A contest to use tornado-felled timber for good. Register today.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a podcast with two sailors who love what they do and do just what they love.
Michael catches beautiful food.
Unidentified lady and three sailors enjoy Key West.
Sail Hard, Die Old (mp4)
You can touch base with Kevin Gray on his Facebook Page, Pray4Wind.
Wright's Restaurant, a Coryell favorite.
As Alberta City continues its struggle to rebuild and recover from the 2011 tornadoes, we find one local legend holding strong amid the rubble. Wright's Restaurant continues its tradition of low-cost, Southern soul food for breakfast and lunch. $5 will buy a plate with one meat and three veggies accompanied by corn bread or roll. The menu changes daily to make way for the most savory plates.
Wright's is located at 927 26th Ave E in Tuscaloosa, AL 35404. Give them a call to see what's on the daily menu at (205) 553-0694. You can order take-out, though the diner environment is very family-friendly.
We had planned to go floating with Carla on Saturday, but nothing went according to plan. So when Patrick finished mowing the lawn yesterday and I noticed that paddle-hungry glint in his eye, we threw the lifejackets into the spaceship and set out for Waston's Bend.
But Vanilla refused to get out of the van, so we called Gary and told him that Vanilla decided he wanted some father-son time paddling the creek today. Poor Ratpaw was planning to sit, relax, and make an egg salad. Instead, he climbed into the van to accompany us on our adventure.
We got out at Watson's Bend and loaded up two canoes for a paddle down to Roman Nose swimming hole. The entire crew got out to wade, waddle, dip, swim, and splash in the stream.
Max cleans out his shoes while Vanilla and Ratpaw get a sense of the stream.
The deeper segment of Roman Nose makes a perfect swimming hole complete with jumping rocks from which Patrick did not hesitate to cannonball.
An inventory of what we found or saw on our brief paddle and romp:
Hundreds of tiny black tadpoles scurrying across the pebbles in the shallow water
Human critters swimming and sauntering
More sediment on the creek bottom than last weekend plus small human critters throwing stones
A handsome frog surveying the rocks near the Roman Nose swimming hole
A daddy and daughter in the deep portion of the swimming hole while white-skinned folks of all shapes and sizes considered the scenario from the banks.
One very large fish that looked about a foot long (Patrick thought it was a trout) but whisked by too quickly for me to drop a paddle and take a photo.
Dozens of minnows with yellow and black stripes around the lower trunk which consistently led to cries of "Fish, fish!" and "Fosh, fosh!" from the little ones, depending on which little one was doing the exclaiming.
If you haven't signed the petition asking our legislators to reconsider running the Eastern Bypass through our local paddleworthy creek, please do so now. Since it is a federal project, federal tax dollars will be applied, which means that all Americans are involved in funding this fossil project which will destroy our creek.
Patrick and I put Francis in the spaceship and drove to Hurricane Creek yesterday to take Francis on her maiden voyage. Now, Patrick and I have been known to disagree on important matters like trails and canoe routes, and we certainly kicked up some dirt yesterday.
Patrick preferred to put in at Hurricane Creek Park off Highway 216 and paddle downstream to Watson's Bend Campground. I had a different plan- hatched out of curiosity to explore the parts of the creek downstream from Watson's Bend ,since most paddlers don't describe taking that route since the 2011 tornado.
A swimming hole at Watson's Bend.
Eventually, the less-wise-but-more-interesting plan (mine) was agreed upon (mostly) and we put Francis in the creek at Watson's Bend Campground with an eye towards the Black Warrior.
John Wathen explained that we would encounter tornado debris and other impediments along the way as Patrick's gaze turned to a glare- "What are we doing, Alina? Why can't we just go the way everyone agrees is beautiful and a pleasant paddle?"
There was no one, single answer to this question- only an assortment of longings and possibilities. Honestly, I feared that a droughty summer might dry out the lower portions of the creek, and I wanted to get a sense of how it had been affected by the tornado. I was also insatiably curious.
After much sighing and professed confusion, Patrick agreed to our adventure, which would require us to paddle back upstream since we had not left a car at a ramp on the Black Warrior.
We knew that we would need to get out and pull Francis over certain areas, so we attached a few lines and set off towards the first impediment- a pile of branches and stumps which could be viewed from Watson's Bend. Patrick walked into the middle of the rooty ruckus and began to fight with the branches emerging from the water.
Meanwhile, I quietly led Francis to the left of Patrick and laid down in her lap while using my arms to pull us under the thick branch curled over the water. (You can see the branch in the left part of the photo.) Patrick grumbled as he watched me glide under, but I felt certain that he was secretly admiring my ingenious solution to impediment number 1- and possibly even beginning to embrace our chosen route.
Patrick admires the curves of Hurricane Creek, where one line always leads around a corner to a new vista.
As it turned out, our first impediment was really our only impediment. The rest was smooth, albeit lazy and slow, paddling, since I felt the urge to talk to every minnow or water bug which crossed our path.
The place we dubbed, "The Roman Nose", a perfect spot for camping and swimming and admiring a rock which resembles a Roman nose.
We were surprised to hear the roar of a small waterfall ahead.
Unsure of the water source, we chose to glide up and examine the scene.
Great rock cliffs to our right upon approaching the waterfall.
We decided to pull off to the bank across the stream from the waterfall and seek the source. The water had a bluish cast, which reminded me of Eugene Allen Smith's explanation for how Blue Springs from that the local lime kilns gave the stream its color.
We failed to spot the source of the waterfall- all we could see was what appeared to be a wetland or small lake filled with vegetation. A take-home mystery I can't wait to try and solve.
Since we had to return by 6 pm, we checked our map and realized we had made it about a third of the way to Black Warrior. Estimating that the upstream paddle would take more time, we decided to head back.
Patrick walks Francis through a shallow area.
The sunlight on our return illuminated the waters.
The Roman Nose on our return revealed the Shoe Horn stone we had overlooked. The smoothness of these rocks suggest that the Creek has been smoothing them and shaping them for a long time.
Our upstream paddle passed by in the blink of an eye. Soon, we were back at Watson's Bend, regretting the end of a maiden voyage that carried with it the weight of a future addiction. Sadly, my otherwise-very-responsible husband neglected to pack champagne or beer which with to christen poor Francis, so she remains "Francis" in the abstract alone. It looks like her second voyage will have to be the one in which she is officially christened. I wonder what we'll discover...
The new Tuscaloosa River Market reminded me a little of the Whole Foods aesthetic- clean, open, bright, shiny, and ready with little double buggies rather than huge shopping carts.
Yesterday, we dropped by the new Farmer's Market hoping to get some fresh veggies. We met a beautiful lady from Iran who was doing the exact same thing with her wide-eyed little girl. Sadly, there were only four vendors present, and I forgot to bring cash or checks, so we walked away empty-handed- but not without learning about how pigs are raised and the difference in taste and use for various parts of a pig.
On our way out, we met a nice gentleman with a dog named "Ellie".
Milla said some very specific things which only she and Ellie understood.
And then the usual suspects sauntered, frolicked, and noisily made their way back to the family spaceship.
The tornados of last took much from our town. Yet, even as Big Daddy destroyed a large part of Alberta City, the tornado left a relic of years gone by- a little bit of neon signage from the classic Americana of road trips and motels.
Patrick and Tino snuck out one night last week to catch a few photos. You can see how Patrick put his iPhone to good use.
You can also see a few of Tino's no-tell shots on his new photo website, where all proceeds go to help fund his walk across America. If you can't find a no-tell photo, just email him at the address listed and request one. He'll put it up for you because he's just that kind of guy.
The air-conditioning was new enough to flaunt when this sign first flickered.
Two Micahs marvel over the well.
Our visit to Bear Creek Farm in Gordo, Alabama was a cornucopia of neat surprises. Jan and Neal, the "Bear Creek Farmers", decided to add a little zest to their retirement by creating a destination of local history and land lore for children to visit and explore. Yesterday, we were among the happy beneficiaries of their decision.
Among other things, the kids learned how to draw water from a well and wash clothing in an old-time washing machine.
Neal encourages Max and Micah Naomi as they struggle to heave up the water bucket.
The sweetness of success as they bucket filled with well water finally comes up.
After drawing water from the well a few times, the kids were lured by an old-time "washing machine" which has a pump to draw well-water for washing clothing and household fabrics.
At first, they water they drew was muddy.
Max was captivated by the pump mechanism which brought well water into the washtub.
Max mans the wringer, which squeezes water and soap from the linens.
Bear Creek Farm makes its own soap, which was perfect for washing clothes. Once upon a time, the same soap was used for everything- from washing clothing to scrubbing bodies.
Jan explained how this long, thin funnel is used to pull water from a well that has been dug in the ground. I learned so much, but it feels like we only scratched the surface of all the things we might learn at Bear Creek Farm.
The kids took turns washing Mary's fabric baby wipes in the washing machine- which we then used to soothe a few fire ant bites on Micah's ankles. Last summer, I filled the baby pool with water and brought out a load of laundry so Max and Micah could "hand wash" it with soap, which they did. They also hung it out to dry. Maybe we could set up a rain water barrel for regular outdoor washings. Something tells me the kids might find laundry to be a more exciting activity than yours truly.
I made a quick stop that extended into an adventure yesterday when I dropped by the Geological Survey of Alabama seeking a few topographic maps. What I found was a tremendous community resource for the study of local geology and geologic history.
The geologists on hand were so helpful, and I could barely restrain myself from carving out a reading nook on the publications shelves. A little taste of all the wonders I discovered:
You can see the tail end of the Appalachians moving through Tuscaloosa. Some of the beauties observed at Hurricane Creek are a result of this Appalachian tail.
The Zeuglodon, or Basilosaurus cetoides, was designated Alabama's official state fossil in 1984. Zeuglodons were primitive whales that lived about 40 million years ago, during the Eocene period, when an ancient sea covered part of southwestern Alabama. Zeuglodon skeletons are currently on display at the Smithsonian and at the Alabama Museum of Natural History.
A mososaur, or Clidastes, in hot pursuit of a sea turtle, or Calcarichelys, through the shallow sea that covered south Alabama during the Late Cretaceous period over 80 million years ago. Clidastes was the most common of several kinds of mososaurs whose remains have been found in the Selma Group chalks of west and central Alabama. Clidastes reached a maximum length of about 20 feet, but some mososaurs were more than 50 feet long.
Alabama marble, a little flakier than most according to the grad student who described local rocks.
Bauxite and iron ore. The iron ore must have been taken from underwater because it looks almost like cillia.
Hematite looks beautiful when cut, polished, and used for jewelry.
Mica from the Piedmont region.
Coal is abundant in our neck of the woods.
If you'd like to learn more about local geology, plan a visit to the GSA. Or contact the Alabama Geological Society.
Last night, I fell asleep reading Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods, which chronicles his adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail with a friend. It whet my yearly fantasy about hiking the AT with Patrick- a longing that first took shape when we were "dating", which, for us, involved taking extended hiking trips through various mountainscapes and backcountries.
The sun warmed my pillow as I woke up slightly surprised not to discover myself in a forest surrounded by gargantuan, old-growth trees all begging me to speak for them since they hadn't quite mastered the American grammar system yet. The dream was almost too embarrassing to discuss- too real and immediate to tangle with as the munchkins crawled over us in the bed. Sulky, fungus-covered American chestnut trees refused to place themselves neatly back inside the mental compartment for "out of sight, out of mind". I am haunted by trees. So be it.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy logo.
If you are in to chasing talking trees, then the following might be considered resources.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy works to keep the AT alive and running.
Step By Step Guidebook to hiking the AT in PDF.
A Trail to Every Classroom includes learning materials.
The Benefits of Place-Based Education, a PDF report.
Information for young people about invasive plants.
Trail history remains contentious as no one can agree on the "hero".
Hip Pocket activities to pursue while hiking.
A map showing various organizations which help maintain the AT.
PEASANT LOVE SONGS
by George Cosbuc, translated by Maurice Aisen
In the garden of my sweetheart
Sing two birds beautifully,
And the sun proudly shines,
And my darling sits and dreams.
Near the garden of my sweetheart
Runs a river clear and crystal
Where my darling sits and weeps.
When you are here, little man,
I dress all the time like a bride,
Wearing flowers and pearls
So you will like them.
Since you have gone away, little man,
The red belt and the tulip have vanished—
It is so sad.
Green leaf of the citron:
My little man has gone to the army;
He is gone and does not write to me,
Neither on the leaves, nor on the river,
Nor on the wings of the wind.
Bad, O mother, is fever,
But far, far worse is love.
For fever you can eat and drink,
But for love there is naught but pain.
From fever my mother can cure me,
But love is far from her care;
From fever the priest can pray me,
But not from the evil of love.
All of us learn this evil,
As did I a year from last spring.
The longing is slowly killing me—
Yes, love is an evil thing.
If you did not love me, little man,
God shall curse you for it.
You should marry nine times,
And you should have nine boys.
You should have a girl too—
She shall bring you water in prison,
Because when you left me
You broke my heart and my love.
Little man, tell me, is it true?
Be honest and tell me, please—
Do you love me or not?
If you like me only a little,
Take any road that you wish,
But never the one that leads to my house.
Goodbye, darling, good luck!
Remain beautiful as a violet
In a glass on the table.
Beautiful girl with blonde hair,
When I see you I begin to lean
Like the leaves in the acacia
When the wind is blowing through them.
Like the leaves of the oak tree I lean
When the breeze is blowing through them.
I had a beautiful neighbor,
And a path to her garden;
But she went and got married
And said not a word to me.
I would have taken her myself!
If she had married three villages away,
It wouldn’t have hurt me so.
But she married a man down our street,
The third door from my mother’s home!
When I am in, I hear her voice;
When I go out, I see her face:
It makes my heart burn like fire.
You can find a PDF version of this poem online at the archives of Poetry magazine. Aisen wrote translated this poem as part of his "Roumainian Poems" series by Romanian poet George Cosbuc.
Drawing by Tonitza.
"For the child. . . it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused - a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love - then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response . . . It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate."
Watching the creek roll by.
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature ‑ the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."
Surveying fallen trees- seeing not the wreckage, but the fascinating possibility- What will replace the fallen?
The campground as seen from just before the bridge- desolate but ripe with possibility.
"It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility."
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
John introduces us to the tender geography of a tree knot.
"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story."
This is how we remember the Creek, how it appeared in our minds when we planned our picnic there today. And then there was this.
And now there is this.
A "this" with a disorienting and shocking effect.
When I first realized that we were at the campground gate, I just burrowed my head between my knees, speechless, trying not to cry so that the kids could enjoy our visit.
As I walked through the new terrain, trying to find words to process the destruction, I saw a familiar white ponytail- quite possibly the only person I felt like hearing from at that particular moment. Mr. John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper. Of course he was at the creek, working, building, dreaming, keeping hope alive.
He explained how he's been trying to restore the campground and creek area to Patrick and a fascinated Max. Using the sawmill purchased by Friends of Hurricane Creek, John has been cutting the fallen trees into usable "white oak" lumber. Max was amazed to find that John knew the age of the cut trees- "I've counted their rings".
The first time I met John, I remember being impressed by his contrasts- the fiery passion for preserving Hurricane Creek combined with a quiet reverence for its ecosystem and the mysteries of life.
Talking to someone who nourishes such an intimate relationship with nature is the best way to inspire children to develop their own intimacy with the world around them. Max found John riveting.
When John explained how he was cutting falling trees into planks and that he used those planks to build the shade shelter (in progress above), Max jumped up and down:
"You mean you're recyling the wood to rebuild? You're not letting it go to waste! You're just doing it all perfect so Hurricane Creek can recover.... Oh, I just know it will, Mom. It's going to be beautiful!"
I want to see what John and Max see. Right now, my eyes tell me there is a long road ahead and the role of Friends of Hurricane Creek is more critical than ever before.
Max jumped into my thoughts with a plea- "Can you ask John if there are any magic kinds of wood here? I want to make a magic wand for Ellie and I need the wood."
Of course John was happy to oblige- and happy to show us an ironwood tree that survived the storm. Before Max could jump ten times, John had cut a long branch from the ironwood and given it to Max, remarking on the strength and resilience of the tree's nature.
Micah surveyed the new scene, and pointed out that the creek was green- a good sign. Or, at least, a sign that not everything has changed.
But the change which startles also presents an opportunity- a chance to study and observe an ecosystem as it recovers from natural disaster. A chance to tally every new growth, to measure short-term effects of natural cycles, to learn so much about a topic that will come to matter more as our climate continues to change. Please join us. Please be a part of this change. Please don't hesitate to email me and let me know if you have suggestions, observations, or a little time to spare.
No suggestion is too small. Max quickly informed me that he wants to come back "as soon as possible" to gather more materials for magic wands- "This place is FULL of magic, Mom!"- which he plans to sell to raise money for the Creek and for John's work. So Max has a plan. And I'm working on a little plan which involves extra lumber and paint. It's your turn.
On our way to the park, I convinced Patrick to pull off the main road near a dirt road with a locked iron gate- the home to long-deceased patients of Bryce Hospital for the Insane (as it was called at the time of its creation). Since we were barred from entry by the gate, we hiked up through a little bit of forest until we arrived at a clearing with tombstones sprinkled around in no particular order or pattern. Bryce Cemetery #2 proved no less heartbreaking than the institution which housed its inhabitants in the interim.
A few fake plastic flowers strewn across the grass offered the only sign of human life, the sole tokens of affection. A Radiohead song came to mind and wouldn't leave.
Micah stood at the edge of the clearing, where nothing was clear. She began sorting for words and reasons to understand our little stop on the way to the park.
Mommy, what are we doing here?
I don't know, Micah. Trying to find out what happened to the people that lived in a hospital long, long ago.
She paused and looked around.
I don't think there's people here, Mommy. No people.
No people, but brand new tombstones and headstones, freshly cut granite still gleaming gray. The effect was disorienting because the tombstones are so oddly arranged, tossed about like paper bags in a parking lot, that the memorial itself feels surreal.
Most of the tombstones or gravestones could be found only by accident. Is this an accident? Or is it just part and parcel of our cultural conceptions of the mentally-ill or mentally-disabled? No terminology, no euphemistic resort to humane language, makes this scene more humane.
The tombstone of Reverend Handy, who passed away in 1893, sits alone atop a small hill. Was he a chaplain for the old asylum or a patient? If a chaplain, then why wasn't he buried with his family? Why the lonely grave in a meadow with no roads or visitors? Rev. Handy had a wife and 3 children. He was loved.
As I walked around the meadow, I felt something hard under my foot. When I looked down, the gloss of gray stone poked out from beneath some leaves. After clearing away leaves and twigs, the story of a man or woman named F. Locke Taylor peaked up at me. Somehow, it stung not to know whether I should apologize to Mr. Taylor or Mrs. Taylor for bouncing across their grave.
Vicie Barnett only tasted 21 years of life on this earth. Now, Vicie's grave marker lies in the middle of meadow marking no particular place at all- an aura, the grass, a blue sky. Under what patch of soil does Vicie lie? Where is Vicie? Why bother to create a new tombstone designating no one space or corpse?
The wild plants pay their respects to the stories human beings try to erase. I have a feeling the munchkins and I will return with a few flowers and chocolates for the 1,550 human beings allegedly interred in this meadow.
For the king's birthday, I gave him a handmade prayer journal with a page for every day of the year. In addition to quotes from Church Fathers, the Bible, and various good people, I also included the Orthodox fasting days, feast days, and watercolor drawings to keep even prayer pretty.
What kind of gift do you give the man whom you love most in this world? One that soothes the soul, methinks.
Pops, Bradley, Ashley, Ben, and the twins drove all the way from Atlanta to celebrate this minor noble's birthday at a picnic in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We caught the cusp of autumn, the moment when the reds give way to gold and even the sun pales in comparison.
Making our way towards the Japanese gardens. The king pulls little Milla plus coats, gear, paints, acorns, and fallen twigs in the wagon.
Max and Ben held hands almost the entire time. And everyone seemed to be pulling or tugging or pushing something or someone.
Ben follows a handsome shadow.
Suebee stops to smell a tree. She almost looks as if she wants to hug it, but we all know better.
Jolly Mills and Benny plus Ashley and tennis shoe.
The town of Rasnov is medieval enough to claim its own coat of arms. And a medieval town usually boasts a medieval citadel. In this case, the Rasnov Citadel comes from a long line of fortresses.
Archaeological research revealed the existence of fortification traces on the citadel hill since prehistoric and Dacian times. History concurs that the hill near Rasnov is ideal for defense. The actual citadel was first built by the Teutonic Knights in 1215, and their legends have much to do with the three roses on the coat of arms. You can trace the various conquests, destructions, and rebuildings online.
My insightful husband pointed out that the men currently involved in restoring the citadel unearth the ancient rocks of the old citadel wall to build the new, restored, tourist-friendly version of the citadel wall. Restoring from ruins and ruins are restored. The winners create the myths and use history to vindicate their hijacking of the supernatural. And yet, there is a wonderful God to set loose the clouds which curl like tendrils across the sky that we humans would destroy if only we had purchased the right scientists to show us how.
Max drops in to help with the restoration.
The old citadel gate.
Shadows, ruins, cloudscapes, and light.
Nooks and crannies- perfect for imagining what might have been or what was.
The electric blue clouds that blew this mommy's mind.
Our trip to the Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama enchanted and excited Ellie and Max. They absorbed the information like the 40 odd chiggers I gained from our field trip absorbed my skin last night.
Big iron wheels.
The Dotterer steam engine.
Hands-on exploration of the gears in a steam engine.
Steam engine to balance beam.
Milla learns about rust in the 1880-1890 era cast iron water pipes made in Birmingham.
Ellie and Tiffany (or Chickadee, as Micah likes to say) came with us to Tannehill for a little letterbox hunting, roaming, gear-exploring, and lunch at a place we've never seen advertised. Tiffany took the most beautiful pictures, which I pilfered from her Facebook page. If I weren't on my best behavior, I'd pilfer her commentary as well- funny, direct, Tiffany-esque. I couldn't help but smile when I read it.
After traipsing through the woods and finding a strange pear-potato plant, Ellie found the first letterbox hidden deep within the womb of a large oak tree.
"Yaaayyy.... we found it!"
Tiffany took a photo of us exploring the letterbox we found with its hand-carved stamp.
Tiff, Ellie, Max, and Micah explored the old cemetery while I nursed Milla and watched the first leaves of the season tumble from the trees.
The next letterbox clues led us to the ironworks museum, and the nice lady- the kind of nice lady who knows how to skin apples in one long piece of rind- allowed Milla and myself to enter free of charge. So I spent the money in the museum store buying a little fool's gold for the treasure hunters.
I'm not sure what subliminal messaging took place in the museum video, but the boys were definitely awed and enthused by iron, gears, ironworks, and the various tubes in the museum.
Letterbox #2 was not to be found today. It looks like we might have to return with more clues. Max and Ellie and Micah took the not-finding in stride.
Milla savored clambering through the tunnels and listening to the echo of her own little yell-- a yell which continued all the way to the car when he had to leave the tunnels in search of lunch.
Micah kept saying, "Higher, Chickadee, higher!". It was hard not to giggle.
The old cotton gin behind the ironworks museum.
Our excursion ended with a yummy feast at Ray's. Tiffany and I enjoyed being called "baby" by our waitress while the kids traded and tasted each other's food in what almost became a science experiment.
Playing some strange neo-Darwinian game with sugar packets while waiting for chow.
Originally, we had planned to see the Stonehenge of Kentucky. Because it was free and, let's face it, gloriously tacky with plenty of grass to run and play and stone perfect for hiding and fairy dances.
By some strange mishap, the kind of mishap that occurs when Patrick and I combine our heads with a map and a plan, we ended up in Glasgow. And then we missed every turn for all the agreed-upon destinations, so we found ourselves with restless munchkins and Fort Williams.
Patrick and Max read historical signs and scoped out the cannons, while Micah, Milla and I tried to decide whether we should snack on some pebbles. Then I remembered that I had downloaded the Georock Geocaching application to my iPhone.... Out of curiosity, I check to see if any caches were located near Glasgow. Well, it turns out that we were sitting on a cache-mine! Fort Williams was the location for geocache.
I screeched at Patrick and Max, thus interrupting their fruitful monologue with history, "Let's go geocaching!!" And off we went, wandering with the compass, like a game of hot and cold but loads more fun.
Just when we were about to give up and leave the woods, I spotted something that looked like box covered in camo-tape under some large branches near a tree root. Sure enough, it was our cache!
Max thinks to himself, "I don't know why I didn't find that one. I mean, I saw it in my mind...."
The glory of a good geocache find.
This moment was eerie- I could almost hear a Gloria Estefan song in the background, which simultaneously revolted and excited me.
Back at the Fort, trying to decide what to take and give.
Max ended up taking a jump rope, and Micah picked a kaleidoscope. Milla played with the first aid kit and seemed to be happy with a Hello-Kitty bandaid. We left a golf ball and a Snoopy Activity Pad for the next fortunate son. I'm sure rest areas are filled with caches! What a great, cheap, exciting, unpredictable way in which to break up a long, car-trip day.....
Today we roamschooled the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. I'll confess that zoos always make me feel uncomfortable and dirty, that feeling you get when you do something wrong. My kids love the animals, and I try to look beyond the
Those of the male sex got serious with maps and planning while we females watched them with interest and curiosity. For there is nothing quite so curious and fascinating as men playing with maps.
The first animals we met were the pink flamingos, and that is all it took for Milla's lower lip to begin trembling before she burst into tears. All that pink hurt ger feelings.
The alligators were posing for an acrylic paint portrait by a young artist. We talked about their texture and why some gentlemen like alligator skin boots.
Max couldn't help guffawing at the gibbons who kept chasing each other and playing in their cage.
Micah had many things to say to the sister-chimp who cozied up to her at the window. She put her hands on her hips and just started talking to the chimp, rambling on about this and that. It was like a high school reunion, except that neither Micah nor the chimp have attended high school.
She wanted the chimp to understand that the dirt is "too dirty" to eat and that she was making a mess with all that straw.
And a different CD playing in every room as you turn a corner and more books stacked to the ceiling shimmer around you. The Book Loft is a bibliophile's dream come true. Climb a few steps lined with benches and flowers (for those who can't wait to get home to read), take a right turn into the store, and you've entered something amazing.
The walkway leading up to the store carries the charm of a German village, appropriately, since The Book Loft is located in the German Village part of Columbus.
We wandered around the store, the younger ones running, the older ones gaping, before finally selecting a few books and forcing ourselves to leave. Bunicu bought a poetry book for Micah and a pirate book for Max (because Max is currently crazy about pirates).
Entering the Book Loft, I don't think we had any idea what we would find. And what we would take home...
The only unfortunate aspect of our visit was the $31.00 credit card charge which occurred by phone when we got home and realized that Micah had STOLEN 12 POSTCARDS AND 13 BIRTHDAY CARDS without our noticing! Quel dommage!
The Topiary Park is a work of art based upon a work of art. Sculptor James Mason explains:
“The Topiary Park is a landscape of a painting of a landscape. … If an artist can paint a picture of a landscape — art mimicking nature — then why not a sculptor creating a landscape of a work of art — nature mimicking art? The topiary garden is both a work of art and a work of nature. It plays upon the relationships between nature, art and life.”
In exploring this park, Max and Micah learned about topiaries and how shrubs can be sculpted into statutes. We also discussed Seurat's painting style, the impressionist movement, and how the pointillist technique allowed artists to capture color and light in an unprecedented fashion.
Mason's topiaries are based on A Saturday Afternoon on the Isle of Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat.
A bronze version of Seurat's painting on the park grounds fails to do justice to the light and spectacle of color that is pointillist technique.
The families and pets on the isle.
You can really see the reclining couples here.
Max admires the mallard duck in the pond.
Beautiful lilypads and reflections.
Take advantage of the educational resources before you visit. All are printable and nicely produced. If you can't make it to Columbus but would still like to share this neat experience with your family, try a virtual tour.
More rain and gray weather drove us to the Franklin Park Conservatory in search of green and plenty. It allowed us to feel as if we were enjoying the great outdoors. We wandered from habitat to habitat, through heady wisteria to the dry ache of cactuses. Max read the signs aloud to us while Milla mumbled additional commentary between sniffles and stuffy-nosed snorts.
Learning about tropical rainforests and their abundance.
An art installation in the rainforest.
Cactii are not pretty. They just aren't. They look mean and crabby.
Max contributed "sour as a lemon" to this board.
Max fell in love with the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit, which allowed us to enter a habitat for over 2,000 butterflies of different shapes, colors, and persuasions. He struck up endless conversations with Audrey, who was manning the door to make sure that no butterflies "hitchhiked" out on the shoulders or purses of visitors.
My dad and I: Like father, like daughter.
This lovely flutterby is attracted to sweetly scented flowers.
Sweet Max found a butterfly with a broken wing and ran to report it to the museum staff. He was so upset, urging us not to touch it during his absence.
Chihuly and koi fish in the butterfly garden.
Max and Micah courting koi.
"Those fish are fatter than me," drawls Milla, from a few steps back.
Apart from plants and butterflies, we also found ourselves surrounded by the glasswork of Dale Chihuly. I'll confess that the bold colors and wacky shapes would have been an Alina-pleaser a few years ago but they fell rather flat and ostentatious on Alina today.
After stomping around the grounds, we savored some delicious local plants at the Harvest Thursday sampling, including some strange fruit that was a mix between a banana and a mango that I can't seem to remember.
Dada Doru and the munchkins take a break in the butterfly garden whose path is shaped like a probiscus (that's a butterfly mouth, for those out on the lingo).
This afternoon, we spent some time and money for what Max described as "a ton of fun" making candles at the Candle Lab. Lined with local art, the walls boasted some lovely acrylic and watercolor wood paintings.
As I scoped out the walls, Max and Micah bounced around the lab, smelling different scents and writing down the ones which they preferred. Milla pushed her stroller around while ponderizing the consistency of candle wax versus soap.
With hundreds of scents to mix and match, white basmati rice blew my mind. The munchkins chose their scents, added the oil to hot wax, and stirred.
Max and Micah create labels for their candles.
Megan, the soap artisan with an awesome tattoo, explained to Max that the largest candle was the one she made for herself in the glass beaker on the counter. Speaking of soap artisanry and other words that don't exist, I was helpless before the craftiness storm.
I couldn't resist the sandalwood-scented Hand Grenade Soap, which is cast from a real World War II grenade and part of proceeds go to assist injured veterans. Grenades and land mines are not only catastrophic for civilians in war-torn countries, but also for American peacekeeping troops and forces stationed abroad. You can purchase these on Etsy from Stinkybomb, which also lists other great handmade soaps.
Max's final product combined beer hops with muscadine to produce what can only be called vintage dankiness. Max called it "Muscadine Beer". He also jokingly called it "The Illegal Candle". At least he didn't know his terms well enough to add the cannabis.
Micah's final product, a twisted take on "Moonlight and Magnolias", combined Micah Magnolia's middle name with honeysuckle and sandalwood for a scent that begs to be set loose in sunshine with that toe ring I bought the other day.
If you'd like to try your own candle-labbing experience, The Candle Lab is open on Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 8pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm. Honestly, the kids almost destroyed the spaceship while waiting one hour for their candles to set. Loved it.
After dropping my dad off at his office on the Ohio State University Campus, we decided to wander around North High Street, specifically in the area known as The Short North, and see how the students and downtowners live. Granted, the rain kept us in the spaceship longer than I like, but we managed get a taste of the varied exuberance of the local arts and indie community (at least, the ones who can afford a storefront or coop cafe on North High Street).
Bloomsbury Loft was pretty but pricey, though the inspirations abound. I think "bohemian" is a stretch when you start to include shabby chic, but my opinion on such matters, being that of the novice aesthete, is about as valuable as a dog biscuit in Senegal.
The colors of Karavan.
Karavan emerged as a favorite with the kids. Not only because they each received a complimentary glass eye good luck charm to ward off the evil eye.... Covered with brilliant textiles, aquamarine glass, silver jewelry, sumptuous rugs, and sparkling rhinestones, the walls kept them in a trance.
Micah points out the "silver bra" she thinks Mommy will like... it is part of a bellydancing costume. Mommy hasn't learned those tricks yet. Though she'd love to.
Three Dog Bakery was a hoot.
A mural of the old train station, which is now the home of restaurants and fancy thats.
Train murals near the old train station.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church snagged my attention with ten minutes to spare before the Bookworm, their used book store, closed for the day. And what an amazing ten minutes. Everything was under $3.00. We walked away with so many bibliotreasures.
A splendid fall day. We printed up the Indian Run Falls Scavenger Hunt and Activity Guide and set off with my dad to explore the forests of Dublin with some grape juice, oranges, carrot bran muffins, and various items that might prove useful when hiking with munchkins.
Max searches for the mysterious "ghost tree" on his scavenger hunt.
A view of a perfect swimming hole surrounded by riffles.
The ravine walls are made from limestone.
Max and Micah hold hands along the trail.
The kids and I sneak off the trail to explore the river.
The last piece of the scavenger hunt led us to the old Wyandot Indian encampment near the waterfall. Max and I learned from our handout that the Wyandot believe they will return to their campgrounds in the afterlife. We didn't see any ghosts. Nor did we find the notorious "living rock" through which the Wyandot pygmies enter our world.
Max marveled at the Wyandot traditions and matriarchal cultural institutions- "Mom, the Wyandot women were in charge of EVERYTHING!", he exclaimed.
Micah chimed in, "But Mommy is the boss, Max." Pace Patrick, little pitchers have big ears, big mouths, and pumpkin kisses.
Despite the rain yesterday, we managed a trek to Jeni's, a local ice cream shop that uses milk from grass-fed cows to make splendors for the taste buds.
Micah couldn't get enough of the seasonal flavor, Brambleberry Crisp, which has enough oat crisp and cinnamon to fool you into pretending there is an entire pie at your disposal. I know this because I polished off a late-night teething pint all by myself.
Everybody in Dublin, Ohio agreed that Jeni's was the place to be last night.
We played Chat Pack and ordered beer and easygoing Irish food.
Max invented a new birthday tradition, which requires you to replace the blowing out of candles on a cake with throwing a root beer bottle at the candles and then licking the bottle and drinking the root beer without stopping. Something tells me Max is going to enjoy "college".
Micah wearing the dress I upcycled for her. The Indian tattoo on her arm is fading.
Micah is my fashion muse...
Coloring with tendrils.
As dad and Pam paid for the food, I took Max and Micah out onto the sidewalk so they wouldn't wear bouncing holes into the restaurant chairs. Armed with my journal and pen, sitting on a stoop worthy of honor by the National Register of Historic Places makes even the ants seem scenic. Beech nuts tumble down onto the cobblestone sidewalk where poverty is what happens to those who cannot afford a second bottle of wine. The munchkins marvel and save the nuts for squirrels.
Little legs skipping along the sidewalk with jokes about breaking a mother's back just distant enough to provoke giggles until Max says, "Hey, I don't want to break mom's back." Micah plays hide-and-seek like an ostrich, lying right next to Max on the ground as he counts and she presses her fingers hard over her little eyes.
An elderly couple with a dog grins at the kids, tossing a smile between themselves like a secret. The young couple carrying iphones on their chests like shields from the world looks around frantically for the awful parents who are letting these kids act so crazy in the middle of such a distinguished sidewalk. They pay good money for this distinction. And good money for the therapy which helps them put off children until some day in the future when they can afford the Pottery Barn furniture that allows children to truly thrive.
A dude on a motorcyle waves at the kids. They wave back and laugh. I fight the urge to dissolve into the scene with my journal and a blanket of beech nuts knit by the joy in my children's laughter and discovery of life....
At some point during this week, I hope we have a chance to learn more about the Wyandot Native American tribes so prominent in the history of this area. I created a homeschooling guide to a scavenger hunt and open-ended exploration of the Wyandots local to Dublin. Just right click to download.
It took 12 hours. The travel tickets greased our wheels. We stopped every few hours for leg stretches, diaper changes, and water.
Playing with pebbles in Gardendale.
"I've never been to a playground with so many rocks before...."
"Let's take them with us, Max...."
"Okay Micah, you bring the chalky ones..."
There is more than one way to enjoy a slide.
Milla frisks around in the pebbles.
Last night, we drove to Birmingham for dinner with my sister and brother-in-law (whom I will just call "BMW bike dude" for short in honor of his new tricycle) at a softly-opened new restaurant in Mountain Brook.
Like all worthwhile southern gems, this one is rooted in a history- a family legacy sweetened by the scent of soil, Alabama summers, and an inspiring grandmother. Ollie Irene was named after Chef Chris' grandmother who knew how to use every vegetable, herb, and animal on her land in concocting the most delicious homestyle meals. Apparently, the taste of Ollie Irene's handmade biscuits, pinched, smoothed, patted, and turned with the measure of her knowing hands, outlived her physical body. Combining locally-grown, seasonal produce with the romantic ambiance of moonlight and magnolias minus the lace and fluff, Ollie Irene is a tribute to its community as well as its namesake.
A photo of the lovely Ollie Irene.
I can't really do the entire experience justice except to say that every single plate and every object on that plate held its own particular taste. Chris used the Alabama peaches in season right now to create artistic marvels- to bring out the juicy tenderness of the pork roast, to compliment the woodsy spice of the arugula and rich flavor the goat cheese. By remaining faithful to the natural qualities and tastes of simple, homegrown ingredients, Chris, Wim, and the other chefs made our meal feel like a museum experience in which we marveled over all the different ways an artist could make beautiful use of the color blue. Or green.
Little Milla appreciated her high chair, and used it to serenade the waitresses with various requests. She absolutely could not get enough of the Silver Queen Corn Salad on my sister's plate. In fact, she amused us by pointing at it and screaming and then pointing at her own empty plate emphatically. Carla repaid Milla by stealing her pub fries, savory potatoes cooked in duck fat and flavored with herbs, whenever Milla turned her head. Suffice it to say that there was much stealing and sharing and "mmmmmming" at our corner table.
By the time we got to dessert, I had consumed enough of my Algonquin cocktail to understand why the writers of the Algonquin Round Table always seemed to verge on tipsiness. And the dessert was so spectacular than if I were a true Southern lady, I might have fainted with pleasure. I don't like creme brulee, so I rolled my eyes when Patrick ordered it and then proceeded to lick every bite from the spoon and snap at Jeremy when he approached the plate. Poor Jeremy ordered the Peach Tarte Tartin with homemade vanilla ice cream and ended up with very little for himself. It was UNBELIEVABLE. Just unbelievable.
Aunt Carla and Milla at Ollie Irene's. The soft glow of candles doesn't show up well on my lame Iphone 3 camera...
See for yourself. I know you will call me and say, "Unbelievable...." because that's really all there is to say about it.
Presently, Ollie Irene's will be open Tuesday through Saturday evenings for dinner. Doors open with a limited menu and absolutely delicious cocktails, beer, and wines beginning at 4 pm. At 5 pm, the full menu is available. Located across from the Botanical Gardens, Ollie Irene can be found at 2713 Culver Road, Mountain Brook, AL 35223. If you have any questions about the menu or hours, contact them at 205-769-6034 or just send an email to email@example.com. To learn more about the proprietors, Chris Newsome and Anna Lakovitch, enjoy their impressive bios. This restaurant grew from a well-nourished and cultivated dream. I can't wait to see what Chris cooks up with the next season's produce...
Inspired by local labor rights history and a sunny day, we went on a hunt for the abandoned town of Brownville, Alabama. We found...
beautiful purple flowers that would have made ripe, juicy fruits given some alterations in DNA...
enchanting dirt roads lined with wilderness and river rocks....
a long driveway with black wrought-iron gates that have the letter "S" carved into them (for "Stanley", speculates Max, since Mr. Stanley owned the creosote company)...
a sun-drenched field where the Community Center once stood....
In 1907, Marietta Pierce Johnson (1864-1938) founded the School of Organic Education in Fairhope, as an experiment to study child development and provide children with the appropriate conditions for optimal development. Established within the Fairhope Single-Tax Colony, the school continues to operate in the community of Fairhope, and the original school is now a museum.
Marietta Pierce was born outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 8, 1864, into the farming family where she was one of eight children. As a young woman, she studied education at the Third State Normal School (now St. Cloud State University) in Minnesota and then taught in elementary and secondary schools in that state.
Marietta Pierce married John Franklin Johnson. They lived together in Minnesota before moving to Montana where they worked as ranchers. Learning of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony and its utopian community in Gulf Coast Alabama, the couple moved to Fairhope in 1901. Johnson taught in the Fairhope public school for a year before following her husband to Mississippi to run a pecan orchard. After its failure, the couple moved back to Fairhope, and Johnson took charge of the Fairhope Public School, overseeing its first high school graduating class in 1903.
One of the early pioneers of progressive education, Johnson studied the theories of child development promoted by pediatrician Nathaniel Oppenheim in his book, The Development of the Child (1898), as well as the social criticism of Enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and the educational theories of education reformers Friedrich Froebel and John Dewey. Through a blending and expansion of their work, she developed her unique philosophy of education.
In 1907, Fairhope resident Lydia Comings urged Marietta Johnson to found a school based on her philosophy. With Johnson's two sons and four other students, she established her experimental Organic School of Education school in a small cottage on Church Street in downtown Fairhope. Having studied Oppenheim's theories of child development, Johnson's vision included the idea that the school's curricula should be structured and progress according to his concept of the stages of biological and neurological child development. She believed that the interests of children should be respected so that they could develop the power to think for themselves. Her concept of instruction, which she called organic education because it focused on the child as a complete "organism," was a drastic departure from the traditional teaching methods of the day, which viewed adults as all-knowing and children as miniature, but incomplete, adults. In Johnson's organic model, teachers were charged with presenting academic subjects in a natural setting that did not pressure children to conform to a rigid or regimented schedule. Students proceeded at their own individual and comfortable pace.
According to Johnson, childhood should be viewed as its own stage and not merely preparation for adulthood. Basic to the concept of organic education is the assumption that children are born to learn, that they want to learn, and that it is the job of educators to facilitate this by being aware of each child's progression through the stages of development. She also believed that external standards tended to foster self-consciousness and thus the school had no tests or grades. Each child was simply expected to attend class and put forth his or her very best effort. She believed that the order of development of the child's nervous system must not be violated and therefore all formal work such as reading, writing, and use of figures was postponed until age eight or nine. Classes were small and a sense of cooperation rather than competition prevailed.
Johnson was a proponent of a unique philosophy of progressive education inspired by her contemporary Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessorri. She did not believe any child should be allowed to fail.
The non-profit Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education celebrated its 100th year of continuous operation in 2007. It is located on a four-acre campus off of Pecan Avenue in Fairhope and continues to operate according to its founder's ideals. The school offers instruction for children in kindergarten through eighth grade with a Learning Center for home-schooled high school students. The Marietta Johnson Museum is located in the original school house at 10 South School Street in Fairhope.
An inspiring little project to consider for our own backyard. Since the Tuscaloosa tornado, there are large, amazing trees lying along the side of every road, waiting to be removed by the city trash collectors. Perhaps there is a more permanent hope for these felled pines...
Words cannot do Myrtle Hill much justice. The only uniformity is found in the graves of the Confederate soldiers, which has always struck me as tragic to have a standard of uniform, nondescript headstones for the graves of soldiers, to leave them undistinguished and standardized in death.
The other graves, stacked, nestled, and splendid, add layers to the already-dizzying landscape of the hill. It is hard to stand still; the effect is one of floating, the angels are no surprise.
There is a postscript to every wandering and a tombstone for every phase of life. We must learn to leave the graveyard and engage the world without forgetting to honor what has moved beyond us. For those of us who are especially sentimental, a tattoo marks the spot.
We spent quite a bit of Saturday lolly-gagging around the Old Mill. The kids played in the creek and discovered a number of terrific finds while Patrick captured the lovely laziness on video camera. Don't ask me what we talked about because I don't remember much except for Becky's "1 year rule" (though I don't recall the specifics of what it involved).
Returning to your alma mater always involves a few head-scratching moments followed by, "I don't remember this being here back then. It must be new...." But new can be dandy.
Like this new fountain at the Berry student center. Apparently, you are NOT supposed to swim in it. However, we did not see any signs indicating that swimming in underwear was not acceptable. Hence...
Micah plays in the fountain; Patrick and Bryce chat; Becky listens as Max tries to name the waterfall.
Max is obviously preparing to pontificate.
The entire household is abuzz with more than flies today. We're abuzz with excitement over our coming weekend trip to Berry College, Patrick's alma mater, located in the lovable city of Rome, Georgia.
Saturday morning, we'll cruise into town just in time to catch the local Farmer's Market. I'm thinking we'll pick up breakfast from a nice man in overalls who can tell Max about the kind of soil required for that okra he wants to plant in our garden next year.
Then maybe we'll check in to our shared cottage and start scouring the scene for blond babies, pregnant ladies, and red-haired Vikings. Rumor has it that we'll be going for a group hike and a possible swim, which is close as it gets to heaven in my book. I've visited Berry twice before with Patrick, but there is so much I want to explore there... so many little stories he's shared with me. Among the intriguing things he has mentioned:
If you're traveling to or around Rome, Georgia, don't bother to wear a flower in your hair. But do bother to burn a good CD for drives along the back roads my husband loves so dearly. And consider adding the following to your itinerary:
Gaina (Hen) Mountain lies in the central Occidental Carpathian Mountains, in Romania, and is famous for hosting The Maidens Fair every summer, around July 20 on Saint Elijah’s Day. Known as the largest Romanian traditional open air festival, it was first mentioned in documents in 1816. Held at 1467m high on the Gaina Peak in a superb clearing surrounded by white clouds, the Maiden's Fair comes back to me from family videos and the final trips taken by my parents around the country they loved and left before defecting to America.
The purpose of the fair is not to buy a maiden, but rather to create a sense of community among the Romanian mountain villagers. Back in the day, mountain-dwellers scattered over large distances gathered at Gaina Mountain to socialize and celebrate. This helped young men and women meet, play, party, sing, dance, fall in love and perhaps, get married.
The celebration begins early in the morning, when the famous band of alpenhorn women from Avram Iancu makes the announcement. The large folk festival includes traditional Transylvanian dances, folkloric costumes and crafts such as fine textiles, weaving looms and sculpted flutes. Traditional foods include polenta (mamaliga in Romanian) with milk, bacon and onions that locals chase with palinca, the signature mountaineer's homemade plum brandy.
Cultured Traveller brings the legend behind the Fair to life:
Somewhere, a long time ago, both people and gods were sharing the sky and the land, the light and the darkness, the joy and the pain.
That is why, up there, at the foot of the clouds, below the holy tear of the sunrays, rolled like a cup of gems over the face of the Mountain which is guarding a bunch of wooden, bricked and stoned houses, lived the "mountaineers", living pillars of the blue sky wrapping in snow its hidden paths, the roads, the valleys, the woods, with their small horses. There, a small hen had its shelter, making golden eggs and all the "mountaineers" were wondering and wondering and they started to protect her and to devote to thoughts, deeds and songs.
For their golden egg hen they could kill and she was safe from one season to another. Only once a year the "mountaineers" could see her face, her lonely and enigmatical image with her wings open over the vastness.
On the day of the St. Ilie the "mountaineers" were gathering like the rivers in the same bed to tell each other their problems, their hopes and dreams, to offer their children a chance to meet, to fall in love and to propose their hearts to join forever, in marriage. The hen used to descend from her unseen shelter placed on the top of the Mountain. She used to approach the young ones and waving her wings ones she turned into a charming goddess which was approaching the newly married couples with a golden egg in her hands, offering it for happiness and long life. Both people and Mountain were applauding, praying and giving thanks. In the sound of their applause the goddess raised her hands to the sky and turned back into a Hen, hiding herself from the mortals' eyes. So the seasons found them, thus starting a habit of faith and love. That's why, that proud mountain whose peaks are covered with white clouds, in a height of more then 1500 m was named and forever will be, "The Gaina Mountain".
But the peace, quite and harmony was broken by thoughtless eyes who have forever been trying to discover the nest of the golden Hen and to steal her golden eggs. And finally, with evil's help, they succeeded. The hen had left her shelter for another festival, on the shoulder of another mountain, having as a purpose the peace of mind of the inhabitants, and some unexpected visitors together with that ruthless man violently searching the nest took the eggs, hid them under his shirt and ran away.
Coming back home and discovering the theft, the goddess was very unhappy and with bitter heart she decided to leave the place forever. She rose her hands high up in the sky, turned into a hen and flew, unseen, to another mountain. And that mountain was at Rosia Montana.
The people mourned her, bagged her to go back to them but the miracle did not happened. Gaina mountain remained behind with barren peaks, haunted by rains, wild winds and snows, by tears and legends. People come to meet the mountain as often as they can, hoping they will be able to tame, to quench its patience, harmony and longing.
They say, the thief that had stolen the eggs fell into a deep strait and the eggs were lost into the depth. They become springs of water or torrents - the crack can be seen today covered by clouds. The Apuseni Mountains and the people living there have been suffering ever since.
Since I won't be able to attend the Maiden's Fair in Romania, we will have to make do and create our own proxy Maiden's Fair for homeschooling purposes. Of course, this gives me an excuse to start sewing.... COSTUMES!
More to explore:
Katie Farms, located just a hop away in Coker, Alabama, is on our list of homeschooling field trips for this fall. In addition to free range eggs, they have various heirloom vegetables, depending on the season. Their Highland cattle would be a treat for kids to meet and study.
Unfortunately, the drought and unusually hot temperatures (yes, even for Alabama weather) has negatively affected their harvest, so their volume has greatly diminished. They still have eggs and encourage you to call and place your order honoring those hard-working hens.
I can't wait to try these recipes:
Catching up on all the events and lovely folks in our lives lately. These days it seems there is little time to blog and less time to do more than ride the roller-coaster and cross my heart to love every minute.
The Foxes are a gift in our lives. Apart from Kelly's excellent taste in books and a shared appreciation for Kierkegaard, the children "play well" together. Or so we tell ourselves so we have an excuse to see one another.
Kelly's latest recommendation, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, has kept me from enjoying my meals lately. I'll be happy when I have finished it so I can return to the land of happy eating.
Earlier this week, Max had his own special outing with Suebee and Pops while we stayed home and tried to work out nap time with an infant and a toddler. It seems that Max's preferred activity at the Children's Hands-On Museum was managing the main desk at the hospital. When asked, Suebee says he claimed to be an ENT. Otherwise, he answered phones and directed museum visitors both young and old around the hospital. Every physician's dream.... a bossy hospital admin staff. Bunica may or may not have been proud.
Below, you can see how Suebee and Pops responded to the offer for a free meal at the hospital.
Borrowing from the lovely blog post at TuscMoms on free fun with kids, I thought I'd add a few more fun summer freebies in the Tuscaloosa area. Here is my running list. If I can find 50, I'll be pleased. Aim high, right? Oh, and when I say "free", I mean that there should be no ticket or entry cost. Gas and food might still cost you something.
1. Free summer movies at Cobb 16 Theatres from June 15th to August 6th at 10 am.
2. Free storytime at Barnes and Noble on Saturday mornings at 11:00 am throughout the summer.
3. Make a Splash reading program at the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
4. Going for a hike and picnic at Hurricane Creek Park. (Here is E. O. Wilson waxing poetic about our own Hurricane Creek.)
5. Playing in the water fountain near the Black Warrior River Landing (near the Black Warrior River Marker). If you come at the right time, you can watch the Bama Belle set off or return from a voyage. Bring swimsuits, towels, and water.
6. Planning a day hike on the Rocky Branch Trail.
7. Learning about American novelist Richard Yates and then visiting the place where he lived out his last years in Tuscaloosa.
8. Exploring Forever Wild's Sipsey River Swamp Preserve to learn more about swamp ecosystems.
9. Going on a historical adventure in search of the mysterious Black Warrior Town. Bring some Davy Crockett legends to read along the way (probably a 45-minute drive).
10. Playing in the fountain at Annette Shelby Park.
11. Hunt for signs of the endangered flattened musk turtle at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Bring a swimsuit for the lovely swimming hole.
12. Printing a copy of Alabama Gardener's Calendar and getting to work.
13. Visiting the dog park and all the fun, fancy dogs at the old University golf course (next to the Tuscaloosa Arboretum).
14. Swimming and searching for Cahaba lilies in West Blocton.
15. Volunteer with the Interfaith Environmental Initiative of Alabama and "live out E.O. Wilson's dream". Or just teach your children how to love and respect their world starting with Alabama Rivers.
16. Play frisbee golf at Bowers Park. Or just hike the gnarly frisbee golf trails.
17. Make a day of Lake Harris. Bring water-friendly hiking shoes.
18. Pick some blueberries and make a cobbler or pie at Leavelle's Berries. Restrooms and picnic area available. For details, call 339-7723. Open: Monday Wednesday and Saturday 7:00am until dark. 17952 Foxfire Road, Buhl, AL 35446 Directions: From Tuscaloosa: west on I20-59 take Fosters Exit 62, go straight through the flashing red light and follow Gainsville Road until it ends. Take a left onto Romulus Road for about 4.5 miles and turn right onto Foxfire Road. Go 2 miles & on the right will be a ‘Leavelle Farms’ sign. Early June through late July. Payment: Cash, Check.
19. Go on a William Christenberry photo hunt. Check out his book from the library or buy a copy and try to find the locations and then take your own versions. Let your little ones have a hand at it as well.
20. Visit the Veteran's Administration Hospital and find a veteran pen-pal or friend to sponsor.
21. Bring a shovel and some sand materials to build sandcastles at Snow Hinton Park.
Thanks to the hard work of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen, Hurricane Creek is now actually a park managed by PARA. A few weekends ago, we decided to take a family trip down to the Creek to check the water levels after the torrential rains. Max skipped ahead, while Micah was restrained by her harness and her dad's steady hand.
The waters were the highest I have ever seen them, and a number of kayakers took advantage of the exciting whitewater. Max and Micah dipped their toes into the water and twittered about the dark sand and shoes and other things parents just don't understand.
Since we couldn't go a weekend without an injury, the gods of fate decreed it was Max's turn to be injured. As he jumped around explaining how the creek empties into the Black Warrior, he cut the underside of his big toe on a piece of stone. He only stopped prancing when I pointed to the blood on the rocks. A big cut for a brave boy; Micah cried more than he did (she always cries when Max is upset). My kayak and canoe fantasies continue....
If you've never spent an afternoon at Hurricane Creek or if you would like to learn more about it, join the Friends of Hurricane Creek Facebook group. It is nothing short of a local treasure.
One of the most exciting projects I've touched in a long time, the Local History Workshop, has finally come together. Though we are full, we might be able to make exceptions for students who would really like to attend.
Homeschoolers and history-interested parents can still enjoy the Resources page. Also, we will post videos showing a few of the speakers and activities when the workshop wraps up in October.
So far, you can see most of the schedule online at the website above (though this doesn't provide much information about the nitty-gritty). The young historians will learn various skills, including primary source research, cartography, timeline construction, constructing secondary sources and narratives, interpreting archival materials, exploring
They will also have the opportunity to be part of a Living Tuscaloosa Timeline on the evening of Friday, October 15th in which they will act out a character from Tuscaloosa history. A few of the persons we will be discussing include:
As the workshop progresses, I'll share some of the many interesting handouts and materials compiled for the benefit of our creative participants.
A few, for starters:
In addition, the following have been used to frame and develop various activities and learning opportunities:
(The image above is kept in the University of Alabama Hoole Special Collections Library, which can be accessed online through the Digital Collections. It shows a creek near "Lake Lorraine", which must have become Lake Lurleen or must have been eradicated by the construction of the Tombigbee Waterway.)
I'm going to keep this list updated as I discover new locations. Please email any suggestions my way, or add them as comments below. Also, I've rated the items below as we visited them.
**** Four stars indicates a must-see.
*** Three stars indicate good field trip, but pre-planning and lesson materials should be created beforehand for the field trip.
** Two stars indicates a fair field trip, but one requiring either too much money or inadequate materials for viewing and learning.
* One star indicates a no-go.