Downsizing

After more than three years of keeping up with two blogs, I feel it’s time to combine them. This blog was originated to help with our transition to Birmingham. I later tweaked it, still keeping the focus local when possible. I think it has run it’s usefulness, so over the next month I will attempt to combine them. This will include reposting some entries from this site to my other blog, Not In This Soup Alone. 

Thanks to all who read and encourage me!

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Baseball

glove

May, 2017 – SGC

 

I’ve been thinking about baseball since I joined my husband at a baseball reunion a few weeks ago. You can read about that HERE.

Seeing how much the game of baseball meant to these guys reminded me of a wonderful kid’s book I read called Baseball Saved Us. You can hear the book in the video below.

 

When my son and his family were in town last month, we went to a Baron’s game. Even though there was a rain delay, we had a great time. The grandkids made friends with some other kids while we waited for the game to start.

 

game

April, 2017

 

My hope for the summer is to make it to the new SunTrust Park for a Brave’s game. Because, what’s summer without baseball?

Pieces of My Culture

1961done

1961

christmas 1965

1965

 

A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

“I get so frustrated when I talk to people and they say, I don’t have a culture. And it’s mostly white people who say it. And I say, that’s bull, of course you have a culture, where did you grow up? Who’d you talk to? What’d you do? What was your thing? What was your family’s thing? Where’d your family come from?” – – Rhiannon Giddens

I was born in Athens, Georgia, and thus by natural inheritance will always be a Bulldog. Not that I’m an over-the-top fan of any football, but it’s part of my culture. I grew up knowing what red and black were for. My parents met in Athens, where they were both living in the first government housing built in the town. My Dad lost his father when he was four, and Mom’s dad abandoned the family when she was a baby, so they were both raised by mothers who had to work hard all their lives. I never knew my dad’s mom, who died before I was born. But, my Mamaw Bryan was always a sweet, white-haired, lilac dressed Grandma who treated us to Coca-Cola in jeweled colored metal cups and cooked up wonderful fried chicken in her little apartment.

I’m sure being raised without fathers played a part in my mom always being home with us while Dad worked hard to provide. We never lacked for anything, but I have no doubt my parents were on a tight budget. Mom made some of my clothes and we ate a lot of beans, but I never worried about where my next meal was coming from. I learned to save what money I had to purchase what I wanted, like a ten-speed bike and my first stereo.

We moved to Jacksonville, Florida, via Montgomery and Ft. Lauderdale, when I was six. I grew up there in the same house until I married. The Georgia Bulldog devotion stayed with our family, especially due to the Georgia-Florida game played each year in Jacksonville. My life revolved around school, church, and neighborhood. We saw Mamaw and our Georgia cousins once or twice a year. The extended family loved to visit us, partly because of our proximity to the ocean. We were less than 30 minutes from the beach and that was a huge part of my childhood and teen years. Flip-flops, body surfing, driving on the beach and listening to WAPE radio are all cherished memories that fashioned a part of me.

This was all background, though. It helped shape me, but there is much more to culture. There are also beliefs. When I was ten years old I came face to face with my sinful state and knew I needed a Savior. I went to my mom, who sat me down in the kitchen and gently answered my questions. I was soon after baptized and spent the next seven years or so with a group of friends, many of whom I’m still in touch. Our world was one of church picnics, choir trips, “rolling” each other’s homes with toilet paper and “dinner on the grounds”. I am forever grateful for those gentle times of growing up feeling safe and secure.

Jacksonville was a last-holdout to racial integration. This affected me in numerous ways. My parents would always claim not to be prejudiced, but they yanked me out of public school the year that desegregation was finally enforced. Yes, it was a tumultuous time and I would not have wanted to be bussed across town, but I actually was anyway, for a year, to a private school. By 10th grade I was back in my local high school, and had my first real encounter with a different race. I never told my parents that I actually made friends with some black students. In my house the “N” word was common; even my brothers and I called each other that when we were mad.

Music is a big part of every culture. In elementary school we sang “Found a Peanut” and “Billy Boy” along with learning all the military branch songs; I still remember ““Over hill, over dale, we have hit the dusty trail, and the Caissons go rolling along.” I grew up on the Beatles, KC and the Sunshine Band, and “The Church in the Wildwood”.

I imagine it might take a whole book, and perhaps a quilt maker, to piece together all that is my culture. It’s southern, middle class, and pretty white. It’s sprinkled with ya’ll and yes ma’am and grits. Funerals are prefaced with lots of food; July 4th and New Year’s Eve bring reason to shoot off tons of fireworks; “Merry Christmas” still abounds as the go-to December greeting. I hope that I have passed down all the good parts of my culture, and let go of the parts that needed to be left behind.

Curls

Photo Challenge Week Four

 
This week’s challenge was a headshot. Knowing that many adults, like me, shy away from the camera, I decided to make kids my focus. So, I borrowed my pastor’s children to be my subjects. It was so hard to choose, since there are four children, but I picked one as my entry for this week because I loved the crooked smile and the sunlight in his curls.

ab44

 
His hair reminds me of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that my dad would recite to me when I was little. Here is the beginning part that he recited:

 

There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Snow in the South

With weather on everyone’s mind, I thought I’d share this from E.B. White, a man who truly had a way with words. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the author of the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. When talking about the first flakes of snow falling, he said,

 

“At first it was an almost imperceptible spitting from the gray sky…”

I love the way he put it – such a perfect way to describe this scene. This is how I want to write.

 
I didn’t get any pictures yesterday, but here are some pictures from February, 2015, when we had that “…imperceptible spitting..”.

 

And, if you haven’t seen the Snow video, an Adele parody by Mary Morris from Tennessee, you’ve GOT to watch it!

 

Landscape or Suburbscape?

Photography Challenge Week Two

This week’s challenge was to capture a landscape. My plan was a walk at Red Mountain with Loretta. Since she gets so excited on walks, I find it’s usually best to use my cell phone instead of my Canon Rebel.

Even in bleak January there is always a view to be found outdoors. I wish I could capture the fresh air and the energy that even a short hike gives me. Just use your imagination while you view a few landscape shots.

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Red Mountain ~ January, 2016

 

rm landscape

 

When I got home I went out in my backyard with the Canon and took some suburbscapes as well. Here’s one-

suburbscape

 

I got an extra surprise shot as a plane came in for a landing at the nearby Bessemer Airport.

Bessemer Airport

 

If you missed week one, you can see it HERE. And if you’d like to read my take on  unexpected moments in photography and life, such as the plane flying by, you can read HERE.

Comfort Clothes

overalls

My cousin Debbie wrote a lovely piece about her trusty brown sweater.  She says, “This is my someone’s at the door, throw over your gown, warm, feel good, soft, sleep in, coffee stained (you can’t see them, thankful brown) enduring, lasting, missing one button, never fail me sweater. I keep it because it is the one thing I can trust to give me that peace of mind and comfort I need.”

This brought to mind Old Red. Old Red was an old red wool coat that belonged to my mom. Long past its prime, it hung it the closet for years. On Saturday afternoons when Dad would kick back in his recliner in the den, with a golf game on TV, he would say, “Go bring me Old Red.” I, or whichever of my brothers was closest, would go it from the closet. Dad would proceed to cover up and fall asleep. But we wouldn’t dare try to change the channel. He would stir up and bellow, “I’m watching that.” I wonder whatever became of that coat; it would have come in handy here in Alabama.

Then there were my overalls. When I was in college at Georgia Southern, there was this great old fashioned hardware store in town where you could buy painters pants and overalls. In the mid-70s these were the fashion around campus. I wore my overalls a lot. A whole lot.  I have a picture of me in them a few years later at Clearwater Beach holding my firstborn son. I also remember that I had them on the day I rushed out of the house to take my neighbor and her son to the ER. I didn’t have time to change, just scooped up the baby and the diaper bag and flew out the door. Barefoot. I’m sure people were shaking their heads at me at the hospital, especially when I had to go into the restroom to unhook them in order to nurse my baby. Then, when I was pregnant with our second, I wore them through about my fifth month. I think I finally gave them up when they got too many holes in them.

My husband had a pair of comfort shorts. When he finally replaced them, we had a burial ceremony in the side yard. He put them in a  shoebox and dug a hole, and then we and the four kids all trooped out, very somber of course, while he said a few parting words over them. They had lived a good life and died with dignity.

I appreciate Debbie and her trusty brown sweater. Comforts clothes are akin to comfort foods. And to friends.  We need to keep them around.

I love how she ends her thoughts. Thank you, Debbie.

“People are constantly telling us we need to let go of the past and move forward. No, we don’t have to forget the past; it is a part of who we are, where we have been and where we are now. Holding on is what we call “memories” and what’s wrong with having those to fall back to?… It is the thread of life that connects us to each other and if I find it woven in a piece of clothing, I’ll hang on to it and I’ll continue to hang this sweater over me until it or I am no more.”

 

 

 

A Year Later

pillows

Last September I made a list of my goals for the month. I thought I’d revisit them to see how I did/how I’m doing now.

  1. Lose 2 pounds. I’ve lost 20 since then.
  2. Cut out more sugar. I’ve done this, though I need to get back to it again.
  3. Walk 3 days a week. Nope, but I am walking more and was able to do a 10 mile hike this summer.
  4. Work on my book at least 5 hours a week. Nope – but I do get to it in fits and spurts.
  5. Visit my youngest daughter. I did that last October.
  6. Redeem at least twice in Bubblews. Don’t write for them anymore. They stink.
  7. Brush my dog’s teeth every day. Nope, poor thing. But I do remember sometimes.
  8. Plant some flowers. Nope, but I’ve planted herbs I got at Pepper Place and they are thriving. I have chocolate mint, oregano, lemon basil, and lavender.
  9. Spend an hour a week working on my photos. Nope, but I got some great shots this past year.
  10. Find two red pillows for the couch. Nope, but I DID get some other great pillows – blues, yellows, and birds.

All in all, I’m okay with the goals I met and the ones I tweaked. I’ll try to crank up the walking and dog tooth-brushing and plant some fall flowers. Maybe I’ll even dust off the manuscript.

Down With “Mother Nature”

 “We all know the church is not the building, it’s the people.” – James Spann, weatherman in Alabama, April, 2014

It was our first week in Alabama and we were under a tornado warning. Our new house does not have a basement, but my plan was to hunker down in the hall bathroom if needed. Which I did for a little while with my dog, Loretta, while my husband slept.

As usual with these kinds of weather conditions, the local channel gave weather updates all day. On the second day, it was announced that a church had been demolished. When the weather man said what he did about the church, I was pleasantly surprised. Because it is so true, yet many people don’t have this view.

Now, I always liked the weathermen in Jacksonville. In fact, one longstanding weatherman, now retired, was the father of one of my high school classmates. And a church going guy. Yet, all I ever heard from all those guys was “Mother Nature” this and “Mother Nature” that. It was refreshing to not  hear it mentioned during the two day vigil last April. I’m sure it could have been, but I never heard it. Thanks, James Spann.

So, tornado or sunshine, God is the creator of all nature.

Rainbow above my house

Rainbow above my house

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

30 Things I love Right Now

This post was inspired by Javacia Harris Bowser. You can read her post HERE. I decided to alphabetize my list – it’s the teacher in me. 🙂 Since she had a song in hers, I’m including one I love, too – Rainy Night in Georgia sung by Boz Scaggs.

  1. Back porch mornings
  2. BFF Cathy – we have known each other for over 40 years
  3. Blogging
  4. BOGO school supplies
  5. Bulletproof Coffee
  6. Discovering B’ham
  7. Freshly painted bathrooms
  8. Hiking at Red Mountain
  9. Husband of 36 years
  10. Loretta, my black lab
  11. Making my own schedule
  12. Melatonin
  13. Microwaved pepperoni dipped in hummus (just ask me)
  14. Mom – my example and support
  15. My grandkids – I love both of them so much my heart aches
  16. My kids – four plus my DIL
  17. PackPoint app
  18. Pepper Place Market
  19. Photography
  20. Prepping for Montana
  21. Reading
  22. Rug from World Market
  23. Salami
  24. Spotify
  25. Steak from the backyard grill
  26. The soft wind
  27. Toss pillows
  28. Tweeting
  29. Writing letters
  30. Zumba videos