Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I think the instructions for my telescope were originally written in Sanskrit and then translated into Mandarin Chinese before being translated into English by a dyslexic chimney sweep. I believe I would not have understood less had they left it in the original text.
That's kind of a pet peeve with me. I'm technical by nature and my elevator has a full load on most days, but some instructions are so poorly written that it would be a challenge for the inventor to follow them. To the person writing the instructions, I'm sure they make perfect sense but to anyone else, they are pure gibberish.
I have been slammin' and jammin' at work. My new boss has the audacity to expect me to WORK!
Actually I enjoy staying busy. It makes the days fly by. The nature of the work is good too because we are helping lay the groundwork for how the computers will be maintained once the transition is complete.
I think I'm going to have another go, at trying to get this telescope set up. Maybe the instructions were originally written in Arabic and if I read them backwards, it might make more sense. More later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Retirement Gift

I was fortunate enough to retire from EDS when I transitioned to my new job. My retirement gift came today. Some of the folks that retired got pendants, some got watches and others got golf clubs. I got a Mead DS-2000 Telescope. I've wanted a good telescope for years but could not come off the hip with the money to get one.
It's computer operated and is supposed to be able to locate and track stars. Putting it together was almost like assembling a Toyota but I think I've got it put together. Now comes the daunting task of trying to figure out how it works. I'm supposed to be able to attach a camera to it but I'll have to master the art of locating stuff.
Off to see the stars.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No Egg-Zageration

OK, I know you're going to think I'm making this up, but I promise, it's true. I collect our two eggs from Flossy and Mossy each day. As everyone knows, chickens only lay one egg a day. Sometimes the one egg might be double yoked, but one egg is pretty much the limit.
Yesterday when I went out to collect them, I found two eggs in Mossy's nest. One was regular sized but didn't seem to weigh enough. A second egg weighed more, but it was much smaller.
I looked at the eggs for a while and decided to see what was inside the bigger, lighter egg. When I tapped it on the fence, it exploded.....well, actually, it popped very loudly is a better discription. There was very little egg-ish stuff inside. I've been around chickens all my life but I've never seen this before. The smaller egg had the right contents.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Canon in D

The first time I ever heard Canon in D was the summer of 1975 (I think). Jilda and I headed out on our first real vacation to visit my Army buddy Doug McGraw who lived in Annandale, Virginia just outside of Washington DC.
It was the first time in Virginia and Washington D.C. for both of us and we were blown away by the beauty of that place. We toured the National Museum, all the monuments and spent a little time in the Smithsonian. We could have spent weeks there and not seen it all. But at the National Air and Space Museum they showed the movie "To Fly" which was the first movie ever filmed in the Imax format. The movie started out from the perspective of someone in a hot air balloon. When the balloon flew out over a cliff, it literally took my breath away.
During the course of that movie, I heard Canon in D and I thought that it was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard. As the movie ended, I didn't think to look at the credits to catch the name of the song so I left without knowing.
Some time later we were at a wedding and they played Canon. After the ceremony, I approached the pianist and learned the name of the song. I never tire of hearing this song.
Our young friend Will Justice is a piano player that is on the road to greatness. He sent me a link to a uTube video he did of himself practicing Canon. He played the song on Saturday night at a wedding. Click on the link below to see Will's performance.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Alumni Reunion

We had our all class reunion tonight for Dora High School. I saw a bunch of my old friends which is always a delight.
One of my neighbors was a member of the Dora High School Class of 1942. Buel Owens was there with his wife Carolyn who was from the Class of 43. They still look great! I told my wife, "I hope I look as good when I reach their age." She said "you don't look that good now." Ouch.
I think the reunion was a success.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Great Day

I took a vacation day today and it as been beautiful all day. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds with a breeze out of the west. I had to help move tables and chairs for our "all class " alumni reunion at the school. I've done this for years but I'm going to let someone else do it next year. I've had about as much fun with that project as I can stand. I think it's time to let someone else have some fun with it.
When I got home I got on the riding lawnmower and cut the field and the yard around the barn. I then took the mower down the walking path to keep it clear. I felt like Forrest Gump. My mind was blank and I was totally into the moment...blissed out. When I got through this evening, I felt taller.
We are going to meet our friends Brenda and Danny down at the Green Top and have some BBQ. It's been a while and I think a BBQ fix would be the perfect crowning touch to a great day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I feel like I have spring fever. You remember those last few days of school when the drone of the teacher's voice puts you totally asleep, and you have to struggle to keep your eyes open. You glance out the window and see the warm sunshine, and the world is turning a brilliant shade of green. The smell of fresh cut grass wafts through the window. You almost wish you were in prison so you could be outside playing basketball.....that's the way I feel right now.
Of course, I could go outside and play basket ball, but this entry will not write itself. For the most part, this column is more important than 90% of the stuff I learned during those last few weeks of each school year. The teachers have spring fever too, you can see it in their eyes. It doesn't take a psychiatrist to read their minds......"in a few weeks, I'll be rid of these brain-dead slugs and I can summer on the beach."
Thankfully, all the kids and all the teachers will be free soon and they can spend some quality time doing those things that bring them joy. Hopefully they will recharge their batteries and head back in the fall with a new attitude.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Exhibit

I feel a little bit like a zoo exhibit this evening. Since the weather has gotten warm here, we've moved all our plants out of the great room and on to the deck. We now have a lemon, a grapefruit, an orange, a mango, and a pineapple plant as well as other fruit baring trees in our deck orchard.
I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and sit out on the deck as I wrote this evening. When I looked around a few minutes searching for inspiration, I noticed a grass-green chameleon lounging on an avocado leaf watching me intently. I think he's looking for a girlfriend because he puffed his throat out and it looks like a chartreuse bubble on his neck. When I stood to get the camera, he vanished somewhere in the green plant.
I sat back down and began to write. A while later I glanced up, and sitting on a low limb in the sweet gum tree was a papa bluebird. He too was eying me curiously as if he had to give a report later to his bluebird teacher. A few feet below him, his girlfriend was sitting in a bluebird house on three pale blue speckled eggs. In a few weeks, he'll be too busy trying to keep three hungry mouths fed, to look at anything.
I'm sure I had to notice this stuff when I was younger, but I must have been too full of myself to pay much attention. These days, it's these moments that make life more enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pretty Weather

Last night we raised the bedroom windows and let a pleasant breeze out of the northwest rustle the curtains. Off in the distance you could hear the a Whip-o-Will hammering out his nighttime song. Whip-O-WILL, Whip-O-WILL, Whip-O-WILL. I heard our neighbor's bellowing cows down behind the barn, and I knew they had broken free again and were wandering aimlessly through the hills and hollows. The neighbor and his will will come up in the yard in a day or two and say "them dang cows got out again....can we go down behind your barn and see if we can round 'me up?"
Today the sun came up and there was not a cloud in the sky. Shortly afternoon, I stepped outside for a weather check. I sat down on the concrete steps and looked off toward the south. The trees, shrubs and flowers were out in full force and the colors seemed electric. The sun warmed my face and it felt intoxicating.
Soon it will be summer and the only reason you'd sit out on the concrete steps is to perhaps toast your bread for lunch - but for now, it's great.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I've gotten a lot of calls and emails on my column in the Mountain Eagle on Sunday. It's a hybrid of an entry I made on the blog last year but I think I'll post it here for my friends that don't live around here.

Good friends are hard to find
Published April 20, 2008 11:13 PM CDT

I read a story a few years ago in the AARP newsletter about a man in New Orleans in the days following Katrina. Sixty-nine year old Thomas Reed lived alone with his small dachshund Weezie. They weathered the vicious storm and when the levee broke, they moved from floor to floor upwards until they settled in the attic and on the roof where they stayed for five days surviving off Vienna sausages and bags of snack food.

According to the AARP Bulletin, his stay could have been much shorter as a rescue team came to take him to safety on the second day but they refused to take his dog, and Mr. Reed would not leave Weezie behind. "This little dog is my family;" he pleaded "there is no way I could leave her."

When I read these words, I got a lump in my throat that made breathing difficult.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident and there were many who were injured, and had to leave their beloved pets to fend for themselves. Many, many of these pets did not make it out alive.

I could not help but think - what if this had happened to Jilda and me. I can promise you this - if we were stuck on a roof with rising water and rescuers said, "OK lady, you can bring the dogs or your husband" – she would give me a peck on the cheek and say "good luck honey. I'll send the boat back for you."

Both Jilda and I have been blessed with many friends – some animal, some people and we have lost our share of both. It’s not easy losing either.

This week, we lost one of our oldest and dearest friends. Joel Robinson, as many of you well know, was a local attorney in Jasper. We have known Joel and his family for many years. They started coming to our Christmas parties in the mid 1980s. He was a storyteller extraordinaire and a delightful guest.

He reminded me of Atticus Finch, the attorney in the book and movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He was thoughtful, engaging and charming. He was quick to praise and slow to judge. Even when his health began to fail, his face would always light up whenever he saw us. I was saddened beyond words when I received the call that he had died.

Good friends are the ones you can turn to when nothing seems to be working in your life; who will lend an ear and listen without judgment.

After hearing they sometimes may offer meaningful advice, call in reinforcements to help solve your problem, or give you a swift kick in the pants. Many times good friends are simply there for you and knowing that lightens your load.

I am glad that Mr. Reed stayed by his friend Weezie, and that their story had a happy ending. The AARP article said that as a result of stories like these, the federal government changed its policy on the handling of pets during emergency situations. I believe this is a good thing because the value of a true friend, whether they are animal or human, is beyond measure.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Barn Dances

I don't think you could draw up a better day than today. It was a little cool this morning, but as the sun rose and things warmed up a bit, it turned into a perfect day. Just before lunch we swung down and picked up Jilda's sister and her daughter and headed out to Tanneyhill Trade Day. We got there around two and it was swarming with people. Jilda's older brother and his wife have a booth down there where they sell hand made furniture and old pieces of glass.
Their booth is in a shady spot under some huge oak, pine and hickory trees. Just behind their booth is a small creek that flowed gently through the park. The path it carved out through the years was a crooked as an old chicken snake.
Our buddy Steve met us down there and we sat around for a while and played music. Traffic in the booth picked up a little as people moved a little closer to hear. It felt really good out there.
Jilda's grandparents were pickers and they told her stories about playing music at barn dances. They would hitch up their mules and haul a wagon full of kinfolk to dances all over North Alabama.
I've thought about having barn dances here on the farm. Jilda is not excited about the idea. She is concerned about liability issues which probably should be a concern, but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This was my Saturday to sit with my mom. She loves the game show network and apparently, drug companies are hip to that fact that a lot of older folk like that channel, because about half the ad are for drugs. The drugs sound like they can cure anything but when you listen to the disclaimers, they scare the crap out of you.
I've heard some side effect included tuberculosis, cancer, strokes, heart failure, to name but a few. The side effects are much worse than the original disease.
I'm not sure about you, but I have an issue with drug companies spending billions of dollars on advertising when there are Americans that each month have to decided whether they pay the rent or buy the drugs that are keeping them alive.
Healthcare is a hot button for most people. I've debated the topic with some younger people with jobs and good insurance for the most part, they don't want the government involved in healthcare.
I've been blessed in that I've had a really good job for over 30 years with decent insurance but there a many people have lost their jobs. They are too young to get on Medicare or other government sponsored programs. And I had a good friend who died much too young because of the lack of insurance. He lost his job but he was making a good deal of money as a contractor. When he tried to buy insurance, he learned that because he had a pre-existing condition with his heart, he could not get insurance.
I don't have the answers, but I can believe that healthcare is a ticking bomb that will be disasterous for our country unless our legislators get together and come up with a plan that works.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We buried our old friend Joel today. I mentioned earlier the family had asked us to sing. I loved the songs they asked us to do, but we had never done them. I was quite nervous which rarely happens these days. I felt like I could hit the notes, but when you're close to the one who died, it makes it very difficult not to get choked up.
Jilda and I practiced for hours last night and felt comfortable singing the songs in our living room, but I can promise you it's harder at the funeral. I spent time today getting centered and when I was centered, I knew I could sing. But when we walked in, I saw a plain wooded coffin built by Joel's son John. It was elegant in its simplicity. Joel was a successful lawyer that came from a very poor family. He did well in life but he never forgot his roots - being buried in a plain pine box was a testament to that fact.
As the funeral got started, I laughed and cried at the stories told about our friend. When it came time for us to sing, we stood up and I started softly strumming. I looked at Joel's wife and and his children and the sadness in their faces almost started the tears, but I thought of Joel and his love of folk music and the way his face lite up whenever we got together and played for him. I got my second wind and we did the songs flawlessly.
One of the preachers repeated a story that Joel loved to tell. He said a family was in deep financial trouble. The husband had lost his job and the wife had been ill and the family was going hungry. He said the local preacher was telling a group of deacons about the family's plight and suggested that they pray for the family. One deacon immediately stood up and walked out of the church. The preacher called after the deacon - "do you not want to pray for the family?" The deacon replied "Pray? Hell, I'm going to buy them some groceries."
I'm going to miss our friend Joel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


When I was first learning how to drive, my dad would let me drive along in the evenings from our house down the red-rock road towards the car-wash. The car wash wasn't really a car wash like the ones today, but a wide spot in Horse Creek that had a rocky bottom and was just deep enough to scoop a bucket of clean water to rinse a soapy car.
It wasn't risky because cars rarely used the old road and when you did pass a vehicle, it was usually creeping along because anything faster you'd lost a tire. The red-rock could be sharp as a razor if you hit them just right.
So I'd make several trips back and forth from our house down to the car-wash. Many evenings I passed an old guy who was a neighbor walking the old road. I called him an old man, but in retrospect, he was probably younger than I am now. But I would slow down as I passed and ask if he wanted a ride. He always refused saying I'm just enjoy Mother Nature. Having wheels, I didn't get it. I had spent the previous thirteen years walking and I would not have walked to the outhouse if I could have gotten the car around in our back yard and driven it the few hundred feet.
These days, I get it. I spend a great deal of time driving to and from work and when I get home, I enjoy a nice long walk. This evening as I made my way down our walking path behind the barn down the the rock overlooking the pond, I heard an Owl, a Whip-o-Will, a young fox barking and saw the moon up in the eastern sky. It's not full yet, but it's getting there and it was beautiful in a sky quickly fading to dusk.
I smiled to myself as I thought about my old neighbor realizing that he was right on the money. There's not much better that a long walk and a chance to admire Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sad Chore

I was fighting fires all day today. One conference call after another. The second line on my desk rang and I saw it was Jilda so I made a mental note to call here when the conference call ended. A few minutes later, the line rang again which is really unusual so I muted the conference call and pulled out my cell to ring her back.
I knew the moment she answered the phone that something was wrong. "Joel died," she said. I knew Joel had been ill but I struggled with the news. Joel Robinson is one of our oldest and dearest friends.
Joel was a very successful attorney but he never forgot his roots. He was raised within a stone's throw of the place I was born and each time we got together we talked about Sloss Hollow.
He reminded me of Atticus Finch, the fictional attorney from "To Kill a Mockingbird". Joel was quick to praise and slow to criticize. We used to go to a Sunday School class he taught at the local Methodist Church and his understanding of the scriptures was remarkable. He could not only quote chapter and verse, but he could give you historical details that put the stories in context.
Jilda and I have had Christmas parties ever since we moved in our house in 1984. Joel and his wife Ann were there religiously.
When his health began to fail a few years ago they weren't able to come and though the parties continued to be fun, I felt there was something missing.
Before Joel passed away, he told his wife that he wanted Jilda and I to sing at his funeral. I am honored and humbled by his request. Of all the great singers and musicians he could have asked - and who would have proudly honored his request, he asked us. It will be a challenge to get through the songs he asked for, but I can promise you this - we will do our very best to make him proud.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Finding Artists

I love it when I stumble on new artists. In days past the only way you knew about a new group or artist was reading about them in Rolling Stone, by word of mouth, or by spending hours at a record shop listening. I enjoyed all these activities but these days a stunning collection of music is just a few clicks away.
We got a Taxi listing a few days ago and they wanted music in the vein of Teddy Thompson. I had never heard of Teddy so I immediately got on iTunes and found the song "Separate Ways" and listened to the clip. He is a soulful singer songwriter and I could tell from twenty seconds of audio that I was going to like this guy. I downloaded the song and I've listened to it a dozen times already. I am going to download his entire CD.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Big Fish

My niece Danielle's son Zach caught a big ol' bass yesterday. He went with his dad, David Weldon down Leavellwood Fishing and Hunting Lodge and caught this 6 pound bass on a silver pearl fluke! I'm guessing that bass almost pull Zach into the water. If a human had the (proportional) strength of a six pound bass, he would be able to bench press a 1957 Buick Roadmaster.
I love to fish.....well more specifically, I love the water. I don't really have to catch a fish. That is reflected in the fact that I haven't caught that many fish in my life. But I have caught a few. I caught a three pound bass one time and I felt like I was trying to land Moby Dick. My arm was sore when I got that fish in the boat.
The Overalls do a song in their repertoire and the line goes:
The important part of fishing is not the fish but the fishing,

This song nails it. It's not about the destination but the journey. Give me gently flowing water, dragon flies, water birds, the smell off water Lillie's, and a gently rocking boat and I'm a happy man.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wacky Weather

We are having some wacky weather here in Empire. Only a few days ago it was warm enough to go swimming. The afternoon sun even coaxed the persimmon tree to put on leaves, but tonight the weatherman is forecasting snow flurries here. I can't ever remember it snowing this late.
When I went down the fetch the Sunday paper this morning, I heard a faint whimper. I thought at first it was Ol' Buddy, but I saw him on the hill rolling in the straw. When I looked in the woods I saw three puppies huddled up trying to stay warm. They were shivering so I walked over and picked two of them up. One of the puppies ran away barking and snarling. He weight about a pound so I cornered him and picked him up too. One he realized I wasn't a foe, he snuggled in with the other two.
I walked in the living room and stood there at the end of the couch. Jilda was reading something and didn't look up at first but she sensed that something was up. When she looked over and saw the pups, she went into that aaawwwww aren't they cute. She snagged one from me for herself.
We fed them and put a towel down in the kitchen for them to lay on until we got a game plan together.
When the sun got warm we started out for a walk and we had planned to leave the pups in the fence, but they ran as fast as their little legs would carry them and they made every step we made. They were fun to watch but since we are dog poor, I knew they couldn't take too many walks with them.
I figured they belonged to one of the neighbors and as I began to walk down the road, I asked the kid across the road if the puppies were his. He was out shooting hoops and walked over to see. "No but I think they belong to the guy on the hill," pointing to my friend Terry Joe's house. As I walked up the hill, he saw me coming and walked out to meet me.
He was quick to say that I could have the puppies if I wanted them. Apparently he has two mama dogs right now with a total of eighteen puppies. I told him as much as I'd like one, that we had too many dogs. He then scooped the pups up and headed back home.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nice Day

We went out this evening to watch our niece play softball. The wind was blowing steady out of the west strong enough to keep the flag whipping at the the city ball field. The temperature was in the 50's but the wind made if feel much colder. I was thankful I took a jacket.
Today was a beautiful day. I got out on the newly repaired lawnmower and cut the back yard and the field between the house and the barn. I then fired up the old TroyBilt tiller and broke up our garden.
This is what my mother-in-law would call Blackberry Winter - that cold snap that always seems to follow spring, and the blooming of my apple trees. The weatherman says we will have frost the next few nights. I'm hoping it is a light frost and not a hard freeze. Last year we didn't get the first apple off our trees because the weather turned off brutally cold after the blossoms had set.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have a repeat this year.
I've run out of steam so I'm signing off for now. Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I added some things to my safety deposit box the other day and shoved way in back of the box was a small bag. It was as if I were seeing it for the first time thought I know I must have put it there. When I opened it up, I realized that it contained all my old coins that I collected from my childhood. Silver Dollars, Mercury Head Silver Dimes, Wheat Pennies and Buffalo Nickels. Coins that were common as cuss words when I was ten years old now are fairly rare.
A few weeks ago in a handful of change, I got a Mercury Dime. I couldn't believe the cashier didn't notice it because the color was striking.
The principal of Dora Elementary school when I attended there was an avid coin collector. He managed the little concession stand that sold us Mary Janes, snowballs, and Nehi Peach drinks. Each day during lunch you could find him sitting at his desk pouring over the coins. When he found one that he needed for his collection, he would set it aside. When he finished up, he'd count out the coins he wanted and settle up with coins from his own pocket.
I was on an errand to his office one day to deliver something from my teacher and he saw me admiring the book of coins on his desk. He took a few minutes and flipped through some pages pointing out coins of particular interest. I was fascinated.
Several years later when he passed away, I wondered what happened to his beloved coin collections. I hope his kids enjoyed them enough to hold on but it's hard to say.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Could Kick Myself

The sun had slipped behind the clouds when I walked this evening after work, so I didn't take the camera. As is often the case, that was a mistake. As I walked down to the barn, I heard a ruckus in the hollow and when I got to where I could see, there were three turkeys in a hickory tree. One tom and two hens. When they are in trees you don't usually get the full color of these birds but they were magnificent just the same.
A little further down, I came across two pink dogwoods that somehow survived the timber slaughter a few years ago. Then when I got to the rock overlooking the pond, there I found a patch of Wild Iris's the color of a grape Nehi. I could kick myself for not taking the camera.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Fred

Today was our buddy Fred's birthday. He was 49 today. His family is scattered and he didn't have anything planned so Jilda invited him over for her world famous Spaghetti (my words, not hers). Steve, our "Overall" buddy came over too. so we celebrated with Fred. For desert we had brownies with Briar's Chocolate Crackle ice cream. Yum!
Fred don't talk much, but from what we have gleaned, he's packed a lot of living in his 49 years. He talked a little about what brought him to Alabama from West Virginia. His first gig back in 1983 here went south and he had to scrape together enough money to get a bus ticket back home.
I'm not sure what brought Fred back to Alabama. He is a counselor where Jilda works and apparently he is really good at his job. It's funny how paths cross. Fred showed up at a time in our lives where the things he knows and loves (music/sound/performing) dovetails nicely with the things we know and love. As I said, I'm not sure brought him back here, but I'm glad he's here.
Happy Birthday to Fred.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Long Distance Song Writing

We've been doing some long distance songwriting lately. Our friends Kaye and Jamie live in Florida and he is an awesome keyboard player and composer. The last time we visited with him, I played him an instrumental that Jilda and I were working on called Insomnia. Jamie liked the groove and said "we should work on this." We didn't have much time that evening, but last week he dropped me an email asking if I was still interested in collaborating. I said I was, so I sent him a rough mp3 of the song that was recorded on my little recorder. It's a really good melody, but it needed work. A few days later he sent me a draft of the drums, bass and keyboards. It blew me away. I'm now working on the guitar parts. I can't wait to get the finished product.
What makes this all possible is the wonder of modern day technology. We both have PC's with Pro Tools software and fast Internet connections. Jamie has an account with This is an online storage website. For a small monthly fee, you can upload huge files. Pro Tools files with all the effects, and instrumentation can easily be 60 or 80 megabyte files. He uploaded the files to, and I download them to my computer and add my parts. When I'm through, I upload the files back up and he downloads them to his computer to do the final mix.
This kind of work, in the old days, would have taken weeks. It can now be done easily in a matter of hours. I love America.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Old Lizzy

We had an old 46 model Chevy truck when I was a kid. My dad got it in some kind of three-way trade that involved a rusty shotgun, home-brew, and some farm animals. That must have been around 1961. You couldn't really tell the true color of the old truck because it had obviously been painted with a brush a couple times and the paint had peeled in some places more than others and with the varying shades of rust, blue, and deep reds, it looked somewhat like a stained glass window.
It had a stick shift in the floor and the tires stayed flat most of the time only getting air when we had an errand to run that required us to haul something. The battery was always dead so Dad would pull the old Plymouth around in front of the junker, slap on some jumper cables, pour a little gas in the carburetor and fire that puppy up. It had a hole in the muffler as big as a football which made the old clunker as loud as a NASCAR race. The only communication that took place in the cab while the motor was running was at maximum volume. It was not uncommon to be a little hoarse when the day was done. I think that's one reason I have problems with my hearing today. When to old gal got underway, blue-gray smoke poured out the back until she warmed up, but all and all, the old truck was very dependable.
When we reached our destination for the errand we either had to leave it running or park it on a hill so that we could get a good rolling start. I remember many times, when we got ready to go, Dad would say OK Bocephus, let's push. I always wondered why he called me that, but later in life I learned that Hank Williams Sr. used to call Jr. Bocephus. My Dad loved Hank so I guess that's how I got the nickname. But I'd get on the passenger side and push like crazy on the back fender. When we'd get up enough speed he'd say "jump in!" I'd run around the side of the truck and jump up on the running board before getting inside and slamming the door. Dad would pop the clutch and Lizzy would spring to life and we'd putter on home. The windshield would tilt out from the bottom to let in a cool breeze as you cruised down the road. At that point in my young life, I didn't think it got any better than that.
I used to sit in that truck for hours on warm Saturday afternoons, shifting gears and driving old Lizzy all over the planet. I can still close my eyes and remember the smell of old leather, aging metal, and burnt motor oil. It's where I worked out the hand/foot finesse required to drive an ancient four on the floor.
I lifted the photo above from Pastor Rick. I hope he doesn't mind. Thanks for the memories Pastor Rick.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mad Chickens

Our chickens disappeared a few weeks ago during a tornadic episode. I wasn't sure if they'd been blown to Nashville, or decided to head south to get out of harm's way. Several days went by and then out of nowhere, Flossy showed up looking for food. I had bought a bag of cracked corn before they skied out and had not put out a kernel. When I saw Flossy pecking the ground furiously, I grabbed a scoop full and tossed it in her direction. She pecked till her neck was sore. I went in to answer the phone and when I came back out she was gone again.
The next day Mossy showed up in the same manner. Jilda fed her as well and she too disappeared. A few days later they both appeared and I knew what was going on. They were nesting, which was a waste of time for them because there not a rooster anywhere around.
Last Saturday they both appeared again and this time we kept watch and followed them both back to their nests. I really didn't know how to handle the situation. I didn't think there was any harm in them sitting but I knew that it would be for nothing. It started getting longer in between times when they would leave the nests and feed and I was afraid they'd starve trying to hatch chicks they would never hatch.
This morning I made the decision to intervene. Jilda and I went down to were Flossy was sitting and I picked her up. She promptly turned into a little chainsaw. She pecked, squawked and flapped hysterically. When I was undeterred, she went after Jilda. Jilda immediately jumped back doing a little squealing herself. She also did some fancy maneuvering to escape Flossy who was one angry bird. I managed to get the eggs from the nest and dispose of them. I then did the same thing at the other nest. She flogged me unmercifully.
Both chickens have finally settled down and they are roosting out front in the huckleberry bush which is their regular place. I probably need to make sure I keep an eye on them if I ever lay out in the sun in the back yard because I have no doubt that either of them would peck my eyes out and eat them like grapes.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Go For a Ride

I sat with my mom this evening to give my older sister a break. My younger sister came by before dark and brought her step grandson by to see mother. I think that makes him my great step nephew? Anyhow, he's about six and he asked me to go outside to watch him ride the bicycle. I was tired of watching the Braves spank the Mets so I walked outside and sat on the retaining wall next to my sister's driveway. The sky was gray as chimney smoke but the drizzling rain and mist had all but stopped.
Jacob got the pedals aligned just right and pushed off and started riding in circles around the driveway - a big smile on his face as the wind blew across his face. Watching him put a smile on my face because I could almost feel the sense of freedom he felt. After learning to walk, you're pretty much land locked until you learn to ride a bicycle.
I learned to ride on my sister's bike. Fortunately it was a girls bike. When I was learning to ride, they didn't make little bicycles, so any miscues were brutal on young boys. Anyhow, my older sister was very patient. She would hold the bike up and let me get situated on the seat and then she began to push until I found my balance. I wrecked a few times, but I got the hang of it fairly quick. I must have put a million miles on her bicycle riding up and down the driveway of the house where we lived on #10 Hill.
A few years later when I was about ten, I got a Huffy bicycle for Christmas. It was fire engine red with a compartment that fit inside the bars. It looked like a really thin gas tank. That bicycle gave me my first taste of freedom.
My friends and I always roamed all around where we live there is Sloss Hollow, but the bicycle gave us range. We could go fishing down at the backwater which is a huge natural lake that formed off the Warrior River. We could go up to fire-tower hill (we called it fire-tire hill). We could ride up to the highway and watch all the cars and trucks on their way from Memphis to Birmingham.
I learned to ride the bike without my hands on the handlebars....just gliding along with the wind in my face. I guess what made it so special was that when I rode that bike, I was in the "now". I wasn't worried about what might happen or what had happened, I was there cruising down the road on my bike.
I promised myself on my way home tonight, that I would go to the barn tomorrow, fetch my bicycle, and air up those tires and go for a ride.

Friday, April 04, 2008

That's Odd

On the way into work this morning I saw an old bus sitting by a house that I pass every day. I'm not sure why I never noticed but the hood was up and a huge hedge bush growing out of the engine compartment. I found that odd.
And on the way home this evening, I was dodging thunderstorms until I got near the house. As I approached the stop sign on the Coon Creek Road, I happened to look to the left and there beside the road was a pickup truck with two roosters standing on the roof. Both things I noticed are not that far fetched, but neither are something you see every day.
There is a lot that goes one each moment but our minds spend all the available cycles thinking about the future, about the past, about things that might happen or things you wish would happen. When you spend all your time in the future or the past, you miss some remarkable things that are going on right now.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Chasing the Sun

I chased the setting sun this evening on the way home. I had to stop off at my friend Fred's house for a lesson on how to chart music....I know, as long as I've been playing, I should know how but I didn't until today.
After I left his house, I drove the Mount Olive Road home. It's a shady road with big Oak trees hanging out over the road in places making a green tunnel. Just before I got to Partridge Cross Roads, I saw the beginnings of an orange sky which turned the grayish clouds a color somewhere between mauve and purple. The sun slipped behind a cloud and soon I was into the trees again. When I got closer to home, I caught a glimpse of the sun through the trees. I drove a little faster trying to reach a clearing and an unobstructed view. But I reached the clearing just as the sun dipped below a low-hanging cloud bank just above the western horizon.
I would love to have gotten a good photo to share, but the chasing and anticipation was fun. It made the last leg of my trip home zip by.
Maybe I'll have another chance tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Day On the New Job

Today was the first day on my new job. All that whining, wringing of hands gnashing of teeth, and fretting was all for naught. Today went off without a hitch. We had new hire orientation and I've got a ton of stuff to do in the next few days to get all my benefits and other stuff worked out, but I came in as a new hire with 31 years service.
One of the biggest pains is that I had to get a new laptop. Just when I got the other one configured like I like it, I get a new one and have to start over I go whining again. Actually, I feel fortunate that things worked out so well for me and many of my friends. There were some that didn't fare so well and we said our goodbye's this week. Some of them already have new opportunities but others are still looking. My heart goes out to them.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


We are so tickled today. We have been writing and submitting songs to Taxi for placement in music and movies for almost a year now. The screeners at Taxi know their clients well, so they are really particular in screening submissions before forwarding them to the decision-makers looking for music for movies.
We were getting discouraged because we haven't had any success. Our critiques gave us some things to do to polish up on some songs and for the most part, we've taken their advice but no forwards...until today.
We wrote a Christmas song a few years ago with our friend Tracy Reynolds and we had never pitched the song until this year. There was a listing for a Christmas song to be used in a movie that's being currently being filmed. We recorded the song last weekend and pitched it.
When Jilda got home today and checked the status, it said the song was forwarded.
There are still a lot of hoops you have to jump through, but it's now on it's way.
Keep your fingers crossed.

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