Saturday, October 31, 2015


Boo! Did I scare you?  Our friends Kaye and Jamie got married tonight. They've lived together for 15 years, but they decided to make it legal. It was a costume wedding.

I shot pictures but left most of them with Kaye and Jamie. The event was planned for outside, but it started raining buckets late this afternoon and everything was moved inside.

I shot this picture of them standing under a spider he build for the occasion. I got soaked while shooting this shot.

It was a fun evening. I hope you all had a great Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2015

New path

I got off early yesterday rolled into the driveway as Jilda was pulling out on her way to work. I'd caught up on my writing, and other chores so I had a free afternoon. I considered trout fishing, but with the amount of rain we'd had the previous days, the water would resemble chocolate milk so I decided to hang out here.

I flipped back through my things to do list and remembered something. We purchased some property from a neighbor that adjoined ours. It's a beautiful piece of land full of hundred-year-old oak and hickory  trees.

Just after the paperwork was signed, I walked the property and found a rock the size of a VW nestled on one side of the hollow. I slapped the rock a few times with my walking stick to rid it of any rattlesnakes or red wasps living around it. When I was sure it was safe, I sat for a long time contemplating our good fortune.

In my mind, I formulated a plan to clear out a rustic walking path through the new section to add variety to our daily walking routine.

When I saw that item on my todo list, I thought "Today would be a perfect day to work on the walking path." As it turns out, a few hours with an ax and pruning shears and the path was clear.
One swipe with the tractor and all the saw briars and scrub brush were gone leaving a beautiful path.

This morning, I took Jilda down the new path and she was ecstatic. I think I'll build a rustic bench down there which would be perfect for afternoon meditation.

This evening I snapped a picture of one of the Old Maids (Zinnias). I thought the dry weather had snuffed them out, but the recent rain brought them back to life. With the refreshing rain, they should bloom until frost.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

We'll climb that roost

I think I mentioned the bantam hen that visited us one day in early summer. She must have decided she liked the way our backyard looked because she jumped the fence and she's been here ever since.

Zeus the Rooster tried to have his way with her early on, but she was too fast. One day while Jilda and I were on the back porch sipping tea, we watched him scratch, cluck, and wag his head. Normally that appeals to his regular hens, but the new game wasn't having any of it. She was fleet of foot so we decided to name her Roadie because she was as fast as a roadrunner.

Several days later, we watched as she began to venture closer and finally she decided he was the real thing and she became one of his love chicks.

A month or so ago, we missed Roadie. After a few days, we began to think that she'd moved on. We'd pretty much given up on her when she saw her blast through the yard pecking bugs, worms, and drinking water. A few minutes later she was gone again.

I realized she was setting.  My search began in the direction from which she came. I have an old pressure washer that's seen its better days, but I haven't taken it to the junkyard. When I looked under the old washer, there she was.

A week or so later we saw her in the yard with a baby chick the size of a cotton ball. It didn't look much bigger than a hummingbird. We tried to get pictures, but she was very protective. Jilda managed to get a few, but they were taken at a distance.

Fast forward to today. When I went for my afternoon walk, Roadie and cotton-ball were out by the fence. Cotton-ball, as my grandmother would say, "Is growing like a weed." The baby is now almost as big as his mother...and I fear it's a rooster.

We won't have to do anything right away, but by next summer we'll have to decide how to keep the young male separated from Zeus. Two roosters in a henhouse is problematic.

We'll climb that roost when we get there. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Off day

The sky was grey as a gun barrel this morning when I sat down to meditate. It rained on and off all night and looked as though it would be another rainy day. It's been so dry here, I wasn't worried about the sun taking a few days off.

We got about three inches of rain, which was enough to give the earth a good drink but the lake levels were still lower than normal.

After a nice meditation, I punched the brew button on the coffee maker as I checked my email. A while later when the maker beeped, I called to Jilda who was still sleeping.

As we sat to sip our first cup, the sun broke through the clouds and a shaft of light made the front glass glint.

It took a while for the cloud cover to burn off, but by this afternoon the sky was pool blue with fluffy white clouds.

During our walk, I snapped a picture of the sun highlighting some oak leaves which made them look as though they were on fire. I love off days
like today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


 The earth was toast dry earlier this week because we haven't had rain for months. Jilda and I did a little rain dance when we saw the Hurricane Patricia approaching Mexico from the west. We felt bad about encouraging the storm as it grew in strength to become the strongest hurricane in history.

Patricia at one point had sustained winds equivalent to an F5 tornado. We've had our share of those here in Alabama.  We know from experience that they can rip up pavement and hurl 2x4 through the trunks of pine trees.

But once the storm made landfall it weakened dramatically. It dumped several feet of rain on Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisana as the clouds moved eastward.

At one point, it looked as if the clouds would veer northward leaving us without a drop but the strength of the system had its way with our stubborn high-pressure system and the rain began to fall.
Slowly at first, but I woke up Monday morning to the rattling sound of rain on the metal roof.

It's been raining on and off since then. Even now as I write these words, I can hear the wind in the pine outside my window and then rain will rake the roof.

When I walked through the garden earlier today, my shoes squished through the soggy earth in places. I could almost hear the autumn leaves rejoicing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chasing Chickens

Jilda and I have kept chickens for years. All you have to do is toss out a few scoops of scratch feed, keep their water fresh and in return we have an aerated yard and a fridge full of fresh eggs. When the price of eggs skyrocketed, we smiled all the way to the henhouse. An added benefit of keeping chickens is pest control. We let them run free inside our backyard fence, and they have a field day pecking and scratching. Bugs, ants, spiders, and aphids are chicken candy. But as we learned this week, they can be aggravating.

The birds we’ve had through the years have been delightful for the most part, but last Tuesday Jilda drove into the driveway moments after me. We’d both had grueling days and were ready to fix supper and unwind.

As we stepped onto the walk from the driveway, we noticed something out of the corner of our eye. It was one of our newer chickens pecking birdseed under the feeder in the front yard.

Apparently she’d gotten bored in the backyard and flew out to see if the bugs were fatter on the other side of the fence.

Our dogs are used to the chickens and don’t bother them in the front yard, but in the past we’ve lost birds to neighborhood dogs.

I set my laptop bag on the porch while Jilda stepped over and opened the backyard gate. We gently began to herd the rebel hen toward the opening.

You’d think this would be easy, but when the Good Lord gave out brains, apparently chickens were at the end of the line and missed out on the gray matter.

We chased that chicken around the yard before it finally darted under the truck. Fetching
my walking stick, I shooed it out and into the fence.

I told Jilda we needed to clip their wing feathers or we’d be doing this every evening. She wasn’t too keen on the idea of chasing chickens, so she agreed.

The plan was to herd them into the chicken pen, which is a much smaller contained space where we could hem them up, catch them, and do the deed. Having a plan and executing it are two totally different things. We chased those four chickens all around the back yard trying to herd them into the pen. I’m thankful no one got video because it would have gone viral on YouTube.

After about 20 minutes, Jilda was huffing and I was sweating like a marathon runner.

After a few more minutes, Jilda said, “If you’ll get the shotgun, I’ll heat up the lard and we’ll have fried chicken for supper.” One glance at her face and I knew she was serious.

Fortunately, I remember the landing net I use when I fish. With it, we managed to corner the birds one at a time and trapped them with the net. While she held them upside down by their legs, they squawked pitifully as I clipped off about six inches of their wings.

This morning after I freed them from the pen, they are all skulking around inside the fence. I could almost hear them squawking the tune to Birmingham Jail.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Skills. There are skills in this life that come in handy. Just yesterday when my great nephew Jordan was trying to open the side gate to the backyard, he stood there wiggling the latch trying to open it.

I could see his rising frustration level. In his seven-year-old mind he thinks a good wiggle should work in most instances. To be fair, I often wiggle things before I look more deeply to see how they work. 

When I stepped over and showed him how the gate latch mechanism worked, he wasn't interested at first, but then when he watched more closely and solved the gate riddle I could tell he was interested. 
He quickly tried his new-learned skills on all three gates. With a few simple movements, the gates swung open.

I then told him it was important to try and understand how things worked. He listened for a moment before his eyes glazed over and he was ready to move on to something else...but it occurred to me how important it is to learn how things work.

I've worked on most of the cars I've owned in my life. Through years of experience, I've learned what projects I can do myself and what projects are best left for those with better tools and more patience.

I've saved an incredible amount of money. I never call a repairman to work on appliances, cars, lawnmowers, weedeaters, or anything mechanical until I have a look to see if I can spot the problem.

More often that you'd think, the problem is obvious. A bad bearing here, a broken belt there and the problem is halfway fixed.

Late this afternoon my nephew James called to say the alternator on his minivan was defective and needed replacement. All the garages were closed and he had to be in Mississippi in the morning.

I went to my shed and got my tools and headed out to help. Fortunately, he has an uncle on his wife's side of the family that tinkered too. Between the both of us, we managed to pool our tools and experience to replace the alternator. 

My nephew was grateful for a couple of old "squeaky kneed" (is that a word?) uncles with skills.

Ok, this has nothing to do with the post. I promise I'll take normal pictures
in the coming weeks. But I like this one I took earlier in the day at our
friends Kaye and Jamie's house.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fun day

I'm not sure what the final count and amount was, but we had a house full of folks this afternoon. There were an even dozen kids. They ranged from five to 15.

We set up a croquet set, a badminton set, bocce ball set, along with several lawn games. The kids played with those things briefly, but in the end, they played freeze tag and blew bubbles until it got too dark.

When they came inside they landed on the food like locusts and  then the younger kids went to the screen porch. The things they played with were wooden blocks, Play-Doh, and they painted with watercolor. Obviously, the four older kids went outside to talk among themselves. I would love to have been a fly on the wall.

Playing host and hostess to that many people can be grueling. After they all left and as we cleaned the kitchen, I asked Jilda if she'd thought to take a picture of all the kids. She snorted with laughter. I know you don't believe this, but I didn't take one either.

I did snap a photo earlier in the day of the sunflower arrangement on our dining room table with my new Hipstamatic app. I'm learning that getting good pictures with it are hit and miss.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Happy Weekend

Today has been a busy one for me. It was Homecoming at our local high school and I always shoot pictures of the parade and the football game.

We walked earlier this morning so I'd be sure to get my steps in but I shouldn't have worried. I wound up with almost 12,000 steps.

At one point, I paused for a moment to tie my shoe and Jilda snapped this picture.

Tomorrow our nephew is coming over from Mississippi with his family and we'll have a chili-fest.
It should be fun.

I hope you all have a remarkable

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Something unexpected

I had an unencumbered afternoon so I decided to spend it trout fishing. A quick call to the lake-level phone number confirmed my decision when the automated voice (I'm pretty sure she wasn't a trout fisherwoman) reported that no turbines were releasing water.

That was good news because  turbines release  thousands of gallons of water per minute. If you're downstream when they turn those babies on you better get out quickly or know how to swim.

But when the turbines aren't running, fly fisherfolk can wade halfway across the river casting weightless flies into eddies hoping to trick a trout into biting what is essentially feathers, thread, and steel barbless hooks. All these things drifted across my mind as I drove to the fishing spot.

I decided to stop by the fly shop to get the scoop on what the trout were hitting. Once inside, my old friend Randy said, "I hope you weren't planning to fish." I looked a little confused. When I told him the recording said the power company wasn't releasing any water, he said, "Well, they are."

I could have gotten all snarkyfied (is that a word?), but could have taken that and $4.85 and bought a Starbuck Mocha coffee drink...if there had been a Starbuck within 50 miles.  But I digress.

I sat around the fly shop with a couple other fishermen and talked fishing.

As the sun began to set, I said my goodbye's and headed out. As I pulled out of the parking lot, it seemed unwise to be this close and not have a look at the fishing spot.

Parking my truck at one of the access points, I strolled down to the water's edge. The whisper rushing water was just barely audible. Down river, I heard a trout jump out of the water after supper.

I enjoyed myself without wetting a hook. That's the way life is. You don't always get what you expect, but if you don't hang a lot of attachment to outcomes, you'll often get something just as good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Starkly beautiful moment

This afternoon when I checked my fitness tracker I'd walked over 9,000 steps. My goal is 10,000 a day. I fell short Monday and Tuesday because of work related travel, but I made up my mind to make it happen today. 

As I slid on my walking shoes, Jilda decided to walk with me. She'd already walked 12,000 steps, but a few more never hurt.

The setting sun was playing peek-a-boo through the trees. I snapped a quick picture of a young hickory with amber leaves that the sun chose to shine on. It was a starkly beautiful moment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Another beautiful autumn day

Today was another stellar autumn day here. Fetching a fresh cup of coffee from a gurgling pot, I got to work and fielded some calls. The session scheduled later in the day at the Hamilton Campus didn't have many signed up and I'd hoped to get a few more to come.

When I finished, I stepped outside to dump the dregs of my coffee in the flowerbed. In the courtyard, a student and teacher were running lines from Shakespeare's Hamlet.  I sat on the sun-warmed bricks at the edge of the flowerbed to watch for a moment. A slow breeze out of the west felt cool on my skin. I think had I leaned back against the wall, I could have napped.

A maple growing in the courtyard is turning and looked stunning. I snapped a picture of where leaves met the blue sky. I downloaded a new filter for my Hipstamatic app called Shanghai and that's what I used. You can tell by the picture  where it got its name because it looks like one of those beautiful Chinese watercolors.

When I went back inside, I began packing for my long drive northwestward toward Tupelo, Mississippi.

When it came time for the session, only one person showed up so I did away with the overheads and loaded the presentation on my laptop. We sat together at a desk and I did my little song and dance. I could not have done it better had there been 40 people there.

On the long drive home, I had another photo op when I saw fuzzy weeds by the Interstate.  I'd pulled over to stretch my legs and snapped a few frames.

Some days don't turn out like you plan, but too much planning can cause you to miss things you would never have seen.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Only in October ~ my column from Sunday's paper

NOTE: This column grew out of a short post from last week.

The month of October is not for pluviophiles (people who love rainy days) because it’s one of the driest months in the South. But it’s probably the favorite month of the “philes” that love sunsets because without rain clouds obscuring the evening skies, the sun shows out.

October tantalizes all the senses. Driving home one evening earlier this week, a neighbor was burning autumn leaves. I’m not a fan of most kinds of smoke, but the aroma of burning leaves on the evening breeze is blissful.

A family cookout is on the calendar for my great nephew Stone’s birthday in a few weeks. We’re doing a chili cook-off in the evening, and we’ll eat outside while enjoying the warmth of the fire pit.

Most years, our apple tree is loaded with fruit that’s at its peak in October.

Last year we had a hayride and stopped the wagon beneath the branches of the apple tree so that the kids could stand up and pluck softball-sized apples from low-hanging limbs. If you’ve never experienced the sweet juice of a freshly picked apple, you haven’t lived fully. Our tree decided to take this year off so there’s not a single apple that made it through spring and summer.

October is not all fun and games because that’s when the flu bug seems to take root. So as a rule, I get a flu shot each October.

This year was no different, but when I ran by the local pharmacy yesterday for the shot, the clerk got a snippy little message on his screen that read “Not Approved.” I was a little perplexed because I’d gotten the shot there last year.

They said no problem; they’d file it another way. It’s easy to grow impatient waiting for the rusty gears of the system to turn, but I sat to the side and waited. Some of the techniques picked up in my recent online meditation course came in handy.

Instead of getting all stompy-footy (is that a word?) and huff up a lung, I sat there and breathed. I knew my daily walk would be delayed and that daylight was waning, but worse things could be happening to me. That lesson became clear a few moments later.

An elderly lady who looked gravely ill took a seat nearby while one of her grandkids (I’m guessing) stood at the counter and handled the transaction. She was shadow thin with dark circles under her eyes. It’s hard to know her story, but I feel sure the last few months have not been kind to her. She sat there uncomplaining as her gears began slowly turning.

The clerks behind the counter were scurrying about trying to work out the kinks in my issue, but rather than have them frazzled and have the lady beside me wait a second longer than necessary, I told them I’d call the insurance company later and work out the problem.

As I turned to walk toward my truck, I smiled at my chair-buddy and said a silent prayer for her.

Once home, I grabbed my spider stick and headed out for a short walk.

At one point down close to the barn, the sun in a last-ditch effort threw spears of light through the undergrowth and in those few moments created a sumac sunset. I thought to myself — only in October.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Writing porch

Years ago when we built a screen porch on the side of our house, we imagined we'd spend mornings there drinking coffee, and Saturday afternoons there entertaining friends and neighbors.

I crawled through a stifling attic in August running thick speaker cables hooked to expensive outdoor
speakers so that we could listen to music from our stereo in the living room.

We have entertained a few friends out on the porch, but as many of you know, party people tend to congregate in the kitchen near the food, and beer. Few venture out on the peaceful porch.

But the porch wasn't wasted  sweat and money. We have a fountain on a decorative concrete patio. I poured the stones from decorative moulds. On quiet mornings, the gurgling fountain adds a nice backdrop to the sound of chirping birds, and squirrels digging for water oak acorns next to the porch.

Through the years, we've added furniture and objects d'art. We still drink our morning coffee out there, especially in spring and summer, but most of the newspaper columns I write spring to life on that porch.

Today as I brainstormed ideas for next Sunday's column, I glanced up on the wall at a piece of yard art one of Jilda's friends gave her as a birthday gift a few years ago.

The light from the west was perfect on the face of the sun so I paused long enough to snap a photo with my phone.

I love that porch. And even though it didn't turn out the way we thought, it's my favorite writing place. I think everyone needs a writing porch.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


It's been beautiful here today. The critters know the seasons are changing. Last night before we went to bed, we saw two young deer in the front yard drinking from the birdbath. At one point when I looked out the front window, there were a dozen cardinals in the rose of Sharon bush in the yard. We feed birds all summer, but we put out even more seed in the fall and winter.

This afternoon I watched my college team play a tough game against Texas A&M. The final was 41-23 but the game was very close until the end.

After the seconds had ticked off the scoreboard, I felt as if I'd played on the line during the entire game.

It will be an early bedtime tonight.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lucky shoe

There was a lucky horseshoe that hung over the door of our old barn for as long as I remember. Then several years ago when we renovated, some of the rotted wood had to be torn away and replaced. I took the horseshoe down and put it in a safe place where it wouldn't get lost.

After finishing the repairs, it took some time for the paint to dry. About a week later when I went back to put the finishing touches on the barn, I couldn't find the horseshoe. Eventually, I gave up and forgot about the old lucky charm.

Today I needed a bolt for the tiller so I stepped down to the barn where I keep a bucket of bolts, nuts, and fittings that I inherited from Jilda's dad Sharky who collected hardware as a past time.

Rattling through the five-gallon bucket of bolts, I found the lucky horseshoe. I would have put it up on the spot, but I didn't have the hammer with me. Hung the metal shoe on the door handle so that I wouldn't misplace it again. Tomorrow morning, I'll go down and nail that baby up.

Here's an old pre-remodeling picture I came across to go with this post.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

That dog won't hunt

I've waded too closely to the shallow end of my creativity.  I know there are important topics out there. Things that mean something. But the escape me.

While sitting on the couch flipping through photographs trying to find something...anything, I came up short.

So I chose a photo app on my phone that I haven't used in a long while and snapped a picture of my foot.

I'd like to say this too was a butt shot, but I intentionally shot a picture of my foot.

The picture looks bizarre even to me, but once I commit to an idea, it's hard to back out. I go with it like it's genius...but as my daddy used to say: "Son, that dog won't hunt."

I'm afraid my daddy called this one right.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Butt shot

OK folks, don't get excited by the blog title. The picture below was an accident. This afternoon on our walk, I'd snapped a picture of a poison oak leaf that had turned a nice shade of crimson.

After taking the picture, I slid my camera in my back pocket because for some unknown reason when I had it in my front pocket it kept turning on my music player.

Tonight as I was flipping through the days photos, I saw the picture below and realized the camera must have snapped when as I sliding it into my hip pocket. So this is actually a butt shot. I'm beginning to wonder if my phone is possessed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sumac sunset

My walk came later today than normal. I'd run by the local pharmacy to get my annual flu shot but when they keyed in my info, the message said - "Not Approved."

They said no problem they'd file it another way. It's easy to grow impatient waiting for the rusty gears of the system to turn, but I sat to the side and waited. Some of the techniques picked up in my recent online meditation course came in handy.

Instead of getting all stompy-footy (is that a word?) and huff up a lung, I sat there and breathed. I knew my walking daylight was waning, but worse things could be happening to me. That became clear to me a few moments later.

An elderly lady who was obviously sick took a seat nearby while one of her grandkids (I'm guessing) stood at the counter and handled the transaction. She was shadow thin with dark circles under her eyes. It's hard to know her story, but I'm certain these last few months were not kind to her. She sat there uncomplaining as her gears began to turn.

The clerks behind the counter were scurrying about trying to work out the kinks in my issue, but rather than have them frazzled I told them I'd call the insurance company and work out the problem.

I said a silent prayer for my sick chair-buddy and headed home.

Once home, I grabbed my spider stick and headed out for a short walk before darkness fell.

At on point down close to the barn the sun, in a last-ditch effort, threw spears of light through the undergrowth and in those few moments, created a sumac sunset.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My love of food ~ My column from Sunday's paper

I’m not sure if it’s my hillbilly heritage or some age-related chink in my chromosomes, but my life now revolves around food.

I’ve read that most men spend a lot of time thinking about money, careers, politics and sex. That might have been true when I was younger, but now I think about BBQ, bagels and any kind of meat on a stick.

On the mornings when Jilda and I head into the city, I usually ask, “Where are we eating lunch?” Even though it’s only 8 a.m., it never seems too early to be thinking about food.

We bought a membership to COSTCO, not because you can buy a year’s worth of paper towels and TP cheaply, but because you can buy wild salmon, organic blueberries, brick-sized chunks of cheese and apple-smoked bacon in four-pound packs. We go to COSTCO for the food.

When you mention protein shakes for breakfast, most people roll their eyes and yawn. But Jilda has turned morning shakes into an art form.

Several years ago we bought a blender that she used to whip up shakes that tasted better than the ones we bought at Mug ‘n Cone Drive-In when we were dating.

Then last year Jilda saw a spot on QVC for a Vitamix. When she pitched the idea to me, I was all for it until I saw the price tag. “We could get a swimming pool cheaper than that,” I said flippantly.

She was persistent in her pursuit and emailed me links to Vitamix videos and other promotional information on the device.

But in my capacity as the resident cheapskate, I was unmoved so she took off the gloves. Recently, when the QVC channel featured Vitamixes, the remote control somehow disappeared. Also, dinner seemed to be contingent upon me watching the pitch.

I could smell the aroma of dinner wafting through the house so my defenses were down.

Sitting there, I watched as they whipped up a batch of cheese and broccoli soup, which happens to be my favorite. The woman popped the ingredients into the device and turned that baby on high. In about five minutes, she poured out two cups of piping hot soup.

Next, the woman clattered a few cups of ice into the device along with half and half, vanilla flavoring, and some other ingredients. After the concoction rattled a moment or two, she scooped out ice cream.

“How does it know whether to make it hot or cold?” I wondered. Then my figure-outter (is that a word?) kicked in and I realized it was the motor speed and spin duration that determined in part if the final results burned your tongue or gave you brain freeze.

After a few minutes, I was convinced to buy one of those babies for our kitchen counter. After all, who needs both kidneys? I could make a sacrifice for the sake of a good meal. Another bonus was that Vitamix products are made in America.

Since our culinary contraption arrived, we’ve made all kinds of soup, ice cream and more kinds of morning shakes than I can name. We made peanut butter from dry-roasted peanuts.

Yesterday, Jilda threw in frozen blueberries, a banana, coconut water, orange juice, yogurt, flax seed and carrots. With a bit of showmanship, she washed an apple, twisted off the stem and dropped that baby into the device.

My eyebrows furrowed as I wasn’t looking forward to drinking apple seeds, but when she poured the concoction out, it was one of the tastiest treats I’ve ever had. Our new Vitamix gives us another way to enjoy food.

Peach Blossoms this past spring

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Evening in Empire

The sky this evening was incredible. I'd been to a meeting of our songwriting group and headed home after sunset.

Cooler weather move in Friday night so this weekend has been autumnish (is that a word.) Rolling the window down on my truck, I crossed rural hills and hollows as I made my way home.

A doe leaped across the road in front of me at one point causing my heart to sputtered momentarily.

When as I drove up the hill near our house, I had to pull off the road to take in all the color. Sitting there a long while, I pulled out my camera and snapped a few frames knowing that it could only capture a fraction of what I saw, but it would have to do.

It was another lovely evening in Empire.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Change in plans

My writing Mojo has shifted. For the last nine years, I've written after 8 P.M. and often past 9. That was when my hands weren't busy. My mind had time to digest the day's events and lay down a thread of words, that hopefully made sense and if I was lucky, resonated with readers.

But the last few weeks when I sit to write, all the comes out is drivel, flapdoodle, and sometimes tripe. So I decided to change my schedule and write earlier. If the change in schedule doesn't help, I might try some shock therapy, or perhaps hallucinogenic drugs. I hear they can be quite helpful when you're in a rut.

Jilda and I haven't slowed down today. This morning after coffee, we headed to the grocery store to pick up some things.

We had to stop by the local produce store for a jar of honey and a few other items.

We love this little produce store because the guy handpicks all the stuff he sells.

Each morning he heads out in his truck and selects fresh produce from the farmer's market in Birmingham. Usually by 9 A.M. he's back and a short time later fresh produce is on the shelves.

His dad started the business years ago and the son worked in the business since he was in grade school. Some local businesses suffer when Walmart comes to small towns, but his attention to detail and service keeps people coming back.

Jilda's calling from the kitchen because dinner ready. I hope your Saturday has been as enjoyable as ours.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Slow news day

When I take pictures, I'm usually trying to capture something. A butterfly dancin' on daisies, or stealthy deer on the periphery of the garden munchin' on acorns or corn.

When I shot the picture below, I'm fairly certain I had a reason, but for the life of me, I don't recall why. Earlier in the week, I used a specific lens and film and snapped a number of frames.

Tomorrow I plan to do a little chainsaw work to clean up around the barn. There are a few trees that blew down last year that will make perfect fuel for the fire pit.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Moving gallery

How long has it been since you've been stopped by a moving train? With the hustle of traffic these days, it doesn't happen often.  Bypasses, overpasses, and tunnels have almost made waiting on trains a thing of the past.

But today after my meetings, I drove to the co-op for chicken feed. The co-op is located down by the railroad tracks. I could have dodged the train and drove several blocks to the viaduct, but instead I cut the engine, rolled the window down and watched the train rumble by.

The day was warm, but a breeze out of the west was refreshing. The Northfork-Southern engines passed the dinging crossing gates dragging a caterpillar of cars behind.

Tank cars were up close to the engine, but behind were boxcars. Almost every boxcar had word art sprayed on the sides.

It occurred to me that these boxcar painters were urban artists. Once their work is finished, it crawls across America to not only the big cities but also small towns.

As the train passed, I snapped a few pictures through the windshield of my truck. Leaning my chin on the steering wheel, I watched as the cars passed. Some of the artwork was so old, it faded to a shade of rust, and some of it was so fresh you could almost smell the acrylic.

I thought to myself that trains give the artists a silent voice. Their work may never make it to a museum, but they can rest assured that people from all across this great country has seen their work.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Angel wings

Each year  a patch of weeds grow at the edge of my garden. In years past, I cut them down. But last year my weedeater died at the end of summer which gave the weeds a chance to show me something remarkable.

In October when the season changed, they began flowering. One evening when the setting sun highlighted them from behind, they looked the wings of angels. This year I couldn't bring myself to cut them down.

This afternoon I was mowing the field and when I saw the clouds move away from the evening sun, I cut the motor and reached for my camera and shot this picture.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Let the games begin

Unlike Jilda, I didn't begin reading much fiction until much later in my life. But once I got started, I average a book every week or so.

When the BBC did the list of 100 books and estimated that most Americans had read six or fewer, I took the challenge. I'd read 28, but after posting the list here a few weeks ago, many of you had read more than I had. If you didn't get a chance to see the original list, click here.

Since then, I've read two more of the books on the list. Currently, I'm reading Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac which was published in 1958. I find his use of language and rhythm of his words fascinating.

I've come to understand that there are more great books out there than any of us will ever have time to read.

I'm curious. What's the best book you've ever read?

For everyone who comments between now and Friday with a favorite book, I'll put their name in a hat and get my lovely spouse to draw one out. The name she draws will win an autographed copy of my first book Remembering Big. International shipping is pricey, so I'll have to come up with an alternate gift for anyone living outside the U.S.

Let the games begin.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Grandparents Day was a few weeks ago and I spent time that day perusing Facebook to see all the pictures of grandparents. I posted my favorite pictures of ours. But I took time reflecting on the impact my grandparents had on my life. 

My grandfather on my daddy’s side was born in the fall of 1901. He raised his family during The Great Depression, and like so many of our grandparents, he was no stranger to hard times. His resume during those lean years would have been colorful. Each time I take a tool from my shed, I miss him.

In the late 1950s when my family moved back to Alabama from our short-term stint in Indiana, we lived in a camp house made from rough-cut pine.

Later we bought an unfinished Jim Walter house for $2995. My mama fretted that we’d never live to pay it off. We finished the inside work ourselves. 

When we moved out of the old camp house, my grandparents moved in. I couldn’t believe our good fortune of having them next door.

After they arrived, my grandmother Willie got a brindle Chihuahua named Chi-chi that followed every move she made, and Pap had a parakeet with aqua-colored feathers. I was amazed the first time I saw that little bird sit on the frame of Pap’s glasses and watch him eat breakfast. I’ve wished a thousand times I had taken pictures back then.

They lived in the old camp house while carpenters built their Jim Walter home. But Pap built a workshop out back, not far from the outhouse. In the late 1950s, there was still a demand for mule-drawn mining cars that resembled squatty wagons. 

Pap landed a job constructing the cars from rough lumber. He also made horseshoes for the mules that pulled those cars. He was an artist with hot steel and a hammer.

In summer, he started to work early before the sun made working with an open fire unbearable. You knew he was working long before you stepped outside. You could smell the sulfur from the burning coal feeding his fire pit and the steady ping, ping, pinging of his hammer as he shaped the steel shoes on his anvil.

Most days he wore Liberty overalls while he worked. In the front pouch, he carried a tin of Prince Albert tobacco and rolling papers. When swinging the hammer made his arm weary, he’d sit on his bench and roll a cigarette on his pants leg. 

Firing it up with his Zippo lighter, he would sit quietly thinking as if he were solving a complex problem in his mind. After each puff, the lazy smoke drifted off with the morning breeze.

He eked out a living doing odd jobs and when he died in 1970, he didn’t need a will because he didn’t own much to leave behind. But he did leave a family that adored him and a hole in our hearts that could never be filled.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Changes is available on You can contact him via email at

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Flag burning

The clouds cleared just after lunch today and the sun felt warm on my back as I did long neglected chores.

Soon I was pushing my long sleeves up above my elbows and fanning the tail of my shirt to disperse the heat building on my body.

After finishing, I sat on the lounge chairs for a long while with my eyes closed. A silent jet streaked across the sky to the south dragging the sound behind it. I wondered where someone would be going early on Sunday morning.

Jilda and I shoe'd up to take our morning walk when my niece Samantha and her son Jordan  (the kid) came over from next door to play in the garden.

Jordan is into challenges. Even when he doesn't want to walk, I can convince him by challenging him to a race.  We raced, power walked, hopped, skipped and jumped at imaginary finish lines.

Before long, I was close to my daily goal of 10,000 steps.

This evening I stepped outside to put water in the bird feeders for the deer that come in the night to drink.

When I turned to go in, I noticed the setting sun made the autumn flag look as if it were on fire.

This evening I'm bushed. I'm guessing it will be an early night.

Y'all have a great week.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

End of the day

The weatherman missed the boat again today. There was a 20% chance of rain, but it started around 10:30 a.m. and rained on and off all day. Some festival goers made a run for their cars. Others pulled out umbrellas and had fine in spite of the rain.

Even though it was messy, we saw a lot of people we hadn't seen in a long time.

Both Jilda and I were drenched to the bone. On the way home, I pulled over and snapped the picture below which seemed to sum up the weather.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Dreary Friday

It's been a dreary day today. No rain just threatening ash-grey clouds blocking the sunlight. I've been a little down today and I'm not sure why. I guess it's the normal ebb and flow of the spirit.

My dance card is fully punched first part of this weekend. I maintain the websites for my local high school (alumni) so I take pictures at most of the home games. I take several action shots, but few of them are very good. But I always take pictures of the band, cheerleaders, and the people in the crowd. People seem to enjoy these as much as any.

Then tomorrow, the Frog Festival  kicks off bright and early. I do the website for that too. We'll be there until about lunch taking pictures. 

The temps dropped here so tomorrow afternoon I plan to build a fire in the fire pit so that Jilda and I can kick back and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


I didn't plant okra this year, but this little plant volunteered to come up. It was doing so good until the deer discovered it and ate all the leaves. 

I'd written it off as you can tell by the grass growing around the base of it. But when I started for my walk this evening, I noticed a flower the color of butter off the edge of the garden.  When I stepped down to investigate, I saw an okra bloom and a few bottom leaves defiantly reaching for the sky.

Mother Nature is an interesting bird. I'm always fretting about what I can do to keep the plants in my care alive. But as it turns out, Mother Nature is way ahead of me. Most living things are programmed to survive.

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