Saturday, November 30, 2019


It's been warm enough to swim here today. The sun played tag with the clouds for most of the day. We hit the road early. I took my sunglasses but spent most of the drive taking them on and off. 

The first stop was Hobby Lobby. Jilda needed supplies so that she could get started painting the Christmas cards for this year.

This evening, my team played a wild football game but ended up losing a game we should have won. But that's the way it goes.

Tonight, I got a weather alert. When I looked at the radar on my phone, I saw that people to the north and west were getting pounded.

When I walked onto the back deck, the sky to the east was stary. But off to the west, I saw strobes of lightning and thunder rolled.

The windchimes play different notes when the wind is gentle. But when storms approach, the combination of notes sound almost ominous. 

The lights have flickered once, but I'm willing the storms to dissipate leaving behind a gentle rain.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The day after

Both Jilda and I were slugs today. I'm talking cold molasses in the veins. We slept in on the day after Thanksgiving. Jilda's brother called at 7:15 a.m. and we were both still sleeping. It's been a minute since we weren't up by 6.

Our biological clock is set to wake up when morning light seeps around the bedroom blinds.

We sipped coffee at a leisurely pace. When we shoe'd up for a walk, it was still overcast. The light was muted. The brisk walk was refreshing.

We spent much of the day doing routine stuff. 

This evening, I had an assignment for the paper to shoot pictures at a Christmas event. Jilda and our great nephew Jordan decided to join us. We got him a swirl of cotton candy as big as a hornet's nest.

Santa came roaring in on a firetruck. I shot pictures of kids with big eyes. 

The paper frowns on me using the pictures before they run in the paper, so I will refrain tonight. Instead, I'll use a picture of a piece of wood that Mother Nature has reduced to a piece of impermanent art.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm whupped. We had 20 folks here today. Most of them were kids. The thing about kids and Thanksgiving is that it's not really about the food. It's about having fun.

Our great-great-nephew Easton came with his grandmother and great-grandmother. He's in pre-school.

He was cranked but he was not a fan of the dogs. When I told him the dogs owned the farm and they only let us live here, he thought about that for a long time. Soon, he was fine with them being around.

Today was a couple of first for him. Zuzu which is my nephew Jame's baby daughter taught Easton how to go through the doggie door. He was ecstatic.

I managed to get them all to stand still for a few moments, but as you can tell by the look on Jordan's face (far left) that he really thought slowing down to take a picture was a waste of time.

I hope today has been a one for you and your family.

For those going shopping later this evening, you might want to read a post from a few years ago about shopping on Thanksgiving. CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


A hard rain and strong winds overnight stripped most of the color off the trees here. There's a pin oak over near the edge of our property that is still beautiful. The blueberry bushes produced gallons of fruit in early spring.  We put over a dozen freezer bags that were as stuffed as a freshly fed baby.

We'll have blueberries in our morning protein shakes until next spring. But the thing about blueberries is that the berries are but one gift they provide. In autumn and winter, the leaves turn crimson and hang on for dear life. Then in spring, they are one of the first plants to blossom and provide nectar for the bees. 

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but we doubled the number of blueberry bushes in our garden. We now have over 20 and I might add ten more over the next few weeks.

Our local produce place wants to carry local organic blueberries.

People tell me that at my age, I should be winding down. I would consider it if I weren't having so much fun.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The staff

The last several days have been hectic. We're having some of Jilda's family over for Thanksgiving. As with all gatherings here, we feel the need to spruce up.

Also, there is the turkey process. It has to be a fresh turkey. Not one gobbling, mind you, but one that hasn't needed a sweater since it....gave its life for the pilgrim holiday.

We've worked in the yard, on the screen porch, in the garden, and around the barn. Our niece's boyfriend commented that last time he ate with us: "Y'all need a staff."

Today, the newspaper where I work part-time invited Jilda and me to Thanksgiving lunch. We agreed. My nephew, who is the publisher, is doing a Christmas special for the online audience. He asked if we'd come a little early so that his film crew could video us singing the original Christmas song we wrote a few years ago. We were flattered to be included.

Jilda had to work this evening at her job at the rehab center, so we left after lunch. Once home, we both hit the couch for a nap.

The alarm on my phone usually wakes us both when it's time to get back to work.

Today, I woke up, but she was still dead to the world. Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a picture while she was sleeping. She will probably smack me when she reads this post, but I'll tell her it was "the staff" that did it.

Monday, November 25, 2019

A salute to autumn

We'd planned to attend the last beekeeping club meeting of the year tonight. No bees stuff tonight – just a bunch of beefolk getting together and breaking bread to celebrate the holiday season.

Jilda whipped up a batch of spinach balls.  It's a favorite Hors d'oeuvre of mine. 

Today was a workday for both of us but the plan was that she'd knock off a few minutes early, rush home, spruce up, and we'd head out to pig out. 

She called in a panic. The Samburu Outback uses a key fob to crank the engine. The tiny watch battery in the fob was dead and the car wouldn't crank.

Plan "B". I drove up to where she works with the spare key. We got home, but it was too late to make the bee-thang. Maybe next year.

When I went down to check on the bees this afternoon, they had swilled two pounds of sugar water since daybreak. 

As I walked back, I leaned my head back as I walked to take stock of the sky. All the leaves have dropped from the sweet gum tree, but it looked like a monument standing against the cloudless sky.

I shot a picture and then whipped off a quick salute to autumn.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Walking on Sunday

When I slipped on a sweatshirt and started putting on my walking shoes this morning, the dogs went berserk. They were so cranked.

I know they are trying to rush me when they nip at my sox. Today, Ol' Hook pulled a sox off my foot and ran to the door. I'm guessing he thought that by stealing my sox we could walk sooner.

I get dressed first and get the dogs outside so that Jilda can get Taz ready. It takes a little longer for the Yorkie. She only weighs about nine pounds, and she's close to the ground. The dew or frost is on her belly, so she requires a sweater to walk.

When I stepped outside, I realized why the mutts were in such a hurry. It was a postcard-pretty day.

I walked around to the back and fed the chickens while I waited. The big dogs are in a different zip code by the time Jilda and Taz are ready.

Jogging in place, I did a 360 to try and take it all in. The only sound was the wind rustling leaves and the sound of my breath.

The blueberry bushes in the foreground are showing out now. Last week, I transplanted 10 new plants. This will almost double the number of bushes we have. It will take a year or so for them to produce in large quantities, but I'm from the school of thought that you cannot have too many blueberries.

Saturday, November 23, 2019


When I was checking for birthdays today, I saw some of my friends doing the 2009-2019 Challenge. They posted a picture of them from 2009 and one from 2019. 

When I looked at the two pictures, they look identical. It would have taken a magnifying glass to pick out the new wrinkles.

I decided to have some fun with the challenge.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Double dipping

I know I'm double-dipping, but Jilda worked today and I was charged with getting supper. Calling the local Asian restaurant, I ordered the meal we often have on Thursdays.

As I started telling the woman what I wanted to order, she recognized my voice. She said in broken English – I know you. She then recited what we always order. Before hanging up, she said "B redy in 15 minute."

It was raining when I pulled out of my driveway and a light fog was beginning to creep up from low places by the road.

I decided to swing by the lake to see how it looked in the muted light. It wasn't as brilliant as it was a few days ago, but it was still pretty darn good.

The duck volunteered to give me a guided tour, but I told her I had to pick up supper. She squawked as she swam off. I interpreted that to mean, "Suit yourself but I'm going to feast on the beauty of these autumn leaves."

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Late night Gig blues

Tonight's entry will be short. Jilda and I played at the Comer Museum tonight. It's about 90 miles south of where we live.

We've played at the museum before and we love those folks. Tonight, we'd play a while and chat a while.

We just got home and I have the late-night gig blues

The only picture I have was one I took this morning as the sun was waking up.

There's a saying about it but I'm too tired to remember.

Red sky in morning
Is never boring?

I forget.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lost pup

It was a quiet morning. Our freshly poured coffee was still steaming on the coffee table as Jilda and I sat slowly becoming conscience.

All of a sudden, all three dogs went berserk. SHIELDS UP!!!! INCOMING!!!! MAN THE BATTLE STATIONS!!!!!

When I looked outside the window we had a visitor. It was a chocolate lab less than a year old. He was sitting there looking into the window. He seemed to be wondering what it must be like to be a dog inside those windows, lying on beds as big as clouds.

He got the message from our dogs that he was not welcome so he wandered off.

After coffee, I stepped outside to feed the chickens, the lights went off.

All of a sudden, all three dogs went berserk. SHIELDS UP!!!! INCOMING!!!! MAN THE BATTLE STATIONS!!!!!  The dogs hate it when the power goes off because it often means jagged lightning and thunder stomping ever closer. But this morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Stepping back inside, I called the power company and reported the outage before heading back outside to feed the chickens.

When I stepped off of the back deck, there was the pup. I stopped in my tracks and then looked around. All three gates into our fenced backyard were closed. Yet there he was.

I opened the gate and shushed him out.

Before I came out of the chicken pen, he was back in the yard. Jilda, who'd walked out to the deck said that he'd jumped the fence. It's been a while since a dog young enough to jump our fence has come around.

I put this picture out on Facebook to try and find his mama and daddy. The post was shared 38 times. Hopefully, we will hear from his folks tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The beauty of that sky

When I stopped to get fuel this evening, it was dark-thirty as my daddy used to say. 

But the sun was stubborn and would not go gentle into that good night – to steal a phrase from Dylan Thomas.

When the pump was running, I clicked the keeper walked a few steps away, to remove a light pole and other stuff from the frame. Another truck was about to pull up, but he saw I was trying to take a picture.  He switched off his lights and waited to let me get a better shot.

I snapped a few quick frames and raised my hand in thanks. He got it. It didn't take a weatherman to recognize the beauty of that sky.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Evening falling

There is a small lake not far from where we live. I stop by there often to watch the ducks and geese that live there.

Sometimes near the edge of the water on the far side of the lake, largemouth bass will hit the top of the water to grab a minnow or a dragonfly that ventures too close to the surface. The motion is much too sudden to capture on film.

A few days ago when I stopped by, the action was much slower. The sun behind me to the west was painting one last picture on the autumn leaves on the far side of the lake.

There will be a few more chances to take pictures over the coming days, but the frigid weather that came through last week nipped most of the leaves.

I'm glad I managed to snap this picture.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

If you only look

The walking path 
Changes daily.
Some days mushrooms flourish.
Some days wildflowers 
Dance in the wind
Like free spirits on holiday.
Today was noisy, as we
Walked on a carpet of dry leaves.
Each day there is beauty,
If you only look.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Learning new things

I attended a beehive building class today. In the short time, I've been keeping bees, I've learned that beehive components are not cheap to buy. One beehive with the basic components can cost upwards of a hundred dollars.

My bee mentor told me that anyone with tools and basic woodworking skills could build most of the components for a fraction of what it cost to buy them.

The class early this morning great! We took 1 inch by 12 inch boards 12 ft long and when they came out the other end of the shed, they were the components I need to expand our apiary.

The good thing for me is that I already have most of the tools I need thanks to my father-in-law Sharkey. He was a tool man. He bought tools on sale even if he didn't need them.

I have tables saws, drills, routers, and most of the other things I need.

Learning new things is exhilarating. There were about 20 other new beekeepers there and we spent a few hours learning how to put it all together.

I can't wait to get some wood and build some beehives.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Damn the man

The rain was intermittent today. One moment it the sun was out and the next it was spitting rain. The sky looked confused.

Normally, I'm off on Friday, but the editor asked if I would consider shooting a picture. We didn't have a lot on our calendar so I told him I'd take the picture.

On the way home, I noticed the grass growing beside a plot of land where the trees had been recently harvested. It's like the reeds grow in defiance of the timber cutters.

Damn the man! We're going to grow as tall as we can before the winter becomes too cruel.

The stalks of grass probably weren't saying that, but those are the words that came to mind as I focused on this image.

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 are more like my 
Brain passing through 
A sausage grinder.

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


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


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.


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