Thursday, May 31, 2012

Music in the Park

During the late spring and summer months, the Florence Parks and Recreation Department offers Music in the Park during lunch time on Wednesdays.  It is at beautiful Wilson Park in downtown Florence.

It is fun, it is free, and yesterday, it was cool under the shade trees.

The music is very good, but it would be worth going just to see all my friends there and chill out in such a beautiful place.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fresh from the Garden

Writer Barbara Kingsolver wrote this book about her family living off the land for a year.  It is amazing.  I read it over and over.

There is nothing like growing your own food.  You can control the variety you want and the amount of pesticides they receive.  Personally, I don't like to eat things from countries where farmers can use any pesticide they want, including those banned in the United States. 

There is nothing, nothing like picking a tomato right off the vine, sinking your teeth in the warm flesh while the juice runs down your chin...knowing you planted the seed, transplanted it, weeded it, watered it, and watched it grow. 

The best teaching is hands-on.  What better way could there be to teach a child about life?  Perhaps even some patience?  Or, the joy of watching seedlings emerge from the ground? Things like lettuce, radishes, or herbs can be grown in recycled drink containers on a windowsill.

Most libraries have this book, but you need a copy of your own as a reference.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Found Art

We were cruising the countryside near Springfield, Missouri, when this appeared on the side of the road.  I have long been an admirer of 'found art', so we turned the car around and went back to the nursery where this accumulation of scrap iron resides.

The nursery owners were very gracious and we spent a while there. They told us this fellow had been on the pages of several arts and gardening magazines.

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is okay if you don't think he's beautiful.  I do.
I have a pile of old iron pieces in the garage, saved for the day when inspiration strikes!

In addition to the artistic tour, we brought home some stevia and Cuban oregano.  It was a good day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Tribute to Roy Robertson

This post is a repeat of last year's Memorial Day blog.  Just wanted to honor my father-in-law's memory for his service to all of us and the difference he made in so many lives.

It was a different world.

The people living in North Alabama in the late thirties lived simply. Working without ceasing, they had little time or opportunity to keep up with world affairs. When they began hearing talk, sometimes weeks old, about fighting in Europe, about a crazed Nazi killing innocent people, they agreed it was awful, terrible, but it had little to do with them. When the news came that the Japanese had bombed the naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in the Pacific, a place as far removed as the moon to them, they wondered what they would hear next, wondered if this evil could reach their sleepy little river town.

Roy Robertson, 28 years old, was content with his life on the small farm. He and Mary Elizabeth Sharp were married in 1939, and he and his young wife were building their future, starting their journey together. He had just finished his spring planting when he was drafted in June 1942. He reported to Fort McClellan, Alabama, for his basic training.

A strong man who had hunted most of his life, Roy excelled in training, getting numerous badges and listed as a 'Pistol Expert'. Fort McClellan was less than 200 miles from his home, and while Roy was willing to do his part for his country, homesick and heartsick, he found a way to sneak home on occasion, staying until he was escorted back by military police. In October of 1943, he departed Fort McClellan for war-torn Europe. He said afterwards that once he was in Europe, he couldn't sneak back home, so all there was to do was 'soldier'. And what a soldier he became!

The following is part of an article published in a local paper in April, 1945.

Staff Sergeant Roy Robertson, the "one-man mortar squad" who won the Bronze Star medal for heroism in the Battle of the Bulge, is coming home to Waterloo, Alabama, for a 30-day furlough under the Army's rotation plan.

Qualifications for the coveted rotation furlough include length of foreign service, length of combat time, wounds and decorations. Except in the matter of wounds--he has come through a lot of flying scrap metal without a scratch--Sergeant Robertson was the best qualified man in his outfit, Company "M", 112th Infantry.

The Waterloo doughboy came overseas with the 28th "Keystone" Division in October, 1943, and landed in France shortly after D-Day. He was with the "M" Company mortars when they first were committed to action in the St. Lo breakthrough, and pumped hundreds of rounds into the Falaise pocket, where the 28th Division was part of the force which cut off the German Seventh Army.

Moving fast out of the Normandy hedgerows, Robertson and thousands of other Keystone soldiers staged their famed "tactical parade" through Paris on August 29, 1944. While the Parisians cheered in a delirium of joy over the capital's liberation, the doughboys were actually hounding the heels of the Germans as they hiked over the miles of cobbled streets. Next day, Robertson was again dropping mortar shells on the fleeing supermen.

He was on hand when the Yanks took Compiegne, where the first Armistice was signed, and in November he was "zeroing-in" on targets in the dank Hurtgen Forest, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of this war. After Schmidt, where the 28th Division stood off a reinforced Panzer division and two infantry divisions until forced back by sheer weight of numbers and metal, Robertson had a brief respite from battle. For a while the 28th occupied a portion of the "quiet" Belgian front and the men rested--until Von runstedt began his historic counter-offensive.

It was during the 112th Infantry's stand near St. Vith that the Waterloo heavy weapons expert distinguished himself. Operating a mortar alone while his buddies were pinned down by enemy fire, he dropped shells at dangerously closes range and captured a 'hornet's nest' for an estimated 150 Nazi casualties. (The lengthy article continues here with details of other battles.)
When he heard that he had been selected for furlough, Robertson had just completed a gruelling 12-hour march through enemy territory as the 28th Division played its role in the First Army smash across the Rhine. None of Sergeant Robertson's furlough time will be wasted in travel. The deluxe trip, with a stop-over in Paris, is thrown in extra. The 30 days won't start officially until he is almost home on his farm on Route 2, Waterloo.

Roy did make it home on that furlough, exhausted, bone-weary of battles and blood. After digging foxholes in frozen European soil, Roy was delighted to feel the warm, red Alabama soil beneath his feet. He just stayed home after the furlough officially ended. I suppose the military police just didn't have the heart to come and get a hero. They sent him an honorable discharge on October 9, 1945.

After he returned home and life settled around him, he was reluctant to talk about his metals or battles. To him, he just did his duty the best way he knew how.

He never left his farm or community again as long as he lived.

He and Mary raised two daughters and two sons. They had a granddaughter, followed by five grandsons. Illness came to Mary at an early age, and Roy buried his sweetheart in October 1976. He was never the same again.

In October 1979, Roy died suddenly of a massive brain hemorrhage. An American flag was presented to his 9 year-old grandson, our firstborn. The flag was new, the kind presented at military funerals, and it is treasured today. It is just like the flag that flew with the troops on the beaches of Normandy, in the snow in Korea, in the jungles of Viet Nam, and the deserts of Iraq. God bless that symbol of freedom, now and forever.

Thank you, Papaw, for your sacrifice and courage. Thank you for having the fortitude to do your job when fire and bullets were falling around you. Thank you for being an example of strength, strength that is now seen in your children and grandchildren. We remember you with joy.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Empty Nest, Again

After the first robin flew away, the other two settled down in the nest.  It seemed to just fit them comfortably after their sibling was gone.

I'm wondering if this one is looking at the tree where is mom is and wondering if he can make it.

It kept walking around on the edge of the nest.  I knew it was ready to go.  I was standing at the door watching when it spread its wings and made it to the tree.

This is the third one, just minutes after its sibling left.  He has got to be thinking that the world is bigger than the nest. When I turned to go inside after taking this photo, this little one flew away.

So now, I'm left with an empty nest.  Again.  Hub read that the mother and her mate would probably raise another family this year, but they seldom use the same nest.

I have been an observer of nature all my life.  This is the first time that I have been able to watch this miracle from the time the nest was built.  The beautiful blue eggs, the little naked babies, watching the mother feed worms into the open mouths, seeing the feathers grow so quickly--it has all been such a pleasure.  I'm grateful that mother robin picked the front porch as the site to build her nest.

Eclectic Blogger Awards

I had a nice surprise yesterday when I learned that my friend Patricia had given me an eclectic blogger award.  Thank you, StableGranny, for including me in such an amazing group of bloggers!

Now, I get to pass out some awards myself!  Here are the rules for the five people I nominated:

The rules:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 5 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 5 bloggers for the Eclectic Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 5 things about yourself
1.  Patricia's blog is one I always read.  We live in the same area and have a lot of common interests.  Sometimes, if I'm swamped at work or out of town, I don't get to read it everyday, but I always go back and 'catch up' when I have time.

2. I have never met Charlotte personally, but I look forward to her blogs like a letter from home!

3.  Amy and I have been friends a long time.  She writes about homeschooling and books. If she recommends a book, it goes on my list to read.  I love keeping up with her little ones!

4. Writing from a Blackberry Patch is another blog I always read.  Janet is a wonderful writer and loves birds, quilts, flowers, cooking--all the things that I love! I even won a great prize on her blog last year.  She inspires me to keep writing!

5.  This last one is so hard--I read lots of blogs and enjoy them all. On her blog, Patricia has a bible verse and an inspiring thought to start the day off everyday!  It really helps me, especially on days I don't want to leave the house.

Now, I get to tell Stablegranny five things about myself.  She's been reading my blog for a while, so she knows me pretty well already!

1. I love all places on the Earth, but I only feel at home in the mountains.

2. I'm so blessed--married almost 43 years, two good sons, two good daughters-in-love, and two beautiful granddaughters.

3.  I was into recycling before 'green' became popular. 

4. My views about life seem 'old-fashioned' to some.  Calling me old-fashioned is a high compliment.

5. I love music; real music, not volume.  Folk music and bluegrass are my favorites!

Enjoy this holiday weekend, kind friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gin Phillips' books

Writer Gin Phillips was at the Florence Lauderdale Public Library last night.  I loved her first book, The Well and the Mine, which was set in Carbon Hill, Alabama, just down the road from me.  Sorry for the quality of the photos; they are borrowed  from Amazon.

Gin's new book, Come in and Cover me, is a total departure from the depression-era coal-mining/farming book that her first one was.  I haven't finished it yet, but so far, it is just as good.

I love meeting writers and listening to just makes their books seem so personal.  Our library is the best; there is always something going on there!  We plan to be there on Sunday afternoon for a program about the Civil War.  Local peeps, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How my Garden Grows

Our garden is off to a great start compared to last year's garden.  The winter and spring were so mild, everything could be planted early.  We are still needing some rain, but we have gotten enough to make the garden grow.

Rattlesnake green beans.  Won't be long now.

Can you see the little cukes?  We will have some by Saturday.

It will be a while longer for these tomatoes to ripen, but they are looking good.  Last year, we didn't get tomatoes planted until about this time.

We have been eating this lettuce for about a month. Two people just can't eat that much lettuce!

If you see me looking green, it is because we have eaten broccoli everyday for a while. Every time we cut some, four or five more heads pop up in its place. It is wonderful baked in the oven with carrots and onions sprinkled with olive oil.

We have plenty of basil, dill, cilantro, and other herbs ready. 

I would garden even if there was no harvest, just for the joy of watching things grow.  Several years ago, I was being treated for severe depression, and my counselor told me to go outside and dig and breathe and let it go.  Worked for me!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaving the Nest

One of the baby robins has left the nest.

When I checked on them  for the first time this morning, there were only two birds in the nest.  Of course, I thought the worse-- the cat had eaten one or it had fallen from the nest and perished.  Then, underneath the nest, I saw the baby robin just sitting on the steps.
I had forgotten to bring my camera from the car last night, so I had to go out and get it.  When I opened the door, the little bird hopped off the steps and starting jumping around the yard.
I watched him/her for several minutes, taking little leaps, then he started getting too close to the road.  We live really close to an elementary school, and the traffic was heavy.  So I ran out to the road and steered him back in my large pink robe and bed hair.  He ran into the neighbors' yard so I felt it was my duty to take him back to ours.
When I bent down to pick him up, the mother and father robins darted from the tree where they had been watching their baby and starting yelling at me in bird talk.  I realized then that they had been taking care of their babies just fine without me and they didn't need any help.

The other two baby robins are sleeping in the nest.  I'm wondering if the parents teach them to leave the nest and fly one at a time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baby Robins

It was just a week ago that I showed you our newborn robins.  Look how much they have grown in a week!

The nest is so close to the front door, the mother robin usually flies away anytime the storm door opens or closes.  We were at the UNA storytelling festival on Saturday night until after ten.  When we drove into the yard, I saw the neighborhood cat sitting right under the nest, and I was scared that my little ones were gone.  That time, the mother bird did not leave the nest, even though the porch light came on and we were noisy getting in the front door.  The cat left hungry!
The three babies have grown so much in a week that their house is getting a little crowded.

I can observe them from inside the house.  If they aren't covered by their mother, they are wanting to eat.  I am amazed at how many worms the mother brings them. This has been a real learning experience for me, and I dread the day they leave the nest.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Celebrating Life

2012 Shoals area Relay for Life

So thankful that I am able to be a part of this great effort.  What a good time we had--seeing old friends, remembering those lost to cancer, and celebrating those who are survivors.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pickwick Belle

Yesterday, we went on a riverboat cruise up the river on Wilson Lake.
It was a perfect day for a cruise. . .warm enough that the breeze was greatly appreciated.
The cruise was part of the storytelling festival that is at the University of North Alabama this weekend.  Dr. Bill Foster and his wife, Anne, entertained us with music and stories.

Wilson Dam frames the Marriott and the 360 Grill.  I rarely get this view of it.

We weren't the only ones who thought it was a good day to be on Wilson Lake.

I could almost hear Tina Turner singing, "Big Wheels, keep on turnin"

What's not to love about cruising and having lunch with friends on a riverboat?  I'm looking forward to it again next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Roadside Gifts

One of the joys of traveling for me is seeing the different flora and fauna of the places we visit.  Here are some gifts from last week's trek across Missouri.

Every year, I plant Echinacea purpurea (coneflower) and every year it dies.  I'm thinking our clay soil is not where it wants to live.  So I improve the soil and keep planting.  Maybe they will make it this year.

What's not to love about a place that produces coneflowers seemingly without any effort?  They wave and smile to me from the side of the road.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lambert's Cafe

Have you eaten at Lambert's Cafe?  There are three of them: one in Sikeston, Missouri, another in Ozark, Missouri, and the third is in Foley, Alabama.

We have eaten at the Foley, Alabama, location many times.  It is close to Gulf Shores, and any trip to the beach includes a trip to Lambert's.

Last week, we ate at the Ozark, Missouri, location.  The food was good and it is so much fun!

Lambert's Cafe, celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, is known for their 'throwed rolls'.  Yes, they really do throw rolls at you. After you catch one, someone comes by and asks if you would like sorghum with it.  It might not sit well for Emily Post, but I'm fine with it.  And the rolls are fabulous!

We were there for lunch.  The prices are reasonable and the food is ample--we took enough back to the resort for supper.  I highly recommend that you try it if you are ever close enough to one of these locations.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Last week, Hub and I spent several days out of town.  The first thing I did when we got home was check the nest on our front porch.  The eggs looked just like they did when we left.  Next morning, it was a different story.

We have three beautiful, naked little birdies!

On a rainy Mother's Day, this mother robin spread her wings especially wide to keep her babies dry and warm.  Could there be a better example of motherhood?

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Luke 13:34