Saturday, May 31, 2014

Life events

I haven't worn a suit in ages, but I've suited up twice in May. Both times we attended weddings.

This afternoon was a beautiful event at a place near Lake Logan Martin about three hours south of where we live.
It was an RSVP affair with a sit-down dinner for about a 100 people. A gourmet chef did the event and the food was remarkable.

Jilda went to grammar school with the bride's mother. They'd lost touch but Karen found Jilda and Facebook and they reconnected.

We rode down with our friends Jamie and Kaye and the table assigned to us had four other people we'd never met, but became instant friends.

It was a long drive home in the rain, but we're both glad we could share this life event with dear friends.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fun with chicks

Our great-nephew Jordan was supposed to go with his granny today, but he was less than excited. She couldn't figure out what was going on.
She called Jilda to talk for a while early this morning and she told his granny that we had new baby chicks. Jilda told her that he could stay with us until this afternoon.
Nanna covered the phone and called to him asking if he wanted to stay with us. He did. I had a feeling he'd want to.
He spent much of the day peeking over the edge of the brooder watching the feathery little critters.
I asked if he wanted to hold one. He did and I snapped this picture.
I'm sure it will grow old because Sunday we'll have 12 more if they all hatch. Soon when they get bigger we'll slowly introduce them into the main chicken pen.
We should have eggs o-plenty by summer's end.
Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I borrowed an incubator from Jilda's sister in early May. It's an old one and the heat control is a little iffy.
I thought I had it regulated and I put a dozen of our eggs in. I bought a digital thermometer to make sure the readings were close.
Ideally the temp should remain between 99.5 and 100.5 for 21 days. After a few days when I checked the digital thermometer, the incubator was too hot. When I read about the process, some of the books said if it gets too hot, the eggs won't hatch. So after two days I replaced ten of the eggs and left two.
We kept our great nephew Jordan today and we heard something scratching in the incubator. When I peeped through the looking glass on top, a tiny chick not much bigger than a moth was stumbling around in the darkness. It was one from the first batch (The other one hatched out later in the evening.)
When I pulled the tiny chick out to put it in the makeshift brooder, Jordan was beside himself. I put a 100 watt mechanics light inside the box to keep the little one warm while we wait for the others to hatch. Jordan spent much of the afternoon looking through a tiny gap in the top of the box watching.
I had work to do, but every few minutes he'd run to me to give an update. I'm really glad the little chick chose today to make her debut for Jordan.
Our garlic also burst out today so it's been a day of discovery for Jordan.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The earth is an ever-changing five-D canvas. Just when you think there's nothing new,
You'll see a new shade of red in the setting sun that you've never noticed,
Smell a scent on the evening breeze, thats foreign, yet familiar,
Taste a flavor that's made with a combination of ingredients you've never imagined,
Hear music so powerful it makes you weep for reasons you can't explain, or
Feel an emotion that has no name.
To me, these experiences are the marrow of life. Don't close your eyes....or your mind.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Planting flowers

Last year the flowers in our garden were stunning. They were perennials that had been coming back for years, but this past winter was brutal so this spring the flowers did not return.
Thankfully I got a lot of pictures to remember them by.
A few weeks ago I tilled up the plot and we planted a new crop. Late last week we saw them beginning to peek out. Maybe by mid June we'll have a stunning stand of daisies, old maids, and other assorted butterfly magnets.
I'll shoot some new pictures when they arrive, but I'll post a photo I shot last year to show you what we hope to get.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

I took a book from my shelf today and a picture fell to the floor from between the pages. I
thought at first it was some kind of receipt until I picked it up and flipped it over.
On the right margin written in blue ink was June 71, but I knew the instant I picked it up when and where it was taken.

Uncle Sam drafted me in April of that year. One moment I was studying psychology, history, sociology, and badminton at Jefferson State Community College, and it seems like the next moment, I was standing in a warehouse full of guys my age getting our heads shaved.

One of the draftees in our group looked like Fabian with hair as black as anthracite. He asked the barber with pleading eyes if he could leave some length to his hair. The GI barber listened intently and shaking his head understandingly. The trainee breathed a sigh of relief until the barber proceeded to buzz the shaver right down the middle of the guys scalp. You could almost hear him whimper as the barber finished up and said, “Welcome to the Army.”

The next day we were on a bus headed for our new home in Charlie Company at Fort Campbell Kentucky. It was April 3, and the weather was nice. 
I weighed about 150 pounds when I stepped off the bus at the barracks. One of the drill sergeants in the welcoming committee called me chubby. 

When June rolled around, we were running all over the state of Kentucky, and it was hotter than Satan wearing spandex. 

By the end of basic training in late June, I weighed 135 pounds, and I was in the best shape I'd ever been in. That’s when the picture from the book had been snapped.
Many people complained about the Army, but for me it wasn’t that bad.

Growing up in the rural south, I was already a decent shot with a rifle, and camping came easy for me.

I learned the true meaning of hurry up and wait. While we ran everywhere, we spent half of our time in basic waiting on something.

So, when all was said and done, I found it hard to whine.

Many of the good things that have happened to me in my life were the result of the Army. I learned to follow orders, and I learned when to keep my mouth shut. Both of these skills are invaluable if you plan to stay married. I consider it an honor to have served.

I was lucky in that my tour took me to Central America even though Vietnam was still a hotspot. As it turned out, Panama was like an extended vacation in the tropics except that I had to wear unfortunate clothing.

This coming Monday is Memorial Day and as I write these words I remember that a lot of young men and women had a much different experience in the military than I did.
This last decade we have asked a great deal from our troops, who are now volunteers, and many have laid down their lives.

This Memorial Day I’ll hang my American Flag and let it dance proudly in the breeze. I hope you'll join me in taking a moment to thank those who made it possible.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Family stories

I've been working on a history project as I mentioned a few days ago. The project gave me an opportunity to browse old photographs. 

This photo had somehow been misfiled but I came across it this evening. It's of my grandmother and grandfather (seated), with all their kids and most of their grandkids. My older brother Neil, my cousin Carlton, nor my baby brother Darrin are in the picture. I'm not sure where Neil and Carlton were, but Darrin had not yet been born.

I'm kneeling (second from the left). It was taken within a half mile of where I was born. Over half of the people pictured here have since died. Many of them died way too young. 

Digging through history you experience sadness and exhilaration. The little group of people had few feuds. We, for the most part, enjoyed being with each other. 

Through the years, I've written about most of the people in this picture. It's where many of the stories I've writen came from.

Even families that lived in close proximity, are diverse. In this picture we have a blacksmith, a bootlegger,  a welder, a tinkerer, an engineer, a pentecostal preacher, a seamstress, a horse trainer, and a writer. That only touches a few.

Jilda and I have friends with siblings that haven't spoken in 30 years for some long forgotten slight. I'm thankful that we were either too shallow to be offended, or chose to rise above any hard feelings.

I want to do a video of my extended family with pictures and stories. I'll share it when it's done.

I hope you all have a remarkable Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Days like today are too rare

We had about 20 people over today for a good old fashion fish fry. Our nephew Haven caught about 30 pounds of bass, crappie and bream over the past few months and suggested we do a cookout for family and friends.
Jilda and I have worked for days whipping the house into shape which was no easy task since we kept waiting for  warm weather before doing our spring cleaning and it seemed the winter would never end.
This past week has been incredible, so we've gotten a lot done.
Today Haven showed up with gas-fired friers, the fish, and all the fixin's. We set up under the shade of the oak and pine in the yard.  All I had to do was fetch his drinks. I had iced down drinks and two watermelons in a #3 washtub.
The fish was cooked to perfection and Jilda's hushpuppies are better than any I've ever eaten. Jayna fixed the slaw, Pat brought brownies, Asa Faith whipped up celery stick with her special toppings and Jilda's treatment chair-buddy Lewis brought his slaw with a patented recipe.
We sat around outside and broke bread with some of our dearest friends. I wish I had thought to take more pictures, but I'm thankful I got the pictures below. Days like today are too rare.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Never look a fortune cookie in the mouth

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. Jilda worked doing her yoga and meditation magic on her patients and I spent time on my history project. I'd been in the hot sun all afternoon and felt as wilted as a three-day-old corsage.
On the way home I realized she was probably wilted too, so instead of her having to come home and cook, I'd see if she was in the mood for some food.
As it turns out, she wanted take-out from our local Chinese restaurant. We've known the lady who owns the restaurant for many years.
As she clicked in the price of our dinners on the keys of a calculator with numbers worn off years ago, she paused for a moment to look up at me. "I loved your column in last weeks' paper," she said in broken English. "Sometimes I feel like you are writing about me."
I thanked her of course, but on the way home as the aroma of moo goo gai pan and steamed vegetables wafted up through the cab of my truck, what she'd said slowly seeped into my mind.
How is it possible that someone from a culture half a world away from rural Alabama can identify with something that I wrote? It's a mystery, but I never look a fortune cookie in the mouth.
I'm telling you, we live in an interesting place and time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A fun project

I spent the afternoon working on a project with our friend Gene Gravlee. He's a local historian that has documented the location of 344 cemeteries in the county in which we live.
He has been doing genealogy and local history for so long that he has thousands of stories. We usually see Gene at the funeral home when a mutual friend has passed away. I kept telling him that we should get together and document some of the stories for future generations.
In years past we kept promising each other that we'd make it happened but it never did. I had a little spare time on my calendar the past week so on a whim, I dialed him up to see if he could meet me at a local cemetery. It happens that he did, have some time and last Friday he met me at Davis Cemetery where I was doing cleanup duty.
We found a shade under a huge sweetgum tree and mapped out a rough plan. We were standing within a few feet of the grave of William Penn Sargent. William was a Confederate soldier who was with Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy when he was captured by Union forces at the end of the Civil War.
I pulled the iPhone from my pocket and video'd him telling William Penn Sargent's story.  I recorded several more which I posted on the website and also on website which are two sites that I maintain.
We've gotten a lot of positive feedback on our work. Gene is actually kin to Jilda and he's documented one branch of her ancestry back to the Revolutionary War.
Gene has sat in on historical committees, ancestry meetings, and think tank groups which spent a great deal of time talking about how to preserve history, but we both agree that talking doesn't get it done.
Those meetings are necessary to plan out strategies, but you also have to get some mud on your shoes traipsing through old graveyards. To me, that's the fun part.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Time well spent

The mercury danced with 90 today. What clouds were in the sky looked as if they'd been created by passing planes.

We kept our great nephew Jordan and he's entertained us. It was the first day of summer for him because his kindergarten classes ended.

When he arrived, I was sitting outside on a stone bench. He came running through the house and onto the deck with a smile almost as bright as the florescent orange tee shirt he wore.

As he scooted up next to me on the bench, I asked what we should do with this beautiful day.
Let's make sugar cookies! He said.
Yes. Let's. I agreed. What else?
We made a list.
1. Sugar cookies
2. Blow bubbles
3. Walk to the barn
4. Plant watermelons (I added this one)
5. Pick flowers and strawberries

That's a great list I told him...and both Jilda and I made sure we did them all and a lot more.
By the time he left this afternoon, Jilda and I both needed a nap.

Tonight I stepped out on the deck to toss grounds from the coffeemaker and I took a moment to enjoy the evening sky. The sun had slipped below the trees to the west, but still enough light to snap one last picture of the day.

I've come to understand that time spent with a child is time well spent.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A place of refuge

There's a place behind the barn where I go to meditate. It's a rock precipice that drops off about a hundred feet into a small creek that flows near our house.

The rock looks as if it's covered with carpet the color of emeralds. Even in summer when it gets too hot to fish, the rock which is nestled under a canopy of oak and hickory, remains green.

It seems much cooler there even when the air is as thick as molasses with humidity that can't be explained to anyone who's never experienced it. They simply have no point of reference.

But meditation rock, as I call it, is my refuge. I can walk down there and all I hear is the sound of songbirds, chattering squirrels, and water gently flowing over stones worn smooth by years of resistance.

Everyone should have a place of their own. Whether it's a corner of the attic, a bench in the backyard, loft steps in the barn, or a place in the sun in Central Park.

A place of refuge is where you go when life's moving too fast, and the only way to make sense of anything is by slowing things down.

I'm not sure where I'd go had I never found meditation rock.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A trip to the dump

It’s time to go to the dump. 

I have my household garbage picked up by the county once a week, but there are things I don’t toss in the garbage. Aluminum cans and other scrap metal get recycled, along with old batteries and plastic, so I stack that stuff inside the backyard fence behind a gardenia plant which seems to be growing faster than the national debt.

Today as I sat on my screened porch writing, I removed my glasses and rubbed the bridge of my nose with my thumb and index finger. 

I find myself doing this from time to time not because my nose is bothering me, but it gives me a moment to reflect. That’s when I noticed the gnarly trash peeking from behind the gardenia.

In years past, I had a dump partner. Just mentioning the word dump put Ol’ Buddy in a state of excitement equaled only by the sound of bacon sizzling in the skillet. 

Ol’ Buddy was a little mutt that we had for over 10 years, and during that time, he was my constant companion.

Most people find the smell and the grunge of a dump bordering on disgusting, but to Buddy, it was like a banquet.

The first time I took him, I made the unfortunate decision to let him out to stretch his legs. By the time I got the trash unloaded from the back of my pickup, he’d found a pile of something just a little south of rancid fish, wrapped in a dirty baby diaper.

I pulled my gloves from behind my seat, picked him up and tossed him in the bed for the ride home. I wasn’t sure how he would like riding in the back, but when I looked in the mirror, he was standing on the fender well looking off the side of the truck with his ears flapping like kites on short strings. He was in heaven.

We lost Ol’ Buddy last fall to cancer, and I haven’t been to the dump since. 

In the 40 years we’ve been married, we’ve never been without a dog. 

Most have been mutts with questionable linage, but by chance, a thoroughbred collie wandered up to our house just before Ol’ Buddy died, and adopted us as his new parents.

We named him Caillou after a childhood cartoon character. 

As a bonus we found that we liked the way the name sounds when we call him in each evening. He is a regal animal with fur as soft as an expensive sable coat. 

He has an accusing aristocratic nose that he looks down each time I try to pet him when I’m sweaty after working outside.

Each morning he waits until the dew dries from the grass before going outside to use the bathroom because he doesn’t like getting his paws wet.

Let’s just say, Caillou is not a dump dog. In fact, if given a choice, he’d probably prefer to go the vet to be neutered than go to the dump. I have a feeling he thinks going to the dump is for peasants.

So this will be the first time in years I’ll make a dog-less dump run. It won’t be the same without Ol’ Buddy.

My Anniversary Posts is picked up by

Hey Folks,
 This is a pre-post, post :) republished my column about our 40th Anniversary. The hit count on the newspaper's website has doubled this morning.
 Click below to read what the writer said about it. I B SOOO Excited.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fun weekend

We had company coming today, so we spent a good bit of time this week sprucing the place up. On Friday we planted flowers and vegetables. We also repotted ferns. Our screened porch is like the perfect fern habitat. The fern Jilda is working with here is almost as big as she is.
Today we had a crew from Jilda's family come for lunch. There was a house full of kids so she cooked deviled eggs, and corn on the cob which are kid-pleasers.
We had smoked ham along with new potatoes with green beans, blackeyed peas, cornbread, sweet tea and lemonade.
She whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the kids. Jilda's sister Pat brought a lemon trifle which is one of my favorite desserts.
I hope you all had a great weekend.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I wrote about cemeteries last night. I'd spent the day working at one of the oldest cemeteries in the county. But today we attended the wedding of our good friends Skip and Lisa and I felt that writing about weddings tonight had a certain symmetry to it.
I know it's not manly to admit, but I often get teary-eyed at weddings. It can be people I hardly know. There's just something about the music, children with flowers in their hair, people smiling and some of the most beautiful words ever written that somehow seeps deep within my soul and conjures up tears.
Today was no exception. When Skip was saying his vows, his voice cracked with emotion, and all of a sudden I had tears in my eyes too.
It was a small ceremony in an old Methodist Church in the country. The afternoon sun had fun with the stain glass windows, and the colors in the old church were remarkable.
Skip told Jilda and me last fall that he had asked Lisa to marry. He told me that the relationship that Jilda and I have was an inspiration. We both were so flattered that he would say that.
He'd been married a long time ago, but had been single through all the years we've known him. I am so happy that he found someone to spend the rest of his life with.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Decoration Day is only a few weeks away so I spent the morning working there. I'd promoted cleanup
day on Facebook, but when I got there this morning, it was a work party of one.
There's a lot to be done, but I didn't mind working alone. A cool front moved through after the rain moved out and today was as close to perfection as you can get. A gentle breeze out of the west made even strenuous work practically perspiration free. The sky was as blue as a photograph with wisps of clouds as white as aspirin-bottle cotton.
The only person that showed up was my old friend Gene Gravlee. He's a local historian, and I got an opportunity to video him talking about historical points of interest in the cemetery.
The cemetery has one veteran of the Spanish American War,  several men who fought in the War Between The States, WWI and WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
It's where my people are many great grandfathers that it would sound as if I were stuttering.
After the history lessons (and videos) Gene and I found a place in the shade and we sat on headstones and talked about the future.
I've often wondered what will happened to the old cemeteries when my generations dies. These days most cemeteries are perpetual care and are as well kept as most golf courses.
But the old cemeteries where long-dead families put up clay-brick borders, and planted small trees at the headstones to provide an eternal shade for their loved ones, are another matter.
It's hard to maintain these cemeteries. The small trees planted 50 years ago are now 90 feet tall. Cutting around those quaint borders takes countless hours of manual labor.
I don't consider this work. To me, it's like therapy. I talk to the headstones and wish they could somehow tell the life story of those buried there. So many remarkable stories have been lost because there was no one there to listen.
Today I had a chance to record Gene telling several of these stories and tonight all I can say is that I'm glad I was there to capture his words.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love What You Do

It seems our motto has become Do What You Love, Love What You Do. We wrote a song by that title and we put it on our current CD we recorded late last year.
Our friend Steve is one of the best at picking out the perfect Christmas and Birthday presents.
He found this wall-hanging somewhere and bought it for Jilda and me for Christmas.
It's a beautiful gift and when we cleaned off the screened porch, we found the perfect place to hang it.
I wish I were better at selecting personal gifts. Jilda is a master, but if left up to me, I wind up buying practical things like guitar strings, or perhaps a can of mace.
Jilda snapped this photo of me this past week when I was out there writing.
Speaking of writing, I got a note from today. They want to use the column I wrote about our 40th Anniversary for their online publications. is The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, The Mobile Press Register, which pretty much blankets the state of Alabama.
I'm not sure if anyone will read it, but I'm excited to get the additional exposure.
Tomorrow is Friday and I'll be working down at the cemetery where my folks are buried. There's nothing like the sound of an angry weed eater first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring is a symphony

It's been an old rainy day here today. The first wave came through before first light and when I stepped out on the deck to dump coffee grounds, the plants seemed to be singing. I couldn't hear them but you know that look people get on their faces when they're singing? The plants had that look.....sort of.

After coffee when I walked down to the garden gate and looked over the fence, the tomatoes seemed to be singing along too. The squash and okra popped up just in time to sing the bassline.

We harvested a few ripe strawberries earlier in the week, but this morning they were hanging full. You guessed it, mezzo sopranos.

The pears and apples were singing off key of course, but their enthusiasm was so contagious, that it was hard to chide them.

I'm not sure I ever realized that spring is a symphony.

Honeysuckle Dreams

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

End of the day

I sat on the side porch and wrote for most of the afternoon. I finished my column for this week, in record time. Jilda gave me the idea and these days, the initial idea is half the battle.
When I finished, I snapped my laptop closed and sat watching the sun drift toward the horizon. The screened porch is in shade most of the day, but for about 30 minutes in late evening, the sun paints the porch and the stained glass mobiles cast spears of colored light across the table.
I went inside and poured a cup of hot mint tea and stepped to the back deck to check on the progress of all the things we have planted in containers. Things have exploded this week.
We have fuschia flower with leaves that feel like velvet. I'm not sure what they're called, but they are beautiful.
I set the tea on the bannister and stepped barefoot to the ground and snapped this photo. Tomorrow is humpday. Jilda's off so we're going to buy a few more plants for the garden.
I hope you all have a remarkable midweek.

Monday, May 12, 2014

We beat the odds ~ My column from Sunday's paper

There is no photographic record of our wedding. I had a state-of-the-art Canon F1 camera in 1974 that I paid for on the installment plan, but I was always behind the lens and rarely in front.

We had driven to Brewton, Alabama, to the home of Coy Phillips and his wife Brenda. Coy had been the preacher where Jilda’s family attended church.

I’d worn blue jeans on the ride down. Jeans and a T-shirt were all I wore in those days except for special occasions. For the ceremony, I put on grey slacks, a white shirt and a brown velvet jacket. Jilda had on a beige voile dress with crochet lace trim and she looked like a China doll.

Standing on the front porch of a doublewide trailer, the preacher opened his tattered Bible and began to read from 1st Corinthians. His voice rang out to anyone within earshot.

It was a warm afternoon in south Alabama but a gentle breeze blew out of the west and cooled my face.

I gave Brenda a crash course in wedding photography showing her how to look through the viewfinder, how to focus and which buttons to push. My instructions must have sounded like Mandarin Chinese to her because after the honeymoon when I developed the film, the negatives looked as though the pictures were shot at midnight without a flash.

We said our goodbyes to Coy and Brenda and aimed our old Plymouth Valiant towards the beach.

We stopped at a mom and pop convenience store just south of town and bought a couple of Hostess Twinkies. We parked under the shade of a giant oak, pulled a chilled bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine from the cooler in the back seat, ate our Twinkies, and with red plastic cups we toasted our future together.

We honeymooned at the Quinn Cottages in Laguna Beach, which is just west of Panama City. Jilda’s family had stayed with the Quinn’s each summer for many years, and the elderly couple was like family.

We spent our days swimming in the warm water of the gulf, walking on the beach and eating seafood so fresh, I’m surprised it didn’t wiggle.

The cottages were built with concrete blocks and had no AC, so we slept on the screened porch and fell asleep each night to the sound of the surf.

There were no condos then, only mom and pop stores, restaurants and sea shell shops. It was a place where people from up north came year after year because it was like a community.

After the honeymoon, we headed home, which in those days was a 12x65 foot house trailer on a small lot we rented from the Lion’s Club.

I worked for The Community News and Jilda worked at Keynote Fashions. Even with our combined wages, we probably qualified for government assistance, but we made it fine most of the time.

A handicapper in Las Vegas would have given odds that our marriage wouldn't last. There were times when the stars lined up against us, and it might have been easier to walk away, but we didn't.

As I sit here reflecting on our 40th anniversary, I'm happy we found each other and found a way to beat the odds.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thanks for the compass

I woke up with a tinge of sadness today. When my mom was alive, I always called her early on Mother's Day.
I tried to be the first, but my sisters were devious and would try to call her before I did. Rarely did they succeed.
This afternoon I spent a lot of time on Facebook which is rare for me. Everyone was posting photos of their moms and I did my best to LIKE every one of them.
What I wanted to say is: Do your best to tell her each day what she means to you because there will come a time when that is no longer possible.
My mom was not an educated woman, but she had an internal compass that rarely strayed from true north.
She understood what it took to make it in life, and she drilled those lessons into all of us kids.
She loved us all, but she wasn't afraid to lite us up when we got too far off course. Thank for the compass mom.
Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I'm bone tired tonight. Jilda and I played Art in the Park in Jasper today with a bunch of our friends. It was actually Art in the Gym as it had rained too much to have the event outside in the park, but we had fun anyhow.
It seems our music equipment gets heavier each time we use it. I'm guessing the speakers weigh about 60 pounds each, but when you have to hoist them up on stands, they feel much heavier.
When we got home around 4 p.m., I sent a text to most of the people that call us here at home saying:
Napping, DNC unless 911. Thankfully we didn't get any calls.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I got on the wagon on Facebook and posted a photo of my mom. I like to think of her as she was in this photograph.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I hope you have a blessed day.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Fun Day

Our great nephew Jordan's teacher sent word to us that she wanted us to read for the kindergarten class today.
We've done this before and it's always a hoot. The kids are sooooo excited when they have visitors. Yesterday we went to the bookstore and browsed for a good book to read. Jilda found Pete the Cat, Rockin' in My School Shoes.
This morning I put on my guitar shirt, and my Converse Allstars. I packed up the guitar and we headed back to school.
We thought we'd be reading for Jordan's class of about 20 kids, but Ms. Bailey invited all five classes so when we started we had almost a hundred kids.
Halfway through the book when we got to Rockin' with my School shoes part, the kids were dancing in the isles. I wish someone had video'd taped it for us.
After the school, we headed in to Birmingham to meet Jilda's sister and our nieces for Mother's Day lunch.
It was a fun day. Tomorrow we play Art in the Park, but I have a feeling the audience won't be half as receptive when we play Rockin' With My School Shoes.

I snapped the photo on our screened porch as the sun began to set.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Interesting times

I was trying to come up with a topic for tonight's update and found myself spending more time tapping than typing.
For some random reason, I clicked on Google Search and as I thought about what to search for, I noticed the little icon below the window that said "Feeling Lucky".
Clicking on the Lucky icon sent me to Google maps. The place it wanted to show me looked amazing, but I wondered what street view would show on my street (loose use of the word).
I clicked on North America, then I clicked on the USA, then Alabama, and as I drilled down, the display returned towns and cities I've known all my life.
Google Earth is a remarkable (and scary) product. I live 11 miles from the nearest grocery store. Our community doesn't have a red light. It only has stop signs, but if you actually stopped at one, you'd run the risk of being rear-ended, as no one actually stops, but I can see the wrought iron furniture on my back deck which for me is the scary part.
We live in an interesting time. If the consumer satellite images were just a little better, and a little more time sensitive, they would have seen this petunia blooming in our backyard today

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A beautiful spring

We ran by the home of Jilda's sister yesterday. She lives on a small farm not far from where we live. Her yard is a garden and her fields are filled with fruit trees, vegetables, and berries. She, along with her husband and son keep it as well maintained as a country-club golf course.

We'd stopped by her house to borrow an incubator. We want to hatch out a batch of baby chicks and our chickens don't seem to be the motherly type. 

As I was about to get back into the car to leave, this purple iris was so vivid in the evening sun, that it would have been wrong not to get a photograph. I try not to knowingly do things that are wrong, so I pulled the phone from my pocket and snapped this picture.
I hope spring where you live is as beautiful as it is here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Fun day

Jilda took vacation this week to pal around. Today we went to see the Delacroix exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art. 
We met our friends Kaye and Jamie for lunch before viewing the art. The food was exceptional and the service outstanding. This is a winning combination in my book. When you put the restaurant in beautiful setting it's hard to beat.
I have to say I didn't know much about Delacroix before today, but the exhibit was remarkable. He did things no other artist was doing. It was a fun day. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

I'm happy that she chose me

There is no photographic record of our wedding. I had a state-of-the-art Cannon F1 camera that I paid off on the installment plan, but I was always behind the lens and rarely in front. 
We had driven to Brewton, Alabama to the home of a friend who had for years been the preacher where Jilda's family attended church at the time.
Standing on the front porch of a double-wide trailer, the preacher tied the knot. I'd given the preacher's wife a crash course in wedding photography, but perhaps she would have understood better had I been speaking Mandarin Chinese, because the negatives were so blurry you couldn't make out an image on any of them.
After the wedding, we headed farther south to Panama City Beach, Florida for our honeymoon. We stayed at the Quinn Cottages. They were small cottages built on slabs with concrete blocks. There was no AC in the cottage, so we slept on the screened porch and listened to the sound of the surf.
There were no condos then, only mom and pop stores, restaurants, and sea shell shops.
A handicapper would have given odds that our marriage wouldn't last. There were times when the stars lined up against us, and it might have been easier to walk away.....but we didn't. And sitting here on Cinco de Mayo 2014, our 40th anniversary, I'm happy that we found each other, and found a way to stay together.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Love what you do

This past winter was long and harsh. Normally there are days when the weather is mild enough to work outside, but that wasn't the case this year.

Things began to pile up and many of the routine tasks that we normally do, were left undone. This past week the weather has been phenomenal so we began to dig out.

Today we tackled our screened porch. It's where I write during spring and summer. Jilda and I often do morning coffee on the porch with soft music drifting from the speakers I installed out there.

Dust and pollen was so thick on the floor and furniture, that we could have grown peanuts.

We took the table, glider, chairs, and shelves off the porch and into the yard so that we could spray them off with a hosepipe.

Next we scrubbed the floors and swept the ceiling. There were spider webs in the corners that could easily have served as fishing nets.The webs were so big, it looked as if the builders could have been the size of gerbils.

When everything dried, we hauled the furniture back up.

Our friends Steve and Judy gave us a gift last year that we couldn't figure out where to hang.
As it turns out, the porch was the perfect place. This evening when we were winding down, Jilda snapped this picture of me in front of the sign enjoying a glass of sweet tea..

We wrote a song entitled Do What You Love, but the line goes:
Do What You Love, and Love What You Do. Our friends have a knack for choosing perfect gifts.
I can't wait to start writing on the porch.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Happy birthday Brian

Jilda and I went to our friend Brian's birthday party tonight. His birthday was a few months back but his party had to be rescheduled due to bad weather. I'm guessing there were 40 people there and we had a huge time with our friends, and as always we made new friends.
His wife Mary had asked me to do the toast. I'd actually never done a toast before, but I was honored and flattered she asked.
I started it off with some humor, but my toast took on a more serious tone.
Brian is a remarkable guy. He's no stranger to hard times. Mary is his second wife. His first wife died of cancer and a short time later, his young son died of cancer too. I have no point of reference for that kind of loss, but he stuck with his wife until the end.
Several years ago he met our good friend Mary and eventually they were married. Before their fifth anniversary, she too was diagnosed with cancer. 
Mary is a survivor and Brian stayed by her side. He has a gentle strength that one might miss if they'd only met him in passing. But my friend is a rock.
That's the message I tried to get across in the toast. I ended it with the old standby:
Let's raise our glasses and drink to Brian's coffin. May it be built from a hundred year-old oak that we plant tomorrow.  
Happy Birthday Brian.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Blue-sky day

It was a blue-sky day here in Empire. We had a rare weekend that was not stuffed with stuff to do, so we did routine things.
Jilda worked on her closet which can actually be a little scary at times, and I worked in the yard. There were leaves in the front flower beds that had fallen last autumn. I told Jilda I was letting them rot to fertilize the beds. It was worth a shot, but the notion didn't fly. I didn't expect it would but it gave me some time which actually served my purpose.
I hauled rotting leaves to the garden. I didn't weigh them, but my knees would testify on my behalf that it was at least a ton of organic matter. The tomatoes will rejoice. When I took a water break, I snapped a picture in the backyard of the sky.
This evening I sat on the back deck as the sun settled in the west. The sky was still incredible. Sitting there thinking about the meaning of life and sipping on a glass of Merlot, I realized that it had been a blue-sky day.

Thursday, May 01, 2014


We have no water tonight. That's an issue. Our electricity is as fleeting as success, but through the years we've bought candles, battery powered lanterns, and other things that make life bearable without the lights, but not having water is tough.
We live in the country, and this perhaps is too much information, but when I have to go to the bathroom, I go out in the woods behind our house. But with Jilda, it's a different story. Something about hopping spiders, snakes, and redbugs as big as chihuahuas makes her hesitant to visit Mother Nature when nature calls.
So I have the water company on speed dial and I've been badgering them all evening. He keeps saying, every time I call, it lengthens the time we won't have water. I think I'm an aqua-hostage.
Here's a little word of advice to everyone ---- don't take your water for granted.

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