Saturday, January 31, 2015

Paying attention

It's been dry and windy here. Not bad if you like warmer weather in winter, but it's not ideal for burning. But, the forecast tomorrow calls for rain.

We live in a rural area of Alabama and we don't have recycling here. I still recycle old batteries, plastic bags, and newspapers, but cardboard is troublesome.  It would harm the environment more by driving the 30 miles to the nearest cardboard recycling center, that to burn the boxes in my back yard. Whenever there's doubt, I err on the side of the environment.

So when the wind died this evening, I headed out to make the cardboard disappear into a small smokey shaft that rose into the heavens.

I managed the tiny fire with a rake until it was a heap of orange embers winking into ash.

Leaning on the rake handle, the mumbling fire radiated warmth outward, which felt good to my gnarly knees. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture of the embers. I do this all the time and I'm not sure why.

Maybe I do it to document that I was here, at this point in time, paying attention.

Friday, January 30, 2015


My dogs were as thrilled to see me as Jilda. They've been underfoot all day, except for when we walked. 

The sun was warm, but the breeze out of the north made a jacket the wise choice. It was perfect walking weather, and the dogs ran with wild abandon.

My internet connection at the hotel at Newport Beach wasn't the best so I didn't spend much time reading blogs. I could have paid extra for a wireless upgrade, but decided to make do until I returned home.

On the way home, I shot several pictures out of the cabin at the passing terrain. The Hipstamatic app has a ton of lenses and film types, many of which I've never tried.

The flight home seemed a perfect place to try some of them out.  One of the pictures I shot was of a mountain range, and I .

Below is a sampling of how each lens and film combination treated the subject.

This last image is one take with a Salvador 84 lens and DreamCanvas film.  I didn't realize it until I posted it, but the middle of this picture appears to be the face of my dog Caillou......Do Do Do Do (Twilight Zone theme song).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Starboard sunset

I've been flying all day. Somewhere over New Mexico, I shoved headphones knuckle-deep into my ears to drown out the drone of jet engines, and the chatter of people around me.

I found myself with my head against the tiny window watching the patchwork of middle-America gliding past me.

Ponds and lakes reflecting the mid-day sun, shined like hubcaps. And rivers reached off into the distance. I wondered what the first travelers crossing our country would have thought about the river view from this vantage point.

When we touched down in Atlanta, I headed for the men's room to freshen up. When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, there was a crease across my forehead that looked like a scar. Hours of leaning my head against the port window, left its mark.

The layover in Atlanta was two hours so I sat at the gate and read an ebook on my phone. The last leg of the flight was packed, but apparently everyone else wanted to get home as badly as I did, because the cabin loaded quickly.

The flight from Atlanta  to Birmingham is a short one. In fact, the taxi to the end of the massive airport is almost as long as the flight to Birmingham.

The skies over Atlanta were cloudy, but somewhere east of Birmingham, the clouds lifted and the starboard sunset was stunning.

Jilda had an incredible dinner for me when I arrived home. I'm not sure I've ever had a better meal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Alabama time

My body hasn't adjusted to Pacific Time, so even though I went to bed on California time last night, I woke up on Alabama time this morning, which is two hours early.

I still had prep work for the meeting today, so I spent time preparing. Afterwards, I stepped down to the lobby and fetched some coffee.

Once back in the room I noticed the curtains were the color or orange sherbet. When I stepped out on the balcony with my cup of steaming java, I located the culprit. It was the morning sky just before the sunrise.

Placing my cup on a table, I sat for a long while honoring the moment.  It was a beautiful thing to behold.

I'll be flying home early in the morning. No matter how beautiful it is where I go, it's always good to be back home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Long day

This has been one long day. I rolled out of bed at 3:45 this morning and was sipping coffee a few moments later.

After a shower and breakfast, I was on the road. It's an hours drive to the airport, and I wanted to arrive early to avoid any snafus.

As it turns out, I was on Santa's "Nice List" and I sped through security. I began to worry that I'd forgotten my deodorant, but that wasn't the case.

The flight was uneventful, which is the way I like for flights to be. The sky was blue, with big fluffy clouds.

I arrived in Orange County just after lunch. The hotel is very nice, with a balcony that looks out toward the ocean in the distance.

Did I take a stroll down to the water? No, I took a long nap.

My internal clock is all wonky because even though my clock only shows 7:27 p.m., it's really 9:27 Alabama time.

So, I'm going to drink some hot tea and turn in early tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Memories of Fairhope

Looking back, some of the best times of my life were near the ocean. In the late sixties when Jilda and I first started dating, it was Panama City, Florida. But through the years, we cast our nets wider, in America and abroad.

In 1980, I was in Mobile with MaBell putting that city back together after Hurricane
Fredrick. Jilda joined me and we spent a lot of my off time by the sea.

I have a picture on my desk of Jilda and me taken that year. We were standing at the edge of Mobile Bay in early summer as the sun edged down into the sea.

She had long flowing blonde hair that fell in loose curls down her back. She wore a Harley Davidson halter-top and I thought she looked like a fashion model.

My hair was blowing in the evening breeze (yes, I too had hair in 1980.) We smiled broadly for the camera as if we didn’t have a care in the world.

Actually, back then I doubt we had many cares, but if we had, it wasn’t evident in this photograph.

Later, after posing for the photograph, we drove to the east side of the bay to Fairhope, Alabama. It was a beautiful place and that evening as darkness fell, we sat with our legs dangling off the public fishing dock as the vapor lamps hissed to life. Moths as big as bats danced and darted in the circle of light.

All of a sudden, we heard people off in the distance shouting Jubilee, Jubilee, Jubilee. It became a chant as people rushed down to the water’s edge.

We didn’t noticed at first, but fish, crab, shrimp and all kinds of sea life seemed to be in some kind of mating frenzy in bay. For a few hours, people with nets, cans, and large buckets caught all the seafood they could carry. We later learned that Jubilee is a phenomenon that happens from time to time in Mobile Bay. It was a magical day.

We hadn’t been back to Fairhope since 1980, but this past week, we went to Orange Beach for my birthday.

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to take a short road trip to Fairhope. Don’t you love the name Fairhope?

It’s always been beautiful, but now it’s become what resembles an artist community with bookshops, boutiques and art galleries.

Narcissus with blossoms as fragile as a web bloomed on the corner in front of the public library in the warm January sun. Out on the library’s lawn is a steel sculpture of an open book.

The sidewalks were packed with people window-shopping at beautifully decorated stores and dining on the patios of upscale restaurants. You could hear music and the sound of laughter and it felt like Tahoe, Aspen or Jackson Hole.

We sat on a bench by the bay and I shot a selfie of us smiling into the camera. We weren’t quite as fetching as we were in 1980, but we smiled as broadly.

We decided on the way home to spend our anniversary in one of the hotels in Fairhope and spend some time by the water. Maybe I’ll dig out my old bell-bottom jeans for the trip.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


I was taught at a very young age, that being a braggart was right up there with being a coward, or a snitch. Only insecure people felt the need to brag on themselves.  

As a result, when I got older and faced situations in which I had to describe my positive attributes (job resumes, interviews, and Linkedin profiles), I struggled with the words.

It occurred to me that my folks were right in one respect, that bragging on ones self can be viewed as a flaw in the personality. But there are times in which it not only OK to toot your own horn, but it's the right thing to do.

I'm working on updating my Vision Board for the new year (I know I'm running a little behind), but there are personal traits that I would like to reinforce. 

Last years board, I simply typed the words out in my word processor, printed them in a large font, and used them on my board.

But today when I was perusing the web, I came upon a term I'd never heard before. It's called Word Cloud.

There are websites that specialize in Word Clouds. You type in the words, and the software creates a graphic Word Cloud.

At the risk of bragging, below is my Word Cloud. 

More fun with the kids

Tonight was my great nephew Jordan's birthday party. His mom bought a birthday package at the University of Alabama Basketball game against arch rival Auburn.

We had a large time, but most of the fun was watching the kids. Bama went ahead in the game with 4 seconds left on the clock.

I snapped a selfie of Jordan, his mom, Jilda and I.

We rolled in the driveway and four minutes until midnight. Seems very likely at this point that we'll be sleeping in tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Turning in early

I'm running on empty tonight. It's been a grueling week but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

My great nephew Jordan needed someone to pick him up yesterday, so I left work and drove the five minutes to his school.

He met me at the door smiling. When I told him if it was OK if I ran by work to tie up a few loose ends, he said, "Sure."

One the way in the build, I stopped long enough to snap this photo of him posing with the schools Art
Mule (it's a long story.)

Once inside, he sat in a chair in the corner of my office, pulled a book from his backpack, and read while I finished up the work that had a deadline attached to it.

Afterwards, we headed home.

As always, when he's with me, we stop at the forks of the river so that he can stand for a while by the water.  Yesterday, we saw a muskrat swimming into its bed on the bank across the river.

We always see some thing fascinating when we stop by the forks.

I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Turning in early.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A place to think

We hope to do more work on our creative space this spring. For new readers, the creative space is a hundred-year-old house built by the people we bought our place from. It's down by the barn on the back of our property.

At one point the old house was falling in. The tin roof, which is the color of lead, has damage caused by countless storms through the years. Holes big enough to toss a puppy through were patched with roofing tar and silent prayers.

A few years ago, we did some major restoration. We replaced the front porch, part of the roof, and put garden doors in the back. The house is now solid, but it can be a little drafty.

The  windows are cloudy, even on sunny days. When the angle of light is just right, you can see tiny bubbles in the old glass.

In winter, the wind out of the north makes the curtains dance, but I still can't bring myself to replace them with the newer energy efficient kind.  We won't be living down there, so on days when the weather is too hot or cold, we won't work down there.

This much I know for sure: in early spring when the days warm there is no better place to write. You can smell the earth coming alive. There are no phones, TVs, or radio. I often find inspiration in the stillness. It's a great place to discover, to create.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Your Thoughts

Lately, I've been asking myself: What makes blogs successful?  Some of the blogs I follow have long entries, some have short entries,. And some have a hyper focused topic, and so forth.

It's hard to determine what resonates in the blogosphere, and what sits on the page like tripe sandwich with mayonnaise with garlic pickles.

So, I thought I'd ask you some questions. Your mission....should you choose to accept it, is to answer what you like, or don't like about blogs. It's not scientific, so don't go all beaker and safety glasses on me, it's just a simple unvalidated survey.

I'll keep the survey short so if you choose to participate, you simply copy the questions below, paste them into the comment section along with your answers.

1. Do you prefer long  posts (500+ words) or short posts (100 to 499 words)?

2. On longer posts, do you read or skim?

3. What makes you bale out on a blog post?

4. What makes you want to read the entire post?

5. Do you like pictures on posts?

6. Does it matter whether or not, the blogger replies to your comments on each post?

7. How much time do you spend per day reading blogs?

8. How important is theme? (Do you prefer blogs with specific themes? For example, fashion, food, technology, or fly fishing.

9. What is your ideal number of posts per week for a blogger?

10 What do you want to be when you grow up?  OK, I'm jacking you around on this one, but I'd be interested in what you have to say about the other questions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fun with folks on the left coast

I'll be heading to California in a few weeks on a business trip. The hotel where I'm staying is one of the fancy-smancy places and today I got an email re-confirming my visit.

They asked me what time I was scheduled to arrive, if they could help me arrange for private transportation, and whether I preferred a feather or foam pillow.

They also asked about allergies, and whether I had an special dietary requirements.

Obviously they didn't realize that I was an Alabamian with some time on his hands, so I thought what the heck?

I asked if the feathers came from live chickens or dead ones. I also told them I could eat just about anything except those fuzzy fish that sometimes come on pizza. To further clarify my culinary desires, I told them that I wasn't fond of tripe, but given the choice between the fuzzy fish and tripe, I'd go with the tripe.

I ended by telling them that regular grits and unpasteurized buttermilk were fine for breakfast if they had cathead biscuits.

....I wouldn't be surprised if they sent me a follow-up email to say there'd been a mixup in reservations and they were actually overbooked and would have to move me to the local Motel 6 on the edge of town.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Inspiration everywhere these days ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The inspiration for my columns comes from different places. Sometimes it comes while flipping through grainy photographs from my distant past or listening to the lyrics of songs that have touched the heart at some point in my life.

The idea for this column came as I read in Paul Zollo’s book, “Songwriters on Songwriting.” The author interviewed Jackson Browne about his song “These Days.” From the first time that record spun on my turntable, it was an instant classic. I’m sure I’ve listened to it over a thousand times.

It’s about the angst we all feel at some point in our lives about growing up and growing older. Browne wrote the song when he was 16 years old and I can’t imagine how a mind that young could have written something so profound. It sounds as if someone much older should have written it. He said it just came to him.

But who knows where insightful inspiration comes from? Are they radio waves sent out from a higher power through the Universe? And only individuals mentally tuned to a special celestial frequency can receive the signal?

Perhaps that’s true. I know if someone invented antennae that you could wear on your head to improve reception, it would be worth a fortune. I would wear it each time I sat down to write.

That’s probably a fanciful thought, but what if it were true? What if all the inspiration and answers you need in your life are out there in the ether, waiting for you to tune in your psychic radio to the correct frequency and listen?

Some folks believe all the answers are written in the Good Book, and for many it is the source of their inspiration. But others seek answers in different places.

Some look to drugs or the bottle for inspiration, but few find it there.

So, what is inspiration? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition is “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone.”

The book tells us what it is, but there are no clues on where it comes from. It remains a mystery, but I think inspiration lies with life as it unfolds before us.

The older I get, I seem to find inspiration in unpredictable places. It seems I’m most receptive when I look at life through the eyes of my inner child.

I’ve been accused of behaving like a child. I think it was meant as an insult, but on the eve of my sixty-forth birthday, I consider that jibe a compliment.

This much I know — inspiration is a vital component of our lives. It’s what drives creativity, which keeps us learning, growing and reinventing ourselves. It is what keeps us young.

I’ve seen people in their nineties who seem younger and more vital than people a third of their age. It’s because they read, write, dance and like hummingbirds, they thrive on the nectar of life.

What inspires you?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The sea

So much has been written about the ocean, by much better writers than me. The descriptions so vivid, one feels as if they were there.

I'm not sure anything I write could add value, but then, I couldn't call myself a writer if I didn't try.

This much I know for sure: the rhythm of the surf, and the life that thrives around the ocean resonates with on a level much lower on the brain stem than most stimuli.

Just sitting by the water with closed eyes, and feeling the energy surging around me seems to feed my soul. 

We were only there for a few days, but it was a respite I needed. 

I know for some, a visit to the sea isn't practical, but for those within driving distance, you should do your life a favor and go there. Sit for a while.....with no agenda, and listen, taste, feel, and be at one with a force much greater than you. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dock of the Bay

Otis Redding wrote Sitting on the Dock of the Bay in the Summer of 1967. He was living on a rented houseboat in Sausalito when the idea came to him. He recorded the song a few days before his death in a plane crash in Wisconsin on December 10, 1967.

That song resonated in my heart the first time I heard it when his record label released it posthumously. It became a hit record in 1968.

Then in 1968, when I was a senior in high school, I had a band. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay was one of our most requested songs that we played in our show.

It's a haunting melody filled with lyrics delivered by Redding in a style often copied, but never captured. His version was filled with angst, longing, and what seemed like desperation.

Whenever I'm near water, I think of Otis, and his song.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wish you were here

Did you ever get a postcard from an exotic place with the taunting message from a good friend that said? "Wish you were here."

At first glance one might think the friend really wished you were there with them sharing beach champaign and enjoying sunsets that were so rare and beautiful they'd make you weep?

But what they're really saying, if you could read the unwritten text, would be, Na, Na Na Na Na (Sung in a childish sing/songy voice.) I'm here at this incredible place and you're marooned in Empire, Alabama. 

Or at least that's what I imagine they are saying as I sit marooned in Empire, Alabama.

Soon we'll be sitting on a beach watching the sun set in the west. I plan to take pictures and send them to all my friends with a note saying, "Wish you were here."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Feeling older

Facebook lit up today with birthday wishes before I rolled out of bed. I tried to respond, but it was a futile attempt. I am humbled an honored by all the well-wishers today.

Jilda and I both worked today. The local newspaper interviewed me about the upcoming AARP info session later in the month, and then I had some webinar training.  Later in the afternoon, I was on a conference call to discuss the seminar in California toward the end of the month.

I only had a few hours to complete my week at work, but I wound up spending much of the day in my new office. Jilda worked this afternoon too, but on the way home, I stopped by the local market and bought a couple ribeye steaks. When she got home, she fired those baby's up and we had a scrumptious dinner. We rarely eat steak, but tonight it was delightful.

This morning as I  left for work, I noticed small flex of ice ticking off my windshield.
Although I was less than 30 feet away, I called inside on my cellphone to tell Jilda the good news. She loves snow, so when I told her there were a few flakes, I heard her do a little snow-dance inside.

It never warmed up, and my bones decided to let me know just how old they were today. The joints in my knees felt as rusty as the old train pictured below.

But all in all, I've had a remarkable day. I feel blessed to share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King.

I hope you all have had a good day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When I'm 64

In June of 1967, I was sixteen years old. The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I spent hours looking at that album cover and listening to the songs on that vinyl record.

One of the songs was sooooo different.  When I'm 64 made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. 

I was young with raging hormones and I believed without a doubt that I would be the epitome of the Bob Dylan song, Forever Young.

And now, on the eve of my sixty-forth birthday as I think back on my cocky self, I laugh out loud at how young and foolish I was.

Back then, I'm not sure what I thought life would be like at sixty-four, but I'm guessing I thought life would be much different.....over.

I'll be the first to admit that it's different, but much richer in ways that as young man, I could never have understood.

The enduring friendships (especially with my spouse), the travel, the food, and the accomplishments have made the journey worth while.

Life hasn't always been a picnic, but it's always been interesting in surprising ways.

So tomorrow evening, I plan to hold my glass high, and drink a toast to life at sixty-four.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New ride

We bought a new used car this week. This one is for Jilda. She still hasn't given up on Ingrid, her beloved Volvo, but we both reached a point to where it made sense for her to travel in a newer vehicle.

When considering what vehicle to buy, we did a great deal of research on fuel economy, comfort, features, and dependability. As it turns out, we got an excellent buy in a vehicle owned by our great niece and nephew who are about to move to London for 18 months.

We helped them and the deal provided me with some peace of mind.

In the past, we took a difference approach in making our car-buying decisions. The first car I bought just out of high school had a motor bigger than Rhode Island. As the car sat idling, it actually registered on seismic devices across the world, and fuel efficiency was measured in gallons per mile.
But it was as red as a firetruck and I kept that car waxed to a high gloss.

We drove around in the spring, summer and early fall with all four windows rolled down, because it looked better that way. And as a result, Jilda and I looked better too. Except after a few miles Jilda's waist-length blonde hair was a tangled mess but we didn't worry much about that back then because we were cool.

I'm hoping the new ride will give us as many miles and years of service as Ingrid.....I just wish it rumbled a little more when we crank it up.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Time for a new fridge ~ my column from Sunday's paper

My grandmother used to tell me of life in the South before electricity and modern conveniences. They kept some of their food in a well in the summer to keep it cold. We could have used a well this week. As always, there’s a story behind it.

I like my coffee, lawsuit hot…so hot that it removes a layer of enamel from my teeth and takes the hide off my tongue. Jilda, on the other hand, likes her java much cooler.

Monday morning when the coffee finished dripping, I opened the bedroom door and called to my sleeping bride in soft soothing tones. Are you ready for coffee?

She mumbles when she first wakes up. No one of this world can understand what she’s saying. It sounds almost as if she’s speaking in tongues, but she gets out of bed.

She doesn’t really stumble into the living room. It’s more like she careens off houseplants, the chifforobe and the cedar chest.

Once in the living room, she sat silently for a while with unfocused eyes. When she reached for her cup, it was still too hot, so she wobbled into the kitchen. Reaching into the freezer side of the fridge for a couple of cooling cubes, she stopped cold.

It took her a second to realize the icemaker wasn’t working and that she was standing in a puddle of water.

Suddenly, I understood exactly what she was saying. “Our fridge is dead!”

I went in the kitchen hoping it was something simple, but when I rolled it from against the wall, there was a small puddle of what looked like oil. It didn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that baby was dead.

Soon we were flipping through Consumer Reports and searching the web for a new fridge. We hoped we could find one that didn’t require us to mortgage the house.

A call to the local big-box store and we found exactly the unit we wanted. I was about to give them my credit card until I heard them say we can have it here in seven days. I explained that I would be killed and my body dumped in a local strip pit if it took seven days to get a fridge.

Then, we drove to Sides TV and Appliances and found the unit in the color we wanted. As it turns out, a mortgage wasn’t required.

A few minutes later, the new fridge was following us home like a puppy. We’d gotten about halfway home when a troubling thought crossed my mind. I looked over to Jilda and asked, “Did you measure the old fridge?”

“I thought you did.”

I hadn’t.

When we got home and rolled the old unit out of it’s nesting place between a wall and our kitchen cabinets and rolled the new one in place, it was about an inch too wide. Our hearts sank.

Our nephew Haven, whom I ALWAYS call to help me with stuff like this, stood there in silence for a long time.

I was trying to figure out how to break the news to George Sides Jr. that they were going to have to bring us another fridge and pick up the one they’d just delivered. Fret, fret, fret.

Just then, Haven said, “I think I can make this baby fit.” He got his hammer along with a screwdriver and a special saw. Soon there was sawdust, chips and pieces of molding all over the kitchen floor.

After about an hour, we pushed the fridge into its cubbyhole and it fit like a latex glove.

A while later, we heard ice cubes clattering in the icemaker and the sound was like music to our ears.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Missin fishin

It's been a while since I've been fishing. When I've had time, the weather hasn't cooperated, so my fishing things remain stowed behind the seat of my truck, and pushed the date further back.

The last time I was alone on the water for a few hours, before a fellow fisherman waded into view through the lifting fog.

Most folks around here who fish, go for the bass. Some use small Jon boats, but many buy fiberglass boats longer than the first house trailer we lived in. These boats can be costly to buy and operate. Obviously you can't pull a beautiful boat in a shabby truck, so you have to upgrade your wheels too. And before you're through your hobby has you $50,000 in debt.

Fly fishing can be expensive too. The rods, reels line and lures are not cheap, but when compared to a new boat, it's chump change.

The thing I love about fly fishing is that it's more like meditation than a sport. You hear gurgling water rushing over smooth stones, and waterfowl in the distance. If you're lucky, you'll hear a trout splashing on the top of the water, trying to scare up some breakfast.

I get lost in the rhythm of casting. If I get in a hurry, the line will tangle behind me. That happened a lot when I was learning, but experience has taught me patience. When I hear my backcast pop, I know to slow down, and let the line flow.

There was a story in today's paper about the value of meditation. They could have substituted the words fly fishing as far as I'm concerned.

I hope you all have a remarkable week.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

So it goes

Driving through the old town of my youth is a little depressing. There's nothing left of the vibrant little one horse town, except a few bricks, vines, and a lot of graffiti.

The post office, general store, and the bank all moved to the new highway back in the early 1960s. Now the new highway is the old highway, and so it goes.

Most folks now don't see the value of older things. The cars must be faster, shinier, and more fuel efficient. The houses must have too many bedrooms, carpet that feels as if it needs to be mown, and wall-wide TV's.

And books. Who needs them?  Most of the words have been written. Books are too slow by todays standards. What's in is communications that are as fast as the speed of light, which to me seems much faster than the speed of life. But so it goes.

I thought about these things today when Caillou and I went for a walk. I stopped to sit on the edge of our creative space. Caillou thought he heard a trespassing chipmunk behind the old steamer trunk and went to investigate, while I sat for a while thinking.

I didn't answer any burning questions, or solve any of the world's problems, but  so it goes. It did feel good spending some time on a winter day with my dog.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday stuff

I had to be in Birmingham at 8 a.m. this morning. Most of the time, the 35-mile drive is not that bad but today it was intense. We live 11 miles from the nearest grocery store, so we're used to traveling. 

When I worked full time, I drove to a town south of Birmingham making my morning and evening commute 48 miles, which in ideal traffic, took me right at an hour each way.

But I retired from there in 2010 and haven't driven in rush-hour traffic in a while. At first, I found my heart pounding and gripping the steering wheel like it was a roller coaster hand-bar. 

After a few moments, I realized I was becoming tense, so I began to breath deeply. I'd been listening to a book on tape, so I paused that, and quickly found some soothing cello music. Soon the traffic seemed to slow down.

Soon I pulled into the parking log of the endodontist's office, and less than 10 minutes later, I had people poking things into my mouth.

Soon my lip felt thick the tire on my truck, and I was talking funny.

The actual root canal was painless, but later when the Novocain wore off, it felt like I'd been kicked in the head with an Army boot.

After I arrived home, I took it fairly easy for most of the day.

We'll be heading to the beach in a few weeks, and I must say I'm ready. Sometimes it's chilly at the gulf, but that doesn't bother us. It will be fun getting away.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Still chilly willy

We had to be at Jilda's medical appointment early this morning. I went out a few minutes early to crank the car so it would be warm on our drive into Birmingham. The ground crunched as if I were walking on a carpet of crackers.

A few birds pecked at the ice on the birdbath, but had no luck getting to water. We could have poured fresh water in, but at 9 degrees, it would have frozen solid before a bird could fly near it.

As I pulled out of the drive, I could see the moon, faded by daylight, sinking toward the western horizon.

It reminded me of the sky in Jackson Hole, Wyoming last autumn when we were vacationing there. On the first day, the air was crisp, and the sky was a new shade of blue. The sunset was beyond description.

Sometime during the night, clouds moved into Jackson Hole and we awoke to the sound of ice and snow ticking on the birch leaves outside our windows.  Later, my lovely spouse Jilda snapped the photo of me as we headed to lunch.

A few days ago I whined about bad weather here, but then I visited the blog of my friend Julia, who lives in Canada, and realized, after reading her post, that I was a wimp.

I'm off to the endodontist in the morning. You may remember a few weeks ago, just before Christmas when I was gloating about dodging a root canal........well, all I did was postpone the inevitable.

A few days ago as I was drinking a glass of ice cold tea, when a thread of exquisite pain danced on my brain like it was at a Grateful Dead concert.

I'll be paying the piper at 8 a.m. sharp

Y'all stay warm.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Chilly tonight

We signed the papers on Jilda car today. We bought a Honda Accord SE from our great niece and nephew who are heading to England in a few days for 18 months. She'd been fretting about selling the car in time before they left.

As it turns out, the transmission on Jilda's Volvo has been getting weaker. So, we were able to get a newer vehicle, and our young relatives, can travel without having to worry about selling the car long distance.

On the way home, we got a few scattered snow flurries. The temps will be around 12 degrees tonight. I know my northern friends usually swim in weather this moderate, but it's down right chilly to us.

Once home, I scurried around covering the outside pipes and putting a tarp on the end of the chicken pen. Normally the pen does fine here, but when it gets really cold, I don't like them being exposed to the cold wind.

I shot some photos of the clouds highlighted by the setting sun, but they looked too much like pictures I've posted before, so I trashed them and decided on a picture we shot ten years ago when we were in Sedona, Arizona.

Jilda has an early doctor's appointment in the morning for a routine checkup by her infusion doctor so we're about to call it a night.

Y'all stay warm.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Hickory Moss

I love moss. I shot this picture of the old barnyard hickory back during the spring.  The sun had slipped toward the horizon and the angle of light on the tree makes it look like it's wearing a beautiful green sweater.

The heat of summer turned the moss a dull shade of green with brown patches, but even then it looked beautiful.

I've run out of things to say tonight so as my lovely spouse always says at the end of her blog: Good night, sweet dreams.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Happy 2015 ~ my column from Sunday's paper

We had an early appointment today for Jilda’s last treatment of the year. I stood by the kitchen counter tapping my foot as the coffee pot dripped, as if my impatience would make it drip faster. It didn’t.

The chickens were still on the roost when I slipped in to pour some scratch feed into their troughs, freshen up their water and collect the eggs. They fussed, and I guess if I could translate the cackling, it would have been something unkind. They are ungrateful birds.

Soon we hit the road on our journey to Birmingham. The landscape outside our car windows looked as if Mother Nature had applied a light coat of chrome during the night.

One of the neighbors has a wood-burning fireplace and smoke laid across the hollow like a thin cotton blanket. It looked like a winter morning.

Once in the infusion room, I helped Jilda get situated in her big green chair. Tethered to dripping bags, she waved as I headed off to find my place in the back of the cafeteria. This is the last column of 2014, which will run the first Sunday in 2015.

If 2014 were water in a bathtub, it would be swirling around the drain and softly gurgling as it makes its way into our past.

I spend the last week of each year reflecting and projecting. Life this past year has been like a roller coaster. It was not without challenges, but there were times I did a little victory jig. But I’ve come to understand most years are like that, except the older I get, it seems the roller coaster moves a little faster.

Something I read this past summer talked about coping with the ups and downs of life. When a situation arises, you have a choice of whether to respond or react. There’s a huge difference.

When you respond, you weigh the pros and cons, make value judgments based on experience and education, then act based on what’s best for you and your family.

When you react, you often shoot from the hip without considering the consequences. Sometimes you hit the target, but sometimes you make a mess that takes valuable time and resources to fix.

I think people who are successful often respond more. This is a lesson worth learning.

Earlier in the year, Jilda and I celebrated our 40-year wedding anniversary. I consider making it 40 years without bloodshed a significant accomplishment. I’ve also read more than 30 books, and I got a new job that I love.

We’ve lost some close friends this year, which is always brutal, but having known them even for a little while enriched our lives.

When I look to the New Year, I smile. We are heading to Europe in late summer or early fall. We’re finally replacing Jilda’s old Volvo, Ingrid. We also scheduled some improvements to our home that’s languished on our to-do list for too long.

I’ll have a new book out later in the year, and we’ll be recording a new music project as well. I’m excited.

I think that’s what I love most about New Years. It’s full of hope and promise for those who choose to respond to the passing of time.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Walking meditation

I've found myself stressing a little since I started my part-time job. I'm not a perfectionists, but I put a lot of emphasis on doing things as well as I can do them. And naturally, that causes a bit of stress.

Jilda spotted it before I realized it. She could tell by the way I held my coffee cup, and the way I looked into the distance through the front windows.

When she pointed it out, I knew she was on the mark. That was last week, and I began getting up a little early to meditate.

Part of what she does at her job is teach meditation so she had some really good ideas that paid dividends immediately.

One type of meditation that she taught me was a walking meditation. That's where you become mindful of every breath, every step, and every sensation. You also try to notice every sound, color, texture, and scent of the things you pass while you walk. 

I decided to try that during our walk today, and it was almost an out-of-body experience. The 30 slipped by almost without notice. 

As the walk was winding down, the color of moss on the gatepost was stunning. I slid the phone from my pocket and snapped the photo below.

When we got back to the house I felt relaxed.....almost taller.  I can tell you, I will do more walking meditations.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Early post

I'm writing early tonight, because in about 45 minutes, this big-red thing will be knocking on our door.

I choose to believe it will pass on by. Sometimes when it visits, it takes the power with it. So rather than sit here in the dark and fret, I'm posting early.

Today's been a rainy day. When it slacked of after lunch, Jilda and I took the dogs for a walk. Even then I could hear wind in the bare trees and I thought, "I better get back and check the weather.

The local guy is on the television giving frequent updates.

If we have power when it passes through, I'll do a post script.

P.S. The severe weather was a non-event. We had lightening and distant thunder but it rolled through and the lights never blinked. 

Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 02, 2015


It's interesting what you'll do to keep from writing. Sitting here wracking my brain to come up with a topic, I glanced over and the phone chord in my office was coiled tighter than than a stressed snake on Methamphetamine's, so obviously that had to be fixed.

Then I noticed a spill on my mouse pad that has been there for at least six months, but could render my mouse worthless at any moment.....fixed.

Did someone sneeze on my monitor?

HOW CAN I WORK LIKE THIS?????????????????


Thank goodness I had a picture to post, otherwise I'd be servicing my printer.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Annual sojourn

I have a birthday in a few weeks and we're going back to the beach for a few days. Jilda booked the rooms yesterday.

January is a perfect time to go to the beach. Often when head out on our early morning walk, we'll be the only ones there.  The only company being sandpipers, pelicans, and small crabs.

It's easy to get into restaurants, and the cost of rooms is lower than any other time of year.

I look forward to our annual sojourn. I hope you all have had a great holiday season and that 2015 is the best year yet.

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