I have a playlist on Amazon that I call Sweet Homes. Not all the songs are about Alabama, though, because I’ve had other homes. And I’m attached to some places that are or have been homes for my loved ones. I’m starting out this first installment of Monday Music with a song simply titled Birmingham by Randy Newman. Newman is a prolific songwriter with numerous awards for his work.
Got a wife got a family
Earn my livin’ with my hand
I’m a roller in a steel mill
In downtown Birmingham
My daddy was a barber
And a most unsightly man
He was born in Tuscaloosa
But he died right here in Birmingham
The greatest city in Alabam’
You can travel ‘cross this entire land
But there’s no place like Birmingham
Got a wife named Mary
But she’s called Marie
We live in a three room house
With a pepper tree
And I work all day in the factory
That’s alright with me
Got a big black dog
And his name is Dan
Who lives in my backyard in Birmingham
He is the meanest dog in Alabam’
Get ’em Dan
The greatest city in Alabam’
You can travel ‘cross this entire land
But there’s no place like Birmingham
Written by Randy Newman • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
“Werner thinks of his childhood, the skeins of coal dust suspended in the air on winter mornings…” from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
For some reason, this stirred a childhood memory of milk. For a very short time when we first moved to Jacksonville, FL, we had our milk delivered by the “milkman”. On our front porch sat a metal crate where we would leave our empty bottles and take delivery of fresh milk. I remember the tops were sealed with thick paper lids. This milk was probably from Skinner’s Dairy, a hometown company that later built numerous drive-thru milk stores across Jacksonville.
In north Florida it didn’t get cold very often, but there were some winter mornings when we were excited to be able to see our breath in the chilly air. There was one winter I’ll always remember as the temperature got down in the upper teens and our heat went out. Our dad was out of town at the time on one of his many business trips. We bundled up and played outside anyway. The very large ditch – like a creek – behind our house was frozen on the top. Our friend’s little dog, Ginger, skittered across easily. Our dog, Dixie, followed her and went right through to the icy water.
Other fall and winter days were filled with my brothers playing football in the front yard and a few evening fires in our fireplace. In high school it was a time to wear stylish sweaters to school, then go outside for PE in the short gym suits we had to wear. I remember being teased about the chill bumps on my legs – referred to as chicken skin.
After moving to Birmingham in 2014, I was so excited about our first fall and winter. Sweaters and boots and scarves were so much fun! But, then it seemed to last forever and I yearned for the warmth of spring.
This year, summer has far outlasted its welcome. Now I long once more for the cool air and some justification for a pumpkin spice latte. But, even more, I long for rain.
I was the voice of @BeingBham on Twitter this past January. You can read about that experience here – http://www.readtheleaf.com/the-voice-of-beingbham/
Last week was just as much fun. Instead of taking polls this time, I started a game – #WhereintheBhamIAm – and posted pictures from around town and nearby locales. I was pleased when people responded ; some, such as @UABSlant, got several correct and posted a pic of his own.
I must admit I got sucked into the Twitter Vortex too often, but at least it’s summer and I’m home, albeit with too much time on my hands. I get that often times social media is just superficial and ridiculous, but it does have its moments. I swam through a bunch of political tweets and a lot of bad news in the media this week, but I am grateful for the slices of life God has allowed me to experience.
I’d like to give some shout outs for some Bham peeps:
Pepper Place Market @PepperPlaceMkt for providing a much needed service and giving me enjoyable weekends.
Hoover Public Library @hooverlibrary for providing so much to the community.
BHamRestaurantRaider @RestaurantRaidr , for keeping us food-informed.
Active followers/tweeters Stacy Stover @Stace31374 , Happenin’sInTheHam @BhamHappenin, Patrick McCLendon @patrickmclendon, Jason Roberts @jrobe329 ,
If you’re not in the Twitter World, it’s worth taking a look. Handle with care and you can benefit, as well as be a benefit to others. Plus it’s fun! You can follow me @Bella5804
I have come across some excellent local and not-so-local bloggers/articles because of the blogging groups I belong to, as well as social media links. I’d like to share some good posts that I think would interest my readers.
- Touring wineries in the summer can be fun. You can read my post on Vizzini’s , and then read about a few other spots on the Shelby County Wine Trail written by Michele from A Southern Ruckus.
- If you visit Pepper Place or other local markets, you may have recently purchased some pink-eyes peas like we did last weekend. Here’s the down-low and some recipes from Garden & Gun Magazine.
- I was born in Athens, Georgia,but I haven’t been to Athens, Alabama yet. This post from Susan’s Cabinet makes me want to go! It’s about the Athens Grease Festival
- For what to eat in Birmingham, look no further than this blog by the same name. Be sure to read the Trader Joe’s post.
- For a peep at Huntsville, read Discover Your Own City , then read more at The Remark.
- For some Alabamian reading suggestions , check out this page at Three Friends and a Fork.
- The Leaf is the best local monthly magazine!
People are always asking, “Where did the time go?” The time goes in big and small moments, some memorable and some wasted. You can read my highlights of the first quarter of 2016 HERE.
Here are some highlights of the second quarter of my year:
- I got my taxes done on time
- Discovered Ruffner Mountain
- Finished out the year subbing – you can read some of those adventures HERE. This also included the last three days of school with a great bunch of 8th graders
- Flew to Tampa to spend time with fam. This included a late afternoon at Clearwater Beach and a gorgeous sunset
- Read lots of books – You can check out what I’ve read so far this year here on my Pinterest board
- Made several trips to Pepper Place Market
- With more time in the summer, I checked out movies from the Hoover Library. It’s also a great place for lunch or a coffee!
- Discovered: Over Easy Cafe – delish!; Hillsboro Trail; Lazy Boy BBQ in Helena (great pork – best for take-out); Twisted Root Burger in Vestavia (you must check out the Chuck Norris wall!)
- First-time visit to Clanton for Peach Festival – highlight was getting peach ice cream.
- Got the first pedicure in over four years at Riveria Nails & Spa in Hoover. – so nice!
- Enjoyed watching the Braves beat the Marlins in Atlanta with hubby and daughter.
Looking forward to the rest of 2016!
Back in April I wrote a poem a day for PAD, Writer’s Digest’s Poem A Day challenge. The prompt for day 23 was “footwear”. I instantly thought about the excitement of my first winter in Birmingham when I got to wear boots day after day. And then I thought of last August when I was hiking in Montana. After a hard trek to Iceberg Lake, I took off my hiking boots and plunged my feet into the water that was about 40 degrees. Needless to say, I barely lasted 15 seconds. Now, in this hot June, I could use that refreshing plunge once again!
I was so pleased to move
to a place
where I could buy boots
and actually wear them
That first boot winter
was so much fashion fun
Those boots gave me
warmth and style
Gray, brown, black –
I loved them all
But by month six
My Florida feet were
longing to be set free
I’m nearing the end of my second year of substitute teaching here in Alabama and I’ve come to look at it as more than just a job. When I was a full-time teacher, I had so much on my plate and so much on my mind that many days I was too exhausted to think much past the next set of papers I had to grade. Now I’m looking at things from a little different perspective.
Some days I just sit and don’t do much more than take roll and pass out an assignment. Other days might be jammed packed with instruction and discipline. The variety is usually enjoyable. I have learned to be an observer and I try to make connections with students when I can.
From time to time I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observances, and tidbits from the classroom.
“A circle was ugly without you.” -from Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Being on the outside of a circle, looking in, is a lonely place to be. I’ve felt that way over the years, but fortunately not too often. It hurts, no matter how old you are. But, the middle school years are the hardest. If you aren’t in a circle, your outsideness really shows.
Today I saw a pretty young girl sitting all alone in a room full of kids who were talking to each other and laughing while they sat together. I didn’t know her or her story, but I wondered. Did she choose to sit alone? Did she just not have a friend in this particular class, but when the bell rang would she meet up with her BFF as she headed for her next class? I sure hoped so. That’s what I wished for. I wish everyone had a BFF waiting somewhere for them. A person who was interested, a person who cared. But, I know that isn’t always the case. So, all the more reason to be kind. And to remember how ugly that circle can be when you are on the outside.
A quarter of 2016 has already slipped by. The following is a recap of the last three months, just covering some of the highlights.
- I was the voice of @BeingBham on twitter for the last week of January
- Had the best pork chop ever at Gianmarcos in Homewood
- Got my name on the sign at Demetri’s!
- I met Matt Redmond, author of God of the Mundane
- I flew to Tampa for Juliette’s 3rd birthday and Princess Party
- Heard the Vulcan Eejits at the Hoover Library
- Spent quite a few days subbing at RMS and PHS
- Rediscovered some old photos
- Discovered Eudora Welty
Morgan or Larry? You be the judge
I learned a lesson – don’t assume. You know what they say…
Last year I wrote a short blog post on the voice that comfortingly comes over the speaker at the Birmingham/Shuttlesworth Airport. The voice that tells you not to leave your bags unattended.
Here is the original post: https://angie5804b.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/bham-shuttlesworth-airport/
Turns out, according to a source from my stint @BeingBham on Twitter, that voice isn’t actually Morgan’s. It’s a guy named Larry Davis. Wow, was I fooled. So, I checked out Larry. You need to, also. On this page you can hear samples, including his impression of Morgan Freeman. I bet you would have been fooled, too!