Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

I am on the side porch writing this evening. I have all the Jack-O-Lanterns and skulls lit with candles in preparation for the trick or treaters that will most likely not come. They never come. We live too far out in the country for most kids today. They opt for high density neighborhoods with Mercedes and Lexus' in the driveway. We always prepare and occasionally when a trickster does come by, we load them down with all kinds of goodies. Looks like word would get out and we'd be swamped but that's just not the case.
A while ago when I first came out, the sky was a little overcast but you could still see rays of the setting sun peep through the clouds. As I sat here, I noticed a sound that was pleasing to the ear. It was whispering pines. Clouds as thick as pillows had moved in and the wind began to blow through the tops of the trees. The chimes on our porch started tinkling. I thought we were in for a blow, but it moved on to the east as quickly as it came in.
My older sister Mary Lois is still vacationing in Burma (Myanmar) and won't be home until the weekend so today was my shift to stay with my mom. She's low maintenance because she spends a great deal of time in bed. At 9 a.m. it was time to give her medicine so I made her a cup of coffee and took her a Buddy Bar (that's what she always eats). I went to get her a wash rag to wipe off her hands and when I returned she said "you'll have to open my Buddy Bar." I noticed tears in her eyes. She had tried to open the wrapper but she couldn't manage it. Her voice broke and took on a tone that in the past I only heard when her heart was broken. "I can't do anything for myself any more," she said. Those words along with the sound of her voice and the tears in her eyes broke my heart. I got a lump in my throat and it was hard for me to say anything. I did manage to say "well Mamma, I just about had to use my knife to open the darn thing." I sat with her while she ate in silence.
It is very difficult seeing you mom drifting away. Up until just a few years ago, she was as strong as a horse. She cut her own grass with a push mower and she cooked massive amounts of food...chicken, cornbread, potatoes, and deserts. You rarely saw her sitting.
Then she went into the hospital (only the second time in her life) because she became violently sick to her stomach for some reason. When they got here in there, they checked her heart and before you could say diagnosis, she was having open heart surgery and a pacemaker.
Not long after that she broke a hip, and then the other hip and then had a stroke. It was the stroke that cut the deepest. It sapped her strength and took away her mobility.
She spends her days now watching TV at volumes that approach the level of a jet aircraft on takeoff. It's hard for my sister to keep her pictures from vibrating off the wall.
But that's OK with me. Watching a loud TV is a small price to pay.
I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Atlanta

I got up long before the rooster's crow this morning and packed up to head over to Atlanta. It was a coolish out and I threw a jacket over my shoulder just in case. I was on the other side of Birmingham before the grey dawn turned a rich butterscotch color off to the east as the sun made its way up toward the horizon.
I had a meeting this morning to do a presentation on the things we do to care for our customer's computers. The meeting wasn't until 10 a.m. so I figured four hours to get downtown should have been more than enough time to get there.....wrong. I had forgotten how slowly traffic moves downtown during rush hour. In Atlanta rush hour apparently is from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. I was not on time which is very uncharacteristic for me. I'm never late. The customer was gracious. Apparently they've all lived in Atlanta long enough to understand that schedules must be flexible. To have something set in stone is an invitation to be smited by the traffic gods...to be left stranded in the congestion behind a diesel truck in need of a tune-up.
Before the meeting, I stood in a conference area high above the streets of Atlanta and on this beautiful I could see activity in all directions. People hustling to and fro. The leaves in the distance a kaleidoscope of color.
I wouldn't want to live in a city the size of Atlanta, but I must say it is exciting to visit from time to time. There is so much to do, so much to see, and places to eat. I walked with my boss over to a sidewalk cafe off of Peachtree and had meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. The deserts had women and men a like drooling....."I'll take one of each" and attractive blonde said jokingly.
On the way home the early morning wake up call and the drive caught up to me and I started to wilt so I whipped into a Starbucks in Douglasville and got an iced mocha coffee. It was scrumptious and it refreshed me enough to breeze on back home.
Once I got home I decided to take a walk to see how the foliage is doing down around the barn. I haven't been down there for a few days and the leaves seemed to get better each day.
Looking through the lens, these leaves and scrub grass looked like an impressionist painting.
The oak, hickory, and poplar trees around the barn are apparently taking their time to show off. I'll keep an eye on them and try to get a good photo of the barn in a few days.
If any of you would like to share some fall photos, please feel free to send me one at rick@theoveralls.com

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Drive

Both Jilda and I were a little down today for some reason. After breakfast, I went down to stay with my mom while my sister went to church. I did a little reading and took care of some things for work tomorrow.
When I started home, I was listening to Kitaro. He's a New Age artist that I've listened to for some time. He makes use of synthesizers and samplers to add depth to create a sonic image that is both compelling and pleasing to the ear. The music and the vibrant colors of the fall foliage made me feel like I was on psychedelic high.
Once home, I asked Jilda if she'd like to take a Sunday drive. She was a little hesitant at first but agreed. We drove up the Empire road and turned on to Rickwood Caverns Road. The afternoon sun was angled just right to backlight the Sweet Gum, Hickory, Persimmon and Red Sumac. Every turn in the road had beautiful color.
We drove back across the mountain headed toward Interstate 65 and Hayden beyond. The drive across county road 9 which connects to state road 231 near Blount Springs. We passed the Acoustic Cafe. It's not really a Cafe, it's my friend Steve Masterson's house but he has a great music festival there once a year and the festival is called The Acoustic Cafe. It is one beautiful place on earth.
We used to go on Sunday drives when I was a kid. For years while they were building Smith Dam, which is one of the largest earthen dams in the world, my dad would load up the family ever so often and we'd drive the fifteen miles or so up there and park on the hill and look at the diggers, trucks, and other heavy equipment. The resavoir where the dam was eventually build was really deep and the construction equipment looks like toys from our vantage point. From there we would drive down highway 69 and go east on highway 78 to the Warrior River Bridge where there was a "Frosty" drive inn and we'd all have an ice cream cone. It was a real treat.
People don't seem to be into Sunday drives as much these days. The price of gas is one factor, a lot of people can't afford to drive around looking at leaves, but I think there is a lot of competition. People can stay at home and be entertained with home theatre, digital dolby surround sound, HBO 24x7, pro football, baseball, NASCAR, and so many other distractions that a drive in the country just doesn't hold that much appeal.....that may be true for some, but it is not true for me.
When we got home this afternoon after our drive, we both felt refreshed, and my spirits had been lifted.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pirate Party

All I can say is it's a good thing I don't have a backhoe on my tractor because there is a maple tree in my neighbor's yard that would be in my yard tonight. That tree is magnificent....."I'm not sure what happened officer, I was taking some cold medicine and when I drove by that tree, something just snapped and I had to dig it up and plant it in my yard." "Save it for the judge," he would most likely say.
Today Buddy and I took a load of garbage to the dump. There must have been 30 trucks lined up to toss their trash. Ol' Buddy wanted to get out and explore but he has a nasty habit of rolling in foul smelling things so I made him stay in the truck. Her leaned up against the side window and licked the glass. Not sure what that was about. He is a strange little creature.
This evening we went to my nephew Stone's birthday party. He's three and he had a Pirate Party. All the kids had painted faces, eye patches and plastic swords. They dug for treasure and other activities involving gold coins.
By the time we got there, they were cranked up on cake, and some kind of electric blue Koolade stuff and they were bouncing off the walls. I tried unsuccessfully to get a few of them to stand still long enough for a photo but it was futile. They did try to make me walk the plank. I couldn't really understand what they were saying but I got the gist of what they wanted. I declined. You can never predict what will happen when you get a bunch of kids who have consumed enough sugar to throw a full grown man into diabetic coma.
They were having a large time. Andrea (Stone's Mom) was sitting on the couch and looked as if she was on her last leg. She's pregnant with her third child and I think she was ready for this party to be over. One of the kids asked as he was walking out the door to go home "can we do this again tomorrow?" Andrea did not respond, but I could almost hear what she was thinking....."not on your life kiddo."

Friday, October 27, 2006

I Ain't Seen the Sunshine Since I Don't Know When

I haven't seen the sun in days so it's no wonder my mood grew dark and my muse took a vacation. I don't like being around myself sometimes. I love the rain, but I long for the light of the sun.
Tonight when I came out the sun had already set and the clouds looked like peach and cherry cotton candy against the evening sky. The breeze out of the north west was very nice so I rolled down my windows for the drive home. The roar of the wind blowing past the window is a perfect "white noise." My mind started settling down before the lights of Birmingham cleared my rearview mirror.
Jilda has scurried around all day long but she made it home in time to pop a whole chicken in the oven along with some wild rice. I stopped at Wayne's just off the interstate and got a nice bottle of Chardonnay to go with the bird. I put on my sweats and a tee shirt and I'm ready to have dinner and veg out.
Tomorrow is supposed to beautiful. I hope to shoot some foliage and if I'm lucky, I'll share some with you. Have a great weekend.
I haven't seen the sun in days so it's no wonder my mood grew dark and my muse took a vacation. I don't like being around myself sometimes. I love the rain, but I long for the light of the sun.
Tonight when I came out the sun had already set and the clouds looked like peach and cherry cotton candy against the evening sky. The breeze out of the north west was very nice so I rolled down my windows for the drive home. The roar of the wind blowing past the window is a perfect "white noise." My mind started settling down before the lights of Birmingham cleared my rearview mirror.
Jilda has scurried around all day long but she made it home in time to pop a whole chicken in the oven along with some wild rice. I stopped at Wayne's just off the interstate and got a nice bottle of Chardonnay to go with the bird. I put on my sweats and a tee shirt and I'm ready to have dinner and veg out.
Tomorrow is supposed to beautiful. I hope to shoot some foliage and if I'm lucky, I'll share some with you. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Scarce Inspiration

I've sit her for a long time tonight waiting for inspiration. My old standby muse waker-uppers failed to bare fruit. I looked at the pictures on my wall....I pulled out a mix of my favorite songs up and played them...I called up quotations and thought back to when I was a child but nothing is coming. I did discover by closely examining two coins by my keyboard that the head on a dime and the head on a penny are looking in different directions. I also realized that I need to dust the cobwebs out of the corner of my office. OK.....after careful inspection, I could actually grow corn on my keyboard....where did all this dust come from?
I give up!!!! Uncle! Uncle!
If anyone sees my muse, please send her home immediately.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Red Sky in Morning

Upon seeing the sky this morning, sailors who believe in old sayings would have taken warning. After seeing several remarkable sunsets lately, this morning the sky off to the east was red against grey. The clouds to either side were the color of butterscotch.
You could see some color in the leaves but without sunlight, they seemed muted and uninteresting this morning. This evening the clouds hid the sun completely and the drizzling rain ticked on my windshield and I drove home.
It is rare seeing really good red skies in morning. I did see a few in Panama. Fort Sherman was on the Atlantic coast. I'm an early riser so I spent many mornings facing east on the breaker wall for the Bay of Colon. The sound of the ocean crashing on rocks the size of small houses drowned out all other sound....and on cloudless days when the sun came peeping over the blue horizon it was incredible. But on days when there were clouds near the eastern horizon the show was a mystical experience. Blue grey clouds and a slate grey ocean with cloud colors ranging from rust to brilliant orange and crimson with traces of cinnamon and grape thrown in for good measure.
The older I get the more I realize that it's often the simple things in life that leave their mark on your soul.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Flu Shot

I had an early morning appointment with my doctor. I needed some refills on my prescriptions and something for sinus gunk. I got a shot in the rear and a flu shot in the arm. I guess they didn't want the top of my body to feel left out. I was in and out rapidly and headed on to work. It was another beautiful day and the colors are definitely coming in. The Maples, Sweet Gum, Dogwood and the pink granite and the red sumac are really showing out. The Empire Road north toward the Interstate has some really good foliage and it's getting better by the day.
This evening I'm sitting with my mom while my younger sister gets a break. My mom's hearing went south years ago so she cranks the TV up full blast. What's worse, the intermissions are filled with political ads which are jacked up a few more decibels. The Bob Riley for Governor almost vibrated my laptop off the desk a few minutes ago. Election season can be brutal in Alabama.
These ads are quite creative. I know this may sound cynical, but there's been a lot of graft in the state and if anyone stays in office for very long, they will be accused of things. There's a good chance they are guilty of some things. It's hard to know the truth.....or if it exists in politics today.
We've been working on a new song the last few days. It's a song that sounds almost like a traditional song....one that has been handed down through the ages. We've approached this one a little differently. We recorded the melody several weeks ago and then decided on a concept. I spend a great deal of time commuting so I've been writing some of the lyrics in my truck. I have a small digital recorder and it has been almost like putting a puzzle together because once you have a melody, you know how many syllables it takes to fit the melody for a particular line. When I get some of it complete, I send it to Jilda via email for her to edit, adjust or delete and re-write as she sees fit. We're almost through so maybe I'll post the end results for a blog critique.
I'm feeling a little achy from the flu shot so I'm taking some Advil and lie down on the couch.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Slow Motion

I felt like I was in slow motion today. The weekend of late nights and more than enough fruit of the vine took its toll on the old body. Jilda showed no mercy tonight in Yoga class "hold that downward dog for 5 breaths". My arms were shaking as if they were made from rubber. If you have never tried Yoga, I can tell you this: it's not as easy as it looks.
The days are getting shorter. Only a few days ago driving up York Mountain was brutal because the morning sun was at an angle that made driving into it difficult. This morning, the sun was still hiding behind the horizon as I made my way in.
I did get some sad news today. Bob Randolph, the husband of our good friend Asa Faith (Bobo) Randolph died this morning of a heart attack. I can't imagine what losing a spouse must feel like. I'm not sure if he had been ill or not and I have no details as to the arrangements.
Halloween is eight days from today. How could this year have silently slipped by? There should be a clock that ticks louder as the year wears on....have you done the outline for your book....have you taken the trip you promised yourself at the first of the year....tick tock.....have you lost that weight you promised yourself you'd lose....TICK TOCK....
At the first of the year you're all excited as you write down your goals and intentions for the year but as the excitement wears off and you're forced to take action, make plans, set checkpoints and measure progress, the routing of daily life starts its perpetual tug on your energy you gradually lose site of the things you should be doing and then you wake up and it's Halloween.
I started to get down on myself until I took stock on the many things I have accomplished this year. I've written every single day....granted, some days it's a stretch to call it writing, but so far I've kept that promise to myself. I also stopped putting sugar in my coffee. I've put sugar and cream in my coffee since I was a small boy but this year I stopped. I exercise five days a week and do Yoga at least three times. I've also made some progress financially towards my goal of retiring at 59 1/2. With a little luck and a great deal of work, it will become a reality in less than four years.
I can tell you this, I won't make much progress tonight towards my goals because I'm whupped. Maybe tomorrow I won't be in slow motion.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Magical Experience

We had a great weekend. The concert on Saturday night went well. We only played for about thirty minutes before RobinElla took the stage. She is a great performer. She has a down home persona on stage but the depth and style of lyrics indicate that there's a lot more going on there than the "awe shucks" image implies. She quickly charmed the audience and put on a very good show.
After the show we had a meet and greet at Wes and Deidra's house. When the "Arts Council" folks cleared out, there was a core group of about ten guitar players and singers. There were probably thirty people who stayed around to listen. We took turns playing songs. Lamar Morris was there and he played "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and RobinElla sang the song. It was a beautiful thing to hear.
The music continued until 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. It was a magical experience.
We left out just after lunch and made our way home. The road less traveled is the one we chose today. Out of Highland Homes, we took highway 97 over to highway 31 and then up to the interstate. We passed huge oaks with Spanish moss hanging down like tangled ancient beards. And as we passed a lake on 31, we saw a gaggle of geese that had stopped off on their journey south for a little rest and relaxation.
Even though I had fretted somewhat about this gig, it turned out to be a great weekend spent with old friends. We also had the good fortune to meet some new friends which is always a gift.

Party

We had a wonderful time after the concert.
More tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fall Day

We drove south in the rain last night. Darkness had come early aided by the thick dark clouds. Thankfully the rain stopped south of Birmingham but the roads were still treacherous. We made it to Opp by 10 and were welcomed by our friends Wes and Deidra Laird. We had to make an early night of it because of an engagement at the Opp Middle School at 8 a.m. where we talked about American Folk Music and its importance. Jilda is a pro at public speaking. She had those kids wrapped around her little finger. We started the show off with "Wayfaring Stranger" which is one of my very favorite traditional spiritual folk song. Jilda then told the children about Steven Foster, Woody Guthrie, Odetta, Bob Dylan, and Pete Seger. We sang some more songs and then closed the show out with Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land". The kids joined in and it was a lot of fun.
We did the same gig at the elementary school at 10 a.m. and after which it was off to Wes' house for lunch. Meals at their house is always an experience. They never stop by and get fast food or call for pizza when we are here. Today was no different we grilled up some chicken breasts for a chichen salad. While the chicken was cooking, Wes started the Jambalaya that we will have Saturday night after the RobinElla show. I can't wait to taste it.
The clouds left out by 10 and the sun was warm. Wes had some business to take care of so Jilda and I took a nap. A vacation day is just not a vacation day without a nap.
After that, Jilda started helping Deidra with last minute decorating for the wine and cheese gathering here for the Arts Council Patrons before the show on Saturday. Their house looks like it came right out of Southern Living. They have pumpkins every where. Jilda and Deidra put glue and glitter on some small pumpkins which made for a really cool feature. I would never have thought of that.
Wes and I went out into the woods to search for turning leaves and berries to finish off the decorations. He has a golf cart so we made our way into the afternoon warmth and fetched foliage. It was a hoot.
Tonight Wes cooked inch and a quarter thick center cut pork chops on the grill and we fixed small bunches of green beans wrapped with a slice of bacon. Again, I would never have thought to do that, but dang it was good.
Lamar and Cathy Morris joined us for dinner after which we sat around the living room playing old and new songs. Lamar is a guitar player extraordinaire who was in Hank Williams Jr's band for over 20 years. He is one of the best guitar player's and singers I've ever known.
It's late and I'm off to bed because tomorrow will be another busy day. Having fun can be hard work :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday

It's been as dark as a dungeon all day. The streetlight outside never went off and the rain has been steady.
I spent the morning with my mom. My older sister with whom my mom stays left for Burma on Tuesday afternoon to visit her daughter and grandkids. She arrived around noon today (Thursday). That's a long time on an airplane...well actually, a big chunk of the time was spent waiting for other airplanes in L.A., Bangkok and God only knows where else. She will be out there three weeks before she begins her journey home. As bad as the jetlag is now, it will be worse on the return trip or at least that has been my experience with international travel.
While I love the rain, I don't particularly like driving in it...especially after dark so I'm hoping it moves on to the east before we head out later tonight. The weather map looks favorable.
Not sure how my time will be the next few days so some of the posts may be short and cryptic but maybe not. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Paul Thorn

I took a vacation day today so Jilda and I went over to our friend Steve's house (the third member of The Overalls) to practice. We have a gig this weekend for the Arts Council in Opp, Alabama opening for Robinella ( I think I mentioned this yesterday) but we had fun at practice today. We are also doing some Folk Music/Song Writer sessions for the Elementary and Middle Schools there in Opp. Not sure how they will receive us, but we will expose them to Woody Guthrie, John Prine, as well as other American Folk songwriters.
As we were leaving, Steve loaned us Paul Thorn's CD. Paul is from Tupelo, Mississippi and is a remarkable songwriter and performer. I was literally blown away by his music. He has a blue'sy voice and his lyrics are both biting and poinient. Every song on the CD is awesome. I really can't believe that he is not a super star. Both Jilda and I once wrote for a small music newspaper in Birmingham called "The Snakeskin" and she talked to Paul who agreed to an interview for the paper. Unfortunately, the paper went under before we got to interval Paul. A few years ago, we played at the Whip-0-will Festival in north Alabama and Paul was there but Jilda and I had another commitment and could not stay. I can promise you this, we will see Paul Thorn as soon as humanly possible.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Remember to Breathe

I seem to work constantly and my ToDo list just keeps growing. Why is that? Sometimes it seems almost overwhelming but then I remember to breathe. I learned this from Jilda.
The wind gusted up to over 50 mph last night so my yard if full of limbs and leaves. There was so much rain, it somehow came through a vent and got under the house just in time for the pest control inspector today. He put it on "the report". I guess that means that it's now on my "permanent record". I could see them doubling my termite bond or terminating coverage all together, but just as my temples began to throb....I remembered to breathe.
We have a gig coming up this weekend in Opp, Alabama. We open for Robinella. She's a great performer who has had videos on T.V. and she's well know in music circles. Today I found myself getting anxious about the gig. I found it hard to concentrate on my work, but then I remembered to breathe.
You may see a pattern here. There is so much that comes at you each day...somethings are tough. But if you can put things in their proper perspective it seems to help
I was in a Steven Covey class called "What Matters Most" and it had some incredible advice. He suggested breaking your ToDo list down and placing things into 4 categories.
Important/Urgent
Important/Not Urgent
Not Important/Urgent
Not Important/Not Urgent
The Important/Urgent things are the things that you must do for your health or the well being of your family. See the doctor about a suspicious mole, or or fix a leak that's flooding your basement. If you don't take care of these things, it will hurt you.
The things that are Not Important/Urgent (a co-worker that is jumping up and down because you didn't do their report) prioritize them WAY down on your ToDo list.
The Not Important/Not Urgent, simple strike them off your list. No one cares if these things gets done or not.
Covey says you need to spend the greatest deal of time in the Important things that are Not Urgent. This is your education, exercising, writing letters to valued friends and customers. Taking your kids on a field trip.
Today I made me a Covey Matrix and divided my ToDo list out appropriately and I was surprised by the things that really fell into the Not Important/Not Urgent sector.
I sat back and breathed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy Rain

The rain came down in sheets tonight as we made our way home from Yoga class. We weren't sure anyone would show up in this kind of weather but several did.
The rain started at mid afternoon and by the time I headed for home I got drenched even with an umbrella the size of a two-man tent because 30 mile an hour gusts out of the west was blowing the rain sideways. Oh well, a little rain never hurt anyone.
Driving home, I almost let myself get stressed because people were driving much too fast for the road conditions, but I remembered to breathe.
Looking out a rain streaked window made the world look like one big impressionist painting. I was listening to a piece of classical music with violins and cellos with a melody that was haunting and dark. It somehow compressed time or put me in a state of light hypnosis because I was home before I knew it.
Our big black Labrador was outside and soaked to the bone. We usually let our dogs stay inside when the weather is bad but he apparently had slipped out of the back yard unnoticed when the sun was shining this morning. He was glad to see me when I drove up. He loves the water, but he don't like the rain.
As I sit here writing tonight I can hear the rain ticking on my window and at times there is a drone on the roof that will make for good sleeping tonight.
So happy rain to you all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

You Can't Go Broke Making a Profit

I was just watching "Dirty Dancing" (it's one of Jilda's favorite movies) and Patrick Swayze's car was a 1957 Chevy. I had one of those cars. I bought it for $75 a few months before I got drafted. It was a 2 door hard top Belair...one of the good ones. It had issues...a little rust, the motor smoked, the seats were torn, and the tires were bald, but it was a great car. It had a 283 ci engine with an automatic two-speed transmission. When you roll down the front and back glasses of that car, it looks like a million bucks.
I was broke as the ten commandments then so I sold that car before heading down to Montgomery on my way to basic training. I try not to think about that car. I got $500 dollars cash for it, but with a little work now, that car would be worth a great deal of money. They are routinely advertised in the $20 to $30 thousand dollar range. That would have been a pretty good investment.
Actually now that I think back, I made about 600% profit on the car so as my accountant says, you can't go broke making a profit....but I still wish I had all my old cars.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Beautiful Saturday

I know there probably has been a more beautiful Saturday, but I can't recall one. Jilda is in class this weekend so Ol' Buddy and I have been on our own. After we had our coffee and breakfast, we headed up to the Blackwater Bluegrass festival on the Blackwater River.
I pulled up behind the stage near the water and parked in the shade. I could smell wood smoke from a campfire near by. Passing by one of the campsites, I heard sweet music on the air like a butterfly. You could hear water rushing over rocks at a small set of rapids on the Blackwater and the sound was so soothing I could have laid down in the shade and taken a nap right then and there.
I saw some of my old friends there. They were just getting out and about after a late night of campfire jamming. If you've never camped at a bluegrass festival you haven't lived. Even if you don't care for bluegrass music, the setting, the people and the food is worth the effort.
On the way back home, we passed a patch of yellow daisies and I stopped to shoot a picture.
I'm stayed with my mom this evening so that my sister can get out of the house for a while. Mamma had the game on. She's a big Alabama fan. The Tide played well, but so did Ol' Miss and we won in overtime by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin.
The wind is still now as the sun makes its way towards the west. It will be chilly tonight. Soon we'll have to bring all our plants inside. We have lemon, grapefruit, avocado, mango and a ton of other plants that turn our living room into a green house. People probably think we're crazy but I like it. We've had many of our plants for years. Jilda has one tropical plant that she got from her mother Ruby. Ruby got it from her mother Wilmer Roberts. I remember the plant on Ruby's front porch when we started dating in 1968. It was full grown then.
They will stay inside by the front windows of our living room until after the last frost next spring.
I looked on Google Analytics today and this blog has readers from all over the world. ...several in Australia. It's springtime there now if I'm not mistaken. I hope the people there are having a beautiful Saturday too.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Country Road

We took a leisurely drive on Sunday morning. The sun was warm and for once we had nothing pressing to do. We came upon a stone gate and I stopped to shoot a photograph. The gate opened on to a dirt road with a small covered bridge leading off to private property.
It was a beautiful scene. Off in the distance I could hear a crow cawing.
The fields are still green but this morning the temps were in the 30's so it won't be long before the real show starts.
The leaves a very nice here, but the places I have visited in the northeast around Boston and on into New Hampshire have beautiful autumn leaves too.
Today the sky was as clear a crystal. The sun highlighted a batch of wild yellow daisies and they looked electric.
I will have some wild daisy photographs soon. I would have some this evening but I was in a hurry and couldn't stop. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Relieved

I breathed a sigh of relief tonight when I read my email. I had not heard from Tate Shannyfelt in two weeks. Tate is the soldier in Iraq that has been doing the weekly Letters from Iraq for the website. He has really been consistent in his writing so I began to worry. I post the numbers each day on my website for those who lose their lives there. His last post was great! I was about the children of Iraq and how they are affected by the war.
When I didn't hear from him, I began to worry. I sent an email the day before yesterday but still heard nothing. This evening there was a note in my inbox (not from Tate) with the subject line of Tate Shannyfelt....my heart skipped a beat. It was uncharacteristic of me, but I thought the worst. I quickly scanned the email and it was from his mother Janie. Tate had contacted her to say that he was on a mission about which he could not write. He said it had been really bad over there and that he was in a place where he could not stay in touch for a while.
I cannot describe to you the relief that washed over me.
I am so proud of Tate and all the soldiers serving there. They don't question the politics, they let others work that out. Their country asked them to serve and that's what they are doing. I was not in favor of this war but I have always supported our troops.
I want to make sure that our country treats these soldiers right when the war is over and they return home. I read in the paper today that a full 20 percent of the men and women serving there will come home with some kind of disability. I for one will use all the resources that I have to defeat ANY politician that does not support our troops when they come home.
OK, I'm off my soapbox....and Tate, when you read this, I want to have a throw-down in your honor when you return.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rough Week

It's been a rough week for Dora High School. Kristen Graham of the Class of 2005 was killed in a car accident on Friday. Kristen was a Cheerleader and a beloved member of that class. I did not know Kristen personally but I took pictures at most of the football games last year and I saw her every week. She was in nursing school at Bevill State in Jasper.
Then on Sunday night, Anthony Valdez who is a running back for the Bulldogs as well as the team's field goal and place kicker, had a really bad car wreck. He had been in Talladega at the race working in a concession stand raising money for the Dora Athletic department. No one knows exactly what happened but he lost control and his vehicle flipped. He is alive but he was broken up badly. I got word this afternoon that doctors had to remove one of his legs. Someone told me this evening that at one time there were over 70 people in the waiting room.
Accidents and death are a part of life. It happens way too often. You can look back through the yearbooks and almost every year there is some kind of tragedy and some kid gets badly hurt or gets taken away from us and we're left asking why.
I know I don't say as many prayers as I should. I don't pray for raises, or things that make my life easier. I know this sounds odd, but I save mine for special things. By being mindful about the things I ask for, I believe that the Good Lord will be more inclined to hear my prayer.
Anthony is a friend of my niece Samantha and has been to our house many times. He is a great kid and I pray that he will overcome the hardships that he faces in his path to recovery.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Doesn't Take a Weatherman

The evening sun was warm as I walked to the car this evening but as I got closer to home, the charcoal clouds started marching in out of the west. If they had been in Colorado they would have been snow clouds. But here in Alabama, it usually means a slow cold rain is moving in to soak the ground and make it more likely that the autumn leaves will put on a show.
I rode by the library this evening and checked out a bunch of music CD's. Things I had never heard before and things I had. One CD was Bob Dylan's "The Times They are a Changin'". There are songs on that CD that make the hair on my arm stand up. "Ballad of Hollis Brown" is a song about desperation and the things a person will do when pushed over the edge. "With God on Our Side" is an anti-war anthem that makes you stop and think no matter which way you lean regarding war.
I also listened to the sound track to the movie Elibethtown. It is a remarkable selection of songs, that in my mind, really made that movie special.
A good song will pull things from your past and flood your senses with sounds, images, and smells that are so close to real you can't tell the difference.
The music and the gray clouds made me remember the fall of 1971. My friend Kirk Trachy had invited me to go to his house in New Hampshire over a long weekend. His sister gave us a lift to an early evening football game at a local park. On the ride over, Bob Dylan's "subterranean Homesick Blues" came on the radio. The clouds much like the ones today were moving in from the northwest and tiny snow flakes began to fall on the windshield....."you don't need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Colder Weather

The weatherman says colder weather is moving in. By Friday the temps won't get out of the 50's so it will be cool at the football game. Back when I was in high school, the games were held at Watkins Field behind the old high school. I remember when the weather turned off cold, there were 55 gallon steel drums with the tops cut off and they served as impromptu heaters. Someone would break up pieces of dried pine and cedar and get the fire started. Then people would drift down to warm their hands, drink hot coffee and watch the game through the wood smoke. When the fire burned down, someone would throw on more wood and sparks would shoot up into the night sky like fireflies.
They don't allow fires at the stadium now. They are probably fearful that some kid will burn their hand and sue the school. If I got too close to the fire and burned my hand, my daddy would have said "son, fire will often times burn you if you get too close, so don't get too close."
It might be a good time to pull those sweaters out of the moth balls and hang them outside to air before this weekend.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day of Rest

My neighbor has a maple tree in his yard and at this time in October it aligns perfectly with the setting sun which turns the tree into a natural kaleidoscope just for me. Today has been a day of rest for the Watson household. After two fun but grueling days at the Frog Festival and Chili Cookoff, we were both spent. We went out for breakfast this morning and came back to the Sunday paper. We drank coffee and listened to "A Place Without Noise" on the stereo. We napped and read all afternoon.
We spent Friday setting up for the Frog Festival. It was a wacky day because there didn't seem to be a plan and no one in charge. Worked proceeded in spurts and everybody spent a lot of time looking around and scratching their heads but slowly things started coming together. Someone brought in a flatbed truck for the music stage and someone else showed up with a truckload of bamboo. Why the bamboo I asked. "Well we went after corn stalks but we took a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong cornfield and the owner took a dim view of a bunch of strangers cutting down his cornstalks," he explained "so he ran us off." They knew they couldn't come back empty handed so they improvised. In the scheme of things it worked out just fine as a fall festival decoration....it did however look a little like the pictures of illegal pot you see in the paper after drug raids.
The city had American flags from Veteran's Day so we used them as a back drop at the back for the music stage which made the photos of the musicians really cool.
On Saturday morning vendors started showing up at dawn with stain glass, painted goards, scented candles, redneck yard art, parched peanuts, handmade crocheted items, and huge hickory BBQ grills. By 11 a.m. you could smell the shredded pork and the ribs. A line soon formed at that booth and was there until all the food was gone. I would have paid to lick the forks. It was that good. There were clowns, and people dressed up like Batman and Spiderman.
The music started at noon and continued until about 7:30 p.m. Jilda was the stage manager and set up the sound man and all the bands. All the bands played for free. Late in the evening the sound guy called her over to say that he had done sound for festivals all over the south and he was amazed by the quality of music.
Our friends Mark and Frog Palmer closed down the show with a scratch band. Mark has a band called Deja Blue (Blues) and Frog is with Henri's Notions which is a really well know Celtic band. When we call Frog to ask him to play, he told us up front that his band could not play but that he would put something together. These guys had never played together as a group but you would never have guessed it had they not told us. I am amazed at what I heard.
We closed the stage after dark and help the sound man pack his trailer and we were home by about 9 p.m.
We were exhausted but it was a lovely day. The weather was good and the community came out in force. We had hoped to have 1500 people...we had over 5000. Small-town festivals are the best. It was like a reunion. I saw people I hadn't seen in years. When people come up to thank you, you usually get a hug too. At at time when people are pulled by football, NASCAR, and other large events it was gratifying that so many came to the streets of Sumiton, Alabama to celebrate autumn.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

Long Day

We spent most day downtown Sumiton gettng the place ready for the Frog Festival today. When I wasn't there, I was shooting pictures of the homecoming parade or the football game.
It's back at it this morning. Tomorrow I'm going to sleep in.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Out of Touch

Tonight may be the first day since early December that I haven’t published an entry to my blog. Cable is off all across central Alabama and I feel a little isolated. My niece Samantha called me in a tizzy. What’s going on…..I can’t get my email….I can’t instant message…none of my friends know my telephone number!!! I guess you’ll have to play with your dog, I counseled. She sniffed and hung up on me. Apparently, she was not amused with my analog approach to entertainment.
Jilda made pasta mozzarella cheese black olives, and herbs we grow on the porch. I popped in a DVD of Northern Exposure (my absolute all-time favorite TV show) , poured a glass of red wine and we watched the episode about Thanksgiving. I love the idea of the small town in the show. In Cicily, Alaska they celebrate life. They are slow to judge and quick to see the good in their neighbors.
After dinner we retired to the living room where Jilda is reading a book and I’m writing out this entry to be posted when we get connectivity. On the stereo is “A Place Without Noise”. It’s piano music that is soothing and non-intrusive. Ol’ Buddy is curled up with his head on my leg.
Today was interesting in that I saw a really nice sunrise this morning and one the way home, there was a spectacular sunset. You don’t often see both in the same day.
Tomorrow’s Homecoming at Dora High School. I’ll be shooting pictures tomorrow afternoon at the parade and then tomorrow night at the game.
Maybe cable will be back on before then.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Practice

The Overalls practiced tonight. We're playing the First Annual Frog Festival on Saturday and we're putting the finishing touches on the performance. Tonight was a lot of fun. We were loose and experimental at the same time. It felt good.
Jilda and her trusty crockpot had a dinner to kill for tonight. We had beef stew and cornbread with an cinnamon crumb cake with vanilla ice cream on top. I didn't think Steve was going to go home. In fact I'm quite sure he would move in our spare bedroom if given half a chance.
The experience of playing in a group is not just the music, but the food, the friendship, the travel and the fun. I'm not sure what else you could do and have as good a time. Sometimes when the crowd is good, the moon is right and things fall into place, it feels magical.
Anyhow, for those of you who live in the area, there will be music most all day long on main street of Sumiton on Saturday. There will also be arts & crafts, stuff for the kids, and I expect a good time will be had by all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Slowing Down the Day

This morning as I drove to work before sunrise, a lite fog hovered close to the ground. Rounding the curve heading up York Mountain, I could see the sun in the distance and it looked like a giant ember in the pines. A flush of ducks looked like an apparitions as they swam in a V out of the mist on the pond there by the side of the road. I promise it wasn't drug induced.
It was because I had meditated early this morning. Often when I meditate, my mind chatters like a monkey, but today I was able to quite the noise and I experienced a deep peace and relaxation which stayed with me for most of the day.
These days there is so many things coming at us at the speed of bad news and your mind seems to go into overdrive just to keep up. With meditation you can sometimes slow things down and it gives you the opportunity to see things you would normally miss. I think that's what happened today. A rare gift indeed.
Speaking of gifts, Jilda had put pinto beans and smoked sausage in the crockpot today. When I got home this evening she had cooked cornbread and made her killer cold slaw. We also had fresh tomatoes. Yum. It's a wonder I don't weigh a ton.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Charlie

All of our dogs have an interesting story and Charlie is no different. We've lived at our current address since 1980 and the road is a dead end road. We get a lot of stray dogs that people no longer want.
Charlie was different. He came to our neighborhood when a young couple moved into the rental house across the road from us. They had a yard full of kids. They had a little blonde haired girl that looked like an angel. Often in the evening before dusk moved in you could hear her out in the yard call her dog. Cholly, Cholly (that's how she pronounced Charlie's name) she would call and this shaggy dog would come running and they would play until it got dark.
I wish I had gotten a picture of them. They stayed in the house across the street until hard times set in. I heard he lost his job but at any rate, they moved away in the middle of the night. I thought they would come back because there were some things left outside in the yard. A swing set, a small bicycle and Cholly.
For weeks afterwards, Charlie sat in the driveway and watched each car that drove by. After a few days, Jilda began taking food and water until we figured out what to do.
Well the bottom line is, Charlie is now our dog. He was welcomed into the pack with little fanfair. He is a comical dog and smart too. He can somehow open some of the doors in our house and if I ever close our backyard gate without locking it, he can open it up. I hid once and watched him do it.
We've had Charlie for a few years now and he seems really happy, but whenever he hears the voice of a child, he runs toward it with reckless abandon. I imagine it broke that little girls heart to lose Cholly, it hurts mine just thinking about it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

At it again

We got up cleaning the house and yard today because we thought we had friends coming over but that fell through when our buddy Steve had to work. We recovered quickly by taking a nap.
Jilda called one of her co-workers who has a recording studio in his house and made plans to spend the afternoon recording some songs so that he could work out the bugs in his equipment.
When we arrived he showed us a song he had started writing. He was stuck and asked us to see what we could do. About an hour later, we had finished song with a powerful message.
The nature of his job has him working with people with who have had it rough. This song was about a situation that was way too common today.
It felt good to be back writing songs. In years past it was not uncommon for us to write fifteen or twenty songs but like many things in our life we had to put writing on hold while we cared for Jilda's mom.
We did record a few things and although our friend did a good job recording, I wasn't happy with the sound of my voice. I think I need to spend some time to make sure I play the song in the right key.
The good news is, we're back at it again. When we get the sound just right, I'll post some stuff for you to hear and provide feedback.
Have a great week.

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