Tuesday, February 28, 2017

And that's the way it was

I had meetings today near the edge of Alabama. On the way there, it rained hard. Easing over to the right lane of the Interstate, I punched the emergency flashers button and slowed far below the speed limit. Even with rain falling in sheets, cars passed going so fast that it rocked my truck. I wished them luck as I puttered on in the "slow lane."

As my wipers slung gallons of water from the windshield, I noticed a little strip of rubber chasing the wiper as if it couldn't keep up. It got longer and longer. Experience taught me that the rubber was about to self-destruct leaving a wiper that was metal to glass. This would scratch the windshield and that would be expensive to repair. I slowed even more.

As I moved to the west, the rain slacked and I slowed the intermittent wipers to preserve rubber. I made it to my meeting without incident, but I put a reminder on my phone to stop at the auto parts store on the way home and get new blades.

Jilda sent me a text as she headed to work saying our power was off. Calling the power company to report the issue, they said they were aware and working on the problem. When I got home at dusk the power was still off.

I went outside to close the chicken pen gate for the night and on the way back inside, I looked to the west and saw some incredible color in the distance. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture not knowing if would be usable.

As I walked inside, the lights came on. Emailing the picture to myself, I looked at it on my desktop computer and it didn't look too bad.

And that's the way it was in Empire, on February 28, 2017.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Not a fan of February ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I’d felt a little sad and out of sorts for most of this past Monday without knowing why. Even though February is the shortest month of the year, it seems twice as long as May. The short days seem dark and drab. That evening as I finished my blog post, the phone in my pocket buzzed. It had taken a moment before I gave it my full attention. It wasn’t a call, but a notification reminding me my mom died on February 20, 2012. It was the fifth anniversary of her death. The reminder was illuminating. It was another reason that I’m no fan of February.
I have a million mom stories, and I’ve told many of them in this column. She could be ill-tempered at
times, but other times she had the “Patience of a Saint.” She loved kids and old people but had little sympathy for the slothful.
After my dad died in 1986, my mom landed a job as a clerk at a store in Sumiton. Later, she worked for a young family with a child. She cooked, did light housekeeping, and helped raise their young daughter.
She also volunteered at the Mission of Hope in Dora. She took donated clothes home to wash and iron because she wanted families in need to have clean, fresh clothes even if they were used.
One of the things she loved most was cooking. Sunday dinners were always an adventure. Along with the kids and grandkids, she often invited members of our extended family, long-lost friends, and people we’d never seen before. Nothing brings people together like good ‘ol home cooking. That was one of her gifts to the community.
My mom lived alone for many years cutting her own grass with a push mower, and she also did all the routine maintenance around the house.
When her health began failing, she moved in with my sister. She always harbored hope that she would get to move back home. That never happened. Reaching a point that our family could no longer provide the care she needed, we moved her into a nursing home. She was afraid we’d forget her, but we visited her almost every day.
Toward the end, the decline was more evident. To brace for the inevitable, I told myself that “one day when I come, she will not be here.” The idea was to prepare for the end mentally. I didn’t realize that it was the beginning.
You are never ready for losing a parent. My mom suffered at the end of her life, and when she took her last breath, she opened her eyes briefly and looked around. It was almost as if she was making sure we were there. There is no way of knowing if she understood that most of her family and friends who adored her were there.
At first, I felt something that I thought was relief, and maybe it was. But after the funeral flowers dried, there were waves of sadness that even after five years have not ebbed.
This past week the mother of one of my friends died. As he told me about his mom, I realized that he wouldn’t be a fan of February either.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leaf duty

Seeing the ringneck snake yesterday sent a small wave of concern over Jilda. It's not ringnecks that she was worried about, but copperheads and rattlesnakes.

I tend to let the leave stay in the yard over winter because the rotting leaves make the soil more fertile.  But when the sun warms the earth in late winter and early spring, the leaves make a perfect hiding place for the reptiles we'd rather not have on our doorsteps.

This morning after coffee and our walk, I fetched the wheelbarrow and the rake from the shed. It took almost two hours, but the leaves were relocated to the side yard. We'll use some for mulching the garden and what remains, we'll burn them on a windless day.

I didn't really see anything remarkable to photograph today so I had to go back through the archives. I came across a photo of the flag at a dairy bar next to the Black Warrior River.

It's been a beautiful weekend. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Slow day in Empire

Walking this morning, I could see the oak and hickory had hints of green on the tips. Yesterday as we drove to the grocery store, we say that the Bradford Pear and tulip trees were in full bloom.  

A cold front pushed a thin line of thunderstorms through after midnight, but it only lasted a few minutes.  This morning it was much cooler. But the day was still beautiful. 

The end of our walking lap takes us a short distance up the road in front of our house. On the first lap, I noticed a tiny ringneck snake lying dead in the road. Someone ran over it. A lot of people think the only good snake is a dead snake, but these little guys are harmless. I've played with them all my life.

I used my walking stick to rake it to the side and buried it with the toe of my walking shoe.

Down behind the barn, I paused long enough to snap a picture of some red berries on a Nandina bush.

It's been a beautiful weekend so far. I hope it's been kind to you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday happenings

It felt like early May here today. The sky was a shade of blue unseen here in summer. When the humidity begins to rise, it lifts a blanket of haze which can mute the blue making the sky look like a faded watercolor.

We ran errands early. At the big-box store, we picked up some flowers for the graves of my parents and brothers.

As Jilda fixed the flowers, I stood looking at the sky. Old cemeteries can be beautiful when the seasons begin to change. We stood for a while before loading up and heading home.

This afternoon, I had a guy come and give me an estimate to clear underbrush on our property. As I sat in the yard waiting for him to find our house with his GPS, I sat on the stone bench.  It didn't take long to realize I needed a hat or my head would blister.

When he arrived, we walked the property and I pointed out the work I needed to be done. We agreed on a price, and as we walked back to toward the back gate, he saw the blueberries blooming. At first, he thought they were azaleas.   When I told him they were blueberries, he stepped over to have a closer look.

He has fruit trees and grapes as well. He was interested in the yield. I could tell he was a fit for what we work we needed.

In a few weeks, he'll show up with his crew and equipment. When then leave, I should be able to keep the place kempt with the tractor and bush hog. I'm excited.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sunset Palms

I know that when I said a while back that I would not post any more of the pictures from our beach get-a-way last month, it may have left you with the impression that I wasn't going to post any more pictures from our beach get-a-way.  But you would have been wrong because I sometimes lie. Well, to put some polish on it, my late friend John Elliot put it this way when describing another friend: "O.C. don't lie, he just remembers big." Skip replied, "It's true. I never lie, but I refuse to let the facts get in the way of a good story."

At any rate, I had nothing remarkable about which to write (is that shoddy grammar?) so I surfed for pictures (no pun intended.)

When I came across the picture of the palms at sunset, the colors spoke to me so I'm posting it.

I'll do better next time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Humpday fun

One of the things missing when Jilda and I perform is getting decent pictures. While reading one of the songwriter's discussion groups, one of the participants suggested getting a selfie stick so that you could at least shoot a posed picture at each of the venues you play.

After thinking about this for a while, I ordered one from Amazon. It came today and after a few minutes assembly, I snapped a picture of my great nephew Jordan and me. I think it will work fine.

Today was a short day at school and rather than Jordan hanging around his Nana's office all afternoon, we swung by and boosted him from school.  He was thrilled and we had a great time. The temperature was almost 80 degrees F today and we spent most of the time outside.

We played toss the tree limb with Ol' Hook. The bulldog has chewed up the toys we've bought him, but I had a short stick of firewood about as round as the calf of my leg that we use as a fetch toy.  It's too heavy to toss far, but carrying it around seems effortless for Hook.

I hope your Wednesday has been a good one for you too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Five years later

Last night after I posted, a reminder popped up on my phone reminding me that my mom died on February 20, 2012. Last night was the fifth anniversary of her death.

I'd felt a little off kilter for most of the day without knowing why.  The reminder was enlightening.

My mom had been going down for some time. Telling myself that "one day she would not be here," seemed at the time, as if I were preparing myself for the end... but it wasn't. It was the beginning.

You are never ready for losing a parent. My mom suffered toward the end of her life and when she took her last breath, most of the family and people who adored her were there. 

At first, I felt something that I thought was relief, and maybe it was.   But after the funeral flowers dried there were waves of sadness that even after five years have not ebbed. 

This much I know: if your folks are still alive, don't miss an opportunity to tell them how much them what they mean to you.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Toilet trouble ~ my column from Sunday's paper

This much I know for sure: Home ownership is NOT FOR WIMPS!

I’ve known this for ages, but I was reminded last weekend when I walked into my bathroom. There was an unpleasant smell. No, that’s an understatement. My bathroom smelled like one I encountered in Panama in the summer of 1972. It was in a waterfront tavern where drunken sailors from around the country came to tank up before setting back out to sea. The bathroom should have been condemned. But I digress.

In hindsight, I was naive to think it was something as simple as a leaking commode. I noticed a crack in it a while back and when I showed it to my nephew Haven, who is a plumber. He had several quips that are unsuited for a family newspaper. But after close inspection, he felt it was some kind of factory defect that we hadn’t noticed when we installed it last year. “Keep an eye on it, and if it leaks, we’ll replace it,” he advised.

When I called him the week before last after I discovered the stinky leak, he stopped by to check it out. Again, he had several “clever” remarks. I thought to myself, “He missed his calling. He should have been a comedian.” It was hard for me to smile much because the leak oozed under the vinyl tile which complicated the problem. The foul-smelling flooring would have to come up.

He pulled out the commode, and I headed to the big-box store for a new one along with the other things I’d need to complete the repairs.

The plan took shape — all I needed to do was rip out the flooring, fan dry the bathroom, scrub the area with an industrial strength cleaner, and allow it to dry. After that, I’d put down new flooring, and set the new fixture. I thought we’d be back to normal by Sunday night…but I thought wrong.

Sunday evening the subfloor was still damp, especially against the back wall. Moisture also seemed to be seeping out from under the shower stall. We began formulating “Plan B.” I scratched all the caulk from the seams of my walk-in shower.

After cleaning the seams with alcohol, I crawled around the bottom of the shower like a salamander squirting new caulk into cracks. The sealant smelled like the airplane glue we used to assemble model cars when I was a kid. After a few minutes of this, I got a buzz. A moment later I began seeing spiders and goats out of the corner of my eyes. “I need some fresh air,” I thought. Finishing the job took several other short sessions.

When this job was complete, I was satisfied the problem was resolved. Strike two.

The next morning there was more water in the corner.

I called the comedian and told him what I found. When he ran back by, he grinned as he said, “Looks like you got another leak.” I wanted to slap his jaws.

We pulled the fridge away from the wall and cut a hole in the sheetrock between the kitchen and bathroom. About halfway up where the pipes threaded through support studs, a tiny pinhole sprayed a little stream of water. Less than 10 minutes later the pipe was repaired, but then I had to start the long process of drying out everything and putting things back together. It would take a while.

Even though I cussed like a sailor for most of the afternoon, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. By next weekend, I should have my bathroom back in order.

Tonight I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I’m going to take a hot bath, and there’s about a 98 percent chance I’ll have a glass of wine sitting on the rim of the tub.

No, home ownership is not for wimps, and I’ve learned that a sense of humor is an asset.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ghost Ships

This morning was too warm for February. We drank coffee and checked email while we waited for the carrier to drop the newspaper in our box.

I think we are the only ones on our road that takes the Birmingham News, so I think we are the last drop she makes before heading home to her family.

When I opened the door, the dogs almost knocked me down to chase a nearby squirrel from the birdfeeders. It was foggy outside.

Halfway down to the paper box, I noticed a spider web in the huckleberry bush by the path. The morning dew had collected on the fragile threads of the web. It looked like a tiny ghost ship sailing across the foliage. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a few frames.

Further down the path, I noticed many more ghost ships in the trees and shrubs all around me. I think we were under some kind of attack. I've been edgy all day.

Hope Sunday hasn't been as spooky as ours :) .  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A good morning

The place where Jilda works is beautiful. The facility blends into a woodsy setting and the lodges are constructed so that they fit in.

A few weeks ago we were heading up north on business and to make our appointment on time, we needed to head out after her early class on Wednesday morning.

Rather than sit in the parking lot and wait, I decided to go somewhere and have coffee.  On the way out the drive, I noticed the sunrise to the east. Pulling over to the side, I stepped out and took the morning scape.  The light on a pond just before the sun peeped over the horizon was incredible. You could see mist hovering over the surface and up in the sky, was the quarter moon.

I settled in at a McDonalds, sipped coffee, and wrote my column.  That sunrise in concert with a new writing venue, allowed the words to flow and in less that an hour I clicked the laptop closed and headed back to fetch Jilda. All in all, it was a good morning.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Be here now

Today, I was on a mission.  The bathroom leak was fixed, the floor was dry, I had the full day with no appointments on my calendar. My bathroom would be back to normal very soon.

Before I began slinging tile glue, I decided to place the tile on the floor to ensure I'd calculated right. It took only a few minutes to confirm, I was a few tiles short a bathroom floor.

As I stood there cussin' under my breath, the old saying flitted across my mind: "There are three kinds of people in this world. Those that can count, and those who can't." It only took a moment to figure out which category I fell into.

I kissed the missus and a moment later I was headed to the hardware store to buy more tile.

Collecting more than enough tiles to complete the job, I headed home. My mind was calculating angles, and trimming tile when I came to a stop sign not far from my house.

Standing there was a beautiful bare tree. The road sign and power wires were distracting, but that tree stood tall against a winter sky. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture through the windshield.

It was a little reminder that it's always better to "be here now."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Late post

We just rolled in from a gig we played south of here. We played at a museum for an art exhibit. The artist was on hand to discuss his work. It was a wine and cheese affair and by the end of our set, it was boisterous in the next room.

People listen while they browsed and many of them stopped by to chat between songs.

I love art groups. They are always kind and engaging. They are our peeps.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Don't be fooled

On our morning walk, I glanced over at the blueberries. "Oh no," I thought. "Don't be fooled by the sunshine on your faces little blueberries, learn from the persimmon and the kudzu. Be smart. Wait."

But no. The blueberries observe the buttercups, babies breath, and the yellow bells. They rush into bloom thinking – I'm late. I'm late. Sitting on the backyard bench with my face turned to the morning sun it's easy to understand how the blueberries could be fooled.

Alas, we have not seen the last of the cold weather this winter. I'm hoping the blueberries can survive.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day - Part II

My wish for you is that you have ice cream every day with your sweetheart.
Happy Valentines Day

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

On Feb. 14, Jilda and I celebrate our 43rd Valentine’s Day as a married couple. There were also several years before we tied the knot, but suffice it to say we’ve eaten a few boxes of chocolates together.

In the early years, I was broker than the Ten Commandments, so I had to be creative on Valentine’s Day. It was hard to go wrong with cards and candy so opting for those choices was natural for me.

One of the most memorable experiences was our first Valentine’s Day in 1969. We went to
Vulcan Park in Birmingham. Jilda wore a fitted dress so short it would have made Kim Kardashian blush. I loved that dress. Her hair in those days fell in loose curls down her back. Vulcan was a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Before the city updated the monument, the Ironman stood on a pedestal on the edge of Red Mountain.

An observation deck overlooking the city of Birmingham wrapped around Vulcan’s feet. Getting to the viewing deck required clanking up several flights of narrow stairs. But the windblown view of the city lights from that vantage point was worth all the huffing and puffing it took to get up there.

The deck was usually crowded, but on that Valentine’s Day, Cupid must have been smiling on us. We had the view to ourselves. It was clear and cool that evening. As we stood leaning against the viewing deck rail on top of Red Mountain, the wind whipped Jilda’s hair like a flag. She slid shivering behind me so that I would block the wind. It felt good to be alive, to be there. It’s an experience I will never forget. We stood in silence for a few minutes before heading into the shelter of the stairwell.

Through the years, my gift-giving record was hit and miss. I could write a book on WHAT NOT to buy your significant other on that special day. For example, I learned that an umbrella is an unacceptable gift. One of my friends had some great advice to share. He learned that a membership to a gym, Weight Watchers, or in fact any gift having to do with weight loss is inappropriate for that particular holiday. It was an unfortunate lesson for him. He said he only had to eat TV Dinners for about a month.

Age has made me smarter. I don’t wait until the last minute to buy cards and gifts. Typically, I will ask what she’d like for Valentine’s Day. I’ve gifted visits to the spa, pedicures, a high-dollar dinner at a nice restaurant, and sometimes she gets a gift card to one of her favorite stores. But she prefers a good experience over gifts.

The first Valentine’s Day after hitting the lottery I plan to take Jilda to Paris and dine at Le Meurice. I’ve read that it’s one of the best restaurants in Europe. That would be an experience of a lifetime.

On this Valentine’s Day, this is what I know for sure — Given the choice between things and experiences, opt for the experience. You will often forget the things you get for Valentine’s Day, but you’ll remember a special experience for the rest of your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Home ownership

This much I know for sure: Home ownership is NOT FOR WUSSES! I've known this for ages, but what I thought was a small leak in my bathroom turned into a beast.

My nephew Haven, who is a plumber, pulled my commode and I bought a new one. All I needed to do was get the floor dry and set the new one in its place. We did that last weekend, but several days afterward, the floor was still wet. Not a lot, but I had a nagging feeling.

After a few more days, I ripped up the commercial tile and the luan (thin plywood between the tile and the subfloor) was soaking wet. It had to come up too.

After ripping that up, I put fans and a portable heater in there to ensure everything was dry as snuff before I put the flooring and the new commode down.

Water seemed to be seeping from under the shower stall and the floor between the bathroom kitchen. I called my nephew yesterday and told him what I found. He said he'd be back this afternoon.

In the kitchen, we had to pull the fridge away from the wall and cut a hole in the sheetrock which was the wall between the kitchen and bathroom. About halfway up the wall where the pipes threaded through support studs, a tiny pinhole sprayed a little stream of water. Less than 10 minutes later the pipe was repaired, but then I had to start the long process of drying out everything that had gotten damp. It will take a few days before I can start putting things back together and putting the floor down in my bathroom.

Even though I was cussing like a sailor for most of the afternoon, I can now see light at the end of the tunnel.  By next weekend, I should have my bathroom back in order.

Tonight I feel like I've gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I'm going to take a hot bath and there's about a 98% chance I'll have a glass of wine sitting on the rim of the tub.

No, home ownership is not for wimps.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Have steaks, will travel

When our friend Fred helped us set up our sound system a while back he scratched his head as he watched us put it all together. He's a trained engineer but he drifted towards sound reinforcement. He spent years on the road with the country group Little Texas, and many other groups.

When he tired of the road, he went back to school and became a counselor. He works with Jilda at the Drug & Alcohol rehab center.

But he still loves doing sound. He works with us and several other singer/songwriter groups in the area.

But after our last gig, he called the next day to say that he could make our lives considerably easier by building a patch bay for the power cords and audio connections.

When he showed us how the new setup works, I was astounded. We'll reduce our setup and tear down time dramatically.

We asked him what it would cost before he did the work and without hesitation, he said "A Steak."
Today before we headed to his house, we stopped by the local family-owned grocery store and picked up three big ol' steaks before heading to his house.

After the show-and-tell with the sound system, we headed out to Fred's deck to grill some meat.

A few minutes later all you could hear coming from the dining room were grunts.

It was a delightful afternoon and our buddy did a remarkable job simplifying our system. We are eternally grateful for our friend Fred.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ol' Hook loves the fireplace

The temps dropped into the 20s (F) in the predawn hours and we keep our heat turned down low. Neither Jilda or I can sleep when it's hot. In fact, we have a box fan by our bed. It doesn't blow on us, but it keeps the air moving and the gentle drone of whispering air is like a sleep tonic.

This morning when I rolled out of bed to start the coffee, it was downright chilly in the house. This is Caillou's kind of weather. He loves it cold. Taz the wonder Yorkie is just as bad, but Ol' Hook prefer's desert-like weather – the hotter the better.

When I went back into the great room, I cranked up the fireplace.  It only took a moment for Hook to be standing directly in front of the fire. His nose poked through the protective fire curtain for a moment. I think he wanted to go into the fireplace to get closer.

I love a wood-burning fireplace, but Jilda's lungs, won't tolerate the smoke, so we settled for a propane fueled unit. It suits our purpose, I can say without hesitation, that Ol' Hook loves it.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Kodak moment at Hollow Hills

Yesterday was cloudy and strangely warm. Waves of showers moved through for most of the day but the rain moved off to the east around sunset. When I walked out to close up the chicken coop, it was much too warm for February.

After supper, I came in the home office to write my blog and Jilda checked the weather. When she came in to write, she said that another line of thunderstorms would move in just ahead of a cold front. I was unconvinced.

The AC was on when we went to bed and we left it on so we could sleep. By this morning, the front had moved through and it was cold outside.

Today the sky was filled with fluffy clouds. As I neared the house I looked off to the west and pulled to the side of the road to snap a picture. It was a Kodak moment at Hollow Hills which is what people call this small community.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The things we keep

The decluttering project we did last year was almost painful at times. We tossed books, novelties, electronics, and other things we no longer need but kept "Just In Case."  Once we finished the project, our house breathed easier. 

There were random things that we kept. An iron dragon bottle/can opener that we've never used is still hanging on the rack by the back door. While is doesn't serve the purpose for which it was intended, it is a unique piece of art that a friend, who is a blacksmith, made for me. 

In my office on the top of one of the bookshelves, is a small basket of sea shells that we've collected through the years. They really serve no purpose except to remind us of the beach which is a special place that we love to visit. 

I would toss a lot of things before I tossed these shells.

I'm curious. Are there things around you that serve no useful purpose, but you can't bear to let them go?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Guys on the beach

Whenever I feel down, I look back through my old pictures. It always seems to lift my spirit. Someone actually told me once that I live in the past. To that, I said, "I caught a trout on a crawfish once." They looked at me open-mouthed as if they expect horns to spontaneously sprout from my temples. Darting glances behind me enhanced the effect. 

I wasn't feeling down tonight, but we haven't had any sunshine in several days, so I think I was having withdrawals. Anyhow, when I flipped back through my Google Photos I found this picture taken years at Blue Mountain Beach Florida. The two in the picture with me are Steve (left) and Ron Norris. Ron and his wife Kaye owned a house there. Having a free place to stay made long weekends there a no-brainer.

Ron had a defective heart valve that he didn't learn about until a few years before this picture was taken. He died in the fall of 2000. Even though his story turns out sad, looking at this picture and remembering all the great fun we had together always makes me smile. 


Monday, February 06, 2017


This past week on the way home I stopped by the Mulberry Forks in Sipsey. Normally, there are several people sitting in folding chairs, shooting the bull and watching time pass at the speed of the slow-moving river. But on this day, I had the place to myself. I enjoy the company of my buddies who gather there, but it’s also nice to have the place to oneself every now and then.

Turning my truck around and backing down close to the water’s edge, I switched the engine off and stepped out of the cab. I dropped the tailgate and used it as a bench so that I could sit and take in the surroundings.

The sun was warm for January. A pillow was all I needed to take a nap right there in the bed of the truck. I’ve been known to do that at times. It’s a trick learned from my dad when I was a kid. He could take a nap anywhere and anytime.

Just then, I heard an outboard motor in the distance. A fisherman would be slowly making his way back up the river to the boat launch before the sun went down. At first, the motor sounded like the drone of a bumblebee, but it got louder as it puttered closer to the dock.

The boat was a flat-bottom that looked as if it had been painted with a pine top. It reminded
me of the boats that most people used for running trotlines and bream fishing when I was growing up. 

I remember helping my granddaddy Pap build flat bottom skiffs under a black cherry tree in the corner of our yard.  I was a kid then, so HELPING him build the boats might be a bit of bluster. I handed him his hammer, nails, and a bucket of tar when he needed them. Mostly I sat on a sawhorse watching him work for hours on end.

When I started to high school, I helped my dad built a small fishing cabin on the Black Warrior River. And soon after that, he bought a 14-foot V-bottom fishing boat with a Super 10 Evinrude motor. I was driving that boat long before I was old enough to drive a car.

There were times in the spring and early summer we’d launch the boat and be on the water before sunrise. When the warm air and cool water met, a morning mist hung over the emerald water like a thin gauze curtain. 

Our fishing excursions took us miles down the river. After we got tired of fishing, we’d turn the boat around and snake back up the winding river toward home. Dad would often wave me back to the stern to take control. After a few times, I realized he was letting me maneuver the boat so that he could take a nap. He’d lie across the middle bench, put a lifejacket under his head, pull a cap down over his eyes, and let the gentle ride upstream rock him to sleep.

I’ve never owned a boat, but now that I’m working part time, the thought has occurred to me that a small fishing boat might be just the ticket. So many of my childhood memories are connected to boats and that old lazy river. It seems a shame not to create some new ones.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Blast from the past

It looked snowy today, but with the mercury in the low 50s (F) it was much too warm. We drove to Birmingham to make a COSTCO run before visiting with our friend Louis. He was ill a while back and his doctor decided he needed some rehab. It seems he gets a little frailer each time we see him. 

He was one of Jilda's chair buddies during the three years she took the IVIG treatments.  He is a kind soul and we are better off having met him.

When I looked for a picture to post, I always step back a year. First I looked at 2016, then 2015, and so on.

I found a picture I shot in February of 2010. We had snow and I snapped a picture of the Cyprus tree in our backyard with a beautiful sky in the background.

My blog buddy BlogBuddy Bob Miller over at Grandpappy's Thoughts who is an artist saw the picture and painted a watercolor for me. It's a beautiful piece of art. 

Below is the picture I posted.

Oh yea, Go Falcons.

Saturday, February 04, 2017


I'd toyed with the idea of fishing today. Yesterday when I looked at the forecast it said we would have sunshine and blue skies. They nailed it.

When I got up this morning and went into the bathroom, I smelled something funky. Upon closer inspection, I realized the commode we installed a few years ago appeared to be leaking around the base. This did not look (or smell) good. I closed the door and put the exhaust vent. I decided it would be unwise to do anything drastic until after coffee.

After procrastinating a while, I put on my coveralls and went to the shed for tools. When I pulled up a few of the commercial tiles, the floor was wet. I forgot about fishing and called my brother-in-law who owns a plumbing company.

When he walked in the bathroom, he said "Smells like your toilet's leaking."  When he looked on the lower back side of the commode there was a hairline crack. It must have been some kind of factory defect that took a while to cause a problem.

Long story short. I spent the day doing plumbing. I'm going to ensure the new fixture doesn't leak before I replace the tile, but I can see light at the end of the septic tank.

It would probably have been too cold on the water today. anyway. Or at least that's the story I'm sticking with. I hope you didn't have to spend your Saturday in coveralls.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Old friends

While looking for a picture to post tonight, I came across one taken at our house years ago. It was taken at a party we had one autumn in the 1980s.

The guy on the far right was John Elliott.  He was bigger than life. He was articulate, humorous, a good singer, and a great friend. His father was a U.S. Congressman here in Alabama back in the 50s and early 60s. He ran for governor against George Wallace. I think Alabama would be in a better place right now had he won, but that didn't happen. Carl Elliott Sr. won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 1990.

Our friend John learned early in 1993 that he had cancer. His was a kind that was untreatable. He died in March in the worst snow storm on record for the State of Alabama.

Two other people in this picture are no longer with us. Joel and Ann Robinson (far left with their young daughter Jolee standing in between them.)  I love this picture, but I cannot look at it without feeling the pain of loss.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day

Had the Groundhog been looking here today, he would have found no shadow, unless a hunter had him spotlighted. It's been cloudy all day.

I ate lunch at my desk at work and watched the rain falling on the cobblestone courtyard. Every now and then someone would dash from the main building toward my building with coats pulled over their heads to keep from getting drenched to the bone.

The mercury didn't look as if it was that cold outside, but I didn't wear a jacket this morning (against the advice of my weather-wise spouse) and I paid the price in chill bumps. 

It was too gray for pictures with my phone, so I had to look back at pictures I took earlier in the week.

One picture that I shot on Tuesday evening on my way home captured a waning sunset and a waxing moon.

Jilda has the meatloaf, corn, and black-eyed peas ready. We're going to watch Groundhog Day for the umpteenth time.

I hope you've had a great day.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Some books are worth re-reading

I'm re-reading The Rise and Fall of Alexandria. It's about the building of the City of Alexandria in Egypt a few hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander the Great conceived the idea, but the first stone had not been set when he died at the age of 32. 

Ptolemy the 1st (pronounced Tolemy)  realized the potential of Alexander's dream and was instrumental in building the city.  

Not only was the city the center of commerce and culture, but was also a magnet for the best minds in those years. Mathematicians, scientists, astronomers, and philosophers.

The Library of Alexandria collected the books and works of the most brilliant people who'd roamed the earth. 

I just finished the chapter where Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth using nothing but the reflection of the sun in a well at noon on the summer solstice, the length and angle of a shadow from a stick that was 600 miles away. Using this information and the belief that the earth was a sphere, he calculated within 180 miles the circumference of the earth.

History tells us the library burned and most of the irreplaceable work it contained was lost. Some of the most vital and valuable information ever understood went up in smoke while invaders celebrated. It's a humbling story to read.

I wonder where we would be as a people if we hadn't lost some of the keys to understanding.

Sometime in the future when I get full of myself and think I'm pretty clever, I hope I remember Eratosthenes. 

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