Saturday, March 31, 2018

Watching nature do its thing

There's a stump in our yard that's been there for years. It's from a sweet gum tree that was a sapling not much more in diameter at the base than my forearm when we first moved into our house in December of 1983. 

Sweet gums leaves are beautiful in fall. They turn the color of the setting sun in autumn before they fall.  But the seeds pods look like medieval spiled ball weapons.

Another downfall (no pun intended) is that the limbs tend to break off in high winds. When this one stood tall, part of the top sheared off in the wind and fell onto the back deck. Had it fallen on the roof, some of it would have punched through. That was in 2004. 

Rather than have the treen come down on the house in the next storm, we chose to have it cut down. The tree guy was going to cut the tree off at ground level, but we fancied ourselves using the stump as a support for a table. We imagined ourselves grilling steaks with our friends and dining around our table with the sweet gum base. It would b a conversation piece.  The table never happened. I did set glasses of merlot on it while I grilled, but the table thing was on a low-priority todo list.

The stump looked as if it would be solid forever. But then Mother Nature began the slow reclamation process.

I've taken pictures of the stump a few times in the past, but last Winter, Jilda started using the hollow part as a bird feeder.  We have fancy feeders that we've paid good money for, but the birds seem to prefer this stump feeder. 

It's soft enough now that I could push it over to the burn heap with the tractor, but it's interesting to watch Nature do its thing. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Work day

We have company coming tomorrow so we've spent the day cleaning up the clutter. I took off a truckload of magazines and other stuff that's been around for much too long.

The deck looked as though it had a coat of yellow paint applied during the last few weeks. It was pine pollen. Fortunately, the rain washed most of it off our cars and off the metal roof, but there was still some on the porch. It took a while but it looks much better this evening. I bought a small pressure washer recently, and I'll have my way with it soon.

It felt good to work today. Writing is work, but it seems it makes me wearier that manual labor. 

This morning during our walk, Jilda saw the first daisy blooming. She didn't have her phone with her so she pointed it out to me. It's the only picture I shot today.

She made a centerpiece for the table out of dogwood, apple blossoms, and wild honeysuckle (azaleas.) It was beautiful. You can check it out over on her blog by clicking here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Peace and beauty

The last few days it seems that all I've done is write. We did get out an walk this morning between rain showers. The hollow by the barn is full of dogwood, wild honeysuckle bushes, and wild redbuds. I'm not sure why they call these redbuds because they are actually purple, but they are a beautiful tree.

We first visited this property one spring in the 1970s. The road in front of where our house now stands was gravel at that time. There were only a few houses. 

We parked the car on the shoulder and walked down the barn road. I thought then that we were in heaven. I know that's a stretch for those who love the city, but there's a lot to be said for peace and beauty. This place had both.

Today, as we walked, I snapped a picture of one of the dogwoods in the hollow. It's not one of the old ones, but it's close enough to photograph without walking down into the hollow.

The community has changed in the last 35 years, but for the most part, it still offers peace and beauty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beautiful time of the year

The morning was overcast, but the clouds drifted to the east after lunch. By mid-afternoon, the temps were near 80.

That can be troublesome this time of year. Rain moves back in tomorrow with a chance of severe weather.  But I can't fret about that now. I have to tell you about our azaleas. Jilda's brother gave us these shrubs several years ago. They weren't knee-high when hauled them home in her car. 

We planted them on the bank between our great room and the road. We fed and pampered
these babies for years.  Even with loving attention, they never bloomed. Can you spell disappointment? Still, they were an asset because we don't have curtains. We depend on an evergreen wall between us and passing cars. 

When Jilda and I walk, we are in a kind of competition. The one who spots a potential picture calls dibs. Today, she spied the wild iris blooming. It's a tender plant. We rescued it from the adjoining property when the owners decided to clear-cut the timber.  Dang, I can't believe I missed that baby. But while she focused on the iris, I spied the first blooms on our tardy azaleas.

Smiling, I stepped over and snapped a few pictures while she took photos of her on.

Spring is a beautiful time of year. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fun Tuesday

The sky was overcast for much of the day. This week is Spring Break so the schools were out. Jordan's Pop had a routine medical test today so he had a choice to sit in a doctor's office for several hours or come and hang with us. No Brainer.

He brought his stuff over. The first thing he does is remove his shoes and put them on the mantle in the living room. I taught him to do that years ago when he lost his shoes during one of his visits. He never forgot and he does it now without fail.

Later we ran to Walmart to pick up some things. Jilda had given him $4 to buy a toy. She went to pick up the items we needed. Jordan and I headed to the toy aisle. It's a routine I've adjusted to. He evaluates each toy and calculates in his head if he has enough money to pay. He even calculates the tax which is something that requires the calculator on my phone in cases where I need to get an exact number.

The things he wanted totaled $5 and he struggled with the choice. I let him run through all the scenarios before telling him I'd pitch in the difference. He chose a Slinky, some slime that looked like tar, and some type of tiny action figure.

When we got to the register, he handed me his money. I made a show of putting it in my pocket in front of Jilda and then slipped it back for him to put in his pocket. She saw the transaction out of the corner of her eye. I know because I saw her smile.

When we got back, we went for a walk. I noticed apple blossoms earlier in the week, but today was the first day without wind so I took the opportunity to snap a picture.

It was still overcast, but I thought the light made the color pop.

Hope your Tuesday was as much fun as ours.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The day the butter beans blew ~ my column from Sunday's paper

We stopped by to see Jilda’s sister Nell a few weeks ago. During our visit, she told us about her latest kitchen thingamajig. It’s one of those new-fangled digital pressure cookers. When Jilda realized the device was a pressure cooker, she flinched and took a small step backward. My lovely spouse is not a fan of pressure cookers and hasn’t been since the '70s.
Jilda’s mother Ruby cooked every day. Most days her stove baked, boiled, roasted, and fried stuff. But
now and then she’d remove the pressure cooker from the bottom shelf of her cabinet, wash it out, and press it into service. She cooked roasts, chicken, poke salad, and beans.
You could tell she was using the pressure cooker in the kitchen when you walked through her front door. The cooker had a float valve on top that rattled to the rhythm of Southern food at its finest. At the time, I’d never had anything that tasted better than the stuff coming from that spewing cook-horse. 
When Jilda and I married, Ruby and Sharky bought us a pressure cooker as a housewarming gift. We were ecstatic. Like her mom, Jilda cooked every day. On occasions when she used it, the pressure cooker took meals to the next level.
For a while, I had to work second shift at MaBell. One Friday I knocked off a half day. After calling Jilda, I headed home from Hoover. The drive takes about an hour. Jilda decided to surprise me by cooking butter beans and hot-buttered cornbread. She knew it was one of my favorite meals.
She scooted a kitchen chair over and removed the pressure cooker off the top of the fridge. On the counter by the stove, she’d laid out a bag of beans and a slab of bacon big enough to cause arterial distress in heart patients. 
She measured the beans and water as she mixed everything in the cooker. She preheated the oven and got to work mixing up cornmeal and her other secret ingredients for the cornbread. 
While the meal was in cooking, she went to the bathroom to change out of her work clothes. Suddenly she heard an alarming sound from the kitchen. It wasn’t an explosion but a whooshing WHUMP sound. She raced half naked to the kitchen to find a hole the size of your thumb in the ceiling. Butter beans were dripping off the ceiling, light fixtures, and our German Shepard Duke. He was always an asset when it came to cleaning up messes like that in the kitchen.
We’re not sure if it was the salt she’d added or maybe there was too much water, but the cooker built up too much pressure. All the contents of the cooker shot out through the pressure release valve. We were still finding beans in that kitchen until we sold that house trailer. 
After that butter bean episode, Jilda tossed the lid to the pressure cooker in the garbage. She would have tossed the little rattling valve thingy too, but we never found it. That event made her skittish of pressure cookers.
This past weekend, I decided to dance with the devil. Walmart had one of those new digital pressure cookers so I bought one for her upcoming birthday. She howled when I put it on the table. “You know those things don’t like me,” she said.  We both laughed remembering the “butter bean disaster” as it’s come to be known in our family lore. 
We unboxed the new cooker, read the instructions, and watched YouTube video. Jilda decided to give it a try. I was thrilled. Within 34 minutes we had a pot of butter beans that were so good they “made me want to slap my mama,” as the old saying goes. The new cooker has an automatic shutdown function that should prevent another culinary calamity. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ready for spring

And today the dogwoods bloomed. They'd been on the cusp for several days last week, but then cooler weather returned. I guess after the light frost, they decided to take another nap.

Yesterday the temps were in the 70s and today it was close to 80. On the first lap of our morning walk, we noticed the buckeye bush was in bloom. Then when we walked the barn road back toward the main road and the mailbox, we noticed several white clouds in the hollow.

When we walked up the hill and into the driveway, the ancient dogwood in our front yard confirmed that they were ready for spring.

These blossoms will develop even further in coming days. The petals are smaller and have a hint of green around the flowering heads. When they fully bloom, there will be as big around as a tennis ball.

It's amazing to me that Mother Nature doesn't charge for this stuff.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fun day with the seniors

We played at an assisted living home today. The last time we did one of these, all the residents wanted to hear were gospel songs. Jilda probably knows them all, but my playing them on the guitar is another story altogether. But the folks today enjoyed what we did and were vocal about it.

The director told us that we must have really hit it off because some of the residents had already told her to get us back. I was tickled to hear that.

We started at two and were finished loading the gear back in the car by 3:15. Since we didn't go to Jilda's favorite restaurant yesterday for her birthday, we decided to go today.

It's been a delightful day.

I hope today has been good for you too.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Happy Birthday JIlda

Today was my lovely spouse's birthday. It's been a good day. This was the year she had to renew her driver's license. When I tried to renew online, the service said we'd have to go into the office. I told her that she'd probably have to take a driver's test. I was, of course, joking, but she fretted about getting the license renewed until she sat down in the chair for the clerk to snap another picture.

We were going out tonight to our favorite restaurant, but we opted to stay home and grill steaks instead.

Jilda's best friend from high school posted a picture of the both of them at the beach on Facebook. When I saw the picture come across my timeline I had to smile. 

Jilda also came across a timely video today. It's about 4 minutes long but well worth the time to watch it. 

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fun day

My nephew called yesterday afternoon to ask if I'd do a story for the magazine that comes out in a few weeks. I've worked at the paper for over 10 years but he's now the head nacho. 

I told him I was interested in doing the story and asked him for the scoop. He said it's a story about Gas Station Food. Not just any gas station food but Bayou Fresh Seafood. It's a small restaurant that happens to be co-located with a gas station.

I was intrigued so I told him I'd love to do the story. My appointment was this afternoon. The place not only serves fresh seafood prepared like you want it, but they also serve sushi. 

I would not have guessed that 3 p.m. would have been a busy time at a seafood restaurant but the place was buzzing. I talked to the owner and his waitress. They were delightful. 

A couple customers heard me interviewing and said, "I came here last week for the first time and it was incredible. I brought my friend back today."

I won't reveal the story here until after publication, but I had a fun afternoon. I plan to go back with Jilda and eat.

After I got home, I took the dogs for a walk. I noticed more violets blooming so I snapped another pic. The dogwoods should be out in force tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cool spring day

Today is the first full day of spring. Standing at the back of the great room looking toward the barn the sky looked like spring. Puffs of clouds drifting across an aquamarine colored sky. I stepped out onto the deck wearing only a tee shirt. It only took a moment to realize that I  was under dressed. I stepped back to my closet to grab a sweatshirt and hat.

We had a good walk. The dogwoods are beginning to bloom. The next warm day and they'll be out in force. I saw tiny white and purple flowers at the base of an oak beside the walking path. They were so small, I was afraid the photograph wouldn't look good, but I think it will do in a pinch.

When I returned, I sat down with my laptop to write my column that runs Sunday. Some Wednesday's I struggle coming up with a topic, but Jilda gave me an excellent ideal last night so this morning I knocked out 600 words in about 20 minutes. I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

No spring is spring until it's spring

Last night was tense. The weatherman came on early because of storms on the ground just north of us. Had the wind not been howling, I sure we could have stepped out front and hear the tornado sirens in the next county to the north of us. But this time we were fortunate.

This morning, social media was buzzing with pictures of storm damage. Our friend Bob who founded Berkely Bob's Coffee House where we perform each year had damage from hailstones the size of baseballs. It the stones damaged his roof and knocked all the windows out of their car. 

The storms moved off to Tennessee, Carolina, and points north. Tonight, our friends to the south in Florida are expected to have bad weather. 

Today after lunch, the cold front that was one of the components in this outbreak came through here. The wind picked up and the temp dropped. I'd been walking in shorts and a tee shirt this past week, but I bundled up today. 

Fortunately,  the hail didn't come through here. In years past, our fruit trees blossomed and bloomed early only to have all the fruit stripped off by hailstorms and wind.

Today, there were no bees buzzing about but they were OK. 

As we walked around the barn, I looked up at the oak and hickory trees. They were there long before we moved here in 1980. They were all still bare. They are rarely fooled and understand deep within their rings that no spring is spring until it's spring.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hitchhiking in the rain

This past week I had an appointment in town. The time change had made my internal clock wonky, and I was running late. Not one to waste good coffee, I slurped down a half a cup and “burned the hair off my tongue” in the process.

As I grabbed my computer bag to head out the door, it started raining. It was an old cold rain, as my grandmother used to say. Reaching back inside the door, I pulled my hat from the coatrack and headed to the truck. This was not a good day to be on the road.

Crossing the river, I wound my way through Sipsey. I had to flip my wipers on high. They slapped sheets of water off the windshield. On the edge of the town limits, I noticed a man walking in the direction I was heading. With the collar of his jacket hunched up around his ears, I could tell he was drenched to the bone. He turned toward me as I approached and
stuck out his thumb. I’m guessing he’d done that a half-dozen times without anyone slowing to have a look.

Usually, the passenger seat of my truck is filled with stuff I have to haul around for my job, but today all I had was my computer bag. My tires skidded a little when I touched the breaks. 

Pulling to the edge of the road, I leaned over and unlocked my door to let him in. “I’m soaked," he warned, but I told him to jump in. He shivered while buckling up, so I bumped the heater up a notch. 

“Where are you headed?” I asked. It turns out, his stop was on my way.  He’d resigned himself to the fact that he’d have to walk all the way to Jasper. Few people are willing to pick up hitchhikers, especially in the rain.

I made small talk. He was slow to open up, and that was OK with me, but I did learn that he was a veteran and homeless. He was looking for work so that he could get him a place of his own.  He ticked off a few of his skills, but he would fall into the category of an unskilled laborer.

I told him that my nephew sometimes needed help in his plumbing business, but when I asked if he had a cell phone, he said that he didn’t. I nodded my head in understanding. 

When we got to the place he was heading, he told me to let him out on the side of the road, and he’d walk the rest of the way. He didn’t want to put me out any further. The rain was still pounding, so I drove him as close as I could get to the door of his building without driving up the stairs. He thanked me for the ride and slid out. I was glad to help a fellow veteran.

I’ve thought about the man since that day. I wondered what story he would have told had he felt comfortable enough to share it. It’s easy to think of the homeless in big cities where there are some shelters and other resources, but I’m not sure where homeless people turn here.  

I’ve always believed that we live in a land of opportunity and that a better life is within everyone’s reach. But I’ve come to understand that’s not always the case. People fall through the cracks. Some are where they are because of the decisions they’ve made, but others get smacked down by life and are too weary to get up. 

I wish there were some way I could have helped my hitchhiker find a job so that he could get a small place with a warm bed and a bathroom. But for my guy, all I could offer was to give him a ride and get him out of the rain for a while.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Both Jilda and her sister have birthdays in March. Casie, one of her sister Pat's grandchildren cooked lunch for everyone today.

When Jilda and I arrived at noon, Casie's three children were sitting on the porch waiting. When I stepped up on the porch, all three kids came over and gave me a hug. Payton, the little girl on the right of me in the picture below said, "I read your story in the paper today." She went inside and got the paper off the couch and tapped on my picture.

She proceeded to tell me about what she'd read. It was the first time that she realized I was the writer who wrote a weekly column in the paper. Her mother has mentioned my column to me a number of times while we were down there when I wrote something that resonated with her, but the kids always seemed to busy to make the connection.

I sat on the porch with the kids for awhile talking about school, homework, and an upcoming trip to the state capitol this coming week.

Later when we were all inside, I heard Payton telling Jilda about my story. She ended by saying, "It was a good story." Hearing that made me smile

We gave Payton's younger brother Parker a joke book for Christmas. Today as we sat in the living room, he shared one of the jokes he'd read in the book. "Do you know what kind of tree grows in your hand?" he asked. No was my reply. "A palm tree. Get it, a palm tree." I acted as if that was the funniest joke I'd ever heard. That tickled him. I love it when kids begin to read and talk about the things they've read.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The weather today was remarkable. Jilda put a corned beef brisket in the crockpot early this morning and put it on slow cook. She does it every year for St. Patrick's Day. We have corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, butter beans, and cornbread. She normally does colcannon, with soda bread. But this year, my nephew Haven who LOVES this meal, asked if he was invited this year. We'd planned to keep it low key because Jilda has felt well, but by suppertime, we had a house full. Some of the "guests" aren't fans of colcannon and soda bread so we did cornbread and kept the cabbage and potatoes separate.

The meal was a hit. Our sister-in-law whipped up a peach cobbler and Haven's wife Alesha baked up a fresh batch of peanut butter brownies. Yum.

While the grownups were setting the table, I took the kids out back for a walkabout. Jordan noticed that the pear tree was in bloom and wanted to have a closer look. I shot a few pictures of him an Anthony but they couldn't stand still long enough to get a decent shot, so I took one of the pear blossoms instead.

I hope St. Patrick's Day has been good for you too. May you have the "Luck of the Irish" all the days of your life.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Thanks, Mister Sol

I had errands today so I didn't get my steps in as I usually do. This evening while Jilda prepared dinner, I took the jump-jump to the back porch and marched my last 5000 steps on a tiny trampoline. It's easy on my knees.

After I finished, I took the jumper inside and grabbed a glass of water. The sun was setting to the west and the evening critters were aflutter.

Ol' Hook the wonder dog stood guard on the steps to keep those pesky squirrels aloft.  I sat in silence taking it all in. When I looked down at the steps, I noticed the sun peeping through the pine and lighting up a flower pot that we used to grow herbs last summer. The herbs are long gone, but we left the pot there because we'll use it again this spring.

Winter had coated the northwest edge of the pot with a fuzz of moss. The sun pointed out to me just how beautiful it was. That would have been easy to miss. Thanks, Mister Sol.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hitching in the rain

My column this coming Sunday is about picking up a hitchhiker last week. It was an old cold rainy day. I'm not doing a spoiler here, but giving this guy a ride reminded me of when I was in the Army in 1971.

I was at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and my friend lived in New Hampshire. "It's only about 350 miles that shouldn't take us too long," he said. I was a hick from Sloss Hollow, Alabama and I hadn't traveled much. He could have told me it wasn't too far to walk and I would have gone.

We planned to head out when our classes ended just after lunch. It was a long weekend and we thought we'd eat supper at his mom and dad's house. 

We wore civilian clothes but we packed our Army uniform and field jacket in our bags in case it got cool. 

Looking at the forecast seemed like overkill because we'd probably be in New Hampshire by sundown.  

Outside the gates of Fort Monmouth, we stuck out our thumbs and a salesman picked us up in a matter of minutes. He took us just north of New York City and we caught a ride with another soldier a few minutes later. Bam! We were on our way. 

But the soldier had a couple stops to make. Time slipped away. We made it somewhere close to Worchester, Mass and the soldier let us out at his exit. It was dark and as luck would have it, a cold rain began to fall. We walked a few hundred feet up the Interstate and took refuge under an overpass. 
We put on our field jackets to help block the rain, but we didn't want to put the hood up because we wanted potential picker-uppers to see our faces. 

It was near midnight before a woman took pity on us. She pulled to the emergency lane. She rolled down her window to have a look at us before she unlocked the doors. We told her we were soldiers headed home for the holiday. 

She clicked the door open and let us in. Turns out, she had a son in the military too. She knew it was risky picking up two young men in the middle of the night, but she wanted to think that someone else would offer the same courtesy to her son if he needed a ride. 

That act of kindness took a lot of courage on her part. My friend and I were both grateful. My friend had family in Boston and they had agreed to take us on the final leg of our journey. I have a feeling that had they know how late we'd be arriving they would not have been so accommodating. 

These days with all the horror stories, most people simply will not pick up a hitchhiker. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and can't stop to give someone a ride. But when I see someone by the road standing in the rain, I remember the lady's kindness and offer a ride.

How about you? Do you ever pick up hitchhikers?

This has nothing to do with the post, but I shot this picture this evening as the sun was going down

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Time in the sun

We had someone come to our house today that has never been here before. Our directions are good, but people still struggle out here where cell reception can be spotty, and GPS sometimes takes visitors on adventures.

I called to verify she felt comfortable driving here, but I went out and sat on the bench by the front walk to wait. The turn into our driveway is sudden and people often pass it by before realizing they should have turned.  

As I sat on the bench, the birds and squirrels decided I was not an imminent threat and proceeded to feed. I heard a squirrel scampering across the metal roof and jumped onto the Rose-a-Sharon bush standing by the bench. He was halfway to the ground when he noticed me on the bench. He stood as still as a stone. His obsidian eyes looked me over. He was close enough that I could have reached out and petted him. When I eased my hand toward my pocket to get my phone for a picture, he darted to the ground and was gone in a flash.

The sound of our visitor's SUV preceded her arrival and she apparently had listened to the directions I gave because she pulled right into the driveway.

The wind out of the north was frigid, but I enjoyed those few moments in the sun visiting with our critters.

Since I didn't get a picture of a squirrel, I had to go back through the archives and settle on a picture of what I call a white dove.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


On our walk this morning I stopped at the dogwood in our front yard.  A few weeks ago when the temps toyed with the mid-80s the dogwoods were tempted to bloom, but mine were too smart to be teased. Even though the limb tips were fat as ticks, they held back.

It's a good thing they did because the temps last night dipped into the upper 20s. Frost was on my windshield this morning.

I could almost hear the dogwoods chanting - Na Na Na Boo Boo, you didn't fool me. They are in the starting blocks for when the spring makes its appearance.

The picture below, I shot a few years ago.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be Here Now

I sat down at my office desk this morning with a steaming cup of coffee and the intention of writing something remarkable. About the best I could muster was writing out a check for the light bill. My mind ricochets from current events to a never-ending to-do list. Then I remembered the mantra that my lovely wife preaches to her students at work and at the community yoga class. “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now.” In other words, “Be Here Now.” 
Sometimes being mindful is harder than you might think. Especially when you have urgent calls from Emily at Card Services telling me there’s an issue with my credit card or the automated message from the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS that needs to discuss my latest tax return. Not to mention the serious problem I have with my Windows computer. This one is especially perplexing since I haven’t a Windows computer in over 15 years. 
After about an hour of tapping keys, my mind was still as blank as a busted TV set. I clicked my laptop closed and took Jilda out for breakfast. She found a table by the window, and I ordered the food. Eating at the local Jacks during morning hours is like attending a family reunion. We saw a half-dozen people we knew. 
Sitting there, I looked around at the faces and heard clips of conversation. Mornings in that restaurant reminds me of my mother’s kitchen at breakfast. The aroma of bacon on the grill, and biscuits baking in the oven. I had a feeling that the experience would bring my mind back to here and now. I was right.
Once home, I took the critters for a walk. I flipped the collar of my insulated vest up to block the brisk wind out of the north. 
A doe and two fawns were feeding on acorns by the barn. When they saw Ol’ Hook and Caillou, they
bolted for the woods. The dogs yapped after them. I sat down on my thinking bench to watch, listen, and smell the earth getting ready for spring. Those moments without distraction were a joy. It felt good to “Be Here Now.”
There’s something powerful that happens when the mind is silent. Troubling things no longer seem as important. The space those thoughts occupy in my chattering mind tends to shrink. I often come up with creative approaches to complex problems. I don’t always solve them, but the silence gives me a chance to get a better grip on the pieces I can control. It also helps me to let go of the pieces I can’t control. This is a huge benefit of mindfulness.
There are those who say that mindfulness is a lot of New Age hooey.  I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind about mindfulness. But this much I know for sure. It works for me. In fact, it gave me the idea for this column today. 
If you get fed up with Emily and your credit card problems, I suggest you try to Be Here Now. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pond scum

Jilda and I both were like sore-tail-cats today. I don't think we're sick, and there's nothing troubling us...except this damn time change. I'm sorry for the bad language, but there's no other way to describe just how we feel about "Springing Forward". 

Researchers say it doesn't help farmers, it doesn't save energy. I did make people sicker, have more heart attacks, and spend more money. 

If I were to put on my root-cause-analysis hat, the "Spend More Money" would have been a DING DING DING DING moment. The real reason we have daylight savings time is that it makes more money for business and in turn politicians.  

One of the Native American sites had this to offer:

‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’

Nuff said.

Feeling lower than pond scum on the first day of daylight savings time.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rainy Day

It's rained most of the day today. We ran errands, and it began raining before we made it home. It hasn't stopped.

My sister did a birthday gathering this evening for all friends and family that have birthdays in March. Jilda's birthday is on the 23rd so she was one of the honorees.

We headed home before dusk, but by the time we reached the river, a shroud of fog made driving hazardous. We crept the rest of the way home.

The picture tonight was from March of 2017.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Called in

Today was freedom Friday for us. No commitments. No to-dos that were on fire. We "Called in drunk," as they sometimes say here in Alabama.

I picked up a New York Times yesterday and we read it this morning as we slowly sipped our steaming mugs of coffee. Life is good.

After doing a few chores around the house, we took the dogs for a walk. The sun was warm, but the breeze was out of the north. I had on a long-sleeve shirt, but Jilda wore a jacket.

On the second lap, I sat on the thinking bench for a moment petting Caillou. Jilda snapped a picture of me for my blog tonight.

Before ending our walk, I also shot a picture of our red tips. The color this time of year is remarkable.

Thursday, March 08, 2018


Each spring the wild honeysuckles bloom here. I walked down to the edge of the hollow yesterday to survey their progress. We also had one that we transplanted to a flowerbed in one corner of our yard.  The buds look pregnant, but they haven't popped out yet.

I'm glad the cold spell came when it did because had the started to bloom, frost would have played havoc with their springtime show.

As it is, it looks like they had a feeling old man winter was through.  I took the picture below last year at this time. 

When this year's blossoms make their debut, I'll post a fresh picture.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Prime the pump

Some days writing ideas come to me like mosquitos to a fat baby. And some days I couldn't buy one with an AmEx Platinum card.  Today was one of the latter. Of course, my column deadline is in the morning. But rather than stress, I took my honey out for a late breakfast.

I eventually wrote my column at Starbucks over a cafe mocha.  I don't get to Starbucks often so it was a treat. I pushed my headphones into my ears knuckle deep, cranked up the deep concentration music on my phone and cranked that baby up.

Soon, the words were flowing. They may be crap, but I got through it. I've written this weekly column for 12 years and this nightly blog for 13 years. It stands to reason that the well will run dry from time to time. That's when you need to prime the pump. 

The picture below has nothing to do with this post, but it's one I took out west a few years ago. I have used it so I thought I would.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A little spring color

This past weekend we put flowers on the graves of our parents. It's easy to get swept along a the speed of life and forget where you came from, and who you are.

We put flowers on their graves before Christmas, but the sun and rain on those silk flowers made them a little sad. Since the explosion of color all around us, we thought a little color on their resting places would be just the ticket. Jilda suggested daffodils. I thought that was a perfect choice.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Old Trucks ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The rain took the day off yesterday, making it feel like San Francisco weather. The sun was high and warm on my face. It felt like the perfect day to wash a winter’s worth of grime off my truck, so I pulled into the local car wash, and before pulling out, I’d vacuumed enough red clay from the floorboard to make a flower pot. A few minutes later, I pulled onto the highway smiling. I love my truck.

I came by my love of trucks honestly because my dad loved them, too. He had an old ‘46 Chevy truck he parked in the backyard. At one time, it had been blue, but years of hard work and neglect had turned it into a shade of amber with blue undertones. The bed had rusted through to the axle, and my Uncle Pete helped dad build a bed for it made of dried oak that was as hard as teak.

We hauled coal in the old beast in winter, and during the summer we tossed our garbage on the back until we had enough to haul to the dump. I think the battery was original equipment, so each time we wanted to drive the old Chevy anywhere, we had to jump it off.

I was too young to drive in those days, but I spent hours alone in the cab of that truck. It smelled of old leather, tobacco, and burnt motor oil. The floorboard had rusted through on the driver’s side and dad spot-welded an old car tag over the hole. He was handy with an acetylene torch.

I knew every knob and lever on the dash. It was a four-on-the-floor. My dad called the first gear in the old beast “granny low” because you only used that gear when the truck was loaded.

I traveled thousands of miles in that truck without ever leaving the backyard.

When my legs grew long enough to reach the clutch and breaks, dad started to let me drive a little. He’d always sit close so that he could grab the wheel if I lost control, but I never did.

Driving the old truck was like a moving puzzle. I had to learn to let off the gas, mash the clutch, and change the gears while steering that baby between the RC Signs.

It was like a real-life video game, except one slip and there could have been hair, teeth, and eyeballs all over the asphalt. At least that’s how it played out in my young mind.

There’s an old Ford truck behind the barn now that belonged to Jilda’s dad Sharky. The truck hasn’t run in years. When I walked yesterday, I noticed a blue-tail lizard sunning on the rusty hood of that old truck.

When I stepped closer, it scurried down through the grill and into the engine compartment.

The door squawked when I opened it. Sliding into the driver’s seat, I sat for a few minutes remembering.

Had I been 12-years old, I would have taken this baby to Brazil.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Roses are red violets are...

Roses are red
Violets are...
Hmmmm. they're not blue.
They're not quite purple.
Strangely enough, they are not really violet either.
I thought they might be topaz, but what would rhyme with that? 
Ok, here goes.
Roses are red
Violets are plum.
Don't blame me
If this post is dumb.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Close calls and camellia blossoms

Today's been hectic. It started out well, but then our sister-in-law who'd headed down to Sumiton to get a haircut was rear-ended. She wasn't injured but the incident set a chain of events that took charge of our day. She's home now and resting and we are thankful. It could have been much worse.

On a more colorful note, I took a bag of garbage to the fence to put in our receptacle and noticed that the last camellia blossom had fallen off sometime in the night.  It looked a little sad so I let Photoshop have its way with the photograph.

Here's to close calls and camellia blossoms.

Friday, March 02, 2018


When Jilda's sister Nell gave us young collard plants, we weren't sure they survive. Our record of growing collards has been spotty.  Nell promised these would be different. She's had these seeds since Carter was in the White House.  Well, not these seeds, but their ancestors. 

Each year, she plants them in several old bathtubs full of organic soil. You can dig down under her collards in those tubs and there are earthworms as fat as milkshake straws. 

They are happy there and their habitat makes perfect soil for plants. 

I recycled an old plastic water barrel and planted our small plants close to the deck in a place where it would get full sun most of the day. They were happy there. Even though we only planted five plants, it provided us several meals this fall. We were thrilled.

A few days ago, we noticed they are bolting. That means they're putting out seed blossoms. When I went out there today, it looked as if they were reaching for the sun. Soon we'll have enough heirloom seeds for a couple bathtubs filled with plants next year.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Arbor jasmine

When Jilda mentioned building an arbor on the front of our house a few years ago I was hesitant. The front of our house is unique and I wasn't sure an arbor would fit. I couldn't see it.

Jilda said, "Trust me. It will look great." She has the knack for visualization. I wish I had it, but I don't. I trusted her. 

We had our carpenter up replacing our front steps. While he was out there, Jilda asked how hard it would be to build an arbor. She described what she envisioned. He listened intently. After she finished he said, "Let me study on it." He'd pulled his truck up in the yard to unload the lumber so he backed up to the hood of his truck as he studied the front of the house. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled a pack of Pall Malls from his overall pockets, tapped one out of the pack, and lit it with his lighter. 

After a long while, he pulled a tape measure from his pockets and made some preliminary measurements. Then he returned to the hood. Pulling a pad and pencil from his pocket, he drew out a rough draft. When he showed it to Jilda, she smiled. That pencil sketch is now what stands in the front of our house. 

We planted honeysuckle and jasmine on the front posts. The honeysuckle is slow to bloom in spring, but the jasmine does not hesitate.

It rained most of the day, but it cleared enough this afternoon before dusk that I could shoot a picture of our arbor jasmine. 

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