Friday, July 31, 2015

Sepia Sunflower

The humidity fell suddenly this morning.  Maybe the blue moon chased it off to the south, or maybe it got bored with the wilt. But when I walked out onto the deck early this morning, the sky was spring blue today with clouds as thick as milk.

We've had enough rain to make the grass grow faster than kudzu, so after the dew evaporated, I put on my Farmer Rick hat,  fired up the riding lawnmower, and cut the back 40.

The sun was warm on my face, but the wind out of the north felt like heaven on my neck.

Our great nephew Jordan stayed with us again today and he loves spaghetti. So Jilda whipped up a batch with a fresh garden salad and cherry tomatoes from our garden.

The temps warmed up after lunch and I decided to wash my new (old) truck. I asked Jordan to help and his face lit up. He and Jilda shared a conspiratorial glance...which usually does not end well for me.

Midway through the wash job, I was hosed down. My mock rage evoked squeals of laughter.  When I finally wrestled the hosepipe from him, he didn't run that far. We both were drenched by the time we headed back inside. I only wish someone had taken some pictures.

The only picture I have today is a tintype of a sepia sunflower. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Today was my day to take Jordan, our great nephew, to swimming lessons. He took lessons earlier in the summer, but they think he might be a good fit for the swim team, so he's back for two weeks of additional training.

Today he swam the length of an olympic pool without a lifebelt or assistance from the coach. He also started working on diving (from the starting blocks) and the back stroke. Today was the first for all of these things. He was beaming after his lesson as I walked him to the shower room.

He was so tired afterwards that he almost fell asleep in the truck, and that was at 9:30 this morning.

He's growing so fast.  I'm very happy he's excelling at swimming. I'm sure he would do well in football, baseball, and soccer but those sports can be hard on growing bones.

The column I'm writing next week is about something that happened when Jilda and I went shopping with Jordan and his mom a few weeks ago. I did something goofy and he tried his best to stop me before I erred.

Tune in a week from this coming Monday to get the story.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I feel a little wilted today, but thankfully the Zinnias like it hot. It seems the hotter it gets, the more they thrive. They are like okra with beautiful blossoms.

Today was the deadline for my column. I had the first draft written last week (I was on a roll), but when I looked at it today, it seemed ragged as a beggars jacket.

I must have written and rewritten the column a half dozen times before it got close. When Jilda read over it, she found a number of issues.

So it was back to the drawing board. A few hours later, I was sick of it and sent it on its merry way.

Afterwards, I put on my walking shoes and went outside. Long before I reached the barn, it looked as if I'd entered a wet tee shirt contest...actually, that conjured up a picture that is better left in the mind's closet.

On the way back to the house, I passed the garden and the row of Zinnias that Jilda planted. She'd posted a beautiful picture of them on her blog a few days ago, but I decided to do a copycat tonight and shoot one for mine.

The weekend is supposed to be cooler. Let's hope the weatherman is not on crack.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A room with a view

My office at work was small.  No, our kitchen is office was tiny.  It was slightly larger than the closet across the hall where the maintenance guy kept his mop, but it was cozy.

The assistant to the college dean came to me a few weeks ago and told me they'd found a better office for me but it would take a while to get budgets approved, and work scheduled. The office needed painting and flooring.

This week the maintenance guys were toiling away down the hall. I wasn't sure what project they were working on, until the maintenance supervisor asked me yesterday if I was ready to move.

When I walked down to check out my new space, it was much bigger than my closet and it had a window. I smiled when I stepped inside and sat in my new chair.

There's something about having a window. I noticed students coming and going across the courtyard. I couldn't hear the birds, but I could see them flitting from limb to limb in the cherry trees just outside my window.

I have shelves, and cabinets to store all the supplies I use for my job instead of having everything crammed in boxes under my desk and in the corner.

My office now has good feng shui and what not. I think the move may have made me smarter.

At one point I got up and walked outside to stretch my legs. I snapped a photo watermelon colored crepe myrtles blooming in the courtyard.

When I returned to my desk, I launched the streaming app on my computer and listened to cello music while I worked. I love having a room with a view.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When a tree falls ~ my column is Sunday's paper

The storm that blew through last Tuesday took two trees down in my yard. When I went outside with the flashlight I expected the worst, but as it turns out, they did only minor damage to my fence and chicken pen.

I was feeling a little smug about the whole thing until I walked outside the next morning. The wind had broken another tree off at the ground and it was leaning toward the house.

I called the guy who does tree work for me but he was slammed. He said he would not be able to get to me until the following week. I still felt like I was beating the odds.

Perhaps the god of mirth thought I was taking the leaning tree of Empire too lightly. Or maybe she thought I had nothing better to do on a Sunday morning so she had some fun at my expense.

Jilda and I were getting ready to go to the outlet mall in Leeds to buy me some new shoes. I think the first Bush was in the White House the last time I bought shoes, and they served me well but were looking a little gnarly.

The weather app on my iPhone chirped at 9 a.m. announcing a heat advisory. It was already as hot as Satan’s sauna with the mercury lifting upwards more rapidly than the last NASA space launch. The air was as still as a vacuum.

We’d debated whether to simply stay inside and drink ice tea, but I really needed shoes.

Our niece Samantha and our great nephew Jordan decided to go with us and she volunteered to drive.

We told her we’d leave at 11 a.m. Most of the time she keeps a tighter schedule than Amtrack. I think she wears an atomic watch on her right wrist and consults it frequently. Jilda was folding her yoga blankets, and I was updating a website before we headed out. Just then we heard cracking sounds, followed by a WAAUUMMMPPPPPHH!

Jilda bolted out of the laundry room, which is the closest room to the driveway, and yelled, “The tree fell, the tree fell!”

My heart lurched to my chest because I knew it was time for Samantha to be pulling into our driveway.

I bolted out the front door and ran...yes even with gimpy knees, I ran out the front door with my heart pounding. When I got to the driveway, I drew up short, leaned over with my hands on my knees.

I was thankful Samantha and Jordan weren’t in my driveway, but the tree had centered the roof of my truck, smashing the top of the cab down to the steering wheel. Only pine needles had brushed the side of the house.

Standing for a moment to let my heart retreat from my throat back to my chest, I took a mental inventory: The house was unharmed, our youngun’s were safe and the vehicle is insured. Believe it or not, I was thankful.
Picture from the screen porch with my old truck in the back ground.  It was
taken last spring.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The upside

It's been an interesting week so we had nothing planned today. It felt good to resolve the vehicle dilemma by finding a good truck and a good price. But the yard was still a mess.

Thankfully the insurance company paid to have a tree guy come and remove the tree from my old truck and clean up the driveway, but I still had a mountain of debris in my yard. The initial storm blew down two trees that did no structural damage to our property, but they left a mess to clean up.

My mission today was to eliminate snake havens so I needed to burn pine mountain. I got on it early and soon flames were reaching over 20 feet into the sky.  The tops of nearby pine and sweet gum trees danced and swayed as the heat from the flames rose.

I pulled a chair out of the radius of heat, but the day needed no help from the fire to be hot. Walking over to the outside faucet, I turned the hosepipe on my face and neck. The sweat had already soaked me to the bone, so a little city water wouldn't hurt.

A breeze out of the east kicked up and it almost felt good outside.

After the rage left the fire, I left it to burn the pine slowly. All it would need would be for me to step out from time to time and rake the ends toward the center.  By this evening, all that was left was a hump of gray ash.

Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan came over to walk this evening. I heard him squealing at the front door before they knocked.

"There's a cloud over YOUR house," he announced. "And it's raining." I'd just looked at the Weather Channel and rain seems as rare as a pearl in an oyster. But when we stepped out back for our walk, I saw that Jordan was was raining.

We were all still a little wilted and decided a little rain would do us good. Halfway through our walk,
the bottom fell out and drenched us. We all started laughing uncontrollably. I'm not sure why, but we did. The rain felt refreshing on my skin.

Tonight I stopped at the sink to drink a glass of water before heading to the office to write this entry. When I looked out the window, a deer was under the apple tree munching on the corn I'd left there earlier.

It occurred to me that life throws stuff at you each day and you have a choice. You can get all stompy-footy and pout, or you can look for the upside.

I've learned that it's a lot more fun looking for the upside.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Happy camper

Thanks to all you well wishers out there. The ony snafu about the truck deal was that since I'm not from the town where the truck was located, they wanted cash. I knew that yesterday after talking to them briefly about the truck.

So at 8:30 this morning, I was at the bank's drive through cashing a very large check. The window drawer looks like the mechanical jaws of some prehistoric creature. After sliding the check into the jaws, the head teller came over to my window. She had a pensive look on her face as if she were about to deliver some bad news. I feared she say they would have to wait until the insurance check cleared before cashing my check. But that didn't happen. She said, I'm going to have to give you some of this in small bills. I breathed a sigh of relief.

A few moments later she shoved an envelop stuffed with cash through the jaws. I feared it looked the proceeds from selling a trunk full of drugs. I'm guessing that had I been stopped by police, they would have assumed I was a dealer and beaten me senseless with a hose before I could explain that I was only going to buy a truck. Thankfully, there were no authorites in the area.

When I got to the used car dealership the truck sitting at by the road looked exactly like my truck. Jilda parked the Honda and we got out for a look. The truck was as clean as my old truck. When I looked at the odemeter, it had almost half the miles as my truck had. There was one small dent in the hood, otherwise it looked great.

The center of the seats were tan where mine were gray and the truck was an automatic with cruise controll. Otherwise it could have been mistaken for my truck sitting there...well except for my truck now has a caved in roof, bursted windshield, back glass, and a bale of pine needles in the bed.

I drove it around the block and everything worked as expected.  It wound up costing me $300 more than my settlement because I'd forgotten to include taxes and other expenses associated with transfering ownership to me. But this truck had tires and a battery that were practically new.

When I pulled onto the Interstate, I rolled down the windows, jacked up the stereo, set the cruise controll, and pointed that baby home.

I am a happy camper.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Truck hunting

Truck hunting was a little depressing today. It seems most of the places I looked were quite fond of their used trucks. In fact, I could buy a new truck for what some of them wanted for a 5 year-old-truck.

I had not made payments on my old truck in 10 years and making payments is something I do not cherish.

I came home hot and tired. Jilda made me a glass of ice tea and I was cooling my brow when I decided to see what I could find on Craigslist. As it turns out, a dealership up near Berkeley Bob's Coffee House has a truck exactly like my old truck. When I checked the mileage and price, the truck had 80,000 fewer miles and was less that $200 more than my settlement check.

Jilda and I are going up tomorrow to check it out. If it looks as good as the pictures, I'll drive that baby home.

I'll say a little truck prayer tonight.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Magical time

Dusk is a magical time. Carlos Constanada wrote about it in his books, but I knew it long before I read his words.

At the intersection of light and dark, the sounds, smells and things you see are more vivid. And if you were to frame them in visual terms –– more vivid.

Bats dart and dance using advanced built-in radar technology to find and eat their weight in mosquitos.

The hooting of owls is also deceiving. You can't tell if they are distant or near. Whooo, whooo, whooo. Sometimes if you listen closely you can hear the female answer. Whoo, whoo. And the courtship begins.

Jilda didn't feel well today, so I ran to the nearest Chinese restaurant for some chicken and vegetables ans well as a helping of hot and sour soup, which is known to have restorative powers, at least in our household.

The sky was turning from blue to light grey and I decided to take an extra moment to swing through the parking lot at the forks of the river.

There was still a few fisherfolk tossing lures into the emerald water trying to catch a fish.

I rolled down the window and snapped a few photos before darkness fell. I know Constanada wrote about the desert, but it's hard for me to believe it's more magical than the river at dusk.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Babes on boats

I came across an old picture of Jilda with two of our friends. This picture was taken 20 years ago and when I came across it recently it made me smile.

We've known our friends Tom and Judy since the early 1980s. They loved the river so much that they moved down there many years ago. Where they live is not close to civilization, but they have a little piece of paradise.

They house sits on the banks of the Black Warrior River and they have a boat. There were summers that we spent most every weekend at their house.

Spring, summer, and autumn, we'd cruise up and down the river. When we'd find a secluded slough or creek, we'd pull in and cut the engine.

Soon after the echo of the engine subsided,  the sounds of nature would return. As the water gently lapped against the hull of the boat, we'd hear woodpeckers, martins, and great blue herons.

Fish as big as you arm often launched out of the water after bugs and baitfish. The sights, sounds, and earthy smells on the river are almost primal.

I can think of no better way to spend your time than being on the river with friends.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The saga continues

A woman from Pheonix visited where my wife works yesterday. She asked someone, "Is it always this hot here?" The woman told her, "No, this is July. It gets hot in August." 

I know the mercury gets higher in places like Pheonix, but the air is often dry as snuff. Here in the eastern U.S. and more specifically, in the south...and to narrow it down a little further zip code 35063, we deal with the combination of heat and humidity. The combination can make the devil sweat and consider moving to Colorado.

Anyhow, now that I'm through whining. I will tell you the tree people showed up at 6 AM this morning to cut the tree off my truck and clean up the debris. They finished up before the chickens jumped from the roost.

We still haven't sold Jilda's old Volvo, so I'd planned on her to get me through until the Insurance check came in. Funny thing about plans. They often don't pan out.

On the way to work, the temp gauge pegged, so I had to pull over and call the repair shop. When I check my insurance plan, it doesn't cover rental cars. Well TOOT. (My words were not appropriate here.)

Jilda had to come and fetch me so that I could work from home. We'll get through this and come out the other side smiling.

An upside was that while we were eating lunch, the deer came just outside our front windows to munch from the bird feeders.

To be continued.

Monday, July 20, 2015

LIfe is too short to be negative

I decided to raise the vibration level of my Facebook feed this past week. All the hate, negativity and plain stupidity some people share wore my spirit thin, so I decided to do my small part to change that, if only for a while.

I came across a stash of old photographs recently that I’d scanned from my mother’s favorite photo
albums, and I posted a few dozen old pictures.

If someone had wanted to see pictures before the Internet and Facebook, they would have had to do it the old fashioned way. It required a visit to grandma’s house or to the home of an elderly relative who collected pictures through the years.

When I was younger, I spent countless hours pouring through old picture books and boxes. Each time a family member or friends visited my mother’s house., one of the rituals was flipping through those old albums. Someone would see a picture of a long-forgotten loved one and infectious laughter would bubble up like cool water from an artesian well.

It’s hard not to get nostalgic when looking through old photographs, so my Facebook diversion worked…at least for a while. All of a sudden my timeline filled with loving comments about the pictures I’d posted.

I know video is all the rage, but with a video you see a lot of footage and a little magic. Still photographs are more powerful to me because they capture an instant in time. You’ll see happiness, surprise and sometimes you’ll see profound sadness.

In years past when slide projectors were all the rage, I’ve heard people complain about friends inviting them over for dinner and then hijacking them to watch vacation slideshows.  I actually loved watching vacation slideshows.

The best part of Facebook is when people share news about their families and friends. Oftentimes, you learn from Facebook when someone gets a new job, graduates from college, has a new grandbaby or when someone passes away. That’s news I can use.

I personally don’t share my views on politics, religion, the Confederate flag or what level of Candy Crush I’m on. To be honest, I’m not interested in the views of others on these topics either.

Most of us have our personal views on hot-button topics, and all the Facebook posts in the world will not change our minds about them. Especially when the views are vulgar or mean-spirited. When these threads come across my timeline, I hide them from view. If a Facebook friend consistently shares things that anger me, I unfriend them. Life is too short for all that negativity.

I wish more people would focus on what’s good about this world, instead of all that is wrong. We can rant until our fingers bleed on Facebook and never fix one thing.

My side trip down memory lane probably didn’t fix anything either, but judging from all the comments, I think it was a welcome diversion.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Perhaps the god of mirth thought I was taking the leaning tree of Empire too lightly, or  had nothing better to do on a Sunday morning, but the bill came due today at 10:55.

Just before lunch we heard cracking and crunching. When I went outside I discovered some things...some good and some bad.

The good things were the tree that was leaning was no long leaning. When it fell, it did not damage the house. It also did not hit the propane tank which could have caused...well, let's not think about that.

The bad thing was that it fell onto the cab of my truck crushing the roof down to the steering wheel. I'm fairly certain it's totaled unless of course I wanted a convertible truck, which with the temps dancing with a thousand degrees (OK, it just feels that hot) might not be that bad.

Another good thing is my truck and the house are insured through the same company so hopefully my claim will be seamless.

Another GREAT thing is that my niece Samantha and Jordan who were headed to our house in her car when the tree fell had not made it to the driveway.

All in all, I'd say I was blessed.

You can bet my column next Sunday will be about this event.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Sometimes I sit on the back deck and watch through the trees as the the sun sets to the west. This evening I decided that even though it was hotter than satans sauna with humidity as thick as sap, I wouldn't let it keep me from that magical moment.

When it gets this warm, the wildlife is lethargic. Even mosquitos can't congure up the strength to bite.

Some summers it becomes hazy this time of year. When you look at things nearby, you don't see the haze, but when you look into the distance, things tend to look almost faded. But it hasn't been hazy yet.

This evening my glass of ice tea sitting on the wrought iron table had beads of condensation snaking down the glass. I just sat there for a long while and breathed in the sultry air.

Sometimes I'd rather be a thousand miles away, and yet sometimes there's no place I'd rather be.

Friday, July 17, 2015

You win some and lose some

Last week, they yard looked great. I spent a few day cleaning up and burning mountains of limbs, brush and leaves. Woodsmoke wafted through the air at dusk. It wasn't thick heavy smoke, but just enough to remind me of the campfires I loved so much when I was younger.

That lasted less than a week when out of no where, an unpredicted line of thunderstorms swept through with winds just below hurricane force. Two of dead trees I'd been fretting over blew down missing everything except the edge of the chicken pen and the back fence which sustained a little damage.

I was happy for that good fortune, but the next morning as I headed off to work, I noticed a third tree I hadn't seen the night before. The wind had broken it off at the ground and it was leaning precariously toward the cars and the house. Ouch.

It's not as big as the ones that blew over, but it's still big enough to cause major roof damage if it falls before I can have it taken down.

The tree guy told me it would be at least a week before he could get here. I have my fingers crossed hoping another unexpected wind doesn't blow before it comes safely down.

The big dead tree that fell on the chicken pen broke into thousands of pieces so I've spent hours today piling up those limbs. I promise, they will burn soon. I really don't want more snakes moving in.

On an upnote, the Zenias are blooming.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A picture I prefer

This is a picture of my dad in 1955 as he stood in the driveway of our apartment in Whiting, Indiana.

I was five-years-old at the time, the youngest child at that time.

There are a lot of things I don't remember from my childhood, but I remember this apartment, and I remember this car.

I actually wrote two blog complete entries tonight after looking at this picture, but since I struggled with my column this week, I decided to save the words I'd written so that I can use them for next week's column. I'll share it with you next Monday evening when I post my column.

That's the thing about pictures. They are packed with emotion, promise, and history.
I didn't weep when I came across this picture, but I came close. My dad looked so young, thin, and happy.

The image of him that's been etched in my brain like a cheap tattoo was the one in his recliner a few days before he died of cancer.

I much prefer this picture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


My column was due today. I'd put off working on it because I was out of ideas. For me, ideas come when I'm doing new things. Going places I've never been, or haven't visited in a long time, or when I do something new. Another source is day-to-day living when something interesting happens.  But it seems that when the weather gets steamy, my activity level drops and my creativity fades.

Column deadlines are regular. Mine is every Wednesday. My mind can be as empty as the beer cooler at a frat party, but apparently the deadline doesn't care because it still rolls around. It's there on mind taunting me like the demon of a frightened child. "I'm gonna get you," it rasps.

I got up early and surveyed the storm damage (more on this later) and did some other routine chores trying to get the juices flowing, but when I sat down at my computer, nada.

Jilda was going to Birmingham with our great nephew Jordan to pick up some things at COSCO, so I decided to go with her.

Once I got home, I headed to the office and closed the door. The clock was ticking, so I took a deep breath and began typing. Before long, the words started flowing. After about an hour, I printed the pages for Jilda to proof.

It won't win a Pulitzer, but it reset the deadline clock for another seven days. May your deadlines all be manageable.

Our first sunflower of the year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fortunate wind

I noticed a dead pine in our backyard a while back. I spent an afternoon doing some crude math and stepping off distances between the tree in our house...the tree and our cars...the tree and our shed.

I'm not that good a math, but my scratchings told me that any of the stuff above could be in danger, depending upon which way the wind blows.

I called a tree guy and he came out one day while I was at work. He sent me a Facebook message and said he would take the tree down for $750.

I was hoping for a lower figure, but I'd made up my mind to make it happen when the temps dropped below a million degrees. I'd hate for the heat to make the tree cutters shrivel up like cheap bacon on a gas stove.

There was no reprieve today. Jilda sent me a text at 5:30 PM telling me she was headed home. When I stepped outside to greet her when she arrived, the sky was overcast and a restless wind blew from the north.

While eating dinner, we heard lightning slam down in the distance. Then we heard a blowing rain dinging the roof and windows. Next we heard a rumbling-crashing sound. "This does not sound good," was the thought that crossed my mind. When I stepped to the back deck, the dead tree had blown down, but it blew toward the edge of the yard. It appears the only damage was to the back of the chicken pen.  Hopefully, it won't be too hard to fix, but I'm thankful it didn't fall on the house our cars.

I drove past stump flowers today, so I turned around and shot a picture.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A clear and present danger ~ my column from Sunday's paper

One of the best self-help courses I’ve ever taken was “What Matters Most.” In that course, I learned that not everything that is urgent is important, and not everything that is important is urgent. I got a refresher lesson this week.

Jilda and I had family and friends over for the holiday this week and I was spent by the time they all left. The kitchen was a mess and we refuse to go to bed with a messy kitchen, so I washed the big stuff by hand while Jilda loaded the dishwasher with the smaller stuff.

Once that chore was done, I decided to dump the salty slush from the ice cream freezer. Salt water is no friend to plants, so I had to think where I wanted to dump the slush so I wouldn’t kill a tree or shrub. We have wisteria taking over the world on the lower side of our house that I’ve been fighting to keep within reason for some time. I actually think it’s related to kudzu.

Stepping to the edge of the light cast by our front porch lamp, I sloshed the contents out of the bucket and onto the vines. Holding the maple bucket upside down for a few moments, I let the contents drip. As I turned to go back inside, I saw movement out of the corner of myeye. Somewhere in the sympathetic nervous system deep inside my brain, I received fight or flight instructions at lightening speed.

In an instant, I realized that it wasn’t a harmless chicken snake or black racer, but a poisonous copperhead as big around as my forearm.

Reflexively, I swung the bucket with all my strength, making contact to the reptile’s midsection, but the beast crawled off into a tangle of vines only a few feet away from where we walk every day.

Each day, my niece Samantha and her son Jordan jog down the path by our backyard fence and on through our garden.

Cleaning up that area of the yard has been on my to-do list since early spring, but I never seem to find the time.

I mentioned the encounter to Jilda when I got back inside and she was freaked. Neither of us slept much that night.

A clip of the snake biting someone I love went viral in my head and was on a continuous loop. It was like a news clip of some tragedy that plays over and over.

The next morning I was up early and headed to my shed for tools. I had an urge to do some yard work because I knew I would not rest until it was done. With an ax and long-handle rake, I started pulling the vines off the sweet gum tree and raking a tangle of dead vines from around the trunk.  After about 15 minutes of cleaning, I raked up a pile of dried limbs and leaves. The snake had been hiding under the pile and crawled to escape deeper in the brush. He didn’t make it because I sliced him in two with the ax.

Believe it or not, I hated killing that snake. Had he been somewhere else other than my yard, I would have let him slide (no pun intended). But the thought of the snake hurting a loved one because I didn’t make time to do my job kept me awake.

Even though keeping the yard clean isn’t urgent, it is important. That is a lesson I will remember.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hang out on memory lane

It's hard not to get nostalgic when looking through old photographs. I started out on a mission to improve the vibration on my Facebook feed by posting old (non-controversial) photographs of our friends and family. It seems to have least for a while.

But I love photographs. I love looking at the photographs of my fellow bloggers. I know video is all the rage, but with a video you see a lot of footage and a little magic. Still photographs are more powerful to me because they capture an instant in time. You'll see happiness and sometimes you'll see profound sadness.

In years past when slide projectors were all the rage, I've heard people complain about friends inviting them over for dinner and then hijacking them to watch vacation slideshows.  I actually loved at watching vacation slideshows.

At any rate, I've been all down memory lane the last few days. I came across this picture of my lovely wife that I'd scanned a few years back. It's an unposed picture of her standing by my truck that I shot in the late 1970s. It seemed to capture her spirit.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

An honest day's work

It was hotter than the devil doing furnace maintenance today, but I still had areas in the yard that needed attention. I'm trying to eliminate snake havens.

I had two piles of limbs that have been building for well over a year. It was time they went. So just after coffee this morning, I hydrated and headed out to burn.

The day was beautiful...well except for humidity so high that it felt like a steam room,  but I couldn't let a little thing like the heat hinder me from my mission.

Piles of debris are where snakes hide and the close call last weekend was a warning shot across my bow. 

I got most everything burned before it got brutal, but I still had to check the fires throughout the day and make sure it burned to ashes.

This evening there were two mounds of smoldering gray ash. 

Jilda worked inside repainting our doors, and some furniture that needed a fresh coat.

After we'd finished, we sat on the couch for a few minutes to rest our bones. Jilda asked what if I'd like to have the grilled jalapenos. She stuffs them with cheese and sausage. We have a special device with holes which are a prefect fit core'd stuffed jalapenos.

I went outside and fired up the grill (as if I needed to be around more fire). When Jilda finished stuffing the peppers, she brought them to me and we sat in the shade and admired our days work as we waited for them to finish.

Even though the sun had already slipped behind the horizon, it was still oppressively hot, but sitting there at the end of the day felt good. We didn't talk much, just listened to the sounds that come in evening. 

After they finished, we poured ourselves cool drinks  and sat watching an old movie that we've seen a dozen times.  Bedtime will come early night tonight.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sharing old pictures

I know I've hammered on Facebook in the past, but it also has things that I love. As I looked for the Throw-back-Thursday picture last night, I pulled it from a directory of family photographs. These were pictures I scanned from some of my mother's photo albums.

It occurred to me that some of my cousins and extended family might not have seen the pictures before so today, I organized them into groups and posted them on Facebook. There were about a hundred pictures in all.

I was correct. My Facebook page lit up and I've received a ton of comments and shares. It's fun sharing old pictures with folks who have never seen them.

This picture is from the 1930s. My mom is the one standing in the
center above the child.

Thursday, July 09, 2015


I've never done a throw-back-Thursday before but bereft of words this evening, I struggled with this post.

Then a thought hit me. I see a lot of people doing throw-back-Thursday pictures and I always like them so I thought, why not? 

So here is my throw-back-Thursday picture of my extended family on my daddy's side. It's my mom and dad, grandfather and grandmother, aunts, uncles and most of my cousins.The only ones missing are my older brother Neil and my cousin Carlton.

I'm kneeling on the front row, second from the left.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Better to remain silent

Facebook has been almost unbearable lately. I'm all for debate and discussing difficult topics, but some of the posts are mean spirited. And that I can't (won't) take.

I've started hiding topics and if folks continue to spew hatred, I plan to unfriend them. Life is too short and there is enough noise in the world without contributing to it via Facebook.

In the spirit of that thought, I'm posting one of my pictures with a quote by Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Fun on the farm

Yesterday afternoon I walked the new property we recently bought. It had several trees that blew over last year when storms stomped through the area. Walking back to the barn, I fired up the tractor and headed back on a mission.

The trees had been down long enough that they'd started rotting which makes them much lighter than when they were green. I wasn't sure  the tractor had enough power to move them, but it did. In about 15 minutes, I'd pushed them all off to the side.

Today I walked around the land on foot getting a mental picture of what it will look like when the fruit trees are planted.

We plan to plant apple, pear, and about 30 more blueberry plants. We harvested several gallons of blueberries so far this year, which will be enough for us, but with about 30 more plants we'll be able to supply local restaurants which should put some vacation money in our pockets.

It's always nice generating a little cash while having fun on the farm.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Photography ~ My column from Sunday's paper

My Army buddy Kirk Trachy sent me a photograph this past week that he took in the fall of 1971. The photograph was taken on the breaker wall that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Bay of Colón.

I was barefoot and shirtless, wearing only cut-off blue jeans. In the photograph, I was squatting down at water’s edge about to snap a picture of a seabird or one of the exotic fish that lived in the bay. It was back when my hair was thick and my waist was thin. That moment seems like a lifetime ago.

Seeing the photograph reminded me that I’d never owned a camera before then. In fact, I don’t remember ever taking a picture before then.

My sister Mary Lois had a Brownie Instamatic that she carried around her neck for years snapping pictures of family and friends. Once she took a picture, she’d twist a big knob on the top with her thumb and index finger to advance the film.

Her pictures were hit and miss. Some of them had heads lopped off, and some were as fuzzy as mittens, but her pictures are the ones that bring a smile to our faces as we flip through the old family albums. She provided our photographic record.

Had I paused to consider the magic of photography back then, it might have occurred to me that being able to take decent pictures would have come in handy, but it wasn’t my time.

While stationed at Fort Monmouth in July 1971, Kirk was learning about photography. He had a Pentax camera, as I recall. After taking pictures one afternoon, I went with him to the photographic darkroom on the base and watched in fascination as the images began fading to life from a blank white sheet of photographic paper.

The Army paid paltry wages when I was first drafted, but then the military realized they could lure people into joining by paying a decent wage. I still couldn’t afford an expensive camera, but owning a nice camera made it onto my wish list.

As it turns out, most of the people in my communications training class all received orders for Panama.

Soon after we settled in at Fort Clayton, a group of us made our way to Panama City. I walked into a duty-free store filled with professional-grade cameras and high-powered stereo equipment. I fell in love.

My first full payday, I plopped down on a Canon FT-b camera with a 1.2 lens. The camera in the U.S would have cost three times what it cost there. I shot thousands of photographs while in the tropics, most of which were Ektachrome slides.

After my time in Panama, I became the family photographer and with a little sorting, you can watch every family move through the stages of their lives.

Learning to take pictures was a gift, and I have my old friend Kirk Trachy to thank for starting me down that path.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Fun weekend

It's been a slow news day here. The rain moved out in the early morning hours, but trailing clouds made for a gray morning.

I had an encounter with another snake after the company left last night, and this one wasn't one of the harmless ones. There's a story here, but I plan to write about it in my column for next Sunday, so you'll have to wait to read that story.

As a result of the encounter, I spent a great deal of time doing some long-neglected yard work. When I finished, I looked as if I'd showered with my clothes on, but it felt good.

It's been a good weekend for us. The kind of weekend that brings a smile to your face when you look back on the pictures.

I hope it's been a good one for you all too.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

O Happy Day

It's rained on and off for most of the day. Normally our parties spill onto the deck, and backyard but that didn't happen today. We ended up with five kids with the summertime blues inside. Jilda had to get creative with cards, blocks, toys, and bubbles. We scanned the room for sharp objects, and other hazards before turning them loose. Fortunately there we no broken bones, or lasting injuries.

Even with the rain, the day was good. We had friends and family who came together to eat. My nephew Haven smoked an 11-pound Boston Butt. Jilda grilled some hotdogs for this kids and her sister and niece brought poundcake, potato salad, and other goodies.

Jilda whipped up a batch of her homemade ice cream and I ran it through our electric maker. I can't describe how good it was with the pound cake and fresh blueberries.

I tried most of the day to get a decent photograph, but none of them was worth a toot so I winged it.
I have new software that turns pictures into tintype pictures. This is one of the photographs my friend Kirk sent me last week. I'm not sure if I like it yet or not.

I hope you all had a great holiday.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Getting ready for the fourth

It's been an old rainy day here today. Even when the rain stopped the sun remained hidden behind the clouds. The humidity would build to a state near steam, and then the rain would return.

Jilda and I worked most of the day sprucing the place up in preparation for our company tomorrow. This evening Jilda looked at me and said, "How do you feel about Chinese food tonight?" I thought that sounded like an excellent idea.

I slipped into shoes and grabbed my wallet. A few moments later I was on the road. Calling in the order ahead is always a good idea. The sun had decided to make an appearance just before exiting for the evening so the drive was a pleasant one.

The restaurant is usually packed on Fridays, but everyone must be headed to the beach because the restaurant was almost empty. My order was waiting when I arrived.

A few moments later, I was headed home. Jilda was taking a shower while I was gone so I decided to swing by the forks of the river to get a fishing update.

Not many people were there either. My old buddy Randy from the Fly Shop was waiting to pick up a couple of kayakers who'd rented his kayaks to float downriver.

I didn't want the food to get cold, so I got the reader's digest version of the fishing report, snapped a quick picture of the river mist, and the headed home.

We plugged in an old movie that we both love and enjoyed our food. Tomorrow we'll hit the gound running to make ready for the Fourth of July fun.

I hope you all have a remarkable weekend.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Evening stroll

I did yoga on the back deck early this morning. I try to alternate yoga and walking. The days have been warm and most days I need a shower after an evening walk.

The yoga felt good. Holding the poses for eight or 10 slow breaths gives my muscles a chance to relax into the pose. I did a plank, which is a the starting position of a pushup. You're back is straight and the weight of your body rests on extended arms. When you're in motion, the pose is not that difficult, but when you stay in that position of 10 SLOOOOOOOWWWWW breath, it feels like an eternity. My forearms quaked after seven breaths but I held it.

This evening, I finished up work and headed home. The sky was overcast so I decided to walk. Down behind the barn I came upon a small dogwood and one of the leaves had already turned. July just began and already it's ready for autumn.

By the time my timer sounded, I looked as if I had showered with my clothes on. Even in the heat, it felt good to get a little more exercise.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Gone fishing

My nephew Haven asked me to go fishing with him today. He had work to do this afternoon, so he wanted to go early.

Going early is fine with me. I was off today and the weatherman called for cooler temps and a chance of rain this afternoon.

I headed out at 5 a.m. for the rendezvous. We were fishing a private lake the size of New Hampshire, but he asked me to meet him at the forks of the river.

At 5:15 this morning there was no one else down there - shocker!  I wheeled into the lot and switched the ignition off. I rolled down the window while I waited. The engine ticked as it cooled and off to my left, I hear wings flapping. Out of the morning mist, a blue heron winged his way down stream, fussing because I'd interrupted his breakfast.

Haven arrived a few minutes later and we headed to the lake. While loading our fishing gear in the Jon boat, we could hear the bass pounding the water and it sounded like a child learning to swim.

I caught a small bream on my fist cast, but I released him back into the lake. That was the only fish I caught all morning.  I hung several fish, but lost them before landing them. Haven caught seven bass which will go into the freezer for our next fish fry later this summer.

I've been in a bit of a fishing slump lately but I won't let myself get discouraged. The best thing to do when you fall off the horse, is to get back on.

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