Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bob was right

Jilda and I have never had children. There's a story there but I'll leave it till another day.
But we've had the good fortune to live next door to Jilda's brother for most of our lives.
He, on the other hand, had three kids which we helped to shape into young adults. These three have also all had children.
Samantha is the youngest of his three children and she still lives at home. Jordan, who I speak of often is her 5-year-old son.
All the great nieces and nephews are special to us, but he lives next door and we see him almost daily.
He and his mom had cabin fever today, so they came over to walk the path to the barn to get some exercise.
I'd stepped down to get the mail at the same time they began their walk so I snapped this picture with my phone.
I can't believe how grown he looks in this picture.
It seems like a moment ago he was an infant that resembled the Buddha.
What's different between Jordan and the rest of our great nieces and nephews is that proximity has given me an opportunity, to document his young life in photographs.
I could post so many that you'd feel like a hostage at Aunt Mildred's house watching her three-thousand vacation pictures from her trip to Branson, Missouri....but I won't do that.
Still, sitting here tonight looking at this photograph, I can't help feeling a little like I'm stuck in some twisted time warp where the past melts into the future.
I could use a tired cliche, but Bob Dylan said it about as well as it can be said:
Life is a jet plane, it moves too fast.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Good to be alive

The wind over the last few days has been something. This morning when we walked, we saw a limb as big as my leg that had fallen next to the barn.
Apparently, it was a dead limb just waiting for a stiff wind to make its exit. I'm glad it didn't fall on the
barn because it would have knocked a hole big enough to toss a pig through.
I needed some dry wood for the fire pit so this afternoon when Jilda went to work, I grabbed the chainsaw, cut the limb into short lengths and hauled it back to the house in the wheelbarrow.
The sun was out, and the wind out of the north wasn't too bad, but it was cool enough to make a fire in the pit sound good.
The dry hickory burned slowly and the soft crackling sound almost hypnotized me. I stepped inside and fetched my laptop.
I sat for a long time and did some writing by the fire.
After a while, I heard a giggling sound come around the side of the house.
My five year old great nephew Jordan came over with his mom to see what we were doing.
He helped me stack wood for a while before grabbing the tennis ball and playing fetch with Caillou, and his dog Lady. They had a large time and I had a great time just watching them play.
It felt good to be alive.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I rarely think of our house as being small, but it seemed a little small today. We had twenty two over for Thanksgiving Dinner (lunch) and it was cozy.
The house was in pretty good shape, so this morning over coffee Jilda and I plotted out what each of us would to to make ready for our guests.
It was touch and go for a while due to s bout of dizziness that hit Jilda but she's a trooper.
I called our niece Jayna who is also a cook extraordinaire. She was on the guest, but I picked her up a little earlier so she could help with last minute cooking. Things were fine when people started arriving.
It was a remarkable afternoon. People lingered to laugh and talk.
I'm thankful for this day and I feel truly blessed to have such remarkable friends and family.
I hope you all had a day to remember.
Our front door taken this past spring

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beautiful Thanksgiving Eve

I heard sleet ticking on the tin roof before dawn this morning. Most of the weatherfolk predicted precip, and I half expected snow on the ground this morning when I rolled out of bed.
I wiped sleep from my eyes with my knuckles and staggered into the kitchen. I'd prepared the coffeemaker last night so I poked the brew button, and fiddled with my glasses until things came into focus before stepping out onto the deck. It hadn't snowed, but dark ice as thick as a Hershey Bar clung to the steps on the deck.
The clouds had moved off to the east, and I could tell we'd have sunshine this morning for a change. I
crept back into the bedroom and silently slipped on my shoes without waking the spousal unit.
Collecting the wilted grapes and leftover carrot sticks, I stepped out to check on the chickens. Last night I sealed their roost and turned on their heater so they'd have a cozy sleep.
The second the grapes hit the ground they were off the roost and out the door. They love surprises.
I put out fresh food and water before stepping outside the pen.
The wind out of the north sent chill bumps racing up my arm, and the air was so crisp it almost burned my nasal passage, but it felt good.
When I looked out over the garden, I realized the wind over the last few days had stripped most of the color from the trees, leaving a web of limbs silhouetted against the morning sky.
A couple of maple trees at the edge of the garden were still in color, but one of them had color only on one side.
Sliding my hand into my pocket, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and snapped this photo.
I stood for a long while trying to absorb every ounce of beauty the morning had to offer.
I blew out a cloud of breath which chased off to the east, and then I headed inside to wake the wife and sip coffee on this beautiful Thanksgiving eve.
I hope you all have a remarkable holiday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Cameras are remarkable tools. I can't imagine life without pictures. I'm sure before pictures, poets and writers were well equipped to describe scenes in detail so intricate that listeners could close their eyes and feel the sun their faces and the wind off the ocean in their hair.
But the common man (or woman) could only scrunch up their eyes and say, "dang it shore was purdy on the beach today."
Then in 1826 (or 27) Joseph Nicéphore Niépce shot this photograph from his upstairs window in the Burgundy region of France.
I'm not sure Joe knew it, but he started a revolution on that day.
I'd be willing to bet that he never realized the impact the photograph would have on the world.
Cameras and photography have come a long way in the years since this picture was taken.
We have photographs taken of earth from space, and I read a piece today about how a photograph in Life Magazine in September of 1943 of three American soldiers lying dead in the sand on Buna Beach in the South Pacific, is credited with changing the course of WWII.
I'm not sure there are words that could describe either of these things.
A few years ago, Steve Jobs got the bright idea to turn phones into digital cameras capable of taking incredible photographs. This, in itself was a quantum leap for the technology, because most people walk around with a great camera in their pocket.
I bet Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is somewhere out there smiling to himself poking the other angels saying, "Hey, I got the ball rolling with this stuff."
The beach in January with my iPhone.
Thanks Joseph Nicéphore Niépce 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Army

I was in the Army in November of 1971. My duty station was just outside New York City, which was about a million miles from home, or so it seemed.

Back then, the military hadn’t gone all volunteer so they still paid slave wages to privates, and I couldn’t afford a plane ticket home. 

For the first time in my life, I couldn’t spend Thanksgiving with my family. 

I’d dreaded the phone call home to my mom. Holidays were a BIG deal to her, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I heard her voice crack when I told her I couldn’t come home. She put up a good front, but she could not hide the sadness in her voice.

She’d spend weeks cooking pecan pies, banana-nut bread and enough sweets to send blood-sugar levels of the entire community through the stratosphere.

Even now when I close my eyes, I can smell the aroma her kitchen during holidays. It was Heaven’s kitchen.

I’m usually the one lifting the spirits of those around me, but I can tell you the week of Thanksgiving in 1971, my spirits were sagging.

We had a married guy in our unit, and he invited several of us to his house for the holiday.

Most of the other guys in my unit who lived across the country couldn’t go home either because they were as broke as the Ten Commandments too, so we accepted the invitation.

He came from German roots so his wife’s idea of a Thanksgiving feast was a lot different from that of my family.

A large part of my culinary choices up to that point was choosing between butter beans and cornbread, or pinto beans and biscuits, but I was willing to try German food.

His wife welcomed us into their home and fetched us some German beer to get things rolling.

They scheduled the meal for mid-afternoon, so the guys sat in the living room and watched football.

She’d prepared rouladen, which is a kind of beef rollup, a chicken dish, some wiener schnitzel, sauerkraut and several other dishes I couldn’t name.

I’d never want to hurt anyone’s feeling, so I tried a little of everything. The rouladen was really good, and I loved the pastries, but some of the stuff I didn’t eat and left it hidden under my napkin when we finished.

I was grateful to my friend for inviting me so that I didn’t have to spend a homesick Thanksgiving alone.

Since our parents died, Thanksgiving has changed for Jilda and me. In years past, we helped serve the needy. 

There was something about serving those less fortunate that took our minds off how much we missed our parents.

This year we decided to stay home and cook dinner. Jilda’s a great cook and it will be fun sharing that special day with loved ones.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the many blessings in my life.

I’m grateful for our family and friends who are actually people we chose to be in our extended family.

I’m grateful that even though Jilda has to take monthly treatments to maintain her health, we still manage to play music, travel and do the things we love.

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but what I wouldn’t give to have a piece of my mama’s pecan pie.

Photo of the day - Autumn Clouds

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Barbed Wire Sunset

In reading my post from last night, I think perhaps I sounded a little whiny.  The comment about barbed wire was a bit graphic, but I think it drove the point home that my tummy was not happy and feeling ill treated.
After getting some food down and a good night's sleep, I feel like a new person.
The term barbed wire reminded me of this photo I took a few years back. I call it Barbed Wire Sunset.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Fun Time

We did our CD Release show tonight at a Coffee House in Homewood. We had a great turnout. I
thought we performed well and we sold some product.
However we both learned a valuable lesson.We'd been struggling with sinus drainage which made it difficult to sing.
So we took sinus medicine after lunch today and we didn't eat anything else until after the show tonight. We were wired and spacey at the same and my stomach feels as if I'd swallowed a length of barbed wire.
Note to self: never take sinus medicine and not eat something.
Thanks to all those who came out to support us.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I remember within 10 feet of where I was on November 22, 1963. I had PE just after lunch in the old
gym at Dora High School.
An announcement came over the PA saying that President Kennedy had been shot in the Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
The echo of bouncing basketballs and squeaking tennis shoes on a varnished gym floor faded into almost total silence.
I remembered dropping onto the bleacher, almost in shock, trying to get my mind around what I'd just heard.
What happened next seems almost surrealistic. A kid came running into the gym shouting: "Kennedy's been  Shot! Kennedy's been shot!" What was so strange is that it wasn't sadness in his voice but it sounded almost as if he were celebrating.
Apparently his parents were against the president's progressive civil rights policies, and voiced their feelings around the kids.
What's interesting is that Jilda had a similar experience and she was miles away at a different school at that time. You know what they say about little ears.
The next few days were a blur, but I do remember the school assembling in the auditorium to watch Kennedy's Funeral.
As it happens, the shouting kid sat a few seats away from me as we watched the horse drawn coffin ease down Pennsylvania Avenue.
When Kennedy's young son John John stepped closer and saluted his father's coffin as it passed, the boy who'd been joyful a few days before, sobbed openly as the scene transpired. Our country changed that day.
Lem Johns is the dark-headed man second from the right.
This photo was taken on the presidential aircraft shortly
after Kennedy died.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to interview Lem Johns who was there in Dallas that day in 1962. He was one of the Secret Service agents on the presidential detail. He was two cars back at 12:30 p.m. when the shots rang out.
As we talked during that interview, there was a sadness in his voice. Of course there was little he could have done, but the president was assassinated on his watch.
I got a Linkedin request from an actor last year asking how he could get in touch with Lem. Apparently he'd gotten the part of Lem in a movie about the assassination. He Googled Lem and saw that I'd written a story about him.
I never give out contact information without checking first, but Lem said he'd be happy to speak with the actor, so I hooked them up. The movie was in theaters this summer.
I hope you all have a remarkable weekend. Wish us luck -- Jilda and I are doing a CD release show tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vantage Point

I had to run to the library today. A friend plans to start blogging and needed help getting her account set up.
It took her a while because she hadn't given her title a great deal of thought and the first several names she chose weren't available. She had some other issues with her account that took a while to sort out, but after a while she was updating, adding photos and posting.
After lunch, I headed home. The day was mostly cloudy and when I came across the mountain, grey clouds hung low on the horizon. I had hoped the sun would be out because it's a beautiful vantage point for photographs. I've taken several sunsets, a rainbow, and a while back, I shot this picture of a field of flowering collards.
Often when you drive by, deer are grazing in this field. I've also seen wild turkey there. It seems they are drawn to the beauty too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doggie Talk

We rode into Birmingham for an appointment today and had lunch. On the way home we admired the
Had the rain not come last week, autumn color would have been a wash, but it arrived just in time. 
The colors in the maples, oak and hickory are remarkable.
We passed a little mutt in a yard and he ran to the edge of the road to bark us up. 
It was at that point we did something that we've done for years without ever considering it.
A few minutes later, Jilda said in passing, I wonder if other people slip into their dog personas and have a conversation.
I laughed out loud, because I knew that any reasonable passenger in our car would have serious doubts about our sanity.
We have this voice that we use to say what we think the dog would say if it could talk.

"Just take it down the road mister, there's nothing to see here." 
Or, "Don't make me have to mess you up so bad yo mama won't recognize you."
"Hey, you don't know me well enough to be driving by here!"

The voice I use is my imitation of a young kid that's dissing one of his buddies. I know it sounds strange but both of us spontaneously say things that are hilarious......well, you'd probably have to be here to be the judge of that, and I'm guessing you'd be wondering if you should be committed too.

In the picture above, Ol' Buddy might have been saying to the UPS man: 
"Hey, I hope you don't plan to leave that box on my porch. When's the last time you've had your ankle bit?"

Here's a video of a song we recently recorded entitled Bad Dog.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I shoot so many photographs these days that I will never use. Sometimes I have to bite the bullet, go
through the directories of photographs and cull ones that aren't quite good enough.
I was about to hit delete on this picture because the light was all wrong, which washed out the colors.
I'd taken a photograph from this very angle when we'd had a rare three-inch snow, which made a very interesting picture, but this one with the funky light seemed to be a likely candidate to trash.
Just before I hit the delete key, I thought.....why not run it through a couple Photoshop filters to see if it could be salvaged.
It turned out better than I had imagined. Don't you just love surprises.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Home Again ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

Jilda and I have been in eight states and three time zones since Nov. 1, and I can tell you it’s good to be back home.

This past weekend we performed at the Johnson City Folk Festival near Bristol, Tenn. The
property is an old farm nestled on the edge of The Great Smoky Mountains. 

On the first day we were on the Blacksmith Stage, which was an outdoor stage under the portico of an ancient barn. 

The old structure was built from 12-inch timbers and even after a hundred years, it looked as solid as stone.

It had wagon wheels leaned against the side, and mule harnesses hanging from rafters. Out back there were old ploughs, and a tractor that looked like it hadn’t been cranked since Eisenhower was in the White House.

As we did our sound check, I heard Jilda exclaim, “look”. Over at the edge of the yard was a tiny fawn that wasn’t as big as our collie. She leaned her guitar against the barn and walked slowly toward the tiny critter. 

I expected it to bound off like a jack rabbit with its tail on fire, but it moved to meet her.

She squatted down and petted the deer long enough for me to grab my phone and shoot a photo.

The festival was competing against an Auburn/Tennessee home game so the crowd was smaller than it would have been on another weekend, but it was a magical time.

We made new friends, heard some incredible artists, and spent a few days doing something we love; playing music.

On Saturday evening we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the hotel.

We set the clock so we’d get out of town early. The next morning after we packed, we stepped down for a continental breakfast. 

We were considering our choices when Jilda glanced out the window just above the bagels and saw a Krystal sign. 

We ditched the free breakfast and walked across the parking lot.

The smell of fresh-brewed coffee and bacon on the grill made me think of my mama.

The woman who greeted us was like a ray of sunshine. We were her first inside customers of the morning and she quickly took our order. 

A few minutes later, she came to our table to give us a progress report on our breakfast, and then stood to talk for a moment. She wanted to know where we were from, and what brought us to Johnson City.

Soon she brought our breakfast to the table. I told her that I was going to recommend that her boss double her salary. She smiled broadly and went back to share the good news with her boss.

He came out to our table and we all had a good laugh together.

It was a great start to our day and a fitting end to our time in Johnson City.

We stopped in northwest Georgia to stretch our legs and top off our tank. While I pumped, the wind got up and a maple tree beside the lot shed leaves that looked like amber snowflakes.

No matter how remarkable the trip, it’s always great to be back home again.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Today was not a picture kind of day here .
Gray clouds as thick as a dirty blanket stretched from horizon to horizon with a light mist falling for most of the day.
As a result, I had to dig through my archives for a photo for tonight's update. I came across this photo I'd taken during the summer when Jilda and I went on a cruise.
It's of a lighthouse sitting on the tongue of land situated on one of the outer banks of the Bahamas.
This particular strip was part of the entry canal to the port.
We stood on the bow of the boat as it inched into the harbor.
I love lighthouses. I saw some during my time in the Army when I was stationed in the Northeast.
Lighthouses shine on the shores of Ireland too.
I took a boatload of pictures with my film camera when we were there, and haven't taken the time to scan them digitally, but I have some good ones of lighthouses.
I hope you all have a great week.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The beach in winter

The last several years we've traveled to the beach for my January birthday. This afternoon Jilda asked what I wanted to do next year.
I can tell you  the mountains looked inviting last weekend when we passed through on our way to the folk festival, but there's something about the ocean in winter.
I shot this picture last January and as you can see, there was not a soul on the beach.
I could have shot a picture in the opposite direction, and while it would not have been as picturesque, it was deserted in that direction too.

Just after taking the photo, we walked up to the water's edge and sat while the sun made its  final exit.
The only sounds were that of the surf, the cawing of seabirds, and the wind.  I'm not sure I've ever felt more at peace.
I have a feeling that come January, we won't be far from this very spot.
Y'all have a great weekend and I hope your team wins.......that is unless you're a Mississippi State fan :) 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Firepit Weekend

We've got a great weatherman but he missed the boat today. His prediction as early as this morning called for only a chance of showers.
We were a little disappointed, but he said we should have rain Sunday which soothed our parched
But this morning as our walk was winding down, a raindrop fell on my face. It felt almost like a kiss.
We had errands to run so we made ready. By the time we left, we had to sprint to the car because of falling rain.
As it turns out, it was an old rainy day. A few months ago I might have whined a little about the liquid sunshine, but I can tell you I was grateful.
I collected some wood earlier this week and stacked it in the shed. I hoped it would be a firepit kind of weekend, and now it looks as though that will happen.
I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thinking Thankful Thoughts

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. I've spent time these last few days thinking about the things in my life for which I am thankful.
I'll probably do a post closer to Thanksgiving, but I think it's never too early to count your blessings.
I've spent most of the day on the road. I had meetings in Birmingham and a half dozen errands to run while I was there.
When I stepped out of the truck this evening, my knees squeaked.
Caillou met me at the door ready for his walk. I left early this morning so we missed our early morning routine, but he doesn't forget.
I grabbed his fetch ball and we headed out. The oaks and hickory around the old house and barn are throwing off mountains of leaves and we walked across a crunchy brown carpet. It would be impossible for me to slip up on anyone.
I threw the ball until my arm was sore before doing the old fake throw routine which has him running all around looking for a ball that's actually in my pocket. I know it's a dirty trick, but it works.
Below I grabbed a photo of sunlight in autumn grass.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chair Day

Jilda had an appointment with the big green chair today which means I spent much of the morning in
the hospital cafeteria writing.
My writer's block persisted for a while but I took some of the advice I received last night. I snapped my laptop closed and went outside for a brisk walk.
It was cold last night but the sun warmed the day up nicely. As long as I kept to the sun, and walked with the wind to my back things were fine, but I didn't want to walk around the planet to get back to where I started, so I turned my collar up, pulled the gloves from my pocket and slipped them on my hands and headed back.
At one point I could hear the wind whistling by my ears. It was physically impossible to get back to the warmth of the cafeteria too soon.
Once there, I fetched a hot cup of cafeteria coffee and I knocked out my column. I did some research on a project that Jilda and I are considering.
After a long while, I headed over to the treatment room to sit until the chemicals which are as thick as honey do their magic.
Once home, we took a short nap. When I awoke, I left her sleeping on the couch and I took the dogs for a walk. The evening sun was hovering just above the horizon.
As I walked toward the barn, the sun highlighted the hickory tree which was situated among the unlit oak and poplar trees.
I snapped this photograph but before it saved properly, my phone went dead. I wasn't sure if the picture actually saved or what it would look like.
When I got back to my desk I plugged in the charger and this is the result....well, with the help of Photoshop, this is the result :)
Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When your well runs dry

I think the miles we've traveled over the past two weeks are catching up to me. I'm sitting here tapping keys trying to think of something clever to write, but the wrinkles of my brain have suddenly become as smooth as a baby's bottom, and I'm thinking a lobotomy might actually boost my IQ.

What do you do when your well runs dry?
I've read tons of articles on writer's block, and brainstorming. I've done every trick in my book which includes looking through old souvenir drawers, looking at the list of blog ideas that I keep, and flipping through so many photographs that my eyes are weary. Nada.
Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things you don't see

One of the things I love best about traveling is the opportunity to experience new activities, food, and to see new things. One of the most remarkable things about our trip last week to Jackson, Wyo., is something we didn't see. Let me explain.

A friend who owns a timeshare property in Jackson Hole invited us to join his family there.

Jilda and I have been to Colorado, but we've never been to Wyoming, so we jumped at the chance.

We changed planes in Salt Lake City and boarded a smaller jet for the final leg into Jackson. As the plane began its final descent  after flying over the Great Tetons, it danced in the turbulence from wind off the mountains that didn’t know which way to blow.

The sun was high in the sky when we stepped off the plane to the ground and followed a path of bears stenciled on the walkway.

Our host met us at baggage claims and soon we were headed to the condo.

We unloaded our bags and guitars in our room before hitting the road for some sightseeing.

Normally, we like to unwind after a flight that long, but there were still about six hours of daylight, and the weatherman predicted snow for that evening.

We drove through Teton Pass, which had a turnout every few miles. That gave us a chance to take a camera full of postcard-worthy pictures.

We crossed the Snake River, and I could imagine the trout swerving in the current behind big rocks and coming to the top of the water as we passed to mock me - “You call yourself a fisherman? Go get your pole and your sad lures and I'll teach you a thing or two about fishing.”

That night, snow moved in and we awoke to a pristine blanket that covered the mountains and trees like a thick fleece blanket.

A few days later we had a chance to inch through the snowy roads of Yellowstone National Park where we saw wildlife, rivers, birds and geysers, including Old Faithful.

It was a remarkable few days. What’s even more remarkable to me is what we didn’t see — litter.

I did not see one piece of trash on the roadside, in the parks or anywhere else.

There were no posted signs saying “No Littering.” Of course there may be an unwritten law that says anyone caught littering will have a kidney removed with an elk knife, but apparently it isn’t necessary there to tell people NOT to litter.

I did see a construction worker eating lunch on the tailgate of his truck in a work area. 

A food wrapper blew out of his lunchbox, and he chased it thirty feet before stepping on it with his boot long enough to pick it up and put it in his coat pocket.

I found that telling.

Here at home last summer, I was behind a woman at a red light. 

While we waited for the light to change, she opened the door a fraction and dumped an ashtray full of cigarette butts and gum wrappers right there on the road for the rest of us to enjoy.

I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I will say without hesitation that Alabama is as beautiful as any place on the planet. 

We have lakes, rivers, mountains, the ocean, and a diversified ecosystem that is unmatched anywhere else on the planet.

But I fear that visitors to our fine state won't see the beauty, but all the litter and trash that we thoughtlessly toss because it’s convenient. I'm guessing they'll go home wondering why we use our beautiful state as a garbage dump.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Good to be alive

Jilda and I have been in eight states and three time zones within the last ten days. The Johnson City Folk Festival is fairly small, but it is a beautiful venue. I have way more photos than you'd like to see, but we had a good time, and I tend to take pictures when I'm having fun.
We said our goodbyes yesterday afternoon after we played our last set.  Then we headed back to the hotel to get a little rest.
This morning, we loaded the truck before sunrise, and we started to eat the free hotel breakfast, but then Jilda saw a Krystal which was next to the hotel. KKKKRRRRYYYYSSSSTTTTAAAALLLLL, Jilda said.
I smiled as I glanced over my shoulder, and we headed across the lot.
We had a delightful experience there. After we ordered, Jilda and I found a table and recapped the weekend. I faced the east and just as the sun crested over the Great Smokie Mountains, the woman set our food on the table. I had to smile at the synchronicity.
When the staff learned we were from out of town, they all came out and chatted us up as we munched on grits, eggs and toast.
A regular customer came in and sat beside us. We all talked like old friends. It got our day off to a great start.
We drove south and pulled into a rest stop to stretch our legs and inspect the facilities. I finished up and walked to the parking lot.
I leaned against the front of the truck and lay my head back on the hood to look at the sky. In front of me, autumn leaves fell like amber snowflakes on a crunchy carpet.
I smiled and thought to myself -- it's good to be alive.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A fun time was had by all

We'll be home soon from the Johnson City Folk Festival. It was a fun trip, but there's nothing like
sleeping in your own bed.
What I enjoyed about this festival was that it was like a walk back in the past. The fields surrounding the barns and other structures had antique tractor parts, tools and things that helped farmers have a chance at making a living.
Even modern farming is backbreaking work. Just read a few posts on my blog buddy Julia's site and see for yourself.
But back before tools evolved, a lot of the work had to be done by hand.
Not only were there tame fawns walking around greeting festival goers, but vivid blue, green, and black peacocks lazed around observing the festivities. One peacock looked like an albino. Beautiful birds with the grace of ballet dancers.
This ambiance made it seem like the music being performed was from another time.
I hope you all have a great Sunday.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Short and sweet

Jilda and I played at a Folk Festival today. We played the Blacksmith Stage which was a rustic
setting under the portico of a ancient barn with faded red paint.
Old wooden-spoked wagon wheels stood against the barn, and mule harnesses hung on the side. Of course there was a lucky horseshoe hanging over the door.
As we did our soundcheck, I heard Jilda gasp. When I looked to the edge of a yard, a deer smaller than our collie stood watching us curiously.
Jilda propped her guitar on the stool and eased over close the the critter. When she held our her hand it came right up to her.
We later learned that this fawn and a sister were orphaned when a car struck their mother. The owners of the farm bottle fed the infants which is why they are so tame.
It was a beautiful day for music. We won't make much money at this one, but as I've said before, we're doing this for the love of music and musicians. We met a ton of kindred spirits today.
I snapped this photo just to prove I was not pulling your legs.  

Thursday, November 07, 2013


I awoke in the night to the sound of Caillou barking. I'm not sure why, but he sleeps with
his head out the doggie door. If anything stirs outside, he's all over it.
When I flipped on the light on the back deck, I could see a gentle rain falling. Out by the fence, a deer looked toward me before bounding off into the darkness.
The rain was welcome. We had a wet spring and summer but when it moved off, it moved off. October and November have been as dry as snuff.
I stepped over to the fridge, grabbed the milk, and poured a half glass before fishing a few gingersnaps from the cookie tin. I ate them standing at the sink looking out the window into the night.
This morning, the rain moved off to the east and it was obvious the temps were dropping. Soon the wind kicked up and I could feel that winter is not that far away.
After the cold snap last week, we'd moved the citrus plants back to the deck to get a little sun, but this morning as I drank coffee, I made a note to drag them all inside because the weatherman is predicting frost here.
The mandevillas were the last thing I brought in. They are a little more tolerant than the citrus trees, but they cost a fortune and I didn't want to lose them to the cold.
The afternoon sun highlighted the red blooms so I snapped a picture. The plants sulk when we bring them in, but they survive the winter and flourish in the spring. Maybe I should build a greenhouse.
Y'all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Jilda was off today. She'd been feeling poorly the last week, and missed two days work which is rare for her.
We decided to drive to Cullman and lunch at Berkeley Bob's Coffee House.
Wednesday is Red Beans and Rice day and that sounded good.
Our friend Bob was there. We dedicated our CD to him because he's done a great deal for folk and acoustic music there at the coffee house.
He didn't realize we'd dedicated it to him and he was touched.
Rain is moving in so the drive up was under cloudy skies, but on the way home the sky cleared enough for the sun to highlight the autumn color. This last week you could see the color change from day to day.
Yesterday I drove by the small lake near the house and snapped this picture.
I promise I'll use a different camera app soon, but I just love the effects I'm getting.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


I walked this afternoon for a change. Normally I'm out before the chickens leave the roost, but things didn't work out so evening I headed out before the sun ducked below the horizon.
The dogs are happy no matter when we decided to walk so they waited for me, hopping at the gate.
My mind was a thousand miles away when I passed the barn and it's a miracle that something caught my eye and I looked up. Another few steps and I would have had a spider as big as a chihuahua in my face.
Instead of doing the spider dance, and saying things that would put me on the "A" list for satan's cookout, I stepped around the web and squatted low to get this picture.
I got a new pack for my Hipstamatic app yesterday that does some pretty interesting things with images. I call this photograph SkySpider. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Things you don't see anymore ~ My column from Sunday's paper

We have two cases of Coca Cola bottles sitting on the front porch of our old house. I’m not talking about plastic bottles made with petrochemicals, but the vintage green ones with
Picture has nothing to do with the column, but I shot it today
And it seemed a shame not to use it.
ribbed sides and tiny air bubbles suspended within the glass. 

As a kid, I held them up close to my eyes and turned the world around me into an Impressionist painting.

We’ve had them for as long as I can remember, but somehow through time, they became almost invisible to me.

I rediscovered them this morning as we walked. I snapped a photograph with my phone just to remind me of the things you don’t see much anymore.

It occurred to me that Coke bottles (and other soft drink bottles) were one of my main sources of income as a kid. 

I spent hours walking up and down the roads looking for bottles hidden in the tall grass. At that time, you could return them to the store and they fetched a three-cent bounty. 

I earned enough money picking up bottles, to buy a bell for my bicycle and colorful plastic streamers for my handlebars that fluttered in the wind as I rode. 

So many things like Coke bottles, that were a part of my life growing up, have been relegated to the dark archives of my long-term memory.

When I was a kid, computers, iTunes, and digital downloads of songs were the stuff of science fiction.

If I heard a song I liked on the radio, I had to go to one of the few local stores that sold 45 rpm records. 

The other option was LP (long play) records which usually contained the entire album. LPs had a spindle hole in the center the size of a pencil. 

Unlike LP records, 45s had a hole as big as a half dollar and you had to have a small plastic disk that resembled a tiny frisbee with slots cut in it, and you fitted the tiny disk into the larger hole of the 45 to reduced the opening to the same size as an LP so the record would play on the record player. I can’t remember the last 45 record or hole reducer I’ve seen.

Another thing I remember, pants creasers. These were wire frames that could be jammed down the legs of starched dungarees. Removing the creasers after the pants dried left creases in front and back sharp enough to cut your finger.

Transistor radios are also a thing of the past. Nowadays people have iPods, iPads, and cell phones that let them listen to music, but I remember when the first transistor radios were a BIG deal.

My sister Mary Lois got a Sylvania transistor radio in a leather case. It was the size of a brick and weighed almost as much, but we could pick up WVOK, WSGN, and on Saturdays, The Grand Ole Opry.

Her old radio was the color of sunset with a plastic cover over the speaker that shined like the grill of a new Buick. You don’t see things like that anymore.

A few years ago we had visitors at our house and we walked down to our barn to stretch our legs. 

The woman had a fit over the old bottles, and offered to sell them on eBay for us and share the profit.

I smiled as I declined, I think it’s important to keep things that help us remember even if they are largely forgotten by time. 

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Things you don t see anymore 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Times They Are A Changin

The times they are a changin.  It always takes my body a few days to adjust to time changes. I know the whole time-change topic has been cussed and discussed so much that I won't debate it here, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Time change wasn't a factor with my grandparents and great grandparents. In fact, I doubt that my great grandfather owned a watch.
It's hard to imagine functioning these days without a timepiece. Even though I'm retired, many of my days are carved into slices of time so that I can make calls, schedule appointments, and meet commitments.
This morning I forced myself to stay in bed until the clock said it was time to get up, even though I knew my body would be calling me a slacker.
Then tonight, even though I should be up for another hour and a half, my eyelids have grown heavy.
In a few days, I'll reprogram my body and things will drift back to normal, but tonight I just feel like whining about the time change.

I know my regular readers are probably growing weary of all the photographs from our trip this week, but most of the people who visit Jackson Hole have a photo taken where I was standing.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Trip

My brain has been on overload this past week. Whenever I go to a new place, I try to drink in all
the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.
The day we touched down the sun was warm with white clouds as big as Rhode Island.
The wind was cool, and my new jacket that Jilda bought for me was a welcome addition to my wardrobe. When I stood in the sunshine, it warmed my face,  and made my bones feel young again.
The temps dropped after sunset, and we sat by the fireplace talking with our friends.
We started seeing snow falling outside the window. I stepped onto the deck, leaning over the rails to let the snowflakes melt on my face.
I could smell wood smoke from nearby fireplaces. It felt good to be alive.
The next morning when we woke up, a blanket of snow changed the landscape dramatically. The pictures we took after that first day were much different.
Most of the locals we talked with at Jackson Hole were a little miffed that the snow moved in earlier this year.
On day three, with the snow still falling, we drove up to Yellowstone. The road was treaturous in places but we saw some remarkable sights.
One night we cooked dinner on the community grill at The Teton Club where we stayed, and while the tenderloin roasted, we pulled out our guitars and played by the fireplace inside the lodge.
It was a practice for Jilda and me, but our friend Wes joined in. The guests and people at the lodge gathered around to listen. It seems they were pleasantly surprised, and delighted that we played.
We had a great time but as I wrote last night, it felt good to be home. We both slept like babies on our own bed last night.
Tomorrow we'll be practicing to get ready for our next gig at the Johnson City Folk Festival in Unicoi, Tennessee. We're cranked, but we'll be driving and we're hoping it doesn't snow.
Y'all have a great Sunday.

Friday, November 01, 2013

No place like home

We flew out this morning before daylight. We'd arranged for an airport shuttle to pick us up in time for
our 7 a.m. flight.
As we turned onto the highway, the wipers swept snow flakes and sleet off the windshield.
We arrived at the terminal before TSA security, so we sat on benches by the windows of Jackson Airport and watched it snow.
We boarded on time and pushed away from the gate, but the plane had to be deiced. I heard people grumbling, but I prefer flying on ice-free planes, so we remained silent.
It took 45 minutes to get the plane air ready. I knew that would be a problem because we only had a 30 minute layover in Salt Lake City.
When we lifted off and the crew gave the all clear for wireless devices, I logged onto Delta and the app said we'd been rerouted through Detroit.
As it turns out, we arrived home a few hours after we were scheduled, but our luggage made the transfer, and we touched down safely.
We spent five days at a beautiful place, but I can tell you our little cottage in the sticks looked pretty darn good when we rolled into the driveway this evening.
Our dog Caillou was giddy to see us. There really is no place like home.

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required