Sunday, December 14, 2008


I read the other day that 99% of blog posts are about why the author hasn't posted lately so let's don't even go there. I wanted to post, I meant to post; things kept coming up and time slipped away from me - again. So here's my picture of Fall in the country I meant to write about.

What I'm supposed to be doing right now is writing a short biography for promotional material. An artist's biography is really more like a resume in paragraph form. Since I don't have an art degree and haven't won any serious awards I don't have a lot to say. I have won a couple of merit awards, can I call myself an award winning artist or is that stretching it? You try writing something complimentary about yourself when you know people you know are going to read it and know that you wrote it. I need to send it in tomorrow. I feel like I'm in high school and have waited until the last minute to start my essay.

JD just finished the last of several pieces he was building that had to be finished by Christmas so he's feeling de-stressed. Do you know why people have furniture custom made? Because they can't find pieces big enough for their house. All of the pieces he did for this client were over nine feet tall. I have to get some pictures of his work to show you because he does amazing work. The only picture I could find was of this piece we did about 6 years ago. I say we because I did the finishing. The doors are antique French; the piece was built around them and finished to match.
There was an elaborate base and crown and they (there were TWO of them) were the biggest armoires I had ever seen. They were gorgeous but so big that I would burst out laughing when I looked at them. Now, for several years now, everything he builds is this big. Or bigger.

Before I became an artist full time I painted furniture and sold antiques. I was a master of the distressed finish if I do say so myself. Wonder if I can work that into my biography? I need filler.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lady Bug Lady Bug Fly Away Home

Or is it Lady Bird, Lady Bird ? Anyway every year at this time we are inundated with Lady Bugs in the house. Yes the curtain is on a shower rod. It's a long story. As I was saying, we have hundreds and hundreds of lady bugs in the house. I should say on the the windows, the ones on the sunny side of the house. How or why they get in I don't know. I mean I can see a few slipping in under the door but you'd think we'd notice if there were hoards of them lining up like ants. They'll crawl around in the window a couple of days then drop lifeless to the windowsill and floor. I used to sweep them up and put them in the trash then my daughter told me that they're hibernating. I didn't believe it but next time I put them in a box and saved them and sure enough next Spring when it started getting warm they started moving. Is that not cool? Unless you think having a box of bugs in your house is creepy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm Back.....Again

I made a point of saying in my last post that I was going to post more often, then I took off to visit my daughter in North Carolina and I just got back so here I am, late again. As I said in an earlier post, she lives in the Smoky Mountains, so close to the park boundary you can see it from her house. So of course when she has a day off what do we do? Go shopping in Asheville of course. This time it was really fun as it turns out Dilliard's (a big department store in the south) has a regional clearance center here. And it's enormous and crammed full of clothes, good clothes not just the dregs no one wanted. Everything is 70% off with specials that change every Wednesday so that some things are an additional 40% off! They owe you money! She bought a beautiful satin evening dress with beading (for a Halloween costume) for $12. I thought you would like to know.

Speaking of Halloween, I have a ghost story to tell. It's not often you get a new audience to tell one of your old stories to, so here it is.

It happened about 30 years ago. My first husband and I were living in Knoxville in a new house in a new subdivision so I can't explain why this happened there, but it did. One night I awoke suddenly out of a deep sleep with the feeling someone was in the room. I sat up in bed. It was a very dark night but I could see a small figure at the foot of the bed. It was wearing a long white gown. At first I thought it was my six year old daugher and I called her name several times. Then the figure slowly disappeared, dissolved before my eyes. My heart was pounding and I couldn't go back to sleep but I didn't talk about it the next day because I didn't want to scare the children.

It wasn't until six years later that my daughter, then 12, overheard me telling someone about what I saw. She said, "I can't believe you never told me about that! One night when I was about six I saw a man and a woman in a red dress dancing down the hall! I thought it was you and dad at first......I didn't say anything because I didn't think anyone would believe me!"

I was stunned. And I so regret that I didn't do more research to find out what the story was about where the house was built. Was it on the site of an old farmhouse? Perhaps even a family cemetary? All I can say is that I was young and had three small children and didn't know how to research things back then. And we were transfered not long after. So I guess it will always be a mystery. I think about contacting the people who live there now and asking them if they've ever seen anything but I guess I'm afraid they would think I'm nuts. I had my chance to find out something about the other side and I missed it.

What would you have done?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Back!

I finished my last art festival this weekend. It was Kentuck down in Northport, Alabama, one of the top festivals in the Southeast. It’s such a fun show to do. The focus is on Outsider art so there’s lots of far out stuff to see but the best thing is that the whole atmosphere is so festive and everyone seems so happy. The October weather was perfect, bright and sunny, but cool, a perfect weekend to be out in the park. The entertainment was above average to outstanding, like blues singer Ruthie Foster who had the crowd on their feet dancing and afterwards they rushed in and bought all her Cds in about five minutes.
At least that’s what I heard as I am stuck in my booth all day except for five minute bathroom breaks and never get to see anything except the view above. Not that I’m complaining because sales were good despite the fact that the economy is apparently going down the toilet.

Don’t you love this car? Doesn’t it make you want to go glue random stuff all over yours? What’s really amazing is this is apparently a 20 year old Vega or Pinto or something like that, that still runs.

We cheaped out this year and camped at a state park six miles away instead of paying a bazillion dollars for a cummy motel room because it’s game weekend. (This is Tuscaloosa area – home of the University of Alabama. You may know football is a big deal around here.) Lake Lurleen is beautiful, one of the best maintained parks I’ve seen anywhere. We took our bikes and did a little riding.

This is JD getting some shots of some horses in the beautiful foggy twilight on a road near the park. Afterwards we spent 30 minutes in the dark looking for his glasses because he has a habit of sticking them in the neck of his shirt and they fall out. I can’t believe we found them.

I always feel a little blue after a fun and exciting show is over but I’m coming out of it now and will be posting more regularly so don’t give up on me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Dark Side

We met a new neighbor the other day, who was moving back to the family land after being away a long time. He grew up here, across the road. His father owned the cotton gin that used to stand on the corner. He was telling us about how much things have changed since he moved away many years ago. Then he told us about something that happened when he was a child.

It was in the 1960's and he was five years old. There was a man who lived in "the cove" who still rode his mule to town. He always tied it up at the cotton gin then walked to the store across the tracks. Randy and his brother were playing in the yard when the man came one day, tied up his mule and walked to the store. He appeared to be covered in red paint. They told their father who was waiting for him when he came back. It wasn't paint, it was blood. He had just killed his neighbor with an axe.

Speaking of killer, here's a killer version of The Thrill is Gone. B.B. King with Eric Clapton and Phil Collins on drums. You can turn my music off if you scroll down to the player. Or go to youtube and watch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall at Last

“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken” - Thomas Wolfe

This isn't a very October looking picture but long shadows in the afternoon is the only indication that the season is changing around here. I find it hard to write anything without some kind of visual aid and this is the best I could do. It's my street, past our house.

It's so wonderful that Fall is finally here. We so look forward the end of the long hot days of Summer and the sharp clear light of autumn.

We've been super busy around here turning over a new leaf. What does that mean anyhow? Do the leaves just keep turning over? Anyway we're trying to stick to more of a schedule, get more work done, exercise more, eat less, lose weight, yadda yadda yadda.

Nothing is going on around here except work work work. Just wanted to check in and say I'm still here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stalking the Elusive Felis Domesticas

I was going to title this BFF but I couldn't get a picture of Buz and Todd together-they're so cute when they curl up together and lick each other's neck- but Buz is afraid of the camera and runs whenever I get it out while Todd won't keep his face out of the lens. I guess you can tell they're brothers. Does anyone recognize who they're named after? Route 66? Buz and Todd hit the road in a red corvette? My favorite TV show when I was twelve. I'm not sure how you knew it was a red corvette since the show was in black and white, but you knew. It was the definition of cool in 1963.

Buz (the one on the sidewalk - I had to shoot his picture from 30 feet away)is the sweet one and he loves JD. I mean loves him. He always comes running to meet him when he comes home. And I'm the one that feeds them. So the other day JD was waving something around for Todd to chase and he did that thing cats do - play play play then ball up on your hand and bite hard enough to draw blood, and Buz was watching and ran over and knocked the crap out of Todd for biting. Attack cat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fly Away

This picture has nothing to do with this post; I just needed to put something here. JD wasn't home last night so I had a bowl of cereal for dinner and spent the night blogging to my heart's content. Not here obviously. You think this is the only place I have? I've got three other blogs to keep up. Actually four now. Only two are open right now because I'm not far along enough to share the others.

This newest one - well, we leapt (yes, leapt is right, I looked it up) into the 21st century by joining Netflix a couple of months ago. Already we can't remember what we've seen. We were,like, what was that movie we saw last week? The one we liked so much? The one we gave five stars? (It was Amelie. If you haven't seen it go rent it right now. I'll wait. Be sure to watch it in French.) So we got this bright idea to start a blog of reviews of movies we've seen. Mostly for us, so we can remember what we've seen. So JD made this neat header and we've uploaded five pictures from movies. But we've only written one review because designing blogs and picking out pictures is a lot more fun than actually writing something. And music - movie blog must have movie themes playing. So I spent an absurd amount of time looking for movie themes last night. It was wonderful. I heart my computer.

You've probably noticed I have music on this blog. I tried to pick out music that wouldn't be annoying. I love it. I often leave it playing in the background. Listen, playlist is so much fun. You don't have to put it on anything, you can just create an account and listen to it there. You can have more than one list. You can have up to 95 songs on each list. You can find anything there. It's FREE. It's not illegal because you're not downloading anything. Have you looked at my music? Acker Bilk? Who else remembers Acker Bilk? Anyone? Or am I the oldest living person in the blogosphere?

I thought so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I've Been Busy

As usual I've waited 'till the last minute so I am working as fast as I can to get ready for shows this fall. I've been matting and framing up a storm. Can you tell? I am knee deep in mat board right now. And now I can't find anything.

Friday and Saturday we both had a show downtown so that's one out of the way. You wouldn't believe what we have to load up to do a show, especially since there's two of us. I mean there's all these heavy display screens that have to be put together when you get there,and folding tables, and boxes and boxes of prints and paintings. When it's outside there's two tents. JD always says he feels like a carny worker; all that's missing is the tilt-a-whirl.

This show was downtown in what they call the loft district because anything that doesn't move has been turned into a loft. I love it. I would so live here if I could afford it. Preferably next to a grocery store. It's been my dream for years to live on the same block as a grocery store. What is wrong with me that I need to go to the grocery store every single day? And the grocery store that used to be two miles away burned down last week so now it's a six mile trip to the nearest store where they do not have anything whole wheat, or decent lettuce. Ever. I think they get it in pre-wilted.

I'm in a bad mood and ranting about the lettuce because I have to drive 20 miles tomorrow to the nearest real grocery store, by which I mean Walmart,and who goes to Walmart and doesn't spend 3 hours so that's most of my day, which means I get nothing done in the studio but hey, we have to eat. Wheat bread and lettuce mostly.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Time Marches On. And On.

I had a birthday last week but I'm OK now.

Until last Wednesday I hadn't been bothered by a birthday since the year I turned 35. Thirty-Five. I realized I was halfway through my thirties and I cried and cried. I'm from the generation that coined the phrase "Never trust anyone over thirty." Probably most of you don't even remember that but it seemed very profound at the time.

After that I got ok with getting older. You're only as old as you feel, 50 is the new 40, 60 is the new 50, blah blah blah. But this birthday was a milestone and it felt weird. I think of myself as middle aged and I'm not, not any more. I have grandchildren. And two great grandchildren.This picture was taken two years ago. Five generations. We didn't line up right as I should be next to my mother but I'm in the middle. In twenty years I'll be at the end of the line.

That's a scary.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Show and Tell

I really intended to post at least twice a week when I started this blog but Fall art show season is coming up and since I seem to have been in a fog this whole summer I've been super busy trying to get some new work finished.
Many thanks to all who came to the
reception at Four Seasons Art and Antiques in Homewood Friday night. These are my friends Julian and Cliff (sorry guys, the pic with your faces was out of focus) who are also artists. Here's Julian's beautiful work. I knew Cliff was a set designer but I just found out he also makes these amazing cakes. He made a wedding cake for Diana Ross. Really. He has the story of how that went on his website and you have to read it.

Julian sent me the nicest email the other day after reading this blog. It brightened up my whole day. So, people, if you're thinking something nice about someone, go ahead and tell them. It matters.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's A Nice Place to Visit.......

Now that I've been away for a week and have probably lost the few readers I had, it's time to start blogging again. I was visiting my daughter in Bryson City, North Carolina. Bryson City is a picturesque little town on the edge of the Smoky Mountains Park. If you love visiting the Park but find the Tennessee side too crowded, try it from the North Carolina side. This place has it all - mountains, trails, whitewater rivers, scenic roads with little traffic.

As much as I love this place, I wouldn't want to live here. I can say that because I did live here for a couple of years back at the turn of the century. Talk about peace and quiet - too much of a good thing.

I was here in 2000 and took a job as a census worker. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. I am not allowed under penalty of fines and/or prison to say anything about it but I can say that our training included what to do if you come across a survivalist compound and/or are threatened with a gun (back away and leave as fast as possible. Duh.) I have been up more one lane dirt roads in the mountains than I would have ever imagined existed anywhere. You pray you don't meet another car because there's no way to pass each other. Five miles hanging on the side of a mountain and at the top would be a trailer. See that mountain in the distance above? There's probably a trailer on top. I never could figure out how they got up there. Helicopters?

It was scary but I came to love it and couldn't wait to get started each day. Most people turned out to be kind and helpful ( "I wouldn't try and go up there if I was you") and I wished I could make a career out of asking random strangers personal questions.

If you do ever visit here don't miss tubing on Deep Creek in the Smokies. It is the most fun you'll ever have for $2.00 a day, which is what it costs to rent a tube. Also, if you are a treasure hunter or junker don't miss Fred's auction every Friday at 5:00. It's on the main highway at Almond and the official name is Almond Trading Post. It's one of those country auctions where it's mostly junk but anything could turn up. I've bought several pieces of majolica for less than $20, including a sugar bowl with a book value of $250 for $7.50. I also once bought a Rolliflex camera, mint in the box with a book value of $600 for $10. These things don't turn up often but it's a lot of fun and Fred is a hoot. Minimum bid is $2.00. Tell him the frizzy haired lady from Alabama sent you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Road Trip

I'm leaving tomorrow for a week long visit to my daughter in the North Carolina mountains. I always get so nervous before a long trip trying to think of everything I need to do before I go and everything I need to take with me. Like they don't have stores anywhere you go. A couple of years ago we were going down to Baton Rouge for an engagement party for my daughter and her fiance that his family was giving. It was a big deal. I had a special new dress and shoes I was going to wear and since the dress was on a hanger instead of the suitcase I was so afraid I was going to forget it. Well we got down there and I had the dress but had left my suitcase by the front door. I had nothing. No shoes, no clean underwear, no makeup, no jewelry, nothing. There was a Walmart next to the motel and in 30 minutes I replaced everything. It wasn't the same but it was better than nothing. So I went to the party in my designer dress and my Walmart shoes.

My other daughter is going with me, thank goodness. It's a long trip by yourself. I've done it many many times and 6 hours is a long trip. It'll be great to get away from this heat down here not to mention see my daughter whom I don't get to see nearly enough and all you people who move far away from home you don't know what you're doing to your mother. The official high today was 96 but my thermometer said it was 106. It's ten o'clock at night now and it's still hot outside.

I've got to go finish packing now. I'm getting more hyped up by the minute and will never get to sleep tonight which is great when you're trying to be on the road by six.

Stay cool.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Walk On The Wild Side

I want to tell you about what happened here summer before last. It's been two years but I still think about it every time I walk down this road, the road that goes past Ronnie's house and down by the lake.

Ronnie was the first one we heard the story from. He was working in his backyard when he had the feeling he was being watched. His dog was staring into the woods behind the house, the way dogs do when they see something they don't understand. Ronnie stood up and looked, seeing nothing at first. Then it moved and he saw it. It was a tiger.

Now Ronnie always has a good story to tell but if you could have heard him tell this story you would have been convinced too. And something had certainly put a long gash in his dog's shoulder. I was working part time at town hall as the water clerk at that time and about a week later a lady came in to pay her water bill and asked if we had heard about the tiger. Her friend who lived on fifth street (I live on third) had warned her to be careful because she had seen a tiger walking across the yards early one morning. Another week another lady, who lived in a more isolated area away from town, came in and said she thought there was a big cougar (Alabama doesn't officially have cougars either) around because she had seen big cat footprints in the dust on a table in her yard, and something had mauled her dog, which was in the fenced yard.

No one had reported losing a tiger but stories continued throughout the summer. Dogs killed by a big animal. Tracks in the mud around the lake. I personally talked to a LOT of people who had seen something.

Now you can imagine the excitement this caused. But then you'd be wrong because seeing a tiger in the Alabama woods is like reporting a UFO or a bigfoot sighting. Oh our little town was all a buzz but the Sheriff's department was not interested and referred calls to county animal control, who basically said, "What do you want us to do about it?" They referred people to Auburn University which has a department in charge of investigating unusual wildlife sightings. They did say they were aware of the problem and were looking for it. The story never made it to the news.

Where did it come from? The word was that a man who lived on several acres on the edge of town and was known to have some exotic animals, was the one who lost it and didn't report it because he didn't have a permit and would face stiff penalties for illegally possessing a wild animal. What happened? Nothing. The stories stopped when Winter came and as far as anyone knows it was never found. It may have been captured but that never made it to the news either. I certainly quit walking my dog down the road where it had been seen.

I wish I had a better conclusion for this story. But that's the way it goes; loose ends don't always get tied up neatly. An unfinished episode of life in our small town. I only wish I had seen it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

This OCD Life

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing to excess, that's what we always say. I read the other day that checking your email 50 times a day and/or surfing the web repeatedly is officially considered an addiction. We've always called it avoidance activity. (It's hard to work at home.) Another thing I've always done excessively is read the news. But you know what I did today? I took the News folder out of my bookmarks. I never thought I would be one of those people who say "I don't read the news because it's so depressing", but you know what? I'm not reading it anymore. It was the incident in Canada on the bus that did it. If you've read the news lately you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know, do not, I repeat, do not look it up.

JD made the illustration above with Comic Life and a pic he took with his webcam. We sit back to back at our computers where we frequently instant message each other instead of talking. I am not the neat one in this relationship. What I am saying in the cartoon is really hilarious because it's what my character in a video game, which is our second favorite avoidance activity, says every five minutes in her condescending English accent. It's Rainbow Six and this is her way of urging her fellow terrorist hunter to action. I guess you had to be there.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Neil's Garden

You know it's humid when moisture is condensing on the outside of the window. I just got back from a walk and it's like walking around with a blanket on your head today. But that's not what I was going to write about. This is what our neighbor brought over yesterday from his garden. Vegetables right from the garden are so different from what you buy in the store. Even the squash is good, really good, like something you would choose to eat, not just because you think you should.

Neil has to be the most thoughtful neighbor ever. A few weeks ago a storm was coming and the wind was blowing really hard. The tin roof on our shed out back was coming loose and flapping in the wind so Neil brought his ladder over and screwed the roof down so our stuff wouldn't get wet and didn't even say anything about it until about a week later. He does things like this all the time. He's offered to plow up a place for us to have a garden out back, which I would love, but JD does not want any more work to do in the yard and he doesn't think I will take care of it so that it looks neat enough due to the unfortunate episode with the tomato plants by the fence one year. He may be right but we have differing ideas about how the yard should look. I like things left in their natural form, overgrown if you will, while he likes to prune. He is always wanting to cut limbs off our little trees and trim the shrubbery.

But this is not about us, it's about good neighbors. Thanks Neil. I hope you see this.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When You're Wrong, You're Wrong; Or There's An Elephant In The Room

Let me begin by saying that we don't have a comfortable chair in the house and there's nothing in the budget for new furniture. So I saw this chair sitting in the driveway at a yard sale this weekend and it was really fat and comfy and the upholstery wasn't terrible and I thought I could slipcover it for that easy care rumpled look (I am not going to say shabby chic because that phrase is so overworked and makes me want to barf) so I bought it. JD went back with me to load it in the truck and I should have known I'd made a mistake when it filled up the truck bed. And he hated it. Then we had to open the double doors to get it in the house. No, I'm not going to leave it in front of the doors. Yes, that is a 50 pound pail of spackling sitting behind it. I need a photo stylist. That green sofa it's next to? that's a huge sofa. We can't even get it up the staircase. But this monster chair dwarfs it. I cannot imagine anything this chair would look right with. It's like a prop from Honey I Shrunk the Kids. It just didn't look that big sitting all by itself in the driveway. Now what do I do? Give it away and cut my losses or throw more money at it and buy material, possibly camouflage, for a slipcover? Can I find a place where it will be all by itself so it doesn't look quite so ridiculous? I do so need a comfortable chair.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Art is Hard

This is what I would like to do with this painting. I've been working on this @$#%& painting for two weeks off and on, and it just won't come together. What seemed like a daring composition now just seems wrong. Parts of it seem stiff and pasted on. I can't trash it because I've put too much time into it but the more I put into it the worse it gets. I should be working on something else and let this one simmer but here's the thing: I HAVE NO IDEAS. I have 3 shows to do this fall and I have nothing.

I go through this a few times a year and I just have to keep telling myself it will pass and I'll have some ideas and the work will start flowing again. But these blank times are so hard. It's hard to work from home anyway, and I don't even have any little kids around. It's sounds great. No fighting traffic, no commute time, no one to notice if you're late or if you take a two hour lunch - but it takes so much discipline and that I don't have. The two hour lunch turns into three hours and then there's a load of laundry you need to do RIGHT NOW, and the dog really could use a bath and the flowers need to be watered and I need to check my email about 20 times a day because you never know when you're going to get something really important and first thing you know you're working ten to four. With two hours off for lunch. Anybody that has to go to an office every day will probably hate me but, I NEED SOME PLACE TO GO TO EVERY MORNING.
This is where I would like to have my studio. It's next door and it looks like a jail in this picture but it has burglar bars because it used to be a store, one of the first stores in town; the people we bought it from said it was over a hundred years old. It's kind of charming inside; it has the old board walls and a pine floor. I just can't justify the cost of heating and cooling it when we have so much room in the house. Heat I could do without, air conditioning is not optional. Maybe one day.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I just found out about something really cool. Actually I heard about it some time ago but only last night got around to joining the group. First let me say that JD has a woodworking shop where he builds custom furniture. So we have a lot of wood scraps and bags of sawdust which we have been leaving for the trashman. Ok I confess; we burned the wood scraps (this is the country; you can do that) and feeling oh so guilty. I would have loved to have saved them because I am a packrat and save everything but there was no way. So like I said, last night I joined the local group of Freecycle and today I had three people wanting the wood, and one person wanting the sawdust! Wanting bags of sawdust! I feel so green.

This is such a great idea if you have something insanely heavy like a sofa bed you don't want to move or, say, boxes and boxes of magazines. Which is what I'm going to try to unload next.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer Idyll - Mulberry River

We live very close to two beautiful free flowing rivers - the Mulberry and the Locust Fork. I wish I could say we spend a lot of time here but the truth is we don't. Seems like it's hard to catch the river at just the right time. Either it's so low the water is still and warm as bathwater, or it's at flood stage. I am totally faking the swimming thing here as the water is only about knee deep. That's my dog in the water with me. Bear loves the water. He has a big fluffy tail that is apparently waterproof because he swims and swims and it never looks wet.

I've had Bear for seven years now and he is the first dog I have owned since I was six. Unlike many people in the country, I keep him in a fenced yard. So every morning I take him, on a leash, for a long walk. Apparently this is a novel concept around here as I am known as that lady who walks her dog. I have actually been introduced as "you know, she's the one that walks the dog." He's really fluffy and has dark patches on his tongue as he is part chow. Don't ever say the word "chow" to an insurance man. It is not a plus when you're trying to get homeowner's coverage.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wild Roses

This is one of my few gardening successes. I think they've tapped into the septic tank. The first year we were here I dug up a couple of wild roses from the edge of a road and it's a good thing I did because they were sprayed with herbicide the next year and killed. These bloomed the second year but then the next three years they were struck with some kind of killer mildew that caused the buds to fall off, even with diligent spraying. Almost lost the flowers this year but then I tried Neem Oil, which is an organic product but still apparently deadly as it requires a hazmat suit, gloves and goggles to use, and managed to save them. Why is everything so hard? For Pete's Sake they're WILD roses.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Walking the Line

No, that's not me. I would never walk on the tracks. In fact, until I was about 8 years old I was scared to death of trains. If the car had to stop for a train I would lie down in the back seat and cover my head until it passed. JD took this picture of a photographer friend of his while they were waiting in the tunnel to get a shot of the train coming in. I don't think I would do that either.
Our little town grew up around the train station, which is long gone. But until the late 1960's you could still take the train to Birmingham. People around here could easily get to the city to shop, or visit friends, or go to school at one of the colleges. I think about that a lot because it sure would be nice to have that option now.
The passenger train stopped running and the interstate missed here by five miles and one by one the businesses closed. Most of the old buildings and the cotton gin and the gristmill were torn down. Now there's only one actual business in the city limits. But nobody moved away. Like in a lot of rural areas their families had been here since the area was settled, before Alabama was a state. Since the time Andrew Jackson was fighting the Indians.
So here we are today in this little town that isn't really a town anymore. But in a way it's like Mayberry (without any stores) because everybody knows everybody, or at least knows who they are. And who they're related to (everyone in some way). But people here are kind and friendly and we've never felt like outsiders. So we like it here a lot but I wish it looked more like a town.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Old Rock Church

We had always said, "Wouldn't it be great to find an old church or something like that we could make into our house? Something in good condition that just needed mainly painting and decorating? A place where we could have lots of light and open space?" We forgot to add, "and not anywhere near a railroad track."

So, five years ago we saw this place for sale. It was perfect. Except for one thing - across the road is the railroad track. There's an open space there where the train station once stood. The train wouldn't be so bad but there's an intersection and they blow the horn repeatedly and let me tell you up close that horn is LOUD. So we thought about it for about a month then decided we would learn to live with it. Nothing is ever really perfect so since I'm an artist and needed studio space, JD builds custom furniture and needed shop space and the old post office next door came with it, and the price was really right, we bought it.

It was built in the 1920's as the Masonic Lodge. More recently it had been used as a church. Originally it was two big rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. The Masons met downstairs and the Eastern Star met upstairs.There was no interior staircase, the ladies came in by the back stairs outside. The church added an interior staircase and divided the upstairs into three rooms, and added a bathroom and kitchen area, also upstairs. So we decided the upstairs would be our living area, our downtown loft so to speak, and I would have my studio downstairs, with lots of room left over for - well, just for room. Unfortunately, all my before pictures of the inside were lost in a tragic computer accident but here's the living room today.

All the pine floors were covered with commercial carpet which was glued down, all over. The glue couldn't be sanded off because it was too gummy and we didn't want to sand them with a floor sander anyway and lose all the patina. We wanted them to look old. We experimented with different solvents and found that plain old household ammonia would take the glue off with lots of patient scraping and scrubbing with hot water and a scrub brush. I think it took the better part of a year to clean the floors, working on a small area at a time. Of course all that hot water caused the wood to feel fuzzy so I sanded them by hand. With a sanding block. It really didn't take that long. I think I did it in a day. And afterwards we polyurethaned them and they didn't need stain, and we kept all the flaws and they look great. And OLD

I think that's enough for my first post. I wish I could have started this blog when we first moved here but we could only get dial-up plus I didn't know anything about blogs. I've enjoyed other people's so much I wanted to do one of my own about my life. I've had one about my painting for a few years but I wanted one where I could write about anything. So thanks for finding me and thank you AT&T for finally bringing DSL to our corner of the world.
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