Thursday, April 30, 2020

Things we've learned

Several weeks ago, I interviewed a gentleman about gardening. He was a wealth of knowledge. His words were measured. His knowledge came not only from experience but from a degree in horticulture.

He owns greenhouses, raised beds, orchards, and bees. I have a notebook full of things he told me about gardening that I didn't know, but he also shared a vendor that sells seeds to commercial farmers.

We had to fill out an application to order from them. After they vetted the application, we received a catalog in the mail. It has a huge selection of plant seeds that we could not find in the other catalogs.

We did an order today, and we'll have to knock off a liquor store to put money in our account before the check clears.

If there's one thing that we've done during this stay-home situation, it is to focus on our land and how to make the most of what we have.
Below is a picture I took six years ago. I can't wait until our zinnias bloom this year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tulip poplar

A lite mist fell as we walked this morning.
The first wave of rain had moved off to the northeast,
but a second wave was less than an hour behind.
We walked with a purpose...
The purpose was to get our steps in before getting soaked to the bone.
On the first lap down the barn road,
I noticed that a tulip poplar blossom had fallen.
They are so high in the canopy, that few 
get a chance to see their beauty.
The wind must have brought this one
down for us to enjoy.
It would have been tragic
not to have noticed it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Todd hit the lottery

Lasts week, while driving back from an assignment, I got behind a pickup truck pulling a trailer. Up ahead, I saw something small on the edge of the road, and the next few seconds played out in what seemed like slow motion.

A puppy ran into the road directly in front of the truck. Thankfully, the driver wasn't driving fast and reacted quickly to dodge the tiny creature.

I slammed on the breaks and stopped in the center of the road to block traffic.

The commotion frightened the puppy, and it ran back into the tall weeds at the edge of the road. It had rained hard the night before, and the thigh-high grass was still wet.

The little dog had wallowed out a small circle in the tall weeds. As I approached, it laid down in his "shelter" shaking and whimpering.

I looked around, and there were no houses nearby. Someone had probably tossed the pup out to manage on its own.

My pants were already wet, so I squatted down and whistled gently. To my surprise, it began wagging its tail, stood, and took tentative steps toward me.  A moment later, I scooped him up.  He trembled in my hands.

As I waded back through the grass, a car approached from the rear. I think she was annoyed that I was blocking the road until she saw the tiny dog.

Once home, the first thing out of Jilda's mouth was, "It's beautiful, but we CANNOT adopt another dog." I knew she was right, no matter how cute the pup was.

Calling my friend at the local shelter, I told her I'd found a dog and asked if she would consider helping to find it a forever home.

She said finding homes for cute puppies was easy. I told her I'd bring it down the next day.

I took a picture and posted it on social media, but I was fairly sure no one would claim the pup.

I was afraid that one of our big dogs might hurt the pup, so I texted our niece Samantha to ask if she could keep the pup until I could take it to the rescue shelter the next morning. She agreed.

The next morning, she sent me a text saying that she and her son Jordan had decided that they would like to keep the puppy.

I felt a little bad at first until I saw them walking up the hill to our house with the little dog happily running ahead of them.

A few days later, they named the "pupper"  Todd. It looks to me like Todd hit the lottery?

Monday, April 27, 2020

More bee news and other stuff

I wrote three stories for the paper today. I'd done the interviews over the last several days, so today I tapped keys.

Mid-morning, I took a break and went to the bee yard to put the swarm I captured yesterday afternoon into their new home.

The chores went smoothly. I'm feeling more confident each time I open the boxes and look at their handiwork.

When Jilda and I walked down late afternoon, to see if they'd settled in, all seven hives were rocking and rolling. Bees flying out, and bees flying in with pollen. I plan to take my big camera down there with a telephoto lens to try and get some closeups. 

The apiary looks a little ragtag but that's because I've bought new equipment and mixed it in with equipment that I've inherited or bought second hand.

Now that I'm learning more about how things work, I plan to do a better job on the aesthetics. In fact, when we get our economic impact check, I plan to buy Jilda one of the better quality bee suits so that she can paint designs and art on our hives. 

This picture is one I took today when I dropped off six dozen eggs at the local produce stand. The owner gives us a credit for each dozen we deliver. Last month, we got our produce free. I love America.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

And here's the news for Sunday, April 26, 2020

I know I talk about the weather a lot, so feel free to scan past the first paragraph. But, today was like the first time Jilda and I stood at the Golden Gate Bridge and looked across the bay at the city. The wind off the water had a nip, but the quality of the light from the afternoon sun made me feel as if I were seeing the light for the first time. Today was kind of like that.

The temperature dropped into the 40s last night, but it warmed up quickly. The dogs wrestled, nipped,
barked and chased everything with legs or wings. When we rounded the shady side of the house, the rhododendron that my mama gave me 30 years ago had bloomed.  Jilda had snapped a picture a few days ago, but today it was out in its full glory. Of course, I had to snap a photo too.

I'd taken the old tiller to the shop a few weeks ago and picked it up on Friday. 

This morning after our walk, I fired that baby up and tilled the middles of the inground garden. After I finished, Jilda and I saw on the garden swing and blessed out for a while admiring our contribution to Mother Nature's work.

After a pleasant Sunday afternoon nap, I called my neighbor and asked if I could come over and shovel up a load of horse manure for the garden. He was was happy to oblige. The horses observed from a distance. I'm guessing they were thinking - what an idiot!

Once home, I unloaded the trailer onto our compost pile. Our garden will be sooooooo happy.

Jilda stepped down to tell me that our bees had swarmed again. 


This time, I used the tools that my beekeeping mentor gave me earlier in the week, and the capture went down without a hitch. So once I put them in a box in the morning, we will have seven beehives.

I'm hoping our bees pollinate our half of the county and help increase the bounty for all our friends and neighbors.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

And now we have six

It's been an exciting week at HomeFolk Honey. Back in December, we had four healthy hives. At the end of March, we had three. I ordered a new package of bees, but the delivery date wasn't for a month.

Then, earlier this week, one of my three remaining hives swarmed. That means that the queen bee left and took about 15,000 of her friends with her. I tried to capture the runaways to put them in an empty hive here. That didn't happen.

My beekeeping mentor could hear the disappointment in my voice when I called. He'd captured several swarms this springs, so he gave me a hive to replace the one I missed.

I got a message from the apiary that sells bees that my package came in, and I could pick them up today.

Jilda and I headed to northwest Russelville, Al. just after coffee this morning. This town is near the edge of Alabama. In fact, I think if there had been a westward wind, I could have thrown a rock to Mississippi.

We picked up a three-pound package of bees with a new queen. About 10,000 bees were buzzing in the back of our SUV.

This afternoon, I installed the new package in an empty hive. When I finished, I loaded up all the beekeeping stuff on my trailer and headed toward the house. Jilda and the local volunteer fire chief were standing at the back fence.

It seems that he had a swarm in his yard. He'd seen on social media that I'd lost a swarm, so when the buzzing started in his yard, he thought of me.

Loading my gear in the pickup, I drove to the chief's house. Thankfully, this swarm was reasonably low and easy to catch.

We started the week with three hives, now we have six.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Message in a bottle

The rain moved off to the east yesterday. The clouds moved out just in time for a beautiful sunset. Today has been stellar. 

Walking this afternoon, I came across an old bottle next to the trail. It's been hiding there for over 40 years. I know, because I would never have thrown a bottle down anywhere. As I mentioned before, the previous owner rented the farm out to several families through the years, and they did not respect the land, but I digress...

Today as we walked, I saw the bottle. As Mother Nature often does, she makes the best of the situation. She turned the trash into a tiny terrarium. Maybe she was sending me a message in the bottle.

I admired it for a moment, snapped a picture, then I scooped it up and tossed it into the trash at the barn.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The flowers were thankful

Not much to report
Except, that today
Was mostly cloudy.
The sun came out late in the day.
The flowers were thankful,
And so was I.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sleep soundtrack

It was cooler today than I thought it would be. The sun was shy. We walked, but I had to go back inside on the second lap for longer sleeves.

We did see some interesting grass growing. In years past, I kept the property clipt like a fairway. But one presenter at the bee school last fall said that bees enjoyed unkempt areas.  We decided to allow our property to go hippy'esk.

I did a Google search on the grass but was unable to find anything. I sent the picture to a friend who is knowledgable about all things grassy but haven't heard back from him.

This evening, I had a pickup appointment at Walmart. I'd ordered our things online. Once I arrived, they put our stuff in the back without me getting out of the vehicle. I'd ordered dinner from a local Mexican Restaurant that offers drive-through service.

Tonight, as I write this update, the rain has returned. It's supposed to rain all night. Fat raindrops on a metal roof make a great sleep soundtrack.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Take aways

Today was a workday here. I had a webinar on writing this morning and two interviews with high school seniors after lunch. All these assignments left me hopeful.

When I got home from the interviews this afternoon, Jilda was sitting on the back deck watching the world ease by in slow-mo.

The sun felt warm on my face, but the storms that moved out a few days ago left a cool breeze in its wake.

These last several weeks, the skies have been incredible. Today, while sitting out there on the steps with my pant legs rolled up to get the full benefit of the sun, I realized no planes were flying overhead. No cotton-row contrails, no high-altitude whisper, or any signs of aircraft overhead.

One thing I did notice was a white cloud as big as Ohio inching across the sky like a lonely drifter. It was a beautiful moment.

The one thing the current situation has done is that it has slowed life down. I have few places that I need to be. Even though gas is cheap, I haven't burned a tank of gas in weeks.

Neither the garden, the bees, or the sky seem to be fretting about all that's going on around us. Maybe there are things we can take away from this.

Monday, April 20, 2020

A day of learning

NOTE: This is an update on yesterday’s post.
I put on my bee suit this morning as the coffee dripped and walked down to the apiary. Standing behind, I placed my hands on the sides to feel for that tale-tale vibration of happy bees. A sense of unease trickled up from my stomach. I laid my ear on the top of the hive. Nothing.

When I flipped open the hive top, the box was empty. I'm not sure where they went, but they were no longer on the property. I felt as if I had failed them.

Later, I called my beekeeper buddy and told him the news. He understood why I was bothered.

My research from yesterday showed me some things I can do in the future, so when I asked my mentor about building feeders, he told me to come over this afternoon that he had a couple he would give me.

When I showed up, he not only had feeders, he had a professional coat and veil that was still in the shipping container. He said I could take it and reimburse him later, but I wrote him a check.

He was working his bees when I drove up and asked if I wanted to help for a while. I put on my new suit and started opening hives. For the first time, I found the queen bee in a hive. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but with 10,000 bees on a box not much bigger than a toaster, it's pretty hard finding the queen.

I also got to do a hive inspection with someone explaining what to look for and what it looked like up close. It was exhilarating.

As I was taking off my bee suit, he asked me if I had a tie-down strap in my truck. I did. He walked over to the edge of his apiary and picked up a NUC, which is an abbreviated beehive. It only has five frames, but it was full of bees. If it had not been a time of social distancing, I would have hugged his neck.

I learned more today in about a half-hour in an apiary with an experienced beekeeper that I've learned in all the books I've read so far.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Try and try again

It's been an old rainy day here. We did have a short reprieve in the morning so Jild and I took advantage and walked the dogs.  Once down at the peach tree, I saw that the swarm of bees that I tried to capture yesterday, were swarmed high in the tree :( 

Either I didn't get the queen yesterday, or she came out and went back to the tree. Before our walk ended, it started raining again.

I phoned my beekeeping mentor about what to do. He said the water would make them less energetic and to try again. I did.

Later, when I checked back later, they were no longer in the tree.

This means either they stayed in their new hive, or they left the property for parts unknown. I will know tomorrow.

Other than that little bit of outside activity, we've spent most of the day indoors. We took about a two-hour nap which we haven't done in a long time. It was refreshing.

The rain will move out tonight and hopefully, when I stepped to the apiary tomorrow morning, the captured swarm will still be there. I have my fingers crossed,

I know I said last night's picture was the last one for the week, but I lied. Today has not been good for pictures, so I dug one up from when I was a kid in Sloss Hollow.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

I need a better veil

Jilda and I made a run to the coop today to get feed for the chickens. I donned my masks and headed in. There were only a few people there, so keeping a safe distance was easy.

Once home, Jilda and I decided to take the dogs for a walk. When we got to the beehives, I heard buzzing. I knew before I looked up that it was a swarm of bees.

Jilda herded the dogs back to the fence, and I headed to the honey house to get the equipment I needed to hopefully capture the swarm.

The bee suit and veil I use were once I bought from Amazon as part of a starter kit. As I became acquainted with more beekeepers, I realized there are much better bee suits on the market. I got a catalog from one of the providers that my other bee-buddies use, and I have the new suit in my wishlist, but we've tried to hold on to our money right now until the world situation changes...but I digress.

Today, when I went down to bump the swarm into my mop bucket, not all the bees fell in. I dumped the ones that did into the new hive I'd placed next to the others and went back to the Peachtree for the rest of the bees.

A gentle wind out of the north blew the front of my veil against my face, and a honeybee stung me on the tip of my nose. A second later, I sneezed.

I made three attempts to capture the swarm, but I won't know until tomorrow if I was successful. This much I know for sure, I will use some of my mad money to buy a better veil.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday stuff

This is the last of the old pictures for this week. This one is of my first-grade class in 1957. I'm third from the right in the second row.

I can still remember the smell of the paste we used in class. The fat pencils we used were made from cedar. When you sharpened them, it smelled like Christmas. 

We spent hours in the garden today. Everything is not planted and we're waiting on Mother Nature to do her magic.

Tonight, I am whupped. It's time for tea and then a pillow against my face.

I hope you've received your stimulus check. We haven't yet :( 

First Row: David Washington, Unknown, Judy Cochran, Melissa Sides, Rosie Robbins, Larry Kizzah (maybe), Kitty Laughlin, Kenneth Rich, Paula McClain, Sara Spradlin. Second Row: Ruth Burroughs, Carolyn Dickie, Patsy Morton, Johnny Fendley, Linda Freeman, Dorothy Hicks, Rick Watson, Eugene Myrick, Charlotte Ellingburg. Third Row: Brenda Freeman, Roger Boyd, Deborah Hodges, Terry Wilson, Randy Peterson, Kay Goodwin, Kathy Daniels, Diane ????, Johnny Rainey.  The teacher is Ms. Carter.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Road trip

I plucked another photo from the archives. This one is from the day after Thanksgiving, 1968. Jilda and I had been dating for about six months.

Her daddy didn't trust me as far as he could throw me. Somehow Jilda convinced her parents to let us make a day trip from Sumiton, Alabama, where she lived, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and we would be going with her friends Dale and Debbie Short, who was married at the time.

Jilda's dad trusted Dale, so the trip was on, but we had to be home by bedtime. Gatlinburg is well over four hours there and four hours back.

We woke the roosters when we left out. The trip was uneventful. Jilda and I swooned in the backseat while the hills and hollows drifted past our windows like a movable piece of art.

The Smoky Mountains were beautiful. We ate a quick lunch and then drove around on curvy, narrow roads. We saw wild turkey, raccoons, and a black bear. The deer were so accustomed to tourists that they hung out by the roadside.

A few hours after lunch, we knew the road home was long, so we headed south. Before we left the mountains, clouds swept in, and it began to snow.

We stopped several times for photo ops. Our friend Dale was a born photographer. He's the one that gave me my first lessons in photography. He took this "explorer" picture of Jilda and me before we headed home.

By the time we pulled into her driveway, she was asleep on my shoulder.

We have been to the Smokies a few times since this picture was taken, but we haven't been in years. I think after the "stay-at-home" situation is over, we needed to take a road trip, but I think maybe we will spend the night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Moments I will always remember

I played baseball until I graduated from high school. Each spring, I gathered with a group of my friends to practice on a dusty field. I wish there had been a counter on my bat because I must have swung that Louisville Slugger at least a million times.

Baseball is a game of hurry up and wait, but it resonated with me because I came to be good at it.

The field behind on which we played was behind the grammar school. It was red clay. During the long dry days of summer, it often got dusty. Stealing bases and sliding on that field changed the color of uniforms from light slate to sepia.

Even though that was sixty years ago, I can close my eyes and smell the leather of my old glove.

I wasn't much of a long-ball hitter, but I was fast enough to get a lot of singles and doubles.

After little league, I moved up to the pony league where the competition was much stiffer. The guys I played against were often very good. Dreams of making it to the "bigs" kept young men on their toes. They practiced hard, even during the offseason.

I remember the last pony-league game I played. It was an Allstars game, and I was the starting catcher. Since it was the final game of the season, the coach told us all that he planned to play everyone in the dugout.

I started the game and batted sixth in the rotation. I started off the second inning. The first pitch was a fastball on the outside corner. My swing was right out of the training manual. The ball sailed over the center-field fence.

Halfway through the game, I came up to bat for the last time of my career. The same pitcher threw the same pitch. Again, I knocked the ball out of the park. I heard a mother from the opposing teams say, "Oh no! Not again!"

We won that game by a half a dozen runs. It was a few moments of my life that I will always remember.

Another picture I found this week was one I don't think I've ever seen. I'm on the second row in the center of the picture.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Time machine

This weekend, I was looking for senior portraits for Jilda and me. The idea was to post them on Facebook. I started to ignore it, but the idea was to share things that lifted spirits. 

The more I thought about it, the better I liked the idea, so I went on a mission. I would have sworn that both our pictures were online, but they were nowhere to be found.

I started looking through old pictures that I had not yet scanned. Looking through old photos is always fun.

I found our portraits, but there were tons of other pictures that I pulled out to scan. I shared many of them with friends and family.

There was one picture that I came across that I had never shared before. It was Jilda and me a few years after we married. '

I remember the day this picture was taken. We'd hiked a path down to the Mulberry River and sat for a long while with our feet in the cool water. We saw a beaver and a pileated woodpecker. We enjoyed the sun and the sound of the water. It was a remarkable day.

It's funny how old photographs can serve as time machines. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

The loss of a musical brother

My Army bunk the first week I was in Panama in early 1972 seemed like the loneliest place on the planet. It felt as if I were a million miles from home. Thankfully, a pair of headphones tethered to a record player provided a lifeline that kept me connected to home.
My taste in music had changed after entering the Army. I still enjoyed the fluffy stuff that I listened to in high school, but I longed for something more. 
I ventured to the PX on one Friday evening and came across John Prine's first album. From the time the needle of the phonograph touched the grove of that vinyl, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. 
The music was simple, but the words reached deep and spoke to things in my life that I knew to be true.  
The guitar playing on the album was not beyond my reach. Within a few hours, I'd learned how to play a song on the record that felt as if it had been written about Walker County. It was called "Paradise."
Before the weekend was out, I knew and could play every song on the album. 
A few months after completing my service in the Army, I returned home to Alabama. It only took a few months for Jilda and me to get together.
She had listened to John Prine too. We quickly learned "Paradise" and "Angel from Montgomery." 
In those days, one of our friends had a house party every weekend. "Y'all come and bring the guitar!" Our dance cards were punched every weekend. The most requested song we did then was me playing guitar and Jilda singing "Angel from Montgomery." She made that song hers.
Jilda and I had the good fortune to see John perform twice. Once in a small theater in the mid-1970s, again in the 1980s. 
Prine influenced the songs that Jilda and I wrote for the past 40 years. Bob Dylan loomed large on many of our songwriting buddies. I've learned from him too, but the music of John Prine was accessible, and what he wrote resonated with me. When listening to his music, it was almost as if he were sitting there in the room with you saying, "Here's a story about my grandpa." 
The two years my mother spent in a nursing home, I visited her every day with few exceptions. During my hours there, I made friends with many of the residents in nearby rooms. Often, they would roll their chairs into the hall to watch as people passed.
From the beginning, these hall people "snuck" into my heart. I learned their names, where they were from, and what kind of things made them smile. John Prine's song, "Hello In There" could have been written about my friends in the hall. 
Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger
 And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day
 Old people just grow lonesome
 Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"
Last week, when I learned that John had contracted the coronavirus and was on life support, it hit me as if he were my brother. In a sense, he was. When he died, it broke my heart.
This pandemic has hit the world hard. Most of what we hear are numbers, but as one of our friends in the music business said this week, "Now the numbers are beginning to have names."
RIP John.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Dodging storms

I came across a cache of old pictures I hadn't seen in years. I came across a picture of me that was taken on Easter Sunday.

I didn't dress up much, but Easter Sunday was a special day. After my mama snapped this picture of me, we loaded up and drove to my Aunt Nannie or Aunt Edra Mae's (they rotated from year to year) house to eat lunch and hunt eggs.

We've been hunkered down here for most of the afternoon. A line of storms moved through before dark and knocked off our power for a few minutes but then it came back on. Communities all around us had trees knocked down.

Even as I type, another line is approaching. We're hoping it's just rain. I'll do a follow-up tomorrow.

I hope it's been a good day for you all. Stay safe.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Red Tip Photinia

I've lost count of the days. My blog, buddy Joy has been keeping a daily journal. Since I write here each day, it's kind of a journal, but there are things I don't write here.

Pulling my private journal from my desk, I started making notes today, and I will go back and fill in the days that I remember.

But today, we did an online order at the local store, and the clerk came outside and loaded it into our car. I'd never used this service until the past several weeks. It comes in handy.

Once home, we recorded a video of one of our original songs and posted it on YouTube. We wrote it with one of our songwriter buddies, and it seemed to be a good time to post it. You can hear it here.

After lunch, I decided to cut grass and do some overdue weed-eating chores. It felt good to be on the lawnmower. The smell of freshly mowed grass is something I learned to love early in life.

Cutting grass was something I could do to earn money while in high school. I cut enough grass to cover Kansas.

This evening, Jilda cooked corn, speckled butter beans, mashed potatoes, and fried okra. She prepared a baked ham to go with the meal. It was heaven'ish.

After this blog post, we plan to watch a movie that we watch every year at Easter. It's called Chocolate. It's a beautiful movie.

Oh yes, today's picture is a Red Tip Photinia that's down at the barn.

Y'all be safe.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Take heart

Jilda and I walked early this morning. It was chilly, so the kids next door opted out to spend a little more time under their warm quilts.

On the first lap, I noticed the trees that line both sides of the barn road had grown thicker almost overnight. Today they formed a canopy that shaded that leg of our trek.

On the first lap, Jilda takes Taz along on a leash. Unlike the other dogs, Taz meanders. She looks for grubs, moles, or any deer poop she can find. It's her belief that it adds to her panache. 

So, while they meandered, I walked ahead, looking for photo ops. Midway down to the barn, I noticed this leaf that had fallen overnight. 

It reminded me that I should always try to take heart even during trying times.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Take if from the horses

Social distancing. I know it's a new concept, but it wasn't hard for me to grasp.
Keep a distance between each other or risk dying a horrible death.
I was born and night, but not last night. 

These horses understand social distancing so I can't understand why the concept is so difficult for people around here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Dog tales and apple blossoms

It's been an old gray day today. The rain moved out in the early morning hours, but it didn't take the clouds with it.

Even though it's been cloudy, the air was heavy with humidity making it hard to breathe at times.

We tried to walk just after lunch, but the neighbor up the road has a new rescue chihuahua that doesn't respect boundaries. It came charging into the field behind our house acting aggressively. I wasn't worried because it weighed about 12 pounds. But, Ol' Hook is deaf and tips the scales about 95 pounds, took a dim view of the behavior.

It was all Jilda and I could do to prevent a disaster in the making. We finally got our dogs back in our fence and tried to shoo the little dog home, but he wasn't having any part of it.

I tried to call the neighbor but her number had changed. I went to her back fence and shouted for her but nada. Finally, I called someone in her family and told them to contact her about the situation. Hopefully, she will keep the little critter in her house and yard.

By late afternoon, you could see promises of sunlight which was enough for Jilda and me to take the dogs out for a stroll around the property.

The kids came over and we all walked for a while.

I think I mentioned a few days ago that the apple tree had finally bloomed, but I don't think I posted a pic. Below is one that I shot today.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020


I had to cover a city council meeting today. It was closed to the public, and all the people that attended were spaced at least six feet apart. I wore gloves and a mask. It looked as if I was going to knock off the council meeting and steal all their stationary.

As it turns out, there wasn't a quorum, so the mayor acted on several items that were urgent. When I left, I bathed with an alcohol hand sanitizer. I had to make one more stop, but it was for a picture. I stood more than 10 feet away from the subject while taking the shot.

I'd prefer to stay home, but as a journalist, I have a responsibility to write about the things going on around us.

Once I got home, I heard Jilda and the kids walking. I shucked off my clothes, washed again, and put on my walking shorts and joined them – again, keeping a safe distance. Over at the edge of the field, I saw some wild daisies blooming. I felt compelled to report on their appearance.

I will be glad when this situation passes, and we can return to what becomes the new normal.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Search and rescue

When our niece Samantha was about five years old, the coal company that owns the property down behind the barn decided to cut timber.

We had no right to that property, but we'd treated it as if it were ours for years. We walked each day and kept the walking path maintained. Wildflowers, wild honeysuckle (azaleas) plum trees, and dogwood were everywhere.

We knew this would not be the same property once the timber was cut. Jilda and Samantha went on a search and rescue mission one day while I was at work with the phone company.

They dug up as much of the beauty as they could bring back to our farm. One of the things they brought back was what Jilda's mom and MaMaw Mamie called wild thrift. When I Googled the flower, I found that the real name is Creeping Phlox.

It appears each year around the roots of the maple tree in the front yard.

The land behind the barn has recovered, and the trees are taller now than they were when the loggers swept through.

I think it gets more beautiful every year.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Garden stuff

Jilda and I worked outside for most of the day. I've tried to order potting soil from our local provider because I can pay with a credit card over the phone, and the crew will load it in the truck. But they ran out, and there's no estimated delivery date. So, I went to plan "B."

The tractor has a bucket on the front, so I went into the woods on the back of our property and got several scoops of "woods dirt."  Had Jilda's mom Ruby still been living, that would have been her first recommendation.

It was chilly this morning, but after the sun came out, it got too toasty for us to work. We'll get up in the morning and plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, strawberries, potatoes, and sunflowers.

There's a lot of other things that we'll plant as well, but I didn't want to bore you.

Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan are doing a garden too. They are soooo excited. Even though Sam's older brother Haven lives about 12 miles away, he decided to break up a garden spot for his family too.

Today, he and his family came up, and we all sat around outside to enjoy the sun and each other's distant company.

Haven and his wife Alesha have an infant son, Aiden. Alesha laid down in a hammock. She disappeared into the bottom, but young Aiden was alert and didn't miss a thing.

Friday, April 03, 2020

The way my brain feels tonight.

Some days my brain feels like a fishing cork. 
Not a new spongy one, 
but an old one that's spent too much time in the river. 
Hard around the edges. 
Fish make fun of it.
That's no cork, that's a soggy turd.
Yep, that's the way my brain feels tonight.

Fortunately, I snapped a picture of our new crabapple tree that is now in bloom

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Out of words

I've written stories for the newspaper in the last few days about how COVID-19 impacts our community. The people I interviewed were friends. Two have the virus and are in quarantine. The other friend lost her mother last Friday, and her family buried her on Monday.

Tonight, I'm out of words. I usually write my column on Wednesday, but I still haven't come up with an idea that resonates.

The plan is to get a good night's sleep and start fresh in the morning.

Y'all stay safe.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

More important things to share

I saw a thread on social media today bashing journalists. As a journalist, it bothered me. When I sat down a while ago to write, I wrote my thoughts on the situation.

After several paragraphs, I paused and began to backspace the words from my page. I decided there were more important things to share tonight.

While inspecting the blackberries bushes at the edge of the garden, the Tigertail Butterfly almost landed on my finger.

Please consider sharing

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