Saturday, May 18, 2019

Blue moon

Jilda and I had dinner with friends tonight. They live in Fayette and we live in Empire, so we met in Jasper which is in the middle.

We don't get to spend enough time with our friends. The last time we saw them was at Christmas. 

We had a delightful time catching up.  

We paid the tab and headed to the cars. I heard Jo Frances say, "Oh look! The moon."  Between two buildings, I could see the moon rising over the city.

I had the camera in my car so I strapped on a telephoto and shot a few frames.

After we said our goodbyes and headed home, the full moon was like a hood ornament for a while before ascending into the sky.

Jilda told me it's the last blue moon of this decade. I'm thrilled that the skies were clear.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Lick the sky

I know I've been into skies these last few days, but this morning when I got up and stepped into the kitchen, I could see color on the window seal. After starting the coffee, I stepped over to the garden door and looked at the sky to the south.

Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture but the camera thought the color should be something other than what the irises in my eyes saw – which was clouds the color of butterscotch.

Standing there, my mouth watered involuntarily. I love the taste of butterscotch. I wanted to step outside and lick the sky.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A view of the west

I had an interview south of Birmingham this evening. It was in a gated community on a hill with a view of toward the west. 

It's a story of a couple in their late forties who were friends for most of their lives. They'd grown apart after college but ran into each other last year. Romance slipped into the mix so they decided to get married this summer.

We'd planned to do the interview on their patio, but a storm moved in from the west and forced us to go inside.

I'm not sure when the story will run, but I'll post it here once it does. I think you'll enjoy it.

Until then, here is a picture I shot before the rain moved in.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Weary bones

I worked hard today. There are many days I work long hours writing, editing pictures, and doing think work, but today was physical labor.

I built the chicken pen over 20 years ago. It served well even though it was damaged several times when storms scraped through the area. Patching and rigging kept it in service, but these last few years it put predatory critters on the honor system.

Jordan is in 4-H and his project is chickens. He and his mom currently have 19 baby chicks in their extra bedroom.  He asked if he could put his chicks here when they get a little better.

I agreed to house them for him but I knew the old pen wasn't going to keep them safe.

Earlier this week, I called a neighbor who is a good carpenter and he said he'd be here at 9 a.m. Before he arrived, I tore most of the old pen down and got the area ready for when the carpenter got there.

By this afternoon, we had it framed and the roof installed. All I need to do now is put the wire up and hang the doors.

I hope our chickens will be happy. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bed Time

Today has been wide open. I had a short break between interviews this morning and I stopped by a local fast-food restaurant and had a cup of coffee and a fried apple pie. I haven't had one of those in years....the pie, I mean.

The restaurant was packed, so I took my coffee to the deck and sat outside. When the rain moved out a few days ago, it dragged a cool front in behind it. So while I sat on the deck sipping java, the sun was warm on my face but a breeze out of the northwest made it feel a little heaven'ish. '

Tomorrow, I have a carpenter coming to help me get a few things done around the farm.

I'm ready for a cup of hot tea and the pillow. Y'all be sweet.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Newest member of the family

The newest member of our family arrived while we were in Savannah. I'm sure Jilda has mentioned it, but we hadn't seen him. 

They were in baby ICU for a long time and when they finally brought him home, I caught the crud and wouldn't go around him until I knew I wasn't contagious.

Yesterday, the time was right. He was happy in Jilda's arms, but I don't usually hold kids until they are old enough to drink beer. Just kidding. My beard freaks young children out until they get used to me.

He was born a month early so he is tiny but seems to be growing a little each day. I can't wait to teach him about chickens, beekeeping, and fly fishing. I have a feeling he will be another great nephew.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day

The old quote says that time heals all wounds, but I don’t think this includes losing our mothers. It’s been seven years, and at times my heart still feels bruised.
Each year on Mother’s Day, I flip through the Facebook timelines of my friends. I love seeing the pictures and reading the stories about each of their mothers. Some of the posts are funny, but some
are poignant. For those of us who’ve lost our moms, it can be an emotional time.
Losing my dad knocked the wind out of my sail, but losing my mother, took away my rudder leaving me adrift. 
My mom was not always an angel. She didn’t have a verbal filter. When she saw things that she didn’t agree with, her words could cut to the bone. She didn’t intentionally hurt feelings, but she sometimes did.
I’ve joked that my mama used to whip me with a rosebush if I messed up. She never did. But if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to cut a keen hickory, I could settle the national debt with enough left over for a world cruise.
Dr. Benjamin Spock would not have approved of her methods, but I can honestly say that all of her kids knew how to behave at home and in public. We still do.
My mama had a soft spot for the underdogs. She pulled for the Braves when fans in the stands wore bags over their heads. 
If there was a kid in the neighborhood that needed a meal or a place to stay, there was always a welcome mat at our house. 
When I was in grammar school, we took in two sisters whose family was going through hard times. They lived with us for months in the old two-bedroom house in Sloss. When things turned around in their home, they moved out.  
We took in a young boy when I was in the fifth grade. He was a year younger than me, and his dad lost his job in the coal mines and couldn’t find work. At first, I wasn’t thrilled to share my bedroom with Billy, but he stayed with us for a year while his dad went to Montana and found work in the copper mines. By the time he left, we were like brothers and I teared up when he walked away. Mama cried, too.
She did laundry for people in Dora who were more affluent. My dad earned enough money to keep the lights on and food on the table, but mama used the money she earned on the side to buy the extras. She started shopping for Christmas each year at New Years and by the time Santa’s sleigh was airborne later that year, there were gifts for all of her kids and a few for the less fortunate kids we knew.
Later in her life, she was among the first in the community to help out at the Mission of Hope. She took the clothes that people donated to the mission and washed them at her house. When someone’s home burned, or they were in need, they could pick up clothes that were as good as new at the mission. I could go on about my mom, but I won’t. 
I will say this: If you still have your mom, never take her for granted. One day you may find yourself flipping through Facebook on Mother’s Day and wishing you could tell her one more time that you appreciate all she did for you. And that you love and miss her every day.
Happy Mother’s Day.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Art Gig

Jilda and I played an acoustic performance for the Art Association's Art in the Park festival today. The threat of stormy weather all week caused the planners to have heart palpitations so they made an executive decision on Wednesday to make it Art in the community center.

I can't say I was disappointed because the mercury was climbing by the time we took the stage, and the AC unit in the community purred like a cat on quaaludes. We were comfy though you would not have guessed that by looking at the expression on my face as we play a new song entitled "Coffee."

It's a blues riff about a guy that is addicted to caffeine. We wrote it with our friend Joe Gregg Winsett.

It was a fun gig. After we finished and packed up, we went to lunch with a couple friends. It's been stormy, but it's been a delightful day.

Having a great time in spite of the expression on my face.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Purple stuff

I went to urgent care today. I haven't been sick in three years. I have had a knee replacement and several dental bone graphs but these were elective, so to speak.

The last time I got sick was three years ago when Jilda and I were heading south to do a show in south Alabama. 

It was a nice day and we had our windows rolled down. We passed a place south of Birmingham and someone was burning something in their yard. As we drove by the smoke wafted through our car window and my lungs spasmed. 

By the next day, I had a full-fledged upper respiratory and lung infection. It took three visits to the doctor and almost three months to get over that episode.

On Wednesday of this week, I started sneezing. I sneeze occasionally when I mow grass, but the wasn't like those sneezes. Immediately after the sneezes, my nose fauceted (Is that a word?) 

Yesterday, I hoped it would pass but when I got up this morning I had a slight fever. DocTime (is that a word?)

After two shots south of the belt with needles that looked like pencils, I was off. I can't believe I had a co-pay of $25 to get tortured.

After I got home and the steroids took control, I ricocheted off the walls. I wanted to plant a bigger garden, mow the neighborhood grass, and take up rock climbing. Thankfully it rained.

When the rain slacked up, we went for a walk. Once, back in the yard, I noticed some purple stuff growing near the edge. The thing about getting plants from our grandmothers back when Lyndon Johnson was in the Whitehouse is that we can't always remember the names of the plants. 

The one below became known as Purple Stuff.

Thursday, May 09, 2019


Jilda nor I came close to getting our steps in today. It was raining when we got up to drink coffee. By the time we got our morning chores done, the rain stopped long enough for us to take the dogs out for a short hygiene walk.

Before we got to the barn, I heard thunder in the distance and the color of the sky changed. We quickened our step and headed for the back gate.

Off to the side of the trail hidden among the blackberry bushes, I noticed a color I hadn't seen before. When I stepped closer, it was the daylilies that Jilda's mom gave her.

I called dibs on the picture and stepped over to take the shot. The rain started peppering down before I got under shelter, but it the picture was worth getting a little wet.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Garden inspector

We had a garden inspector that showed up unannounced this morning. I'd gone down to check on the bees and on the way back I met him.

He was shy at first, but he seemed to enjoy the layout of the place. I'm sure I'll get a full report later in the summer but I think we'll do OK.

I hope he comes back when the squash are bearing.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Storm gods

One last picture and story about Savanna. 

Jilda and I walked a great deal while in Savannah. On Saturday after our afternoon nap, we decided to walk over to River Street. It sits on the banks of the Savannah River. 

The sun was shining when we left. The temps were warm and the sun was baking tourists from around the glove. We heard languages we couldn't associate with a country.

Midway into the stroll, a raindrop fell on Jilda's face. Not long after that, we took shelter under a store awning.

The rain slacked up and we walked further. When we got to the small park where the steps descended down to River Street, we heard thunder. It wasn't leisurely - Oh look we'll get to see lightning in the distance - kind of thunder, but a menacing stomping sound. 

Living in Walker County, Alabama, we both recognized the sound. We opted to skip holding hands on the boardwalk, and subscribed to the get the hell back to the B&B option.

About halfway back, we heard drunk guys coming up from behind. I heard one of them say breathlessly to us - we should all take cover....there's a tornado coming.

Both Jilda and I have weather apps on our phone and we are attuned to weather alerts. When I turned to see if the guy was pulling our leg, I could tell he was serious. 

Just then, both Jilda's and my phones chirped in stereo. TORNADO WARNING FOR YOUR LOCATION. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.

We both stepped inside a stairwell with our new tipsy friends and waited for a few minutes.  When the radar refreshed, we could tell the storm was off to the north of us about a mile.

We thanked our buddies for thinking of us and we quick-stepped it back to the B&B and darted to our basement room in case the storm changed its mind.

I later read that some parts of the city sustained some damage and everyone was saying how rare it was to have a tornado in Savanna. 

We didn't bother telling people that we get our mail on tornado street in Alabama. They would have christened us the Storm-gods.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Neighbors ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I’d just finished weed eating the backyard fence and was sitting in the shade sipping ice tea when I heard a rumble at the house across the road. The place has been empty for a few months, so I stepped over and peered between the gardenia bushes to get the snoop-scoop. A young man was taking down the “For Rent” sign by the driveway. I mumbled to myself – we have new neighbors.
The next day was Saturday, and I heard a push mower spring to life behind the place. Soon, the tall weeds that were as thick as a wooden fence were history.
A while later another car pulled into the drive. The two of them worked hard cleaning around the place for most of the day. I like that in neighbors. Someone who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty and knows the meaning of hard work. As they pulled out from their new driveway that evening, the streetlights had just blinked on.
On Sunday, I spent the morning converting our winter greenhouse back into a screen porch. By the time I’d finished, my shirt was wet. Flipping on the ceiling fan, I sat down to let the cool breeze from the fan dry my shirt.
Our new neighbors must have started working inside their new place. With open doors and windows, I could hear the muffled sound of music playing as they worked, and I thought I heard a small dog barking from somewhere deep inside. 
Jilda and I debated on whether to step across the road and welcome them to the neighborhood. We did that with some neighbors in the past, and the two of them looked at us as if we had leprosy. That chilly encounter cost them one of Jilda’s world famous “slap yo’ mama” pound cakes as a welcome to the neighborhood gift. 
In all honesty, I can see why people are standoffish when they move into a new neighborhood. This day and time, who knows what kind of psycho lives next door. Act friendly one moment, and the next moment, they are breaking into your house while you’re at Wal-Mart, rumbling through your medicine cabinet, and stealing your stereo.
When our new neighbors get settled in, we will step over and introduce ourselves and try not to act too weird, though that is sometimes challenging for me. 
What I’d like them to know is that we’ve lived here since Jimmy Carter was in the Whitehouse. We don’t play our stereo too loud on work nights, we don’t drive like Dale Earnhardt on these narrow, bumpy roads, and we pick up litter from the roadside each day when we walk. 
We’re mindful of boundaries, and we can be trusted to feed the dogs and pick up their mail when they occasionally go out of town on a weekend. 
We’ll do our best to be the kind of neighbors we’d like to have if we moved to a new community.

This picture has nothing to do with the column, but I took it yesterday at Tybee Island near Savannah where we spent the weekend for our anniversary.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Keeping on

We ate out this evening. I wore my turquoise linen shirt. Jilda wore a long black dress. The restaurant was upscale and the food was remarkable. 

A young couple sat beside us with a rambunctious baby boy. He fell in love with Jilda. We talked for a moment while we waited for our food. We learned where they were from, what they did for a living. They said they'd been married for almost five years. I smiled and them and then a Jilda. She told them we were celebrating our 45 anniversary. They were speechless. We shared a little longevity advice and we all had a good laugh.

We talked for a few minutes long and then our food arrived. We settled in and enjoyed the atmosphere. 

The young couple left before we did, but when the stood, they both shook our hands and thanked us for sharing with them. These two looked like they were in it for the long haul. 

I hope they have an opportunity on their 45 anniversary to share with a young couple and to encourage them to keep on keeping on.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Steeples and Mockingbirds

Life comes at you fast. Maybe it's because I'm older and can't take in the volume of information that I could when I was 20. Or maybe when I was 20, I let the information shower over me, only taking in a wisp of all that I saw or experienced.

Recently, Jilda and I visited a place we'd never been. The brochures gave directions to all the local attractions. They all sounded amazing. 

When we walked out of our B&B to get a morning coffee, we saw the steeple of a Presbyterian church. It was humbling and beautiful. 

These days, I try my best to "be here now." It's become important to me to look at the artwork on the walls of the look at the faces of children walking by, to smell the gardenias blooming in the courtyard,  to see the steeples against a cloudless sky, and to hear the mockingbird sing to anyone who cares to listen.

Friday, May 03, 2019

John Rose

Today has been a long one. I won't bore you with the details. The weatherman said it would be in the upper 80s so we walked early.

Jilda's John Rose was blooming. We're not sure what kind of rose it is but our dear friend John Elliott gave it to us. The day we planted it, we christened it the John Rose. Sadly, he died of a type of virulent cancer less than a year afterward. That was in 1993. He died during the deepest snow we've ever had here.

The funeral home rolled the coffin out for his wife and sister to view before the wake started. When he opened the lid, it was an 80-year-old woman in his coffin. His wife and sister looked at each other and howled with laughter.  The funeral director was beside himself. He was thinking they would be angry instead both of them almost had hygiene issues. You see, John was a character. He sucked the nectar from each day. His wife and sister saw it for what it was. John played one last prank on them.

We both miss Ol' John, but we're thankful he gave us a rose bush. You'll have to visit Jilda's blog to see the rose because I wouldn't dare steal her photo. Click here.

I do have a photo of the first blueberry of the season.

Thursday, May 02, 2019


Jilda was scheduled for a long day at work today so we decided to walk early. After coffee, we shoe'd up and headed out. 

Once outside, we both stopped on the front stoop and inhaled the aroma of the Jasmine hanging from the front arbor. It should be against the law.

Each day when we walk we take inventory of what's happening. The fruit trees are no longer bloom, but the blackberry bushes are in full bloom. The privets are also blooming. If it weren't for the fact that bees love privets, I would smite them.

Within the next few weeks, we'll be picking gallons of fresh blueberries.  

The weatherman says we could have bad weather over the weekend. 

If I were making a list of things I'd want to happen, bad weather would not be on the list.

I hope you all have a bluechip Friday. 


Wednesday, May 01, 2019


I know I lean toward autumn as my favorite time of year. The foliage, the sounds, and the smells. But still, there are many excellent reasons to choose spring.

The weather this spring has been perfect. Cool enough to keep some things dormant until the time is right...but warm enough to coax out the adventurous spirit of other things.

We planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and a wide range of herbs.  But we've also planted zinnias, sunflowers, and other flowers. All of the above have launched into action the last few days.

This afternoon when we returned from Birmingham, we walked down to check on the bees. I heard Jilda gasp. When I looked, the amaryllis in the flower bed had bloomed. She didn't have her phone so she told me to shoot the picture. I was happy to oblige.

I hope spring visits to you soon where ever you live.

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