Monday, September 30, 2013

Postcard day

Today was like a postcard. An early morning sprinkle escorted cooler weather through Empire, but after lunch the clouds moved off to the east, and for a time the sun drifted lonely through the sky.
As I sat on the back deck thinking about life and what not, a horsetail cloud inched its way across the sky.
I pulled my iPhone from my pocket, selected the Hipstamatic photo app and shot this photograph.
This last day of September was a productive one for me. I had a lot of things to do, but I'd made a list earlier as I sipped coffee on the couch.
Then things just clicked and I ticked through my list like a machine.
One of the items on the list was to come up with a topic for my column this week so I wouldn't waste time on Wednesday when I normally write it.
As it turns out, Jilda gave me a great idea about Why I like October. When she left for work after lunch, I sat on the screen porch and wrote the column.
I'm so happy with myself that I'm going fishing in the morning. I'll wear my "Fish Fear Me" T-shirts for good luck.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Every Day's A School Day

I just glanced at my blog statistics and this entry is number 2900. If someone had told me that I'd be blogging every day for almost eight years (it will be eight years on December 1), I would not have believed them.
It's not that I don't stick with projects. My college education is a perfect example. I went to school, on and off, since 1968.
I earned my Bachelor of Business degree in 1991 and a few years later, I entered graduate school and finished my Masters in 1997, a mere 29 years after I began college.
But blogging is a little different. It's constant learning, without a graduation date.
I thought my college work was good, but I never learned the fine art of written communication until I began blogging. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
As I've said before, every day's a school day. Happy Blogging. I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Below is a photograph I took this morning and ran through the Photoshop Oil Paint filter. Someone asked me recently what my original photos looked like. I'll add the one I shot this morning below.

Oil Paint Filter Purple Flower With Goldenrod

Original Purple Flower With Goldenrod

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The ending of the day

Jilda and I worked for most of the day on artwork, liner notes, and a dedication for our CD. We have everything recorded and I'll get the final copies from Fred, our producer in the morning, and I'll upload the files.
My legs were stiff and my back ached, even though I'd spent a good deal of time stretching. There's something about extended intense focus that takes it out of me.
I decided to spend the waning hours of the day, finishing up on the grass. The mower worked flawlessly.
I made a turn in the lower part of the garden and saw the sun backlighting some goldenrod. When the angle was right, I pushed in the clutch, pulled the camera from my pocket and shot this photo.
It was a great ending of the  day....well, that and my team won tonight. 
I hope you all have a blessed Sabbath.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A matter of principal

My riding lawn mower is an antique by today's standards. I bought it in 2004 and it's served me well, but each year I have to put money into maintaining it.
Last week a loud grinding sound was emanating from one of the blades. I was almost through cutting, so I just parked it, and went inside for supper.
I know from experience that noises like that usually are not quick fixes, so I dreaded beginning work on it.
When the weather is scorching hot, and dry as the Sahara, ignoring the lawnmower would not be a problem, but Alabama has been like a tropical rainforest this spring and summer, so my grass is growing like Kudzu.
When it got to the point that I either had to fix it, or buy goats, I put on my coveralls and dove in. When I laid down on the ground, reached under the mower and checked the tension of the blades, one of them spun like a pinwheel. Hmmm, I thought. That's not right.
I removed the old part and headed to the parts store. I decided to get new blades while I was there and when I got home I fixed the defective spindle. When I went to install the new blades on the other spindle, I realized it had the same problem as the one I'd just replaced.
So, back to the parts store I go and drop another $60 for another spindle. This time I decided to get a new belt so that all the undercarriage would be new.
I installed the second spindle and the new belt. When I cranked it up, it sputtered a little (a totally different issue) but then seem to do OK.
A few rounds around the yard and I started smelling hot rubber. Then the new $20 belt broke and slung out the side like clipped grass. Well damn I thought (excuse my, well that's not French, but excuse my language).
A little more investigation revealed another pulley had frozen up. The mower had been hard on belts this summer so this issue predated the one that started this journey.
I went BACK to the parts store and bought a new pulley, and another belt. After installation, I cranked up and made a few rounds and it cut perfectly........then it sputtered to a stop.
Apparently I'd broken one of the fuel lines when I removed the gas tank (three times). I got BACK IN THE TRUCK AND WENT BACK TO THE PARTS STORE, where I bought new fuel lines, and filters.
By this time I was on a mission. I was not going to let a piece of garden equipment whip me. It was a matter of principal.
I calmly replaced the parts, and then went inside for a glass of water. I looked out the window at the lawnmower sitting there in the shade.
I set my jaw, went back outside and climbed onto the beast and turned the switch. It sprang to life and I cut grass for two hours.
Sometimes I think the Good Lord puts obstacles in your way just to test your metal. I like to think that He/She's smiled as I mowed the fields this afternoon.

Below is my mandavilla, which finally decided to bloom this summer.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The beach

I woke this morning thinking about the beach. It's been too long since we've been. We plan to go in November for the Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival.
We applied to play this year along with several of our songwriting buddies. Most of them received a "Thanks, But No Thanks" letter, but we haven't received one which we choose to take as a positive sign.
We've played there twice before. Once in in 2001, and again in 2010.  I took the picture below the last time we played there.
I'm worn a little thin tonight, so I'm making my update short. I hope you all have a great Friday, and weekend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sleep on it

I was beginning to panic about my column this week which is due by lunch tomorrow. Normally I have it written on Monday and simply do a read over and tweak on Wednesday.
But today I still didn't have a clue about what to write. Jilda knows me like a book and suggested that I meditate with the intention of finding an idea.
It's advice I've given out before but had not tried for myself. As I meditated, I kept repeating to myself, I'll have an idea, I'll have and idea. I had to run an errand after I meditation and forgot about writing for a while.
This morning when I woke up my mind was a little fuzzy, but I stumbled into the kitchen and hit the brew button on the coffee pot, and then tossed some cold water on my face at the sink.
I then walked into my office and pulled out an old journal at random and flipped through until I found an entry for September, 25.
The journal was from 1999 and the entry was written in San Francisco where Jilda and I along with her sister Pat had flown for a vacation.
We were playing at the Napa Valley Songwriter Festival and her sister went along because she'd never been to California.
All of a sudden, my column for this week wrote itself.
Here is a photo that has nothing to do with this column, but I always like to have one because it shows up better on Blogfeed :)
Y'all have a remarkable Thursday.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The color of autumn

When we checked the weather last night we saw a blob of of green and yellow inching its way through Mississippi toward us. It wasn't nasty weather, just more rain.
So this morning, we drank our coffee and headed out on our walk before it moved in. Down at the back of the barn I noticed the sun peeking through a bank of grey clouds and highlighted a bush there.
It's called a beauty-berry bush. I'm not sure if that's the real name, but it's the one passed on to us by our parents and grandparents.
It has clusters of berries that look like tiny grapes. They're a different shade of purple than that of grapes, but the color is stunning.
I snapped a quick photo before the sun ducked behind the clouds. I love the color of autumn. A new show will debut each day over the coming months. It might not be as beautiful, as places in the Rockies, or the Northeast, but I think it's just grand.

The Richest Man

 The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least ~ Author Unknown.
In trying to find inspiration for an entry tonight, I came across this quote. Twenty years ago, this would not have resonated with me because I was in an accumulation mode.
Don't get me wrong, we still accumulate more than we probably should, but buying more stuff is not a reflex now.
Both Jilda and I have been working to reduce clutter, and we've made progress, but there is still a ways to go.
Our carpenter is scheduled to come this weekend to build shelves for our TV room. Once built, things should begin to come together in there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Old Tunnel ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

There’s a concrete tunnel under the railroad tracks on the road leading to the town of old Dora.

Growing up, it was the only passage from Sloss Hollow into town, unless you wanted to drive several
miles on a red-rock road to the new highway (I still call it that even though it was completed in the late 1950s), and then on to Dora.

Not much is left these days except brick, mortar and fallen timbers. Privets, kudzu and time have eaten away at most of the sites where the old buildings once stood.

Every now and then when I have time on my hands, I’ll drive down through the old town.

Recently I went to the Davis Cemetery to check on the graves of my mother and father, and on the way back, I decided to swing through the old tunnel.

Midway through, I instinctively tooted my horn as I’d done thousands of times before.

A long-forgotten memory flashed back like a rerun of “Andy Griffith.”

Mr. Arwine lived in a small house just on the other side of the tunnel. In thinking back, I’m not sure how he managed to keep his sanity because everybody tooted their horn as they drove through.

The acoustics of the tunnel acted like a megaphone, and when cars with busted mufflers drove through it, they roared louder than a Phantom Jet at takeoff.

I know this for a fact because I went to see him one sunny autumn afternoon.

He was a master craftsman specializing in rebuilding generators for old car. He’d rewind the copper in generators with great care, bringing obsolete auto parts back to life.

When the generator on my 1946 Plymouth died, buying a new one wasn't an option.

I started parking the old car on hills and other places where I could roll it off, pop the clutch and crank the beast.

Once when I did that, it didn't crank, and none of my buddies were around to help me push it off, so I decided to get it fixed.

I got up early on Saturday, pulled the tools from the trunk and loosened the two bolts holding the oily generator on.

The part was about the size of a loaf of bread but felt as heavy as an anvil in my hand.

I borrowed my mom's Buick and headed down to Mr. Arwine's house.

As we stood in his shop talking, one of my friends came through the tunnel in a souped up Ford. He punched in the clutch and revved the motor. The sound echoed out of the tunnel and off the hills and hollows around the old town. Before he exited, he blew his horn.

It was a ritual repeated all day and all night, according to Mr. Arwine.

Apparently he'd learned to tune it out, like the freight trains that blew for the Dora Crossing.

After about an hour of sitting in the corner and watching him work as delicately as a watchmaker, he pronounced the generator fixed. I paid him a few dollars and headed home to put the Plymouth back together. It worked like a champ. It was still working in 1971 when the Army drafted me into service.

After the state completed highway 78, all the businesses began to flee the old part of town and move to the new highway.

These days about the only people who drive through the old tunnel and through the old town are people taking a side trip down memory lane.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Slim Pickin's

Slim pickin's would be a good way to describe my post tonight. We had friends come over this
afternoon for a shrimp boil. 
We ate shrimp till we almost spewed, and then had a helping of Jilda's Chocolate Cherry Trifle. Yum.
Afterwards we drank coffee and to borrow a phrase from a Dan Fogelberg song, we talked until our tongues were tired.
When they left, I stepped down to dump a scoop of corn out for the deer and shot yet another photo of our patch of old maids.
Y'all have a great week to come. Let's all do something remarkable.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Some things are worth waiting for

It's almost apple-picking time here. Most people around began harvesting apples in late July and on through August.
One of my neighbors brought us a half bushel of apples last month and had a little fun at my expense over my crop. 
We peeled his apples and made pies and put some up for the winter. They were quite tasty, but our apples are the best I've ever eaten.
They crunch when you sink your teeth into them and juice that is both tart and sugar sweet, squirts down your chin. I cannot eat one of our apples without smiling.
They reach their prime about the second week of October.
The last few years have been lean because of the weather. Two years ago when the tornadoes raked through our area, it blew the blossoms off our tree. This past year we also had violent storms that came just as the trees were setting blossoms.
But this year, it just rained. I think all the moisture has lessened the yield, but the ones that make it through should be as sweet as ever.
I'll let you know at apple-pickin' time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer's almost gone

I sat on the screen porch this morning drinking coffee while Jilda updated her day planner. The ceiling fan whirred overhead and I got a little chilled. It hasn't been much of a summer here.
Yes there were days it got steamy, but compared to other summers it would be difficult to make a case for global warming.
But what the summer has lacked in sunshine, it made up for it with butterflies. I've seen more beautiful butterflies this summer that I can ever remember.
This evening as the sun waned, I stepped to the shed and scooped a pint of corn from the feed can, and
headed toward the apple tree.
I stood for a moment at the edge of the garden, which has pretty much gone to weeds because of all the rain, to enjoy the last few moments of sunlight.
As I stood there, a swallowtail butterfly flitted up and almost landed on the cup I was holding. I stood still as a post. At the last moment, it opted for an old maid.
I pulled out my trusty iPhone and snapped this photo.
I'm not sure what I did before I got my iPhone. But there's a very good chance I would not have thrown my camera over my shoulder when I went out to feed the deer this evening, so I would have missed this photo, as well as most of the photos I've used on this blog over the past several years.
Tomorrow is the last day of summer and the weatherman says it will rain for most of the day. I guess that's fitting.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I've worked on lawn mowers and farm equipment all day. It's been been a day of triumph and turmoil.
Just as I was getting ready for a victory boogie dance in the back yard, I discovered another issue.
I turned sullen and a little snippy, so I thought it was about time to call it a day.
I realized I had not shot a blog photo today, so I looked back through the archives and found one. I call it Reflections.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Red Berries in Autumn

My Aunt Edna had a Pyracantha bush growing next to her front porch. When we visited her house, I
spent most of the time on her porch.
The heart-pine planks were grey as a gun barrel, and they always smelled freshly painted. She also had the Coke man deliver cases of soft drinks to her house each week and she stored the empties on her front porch.
She also had a bench swing that hung on one end of her porch, and is squeaked rhythmically as I swung back and forth.
In autumn, the huge Pyracantha bush put on berries as thick as grapes. For some reason, it made me think of Christmas. The birds loved the bush as much as I did.
I'm not sure this plant that I found behind the barn is a Pyracantha, but when scanning back through my photographs searching for one to post tonight, I came across it, and my thoughts turned to my Aunt Edna.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The places I write

Tomorrow's treatment day for Jilda, so I'll be in the cafeteria at the hospital for most of the day. I take my laptop and claim a table near the back, close to a wall outlet.
I take my headphones and shove them knuckle deep into my ears, which allows me to sink into silence.
I then select music that I think the muse will enjoy. Some of the best columns I've written over the last two years were written at that table.
I've become accustomed to the ebb and flow of hospital life. Some times when my fingers type too fast and it takes my mind a moment to catch up, I'll look up into the faces of the people around me. Most take no notice of me, but I often get a sense of how their story is playing out by the looks on their faces.
Some people get good reports and it seems they're almost glowing. For others, when the news is not so good, it's written on their faces.
At any rate, I have an idea for this weeks column and that's half the battle. I'll share it with you after it runs next Monday.
Here's a photo of late summer grass.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Things we love ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Among the clouds
When I was a kid, I used to lie on my back on the small grassy knoll near our house in West Pratt and
look at the sky on warm autumn days.

I took time to look at each passing cotton-candy cloud to determine what they looked like.

The longer I pondered, the more interesting they became. I saw tall sailing ships, dragons and dogs. My favorite thing to find hidden in the clouds was wild horses with flowing manes and feathery tails.

Some people probably thought it a waste of time, but I think it built my imagination muscle.

All I know is that I loved doing it, and still do, but I rarely take the time these days.

I started thinking about this today when the idea for this column eased into my mind like the morning sun peeking through a veil of fog.

Why is it that when I get older, I tend to find more time to schedule, plan, and work, but find less time to do the things I love?

I’m paraphrasing the motivational speaker Jim Rohn, when I say I’m spending too much time making a living and not enough time making a life.

There are so many things I love but never get around to doing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too old, and sometimes I worry that someone will think I’m stupid.

Every time I dance, I always feel like I look goofy, but on the dance floor, people are lost in the the moment. They could care less how I look.

People love to dance, but we can’t seem to find the time to go.

Jilda and I found time to do one of our favorite things when we visited our friends Wes and Deidra this past weekend. We had scheduled a gig in south Alabama at Just Folk Coffee House in Elba and we spent the weekend with them.

Deidra is a marvelous cook and she'd whipped up a batch of Slutty Brownies (not sure where the name came from) for us to enjoy during our visit.

On Saturday night after the gig, we got to their house around 9 p.m. and she asked if anyone wanted a Slutty Brownie and some ice cream.

My waist is expanding at a rate greater than the national debt, and dessert is the last thing I need, but I couldn’t say no.

She heated the brownies in the microwave oven and then scooped a generous helping of vanilla ice cream on top.

I closed my eyes and leaned down close to smell the aroma of warm chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with the ice cream.

When is the last time you ate something so decadent that it made you giggle?

If Jilda had not been there with me, I would have felt like I was cheating on her.

When we get to the end of our lives, I doubt we'll fret much about work we left undone, business ventures we missed out on, or that we had to let our belt loops out an extra notch now and then, but I would not be surprised if we remembered the fun times we’ve had with people we love.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A visit from the Tooth Fairy

We had another picture perfect day here today. Just before lunch I got a call from my great nephew Jordan telling me he'd lost a front tooth.
He had mixed emotions about losing the tooth, but he was happy the tooth fairy had left him money, and "she let me keep the tooth." I could tell he considered this a coup.
We were about to head out to have lunch but he said he wasn't feeling well but though a red and blue snow cone would make him feel better.
I shot this photo out on the back porch with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Waning Summer

I sat out on the back deck early this afternoon and spent time admiring the late summer sky. When thunderstorms stomped through a few days ago, it swept the haze from the air and gave the earth a nice cool drink of water.
Today the clouds looked as if they'd been spray painted on a blue canvas. The breeze was cool on my face and I could tell the birds and other wildlife are making plans for autumn.
They can't really use temperature here in the south, because it can be warm enough to swim when a lot
of folks are snow skiing, but they know. I'm guessing it's the angle of the diminishing light.
It felt good to sit outside and watch the dogs frolic.
I shot this photo of a neighbor's barn a few weeks ago. Sitting in the field, it looks like a painting from the turn of the last century.
Y'all have a great Sunday.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Game on

I took pictures at my first high school football game of the year tonight. It was muggy at game time, but a non-volatile cold front moved through, and the temp dropped significantly.
Tomorrow I'll post the photos to I take as many of the cheerleaders, the band and the crowd as I do the players in the game.
I love to watch young kids in the stands get swept up in the sights, sounds and smells of a high school football game.
I left early because I have a long day tomorrow.
On the way home, a young deer freaked in my headlights and instead of running away,she darted in front of the truck.
Fortunately it happens often enough that I was prepared, and braked to let her scoot into the underbrush.
It was too dark and it happened too fast to get a photo, but I had a photograph I shot a few days ago of a young deer feeding on the corn we leave each afternoon under our apple tree.
Have a great weekend, and if you're a college football fan, I hope your team wins....unless of course you are a Texas A&M fan :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chasing the sun

I love contrails on jet planes that are chasing the sun.
When I think of how super rich people spend their time, I often imagine them boarding private LearJets laden with cases of expensive champagne, and tanned people named Bif and Bev who are wearing tennis outfits, and laughing as if they didn't have a care in the world, except to make it to their destination while the sun was still shining.
I often wonder what I'd do if I had enough money to leave my troubles behind and chase the sun.
The thing is, money doesn't keep you from having problems. Some problems are easier to manage with a pocket full of cash, but all the money in the world can't buy you true love, or another second of life when your time comes.
But if you had money, health and the love of a good partner, chasing the sun would be a fun way to spend an afternoon.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A peaceful place

When I drive to Birmingham, I often take the back roads. Well, since I live on a backroad, it would be impossible to get to town without taking one, but still, I rarely take the fastest, most heavily traveled route.
I've crossed this bridge many times and I always slow down long enough to look at the water. It's a
small tributary of the Locust Fork that empties into the Warrior River.
The reason I slow to look, is that it's shallow enough in places to fly fish. Last week, on my return trip from Birmingham, I found my afternoon schedule thin, so on impulse, I pulled to the wide place at the edge of the bridge and walked down a path that led to the water.
The river was shallow enough that you could hear the rushing sound of water against  stone. I found a dry rock as big as a steamer trunk, so I sat there on the bank for a long while.
Every now and then I'd hear a passing car rumble across the bridge, but when the man-made noise faded into the distance, the gurgling sound of water and wildlife returned.
It's a peaceful place. It's my intention to go there early enough to wet a hook, and maybe catch dinner. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ordinary things

Life if full of ordinary things...things you don't consider. It's a self-preservation mechanism that keeps
the brain from blowing a fuse.
As a processor, the brain, which misses no sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch, quickly evaluates things and puts them into a category.
Pretty woman, nice hair
Airplane, heading west
CopperheadedRattleMoccasin ....... RUN!!!!!!
It's easy to fall into a trap and believe that life is dull and uninteresting.
We as writers, musicians, and artists much challenge those beliefs.
The trick is to look at ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
Like most folks, I struggle with that, but modern technology and software, gives us opportunities that artists 20 years ago never had.
The tools we now have gives us a chance to look at things in new and interesting ways.
I took this picture a few weeks ago on the patio at the clinic where Jilda takes her treatments.
It's a picture of the back of a deck chair and my water bottle in shade with potted planters across the way.
My mind skipped over the scene, by my artist self, reached into my pocket and pulled out my iPhone to shoot this photo.

Monday, September 09, 2013

A change in the weather

The weather this summer has been wacky, and with that wackiness (is that a word?) came a change in the behavior of birds and bugs.

The hummingbirds showed up late to begin feeding, and for some reason they didn’t have to compete with the yellow jackets for the sugar water in feeders just outside our front windows.

We’d pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that it would be too cool to swim this year, and then the rain moved off to the east. Soon it was hot enough to toast croissants on the bannisters of the back deck.

I made the mistake of taking my shirt off and sitting in one of our wrought-iron chairs to soak up a little sun. It only took a second to brand a patchwork of tiny squares onto my back.

Then yesterday morning, I awoke to what sounded like a low-flying jet passing overhead. As I lay there rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I realized the sound was rain on our metal roof.

I stumbled into the kitchen and flipped on the coffeemaker before stepping out to the screen porch. The wind out of the northwest was tinkling the chimes, and a gust blew a fine mist through the screen onto my face.

The gently flapping fan sent goose bumps up my arm so I stepped inside to flip the switch and let the blades coast to a stop before stepping back outside until the coffee was ready. The front moved through during the day, and the cool weather was back.

This morning when we headed out for our daily walk, it felt like autumn. Things had definitely changed….again.

Walking down our path to meditation rock is a leisurely stroll with the angle of the grade almost pushing you along. The trek back up the hill was a little more challenging for our cardiovascular workout.

When we passed in front of the barn my mind was a million miles away. I was thinking about music, life, and how to solve the pesky world peace issue.

We heard the dogs chasing something just off the trail, and then they came blazing by like their tails were on fire.

I heard Jilda say, something’s crawling on me. Before I could step back to check her out, she started swearing like a sailor in a bar fight.

I realized the critters on her arm were yellow jackets. I started slapping them off of her but not before a slew of them nailed her.

While trying to make sure she was jacket free, some flew up and stung me on my arm.

We had a consensus to cut our walk short and get something on the stings.

When I stepped inside, I felt something crawling on my neck. Before I could swat it off I got stung on the neck and between the fingers.

Yesterday evening my nephew Haven came up and just before dusk, he found the yellow-jacket nest, which was a few feet off the walking trail. Our paths might never have crossed had the dogs not discovered their nest and decided to investigate.

We are a live and let live kind of couple, but tonight there are a lot more yellow-jackets in bug heaven.

A photo I took at Lake Jackson this past weekend.
It has nothing to do with my post, but I love the photo:)

Sunday, September 08, 2013

How Long?

There are things we love. They may not be good for us, or we may not have time to do them, or we may think we're too old or that someone will think we're stupid, but we love them all the same.
When's the last time you laid on your back and looked at cotton-candy clouds floating on a sky as blue as an Irishman's eyes? Or when is the last time you ate something so decadent that it made you giggle?
Our friends Wes and Deidra were kind enough to invite us to stay with them when we came to south Alabama for our gig at Just Folk Coffee House in Elba, Alabama.
She is a marvelous cook and she'd whipped up a batch of Slutty Brownies (not sure where the name came from) for us to enjoy during our visit.
Last night after the gig, we got to their house around 9 p.m. and she asked if anyone wanted a Slutty Brownie and some ice cream.
I never want to be called a party pooper, so I said sure. She popped the brownies into the microwave to heat them up, and then scooped a generous helping of vanilla ice cream on top. If Jilda had not joined me, I would have felt like I was cheating on her.
When we get to the end of our lives, I doubt we'll fret much that we had to let out belt loops an extra notch now and then, but I would not be surprised if we remember the great times we had enjoying food with our friends.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


What if blue were pink and grey were green? How would this change the way we see the world. A swimming pool would look like a vat on lemonade, and grey skies would turn into puffy forrest in the sky.
So much of the way we feel about the world around us is based on color. We gauge the coming of summer by the angle of light and the subtle changes in the color green.
We know when someone is embarrassed when their face shines with pink, and we know it's autumn when the hills and hollows light up with a million shades of color that span the spectrum.
I accidentally hit a button on my Picasa app and turned this photo of the sea into a blog entry.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Outta of gas

Tonight I'm out of gas and don't have much to say. I've learned that from time to time that happens. 
Here's a picture of water and sky. 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Working with my hands

I was flipping through some old photographs trying to find something to use here tonight when I came across one of my grandpa Charlie.
He was good at many things. Most of his early years were spent scratching coal from the bowels of the earth and hauling it to the surface in wagons running on narrow-gauge rails, and pulled by mules.
In later years, he built those old mining cars for mine owners, in his back yard. He also made shoes for mining mules out of bars of steel.
My grandparents lived next door to us so every time I'd hear Pap fire up his kiln, I'd head over to watch.
He'd start by piling heart-pine kindling on his fire pit, and then he'd stack small lumps of coal around the flames.
Once the fire started, he'd flip on his blower which he salvaged from the hearter of an old Dodge Desota.
The blower supplied oxygen from the bottom of the kiln, and soon he had white-hot flames dancing on his work surface, which were perfect for forging horse shoes and hand-made tools.
I love my time with Pap and I think the time I spent with him helped me to enjoy working with my hands.
This picture has nothing to do with my grandpa, but it's one I came across and decided to do my Photoshop art on.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Old and forgotten

I drove through Old Dora a while back. There's not much there these days, but back in the late 50s and early 60s the place was abuzz.
There were about 20 stores, but there were all on one side of the street. There was a mercantile store, a dry goods store,  a furniture store, a drugstore, a barbershop, a bank and a church among other things.
On the other side of the street was a concrete retaining wall.
The railroad tracks were almost level with the tops of the buildings and the wall, which was grey as a tombstone, kept the tracks from washing into the streets during spring rains.
As a kid, I walked down that street hundreds of times and I don't recall every seeing anything painted on that wall. Occasionally there would be posters taped up there announcing the county fair, or some other event.
After all the businesses moved to the new highway (it was built in the mid-1960s, but it's still called the new highway), the town dried up and all the building fell into disrepair. These days most of them are nothing but brick and rubble.
But something interesting has evolved on the retaining wall. It's become a living canvas for graffiti. There were layers of faded paint many years old, and paint so fresh you could almost smell the lacquer.
I smiled when I looked at the things written there in a rainbow of paints. It  breathes a little bit of new life to something old and forgotten.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Dog Tale ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

I got a postcard in the mail a few weeks ago from the Red Barn Veterinarian clinic reminding me that it was time for Caillou’s annual checkup.

For new readers, Caillou is a collie that came to live with us in March of last year. Our great nephew Jordan’s favorite cartoon is about a young boy named Caillou so that’s what we named our new dog.

He’s a full-blooded dog and looks like the star of the TV show Lassie, which was popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

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’d rather have an eye gouged out with a sharp stick than ride in the truck.

He must have sensed that I wanted to take him “for a ride” because he became elusive.

I finally got close enough to snag his collar and lead him to the truck, but 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 pitiful eyes. “Daddy, please don't put me down. I'll be good. I promise. I won’t pull the pillows off the couch at night anymore.” I kept petting him and talking reassuringly, but he was convinced his days were numbered.

When I opened the door after arriving at the vet's office, he darted out of the cab before I could grab his collar. I thought he'd be halfway home before I could catch him, but instead he ran a few feet away and turned to look at me.

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, leaving the door open. Caillou sat between my legs and listened intently. In the next room, a dog was howling 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 was unconvinced and tried to crawl into my lap. I cupped my hands over his ears to drown out the sound of critters being tortured and maimed in the adjoining rooms.

When it came our turn, the vet, who is a good friend, sat on the floor and petted Caillou for a long while.

She swept her arms from his nose to tail and said to the vet tech in training, “now this is a typical collie.”

Like most dogs he loves being petted so he didn’t realized she'd given him shots.

I paid the tab, and soon we were on the way home. I stopped by a convenience store and bought him a Slim Jim, which for him, makes any unpleasant experience better.

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 for me to watch my step when I walk tomorrow. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Wacky Jupiter

I think Jupiter being in such close proximity to earth this week has affected my Mojo. A few weeks ago I had to swat ideas away like hummingbirds hitting hard cider.
But these last few nights ideas have been scarce.
Today as I sat on the screen porch and tapped keys, I decided to click on Stumble Upon. One of my search terms is Creativity.
The first click I stumbled across was a site on how to write better songs. The guy who wrote the piece suggested reading the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
He passed away recently, so I read his biography.
He left an impressive body of work.
One poem the article writer suggested was "Digging."
Some poetry is hard to wrap your mind around, but Heaney was known for writing in a style that made is work accessible to the common man.
His poem Digging, spoke to me.
Click here to read the short poem. There is a button that allows you to hear the poem being read by Heaney.
Simply beautiful.
I can almost feel my Mojo coming back in spite of that wacky Jupiter.  

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Grass Fields

Saturday we took our great nephew Jordan to Campbell Field for lunch. Campbell Field is a small meat and three restaurant out in the boonies.
It's not much different than small restaurants all across the country except that it's situated at the edge of one of the few grass landing strips for small planes in the south.
The place is an attraction in that it serves good food, but the grass strip is a novelty for diners and pilots of small planes.
It's not uncommon to be sitting there eating lunch and see a small aircraft floating down toward the field like a feather.
The pilots hop out of the cockpit and walk over to the restaurant and have lunch before flying back
home, where ever that is.
Before we ordered, I walked across the county road separating the restaurant from the landing strip to give Jordan a better look at the small planes. He was fascinated.
I wish a hungry pilot had flown in for lunch, but that didn't happen yesterday.
That's OK, it will give us an excuse to go up to Campbell Field again.

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