Saturday, February 28, 2015


I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty again tonight. I've seen it before, but I find it to be such a poignant movie.

Ben Stiller has starred in several movies, but his performance in this one is remarkable.

I've mentioned the film to several people who thought it was OK, but nothing special. And it's hard to explain why it resonates with me.

One scene is when he steps to the window at his job and receives his severance package. He worked for the magazine for 16 years when they let him go. You can almost feel the emotion as he slides his badge to the person passing out the checks.

I vividly remember the day back March of in 2010 when I went through a voluntary/involuntary (it's a long story) separation.

My circumstances were different, but I remember the last time I walked out of the building where I worked 27 years. My mind was racing as I turned in my badge and stepped out into the blinding sun of a spring morning.

There were geese lined up across the roof of the building. I could hear them honking as they watched me walk across the parking lot. I'd never seen them perched on the building before.  The scene seemed almost surreal.

I haven't thought of that moment in several years, but as I watched Walter Mitty it felt as real as if it had happened this morning.

The movie ends well and watching Stiller's character grow throughout the film is one reason I love it. My favorite movies are the ones that make me feel, and take me places I've never been. This one does that.

I'll leave you with one more snow picture that I took last Thursday. I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Friday, February 27, 2015


The sun came out early and full today. By the time I left at 8:30 a.m. the melt was ticking off the front porch. I had to be mindful not to dislodge a sheet of snow clinging precariously to the metal roof. It was one door slam away from being a really cool YouTube video for an unsuspecting visitor.

At the end of our road, is a church with a cemetery reaching from its steps almost to the road where I drive each day. I sat at the stop sign and fished my new sunglasses from the console and slid them on my face.

I sat for a moment longer looking at the cemetery with lingering snow and I thought to myself: is there a colder place than a cemetery in the snow? I can't imagine one.

Normally I'm off on Friday's, but the roads were closed yesterday so I stayed at home and played in the snow.

Once at my office, I started work on one of my projects. It didn't seem like I'd been there long when the lady who works down the hall stuck her head in the door and told me I was the last one in the building and to turn out the lights when I left. 

She must have seen the confusion on my face, so she told me that the school was only open a half day on Fridays. 

That was news to me, but I found a stopping point, packed up and headed out.

Once home, Jilda was getting ready to go to work, so I took Caillou for a long walk. The wind was still cold, but the landscape was still stunning.

On meditation rock, I stood for a long while listening to the water from the melting snow, rush down the tiny creek in the hollow that runs close to the house.

Caillou heard something off in the distance that I couldn't hear, but he stood for a long while until he was satisfied that it wasn't worth chasing.

That was the extent of my Friday. How was yours?

Thursday, February 26, 2015


We felt a little smug this morning. The lights blinked a time or two last night, but the power remained on.

The coffee pot had just beeped, signaling that it was ready for sipping when I heard the tell-tale BOOM. The power shut off immediately and all I could hear was the whisper of our ceiling fan twisting every-slowly to a stop. 

A few seconds later, I heard the UPS on my computer chirping. I know I have about three minutes to shut my computer down gracefully before it cuts the battery backup power to the computer. I hustled into the computer room and shut it down before it died.

The power was off a few hours before the roads cleared enough for repair trucks to make it through.

Stepping down to the chicken pen, the ground and trees looked like a Christmas card. I snapped a couple photos with my phone before heading into the pen.

The chickens were sleeping in and went wild when I came in to fill the feeders. 

Just after lunch, the power came back on and not long afterwards, the sun came out. The light reflecting off the snow was blinding.  

My great nephew Jordan came over to help me shovel the snow off the steps and sidewalk. A deer bounded through the yard while we shoveled. A few minutes later, a bird dog  I never saw before bounded up the yard, apparently in pursuit.

If the roads are passable, I'll head into work for a while tomorrow. The last few snow days were a nice littly vacation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow day

I kept thinking we'd dodge the frosty bullet this year but didn't happen. Sleet began ticking off the
deck around 1 p.m. and within minutes, snowflakes as big as silver dollars began falling. 

I snapped this picture after about 15 minutes. It's now 7 p.m. and it's still falling outside.

Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan came over to play for a while. 

Out in the garden, Jordan built a fort and we had snow battles. 

We also rolled up a couple snowmen.

After about an hour, his teeth were chattering, but he didn't want to go back inside, but his mom persisted.

I will still be on the ground in the morning, but the forecast calls for temps in the low 40 so it will probably begin to melt by mid-morning.

I just received an automated message that school has been cancelled tomorrow so it will be a snow day.

The lights are flickering, so I'm hoping we keep power. Y'all stay warm.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow pie

I drank the last of the milk when I raided the fridge after midnight last night. A glass of milk and a few gingersnaps set me right. When I mentioned to Jilda this morning that I drank the last of the milk, she smiled and I wasn't sure why.

It hit me this evening when I stopped by Walmart to pick up a fresh carton. They are predicting snow here tomorrow. We make fun of people who storm Walmart to pick up milk and bread at the first hint of snow.  Sure enough, when I went in, the dairy aisle looked as if locusts had descended on the area and picked it clean.

Leaning close to the cooler window, I stood on my tiptoes to get a better view of the cooler. Deep in the back, I saw one carton out of arm's reach on the top shelf. I called one of the stockmen over.  He stood on the edge of the cooler and pulled it out for me. I could have gotten it myself, but I didn't want to be on News at 11 - Walmart customer breaks a hip crawling into a cooler for the last carton of milk.

Dropping the milk in my buggy I made a Beeline for the register, avoiding the bread aisle on the journey. Fortunately,  I didn't see any friends or acquaintances.

Jilda and I will both be off tomorrow so hopefully we won't have to deal with getting out in the white stuff.

I'd be willing to bet our great nephew Jordan will come over and serve up some snow pies.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Taking off the training wheels

My wife, Jilda, wrote a poignant blog post about training wheels this week. Her blog, entitled “Transformation Information,” is about embracing life changes.
The inspiration for her entry was when our great nephew Jordan learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The sheer joy on his face with those first few feet of freedom made my heart soar along with his. I experienced that sensation in my life many times when I outgrew my training wheels.
I guess you could say my dad was like “training wheels,” as I learned to drive. He’d slide over close to me when I slipped behind the wheel and speak as calmly as a monk as he gave me the basic instructions.
“Not too heavy on the gas,” “Be mindful of the chickens, they’re not smart,” and “Keep it between the RC signs,” were some of the instructions I remember him giving.
The first time I drove alone, my heart soared like the proverbial eagle.
I felt a similar sense of triumph this past week when my first group of students received training certificates.
They came through the BACK TO WORK 50+ at Bevill State Community College last month. Six of them received scholarships to attend Computer Office Familiarization training. This training puts them closer to finding a job.
I coached these students over the past few months, and some of them seemed almost defeated. They had been unsuccessful in their job search.
Requirements for most jobs include a basic understanding of computers. Applicants without those skills never get an interview.
On the last day of classes, I stopped by to join in the celebration. We all lined up to pose for a picture. Everyone had a reason to smile. In a sense, these folks took off their training wheels and learned something life-changing. As we stood there, my spirit soared along with theirs.
It takes courage to remove the training wheels. “What if I stumble? What if I fail?”
Fear can be immobilizing. It seems like such a long time ago, but I remember being fearful to start back to college.
What if I’m too old?
What if I’m not smart enough?
What if I fail? These questions kept me up at night as I struggled with the decision about going back to school.
Looking back, it almost seems comical. School wasn’t a breeze, but when times got tough, I buckled down and did the work.
In May of 1997, I graduated with a master’s degree. Marching across the stage to receive my diploma with my mom and other family members looking on was a highpoint in my life. My heart soared.
This much I know for sure: training wheels are a great place to begin. You find your balance and get comfortable without the fear of falling.
The only way you’ll ever experience the bliss that comes with that first ride alone is to lose the training wheels. I can promise you, your heart will soar.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter's last hurrah

February is the hardest month of the year for me. Even though it's the shortest, it seems twice as long as the others.

We still have another week left of the month, and I would never wish away even an instant of my life, but it's tempting. It's been my least favorite month for as long as I can remember.

In the future, maybe I should move to the tropics for the month of February. Somewhere where the sun is warm and you can sit by a restless sea at sunset and drink fruity cocktails out of plastic cups with colorful umbrellas.

I'd probably have to go alone because Jilda loves winter and all that it brings. She likes walking when air escapes her mouth in huffing clouds. Caillou would stay with her because with fur as thick as a mink coat, he hates summer.

I guess the easiest thing for me to do is to stop whining and embrace winter's last hurrah.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Unlikely Improvements

There's an ancient oak down by the barn. Lightning lite it up about five years ago but it took a while for it to give up the ghost.

I realized back last summer that it needed to come down, but standing precariously close, I wasn't sure if I could take it down without putting it through the roof of the barn. So I put the task on my todo list of stuff that I really need to do.

A few years ago when I remodeled the barn, I focused on the parts that were damaged most. The front and side facing the north and east were the worst.  In places, the only thing holding the roof up was wood so bad that hungry termites wouldn't eat it.

The back of the barn was unsightly, but it was solid enough, so I decided to do that at a later time.

Fast forward to Thursday evening when a cold front pushed a squall line screaming before it. My front yard was covered with limbs and debris from someone else's yard.

This evening when Jilda and I walked between rain showers, we strolled to the barn. When we rounded the corner of the creative space, I realized the wind had taken the old dead oak down.

Fortunately, the ancient roof escaped major damage when only a small limb landed on it. But the back of the structure took the brunt when a section of trunk as big around as my waist, raked down the side of the barn.

Oh No! Was a thought that crossed my mind first. But when I got a closer look, I saw that none of the supporting studs or rafters were damaged.

As it turns out, the falling deadwood ripped the old siding off which will actually make repairing the barn easier.

So I guess you could say the storm did $300 worth of improvements.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thinking about my mom

Three years ago this afternoon, my mom died. All of her living children, and most of her grandchildren were sitting on the bed around her.
She had a massive stroke earlier in the week and had been unresponsive in the end, but I like to think she knew we were all there.
The last years of her life were not happy ones. My dad died in 1986 at the age of 63 and she never remarried.  
She lived alone for many years in a house with dark paneling that seemed more like a cave when the curtains were drawn. But she rarely let the light inside.
Things changed when she had a reaction to some medications, and once in the hospital, tests revealed she had massive coronary blockages. Things leveled out after doctors cleaned out her arteries and installed a pacemaker.
Not long afterward she went to live with my older sister. She was never happy with the arrangement but  admitted reluctantly that it was best.
Through the years, her health went downhill making it necessary to move her to a senior facility and that's where she died at 4 p.m. on February 20, 2012.
We buried her next to my dad a few days later in the old cemetery near where she lived most of her life.
I like to think that her spirit smiled as she was laid to rest, close enough to my dad to hold hands if they wanted to.
My mother and dad on their wedding day,
August 27, 1942

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dreaming of birds

I dreamed of birds last night. It's hard to imagine what a psychiatrist would make of that, and I'm not sure what brought it on.

Perhaps, it was because yesterday I saw small birds pecking at the edges of the birdbath and the vessel we use to provide water for our feathery friends. 

But the dream sent my mind careening down a path it has not traveled in some time. I remembered the day I arrived in the Panama Canal. 

It was fall of 1972.  When I stepped off the plane, it was soo hot. I thought: "Wow, I need to get off of this runway and out of this jet-wash." 

As it turns out, it wasn't jet-wash, but just a normal Panamanian day. It was like that for 18 months.

As I walked in through the front gates at Fort Clayton, there were palm trees lining the entrance. It was late afternoon and I heard a high-pitched drone that I couldn't identify.

When I looked up into the palms, I realized that it was thousands of parakeets and other tropical birds doing an evening chant. OK, it probably wasn't a chant, but I don't know how else to describe it.

So that's my sad story for February 19, 2015. 

Do you ever dream of birds?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


One of my goals this year was a home improvement project to extend our front porch. Even the term porch is a stretch because it's barely big enough to stand on while awaiting entry.

So this week I called my old carpenter buddy Ray to come up and help us with a material list for the job.

As soon as the weather warms, he'll come up and complete the job. He says it will take less than a half day. We're excited.

I had dental work again yesterday and my face still aches. So I'm keeping it short tonight.

Y'all stay warm.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Flipping through photographs

I made a decision some time back that I would use a picture with every post. At first I tried to have a picture that actually related to what I wrote, but that turned out harder than I imagined.

Plan B was to write and then find a pleasing picture to go with the writing.  This wound up being the approach I use most often.

The beauty of this method is that I frequently flip through my old pictures. Sometimes a picture will speak to me, spark an idea, and a story evolves. But sometimes I spend more time searching than writing.

Tonight as I flipped, I came across our cache of photographs from one of the trips to San Francisco.
Jilda and I have been there many times because of its proximity to Silicon Valley.

In my old job with the phone company, I was responsible for the maintenance of computer hardware. Most of the companies that provided computers for us were situated on a swath of land south of San Francisco.

On one trip, we took our niece Samantha and she snapped this picture of Jilda and me down around Pebble Beach.

I know there are more beautiful places on earth, but this is one of the most beautiful places we've ever been.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Our dog loves shoes

Late one evening last February, my wife Jilda and I heard scratching at the front door. We both looked up from our reading to listen. “There it is again,” Jilda said.

The watch on my wrist showed 9:30 p.m. Stepping to the windows by the door, I flipped the porch light on and looked out. Nothing. The outside thermometer read six degrees. A ribbon of frost had formed around the outside edges of the window.

Before sitting down, I heard the scratching again, so I turned and opened the door. A tiny shivering Yorkie scooted in and in the blink of an eye was sitting on the couch next to Jilda.

She grabbed a throw to cover the tiny critter, while I stepped to the front porch to see if anyone was in the yard or walking past on the road. There was no one.

That night the little dog slept bundled in a blanket in front of our fireplace.

We were sure we’d seen her at our neighbor’s house so the next day I stepped over to talk to them. Even though they’ve lived across the road a while, I didn’t know their name or phone number, but I left a note in their mailbox explaining that the dog had spent the night with us.

That afternoon, it warmed and we both had errands, so I put the little Yorkie out, commanding her to go home. Returning a few hours later, she was sitting on the arm of the couch wagging her tail in greeting.

I called Jilda at work to ask if she’d let the dog back inside. She said she hadn’t. The mystery deepened.

It was still daylight, so I put her out and watched through the window as she ran around the house. Stepping to the back door, I saw her crawl under the garden gate, and scamper through the yard before scooting through the doggie door we had installed for our collie Caillou. As it turns out, the neighbors were willing to let us have her, which is fortunate because that little mutt had wiggled her way into our hearts.

We named her Taz.

She behaves better than any dog we’ve ever owned. I thought she’d picked our house at random to survive the frigid night, but soon realized there were other motives at play.

One day I noticed her curled up on a pair of Jilda’s tennis shoes. When I leaned over to move the shoes to make room for her nap, she let out a low guttural growl that said, “Step away from the footwear, mister.” I’d heard that same sound from Jilda once when I impertinently tossed a pair of her expensive shoes into the closet.

To say my wife Jilda loves shoes is like saying the surface of sun is toasty. When she walks into high-end shoe stores her eyes glaze over and she tends to drool slightly. I discovered that Taz shares that same lust for shoes.

During the first few days of her visit to our house, Taz went on a discovery tour. She found Jilda’s shoe closet and later that afternoon she was in the living room with a pair of leather sandals. She wasn’t chewing them, only licking the soles and smelling every centimeter of the expensive Italian leather.

Taz quickly bonded with Jilda and often on weekends, you will find them on the couch looking through shoe catalogs. Ooooo, look at these boots Taz.

The pup will lick the pages and look up as if to say, “Will these fit us?” I retired from my full-time job a few years ago to write, but Jilda still works. While running errands recently, a friend asked her why she continued to work. Jilda pointed to the bumper sticker on the back of her Volvo, which reads, “Will work for shoes.”

Tazzy supports her decision 100 percent.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Do the work

My new job requires that I do several presentations a year to groups of people who are 50+ years old and unemployed.

The resources given to me have all the facts, but weaving those facts into words that connect with the people attending has been challenging. 

During past presentations, I said all the words, but they didn't really hit home. 

After the last presentation, I realized that what presented were facts and not telling a story. 

After about 20 minutes of facts, the eyes of the audience glaze over as if they were stoned and they begin checking emails on their cell phones, and start looking off into the distance as if they'd rather be anywhere but sitting in my presentation.

I began doing research on telling stories in presentations, and I looked at tons of presentations on It's a great resource. 

One presentation that blew me away was one based on Steve Job and his approach to presentations. It's entitled Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

One of the messages I've heard Jobs say time and again, was "Do the work."  

I was thinking about that message and how I could weave my presentation around the idea of doing the work. 

Older people have skills that employers want - they show up, they usually have decent communications skills, they can solve problems and they're usually eager to learn. What the need is a chance.

To get a chance, I'm trying to get them to understand, that finding a job at this age requires a lot of work and a little luck.

I plan to use the slide below in my presentation.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Evening light

One of my first cousins, Robby Watson, died this week and the viewing was tonight. He'd been ill for several years.

We were inseparable growing up. I was fairly cautious as a kid, but he was a risk taker. Once when we went swimming, he dove off a bluff that was 40 feet off the water. I was standing next to him and held my breath when his feet left the ledge. It seemed to take forever for him to hit the water.

His head popped up a moment later, and urged me to dive too. That day it was a little to risky for me, and I remember him chiding me as I made my way down the bluff. "Come up you big baby." That was Robby.

Sometimes families who grew up together, grow apart, and this was the case with Robby and me.  I haven't seen him  in years, even though he lived not far from where we grew up. I didn't realize he'd been sick until tonight.

Sitting there in the pews I felt bad that I hadn't made the effort to keep in touch.  

On the way out of the funeral home, the sky to the west was unbelievably beautiful. I reached into my pocket for my camera, and snapped this picture.

Rest in peace Robby.

Evening light

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Eve

Not much happening on the Watson home front today, but we did have lunch with our friends Tom and Judy, Brenda and Danny, who we don't see them enough.

This afternoon we set out for a leisurely walk, and even though the sun was out in full force, the wind was cold.

Our little dog Taz thought walking was a great idea, but she lost interest quickly when she realized how cold it was.

Jilda scooped her up and we cut our walk short.

Tonight, I almost dozed off while watching a movie after dinner, so we'll be turning in soon.

I hope you all have a remarkable Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spanish Moss

A few weeks ago when my wife Jilda and I were driving to the beach, we passed through parts of south Alabama down below Montgomery and the trees were hanging full of this Spanish Moss.

I'm not sure what it is about this that fascinates me, but it does. For one thing, it can be photogenic.

I thought for a long time that it was like a fungus, but turns out, it's an air plant.

The Kew website offers the following information.

Spanish moss possesses striking adaptations to its environment. The entire surface of the shoot is covered with highly specialized trichomes (scales) which absorb water and nutrients from the atmosphere; they also reduce transpiration and reflect strong light. Tillandsia usneoides prefers moist habitats and is often abundant near rivers, ponds and lakes.

Each time we go south, I stop and snap a few photographs to add to my mossy collection.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sometimes the words come slow.

I had several things on my Day Planner today, but the #1 priority was writing my column for Sunday's paper.

Normally, writing the column takes about a hour plus editing. Every so often, writing something of substance is brutal. 

I wrote two pieces which were 500 words each but both seemed lame as a pony with a stone bruise.

After lunch and a short nap, I headed back to my office, but the afternoon sun distracted me.

Stepping over to the back door, I stood for a long while. The warm sun felt good on my aching knees.

Picking up my laptop, I moved the office to the back deck.  After a few moments in the sun, my fingers began dancing on the keys and soon my column was rattling out of my ancient laserjet printer.

That's the nature of the beast -- sometimes the words come slow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A matter of focus

It's taken me years to learn how to take pictures. I've had a professional-grade camera since 1971 and worked as a darkroom technician for several years at the local weekly newspaper.

I could tell a good picture when I saw one, but taking one was another matter entirely. I spent hours looking at my contact sheets. For those of you unfamiliar with the term contact sheet, it's a photograph made by placing several strips of negatives across a sheet of photographic paper. The exposed contact sheet is an 8x10 with rows of tiny black and white pictures that you have to view with a special viewing glass. These were used before digital photography made review photographs instant.

Even though I knew the elements of good photography - composure, depth of field, light, and shadow, taking good pictures was still hit and miss for me. I knew how to compose and how to manipulate shutter speed and aperture to get the exposure I wanted,  but my pictures often seemed to be missing something. 

I've spend countless darkroom hours gently rocking a tray of foul-smelling chemicals under a dim amber safelight. Some would think those hours wasted, but I learned a great deal about what doesn't work.

It was Jilda who pointed out that you could have a photograph doesn't have to be technically perfect to be good. 

I silently scoffed at her notion at first, until she picked up a Vogue magazine and began flipping through. She started pointing out photographs of models and asking if the photographs were perfect. With my technical hat on, I looked at the pictures. Many of them were little off center, and for some, the exposure seemed a little dark for my taste, but the models looked sensational. 

Rethinking my approach to photography seemed like the right thing to do. Gradually, I began to pay more attention to the subject. I changed my focus, so to speak.

I'm still a long way from being as good, but my percentages have improved over time, I follow several bloggers who take outstanding photographs Hillary over at The Smitten Image comes to mind, but there are many others.

Photography is like writing, playing guitar, dancing, or golf. The more you study and practice, the better you get.

It's good to understand that the road is long.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Mistakes happen

I hope my high school English teacher didn’t read last week’s column. If she did, I can expect
My senior English teacher
her to “slap me naked’ and hide my clothes” the next time she sees me. Both Jilda and I missed a goofy grammar error. It also slipped by the editor.

Sitting on the sofa last Sunday morning enjoying a rich cup of coffee, I flipped open the paper. My eyes jumped straight to the error in my column as if they were the only words on the page. I’m trying to up my writing game, so that error was like a sucker punch to the stomach.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because everyone makes mistakes, but most people don’t have thousands of readers seeing the mistake in black and white.

I could imagine some of my friends, who are also writers, snorting coffee out of their noses when they saw my error. Thankfully, they are a kind bunch, and none of them took to social media or sent me chiding emails.

Most of the time, I write in the sanctuary of my office, with its familiar photographs on the walls and pencils in a teacup with teeth marks from years of contemplative gnawing. When weather permits, I’m on my screen porch with a backdrop of chirping birds and chimes tinkling in the breeze.

I wrote this piece with my laptop balanced on my knees as I flew across America on my flight to Orange County, California.

Being away from home and out of my element is no excuse for shoddy work, but telling myself that last Sunday when I discovered the error was comforting.

I think we are often harder on ourselves than other people are.

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. Some people make mistakes calculating their budgets and wind up with too much month left at the end of their money.

Mistakes in judgment can be costly. The late John F. Kennedy put it as eloquently as any when he said, “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.” That’s a lesson worth learning.

Making mistakes is part of life and everyone makes them.

I think the best thing to do once we realized we’ve messed up is to recognize the error, take responsibility, try to figure out how to do better next time and move on.

Here’s the thing: I think the fear of making a mistake is something that stops many people from pursuing their dreams.

“I could never do that, I might mess up and look stupid.” It’s heartbreaking how often I’ve heard that. As a result, talented people who could do remarkable work choose to leave their work undone.

I’d rather take a chance on looking stupid and put my work out there than to reach the end of my life without leaving my mark.

Ms. Martin, I know you taught me better in the class I took with you in 1968, so if you need to whack me the next time we meet, I will understand.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Angry Sky

Our songwriter group met today. The theme was Valentines Day. The idea was that everyone would write a song that had something to do with Valentines Day.

So after all the routine updates, cases were unlatched, and guitars pulled from their resting places. Our friend Joe Greg Winsett had written about memorable Valentines Days throughout his life. It was a touching and poignant country song. 

He is writes very good songs and he has one of the most honest voices I've ever heard. I loved his song.

Skip Cochran did his bluesy Valentines Day song entitled Cupid Ain't Stupid. The truth in this sone made me smile. Skip's voice comes from somewhere deep within and when you listen to his songs, you hear a lot more in his voice than then lyrics of his songs.

Our buddy Fred is a scream. He doesn't play an instrument, but he didn't let that get in the way of his contribution. He did a kind of chant without music of his lyrics. It was a I HATE VALENTINES DAY number that was a scream.

Jilda came up with a great approach to a Valentines Day song. We looked up all the sayings written on the little heart shaped candy that comes in the heart-shaped boxes of candy that kids exchange.

I think it's a neat little song.

When Skip's wife Lisa heard all the songs, she said she thought we should do a Valentines Day CD for next year. Maybe we will. It would be something that I've never heard before.

I smiled as I drove home. The clouds had moved in and the sky looked angry. Before getting on the Interstate,  I pulled to the emergency lane  and  snapped picture.

It was almost dark which made this exposure less than optimal, but you can get an idea of what it looked like here.

The rain will move in later this evening and I'll have to wear a raincoat tomorrow, but that's OK. 

I hope you all have a remarkable week. Below the picture is the lyrics to our new song.

I’ve never been in love
But I think I found the girl
And I don’t know what to do

I’m not good with words
Whenever she is near
Seems like I just come unglued

I found a little box
Of candy hearts with pretty words
Every one of them
I want to say to her

I love you
Will you be mine
Let’s kiss forever
Or the end of time

Hug me now
Will you be my
True love Valentine

True love Valentine

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday stuff

We have a few days of moderate weather to enjoy, so moving some of the trees out on the back deck for a bit of fresh air seemed merciful, as they have not wintered well.

I make our morning coffee the night before,  and tonight I had to step around the trees on the deck to dump the coffee grounds in the compost bucket that I keep on the bannister.

The air felt good......crisp but not chilling.  I stood for a long time drinking in the cloudless sky. The stars don't have much competition from lights around here and that's OK with me.

Before I stepped back inside I thought I saw a shooting star dart across the sky at the edge of my vision. I couldn't be sure if I really saw it, but I like to think that it did. I stood for a long time awaiting an encore, but it didn't happen.

The picture below, like many of my blog photos, has nothing to do with this post, but I shot it while back as I drove through the streets of what used to be my home town.

These days the wall that runs the length of main street is used for a canvas.  Each year, kids from the local high school leave their marks for the ages. It's an ever-fading tapestry.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Dam adventure

My niece called me yesterday to see if I could pick up my great nephew Jordan from school today. I had the day off and Jilda planned to work, so I told her I'd pick him up.

He's always smiling when he sees me from inside the school through the glass doors. Today I had something fun lined up  for us to do.

It was 60 degrees here but the sun made it feel a little warmer when the wind wasn't blowing.  He hopped in the truck and I buckled him in before heading out.

When I asked if he'd ever seen Smith Dam, he wasn't sure what I was talking about.  When I explained, he was in.

Apparently it had been a long day because on the 30 minute drive he leaned his head against the window and fell asleep.

When we got to the lake, took my time to get him awake before heading off to the water's edge. I told him that my family brought me to the dam as it was being built in the late 1950s. He couldn't picture that.

I talked for a long time about how big it was and some of the technical details, but he was still tired and his eyes began to glaze over, so I snapped a quick picture.

I'd thought that he would have been more excited, but I realized he was exhausted because he fell asleep for the ride back home.

School's hard work. I know that from experience.  Maybe this coming summer I can take him on another dam adventure.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Have you ever had a car you loved

I went in the break room to heat up my lunch today. Standing there listening to the whirr of the microwave as the radio waves did their magic, I turned to the window.

The sun drifted across a cloudless sky and my mind drifted off. One of the instructors  came in the break room for coffee and saw me looking out the window.

"Are you looking at my car?" she asked. She leaned next to the window and pointed to an older red Mustang convertible. It was beautiful.

She'd just had the car repainted and was proud of her ride. I understood.

Jilda loves her new car, but she really doesn't want to let her Volvo go.  The transmission has been slipping which is one of the reasons we got a new car.

We took it to the shop to get an estimate on Wednesday and the guy called today and it appears the fix was a simple one.  We'll know for sure tomorrow.

I know what it's like to become attached to a car....especially when it suits you.

I had a car that I loved in 1972. I spent hours cleaning and waxing that car with a soft baby diaper that I kept for that work.

About a month before I left for the Army, someone stole my pride and joy off the street in Birmingham. I never saw it again.

I have another dream car. It's pictured below. I even Photoshopped my name on the tag to make it seem more real. When I hit the lottery, it will be mine.

Have you ever had a car you loved?

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

An old cold day

It was an old cold day today. Not in the same league with Ohio or Ontario, but the sun took the day off and the wind out of the north kept flags flapping all day which made if feel cold to me.

I didn't take the picture below today, but as I flipped through old photographs, I came across it and it made me shiver involuntarily. I realized, it was the prefect picture for today.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

At the end of the day

I love the work I'm doing with Bevill State Community College and the AARP Foundation. Back when I worked for MaBell, I made a LOT more money than I do now, but often at the end of the day I didn't have a lot to show. 

Sure, I helped maintain the computers that kept the telephonic wheels turning, but the only measure was the money automatically deposited in your account twice a month.  The thing is, there were some people who loafed more than they worked, and they got paid too. 

I tried not to get involved in their journey because it was hard enough keeping my cart in the road. But still.

At the job I now have, I talk to people almost every day that are in need. Some are desperately in need. They aren't looking for a handout, they want a job and are eager to do whatever it takes to get one.

At the end of the day, if I can help move a few people a little closer to meaningful work, it will have been time well spent.

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