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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skywatch Friday, A Layered Sky

The sky over this Monroe County field was literally in layers just before sunset. A stationary front finally gave way to cool, windy weather.

(Click on the picture for a larger view, then join SkyWatch Friday for another trip around the world. )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Honor of Those Who Served

Today is Veterans' Day, and Camden has a new veteran's memorial downtown. 

"In Honor of Those who Served, in God We Trust."

Thanks to Christine Weerts for sharing her photo!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Q for Quilting (ABC Wednesday)

Its ABC Wednesday again, and this week we celebrate the letter "Q," and where I'm from, Q is for QUILTING. 

Quilts have warmed us inside and out ever since cloth scraps were invented, and perhaps no quilters recycle scraps better than The Quilters of Gees Bend.  Read their story HERE, and view a video (below) that I made when they visited Selma a couple of years ago.

Now, while I have never finished a quilt (although I've started one or two), I am blessed that others in my family stitched their scraps into lovely designs such as the ones below that were made by my grandmother, mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.


See how other great bloggers interpreted the letter Q over at ABC Wednesday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

For the Love of Stone-Ground Grits

Goin' to the mill today to buy fresh, stone-ground grits 'n cornmeal!

Can you believe this 1860's gristmill remained open until 1968? Anyway, it's open today for the Kenan's Mill Fall Festival & Bluegrass Event. So, while I purchase my meal, I get to listen to The Grasshopper Stringband, young Caleb Bryant & The Carrel Family over at the bandstand. 

I  might even try a hand at molding some Alabama clay into pottery or "walking" across Valley Creek on the swinging bridge. There's a "beehive" charcoal kiln on the other side, and I can take some really cool photos from inside looking up through the smokestack to the sky. 

Then, I think I'll head on over to the vittles wagon for some Hoppin' John and maybe a burger or some of those homemade cookies made by the local Master Gardeners. I reckon they can bake as well as garden! 

If I had younguns, they'd run over to those inflatable game things and then they'd want to ride in the hay wagon. 

I'm gonna take an extra dollar to donate for the chance to win a homemade quilt. Then, I might just settle down on a hay bale and watch the fiddlers while they play!

Have a great weekend! I sure plan to!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"P" for Alabama PICKER (ABC Wednesday)

It's ABC Wednesday, and the Letter of the Week is "P." So here's The Alabama PICKER, a series of Picks I found in Alabama, and  yes, this is similar to The History Channel's popular "American Pickers" TV show where Antique Archaeologists Mike and Frank travel all across America in search of a few good pickings that they can sell for profit. Except I'm not sellin' or tellin' exactly where I found these PICKS! Can you believe I came across this really, really old shell of a vehicle in a ditch somewhere? Well, yes I did, and it's just lucky I had my camera! Mike would love this pick! I just don't know how he'd haul it out of this place, and most likely none of it is salvageable! Sorry, Mike!

Photo courtesy of Christine Weerts
Now, a friend found this great Drink Coca-Cola, Sign of Good Taste sign. I will hint that it's in  Wilcox County! Only thing, I don't think it's in good enough condition to suit Frank!

Moving on, how about this June 7, 1944 edition of The Birmingham News? It headlines the D-Day Invasion, and notice that the price of the paper was just a nickel! Wonder what it's worth now!

Below on the left, I found a 1978 Alabama National Championship poster from back when the "Bear" was still coach. It's in an indoor flea market. Hey, this would make a great Christmas gift for some reminiscent, all-out Bama fan!

Finally, wonder if anybody collects George Wallace memorabilia? Here's a Wallace button from our former governor's presidential campaign of around 40 years ago! It surely isn't worth a fortune, but it's definitely an historic Alabama Pick!

To find out how other bloggers interpreted the letter P, click on over to ABC Wednesday!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Garden Shroomz

in your garden?

These whimsical ceramic mushrooms (known as shroomz) charmed visitors at Valley Grande's Art in the Park yesterday. They grew by the hands of Gary and Becky Blaylock, owners of Earthquake Pottery. 

See more shadows - light, dark and in between over at Shadow Shot Sunday. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spiders in the Sky?

Spiders in the sky?
These giant metal spidery looking things were on display at the Central Alabama Fair last week, and they're brand-new hay tools (hay rakes) manufactured by our local Bush Hog company.
Bush Hog was founded in Selma by Selma people some 60 years ago, and if you've ever heard of  "bush hogging" a pasture, that expression came from here! The Bush Hog rotary cutter transformed clearing a pasture or cornfield from primitive methods to modern. No more hoeing those corn stalks for days on end! 

Take a trip around the world to see more skies,
sans spiders, at Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday (It Can Start Raining Now!)

Okay, it can start raining now!

Cows are wading out to the middle of ponds to drink water.
They can get stuck doing that. 

No, this long, dry spell isn't nearly as bad 
as the record droughts 
of 2000 and 2007, but it still hurts!

And to think that not so long ago,
we were cryin' in the rain 
during the wettest year of the decade!

I believe it's time for Gov. Riley to issue another
"Pray for Rain" proclamation. 
Sure helped last time.    

(Posted for Shadow Shot Sunday)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Osage Orange Forest

Back before barbed wire was invented in the 1880s, osage orange trees provided menacing fences for livestock. The sharp thorns and extremely hard wood made escape from a pasture practically impossible. The wood is still used for sturdy fenceposts, and the trees give shade to cattle in Alabama's Black Belt.  However, the saplings sprout as prickly bushes that can puncture even the tough treads of  pickup truck and tractor tires!

Come and Get Your Cozy Dawgs!

The Neverland Ferris Wheel at the Central Alabama Fair (2009)
 Don’t you just love a local fair?

Ours opens tonight, and how I’d love to go back to the early ‘90s when my boys were small and the sights and sounds of roller coasters and country music revved their bodies like little engines that could. 

The two in the back are mine, circa 1993?
It was at Lions Fair Park where my kids timidly tried their first Midway rides, then worked up the courage to get scrambled, swung around and turned upside down.

 It was just steps from the old armory exhibit hall where they ate their first Cozy Dawgs.  

“Cozy Dawg! Cozy Dawg! Come and get your Cozy Dawg!” 

That’s the Civitan Club’s marketing spiel for “Please buy one of our corndogs!”

And boy do they market! They have a microphone that blasts your name through the cool night air. 


How could we say no?

That’s another thing about local fairs. Practically everybody knows everybody else. I love to browse the exhibits where I can see paintings, photographs, crafts and cooking created by folks I know.

Sweet Potato Cake
One year, I finally spent the weekend cooking and entered a few baked goods of my own. My mother-in-law’s roll recipe and sweet potato cake won ribbons. So the next year, I persuaded my father-in-law to let me enter some of his bread-and-butter pickles, plum and scuppernong jelly and pear preserves.  

Ouch! He won nothing, nada, nary a thing! Such is the competition!

On to entertainment!

Back in my days as a newspaper reporter, the fair was the big news of the week. We had it highlighted from Monday through Saturday with news staffers scheduled for almost every event. One year, I covered entertainment and got to interview Ava Barber. Remember her?  She was the country singer on The Lawrence Welk Show. She looked so different from her television persona where I thought she appeared much older than her years. At the fair, she wore her hair in a younger, more modern style, had on jeans and sang a few Conway Twitty songs.  

The Big, Blue Chair
Another great thing about the fair is my big, blue chair!

Yes, I won the chair at the fair!

The girl who hates ‘rithmetic and most especially problems dealing with estimation, estimated the number of matches in a big, glass jug and came closest to the correct amount.

I'm thinkin' those Cozy Dawgs must have worked miracles in my brain!

What are your favorite things about a fair?


Thursday, September 30, 2010

(Skywatch Friday) October's Bright, Blue Weather

"O sun and skies and clouds of June
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather."
...Helen Hunt Jackson 

It' s Skywatch Friday again, and as the first day of October arrives, what could describe this picture better than the first verse of a poem we memorized in second grade.   
Click on the photo for a larger view, and be sure to visit other skies.  

How Auburn Landed a University

 By Janet Gresham

I live in SEC Country where college football is way of life, and tailgate picnics are major social functions. Just watch an ESPN Game Day preview to see the zealous fans and what’s cookin’ in the parking lot. Then, in the case of my alma mater, note the crowd’s devotion as Auburn’s eagle lifts off for its inspiring flight through the stadium.

That “War Eagle” battle cry coupled with the eagle release is a grand tradition, but before an eagle ever landed on the plains, there was a bitter college rivalry across Central Alabama, and it wasn’t about football.
The competitors were my hometown of Greensboro and my college town of Auburn, and the prize was an institute of higher learning. Now, I might mention that Methodists and the media were the chief cheerleaders for each side, and despite initial rejection, Auburn owes much to those Methodists. Otherwise, the state’s “cow college” where I really could see cattle from my dorm might not exist! 

Disagreement over location of a new denominational college began back in the mid-19th Century when southern planters decided they wanted their sons educated closer to home. Why send them up north to Yale and Harvard when they could build a fine institution in the South? So, in 1854 when the Alabama Methodist Conference met, its delegates deadlocked on a choice between Auburn and Greensboro, and they voted to award the prize to the town offering $100,000.

A race to raise funds began, prompting a war of words from west to east and east to west. One delegate who supported Greensboro even took the floor at one meeting and declared that East Alabama should not be considered, because he had visited the area, and “Everywhere I went, poverty stared me in the face!”

The editor of the Auburn Gazette responded by asserting that Auburn was best, because its citizens weren’t rowdy like the ones in Greensboro. In fact, he warned, the West Alabama community found it necessary to pass laws against drunkenness, fighting and swearing. Then, he further stoked the “discussion” when he said that Greensboro was “located in a sickly prairie area” and could only be reached by bad roads.

The editor of the Greensboro Beacon admitted that while there was some disorder in the town, under no circumstances was it sickly!

When the Conference met again in the Dallas County town of Summerfield, Greensboro produced pledges of $113,000 compared to Auburn’s $100,000. Since both had raised the required amount, a committee was appointed to solve the dilemma. Greensboro won the committee’s support, but the group suggested locating another college at Auburn. Greensboro delegates disagreed, saying the conference could not support both. 

Still, the controversy wasn’t over. A few months later, Greensboro out-pledged Auburn again, even bringing three supporters who were ready to increase the sum if necessary. Yet, delegates debated the issue for three more days!

Greensboro finally won, but Auburnites were so incensed confident that they determined to build their college anyway. So, the East Alabama Male College (known as Auburn even back then) was chartered in 1856, the same year as The Southern University in Greensboro. Later, the Methodists agreed to take on Auburn’s institution as well.

But when the War Between the States took its students to battle, Auburn had to close. 

After reopening in 1866, times were so hard that by 1872 the Methodist Church transferred control of Auburn to the State of Alabama. It became a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act, and its name was changed to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. Later, the college was renamed the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and still later, Auburn University.

Today, Auburn is one of the largest universities in the South, and its outreach benefits millions worldwide. But over here in the Black Belt, we especially appreciate the Cooperative Extension programs, agricultural research and Rural Studio.

So what became of Southern University?

In 1918, it merged with Birmingham College to become one of the finest liberal arts institutions, Birmingham Southern College.

Unfortunately, the university's grand Tudor-style building that later housed other schools and was the major architectural landmark of Greensboro was destroyed by a tornado in 1973.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Camera Critters, Fox Squirrel Scamper

We don't see fox squirrels that often, so catching this one on camera adds a new critter to the portrait collection!

He stopped atop the fencepost just long enough to play statue. 

 Then, he turned to pose.

...and up the tree he scampers!

Fox squirrels are said to be the most colorful tree squirrels in the world, and look at that a red fox!

You can see more photos of creatures great and small at the Camera Critters Meme, hosted by Misty Dawn.

The Roll Tide Ride

Have I ever mentioned that college football is  a way of life in Alabama?


(Thanks to Christine Weerts for sending these photos!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Skywatch Friday, Sunset on County Road 38

This sunset along County Road 38 in Perry County, Alabama is one of the most spectacular I've ever seen. Perhaps that's because it arrived shortly after the dark clouds and rain from a tropical system departed.  (Double click the photo for a larger view.)

More skies from around the world can be viewed at