A Belated Goodbye to 2016

  • Autumn turned to winter after a drought that gripped Alabama along with much of the southeast. Even with the dry days and dusty trails, I still got in a few hikes and found some lovely fall colors.ht8

 

  • Also enjoyed the beauties of Bham thanks to Jamie Golden and the Capture the Ham photo group.crest6

 

  • Expanded my subbing experiences and found some more schools where I love to visit
  • Started an online book club – Kindred Spirits Book Club – via facebook. So far we’ve read

    • A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
    • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

 

 

  • Made a trip to Tampa, where I
    • Did a speed-trip through the art museum while the grandkids noticed all the nekkid art
    • Enjoyed an early Thanksgiving lunch after a few songs at my granddaughter’s daycare.
    • Delighted in the grandkids behavior when I took them out to eat at Ella’s
    • Took the kiddos to a birthday party where we saw a llama and a donkey up close and they fed cow cookies (tortillas) to the cows

 

  • Had a wonderful anniversary trip to Lake Guntersville where we
    • Stayed at the historic Lake Guntersville Bed & Breakfast in a fabulous room and enjoyed delicious breakfastsus-lg
    • Walked to town and meandered through the antique shops
    • Took a hike at Lake Guntersville State Parkdeer

 

  • Zipped down to Jacksonville for a super short Christmas trip where we
    • Were backed into by a truck in a parking lot
    • Used a lot of duct tape
    • Saw our mothers and brothersedge4

 

  • Heard St. Paul & the Broken Bones at the Alabama Theatre – very entertaining

 

  • After seeing all the “One Word” posts, I chose the word TIME for 2017. More about that later!time

Third Quarter Recap

 

3q1

October is almost over and I just realized I didn’t write a third quarter recap at the end of September. So, for what it’s worth, here are the highlights of my third quarter:

  • We kept our daughter’s dog, Poca, for over a month while she was in Columbia, South America. Things started out well, but after the second fight, in which Loretta received a puncture wound, we kept the two dogs separate. It was fine, though, as each one got special attention.
  • I went to McAlister’s Deli for the first time. The Orange Cranberry Club was delish!
  • Joined Grace Covenant Baptist Church and began making new friends
  • Subbed in some new schools. including McAdory Middle, McAdory High, Pleasant Grove High, West Elementary, Hueytown Middle, Oak Mountain Middle, Helena Middle, Helena High
  • Attended a few Saturday Write Club meetings at the Hoover Library
  • Went on five hikes
  • Took lots of pictures around Bham
  • Went to Jacksonville and squeezed in a lot of visits. Got to see my  cousin Paula for the first time in over 15 years
  • Spent a morning at Jacksonville Beach
  • Started the Kindred Spirit Book Club  – it’s online, so if you are interested, leave me a comment or email me.
  • Started Round Two of the Capture the ‘Ham Small Group/Photo Group3q2

And now to finish the year well!

 

A Thought from All the Light We Cannot See

all-the-light-we-cannot-see-9781476746586_hr

 

“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.

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.

A Tale of Two Cities

wf  Jax           wfalB’ham

No, I’m not talking Dickens here. I’ve never been to London or France. But, I’m talking Jacksonville, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama. Two cities of the south , one dear to my heart and one growing on me.

safe

Safe cracking in underground Jax

Before I left Jax, my BFF and I did as much exploring as we could. We’d both grown up there, but never knew there was a small underground tunnel downtown, originally built to transfer money between banks.  And now I know  B’ham has walkable/drivable tunnels with lights.

SAMSUNG

Florida Theater

Both cities have grand old theaters.  The Florida Theater, a lovely art deco masterpiece, was where I saw many a performance, from The Nutcracker on field trips with my students, to Leo Kottke with my daughter, to Boz Scaggs, The Temptations and The Four Tops, and Loretta Lynn  with my BFF. I have yet to visit the Alabama, but it’s high on my list. The cool thing is they were both built in 1927.

sjrtc

St. Johns River                                                                Railroad Park

The music scene flourishes in both cities, as well as Minor League baseball. There are lovely old buildings and  modern ones, including a Wells Fargo in both as you can see in my pictures above. What Jacksonville has that Birmingham doesn’t is the St. Johns River flowing in it’s midst. But, B’ham has numerous well kept parks and more restaurants that attract people. The downtown doesn’t shut down at 5pm, as I discovered on Thursday when I met my #capturetheham group at Urban Standard for a walk-about in the area. I look forward to more downtown exploring in the months ahead!

B’ham-Shuttlesworth Airport

IMDb
photo-IMBd

I have flown as much in the past year or so than in all my years before that. Back and forth from B’ham to Jacksonville and Tampa, via Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami. There is one thing comforting about the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport than none of the other ones have: Morgan Freeman.

Yep, that voice telling you not to leave your bags unattended – that’s Morgan Freeman. I always smile when I hear him. I know I’m home.