Monday, March 31, 2008

Caller ID

Caller ID has made phone pranks almost obsolete - they've gone the way of the 45 record. About a month ago, I got a call at 3 a.m from a couple of rocket surgeons who claimed to be the police. It seems there was an outstanding warrant for me. I became suspicious when I heard kids giggling in the background, but I played along. "What's the charge officer, I haven't done anything!" "Bad checks," came the reply...more snickering in the background. "Well, I didn't know I had bounced any checks but I'll be happy to settle up first thing in the morning," I pleaded. "No, now that we know you're home, we are sending the county sheriff after you right now!" More hilarity in the background as they hung up the phone.
I turned on the bedside lamp and looked at the caller ID - the name and number popped up pretty as you please. Now these kids were either dumber than rocks or they had never grasped the idea of caller ID. I dialed the number back and it was busy. I'm guessing they were menacing someone else who was half asleep. I hit redial a few times and bingo, the phone rang. The kid picked up the phone quickly and answered tentatively. I'm guessing he was wondering who would be calling at that hour and he had to snatch up the phone before it woke their parents.
"This is BellSouth Security and we recorded your conversation with Mr. Watson. He's a heart patient and your call frightened him so badly that he had "an episode". He is currently being rushed to the hospital as a result of your prank call. We're praying he makes it." Long silence, then I heard him clap his hand over the phone and hissed the situation to the accomplices.
"You need to go wake your parents right now and tell them to contact their lawyers - we are sending the county sheriff to you house right now to pick you all up!"
I smiled as I laid the phone back in the cradle, as imagined the scene at the prankster's house.
I am not without experience with phone pranks myself. Our pranks were a lot more innocent. "Do you have Prince Albert in a can? We'll you better let him out before he smothers to death." Another favorite was: is your refrigerator running? Well you better go stop it before it runs away!" Ha, ha, ha. We played one of these on an elderly neighbor when I was about twelve. It was in the early summer and everyone left their doors open to catch a little breeze in the evenings. I could tell our elderly neighbor was miffed at the prank but we hung up and laughed uncontrollably. What was unfortunate for us is that our elderly neighbor was a lot sharper than we anticipated. She not only heard our laughter on the phone, but she also heard it through our open door and hers.
We heard her screen door slap against the jam as she walked across the tracks. Elwander, Elwander - that's what she called my mother. I looked at my accomplice in horror. She ratted us out so quickly it gave me a head ache. That wasn't all that ached by the time my mother got through with us. She whipped me and my friend both with a hickory. I don't think I got to use the phone again until I was in college.
Yes, phone pranks can be fun, but with caller ID, I wouldn't advise it these days.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Late Night

We played the gig last night and I thought we sounded as good as we've ever sounded. Our Buddy Fred took his equipment and did the sound for us and we got a lot of complements. I was thrilled. We've also gotten better at crowd interaction. Steve, the third Overall, has performed a great deal by himself over the past year or so and has become quite good with his stage presence but I've struggled a little with that aspect. Last night things seemed to gel.
I'm sitting on the screen porch writing this and I can see the blooms our dogwood tree are peeking out and should be out in force by the end of the week. But, it's still not swimming weather here in Empire. I'm wearing a sweater and sweat pants and it's still a little nippish.
We have a crab apple tree in our back yard and the blooms on it are peeking out as well. That is one beautiful tree when it come in full bloom.
I'm already yawning so I'm fairly sure it will be an early night at the Watson household.
Have a great week.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Y'all Come

I'm posting early tonight because The Overalls are playing and we won't be in before midnight. We are playing at Java & Jams which is the coffee shop at 321 20th street north. Feel free to run by if you're in the area. The food and coffee is very good and there is no cover charge. You can come in, get a coffee buzz, listen the the 'Alls and go home tapping your foot.
I'm still ailing from the back/kidney/???? condition. It comes and goes. Last weekend, I could barely walk. This weekend, I'm moving a little better but the problem has not gone away. I should be on my new insurance after Wednesday and I'll be able to see a doctor without having to get a second mortgage on the farm.
I picked up the lawn tractor today after fixing a steering problem and have it tuned up. It's running like the day I bought it. I'm going to cut some serious grass tomorrow.
Y'all come.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Babby Sitting

Our nephew James and his wife Andrea got it a baby sitting bind this evening. He was shooting a wedding at 5 and his mother-in-law who had agreed to keep Breeze, came down with some kind of bug so he had to scramble around at the last moment to try and find sitters.
He gave me a call this afternoon and asked if we'd mind sitting. We're pretty much a sure thing because we are crazy about all his kids. I picked up some KFC on the way home and Jilda scooped up Breeze and brought her home. I arrived a few minutes later with the food.
Since she's been here, she's watched cartoons, had her fingernails painted, made sugar cookies (and has eaten a batch), painted colored, fed the fish, and petted all the dogs.
I'm headed in with the guitar to start singing some cartoon songs which I'll have to make up on the spot.
Gotta run. Duty calls.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wild Turkeys

I guess this is the week for game. On the way home this evening a wild turkey walked right out in front of me just before I got to my driveway. It was broad daylight and wild turkey's are very skittish but this Tom waltzed out like it owned the highway.
It's turkey season now and he might have been fleeing the firing squad, but it looked more like he was shopping for supper.
I have not done any hunting since I was about sixteen. The last time I remember going, we were in Sumter County in South Alabama.
It was in late November and it turned out to be a miserable weekend. Once out on my stand, the rain came and soaked me to the bone. After the front moved through, the temperature started dropping and by mid-afternoon, the sky was spitting sleet and snow.
I found an old burned out a huge beech tree. Fortunately for me, there was a big opening in the trunk of that tree big enough for me to crawl up into and get out of the way of a steady breeze coming out of the north. I had already unloaded my gun and stood it beside me inside the stump. All I could think about was the roaring fire back at the hunting lodge but I knew it would be an hour or so before someone came back through to collect me.
I had almost dozed off when all of a sudden I heard a noise that sounded like a low flying chopper coming from the north. When it flew past, I saw that it was a giant Tom Turkey. It landed about a hundred feet directly in front of my stump and began looking around cautiously. I watched for a long while before I felt a sneeze coming. The instant I sneezed, the bird was airborne and quickly out of sight.
I came home with pneumonia and from that day on I was less enthusiastic about hunting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who gives a Hoot

I heard the owl last night. The waning moon provided some light but I couldn't see the bird. The breeze out of the west made him sound close one moment and the next he sound far away. I'm sure it's coming up on mating season so he's most likely talking trash to his girlfriend who probably lives down on the Mulberry River which is about a mile away. Sometimes you can hear them both. Who, who, whoooooooo and she will respond in kind. If you listen long enough, you can hear the gap between them grow smaller and the intervals between hoots shorter.
I'm not sure what happens to the young because the population around here doesn't seem to be increasing. You'd think if they had two or three off springs that there would be more hooting going on, but that's not the case. It could also be a life span issue but they are such magnificent birds, they look as though they could live forever. I'll have to study up on this to see if I can solve the mystery.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Little Vine

There is a little Primitive Baptist Church not far from where I live that is called Little Vine. I had never thought much about that name before tonight. As we drove by on the way from the funeral home, I wondered if there was a "Big Vine" church somewhere.
When we were kids we used to swing on vines. We'd go out in the woods, preferably on the side of a mountain or near a creek somewhere, find a tall Oak with a big muscadine (pronounced muskydine) vine growing up it and before you knew it, we'd all be swinging like Tarzan. We'd clear out the scrub pines and other obstacles from the swing path and away we'd go. Some of the vines we used were straight line swings and others were round-a-bouts. Either one was more fun than a barrel of drunk monkeys.
One Saturday we found a vine on the other side of horse creek and the Oak was situated so that you had to get a running start down the side of the mountain and just before the vine started lifting you, you'd have to raise your feet up high to keep from busting your butt on the ground. Once you cleared that one small hurtle, the vine would take you up about three stories high before sending you back toward the mountain and the tree at about 120 miles per hour.
We all rode that vine until our arms were weak. Johnny wanted one last ride so he back up about ten feet higher up the mountain to get a little more speed before he was launched. Well the vine must have been tired too because as soon as he raised his feet up to clear the ground, the vine gave way and Johnny started cartwheeling down the mountain like a yo yo with a broken string.
I thought for sure he was dead but he hadn't stop rolling good before he jumped up and whooped "what a ride!"
He said he wasn't hurt but I noticed a distinct limp on the way home and he decided to skip Sunday school and sleep in. It's a thousand wonders we didn't have fatalities back then but I guess the Good Lord was watching out for us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Great Loss

I was stunned by an email I received this morning. It was sent to my work address sometime Saturday but I didn't log on until today.
It seems there was a horrible accident on Good Friday. Four teenagers were headed down Interstate 459 not far from where I work. The day was warm and since they were in a convertible, the top was down to get the most of the day. An unconfirmed report I heard said that something blew from the interior of the car and the youths stopped and started backing up to retrieve the item that had blown out. As they were backing up, the driver lost control and the car backed out in front of an oncoming FedEx tractor trailer trucks that was probably running the legal speed limit which I think is 70 miles per hour. The collision instantly killed two eighteen year old boys and two girls that were sisters. I was horrified when I heard about this accident on the news. My thoughts and prayers went out to the families. I didn't know it at the time, but my prayers went out to our friends Keith and Kathy Swinford. Their son Joel was a passenger in the convertible.
I work with Keith and helped him when he started learning to play the guitar. He and his family has been big supporters or The Overalls and our music.
I talked to Keith a while this morning and the pain in his voice was indescribable. It breaks my heart each time I think about his loss. I know their lives will never be the same.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

goosin Younguns

Is there anything more fun that goosing younguns? If you know of something, I'd like to hear about it. We don't have kids but we have a slew of nieces and nephews and I've goosed more kids that the law will allow. My back is feeling much better today which allowed me to get out and about and for that I'm thankful.
I did my Easter column in the paper today and I'm going to post it here.
I hope you've all had a great day.

The Daily Mountain Eagle Published March 23, 2008 12:53 AM CDT
My mom loves holidays. Christ-mas, Labor Day, the 4th of July all hold special meaning for her. She came from a large family with 13 kids, and all of them were big on holidays. Each year we celebrated holidays at the homes of our aunts and uncles. When all the kids, grand kids, cousins and other family members converged, parking became perilous. We spent each Easter at Aunt Edra Mae’s house. She had a big farmhouse on the other side of Jasper and her yard was the perfect place to have a massive Easter egg hunt. Everyone would start arriving immediately after church dressed in their Easter frocks, hats, new pants and shiny shoes. When we were all in the yard together, we were more colorful than a jar full of jelly beans.

She had a Spinning Ginny in her yard. A Spinning Ginny is a homemade merry-go-round. Uncle Herman had cut down a hickory tree in their yard and left a stump sticking up out of the ground that came almost to my waist. He had a board about eight inches wide and about 12 feet long attached to the stump with a huge metal spike. It looked like a big propeller sticking out of the ground. Kids would get on both ends of the board and other kids would proceed to spin them around. I personally have spun so fast that the skin on my face drew up tight like one of those centrifugal force machines they use to train astronauts. When I stepped off the Ginny, I staggered around as if I had drunk a quart of hard liquor.

Like all the family gatherings, we had a feast. Each of my aunts tried their best to outdo the others by cooking up chicken and dressing, hams, yams and potato salad. I am convinced you could not have bought a better cake – for any price.

After lunch, all the men would haul about a thousand multi-colored eggs out to hide. Every kid tried their best to get a look out a window to see where the prize eggs were being hidden.

The ritual included gathering all the kids to get on the front porch while Uncle Herman explained the boundaries and ground rules. He took his sweet time, which drove the kids to a frenzy. At last, he would announce – “let ‘em go.” Once he gave the command, God help anyone between the kids and the eggs.

Usually the grown-ups passed the hat before the hunt and collected a hefty sum of cash for the one that found the most eggs. I had a cousin who was a ruthless egg hunter. His strategy was full-contact seek and destroy. If you both locked on to the same egg, you could expect a brawl. He could bully all but a few hunters. My mom was one he could not intimidate and she would whack any kid that was not mindful of egg hunting etiquette.

She loved hunting Easter eggs but she did not hunt for herself; she helped the little kids fill their baskets. She would always pick the underdog child who arrived a second too late only to have their eggs scarfed up by a bigger, faster kid.

Once she picked out the kid she wanted to help, she would shadow them and give them hints. She never picked up the eggs, because that would have taken the fun out of it for the child, but she made sure they found their share. She was not above doing a little blocking and subterfuge to sidetrack the bigger kids long enough to ensure the underdog could bag some eggs.

Nowadays, she does not get around well, so she usually sits on the porch in the warm sunshine and silently watches. I can usually pick out the child she would like to help, so when the hunt begins, I make sure that kid gets their share of eggs. I always know if I have been successful by the smiling faces of the child, and my mother.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Feeling Old

The last few days, I've felt old. My back is a mess and I'm not sure what's causing it. All I know is I have to roll off the bed and hold on for dear life until my legs pony up the strength for me to stand up. The pain is exquisite.
I rode to Sumiton this evening to pick up a few things for Easter lunch tomorrow. Tomorrow is also my lovely spouse's birthday so I wanted to pick her up a card. When we arrived at the store, it was all I could do to get out of the car. I wiggled out holding tight to the "oh-crap" bar inside the car and the top of the vehicle. It was not a pretty sight.
We were going out of town for Jilda's birthday and we had to cancel because I was not sure if I could ride four hours without being hospitalized. I know she is disappointed as am I.
Walking seems to help so after lunch today we took the dogs out for a stroll. Astro promptly jumped a deer and the last I heard him he was almost to the next county.
I guess we'll lay low tonight. I hope a new episode of John Adams is on tonight. We've watched two and they are excellent. I read the book by David McCullough last year and it blew me away. This guys is an awesome writer. I've also read 1976 which shed a whole new light on what our forefathers went through for me to be able to sit here on my deck this evening and write this entry. I am humbled to think of the sacrifices they made and so many folks either don't realize it or they simply take it for granted.
Happy Easter.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Stones

I was off today for Good Friday and the weather was exceptional. I got up early and did yoga and made arrangements to take my lawn tractor for a tune and to pick up my taxes. Everything was going smoothly until I was on my way back home.
I started getting intense pain in my back with the muscles spasming. It was all I could do to make it to the couch where I remained for most of the day. My doctor called me in some meds but they haven't started working yet. He says it might be kidney stones. I'm excited.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring. It was cool this morning as I hustled off to work before sunrise, but the afternoon sun warmed things up and it turned out to be a picture perfect day.
When I was a kid at Dora High, this time of year drove me crazy. It was still a few months away from summer break and all I could do was sit on the back row and stare out the huge windows at blue sky, fluffy clouds and trees that were slowly coming alive.
A few of the teachers would hold class outside during the period just after lunch because it seemed a struggle for everyone to stay alert. The lucky kids got study hall during that period, but some of us were not that fortunate and those hours were the longest hours of my life.
These days, I can go outside after lunch, take a walk and enjoy spring days. I consider that a gift.
I hope you all have a great spring equinox.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Love Springtime

It's been a blustery day. The rain moved in early with lightening and thunder off in the distance but the bad weather never came and for that I am thankful.
I drove by my first blooming dogwood of the year. It looked like a white cloud being whipped by the wind. Our giant dogwood has buds as big as a nickel. When it comes out in full bloom, it takes my breath away.
The wild honeysuckles (they are actually wild azaleas) are a little slower to come out. There is a pink one that grows near the big rock overlooking the pond down behind the barn and when the sun warms the rock, that particular honeysuckle blossoms out days before the other one that grow nearby.
Soon the woods around our house will come alive. I love springtime.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patty's Day

Last night Jilda cooked corn-beef and cabbage for Saint Patty's Day. It's a meal we enjoy every year. We had yoga class so we didn't get to eat until late but afterwards we had a small feast.
We have Darby O'Gil and the Little People that we watch every year. I love that little movie because most of the characters look like family members. Jilda's family is of Irish decent and dad favored the guy that played Darby in the film.
There is something comforting about rituals. With the hustle and bustle of life, it would be so easy to blow off the important days and do something easy. I have to say that my lovely spouse is very fond of tradition and rituals and rarely does she let a significant day pass without doing something special. It doesn't take a great deal for us to celebrate, but St. Patty's Day is a natural for us.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I usually eat in the cafeteria simply because it is easier. On those days when I don't carry a lunch, the cost is very close to that of a used Mazda, especially if you get tea.
I didn't carry a lunch today and I was bracing for lunch thinking I might need to fatten my wallet at the ATM before getting into the lunch line but we had a system to go down and I had to get on a conference call which lasted through lunch and when I did get free, the lunchroom was closed.
I decided to walk across the parking lot to a small hamburger place. The sun was out and warm as toast. The Bradford Pear trees, wild plum and the dogwood trees were almost in full bloom. The songbirds were skittering from tree to tree, surveying new home sites for nesting.
I ordered my food and picked up a Black & White newspaper and sat outside. There were several lawn workers blowing leaves and cutting grass in the distance but the sounds were not distracting...because they reminded me of spring.
I sat there, slowly eating my food and reading the paper. It felt like I grew a few inches during lunch. It also made the afternoon go much better.
We will soon be planning our spring cookout with picking & grinning, eating, talking, cooking marshmallows and just enjoying the fact that we're alive.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Stuff

I'm a little late getting started this evening. The Overalls practiced this evening with the sound system and a good sound engineer. The thing about practicing with sound, is you can hear what you're doing well.....but you can also hear what you screwing up too.
We started out sounding good but the longer we played, the sloppier we got...more specifically, the sloppier I got. I need to bare down because we have another gig in two weeks and I want to be ready.
This morning started out with a little excitement. My niece called from next door and said she heard voices outside her window. It was about 9:30 a.m. and she was home alone with her infant son. I threw on my shoes and ran over there. When I got to her house about a minute after her call, there was a man and a woman walking up through her yard. I called out to them asking what they were doing there and they explained that their cows had broken out of their fence and were running wild. They were herding the cows back to the pasture and unaware that they had scared the living daylights out of my niece.
Nothing like a little excitement to eat up a morning. I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


We woke up this morning to pouring rain and the sound of thunder in the distance. I turned on the weather channel while the coffee was brewing and the weatherman said one last wave of storms were just west of us and beyond that, was clear sailing.
About 9:30 it was Katy bar the door but true to his word, the clouds blew out and the sky turned blue as sea with big white puffy clouds. It was still quite windy but they helped to dry things out a bit.
We went for a walk after lunch down the walking path behind the barn. A few weeks ago we bought about a half pound of wild flower seed and scattered them along our trail. Today when we looked, we could see the wildflower plants beginning to peek out from the warming earth. Soon we'll have thousands of flowers to make our walk even more pleasurable. The good thing about wildflowers is they usually come back year after year unless they are disturbed. When they cut timber off the land adjoining ours, they scrapped the earth flat in places wildflowers and all but it's our intention to help them recover.
Tonight we had dinner with my sister-in-law and her family. We were celebrating her birthday and I would not be so imprudent to mention the age, but let's just say she has socks that could be classified as antiques.
Happy Birthday Pat :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Evenings

There's something about Friday evenings that I love. Relief that the work week is over, and the excitement the weekend brings is something that puts me in a good mood.
I live in a "dry" county and for people reading this column that are not from around here, this may sound strange but it's true. Dry counties are fairly common throughout the south. By dry county, I mean that the sale of alcohol is illegal. Several years ago, Jasper which is the county seat of Walker county, voted to allow alcohol sales, but for the rest of the county the sales of alcohol is forbidden. The county next to Walker County (Jefferson) is wet and the county line has been a place of intense commerce on Friday evenings for as long as I can remember.
I imagine that since prohibition, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of beer, wine, and liquor have been sold on the county line.
I knew a guy that started a package store when I was a teenager and he had a bunch of washtubs and started filling them with ice and beer before noon each Friday. By dark, he had sold a mountain of beer. There is no telling how much money he made.
These days, since Jasper can now sell alcohol, most of the traffic on the county line is headed for Greentop BBQ. In the Greentop, you'll find an eclectic mix of people. There will be regulars sitting on their favorite bar stool sipping a cold Bud but you will also find a preacher and his family from the Baptist Church that stopped by to have a heavenly meal and wash it down with sweet tea. You will also find, coaches, professionals, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and folks from the media.
This evening Jilda was too tired to cook so I asked what she would like me to fetch for supper. She got that longing look in her eyes and said, "are you up for Greentop? I'm always up for Greentop. So that's what we had for supper and that's what gave me the idea for this post.
They also ship worldwide. If my friends in England want a taste of authentic BBQ from the south, let me know and I'll hook you up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


You’ll be interested to hear that Mossy is growing her tail feathers back. You may recall the saga I wrote about a few weeks ago where the pack of dogs converged in my yard hemming in one of our chickens. One of the mongrels proceeded to rip all her feathers out.

I managed to save the bird from the jaws of death and she has been my friend ever since. Whenever I go outside, she will run up almost close enough for me to pet her. Size is still a factor and she’s still not brave enough to get within arms length.

I got home last night before dark and she came running up to greet me. I kicked over a flat rock at the edge of the driveway and she hustled up to see if she could score a rolly-polly or a red worm. It’s still a little cool here so the critters are still hibernating but when Mossy came up close, I could see that her feathers were growing out nicely. She should be back to normal by late spring and not look like she was with General Custer and his last stand.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cokes with Real Sugar

I had a Jones Berry Lemonade cola with dinner tonight. It's one of the few soft drinks being made today with real sugar. Most of the "sweet" drinks today are made with high-fructose corn syrup. There are mounting studies showing that high-fructose corn syrup is linked to the epidemic of obese people in the US.
I read somewhere that one of the hottest selling soft drinks now is Coke made with real sugar in Mexico and bootlegged back to the US. How funny is that?
I know for a fact that Co-Cola, RC, Dr. Pepper and Nehi drinks were better when we were kids and I have no doubt that it was because they still used real sugar and sold the drinks in thick glass bottles with caps that were driven on with some kind of machine. There were no twist off caps. You could twist until you sawed a gash in your hand and would be no closer to enjoying the soft drink. If you found yourself without a bottle opener, you'd have to knock the top off on a rock or gnaw it off with your bare teeth.
I loved those Co-Colas pulled out of one of the good old drink machines. There was one such machine in a store down in Old Dora. The old machine looked like a small deep freeze and when the compressor kicked on, the lights would dim along main street. When you pulled a Coke out of that puppy, it had a think slush of ice at the very top. I cannot count the times I've walked down there in the summertime, bought one of those drinks along with a pack of salted peanuts. I'd go out on the sidewalk and sit on the curb, pour in my bag of peanuts and watch that drink fizz. I'd slowly sip the drink, munch on the peanuts and watch the ebb and flow of small town traffic. When I was a kid, there were few past times that could match it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Engelbert Humperdinck

I was writing my weekly column today for the paper and I talked about the time when Jilda and I first started dating. Her mom and dad were devout Church of God members and they didn't allow any tomfoolery. We couldn't do a lot of the things our friends got to do because it was against the rules of her parents. Neither of us agreed with the rules, but we both respected them.
One thing that was allowed was we could ride around in my big red Chevy and listen to the eight track stereo.
Back then, the eight-track was state of the art in least around here. The old Chevy was big enough that with the right kind of speakers and the right song, it sounded like a cathedral inside.
I had all kinds of tapes. The Boxtops, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Jose Feliciano, Tom Jones and of course - Engelbert Humperdinck. Englebert had one heck of a voice and I played that tape until I wore it completely out. I had not thought of Englebert in many years until tonight.
I Googled him to get the correct spelling of his name and it appears that he's still at it. I'm betting he's had a hip replaced and used enough hair dye to float a battleship, but the old guys still looks good.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Take Care

This morning I woke up with a blinding headache and the room seem a little off center. When the alarm clock went off, is sounded as if it were amplified with some good quality rock and roll guitar speakers. The only thing that approaches a good headache in quality of pain and intensity, is a tooth ache. I've heard people say that and a good ear ache would be in the chase, but I've never had one quite that bad so I'll take the word of others. Suffice it to say, it got my attention early and remained front and center for much of the morning.
I took a couple of Advil's but I could almost hear the headache snort "you think that's gonna help?!!!" "To get rid of me you'll have to inject a vile of high quality morphine directly into your eye!!!!" It is quite fortunate that morphine is a controlled substance and unavailable to me because I would have made use of it.
The pain began to subside after breakfast and I was able to open my eyes long enough to send my boss an email. He told me to lay low, but once the magic of the coffee and breakfast took hold, the pain disappeared and I was able to work for most of the day.
I have probably said this in the past, but it's worth saying again - you don't appreciate what you have, until you no longer have it. Your health is one of your most precious assets. It's hard to appreciate your money, your home or your other assets when your health is gone.
Take care.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lost Time

I think the worst part of being sick is that feeling of losing time. I've spent most of the weekend on the couch and very little to show for it. We canceled all our plans because I didn't want to spread a cold to our friends. I did manage to complete my tax work which is a blessing, but I was counting on a good practice today. We are playing at Java and Jams on March 29th and we need string time. I guess we'll have to hit it hard next weekend.
I'm such a baby. I know that is the scheme of things, a cold is nothing. We have friends who have been really sick - life-threatening illnesses and the procedures they undergo are unthinkable.
Both Jilda and I are so very fortunate to be blessed with good health. I really should not whine about a little lost time.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Couch Time

We got up this morning to about a quarter inch of snow on the deck. The birds were in a frenzy. I counted eight male cardinals in our huckleberry bush. We threw out several scoops of bird seed which made even more birds come out to eat. The snow and the fact that I still feel like crap made it unwise to go to the last day of the writer's conference.
I spent a lot of time on the couch today. My nose is so stopped up, I don't think you could drive a ten-penny nail up there. I felt so rotten that I decided to do my taxes. Kill two birds with one stone.
We did go for a walk after lunch and the sky was so blue it almost hurt your eyes. The dogs love this weather. Warm sun, cool breeze. It was so nice to them they decided to head for the pond behind our barn and go for a swim. If I had about sixty pounds of warm fur on my body, I might have joined them.
It will be an early night tonight.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Niquil Night

It is a nasty night out tonight. I got back from the conference this evening and we ran down to a local restaurant to celebrate my nephew's 30's birthday. He lamented about getting old. I told him I have socks older than him. That put things in perspective for him.
I'm having sinus issues this evening so it looks like a NyQuil. night.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Mandolin

I bought Jilda a new mandolin today. It was an Ovation that has electronics built in. The older mandolin she has now sounds great but without electronics it is difficult to hear when we play.
It's a beautiful instrument and it sounds really good even when unplugged. If you know of someone who would like to buy a good mandolin, let me know. I'll sell it right.
Instrument should add interest to the sound of The Overalls when we perform. We have a gig at Java & Jams on March 29th. Java & Jams is downtown Birmingham and a cool little coffee shop with really good food. Hope you all can join us.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I got a job offer today and for that I am grateful. The mood was dampened because there are folks I have worked with for years who will not get an offer. Consolidation, shifting work and a declining economy all were at work here.
While I feel fortunate to have a job, my heart goes out to all of those people who will be without a job in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I have been sitting here tapping the keys for thirty minutes awaiting inspiration but it's been playing hide-and-go-seek. Everything I started typing sounded forced, so I erased the words with the backspace key. I glanced around my office wall to look at some of the mementos that I've collected through the years. I'm not sure what criteria I use in deciding on what makes it to the wall though I'm sure I have some.
I have a tambourine, and a back scratcher that is carved in the shaped of a nude woman standing with her arms over her head. From a distance it looks like a stick but once you get close you can tell what it is. I tied a gold ribbon around her waist in case she was modest.
I also have concert posters, a framed copy of the handwritten lyrics to Heartbreak Hotel. The song was written in 1955 by Hoyt Axton's mom. Hoyt was a musician, songwriter and movie star. A friend gave us the "Limited Edition" reproduction. I have a mandolin, a set of binoculars, a concertina, a compass and the first royalty check we ever received on one of our songs. It's in a frame and hanging next to a pair of 3-D glasses and a small replica of a Fender Stratocaster guitar.
When I look at the stuff, I don't always remember where it came from, but it gives me comfort knowing its there. These things are the souvenirs of our lives.

Monday, March 03, 2008


The atmosphere is boiling like a cauldron of soup and the high level winds sound like a raging river. It is 78 degrees on my side porch and 41 degrees in Dallas, Texas.
We've got yoga class tonight but I decided to write my entry this evening in case there is no power tonight when we get home.
I took a personal day today and spent the afternoon carving away at a huge buttermilk pine that died a few years ago. A jungle of hedge has grown up around the old tree and had to be cleared away before we can take the pine down. It was a beautiful day today but as I mentioned earlier, it was near 80 so I sweated buckets.....upon reflection, that's probably too much information but I'm too tired to hit the backspace.
There is something going on in our community that troubles me deeply. Almost every day the local paper has an obit of a young person who died in their residence. So many times these are codewords for overdose. A story in the same paper reported that several people died a few weeks ago as a result of an overdoes of prescription pain medicine . It said that one of the deceased had a prescription for 360 Loratabs. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but if it is, one has to ask "why on earth does a patient less than thirty years old need 360 Loratabs in one month?" Maybe there is a logical explanation, but it is very hard for me to fathom.
I don't know the answer and frankly I don't even know what questions to ask, but something needs to be done. There is a lot of wasted young lives at stake. Does this seem to be a problem in other parts of the country? Any of my blog friends from other parts of the country, please feel free to give me your thoughts.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I was drinking coffee this morning with my wife Jilda. She was looking at the mountain of catalogs we received the previous day and she spotted a pair of shoes that looked as if they were made for me. I glanced at the shoes and pointed out that I already have a black pair of shoes and a brown pair of shoes and I didn’t see the need for any more. She looked at me as if I had a hatchet buried to the hilt in my forehead.

My wife has this thing for shoes. I can tell when she is looking at shoes in a catalog, because her eyes glaze over and she gets this lustful smile on her face.

Not sure why women need so many shoes. The last time I opened her closet door, an avalanche of shoes spilled out - walking shoes, running shoes, pumps, flats, black, blue, red, green and brown. She’s got boots, sandals, flip-flops, and clogs.

Every time we go shopping, I look for bookstores, music stores, Radio Shack, or Home Depot but she heads directly for the shoe store. And if there is a half-price sale, instead of buying one pair and saving half price, she buys four pairs.

When I mentioned that I might write my column this week about shoes, she looked at me menacingly, and gave me that “fool with me mister and you’ll be eating sardines and baked beans out of a can.” She is a great cook, and I look forward to home-cooked meals each evening, so I may be dancing with the devil by writing these words.

Another interesting thing about my wife is all the stuff in her bathroom. Thank goodness, we have two bathrooms; otherwise, I’d be shaving in the kitchen sink.

There are containers of moisturizer, concealors, foundation, mascara, eye shadow, eye cream, lipstick, lip gloss, apricot scented shampoo, and jars of cotton balls and Q-Tips. What’s the deal with that?

I have learned through the years that my definition of five minutes and her definition of five minutes are different. That is a fact of life that I have come to understand and if there are any newlywed men out there, take it from me – they will be ready when they are ready, and not one minute sooner. You can get angry, upset, fume, or spontaneously combust in the living room and she will not be ready until she is ready. I suggest you do something constructive like rotating your tires or changing the oil in your car while you wait. You will arrive at your destination at exactly the same time, yet you will have a feeling of accomplishment.

In the early days, I used to huff and puff, get worked up into a lather whenever I thought she was taking too long to get ready. My blood pressure would peak at about 320/235 and if an unsuspecting misquote had the misfortune of biting me during these episodes, the pressure in my veins would have blasted him off me and splattered him on the wall like a bug on a windshield. I probably took ten years off my life and we still left when she was ready.

These days, I pick the battles I can win. I don’t question her obsession with shoes. If she wants to spend her entire check on shoes, that’s her business. I also learned another little helpful trick. I don’t start getting ready to go out until she says, “I’ll be ready in five minutes.” I can take a shower, brush my teeth, shave, shine my shoes and read the sports section of the paper before she emerges from her bathroom looking like a million bucks.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I got my truck in 2005 and it turned over 90,000 miles this week. It's just now getting broken in good. When I clean it up, it still looks almost new. I tend to put a lot of miles on my vehicles.
My last truck had 280,000 miles and was till running good. I simply got tired of looking at it. It was a Chevy S-10. The dealership didn't want to give me anything for it so my brother-in-law bought it and drives it almost every day. I haven't asked lately but I know it has well over 300,000 miles.
Jilda had two Ford Explorers that she drove the wheels off of and the car before that was a Pontiac Grand Am and it only had 200,000 miles.
Living in the country is very nice but one of the drawbacks is that a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy is twenty-two miles round trip. It's forty eight miles one way to where I work and I've been making that trip since 1983.
When the price of gas hovers around $3 a gallon, our monthly gas bill is close to the GNP of say - Jamaica.
I got a sale paper today from the local Chevy dealership and most of the vehicles advertised got less than 20 mpg. There is something wrong with this picture.
There is a reason that Toyota is now the second biggest auto seller. They make good cars that get decent gas mileage and the Americans are building Hummers. All the high mileage cars I've owned have been American made cars and they all looked good.
Come on guys (Ford, GM, Chrysler), buy a clue. Get back to basics and you'll get back on track.

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