Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Afternoon

I had to work a while this morning and I ran by my old college alma mater Birmingham Southern. The place has changed a lot since I graduated. The campus is on the west side of Birmingham and it looks like it has doubled in size during the last ten years.
My friend Tom is one of the leaders of the Alabama Honduran Mission and they were meeting today to plan strategy and train new missionaries. I do the website for the mission so I ran by to shoot some pictures of the gathering.
It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was warm and the campus was alive. There were kids strolling to the library and kids headed for the soccer game that was in progress. I parked in the shade and watched for a while.
It's my Saturday to stay with my mom so I headed home and picked up Ol' Buddy. He gets his feelings hurt if he don't get to ride with me. He is so funny with my mom. She acts like she doesn't like animals. Buddy always walks up to her chair and watches her eat. I act like I'm not watching but I can see her give him some of her hamburger and few fries.
We watched the Tide play Florida but that game went south in the last half so I'm not talking about it. I will talk about the Dora Bulldogs who put a whuppin' on Walker last night 41 to 3. That's what's great about sports, if one of your teams loses, you can take comfort in knowing your other one won.
I checked Google Analytics today and I'm amazed at the location of people who visit this Blog. I saw hits from Africa, China, Australia, Europe, and all across America. What a small world we live in now. I think I'll check out the Blogs of my new Cyber Friends.
Have a great Saturday evening.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dora vs. Walker

My high school alma mater plays arch rival Walker tonight at Horace Roberts field. Last year Walker worked us over pretty well at their field in Jasper, but two years ago was one of the best high school football games I've ever witnessed.
The stands were packed on both sides of the field and the ABC 33/40 communications truck was parked on the hill near the 40 yard line and sports cameramen were shooting every play. The crowd was rowdy and a group of kids were shirtless with letters painted on their chests that read GO BULLDOGS.
Spirits were high as the coin was tossed. Walker won and chose to receive. The Vikings looked like a college team on the field.
When the whistle blew and play began, Walker marched down the field and scored 7 points before the lights got warm.
Not to worry, the Dogs were pumped. Quarterback Jorge Williams hit a wide open tight end right between the numbers, but he couldn't find the handle and the ball fell to the turf. The drive stalled without scoring and Walker quickly scored again. It looked like size was going to be a huge factor as the Vikings defense backed the Dawgs up deep in their own territory and a bad snap from center forced the punter to kick the ball back into their own end zone for a safety to avoid a Viking touchdown....Walker16 Dora Zip. Walker added another score before the half to push the score to 23 - 0.
At this point, even the Dora faithful were concerned. There were a few on the sidelines that were calling in plays, second guessing the coaches' game plan. The tension was palatable. I never heard a discouraging word from the sideline.
Late in the second half, Dora had the ball. There were a lot of long faces and the fans had ceased to be a factor. All of a sudden Chase Pierce took a handoff from quarterback Jorge Williams and dragged the right side of Walker's massive line for 8 yards. He burst out of the pile like a Phoenix and raced back to the huddle fired up....that was the spark. All of a sudden, the Dawgs came alive and started moving the ball and the fans got back into the game. Dora scored and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
'm not sure what the coaches said to the team during half time, but apparently it was something they needed to hear because except for one field goal, the second half belonged to the Dora Bulldogs. They scored enough to bring the score to 20-26.
Late in the fourth quarter, Jorge Williams connected with a Dora halfback on the Walker sideline and he raced 40 yards to tie the score 26 to 26. The crowd was hysterical. Apparently the refs were not as emotionally involved because Dora got flagged for celebration. The touchdown counted, but the penalty backed the ball up too far and Dora missed the extra point. Coach Wright was livid. He spoke at length to the refs but to no avail. To his credit, he got hot but he kept his cool. The other coaches kept the team calm and focused.
With the score tied, Dora had one more shot during regulation play to win the game. Jorge Williams threw a perfect pass to Marquis Chappel. It appeared that Marquis was held in the end zone by a Viking defender, but he still almost caught the pass with one arm. No flag was thrown. Time expired and the game went into overtime.
Walker won the right to have the ball first and overtime play began on the 10 yard line. The undersized Dora defense held tough for four downs stopping the Vikings on the 6 yard line a field goal attempt missed wide to the right.
Dora got a fresh set of downs on the 10 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage the Dogs got stuffed for a short loss. The second play, Marquis Chappel danced through the line untouched for a touchdown and the stadium broke out into pandemonium. The final score, Dora 32 and Walker 26. All the players and cheerleaders and hundreds of fans met in the middle of the field to celebrate.
I have never seen a group of kids play with so much heart. A lot of teams would have given up and would have been slaughtered by a larger foe. But the Dora Bulldogs clawed and scratched and gave 200% and they never gave up.
This is the first time Dora has defeated Walker since 1994. Dora moved their record to 4 and 0 for the year and they have won 24 straight regular season games.

Let's just hope tonight's game will be as good as the game two years ago.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


When I walked out of the building this evening the wind was blowing out of the north west and it felt cool on my face even though the sun was warm. I caught a whiff of Jim & Nick's BBQ as I made my way to the truck. There was an azure sky with billowy white cotton candy clouds.
Days like this make my commute more enjoyable. I rolled down my window and let the cool air blow through what hair I have left. I noticed that people are putting up autumn decorations with bales of hay, pumpkins and fall flowers. Before long the trees will start turning and we'll start to smell burning leaves in the late afternoon.
When I was in the Army in Panama, there was no autumn and I missed it. My good friend Kirk Trachy from New Hampshire missed it even more. He got a care package from his sister late in October of 1972. She had included cookies, some jelly, and the contents were protected by autumn leaves. After we got off work the next evening, we all went out by the ocean and built a small fire with his pile of leaves. The aroma was heavenly. We all laid back in the sand and enjoyed the moment. That simple smell was enough to send us all back home for a while. What a gift.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I take the stereo in my truck for granted. It plays not only regular CD's but also MP3's. You may say "so what" but MP3 files are much smaller than regular CD files. A normal CD has 10 to 15 songs. On rare occasions one might have as many as 20 or 21, but a common CD can hold way over a hundred songs....on one CD.
The problem was with Jilda's stereo....she has an older Volvo in which we usually travel. It had a cassette player...until today. She took my truck to have tires put on it at our local tire store today and I drove her car. I went over to Circuit City near where I work and had an Eclipse Stereo that plays CD's and MP3's installed. She had to work late tonight so she hasn't seen it yet. I can't wait to surprise her. This stereo is awesome. I turned it up loud to test it and my nose is still bleeding from the bass. Heck, she could play Hip Hop music in there if she likes but I think she'd rather pass a kidney stone.
Since I'm a songwriter, I don't pirate music, but when I buy CD's, I usually rip them to MP3's and then take my favorite songs and make homemade CD's. It's like a rolling jukebox. You can hit random play on the stereo and it will play your favorite songs for hours.
She loves music as much as I and I know she will faint when she hears this stereo.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Eagle

I was glad the space shuttle returned home without incident last week. I clearly remember the day the Challenger exploded just after takeoff on a cold January morning in 1986. We had been working on a song called "The Storm Brings Out the Eagle". I was working evenings then so I was home until early afternoon. Jilda's mom Ruby called sobbing saying "that thang blew up, that thang blew up!" At first I had no idea what she was saying. I wasn't sure if she meant something in their house but she managed to tell me to turn on the television. Like so many Americans, I was in shock. They were running a video of the astronauts smiling broadly and waving to the cameras. The next clip showed the terrible explosion. I was saddened and depressed for days afterwards.
Jilda and I completed the song a short time later.

When the horizon fills
With clouds of the storm
Small birds seek their refuge
When the thunder rolls
and the wind is borne
The weak await the deluge
But the storm brings out the eagle
To challenge the wind and the clouds
The storm brings out the eagle
Soaring high and free and proud
Defiantly face the fury
Determined to see it through
May all the storms of your life
Bring out the eagle in you

When your trials are many
Your triumphs are few
And your fire is down to an ember
When your spirit is weary
You're lost and confused
There's one thing that you should remember
Repeat chorus

A friend of ours recently pitched this song to an organization that is putting together a benefit CD for victims of Katrina.
I hope it takes wings and helps to raise money for those who are less fortunate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Frog Festival

I love small town festivals. I do the website for the Opp RattleSnake Rodeo and we've been the last two years and it is a hoot. Sumiton is having Frog Festival and Chili Cookoff on October 7th on Main Street. There will be Arts & Crafts, fun games for the kids and live music. There will be a lot of bands including The Overalls who will be playing. It was kind of shoo-in for us since Jilda is the one booking all the music.
It's too bad that I'm the spouse of one of the organizers because I know for sure I'd win the Chili Cookoff. I have placed in several local chili competitions. I would have won the contests outright except the judges were all soup eaters. Any time you have soup eaters for judges, the real chili always takes second place. "This is not like my Campbells Chili," the wusses say. I challenge you to find Jalapenpeno peppers, small chunks of prime cut sirloin steak, and imported chili beans. It makes my head sweat just thinking about it.
All and all, it should be a lot of fun. Come on out and enjoy a small town fall day.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saying Goodbye to the Trees

There is a vacant lot across the road from our house. The people who own the property have decided to cut the timber off the land. They started cutting at the back of the property on Wednesday. Jilda was off and it was a beautiful day but she couldn't spend time outside for the sound of falling trees. I get a newspaper daily and I'm not so naive that I don't know from where that paper comes. But sometimes you forget until something brings it home to you. We have lots of trees in our yard and the wildlife that lives across the road will surely move over to our house. We might lose trees to wildfire, to storms, or to disease, but we won't lose trees to chainsaws except under rare circumstances....and even then it will not be done light heartedly.
You can call me a tree hugger if you like, but on this rainy Sunday morning in September I am saying goodbye to the trees.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday Afternoon

Alabama lost to Arkansas tonight in overtime this evening. I used to get physically sick when The Tide lost. It was almost as if I had lost. One would have thought that part of my identity hinged on the outcome of a football game. I know that sounds crazy, it sounds crazy to me even as I write the words right now, but thatÂ’s the way it was.
I still really love to see them win, but when they don't, I can now tell myself "itÂ’s just a game" and believe it. I can still enjoy the rest of my weekend and not sulk and watch reruns of the 1992 National Championship Game with Miami where we took their lunch and ate it. It must be a part of getting older. I value my time and just because my team loses, it doesnÂ’t make ME a loser. I can't afford to worry over missed field goals.
It's getting dark and a thunderhead is moving in from the northeast. I can see the flash of lightening within the clouds. Me and OlÂ’ Buddy are sitting in the parking lot of FoodWorld waiting on Jilda to buy groceries. I love having a laptop. I can write while I do one of my other favorite past times which is people watching. In this part of Walker County, Alabama you run the gamut......there are some of the most beautiful women on the planet right here but there are some women that would scare Frankenstein. I just saw a gal walk into the store that would dress-out at about 210 pounds and she was wearing an I Love NY tee shirt and cut off blue jeans that left little to the imagination. She was with a guy (I would bet his name was Bubba) who had on overalls with no shirt on. They had a dog in the back of their truck and he was ugly too.
But a few minutes later, there was a woman about 30 years old, thin, with blonde hair and she looked as if she had just stepped out of Vogue Magazine. IÂ’m telling you, itÂ’s a strange and wonderful place.
On another subject, Jilda heard the dogs barking last night and got up to investigate. She turned on the porch light and then scolded our dogs to make the shut up before she came back to bed. When she returned she said it was some little creature in the yard with a long skinny tail that was bouncing around. You can't believe how strange that sounded at 3 a.m. this morning. That's great babe I said.....but what I thought was...she's finally lost her marbles. Those flashbacks that everybody talked about in the 60's....have arrived in Jildaville.
But this morning while we were drinking our coffee and watching the humming birds I looked down below the feeders and there was a tiny dog. When I walked to the porch to have a look, it started bouncing like a rabbit and left our yard in a flash. I realized that she had not been hallucinating.
I got my shoes on and went to the side of the house and opened our back gate. And just as I thought, the little Chihuahua went inside the fence. I closed the gate behind the critter and walked in. That little dog bounced all around our back yard trying to escape. It looked like a jack rabbit on speed. Jilda came out and sat down for a few minutes and it came right up to her as if it was she he had been searching for.

It looks like it has been neglected for some time. Thin as a reed with flea bites. I'm not sure if it lost its way or what. We called my niece Samantha and she hustled over and took possession. She loves dogs as much as we do and if the owners don't show up soon, that little dog will belong to her.
So, if you've lost a small Chihuahua, male, about 5 pounds, you'd better show up soon to claim it or risk losing it forever.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I was off today and we spent this morning working around the house. We cooled off after lunch and took a nap. When we awoke the sky outside looked a little odd. I stepped out into the yard and you could hear the roar of upper level winds and thunder off in the distance. The street light in our yard came on.
The weatherman says we are under a tornado watch. The temperature outside is almost 90 degrees and about forty miles north of us it is 67 degrees. As that cool weather drifts down toward us, the skies will get angry.
The county in which I live just recently installed new tornado sirens and I really hope we don't have to test them this evening.
Outside the rain has moved in and this is not a gentle rain but water bullets. As the main body of the storm approached, it sounded like applause in a concert hall.
Each time one of these episodes rumbles through, I swear that I'm going to build a storm pit just in case one of the storms comes this way.
For all my friends in north Alabama, keep your head down

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tired of Talking on the Phone

I was on a conference call for hours today. The call had nothing to do with me, but I was there as a resource in case someone needed to ask me a question. I leaned back in my chair and put my feet on my desk. Sometime later I woke myself up snoring. Not sure how long I had been out but the call droned on..."shouldn't we have known this beforehand that this could have been an issue.....well if we had done so and so, would it have made a difference in the outcome????"
I had a momentary urge to stick a #3 pencil into my eye.....up to the eraser. I wanted to say that sometimes things breakdown and we don't know why but apparently some people don't deal well with ambiguity. "What will I tell the customer????" one of the participants asked...nay almost pleaded. A thought came to mind: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them will bull manure. Well you see sir sun spots were quite active today and a free radical neutrino hit our system board at the speed of light tripping the jump bit on the internal clock timing interface which cause a reciprocal data flow ecache memory error and this resulted in a system panic and subsequent outage. You did study quantum physic in high school didn't you sir?
After the call, I almost sprinted out of the building....I decided to head out a few minutes early and once outside, my mood changed. The sun was warm and there was a slight breeze out of the northwest. The sky was clear as crystal. I heard a distint honking sound from above. Up in the sky I saw a V of ducks headed south for the winter.
I'm off tomorrow but the weatherman says it's going to rain. That's OK with me. I plan to kick back and let Jilda do the talking on the phone tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Merry Christmas

I wanted to be the first this year to wish you a Merry Christmas. I know it's hard to believe but in three months five days it will be Christmas. You gotta pay attention or your life will scoot by you like a humming bird on caffeinated sugar water.
Just then I paged back through the blog entries since the first of the year and I get a sense of how I spent my year. There are some things I put on my goals that I have not completed yet, but I do still have a few months and most everything is doable. This has been a year of adjustment. As stated before, Jilda spent a great deal of time the last few years caring for her mother and September of last year was brutal on both of us because he mom's condition was in rapid decline.
But we made it through.
This year we've both tried to refocus on our health with walking and yoga. Most days she teaches four classes. I do two classes a week, but I walk almost every day. My weight is down and I feel good. Other areas in which I have made positive progress is playing guitar. Here is something I discovered some time ago about playing. Every once in a while, you have to get away from it. Put the guitar down and don't pick it up. When I started playing again this year, I could do things I could not do before. The notes a cleaner and smoother.
OK, I'm rambling so I'm going to stop now but I am going to play a song or two before I go to sleep.
Maybe we'll go pick out a Christmas tree this weekend :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Traffic Jam

I got off work later than usual this evening and when I walked outside, I could tell a big difference in the weather. It seemed about 15 degrees cooler. There was a light breeze from the northwest and the sky was clear of haze. Very nice I thought.
Usually when I get out a little later, traffic is lighter and I make good time, but today when I got to Homewood, there was a big ol' parking lot....all three northbound lanes.
Under these conditions you have a couple choices. You can sit there and stew or you can take a fresh look at the landscape that you blow by each day without notice. Breathing deeply also helps. In looking around at the people in other cars and trucks who were traffic jam mates with me, it seemed that everyone was taking it in stride. There was a lady that was obviously listening to a really funny radio show or perhaps a funny book on tape because she was laughing so hard she was pounding her steering wheel. Another young girl crept up beside me in a Mustang convertible and she was talking to someone on the phone. By the look on her face, I would guess that it was a boyfriend or maybe a husband. She had the look of love on her face. A guy in a BMW had his day planner on the opened up on his steering wheel and he was calling people on a speed dial, setting up appointments. Apparently he had set up a mobile command center right there on Interstate 65 sense in wasting valuable time.
There was a guy on foot that was out pacing all the cars stuck there and I was not the only driver who found it amusing.
Maybe it was the change in the weather that kept tempers from flaring or maybe the topaz sky and grey mauve clouds that were drifting by at a faster clip. But something was different today and it was a welcome change.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Birth Place

I know within a few feet where I was born. I'm not sure why, but I find it strangely comforting to know this. On a cold grey winter morning, on January 15th 1951, Dr. Baker walked the hundred yards from his house, which sat next to Horse Creek, to our house and delivered me into this world. I believe, without benefit of any scientific proof, that the time of birth (early in the morning) is why I am an early riser.
The house was an old house with rough pine board siding and heart pine walls and floors. It sat at what is now the intersection of Old Dora Road and the Cordova-Dora Road. Troy Morrison and his family lived there after we moved on and his family was the last family to inhabit the house.
The old commissary which is where many of the miners that lived in the area shopped, was close enought to hit with a slingshot from my house.
The mining companies created a temporary currency called clacker which miners could use to buy things at the commissary. They could get clacker, which was like a loan against their paychecks, and buy food clothing and other necessities to get them through. Many miners would borrow against their paydays to the extent that by the time payday rolled around, all the money went to the mining company. It was a vicious cycle.
Thus the line in the old song Sixteen Tons
"St. Peter don't you call me cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store."

A while back Ol' Buddy and I were riding around on a laid back sunny Saturday afternoon and we stopped by the old birth place and sat for a long while contemplating the past and the future. It felt good sitting there. At one time there was a gigantic old black walnut tree that stood in the yard. Back behind the house was an artesian well that flowed a steady stream of ice cold water which came from somewhere deep and it tasted sweet and pure.
While we sat there I thought to myself.....this was a good place to be born.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Defender

I am sitting on the screen porch writing as the clouds move in. The weatherman says a cold front is headed our way and rain is eminent.
Just then a big dog ambled into the yard. Ol' Buddy was sitting at my feet and he tensed up and the hair raised on his back and he tore off the porch like a Rottweiler. He doesn't like any other animals around me and he put the dog on the road. But I was screaming at the top of my lungs BUDDYYYYYY GET BACK HERE!!!!! I could just see that dog turning around and making canine sushi out of Ol' Buddy.
When Jilda and I first married, we lived in a mobile home in Sumiton. I worked with her Dad for a time when I was between jobs. We went to this house down in Burnwell to do some plumbing work and a woman there had a long-haired German Shepherd. He was a magnificent animal. He took up with me immediately and followed me every step I made. Sharky (Jilda's Dad) when we had finished the job said, "she might give you that dog if you asked just right." I mistakenly thought he had already broached the subject with her. So I asked. She said, "well, we hadn't thought about it, but we do have a new born baby and we have been worried what to do with the dog." She called her husband and they agreed that I could have the shepherd. His name was Duke. Let's go boy I commanded and he jumped up in the bed of that truck as if he had been waiting for me all his life.
(What started me down this path was the canine sushi remark above.) There was an older woman in our neighborhood that had a Chiuaua who ruled the roost before Duke arrived on the scene. About the second day we had Duke the Chiuaua was going to show him the road and the next think I knew all I could see was the Chiuaua's tail and two back feet dangling out of Duke's mouth. STOPPPPPPPP Duke. ....PUT HIM DOWN!!! I commanded. I ran over and pried the critter out of Duke's mouth. He had a lot of slime about the head and torso but unhurt. It was a miracle the tiny dog had not been running faster when he colided with Duke because he may have been swallowed entirely. When I put him on the ground he was off like a shot and he allowed Duke to remain in the neighborhood. After a while, they even became good friends.
Duke was a defender too. We kept that dog 13 years and when he died, I cried like a baby.
If people were as loyal and brave as dogs, this old world would be a better place.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Long Day

I did not see the sunshine today. I had to be at work early for some high profile work and I haven’t been outside. There is a very loud noise in the computer room that sounds like a TV turned up all the way….except it’s not on a channel. When you come out of the room, your ears roar for hours. That can’t be good.
My mind drifted away, trying to imagine what it would be like to never have to hear that sound again. The thought of that brought a smile to my face. My really good friend
Ken did this work for many years and he retired in March I know of several companies that have called him to offer him a job. Each time he just smiles and says, “I think I’ll pass.” He’s always loved music and he had made MP3’s out of all his records, tapes, and CD’s. When he was doing computer work, he never had time to organize his collection. The last time I talked to him, he was listening to them all and getting things in order. He sounded happy.
There are so many things I want to do, but can never seem to find the time. My blog gets the short end of the (time) stick, and I’ve written too few songs this year. My shed is a mess and you could grow corn on my truck….and speaking for growing things, I tried a container garden in the spring but the heat, lack of time and inexperience reduced the harvest to a few tomatoes and some hot pepper.
My friend Brian came through his brain surgery just fine. I think when he gets back to work, I’m going to put in for a week of vacation and hike somewhere deep in the woods so the only sounds I hear are the sounds of Mother Nature.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Waiting for Inspiration

Someone asked me the other day where I get my ideas for songs, blog entries and stories. It's very hard to say. I don't have method to my madness, I simply sit down and hold my fingers over the keyboard until a thought arrives. Some days are much easier than others. If I see or hear something interesting or go somewhere I have never been, that's often the catalyst that gets my motor running. Other days, I sit here and drum on the keys waiting for inspiration.
So far, my writing has been confined to 5 minute songs, or 500 word blog entries. That's fortunate because the amount of time that I can devote to my writing is currently very limited.
I usually write at the end of a long day when I have twenty or thirty minutes maximum. I've found that the amount of time I have is directly proportional to quality of the words. If I have an hour or so to write, I'll pour myself a glass of wine, put on some non-distracting music sit out on the porch with the laptop and write away. That's the way I prefer to write.
Tonight, I'm going to the Dora Bulldog football game so I don't have the luxury of time.
Thankfully, tonight I didn't spend much time drumming on the keys as an idea came to me immediately.
Hope you all have a great weekend and I hope your favorite football team wins.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kick the Can

I walked out on the deck to put the coffee grounds in our compost pile and the pre-dawn air was cool. Directly over head the half moon was shining down. I thought to myself, it won't be long before I will be saying brrrrrrr when I walk out in the morning. I wanted to go back inside and make hot chocolate with marshmallows instead of the usual coffee. Not sure what it is about the first good cool spell that makes me crave hot chocolate.
In October we usually have a weenie roast for the kids (our niece Samantha and her friends.) They're all grown now, but they still like to come over and burn some weenies and marshmallows and sit by the fire.
We used to have these weenie roasts when I was a kid too. We'd have every kid in the neighborhood out and after eating till we'd almost spew, we'd play night games. Kick the can was my favorite. It's a takeoff on hide and seek but you stack three pet milk cans on each other and that stack of cans serves as home base. The one that is "IT" guards the cans and tries to spot the hiders. The objective of the hiders is to get to the cans and kick them without the "IT" kid spotting them and running to touch the cans. When you get caught, you have to stand near the cans and hope that the "IT" kid gets caught off guard and someone gets to the cans and kicks them. If that happens, everyone if free to hide again. It's a scream.
I'd be interested in hearing what kind of games you readers played when you were kids.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fall Daisys

I'm starting to see fall daisies. They grow in abundance on the road to the interstate. On September and October mornings before the frost comes, you can see them glowing in the morning sun.
They brighten my day.
I've dug up clumps of them and transplanted them to the bank near my mailbox but so far they haven't taken root. If anyone has any insight as to how to make them live, I'd love to hear it.
I'm a little pensive and preoccupied tonight. My friend and co-work Brian who lives in Miami has not felt well for the last few weeks. I badgered him into going to the doctor. The ENT doctor gave him medicine but set up a catscan this afternoon. His wife called a while ago saying the doctor that did the catscan sent them to the emergency room. It seems he has some kind of fluid on his brain. I'm not sure what that serious it is but my mind is elsewhere just now. I choose to believe that he will be fine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Rain is Like an Old Friend

I sat alone at lunch today and looked out the window at the falling rain. The sky looked like it was covered by a fuzzy grey blanket. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a slow soaking rain.

My mind drifted back to when I was a child in West Pratt. Our house sat up high off the ground on cinder blocks pillars and I spent many rainy days under the front porch with my dog Boss. I kept toy cars, army men, tractors and boats under there. I must have built a thousand miles of dirt roads with bridges and underpasses. When I’d get tired of building, there would be some kind of wreck or natural calamity that would take out a bridge and injure the plastic men horribly. It was not uncommon for those workers under there to lose an arm or a leg and sometimes a head.

I also loved just sitting under there and watching the rain. The old sycamore and cottonwood trees in the yard were natural shelters for all kinds of birds and other critters.

When the rain stopped falling, I would go to a small creek that flowed near our house and I would float leaves, sticks, and crude handmade boats down the bubbling creek.

There was a culvert that allowed the water from that little creek to flow under the road that ran in front of our house.

I’ve spent a lot of hours in that “tunnel” too. It had a funny echo and the water made an almost metallic sound as it made its way through. On the other side of the road, the culvert poured into a small pool of water that was full of frogs, water-bugs, and craw dabs (not sure if that’s a word but that’s what we called them). It was its own biosphere. I sat in that tunnel and dreamed about what I would do when I grew up.

Many years later when I started to work for The Community News as a photographer and writer, I did a little story about that tunnel and I shot a black and white photograph of my younger brother in there. It holds a fond place in my memory.

I’ve heard people curse the rain and to be honest, back when I had to work outside, I wasn’t that fond of it either, but nowadays I welcome the rain like an old friend.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Earth to Rick, Earth to Rick - come in Rick

Several months back I was registering my blog with several of the blog directories. One of them was and interesting directory called "Blog in Space" by MindComet. I thought to myself, now that's an interesting name for a blog. Anyhow they sent me a note today saying that Life 101 would be featured on their directory on September 22nd. Something about being "The Most Likely to Be Contacted". How cool is that?
I love space anyhow. I've spent a lot of time stargazing. Back in 1977 Jilda and I went to the theater to see Star Wars and it blew me away. Never had I seen a movie that had it all. Adventure, romance, space aliens, and lots of action. I also like the fact that George Lucus did that film with very little budget and launched a world wide phenomenon.
I hope I am contacted when the space aliens arrive. I'll post a link to "Blog in Space" next week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Blog Takes the Back Seat

The Blog takes the back seat tonight. We had friends come over that we haven't seen in some time and so I spent time with them. We talked about music and travel and books and movies. What a treat!
I will strive to do better tomorrow.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


My mom doesn't cook anymore and that's something I really miss. Like most women her age, she prided herself as a cook. Her fried corn, okra and green tomatoes make my mouth water just sitting here writing about it. There were people wishing that some of their kinfolks would die so mamma would cook food and take it to there house.
The meat and veggies were good, but she is known for her cakes, pies and pastries. For years, Jilda asked her for her recipe for the apple pies that the family fought over. She would never give Jilda the recipe and would give no explanation as to why. A few years ago she agreed and said the reason she had been hesitant was because she was afraid Jilda wouldn't eat them anymore (Jilda has always been mindful in her eating habits). "Well you start out with two sticks of butter and a cup of lard," she explained. There was enough sugar in there to throw a grown man in to a coma. But those pies were good.
Another favorite of mine was her Orange Slice Cake..below is the recipe for it:
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups of self-rising flour
2 cups of sugar
1/2 lb. butter (or margarine)
1 lb. Orange slice candy
1 lb. dates
2 cups pecans
Mix and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours
Bake in tube pan

1 cup orange juice
1 3/4 cups sugar
Bring to a boil and pour over the cake

Friday, September 08, 2006

Moonlight Music Tonight

We're playing at the Moonlight Music Cafe tonight. I've been apprehensive because I felt somewhat unprepared but the last few practices have been good ones and we're as ready as we're going to be.
The uneasiness stems from grade school I know. It's that feeling that you're having a big test and you've spent too much time playing football with your buddies in your neighborhood and not enough time on the books and you know what wrath a failed test brings from the parents. My mother took a dim view a bad grades and the retaliation was swift.
Playing in front of crowds of people before I'm ready gives me that same type of feeling deep in my gut. I spent some time today examining these feelings. As it turns out, if I mess up and forget the words or blow a guitar part, I will make a joke to the crowd and we'll all have a good laugh. When I get home, I can watch television and play football with my friends if I want.
I read somewhere that about 90 % of the things people fear never come about. We spend an incredible amount of time and energy fretting over things that don't happen. What's the deal with that? The trick is to recognize these feelings and acknowledge them. Then ask yourself "what's the worst thing that can happen if I fail?" After looking at the situation closely, you often discover that the consequences of the failure are not that great.
So wish us luck tonight. Roll Tide tomorrow. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Wish I Had a Window

I work in a secure building in town and I'm deep in the bowels, nowhere close to a window. The lights used in these buildings compound the problem. There should be a law against fluorescent lights. I have to take breaks now and then to walk outside for a moment or at least somewhere near a window to regain my balance.
On occasion when a nearby conference room is not in use, I'll move my laptop in there and set up shop. It has a wall of windows all the way to the ceiling. It may be psychological, but I feel like I get more accomplished in there.
I know for a fact that I'm more creative at home because our house is the polar opposite of where I work. We have lots of windows and the play of the light on the floors and walls makes for a constant slideshow. I'm not sure who designed our office building but I think they should be spanked with a ping pong paddle.
Speaking of creativity, we are planning a get-a-way to the mountains soon to do some song writing. The last time we did that we wrote three really good songs. It's like you get in a groove and one idea sparks another and our energy seems to feed off each other. It's a fun experience and one that we don't do nearly enough.
On another music note (pun intended) I went into Barnes and Nobles last week looking for a book on Neural Linguisic Programming. While browsing through the books near the back of the store, I heard a beautiful song being played in the music department. Nice, I thought. Then the next song was excellent too. Before leaving I went over to the clerk and asked for the artist. I don't listen to pop music that much and didn't recognize the voice. The artist turned out to be Leigh Nash. I came home and downloaded the CD off of iTunes. This record blew me away. No record in recent memory comes close to the melodies this girl writes.
"My Idea of Heaven" is a song that I would be willing to bet will be a hit.
Dinner's on so I'm cutting this entry short. I am interested in any ideas on how to make a windowless cube bearable.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The River

The setting sun cast a dappled honey light on the poplar trees in the field behind our house. The poplar trees get a jump on the oak and hickory and drop their leaves early before the first bite of frost. It's probably so the leaves and seed have first dibbs on the fertile soil. I don't know that for a fact, just an observation. I hope we get some rain before it turns off cold. Dry autumns are less spectacular and are more prone to forest fires.
Each year we try to do a river cruise with our friends Tom and Judy. They have a place on the river and a pontoon boat. Each year they take a bunch of their close friends on the cruise. We take food, wine, our guitars and of course our cameras and make an afternoon of it. From time to time you hear people from other places make fun of Alabama. That's ok with me, but I would be willing to bet my guitar that if that same person had the good fortune to travel with us on our autumn pilgrimage they would come away with a different view of our beautiful state.
It's common to see deer, wild turkey, blue heron, crane's and other water fowl. We take pictures, tell stories, swap jokes, and play songs that everyone knows the words to. But we spend a great deal of time just floating down the river in silence spellbound by the beauty all around us.
The river is different than other bodies of water. At Smith Lake, the price of real estate has driven out many of the smaller cabins and other unique dwellings. But at the river, you can see anything from a camper trailer to multi-million dollar homes with yachts. And on the river, people just seem friendlier. As we drift by on the pontoon, people sitting in the afternoon sun will wave and make river talk.
In a few more weeks, we'll have a better idea of what weekend will be best for our trek. This year, I'll be sure to get some good pictures to share in the blog.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


What a difference a few days make. Last week it was hotter than the devil's pitchfork and today as I sit on the side porch with the ceiling fan running, I got a little bit of a chill. I can hear a squirrel down in the hollow barking at a trespasser of some kind. They are checking their winter stashes of acorn and hickory nuts. Soon they will be battening down the hatches awaiting cooler weather.
Another sign that fall is just around the corner is the humming birds. They are in a feeding frenzy at my front windows. I used to think it was a change in the weather that started them on their journey southwards but I've learned it is the amount of daylight that causes them to hit the road. I guess the little critters needed something much more predictable than the weather.
I also read that you should keep your feeders out even after they seem to have left because often there are birds that get a late start due to an injury or for some other reason. I used to think that keeping the feeders out too long would encourage them to hang around too long and get caught out in the cold. A little bit of information solves a lot of mysteries.
The Overalls are playing a gig at Moonlight Music Friday night and I'm a little apprehensive. Taking a two year sabbatical had its advantages in one way, but it takes a while for a band to get back into the groove. I've been practicing a lot, but distance keeps the three of us from practicing together as much as we would like.
We're headed to Helena tonight to practice a while. Hopefully I'll feel better after a few more intense hours of jamming.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dorothy Nailed It - "There's No Place Like Home"

There's no place like home. I love getting out of town and it's good to see new places. But I always love getting back sleeping in my bed.
Sometimes on your journey, the most unexpected things happen. We were headed west to our destination and missed our turn. My co-pilot said turn around I hung a left and just off the road we saw a remarkable old church. It looked like a photograph so naturally I shot a photo.
The light in the picture was great for the full building, but I couldn't get a decent picture of the stained glass which was incredible.
That's what life will do for you. You're cruising along and miss your turn. You have two options. You can get frustrated which does absolutely no good or you can take a breath and consider it a gift.
That's what I try to do. I will say that I'm not always successful, but that is my intention.
The get-a-way was a lot of fun. We had a chance to have fun with Jilda's sister Pat and our niece Jayna. They both travel well and are up for most anything.
By this morning however, I'd had about as much fun as I could stand and I was ready to head back to Empire.
When we pulled into the yard, Samantha had brought Buddy back home and he was in the yard waiting for us. When I stepped out of the truck and squatted down, he leaped into my lap very happy to see me. Coming home is even better with a welcoming committee headed up by Ol' Buddy.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hot Spot

I love technology. I was worried that the hotel might not have internet service that would enable me to update the blog today but it has a hotspot down by the hotel pool. So I'm sitting here writing to you enjoying the evening sun.
Kids are splashing and squealing like banshees. You can take a kid that's in a rotten mood and throw him in water and he'll turn into a happy child. I know I'm happier in water.
In the old days getting access to email and to the internet could be a pain. Now you pop open the old laptop and bam! Your connected. Is America great or what!
We called to check on Ol' Buddy a while ago and he was sitting on the couch in my brother-in-law's lap eating a Slim Jim. Apparently Life is good for Buddy too. We'll have a time getting him home tomorrow.
Y'all have a safe and fun Labor Day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hitting the Road

Ol' Buddy knows something's up. We are so careful when we start packing to go out of town but at the first site of our black travel bag, he's out the door like a shot and he camps out by the cars. "I saw you packin' and this car ain't moving without me in it," he seems to be saying. "And if you try, there's gonna be a problem." He loves riding and he goes with us often when the weather is not too hot.
When we do go out of town, we leave him with our niece Samantha who spoils him rotten. When we get back into town, he plays it for all it's worth. "No, you don't love me, so I've got a new home now. You can just go back home and Sam will come over later and get Mighty Dog and my water bowl." Talking about a guilt trip, he can lay one on you without saying a word.
As I've written in the past, Ol' Buddy belonged to Jilda's mom. He took every step she took. When she fell and broke her hip, she was in the hospital and in therapy for well over a month. It broke his heart because he had no way of understanding what happened. I gradually won him over during that ordeal and he came to live with us. Even after she came home, he could not back with her because her health began to decline at a rapid pace. As a result, he became our dog...more specifically, he became my dog.
I actually don't like leaving him behind. But most hotels take a dim view of pets and we do have a great place to leave him so from time to time we do leave him...but we'll miss him.
I'm hoping the hotel where we are staying has an internet connection so that I can update the blog for tomorrow, but if I don't, I'll do two on Monday.
Y'all have a safe and fun weekend.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Holiday Weekend

I love holiday weekends. Jilda and I are going out of town for a couple days for a long deserved holiday. We're going to go to a hotel, lay out by the pool, sip drinks with tiny umbrellas in them and catch a concert.
I'm not sure when my life got so complicated, but we find it more difficult to get away. When we were younger, we would throw our stuff in the back of our old car and hit the road and go to festivals, the mountains, the beach or simply to visit friends. It didn't take a lot of money or planning. We often flew by the seat of our pants.
On our 15th anniversary we went to Helena, Arkansas to visit our friend Tommy Wilson who was the publisher of the newspaper there. Helena is a neat old southern town on the Mississippi just across the river from Memphis. Tommy arranged for us to have a suite in the Edwardian Inn which is a remarkable old Bed and Breakfast. The old home pre-dated the Civil War and had been restored. The property was near a Confederate Cemetery where a number of generals were burried. It was a remarkable experience.
Our room on the second floor, had a porch with a view of the Mississippi River. The woman that owned the B&B was a remarkable cook so we had gourmet meals and good wine. The room had fresh flowers and chocolates on the pillows.
We attended a Blues Festival in Helena too. We saw all the great blues players. Buddy Guy, Rita Mae Hemphill, the Kinsey Report, and Levon Helm who was actually born in Helena.
On Saturday night we were invited to a shot house out in the middle of a Mississippi cotton field. We were the only white folks there. Some folks might have been uncomfortable but we were treated well and you have not heard Delta Blues until you've heard shot-house blues.
Anyhow, I hope you all enjoy your long weekend and that you get a chance to do something fun.

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