Sunday, July 31, 2011


We've had visitors all day. This morning as we drank coffee, this little doe came up to munch bird seed from the feeders. It's hard to see in the photograph, but she has birdseed on her nose.
I put out corn each evening at 5 p.m. and we usually see deer before nightfall. By morning when we walk the corn is all gone.
This morning, I guess this girl wanted breakfast but the corn was long gone so she had her way with our bird feeders.
This evening after I put out the corn under the apple tree in the field, Jilda called me to the garden door. There feeding were two young bucks. They look like twins. After they ate, and drank from the water we leave for them, they both laid down in the middle of the garden.
My Canon camera with the telephoto lens was in the car so I couldn't snap a photo of them.
When our friend Charlie Watts (not the drummer) visited us a while back, the deer put on a show for he and his wife Yvonne and son Randall.
Charlie had some health issues which landed him in the hospital. When we visited him, we told him he needed to get well soon so that he could come visit again.
He said he was looking forward to another visit. He said our home reminded him of Shangri-La. I had to smile at that.
But today as I admired the hummingbirds, squirrels, chipmunks, doves, and deer, I thought to myself, maybe we do live in Shangri-La:)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July Festivals

We never play festivals in July. I was reminded tonight why that is. Someone said the bank sign was flashing 102 degrees at 5 p.m.

Thanks goodness we didn't go on until 8 p.m. but it was still hotter than the devil in wool long-johns. I don't think they could have paid us enough to play on a day like today, but this was for an unusual charity.

It's a thing called Backyard Blessings and the group provides food for school kids on Friday afternoons so they have food to eat over the weekend.

When the "Blessings" folks called to ask if we'd perform, we agreed. This was their first event and they managed to raise over $3000, ALL of which goes to buy food and supplies for the kids.

I think they want to do an annual event. Several people suggested they do it in the spring or fall. I can promise you that no one at the event today would argue with this suggestion.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Banding Together

   There's a stretch of Interstate in Birmingham as you head south on the Red Mountain Expressway where you must get into the right lane to exit onto I-20 East. 

   It's not new, in fact it's been that way for over 30 years. People that drive that section of road know that you must get into the right lane and traffic inevitably backs up. It's the nature of the beast. You have too many cars heading in that direction and the road was not designed to handle that number of cars.

   But as I said, people who drive that road daily understand it and they simply slow down and deal with it. If a driver has an out of state tag and happens to get stuck in the wrong lane, people will always give them space so they can merge over.

   From day one, there has been impatient drivers who feel their time is more valuable than anyone else's so they speed down the adjacent lane and then at the last minute, they swerve over in front of drivers who did the right thing and got into the lane when they were supposed to. 

   When the inconsiderate turd-heads (pardon my Appalachian American vocabulary), swerve over in front of the good drivers, everyone has to slam on their brakes.

   It doesn't help that the turd-heads are normally chatting on their cell phones oblivious to the fact that they've almost caused a calamity. 

   This drives me crazy and I can say without hesitation, that I have not missed it since I retired last year. 

   However on occasion, today for example, I have to travel that road.  But today something extraordinary happened.  There was a Porche, and two BMW's with turd-head drivers, all of them on cell phones, who apparently intended to cut in line in front of a group of good drivers. 

   It looked almost as if it had been choreographed, because the group in the right lane closed ranks almost bumper to bumper.  They weren't going that fast so it wasn't that hard to do. No one would let the Porche or the Beamers in. The TH's had to come to a complete stop in the left lane. Cars behind them started stacking up and horns began blaring.

   I'm guessing some drivers behind the ill mannered twits were saying some very unflattering things about their parents and others in their linage.

   I actually laughed out loud. I know it was wrong, but I don't regret it -- I flipped those three guys the bird as I eased past them. If it were possible, I would have hugged every driver that banded together today.

   I know some people sprang out of the shallow end of the gene pool, and will never learn to do what's right, but today three guys paid for not doing what's right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Okra Blossom

I stepped outside early this morning after I put on the coffee to brew. As the coffeemaker rattled, and complained, I walked barefoot down to the garden.
The dew was so thick, it looked like there'd been an early morning rain. Just feeling the dew on my feet made me think of the Peter, Paul, and Mary version of the Gordon Lightfoot song, Early Morning Rain and I smiled at the thought.
But when I got to the garden, I frowned as I looked down the rows. The only thing that loves hot sun and rain more than the garden, is the weeds. It reminded me that I need to carve out some time for tilling.
When I stepped down to the okra, I snapped this photo. I've been in a arty mood lately so tonight I ran the photo through some photo filters on my phone. I should probably leave well enough alone, but then what would I write about? But I digress.
After my morning stroll, I headed back inside and rousted Jilda from a sound sleep. She stumbled into the living room and moaned --- C O F F EEEEEE. I hustled in the kitchen and fetched us a cup.
She was a little under the weather today so we laid low most of the day. I did run out to see my mom in the nursing home, but afterwards I came home and decided on 46 columns that will comprise my next book.
I'm shooting for a late autumn release. We haven't decided on a title, but Jilda is a whiz at this stuff so we'll decided on that in due time.
After the book is released, I plan to start focusing on world peace and true happiness.
I hope you all have a great Friday, and a remarkable weekend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Self Portrait

   I was killing time today trying to think up an idea for my column in this coming Sunday's paper.
I do some of the strangest things while the muse is sleeping.
   This picture I took of myself was rather ordinary, but you know me and those wacky iPhone apps.
Some of the photo edits made me laugh out loud.
   Some were just lame, but this one seemed to fit my mood. 
   The heat has left me wilted and my mood is listing a little toward snarky with a touch of -- WHY EXACTLY DID I CHOOSE TO LIVE IN ALABAMA WHEN IT'S HOTTER THAN SATAN WITH A FEVER??????????????????????????????????????????
---------I'm OK now. But unfortunately, I still don't have any ideas for my column. 
   If someone can give me a decent idea, I'll give them a bass boat or a Mercedes. If it's a great idea, I'll give them both. (When I hit the lottery)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Swimming Hole

I went to see my mom at the nursing home this afternoon and on the way home I pulled in at the public boat launch at the forks of the Sipsey and Mulberry Rivers.
I've actually stopped by there almost every day for the past week. It's like a community recreation area.
The first day I stopped, I saw a guy I hadn't seen in 30 years. I actually thought he was dead. We chatted for a while and he told me a few stories about my grandfather who actually did die in 1970. I smiled as he told me the stories because they rang true. I could picture my grandfather in his overalls with faded tattoos on both forearms.
We talked for a long while. There were several other people fishing from the bank for catfish or maybe a stripped bass. Over to the side near the landing were a bunch of kids swimming in the river.  The place had a good vibration.
Today when I stopped by, the young boys I met the first day, had been there all day today. They fished until it got too hot, and then then they went swimming.
All of them were as brown as hickory nuts. One kid told me they came to the forks every day. When I asked them when school starts, the mood darkened a bit and I immediately regretted asking the question. "Classes start back August 15," one of them said. When I asked if they were excited to go back, none of them were.
Once in the truck and headed toward home, I thought about when I was their age. I too spent most of the summer on the river and I dreaded hearing the sound of school bells.
I do know this, there is nothing better than having a great swimming hole close by. I know the forks of the Sipsey and Mulberry River will live on in their memories for a very long time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Age is only a number -- My Column from Sunday's Paper

My late octogenarian mother-in-law Ruby Phillips said the only time she felt old was when she looked in the mirror.

I'm kind of like Ruby, in that I don't feel that old. Well, maybe sometimes when I roll out of bed and my knees squeak like the door hedges of an old VW Bug.

But recently the age thing slapped me in the face like a jilted debutant. Jilda and I attended a writer's event so we got a room at a nice hotel near the conference.

We hauled more stuff up there than we normally do. We took guitars, a camera bag, the laptop, and a box of books for me to hawk at the conference. This was in addition to our luggage and Jilda's makeup bag.

A bellhop promptly loaded all our stuff and headed toward the room. I was checking email on my phone, so Jilda and the bellhop were a few steps ahead. I heard him say, "I see you brought your dad with you." That would have been ok with me if he'd been trying to score some points with Jilda, but he was serious.

Jilda smiled as she looked back over her shoulder at me. When he looked back at me, I blazed him with a look that probably would have caused second degree burns on his face and neck had he been a step closer.

Once he unloaded the bags he lingered for a tip. I thought to myself, we'll find cures for cancer, heart disease, and stupidity before I give you a tip sonny boy. Of course he probably could have taken early retirement with the tip Jilda gave him.

When the door closed, she didn't say a word, but simply smiled and began unpacking her bags. I found myself in a snit.

I shouldn't have been surprised. She's always looked young for her age. Whenever we went to places that had age requirements, they checked her ID -- until she was over 30.

Once when we went to the state fair, there was an age guesser guy there. He was about to guess Jilda's age when I walked up. He looked at me, then looked at her, and after sizing me up, he guessed her age right on the money. He told her before she walked away that it was looking at me that gave him a clue as to her age. She was miffed at me for the rest of the evening.

I believe age has more to do with how you think, how you act, and how well you take care of your body, than the number of years you've lived here on earth.

I've met 20-year-olds that looked and acted like they were older than fossils. Conversely, I've met people in their 90's who radiated with energy and vitality. As a result, they looked much younger than their years. These people tend to expect the best out of life, and they usually get it.

I interviewed a 90-year-old woman back in the spring and she still lived alone, had an active social life, and drove a convertible. When I asked her if there was a secret to aging gracefully, she smiled and said:

* Do things that excite you

* Learn to laugh

* Spend time outside

* Don't eat or drink too much

* And take care of your knees because you'll miss them when they're gone.

I could not agree more.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Jilda wanted to go to Florence, Alabama tonight to see Christine Ohlman.
She a blues singer who is a regular on Saturday Night Live.
I like the blues, but I wasn't sure I wanted to drive 2 hours to Florence for the show, but I could tell she REALLY wanted to go, so we booked a room at the Mariott and headed out after lunch.
The hotel is located on the bank of the Tennessee river and it's very nice.
The show started early(6pm) and on the stage with Christine was some of the best muscians on the planet.
Kelvin Holley, MC Thurman,and Mike Dylan. They are some of the world famous Muscle Shoals musicians. They played on many of the records you grew up with.
After a few bars, it became apparent that we were sitting in a musical vortex -- witnessing something rare. We had front row seats to a phenominal performance.
I shot pictures and video, but we didn't bring the laptop and I couldn't figure out how to get the photos on the blog from the iPad.
Needless to say I was very happy I didn't wimp out and not come to this show.
It was truly magical.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


This morning was painful, but don't feel sorry for me. You see, our jalapeno peppers have been showing out. They love the kind of weather we've been having the last month.
So Jilda pulled out her world famous jalapeno peppers stuffed with her special sausage, sautéed onions, and some other magic stuff recipe.
We put on surgical gloves and cored the seeds out of the peppers, Jilda stuffed them, and I grilled them on our grill.
We then had a jalapeno feast. Those babies were delicious and I went to bed with a smile on my face.
But this morning I wasn't smiling so much. In fact when I went to the bathroom this morning, I paid the piper so to speak.
I'm glad we don't use chemical toilets because there's a good chance there could have been a fire.
I realize this is probably way more information than any of you signed up for, and I said all that to say this:
Fun ain't cheap.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lost Dreams

I'd sat down last night to do my nightly post and my mind was toying with a lot of fanciful ideas. When the phone rang, I jumped like an arachnophobic with a black widow on his neck.
The caller told us that our nephew Haven was having pain in his side and when he went to the ER, they told him his appendix were the culprit.
Jilda and I jumped in the car and headed to the hospital at a time when we normally are getting ready for bed.
By the time we got there, they had him juiced and he was grinning like someone who'd just smoked a joint and was watching the Three Stooges.
When they came to take him to the operating room, I could tell he was nervous, but he was a trooper. The doctor came to the waiting room about 2:30 a.m. to tell us that everything went fine and he'd probably be home by sunset.
We headed out and were home by 3 a.m. Neither of us tarried, and were in bed within a matter of minutes.
At 7 a.m. we were both wide awake, so I rolled out and fired up the coffee. Neither of us spoke for the better part of 30 minutes. I felt like we had spent the night gorging on enchiladas and drinking copious amounts of sangria.
I think the reason I felt hung over is because I didn't dream. That sweet spot during the night when dreams come calling, was spent in a waiting room with comfortless chairs.
We took a nap after lunch today, but it didn't seem to help. I looked a Jilda tonight after dinner and at the same time we said, "tonight will be an early night."
So my blog buddies, I hope you all have a remarkable weekend, and as my lovely wife often says on her blog as she's signing off --- Good night, sweet dreams.

....OK, the day wasn't a total bust. When we walked today, I heard a buzzing sound as we walked. I shot this video (only a few seconds long) of honey bees collecting nectar.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Just as I sat down this evening to write, the phone rang. Nine thirty is late for a phone call at our house and when we get a call, it's usually not good news.
Tonight was no exception. My nephew Haven began experiencing problems and went to the afterhour clinic.
The sent him to the er. He apparently has appendix(?),
We headed to the hospital and he's headed for surgery.

Morning update -- My nephew came through surgery fine. We were back home and in bed by 3 a.m.
Thanks to all the well wishes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Angry Butterscotch

It was hot as a blacksmith's hammer today, but when I looked at the Weather Channel, it looks like most of the country is in the same boat.
Jilda fried up some green tomatoes, onions, and okra tonight. She served it with green lima's, hominy, and a pone of cornbread. Can you say yummy?
All out dogs become extremely interested in us when we sit down to eat.
Tonight was no different, but then all of a sudden, one of our old dogs Astro, hops up and heads out. I thought that was strange so I followed him and he headed for the closet. Thunder, I thought.
We flipped on the local weather and it showed thunderstorms heading for us. Astro is a better forecaster than most of the folks you see on TV.
I stepped out on the deck and a spit of rain dappled the deck. Off in the distance I could hear thunder. 
The sky was the color, of angry butterscotch, though you can't really tell it from this picture. Everything had an erie yellowish/orange tint.
I hope the rain moves on in because the heat is taking its toll on the plant life. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blazing Dark Star

I'm a copycat. Jilda and I have been watching our Blazing Star for a week now, but yesterday before I made it out on the deck with our mugs of hot java, Jilda had already snapped a beautiful picture of the first bloom of the season.
Each morning we sit and sip the dark nectar, we veg out, so to speak, watching our garden grow.
The tomato's, which last week looked as though they would remain evergreen, are now throwing off two or three softball size tomato's each day. We have enough jalapeno peppers to do a meal of grilled peppers stuffed with cheese and Jilda's special sauce.
We've given all our family okra, and soon they will have eaten so many of the fuzzy green pods that they'll start blocking our calls.
The Blazing Star was so beautiful I couldn't resist shooting a picture as well, but I didn't want to steal her idea so I "doctored" mine up and I'm calling it the Blazing Dark Star.
I've gotten caught up on all my writing projects so I'm going fishing in the morning. The rain's moving in tomorrow, but maybe it will hold off long enough for me to toss a few casts.
Y'all have a great hump-day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No Place Like Home - My Column from Sunday's Paper

We got around early this morning and walked before the sun got up above the trees. Even without the sun, the morning was already hot and the humidity hung on our skin like a wet kiss from one of our big ol' goofy dogs. 

When we got back in, we did a quick spruce-up in the house because we'd invited our friends over for dinner. Jilda stepped down to her flower garden and cut some daisies, black-eye Susan's, some old maids, and a few gardenias for an arrangement on the table and in the guest bathroom. 

That evening a thunder storm slammed its way down from the north and rattled the china in our cupboard. All the dogs tried to get in our laps. 

As I've mentioned before, we have some BIG dogs. Even though they are big, they are all big wusses when it comes to thunder – all except for Taylor. She's the bulldog mix that weighs more than our Frigidaire, and she wouldn't be afraid of Satan on a mean drunk. 

When the rain came, it was falling so hard it looked like a heavy fog out in the fields and I could barely see the apple tree. 

Thankfully, the deluge slacked enough for our company to run inside, before it commenced again. After hours of sun as hot as a coal stove, the plants seemed to be dancing in the rain. 

We visited with our friends for a while, and played some music on the old guitars before dinner. Jilda had cooked baked chicken, broasted potato's, and lima beans. For dessert we had blackberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream. 

For a long time all you could hear from the dining room was grunting. My spouse is one fine cook and she can silence even the rowdiest crowd with her cooking.

Four deer came up in the garden and put on a show while we ate. Two of the deer are young and they played a game of freeze tag. I love it when the do that.

The deer show does come at a price. This spring they ate our peas and beans faster than we could plant them, but all good entertainment comes at a price.

After dinner we sat around and "talked until our tongues got tired" (as Dan Fogelberg once sang).

When our friends left, I helped Jilda clean up the kitchen and we sat out on the screen porch. The rain had moved off to the east, but you could still hear the ticking of rain drops falling off oak leaves onto our metal roof. It almost put me to sleep. 

The sun had already dipped below the horizon, but there was enough lingering light to paint the sky a color of pink/purple that I can find no words to describe. 

I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture, but no camera can do justice to an evening sky. 

There really is no place like home, especially on days like today. You could spend a fortune and travel halfway around the world and not have as good a time as I've had today, right here at home. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Conference

I spent some time today organizing notes from the conference, and capturing email addresses, and resource websites.
I bought Jilda an iPad a while back and she lets me use the iThoughts application which is a mindmapping program.
I've been mindmapping meetings, books, ideas, and stories for many years.
The concept is the brainchild of Tony Buzan and it is a unique way to remember details of things important to you.
To help me remember what I learned at the conference, I listed the workshops and then captured the main concepts that I learned in each, along with the exercises.
In order to help what you've learned become a permanent record, you have to review the mindmap for several days after you finish it.
A week later you review, and again after a month, and again after 3 months. Since you've only put key words which capture the essence of what you experienced, it only takes a few minutes to review.
You either have to write reminders on your calendar or do what I do and simply program the reminders into your phone. My iPhone  prompts me to review and refresh.
It seems like the older I get, the more effort I have to put into internalizing things in order to remember and recall them.
It's also a great way to outline stories idea, and proposals for your projects.
I'd be interested to know you remember things.
This is what I learned -- writing is a deeply personal experience. There seems to be tons of rules that you have to follow until you are "discovered" and then you can break them.
What I learned at this conference is that there are a lot more people who want to write, than people who actually tap keys.
I also learned that most good writers are good readers. They spend less time reading junk, and more time reading the good stuff.
The poetry class I attended, was the most thought provoking. The lady laid out a feast of food for thought.
I appreciate all the kind words and comments over the last few days. Since I'm caught up with my writing, I plan to catch up on my blog reading this week. I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Long Day

I took a lot of notes today and it will take a while to organize and digest them. A lot of the talks today were geared toward fiction and poetry writers, and a great deal of what I heard was common sense, but it's things you tend to forget.
When pitching your work -- know your audience. Make sure the mechanics are right -- no typos, or glaring mistakes on what you submit. But I also learned the names of a literary journals where I can submit work for publication.
One class I attended was taught by a published poet that is also a teacher and she was great. She gave some really good ideas about how to incorporate unexpected things into poems. Math for example, and medical terms.
Once when she was filling out a application for a loan to buy a new car, a lot of the forms were confusing. She wrote the banker a poem. He was so taken with the poem that he came to her house and helped her fill out the paperwork and she got the loan.
She wrote another poem to her dentist about her root canal. She had me howling from the start. Her ideas would work for fiction and non-fiction as well. I'm anxious to give them a try.
Today has been a long day so I'm turning in early. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spilled Water

The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know squat.  I've know that for a long time and it's somewhat humbling.
I registered for a writer's conference so Jilda and I drove north to Huntsville, Alabama. The conference kicked off at 6:30 with registration and a meet and greet. Networking is one of the best things about conferences. 
I learned that almost every one I talked to tonight blogs. Some blog intermittently and others blog daily. 
I talked to a lady who is a writer and she too loves to read. She reviews books on her blog. She said that she now gets books in the mail from publishers who what her to read and review the books of their authors. 
Some of the publishers provide her with extra books that she can give away as prizes. It sounds like she's doing a lot of things right.
We also had three writers who teach creative writing and they talked about things like voice, point of view, and angle.
Many of the things they discussed, I'd never considered. I sometimes wish I'd studied creative writing in school instead of pursuing the masters in business, but there's no sense in crying over spilled water under the bridge, right?
I think you can study about things too much. I'm not sure if it's my age, or simply the way I'm wired, but I learn by doing.
I put words on the page, and I read them over and over. I make the font REALLY BIG and read it again. The thinking here, is that the mistakes in grammar or fat fingered miscues will jump out at you. I've learned that they don't.
But there is no substitute for practice. Reps are the key.
I am excited about the conference because there are a lot of interesting people, doing some interesting things. 
It did get started on a shaky note however when the bellman asked Jilda if I was her dad. I wanted to smack him.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Late Post

It's a late post tonight. Jilda and I just got home from the songwriter thang.  It started raining as we walked out and got gradually harder as we got closer to home.
I almost had to scrape the contacts out of my eyes with a butter knife. I'm not sure why that is. We had fun tonight. Daniel Day Gallery is a delightful place.
The owners, Daniel and his new wife Melody are artists and musicians. He was one of the songwriters on the bill tonight. 
I have to confiscate Jilda's checkbook and credit cards when she goes there. The art work, the vintage clothes, and the antique jewelry are simply much of a sensory overload. She starts drooling at the earrings, and by the time she gets to the necklaces, she no longer has control of her faculties. 
Thank goodness they don't sell vintage shoes there. I'd have to take her out in a straight-jacket.
She's going to smack me when she reads this. If I don't post for several days, please call the police. Tell them to search for loose down behind the barn.
Nighty night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

House Concerts

Jilda and I are playing a singer/songwriter gig tomorrow night at Daniel Day Gallery in Birmingham. It's actually an art gallery. 
They sell artwork and other arty things, but they have music at night. Jilda and I've been there a few times to hear our friend Skip Cochran play and we really like the owners, and also the people who frequent the gallery. 
Listening to music there feels almost like an intimate house concert. House concerts are my favorite way to experience music.
Jilda and I saw Jim Page in Seattle a few years ago when we were there on business. He is a singer/songwriter that does politically charged songs. Listening to a set of Jim Page music makes you want to get involved...pick up a banner and join in a march. And listening to him up close and personal seemed to make the songs even more powerful. 
Our buddy Steve is one of the organizers for Small Stages in Birmingham. The only shows they do are house concerts. 
The last show we saw was James House. He had a bunch of hit songs on the country charts many years ago, and he hasn't slowed down. 
So where was I....Oh yes, Jilda and I will be playing with George Griffin and PapaMac at the Daniel Day Gallery on Thursday evening.. The music starts at 8 p.m.
Y'all come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vision Board - My Column from Sunday's Paper

A few years ago, Jilda convinced me to start keeping vision board. A vision board is a special kind of collage. The collage is made up of words and pictures, the stuff of your dreams. 
There are pictures of your dream house, your dream job, your dream body, your dream vacation, and other things that captures the essence of what you want out of life. For example, my vision board has pictures of famous writers, guitars, trout streams, recording studios, and a Porsche 911. 
It also has a picture of a beautiful cottage with a barn. The cottage has a metal roof with big windows and a beautiful garden. In the beginning, I put together my vision board to pacify Jilda. She was really into it and I didn't want to poo poo her idea, so I did it half heartedly not expecting much. 
Then something interesting happened. The things I'd put on my vision board, began to materialize. I began to fly fish, and actually started catching fish. One of the things I had on my vision board was to retire at 59. I'm not sure why I selected 59, but that's what I had on my board. As you may recall last year I retired – I was 59. 
I've listened to self-help books for more than 25 years and many of them talk about focusing on your goals and visualizing the outcomes.
They went on to say that with determination and persistence, you would attain practically any goal you chose. A vision board fits right in with the philosophy of Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich," which was written in 1937 and was a seminal work in the self-help field. 

Millions of people have read the book and a lot of successful folk say the book "turned a light on" for them.
For me, the magic of a vision board is that it helps you to clarify what you really want. When I played little league baseball, I was a hind catcher. I used to chatter up the batter, as I called it.
The idea was to get the batter rattled so they'd lose concentration and miss the ball being pitched. One of the things I'd say to the pitcher was, "he can't hit what he can't see." 

The same holds for you and your dreams. You can never reach a dream you can't see. Without a vision of what you truly want, you'll be like a ship without a rudder. You may drift close, but you won't recognize it until you've sailed passed. 
I've been updating my vision board because several things I had on there have actually materialized. Our cottage has been remodeled, with a metal roof, new siding, a new paint job, new windows, and a nice garden out back. 
I shot pictures when we finished remodeling, and the house resembles the cottage on my vision board. I've also gone trout fishing in three states now. 
Jilda and I have also played more singer/songwriter gigs this year than ever before. There are still things on my vision board that have not materialized, but the race is long. 
I fully expect to have all the things I really want in my life, in due time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sumac Turning

With the mercury bumping it's head on the top of the thermometer and a heat index that's off the charts, autumn seems so far away.
But Mother Nature is dropping subtle clues that tell me autumn is closer than we think. 
The dusk till dawn lights come on a little earlier, the angle of the evening light is a little different, and then there's the Sumac.
On our walk this morning I was looking to see if there were any blackberries hanging on. The only berries I saw were so dry you could smoke them, but I did see a splotchy crimson leaf in the shadows.
I leaned in close and then shot this photo with my iPhone. Even though it was as hot as a catfish at Captain D's, a smile crept onto my face because I picked up on Mother Nature's clue.
She is saying, hang on Rick. Keep walking because before you know it, the trees will turn into Impressionist paintings, and people will start to complain about the cold.
Who knew that the turning of a leaf could bring such hope? 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Evening Light

We got around early this morning and walked before the oppressive heat set in. The humidity hung on our skin like a wet kiss from one of our big ol' goofy dogs.
When we got back in, we did a quick spruce-up in the house because we had invited our friends Steve, Judy and Fred over for dinner.
A thunder storm slammed its way down from the north and rattled the china in our cupboard. Then the rain came. At one time it was raining so hard, it looked like a heavy fog out in the fields.
The deluge slacked enough for our company to run inside, before it commenced again.
After nine hours of brutal sun, the plants rejoiced.
Jilda, Steve, and I practiced the set for our upcoming show, and then we sat down for baked chicken, broasted potato's and lima beans. For desert we had blackberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream.
The deer came up in the garden and put on a show while we ate.
Afterwards we sat around and talked until our tongues got tired (as Dan Fogelberg once sang).
Meanwhile the rain moved off to the south and the lingering light from the setting sun painted the clouds a color of pink/purple that I can find no words to describe. Even this picture doesn't do justice to the evening light.  It was a fitting end to a delightful day.
I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Dollars and Cents

The garden had gotten a little grassy lately. The sun has been hot, but then we've gotten rain every few days. Weeds love that.
This morning before the sun rose above the tree line, I fired up our ancient Troybilt tiller and knocked out the middles. I then went in for the close work and pulled a bale of weeds by hand from around the okra and a row of flowers. I could almost hear the plants sigh, and stretch their roots.
I picked about a half basket of tomatoes that we've been watching for the last few days. A few of them were as big as softballs. I held the stems close to my nose, closed my eyes, and took a deep whiff. I wish I had words to describe the aroma of freshly picked produce.
Tonight Jilda made pasta salad and we made use of tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno peppers,  and basil from the garden. I'm not sure food gets much better.
When I had a day job, my coworkers used to chide me about having a garden. Why would you invest the time and money when you can stop by Walmart and get it much cheaper, they'd say.
I'd always smile and say, that "getting produce at Walmart is not the same." I can't explain it, but it's not. When we grow food, we know that it doesn't contain anything harmful. We know how it was grown, picked, stored, and that it was on the vine/plant, moments before it was used in our meal.
We have the added bonus of getting outside and digging in the soil. We get exercise from digging, hoeing, tilling, and harvesting our food.
We not only take from our soil, but we give back with grass clippings, autumn leaves, and food scraps from our table.
So call me crazy, but I think growing part of our food is smart. Sometimes true value is not measured in dollars and cents.

Friday, July 08, 2011

I feel Taller

I haven't done yoga in the past few weeks. For some reason, I've let other things take priority. When I go without yoga and meditation for an extended period of time, I start feeling scattered.
Today we had a gig performing at the local radio station's Brown Bag Lunch concert series. It started an noon, so I decided to get the day started out right.
I put the coffee on, got the yoga mat, my iPhone (to play yoga music), and I got a stick of lavender scented incense  and headed out to the back deck.
The sun was still behind the horizon so even thought the morning air was warm, it was bearable. I did all the poses I knew and held them for five breaths each. Taking it slow like that seems to give my body time to slip into the pose.
After about 30 minutes of movement and 10 minutes of meditation, I felt like a new man....I felt taller.
Then today as we performed, I felt relaxed and it was easier to connect with the audience.
I really have to focus on myself, and stop yielding to the emergency of the moment.
I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

One Million Dollars

Have you ever wondered what you'd do, or where you'd be if you came into a million dollars unexpectedly?
A million dollars is not what it used to be, but still it's a lot of money.
I've read stories about people who've won a lottery and many of them couldn't handle it. I remember the first people that won the Georgia lottery many years ago. There was a story in the paper and they guy said, "we're going to buy us a double-wide." Some dream small and others dream large.
Many people are right back where they started a year or so after they won the money.
Several years ago a guy from West Virginia, won $314 million dollars. He took the cash option and walked away with $114 million after taxes.  The money, instead of being a gift, turned into a nightmare.
I'd like to think that wouldn't happen to me. I'd like to think I'd be smart enough to invest the money and live off the interest. But who knows?
But back to my original question -- have you ever wondered what you'd do if you suddenly had a million dollars in your pocket?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Our hen has been setting for weeks now. I was about ready to shoo her off the nest and toss the eggs in the compost pile because the peeps should have arrived a week ago.
When I went down there this morning, there was a tiny black peep that was not much bigger than a humming bird.
I tried to maneuver in close to get a photo but the mama hen wouldn't have any part of it. She ran interference and when I tried to defy her, she fluffed out her feathers and made this menacing guttural sound that said, I will peck your eye sockets clean.  The mama hen is not that big, but she sounded like she meant it so I stepped away.
The other hen is setting too, but unfortunately, she's setting on the golf ball that I leave in the nest. So, she may be there for a while.
I took the morning off and did a little fly fishing.  I bought a new rod and reel. The old one was given to me by my dad before he died in 1986.
The old rig served me well, but when I made casts with it, the fly would only go about 30 feet. This meant I had to wade further into the stream to get the fly out to the fish.
With the new rod and reel, I was casting 90 feet without really trying. The technology is remarkable. I caught and released 10 trout before noon.
My head got blazed, because I forgot my hat. I know, I know, that is a goofy thing to do. I will promise you, this won't happen again.
My lovely spouse wrote a post last night entitled 10 Thinks I like About Myself.  I think it is a very good exercise. I might give that a shot myself.
If you haven't followed her blog, I really wish you would consider it because she writes well and has some great ideas. Plus, she has 97 Followers and we're going to celebrate when she breaks 100.
Transformation Information
Have a great Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

My Column from Sunday's Paper

The thermometer will be in the upper 90s this Fourth of July and Jilda is not happy. She keeps whining — why don't we summer in Telluride. 

We fell in love with that place when we visited last year during the week of the Fourth. At noon it was in the low seventies with sunshine, and by nightfall when it was time to watch the fireworks, we had to wear light jackets. 

The place was delightful. The weather, the people, the scenery and the food was incredible. When our vacation was over, It was hard to board the plane to head back to the furnace we call home. Did I mention that Jilda does NOT like hot weather. To her, the best thing about summer is watermelons and she hasn't had the best luck with them this year either. 

We bought one this past week that weighed more than a Toyota. I almost "busted a gut" wagging that beast inside. I set it on the table near the air duct so that it would get good and cold. Her thinking was that she'd get a big one and share with her brother who lives next door. His family loves watermelon too and sharing made sense because Jilda and I rarely eat 50 pounds of watermelon in one sitting. 

I had gone fishing that morning, and since we were having company coming that evening, she wanted to change the table cloth. No problem because teaching all those yoga classes has made her curiously strong. She moved the melon to the kitchen counter long enough to put on a new table cloth and a bouquet of fresh flowers. 

She was arranging the flowers in the vase and humming along with the stereo when all of a sudden she heard a loud SPLAT!!! When she turned around, she saw the kitchen had a new avant-garde paint job. 

Watermelon was everywhere, including our dog Blackie who unfortunately was in the kitchen eating. When she ran into the kitchen he had red watermelon meat and seeds all over him. She said he just lay in the floor for a while licking the juice from his face. Finally he stood up and shook as if he'd just had a bath. This threw bits of melon to places that were originally untouched by the fruit calamity. 

By the time I got home most of the mess in the house had been cleaned off the walls, the fridge, dishwasher, and cabinets, but the floor still felt a little tacky as I walked through. I looked out the window into the back yard and she had Blackie in a #3 washtub spraying him down with a garden hose. 

Blackie is about 12 years old, weighs about 100 pounds, and his fur is as think as a mink coat, so he's not fond of summer either. He did seem to be enjoying his bath, though it didn't appear to be as much fun for Jilda. Before it was over, she was soaked from head to toe. 

I didn't tease her because it was getting close to supper and unless I wanted to eat sardines and saltines, I knew I'd better keep my mouth shut. I also didn't mention the sticky kitchen floor. 

I did head back down to Jolly Chollie's produce stand and bought another watermelon that we could enjoy on the Fourth of July. But then I might wake up on the fourth with a note pinned to my pillow saying – Blackie and me have gone to Telluride, we'll see you in September. 

Happy Fourth of July. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Birthday America

We take America for granted. Too many people slept through American History. Part of the problem when I was in school is that most of the textbooks simply contained the facts, but it was difficult putting those facts in context.
When Ben Franklin said -
We must all hang together
or assuredly we will all hang separately
It sounds like a snappy quip, but when he said that, the colonists were past the point of no return. Too much had been said and done. If the colonists didn't succeed, he knew they would all be hanged as traitors.
I read David McCullough's 1776 which relied heavily on the letters of the main players -- John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington.
McCullough's book brought the history alive to me and it finally hit home just how close we came to losing the war for independence.
Until that time, it never dawned on me the sacrifices our forefathers made.
Today has been a laid back day. Jilda had to work this afternoon so I went down and had dinner with my sister and her family.  I ate too much BBQ and had too much banana pudding for desert.  As I sit here tonight, I can hear fireworks off in the distance, and I feel humbled and grateful on this Independence Day. I'm thankful our forefathers had the willingness, the tenacity, and brains to make it through.
I wonder what they would think if they had a chance to sit where I sit on this Independence Day.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunflower Blue

We've been on the road the last few days having fun with friends, but we're both paying the price now.
We got home just after sunset and when I walked down to the shed to get a scoop of corn for the deer, they were already standing under the apple tree.
I couldn't tell if they were tapping their hoofs, but I got a sense that they were.
"Well, I'm glad SOMEBODY finally decided to bring us a little corn."
I acted like I didn't see them and I walked within 50 feet of where they were standing before the bolted to the edge of the garden.
They watched from a distance as I strolled up and poured the scoop of corn on the ground.
On the way back to the house, I noticed that all our sunflowers were in full bloom.
I know I shot a photo and wrote about them a few days ago, but I couldn't resist shooting another picture. I tried to turn this into an art photo.
I can promise you it will be bedtime soon.
Jilda is working tomorrow afternoon. She was scheduled to be off, but the military guys asked if she would consider teaching their class tomorrow.
She has a soft spot in her heart for these guys, and since we didn't have anything special planned, she decided to go in to teach their class.
I have several storys that I'm finishing up so I'll spend much of the day writing.
I hope you all have a remarkable holiday.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Most Fun

OK, What's the most fun you've ever had with your clothes on?
In no particular order:
1. Rug Riding (you nail a room-size rug to a beam, attach it to a four-wheel drive truck, and load it with as many people (rug riders) that can possibly stand on the rug, and then drag them around a 40 acre field until no one is standing). Click here for an old blog post and picture.
2. Innertubing down the Warrior River in the heat of summer
3. Flying a kite in March
4. Playing our songs before a rowdy crowd at the FloraBama at Orange Beach.
5. Riding in boats & Water skiing
6. Driving fast on a full-moon night with the lights off. (Jilda's not so fond of this)
7. Body surfing in the Gulf of Mexico
8. Fly fishing anywhere
9. Dinner with friends
10. The moment you know you have written something really good.

What are some fun things you've done?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Get Out of Jail Free

I rarely do this, but I'm playing a "Get out of Jail Free" card tonight. We were up late last night and I've been on the road all day today (I know I'm a whiny baby) but I am absolutely running on empty.
I'll do better tomorrow.

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