Summer 2015 Festivals and Illness

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I’ve really been out of pocket the last couple of months with a bout of pneumonia. My doctor turned me loose for the two biggest event days of the Helen Keller Festival, so I photographed the parade, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Phil Vasser concerts.

Phil Vassar at the Helen Keller Festival.

The fourth of July was spent at Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage in Nashville, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the victory of New Orleans during the War of 1812.



After the Helen Keller Festival, I finally got my tomatoes planted. I got landscaping cloth down around half of them and had Hooligan cages around all of them. Before I could finish and then mulch, straight line winds blew off all the cloth and cages as well as breaking off several trees about 20 feet up along the dry creek. Since I got the cages back on, I wasn’t able to finish as the lingering pneumonia made it difficult to stay out in the humidity.

I took 10 days of vacation to volunteer with the WC Handy Music Festival. It takes a lot of volunteers to put on this event, and I want to give them a shout out. I photographed a lot more inside events this year because of my illness. This is a good time to visit the Muscle Shoals area; a large number events are free. Music and music history abound in schools, parks, libraries, churches and restaurants. Mom was telling everyone who would listen that she was a Handy orphan. You hear typical Shoals music from blues to country to rock. The songwriters’ events at Florence Tourism were well attended. My friend Max Russell won the singles blue challenge and will represent the Shoals in Memphis this fall. The riverside concert is the one event I always catch. A new band comes to the stage every 30 minutes, plus or minus five minutes or so. The headliner concert featured Lee Roy Parnell and Booker T Jones. Sunday, the last night of the festival, featured a tribute to the late father Percy Sledge by my co-worker and Percy’s son, Howell Sledge, at their family church in Leighton.

Check out my video of The Decoys and Christine Ohlman (beehive queen from SNL) performing “Mustang Sally.”


At right, Atlanta Rhythm Section at the Helen Keller Festival.

After the Handy Festival, I shot photos for the Spring Valley Firefighters rodeo. It’s an annual fundraiser for them.


After pneumonia, I developed bronchitis due to exposure to the fuzzy white seeds of wild lettuce. I spent an afternoon trying to find my shrub beds before the roofers come. I didn’t realize I was allergic to this plant as I was pulling it up and throwing it into my loader for the compost heap. In the meantime, everything continues to become overgrown and looking abandoned.

On the Hooligan front, I had allergy testing done on Blackie. She is allergic to beef, lamb, chicken, duck, eggs, grain and her favorite fruits, apples and strawberries, among a long list. I’ve changed her food several times, but each time it was to something else she was allergic to. Now she is on a pork and butternut squash recipe, plus she is getting supplements to help her immune system. And she is getting a daily bath in hydrogen peroxide for a case of ringworm. She is starting to get her hair back and hopefully all of the bad toxins will be out of her system by winter.

Mom turned 80 this week. She said she planned to do something crazy for her birthday. When I asked her what she had in mind, she mentioned skydiving, but decided against that because of her bad back and knees. We rode up to my friend Mike’s place on Cedar Creek Lake, and he took her for a pontoon boat ride and afterwards for a ride on his four-wheeler. Grace, my co-worker, brought barbecue for lunch. Mom had a great time.

Hummingbirds have been migrating for about two weeks now. I have five feeders up and probably will be putting up a couple of more this week. I’m having trouble keeping my feeders full.

Hopefully I can get over my crud by Labor Day. The Coondog Cemetery celebration takes place that day. The cemetery is the resting place for more than 300 treeing coondogs. No other dogs may be buried in the cemetery. The graves will be decorated with flowers and flags. Travis Wammack and the Southern Strangers will be in concert. Buck dancing and a liars contest, arts and crafts and LO Bishop barbecue will be flowing.