Tuesday, July 31, 2007


School starts here in a few weeks and I asked my niece if she was ready. "I've been ready" she groused "I'm bored." Those are words you would not hear me say within earshot of my mother. I made that mistake once and she gave me a list of chores that kept me scurrying for hours. Go wiped down the clothesline, water the chickens, sweep the porch, and clean the glass in the front windows and when you get through with that come back because I have more stuff.
By the time I got through, I had learned my lesson. I thought to myself - I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night. She'll never hear me utter those words again as long as I live...and she never did.
The truth is, almost never got bored as a child. I didn't spend a lot of time indoors watching television because had I been in ear shot, I felt certain there was a list of stuff she'd need me to do so I was out and about. My friends and I explored the world around our community. I knew every creek, pond, mining hole, and tree swing within a ten mile radius. When I came home at night, I was usually tired and sweaty from the day's exploration.
When I asked my niece what's she'd done this summer she said she had slept. Hmmm - good thing she didn't grow up in our house.
So I guess it's a good thing that school is starting back soon cause if hear her complain about being bored, I'm going to find something for her to do.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You Never Know

I was in a training class today. It's a lecture style class and the instructor was very good but by mid afternoon my eyes had glazed over and I began to drool. I had my chin propped on my hand and when gravity made my head list to starboard the wrist and elbow buckled and it took a miraculous recovery to keep from banging my nose on the desk. I was embarrassed to say the least. I acted as if I had dropped something and was leaning in for a closer look. The instructor was hip to me. He was not fooled for a second but the rest of the class was in various states of unconscientiousness so they didn't have a clue which was a good thing. I stood by my desk for a while a stretched to wake up.
I think the folks in South America have the right idea. They take a two hour lunch and after they eat, they take a nap. I know for a fact that I would be much more productive if I had about a thirty minute nap after lunch.
I'm thinking about suggesting this new policy at our next Employee Satisfaction survey. "Bear with me boss, I think you would see a dramatic increase in productivity if your entire team had a nap time built into their day." My boss actually has a great sense of humor and I'm sure this suggestion would make him spew his Dr. Pepper all over his laptop. Still, you never know till you ask.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Do What You Love

I was browsing through some of the old songs that Jilda and I have written and came across one that I had forgotten. We wrote it about ten years ago and we performed it for years but it fell by the wayside. It's called "Do What You Love" and I think is says a great deal. We started practicing it today and we'll start playing it again. Here are the lyrics:

Love What You Do
Do you ever get the feelin’,
Life is passin’ you by
Have you ever asked the question,
What’s wrong with my life
Do you dread Monday morning?
Is your job killin’ you?
You don’t do what you love
Or love what you do

When you do what you love, and love what you do
All of your dreams can come true
If you started right now, it would not be too soon
To do what you love and love what you do

There are so many people,
Who work day and night
At jobs that they hate
Their wasting their lives
There’s a lesson worth learning
They don’t teach in school
You gotta do what you love
And love what you do


Everybody’s gifted,
In some special way
Once you find your callin’,
Your work is more like play

Repeat Chorus
cprt. 1995 rick and jilda watson

It's actually good advice and I highly recommend you do what you love.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Saturday Night

I've been dreading this move for months but I got up this morning and knew that today was the day that I moved my new computer and installed it in my computer desk.
I should have put on a mask but I did not and I fear I will pay the price tomorrow because there was enough dust in and around my old computer and in the computer desk to grow corn.
I could hear the motor in the old Kirby vacuum drop about an octave when I started sucking up the dust.....kind of like a wood chipper when you throw in a telephone pole instead of the usual limbs.
It took the better part of the afternoon but it's in and it looks great! I'll start removing the files from the old PC and begin the slow process of decommission.
I've gotten a ton of really positive feedback from my weekly columns in the local paper. A woman stopped me today in Treasure Mart and said "I love your columns in the paper, but your picture makes you look old!" I hadn't really thought about the picture they use for the column, but I'll probably get Jilda to shoot a new one. Not sure that anything short of an all out airbrushing/touch-up by a PhotoShop whiz can make me look much younger but I'll probably give it a try.
I'm firing up the grill this evening and we plan to grill a couple steaks and enjoy a nice bottle of red wine. Hope you have a great Saturday night too.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Father and Son

I was shuffling the list of songs to which I listen when I'm writing. I came across an old song called Father and Son by Cat Stevens. It's a story about a young man that's about to leave the nest. The father who obviously loves the boy is trying to offer advice - trying to say what's in his heart but the words are falling on deaf ears. Both are talking but neither is listening. And it's obvious that it will not end well. That's a strange time in a young man's life. That time when the decision is made and no words can change his mind.
There was a period of time in the early 70's after I got out of the Army and I was living at home. My hair was kept short during the time I was in the military but once I walked off of Fort Jackson, South Carolina I did not cut my hair for many years. My dad was a clean cut, clean shaven man and he DID NOT like long hair. I used my humor for a long time to fend off his displeasure but the chasm grew and I finally moved out. He did not speak to me for a long time. It's the first time I ever did anything against his wishes. In retrospect it was not that big a deal. I've often thought that I should have simply cut my hair to keep the peace but that was a turbulent time and pride stood between us. It seemed so important to me at the time to stand my ground and he had no intention of changing his mind.
My mother was the go-between and she worked hard to maintain an unsteady truce. Things did not escalate and after a time we both simply let it go. It's something we laughed about in the years that followed.
But as I listened to Father and Son tonight, a feeling of melancholy almost took root. Here are the lyrics to Father and Son by Cat Stevens.

Its not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that its not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
Its always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

Its not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
(son-- away away away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone - no)
All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
Its hard, but its harder to ignore it.
If they were right, Id agree, but it's them you know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.
(father-- stay stay stay, why must you go and
Make this decision alone? )

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Di Vinci

I finished up a book today that I enjoyed. It's "How to Work Like Leonardo Di Vinci". Leonardo was a heck of a talented guy. Apparently he never heard the phrase "Curiosity Killed the Cat" because he was one curious dude. Perhaps that's where the phrase originated. The cat was curious about what Di Vinci was up to and suddenly old Leo snatched up the kitty and dissected him with a paring knife. He actually did learn anatomy by cutting up cadavers. Now that's curious.
He was into everything - art, science, optics, invention, avionics, anatomy, and medicine. He is credited with so many things it blows the mind. He not only drew sketches of helicopters, tanks, double hull ships and a parachute. Someone actually built a parachute based on his design using things that were available then and it worked. He also painted the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa which is considered by some to be the most famous work of art on earth
Obviously most of the things he envisioned would not be built for hundreds of years but his journals contained pictures and technical descriptions that were remarkable.
The book I just finished said that if you wanted to improve your memory, creativity and productivity that you should embrace the attributes that Leonardo used - some of which include:
Sensation (the ability to use all the senses to learn and to experience)
The ability to embrace ambiguity
Balance - use both logic and creativity (left and right brain)

The book was inspirational and as always, there are things I can take with me and use in my life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Eating Crow

I feel a little lost today. We had a series of thunderstorms rake through the area. The light show was amazing but lightening tends to play havoc with computers and modems. I’ve lost more than one modem. So last night I powered everything down before a bolt came crashing through my cable, out my keyboard and onto the fillings of my teeth. This morning when I powered everything back up to check my email, I had not connection. I powered everything off and back on but no luck. I knew better than to call the Charter Help desk because I’m guessing Bob is still smarting from the entry a few days ago where I had fun at his expense. So I went off to work with that unsatisfied feeling. My life was not totally without meaning but things seemed a little askew and I blinked my eyes a lot. My saving grace was that I could come home after work and check my email to get my life back in balance.Well I knew when I walked through the door that something was not right. I actually think I have ESPN because I sensed that my modem was still not hooking me up and one glance at the lights and my worst fears were confirmed. NO SERVICE. I wouldn’t call it a total collapse but Prozac would not have been totally out of the question in this situation.I called Bob with my hat in my hand. Hey Bob how’s it going? How about those Braves. Bob was all business. “So you have a problem with your modem,” says Bob caustically. I am soooo sorry – sarcasm dripping out of the earpiece of my phone.Yes Bob, I think my modem went south. “Perhaps I can contact one of my “right-shored” co-workers in Argentina to see if he’s seen it,” Bob said with what I presume to be a self satisfied smirk on his face. “Why don’t I send a technician over to check things out?” Bob said enjoying shift in power. “I could have one come out – let’s say the second week of August. Does that work for you Meester Smarty Pants Blogger Man?” I started to protest but I feared he might shove the appointment out until Thanksgiving. “Just have someone come out as soon as possible,” I pleaded.So tonight I’m writing my update in Word. I may have to send it to one of my wired friends via carrier pigeon but I’ll get it uploaded one way or the other.If I start to go on another rant about my funny talking friends on the other side of the planet, please remind me that Bob is watching from a distance.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Call Me Anything

My boss is giving me a new opportunity at work. Great! I lied. I was already busy but apparently I'm just the person for the new duties. I found myself thinking "how in the heck am I going to do this too?" But there are three of us on my team and we have a motto: "Call us anything, but call us Employed!" We kind of live by that creed. It will take me some time to get up to speed and I'll have to juggle some of my current responsibilities and do a little better job of time management but I will be fine.
I'm starting a countdown calendar for my retirement from this job. Currently it is 1086 days...or 26076 hours to be more specific. Do you love the Internet or what. It just occurred to me to mention the countdown calendar and I reached for my calculator......I then thought why not Google it. I typed in countdown calendar and they asked for the date, and timezone along with the current time and BINGO.
As I've stated before, I have a lot of stuff to do before I give it up, but I'm working my plan each day. Not only am I dreaming about the things I'll be doing, but I'm actually laying the ground work for the stuff I plan to do once I pack up my plants and books.
My time will consist of:
Playing music
Tending my garden
Visiting with my friends
And traveling at other people's expense.
I'm excited. But until that day, I'll need to make sure I field all the skinners my boss knocks at me. Call me anything, but call me employed ----till I retire.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Customer Service

You can call it off-shoring, outsourcing, right-shoring, downsizing or best shoring, but the bottom line is that the folks in the U.S. are unemployed and when you call in a trouble on your _____________ fill in the blank, your going to get someone on the other end of the phone that doesn't talk like us. Hello my name is Jagannatha...then after a very long pause, "but you can call me Bob" the help desk person says. Well just where are you from Bob? I find myself asking. I am from Bangalore comes the response. "I bet that's not in Maine," I speculate. Ha ha ha, no I'm in India. "Well it's about 4 p.m. here Bob, what time is it there?" "Oh it's tomorrow morning 2 a.m. your time meester Watson," says Bob. "I've got an idea Bob, " I explained "since you guys are about 10 hours ahead of us, why don't I call you Saturday afternoon my time and get you to look up the ticket numbers for Saturday night's Florida lottery. I'll run down to the state line and buy the winning numbers and split jackpot with you." I could almost hear Bob staring into the telephone asking himself "is this guy smoking hashish?"
Never mind Bob, I've got a problem with my __________ fill in the blank, and I need your help.
At this juncture, I try a number of pointless things trying to resolve my problem. I get frustrated and hang up the phone cursing under my breath. Bob's boss in the U.S. smiles and pat's himself on the back for providing such great customer service. I, on the other hand find a friend who has had the same issue I'm having and he tells me how to fix the problem with my _____________fill in the blank.
It's frustrating but it's pretty much the way things are now. I don't begrudge anyone having a job, but when our companies put our folks out of a job and try to make it appear that customer service is better - it gets my goat.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


One of my young nieces is expecting a baby which is due in January. We had lunch with them today and afterwards we sat around at talked for a long while. I have to be careful giving out advice. There's an old saying that goes: "Advice - wise men don't need it and fools won't heed it." I know this can be very true. I had people that tried to give me advice when I was much younger but back then, I had all the answers. I felt sorry for the folks giving me advice. Obviously in looking back I fell on the fool side of the old saying because had I heeded some of the advice, I would have been much further along with my life plan but there is nothing you can do about yesterday. The best you can do is to learn from your errors and move on with your life. You can point out the pitfalls to those younger who don't have as much experience, but only time will tell if your advice takes root.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Self Improvement

I'm a self-help fanatic. I've been this way for years. I've listened to hundreds of books and read hundreds of other's. Some are helpful and others are fluff.
I stumbled upon a podcast called Metamorphosis. The podcast is not as slick as most of the books on tape/cd to which I listen, the content has been quite good. Peter Shepherd is the owner of the website trans4mind.com and his weekly podcasts are based on articles and essays written by people from all over the world.
If you enjoy self improvement, you might want to visit his website and browse. http://trans4mind.com

Friday, July 20, 2007

In Three Years

I took the day off today and worked on a short story that's been careening around my head for a few months now. I think the only way to free myself of it is to write it down. I've developed the discipline to write daily for this blog but so far I haven't psyched myself up for doing additional stuff.
Now that the weather has changed and we are getting more rain I have to cut the grass more frequently. I'm not sure why, but I get good ideas when I'm cutting grass. It doesn't matter whether I'm pushing or riding a mower - but as soon as the mower starts slinging grass, my starts spinning at the speed of thought.
I tried taking a small hand held recorder with me so that I could capture my ideas but when I listened back it was like *&(*&(UG*&T^%(^)*&^ at the river (*^*^%%#$^*(())___ without any chance of )((^$#%^%!!$%%. I realized quickly that the tape recorder only works properly when the lawn mower is not running. So it's a bit of a paradox. I can only record my ideas when the lawn mower is off but the ideas only come when the lawn mower is on. Oh well.
I'm trying to do some homegrown syndication of my weekly column that runs in the local paper. I figure if I could pick up a couple hundred newspapers willing to run my column each week, I could quit work and write full time. That's where I see myself in three years.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

I took my camera today ready to shoot photos of the dogs I wrote about last night. It was my intention to write something profound and touching so that I would get twenty or thirty emails from people wanting to adopt the pups. I'm actually quite good at this kind of email persuasion/coaxing/treachery. When I was the president of the Telephone Pioneers (an organization that helps the needy) several years ago, I had a knack for picking just the right cause. The family who had lost everything in a fire - a single parent that got laid off the week before Christmas - a child that was ill or in need of assistance. I had an email list of several thousand people who worked for the telephone company and I would get in a quite place and gather my thoughts and when I'd worked it out in my mind, I'd write an email that reached down deep into the hearts of good and kind people. The donations always came pouring in. We managed to help some very needy people and it felt good to be able to do it.
I was ready to write one such email on behalf of the abandoned pups on the side of the road but when I came to the place where they have been living, they were gone. The water bowl was gone and there was no sign of the pups. Apparently there is another dog lover around here with a soft heart.
Not just anybody is willing to adopt stray dogs. For one thing it can be expensive because in most cases the animals have been abused and/or neglected. They need a bath, shots, medicine and who knows what else before they even get home. Then there is that period of time when you have to spend a great deal of time trying to undo the damage done by the people who dropped the dogs off. That's actually the fun part because it involves a great deal of petting. I personally think someone who would abuse/neglect an animal is lower than snail poop.
I am thankful that someone made the effort to help these particular pups. I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Sad Thing

I saw a dog on the site of the road near my house several days ago but I thought nothing more of it. I drive almost a hundred miles a day so it stands to reason I should see dogs and all kinds of critters on my commute.
This morning as I was driving in that same area - my mind was on things I needed to do at work but I glanced by the road and not only did I see the same dog, but I saw two puppies that looked as if they were half starved. I would have given them my lunch but as it turns out today I didn't carry my lunch so I had nothing to offer.
On the way home this evening I stopped at a quick stop and picked up a small bag of dog food and some treats. As I approached the area where the dogs were stationed, they were in fact still there but I noticed as I slowed down that someone had beat me to the draw as there was several hamburger buns and a bowel of dried food as well as a pan of water sitting there by the road. The dogs looked like they were about to pop.
There are very few things in this world that get my hackles up but mistreating animals or small children is something gets to me. Why would someone dump a mama dog with two puppies by the side of a rural road and leave them there to starve?
I'm not sure what to do about the dogs but I intend to make sure they have food while I come up with a plan. Perhaps I'll shoot some photos in the morning and post some notices at work to see if someone would like one....or better still, the whole family. I'd prefer to place them in a home because if they are taken to the humane society, there is a good chance they won't leave there alive. That's not an indictment because those folks are perpetually under funded and there are simply more unwanted animals than people willing to take them. It's a sad thing.
If you are looking for a family of small dogs, please drop me a line and I'll hook you up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hard Pill to Swallow

My older sister has had a run of bad luck if you believe in such things. She was sued a while back by someone who went to church with her. This woman was visiting the home of my sister when an incident happened. The woman decided to file suit. I'm guessing this person thought - "she has insurance, it should be no big deal."
As it turns out, it's a bigger deal that the person anticipated because the insurance company canceled my sister's insurance yesterday and her new policy doesn't go into effect until tomorrow. The problem is that lightening struck her house today and fried her phones, television and air conditioner.
I went down there and got one of her phones working and I'll fix the others tomorrow evening, but the AC and TV could be much costlier.
I know there are situations where legal action is required, but it's not something I would enter into lightly. There is this thing called cause and effect. The things you do can have a significant impact on the lives of others. There is also an old saying that says "What Goes Around, Comes Around."
My sister has no ill will toward the person who sued her, but the actions taken hurt her feelings to the core.
We can help her get her stuff fixed, but a feeling of hurt and betrayal can be more difficult to overcome.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Garden Stuff

The weather patterns have changed and we are getting some rain almost every day now. It was warm and humid after lunch today but the clouds moved in this evening and the sky took on a gray marble motif and I could see torrents of rain falling off on the horizon as I crossed over Red Mountain.
The garden loves this weather. We get rain and then the sun comes out and warms the soil to the roots. I also think the compost is finally beginning to work. We have been composting for years and the small spot where our garden grows is rich with organic matter. The proof is in the leaves and the fruit.
We haven't had many critters this year. We don't use pesticides so one of my chores is to police the area for unwanted pests and do my husbandly duty of squishing them flat on a garden rock. It's not a pretty sight but I think it's better for our health.
Gotta run now - Jilda's calling me for supper. She whipped up a tomato sandwich and cut up some squash and we're eating them raw with ranch dressing dip. Yum.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Life is Good

Today was a picture perfect day. I put new blades on my riding lawn mower yesterday and it cuts like it did when I first bought it. I got out this morning and mowed the yard and garden.
Afterwards I sat on my wheelbarrow at the edge of the garden and soaked up the sun. The breeze out of the west felt cool on my skin. I felt like an old river turtle lying on a log.
My dogs were no better as they took up positions all around me and we laid there and blissed out for a long time.
Once I got up, I found a ripe tomato and plucked it from the vine. Still warm from the sun I took a bite and the juice dribbled down my chin. Not sure life could be much better.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pickin' Problems

We had practice tonight with The Overalls and I was off. I got frustrated with my self until I remembered that I was up very late last night on a problem at work. I once could stay up all night and never miss a lick but that is simply not the case now.
So I'm going to sleep in tomorrow morning and try to catch up.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Old Journals

I've been reading through my old journals and I came across a profound thought that I had jotted down on June 17th 1994 - "Time is a slow assassin". Kind of depressing now that I think about it, but profound none the less.
As I read over the older journals it's interesting that some of the themes recur. Farming, songwriter, and world traveler. I've wanted to be a writer for years and I did write almost every day in my journals but the words were kept private not because I wanted to keep them to myself, but because they had no wings.
That's the beauty of Blogs. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can get their own space and write about thing of interest to them. I read quite a few Blogs. Many are like mine but there are others that embrace other topics I find interesting. I read music Blogs, songwriter Blogs, and Treehugger Blogs. I also enjoy travel and photography. I ran across a photographer's Blog recently and it blew me away. The URL is http://www.jeshderox.com/?view=XXX_09NNN/
I think his specialty is wedding photography but the photographs on this site are extraordinary in my opinion.
The point is that there is no excuse for NOT writing, if that is something near and dear to your heart.
I plan to read back over all my old journals and capture any ideas for Blog entries. Maybe I can share some words of wisdom in the weeks to come.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Life is Good

I got home a little early today and I walked down to take a stroll through our small garden. I'm glad now I kept the plants alive because they are doing great now that the rain has come.
We eat tomatoes every day now. I took one to work today along with a couple pieces of bread. I sat with all my friends in the lunchroom and the conversation was all over the board as usual but when I removed that big old tomato from my lunch sack and began to slowly cut slices off that crimson orb all conversation stopped as they watched.
Where'd you get that someone asked - mouth watering. I kept my eye on the tomato and kept slicing and said "out of my garden." Even the ones who made fun of me earlier in the spring I could tell were thinking about planting a small garden next year. I live for those sandwiches.
Jilda also plants a row of flowers next to the garden. Her grandmother Mammie taught her to do that, but we have since seen lots of garden shows that advocate planting flowers near your garden to add color. Some flowers like marigolds also act as a natural insect repellent.
This evening as I looked off the deck I could see that a sunflower had bloomed so I took the camera with me. The sunflower back almost backlite by the setting sun and the color was stunning. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Think About it So Much

I was sitting here tapping the keys trying to think of a subject about which to write. Tapping the keys seems to facilitate the creative process. It's like being on an elevator - you push a button to go to another floor and if the elevator doesn't launch you in the right direction, you find yourself pushing the button time and again. The rationale is that the elevator thinks that a lot of people want to go and it will hurry up. It took a while for me to understand that elevators are quite stupid and will not hurry up if you push the button a thousand times. In fact, the speed of the elevator is indirectly proportional to how late you are for a meeting. If you are early, it almost anticipates that you need a ride and the door opens with a welcoming DING. When you push the button it catapults you to the designated floor causing your stomach to churn like one of those parachute rides at Six Flags and you stagger off the elevator as if you were drinking. On the other hand, if you are in a hurry, not only does it take an eternity to reach you, it seems to wait around for ever just to see of someone else wants to ride. It also inevitably stops on every floor between you and the floor to which you are headed...........now where was I going with this thought?
Oh yes, as I sat here tapping on the keyboard trying to get an idea, Jilda stepped into my office, kissed me on the head and gave me a Dove dark chocolate. When you open a Dove chocolate, there are quotes inside the foil. This one said exactly what I needed to hear - "Don't Think About it Too Much."
I had to smile as I read this little bit of wisdom. I immediately got the idea about tapping keys and elevator buttons. Thank you Dove chocolate you are just what I needed - in more ways than one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do What You Love

It's so easy to get off track. One day you are doing the things you should be doing and life is good. You enjoy working and you feel like the work you are doing is worthwhile. Then one day out of the blue you take a wrong turn and all of a sudden you are way out in left field lost in the tall weeds.
You think if you work harder and smarter you'll find your way back but then you get in a rut and you spend so much time doing things that are important to other people and you forget about what's important to you.
Each year Jilda and I get lots of high school graduation invitations and we try to come up with gifts that suits the graduate. A fountain pen, a book, or perhaps a nice journal for keeping track of their lives but I think by far the most valuable gift is a little advice I always give.
Go to college and study a lot of stuff. Read lots of books and travel if you get the chance. But most importantly, spend a great deal of time thinking about what's important to you. Don't worry about making money, just focus on the things that make you smile. Do your best to find your bliss because when you Do what you love, and love what you do, your vocation becomes your vacation. You get lost in your work and you stay excited about the mysteries of life. I believe that if you do what you love, you will make a life and not just a living. Believe me, there is a huge difference.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Am I Getting Old?

Maybe I'm just getting old, but did you see all the hurrah about the iPhones last week? I heard a story about a woman that when to a store an hour before opening and offered a kid who had been camped out there for days, $800 for his first place in the line. Apparently she had gotten hold of a hundred thousand dollars and she intended to buy all the iPhone at that location and scalp the phones to the highest bidders. She was very disappointed to learn that the store limited sales to one iPhone per customer. The kid on the other hand was ecstatic. He pocketed his $800, got back at the end of the line and bought his iPhone a few hours later. I'm sure like me, he loves America.
But here's the deal -I can't think of any gadget for which I would wait in line for more than a few minutes. Sure these iPhones are hot right now, but in a few months, they'll be giving them away in a box of Cracker Jacks. The next generation of phone will probably allow kids to redirect the Hubble Space Telescope back towards earth and take pictures of their girlfriends who are vacationing at the beach or maybe provide a live 24x7 webcam feed of Paris Hilton walking her dog. Who knows what they'll do next.
I really wish they would invent a phone that had good service out where I live. I'm sure it's in the works - right behind the perpetual motion motor that will make petrochemicals obsolete.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Finding the Time

I often have people say to me when I play at a party or festival - "I'd give anything to play the guitar like you do". My friend Herb Trotman provided me with the perfect thing to say which is: "would you give up an hour a day for the next twenty years?" Most of the time this stops people dead in their tracks. They want to play, but when it comes right down to committing the time, most people are hesitant.
Writing is not that different. Writing something unique and meaningful takes time. You have to come up with an idea and then mull it over for a while honing it down like putting an edge on a dull knife. I can promise you, it would be much easier to eat supper then kick back on the sofa and watch TV till time to go to bed, but that doesn't put anything down on paper.
I currently have a lot of irons in the fire. Not only with the day gig, but I do a lot of websites and other assignments which demand time. It is my intention to star paring down on the number of projects I do and dedicate more time to the craft of writing.
Hope you all had a great weekend.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

An Old Slow Rain

The weatherman said it would rain last night but we've been lied to before so we didn't get our hopes up. We turned the AC down and left the bedroom window cracked a little just in case. It started out with a faint ticking sound as the rain drops fell on our antique philodendron which spends its summer outside our bedroom window in the shade of the water oak.
Next, the chimes on the side porch reported that the wind had kicked up out of the west. By the time it was daylight, a steady gentle rain was falling and you could almost hear the plants, trees, and shrubs rejoice.
We put on our rain slickers and walked to the garden to pick some squash, tomatoes and pepper. When I stepped between a row, one of my bare feet sunk up to my ankle in the rain soften soil. I looked at Jilda and smiled.
We went out for lunch today but when we returned, we took a two hour nap. I probably would still have been sleeping if Ol' Buddy hadn't started snoring.
Even with the rain we've had in the last several hours our area will probably be still be considered to be in a drought condition, but this rain has been a gift and I for one am grateful.

Friday, July 06, 2007


The south has been at the bottom of all lists in years past. Income, jobs, literacy rates, infant mortality, obesity and countless other lists. Looking in from outside there were those who felt the south was a foreign land to be avoided at all costs. But something has changed and a lot of people are finding out that if they can withstand the heat and humidity of July and August, the rest of the year the weather is quite agreeable. We play a pretty good game of college football and we'll Bar-B-Que anything that ever walked on four feet. There is still a lot of land and as Alan Jackson sings his hit "Gone Country", we're not as backwards as we used to be.
So this is for the folks who do move south. Even though we talk slow, that doesn't mean we are slow witted. The quickest way to get on the bad side of a southerner is to talk down to us, or tell us how good it was back where you come from. Most folks here would suggest that if it was better where you came from, why didn't you stay? You still hear yes sir and no sir quite often. We don't call our soft drinks pop or soda - we call them CoCola's as God intended.
Even today when I'm driving and a funeral procession approaches, I pull my car to the side of the road and stop while the cars pass. Having been in those processions often, I am humbled by this tradition which is observed by those young and old throughout the south. If you are from the south and you don't do this, shame on you - if I catch you not stopping, I'll tell your mama.
After I started writing about this, I realized that I there are about a million other small courtesies that we do here. So I reserve the right to continue this line of thought in future entries. If you're from the south and have something you'd like to add, please send me a comment.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'd Rather Have it and Not Need It

I think I need a Llama or perhaps one of those pack mules that all the prospectors had during the California Gold Rush. I must have been a nomad in a previous life because I carry everything with me.....I mean everything. My backpack weighs sixty pounds and if you looked inside you would find a flashlight, a small tool kit, first supplies, a sewing kit, and over the counter medications that can treat any condition from a headache to flatulence. I've got my passport, insurance papers, fingernail clippers, and my daily planner. My Palm device has the phone numbers, addresses, email address, and birthdays of everyone I know. I have an mp3 player with no less that ten full length audio books and a hundred of my favorite songs. I've also got a digital recorder that I use when I do interviews or when I hear an interesting sound such as birds, rain, thunder, or the sound of tearing muscle from carrying all the weight. When I do come upon an interesting bird, I have a digital camera with a lens the size of a jumbo can of Campbell's Soup. Only the Hubble Space Telescope can get a better picture of Mars.
I've got pens, pencils, paper clips, sun glasses, a razor, toothbrush and several hundred other items that escape my memory.
I don't carry a handgun, but if you are a mugger you should be forewarned that I do have a sling shot, a small hatchet and a can of pepper spray so don't even think about picking on me.
I had my backpack on the couch the other day and my brother-in-law reached down to move it to the floor and it almost pulled his arm out of his shoulder socket.
The folks at work make fun of me, but whenever they need an antacid, tweezers or a chain saw, they come to me.
Why do I put myself through the toil of carrying luggage with me even when I'm running to the grocery store? Well I have a saying that I live by and that is: I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July

I woke up thinking about our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan this morning. I know from experience that holiday's are one of the hardest things to endure when you are away from you family and friends. My heart goes out to them all.
I've known it all along but we owe so much to the soldiers. They don't question the reasons or rationale for war because that is not the nature of what they do. They take orders and objectives and they put their lives on the line to see those orders through.
The first army of America was a rag-tag bunch of misfits that were ill equipped, out manned and weary to the bone, but they simply would not give up. Even when all looked hopeless, they kept on and finally they were successful.
The soldiers who followed through the years sacrificed too. The uniforms, the boots, the weapons, and the strategies have changed, but the overall job remains the same - take that hill, secure that town, feed those prisoners, clean that weapon, take care of your feet, and write to your mama.
I get angry at times at the direction our country has taken and I let my senators and congressman know how I feel. I get angry because I care. I love this country and all that it has done for me.
But I can not let a 4th of July pass without saying how much I appreciate the sacrifices our troops have made through the years. Their hardships and trials make it possible for us celebrate with our friends - to eat Bar-B-Que, watermelon, and drink ice cold lemonade and I am grateful to them all.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'd Have To Pay A Luxury Tax

I'm not sure if it can be proven scientifically, but it is my belief that food tastes better when you eat it on a porch. I'm guessing the government could fund a study - especially if it was Enron, Exxon, or Haliburton doing the studying, but I'm guessing they'd find, after charging the government millions of dollars, that the results were inconclusive because they needed more oil....but I digress.
I picked a fresh vine ripened tomato this evening and took it inside. I lightly toasted a couple slices of wheat bread, spread a thin layer of mayo, sliced and salted the tomato still warm from the evening sun. I made a fresh batch of sweet tea, took my sandwich and went out on the porch. I had the ceiling fan on medium high and the fountain gurgling like a mountain brook. As I savored the sandwich, the wind played a gentle melody on my chimes.
If life gets any better than this, I'd have to pay a luxury tax.
I think I'll make me another one.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sea Shells and Gumbo

There is a basket of sea shells that sit on the bathroom vanity at my house. They have been there for years - so long in fact that I had almost taken them for granted. Something shifted in my perceptions and I saw them again which caused a flood of memories to come rushing back like an angry surf. I remember the day we collected the shells at Blue Mountain Beach near Sand Destin, Florida. It was New Year's Day 2000 and we were celebrating with our friends Kaye and Ron.
The weather was rough on New Year's Eve and we couldn't celebrate on the beach as we had planned so we stayed in, listened to music, talked, ate Ron's world famous seafood gumbo and swilled Champagne. I had a headache the next morning but as you probably know, fun ain't cheap.
After breakfast we decided to go for a walk on the beach. The sky still looked menacing but the breeze off of the gulf was unseasonably warm. We wore shorts and sweaters.
Walking down at the edge of surf, LOOK - Jilda exclaimed as she bent down to retrieve a very nice conch shell. All of a sudden it was like a bunch of kids at an Easter Egg hunt. We found smooth clam shells, cut-ribbed Arks, sharks eye, and tented cantharus. There were a lot of shells I couldn't name but I picked them up just the same. We left the ones that had living critters in them.
When we looked up and down the beach, there was no one in sight in either direction. It was like the Good Lord said "hey y'all, why don't you get some shells." We all were soooo excited and came home with baskets of very nice shells. We've never had that kind of luck shelling since.
We've known Kaye all our lives and she married Ron in college. When Jilda and I were married in 73, they were two of our very best friends. Ron had the same heart condition as Lewis Grizzard but he kept in good health through the years so the condition was kept in check. But later that year - the year we found all the shells, he had a sinus problem and I guess infection attacked the weakened valve.
We spent our vacation at the hospital with him. He seemed to stabilize so we came home. We had barely gotten home when we got the call that he had passed away. It seems a small blood clot broke loose in his system and he died leaving us all broken hearted.
So it is with mixed emotions that I sit here regarding these beautiful shells. They were a gift for which I am deeply grateful, but what I wouldn't give to have another cup of Ron's gumbo.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Foolish Another Day

There was a dark cloud approaching from the south as we headed out after lunch today. Were were going to see our new great-niece Daisy and then on to our buddy Steve's house to practice for an upcoming gig. I kept an eye on the horizon but as we drove we passed a family owned fireworks stand which they run out of a small metal building beside their house. There were a ton of folks milling around in the fireworks as we drove by. I thought to myself, you guys are going to see some real fireworks if a bolt of that lightening strikes too close to this lightning rod of a building in which you are standing. I hit the gas and got on by because that really wasn't something I cared to see.
I'm a little skittish of fireworks anyhow. I've mentioned before that I've had several close encounters of the explosive kind with fireworks.
When I was a kid my dad gave me a sparkler because he thought that would be safe enough for a small kid. I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off and then accidentally dropped the sparkler in some dry grass. Before you could say uh oh, it seemed like the world was on fire. It took my dad and several neighbors to put the fire out with pine tops before any serious damage was done. Then there was the issue at our Fourth of July gatherings where I got a bottle rocket down the back of my shorts which burned a blister on my butt.
I've shot fireworks since then, but I have a healthy respect for them...enough to know that when there is lightening in the area, it is not a good idea to hang around a metal building with a stash of fireworks big enough to blow a crater in the ground as big as Connecticut.
When we drove by tonight on our way home, there were still people hanging around and I didn't see any yellow tape cordoning off the area so I guess they lived to be foolish another day.

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