Saturday, August 30, 2008

Helen Keller's Birthplace, and more....

On a hot and sunny southern morning, we set out for a little bit of an adventure and headed to the northwestern corner of the state to a lookout tower and an aquarium, but upon arriving, we found that neither attraction was an option: the lookout tower was now a high-class fine dining establishment that opened at four in the afternoon, the aquarium had been replaced with a hotel and spa! So....Plan B needed to be figured out. So we grabbed some of that tourist literature you see in racks and looked at it while we visited a local barbeque joint in downtown Florence. Florence has the northern campus of the University of Alabama and is a pretty decent-sized town. I had never before had hot slaw and upon the recommendation of a local I ordered some at the little restaurant downtown and WOWEE!!!! It was HOT HOT HOT and it kept right on burning throughout the next hour. I had to check the mirror a time or two to make sure that my lips were still their normal size!

So after some looking, between bites of barbeque, we decided to head to Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia and on the way we stopped at a prehistoric indian mound...nothing much to see, just climb up and look at the ceremonial site there, read the plaque and you're done in twenty minutes. I had always wanted to see where Helen Keller was born, we've all read the book, I read it to Luke during our first or second grade in homeschool and we followed some directions and eventually found our way there. We had a wonderful tour guide, I mean how can you not enjoy listening to the beautiful lilt of a true southern lady's accent? She told us a lot about the items in the house, the history of Helen's family, (very interesting, the Keller's were direct descendants of John Quincy Adams!) and of course we saw the dining room where the famous hours-long conflict took place between the young teacher, Anne and Helen, the wild-animal child. We saw the well where Anne taught Helen the word W-A-T-E-R and the little cottage the family had Anne and Helen use for some intense teaching. I learned alot about Helen's adult life that I had never known before, and that some of her friends were famous people like Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, people like that! Wow! She had learned multiple languages and traveled to over 170 countries in her lifetime. Note to self: take time to read some of the many books Helen herself wrote! She wrote several that were published in multiple languages. I never realized that Helen and her two companions were buried in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and that she never lived back in Alabama once she went off to New England to school. She still has family in the Tuscumbia area.

Next we picked another destination and the boys were just hot on the trail of the COON DOG CEMETERY. Remember the movie "Sweet Home Alabama" and the scene in a coon dog cemetery? No joke, there really IS one. THIS is where the scene in that movie between Melanie and Jake took place. If you haven't watched SWEET HOME ALABAMA, you really need to! It's a hoot!
Holy moses, you wouldn't believe what a trip it was out there. I thought we were heading into the wilderness. We were and did, and we must have driven over 100 miles round trip to get out to this place listed on our map of "tourist attractions". The drive really was gorgeous, the scenery was beautiful: it reminded me of northern Michigan except for the mountains. Miles and miles and miles of almost nothing. The area is called FREEDOM HILLS. There were a lot of ranches there, as well as beautiful homes, too. Lots of pine and hardwood. If you didn't know, you should know that Alabama is one of the top states for lumbering.
BUT...I will ask you Michiganians, especially, to note in the pictures below that there was natural gas piped all the way up on top of that mountaintop, and that we can't even get it piped out to us on the outskirts of Flushing, just a mile from the nearest main or whatever you call it, and a mere four miles from the city of Flushing.
I think the boys in Alabama could teach the hicks from Michigan a thing or two about getting utilities out to the folks.....good grief. You should see where they run these lines, it cannot be easy and they have to fight the mountain roads, the rock, and the forest and the wild bears (well, maybe not really on that last part!) and they still get it in up there. The roads up on top of the mountain were nicer than any of the roads in my county! What do we pay all those high porperty and sales taxes and gas taxes for??? Oh, high union wages I do believe.

Once I stepped out of the car after the long trip up here, I could not stop laughing. No disrespect to the coon dogs, or their owners! I love mine, but it just struck me as funny to come way up on this mountain to see this....these people are serious about their hunting buddies.

Take note of the gas main the middle of NOTHINGNESS.Since we were within just a few miles of Mississippi and we had never been there, we took the time to drive over. There was nothing to see, but we stepped foot in the state, (literally, I did!) Luke grabbed some rocks to take home and then we turned around and headed back to Bama....where we bought a home-grown watermelon for our picnic on Saturday. The watermelon was homegrown and vine-ripened and one of the best we've had in YEARS.

Proof we were in Mississippi, there were no WELCOME TO MISSISSIPPI signs, this is the only thing I could find to get a picture of.
Back home to get some yummy steak sandwiches ready for supper after our long road trip....that's enough of the Suburban until we head back to Michigan on Sunday!


Am I dreaming? This was awesome to see so I thought you might like to drool over the gas prices here in the deep south!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hey, ya'll!!

Howdy from the land of barb-b-que, sweet tea, chiggers, and beautiful Appalachian foothills. The first day we were here, we went to see the house that Jamie and Thad are trying to buy. Hopefully they are able to get it and get to work! There will be a lot of work, as the home was repossessed and it hasn't been lived in or cared for since January. All the good stuff is there, however, so I'm sure that by this time next year, it will be a sharp home with a beautiful yard.

Yesterday, we drove across the state toward Mississippi to a natural geological wonder, a natural land bridge; and we took a hike around behind it and enjoyed nature for a few hours. It had rained and for a while, we felt like the only people on earth and that we may have been in a rain-forest, it was so muggy and wet. The trees out there were beautiful, very tall, and the landscape was gorgeous, seemingly untouched by time.

There's also a huge rock formation out there: an Indian head and it's a rock that turns out to look exactly like the side profile of an Indian warrior! On the way home, we stopped at the oldest surviving log jail in the state. All of the interior walls and ceilings were wooden, and each inch of the logs were full of old square-head blacksmith nails, driven in to stop those incarcerated here from trying to cut their way out. The walls were extremely thick, the bars on the windows were close enough that you could barely fit two fingers through. After that, we stopped in to a local barbeque restaurant and had some yummy barbeque with WHITE SAUCE! That stuff is good and before we leave, I think I'll buy some to take home for the next time I make it there. I felt like Paula Deen! All I could say is Mmmmm-mmmm-mmmm!! That is SO GOOD!!!!!! The slaw was to die for!

More updates as the week goes on. Hope all is well with you and your family!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Year Ago This Week

Jamie and Thad, a year ago this week, up on the lookout above the Straits of Mackinac. It was very windy that day but man, what a view!

A year ago this week, Jamie and Thad came up and we went a lot of places and did a lot of things....Michigan things. And I recall that it was unseasonably COLD and it rained almost every day and stormed quite a bit. But even so, it was really good to have them home and hang out with them for the week. I hope it can become a family tradition. Above is a picture in the rain, the cold rain at Tahquemenon Falls. After our hike out there, Jamie took an hour in the gift shop to find something to take home for souvenirs.

We did the "U.P." thing and toured the Soo Locks, if you've never done it, you really should, it's interesting and well worth the money and time. Kids especially love it and even big kids like Thad who loves anything that has an engine.... Thad especially liked the Soo Locks museum that's in an old iron ore carrier. We spent a lot of time there when we got done with the boat tour.
This picture was taken by Jamie, actually almost all of these pictures were. She is an awesome photographer. This one was out by the Whitefish Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior on Whitefish Point . It was a jacket day most of the time they were here. It was probably a nice break from the hot and humid days in August that is typical for Alabama, where they live.

Here's Thad, he loved the Big Lake and watching the iron ore carriers. Thad looks as if he could be a salty sea captain, doesn't he? A friendly, but salty sea captain!

Here's a beautiful sunset. Jamie loved looking at and picking out all kinds of rocks to take home. Some things never change, she has always LOVED all kinds of rocks, even as a kid. She would walk looking down all the time! I would have to secretly throw out some of the ones that were just plain old gravel she'd load her pockets with. Sometimes, she would even feel sorry for the rocks from ASPHALT and drag them home! Other times, she'd find some real keepers, her and her dad had quite a collection of uniquely shaped rocks that were in the shape of bears, feet, hearts. She filled her cowboy boots here at Whitefish Point, to take some of Michigan back home with her! Before she left, we coated them all with clear acrylic so they'd still look wet. Some of the pictures she took she had enlarged and framed to decorate her dining room with. They turned out very well.

We stayed until dusk to see the lighthouse lights come on. Also that day, on the shore here were several homemade memorials to some of the crew members of the shipwreck, Edmund Fitzgerald. It was touching and also chilling, and made us realize that even though the lake looked so calm and harmless on this particular day, it's a deadly place to be when a storm comes up. Guys that work the lakes on iron ore carriers deserve their spot on the Discovery Channel like the fishermen and the ice road truckers!

That's what we were doing a year ago this week, and now, we leave in just a few days now, this year to go to Jamie and Thad's this week! Wonder what adventures we'll have there?

Monday, August 18, 2008 its best!

Way back when....when 8-track tapes were the new "in" thing, we were more than happy to chuck our "albums" or "records" to the side. Then we were treated to even better technology and that was cassette tapes! WOW! Next to an 8-track, a cassette looked miniature. Next came the CD, and the quality alone made us all run for the stores to get a player and we could jog with one running and the earphones plugged in! It didn't get any better than that! After that, MP3's and IPODS and believe me, I love mine! But, sometimes it just feels so good to file through the old record albums in their awesome covers and then slow down and listen to a crackly old record album.

Jamie made that even more possible this last Christmas when she gave her daddy a "record player" that is beautiful just to look at, but it also plays CD's and has a radio, a place to plug in MP3"s. But my favorite thing to do is to take out one of my first albums and give it a listen while I am reading or maybe soaking in the tub. It's funny what hearing those songs on a crackling needle will bring back to one's memory! Where I was when I listened to a particular song over and over, the first concert, and more!

If you've saved your old albums, you've saved a treasure. Ask for a "record player" for Christmas! Saving old stuff is a problem I have, I'll admit it, but in cases such as this, I'm glad I am somewhat of a packrat!

Recently when we bought the Mustang, it had an old aftermarket cassette player in it. Guess what I found in the attic a couple weeks ago? Alas, a basketful of cassette tapes, that, when played in the Mustang, really sound PERFECT! So what if the sound isn't clear and there's no bass, they sound like they SHOULD! I'm lovin' it!

Country Boys....who can resist one?

Now, I hope you're not getting tired of the tons of pictures I took at the county fair, I just can't help myself, I take them every year, and each year I argue with myself on the way out the door. "Leave the camera home, enjoy it all without looking through a lens, will you, just for once?"

But then, I get there and I am always glad that I fought off whoever it was whispering in my ear to leave the camera home. And I simply can't resist a kid who loves his animals, and even better: to climb in the pen and lay your head on the back of your new calf....this kid will turn out alright, I reckon...don't you? Country Kids are the best!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stinky Pete....I love you!

Every now and then I like to do good deeds. I do! Really, and to prove it I am going to tell you a story about a cranky old Prospector Disney created named Stinky Pete.

I rescued Stinky Pete from the side of the road....he was sitting in a driveway real close to the road one very, very hot and humid summer day. Two moms, sisters, were "helping" their sons have a toy sale. I took pity on them and felt sorry that of all the beautiful weather days we'd had this summer, these two had chosen the hottest, stickiest, most horrid day to sit out near the asphalt road selling the toys their offspring had agreed to part with.

There was a lot of Disney stuff there and among other things, I spotted him! I picked Stinky up for mere cents, and he got washed and put in the inventory of eBay stuff I have in the garage.

One day I finally got around to looking his kind up on eBay and LO! Stinky was a valuable find! I called Luke in to look because I could not believe my eyes....Stinky had been bid up to $25! So, I hurried outside to take a natural light picture of MY Stinky, hoping to make him look more handsome and even more valuable than the $25 Stinky.

It must be my gift....? and if I do say so myself his portrait turned out to look quite handsome! I listed Stinky hoping for at least $25. I started him out at $2.99 and someone bid on him almost immediately. This is a good sign, people, if you want to know. A very good sign. And the bids continued.

Well, two days ago, the auction had ended, quite happily for me. And I sent Stinky to live with his new owner in Canada, and said new owner was willing to part with $35 plus around $4 in shipping to import this bad dude into his country and his home. I don't get it. But I like it. Really well.

I do love Stinky Petes and if you happen to have any of these odd looking, mean old prospectors from TOY STORY 2 laying around your house that need a good home, I will bring him here, love him, launder him, and pose him for a portrait and put him up for AUCTION! No telling where yours may end up living!

Something went wrong in the barn....

"Hey, Maybelle....did you see that one over there? Have you ever seen such a mess?"

This must have been a baaa-aa-ad day at the beauty shop for this sheep....(sorry, I just cannot resist a pun!) Plus, I thought you might smile when you saw this picture and I'm all about making you people smile!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Come on over....

One of the best things about our house is the front porch. It's what I liked when we first drove up so many years ago, and I still like it! It's one of the best places to sit with a friend, have a glass of lemonade and talk for awhile. It's especially pleasant when there's a quiet, gentle breeze, and you can hear the birds singing in the big shaggy maple that towers over the house.

Next to sitting out there with a friend, one of my favorite times to sit on the porch and rock is after dusk on a pleasant summer evening. Ahhh....all your cares just seem to melt away in the moonlight.

So, come on over, let's rock and talk!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An afternoon at the Lake....

It just can't be summer in Michigan without going to the lake and getting dirty lake sand between your toes at least's my niece and Luke playing in Perry Lake, the same one grandpa used to take us to as kids from our family reunion....he'd load the back of his Ford pickup with grandkids and off we'd go just a few miles from grandpa's house down a fabulously bumpy road (especially fun to bounce around in the back of the pickup!) to the lake for a bit of a swim....brought back some memories and I hope it made some new ones for Katie and Luke!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My niece...

I went north to take some pictures of my niece, the one who I watched come into the world, the one whose cord I cut when the doctor handed me the scissors. How can it be that she graduates already!? She is going to be a senior in September and this weekend we got started taking some senior pictures. We had wonderful scenery to work with, and the flowers are at their peak!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


She's nutty and crazy and I love her, and miss her every day. She's my girl. I can't say much more, because she doesn't like it when I get sentimental, so I will stop right there. Hi Jamie! Mom loves you! You little nutcase! Always and forever....

Word to yo motha: Elephant Ears!

Should I be embarrassed to say that I get all giddy when I see this particular food car at the fair? Well, I do, even though I am considered to be a rather (ahem!) mature adult. I will admit that I get more than giddy. First I smell it, actually tipping my nose to the wind when I exit the vehicle in the parking lot and taking a big SNIFF. AHhh!
Oh, yes, there it is! and the olfactory nerves go a little bit nuts, all that cinammon-greasy-fried-goodness gets to me. Sometimes, the anticipation makes it all the better. So I made myself wait until we were on the way OUT of the fair, heading to the car to get my hands on one.
And, boy, did I! It was ugly, mamas, it was real ugly.
And if you're wondering what that first picture is there, it's a pig's ear....really! I peeled it off one corner of my elephant ears. Don't want to think about how it is I ended up with an elephant ear with a strange and irregular appendage!
I think the pig's ear was a warning to me....oink! Don't eat too much! Heh, heh, heh!