Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I've been exchanging emails with a fellow blogger for a few years now. Bob Miller, AKA Grandpappy is an artist from Arizona.
He sent me a note a few weeks ago saying that he and his wife Shirley would be passing through Alabama on their way to a wedding in Florida and asked if we could get together.
We told him that we'd love to see them. Today, he programmed our address in his GPS and he drove directly to our house. I'm still amazed at that technology.
Bob and Shirley arrived just before lunchtime and we had a nice visit. Jilda whipped up her baked chicken on a bed of fresh lettuce, along with toasted bread and some olive oil dipping sauce. Yum.
Bob and Shirley are delightful folks. 
The last time it snowed here, I shot a photo off the back deck of our Cyprus tree. I called the photo Snow Cyprus.
Bob did a water color loosely based on the photograph entitled Jilda's Deer at Dawn. He gave it to us today along with another water color entitled Summer Dancing. These are stunning water color paintings.
Bob and Shirley live in Scottsdale, Arizona and they invited us to visit them there.
Not sure I want to go in the summer, but there's a good chance we can go in the fall.
I'm running out of steam tonight so I think I'll go veg for a while.
Have a great humpday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Barn Work

I've taken three truck loads of scrap metal to Sumiton Recycling over the past few weeks. There was so much junk in my shed, behind the shed, and in the barn. Not quite sure why, but it's been there for years.
It's a pain loading that stuff up because you don't get much money for it, but the reward is not tripping over it when I walk around the place.
It's also good to know that the junk can be melted down and made into new products at a reduced cost.
There may be a few more things that will go, but it's looking much better around here now.
I'll start pouring new foundation supports and buying up rough cut lumber over the coming weeks to get the old structure back in shape. I look forward to this work.

Japanese Beetle

I just ID'd the pest that's been eating my green beans. They look like Japanese Beetles.
 I've been catching them an stomping them. When I started several days ago, I was getting twelve to fifteen at a time. It's now down to two or three.
I hope they get the message.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Farm Stuff

We finally got some rain tonight. It's been well over a week and the garden was beginning to wilt. I walked down just before dusk and everything seemed to be rejoicing.
Jilda and I are rejoicing too because we finally got to hear rain on our new metal roof.
Now on to the garden - I'm battling some kind of beetle on my green beans. They have eaten a bunch of leaves. I started earlier this week spraying neems oil, which is an organic pesticide, but it takes time for that to work.  I started using the old analog method - I stomp 'em.
They are slick little critters because when you get close to them, they drop like a stone to a lower leaf and then make their escape.
Once I learned their routine, I got a plastic cup and hold it down below them as I reach and they drop right into the cup. I bet I've stomped 300 over the last few days.
I really don't like killing critters. If they would only eat a little, I could live with that. But they are greedy so, they can't dine here without paying the ultimate price.
We have company coming on Wednesday. My blog buddy Grandpappy and his wife are driving from Arizona to Florida for a wedding and they plan to make a stop in Empire, Alabama.
We're sprucing the place up as best we can. I had planned to pressure wash the decks and walks, but the pressure washer went south and won't be out of the shop until later in the week, so we'll have to make do.
I worked around the barn today. It needs a great deal of work to get it back in shape because I haven't put a lot of focus on in in years past. I really didn't have time to spend when I was working full time, but now that I don't have the day gig, I plan to get it where it needs to be.
I love the old barn and it deserves better. It's my intention to give it the attention in the coming weeks.
I'll post some pictures in the coming days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Have you ever noticed that the longer you live, the older you get?  Just sayin'. Maybe it's the lunar eclipse, the humidity, or the waning moon, but I've been waxing philosophical tonight.
Here's something you may never have contemplated, but you can go for years without dropping any food in your lap, but the moment you wear a new white T Shirt, you WILL splatter spaghetti sauce all over it - inside and out. I've come to realize that it's an unwritten natural law, but it's as true and sure as gravity. 
Douglas Adams, the English author who passed away a few years ago said something profound. He said that nothing can travel faster that the speed of light with the exception of bad news. 
Anyhow, we just got back from a visit with old friends, and it's past my bedtime, so I'm signing off for now. I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three Days and Counting

Last night was the third night without losing a chicken. I think the electric fence is working. In this first picture, you see how I have it wired.

The second picture shows a close up of the solar charger and you can see the raccoon left a little gift on it. Apparently he tried to climb in over the top of the gate and got a shocking surprise.

I really don't want to hurt these critters, but they need to learn to eat something else.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I find joy in little things

I've come to realize that I find joy in little things. Our screened porch is one of my favorite features at our house. 
Whenever I get writer's block the porch is my retreat. I put classical music on the stereo, switch on the porch speakers, grab my laptop and head for the porch. 
Even on warm days, it's comfortable out there because that side of the house is situated under a giant water oak and it stays about five degrees cooler than other parts of the house.
I can sit out there sipping sweet tea with a gentle ceiling fan breeze tinkling the chimes and inspiration always comes to me.
The screens are a bit shabby now and I could never find time to replace them while I was working. Today, I picked up some screen, a few lattice boards for trim and I spent the afternoon repairing the porch.
The afternoon was as still as a tomb, and the humidity was just slightly less than glass of water, but I took my time.
I collected all my tools and set up a work space. I put on the music and planned my work. By the time Jilda got home from work, the worst part was fixed. I have two small places to repair tomorrow, but that will only take a few minutes to finish up.
It feels good to do things where you can see immediate results. When I worked the day job, I'd work for weeks on projects that had no end is sight. It can be frustrating when you can't see light at the end of the tunnel.
But today, I found joy in the simple act of repairing the screens. Maybe it's a function of age, or maybe it's just that you have to slow down a little so that you can "be here now."
There's power in that. Not sure folks will believe it unless they experience it, but for me, I know it's true.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Every Day's a School Day

Jilda and I wrote a song with our friend Tracy Reynolds called Life 101. In the chorus it says “sometimes you get the test, before you get the lesson”.  I was reminded this week just how true those words are.
I’m planning some foundation work on the barn and our old storage shed so I bought a spiffy new concrete mixer. On the way home from the tool store, I stopped by a local hardware store and bought four eighty pound bags of concrete to get started.
I almost busted a gut loading the bags and I knew I didn’t want to lug each sack a few hundred feet to the shed, so I fetched the wheelbarrow for the job.
My old wheelbarrow has a flat tire so I used the new garden tool which is a combination wheelbarrow and cart. It’s ergonomically designed with two wheels in front and a handle that is a single bar across the back so that you can pull or push it. It’s perfect for most small hauling jobs.
So anyway, I positioned the wheelbarrow/cart at the back of the truck and I then hoisted the eighty pound bag of concrete off the back of the truck and dropped it into the wheelbarrow.
Now I didn’t take physics in school, but if I had, I would have understood things like gravity, force, balance, and Newton’s third Law of Motion which says - To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The action and reaction act on two different bodies simultaneously.  
Having missed those lessons was costly because as soon as I dropped those eighty pounds onto the front of that wheelbarrow, the front plunged downward, and the handle sprang up with remarkable speed and whacked me across the nose so hard that it made me see stars.
I decided to sit down right there in the driveway and think about life, liberty and the pursuit of knowledge. It also gave me a moment to shake those stars out of my head.
I looked around to see if any of the neighbors saw the mishap. 
Doing something stupid is bad enough, but when someone sees you do something stupid, you not only have to deal with the mishap, but you have to deal with the embarrassment too.
As it turns out, all I had to deal with was excruciating pain, bleeding nose, and the possibility of having two black eyes.  The headache eventually subsided, so all in all, I think I was lucky, and I learned something valuable.
Someone could have told me a thousand times to be careful when loading heavy objects on wheelbarrows, and I probably would not have learned a thing. But getting decked by a wheelbarrow handle traveling at the speed of light brought the lesson home.
I can promise you this, I will, from this day forward, be very careful when loading heavy objects on ANYTHING!
The chorus to the song I mentioned above goes like this:
Every day is a school day
No matter how old you are
Sometimes the test comes before the lesson
Welcome to life 101.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not as young as I used to be

We had a house full of great nieces and nephews this evening. We'd invited them and their parents over to pick blueberries, blackberries, and some fresh veggies. 
They had a large time. We spent a great deal of time in the garden. These kids love the garden. Breeze is truly a flower child. Every time she comes to our house, she HAS to go out and look at all the flowers. Jilda always sends her home with an arm full. 
Stone, Daisy, and Jordan ran and played in our back yard until they could barely move.
We grilled hotdogs and Jilda whipped up a batch of her world famous deviled eggs. 
I think the kids would have eaten them until they spewed, but fortunately, we ran out before we reached the critical stage.
I hope the kids are old enough to remember having a good time at our house. 
They left at eight and I felt like I'd been rode hard, spurred deep and put up wet. Guess I'm not as young as I used to be.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is War

If you're getting tired of hearing about the plight with my chickens, I hate it. It's getting personal now. We lost four more last night to marauding raccoons, so I'm raising the bar - taking off the gloves. I am not a happy farmer.
I went to the Tractor Supply place today and bought a super-duper solar charged electric fence. In an area as small as mine, this little rig puts out about 2000 volts. 
I charged that baby up, wired the perimeter, and I'm hoping that raccoon gets tangled up in it. There's very little current (amperes) running through the wires, so it won't kill him/her, but there's a good chance they'll lose all control of their bladder and bowels if they get in it just right. I hosed down the perimeter to make sure they get max juice if they try to get in tonight.  
Believe me because this is the voice of experience talking here, once they get in an electric fence, they WILL be respectful of them from that day forward. 
We'll see what daylight brings. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice

The first day of summer was a warm one here in Empire, Alabama. When I was a kid, we played hard outside in the summer. If it was hot, well then too bad. We'd take our cutoff jeans with us and take a dip in the afternoon in Powell Hollow pond to beat the heat.
Powell Hollow was really just an unreclaimed strip pit that filled with water. It had a shallow end for wading, and a deep end with steep bluffs for diving.
The swimming hole was probably ten acres with cattails on the western shore and a steep bank on the eastern end that had huge cottonwood trees that bloomed purple blossoms this time of year. The flowers smelled like grape bubblegum. It was a great way to stay cool on hot days.
I haven't been up to Powell Hollow in over thirty years, but I'm guessing the state finally got around to reclaiming that land so swimming there is probably not an option.
But tonight as I sat out on the back deck and admired the moon, the air was still hot.  I thought to myself, I'd love to take a nighttime swim in that old pond.
I think that would be just the ticket to cool things off.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

The last Chevy truck that my father owned had air conditioning, but he rarely turned it on. He preferred to ride with the windows rolled down so that he could be a little closer to outdoors.
If he'd had his way, he would have been a forest ranger or game warden so that he spend his days outside.
He hunted and fished, but trophy bucks or bass were not important. One song that the Overalls do on occasion has a line that says "The important part of fishing ain't the fish but the fishing".  That line lays out my dad's philosophy.
Today, was absolutely stunning and I know my dad would have loved it.
Jilda and I drove over to Brookwood Hospital to visit our newest great nephew Anthony Haven Phillips who is the son of Haven and Alesha.
One the way home, the sky was blue as a swimming pool with big cotton candy clouds drifting slowly. It was a beautiful day. I thought about my dad. It occurred to me that if he were here today, we'd have the windows rolled down with our shirt sleeves rolled up and the wind tousling my hair. His hair rarely got tousled because he used Rose Oil Hair Tonic and combed his hair straight back.
I hope it's been a great day for all fathers. I wish I could have called mine today and planned a day of fishing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Today I can strike another goal off my list. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to put a metal roof on our house. For one reason, then another, we were unable to do it.
During the recent monsoons, we saw a few small stains on our living room ceiling and we knew it was time to bite the bullet and move forward with the roof.
We contacted some folks that have had metal roofs installed and several recommended Billy Boshell. I called him and he drove up and measured everything. 
He and his crew showed up at 7:30 a.m. and by 11:00 a.m. they were almost through when a thunderstorm chased them down.  It rained for about an hour and a half but as soon as the clouds parted, they were back and soon afterward, they were finished.
I walked around after they were gone and they didn't leave a scrap of metal or anything else in the yard. 
This evening Jilda and I waled around and admired the new roof. I can't wait until our first gentle rain.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Down HIll

Taylor is going down hill fast. She's the dog we found starving at the dump about ten years ago. She's not a smart dog, but she is one of the most lovable dogs we have ever owned. 
Several years ago she came up missing and we found her several days later stuck up to her haunches in a rabbit hole. She had almost starved to death (again). We nursed her back to health, but I think the trauma of almost dying caused her to develop an eating disorder because she went from about 40 pounds to over a hundred now.
For years, Jilda and I both worked during the day and we left food out for all our dogs, but Taylor seemed to consume more than her share.
As a result, she has developed serious health problems. She's now blind and almost deaf. Yesterday she couldn't get up. I'll take her back to the vet, but I'm not sure what they will be able to do much for her.
She has heart worms too and the summer heat is brutal on her. At some point I'm sure we'll have to put her down. That's not something I look forward to. We've had to put other pets down and it's always hard, but there comes a time when it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Night Gig

We had about twenty folks who dodged thunderstorms tonight to join us at Local Color in Springville. I don't think it ever rained there but you could see bad clouds all around us.
My nephews Mike and Shane came tonight with their wives, girlfriend and kids. We haven't seen them in a while so it was really good to catch up.
Mike drove up in a 1969 Camaro SS. It looks like it had just rolled off the assembly line. Those were/are beautiful cars.
I thought we did good tonight. We played songs that will be on our upcoming CD, along with a few cover tunes.
I also did some readings from my book. 
All the practice we've put in over the past month is paying off. Jilda's playing is getting much smoother and we are blending more. 
Our friend Fred, who does sound for us said that I need to work out some different harmony arrangements.  Harmony is difficult for me for some reason. I can work out something that I think sounds good, but when I listen to replays, it doesn't sound like I thought it did. I recently bought some harmony training CD's so I guess it's back to the drawing board there. 
All in all, I was happy with our performance. 
Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A good time was had by all

Jilda and I played at a private party tonight in Jasper. It was a statewide sorority convention with probably thirty women from all over the state. 
Jilda and I played a few songs after dinner and I did a reading from my book. These folks were delightful. They were so appreciative of our music. During the reading, they laughed in the right places which is always a plus.
I sold some books and had a delightful meal there at Ms. Quigley's Tea Room restaurant. 
Tomorrow night we play at Local Color Cafe in Springville. I just hope it's not hotter than a sauna because we're playing on the patio. Time will tell.
Y'all come if you're in the area.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So It Goes

Rolling thunder woke us up from our nap after lunch today. I stepped to the back deck to survey the clouds. Before I got to the door, our weather alert radio alarmed saying there was a severe thunderstorm in Walker County. "No joke," I thought to myself. All of a sudden lightening struck something nearby. The concussion of the strike shook the windows and caused Jilda to squeal.
Just then the lights flickered off and all the dogs wanted in our laps, which is a problem because three of them are huge. We weighed Black last week and he tipped the scales at 96 pounds. Taylor weighs about 105 and Astro who is the smaller of the three big dogs and he weighs 84 pounds.
We kept them calm while the storm passed, but they were unhappy that the fan was off.
They were also peeved when we had to leave a short time later to do a book signing at The Little Professor in Homewood this evening. They were happy when we returned.
We are playing for a private gig tomorrow evening and I'll do a few readings, so maybe I'll sell a few books there.
Then on Thursday evening, we play at Local Color Cafe near Springville. We start at 7:30.
This is a busy week for us, but so it goes.
Y'all stay dry.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Things are Scarier Than Snakes

I found out last week there that are thing much scarier than snakes, spiders and drug addled drivers on the wrong side of the road. 
What scared the living daylights out of me was an irregular shaped spot the size of a pencil eraser that appeared on Jilda’s forearm just above her left wrist.
Jilda has blonde hair, blue eyes and skin that’s as white as Casper the friendly ghost. She is super mindful about the sun – I think she wears sun block to bed at night, but even with all the caution, a place came up on her face last year.
She went to one doctor at UAB who looked at the tiny place on her nose and said it was nothing to be concerned with. 
Jilda had a feeling that didn’t sit well so she got a second opinion and as it turns out, the tiny spot was basal cell carcinoma. It had to go. 
The doctor did a remarkable job with the surgery leaving only a tiny scar that only she can see.
His instructions to her were very clear - if ANYTHING comes up that looks odd, come see me immediately. “Tell the receptionist you need an appointment now.”
Ever since then, I routinely check her like I’m looking for ticks. 
She was out of town in yoga training when the place appeared and she showed it to me when she got home on Sunday.
I wanted to call the doctor right then, but she convinced me to wait until the morning.
That Sunday night was a very long night for me. I slept fitfully and each time I woke up, I laid awake wondering what on earth I would do if something happened to her.
We started dating on my graduation night in May of 1968. We broke up for a while during my stint in the Army but we were thick as thieves when my tour was over and we tied the knot in 1974.
Some married couples practically live separate lives, having different hobbies, interests and world views. That’s not the case with us. 
We’ve always enjoyed a lot of the same things. We love writing and playing music, traveling, gardening and entertaining friends. 
I always thought culture was what grew on cheese when it stayed in your fridge too long, but she’s taught me through the years about the finer things in life that would have slipped right by me.
She’s one of the most creative people I know and she’s down right funny.
Heck, I wouldn’t have anything to write about if it weren’t for her.
I went to the doctor with her on Tuesday. To say that I was wound up tight as a piano wire, as we waited to be called back to see the dermatologist, is an understatement.
When the doctor told her the small place was a type of bruise and nothing to worry about, I was so relieved, I almost wet my pants.
I’m not a pray-er by nature. I figure the Good Lord has a lot more important things to worry about than most of my petty grievances. 
I save my requests for my closest friends and family members when they are hurting, sick or in need.
I did say a prayer on Tuesday, and I made a promise to never take my wife for granted again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hot Tamale

I wonder if it's actually possible for a human to melt into the turf?  I'm guessing not, because if it were possible, I believe I would have melted today.
I got to the cemetery at 6 a.m. this morning to do the collection duties for people coming to place flowers on graves for decoration. At first I thought, hey, this is not that bad. But then the sun peeked over the church and started beating down on the tent like the exhaust from a blast furnace. 
Normally, there are four or five people who show up on Decoration Day to help with the collection duties, but not so today.
At 1 p.m. a couple of the guys from the church came out and offered to help. I didn't argue one bit. I was in my truck and on my way to eat a mama's house before they felt the full force of the heat.
By the time they knew they'd been had, I was munching on fried chicken and having blackberry pie for desert.
I really like volunteering down there at the cemetery. It's where my dad, and two brothers are buried. Also, my aunts, uncles, grandparents on my father's side of the family are also there.
It's much easier when the weather is a little more accommodating
Y'all have a great week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hot Day

Today was toasty here in Alabama. I worked this evening at Davis Cemetery collecting donations for the cleanup and maintenance fund.
I got there around 4:30 p.m. and already the sun was creeping under the tent which was set up by Bell Funeral Home to provide shade for workers.
We usually don't have anyone taking collections late in the day, but I figured that on hot days, a lot of people would wait until after 5 p.m. to decorate the graves of their loved ones.
My hunch was right because there were probably thirty cars that came to put out flowers. Most of those people donated money.
I also have the early shift in the morning but hopefully it will be a little cooler then.
On another note, I have a program on my iPhone that is kind of a photo blog. The idea is to shoot a photo that captures activity on a daily basis.
Today as I flipped back through the days of May and June, I could remember each day more clearly. Today I took a self portrait at the cemetery. Not the best photo of me, but I bet I'll remember how hot it was on June 12, 2010.
Have a great weekend

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Day

Today's been a good day. I got out early and found me a new interim computer and a decent price and I was back home before lunch.
I started copying the files off my old disk drive and if any of you have had computer issues in the past, know this is a prolonged process.
I had 168 gig of music. Let that sink in for a moment. That's 168 billion bytes of musical data on my old computer. I had almost that many pictures. When I did a copy command, the lights dimmed in the house.
Once I got that started, I went down and worked at Davis Cemetery for a while. It's Decoration Sunday at Davis. I'm on the board of directors for the cemetery and I wanted it to look nice.
The folks we have cutting the grass do a great job. Jamie Bradford at Souther Pride Lawn Service maintains the cemetery.  I know he can't be charging for all the work his crew does because Davis is a very old cemetery that's been there for almost two hundred years. There are native Americans buried there. We have Civil War veterans there and even someone who fought in the Spanish American War. The graves are laid out in a haphazard fashion and it's difficult to get any equipment in there to make the job simpler.
When I got home this afternoon, I worked on a rock wall at the top of our driveway. I've been picking up creek rocks out of the hollow for some time, so it's taken a while to get enough to make the wall look right.
Jilda came in and shot a photo with her iPhone.
It will take a day or two to get the computer up to speed, but I'm thankful I had backups.
If you don't do anything else this weekend, make backups of your computer data. You will thank me sooner or later.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Computer Trauma

I heard our old dog Charlie stirring last night and I got up to make sure there was water in his bowl. When I looked out the back door, there was a constant barrage of lightening off in the distance.
My weather alert radio didn't go off so I figured the storms would pass us by, but the longer I watched, it appeared the storm was drawing near.
I did what I always do when a thunderstorm approaches, and that's turn off all our computer equipment. The lightening did come very close. In fact, one strike was so close it made the telephones ring a half ring. That means lightening hit telephone equipment nearby.
This morning when I put the coffee on, I went in to fire up my desktop computer, but it wouldn't come up.
I fooled with it for several hours before I decided to get a drive enclosure for the hard drive out of the desktop. That way, I could test the drive to see if it was the culprit.
I learned that it wasn't the drive, but most likely the motherboard. The computer was three years old in May. That's really not that old, but replacing the motherboard will be costly. I'm trying to decide if I should try to start using my laptop exclusively or buy another desktop.
I love the laptop for a change of venue, but the way I work seems to flow better with my desktop. The jury is still out. I'll try the laptop for a few days and make a decision.
I'm thankful the data was intact because restoring from backups can be a pain especially since I've decided to migrate to Windows 7.
We'll see what the next few days bring.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I went to Harbor Freight Tool store today. I drooled up and down the aisles. My barn needs some work on the foundation and I want to build some steps and other projects involving concrete.
I could have rented a mixer, but this one was on sale and I decided to get it. It took me all afternoon to put it together.
It came is a box that wasn't much bigger than a microwave.  Fortunately, the instructions seemed to be written in English instead of written in Mandarin Chinese and translated by someone whose primary language is Farsi.
It works like a charm, but I did have a few nuts and bolts left over. I don't think I would trust an assembly job that didn't have any parts left over. It's just not natural.
Anyhow, I can't wait to build something.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Early Start

Today was a self maintenance day. I had an appointment to get my annual eye exam. We left out just after coffee and arrived at the Galleria a few minutes early.
What better way to waste a few minutes than to munch on a cinnamon bun. I ordered up a treat with roasted pecans on top with a hot cup of coffee.
We sat on a bench under the atrium. The morning sun was filtering through the curved glass and it felt good to be alive. We watched early morning shoppers scurrying around picking up sun dresses, bathing suites and other summer attire.
The prescription for my eyes remained the same this year. I decided to invest in a new pair of glasses. I think my eyes need a rest every once in a while from the contacts.
When I went outside after the appointment, the sun was blinding. I was really glad that Jilda went with me to chauffeur me around.
We met our friends Jamie and Kaye for lunch at a neat little meat and three there in Hoover. It was good catching up with them.
On the way home, I stopped by Harbor Freight Tools to buy a cement mixer. I have a ton of projects that require a little concrete work and rather than rent one, I figured I could buy one to do my projects and I could sell it afterwards if I wanted to (like that would ever happen.)
I have a busy week this week with decoration coming up on Sunday. I've have to get busy and knock out my column for this coming Sunday.
Have a great week.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Gardening is in my blood

I absolutely love gardening. The spring holds such promise of an abundant harvest. But this year, instead of feeling like I have a green thumb, I feel more like Eddie Albert in the old TV comedy series Green Acres.
In early spring, our young peach tree had hundreds of blossoms. As I surveyed the progress daily, my mind often drifted to the thought of eating summer peaches right off the tree. I could almost taste the sweet juice dripping down my chin.
But just after the peaches set, a tornado came through and it was much too close for comfort. It didn’t do any structural damage, but it blew all but one peach off our tree.
It looks lonesome hanging there. Jilda and I are trying to figure out who gets the peach. I could probably arm wrestle her for it, but with all the yoga she does, she’s curiously strong now and I’m not sure if I can take her. Maybe she will consider sharing it with me.
We planted cabbage this year, but we were about a month late. The plants seemed to do fairly well until one day, when I was inspecting the plants, I saw a few small holes that had appeared almost over night. Upon a closer look, I saw a tiny worm munching happily away on our cabbage. I gently picked him off and thumped him into the compost pile.
We went out of town for a few days and when we returned, all the cabbages had more holes than a flour sifter. This time when I picked the worms off, I stomped them with my tennis shoes.  But more worms came back and soon, our sad little cabbages whistled when the wind blew.
I pulled them all up by the roots and threw them in the compost bin to put them out of their misery.
We’ve had even worse luck with our chickens.  A month ago, we had a yard full of chickens. We’d wake up each morning to the sound of Henry the Rooster telling us the news. I’m guessing our late-sleeping neighbors called him something else, but we loved old Henry.
Then out of nowhere one morning, Henry disappeared. There were a few feathers near the fence, but other than that, not a trace of our rooster.
We had a mama hen with a brood of chicks that were still in the nest. The next morning, we found that our hen had been mauled and all the chicks, save one, were gone.
The next two days, the varmint ate all our chickens, except for one.
I did some research and narrowed the predator down to a couple of suspects. I was certain it was either a possum or a raccoon.
I bought a humane trap and the next night the puzzle was solved. I caught a raccoon that was as big as a Ford Focus.
Those critters have cute faces, but when I picked up the cage, it lunged for my hand from inside the cage. It sounded like a Bengal Tiger. I promptly dropped the cage and went to the shed to fetch my leather gloves.
I relocated the chicken slayer to Cullman County near the Mulberry River.
I felt so good about my conquest, that I went to Jasper Feed and Seed and bought six more baby chicks. 
The next morning when I went down to check the crib, all six chicks were gone.
Apparently, my striped friend had other family members who had heard about the Watson Chick-fil-a. 
I bought sardines and cat food for critter bait. The next morning I had Rocky Raccoon No. 2.
Jilda asked, “Is that the same raccoon?” I wasn’t sure if he’d found his way home or not, so, to be sure, I took a can of spray paint and painted some nifty blue racing stripes on his butt.
I’m not buying any more chickens until I’m sure I have relocated the entire family somewhere far away.
Even with all my mishaps, I’m still living a dream. Last night, as we sat down to our first meal of fried green tomatoes, squash, and new potatoes with fresh peppers, a gentle rain began to fall. By the time dessert was on the table, a “gully-washer” had swept a row of purple hull peas away. 
The Oakridge Boys summed it up well, I think, when they sang, “If you’re ever gonna see a rainbow, you got to stand a little rain.”

Sunday, June 06, 2010

New Biddies

We went out on a limb today and bought more baby chickens. These are a little older than the last ones we fed to the raccoon. 
We drove up to the Lacon Flea Market and picked our new chicks out of a wire basket.
Mr. and Mrs. Pierce had chickens of all kinds there. 

We didn't want to buy grown chickens and spend the next few weeks chasing them around the yard, so we opted for the smaller ones.
I went down to check on them before dark this evening, but something had gotten the eggs I was using for bait in the trap so I'm keeping the biddies IN the trap tonight until I can build them a secure cage tomorrow.
The last thing I need is for Rocky Raccoon to have another meal at my expense.

On another note, we spent a lot of time practicing today. Jilda made a quantum leap in her playing. She was struggling a little bit the last few weeks, but I could tell today that her technique is getting much smoother.
This much I know - playing guitar is really not that hard. The trick is you have to practice. No one picks up a guitar and masters it in an afternoon. The people who are good musicians, got good by repetition. Granted, some people it take fewer repetitions than others, but it takes repetition. That's why practice is vital.
If anyone who wants to play develops a practice routine and they stick to it, they can learn to play and play well.
So there, I've given you an update for Sunday, June 6th 2010.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


I love summer sunsets. I shot this one while on the way home this evening from mama-sitting. It was almost dark so I had to doctor it with Photoshop, but the contrast of red, magenta, and burnt orange against a dark blue sky can be breath taking.
This morning, Jilda and I practiced for our upcoming gig. Some of the songs are new for her, so it's taking some effort to get them down pat.
She usually picks up things so quickly that she can get frustrated when it takes time for her to assimilate.
I try to assure her that it takes a little while to get where you want to be, but she is impatient by nature and she promptly told me to shut up and keep playing.....which I did.
I love the process of practicing guitar. Many of the melodies we use in our songs comes from practice. I get lost in the rhythms, chords, and harmonics. Time seems to stand still.
You can experience this feeling with other things. For some people it's with sports, with others, it's dance; it's not uncommon to experience this feeling when you write, or paint.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book entitle "Flow" that explores this phenomena. I read it years ago, but it just popped into my mind as I was writing this entry.
The bottom line is this - doing something well, is rarely easy. I've heard people say - she (or he) is gifted. That may be so, but most people don't become exceptional at anything unless they practice. Practice takes time, so that means if you invest the time, then something has to slide. It all comes down to priorities.
I know that Jilda and I will get to where we need to be musically. It may take a little time, but for me, that's not a bad thing.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Mama House

No one is currently living in my mom's old house so I'm trying to keep the grass cut. It had gotten a little out of hand. Well, actually, it was kind of like a jungle. 
I cut it a few weeks ago and the grass was chest high in places. It took hours on my riding mower. When I went today, it was much more manageable but it had grown a bunch.
I got almost halfway through when the rain came. It's typical for this time of year - the sun blazing one moment, and the next your running for shelter.
When it finally stopped, I started cutting again and when I approached the big oak in her front yard, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
When I looked closer, I saw this little kitten. It was drenched to the bone and was covered in fleas. It was starving. Not sure what the story was, but I couldn't leave it to die, so I brought it home and dried it off. I used Ol' Buddy's flea comb and got most of the fleas off of it.
I then engaged the services of my niece Samantha who should have gone to school to be a vet because she is great with animals. 
She told me she would nurse it back to health, but I had to find it a new home. So here is the first installment of pleas to give this baby (female) kitten away.
It's a cute little rascal, but she can't stay here because of our dogs. So, please spread the word.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ya Gotta Work

When I visited my mama yesterday afternoon, she was in a little bit of a snitty mood. Not sure if she's getting enough fiber or what. She wasn't much of a conversationalist but it's sometimes hard talking over a TV with the volume maxed out. I think she must listen via vibrations through her rib cage.
Anyhow, she asked me where Jilda was and when I said she was working, she seemed to chew on that a little. A while later, she said, well that's what you should be doing!  I must have looked puzzled because she said "you heard me! It's the MAN'S place to do the workin'!"
Yes 'em I said. Just because I'd worked almost every day for the last 33 years didn't cut the mustard with her.
She probably would have said - "well, that's a good start, you need to work another 25 more!"
My mama is from the old school. There's no such thang as women's lib in her book. If one of my sisters had burned their bra, mama would have duct taped them babies down. In her eyes, any man who "lay sorry" while their wife worked was lower than snail poop.
To my folks, retiring was a foreign term. No one who was able bodied quit work. You worked until you couldn't, no if's, and's or buts.
I managed to navigate out of the lecture by asking about the Braves. Fortunately they had just spanked Phillie's, so she cheered up noticeably as she gave me the run down.
Note to self. Never tell the mom unit that my spouse is working, while I'm goofing off.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Our squash started blooming last week and now it's coming in fast and furious. We normally only have three or four squash plants because they are usually really prolific. A few plants can provide more squash that a family of two can eat and we wind up giving a lot of them away.
My nephew Haven planted a garden this year and he planted twenty squash plants. He call yesterday to say he'd pulled thirty-two squashes. He will need to hire a family of migrant farmers to help keep that many plants harvested.
When I went out this morning, I snapped this picture or our corn which just began to tassel. 
This is the first decent stand of corn we've had in several years. It seems the last few times we've planted, we were either too early or too late. 
This year we planted on Good Friday and so far it's seems to have worked out. The proof is in the corn shucks so I'll let you know for sure when we're munching on some roastnears. 
Congratulations to Normal Holt. He's a graduate of Dora High School that won in the primary election for a seat on the board of education.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Raccoon Rainbow

I caught raccoon number two today. He was about the same size as the one I caught last week. I missed him the night before last because he reached in over the trap trigger and pulled the sardines out of the trap, climbed up on the basket and ate them at his leisure.
I know this because it was about 6 a.m. in the morning and I was looking out my bathroom window as I brushed my teeth and I witnessed the entire episode. I was amazed at how agile that little critter was.
So we gave it a lot of thought. Jilda suggested that we put the sardines in a little plastic butter dish and cable tie it to the back of the basket.
I did what she suggested and rolled in a few eggs just for good measure. I walked outside as the coffee was brewing and BINGO. There he was.
I took him up to the next county and released him where I released raccoon number 1. Just to be sure that it's not the same critter that keeps finding his way home, I spray painted  his butt with blue paint. Not the whole rear end, just a few racing stripes like you'd put on an old Chevy.
Jilda chided me a little for this last tactic as she said "what if he's shunned by the other critters when they play their raccoon games."
If that happens, I hate that for the little dude, but I plan to spray paint every one I catch until I stop catching them.
My buddy Fred says that they are communal creatures and that it's not uncommon for there to be four or five in the bunch so my trapping days may not be over for a while. Maybe I'll buy some different color paint so they can form a raccoon rainbow group.

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