Christmas Anytime

 

imageI once put the Christmas tree up during July because I wanted to celebrate Christmas again with my children. The year before had been a rough one and I felt we had been cheated.

We dropped the air conditioner down so low the windows fogged over, then closed the blinds, and baked cookies while listening to our favorite carols. That evening we curled up on the couch and watched The Bishop’s Wife, The Bells of St Mary’s and of course It’s a Wonderful Life, classics the children had never seen.

Although I’ve not put the tree up at odd times of the year again, I have begun stretching out my enjoyment of the holiday. Our Christmas this year in Alabama was unseasonably hot. Now that the temps have dropped, I’ve begun taking long drives early in the morning and late at night, listening to my favorite CDs.

Susan Boyle’s rendition of Perfect Day has become worn. As I missed this production of it in 2011, I was shocked to find it filmed in the place it most reminds me of. Always, from the first moment I heard it, the lyrics have made me long for Central Park, a day there, roaming alone.

 

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

…And, so, I find myself standing under the eaves of some back street, wet, caught between the easy banter of old men.

GreenwichVillageStreet

Some Things Are Just Different Up Here

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

One addiction leads to another~ Antiques & BBQ

There are chaotic days. There are boring days.

And then, there are road trip days! So, when the promise of hours spent riffling through antiques in Atlanta, Georgia was waved beneath my nose like a tasty morsel, I took the bait, completely!

At forty-eight I still don’t know my way around the city.  It is one thing to set out on foot around town with a general idea of where you’re heading; it is entirely another to navigate around Georgia’s capital city, dodging idiots and taking back-roads to avoid road construction.  Needless to say, I laud the finesse of my driver.  Not only was it hot as hell in Atlanta this fine July day, the traffic was unbelievable.

I think for me the love of rummaging through old things began as a child.  Clearly I remember slinking away to my GrandMosie’s back bedroom to pull out her collection of Sarah Coventry jewelry.  It was the same in her closets –and thus began my love of vintage clothing.  She didn’t do away with anything.  My cousins and I tried on her dresses from the 30’s and 40’s and fought over her pointy crocodile pumps.  Another layer was added to my obsession when I began attending antique auctions with my parents.  Here, I fell hard for furniture.  A summer or so later, my sister, Suzanne introduced me to a salvage store in Cullman, AlabamaSouthern Accents Architectural Antiques.  Forever since, I’ve been owned by this infatuation with all things rusted, antiquated, collected! Today’s destination promised to feed these passions, well.

FullSizeRender (4)

Without scratch dent or even a bump, we arrived intact at Scott Antique Markets.  Mind the (s) in markets, as there are two!  The antique show is held the second weekend of each month.  Admission is $5 and tickets are good for the entire weekend.  I admit I cheated and checked out the website prior to our trip.  It boasts that it is the “World’s Largest Monthly Indoor Antique Show”, with over 3,500 booths filled with antiques and collectibles.  I couldn’t wait to wander around and get thoroughly lost!

1

The North Building is located at 3650 Jonesboro Rd; 3850 Jonesboro Rd, Atlanta, Georgia is the address of the South Building.

*****

*A few things that caught my eye~

german spoonsand forks

more silver

Silver spoons, German.  My mother would have a fit for these…

******

French posters and other poster art are a strange love.  I just can’t get enough of them!

french poster art

music box

A gorgeous disc music box marked, The Detmer Music House.  The sound was incredibly clear.

windows

An entire section of nothing but stained-glass windows that made me want to purchase an old home to renovate.

WWII memorabilia –

Buy War Bonds, plant a Victory Garden, A Gallant Leader.  So many posters, pins, photos…

wwII memWWIImem1

More of the same in Civil War memorabilia.  I would never get my Papa out of this booth.

CW memcw and other mem

*****

And…flags galore!

13 stars, 13 barsflags 1

A rare 13 Star Centennial Era Flag, Circa 1875-1890 “Symbolic of the star arrangement used on our 1st flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes.  Ordered by George Washington; made and designed by Francis Hopkinson a signer of The Declaration of Independence.”

bunting1bunting“Bunting used in decorations during the last Confederate Reunion in

Birmingham, Alabama. – Mary J. Lanier”

fishing lures and flags

And antique fishing lures! Literally there is something for everyone.  You could come with twenty people, head in different directions upon entering and never cross paths.

lamp fullThese gorgeous demijohns made into lamps were incredible, so large and rich in color. Italians know it is a sin to store wine in anything other than glass.  In Italy, demijohns are passed down from family to family; and they still fill them annually with their favorite local wines.

Traditionbordeau tag

lamp and paintingI can’t believe I didn’t get a  photo of the chandelier I fell hard for.The only negative thing about being a window shopper is not purchasing.  I always recognize what I should’ve bought by the time I return home.

painting

The etched water glasses and a seascape painting with a rough, hewn wooden frame were sure purchases.

Could’a, Should’a, Didn’t…

…Until we arrived at 1811 Piedmont Ave!

And then, one addiction was followed by yet another!  I’d known in advance that we were going rummaging through piles of antiques in conditioned air.  A late lunch at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, however, was a sweet surprise!

photo (4)

fat matts ext

We arrived to find the line had not yet snaked its way around the building -or if it had, we’d luckily missed it!

Opening the door, we were immediately met by cold air and the lingering, seductive smells of Southern food; above the hum and drone of those feasting, Sam Cooke crooned.

“I was born by the river in a little tent/ Oh just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since/ It’s been a long time, long time coming…”       

I felt I had truly died and gone to heaven.  fat matt's blues

The ribs were indescribably good.  We ordered ½ a slab –it and the sides combined were more than I could handle.  The meat fell from the bone and I don’t even think I touched the extra sauce they sent out!

And, the potato salad…I’d drive the two hours from Oxford, Alabama for it alone. We also ordered the Rum Baked Beans –they were divine as well.

...take a little of the potato salad on your fork, a little of the beans as well…

Talk about being bewitched~

ribs1
ps

I looked long and hard at the mac n cheese -the South’s favorite vegetable.  I also cast a wanting eye toward the collard greens; Lord knows I longed for them both.

But does this not make a second visit in the very near future necessary?!

Perhaps next time I’ll brave an evening visit for the live Blues!

*Due to severe cravings and BBQ withdrawals, this is a very delayed post. Please forgive! All I know is that I craved those ribs for two days after the fact and found it impossible to write about them; every time I made the attempt, I had to stop and find something lackluster to eat from the kitchen.

********

photo of me for blog

 

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

 

–wherever I go

It occurred to me this morning while I was out dusting my roses, that I have never stayed in a house long enough to reap the rewards of all my plantings.

In my late twenties, I began to take on the habits of my GrandMosie and Grandmother Libby, taking clippings from roses whenever the children and I came upon them.  They too began to pick out favorites, casting furtive glances as I carefully cut.  We wrapped the stems in a moistened napkin and stashed them away in my backpack just as I had seen my grandmothers do time and time again.  Once home the trimmings were dipped in Root Tone and the children would take them and plant them gingerly in the nursing pot with the others.  The following spring, we would transplant all those that had survived and taken root.  Amazingly, they almost always did.  Our backyard on Magnolia Street filled and then overflowed, roses waving like a rumpled tapestry.

Then the children and I moved back home to Rainbow City and I –now in my thirties – discovered a love of azaleas wild and hybrid, magnolias, evergreens and pear trees.  And so I planted, watered, nurtured.  Eventually … I moved again.

Several summers ago -almost twelve years later -I took a late evening drive back to Rainbow City.  When I neared the homeplace I slowed, astounded by the growth, the sheer beauty of all I had planted so many years before.  It was just as I had thought it would be, what I had imagined when I chose the plants and placed them.  A sudden wistfulness quickly consumed me; then just as quickly was squelched when I noticed a woman out back, watering and smiling.  And, did I see her talking gently to my plants?  I wanted to stop and tell her their history, which ones were planted on birthdays, and other special occasions.

Perhaps someday I will put down permanent roots as well.  Until then, I will continue my love of planting –wherever I go.

 

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

there is the tearing with teeth to consider~ ’tis the season for SLICE!

When I hear the word pizza, immediately I begin thinking –tasting even- rich marinara, pepperoni, sweet roasted peppers, the pungent bitterness of black olives.  And there is the tearing of the teeth into a chewy but somehow crisp crust to consider…

Unlike some foods that require a season (think chili and hearty soups), pizza works any time of day, any time of year.  It is divine hot from the oven or cold from the fridge the next morning (if it survives that long once home) with a glass of iced milk.  It is as wanted and craved in the summer, as spring, winter, or fall.

This past April, I met with a new friend, Lindsey King to discuss her most recent trip to New York City.  We opted for Greek salads instead of the hearty seven pound pizza Mater’s is famous for –she was being good, I just followed suit.   But my eyes glazed over as a hearty Field Hand pizza was delivered to a table nearby.  Lindsey recognized the look, laughed and proceeded to clue me in on a pizza place in Birmingham, Alabama I needed to try – SLICE!

slice4

So, the following weekend another dear friend and I headed to Slice Pizza & Brew, located at 725 29th Street South, Birmingham.  The web site boasts local ingredients, hand tossed dough, a stone oven and a selection of both Italian and Mediterranean sides as well as an opulent selection of craft and import beers.  I could not wait!

slice6slice10slice2

Alabama Craft on Draft!  The Birmingham Brewing companies include: Avondale, Cahaba, Good People and TrimTab.

slice8slice5slice7

Hands-down the favorite beer sampled was Brew Stooges Hot Chocolate Porter!  Easily, I could substitute it for food.  *It was the darkest brew they had…

slice9slice11

The first pizza ordered was the Rockefeller!  It came loaded with crispy fried Gulf oysters, caramelized onions, nice sized chunks of bacon lardons, fresh spinach, mushrooms, and shaved parmesan!  Although it wasn’t the pizza I’d had in mind, it was amazingly delicious –the oysters were perfectly crisp and fresh.  Not having eaten all day, this one was quickly inhaled.slice3

The second pizza selected was The Lakeview.  It was delivered to the table laden with braised beef short ribs, caramelized onion, roasted tomatoes, pungent asiago, arugula, red onion and horseradish sauce.

slice 1 I’m not sure what it was about the mix of ingredients on this pizza, but it wasn’t large enough.  I wanted MORE even when my stomach couldn’t possibly handle it.  There was just something about the sauce and the arugula that made the whole thing deliciously difficult to describe –a little bitter, a little heat with a touch of smoke…incredible!

While pizza is not seasonal, the menu at Slice is…but our waiter reassured us that if something we like disappears, it is not forever!

I am ready for another visit –the only problem is I can’t make up my mind which pizza I want most!!

**********

photo of me for blog

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

 

cHaOs in the kitchen~ “Custer’s Last Fight”, Anheuser Busch 1952

When I was growing up, I would stand for hours staring at this picture that hung in my grandparent’s home, morbidly fascinated by the chaos, the scalpings!

My grandfather, T. E. Stephens (Pop-Pop) was gifted the picture when he, Mother and Grandmother Libby visited her sister Willa Jean in New Mexico in 1956.  Pop-Pop and Jean got along beautifully and when he told her how much he liked it, she sent it back to Bama with him.  Jean was our family’s outdoorsman –she once killed a walrus in Alaska.  It pains me that I do not know her “story”, but I think that the two of them- Pop-Pop with his easy sense of humor, and the audacious Jean would smile to see it now handing above my kitchen table, so that the family can enjoy a good scalping with each and every meal!

 C's Last Stand

     The cleaning and reframing were painstaking, but well worth the effort.  The picture is a depiction of The Battle of Little Bighorn, often referred to as “Custer’s Last Stand”.  It is titled “Custer’s Last Fight”, Anheuser Busch 1952.  The original painting was presented to the Seventh Regiment U.S. Cavalry.

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

 

More than I bargained for ~ Selma, Alabama 2004. Dr. Hardy Jackson & Mrs. Kathryn Tucker Windham, Alabama’s Finest Storytellers

There is a certain thrill that comes in experiencing the unexpected, visiting the unknown.  Perhaps we are born with a yearning to explore new places.  Once fed, the hunger to roam becomes more urgent, as almost unwittingly there is the construction of a new appetite.  I have this appetite.

Although my mantra is any road trip is a good road trip I was not overly intrigued by the idea of visiting Selma, Alabama.  I was, however, motivated by the possibility of any unforeseeable events that may lay in store along the way.

Our little group had agreed to meet up early that Wednesday.  There before the others, I remember parking and looking about, wondering if in fact our vehicles would be the first in any parking lot on JSU’s campus.  Jacksonville seemed eerily silent before sunrise.  Leaning against the car, I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the solitude, knowing it very well could be the only quiet moment of the day.  Admittedly, I was anxious.  This was the first time I’d ever ventured off with a group of folks I did not know and although I fought against it, my mind kept whispering trapped in a car for a long period of time.

One by one they began to arrive.  Quickly I slid in behind our driver for the day –a highly intelligent, unpredictable, fun-loving fellow who also happened to be our Southern History Professor, Dr. Harvey Hardaway Jackson III.  The remaining crew consisted of three female students all of whom I’d already labeled as “talkers”.  For this I was exceedingly grateful as I tend to be overly quiet around folks I don’t know.

Hardy –forgive the informality, but many years have now passed and the friendship is surely sealed, forever tight –Hardy had offered up an open invitation in class that anyone who cared to join him should, as he was scheduled to speak at the Selma Public Library regarding his latest book Inside Alabama: A Personal History of My State.  Dog-eared copy in hand, I was the first to sign up.

Once on the road, we fell naturally into the previous day’s discussion on why it is we Southerners think and act as we do.   I can honestly admit that prior to his classes, I’d never paused to question such things.

Before we knew it we were nearing Montgomery.  Hardy detoured through Lowndesboro, explaining it was “not so much a town as a string of historic buildings”. The 2000 census placed the population at 140.  As we followed the route taken on the Selma to Montgomery march of 1965, he explained that it was just outside of Lowndesboro that Viola Liuzzo, a young civil rights activist from Michigan was chased down by the KKK and shot.  Liuzzo was driving Leroy Moton, who had recently participated in the second march, to the airport.

Hardy eased the car off the road, stopping at an old white church.  It immediately reminded me of the Baptist Church my grandparents had attended when I was a child.  Oh, how many sweltering summers my cousins and I spent in those small back Sunday school classrooms, making crafts, memorizing Bible verses and sweating bullets during Vacation Bible School.

As he parked, Hardy gave us a brief summary on the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, formerly the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.  Built in 1830, the structure is capped with the dome from the 1820 Alabama Statehouse in Cahaba.cem church

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church ~ Lowndesboro, Alabama

After walking around and taking a few photos, we loaded back up and headed to our next stop.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was built in 1857 from a popular pattern found in a book by Richard Upjohn.  The Episcopal church in Jacksonville, AL was based on the same plan.   “You usually find Episcopal churches in settlements where wealthy planters from South Carolina and Georgia settled,” he further explained.

e church selmaSt. Paul’s Episcopal Church ~ Lowndesboro, Alabama

Our last stop before making our destination was Sturdivant Hall.  Built in 1852-1856 as a townhouse for Colonel Edward Watts, the Greek Revival neo-classical architecture is breathtakingly beautiful.  Hardy walked us through the house, discussing various objects and artwork.  A woman nearby explained that workers were brought in from Italy to complete the plaster and marble.  Never did she whisper that the house is allegedly haunted by former owner and banker, John Parkman.

st hall selma

Sturdivant Hall, 713 Mabry Street ~  Selma, Alabama

Before leaving, we all gathered in close for a photo.

hardy's girls

With Hardy Jackson at Sturdivant Hall 2004 ~ Selma, Alabama

Selma Public Library

selma public library

 

 

 

By the time we reached Selma Public Library, I already felt as though the trip had been worthwhile.

While Hardy was busy socializing, the girls and I all went our separate ways.  Longing for a quiet moment, I walked around the library admiring the paintings.  From the corner of my eye, I noticed an older lady had come to stand close by.  There was an ease to her that I still cannot describe; she too seemed caught up in the combination of beauty and quiet separateness.

“Sunflowers are the most beautiful flowers, don’t you think?” she asked admiringly, indicating a nearby painting.  I recognized the softness of her Southern drawl.  She noted the difference in mine as well and as we wandered along she inquired as to which part of North Alabama I was from.  She asked if I gardened and we chatted about growing up in the South.  The sound of her voice was lulling, soothing and it was with disappointment that I realized we had arrived in the area where Hardy was to speak.

Although I was looking forward to listening to my professor’s tales of the South, I was disappointed that my time with her had ended.  As we took our places, she slid in beside me and another girl from our group.  I smiled, pleased that she was joining us and realized with a start, I’d not asked her name nor introduced myself.  I happened to look beyond her to my fellow traveler whose eyes were now weirdly wide.  What the hell is she doing, I wondered.  She mouthed Kathryn…Tucker…Windham, nodding at the woman I’d been chatting with.  Suddenly I understood the peculiar expression on her face.  The knowledge was devastating, as if I had been hit full in the chest with a crowbar.

I’d been wandering about, passing the time with my favorite childhood author and had not even known.  Mrs. Windham had surely been saved from much gushing and stammering.

Feeling equally blessed, I sat and listened as Hardy recounted family tales of courage, feuds, Good Ole Boy politics, his daddy’s poutin’ house, Southern chivalry that was not dead, and all the glorious things that had once separated Southern culture from that of the remaining nation.  I listened to Hardy, but could not keep my eyes and thoughts from Mrs. Windham.  Had the chance, lost it, kept running through my mind.

With his talk completed, Hardy walked about shaking hands and hugging necks.  I noted that the majority of the audience was indeed female.  This garnered a well-deserved smirk; smart man, when he caught my eye, he knew exactly what it meant.  Mrs. Windham joined us for a moment before we left and I learned that she and Hardy were ‘cousins-in-law’.

Before heading north, we made one more stop at Old Live Oak Cemetery.  If only the wisteria had been in bloom, large white magnolia blossoms scenting humid air.  Though these were not yet visible, we Southerners knew they were there and could smell them just the same.

“There is glory in the graves” read the inscription on a nearby Confederate monument.  In 1879 Colonial N.H.R. Dawson purchased eighty Live Oaks and eighty Magnolia trees in Mobile, Alabama and had them planted throughout the cemetery.  Spanish moss drapes down from ancient oaks as if trying to enshroud the chivalrous dead; their cannons, still close at hand, aim northward.

live oak cemetery

Live Oak Cemetery ~ Selma, Alabama

I rode to South Alabama with one storyteller, and ended up meeting another.

It was a charmed meeting.  But, as we made the return trip, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d been cheated –I’d have asked about her favorite memories, the foods she longed for when she was with family… With a slow smile I realized exactly why she had skipped the introductions.  Was it not so much more to wander, admire the beauty before us together and speak gently, proudly of our South?

On 231, just north of Rockford, Alabama we passed Sears Chapel Methodist Church.  Hardy slowed the car and we lowered the windows.  I imagine each and every one of us held our breath, thought of Mrs. Windham and her love of ghosts and listened for the baby crying in the road.

 

sears chapel

         Sears Chapel Methodist Church, 1860 ~ just north of Rockford, Alabama

*****

It had indeed been a road trip to remember.  Looking back, I am reminded how quickly a moment can pass and how we do not know the moment for what it is until much later. That trip was a catalyst that sent me down another road; a conglomeration of memorable moments those two years with Hardy have become.  They are firmly cemented as well.  While meeting Mrs. Windham was a true gift, it was the tutelage of Dr. Hardy Jackson that took my life in an unexpected and better direction.

How often the unexpected moments become the focal point, rather than the destination. Sometimes you set out on a jaunt, and bring back a little more than you anticipated.

Thank you, Hardy

hardy

Dr. Harvey Hardaway Jackson III.

Mrs. Kathryn Tucker Windham

Mrs. Windham

  • 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey (1969)
  • Jeffrey’s Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts ((1987)
  • Jeffrey Introduces Thirteen More Southern Ghosts (1987)
  • Thirteen Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey (1987)
  • Southern Cooking to Remember (1994)
  • Encounters (1998)
  • Jeffrey’s Favorite 13 Ghost Stories (2004)
  • Alabama, One Brig Front Porch (2007)
  • Spit, Scarey Ann, and Sweat Bees: One Thing Leads to Another (2009)
  • She: The Old Woman Who Took Over My Life (2011)

Mrs. Windham was a reporter for Alabama Journal, The Birmingham News and later the Selma-Times Journal where she won Associated Press awards for photography and writing.

Mrs. Windham also performed her stories on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Alabama Public Radio’s Alabama Life.

 Hardy Jackson & Kathryn Windham TuckerHardy and Kathryn

**********

photo of me for blog

*****

ELIZABETH MOZLEY

@ElizabethMozley  &  @CentipedeYAread

And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley

We Share the Same Sky, a memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU