Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catching Up

I made good grades in high school without breaking a sweat. I was a charming kid that the teachers liked. As a result, they let me "slide".
To make matters worse, I went to summer school in the tenth grade and took English and Literature which means a year of course work was crammed into about eight weeks.
The upside was that I skipped the eleventh grade. The down side was "I SKIPPED THE ELEVENTH GRADE. I didn't read many of the books I should have read.
Many of the books that would have helped me with my mental development and to better understand a complex world, were left unread.
I thought I was being clever, but as it turns out, what I did was dumb and really short changed myself.
If I'd realized then that I wanted to be a writer, I would gone to school the full term. But, there's nothing I can do about that now.
So the last few years, I've been playing catchup. Here's a partial list of what I've read in the past few years:
Atlas Shrugged
Tom Sawyer
Treasure Island
Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
Catcher in the Rye (currently reading)
Stranger in a Strange Land
Anna Karina
Biographies of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Einstein, Hannibal
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
On the Road
Cat's Cradle
Breakfast of Champions
Slaughter House Five
Pillars of the Earth
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Plus countless recent fiction and short stories.

My friend  Grandpappy ( suggested that a book by Larry McMurtry entitled "Books". I recently found a used copy and I will be reading it next. It's a memoir by the writer about his love affair with books. I can't wait to read it. 
Anyhow, I can't do anything about taking a shortcut in high school, but I'm having fun now playing catch up.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Important Part of Fishing

I walked down to the field this evening after sunset to put some corn out for the deer. The air was brisk. It sounds odd to say that because last week I was whining about the heat, but I was glad I had on a long sleeve tee shirt this evening.
Off to the the west, the trees at the edge of our garden were silhouettes against a butterscotch sky. I love this time of year.
I'm not sure how much fall color we'll have, but the goldenrods are beginning to show out. 
I went fishing for a while this morning, but the water was too swift so I sat in the sun by the water and watched the clouds.
I used to do that a lot when I was a kid. 
When I got older, I could never find the time. I guess I thought there were always more important things to do than to spend an hour thinking and looking at the sky.
This past year, I've come to understand that finding time sit still and embrace the silence is one of the most important things you can do. It gives you the opportunity to see things more clearly. 
A line in a song that our friend Steve does goes, "The important part of fishing ain't the fish, but the fishing".
I could not agree more.    

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Gig

I got a call from one of my fishing buddies today and he asked me if I was interested in a job. He owns a couple newspapers and he wants me to do interviews and write feature stories for his publications. I've done a couple stories for him which received good feedback. This kind of writing appeals to me.
My first writing job when I got out of the Army in 1973 was at a weekly newspaper in our community. My good friend Dale Short was the editor and he taught me a great deal about how to write local interest stories.
His philosophy was that by the time a weekly paper hits the stands, hard news has been heard on the radio, seen on TV, and read in the daily paper.
"If people read hard news a week after it happens, then it's "old news", and no one wants to read that," he said.
What you have to do, is take the hard news and put a local spin to it.
He taught me to dig a little deeper and tell the story that the hard news guys missed. I honed my craft there.
Today, even some daily newspapers are struggling because by the time the headlines are printed, people have read the story on their iPhones and Blackberries. They've seen video on CNN and they've been "Tweeted" by someone on the scene.
So, I'm excited about the new opportunity. I'll meet my buddy next week to do some fishing and afterwards we'll discuss the specifics of the new gig.
I'll let y'all know how it goes. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Change In The Weather

I sat out on the screen porch yesterday morning and drank my coffee as the rain rattled the metal roof. We had company all weekend and Jilda was exhausted so she slept in. 
I could almost hear the oak and hickory sighing with relief. I knew a change in the weather was headed our way because the hummingbirds, who'd been in a feeding frenzy for the last several weeks, disappeared suddenly.
This morning after I put the coffee on, I stepped out on the back deck and looked up at the sky.
Grey clouds as thick as smoke hung low, and the air was down right chilly. A drop of rain that had been clinging to a leaf on our water oak, fell off and hit me right on the back of the neck. The cool drop raced down my spine and kicked off the first shiver of the season.
When we went for our morning walk, you could see a noticeable difference in the color on the trees.
The foliage may not be as psychedelic this fall as it's been in years past, but it is what it is. I'm ready for cooler weather.
On a more somber note, Jilda's brother who lives next door was rushed to the hospital this morning with chest issues. The good news is, he didn't have a heart attack. They are running tests in the morning to determine what caused the issue. Please send him (and Jilda) good thoughts. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little Danger is a Small Price to Pay

My daddy was kind of a horse trader, though he never really owned any horses when we were growing up.
He did wind up with a couple blue tick hounds in a three way trade that involved whiskey, a rusty pistol, and the hounds.
“Them dogs are the finest coon dogs in the county,” the toothless trader said as he took a pull from the bottle of whiskey.
I was about eight years old at the time but I can still remember the old man’s eyes kind of glazed over when he took that first sip of moonshine and he scrunched his face up as if he’d hit his thumb with a hammer. When he got his breath back, he managed to rasp, “This ain’t bad stuff!” 
Everybody shook hands to seal the deal and the dogs hopped into the back of the old pickup truck with me.
On the way home, daddy must have experienced “trader’s remorse” because he said “I sure hope your mammy don’t pitch a hissy fit over them dogs.” 
The first words out of mama’s mouth when we got home were, “I’m not feedin’ them dogs, if they get fed, y’all will have to do it.” 
Daddy looked at me conspiratorially and raised his eyebrows in what looked almost like a flinch, but I recognized it as a signal that said, “Wow, that was easier than I thought!”
That night we took the dogs up to Powell Hollow near the old strip pit to see if we could jump a raccoon.
Sure enough, the dogs jumped out of the truck, ran around a few minutes taking care of business, then one of them yelped as if he’d burned his paw, and they were off to the races.
Daddy cocked his head and listed to the sound of the dogs, as if he were listening to a symphony orchestra.
We fired up the carbide lanterns and headed after the dogs. It was quite as a tomb on that crisp autumn night and the sound of their barking made them easy to follow.
All of a sudden we stopped hearing them, which was a little strange. They went from barking every few seconds to not barking at all. It was as if they’d been abducted by alien canine snatchers.
As we walked deeper into the woods, we realized we could hear them, but they sounded far away. 
I heard daddy say, “Uh oh, I know what happened.” Then he instructed me to stay behind him and walk in his footsteps. It was then I felt a little freaked, as we inched further into the woods.
Suddenly, the sound of the dogs was getting louder, but there was an echo too.
Then daddy held his hand back and stopped me. He got down on his hands and knees and crawled up to the edge of a mining shaft almost hidden in the brush. When he shined his light down there, he could see the glowing eyes of the dogs about thirty feet down. They were OK, but the hole was too steep for them to climb out.
He then stood up and we headed back to the truck. I asked if we were just going to leave them down there. “We gotta get a rope,” he said. 
We headed back to the house and he fetched a length of rope and another lamp from the shed.
When we got back to the mining hole, the dogs were still there yapping like crazy. 
I had wondered on the way back to the hole if daddy planned to lasso the dogs with the rope or just how the rescue would happen. 
It wasn’t until he explained that he was going to tie the rope around my waist and lower me down into the hole to fetch the dogs that my enthusiasm faded. 
I was afraid, but I trusted my dad. He gave me the miner’s hat with a carbide lamp and he slowly lowered me down.
When I reached the dogs, they licked me like a pork chop. I took the rope from around my waist and tied it to the first dog and daddy slowly pulled him up to safety. We repeated the routine for the second dog, before he dropped the rope back for me.
The entire rescue operation took less than five minutes and I can tell you even though I was afraid at first, I became the hero of the hour especially to the dogs. My stock also rose with my dad. 
I know today, he would probably have been arrested for child endangerment if he pulled a stunt like that, but I was glad I got a chance to shine in the eyes of my dad. And for that, facing a little danger was a small price to pay. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I was so tired last night that my post was a little lame. After the show, we spent the night at the state 4-H Center in Columbiana, Alabama.
It is a beautiful facility on the banks of the Coosa River. Even though it was a late night, we got up early and did a nature walk. We strolled by the Raptor Rehab Center and looked at the birds convalescing there.
The walk was refreshing and after breakfast, everyone who'd been at the private show that our friend Steve did, were saying their goodbyes.
One woman talked about her father and how John Denver's music touched his life. It seems her brother and father had a turbulent relationship. Her father was unflappable when confrontations arose between the boy and his dad.
The only way the younger man could wound her father was to insult the music of John Denver. Now her elderly father is frail and in assisted living, and her brother, who has matured through the years still beats himself up because of the words that passed between he and his father.
I was looking into our friend Steve's face as the woman told the story and I could tell it affected him deeply. "My only gauge of how the shows went was by the looks on the faces of the people in the audience," Steve said. "I never realized the emotional connection ran that deep."
I mentioned to those standing there about he book, The History of the Senses that I'm currently reading.  The book was recommended to me as a tool to help me improve my writing. What I've learned has been really interesting.
The senses play a crucial role in how we perceive the world. We process the events we encounter each day by the sights, smells, tastes, touch, and sounds of our daily lives. The smell of  patchouli,  or a rainbow cast by a mobile hanging in a window can transport us back to a specific moment in our past.
A song can send you back to a simpler time in your life and put a smile on your face.
Annie Denver who was married to John Denver for many years said this at his private memorial:
John was a complicated man who wrote simple songs. I didn't know John personally, but my friend Steve did, and he also spoke and John's memorial service, said that the description was a true and elegant description of his friend.
Last night was a gift that I will remember for a long time.


We stayed up way past our bedtime tonight, but sometimes you just have to take tomorrow's pain. We did a sing-a-long with an old friend, Steve Weisberg who played a private party.
He played lead guitar with John Denver for years and he knows how to work a crowd. The songs he played and the stories he told were remarkable.
This will have to be a short post because I'm running out of steam fast.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aunt Rick

I'm Aunt Rick now. I kept my great nephew this afternoon while Jilda worked and we spent the time outside.
He'd rather go outside and down to the barn than eat.
He climbed on the tractor and figured out in a matter of seconds how to turn the flashers on. That tractor's been at the barn for two years and I never figured out how to turn on the flashers.
I told him he needed to turn the flashers off because it would run down the battery. He asked the required, why, why, why, to the 3rd power then he said OK Aunt Rick and turned the flashers off.
I mock scolded him and said I'm not Aunt Rick, I'm Uncle Rick! He laughed uncontrollably. I wish I had recorded it because there is nothing like the laughter of a child.
He then said, you're not Uncle Rick, you're Aunt Rick! And then he'd laugh. We must have gone back and forth for twenty minutes.
When his Nanna came to pick him up, big tears came up in his eyes and he kept saying, "Jordan wants to stay with Aunt Rick, Jordan wants to stay with Aunt Rick!
His Nanna looked at him, then at me. I told her it was a long story and she nodded as if to say she understood.
He went with her, but they had to walk down to the barn so that he could show her how to turn on the flashers.
To be continued.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I had scheduled a fishing day today, but that didn't happen. As I mentioned before, I can be soooo creative when it comes to procrastination.
I have a couple of pieces due tomorrow, and as of this morning, I hadn't started either. So, I stowed my fishing gear in the closet, I got up before the chickens, and I started writing.
I ran out of steam just after lunch and decided to take a nap. After I got up, I checked the laptop, but as I expected, the writing fairy had not finished the stories.
So, I got back down to business. After a few more hours, I took a long walk and cleared our walking path of encroaching blackberry bushes.
I was hopeful when I returned from my walk, but again, the stories still were not complete. I worked a few more hours tonight, and I'm now so close I can smell the barn.
I'll crank up on coffee in the morning and have another run at them. They WILL be complete before the noon deadline.
If anyone has any cures for procrastination, please send them to me immediately, or I may never get to fish again!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I rode down to the store this evening to pick up a few things before our company arrived. Sometimes I ride with the windows rolled down to let the wind blow through my hair. 
Somehow it makes me feel more connected to the moment than when I'm isolated behind glass and steel. 
As I sat at a red light, I heard the sound of a train whistle off in the distance which was odd because I know the nearest tracks are at least five miles away. Sometimes sound travels through hills and hollows in strange and wonderful ways.
Hearing the sound of the train reminded me that it's been way too long since we've ridden the rails. One of my Bucket List items is to ride the Orient Express. Even as a child, I was attracted to the idea of riding on the Orient Express. 
My mind drifted away trying to imagine the sights and sounds I might hear riding that train. My spell was rudely broken when I didn't move as the light changed, and a driver behind me was kind enough to let me know.
The website has this to say:

Romance, excitement and pure pleasure are all bound up in journeys that link the great European cities. The adventures of celebrated historic personalities are still palpable today, held in the original 1920s carriages with their Lalique glass panels, wood burning stoves and Art Deco marquetry.

Who wouldn't want to ride this baby? 

I would be curious to know what experience any of you have had on trains. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stop your stinkin’ thinkin’ ~ yesterday's column

Henry Ford made one of the most profound statements that I’ve ever heard when he said, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

When I say this, people often look at me as if I were smoking crack cocaine, but it’s a motto I live by.

What Ford meant of course, was if someone believes they can’t do something, they’ll stop before they ever try, and if they believe they can do something, they won’t stop until they succeed, because they know “they can do it!”

So why is this important and why am I talking about this now? Well it seems there is an epidemic raging that self-help guru, Zig Ziglar calls stinkin’ thinkin’.

“How are you?” is a common greeting that people use today. Whenever I’m asked that question, I ALWAYS respond, “I’m living a dream”.

About nine times out of ten people will say, “I wish I were,” or, “I am too, but mine is a nightmare!” or some other remark that tells me they are not living the life they want to live.

Why is that? Sometimes people are saddled with illness, or other life situations that dim their outlook, but this is not the case with the majority of people. 

Stinkin’ thinkin’ has them believing they are trapped with no way out.

The truth is, almost everybody can begin to live their dream once they make up their mind to.

Everything begins with a thought. All the good things (and bad), from inventing Popeils Pocket Fisherman, to walking on the moon, began with a thought. 

Now mind you, getting someone on the moon took a lot of money, and some folks that were good with arithmetic, but it started out with a thought.

I believe the remarkable success the Alabama football program is having right now can be directly attributed to the mental workouts that Coach Nick Saben has installed in the program.

Some people prefer to believe that success is all about timing and luck. But the truth is, being successful has very little to do with luck. It’s more about dedication, preparation, and persistence. It’s about forming good habits and repeating them daily.

So what is the cure for stinkin’ thinkin’? Well, as you may have guessed, it starts with a thought.

You think about what you want. Once you have a picture in your mind, you have a place to start.

“Hey, I’m not stuck in this dead-end job forever, I could go back to school at night and learn a new trade.”

Or, “I could turn my hobby of quilt making into a part time business, and work hard to do it full-time.”

Or, “I’m over weight now, but if I started eating more fruit and vegetables every day instead of eating hamburgers, fries and drinking buckets of soft drinks, maybe I could drop a few pounds.” 

There is a little voice in everyone’s head whose sole job is to maintain the status quo.

“Whoa, there bubba, remember you’re stupid! You don’t need to waste your time studying, you’ll never get smart.”

Or, “Who in their right mind would EVER hire you? Be happy with your pitiful lot.”

I tell you, all good things begin with a thought. You CAN change your life for the better.

Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you’re right.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes you can't walk away

I am an easy going person. I guess it's in my DNA because my daddy and brothers were the same way. We'd go out of our way to avoid trouble if possible.
In grade school I minded my own business. My philosophy was live and let live, but there were some kids there who did not share this view.
One kid in particular was small in stature, but he was the biggest bully in grammar school. He picked on any kid that crossed his path.
I steered clear for the longest, but one day he cornered me on the playground. He began making fun of my shoes in front of my sweetheart at the time.
I kept a level had and took the verbal abuse but when I turned to walk away, he jumped on my back, put his arms around my neck, and laughed hysterically as he yelled, "ride me like a horse Watson!"
Something welled up inside me that I had never experienced before. I reached up with my hands, grabbed his forearms and flipped him over my shoulders with a force that was fueled by fear and anger.
He hit the ground very hard and his eyes rolled back in his head. "I've killed him," was the only thought running through my head.
As it turns out, I had only knocked the breath out of him. While he was still laying on his back trying to regain his breath, and his composure, I leaned in really close so that only he could hear me.
I told him if he ever bothered me again, I would beat him to death with my bare hands.
Not that I could have, or would have, but apparently he didn't want to chance it because he never bothered me again.
I would never advocate violence because it rarely solves any problems. It usually creates new and more complex issues, but there are times when it is very difficult to walk away.
Thankfully,  at least for me, those times have been few and far between.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Road Not Taken

Every now and then I pull out my dog-eared books and re-read them.  It's a humbling experience to read the really good stuff.  I mean, these guys use the same words as most everyone else, but they arrange them in remarkable ways.
A while back I read a book entitled, The Rise and Fall of Alexandria and I was stunned.
Most of the works in the great library burned, but the description of what that institution contained is incredible. 
The knowledge that was lost when those books were destroyed, is immeasurable. 
OK......what led me down this path? Oh yes, I re-read a poem by Robert Frost today. This is one of my favorite poems.
If you've never read it, enjoy. If you have already read it, you have my permission to skip it because I won't be testing on it this time.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Deer Season

Deer season soon is coming too soon. My nephew is a deer hunter and he hunts on leased land that adjoins our property. 
I've heard all the arguments for hunting deer:
1. You have to thin out the herd so they don't over populate
2. They will starve or otherwise die of disease or old age, and so on.
I'm sure these are valid reasons to someone, but I would really hate to think that one of our deer that we've been feeding forever, will be killed by hunters.
I saw a funny cartoon once where the deer were armed and were returning fire. A hunter takes a flesh wound in the arm and as he dives for cover, he screams to his partner, "Hey! They're shooting back, THAT'S NOT FAIR!" 
I howled when I saw that one and I wish I'd cut it out and saved it.
If I were to hit the lottery, or that my next book hits the best seller list (which is almost as great a long shot as hitting the lottery), I'd buy all the adjoining land and no one would harm, fowl, fish, or animal.
Anyhow, when I talked to my nephew, I told him under no circumstances, bother a critter on our land, and not to tell us if he killed a deer around here. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's a Racket!

I thought we could get by till cold weather without buying another round of flea medicine for the dogs, but that didn't happen.
They all started scratching and moaning several days ago so when I went to the co-op this morning for feed and seed, I picked up enough medicine to treat all five dogs.
My first car cost less that what it costs to treat these dogs for fleas. As my father-in-law Sharky used to say, "It's just a racket!" I could not agree more.
When I returned home, I got out the flea comb, which is a metal device with teeth that are really close. When I combed the dogs, I trapped a lot of the little varmints, which I immediately dropped in a jar of gasoline. Good riddance you little blood suckers.
The only thing I hate worse than fleas, are cockroaches. When Jilda and I married, our first home was a 12x65 foot trailer. We should have been suspicious when we smelled Raid the day met the owners there to sign papers. We were so happy to have a place of our own, it probably would not have mattered, but it would have been good information to know.
We struggled with roaches for several years. We'd have exterminators spray, and you could see the scuzzy little creatures baling out and going to the trailer next door. When the neighbors sprayed, the bugs came back.
Things changed when my job sent me to Mobile to work after Hurricane Fredrick demolished most of the infrastructure in the port city.
We simply turned every thing off, locked up the trailer, and moved into a Howard Johnson's Motel on Government Street in Mobile for almost a year.
What was unfortunate for the roaches, is that it was one of the hottest summers on record in Alabama.
It got so hot in August, you could have cooked biscuits on our front doorsteps. That trailer was like a convection oven inside.
When we returned the fall of 1980, there was not a roach to be found. Even when you went to the kitchen for water in the middle of the night, there was nary a roach to be found.
Too bad we couldn't figure out a way to bake these fleas without having hotdogs (I couldn't resist).
Y'all have a great Friday and weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Night Sky

I walked out on the back deck tonight to see if I could catch the scent of rain on the wind. Radar showed thunderstorms popping up all around, but none were near Empire.
I sat on our wrought iron chair, laid my head back against the garden door and looked at the sky. The moon was half full and bright as a camera flash that forgot to go out after the picture was taken. A high flying jet heading west left a contrail that looked like a white cotton rope that was strung across the night sky.
The moon was so bright that it took a while for the stars to come into focus. Soon it will be cool enough to break out the telescope for some stargazing. 
The telescope was an anniversary gift from my old employer. The pictures that come into focus when you turn the dial are remarkable.
It won't be long until our great nephew Jordan, who lives next door, will be old enough to do some sky watching. I'll have to bone up on my astronomy to be able to answer the battery of questions that I know he will have for me. Many of his questions will go unanswered, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because I'll encourage him to read and study so that he can find some of the answers on his own. 
Tonight we didn't have the gift of rain, but I did get a chance to look into the heavens and contemplate the vastness of the Universe, which is really a gift in itself.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cotton Pickin' Wasn't For Me

Jilda and I attended the funeral of my first cousin, Glenn Parker last week in Huntsville. As we drove on I-565 I noticed fields of cotton just off the Interstate, the boles bursting open like popcorn. 
It looked as if a light snow had fallen. 
I have some experience in the field of cotton (pun intended). It only took one day for me to realize that I wasn't meant to be a cotton picker.
The only job I liked less was catching chickens in those huge chicken houses, but that's another story.
I was about 13 when mama hooked me up with Big John Watson (no relation) to spend an autumn day dragging a canvas sack, trying to fill it with something that weighed just slightly more than a sneeze on a cool morning.
The temperature was in the 50s as I climbed in the bed of the cotton-picking truck (I'm loving these puns).
I tossed my sack lunch in the back, found me a spot, and then slapped the side of the truck to signal Big John that I was situated. He eased out on the clutch and we wobbled down the red-rock road toward the fields.
I immediately wished I had worn a jacket, and pulled my flannel shirt up around my ears to block the wind. The morning seemed a lot colder in the back of that open truck.
By the time we rolled through Sumiton, there were several folks in the bed of the truck, but Big John made one last stop to pick up another picker. 
This lady looked as old as a Greek ruin, but now that I think back, she was probably younger than I am now.
She wore a long dress to her ankles, a sun bonnet, and a sweater. Apparently she had seniority, because she rode in the cab.
Once we reached the fields, Big John handed out the pickin' sacks. My sack was a six-foot canvas sack that was big enough to put a full grown man in if you needed to. 
The sack the older lady got was a nine foot sack. I wasn't sure why she got the bigger sack, but after an hour or so, I understood.
She was thin as a fencepost with long spider-like fingers that wrapped easily around the cotton boles. She moved quickly down the middles, her hands almost a blur, picking two rows at a time. 
I tried to keep up, but my inexperienced hands felt like I was wearing baseball gloves. I barely managed to get the cotton from one row. 
When the sun came up, the morning warmed up quickly. I pulled off my flannel shirt, tied it around my waist by the sleeves, and worked in my cotton T-shirt. 
Later in the morning, she had picked to the end of the field and had started back toward me. When we met, she paused for a moment and stood up straight to stretch her back and wiped her brow with a handkerchief. 
Her bag was almost full, and mine wasn't even half way. I told her that she sure did pick fast. 
"It's best to pick faster in the morning while the dew is on the bole" she said, "because it weighs more."
At that she winked as if she'd shared a valuable piece of information with me, and then she got back to her work. 
I upped the pace and filled my sack before the sun dried the dew off the boles.
We knocked off around 3 p.m. and I had picked the grand total of 101 pounds. At 3 cents a pound, I took home the grand total of $3.03. 
I don't remember exactly how much the lady picked, but I remember being a little embarrassed at my performance when measured against hers.
I will say that I've never worked harder, or been more proud of a payday in my life.
Trying different kinds of work was important to me. It gave me a chance to decide what I wanted to do with my life. 
Bad jobs were as valuable as good ones in those days, because they gave me incentive to work harder in school so that I could find a good job -- one that paid well even when the dew wasn't on the bole.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Porch Weather

I started to post my column from yesterday, which is what I usually do on Monday nights. Then, Jilda gave me that, "cheater, cheater, pants on fire" look, so I decided to man up and write something tonight.
The weather has been too hot to sit out on the screen porch, unless we wanted to get out there before sunrise and sip coffee naked.
Even in the evenings after sunset, the air has still been uncomfortable. We've become such wimps.
But, this morning it was in the 50s, and I decided that I'd spend the afternoon getting the porch ready for fall.  So I took all the "stuff" off the porch and hosed it down. There was enough dust on the chairs to grow a patch of potatoes. When I got through sweeping the corners and the ceiling, I had a wad of cobwebs as big as a full-grown collie. There was enough web-yarn to weave a rug.
After I finished, I sat down and admired my work. The slow spinning ceiling fan made it feel like heaven out there. The porch looked much bigger without the cobwebs.
I expect we'll have coffee out there tomorrow, and maybe lunch too. I'm slowly getting my todo list whittled down.

"Operation Simplification" Part 2

OK, I know I said that Jilda and I were going to be brutal when de-cluttering the house, but she almost threw away a pair of Fluttering Angels 3D glasses.
That's WAY over the top! I had to scoop them right out of the trash and pin them to the wall in the office with a stick pin.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Operation Simplify"

I have a couple items on my todo list that I've been dreading for some time. Cleaning out my office closet, and cleaning out the tool shed.
Both places are filled beyond capacity so that when ever I open one of the doors, things fall out. I fear one day one small falling item may drag a larger item with it, which could start a fatal avalanche. I'd be discovered days later under mountains of debris.
Jilda would say, "I'm not sure what happened officer, he didn't come home for supper last week, but I assumed he was visiting friends in Pascagoula.
I feared the worse when buzzards kept circling that huge pile of debris out yonder by the tool shed."
To overt catastrophe, we both decided to initiate "Operation Simplify".
Jilda got the ball rolling when she began reducing clutter in two of her spaces. We've hauled truckloads of stuff to the Thrift Store. She must have reasoned that her junk was either valuable, or would be useful in some shape, form, or fashion at some point in the future. I doubt we will ever miss anything we haul off.
I'm even worse at keeping junk that she is. I cracked the door of the tool shed this morning to get a feel for what I was up against, and I right away I spotted pieces of an eight track tape deck. These babies were invented when Johnson was in the White House.
I also spotted pieces of an air purifier that has been broken for as long as I can remember. Why do we do this? If anyone has the answer, please comment and shed some light on this phenomenon.
Anyhow, I gassed up the truck this afternoon and first thing tomorrow, I plan to "GO IN". It is my intention to be brutal. I will use this criteria:
Can I replace this if I HAD to
Will my life still have meaning if I throw this away?
Y'all pray for me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm counting down until kickoff this evening. As some of you know, I love college football. I'm not alone here in the south.
I have a theory, if anyone cares to hear it. I think the reason college football is sooo popular here is because the south has traditionally been at the very bottom of every list that's been created.
We're lowest in income
Life expectancy
Health statistics
Mental health
Infant mortality
and on, and on.
There are two notable exceptions - obesity rates, and college football.
Obviously, we'd love NOT to be at the top of obesity stats, but when what do you expect from a region that invented Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and Coca Cola.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, college football. Our little region has had more than their share of college national championships. Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama have all been national champions. Some of these teams have won several times.
So, in my opinion, college football lets us be first in something, and that is why we are so crazy about it. I'm still not sure what makes us wear those crazy getups on national television.
Does anyone have a theory on that?
Y'all have a great weekend and I hope your team wins (unless your team tonight happens to be Penn State).

Friday, September 10, 2010


On Fridays, I'm responsible for supper. Jilda is a great cook and we eat well every day. I, on the other hand have a limited menu. I can cook breakfast  (eggs, bacon, waffles, etc.), I can make a mean pot of chili, my cornbread is quite good, and I can grill steaks, but other than that, my cooking is just sad.
Today, Jilda wanted a BBQ salad from Green Top BBQ. I hustled down there around 5 p.m. and we drove into the driveway as if we had synchronized our schedules.
After dinner, as I sat down to write, I realized that I hadn't fed the deer, so I took a scoop of corn out to the field. 
It rained a few minutes before sunset, but when I went out tonight, the stars were out like diamonds on black velvet.  As I walked under the apple tree, a drop of rain that had been clinging to a leaf dropped and hit me squarely in my right eye.
I smiled because it reminded me of something we taught our great nephew Jordan last week when it rained.
We had gone for a walk after the rain, and he walked with us. When we came to a small dogwood tree, I reached over and shook the tree, and the drops clinging to the leaves drenched him.
He squealed with delight, but then there was a barrage of questions about where the water came from, why it was still on the trees, and on and on. 
He stays with us a couple days a week and I we cram a lot of stuff in those two days. When he ask questions, I do my best to give him an answer he can grasp. It's amazing to me how much he seems to understand.
A few week ago we came upon a leaf that appeared to be suspended in mid air in front of us.
I spent a great deal of time explaining spiders, spider webs, and how the leaf came to be trapped in the web.
Yesterday, we came upon another leaf dangling in the invisible web. I acted like I was mystified. When I asked him why the leaf was hanging like that, he said "pider web", then whacked it with the walking stick I carved for him.  I had to smile.
I found further evidence that he was picking up information when his mom came over and casually asked, "who taught him how to shake a bush after it rains? I had to blow dry my hair after he played that trick on me." I laughed out loud, but she failed to see the humor in it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Getting UnStuck

OK, I'm going around the world to get at what I want to get at tonight. So here goes:
I got an email from one of the top bloggers in the country today and the topic was, "Writer Inspiration Tip Sheet".
Basically it was tips on how to come up with ideas to write about. I thought, hey, I can definitely use this, so I read further.
One of the tips was to read other people's blogs. Well? I do that already. I don't want to knock off anybody's work, but I just scanned a few suggested blogs from One of the entries was a blog written by the author of the comic strip Dilbert, which I love. 
Today's entry had a list of things that he thought would be helpful for colleges to teach this day and time. I actually liked this idea, so I'm not really stealing Scott's idea, I'm adding to his work (without his permission).

Here is a partial list (sorry Scott):

Sales methods

Psychology of persuasion
Human Interface design
Appearance (hair, makeup, clothes)
How to entertain

I actually thought his list was pretty good, but I'd like to offer a few and I encourage you to comment with any additional suggestions.

Basic trouble shooting (whether you're working on laptops or toasters, the concepts are the same)
Common sense
Time management
Money management
BS detection skills
How to travel to other countries without behaving like a spoiled, arrogant American

I know I've missed some important stuff here, so feel free to keep the conversation going.

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