an Alabama cold streak…

Ugh-this weather! Spring in the South is unpredictable at best.  Warm temps for weeks, days spent working in the yard and throwing the windows wide to let in the warm breeze while deep cleaning, and now this, a cold streak.

As I load the grandbaby and drive her back to Gadsden, I notice the temperature gauge in my car.  It reads 40 degrees.  And, it is raining.  When I park and walk her in, I realize with a start that this time last year, Isaac and I were in England and Whales.  From daybreak until sunset we had walked in the rain, chilled to the bone. This morning looks, smells and feels identical –identically miserable.  In Ireland several days later, the rain had tapered off but the persistent chill lingered.  I dreamt of luxuriously hot baths and my own bed.  With just this brief lapse of time, memories of the trip now hold a golden patina.  Until this morning, I’d forgotten the soul-sucking weather.

We could be half-way to a city we have never seen…

This thought brings a smile and a deep yearning for some place warm; for does not warmth sometimes bring with it happiness?

A trip today is impossible.  But soon enough there will be time.  Today, I can enjoy rural Alabama.

FARM A

Although it is cold now, I know the Southern sun will burn away the chill quickly.

And it does, almost immediately.  The rain stops, the clouds clear.

 

Perhaps there are minute things about us, as people, that change as we grow but our base –the principal part of us -seems to stay the same.  I seek out warmth and comfort when out-of-sorts.  And, a book to get lost in.

FARMJ

For me, sublime is defined as a warm place to snuggle in and read, breathe in fresh air and be lulled to sleep by songbirds and sunshine.  When I was young, I’d hike Dunnaway Mountain behind my parent’s home in search of the perfect spot.  Today, I am wandering along a friend’s pastureland.  Happily, I do not know where their property ends and someone else’s begins!

Private Property –what does that mean, exactly?!

 

FARM C

God gave me long legs for a reason~

I find a cozy spot with an amazing view and settle in to read.  Yet all around I find things that draw the eye.

FARML

 

 

What is it about the smell of cedar that draws?  The smell of the oils that seep within your skin..

 

FARM H

 

 

 

 

I concentrate on the travel book I’ve read a half a dozen times.  Frances Mayes writes about old towns, culture and WORK!  It is why I return to her writings again and again.  When I squint, the sun dances between my lashes.  It is so warm.

FARM F

I awaken to the sound of hooves against hard soil.  A massive bull has unknowingly run near me and it is the sound of his hooves -the mighty weight of his hooves slurping against the pull of red Alabama mud-that jolts me completely awake.   Jesus, God and Mary!  Until this moment, I’d been unaware there was a bull in the pasture!

FARM G

Walking calms.  I gather my things and decide to roam the hills; one more beautiful than the other calls until I am there, looking back across the lake and beyond to another even more glorious field that beacons as well.  My darling cousins, the Pentecost clan, lived on a farm.  I was always envious of their lolling pastureland that sidled up to Green Valley Mountain.

FARMBFARM I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three tiny woodland ducks on the water.  They are small enough to be bass bait. Two dive below the glossy surface of the water and I find myself counting.  1, 2, 3, 4…  Just as I catch my breath, they resurface and the three swim on. They continue on in this way, two disappear deep down below. And, I wonder –does one always stay atop, afloat as watchman, or does he count his brothers’ time off down below; do they keep score, these animals free to play?FARMM

A lone swan swims, seeming not to have a care in the world.

I want to be that swan.

 

 

*****

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

 

Fried green tomatoes @ both Whistle Stop Cafés

When it comes to fried green tomatoes, I thank God Alabama and Georgia are sister states!  However, this weekend was about more than just food.

Well, somewhat!

There are days I crave a road trip, and when I can’t take a long one I pick something I’m interested in, do a little research and take a short one (or two related ones) instead.

Now being a Southern woman, it goes without saying that I am a Fannie Flagg fan.  If the name does not ring any bells, please let me try to ring them.  Fannie Flagg is the professional name for Patricia Neal, an Alabama native, actress/writer/comedian.  You may remember her for co-hosting our local “Morning Show” on WBRC-TV or her appearances on Allen Funt’s Candid Camera & the game show Match Game.  OH, and let’s not forget that little Southern book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and the amazing movie Fried Green Tomatoes! 

Friedgreenbookfilm box red

The Irondale Café, also known as The Original Whistlestop Café is not new to me. Located in Irondale, Alabama in the greater Birmingham area, it is a short 45 minute drive from our house.  And the food is worth every minute of it!  Originally begun in 1928, the business was ran after WWII by three women -Bess Fortenberry, Sue Lovelace & Lizzie Cunningham-who together turned the café into a sensation.  It just so happens that our author, Fannie Flagg, is Bess Fortenberry’s niece.

The idea of visiting both the Irondale location and then driving over to Juliette, Georgia where the movie was filmed struck me as something fun to do.  The trip would take two and a half hours there, two and a half back.  Just far enough to get away for a while and fill my tank (creativity tank/ happy tank & the bottomless pit/hunger tank). You know what I’m talking about!  I just needed to get lost a while, enjoy some soul food and smile.

***

       Knowing how everyone likes to hear how the food tastes and see how it looks, I decided to revisit the Irondale Café first and order a few things I don’t normally get.  Being out of school last Friday because Talladega County schools can’t run buses for all the race traffic was a plus I took advantage of.  It was also my excuse to hit the road!

photo3

 

The place was packed and plates were fully loaded!  I grabbed a tray and got in line.

 1The pies are always my weakness! 2The special was smothered chicken livers~ a Southern favorite!  I’m not sure what it is about cafeteria style restaurants, but I love how they bring out the little girl in me -I just get so excited about all the choices right there within arms reach!  You get to see the food before you choose…smothered chicken livers

 It is extremely difficult for me to give up something I love in order to try something new.  So, I went for a few -a very limited few- of my favorites…

 

the best fried catfish around

 

 

 

 

 

…cornbread dressing, fried green tomatoes & a huge slice of toasted coconut pie!

Their chocolate pie is still my favorite dessert.

 

***

Sunday Morning, arrived and it could not have been a more beautiful day -70 degrees and sunny!  When I drove down Hwy 78 to I-20, Talladega race fans were already crowding the roads.  I cruised along with my windows down enjoying a little Tony Bennett & Frank Sinatra, constantly checking my speedometer because every State Trooper in Bama was out and about.

atl    Lost in a daydream I was in Atlanta, Georgia before I realized it!

       As I exited I-75 South and entered Forsyth, Georgia my heart began to sing.  There is nothing as wonderful as a drive in the country on a pretty day!  I was nine miles from Juliette and I was beyond ravenous!

 forsythA farmhouse in Forsyth filled me with envy!

JULIETTE & THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE at last~

       When I arrived, there were only a few tables taken by families having Sunday dinner; church had just let out. (In the South, dinner is your biggest meal on Sunday, taken at lunch & supper is your evening meal.)

wsc

I chose a little table in the front corner  near the door where I could people watch and snap photos without being too intrusive 😉 y

Leslie brought me the menu, a big glass of sweet tea and a plate of hot fried green tomatoes to munch on while I looked over the menu.

“You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto…”

 f

whistle-stop-cafe-menu-frontwhistle-stop-cafe-menu-back

sToo many things called to me; I was so hungry I couldn’t think clearly.   Oh, what a lie!

I just wanted what I wanted: fried okra, macaroni and cheese, collards & cornbread.  And, that is exactly what I got.

*The macaroni and cheese was so good I could have made a meal on it and the cornbread alone!

When Leslie returned to refill my tea glass and ask if I wanted dessert, I was ready!  As usual, I felt the need to explain that I want to sample, and no, please do not bring me smaller portions!   That’s what a carry-home box is for! 🙂

and the winner is...  I followed my heart and ordered the peach cobbler.

d   Then I ordered the pecan cobbler & the apple dumpling.

“Are you trying all of these?” She asked, trying not to smile.  When I nodded yes, she simply grinned and said, “Yes, ma’am.  I’ll warm them all up!”

I tried the peach cobbler first. It was perfectly creamy with                                        dumpling-like breading in some spots and flaky crust in others!

I set aside my spoon, saving it for last and tried the pecan cobbler.  It had the same flavor as a pecan pie but less of the custardy filling.  Like the peach, it was also heavenly and so sweet it made my teeth hurt!  I decided to box it for later.  I took one bite of the apple cobbler and boxed it as well.  It was good, but I was filling up fast.

The peach cobbler and the dense lightly vanilla flavored ice cream was all I wanted.  If a group of bikers had not come in and filled the cafe and the table next to mine, I’d have ran my finger through the bowl to get the rest of it!  But, I’d already garnered enough raised brows and smirks for one day.

***

bank

After lunch I decided to walk around, see the sites and browse the antique and novelty shops.

       Before the filming of Fried Green Tomatoes began, many of the buildings in Juliette were run-down and overgrown with ivy and vines.  Needless to say, Hollywood gussied it up.  If you pay attention, at the end of the film when Ninny returns to her home and finds it is not the quaint little town she remembers, you will see Juliette as it was before the clean-up and filming began.  Today, the little town remains as it did during filming -quite picturesque and very Southern.

cc

Directly across the street from the restaurant is Vern Cora’s Antiques.

bz

I loved the interior of this store as it was so bright and colorful.  I also found too many things I wanted~

My daughter, Anderson, would love Purple Hayes which is next door!  The shop was opened by Delores Hayes after her husband passed away.  She came up with the name by combining his favorite color and their last name.

p

wp

As I walked from store to store, I stopped and spoke with the owners.  It’s amazing how personable everyone was, how willing and eager they were to talk about their little town.  I met Shelley George and Jennifer Yozviak at Ruth & Idgie’s Gift Shop, where they happily showed off the back room as it is featured in one of the scenes in the film.  Gives me an excuse to watch it yet again and look for matching wallpaper!

poAt  The Blackberry Patch I found a turquoise colored mixer I should have purchased, but told myself I didn’t need!aa

And, all about are the quirky props from the film!   Like Smokey Lonesome’s cabin, and the gravestone of Frank Bennett. The town of Juliette really is a lot of fun!

bbdd

The old buildings are the prettiest.

o

The last store I stopped in was Tommy Moon’s store, The Honey Comb.  What can I say, I just have a thing for honey…

Before I left Juliette, I drove out to get a pic or two of the dam.

nn

nnu

dam

little houseAnd fell hard for a little white house!

Every once in a while it’s nice to just get out of town!  By the time I made it back to Oxford, Alabama the race was over and Nascar fans were again filing onto I-20.  Talk about perfect timing~

***

LINKS –

The Irondale Cafe:  http://www.irondalecafe.com

The Whistle Stop Cafe, Juliette:  http://www.thewhistlestopcafe.com

 

If you enjoy fall festivals you should head to Juliette this weekend for the Fried Green Tomato Festival!  You’ve just missed the Whistle Stop Festival in Irondale, AL.

The grandbaby and I highly recommend it! 

 me and bug

Me & Elizabeth Rileigh enjoying the annual Whistle Stop Festival!

*****

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

Bar-B-Que… Need I say more?!

ext use

 

I’ve a tendency to slip away as often as possible when food is involved. 

And, Bar-B-Que calls to me like no other!   Steve N’ Jan’s BBQ is one of those little out-of-the-way places that folks don’t necessarily know about -unless you are a local, that is.  It sits out in the country, on roads I don’t even know the name of but drive daily to and from work -just so I can see the lolling hills of Alabama farmland, old barns and recently baled hay.

I pulled in and parked; opening the car door I was immediately engulfed by the smell of smoked meats!

Daily, I join 400+ students for lunch in our school cafeteria.  My schedule doesn’t allow me to get out and about and until this weekend, I’d not had the opportunity to slip away.  When I arrived, Shelly (Steve and Jan’s daughter) greeted me with a huge grin and was more than happy to recommend everything on the menu!  Steve was busy behind the counter chopping meats while Jan flitted about, being gracious and refilling everyone’s sweet tea.  Last summer, Steve N Jan’s BBQ won The Taste of Lincoln.  I’ve been ready to dig in ever since!

3 4

Shelly stood and chatted with me while I looked over the menu.  When I told her I was having a difficult time choosing she smiled and suggested, “Why don’t you go grab yourself a milkshake and come back at 4:00 when we put out the buffet.  That way you can sample everything!”  I raised a skeptical brow and asked if she was kidding.  “I’ve never heard of a BBQ buffet!  But, I’m too hungry to wait and I’m ordering a lot…” I warned, returning her smile.

I told her I wanted to start with the BBQ Nachos.  She grinned, and headed off in the direction of the kitchen.  “I’ve got something I want you to try,” she said over her shoulder.  “We make the most amazing potato salad -but it doesn’t have any of the regular potato salad ingredients,” she explained.  “Dad also makes a Loaded Baked Potato that starts with this as the base.  He warms it then stacks it with mounds of cheese and BBQ.”  She slid a plate of warm, pork rinds across the table too, telling me that they make these as well.

8My mouth was watering for the BBQ, but after one bite of the creamy red potatoes, I only wanted more.  I’d say there will probably be a time in the near future that I’ll show up for just these, but it would be a lie.

The nachos are amazing as well! 1

As are the ribs…         9 And the onion rings…6

But the best -or at least the best thing I had this weekend- was the 5″ Pork BBQ Sandwich, pilled high with extra meet and loaded with pickles! 57I CAN HEAR WHAT YOU ARE THINKING 😉  Yes, much- MUCH of it went home in a to-go box, or two!

I’ve every intention of returning this coming Saturday for the buffet.  The granddaughter, Elizabeth Rileigh, is a BBQ baby & is always ready to go out to eat!         Love Brisket? They have that too 😉baby girl at el agave

Before heading out, I got to talk for a few minutes with Steve.    He gladly discussed his love of cooking and smoking meats, explaining too how he refused to postpone his dream until after retirement.  The restaurant has been open for four years.  Following retirement this coming year, he will begin opening some during the week.

Hours of operation for Steve N Jan’s BBQ are: Friday and Saturday from 11- 8 p.m.  *Buffet is ready at 4:00.  They open on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for special occasions. Catering for important events is also available. *They are NOT difficult to find and instead of giving you typical Southern directions (i.e. take the road in front of the schools, go past the big house, the old farm with the beautiful pasture and hang a right at the church…) I’ll just give you the address.  You are Welcome!

                         BTW, If you didn’t read this in your softest, Southern drawl                              you must read it all over again -correctly!

Steve N Jan’s Bar-B-Que, 13849 Jackson Trace Road Lincoln, AL 35906 Phone: 205 763-7712  They are also on Facebook!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Jans-BBQ/133141530061622

You can join me there as well!

*****

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

 

hOneY, you know I have a thing for you!

photo of bees and flowers to use                Why else would I leave 130 wild, eleven/twelve year old students and head for the hills of Eastaboga, Alabama?

That’s not exactly true.  I am drawn to the countryside like a bee to…  😉   The entire day, I thought of little else.  My father, the herbalist in the family has long lauded its praise.  He insists that local honey is best for all that ails you.

Even if it wasn’t healthy, what’s not to love?!

I met up with Justin Hill of Eastaboga Bee Company this afternoon after having missed him at Oxford’s fall festival & then again at the Anniston Farmer’s Market.  I first learned of his business on Twitter and was shocked to find there was a bee company so close to home.  When I called, a young man with the most beautiful Southern drawl answered the phone and graciously offered to show me his farm.

“If you get here early, I’ll let you help me feed the cows,” he promised.

road pastureland

I turned off Mudd Street and traveled down a long dirt road, wondering if perhaps I was in the wrong place.  I parked out front, knocked at the door and paused before going back to wait at the car.  Brilliant Alabama sun shone down.  Even in October it can be stifling here in the South.  Surrounding fields, acre upon acre of pastureland, rolled like waves, steadily climbing and steepening behind the home place.  In the distance, I could just make out a white super; the air around it shimmered with movement.  I stood and filled my eyes –Alabama is such a beautiful place!  The tension created from being indoors all day began to slip away.

 pic field 2

I’d just begun to wonder if I’d been forgotten when I heard the far off sound of a motor.  Puffs of smoke rose across the pasture.  It was Justin driving a Polaris 570 Ranger.  He pulled up, drawled, “Climb in” and gladly, I did as I was told.  We quickly introduced ourselves, exchanged pleasantries, then rode, talked of bees … and fed the cows!  I shared my spot with Jake, Justin’s dog. (He reminded me so much of my childhood bird dog, Lemon, that I wanted to take him home!) Jake looked at him, obviously puzzled by the change in their daily feeding schedule.  Justin, a 4th generation farmer, works his family’s 300 acre cattle farm.

honeybees_post_cards-r016dfcd52a904a58927e034574095d33_vgbaq_8byvr_512

 

 

 

 

Justin pulled over to show me a hardwood where he had captured a swarm the previous season.  I told Justin that before meeting, I searched the internet for current information on honeybees, apiary regulations and current statistics on Colony Collapse Disorder.  I had no idea that every hive had to be registered, or that beekeepers were required to submit a map marking all of their hives.  Justin patiently explained the ins and outs of his business and corrected several misconceptions I had about beekeeping.


use white boxes
pulling the framebee super

He pulled us closer to a nearby group of supers.  The bees carried on with their work, unfazed by the sound of the engine.  He explained that the black bees I helped rob in my younger years were not English bees, but rather Italian bees.  These were obviously much calmer.  I asked about the various colors of honey and he described being able to taste the difference in them based on the bees’ food source or when the honey was robbed from the hive.  We discussed at length the necessity of feeding new or struggling hives.  I discovered he currently tends over eighty supers!  In 2013 and 2014, Justin was chosen for the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Bee & Honey Division at the Young Farmers Leadership Conference.

justin photo

 

Before leaving, Justin invited me in to sample his new Honey Mustard and loaded me up with a handful of products available from the company’s website: Honey Hand Sanitizer, emollient hand & body lotions containing beeswax and shea butter, soaps, a honey infused lip balm and a leather conditioner comprised of both lanolin and beeswax.IMG_7881-Body_Butter-Eastaboga-1024x680

IMG_7903-Eastaboga_Lip_Balm-1024x680honey

In the coming season, the company is also scheduled to come out with a Honey Vinegar Sauce/Marinade… and Mead!  Justin’s degree in marketing from JSU is obviously coming in handy.  However, his ingenuity and a hard work ethic are just something he was born with!

If, like me, you are into honey and all its health benefits you must visit Eastaboga Bee Company’s website and check out the honey & the products: http://www.eastabogabeecompany.com

You can also find Justin on Twitter @EastabogaBeeCompany

Now, about that GREAT LOGO. The following excerpt is taken from Justin’s website.  He said he didn’t mind me sharing it at all!

bee

“The Tree & The Tractor”

How Heritage Became The Symbol Of Unwavering Quality….

What does an antique Oliver Tractor, with a tree growing through the middle of it, have in common with a bee company?

Justin Hill, Founder of the Eastaboga Bee Company, says it’s the opening chapter to the story of his family history.

“The love of farming in my family comes from generations back,” says Hill. “That Oliver Tractor with the tree growing out of it is the foremost symbol of my Great Grandfather, Elvin Hill. It marks the beginning of my family’s history of farming in Alabama.”

As the story goes, Elvin Hill farmed the lands across East Central Alabama in the late 1800s. After a long hard day of working the fields, Elvin parked his Oliver Tractor and returned home for dinner.  Before the meal could be served, Elvin Hill suffered a fatal heart attack.

The grieving Hill family left that Oliver Tractor in the spot where Elvin had parked it. It served as a monument of sorts, which represents the last life act of a great man and the leader of the Hill family.  As the months past, a small tree began to sprout from underneath. Through the years, the tree continued to grow, committing the Oliver Tractor to the very ground it was parked on.

 blue bees

Notes:

While colony loss has been noted and investigated for decades, the rise in numbers during 2006, 2007 (some beekeepers reported a loss of up to 80% of their colonies) created great concern for both apiculturists and agriculturalists.  It was then that the term Colony Collapse Disorder was coined.

Due to the large drop in U.S. hives from mites, disease, harsh weather, insecticides, etc. many farmers now “rent” honeybees for pollination. Thus, migratory beekeeping has become crucial to U.S. agriculture.  Many beekeepers earn more money from renting bees for pollination than for the production of honey.  The business is both necessary and lucrative. However, researchers are currently investigating migratory beekeeping’s effect on spreading viruses and mites.

*****

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

Wanderlust ~a strong desire or impulse to wander, travel, explore the world…

“Not all those who wander are lost.” 
J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

I am equally envious and excited when I hear people taking off on adventures I have also yearned for.  Example -for years I’ve longed to hike the Appalachian Trail.  The AT runs from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine; is roughly 2,200 miles long and passes through 14 states.

I have watched every documentary I can find on the subject, and each time I sit for hours afterward trying to plot out the HOW.  And, how is a huge thing!  It takes 6 months to hike the trail from end to end.  Six months –time away from family, jobs and paying the bills each month.  It also costs about 4 thousand dollars to finance the hike.  Finding a solution doesn’t seem possible.  Perhaps it is something we will postpone until retirement –like icing on the cake!

The fever hit again this morning when I came across an article on Yahoo Travel.  It is a great piece written by Julie Fast about the tragic loss of a friend and her quest along the Appalachian Trail.  The Amazing People I Met While Hiking the Appalachian Trail Changed My Life. Julie Fast‎. Oct‎ ‎06‎, ‎2014

julie-fast mountain

Finding peace in nature helped me to heal. (Photo: Julie Fast)

 

However, as much as I long to hike the AT, my favorite film/documentary about just getting out and experiencing the world remains 180° SOUTH!

film-box

THE TRAILER http://www.180south.com/trailer.html

The film documents Jeff Johnson’s 2007 adventurous trek from California to Patagonia, a trip based on the earlier expedition of environmentalist Yvon Chouinard and his friend Doug Tomkins (founder of The North Face), taken in 1968.  Johnson’s expedition is meshed with footage from the first one.  A third component of the film is the inclusion of existing environmental issues discussed by Chouinard and Tomkins (almost 70 now) who continue to live their dream and relish a personal relationship with nature.  Doug and his wife Kris own and live on a 2.2 million acre reserve in both Chile and Argentina where they concentrate on a “defense of nature”. http://www.conservacionpatagonica.org

The film is indescribably good.  Appealing to both my love of the ocean and the mountains, it makes my heart yearn.  When I’ve had a really bad day I listen to the soundtrack in my car.  I’ve watched the documentary so many times that the association the music provides makes me happy within minutes.  In my mind’s eye, I can see Rapa Nui!

I know exactly what I’m watching when I get home tonight –right after I make a huge cold cut sandwich~

*****

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

FOR THE LOVE OF FALL…

Each year, I eagerly fill my calendar with dates of fall festivals.  My favorite has quickly become Oxfordfest in Oxford, Alabama –our new hometown.  Oxford lies along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Mt. Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama.   Although Oxford continues to expand and branch out, the autumn celebration is always held in the old downtown area I love.  Here places are set up for dozens of craft vendors, folks working grills and ladies tending tables filled with homemade sweets, or preserves.  The smell of kielbasa with sautéed onions, homemade corn dogs, funnel cakes, and coffee floats in the fall air. 
 brick housedowntown pic oxfordf
big barn varietystore
Not only is the festival a feast for the nose and stomach –it is a feast for the eyes.  How can you not feel happy, walking around with a crisp breeze dimpling your skin, the air rich with the smells of food cooking, vibrant color everywhere? 
 
truck yellow
 plane
purse
Of all the rich craftwork found, my favorites are easily tooled leather and wood.  Everett Martin’s hand-turned wooden bowls and Peggy’s carved/etched & painted gourds are an example of true craftsmanship.  Their shop, Gourds and More, is located in Ohatchee, Alabama.  (If you missed them at Oxfordfest they will be at the Little River Canyon festival the first Saturday in November.)
me with bowls all
beautiful cake plate
bowl inside ox fest
bowl bottom od fest
 How unfortunate I vowed not to purchase anything for myself.
 
 
All about are the sounds of happiness –children and families laughing and talking, a gospel band sings in the distance.  Community.  It just feels right.  Representatives from neighboring churches are present.  Politicians are too –both handing out pamphlets and business cards. 
boy and dog oxfrordfest
Oxford Police Department is also here, busy working with droves of moms and dads who are anxious to take advantage of the Child ID kits.  It is amazing how active the department is in Oxford.  It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy living here -doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you are out and about you notice that they are out and about as well.  Returning from Publix one afternoon and caught a glimpse of our Chief, Bill Partridge out helping a motorist change a flat.  I sang his praises all the way home.  If I’d had a camera, I’d have posted the pic on Twitter or Facebook to brag!  The man exemplifies hard work and dedication!
bill and luther strange
Chief Bill Partridge with Attorney General Luther Strange 
 ************
My morning ended with a search for Eastaboga Bee Company’s table.  I’ve been wanting to purchase a couple of jars of local honey and only recently learned about Justin Hill’s booming business.  With over 80 hives, they not only produce a ton of honey, they also have select beeswax products.  One of the beers at Cheaha Brewing Company is made using his honey.  Unfortunately, it was not available when we visited this weekend.  Although I missed him at the fall festival, I’ll be catching up with Justin later this week. 
 
bee  honey
 *A huge ‘thank you’ to my son, Jonathan Isaac Parks, for the amazing photographs!

*****

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

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

When the weather changes, the closet gets changed out and the plate offered at the table follows suit.  It is time for fall foods, folks!  While I am sure some eat biscuits year round, for me they are a cool weather food; as summer is reserved for fresh fruits that are readily available at our local farmer’s market.  Admittedly, I’ve not always been a fruit lover.  (Laughing, because I can hear the actor in Tombstone drawling, “You, music lover”. It’s funny only if you know the film and once you hear it, you can’t UN-hear it.) But, I digress.

It’s fall and it’s time for cool weather foods.  And for me, warm, just-baked breads are at the top of the list!  Of course, the memoir We Share the Same Sky is filled with reflections of growing up in the South, foods my grandmother’s and mother made, breads they baked and the hours we shared around the family table.  So, I thought today I would share an excerpt, followed by a sweet potato biscuit recipe.  My cousin, Dana Lynn, has been at work perfecting our Grandmother Libby’s square dinner biscuits.  Perhaps she will allow me to share these as well in the near future.

 

From:  We Share the Same Sky (an excerpt from Chapter 2)

Simplicity -free of complexity, refinement or pretentiousness

     The importance of the making and sharing of bread is an amazing thing.   The       women in my family all make a variety of breads. But, of them all, my favorite continues to be the humble biscuit. My GrandMosie’s were the most divine!  She got up early every morning to make my Grandpa breakfast before he went to work. She would fill several with butter and granulated sugar, then slip them to me with a hot cup of coffee at three a.m. because she knew I preferred them hot. I’d eat, drink, crawl back beneath the weight of handmade quilts and fall right back into a deep sleep.  She also made sweet potato biscuits for me and Papa on days we went hunting.  We would eat our fill, then wrap those remaining in paper napkins and tuck them in our coat pockets.  They were thick, dense biscuits, so rich in flavor.

My Grandmother Libby also made incredible biscuits, though they were somewhat odd.  She kept her flour in a huge tin in the cupboard; when she readied to make biscuits she would pull out a stool, open the tin and make a well right there in the flour then work in the shortening and buttermilk.  The biscuit dough was removed, the lid fastened back onto the tin and put away. After rolling out the dough into a long rectangular shape, she placed it on a flat baking sheet and cut it into squares.  She was the only person I knew who made them this way. Always, they were served alongside her falling-off-the-bone, fried pork chops.

Baking bread is often the basis of tradition. And, many of these traditions are linked to religion. Unleavened bread is partaken when receiving the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper; Artos is a Greek celebration bread; elaborate wreath breads are indicative of many German celebrations and King Cake is a common Christmas tradition in countries commemorating the festival of Epiphany.  Southerners in Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana begin the merriment of Mardi Gras with a King Cake iced in carnival colors of purple, gold and green.  Whomever finds the token- be it bean or baby- baked within the cake, receives both a favor and responsibility.   A Christmas custom in Poland is the making and sharing of Oplatek.  This thin wafer has a holy picture pressed into it.  Family members make it together, then share it with close neighbors.  Each person breaks a wafer and as they eat it, forgives the other of any wrong doing or hurt that has occurred over the past year.

Today, wheat is the most widely cultivated crop on earth.  But, I believe that mass production has diminished our appreciation for it.  Surely, the women who grew, milled, and made their own breads viewed the final product very differently. They claimed a connection to the soil, and therefore to the land and to home.  The Russian immigrants who secretly brought over their more resilient grains understood this bond. How true it is, the quote by Aldo Leopold that “the oldest task in human history [is] to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”   In our effort to progress, we have not only severed our tie to the land, we have let go of traditions that connect us to our heritage.

***************************************************************

 

Unfortunately this is not my GrandMosie’s recipe. 

She never used one for breads or pies.

sweet-potato-biscuits

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato prebaked and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups sweet milk
  • 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into
    small pieces
  • 4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into
    small pieces

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F.

Peel the sweet potato and mash with a fork, then add the buttermilk and mix until smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and butter; use a fork to cut them into the dry ingredients. Add the sweet milk mixture and stir until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead very lightly, just until it holds together.

Roll out and pat the dough into a rectangle 6 by 12 inches. Use a biscuit cutter or old juice jar to cut out biscuits. Transfer to a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits have risen and the edges and bottoms are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes.


*Recipe was given to me by a dear friend years ago –thank you CW. *Photo via tiny banquet committee.

*****

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

 

The smallest change in schedule can be delightful~

4:50 a.m.

night-sky

Instead of my morning walk, I am up early to water the plants.  It is beyond dry and I’ve no intention of letting the trees and plants I’ve babied for six years go without a fight.

The stars are out and it is a brilliantly clear sky.  The wind has a chill to it and my heavy hunting jacket is necessary.  Its deep pockets give me a place to put my phone so I can keep up with the time; otherwise I’ll get into what I’m doing, begin to daydream and be out here all morning.  I have to be at work before the students begin to arrive at 7:20.

Sweet Alabama!  Today it is supposed to be in the low 80’s and that is a glorious thing.  The past few months have been unbearably hot.  Dead grass crunches beneath my work boots; it is an unpleasant sound.  Lowering my head, I put in a small request for a long, soaking rain.

There is something so calm and peaceful about being outside in the early morning when everyone else is still sleeping.  Well, actually many are not.

One day last week when I could not sleep, I got up at 2 a.m., started a pot of coffee and went for a long walk.  I was surprised at how many lights were on.  I could actually smell breakfast coming from the open windows of some.  But, the quiet, the black sky and brilliant stars with the wind gently blowing was both invigorating and calming.  I returned home, settled on the couch with coffee and books, and read and until it was time to ready for work.  It was as if I got an extra weekend morning on a weekday.  The simple change in my schedule, the positive way I had begun the morning carried over into the day.

Just One Little Change…

*****

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

 

Night Sky Photo: http://www.rarewallpapers.cm

A Waiting Time

Waiting.

Never is it an easy thing for me.  Yet some of the best things in life require a waiting time- Pecorino Romano, Brioche, wine, beer, Blanton’s…  Yet these are things to be looked forward to, and therefore the wait is different; anticipation tempers.

Currently, I am waiting for the heat to break, the weather to change.  I am waiting for a long, slow soaking rain that lasts all day and into the night.  I want to hear the constant roll of thunder and the soil so sodden that it is feels like mush beneath my feet.  You see, in the South we are on the verge of a possible drought; the ground in my back yard is so dry and cracked it resembles an ancient map.

When did I begin waiting for summer to end?  When I was a child that was definitely not the case.  I had mourned its nearing end and tried to stretch those last few days out as far and as long as I could.

I have friends who are waiting too -for other things.  And I wonder, is it really wise to spend our days this way?  What if yesterday was as good as it was going to get and we let it slip by while we were lost in want?  Goes back to what my mother used to say about working on something you can be proud of while fitting in a few things you enjoy, here and there.  “Makes the day worthwhile,” she would smile and say.  Being hopeful is essential of course, but taking action is as well.

Maybe that’s why my summer projects overlap –because I can’t stand the in-between time.  My moments of deep languid thought must come quickly, before I remember something else that needs immediate attention.  There is this irritating necessity to be active.  I tried meditating but I’m pretty sure it is not supposed to be a painful experience.  So, I tell myself that when I am busy, my mind gets the same sense of peace and I’ve something to show for it.

I am waiting, too, on a visit from Isaac that isn’t coming anytime soon.

Recently, I’ve found myself padding an empty nest.  Whenever I heard women speak of this in the past, I always shrugged and thought, Whatever! I am so busy, how could I complain over peace and quiet?  Let me tell you, the first few weeks are a miserable thing to experience.  I went through it to a degree when my daughter Anderson moved out at the young age of 17.  But, her brother, Isaac was here to buffer that gaping hole her leaving created.  He recently left for Troy University.  And here I am, a momma without any chicks to tend.

Reminding myself I now have time to write, I gather my journals and scraps of papers (I’ve a tendency to make notes on the back of envelopes and receipts) and put Madeleine Peyroux on the hi-fi.  The joy this brings works like a charm.  (There is background noise of ice tinkling in a highball glass, the smell of a glorious amber liquid.)  Memories join me and I begin rummaging through my old journals until I find the recollection there in writing.

I read it again.  It takes me back.  And, I smile.

Perhaps, there is nothing more detrimental, and yet necessary, to a woman’s heart than nostalgia.

Taken from a journal so many years ago:

 

     And So It Goes…

   Again

     the winds call out,

     tugging and tempting with their persuasion,

     to steal the beckoning sounds of a nearby farm-

     distressed cadence,

     of cows seeking some comfort, the drone of equipment where a

     worker labors his heart for home. The winds lift them,

     float them upward,

     where they sing pleasantly upon my ears.

     Place and rationale are easily forgotten;

     engulfed in the warm blushes of sun and wind,

     I stand languid in luxuries most pure

     as the mind drifts off with daydreams.

 

   Distant, sharpening booms ring out

     so suddenly close upon the ears,

     full of meaning and clarity-

     startling, and yet expected.

     Poor dove,

     how hopelessly he zigzags across open fields,

     pursuing sanction in oaks that

     alas, he will not reach.

     And so it goes

     that the young bond with the old,

     the heart becomes one with the land

     and the boy, through some strange passage,

     is likened to the man.

 

   With gaze seized upward,

     I eye the not quiet green of the oak.

     Harken the crackling dryness of leaves as a wind’s rustling therein

     makes known their age!

     They are ever slowly losing luster, yet refuse

     release –like the mother,

     observing childhood’s nearing end, stands fast

     and clutches to bosom what cannot remain.

     It is a time of between

     as nature, in her ancient copious melee,

     dances betwixt seasons, hesitant in relinquishing

     summer’s sweet hold,

     even as the glowing across the field grows dim.

 

   With emotions sewn

     tight –interwoven

     like virgin woolen thread

     unacquainted with fuller’s earth, unready

     for the cast of dye, unreceptive

     even for salty baptism in a lathered, timeless ocean-

     I stand and watch

     the fields receive their dusting from heaven.

     For there,

     out in the wide unbroken expanse of godly land,

     that is not the drifting of weary leaves

     seeking to rest their breadth upon warmed soil,

     but rather the drifting of gentle down.

Elizabeth Mozley McGrady.  Isaac’s First Dove Hunt, September 11, 2004

* Poem from WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir.

*****

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

Well hello, y’all!

Introductions?

I’ve never been much on introducing myself, and yes, that is strange for a Southerner. I blame in on my Yankee grandfather –a New Yorker. I’m teasing. Northerners are just as gracious as Southerners; they just don’t talk for hours to people standing in line beside them whom they have never laid eyes on before.

So here goes! The basics -I am a writer, teacher, mother, and grandmother. For me, family is everything. I love the South, the outdoors, big cities, old town squares, family get-togethers, cooking/eating and drinking. I’m a tomboyish type who has an affinity for lipstick and cowboy boots.

I carry a backpack with books in it wherever I go.

And, I’m an introvert.

So, why does an introvert want to blog…?

Until this last January, when We Share the Same Sky was published, my use of technology amounted to a sprinkling at best. I am just not a technology person -Until recently, I still owned a flip phone -alas, I was forced to upgrade. When I first got it, I referred to it as “the leash” and I left it in my car all day on the console. Now if I get out of the drive without it, I must return to the house and retrieve it at once. I’ve also recently become involved with an iPad. We are now inseparable as well. Slowly, I’ve become friendly with the hook! However, the use of technology to this point was still deeply one-sided. The publication of the memoir changed all that, albeit slowly. After setting up a Facebook page for the book, I began interacting with old friends on my personal account. I then created a Linkedin and Twitter account where I’ve met scores of folks who are constantly asking if I’ll start a blog. Who knew an independent excursion to New York City and the making of a memoir would be the things that pulled me from my shell?!

What types of posts are to be expected? Anything and everything –be it journaling, fishing, cooking, poetry, hiking, restaurants/breweries or family escapades.

Randomness is something I’ve truly perfected.

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