Saturday, June 30, 2018

Thriving in the humidity

When the humidity is as thick as lard, critters with lungs have a hard time breathing. We have to hit the ground running each morning before the mercury leaps.

There are things that enjoy the humidity – mushrooms. We've seen thousands of mushrooms. Red, orange, blue, gold and of course the ones the color of turds.

I saw an interesting one today. At first, I thought it was a dogwood blossom. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a mushroom.  It seemed to be thriving.

I'm glad there are things that enjoy the heat and humidity.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Party time

We attended a birthday party this evening. We have a passel of nieces and nephews. And, all of our nieces and nephews have young'uns. My nephew James and his wife Andrea have a litter of kids – five in all. All the way from 9 months to 16 years.

When they had the baby last year, I asked them if they know what causes them to have children. They both seemed baffled.

The birthday party today was a pool party at the country club. I'm not a member, but one of my nephews is and they invited us. 

Jilda and I sat under the covered patio. It was toasty, but the ceiling fans made it bearable. The kids had a blast.

I snapped pictures. This is a small part of the crew. Jilda will post some others.

The kids are growing so fast. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Maybe next time

Storms swept through this afternoon and blew our power to Georgia. I had a council meeting to cover tonight so when Jilda got home, I had to head out. I left her in the dark with the dogs.

She called a few minutes later to say the power was back on. That made me happy.''

My nephew called a few minutes ago and he was going to have to walk a mile or so to get to his house because of downed trees. It's a mess.

As I was driving home with two orders of spicy fried chicken in my front seat, I looked off to the west and a beautiful sunset was just below a line of menacing clouds. Had a car not been on my bumper, I would have pulled over and snapped a picture. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How my afternoon went

My editor sent me a note yesterday and asked me to contact a local poet that has a new book coming out. When I sent him a note yesterday afternoon, he responded immediately. He said, "You don't remember me do you?" I didn't.

About ten years ago, a young songwriter contacted Jilda and me and asked if we'd consider helping him with a song. A local playwright had asked him to write an original composition for a play he'd written. A local drama club had selected his play and he wanted some original music.

We agreed. It was fun working with the young songwriter and the playwright invited us to opening night. It was a good experience. I was proud of those kids.

Turns out, the playwright is the poet. He's had an impressive career writing plays and books.

I met him this afternoon for a short interview for a story in the paper, but we talked for well over an hour. As I took pictures, a storm moved in from the west. When the interview was over, we both had to squat and dash to our cars because lightning was slamming down all around us.

About 300 yards before I got home, I came upon a truck stopped in the road with flashing lights. The storms had blown a tree across the road.

Pulling out my cell, I called a neighbor. He was there within three minutes with a chainsaw and soon the road was clear.

So that's how my afternoon went. How about yours?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Talking about my hometown

My friend Terrell interviewed me a few days ago. He's working on a project to highlight the small communities around our county. He knew I grew up in Dora so he asked me about growing up there.

Afterward, he shot pictures. Not long after he started taking the pictures, the rain began. The old log cabin on the Bevill State College campus was just up the hill, We stepped up there. Both of us were huffing by the time we climbed the hill.

He wanted to ensure he got a good picture. I wasn't in a hurry, I did something I'm usually instructing people to do. Look over here. Sit there. Do this. Do that.

The story and photo hit Facebook today. I was humbled and flattered by the comments.

Both Jilda and I are bushed this evening, so after I punch PUBLISH tonight, I'm making the sleepy time tea and turning in early.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Signal Corps Ping Triggers Memories ~ my column from Sunday's paper

When I walked off the tarmac in Charleston, South Carolina in 1973, I told myself, "I'll never wear green again." Two years in the Army was enough for me. Just after Uncle Sam drafted me, the military went all volunteer. It took a few years for the idea to take hold. The draft remained in place, but they didn’t draft as many people as they did in the late 60s and early 70s. 
There were only a few items of clothing I held on to when I left. I kept my fatigues, my Army-green baseball cap, my combat boots, a field jacket and my Signal Corps school unit crest. I tossed the pin, along with a few other souvenirs into a cedar box that I'd brought home from Panama as a keepsake. I like the smell of that box. It took some poor soul hours of their life to carve it. I paid $3 for it in an import/export shop in Colon. That’s the city on the Bay of Colon on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. 
Every now and then, I'll go back through my keepsake box. I’ve spent hours looking through my Army souvenirs and the photographs from that time in my life. 
Today, I flipped open the carved cedar box to look for an old pocketknife my dad had given me. The knife wasn't in the box but under the cufflinks, broken watches, and old keys to locks I no longer have, I found my Signal Corps pin. 
Picking it up, I shined it on the pant leg before stepping over to the window to get a better look at the pin. The morning light coming through the opened blinds shined on the Latin Motto on the bottom of the pin.  Pro Patria Vigilans. It translates to "Watchful for Country." The moment triggered a thread of
memory about my time in the Army.
On the day my letter from Uncle Sam told me to report to duty, I waited on the MissAla Bus at Woolworths in Jasper. I had two eggs over medium, grits, sausage, biscuits and three cups of coffee. Woolworths was buzzing that morning, and it took a while to get my food. I ate quickly and was heading to the bathroom when one of the guys waiting for the Montgomery-bound bus shouted down the counter -"The Army bus is here." I figured, Oh well. I hit the bathroom on the bus.  Wrong decision. There was no bathroom on the bus. When I told the driver I needed to go to the bathroom, he glanced in a mirror that was as wide as his seat and shook his head.  That was the longest three hours of my life.
The Army was an interesting experience and helped my body get into excellent condition. I could run forever then. 
I spent almost six months at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, which is not far from New York City. I loved New York City, though I've never felt more alone. 
The 18 months I spent in the tropics in Panama was like an extended beach vacation. We had 25 cent beers in the Coke machine in our barracks. I could pick fresh mangos through a torn screen beside a window by my bunk. 
I made some of the best friends I've ever had there. Even though I haven't heard from some of them in many years, I know that if I called them for help, they would come. 
Many of the opportunities I've had in my life were afforded me because of my military service. 
I'm glad I kept the pin. When viewed through the lens of history, the time I spent in green wasn't that bad. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Blame it on the stars

Today had been one wonky day. I won't bore you with details, but let's just say I'm beginning to believe all the new age stuff about planets in retrograde.

I didn't even take a picture today. So tonight, as I sat down to type, I browsed through my Google Photos at a picture I took in June of 2014.

I hope your day has been less strange.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

How our morning went

When I opened my eyes this morning, I didn't follow my routine. Typically, when I awake, I get up and shuffle to the kitchen to punch the brew button on the coffeemaker. But this morning I laid there.

The light coming from around the blinds had a different hue. Off in the distance, I could hear thunder. I knew it would be only a matter of time before Caillou came in. In less than 20 seconds he left his bed in front of the living room windows and came into the bedroom. He HATES storms.

I rolled out of bed, walked to the kitchen, and started the coffee before I sat on the couch to comfort my friend. Ol' Hook was on his bed nearby sawing logs. He's deaf, and he was oblivious to the impending storms.

Jilda got up when she heard the coffeemaker beeping, and we sipped our coffee and watched the storm pass. 

We both have unread magazines on the coffee table, so we read. 

About an hour later, the carafe still had enough to top off our mugs, so we decided to retire to the screen porch and get a sense of what the day had in store for us. By then, Ol' Hook realized he was late for duty and came out to join us. 

We're in a weird weather pattern, and another storm was on the heels of the first one. The light changed dramatically within a few moments. When I stepped over to the screen to look into the sky, I could see the streetlight in the corner of our yard had come back on. More thunder.

Soon we could hear the rain drumming on our metal roof. The windchimes began playing a disconcerting melody. We could feel a fine mist blowing through the screen on our faces.

Just as soon as it came up, the clouds raced off menacing folks to the east.

And that was how our morning went.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Jasmine Act II

We've had a lot of rain these last few days. That's a good thing. The temps for the last few weeks have been brutal and baked the ground as hard as asphalt. 

It was pretty this morning with a cool breeze blowing out of the northwest but we knew it wouldn't last. The radar showed a storm as big as half of Mississippi stomping its way eastward. When I stepped out onto the front steps to get an analog weather report, I noticed the Jasmine is blooming again. I thought it was finished until next year, but no it's having another go. 

We decided to get some steps in before the rain came. On the final lap, we met Jordan on the walking toward us on barn road. His Nana was with him. We left them walking and headed in.

Jilda went in to start breakfast and I grabbed a basket to pick a few blueberries. I'd picked over a gallon before the sun came out and the humidity spiked. 

I walked inside dripping. 

Jordan decided to join us for breakfast. Jilda had baked some bacon and whipped up some scrambled eggs. Yum.

That got the day off to a good start. I wish every day could start that way.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fun day at work

I lunched with a colleague today. He's been helping me navigate the way the stories and pictures flow through their system. Before now, I was simply sending stuff in and hoping it got to the right person.
The colleague has been patient and very helpful. The least I could do was buy him lunch.

He's been in the business. When I asked him the question I ask most people at some point, is: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"

He smiled and said, "This." Meaning, working in media writing stories about politics and the inner workings of government. He's good at it.

I told him about something I'd written on my New Year's resolutions for years which was, to take pictures and tells stories. I told him I'd worked for years at a job to make a living. Now I'm doing work that I love.

Yesterday, a guy that does the county's chamber of commerce Facebook page asked if I'd be interested in letting them interview me. I said sure. So after lunch, I spent an hour or so talking and posing for pictures. I'll share the post once it goes live.

On the way home, I swung by the lake that's not far from here. I've posted similar pictures in the past, but the sky was beautiful after a morning rain. So I took a picture.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The arrangement is a gift

Jordan and his cousin Breeze spent the day with us today. I wrote my column a few days ago so I had the day off. Jilda and I had a hoot with them.

We went for an early morning walk, and of course, they had to do the obligatory thinking pose. I wanted to smack them both. Later when we got back from our walk, Jilda started making waffles with fresh blueberries. She also baked some bacon.

While the food cooked, I picked berries a while until the sun came from behind the clouds and super-heated my hat. I'd only picked a little more than a gallon but I was sweating buckets. I left ripe berries on the bush to go in for water. That hurt.

The back door had accidentally been locked, so walked around front through the side gate. On the screen porch, the music was blaring. Jordan and Breeze were dancing some dance I'd never seen. I think they made it up on the spot. I stopped a distance away and watched. Seeing the two of them dancing with wild abandon made me smile.

I love that our nieces and nephews allow their kids to spend time with us. I know it's convenient for them to have a place where they know the kids will be fed and watched after, but we enjoy it. The arrangement is a gift.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Productive day

I slammed and jammed today. Before I headed home just after 1 pm, I'd covered a city council meeting and done four interviews.

The meeting was routine, but I felt at home doing the interviews. Summer reading programs for kids, and a lady promoting the area around the Forks which is one of my favorite places on the planet.

Then I interviewed two teachers in an effort to find the answer to the age-old question that kids ask: "I wonder what teachers do in the summertime."

I can't share much about the pieces, but once published I might post them on my blog.

So today was productive. I hope your day was a hoot too.

Monday, June 18, 2018

LIfe on my front porch

Some of my favorite memories from childhood revolve around our front porch.

Our camp house stood on a hillside next to Sloss Hollow Road. The pine boards on the outside walls were covered with imitation brick siding. That’s a fancy way of saying tarpaper with grit on one side was made to look like bricks.

The place was unremarkable, except for the front porch that spanned the width of the house. On one end was a squeaky swing that hung on chains attached to the rafters. From early spring to late autumn, I entertained myself on that swing each evening while waiting for my dad to get home from work.

I could hear him coming before he came into view. The hubcaps on the old Pontiac station wagon made a whistling sound as he approached. When I heard the whistling, I stepped off the porch and waited for him on the front steps. Inside, I could hear the clatter of forks and spoons on plates as my mom set the table for supper.

After stepping out of his car, he’d stand there and stretch the miles off his legs before heading inside. He’d act like he didn’t see me sitting a few feet away. When he did, he’d snatch me up under his arm and carry me into the kitchen like a “sack of taters.” That short jiggling journey made me giggle uncontrollably. 

Our whole family sat down and ate supper together every night.  

After supper, Daddy usually went to the front porch and smoked a few cigarettes while watching lightning bugs and taking stock of the day. Sometimes neighbors would holler from the next yard or from across the road to share some hometown news or get a garden update. I miss those times on that old front porch.

Life moves fast. These days it seems we have little time to spend on front porches. In fact, a lot of folks don’t have front porches. Instead of unwinding before bed to the sound of whip-o-wills and train whistles, we’re glued to TVs, computers, and smartphones. Our bliss is stolen by the harsh glow thrown off by electronic light.

When we built our house in 1983, the floor plan we chose included a stoop, but the old folk would have chided me: “There’s barely enough room out there to put a comfortable chair. Where will you shell your peas? And where are you going to put your swing?” 

At the time I was too busy working at a job, going to school, and climbing a career ladder that leaned against a wall somewhere in the city. When I got home in the evenings, there was little time for front-porch sitting.

After I retired, we built an arbor over our stoop and planted jasmine. Beside the stoop, we put a garden bench in the shade of the water oak. These days you can often find me sitting on the garden bench reading or watching the birds and squirrels. There aren’t that many cars that come down our dead-end road, but when they do, I always wave as they pass. Sometimes a neighbor will pull into the drive and sit with me long enough to share some news. 

It’s not a front porch, but it’s the next best thing.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

I miss my Pop

My dad could out-weld your dad and he could nap longer in a boat floating down the Warrior River. 
He also holds the world record for longest string of profanity uttered while working on a car. He was an artist when it came to putting together interesting combinations of cuss words. 
Farm animals, common hand tools, and body parts were all part of his cussing palette.
I miss my Pop.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Day of rest

Today was a day of rest. I slept until after 7 this morning which is unheard of for me. After coffee and reading the paper, Jilda and I picked up a few groceries for a small dinner we're having tomorrow. Other than that, I've been slothful. The blueberries need picking, some of the grass needs cutting, and so on. but I took a two-hour nap and woke myself up with a snore.

This evening I did drive to Lowe's to pick up some things I need for tomorrow to repair an outdoor bench. But on the way, I stopped for gas and picked up a cup of boiled peanuts. When I opened the styrofoam container in the truck, steam rose from the lid. They are messy and make my steering wheel sticky, but that's a small price to pay. 

Rolling down the windows, I punched in a CD of Jason Isbell and cranked it up. I ate sloppy peanuts and tossed the biodegradable shells out the window. 

Tonight, it's only 9 p.m. but both of us are yawning. It will be an early bedtime.

Happy Father's Day tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Wrung out

We had fun on our gig tonight, but it was hotter than Satan munching habaneros. Thankfully clouds covered the setting sun about 30 minutes before showtime which allowed the temps to drop. A breeze out of the west was a godsend.

The only pic I have tonight was from five years ago today. It is a Rose-a-Sharon. They're blooming in our yard now. The white and purple.

I feel like I've been wrung out. Adios.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Intoxicating aroma

We knew the sun would be hot today so we shoe'd up earlier than normal. While Jilda put the walking harness on our Yorkie Taz, I flipped to the weather app on my phone to look at the forecast. The temp here was 79 degrees with 80 percent humidity. That's thick enough to lick out of the air.

When I rounded into the driveway on the last leg of the lap, a hedgerow of gardenias greeted us. The flowers look as if they were carved from ivory. It's a beautiful welcoming committee this time of year. I snapped one off and held it to my nose. The fragrance sends me. 

I covered a city council meeting tonight and I didn't get home until just before 8 p.m. When I stepped from my truck and began gathering up my computer, camera, and water bottle, the scent of the blooming gardenias was intoxicating. The fragrance hung on the air like a promise. I wish computers had a scratch n' sniff feature so that you could get a sense of their aroma.

I'm off tomorrow.  We have a gig tomorrow night with our friend Joe Greg Winsett. We're excited. Several friends say they plan to be there. It should be fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


After our morning walk, Jilda and I fetched our blueberry buckets and headed to the field. A few bushes ripened early so picking those berries was simple. Now the other 15 plants are blue with berries and it takes much longer. We picked for over an hour today. Jilda picked a gallon and I picked almost two. By Friday, there will be that many more. 

I pick the fattest berries from each bush to gauge the sweetness of the fruit on each bush. One of the oldest plants is by far my favorite. We planted it so long ago that I don't remember the variety. If I did, I would order more. 

By seasons end, we'll have enough blueberries to last us through fall and winter...and we eat a lot of blueberries.

If you've never tried to grow blueberries, they are quite easy. Just look at a supplier like Stark Brothers and on their website, they will show berries that will thrive in your area.

Plant them shallow and mulch them with pine bark. Make sure they get water in the summer. We usually get berries the second year and by year three, they will make you very happy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Do what you love

I interviewed a couple today who are living their dream. Both of them commuted to Birmingham daily for over 20 years and worked jobs that weren't a fit for them. She'd attended culinary school and wanted to work with food. Her father kept discouraging her. "There's no money in what you want to do." 

A few years ago, her mother died unexpectedly. Even though he mother was not a spring chicken, she died before her time. 

The couple looked at each other and said, "Life is too short to wasted time on things you don't love."

They bought a big truck and converted it into a rolling kitchen. I won't say much more because the story hasn't appeared in print yet, but I think it will be a good one.

As I drove home from the interview and thought – I should play them the song we wrote called "Do What You Love." I know they'd get it.

Below is another picture I took a few days ago at the Sipsey Forks.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Love of songwriting

Putting words to music is something I’ve done for most of my life. Even before I learned to play the guitar, I made up ditties to familiar tunes. I had Old McDonald doing things that had nothing to do with animal husbandry. Looking back, I’m sure they were lame, but now and then I’d have one so funny my friends would snort Grapico out their noses. I lived for those gems. I knew then that songwriting was in my blood.

One summer Saturday my friend Donnie Pinion asked if I’d like to go camping down on the backwater down below Dora. The backwater is a natural lake that flows into the Black Warrior River. 

Never passing up an opportunity to spend time near the water, I agreed. We took my dad’s old pickup. I wasn’t old enough to have a license then, but my folks let me drive the pickup as long as I stayed on the backroads.

By the time I picked up Donnie, I had several other guys that wanted to go too, so they rode in the bed of the truck. Donnie tossed in his pack, his fishing gear, and an old guitar. The old ax looked as though it had seen it’s better days, but when he pressed the strings hard enough, it sounded pretty good.

We fished until dark before building a campfire. It was then that Donnie took his guitar and started to play. After a few songs, he asked if I wanted to give it a try.  The neck of the guitar felt awkward in my hand. The strings left indentions in my fingers when I tried making the chords, but I liked the buzzing I heard. 

The first song he taught me to play was "Green Green Grass of Home" sung by Porter Wagner. After a few hours of instruction, I was able to stumble my way through the song. 

When I got home, I borrowed an old Silvertone guitar from my cousin Mickey and practiced until my fingers bled. The Porter Wagoner hit had been one of my mother’s favorite songs. I played the tune so many times that afterward, she’d punch the station button on the car radio whenever the song came on. 

I learned three chords, and with those, I could play any country song written. 

It was only a matter of time before I started writing songs of my own. They were sappy songs about dogs, hunting, and fishing which were the important things in my life at that time. Thankfully, none of those early songs survived. 

But here’s the thing – the more you practice, the better you get. The same was true for songwriting. Fortunately, I married someone who loves music and writing songs as much as I do.

This past weekend, we invited one of our songwriting buddies over to write a new song. Joe Greg Winsett showed up at 2 p.m., and we began writing an idea I’d been kicking around.  For the next two hours we wrote and laughed, but the words flowed.  We haven’t had that much fun in a long time. The title of the song was, "Coffee."

Joe Greg will join Jilda and me along with Joe’s friend Dave on the patio at Lavish Coffee in Jasper on June 15 at 7 p.m. if you’d like to come by and hear the new tune. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Decoration Day

Today was decoration day at Davis Cemetery where my people are buried. Digging back through the archives a few years ago, I discovered that my grandmother was a Davis.

I tried several times to run my family tree, but there seemed to be some broken limbs. Then by pure coincidence, I bought an old copy of the City of Dora Centennial book that came out in the 80s. It mentioned that the property for Davis Cemetery was donated by a woman and it detailed the family history back to the Spanish American War. 

My everyone called my grandmother's father Colonel Davis. She was in the nursing home when I asked her if she remembers his real name. She didn't. But she did say she thought she'd written it down in her bible. When she went into the nursing home, someone in the family got her bible as they were cleaning out her old house. Everyone I asked had no idea. 

Then as providence would have it, just after I read the Davis family history in the Centennial book, I happened to talk to my cousin. I asked her if she had Mama Watson's bible. she said that she'd gotten it to keep it safe. I asked if I could see the front pages. 

Later, I went over to her house and flipped the cover open. It gave her father's name and her grandfather's name.  BAM! These names were mentioned in the Centennial book. I've since gone to the cemetery and taken pictures of all of their gravestone. 

This morning as I sat under a tent collecting donations. The money we collect goes into a fund used to keep the old cemetery maintained.  We rarely collect enough money and we wind up scrounging around to make up the difference. But it's rewarding work.

The picture below has nothing to do with this post. I shot it yesterday morning at the home of Jilda's brother.

I hope it's been a good Sunday for you all.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

No mystery

For a month I've been trying to track down my friend Leo who hangs out at the Sipsey Forks. Each time I stopped by, the guys would say, "You just missed him. Or "He’ll be back after while." For Leo, after while could mean in 20 minutes, or in November.

Today, I took a chance that he'd be there even though it was in the mid-90s here. It was after 4 p.m. when I wheeled into the lot. Leo was there holding court. There were six other guys sitting around telling lies and watching the river flow.

I asked a few questions to get things started but the light was wrong to get a good picture of him and the guys. So I made an appointment to be back Monday at 7 a.m. If the forecast doesn't call for a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or swarms of locusts, he'll be there.

Packing up my camera to head out, I heard one of the guys say, "There's old blue." When I glanced toward the water, I saw a Blue Heron sitting on a log looking for supper. He was about 30 yards away. Clicking the lens cap off my camera, I stepped over to the water's edge. The heron looked at me curiously for a moment, and then went back to fishing. I snapped off several frames before he got bored and flew further up river.  I have an incredible picture of him taking flight, but I want to include it in the story I'm writing about the Sipsey Forks Boys.

It's no mystery why  these guys return to this place every day.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday fun

The mimosa trees are blooming here. We noticed them a few days ago when driving to Birmingham. The hillside beside the Interstate was a pink cloud that changed color from fuschia to almost white.

We had mimosa trees in our yard in Sloss Hollow when I was growing up. The blossoms are tiny pink
stems smaller than a thread. They look ethereal.

When those trees are in bloom, the hummingbirds are in heaven. Each tree has thousands of blooms. The only downside to them is they are invasive. The pods they produce look like green butterbeans. Apparently, birds find them tasty, because they gobble the seeds and their digestive system doesn't consume the seeds.  When the birds poop, a new mimosa is born.  And so on.

We had a few growing along our garden several years ago. And then we had a grove. Before long, we had a forest. A guy came. He had a bobcat with a grinder on the front. It made short work of those mimosas.  Now we can grow things in our garden. But, the mimosas are still beautiful.

Fast forward to this evening. Our neighbor called and said I have something I want to show you. He was cryptic on the phone. He owns proper not far from us that goes all the way to the Mulberry River.

I went to get the scoop. When we were on his Polaris (an all-terrain vehicle about the size of a golf cart), he said, "There's an eagle's nest down here with two eaglets in it." All of a sudden, my interest spiked.

We wobble down an old fire lane road toward the river. About a half mile from his barn he cut the engine and pointed into the pines. "There, in the forks of the pine. See it?" he said. I did.

We sat for a long time looking at the nest to see movement from the chics, but nada. I made my best eaglets sounds. OK, I have no idea what an eaglets sound like, but I tried. Nothing. My friend said he'd had the best luck early morning. He said if I was an early riser, we'd head out one morning and see if we could see the mama and her chics.

I told him I would be back. And I will I'd love to get some pictures of an eagle and her babies.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

River duck

I've been trying to track down my river buddy Leo. We discussed doing a story about fishing and whatnot back in early spring. He was all for it, but even though he's been retired for 20 years, he's a busy man. He cuts the grass of all the widow-women at his church, and he fishes every chance he gets. He ain't got to time for no stinkin' story, there's fishin' to do. I get it.

I haven't stopped by the Sipsey Forks all week because I've been busy but I had some time today. On the way down there I leaned close to the steering wheel to get a better view of the sky through my windshield. It was in the mid-90s but the clouds were stunning. 

When I got to the Forks, there was not a car on the lot. Apparently, the old guys bailed to spend more time in front of the AC.

I pull up close to the end of the parking lot to take advantage of a narrow strip of shade. Stepping out of the truck, I saw two water bottles someone had thrown on the ground. I knew the regulars would pick them up in the morning, but I decided to grab them and toss them in the back of my truck. I'm recycling plastic now, so I'd put them in my bag.

When I stepped closer to the water, I saw three mallards sitting on the bank watching the river flow. They must have become regulars because they barely gave me a glance.

Stepping back to the truck, I fetched my camera and snapped off a few frames. 

I thought to myself, even though I didn't catch Leo, the stop wasn't wasted.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Practice makes....

The new camera I bought last week has so many features it's taking time to get used to them. Using the settings that were useful on the old camera comes up short on the new one.

But practice time is paying off. The pictures are looking better. It will still take a while to get where I want to be. 

Today, as I drove by the small lake not far from our house, I saw Queen Ann's Lace growing on the banks.  Glancing in the rearview, the coast was clear. I hopped and snapped a few frames. I was hoping to catch the geese, but they were hiding in the shallows under the shade of some willow trees. They glanced over as if to say, come back this evening when it's cooler. I get that.

I hope you have a great Thursday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

I voted

Today was election day here in Alabama. I covered a city council meeting this morning, but just after, Jilda and I drove to Birmingham for the visitation of one of our songwriting buddies. 

He was 80 but he lived large. He was a Vietnam vet and a decent human being. It broke my heart to see him go.

On the way home, we swung through our polling place and cast our lot. State elections can be a little sad. Turnout is expected to be around 26 percent. So a very few people decided on the decisionmakers for the state.  It's hard to believe that everyone is not invested in the political process. It's easy to bitch (excuse my French) on Facebook about what's going on locally, but apparently, it's much harder to drive to a local polling place and cast a vote for change. It's a mystery to me.

I would never do it, but by voting today, I feel I have a right to complain on Facebook if I wanted to.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Horse tale

We had some things that needed to go to the post office today, so after lunch when Jilda headed to work, I went.

About a hundred yard from our driveway, I saw someone on a four-wheeler speeding onto the road. I keep a close eye on the kids around here. Slowing down, the road ahead and behind was clear, I saw a young girl waving her arms to get my attention and she needed me to slow down. I did.

After she sped onto the road, I eased in behind her and I saw what was going on. One of her horses had escaped and was running down the middle of the road. She was afraid a car would hit her beloved Sissy.

In a few moments, she had the critters bridle, and she was walking him back to their pasture. I rolled down the window to see if she needed help but she said she had it. She thanked me for catching on to what was going on with her horse. No need, I told her.

I watched her in the in the rearview mirror to make sure she was managing. She was. I should not have been surprised because she's ridden horses for most of her life.

On the way to the post office, I got to thinking that she and her horse would make a good picture. I called her grandad and asked if he thought it would be OK to do a brief interview for the paper. He asked her and she said she'd love to.

I ran by their house on the way home and got a few good pictures and did a short interview. It will probably run one day this week. When it does, I'll post the pics.

But tonight, all I have is a gardenia. This one is among the thousands blooming along our driveway.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Some days are funner

Jilda and I have been looking forward to today for weeks. We'd contacted our songwriting buddy Joe Greg and invited him over to write a song.  

He works at a steel mill, and the company has punched his dance card. He rarely gets a day off, but he took a vacation day today to write with us.

When he arrived, we took a while to catch up before we started on a bluesy song idea Jilda and I had been kicking around. We had the riff, but the lyrics didn't resonate. 

Five minutes in, and I knew we'd nail it. 

The next hour and a half zipped by.  We laughed, so hard I snorted water out my nose. When Joe Greg packed up his guitar and walked out, we'd finished a song. It's entitled Coffee. 

When we get a decent recording of it, I'll post a link. It needs some killer lead from Joe Greg's friend Dave, some harp from our friend Andrew, and the recording magic of our friend Fred.

We have fun most days, but some days are funner. 

Today was one of those days.

Solar jars charging on the deck. Pic was taken with my new camera

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Yard full of young'uns

We hit the ground running this morning. After swilling a few cups of coffee, we walked the dogs. The weatherman said it would be beautiful today. He was right. He also said it would be hotter than Satan slamming jalapenos poppers. 

The thermometer at 10 a.m. was on 82 with 79 percent humidity.  My teeshirt was like wearing an aqua sweater and I'm not talking about the color.

After the walk, the dogs collapsed in front of the box fan in our bedroom. We grabbed baskets and headed out to pick blueberries. We were on a roll.

While Jilda designed decoration flowers for the graves of our loved ones, I cut grass. By day's end, I'd cut about 8 acres. The place looks like a golf course without out the flags and holes...sort of. 

This evening, Jilda was about to throw on some salmon steaks for supper when we got a call from the misfits in the picture below. My niece Samatha was babysitting for her brother. His four girls were at her house. Her son Jordan was ricocheting off the walls. She wanted to put up a badminton set in our field down by the apple tree. 

It was a change of plans. I helped Sam put up the net and get everything set. We snapped a picture during a Kool Aid break.  We left them to their fun but not before snapping a picture.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Mad Money

Most of the money I earn goes into the family till. We're both fond of eating, having lights that come on when we flip the switch, water when we turn to the spigot, and so on.

I do work on the side writing newspaper columns, taking pictures, doing websites, and other things to make my MadMoney. That's the money that goes into the hidden stash. I buy larger-ticket items with my MadMoney.

When I started working part-time at the paper, one of my duties is to take photographs. I had an old digital camera that was great back in the day, but it was acting wonky at inopportune times. I could check out a camera from the press room, but all the reporters use those cameras, and I wouldn't be able to keep one with me to use.

I'd been saving my MadMoney since the first of the year. I'd spend a little here and there, but for the most part, I let it grow.

I decided to spring for a new digital camera. Months of research and comparing models, features, and prices were exhausting. I'm partial to Canon because the first REAL camera I bought while I was in the Army in 1972 was a Canon FTb. That was a great camera. The next camera I purchased was a Canon F1. It was state of the art when I bought it in 74. I paid for it on the installment plan.

About 10 years ago, I bit the bullet and went digital. I bought a used Canon EOS 10D. I used it to shoot football, festivals, and other web-related work.

Then, the iPhones camera made incredible strides. I use my phone a great deal because it's always in my pocket. But when it comes to shooting pictures for the paper, it's not a fit.

Which brings me to this week. I dug up my MadMoney from under the sycamore tree (not really) and ordered a new Canon 80D. The UPS guy delivered it today. It's markable device. I spent the afternoon watching training videos and learning how it works. I'm excited.

I walked outside in a thunderstorm to shoot a picture of our butterfly bush with my new camera.

Stay tuned.

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