Archive for March, 2011

Counting my blessings.

BJ and Candi were in Georgia on a ladies retreat, and I had the pleasure of keeping my two wonderful granddaughters. Friday night was to be snacks and movies. After the first movie started, I fell asleep on the couch, I awoke sometime later with Katelynn asking me to open the last bag of M&M’s. When I awoke the next time it was morning, (for me anyway), Kaylee was asleep in the recliner and Kaylynn on the love seat. I let them sleep for long time. I have no idea how late they stayed awake, but we had a great day planned today, with bike riding and Wal-Mart. In the small town of Lee there is a small lake with a bike and hiking trail around the lake. The lake had a fish feeder that had somehow beached itself on the side where we parked, which happen to be on a slight hill from the lake. I have to set this scene for you, so you can enjoy the day with us.

After awaking and eating a light breakfast they played while I did a few small chores. Near noon we loaded their bikes and safety gear into the pick up and headed to the lake. On the way we stopped at the convenience store to pick up lunch. The girls got a Jumbo Hershey Bar and a Mountain Dew. I bought a Diet Dr. Pepper and peanuts. We parked at a picnic table by the lake and finished lunch. All of it.  

Have you ever watched the joy on a child’s face when they learn to do something for the first time? I love that look. “Papa look at me,” are words I never tire of. So now that Katelynn has learned to ride her bike, (with training wheels), she was ready to ride, and took off on the bike trail with me walking fast behind. Kaylee was already far ahead. They seem to get faster as I got slower. I just don’t understand where all that energy comes from in little kids. But what a wonderful time.

Kaylee, don’t ride down that hill, you will wind up in the lake. No, I won’t papa. Yes, you will. Wheee! Well, don’t do it again. Ok I see you, no Katelynn, don’t you try that. Katelynn! I told you not to do that. Help her up Kaylee. No, you can’t eat the fish food. Get that out of your mouth. I know it doesn’t taste good. Don’t pick up that dead fish! Put that fish back into the water! Slow down, I can’t walk as fast as you can pedal your bike. Katelynn, wait for papa. No, go the other way. Ok, I’ll turn around. Let’s rest awhile, get out of the truck. Don’t throw that into the water. Don’t roll down that hill, you will get dirt and grass all in your hair. See I told you. I’m looking, I looking, very good Katelynn! No, that man does not want an old dead fish. Be careful you are going to ride into the lake. I know you have breaks, but they may not work, and I don’t want to get wet going in after you. Stay out of the back of the pick up. Ok, but don’t get on the tool box. No, I don’t want to see you dancing on the tool box, get off of it! Come over here and sit with me and watch the birds. Those birds, no not the buzzards, the Martins. Martins are birds.

Kaylee….Kaylee….KAYLEE, come on back to this side of the lake. Katelynn, don’t ride down that hill. Well get up, you are not hurt. Kaylee….KAYLEE. We are fixing to go, can you hold it till we get home. KAYLEE! Ok, just one more time around the lake. Put your helmet back on. Give me that. Put that down. No, you can’t have that. Come over here. Aren’t you tired? Well I am. Katelynn needs to go to the potty. I know you can hold it, but we need to go. I know, we will go to Wal-Mart and spend the money Nana left for you! That will be fun. Well, where did you put your money? No, Kaylee doesn’t have it.

I’m loading the bikes. Wal-Mart here we come. Load up. Get into the truck. Let’s go. Get in the truck. Buckle up. Put your seat belt on. I’m not leaving until you buckle up. The policeman will give me a ticket if you don’t. Well, you won’t see him until it’s to late, ask Mommy and Aunt Terri.  


Put that down. No you can’t have that. You just went to the potty, That cost too much. Oh, look at this! It only cost 3 dollars! No, that is too much, I told you 5 dollars or less. Ok, but only one. Mama does not need one of those. No, Nana don’t either. Daddy has one. Yes he does. I don’t know what that is. Give me that. You got two things already. That’s too much. No not that. Ok, ok, but we got to go. You got a drink in the truck. Don’t open that, I have to pay for it first. Wait till I pay for it please! That’s a thingamajig, little girls don’t need those. I know it looks like gum, but it’s a thingamajig. Kaylee, stop saying that word. That’s a misprint, it’s a thingamajig. Trust me. 

 Ma’am will you loan me 40 dollars, I don’t think I have enough to pay for all of this.

Well, you just try putting some of them back. I dare you.

No, no, no more Hershey Bars!!!


One Saturday in March


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True Florida Treasure.

His brush flew back and forth across the canvas, adding and blending warm, bright colors, all the while smiling, talking and reminiscing about the “Highwaymen”. The beautiful Florida landscape painting was finished in less than an hour. What a joy I had talking to this true Florida treasure, RL Lewis. Long time friend Dr. Jimmy Deas, Pastor of Westwood, had squatted down beside him watching and talking. RL introduced him to me as his pastor. We had a good laugh over that, but that is how this gentleman artist treated everyone. Jimmy’s wife Sherry, also an artist, had been there since she and Jimmy arrived taking mental notes and watching RL work and talking to RL Jr. After watching for a while I knew this was indeed a happy and bless man creating a masterpiece before me.

It was the Wild Azalea Festival in Famous White Springs Florida, one of our beautiful small Florida towns, and BJ and I were having an outing. The weather was perfect, with flowers all in bloom, and friendly folk everywhere. After visiting the craft booths, where BJ bought a couple of hand bags, we move over to the visitor center where the entertainment stage was set up. BJ bought a funnel cake that we shared, while listening to the music. There is nothing better at a festival than a fresh fried funnel cake.

 I had wanted to come after seeing Johnny’s post on face book. He is a walking, talking promoter for Steven Foster State Park and White Springs, and he will make you want to come. Another reason for coming was one of the original “Florida Highwaymen,” RL Lewis was going to be there. This artist was one of 26 African Americans that sold their beautiful Florida landscape painting out of the back of their cars in the 1950’s and 60’s. I was looking for him when BJ pointed him out under the gazebo surrounded by his art.

Having had their paintings denied by the art galleries in the segregated south, these determined artist took to the highways, where their paintings wound up in honky tonks, banks, motels and seafood restaurants up and down the backroads of Florida. Their prices ranged from 5 to 35 dollars. To own one of them today, they could be worth thousands of dollars. One sold a few years ago for ten thousand dollars. The market for them died in the early 80’s and many paintings found their way into flea markets and yard sales where they went for almost nothing. However, in the mid 90’s the artist were brought back from obscurity by Jim Fitch, and were given the name Florida Highwaymen, and many of the artists that were still living went back to painting, RL Lewis among them. In 2004 all 26 were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

While not having enough money to purchase a painting or a print, I bought one of his calendars which had 13 of his paintings on it. I know a few artists, of which most I like, one being my sister Linda, and another is my aunt Mary Ann, and of course Sherry. They are as humble as RL. Some are too egotistical for me, and I guess that is why I liked RL Lewis so much and became a fan. It was a great day…



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Jeff and Greg

I don’t remember what started the fight, but they tied into each other. It wasn’t a slug fest but rather wrestling on the sawdust floor of the chicken house. We were getting ready for the chicks when this started. I didn’t bother to try to break it up, but continued to work with an occasional look in their direction. Jeff was older and more athletic, but Greg was persistent and had no quit in him, so they stayed tied up at lest 30 minutes with each trying to make the other say uncle. Finally I needed to move to another house and kept telling them to break it up to no avail. There was a water hose near by so I just wet them down pretty good, and that broke it up.

They were the sons of Robert and Debbie, and were different as night and day. Good boys and a big help in the chicken houses. I will never forget the day I was electrocuted while lowering a feed line. Jeff and Greg along with Missy and Terri were helping Lavon and me get the houses ready for chicks again, (we did that a lot with 10 houses). It was mid summer and I was soaking wet with sweat. I was using a hand crank to wench down the line and when it got to about a foot off the floor, an electrical wire, that had the insulation torn off, touched the metal feed line and I was zapped. However, instead of knocking me away it cause my hands to grip the crank. I was standing there shaking and yelling, with all of them looking at me. Jeff had the presence of mind to rush to the end of the house and throw the breaker. Before he got there my legs gave way and I slid off the crank, but landed on the feed line and then it started zapping me again. After Jeff threw the breaker I slid off the feed line and could not move a muscle. Missy drove the truck home to tell Aunt Tillie who called 911 and that gave me a chance to ride in another ambulance, of which I’ve had several.

All’s well that ends well and that did. Jeff went on to Join and retire from the Marines. He lives in Colorado Springs where he is finishing up his masters degree. Greg became a police officer in Clewiston Florida. He now resides in Arizona. When counting my blessing they are in the number and my memory, especially those times when we would go camping with the Church RA boys. What fun we had running around the woods at night, learning to cook over an open fire, or racing our rafts on the river.

Memories are to precious not to preserve.


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Five Hole

It was hot hard work getting the poultry houses ready for chicks and Missy and Terri, both preteens, worked as hard as we did and were sweaty and dirty as we were. At knocking off time we headed to the river for a bath and a swim. Down the dirt road about a half mile from the house there are 5 sink holes with a spring connecting them before empting into the beautiful Suwannee River. With its high cliff and sandy bank this part of the river was a favorite place to swim back then before the druggies found out about it. Most of the neighbors were still on the farm back then, where we had joined them after leaving the service, and many were already at 5 hole that day.

Two nasty little girls with Red Man stains down the side of their mouths took to the water where they had first learned to swim, with me right behind. Lavon stayed in the shallows having never learned to swim. I guess I should not have told about giving the girls a chaw of tobacco, but it’s out now and I’m not taking it back. Anyway the guys were on the swing. This swing was tied to a limb that hung high over the water. To have a go at it, you would climb up the cliff and grab hold, let go, and the momentum would carry you high over the water where you can then either drop or dive. What great fun after a hard day in the chicken houses. The Burnett boys were very skilled at it, turning flips and such. Well, maybe not Michael being a little larger than his brothers. I just enjoyed swinging out and dropping or diving into that beautiful river. Even Missy and Terri would give it a try.

We would horse around for a while and then maybe get into the spring with its ice cold water where you could swim underwater to the first sink hole. There is a certain amount of trill doing that because you only see daylight at the back of the cave indicating there is an opening back there, and I only dared a few times. During the dry season you can walk in the springs through the caves connecting the sink holes. Not really one of natures wonders, but close enough for us. This is country living at it best, to us anyway. No cell phones, no internet and only 3 channels on the television. In some way it was the good old days…

David Butler

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How does one count his blessing? Johnson Oatman Jr. said to name them one by one then you can see what God has done. The older I get the more I count and name them, and the list is very long. My mama was not kidding when she said, “Family is everything,” for there within lies my longest list. Why God chose the greatest blessing for me I may never know, because I was not seeking his advice when I ask BJ to be my wife, but I am so glad He gave her to me. The sad part in this was that in the first part of our life together, I didn’t really appreciate how wonderful this gift was. Now I can’t appreciate her enough. Oh how I wish I could start over.

Yes, BJ is one blessing that didn’t get put into the white box and wrapped with a red ribbon and marked unclaimed up in heaven. Unlike Mr. Jones, (The Prayer of Jebez), I claimed that one. Likewise I’m sure, our three wonderful daughters would agree.

BJ retires this year after 36 years of teaching. She was blessed with that gift. To some teaching may be a talent or just a vocation, but to BJ, it was a passion that burned deep into her soul. Then again, it came natural to her having been raised by a preacher uncle and school teacher aunt. But it is time for her to slow down and reduce the current level of stress that teaching in today’s public school brings on, and spend time experimenting with the things on her back burner. I am looking forward to it as much as she is. There are so many things for her to enjoy then, that she now has to juggle time for around teaching, which is 10+ hours a day and many Sunday afternoons. She will have more time for daughters, grandkids, siblings, family and friends along with church, ladies bible study, ladies retreat, and me, just to name a few. Her love for them takes precedence over anything this world has to offer.

I am counting my blessings and I intend to name them one by one until I can no longer write. I thank God everyday for them, especially for a Godly Woman.

Thank you BJ for everything…



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Donnell, reminded us on FB that time springs forward tomorrow night, and that we will lose a hour sleep. Ok, but do we oversleep anyway? How does our day start? Do we jump out of bed and rush to get dress before grabbing a bite, and drinking a cup of coffee on the way to work? Mom, do you hurry the kids through the same with much frustration and aggravation on school days? Then comes Saturdays with that wonderful time to sleep in! But alas, we are still tired later and desire to sleep more and longer. Surely there is more to life than this everyday thing of work, children and sleep, with just enough time for worship on Sunday.

Well guess what? I do not have the answers for that. Well I really do but, who am I to counsel you. What I will do though is tell you how I approach the morning thing. This is something that BJ and I have done together for more years than I can now remember. For me it has been since I first raised my right hand and swore to obey all my superiors in the army. We are early risers. 4 AM for me and about 4:30 for BJ each day with some variation on the weekend. First let me say that it is not an ego or prideful thing with us. We just do it. I get up each day at that time and make coffee and return to bed and watch a little news or read till the coffee is ready then fetch us both a cup at which time I wake her. This begins our time. Sometimes it is quiet time, or we talk of many things. This is where I really learn what school teachers have to endure these days. How BJ’s day went at work is very important to me, so I listen. After about 45 minutes or so we start to move about getting dressed. After which I may read or write a little while BJ post a daily Scripture on FaceBook. I then fix our lunch for the day and may even fry us a couple of eggs for breakfast. I do this because it takes longer for BJ to install makeup than it does for me to comb my few hairs. Finally we say our goodbyes and leave for work, usually getting there 30 to 45 minutes early.

So, what is so great about this? Quality time with my lovely wife is the first thing I think about. My own quiet time with God is plugged in there. The first cup of coffee is enjoyed instead of gulped down. We get to see the sunrise each day unless it is raining. What a joy that is. God has blessed us with two great daily events, sunrise and sunset. I don’t like to miss either. Another is we never go to work tired. That may be hard to believe, but it’s so, and when I get to work I am ready to start. I don’t need more coffee to get me going. No matter how the day went, good or bad, we have had “Our time.” I don’t have to try to fit it in somewhere during the evening rush that sometimes awaits us. I know that my life is my own and not robotic. Life is good. Try it, you will like it. And when you get my age, “Every day is a holiday and every meal a picnic.”

Ok, so I did counsel you.



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But Maybe Shouldn’t

Ah, living in the country is a great way of life, the farms, forest, wild life, dirt roads and dust! Dust? Yes, just as a city dweller has to endure the noise, we have to endure the dust of country living. It gets into everything, especially during a dry spell. Dirt roads become dust clouds when a truck, (or a car), travels down one. You can taste it, smell it, and worse, you feel it as it penetrates your clothing and skin.

Now dust is different from dirt. A farmer loves dirt. Good old black dirt is a wonderful thing, but as much as he loves dirt, he hates the dust. I grew up an urbanite, but with ties to the farm through my father’s family. Summers were spent “Down on the farm” playing in the dirt. However, I had a strange attraction to dust too. I was always fascinated with the “Dust devils” that would travel across the plowed fields and I would run to get in one. After it passed I would spend a lot of time trying to dig the dust out of my eyes, ears etc. It was not until high school, and after reading the “The Grapes of Wrath,” that I learned that dust is not a good thing. John Steinbeck really brought that home describing the “Dust Bowls” of the 1930’s.

What has all that got to do with a leaf blower? Well, you see in the country, dust finds a way to get into the house. Yep, and if you happen to be one who has ripped all the carpet out of your house and replaced it with a laminate flooring, you’ll learn a lot about dust. The dust that before was mostly hid until you emptied the vacuum, will now show up the moment light hits it. So, it becomes a regular chore chasing that dust around the house. First it’s the Swiffer, then the vacuum. Next comes the steam mop and so on.

Last Saturday I decided to blow the pine straw off the roof of the house. While doing so I got to thinking that, “You know, I bet this leaf blower would work on that hard wood floor in the house.” I pondered on that until BJ and Candi went to town, at which time I went inside and moved a lot of stuff off the floor and brought in the blower. I open both doors to the house so as to blow out the dust. Man, let me tell you that thing was the trick. At 240 miles a hour you can move a lot of things quick. I went through the house in a flash. You want to talk about clean floors? Even the base boards were spotless. In 20 minutes I was done. I have just found new way to become my wife’s best friend with these clean floors. Wow!

Rather than tell BJ about the floors, I decided to just let her notice them. A little later she came home, and after we brought in the groceries, I sat down and waited for her to sing my praises. She started putting away the groceries when I heard her say, “Whoa.” A smile came to my face as I knew she was just noticing the floor. Then in a much louder voice I heard, “WHOA!” and I started to jump up and tell her how I did it, when I heard, “How did all this dust and dirt get into the cabinets? It’s in all the drinking glasses and all over the plates. What in the world happen here?”

“I don’t know BJ, maybe I left the door open too long, or something.”

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