Thursday, May 31, 2012

Storm Clouds Rising

I can't hear thunder yet, but I know it's near. The dogs are on my feet and under my desk. I stepped out on the back deck to get an analog weather report. The moon looked as if it were wearing a vail.
Lower level clouds were sweeping across the sky like wild game fleeing a wildfire.
The weatherman says we shouldn't have nasty weather and I choose to believe him.
I added the picture to the right for no particular reason other than, I want to add more pictures to my blog.
This one I shot a few evenings ago and I used the Oil Painting feature on Photoshop to dress it up a little.
I hope you all have a remarkable Friday, and weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In the news

I read where Justin Bieber is wanted for questioning for roughing up a photographer who was trying to shoot some pictures of the teeny bopper star.
OK, I realize the photographer is getting his ducks in a row to sue Bieber, but would you want to go on record admitting Justin Bieber kicked your butt? I have a seven year-old great-niece that could spank Bieber and not break a sweat.
Please! I'd rather have a drunken dentist with a dull bit do a root canal without Novocain than ever admit that I'd been "roughed up" by kid that probably won't be shaving for another three years.
Come on photographer guy, man up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Peace in the Garden

I guess you could call me garden person. For as long as I can remember I've spent time in gardens. Even when I was a kid, I enjoyed walking barefoot down garden rows, picking tomatoes, corn, or the many other vegetables we grew.
A lot of the other kids would whine each time their parents had them work in the fields, but I never did. I wasn't fond of hoeing or cutting okra (because it stung), but I did it.
When I married Jilda and moved into our 12 x 60 foot house trailer, we didn't have air conditioning, or a lot of other stuff, but we had a garden out back. It's something we both enjoy and we've always had one.
All our friends know this and many make a habit of visiting us at harvest time because Jilda is a double threat. Not only can she grow food, she can cook it too.
But many of the gifts we've received through the years for Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions have been garden stuff. Birdbaths, sundials, figurines, or other stuff that goes well with our garden.
This past winter, I had the notion to do some garden stepping stones. I looked online and found a source for molds. I bought several, and they've been sitting in my tool shed all winter awaiting warmer weather.
This week, I started pouring some decorative stones.
I've made two Peace garden stones and two Celtic Knot stones. I put the Peace stones out today and shot this photo.
Now I can say that we have peace in our garden :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Restless Spirits ~ My Column from Sunday

This week I've spent time at Davis Cemetery, where my folks are buried. Decoration is the second Sunday in June, and it takes a while to get the old cemetery in shape.

It's a peaceful place most of the time. My mom, dad and brothers are buried at the top of the hill, close to the service road that encircles the graveyard. I was there one evening this week, sitting on the tailgate of my truck, giving them updates about what's happening in my life.

I sat there for a while in silence, listening to the pines whispering to the wind and the sound of birds getting ready to turn in for the evening. 

Off in the distance, I heard a freight train blowing as it approached Burnwell and Bergen, warning drivers to approach the crossings with care.

The sound of trains moving eastward and westward makes this a perfect place for my dad and my brothers, all of whom had an undercurrent of restlessness coursing through their souls. 

In our younger days, whenever I went anywhere with my older brother Neil, he always walked quickly like he had an appointment with destiny and he was running late. 

Later when he graduated from high school, he moved up north for a time to put some distance between himself and the hills and the hollows of Walker County. 

He later moved to California to see if he could find what he was looking for out there but ended up moving back here, where he married and raised a family. He seemed happy and he loved his kids, but he died young at 50 years old, and I'm not sure if he ever found what he was looking for.

My younger brother Darren seemed even more restless than Neil. He left home soon after high school and moved to Birmingham, Atlanta and later to Houston, Texas. He also died too young at the age of 33.

My dad seemed more restless than either of my brothers. He spent very little time at home. On weekends he'd be on the Warrior, or he'd be driving around Walker County in his pickup visiting with his old friends. 

It was hard for him to sit still for any length of time. He always seemed to be searching, though he never said why.

Even though this next part happened over 55 years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday.

It was late one evening after the sun had slipped below the horizon to the west. We'd finished supper and he went out to the front porch to sip the last of his ice tea and smoke a coffin-nail, as he called them. 

As he sat, the chains of the old wooden swing creaked and groaned. I crawled up into his lap to watch the lightening bug show that had just gotten underway. Off in the distance we heard the sound of an old freight train blowing for the crossing at Dora, and it chugged down a notch to change gears, but to me it sounded like it was taking a breath.

He said “Joe Ab,” (don't ask me why he called me that) “I'm gonna ride that train one of these days.”

I was too young then to realize how deep that seam of restlessness ran through his soul, but looking back, I get a sense of just how much he longed to be somewhere else at times.

Neither Dad nor my brothers ever had an opportunity to travel that much in their lifetimes. My prayer, as I sat on the tailgate of my pickup, was that they are now wandering the universe like hobos.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Work Arounds

I've had some success fixing things over the last month. As reported earlier, I fixed the riding lawnmower,  and we picked up Ingrid (Jilda's Volvo) yesterday. But sadly, the tiller is still broken.
I know what it will take to fix it but I'm waiting on the shipment of a special tool required to pull one of the bushings out. Now I realize there are people out there who care less than zero about mechanical things, but suffice it to say that without the tiller, we're having to go to plan B on the garden.
We planted tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, and watermelons. Normally I would used the tiller to keep the area around the new plants tilled which minimizes weeds. So this morning before the sun got hot as the devil's skillet, I laid out reams of old newspaper around the plants, and then covered the papers with leaves that I'd piled up for composting.
It's not a pretty as it normally is at this time of year, but the plants won't be competing for water and nutrients. 
I'm hoping the tool comes in Tuesday and I can get the tiller back in service.
I shot this picture of one of the flowers on our back deck and then had my way with it using Photoshop.
You have to click on it to get the full effect.
I hope you all have a great Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Southern Heaven

The humidity was thick enough to lick today here in Empire, Alabama. We walked early, but it was soon evident that we didn't walk early enough.
We did notice on our stroll as we huffed and puffed up the hill, that the blackberries are beginning to come in.
When we got back to the house and hydrated, I got the blueberry basket and headed back down behind the barn.
This is the first wave of berries. In the next few weeks, these bushes will weave their way through the underbrush and into the surrounding pine and sumac bushes.
Novice blackberry pickers don't know to look more deeply into the thicket for the choice berries.
They are not easy to find, and to get to them, one normally looks as if they've battled a bobcat protecting their young. But it's worth it.
The berries are often as big as your thumb and sweet as tart honey.
I got about a quart this morning and they were quite good.
This evening, Jilda did her berry magic and whipped up a blackberry cobbler pie.
We grilled fresh squash, cucumbers, onions, and corn on the cob. She'd baked a chicken for supper. We put on some classical music and ate in silence.......if you didn't count the grunts and the occasional "dang, this is good" comments.
For desert, she cut us each a piece of the blackberry cobbler which was still warm from the oven. She put on a few scoops of Briars Vanilla ice cream, and instantly I was transported into southern heaven.
It's not for wimps. You have to learn to deal with the humidity, but to me, the rewards are worth it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Don't Panic

Today was Towel Day across the world. Those who have never read Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy probably didn't get it. But I smiled when I read the headline this morning.
Douglas Adams wrote a bunch of the funniest books I have ever read. The first one I ever read was the Hitchhiker's Guide. And a towel plays a significant role in the plot of this book. Also, some profound advice in the "Guide" for intergalactic travelers who encounter problematic situations -- Don't Panic.
His wit and creativity was so remarkable. He's one of the reasons I wanted to write.
He once said: "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." 
I've thought this many times, but the words never came to my tongue.
Douglas died on May 25, 2001. In my opinion, the world lost something remarkable.
If you enjoying smiling, I highly recommend his books. Be sure to start out with Hitchhiker's Guide to the  Galaxy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I'm allergic to strawberries, or at least that's what I've believed for years. Each time I ate them in the past, my mouth would break out and it seemed to move to my stomach. So I avoided them like the pox.
Then Jilda read something in one of her women's magazines that said that the pesticides that are commonly used on strawberries that might have been the culprit.
I planted strawberries in one of our containers this spring. I thought, what the heck? I'll eat a few and if my mouth breaks out, I'll feed them to the birds.
Ast it turns out, the article was right. I've eaten a ton of strawberries so far and I haven't had the first issue.
Dang, if I'd know this, I'd have been growing my own strawberries the whole time.
Every day is a school day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Get out of jail free

I have a brutal headache tonight so I'm going to use one of my get out of jail free cards tonight.
I'll do a better job tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mama's Love of Baseball ~ Column from Sunday's Paper

I was flipping through our stack of movies today looking for something to watch tonight during dinner. A movie that had been hidden from view behind a stack fell off the shelf and hit the top of my foot. 

When I picked it up, I saw that it was “For the Love of the Game.” The movie stars Kevin Costner and is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. It's a movie about baseball, and it made me think of my mom because she loved baseball too. 

We both fell in love with the game when I played Little League. There's something about a baseball diamond in spring. It's as flat as a mirror, with chalk lines that make the infield look like a dusty piece of pie.

Even now when I close my eyes, I can conjure up the scent of my old leather glove and hear the bark of a bat against a fastball. Closely knit in my memory is the aroma of popcorn and parched peanuts wafting from the concession stand. I can feel the warm summer sun on my face and hear the scratching click of my cleats on concrete. 

Our uniforms were made of creme-colored flannel and had red ribbon-looking stripes about as wide as my little finger down the front and around the sleeves. Our socks were red with white stripes.

Every baseball field we ever played on was scratched out of red clay. And since baseball players spend a lot of time diving and sliding on the ground, we all looked at the end of each game as if we'd been mining iron ore.

But every time I set foot on the diamond, my uniform was as clean as new. It did take a while to convince my mom that a baseball uniform didn't really have to be starched. 

Mama never missed a home game, and she was very vocal in her support. One time when I was batting, a pitcher for the opposing team threw a curveball that whacked me on the ear. 

When Mama heard the whack of that ball on my helmet, she came off the bleachers and was ready to whip the opposing coach, the kid, the kid's parents and the folks at Rawlings who'd made the baseball. Fortunately I have a hard head, and I was wearing a batter's helmet. 

If our coach hadn't realized that I was OK and headed mama off at home plate, it could have gotten nasty out there on the diamond. 

A few years ago while visiting, I reminded her of that story and we both had a good laugh.

During the later years of her life, she looked forward to spring and baseball season. The Atlanta Braves gave her some of her happiest moments. She especially liked it when they hammered the Mets or the Red Sox. 

When they won, she was happy, and when they lost she was mad as a hornet. If I happened to miss the game and asked her for the score, “Aw, I don't want to talk about it.”

Back when I worked for a living, my company had a skybox at Turner Field. I had the opportunity to see them play a number of times. On one trip, I bought her a Braves baseball hat. 

Now that she's gone, the one regret that I have is that I never took her to Atlanta to see the Braves.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Strange Dreams

I slept fitfully last night. My dreams were filled with clogged toilets, snarling dogs, and curiously large rabbits that could leap like kangaroos.
Most nights when I have weird dreams, I can get up, go to the kitchen and drink a glass of milk and eat some gingersnaps, and I almost hibernate when I go back to bed.
That was not the case last night. Each time I went back to sleep, I had to contend with those toilets. At one point I pulled a telephone out. Not a tiny cell phone, but one of those old timey black wall phones with a rotary dial. I was ringing, but I didn't dare answer it.
At any rate, I gave up at 4:30 a.m. and got up to straighten up in my office. I let Jilda sleep until 6 and then put on the coffee.
I can barely keep my eyes open so I'm hoping for a slumber-ful night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Telling Stories

I have a tremendous respect for filmmaker Ken Burns. His work speaks volumes. I ran across a short piece about him tonight.
He shared his thoughts on what makes a good story. It's a little over 5 minutes long and I felt compelled to share it with you.
As writers, it's our job to tell stories. Some of our stories are fact, and some are fiction. But if you want to move the reader, you'd better get good at telling the story.
I think this is true whether you're trying to sell lipstick, or writing a novel. The success of either, depends on how well you tell the story.
If you're serious about writing, do yourself a favor and invest 5 minutes and 21 seconds in your career by watching this piece of film. Ken Burns Talks About Stories.
I think you'll be happy you did.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On a Scale of 1 to 10

On a scale of 1 to 10 

Creativity -- I fluctuate between a 6 - 10 depending on whether I'm playing music, writing, or doing my taxes (just kidding Uncle Sam)
Thoughtful -- a solid 7ish
Grateful - 10
Patient - 9 (unless I'm dealing with someone stupid who thinks they're smart)
Driver -- solid 10
Planner -- 5 (but wishing I was a 10)
Writer -- Some days I'm a 6 and some days 1 is not low enough
Friend -- I strive to be a 10, but too often fall way short

As you can probably gage from this entry that I might have fudged the numbers on Creativity and Writing, but it was low tide here tonight and I was struggling.
I hope you all have a great evening and a blissful Sunday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Not Evil

There was a lot of hype about the initial public offering of Facebook which launched today. I haven't been close to a radio or TV today so I wasn't sure how it went.
I just perused the financial news and one headline said it was a flop. I'm not sure I'd use that term, because 500 million shares changed hands. At the bell, the closing price was $38.23, up 23 cents for the day. Obviously, Facebook owners had hoped it would turn into a buying frenzy driving to stock price through the stratosphere, but it seems that didn't happen today.
Before you think aw shucks, Facebook at the closing bell is valued at $105 billion dollars; more than McDonalds, Cisco, and HP.
I'm not sure what that makes the 28 year-old Mark Zuckerburg worth, but I'm guessing if he plays his cards right, he won't have to wait tables any time soon.
Today it seems the numbers we use to value things are so vast, that it's difficult to wrap your arms around the concept money. A billion dollars, for example is a thousand million dollars. 
What would you do with a thousand million dollars? I'd like to think I'd use if for good and not evil.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Finding Your Voice

 I did something smart last week. I woke up with several good ideas for blog posts, and instead of letting the gifts slip back into the ether, never to be thought of again, I pulled out my laptop and typed the title in Blogger, and saved it without writing anything else.
Tonight when I found myself tapping keys, I remembered that I'd saved the ideas. The first one I came upon is finding your voice.
I think one of the most important things about blogging, is that it helps you to find your voice. It's harder than it sounds.
Some people are natural storytellers. Others struggle to say what they feel in a way that keeps the reader engaged.
I've been writing consistently for almost seven years, and the results are still hit and miss, but if feels more natural now.
The things make writing more difficult is lack of time, and trying to write when your spent. It's during those times it would be easy for me to skip a night, but good habits are easy to break, and band ones are easy to keep.
I think when you do find your voice, you know it, because the words seem to flow, and it just feels right.
Or that's the way it seems to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My head was a bit marsh-mallowish this morning. I got up at the regular time, and normally when my feet hit the floor, I'm in high gear.
But this morning it seemed like I was in slow motion.  After I put on the coffee, I worked on updating my day planner while I waited for Jilda to wake up.
When I heard her feet hit the floor, I poured us both cups of steaming coffee and grabbed my laptop to check email.
I had an interview with the mayor of Mountain Brook at nine, so I wrote out the questions and mind-mapped what I already knew about him.
I then checked my blog and realized that Crack You Whip was my 400th follower. I sent her an email to let her know she'd won a book. She's a writer too and her blog is a scream.
When I finally decided to look up at the clock, I though -- OH CRAP, I'll be late.
I swilled my coffee, snorted some Honey Nut Cheerios, jumped in the shower, and I was off like a flash.
Just when I did the math and calculated that I'd make it to the interview on time, my low-fuel indicator light on my truck began to flash.
I stopped long enough to fill the tank and the whole time I stood there, I took long slow breaths. This must have slowed time, because I rolled into the parking lot where I was to do the interview at three minutes till  nine.
After the interview, I ran a few errands, ate lunch, and headed home. I spent the afternoon writing stories and compiling notes.
At 5:30 p.m. I snapped the laptop closed and went for a walk.  I took this photograph of the first sunflower of the year with my iPhone. It doesn't look quite right to me, but maybe I'm just tired. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I walked out on the back deck this morning to dump coffee grounds in the compost bucket. The morning air was thick with fog hovering in the field between the house and barn.
I stood for a while and listened to the morning come alive. Just then I got whiff of something sweet. I stepped to the edge of the deck and saw the first gardenia blossom of spring leaning across the fence like an offering. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a picture.
I got busy with morning work and I had forgotten to mention the gardenia to Jilda, but once she walked outside she instantly knew it had bloomed.
Later in the morning when I went into my bathroom to put in my contacts, two blooms were tucked in a small vase by my mirror. They looked as though they were made of ivory.
I just upgraded to the new Photoshop this week and there is a new filter called Oil Paint.
I had to give it a whirl with the Gardenia, so it's shown below, but it's really hard to improve on what Mother Nature did on her own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Older folks have better stories

Jilda's Grandparents
Mamie and Johnny
Facebook goes public in a few weeks, which means another 20-something tech guru will become a multibillionaire. 
All the major news sources are agog with stories, and writers are clamoring to interview Mark Zuckerberg. Well, not me.
To be honest, I could care less about what he has to say. Maybe we could talk when he’s old enough to shave. I’m much more interested in hearing what the folks who’ve been around for a while have to say.
It’s been my experience that even people who’ve not been in the limelight or in the headlines have interesting stories if you can coax it out of them.
The best stories I’m hearing today are from people who have socks older than Mark Zuckerberg — people who’ve lived through wars, recessions, depressions, poverty and losses that would leave most of us stunned. 
Several years ago, I bought a hand-held recorder when they first came out. I wanted a video camera, but they were still as big as chifforobes and cost more than a new truck. 
I used the recorder to interview my older family, friends and neighbors to document their stories before it was too late. The stories were rich with historic detail and gave me a sense of what it was like growing up in their time. Their stories were remarkable.
My grandmother Willie Watson told me how she and my grandfather came to be married. She told me about their life together and how Pap fed the family during hard times by making and selling wild-cat whiskey.
I learned how my dad’s sister Christine kept Pap out of jail when law enforcement raided their house in the wee morning hours. Aunt Christine was only about 5 years old at the time, and she stumbled into the kitchen, wiping sleep from her eyes and sat on a butter churn to watch the house being ransacked by lawmen.
After a while, the officers left without finding anything. Pap had hidden the whiskey in the butter churn, on which Aunt Christine had been sitting.
I recorded these stories long before I became a writer, but I knew deep down that they were important.
Each day when I read the obits and see people in their 80s and 90s who’ve died, I wonder how many remarkable stories we’ve lost forever. Stories of success, stories of survival, of history, stories about life.
Everybody has a story to tell and with today’s modern technology, it’s a shame that more of these stories are not being captured. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a video camera on their next visit to grandma and grandpa’s house and spend some time talking about their life. 
Most of the time, it doesn’t take a lot of prodding. Just turn on the camera (or recorder), and ask how they met, what was their first car, or where they went on their honeymoon. I can promise you that one day you will thank me.
So, good luck to Mark on his IPO, and I’m happy for those writers who have the good fortune to interview him while he’s riding high, but I’d prefer to talk to him in 30 years to see if he has anything really interesting to say.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Idle Hands

Idle hands are the devil's workshop. Both Jilda's mom and my mom lived by these words. I never saw either one of them take a nap....ever.
If there was light to work by, they were working. That somehow got hard coded into our DNA and it took years uncoil those twisted little ideas.
I got up at 6 a.m. and put on the coffee. I usually walk out on the porch to get a first-hand weather report, but I could see through the garden door that it was raining. So I put my nose against the glass and listened to the raindrops rattle our tin roof. My breath fogged the glass making the garden look ethereal.
We drank coffee and read the morning paper. The morning was low key, but today was decoration day where Jilda's family is buried, so we took flowers for the graves.
We normally have a smoothie or cereal for breakfast, but this morning we stopped at Micky D's and got breakfast to go.
After we placed the flowers, we stopped to visit for a few minutes with Jilda's older sister Nell who was 76 today. She was outside feeding her goats. We gave her a birthday and Mother's Day present before heading back home.
Even though it was still early in the day, we both decided that a nap was in order.
After the nap, we piddled around for a while doing nothing in particular. Well, that's not entirely true, Jilda washed clothes, but did nothing in particular.
After a soupy lunch, Jilda suggested we take another nap. The rain had moved back in, and I couldn't think of a single reason not to take a nap, so we did.
Both our moms were probably looking down and shaking their heads disapprovingly, but it sure felt good to have idle hands today.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Small Town Festivals

The clouds were as menacing as an unfed pitt bull today. We were scheduled to play a singer/songwriter gig at Art in the Park in Jasper at 1 p.m.
I got up early and went to Walmart to buy a tarp to cover our PA system.
Normally transporting it is not an issue, but Jilda's car is in the shop so all we had was the truck. The tarp would keep our stuff dry.
The sky remained overcast as we unloaded but I had a gut feeling the rain would hold off; and it did.
Even though the sun played hooky, it was a beautiful day for a festival. This is a good one put on by the Walker County Arts Alliance. The artists were exceptional.
Our friend Russell Colvin from Blackwater Forge was there. He's a blacksmith, but he also builds exquisite ironworks. You could hear his hammer ring out as it struck hot iron.
As Jilda and I played today, painted faced kids wandered through the stage area, and most stopped to listen for a while.
I love small town festivals. You can't walk 10 feet without running into an old friend that you haven't seen in ages. The smell of BBQ, and the sound of people laughing.
People sometimes ask if we make any money playing. I don't say it, but sometimes we do. What I usually say is: If you get into this to make money, you're in the wrong business. Sell illegal drugs, or get into banking. We play music because we love it. If we make a little money, great. But even if we don't we come out ahead.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I finished up The Hunger Games Trilogy last week, and they were fun books. The storyline was better than I expected. But my niece, who rarely steers me wrong, told me I would enjoy them.
But yesterday I started reading Pat Conroy's book, South of Broad, and I am blown away by his words. His descriptions of Charleston, South Carolina paint a picture as rich as raspberry cheesecake.  I stopped the tape at one point to contemplate.
I thought to myself, how does one get that good? Of course there's no telling how long it took him to write that novel. I know from experience that my work gets better with each re-write. I whittle away the dead wood, and polish the dull spots. I use more precise words to describe what I'm trying to say.
Perhaps it's simply a matter of time and focus. Maybe, though I have not tried to verify it, Pat Conroy made a decision early in his writing career to invest the time to make his work the best it can possibly be.
At any rate, reading novels of this caliber makes me want to be a better writer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Jilda went to the awards luncheon with me today at Samford University. There was a good crowd of people there who write for radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and freelance writers of all kinds.
Many of them make a living at the craft.
I felt going in I had a shot, but if you'd told me beforehand that I would win first place for Humorous Column and first place for Feature Article (non-daily paper), I would not have believed it; but that's what happened.
I was a happy camper. The Alabama Media Professionals is part of a national media professional organization and my two entries were entered into the national event too.
This years national conference is in Scottsdale, Arizona and if I were to win an award in that competition, we're Arizona bound.

 It's been several years since we've been out west and we both have missed that part of the country.
Two of our blog friends, Bob and Shirley Miller live in Scottsdale, and we'd love to see them again. 
I won't have to announce it on here, if I were to win a national award, you'll be able to hear me shouting :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


I entered some of my work in the Alabama Media Professionals communication contest, and tomorrow they announce the winners at a luncheon at Samford University.
The group has a lot of really good writers, so I'm not getting my hopes up. Some of the people in the group write regularly for national magazines. Others have written successful novels.
My friend Dale who won first place last year has some work entered this year. 
I know writing is not a competition, but I think everyone has a tendency to seek validation. I think that's why we all enjoy comments from other writers on our blogs.
When you're not in it for the money, a little encouragement goes a long way. 
So, tomorrow evening I'll let you know, one way or the other.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


There's a lot of hoorah going on these days, with Facebook stock going public. Reporters and feature writers are clamoring to interviews with Mr. Facebook to talk about the meteoric rise of that company.
I'm sure it would be a coup for any writer who managed to get that interview, but I could care less about interviewing a twenty-something about-to-be-billionaire.
To me, the most fascinating stories I'm hearing today from people who have sox older that Mark Zuckerberg.
People who've lived through poverty, wars, recessions, depressions, and losses that would leave most of us stunned.
I had the forethought many years ago to interview my grandmother, parents, and elderly neighbors from the community I grew up in, and the stories were remarkable.
I interviewed a man a few weeks ago and I spent most of the day today doing research, and reading his autobiography.
I won't say much about the story until it's written, but it's a fascinating story.
So, good luck to Mark on his IPO, and I'm happy for those writers who had the good fortune to interview him while he's riding high; but I'd prefer to talk to him in 30 years to see if he has anything really interesting to say.

Monday, May 07, 2012


Jilda pointed out this morning that one of the sprayers came off the dishwasher last night during the nightly run.
After denigrating the people who designed and built the appliance, I fished the broken parts out. The sprayer is a piece of plastic about 18 inches long and about the width of a man's tie. The plastic washer came out in two pieces and was about the diameter of a silver dollar, if anyone remembers those.
I put the pieces of washer on my computer desk to remind me to get online and find replacement parts.
Tonight as I was tapping keys, ideas were scarce. So I picked up one piece of the broken washer and looked at it more closely. Hmmm. That was a might clean break I thought, so I picked up the other piece and the two fit together perfectly - they were mirror images.
Then it hit me. The washer wasn't broken at all but had for some reason come apart. When I thought back to this morning, I remembered we'd laid out a batch of fresh blueberries on or pizza pan to ripen.
The pizza pan is almost too big to fit in the dishwasher but we thought if we leaned it over it would be OK.
Apparently the sprayer hit the pizza pan which knocked it off and sent the washer flying to the bottom of the dishwasher.
Just then when I opened it up, all the pieces fit perfectly and when I fired the contraption up, it worked like a charm.
I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


Jilda felt much better today. We headed out to the plant store early and bought more tomatos, peppers, squash, eggplant, and a truck full of flowers.
We took it slow, but she loves this kind of work -- where she gets dirt under her fingernails. 
This evening before sunset, we took our tea, and sat out on the back deck to admire our handiwork.
The hummingbirds had already discovered the newly planted flowers and were staking out claims.
We bought mandevilla plants last year, and they bloomed until autumn. I decided to see if they would winter in the great room, so I hauled them in.
Every time we'd have a few warm days in a row during the winter, I'd haul the plants out to the deck for some fresh air.
The mandevillas made it.  I hung them on the arbor several weeks ago, and they began putting tendrils which I wrapped around the top beams of the arbor. They started blooming today.
The weatherman predicted rain today, but the sun came out midmorning making this an extraordinary Sunday. But tonight I hear thunder in the distance. 
Maybe we'll get a shower in the night. I know the things we planted today will rejoice.
Y'all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Time Has Wings

Jilda and I wrote a song some years back with a friend Tracy Reynolds, called Time has Wings.  Tracy and her producer like the song so much that she included it on her CD.
I think it's a beautiful song, and speaks to how quickly time slips away from us.
Thirty eight years ago this afternoon, Jilda and I held hands and said I Do, on the front porch of a preacher friend of ours.
He lived in a trailer park in Brewton, Alabama. Brewton is in the southern part of the state but it was on the way to the beach, which is where we decided to honeymoon. 
We spent a week in a cinder-block bungalow, with no air conditioning. Some nights it was so warm we made a pallet on the screened porch, and slept to the sound of a pounding surf, and woke to the sound of fussing seagulls.
Looking back, the memory doesn't seem that dusty, but a lot of tides have come and gone since May 5th 1974.
It hasn't always been easy. To say there weren't hard times....times we both felt like walking away, would be minimizing the experience. 
Marriage is not for wusses. If you can't take the hard stuff, you don't deserve the good stuff.
We always try to do something special for our anniversary. We spent one in Ireland several years ago, and another in Sedona. 
Tonight, we stayed home and watched a movie that we both love. And as a bonus, mother nature  put up a big moon, to honor our years together. (Thanks to my friend Dale Short for the moon shot.)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Picture Friday

I've worked most of the day on a story about a remarkable man 78 years old who's childhood was tragic. But fortunately, the story didn't end there.
Some stories take a great deal longer to write because you want to get them right. This is one of those stories.
At any rate, I have little creative juice left today to spread here, so I'll leave you with some pictures I took while we walked this morning.

                                                        Wild Hydrangea

Thursday, May 03, 2012

So Close

We had fairly good culinary selections today. Chef Rick whipped up some Honey Nut Cheerios with blueberries and bananas. A glass of orange juice and a handfull of vitamins.
For lunch we had a nice can of beef and barley soup with wheat crackers, and sun-brewed ice tea. Tonight I hopped in the truck and went to the nearest Chinese restaurant and got moo goo gui pan, Chinese vegetables, hot and sour soup with spring rolls.
The owner knows us so she always throws in a few extra fortune cookies and fried bananas.
So, we survived the first day of me in the kitchen. I'm fairly certain it will wear think quickly because Jilda is an excellent cook and we're used to eating well.
She was reading my blog this evening, as I dipped out the soup and noticed that I now have 398 followers.
Wow. I'm so close to 400 that I can smell the barn. In the spirit of landmarks, I will give the 400th, follower a trip to Paris with $25,000 in mad money to blow on French wine and some funny hats.
OK, I'm lying about the trip and the cash, but I will give follower 400 a copy of my book. If you happen to by #400, please leave a comment so I'll know who to send it to. You can email me you're mailing address to
I hope you all have a remarkable Friday and the best weekend of your lives. Be sure and look for the big full moon on May 5th (which just happens to be our 38th wedding anniversary.

Big Moon

This is a bonus post

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Another Day at The Med Center

We were at Princeton Medical Center just after 10 this morning. They called Jilda in immediately to start her treatments, and I headed over to the cafeteria with my laptop.
I bought a strong cup of coffee and found a table in the corner away from traffic. I plugged in my headphones and went to work.
I finished a story and the first draft of my column before my phone buzzed. I thought it was Jilda giving me a status update, but she said she was through and ready to go eat.
When I looked at my watch, over three hours had passed.
There's something about working away from home. When you're at home, there are constant distractions. Something is always screaming out to be done.
Today the only call I answered was the call of nature, which at my age is very hard to ignore.
One of our good friends who works at the hospital visited with Jilda while being treated.

Once I got the call, I saved my files and hustled over to pick her up. Afterwards we stopped by Nikki's for lunch. Here's the shocker, I got the fried flounder with rice and fried green tomatoes.
Tomorrow will be couch day for Jilda while she recovers, and it will be up to me to provide the meals. I'm thinking either chili or frozen pepperoni pizza for breakfast, but the jury is still out with Jilda.
Y'all pray for us    :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Today has been uneventful. I spent most of the day on the screened porch transcribing interviews I did last week. I looked through pictures, and mindmapped ideas for the stories which I'll begin writing tomorrow while Jilda is taking her treatments.
The treatments take around four hours, so I spend the time in the coffee shop/cafeteria with ear phones sunk knuckle deep in my ears. 
The headphones are the ones we use when we perform. They are fairly sound-proof which means for the most part, you don't hear sounds from the outside; only what comes in from the headphone jack.
I put on a Focus, which is a mp3 by Kelly Howell.  The mp3 simply sends white noise through the headphones which drowns out any sounds that do somehow try to seep in.
During her last treatment, I wrote a column and a story during the time we were there. 
After the treatment, we  always stop on the way home and eat at our favorite restaurant. 
I'm thinking about getting the flounder tomorrow. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with flounder.

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