A Busy Day at Oak Mountain

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We stumbled on quite a crowd today at Oak Mountain. We were headed to the parking lot atop the mountain to walk the trails to Peavine Falls, but were told we may not find a place to park – there was a big bike race going on. Since the crowd at the top would be gone in about an hour, we decided to start with the Treetop Trail . This one started out easy on a boardwalk past  some interesting caged birds.

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We followed the trail until we got to the Alabama Wildlife Center. There everything was ready to go for the Bird Baby Shower. I took  a quick look around, deciding to come back again soon to take it in slowly. We went back the way we came, then drove up the road to the falls parking lot.

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This time I was able to get to the bottom and see the beauty of the falls. My goal for my next trip here is to pull off the boots and step into the waters.

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On our way out the park was even fuller. Between the Bird Baby Shower, the Bump n Grind bike race, a Chili Cook Off and a birthday party, there was quite a diverse crowd at the park today.

It Happens

Things happen that we have no control over, like today when the power went out. I’d actually slept in – I had no idea it was nearly 9am – and it was the boom that awoke me. I opened my eyes to see the ceiling fan slowing to a stop. That was when I realized the power was out.

Moments later I heard a siren, so I looked out from my backyard vantage point to see a firetruck stopped on Morgan Road. At first I thought there had been an accident, so I grabbed the binoculars. I saw the guys out directing traffic, but could see no cars that seem to be involved in a wreck or anything.

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Soon Alabama Power arrived on the scene and went about doing what they do. I understand it was a blown transformer. I know little to nothing about electricity, except that it is useful for all kinds of stuff.  Until I was without, I didn’t realize just how much I took it for granted. I couldn’t see the screen on the thermostat – oops – turning on the hall light was no help. Got to use the bathroom – oops – better leave the door open. Computer? Well, there was battery backup. But internet? I pulled out my Verizon jetpack. Good thing I didn’t have to go anywhere because I don’t know exactly how to manually open the garage door. The one problem I could not solve was my lack of coffee. That was the first thing I took care of when the power was restored.

Thank you, Alabama Power, for being so competent. Thank you, LORD, for all the daily blessings that I enjoy.

Music Part Two

Garden & Gun is a must have for southerners, whether born and bred here or transplanted. I find gems in every issue, from music to restaurants to places I want to visit. I even have a playlist on Spotify made just of music I discovered while perusing the pages of this one-of-a-kind publication.

Inspired by an article in the June/July issue, written by Julia Reed, titled Songs of Summer, I got to thinking about songs that stand out in my mind and the memories attached to them. This is part two – you can read part one HERE. I have skipped the 80s as I was having babies in the 80s and just didn’t keep up with the music.

1990s

The 90s songs I know I learned from my kids. Like the Sweater Song by Weezer. I can still remember riding in the car with my youngest, the windows down and us singing the chorus loud and clear. I really didn’t know the other words until I recently googled them. Hmm, maybe I would not have been singing it with her if I had.

I was a latecomer to Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice; it cracks me up that he now has a show on the DIY Network. Anyway, I didn’t actually begin to like this one until I got the soundtrack for 13 Going on 30 , with Jennifer Garner, which came out in 2004.

Another 90s hit I like is Everyday is a Winding Road by Sheryl Crow .

I remember a bunch more, but they aren’t exactly blog worthy. Hammer Time was a fun beat. And there is a funny memory of my daughter’s teacher singing My Heart Will Go On. Celine Dion she was NOT.

Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America is pretty catchy. My younger brother was in a short-lived band and this was on their playlist. Watch the goofy video below!

One last hit I like from the 90s is Buddy Holly by Weezer. I never saw the video until I researched it – but I love it! You can read about the song HERE.

2000s

She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5 is a song that always reminds me of my older daughter and sometimes makes me cry.

I liked Alicia Key’s Fallin’ , but I’m not so impressed with the video.

Norah Jones is a favorite with me and my husband – we saw her perform in Tampa years ago. Listen to  Don’t Know Why – she has a voice like honey.

A fun listen is “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band. But it makes me miss the beach.

And that’s a wrap.

Thanks for the Musical Inspiration, Garden & Gun

Garden & Gun  Magazine is a must have for southerners, whether born and bred here or transplanted. I find gems in every issue, from music to restaurants to places I want to visit. I even have a playlist on Spotify made just of music I discovered while perusing the pages of this one-of-a-kind publication.

Inspired by an article in the June/July issue, written by Julia Reed, titled Songs of Summer, I got to thinking about songs that stand out in my mind and the memories attached to them. This will just be a sampling through the decades, except I’ll probably skip from the 70s to the 90s. I was having babies in the 80s and just didn’t keep up with the music.

1960s

What came to mind first was “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary. I didn’t realize until I looked it up that it was actually written by John Denver with the original title of “Babe, I Hate to Go”.  My memory comes from a late summer afternoon, riding in the back of my aunt and uncle’s station wagon with my cousins. I learned the song from my cousin Paula, and we were belting it out at the top of our lungs as we rode home from the public pool in Reidsville to their home in Glennville, Georgia. If I close my eyes I can feel the warm summer air blowing on my face, and hear the laughter.

An amusing song, one in which we didn’t get half the words right, was “Judy in Disguise (with glasses)” by Jon Fred & his Playboys. My little brother, when he was about three or four, would sing “Judy in the skies – na na na na…” For some reason it was great fun to egg him on to sing and dance.

JUDY IN DISGUISE (WITH GLASSES) 

I can’t let the 60s go by without a Beatle’s shout out. My cousin, Anita (Paula’s sister, see above), used to play “Eleanor Rigby” on the piano upstairs in the playroom of their house. It was an eerie and intriguing song to me, back in an innocent time of my childhood.

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L to R: Us Cousins – Norman who sang “Judy in the Skies”, Paula, Anita, me kneeling, brother David, Serena, Denny

 1970s

Fast forward to my senior year of high school and the disco era. There are just too many songs to mention, but some of my favorites were from KC & the Sunshine band, especially “Boogie Shoes” and “Get Down Tonight”. It was a huge thrill to see them perform live at Disney during Grad Night, 1976. Back then there was a dress code for us seniors and I felt especially cool in my pantsuit, rocking out in the crowd in front of the castle. Check out the the  outfits below – mine AND the Sunshine Band’s!

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Me wearing my pantsuit with my brothers and Dad

BOOGIE SHOES

This next song is also on Reed’s list: “Muskrat Love” by Captain and Tennille. This came on my radar in 1977. My college roommate, Donna, was in love with Tony, and this was “their song”. They were a lot like Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam. She always kept that youthful silliness and I miss her – she passed away a few years ago.

MUSKRAT LOVE

My last 70s mention is “Brickhouse” by The Commodores. Every time I hear this I go back to my first year at Georgia Southern (then College; now University) where I joined the Chi Omega Sorority and this was like our theme song. I always think of Paula Ferguson and a bunch of us dancing to this over and over, though none of us were 36-24-26.

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Stay tuned for Part Two

Adventures with a 17 year old in B’ham – Day 5

My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no little interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.

Day 5

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We were out the door by about 9:30, headed for Pepper Place Market. It seems every time I go the crowd gets larger – we had to park a little further away, but that was just fine.

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I was more into shopping at the market than the niece was, but she helped me carry my bags. I got tomatoes, peaches, radishes, a basil plant, farm fresh eggs from free-range chickens, a t-shirt, and a nice cold peach tea.

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One new feature at the market is the mister. What a great idea for a hot day!

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Back home, we had burgers on the grill, then the hubs, brother-in-law, and niece went to the Florida vs. LSU baseball game at the Hoover Met. I stayed back to catch up on chores and such. They were happy when they got home – Florida won!

Adventures with a 17 year old in B’ham – Day 4

My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.

Day 4

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This was a full day of breakfast and bookstores, gardens and a graduation. We had a friend with us on our adventures today, a girl the niece met when she was here in November. These two happily identify themselves as book nerds (they met at 2nd and Charles). We started the day at Tip Top Grill on Shades Mountain. The brother-in-law joined us for breakfast. My BLT on a biscuit was marvelous and the blue-sky view was beautiful. After a friendly conversation with Mr. S and his little granddaughter, we were on our way to the first bookstore.

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Alabama Booksmith is unique in that every book in the store has been signed by the author. The niece was thrilled to pose next to picture of one of her favorite authors, Birmingham’s own (for a while, anyway) John Green.

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Next Stop: Little Professor Book Center. Here I stayed upstairs in the used book section. I couldn’t find anything on my list, but did find a book by an author on my list, so I bought it. I need another book like I need a hole in my head, but, well, ……

We then headed for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed the flowers and serenity; the girls were talking books the whole time. We walked through the Japanese Garden and then I surveyed the roses. I discovered that there is a library at the gardens – mostly botanical related items. I was able to use my library card to check out a few magazines and I can then return them at the Hoover Library – sweet! I also purchased a delicious smelling soap at the gift shop before we left.

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Last stop: Barnes and Noble at Patton Creek Shopping Center. I got a Smor’es frappuccino (don’t judge) and read while the girls bought even more books.

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After a few hours at home, we headed out for a graduation at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills. Two sweet young ladies passed a major milestone; one is headed for Birmingham Southern in the fall.

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ADVENTURES WITH A 17 YEAR OLD IN B’HAM – DAY 3

My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.

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Day 3

The day started out nice at Oak Mountain Park, but the niece got to feeling sick, so we had to cut the visit to the great outdoors a little short. We stopped for a beautiful view from Ada Overlook on our way up the mountain.

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We were able to get in one hike to the top of Peavine Falls. It’s always beautiful outdoors enjoying God’s creation, but I was expecting to see a bit more water in the falls. Maybe next year in April after the rains I will try it again.

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There was a Senior Picnic going on at the pavilion area, with quite a large group of senior citizens in attendance. I’m sure they had a lovely day!

We took it easy the rest of the day, and then picked up pizza from Johnny Brusco’s on John Hawkins Parkway for supper.

ADVENTURES WITH A 17 YEAR OLD IN B’HAM – DAY 2

My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no interest in baseball, so she and I will be exploring Birmingham.

Day 2

If you read yesterday’s post, you know we got lost. Today we started out by getting locked out of the house before we could even leave the driveway. I had switched my purses and grabbed the wrong keys. JUST AFTER closing the locked door behind me I realized I had the husband’s car keys, and no house keys to get back in. The guys had just left for breakfast at the Egg & I, so we had no other choice but to sit on the back porch and wait. The shade was nice. I had tried all my windows, so at least I know now that my house isn’t easy to break into.

The worst part was we were headed to Maylene (a spot in the road) to pick up my pastor’s son for a belated Birthday Breakfast. We finally got there about 10am, and then headed to Panera Bread in Alabaster to enjoy our breakfast and celebrate Gabriel turning 10, then head to the Dollar Tree and Books a Million.

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The niece and I then went to Helena (which  has one of the lowest crime rates in the US), strolled down to Buck Creek Park to check out the dam, then walked the block of nearby Old Town shops.

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Tonight we sleep, for tomorrow we hike again.   🙂

Adventures with a 17 year old in B’ham – Day 1

My brother-in-law and niece are here this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover; she tagged along to hang out with me.

Day 1

We headed out in the morning for a little hike at Moss Rock Preserve. We both had our cameras and were hoping for some good nature photos.

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We saw a few squirrels, a chipmunk, and a cardinal, but the coolest thing I saw was blooming cacti growing out of the limestone rock. It was an unexpected sight .

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Our adventure kicked in later, as we were on our way back and got totally turned around. After backtracking several times, I finally had to admit we were lost. I spotted a trashcan and shouted “Yay, civilization!” thinking we were at the other edge of the parking lot where we’d started. Turns out we were at a parking lot alright – at the back of what I figured out later is Simmons Middle School. So back into the woods we went. We finally popped out again at a Firehouse!! The kind firemen pointed us in the right direction – about a half mile further down the road and we finally got back to the car. You can check out our route HERE.

After a break at home for food and showers, we headed out for a book adventure; first stop – 2nd & Charles on Montgomery Highway. This unique bookstore buys and sells new and gently used and it has lots of non-book products, also. I got a book for myself and a gift, the niece left with an armload.

Second stop – the Hoover Library. After giving my niece a brief tour, including the Cone of Silence, we stopped at Coffee-ol-ogy where I got an iced coffee and she got a delicious chocolate milkshake.   She then scored three books she’d been wanting at the Friends Bookstore, all for under five dollars.

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On the way home, we made two stops at Target and Kohl’s. I was glad to get back home and rest my aching knees!

Zoo Time

When the grandkids were here we all made a trip to the zoo. This was my first visit to the Birmingham Zoo and a fine time was had by all. Although it was crowded, we were able to get up close to get good views of most of the animals.

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Some of the empty cages were a disappointment – I was wanting to see a gorilla – but there were still plenty of animals to keep the five year old happy. He liked the turtles that were right near the entrance and we had to stop by to see them again on the way out.

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The orangutan mommy and baby were entertaining to watch, as were the giraffes who seemed to be very friendly with each other. We missed the reptiles, but saw almost everything else.

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 Mid-morning, we took a break to eat a bit at the Safari Café. This very large covered outdoor area offers a nice reprieve.  Everything is pricey, of course, but I had to buy some popcorn. The little one wanted some, and of course I ate my share, too.

Being an LSU alum, by daughter-in law especially liked the tiger, as did the two year old. We kept yelling, “Turn around, Tiger!” and he finally obliged us so we got some good pictures.

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Since the kids were getting tired (this was after two days of hiking), we snuck them by the  play fountain to take a ride on the carousel before leaving. On a hot day this water area would be a treat for little ones. There is also a play area near the primate area which is a fun place to get the wiggles out.

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All in all it was a pleasant day at the zoo. Traffic was a little crazy at the entrance, but hopefully this will improve soon.

Tips:

  • If you want to save money, go on half-price Tuesday
  • If you want to avoid crowds, don’t go on Tuesday
  • Use sunscreen
  • Take your time; go with your kids’ pace. It’s better to savor the moments than to try to see everything
  • May is prime Field Trip time for schools