Sunday, July 31, 2016


Sitting in the great room this evening sipping peppermint tea and reading the papers, I glanced out the
window. Under the feeders was a dole of doves. I had to look that term up, but it means a bunch of them.

They don't mind that the squirrels get in the feeders and scatter it on the ground, because unlike some picky birds that want their food in a feeder, doves prefer theirs on the ground or on split logs.

I know there are more colorful birds and ones with sweeter songs, but doves have soulful eyes.

Each time I watch them for a while, peace comes over me. This picture I shot last summer and I found it tonight as I looked for something to post.

Tomorrow is the first day of August. Autumn is about six weeks away. Ready or not, here it comes.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The new property we bought last summer is delightful. I've blogged about it in the past. It has dense forest and hundred-year-old oak trees. It has huckleberry bushes, persimmon trees, and hickory. Oddly enough, there aren't many pines on the property. There is a dogwood that is one of the most beautiful ones I've ever seen. 

Something else it has is a fig bush. The man that planted the fig bush divorced his wife several years ago. He loved that fig bush, but after he had moved out, his ex-wife had her yardman cut it to the ground. I'm not sure if she didn't like figs, or if it was a jab and her ex. 

But last summer as we walked the property before she sold it to us, I noticed the fig bush was making a comeback. This spring the bush sprang out of the ground and hadn't slowed down since.

Yesterday when I walked over to survey the progress, I noticed it was full of ripe figs. I looked for one that was fully mature. You can tell when they're ready because they are the color of a bruise.

I twisted a fat one off a branch and popped it into my mouth. The flavors exploded in my mouth. Standing there, I picked about a pint to eat with breakfast this morning.

I'll pick the rest over the coming days, and we'll preserve some, eat some, and leave a few for the critters. Did I mention that I LOVE figs?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Nothing on the calendar

Today felt almost like a Saturday. We had no agenda, nothing pressing that had to happen. So we sat in the living room and sipped coffee until the sun came up.

The temperature dropped dramatically over these last few days. And when we "shoe'd" up for our morning walk, it was still in the 70s.

The angle of light is changing, and I saw color in the sumac and buckeye bushes. I snapped a few pictures, but the light wasn't right so the colors were unremarkable.

We stopped at the back gate to survey the garden. It's been much too hot to do much garden work and it's showing.

 Standing there making a mental list of what needs to be done, Jilda tapped me on the shoulder and pointed.

A black swallowtail with bright orange spots was flitting and feeding on the mint blossoms. The blossoms actually look like pussy willow. Apparently, the swallowtail was enjoying the treat because as the wings waved in slow motion the quivered a little.

Usually, butterflies are shy and I find it hard to get close enough to shoot a picture without a zoom lens, but this baby was "in the zone." because I think I could have cupped my fingers and caught it. I snapped away within inches with the iPhone and it just quaked.

That set the tone for the day. Sometimes it's good to have a day with nothing on the calendar.

Butterfly on mint in sepia tone.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On the road

I spent most of the day one the road. An early-morning meeting took me to West Alabama and when I left, I had a coaching session near Birmingham.

Clouds moved in which gave a little reprieve from the heat. When I hit the Interstate after leaving Fayette, I rolled my window down and propped my elbow through the opening. I could smell rain before I saw it ahead so I rolled my window up and turned on my headlights. My wipers worked overtime but visibility dropped to a few car lengths.  I moved to the far-right lane, slowed down to 50 mph, and flipped on my flashers.

Then as quickly as it came up, it drifted off to the north leaving a steaming highway in its wake.

After the coaching session near Birmingham, I looked at my watch and it was time to go home.

By the time I got home, the rain had moved out leaving pleasant walking weather. I managed to get my steps in and give Ol' Hook, the new dog, a chance to stretch his legs and work on silent commands.

Tonight I'm weary so after this post and a cup of sleepytime tea, I'm calling it a day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Magical Day

This morning was magical. Normally Jilda has an early morning yoga class she teaches and I spend the time alone writing my newspaper column for the following Sunday. But today was different.

One of Jilda's friend lives near Muscle Shoals. She works with bands and musicians in the area. She
knows EVERYONE.  She sent Jilda a message on Facebook about an unadvertised event at Counts Brother's Music Store in Muscle Shoals. We decided to blow off our normal schedule and drive up.

If you lived through the 60s and 70s, Muscle Shoals is important to you whether you realize it or not.

Musicians from around the world came to this small town in north Alabama to record. Bob Dylan, Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, and Paul Simon to name a few.

The sound created by the musicians and producers in that area is woven into the soul of popular music recorded during that time.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones wrote the song Wild Horses while lying on the floor of the studio in Muscle Shoals.

This morning we arrived 30 minutes early to get a good seat because even though the event wasn't publicised, we knew word would spread. And it did. By 10:30 the place was packed.

The only two playing was Christine Olhman (the Bee Hive Queen from Saturday Night Live's band) and Kelvin Holly. Kelvin played with Little Richard, Neil Young, and many others.

The show was the two of them sitting on stools within arms distance of the audience. They played songs and told stories for almost two hours.

We've been buzzing all afternoon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Last night I dreamed it snowed. In the dream, I walked barefoot onto the deck. The snow squeaked and crunched under my feet as I walked to the edge to get a better look at the yard.

In the dream, it was early morning and the cardinals frenzied between hedge and huckleberry looking for a few bites before all food was hidden by the snow. The only time one can hear the silence is when it snows. It's almost like a distant whisper that you're not quite sure you heard.

Sometimes dreams are snatches of imagery like a film that's been cut and pasted back together randomly, but this dream had continuity and seemed to last for hours.

But through my sleepy eyelids, I could sense the morning light seeping around the blinds.  I didn't want to wake from the "snowdream."

After breakfast, I loaded the truck for a workshop at lunch. By the time the cooler was on the tailgate, my shirt was damp.

Clicking the seatbelt into the buckle, I leaned forward to look at the sky and said to no one in particular,  "What I wouldn't give for a little bit of snow right now."

Snow picture from a few years ago.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Be kind ~ My column from Sunday's paper

While reading blogs this past week, I came across a post that made me think. The graphic read: The Gene Pool Could Use a Little Chlorine. I howled.

She wrote this after learning about a project to move elephants in Africa because humans are encroaching on their habitat and killing them for their teeth. People can be so unkind. This fact came into focus at our house the past few weeks.

First, the hungry bulldog that I wrote about in last week’s column showed up. We learned that the dog was deaf and had other health issues. Owning two high-maintenance dogs is expensive, and we didn’t need another one. But we realized with health problems, the dog was probably unadoptable so he would be staying. We named him Hook.

Just as we were getting used to that, two more Bulldogs showed up the next day. These two were hungry, thirsty and full of parasites. What made these two different were youth and beauty.

We realized that no matter how cute these dogs were, there was no way we could afford them. We were at a loss at what to do. I dreaded taking them to a shelter that euthanizes animals.

Facebook troubles me at times, especially during the election years because it can bring out the worst in people. But sometimes I read things that make me smile and give me hope.

With this in mind, I decided to try Facebook to see if it could help me spread the word about these pups so that their story would end well.

I took a good picture of them looking lovingly into the camera as we were about to go for a walk and then posted the picture on Facebook along with a note about being disheartened that someone could be so unkind. Tossing these loving, loyal creatures out like pieces of garbage was beyond my understanding.

The words and picture must have resonated because the post was shared 84 times which gave it wings. Private messages began hitting my inbox with ideas on how to get the dogs to no-kill shelters.

Late that afternoon, I got a private message from a woman who works with Forgotten Tails Rescue of Alabama in Jasper. She said they had a foster home that would take the two young Bulldogs, and they felt there was a decent chance they could place them.

The next day I took them to a local vet where the dogs were vaccinated, tested for heartworms and treated for parasites. They were also neutered (sorry about that guys.)

When I went back later to make a donation to the shelter, the woman told me that neither dog had heartworms which was great news. She smiled and said they already had families that were interested in adopting them permanently.

Hearing those words made my eyes get misty, and I got a lump in my throat that made it difficult to talk. Kindness does that to me. I stood there breathing as I wrote the check and gained my composure. I made sure she knew how much we appreciated their help in finding the precious pups a permanent home.

If I were a geneticist, the first thing I would do is to tweak the kink in the DNA chain that makes people unkind. I think that would make a remarkable difference in the human race.

Anyone who would like to help spread kindness should consider donating to Forgotten Tails Rescue of Alabama. They have a Facebook page. Their website is

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We get our answer in July

The intermittent rain is keeping the garden alive, but the sweltering heat is a burden on the plants. After our early walk this morning, I grabbed an eight-quart basket and picked tomatoes, peppers, and patty-pan squash.

We've given away a lot of produce, and eaten fresh veggies every day for the past month. And that little plot is still producing. Soon we'll start preserving what we don't eat. One of my favorite winter meals is vegetable soup that we put up during harvest.

Sometimes during spring when our backs are aching after a long day of gardening we ask, "Why on earth are we doing this?" We get our answer in July.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Smoke on the water

I stopped by the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River yesterday afternoon just as the sun was sinking low. The turbines had at Smith Lake had been turned on to generate power to help keep our air conditioners on.

The water at the bottom of the lake is 52 degrees and when that cool water mixes with the warmer water, a mist rises that looks like smoke.

Heat and humidity together are perfect for the creation of thunderstorms. As I stood on the banks, the cool water acted like a natural air conditioner. Off to the north, I saw clouds hanging low and I knew it was time to get back into the truck and head for home because it would soon be unsafe to be standing out in the open.

I did stay long enough to get a photograph.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New book hits the rack

One of the goals I had for the year was to publish my fourth book of columns. The process
has been slow.

Remembering Big, published in 2008 was my first book and I was so anxious to have copies in my hand that I took a haphazard approach to editing. I sent pieces of the book to one guy in the newspaper business and had one other have a look. And when the book came out, I found tons of errors. The stories were from the heart and I thought they were all good, but  as I read the finished book, some of the errors jumped out and bit me like a "dreadful snake" (the title of an old bluegrass song.) 

The readers were kind and no one pointed them out to me, but then no one had to point them out.

That first book was a learning thing and each book since, I've had a lot of eyes on them and it shows in the finished product.

I'm working on the formatting so that it looks good on Kindle. It should be available on there soon.

I'm proud of Life Goes on. If you know anyone you think might enjoy one, have them get in on I will put these on my webpage soon so that people can buy an autographed copy from me.

It's available on Amazon here

Now on to the goal of solving world peace and finding the path to true happiness.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Who cares about a stinking heatwave?

It's 9 p.m. and part of my nightly routine is preparing the coffeemaker for morning duties by dumping todays grounds in the compost on the back deck.

When I stepped through the door, it felt as if I'd opened the door to our oven instead. Once back inside, when I looked at the Weather Channel app on my phone, I saw that we're under a heat advisory until 9 p.m. tomorrow night. It said between now and then the index would be just slightly less that 110 degrees at times...but let me get to the point.

Mother Nature can be a cruel taskmistress. The evidence is here in my chicken pen. Snowball, had the urge to fulfill her procreative duties during the hottest days of summer.

Little mama on the job - who cares about a stinking heatwave?
Three weeks ago, I couldn't find Snowball, our young hen, running around in the yard pecking beetles, ants, and worms. I looked around before looking inside the pen where they roost at night. She was on the nest.

I assumed she would lay and egg, launch off the nest cackling as if the world were ending and then get back to thinking about what's on every chicken's mind, "Why do we cross the road? And why do people care?"

But when I went back that night to close the gate to the pen after all the chicks returned to the roost, she was still on the nest. Bless your heart, I said softly.

This morning when I went out, pieces of eggshell were scattered near the front of the nest which means one of the little ones has hatched.

I'm not sure how many will make it through the heat, but I should know something in a day or so when she let's them climb out of the nest and peck around the yard.

Last batch only one survived. A varmint got them over the course of a week. I put out live traps, and before the varmint could get the last little one, he went for the sardines in the live trap instead. That possum now lives in another zipcode.

I hope you've have a great Friday. I plan to lay sorry a good bit tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Starting out well

We arose even earlier this morning because Jilda was teaching a 7 a.m. class to her colleagues.  After coffee, she headed out to work and I grabbed my laptop en route to the screened porch. I love writing out there early mornings.

A shower later yesterday afternoon cooled things off and seemed to make the foliage even more verdant.  The ceiling fan whispered overhead making the air feel cool on my bare arms.

The words flowed and I completed Sunday's column within half an hour. I jumped right on another story assignment that was due next week. I'd done the interviews and taken the pictures so I had to simply put it together. It too was finished quickly.

When Jilda got back home just after 8 a.m. I was feeling a little smug.

Neither of us had eaten so she whipped up a ham, egg, cheese, red bell pepper, and mushroom frittata. Yummy.

You could say my day started out well. I hope yours was good as well.
The sky the past Monday evening as we drove home from yoga.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I've got some "splainin" to do. When I look back over my blog, I realize it perhaps seems a bit out of sync. So here goes.

Last week a white bulldog showed up at our door. We knew he had health issues, and we learned he was deaf.  Sometimes we can place healthy dogs, but few people want the responsibility of a dog with issues. 

Writing my column for this past Sunday I decided to write about the bulldog and our decision to consider adopting him  

The next morning as we drank our coffee, I looked out my front window and there were two more young bulldogs looking in through the glass. I was so disheartened that people were dumping dogs in our neighborhood and I wrote the Throw Away blog entry. 

I whine about Facebook a lot, but it has its upside. I took posted the picture of the two young dogs along with a touching post that resonated. It was shared 84 times. 

Yesterday afternoon I got a private message from a woman in Jasper who works for a no-kill shelter. They are a small operation and they have foster families that take the dogs until they can be placed. The shelter told me to take them to one of the local vets.

This morning when I carried them in, they got their shots, meds, and both were scheduled to be neutered tomorrow. 

I'd planned to make a donation to the shelter, but when I took the dogs in, I forgot to put my checkbook in my pocket. So I went back just after lunch. One of the women who works there is one of the volunteer foster families and she told me that both pups tested negative for heart worms which was great news. She went on to say that they'd already found homes for both dogs. They will be with their new families by the end of the week.

Hook, the older dog that we're keeping goes in to the vet tomorrow to get a checkup and shots. He'll soon be missing some things he'd rather not lose but getting neutered is the price he pays. Hey, we're all making sacrifices here.

With all the bad news reverberating around the world these days, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that the world is coming apart at the seams, but then people show you that that kindness is still here, it just tends to get lost in all the noise.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Meet Hook

I’m afraid we have a new dog. As always, we didn’t go looking, but this past week when temps were toying with the high end of the thermometer with humidity that made it feel hotter than the Devil with a mouthful of habaneros, I looked out the window and saw a scrawny white bulldog looking in through the glass.

His tongue was dangling out one side of his mouth, and he was going around to the water
containers in the front yard looking for water. Jilda had her shoes on, so she quickly stepped outside and filled all the containers with cool water from the hose. The critter looked at her with thankful eyes.

We thought at first that he belonged to someone down the road, and perhaps he ran out of water at home. But he didn’t leave. He was so thin I could trace the outline of his ribs with my finger, so I poured a small scoop of dog food in a bowl and placed it under the water oak at the end of our walkway.

Later that evening, our great nephew Jordan walked over to howdy up with us. The dog, which is ghost white with a black patch over his right eye, ran to greet him as he walked up the hill. We sat down on the front steps and he began petting the bulldog. “He looks like a pirate,” Jordan observed. The dog laid his head in Jordan’s lap to facilitate the petting process. “What should we name him?” he asked as he petted.

I told him quickly that he wasn’t our dog. “What should we name him?” Jordan persisted. “We could call him Patch,” he suggested. I paused for a while before saying, “Why don’t we call him Hook?” “Yes. That’s perfect because he reminds me of Captain Hook,” he said as he petted.

I did some investigation, hoping to find the dog’s owner, but no one knew anything about him.

We discovered that Hook was deaf and I got a sinking feeling that he wasn’t a lost dog at all but an abandoned dog, or one that someone dumped at our house. After all, who wants a deaf bulldog that is full of fleas and has a touch of mange?

It’s a sad tale that’s told too often. Animal shelters have their hands full trying to place abandoned dogs. Often the critters are euthanized because no one steps forward to take ownership. It makes me sad to think someone would discard one of the most loving and loyal creatures on the planet as if it were a piece of garbage.

Jilda began feeding Hook, giving him medicine for heartworm, fleas and ticks. But we have two other dogs to consider. Neither of these purebred dogs is warming up to Hook, but he seems to understand that his future depends on finding his place in the pecking order.

I thought at first that with him being deaf, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with him, but he watches our every move and responds to hand signals. The other night he was barking at someone walking down the road in front of our house. When I stepped onto the front porch, I guess he sensed the movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked at me, and I pointed to the screen porch. He immediately ran back onto the porch and laid down.

The next step is to take Hook to the vet to see if he has any serious health issues, but it’s looking more and more like we’re getting a new critter. I guess you could say we’ve been Hook(ed.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lifestyle changes

In looking at pictures of me over the past few months, it's obvious my weight has been inching up. This morning during coffee, Jilda suggested that we do the introductory membership to Weight Watchers and try that for a while.

Jilda cooks every day and eating out at a restaurant is a treat for us, but when I started looking at the points of bread, ships, and Micky D's Mocha's I was astonished. It's easy to see where my calories are coming from. I really don't eat that much food, but I eat a lot of bread, crackers, chips, and nuts. All of them are OK but not in the quantities I'd been consuming.

So I started today being mindful of what I put in my mouth.

Tonight I feel a little snippy. I guess my body likes what it likes and lets me know when it's not getting it. I plan to try it for a month and see what happens. Y'all say a prayer for me that I don't blow a fuse :)

Have a great week.

Does this picture remind you of pita chips?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

It's a wrap

Today was a long one. We were on the set of a documentary that was being filmed in Florence, Alabama on a larger farm.

We had to be there fairly early so we left out just after coffee and the drive up was uneventful. We arrived and unloaded out gear. I parked the car on the back 40 to keep it out of the shots. There was
already over a hundred people there.

We thought we'd be playing acoustic with just Jilda and me, but as it turns out we had a crew of A-Team players from Muscle Shoals.

We ran through the song one time with the band so I wasn't sure how it would sound. But when the cameras started rolling we played our original song The Ride Never Ends and it sounded as if we had all been playing together for years. I love playing with pros.

It was a fun day, but I can tell you it will be an early night tonight. Anytime you focus that much energy into four minutes it's exhausting.

I hope your day has been fun too.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Throw Away

We live in a throw-a-way society. Planned obsolescence. Get it use it for a while and toss it. We can get another one at the big-box store and the new one will probably cheaper than the one we tossed. Computers, phones,  microwaves, and the list goes on.

I think growing up in a time of abundance, we tire of things when the shine wears off. That hasn't always been the case. I've written about this before, but Jilda's and my parents grew up during the Great Depression where there weren't always sure where the next meal would come from. It would not have occurred to them to toss something until it was completely "used up." Even things that were used for one purpose, were often pressed into service for something else. I have never known my mother to toss out a quart jar. Never. Jilda's mother washed aluminum pie plates and stored them in her pantry. They would have had a hard time coping this day and time.

The tossing doesn't stop with electronics, and other disposable goods. Unfortunately, people also toss animals when they are no longer "cute."

This past week, a mix-breed bulldog showed up at our doorsteps. He was painfully thin and he obviously had health issues. We checked around with neighbors, but no one has lost a dog. We
quickly discovered that the dog was also deaf. My heard sank because that pretty much ruled out having someone adopt him because no one wants a "defective" dog. My column in this coming Sunday's paper is about this one...but that's not all.

Yesterday, two more dogs showed up. These were also bulldogs, but they are much younger. They are probably less than a year old. I'm guessing someone cleaned house. They took animals they no longer wanted and tossed them.

We plan to adopt the older dog that's deaf, but we hope we can place the two younger dogs. We put a note out on Facebook with the picture below, but we haven't had any takers.

When we walked this evening these two young dogs joined us. They are delightful critters. And this evening when I sat down on the front steps for a few minutes the dogs ran over to keep me company. They are starved for love.

We'll have to make the hard decision next week if we haven't found them a home. Even thinking about taking them to the local shelter breaks my heart because the minute you take them in, the clock starts ticking. If they aren't adopted, they are euthanized.

I'm not sure how someone could toss the most loving, and loyal creatures on earth.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Passion butterfly

I shot this picture of a Gulf fritillary a while back and ran across it tonight as I was searching for a picture to post. It's sometimes called a Passion butterfly. I can see why.

Getting decent pictures of butterflies are sometimes difficult unless you have a telephoto lens. But then sometimes they will lite on your finger.

I got close enough to this one to shoot this picture with my phone.

I'm making this post short tonight because a line of thunderstorms are a few miles to the west and I can hear thunder rolling as if there was a bowling alley in the attic. Hopefully they will drops some rain to soak the garden and move on to the east. But I wanted to post now in case the power goes out.

Y'all have a great Friday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I won't be celebrating National Nude Day

Tomorrow is one of those weird holidays that I won't be celebrating. July 14th is National Nude Day. The last time I looked in a full-length mirror after a shower, I saw nothing to celebrate. 

In the band Jilda and I used to play with, our bandmate did the song written by Sheb Wolley entitled, "I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore."  

I wasn't wild about doing cover songs mainly novelty cover songs, but after we had played this song in a few shows, this one took on a life of its own.

Back when I was a kid, I often shed my shorts on hot summer days and hit the icy waters of Horse Creek which ran nearby my house.  But there weren't any girls around then. 

I'm sure if there were, they would have been impressed by my manly physique. In truth, 

I was skinnier than one of those models in Vogue Magazine that looks as if they are strung out on heroin...but I digress.

The words to the old song we used to do are hitting home these days, and that's why I won't be celebrating National Nude Day.

Below are the lyrics of the song written by Sheb Wooley / Dick Feller.

I stepped outta the shower and I gotta good look at myself
Pot belly, bald head, man, I thought I was somebody else
I caught my reflection in the mirror on the back of my bathroom door
I just don't look good naked anymore

So, I'm goin' upstairs and turn the bedroom mirror to the wall
I hung it there when I was trim and tall
I'd stand there and smile, and strut and flex until my arms got sore
But I just don't look good naked anymore

Well, I used to go out with the girls
I loved them one and all
Now they don't get very close to me
They're afraid that I might fall

Well, I went to the Doctor for my annual medical exam
Stood there in the buff, suddenly he said "MAN"
I said "What is it Doc, some fatal disease, I just gotta know the
He said "No, you just don't look good naked anymore

Well, me and my wife had a dance routine
Everybody said it was unique
Now it's only when we're back to back
That we're dancing cheek to cheek

Well, I went to a nudie beech to have some seaside fun
Stretched out in my birthday suit, soakin' up the sun
Somebody yelled, "Hey, there's an old white whale washed up on the
I just don't look good naked anymore

Yeah, my arches fell, my chest went to hell
And my butt's a-draggin' the floor
An' I just don't look good naked anymore
No, I just don't look good naked anymore

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer storms

This afternoon as I was sitting at the table writing my column for Sunday, I noticed out the window that the wind had begun to blow and I could almost feel the pressure changing.

The next thing I knew, I had a 100-pound collie lying under the table on my foot. I leaned down almost touching my chin to the keyboard and scratched him reassuringly behind the ear. "It's OK boy, that storms not going to get you."  He looked up with eyes that said, "You don't know that for sure." 

A few minutes later I heard thunder slam and the lights blinked out. In the office, I could hear the UPS on my computer beeping like and home alarm about to call the PoPo. "SHUT IT DOWN NOW, BEFORE YOU LOSE YOUR DATA!"  it seemed to be screaming.

Apparently, power company's switches did their thing and a moment later the power came back on.

Just then a wind gust slammed against the side of the house and blew several of our citrus trees over on the back deck, but just as quickly it was off knocking someone else's plants over.  

That's what summer storms do. They come in, menace your pets, knock over your plants, water your garden and then skip off to the east like a mischevious child.

I had to reboot my modem and WiFi router to get a signal for this update. 

The upside is, it gave me a topic for tonight's post.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Enjoyment comes from a little rain

These past few weeks the soil in our garden looked as if it had been kiln dried. I was afraid it would soon wither and die, but the weatherman promised we’d get rain, and this time he got it right. 

Caillou (our collie) heard the storm coming early this morning and came to the edge of the bed to nuzzle my hand.

He can hear thunder from miles away, long before it’s audible to humans. He’s not a fan of
bad clouds and this morning he seemed to be saying, “Could you make this stop please so we can get some sleep?”

When I looked over at the glowing green numbers on the nightstand clock, I saw that it was almost time to get the coffee started, so I rolled out of bed. Stumbling into the kitchen, I punched the brew button on the coffee pot before stepping to the garden door. In the distance, lightning strobed in the west.

As I stood there, the wind made the citrus tree limbs dance on our deck. And then the rain began. It was slow at first but after a few moments, the rain ticking on the metal roof sounded like someone typing a letter on a manual typewriter. I love that sound.

The sky remained overcast most of the morning and just before lunch, another line swept through the area. I stepped over to my office window and watched rain spattering on the brick courtyard. 

One of the instructors slid open an umbrella for the short walk between buildings. From my vantage point, it looked like a giant mushroom bobbing in the rain.

Sometimes when it rains for long periods of time, I get restless, and the walls seem to close in on me, but during times with long dry spells, I welcome the summer showers.

This evening after work when I walked out back, I noticed that several tomato cages had blown over. Experience has taught me not to walk on the wet garden soil in good shoes, so I stepped back inside and tugged on my work boots.

Back outside, I picked up several stakes used to support the top-heavy tomato cages when they are laden with fruit. 

About halfway into the garden, a smile crept over my face when I mired up ankle deep in the muddy soil. My expression would have been much different had I been wearing my good shoes.

Lifting the plants gently, I drove the stakes through the rings of the wire cages with an all-purpose garden brick. Squishing back a few steps, I stood admiring my handiwork. 

A hummingbird zipped up so close that I could have reached out and touched it. It seemed to be inspecting my work before heading over to the edge to sip nectar from the flowers planted around the border of our garden.

I finished up and used the hosepipe to spray the mud from my boots. Before going inside, I quietly sat for a long while on our garden bench, taking it all in. 

It’s amazing how much enjoyment comes from a little rain.


You may have recognized bits and pieces of this column from a post from last week. That happens sometimes. When I get an idea on my blog that feels right, I'll turn it into a column which is what happened here. I hope you don't mind. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fun Sunday

Jilda and I have been walking early to beat the heat these last few weeks. As we made ready this morning, the dogs were yipping and wrestling and vying for position to see which one could get out the door first.

Jilda said I need to throw something in the oven before we set out, so I took the dogs and waited outside for a few moments.

Soon she followed and we had a nice contemplative walk. Most of our path meanders through a canopy of oak, hickory, and much shorter shrubs. Every so often, I have to take the pruners and clip the limbs back to keep them from reclaiming their space. And, I always carry a walking stick this time of year because of a seasonal hazard. It seems that spiders love to weave webs across the open space of the path. Apparently moths, bees, and other flying insects use the path in the evenings and at night. 

There's nothing quite like being in a zen walking state thinking about life and your higher purpose...and then walking face-first into a spider web. There were times when I'd get a spider as big as a quail (or so it seemed) on my head. Talk about speaking in tongues.

So, now I use a walking stick and I constantly wave it in front of me to knock down web BEFORE they are in my face.

Today was uneventful, and afterward when we walked inside it smelled like heaven. What Jilda had popped into the oven while we walked was her world famous pound cake. 

When she flipped it out of the bundt cake pan, I snapped a picture. She sliced a slither for each of us to eat while it was piping hot. Yum!

We enjoyed fresh vegetables from our garden for breakfast and for dinner. There is no better time for truly fresh veggies.  

I hope your Sunday was as good as ours.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


The garlic we planted on the edge of the yard has been there for years. We share pieces of the bulbs with friends and folk who love cooking with garlic. There's nothing quite like garlic from your garden.

It's easy to grow. Just dig down a few inches, drop a few pods in the hole and try not to run over it with the lawnmower.

 This week as we walked, I noticed garlic blossoms out of the corner of my eye. They look like dandelions on steroids.

We shared some of the garlic with friends but kept a few pods for ourselves. Having them in the pantry is like money in the bank.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Old Maids don't mind

It's been brutally hot today. The temp combined with the humidity pushed the "feels like" index to 104 degrees at 3 p.m.

Needless to say, I didn't get my steps in today. I did walk down to the garden spray a little water on some of the thirsty  squash and tomatoes.

I snapped another picture of the old maids that border the garden on the south side. They don't seem to mind the heat. The jalapenos seem to like it steamy as well.

Not much to say tonight. The weatherman promises that it will cool down next week to the low 90s. I hope he's right.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The cycle continues

I waited later to walk this evening. The shadows were growing longer, but the wind, which had blown all day, apparently got tired and moved off to the east.

Even under the shade of the giant oak and hickory, there was no relief from the heat pressing down on my skin. I'm glad I suited up in old work shorts and a tee shirt because a few minutes after I started walking I was drenched (probably too much information) but I walked on.

Down behind the barn, I came upon a heart-shaped leaf that had fallen from a sumac bush. It's one of those bushes that likes to get a jump on the seasons it leafs out early in spring, but apparently, it thinks autumn is coming soon.

It wasn't that long ago that I talked about the changing seasons and the arrival of spring. But if sumac is a harbinger of a change, that  means autumn is on the way.

The cycle continues.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Watching the sky

Jilda has an early class on Wednesday so we were up at 5 a.m. I punched the brew button and went into the office to get my phone and iPad so that I could check my email while waiting for the java to perk.

Just then I got a notification on my phone saying the International Space Station would be passing nearby at 5:18.

The deck was still a little wet from the rain yesterday evening, but I sat on the steps anyhow.
I watched the space station approaching on the ISS app on my phone. But a thin layer of clouds was just thick enough to obscure the view. Oh well, it will be in range for the next several day. 

I did manage to get a good picture of the morning clouds a while later. I hope your Wednesday has been a good one.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The rain came

The rain came today. Our garden was dry down deep and I feared our it would suffer.  But the weatherman promised we'd get some wet stuff. 

Caillou heard it coming early this morning and came to the edge of my bed to nuzzle my hand.

He can hear thunder from miles away, long before it's audible to humans. He's not a fan of thunder and this morning he seemed to be saying, "Could you make this stop please so we  can sleep?"

Blazing star showing its appreciation for the rain
It was almost time to get up and make coffee, so I rolled out of bed. Stumbling into the kitchen, I punched the brew button on the Kitchen Aid before stepping to the garden door. Off in the distance, I could see shards of lightening to the west. 

As I stood there, the wind made the citrus tree limbs dance on our back deck. And then the rain began...slowly at first but then after a few moments, the rain ticking on the metal roof sounded like someone typing a letter on a manual typewriter. It was like music to my ears.

It rained on and off throughout the day. This evening when I walked to the garden, several of the tomato cages had blown over. Lifting them gently, I drove support sticks through the cages to help keep them standing. 

You could almost hear the plants rejoicing.

Monday, July 04, 2016

I hope your 4th was full of ice cream

The deadline for the column this week slipped upon me like a sneeze. I capture column ideas on my iPhone’s notepad app, but this week none of them seemed to resonate. Last night after dinner as Jilda caught up on Facebook birthdays she said, “Why don’t we have a root beer float? It will keep your brain from overheating while you fret about your column.”  Between the slurps of our frothy treat, she said, “You could write about ice cream.” With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I realized it was a perfect idea.

I loved the Fourth of July as a kid. What could be more fun than firecracker battles and bottle rocket wars? It’s a wonder someone didn’t lose an eye or a finger. But the other thing I loved about the holiday was the homemade ice cream. 

We spent all holidays with my mother’s family. Easter at Aunt Edra Mae’s, Christmas Day at my Grandmother Ferguson’s, and the Fourth of July at Aunt Edith’s.

The food was a big part of the celebrating. Tables were laden with fresh corn, green beans, Cole slaw, and potato salad along with just about any meat we could imagine. 

Every year, my aunts tried to outdo each other on desserts. Pineapple upside down cake, banana pudding, coconut and red velvet cake with a few pecan pies thrown in for good measure. 

But my favorite dessert was the homemade ice cream. While the pots and pans rattled in the kitchen, the kids assembled on the front porch for ice cream duty. 

Across the edge of the porch was a squad of ice cream freezers assembled like a line of multicolored maple soldiers. Time and use had muted their finishes to the colors of a fading rainbow.

The menfolk hauled tubs of ice onto the porch and packed the freezers full of ice and sprinkled tiny nuggets of rock salt across the top. That’s when the cranking commenced.

One kid would sit on the freezer to stabilize it while the other one turned. They switched when one's arm got tired, or the other one’s rear end got cold. When the cranking started, the twirling bucket in the ice cracked and popped like car wheels on a gravel road.

As the ice cream hardened in the bucket, cranking became tiresome, and the kids switched from sitting to cranking more frequently, but that was good because we knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d be enjoying the fruits of our labor.

The table food was good on the Fourth of July, but I always saved room to sample all the different flavors of ice cream. Inevitably you’d see a kid slap himself in the eye with the palm of his hand and scream, “BRAIN FREEZE.” But a momentary excruciating headache was a small price to pay for something that good. 

Several years ago, Jilda and I bought an electric ice cream maker. It feels a little like cheating when she whips up a batch of vanilla ice cream, and all I have to do is plug it up. I guess there are a few cases when cheaters do win.

Happy Fourth of July.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Zen and the art of picking blueberries

I got out before the birds this morning to pick blueberries while the temps were still bearable. The crop of blue gold has been abundant this year. This is not always the case because the fickle weather can take its toll on the harvest, so we've picked diligently and our freezer is full of them.

There's an art to picking blueberries. Standing in front of a head-high bush, I pick all the berries on one limb before moving to another. But the instant you move to another vantage point, you see dozens hiding behind limbs and leaves.

By the time you make it around a bush, you feel as if some ripened during your journey. It used to frustrate me, but these days I consider it a form of meditation. Pick a while and then squat to get a different perspective. It's almost therapeutic. Perhaps I should write a book entitled Zen and the art of picking blueberries.

We now have a dozen bushes but I plan to plant another dozen this fall. We plan to barter with our local produce market. After we've filled our freezer, we'll let the stand sell our blueberries for credits toward buying cantaloupe and watermelon.

Y'all have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Delightful Gift Card

I got a note in the mail yesterday from our friend Denise. We hadn't seen her in years and we had a delightful time catching up last weekend when she came to visit us from Colorado. Jilda pulled out her A-List Recipes and we ate incredible meals.

She is an old school letter writer. She still writes letters and sends them through U.S. mail. How long has it been since you've gotten a letter from a friend?

We've become so used to Facebook messages and email that the art of letter writing is becoming a lost art.

While Denise was here, she wanted to learn more about blogging. I taught her how to access Blogger and how to post pictures, put a few widgets on her blog, and she was set. She posted twice before she left here.

When we picked her up at the airport the first day, I stopped by Starbucks and got a hot coffee drink. Apparently like all good writers, she doesn't miss a thing because the note I got from her yesterday had a gift card for Starbucks. 

Today we had to drive to Birmingham to pick up Jilda's contacts and on the way home we swung through Starbucks and bought a couple coffee drinks. Jilda snapped some pictures for my blog tonight. Thanks, Denise.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Fourth of July Weekend Begins

We have flags for every season, and for special holidays. Pumpkins for autumn, hummingbirds for
Spring, snowmen for winter, and several others. We have an American Flag for Veteran's Day and the Fourth of July.

We put our flag out this morning in preparation for the Fourth of July. The shafts of sunlight were poking through the canopy as I unrolled the Colors.

Before I served in the military, I didn't give much thought to the flag. Of course, I knew the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. I stood at the stadium, removed my hat, and held my hand over my heart when the band played the national anthem, but I never felt a connection until much later when I began to see soldiers returning from the war in Viet Nam in coffins draped with American Flags.

It hit me then. This red, white, and blue flag was more than strips of cloth and thread. It was a symbol of something much bigger than I had imagined.

Sitting here in 2016 in my pajamas typing at my computer, it's easy to forget the sacrifice our forefathers made so that we could have a better life. But I read 1776 by David McCullough a few years ago and discovered that it's a miracle we have a flag of our own to hang on holidays.

Happy Fourth of July weekend.

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