Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Answered Prayers

In a few hours February 2007 will be history. Today was an eventful day here in the Watson household. I took a vacation day from work, but I worked much harder than I would have worked had I gone in. But I got a lot of important things accomplished. I finished dotting all the i's and crossing all the T's on our taxes and took the documents to our accountant. I did a much better job of record keeping this year but getting all the stuff together is still a pain, but that is now behind us.
We also closed on the sale of Ruby's house. It was an emotional day for my wife Jilda, but there was a sense of closure....except for all the stuff that had to be moved out of the
We got together with her brother and sister and we worked until everything was out. We stood in silence there in the living room for a long time each of us lost in our thoughts. I don't care how you slice it, turning loose of the old homeplace is hard. Obviously everyone agreed that it had to be done, but agreeing still doesn't mean it's easy to do. Standing there in that empty living room devoid of pictures, what-nots, laughter and hyper grand kids was a bit unsettling.
The good thing is, a young preacher and his lovely wife bought the property. The preacher came to us early in the year and told us that he and his wife loved the house and wanted it. We gave him the price and he did not hesitate. He told Jilda that during the time we were waiting for all the paperwork to go through, that he and his wife would go sit in the swing in the front yard and pray that everything worked out. We got several calls this month from other buyers, one of which offered us $10,000 more than we were asking. "You haven't signed anything yet have you?" the caller asked. Well no, Jilda explained , "but we gave our word." Anyone who knows my wife knows that her word is better than any contract. Anyhow, today their prayers were answers, and ours were too.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reorganizing the Library

A friend was cleaning out her library and gave me a bunch of books. When I got the book booty home I found that my library was crowed too. So I took a long hard look at what was on my shelves.
I found a ton of text books from the years I spent in the class room. Books on management, books on accounting, books on economics, and ethics. Computer books that have been obsolete for years. I had magazines that I once thought I could not live without but flipping through the pages, I cannot recall why I thought that. I guess I believed that I might need to refer back to my quantitative analysis text, international business, or perhaps my cultural studies books when I retired. I packed all the books in a box and tomorrow they are going to the Hannah Home Thrift Store and I made room for Atlas Shrugged, Dr. Zhifago and the Education of Little Tree.
I tell you what I didn't toss - I have an old Whole Earth Catalog which is like the Internet in a book except it was published long before I had a computer. I also subscribed to Mother Earth News for a few years and I kept those old magazines too. As I looked back through the pages printed on recycled paper I found a treasure trove of articles on small farm life. My love of that magazine is one reason we fell in love with our little farm and moved here back in 1980.
So I organized my library with sections on gardening, landscaping, how-to books, writing, music, literature, and the classics. I'm getting rid of the fluff because there's not enough time to read the good stuff.
I'm not sure if it's because of all the years I've spent working for large corporations or what, but big business no longer holds any appeal to me. I'm now more interested in how to get an early start with spring tomatoes, and how to grow more of what we eat. All the business I care to know these days is how earn enough money with a tired old tractor and ten acres of land to supplement our retirement income live comfortably until the cows come home.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Special" Driver

I don't have a lot of time to dawdle on Mondays. When I get off work I have to scoot on home and get my yoga mat for class at the community center. By the time class is over and I get back home, it's almost bedtime so I have to seize and idea and run with it.
I got stressed driving in to work this morning because of a "special" driver. I got behind a slow moving truck loaded with bricks. It was a double yellow line and a hard curve in the road so I turned up the CD and settled in until we reached a passing spot a few miles up the road. I looked in my mirror and this "special" driver in a Mustang came blowing by me at about 80 mph. Up ahead I saw a car coming around the curve. I slowed down so the "special" person could get in between me and the slow moving truck but he never touched his breaks. The oncoming car left the road and the truck braked to allow the Mustang to get back in the right lane. Fortunately the oncoming car was able to come to a stop on the shoulder of the road and then get safely back on the road. It happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to get the tag number.
But "special" guy, know this: I know what your car looks like and I'll be on the lookout for you in the future. I will get your tag number and report the incident to the sheriff. It will probably be a waste of time, but it will make me fell better.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nice Day in Empire

Today is why folks from up north are moving to the south in droves. Last night's high winds, deafening thunder, and searing lightning moved off to the east and what was left was a picture perfect day.
I watched the weather last night and the folks up around Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Chicago were getting mountains of ice and snow....our thermometer was hovering at sixty five degrees.
This morning we watched the birds have a little feeding orgy as we drank coffee. We went for a long walk and the dogs ran wild like a bunch of kids on spring break. We had lunch with Jilda's sister and afterwards came home and took a long nap.
I got up while the sun was still warm and washed about three months of grime off our cars. It looks like we upgraded vehicles.
Our Buttercups and Yellow-bells are blooming and the other spring flowers are poking out to get a feel for the weather.
I saw a funny joke about places to retire. The one about the deep south made me laugh out loud because of how true they are:

You can Live in the Deep South where...
1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
2. "y'all" is singular and "all y'all" is plural.
3. "He needed killin' " is a valid defense.

But the south is changing in a lot of ways and I plan to write about my views on that but since Jilda is calling me for dinner, I'm signing off for now.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Place By the Water

Today is a good day for kites. Southerly winds are ripping a steady twenty miles per hour with gusts up to about forty five. We've been driving this afternoon and as we came into the yard you could see the pines dipping and weaving like a drunk. I bet if I tossed a paper airplane up high in the air, it would be in Atlanta in time for a late supper.
We drove up to Guntersville for a yoga class today. Jilda uses this particular type of restorative yoga in her work and I went along for the ride. It was an interesting class. Jilda's friend Gloria who sponsored the class lives in a house on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Guntersville. The lake was visible from most of the windows in the house but the view from her deck was breath taking. I leaned on the banisters and soaked in the view as Jilda said her goodbyes.
I really like our little farm, but standing there looking out at that stunning view of the lake I thought to myself - a place on the water would be really nice.
I think the next state park we visit will be the Guntersville State Park. In looking at the website, it has scenic picnic areas, a lodge, swimming, boating hiking and golf. I don't play golf, but it's nice to know that I could play a hole or two if I got the urge.
I'm going to close out now before the wind knocks our power off and I lose what I've written. Y'all stay safe and warm. I hope you have a great Saturday.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Owl

It was warm enough this evening that we ate with the back door open. A gentle breeze rustled the kitchen curtains and I could hear a hooting owl from the woods down around our barn. When I stepped out on the deck to get a look at the darkening sky, the half-moon directly overhead looked as if it were wearing a shower cap.
There has been a lot of timber cut in our area and I feared the owl had gone further south away from the sound of screaming chainsaws. When the heavy equipment backs up, it makes a beeping sound not unlike that of a heart monitor in an emergency room. These sounds are disquieting for me so I can't imagine what it does for the critters that once called those woods home.
It was good hearing the owl. I hope he makes his home on our property where the most disturbing sound he's likely to hear is a banjo when we have our spring cookout in April. Truth is, there are folks who say they would rather hear a chainsaw than the sound of a speeding banjo.
I'd love to buy all the land around me and plant it in Oak, Hickory, and Pine and turn it into a sanctuary for birds and small game. The owl would be the boss and if anyone wanted to cut timber, they could discuss it with him.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Playing Hooky

I played hooky today. Well, actually I got up feeling good enough to go to work but not good enough to feel good about going to work so I did the most logical thing I could think of which was to call my boss and ask for a vacation day.
He saw the forecast and knew that it was going to be sunny and warm here in Empire and he knew I would be worthless at work so he said have at it Bubba enjoy yourself. That I did. Jilda and I went for a walk and let the dogs loose to chase every living critter in the county.
Afterwards I read, took a nap, planted our new blueberries and wrote notes to some of our friends. I realized by mid-afternoon that I felt much better and taller too. Relaxation is something we don't allow ourselves to do nearly enough. The thing is, there is always something to do..something to take up you time. I think if you don't take a little time for yourself, your head gets full and stuff starts to fall out when you least expect it.
Anyhow, if it's been a while since you've take some time just for yourself, I recommend that you take a day of real soon and play hooky.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Warm Day

It was unseasonably warm here today. The sun came out early and the birds went scurrying about scouting out nesting spots. We have an ornamental plum tree in the back yard that is overgrown with honeysuckle. Each year we think about cleaning out all the vines but we get a late start and a Brown Thrush claims a section of thick vines for herself so we wait another year.
Saturday, it is my intention to make it happen and force Ms. Thrush to build in the vines just over the fence at the edge of my yard.
I haven't seen the Blue Birds yet but I've cleaned out and spruced up all their houses in preparation for moving-in day. They are really picky homesteaders. If their houses are not clean or if the doors face the wrong direction, you can forget it....they will go elsewhere.
The blueberry bushes we ordered a while back came in today so I'm going to go read up after dinner so that I know exactly how they should be planted and cared for to increase their chances of survival.
I'm still recovering from the crud but the drugs hopefully will began to take control soon and I will be back among the living.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good Health is a Gift

I got up feeling much better this morning so I decided to go to work. By lunch time I felt like death eating a cracker....and I've gone down hill from there. I didn't wear my contacts today because I wanted to give my eyes a rest but the specs somehow slipped out of my hand just as I was sitting so now I have a hole in my pants, a puncture wound on my rear-end and a broken pair of reading glasses. At least I haven't eaten any tainted peanut butter this week.
I really don't enjoy feeling bad but in the scheme of things, this is nothing. I've got a really good friend going through chemo right now and compared to that my condition is like a grain of "dust in the wind" as the song goes.
The thing about it is this: if you feel good all the time you tend to take your health for granted and you should never do that. Without your health almost everything else is meaningless. You can be wealthy but you won't enjoy your money; you can have a family and friends that loves you but again if you are not well, you cannot fully appreciate or reciprocate that love.
If I was making a list of things I wanted to happen to me, getting sick would not be on that list but it is a part of life and it's something I can accept. I'll lie on my couch and take my medicine and rest until I feel better....and when I do feel better, I will be grateful for my good health.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Road to Recovery

I called my doctor this morning and they said come in around 4 p.m. There were no openings but they said they'd work me in. I was there at 4 and there was a full house. When I was called to the desk to get my insurance info I had to fling my arm up and cough into my sleeve as I had left my tissues in the truck. People started to back away from me as if they feared I would hack up a lung. When I got through with my coughing fit, I actually looked around my feet to verify that indeed the lung actually come out.
Sitting there waiting to be called I could hear all around me sneezing, coughing and all manner of sickly sounds and it occurred to me that I should invent a portable bubble for visits to the doctor's office. You could wag it in and isolate you from all the other sick folks. Of course any kids in the office would immediately come over and look at you as if you were a goldfish.
I was the last patient of the evening and as I sat in the examining room waiting for my turn with the doctor, I kicked myself for not picking up a few feathers from under the bird feeders.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my company switched health insurance on me and I'm breaking in a new doctor. I smiled to myself as I imagined the doctor coming into the room and I would sneeze through my fist and blow out a few feathers. "I don't have the bird flu, do I doc?" But those guys have spent an inordinate amount of time studying books with unpronounceable words, drinking black coffee, and dealing with whiny people that don't do as well as I when they are sick. There's a better than even chance he might take a dim view of my shenanigans.
I have the greatest respect for those in the medical profession. They work intolerable hours under incredible stress and they get sued at the drop of a hat. In fact, if I were a doctor and some joker came in and tried to play a practical joke on me, I just might beat him senseless with my stethoscope..."Hey that was kind of fun wasn't it," then step outside the room and call out "nurse, clean-up in examining room three."
Well after I saw the doc, it seems I have some kind of viral crud. I got a shot of some kind of miracle stuff and some cough syrup that's guaranteed to help me get a good night's sleep. In fact I took a spoonful a while ago and I'm praying I can finish this before I start drooling on the keyboard.
I kj;kadkfiiuplse fip[eke you havvve a god eve;ning and ill do buttertomorrow

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Under the Weather

I got up feeling rough today. I haven't been sick for some time but looks like the check may have come and it's time to pay up. I took it easy today but I scare myself when I look in the mirror. If I'm not much better in the morning, I'll be seeing the doc.
Hope y'all have had a good weekend.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


It looks snowy out this evening and indeed we saw a few flurries earlier but the weatherman says the accumulation will be well off to the north of us. Still with the wind blowing steady out of the northeast it's sweater weather here in Empire.
I've spent a lot of time today getting my tax stuff together. It seems like it gets more complicated each year. Having a sideline business requires that you keep good records. I struggle with keeping good records. I have everything, but it's sometimes a pain to pull it all together.
I used to put it off until the last minute and then have to file for an extension. I usually get money back so it didn't cost me any penalties but still, filing your taxes is something that doesn't go away. It lingers back just off the radar screen hovering in stealth mode....and it bugs you.
I've found that to be true with other things as well. If you have things you need to do but you procrastinate, ignoring them doesn't make them go away. They are always there and it nibbles away at you until you hitch up your belt and do what needs to be done.
There is a woman with whom I once worked that let things slide....important things. She had the money to pay her bills, but often times when they came in, instead of filing them and paying them on time, she would "misplace" them and then she had to jump through hoops to keep her power and water from being disconnected. She is a very smart woman, but she let things slide.
So today I went through my files, started organizing my data, and I will have everything ready to take to my accountant this week.
Not my favorite way to spend a weekend, but it's a small price to pay to keep my head screwed on straight.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Old Depot

My friend Joe and I walked the two miles from Sloss down the old Southern Railroad spur line to Old Dora in search of a cold co-cola. It was in the early 60's before I got my driver's license but it was a warm day in June and we had nothing better to do so we walked. We spent a lot of time back then thinking and talking about what we were going to do when we grew up. I wish I could remember what we thought and said because it would be an interesting contrast I'm sure to where we are now. It's very likely the pictures in my head had nothing to do with being a computer analyst because very few computers existed then and the ones that did were a massive tangle of tubes, diode's, and capacitors with disk drives as big as refrigerators. I now have more computing power and storage on my cell phone. How far we have come.
But on that warm summer day I do remember that we were dreaming large. We got off the tracks near the old grammar school and walked the sidewalk towards Dora and through the walk-through tunnel under the main railroad line. I picked up an old chunk of coal that had fallen off a boxcar and wrote my name and drew some kind of picture on the wall. Most of the art on that tunnel wall was primitive and crude but it was cool in that little tunnel and a fun way to pass a little time.
We scored a cold drink at one of the stores and walked up to the depot to waited for the afternoon train. It no longer stopped in Dora, but it still picked up the mail. The post master would send the mail up to the depot in a canvas bag and the man who worked for the railroad would hang it on a pole at the edge of the platform. When that train blew into town, the conductor riding in the caboose had some kind of hook attached to the train and it would snatch that bag of mail right off the pole. I thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen...and at that point in my life, it may have been.
Sometime after I graduated from high school, they moved the old depot (or tore it down) and all that remains there is a slab of concrete surrounded by scrub brush, honeysuckle vines and ragweed. The mail is delivered from town to town these days in big trucks and airplanes.
It's been a while since I've talked to my friend Joe but maybe the next time he's in town, we can ride down by where the old depot once stood, park near the platform and have us a cold drink and reminisce about life in Sloss and the old depot and think about what we want to be when we grow up.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I started listening to "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote today. The writing is extraordinary. I saw the movie Capote last weekend and it made me want to listen to the book. The story is about two ex-cons that murder a farm family in the early 50's. The level of detail is unbelievable. Capote spent four years writing the book. He spent countless hours in western Kansas interviewing the family and friends of the Clutter family. The narrative weaves a story that is compelling and it paints a picture so masterfully that it's like you were right there and heard the gun shots in 1954.
The novel, which was Capote's last book (he did have a book of short stories that were published posthumously) and it was the first book of its kind....a non-fiction novel.
I'm guessing that by the time I finish the book, I will no longer go to bed with my doors unlocked.
I know I will enjoy reading this one.
More later.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a big deal for most women and guys that don't believe it are delusional. I ran out at lunch today and got a card from Barnes and Noble along with a book and some Godiva Chocolate. Not a lot of stuff, but enough to let her know that I didn't stop and a 7/11 to score the goods.
I asked my co-worker what he was getting his wife and he launched into one of those long drawn out diatribes about Valentine's Day being one of those holidays "made up" by the greetings card companies, candy makers and florists to get into our pockets. He ended the conversation by saying that he had not gotten drawn into this holiday and that he wasn't getting his wife anything. I thought to myself.....I bet her boyfriend gets her something.
I for one think a card, a few flowers, and some candy is a small price to pay to show someone just how much they mean to you. Sure card companies and candy companies make a few bucks but it's worth it in the long run.
You can tell your significant other that you love them until you blue in the face, but when their friends are getting roses and lingerie, the words might sound a little hollow. A little kindness and a gift on Valentine's Day goes a long way.
My spouse has been sick as a dog (not really sure where this saying comes from but it seemed to fit) and she barely got off the couch the last few days. I had decided that we would celebrate Valentine's Day this coming Friday when she is stronger. But when I got home, there was a great dinner simmering on the stove and she painted the attached card for me. I felt badly that I didn't bring her better gifts.
So if I could offer a little advice to the cheapskate smarty-pants guys with wives that are understandably snippy, it would be don't be a goob, buy something special for the one you love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The wind changed directions this evening and began to blow out of the west. It had been overcast for most of the day but as the evening approached the clouds thinned out somewhat and you could see a hint of sunlight toward the horizon. I sat out on the back deck to enjoy the remains of the day. As darkness set in, I could feel the temperature drop slightly and felt moisture in the air. I heard the faint sound of thunder off in the distance and then suddenly my eighty-pound black Labrador Retriever was in my lap. He is fearless most of the time, but at the first sign of a thunderstorm he wants as close to me as possible....preferably under a blanket.
Thunderstorms are a remarkable force of nature. I remember when I was about thirteen, I went to a dance at the Dora National Guard Armory with my family. In retrospect I find this strange since neither my mom or my dad danced but I guess it was something to do on a warm and blustery March evening.
I began to hear the sound of thunder to the south so I went out on the portico to have a look. I was too young and foolish to fear the weather then so I sat there and watched lightening fork across the dark sky like the tongue of a mythical snake. Thunder seemed to roll on forever. Most of the lightening was cloud to cloud, but it struck somewhere behind the armory and I smelled something I had never experienced before. I now recognize the smell as ozone.
I began this blog in my office at my desk but a bolt of lightening hit too close and our power blinked and when the computer rebooted, the half written entry was gone. I know, all you computer people out there are saying "dang Rick why didn't you hit save now and then." I knew better but I did not so I fetched my laptop and retired to the screen porch and hooked up my portable recorder and recorded the rain, the thunder, and the sound of my wind chimes.
I imagine that long before, radio, stereos, T.V. and telephones, our forefathers spent hours contemplating the rain and the power of a thunderstorm.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sick Puppy

Jilda called today and she sounded like death eating a cracker. She had contracted a stomach bug from our young great niece and nephew over the weekend and she was spewing from everywhere. With all the yoga she's as strong as a horse and her immune system is good but hugging those youngun's did her in I'm afraid.
Her brother and sister-in-law had it yesterday and the critter only seemed to last for about 24 hours but I can tell by the looks of her it seems as if it has been much longer.
I hate getting sick. There are times I don't feel well; a headache, sore knees, and occasionally my ulcers flair up but for the most part I feel really good. When I am sick, I am not a good patient. In fact I've been called a whiney baby more times than one.
A few years ago we both caught the flu at the same time and it was a sad house hold. I feel OK at the moment and I'm hosing everything off with Lysol to try and keep the bug at bay but only time will tell if I'm successful.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In The News

It's been a low key day today. I slept in until 7 a.m. which is late for me. I usually start getting antsy at around 5:30 a.m. but my stomach has been acting up lately so I didn't sleep well last night.
When we got the local paper this morning, there was a nice story about my lovely wife and her work at a drug and alcohol rehab center not far from where we live. I knew they were running the story but I didn't know when but this morning there was a full page collage on the front page of the Lifestyle section and her picture was there big as life. The reporter did a really good job. The phone started ringing about eight with calls from friends who had seen the story.
Her Yoga classes are special. She works your fanny off during class and then at the end of the class she does about a ten minute relaxation that will make even the most hyper people snore. There is something about the music she plays and the tonal quality of her voice that makes it almost like a hypnosis session.
She's recorded one of these relaxation sessions with the sound of the ocean surf in the background and gives them to people leaving the rehab center. I have a copy for myself that I listen to whenever I get stressed.
For those of you who live in or around Sumiton, Alabama feel free to join us on Monday nights at 7 p.m. and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Beautiful Day To Be Alive

It got cold last night so we cranked up the old fireplace this morning as we drank our coffee and waited for the morning sun to knock the chill off the day. The dogs love this weather and this morning when we went for our walk we were almost trampled as we went out the gate toward the barn.
After lunch we drove north to a small community near Cullman, Alabama to buy fresh honey. We called before we made the trip up and she said she would not be home but that she would leave the honey in a container by her mailbox. When we arrived she had a small glass-front container heated by a single 100 watt light bulb. There was a small mailbox next to the honey container where people leave their money for the there's a sweet rhyme for you. We bought four jars of honey. She lives on a farm and as we were turning around to leave, we saw bee hives all around the periphery of her pastures and near her barns.
I have used sugar in my coffee all my life until about three months ago when I started using raw, unprocessed local honey. It's really good and Jilda swears it's good for us too.
After we scored our honey we drove back south on secondary roads. In Hanceville we passed a sign for the Shrine for the Most Holy Sacrament. I wasn't sure what that was, but the sign said it was only seven miles away so we decided to have a look. We drove out and discovered a beautiful place on the banks of the Mulberry Fork of the Warrior River. It was built by Nuns in the mid 90's. They do tours and it has some kind of gift shop and other neat looking stuff but we had Ol' Buddy with us and I had a feeling the Nuns might frown upon a gnarly little varmint on the tour so we decided to return another day.
It was a nice day....a beautiful day to be alive.

Friday, February 09, 2007

40th Reunion

We had ice on the deck this morning and when I went out to feed the birds I did a little impromptu ice skating. Flailing arms made scattering the seeds much easier. The Cardinals sitting in a nearby Sweet Gum tree seemed amused.
I got a note from my friend Becky Wright Mitchell a few days ago asking about our 40th high school reunion. It took a second to digest that. Can that be? It really doesn't seem that long ago when we were walking down the isle.
I can remember graduation day at the old Dora High School in May of 1968 like it was yesterday. We were all milling about behind the auditorium signing yearbooks and saying our goodbyes. We all had every intention of staying in touch and getting together frequently but that never happened. Sure I saw some of my old classmates in the grocery store or on the highway driving back and forth to work, but we all drifted apart.
The last successful reunion we had was almost a non-event. I asked two of the class leaders about planning the reunion. One said "we're waiting until we lose some weight." I thought as I walked away "that ain't gonna happen." So I went home and contacted everyone I knew and told them we were meeting. After everyone got together and started going through the yearbook and started contacting old classmates, it took on a life of its own and it turned out successfully.
No matter how well a reunion is planned, there are people who will come and some that won't. There are a lot of reasons people won't participate. Some won't come because they are divorced, some have gained weight and some have lost their hair. Some people think it's a bragfest and the truth is, there are those who come to reunions to show others just how far they have come.
And for some, High School was not Nirvana. Kids can be cruel and if you're not "in" then you are "out" and that can be hard for some kids to bare. If someone has a bad experience in school, they carry that with them throughout their lives. I wish that weren't true, but it is.
My wish for our 40th reunion is that everyone can get together and celebrate life and enjoy each other for what we have become.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Attitude

Today was an uneventful day for me. I stayed on conference calls so long my ears bled and at the end of the day all I had to show for it was sore ears.
Some days work is fun and I actually get to fix things. I love the challenge of solving a complex problems with computers, software, and cables. Those days zip by so quickly I often forget to eat. But sometimes it's all I can do to avoid drooling on my desk as I listen on the phone to people drone endlessly about why their servers, which were built when Nixon was president, sometimes break down. I'd like to say, "well, your running your software on junk. It was great when you bought it, but now it would be of more use as a boat anchor!" I'd like to ask them if they'd set out on a road trip to California in a 1972 Pinto with a quarter million miles on it....but instead I listen and say "well it appears that one your refurbished parts has failed causing the server to panic and crash."
I've actually developed a Saturday Night Live comedy routine based on these situations, but anyone outside the computer industry probably wouldn't get it.
This afternoon, I got an email alert from the local weather station saying that ice and freezing rain is on its way to Empire, Alabama. I wouldn't mind seeing some snow but ice is a different story. Our power is precarious at best and a little bit of ice can knock off our juice for days.
I'm on vacation tomorrow and I plan to take it easy for a few hours. Maybe a long weekend will give me a new attitude.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


My good friend Steve sent me a note this morning with a political correctness update. No longer should y'all from outside the south call the folks from northern Alabama, north Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, western South Carolina, Virginia or Kentucky by the derogatory term hillbillies, as we now should be called Appalachian-Americans.
Dang I'm glad somebody woke up and smelt the biscuits. Just because we're fond of fishin' with dynamite, makin' our own whiskey, and dating our cousins it's no cause to talk down to us by callin' us hillbillies.
Sure a lot of us (including me) have six cars in our yards, but most of 'em are up on blocks, so they don't count. And as Ol' Jeff Foxworthy says "If my back porch fell down, I'd lose a few dogs," but that's just the way it is here in the country.
The thing is, I love hillbillies. I don't know of anyone who can watch an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies without getting a smile or two across their face. Truth is, the word hillbilly (or redneck for that matter) doesn't really bother me. Anyone could take a look at me, my kin folks, and where we live and we'd be convicted by an impartial jury of being a hillbillies.
But some of the kindest most generous folks I've ever met are from the hills of the south and I've been around some.
In the spirit of political correctness, the proper name for us is Appalachian Americans, but as far as I'm concerned, you can just call me a hillbilly.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Green Alligators

We bought some old movies off of Amazon last week. It's in preparation for St. Patties Day. We got Darby O'Gill and the Little People, The Secret of Rohn Inish and The Matchmaker. All the movies are about Ireland....the latter a more modern movie about a Boston politician who tries to find his roots in Ireland to improve his lagging polling numbers. I love this movie because it's filmed on location in Ireland and some of the scenes are places we visited while we were there. The music used in some scenes was haunting and beautiful. I know it's still over a month before March 17th but we wanted to make sure we were ready.
We usually spend St. Patties Day at home because Jilda makes a killer corn beef and cabbage dish but there are cities known for their St. Patties Day celebrations that would be fun to visit on Green Day. Of course Boston, Savannah, and Chicago all have huge celebrations that I know would be fun to experience. I vaguely remember a St. Patties Day that Jilda and I spent in Atlanta. We went to an Irish Bar with an Irishman who lived there and started slamming down Guinness Beer early. There was a guy there playing guitar and singing Irish songs. He launched into a rendition of The Unicorn Song and before you could say Shamrock, all three of us were on stage singing the song and doing all the accompanying hand motions.

You got your green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
Don't you forget my unicorns

The crowd went wild. We stayed a while longer and called a cab for the short ride home but I must say the Irish know how to have some fun. I never hear the Unicorn Song that I don't stand up and sing at the top of my lungs.....You Got Your Green Alligators........

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Need a Vacation

I know there's a lot of talk about global warming but you can't prove it by me. It was chilly here in Empire this morning and the weatherman says it will get colder than a well digger's shovel by mid-week. Jilda loves cold weather, but it makes my bones hurt.
I didn't get away from work in time this evening to see the sun set, but I did make it in time to see the horizon turn the color of rouge that my grandmother used to wear. The evening colors blow me away especially in winter. But I'm beginning to believe that winter is tougher on some folks. I know it is on me. I'm not sure if it's the cold, the bear trees, or the lack of sunlight but I don't have as much bounce in my step and I'm finding it harder to think of things to write about.
I think I need a short vacation. Maybe Savannah, Georgia or Cherokee, North Carolina...someplace I've never been.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a weekend get-a-way? I'm game.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

We used some gift certificates today to have lunch at Jim & Nick's BBQ. I had a plate of pork BBQ and now I feel like a slug. There should be a warning on the napkin: Diner may feel lethargy or a sluggish or sensation after eating this BBQ and should not drive or operate heavy equipment. We came home after lunch and took a nap to get ready for the Super Bowl.
I'm pulling for the Bears. The Saints were my favorite team but it was not meant to be this year.
I think they made a good choice for a venue this year. I love Miami. I went there a few years back on business. Our administrative assistant booked me in a quaint hotel on South Beach and I spent a few days in another world. Miami is almost like a European city. Indeed the ratio of people from foreign lands to native Americans is quite large.
One warm Thursday evening I sat at a patio bar sipping a cool drink and watching a sea of people walking up and down the sidewalk carrying shopping bags from expensive stores. It reminded me of New York City in a way because I saw people with gigantic tattoos, orange and green clown hair and Mohawks. The clothes ran the gamut. I saw one guy with a fur coat on roller skates and a moment later a young woman with a string bikini that she could have stored in a matchbox. There were also people straight out of fashion magazines.
Jilda flew down on Friday and we spent the weekend exploring. We had dinner Friday evening at a little Italian restaurant. The owner came over and sat with us after we ordered. "I'll just keep you company while we wait for your food. You see, my mama does the cooking and she does not get in a hurry. " After we talked with him a while, he summonsed a waiter over with a nice bottle of red wine and we talked about Miami, fishing, and things to see while we were in town. When the food arrived, it was well worth the wait.
On Saturday we took a leisurely drive down to the Keys. We had oyster hoagies at a little place right on the water. From the deck you could see huge fish swimming in the shallow water.
Life was slower down there.
Didn't mean to veer off down memory lane, but I tend to do that now and again.
Go Bears.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Losing a Friend

One of our dogs wandered off a few weeks ago. We kept thinking that he would come back home but it now looks like that won't happen. His name was Dawg. I know it's not an original name, but that was his name when he came to live with us. The people who lived across the road from us got behind on their rent and left in the middle of the night. They were in such a hurry that they left their dogs. Charlie and Dawg, were the names given to them by the children who lived there. They both kept a vigilant watch on the home place for a long time but their masters did not come back for them.
Jilda is tender hearted when it comes to animals so she kept food and water out so they wouldn't starve and after a few weeks, they took up residence at our house.
Dawg was a mix breed part Chow and part Labrador Retriever. He was a good natured dog with big round eyes and his coat was soft as the fur of a kitten. My niece Samantha could make him do tricks but every time I tried, he'd look at me is if I were joking. "You're kidding, right? You want me to shake? Get a life mister man!" He wouldn't do tricks for Jilda either but he was her protector. Every time she left the house, he made every step she made. He wasn't a mean dog but he growled at an approaching neighbor once when Jilda was working in her flower bed.
Dawg and Charlie were inseparable. Today when we all went for a walk to enjoy the first day of sunshine in weeks, Charlie would walk ahead and listen intently trying to hear his friend off in the distance. Normally Charlie is a happy-go-lucky dog but he seems depressed since losing his best friend. I can't say that I blame him.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Daydream Felt Good

I wore my glasses today to give my eyes a much needed rest from the contacts. The glass and wire felt strange and I spent an inordinate amount of time today trying to remember where I left them.
We haven't seen the sun in days here in Empire but tonight on the way home the dark clouds were breaking up to the west and just before the sun dipped below the horizon, it emerged and winked before disappearing. Even those few seconds were a gift to someone who craves sunlight.
Have you ever felt as if you were outside your body and watching yourself go through the routine activities of your life? I'm not sure what triggers it, but I felt that way today. It wasn't chemically induced because I gave that stuff up years ago but things were dreamlike and in slow motion. It was almost like my soul was taking a break but it kept a watchful eye on my body so that it didn't wander off and do something stupid. Thankfully the nature of my work today didn't involve any sharp objects or hot surfaces.
I got a small check in the mail today. It's the first income I've ever received from writing stories. I made a copy and stuck it on my office wall. I spent a little time tonight calculating how many newspapers would have to run my column to provide enough income for me to retire early. I daydreamed about what it would feel like spending my time in deep contemplation and doing research on topics of interest to me. The daydream feel good.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Service Anniversary Gathering

I haven't had a lot of time for writing this week. Tonight Jilda and I attended a party celebrating my thirty-year service anniversary with EDS. I actually haven't been with them that long, but BellSouth outsourced my job to EDS and so they bridged my service which gave me thirty years on January 3rd.
As I reflected tonight during the festivities, it occurred to me that thirty years, the the scheme of things, is a heartbeat.
I was asked to make a little speech and I found myself babbling until I took a breath and spoke from the heart. Any job can be a great job if you have good people to work with and this is where I feel most fortunate. The folks I work with are the best.
Things should settle down next week and I can get back into my writing routine. Have a great Friday and stay warm.

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