Thursday, April 30, 2009

May Day

Tomorrow is May Day. That used to be a big deal in grammar school. When it fell on Friday, it was a REALLY big deal.
Teachers had long since given up the hope of keeping a lid on things in class. Spring fever and the fact that school would be out in a matter of weeks changed the chemistry of kids.
I can remember the day having a carnival atmosphere. We played outside for most of the day. The concession stand stayed open for most of the day and we all tanked up on CoColas made from real sugar.
Another favorite of mine was Sugar Babies which was pure sugar, some kind of caramel and a substance akin to road tar. When I was in the third grade, I had a mouth full of Sugar Babies and it pulled a tooth right out of the socket. It was a small price to pay for such sugary bliss.
I took a vacation day tomorrow. I might cruise the local stores to see if I can find me a big ol' bag of the SB's and see what damage I can inflict on my dental work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bird Surprise

I worked from home today and I spent some time out on the side porch. I had finished up work and was sitting there listening to the sound of the wind in the chimes.
All of a sudden I heard something rattling against the screen. I looked over toward the door and a small wren was inside the screen and it looked like she was trying to get out. I stood to open the door and my little feathered friend scooted out a small slit in screen.
I sat back down and didn't think a lot about it but I noticed the bird lingering around on water feature just outside the screen. When I looked closer, it has a small worm in its mouth. I thought for a second and realized she had a nest nearby. I started looking around the porch and found the tiny nest tucked behind my fly rod and reel that hangs on the wall of the porch.
I quickly gathered up my stuff and retreated into the house. I peaked out a moment later and both the male and female shot in through the tiny slit in the screen to feed the babies.
I'll try to slip up close enough to get a picture tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good to be Alive

At lunch today I walked across the parking lot to my bank which sits nearby. I slid my sunglasses in place and looked toward the heavens. The sky was swimming pool blue. The scent of freshly mowed grass hung on the air and smelled as good to me as bread baking.
I felt lighter and more alive. There was a mockingbird that dressed me down for having the audacity to walk under his tree. I turned the tables and made some whistling sounds which he expertly imitated and when he got bored, he let out a combinations of whistles that sounded like it could have been profanity.
"You silly, person! Your feeble whistles sounds like a drunken sailor with chapped lips," is what I imagined he was saying. I smiled and walked on.
I made my deposit and ambled back toward my building. I passed a shady knoll and decided to sit for a moment.
Even with people around, the sights and sounds of spring were remarkable. I could easily have laid back on the grass and took a nap but I was afraid someone would pass and think I'd dropped dead and call 911.
Instead, I forced myself to get to my feet head back inside. Tonight, I'm writing from the side porch. I think my column for this coming Sunday's paper will be about porch sitting weather.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Small Price to Pay

It was in the eighties outside when I left work at 4:30 today. My black truck had absorbed enough heat to melt what's left of the polar icecap. I rolled down the windows while the ac struggled to catch up.
Even in the city the air smelled fresh, so I left the windows down to soak up a little more fresh air.
The dogwood flowers have mostly fallen off the trees, but I passed places where the rhododendrons were showing out with scarlet blooms as big as basketballs.
I've really enjoyed being outside the last few days. Since Jilda didn't feel well this weekend, I worked in the yard cleaning up a winter and springs' worth of limbs, pine cones and sweet gum balls. I started the fire early Sunday morning and tended it most of the day. What started out a mountain of woody debris, was reduced to a small mound of sparkling embers by bedtime.
I'm not a pyromaniac but there is something primal and soothing about tending a fire.
I showered before I went to bed and I was whupped. I don't think I tossed or turned one time during the night. I was afraid I'd be sore this morning but that wasn't the case. Even if I had been sore, it would have been a small price to pay.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Customer Service

In reading back over last nights blog entry, one may have gotten the impression that I let the power outage get my underwear in a wad.....actually, it did.
I was really frustrated. But here's the deal, it's not just Alabama Power. It seems to me that all big companies have abandoned the idea of customer service. Apparently it's too expensive.
You offshore the helpdesk to reduce costs. Costs are reduced because a lot of people hang up in frustration because either they don't understand the helpdesk person or the helpdesk person is obviously reading from a script and has not listened to one word of the description of your problem.
I think a company that understands this country's frustration with this issue could charge a premium for their products.
I would pay more for almost anything I buy if I knew I could get good service if the product ever had an issue.
One exception to this rule is Apple. I had a problem with my iPhone last week. For some reason the wireless feature stopped working. This meant that there were a lot of things I could not do with my phone when I was home.
I called in the Apple helpdesk and they had me try a few things. I had already tried them but it was obvious they weren't reading from a script.
They gave me a ticket and told me to set up an appointment a the local Apple store. I logged on to the Internet and set up an appointment for the next day.
I was somewhat leery because the appointment were 15 minutes a part. I thought to myself, how on earth can they diagnose my problem and fix it in 15 minutes. I had drawn a line in the sand and was going to demand a loaner phone if they had to send mine off.
My appointment was for 11 a.m. At three minutes till 11, they called my name. I walked to the counter and the young man asked for a description of the problem. I explained and he asked to see the phone. He did about 5 minutes of diags and said this is a defective unit. Let's get you a new one. He showed me how to delete all my private information and in less that 14 minutes I walked out of the store with a brand new phone.
I was blown away. They sent me a survey and asked if I was happy....if there was anything they could do differently to server me better.
As I read back over last night's post, I think all large corporations could learn something from Apple.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

POWER'S OFF AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have big companies gotten too big (and impersonal) for the business? Jilda has not been well for the last few days. We canceled a gig tonight which we have NEVER done before, because she has been fighting a flu-like illness.
I ran down to the Green Top to get her a BBQ salad for supper and she called on my cell on the way home to say our power is off again.
I rolled down the window of my truck and looked across the horizon at a cloudless sky. When I came to a stop in the yard, I sat for a long while and not a leaf was stirring and yet our power was off again.
The last time it was off, I asked the engineering department to contact me to discuss this chronic issue. A week has gone by and they never bothered to call. The company must have been too busy adjusting my bill as my payment went up $20 this past month. The company found time to make that happen.
I am very slow to anger, but I can tell you when I walked in the house, it was very warm. Jilda had the doors open but her face was red as a beat and she was having problem breathing.
I was not ugly to the clerk that took my outage report, but I asked to talk to a supervisor. When I spoke to her, I told her that I was VERY frustrated. I was not unkind but I was adamant, that I need some attention to my problem. She was very understanding and apologetics. She assured me she would have an engineer call me.
I'm giving them until Monday at high noon and if I haven't heard anything from Alabama Power, I'm going on the offensive.....the gloves are coming off.
I have to believe that if an executive in Alabama Power, or some government official were having these kinds of issues with their power, heads would roll. But I live in a rural area. We are the invisible people. "What pull can they have? They don't matter."
I'm really not sure what pull I have, but I can promise you this. They have not heard the last of Rick Watson

Friday, April 24, 2009


The storms last week brought into focus a stark reality that we've had to face. Both Jilda and I are treehuggers and hate cutting our leafy friends but we have several trees that are much too close to our house for comfort.
I called a tree guy and he's coming out Monday to do the deed. There will be two other trees that will have to be taken down, but the tree cutter was not comfortable taking them down. They grow within a V formed by power lines to coming to the house and lines going to the barn. He feels like he can keep the felled tree and limbs away from the house, but he said keeping them off the power lines would be tricky.
I've got a call in to the power company to see if they will do the deed. If not, I'll go to plan B. Not sure what plan B is at this time but I'll develop one when I need to.
Jilda is under the weather. I fear she caught the crud I had at the first of the week. With her lung condition, things like this tend to knock her for a loop. She's on the couch sleeping now.
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Visit Our Way West

I think Jilda caught what I had the last few days. She is not a happy camper. I had to stop by the drug store and pick up some meds her doc called in and I ran by the Yi Cuisine, the local Chinese Food place and picked up some hot and sour soup along with some broccoli chicken.
She's on the couch and out for the count I think.
I've received a lot of positive comments about the slide show I posted a few days ago. Doing slide shows is fun. I have a few more songs I think I'm going to do shows with.
It is rapidly approaching our 35th wedding anniversary. My company is still on strike alert so I won't be able to take vacation until the new contract is signed.
If we are still in limbo on May 5th we'll have to celebrate at home and go somewhere really special when things settle down.
We may go back to Ireland. Both Jilda and I have been longing to see the Emerald Isle again. The only thing that makes us hesitant is leaving Ol' Buddy for too long.
Maybe we'll just pack up the car, throw Buddy in the back and head out west until we run out of road.
We have friends in almost every state between here in California. We could spend a night here and spend a night there and visit our way west.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Change in Authority

Buddy is not the King of the Hill any more. Ever since we got Ol' Buddy, he's ruled the roost around here. The other dogs have come to understand this as a fact of life and instead of killing Ol' Buddy and hiding his body, they simply look over him. That's really not that hard to do because he's about the size of a Chihuahua with weight issues and the other dogs are almost as big as Jilda.
Anyhow, the pecking order has changed, but it's not the other dogs that's cause problems for Ol' Buddy, it's Clyde the Rooster.
Since Clyde has hit his stride he's learned that he can intimidate Ol' Buddy. If Buddy walks outside to bark up the UPS man, he is met at the end of the walk by Clyde who runs at him flapping his wings wildly and clucking as if he were deranged. The combination of the jumping, flapping and weird sounds is just too much for Ol Buddy to take so he tucks his tail and heads for the porch.
The other day I heard him whimpering and when I opened the door, Clyde had Ol' Buddy cornered. Buddy shot inside like a bullet. I guess Clyde was buoyed by his intimidation tactics because he had a run at me. I promptly launched him out into the yard with a quick kick to the chest with my shoeless foot.
So now, Clyde and I have an agreement. He'll let me live as long as I don't kick him into next week. Ol' Buddy wishes he were so lucky.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Have a Look and Listen

Jilda and I wrote a song a while back with a couple friends - Gary Walker and Kim Barb.
It's a song about missing children but we used the Natalee Holloway story as an anchor for the slideshow.
We've pitched the song to several artist but so far, no one has made the decision to record the song.
It seems a shame to let it reside here on my computer without being heard. Have a look and listen.
I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Week's Column

We camped this week without leaving the house. I knew we were in for an interesting time when I watched the local TV weatherman last Thursday. He was pointing excitedly to a big glob of red and yellow stuff on the radar map and jabbering like a spider monkey, about spring cold fronts and moisture coming in from the gulf.

I normally pay attention but predicting the weather accurately is like trying to pick next week’s Powerball numbers.

As it turns out, he was right this time because a front moved in Friday night and promptly blew our lights to somewhere in South Carolina.

We have huge trees in our yard and the wind made them sway like a barmaid listening to Elvis on the jukebox.

I have Alabama Power on speed dial because the service out where we live can be spotty at times. I was on the phone to their computer before the shadows faded from the walls.

The repairmen arrived sometime before the chickens got up and they had our lights on in time for our morning coffee.

We planned to plant our garden Saturday, but that darn weatherman was back on the tube saying we hadn’t seen the last of the bad weather and it was going to get cold again. So we sharpened our garden tools and drooled while browsing through our seed catalogs.

Easter Sunday was a beautiful morning and while we were reading our morning paper, I glanced out the front windows and noticed a tiny squirrel scampering down the power line in front of the house. Otherwise it was as still as a painting outside. At that moment, the power went off again. Now I’m not saying the squirrel caused the outage, but you have to admit it was an interesting coincident.

A while later, a technician showed up and reset the fuse up the road. I wanted to offer up the dancing squirrel idea as the root cause of the outage, but feared he might take a dim view of my theory and leave my lights off until Christmas.

Fast forward to Sunday night/Monday morning – distant thunder woke us up. I listened, as the sound of the wind got louder and louder. You could hear limbs cracking and debris rattling against the side of the house. Before the wind died down, our lights were out again for the third time in three days. I had a sinking feeling that the fix this time would take more than a few hours.

When I called in, you could tell their system was in overdrive. I got the definite impression that the computer which normally sounds friendly and cheerful, wanted to say “get in line Bubba, you’ll get juice when we get to you!”

I took off work on Monday and headed to the station to get gas for the generator. On the way out, I passed by downed power and cable TV lines.

I drove about ten miles to find a station that had electricity, and bought enough gas to feed the small generator for several days. The unit is only big enough to keep the fridge and freezer cold.

Just before I left for work on Tuesday morning, the phones, which depend on electricity to keep the batteries in the repeater boxes charged, died. So at that point, we had no power, no cable TV and no phones.

Later, I was eating lunch at my desk when Jilda called. She had headed out on errands and called to say, “I have some good news and some bad news.”

“Alabama Power is working on the lines on our road,” she said mirthfully. I waited for the other shoe to drop. “But apparently some of the work crews got off the edge of the road and broke the water main. Water is shooting up 30 feet into the air,” she said laughing hysterically. It struck me funny too and I spewed tea all over my desk and laughed until I had tears in my eyes.

So at that point, the situation was- we had no power, no cable, no phones or water. I told her to keep an eye out for locust or other pestilence in the area.

It’s funny now, but I know these “weather events” are no fun for all the utility people who work day and night to get our lives back to normal. I want to say thanks to them all for all their hard work. We now have water, phones, and lights. Our cable TV is still not on but we’ve decided to do what we do when we go camping and read instead of watching TV.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Storm's a Comming

I'm making a hasty update tonight as there are storm clouds just to the west of us. The power is still on, but I think I'll go ahead and report our power outage and hopefully avoid the rush.
Is that cynical?
I did ask the Alabama Power Company engineering department to give me a call to discuss our situation as our power has been off four times in just over a week. One time it was off for almost three days. Not happy.

Late Night

I love coffee shops. The best gigs we have played has been coffee shops. Tonight we played Big Mountain Coffee in Helena, Alabama which is in Old Town Helena.
The decor is funky with rough brick walls, frumpy old couches and chairs. The smell of fresh brewing coffee. One feature of a coffee shop is the unexpected sounds emitted when the staff makes Mocca Lattes or other manufactured drink. You can be in the middle of an intimate, heart felt song and when you get to the best part of the song WAAAAANNNNNN CHUUUUNNNKK BLAAAAAAA, WHIZZZZZZZ. It's comical and fitting as you need to be slapped when you get too serious about music and/or life.
Anyhow, next week we play at Berkley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman. We are looking forward to seeing our friend Bob again.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2009

iPhone Trauma

My iPhone is acting up a little and I'm not sure why. For some reason it stopped loading my wireless connection at the house. My reception is not that great here at home but it rides on my WiFi connection so I can check my email, Twitter, Facebook or surf the web from out on the porch with my phone.
I noticed that it stopped working about the time of the outage so I'm not sure if it somehow got confused or what.
I ran by the Apple Store this afternoon on the way home but the earliest anyone could look at it was tomorrow afternoon and I'm tied up tomorrow and Sunday.
I'm about to do some Internet searching to see what I can learn.
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back to Normal

Things are finally back to normal here at the Watson household. Cable was repaired today just after lunch. My niece Samantha was so excited when she got back online that she sent me a text message at work.
I took a long walk this evening before dark and the road between the house and the barn was almost impassable because of all the broken limbs and debris thrown there by the storms.
I picked up all the big stuff and began flipping the small stuff to the side of the road with my walking stick.
Down behind the barn I heard a squawking sound. I looked up to see two waterfowl flying slowly toward the small finger-lakes across the hollow. I didn't realize the hung out back there until today. I also heard the owl off in the distance.
I hope everyone got their taxes filed and I hope they get enough back to take a nice vacation to an exotic place.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Still no Internet connection but the sun came out warm today and the rain moved off to the east. With any luck we'll be back online tomorrow.
Signal drifting in and out so I'm out of here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Intersting times.

I've got to make this quick as my wireless card is flaking out. It's been an interesting few days. When the trees fell on the power lines, the Internet connection was also knocked down. Our phones run off of a repeater a few hundred yards from the house. You may not have known this, but those repeaters depend on power to keep the internal batteries charged. When there is no power for about 24 hours, the batteries die and the phone go out of service. That's what happened about 6 a.m. this morning. So I left Jilda attending the generator which was keeping our refrigerator and freezer from defrosting and thawing all our food.
She had an appointment at lunch so on her way out she saw something interesting. Apparently some of the work crews trying to restore power got off the edge of the road and some managed to break the water main which feeds water to our community. Water was shooting up 30 feet into the air. She called me on her cell phone laughing uncontrollably. She said I've got some good news and bad news. The good news is they are finally up here working on our power, the bad news is that not only do we not have power, cable, or phones but now we don't have water either. I laughed so hard I spewed tea out my nose.
I asked her if she'd noticed any locus or other pestilences in the area. We've had an interesting few days.
Thank goodness, we now have water, phones, and lights. Our cable is not on but we are happy.
I'm saying a prayer that the wireless card maintains a connection long enough for me to post this update.
More to follow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Whoa! Rick, Not So Fast

I was lulled into thinking the bad weather was going to miss us but about 1 a.m. a front moved in and blew my lights to somewhere in South Carolina. I have huge limbs down in the yard and three pine trees that are eighteen inches in diameter were blown down.
The power company says they have over a hundred thousand without power so I may never get power again.
Today I am ferrying the generator between my house and my brother-in-laws house next door to keep our freezers cool. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow because Jilda may not be able to crank the generator.
Anyhow, I'm on my laptop and the battery is getting low. I'll have to charge it when I bring the generator back home. I'm also on a wireless card that extended up via a extension USB cable and I have the card taped to the top of the garden door to get a good enough signal to make this update.
Y'all say a little prayer that the power company comes one day soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Winding Down

It's only 7:30 p.m. and I could lay down now and go to sleep. A gentle rain is rattling on the roof and it looks like most of the bad weather will be to the south of us.
We had lunch at my sister's house but my mom wasn't feeling well so she decided to stay in bed. It was obvious she was under the weather because she loves to watch the little kids hunt Easter Eggs.
She's lost most of her hearing now so when she in a crowd of people, all she hears is garbled noise which must be annoying. I sat with her a while in her room with the lights out and she looked very frail.
I happened to click on the TV and flip through the channels and I found the Braves playing. Her face brightened a little. She enjoys watching the Braves and she can almost get the TV loud enough to hear.
I hope you all had a Happy Easter. For those who live south of Empire, keep an eye to the sky for bad weather.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Last Word about Fried Cornbread

During coffee this morning we drew up a hit list of things we needed to accomplish today. The biggest thing on the list was to get our trees out of the living room and into the yard. They tolerate life indoors, but when spring rolls around, it's almost as if they were looking longingly out the windows. Our lemon tree dropped an alarming number of leaves last night so we made the decision to put them out today. Hopefully the cold weather is over this spring.
I got a request for the recipe for fried cornbread on last nights' blog so, I had Jilda give it to me to share.
Fried cornbread is not something we eat often, but it's great when baking is not an option. We usually eat it when the power is off. Our oven doesn't work without power but the gas range works like a charm. Jilda's mom taught her how to make it years ago.
Ruby learned to make fried cornbread back during the Depression. People will find a way to enjoy the good things in life even when it's not easy.
I believe the old saying that says "necessity is the mother of invention." It's to bad that we didn't have a good way to capture all the "work-a-rounds" that people invented during the Great Depression and later during WWII.
We are a country of very clever people and when we need something, we usually get it one way or another....often through ingenious ways.
Anyhow, I'm glad fried cornbread didn't get lost it the transition of generations because it would have been a great loss.
Happy Easter all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fried Cornbread

It's a good thing I got an early start this morning because the wind blew hard all afternoon. Just after lunch the light began to flutter and then the room went dark.
I walked out to the porch to survey the sky. The sun was overhead and baring down hard. Ordinarily that would be a good thing, but with cool air coming in from the northwest, and a tropical burst coming from the gulf, the weather can get violent in the blink of an eye.
Off in the distance I could hear the wind up above the clouds and it sounded like I was in the basement of a bowling alley.
I called the power company and then went to the porch to read and wait. Later, an automated message came in to say that the power may not be on until 7 p.m. I called it a day.
As I read on the porch, the wind would die down for a time and then come back back with a vengeance. The wind chimes (we have 8 in all) played the most beautiful and haunting music.
I grabbed the recorder and recorded the sound of the wind and chimes.
The power was still off when Jilda got home so she fired up the stove to make leftover hash out of pot roast and potatoes. Our oven doesn't work without power so she fried some cornbread.
Not sure if you've ever experienced fried cornbread, but it was scrumptious. I highly recommend it to those who are not colestrolically challenged.
When the power came back on I learned that the weather had been nasty all around the south. My heart goes out to those affected by the storms.
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Good Friday

Tomorrow's Good Friday. We used to get it as a holiday but for some reason my company now chose not to observe it.
I had planned to rise early tomorrow and put my worktime in so that I could have time tomorrow afternoon to work in my garden. But the weatherman is saying that things could get bad so I guess it's one of those wait and see days.
I like getting home before dark because it usually leaves time to get some walking in. Today the dogs and I got in a good walk. They get so excited when I pick up my walking stick which I hang horizontally on a couple of nails on the side of the deck. They understand that I'm not going to the shed for a tool, or to the chicken box to fetch the eggs. Walking stick = walk. They do the math.
I read a story in Forbes Magazine today about a man that raised and trained Labrador Retrievers. Each dog has superbly trained to fetch birds. The dogs are usually three years old before they are ready to sell. These dogs bring $10,000 to $12,000. I know that is a lot of money but here's the thing. I get way too attached to animals. If I kept a dog for three years, I don't think I could part with it. Not for money. You can read the story online by clicking here.
It is a fascinating story but I'd wind up with a yard full of Labs that I would never sell.
I hope the weatherman is off the mark and I can put my squash and cucumbers in the ground tomorrow.
Happy Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I've been toying with Twitter lately. Twitter is a social networking application on the Internet where people do real time updates on various things. There is a lot of self help, life coaching, and other topics but there is a lot more to Twitter than say Facebook.
Again Twitter is real time communication. You can "follow" people (and organizations) who do and say things that interests you.
For example since I'm interested in marketing my book, I follow people who market books professionally. I'm also interested in songwriting so I'm also following some songwriters and other industry people who send out messages to Twitter and anyone who is following these folks see what they have written in real time. The beauty of Twitter is that the messages can be no longer than 140 characters. So people who send out "tweets" have to be concise. You can embed links to your website in the messages. The idea is that if you can say something interesting, the people who are following your "tweets" might click on your link, go to your site, and buy a book, sign a petition, vote, etc. It's an interesting concept.
I'm still not convinced that it can help me market books, but there are definitely some interesting things going on. The number of people who are on Twitter grew by thirty percent during the month of March. Millions of people from all walks of life are participating.
Again, the jury is still out whether it can help me move a few books so I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Top Three

My Top Three List (These are subject to change at a moments notice)
Top Three Movies
3. A Good Year
2. Chocolat
1. Once

Top Three Books (from 2008)
3. Eat, Pray, Love
2. Swan Peak
1. Pillars of the Earth

Top Three Songs
3. Time of Your Life
2. Aphrodite's Face
1. Insomnia

Top Three Destinations
3. Sedona, Arizona
2. San Francisco
1. Ireland

Top Three Foods
3. Jilda's potato's and hash with cornbread
2. Mighty Rad Gumbo (a specialty of our old friend Ron who is now deceased)
1. Niki's Seafood Platter

Top Three Cars that I have owned
3. 1946 Plymouth Coupe (my first car)
2. 1957 Chevy Bel Air 2 door hardtop
1. 1965 Impala SS

So there! I've said it. It's out in the open now.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fruit and Nuts

I thought spring had sprung, but Mother Nature has other ideas. Most of our fruit tries have blossomed out with all the recent warm weather, but tonight and tomorrow night it will be cold here.
I can't imagine the stress that farmers face each year. They can do all the right things and still fail. They can plant the right trees, prune with precision, and fertilize by the book but one late cold snap can wipe the slate clean. The only thing they can do is start planning for next year.
If it gets as cold as the weatherman says, I plan to put plastic garbage bags over the blueberry bushes to protect them but they don't make bags big enough for the apple, peach, and pear trees.
I guess I'll do what the farmers do and say a little prayer that the trees don't get bit that hard.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


The Union and AT&T didn't reach an agreement last night, but work will continue under the old contract. That's good news for a lot of people. Not the least of which is me.
I am a person that easily falls into habits. This is both good and bad depending upon whether the habit is a good or bad one. I did not look forward to making my live revolve around my day gig. The thing about it is, I work for the phone company in my spare time.
I have so many interests and ongoing projects that occupy my energy and time. I fear working too much for "THE MAN" would have a negative impact on the things I love doing.
Anyhow, we have a reprieve for now and I'm saying a little prayer that everyone can come to a satisfactory agreement.
I have my regular on-call tonight at midnight so I'm shutting down tonight. I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Strike Stress

I'm a little antsy today. The contract between the Union and AT&T is up tonight at 11:59. If a settlement is not reached, there could be a work stoppage. I'm in management now and I'd be expected to work if they strike. Not only work, but work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. I'm guessing that would not be fun.
I'm one of the most positive people on the planet and when I told Jilda this morning over coffee that I was stressed about the possibility, she chided me mercilessly. "Where's the positive attitude" she scolded. I had to laugh because it's usually me that's after her for thinking negatively.
The last time the phone company struck, I was on the other side of the table. I was in the Union and I did my tours on the picket line.
I had the midnight shift and I took a cooler with sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. I also took my guitar and we sang protest songs all night. Whenever a car drove past our stations, we called them bad names and said unkind things about their parents.
I had been saving up for the possibility of a work stoppage so I didn't suffer too badly. There were others with larger families that had a harder time. I think that strike lasted about ten days and I was glad it was over.
It is my hope that cooler heads prevail and a settlement is reached avoiding a strike. In today's financial environment, I don't know many folks that can go very long without a check.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wild Honeysuckle

We had just laid down last night when the last of the bad weather blew through. The lights began to flicker before we heard the roar. I thought at first it was a tornado, but our alert did not go off. I felt the house shake and a tree in the backyard fall. About fifteen seconds later it was racing off to the east and all was quite.
I walked to the back door to survey the damage. The back deck had a layer of pine needles and sweet gum balls. The tree that had fallen was a dead pine that I had already marked to cut down. Thanks Mother Nature for saving me the gas.
This morning the sun rose to a stunningly clear blue sky. It was cooler but everything seemed as fresh as a baby just out of the bath.
I worked from home and was on the phone for most of the day, but we walked the dogs this evening and everything was stunning. I shot a few pictures of some honeysuckle bushes. Some people call them wild azaleas but what ever the name, they are beautiful.The dogs were beside themselves.
The second photo I shot at meditation rock. The green in the foreground is moss that has grown wild with all the rainfall.
A pink honeysuckle bush that stands over ten feet tall took up residence just beside the huge rock overhang.
The early spring sun heats the rock up and this particular honeysuckle bush blooms several days before the others nearby.
Jilda found a small pink bush a few days ago that was standing all by itself. I grabbed the sharpshooter and dug it up. We found a sun friendly place in our yard and planted it deep in hopes that it will survive.
Happy weekend all.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I went to the dentist today because a bridge seemed to be a little loose. I thought a little small talk and a dab of glue and I'd be on my way. I was wrong.
I hate it when a dentist walks around my x-rays looking at them from different angles as if he were examining the front end of a car after a fender-bender. It's also not good when they say we have several options depending upon the quality of your insurance.
What about the glue I asked hopefully. "That stuff will give you brain damage," he said helpfully "I'd suggest you stop sniffing it immediately." No, I mean the glue to secure my bridge.
"I"m afraid that won't be an option," he said sympathetically.
It seems the wisdom tooth onto which my five-tooth bridge was anchored had a problem. He could see the problem on the x-ray and some subsequent digging with a sharp tooth probe confirmed the damage. When he got the bridge off, the wisdom tooth was all but gone. A few moments later he had snatched it out and given me a card for a specialist who does implants.
"Am I going to have to knock off a liquor store to pay for implants?" I asked. "That's not a bad idea," he said "I'd wait and do it on the first of the month when the check come in."
So I walked out with a mouth full of gauze and a script for pain medicine.
I drove home slowly and scoped out a few package stores.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Censored Column

I wrote this column for the paper last Sunday but the publisher didn't like it. So, I'm posting it here instead.
It is with sadness that I write this last column for The Daily Mountain Eagle. It’s been a good run but as they say, all good things must end. It seems that with the economic downturn, the Buzzard is doing some belt tightening and my column is a victim. So I’m taking this opportunity to say goodbye to all my readers.
As many of you know, I started writing Life 101 in January of 2007. Management at the paper reluctantly agreed to give me a shot and offered me a nominal amount of money to write a weekly column. Since it was my first paying newspaper gig, I jumped at the chance.
But after two years, a new book, and building up a great readership, I decided to ask for a raise.
James Phillips, the “editor” who is just a mouthpiece for “THE MAN” chided me for even thinking about a small raise.
“Times are tough now Uncle Rick,” he snorted. Did I mention that James is my “so called nephew”. “Well, what’s that got to do with the price of eggs in China,” I quipped. I’ve always been fairly good with witty repartee. One thing led to another and I said some unkind things about his linage, which in retrospect was unfortunate since he is kin to me. He countered with cruel remarks about my weight, my grey beard, and the fact that I’m follically challenged. I knew the gig was up when he called my dog, Ol’ Buddy a mangy mutt.
“Get your stuff and get out,” he hissed. After glancing around, I said “I don’t have any stuff here”. “Well here,” he barked, “take these pencils and get out!” So I took the Standard #2 pencils, hung my head and walked out the door.
APRIL FOOL!!!! Since April 1st is Wednesday, I couldn’t resist the chance to play a little prank. If there are those out there who wish this was my last column, please keep it to yourself. If you’re glad it’s not, please write James and tell him to give me a raise.
Apparently, April Fool’s Day has been around for some time. According to Wikipedia: April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day, although not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on fool's errand, the aim of which is to pull a prank on the unsuspecting.
The origin of April Fools' Day is obscure. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar which it replaced. In many pre-Christian cultures, May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signaled the start of the spring planting season. An April Fool was someone who did this prematurely.
No matter where it started, April Fool’s Day can be a lot of fun if the pranks don’t go too far. It seems that we have forgotten how to have fun.
With hard times, lawsuits, and “politically correct” initiatives, it’s almost as if fun has become a thing we did in the past.
It’s true we haven’t had a lot to smile about in the last few years, but I believe the pendulum is swinging in the other direction and now it’s time to have some fun!
Happy April Fool’s Day.

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