Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

We Easter'ed with our friends Wes and Deidra this year. We left out about 8:30 a.m. Saturday with the intention to have lunch with them.
We soon discovered that it was spring break for college kids in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Interstate was literally bumper-to-bumper from just South of Birmingham to Montgomery. We've made that trip many times and it normally takes about 1 3/4 hours. It took us over three yesterday.
There weren't any wrecks, just the road wasn't designed for that many kids, in that big a hurry to scurry through the state.
As you might imagine, we missed lunch and arrived fashionably late. It's always delightful getting with them.
This morning, we got dressed to go to church with them in Elba. It was a beautiful service and afterwards we had lunch with Wes' family and some of his friends.
Jilda and I fretted about the traffic we both felt was awaiting us on the Interstate, but as it turns out, we breezed home with no problems.
It's good to be home.
I feel like my posts have been "light-weight" the last few days. I know I can do better, but not tonight.
The rain is rattling the roof, and I can hear our bed calling.
Y'all have a remarkable week. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dinner With Friends

We had dinner with friends tonight. It was a respite from a wicked week at the Watson's.  Tonight we started off a micro green salad that our friends grew on their window sill. We then had fresh salmon, and baked sweet potatoes.
We laughed a lot, told stories and caught up. The conversation lagged as we savored the food. It occurred to me that spending time with friends is probably my favorite pass times.
I know we should do it more often, but life often gets in the way, and we miss opportunities.
I'm thankful we didn't let anything get in our way tonight.
I hope you all have a bless Easter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

When It Rains

The tired old chiche "When It Rains It Pours" seems apropos here at the Watson house. This winter has been one of the wettest (and coolest) winters in memory.
As you may recall, last summer, we had problems with our septic system and we did some work that should have corrected the problem, but the fix was temporary.  The non-stop rain and other factors made the problem recur earlier this year.
The same storm that slapped down all the trees, also dumped a river of rain. So not only have we dealt with the fallout from the storm but the old septic system problem reared it's ugly (and stinky) head.
I knocked off a liquor store to get enough money to get on my nephew's calendar. My number came up today and he showed up early with a device that I used to call a steam shovel, when I was a kid.
Soon he and his helper strip-mined my back yard to make room for new field lines.
We finished up late this afternoon as the wind out of the west kicked up. The rain's moving back in. After losing so many trees, and digging trenches deep enough to hide a freight train in our back yard, it will be some time before it looks normal again. But it will.
Hopefully by mid summer we'll be in the back yard playing crochet, drinking mint juleps, and singing Ol' Susanna with a banjo on our knees.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I'm a quote freak. I admit it. I stand up in meetings and say, Hello. My name is Rick Watson, and I'm a quote-a-holic.
When I worked for MaBell, there was a corporate library filled with motivational tapes, books and videos that employees could check out.
In all the years I worked there, I only saw a few people taking advantage of that library.
I drove an hour to and from work, so I had a lot of time. Most folks listened to the radio, or music on their cassette players, or cussed traffic. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't give one much room to grow.
 I chose to listen to tapes, and later CD's and I think this decision enriched my life, and helped with my education.
Tonight as I tied to think of a subject, I searched for "The Best Quotes of All Time."
This one jumped out at me.

 “When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch.” Anonymous.

I smiled when I read these words. As Robert Heinlein wrote in Stranger in a Strange Land, If these words were read, by a "Fair Witness,"  they would judge them to be true.
I rest my case. go out and do something remarkable.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Cookies

A few weeks ago I lost Jilda in our local Walmart. I turned my head a moment to peruse the office supplies, then BAM - she was gone. I sent her a text and tried to call her but nada.
I was about to report her abduction by aliens to the authorities, when I walked by the Easter supplies, and discovered her digging through one of the shelves.
I stepped over and got a whiff emanating from the candy aisle. Of course I smelled the aroma of chocolate eggs, but I also got a whiff of the subtle scent of Peeps. I think Peeps are probably the most underrated candy on the shelves.  Fluffy bundles of marshmallow, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial color in the shape of baby chickens and rabbits. What could be better? You can almost hear them chirp when you eat them.
Now where was I.....Oh yes, I found Jilda looking for Easter cookie cutters.
She came out smiling with Easter-egg cookie cutters. The finished cookie would be roughly the size of a softball that had been whacked really hard with an aluminum bat.
"I'm making Easter Cookies with the kids," she announced triumphantly. A couple of Easter Basket shoppers overheard what she said and put some distance between us.
Well, today was the day. The kids showed up around 4 p.m. and the house, which is normally as quite as a library, sounded like the play area at Micky "D's".
After they baked the cookies and drank a couple pitchers of black cherry Kool Aide, they headed outside.
Caillou, the wonder collie, loves kids and he joined in their game of pitch the soccer ball. Whenever one of the kids missed the ball, he was right there to grab it and run. Six kids would be in hot pursuit. I laughed until I snorted tea out my nose.
At one point, Zoe and Breeze climbed the dogwood in our yard. I shot this photo when they were on their way up.
This is the tree that I do battle over each summer when the power company comes through to rid the right-of-way of pesky trees.
So far I've been successful in keeping the saws off the trunk and it's moments like this that make all the aggravation worth while.
I wonder if they make firecracker cookie cutters?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Brand New Man

My muscles ache tonight. The wind out of the northwest blew all day long and temps hovered in the low 40's making it feel like Chicago in December. 
I wrote my weekly column, and prepared for a talk and book signing at the Genealogy Society on Thursday, so I managed to stay inside for most of the morning.
But after lunch my friend J.T. Morgan showed up to fix my chain-link fence in the back yard, so I wrapped up like a thermal cocoon and went outside while they worked.
After he left, I looked around the yard and shook my head. A litter of leaves, pine cones, limbs, and straw covered the ground like a lumpy carpet.
I fetched the long yellow-handled rake and began hauling debris to the burn pile. I can't actually burn just now because of the wind, and the fact that for once the humidity is hovering at 0%. Normally the air is as moist as a glass of tea, but today the air is as dry as snuff. Because of the low humidity, the weather service issued a burn ban which means the mountain of stuff will have to wait.
I have a carpenter, and a roof man coming tomorrow to give estimates and timeframes for repairs. Hopefully we'll be back to semi-normal in by mid April.
I feel like I've been beaten with an ugly stick tonight so I plan to soak in one of Jilda's magic lavender and epsom salts baths. Twenty minutes in there and I'll be a brand new man.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Bright Side

My glass is always half full. I can't help it. It irks some folks that I always try to see the upside, but it's in my DNA.
Does that mean I never have rotten stuff happen, or that I never have a bad day? Not by a long shot. I/we have bad/sad/awful/ things happen to us...everybody does. But I have a choice of how I react to those things.
Does getting depressed, ranting/raving/cussing/kicking/snorting/ or bitching help? Usually not. I know this is  a tired cliche, but that's because it is so true. You cannot fully appreciate how great life can be unless you've had the crap kicked out of you a time or two.
I just learned a friend has lymphoma. It knocked him for a loop, and he allow himself some time to wallow, but like a cat, he landed on his feet.
He's emailing friends, not for sympathy, but to say "Hey, don't worry about me. This crap picked the wrong dude to invade." The notes he sends bring tears to my eyes, and make me laugh. He's an inspiration to me.
The fact is, the only thing we can control is how we react to the things that happen to us. I choose to see the bright side.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


The rain finally moved off to the east and this evening, the sun peeped out from behind angry clouds. We've gotten almost four inches of rain the last two days. When we walked this morning it felt as if we were walking on a wet sponge.
Normally that's not an issue, but I got an alert on my phone placing us under a wind advisory. Even now, I can hear high level winds aloft. Sweet Gum balls are dinging the roof like a hailstorm.
Both Jilda and I decided to write early tonight in case high winds blew down soggy-rooted trees, taking  our power out again.
I know it seems that I've written a great deal about the weather lately. That's because it's often a factor in our daily lives.
The changing of the seasons is normally the most unpredictable time. Spring and autumn tend to be worse, but we have had tornadoes in December, and Hurricanes that sweep into the Gulf in summer. They then race up the middle of the state toward us here in central Alabama.
I choose to look at it like this -- if it weren't for the weather, I'm not sure what I would have written about tonight.
Our friends up north in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and places north and east of there are getting hammered by snow today. So if you're in the path of Mother Natures rampage, hunker down.
Y'all have a great week.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Muted Celebration

On top of the storm stuff, our clothes drier died. We had a mountain of funky smelling clothes. I know that's probably more information that you required on a Saturday night, but I'm just saying.
We've bought new washer/driers in the past that didn't last. The last time we bought a drier we bought from a local guy that rebuilds older appliances -- not newer ones with plastic parts, but ones built to last.   I don't recall how much the last one costed, but I do remember smiling as I wrote the check, because I feared it would cost a lot more.
We've used it over 6 years before it died. Yesterday we stopped by his shop and picked out a new drier.  I'd planned on taking the old drier out, disposing of it, and then picking up one at local shop.
As I paid for the newly rebuilt drier, I asked just for kicks if he delivered. He said sure. For $40 he not only delivered and installed the new drier, but he'd haul off the old one.
I could have hugged his neck.
We'd planned to go out tonight with friends to celebrate Jilda's birthday, but the weather radar is showing another nasty line of weather heading our way, so we elected to stay home.
As it turns out, we were both exhausted from the recovery efforts this week. So we stayed at home, had a nice dinner, sipped on a nice bottle of prosecco sparkling wine and watched a movie.
The phone rang all day long, and she's still replying to all the Facebook "Happy Birthday wishes" she received.
We're about to turn in for the night, but we'll be sleeping in our football helmets just in case things get nasty :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Eve

Tomorrow, my lovely spouse will celebrate a birthday I won't say which one for fear of having to eat Kibbles and Bits for the next month of so. I can say without hesitation that she does not look her age.
I've seen 30 year-olds that look and act much older.
We started dating when she was 16. We didn't marry until after she went off to college and I returned from military service, but I think we both somehow knew we'd wind up together.
I think a mistake that young lovers make today is that they marry based on attraction alone. Attraction/passion plays a part, but if you don't have common interests, the road is often rocky.
Young people often get married with full knowledge of their partner's behaviors, thinking they will change after the exchange rings. That rarely happens. 
If a guy loves hunting and fishing before marriage, it is doubtful he'll want to forego hunting and fishing to pick out window treatments, and new comforters for the bedroom. 
If a woman likes a Friday night out with the girls every now and then, no amount of sulking and whining will change that.
So, the secret to a long successful marriage, is to find someone who likes some of the same things you like. Someone who likes to hit flea markets with you on weekends, or someone who likes to camp out on soggy creek banks and clean trout for dinner.
I'm not sure if I knew this when I first met Jilda or not. Maybe we both got lucky and found partners that fit like an expensive leather glove. But we both love writing songs and playing music. We love taking pictures, and art. We love entertaining friends, reading, writing, and cussing politicians.
At any rate, it's been a great 41 (since we met) years. 
Happy Birthday Jilda. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Power AGAIN

We came home to a dark house again. Maybe it time to move back to civilization.
I'm writi g this with spotty service on my iPhone.
Sorry to be a broken record.
More tomorrow.
UPDATE: The power clicked on last night after midnight. I know we live in a rural area, and I can understand storm damage, but our lights go out when squirrels pass gas on the lines and I'm about to go on the offensive with Mr. Power Company executive.
I know that if the CEO were getting the same service as we get, they'd be blood splattered on the walls in the local field office.
I'll keep you updated on my mission.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LIfe is Good

I feel as if I'd run back to back marathons the last few days. I'm spent, my knees squeak when I stand, and my face is windburned and red as an apple, but the downed trees are out of our yard, our fence is up (sort of), and our chickens are happy. Plus, the power's back on and I just had a warm shower. Life is good.
Thanks to all my blog buddies for your kind words. When I finally got access to the internet, I had hundreds of emails.
Hopefully after a good nights rest, I'll be back in the saddle.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My nephew Haven, and his friends Damon and Misty showed up with chainsaws early this morning and we made a lot of progress on our yard.
There is still a lot to do but when I got home yesterday afternoon the neighbor across the road had a massive pine laying across both his cars and his house. Another neighbor had a hundred-year-old oak through the middle of his home.
By the time I made it home my stomach churned like I'd eaten a bad burrito. A quick survey showed five huge pines in my yard. One was on my fence, one was on my chicken pen and the others were sprawled over the rest of the yard. My barn lost part of its roof, but as I walked around our house, there wasn't even a stem on the roof.
Our dogs were freaked but they were fine, and the chickens survived. Even with debris scatered all over our place, everything can be fixed. All in all, I would say we're blessed.
We still don't have power, but the power company says we'll have it by midnight tonight. We'll see.
Thanks to my sister for letting us jump on her wireless to make these updates.
We really appreciate all your kind words.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No power

Straight line wind knocked trees down and power's out. No entry tonight.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Jilda did her magic in the kitchen today. I think it's the Irish in her genes. She whipped up cornedbeef, colcannon (cabbage and Irish potatoes with bits of crispy bacon), carrots, and Irish Soda Bread. She also made brownies laced with Bailey's Irish Creme and Frangelico. 
There are people who would have donated a kidney to have been at our table this evening, but the lucky ones were our dear friends Kaye and Jamie. 
At one point the conversation lagged and all you could hear was primal grunts. Had someone tried to take our food away, it could have turned nasty.
We talked until our tongues were tired (to borrow a phrase from Dan Fogelberg), and afterwards we worked on a song idea that Jamie had been working on.  
I love the synergy of working with creative people. Each line of a lyric opens a Universe of possibilities for the next line.
I'm not sure we would have had more fun even if we had Leprechauns with shamrocks in their lapels had joined us.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Meditation Rock

It's been a low-key day here at the Watson household. No marathons here. We did take our morning walk with the dogs down to meditation rock.
Meditation rock (My name for it) is about 300 yards behind the barn and overlooks a small stream. Even when the summer sun in brutal, the farm is like a steam room, and there's no rain in sight, the little stream has a trickle of water bubbling on its destination southward. 
You can be wound as tight as a tenor banjo string, and ready to turn the big nasty loose on anyone if they look at you wrong.....then a few moments sitting on meditation rock listening to the gurgle of water over smooth stones, and your mind untangles. The turds will live another day, thanks to this little piece of heaven.
I usually feel taller after sitting there a while looking at the sky, and inhaling mother nature's perfume.
I've bitten off a great deal to chew lately. Jilda and I are playing a lot, I'm marketing a book, taking the Master Gardener's class, and also an online songwriting class from
Today as we stood for a moment on meditation rock, I thought to myself, "I need to spend some quality time here to clean my mental house."
I hope you all have had a good weekend. Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. May you all be blessed with the Luck of the Irish.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Out of Gas

We're getting a late start tonight. Jilda and I played in Huntsville which is about a hour and a half one way. Emma's Tea Room is a great singer/songwriter room. There were some awesome songwriters there.
Our friend Mark and his friend Elise who live in Huntsville came, and I had a chance to meet one of my blog followers, Gina Green who also lives in the Huntsville area.
One of my favorite parts about playing is the opportunity to meet people. Singer/songwriters are a fun bunch by nature, and people that come to hear original music are the reason we keep chugging away.
I'm updating this post just under the wire tonight. I'm out of gas and can't think of much to say.
I'll do a better job tomorrow.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where's the Comet?

I did some recording at my friend Fred's house this evening and we finished after sunset. When I stepped outside to load my guitar in the truck, I saw the new moon, which was shaped like a freshly clipped thumbnail. 
Wispy high-level clouds from the west briefly veiled the moon but then it faded back into focus. I stood there looking for the comet holding my guitar.  I stood there for a while with the night breeze in my face and a shiver started at the base of my spine and wiggled upward. The guitar in my hand felt as heavy as an anvil, and soon it seemed like my arm was stretching.
I still hadn't seen the comet, but I didn't want one of my arms to be longer than the other so I put the guitar in my truck. 
I was about to drive off when I remembered that I had a pair of binoculars in the console of my truck. I unlatched the lid and fished around under my gloves, tobogan and CDs I haven't listened to in years, until I found the field glasses.
I stepped back to Fred's porch and searched the sky to the left of the moon for the comet, but I never could find it.  Even with the help of binoculars it remained elusive. 
I'm not sure if I was looking in the wrong place, or if it was hiding behind a think layer of cloud, but I couldn't see it. I was a little disappointed, but I'll try again this weekend.
I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

All that fretting and whining last night about the newspaper article was all for naught. I got a personal note from the publisher thanking me for doing the story. At last count, the online article had received 2110 views. WooHoo! I'll post a link to the story below  for you to see if you'd like. Now That's A Big Fish.

Have you seen Comet ISON? It's now visible with the naked eye. Celestial events are so rare, I do my best to see them. Haley's Comet came in 1986 and I did see it, although it didn't put on a show like it did in 1066 when it was so bright, it frightened millions of Europeans. It was widely credited with the Norman victory at the Battle of Hastings. 
A while back as I read through some of my past journals, I came across an entry where I described a total eclipse of the sun. I didn't make note of the date, but I think it was in 1984. I used my father's old welding goggles to view the phenomenon. The old rooster we had at that time began to crow, even though it was mid day.
I haven't seen Comet ISON yet because we have so many trees that we can't see the eastern horizon at moonrise but it's on our calendar for this weekend. I'm using a photo posted by Wayne Baumgartner. Thanks Wanyo.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How my day went

Today the sky was as blue as the feathers of an exotic bird. The rain and wind that swept through the last few days took all the haze and soupy ions from the air and whisked them to Georgia (sorry guys).
We had a frosty carpet on the dead grass, but the air smelled as fresh as clean linens. All the things we've planted over the past few weeks are chompin' at the bit, to use a well-worn colloquialism. 
Our morning walk felt almost as if we were in the mountains except with thicker air. 
I worked on my fish story all morning and by lunch I was at the edit/rewrite stage. I fretted over the first sentence. I thought it was good, but it was a DIFFERENT kind of lead than most stories that appear in the paper. I thought to myself, "Hey, you can't fly on one wing."
I called the editor, who was vacationing in the mountains of Tennessee, on his cell. I read him the opening sentence on a line that crackled with distance and poor reception. "That sou(crackle, crackle, crackle,...... goo(crackle) to me.
I gave it a once over and fired it off to the guy at the paper who was filling in for the boss. I told him the editor was OK with the story. I've fretted all evening wondering if the editor really said  what I thought he said through the distance and shoddy service. or if he said, "That's a piece of caca, go do it over and send it to me."
The story is winding its way through the sprockets, gears and rollers of the mammoth newspaper printer even as I type these words. So tomorrow morning I may be looking for a new job. 
On another note, Jilda and I are playing again Friday night and a high-class tea room in Huntsville. I've practiced until my fingers are bleeding so we're as ready as we're going to be.
I hope you all have a remarkable Wednesday.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Big Fish

The publisher of one of the papers for which I write sent word that he'd like me to write a story about a local man who caught a big fish. 
I know you've all seen stories about people who've caught "big fish", but this man caught a 'BIG FISH". 
The 70 pound stripe bass definitely broke an Alabama State record by 15 pounds, but there's a good chance this fish will break a world record for that species of fish.
All the big city papers and sporting magazines have interviewed him about the size, and what bait he used, but none of the stories I read got the real story. They got the 30 second sound bite.
This afternoon I sat in his living room and heard "the rest of the story." I won't say much about it until after publication, but I can tell you I was fascinated.
His wife shot this picture of him (on the left) with a state biologists. It's appeared several times on the Internet and in news articles. 
Stay tuned, story to follow in a few days.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Late Winter Sun

I've gotten swept up in spring fever this week, even though I know there will be more cold weather. The Master Gardener's class last week was about plant propagation. We learned how to start plants from stems, flowers, seeds, and cuttings.
I have a tray full of holly, blueberries, peppers, and African Violets sitting on our table that I started last Monday.
I came home that evening and ordered apple trees, a fig tree, and more blueberry bushes. They arrived Friday just as we were about to head out of town, but I slid my hand in my pocket, fished out my pocket knife and opened the cardboard shipping container.
I untangled each plant from the shipping plastic, put them in a #3 wash tub and soaked the roots. I then scratched up a tub full of leaves from under the water oak with my fingers. The earth beneath the leaves was dark as fudge and smelled like I imagine the earth smelled before time.
 I talked to each plant and promised I'd get them in the ground soon. I'm not sure they could hear me, but I hope they sensed the loving vibes I sent their way.
Today the sun was crazy warm. The wind out of the west was still a little chilly, but not so chilly that I didn't take advantage of the late winter rays.
I dug holes in the earth deep enough to bury a pet, I placed the plants in their holes, filled it with compost and water, and then tamped around loose soil around them.
It could take years before some of the trees are in full production, but they never will start bearing fruit if I don't plant them.
Tonight, my arms feel as if I've boxed Mike Tyson for 15 rounds, except I still have both my ears.
I hope you all remembered to spring forward you clocks last night. I did, and I've still been late all day.
Have a great week.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

It's been said that "Practice Makes Perfect." I'm not sure perfection is within the grasp of mortals, but when I look at great works of art, watch a movie that resonates with me, or hear a song that's hung with me like a scar, I sometimes wonder if the artist(s) didn't approach perfection.
Jilda and I made up our minds at New Years, to refocus on our music. We're studying songwriting, we've practiced guitar and done vocal exercises practically ever day since January 1st.
Sometimes practice is a drudge - I'd rather have a jaw tooth extracted with needle-nose pliers by a drunken sailor with bad breath (not sure where this disquieting description came from but I fear I may dream about it tonight), than pick up a guitar and strum one chord. But we've done it. Even on treatments days when Jilda was as weak as a kitten, she insisted we practice. 
Anyone who plays an instrument will probably tell you that you can practice for EVER and you never feel like you're getting any better. Then one day it's like a switch is flipped, and you're playing (and singing) notes you were never able to play smoothly before.
No one can play better without the repetitions....without practice. I think the same holds true whether you're cooking, sewing, driving, golfing, or writing.
I know I'm preaching to the choir because many of the people who read and follow my blog write/practice every day. All of our goals are different I'm sure, but anyone who writes wants to communicate effectively and you do that by practicing. You gauge what works and you adjust.
What got me headed down this path tonight is that when we played last night, we played for a room of people we didn't know. It's easy playing for friends, they love you whether you suck or not. But playing for people you don't know is a different story together.
After our set last night, most of the audience came up to us afterwards and told us personally how much they enjoyed our show. I was humbled and gratified. I knew deep inside that all those hours of practice were finally paying off.

Friday, March 08, 2013

10 Minute Exercise

Jilda and I are reading this book entitled Writing Better Lyrics, by Pat Pattison and we've both found some of the exercises helpful.
One exercise has you write stream of conscience thoughts for 10 minutes each morning. But you can only write for 10 minutes, even if you're on a roll. The idea is that anyone can carve out 10 minutes each day to write and if you were to write 30 minutes one morning, the next day you'd be less likely to continue the 10 minute exercise. In those 10 minutes you're suppose to involve the following senses:





Organic (crawl; crouching; ducking; scrunching shoulders tight; stand up quick; tingling along my back and neck; when I squint; crouching there fetal and content)

and Kinesthetic (lobbing in; tingling along my back and neck kept reminding me; avoid rusty nails waiting patiently above for my back or skull to forget them; don't stand up; I could feel Mom above me).

We've been doing this exercise all week and some of the things we've written have been extraordinary. It's helping not only with lyrics, but also with our blog, and writing in general.

The exercise probably isn't for everyone, but I challenge you to try it for a week to see if it doesn't help you write better stories.
Take care, happy Friday.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I'm Ready For Spring

Today was much warmer here. I forgot to get the coffeemaker ready last night before bed so when I rolled out of bed this morning, I eased into the kitchen, took the grounds out of the maker and stepped to the deck to dump them into our compost can.
I stood barefooted on the deck and surveyed the sky. Zeus, our rooster began to stir and cock-a-doodle-doooood. I could hear his call echo through the hollow, and off in the distance, I heard another rooster answer his call. This always kicks off a contest. Boys are like that.
The sky overhead was cloudless except for the contrail of a passenger jet miles overhead. The sun was still below the eastern horizon but the vapor trail was high enough to catch the rays, and it looked like a thread of yarn the color of orange sherbet.
I stood there a long while drinking in the morning. Several shrubs in our yard are getting a jump on spring. The yellow bells, the ornamental plumb, and the buttercups are all showing out.
I don't start getting excited about spring until I begin to see things bloom and I know the changing season can't be far behind. I'm ready. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Contact Trauma

We spent most of the morning at the the clinic. Well, to be more specific, Jilda spent about four green-chair hours in the infusion room wrapped so tightly in blankets that she looked like a cocoon.  I spent most of that time in the cafeteria writing this weeks' column and catching up on my reading. 
The sun was shining when we left, but the wind was steady out of the northwest making small pieces of litter dance across the parking lot like urban tumbleweeds.
We ate lunch and headed home for a long overdue nap on the couch. I dozed lightly and woke up when my deep relaxation MP3 ended. 
Normally when I wake up and stir, Jilda wakes up too, but on treatment days she's usually so beat that she's just a tick away from being in a coma. So this afternoon, I tiptoed into the office to keep from waking her. I spent some time sending out invoices.
After about an hour, my eyes grew tired, and as I stood to stretch, I rubbed my eyes realizing too late, that I was wearing my contacts, and I felt my left one roll. 
I almost said a wordy-durd. I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped on Jilda's makeup mirror which has one side that made my nose look as big as a banana. I pulled the lid up a little and there that bugger was rolled up like a tiny glass straw. 
I managed to ease it out without scratching my eye. Note to self - NEVER rub eyes when I'm wearing contacts.
On a lighter note, we have a couple gigs this weekend. We're playing a songwriter event at the Raspberry Bakery and on Saturday, I'm signing books at the Book Nook. 
I've been exchanging emails with a reporter down there, so hopefully she'll get a story in the paper tomorrow or Friday.
It should be a hoot, so if y'all are out and about around Sylacauga, stop by and say hello. Check the calendar on  for more details.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Doggie Apologies

I sat down tonight, tapped in the title of this entry, cracked my knuckles, and found the home keys when our lights flickered once......then again......I looked up at the light fixture on the ceiling just before the lights went dark as a moonless night. But just before the electrons evaporated into the ether, I noticed  ivy and gardenia blossoms on the light cover that Jilda hand painted years ago. I thought to myself, I don't look at the ceiling nearly enough.
All of a sudden we're in pitch black, the only light in our house was my computer screen, which thanks to a UPS (uninterrupted power supply), had about five minutes of life before it too faded to darkness.
I scrambled to save all my work and shut the computer down gracefully.
I fumbled in the dark for my backpack and felt my way to the side pocket where I keep a Swiss Army penlight. I screwed the beam on and went in search of our battery powered lantern.
We're power outages warriors now. I've railed against the power company for years, but to deaf ears. We live in a rural area, almost at the end of a ragged leg of power. We've complained that our power goes off when squirrels fart, but call center people take a dim view of my humor and can't seem to find a box in which to put "squirrel fart". Go figure.
About an hour later, the lights came back on. where was I? Oh yes, doggie apologies.
Today was the day for Caillou's annual checkup. For new readers, Caillou is our rescued collie that came to live with us a couple years ago.
This afternoon when Jilda headed off to work, I called Caillou outside. He loves walking and follows me around like a summertime shadow, but he must have sensed that I wanted to take him to the vet because he became elusive.
I finally managed to grab his collar and lead him to the truck and he wouldn't get in no matter how convincingly I coaxed. I finally had to pick him up and put him in the front seat.
On the way to the vet's office he laid his head in my lap and looked up at me with sad eyes. "Daddy, please don't put me down. I'll be good. I promise." I kept petting him and talking reassuringly.
We we got the the vet's office but while closing the truck door, he jumped out of the cab before I could grab his collar. I thought he'd be halfway home but instead he ran a few feet away and turned to look at the building.
I squatted down and called him over to me and he came. I clipped the leash on his collar and we walked in.
They called us back to a room  immediately, but they left the door open. Caillou sat between my legs and listened intently. In the next room, a dog was moaning as if the vet were lashing off a paw.
Caillou looked up at me as if to say, "I'm sorry I did my business on the walking trail, and I promise I'll never dig in the flower beds again!"
One of the vet tech's in training stepped into the room with his annual shots and put them on his chart. I said "See there, she doesn't look mean." Caillou didn't look consoled. In fact, he buried his long snout between my legs and I cupped my hands over his ears to drown out the sound of moaning critters.
When it came our turn, the vet, who is a woman and a good friend, sat on the floor and petted Caillou for a long while before giving him his annual shots. I don't think he realized he'd gotten shots.
I paid the tab, and were on the way home. I stopped by a convenience store and bought him a Slim Jim.
When we got home, he jumped out of the truck and it was as if a weight had been lifted. I'm guessing he knew immediately that he'd over apologized, and it would be a good idea to watch my step when I walk tomorrow. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

We have a lot of visitors

We have a lot of visitors at our house. They usually arrive just after daylight and sit patiently in the front yard waiting for us to arise.

I probably should explain that we live in a modified A-Frame with windows that reach from floor upwards 14 feet to the ceiling in our great room which makes it easy to see our visitors coming. 

I always get up first to start the coffee and sit on the couch to check my email and scan the morning news. 

As I yawn through my inbox, deleting junk mail and sorting the things that need a reply, I can see our visitors through the windows. Dixie and Rebel, two bulldogs that belong to our neighbors across the street, are the first visitors of the day. 

Dixie is the female and she looks like the dog in “The Little Rascals,” if you’re old enough to remember that iconic show.

The dogs are not that interested in me, but the moment they hear Jilda’s feet touch the floor, they get excited.

When she comes into the great room, even before she takes a sip of coffee, she reaches into a box of doggy treats we keep on the buffet, opens the door and tosses the dogs a morning treat. They take their booty and scurry back across the road to their house.

After the dogs leave, the yard becomes animated with doves, wrens and redbirds. There are three kinds of woodpeckers that come to feed on the suet we keep on the feeders. One is not much bigger than a sparrow; one is about the size of a blue jay, and the other is a wood hen. When she drops out of the top of a pine to get some suet, the other birds scatter like mice when the cat shows up.

Depending upon what time of year it is, we have other birds as well. Right now we have yellow and purple finches that are in a feeding frenzy on the feeder just outside our window.

Once when our great niece Breeze visited us, it was feeding time. Not only was the yard full of birds, but also a half dozen squirrels showed up to munch on corn we leave out for the critters. Breeze said, “This looks like a fairytale.”

We haven’t seen much of the deer since hunting season, but they visit every night. We can tell because the birdbath is often empty and the bottoms of the bird feeders are as clean as if they’d gone through the dishwasher.

This summer I plan to do some landscaping in the front yard and add some more feeders, bird baths, and a stone bench so that we can sit outside when the weather’s nice.

Some people point out that keeping feed in the feeders, corn for squirrels, and treats for dogs that aren’t ours is expensive. It’s hard to argue with that, but Jilda and I both have vocations that involve a great deal of creative work. 

If watching nature puts us into a frame of mind that fosters creativity, then I consider the money well spent. Plus, we love our daily visitors.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

What Stories Would You Tell

The blog post from last night gave me food for thought today. Years ago when I recorded my grandmother, she talked freely for an hour about her life with my grandfather. When I asked her about how things were back during their youth, she reached for a tin of  Bruton Snuff she kept on a small end table next to her recliner, she tapped out what looked like tobacco dust into the lid, pinched her bottom lip away from her gum and emptied the snuff inside, before she began to talk.
The stories flowed effortlessly and without much thought. Some might have considered censoring the stories for grandkids, but she never did. I guess she was at a point in her life when it seemed silly to suger coat what happened. 
As she began to talk, she'd get a far-away look in her eye as if she were traveling back in time and recounting the stories in real time. It was mesmerizing.
Today I found myself wondering if I would be so eloquent in the "winter of my life." What stories would I tell? I feel like I've always thought that Jilda and I have done a fair share of living, but when you stand them beside the stories of our parents and grandparents, my stories seem a little thin by comparison.
Maybe the way we view the lives of our forefathers is skewed by progress. A few years ago the country was in dire straights financially, but even when the talking heads were saying we were headed down the toilet, I never worried about our next meal. That wasn't the case with my parents. 
I can remember when our black and white RCA television had to be slapped smartly on the side the get the picture to come on, but my mom and dad couldn't even afford a radio the first 15 years of their marriage. Kids today cannot fathom that.
So it stands to reason, our stories will be different. But with the march of time, and the speed of technology, maybe our stories will seem as rich as those told to us by our elders.
I'm not sure, but it's something to think about.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Telling Stories

Willie Watson
I had the good sense many years ago to invest in a cassette recorder. At that time they were as big as microwave ovens and almost as expensive, but somehow I knew it was important to have one.
With that marvel of technology in hand, I went back to the place where I was born and interviewed old friends, neighbors, and members of my family.
Maybe they trusted me, I'm not sure, but I had a knack for making people feel comfortable. They all opened up and told me their stories. I heard intimate details of their lives that I'd never heard before.
I came across a recording of my grandmother recently that I'd made over 20 years ago. She told how my grandpa made moonshine back during the depression. He was bad to drink, but he also managed to keep the family fed by making whiskey and selling it to business people throughout the county.
He often left her and the four kids alone at night while he walked deep into the woods on moonless nights with 50 pound sacks of yeast and sugar on his back. The yeast and sugar were components that made the whiskey.
One night my grandmother Willie heard footsteps crunching the brown autumn leaves in the front yard. She and my grandpa had a signal worked out so she'd know that he was approaching in the night.
That night there was no signal, so she silently slipped out of bed barefoot. She said the heart-pine floors were cold as ice on her feet as she eased into the front room.
She kept an unbreached 410 gauge shotgun by the door with a load of buckshot in the barrel. She heard the timbers on the front porch squeak under the weight of someone. It was so quiet she could hear the ancient clock ticking on the mantel.
She remembered calling, almost in a whisper, "Charlie". When there was no answer, she grasped the  handle of the shotgun with the barrel of the gun on the hardwood floor and clicked the barrel into a breached position which makes it ready to fire. For those who have never heard a single-shot shotgun being breached, let's just say, there is no mistaking what comes next.
The intruder leap off the porch and ran for dear life. My grandma kicked the door open and fired a shot in the direction of the crunching leaves.
I remember becoming so engrossed in her story that I forgot about the recorder. I couldn't believe I'd captured that on tape.
Tonight Jilda and I watched a documentary on Katherine Tucker Windham. She is a remarkable woman who lived in Selma, Alabama. She was a newspaper reporter and reported during the civil rights era in Selma which was ground zero for that movement.
Later in her life, she became a master story teller. When she died in 2011, Alabama lost a treasure. Watching that documentary reminded me of this story about my family that I recorded all those years ago, and I wondered how much of the oral history of our lives has been lost because for some reason, we didn't capture it. I wish I'd done more.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Life is Funny

If there's one thing I've learned in my years here on this earth is that life is funny. I may be a little twisted, but I see humor in the oddest things. I often laugh when no one else is laughing and then I get all self conscience and blushy-faced.
I tend to think that we all take ourselves too seriously. I think 9/11 has changed us all for the worse. It's horrible losing almost 3000 people, but the toll on the national psyche was even more devastating because to some extent, we lost our ability to trust, and to laugh.
There's a new meme that's gone viral now called the Harlem Shake. Some college kids on the Colorado University Frisbee Team got permission from the flight deck to do a short video of passengers doing the Harlem Shake, and now FAA officials are "Looking In To" the incident. What's the deal with that.
Some kids trying to have fun. They get permission to do their thing, and now the FAA wants to bust their chops. I say learn to smile folks. 
As attacks go, 9/11 could have been much worse. Had the timing been a little later, the death toll could have been much higher. Believe me, I'm not trying to minimize the loss of that horrific day, but if we lose our ability to smile at a bunch of fun-loving kids doing what kids do, I fear the impact been even more devastating?
I choose not to give power to those who want to do us harm....because, Life is Funny.

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