Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sam and Blackie

I didn't have a picture today, so as I often do, I waded back through the archives. I found a picture of Jordan's mom when she was about his age. 

This was a critter she found at the school. No one claimed him so after a few days, she brought him home. His name was Blackie. 

He stayed with her a while, but after about a week, he discovered our dogs and decided he liked it here better. 

He was still her dog, but he lived here at our house.

We kept him until a few years ago. He was a great dog.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Every day is a new bouquet

Spring is coming too early. Color is exploding all around us here. Each day is a new bouquet. Today, as I drove to the bank, I passed the city's walking track.

The entryway was a cloud of white blossoms on a stand of Bradford Pear. I'm not wild about those trees, but I have to admit they put on a show in early spring.

Over the coming days, I'll shoot some more photos of other trees and blooming shrubs. Any of the fragile ones may get bit this weekend because the local weatherman is predicting a light frost.

Thankfully, our peach, apple and pear trees are holding back. I'll cover the small apricot and hopefully, it will survive the cold snap. But that's the nature of the beast here in Alabama.

The weather can be remarkable one day and a news headline the next.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Invisible people

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about invisible people. Mentioning this to a friend this week, he wasn’t sure what I meant. I explained that invisible people are the people we encounter almost daily, but don’t “see.” Like the “smelly” guy at the next pump over at the gas station, and the person in front of you at Walmart paying with food stamps. Invisible people are everywhere.
Doing the work I did for the past few years at Bevill State Community College, I met quite a few invisible people. They were the ones who were down on their luck and had given up hope of a better life. They tried to find work, but the good jobs seemed out of their reach. They often slipped into poverty and all that implies. When I managed to help some of them find jobs, their demeanor changed. Their inner light flickered back on. They became visible.
Driving down the Interstate this past week, I noticed my gas gauge was listing toward “E,” so I looked for an exit. It was dusk and drops of rain began to splatter on my windshield. Approaching an exit, I clicked on the blinker and headed toward a filling station. At the end of the ramp was a red-light. Standing near the intersection was a man holding a sign that read “Hungry.” The car in front of me inched by the man as if he hadn’t seen him. Maybe he was invisible to them. I keep a few folded dollars on my console that I use for this purpose. Rolling down my window, I eased to the edge of the road and handed the man the money. He smiled, looked into my eyes, and said, “Thank you, sir. God bless you.”
Some say these folks will probably use the money to buy cheap wine. That may be, but if so, it’s on them. If not, it’s on the people who don’t see that someone is in need.
There was a guy that graduated in my class in high school. I’ll call him Dave. He wasn’t a member of the “in crowd.” He often ate alone in the lunchroom. He was there throughout school, but his classmates didn’t seem to see him. He was invisible. To be honest, I didn’t have much in common with him, either. I wasn’t a member of an “in crowd” either but my twisted sense of humor was hard to ignore. I wasn’t invisible.
Years ago, while driving back from an appointment in Birmingham, I passed a stalled car on the side of the road just inside the city limits of Sumiton. The August sun was hotter than Satan’s asphalt driveway.
Passing, I saw a red-faced man standing beside the car. There wasn’t much time before my next appointment, but glancing in the mirror, I told myself that I’d just have to be a little late. Heading back, I realized the man was Dave. He’d run out of gas and didn’t have a can. About 20 minutes later, we had gas in his tank and were both on the road again. “Easy-peasy.” My lunch appointment was later than me so, the small detour cost me nothing, but Dave never forgot that small kindness. He mentioned it to me every time we met afterward.
I don’t pretend to be a saint. Lord knows I have faults, but I try to “see” people. The hard part is seeing people without judging them. The thing is, no one knows what each of us goes through. Life can be difficult, but that shouldn’t make you invisible.

The picture has nothing to do with the post, but I didn't have a picture that fit. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dodged a bullet

We dodged a bullet last night. When we went to bed, it looked like the weather map to the west have been bleeding. The was a swath of red from Saint Louis to Kosciusko. Red=UNGOOD on a weather map.

My sleep was fitful. When I awoke at midnight, I looked at the weather app on my phone. The red was about 50 miles west of us. I made sure my wallet, flashlight, phone, and car keys were handy.

I heard the rain drumming on the roof about 2:30 a.m. I waited on distant thunder, but it never came. Apparently, the temps had dropped enough to take the punch out of the storm and it rained off to the east dejectedly. I was happy, but the folks in Kentucky didn't fare so well.

There was no chance to take a picture today, so I pulled one from the archives of Jilda and me taken three years ago after we played a festival in Mississippi.

Jilda has oral surgery tomorrow. She's excited.

We hope your week get's off to a better start than hers :)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Apricot blossom

It has "sunned" on and off today. I could say it rained on and off, but I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy so you get the picture. 

When the rain subsided this morning, we donned our walking shoes and headed out for a stroll.  I noticed that our apricot tree had bloomed out overnight.

The wind was restless and the tiny blossom was in motion so I got the best picture I could. 

The line of storms that have menaced the folks north of us is sweeping toward us. The weather app predicts it will be here around midnight. I'm hoping the wind is kind to us. 

I'm winding down tonight. Hope you this weekend has been good for you all.  

Friday, February 23, 2018


The air today felt like it was May. Jilda and I spent hours on the road today and spring is trying its best to...well, spring.  The Bradford Pears are blooming of course, but those trees are stupid. They leap for spring and then are often bitten before warm weather REALLY arrives around late March.

Plum and tulip trees are also in full bloom. Each time I tried to slow down enough to take pictures today, cars came up behind me so I drove on.

Our camelia bush is one thing that is supposed to bloom right now. And, it looks remarkable. I think Jilda posted a picture of our bush earlier in the week so call me a copycat, but it's the only picture I have today.

I hope your Friday has been grand, as the Irish say.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Warmy-warmo here

It was warm enough to swim today. The blinking bank sign said 83 degrees, but I'm sure it went up before it started going down.

This morning, I put the saw blade on my Husqvarna weedeater and went to war with privets. Catching them at this time was perfect. After about an hour of work with an angry saw, I came in to cool down.

After lunch, Jilda had head to work so I took the opportunity to go to the seed and feed store, to Harbor Freight, and a quick run to Walmart before heading home.

It's been a good day. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Productive day

I had several writing assignments due today. For weeks I've tried to set up interviews for my assignments, but I kept getting the old, "Call me tomorrow," routine. Well, today they all said, "Let's do it today."

I knocked them all out by lunch and I had a chance to take a nap before heading to a dental appointment. I haven't had a cavity and YEARS. But I had two tiny ones that appeared during my last checkup. Today was the day to git-r-done. 

The experience gave me an idea for my column next week so being jabbed with a needle the size of a kindergarten pencil was a small price to pay. 

One the way home, I took a sip from my water bottle and promptly drooled it out of the side of my mouth that had been deaded. 

On the stretch from the Interstate to our house, I came upon a pasture and the light was remarkable. The clouds were – well, there are no words, but fortunately, I pulled into a wide place in the road and shot a picture.

I hope you've had a productive day too if that was your goal.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Missing my mom

On February 20, 2012, at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, my momma died. I put the date on my calendar but I don't need an electronic device to remind me. I woke up at dawn this morning with her on my mind.

She would have loved the weather today. The mercury eased into the low 80s with a gentle wind out of the west. She kept her space heater on at her house 10 month out of the year. The only time her gas bill went down was in July and August. 

I spent most of the day writing, but after lunch, I went out back as sat on the deck in the sun. Gray clouds seemed to be confused by the sudden heatwave so that seemed to race off in different directions. 

It didn't take long to realize that if I lingered there was a good chance my un-sun-screened face would get blistered so I stepped back inside.

I hope your day has been a good one. And if your mom is still alive, don't miss an opportunity to tell her how much she means to you.

Monday, February 19, 2018

That special girl ~ my column from Sunday's paper

It was in October 1966 when I first saw her sitting near the stage of the Sumiton Middle School. She was in an antique dress and bonnet playing gospel songs on a pump organ that looked as if it came over on the Mayflower. Her teacher was a history buff and persuaded her to play for the fall history fair. She was thin as a reed and sat straight on the organ bench, pumping the air pedals with all the strength her small frame could muster. Her cousin introduced us. Her name was Jilda. We talked after her set, and I could tell there was something special about her.

Jilda and I met again two years later during my senior year. She was a friend of the girl I’d been dating.

My girlfriend decided we needed to break up. She had a lot on her plate, and maybe she thought things were getting too serious.

The bottom line, I was dateless, and graduation was only days away. Since I didn’t want to go alone, I called Jilda and asked if she’d like to be my date. She said she would like that. I smiled when I hung up the phone. That was our first date.

The dates continued. She wore my class ring on a chain around her neck.

The following year, I was her date at her junior prom. I wasn’t much of a dancer but who goes to a prom to dance?

A few years later, I got the letter that all young men dread. That was in 1971. It was from Uncle Sam. My draft lottery number came up. I had to report for duty in April. Vietnam was raging, and she had college before her.

We decided that it might be a good idea to put things on hold. The future was uncertain. She said if it’s meant to be, it will work out. Even as we “broke up” I knew she was special.

After my stint at a post in the Panama Canal Zone, I wasn’t sure what I would do. My old friend Dale Short offered me an internship at The Community News. The VA supplemented my pay for two years while I learned the ropes. I wasn’t much of a writer, and my picture-taking skills weren’t much better, but Dale had patience, and I got better.

Jilda had introduced me to Dale before I left for the Army. One day during lunch as we talked, he said, “There’s something special about Jilda.” That night I gave her a call. A few days later, we went out and talked late into the night. It took some time, but we got back together. Her oldest sister Nell had told her when we broke up that it was only temporary. “He’s the one for you,” Nell advised. She laughed as she told me what her sister had said.

Before long we were dating solid again. I took her candy and flowers on that Valentine’s Day. Then on Cinco de Mayo of that year, we drove to the home of a preacher friend in Brewton, Ala. We got married on the porch of his house trailer as curious neighbors watched from a distance.

The preacher pulled me aside and said, “You should know that girl is special.” I nodded my head in agreement.

It turns out the preacher was right. There is something special about her.

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day with someone special.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The right place

I've been a little lazy today. Actually, "a little" might be an understatement. Thankfully, Jilda and I did take the dogs for a walk this morning. 

If you remember back last fall, I placed a bench down under the oak tree at the old house and said it was a trial spot. But the more I see it sitting there, the more I feel that the location is perfect.  

I tried my first Facebook Live posting on Friday when the sun came out. I "broadcast" from the bench. I had several people comment that the bench looked inviting. Maybe I had the right place all along.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winter retreating

The sun came out this afternoon and we took advantage of the opportunity to walk. Down at the barn, a dead limb the size of my thigh had fallen during the wind a few days ago. When we walked today, I picked up a length of the limb to toss it into the woods next to the barn road. Jilda paused to watch. When I tossed it next to the road, it flipped over. I turned to continue our walk, but Jilda saw something where I'd tossed the limb. It bounced when I tossed, it landed and rolled. Underneath the limb was a patch of ferns that I hadn't noticed. She called dibs and stepped over to snap a picture. I kicked myself for missing that shot. Our motto is, you snooze, you lose.

When we made our second lap, we walked through the blueberries. I noticed that the warm temps these last few days have coaxed the bushes to take a step closer to blooming.

I chose to believe the coming spring has old man winter retreating.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Monet Clouds

I didn't sleep well last night. I'm not sure why that happens sometimes. My mind races. Unimportant topics which I have absolutely no control over, play in slow motion over and over. It's annoying

I try deep breathing techniques. I do counting breaths. I listen to soothing music with my tiny headphones but none of them seem to work when it gets like this.

Eventually, my mind gets tired and I drift off into a fitful sleep.

This morning when I woke up, I felt as if I had a hangover. Ugg.

Walking into the kitchen I punched the brew button on the coffeemaker and stepped over to the window and have a look at the new day.

The color of the clouds looked almost like grape cotton candy. Stepping to the back porch, the wind out of the west felt like an April wind. The scene looked like a Monet.

Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture. It didn't capture the depth of the beauty before my eyes, but it gives you an idea.

Happy Chinese New Year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Good to see the sun again

I think I'm SAD. That's the acronym for Sun Affected Disorder. The sun has been scarce for over a week and it took a toll on me.

When I saw on the weather last night that it would be in the mid-seventies today, I was excited. But this morning was dreary with clouds as thick as dirty muslin curtains. 

By lunch, I was contemplating falling on a fork or maybe jabbing a knitting needle through my eye, when out the back windows I saw a flicker of hope.

It only lasted a second, but I stepped out on the back deck to get a closer look. Off to the west, I saw a patch of blue sky. It slowly made its way eastward and for another brief moment, we had sunlight. My spirits soared.

Jilda had to work this afternoon and I had several errands. By the time I reached the next town, the sun was out.

I leaned closer to my steering wheel to get a better view of the sky. I was so close, my chest tooted the horn.

After my errands, I ran by Lavish Coffee and ordered a hot cafe mocha. Once back in the truck, I decided to drive up to the Smith Dam to check on my fishing spot. It's been too long since I've been fly fishing up there. 

I had the place to myself so I walked down to the water's edge and stood for a long while. The sun on my face felt like toasted heaven. 

Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a few pictures. As I walked back to the truck, I began thinking about when I could get back on the water. Monday is supposed to be nice so I think that's the day.

When I cranked my truck and wheeled back onto the dam road (I couldn't resist) I smiled to myself. 

It was good to see the sun again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day. It's rained here all day. We'd planned to go out tonight for dinner at our favorite restaurant, but I hate driving at night when the weather is bad so we're postponing our special dinner until the weekend when the weather is supposed to be better.

Jilda has had inner ear issues this week. She missed a day of work which is rare for her. She'd seen a doctor and he'd given her steroids to help the issue but it's taking a while to make things better.

She usually gets me a card and other things for Valentine's Day. Since she couldn't get out, she made me one. I think it's better than any she could have bought.

Tonight she made a special meal and we had a toast for Valentine's Day.  

I hope today has been a good one for you all too.

The caption reads: It's always a sunny day at the beach with you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Memories that make me smile

I started an Entrepreneur class in early January. When the job at the college was ending, I didn't have another job lined up. I wanted to do something productive so I enrolled.

It's been an interesting experience. I had class tonight and just got home. As I often do, when I'm in need of inspiration, I head to Google Photos where I have most of my pictures stored. I looked back at a picture taken 10 years ago. 

The first picture that jumped out at me was one that Jilda took of me and Ol' Buddy. He was my sidekick for years before he developed cancer and died. It broke my heart to lose him but the memory of that little critter still makes me smile.

Monday, February 12, 2018

50 Years After ~ my column from Sunday's paper

The phone rang this past week. It was an old classmate from high school. She told me it was time to plan our 50th high school reunion. Through the years, I’ve had many calls about upcoming reunions. But this one was different. It took a moment to wrap my mind around what I was hearing. How could it be possible that 50 years have passed since graduation? 

When I placed the phone receiver back in the cradle, I sat for a long while letting the revelation sink in a little deeper.

The wheels of my office chair squeaked a little as I rolled to the bookshelf and pull my 1968 high school annual from the bottom row. I blew a thin layer of dust from the jacket before taking a slow trip back through time.

Flipping to the senior portraits, I thumbed slowly to the W’s section. There on page 23 was my smiling face. I had hair! The younger me seemed to be staring at something far into the
distance. I wish I remembered what it was.

If you looked through this annual, you wouldn’t find me in the sports section, the Beta Club, or the class favorites. There is a picture of me in the section on the senior play. My role was Homer Hollowbone. Also, in the Who’s Who section. Under the picture of me, and classmate Jeanette Cummings was the heading, “Best Personality.” I’d forgotten that.  They probably never saw me on a snarky day. 

Looking at the old annual made me smile, but in scanning the faces, I saw many classmates that are no longer with us. Each reunion, the deceased list grows longer.

Before I closed the annual, I turned back to page 23 and had another look at my 17-year-old self. I was so clueless back then. 

In 1968, I thought I had all the answers. I knew college was in my future. Afterward, I would get a job, get married, and buy a home. Most of those things happened but not like I thought they would. In reflection, I didn’t even understand the questions in 1968. 

It never occurred to me that there would be so many curves. There were times when I came to a fork in the road, and I had no idea which way to turn. Sometimes I turned right and sometimes I turned wrong. There are no roadmaps for life’s journey, but the path led me to where I am today.  

Even though I wasn’t a stellar student, high school was a fairly good experience for me. I had good, caring teachers, and made some friendships that lasted. But high school was not a fond memory for everyone.

After graduation, I stayed in contact with some of my friends and classmates. Others, I only see at Walmart or funerals.  

As for reunions, some people enjoy the experience. But for others, they are more painful. Some wounds never heal.

Stepping into the kitchen, I penciled the date for the upcoming reunion. It will be interesting to see my old classmates and hearing what’s going on in their lives.

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

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Moss tie

I'm glad we didn't go to the beach this weekend. There were a number of things on my ToDo list that I'd been shuffling. This weekend, I knocked out most of the "Crap I Dread" off my list.

This evening I'm tired but happy. Jilda is feeling much better. A beach trip would not have been fun had she not been feeling well.

We took time to walk this morning when it the rain took a rest. We walked on an en emerald carpet of moss behind the barn. A few weeks ago, the color was closer to amber. Rain with do that.

I'm running out of steam so I'll leave you with a mossy picture.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sound improvement

We've been making improvements to our live sound system we use when performing. We have gigs booked beginning in March so we're working out all the kinks. 

Our buddy Fred was a sound engineer for years. He worked for big acts like Little Texas and other groups. The road was brutal and took its toll on his body. He changed career directions. Now he works with Jilda at the addiction center. He's good at that too. But thankfully he still enjoys doing live sound.

When I told him that I want to upgrade the live sound of my guitar, he was all over it. I took our sound cabinet to him last week and he added a sound module that is perfect for my guitar. He also rewired the cabinet to make it idiot proof. It has labels and goes together in minutes. Before he did his magic, it took close to an hour prior to every show to put wire all the components together. Now it's plug and play. I love it.

Jilda and I owe him a trip to Niki's Restaurant. It's his favorite restaurant. This is fortunate because it's also our favorite restaurant.

Tonight we'll fall asleep to the sound of rain on our metal roof.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Change of plans

Do you remember earlier in the week when I said we'd be going to the beach soon? Having read that statement, you may have been under the impression that we would be going to the beach soon, but you would have been wrong. We had a change of plans.

Jilda had some issues, plus the weather at the beach and here will be brutal. The weatherman issued a flood warning.  We could also have destructive storms moving through. The beach is a beautiful thang but I like to be close to home when the weather gets bad. So we rescheduled.

It will be good when we get there.

Thursday, February 08, 2018


It's often better to get a photograph of someone who isn't looking. People a drilled almost from birth to "SMILE" at the camera. Most of these smiles are as artificial as soft-drink sweetener.

I struggle to look natural in a picture. It is practically impossible to take a picture of my niece Jayna without her talking or making a face. I've taken hundreds of pictures of her and I have two that capture her pretty face.

Jilda, on the other hand, is a natural in front of a camera. It's difficult to take a bad picture of her. I guess that's why Seventeen Magazine published photographs of her when she was in fashion college in the early 70s.

I love taking pictures and on rare occasions when I snap a picture that resonates, it feels good.

Today was a writing day. I spent most of the time cooped up in my office slamming out words.

Right now, I plan to pour me a glass of Merlot and kick my feet up for a while.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Afraid of thunder


Last night after midnight, I knew that storms were moving in because our collie Caillou tried to get in bed with us.  He never does that unless there is thunder in the distance. If he was a small dog I might let him up, but he weighs more than Jilda. 

Scooting to the edge of the bed, I reached my hand from under the cover and petted him. He calmed some but when lightning began to strobe outside our window, I moved him to his safe place which is my bathroom. I turned on the exhaust fan which drowns out external noises. He seemed appreciative when I closed the door.

We've had him eight years now. He's getting weak in his hindquarters. When he lays down on his bed at night, it's more of a standing drop. I can hear him grunt each time he does it. 

I'm taking him to the vet to get some meds that will help for a while but Jilda's mom and dad had a collie too. He experienced the same issues as he aged. 

This morning I let him out of the bathroom before I went in to make the coffee. While it brewed, we stepped out on the deck to get a real-time weather report. A gentle mist was falling. Soon, his coat was covered in tiny droplets. He doesn't mind the mist and he loves cold weather. He stood at the edge of the deck looking toward the horizon. I'm not sure what he sees down towards the barn, but apparently, it bears watching. 

I shot this picture of Caillou a few years back.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018


I did something goofy last night. Before yoga class, I decided to configure my phone so that I could have it read my Kindle books to me. I seem to spend a lot of time in the truck so it made sense that I could utilize drive time by listening to the books in my Kindle library. I have several of the classics that I have not had an opportunity to read and I wanted to remedy that.

So last night I tried several options I'd read about but none of them seemed to work on the Kindle app on my iPhone. Then I saw one entry suggested using Voice Control. It went on to say that it could be complicated but I figured that was a disclaimer.

A few moments after I clicked enter to engage the Voice Control, I wished I'd read the details. The setting turned my iPhone into a brick.

When we got home, I worked for over two hours trying to take the phone out of Voice Control but I wound up restoring the phone back to factory settings. This meant that any unsaved data on the phone would be lost. 

Finally, I got control of my phone and this morning I started the long process of putting the data back on my phone. I did have a backup, but it had somehow gotten corrupted. It wanted my unlock code. I put in the unlock code I've used for years but it didn't like that one.

I ditched the data and built it back from scratch.

After several hours this morning, I needed a walk. So, we bundled up and headed out. The dogs were thrilled. It felt good to get away from the computer desk and look at something besides the screen of my phone.

Mother Nature must have felt sorry for me because on the first lap around the barn, I saw moss that was as thick as a carpet in places. I snapped a picture of moss around a tree root. I snapped the picture below.

I hope you've had a good day. Take my advice, do NOT set your iPhone to Voice Control unless you read the disclaimer.

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