Friday, April 30, 2010

Blooming Rhododendron

I was working in the yard this morning and just as I walked around the east side of the house, I was blinded by our rhododendron.
Some people like azaleas, and some love roses, but I think my favorite blooming bush is the rhododendron.
Jilda asked her sister Nell how to propagate these bad boys and as it turns out, all you have to do is to take a limb close to the ground, scrape a little bark off the bottom and put a brick on the limb so that it stays in contact with the earth.
When I looked today, I saw that indeed the limbs had roots so I'll be planting the new plants in the morning.
I put cages around the tomatoes and hoe'd the cabbage today.
All and all, it was a very good day.
I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Liberating Experience

The walk around the place felt different today. The trees looked a little greener, the peas a little taller.  I picked up a handful of dirt in the garden and smelled it like it was a bouquet. 
We moved a house trailer here on this property in 1980. We built the house in 84. 
I remember the day we sealed the deal with the builder like it was yesterday. I had buyers remorse before the ink was dry because I didn't know if we could ever pay for the place.
Somehow, it felt right and we just kept working, paying, adding on, refinancing, working paying and making improvements. 
Today I wired the last payment to the mortgage company. This evening we are totally debt free.
I've dreamed of this day for many years. In fact, every New Years the goal to be debt free made the list. We've worked very hard the last few years paying off cars and other things. 
This effort was what made it possible to walk away from the day gig this time. 
I can tell you this without a moment's hesitation, being totally debt free is liberating experience. 
I hope you all have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Put in the big rocks first

OK, here’s what I’ve learned so far. Not having a job is hard work! I seem to have less time now than when my day gig ate up twelve hours every day.

How can this be?

Well, of course there’s “the list”. I’ll have to live to be a hundred and eighty years old to finish that puppy and that’s only if nothing new is added. But as we all know, “the list” is a living document that grows faster than kudzu.

The issue I’m wrestling with now is the scatterbrain syndrome.  You know the feeling – when you lay down your glasses to get a cup of coffee and as you pour your cup, you look out the kitchen window and see the birds haven’t been fed.

You immediately set the cup down and grab the birdseed. Just as you are about to fill the feeder, you glance over and notice the herbs on the back deck are dry as thatch and wilting from the lack of water.

You set down the birdseed and go grab the hosepipe (yes, to all you folks from the north, I call it a hosepipe so deal with it), and drag it towards the herb bed. When you turn the water on, you find the gasket is pouring out more water at the faucet than is going through the hosepipe. You head to the shed to get a replacement gasket when you discover the light bulb has burned out. You reach for the old light bulb to check the wattage but you can’t read it because you left your glasses in the house.

On the way to back to the house to get your glasses, the realization sets in that not only is water pouring from the hosepipe and the birdseed is still sitting on the banister, but also your coffee is probably cold now.

When I had a day job, my priorities were dictated and there was no question as to what needed to be done and when. If I missed something, my phone would scream like a baby with colic, my pager would vibrate off my belt, and my email inbox would be dinging like a bootlegger’s doorbell.

These days, my priorities have changed, but since I don’t have people on my back, it seems I have lost focus. I feel like a ship without a rudder, drifting at sea.

Two of my main priorities are, working on my new book, and recording a singer/songwriter CD with Jilda.  For some reason, this work keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list and that has to change.

Dr. Steven Covey wrote a book called “What Matter’s Most” and in this book, he uses a great analogy. He did a video to illustrate the point of working on the most important things.

He places a gallon jar and some rocks on the podium, calls a lady from the audience, and asks her to put some big rocks in the jar. She does as he asks and fills the jar with several big rocks. He asks the audience if the jar is full and some murmur that it is.

He then pulls a bag of gravel from under the podium and asks her to pour the gravel into the jar, which she does.

When the jar is full, he asks the audience, and this time a few more respond enthusiastically that it is NOT full.

Next, he pulls a bag of sand out and asks the lady to pour sand into the jar, which she does. He then tops off the jar with water from a pitcher.

When he asks again if the jar is full, everyone can now see that in fact, the jar is REALLY full.

Covey ends the demonstration by saying that life is like the jar. You fill it with stuff. In order to live your life more fully and do what matters most, you have to put the “big rocks” in first.

There’s one thing that’s become abundantly clear to me these last few weeks. I really need to refocus and make sure my “big rocks” get into the jar. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There's a Reason

There's a reason older folks don't have young children. This simple fact was driven home today when Jilda and I did babysitting duties for our great nephew Jordan.
He is a great kid but if you could somehow harness the energy coming off a two year old, you could power the planet for a week or so.
Jilda did most of the hard work but I did help strap the car seat in on the trip down to MickeyD's. After the happy meal we went to the park. We swung, we spun, we climbed, we slid, and we jumped. When we got home, I was ready to take a nap, but Mr. Jordan had other plans.
So...we checked out the chickens, gathered eggs, blew bubbles, went to the barn, had a botany quiz on every living organism in the county and played ball.
He fed the birds, chased chipmunks and climbed his first tree today. I've never been so happy to see his grandmother.
When I talked to our good friend Charlie Watts this afternoon and told him what we'd done all day he said "you know, the Good Lord knew what he was doing when he decided that young folks should have children."
I could not agree more.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Southern Planters

I've been doing a lot of research of recycling these last few days and I came across a great way to recycle old tires. I found a website that gives instructions on how to make flower planters out of old tires.Our yard was full of these when I was a kid.
I helped my dad make them and the process was like wrestling an "alligator greazed with lard". We painted all of ours white and lined them down the side of Sloss Road.
You see them even now every once in a while but this website gives instructions on how to make these puppies.
Anyhow, if you'd like to take a shot at one, visit this website:
 Y'all have a great week.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blackberry Winter

Each year in the spring, just as the blackberries bloom, there comes a cold snap. This year, the cold snap was escorted in by devastating weather, but it came in none the less.
The old folks called this last cool hurrah, blackberry winter.
I can remember my great grandmother talking about blackberry winter. "Don't put your inside plants outside until after blackberry winter, or you'll have to bring them back in to keep them from being bitten."
Walking today we came across these blackberry bushes down behind the barn.  Looks like we'll have a bumper crop of berries this year.
I picked three gallons of berries last year and we ate them in our morning shakes, blackberry pancakes, and killer blackberry cobbler that Jilda makes.
Blackberry cobbler with a few scoops of homemade ice cream is a rare treat from Mother Nature.
I read a while back that there are fine restaurants in New York City that offer blackberry cobbler in the early summer. They get a kings ransom for a small dish.  My mouth actually started watering just now as I was writing this note.
I hope you are all safe and dry after last nights rampage. It was scary for a while. We watched weatherman James Spann until after nine and at one point it appeared the bad weather had moved off to the east. I walked outside to fetch my backpack out of the car and I knew something was very wrong. The atmosphere felt volatile. It had gotten warmer after we got home and I could hear the wind aloft raging.
By the time I stepped back inside, Jilda said that the weather service had issued a tornado warning for Walker County. When we lined up the trajectory, it was obvious it would be bearing down on us soon. I stepped to the back desk so I could look off to the south west and the lightening looked like a strobe light. Off in the distance I could hear thunder, but I also heard a roar that was not thunder. I grabbed my small video camera and my mp3 recorder and recorded a few seconds before heading off to our safe spot.
A short time later we lost electricity and the sound go louder. Fortunately for us, the storm was about a mile south of here. Jilda's sister Nell, who owns a farm not far from here, lost dozens of trees. They also had several rental (mobile) homes that were destroyed. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
This morning when we got up, the sun was bright, the sky was blue, and there were big fluffy clouds drifting lazily across the sky. It was hard to imagine that only a few hours before the weather was so bad.
Mother Nature offers you some wonderful gifts, like blackberries in the summer. But she also will scare the crap out of you from time to time.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weather Watching

Today has been a day to watch the weather. Alabama is one place that you would not b surprised to hear the weatherman say - chances of  large hail, dangerous lightening, flash floods and catastrophic tornadoes is 100% today. We've downgraded the chances for plague, locusts and pestilence from 60% this evening to 40% overnight. The earthquake and tsunami warnings have been lifted, but UFO's are expected in most trailer parks across central Alabama.
I looked down earlier today and the upper garden on which I have worked so hard, was under water. When the lightening let up, I ran out there and dug a small ditch to drain the water. Hopefully it didn't do any permanent damage.
Jilda and I are heading to the Dora High School (all class) Alumni Reunion tonight. If I hadn't promised them I'd be there to shoot pictures, I'd skip this year. I do plan to wear a lifejacket just in case.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Alabama Environmental Info

I started researching today for good environmental news in Alabama, but I'm not finding a lot. There are places that recycle basic metals, but it's more difficult to find places to handle the other stuff.
I found a place that recycles lead batteries for cars, boats and other vehicles, but it's in Troy, Alabama which is four hours away.
I'm not saying there are not places closer, but if there are, I have not found them yet. Working on this site will be rewarding I think. I've always tried to be earth friendly, even though we still throw a lot of stuff in the landfill.
My friend Bobbye gave me a good idea for recycling newsprint. She said I should use it for mulch around our garden. That's a good idea that I will implement, but still, we go through a lot of news print.
I can't find the first place that sells solar or wind equipment here locally. I admit that wind would probably not be cost effective except during tornadoes and then you could generate enough power to light up Alabama for a week.
Solar on the other hand I think would work. We get a lot of sun here. I'm not sure what the break even point is for solar panels, but it would really be cool to sell power back to Alabama Power on these hot days instead of my meter spinning like a top.
Anyhow, I won't bore you folks to tears, but I did want to let you know what I'm working on in my spare time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

This April 22, Earth Day celebrates its 40th birthday. 
Back in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson was becoming distressed by the condition of the environment and wanted to bring focus to the notion that we need to be kinder to Mother Nature.
Nelson believed that a lot of Americans shared his concern and as it turns out, he was right.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22 1970 and twenty million people participated. That date is considered the birth of the environmental movement that is now embraced around the world.
The idea of Earth Day conjures up a wide range of opinions. Some people immediately think it's a buzz word for global warming and start dog-cussing Al Gore. They believe that global warming is a bunch of hooey, and had rather have an eighteen inch knitting needle jabbed in their eye than to hear another word on the subject.
Other people believe that we are indeed on a collision course and that we can't move quickly enough to head off impending natural calamities.
It's not my intention to debate global warming, but I suspect, based on the feedback that I received recently from my litter column, that there are a good many of you that feel we could do a better job taking care of Mother Nature.
One of the biggest arguments that I hear is that "environmental projects" are too expensive in terms of jobs.
Any time anyone starts discussing the impact of fossil fuels (coal and oil) on the environment, people start getting nervous.
Nowhere is that more true than here in central Alabama where the livelihoods of so many families and communities depend upon coal mining.
There are no easy answers here. I do believe that we need to invest in alternative sources of energy that are kinder to the planet.
Aside from the energy/global warming discussion, I think there are a lot of things that we can do locally in the area of recycling that will help.
Jilda and I get two newspapers every day and in a month's time, we have a mountain of newspapers. In the past, we stacked our papers in neat bundles and hauled them to a newspaper recycling bin in Graysville which is more than 20 miles away.
The church did away with the recycling bin so the last mountain of newsprint was thrown into a landfill. If someone knows of a newspaper recycling bin in Walker County, please let me know.
We recycle aluminum, and we pay the extra to have our old tires and car batteries recycled when we have them replaced.
One major concern that's lurking just beneath the radar is all the florescent lights being installed to replace household incandescent lighting. It's true these bulbs save a lot of energy, which is good for the environment, but they contain mercury which is linked to birth defects and all sorts of health problems. When these units burn out, they should NOT be thrown into a landfill.
No problem you might say, look on the carton and find out what GE says to do with the old bulbs. GE points you to a website that tells how to safely dispose of old florescent bulbs. The only problem is, when you click on Alabama, there is no plan.
That's unacceptable to me. I'm not sure what to do but I can't help but think those who manufacture and sell these bulbs share some responsibility for making sure we can dispose of these bulbs safely without leaving a mess for our children to clean up.
One person cannot do it alone, but I think we all can pitch in and make the world a better place.
These are just my thoughts on Earth Day. What do you think?

P.S. In honor of Earth Day, I started a new website
The site will be dedicated to helping my home become a better place to live.
If you have ideas, suggestions, or other "Green" information, please let me know ans I'll post it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Rules for Being Human

I came across something today that I thought was worth sharing. It's written by Cherie Carter-Scott and I found it to be right on the money. They don't teach this kind of stuff in school but the lessons are so valuable.
Anyhow, I didn't ask Cherie if I could post it, so I hope she doesn't mind.

Ten Rules for Being Human

by Cherie Carter-Scott

1.  You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.
2.  You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”
3.  There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”
4.  Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
5.  Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
6.  “There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”
7.  Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
8.  What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
9.  Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
10. You will forget all this.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Score Two For the Home Team

I have hounded Jilda for a long time to start a blog. She should have been a goalie for the NHL because she's deflected every attempt to persuade her.
Apparently today she was still recovering from her weekend yoga training and too weak to resist because I set her up a blog and she did her first post today.
It's Transformation Information I have high hopes for this because she is a really good writer. She has a gift when it comes to helping others overcome obstacles. Y'all have a look and follow her posts. I think you'll be as impressed as I am.
On another note, we took a walk this afternoon down behind the barn and more wildflowers and other stuff is blooming. Below are a few shots I took with the iPhone.

I love springtime.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Creative Well

My creative juices are running low. I've been trying to think of an idea for this week's column but I'm coming up dry. I may have to go to the well.
I'll start going through old pictures and listening to my music collection. If that fails, I'll start looking at the titles to the books on the shelves of our library and going through my book of quotations.
I also have a folder of old jokes that can sometimes spark an idea. Then there is the "Lists" folder where I've collected my top ten list of things.
I've talked to other writers before and most have routines they go through when they get into a rut. One thing I haven't tried late is a change of venue. Maybe I should charge up my laptop and go sit on the riverbank or maybe drive up to the Sipsey Wilderness.
Anyhow, I still have some time so I'm not in a panic yet, but the well is always there if I need it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Policing the Area

This morning I worked around the barn. The people who rented this farm back in the late sixties used the hollows on both sides of our property as a dump for car parts, old appliances and other junk. 
You couldn't really see it in the summer as the foliage is thick and lush. But in the fall of the year when the green recedes and the leaves fall, the stuff was an eye sore. I tried a few times to get the tractor down close enough to drag the stuff out, but I could never get close enough.
This morning, I decided to take another approach. I manhandled the appliances right out.  I was wringing wet with sweat when I finished, but I now have all the big pieces up where I can get them loaded onto the truck and hauled to the recycling place.
There's a lot of cans bottles and jars still down there, that will take an old fashion military action. When I was in the Army, the grounds of Fort Campbell were immaculate. That's because every morning after breakfast, we "policed the area." What that meant was that we picked up every piece of garbage on the post. Our drill Sargent said that if we missed a single cigarette butt, he'd make us eat it. He was a big scary black guy that had spent several tours of duty in Vietnam and I had no doubt that he'd remain true to his word, so everything around me got picked up.
I wonder if the local National Guard First Sargent would loan me a squad to police the area around the barn?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Farm Dreams

Jilda's out of town this weekend attending yoga training in South Carolina. I did something I rarely do. I stayed up late watching TV. 
Since it's baseball season, it seemed only natural to watch "For the Love of the Game". As I've written before, it's one of my all time favorite movies.
This morning I sat out on the back deck and drank my coffee while I watched the morning come alive. I'll post garden pictures in a few days when our stuff gets up a little more. It really looks good.
Tuesday, Terry the Bobcat guy came back and finished up the clearing work. There was a giant pine tree that blew down last spring when storms moved through. I've been cutting pieces off that tree for months but the trunk and a clump of hedge bushes remained.
Terry asked if I wanted him to move the debris down to the main burn pile that he'd been building from all the other work he's been doing. I was thrilled and in a matter of minutes, the eyesore was removed. 
I'd love to have me one of those Bobcats. I know it would be a very expensive toy, but that is one handy tool.
I plan to start work on the barn and the old house next week. It won't cost much to get them both back in shape, but it does take time which I haven't had before now.
I plan to repaint the barn except this time I'm going to paint the roof white. I think it will make it look really good. 
What I'd really like to do is build a new log barn, big enough to use as a music venue as well as a country classroom. I think it would be perfect for yoga retreats, writer and photography workshops and songwriting workshops. Not having a job makes this problematic so until I move some books, get some songs cut and/or hit the lottery, I'll have to keep this one on the back burner.
Jilda is heading back home tomorrow. I'll be glad when she's back cause I miss that little heifer.
Y'all have a great Saturday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Garden

I ran by the North Jefferson News today to pitch my weekly columns. The paper has a new editor and she seems delightful. 
I dropped off a copy of my book and some recent columns for her to look at. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's my intention to shop all the local papers around where I live. If anyone has a suggestion of a paper where my columns might fit, please let me know.
I spent the morning planting. I planted about twenty pepper plants, some onions, purple hull peas, and some brussel sprouts.
We planted cucumbers, squash, and zucchini earlier this week and some of that is already coming up. 
Of course we planted a ton of herbs. Jilda uses a lot of herbs in the dishes she prepares.  Basil, chives, sage, and others I can't spell.
I should have more time for tending this year.  I tell you, I can't wait until I can take a shaker of salt out there in the garden and eat a ripe tomato right off the vine. You haven't lived until you've done that.
Also, if there is a better summertime meal that a tomato sandwich, I'd like to eat it. I can tell you, it would have to be some kind of good to knock the tomato sandwich off the pedestal.
So until things "come in" all I can do is walk down there every day, lean on the fence and watch it grow.

Now this is a shooting star filmed last night in Minnesota

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dodging Bullets

We were dog-cussin' Ingrid (Jilda's Volvo) this morning. We took her in because the passenger side seat was stuck full forward. You could ride on the passenger side, but your legs were jammed up against the dashboard.
When I called the repair shop, they said the switch was $200.  OK, that's not too bad, if you say it quickly. Anyhow they called to say the car was ready. When we picked it up, the mechanic found that something had fallen into one of the tracks and that he was able to fix it for practically nothing.
We were so happy. Jilda was following me home and she called me on my cell to say that the driver's side window was stuck and would not roll up. RATS!!!!!!!!
I knew the repair shop we'd just come from was packed today and Jilda needed the car tomorrow so off we went to another repair shop.
They checked on a relay switch and it was, you guessed it, $200.  ARG!!@@#$$%%^#@@#$.
They did say they could have the car repaired by this evening.
When we went to pick it up, the mechanic said that something had apparently fallen into the window track and the Volvo is designed to shut the relay switch off so that it doesn't burn up the power window motor which is VERY expensive. Again, there was no charge.
We'd dog cussed our car for doing what she was designed to do. Well, the only way I could make it up to her was to give her a bath, which it did. I also talked tenderly to her as I cleaned the wheels and glass.
She looks like a new ride.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My column this coming Sunday is about Earth Day. This year Earth Day celebrates its fortieth birthday. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who'd become concerned about the environment, wanted to have a "teach-in" on April 22nd. The idea was to bring focus to how we're treating Mother Nature. That day is considered to be the birth of the environmental movement.
Anyhow, in the column I talk about the need to recycle. Today I stopped cutting grass long enough to talk to a neighbor and I discovered that he'd opened a recycling business in Sumiton. His business recycles all kinds of metals including old appliances and other forms of scrap.
That's excellent news because the old house and barn are full of old metals that need to be disposed of. Now I can dispose of them the right way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Driving School

I’d never heard of a driver’s safety course and I probably would have considered it a waste of time when I was younger, until I got an up close and personal demonstration of its merits.
My cousin Randall’s family moved off up north when I was very young and they moved back home to Alabama when I was about sixteen.
He’d gone to junior high school in Indiana and one of the requirements there was driving school.
He was an excellent driver. He honored all traffic signs, used his blinkers when making turns and always tested his brakes prior to needing them at stop signs or unexpected animal events (deer darts and dog dares).
His cousins tended to have fun at his expense because as all southerners know, speed limits and traffic signs are simply suggestions for the uninitiated.
Most of us thought (and apparently still think) that turn signals are optional and used mainly by old geezers with faint hearts.
One spring morning as I rode with Randall in his newly purchased (old) Simca, I realized the value of driving school.
I should have been leery of the Simca from the start as it was one of those small cars that resembled a roller skate with windshield wipers. Of all places, the contraption was built in France.
Randall got a good deal on the Simca and had it serviced by a local mechanic. The mechanic had never seen a Simca before but used this repair job as an excuse to buy a new set of metric wrenches.
When we picked the car up, it seemed to be doing fine. For some reason that I don’t recall, we headed through Kershaw Hollow and across Fire Tower Mountain.  Now Fire Tower isn’t really a mountain in the sense that most westerners know, but for us hillbillies here in Walker County it’s about as high as it gets. That’s the reason the forestry service built a fire tower up there.
When we crested the hill, Randall tested the brakes just as his training had taught him. When he pressed the brake, it went all the way down. I could hear metal against metal as the peddle banged repeatedly against the floorboard.
I’ve driven old cars all my life and I knew that sound because I’d heard it many times before.
My cousin never panicked, he simply reached between the seat for the emergency brakes which he expertly ripped up to stop the runaway skateboard with doors.
Not sure what happened, but not only did the car NOT stop, but it pick up speed. The road seemed to drop off before us like a cliff and Randall, still focused on maintaining control, said “hold on."
Now that’s an instruction he really didn’t have to give. I don’t think he’d ever been down Fire Tower Mountain before, but I had. I knew it was a good mile and a half of steady descent with hairpin turns.
With uncanny presence, he whipped the steering wheel this way and that and continued trying to shift down into a lower gear to slow the car down.
The ride down that mountain was like a roller-coaster. Before we got to the bottom, I’d said the worlds longest prayer, confessed all my sins, and said goodbye to mama.
It’s a miracle that we made it to the bottom without flipping over one of the embankments, being thrown out, smacking our heads against oak trees, and being eaten by wild animals before our family and friends discovered our bones.
When I unfolded myself out of the Simca at the bottom, I noticed that there were dents in the roof where my hands had pushed to hold on. I’m guessing the seat covers had a hole made by my backside.
From that day forward, I never made fun of cousin Randall for having gone to driving school. In fact, I think it saved our lives.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tax Man

My accountant called this morning to say my taxes are ready. I probably should have asked him if we were going to have to pay or if we were getting money back, but I didn't. As a result, I was a little apprehensive on the drive over.
There was a time that doing our tax returns was a painful activity. I didn't keep good records so when it came time to pay the piper, I danced around our house like a slam dancer having a really back psychedelic flashback.
I routinely filed for an extension even when I was getting money back which allowed the government to use my cash for free.
Then one year, I made a New Year's resolution to start keeping good records. I starting tracking my business expenses on a spreadsheet and I set up a filing cabinet with tabs for all tax related expenses.
These days when it comes tax-time, I simply pull my files out, sort through my receipts, do a summary page of all related data and give it to my accountant along with my W2's and 1099's and I'm good to go.
But this year is a little different in that I no longer have a job. In the past, had I owed money, I could have taken it out of savings and replaced the funds later. That's not as easy when you don't have a job.
So, when I arrived to pick up the returns, I took a peak inside and we're getting refunds from both the feds and the state - WOO HOO!
I think we'll celebrate tonight after yoga class.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wild Irises

I walked down to meditation rock this morning and I discovered that the wild irises had bloomed. These are exquisite violet flowers that are about two inches tall.
They grow in clumps shaded from the evening sun but positioned perfectly so that they bathe in the morning sun.
A few years ago before the timber cutters came through, Jilda and my niece Samantha went on a search and rescue mission and dug up clumps of these wild irises. They also dug up some of the wild honey suckle bushes which are actually wild azaleas.
This morning when I went back up to tell Jilda about the irises, we decided to walk out and check on the "rescued irises" that she planted in the front yard.
We discovered that they too were blooming. What a gift.
After breakfast, we planted more of our garden. By this afternoon, the corn that we planted last week poked through the earth.
We're cranked.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Apple Cloud

Today has almost been intoxicating. The rain on Wednesday washed most off the pollen away so the air was fresh.
The temps dropped down last night and this morning when I stepped out on the deck to get a first hand weather report, I realized it was much cooler than I thought.
After the sun rose, the day warmed up considerably. Since we're playing tonight at Berkeley Bob's Coffee Shop in Cullman, we took it easy for most of the day. I did go for a walk this afternoon to give the dogs a chance to run and I snapped this picture of our apple tree which has more blooms on it than I can ever remember.
I doctored the image a little with Photoshop and all of a sudden, I have an art photo which I call AppleCloud.
If you are out and about tonight, we'd love to see you at Berkeley Bob's.
As always if there are any potential burglars who read my blog, you probably should know that I'm leaving Astro and Bear inside and they haven't been fed.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Fred

Today is our buddy Fred's birthday. His family lives up in Tennessee so we invited him over this evening to blaze a few steaks.
I consider the birthdays of my friends and family holidays.  have a program on my computer that reminds me of special days. I always try to call my friends and family on their birthday and tell them how much they mean to me.
In years past, I took off for Jilda's and my birthday.  We always tried to do something special. We either went on a get-a-way or went to a favorite restaurant. Something to that said "hey, this is a special day, let's take time to acknowledge and celebrate."
It seems like the last few years, the day job got in the way but those days are behind me. So tonight, Jilda and I will celebrate with Fred. and here is my wish for him.  As the Irish say, "May you be an hour in heaven before the Devil knows you're dead."

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Don't Miss the Dora High School Alumni Reunion April 24th

I'm getting excited about the Dora High School Alumni Reunion this year. Organizers moved the event from the high school gym which is not set up for these functions, to the Bevill State meeting facility, which is ideal for reunions.
I say the gym is not suited because I know first hand. The school doesn't have enough banquet tables and chairs for the crowd.  For several years in a row, I had to move tables and chairs from a local church to the gym and then back again after the reunion and I can tell you it's back-breaking work. 
The planners were worried that some of the alumnus would complain. I suggested that if they did, we would let them move the tables and chairs next year. 
I wish more young people would attend. Not sure why they don't. I've heard so many classes say they can't get enough people to sign up to attend landmark events like twenty and thirty year reunions. I think that's sad because it's good to catch up with what all's going on in everyone's life. I know there is Facebook and a lot of people use this social networking site as a substitute for face to face encounters. I enjoy Facebook, but I also like face time with all my old classmates.
Anyhow, I hope you'll join me at the Dora High School Alumni Reunion April 24th. Registration starts at 5:00 p.m. and dinner is at 6:30. Bring pictures of you kids, grand kids, hunting dogs, your new husband and/or your boat.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I earned my keep today. A neighbor was clearing off her back lot and the guy was using a BobCat. When he took a break, he walked over while I was planting tomatoes and asked if I wanted any of my property cleared and just so happens, I did.
I've expanded my garden spot this year but the new section was in shade much of the afternoon thanks to about six huge poplar trees. I'm not a fan of poplar trees because they are a soft wood which tend to lose their tops when the wind blows.
Anyhow, we discussed what I had in mind and agreed on a price. He pulled a chainsaw out of his truck that was as big as a Toyota and he whacked down those trees quicker than you could say T I M B E R. Then he got on the BobCat and in a short time, my garden spot was basking in the warm afternoon sun.
If you live in Walker County and have land that needs clearing or some excavation work, call my new friend Terry Thompson.
I did him a quick website so he would have a presence on the Internet so you can get his number at
Terry Thompson Tell him Rick sent you to him and he'll let you drive the BobCat (just kidding Terry).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Still Getting Used to Retirement

I could say the transition from working life to being at home every day has been challenging, but that would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a big ditch.
My wife Jilda seems a little snippy each day as she heads out to work. OK, I’ll admit that I might spend a little too much time in my sweat pants and the mean time between shaves has increased dramatically, but is that reason for her to be miffed?
Her girlfriends were no help. She got a bunch of sympathy cards from them when I retired which I thought was a little over the top, but then maybe I’m being a little too sensitive.
I tried to help out with the house chores but that didn’t go well. I thought I’d do a few loads of laundry. Hey, I’m handy with my hands, how hard can washing clothes be?
Our dog Bear watched me load up the Whirlpool and he seemed a little uneasy as I tossed in some of Jilda’s clothes, which included a white blouse, along with my black socks, a throw rug, and a pair of coveralls I used when I worked on the car.
Apparently Bear knew there would be trouble because he scurried out the doggie door as if he were running from a fire and hid out behind the shed. Apparently he didn’t want to be around when Jilda got home and the fireworks started.
Who knew that you can’t mix clothes?
OK, I now know that all the women reading this are saying “you ninny, EVERYBODY knows you don’t mix silk and garage boy clothing!” Every day’s a school day.
It also didn’t help that I put one of her favorite sweaters in the dryer. I was there when she pulled it out.  I could describe her mood as unhappy but that doesn’t quite capture how annoyed she was.
 I tried to diffuse the situation by telling her she’s losing weight and the sweater would fit again in a few months, but that line of reasoning was like trying to put out a campfire by dousing it with kerosene.
She tossed it in the Goodwill bag and ordered me to stay away from the laundry room.
I was a little gun shy for a while, but later in the week I tried to make amends and surprise her by cooking supper. I found out I have a skills gap there too.
The first thing I learned is that you can’t put dried butterbeans on to cook at 6 p.m. if you expect to eat at 6:30 unless you like them REALLY crunchy.
But I did make a mean pone of cornbread.
 I had to walk lightly around the house for a while. When the sun came out a few days ago, I pulled her car into the back yard and gave it a good cleaning inside and out. That at least got me out of the doghous.

When I completed the tasks on pages 1 through 122 of her To Do list, she actually cancelled the hit she’d put out
on me.
You’d be surprised at what you can get done for a 12- pack of Bud.
I’m not sure if I’ve mastered this “retirement thang” yet, but with a little luck, I just may actually live to see my next birthday

Monday, April 05, 2010

Living Largly

One objective that I've been putting off for weeks is completing our taxes. I finished them up over the weekend and took them to our accountant today. It's a good feeling getting that off my plate.
I ran by Jasper Seed and Feed and picked up cracked corn for the chickens and a sack of dog food. I walked through the plant section and saw a tray of heirloom tomato plants.  I snagged them up along with some eggplant seedlings. Jilda makes killer eggplant "palmer-gener" so a season without fresh eggplant is a waste as far as I'm concerned.
I ran back by 4 Seasons Garden Center and picked up a blueberry bush to replace the one that didn't make it through last season.
As I wandered around looking at all the tools, fountains, and plants it occurred to me that the retirement thing is finally sinking in. I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere.
It's amazing how much life you miss by being in a hurry. The thing about it is, you often arrive at your destination at the same time whether you meander or rush, but the journey is never as enjoyable.
I'm listening to a book today called "Drive". It's a book about what motivates people. This afternoon as I drove home, the author said something interesting.
He said that anyone these days who lives to be 60 years old has a very good chance of living until they are over 80 years old. 
If that is true, Jilda and I stand a very good chance of living another twenty or twenty-five years. 
The author went on to say that when people reach 60 they tend to look back at when they were 35 and it strikes them how quickly that time passed. They then often do soul searching to figure out how to best spend the remaining years of their lives. How to do something meaningful.
I've spent a great deal of time the last few weeks doing just that. I CAN do a lot of things, but I think my time would be better spent deciding on how to get the most life out of the rest of my life.  
Regret is a waste of time, but I have wondered what I could have accomplished had I done a better job when I was younger, focusing on how to live more largly.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

Do you know what's brown with a pink bow around his neck and goes hippity hopping through the mud?


We ate lunch with my sister today and afterwards we had an Easter Egg hunt for all the kids. Most of the younguns are grown now except for my great nieces and nephews.
These hunts are fairly tame compared to the egg hunts we had as kids. I remember a great deal of body checking, elbowing, gouging, and free style karate that we picked up watching B-grade movies on TV. The kid that found the most eggs would get a prize but we always had one prize egg that contained $5.
The prize egg was always hidden really well. I had a sadistic older cousin that did the hiding and he firmly believed that if you got the $5 prize egg you needed to work for it. So sometimes you could only get to it if you knew how to operated a backhoe.
I remember one year he hid it in a bed of fire-ants. And it's hard to forget the time that it was sunken in a fresh cow patty. The winner that year dug around in the dung with a stick and then kicked the egg over to a faucet to wash it off before opening it up and claiming the prize.
I think this day and time the egg would have to contain a hundred big before a kid would go to such lengths to win the prize.
Even though Easter seemed early this year, you could not have asked for a more beautiful day.
Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter Eve

I heard the thunder rolling this morning before I opened my eyes. Even thought the blinds were pulled, I could tell by the quality of the light that it was cloudy outside.
I got up, sat on the couch, and looked through the windows as the morning came alive. 
Nature has a subtle routine. The small birds get out early and check the feeders. The finches, wrens and sparrows are the early birds at our house. It's not until later that the cardinals, doves and bluejays come in to feed. 
We haven't see our hummingbirds yet, but we expect to see them any day now swoop down in front of our windows, look in and say "where's the food Bubba?" 
I spent most of the day doing stuff indoors. I still have a good bit of web work to do to get caught up and I still have work on our taxes. It's my intention to have that completed tomorrow so that I can take them to our accountant.
I hope you all have a blessed Easter. 

Friday, April 02, 2010

Embrace Life, Always Wear a Seatbelt

I absolutely love this little clip.

Just Happy to be Here

I came across an incredible website this week. It's It's a website that publishes research from some of America's best colleges.
The topics are wide ranging but one topic yesterday caught my eye. "Happy Seniors dwell on the good ol' days.

“The past is the best predictor of the future, so you’re not going to turn your life around at 85 or 90,” says Peter Martin, professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University.
“But it’s also good to know that past accomplishments and the happiness that you had—looking back at your past—carries you through these very last years.” 
This is good information especially for those who have "lived" their lives. I'm not sure what it means for those who put off living until a later when the kids go to college or when they retire. 

I'm thankful to have spent my life around happy productive people. I think it must have rubbed off on me.  

I've always considered life a gift. There is beauty in every direction. A lot of people look without seeing.  I think it would benefit everyone to slow down and take a good look and the world around them.

If you get a chance, check out I think you'll be happy you did.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Preparing for Good Friday

My folks always did a great deal of their planting on Good Friday. I'm not sure if it was the religious significance of the day or just because it was when the earth warmed up enough to plant. 
But they usually had good luck, so in keeping with that tradition, I fired up the tiller today and broke up our garden spot in preparation for "the planting".
My nephew Haven brought the tractor over with some discs and broke up some additional space for corn and potatoes. I should have time to produce a bunch of what we eat.
In years past we've planted small patches and due to the scale of what we grew, it was not cheap. Expanding the operation slightly makes the numbers much better. 
The key is to store some of the food for later. We'll need to do our homework here. Jilda knows how to "can" fresh vegetables, but we also bought a dehydrator that we haven't used in the past.
This season should be interesting. I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required