Jeff 2021 headshot

My “piddling around” time coincides with cocktail hour most evenings. I can be found scavenging around the yard, usually with a beer in hand, poking at hornets’ nests, shaking tree limbs and cussing my crumbling driveway, all while anxiously awaiting the next unassuming person to walk by or stick their head out a door so I can strike up a conversation. On rare occasions I might even stumble into doing something useful, like pulling a weed or unclogging the gutter.

     My wife often lectures me that my piddling time coincides with the neighbors’ “witching hour,” that time of the day when parents are dealing with fussy children and trying to get dinner on the table. But her scolding doesn’t usually stop me from occasionally grabbing a second beer and visiting for a few minutes on the neighbor’s patio.

     Lately I have found myself doing a lot more piddling than writing. I’ve been struggling to find the words. I keep telling myself it’s the pandemic. Having gone nowhere and done little over the last year, I just haven’t had anything interesting enough to share. Montgomery Independent Editor Brian Hodge said my brain is just telling me to take a little break and fortunately for me he’s never at a loss of things to write about.

     Other than social distance visits with the neighbors, the occasional wardrobe fix from The Locker Room, dropping the dog off at daycare, and talking Auburn basketball with my mailman Neil, I haven’t participated in much in-person socializing, outside of family. My life wasn’t that adventurous pre-pandemic, but at least I left the house. Nowadays the sound of the UPS truck coming down the street can be the most exciting part of my day.  

     I could write a column lambasting those members of the Alabama Legislature who recently voted against overturning a ban on the elective practice of yoga in public schools because they feared chants and words such as “namaste” might turn kids into Hindus. The sponsor of the bill went so far as to include a provision that forbids any chanting, but that still didn’t prevent 25 House members from voting against it. Forty million Americans practice the exercise, and Alabama is the only state that bans it in schools. I didn’t even know yoga was a Hindu thing. I learned yoga at the YMCA – you know, that Christian organization whose purpose is to empower young people.

     Or I could have filled this space with how ridiculous it is that Georgia’s governor just signed legislation passed by the GOP-controlled legislature that made it a crime to provide a bottle of water to someone standing in line to vote. Crazy, right? It should never be against the law to provide someone a drink of water. Instead, we should be advocating for expanding voting to ensure no one ever has to stand in line to vote long enough to need water.

     I could follow-up with why Election Day should be a holiday and question why Confederate Memorial Day still is. I might even surprise some of you by proclaiming it is reasonable to expect someone to provide some sort of identification to vote.

    I’d like to question the Department of Corrections about their need to spend $1.5 million taxpayer dollars to hire a public relations firm. It’s not like they need to advertise for vacancies. They’re a little overcrowded as it is.

     Perhaps I could list the many reasons Alabama should use our share of the federal stimulus dollars to finally expand Medicaid. Or write another column on the importance of continuing to social distance. Please continue to wear a mask when required, even if you have been vaccinated.

    Another idea might be to share my weight loss journey and how I’ve managed to successfully keep the weight off a year later. But my wife, who holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a master’s in health science, would kill me if she caught me dispensing dieting advice.

     So, there is obviously no shortage of topics and recent events to write about. I just haven’t had it in me lately to do so. I guess I have a case of the Corona Pandemic Blues.

     Stay safe. Get vaccinated. It’s about that time of day and I have some piddling to do.