Friday, January 31, 2014

The color of life

Life is colorful. Even in winter when dried leaves as thick as thatch cover the earth, there's color. 
There's color in the scent of pine, and the aroma of dark-roast coffee brewing on cold mornings. 
There's color in the sound of giggling children, or courting owls off in the distance.....or Canon in D Major playing softly as background music to the movie of your life.
There's color in the feeling of warm sun on your face. I experienced that first hand today when the sun came back with a vengeance. The cold weather retreated to the north and let the temps creep back into the 60s. 
I rolled the legs of my sweatpants up, and the sleeves of my sweatshirt and sat on the deck for a long while with my face tilted toward the sun. A jet so high the sound hide in the wind, left a chalky diagonal line across the blue sky. I took a mental snapshot to capture the color.
Later when I'd finished my work, I stepped back outside to take corn down to the field for the deer.
Then low-slung sun cast long shadows, but a beam of light filtered through the canopy and spotlighted our bottletree by the deck. I slid the iPhone from my pocket and snapped a photo.
The color was stunning. So here's a question for you? What provides color in your life?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spank the procrastinating monkey

I've been yawning all day. I slept good last night, and I do recall any harrowing dreams, but today has been one of those low-energy days.
I had two assignments from one of the Birmingham newspapers. I interviewed a writer whose new children's book Maple comes out in February. She was a delightful lady.
It would have been easy to postpone the interview until I was a little more energetic, I pushed through it and knocked out the story this afternoon. I'm glad I did.
My questions for you tonight, do you ever feel the need to procrastinate? Why do you think we procrastinate? And, do you have any tools or techniques you use to spank the procrastinating monkey?
Any tips you share would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where
I intended to be." ~ Douglas Adam

I happened upon this quote today and it made me smile. I find this is so true. No matter how hard I try to be a good planner, I often find myself flying by the seat of the pants.
When I have planned well in the past, I still got mixed results sometimes. If life were predictable, it would get boring fast.

The weather sure hasn't been predictable around here. Yesterday it was snow and ice, but the sun returned today. It didn't actually get warm, but when compared to the last few days, it felt much warmer.
I snapped this photo of blue sky and white clouds this morning.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Empire snow

The weather people assured us as late as this morning that the snow would be south of Birmingham, which is an hour south of here.
The Magic City might see a few flurries, they said. People here took the weatherfolk at
their word and went about their merry way.
As it turns out, they weren't too far off. It only snowed about an inch here and just a little more in Birmingham, but the ground was already frozen from the last few nights and that little inch of powdery snow, when it got packed down, turned the roads and interstates into a  skating rink.
We've had friends and kinfolk who've spent the day stranded in their cars. The governor has called out the National Guard to help rescue people on the highway.
It's a mess.
Most of our folks finally made it home within the last hour, but they will have stories to tell for years to come.
Here at the Watson compound, we've spent the day writing, reading, and eating which is as it should be when it snows. 
I've also heard there's a bounty on the heads of our weatherfolk. They might want to winter in Miami :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

We're in heaven ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

The mention of the word heaven brings up images in everyone’s head. When you ask people to describe what heaven looks like, most of those images would be quite different.

Some rely on the descriptions in the Good Book with its pearly gates and streets of gold, but others hold a more modernistic view.

I’m not here to debate it one way or the other, but to describe a conversation that I had with a good friend many years ago.

My old friend Joel Robinson, who died a while back, looked around his Sunday school class of middle-aged people and proclaimed that we’re living in heaven. He was a country lawyer by trade and knew when to pause for effect.

We all looked at each other, a little confused. The thoughts flooding into my mind were, “I didn’t realize there were house payments, and dental appointments in heaven.”

After a short time, most of my classmates must have been thinking along the same lines because a course of murmurs swept through the class. 

Joel was a gifted speaker and teacher, but some folks in the class thought he might have drifted too far from the shore on this one. 

After looking each of us in the eye, he said, “Let me explain.”

We all sat back and let him make his case. 

For the next half hour, Joel spoke in a tone and rhythm that made me think of Atticus Finch, the country attorney played by Gregory Peck in the movie based on Harper Lee’s classic book “To Kill A Mockingbird.” 

Joel would have been in his late 80s now, and he survived the Great Depression with his family. He was young, but not too young to remember the hardships and desperation his family and friends in his community endured during one of the darkest times in America’s history.

Jobs were almost nonexistent, and keeping food on the table was a challenge.

Many of the homes in rural areas of the country were little more than cabins with no insulation and were heated by wood or coal-burning fireplaces. Air conditioning was unheard of.

The cooking was often done on a wood stove in the kitchen. Even in the blazing heat of summer, families required a fire in the cook stove for meals.

After dusk, the only light came from homemade candles or lanterns.

They raised hogs, chickens, goats and cows for food sources, and everyone had a garden.

Abundant harvests meant that there was enough food to go around, and when crops failed, many went hungry.

The class became swept up in the story as Joel painted with words what seemed like a tapestry representing life for many Americans during those years. 

“So you see, if my mama and daddy were living today, they’d think they were in heaven. To flip a switch to turn on lights, or press a few buttons and have a hot stove to bake bread, or to turn on a faucet and have an abundance of fresh water, would have been like heaven to them. That’s not to mention being able to step into a warm room in their house and bathe, or use the bathroom without going outside on frosty mornings.”

The room fell silent for a long time as we contemplated his words. I’m not sure about the others, but that day as I seated myself in the comfortable seat of my car and cranked the engine for the twenty-minute drive home, I realized that in some ways, we are indeed living in heaven.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Missin' Fishin'

It's been too cold to fish so far this winter. I went one morning in November between cold fronts. The sun had come out warm but the water felt icy when I dipped my dry fly in the river to see how it behaved. 
I probably could have fished, but the wind out of the northwest made casting a weightless fly troublesome. It was like trying to push a rope.
After about an hour with frozen feet, I cranked in my fly line and walked back to the warmth of my truck cab, and headed home.
It wasn't an ideal day to fish, but it was a chance to spend a little time on the water.
It warmed into the upper 50s today, but the temps will drop like a stone in the morning and the weatherman is forecasting snow for the area.
I've been getting messages from my friends to the north of us and I realized that we just THINK it's cold here. 
Our cousin sent us a link to a forecast in Chicago that called for windchills around 30 below.
One piece I saw said there would be areas of record-breaking low temps up there.

I know it's hard to imagine, but in about a month, warm weather will slowly begin to come back into our lives, and we'll start thinking about gardening, fertilizing lawns and fly fishing. 
I for one, can't wait to get back on the water.

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
- Jacques Cousteau

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Childlike wonder

Our great nephew Jordan celebrated his sixth birthday at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham today.
The McWane Science Center is like a learning museum. They also have rooms where kids can invite their friends and have a birthday parties.
Today when we arrived, the place was buzzing with children.
There was a glass container the size of our bathroom into which a mechanical device had been installed.
The glass walls made it easy to observe golf balls wind their way through the device on their own power.
The journey through the mechanical maze took the balls through tubes, switches, levers, shoots and onto a tiny trampolene.
When they made it to the bottom, a small motorized device would lift the balls to the starting point and the kinetic trek would begin anew.
I snapped this photo through the container and Jordan is standing mesmerized in a state of wonder, trying to figure out how it all works.
It's been a long time since I've experienced that see something so engrossing, that I lost all concept of time.
Sometime the state of childlike wonder takes your mind through uncharted territory. It's akin to the emotion of joy.
Standing there today I realized I missed that experience. As we grow older, we pragmatize our brains, and have little time for such childish activities. But I think the world would be a better place, if we viewed it with childlike wonder.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jilda the trooper

I've done everything right this flu season. When I went to the grocery store, I pulled my hand inside my sleeve, and used my cuff to touch door handles, and I used Lysol wipes to disinfect the handles of shopping carts and other surfaces.
If I heard someone coughing, or saw someone that looked feverish, I turned on a dime and headed the other direction.
I took handfuls of vitamins, got plenty of sleep, and ate my Wheaties. But last Thursday evening before we headed to the beach on Friday, I caught a nasty head cold.
Jilda was a trooper. She went above and beyond to ensure I had a good time on my birthday-beach trip.
I worried that with her compromised immune system that's she'd catch the crud, but it appeared that she'd dodged the bullet and escaped unbugged.........until yesterday evening.
I heard her start sneezing before she went to work. I thought maybe something had upset her allergies, but as it turns out, she now has a nasty head cold.
Things like this have a tendency to go south on her quickly so we contacted the doctor and he called her in a script this morning. She's felt like da da all day, but she's been through so much the last few years, she doesn't complain.
She doesn't feel that good here, but her hair looks great, don't you think.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Once while visiting cousins, I saw a curious cylinder sitting on her window sill. I was about 10 at the time. She saw that I was interested so she stepped over to the window, picked it up and carefully handed it to me. "You look through here,"  as she pointed to one end that looked almost like a telescope.
She instructed me to look toward the light coming through the window, while slowly turning the tube.
The blast of color was like nothing I'd ever seen. It was stunningly an ever-changing stained glass window.
She must have realized I was mesmerized, so she left me turning the kaleidoscope, and went into the living room to be with the other kids who were visiting.
I lost all concept of time, but a while later, my mom called to me that it was time to go home. I gently placed the instrument on the sill and headed home.
Fast forward to a few months ago -- I was perusing the app store looking for another photography app, when I came across a kaleidoscope app. I immediately downloaded it.
While the computer images weren't as stunning as the real thing, I almost drained my battery watching the stream of changing color.
I learned how to do a screenshot, which is where this image came from.
May your days be filled with color.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lemon Tree, Very Pretty

Our great room looks like a terrarium in winter. We've had avocado, orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees for years. Several of them must be pruned in late fall so that we can get them inside.
Even with a 14 foot ceiling, some of the trees simply won't fit after growth spurts in summer.
We've never had one to bloom. I'm guessing they need mates of something, but to be honest I've never researched it to find out why they aren't blooming. The thing is, it never really mattered. I enjoy them being inside because then seem to bring a little piece of summer in with them.
Last fall someone told Jilda that there was a breed of lemon trees that was guaranteed to bloom in January.
When the tree arrived, it was a little tike....about two feet tall, but it looked healthy. We planted it in a deep pot, and left it on the deck.
When the weather turned nasty, we brought the little tree inside and left it by the garden door which faces south.
Earlier this week I'd had appointments in town and when I returned, I could tell by the look on Jilda face that she was excited about something.
She called me to the garden door to look at the lemon tree. It was full of blooms. It looks like we'll have small lemons soon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


A change of scene is essential, especially for anyone trying to be a writer. The past few weeks the weather has been bipolar, so to speak. One day you can store your meat on the porch, and the next it's warm enough to swim. Crazy weather is enough to make my spirits consider taking valium.
This seems to happen after the holidays each year. That's why having a birthday three weeks after Christmas is ideal for me.
The trip to the beach this past weekend was exactly what the doctor ordered. We slept late (which NEVER happens here), and ate fresh seafood for every meal except breakfast.
We walked for miles on sandy beaches, listening to the rhythm of the surf, watching seabirds dart to the water's edge for tiny bugs and sea critters.
Jilda and I rarely talk on these seaside walks. Spending time by the ocean is like spending time in a holy place.
I came up with several ideas for columns and blog posts, as well as hooks for songs, and a few new business ventures. It was invigorating.
The sunsets got all the press this past weekend while at the beach. They were stunning, but the moon put on a show as well, and I'd be remiss if I didn't leave you with a shoutout on its behalf.
As the sun rose the moon set

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wondering What if ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

“What if,” is a term I’m accustomed to. During the years I spent in graduate school, we constantly asked “what if,” when evaluating potential strengths and weaknesses of a business proposition. 

And then there’s the age-old question, What if I won the lottery and suddenly had $100
million to share with my family and friends. 

I’ve spent hours thinking about all the things I could do with that kind of money, and how it “wouldn’t change me.”

But the question of “what if” took on a more somber line of thinking this week when I met with my financial planner.

He gets paid for keeping his best eye on our money and asking me hard questions.

During our meeting he pulled up the numbers and began to talk me through the things he saw.

Then his face turned a bit solemn. “These numbers represent what I see if things never change,” he said. 

“But what if you die on your drive home?” Those words struck deeply and rattled me a little. 

I guess he could see the look on my face changed from my normal “Living a Dream” face to a more contemplative one.

He apologized for the blunt delivery, but I understand that it’s his job to ask the hard questions. He led me through several scenarios and what impact each could potentially have on our nest egg.

After the meeting we said our goodbyes, and my drive home felt much different than the drive over. I felt older.

In thinking about his question, what would happen to my lovely spouse Jilda if something happened to me?

Not only would she have to find someone to wash her car, and take out the garbage, but she’d also have to give serious thought to her future — how she would survive with less money coming in.

On the other side of that coin was what I’d do if something happened to her. 

Thoughts flew at me like an angry hive of yellow jackets.

I realize I should have been thinking in these terms much sooner, but normally I will not let my mind dwell on the negative for too long. I don’t think it’s healthy.

In my mind, my life has always been a rainbow, and I knew what awaited me at the end. 

Today is my 63rd birthday, but it’s also treatment day for Jilda, and as I type these words, I’m sitting in the corner of the cafeteria at Simon Williamson Clinic. A few years ago, spending so much time here wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but things change. 

I guess that’s what my money guy was telling me — things change.

While I refuse to live my life like I’m living on borrowed time, I can tell you that there are things I will do over the coming weeks and months.

I think John F. Kennedy said it best when he said, “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.”

At the risk of sounding preachy, my advice this week is to ask yourself the hard question — “What if.”

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Home from the beach

I probably take too many pictures. At least now, it doesn't cost me a small fortune for film, and developing. When I learned to develop my own black and white photos, it saved a little, and I had some control of the finished product, but it was still expensive.
These days with a great little camera in my pocket, I snap photos of everything.  I try not to share the mundane stuff, but we are a visual people. We love photographs.
When I read blogs that talk about children and grandchildren, I like seeing a picture of those youngun's.
Some people can paint pictures with words, but most of us rely on photographs to help tell the story.
The few days we spent at the beach were beautiful. Even though the wind off the ocean was cold, the sun was warm on my face.
Every time we go there are always some shells, but only a few times in my life has the beach been
covered with shells as thick as gravel. Some of them were stunning.
We walked both days until our legs were rubbery.
Yesterday evening the sun set at 5:13 p.m.
I took this photo with the iPhone and my Hipstamatic app.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wish you were here

We have friends who travel a great deal. We often get postcards from exotic locales that say, "Wish you were here."
Jilda and I both love to travel but we don't get the chance as often as we'd like.  But sometimes we do get out of town and recently we had an opportunity to spend a few days at the beach. Jilda snapped the photo below at sunset. The ever-changing light repaints the sky each second. I hated to blink because I didn't want to miss a shade.
We buy a lottery ticket each time we go to the beach and swear that if we hit the big numbers that will buy our own place and spend more time there.
For all our friends in colder climes, if we do hit it big, we'll buy a place with lots of bedrooms and invite you to winter with us. But for now, here's your postcard -- "Wish you were here."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lonely Beach

When I was in Panama in the early 1970s I was stationed on the Atlantic end of the canal. The fort was situated on a small finger of land separating the Bay of Colon and the Atlantic Ocean. 
Palm trees grew almost to the water's edge. It was not uncommon to find fresh coconuts right on the beach. I also found seashells as big as my hand.
It was an easy duty station so I got off at three each afternoon. I never had to work weekends unless there was a drill which rarely happened. So I spent a lot of time walking on lonely beaches. 
My first six months in the Army were spent on basic training in Kentucky, and later advanced training in New Jersey just outside of New York City. There were always people around and the drone of traffic was ever present there.
My time in Panama was almost like a silent retreat because I spent a lot of time alone either snorkeling, which is a beautiful silent experience, or walking on the beach alone. 
These days when you go to any beach near here, there's always people around. The winter is better than summer, but neither compare to silent walks on a lonely beach.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Nature of Work

I've been giving a lot of thought to the nature of work. Why do we do it? For some people, work is about the money, and in fact they use money as a unit of measure. "I must be successful, I made $100,000 last year."
Other folks work because it gives them an opportunity to socialize with others. One of the nurses in the treatment room yesterday told about one of his co-workers who took a job at another facility making a lot more money. It seems after several months on the job, the nurse was very unhappy because instead of working with patients, and fellow nurses, she was in a tiny office filling out detained reports all day long. She was miserable.
Still others work for the sheer enjoyment of the work. I know chefs, business owners, artists, and musicians who fall into this category. The trick is finding the work you love, and recognizing it when you do.
Einstein weighed in on the topic when he said "Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value." Wise words if I've ever heard them.
Longing for a summer sunset.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Birthday Boy

I wrote my column this week in the cafeteria at the clinic where Jilda started her third year of treatments.
My columns are often laced with bits of humor, but this one was more somber. A meeting with my financial planner this past week gave me the idea when he began asking me "the hard questions."
I won't say much about the column here but the title is "What If." I'll  post it on Monday once it runs in the paper on Sunday.
Today is my birthday, and I've spent a lot of time this evening fielding phone calls and a bunch of birthday wishes on Facebook.......I know, I said more Facetime and less Facebook, but that will have to wait until next week :)
At the moment, I am whupped. There's nothing like spending the day at a hospital to suck the vitality out of you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yo yo

The sun returned today, and by midday it was warm enough to go out without a jacket and gloves. 
I had a meeting at lunch, but afterwards I came home as Jilda prepared to head out to work. I had the afternoon to myself.
There were mountains of cardboard boxes in our pantry, so I took them out to the shed to store until I get to the recycling place in Birmingham.
I remembered that one of our kitchen plugs was loose on the wall. Every time we unplug the blender, it feels as if it's coming out of the wall with the plug.
So while I was in the shed, I collected a few tools and some longer screws to do that little repair job. 
One of my resolutions this year was to do something to improve our home each day. Whether it's touching up scratched paint on one of the walls, reattach a piece of molding that comes loose each time we pull the vacuum cleaner out of the closet, or fix a loose wall plug. I smiled to myself as I snugged up the last screw on the outlet.
When I returned the tools to the shed, I scooped a few ounces of corn for the deer. As I stepped back inside the yard and latched the gate, I leaned against the fence and admired the setting sun.
It was hard to imagine that later tonight we're supposed to have snowfall. It seems harder to adjust to winter here when the temps are like a yo yo.

Monday, January 13, 2014

An old rainy day

I had meetings in Birmingham today - one before lunch and one after. After the first meeting I headed downtown for the the second one.
I had about an hour to kill and it was lunch time. There are no fast food places downtown which is fine with me because I steer clear of them whenever possible.
As I drove through historic Five Points South, I remembered the old hippie store that Jilda and I used to frequent. It's called the Golden Temple and they sell candles, incense, crystals, and health food. I remembered they also have a cafe.
I wheeled into a parking place, fished a few quarters from my pocket to feed the meter, and headed inside.
Before I got to the corner, it started raining again, so I stepped back to the truck and grabbed my raincoat. As I pulled the hood up, I was so glad that Jilda insisted that I bring the coat.
The soup of the day was lima bean soup with wild rice and rosemary. I ordered a bowl with some peppermint tea.
I grabbed a booth by the window and sat spooning the soup into my mouth. It hit the spot.
The rain must have kept a lot of people at home because there were only a few other customers eating, so I sat for a long time watching the rhythm of the city, and listening to the rain ticking off the awning.
It's been a long time since I've done that.
My last meeting only lasted about 30 minutes so I was soon back on the road heading for home in the rain.
Jilda had already left for work and Caillou was lying in front of the window waiting for me to return.
I grabbed my walking stick and we went for a short walk in the rain. I snapped this photo of vines on the trunk of a hickory tree.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Productive day

Today was a day of sunshine and blue skies. It felt more like spring than the middle of winter. Even the birdsongs were reminiscent of warmer weather.
I decided to extend my walk this morning and I came across some beauty berries at the trunk of a hickory. I had to scoot through some underbrush to get a decent shot.
Later, Jilda and I did a few remaining housekeeping chores to get ready for our company this afternoon. Around 1 p.m. I stepped out onto the deck and sat for a long while. After the coldest weather in nineteen years, the sun felt good on my face.
We both realized before our songwriting buddies came that we hadn't written a new song this month. We'd told them all last meeting that we planned to have a new one and I really wanted to have one to play.
I keep a list of melody ideas on my iPhone, so I started clicking through them to see if anything might work.
Jilda heard one I'd recorded a few years ago and liked it. Less than an hour later, we completed a song. Usually after we finish a new song I immediately start picking it apart trying to eliminate weak lines and tweaking the melody.
But when we finished this one, we both high-fived. Even after playing it in front of the group, I still think it's one of the strongest songs we've written in some time.
We plan to lay down a decent recording of it within the next few weeks and when we do I'll post it.
I hope you all have a fun and productive week.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blue Sky Bare Trees

We had a rare thunderstorm in the wee morning hours and it sounded as if it would rain forever, but a few hours later as we sipped our coffee, the rain had moved eastward and we could see patches of blue sky through our window.
We had several errands today so we walked early. The winds was so brisk we could have flown a kite.
On the final lap as we walked back through the garden, I looked up. The clouds and blue sky were stunning. 
I wasn't sure how this photo would turn out, but I snapped it anyhow. I used my Hipstamatic app and unlike most of the pictures I've posted lately, I didn't adjust it at all.
Last night we got a message from one of our friends in Tuscaloosa and she said she was listening to one of our songs on All Things Acoustic. That's a show on Alabama Public Radio.
By the time we got the radio turned on, the song had finished playing, but the DJ sends out a playlist from the previous evening, and there were were. 
Jilda and I both did a happy dance.
Tomorrow we have our songwriter group meeting. Jilda's whipping up a batch of her vegetable soup and a new recipe for bacon cheddar cornbread. 
I hope you all have a delightful weekend.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The well is dry

My creative well is running low tonight. I've spent a lot of time today taking video training courses in the area of online marketing and web design.
When it came time to write tonight, all I've been able to manage is to sit here tapping keys, so I'm posting a picture I shot a few weeks ago while doing some updates on the local golf course website. 
This picture was a little "out there" so I decided not to use it on the site, but I like the austere look.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A new start ~ My column from Sunday's paper

New Year’s celebrations have changed for Jilda and me. There were times in the past we spent New Year’s Eve wearing pointy hats, laughing, dancing, kissing and toasting the New Year.

And by the time morning rolled around, my head felt as if an angry carpenter drilled holes in my head with a rusty brace and bit, and filled it full of rice and cold molasses.

Our celebrations are much different now. In fact, after hearing annual holiday horror stories, we made the decision several years ago to celebrate New Year’s at home.

This year we welcomed 2014 sipping chamomile tea and eating champagne-flavored truffles.

I can’t say I miss waking up with my mouth as dry as the Sahara. But I do still love New Year’s.

It’s not the color, because with all the bare trees it can be as stark as a moonscape in January. Football is all but over, it’s too cold for festivals and gardening opportunities are limited, but for some reason, January is almost like the first day of kindergarten.

It’s like I’m headed off on an adventure with a spiffy new lunchbox, a fresh writing pad and a pocket full of fat pencils.

The old year is behind us, and the New Year holds all the promise you can imagine.

I think that’s the key — imagining that life can be better.

That’s not to say that life isn’t already a gift, but I think it’s human nature to want to do better — reach higher, learn more, look better and improve your life.

I’ve actually read a great deal and attended seminars on this topic, and while I wouldn’t pass myself off as an expert, I can say with confidence that I know a thing or two about self-improvement.

The key to a better life is to lose old habits that take you nowhere and form new ones that can take you anywhere.

The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it as good as anyone, “A few bad habits repeated daily leads to failure. Conversely, a few good ones repeated each day leads to success.”

The first time I read these words, it was empowering. It should have been obvious to me, but when he said a small change in my behavior could mean the difference between failure and success, it changed my life. This meant I had a level of control over my future.

For example if instead of sitting in front of the TV each night until bedtime, I spent that time reading, practicing, planning, exercising or doing some other activity to improve myself, it would have positive consequences down the road.

Not long after reading Rohn’s book, I took advantage of the phone company’s generous tuition-aid plan and headed back to school. I received a promotion at work before graduation.

I went on to get my masters degree, and I kept moving up at work.

I sometimes feel like I sound preachy, but New Year’s is a special time of year when people are often open to encouragement.

I’d like to end with another Rohn quote that I think is important, especially for the younger folks: “If you work hard at your job, you can make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.”

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Northern Exposure

Several years ago Jilda bought me a gift for Christmas that has kept on giving. It was the first two seasons of the eclectic TV show Northern Exposure.
I fell in love with this series when it aired in the early 1990s. I remember watching the finale and listening for the first time, to Iris DeMint singing the song she wrote entitled Our Town.
The show was set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. The characters were unique and that along with the setting made the small town seem Utopian. Many of them were Native Americans.
This week we dug the DVDs out of the first two seasons and began watching them. I'm not sure if I realized it back then, but the writing for these shows was exceptional.
That's the thing about good writing -- it slips up on you when you least expect it.
I'll leave you with a Native American saying.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself …

Hanging Ice

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Cold day

I could hear the earth crunching under my feet as I walked this morning. It resembled the sound shredded wheat makes when I eat it each morning.
Tiny stalagmites protruded up from the red clay and pine straw. The dogs usually love cold weather, but the temps were a little extreme for them too, so they walked by my side puffing tiny clouds out their noses as they walked.
I wrapped a warm scarf around my face, but I still got ice crystals in my beard. I made one lap and headed back to the fireplace.
Once the sun cleared the trees, the day warmed considerably, but it remained in the 20s today. Tonight won't be quite as cold as last night. Hopefully I'll be writing about something other than the weather soon.
I stepped out on the deck this evening to dump some scraps into the compost bucket and when I looked off to the west, the sky was emerald green fading to aquamarine and then to topaz.
Y'all stay warm.

Monday, January 06, 2014

We dodged a bullet

Before turning in last night, we brewed some tea and drank it as we watched the Weather Channel. 
Even a 10 p.m. they were predicting snow and ice for us. It had been windy for most of the day but the temps didn't drop until after sunset.
As we sat sipping the tea, I heard the wind begin to blow hard and steady in the trees. I held my breath waiting for it to didn't.
We laid down about 10:30 and I'd just fallen asleep when I heard the unmistakable buzz of crossed power lines.  When I opened my eyes, it looked like an arc welder in our yard. 
Caillou was off his bed and in our bedroom in an instant and it was all I could do to keep him from jumping in bed with us.
I just knew our power was going off.....but it didn't
This morning when I woke up, it was about 15 degrees outside, but I could tell most of the clouds had moved off to the east. We got a few flurries but no major snow or ice for us this time.
At one point we looked down into the field near the apple tree and five young deer had come out of the woods looking for food.
The sun stayed out most of the days, but the wind made the temps brutal.
I went out this evening and bought a new heater to put in our chicken pen. I didn't want our feathered friends to freeze.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Safe and warm

We got to bed much later last night. The gig lasted until 9 p.m. and afterwards we helped our friend and soundman Fred load out all the equipment. By the time we got home and did short blog posts, we were beat. We slept in this morning which is rare for us.
The weathermen say we have the coldest weather in 19 years headed our way. I half expected it to be too cold to walk, but we put on our rain gear and headed out.
The air was thick with mist, and warmer than I expected...only in the 40s. Jilda whipped up a batch of her world famous beef stew and as we ate, I heard the wind. Not a gentle rustling of leaves on the deck, but a sound that only comes a strong-steady wind in the pines.
I set down my fork and stepped to the screen porch to get a realtime update and realized the temp is dropping like a stone. Later tonight we'll have freezing rain, sleet and possibly some snow.
I understand my friends to the north in Illinois, Ohio, and points north and east are getting hammered.
Thankfully I went out after our late coffee and repaired our generator in case the power goes off.
Y'all stay safe and warm.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

League Gig

Our singer/songwriter group had a CD release party tonight at Berkeley Bob's Coffee House. We all had a large time.
More time with our friends.
Facetime 2
Facebook 0
It's a shutout :)

Friday, January 03, 2014


We had dinner tonight at the local Mexican Restaurant with some of our best friends. Apparently a lot of us wanted to get the New Year off to a good start by breaking bread (or chips and salsa) together.
In the past, we spent most weekends with these folks.
Tom and Judy, (Tom is the other bearded guy and Judy is sitting next to the red-hat lady) have a beautiful place on the river. It's the perfect place to gather, cook out, water ski, swim, and enjoy each other's company.
Through the years it seems we all became too busy doing things that none of us can quite remember. As it turns out, nurturing friendship is one of the most important activities one can do with ones' life.
None of that matters now. Tonight we laughed, gave personal updates, told jokes, and enjoyed being with each other.
So as of January 3, 2014
Facetime 1
Facebook 0

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Social media

One of the goals I wrote in my journal on New Year's Eve was less Facebook, and more FaceTime with my friends and loved ones.
The nature of what I do has me sitting at this computer for many hours each day. In the past, I've found myself clicking over to Facebook to see what's going on. When I finally began to pay attention, I realized that I was spending too much time on there.
Social media is good in a lot of ways. It gives people the tools to keep up with their friends and family through words, pictures, and other cool stuff they share. It can be addictive.
But our lives are like sand in an hourglass, and mine has way more sand in the bottom than the top. I must not only be mindful how I'm spending my time, and vigilant in not wasting it with mindless activities.
When I floated this notion around, the feedback I got was mixed. Many people agreed, but some got a little snippy. Believe me, I would never criticize, or judge but I'm just saying what I feel is right for me.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Morning Sky ~ the first day of 2014

I took the dogs for a walk this morning. They'd had a restless night because of the fireworks celebrating New Year's Eve.
Even though the explosions were off in the distance and barely audible to me, the dogs hear them "loud and clear."
This morning after coffee I decided to go for a walk. They were slow to wake but once they saw me reach for my gloves, they were at the back of the house with their noses against the glass, their warm breath fogging the lower panes of garden door.
It was still chilly out. With the sun behind a veil of clouds, it felt even cooler.
The web of tree limbs looked stark against the morning sky.
It was a nice day for a walk.
A little later the clouds moved off to the east and the temps warmed into the 50s.
The first day of 2014 was a beautiful one here in Empire, Alabama.

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