Tuesday, December 18, 2018


The light that crept in around the blinds was muted this morning. Even the sound early morning traffic was different. More distant.

I slipped out of bed and started the coffeemaker. Peering out the window over the sink, I could see birds and squirrels getting a head start on the day.

I fetched my camera and snapped a few frames. 

It looked magical.

Monday, December 17, 2018

ChristmasTrees ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Sunday was Christmas-tree day here at the Watsons. We were hoping for sunshine. Instead, it was misting rain. There were low places on the way to Pine Hill Farms where the mist was as thick as gauze. The soles of my shoes squished in parking-lot mud, but our spirits lifted when we saw a stand of ice-blue cedars among the Christmas trees. We knew our tree was there. 
For years, we bought our trees from Mr. Frye who owned a Christmas Tree farm near Burrows Crossing. When he decided to retire, it broke our hearts.  We did some research and found Pine Hill Farms near Fultondale. Since then, it’s been our go-to place for trees. That’s where we bought our first ice-blue cedar last year.
We have a forest of Leyland Cyprus trees in our yard that are now taller than the power lines. Last year we wanted something different. We saw a lonely blue ice cedar. Jilda walked around it several times examining the color and smelling branches. 
It was a little smaller than the trees we had chosen in the past, but this little tree resonated with both of us, so we bought it. 
This year there were several ice-blues, and they were larger than last year’s trees. We squished over acres of trees before going back to the first tree we saw when we pulled up. Jilda stood guard by the tree while I went inside to settle up with the cashier.
An older gentleman at the tree farm that could have doubled as Santa helped us. He sent two young guys hustling down to dig up the tree. 
Santa guy started giving me instructions on setting up and caring for a live tree. Jilda and I both listened politely. When he paused, we told him we'd planted our last 35 Christmas trees. It took a moment for that to sink in with him. He smiled and said, "I'll get the kids to load it for you." 
It's a beautiful little tree. After Christmas, we'll find the right place on the farm where it fits and adds to the Feng shui and what not. 
On Friday, I fetched the tree decorations that we store in the barn. Again, it was rainy, but Jilda perked up a pot of her world-famous hot-apple cider, and we listened to Christmas music while decorating the tree. 
Jilda fell into a Zen’ish place (Is that a word?). While she works on the tree. I’ve learned not to talk during this delicate phase of decoration. Each bulb, icicles, and crystal angel have a place on the tree. Only my lovely spouse knows that location. My job is to fetch ornaments. This requires that I interpret grunts and other guttural sounds. It’s a process that works for us.
After decorating the tree, we went for a walk to stretch our legs. During the walk, I saw a small bush in the underbrush that provided a Christmas Deja vu experience.
Just off our walking path, was a small thorny bush. It was the same kind of bush that I cut for my mama each Christmas when I was in grammar school. That was over 50 years ago.  
Mama filled lard can with dirt for a makeshift gumdrop-tree stand. On each of the thorns, she stuck a sugary gumdrop on each thorn. The candy turned the gnarly little bush into a thing of beauty each Christmas. 
When I showed Jilda the small thorn bush and told her about our gumdrop trees at Christmas, she said that her Maw-Maw Mamie made those each year too. 
Today, after I pick up some gumdrops, we’ll start having one too. 
Below is a tree from Christmas Past.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Eggnog Santa

We ran to the grocery store this morning for some things we'll need this week. On the way home, we passed the local fire station. 

Each year they decorate for Christmas. As I drove by, I saw something that made me snort coffee out my nose.

Turning around, I went back to the parking lot and snapped a picture. 

I put it on Facebook and Instagram and said Santa is hitting the eggnog hard. There were others who found it funny too.

I hope you pre-Christmas week is a good one.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ephemeral Blue

It's rained for days. Thursday night after the Christmas parade, it began and it's only stopped to catch it's breath a time or two.

Jilda's started painting Christmas cards right after coffee this morning. She stopped long enough for us to walk the dogs. 

She slipped on her raincoat, but the skies had lightened, and by the second lap, the rain had stopped. The gray clouds moved off to the east. I smiled.

She was letting Taz the Wonder Yorkie find a place to do her business so I sat on the thinking bench and waited. 

I leaned back and snapped a picture of the sky. 

When Jilda and Taz walked up to me she said, "Don't get your hopes up. The rain is not finished."

I doubted it. But this evening as we left to go to the office Christmas party, it was pouring rain.

Ephemeral Blue

Friday, December 14, 2018

It's a rainy night in Alabama

We did a little Christmas shopping today. Well, to be truthful, Jilda shopped while I pushed a cart and nodded a lot. 

We bought gifts for our grand-nieces and nephews. Jilda has a degree from the Atlant Fashion Institute. She worked retail for years, before working at the next level at merchandise marts in Dallas and Atlanta. She knows clothes. 

I picked out a color that I thought would be perfect for our niece Breeze. Jilda shook her head. She said the feel of the fabric would drive Breeze crazy and we'd bought her a blouse the same color last year. Apparently, both were show-stoppers. 

She dug through racks of clothes that had started looking the same to me and found beautiful items for the kids. I know they will love the gifts.

It started raining last night shortly after the parade ended and it hasn't stopped. We drove home today with our windshield wipers swishing. 

Even now, I can hear rain on the roof.  

I hope you have had a good Friday. Be safe this weekend. There are crazy people out there.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Parade duty

I had to shoot pictures of the Christmas Parade tonight. My bones are weary. I'll do a better post tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Winter scene

Summertime here is oppressive. We walk daily because we have to just to stay fit. But walking in winter is a joy. This morning I felt like the Michelin man. I cacoon'd up in several layers of clothes and headed out.

We had freezing fog which is something we rarely have here. It coated leaves and limbs. I snapped a picture of the blueberry bushes which had frosty leaves. It felt good to be alive.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Looking like Christmas ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Christmas time starts off slowly. We don’t even acknowledge the holiday until the Thanksgiving turkey has digested and we’ve eaten the leftover dressing in creative ways. You haven’t had dressing until you’ve had it pressed and toasted in a waffle iron. But this past weekend, I fetched a half dozen plastic storage containers from the storage shed and each day something new appears on the mantle or in my bathroom. It’s beginning to look like Christmas here.

Christmas lights around here are blooming like flowers. Each time we drive home after dark, we see another home with lights strung around the eves and in the yard. For years my mom was the queen of Christmas yard-art. The family always spent Thanksgiving afternoon propping up plywood snowmen, sleighs with a fat Santa and his reindeer. She kept her Christmas lights in garbage bags. I know that the Good Book said that Job had patience but untangling mama’s Christmas lights would have made him cuss like a sailor.

Jilda always helped her mom Ruby decorate at her home. Ruby didn’t scrimp on Christmas decorations in her house. She had two Santa figures that stood about 18 inches tall. Those Santa figurines looked so real I half expected to hear their reindeer snort as the fat guy dragged his sack down the chimney. They were the first things you saw at Christmas when you walked into her living room.

Before Ruby died, she gave Jilda those Santas. Now they spend the Christmas holidays on our mantle.

Through the years, our friends have given us other Christmas items. Our friends Wes and Deidra gave me a fly-fishing Santa complete with a fly rod and a trout basket. Keith and Roberta Watson (no relation) gave us a small Christmas country church scene.  When Jilda worked at Wallace State College in the 1980s, her friend Beverly gave her Christmas bears.

On our coffee table is a tiny Nativity scene that Sharkey and Ruby bought us shortly after Jilda and I married. It looks as if it were carved from ivory. Once we did babysit duty for my nephew James and his wife Andrea while they attended a Christmas party. While the kids were there, Stone was fascinated with the Nativity scene. There was a small accident with the coffee table. Sheep, camels, and donkeys were scattered all around the great room. “Baby Jesus, come back," Stone pleaded as he peered under the couch. Jilda fetched a wooden pasta spoon with which we were able to reach the sleeping infant and pull it back to the safety of the Nativity scene. I laughed hard that I almost had a hygiene issue.

This weekend we’ll go to the Christmas Tree Farm where we go each year and pick out a tree that we can plant after the new year.

While she decorates (I’m not allowed to handle some of the “special ornaments”) I’ll put up the exterior decorates which include a Christmas Pig, Christmas Chicken, three small trees, and a bicycle.

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


Sunday, December 09, 2018

A good day

The schedule was sparse today. The only thing we wanted to do for sure was to pick up a Christmas tree. We chose the same kind of tree we had last year. A blue ice cedar. It's a beautiful tree.

An older gentleman at the tree farm that could have doubled as Santa, helped us. After picking out the tree and settling up with the cashier, I headed out to bring the truck up to load the tree.

Santa guy started giving me instructions on setting up and caring for a live tree. Jilda and I both listened politely. When he paused, we told him we'd planted our last 35 Christmas trees. It took a moment for that to sink in with him. He smiled and said, "I'll get the kids to load it for you." 

It's a beautiful little tree. After Christmas, we'll find the right place on the farm where it fits and adds to the feng shui and what not. 

After the tree thang, we ate left-over dumplings which are always better on the second day. Then we took a long rainy nap.

I woke up with Ol' Hook and Caillou both sitting by the couch and watching me sleep. They didn't get to walk this morning and they weren't about to let that slide. 

Even though it was late, Jilda and I took them out. Most of the heavy rain had moved off to the northeast, but there was a mist in the air thick enough to lick. 

It's been a good day. I hope yours has been too.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

It rained today

It rained today.


I had to shoot pictures in the rain.

Did I mention that it rained today?


Tonight, it's raining.


I know because it's making random rhythms on the roof.

My coat and hat hang dripping on the shower stall rack.

Jilda had chicken and dumplings cooked when I walked in the door.

Did I mention that I LOVE chicken and dumplings?

There is no better food when it's raining.

Friday, December 07, 2018

A little color on a rainy day

It felt like winter today even though the solstice is still two weeks away. I wasn't as frigid as it's been the last few days, but with a heavy mist, it felt much colder. The sky lightened once but the sun never broke through.

Today was laid back. We ran to the craft store to buy Jilda some paint to start on her Christmas cards. Afterward, we went by the produce stand. The family that ran the business since I was in high school, closed it a few months ago.

When we heard that another family was reopening, we were giddy.  We buy a LOT of fresh produce and raw honey.

We spent a good bit of time in the car and didn't have many steps so when we got back home we decided to walk.

While waiting for Jilda to get Taz the wonder Yorkie's sweater and halter on, I took the big dogs to the field and jogged in place to get some steps. The only color visible was the blueberry bushes. They are showing out right now.

I'm on call at the paper tomorrow. I'll have to shoot parade pictures, a Jingle Bell Run, and a toy distribution event at one of the local charities.

It's supposed to rain all day so it won't feel so bad having to work...or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Mushroom Village

I covered the launch of a partnership between Bevill State Community College and Mercedes-Benz this morning. It was a big deal for this community. Students who go through the co-op program have an opportunity to train with the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama and get jobs that pay more than most Liberal Arts graduates.  It's a big deal for our community. 

After the event, I came home to work at my office here. I had several stories that were on the cusp of being print-worthy so I tapped keys.

Jilda stuck her head in the door and asked if she could interest me in a brisk walk. It was still chilly outside, but the sun was out and a walk sounded good.

On the first lap, Jilda pointed out a photo op that I had missed. It was a mushroom village that appeared overnight. I thought mushroom liked warm wet weather, but apparently, there are some that wear sweaters.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Fun in the sun

Jilda was being interviewed this morning for a local documentary. The videographer talks to people about their experience growing up in small towns around the county.

Rather than have the dogs interrupt the session, I took them outside for a long walk. Our niece Samantha's dog decided to join us.

The day was beautiful again today. There was not a cloud in the sky.

Jilda said she would text me when the interview was over so when I got through walking, I found a sunny place in the garden. The wind out of the north was frigid. The temp was 41 degrees but with the windchill, it felt much colder. The sun was warm on my face.

As I sat there, I noticed pine needles falling from a nearby tree. They sailed to the ground like skinny paper airplanes. Some of them circled slowly and some came toward earth as if they were swan-diving.

Caillou and Ol' Hook were down in the woods, but Sam's dog Lady came and sat with me to enjoy the sun. Lady is a rescue dog that Samantha has had for years. She's a part of their family but when they all go to work, she ambles over to our house to spend time with her "daytime family."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Evening clouds

Yesterday it was almost warm enough to swim, but the temps started dropping last night. This morning it was chilly.

The cool weather must create deeper shades of blue because the sky was amazing today. Driving to work this morning my windshield was a picture frame. 

I covered a city council meeting and I did three interviews.  It was a fun day. When I got home the sun was sinking lower in the sky. When I looked at my Fitbit, I realized I needed more steps. 

Putting on a toboggan, and a vest I headed out for a late walk. The dogs were thrilled at this unexpected treat. 

When I got down toward the barn, I noticed the sky to the west. It was the color of orange sherbet. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a few frames with a blueberry bush in the foreground. It was almost too dark, but I think you can get an idea.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Man vs Limb ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I’ve learned a lot of things in my life, but something happened this past week that reminded me that – The more learn, the more I realize I don’t know squat. Let me explain.
A couple of weeks ago, Jilda and I took advantage of the cooler weather to go for a brisk morning walk. We decided to take the long walking path. It’s a path that I cut through a swath of our property that runs through trees that are older than me.  The limbs of oak and hickory form an awning of autumn leaves. With peak color, each step was like a Kodak Moment. The dogs were ecstatic. They chased squirrels, chipmunks, and deer. 
A thin layer of wood smoke hung in the air from a neighbor’s fireplace. This is our favorite time of year.
Winding down one side of the hollow near the barn, we came upon a small tree that had blown down a few nights before when a cold front moved through. We tried to find a way around it, but the under bush was thick and tangled with saw briers. Neither of us wanted to walk through vines with thorns as big as tiger’s teeth, so we turned and headed back the way we came.
Last Saturday, I decided to clear the downed tree from our path. Gassing up the chainsaw, I headed down to do the deed. The wind had blown several limbs and other debris in the path which I cleared. 
The top of the tree had gotten tangled in muscadine vines and was suspended about head high. In my head, I calculated the trajectory of the tree once I cut the thick vines holding it up. Apparently, my math was all wrong because when I cut the last vine the top of the tree didn’t fall in the intended direction. In fact, a limb the size of my forearm whipped back toward me at blinding speed. 
I didn’t have time to flinch before the limb whacked me across my nose and eyes. It raked the glasses from my face taking gouges of hide with it. I dropped the chainsaw and hit the ground with an uuummmpppphhhh! 
It took a second for me to get my breath back and then my nose started “bleeding like a stuck hog.” 
Picking up the chainsaw with one hand and holding my nose with the other, I headed home. I had enough foresight to stop at the backyard hosepipe and wash the blood from my hands and nose before walking inside. Jilda still almost had a coronary.
After cleaning the cuts on my nose, we were able to survey the damage. My nose was not broken, and the cuts were not as deep as I feared. With our first aid kit, I was able to fix my face. It did look as though I’d gone ten rounds with Joe Frasier, but I was thankful it wasn’t worse. I’d dodged a bullet – too bad I couldn’t have dodged that limb.
Part of our walking path

Sunday, December 02, 2018

13th Blogiversary

I wrote my first blog entry on this day, December 2, 2005. So today is my 13th Blogiversary. I just looked at my Blogger numbers and I have a few posts shy of 5,000.

When I first started, coming up with entries was easy. I was writing for the high school alumni website and my audience was for people who grew up here. I was full of stories.

As the days turned into weeks, months, and years I found that the ideas were more scarce. I had to look within for inspiration. Sometimes the words flowed like cold water from a well dipper. Sometimes the words came slower. But they came.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write daily. The professional bloggers didn't advocate daily blogging but they said it was important to be consistent.

After a few years, I convinced my wife Jilda to blog too. I wasn't sure she'd take to it, but she did. She's been at it a long time too.

The thing I tell people who ask why I blog is this: Blogging regularly helps you find your voice. And I think that is important. Being able to express oneself is a skill that can help throughout life.

We spent time with Jilda's siblings today. Now it's time to put on some Christmas music, pour a glass of red wine, and toast bloggers across the world.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Happy Birthday Mama

Today would have been my mama's 94th birthday had she lived.  I've written a great deal about her in the past.

She was the middle child in a family with 13 kids. She knew the value of work and she could stretch a dollar enough to make it cover a football field.

My dad got a job as a welder. Craftsmen didn't earn much in those days. We ate a lot of butterbeans and cornbread. That was fortunate for me because I loved butterbeans and cornbread. 

When I was a kid, women didn't work outside the home. They cooked, cleaned, washed, starched, and ironed. She did that for not only us also but also for people in the community that were more affluent. She used this money to buy things...mostly for us kids.

Christmas was a big deal for her. She cooked for weeks before the holiday. She baked pies, cookies, and other goodies.

She loved putting up the tree each year. Ours had tinsel, old ornaments, and bubble lights that fizzed when they warmed up.

My mama taught all of us kids the value of work. Slothfulness was an ugly word to her. A few of our kinfolks "wouldn't hit a lick at a snake," as she used to say. She always warned us – "Be like them and you'll never have anything."

Being lazy was close to being a sin to her.  Even now, when I get caught up with the things on my todo list, I feel a little guilty for taking time off. 

Happy birthday, mama, I miss you.

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required