Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Taxman Comith

I got caught up on all my writing assignments last week, and I knocked my column out for Sunday in record time.
I had no choice but to do the next high priority item on my list -- INCOME TAXES.
To be honest, I'd rather pass a kidney stone as to work on my taxes but I put my big boy boxers on and got to it.
I'm fairly organized throughout the year and my iPhone has helped because I have a business and milage expense tracker application that I've update religiously. 
Here's the thing -- there are three kinds of people in this world. Those who are good with numbers, and those who aren't.
Anyhow, I knocked a dent in the chore and I should be finished by tomorrow afternoon. That will be a ToDo item I can't wait to strike off the list.
I have a theory -- when you spend too much time crunching numbers, you do that at the expense of your creative juices.
I'm thankful I decided against becoming an accountant.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WWII Pilot Story

NOTE: I mentioned this story in a blog a few weeks ago and a number of people asked when it would be available. It's fairly long, but it's a fascinating story.

Fateful Day in France
 On December 7, 1941, Bill Massey sat with his family in front of an old wooden radio the size of a small china cabinet, listening to the tinny voice of a newscaster coming from the tweed-covered speakers: “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor.” It was a sobering time for America. And for Massey. “I knew that those words would change my life,” he says.

 He realized he'd soon be drafted into the military, so to ensure that he got into the Air Force he decided to volunteer. By August of 1942, he was an aviation cadet.

 America didn't really have much of an Air Force at the beginning of World War II, but within a few years it would become the mightiest flying armada in history. The Air Force didn't have enough instructors to train the number of pilots they needed, so they looked to Great Britain. Massey received his training from the Royal Air Force.

 After months of rigorous flight training in various types of aircraft, Massey received his orders for Europe, where he would be piloting a B-17 bomber.

 The Air Force played a key role in destroying enemy industry and infrastructure, but the costs were high. Massey recalls that, of the airmen sent on bombing missions, one in four didn't return.

 He flew four missions to Berlin in May of 1944. “That month was an all-out effort to convince the Germans that the jig was up,” he says.

 “We in the Air Force had two assignments—to neutralize the German air force so they couldn't attack allied troops on D-Day or protect any part of Germany, and to disrupt their manufacturing and transportation so the country couldn't turn out new war materials.”

 Massey and his 10-member crew flew two missions on D-Day. Their morning flight took them over Utah Beach, and in the afternoon they flew over Omaha Beach. “I had a bird's-eye view of the D-Day invasion,” he says.

 But the date that stands out in his mind as though it were yesterday is June 19, 1944.
It turned out to be a good news/bad news sort of day. The good news (although he didn't know it at the time) was that the Air Force had promoted him to captain. The bad news was that his crew, who was supposed to have the day off, would instead be flying a short-notice mission to cover for another crew whose pilot was sick.

 “We were about 30 minutes from our target in Bordeaux, France,” he recalls, “when we encountered anti-aircraft flak so thick that it actually turned day into night.” At that moment, a round hit his plane's hydraulic system and the cockpit quickly filled with acrid black smoke.

 The crew couldn't extinguish the fire, so Massey gave the order to bail out. But before he could snap his parachute to his harness, the oxygen tanks in the B-17 exploded and ripped the plane apart.

 “I found myself flying through the air at 26,000 feet, with my parachute pack in one hand,” he says. The temperature at that altitude is about 25 degrees below zero and the air is too thin to breathe.

  Massey kept desperately trying to secure the chute to his harness, but his hands were so numb and he was so weak from lack of oxygen that he couldn't make the clip fasten.

 “I remember thinking, 'Well, I guess this is it,'” he recalls now. But as he plummeted toward earth at more than 150 miles an hour, the air became warmer and thicker. He managed to use both hands to get one clip secured to the harness, but was still too weak to fasten the second one:

 “I knew I didn't have much time left, so I just pulled the ripcord and hoped for the best.”
When the partially attached parachute popped open, the jolt was so strong that his boots flew off his feet. He hit the ground, hard. But as his heart finally stopped hammering, he realized he wasn't seriously injured.

 With the help of local farmers, Massey found the two other members of his crew who had somehow survived the plane's explosion. The remaining seven men had died. “That was the hardest part for me,” Massey says. “We'd been together all through training, and they'd been with me on all 19 missions.”

 During the 76 days that followed, the survivors moved from place to place behind enemy lines, dodging patrols of German soldiers.

 But they had a stroke of good fortune where food was concerned. “The French had learned that the Germans wouldn't bother children,” he says, “so a little girl of about five would carry small amounts of food on her bicycle and leave it on the steps of the abandoned building we were hiding in.”

 Finally, a member of the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency) discovered the survivors and reunited them with invading American forces.

 It wasn't until Massey's debriefing that he learned of his promotion to captain. The interviewer assured him the paperwork would “catch up with” him, but it never did. He can only speculate, he says, that the process was interrupted when he was listed as having died in the crash of his plane.

 After the war, Massey sought out families of the lost crewmen. “I sat down with the mothers and fathers of my men and told them what happened on that day,” he says, choking back tears. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.”

 In 1961, Massey and his surviving crew members returned to France for a reunion with many of the villagers who had sheltered them from the Germans during the war. A group photograph he has of the occasion includes the young girl who brought them food—by then, a striking dark-haired young woman.

 Massey says he's proud of his service to America:
“War is bad, but the loss of freedom is even worse.”

Monday, February 27, 2012


I wrote a story about my lovely wife for the paper and it ran today.

 When most people think of yoga, they think of pretzels – or more specifically, they think of 20 year old gymnasts who contort their young nimble bodies into poses that resemble pretzels.

 But Jilda Watson who is a yoga therapist from Empire says that with a little instruction, most people can benefit from the practice of yoga, regardless of age. “I've worked with people who had bad backs, necks, knees and other health issues,” said Watson. “The trick is to identify the problem and then modify poses so that the student experiences the benefits.”

 There's a lot of misinformation about yoga according to Watson. Basically yoga is composed of breath work, movement (yoga postures) and relaxation.

 Yoga has been around for over six thousand years and there are many different kinds – everything from traditional yoga to yoga as a physical fitness. But Watson teaches a hybrid yoga for beginners and intermediates. “I understand the aging process, health issues, and physical constraints because all of these variables apply to me,” she said. “When you do yoga correctly, it helps the body to heal.”

 Watson has practiced yoga since the early 1970's but decided to become an instructor in 2005. She now works with Bradford Health Services in Warrior and has over 200 hours of registered yoga training (RYT). She is recognized by the Yoga Alliance as a certified yoga instructor.

 A few years ago, Bradford started a military program at their facilities. Soldiers (both men and women) from Iraq and Afghanistan began flowing through the program. “These folks come home with debilitating injuries, loss of limbs, anger, guilt, and depression,” she said. “I developed yoga classes that addresses their needs.”

 Many of the soldiers came home without visible scars but suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD has always affected those who've gone through battle, but not much was known about the condition until after Vietnam.

 Watson began to notice improvements in soldiers with PTSD after yoga sessions. She did research and discovered the Yoga Warrior Program developed by Lucy Cimini based on a study conducted by Air Force Major John Greuel on the effects of yoga on symptoms of combat stress in active duty military personnel.

 She earned certification in that field in 2011 and is currently the only certified Yoga Warrior instructor in Alabama. “The things I learned in this program helps not only the military, but anyone who suffers from PTSD.” People who survived the tornados in Alabama last year or victims of violence often experience PTSD according to Watson.

 In addition to her work at Bradford, Watson teaches a weekly class on Monday nights at 7 p.m. at the Sumiton Community Center. “I have a donation basket, but I don't want the lack of cash to stop people from coming to yoga,” she said.

 She always brings extra yoga mats for those who want to try it before they spend money on a mat. Watson also teaches private classes. You can contact her at or call her at 205-648-9952.

 Watson pointed out that Walker County has a number of great yoga instructors which makes it easy for anyone to find a class that fits their needs and schedule.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moss on Meditation Rock

The wind out of the northeast was chilly this morning but the clouds moved out overnight and the sky was blue as the eyes of a Swede.
I put on my trusty fleece shirt, loosed the dogs and walked. The dogs love this weather. We were dog sitting for my niece. Lady looks like an Airedale. She's a mixed breed and her two brothers are short legged Beagle looking mutts, but Lady is as big as Caillou and she runs like a Greyhound. She spends most of her life in an invisible fence, so she was happy to be running with our dogs.
I don't always walk to Meditation Rock. The walk down there is easy because you have gravity working for you, but coming back is a different story -- 300 yards uphill.
The rain over the past few months has not been good for fishing, but the moss on Meditation Rock is thriving.
I love this place, because you rarely hear a manmade sound while you're there. You might hear doves, blue jays, crows, deer, or the wind blowing through the oak and pine, but these sounds are more like music to me.
Now that the weather is moderating, I plan to spend more time there and see if I can't find my balance again.
I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Don't Let Life Pass Us By

I'd gotten behind on my writing commitments this week so I spent the day catching up. Tonight as I sat down to do an update, ideas eluded me. So borrowed a page out of my lovely spouse's book. I looked for good quotes on life and the first one that jumped out at me seemed to fit me right now.
“Every moment you get is a gift. Spend it on things that matter. Don’t spend it by dwelling on unhappy things.”  - Celestine Chua
I think we can all agree, that it's easy to dwell on unhappy things. After all, if we live long enough, unhappy things happen to us all.
It's part of the ebb and flow, but it seems some folks can't seem to hit PAUSE, or even better ERASE when it comes to in thinking about unhappy things. They STOP, REWIND, AND PLAY those scenes over and over.
But Celestine had it right. Every moment we get is a gift -- a chance to experience something truly extraordinary. But if we dwell on the unhappy things, the gift will pass us by. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bad Uncle

You can call me a bad uncle if you like but I love tormenting my young great nieces and nephews. It's one of the perks of getting older.
I have a seven year-old great niece named Zoe who is a scream. Zoe's mom is my sister's oldest child, and she wouldn't have anything to do with me until she was probably eight.
I adore Zoe, and Zoe adores me, and she has ever since she was very young
But Zoe is on a kick to prove, once and for all, that girls are smarter than boys.
She's probably right in a lot of ways, but that wouldn't have been any fun, so I challenged her. 
She asked me a bunch of math questions and I answered them all with the help of the calculator on my iPhone. The trick was to not let her see me using the calculator.
After she gave me a round of questions, I asked if it was my turn to ask "the girls" questions.
She reluctantly agreed. I promptly asked here some unanswerable questions like -- How far is up?
-- Did you walk to school or carry your lunch?
-- If something was traveling sooooo fast it couldn't be stopped, and hit something soooooo hard it couldn't be moved, what would happen?
She puzzled for a long time over these challenges. She slipped into the kitchen to ask her mom, but found no help. She was left to sort through the maze by herself. 
I could see that little brain churning, weighing the questions and trying to assign values to things. Evaluating, reasoning, and making assumptions. She's not a quitter, but after I let her think about the questions for a long time, I let her in on my prank. 
She looked at me with that - CHEATER, CHEATER, PANTS ON FIRE look. I felt a little bad, but I hugged her and told her I was proud of her for trying to solve the problems.
She acted like she was mad at me for a few minutes, but that didn't last long.
I shot this series of photos with my iPhone before I left. 
It occurred to me on the way home that I won't be able to fool this child much longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

World Keeps Spinning Around

Jilda and I wrote a song many years ago about the senselessness of war and injustice. The title is The World Keeps Spinning Around.  
I know it's kind of a heavy topic for Thursday evening, but sitting here tonight it occured to me that we could keep the title and change the lyrics, and they would apply to many situations.
Whether you've just won the national championship, hit the lottery, lost your job, or lost your mother, the world keeps spinning around.
Grasping this simple truth can be sad, but it can also is hopeful.  In one sense, how do things keep moving right along after losing someone you love. But in another sense, there's comfort in knowing that things will not always remain the same -- the world keeps spinning around.
I feel badly that all my posts the past week have been about navigating through rough shoals of my life, but then the title is Life 101. 
I've experienced a great deal of joy and happiness in my life. It would be easy to think that maybe I've had too much good fortune. 
I choose to believe that there's a great deal of joy to be had by everyone, but sometimes we don't recognize and/or acknowledge it. 
But to experience joy, there is a price. The price is that sometimes things happen in your life that make you sad. I know it's a cliche, but I think it's true that you can't enjoy the highs, if you've never been low.
This much I know is true, whether I'm right or wrong,  the world keeps spinning around.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feeling Small

It's been a grueling evening, but as we drove into the yard a couple deer scampered around the side of the house and toward the barn. They'd been eating birdseed by the feeders.
I realized with all that's been going on the last few days, that I hadn't left corn for them this evening.
So after we went inside, I grabbed a flashlight and headed to the shed to get a scoop of corn.
I heard an owl off in the distance and saw a plane winking across the night sky.  Caillou (our collie) hustled out the gate and darted off in the darkness after a rabbit or some other night critter.
I dumped most of the corn on the ground and then rattled the a little in the bottom of the plastic container to send a signal to the deer that it's time to eat.
There was no moonlight tonight, so I stood the middle of the field and looked into the night sky. It took me a second to get my bearings but soon my internal gps synced up.
Looking at the sky at night often makes me feel small. Especially when you consider that the light I saw tonight could be from stars that burned out thousands of years ago.
But I find looking at the stars comforting. There's alway something primal, yet familiar in the night sky, and tonight it was just what I needed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

I know you might not believe this, but even though I'm only about five hours away from New Orleans, I've never been to Marti Gras. I know -- how lame is that?
Jilda and I spent the better part of 1980 in Mobile (which is less that 2 hours away) after Hurricane Fredrick, but we didn't go down until the first of April, and we left in January before Marti Gras began. 
I was in Panama 1n 1972-73 during Carnival which is what they call Marti Gras in Central and South America. It was quite an experience especially in a place where language and culture are so different.
The food was good there. The pageantry and costumes were incredible. Even poor kids who had little money for masks or costumes, painted their faces like devils and demons. 
They menaced Carnival revelers with whips made of string and they only way you could "scare them away" was with candy or spare change. 
The music, though unfamiliar, was rhythmic and intoxicating. I went with my friends from the Army base and we soaked it all in like our hometown state fairs.
Sitting here typing these words, I realized I'd left something off my Bucket List. It is my intention for Jilda and I to go and experience Marti Gras. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mama's Gone

I have so much to say tonight, but the words won't come. In the past, even under duress, with impending deadlines, and being wound up tighter than a fiddle string I've been able to write flowing sentences that describe what I've done, what I've seen or what I feel. But tonight I'm just numb.
We all knew this day would come and no matter how hard I've tried to convince myself that I was ready, when my mama drew her last breath, I realized that I was not.
In the coming days when my mind has a chance to assimilate, I will write something a little more cohesive, but tonight I'm going to try to rest.
Thanks to you all for your kind words through this.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

While We Were Away

The dogs are feeling the stress of us being gone so much. They are constantly under food the moment we get home.
In the past it was only our little dog Buddy that had his way with the tissue in our bathroom wastebaskets when we'd been away for extended periods of time, but this week our collie Caillou has been dragging the pillows and throw covers from the couch and love seat and scattering them throughout the house.
When things settle down, I'll spend some quality face-snout time with them to help set things right. The days will soon become warmer....maybe we could all go fishing.

Lost and Found

It's been a long day but mama is hanging tough. A crew of grandkids and great grandkids came drifted in and out today.  In a day that had all the makings for a very sad and depressing, something remarkable happened.
Mother's sister-in-law Myrtle who is 81 and still works at the local thrift store came over to sit with us. She's done this every day that she's been off this week.
Myrtle is Jilda's favorite aunt from mother's side of the family because she has always been so kind to us.
A few days ago, Myrtle saw me fiddling with my iPhone and asked me if I could find the words to an old song that her husband (my mother's younger brother who is now deceased) used to sing.
I said let's give it a try. So she gave me a few of the lyrics to the song and I keyed them in the search window and a few seconds later a YouTube video of someone doing the song was playing on the screen.
She was delighted and said, you know, I think I need one of those smart phones.
Tonight as we all sat around she leaned over and asked if I could find a missing person with my iPhone.
Again, I said let's give it a try. Her brother died young of a heart attack and her sister-in-law had taken the children and moved to Oklahoma and then somewhere in Kansas.
She had not seen the nephews in 35 years but she always wonder about them and she lost touch with the sister-in-law.
I asked her for the name of her nephews. I called up the White Page app on my iPhone and keyed in the name and typed in Kansas. I asked her what city and she didn't know but said try Kansas City.
I typed it in and hit search and bang - one entry for the name popped up.
She gasped when I showed her the name and number. She said - I wonder if that's him?  I said, one way to find out so I touched the number on the screen and a second later the phone was ringing.
A man on the other end answered on the second ring and I asked if his name was Craig. He said it was and I asked him if his dad's name was Johnny. He said yes, but he's dead. I told Craig I had someone who wanted to talk to him and handed the phone to Aunt Myrtle.
A few minutes later it was obvious that she was talking to her long lost nephew. What's even more remarkable is the he didn't know the names of his grandparents on his father's side of the family or  know that he had living aunts and uncles. He was thrilled!
For a few moments, everyone in the room with us felt a little giddy. Aunt Myrtle found long lost nephews, and a long lost nephew got linked to a family that he did not know existed.
When Myrtle hung up the phone she stood crying with joy and hugged my neck. God had to have had a hand in that she said. After replaying the scenario in my head, I had to agree.

(I'm so tired I'm not proofing this, so please look over typos :))

Friday, February 17, 2012

It Is Our Nature

I've been in a bit of a daze this week with one day bleeding into the other. When someone asks me a question I say well yesterday......or maybe it was the day's hard to say.
One thing I can say is the outpouring of love and kindness has been humbling. 
Jilda sent an email out yesterday......or was it the day a bunch of our friends who live out of town and I got an email from a friend who lost both his parents recently. Both of them, like my mom, were in their late 80s/early 90s. 
He said a friend sent him a quote that seemed to help him with the loss of his mom and dad.
I think it was the Buddha who said (and I'm paraphrasing here)

It is our nature to grow old
It is our nature to grow sick
It is our nature to die

I've thought about these words a great deal these past few days. No matter how badly we want to hold on to those we love for as long as we can; there comes a time when holding on is no longer possible.
So then we must come to grips with how to say goodbye. I think the answer is different for every one.
Our sister-in-law lost her sister this week to cancer. Her sister had grown children who were too busy to spend any time with their dying mother. But now that she's gone, they are struggling with how to say goodbye. I'm guessing the sons are feeling some remorse, but I'll leave them to wrestle with that.
I take comfort in the fact that my sisters and I have tried our best to do right by my mom.  As always, there is always more I/we could have done, but for the most part I think the Olympic Judges would give us a 8.2 or maybe 8.5, but they always take off a little for style or timing when it's not perfect.
I hope you all have a great weekend. I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apple Pie

My mom's resting comfortably tonight and I'm thankful for that. I went in this evening to do the night shift, but one of my nieces from South Carolina came home to help out and she insisted on staying tonight, so I came home to rest.
It's an interesting phenomena, but around here we tend to tell funny stories about people who have died or are dying. 
Things they've done, said, or stood for. I guess it's a way of dealing with the loss. 
Jilda has a funny story about my mom that always makes me smile. My mom cooked treats. Cakes, pies, candy, all the stuff we love but are not supposed to eat that often.
She used to make what she called apple diaper pies. They had a crust that was almost like a croissant, filled with apple filling and the bottom was kind of sticky/gooey. 
For years Jilda asked her for the recipe, but mama would never tell her how to make them.
Then after years of persistence, mama relented. 
The recipe contained barrels of sugar, buckets or butter, and good helping of lard along with the dough, apples, and other secret stuff.
Mama told her as she wrote down the ingredients the reasons she wouldn't divulge the recipe was because we've always been fairly health conscience and she feared we would never eat her pies that was going to happen.
We are of the school of thought that says everything is fine as long as you do it in moderation.
I'd love to have one of those pies right now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Target

My weekly column for the paper is due tomorrow and I've struggled with a topic.  I could write about my mom, but I'd rather wait a little to see how things go.

So I ended up writing about not having anything to write about. That's alway good for 500 words or so, especially if I can toss in a little humor by pointing out some of the goofy things I've done in the past.

I try to keep the butt end of my jokes and humor pointed towards me which is advantageous since I'm such an easy target.

I'll share the column next Monday after it runs.

I have the night shift tonight, so I'm posting early. I hope you all have a great evening.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I appreciate all the kind, supportive comments from last night. Today is a bit of a blur. Our family made the decision to engage hospice for my mom today. They do a good job managing the end game.
What tilted the scale for me was when my mom turned to me early this morning in a spasm of pain that I can't begin to imagine, said I'm dying. After a brief conference with my sisters, we all agreed that we should not let our mom suffer.  She's on morphine now and she's been resting.
I downloaded Elvis singing Amazing Grace on my iPhone. I put it on loop and put the phone on her shoulder. Leave it to Elvis to help ease the pain.
Back in 2000 my brother who was 34 at the time had made a lot of bad life decisions and the end results was that he ended up in Omega House (indigent hospice care) in Houston, Texas.
Jilda and I flew out to see if there was anything we could do. In talking with the people there, I felt I was in the presence of beings vibrating on a higher level than most of us.
My brother was cared for, coddled, and loved by people who didn't judge him by the life choices he'd made, but by what he needed to make the best of the life he had left.
I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the kindness of those people.
Jilda and I took the guitar and sang a few songs for the people there. It wasn't much, but they seemed to enjoy it.
I'm hoping the antibiotics do their magic and my mom is back to her sassy self, but only time will tell.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I've been at the nursing home a great deal today. My mom has pneumonia and has had a hard time. I stayed with her until a while ago and I left her resting.
I'll head back out there tomorrow morning and hopefully the meds will have worked their magic. 
Tonight, I'm a little drained. I'll do better on the blog tomorrow.
As my spouse says, good night, sweet dreams.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Box Fan

The power went off last night about 3 a.m. No apparent reason, I guess the electrons just go tired of zooming down the country lanes at close to the speed of light so they stopped.

I know this because we sleep with a box fan by the bed and when the blades stopped turning, I woke up.

People ask me why we sleep with a box fan year around. To explain, I'd have to go back a ways.

We moved to where we now live in 1980 
from the small town of Sumiton. Even though the town was small, you could hear the drone of traffic from highway 78 and it never stopped.

Tractor trailer trucks moving freight from Memphis and points further west, blew through Sumiton on their way to Birmingham, Atlanta, and points east. 

Deep into the night you could hear them through the thin walls of our mobile home, slowing down at the red light on the highway and then crawling back up to cruising speed one gear at a time....allllllll nighttttttt looooooong.   

We bought us a box fan and turned it on low. The fan was the perfect solution. It ran spring, summer, fall, and winter. The gentle whir of the fan drown out the sound of the trucks. 

When we moved to the country, we didn't have to contend with the sound of the trucks, but it was so quite here that you could hear owls, coyotes, dogs and roosters in a crowing 
allllllll nighttttttt looooooong.

Since we'd become accustomed to that gentle whirring sound of the fan, we used it here too. When we travel, we have a travel fan that we take with us.

This morning when the power went off, my eyes opened immediately when the blades stopped turning.

I slipped out of bed and using my iPhone for a flashlight, I went into the office to report the outage. Less than an hour later, we heard that familiar sound. 

I was asleep before I made a mental note of the time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stand a little rain

Today's been a sad day. Jilda and I attended the funeral of our friend Carl who lost his only son in a car wreck this week. Adam was only 25. 
When Adam was about 12, his dad asked if I'd give him a few guitar lessons. I love teaching kids how to play so I stayed after work and taught him some chords and a few songs. He was very intelligent, and quickly learned what I had to teach.

Today when we talked to Carl, the anguish on his face was painful to see. I had no words, so both Jilda and I hugged him for a long time.

This afternoon, I checked my email and I got another piece of bad news.

I did a story last month that ran in
The Homewood Star  about a couple that had been married for 71 years. 
The story ran in the February edition to coincide with Valentines Day. The email I got was from Jake and Margaret's grand daughter who said that Jake passed away today.
Margaret and Jake Monte

She thanked me for the story saying that it made them both very happy, but h
er note made me very sad.
If life were all "highs" you'd begin to take if for granted. For every yin, there is a yang.
Donnie Lowery, a songwriter we met years ago wrote a song for The Oakridge Boys called --
If we're ever going to see a rainbow, we have stand a little rain.
Well I guess you could say, it rained a little today.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I've tapped the letters off my keyboard, but nothing's appeared on my screen. You'd think that with all the advances in data modeling, graphic design, search algorithms, and crowd sourcing that it could grasp that I'm struggling and come up with a decent title and opening paragraph or two. 
But either that functionality has not trickled down to the masses or else it's a software add on that costs more than a new Lincoln Town Car.
At any rate, here I am on Friday night and I can't get a spark of an idea with a Zippo full of lighter fluid and a fresh flint.
Jilda waltzed in typed for a few minutes, clapped her laptop closed, and said over her shoulder as she drifted out of the office -- I posted. 
I wanted to smack her....but unfortunately all the dogs adore her and would eat me like a milk bone if I laid a hand on her.
So, my dear readers, this is the best I can do tonight. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Life is Short

I went into the office for a staff meeting today. My boss asked if I'd like to go to a luncheon at The Club after the meeting. It's a private club in Birmingham perched on the crest of Red Mountain and it's visible when you're driving into the city from the north, east, or west.

It's been years since I've been to The Club, so a visit to the top of the city on a beautiful day 
sounded just fine to me.

A lot of times when you go to these functions, the food is only slightly better than what's served in prisions, and those belly up to the bar all-you-can-eat places. But the food at The Club tasted good to me today. 

They have orange rolls that were very good. There were a couple of empty chairs at our table and I was tempted to put the orange rolls in my pocket and take them home to Jilda, but I had several afternoon appointments so I left them on the table.

I know I probably looked like a hillbilly (there's that word again) that doesn't get out a lot, but I walked out on the patio and shot this self portrait with the city in the background.

I couldn't care less what someone thought because I've become shameless when trying to get a good photo for my blog. 

It's funny, because I've reached a point in my life where I don't spend much time worrying what people think about me. That has not always been the case, but the older I get, the less I care.

Life is too short to pass up the good stuff because you're afraid of what someone might think.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Stupid is as stupid does

A good friend just posted a photo and a quote by John Wayne who said Life is hard, but it's harder if your stupid.

As my grandma used to say, that's puttin' the hay down where the goats can get it. Translated to modern, non-hillbilly terms -- Wow! John used accessible language, to say something true and quite profound.

The thing is, I'm living proof of the truth of this quote. I'm not always stupid, but when viewing some of the boneheaded things I've done in the past through the lens of experience, I would be hard pressed to deny the shoe fit.

I think the trick is this -- when you do something stupid, fess up. Own it. Only someone who is chronically stupid would deny they did something stupid, knowing that all the smart people know they not only did something stupid, but behaved stupidly afterwards by denying it.
Does that make sense?

When you take responsibility, you grow. And if a similar situation comes your way again, you have the opportunity to behave differently.

As Forrest Gump says --
Stupid is as stupid does. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

VD Advice

Jilda's Valentine's gift came by mail today and I'm 100% sure that she will love it. I stopped playing the percentages years ago. Life is too short to eat Kibbles and Bits.

I latched onto a method of getting her gifts that is failsafe. I hand her my American Express card and tell her to buy something she really wants.

Some guys might think this is playing loosey-goosey with my plastic, but we have rule. She spends on me what I spend on her.

So she knows if she goes over board on herself, she might have to work overtime to earn enough dough to buy my gift. I'm telling you it's genius.

If any guys are reading this blog before Valentines Day you should know umbrellas or any kind of kitchen appliance is not an appropriate Valentines Day gift. I'd steer clear of gym memberships, and weight loss gift certificates too. That screams HONEY I'D LOVE YOU MORE IF YOU DROPPED 20 POUNDS. If you do these things, you're dancing with the devil. This is experience talking here. 

Now the only thing left is to find a really cool card. I've spoiled my spouse a little because for years when I worked a day gig, I had a little place near where I worked that had killer cards.

But apparently not enough people shopped there so they went out of business. So this year I'm on a quest to find a card you can't buy at Walmart. I need one that says, "Honey, you're the reason I breathe."

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Monday, February 06, 2012

When You're Tired

Today was a long day. I could go into details, but I'd bore you to tears, much like I bored Jilda on the way home from yoga tonight.

We learned when we took her Volvo in for servicing this past week that the head gasket was leaking just a little which caused the engine to leak a little oil and water. I told her we'd need to take it in soon for repairs.

She was whupped but to keep the conversation alive, she asked what replacing the head gasket entailed.

As I drove I went into detail about how they'd have to remove the head and send it to a machine shop and the machinist would then shave a little off the head to make sure it was perfectly flat so that they new gasket wouldn't leak when it was installed.

I glanced over and the lights from the dash cast just enough greenish light to make her look like an alien. 

As I droned on she yawned. I'm not talking about one of those quick yawns where she covers her mouth with her hand to keep from being rude, but a yawn so big that you could almost hear her jaw muscles stretching. 

I'm guessing the words were sliding through one ear and out the other. If I'd leaned over and blown in her ear, I'm sure it would have whistled.

I said to her, so I guess you'd rather not hear about the fuel system and the hydraulics tonight. She laughed so hard that she snorted, and so did I.
We do that sometimes when we're really tired.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Fun Sunday

Our friend Randall lives in Oregon but he's here in Alabama now because his dad has had health issues.
He flew here in a hurry so he doesn't have wheels.
Earlier this week he asked if we'd like to go to Daniel Day Gallery for the blues show they have every Sunday. I could almost hear the desperation in his voice.
The show started earlier today because of the Super Bowl, so we picked him up at noon:30. His mom, who is one of our dearest friends, sent a packet of corn chowder with him as "payment for babysitting this afternoon."  We howled when he gave us the gift bag.
The Blue Devils rocked the place for hours. On the way out, I used the trusty iPhone to do this series of photos to capture the moment. It was a fun afternoon and I'm so glad we went.
Tonight, I watched the Super Bowl, more for the ads than the game, but I wasn't disappointed.
My favorite ad was the one that featured Clint Eastwood. It was a Chrysler ad, but I loved the message.
Here's the YouTube of the commercial. Y'all have a great week.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Smart Cookie Award

 Thanks to Julia over at My Writing Life for the Smart Cookie Award.
I think an award for slamming down cookies might be more appropriate :)
But thanks Julia. 
I'm going to give one of these awards to my lovely spouse Jilda at Transformation Information because she consistently writes very thought provoking blog entries.
She also bakes great cookies.
Also one to my friend Charles Kinnaird at Not Dark Yet because of his thought provoking posts.

I'm also supposed to write some interesting facts on anything, so here goes:

1. Albert Enstein's parents were worried that he was mentally too slow because he took a long time to learn how to speak.

2. 150 couples get married in Las Vegas each day.

3. 22% of people skip lunch daily.

4. A fire in Australia has been burning for more than 5,000 years!

5. Coca cola would be green if coloring wasn't added to it.

From Wacky Facts

Friday, February 03, 2012


We played a singer/songwriter gig last night at Daniel Day Gallery and we didn't get home until late. It was well after midnight before I got to bed and that's way past my bedtime. So I've spent much of the day yawning. 
Jilda worked today, so I ran down to the Chinese restaurant to pick up some moo goo gai pan, hot & sour soup for supper. I called ahead but they were swamped, so I sat on a bench and yawned. 
I looked over at a lady at the end of the bench and she was yawning too. We both laughed out loud.
Seems she has a son who was badly burned and she's been at the hospital for days. She'd stopped by the restaurant to get something so she wouldn't have to cook. When they called her number, I wished them well.
I'm sit here trying to think of something clever to say, but my head feels like a stale block of hoop cheese. 
Maybe I'll have better ideas tomorrow after a good nights sleep. 
Y'all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


I love creativity. It manifests itself in so many ways -- music, painting, photography, design, electronics, and chainsaw art.
I stopped in the local grocery store yesterday to get a roasted chicken for dinner and I saw this huge bear in the bed of a truck. I swung around the parking lot to get a  better view and I was amazed.
This guy was from WAY up in the country, and he does chainsaw art.
I asked if he minded me taking a picture and he agreed, but he didn't look too happy when I asked him to stand by his truck.
When you look at the detail of these carvings, it's hard to imagine they were carved out of a single piece of wood with a screaming chainsaw.
I think I'm going to call him up and interview him....maybe shoot some video of him carving something out of a tree trunk.
As I said, I love creativity.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Power of Words

I was looking for a little inspiration tonight as I struggled with a topic for this blog. I picked up a journal from 1992 and read an entry I wrote long before blogging (as we know it) existed.
I wrote -- I want to take pictures, play music, and write stories about interesting people. At the time, I was a night shift supervisor in a data center and at times I felt like a ship lost at sea without engine, compass,  or rudder.
I was trapped by the security of my job. We had bills to pay and I needed a steady paycheck. We'd built a new house a few years before,  and I wanted to go back to college for my Masters degree, but I felt that was a pipe dream without a steady job with a regular paycheck. But that didn't stop me from writing those words in my journal.
I laughed out loud as I read those words tonight. Because today, I shot photographs today of high school kids who'd received sports scholarships to colleges around the country. 
This afternoon, I interviewed a man who played football on a University of Alabama team that won two national championships. He got a great job after college, got married, had kids, then lost it all when he got strung out on pain meds after problems with kidney stones.
He was homeless for a few years -- he pawned his college national championship rings to buy drugs.
I don't want to say too much right now, because the story has not been published, but he did turn his life around and his story is nothing less than remarkable.
Tonight, Jilda and I are finalizing our set list for our gig tomorrow night.
So maybe you can see why I smiled when I read the entry from 1992 -- I want to take pictures, play music, and write stories about interesting people.
I think I can say with some authority that words have power. Even if you don't see any way possible that you can make something happen in your life, write down what you want.
I'm living proof, that it pays off.

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