Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Trying to encourage young folks into action is tricky business. First of all it involves work. For most kids after being indentured servants to their parents for years, they are leery of grown-ups who are trying to get them to do something that doesn't involve fun.
While visiting my cousin Joe this past weekend I had an opportunity to play a little music with Janet's brother Ron. His grandson, who is in the sixth grade was there. "Have you ever thought about playing the guitar?" He scooted away from me as if I'd passed gas. "No, I'm serious. You can learn to play," I said. He told me that he was learning to play the trombone in band. "That's nice, but you can take a guitar to parties," I explained. "Girls love guitar players," I continued. "That may not be a big deal right now, but I promise you it will in the near future."
It was a smooth exchange and I think he realized "what's in it for him." That's important.
As I mentioned last night, I also did the "uncle" talk to Joe Joe, Jake, and Jake's girlfriend Tina. They put the "shields up" mechanism into place when I started talking about continuing school.
In retrospect, what I should have encouraged them to do is to figure out what they love doing and pursue that. School is important, but it's not the only way to learn. I'm reading the biography of Abe Lincoln and he was self taught. He learned everything from books.
I told the kids in an email today that they should do something every day to improve their skills. The self-help guru Jim Rohn said "If you work hard on your job, you'll make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune." I don't know that there is better advice to give young folks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Heading Home

I'm on my way home from Tampa this evening. I had another good visit with Joe and the fam today. I had an uncle-y (I know that's not a word Jake) talk with Joe's two sons Jake and Joe Joe. Both boys are extremely smart, and I think they can do remarkable things with their lives.
Neither of them are currently in school so I had to get after them a little. As the old saying goes, "The more you learn, the more you earn." Joe Joe is good with numbers and is interested in business. Jake is a natural born inventor. I have high hopes for them both.
I had work to do last night so I decided to get a hotel room with wireless connectivity. I managed to do some writing and attend to some urgent things at work.
This morning I swung by Joe's house to pick up Jake and his girlfriend Tina. We headed down to the local Hardee's for some gravy and biscuit. There's nothing like a cathead biscuit and gravy to shut folks up. All you could hear was a little grunting now and then.
It was a good visit and I'm glad I spent time with my old cuz. I know he has a tough road ahead so please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quick Trip

Sleep was fitful last night. I knew I'd have to rise early and make my way to the airport and I don't really trust our new alarm clock. When we got the clock a few weeks ago, I had to read the book to set the clock to our normal wake up time. It works great but I've lost the book and I'm not sure how to set the clock to a new time. Anyhow, I set my iPhone and my PDA all for 3:30 a.m. When 3:30 came, the bedroom sounded like a clock store with one device after another alarming. I though Jilda was going to smother me with a pillow.
I made the trip to the airport without delay and had only about a 20 minute wait at the gate. The flight was delayed for about 30 minutes when a young woman who thought she had conquered her fear of flying realized she had not. She freaked when the plane backed away from the gate. There was a flurry of activity at her seat by stewardesses, one even tried to give her the "I conquered the fear of flying wings" but no dice.
The captain had no choice but to taxi back to the gate and let her get off. Thankfully no one complained loudly so hopefully she wasn't too embarrassed. I'm holding out hope that she will fly someday.
It was raining when we landed in Tampa but as I aimed the rental north, the clouds sped off to the east and the sun came out strong. I rolled the windows down and breathed in the warm Florida air.
When I arrived at Joe and Janet's house I was greeted by their dogs. They looked really mean, but like my lovely spouse, I'm a dog person and they recognized it at once. I petted them both up and after that we were bud's.
When I walked in, Joe had a big smile on his face that has been his friend all his life. Joe has lost a lot of weight, but he still has fire in his eyes. We sat and talked for a long while about friends, family and old times.
A few years ago, I borrowed a bunch of family pictures from my mom and scanned them onto my computer. As I was making my plans to visit Joe, I remembered the photos so I saved them on my thumb drive and brought them with me. We sat for a while and looked through the photographs.
Janet's mom and dad live a few doors away and they invited us to lunch with them. As always I pigged out. After lunch, we sat out on their front porch and enjoyed the warm breeze blowing from toward the Gulf of Mexico. Janet's brother was in town and came up with a couple guitars so we played old country and Gospel songs until our fingers hurt. It was a delightful afternoon.
I'll spend some time with them tomorrow before heading back north the Alabama.
I know I've only been away from home one day, but I miss my spouse, and Ol Buddy The Wonder Dog.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Truer Words

Today turned out to be a beautiful day. It started out questionable with rain pounding on our window before dawn, but the clouds had moved off to the east by the time the morning coffee finished brewing. When the chickens came down from their roost in the huckleberry bush in the front yard, the sun was poking through the clouds.
The Overalls played at the Spring Fling at the United Methodist Church in Jasper today. Our good friends Tom and Judy, Brenda and Danny invited us to play at the fund raiser. We had a chance to howdy up with some delightful people. I had a booth and almost sold out of books. I was amazed and humbled.
We ate a late lunch at a local Mexican restaurant called Cabos with Steve (the third Overall) and Judy. We had a leisurely meal and visited for a long time. Afterwards, we headed home and took a nap. My friend Joe Smith has a rule, and I embrace it whole heartedly - A Saturday afternoon without a nap is a wasted Saturday.
Truer words were never spoken.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Old Days

If pollen were topsoil, I could have planted a crop of potato's on the hood of my truck today. I started sneezing when I walked out the door this evening.
Thank goodness the rain washed a great deal of pollen away the last few days but mother nature is persistent.
I don't recall springtime making me sneeze when I was a kid. I was outside every day until dark unless it was storming or too cold for long underwear. I'm guessing it has something to do with living and working in a controlled environment. We must have built up some kind of resistance with the constant exposure.
I'm flying down to Tampa on Sunday to visit my cousin Joe. I haven't seen him in a few years and as I mentioned in an earlier post, he is going through a tough time now.
I just remembered a funny story about Joe that happened when we were kids. He spent New Years with us and we went to Crawswell's Store and loaded up on firecrackers and bottle rockets. Joe was wearing one of those heavy sweatshirts with a hood and a hand warmer pockets in the front. When it got cold you could poke your hands inside and warm them up.
Joe stored his firecrackers in the hand warmer pocket so that he had quick access to the fireworks. If you turned your back on him a second, you'd have a Black Cat firecracker on your shoe.
He had just dropped a firecracker down an empty crayfish (we called them crawfish) hole and put his hand back in the pocket. He didn't realize that he was still holding the match. Normally it would have been smothered out, but this little match hung on and lit the fuse of pack that was till wound together by the fuses. All of a sudden he was dancin' and holding that shirt away from his stomach. The firecrackers sounded like a machine gun.
It was a cold day but that sweatshirt came off and he stomped it till the fireworks show ended.
I laughed so hard that I had to lie on the ground. He had a few blisters on his hand and stomach but otherwise he was unhurt. He did have a hard time hearing until the ringing sound subsided.
Anyhow, it will be good to see Joe again and reminisce about the good old days.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Joke's on Me

I wrote a really funny column for the newspaper this week. It was an April Fool column that was a hoot. I sent it in this morning with a smile on my face. I got a note back from the editor this afternoon saying the publisher didn't want to run it. I was perplexed.
I think we're losing our sense of humor. Not sure if it's the struggle to always be politically correct, or if hard times have made people forget how to laugh. At any rate, I found myself writing a new column tonight and for the first time since I've been writing the column, I'm past the deadline.
I think the pendulum is swinging back towards good times again. I also think it's time we all lightened up and had a little fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rainy Day Dogwood

The Interstate was a parking log this evening on the way home. It's good that I wasn't in a hurry because the only way out of it would have been a helicopter.
I passed the time by listening to Lincoln, which is a biography of our 16th president. I've already learned a great deal about him that I did not know. I realized that he was an extraordinary writer - you can't read the Gettysburg Address and not understand that, but he was a painfully shy man, especially around women. His self image, or at least what has been described this far, is almost nonexistent.
The author says that he loved Shakespeare and could recite most of his work by heart. He was fascinated, from a young age, with the written word. He immersed himself in books and language.
Lincoln is a fascinating character and I am really enjoying this book.
Traffic finally began to flow and I made it home before dark. I managed to snap a picture in our front yard of our dogwood in the rain. It has finally begun opened up. A few more days of warm sunshine and it will be as big as an old timey white house.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Stuff

I worked from home today and for my afternoon break I did a walking meditation. I didn't get in a hurry and simply walked to the barn and beyond observing. The color is changing daily. You can almost see the brown of winter flowing into green. The dogwoods are only days away from turning into white blossom clouds. Even the oak, which is a fairly conservative tree is putting on fresh shoots. Communing with nature drops my blood pressure by twenty points.
We've started germinating seeds and we have a table full of squash, cucumber, tomato and lettuce.
I would transplant them to the garden but the weatherman says we'll get six to eight inches of rain in the next few days. Haste makes waste so we'll nurse the plants a while longer before committing them to the earth.
I'm making arrangements to fly down to Florida on Sunday to see my cousin Joe. I can't stay long because of work commitments, but I want to see him and let him know how much he means to me. He's going through a very difficult time right now and I wish there was some way I could lighten his load.
I'm headed for the deck to catch the last few moments of light and daydream about fresh homegrown tomatoes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Jilda

Today is my lovely spouse's 27th birthday. She had to work, but she had a great day! She got cards, gifts, and phone calls from friends and family.
Our first date was in May of 1968. She'd just turned sixteen and she looked like a New York model. She's one of the most creative people I have ever met. She made a lot of her own clothes back then and has always had a flair for fashion. Forty one years later she's still a looker and people are amazed when she tells them how old she is.
We would have gone out tonight but she loves the Monday night yoga class she teaches so we'll defer dining out to another day. I owe her a meal at Niki's. That's fortunate because Niki's happens to be my favorite restaurant too. I can almost taste the seafood dinner.
So Happy Birthday to Jilda.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We walked the dogs this evening and the dogwood blossoms are peaking out. They usually show out at Easter but the holiday is late this year.
It seems like the warmth of the last few days has kicked nature in overdrive. I saw a bumble bee as big as your thumb looking for a place in the barn to bore a nest. Once the start boring you can put your ear to the wood and it sounds like a chainsaw. Not sure how they manage but they do.
On a sad note, I have first cousins on both sides of my family that have cancer and the prognosis is not good for either of them.
Both Joe and Mickey are like brothers to me. All three of us are near the same age and we spent a great deal of time together when we were younger.
Getting older is tough. The constant aches and pains and other ailments of age I can deal with, but when friends and family get sick and there is absolutely nothing you can do to help, it's brutal.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Spring

I couldn't take the pressure. After coffee this morning, I went out to the shed to fire up the old Troybilt. I decided to till up our garden spot.
I had the tiller worked on last fall and the guys did a great job. All I had to do this morning is put a little gas in the tank, pulled the cord one time and it sprang to life. Before the maintenance it wouldn't stay in gear without holding down the engagement lever. I looked a little foolish hopping behind the tiller with one foot on the lever and the other trying to stay upright. I'd till a little and cuss a little. A video of those episodes would have hit the top ten list before you could say candid camera.
Today when I engaged the lever, that baby stayed in gear and the tines bit deep into the earth. Immediately I could smell the rich soil. Earthworms scurried....well, that's probably a stretch, they inched out of the way.
The chickens watched the operation with interest. They spend their lives scratching for bugs and worms. I could almost hear Clyde the Rooster say - "Hey dude, can I borrow that tiller when you're through!"
We play at Local Color tonight. It's the first gig of the spring for us. The last time we practiced we were rusty so y'all say a little prayer for the home team. We're also doing an early birthday celebration for Jilda tonight so if you live in the Springville area, come by and say hello.
Happy Spring

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fear of Failure

Things came together at work today and after months of fretting we transitioned to a new ticketing system. There were a few bumps and a snafu or two, but for the most part it just flowed.
I think the main reason people fret is because they imagine the worst possible thing happening. They fear things will fall apart and you will be viewed as a failure. I've studied enough self help books, tapes, movies, and seminars to know that people often fail. Walt Disney and Thomas Edison were prodigious failures. Yet they ultimately succeeded because giving up was simply not in their vocabulary.
I believe that Fear of failure has dashed more dreams than any thing else since the beginning of time. People had rather live a life of mediocrity than be embarrassed by failure.
Not sure why I veered off in this direction on this beautiful first day of spring, but there it is. I'm too whupped by my fear of failure to think of another topic.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I know very little about golf but one of my favorite authors just finished a book called "Downhill Lie" about his return to golf after a thirty year hiatus. This book, like most of his other books, is a scream. It made me want to take up the sport.
He is apparently an extremely erratic player and he detailed his plight in great detail. The language is a little racy in spots but this was an enjoyable read.
All of Carl's books are set in South Florida. His first book Double Whammy was about professional fishing and televangelists. Parts of that book made me laugh until I cried. I always hate when his books end.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Miracles Never Cease

After fretting over the thermostat for days. I looked at all the wiring diagrams I could find and it became clear to my that my nephew Haven who is a handyman extraordinaire, had wired the device correctly.
He tried in vain to program the box to function as advertised but the a/c would not come on. I finally got a spare moment last night and I started on page one and verified the wiring diagram which looked less like hieroglyphics and more like a simple wiring scheme. I then proceeded to program the device one step at a time according to the book. When I finished, I clicked the DONE button and set the desired temperature several degrees cooler than the current temp showing on the device. I stood back and held my breath.
A few moments later, the reading on the thermostat changed to indicate that the a/c had been engaged and then it clicked on. I warily walked over to the vent to see if the air was hot or cold and to my great satisfaction, it was cold. I was ecstatic.
So now I'm considering adding heating and air conditioning repair to my resume :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


We've had the good fortune of mild weather the last few week. I've had thermostat troubles and they are still unresolved.
I've contacted no less than six a/c guys and it's still broke. I'm guessing a small job like this isn't work their time so they've all volunteered to help walk me through the wiring routine but none want to come here.
I've got one more shot before I bite the bullet and call the power company repairman out. I've dreaded doing that because I fear I'll have to tap my ailing 401k to pay the tab. But the bottom line is this - if I plan to reach my 35th wedding anniversary in May of this year, I've got to get the heat and a/c fix.
We had our traditional St. Patty's Day meal tonight. Corned beef and cabbage with potato's on the side. Of course I had to stop and bet a batch of Guinness to toast the Irish. After I get through here, I'm retiring to the TV room to watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I love traditions.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Saint Patty's Day

Saint Patty’s Day has always been a favorite holiday for my wife Jilda and me but we weren’t sure why. A few years ago when we had an opportunity to travel overseas, we chose Ireland. After spending ten days in that lush green paradise, with some of the kindest, most fun-loving people on the planet, we finally understood.

We flew out of the international terminal of Atlanta Hartsfield Airport one evening and headed east over the Atlantic. I had the window seat and Jilda sat in the middle. A priest sat next to her. After a while, we all struck up a conversation and he gave us pointers on places to visit. He told us some of the funniest Irish jokes and limericks I’ve ever heard. We both fell asleep smiling.

Several people who had visited the island recommended we take one of those planned tours, but both Jilda and I are fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of people so we decided to do our own tour.

We got off the plane that morning and rented a car at the airport. I got into the Opel but quickly realized the steering wheel was on the passenger side of the car. I had to shift gears with my left hand, but fortunately the gas, clutch and brakes were all in the right place.

For most people, driving on the wrong side of the road feels strange and unfamiliar, but that’s where growing up in Walker County came in handy. I’d had a great deal of experience driving on the wrong side of the road.

We had a road map but no itinerary, so we simply wandered through the countryside. We were stunned at every turn by the sights, sounds, and colors.

We rambled aimlessly for a few days, eating at small out-of-the way places and sleeping at bed and breakfast inns. The only thing we had on our calendar was to meet up with our old friend Dan Crary who was performing in Kilkenny. He was on his annual tour of Ireland.

Dan Crary is not a household name, but for bluegrass lovers and guitar pickers, he is a star. We met Dan at a Horse Pens 40 festival back in the seventies and we struck up a friendship that has lasted through the years. We felt blessed that he asked us to join him for a couple of gigs.

After we said our goodbyes, we continued our journey though small towns and villages. We played our songs in parks and pubs throughout the country.

We visited old churches, castles and cemeteries that seemed as old as time itself. For a country that is roughly the size of South Carolina, there must be a million miles of rock walls.

One sunny afternoon we sat on a park bench eating our lunch in a small community near Tullamore. All around us, young children played. Jilda made the observation that there was not an adult in sight. Ireland reminded us of the south in the 1950’s.

The sights and sounds of Ireland were spectacular but the truly remarkable thing was the people we met. They love music and telling stories. They are quick to laugh and to tell you a joke. The people we met were thoughtful, intelligent and well read. They seemed to know more about American politics than we did. They made us feel like old friends.

As the airplane departed, we both took one last look at the Emerald Isle. I noticed that Jilda had tears in her eyes. She explained that it felt like we were leaving home. We both understood at that moment why we love St. Patty’s Day.

May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, May the rain fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Jilda and I were walking today after breakfast. The rain ended just before daylight and the ground was still quite soggy but we needed to work off the biscuits we'd just inhaled. The sun broke through the clouds and although the breeze out of the west was pretty cool, it was great walking weather.
On our second trip down our walking path Jilda saw something by the side of the trail. A closer look revealed a bird nest of some kind. I think it's a hummingbird nest left over from last year, but I'm not sure. I snapped a picture with the iPhone to post on the blog.
We had practice with The Overalls this evening but none of us were very sharp. I forgot words to songs I've been doing for years and my fingers felt shorter for some reason. Some days are like that. The upside, if there was one, is that Jilda and Steve were having similar issues so no one could give the other a hard time.
After practice we had supper. For dessert Jilda made Giardelli brownies with vanilla ice cream. We had planned to practice a little longer but after supper we ran totally out of steam.
If any of you are out and about next Saturday, we are playing at Local Color in Springville, Alabama. It's a restaurant that sells art and really good food. We'll be celebrating Jilda's birthday, so y'all come.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Tax Man Commeth

I've been dreading doing our taxes this year. Changing companies, the book, we sold a little stock earlier in the year and some other squirrely transactions that can be difficult to document.
There's one thing about it, I claim everything. A lot of my book sales were in cash and it would be fairly simple to disguise some of that, but I'm a terrible liar. If I did something illegal and we got audited I'd be sweating like a fat man in spandex bodysuit. It's simply not worth cheating in my taxes. They are what they are. Sometimes I get money back and sometimes I have to pay. But the thing is, we live in a great country full of opportunity. There are people all over the world that would love to pay the tax, if they had the opportunity to make money.
It took several hours, but I'm on the downhill stretch now. I've got to get a form from my old company showing what I paid for the stock that I sold and I'm ready to go.
I hope you all have a great Saturday.

Friday, March 13, 2009


A cold rain moved in this morning and the short walk to the truck chilled me to the bone. I cranked up the heater and by the time I got to the main road, my shoes were smoking.
My truck didn't come with all the bells and whistles, but it has a great stereo, air conditioner and heater. It's been my experience that as long as the vehicle is running and has those things it suits me just fine.
We've had thermostat issues at my house. About a month ago, I replaced an ancient thermostat at the house and it seemed to be working great! But a few days ago when it turned off warm, I bumped the air conditioning on and the house only got hotter. I checked the settings and where the digital readout had read 78 degrees a few moments before, it now read 85. Yikes. I quickly turned everything off and went for the instruction manual.
As it turns out, the thermostat I bought wasn't designed for heat pumps. Dang it man! So, I went back to the Home Depot and found one suitable for my unit.
When I read the quick start installation booklet, I realized quickly that I was in over my head. I spent several days trying to find someone who knows how to wire thermostats. Finally my brother-in-law and my nephew Haven agreed to wire it up but they were covered up until the weekend.
Thankfully it turned off a little cooler so we've made it through with our fireplace. I'll be glad to have the unit back in working order.
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watching the Birds

I'm hoping we don't have an arctic blast before spring. I know my blueberry plants are young and inexperienced so they were out of the gate the first warm day in March. My young peach tree is not far behind. I know both are anxious to please, but I worry.
Easter falls on April 12 this year which is later than normal. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but my grandparents always fretted about planting crops unless Easter fell at the proper time.
My great grandmother always monitored the activities of squirrels and blackbirds. They spent countless hours pouring over the almanac. "We plan corn when the signs are in the knees," Granny Watson croaked, as she dipped a lid-full of Bruton snuff behind her bottom lip.
Today we have Geo-positioning satellites, advanced soil conditioning technologies, agricultural methodologies, and state of the art weather forecasting computers. But none of these seem to be able to grow gardens as lush and fruitful as the ones my grandparents grew.
So tomorrow I'm running by the bookstore and buying an almanac. I plan to spend time this weekend watching the birds.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I finished a book by Stewart Woods today called Chiefs. It's a story about police chiefs in a small Georgia town. Some of the dialog in the book made me uncomfortable when it addressed the issue of race. The author cut very close to the bone, but he wrote the truth even though the book was fiction.
The story was woven around a cast of characters that had good hearts and so the story ended great. It's a book that was hard to put down.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Late For Dinner

I stood on the deck just before dinner tonight. The aroma of baking cornbread made it difficult not to dive head first into the big ol pan of butter beans sitting on an eye of the stove and eat myself into a stupor.
I sat there for a long while enjoying the evening. Jilda was in the zone assembling her world famous coleslaw in the crystal punchbowl that was a gift from her mom.
I could see the almost-full moon peaking over the horizon. From behind the barn, I could hear Mr. Owl flirting with his mate somewhere off in the distance. I'm sure they were planning a rendezvous for later tonight.
I love night sounds. I bought a CD once called Nature Sounds. It had thunderstorms, the ocean surf, a babbling brook, and night sounds. I can think of no more relaxing sounds.
I would still have been out there except for the call to dinner. As I always say, you can call me anything, just don't call me late for dinner.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Springtime down on the farm

We almost have winter whipped. I have to say the recent stretch of cold gloomy days has had me ricocheting off the walls. When the sun finally returned this week, I sat out on the deck for a while to bleach some of the water spots off my soul, left there by the rain. I found myself thinking, “I can’t wait till it’s spring on the farm.”
My spirits usually begin to lift in late February when the buttercups and yellow bells begin to bloom. By the time the wild honeysuckles down behind the barn begin their show, I will feel like I have a front row seat in heaven.
It was during the spring when I first set foot on the property where we now live. I worked at The Community News at the time and someone had told me that an elderly lady wanted to sell some land up on Phillipstown Road in Empire.
I drove up during my lunch hour and walked around the place. It was a warm day and I could see bees scurrying and butterflies fluttering around on the warm breeze. The road to the barn wound under a lush canopy of oak, hickory and poplar trees. It felt ten degrees cooler under that shade.

I sat on the bank of a small spring-fed creek that runs through the hollow and it felt like home. I knew immediately that I would own this place someday.

I wasn’t sure how we were going to swing it since my wife Jilda and I were broke as the Ten Commandments. But the thought of owning this land consumed my mind.

I could see all kinds of possibilities. “I will put our garden there, and over here we’ll plant the apple and peach trees,” I envisioned. I fretted that if someone else scooped it up, they would cut the timber, scrape it flat, and this little piece of heaven would be lost forever.

A few days later, we had dinner with Jilda’s parents and mentioned that the land with an old house and barn was for sale.

The next day, Jilda’s dad drove up to have a look around and he fell in love with the property too. The fortunate thing was, he had the money and he bought it on the spot.

Ruby and Sharky lived here for a while, but as their health deteriorated, they decided to move closer into town.

They deeded us a lot near the road where we built our house. And before he passed away, he made arrangements for the remainder of the land be deeded to us. We have lived here since 1980.

After I started to work with the phone company, I could easily have been like many of my friends and co-workers and moved south of Birmingham, but it just didn't seem to fit.

With today’s economy and people struggling to keep a roof over their heads, staying put here in Empire seems like the smartest move we ever made.

Our house is small by today’s standards, but it is just right for two people and a bunch of dogs. And when the wildflowers and dogwoods burst into bloom in the spring of the year, there is no place on earth I’d rather be.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chicken Tales

I feel like a goob and a simpleton. I thought the daylight would be earlier, but the additional daylight comes at the end of the day, not the beginning. Oh well. That will give me a little daylight after work to do a few things around the house.
I realized a few days ago that one of our bantam hens is sitting on her eggs. She only comes out every few days to eat and get water. That is one angry gallus domesticus, when he comes out. The rooster always runs over to welcome her but she flogs him mercilessly and he heads for cover. She lets everyone know that she peeved by raising a ruckus, scratching in leaves and flapping her wings. She sounds like a small helicopter with a bad rotor.
When I see her come up for food, I always hustle inside and grab her a scoop of corn and make sure there's water in her pan. She pecks the ground furiously, drinks water like shes heading into a desert for a month without water, and before you know it, she seems to disappear into thin air.
She's been sitting about a week so I've walked around to all her hiding places to see how many eggs she's on, but I have not been able to track her back to her hiding place.
Today when she came out, I had planned to watch her carefully but the phone rang and when I walked back out a short time later, she was already gone again.
I walked over to lock the gate to the back yard and I happened to look under our propane gas tank. There she was. She's the color of leaves so she's easy to miss.
I'll have a look tomorrow evening to see how many chicks we'll have coming in a few weeks.
If she has a bunch, I think we'll have a chicken sale.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Time's They Are A Changin'

The time changes tonight. I'll lose an hour of sleep, but when I wake up at my normal time tomorrow, I'll see something besides the moon and stars. This is good news for the Rickster, because I've fallen off the exercise wagon. I'm getting no where near the amount of exercise I need.
Walking first thing in the morning works best for me because it gets my juices flowing and I'm more prepared to face the day.
The weather today has been delightful. I looked out the window as I was pouring my morning coffee and the sky was overcast and it looked like rain. After sunrise, the clouds burned away and it looked like spring.
Another day or two like today and the bluebirds will be moving in. I saw them out last weekend checking out the lodging to make sure I had cleaned them properly. I plan to put up a few more houses tomorrow. I'll try to grab some pictures of my indigo colored friends.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Afternoons

I love Fridays. In years past when I worked in Birmingham and came home on Friday evenings, people would be lining up at beer joints on the county line to cash checks and buy beer.
That was when Walker County was dry and Jefferson County was wet. So if anyone who lived in Walker County, but worked in Jefferson County wanted beer for the weekend, the county line was the best place to stop.
There was a huge package store on the crest of Green Top Hill that had a lake out back. In the summer, men and women who had labored all week would back there cars up in a line next to the lake and go inside the package store, cash their checks and buy beer. They would then sit on the hoods of their cars and tailgates of their trucks and visit with their friends until dark.
I was too young to buy beer at that time but the people sitting next to the lake always looked like they were having the time of their lives. Kind of like a racetrack party without the racetrack.
Walker County voted to go wet in the city limits of Jasper and the block parties became a thing of the past.
Today I drove home by way of the 78 highway and I passed by the old package store with the lake out back. The store which had been open for as long as I remember is now closed, but the memory of those Friday evening tailgate parties put a smile on my face.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Car Bling

Whatever happened to car bling? I mean the good stuff. Steering knobs, fuzzy dice, fender skirts and curb feelers?
In the day you could have a mediocre car if you had the right bling. It also helped if it would burn rubber.
I don't have a picture of my very first car. It was a 1946 Plymouth Coupe. My brother owned it before me and spent most of his net worth on a maroon metal flake paint job. He also got sheepskin seat covers, moon hubcaps, chrome tailpipes and a steering knob with a small picture of a nude woman that looked 3-D (no pun intended) if the sun hit it just right.
It looked great, but unfortunately it didn't run that well. The car spent most of the time parked in the driveway.
Neal was broke and needed some money and the bank of Mama loaned it to him. When he couldn't pay, she foreclosed on the Plymouth.
In reality, she gave he plenty of time to fork over the money but his priorities changed and so when I turned fifteen she gave me the old Plymouth as a birthday present.
I got daddy to pull me over to Cecil Kitchen's shop (the local mechanic) and he did his magic on the old coupe.
I was a hit at Dora High. The old beast was slow, but it made up for it in class and bling.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Jilda headed out of town this evening for a yoga class. I'm here alone with the dogs tonight eating TV dinners and writing. I've struggled lately with my writing. It seems to happen every now and then. The muse takes a vacation and leaves me high a dry.
I am listening to a really good book now by Steward Woods called "Chiefs." It's about police cheives in a small Georgia town.
The racial language makes me uncomfortable, but Woods nails the south during that time periode.
I'm about a third of the way through the book and so far it's very good. More later.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Big Fly

I was sitting here working on a mind map for my column this week and contemplating ideas for my blog when a fly as big as a bat buzzed by my ear and landed on my screen. I tried in vain to shoo him off.  He would buzz away for a moment and then he was back as if to say "Hey pop, what time is supper?" 
I went to the pantry and rummaged for the fly swatter.  I gripped it in my hand and swung it a few times to warm up.  Ol' Buddy pinned his ears back because he didn't like the looks of that swatter one bit. I'm guessing he had flashback to when he lived with his first Mama Ruby (my wife's mother).  She kept the pup in line with a swatter just like the one I was waving around.  
I headed back to my office and was faced with a dilemma.  I had a clean shot at the fly, but I was afraid it would leave a greasy spot on my monitor...a spot that would not be much fun cleaning off. 
Plan B. I swiped the swatter menacingly close to the fly.  He got the message and launched off the screen in and made a b-line for my head. I dodged and started flailing at the beast with the swatter.  He must have thought it was a game because he swooped and dodged around the swatter.  I knocked a picture frame off my office desk and almost killed my lamp.  The fly buzzed my ear tauntingly.  
It was then that Buddy scurried under the desk and watched from behind the safety of the wastebasket.
Mr. Fly's luck ran out when he zigged when he should have zagged.  I heard him connect with the plastic of the swatter and the next thing that went through his mind was his rear end, when it hit the window pane.
I don't like killing critters, but flies cannot live inside my house.  It's a hard and fast rule that is not negotiable.  So RIP mister fly. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Beast

My stomach is making noises like my coffee maker. Normally that's not an issue but tonight in yoga class during relaxation, when everyone else was blissing out it was distracting.
I've had ulcers in the past and I have a sneaky feeling they've decided to make a comeback in 2009. I'm excited.
We had to run over and help my sister put my mom to bet tonight so I was late getting so this will be a short post.
I'll be back on my stomach meds tomorrow and hopefully quite the internal beast.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Alabama Snow

Alabama snows are great! They usually come in before daylight and lay a few inches on the ground and by that afternoon the sun comes out, the snow is gone and it's almost warm enough to swim.
The picture to the left is of our niece Samantha and her son Jordan. He was one a few weeks ago and this is his first snow. I even got the opportunity to wear my beret, which rarely happens.
The dogs had a large time. It is a hoot watching them run and catching snowflakes in their mouths.
We had pelted each other with snowballs but Jordan failed to see the fun in that exercise. We also made snow angels and a big old bowl of snow ice cream.

It was our intention to have some lunch and come back out to build a snowman, but the sun came out and the snow was gone before we could roll up a snow dude.

I thought Jordan would be more freaked about the white stuff but he took it all in stride.
I burned all the pictures to a CD and gave them to Samantha for her baby album.
This evening, the sun was out in full force and the sky was blue as a swimming pool.
All in all, it was a fun day here is Alabama.

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