Thursday, May 31, 2007

Root Canal

Jilda threw a crown last night. She wasn't even eating ice or popcorn. She was simply sitting there watching the weather channel and out comes the tooth. I had one to do that a few years back and they didn't even deaden my gums. They simply slapped a little airplane glue on it and I got high as a kite off the fumes. A short time later I was on my way and the tooth is has been there ever since.
Jilda went in this morning at 8:30 a.m. expecting a twenty minute visit and a buzz off the glue, but the stars didn't line up properly for her today. In fact she called me at 11 a.m. and said will you call my boss and tell him I won't be able to come in. "They can't glue it on?" I asked. "No, I've got to have a ROOT CANAL!!!! They had already blasted her up up with laughing gas and a call to "The Man" could have turned out badly so I agreed to make the call. They were understanding and agreed to fill out her time sheet.
I stopped on the way home and picked up some chicken. She tilted her head to starboard and slowly at the chicken. I left her lying on the couch where she had drifted off in a fretful sleep.
Hopefully she'll be able to sleep tonight and allow those stars to get back in line.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore

It doesn't pay to be modest at the dermatologists office. The nurse came in first and asked if there were any places with which I was concerned. I told her Iraq was troubling and she rolled her eyes as if to say "OK fella, it's kind of late in the day and I'm tired." I'm guessing that it would have been much more amusing had she had a few margarita's. At any rate she told me to undress and put on a robe and she stepped out of the room. She came back in a few moments later with the doctor and when he asked what I did for a living, she said he's a comedian.
The doctor started at the top of my head and checked me all over and when I say all over, I mean ALL over. Our group The Overalls do a song that kept running through my head the whole time I was being examined. The song was written by Sheb Wooly/Dick Feller and is called "I Don't Look Good Naked Anymore." (Lyrics below)
The good news is I got a clean bill of health. I am happy about that.

Here are the words:
I stepped outta the shower and I gotta good look at myself
Pot belly, bald head, man, I thought I was somebody else
I caught my reflection in the mirror on the back of my bathroom door
I just don't look good naked anymore
 So, I'm goin' upstairs and turn the bedroom mirror to the wall
I hung it there when I was trim and tall
I'd stand there and smile, and strut and flex until my arms got sore
But I just don't look good naked anymore
 Well, I used to go out with the girls
I loved them one and all
Now they don't get very close to me
They're afraid that I might fall
 Well, I went to the Doctor for my annual medical exam
Stood there in the buff, suddenly he said "MAN"
I said "What is it Doc, some fatal disease, I just gotta know the score"
He said "No, you just don't look good naked anymore
 Well, me and my wife had a dance routine
Everybody said it was unique
Now it's only when we're back to back
That we're dancing cheek to cheek
 Well, I went to a nudie beech to have some seaside fun
Stretched out in my birthday suit, soakin' up the sun
Somebody yelled, "Hey, there's an old white whale washed up on theshore
I just don't look good naked anymore
 Yeah, my arches fell, my chest went to hell
And my butt's a-draggin' the floor
An' I just don't look good naked anymore
No, I just don't look good naked anymore

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Names of Things

Someone asked me once where my ideas come from. I wish I knew because I would go there now and get one. Today was my first day back at work after five wonderful days off and I had to re-introduce myself to my co-workers. I thought for a long while that I'd have to be retrained.
I did spend a great deal of my off-time writing and organizing the things I've written. I also decided to take some advice from the recent writer's workshop I attended in March, and begin my studies in flora and fauna of North Alabama. He said when you are describing a scene, don't use generic names if possible. Don't use oak when the tree is more specifically a white oak or a pin oak. There are so many flowers, trees, vines, bushes, shrubs and weeds that I see each day but I have no idea what they are called. Hopefully you'll begin to see subtle differences as time goes on....and if you happen to see my idea, please tell it to get in touch with me as soon as possible.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Most people do not consider Memorial Day a "major" holiday. It is the first holiday of summer and gives us a chance to get a jump into summer by pigging out on hot dogs, Bar-B-Que and other stuff cooked on a grill. But this year Memorial Day seems a lot more important because of the war in Iraq. Alabama has lost both men and women in this conflict. In my humble opinion, there is no honor high enough to bestow on these men and women and those who marched before them.
We as Americans can be complacent. When times are good, we take life and liberty for granted. This is a gift from those in uniform who have served our country.
If we don't like what the president or congress is doing, we can fire off letters, we can campaign against them, we can organize protest and join with like minded Americans and run them out of office on a rail. In so many other countries, these actions are unthinkable.
We are also free to choose where we live (if we can afford it). We can attend any church we want to attend and we are free to choose our vocation. The Constitution talks about "The Pursuit of Happiness." That obviously does not guarantee happiness, but we can pursue it until our hearts are content. That is an amazing gift. A gift paid for with the blood of our servicemen and women. I am grateful to them and may their sacrifice always be remembered by every American.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's A Thousand Wonders

We headed north to Decatur about 4 yesterday afternoon. Jilda's friend Jackie went with us to the concert. The show didn't start until 7:30 but we wanted to eat first so we stopped by the world famous Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Que on 2nd Ave. SE in Decatur, Alabama. We got there just past 5 but there were people backed up to the steps outside. A helpful customer told us to step up to the counter and get on the list. A Japanese family walked up behind us with a tour map. Apparently they had heard about Big Bob's too. When I gave the girl my name she said it would be about 15 minutes. I looked at all the people waiting for a table and almost decided to walk down the street to Burger King. But about twelve minutes later they called our name and we were seated.
The first thing that struck me was the ambiance. There were plaques and trophies everywhere. You could buy tee shirts, Bar-B-Que sauce and other stuff. I thought to myself, ever who is doing their marketing is doing a very good job.
I got a Bar-B-Que pork plate with potato salad and baked beans, Jilda and Jackie both got chicken plates.
The service was really good and the place had that nice Bar-B-Que'ish smell. The meat was really tender and the portions were just right. I tried both the white and the red sauce and both were really good; but here's the thing - I'm probably really prejudice but to me, the sauce was not as good as my personal favorite which is Green Top BBQ. Sauce is a personal preference and I hope Big Bob and the Gibsonites don't drive down here to Empire and smite me in my sleep but I try to call them as I see them.
On to the Paul Thorn concert. We drove a few miles further down 6th Avenue and arrived at the Princess Theatre over an hour early but we picked up our tickets at Will Call and hung around on the sidewalk and talked until the doors opened. Jilda exclaimed LOOK! - up in the sky were a few dozen multi-colored hot air balloons floating gracefully over the Tennessee River. Apparently they were having some kind of festival at Joe Wheeler park or perhaps in Huntsville. It was a beautiful site to behold.
When the doors opened we went inside where the air was much cooler and we browsed the Paul Thorn merchandise on sale. I bought Paul's new tee shirt " for my good friend Steve's birthday....(Steve, if your reading this, skip this part).
Paul and the band hit the stage around 7:30 and they put on one heck of a show. He played songs from his old albums, songs from his new albums and a cover or two. The band was hot!
What made the show was the stores he told in between songs. He wove the concert together like a tapestry with words and music. Some of the stories were hilarious, some were insightful and some were very poignant.
As the show began to wind down, a woman requested "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". Paul's father was a preacher and you can tell he spent a great deal of time in church when he was younger so when the woman requested the song, he agreed. But as the band cranked up, he invited anyone in the audience who wanted to sing to come up on stage. Jilda and Jackie made a b-line for the stairs. I started to go but then there would have been no one to record the event for posterity so I remained in the seat and took pictures.
Jilda has spent a little time in church too when she was younger and she'd done "Circle" a time or two. When they launched into the chorus, the entire crowd of about a thousand were on their feet and the place was a din but over it all you could hear Jilda waling "Will the Circle, be unbroken."
I saw Paul cut his eyes in her direction in acknowledgement. He seemed to be saying OK, girl, you've sung this song before too.
It's a thousand wonders that I'm not here by myself tonight because I have a feeling that if Paul had asked Jilda and Jackie to join the band and hit the road, that I would have been driving home alone. All in all, it was a wonderful experience...and Jilda will be signing autographs at her upcoming shows :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Want Some BBQ

Jilda and I are going to Decatur, Alabama tonight to see Paul Thorn in concert. I've written about Paul in past blog entries. Jilda's friend Jackie is also going to ride up. We're going up a little early to eat dinner at Gibson's BBQ. Gibson's has won too many state and national championships to mention on this website. One of their sauces has been awarded "The Best BBQ Sauce on the Planet". Who knows, it may be the best in the Galaxy and with our primitive means of communications, we just have not received the message yet.
The Overalls wrote a song called BBQ. Here are the words:


I got a cravin' for something fine
Don't want burgers, and I don't want fries
I don’t want chicken, I don't want fish
Nothin' fat free, I want a REAL man's dish
Not just any ol' thang will do
I want Bar-B-Que

A slab of port with lots of sauce
You can get it like that down at Arcihbalds
One half pound pig on wonder bread
I'm in heaven and I ain't dead
Nothin' else in the world will do
I want Bar-B-Que

I feel sorry for the folks up North
They know nothin' bout cookin' pork
They grill steaks and they cook hot dogs
But when it comes to smokin' hogs
Them ol' yankee's ain't got a clue
'Bout Bar-B-Que

cprt 1998 steve norris, rick and jilda watson 11-1-98

We only live about an hour from the joint and yet we've never eaten there. I'll let you know tomorrow about the concert and the food. Here is the link to Big Bob's BBQ Website
Y'all have a great weekend and a great Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Great Meal

My boss gave Jilda and I a free meal for all the hours I've been putting in lately. So tonight we decided to try a place we've never been in Jasper which is much closer than Birmingham which is where we normally go to eat. The restaurant was called the Black Rock Bistro & Grill.
I knew I would like it the moment we walked in - about twenty tables with white tablecloths and napkins. It had jazz music playing softly on the house speakers and it had a jazz motif. It was not pretentious but the waiters and waitresses were there as soon as we were seated - they brought water and fresh baked bread.
The specials were on a chalkboard by the door and we decided to with that - Jilda got grilled salmon and I went with the grilled amberjack both of us went with the grilled asparagus. I called for a wine list and decided on a Chateau de something-or-other, but it was a nice white wine from the Bordeaux region in France.
We munched on the warm bread and sipped our wine until the salad came. We both had romaine lettuce with apple smoked bacon and grilled onion rings. The dressing was homemade buttermilk vinaigrette. I know that might sound a little odd, but take my word - it was scrumptious.
When our plates came, they looked like pictures the way the food was arranged around the asparagus and lemon slices. My amberjack was seasoned to perfection with olive oil, pepper, a hint of garlic and some other things I could not identify.
I usually don't eat desert but had I known just how good Jilda's desert was, I would have ordered one for myself. It was creme brule with blackberries as big as my thumb. I had a couple of bites and I was afraid we'd have to wrestle right there in the restaurant if I went for more.
All in all it was a delightful dining experience. On the way home we came around a curve and I casually pointed out a deer that had crossed just in front of us, Jilda on the other hand spotted the deer that was on the other side of the road about to cross in front of us. I stood on the brakes of the old Volvo and we stopped within inches of the young deer that could not get traction on the pavement. Finally it scampered across and followed its mother. It's a good thing he made it or I might have been blogging about grilled venison for Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mooshy Head

My head is a little mooshy (is that a word?) this morning. I usually go to bed with the chickens......OK, reading back over this sentence I must admit it sounds a bit strange. I can honestly say I've never been intoxicated enough to consider anything unnatural with a farm animal. Perhaps simply saying I go to bed early and get up early would be more where was I? Oh yes, last night I didn't get in bed at my regular time. In fact, I was still working on a problem at work at 1:30 a.m. The weird thing is this - even when I go to bed late, I still get up early so that's why today my head feels not unlike a cantaloupe.
This morning I hit the ground running - slammed down two cups of java, snorted a couple of vitamin B-12's (I'm kidding) and headed to Sumiton to shoot some photographs to go on the website I'm doing for the city.
After I got home I did a very good yoga routine by myself and when I did my ten minutes of relaxation, I fell asleep for about thirty minutes. I felt better when I got up. It will be an early night tonight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Uh Oh!!!

Today has been one of those high stress days. I was on a routine call with some techs from Charlotte, North Carolina and one of them got a page. The tech said "uh oh". As a computer analyst who has been in the business for many, many years, that's a sound that you DON'T want to hear. Darn it, Wow, or would you look at that - make you want to say WHAT? But when a tech says "uh oh", I know from experience that you don't really want to know what happened.
Today was a good example.
Before I could hang up from my conference call, my pager was vibrating off my belt, my cell phone was ringing and my call waiting feature was on overdrive.
By the time I walked upstairs, there was a flurry of activity, crisis conference bridges, emails, pages, and people jabbering. The clicking of keyboards sounded like a heard of horses running on asphalt. When major computer systems have problems a lot of people in our building get really excited.
After an hour or so, things were back to normal but there will be thousands of man hours spent during the coming days trying to figure out exactly what happened. Plans will be made to ensure that it doesn't happen again. It's an interesting world.
I'm working on another problem this evening but the level of intensity is much lower. If things go according to plan perhaps I'll be in bed by midnight. If not, I'll be a grumpy gus tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


My niece called in a panic. Something happened to her computer and now she is dead in the water. She's adrift in a digital universe. Her world revolves around email, instant messaging, web cams and iTunes. She is in a world of hurt.
I asked her if it was a virus and she couldn't say for sure but whatever started her down that path has turned her computer (which is less that 6 months old) into a boat anchor. She's outgrown me. There was a time when she came over almost every day to see us. We'd play badminton in the back yard, maybe play a little pitch and catch with the softball but her old uncle Rick is like an old favorite pair of bluejeans. You don't wear them much, but it's a comfort knowing they are right there in you closet.
She has been fooling with computers almost before she could talk. She would sit in my lap and she'd do paper doll Barbie and dress her in paper-doll clothes. She's the only person I know that went from one end of the Encarta CD to the other. I think she looked at every page. She'd sit so long my leg would go to sleep but she learned a great deal and served as computer expert to her teachers from the first grade on.
But every now and then, she gets in over her head and she rings up uncle Rick to give her a hand. Her mom called earlier and told me she was having major problems and when she got home she made the call to me.
So I'm cutting this entry short and go have a look at her computer to see if we can bring it back to life. Maybe to repay me, I'll make her come over tomorrow and play badminton.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ya Never Know

The local paper ran the story I blogged a few weeks ago about Jilda's and my 33 wedding anniversary and the response has been quite remarkable. I've heard from people I haven't heard from in years. It's hard to know how people will respond to your stories. Sometimes when I think I have really nailed a subject I get little or no response, and other times when I'm just fooling around at the keyboard I'll get a reaction that is both surprising and humbling.
I'm taking a few days off later in the week and I hope to finalize the first draft of my book of essays taken from this blog and the other columns I've written for various media. My lovely bride has agreed to do the first edit and the artwork. It is my intention to put together a package that I can pitch to some publisher acquaintances. Not sure if that dog will hunt, but you never know 'till you try.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I've been staring at my monitor for some time now. The new computer has a flat screen monitor as big as the old drive-inn theater in my home town. I feel like I need to put on sun screen sitting before it.
I had almost written off the writer's kit I mentioned a few days ago but tonight rather than tap impatiently on my key board, I opened up the suggestion cards and one spoke to me....not literally, but it said something I needed to hear.
Ten Daily Habits That Make a Good Writer
1. Eat Healthfully - I think this is actually good advice. I get cranky when I eat junk. I can eat chips, candy, Slim Jim's, and fried anything and I start looking for someone so that I can slap them naked and hide their clothes. So today, I tried to eat right.
2.Be Physical - I agree with this too. When I start the day off with a brisk walk or a good yoga routine, I feel good all day long.
3. Laugh - well anyone who has read this blog at any length knows I like to laugh. You feel so alive when you laugh. There is a woman at work that had some health problems and she worked very hard for a long time to recover. The other day at lunch she got tickled at something I said and she laughed uncontrollably for a long time. As a result everyone at the table laughed too. When I went back to my desk, I felt as if I'd had a nap.
4. Read - I only read two or three books a month so there is room for improvement here.
5. Cross Fertilize - OK, I do this. I play music for hours. I can get lost in the sound of wire and wood of my guitar.
6. Practice Spirituality - I rarely go to church, but I do spend time each day being thankful for the many gifts of my life.
7. Pay Attention - I just started trying to do this. The best advice I got from the recent writer's workshop I attended was from a teacher of creative writing. He said pay attention and when you describe something, don't say pine tree when the tree is more specifically a Loblolly Pine.
8. Give back - I have actually started doing this. Jilda and I started a scholarship fund at the high school from which we graduated. The money will go to needy students that aspire to be writers. It's not a great deal of money, but if it buys a kid a book that helps them on their path to becoming a writer, then it will have been worth it.
9. Connect with another writer - Living in the sticks makes it a little more difficult to do this one. I do wish I knew another write who lived near by. I have a lot of question.
10. Write - This too is an excellent habit. I come across a lot of people who say they want to be writers, but when you ask to see something they have written, they have nothing to show.
It's like the old joke, if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.
Have a great week.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bluegrass Weekend

The PC guy at work showed up at my desk Friday to say my new laptop had come in so in the space of a few months I replaced both my home and work computers. I can tell you this - it was much easier to get my work computer up and running. Corporations are slow to adopt new operating systems so they shunned Vista and went with the current standard of XP.
When I got the new unit, I loaded my backup software, plugged in my backup drive, clicked a few buttons and a went to lunch. When I returned, my data was loaded and my new PC behaved just like my old one except that it's faster. I left Friday afternoon without fretting about dealing with computer stuff all next week.
It's been a beautiful weekend here in north central Alabama. Last night it was down right chilly. I went to the Blackwater Bluegrass Festival which is owned by a friend and by the time I left at around 8 p.m., I realized that wearing shorts and a tee shirt had been a mistake. Jilda is weather smart and decided to stay home last night.
We went out today just before lunch and it was beautiful. The music started at 11 a.m. and we sat there in the warm sunshine, ate hot dogs, and listened to some great bluegrass music.
This evening was my evening to sit with my mom so we're watching the Braves spank the Red Sox in game two of a double header. We prefer not to discuss game one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Out of Steam

I've run out of steam tonight. I went to shoot some photos for a friend of mine who has a bluegrass festival near here. I got there just before dark and the temps were already dropping. That's odd for this time of year.
Anyhow I shot some pictures and howdy'd up with some of our old friends before heading for home. Jilda does four and five hours of yoga classes every day now and she opted to rest this evening instead of traipsing off to the river.
We'll probably go over tomorrow when the sun gets warm and shoot a few photos of the groups. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


You can tell a lot about a person by observing them around the coffee pot. We have simple rules concerning coffee drinkage:

If you drink the last of the coffee, make more

If you don't know how - learn

It's a very simple concept but you would be surprised at the shear numbers of people who just don't get it. The other morning I was heading in to get a cup and I passed a new guy who scurried out of the coffee break room with a steaming cup of java. When I rounded the corner, there were about three teaspoons of coffee in the carafe. I have a theory and it is this: these coffee slackers believe they are more important than you and me. They can't be bothered with putting a filter in the holder, tearing open a small pre-measured pack of coffee and pouring it in the filter and pushing the brew button thereby providing the next fellow proletarian a cup of fresh coffee.
I thought to myself, I bet these little weasels slough off their duties on his co-workers. They probably call meetings without being prepared and I'm guessing they are the ones who talk on their cell phones while standing in the food line.
I saw something really funny at one of our favorite restaurants. It's a cafeteria style establishment and they rock and roll. At lunch time the line is long an serpentine - people with mouths watering waiting to get at the fried chicken, stewed squash and fried green tomatoes. On this particular day, there was a woman chatting on her cell phone and when it came her turn she continued to chat and simply pointed at the food she wanted. The server looked at her for a moment and then asked the person standing behind the woman what he wanted...then he asked the next person what they wanted completely ignoring the chatting woman. She got the message and dropped the phone to her side and glared at the server as if to say "you have a lot of nerve!" He simply said, "I'll be happy to serve you when you get off the phone." I thought the people behind her were going to applaud. She was livid, but not angry enough to storm out because she'd already caught a whiff of the fried okra and cornbread. I wanted to say - and another thing, if you drink the last cup of coffee at work, you should always make a fresh pot!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Writer's Helper

I was killing some time at lunch the other day so I decided to go into Books A Million and peruse the writer's section for a good book. I'm always interested in improving my craft so I decided on "A Creative Writer's Kit".
It's a short book but it has flash cards that are supposed to help you to break free of writer's block.
I closed my eyes and pulled out a card and it said practice "Stream of Conscientiousness Writing." It immediately occurred to me that if I had a "stream of conscientiousness", I'd jump right in the middle of it and swim until I got an idea! I shuffled the cards again and the next one I pulled out was "Write the Truth." Well the truth is, I feel like an idiot paying good money for a writer's kit that instructs me to "Read Your Writing Aloud." WELL HEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM LADY, THERE AIN'T NO WRITING TO READ OUT LOUD!!!!!! THAT'S WHY I BOUGHT YOUR BOOK!!!!!!
OK, I'm calm now. I've found my center. I have learned that struggling to come up with an idea is like trying to pick up a marble with chopsticks. For a moment it's within your grasp and the the next moment it's streaking away at the speed of light leaving in its wake a frustration that makes you want to toss something through a nearby window. The downside to that it that you have to replace the window at great expense which takes the fun out of the entire venting instead I sit here and stew.
When I mention this to my friends they say why put yourself through it? It's very hard to explain. I feel deep down that it is important on some level- not necessarily the words I write but the pursuit of something extraordinary.
I started to trash the writer's kit, but as I read over this post, I realized it did its job for me - not in the way they intended, but life is strange like that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Memories of May

Most of our teacher in grammar school had given up by May 15th. It was only a few days until summer break and testing had been completed so they spent most days trying to keep the roof on. We spent a lot of time outside.
My fourth grade teacher was Harley Hocutt. I think he was about three-quarters Native American with a thick black hair, dark eyes and a strong nose. He was the first male teacher any of us had ever had. He scared the crap out of us on day one so we got in line and stayed there all year. As it turns out he was an animated teacher that had a love for American history and geography. We learned by doing projects, taking field trips and studying maps for hours. He's probably the reason I love maps today. I've had a framed map on my wall for years and every so often my eyes will drift to the map - to the places I've been and the places to which I long to go.
Mr. Hocutt also loved basketball and by year's end, he had all the boys and girls dribbling, shooting and passing like the globe trotters. "You don't have to be the fastest or the most talented," he coached "just learn the fundamentals, learn to focus, and have fun."
One morning a few days before summer break, he decided to have a softball day so the class went out, divided up sides and played softball for most of the day. Mr. Hocutt was the umpire behind the plate. Danny was the batter and he foul-tipped a softball that screamed past the catcher, who was wearing a mask, to Mr. Hocutt who was not wearing a mask. The ball hit him squarely on the nose and an instant later blood was everywhere. Danny was horrified that he'd hurt Mr. Hocutt. Not because he was afraid of retribution, but because we had all grown to love our teacher.
Mr. Hocutt reached up and held his nose to stop the bleeding. Danny ran back to hug Mr. Hocutt around the waist and to apologize but he simply patted Danny on the back and said "I'm OK, son let's PLAY BALL." We were all relieved that he was not hurt badly.
He passed away a few years ago and I learned about it too late to attend his funeral. I really wish I had looked him up before he died and told him how much he meant to me and the kids there at Dora Elementary.
I drove by the old school grounds on Saturday and this story came to mind. I wanted to go out and shoot a few hoops but an arson burned the old school down many years ago and the playground is grown up with blackberry brambles and honeysuckle vines. So I just drove by slowly and in my mind replayed those old fond memories of May.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I love deer and I love okra so now I have a dilemma because deers are eating my okra plants. I'm sure the squash and peas are next. People told me that if you get human hair from a beauty shop that a deer won't come anywhere near your garden, but I've had other people tell me it's a waste of time.
I'm real close to putting up an electric fence around the plot.
We've been overrun with critters the last few days. Last night we let Ol' Buddy out to take a walk before we retired. I was writing last night's blog entry when Jilda started screaming "COME HERE - HURRY". I've lived with her long enough to know that something was going down so I hustled out to the front yard. Down under the azalea bushes Ol' Buddy was snarling, growling and barking frantically. The bushes were shaking like there was a grizzly bear in there. Buddy turned tail and ran out from under the bush growling as if to say WHERE ARE THE RE-ENFORCEMENTS!!! He was bouncing up and down like he was on a trampoline. Then he then wheeled around and headed back in. I grabbed the flashlight and started in until Jilda said it might be a snake! I stopped dead in my tracks, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and I surveyed the ground around my bear feet post haste.
I reached in and snagged Buddy by the collar and pulled him out from the bushes. With the flashlight I saw something dart to the left. When I pulled the bushes to the side, I saw an Armadillo as big as a Ford Escort. I grabbed a small stick and threw it at him. He wheeled around and scurried off down the bank towards the road.
Ol' Buddy was still barking and snarling as he was looked at me as if to say "why did you run him off, I could have taken him out!"
It's been an interesting few day for wildlife around here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

“The greatest lessons I have ever learned were at my mothers knees. All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother - Abraham Lincoln”. I'm not sure it could be said any better than old Abe said it, so I won't try.
The house was full of people today. Kids, grand kids, and great grand kids were all around and mama was glowing - until the Braves came on TV. When the national anthem was sung, she slapped on her headphones to drown out the sounds of yapping grownups and squealing kids so that she could hear the game. I had to smile. She doesn't hear well these days, and her vision is not that good either. The noise going on around her is a confusing jumble of sounds and blurred images. My sister bought a TV that even I can watch without glasses. It's big enough for mother to see and with the help of headphones, she can actually hear the game without doing serious injury to the hearing of everyone else in the house. When the Braves did good, I'd look at her a smile widely and when the did bad I'd frown and shake my head. It was the form of communication she understood and appreciated.
We left during the seventh inning stretch and she muted the TV long enough for me to tell her I loved her and that I appreciated all that she has done for me in her life. And as I stood to walk away, a little tear slipped down her cheek as she slipped the headphones back on her ears.
Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Life is a Treasure

It's decoration day tomorrow where Jilda's parents are buried. We waited until the sun dropped low in the western sky before going down there to decorate the graves. She bought red and pink silk roses and spent a great deal of time today doing stunning floral arrangements in baskets.
When we arrived at the McCormack Cemetery after six, there were hundreds of people there wandering around the tombstones. An old cemetery is almost like a time machine because as you stroll through the headstones of people you once knew - people that touched your life in some way, your mind is transported to another time and the memory is as real as the smell of sweet shrub in the spring.
My sister's husband James is buried there. They married in the 60's and I knew him most of my life. His car was always clean. I'm not sure how he did it, but in the forty or so years I knew him, I never saw him in a dirty car. He loved to camp and Jilda and I always had a standing invitation to join them. We did a few times, but I wish we had joined them more. He and my sister Mary Lois brought Jilda to Fort Campbell, Kentucky the day I graduated from boot camp in 1971. I have a picture of us all and my head was was practically shaved. He developed cancer several years ago and left a hole in our lives that can never be filled.
Jilda's older brother Herbert who passed away early last year is buried there as well. He was several years older than us and he was always kind to me, especially during the early years after I married his baby sister. He loved guitar music and he would listen to us play and sing for hours. He enjoyed the old country songs made popular by Hank Sr., Ernest Tubbs and Little Jimmy Dickens and he would always ask us, with a grin on his face, to play things like "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose". He was a good soul and I miss him.
The great old cemeteries have paths and benches so that people can sit in the silence and connect on some level with those who have passed on. It's hard not to feel a great sense of loss but this evening as the shadows grew longer I chose to remember the good times and the gifts we shared. And I thanked the Good Lord for the remarkable people who have help to make my life a treasure.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Life is Good

The rain came this evening and it made me smile. Looking out at the garden just over the back fence, the plants looks as happy as I do.
It was warm here today. I had to run out at lunch to pick up a few things and my truck was HOT! I'm not sure what possessed me to buy a black truck in Alabama. It's pretty but you can smelt steel on the hood in the summer months. I bought the truck in early spring a few years ago when the weather was much cooler but I should have known better.
which is the software I use to build websites, won't run properly on Vista, neither with Believe it or not, my new computer is finally coming along. I should have it to a normal state by this weekend. Buying a computer with Vista loaded was a mistake. The software itself is probably OK, but they released it before other software makers were ready. Dreamweaver, ProTools, and my mailing list program - the stuff I use daily was practically worthless.
When they do have products that will run on Vista, I'll have to buy upgraded versions. The Adobe Dreamweaver suite was going to cost $800. By the time I get everything upgraded, I'll be out a small fortune.
So rather than do that, I decided to simply load my old XP software. Well, that's easier said than done. Gateway, which is the brand I purchased, dropped all support for XP on the computer I purchased. When I called to tell them I was loading XP and I needed some drivers to make it work, they said that it would void my warranty. I come really close to telling them where to stick this computer. I would have had it not been for a kind Gateway technician who said, "I'm not supposed to do this but you can find what you need - here," and he pointed me to a website where I got some of the stuff I needed.
I then enlisted the help of all my geek friends and together they helped me get XP loaded and most of my software working.
So tonight, with the rain gently falling on my garden and me sitting here listening to Mozart and writing this entry on my new computer, life is good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I can hear thunder in the distance and the wind gets up from time to time but still there is not rain. I tell myself that I can almost smell rain and dust, but it may simply be my imagination longing for a nice spring downpour.
I called a guy about an estimate for a tin roof last week. I'm not sure if it currently fits in our budget, but you never know until you ask. You have put then intention out there. Once you intend for something to take place, the universe begins to send things you way to make it happen for you.
On another subject, I listened to a story by Tom Wolfe about Bob Noyce, one of the founders and the brains behind Intel. He came from a small town in Iowa and attended Grinnell College there. By a fortuitous chain of events, he was one of the first people to consider the power and uses for the solid state transistor which was invented by scientists working at Bell Labs - John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley.
Bob Noyce and several other start engineers worked for Shockley who left Bell Labs to pursue a career in semiconductors, but Shockley's style of management didn't suit Noyce and some of the other star engineers so they set out on their own and the results of what they accomplished touches almost every corner of the world and almost all area of life including transportation, agriculture, medicine, and many other fields. I won't bore you with the details, but anyone having an interest in the genealogy of Silicon Valley should have a look at the biography of Robert Noyce.
I've almost gotten my new computer up to speed now and I hope to complete that work tonight.
I hope I can finish it to the sound of rain on my roof.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Deer Through the Headlights

A friend a co-worker had to run out of the office to a meeting yesterday at lunch. She got on Interstate 459 heading east towards highway 280. She was still in the city limits when she saw a blur from the corner of her eye. The next thing she knew there was a grown deer in the highway, then on the hood of her car and an instant later it was lying on her console still breathing. She managed to get her car stopped but she had to reach under the deer to unbuckle her seat belt.
She was still shaky when we talked to her several hours later as she was leaving the emergency room.
"I've got to go home and clean the deer parts and glass out of my hair," she said. I thought to myself, had that been me, I would have been cleaning something out of my underwear. It's a miracle that she walked away basically unhurt.
Both Jilda and I have been lucky. We see deer all the time around here and the will frequently dart out in front of you at the last moment. We too have been fortunate, but we are very mindful that they are there and we watch for them. You usually don't expect a deer to enter your car in the city limits of a large metropolitan area.
She will probably be back to work tomorrow and I'll be able to get all the details first hand.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mother's Day

One of the earliest memories I have of my mother was when I was about three or four years old. We lived in an old four-room house in West Pratt, which was a coal mining community just outside of the town of Dora. From a distance the old house looked as if it was bricked, but upon closer inspection it had asphalt siding that was simulated brick. We had running water in the kitchen, but the bathroom was an outhouse on a hill several hundred feet from the house. Mama washed clothes on the back porch in an old Maytag wringer washing machine.
We had a garden nearby and free range chickens long before they came into vogue. I remember I had been playing outside all that day and I must have looked like a coal miner after a hard day in the hole. It was probably in the spring because I remember I was shirtless and barefoot but I had on a pair of shorts. Mama had just finished the last rinse of a load of work clothes when she called me to the edge of the porch. Like a flash she snatched me up and tossed me into the washing machine full of cold water. I squealed like a pig at first and then when I adjusted to the cold water I fell into a fit of laughter. She laughed too as she poured more cold water over my head to wash off an afternoon of sweat and grime. She did things like that a lot when we were kids. Things that took you by surprise - things that made you laugh.
She did not start having health problems until she was in her seventies and the autumn before she fell ill the first time, I can remember her playing football with grand kids and other young folks from the neighborhood. Even with all her trials, she still has a wicked sense of humor that she lays on unsuspecting visitors. I know my sense of humor comes from her.
Another gift she gave to all her kids was a strong work ethic. Even in her late sixties she used to cut grass for people. Not because she needed the money but because she loved to work. We all did chores from the time we could walk - like hauling in scuttles of coal and emptying the slop jar (if you don't know, look it up), but when we got a little older we all got jobs.
Mother always insisted that we do a good job at whatever we did. "If you're going to start a job son, do it right, she counseled, "it's much easier to do it right the first time that having to go back and lick your calf over." I don't really know where "lick your calf over" came from, but I know that it means re-work. She could have written a wildly successful business book based on this idea and sold millions of copies to corporate America. Companies today waste billions of dollars annually on re-work.
She taught me so many things that have been valuable to me in my life and when I try to find the words to say thank you, they often sound hollow and trite.
This Sunday is Mother's Day and we will visit her. If it's like our usual visits, we'll sit on the couch and make small talk while the Braves play on a nearby television. We'll buy her some flowers, give her a gift and Jilda will paint her a special watercolor Mother's Day card.
Hopefully I can find the words to say how much I appreciate all her sacrifices and the gifts she has given me throughout my life.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Strike Out

I've struggled tonight. I'm trying to write an entry about mother's day. I've been at it for a few hours now but the words seem hollow and trite. Each edit seems to make it even worse. So rather than write something shallow, I'm going to take a pass tonight and have another shot tomorrow when my mind is fresh.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Stolen Sunday

I'm not sure what the record is for the longest conference call but I've got to be in the running. I was on a call for a little over twelve hours today. My ear still hurts. It's a good thing I have a headset or I'd have a crick in my neck to boot. My boss kept apologizing for stealing my Sunday, but there is no blame to assign - the work had to be done.
When I got off the call I took a short nap which felt great. Afterwards I went out on my tractor and bush hogged in the lower garden and around the barn. Some folks might ask why would you go out and do more work, but there's something about riding around on a tractor that is therapeutic for me. That old Ford is not fast, but I think I could drag my house around if I so chose. Put a bush hog behind it and it will cut down and shred small trees....and if you happen to run over a good sized rock or chunk of wood, it will launch the projectile for hundreds of feet at the velocity of a Smith and Wesson 357 round.
Anyhow, the baked chicken is roasting in the oven and we have selected a nice movie to watch so I plan to enjoy what's left of my Sunday.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Cinco de Mayo is our anniversary - thirty three years today. It's been a beautiful day. Tonight we had dinner at Fox Valley which is a very nice restaurant near Helena, Alabama. We invited our friends Steve and Judy to join us. I had the seafood sampler and Jilda had the steak and crab cakes. We enjoyed a very nice Merlot from Tuscany and topped the meal off with desert. Jilda had the chocolate broulet and Judy had chocolate chip cheese cake. Of course Steve and I had to help finish that off.
I'm glad we got to enjoy today because our company is working on a really big business deal and I figure I'll be working long hours for the next few weeks. I may even have to fly out to Plano, Texas - the jury is still out on that.
But tonight I plan to kick my shoes off and take it easy. Y'all have a great Sunday.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spacemen Stole my Rain

The rain was all around us today but none fell on our tomatoes. I could hear thunder in the distance and I could see clouds all around, but apparently the area of high pressure is located directly above my garden.
It could be some kind of high intensity vortex spiraling from my small garden spot to a black hole somewhere in a distant galaxy sucking the rain out to some thirsty extraterrestrial travelers.
We could be in real trouble if they ever got their grubby little green hands on one of our tomatoes. We'd be covered up with UFO's. "Greetings Earthlings, we come in peace - we'll trade three antimatter flashlights and a used flux capacitor for a bushel of those red things."
So tomorrow I guess I'll be out early with the hose pipe watering but you can bet your tricoders I'll have one eye scanning the sky.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Corn on the Cob

We're having fresh veggies tonight for dinner. Green beans, new potatoes, fried squash and corn on the cob. Is there anything better than corn on the cob? I inevitably get things stuck between my teeth that I have to dig out with a stick but it's worth - it's a small price to pay because the food is so good! I'm all about good food.
There are different stages in the lives of people:
When you're young, you want to go where there are swings and see saws and smaller kids that you can bully. When you are a little older, you want to go where the girls are. If bikini's are involved, well that's just fine too.
When you become a young adult, you are looking for hot parties, with lots of beer, loud music, and the best chips and dawgs.
As you get older your criteria changes and there are several more stages through which you pass.
I'm currently in the stage where food is the most important factor. We plan our vacations and our weekend visits around food. "No, let's not go to Reba's house, all she has is cold cuts and box wine. I'd rather go to Louie's house because he always grills that seafood and bakes that homemade bread with the olive oil and garlic dip. He also has a commercial refrigerator that keeps the beer cold enough to crack your teeth. " Sorry Reba, you need to buy a clue. We know you don't have time to cook because you are working night and day to pay for that big ol' house, the Saab, and that wide screen TV. Louie, on the other hand, lives in a house trailer and plays James Taylor cassette tapes on a boombox he's had since Carter was in the white house, but he's got a state of the art grill on the patio and that boy knows how to cook some dead fish! I'm really enjoying this stage.
I hear the next stage is not as much fun because it involves comparing scars and blood pressure medication. "You think that's something, they filleted me like a trout and stored my heart in a in a bucket while the stripped veins out of both legs and one of my arms! Heck I was clinically dead for 45 minutes. I still have this nasty twitch that doctors attribute to the anesthesia"
I'm sure when I reach seventy five or eighty, I'll be happy to compare surgery, procedures, and side effects, but right now, I'm really enjoying the corn on the cob.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Peace Necklace

Jilda made me a peace necklace today. It's made from tiny African Christmas beads and small chunks of turquoise with a sterling silver clasp. We both had peace necklaces back in the 60's but they went the way of bell bottom jeans and "Keep on Truckin'" posters.
The ones we had were antiques and our niece scarfed them up several years ago for her retro hippie ensemble.
I made a decision early on with this blog to steer clear of hot button political issues. So I won't debate the war here but I feel it is important, on a personal level, to support peace.
There is not a day goes by that I don't think about our soldiers and their families. Sitting here in the safety of our homes it's hard to fathom the stress and hardships the soldiers face on a daily basis. It can't be much easier on the families who were left behind.
I know at this point there are no easy answers - no one has the magic solution that will resolve this conflict and bring our folks home for good. The scars will remain for generations to come.
So I'll wear my peace necklace and imagine a world without war - and say a prayer for the safe return of our loved ones.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fun Spring Day

Our songwriter friend Tracy and her husband Eric called one spring morning several years ago with an interesting proposal - "Y'all wanna be in a country music video?" The video was for Cajun artists Jo El Sonnier and Eddy Raven and the song was Fais Do Do. Well, yes was our immediate response. She gave us the timetable and said "why don't y'all come up this evening?" This sounded funny coming from Tracy because she is from Canada and she ends sentences with "A". "It's gonna be a lot of fun, A?"
Anyhow we loaded up the car and headed to Nashville with all due speed. We spent the night in their apartment, ate grilled burgers and played Monopoly into the wee hours of morning.
Eric was Jo-El's manager at the time and he had to be at the shoot early so we rolled out of bed before the sun came up and headed out of town to an old Cajun Seafood Restaurant on the outside of Nashville. I don't recall the name but it was in an old service station and they served seafood that was well worth the drive.
When we arrived around 9 a.m. the isolated restaurant was abuzz with camera crews, production staff, photographers, and gawkers.
Soon Jo El Sonnier and Eddie Raven showed up and the filming started. The production staff brought in an old wooden john boat and filled it full of boiled corn, new potatoes, and crawfish. The cameramen filmed the feast for inclusion in the video. I took one photo of Jilda with Tracy and they had crawfish shells up past their ankles and smiles on their faces.
When the video was edited down, there was a split second of me on screen, but Jilda, who is more photogenic was on screen a lot more. All in all it was a very fun day. We got to spend the day doing something we'd never done before. Jo-El Sonnier is a delightful person and was very kind to us that day.
We got to hang out with dear friends, country music stars, and as a bonus, we also got to eat a boatload of seafood. What better way to spend a beautiful spring day?
Link to Yahoo page showing video

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required