Saturday, September 21, 2019

Zinnia art

I spent most of the day today learning about bees. Yesterday was informative, but today it got down in the trenches.

The most important thing I've learned is that I don't know much about beekeeping. The thing is, most of the master at the craft say the same thing.

It was fun.

I'll leave you with Zinnia art.




Friday, September 20, 2019

Learning about bees

Jilda and I got up early this morning and headed a few hours south. The annual state beekeeping conference was in Clanton this weekend.

Planners packed the day with speakers whose topics ranged from backyard beekeeping to using bee stinging therapy.

Being new to beekeeping I'm sure there was a great deal of information that whizzed over my head like UFO's heading to Area 51.

Like learning most new things, you sometimes must let the information wash over. You'll pick up bits and pieces and then somewhere down the road it will click.

The session just before lunch ran a little short, which gave Jilda and me a chance to get close to the front of the chow line. Call me anything, except late for lunch.

When we finished, we headed outside to spend some time in the shade. 

The temp had dropped considerably today and there was a breeze out of the west. We blissed out for a while before heading to our afternoon sessions.

I was a fun and informative day.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ceremony

I had an assignment to take pictures at a VFW ceremony honoring soldiers who were prisoners of war or missing in action.

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts were on hand to offer assistance by passing out programs and commemorative flags.

Thankfully, a bank of clouds shaded the courthouse square during the ceremony.  The crowd gathered was attentive even when the PA system hummed annoyingly. They always do that no matter how solemn the occasion.

When a woman sang the National Anthem, you could tell the veterans in the crowd. While most people covered their heart with their hands, even ancient veterans stood statue straight and saluted. 

As the speakers talked about POWs and MIAs, I surveyed the crowd, and many had tears in their eyes. 

I love that our town takes time to remember and honor the sacrifices that were made for them. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Need some rain

There is no rain in sight so I did the first step in my Bring On the Rain routine. I washed my truck. In years past, this is practically a sure-fire way to make it rain.

A few years ago a local weatherman said he would bet the farm that there would be no rain. That afternoon, I washed my truck. Pulling out of the carwash it started drizzling. A few miles down the road, it poured.  My windshield wipers clicked all the way home. The weatherman now lives in a house trailer at the edge of town. I hated to do that to the guy, but we needed rain.

If it doesn't rain within the next few days we'll move to phase two and start using our grandmother's joo-joo-moe-joe spells.  We don't do it first because once when we did it, we got locusts instead of rain.

The last thing we do is the midnight butt nakid' backyard rain dance. It's not pretty, but when the ground is dry and as hard a slate, I'd do just about anything to bring on the rain.



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Barbed wire

I got a text from my nephew today. I guessed what he was asking but I couldn't help but have a little fun at his expense. It went like this:

Nephew: Do you have and barbed wire around the house?

Me: No but I have bad dogs. Should we install barbed wire around the house?

My nephew ignored the reply but I knew it made him smile.

Nephew: I just need an inch or two.

Me: Don't we all?

As it turns out, he needed a little barbed wire for a promotion that he was working on.

The thing about the barn is that there are many farm-related things down there that have not been used for 30 years but I keep them just in case.

Today was a perfect example of why I do.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Looking on the bright side

Jilda and I wrote a song with our friend Tracy Lea Reynolds several years ago entitled Look on the Bright Side. In the past, when we performed the song at festivals and coffee house, it seemed to make people smile. But something has changed in our country and looking on the bright side is getting harder to do these days. It seems that people are angry, and all they see is the dark side of every issue.

I can remember in the not too distant past when relationships could be represented by two circles. No two circles were an exact match, but there seemed to be an area where the two circles intersected. Inside this area is where people shared ideas, beliefs, and values. It was common ground.

Coming to a complete agreement was sometimes tricky, but when there was common ground, there was a place to start. There was a path forward.

When there is common ground, there is room for negotiation…for consensus. An agreement can have components that each person values. A win-win.

When I was in graduate school, we studied a theory called the zero-sum theory. This is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each person's gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the others. To put it simply, if I win, you lose. This theory, like so many other theories from over-paid consultants, proved to be flawed. 

I think some people today are clinging to the zero-sum theory and it explains why some people are so angry. "This is especially true when the topic is one of the hot-button issues like politics, religion, and guns. On these issues, there is no middle ground.

There was a time in my life when citizens and politicians recognized and addressed problems. While each end of the political spectrum felt they had the best solution, they were civil in their approach. They looked at where they disagreed and found areas where their views and values were similar.

Once they found common ground, they could map out a plan to solve the problem that both sides could live with. America won. I miss those days.

Perhaps it's because most people get their news instantly on their computer of phones. But I tend to believe that social media is playing a huge role.

Reading Facebook and Twitter comments these days has become disheartening. Even a simple opinion often generates a thread of snarky, rude, and sometimes threatening comments.

By reading some of these threads, it's easy to determine what cable news talking heads they follow.

It seems that reading and contemplating an issue from various points of view takes way too much time. It's much easier to just to latch on someone else's opinion that agrees with your own. Seeking common ground is out of the question.

We're headed down a rocky road, and it doesn't have to be that way. We live in a garden. If I win, you don't have to lose. If we sit down and find common ground, we can solve almost any problem.

Lyrics to Look on the Bright Side
When all you see is doom and gloom
And there's no end in sight
No matter how long and dark the tunnel
Somewhere there's always a light.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Optimistic leaves

We had to walk early this morning. Even at 7:30 a.m. there was not a tinkle from our windchimes.

I didn't bother looking at the thermometer this afternoon. Normally, the hummingbirds are tanking up to head south for the winter, but either they left early or they called in drunk today to avoid the heat.

I did manage to snap a sweetgum picture. I think these leaves are being optimistic but just looking at them made me feel a little better.

This is a busy week for us so it will be bedtime soon.

Y'all bee sweet.



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Science

Jilda and I attended a gala for the Main Street organization a few weeks ago. It was a few hours north of here in a city that straddles the Tennessee River.

Cooks Museum of Natural Science was the venue for the event. It didn't take long for Jilda and me to realize that this was a place that our great nephew Jordan would love.

His mom was tied up today, but his grandmother was up for a road trip.

We spent almost three hours going through the interactive exhibits. It was fascinating. Jordan had a large time.

We took a moment to shoot a selfie next to the entryway to the bird exhibit.

It did my heart good to see so many kids thrilled about science.



Friday, September 13, 2019

Nailed it

I walked out tonight to get a photo of the Friday the 13th full moon. The sky was overcast. It feels like it hasn't rained since Nixon was in the White House, but tonight, it's cloudy.

I know what you're thinking. With no picture of the full moon that he practically promised last night, he has to go with the goldenrods.

Nailed it.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Moonshot

I had to cover a city council meeting this evening. The business was short and it lasted less than 30 minutes.

On the way home, a turn in the road opened up the eastern horizon. The moon in the sky was beautiful. I held an imaginary camera up to my face and clicked the shutter with my tongue. Click click.

Tomorrow is the full moon and it's also Friday the 13.  I think I'll take the tripod out at dusk and wait until moonrise to see if I can get another moonshot.

I took the one below last year not long after I got my new camera. When I saw the results of those pictures, I smiled.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dog doc

The past several weeks I've noticed that Caillou has been restless at night. His bed is in front of a box fan and normally he sleeps for most of the night, but it was almost like he couldn't get fixed. When he did lay down, he plopped down.

This morning when we walked, I noticed he was having issues. Hook brushed by the Caillou and knocked him to the ground.

I've read that one of the first things a collie has trouble with is the hips.

After breakfast, I loaded him up for a trip to the vet. He's a gentle dog and the vet techs always faun over him when he goes down there.

The vet confirmed that the problem is with the hips. She gave him his annual meds, but she also gave him some medicine to help with the inflammation in his hips.

After settling up with the bill, I led him outside and opened the door. He hopped in the truck unassisted.

When I got home I started looking through our records to see how long we've had him.

He was full-grown when he chose us in March of 2011. This means he's at least nine years old and maybe older.

This evening he walked much better. I'm hoping the meds keep him comfortable for a long time. Experience has taught me that often times this is not the case, but I don't want to think about that now.

We plan to enjoy our fur-baby as long as possible.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Days work

September is National Recovery Month and the paper is working on a series of stories about addiction.

We had a meeting today to discuss the project and I think it will be compelling. 

I interviewed one woman who has been in recovery from alcoholism for several years. This past week, I interviewed two people who both lost parents to opioid addiction.

This is a hard topic because many feel the addiction of a family member is embarrassing. I think it's even more so here in the south.

The stories will begin running this weekend.

On another note, it rained all around us. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Mother Nature will smile on us tonight with a shower.

I took the picture below today on my way home from the office. I noticed purple blossoms on some kind of plant. I'm not sure what kind, but it's beautiful


Monday, September 09, 2019

Remembering 9/11

This week marks the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Even now, thinking about that day makes me feel melancholy. The world changed that day. It became much smaller and more divided. 
I remember within a few feet, of where I was standing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was in Birmingham, attending a training class. Arriving early, I'd just poured a cup of coffee and was getting ready to sit down in the break room to wait for the class to begin. Several other people were drifting in.
A TV mounted on the wall was muted until we saw those first images on the screen. Several of the people who worked with me were in the Steven Covey training class – What Matters Most. Let that sink in.
The course description said it teaches how to do self-evaluation and gives students the tools to determine what is important in their lives. You can understand that some of the things that seemed important to me changed that day.
We all stood there, silently watching the screen and trying to wrap our minds around what had just happened. 
At first, I thought it was a small plane. But then the video clips began looping across the screen. Then another airliner struck the second tower. There were no dry eyes in that breakroom.
That evening when I got home Jilda hugged me as I walked through the door. 
We had friends that lived in Manhattan. Getting through to them was challenging, but we learned they were safe. Forever changed, but safe.
Neither of us had much of an appetite that evening. Stepping out to the back deck, we sat lost in our thoughts as the ice ticked in our tea glasses. 
We live in the flight path for the airport in Birmingham. The planes come over high, but almost any time of the day you can look up and see aircraft whispering across the sky dragging contrails behind them. 
After the attack on the World Trade Center, the government ordered all aircraft grounded.
On that afternoon, the thing that I heard most was silence. I know that doesn't make sense, but the silence was profound. Even the hawks, crows, and sparrows seemed to be in mourning. I will never forget that day.
Another thing I remember is how our country pulled together. Other countries from around the world hurt with us. 
There will be many tributes to 9/11 this week. People who were old enough to remember will reflect on the events of that day.
I'm not sure I can add anything significant here, except to say that there was one tribute from a few years ago that resonated with me. It was a slideshow with haunting pictures. The slideshow was set to the Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence." A heavy metal band performed the song. The power of those words and images brought tears to my eyes.
Googling that tribute, I watched it again today. Afterward, I took a mug of coffee to the back deck and sat for a long while. Before 9/11, I'm not sure I’d ever REALLY heard the sound of silence.
  

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Scores of chores.

Today was chore day here. It seems that every off day we've had for the past month has been spent doing unfun things.

All are commitments - promises made. Important things. And then, of course, there was healthcare. I never realized that staying healthy took so much time and energy.

When we went to the eye place on Friday, I asked the folks there for my mail. "Yes, I'm spending so much time here now we've decided to start getting our mail here. They laughed.

Today, Jilda looked at me with narrowed eyes. "You don't have anything on your calendar today do you?"

I have a feeling that had I said yes, I would be eating Kibbles and Bits tonight.

As it turns out, we both did chores. Scores of chores. It's things that have been piling up. For me, it was things that took little mental effort. When I do this kind of work, my mind goes to another place. I zen out doing the work. 

One of the things I did was pull up all the ragweed on our property. In one area, I noticed goldenrod getting ready to bloom.

I shot the picture below a few years ago when I was interviewing an old veteran out in the country.




Saturday, September 07, 2019

Loss

We attended a funeral first thing this morning. It was in north Alabama. Jilda read a Facebook post on Wednesday morning that said she was having fairly minor surgery.

That afternoon, one of our mutual friends posted that she died during the surgery. She was three months younger than me.

Her husband seemed to be holding up, but I suspect that he hasn't fully processed what's happened. 

We stood in the receiving line for almost an hour and when we walked out, there was still a line waiting to pay their respects.

I have no point of reference for how to handle this kind of loss.


Friday, September 06, 2019

At that moment

I cut the day before the rain set in last week. The yard looked like a golf green. When the rain moved off to the east, the sun came back in full force. The combination of rain and sun turbocharged the grass. Today it was ankle-deep.

We had to run into Birmingham to get new contacts for Jilda and we stopped at COSTCO. We love that place.

After lunch, I tanked up the John Deere and mowed a patch of grass roughly the size of New Hampshire.

When I finished, I got a glass of cold water and stepped out front to the bench and took stock of my life and whatnot.

Over to my left, the water fountain and the small birdbath was buzzing with bees. They are polite critters. Some buzzed around while others perched on the water's edge and drank their fill.

At that moment, things seemed to be as they should be.


Thursday, September 05, 2019

Change of venue

I've been struggling with a column idea for weeks. I've written it no less than five times. Today, I pulled out one of the old drafts and started writing. The first part flowed, but then I lost the buzz. The writing fell flat. I saved it in my WORK IN PROGRESS folder and closed my laptop.

Today is Jilda's early day so she headed out after lunch. I loaded my laptop into the truck and headed to the office to pick up my mileage check. Rather than sit around the office, I decided to stop by the coffee house and grab a seat by the window.

Sitting there watching people go by on the sidewalk, I remembered that 9/11 is this week. Opening my laptop, I wrote the first draft of my column while my coffee cooled.

Sometimes it just takes a change of venue to get the juices flowing.

Leaves and gravel

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Cameraboy

This morning after coffee, I headed to the screen porch with my laptop. Normally, Wednesday is a slack day for me, but the holiday threw me behind and I had a stack of stories that wouldn't write themselves.

I knocked out one story before it got warm enough to flip on the ceiling fan on the porch.

Standing and stretching so hard my back popped, I decided it was time to walk the dogs. I know when it's time because the two big dogs sit on either side of me while I'm writing looking up into my face expectantly. CAN WE WALK NOW? NOW? WHAT ABOUT NOW? They are relentless.

Walking into the living room, Jilda was ready to walk too. She snapped the leach on Taz and we were out the door.

I walked ahead and let Jilda and the little mutt amble. Standing at the edge of the zinnias, I noticed a swallowtail butterfly as big as my hand. Gently leaning over with my camera, it flitted off as if to say, Nice try cameraboy.

I didn't give up. It fluttered down toward the beehives and then on toward the barn. It landed on a young tulip poplar tree. That's when I leaned in and capture a closeup.

Soon, these babies will be gone. This much I know for sure - I will miss them.


Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Autumn is coming

Autumn is coming. Even without a calendar, some signs provide hints. The days are getting noticeably shorter, hummingbirds are tanking up to fly south, and the wind out of the west feels different. Soon we’ll be singing “California Dreaming” along with the Mamas and Pappas – “All the leaves are brown, leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.”

When I was a kid in Sloss Hollow, there were different signs that summer was ending.

The high school was a few miles away. Toward the end of summer, the Bulldog Marching Band began to practice each afternoon. I remember hearing the sound of drums and tubas echoing through the hollows.

I learned that those drums meant that my days of running barefoot and half-naked were numbered. For that reason alone, I dreaded autumn.

The chores that time of year were no picnic either. Raking leaves as a kid was a form of parental torture. I think I would have preferred going to the dentist and having him jab a needle the size of a kindergarten pencil into my gums. 

The years have changed the way I view the season. These days, I look forward to the early signs of autumn. This week I began noticing the signals.

Jilda leaves early on Thursdays for work. After she left, I decided to take the dogs for a walk. On the first lap of the walk, I noticed that the tulip poplar trees were dropping their leaves. Their color is a shade of yellow, almost the color of homemade ice cream.

Behind the barn, there is a hickory tree thick with muscadine vines. When I walked around the barn, the ground was covered in wild purple grapes. I picked a fat one up, shined it on my pant leg, and popped it into my mouth. The memory just now made my mouth water.

Last summer we put a bench down in front of the old house and the barn. It sits facing toward the sunset under the shade of an ancient oak that someone planted over a hundred years ago. We named it the thinking bench. On the last lap, I sat for a while on the thinking bench.

Closing my eyes, I listened for tree frogs or cicadas. They weren’t droning yet, but when I looked at a nearby pine, I noticed a poison ivy vine as thick a rope that weaved its way up into the upper branches. The leaves were turning crimson. I’d love to have a car that color.

College football starts this weekend, and all that implies.

Soon, the holidays will come tumbling toward us. Jilda and I ran into a store recently, and they were already putting out Christmas items next to the Halloween section.

I’m not sure about you, but I like doing my holidays one at a time, and I don’t like skipping over Thanksgiving just because it has less commercial appeal to the big-box stores.

The older I get, the more I want to hold and suck the marrow out of every day. Life is too short not to enjoy each and every day.


Monday, September 02, 2019

Finding peace

There's a place I go to 
When life moves too fast
And my brain moves too slowly to keep up 
It's a place that's quiet enough 
to breathe 
to unwind
to think
About the important things
And to cast out the unimportant
A place to find balance
To focus
To find peace




Sunday, September 01, 2019

It's September

It's hard to believe that it is September, and yet the calendar does not lie. Jilda and I've both worked around the house this weekend. 

Today, we had company come over for a pre-Labor Day meal. Jilda whipped some ribs, brats, dogs, and her world-famous potato salad.

We were yawning before everyone left. Their cars were barely out of the driveway when I took my contacts out and put on my PJs.

I should have taken a picture of the folks here, but I didn't. I did find a picture of Desoto Falls that I took six years ago today.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Last night

Jilda and I were at a restaurant last night dining with friends. We hadn't seen them in some time. They are delightful and we were in the moment. 

Our food had arrived and we had just started eating our meal when something disturbing happened at the table behind us and just to the right. The restaurant was bustling and noisy, but we heard a commotion. 

Silverware clattering, chair legs scraping the concrete floor as they were pushed away from the table. A woman started screaming. 

The first thing that jumped into my mind was a fight. But people started hovering below the table. 

The hysterical woman bolted from the table but collapsed just behind me. 

Snatching the phone from my pocket, I dialed 911. Apparently, several other people were calling the number simultaneously because, after multiple rings, I got no answer.

Moments later, paramedics arrived. It was an infant that was having some sort of problem.

We could not tell if it was choking, having a seizure, or what. 

Someone carrying the child out told the hysterical woman that the child was breathing. Responding. They brought the child within a few feet or our table but Jilda and I both stood to give them more room. I'm not sure what happened after that.

Jilda and I both had trouble sleeping last night. She had weird dreams, and I tossed and turned for most of the night.

I've looked on Facebook and local newsfeeds for information about the infant. That it was OK. I saw nothing. 

I'm not one of those rubber-neckers that slows traffic to get a better view of the wreck, but I would like to know the fate of that child.


Friday, August 30, 2019

New glasses

When I had my annual eye exam in July, my prescription changed. It changed a little last year too but since I wear contacts most of the time, I decided that getting new glasses could wait.

When I mentioned that to the eye doc this year, she tilted her head slightly forward and looked at me sternly over her eyeglasses. It was one of those YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME looks. I've seen it before when I've made unwise decisions.

At any rate, I picked up my new glasses on Wednesday. These gradually go from being about to see "out yonder" to seeing "right chere."

It's taking me some time to adjust. The first day if felt as though I was listing to port when I walked.
After a few days, they feel almost like my old glasses except that now I see better.

Had I been clever, I would have asked Jilda to shoot a picture of me in my new specs, but that didn't happen.

I did shoot a picture of the grass in the field of zinnias behind the house. This late in the summer it's mostly grass with a few zinnias. That will have to do tonight.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Write Thang

I spent the morning on the screen porch writing. With a backlog of stories that won't write themselves, I had to buckle down. I'd knocked out two before lunch.

I'm also doing research on a story/stories about opioid addiction. Our county made national news last month. The story was not an uplifting one, but one that makes me sad.

The paper is doing a series of stories about how the crisis has affected the community. I put a note on Facebook mentioning that I was working on a story if anyone had family members that have been affected. My messenger box filled up. The stories are heartbreaking.

When Jilda headed out for work after lunch, I worked on Sunday's column. The last few weeks I've struggled with a compelling idea. Today, I tired of waiting for the muse and simply started writing.

Tomorrow will tell if what I wrote will work or not. I have my fingers crossed.

Midafternoon, I clomped the laptops shut, whistled up the dogs and headed out for a walk.

I'm an equal opportunity observer. Today, I walked down and sat in my chair under the peach tree and watched the bees.

The honey flow is over for the most part and the bees are preparing for winter. You can see several hanging out on "Bee" street loitering. It was a good way to unwind after doing the Write Thang.



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Zen'ish

If there were awards for miles driven, I would have gotten enough points today for a weekend at a Hilton.

I picked up my new glasses at Pearl Vision which is south of Birmingham. While waiting for the optical tech to adjust my frames, my phone buzzed.

The publisher needed me to attend a luncheon for the local community foundation. The speaker told touching stories about how poverty touched her when she was a child. She then talked about her work with the youth advocacy program now.  The stories put a lump in my throat.

After the luncheon, I was getting ready to leave when the publisher asked if I would consider interviewing a veteran. He was a Vietnam vet who was a prisoner of war. I could have talked with him all afternoon, but I'd promised Jilda I would drive her to work.

I'd barely put down my things when we had to load up and head back toward Birmingham.

When I got home late this evening, I stepped down to check on the chickens. Several of them were waiting patiently for me to bring their evening snack.

I had a frame from an old card table that I kept telling myself that I was going to repair. I set the frame inside the chicken pen just to have something for them to perch on.

They love the frame. I also put a mirror in their pen. Throughout the day I can look out and a few of them are admiring their selves in the mirror. Chickens are funny.

I have a folding chair that I lean up against the coop and many evenings I will sit in that chair watching the chickens and unwind. I know this must sound strange for those of you, but the experience is Zen'ish.






Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Guys and gals

Today's been a blur. Most of the morning I was on the screen porch writing. I'd done several interviews last week but didn't get a chance to finish them.

Tonight I feel much better because my work todo list is much thinner.

I had a content meeting at work at 2 p.m. and on the way home I stopped by the garden center to get potting soil for the container where we are going to plan collards.

Jilda and I passed a few hundred yards from our drive. She was going to work and I was turning on my blinker.

Not long after she left, the sky turned dark to the west. The dogs became restless and I knew it was time to batton down the hatches.

Soon, thunder was shaking the china and the rain was blowing sideways.

I put the dogs in their safe place and sat on the couch to wait out the storm.

When the sun came out, my phone chirped. The editor at work said the storm had blown down trees not far from here. When I drove down, the local volunteer fire department had angry chainsaws clearing the roadway.

I appreciate the guys and gals.





Monday, August 26, 2019

Security system

The fountain and birdbaths have become a hangout for the bees. They buzz up and light on the fountain all day long.

They are polite critters. Even when the dogs interrupt them and drink from the fountain, the bees fly off while the dogs drink and then return when the they leave.

I had a beekeeper meeting tonight and one of the people there said that she'd read an article somewhere and said that burglary and property theft were less likely at places that keep bees. 

We live in the sticks and must be mindful of leaving things out. I'm guessing that if someone came around while Jilda and I were away that the bees buzzing around the entryway and a pit bull in the backyard might give them pause. 

They don't have to know that the bees are only after the water and the dog just wants someone to pet his head.

I think it's a pretty good security system.



Sunday, August 25, 2019

Thank goodness for the rain

During the weeks of above-normal temperatures, I started worrying about autumn. A few years ago, when it did this, the leaves went from green to brown.

A few days ago, something changed in the air. Instead of being as warm as a fevered breath, a hint of cool air mingled in the breeze.

That evening, Caillou became restless. He does this when there is an approaching storm.

Jilda and I were eating supper in the TV room. Soon I heard the rain pounding on the metal roof. The lights flickered a time or two, but we didn't lose power.

The next morning, the ground squished as we walked. It's rained a little each day since then.

The heat made all the apples and pears drop prematurely, but I think the rain rescued autumn.

Today when we walked, I could see the tulip poplar leaves turning along with the poison oak. Also, the damp ground is making the fungi go crazy. I snapped this picture today.

Thank goodness for the rain.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Old things

I love new things, but there's something about old things. Many of the new things are made/built/assembled by machines. Most of the old things involved sweat.

This is the hulk of the old Dora Library. It was built by local craftsmen during the Great Depression. Civilian Conservation Corps workers excavated rock from the surrounding hills and hollows and hauled them on-site with mule-drawn wagons. 

I was in grammar school the last time I was there. The librarian was an older woman who looked harshly over her glasses if you talked. 

 It fell in disuse in the early 60s when the town moved to the highway. Soon, it was only a fond memory that smelled of old books, and reverberating clicking sounds when people walked from shelves to the checkout desk. 

I always felt as though I was doing something important when I spent time there.



Friday, August 23, 2019

Pretty in pink

The connectivity issue last night wasn't actually the same problem as the night before. On Thursday evening, an auto accident took out a pole which in turn took out our cable.

Last night, we were out of town. I accepted an award for the newspaper where I work. It was an award from the Alabama Main Street organization and it was for promotion work the paper does for the local Main Street effort. I was flattered that the publisher asked Jilda and me to attend the event. And I was amazed at all the work other cities are doing across the state to revive downtown areas.

When we returned to the hotel after the event, I logged onto the WIFI but it would not connect. So that resulted in the post last night.

Duta, who reads my blog made a comment that resonated with me.

We've become so accustomed to conveniences that we get irritated when we don't have them for a while. In the scheme of things, not having internet connectivity is a minor thing.

Duta's comment: It's highly irritating, but it's good to be reminded from time to time that we might be without electricity, without internet, without food, without water. We should, at least, think of various life scenarios, as we live in the times of Climate Change - and this Change is not going to go away.

The picture below has nothing to do with this post. When we walked this evening, I saw this girl flitting from flower to flower. I think she looks pretty in pink.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Still no Internet

We had connectivity for a while alas, it has gone away again. I’m posting this with my phone which is spotty as well.
Maybe tomorrow.



About last night

NOTE: I sat down to write a post on Wednesday evening, but a someone in a truck knocked down a utility pole and tore down the Internet cable. We didn't lose power but the cable was off all night.

Our great-nephew Jordan wasn't feeling well yesterday so he stayed with us. Jilda had an appointment to get her hair cut in Homewood, so Jordan and I did some exploring while she got whacked.

He'd never visited Vulcan. It was only about a mile from the salon so after grabbing a coffee and a hot chocolate at a local coffee house, we headed to Vulcan.

Unfortunately, the park was closed so we took a selfie in the parking lot and he did research on his iPad.





Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mulberry sky

The paper is doing a series of stories on addiction. My subject is a woman alcoholic who is in recovery. I interviewed her yesterday at her workplace but businesses sometimes get antsy about publicity, no matter how important the story is.

At any rate, she lives not far from the Mulberry Forks so I made an appointment to take pictures this evening there at the boat launch. It was on her way home. The pictures looked great.

After she left, I flopped down the tailgate of my truck and hopped onto the edge of the bed. The sky was beautiful.  I snapped several pictures of the river and the sky.

This is the one I chose to use tonight.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Into the sky

After class tonight, I carried the bag of yoga mats to the car while Jilda said her goodbyes to the students.

When I walked out, the Park & Rec field had manager had switched off the lights on the toy bowl football field casting the lot in momentary darkness.

I think it was serendipity because the darkness highlighted the sky off to the west.  Had the class lasted another few minutes, I would have missed something worthwhile.

Thankfully, I had my big camera in the car. Pulling it out of the protective bag, I snapped on the telephoto lens. It reached out past the parking lot and into the sky.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shed talk

The sky was cloudless most of the day. We didn't have a lot on our calendars so after our morning walk, I headed to the shed. 

It had gotten to the point to where when I took something down there to store, I would open the door cautiously, toss the item in and then close the door before an avalanche of tools, toys, and junk squashed me like a bug.

The temps were pushing 100 but the shed is in the shade. I would work 30 minutes before heading back inside to cool and hydrate.

By this afternoon, I started seeing real progress. Finishing will take a few more hours, but I'm on a roll.

I came across one old treasure I'd forgotten about. It's an RC cola bottle. I think it was an earlier one because I remember the later ones being different.

We'll hang on to this one.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Eight pounds of fuzzy love

We napped today, but my sleepy bliss was interrupted. I heard snoring. At first, I thought it was a dream. Eyes opened and listening. 

There it was. Again I heard a snore and then a snub. It wasn't Jilda. She rarely snores. 

When I looked over, it was Taz who is Jilda's shadow. 

My wife rarely makes a step that her tiny shadow is not in her footsteps. 

She was on the love seat next to my sleeping wife - snoring. 

Sitting up on the couch, I picked up one of my beekeeping books and began to read.

Taz realized that I was awake, so she sat up and glared at me. She seemed to be saying - if you wake mama up, you're in big trouble mister. You'll sleep on the couch tonight.

As often happens, the phone rang. It was for Jilda. I handed the phone to her, grabbed a handful of pastitsio nuts, my glass of sweet tea, and headed to the back deck for an afternoon snack.

Taz was uninterested in the phone conversation, so she came outside with me. 

As I looked over at her, I realized that she is eight pounds of fuzzy love.



Friday, August 16, 2019

Barn dreams

My nephew Haven is a plumber and he has connections with craftsmen/women in the area. He has a carpenter that specializes in restoring old structures.

The carpenter works a full-time job and does contracts on the weekend. I'm hoping this guy can help me make repairs on the barn.

I'll start buying up the timbers and siding that I need. We also have scaffolds that make the higher work much easier.

There's no way anyone will want to work in this heat. Hopefully, the weather will break next month and bring cooler temps.

I dreamed about the barn last night. My mind does that. When I switch gears and start focusing on a project, the work starts showing up in my dreams.

Below are pictures from the restoration of the front and sides several years ago.





















Thursday, August 15, 2019

Next up

Now that the chicken pen is finished, there's another project I've been scooting down the todo list for about four years.

There was an oak tree behind the barn that lightning had smite'd many years ago. I kept telling myself that I needed to cut the dead tree down but I never did.

When storms swept through in the spring of 2015, the tree fell. Thankfully, part of it fell one way and the trunk fell toward the barn.

The very tip of the truck raked siding off the back of the barn. All the beams and rafters were intact, but the siding was gone. It could have been much worse.

The front and sides of the barn look great, but the rear wall bugs me every day when we walk. FIX ME. FIX ME. I DESERVE BETTER TREATMENT THAT THIS. I'VE KEPT YOUR TRACTOR DRY FOR ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS.

I've contacted carpenters a few times, but I never managed to get a game plan together to make repairs.

At the first of the year when I noted the projects for this year, the chicken pen was close to the top, but just under was to fix the rear of the barn.

I'll use treated 6" x 6" timbers on the corners, 4" x 6" on the foundation. I can get these at Home Depot. The siding is another story. The sawmill where I bought the wood when I rebuilt the front and sides went out of business.

This week, I found a sawmill that does rough-cut siding for the sides.

Soon, we'll begin making repairs. I'll document the progress here.


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