Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rainy Day

Today was an old slow rainy day. Back when I had gainful employment, rainy days drove me as crazy as bad moonshine whiskey, but these days I take them in stride.
This morning I took my laptop out on the screen porch, turned on some classical music, and wrote my column for this coming Sunday. Sometimes I struggle to come up with ideas, but today the idea came easily.
Raindrops as big as dimes pinged off the metal roof and a gentle wind out of the west played a song on the chimes. I pecked at my keyboard like a woodpecker on speed. At one point when I stopped to sip my coffee, I smiled for no apparent reason. It just felt good to be right there. I finished the story in record time.
Tornado warnings for our county delayed things so our babysitting duties were delayed as well. When Jordan arrived, he was in a great mood. Jilda hooked him up with some cereal and some grapes and he was a happy camper.
The sun came out briefly so he and I went out to take care of the critters. When we fed the chickens, he peeked inside the laying boxes and saw the first egg these hens have laid. He was so excited. I gently scooped it out of the box and handed it to him. He held it like a kitten and ran inside to show it to Jilda.
When he came back outside, we took a few cups of corn down to feed the deer and he then wanted to go to the barn. The barn is a strange and wonderful place. It smells of hay, old cow manure, dust, and motor oil from a tractor that was built when Truman was in the white house.
He stopped to play in a mud puddle and I shot a picture of him. He decided that he needed to take a picture of me so I squatted down to his level and handed him my iPhone.  He leaned a little to starbord but the picture he took was not bad.
I know everyone says this about their kids, nephews, and other family youngun's, but our little buddy is delightful. We both always smile when we see each other. I'm not sure there is a better way to spend an old rainy day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking without seeing

Have you ever listened to a radio when the knob was a little off the station? The music gets lost in the noise and you don’t even realize that you’re hearing without listening.

These days it seems my life is filled with static and it affects all my senses.

I read an interview with Michael Gelb, the author who wrote, ‘How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci.’ The great artist once said “People look without seeing, hear without listening, eat without awareness of taste, touch without feeling and talk without thinking.” It's almost six hundred years later and this quote seems even more true today.

I think to some extent we are casualties of the modern world and the velocity of information. Einstein’s theory should say, the only thing that travels faster than the speed of light, is life in the twenty-first century.

It seems the faster you run, the further you fall behind. Most of us try to jam twenty five hours into each twenty four hour day.

At this pace, life can be a blur. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Life is remarkable in unexpected ways. One of my newsletters talked about life around us. “Even cities are teaming with life — birds, bees, chipmunks and squirrels are all around, but are seldom seen.” 

This past week I woke up before daybreak feeling anxious from all the things on my to-do list. I put on a pot of coffee and stepped out on the back deck to get the “local forecast.” A gentle breeze out of the southwest stirred the wind chimes, and I took a moment to contemplate my life and whatnot.

When I realized how nice it felt, I stepped inside to get a couch pillow and a blanket, before settling in on the antique glider. My knees squeaked as I folded them into a seated yoga position, but the pain subsided after a few moments and I began to focus on my breathing.

Off in the distance I heard a rooster crowing which came to the attention of our roosters, and soon there was a crowing contest. The sound of a commercial jet five miles overhead swept through my aural landscape and it was like listening to the lead part in the song, "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. It was a cool effect that I had not noticed in years. I thank the stillness for this gift.

I think it’s moments like those that help me to stop being a spectator in life and become a participant. 

The next time you get a chance to go for a walk, walk outside instead of inside on a treadmill. If you have a small camera, take it with you. As you walk, be mindful of the sights and sounds around you. Try to “see” the seasonal slideshow brought to you by Mother Nature. 

Find something to photograph. Forget about work, forget about the bills, forget about the chores, and just “be there” in the moment. Try to use every one of your senses. 

If you’re like me, you’ll begin to “see” life in new and interesting ways.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Jilda and I watched Eat, Pray, Love tonight. We both read and enjoyed the book. I've heard guys say this is a "chick book/flick", but I enjoyed it, what can I say.  To me it was about a journey, and the author just happened to be a woman.
The movie didn't stick right with the book, but it stayed true enough to the story. During one scene, she was in house in Bali meditating in a room with windows but no glass.  You could hear the wind off of the Indian Ocean, gently rustling the bamboo shades and tropical birds in the distance.  When we watched that scene, I experienced deja vu. 
I've never been to Bali, but I was in Panama in a rustic barracks a few hundred feet from the ocean. Through the screened windows you could smell the salty breeze off the Atlantic at any given moment.
Often in the morning, just after daylight, I 'd get up before the others in my platoon and sit cross-legged on my bunk meditating.  I knew by the sound of the waves on the breaker wall whether the tide was rolling in our out. The only sound other than the ocean was the chirping of parakeets, trogons, and other tropical birds that perched in the palm and mango trees outside the barracks.  
I think it's easier to meditate near the ocean because regardless what gyrations your mind tries to run through, that gentle ebb and flow of the ocean mimics your breath. And if you give it half a chance, you will experience a deep peace that is elusive in other places.
I'm glad I read the book and watched the movie. Not only did the movie remind me that we're all on a journey, but as a bonus, I had a chance to relive a time when I experienced a  profound stillness from long ago, and to me, that was worth the price of admission.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We went out of town yesterday for an overnight visit and returned today to a chorus of barking-howling-yelping-baying-wailing and braying. We can be gone for ten minutes or ten days and it makes no difference. Our dogs are ALWAYS happy to see us.
We have a doggy door and our five mutts spend most of their time outside on the deck or in the yard, curled up in the sunshine. We could learn from dogs. Have you ever watched a dog trying to find a place to lie down? They will walk around the room checking out the air flow, level of light, view, escape routes, and other factors we humans never even consider. I think dogs actually invented Feng Shui for the Chinese.
There are people who take a dim view of animals in the house. That's fine with me, but if they come to visit us, they will have their legs sniffed by our dogs.
Like most dogs, ours are very intuitive and they can tell in an instant if a visitor doesn't like animals. They steer clear when they are not welcome. But when they encounter dog lovers, they treat them like old friends.
Today when we returned home, we were serenaded and when the doors were unlocked and the doors opened, they all tried to be petted simultaneously.
We love to travel, but it's always good to get home to your own bed, and to the ones who really love you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Glass Rainbow

I finished up another James Lee Burke book this morning. He has become one of my favorite authors. I've read about ten of his books and all of them have been very good. I actually listen to the books he's written. Will Patton reads most of his work on Audible. I think he adds an X factor to Burke's work.
Most of his stories are set in small towns in Louisiana just outside of New Orleans. His descriptions and dialog are excellent.
The book I just finished is Glass Rainbow and It was one of his best.  His stories are about detectives so there is sex, violence and language, but when he weaves them into his stories, they help to  paint a compelling picture. If such things bother you, you should steer clear, but his content is tame compared to a lot of popular fiction.
It's been a long day today and I'm running out of steam. I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Jilda and I helped serve a Thanksgiving meal to the needy today and it was a humbling experience. We both have done volunteer work in the past, but today as the folks passed through the line, I was reminded once again just how blessed our lives have been.
We've faced our share of troubles and hardships, but in the scheme of things, life has been kind to us both. We're both relatively healthy, we've been gainfully employed for most of our lives and we have a circle of friends that I'd put up against anyone's circle.
Thanksgiving is a unique holiday - it's not about shopping, or gifts, or most of the other things that makes Christmas crazy. It's about fellowship and taking stock of your life and remembering to have gratitude and be thankful for life's bounty.
So tonight, as I write this note, I'm thankful we have a roof over our heads, a warm place to sleep, food in the pantry, and a contact book full of family and friends that make life worth living.
Happy Thanksgiving all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving has changed

Thanksgiving changed for us when Jilda's mom passed away several years ago. When she was alive, we spent every Thanksgiving there. Jilda's mom was a fantastic cook and Jilda learned a great deal from her. My mom was a master of desserts, but Ruby had no peers when it came to turkey and dressing - it was the best I've ever tasted. 
Jilda's family was fairly large and most of them showed up on Thanksgiving. I think the dressing had a lot to do with it, but I could be wrong.
Things were tough when her father passed away in the early 90's, but the rest of the family rallied around Ruby and Thanksgiving continued to be a family tradition for all of them.
But Ruby was the magnet that brought the far-flung family together and when she passed away, there was no gravitational force strong enough to keep them all together.
My family didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving together. Many of the men folk went hunting over the long Thanksgiving holiday and so we usually got together Thanksgiving afternoon and began decorating my mom's house for Christmas. People celebrate holidays in interesting ways.
At any rate, our Thanksgiving these days is very different than it's been in years past. This year, we will be at the Sumiton Community Center bright and early helping to prepare and serve food to the needy. We've done this before and it was rewarding,  so we've made it our new Thanksgiving tradition.
To all our friends, I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I woke up before daylight this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I slipped out of bed and put on a pot of coffee, then stepped out on the deck for the local forecast. A gentle breeze out of the southwest stirred the wind chimes, and I took a moment to contemplate my life and whatnot.
When I realized how nice it felt, I stepped inside to get a couch pillow and a blanket, before settling in on the antique glider. My knees squeaked as I folded them into a seated yoga  position, but the pain subsided after a few moments and I began to focus on my breathing.
Off in the distance I heard a rooster crowing which came to the attention of our roosters, and soon there was a crowing contest. The sound of a commercial jet five miles overhead swept through my aural landscape and it was like listening to the lead part of "All Along the Watchtower" as played by Jimi Hendrix. It was a cool effect that I had not noticed in years. I thank the stillness for this gift.
I have not meditated enough lately. It's not something I notice right off, but then things begin to close in on me. At first I tell myself I'm too busy and don't have time to meditate, or I make up some other lame excuse. But then all of a sudden, I find myself gritting my teeth for no apparent reason.
There's a lot of static in my life and from what I gather, it's not a problem unique to me. The only way I can put things back into perspective, is to go within....take some time feeling the wind on my face, and listening to the stereo effect of a passing jet....to listen to birds...and to be conscience of my breath as it cools and warms my nose.
This evening I walked down to the garden fence and stood for a while thinking. I shot this photo of the western horizon just after sunset.
Tonight I feel taller.
If you're stressed, do yourself a favor and take a few quite moments for yourself. Go within and just breathe. I think you'll be glad you did.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nothing Like the Beach in the Fall

Most people prefer the beach in late spring or summer when the sun is hot and the ocean is warm as bath water. But Jilda and I love the beach in the fall and winter.

We drove down this past weekend and took the rain with us. The temperature was warm so we opened the patio of the condo as we unpacked, and listened to the pounding surf. Before dark, we stepped down to the water and leaned into a stiff wind coming off the gulf. There was not another soul on the beach in either direction for as far as we could see.

As we stood there we could smell the rain mixed with the salty ocean air. When the first drops began to pepper our skin, we headed back to the condo and whipped up some hot tea. We backed the patio chairs up close to the wall and sat for a while listening to the rain ticking on palm fronds out by the pool. It felt good to be alive.

I got up early on Monday to work on some stories I'd been writing, and I let Jilda sleep in. That's a luxury she rarely gets to enjoy.

At lunch, we drove from Orange Beach toward Gulf Shores looking for a good place to eat. We decided on a beachside cafe called Bahama Bob's. By the time we were seated on the patio, the rain was coming down in sheets and the red surf warning flags were blowing so hard it looked like they'd been starched and ironed.

We ordered oyster po' boys with home fries for lunch, and sweet tea. While waiting for our orders to arrive, we listened to the wind and rain play the metal roof like a steel drum. I heard Jilda chuckling and when I looked to see what was causing the mirth, I saw a sign on the café wall that said, "All unattended children will be used as crab bait." I smiled too as I read the sign.

The main reason for our trip to the beach this time was that organizers fore the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival invited us to perform at this year's festival. Hundreds of songwriters and thousands of music lovers from all over the world converge each November on Orange Beach, and Gulf Shores, Alabama as well as Pensacola, Florida to celebrate music and songwriters. 

This was the 26th annual festival and we had the opportunity to play the Flora-Bama -- which is where the festival began.

The Flora-Bama is a bar that sits on Perdido Key in Pensacola, Florida but its western wall is only six feet from the Alabama state line, thus the name Flora-Bama.

Hurricane Ivan scored a direct hit on the cultural landmark, but the owners cobbled it back together and it remains a popular area hotspot.

Playing on the stage of the Flora-Bama was on our Bucket List (the list of things we wanted to do before we die). We've been to the Flora-Bama in the past and sometimes the crowd can be quite rowdy. The songs we write are definitely not loud and it would never be considered dance music, so we weren't sure how we'd be received.

As it turns out, we held our own, and for the most part, the audience listened while we sang our songs. 

We didn't go on stage until after 10 p.m. so it was after midnight by the time we got back to the condo. Since Jilda had to work on Wednesday, we were up at the crack of dawn packing the car for the return trip home.

I stepped to the beach just before we left and though the sun had not come up, the horizon to the east went from a thousand shades of orange to the deep indigo blue of the night sky. It looked like it would be another beautiful day.

As vacations go, it was short on time, but long on quality, and the memories we made are already golden.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bad Driver

On the way to see my mom today, a guy ran a red light and took a right turn just as I was approaching an intersection. No big deal because I approach every intersection as if someone was going to run the light. The right turn put him headed in the same direction that I was heading.
I noticed he had a handicap tag and a huge window sticker that said "GOD IS IN CONTROL".  He went about three hundred feet before he slammed on his breaks, came to a dead stop in the road before turning right again...giving no turn signal. He almost clipped a kid on a bicycle and a light pole.
I'm thought to myself, I wonder where God, since He was in control,  got his license?  I'm guessing that God has his hands full with so many idiots driving around these days.
This reminds me of a funny joke I heard years ago:
There was this drunk driving down the wrong side of the road when a preacher came around a curve and met the drunk in his lane. He instinctively turned the wheel to avoid a nasty head-on collision but the maneuver caused the preacher to flip end over end down an embankment.
The drunk saw the accident, pulled to the curve and stumbled down to check on the preacher. "Are you OK?" The drunk asked. "Yes the preacher said, I have the Lord as my co-pilot." The drunk said, "Well you better let him ride with me before you kill him!"
I hope my motor-vehicularly- challenged friend made it where he was going today without killing himself or someone else.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fun Day

 The moon is full this evening. We saw Bimini Road perform tonight at Berkeley Bob's, and on the way home, I could have turned out the headlights and driven by moonlight. I've done it many times in the past, but it always makes Jilda a little crazy.....there's something about the idea of hitting pine trees at a high rate of speed and dying a fiery death that always seems to put her on edge. I tell her that everybody has to go sometime, and why not go out with a bang.  But I don't get a lot of traction with this line of reasoning, so  tonight I left the lights on, flipped open the sunroof and admired the moon from that vantage point.
Today was a good day. Our friend Edie Hand was doing a promotion at the local Toyota dealership and we swung by and shot a few pictures. After that we went to Woni's Bookshelf for a local author book signing and bought a book. And tonight, we picked up our buddy Fred to go to Berkeley Bob's for dinner and the Bimini show.
 We're both whupped tonight, but today was fun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dealing With The Mess

My 2 1/2 year old great nephew Jordan embarrassed me this week. When we went to the shed to get corn to feed the deer, he looked inside the shed and said, "this is a total mess". I still struggle to understand him at times so I asked him to repeat what he said. I heard correctly the first time - "this is a total mess".
I finished up my errands and chores early today so I went out and began cleaning up/out the shed. I was brutal. All those pieces of computers that I've been keeping for spare parts - GONE. The air filter/purifier that I kept saying I was going to fix - GONE. I have two garbage cans completely full and half a pickup load to take to the recycling place on Monday.
The sad thing is, I only scratched the surface before darkness set in. I need to do the same routine in the old house, which I want to convert into a writer space, and the barn. Why do we keep stuff that we will never use?
Someone told me once that it was because we paid good money for the items and it felt wasteful to dispose of them when we'd used them up. Perhaps that's true, but at some point, you have mountains of junk that will never be used.
I made enough headway today to get off Jordan's "this is a total mess" list. It is my intention to get it organized enough that I can put my hands on my tools and supplies that I do need.
More on this later.
Thanks for those of you who have offered suggestions for mix-tapes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Road Music

I do road-music CD for when we travel. My taste in music spans the musical landscape. What's good about this is that we have about five CD cases and we rotate them every now and again.  Each CD case contains a few mix-tape/CDs.
The case we selected for our trip to the beach this past weekend had four old road-music CD's that we hadn't heard for a long time. Music is magic. You can feel tired and sleepy one moment but when the right combination of songs blast out the speakers, your spirits soar and you're higher than a kite without the aid of pharmaceuticals. You don't have to drink enough caffeine to make your kidneys explode, just to stay awake. The music hits your eardrum and all of a sudden, you're tapping your steering wheel like it's a snare drum. Before you know it, you're a hundred miles down the road.
One one CD we had:
Travis Tritt - It's a Great Day To Be Alive
 Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole - Some Where Over the Rainbow
Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music White Boy
Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watch Tower
U2 - Bloody Sunday
Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
...OK, I said my taste was eclectic. Anyhow, I'd like to hear what your mix-tape/CD would contain.   

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We didn't get to bed last night until after midnight and we were up at 5 a.m. packing for the journey home. Jilda had to work this afternoon, so we had to head on back home early.
As Jilda finished makeup duties, I stepped down to the beach to welcome the new morning. The sky was a breathtaking mixture of amber, orange, gold, blue and black. I shot this photo with the trusty iPhone before shoving off.
We didn't get a lot of sleep, but yet I feel energized. Getting away will do that for you. I'm not sure why we don't get away more often - we just don't.
I learned today of a mis-print in the festival program that showed us playing Monday night and Tuesday night. One of my good friend, Ken and his lovely wife Kayren, trekked down to Orange Beach from Birmingham through torrential rains to see us Monday night. They wanted to surprise Jilda and me. Since we were unaware of the mis-print, we weren't there to play. We felt awful...and, we owe them big time.
I've been writing all afternoon....deadlines looming, but I don't feel stressed. Every now and then, I'll flip through the photos I took and I feel refreshed.
I love vacations, even if they are sometimes too short.

Goodnight Sun

Today was our last full day at the beach. Tomorrow, we'll head out before sunrise so that Jilda can be at work on time.
This evening she was packing her stuff and I walked out to the beach for one last look at the sea.
I realized the clouds had parted and that the day had all the makings of a remarkable sunset.
I hustled back to the condo and fetched Jilda. She grabbed her camera and we made it back in time to catch the sunset.
It was a gift.
Our set started at 10 p.m. tonight at the Flora-Bama bar/cafe/road side attraction/unique place on earth.
It's not always an easy crowd.  One look at the roof should give you a clue. There must be a thousand bra's hanging on a wire just above the heads of the crowd.
We arrived early and the crowd was indeed rowdy, but when we began to play, things settled noticeably, and they listened.
Jilda was on her game, and I think we both did well. We played the Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival back in 2001 but we didn't play the Flora-Bama. Tonight we did, and we both came home smiling. 
We heard some great music tonight, and we both feel blessed to have been a part of it all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Beach

Jilda and I slipped out of town for much needed R&R at the beach. There was a channel of rain as wide as the state of Alabama racing northward from out of the Gulf of Mexico, but we made it here without getting wet.
This morning we brewed a pot of coffee and as Jilda bundled up for our morning walk, I sat out listening to an angry surf. She shot this photo of me lounging on an adirondack chair.
The pounding surf stirs something deep within my brain. Sitting there today, it seemed like time was standing still. 
We had a good walk and found lots of small shells driven ashore by the surf. Before we made it back to the condo, the rain began to pepper our faces.
Most people love the beach when the sun is high and hotter than the devil's skillet, but both Jilda and I prefer the beach in the autumn and winter.
There are no crowds. In fact, today as we walked, as far as you could see in either direction, there was not a soul on the beach.
After lunch I'd stepped to the office to get the password for the wireless connection here in the condo. When I returned, I couldn't find the "little lady". I stepped out on the patio and snapped this photo.
She's scored a deal on a leopard skin fleecy blanket at CVS and she scooped it up like a beach shell.
When I saw her after lunch, I understood why.
Tomorrow evening we are performing at the annual Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival.
We both love this festival because great songwriters from all around the world come to the gulf coast to play.
Many of the songs you hear on your radio each day were written by songwriters here this week.
We were flattered and humbled to have the opportunity to play here.
I hope you all have a great Tuesday.
I also want to say thanks to our niece Samantha for house-sitting while we're gone. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No wifi

Hey all,
We are at the beach tonight and there is wifi, but we don't have the login so I'm updating with my iPhone which makes it a little cumbersome.
The drive down was uneventful which is a good thing when you're on the road.
Both Jilda Nd I are writing our blogs tonight, but we can't post them until tomorrow.
We just walked down to the water and it felt good to have the salty breeze in our faces.
Y'll have a great week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Jilda and I went to the dedication of the new Veterans Memorial in our hometown. It was a moving ceremony and near the end, a military bugle player stood to the side and played Taps.
Taps is one of the saddest sounds in existence. I don't know that I've ever heard Taps played anywhere other than at military funerals or other somber occasions.
 When I hear those lonesome tones, and I consider the full weight of those sounds, it puts a lump in my throat because it means that someone who has served with honor, has passed on.
Many of us hold athletes and other people in the public eye in high esteem, but in the scheme of things, what they do is insignificant when stood up next the the sacrifices made by our country's veterans.
I'm proud of our little community for doing what it takes to build a monument recognizing our local veterans.
As a veteran, I was deeply moved and honored.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I headed out to Mountain Brook just after breakfast this morning.  I had an appointment to interview Dick Coffee, who is the ESPN #1 college football superfan in America. That was a delightful experience. He's had numerous health problems through the years including heart problems and a stroke, but he just keeps on going to games. His wife Nora smiles as she said "he's had the good fortune to experience his health problems during the off season."
Dick's wife Nora says the doctors believe that it's his upbeat attitude that allows him to bounce back and keep on going.
To date, he's attended 750 consecutive games. 
What's even more impressive, is the he doesn't hold the record. Giles Pellerin attended 797 consecutive USC games before passing away in the parking lot of a Trojan's game at the age of 91.
Mr. Coffee is not on a quest, he just likes attending Alabama football games and he plans to keep on attending as long as his health and "the Good Lord" allows him to attend. If that happens to extend to mid 2014, he will pass Pellerin's record.
After talking with him today, I think he can do it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Never Give Up

I sat on the deck this evening touching up a story that's due on Monday. The sun had already dropped down below the trees but shafts of lingering light painted the clouds a subtle tint of rose. I wish I knew how to describe the sky at dusk, because I'm sure it would come in handy in future writings. A silent jet slid off toward the southeast and I stopped writing for a moment to watch. It looked as if it would fly into the yawning mouth of the quarter moon, but it missed.
I looked back at the screen of my laptop and I realized that I'm finally doing what I've dreamed of doing for years. I'm one of those people who spent a big chunk of their life working for the money. That's not necessarily a bad thing because had I not done that early on, I might not be in a position to do what I want to do now. But during the commutes to work, during mindless meetings and conference calls, I painted pictures in my mind. And in those pictures, I was interviewing interesting people and writing about their lives. I also saw myself playing music and traveling.
After what seems like an eternity, I'm now doing the things that I imagined. I'm meeting and interview incredible people now. And next week, Jilda and I are performing at the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival in Gulf Shores.
There's an old saying about advice that I should probably apply here - Advice be very mindful of giving it because wise men don't need it, and fools won't heed it - but still, I feel obligated to those who on a whim might listen.
Do what you have to do to survive, but NEVER give up on your dreams.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Superfan Interview

I have an appointment to interview the ESPN #1 College Superfan in American on Friday. He lives in Mountain Brook and he's closing in on ninety years old. What makes him the ESPN #1 Football Superfan is that he hasn't missed an Alabama football game since Harry S. Truman was in the White House in 1946. He's seen the team win eight national championships. 
He was on a five year role when I was born and I'm not chicken spring, as our friend Charlie Brown says. That, in my mind, is amazing. I mean, I love football, but I can't fathom this. 
I called him today he sounded as sharp as a tack. I'm really looking forward to talking with him. I also can't wait to see his photo collection.
Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Deer Story

When we drove out to visit my mom on Sunday we passed a young deer near our house that had been struck by a car. My heart sank and I hoped that Jilda had not seen it, but she doesn't miss things like that.
I heard her say oh nooo. We both thought it was probably one of the young deer we've been feeding all summer.
I called my nephew and asked him to take the tractor down there, and bury the deer.
The last few days, we've kept a watchful eye on the field to take inventory.
We have one doe with one fawn
One doe with two fawns
And a single doe with no offspring's that's almost grey in color.
In the past they came at different times throughout the day to feed. This morning, Jilda was fetching a refill of coffee when I heard her squeal with delight. When I stepped to the back door, we saw the doe and the  two fawns were down in the field. They youngun's were frolicking in the sun, playing some kind of deer-tag. I shot video, but since I don't have a telephoto, you couldn't see the the deer that well.
We're hoping the fawn we buried was not one of our fawns. I know to some folks it must sound goofy that we'd get worked up over wildlife, but we do.
I just hope our critters become invisible during deer season. Is that too much to wish for?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Autumn Sky

I stepped out on the deck this evening to put the days' coffee grounds in the compost bucket and I immediately wished I'd worn shoes. The sun got warm today with cloudless blue skies, but once the sun went down, it got chilly fast.
It was dark enough to see Mars in the southern sky, but a commercial jet flying at about thirty five thousand feet was high enough to catch the sunset. From my vantage point, I could see a peach colored contrail that it left in its wake.
The new moon looked like a newly clipped thumbnail but it was as shiny as a newly sharped scythe. I stood there shivering for a long moment before heading inside.
I know there are great things about each of the seasons. I think the thing I love most about autumn, is the night sky.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


I just started reading The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg and the first three pages made me want to swear off writing.....just toss my keyboard off the deck and start laying tile, or maybe fix lawnmowers for a living.
I'd read his first book, It's all over but the Shoutin', and I was blown away.  But that was several years ago, before I started getting serious about writing.
I went to hear Bragg speak a few months ago and picked up Frogtown but I was reading several books simultaneously, so it went on the "to read" shelf. Today when I finished Catcher in the Rye, I scanned our bookshelf for my next book and Frogtown jumped out at me (no pun intended).
Bragg is the most down to earth author I've ever met. He talks like he writes. There are people from other parts of the country, who might hear his southern drawl, and think him a simpleton. But a line from the hit movie Sweet Home Alabama makes the point - "Jes cuz I talk slow, doesn't mean I'm stupid."
Bragg has the unique ability to use common words, to tell his stories, but he also has the ability to reach inside with his prose, and touch your heart.
All I know is, reading his work makes me want to get better.
If you get a chance to pick up one of his books, I highly recommend that you do. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Music We Love

We often find music we enjoy in movies. In the last ten years or so, movie producers have gotten really good at using obscure artists to add power to their movies - music that you wouldn't normally hear on the radio.
I've pretty much given up on radio as a means for discovering new music.
I know that must sound strange coming from a songwriter, but it's true. In years past, the only way songwriters made any decent money was when someone famous recorded their songs, and the tunes made it to radio.
Each time a song is played on the radio, the songwriter gets a little money. It's not a lot, but when you multiply that by the number of radio stations around the world, it adds up.
There is no telling how much songs like Brown Eyed Girl, Mustang Sally, Sweet Home Alabama, or Hotel California, earn for the writers annually. I can assure you, a hit song that makes it to the "oldie rotation" is like an annuity for the songwriters.
But twenty years or so, something happened to  music. All of a sudden, huge corporations realized just how lucrative music was, and consultants started running the show.
The Internet has leveled the playing field somewhat when it comes to music. Nowadays, relatively unknown artists have a shot due to the viral quality of the Internet. Someone can recommend a great song, you can listen to it, and if you like what you hear, for a nominal fee, you can download it and be playing it on your iPhone in a matter of seconds.
What started me down this path, is tonight we watched a rerun of an old movie called Serendipity. One of the songs played toward the end was Northern Sky which was written by Nick Drake. He released the song on an album back in 1994.
I used music software on my iPhone to identify the song, then I immediately downloaded the song to my phone. Many music industry people are quick to say the Internet has destroyed the music industry. I guess it has played havoc with the the big record labels, but it's also given a voice to those great songwriters and artists who have been overlooked by the "all knowing" consultants.
I am grateful to movie directors with good ears, and know a great song when they hear one.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Our House is a Jungle

OK, as of this afternoon, our house is officially a jungle! It happens every year when freeze warnings are first issued.  The lemon, orange, grapefruit, avocado, and mango trees that have been living happily outside our front windows, are moved inside to winter.
It's always interesting for several days after we move the plants inside because the critters who've made their summer homes in our plants, sometimes come inside.
We've brought tree frogs, chameleons, and all kinds of bugs, in with our plants. We once brought in a chipmunk, who had burrowed into one of our pots. I was working at the time and I got a frantic call from Jilda and my niece Samantha who were standing on the kitchen table. Apparently the little critter had come out to forage for food in the den, when they had an unfortunate encounter.
I listened helplessly on the phone line as Jilda tried to shoo the little critter out. He mounted an unexpected counter offensive and it was not going well for the home team.
They left the front door open and the tiny beast finally went out chattering incessantly. Jilda and Samantha were both quite certain that the little critter said some unkind things about their linage as he scurried out the door.
We both love the plants. Some, we've had for many years. I have a ficus plant that was sent when my father passed away in 1986. Jilda has a plant that belonged to her grandmother, and it was full grown when granny gave it to Jilda's mom  in 1964 .The citrus trees were all planted from seed by Jilda's mom.
The thing is, they require a great deal of work. Each winter when we bring them in, we have to do major rearranging to make room for them.
I really need to build a plant room suitable for our plants to thrive and survive when the mercury plunges. I'll put that on my ever expanding todo list. But tonight, we're on the look out for "visitors".

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I'm currently reading a book by Carl Hiaasen. He's one of my favorite authors. Most his books are set in Florida and while all of them have been good, my favorites so far have been Double Whammy (I think it was his first) and Star Island, which I think is his latest. All his books are a scream.  None of his books will change the world, but they provide a great escape and that's a big part of why I read.
Another book that's on deck is the new James Lee Burke novel. The Glass Rainbow. I think I've read everything he's written and I've never been disappointed.
I spent most of the day writing and I still have two more stories to complete by Wednesday of next week.  Deadlines are compressed due to the upcoming holidays.
I'm running on empty tonight, so this update will be short. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

When Mama's Not Happy

My mom is in her second week of rehab after her pacemaker surgery and she is not happy. She's used to either lying in bed or in her recliner. I think that's what she had in mind for rehab, but the folks there had a different plan.
When I went to see her this morning, she was a little huffy.....actually that's an understatement. She was PO.
They had come early and worked her fanny off. She looks so much stronger now, and I told her so, but she wasn't having any of it.
I decided to keep my mouth shut and just sit for a while. The day was overcast with the wind out of the north west blowing a thick mist. It looked almost snowy, but it's not cold enough yet.
She did cheer up a little when I told her about my new part time job. She likes it better when her kids are working. Just because I worked for thirty-three years straight with Ma Bell doesn't make it with her. You know, "idle hands are the devil's workshop".
Anyhow, by the time I left, she was in a little better mood. They were bringing her a chicken sandwich for lunch and that's her favorite. I said my goodbye's and headed out before her mind drifted back to the evening session in the torture chamber as she calls it, and her mood headed south again. Cause when mama's not happy..........

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Different World

I did an interview and some research for Village Living in Mountain Brook today. I met a woman at Starbucks for an interview about her experience as a contestant on Jeopardy this past summer. The show will air on December 28th of this year. She couldn't talk about the questions or how she did, but she did talk in general terms about her experience.
When she left, I hung around a while to finish my mocha and an older gentleman sitting in the corner spoke to me. "How's it going", he asked. I give my normal response which is to say, "I'm living a dream".
He said, you must be a Republican. I told him that I wasn't living in a dream world, but living a dream. He howled with laughter.
I sat ant talked to him and one of his friends for a while. They were delightful folks.
Later, I went to the O'Neal Library, there in Mountain Brook to do research for an upcoming story about the Old Mill. It was a cool rainy day, but perfect for walking. Mountain Brook is a different world.
I strolled around Crestline Village, and shot a few pictures.

Did I mention that I love my new job?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Technology - My Column for this week

My lovely spouse Jilda would not be considered an “early adopter” when it comes to technology. In fact, she has been one of those “I’ll use a computer when you pry my typewriter out of my cold dead fingers!” kind of gals.

She complained for a month after we bought our first remote controlled TV. She took comfort in the simplicity of turning knobs, pulling levers, and flipping switches. She really didn’t want to learn how to operate a bunch of new fangled contraptions.

I, on the other hand, began working with computers in the mid 1980’s. The first PC that I worked with didn’t have a hard drive and had only 28k of memory. The watch on my wrist is more powerful that that first PC.

But this early exposure to PC’s gave me a distinct advantage because as they grew in complexity, my understanding grew.

A few years ago, I finally convinced Jilda to start learning about computers. I got her an email address and she started out slow. 

Of course, every time she sat down and tried to do anything, she had a million questions and our conversations often ended badly with her saying something like, “well that’s stupid, why did they do it like that?”

I remember one evening she tried to print something and had issues. I know this because, even from another room I could here her muttering and using some creative combinations of bad words. She did not hold Bill Gates and Microsoft in high esteem that evening. In fact she accused them all of being born out of wedlock.

When I stepped in to see if I could help, I immediately saw the problem. “You actually have to turn the printer on when you want to print something,” I said helpfully. She gave me one of those blistering death stares that singed my eyebrows, and caused me to take a step backwards involuntarily. NOTE TO SELF – Lose the sarcasm when providing technical support to spousal unit.

So from that day on, I became more tactful when helping her with PC problems.

Eventually she learned to attach pictures, use the word processor, and safely surf the internet.

Soon afterward she discovered the joys on online shopping and I began to question my decision to introduce her to the information age.

In fact, UPS had to put on a shift of overtime just to handle the increased deliveries to Empire, Alabama.

She was still a little slow to “drink the Kool Aid” when it came to technology, but she took a giant leap last year when I bought her an iPhone. 

She told people that although she had an iPhone, she only used it as a “phone”, but she can’t say that anymore.

Now she takes pictures, sends text messages, updates Facebook, Twitter, and uses the phone to play music during her yoga classes. 

She’s a good writer and I’ve been encouraging her for some time, to start an online blog. Again, she was a little hesitant, but with some prodding, she began to make nightly updates. 

When I looked today at her statistics, she has people from all over the place following her blog. You can check it out for yourself at: http://jildawatson.blogspot.com/

I had to smile when I read some of the comments that readers have left her. I think it is now safe to say, she has been assimilated.

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