenance. I cut the grass and pulled weeds but I also painted our Adirondack chairs and the Wrought Iron tables and chairs. The Wrought Iron stuff has been a great investment. We bought them before we got married over thirty years ago and used them as our dining room at the trailer. They've been sitting on our deck for the past fifteen years and today after a fresh coat of paint, they look as good as new.
On the other hand, I bought a mop at Wal-Mart a while back and the other day when I retrieved the mop from our deck, part of the handle fell off. It was fairly inexpensive because like most stuff sold at Wal-Mart it was made in China but when you consider we only used the mop about four times the cost per use is considerable for a mop.
I got on the internet and located the Fuller Brush Company. I found a mop and it was more expensive. I wondered if their stuff is made in China I sent them an email. They promptly sent me a note back to say that all of their products are made in America. They did confess that they sometimes gave away promotional gifts and there's a chance that some of those items could be made in China.
I ordered a mop and a broom. Now they are still quite new so I can't say with certainty that they will last longer, but I would be willing to bet that I'll get tired of looking at them before I wear them out.
I'm not sure at all how much "paying less" is actually costing America. The giant super store has been in the news lately for forcing the profit margins of suppliers so low that they suppliers cannot afford to manufacture goods here. If they want to keep the Wal-Mart business, they have to make their stuff off-shore. The people who were employed making those goods are now looking for a job. The president says that the outsourcing of jobs is good for the global economy and good for America....but I have to wonder what they guy in the unemployment line thinks. I also have to wonder if paying a few bucks less for a pair of jeans is worth his pain. I wonder if anyone on capitol hill has ever wondered where their next meal will come from?
Well, I started out lite talking about spring maintenance and then got heavy. That was not my intention....but I do intend to start looking for things that last, even if that means paying a little more.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Prince Albert in a Can

I'm showing my age here, but you once could buy tobacco for cigarettes that your rolled by hand and one of the most popular brands was Prince Albert. You could get the tobacco in a small cotton pouch with draw strings or you could get it in a colorful red can that was flat and had a flip top. I guess it was so that you could put the can in your pocket and roll you up a cig anytime you liked. I never smoked a cigarette in my life and I only mention this because of a childhood phone prank that we used to play.
Long before caller ID and other modern gadgets, kids used to have great fun doing phone pranks.
"Hello Ma'm, is your refrigerator running?" The woman on the other end would say "well yes." Then we'd say "well you better go catch it before it runs away." Then we'd hang up the phone and laugh until we cried.
Joe called Albritton's store in Old Dora and asked "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?" "Yes, Mr. Albritton said proudly." "Well you better you better let him out before he smothers to death." Again we'd be on the floor rolling.
Someone got the bright idea to play one on Mrs. Hodges. She lived across the gravel road next to the Parkers. It was in the summer time and everyone kept their doors open to keep the house cool. When Mrs. Hodges answered the phone another one of my friends said "Mrs. Hodges I'm with the phone company and we just added about ten feet to your phone line and we'll need you to pull the slack through the wall." Her phone sat right next to the front door and we could see her standing there. She laid the phone down and took hold of the phone cord with both hands pulled it right out of the wall. The next thing we heard was dial tone as her phone connection went dead. We laughed harder than ever....we thought we were sooooo clever but our phone was near our front door too and as fate would have it, she heard us laughing. The next thing we heard was the slap of her screen door closing and she came storming across the road toward our house. The laughter evaporated quickly. She started calling my mother's name when she got to the road...Elwanda....Elwanda.....I need to talk to you. We headed out of the house quickly and passed my mother coming in the back door. She'd been out washing clothes on the back porch and hanging them out to dry on the clothes line in the back yard.
Mrs. Hodges stated her case quickly because it wasn't but a few minutes I could hear my mother calling my name. I knew what was coming and I knew it would not be nearly as much fun as we'd had on the phone. Not only did I get my legs striped with a keen hickory switch, but I was also Mrs. Hodges' personal slave the rest of the summer. I weeded her flower bed, painted her porch, walked to Dora to get her some bread and a million other tasks.
I paid for the prank all summer.
I've heard it said that "fun ain't cheap." That is true, but I still get a smile on my face when I think back to those days and those corny phone pranks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Acoustic Cafe

My friend Steve Masterson loves music as much as anyone I know. He decided several years ago to do a music festival at his house. He started out in mid 90's...I think Norman Blake played. This is a remarkable festival that has been kept small by design.
First time visitors come for the music but upon arrival at Steve's house, they fall in love with the land. It's nestled in the hills of North Alabama between Hayden and Blount Springs and the natural beauty is stunning with large limestone rocks, wild flowers, and trees. The music area is designed to fit the lay of the land. There's not a bad seat in the house as the area in front of the stage is situated in a natural amphitheatre. The place has good feng shui as well as good Karma.
Camping is free. If you camp in a tent, you can get there and find a great spot anywhere you like. If you're in a motor home, or trailer you'll have to park in the field at the bottom of the hill. There are no hook-ups but then camping is free. There is also a shuttle that runs up and down the hill to ferry people back and forth between the stage and the camping/parking area.
Be sure to bring a blanket or chairs to sit on, but you'll need to leave your dogs at home. Steve is very mindful of safety and the environment so he prefers that you not bring glass to the festival.
This years festival will kick off on Friday May 26th with
7:00 The Kudzu String Band
8:00 The Mayhem String Band
9:00 The Red Stick Ramblers
On Saturday May 27th
1:30 The Dread Clampet Band
3:17 a John Hartford Tribute
4:30 Allen Shadd & A Cut Above
5:15 The Lovell Sisters
6:25 The Herb Trotman Band
7:30 Brennen Leigh
8:00 Dread Clampett Band
9:15 Brennen Leigh
9:45 The Way Backs
Do yourself a favor and experience The Acoustic Cafe. Be forewarned, it will be love at first sight.
Visit the website at

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I worked from home today and after I finished for the day, Jilda and I talked about dinner. We decided on some fresh vegetables. Our plan required that we go off in two different directions. She went south to Jolly Cholly's in Sumiton to pick up ears of corn, yellow crook-necked squash and fresh spinach. I drove north to Warrior to pick up a bottle of Merlot and a movie. Of course I had to get a Slim Jim for Ol' Buddy but when I started back, I decided to take the long way home. I got on the interstate and headed up to the Hayden exit a few miles away and turned back south on county road 160.
There was no particular reason, just a change of scenery. A few miles down that road I came upon a sign for Rickwood Caverns. On impulse I turned west on the Rickwood Caverns Road and drove slowly taking in the new landscape. The vegetation is similar to our community, but there are some vista's of the foothills that alone were worth the detour. I rounded a curve and it looked as if I could see forever. In the sky was a jetliner as small as a mosquito that left a vapor trail that looked like a row of cotton planted on a powder blue field.
Even thought Rickwood Caverns is less that ten miles from my house, I had never been there. It's one of the smallest state parks and is closed in winter but they're open now and I whipped in to have a look and pick up a brochure. It was beautiful. The grounds look like a well maintained golf course. There were young folks everywhere picking up, weed eating, and cleaning the pool. Everyone I passed looked up to smile and wave. I felt like a friend.
The park has picnic areas, grills, hiking trails, playgrounds and large pavilions. There is also a "miracle mile" of underground caverns. "These magnificent passages and beautifully lighted rooms are accented with thousands of sparkling limestone formations. The caverns themselves were water-formed during the Mississippian period over 260 million years ago. The photographic opportunities are exceptional in the cavern so don't forget your camera".
The park has an abundance of large limestone older than the dinosaurs.
I brought the brochures home and we are planning an outing to Rickwood to tour the caverns and walk the trails and eat a picnic lunch under the green awning of oak and pine.
Yogi Berra once said "you can observe a lot just by watching".I hope I always have the good sense to be watchful.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Already Gone

A few weeks ago we discovered a Cardinal's nest in our fuchsia plant just outside our window. I went in for a closer look a few days later and there were two small grey speckled eggs about the size of the end of your thumb.
Several days ago we noticed a flurry of activity at the nest as the mamma and daddy flew in and out. I sneaked out and peaked in the nest a there were two tiny Cardinals "not as big as a minute," as my grandmother has said. I had planned to photograph the little critters to post on the blog but when I went out today, they had already flown off to make their own way.
Things move at the speed of life and if you blink your eyes for a moment, things have passed you by. I've heard people with children express this same sentiment. One moment you are holding them like a tiny teddy bear and the next moment they are walking down the isle with a diploma in hand and all you're left with is a box of photographs and an sea of memories. The good part, they say, is that when your children have children, you are clever enough to pay close savor every moment and spoil them in ways that you never had the time to do when they themselves were children.
I hope the baby Cardinals come back next year to lay eggs by our front window. I promise to pay closer attention.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Magic of Twilight

The Sumiton Community Center faces the west and coming out of yoga class tonight the sun was setting behind charcoal clouds. The outer edge of the clouds were outlined with a golden thread of light. The sky beyond was mauve, burnt orange and other colors you could only find on the palette of an impressionist painter. Quite a show I must say.
There is something about twilight that is almost magical. Most birds and squirrels are scurrying around getting settled for the evening. Carlos Castaneda, the enigmatic author who wrote extensively of the Yaki Indians of Mexico said that twilight was the most power time of day...just before waning light of day gives into the darkness.
When we went to Las Vegas a few years ago we stayed at Bally's Hotel and Casino. It is connected to Paris Las Vegas hotel with a tunnel-like building that is painted the color of twilight. No matter what time of day or night you walk through this area, it looks like you should be able to see lightning bugs.
One night while we were there it was about 3 a.m. and I was running out of steam. As we walked through the Paris area, I got a boost of energy. It was like I was a young man getting ready to go out on a date for the evening. I stayed up the rest of then night but then I crashed hard the next morning.
As I think back on that experience just now, I realized that it is no accident that Paris is painted that way. Somebody understood that there is indeed something magical about twilight.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Jilda and planted a few cloves of garlic several years ago. We thought we'd have a few cloves to use for cooking. The first year, every clove we planted grew beautiful plants. When they put out their mauve blossoms we dug up about eight bulbs which contained the cloves.
We were thrilled.
The following year we got busy and didn't buy more cloves to plant. The next spring, quite unexpectedly, new garlic plants peeked up and began to grow. This time we had several more plants than we originally planted. Since then our crop has increased each year.
This morning as we sat on the deck drinking our coffee, the sun rose up bright out of the east. The warm weather of last few days coaxed the garlic blossoms out in full. After breakfast I got a shovel and dug up our harvest which was the biggest ever.
You could smell the pungent aroma as Jilda cut the bulbs from the onion like stems.
I can't wait to have some spaghetti with garlic bread.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Graduation Day

Graduation day is next week at my old high school alma mater. Graduation day for me, May 24th 1968, was filled with not only excitement, relief, and expectation, but also a touch of an inexplicable sadness. The first three emotions I had been experiencing for weeks, but it took a while to figure out from where the sadness was coming. As all my friends and I were scurrying around doing last minute signing of yearbooks and saying goodbye, it finally dawned on me that I was about to move out of a very important phase of my young life. I would never pass this way again.
I know a lot of people have tortured feelings about high school, but I loved it. I was surrounded by my friends many of which seemed more like family. But I was also surrounded by loving teachers who had invested a great deal of their time and energy over the past several years just to make it possible for me to have a shot in this old world. I didn't have a clue what was coming, but I think they did. They encouraged me to dream large. It is a lesson that was not lost on me.
Another amazing thing happened on May 20th was my first date with Jilda Phillips. I had been dating her best friend Marcia Mitchell but things went south and Jilda was there for me. It seemed only natural that I ask her to be there that night. I know for a fact that she has questioned many times, the wisdom of her decision to go out with me but I am so glad she did. I can't imagine my life without
No one asked, but I think I'll provide a little unsolicited advice for the Class of 2006 -- things that have served me well. I hope they take what they can use and discard what doesn't fit.
It's not imperative that you know right now what you want to be in life. I know your parents might disagree but I think it's important to spend some quality time asking questions. College is a good place to start. Don't dodge the hard classes but don't be afraid to take some courses in which you are interested. Astronomy, art and music can be quite rewarding and can send you in unexpected and interesting directions.
Make it a practice to read; you'll discover that books have a lot to offer and they are one of the simple pleasures of life. Every now and then, take the long way home. Shoot a lot of pictures. Keep in touch with your old friends. Learn to cook, you cannot imagine how much fun it is to have folks over to share a good meal.
NEVER stop exercising. Know this: every day is a school day. Just because you no longer are "in school" does not mean that your education ends. When you close your mind, you stop growing....when you stop growing, experiencing new things and enjoying life, you become old before your time.
One last thing: the best job for you might not mean the job that pays the most money. Money is great, but if you hate what you do, you will not be doing what you were put here to do. Go forth, do something remarkable, and make a difference.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Swing Nap

Jilda's family met today to work around her mom's house getting it ready to sell. We got down there early and like a swarm of bees we went to work cutting grass, weedeating, cutting back shrubs and bushes. Jilda and her sister began inside and spent a great of time throwing stuff away but every item was a decision. What to keep, what to throw away? Their progress was measured in tears because the bruise is still fresh.
We finished in the yard and were waiting on my niece to bring lunch so I took an opportunity to lie down in Ruby's old yard swing. By mid-day it was moderately warm with a nice breeze out of the northwest. I looked up through the maple tree at the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves. Blue Jays were not happy that I was there, perhaps because I was in "their space" but I let them fuss as I drifted off to sleep.
I can sleep in a hurricane. I got that gene from my dad who was also an avid napper. On holidays in Sharky and Ruby's living room, the place was a madhouse but I could sit in that recliner and engage the sound reduction device in my head and off I went.
Today however, I woke up when I smelled fried chicken and heard my niece "oh, just let him sleep." Not a chance because the only thing I like better than napping is eating.
The house will be ready for sale in a couple of weeks. If anyone knows someone who would like a nice house on Hull Road in Sumiton with tons of flowers, trees, and a lot of good memories, just give us a call.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Strip Pits

I've lived around what I call slate dumps almost all my life. These are a byproduct of strip mining and for many years, mining operators cut the timber, raped the land and left what resembles a moonscape in our little Garden of Eden. They left gouged out holes that over time filled up with rainwater and in some cases served as swimming holes for rambling youths.
Most of the time these swimming holes were fairly clean and safe except for the occasional cottonmouth moccasin that took up residence there but sometimes they were tragedies waiting to happen.
There is no telling how many people have drown in these strip pits. When I was in high school, one of the Jenkins boys dove off a rock on the bank and broke his neck. He didn't drown, but he never walked again.
The only thing that seemed to grow on this land was short gnarly scrub pines and cottonwoods. Top soil was non-existent so the prospects for this infertile land were scant.
Strip mining technology improved and machines as big as buildings were able to dig faster and deeper. The government got involved at one point and passed a law that required mine operators to reclaim land but you can always spot property that has been stripped.
When I started to Jefferson State Community College in the fall of 68, there was a farm near Partridge Crossroads that must have been a thousand acre spread. The old farm house was kept in immaculate condition and they had a white fence that followed the road all the way to Buck-Short Bridge. Inside the fence were cows, horses and mules. The place looked like a picture. Early one morning when I was driving to school a buck deer jumped that fence where it had been feeding with the cattle and almost jumped on the hood of my car. It was a picture perfect moment. I did have to stop down the road and check my pants.
When the old man died, I guess the kids didn't love that place as much as I did so they sold it to a coal company who stripped it bare. It was hard for me to drive by there afterwards.
The tortured land lay in ruins for years until the recent spike in gas prices. Traditionally when gas prices go up, there is renewed interest in coal. With the newer technology and mammoth machines, they were able to dig even more coal that was missed the first go around.
The difference now is that they are required to reclaim the land. I know that it will never be as it once was, but today for the first time you could see it being worked back into rolling hills.
Maybe one day Mother Earth will start her arduous task of converting it back to a garden.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Still Here

I still have a job and for that I'm thankful. There are others who do not. My heart goes out to them. When I read back over the entry today, it occurred to me that my boss, who is a good friend of mine could think that what I wrote was direct at him. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Being in his position and having to carry out corporate directives cannot be easy. He looks as if he has aged over the last few weeks.
My frustration is with the direction our country is taking in general. President Bush says that sending our jobs off shore to China and India is a good thing for the global economy. Wal-Mart is one of China's largest trading partners...larger than some small countries. The things that we once made to sell in Wal-Mart now come from China.
Our company like so many others, is sending jobs over seas. The reason they say is because other companies are doing it, so if we are going to be competitive we have to "best shore" too. Everyone has to please Wall Street.
What I'd like to see is the head of our company say "you know what?" We aren't going to make it a policy to send our jobs over seas. Yes, employing Americans may cost a little more, but if you need help on the phone with your computer you can understand what our people are saying. We are smart and we know our customers. Our service is superior. If you buy a superior car or washing machine, you expect to pay a little more.
I realize that the business environment today is like no other time in history and that very difficult decisions are being made every day. My view is probably simplistic but I don't think I'm alone.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tomorrow Will Be A Sad Day

When I go to work tomorrow morning many of my friends and co-workers will not be there - they will have been notified that they no longer have a job. Victims of corporate downsizing.
You see, a few weeks ago our company announced their quarterly earnings and while we made more money than we made for the same time last year, our profits were steady so the analysts were upset and our stock dropped slightly. So the short-term answer is almost always at the expense of the workers. I would be willing to bet that when the layoffs are announced, the price of the stock will rise for a short period of time. I have to say, there is something deeply troubling about this. To reward a company for devastating the lives of their loyal workers is simply not right.
We Americans have become used to instant fixes. We gain weight by eating poorly and leading a sedentary lifestyle so instead of pushing back away from the dinner table and going for a brisk walk, we go online for miracle "instant weight loss" diets and spend our hard-earned dollars on a quick fix.
Instead of saving our money and investing in solid ethical companies that treat their employees right, we opt for companies that strive to keep their stock price up by any means necessary but their vision is limited to the next quarterly earnings report.
I may be one of those people who will be greeted tomorrow morning by a company official carrying a box for me to load up my personal things from my desk, but I'll be fine.
Back when I worked for my previous employer we were constantly under threat of being laid off. I hated that feeling so I took advantage of their tuition plan which paid for 100% of my education. I finished up my two-year degree, my bachelor degree and my masters. It must have cost them $100,000 but walking down the isle on graduation day, I felt a sense of accomplishment not necessarily that I had graduated from a great school but that I had done things to improve my lot and to make myself more valuable in the marketplace. A few months later, they did oursource my job to my current employer but I kept on working as a contract employee for the old company. I've continued to focus on my skills and I know without a doubt that I will survive if I were to be laid off. So many of my younger co-workers have not focused on self development so they'll have to take this lesson to their next job and do a better job then.
Not sure what daylight will bring, but even if my job is spared, tomorrow will be a sad day.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Who Do You Think You Are?

I've heard this phrase for years and usually it was from my mother when I stepped over the line. Who do you think you are talking to....or simply who do you think you are? It has always been a precursor to a good scolding or worse. But Jim Rohn who is an excellent self-help writer and speaker said that it is an excellent question to ask yourself.
Who do you think you are? I've asked a lot of people this question and the responses have been all across the board from hilarious to sad.
You see, people often put themselves in containers. I'm a computer technician; I'm a truck driver; I'm a nurse; I'm a miner. But this is not who your are, this is what you do to make a living. You are so much more that what you do.
Common every day people have remarkable talents and the power to change the world in profound ways....with music, with words, with pictures, with paintings, with thoughtful deeds and kindness. By standing up for something in which they believe. By asking questions -- by making up their own mind instead of taking someone else's word. By taking responsibility...taking the heat... by doing something for someone less fortunate and not telling anyone.
I think you should aim high. Jilda and I wrote a song and the course goes like this:

Keep your feet on the ground as you reach for the sky

It's no sin to fail, 'less you fail to try

When bad seeds are planted, the harvest is thin

You can't fly like an eagle on the wings of a wren.

Henry Ford said that "whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." That's a fairly profound statement. Thoughts are powerful. So I ask you "Who do you think you are?"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

I got a call at 6 a.m. this morning as I was heating water for the coffee. I assumed it was my sister telling me to pick up rolls or maybe some paper plates for lunch today but it was from a co-worker in Charlotte, North Carolina. "We have a system down and I need your help." I was on the phone from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. before I got relieved.
My mom goes to bed fairly early but when I got off, Jilda and I ran down and spent some time with her. She was all gussied up sitting on her chair talking to my sisters. We took Buddy with us and he loves my mother. He always sits near by when she eats because she's an easy mark. He can always get a piece of fried chicken or a French fry. She has never been fond of animals and puts on like she doesn't like him but I can tell she really does because her face always lights up when he waddles in.
We sat and talked for a long while this evening and she laughed more than she has in a long time. This is our first year without Jilda's mom and it has been a very difficult day for her.
Anyhow, today's' entry will be short but I did want to say happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. I hope you had a great day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hard Times

I just got off the phone with an old friend. His voice was coming from somewhere I've never been...A despair so deep that it's hard to fathom. He going through hard times.
He had been married for many years but things happened, the relationship went south so they separated. They've both said and done things that would be very hard to take back. I felt so bad for him....for both of them. I wish there were words I could say or somehow put them both in a time machine and send them back to a happier time but send them with the knowledge of the mistakes they made and the wisdom to avoid them the second time around. A time when their children were young and they were happy together....happy to be alive. But there are no words nor time machines and the only thing left is to somehow pick up the pieces and move on.
I somehow can't imagine starting over at my age. I'm set in my ways and I love my home. I love my office, my desk and the chipmunk in the rhodendren that looks in at me some mornings as if I'm in a zoo. I love my wife and the way she fusses over her hair each time we get ready to go to a party. I love sitting down at this old computer each night, listening to my favorite songs and writing a few words from the heart to share with you.
I hope my friend is able to find some peace again and a place that he loves. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Lyrics to Bob Dylan's Song Hard Times
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor.
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay.
There are frail forms fainting at the door.
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

There's pale drooping maiden who toils her life away
With a worn out heart, whose better days are o'er.
Though her voice it would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'll Wait

I read a story in the new AARP newsletter about a man in New Orleans the days following Katrina. Sixty nine year old Thomas Reed lived alone with his small dachshund Weezie. They weathered the vicious storm and when the levee was breached, they moved from floor to floor upwards until they settled in the attic and on the roof where they stayed for five days surviving off of Vienna sausages and bags of Chee Wees.
According to the AARP Bulletin, his stay could have been much shorter as a rescue team came to take him to safety on the second day but they refused to take his dog and Reed would not leave Weezie behind. "This little dog is my family," he pleaded "there is no way I could leave her."
When I read these words I got a lump in my throat that made it difficult to breathe.
Sadly this is not an isolated incident and there were those who were injured and did have to leave their beloved pets to fend for themselves. Many, many didn't make it alive.
I couldn't help but think - what if that had been Jilda and I. This much I can promise you-- if I was stuck on a roof with rising water and rescuers said "OK lady, you can bring the dogs or your husband." She'd look at me quickly and say "good luck honey. I'll send the boat back for you."
According to this article, the events in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has changed national policy regarding pets. In the event of another disaster, plans have been made as to how to help evacuate the pets. I agree with this whole heartedly.
Someone sent me an email about Heaven and it involved a man and his dog. I'll post it below because it seems relevant now.
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?”
“This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered.
“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked.
“Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.” The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveler asked.
“I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.”
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
“Excuse me!” he called to the man. “Do you have any water?”
“Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.”
“How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog.
“There should be a bowl by the pump.”
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, as he gave some to the dog.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. “What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.
“This is Heaven,” he answered.
“Well, that's confusing,” the traveler said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.”
“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell.”
“Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”
“No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.”

A San Francisco Day

The first time I ever went to San Francisco it was for a computer training class in July of 94. Ken Owens, a friend and co-workers advised -- "take a jacket." I thought he was funnin' me or perhaps "hittin' the sauce" and of course I ignored his counsel......heck it was July. Most July mornings in Alabama you can cook breakfast on the hood of your truck by 10 a.m. Not so in San Francisco. I flew in on a Sunday morning and fog as thick as a marshmallow enveloped parts of the city. It burned off after lunch so I drove slowly through the Presidio and on across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate Park sits on the east side of the bridge and is perfectly situated to catch rays from the afternoon sun. I got out of the rental car in my short sleeve shirt and walked towards the viewing area. The air temperature was about 50 degrees but there was an endless breeze off the Pacific which sent a chill deep into the soul of this southern boy. But staring at the city in the distance across a cobalt bay with sail boats mingling together in what looked almost like a dance, I didn't mind the cold. I thought to myself, Jilda is going to LOVE this place.
I was there for two weeks so she came out the following Friday. I had advised her to bring a jacket and since she's smarter than me, she brought one. We spent the weekend exploring the city. We drove on steep crooked streets and ate at quaint restaurants. We had clam chowder in a sour dough bowl on Fisherman's wharf. It seems like all the homes in San Francisco are three story Victorian houses painted in a rainbow of colors and every single one has a view.
Today I got home early so Jilda and I went for a walk. She picked up her jacket. As we made our way around the barn and back toward the gate, the autumnlike breeze kicked up and she said this is like a San Francisco day. I looked up at an azure sky with cotton clouds as big as mountains and I had to agree.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Early Start

I worked from home today and got started before the Whip-o-wills knocked off from their pre-dawn chores of bringing the world to life. I put on water for the coffee and booted the laptop. The view from my office window was illuminated by the sodium vapor lamp in the front yard as the sun was still an hour away. I walked out on the back deck to inspect the plants in the container garden we planted earlier in the month. It looked like the bush beans grew several inches over night. The salad mix lettuce sprouted yesterday and looked anxious for the morning sun but there was not much sunshine today.
There were several waves of thunderstorms today spaced out like acts of a play. Fortunately they were mild spring thunderstorms that scare the dogs half to death but give the lush Alabama undergrowth a drink of water and make things look fresh and clean.
I was unusually productive today. I did conference calls where people were actually prepared, decisions were made, plans were struck and I think everyone involved felt a rare sense of accomplishment.
While I was eating lunch I noticed that our fushsia plant had begun to lean. As you may remember, our mamma Cardinal has a nest in that plant with two warm grey speckled eggs. I eased out in my barefeet and repositioned the plant hanger plle. She didn't like the activity one bit, but after I finished she was back on the nest but looking toward the window crossly (I imagined). I can't wait until the eggs hatch. That's when we'll see the real action as she'll have to scoot to keep two hungry beaks fed. I hope to have some photos when all this goes down.
I finished up the day by reading a stack of correspondence and work articles that I had been collecting for weeks. There is something soothing about the sound of rain and rolling thunder.
This evening Jilda came home from a day of painting murals just as I was finishing up so we went for a walk. The honeysuckle is still everywhere and the wild hydrangea are beginning to bloom. Buddy chased a chipmunk in a hole and looked at me as if to say....go git me a shovel.
As I've said many times, life comes at your fast so take every opportunity you can to work from home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Gift of Music

Playing guitar came so easy to me. I've had a few lessons in my life but they were to learn specific things like flatpicking. I just picked it up...I consider it a gift. Many of the other musicians I know came from families of musicians - a father played the banjo or a mother taught piano lessons. But for the most part, I simply decided one day that I wanted to play and it grew from that.
I was browsing through my mothers' photos a several years ago and came across a dark haired man wearing a hat. He had shaggy hair, a mustache and he was thin as a pencil. He had a picker's grin on his face and a fiddle in his hands. He was sitting on the back porch of an old clapboard house that had never seen paint. When I asked mother about the photograph she said "that's your great grandpa Alley Watson. " I looked back at the picture and back at her. It was taken in the 30's and it's the only picture of him I have ever seen. Mamma said he came up rough...lived a hard life and died young in rural Alabama.
I found his unmarked grave in the cemetery behind the old Dora High School. She told me where and I went over there one afternoon and took my guitar. I sat in the shade and played some of old songs and talked for a long while to Alley. I felt a connection that I never knew existed.
The next day, I found a smooth flat creek rock that was rounded on one edge. I took some hand tools and carved his name in that stone. I know a lot of people have left this world and are buried in unmarked graves, but I felt that my great grandpa deserved better and carving the stone with my own hands seemed right.
I wish I could have met him before he died because I would have loved to have told him thank you for the precious gift of music.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mr. Kitchens

I miss my old friend Cecil Kitchens. He lived over on Red Star hill and owned a small garage. He didn't advertise, no signs pointed to his shop but he was always busy...winter, spring, summer and fall.
Every year about this time I would take my lawn mower or tiller over to have some work done and I usually arranged my day so that I could spend some time watching him work. I know this may be hard to imagine, but he was an artist with tools. He built his shop with is own hands and though it wasn't fancy, it was very functional and always in order. When he went to the bench for a tool, he never had to look twice. He knew exactly where the right tool was all times. His motions were fluid and his conversation intelligent...never boastful, vulgar or judgmental.
When he finished working on my mower, he would sit in the shade near the door of his shop and we'd talk as he took a shop rag and clean his tools one by one and when he was finished, he would return them to his shop table and arrange them like a doctors' instruments so that he knew exactly where they were the time he needed them.
I watched him work on an old Plymouth once while I was waiting my turn. It had a nasty miss. The owner had taken the old car to a number of reputable mechanics but one told him it had a bad head gasket another said the carburetor had to be replaced. Mr. Kitchens cranked the car and walked to the front, open the hood, spread his hands wide, leand in close and listened. He stood very still, only moving his head slightly from time to time. "Do you hear that he asked?" I moved closer along with the owner and we listened as if we were trying to pick out an oboe in an orchestra. "That..he said?" All I could hear was an old engine missing as if it were on its last leg. Mr. Kitchens moved over to one side and slid his hand towards the back of the engine down close to the distributor cap and he searched carefully with his hand until he found the vacuum hose which runs somewhere deep in the engine compartment. When he found the hose he slid his finger up and down until he felt the tiniest hint of suction and he sealed a leak with his thumb and the engine started purring like a sewing machine. A few minutes later he had cut a length of small rubber hose from a larger hose arranged on his shop wall and replaced the defective vacuum hose. He charged the owner $3.00 and the older man paid with three wrinkled bills and drove off with a smile on his face.
"You can learn a lot just by listening," Mr. Kitchens said as the guy drove away. I was young then and knew that I enjoyed his company but I had no inkling of the depth and wisdom of his words.
These days life comes at you fast. Often you spend more time reacting than you do thinking or listening. I think we all could benefit from the words or Mr. Kitchens.'ll be amazed at what you can hear.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Buddy and The BP

Jilda took our dog Buddy to work the other day which is fairly routine. I've come to understand since he's come to live with us that we are really creatures of habit. He likes riding in my truck because he's up high and he can see everything. When he rides with Jilda, her car is lower to the ground and has leather seats. Jilda loves the feel of the leather, but when Buddy is with her, he stands a chance of whacking his head on the dashboard if she hits the breaks unexpectedly because the seats are slick. Every time she starts to break, he assumes the breaking position, he's back peddling before the laws of gravity take control but then it's whack----- he's bouncing off the dashboard and the next moment he's on the floorboard scrambling to get back on the seat. It's routine for him.
On this occasion, she decided to run by the BP station for gas before heading to work. She filled up the car leaving Buddy to keep the vehicle from being carjacked. When she returned, Buddy was really excited barking and he was making all kinds of puppy sounds that continued after she got back into the car. "You sure are glad to see me," she noticed but Buddy kept on with his excitement. When she laid her purse on the floorboard, he went in. She practically had to drag him out of her purse.
When she related the story to me, I smiled and asked if she had bought him a Slim Jim. "Well No", she said as a reply/question. So I explained that every time I go to the BP with Buddy, I always buy him a Slim Jim. He just KNEW there was a Slim Jim for him somewhere in that purse and by George, he would not be denied.
Yes we're all creatures of habit. The hardest habit for me to get over was eating Sunday lunch at my Mom's house. Before my Mom had heart surgery and the strokes and the broken hips, she always cooked Sunday lunch. On any given Sunday all of the kids and grandkids would usually be there and more often than not, there would be neighbors, friends, and casual acquaintances who had heard that you could get a great meal at Granny's house.
Mom lives with my sister now, her youth and health are slowly fading and she's no longer able to cook those Sunday dinners. It occurred to me as I was relating Jilda story about Buddy that I was not unlike him in that every time I go to my mother's house to cut the grass of fetch the mail, I start rummaging through her refrigerator, and cabinets looking for food.
We are indeed creatures of habit.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mamma Ferguson's Store

My grandmother Ferguson owned an old general store in Townley, Alabama. It was an one story weather worn clapboard building that sat close to the southern railway line. On the outside of the old store was a round Coke sign as big as a satellite dish. The five steps to the store were foot worn from years of patronage by the folks of Townley. The inside walls were covered in old advertising from seed and feed companies and calendars from years past that no one bothered to take down. The old store smelled of heart pine, popcorn and Meritta loaf bread. She had an old cash register that made a loud CHING-CHING sound when she rang up a sale. On the counters were glass jars that contained cookies, candy and peanuts. She sold hoop cheese that she kept in a glass front cabinet. When the grandkids visited, most would head straight for the penny candy and bubble gum, but I loved that cheese. She'd cut me off a big ol' hunk and open up a fresh pack of Saltine Crackers. In the corner was an old drink cooler from which she'd let me pick out a soft drink. This was a difficult decision for me because she sold all my favorites. I often settled on a Nehi Peach that went down well with the cheese and crackers. In the back room she kept the feed. Most people kept chickens, and other critters in those days and they got the feed from her. Often when you'd go back into the feed room you would hear rats scurry for cover. I'm not talking about mice....I mean rats....gopher rats as big as a full grown Chihuahua. As you may have guessed, we didn't spend a great deal of time in the back room.
Mamma Ferguson had thirteen kids. She lost one of her sons, Marvin Lee at Pearl Harbor in the first few moments of the attack that put America into World War II. My mother was the middle child and she said Marvin Lee’s death hit Mamma Ferguson hard.
She passed away in the late 60’s and the store closed. Thinking back of all the old fixtures, signs, pictures, and containers I have wondered what happened to all that stuff when the store closed. I’m guessing most of it was thrown away or hauled off long after the rats left. That stuff would bring a small fortune today on Ebay. There was one thing in there that I would have loved to have had and that was a bubble gum machine shaped like a rocket ship. I had never seen one before or since.
I drove through Townley a while back by where the old store once stood. It has long since been torn down to make room for newer buildings. I rarely see stores like hers these days but when I do pass one that has survived the steady march of progress, I always try to stop to soak up the sights, sounds and smells. I keep thinking that one day I’ll get lucky and find one that sells hoop cheese and Peach Nehi’s.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fun in Philadelphia

Last evening we made a dash over to Philadelphia, Mississippi to donate to the Indians' Educational Fund. On the eve of our 32nd anniversary we freshened up in our complementary room and went downstairs. We played slots for a while and this is what I observed: Playing slot machines is an individual activity. People playing slots rarely talk to the folks sitting next to them, though they will often cast a begrudging glance if the other brings the jackpot bells to life. People playing slots rarely smile. That's why it's so much fun to watch Jilda play slot machines. She squeals with delight at the slightest payoffs from the one-armed bandits. People sitting nearby suspiciously squint at her through their cigarette nimbus as if she were a terrorist or perhaps someone making fun of their lineage.
After a while, we found ourselves over at the Roulette tables. This is what I observed about Roulette: It's a social game. People are always laughing and barking at the table meister. When someone hits a spin with chips straight up on the number, there are often high fives all around. Last night we sat at a table with a guy from Huntsville, Alabama and two Hispanic guys from Texas and it was a scream. We laughed and talked for hours. Paul and Ron had driven over from Dallas with their families for a little R&R. Both were American citizens and their take on the immigration boycott was a hoot. We asked about their families and they asked about ours. We cheered their luck at the table and they to ours. At midnight, the entire table wished us a happy anniversary. How many years? Paul asked. When we told him 32, everyone promptly put a bet down on 32. It would have been sweet had it hit, but alas it didn't. Fortunately for Jilda and me, it did hit 5 which we had also played because May 5th is the date of the anniversary. The whole table toasted our luck and our longevity in marriage.
Our years together have been filled with the full spectrum of life from profound sadness to arrant joy. Even when we were broke as the 10 Commandments, we have always managed to see and do extraordinary things.
I've known people whose jobs are their lives. That is not the case with us, instead of living to work, we work to live. And from Philadelphia, Mississippi I have this one observation: Abraham Lincoln said over a hundred years ago that "people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Jilda and I made up our minds to be happy on May 5th 1974 and for the most part we have succeeded.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I struggle at times to find the right word. In normal conversation it's usually not an issue but when you write you want the right word. I was perusing the writers section of Books a Million and found the J.I. Rodale "Synonym Finder" which contains over 1 million synonyms. I couldn't resist. I've already used it several times when I had a dilemma, predicament, plight or I was simply in a pickle.
When I want to say "old", I now have hundreds of options like aging, grizzled, senile, decrepit, senescent or over the hill.
If in the course of reading this blog you find that I'm leaning too heavily on the "Finder" please feel free to bring it to my attention, awareness, make me cognizant of the fact...........

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Jilda and I celebrate our 32nd anniversary on Cinco de Mayo which is this coming Friday. We always try to do something special - some years are more special than others. I mentioned some time back that we went to Sedona, Arizona for our 30th. It was a special trip that we both enjoyed a great deal. We stayed at Cabin Wren which is a complex of about five rustic cabins a few miles north of Sedona. The cabins had journals with entries by people who stayed there. The journals went back for over ten years and the newly weds on honeymoons, and couples at various stages in their lives and relationships, poured out intimate details for fellow travelers to read. We spent hours reading what others had written.
We both thought a long time before writing our entries because we wanted them to be memorable and maybe even inspirational to those who would follow.
We also soaked up the remarkable beauty of the place.
For our 25th anniversary we went to Ireland. It was a first for both of us. We lived in a trailer for many years and struggled to buy groceries in those days but we kept chipping away, and dreaming of the time when we could travel.
I guess that's what made the time we spent in Ireland so special. On the night of our anniversary, we stayed in the Burren Region in a small hotel overlooking a bay.
We dressed up and had dinner in a small restaurant within walking distance. I had a chicken dish and Jilda ordered broiled crab claws. We told the owner it was our anniversary and he brought wine to our tables and talked for a while. We sat alone for a long time and sipped wine and watched sea birds settle in for the evening. I can close my eyes right now and smell the salt and seaweed.
Life can get crazy but I believe that couples can beat the odds and stay together for a long, long time. We've managed it so here is my advice:
Call in - you can get away with almost anything if you call in.
Pitch in - when the wife works and comes home to cook, the least you can do is clean up the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher.
Learn to listen without trying to fix things. Often when my wife tells me her problems, she's not looking for a solution...she just wants me to listen and to empathize.
Also be willing at times to say I'm sorry when you have an argument, even if you feel like you are not at fault.
Finally celebrate every chance you get. Always remember important dates - never forget a birthday, and anniversary, or any other dates that are important to your mate. Travel every chance you get and take lots of pictures.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Peddler

He drove a 1953 Chevy pickup with a canopied wooden produce stand on the bed. The truck was the color of a gun barrel and clean as a hearse. On Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer months, you could always count on him to come by about 3 p.m. He would toot his horn a little before he got to West Pratt and when he made his stop in front of our house, the kids swarmed like yellow jackets to a watermelon rind.
His name was Mr. Vandiver and he wore a pith helmet like the ones worn by rich Englishmen on Safari in Africa. His kaki pants and shirts were always starched and ironed. He was a soft spoken man with a keen eye for picking out tomatoes, squash, green beans and cantaloupes. He also had his finger on the pulse of what the kids liked. He had a section of penny candy...Mary Janes, jaw breakers, and rolls of Bazooka Bubblegum as big as a cigar. He carried potato chips, snowballs, and moon pies. In the very back of the pickup he had a number 3 washtub full to the rim with chipped ice and underneath the ice were bottles of Orange Crush, Nehi Grape, Dr. Peppers, CoCola's and RC's.
After the kids bought their stuff, the adults would come up and browse through the cucumbers, tommy-toe tomatoes and the fruit.
I'm not sure where all Mr. Vandiver served, but he came by our house for years until our town moved to the highway and the wheels of progress made his work obsolete. I was thinking about the peddler on my way home today and it occurred to me just how much life has changed over the years. Nowadays I can go to the Super-Mart and buy anything I can imagine, but I think that today there is more emphasis on the bottom line than on selecting tomatoes that make my mamma smile. I also don't believe a Super-Mart could ever leave a memory like a simple peddler selling Cracker Jacks and Dr. Peppers to dusty kids in a mining camp.

May Day

When I was at Dora Elementary School in mid to late 50's, May Day was a big deal. I guess our old principal was a pagan at heart or perhaps he had no idea where the festival originated, but it was one of my favorite holidays. We'd have a spring festival at school and spent a great deal of time outside playing softball, red rover, dodgeball and other games. It felt good to be outside after the interminable have the warm sun on our faces and to smell the honeysuckle and wild rose that bloomed on the banks of horse creek. The lunchroom ladies would cook up a bunch of hotdogs, corndogs and French fries. One of the concession ladies would whip up a batch of cotton candy and Mr. Hocutt, the forth grade teacher would decorate the flagpole in front of the school as the May Pole. I'm not sure what happened to the May Day tradition, and I'm not sure if kids today would even enjoy it, but just thinking about it now puts a smile on my face. I get some daily emails from various sources one of which is a site called the Daily OM and the topic for today was May Day....some of which is as follows: May Day has many colorful and unique customs associated with it and is intimately bound to the Gaelic and pagan fire festival of Beltane. Both celebratory rites take place on the same day and are believed to have originated from the ancient Roman feast of Floralia, which honored Flora, the goddess of spring and flowers, as she returned to the earth to bring the fields back to life with her touch.Traditionally, May Day celebrations began on April 30, when men and women spent the whole night in the woods where they would dance and play games. On the morning of May 1, they would emerge carrying freshly budded green boughs and flowers that were in bloom. A tree was felled and resurrected as the May Pole around which young people would twine ribbons in the hope of becoming entwined with a new love.I'm pretty sure that if Mr. Evans had an inkling that May Day had anything to do with men and women spending the night together out in the woods, he would have nipped it in the bud. I, for one, am thankful he didn't know. Happy May Day.

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