Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanks to the Sun

The first part of the week was rainy and cold. On Monday we got our first bit of snow. It's rare to have snow in Alabama in November, but we had no accumulation. I'm not sure what we'll do with all this milk and bread.
When I went out to feed the critters, it looked like a snow globe at one time. It was picturesque but I hadn't worn a jacket and I got chilled to the bone. Normally I don't get that cold, but I was still recovering from the bug and the wind out of the northwest cut like a dull scythe.  My joints felt like someone had squirted some epoxi in there while I wasn't looking. 
But today as I stood at the sink waiting for the last gurgle of the coffee pot, I could see the clouds tinctured almost the color of coral. I smiled involuntarily.
I had to work for a while this morning at the school, but as I left for the day, the sun was high and warm.
I unhitched the tailgate of my truck, and sat for a while letting the sun warm my face and bake my aching knees. 
This evening I still couldn't run a marathon, but the joints feel better, thanks to the sun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dream Train

The one good thing that came out of being sick on Sunday was that last night I finally got some much needed sleep. At some point, I started dreaming, but like a few weeks ago this was almost a lucid dream. Around 3 a.m., I woke up long enough to pick up my cell phone and record my dream.
I then promptly fell asleep and slept until after 6 a.m.
When I woke up, I realized I'd been dreaming again and so as the coffee gurgled, I wrote those thoughts down too.
As it turns out, it was a productive night. As I listened to the recording this morning I realized it was an idea for a newspaper column.
After coffee, I knocked the story out in 15 minutes which is some kind of record for me. The column entitled "Losing a Day." This after losing Sunday evening through Monday evening due to the stomach bug. I think it's funny and insightful and I believe you'll like it when I post it next Monday (after it runs on Sunday).
I'd post it now, but I have people who follow my blog that subscribe to the paper and it would be a bit of a spoiler for them.
The second dream was a pamphlet for a project that I'm working on now with the Walker County Center of Technology.
The WCCT is a school where students from all over the county can come and work on marketable skills --
Cosmetology, Welding, Auto, Drafting, etc.
Most of the kids who go to WCCT are not the "in crowd". They are not the cheerleaders, or football players.
The pamphlet I dreamed was "What I Wish Someone Had Told Me In High School".
It's full of the bits of wisdom I've learned during my time in the workforce. I wrote the outline this afternoon.
Again, once I put the pamphlet together, I'll share it with you here.
I'm not sure why, but it seems lately that many of my dreams have had such clarity. In the past, the dreams I managed to remember have often been strange, almost as if someone took a lifetime of home 8 mm movies, chopped them into bits and pieces and the spliced them together randomly.
It's my intention to ride the dream train where ever it takes me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Staying Together ~ Column From Sunday

I got a chance to interview Jake and Margaret Monte of Home-wood this week. 

They are an elderly couple that has been married almost 71 years. 

He was a "breadman" and she worked in her father’s grocery store in Ensley when they met. 

As I sat there listening to the story of their life together, it occurred to me that there are no secrets to staying married — it’s all common sense.

When I asked Margaret, who is 92, what it takes to stay married, she raised an eyebrow conspiratorially, nodded her head toward Jake, and said, “It takes a LOT of patience.” 

I had to laugh at the way she said it, but I knew exactly what she was saying. Jake, who is 98, said, “We learned to put up with each other.”

Again, I smiled, because both statements sound like something Jilda and I would say.

I got to thinking about what advice I’d give some young couple if they asked how to stay married for the long haul.

Personally, I think the early years are the most treacherous for most marriages. 

There are so many minefields — relationships, finances, dreams, not having things in common that you both enjoy, and figuring out where you’ll eat Thanksgiving dinner are just a few of the potential pitfalls.

Jilda and I navigated those obstacles, but I can tell you it was not painless. There were times I know she seriously considered slamming me in the head with a skillet, and tossing my body into a wood chipper. 

There were times I deserved that fate.

But we made the decision to stay together. Hurt feelings and bruised egos heal with time. 

Fortunately, even though we sometimes still get angry with each other, I don’t remember either of us saying things that we couldn’t take back, and I think that is the key.

There’s a parable about a young boy with a bad temper and his father had him drive nails in their wooden fence every time he became angry. 

After some time and a bunch of nails, the boy learned to control his temper.

Then his father told him for every day he went without losing his temper, he should pull one of the nails out of the fence. After a while the boy went to his father and told him the nails were all removed.

His father said “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. 

“When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.”

I found this little parable profound. I’ve known people who were never hurt physically, but at some time in their past, someone close to them had said things that wounded them deeply and even after years, the scars remained.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a lecture on how to stay married, but after talking with Jake and Margaret this week, it seemed like a fitting topic.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slim Pickings

I've had a stomach virus all day and I'm so weak I can barely type. I know I said a few days ago that I writer whether I feel like it or not.
Well, I lied.
I'll do better tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Connections are so important -- more important than most people realize. I've read that many breakthroughs in technology, engineering, medicine, and other fields are the result of someone putting two seemingly unrelated things together.
Steve Johnson who wrote, Where Good Ideas Come From, coined a phrase -- Adjacent Possible. Adjacent Possible explores the role of "spare part" ideas. Ideas that never really got off the ground but weren't forgotten. The "spare part" ideas were then resurrected and combined with other "spare part" ideas to form something completely new and innovative.
I'd never heard that term before but I think it's right on target. I think the reason I did as well as I did when I had a day job was because I had a knack for making connections that were obvious to me, but were stealthy to others.
The reason that Apple is where it is today is because Steve Jobs was a master at connecting unrelated things.
I think as writers, it's smart to broaden our understanding of things unrelated to writing. 
If we write about sports, I think studying marketing, or the Japanese art of origami might be beneficial. If we write about gardening, it might be helpful to study art history, or sociology.
Any time we broaden our knowledge of the world around us, I think it puts us in a better position to make intuitive connections that can take our craft to the next level.
Hmmmmm. After reading this, I realized it's gotten pretty deep for a Saturday night. 
Since my team won tonight, I think I'm going to connect up with a nice glass of Merlot and call it a night. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Practice Every Day

I've started three separate updates tonight. They all seemed brilliant at first but quickly drifted a little south of mediocrity.
There's a game your mind plays with you when you're tired mentally or physically. It will tell you -- hey, why bother, no one reads this crap anyway. Who cares if you skate tonight? It would be easy just to knock out something mindless, or simply skip writing for a night.
I don't know about you, but if I started skipping nights, I'd soon be skipping weeks, and months. Next thing you know I'd spend each night munching Lorna Doone cookies in front of the TV and watching Dancing with Desperate Housewives.
I'm not saying that every post has to be earth shattering, but I do think every post should say something about me.
I know in the scheme of things, I'm still a novice when it comes to writing, but it's something I know in my heart, that I could get good at one day. And the way you get good at anything, is to practice every day.
So tonight I'm here, writing even though I'm tired and I'd rather be doing something mindless.
Y'all have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

We've received calls, emails notes, and cards today wishing Jilda and I a Happy Thanksgiving.
Some were funny, some were poignant, but all were heartfelt. 
To me, the soul of Thanksgiving is gratitude. 
We are all much too quick to acknowledge the bad stuff, and minimuze the blessings we receive. 
Blessings come in many forms -- an unexpected thank you, or check in the mail; it could be finding a parking space close to the door of Walmart when it's raining buckets; or turning a corner and witnessing a stunning sunset that takes our breath away.
I think being grateful for the little things, opens up the pathway to allow bigger and better things to happen. 
Today at the community center, we opened the doors at 11:30. We had tables of food that people and businesses had donated, and 15 people there ready to serve, but no one came. 
Just then, one of the women remembered an elderly friend and a neighbor who couldn't drive, so she fixed go boxes and left to deliver them. 
I remembered an old guy that lives in a small one room house. I pass by him almost every day on my way to visit my mom. He's often sitting out on his porch watching the world pass by.  I fixed a box and took it to him. He was both surprised and grateful.
By the time I returned to the center, people had started coming in.
By one, we'd served about 75 people. 
Here's the thing -- It's hard to think about all the wrongs life has dealt you when you're serving others. Most of the stuff we fret about is as insignificant as a hangnail in the scheme of things.
After lunch, we left the community center, headed to the nursing home to visit my mom. Once there, we did our best to speak to every resident we passed.
After a nice visit with my mom, we drove to my sister's house and snacked with them as the evening sun squatted down behind the horizon.
When we arrived home, it was all I could do to keep from taking a nap. I was spent, but happy.
As I reflect on Thanksgiving 2012, here is a short list of the things I'm grateful for:
I'm grateful for my health, even though my knees squeak when I stand
I'm grateful I managed to find work that suited me, paid for my house, and education
I'm grateful for the friends I've made through the years
I'm grateful the Good Lord has blessed me with a sense of humor and the ability to occasionally string words together that make sense 
I'm grateful for our little farm and the critters that live here
I'm grateful for my fellow writers, the wisdom they share, and the comments they make
I'm grateful I learned how to play music and write songs
I'm grateful for finding a soulmate the first time around
In closing, I found a quote by Charles Dickens that says it better than I ever could --
"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."  
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving ~ Column

It just occurred to me that I’m running out of year. I woke this morning to the sound of a thunderstorm stomping its way through Empire. 

All the dogs became antsy and wanted on the bed with us, but together our dogs outweigh our refrigerator so they had to make do on the floor next to the bed.

With my head on the pillow and watching the morning come alive through the openings between the tiny slats on our window, I realized there are only six weeks left in 2011. I know it has turned into a tired clich̩, but I have to know Рwhere has this year gone? THANKSGIVING IS THIS THURSDAY!

I got up and put on a pot of coffee and as I listened to it gurgle, I flipped open my laptop and located my goals for 2011. I thought to myself – “How could this be? My second book was supposed to be coming out before year’s end, and the singer/songwriter CD that Jilda and I have been working on should be playing on my stereo. Regretfully, these goals will have to be moved over to 2012.

When I was a kid, it seemed like a year between Labor Day and Thanksgiving and another year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but these days I’m afraid to blink.

After the storm passed and the dogs settled down, I drifted off to sleep and I dreamed I could smell the aroma of turkey and dressing wafting from the kitchen.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like the aroma of turkey and dressing baking in the oven. The memory of past holidays is so vivid it feels like I could stick a fork into it.

My mother was a master turkey and dressing cooker, but so was Jilda’s mom Ruby. I started eating Thanksgiving at their house when we first started dating (Jilda, not Ruby). 

Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) at our house was sedate compared to Ruby’s house. That place started buzzing before the chickens got off the roost, and by lunch time, the police had to direct traffic in and out of their yard. 

Ruby also made a sweet potato casserole. She made it in a pan as big as a checkerboard and she toasted buttered pecans and sprinkled them on top. 

It was all I could do to keep from getting naked and wallowing in that pan of sweet potatoes before eating my way out of it. Perhaps that was a little too much information for some readers, but I think it gives one a feel for just how good that dish was.

Ruby passed away in 2005, but thankfully she passed those old recipes down to Jilda and her sister Pat, instead of taking them with her to the grave. There are a lot of families that feel they are too busy to learn to cook the old traditional dishes. A lot of families order up Thanksgiving dinner from a supermarket. 

I made the mistake last year of having store bought turkey and dressing. It tasted like toasted grits mixed with chert rock, and some kind of mystery meat. It was fowl, but I don’t think it was turkey (pun intended).

This Thanksgiving we plan to help serve food to the needy at the Community Center in Sipsey, but we’ll find time to get together and feast with our families on the good stuff.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving, but take my advice and steer clear of chert rock dressing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


People here are a little edgy about the weather since the violent weather back in April.  This summer we were fortunate in that we had no more bad weather to speak of, but in the south, violent weather has two seasons -- spring and fall.
We scheduled a video shoot in Tuscaloosa for today. When we called our friend, he thought the weather would corporate long enough to get the footage he needed.
Fortunately most of the footage we did in his studio, but we needed some shots outside. As we drove to the site, rain began to fall and the clouds to the southwest looked angry.
We decided to grab some lunch and see if the skies cleared. We lunched at City Cafe in Northport. City Cafe is a very popular cafe so we had to wait for a table. I had what I always have at a meat and three cafe -- hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, and fried okra. Jilda had the fried green tomatoes instead of the okra.
I can tell you, this is one of the best meat and three restaurants I've been to in years.
Afterwards the clouds parted and we got the shots we needed before heading back to the studio.
On the way back, I snapped this picture. In Tuscaloosa where thousands of homes were destroyed and so many people died, a lot of eyes were on the skies.
As it turned out, the violent weather missed us which is fortunate, but I think I can say with confidence, that people in Tuscaloosa will never look at clouds the same as they did before April 27, 2011.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fitting In

Every time one of our old dogs passes on, or we add a new dog to the pack, the dynamics change. All of our dogs are now eight years and older -- except for Caillou.
Caillou is the new collie that wandered up in the spring. He's about a little over a year old and can't understand why the other dogs won't play with him.  It's even harder for him to understand why ALL the other dogs still snarl, snap, and bully him around. 
Even Ol' Buddy that is 1/3 the size of Caillou keeps him in line. 
All the dogs get excited when we walk, but Caillou is ecstatic. He runs rings around the old dogs, jumps over their backs and bolts out of the gait like a thoroughbred race horse.
All the old dogs go inside after one lap, but Caillou makes ever step we make. He chases sticks, tennis balls, or pine cones. God help a poor rabbit, chipmunk, or squirrel that crosses our path while we're walking.
Tonight all the old dogs know the routine so they head for the office and stake our the prime real estate around our desks because they know we always write about 8 p.m. Caillou, who is still learning the ropes, waits until we go into the office. By that time, it's too late. 
Tonight as the pup tried to come into the office, Blackie Bear who was lying by Jilda's chair, snarled like he would kill the collie and drag his bones out in the back yard and bury them near where he likes to do his business.
At one point, Bear looked up at me as if to say, "why don't we do the humane thing and put this dumbass creature down."
Caillou is a little slow on the uptake, but I can already see his behavior change. He's learning where he fits in. 
Change can be painful for any family, work group, or dog pack. The key is figuring out where you fit in.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Have you ever smelled of your keyboard? Tonight, in a fit of frustration (because I didn't have a clue what to write about) I, sort of banged my head on my desk.
That put my nose in close proximity to my keyboard. Wow! I thought to myself. Not in a million years would I have guessed that my keyboard smelled of spaghetti and peanut brittle. 
It occurred to me that we had left over spaghetti for dinner. We never really do deserts, but we had a bag of peanut brittle that was given to us as a gift last weekend. I may have snagged a couple pieces before coming into the office to work on my blog. Hmmmm mystery solved.
There's a couple of interesting things at work here -- the most obvious being that I'm sniffing my keyboard, but the other being -- that no matter what we do, we leave  trace.
If we're slothful, someone will know. If we are rude or unkind, people will notice. 
On the other hand, a simple smile is sometimes all it takes to lift someone's spirits
I visit the nursing home where my mom lives, almost every day now. I've come to know many of the folks who live there. No matter how stressful my day has been, or how big a hurry I'm in, I try to take a moment to speak to the folks I pass in the hall. Sometimes the simplest acknowledgement brings a smile that warms your heart.
If given a choice, I'd prefer to be remembered as someone whose trace smelled like peanut brittle, than a missed appointment.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Losing the One You Love

We watched the movie Bandits while we ate dinner tonight. It's fairly old and stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Kate Blanchett.
In the movie, Bruce Willis' car is a 1967 Pontiac GTO. I love that car. I never had one, but I had a friend who did and it was what we called a screamer. In the late 60's Detroit made some of the most beautiful cars, in my opinion.
I had a 1965 Chevy Impala SS. It was fire engine red with a motor as big as Texas and a 4 on the floor.
When I cranked that baby up, the windows at my parents house rattled.
My fuel bill was outrageous back when gas was 50 cents a gallon.
On most Saturdays in the summer, I spent the afternoon washing and polishing that car. I'd roll the front and back windows down and head off to fetch Jilda.
I loved that car, but apparently someone else did too because it was stolen one night. The police came and took my information, but I never saw that Chevy again.
I've had cars and trucks that I've liked since then, but I've never had another car that I loved.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lovin' My Job

I interviewed a couple today that got married when Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House -- for those of you who aren't from this country, that was 1941.
They borrowed his brother-in-law's car and drove to Beaumont, Texas where they spent their honeymoon with relatives there.
This coming January, they will have been married 71 years.
He's 98 and she's 92. They are frail, but they still live together in their Homewood cottage. They are Italian and came from huge families, but all their siblings are gone now.
The walls and tables of the house are covered in pictures of old friends, and days gone by.
She says he spends most days napping in the living room recliner. Both get around in their house with the aid of walkers.
When I asked them how they managed to stay together, she looked at me, and raised both her eyebrows conspiratorially and nodded toward him and said -- "It took a lot of patience,"
He laughed and said they learned to "put up" with each other.
After the interview, he gave me a tour of their house and showed me all his medals and commendations from WWII.
I spent over an hour talking to them. I've known it all along, but days like today help me to remember why I love this job.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where's the Inspiration?

I'm sitting here scratching my beard trying to think of something to write about and Jilda's three feet away tapping on the keys of her laptop like she'd snorted a diet pill.
What is the deal-lieo? I'm a good person. I floss. I stop for pedestrians on walkers scooting into Walmart at a glacial pace. I rarely park in handicap spots, and I recycle. Why can I not have a decent idea once in a while.
OK, I realize I'm typing gibberish right now, but what do you expect? If I'd realized I would live this long, I would have eaten right, taken vitamins, and not sassed that fortune teller.
BREATHING. OK, I feel better already.
I'm working with the local high school technology center (we called it trade school back in the day) on a new website.
I spent most of the day taking pictures and talking to students, and instructors. It didn't take long to realize these kids weren't cheerleaders, they weren't sports stars, and most colleges would not be filling their mailbox with scholarship offers.
But what I saw was a group of kids that looked a lot like I looked when I was in high school in the late 60's.
I got a chance to talk to some of them one on one. I told them I was proud of the work they were doing at the technology center. I encouraged them to get really good at something.
I told them the world needs people who can fix things.  People in China, India, and Taiwan, might read your X-rays tonight and email the results to your doctor in the morning, but if you're toilet is stopped up, you're gonna need somebody from your zipcode.
So, even though I don't have a lot to write about tonight, I enjoyed my time with the kids today. I found myself smiling as I drove off campus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Loose Blogger

OK, you can call me a loose blogger. For years I've monazited my websites and this blog. All that means if you were to click on one of the Google ads that appears next to or under my blog, I'd get a little bit of money. Most years I get about a hundred bucks from all my websites and this blog.
Today I got an enhancement from Viglink that goes a step further. If I were to mention say Amazon or Ebay or some other business that advertises with Viglink, and you happened to click on the link, I'd get a little money.
The FTC takes this stuff seriously and so they make bloggers disclose whether they receive compensation by talking about these advertisers.  I want to say up front, that if you click on one of these links, I will get a little money.
The thing is, when I have a good experience with a company, website, or other business, I often write good things about them. Look back over my blogs through the years for kind words about Apple, Volvo, Ford,, and a bunch of other businesses. I've never, to my knowledge, gotten any money from them.
If on the other hand they screw me over, then I write about that too and you can use that information any way you care to use it.
Having said that, I just want to say that I won't be writing about ANY advertiser just to get a few cents when you click on one of their links.
However, if I have a good experience with a company, website, or other business, that means they've earned my trust and endorsement and you can rest assured that I'm recommending them for that reason and not that I'm  a total AD-HO that would sell my mama to the Talaban for a 12 pack of Bud and a puka necklace.
But I guess I'd fall under the category of loose blogger. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I dream often, but normally by the time I awake, the images have dissipated like a wisp of smoke on a windy day.
Last night I dreamed of a song that's been dancing on the edge of  conscientiousness, and it came into focus as clear as a guppy in well kept aquarium.
I woke up at 3:33 a.m. and the song was still there. I remember because I looked over at the digital clock by our bedside. 
"I should get up and write this down," I thought to myself. But instead I closed my eyes and a few seconds later I was fast asleep again.
Most of the time that would have been the end of the story, but this morning, I woke up a little early and laid in bed. 
Before my feet touched the floor, I remembered the music and the lyrics to the chorus. I got up and fired up the coffee and I picked up the guitar and diddled around until my fingers found the chords.
Before Jilda had reached the point where it was safe to talk to her without fear of injury, I started humming the melody.
When I started singing the words, it was obvious the draft was rough but even though she couldn't speak, she ID'd the weak spots in the lyrics and fixed them. She didn't say anything but she tapped the notebook with her pencil.
I smiled when I read over what she'd written.
The song still has a long way to go, but it feels good. I don't want to jinx the song so I'm not going to say much more.
I know this -- the brain is a remarkable instrument. If we could capture the thoughts, images, and ideas that flit through our brains at random while we sleep, there is no telling what we could accomplish.
I'll be writing all day tomorrow on stories that are due this week. I hope you all have a remarkable Wednesday. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dental Problems --Column from Sunday's Paper

As I often do with my columns, I take subjects about which I've written and embellish them into a column.

There should be some kind of natural law that says, "No dental work after the age of 60." I mean having root canals, teeth pulled, or any procedure that causes your mouth to smoke like a brush fire should be banned.

But sadly, that is not the case. I woke up one night this past week with a bit of a toothache. That's odd I thought to myself. I had a checkup recently and they found no problems. But the fact remained, my jaw was hurting a little.

I got up and drank some buttermilk and cornbread and tossed down a couple Advil and the next morning it seemed like an unpleasant dream. Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Toothache turns into a major problem

Then a few nights later, the same thing happened again, so I made a appointment to see my dentist.

She tapped on my teeth like she was playing a xylophone but none of them hurt. She then took some X-rays. After close inspection, she took a tiny needle-like implement shaped like a scythe, and gouged under one of my bridges.

Hmmm she mused, "How long has this bridge been in?" I told her I got it when Carter was in the White House. She failed to see the humor in my quip.

I doubt she was born when Carter was president, I though to myself. She looked really young, but then most people look younger to me these days. But I digress.

After studying the X-ray she saw two potential problems. She recommended I go to an endodontist. I saw the endodontist on Monday and he looked younger than my regular dentist, so I didn't bother hitting him with the "Carter was in the White House" gag.
After more X-rays, he said my back tooth which had a crown, needed a root canal.

He came out with a needle as big as a bicycle hand pump and shot me full of Novocain. After a few minutes, he asked if my jaw felt numb. I sounded like I'd drank too much tequila when I drooled, "It wheels murty nung."

Then he put what sounded like a wood chipper or perhaps a stump grinder in my mouth to get through the crown and down to the roots. When he finished up, I stopped to settle the bill at the front desk.

My portion after the insurance, was enough to buy a nice flatscreen TV. Then today it was back to my regular dentist to finish the job.

It seems the old bridge had to come off, one of the jaw teeth was badly decayed and had to come out, then she would fit me with a new bridge in a month or so when everything healed up.

She had one of the women who worked in bookkeeping to come in and break the bad news about what this work would cost, above what the insurance would pay. She spoke like a grief counselor as she explained all the charges.

"So, do you want to have the work done," she asked. What I wanted to say is, "No, I think I'll live the rest of my natural life in excruciating pain." But instead I whipped out my debit card and she scurried off as if she'd won the lottery.

I could almost hear her say "Woo hoo, now we can ALL go to the beach this weekend." Obviously I'm having fun with my tooth-worker friends.

They were all very professional and they can't help the fact that insurance pays so little. But I got to thinking. What do people do that don't have insurance, or the money to pay what the insurance company doesn't pay?

I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of people these days that go without treatment because they can't pay.

 I am grateful that we've been in a position to pay for problems when they arise — but WE won't be going to the beach this weekend. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Chores

We didn't have much on the calendar today so I did a few things that's been on my "Stuff I'm Going To Do  One Of These Days" list.
It's stuff that's important, but not urgent. Most folks have a list like this. Smart folks don't wait as long as I do to work on their list. 
Things like -- put our new music equipment on our MusicPro Insurance inventory. It's not pressing. The lights will stay on, there will be food on the table, but if something happens to that equipment when we're out playing, insurance would come in really handy.
I did that today. I also did some adjustments on the lawn tractor, I cut the grass one last time this fall, and I took it to the barn so that it would be out of the weather this winter.
I have a small water leak and today I located the leak and I collected the parts I need to repair the pipe. Again, it's important because I noticed my water bill is more than it should be, but it's not urgent because we still have water. 
If I let it go to long, the pipe will break -- and that usually happens at the worst possible moment. I'll finish repairing that tomorrow.
In years past, I've let important but not urgent stuff slide until it became important AND urgent. When that happens, it usually costs much more to set things straight.
This afternoon when I'd finished up my chores, I drove out to see my mom at the nursing home. We don't have a garage so we park our cars under giant oak and sweet gum trees. Bushels of leaves have been falling the past week or so. Today as I drove down the road I looked in my rearview mirror and saw leaves blowing out of the bed of my truck like confetti.
I had a story due last week that I didn't finish because I was out of commission several days due to the dental work, so I have to catch up this week.
Y'all have a great week. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Good Day for Flags

It was a beautiful day for flags. Last night was cool but the day warmed up nicely when the sun came out.
The day could have been warm, but a steady wind out of the northeast, was strong enough to make the flag stand at attention and rattle against the flagpole.
Jilda was a little concerned that she'd overdressed and might get too warm by mid morning, but that breeze blew away her fears.
We had to be at the community center by 9:30 this morning to set up and test the sound system and make sure we knew how today's Veterans Program would unfold.
Thanks to our buddy Fred, who helped us put together a system that was simple to use, we were online in about 15 minutes.
I know I said yesterday that I wasn't making any more changes to my speech, but this morning I made one last revision which made the language simpler and easier to say.
Once the program started, Jilda and I played a few songs. She sang This Land is Your Land. People love that song and when we looked into the crowd, you could see people singing along.
When I started to play the second song, The Storm Brings Out The Eagle, Jilda tapped me on the shoulder to tell me I had the guitar capo in the wrong fret. I stopped playing and as I moved the capo I said to the crowd -- there are three kinds of people in this world.  Those who can count and those who can't. The crowd howled with laughter.
As I stood up to give my speech, Jilda leaned over and whispered into my ear -- breathe.
Then when I started talking, I led off with the joke I tested on you all a few days ago and again it clicked. I took a deep breath and the words flowed.
I rewrote a blog entry I'd written in January of 2006 called Forever Young. It's about my uncle Marvin Lee Ferguson who was died at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. He was the first soldier from our county to die in WWII.
The only picture I have of him is when he was about 20 in his sailor uniform with his had cocked to one side. He was smiling at the camera. As I thought about the blog entry in 2006, I realized that Uncle Marvin Lee would be forever young.
The piece seemed fitting in my speech today because the Veterans Memorial Board had just installed a plaque with the names of soliders from our county that were killed in Vietnam.
The last line of the Forever Young story said -- On mantles all across America there are pictures of smiling faced soldiers that will be forever young. I could see in the faces of the crowd, that the words hit home.
To end the ceremony, the color guard who lowered the flag and did a 21 gun salute while a lone bugler played Taps.
It was a emotional day. Alabama may trail the rest of the country in a lot of things, but honor, and a sense of duty to our country are not among those things.
I was flattered and humbled to be asked to speak at this ceremony and I'm thankful I managed to pull it off without crashing and burning.
Y'all have a great Sunday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

My local high school is in the second round of the state playoffs tonight so I plan to go down and shoot pictures for the website.
This has been a strange week and it seems I lost a few days due to dental problems. Now it seems all I'm doing is playing catch up. I've been a little stressed about the speech tomorrow. I bet I've rewritten my speech 15 times today. I've timed, retimed, cut, sliced, added, spruced up and otherwise changed it.I printed it out a little while ago and put it by my car keys so I won't forget it in the morning. I think there comes a time when you have to let it go and trust your gut that it will work out fine. That time has arrived.I would be remiss if I didn't thank all veterans for their service on Veterans Day. We owe our vets a great deal.

Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Thangs

I had meeting in Birmingham this morning so I headed out early like a regular commuter. The sky was overcast, but the sun was poking through the clouds now and then.
When I drove by the lake near our house, I had to stop and shoot this photograph. 
It's hard to see here but the hillside looked as if it were draped with an expensive Persian rug. (If you click on the photo, it's a little bigger.)
I stepped around the shore a little to get a better angle but when I looked across the lake a flock of ducks hit the water heading for me. 
I'm guessing people stop by and feed them and they naturally were curious as to what treats I might have.
I didn't want to disappoint them so I scurried for the truck and headed off before they swam all the way across the lake.
After the local paper rejected my typo column I took the advice of one of my followers and submitted to another publication.  The 280 Living paper loved the column and they're running it in December. 
I plan to submit that column and another one in the Alabama Media Professionals annual contest. AMP is a group of professional writers, radio, and TV folks who gather monthly to network.
The annual contest has a bunch categories, but one is for humorous columns. I think this one fits that bill. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the judges like it. 
The AMP meeting is at lunch and they bring in boxes from the local deli. I responded in an email that I wanted lunch but it must have been too late because they didn't order one for me.
The meeting lasted until after one and by the time I walked out, I could have eaten roadkill. I rarely eat fast food, but I stopped at Taco Bell and slammed down three tacos before you could say chihuahua. 
Tonight Jilda and I are practicing because she and I will play a couple songs at the Veterans Ceremony on Saturday. 
Looks like it will be a busy weekend.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Veterans Day

The local Veterans group asked me to give the keynote talk at the ceremony this coming weekend.
I really don't speak in front of people often although I have from time to time. I was flattered at the invitation and I've been working on what I wanted to say this week.
I plan to open it up with a joke so I thought I'd try it out on you first to see if it flies.

This retired Colonel had let himself go physically for years and he decided to get back in shape.
He joined a gym and hired a young trainer to help keep him on track.
The first day at the gym and young woman goddess of 25 came in and got on the treadmill next to the Colonel. She smiled as she set out on a brutal routine. 
The Colonel called the young trainer over and asked if there was a machine he could get on that would impress the young woman.
After looking at the young woman, and then evaluating the Colonel he said -- You might consider the ATM machine in the lobby.

I figure I'll either lose the crowd right there or have them eating out of my hand. The rest of my talk is about my time in the Army and my observations about service to our country. 
I worked on a project the last several weeks to verify all the names of soldiers from our county who died in Vietnam.
The Veterans committee wanted to have a plaque made to honor those fallen soldiers. I wrote a story for the paper and included all the names of the soldiers we knew of. 
As it turns out, readers contacted me with  the names of two soldiers who grew up here but moved away before they were drafted. 
I'm a little nervous because there are always a lot of people who attend this ceremony but veterans are near and dear to my heart. It's my intention to give it my best shot.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I Survived!!!!

I survived the dental work today. It was touch and go there for awhile, but I've spent most of the day on the couch drooling on my pillow. 
Tonight Jilda fixed a pot of 15 bean soup which is one of my favorites. I had to lean my head to starboard and eat, but it's hard to describe just how good it tasted.
I just took my antibiotics and more pain meds so I expect my typing will soon be slurred as if I'd been drinking tequila. 
I'm hoping tonight is the last of the pain meds because they make me feel kind of goofy. Jilda pointed out that I often act goofy and anyone would be hard pressed to tell if I were on drugs or not. I'd never thought of it quite like that.
Last night at midnight was the last of the voting for Phil Campbell. This morning when I checked, they were leading by 4,000 votes. Glee Give a Note will officially announce the winners on December 1st.
When I first asked you all to consider voting for the school, I wasn't sure how it would be received, but I've been in awe at how many of you continued to vote each day and also shared the link with your friends.
I am grateful to you all. I'm sure the kids in the Phil Campbell band are amazed at how their tiny school in Alabama could generate over 60 thousand votes in less than a month.
Y'all do good work. Now it's time for the Rickster to hit the couch.

Monday, November 07, 2011

It's Not Over Yet

I headed out to the dentist early this morning. I had a root canal, but as it turns out, the root canal had to be done before my regular dentist could fix the "bad tooth". 
The endodontist had to drill in through my bridge. The device he used sounded like a cross between a stump grinder and a wood chipper.
I tried to point this out to the dentist, but I had a mouth full of apparatuses, so what came out was aaa snnnnnd ike a oooooddd iiiiipppppper. He stopped drilling long enough to let the smoke clear and asked if I'd said something to him. 
Ohhhhh ayyyyyyy dndnt say nuthin. 
Turns out, the visit today wasn't that bad. But I'm headed back to my regular dentist tomorrow. She'll be snatching the bridge off  and yanking out the offending tooth with a pair of channel locks. 
When she does her number on my stubborn teeth I plan to come home and spend some quality time on the couch.
Y'all take care and be sure to go and brush your teeth.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


I'm excited about tomorrow. I expect it to be a fun filled day. I'm calling the endodontist at 7:30 to find out when I can go in to have something done about a tooth.
I woke up one night last week and one of my jaw teeth hurt. I'd had a checkup a few months ago and had no problems, but the side of my face told me something was amiss. When I woke up the next morning, it was fine.
Two nights later, the same thing happened. When I saw the dentist that afternoon, she tapped on my teeth with a ball-ping hammer, but none of the hurt that much. She took X-rays and when they came out, she had one more look.
With an instrument that looks like a tiny scythe, she poked at a tooth hidden under one of my many bridges.
She said there was definitely a problem with that tooth. It was a little tender but nothing that made me want to carve my initials into her forehead with a dull pocket knife.
She told me to go to a endodontist and let them do their thing on the bad tooth and they she'd repair/replace the bridge.
I got the first available appointment was Tuesday, but they said I could call tomorrow morning if I had an emergency and they'd see me tomorrow. I didn't think that would be necessary until Friday evening when the pain set in. I'm talking about good quality pain. A masochist would be in heaven.
I've been taking antibiotics, snorting Advil, and taking pain meds all weekend. Believe me when I say, I'm excited about tomorrow -- I can't wait to get rid of this toothache.

Thanks for your support everyone -- Also to vote for Phil Campbell 
Click Here  we have to vote until Monday. Thanks Everyone.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


    I was reading back over one of my columns the other day and a typo jumped out and stung me like a yellow jacket. I hate it when I mess up. As I've mentioned before – If I'd realized when I was young that I wanted to be a writer, I would have paid better attention in English class.
   I got to thinking about this today when I read a Facebook update from one of our friends who got a big promotion and was starting her first day of work in New York City. One of her friends had sent a note congratulating her on the promotion. She is a Christian and it was her intention to respond to the complement as she often does, “all things are possible through Christ”. But my friend fat-fingered the reply and what she actually typed out for the world to see was, “All thongs are possible through Christ.”
   I howled when I saw it and I'm hoping I won't burn in purgatory, but it really struck me funny. Obviously when she realized the error she apologized profusely, but anyone who knows her realizes that she would never have written that intentionally.
    When my friend Dale Short and I worked at The Community News back in the early 1970's, a prominent citizen passed away. The family called in the obit and the secretary took it down over the phone. The obit passed between several people before it made its way onto the printed page.
    When the obit came out on Wednesday, it read “John Doe assed away on November 2.” Dale, who was at the time, the youngest newspaper editor in the state of Alabama, went pale as a ghost when he read the snafu. I heard a guttural sound that came from somewhere deep inside and when it finally raked past his tongue came out as “OOOOHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
   I scrambled out of my chair knocking my wire in-basket off my desk and scattering papers all over my end of the office. When I stepped behind him, he pointed out the typo.
Just the the phone rang and we both jumped as if we'd be zapped with a cattle prod. I was the first to say – I'm not answering it, but it was obvious that Dale was in no hurry to answer it either. We both stared at the phone as if it were a coiled snake ready to strike at the first thing that moved.
   Just then we heard the receptionist breeze through the front door and race to the ringing phone before either Dale or I could warn her away. A moment later she chirped cheerfully, “Dale, Mrs. Doe on line one.”
   I looked at him with that deer in the headlights look but Dale, ever the professional picked up the and tentatively said hello. I was expecting him to start apologizing profusely, but after a few seconds he began to laugh almost hysterically. I thought to myself – he's snapped!
   As it turns out, Mrs. Doe wasn't angry at all. She said to Dale – “I know John could be a slacker at times but I really didn't the he assed away.” Both of us were grateful that she had a sense of humor and took the high road to the misprint. We could have hugged that woman's neck at that moment.
    So today, I'm reading this column several times to try and make sure there are no typos.

Thanks for your support everyone -- Also to vote for Phil Campbell 
Click Here  we have to vote until Monday. Thanks Everyone.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Censorship Stings

Something happened to me to day that's never happened before. The publisher for the paper that I've written for since 2006 (I think) rejected one of my columns. He said it was too racy for the newspaper reading public.
It was one of the funniest pieces I've ever written and it's about typos and how embarrassing they can be.
I saw a post on Facebook by a woman who'd recently gotten a really big promotion. She is a neat lady who happens to be a Christian. When one of her friends congratulated her on the promotion, she responded as she often does -- All things are possible through Christ....or at least that's what she intended to write. What she actually typed was all thongs are possible through Christ. 
Call it the devil in me, but that struck me funny and I laughed so hard I snorted coffee up my nose. There was another funny incident involving a typo that happened years ago and these two stories were the heart of my column. They were written in good taste and the point was how embarrassing typos can be.
The rejection bothered me more than it should have but rather than complain, I knocked out another column that wasn't nearly as good. 
Here's the deal -- I've built up a following in the place where I live. I feel I have a responsibility to the people who read my column. I would never intentionally write something that would jeopardize the equity I've earned with my readers. 
There are several other papers that I write for, and I have a feeling that one of them would love to run this column. I've decided to put it in my next book that will come out late this year or early next year.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Some Things Are Worth It

We kept our great nephew Jordan today and he showed up at 7:30 raring to go. Fortunately I got an early start on my column that was due today. 
I actually took the new laptop and worked while sitting on the screen porch. The early morning sun tinged the clouds and sky the color of orange sherbet. At one point a gust of wind hit the water oak and it dropped so many acorns that it sounded like hail on the metal roof
When Jordan arrived, work came to a screeching halt. Jilda had a morning yoga session with one of friends so he and I were left to our own devices.
We explored down around the barn for a while and then headed back up through the garden. I saw golden leaves as big as kites dropping from the top limbs of a poplar tree. They circled and flitted around like butterflies as they fell earthward. 
I challenged Jordan to catch one. I'd let the battery get low on my phone, or I'd have shot a video of him running around trying to catch leaves before they hit the ground. 
He doesn't give up easily and he kept at it until he caught a leaf with the tail of his sweatshirt. He took it back inside with him to show Jilda when she came home.
Taking the day off put me a little behind on my writing deadlines so I'll spend most of the day tomorrow tapping keys. But some things are worth it.

Phil Campbell update : They are still in first place with over 60 thousand votes, but there are still four days left in the contest so keep voting please.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Delayed Gratification

When I was working my day gig, I didn't know the meaning of delayed gratification because if I wanted something, I simply bought it.
Obviously I spent too much money, but I had a LOT of man toys. Chainsaws, garden tractors, tools, and other manly stuff.
That all came to a screeching halt when I became un-jobbed. All of a sudden, if I wanted something, I had to save up the money to buy it. It was a radical concept and one that I was not completely sure I liked.
It was a totally foreign concept to me. I didn't like it at first, but then I realized that when you don't have disposable cash burning a hole in your pocket, you can't afford to indulge in impulse buying.  All of a sudden you have to prioritize, make decisions, and buy only things you can afford. I'm not whining, because I think this is a good thing. 
Anyhow, as I've said before I was a IBM compatible/Windows man for years because that's the hardware/software that made it possible for me to work from home.
When I was no longer tethered to Windows, I bought an Apple Mac for my desk, but I still had a Windows laptop that I used when I traveled. 
Then a few months ago, Jilda's laptop died and I gave her my laptop thinking I no longer needed a laptop. As it turns out, the moment I gave her mine, I realized I used it much more that I thought.
I started then saving the money I earned on the side. I had my eye on a Macbook Pro. This week I had a couple windfall checks that came in which gave me the money I needed to pay cash for my new laptop.
I had interviews and photo shoots set up for today so in between appointments, I ran by the Apple Store and bought the Macbook.
I had to wait longer than normal today because the store was hopping with folks upgrading to the new iPhones. Still, within 15 minutes, I was headed to the truck with a smile on my face.
Tonight, instead of being tied to my desk, I'm sitting in the living room typing this update on the laptop.
There were times in the past when I didn't have to wait to buy things, and sometimes I experienced "buyers remorse" -- The feeling that creeps in shortly after a significant purchase -- ah man, did I really need this or could I have gotten a better deal on this if I'd shopped around.........
Today, I did not experience buyer's remorse. I did the research, I knew what I wanted, and I'd saved for months to buy it. 
I guess what I'm saying is that I've come to understand that delayed gratification is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


We walked early this morning before the sun had a chance to burn the dew off the grass. I started to head out in my shorts, but when I stepped out on the deck I quickly realized that would be unwise. I went back inside and put on my sweats. 
The dogs were ecstatic because this is their kind of weather. Even the old dogs that have problems breathing during the sweltering humid summer days, frolic like pups when the temps drop.
We haven't had much frost yet, but we've had scattered frost a time or two. Today as we walked, our breaths puffed like we were smoking Camels.
The sky was electric blue and there's one place at the back of our property where you can look off into the distance and it feels like you can see forever.
My days seem to flow better when we walk. I know there are times when we're slammed and we don't think we have time to get our morning exercise, but I've come to understand that smart people put first things first. Health should be near the top of the priority list. 
I have an interview tomorrow with a man from Birmingham that worked for many years in the secret service. He was in the motorcade when John Kennedy was assassinated.  It should be an interesting story.
Y'all have a great Wednesday and do yourself a favor, go for a walk. I plan to.

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required