Thursday, August 31, 2006

Football Season

Tonight's entry will be abbreviated as it's opening season for the Dora Bulldogs. Jilda and I are heading to Cordova to shoot some photos for the website. I might have a little time to add to the entry, it's usually late when I return.
Go Dawgs

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dime a Dozen

Sitting out on the back deck this evening listening to the cicadas and the tree frogs in mother nature's evening chorus if you will. It's a sound I remember hearing as a kid. After I started hearing them, school would start a few weeks later. They may do this all summer but I for some reason I only hear it in the fall.
I went to a funeral today. The grandmother of my good friend Dale Short passed away. She was in her high nineties and had been going strong until a years or so ago when she broke a hip. After that injury, she went down hill fast. The thing about living to be that age, most of your family and friends have passed on.
Dale spent a great deal of time with his grandparents. In fact, I think you could say he was raised by them. Both his grandfather and grandmother had great wisdom. I could tell you stories about the both of them.
One story about his grandfather I still tell today. Both Albert and Vera owned a small country store down near Shanghi, Alabama and one day a woman came in to buy some eggs. She asked Albert "how much is a dozen eggs?" Mr. Brasfield said they are 15 cents. The lady thought for a second and then said "Mr. Jones down the road said his eggs are only 12 cents a dozen." Mr. Brasfield said well I think if I were you, I'd buy my eggs from Mr. Jones.
The lady said "I would but he's out right now." Mr. Brasfield said well when I'm out of eggs, mine are a dime a dozen."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


What's the deal with all the cobwebs this year? Our front windows look like a fishing net. I know it took some poor spider a great deal of time to spin up that much silk but all my cobwebs look like the spiders got bored....or drunk or maybe munched on some kind of psychedelic drug that caused them to drift too far from the shore, as the old Gospel song goes.
I have seen some fascinating spider webs here on the farm. In fact I shot this picture a year or so ago down at my barn as I was walking early one morning. You can actually see the dew on the web. The summer had given away to cooler weather and Mr. Spider had started spinning his web so he could trap food for the winter. That's when one usually sees spider webs. In fact I often get a face full of spider web when I walk in autumn. Most of the time that's ok, but when you feel a big ol' spider about the size of a vampire bat on your head, you tend to do some interesting evasive maneuvering. When the spider gets on Jilda, the same moves are often accompanied by the shrill whowhowhowhowhowhowho and followed by get this @#$#$$%$%%^^%$##%^&& thing off of me!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I tell the women at work about this, they usually say well where are y'all gonna walk in the if the walk to the barn was out of the question after the encounter with the spider. The thing is, after she stops swearing and her blood pressure falls below 380/245 she usually waxes philosophical. "You know, I know they have a right to be here, but I wish they were all on George's ranch in Crawford, Texas. I thought to myself, that would have a certain symmetry to it.
I'm sitting on the screened-in porch right now as I try to think of a clever way to end this entry. Off to the west, the sun is behind the clouds and the sky is the color of butterscotch. The cobwebs look like strands of cotton candy.....and sitting right here and now, I actually consider them a gift.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday Nights

What guy wouldn't want to lay on the floor and sweat with ten women. Well, I should probably explain that we'd just finished a grueling Yoga Class taught by my lovely wife who is really a closet sadist. "Stretch your leg out to the right and stretch your arm upward and look to the sky," she says. "Now let's hold this pose for 10 breaths." All the time I'm just wait...I'll get you back when you least expect it...if it's the last thing I do!
When class was over I dragged my tired hiney out to the car and sat on the fender while they all said their goodbyes. Off to the south you could see the new moon that looked like a candle bending in the breeze and to the west, a thunderhead was forming. It looked like a grey mauve pillow. As we headed home, you could see lightening within the thunderhead that looked like a flash bulb going off behind a black gauze curtain. A vine of lightening escaped the darkness and leapt to a nearby cloud.
When we got up on Phillipstown road about a mile from the house, a copperhead snake slithered across in front of us. That's good luck I remarked. "I've never heard that," Jilda said. Well it's good luck that it's at their house and not ours. She whacked me on the arm.
I enjoy Monday night Yoga. I wasn't very good at the poses when I started out, but I've gotten better. I can actually bend over now and with my knees straight, place the palms of my hands flat on the floor. I know 20 year olds that can't do that.
So guys, if you want to lay in the floor and sweat with ten or twelve women, come on down to the Sumiton Community Center on Monday nights. You won't be bragging to your friends, but it will make you feel better.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fall Before We Know It

I stood on the deck this morning waiting for the coffee water to boil. The wind out of the south was warm even at 6:30 a.m. Going to be a hot one again today I thought.
I made the coffee and headed to the bottom of the hill to collect the Sunday newspapers. I noticed that some nice person had thrown out a fast food sack of trash and a couple Bud Lite empties. "How thoughtful," I mused. I picked it up and tossed it into the trash can and headed back to my coffee.
After breakfast we went down to Ruby's house to cut grass and finish up some painting. The sun was already hot and the air was heavy as an anvil at 10:30. Fortunately a bank of angry looking rain clouds came up and hid the sun while I mowed the yard. I still sweated buckets. When I finished, I laid in front of a box fan while Jilda finished up with the painting.
This evening we headed back out to go to the funeral home. One of our neighbors, Joe Hardin passed away on Friday so we went down to pay our respects. The rain clouds were still about. When we came up pump hill, the bottom fell out and you could see steam rising from the asphalt. Once we got to Sumiton, the sun broke out of the clouds to the west and threw a rainbow the size of an interstate highway off to the east. I reached toward the back seat for the camera but realized that I had forgotten to put it into the car. Dang it.
Football kicks off this week. Dora plays Thursday night and the Tide plays on Saturday. It'll be fall before we know it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I'm scanning the Dora High School 1986 Annual. It's funny how you can tell the decade in which a picture was taken by looking at the clothes, side burns and hairdos. The 50's had flattops and some guys had ducktails. The jeans were tight with straight legs. The girls wore sweaters with big honkin' letters. The 60's were all over the board with clothes and hair. The 80's were no different....well, maybe a little different. Whoever thought up the mullet hair style for guys must have really had his wiring burned out badly in the 60's.
I actually saw a guy in the video store on Friday who had a mullet hair style. I'm just praying that he's a hold over from the 80's and that the mullet is not on its way back. I think I'd have to immigrate to some place where hats are required.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Do The Best You Can

We got good news today. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we have been trying to sell the home of Jilda's mom. Today Jilda's nephew agreed verbally to purchase the house. He still has to sell his home and a few other things have to fall into place, but I feel good about the deal. It has a certain symmetry to it. He spent a great deal of time there when he was a child. Those walls hold a lot of memories.
Jilda and I are still doing a lot of work to get the house in good condition. We are not taking any shortcuts. Someone told me a few days ago "just slap some paint one it and let it slide." But that's not the way we do things. We approach our work as if it was going to be our house and we would be living there.
I read a parable once about a carpenter that worked for a successful builder for 20 years. The carpenter was getting ready to retire when the builder asked him to build one more home.
The carpenter reluctantly agreed. The plans were beautiful, but the carpenter's heart was not in it. Deep down he resented that he had spent his life working for someone else when he could have been working for himself. He made a conscience decision to cut corners and do the least amount of work necessary so the he could pocket the most money. He used second grade lumber, wiring and plumbing fixtures. On the surface the house looked fine and only the carpenter knew that it was substandard. Cutting the corners allowed him to pocket a few extra dollars.
When the builder came for the final inspection, he smiled broadly and handed the keys to the carpenter. The house is yours as a gift from me to you.....thanks so much for all the years you have worked for me.
This story had a profound effect one me. There are a lot of times when no one is watching that you could "slap on a coat of paint and let it slide," but you would always know that about yourself. I might not always do a great job but I always strive to do the best that I can.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Working Late

I'm working late tonight. We have a computer that's had a lot of problems today and folks all over are excited. To put my boss' mind at rest, I told him I would stay to ensure things went smoothly. That's the way things are with my boss. I make him feel better about a situation and he has a check deposited in my bank account. Is America a great place or what?
I had some time to kill before the work started so I went out to get a sandwich. I was sitting at a redlight on highway 150 in Hoover and just above the trees the sun was slowly drifting earthward like a big orange balloon. As I sat there soaking in the moment, a guy that looked like Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead pulled to a stop beside me next to the curb. He was on a Huffy bicycle with squeeze horn like the one I had on my Huffy so many years ago. He had a big bushy beard and wrap around sunglasses....his khaki pants pulled up almost to his armpits. He was wearing white Converse Allstar tennis shoes and a Hawaiian shirt with huge flamingos. I thought for a moment that I was hallucinating. He looked over at me and smiled as the light changed. I could almost hear him say "keep on truckin" dude.
In the news today some astronomers have decided that Pluto is no longer a's now a dwarf. I had to ask, who the heck do these guys think they are fooling around with our solar system? Give a guy a pocket protector and a slide rule and he thinks he can change the facts.
I don't think so. I've got this fact stored somewhere in my head and I don't want to dig it out, change it and move it somewhere else.
In fact, I'm having tee shirts printed up that say "Save Pluto"....or maybe "me Pluto, su Pluto." I know, I'll have a contest to see who comes up with the best slogan to save Pluto with the winner's slogan appearing on the tee shirts. I'll give the winner a new Mercedes Benz (O.K. I'm kidding here). But I would love to see any cool slogans about Pluto.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ol' Buddy

I came home this evening and I should have realized something was amiss. Ol' Buddy who usually greets me at the truck yapping excitedly and dashing around the yard like a tailback for the Crimson hung back and barked from the porch.
I didn't think much about it until he followed me inside. Once I shut the door, something SMELLED. I stepped back out the front door and checked my shoes but everything was clean. I went back in and there was that smell again. When I got close to Ol' Buddy, he reaked like three-day-old roadkill on August asphalt in Alabama. I was not happy. I grabbed the doggie shampoo and tossed his wormy butt into the bathtub and gave him a bath.
Now Ol' Buddy loves Slim Jims and he loves ridin' in the truck, but he hates baths so as soon as I dried him off, he was out the back door like a shot. I told him (as if he could understand my words) that's what happens when you roll around on a dead possum.
Ol' Buddy is a comical little creature. When I talk about him at work I always talk with my "Buddy voice." It's a bad imitation of how my nephew Zack's sounded when he was about five years old. Today at work, we had some new folks eating at our table and my friend Shae asked about Ol' Buddy. I slipped into my Buddy voice and commenced to giving her an update. When I gave Buddy's views on philandering politicians, one of the newbe's at the table got tickled and spewed Dr. Pepper out her nose.
I know the dog is spoiled worse than a first grand child, but after he got over sulking this evening he came to sit by me while we ate supper. He is very attentive when we eat. I can take my fork and without looking at him flip a piece of chicken off my plate and he catches it like Chipper Jones going after an infield line drive.
I know there are people who think I'm wacky for being crazy about a little dog..... for the most part, they would be correct. But all I can say is if they knew Ol' Buddy, I think they'd be crazy about him too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I was outside pulling the hose pipe around so that I could water the plants on the back porch when off the south and west I started hearing thunder roll and the sky grew dark. The wind kicked up and blew hard making the trees, shrubs and grass sway like a praise and worship service. The storm moved closer and the lightening struck so close I could smell ozone. I jumped about three feet straight up. As dime sized drops of rain began to fall, I quickly rolled the hose back up and headed for the house post haste.
My Dad was fearless of storms until one August of 1977. He had gone down to the hunting club to scout out a good place for a tree stand. He wanted to be ready on opening day of deer season. A thunder storm started slamming it's way toward his position. He was heading for cover under an overhang on the banks of a nearby creek when a bolt of lightening struck a tree dangerously close to him. He later recalled that he felt the hair on his arm stand up an instant before it struck. He didn't remember if the force of the strike knocked him to the ground or if it scared the crap out of him and he fell to the ground in self defense but he said it felt better down there.
He crawled to cover and the storm passed. He was unhurt but for months after the incident he swore he heard a radio playing. The first few days he would walk all through the house trying to find the source of the music. My brother and I had some fund at his expense. "We can't turn the radio off, but we could change the station for you if that would help." He would flip us off and we'd all laugh good naturedly.
I wouldn't say that my Dad was afraid of storm, but after that he held a healthy respect for mother nature.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hot Summer Color

They air was hot and thick as I headed out to work this morning. The view off the back deck looked a little like a photograph that was printed poorly by an inexperienced photographer. But as I rounded the corner I noticed that our Crape Mytrles were in full bloom. Ours are the Fuchsia/hot pink ones, but I've seen them in varying shades from light pink to lavender. Another great thing about Crape Myrtles is that they bloom longer than any other plant that grows around here.
This afternoon, the skies became dark and I could hear thunder before I headed out to the truck. I surveyed the sky and shards of lightening were brutalizing flag poles, satellite dishes and trees around Hoover. I started to use my umbrella but it occurred to me that I would be walking under a lightening rod so I tucked my bag and made a mad dash for the truck.
On the drive home the rain poured in buckets. The interstate near Alford Avenue is treacherous when it rains hard. I have seen so many wrecks there. Last year a young guy in a Mercedes blew by me in a thunderstorm. I was driving perhaps 35 miles per hour...he was doing 60. He barely got in front of me before his car started hydroplaning. He wrapped it around a light pole. He was unhurt and jumped out of the car as if to curse the light pole for causing the accident. I thought to myself...every day's a school day.
Today, on the other hand, everybody drove slowly and no one lost control.
The weather man says that the days will start cooling off soon. I will say right now, that I'm ready for cooler weather.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Sunday Paper

We got out of the habit of reading the Sunday Paper back when Jilda was having to stay with her mom. Those last few years took away our Sunday mornings because that was Jilda's shift. She barely had time to drink a cup of coffee before going down to relieve her sister Pat.
We still got the paper but we read it in shifts and the pleasure was gone.
Today I got up and made fresh coffee in our press, fetched the paper and put on some music before waking her up.
We sipped coffee and divided up the paper. She goes straight for the lifestyle, the funnies and the travel section. I go for the headlines, sports and the money sections.
I like to read about the best selling books. I subscribe to Audible and I'm always on the lookout for good books. I also hit the classifieds to see if I can find another old Chevy to make sure I've got my car priced right. It still hasn't sold. I priced it at $5000 and it didn't sell so I decided to raise my price to see if that works. One of the car guys that come to see it last week told me he almost didn't come because he figured if it was only $5000 that it was junk. I wouldn't want anyone to think that, so I raised the price.
Today Jilda read out all the travel destinations that sounded interesting. We really haven't had a chance to travel much in the past few years, but that will change. Right now, Sunday morning research is a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Last night I dreamed about airplanes. I was in Tibet flying over snow-capped mountains that reached skyward. I think we were going to a yoga class. Jilda was going for training, I was along for the ride. I guess I thought I'd howdy up with the Dhala Lama and get his views on the war in Iraq, world hunger and playing guitar in open D tuning. Off in the distance I could hear a dog barking. I thought, how strange, We are cruising at 35,000 feet and I can definitely hear dogs barking. They must be on top of one of these mountains I reasoned in my dream.
Once on the ground in Tibet, we headed straight for the mountains and I could feel the cool breeze blowing on my face. All of a sudden, I could hear that dog barking again and as the dream slipped away, I realized it was Buddy barking. He needed to go potty. When I laid back down, the dream was gone.
I love flying. I remember the first time I flew back in the summer of 1971. I got drafted and did my boot camp at Fort Campbell, Kentucky but after that gig I had to go to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey which is just outside New York City. We flew out on a clear day and you could see forever. The skies were congested and we circled for some time before landing. We flew close enough to New York that you could see the skyscrapers jutting up from the landscape like one of those 3D puzzles. It was a beautiful sight. You could get peanuts on airplanes back then and you could gait check an Edsel if you were so inclined. Ah the days before 911.
Flying down to Panama was a trip too. The ocean takes on a new dimension when viewed from five miles high. When we started our initial descent that country was as green as a well maintained golf course. The water around Taboga Island, which is a small island just off the Atlantic coast, was the color of an aquamarine.
I've had some rough flights, most of them involved cities in Texas. Once while flying to Charlotte, North Carolina we flew through a thunderstorm. Seeing lightning up close and personal was not something I'd like to do on a routine basis.
But all and all, my flying experiences have been good. Jilda and I have enough frequent flyer points to take a vacation somewhere but we're not yet sure where we will go. Maybe to Montana. I'd love to see the Northern Rockies from the sky.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Time For Everything

I had good intentions tonight. Both Jilda and I had worked on Ruby's house getting it ready to sell all day today. My plans were to get in her first thing and knock out the blog, eat dinner and then kick back. The timeline changed as the day wore on. When we finished up this evening, we came home an collapsed on the couch for a while. I did a little web maintenance while Jilda did dinner. We ate watching a rerun of "Dave". Both of us dozed off during the will be an early night tonight.
It seems like this house will never be ready to sell, but I know it will. We'll look back on this time and smile. That's the way life is. You get focused on something and there's not much time for other stuff. I'm ready now for the other stuff. I think it's time to relax and have fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I built a simple website for a friend of ours - Lamar Morris. Lamar is a remarkable person. Music is his life. He has played guitar for most of his life. He performed on stage Hank Williams when he was a young boy. Later he connected up with Hank Jr. and became his lead guitarist and band leader for over 20 years. He plays guitar as if he has an extra finger or two on his left hand which enables him to play combinations of notes that we mortals can only dream of playing.
He settled down several years ago in Opp, Alabama and teaches guitar and plays in the gospel group Raven Dove.
Lamar recorded a song that Jilda and I wrote with Marty Rainone call "The Night a Country Star Was Born." I've written in an earlier blog entry about the recording experience.
When I mentioned to Lamar a few weeks ago that I could build him a website, he was so excited. I guess he had never considered a website but when I mentioned it, he began thinking of all the things he could do with one. So I loaded the basic page and he is working on things for me to put on the site.
There's not much there now, but I have a feeling that in a few weeks, it will have some really neat things on there. You can visit it at

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


My phone started ringing this morning before I put my backpack down and hooked up my computer. We had a system down and people were not happy. At one time my pager was going off and both my desk and cell phones were ringing simultaneously. I let them ring and went for coffee.
There’s just so much you can do. Even computers as fast as they are, can only do one instruction at a time….now granted they do that one thing really, really fast, but only one thing at a time. I took a deep breath checked my voicemail and began working on the most important thing on my plate. That’s all you can do.

By this evening, I felt like I had been through an old fashioned Maytag ringer. My mom once had one of those old Maytag washers on the back porch. She had a solar dryer back then. It consisted of a long piece of wire strung from two trees in our back yard. But that old Maytag washer was indestructible. I’ve put army men, sling shots, and assorted other toys through those old wringers and it never even groaned. I almost put a frog through it once but got busted by Mom when she stepped out on the porch to throw a pan full of corn out to the chickens. “You put a living creature through there and I’ll whip you with a rose bush,” she warned. Now you talk about a visual that will send a chill through a kid, but that one did and it invariably made me straighten up and fly right.

But I imagine that had I gotten that frog through that wringer, he would have felt much like I feel like this evening.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Somber Sight

I saw something you don’t see every day out here in the country.  On the way home this evening a Blount County Sheriff had blocked traffic on the Arkadelphia Road right near Albritton Bridge.  It’s a crossroads there with a two-way stop.  The Sheriff and one rescue person had the road blocked in all directions.  I got out and sat on the hood trying to figure out what was going on.  
A few moments later I heard it and knew exactly what was happening.  Off in the distance a helicopter dropped out of the clouds and landed in the intersection.  A few moments later an ambulance came screaming across the bridge.
They only send the chopper out when someone is gravely injured.  I’m not sure if it was an automobile accident or a mining injury.  A wave of bad storms had just blown through so there is no telling what happened.
When the chopper lifted off and we were free to continue on our way home, I drove more slowly.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Losing Trees

The heat is hard not only on humans, but also on animals, plant life and trees.  I've seen so many trees with leaves turning the color of coco.  You would expect to lose some pines, but I'm seeing trees with deep roots such as oak and hickory.   One of my neighbors has beautiful ironwood in his yard and most of them are dying from the heat or lack of water. 
It's been several years since I've seen this. I remember in 1980, Jilda and I lived in a small trailer in a trainer park in Sumiton.  We inherited bugs from the previous owners and we did everything short of setting off a contained thermo nuclear explosion in our kitchen.  They'd leave for a few days and then before you knew it, you'd turn on the lights at midnight and they would head for cover. I HATED those bugs.  When hurricane Fredrick hit Mobile in 1979, I went down to help put that city back together.  I was down there a few weeks in the Howard Johnson's hotel off Government Boulevard and Jilda got lonesome in Sumiton so she loaded up the dog and came down too.  That was in April.  We stayed into the fall. I stayed up a telephone pole for most of that year and it was one of the hottest summers I can ever remember.  Every day when the crew got off work, we'd spend the rest of the evening swimming in the HoJo pool and drinking cold beer.  I think that was the only time Jilda ever got a real tan….I mean one that came from the sun and not a bottle tanning toner.
We worked hard that summer but it was fun.  In the fall, we went home to the trailer which had been closed up to the summer heat and all our candles had melted into a puddle where they once stood.(image placeholder)  We had forgotten a few ferns in there and we could have rolled them up and smoked them had we been so inclined. But the great thing that happened was that all the bugs were gone.  We found dead carcass's until the day we moved out but all the critters were toast. 
It was hot again today but we have been blessed with some rain the last few weeks to I hope we don't lose any more trees. 
Stay cool. Autumn is just around the corner.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Four Deer Day

Today has been a long one. I got cranked up early and I just got home. The Overalls had a practice this afternoon and we worked as hard as we've worked in a long while. We were in Hoover city limits on our way to Steve's house in Helena when we saw a deer. Wow Jilda exclaimed.
After practice, we went to see our niece Samantha who was in a fashion show at the Civic Center. We came down the Empire road and from the interstate until we reached our house, we passed three more deer. Interesting.
I had been a dry spell with the blog. I had not received any comments for over a month. I was beginning to think my buddies had started watching the Braves on TV instead of reading. Then I got a really neat comment yesterday and another one today.
Tonight however, I've run out of steam. More tomorrow.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Describing the Moon

Jilda and I played a private party tonight and the folks there wanted the old songs. I know a ton of old songs, but I can play a bunch more that I don't know the words to. So when the folks there requested a song my instant reply was I can play it if you can sing it. Most folks are like me...they know the chorus and a few words to the verses but the rest of the song is a mystery. I love these parties. If there is one thing I've learned is that people love sing-a-longs. You play "Today I Started Lovin' You Again" and everybody sings along. "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain", "Whispering Pines", "Your Cheatin' Heart" are all favorites. We played three hours without a break.
The party was in Oakman and on the way home I saw a beautiful color filtering through the trees. I said I think I see the moon through the pines. Jilda thought it was the lights of a church. We did pass a church on the Cordova/Parrish road that had some strange steeple light action going.
When we got to the White Church just on the outskirts of Dora, the moon appeared like an apparition. I thought that looks like an incandescent peach hovering just above the horizon. "The color is closer to terracotta Jilda pointed out....or maybe apricot." I spent the rest of the journey home trying to put the description of the moon into words.
As I sat here writing I was struggling with the right words when Jilda stepped into my office with a toothbrush in her mouth....Dreamcicle. Bingo I thought. She nailed it. We both had the good fortune to see a dreamcicle moon tonight. What a gift. I love America.

Friday, August 11, 2006

House of Tears

From the window of my home office there is a house that almost visible through the pine and sweet gum trees. It was built the same year as our house but there has been four families that have lived there. Three couples got divorces and the last ones ran into financial straights and lost the house. It sits vacant with litter in the yard and knee high grass. It looks sad. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.
As each new family moved in, there was a flurry of shrubs were planted, the driveway paved, decks built and walkways edged. The place looked almost cheery for a while, but when love left, the abandoned house fell back into disrepair and the sadness returned.
I like to think we have a happy home. People often tell us they feel comfortable here...that they can put their feet up and relax. I think it's the windows and the light.....or maybe it's the dogs. During daylight hours the humming birds come up to the windows to feed and you can see all kinds of critters out in the yard.
I know there must be birds in yard of the house across the street, but I've never seen one. Maybe they can sense that it's a sad house....a house of tears.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Paying off Ol' Ingrid

We pay off Ingrid tomorrow. Jilda names all her cars. Since Ingrid is a Volvo who was made is Sweden, the name seemed a natrual fit. She's a great car and fun to drive. She's not a chicken spring as our friend Charlie would say, but she looks good and after tomorrow she's all ours.
Maybe it's just me, but a car drives better when she's paid for.
Short post has been long.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

City Lights

Driving home this evening through downtown Birmingham there was a thunderstorm off to the east and shards of lightning slammed at the ground like atomic icicles. Off in the distance I could see Vulcan, the metallic sentinel, standing vigil on Red Mountain. As I sat still in traffic I thought back to 1969 just after Jilda and I started dating. We used to go up to Vulcan at night. We couldn't go to ballgames, swimming, the movies, or most any other place that young people go, because her family was Church of God and those places were a sin in those days. I understand that it's not longer a sin but I'm not quite sure why. Anyhow, one place we could go was to eat and up to Vulcan.
Back then, I don't think there was an elevator.....maybe I'm having a senior moment, but I seem to recall walking up a circular stair case. I do remember that there was an open air viewing stand and you could stand out there, as the wind blew in from the west, and look down on the lights of the city. I know Birmingham has a lot of history and much of it is unflattering, but it is beautiful at night from Vulcan's vantage point. We stood on that platform for hours watch the cars snake through the streets. You could also see planes come and go taking people to who knows where. It was a magical experience that sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite memories.
Vulcan has been restored, beautified, and modernized. I don't think you can get outside anymore. You can't feel the night wind on your face anymore, but the view of those city lights is still spectacular.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dirty Window

You never realize how dirty your windows are until they catch a brilliant setting sun. I tried to remember the last time I cleaned that glass but I really don't recall. It put in mind the windows of a really dirty car....when some kid writes with his fingers "Wash Me." I'll put that on my list.
There's always stuff on my list: clean the gutters, cut the field, trim low hanging limbs so that I don't drive one six inches into my eye when I'm on my riding lawn mower. I'm fairly sure that wouldn't be fun.
Driving in this morning at 6:30 a.m. the haze in the eastern sky was thick as a vail. I think it made the sun angry because it was even hotter today than yesterday. Not sure how we survived without air conditioning.
When I was a kid growing up in West Pratt, the old house did not have AC. We had an old fan that shaped like an ottoman. It was round and sat in the middle of the living room floor. The downturned vents blew air toward the floor and from there it was dispersed around the room. We had to turn the black and white TV up loud enough for the neighbors to hear because of the old fan, but that was a small price to pay.
At night we had a window fan as big as a VW that we put on reverse. It pulled air from the other rooms and blew it out the window as exhaust. This might sound inefficient, but each bedroom had windows and everyone would open their windows up about three inches...the VW fan sucked in air from all the bedrooms and blew it outside. This created a constant breeze which was comfortable on hot August nights. I was thankful for that old fan. In fact I have one just like it in our barn just in case our AC goes out.
In those days you went to sleep listening to the sounds of cicadas, tree frogs, and freight trains rolling through Old Dora on its way to Mississippi. You could almost set you clock by that ol' train.
My older sister got a Sylvania Transistor radio that was the size of a brick and almost as heavy. She would put that radio under the covers and listen to the radio at low volume each night. It was too low for our Dad to hear it, but I could hear it clear as a bell. There was a station out of Memphis that played Elvis and Carl Perkins and that old Sylvania picked it up like it was broadcast from Watkins Drug Store in Dora.
It's funny how a dirty window can send you down such an unexpected path.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Yoga Tonight

I clenched my teeth for most of the day today. I'm not sure where the stress is coming from but my jaw was tighter than a snare drum. At lunch it seemed like all my coworkers could about was the impending force reductions between now and Christmas. There comes a time when you have to say...hey, if I'm going to lose my job, how about doing it before the holidays. The heat just cranked up the stress.
Jilda teaches a Yoga class on Monday nights and I always try to go. I enjoy the class but tonight it was exceptional. We worked hard stretching body parts that have not been stretched in a while....Ok, some of them have not been stretched since Nixon was in the White House. But I didn't think about how sore the muscles will be tomorrow. I didn't think about work...I just thought about "now". I was in a place where everyone does the work they love and pink slips are something that a new bride wears on the honeymoon.
When we got to relaxation, Jilda carried us through a guided meditation that involved cool crisp air blowing down from snow capped mountains. I almost feel asleep. When the class was over, there was no stress in my jaw and I felt taller.
If you've never allowed yourself to experience a Yoga class taught by a teacher that's teaching for the love of it...I highly recommend that you find a class and try it one time. I think you'll be hooked.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Head is Empty

Have you ever started to do something and realized your head is empty? Not sure what causes this condition but I'm suffering from it now. I don't think my mind works good in the heat. There are those who would argue that it doesn't work that good when it's cool either.
I did shoot a photo the other morning while on the way to work. He looked at me as if to say. "Hey man, you're stopping traffic. Is your head empty?"
I used to pass up photo opportunities the later I would kick myself saying "what's wrong with you?" It only takes a second.
There is a photo waiting to happen near my house. I've almost stopped a couple times. There is a lake with baby ducks that swim near the shore. I get to the lake just as the sun is rising and the mist from the lake is hovering just above the surface. I've stopped a few times, but the shot has not been right. The ducks are too far away or the mist is too heavy to get the shot. I have patience so I know it will happen....hopefully it will before the baby ducks have babies of their own.
Y'all stay cool.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Night Riding

I stayed with my Mom tonight to let my sister get out of the house for a few hours. Mom and I watched the Braves. I like the Braves, but my Mom has loved them for as long as I remember. She takes it personally when they lose. It's been a long time since they've lost as much as they have this year. It's almost like the old days.
Driving home tonight I rolled the windows down in my truck and let the warm air blow through the cab of the truck. It felt good. Up in the sky the half moon looked like it was changing behind gauze curtains. A young rabbit darted at warp speed in front of me and I had not time to hit my breaks but the force was with him. Unlike squirrels and possums who are often undecided when headlights bare down on them, this little rabbit blew across the road like a shot.
A chorus of Cicadas in our yard hushed as I rolled into the yard but once the engine shut down and started to tink as it began its journey to coolness, they struck up again with purpose.
The things I remember about August, as a kid growing up in West Pratt, are the sounds made by the Cicadas and turtle doves. I always knew, no matter how hot, that school would be starting soon and autumn was just around the corner.
In a month, the nights will be cooling down considerable and I'll have to run the heater after dark when I do my night riding...but that's ok. After a long hot summer, the thought of cool nights is appealing to me.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Greentop BBQ. If there's any better on the planet, I've never tasted it. Tonight we met our friends Tom and Judy along with Brenda and Danny. We always sit in the pit because it's rowdier down there and we tend to make a lot of noise laughing and telling stories. No trip to the Greentop is complete without Suzy coming around to the table and howdying up with everyone. In the old days, Leo (Suzy's husband who is now deceased) would come around to your table and on special nights, he would serenade you with Gospel songs or maybe the Chattanooga Choo Choo. He loved the old country ballads and I once heard him do a duet with Susy of a George Jones song "Golden Rings". It brought the house down.
All their kids (and their grand kids) worked at the Greentop at different times in their lives. You see all walks of life. People drive up in run down cars, pickups, Mercedes Benz', and motorcycles. Preachers, politicians, doctors, and pulpwood cutters all rub shoulders as they chow down on pork.
We wrote a song about BBQ with our friend Steve. They lyrics go like this:
I've got a cravin' for something fine
Don't want burgers and I don't want fries
Don't want chicken and I don't want fish
Nothin' fat free I want a real man's dish
Not just any ol' thang will do
Got to have me some BBQ

Slab of pork with lots of sauce
You can get it like that down at Archibalds (we interchange this for Greentop at times)
Half a pound of pig on wonder bread
I'm in heaven and I ain't dead
Nothing else in this world will do
Got to have me some BBQ

I feel sorry for them folks up north
They don't know much about cookin' pork
Now they can cook steaks and grill hot dogs
But when it comes to smokin' hogs
Them poor yankees ain't got a clue
About BBQ

I'm a lovin' that BBQ

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Good Guitar

When I first started playing guitar back in the 60's, my Mom and Dad bought me a Tesco DelRay from Sears. I think they paid $25. I was thrilled and I played it incessantly. Come to think of it, I still have it in my office closet. It needs a lot of work because the pickups stopped working long ago and the strings buzz like a fly in an empty "Pet Milk" can when you play up on the neck but I still look at it from time to time and reminisce about back in "the day".
When I got out on my own I bought my first good guitar. It was a Gibson Dove purchased at Stewart Music in Jasper on the installment plan. It cost more than my car I drove. It was the most beautiful guitar I had ever seen and it sounded like Heaven with strings. I played it incessantly.
Jilda and I got hard up for money when I got fired from The Community News on my birthday in January of 76. I sold the guitar and was depressed for what seemed like months. But like all storms, our personal storm passed and we got back on our feet. I bought a guitar that was fairly nice, but it was not a good guitar.
Later I went to work for a good company and managed to save up and buy another good guitar. I know it must be psychological, but it seems like I play better when I held it in my arms.
Through the years, I've upgraded several times and I now have a great guitar that is a joy to play.
Some people find joy in owning houses, cars, computers, and stereos. No matter what you love, I encourage you invest in something fine...something that bring you joy. For me that joy comes from playing a good guitar.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

August in Alabama

You gotta love Alabama in August. Heat index of 106 degrees today. It's what keeps folks form Michigan and New York from moving here. One August I had a friend visit me from New Hampshire. We were going to run to the beer store and when he reached for the seatbelt....well, let's just say he had a Chevy emblem seared on his hand. "HOW THE HELL CAN YOU PEOPLE LIVE HERE." I hated to tell him that it was a mild August.
When folks from up north come down to visit in the fall, they fall in love. The trees put on a kaleidoscope of color and yet there are days it's almost warm enough to swim. If they visit in January, it might be cool in the mornings, but by mid morning a sweater is too warm. In New Haven, New Hampshire they would be shoveling snow to get out of the driveway and the windchill would not be much worse in Antarctica. It's July and August that keeps them at bay.
My wife is not a warm weather person either. She has the local weather for Nova Scotia on her desktop. She will call me at work to tell me the high's today in Nova Scotia is 82 with a light breeze out of the north. "That's nice honey," I say.
Soon August will be a behind us and football season will get into full swing....the only thing to remind us of summer is that Chevy seatbelt emblem scar on the palm of your hand.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Letters From Iraq

I'm getting a letter every few days from Tate Shaneyfelt who is a Dora High School graduate. He's telling readers here what it's like to be in Iraq. I have received so many email from people saying how much they enjoy reading Tate's missives.
I am fascinated by his descriptions. He's in one of the most dangerous places on the planet (well except maybe for the West End of Birmingham) and he keeps writing about what it's like...often with a sense of humor. I respect our soldiers and say a little prayer for their safe return.
The Daily Mountain Eagle picked up on the letters and published several in Sunday's paper. They will be running them each week to give readers a feel for what it's like there.
I saw on the news where Bush is sending in more troops and extending the active duty of many of the soldiers there. I'm not sure if this affect Tate or not.
Tate, like all good soldiers doesn't talk much about the politics of war. They focus on their job and watching after their brothers in arms.
As bad as it is on the soldiers, it think it may be as rough or rougher on the loved ones left behind. Not knowing what's going on over there and the unremitting knowledge that any day an Army Chaplin could show up on their doorsteps and deliver news that would change life as they know it....forever.
My hope is that all our troops come home soon and the world becomes a little more sane for the sake of us all.

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