Thursday, November 14, 2019

A better day

Some days
 Are like the flow 
Of a lazy river.

Some days 
Are as swift as a shooting star.

Then, there are days like today 
That is more like my 
Brain passing through 
A sausage grinder.

Thankfully,
The sound of rain on my tin roof
Helps me to remember
That tomorrow will be
A better day.



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The gig was up

This morning was a dental day. I had an appointment last month that didn't happen. "Ah, I have to donate a kidney today, so I won't be able to get my dental cleaning."

The month before that had something to do with bigfoot, or maybe it was aliens.

The dentist's office called a few weeks ago just after I woke up from a nap and my thinking was as slow as a drunk turtle.

Anyhow, today was the day.

The leaves are showing out here now. When I parked the truck, I had to snap a picture of these two maples growing beside the lat. I could see the morning sun peeking through the leaves. It took some adjustment, but I finally got an image that wasn't a silhouette.

Did I mention that the sky was an incredible color of blue?



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Close call

It was touch and go this morning in Empire. When the snow moved in, I started wishing I'd bought more gas for the generator, and dug out the snow chains.

We took the critters out to do their business in case the white stuff got too deep for them to navigate.

Once outside, it was hard to see more than a few feet in front of our faces. The wind out of the north bent trees and turned pinecones and sweetgum balls into projectiles.

Thankfully, Mother Nature was kind to us and we didn't have to call out the National Guard. 

As you can see by the picture below, it was a close call.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Winterize

Today was another beautiful day. The weatherman says the temps will plummet after midnight tonight, so I spent most of the afternoon make the chicken habitat comfy for the girls.

I bought a heater and installed it in the coop. Most people say that cold weather doesn't affect them like it does other critters, but I'm not sure how they know. To be on the safe side, I made it a little more cozy for them.

I also did maintenance on the beehives making them ready for colder weather. They have eaten almost 20 pounds of sugar these last few days. When I hefted the back of the hives, they were all heavy which means they should have enough honey to get them through the winter.

Jilda wasn't feeling well this evening, so I taught her Monday night yoga class. One of the newbies asked how much I knew about yoga. I told her that I was a certified yoga instructor...but I'm mostly a substitute for Jilda when she needs me to teach.

Y'all stay warm.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

It's been a good day

We had nothing scheduled for today, which is rare for us. We walked early. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. The air was cool, but the sun was warm.

The color gets better with each passing day. I'm guessing the next 10 days will be the best autumn color for Empire.

I snapped this picture on our first lap. I've taken pictures of the dogwood in the lower right part of the picture, but the maple just started showing out.

After our walk, I transplanted blueberry bushes. We now have 21 bushes. In a few years, we'll be able to supply blueberries to the United Kingdom.

We also transplanted a dwarf maple that we've kept in a huge planter for years. When we heaved it out of the pot, it was rootbound. I took an ax and trimmed the lower part of the tree roots. I think I heard it sigh.

This evening, Jilda and I sat on the stone benches blissing out when we heard a commotion behind us. Jordan walked over from his house to check on the chickens. He was carrying a plastic saber and was slaying things I could not see. I kept back until he gave me the ALL CLEAR.

Tonight, Jilda made black bean soup with small chunks of ham. I made a pone of my world-famous cornbread.

To say that it's been a good day is an understatement.


Saturday, November 09, 2019

Veterans

This week has been all about veterans. I attended school events honoring veterans. Today, I attended two Veterans Day ceremonies for the paper.

This one was the dedication for a new memorial built this year. In fact, workers placed that last stones this week.

The picture below is the reflection of a Vietnam veteran looking at the monument.

I'm running out of steam tonight and chances are good I will retire early tonight to try and catch up with some sleep.


Late night

We had a gig tonight. Most of our gigs are an hour to 90 minutes, but our friends who were supposed to play with us came down with the crud that's going around.

We asked another friend who plays harmonica to join us. It was an impromptu show and we didn't songs we hadn't planned to do but I think we did well.

We just got home and my bones are weary and my chording fingers are aching but it's a good ache.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Ol' rainy day

Today has been dreary. Even before rain moved in the sky looked forlorn. The radar showed rain to the south so we swilled the coffee and shoe'd up for our daily walk.

The terrain looked uninteresting so I left the phone in my pocket.

Once through, I fed the chickens and we headed to the store to pick up necessities.

While Jilda put up groceries, I took my laptop to the side porch. It's enclosed now and with the small heater we have there to keep the plants healthy, it's toasty.

I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the screen door. Soon, it was perfect writing weather.  I knocked out a story and my Sunday column before lunch.

The rain moved in while we napped.

This evening, we practiced for two hours. We have a gig tomorrow night at Twisted Barley microbrewery. It's the first time we've played there and we're excited.

Tonight, as I type this the tips of the fingers on my left hand are tender. The left hand is the one that presses the strings on the fretboard to make chords...but my blog buddy Joe already knew this because he's a picker too.

It's been a good ol' rainy day.

Since I didn't have a pic today, I pulled one that I took the last day of September.




Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Nice day

It warmed up some today. It was still long-sleeve weather, but gloves and toboggans still a ways off.  I'd taken a picture of this dogwood a few weeks ago as the leaves began to turn. Today, the color was more vivid.

We walked the long path today, and it takes us by this dogwood and onto the wooded part of the property. The winding path down one side of the hollow and up the other can be treacherous this time of year with a carpet of leaves. Under the leaves are hickory nuts and acorns.

Stepping on one of these turns boots into roller skates. I've busted mister buns more times than one. Today's walk was invigorating.

When I walked by the beehives, the morning sun was highlighting the fronts of all four hives, and the bees were abuzz. They are tanking up for the impending winter.

In the last four days, they've gone through 15 pounds of sugar water. They are trying to make enough food to survive the winter. When I lifted the backs of each hive, they are all heavy, so I think they will be fine, but explaining that to a bee is tough.



Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Veterans Day ceremony

My great-niece Joy is in the second grade. A few weeks ago I got a letter from her inviting me to a veterans ceremony at her school today. 

I showed up at the appointed time and I was amazed by the program they'd put together to honor local veterans.

Towards the end of the program, they asked all veterans to come front and be recognized. 

All the kids who had invited veterans made medals from construction paper and wrote notes on the back. 

When Joy came up, hung the medal she'd made around my neck and stood in front of me, I choked up. I leaned over and kissed her on the top of her head. She giggled.

The gesture had the same effect on the veterans standing on either side of me.

Her dad snapped a picture of her sitting in my lap. A moment before he snapped the picture, I goosed her ribs. She loves it when I do that.


Monday, November 04, 2019

Hug a tree

Typically, I post my Sunday column here on Monday nights. The column this week came from the seeds of a blog entry last week. Rather than have you re-read a post, I intend to write something new....something exciting...something life-changing – something that will make you view life differently in autumn – something that will make you want to hug puppies and small children –something BIG.

Bare with me. I'm still thinking. 

Here's the thing. Jilda bought me my first journal for my birthday on January 15, 1978. My first entry was on  January 17. Through the years, my updates were hit and miss. I would write daily for a stretch and then go too long before doing another update. But I always went back.

Then on December 2, 2005, I went digital. I still write in my journal occasionally, but this blog has evolved into my daily journal. 

Looking back through the 5,129 posts, I've shared a great deal about me and my life with my lovely spouse of 45 years. I've shared pictures and stories of our mutts – about our hobbies – our passions – our faux pas. 

I'm not sure any posts were life-changing, but hopefully, there were a few that made you want to hug a child or a puppy. Tonight's post made me want to hug a tree.




Sunday, November 03, 2019

A day with the kids

We had a house full of kids today. Halloween was our great-nephew Stone's birthday and we try each year to do something special for him. He's been tied up and this was the first day we could all get our calendars together to celebrate.

He turned 17 this year and it probably won't be long before his "elderly aunt and uncle" are no longer cool, but we want him to know that he is important to us and we will never let his birthday go unacknowledged.

This was the first weekend that it's been cold enough to build a fire in the firepit.

The younger kids had a blast. I had firepit duty. My main objective was to keep the young kids from getting too close to the firepit and bursting into flames. We did S'mores.

A few years ago, we bought a box of firepit prongs that are perfect for roasting weenies and marshmallows.

Jilda will post a group picture of the kids on her blog tonight.

The only picture I have is of some fall grass. I took it today when I went to the store to buy propane for the grill.





Saturday, November 02, 2019

Festival Father

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox church is in a small town about 20 miles from here. It's 125 years old this year. Each November they have a Slavic/Rusian Food Festival. The weather was amazing.

The first time we went several years ago there were about 500 people who showed up. They got a Facebook page. When Jilda looked this week, over 5,000 people said they were going.

We met our friends Danny and Jo Frances there when it opened this morning.

We checked out the tiny temple. A priest (I think that's what they call them) told visitors about things of interest at the church.

After the tour, we got in line for the food which they prepared in an adjoining building. Even that early, there were probably 150 people in front of us, but those sisters were cranking out the plates.

The food was scrumptious. I'll let Jilda tell you what it was.

After we ate, we went through a tiny shop and purchased a Christmas ornament. When we went downstairs to buy some pastries, there was a line down the street and around the corner. We groaned and headed to the parking lot. Maybe next year, we'll hit the bakery first.

Father Paul Davis - Rector told visitors about the tiny temple.



Friday, November 01, 2019

Halloweens past

Six years ago, we spent Halloween with our friends Wes and Deidra in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As we came in for a landing on October 30, the sun was out and it looked toasty on the tarmac.

When we stepped off the plane, I was happy I'd packed my L.L. Bean winter jacket and insulated gloves. The sun was out and felt good upon our shoulders but the wind was harsh.

Our hosts rented an SUV and we toured the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

We dodged bison and dinner'ed at a place the locals recommended. I don't remember the name but it was delightful.

The next morning, I looked out the window of the resort as the coffee brewed. It looked like a winter wonderland. 

Not to worry, the SUV took us where we wanted to go.

When we got back to the lodge, all the staff and other guests were dressed for Halloween. Jilda and I didn't come prepared for that, but we did bring our guitars.

We played for hours in front of a rock fireplace while other guests sipped wine and ate trick or treat candy.

Yellowstone





Thursday, October 31, 2019

Hit or miss

We had a torrential downpour last night and into the morning. I wore shorts yesterday afternoon and this morning.

But the temp at 7 a.m. was the high for the day. By the time I got home just before lunchtime, there was a biting wind out of the north. It only got colder.

I'd procrastinated about getting the citrus trees onto the porch which now serves as a greenhouse. But today, the gig was up.

The rain had soaked to planters and the trees weighed only slightly less than a piano.

After a lot of grunting, I had moved them all to safety.

This afternoon, I had to head out to work to pick up my check. When I stepped inside the cab the inside of the windshield was fogged. Autumn leaves had fallen on the outside. The lighting made my view look like some kind of abstract art.

I snapped a picture. The jury is still out whether it was a hit or miss.



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

More spider pictures

Today has been an old rainy day. This morning when it was time to walk, Jilda and I suited up. When we opened the door the dogs, launched outside but once they realized it was pouring, their enthusiasm diminished dramatically.

They did walk with us, but only long enough to take care of business. 

I know I've been on a spider kick, but my choices are limited when it's raining cats and dogs.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sweater weather. 



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Spider's prayer

The mist yesterday morning was as thick a gauze. When we stepped out to walk the dogs, the barn looked like a faded photograph in the distance.

One of the first things I noticed was spider webs. Most of them were tiny. Some hunkered in the grass close to the ground. Some were woven between branches of the blueberries. The smaller ones looked like ghost ships.

The picture below is a web in the lower branches of the apple tree.

I've seen webs so perfect that they did not look real...and others like the one below that were dangling by a spider's prayer.

The weatherman says the temps will plummet this weekend and that we will probably see our first frost. This will have the spiders seeking cover from the wind.

I hope this Tuesday has been kind to you.



Monday, October 28, 2019

Return to vinyl

A few weeks ago, I opened the browser on my computer to read a post by a blog-buddy. At the top of the page, there was an ad for an Audio Technica turntable with Bluetooth connectivity. The ad was a little more than coincidental, and it took me aback. I’m a little concerned that Google knew I’d been “thinking” about buying a new turntable.
Most people we know ditched their turntables and vinyl records back in the mid-80s. When our old turntable bit the dust over 20 years ago, the urgency to get a new one had diminished. We still listened to music, but CDs were all the rage, and they were supposed to last forever. Right? 
The biggest downside to CDs was the covers. It usually took a magnifying glass to read the song lists, and most of the artwork was just sad.
Those of us who came of age listening to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Byrds, and Pink Floyd were lucky. When we plunked down money for a new album, we not only got great music
Album art 
but oftentimes we also got an album cover that was often a piece of art.
We bought most of our collection while living in the trailer. I would say that had we had our record collection appraised, it would have been more valuable than our home.
When we removed the vinyl from the cover, we handled it as if it were a fragile sacred text.
We were slow to buy into the CD format, but we did finally move in that direction. While we no longer needed the turntable, something told us to hang onto the albums.
Many of our music-loving friends sold their record albums at yard sales and donated them to thrift stores. We felt a little foolish, but we stacked ours in protective cartons and stored them in the barn. 
One of our nephews, who loved records, asked Jilda and me to leave our record collection to him in our will. 
Our love affair with CDs started waning a few years ago.
Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music are convenient, but something seems to be missing. Listening to music from those services does sound as full and rich as record albums. This affected our experience of listening to music on Sunday mornings.
The mysterious ad I mentioned earlier planted a seed that began to blossom. I’d been saving up a little mad-money for Christmas, but I decided that Santa would love for Jilda and me to have a new turntable.
A few days later, I got a notification when it would arrive. I met the UPS man in the driveway and hustled the package inside.
After connecting it to our stereo, I headed to the barn to fetch the crates of record albums. They were dusty, but I knew that with a little TLC, they would be fine.
One of the first I cleaned and tenderly placed on the new turntable was Jackson Browne’s Saturate Before Using. I bought the record in 1972 while I was in the Army. Closing my eyes, the music instantly transported me to my old barracks in Panama.
Since the day I installed the new turntable, Jilda and I have listened to it daily. 
I’m thankful that we decided to buck the trend and hold on to our old records.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Time with friends

This turned out to be a Time With Friends weekend. 
Last night we had dinner with Danny and Jo Frances. 
Danny and Jo Frances came through the Back to Work program at the college a few years ago.
Jo Frances landed a job with the state.
I convinced the college to hire Danny to work with me on the program.
After the grant ran its course, both he and I went on to other things.
We've stayed in touch. 
Both of them are doing remarkable things now.
Last night, we enjoyed each other's company as we caught up.

Today, we got a call while we were sipping coffee.
Our old friends Wes and Deidra had spent the weekend visiting with their girls in Huntsville.
Wes and Deidra live in south Alabama.
They would be coming 
They wanted to meet us for lunch on their way home.
We ate lunch and lingered.
On our drive back home, Jilda sighed and said,
This has been a good weekend.
I had to agree.

I didn't have my selfie stick to grab pictures of us with our friends, but
I did take a picture of turning leaves on our walk this afternoon.
Happy Sunday.



Saturday, October 26, 2019

Good day

I knew it was raining before I opened my eyes this morning. Raindrops on the roof sounded like a kettledrum. The chimes on the back deck were dancing in the wind.

When I started the coffee to brewing, I opened the back garden door and stood watching the pine and sweet gum trees sway in the wind. Higher up above stove-grey clouds I could hear a much angrier wind.

After coffee, we needed to get the dogs out to take care of business so we walked a lap through the field and around the barn. On the way back as I stepped around the gate, I saw some kind of centipede. He was as thick as my little finger.

I took a quick photo, but I gave him a wide berth.

We have a gig in two weeks, and so we're upping our practice schedule. We're cranked about that.

Tonight we had dinner with friends.

All in all, it's been a good day.




Friday, October 25, 2019

Homemade spinnerbait jig

Had my dad lived, he would have been 96 today. The last birthday I spent with him was in 1985. He was sick then. He could no longer drive. Taking the keys away was brutal because he loved to drive even if he had nowhere to go.

He loved taking the backroads and visiting old friends. They'd catch up, sip whiskey from a pint bottle in a sack, solve world problems, and whatnot.

He would go see a man about a dog. Check the cemetery to see if the grass needed to be cut. And like me, he'd drive to the Forks of the river, click the gearshift of his truck in park, and step close to the water's edge. He'd look for herons, muskrats, or late-evening fishermen. He was always interested in what was biting and the kinds of bait the fishermen used.

On his last birthday, he was sitting in his recliner pulled close to the window. When I walked into the living room, he was alone and looking outside at doves on feeders in the yard. The late afternoon light highlighted his face.

I sat with him for a long time. I couldn't find words that seemed to fit. So we sat comfortably with the silence.

I took him a package of homemade spinnerbait jigs. This lure drives the striped bass crazy in the springtime when they come upriver to spawn.

He never got to use those lures because he died the next spring.

Yesterday evening, I had a council meeting to cover. On the way down I noticed the way the setting sun played on the clouds.

I was running late for the meeting, but I decided to take a few minutes to drive into the parking lot at the Forks. Clicking my gearshift into park, I stepped out and walked to the water's edge.

A lone fisherman stood at the point. I called down to him to ask if he'd caught anything. He had not.

When I asked what bait he was using, he said a homemade spinnerbait jig.



My Blog Friend Dee Ready published a new novel

My blog friend Dee Ready has a new novel out. It's entitled The Reluctant Spy ~ A Novel Set in 1st-Century Palestine.

I bought a copy and it's next on my reading list. Please consider following Dee at Coming Home to Myself

If you would like a hard copy or a Kindle copy of Dee's book, follow the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Spy-Novel-1st-Century-Palestine/dp/1948793083/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Reluctant+Spy+a+novel+set+in+1st+century+palestine&qid=1567545152&s=books&sr=1-1

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I have no words

On Monday, I got a call from my great-nephew Jordan's mom asking if I could pick him up from school yesterday.

My schedule was flexible so I said, of course.

I showed up and checked him out about an hour early. Checking out is a term meaning that he got to leave about an hour sooner than normal.

As we rolled out of the parking lot, I asked if he was hungry. He's in the sixth grade. He's ALWAYS hungry. I thought he would choose one of the fast-food places nearby, but after giving it a great deal of thought, he decided he wanted an icy.

There is a shaved ice place on the way home so I wheeled into the parking lot and went in.

He ordered a watermelon and mango flavored icy. I had no words.

The lady who owns the tiny shop also carries homemade meat skins. He decided he wanted a bag of cajun meat skins to go with his icy. I had no words.

The woman had her shop decorated up for Halloween. While I sat on a stool waiting, Jordan asked to see my phone.

He snapped a few pictures of me sitting on the stool. He giggled as he handed the phone back to me.

It wasn't until just now when I was looking for a picture to post tonight that I realized why he was giggling. I have no words.





Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Rusty bridge

I had a meeting this morning. I've driven past this bridge thousands of times since I've lived here, but never crossed it...until today. My tires clattered as I slowly rolled over the antique timbers.

This bridge is no longer open to the public. At one time local coal companies used 18 wheel haulers to a staging facility next to the river. A giant arm hung out over the water. Tug boats positioned empty barges underneath the arm and it loaded coal into the giant metal tubs.

When the barges filled, the tugs pushed and pulled them downriver to ports and depots in lower parts of the state. Coal was the lifeblood of this county. There are fewer miners now, but the industry still provides jobs here.

It's been years since I've seen a coal barge this far upriver. 

I thought about these things today.

The session lasted no more than 15 minutes and then I was driving back across the bridge. I had some time before my next appointment, so I stopped at the end of the bridge and walked back to snap a few pictures.

Morning light can be harsh. When I snapped the pictures, the difference between the intensity of light on the trees and the shadow of the bridge was dramatic. It occurred that a black and white photo might serve well in this circumstance.

I think it did.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Beautiful autumn day

I knew by the third sip of coffee that today would be a beautiful autumn day. Call it a hunch. The morning sun turned the path to the mailbox into a bed of glowing embers.

We tend to let Mother Nature do most of the decorating in our yard.  We've tried to intervene, but we are not as creative and have less control over the lighting. 

I covered a Rotary Club meeting today. The publisher asked if I would attend and write the story. "There's food involved," he coaxed. I bit. 

Arriving early, I found a place within tape recording distance. The gentleman who sat across from me introduced himself. He too was a veteran. His draft notice came two years before mine. He served in Vietnam. I enjoyed the few moments we had before the meeting began.

There are so many incredible stories out there.




Monday, October 21, 2019

The problem with plastic ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I think I can narrow down the time that America strayed off course. I'm not sure what year it was, but company executives decided to focus on the bottom line instead of the health of the planet. These executives began offering soft drinks and beer in disposable bottles instead of ones that required a deposit.

Maybe they thought that landfill space was unlimited. They probably believed that no self-respecting
customer would toss a bottle or can out the window of their car.

They should have realized that when there is no incentive to return the bottles, there is no reason to hold on to them. It became a no-brainer to toss them out the window and get them out of the way.

The problem started with glass bottles, which was bad enough, but then came the plastic ones. Companies chose plastic because it was cheap, and it was convenient for the consumer. Later, companies began offering coffee, tea, water, and other one-time use drinks in disposable containers. But the cost associated with a disposable society was hidden – at first.

Another downside of this one corporate decision was that it put millions of industrious kids out of a job. Even when I was too young to work an after-school job, I walked miles of roads looking for deposit bottles, which were glass gold. They supplemented my meager allowance.

Mom and Dad bought me a bicycle, but I paid for new handlebar streamers, a tire pump, a squawk horn, and other add-ons by picking up glass bottles. I also have an Old Timer pocket knife in the souvenir box on my dresser that I bought with money I earned picking up bottles when I was 12 years old.

Once the incentive to pick up bottles was removed, kids lost interest in picking them up, so they let them lie. 

Plastic waste tossed into a garbage bin or on the side of the road doesn't go away. It takes a plastic soda bottle 1,000 years to biodegrade.

There is a floating island of plastic garbage in the Pacific that is twice the size of Texas. If you think I'm kidding, Google it.

If communities provided an easy way to recycle plastic, that would help. But with limited budgets, it's hard for cities and counties to justify the expense of large-scale recycling.

Some progressive areas bit the bullet, and I'm reading more and more about good things that happened as a result.

 I read where some companies are using recycled plastic in creative ways. Some make shoes, clothes, rugs, and thousands of other useful products.

Aluminum cans are a little better because there is a market for aluminum. I often see people walking the roadsides picking up cans, but you have to pick up a mountain of cans to make a few bucks. A July estimate for aluminum was a little over a penny per can.

The garbage problem will probably not become untenable in my lifetime. You can bet our children and their children will have to deal with it. I'm guessing they will say unkind things about us for not recycling.

The idea for this column came to me on our morning walk when I discovered an old glass non-deposit Pepsi bottle in the woods behind our barn. The bottle had been discarded by the people who rented the property in the late 1960s before we bought it.

Thankfully, Mother Nature found a creative way to recycle the bottle by converting it into a beautiful terrarium. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fun with fungus

It was overcast and cool today. Summer storms had blown down some weak trees on our property. When the temps are as hot as a BBQ coal, I don't drag out my chainsaw. It's not a consumer saw. Those are the ones you get at the big-box store, use it a few summers and toss it when it dies.

I saved my made money for a while and bought a beast. It's the kind pulpwood cutters use. I took it to be serviced earlier in the summer, and when I hefted it out of the truckbed to take it into the shop, a career pulpwooder whistled. "That's a good looking saw man," he said.

Anyhow, it gets the job done in a hurry, but it weighs only just slightly less than a Buick. 

So, when trees fall, I leave them there and make a mental note to return when it gets cool. That was today. I cut enough timber to build an ark.

Jilda noticed something interesting growing on an old log by the walking path this morning. I know I posted a limb with fungus a few days ago, but this one log had two different kinds growing within a few feet of each other.

Since I knew with the weather that it would be a slow pic day, I snapped a few of the log just for kicks.

It doesn't take much to amuse me, a cool day, fallen trees, and fungi on a log.









Saturday, October 19, 2019

Chicken tales

A tropical storm drifted into the gulf this week and set its eye on the beach to the south. The weatherman said we'd have showers today. But it's rained all day long.

Putting on my work hat, I ran down to feed the chickens. Missy was in the process of laying her daily egg and didn't have time for me.

Often when I step down there they gather at my feet. There's one that seems to tiptoe trying to get me to pick her up.

My great nephew Jordan got it started. He sits in the pen with a hand full of treats and coaxes them close enough to pick up.

None of the chickens that we've owned in the past wanted to be held, but several of these do.

It's getting cooler each day so I knew it was only a matter of time before I have to move our citrus trees inside. This afternoon, I sealed the screen porch and made it greenhouse ready.

It's been another good day.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Leafy white fungus flakes

Today was a rare day. We had absolutely nothing on our calendar. Well, that's untrue. I had an assignment to talk parade pictures at a town on the other end of the county. It was a favor for the editor who had a retirement party he wanted to attend and I volunteered to shoot the pics for him.

As it turns out, he had the date wrong and homecoming isn't until next Friday. Woo Hoo!

I had about a zillion important but not urgent things to do around the house. Those are the things that keep getting shuffled to the bottom of the list until something breaks and then it becomes job one.

Tonight, I am whupped, but it feels good getting some things done.

I shot this picture today on our morning walk. Leafy white fungus flakes are taking over limbs and logs all along our wooded path.




Thursday, October 17, 2019

News from the sticks

We flipped the central unit in the house to heat last night. After the rain swept through earlier in the week, the skies have been remarkable.

I put miles on my wheels today. I had an appointment with my dermatologist at 8 a.m. so I had to be rolling by 7.

In Birmingham, I saw hundreds of photo ops but the traffic was brutal. Out here in the country where Jilda and I live, it's much slower. 

I ran by the Forks again today for a moment. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture of Mulberry Bridge. 

Tonight, Jilda made fish tacos. Yum.

Not much else happening in the sticks.

Night.








Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Words

Words. Where would we be without words? I'm guessing that before words, there was a lot of grunting, pointing, and chiseling pictures on stone. There's speculation at work here, but I'd be willing to bet there was a lot of head-scratching going on too.

I'm pretty sure the first Homo erectus folk spent most of their time looking for supper. They probably spent a great deal of time turning over rocks and swishing through tall grass looking for things to whack on the head with a rock, or jab with a sharp stick.

Since it took a while to discover fire, they were probably the first to enjoy sushi and tartare. I'm speculating here since I wasn't there, but I can visualize it.

But once words came along, things probably progressed nicely. Hey! Bring me that club. I need to maul this rabbit. Rub those sticks together fast so that we can roast this baby. I'm tired of carpaccio.

Prose and poetry followed, but I'm not sure about the timing.

Sorry, I started down a path and it got a little out of hand.

Words. Be sure to use good words. It makes a difference.







Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tonic

Today was hectic. I covered council meetings, content meetings, and tech meetings. I interviewed a teacher that got tears in her eyes as she talked with pride about the students she teaches.

I picked up seed, feed, and weed at the coop. OK, I was kidding about the weed. But I digress.

My mind was spinning like a top on steroids.

Driving home, I almost passed by my peaceful place without stopping. In fact, I drove by and then realized I NEEDED to stop.

Turning around, I pulled into the parking area at the Forks of the river. The sun took the day off. As I sat there leaning on the front of my truck, the hood ticked as it cooled.

A mist began to rise off the surface of the river. My pulse rate slowed. A car pulled up beside me and a guy stepped out. Without saying a word, he too leaned against the front of his truck.

We sat in silence.

I nodded at the guy standing there and got back into my truck. I felt taller.

Stress is a fact of life. People deal with stress in many ways.

I don't need a prescription for my tonic.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Dogwood turning

Our morning walk was invigorating
We noticed the dogwood turning
Soon the berries will turn into rubies 
And the foliage will make us thankful
That autumn is upon us


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Purple flower/weeds

Today has been a lazy Sunday. We walked this morning and for the first time, it was cool enough for sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt. The walk was delightful.

One of my chores today was to pack back my summer clothes and unpack my winter ones. We will have more warm weather, but a change is in the air.

This afternoon, I had to run to the drug store to pick up eyedrops for Jilda. Her contacts have been dealing her fits, so the doc called in some meds to help.

On the way home, I stopped by the forks fo the river. When I pulled up to the water's edge at the boat launch, a rafter of turkey flew from the fork across the river. I wish I'd had my camera ready, but by the time I got it out of the bag, they were long gone.

When I stepped up to the edge, I saw a blue heron on a dead tree that has about 15 feet above the water.

I snapped several pictures as the bird observed me curiously.  Clumps of purple flowers/weeds near the edge of the water caught my eye and I snapped a few frames of them. I did a Google search but I couldn't find any that looked like these so, for now, they will be purple flower/weeds.







Saturday, October 12, 2019

When it all started

I'm not sure what year it was, but I think I can narrow down the time that America strayed off course. It was when soft drink and beer companies started offering their drinks in disposable bottles instead of ones that required a deposit.

If there was no incentive to return the bottles, why not toss them in the dump. It started with glass bottles which were bad enough, but then came the plastic ones.

This one corporate decision, but millions of industrious kids out of a job. Instead of them policing up roadsides and parks looking for bottles to buy pocket knives, and handlebar streamers for their bikes, they did other things. There was no incentive for them to pick up bottles so they let them lie.  

I think that's when landfills began filling at alarming rates.

There is a floating island of plastic garbage in the Pacific that is twice the size of Texas. Google it.

The idea for this came to me today on our morning walk. I came an old glass non-deposit Pepsi bottle. 

Thankfully, Mother Nature found a use for this piece of refuse. 

She decided to create a terrarium.




Friday, October 11, 2019

Parades make me smile

Today was the homecoming parade for my high school. Each year I take pictures of not only the parade but the children and their folks who come out to watch the parade.

Before Facebook, I posted the pictures on the website, but these days most people use social media so I post the pictures there.

It's always a lot of fun to see the faces of the kids. The kids in the parade on the floats toss candy along the parade route.

Looking back over the pictures made me smile again.




Thursday, October 10, 2019

Drinking cow

I was running late for a council meeting tonight. When I drove past this pond, I almost left the road. About a half-mile down the road I wheeled into a side road and turned around. So what if I'm late for a council meeting. The world will keep turning.

The settings from the muffed picture last night were still set. But tonight, the setting sun provided light to form this photograph.

I shot several others with slower shutter speeds, but 8,000 was just what the drinking cow ordered.



Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Camera faux pas

Jilda and I spent the morning at the doctor's office for a routine exam and to get a flu shot. We had lunch at Nikis, one of our favorite restaurants in Birmingham. The food is excellent and the service is great.

Once home, we promptly decided to take a nap. Yes, we do that on off days. Sue us.

When my timer went off we sat there for a moment. I heard her exclaim – LOOK!

Out in the birdbath was a yellow cardinal.

The birdbath is about 30 feet from our great room window and I knew the phone would not do the lovely bird justice so I stepped over and got the camera and snapped on a 200 mm lens.

On automatic, the camera wanted to use the flash and I knew this was a non-flash photoshoot so I flipped the dial over to M (manual) and set the aperture to f18. This would ensure the bird would be in focus.

I smiled as I snapped several pictures. The bird must have sensed that we were watching so it flitted off.

When I stepped over to the couch to show Jilda my photographic prowess. The image below is what I saw. Studying the camera more settings I realized that I had set the aperture to f18, but the shutter speed was set to 8000. I think that setting is what photographers use when they shoot portraits on the surface of the sun.

So, you'll have to trust me when I say the yellow cardinal was beautiful.



Tuesday, October 08, 2019

We need more speeches about daisies

I had an assignment tonight to cover a political speech at a local Chamber of Commerce Banquet. I'm not a fan of political speeches, but this guy made his talk short and sweet.
Personally, I'd like to hear more speeches about daisies?


Monday, October 07, 2019

More time ~ my column from Sunday's paper

The refrigerator door is the information center of our house.

On it, you will find a bulletin board, to-do lists, reminders, grocery lists, and magnetic memories from places we visited all around the country and abroad. The freezer door is like a memorial. We have pictures of friends that died in the past few years. We put them there so that we won’t forget the good times we had with each of them. Our visits with them were time well spent.

Our friend Lewis’ picture is near the top of our door. Lewis came into our lives during low tide. He was taking infusion treatments during the years that Jilda was taking hers. They were chair buddies for three years. He was in his late 70s, but he was young at heart.

He ate Thanksgiving dinners with us, attended summer fish fries, and had us over for lunch at his house several times.

During the last year of his life, he spent about as much time in the hospital as he spent at home. We visited him several times during the last days of his life, and he was unresponsive. But the last time we saw him, it was like he got his second wind.

He was sitting up in bed and holding court with several of his buddies. Toward the end of our visit, his mood turned melancholy. He looked at Jilda and told her that he wished he’d met us when he was younger. He was silent for a moment, and then he said, “I thought I’d have more time.”

We chimed in and told him that he had plenty of time. We invited him to an upcoming barbecue at our house. He died the next morning.

The thing is, none of us know how much time we have left. We constantly put things off and say, “We need to that that when we get time.” But, our life-clocks are ticking.

I heard a quote once that fits here: People are so busy making a living that they don’t have time to make a life. I’m not sure who said that, but it’s true.

I squandered a lot of time in my youth. Had I understood at 20-years-old that time was my most precious asset, I like to think that I would have done a better job managing my time. But that’s time that has ticked.

These days I can almost hear my biological clock ticking. I’m thinking about changing the name of my to-do list to the “Things I Really Want to Do” list.

What seemed important when I was 40 seems frivolous at 68.

It’s past time to stop letting time and energy vampires suck the essence out of my day. I’m past the point of fretting over things that mean less than diddly squat.

The memorial on my fridge reminds me that time is a treasure. I don’t want the end to come with me lamenting that I thought I would have more time.

Lewis seated on the right with our friend Burt, Alesha, and Jild at a fish fry.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Fingers crossed.

Earlier this week I began to worry. Several of the oaks in the hollow simply went from green to brown. They've done that in years past when it was dry. The problem with this autumn so far is that it's been dry AND hot.

The barn road had a crunchy brown carpet each day this week when we walked. I snapped this picture with my phone.

Then, as my giddy post last night reported, it rained.  Sometime after midnight, I heard the rain drumming on the metal roof. We don't hear that unless it rains HARD. This was a good thing.

The weather today had been delightful. Jilda and I walked for almost an hour this morning. Before the rain yesterday afternoon, many of the trees here were ditching summer even though it refused to leave.

Today, the world seemed a little lighter. With rainfall, there's a chance we still may have some color this autumn. My fingers are crossed.




Saturday, October 05, 2019

It rained

The Frog Festival was today. I remember the first one for which we took pictures was 2006. Jilda wore a leather jacket that morning and before we took many pictures, we found a booth brewing coffee to warm our hands and souls.

Today it was 97 when we left at noon. My shirt felt as if I had showered fully clothed.

Once in the Outback, we jacked the thermostat down and put the fan setting on hurricane.

By the time we pulled into the driveway, I had ice crystals in my beard.

The weatherman had promised that we had a chance of rain this evening. Jilda started doing her magic rain spell and continued all afternoon.

Just after I sat down to write, she called me from the kitchen and said come look!

When I walked outside, a slow drizzling rain was falling. We both stood out there, closed our eyes and looked into the sky. We both uttered a silent thank you.












Friday, October 04, 2019

Over the edge


It finally happened. 
I was in Birmingham today.
The temp at noon was 99 degrees and rising
Something snapped
I took a selfie
I'm concerned that I may have slipped over the edge




Thursday, October 03, 2019

I decided to dream

I know you are probably sick of hearing me whine about the weather. A local comedian wrote that it was 10 degrees hotter than hell today. I could not argue with that.

So, I decided to dream. I looked back at my Google photos from October of 2017 and found a picture of my nieces and nephews around our firepit.


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

He will play

One of our friends called today. He's been playing music as long as Jilda and me. His instrument of choice was a piano/synthesizer. A grand piano sits majestically in his living room.

While the conversation was about music, it wasn't about keyboards. He has decided that he wants to learn how to play guitar.

We talked for almost an hour about the various choices. He wants an acoustic guitar. That narrowed it down, but prices for acoustic guitars start just over $100 and max out at just slightly more than the GDP of California.

The one thing he said that made me believe that he will learn to play is that he has committed to practicing at least one hour each day.

I have a gut feeling that he will play.




Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Daisies

My sister-in-law Nell gave us plants in early summer. Have patience she said. For months we coddled the plant like a baby with the cholic. The plant grew.

We watered, fed, and kept beetles from munching it to the stalk. We pulled weeds from around the plant.

When the heat set it, we pretty much abandoned the flower beds beyond the backyard fence. We left the plant to fend for itself. The plant grew.

One morning a few days ago, I stepped out on the deck to dump the coffee grounds. The morning sun was painting the clouds a shade of rose that doesn't appear on any color charts. I just looked. 

After a moment of cloud admiration, I looked at the plant Nell gave us. It is now 20 feet tall and it started blooming yellow daisies. Most of the zinnias and the rest of the garden is dying, but not the daisies.

I could hug Nell's neck.






Monday, September 30, 2019

Thief of time

I’ve discovered that there are unwanted intruders in our home. They are not there to take our stereo or laptop. What these intruders are stealing is much more valuable – our time. 

Several years ago, we had our TV sitting on a table in the living room. We flipped it on the first thing each morning. Even when we weren’t watching, it was there in the background droning on about things of little value and telling us to ask our doctors if a brand name drug was right for us, or asking if we needed adult diapers.

When we did sit down to watch a program, it was often a re-run or something less than compelling. Watching TV was eating away our precious free time. We discovered that we were writing fewer songs, practicing less often, reading less, and when we ate dinner, we rarely talked to each other.

When we decided to remodel a few years ago, we made the decision to move the TV to what would become our laundry room. We bought a small love seat to go in there. We made it less comfortable for a reason.

If there was a program we wanted to see, we would sit out there. Sometimes we listened to the TV over the clang of tennis shoes in the clothes dryer and the spew of water going into the washer. As a result, we watched less TV.

Our creative output increased overnight. We wrote more songs, Jilda painted, and we talked during dinner. 

On a side rant, why do doctors and dentists have the TV blaring in their waiting room? Several years ago, when Jilda was taking infusion treatments, the treatment room had 12 chairs. Most of the time, each chair was filled with people with serious ailments. Some were slowly dying of cancer. Hung on the wall was a 48-inch TV that was always on. 

Playing soft classical music or some other form of music without words would have been like a salve for her soul. Cable news made her want to slash both of her wrists.

Now back to my regularly scheduled column about intruders.

In the last several years, there’s a new intruder in my life. The new thief is in my pocket.

Before the smartphone, I could go all day without checking my email or my social media feeds. Now, if I don’t check it every few minutes, I start twitching. 

A while back, when Apple pushed out a new software release, it put in a feature called screen time. It reports on how much time I spend with email, social media, listening to music, or playing games. I admit it – I play Words with Friends.

When I began seeing my summary of how much time I spend with my phone in hand, I was alarmed. The living room TV was a minor distraction compared to how much time I’m spending on my phone. It’s bordering on an addiction.

Maybe the only alternative is to go back to a flip phone or go cold turkey and go cell-less altogether. 

I’d be interested to hear my readers’ thoughts on how to combat this intruder.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Clouds at sunset

We've had almost a hundred days of temperatures in the 90s. We could go to our raised beds and toss in a little olive oil and have fried green tomatoes on the vine...OK, that's a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.

The one thing I cannot complain about is the autumn skies. They have been remarkable.

Yesterday at the 4-H chicken show during a pause in the action, I looked into the sky. The sun was sinking low into the western horizon. Before it made its final exit, I cast an amazing light on the clouds overhead.

I had my SLR camera with me, but I shot this picture with my phone.

When I scrolled back through the images, this one made me smile.



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