Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The first blossom

The rhododendron next to the house is in full bloom. Some of the plants in the yard are as fussy as a teething baby, but rhody somehow finds what it needs from the dappled morning sunlight and packed red clay. It's a free-range shrub and I think it survives because I DON'T tinker with it.
The plant was a gift from my mom. She didn't have a lot of money to spend on us grown kids so whenever she asked what I wanted for my birthday, I always told her "I'd like a shrub."
It was an ongoing joke. But one year she gave me a rhododendron in a gallon bucket. I didn't know much about them so out of dumb luck, I probably picked the most perfect location on our property.
It's thrived there and each year when the days get longer and the spring sun warms the east end of our house, the rhododendron pops out with buds the size of golf balls and when fully open, it produces lacy-pink blossoms the size of a basketball.
This morning when I walked out the back gate to check the mail, I glanced over and saw the first flower. Obviously I had to snap a picture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fixing things ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The warm weather put me in the mood to break ground. This past week I went out to gouge up a spot at the back of the fence with my old tiller.

The beast sprang to life but then coughed and sputtered as if it had mechanical emphysema. I stepped to the shed to fetch my tools and cleaned the spark plug, checked the fuel filters, but when I cranked it again, I got the same result.

I tinkered a while longer and then kicked the tires a couple time just to show it I meant business, but the only thing that started was the pain in my toe.

This is not my first planting season so I felt sure it was afflicted with gum in the carburetor.

Saying my tiller is old is an understatement because Methuselah bought it used from an antique dealer. Before he died, he passed it down to a relative, and it clunked through the millennium from heir to heir to like a bad debt.

I've been using my local parts supplier for many years. Some of the parts they stock are marked with hieroglyphics instead of part numbers, so I felt sure they'd have a carburetor for my tiller.

When I walked in this past week and asked for a rebuild kit or a replacement carburetor, the clerk asked for the model of the tiller. When I told him he tapped a few keys, scratched his chin, and scrunched up his face as he looked at the readout on his computer. Experience has taught me that this is NEVER a good sign.

The unspoken response usually means that a replacement part would have to be carved from bone by a retired watchmaker and it would take 18 months to deliver, or that I’d have to donate a kidney to pay for the part. The latter turned out to be the case, so I took my old carburetor and walked out dejectedly.

I brooded about it on the drive home, but I decided to try a long shot and work on the carb myself. What could it hurt?

So, after coffee I put on my coveralls, fetched my tools and set to work.

I placed the old carb on my workbench and disassembled it. Fortunately, no springs or tiny parts flew out which is always a plus.

I laid all the pieces on my bench and cleaned them as gently as a newborn baby with sensitive skin.

When I put it back together and reinstalled the carb on the tiller. I had no idea if it would crank or not, but I said the mechanic’s prayer – “Lord, please let this thing crank, or I’ll use it as a boat anchor.” I filled the tank with gas, and pulled the crank-cord.

It sprang to life and ran as solidly as the day the cavemen built it.

I was so happy that I got pieces of freshly ploughed earth on my teeth from the twirling tines.

It feels good to fix something that I had no idea I could actually fix.

Dogwood blossoms in a vase. I know, it has nothing to do
with this post., but I just liked the picture.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Eye on the sky

We're here watching the weather on TV and listening to thunder in the distance. So far the bad stuff has been off to the west, but the wind has shifted in a more easterly direction which is not good news.
There is a tornado warning for our county, but still radar indicates that it's about 20 miles west of us.
Weather people have been predicting this episode for almost a week.
Today the sun was out for a while and I took advantage and went for a walk. I got a photo of blackberry blossoms.
It could be a long night here. If you are in Tennessee or other places in the path of these storms, keep your eyes on the skies.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hidden Jewels

One thing I've learned is there are hidden jewels all around us. Rarely do blinking neon signs point the way to them.
You often see them in unexpected places. The first time I went to New York while in the Army in 1971, I found one as I walked through the streets like a lost puppy.
It was an art show on the sidewalk. Well actually, it was art leaning on vacant buildings and hanging on a fence. As I approached, a young man said in broken English, "Would you like to buy one of my pictures?"
I'm not sure what I expected, but what I saw was pieces of work that could easily have been hanging from gallery walls. Some of them were simply stunning. I was broke and I had to ride back to the base on a bus so I didn't buy one of the paintings, but I have a feeling if that young man continued with his art, a painting bought then would have been worth something now. His work was hidden jewels.
I've also found hidden jewels in the form of people living in nursing homes, and other unexpected places.
You somehow form a mental image of the type of people you'll encounter, but then they will sing, play a guitar, tell a story, or do something unexpected and remarkable.
Hidden jewels come in many forms. I found one today.....let me explain.
The rain moved in before dawn this morning with rolling thunder and jabs of lightening. It tapered off after lunch and we ventured out to get a little exercise and let the dogs run.
Hiding in the grass not far from the path was a patch of tiny purple flowers. They would have been easy to miss, but I'm so glad I didn't.
They were hidden jewels.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

High School reunions

The dynamics of high school are interesting. I'm sure my old school is no different than most, but there were kids with that seemed to have it all and kids who didn't have two nickels to rub together.
Some of the kids were popular, and some weren't. Some were kind to everyone and others who left a lot of collateral damage in their wake.
One thing I've learned is that time is the great equalizer.
My family didn't have much money, but I've always been funny and I had the good sense to use what I did have to my advantage and as a result, I was fairly popular in high school.
Jilda, on the other hand was as thin as a reed in school and as a result was the brunt of a lot of kidding. Some of the kidding was good natured and some was not, so her memories of those high school days are different than mine.
I think the dynamic of hurt feelings is the reason that so many people choose not to attend high school reunions. It's a little sad because holding on to past grievances requires a lot of energy.
I'm thankful for those who did show up tonight. It was good to see them all.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A night with songwriters

We did a songwriter thing tonight with some really great writers. We've attended a lot of these in the past and it's always a joy to be blown away by songs with simple music and lyrics.
After the show, several of us went to Huddle House and as we ate together, we told stories that resonated with us.
I could have stayed there all night, but alas we had to get on home. It's nights like to night that keep us doing what we do.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fresh Daisies

I've been working on farm equipment again today and I'm worn to a frazzle. I'll leave you with a bouquet of fresh daisies tonight.
Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I've spent time reading my blog-buddies this evening and I'm amazed at the talent out there.
Janie  mentioned the song Baby Blue by Badfinger in her post and it ripped my mind back thirty years.
Jilda and I had a vinyl album by Badfinger and we listened to it so many times that we wore it out. I'd forgotten how much I loved that group.  
Then when I visited  Debi's blog, she wrote about trains, which ripped my mind back in time 40 years.
Each blog I read, offered up something that was unique, yet pieces of it were familiar.
The blogging community is incredible. It's filled with creative people who spend time each day bringing pieces of their lives to the greater community....experiences that you may have had yourself. 
I find that my mind often reaches back and digs up long-forgotten memories that have laid dormant for years.
It's like the front porch of neighbors when I was a child. I could sit and listen to the stories for hours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tools put to good use

After my mother-in-law died, we had to clean out the basement of her house. She'd lived there with Jilda's dad Sharkey for many years. 
I've written about this before, but Sharkey collected things. He had a tool for everything and he thought it sacrilegious to dispose of ANY tool no matter how rusty or badly worn.  
The family got a chuckle as we examined all the old saws, screwdrivers, handless hammers, and socket wrenches that were so old you could no longer read the size.
One of the things I took out was what I call a clinker-grabber. It's a hollow steel bar about 36 inches long with pinchers on the end. Attached to the pinchers is a metal rod that runs through the bar and hooks to the bottom jaws of the pincher. Sharkey used it to remove cinders from their old Stokermatic coal stove.
We don't have a fireplace or coal burning stove, but I couldn't toss the clinker-grabbers.
Recently as I cleaned out my shed, I came across the old grabbers so I took a steel brush, and cleaned the crud and rust off the bar before squirting on some WD-40.  When I pulled the handle, the jaws worked like a charm. 
Now when our great nieces and nephews come over to visit and are getting restless, I bring out the clinker-grabbers.
My great-nephew Anthony came over to our house on Easter Sunday with his mom Alesha and our nephew Haven.
Not long after they arrived he was ready to go, until I showed him the grabbers. I think he would have spent the night with us had we let him sleep with his new cool toy.
I know Sharkey would have been proud that his old tools were put to such good use.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Always listen to good advice ~ My column from Sunday's paper

I could write a book on the number of times in my life I’ve said, “Uh oh, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

I seem to remember that my mom once told me the first words I learned to say weren’t “mama” or “daddy” but “uh oh.” That was a harbinger for things to come in my life. My mama swatted my backside so often that dust rarely settled on it.

The trend continued into adolescence. Once when I headed out fishing with my rod, reel and tackle box, my neighbor, Mr. Plunkett, who lived next door, was sitting in a cane-bottom latter-back chair on his front porch.

“Come here, boy,” he commanded. I knew better than to blow him off because he had my mother’s ear, and he’d rat me out. This would not have turned out well for me, as any neighborhood adult could get away with bossing me around in those days.

So I walked over to his yard haltingly. He leaned forward and spat an amber dart of Bruton Snuff between his gnarled fingers. When it hit the red clay of his front yard, it looked like a splatter of dried blood.

“You ort not go a’fishin’ in short pants,” he advised. “You’ll step on a cottonmouth.”

I wouldn’t be caught dead in long pants in summer, so I did the old, “I’ll be careful” routine.

As I stepped out of his yard and headed to the creek, I heard him say, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

When I got to the creek, not only was I wearing short pants, but I had also pulled off my shoes so I could wade in the shallow water to get at the hard to reach fishing spots.

I was moving up stream on a well-worn path to get to another spot when I came up to a dead tree that had fallen across the way. As I stepped over the log, my mind was focused on thinking like a small-mouth bass.

As I was about to set my foot down on the other side of the log, I caught a glimpse of something on the other side.

My foot was in mid air when I saw the cottonmouth moccasin, which was as big around as the calf of my leg. It had its mouth wide open and about to strike.

Instinctively, I launched myself backwards in a maneuver that defied gravity, and it’s a miracle I didn’t experience hygiene issues.

I crawfished away from the log to put some distance between the snake and me.

Thankfully, it plopped into the water, swam to the other side and slid off into the underbrush.

When my heart finally returned to my chest from my throat, I looked around for my fishing gear, which had somehow ended up in the creek.

I waded in long enough to fetch my gear, but I decided to call it a day.

Mr. Plunkett was still sitting on the porch when I walked back home, and he looked a lot smarter than he did a few hours earlier.

I can tell you that I never went fishing in short pants again.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peaceful Easter

This morning after I poked the brew button on our coffeemaker, I stepped out on the deck to get a feel for the weather. The sky was transitioning from midnight blue to a color of blue that has no name. The moon was high in the sky and looked like a half eaten biscuit.
Even though the sun was not up, I could see tinges in the tops of trees and I knew it would be a beautiful day.
A while later I slipped on my shoes and stepped down to the road to fetch the Sunday paper as the sun peeped above the eastern horizon. At the end of the arbor, I saw a single blossom from the honeysuckle bush we planted there a few years ago. It had survived the harsh winter, and the color was stunning.
Pulling the iPhone from my pocket, I snapped the picture below. No camera can capture the nuance of texture and color, but even a sad rendition is beautiful.
Tonight my lovely spouse Jilda celebrates her 4-year blogging anniversary. Pop over and wish her a happy anniversary, and feel free to click the follow button there.
I hope you all have had a peaceful Easter weekend.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Old stuff

The warm weather this week put me in the mood to break ground. I went out a few days ago to till up a spot at the back of the fence.
The tiller sprang to life but then coughed and sputtered as if it had mechanical emphysema. I stepped to the shed to fetch my tools and cleaned the spark plug but when I tried to crank it I got the same result.
I checked gas, cleaned the filters and kicked the tires a couple time just to show I meant business, but
This is not my first planting season so I knew it was the old gum in the carburetor routine. My tiller is so old that Methuselah bought it used from an antique dealer and sold it for scrap to an ancestor (150 generations back) of the gentleman who sold it to me.
I've been using my local parts supplier for many years. Some of the parts they stock are marked with hieroglyphics instead of part numbers, so I felt sure they'd have a carburetor for my tiller.
When I walked in yesterday and asked for a rebuild kit or a replacement carburetor, the clerk asked for the model of the tiller. When I told him,  he and the guy a few registers down snickered audibly....which is NEVER a good sign.
That usually means that the price of the part is way beyond what I could get by knocking off a liquor store....I'd would have to donate a kidney.
When he told me they could have one of their old machinists build me a new carburetor, I walked out shaking my head.
I brooded about it for a while, but then I decided to have a shot at working on the carb myself. What could it hurt.
So after coffee and our morning walk, I put on my coveralls, fetched my tools and set to work. I removed the carb, disassembled and gently cleaned it as if it were a newborn baby that wasn't allergic to cleaning fluid.
When I put it back together and reinstalled it on the tiller, I had no idea if it would work or not. I filled the tank with gas, crossed my fingers, and pulled the crank-cord. It sprang to life and ran as solid as the day the cavemen built it. I was so happy, the twirling tines tossed freshly tilled earth into my teeth.
It feels good to fix something that not even I thought could be fixed

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's just a phase

No matter what you're going through in your life, if you can simply breathe and just hold on, it will
One thing I've learned through the years is that life is a series of phases.
When looking at the bigger picture and consider the earth is about 4.54 billion years old, my life wouldn't represent a blip on the radar of time.
Jilda often labels her life phases in haircuts and colors. The photo to the right was taken during a time when an enthusiastic hair stylist convinced her that a shag haircut would be right for her. She realized it was a mistake before she got home. It never looked good to her, but I thought it looked fine.
Unfortunately she did get a poodle cut once, and I can tell you our home was not a happy place until her hair was straight again.
I always kept my hair fairly short but when I was drafted in 1971, Uncle Sam shaved my head as slick as a cue ball. I told myself that when I got out I would wear my hair as I pleased. And I did.
The length of my hair caused friction between my dad and me.
He didn't approve, and I wouldn't change so we didn't talk to each other for a few years.
Thankfully it was a phase, and when I married Jilda in 1974, he was so crazy about her, the he forgave me. She has a way of winning people over.
These days I don't have an option on the length of my hair unless I wanted to let one side get REALLY long and comb it over to the other side.
That's not a phase I'll be going through.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inch by inch

Tomorrow is Good Friday and hopefully winter is behind us. This year has been one of the coldest winters in memory.
When the weather gets cold, work around our small farm comes to a standstill, so by the time the weather breaks, I have a todo list longer than my leg.
We need to refinish the kitchen floors, repaint the inside of the house, replace the couch and then start on the outside projects.
When you look at the entire list, it can be disheartening and overwhelming. I burned up a calculator trying to tally up what everything would cost. But then I took a breath and broke the list into smaller chunks.  All of a sudden things look manageable.
I had a meeting in the county seat today and on the way home I stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new hood for the stove. Our old hood is over 30 years old. and stopped working long ago. When it comes in next week, I'll be able to tick one of the items off my list.
Tomorrow we'll pick up a gallon of paint and start with the kitchen.
This afternoon, I spent some quality time sitting on the bench by the firepit and contemplated life and whatnot.  It felt good not to be bundled up like a cocoon.
I hope it gets warm where you are soon.

Life Changes

This is a pre-post, post

Hey Folks,
 I'm putting together my latest book which is a compilation of my "best of" columns. I'm looking for a few reviewers.
 If you have a little time and would be interested in reviewing the book before it hits the shelves, I can send you a PDF version.
 The reviews will be on the back cover and some of the inside pages.
Thanks for your consideration.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pitbull eats mobile home

My grandmother loved reading the National Enquirer. Even at a young age I knew that a pitbull had not eaten a mobile home. When I pointed this out to her she just laughed and said, "Probably not." But I have to admit, the headline made me read the story.

At any rate, in my blog questionnaire last night, I asked about headlines. Most everyone agreed that while captivating headlines might pull in a reader unfamiliar with my work, but most of you felt my titles were fine. 

I guess it was the question that brought back the memory of the pitbull headline so I thought I'd try it out here :)

I had several comments that were insightful. One being the color of my font. I had assumed it was black, but Diana said it looked gray to her. When I looked at the advanced tab of my template, sure enough it was gray. So I changed that and I also bumped up the size a little.
She also said that when I comment on her blog, the notification email she gets was set to Which meant, she couldn't simply respond to the email, which is a pain.
So, I Google'd how to fix it and made those changes as well.

I also changed the banner at the top. I think I'll play with these for a while until I find one that suits me.

Martha  suggested I make the post area a little wider and the sidebar a little more narrow.
When I looked at it, I thought this would be a good tweak too so I did that.

I had several other suggestions to consider.  

I'd talked about the dogwood tree in our front yard before. It was here when we moved in in 1980. Through the years it's grown steadily. It's a huge tree with weepy lower branches that drag the ground, and, it turns the west side of our yard into a blooming white cloud for a few weeks each spring.

Someone asked recently just how big the tree was, so before our walk this morning, I slipped the tape measure into the pocket of my sweatpants. When we walked the first lap, I had Jilda hold one end of the tape measure while I wrapped it around the base of the tree. It measured 60 inches (5 feet) in circumference. From outer branch of one side to the outer branch of the other, it measures 44 feet.

This tree is the reason we battle with the power company each year when they come through trimming trees. It's a battle worth fighting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blogging feedback ~ how do I get better

I've been spending time studying the pro bloggers and one of the tips I've picked up is the importance of titles.
I usually spend all my cycles trying to come up with a topic and by the time I post, which is usually just before I go to bed, my brain has the viscosity of bubblegum that's been stuck behind a headboard for a few years, so there's not a lot left for thinking of clever titles.
Since the idea of clever titles has escaped me, I began to wonder what other areas need improvement.
So here's a question to the people who've read my blog for a while:

1. Are my titles weak or should dig deeper when it comes to my titles?

2. Is the length of content too short? About right? Too long?

3. The design of the blog - Is it noisy? Cozy? Or needs more work?

4. Do the pictures - Add or detract?

4. Should I get out of blogging and start selling used cars?

Any feedback you have on the questions above or other tips on how to improve, I'd love to hear it.
Please, no vulgar language or I'll smite thee.


Wild white honeysuckle behind my barn today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Life lessons from the pear tree ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

I’ve had some setbacks in my professional career over the past few months, and I guess it’s only natural that I would ask myself some hard questions.

Like: Why am I even trying to succeed in this business? Wouldn’t it be easier to aim lower?
Or, I gave it my best shot, why don’t I just quit?

I went for a walk as I often do when I need to think, and I saw something that answered my question and made me smile.

One of the first fruit trees we planted here in 1980 was a Bartlett Pear. The fruit in late summer was the size of a softball. I have pulled hundreds of pears from the tree over the years, shined them on the pant leg of my blue jeans and bitten into them. 

Each time the warm juice dripped down my chin making my beard sticky. There are few things on this earth as sweet as a sun kissed pear.

A few years ago a type of blight attacked the tree. I spent the summer clipping out all the bad spots, but rather than let the cancer spread to the other fruit trees on our small farm, I decided to cut it down. It was not a decision I took lightly, but I thought it best for the better good. I flinched involuntarily when the chain bit into the green wood of the trunk.

I thought a year or two later the stump would rot so that I could kick it over and plant something new in its place.

Well, that little tree wasn't ready to quit. Last year it put out new limbs from what was left of the stump, and it grew. It was a gnarly little tree, but I gave it an “A” for effort.

One morning this past week when I went outside to walk, the little tree had several branches with blossoms white as cotton balls. 

I drew the phone from my pocket and snapped some photos of the ugly little tree.

Then the answer to my professional dilemma appeared in my head like a Polaroid photograph.

Here I was, ready to toss the typewriter because I’d received a few rejection letters. 

Quitting would have been easy. I knew when I started that success wasn’t guaranteed, but my ugly little tree made me realize that you only fail when you fail to keep trying. 

Successful people often have to keep chipping away even when it seems the odds are against them.

I’m reminded of the old saying, “If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.”

It’s only when I become like the little pear tree in my back yard and simply refuse to give up that I have a fighting chance to not only survive, but thrive.

So this spring I am thankful for that little pear tree. Not only will I have the opportunity to taste its sweet fruit again at summer’s end, but I also have it to thank for the valuable life lesson it taught me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Apple blossom

We had lunch in Homewood with our good friend Jan Andrews who is visiting from Michigan and then afterwards we had our monthly songwriter's meeting.
The weather has been stunningly beautiful, but a chance for colder weather is moving toward us which makes us nervous this time of year.
We did get a chance to walk after coffee this morning and I snapped a photo of an apple blossom. The tree is in full bloom this year. That often happens after a cold winter.
This will be a short post tonight, but I'd like to say thanks for the new followers that have stopped by over the past several days.
Have a great Easter week.
Apple blossom shot with iPhone and Hipstamatic app.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I stepped out on the deck just before seven this morning. A breeze wind out of the west made it a bit chilly.
When I looked toward the barn it looked smokey. All of a sudden a sneeze came on and had I done this at Wal-Mart, I would have heard a voice over the intercom, "Cleanup on aisle two."
I realized that it was not smoke I saw, but pine pollen. It was so thick I could have planted turnips on the bannisters.
Later when we walked, I saw something blooming down in the woods. I trekked down there to get a better look.
It was a buckeye bush. When the buckeyes come out on these bushes they look like small pears and the seeds inside are hard a stones.
When I was a kid, we used to use the buckeye seeds as redneck ammo. We'd cut limbs off an ironwood tree, sharpen the ends, stick on buckeye seeds and fling them.
Those seeds left the limber limbs so fast that you could hear them buzz. I've flung them out of sight.
I can also tell you that when one hit you, they sting like crazy. Once when I got caught in a crossfire, I got clipped by a buckeye seed traveling at warp speed. I had a bruise on my side for a week. It's a miracle that one of us didn't lose an eye playing with those things.
I reckon the Good Lord was watching out for his idiot children.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wild Thing

I had a band in junior high. We had two amplifies, a drum kit, and our mics plugged into the amps. We
were loud, the music was sporadic, and primal. The few gigs we had were short and avant garde even though none of us could spell avant garde, much less know the meaning of the phrase. Our main asset was that we were enthusiastic.
I think it's fortunate that consumer recording devices were rare and as a result there is no record of our performances except for dusty crevices in long-forgotten places in my mind.
One song that I do remember playing was Wild Thing written by Chip Taylor and initially recorded by The Wild Ones. The song only raced up Billboard charts to #1 when recorded by the British group, The Troggs.
Wild Thing (we sang WILD THANG) was basically three power chords that you could play for days, or so it seemed.
At any rate, and don't ask me why or how, when I saw this wild honeysuckle today, I started humming the tune to Wild Thing.
The mind is a fertile and funny thing.
Wild Thing
You make my heart sing
You make every-thing
Wild Thing

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The trees rejoiced

Our great room in winter looks like a greenhouse. We have lemon, grapefruit, and avocado trees that brush the vaulted ceiling.
I stumbled, sleepy eyed, out of the bedroom one morning last September and a thorny lemon branch made the side of my face look as though I'd been in a cat fight. That limb was pruned later that morning.
But when the weather turns in spring and frost is no longer a danger, we take the trees outside. We did that this past weekend and you could almost hear them rejoicing. Our great room echos now and seems empty as a church on Thursday.
It's nice having our space back and we can walk through the house without ducking and weaving.
Yesterday morning I took a break and sat out on the back deck to enjoy the sunshine. I snapped a picture of the sky. When I looked at the photograph just now, I saw a mango limb photobombed my picture of the sky.
The other picture is a vase of dogwood blossoms that Jilda gathered for the table.
Y'all have a great Friday.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


The folks in the  Alabama Media Professionals group asked me to talk about blogging in the monthly meeting tomorrow.
I do the newsletter for the group and I use one of my columns each month. 
Someone asked me how I come up with ideas for columns each week and when I explained that most of the seeds of columns came from my blog, that tweaked their interest.
So I did a brief outline for the talk and the bullet points are:
Why blog?
What should I blog about?
How often?
How do you build a following?
Can I make money blogging?
I can only share my experience as a blogger. There are people making a living with their blogs but they treat blogging like a job.
They have a marketable topic, and they become known as a subject matter expert in their field.
The reason I blog is to help me become a better writer. I've written well over 3200 posts since I started in December of 2005 and my style has evolved through the years. I've found my voice.
Though I didn't realize where I was heading at first, blogging helped me to land the job as a weekly columnist in the newspaper. The columns led to producing my books. I'm now designing the cover for my third book which is due out this summer. 
The books gave me credibility which helped me to get other newspapers across the south to pick up my column as well.
I love blogging but I fear some people get into it thinking they can make a fortune. While it is possible, it's like any other vocation, you get out what you put in. Being successful takes luck, and a lot of work.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The canvas

Each day the canvas is repainted here. One day the green gets a splash, the next the white of the dogwood turns your yard into a cloud that waves in the wind.
Today the pinks took the price. I'd been watching for the wild honeysuckles to bloom, but unlike years past where they lead the blooming pack, they held back this year.
I'm not sure if it was the cold weather, all the rain, or what, but today when I walked, I saw the beauty below dancing in the sun. I stepped over and snapped a photo.
I'm a little weary tonight so this one will be short. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Be mindful of the expiration date ~ My column from Sunday's Paper

Jilda and I went out of town recently and one establishment needed to check our identification.

She dug through her purse (I call it a duffle bag) and then handed the woman her driver’s license. The woman rubbed her thumb over the date to make sure she read it right and then said, “You don’t look

Jilda beamed and blushed a little. As she handed the license back she said, “You realize they expire at the end of the month.” That was on the 27th.

When Jilda took the license back, she looked at it to make sure the woman hadn’t made a mistake. She hadn’t.

Had the lady not caught the impending expiration, Jilda would probably have had to take the driver and road test again.

I immediately pulled my license out of my pocket to check the date. I don’t cherish the thought of retaking the test until I absolutely have to.

I think the test was easier back in the ‘60s when I took it. I went on January 16, 1967. My birthday is on January 15, but that was Super Bowl Sunday and the Green Bay Packers were playing the Kansas City Chiefs, so I had to go the next day.

I breezed through both the written and the road test.

Back then if you got the state trooper back to the courthouse without running down pedestrians, clipping any cars or forcing him to take a slug of the vodka from the flask in his back pocket, you passed.

I had a friend that was as blind as a bat and he still passed the driving test even though the trooper did spend the following weeks twitching involuntarily and muttering to himself.

The Alabama Driver’s manual has changed over the years as well, but I’ve always viewed the manual as suggestions and not hard and fast rules.

For example, when it comes to yielding, page 61 of the manual says that when two vehicles enter an intersection not controlled by signs or signals at approximately the same time, the vehicle on the left yields to the vehicle on the right. While that probably holds true to city folk, living in the country has taught us that the truck with the largest tires has the right of way no matter when it arrives.

There is also language in the manual now about texting and using cell phones. While the law doesn’t forbid talking on the phone, it lists several precautions you should take.

It is against the law to text, chat, or send emails while driving. Should you get caught texting, the fine for the first offense is $25. I snorted when I read this.

Twenty-five dollars is a few Starbucks lattes. The second offense is $50 and the third is $75.

With all the accidents caused by texting, I was thinking more on the lines of having a finger lashed off with a set of tree pruners. The second and third offenses should cost a hand and an arm respectively.

I know my justice sounds a bit harsh, but I think it would serve the greater good.

Anyhow, we arose early the next morning, had hasty coffee and got ready to head out to the courthouse.

Jilda dolled up because she wanted to make sure she looked good on the license photo.

I also put a reminder on my iPhone so I would know well in advance when my license expires.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Morning sky over Empire

Yesterday morning I got up before sunrise and poked the brew button on the coffee maker before stepping to the porch to get a feel for the weather.
The clouds to the south were breaking up and the sun highlighted the tips of the tallest trees leaving the rest in shadow.
I love the color blue of the sky at that time of morning. It's hard for a day to get off on the wrong foot when it's like that. It somehow makes me remember that things will be OK, no matter how dark it's been in your life. Yesterday was a good day.
Today was a good day too, but the sky had a much different cast. In fact, when I opened my eyes this morning I heard rain ticking on the tin roof.
The first wave passed so Jilda and I shoe'd up and got our walk in before the bottom fell out again.
We spent most of the day doing stuff we'd been putting off for some time. Jilda watched yoga training videos, and I watched videos from the Developing Your Musicianship course I just started taking on Coursera. If you haven't visited this site, it has hundreds of college-level courses you can take online for free. The one's I've taken so far have been awesome.
So even though we spent most of the day indoors, it was a fun day full of learning.

Morning sky over Empire

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Delightful day

I worked outside all afternoon. At one point I headed toward the shed to fetch the rake. Pollen on the hood of my truck was thick enough to grow turnips.
The rain moves in tomorrow and hopefully it will wash a great deal of the dusty stuff out of the air.
I fired up the riding lawn mower and cut the grass in the back yard. There were only a few places with grass high enough to mow, but it felt so good hearing the sound of the engine, feeling the warm sun on my face,  and smelling the freshly-cut grass that I decided to run over all the yard.
Afterwards I cut the engine and stood for a long time. All I could hear was the sound of birds with spring fever, and the ticking of the cooling mower engine.
I stepped down to the barn to look for a few pieces of wood needed for some work on the chicken pen. As I walked, I saw the evening sun highlighting moss on a hickory tree. The color was stunning so obviously I pulled the phone from my pocket and snapped a picture.
I have several piles of debris I need to burn, but there was just enough of a breeze to make burning unwise so I'll do that next week.
I hope today has been as delightful for you as it has for me.

Friday, April 04, 2014

End of the day

The phone rang before 5 a.m. this morning. Usually that's a drunken caller who fat fingered the phone number of an old girlfriend, or a prank caller. As it turns out it was an automated call from our local weatherman saying a sever thunderstorm was bearing down on Empire.
I slipped out of bed and went into the TV room to get the scoop from the Weather Channel. The radar had globs of red and yellow headed our way.
It seems the violent part dissipated before it arrived and we only got a few flashes, some rolling thunder, and buckets of rain. We needed the rain, and by daybreak it looked as though things had gotten greener.
I had to go pick up my truck after lunch and I drove home in the rain. We had leftover turnip greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread for lunch. Yum.
There is no better time to take a nap than on a rainy day.
When the alarm on my phone sounded, I stood, stretched and stepped out on the deck. The clouds had parted while we napped and I could see blue sky.
I put on my boots and began working on several things I'd been putting off for months. There's a privet growing in our fence down by the garden and I think it grows faster than kudzu in an old chicken pen.
I took the chainsaw, ax, and several other tools  to battle the infernal bush. I did get it dug out but I actually think it would have been simpler to replace the fence.
The tiller needed some attention and I fertilized the fruit trees. By dinner time, my fanny was dragging.
I put the tools back in the shed, went inside and freshened up.
Jilda already had dinner on the stove. I poured me a glass of red wine and stepped out on the deck to watch the sun settle into the horizon. It was a perfect end to the day.
End of the day

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wasted day

My truck is having issues this week. The water pump started leaking and it ran hot. As soon as I saw the needle move to "H", I pulled to the side of the road and switched the engine off. The reservoir was full so there was no way of knowing that it had gotten low of fluid.
Anyhow, it's at the shop and I've fretted all day. Only now as I type these words has it sunk in that "it is what it is."
A day worrying about something out of your control is  a wasted day and now I'm kicking myself for worrying about it.
I'll get the call tomorrow saying how much it will cost to fix it and I'll tell them to make it so. I might have to knock off a liquor store to pay the tab, but I will be in a loaner car so that's working for me.
On an up note, I snapped a photo of the dogwood blossoms this morning when I walked.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Little Tree That Could

A pear tree that we planted several years ago fell victim to one of the many blights that attack fruit trees here in the south.
I spent a summer trying to cut out all the bad spots but I ended up writing the tree off. I took my chainsaw and cut it down.
I thought a year or two later the stump would rot so that I could kick it over and plant something new in its place.
Well, that little tree wasn't ready to surrender. Last year it put out new limbs from what was left of the stump and it grew. It was a ugly little tree, but it wouldn't give up.
This morning when I went outside to walk, the little tree had several branches in full bloom.
I thought to myself -- I could learn something from this little pear tree and that is, you can never be defeated if you will not give up.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It's April

I saw my first dogwood blossom this morning. The pollen started and Jilda didn't want to walk today so I shoe'd up and headed out.
When I rounded the barn, the dappled morning sun hit one of the blossoms on the wild dogwood and it looked like a spotlight. It was too high in the tree to get a decent photograph but it was comforting to know that the other dogwood would not be far behind.
The big tree in our yard is on the verge, but it will take a few more days of warm weather to bring them out.
When I reached the back gate, I noticed the pear tree was also blooming. I used one of the "creative" Hipstamatic photo paks but once I downloaded the picture it looks like a color print that had water spilled on it....not what I envisioned, but it will have to do for tonight.
It's been a wacky auto day as both our vehicles chose today to act up. Mine is in the shop and Jilda's will probably have to go tomorrow unless by some miracle I can figure out what happened to her car.
We'll see. I sent my column in early this morning. It's about Jilda discovering that her driver's license was about to expire. I had a lot of fun with it but I won't be able to share it until next Monday evening.
Here's hoping spring is around the corner for my northern blog buddies.

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