Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I'm at an amazing picking party tonight. My good friend Lamar Morris is here at Wes and Deidra's house in Opp, Alabama.
He is the best guitar player I have ever met. He can sure dress up a song. Jilda and I did some of our original songs and he played lead behind us. In a crowded room, you could hear a pin drop.
I can't think of a better way to bring in the New Year, than with music.
I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Todo Lists

I've spent this week handling a lot of little things that have been nagging at me for some time. Jilda's car needed some maintenance, our pooch Astro needed to see a vet, one of the showers needed some new caulk, and the laying boxes for the hens needed new straw. 
You get so caught up in the daily routine that when something breaks, or needs attention, you put it on your todo list. The tasks are important, but not urgent so you let them slide.
Because they are important, they don't just hang around on your list, they lurk in the back of your brain and come to mind when you're trying to sleep.
Before long, you have a long list of stuff to do and you won't get a decent night's sleep until you handle the stuff on the list.
During my time off this week, I have taken care of every important thing on my list so tonight, I expect to sleep like a baby.
The moon is 99 % full today so tomorrow night, will not only be the first blue moon on New Year's Eve since 1990, but we will also have a partial lunar eclipse. How cool is that? .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fishing for new ways to meet old goals

I hate anchovies. I just wanted to get that out in the open so there is no confusion. So why on earth would I be eating those disgusting little aphids or whatever genus they sprang from?

I guess I should explain, so let me start from the beginning.  I am a hopeless self-help addict. I’ve read literally thousands of self-help books, articles, Web sites and other resources. All this reading/research was geared toward helping me to work smarter, get healthier and become a better guitar player. I worked on becoming a better writer, better husband, son and earthling.

Some books are far superior to others, but I normally find a nugget of wisdom in almost every thing I read. In 2007, I read a book on how to set goals successfully and how to attain them. That caught my eye, because I’ve written goals down in my journal for years only to read through them on Dec. 31 the following year and kick myself for missing too many important goals.

The book I read suggested that you write down a goal that you would like to achieve and add a penalty for not achieving the goal.

That sounded like a great idea for 2008. I’ve wanted to lose 20 pounds forever, so I promised myself on New Years Eve 2007, that if I didn’t lose 20 pounds in 2008 that I would eat an anchovy.

I know some of you may say, well what kind of penalty is eating an anchovy? Well as mentioned right off the bat, I HATE ANCHOVIES. I’d rather donate a kidney than eat an anchovy.

I dug the hole a little deeper when I shared the hair-brained goal setting technique with Jilda. She was all ears and made a mental note to remind me in case my memory got a little fuzzier toward the end of the year.

I checked a few diet books out of the library in January and upped my exercise the first few months of the year and even went so far as to physically get up and change the channel on the TV instead of using the remote control. I was sure that would be just the ticket.

But in the words of Bob Dylan, “Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast,” so by the beginning of football season, I was beginning to fret when I stepped on the scales and they seemed to be going in the wrong direction.

Jilda asked me if I preferred the extra fuzzy anchovies or the regular kind. My stomach lurched involuntarily. I struggled through the holidays and gained four pounds, but the bottom line is, I didn’t lose any weight. As a result, I found myself sitting at my table on New Years Eve staring at an unopened tin of disgusting little hairy fish.

I thought about wimping out, but I knew that path would be rocky because I knew my wife would not have forgotten. So at the stroke of midnight, I popped the top on the tin and wolfed down a few. I can promise you, it was not a high point in my life.

So this year, I ditched the penalty clause in pursuit of my goals, and simply put more focus on the ones that were truly important. I pushed away from the table, drank more water, stuck to an exercise plan and as a result, I lost my 20 pounds.

I hope 2010 is the year you all reach your goals.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Stores

I'm writing this afternoon from Books-a-Million. I have no idea why, but I feel smarter when ever I'm in book stores. Perhaps it's the proximity to great works of fiction, poetry, history and periodicals. Maybe it's because that people who frequent book stores (I have no way of proving this) are smarter. Maybe it's the coffee buzz I always get when I visit my local book store.
As I pause and look around, there are literally hundreds of fascinating people staring at me from the covers of books.  Each book represents thousands of hours of work. Coming up with the topic, writing the words, editing, and laying out the books takes a great deal of time. That doesn't even take into account printing, shipping, and marketing the books. It's a huge undertaking.
I've started working on my next book. In fact, I've started several times. There are about a dozen stories careening around in my skull vying for position to become the next project.
The challenging now is deciding on the path forward. Which idea is right for this project?
I have plenty of columns for a second Book of Columns, but I really want the next project to be something that comes as a total surprise to my readers.
I'm off this week so it is my intention to make that decision and begin the mind mapping process. 
I've got to wrap up now, I'm having Jilda's Volvo serviced, so I had to take her to work this afternoon. It's a short day for her and I had a few errands so that's why I'm writing in the book store.
Have a great week.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Head Start on 2010

My cousin and good friend Janet Odom sent me this and I thought I'd share it with you.
After serious & cautious consideration.... your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2009!

It was a very hard decision to make... So try not to screw it up!!!
My Wish for You in 2010
May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts. 
May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for £50 notes. 
May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy
May the problems you had, forget your home address! 
In simple words ............
May 2010 be the best year of your life!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I plan on getting back into the swing of things after the first of the year. In looking back over my posts the last several days they seem quite lame.
I'm off next week so it is my intention to refocus and plan out the coming year. I'm actually excited about the projects we have in the pipe.
I will probably put out another book, Jilda and I will put out a singer songwriter cd and we plan to perform more with The Overalls and as a duet with the two of us.
We should also be very close to being totally debt free in 2010. We are very excited about the prospect of having a mortgage burning party.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Evening Coming Down

I wondered on the way home this evening if anyone had ever OD'd on food. I had the feeling I would be the first.
All in all it's been a wonderful day. It was still raining when we got up this morning, but the high winds that blew most of the night had moved off to the east but the sky still looked angry.
When we went for our morning walk, we could feel either flecks of ice or snow on our face but you really couldn't see it.
We ate lunch with Jilda's sister and her family and afterwards we exchanged gifts.
When we left there, we went to my sister's house and ate again. Or at least, I eat again. 
I got a chance to torment kids all day long. For me that's a high point. I am a gooser extraordinaire. I could teach classes in the art of goosing.
As I sit here typing, I feel like taking a nap. That could be problematic because it's currently 6:15 p.m. If I napped a while, I probably would sleep much tonight so I think I'll kick back and watch another Christmas movie.
I hope you all have had a great Christmas.  

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I've been on call today and things have been intense. Keeping all the computers up and running this time of year is vital to our corporation and there's a lot riding on a successful holiday season.
By this evening I felt like my head was in a vice. But things began to slack off and my oncall duty is winding down.
I put Tori Amos' new Christmas album on the stereo, sat on the couch, closed my eyes to simply relaxed for a few minutes.
I could hear the wind in the pines and the rattle of rain on the roof. All of a sudden a profound sense of peace washed over me. Tonight - right now, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
I know Jilda and I are probably a minority, but we always exchange our gifts on Christmas eve. I can smell a fresh batch of her special apple cider steeping on the stove. She also is cooking a batch of gingerbread cookies.
We'll eat dinner here soon and sit on the couch, listen to music and enjoy the Christmas tree. We both are fortunate enough to pretty much buy what we really want throughout the year, so at Christmas, we try to get each other small special gifts.
We'll watch "It's a Wonderful Life" before we go to bed tonight and tomorrow we'll get up at the crack of dawn to cook ham and turkey to take to our family gatherings.
I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Christmas and I hope 2010 is the best year yet for you all.
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gift of Music

My young great nephew Jordan came over last night for the Christmas Cookie baking. While we were waiting for all the other great nieces and nephews to arrive, Jilda and I played Jordan a song on the guitars.
The moment he heard the first strum, his eyes flew open in amazement and a smile came to his face as if he'd just been given a gift.
We made up a little song on the spot that had his name in it and he started dancing in time to the music.
I taught Haven and Samantha how to play basic chords. They both picked up quickly but I don't think either had "the love" of music. I have a hunch, after seeing Jordan's face, that he does have that love.
I can't wait until he gets a little older. I will get him a guitar and teach him to play. I don't know of a better gift to give a child.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dang it Man

I got paged tonight just as I sat down to write. By the time I got off the call, I had forgotten what I was going to write about. I wanted to shout, DANG IT MAN, DON'T YOU KNOW I'D RATHER BE WRITING!!!
The bigwigs with broken computers don't have a very good since of humor so I left the comment unsaid.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve eve.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Cookie Day

Tomorrow is Christmas Cookie Day. Ever since my nephews and niece were born, Jilda has had a Christmas Cookie Day. It started with the oldest James and carried through to his younger brother and sister Haven and Samantha. 
One day during the week of Christmas, they came over and Jilda made it into a really big deal for them. The kids got to help with the dough, the cutting and the decorating.  Afterwards,they ate  of the Christmas cookies until they were ricocheting off the walls.
Jilda always enjoyed the sessions, and the kids did too but as they got older, the tradition faded. This year, there are great nieces and nephews coming along and so the tradition is gaining traction again.
They are all coming over tomorrow and they are all excited. I have appointments at work and will miss the Cookie Event. I hate it when work gets in the way of Christmas Traditions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I'm on call this week until Christmas night and then I'm off until after the first of the year. Most people prefer to be off on Christmas and I enjoy time away from work at Christmas too, but it seems like most of my career, I've had to work that week. I can live with that.
I do always try to take the last week of the year off. There's something about New Years that I absolutely love. I like taking time to reflect on the past year and to make plans for the new year. 
I'm a big on setting goals.  There have been times when I haven't followed through and as a result, I fell short of the targets I set. 
But I've done quite well this year. One thing that has been on my Goals list for several years is to lose twenty pounds. I'd work hard, exercise, and push away from the table early in the year only to backslide in the fall and botch the goal. 
This year, I really didn't write it down on paper, but it was still an internal goal. The difference this year is that I stayed the course and as a result, I weigh twenty pounds less. Another goal is to reduce debt by 30%. I have already met this goal as well. We're on target to be debt free this time next year, though we really must not lose focus. I can't wait to hold a mortgage burning party.
I had some other goals that were poorly written and as a result, I didn't make as much progress on them as I would have liked, but I am moving forward.
Anyhow, I'm excited about getting started on our plans for 2010. 
Travel safe these next few weeks. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Christmas Tree

I worked on exterior illumination this afternoon. The little hemlock tree in our front is kind of scraggly so the lights would not go on evenly.  The wind out of the north was blowing at about twenty miles an hour which made the strands of lights stiff as barb wire.
I had to stop a few times, go inside and drink hot chocolate to warm my bones.  When it got dark, the tree looked a little better than I thought.
The inside tree looks great!  This may be the best shaped tree we've ever had and it's just the right size. I tend to pick out trees that are much too big. Jilda tends to pick out trees that are too small. When we go together, we usually get one that close to the right size.
We have a Time Life Christmas cassette tape that has about ninety minutes of old Christmas music today. 
There is a blues songs that I've only heard on this tape. "Last Month of the Year" must be almost as old as Christmas itself, but I challenge anyone to listen to it and not smile.
The tape also has Odetta singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful and it's a remarkable rendition of that song.
All in all, it's been a great day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Nutcracker

I know this is probably hard to believe, but I've never seen The Nutcracker. This year, however was different because our great niece and nephew Breeze and Stone performed. It was delightful watching them. 
The costumes of all the kids were stunning and it was an excellent production. 
We had Christmas plays when I was young, but the production was always low budget. We had a good time but I'd hate to think a video or 8 mm of one of those survived somewhere. 
But tonight was special. When Breeze and Stone came out to take a bow I was very proud of them both.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Information Overload.

I think I'm going to cancel my subscription to the newspapers as well as all the magazines coming to my house. I'm on about a million newsletters on the Internet not to mention all the email and stuff I get at work.
I'm on what is known as INFORMATION OVERLOAD.  I think I need some time to process what's bouncing around the cracks and crevices of my brain. It's getting to the point that nothing new can go in unless something that's already in there comes out. I mean, what if I start forgetting birthdays, or forgetting to eat....actually that's not a good example because for me, forgetting to eat for a while probably wouldn't be a bad thing, but you get the picture.
I mean, what do other people do. I refuse to believe that people are that much smarter than me....well, there again, as I read back over this post, it's not that big of a stretch to think that there's probably a LOT of people smarter than me. But, I would like to know how you deal with TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
Leave me a comment....on second thought, maybe not because that would be just SOMETHING ELSE TO READ!!!!!!!!!!


I love book stores and libraries. I'd move in and live in a big old book store but apparently associates are trained to watch for customers that come into the stores with sleeping bags and coolers because I've been turned away a couple times.
I spend a chunk on my disposable income on books, music, and other stuff you get at a good book store. When I got an email from to hook an affiliate account to my Blog, I jumped at the chance because I'm betting there are others out there that love books as much as me. Now you can order books right from my blog. 
It's a neat feature. Now it's off to work I go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Always remember those Who serve..

I don't normally like to re-post things, but I read this one a few years ago in "Chicken Soup for the Soul" I think, and I loved the story. I hope you enjoy it.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,
A 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
Sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in
Front of him..

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and
Studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the
Waitress was growing impatient.
"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on
The table and walked away The boy finished the ice
Cream, paid the cashier and left.. When the waitress
Came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
Table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
Were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had
To have enough left to leave her a tip.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Blues

I was a little down in the dumps yesterday. Things were going south at work and at home, I had been struggling with a Christmas column for this coming Sunday's paper.
I went to bed early last night and lie awake stewing things over in my mind. This morning when I got up, things were no better.
I'm normally as chipper as a mockingbird at first light, but this morning I felt a little gloomy. I must have cast a pall over Jilda as well because she seemed a little down too.
She asked me what I was going to write about in my column Sunday. I told her I didn't have a clue. The creative problem solver kicked in and she came up with a killer idea. That was all it took for me to snap out of my malaise, and I immediately felt better.
Tonight when I sat down, I kicked out 500 words before you could say Merry Christmas. I have a smile on my face even now as I type.
The blues don't hang out where they aren't wanted.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The fog this morning was as thing as a fuzzy blanket. I had to drive slowly with my fog lights on.
The scenery looks "other worldly" in a thick fog. Almost like reality is just beyond you field of vision. I thought it would burn off, but this evening as I made my way home, it returned for an encore.
The worst fog I've ever seen was about five years ago. We'd been to our friend's Tom and Judy's house on the Warrior River. We started out slow but we assumed the fog would lift as we got away from the banks of the river. We were wrong. A drive that normally takes about forty minutes took over three hours. I felt like I'd been beaten with a rubber hose when we finally got home.
Anyhow, the weather gets a lot colder tomorrow and chase the fog off to where ever fog goes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thunder in December

It will snow January 13th. This according to Jilda's grandmother Mamie. Of course Mamie's been dead for years but when Jilda was a small child, Mamie said that if there is thunder in December, it will snow one month from that day.
It thundered early this morning. It was just after 2 a.m. when a clap of thunder shook the rafters. Ol' Buddy that sleeps on the foot of the bed, scooted up between Jilda and I and tried his best to get under the cover.
I got up and checked the weather radio and then flipped on the Weather Channel to check things out but there was no severe weather bulletins so I headed back to bed and wrestled Ol' Buddy back down to the foot of the bed amidst a lot of growling and snapping.
A few other nature items to mention, is that there will be a meteor shower this week and December will have a blue moon (two full moons in one month).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wet Saturday

Jilda and I are playing tonight at Berkley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman. It will be a combination of music and readings. We had a successful event recently at Legal Grounds in Jasper and the gig tonight grew out of that. We're excited.
Today has been an old cold rainy day here. We got a good walk in before it started but I can hear it rattling the roof even as I write.
I hope you all have a great Saturday. It would be great if some of you surprised us tonight at Bob's. With Christmas parties and bad weather, we may be playing to coffee mugs but it is what it is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mobile Update

For some reason, I can't get online with my home computer. I decided to try and use my iPhone to update the blog.
It's a little cumbersome using this tiny keyboard and it seem like spending a lot of time backspacing. My thumbs are also getting tired. I'd have CarpalThumbal syndrome if I did this very often.
Jilda and I are playing at Berkley Bob's tomorrow night. We hope to see some of our friends there. Music starts at 7. Y'all come

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adventures in Dental Work

I've spent the last three hours at the dentists. Unfortunately I wasn't sitting in the waiting room either. I was in THE CHAIR!
I had a bridge that went south early this year which set in motion a chain of dental activity that I feel certain purchased a beach house and Christmas gifts for all the dentists and their families in and around Walker County.
I'm guessing the lights dimmed at the insurance office where the computers crunched the numbers.
Today was the next to last visit for this issue. The dentist had to install a post which will eventually support the new cap. Not sure what that involved but it felt like she drilled the hole with a brace and bit.
Anyhow, my head is listing to starboard as the feeling returns to my jaw. I'm having a soup for supper and then I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I Need a Vacation

I'm listening to Scrooge now by Charles Dickens. I've watched the movie many times and I love that old film but the book is incredible.
Dickens' command of the language was deep as river which enabled him to paint a picture with his words that I'm sure made making the movie a cinch.
The more I learn about writing the more I want to learn. My only regret is that I did not start down this path much younger. So much to learn, so little time
Tonight I feel as though I've written myself into a corner. That was bound to happen since the most frequent topic about which I write, is me.
I've written so much about my life that people I've never met feel as if they know me. The truth is, anyone who has read my blog and my columns do know a great deal about the things I believe; the things I love, and the things that make me laugh.
The most difficult part of writing these days, for me, is thinking of fresh things to say. I sometimes think I'm saying something new, only to find out that a writer has written about the topic years before.
I need a vacation - to go somewhere I've never been, do something I've never done, taste something I've never tasted and see something I've never seen. I believe that new experiences open windows in your mind which all you to see things in different ways.
I'm off that last week of the year and it is my intention to do all of the above.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I was sitting here contemplating a topic for tonight's update when an alarm started screaming in the house. It took me a second to realize it was our weather alert radio.
It was cold as a freezer yesterday but today it warmed up to rain. Low pressure out of the gulf is racing toward us which make the atmosphere very unstable. The alert was for a tornado watch which is not as bad as a warning but you still have to be ready to flee in the event things go south.
Even now I can hear high level winds roaring. I hope it's not a long night tonight.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Movies

We watched White Christmas last night. We have a bunch of Christmas movies and we both tend to spend more time in front of the TV during the weeks before the holiday. My nephew James did a column recently about his favorite Christmas songs, but I think I will do my Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movie List

10. Emmit Otter's Jug Band Christmas
9. Charlie Brown Christmas
8. Miracle on 34 Street (the original)
7. One Magic Christmas
6. Scrooge (the original and the ones with Patrick Steward and the one with George C. Scott)
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
4. The Bishop's Wife
3. A Christmas Story
2. The Holiday
1. A Wonderful Life

Jilda would have bumped one of mine out for Christmas in Connecticut, but it's not on my list of faves.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Tide

I woke up smiling this morning. I watched the SEC Championship game in amazement. The Tide spanked the Gators in front of a national audience. The camera's showed Tebow crying on the sidelines as time ticked down. He's caught a lot of flack and to be honest I jabbed him a little but I think it goes to show how much emotion he puts into what he does.
Last year when Florida won in the Championship game Tebow took the SEC Flag and ran around the stadium. When he was interviewed by the commentators, he said he worked up more of a sweat running the flag around than he did beating the Tide. That stuck in my craw, and I'm betting it wasn't lost on the returning players from Alabama either.
I am amazed by Coach Nick Saban. He has a philosophy and a methodology in his approach to the game. The University of Alabama caught a lot of flack for paying him more than any other college football coach in the nation at that time. But in three short years, he has brought something to the University that's been missing for years. He brought vision, pride, and a plan. He has convinced the "critical mass" of the team to buy in to the vision and it's working.
I truly believe that he could write a book on his approach to life and it would be a best seller.
OK, now I'm waxing philosophical and what not so I'll hush now and bask in the warm glow of victory.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Early Snow

I woke up in the night to let one of the dogs out. As I looked in the light of the street lamp, I could see flecks of snow falling through the pine.
A while later when I let the pup back in, I could see the white stuff bending the bows downward. This morning, Jilda and I got out and took a walk. The air was still crisp and the snow was still falling a little.
I don't recall ever having a snow this early that stuck to the ground. Mind you, it was only about a quarter inch dusting, but beautiful just the same.
Our great nephew Jordan from next door walked over with his mom Samantha and we had a little snowball battle.
He's not quite two years old yet, but he was a loving the white stuff. When I'd throw a snowball at him he would dodge and then laugh uncontrollably.
He'd pick up the snowball and try to throw it back at me but they were sticking to his mittens.
Once back in the house, Jilda whipped up a cup of her world famous hot chocolate. Yum! We are getting ready now to go get us a live Christmas tree. Is there a better way to spend the first Saturday in December?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sad Local Event

I saw a note on Facebook early this morning saying something about a Pelham Police officer who was killed while on duty early this morning.
I quickly searched local news and it was true. A 33 year old policeman doing a routine traffic stop on I-65 243 (two exits past where I get off to go to my job) when the incident occurred. Part of the incident was captured on video.
Two men were arrested a few hours later. The main suspect arrested in the case is a pharmacist that lives not far from Empire. The news reports said "he may have been a pharmacist" what ever that means.
It is very hard for me to wrap my mind around this situation. It is sad on so many levels. My heard goes out to the families.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


I'm celebrating my forth anniversary as a blogger. It's been a interesting ride. Except for one day, I've written something daily.
What makes it interesting is that what started out as a hobby, turned into something more. After about a year of blogging, I approached the local paper and asked to write a weekly column.
The managing editor was a little skeptical at first because apparently there are a lot of folks that ask to become a columnist and they write for a few weeks but then they tire of the constant deadlines and give up.
I told the editor that I'd been writing daily for about a year and I had at least a year's worth of columns in the bag. I left him with about a half dozen to consider.
He called me the next day and said they let me try for a while to see if my work fit. Apparently it did, because I've been writing for them ever since.
What blogging has done for me is build discipline. I follow newsletters, go to writing workshops, and read writing blogs. One of the main things say is that they can't find time to write.
I believe they can't find time to write because they haven't made it a priority in their lives.
I stay busy ALL THE TIME. I have a full-time job, I'm a songwriter, I play in a band, I do community work and I'm promoting a book. Please, don't talk to me about the lack of time.
Anyhow, I think Blogging is an excellent way to build discipline. Not all the things I write are earth shattering, but I read somewhere that "there is genius in beginning." I believe that's true.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

When I walked out of work this evening, the wind had the flag standing at attention. The metal fasteners were tinging against the pole. The moon was obscured by cloud as I cranked the truck, but they parted briefly and I could see the old man as clear as a picture.
I had an uneventful ride home which is the way I like it. Too many times when the roads are wet, there are accidents that turn the Interstate into a parking lot.
The temps dropped dramatically this evening and I had to crank up the fireplace to keep my toes from breaking off like stubby icicles.
Y'all stay warm.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What if Earth Had Rings

This is a stunning animation of what the earth would look like if it had rings.

Silent Tiger

The sportscasters kept breaking in with Tiger Woods updates all during the Alabama/Auburn game last Friday. Apparently Tiger had some kind of accident and mum was the word.
The accident happened pretty much in his front yard. He was treated and released from a local hospital so it didn't seem like that big a deal.
But it lingered on and not much was being revealed about the incident. Tonight, when I was trying to think of something to write about, I did a search for "The Most Googled Topic" The search terms at the top of the list was Jaimee Grubbs and Tiger Woods. I'm not sure what's going on there but I think celebrity chasers are hungry for some kind of scandal.
I happen to believe that everyone has a right to privacy even though there are a lot of people who disagree. I think if Tiger wants us to know what happened, he can tell us. If he doesn't, he shouldn't have to.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Thanksgivings are hard on Jilda. It was always such a special holiday at her folks' house. Food-o-plenty, lots of kinfolks, fun and laughter. Those were happy times.
When he dad Sharky passed away, it put a damper on the holiday, but everyone rallied around her mom and carried on.
When her mom Ruby died just before Thanksgiving a few years ago, the holiday changed dramatically for Jilda.
This year on Thanksgiving morning I went into the kitchen where she was working on food to take to my sister's house and I could tell by the look on her face that she was having a hard time.
"I miss my mom," she said with tears in her eyes. "Me too," I said trying to comfort her, but I came up short.
The moment passed and later that day when I went into the kitchen, she was whipping up something on the counter. "I'm making ambrosia," she said with a gleam in her eyes. Ambrosia is something that Ruby made every Thanksgiving. Ambrosia or nectar of the gods, is a delightful mixture of fruit and coconut.
Thanksgiving evening, we sat by the fireplace and ate a dish of Ambrosia. That simple act put a smile on both of our faces.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My niece Samantha has a paper due soon and she needed books from the Library. In the past, the Jefferson County library card was free even though I live in Walker County because I work in Jefferson County and I pay occupational tax. Since the economic meltdown in Jefferson County, they've started charging to renew library cards.
Today it was $50. That smarted a little, but where else can you go and have access to so many great resources. There are books, tapes, cd's DVD's, magazines, newspapers, and archives.
I love libraries. Samantha checked out a half dozen books she needed to finish her paper and I checked out a book called the Social Media Bible. It contains a wealth of information on how to use "new media" to get your message across.
I'm just glad they don't charge what the card is "really" worth.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I signed books in the mall today and Jilda went with me for moral support. What was encouraging is that there were a lot of shoppers today and they are were bearing packages which means they were buying. That was good news.
I sold some books, visited with old friends and made a bunch of new friends. I had several people who brought books they had previously purchased and asked me to sign them.
I sent a book to the Birmingham News book reviewer recently and she sent me a note this past week that it was at the top of her list for the holidays. I think a good review (hopefully it will be a good review) should be boost for sales in town.
We'll see how that goes. But tonight, both Jilda and I are whupped. We are about to put a movie in the player, make some hot chocolate and veg out.
Have a great Saturday evening.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Iron Bown

Some of my friends that are Tide fans were blowing off this game against Auburn. I knew that was a mistake. Auburn ALWAYS plays the Tide hard. This game was no exception. They never trailed in the game until just over a minute was left to play.
I needed oxygen toward the end. Games like the one today are what make college football a premier sport.
The Auburn team and fans, while disappointed, have nothing be be ashamed of. Alabama was a two touchdown favorite and Auburn was within a play or two of knocking off the #2 team in the nation.
The thing I love about this Alabama team is that they simply do not give up.
Remarkable game.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This week at work has been like a ghost town. I was on call so I didn't have the luxury of taking off. As it turns out, I was busier than a one armed paper hanger. So busy in fact that I didn't get a chance to walk at work on my breaks.
Today, I made up for it. The air was crisp, and the sun was warm. The dogs skittered around like chip monks. Many of the autumn leaves have fallen, but the ones that remain are stunning. Reds, yellows, and oranges. It would be hard to slip up on anything because the ground is covered with crunch brown leaves. I walked long enough to make up for the days I skipped.
We had lunch with my sister Mary Lois. My mom dozed in her recliner while we all ate. She doesn't like crowds even though it was family. She can't hear good and she says the sounds of people laughing and talking loud hurts her ears. My hearing is not what it once was and I have a hard time hearing in crowds too, so I understand where she's coming from.
It was good to spend a nice day with family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Can't Wait

The Iron Bowl comes on Friday. To say I get animated during that game is a gross understatement. I've been know to frighten small children to tears when they get anywhere near me during the Alabama/Auburn game.
I've had a lot of Alabama fas say that Auburn should be anything to worry about, but I know for a fact that's not true. Auburn could be having the worst year ever and play like the Saints when they line up against Alabama.
I don't know if there is a better rivalry in the country that the Iron Bowl. Great traditions+ great athletes=great fun.
I can't wait

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The editor of the paper called to tell me he needed my column early. I thought I had tonight, tomorrow night and all day Thursday to finish up. Apparently some of the want to take the holiday off...if you can believe that.
I handle pressure fairly well most of the time, but writing under pressure is hard for me. "What if I can't think of a topic? What if I get in a hurry and say something stupid?" TOO LATE, I've already said a lot of stupid stuff.
Anyhow, I got down to business. Jilda put on some nice piano music (not the elevator stuff) and poured me a tall glass of ice tea. First thing you know I was off to the races.
I knocked the column in in record time. Maybe I should do that every week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gone Too Soon

I found CalmRadio on iTunes this week. I was looking through the Classical radio streams when I clicked on CalmRadio. I selected the one for piano and guitar. The music I've heard so far has blown me away.
It's perfect music for writing. There are no words being sung to break my concentration. They also have a website where you can buy CD's if you like. I know it's only a matter of time before I buy up some of the things I'm hearing.
A song that just played reminded me of a picture I shot yesterday while walking down to the barn.
I shot the picture with my iPhone. I seem to use the camera in the phone more than I use the phone.
With the wind and the rain, the fall color will be gone soon, but not forgotten.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I got some much needed rest last night. Thankfully I only got one page and it was fairly early. This morning after coffee, we pulled on our walking sweats, jackets, and hats. There was a breeze out of the northwest that was downright chilly.
The walk was invigorating. The dogs were ecstatic! This is dog-walking weather. When we let Astro out, he tore through the gate like a thoroughbred horse and I'm not sure he's stopped running yet.
We have a huge fenced-in area and they get plenty of exercise, but the joy of running, for him, can only be experienced in wide open spaces.
We had lunch with Jilda's sister Pat. She did early Thanksgiving Dinner so that all her kids and grandkids could come at the same time. Those Phillips girls sure can cook. I'm not sure that better turkey & dressing exists on the planet.
It's almost time to practice. Jilda and I have a few gigs coming up early in December and we want to be primed. I'll post specifics later.
Have a great Sunday evening.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I worked through most of the night and for several hours today on computer problems. I would no sooner get one resolved before I'd get another page on my Blackberry. Then I was up again for an hour or two.
Today, I didn't get my usually Saturday nap so I'm currently a little snippy. Looks like I should have learned by now that snippy doesn't look good on me, so I just need to get over it.
In fact, I think I'm going to put on my sweats, grab a book, hit the couch and pray that I don't get called tonight.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

On Days Like Today

My calendar at work had only one meeting on it when I headed in this morning. I had visions of getting to work, pouring myself a tall cup of steaming coffee and getting down to the business of playing catch up.
When I got to work, I had barely put my laptop in the docking station when my pager started screaming like a baby with a wet diaper. The rest of the day was a blur.
There is still system down in Georgia and I may be on the call all night long. Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic. Maybe when I rejoin the outage call bridge here in a while they will deliver great news and I'll be able to sleep in my bed tonight.
Let's hope.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lost Symbol

I just finished "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown and I loved this book. It is a thriller that involves Free Masons and ancient mysteries. It's fast pace and Brown weaves in a great story around history, ancient scripts, symbols, and it all takes place in Washington D.C.
I am fascinated by his style. The main character in this book is the same one in the Da Vinci Code.
The story has twists and turns with the requisite good against evil, but it leaves you with a feeling of hope. I can't wait for my lovely spouse to read it. She loves these books too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grueling Day

It was a grueling day at work today, but the project that we've been working on for a year went live today without any major snafu's.
I feel like my head's been in a vice all day. I'm about to fix me a cup of sleepy time tea and turn in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Snowy Looking

The air is noticeably colder this evening after the rain moved off to the east. The clouds coming out of the north west were dark as charcoal. The sky looked as if snow might start spitting any moment.
I have a feeling we'll get some of the white stuff this year. I know we often get a few flurries, but rarely do we get enough for rolling a small youngun. We have a great nephew next door that will be two at the end of this coming January. He's just about the right size to roll.
When I was growing up, my older brother and sister had a ton of fun at my expense. The thing about it is, I didn't mind being used as a snow-ball.
Time will tell if we'll get the white stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Losing Friends is Hard

I heard my father-in-law Sharky say a few years before he passed away that the hardest part of growing older, was losing his friends. At the time, I hadn’t lost that many close friends, but I could tell by the sound of his voice and the look in his eyes, that he was speaking from experience.
That conversation was almost 20 years ago, and I’m getting to a place in my life where I understand first hand the meaning of his words.
When my wife and I were younger, we did a better job of spending time with our family and our good friends. Someone would call up, and at the spur of the moment, we’d all be piled in the back seat of a car having the time of our lives as we headed for a bluegrass festival, the mountains or the beach.
On other occasions, someone might find a good deal on steaks and in a flash, we’d have a yard full of our friends and be blazing steaks on the grill. It was not uncommon to spend the evening picking guitars, singing old country songs, and talking late into the night.
We found time to be with the people we cherished.
But something happened as we got older. We got busy, and put the things that make life worth living on the back burner. And for long stretches of time, it seems we couldn’t find time to spend with our friends and extended family.
We spent the last two Sunday evenings with friends, but it wasn’t under the best of conditions because we were at the funeral home. We lost two of our good friends in the blink of an eye.
As I stood in the visitation line for our friend Charlie Yow, I thought to myself just how brief and fragile life is.
It seemed that one moment they were there talking, laughing and making plans. The next moment all their friends had come together to pay their last respects.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times – “I am thrilled to see you, I just wish it could have been under better circumstances.
Why is it so hard to find time to visit with people whose friendship you cherish?
I asked myself this same question last year when we lost our dear friend Joel Robinson. For a while, we did better. We visited more of our friends and we rebuilt relationships. I wrote more cards and letters. I also penned personal e-mails instead of simply forwarding mindless jokes, which only gives the illusion of keeping in touch. But time has a way making you backslide on even the most sacred promises to yourself.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Maybe I‘m at a point in life where I let go and simply learn to say goodbye.
On second thought, I wouldn’t be much of a friend to my friends if I believed that.
In the words of Emily Dickinson, “My friends are my estate.” I want my friends to know how much they mean to me while they are alive, and not say the words to their loved ones when it’s too late. I hope these words encourage you to call a friend today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First Things First

I was lying in bed this morning doing some thinking. I remembered a video that I saw in a class I took a few years ago. The name of the class was "What Matters Most". This concept is so simple that it's deceiving. The class teaches you to do the "first things, first".
Most people understand what things are important with their lives, but yet they (we, and more specifically, I) don't always find time to do the important things.
There are only 24 hours in a day and you will fill up those 24 hours doing something. Sometimes you important things and sometimes you do things that seem important, but they're really not.
Anyhow, lying in bed, I started thinking about re-calibrating/re-prioritizing my life.
I have so many things I want to do, but yet I spend a lot of time doing things that are unimportant.
I want to change that and bring focus back into my daily routine.
I was on vacation this week but I spent three days of it working on projects at work. But the last couple days, I've had time to relax and get some things done that I wanted to finish.
I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All

We had a great time with our friends last night. As always, Jilda out did her shelf with the meal.
My nephew and niece Alesha came by to share some good news. They're expecting!!! I'll be an uncle again! More chances to spoil youngun's
I love America!
If y'all are out and about this evening, join us a Berkley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman 7 to 9 p.m.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friends A-Coming

Jilda and I are both excited this evening. We're having our friends Tom and Judy Camp along with Brenda and Danny Arnold, come over for dinner.
We've spent most of the day getting our house in order. Actually, we started yesterday and continued into today.
Right now, we are both spruced up, we have piano music on, fresh flowers on the table, roast chicken and potatoes baking in the oven, and we're now sitting back cooling our heels.
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Cleaning

Jilda and I spent a little time fall cleaning today. My bathroom was a wreck. I cleaned and re-caulked the shower, I cleaned the cabinet underneath the sink. I can honestly say it has never been truly cleaned until today.
I threw away old bottles of shampoo, conditioners, and other things that were so old the labels had faded to the point that I could not read them. I had Old Spice after shave that was bought in the last century. The Old Spice still smelled good though.
I cleaned out the drawers and I wound up just bringing in the garbage can and dumping everything but my dental floss.
Not many people ever venture back into my bathroom so no one but me will know I did a through cleaning, but I'll know and I feel good about it.
We have friends coming over tomorrow so we'll spend the day sprucing up the great room and preparing the food. Most of our flowers are gone now so we'll need to pick up a fresh batch before tomorrow evening.
The weather tomorrow looks good so I hope you all have a great Friday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A good day

The rain moved out sometime in the night and when I woke up this morning, I could see daylight through the blinds.
As the coffee brewed, I stood in the back door looking to the south and the sky was as clear as a glass cleaned with Windex. When I stepped out on the deck, I closed my eyes and breathed in the smell of autumn. The last remnants of Tropical Storm Ida was causing our harvest flag to flap against the post. The wind blew oak and hickory leaves onto the deck leaving a crunchy carpet.
Our dogs, who all thought we were going for an early morning walk, skittered around the yard like squirrels in love.
I knew right then that it was a good day to be alive.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cluttered Office, Cluttered Mind

My office is a mess. I sat down tonight to write an entry here and nothing came to mind. As I looked around, it was almost as if I had just awakened from a long sleep.
I've got pictures, sticky notes, CD's, books, magazines and a ton of junk mail awaiting slaughter in the shredder.
I'm on vacation tomorrow so it's my intention to get this place ship-shape. Ever who said "cluttered office, cluttered mind," hit the nail on the head.
But tonight, I guess I'll listen to the wind and the rain that the weatherman swore wouldn't hit Empire.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Change Comes to Sloss

It happened in super slow motion, so none of us kids in Sloss saw it coming. One day you could play stickball right in the

middle of Sloss Road, but then came “progress.” The next thing we knew our little community had changed forever.
We were all pretty miffed when a crew from Birmingham came in and hauled away our railroad tracks. One warm summer

day they came clattering slowly down the Sloss spur line on flatbed cars pulled by a tired old freight engine. They pulled up

the rusted railroad spikes by the thousands and they hauled our tracks off for scrap.
The railroad no longer had a use for the old tracks, since the coal had already been scratched out of the hills and hollows,

and burned in the furnaces at U.S. Steel in Birmingham
But the kids of Sloss used those rails all the time, for home base, and rail walking contests. We really hated to see them go.

Even today, I can close my eyes and smell the creosote, and the bitterweed that grew between the crossties. The tracks

were perfect speed bumps for the community. Any car that hit those tracks too fast could blow a tire or break an axle!
Sometime later, a state survey crew came into our neck of the woods with a chain gang and a man with a telescope. I later

learned that the device was a transit, which surveyors use to accurately lay out tracks of land.
We peppered the workers with questions, and they told us they were building a new road to replace the tar and gravel pig

trail that ran through Sloss. They were also paving the red-rock section of road that connected Sloss to highway 78.
That sounded OK at first, until they walked deep into our yard and drove wooden stakes with handwritten numbers in the

They went even deeper into Mama Watson’s yard and the yards of our other neighbors.
As soon as they left, we pulled the stakes up and threw them in the creek.
The next time they came through the crew chief threatened us with life in Atmore Prison, if we fooled with the stakes

again. We were pretty sure he was jacking us around, but we didn’t bother their stakes anymore.
Men in suits came to visit all the families on the west side of the old tracks and made offers to buy their homes.
We had property in the back of our house, so the state simply moved our house a few hundred feet. Neither my

grandmother, the Plunkett’s nor the Castleberry’s had any land behind their houses so they were forced to find other places

to live.
As time passed, more state trucks, road graders, dump trucks and Caterpillar bulldozers showed up.
The construction foreman said, “Progress will be good for this place.” I wanted to say, “If progress is so fine and dandy,

why don’t you do some progress in your community.” But I kept my mouth shut and endured the sadness I felt as I

watched my childhood friends pack their things to move away.
We stayed in touch with our friends, but our community was never the same after the new road came through.
I was looking through a box of pictures recently and came across some faded photographs taken in front of the old home

place. The houses weren’t much by today’s standards, but they suited us just fine. The old thoroughfare wasn’t much wider

than a driveway, but these days when I stroll down memory lane, it’s always on the old road.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I'll Miss My Friend

We've been at the funeral home the last two Sunday evenings. Last week, the brother of our good friend Joyce had passed away and tonight was visitation for our friend Charlie Yow.
I heard someone remark tonight that Charlie was an extraordinary, ordinary man. He went on to say that Charlie seemed ordinary in that he never put on airs, but the things he did were extraordinary.
He graduated from Dora High School in 1957 and became a successful businessman. He loved to fish and made a career in the fishing lure industry. He served as a councilman for the City of Sumiton.
The Dora High School Alumni Association selected him as the Alumnus of the Year in 2007 because of his lifetime of support for the school and the community. He was always kind to me.
Tonight when we spoke to his wife Joan at the visitation, she told us something that Charlie had said about Jilda and me and I was touched. She told us that Charlie had said that "this world is made up of putters and takers. Those two are putters."
I know that Charlie was a putter and I will miss my friend.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bad News Travels Fast

Bad news travels really fast

Writer Douglas Adams once wrote: “nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news.” What is it about the human race that loves bad news?
I think it’s somehow coded into our DNA.
Any newspaperman will tell you the best way to sell papers is to have the scoop on some really bad news.
My grandmother loved bad news so much that she had a prescription (her words) to the National Enquirer. Each week when the paper came in the mail, she would start reading it while drinking her morning coffee. They lived in the house next door, so I was usually there for the reading. She would flip through the paper and spend hours recoiling from all the bad news.
I do recall reading at least one upbeat story with a headline that read:
It felt a little weird being so drawn to reading about the misfortune of others, even though the stories seemed far fetched. Mama Watson thought it was strange too, but she kept on renewing her “prescription” to the paper.
In those days, most of the regular news traveled slowly. Of course, we had Walter Cronkite on the evening news, but his news was not sensational, and his reports often made you think. This didn’t get much traction with the bad news junkies.
Sometimes we got our local fixes of bad news from the insurance salesman, the milkman, or the peddler that came through Sloss Hollow. The bad news might be something like, “You know Mr. Smith that lives down there in Praco? Well, he passed away last night,” he would report with a grim look on his face. “Yes he choked on a chicken bone and died in his bed.” This kind of news traveled like wildfire.
West Pratt would be buzzing within minutes. By the time the story got to the edge of the community, the news flash evolved to –A killer rooster as big as a cougar attacked Mr. Smith. The rabid bird had pecked out Mr. Smith’s tongue and both his eyes before dragging his mangled carcass back to the chicken pen.

These days, Fox News, CNN, and the Internet can lay some bad news on you before you have you morning coffee. “Forty people were slashed to death today by a mentally unstable Orangutan cranked up on crystal meth and sweet tea,” the newscaster reports with a gleam in her eyes.

I’ve heard a lot of theories about why we are so fascinated by bad news. Steve Goodman, who is one of my favorite songwriters puts the hay down where the goats can get it, with his song Somebody Else’s Troubles
That's 'cause it ain't hard
To get along with somebody else's troubles,
And they don't make you lose any sleep at night.
Just as long as fate is there bustin' somebody else's bubbles,
Everything's gonna be all right.
Yes, Everything's gonna be all right.

Friday, November 06, 2009


We have a yard full of kids tonight. My niece Samantha is the coach of Sumiton volleyball team and she wanted to have a cookout for them. They are out in the yard slamming down dogs and smores. After they leave here, they're going over to Samantha's house to do a slumber party. I doubt that they'll get much sleep tonight.
They are about to head down to the barn so I'm about to put on my "Scream" mask and scare the stew out of them.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I miss the daylight when I get off work. Before the time change I had a few hours of daylight to walk on days when my work hours were jam packed. Since the time changed, the street lamps are already glowing by the time I get to my truck.
The upside is the color of the sky just before the last remaining light disappears on the horizon to the west. Tonight it was a cross between indigo and teal with a tinge of amber mixed in for good measure.
Also on the upside, is my wife before the time change was a zombie while we drank our coffee. Now that the day arrives an hour early, she's chattering like a squirrel on diet pills as soon as she gets up.
In about six weeks, the days will start getting longer again and the cycle will start all over again.
The world keeps spinning around.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bad Decision

I wussed out last night because the entire side of my head was aching. I had four root canals yesterday afternoon.
I've had the procedure a number of times, but never that many at once. The dentist gave me the option of doing a couple at a time but I told her I had a high threshold to pain.
I'm not sure if it was bravado or sheer stupidity, but I told her to do it all. She raised an eyebrow as if to say, are you sure? "Yes, let's do 'em up." She did.
When the Novocain wore off last night, I felt like someone had cold-cocked me with a cinder block.
It felt a little better today, but I still would not have won a race.
I plan to slam down a few over the counter pain meds and hit the hay shortly.
Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Life Lessons

I don't do this a lot, but I love the wisdom of older folks. I didn't check to see if it's true or not, because after reading the list, I know the things on the list ring true with me. So, here goes:

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 44 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:"
1. Life isn't f air , but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God.. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?".
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything.. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32. Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
34. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
36. Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Candy Desposal

We had not Trick or Treaters Saturday and we'd bought a bucket of candy. So in the interest of keeping our weight headed in the right direction, I hauled it all to work today and left it in the break room. I went back and lunch and it was all gone except a couple of Tootsie Roll wrappers.
It's a great way to rid yourself of stuff.
When we have company, Jilda normally makes a very nice desert. We'll eat desert with our company but I normally take what's left to work and share it with my break room buddies.
Coming home tonight the sky was cloudless and the moon was full as a spotlight. The recent rain which was followed by cooler weather cleaned the atmosphere as clean as a Windex-wiped window.
Very nice.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Busy Day

It's been a long day for the Watson's. We had to be at the TV station at 7:30 this morning but of course the time change last night had our internal and external clocks messed up. I spent the first hour resetting watches, closed, coffee pots, microwaves, and stoves.
We sang a few songs on live TV and spent time talking about my book and the books of our friend Edie Hand. Our new friends Charlie and Yvonne Watts have a show called Coffee Time on Sunday mornings. It was a hoot.
We had a book signing gig at the mall this afternoon and we spent several hours getting ready for that and then talking up all the folks that dropped by. Charlie came by and helped with the promotion.
After the event at the mall we drove back to Sumiton to see my mom for a few minutes and then went to the funeral home. Some friends lost a loved one and we went by to pay our respects.
At the funeral home, a ton of people came up to Jilda and I saying they saw us on Coffee Time.
I wasn't sure how many people got up that early on Sunday morning, but apparent, a lot of people do.
Anyhow, tonight we are both whupped and it's just 8 p.m. Someday, someone has to explain the value of Daylight Savings Time to me.
I saw a Native American quote that said: "Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it on the bottom and have a longer blanket."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good Day to be Alive

We came home this afternoon from our overnight stay. The sun was out and the rain clouds had moved off to the east leaving a beautiful day int its wake.
The angle of the light, and cool air made me thing of San Francisco. On the interstate, we rolled our windows down and opened the sunroof for a while. The autumn leaves were stunning in places.
It put in mind the song made popular by Travis Tritt, "Great Day to be Alive".
This evening when we arrived home, we rounded the dogs up and took them for a walk.
All of our dogs are getting fairly old, but this kind of weather makes them all feel like pups and the ran wild.
Our oldest dog Blackie which is a huge Lab mix ran out in front of us about fifteen yards and then fell to the ground and rolled in a pile of poplar leaves that I'd raked up.
If the ground had not still been wet from the rain yesterday, I would have rolled in the leaves with him.
Have a great Saturday evening.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Strange Weather

We were on the road today headed out of town for an over-nighter. Down below Tuscaloosa, you could see the atmosphere was unstable. A front over in Mississippi headed towards Alabama had been rumbling for hours.
On one side of the interstate the sun was shining brightly, and on the other rain was falling in sheets. When the clouds moved over the interstate, the sun coming through the mist made the light seem like you were looking into the sun. I have never seen it rain this hard while the sun was shining.
We moved to the right lane, slowed to a crawl, and watched the rear view mirror for bullet-proof drivers. Fortunately everyone slowed down and about a mile up the road, the rain moved on leaving a brilliant blue sky off to the south. Very strange weather.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Perfect" Email

My friend Ken Owens with whom I worked for many years, sent me an email this evening. I had forgotten the significance of October 29th but Ken reminded me. His note follows:

Do you remember where you were 18 years ago tonight? We met a lady named Grace for dinner. By we, I mean you, Tom, and I. Puzzled?
We had just arrived in Boston. We had a computer class beginning the next morning in Bedford. It was October 29, 1991. Tom and I came to your hotel room about 6:00pm. You had the windows open and your drapes were blowing horizontally across the room. It was coming a nor'easter outside.
The lady Grace was a hurricane that had made her way up the Atlantic coast to New England. The significance of the date and time was that it was within 30 minutes of the last message heard from the captain of the swordfishing boat "Andrea Gail". They had sailed too far east in search of swordfish and were returning to Gloucester when they were cut off by the hurricane, a nor'easter, and a massive low pressure system coming down out of Canada. All 6 souls on the fishing vessel were claimed by the sea. I never realized the circumstances we encountered until after the movie "The Perfect Storm" came out and I backtracked my training records. The story of the movie actually happened while we were there. Although the movie may be somewhat exaggerated the storm was horrendous. If you remember there was significant damage up and down the coast.
I was reminded of all of this while watching "The Perfect Storm" a couple of nights ago. You know I have a sentimental feeling about working men and women. These were 6 guys trying to earn a living for their families. They went to work one day and never returned home.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Have a Little Faith

I got a letter with my check from the Mountain Eagle. A woman from Indiana who had been visiting an old friend here in Alabama wrote to say that she had picked up a copy of my book on impulse.
She was headed back up north and had stopped at the Green Top to get some BBQ to take home.
She picked up a copy of my book and read it when she got home. "I got another funny and memory filled trip home," she said
The thing I enjoy most about writing is meeting new folks and getting letters and emails. I am flattered and humbled by some of the notes I receive.
I've been working on some ideas for another book. The next one will be fiction but the setting and tone will be like my columns and short stories. I must say that I'm a little apprehensive because everyone has become accustomed to my real life work so it's hard to know how fiction will be received.
It is my intention to give it a shot and take it on faith.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NASA Application

I came across a free app for my iPhone byNASA. I love this app. It has news, video, pictures and other information about the space program.
I clicked on the picture icon today and there are over 1300 photos that you can browse. Pictures of stars, planets, the space station and other interesting things.
I haven't had a chance to explore many of the other features yet so I look forward to some exploring.
I found this picture fascinating.
I'll be posting others as I come across things I think you may enjoy.
I have to run and brush my column for this coming weeks paper. It's about our fascination with bad news. Be sure to stay tuned.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life is a Circle

Jilda and I were having a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel a few weeks ago and overheard some Auburn fans sitting at the next table. The Tigers had lost a heartbreaker to Kentucky on the previous Saturday, and you could tell they were really down.
I wanted lean over and explain to them that life is a circle and that sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. It takes losing to understand the sweetness of winning.
But the guy was kinda big and he looked a little hung over so I wasn’t sure he’d grasp the full depth of this concept in the spirit it was intended.
Being used as a mop to clean the floor at Cracker Barrel is not my idea of Sunday morning fun, so I kept my philosophy to myself and I shoveled a spoon full of grits into my mouth instead.
Here’s the thing about life ….well, let me first say that football is just a game. Your self worth is not tied to whether your favorite team wins or loses. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. My team had some lean years but I got over it. The world kept spinning around. It took me a long time to “get it.”.
There is a cycle to life and things are in a constant state of change. I once heard the only humans that like change are babies with wet diapers.
One moment you can be flying high as a kite in a strong April breeze and then next moment you’re lower than snail droppings.
Sometimes the cycles are random, but sometimes they are brought on by the choices you make.
There is an art, and some science, to spending more of your time on the up side instead of the down side. Feed your mind, body, and spirit with the best food you can afford.
I always tell young folks to stay in school and make learning a lifetime goal. Brainpower tends to help you think things through and make better decisions.
When it comes to health, some people feed their pets better than they feed themselves.
It’s hard to stay on top of your game when you don’t feel good. So I recommend you take care of your body. Eat right, exercise, and wear seat belts.
The spiritual element of one’s life is also very important. It’s not my intention to debate this topic because spirituality means different things to different people. I do know that people who find time for silence, meditation and/or prayer tend to lead a more balanced life. Balance is good.
I’d be the first to say that leading a balanced life does not guarantee that you won’t have hard times, but I do believe you will spend more time at the top of the circle of life.
For the fans of teams that are struggling this year, maybe you can find solace in the words of the song made popular back in the 70’s by The Byrds called Turn, Turn, Turn.
The book of Ecclesiastes from the Bible inspired the song. The words say volumes about life.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear its not too late

I could write for the rest of my life and never say it better than this.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

iPhone Software

I know I've said it before, but I love my iPhone. I downloaded a software program called Photogene and it allows you to edit pictures that you take. One of the options is a "Pencil" filter. All this means is that you can take a normal picture and then apply this pencil filter and the resulting photo looks like a pencil drawing.
I shot a picture of my mom having dinner a few weeks ago and I thought it turned out good. She probably wouldn't like it, but I do.
I think the feature I use most on my phone is the camera. I use it at work when I need to show a computer, wiring configuration or some other details that require a visual. I have also shot a lot more picture that captures "a moment".
There is a book out called "The Best Camera is the One You Have With You".
Someone commissioned a famous photographer to shoot pictures of Florida for a book. The only catch is that all the photos had to be take with the photographer's iPhone.
I haven't seen the book but I loved the idea and I'd be willing to bet that the book is really good.
I've been on call this weekend so it's been fairly low-key. I hope it's a quite night tonight.
Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

They Found a Way

OK, I'm hoarse now after watching the Alabama-Tennessee game. The Tide led the entire game but Tennessee got a touchdown with a couple minutes left and then recovered an onside kick.
Tarrance Cody blocked his second field goal of the game to seal an Alabama victory.
My heart was pounding in my chest like a jackhammer.
In the end, they found a way to win. That's what great teams do. They find a way to win. I am so proud of our guys.
The thing I have noticed about Alabama since Nick Sabin arrived is the confidence level and discipline of the team. There's not a lot of showboating, they just make plays. I think coach Sabin works as hard on the mental game as the physical.
I think that, in the long run, is the difference between a good team and a great one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Strange Weather

OK, today was one for the records. It had been raining since just after dark yesterday. Just after midnight the wind kicked off and knocked our power off for a few seconds but thankfully, the breakers reset and all that went down was my computer and the timer on the coffee pot.
No problem. This morning it was still dark as a dungeon with rain.
I called the school to see if there was a rain plan for the Homecoming Parade for my high school. They did not.
About lunchtime, the clouds raced off to the east and the sun peeped out. When I got down to Dora just before noon, the sky was as blue as a swimming pool with big fluffy clouds.
I always shoot pictures at the parade for the website and I had worn a long sleeve shirt because I wasn't sure if the rain was gone for sure but by the time the band struck up, the sun was warm and I found myself sweating.
Then tonight when I went to the game to shoot a few photos, the temps had dropped like a stone and the wind chill made my teeth chatter.
I'm on call this week so I had to leave the game at halftime. Jilda made me a cup of hot tea and I'm finally getting warm.
You gotta love this strange weather.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time Will Tell

I go on call again tonight. A few weeks ago one of my co-workers needed to swap to have a specific week off so that he could attend his 40th high school reunion. When I swapped, I pretty much skipped my turn for being on call. This week I'm paying the piper as I was on call last week and now again this week. Hopefully things won't go south and it will be a quite week. Time will tell.
The rain is headed back in tonight but it doesn't look like the low pressure system plans to camp out over Empire, Alabama. Hopefully it will blow through and be gone before the weekend.
I'm going to kick back tonight and relax for a change.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Heist

A local business that sells my book reported this week that someone had stolen a copy. The proprietor thought I would be upset, but I actually smiled at the news. I know it’s a little weird but on some level, I was flattered that someone would go to the trouble of stealing “Remembering Big”. Apparently, the thief was not armed and fortunately no one was hurt during the caper.
I would like to say to all potential thieves out there that you don’t have to knock off local businesses to get your hands on a copy of my book. You can check it out of any local library. If the book is always checked out, I can donate a few more copies in the interest of lowering the crime rate here in our home town. I’m sure the couches and chairs at the local library are more comfortable than what you’d find in the slammer.
I flipped back through “Remembering Big” again wondering to myself what stories could have pushed someone to break the law in this great state of Alabama. I mean, the story “Daddy Taught Me How To Cuss” was pretty funny, and “Old Buddy Changed My Mind” generated a lot of e-mails from readers all over the county, but were they enough to make someone snap and break the Eighth Commandment — Thou Shalt Not Steal? It’s hard to say.
Jilda said mirthfully that a homeless person probably wandered in from the streets looking for kindling to heat up a can of Vienna Sausages. She must have seen the injury in my eyes because she quickly amended her explanation to say “or they probably stole it to sell so they could buy food for their kids.” It was a nice recovery but the damage had already been done. That little remark will have a negative impact on the value of her Christmas gift this year.
I’m guessing the truth is, someone decided on the spur of the moment they wanted the book, so they picked it up and walked out. I will survive the loss of a book, but I know first hand that being the victim of theft is no laughing matter.
In 1971, a few months before I was drafted into the United States Army, a thief broke my heart when he stole my prized 1965 Impala SS off Second Avenue in Birmingham. I will never forget the feeling of walking out of the store and realizing that my pride and joy was gone forever. The police came and wrote a report, but the officer said bluntly, “You’ll never see that car again.” And I never did.
Several years later around Christmas, someone burglarized our house They stole electronics, videos, small appliances and Jilda’s class ring. We both felt violated because someone had come into our house uninvited and gone through our personal space.
The loss of our possessions was bad, but “things” can be replaced. When the thieves broke into our house, they took something much more precious than our VCR.
They stole our peace of mind and sense of security that we felt in the privacy of our home.
The next day, I called ADT and had hidden cameras and security equipment installed in our house.
I hope the person who lifted my book reads it. I honestly hope the words, put a smile on their face and somehow adds a little light in their lives. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if they read my story about “Life Decisions”, and the words somehow moved them to make a fundamental change in their life and they started giving instead of taking?

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