Friday, October 31, 2014

Tiny stars

We have tiny glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of our bedroom. They're barely visible in daylight, but snap off the lights in the evening, and our ceiling comes to life.

We put them there when our 25 year-old-niece was an infant. She learned to love those stars before she could talk. Who needs a pacifier when your room has stars.

I noticed those stars this morning at 4 a.m.  Someone was walking down the road in front of our house, and both dogs went berserk.

Normally I fall back to sleep instantly at that hour, but not this morning. I wasn't worried, I wasn't stressed, and I didn't have to go to the bathroom...but still I was wide awake.

Tonight I'm paying the price. It's barely 9 p.m. and listing to starboard.

It's time to say "Good night, sweet dreams."

I hope you have a remarkable weekend.

Mandevilla blooming in October

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dogwood protector

There's a dogwood tree by the drive in our front yard that has been here since we moved here in 1980. I measured it once, but can't recall the circumference, or how far the limb-span is, but it's massive.

It turns a beautiful green in spring before many of the other trees, and then the dogwood buds pop out with white flowers as big as tennis balls.

It turns that part of my drive into a fluffy white cloud that dances in the breeze.

In autumn, the leaves turn a beautiful shade of red, before putting on berries.

It's berry time now and I snapped a photo this morning.

It's the one tree in our yard that would chain myself to if the power company were to insist it has to come down.

Every four years they send a new crew of cutters around and I always see them walking around the tree before I get outside.

"You can't cut this tree," I say firmly.

"It's on the power company's right-of-way," they say.

"I don't care if it's growing through the center of the power company president's living room, you can't cut this tree."

The standoff begins.

"Tell your supervisor I want him out here," I tell them.

"He's in Tuscaloosa," and that's 60 miles away.

"I don't care if he's in Kuala Lumpur," I say glibly.

The team lead is standing his ground.

I pull out my cell phone, and dial a retired area manager that I've know for years.

About three minutes later, the radio in his truck squawks.

It's the team lead's supervisor and I hear him say, "Call me on my cell phone."

Mumbling comes from the back of the truck.

The team leads gives instructions to the crewmen standing around who are now smiling a little, and they pack up their saws and move on down the road.

"We've decided to watch this tree for a few years," he says.

"That's an excellent idea," I say.

Three or four years from now, I'll replay the scene with a new crew team lead.

I'm a reasonable guy, but there is no way limbs that are no bigger than threads can hurt the power line and they aren't going to ruin my tree.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A simple hunch

I'm wrapping up loose ends on a story that I've been researching for weeks. Most stories are assigned to me and after making a few calls, or visiting a person or two, I knock the story out.

But this was a self assigned story. One that I got wind of last Christmas while playing a gig at the local college.

I transcribed hours of audio interviews yesterday and today and looked back over all the notes and old news clips I'd uncovered.

A few days into the research, it looked as if it might be a dead end, but I decided to call an elderly friend what I've known for several years.

"Yes, I remember that," he said.  He gave me a great deal of background details that I'd missed. 

He told me that he thought he knew someone who might have been a player in the story and volunteered to track them down.

A little further research took me to the local library, and the lady who's worked in the archives for over 25 years became interested in the topic and did some searching on her own. 

She found a story from March of 1943 that lit me up.  

One thing lead to another and as it turns out, I was right. This is a killer story. 

I'll start outlining and drafting the story tomorrow. I'm excited. 

I think the story would make an incredible short documentary film. I'm going to plant a bug in a friend's ear who has contacts with filmmakers at the University of Alabama.

Who knows where a simple hunch will lead.

On a side note, I'm experimenting with a new software that makes tintypes photographs. This one is of our barn that I took this morning.
It does look like an old photograph I think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The show begins

Things move slower here in the south. It takes trends, and fads are slow to take root. In fact, we don't get Wednesday's TV programs here until late Friday afternoon.

Autumn also drags its leaves here in Alabama. I've seen stunning photographs of autumn foliage from the northeast and midwest, but it's been green as mint here, until this week.

The oak and hickory have begun the transition and when the light of the setting sun hits them in later afternoon, the color is beautiful.

We drove to Birmingham this afternoon and on the way home we drove the backroads which turned out to be a good idea.

Within a few week it will look like fall here.

I love it when the show begins.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Show dogs

Jilda and I've always had dogs. Most of them were throw-away dogs. Some show up limping, with mange, the worms, and some with ears and tails missing from living hard between owners.

When they show up here, they hit the lottery. They get medicine, vet visits, and three-square meals a day with tasty scraps of chicken, and other treats that somehow tend to fall from our plates.

The dogs live with us until they die. Some go soon after they arrive, and others have stayed as long as 15 years. We've loved all of them.

The Universe bent slightly the last few years because instead of gimpy mutts, the two animals that arrived at our door have been show dogs. One a thoroughbred collie, and the other a thoroughbred Yorkie.

They want the same thing as the mutts -- Attention, petting every now and then, a decent plate of food and a place to get when it's cold or it's August in Alabama and hotter than Satan's in spandex.

But these dogs need a good bit more than mutts. Each time we walk with Caillou, he runs through the woods with wild abandon. When he comes back, he's dragging briars and brambles in his tail.

Today after my nephew Haven helped me move the stove and fridge back into the kitchen, we were standing in the living room sipping a cold glass of water.

When I looked down, Caillou was standing beside and when I looked at him, he had a broken corner of commercial tile covered in glue tangled in his tail.

I had to cut it out with shears. He looked a little embarrassed as if to say, "I have no idea how that happened daddy, I promise."

The Yorkie has a few quirks, but I think that's what my column this coming week will be about so I won't spoil the fun here.

Below is one of my show dogs, bless his heart.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Whupped but happy

A few years ago the line to the icemaker on our fridge developed a small leak. So small in fact, that I didn't realize it for several weeks.

At first only a tiny bit of water seemed to seep from between the tiles. I thought we'd dropped an ice cube, or that one of the dogs had a slight accident, but that seemed unlikely as we have a doggy door and they come and go as they please.

After a while, I realized something was wrong, so I checked the drain pan on the fridge, I check under the house to see if one of the pipes could somehow be squirting water up.

I even when into my bathroom and dug under the sink in search of a leak, but nada.

Then my reminder sounded telling me it was time to replace the filter on the ice maker. When I pulled the monster out from the wall and peered behind with a flashlight, I saw the pipe spraying a tiny thread of water onto the floor.


Back then, we didn't have a cutoff valve behind the fridge, so I had to crawl under the house and find the valve on the line serving ice maker.

I made those repairs and the seeping stopped, but  a few months later I began to notice the tile sagging a little. The louan subflooring, soak for months, began to collapse.  Our issues with cracking tiles and an ugly kitchen floor started there.

Fast-forward until this morning. Our old carpenter buddy Ray showed up at 8 with his toolbox and we moved the stove and fridge to the living room. We then ripped out the old tile, the old louan, before beginning the slow process of repairs.

Tonight my knees are screaming, my back feels like it has a 10-inch icepick in my right kidney, and I'm finding glue in unexpected places (don't ask.) But the kitchen floor looks amazing.

Digging through our pantry, I found a nice bottle of merlot. I can promise you, I will sleep well tonight.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ebb and flow

One thing I've discovered through the years of blogging is that most writers go through an ebb and flow.

Some days ideas for posts and columns come at me so fast I have to swat them away with a flyswatter, and at other times I can't buy and idea.

These last week, has been low tide for me creatively. That's not to say I haven't been productive in other areas, but the quality ideas have been elusive.

Understanding that it's ebb and flow is helpful, because at the end of the ebb, comes the flow.

Original places

We played at Local Color Cafe tonight. It's one of our favorite venues. Performing on weekends in the south during footballs season is sketchy business.

Most places don't have live music until later on Saturday nights, because it's hard to get a crowd to come out.

Rick and Jilda at
Johnson City Folk Festival
last year
Even Friday nights are not usually that good because of high school football.

But Local Color had a decent crowd tonight. We shared the stage with our good friend Skip Cochran.

One of the benefits of playing Local Color is the food, and they always feed the musicians well. We had Brunswick stew tonight and homemade cornbread. Gary, one of the owners, does the cooking and he is awesome.

During the last set, it's hard to perform because Gary bakes a pan of biscuits for the musicians after the show.

Once the crowd filters out, and the equipment is stowed, he brings the hot-buttered biscuits out still steaming. With the biscuits, he brings honey, jelly, and cane syrup along with a steaming pot of coffee.

I never thought about eating biscuits at night until we began playing there several years ago.

Gary and Merle are great people who love music (Merle is a fantastic singer.)

Places that support original music have a special place in my heart. Local Color is one of those places.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I had an early appointment in Birmingham today. The professional group I'm with had scheduled a fall workshop for today and we had to be there at 7:30 a.m.

The chickens looked at me curiously as I stumbled around the pen before daylight. "You're not on drugs again are you poppy?" My chickens called me poppy, or that's what it sounded like to me as I poured corn in their feeders and freshed up their water.

Perhaps I was still half asleep, or probably a little closer to the truth is that I'm half blind in the dark and have no business going out there at dawn without a flashlight. 

Maybe I am on drugs and so stoned I don't remember taking them, but it seems I had more fun in college when I.........perhaps I've said too much about that.

At any rate, the workshop was a success and all the attendees seemed happy to be there. 

It will be an early night tonight. I hope you all have a great Friday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Night sky

I stepped onto the back deck tonight to dump coffee grounds into the compost bucket. The moon was scythe shaped sliver shedding no light on the night sky.

I stood for a moment looking into the sky as I always do when there are no clouds obscuring the heavens.

Just then a shooting star zipped across the sky so quickly that had I blinked, I would have missed it. I'm so glad I didn't blink.

In summer it seems the atmosphere is almost milky with haze making the stars faint, and the possibility of seeing meteors remote. But autumn brings a clean slate to the sky.

This weekend, I'll build a fire in the fire pit, pull the new teakwood lawn chairs out in the middle of the yard and see what the sky has to offer. I can't think of a better way to spend a few hours.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And in review......

Sometimes I struggle coming up with blog posts. Perhaps I'm whining, but then whining is not off limits here on Tuesday. Hey, it's my blog and I make the rules.

But tonight as I whined, I tapped a few keys into Google asking for blog post ideas. One of the first things that appeared was a suggestion to write about what your entry was X number of years ago.

I picked October 21, 2006 but it was as lame as a pony with a stone bruise, so I chose October 21, 2009.

This one was actually more interesting and evolved into a column.

I'd put copies of my second book at the local paper where my column appears. I'd given them several copies to sell in an effort to raise money for their annual shoe fund which buys shoes for needy kids during Christmas.

One of the books I'd donated was stolen from the counter of the paper and I wrote a humorous blog post about the "Book Heist."

October 21, 2012 was a Sunday and we'd spent the day recording songs for our CD. On the way home, I shot an incredible picture of the sun setting on a farm pond.

I never said that each of my posts were candidates for a Pulitzer Prize, but I think the important thing is consistency.

No one could ever say that I haven't been consistent :)

Y'all have a great Wednesday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Giving back ~ my column from Sunday's paper

There are things we give that will outlive us. This train of thought pulled into my mental terminal a few weeks ago while sitting on the back deck watching our great nephew Jordan play.

His mom had to work late and his Nana had a doctor’s appointment, so I picked him up at school.  

I asked him if he’d eaten. “Only a little fudge bar, but I’m pretty sure that’s not really food,” he confessed. I snickered at this observation from a six-year-old kid from rural Alabama. So, we headed out in search of some chicken.

Back at our house, he headed outside after he'd eaten. He loves me to give him challenge runs and time his efforts.

OK, you have to run down and touch the gate, circle the hemlock tree three times, rattle the chicken pen fence, touch the rotting stump and then back to the steps before I count to ten.

Then he’s off like a shot. I adjust the speed of my counting so that he comes in just under the wire.  He will do this until his legs are rubbery.

On that day, when the self-competition was over, we sat on wrought-iron chairs, and drank cool water. The shadows were getting longer with dappled sunlight falling on plants at the end of the deck.

A hummingbird hovered almost silently to drink nectar from the bleeding heart that is still blooming. Without saying a word, we both stood statue still, watching the tiny bird feed.

When it zipped off, Jordan stepped over and leaned in to smell the tiny white flowers with red tongues.

I told him that his great-great grandmother Mammie gave the plant to Jilda long before his mommy was born.

He had to turn that over in his mind a while, and I could tell it was hard for him to determine the age of the plant.

He asked if he could meet Mammie. When I told him she’d died a long time ago, he stood there silently considering the plant she’d left. “It sure is pretty to be so old,” he said.

I told him that some things we give, live long after we're gone. Again, he wrestled with what I was trying to say.

To explain, I told him that whenever he was kind, or did a good deed for someone, they usually remember that kindness.

He understood that, but was eager to move on, so I gave him another running challenge.

I’m not sure what things the children in our lives will remember. We've always encouraged them to read, study, work hard and to give back to society.

I often use a quote by Maya Angelou:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I think in the end, that’s all any of us can hope for –– that we've given enough to make the people in our lives feel special, and feel that they are loved.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


My niece Samantha was knee deep in an epidemiology paper this afternoon and about to go postal on the neighborhood. She's in the final months before graduating in May.

Jilda knows how to soothe the angry beast when she rears her ugly self in our mild-mannered niece -- she bakes chicken and her favorite rice.

When she walked over with her son Jordan, she was wound tighter than the short strings of a harp.

But I had new-age piano music playing and the table was set with glasses of ice tea with ice ticking in the glass.

Outside, the mama deer with twin fawns strolled up to feed. The little ones started running wide rings around the mama. 

It was the type of show that could make the most stressed person on the planet smile.

She seemed to be a little taller when they walked out headed home. A while later, her paper dinged in my email.

Jilda and I always scan her work to catch any obvious faux pas. It read as if it had been written by a graduate student. 

It's interesting what a break can do for you.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lazy Saturday

Today was low-key. My wife Jilda had a little bump in the road with a reaction to the treatments she takes monthly, so after a few early-morning errands, we settled in.

After lunch, two of our great nephews came over to bake spooky-spice cookies. It's a tradition Jilda does each year. She whips up the cookie dough, and the kids help her cut out the cookies and then decorate theirs with as much sugar sprinkles as they please.

Some of the cookies come out of the oven as thick as a deck of cards with enough sugar on them to make your heart race.  I snapped a picture, but I sent it to her for her blog tonight.

I then watch my team put a thorough tail-whipping on Texas A&M. The game lasted until after five.

Once outside,  I realized I'd forgotten to put corn out for the deer ,so grabbing a scoop from the shed and headed down to the field to put it under the apple tree.

The sun had already slipped below the horizon, but the waning light still painted the passing clouds the color of peach sherbet.

It seemed the perfect end to a lazy Saturday.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Autumn apples

Our apples are slow to ripen. We have neighbors with June apples and by mid summer, they're gone. They taste pretty good, but they aren't autumn apples.

Our apples take their time. They just hang around on the tree all summer getting fat and sweet. My nephew came up with his wife a few days ago and picked some of the low-hanging fruit.

I picked some as well. Tomorrow, I'll take the ladder down there and get the big sweet ones that are always just out of reach for those standing on the ground.

The tree bows under the weight of the harvest. We'll start canning, freezing, cooking, and drying apples and still have bushels to give to our family and friends.

Today was homecoming for the local high school and I do the website. So I shot parade photos today from noon until two and tonight I shot pictures at the ballgame.

As I got in the truck to head home, my knees squeaked. When I walked through the door at home, the aroma of apple in the oven lifted my spirits.

I'm not sure there is a better end to the day than a slice of hot apple pie.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A beautiful autumn day

I had an appointment in Birmingham today. I got there a little early so I checked in the with the receptionist and found a nice seat in the atrium.

It was a beautiful day and the sun filtering through the glass was warm on my arms.

Pulling out my laptop, I looked back over the interview questions to make sure the notes listed everything I wanted to ask.

The receptionist stepped back up to say that the administrator wasn't available. "She thought she'd sent you an email to reschedule," she said apologetically.

I flipped back through my email and there were no messages from her. I had the date and time right.
Smiling at the receptionist, I said "It's a beautiful day, no problem. We'll be in touch."

No one would have faulted me for being upset, but I decided not to give anyone that power today, so I snapped my laptop closed and headed to the truck.

Driving back to the Interstate, I noticed Seeds Coffee House on the left. I turned into the lot and headed inside.

The order I always get when I have coffee house coffee is a mocha. The shop was full of people sitting by the windows in the sun tapping away on their laptops while melodic music wafted from the Bose speakers positioned around the room.

When the coffee arrived, the barista had drawn a delicate flower design with creme and it floated on the surface like an apparition.

It's the little touches that make an experience special.

I had to leave early this morning and I didn't have a chance to walk, so I thought I'd take a walk after arriving home.

The breeze out of the west was cool, but afternoon sun was warm and played with the color of the flowers at the edge of our sad little garden.

I stepped over an snapped a few pictures. Before long, they'll be gone until next spring. I will miss them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Your worth

Getting rejections for your work is part of the process for most writers. Even the best authors got rejections in the beginning.

Jilda and I pitched a song in Nashville many years ago and the guy who turned us down said, "Hey, don't feel bad, I passed on the million seller song "Wind Beneath My Wings."

It didn't help our feelings, but I think had we seen this little sign, it would have made us feel better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Change of plans

I'd blocked off this afternoon to finish my column. I had meetings this morning but everything had fallen into place.

Helped Jilda get off to work, CHECK
Hot Ginger tea brewed, CHECK
Pandora on solo piano station, CHECK
Idea for column, CHECK

My fingers had just begun the dance with letters and the backspace key
Ah yes, that will work,  BACKSPACE,  BACKSPACE,  BACKSPACE,
Ah yes......then the phone rang.
!@$#%FF%^&(JHHREXC&^%RFGHJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !@$#%FF%^&(JHHREXC&^%RFGHJ
I shouldn't translate.

It was my sister-in-law who is our great nephew Jordans' grandmother called to say the power was off at the school and my nephew Jordan was marooned. She works as a bookkeeper there and was in a bind.

Change of plans. I saved the document, put on some shoes, grabbed my keys and headed to school.

Jordan was waiting when I arrived. A few seconds later and we were off. I needed gas in the truck, and a lady who's helping me do research for a story called from the library to say she had more information for me.

The course of action was apparent. We needed fuel, and we needed to go to the library.

"You buckled in Bubba?"

"I'm in."

"You want to go to the library?"


And just that quickly we were off to Jasper.

Jordan had never been to the Walker County Library and his eyes got big when he stepped in.
We found Mrs. Blanton who'd graciously been searching for information and got the pages she'd found for me.

Before we headed out, Ms Blanton said, "There's a great section just there that I think you'd enjoy."

Jordan went out and began to peruse books. He found some and we headed toward the checkout.

"Show them your library card," I instructed. "I don't have one," he said. "YOU DON'T HAVE A LIBRARY CARD!!!!!!!" I said in mock incredulity.

He laughed and said "NO."

I told the clerk, that we'd need to apply for a card.

A few moments later he was filling out the card and standing in front of a camera to have his picture made.

I could tell he felt important having a library card. When the clerk gave him his return receipt, I told him to put that date in his iPad so that he'd make sure he returned the books on time.

The ride home, I listened to a six-year-old read about whale sharks. The book was obviously written
for someone reading at a more advanced level than Jordan, but he sounded out every word.

When I stopped for gas, his loose tooth came out.

All in all, it was an exciting afternoon.

I'll write my column tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fireplace memories warm the heart ~ my column from Sunday's paper

It’s funny what you remember from childhood. Some memories are fuzzy, but others are as vivid as an Imax movie that comes rushing back at a sound or smell.

This morning was chilly, so slipping on a sweater seemed the wise thing to do as I stepped down for the morning paper.

I involuntarily shivered for the first time this fall. On the wind was a wisp of wood smoke from our neighbor’s fireplace, which brought back the memory of the fireplace in our living room, and the Warm Morning heater in the corner of the kitchen.

We weren’t into the aesthetics of crackling logs or the aroma of burning hardwood; we were into heat on cold mornings, and so we burned coal. We used oak and hickory chips to get the coals started, but once it began burning, we mostly smelled a hint of sulfur.

Mom sent dad off to work at 5:30 a.m. each morning and by the time we rolled out of bed at six, she’d have that Warm Morning fired up so hot the stove pipe glowed orange halfway up to the ceiling.

I’m guessing if that stove were sold these days, it would come with a safety pamphlet as thick as a Bible with ominous warnings about the risk of fire, serious injury or death.

I’m sure one of the warnings would tell you that if your stove pipe ever glows the color of the setting sun, to close the dampers, turn off the vents and have the fire department on standby. But it felt great when it was cold outside.

I do remember a hazard that probably would not have been documented in the safety booklet.

One frosty winter morning, ice crystals had formed around the edges of the panes in our windows over the sink. I’d stumbled into the kitchen sleepy-eyed and backed up to the old heater. The expanding pipe ticked as the glow inched upward.

My brother Neil walked up and grabbed the front crease of my jeans, pulling the denim tight against the back of my legs. I howled in pain. The hot denim seared the hair from the back of my leg. Neil snorted with laughter.

Mama thought it was funny too but whacked him playfully on the side of the head with the palm of her hand.

Behind the heater was a length of clothesline that was about head-high to my dad and ran from one corner wall to the other.

Hanging from one side was a blue bed sheet. About three evenings a week, the sheet was pressed into service as a privacy curtain. Behind the curtain was a #3 washtub filled with water heated on the stove. That’s where we bathed.

One of my chores was hauling ash out and toting coal inside to feed the home fires.

We had two old scuttles, which were metal buckets with spouts on one side. Ours were blackened from years of dumping coal into the fireplace.

Most young folks look at me as if I were pulling their leg when I tell them we didn’t have an indoor bathroom until the year I graduated from high school, and that we heated our house with coal.

These days we have a fireplace, but it’s fueled by gas logs. No hauling coal on frosty evenings for me. With the flip of a switch, fire glows softly from imitation logs. The only coal I have is a lump I saved, so that I always remember where I came from.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bad cloud

Our songwriting group met this evening at our friend Fred's house. The road back from his place takes us across a narrow two-lane road and at one point has a kind of overlook.

From that vantage point, you can see three counties. Off in the distance we could see we could see blinding bolts of lightning that looked like albino trees, slamming down from the clouds.

Just then both of our cellphones chirped with messages. The message was an automated one sent out by our local weatherman warning us of an impending thunderstorm, but this time we were way ahead of our man.

When we arrived home, our collie Caillou almost leaped into my arms which would have been an issue because he weighs more than Jilda.

We made it home moments before the rain started.  I tried several times to capture the lightning on my camera, but that's tricky business. The only bolts I've ever captured were blind luck.

So, I'm posting a little early tonight because we normally lose power when storms slam through.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


It rained last night. At first I thought I'd been dreaming, but when I slid out of bed for a sip of water, I heard it ticking on the roof.

After the clouds moved off to the east, the sun came out warm and the place came alive with birds, butterflies, and as it turns out, snakes.

I'm not surprised because it seems that wildlife is trying to take every last bit of nectar from summer. Today as I cut the grass, my mind was elsewhere as if often is.

Just then I saw something ahead. I knew at once it was a black snake, but the sun gleaned off its back turning it into a slithering silver ribbon.

I stopped the mower to let it pass unmolested into the tall weeds at the edge of the garden.

When I finished cutting, I parked the mower and headed toward the gate. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flutter of butterflies dancing around the last of the zinnias. Obviously I had to snap a quick photo.

I hope you all have a remarkable Sunday.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I love it when a plan comes together

I've been struggling with a story for a few weeks now. It's a beautiful story about soldiers traveling by rail through the south during WWII.

I won't reveal too much at this point but to say that I'd run into a series of dead ends. I would find a nugget or two here and there -- just enough to keep me fascinated.  But then the trail always seemed to grow cold. After all, most of the players are now deceased.

I was about leave a killer idea untold, when I decided to call my old friend Charlie.

"Yes, I remember that," my heart leaped with joy at the answer.  He told me several facts that were compelling. He gave me more names and then said, "Wait a minute, I know someone who I think was there. Let me call you right back."

A few moments later he called me back with the name and number of one of the people for whom I've been searching.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I expected the voice on the other end to be feeble, because he's in his early nineties, but he sounded younger than me.

I have an appointment to interview him on Monday and take some photographs. To say I'm excited is an understatement.

I really can't wait to share this one, with you but it will take a while because I can't publish it, even on my blog, until after it comes out in print.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Photo advice anyone?

I met with the web team from a missionary organization today. They asked how they could improve the content on their site.

They are doing incredible work, but even with mountains of photographs taken each time a team lands in country, only a few of the photographs tell the story. The rest are snapshots.

Snapshots are fine for documenting a moment in time, like a birthday or lunch with a friend, but if you want to move someone to get involved in a cause or donate to a mission, the pictures must be compelling enough to help tell the story.

I've coached some of the teams in the past on how to take better pictures, but improving your pictures takes practice and attention to detail.

Just because the sun is shining doesn't mean the light is good for a picture. In fact, most pictures taken in direct sunlight are harsh and unappealing.

I've taken thousands of pictures in my lifetime and only in the last few years has my eye matured and my skills improved enough that I take a decent picture now and then.

Many of my blog buddies are excellent photographers. Do any of you have advice for my altruistic friends?

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Autumn flowers

The deer seem to be feeding on acorns now and depending less upon the corn we feed them. I've read they actually prefer acorns, persimmons, and other things found in the wild. 

Yesterday when I walked I noticed they hadn't been up the previous evening so we decided to cut back on the feedings.

Today when I went down they'd eaten the corn and even pull some of the low-hanging apples from our tree.

I tossed out a half scoop and headed back toward the fence. When I got the the edge of our pitiful garden spot, I noticed the zinnias and other flowers were still going strong so I paused long enough to enjoy them for a moment and snap a picture.

The old brain isn't cooperating tonight so I'll leave you with my autumn flowers.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


What are we, but tiny leaves?

Green for a while -- we've had our day in the sun

But summer never seems long enough

Then autumn brings change

The world seems different, more finite and fragile

The smells, sounds, scents, and subtle color singe like a brand on our collective memory

Winter will be upon us before we know it

Monday, October 06, 2014

Someday never comes

It’s late in the third quarter of my life, and it’s finally dawned on me that someday is today.

Someday is a catchall word used flippantly. It’s a time you won’t find on any calendar. “Yes, we’ll go to Paris someday.” Or maybe, “I’m going back to school to finish my degree someday.” But when is someday?

Jilda and I watched a movie this week, and a line in it stung me like a yellow jacket.

Tom Cruise starred in the movie “Knight and Day” with Cameron Diaz. The character played by Diaz said, “I always thought I’d drive dad’s GTO to Cape Horn someday.”

The character played by Cruise reflected for a moment before saying, “Someday is a dangerous word.”

Diaz looked confused, and then Cruise said, “That’s a code word for never.”

I’m not sure how a line in a movie by fictional characters could affect me in such a deep and profound way, but it did. I guess I realized the truth of those words.

Through the years, I’ve done a good job documenting my goals, hopes and dreams. It’s easy to look back to see what I wanted to do 25 years ago. I can also look through my journals and read where we went and what we did. The gaps between what I wanted and what I did are sizable.

That’s not to say that we didn’t do many enjoyable things. We’ve traveled, visited, performed and did meaningful things, but there were so many we scheduled for someday.

Many times the delay was because we fooled ourselves into thinking we didn’t have the money to do something or go somewhere. But if the transmission failed in one of our cars, or the fridge went on the fritz, we found the money to replace them. So why couldn’t we find the money to go to Paris?

Part of living is making choices, and looking around our home as I type these words, I see the things we chose.

The deep sense of satisfaction we get in knowing that our home is paid for is worth a great deal. There were times we thought we needed a bigger house in town, but thankfully we put those plans off until someday.

These last few years since I retired have been educational.

Health has always been a priority with us, so that’s why it was such a shock when Jilda began having issues with infection.

She’s now receiving monthly treatments to keep her immune system at a level so it can fight off lung infections. The side effects of these treatments can be brutal.

I said that to say this: We’re removing someday from our vocabulary.

We can’t afford to squander time, and neither can you ... even if you’re 20 years old.

In the broad expanse of time, we are on this earth for less than the blink of an eye.

If you want to do something someday, I suggest you get out your planner, find a date that works, write it down and then make it happen. Forget about someday.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Travel pictures

Jilda and I were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this time last year. The day we flew in, the skies were big and blue.

I could have filled the storage of my hard drive and still not captured the beauty of that place.

We were there for a long weekend, but Jilda had a raging sinus infection. Her discomfort and my concern for her put a little damper on the visit, but we both agree that it was an incredible place.

But I find that most places I visit are incredible in one way or another.

We don't travel as much as we used to, but I traveled a good bit when I was employed. Being a corporate trainer for a while, gave me the opportunity to take classes in the north east, the west coast and many places in between.

It's fun looking back through the photographs.

I came across a picture tonight of the first time our niece Samantha flew to San Francisco with us. We lunched on Fisherman's Wharf and lunched at an outdoor cafe. I had clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.

Come to think of it, I wish I had some of that clam chowder right now.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

A great day for a small town festival

Today was a busy day. I do a website for the local Chamber of Commerce which held a 5k Run
beginning at 8 a.m. I also do the website for The Frog Festival and it started at 9 a.m.

The day was the coolest so far this fall, 42 degrees last night.  But as the sun inched over the horizon, it warmed nicely.

There was a stiff breeze out of the north that reddened my face like a slap. Tonight, Jilda is having to doctor my with her magic cream.

After editing and posting a few hundred pictures. I'm ready to kick back, and rest my aching knees :)

I hope you've had as much fun today as Jilda and me.

Friday, October 03, 2014

I'm so lonesome

One of my favorite Hank Williams songs is entitled, "I'm so lonesome I could cry."
It's a hauntingly beautiful song.
Below are the lyrics.

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
Like me, he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry

May you never be this lonesome.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Celestial events

Celestially speaking, this month has a lot to offer. We have a hunter's moon, a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. On top of that, Pluto will be pal'ing around with the moon this month.

I'm goofy for celestial events. I set my alarm for all hours of the day and night to catch a glimpse of them. I have my dad's old welding goggles that are perfect for solar viewing, and nice telescope for nighttime.

When considering what to get for my 30 year anniversary gift from the company for which I worked (back when I was jobbed), my coworkers would look at the catalog and oooooo and aaahhhhh at the clocks, watches, rings, and other baubles.

But I already had several watches, and clocks for my office. I also had a tie tacks that's never been worn, so those weren't considered. What I did see was a nice telescope.

When it came time to choose, I chose the telescope. I knew it would come in handy for weeks like this.

I hope you'll take a moment to enjoy the gifts that Mother Nature shares with us from time to time.

Has nothing to do with the post. I just liked the picture.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I dreamed of rain last night

I dreamed of rain last night. The scent of fresh rain, and the sound of rain on the roof made me smile, but when I awoke, there was no rain.

We had a little rain a few weeks ago, but not enough to soak the ground, just enough for the plants and trees to survive a while longer.

The dogwood that normally holds on to foliage a while longer is beginning to drop leaves, and I'm finding apples under the tree in the pasture.  They still need a few more weeks to be in their prime so I have my fingers crossed that we get rain later this week as promised by the prognosticators.

In years past when we got no rain, the leaves went from green to brown making fall a bust. I hope that doesn't happen this year because autumn leaves are one of the highlights of my year.

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