Sunday, May 31, 2020

Stained glass

I've always loved stained glass. When I was in Panama, there was a small shop tucked between a place that sold cameras and electronics, and rug emporium was a tiny shop that sold intricate stained glass.

The front of the store was glass from ceiling to floor, and the stained glass in that shop was stunning. I went in several times just to let the color wash over my face.

When I got home and married Jilda, I tried my hand at making stained glass pieces that hung in windows. Looking back, I realize that my pieces could have been described as primitive art, but I enjoyed working with glass.

Fast forward to now. I took a mediocre picture of a flower in my yard and looked at my fancy filters for something that could rescue my sad little picture.

I came across a filter that said stain glass. Obviously, I had to give it a try.

I'm happy I did.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

New plant

We have a yoga friend we haven't seen since early March. She and her husband love fresh eggs. This morning we had to deliver eggs to the produce stand and pick up some fresh veggies. Our yoga friend met us there.

We all put our masks on and stood in the parking lot to catch up. She and her husband are delightful people. We gave her two dozen eggs and some young cucumber plants for her garden. She was ecstatic.

After she left, we went inside to deliver six dozen eggs. They give us credit toward our produce purchases for each carton of eggs we provide. It's a win-win.

On the way out, I saw a beautiful Mandevilla plant. Actually, it was two plants in the same pot. We had a Mandevilla plant for several years, but for some reason, it did not survive the winter.

I stepped back inside and used some of my mad money to buy the plant. Jilda knew a perfect location for it. Kodak and I had to agree.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Sunsets are too rare and beautiful to minimize

Glancing at my Fitbit band this evening, I have 13,000 steps. Too bad, the band doesn't measure lifting, stretching, digging, cussing, and so forth.

Jilda cooks practically every meal we eat, so in addition to all the work she did today, she also cooked pasta for lunch.

She'd planned to grill veggies for supper this evening. I could tell she was whupped, so when I suggested that I drive to town and get Chinese takeout, she smiled.

Showering off the grime, I grabbed the keys and my wallet and was on the road. There were several people ahead of me standing outside, waiting for their takeout, but I poked my head in to let them know I was outside.

Soon I was heading home with the goods. It was all I could do to keep from pulling over at a wide spot in the road and eating the entire order.

Coming up the mountain, I rounded a curve and saw a spectacular sunset on the cusp. I pulled to the side of the road and snapped a few pictures with my cell phone. I had to sit for a moment in the idling truck so that I could take in the moment.

Sunsets are too rare and beautiful to minimize.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Fun time of year

My walking view today. One of the elderberry bushes we planted several weeks ago bloomed today. I had no idea we'd have berries our first year, but Jilda says the blossom is a good sign that we'll have some. We'll see.

As we walked on toward the fig bush to check on its progress, I almost stepped on this little fella.

I'm happy that all these critters are hanging around here. We don't use any kind of poison on our property, so I'm guessing that has something to do with it, but who knows.

Our garden is coming along nicely. We need to get the mulch out this weekend to keep the weeds down.

It's a fun time of year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Virginia creeper

It has rained on and off for most of the day. After coffee, I moved the laptop to the screened porch to write my column for this weekend. 

When the clouds moved off to the north, the sun came out. It was a brief visit, but Jilda and I both threw on our shoes and got some steps in.

Everything is so lush here. I could have used verdant to describe the foliage, but I didn't want to sound hoity-toity' that a word?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of crimson. When I stepped over, I saw that it was a leaf. It was the leaf from a Virginia creeper vine. 

Here's the thing – I struggle with the names of trees, shrubs, and vines that grow all around me. In the past when I've written about them, I would always's from a tree I could not name.

Today, I downloaded an app on my iPhone called Leafsnap. Within minutes of downloading it, I'd identified a tree whose name has stumped (pun) us for years. It was a red maple. 

Then tonight, I almost described the crimson leaf as being from a vine I could not name. Then, I pulled out my phone, click don the app, and pulled up the picture. In a matter of seconds, it told me that it was a Virginia creeper. I was so happy to know the name of something so beautiful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A fine gift indeed ~ my column for the weekend

I ran by the Riverside Fly Shop this week and had a long sit-down talk with Randy Jackson. He has been my fly-fishing mentor for years. When I first met him, he asked me what I fished with. Stepping back to the truck, I reached behind the seat and pulled out the old Shakespeare fly rod that my dad had given me. He smiled when I placed it in his hand. “This is a fine gift,” he said. I agreed.

It turns out that when Jackson was a boy he had a Shakespeare fly rod too. We talked for a long time about the love of fishing and spending time on the water.

The Shakespeare was the perfect gift to give me, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that by giving me his old fly rod, dad was giving me an even greater gift – the love of fly fishing.

Through the years, I’ve spent countless hours waist-deep in the frigid water below Lewis Smith Dam. There were times I caught fish one after another. I’m a catch and release kind of guy, but there are few things more thrilling than trying to land a beautiful rainbow trout.

Several years ago, when I had some mad money in my pocket, I stopped by the fly shop to look for a new rod. Randy asked me to get the Shakespeare and meet him out back. I demonstrated my casting technique.

Casting an artificial fly that weighs just slightly more than a feather, I could only send it about 20 feet. He then handed me a graphite rod with the same fly, and I sent it twice as far as I did with the old rod. I was sold.

Even though I bought the new rod, I couldn’t stand the thoughts of getting rid of the old Shakespeare.

This week was the 35th anniversary of my dad’s death. I ran by the Green Top and got a BBQ, fries, and a Styrofoam cup of ice tea. Dad loved those sandwiches, but he preferred a cold beer with his.

I decided to visit my dad for a while as I ate my lunch. Heading toward Davis Cemetery, I rolled down the windows on my truck and rested my arm on the door as I drove. If you rode anywhere with my dad in the spring or summer, the windows were down. We had to talk loudly to compensate for the sound of the wind rushing by the open window.

Clicking on my blinker, I turned into the historic cemetery and drove slowly to the top of the hill. The gravel crunched under my tires as I pulled up close to his grave at the top of the hill.

Stepping outside, I flipped down the tailgate and sat down to eat my BBQ. The sun was warm. It’s peaceful in that cemetery. I could hear doves off in the distance.

I sat for a long while and told dad all the news that had happened since the last time I visited. I could almost imagine him asking me if I’d done and fly fishing.

Had he asked, I would have told him that it’s been too long since I last wet a hook.

Finishing my sandwich, I tossed the bag into the floorboard of my truck, and I stepped over to my dad’s grave. As I pulled the grass around the edge of the tombstone, I promised him that Shakespeare and I would be on the water before the end of the week.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Fresh veggies from the garden

I usually work on Monday, but I took the holiday off. I don't feel comfortable saying happy Memorial Day, because it's a solemn holiday. I've spent time thinking about family and friends who gave their lives for America.

The morning sky was stunning. By mid-morning, it was obvious the day would be toasty. The bees seemed to rejoice in heat.

Jilda fixed a small rack of ribs, potato salad, and baked beans for lunch. Our niece Samantha and my great-nephew Jordan joined us. It was scrumptious. 

This evening for supper, Jilda cooked squash and potatoes that we picked from our garden today. She threw in some frozen peas. There's nothing like eating veggies from your own garden.

It's been a good day. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Gardens and stuff

Our garden is doing great. The last few nights, it has rained. When I went outside early this morning, you could almost hear stuff growing.

This evening, Jilda and I walked over to her brother's house. He is our niece Samanta's dad, and Jordan's granddad. He was sitting on the porch as we walked up.

They all have worked hard in their garden this spring, and it shows. The plot is small, but it has the vegetables they love. 

This evening, at sunset, we sat on their porch and watched the light change. It was a beautiful few minutes. I can't tell you the last time we did that.

As we walked home, I stopped long enough to snap a picture of his blue hydrangeas. The blossoms have popped out over the last few days. By midweek, they will be baby blue.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The storm clouds agreed

Every high school in the county held graduation ceremonies last night. It's still not safe to do them indoors, so all of them were held outside on the football field at 7:30 p.m.

Photographers from the paper fanned out and documented the event. My assignment was Dora High School, which is the school where I graduated in May of 1968.

I took the picture below at 7:15 p.m. A moment after I took this picture, a bolt of lightning as wide as an interstate slammed down three miles north of where I stood. I know this because 20 seconds after the thunder rolled, I got a notification from the weather app on my phone telling me.

A voice came over the loudspeaker, saying the ceremony would be delayed until the storm passed.

As it turns out, the clouds finally drifted off to the east and let the seniors have their moment. I was happy for them.

The coronavirus cheated these kids out of a magical time in their lives. There is no way to recapture it. The valedictorian's speech shared remarkable insight. The gist - things happen. Life goes on.

I wish the best for these kids. They deserve a few breaks. I glad the storm clouds agreed.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A perfect gift

Our nephew Haven surprised me today with a great gift. He was working at his dad's house next door and called me to come over. I was cutting grass, but a break sounded good.

Call me lazy, but I wheeled over on the riding lawnmower. 

He found the gift at Tractor Supply and knew that I'd love it. I did. As I drove back through the front yard to park the mower, Jilda stepped outside and snapped a picture.

Jilda is doing the wall of the back deck with all kinds of interesting things. The sign was a perfect fit.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Warm day for bees

This spring has been wacky. Warm, cold, cool, hot, frosty, cold, warm, cool, hot, and so forth. The bees are kind of analog. They are either ON when it's warm or OFF when it's hot. 

There were days I stood in front of the hive for five minutes and only saw worker bees dash out of the hive. I've learned that these are usually cleansing flights. Unlike many humans, they would rather die than poop in their nests. I really wish people around here learned that lesson from bees. I pick up litter every day, I live on a dead-end road, so the people littering live here. Don't get me started....where was I? 

Oh yes, this spring has been wacky, but today was bee weather. It was in the low 80s (F), and when I stepped down to check on the hives, they needed an air controller. 

Unfortunately, I didn't snap a picture today, but I found one that I took several years ago before I started beekeeping. I'm not sure where this girl came from, but I'm glad she posed for the picture.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hoping for a new normal ~ my column from the weekend paper

Jilda and I have planted a garden every year since we married in 1974. Some years it was only a row of sunflowers and a few tomato plants. This year we have the biggest garden we've ever had. There is no tomato on earth better than the ones grown in your own backyard. But having a garden takes commitment. The sheltering in place this year has given us time.

Early in March, we doubled the number of blueberry bushes in our orchard. I wasn't sure the new plants would live. I certainly didn't expect them to have berries the first year. I stand corrected. All but one of them lived. Most of them have berries. We’ve wanted to plant more bushes for years, but I could never find the time.

In early April, I had the good fortune to interview Richard Ford, a professional gardener who lives near Parrish and grows food commercially. In about an hour, Mr. Ford taught me about raised-bed gardening and the best way to grow more food organically.

A few days after the interview, I took the time to build several new raised beds. Today as I sit on the back deck typing these words, I can see our tomatoes swaying in the breeze. They are almost waist high and full of blooms. The peppers, radishes, zucchini, and squash are thriving too.

Mr. Ford also shared the name of one of his seed vendors. We had to fill out an application before they would send us a catalog. It was worth the extra effort because the company offers a much wider variety of seeds than the places we've used in the past.

We planted watermelon, sweet potatoes, and strawberries this week. All of them look happy.

Spending so much time outside has been a gift. The sky has been incredible. In the past, when I looked into the sky, there were planes with cotton contrails flying in every direction. In the last few months, it has been rare to see or hear a plane.

This downtime has also given us more time for walking. Yesterday, I heard our new critter, Kodak barking. He seemed to be really interested in something in the tall grass. When I walked over, I saw that he was trying to get a Box Turtle to play with him. The turtle wasn't having any part of it. He retreated into his shell.

Jilda coaxed Kodak away with one of the treats she carries in her pocket. A second later, the mutt had forgotten all about the turtle and was chasing a butterfly.

I reached down into the grass and gently picked the turtle up and carried it to the edge of the woods. On the way back to join up with Jilda, I found a second turtle a few feet away. I think they may have been courting. I carried the second turtle up and released it beside the first one.

It seems like things will be moving back towards normal in the coming weeks, but I feel that "normal" will be different.

Personally, it is my hope that the new normal gives me enough time to do the things in life that give me joy.

This picture is from last year. Our sunflowers this year are almost waist high. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


When Jilda and I first moved here in 1980, the bank next to the road had gnarly weeds that grew on it. I spent hours using a weed eater clearing that bank.

Apparently, my efforts only annoyed the weeds because, by the time the weed eater cooled off, the weeds had already grown waist high.

Jilda suggested that we plant ivy. I knew that ivy was invasive, but when it took root, it would leave little room for the gnarly weeds.

It took some time, but it did take root. The only time I have to whack weeds now is when trees and shrubs try to sprout on the bank.

Today, as we walked, I took a picture of the ivy. I like it much better than gnarly weeds.

Monday, May 18, 2020

It's been that kind of day

The weather today has been tropical. I'll never forget the day I stepped off the plane in Panama. I remember thinking, I have to get out of this jetwash. The weather was like that for almost two years.

It rained just before I got up this morning. It had stopped, but water from the metal roof was dripping on the back deck. An hour later, the clouds had moved off to the north, the sun was warm, and the air felt like a steam room.

I'd been transcribing a long interview, and needed a break. We slipped on our shoes and headed out to check the garden. I'd noticed yesterday that the squash plants were blooming, but I stepped down and snapped a picture.

The light was harsh, but I took the picture anyhow.

Before we finished two laps around the barn, clouds had moved back in, and the rain was ticking on the leaves of the trees on the barn road. We had just made it back inside when the proverbial bottom fell out.

It did that all day long.

We'd just finished our pasta this evening are starting on a piece of Jilda's World Famous lemon pound cake with vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries when I noticed that again the clouds had moved off and I could see the last moments of the setting sun.

When I finished dessert, I took the dishes to the sink, and then stepped back out to the deck. The clouds to the south were putting on one last show before dusk. Of course, I snapped another picture.

It's been that kind of day.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Rat snake?

While walking, Ol' Hook is the scout. He's out ahead looking pirates, bear, aliens, or other ne'er-do-wells lurking ahead. His job is to clear the path, and he doesn't fret the small stuff. Kodak is more curious. He's looking for vols, moles, grasshoppers, and horse turds.

Yesterday while walking, I came across a young snake. I watched it for a moment. When Kodak noticed that I was observing, he moved in. We've learned to keep treats in our pockets because that's the only thing that will divert his attention.

Once I had him occupied, I snapped a few pictures of the young snake as it made its way to safety. It looks like a monster in this picture, but it was only about 18 inches long. I'm pretty sure it's a young rat snake, but I could tell by the body and shape of the head that it wasn't poisonous.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A good feeling

As Jilda and I drank our coffee this morning, the sun peeked through the canopy and cast a golden light on the citrus trees just outside our great room windows.  Jilda was telling me about something a story she'd read in the New York Times when I saw something just outside our window. 

It was a grey horse as big as a Buick. He stopped for a moment and looked in at us as if he were making his rounds. I said holy sh********!!! Jilda looked around and saw the horse, who was only a few feet away. The dogs saw him and began ricocheting off the glass. 

He ambled on. Behind him were two more horses who stopped to sip water from our birdbath before following the grey horse down toward the mailbox.

We only have one neighbor who has horses, and I knew they were hers. I called her granddad. It was 6:15 a.m., and I'm sure I woke him up, but a few moments later, he'd rounded up his grandaughter and some other folks to help herd the horses back into their pasture.

I could kick myself for not shoot a picture of them standing in the yard, but that didn't happen. 

After coffee, we had a list of yard chores. We planted new veggies, flowers, and fertilized everything with the horse manure that I'd shoveled. You guessed it - it was shoveled from the pasture from which the horses had escaped.

This evening, as Jilda grilled zucchini, eggplant, pattypan squash, and onions on the grill, I stepped down to the blueberry bushes and picked a quart of berries.  Only the bushes that get early morning sun are producing ripe berries now, but they are prolific. 

This evening, we are both worn out, but it's a good feeling.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Wild hydrangeas

I don't have much to say today except that the oak leaf hydrangeas are blooming. 
Some people call them seven bark. 
I've always called them wild hydrangeas. 
It's a beautiful plant that grows wild in the hollow and along the road to our barn. 
Today, Jilda snapped a handful of them today as we walk and put them 
in vases of water all through the house.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Another day in Empire

Jilda and I walked down and picked blueberries this evening when the sun dipped below the tree line to the west. A cool breeze came up as I picked. I could smell the freshly mown grass from my neighbor's house up the road. 

It didn't take long to fill the small basket that Jilda carried. I ate more than I put into the basket.

Kodak, the blunder dog, could not imagine why we were so interested in those bushes. There were no bugs, butterflies, moles, voles, or squirrels in them. The look on his face seemed to be, "Why bother?"

After we picked, we headed back to the house but stopped at the stone benches near the deck.

We sat in silence for a long time. A mosquito as big as a quail landed on my knee. His life did not end well.

As we stood to go inside, I noticed the plant that Jilda's grandmother, Mamie, gave her when Carter was in the Whitehouse. I wish I remembered what she called it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

We've been robbed

I've interviewed a half dozen high school seniors within the last few weeks. They all feel cheated by the coronavirus. The final weeks of the senior year are iconic. The prom, signing yearbooks, and flipping the tassel when I accepted my diploma are all etched on my brain like a tattoo. These kids were robbed of these once in a lifetime memories.

I know that the virus has wreaked havoc on families around the world, not to mention what it's done to the economy. It's something that other parts of the world and this country has struggled with for most of this year.

Here is the thing – this virus has robbed us all. It's taken lives, freedom, income, and sense of control. 

It will take years to tally up the true cost of what this virus cost us all. I'm not sure how anyone would calculate the loss of precious memories that were never made.

One thing the virus has taken from Jilda and me is our annual trip to the beach.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I miss my critters

This week is the seventh anniversary of my little friend's death. Ol' Buddy was a piece of work. I've written about him several times, but when my calendar dinged to remind me, I looked back through my online albums to find this picture.

Just looking at it sent a pang of sadness over me. He was my constant companion for years. I didn't get into my truck without him riding shotgun.

All the drive-through places where I did business knew Ol' Buddy. They often had treats under the counter that they would pass out through the window.

I miss all my critters that have passed on.

Monday, May 11, 2020


I came across a plant this morning as I walked. It was at the edge of the yard. I wish I knew its name. I read once that to become a better writer, one should learn the names of trees, birds, bugs, and grasses. I think that's true. It's doing this lovely plant a disservice by calling it a weed.

On another note, we got a second batch seed today. The commercial farmer I interviewed last month told me about a seed vendor that he uses. When we went to the site, we had to fill out an application.
Today, the mail lady brought us a package full of seeds.

Within the next few days, we'll be planting even more food that we eat each day. Typing these words, I realized that we are going to need a bigger freezer.

I hope you all have had a safe and productive day.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Good sight to see

The weatherman said we could have frost last night. Honeybees like warm weather. When the weather is warm, then cold, then warm, then cold, they can collect much nectar and pollen.

I fretted last night. This morning the sun came out in all its glory. I put on my bee suit, grabbed my camera, and went to the hives.

I'd only been there a few minutes when I started seeing this. This is a honeybee forager coming back to the hive with so much pollen on their legs they could barely fly.

This was good sight to see.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

I can't imagine life without a dog

I've walked over 13,000 steps today. The garden got tilled, beehive boxes were built, the grass was mowed, at so forth. Kodak made every step I made and more.

I wish I had a Fitbit on him because it would be interesting to see how many steps he gets in each day.

This evening, I sat on the back deck, admiring some of my handiwork. When I reached for my glass of sweet tea, I saw that Kodak was observing me. He seemed to be saying, "Is that all for today? Maybe we should go to the barn to see if that owl came back. I don't trust that owl. He hoooooo's all the time. That bothers me. I don't trust things that hoooooo's. Maybe we should think about borrowing Jordan's cat. Do we have any more of those treats in that plastic bucket by the back door? Maybe we should check. We wouldn't want to run out of those. Is that a blue tail lizard? Maybe we should think about borrowing Jordan's cat. Have you checked the strawberries? A turtle was trying to get them yesterday. And so forth.

Kodak weighed around 20 pounds when we got him in December. He's pushing 60 pounds now. He came at a time when our collie Caillou was nearing the end of his journey.

It's interesting how that works. Caillou showed up just a short time before my little dog Buddy died. That was seven years ago this past Thursday.

Jilda and I have had dogs since we married in 1974. Most of the time, we had one or two, but at one point, we had seven. Most of them were treated better than a lot of children.

I can't imagine life without a dog.

Friday, May 08, 2020


Walking yesterday, I heard Kodak barking. He seemed to be really interested in something in the tall grass. When I walked over, I saw that he was trying to get a Box Turtle to play with him. The turtle wasn't having any part of it. He retreated into his shell.

Jilda coaxed Kodak away with one of the treats she carries in her pocket. A second later, the mutt had forgotten all about the turtle and was chasing a butterfly.

I reached down into the grass and gently picked the turtle up and carried it to the edge of the woods. On the way back to join up with Jilda, I found a second turtle a few feet away. I think they may have been courting. I carried the second turtle up and released it beside the first one.

I wished them Godspeed. 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Not to be unwise

It's been chilly at night, but the day warms up nicely. The see-sawing temps have the bees confused. I have no idea how it will affect how much honey they make. Time will tell.

I will say this much, the sky has been incredible. We had a couple of errands to run today. We practice safe social distancing, but there is work we both must do.

Today, I pulled up to a stop sign, and this was just outside my driver-side window. Not taking a picture would have been unwise.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020


I've been reading in the news for the last few weeks about an insect from Asia that somehow made its way to the state of Washington, and it's causing concerns among beekeepers. It's called a murder hornet. "WSU researchers said the hornets attack the beehives, decapitating and killing the adults and eating the larvae and pupae. Just a few of the hornets can completely destroy a hive in a matter of hours."

I said all that to say this – Early this morning, Jilda and I were sitting on our sofa, sipping our first cup of coffee.  I was reaching for a seed catalog when I noticed something sinister sitting there glaring at me. It was about an inch and a half long. It looked as big as a helicopter.

A friend gave us an electronic fly swatter several years ago, and it's one of the most useful gifts we've ever received. We use it to smite yellow jackets and red wasps that make their way into the house.

I gently eased the zapper down over the hornet and punched the button a few times. You could see tiny sparks coming from its legs and wings.

The first thing that crossed my mind was that it was a murder hornet.  I fetched an empty pill bottle from the kitchen drawer and dropped the hornet into the bottle. Snapping the lit shut, I thought I'd preserve the hornet and contact the extension service to see if one of the specialists wanted to have a look.

During the day, I got word that this was an Asian hornet, and not the murder hornet.  I was about to go toss it into the chicken pen when I noticed it moving.

I looked at it a long time, and instead of tossing its corps to the chickens, I decided to toss the critter into the woods by the house and give it a chance to flee. I may live to regret this decision, but at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Number 46

One year ago today, Jilda and I were sitting on the bench pictured below. It was our 45th anniversary. As we sat the listening to the eternal whispering surf, we decided where we would for our 46th anniversary.

Last year was a toss-up between Savannah, Georgia, and Taos, New Mexico. We'd just bought Jilda a Subaru Outback, and somehow we couldn't bring ourselves to leaving it home. So we drove to the east coast. It was beautiful.

We were looking forward to spending this anniversary out west. As it turns out, that didn't happen.

Tonight, I called in a takeout order to our local Mexican restaurant. It has a drive-through. After all, it is Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday. It would have been almost sacrilege to have anything else.

We're not going to articulate plans for next year. We're going to enjoy life and make the best of the cards that we' are dealt.

I hope it's been a good Cinco de Mayo for you too.

Monday, May 04, 2020


The indigo treasure hunt begins.
Last week, Jilda and I both
plucked ripe berries as big as our thumbs from our bushes.
They were harbingers.
Today, Jilda picked a handful, the birds picked more.
In the next few weeks, we'll pick gallons.
Some we'll eat. Some well preserve. Some we'll share.
Mother Nature has many gifts,
but few are sweeter than blueberries. 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Friend of white jasmine

My nephew showed up before I finished my coffee this morning. I hit the plumber's lotto when he pulled my ticket. He works hard and I hate to ask him to do work for me, but this was important.

We had a problem with our drain, and the dishwasher started acting up. It didn't take him long to sort it out and things were dripping and draining as expected.

He refuses to charge me, except for the parts he uses. I've tried to pay him but he wouldn't take it. Once I even slipped outside and put cash in his truck. I smiled at the ruse.

When I went out later to go to the store, the money was in my truck.

He has a weakness. There are a couple restaurants nearby that he absolutely loves. When he does work for me, I go to one of the restaurants and buy a gift certificate. These he can't refuse.

I shot the picture below earlier in the week. It had just rained and a tiny critter was sipping nectar from the white jasmine on our arbor.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Felt good to be alive

It's been beautiful here today. These last several weeks, it has been remarkable. By mid-afternoon, the temperature was in the low 80s.

The back deck is our starter garden. We have tomatoes, zucchini, basil, lettuce, and sweet potatoes in small pots awaiting the big day when we commit them to the earth.

We sat out on the back deck and drank ice tea for a long while. Neither Jilda nor I talked much. A wooden down on the hollow sounded like a jackhammer. An owl whoo whoo whoo'd for its mate down behind the barn. A gentle wind out of the southwest had its way with the windchimes.

It felt good to be alive.

Below is a picture I shot this morning as we walked. Tiny yellow flowers growing up in a bed of poison ivy. I keep the walking path mowed, but I shot this picture near the edge. The contrast was striking.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Retirement anniversary

I'm not sure how I missed it, but I did. A few weeks ago, had I remembered, I would have celebrated my 10 anniversary of my retirement from AT&T.

I started out with the phone company as a garageman gassing up trucks.  Later, I bid on an installer/repairman job which I got. I worked that job for six years. When they invented the plug-in telephones, I was surplused. 

Thankfully, I got a job in the data center. I worked there for 27 years. Even though I live an hour away, I could have driven the drive with closed eyes.

I'd clicked my badge in the security door thousands of times. I knew the names and birthdays of all the security guards and the custodians. I knew the names of most of their children.

In the last few weeks in the office, I didn't get a great deal of work done. I cleaned out my desk and said long goodbyes with the people I'd spent a chunk of my life with. I know it's a tired expression, but it was a bittersweet time. After 33 years, I was ready to do something else with my life.

I turned 59 in January of that year.  The company made me an offer because of my age and years of service. I thought by taking early retirement that some of my younger friends might get a chance to stay around longer. Some of them did, but many of them were released.

The day I walked out of that building for the last time, I remember the look in the security guard's eyes, and I slid my security badge under the glass to them. That was a little after 8 a.m.

As I walked out the door and toward my truck, I heard a squawk from behind me. Two geese had landed on the edge of the building to see me off. I'd never seen them there before. I waved goodbye, and I never went back.

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