My next Lake Living article will be coming with some “Messages from the Treehouse”. Be sure to follow Druid City Living when you come to Tuscaloosa for the most current event information and community news.
Here are a few of the past articles about Lake Living.
This morning, I learned a little lesson about THINGS.
This comes ironically the day AFTER I snapped a pic of a thick glass bowl full of treasures and trinkets. They were the topic of an article I had just written in Druid City Living, the little paper I love to write for in my “Lake Living” Column.
The things were mostly meaningless without the story behind them, from places known and some I have to admit, unclear. My curious kitten sent the bowl crashing to my desk in a thunderous plunk and a pile of mess just where I was typing.
Until now, it sat on my windowsill between me and the sunshine. I glance at it now and then, remembering the times my babies (now grown) gnawed on a small melodic, silver rattle. It is nestled among feathers gathered from my parakeets and chickens as well as sheddings from gulls and a bluebird. It is accented by dried leaves, bright orange rock fragments from North Carolina, a golf tee and marker from Mountaintop, a small Bible with a magnifying glass tucked in the back cover that I got as a child. Sand dollars, some broken, some glued to a piece of wood. Sticks, mostly in shapes that spoke to me while I meandered a labyrinth with my best friend just before brain cancer sent her to a better place.
The slow motion movement from the bowl and the twice as fast dart of the cat is still engrained in my mind. A reminder that we can contain our things, but life still has a way of breaking our concentration, unleashing what is important.
I yelled at the cat, I screamed out loud. I watched in horror as he scrambled to the floor, then spoke aloud, “What is MY DEAL?”
Somehow, instead of cleaning it up, I ended up in my closet FILLED with trinkets, books and treasures. I sat on the floor. I took out a box I have carried around since I discovered it in the back of my mother’s closet. A glimpse into the life of the uncle I would never know, killed at age 18 in World War Two. Without his death my mother would have never been adopted. I would have never been. I snapped this pic of the box, the pic of, he, his mother and his sister at the time, before my mother was even a thought. The envelope returned to sender with the words “Missing in Action”.
I resolved today that things should either be displayed, shared (as in a museum) for some purpose, or TOSSED. I cringe at the third option. I used to rummage for hours in the upstairs rooms of my grandparent’s abandoned home. They closed it up, left every thing there after Allen died. What remained were things such as this chair, these photo albums, items of someone’s glorious yesterdays, avoided, forgotten.
I scraped up the tiny shards of glass only after snapping a pic of the pile too. I could not deny that there was beauty among that mess as well. This pile of glass reminded me, even on my desk, of tiny grains of Alabama Gulf Coast beach sand where I collected so many of these things.
As I sorted to add them to a “non-breakable” plastic topped box I remembered some of the places I had stopped to snatch these things: a rock in a creek bed in Norcross, Georgia at a horse farm; a butterfly I vowed to wear in my hair if we bought it in Ashville, NC; A crystal ornament I couldn’t pack away at Christmas; a lock of my daughter’s blonde hair tied in mesh; shale looking items and sticks from the beach (because those are more rare there than shells); a paper American flag; a cork from our first anniversary.
We may think things will make us happy. Yes, these did, somehow, but they cannot replace the memories of the moments that go with them.
I culled a few shells. Perfect, hand picked, store bought shells I rescued from our beach house the week before my mother sold it with everything in it. I also took the less perfect ones I would often add to her “decor” collection, remembering the coolness of the water on my feet as I would search for them at the water’s edge. She probably doesn’t remember what catalog she bought those from. But I remember every creak, every uneven tile in the beach house floor when I look at these. I remember the home of my childhood that proceeded the newer version. The sleeping porch, the spiral stair, the wood balconies. The humming of my grandmother, the unusual softness of my grandfather’s fingers as he swirled his cane while rocking in his rocker. All of those memories simply triggered by a large rock my daughter, now 20, painted on a day when it was too cold to go outside when we lived there along the water’s edge in Gulf Shores. (We would also paint hermit crabs and release them in the bay across the street). I am pleased to discover I do draw a limit in my treasure collection.
Which brings me back to the lesson of things. None of these were elaborate gifts, jewels or shiny treasures. Even the rattle is coated in black. They are mere triggers for the memories that I hold dear.
I could toss them. But for now, I’ll just move them to a safer place. After all, the article I wrote just before this one was all about USING your treasures, making them a part of your every day life.
Looks like I’ll just have to keep the cat out of the china closet, because if I have it, I’m gonna start using it and quit saving it for that someday that might just never come.
Have a blessed, wonderful happymess ~memory making life!
Click the link to experience the ducks, sailboats and all of the reasons I love Lake Tuscaloosa, while
sharing my love of blogging and writing
and my interest in photography (Listings on my site will have creative, enhancing photos to amplify all of the great memories and experiences within your home)
my love for grilling on the lake watching the Alabama Crimson Tide (for Bama fans, fewer Auburn colors on THIS year-round water lake)
my interest in writing ~ I want to paint the scene with words to help capture the personality of the place
my interest in social media ~ I will continue to feed fun and important posts to the REALTOR FACEBOOK page
my vow to promise to help people understand the value of what they are selling and buying based on actual MLS REALTOR data and not some “formula” concocted from entries. ACRE is right here in Tuscaloosa with monthly reports on trends and all things Real Estate related.
hoping to help YOU SELL YOUR HOME in these areas to those searching from computers nationwide FOR LAKEFRONT PROPERTY (let us show you the monthly printouts of who is looking at Lake Tuscaloosa, from New York to California).
Are they finding YOUR home? Or is it lost in the shuffle?
We make it easy to find information- if looking for lake property ANYWHERE IN THE SOUTHEAST, it’s there on LAKEHOMES.com.
We make it fun to find your spot on the lake. My office is on Lake Tuscaloosa so you can also view the property by water to get a better idea of the location from town and where you want to be.
You can simply text me an address to my phone (205 NINE one FOUR ~twenty four hundred) and within an hour I usually can send you a full report on the property. I take phone calls and emails as well, but TEXT is the quickest way for a response. My clients can (ok almost, I do sleep) always find me.
As a member of MLS, the National Association of REALTORS, The Alabama Association of REALTORS and our local board I can get access on properties across the state.
I have a strong presence on other WEBSITES in Real Estate.
Find my profile info alongside homes for sale by searching in 35406 or 35473
I can assure you if I can’t find information on the property you are interested in I will probably just knock on the door!
I hope you will pass my information along to anyone considering buying or selling a lake home.
I can’t wait to work with you or someone you know!
Yes, I get it all the time. Wait? Are you that Realtor? That Artist?
“No, I don’t think so,” a fellow acquaintance told someone recently,” she writes for that newspaper.”
I was once told, “If you don’t pick ONE thing you are never going to be successful.”
I see that person now has actually drifted from that one profession into a few of the ones they said I “dabbled” in.
I believe that we are ALL created differently. I get it that many do NOT understand the many faces I wear. It is the way I have lived my whole life, involved to the core, even as a young mom although that span involved fewer “career-like” activities and were more activities such as juggling babies, Jr. League, book clubs, smocking groups and volunteer boards while working.
Over the years I have watched my interests develop and deepen. I now feel that if I didn’t do them all, I would be cutting off a part of me.
They say (we can get away with that as gospel here in the South~ “they” are all powerful) if you are frustrated late in your career, take your mind and heart back to those days, just about age 5-10 (before the world influenced your desires, curiosities and interests) and THAT my friend is who you have always wanted to be.
For me as a child, I loved lining my little sister and friends up on the sofa with worksheets I created and playing teacher. (We also served food through the kitchen window on roller skates so hey, I guess you would say that is my back up plan!)
I loved singing in front of a fat red tape recorder with five black buttons, knowing I sounded nothing like Olivia Newton John but belting her songs anyway, my sister sneaking up to make fun of me. My dad taught me to wire a four component stereo when I was nine. That has served me well as electronics are more cool to me than diamonds. (and to ride motocross before my toes could touch the ground on a Honda 50).
I loved the Sears catalog, dog eared pages marking lime green shag, bean bags and paint colors for me to decorate the play house with. (I resorted to a wooden fort with no walls with access from the trampoline below).
I loved painting, my first class probably in second grade and I still remember the foreground exercise we did. My huge brown, barren tree hanging from a cliff in the front left corner with cotton fields in the background.
I loved writing. I have journals from each and every moment of my life (yes Mendy, you can have those and burn as you see fit). Honesty (at least from my perspective) has always been my downfall. Perhaps some editing and censor would have done me well all these years.
In college I took Real Estate Investing. I majored in Interior Design at BAMA (remember the playhouse decorating? Sometimes the interests stick) and did commercial design for banking and medical clients for ten years. Bama’s was one of the few to be FIDER accredited. I am a state licensed and registered Interior Designers in the State (#250) Finding this coming in handy as I work on specializing in handicap accessible properties in the Tuscaloosa Area as well as in Staging Homes for Sale.
I got my Real Estate license over twenty years ago, motivated by men at the hunting camp discussing a land deal. The words still ring in my memory, “these girls grandparent died and they have no clue what it is worth. I think we can make some money on this one.” That day I vowed to know more than the vultures of the world, hoping to never become those young girls who probably lost that family farm on the outskirts of town. Today I LOVE helping people find a home. I can see the possibilities as they discuss their dreams. We talk about design tweaks here and there that could fulfill them. This month, the small town, traditional company I started here with, transgressed into a new national office. I was offered an opportunity to be a part of Lake Homes Realty, specializing in Lake Homes, particularly Lake Tuscaloosa.
And so, enough reminiscing. I have been quite busy this summer and have a few projects under the belt. Thought I would share them on this, my “almost 50th year of life”- But NOT YET! I’m a Taurus (go figure you say) so I can still say I am barely 49.
Here I introduce the babies I have created with my many faces.
They are each a part of me and I still have some more to get out there:
I love to learn. This from a workshop with Kellie Newsome.
Face 1: MOM
Lets not forget that. Birthing three little beings is quite the face to wear! So proud of each of them!)
(I’ll know when my brilliant one who is going into marketing finds this post. And YES that was our Tiffen RV in the background…had to retire it after a neighborhood pile in on the way to the ice cream shop in Mt. Brook turned into a “crap what is with the brakes” episode! Just sayin!) We went from Harley Davidson to this so hey, I thought it was a safe decision!
Paintings are now on the new SHOPIFY site and ready for purchase~
Click here to see the paintings waiting to come HOME to YOU!
What can I say? I don’t proclaim to know it all, but I sure have fun with my Friday paint group helping them bust out of their “I can’t do art” shell! It makes me SMILE.
Lover of Christmas. And JESUS as the reason for that holiday.
The book I wrote a few years ago is now on Amazon and Lulu.com as a coloring book. Who knew all these adults color!? Either way, this is the year I was determined to remind everyone that JESUS IS CHRISTmas.
Yes, that WAS our first tree in the new house in Birmingham, stood two stories and took our neighbors help to get it into the doors, after discovering it at the local tree farm in Griswold fashion and dragging it behind a not so short Acadia.
Fan and lover of the Alabama Crimson Tide and all things Southern.
A “younger” BEAR and an attempt at a watercolor shotgun. (Do you KNOW that acrylic and watercolor are TOTAL OPPOSITES? Watercolor you start soft and build up your darks. Acrylic, you put in your DARKS and add in with lighter colors and highlights. TRY it sometime! Really! If you want to stretch your brain! That will do it. Forget hours in front of TV.
I have been blessed with the Lake Living Column at Druid City Living where each month I create another reason to be thankful for looking at Lake Tuscaloosa as home every day.
I take writing seriously and have written cover stories for Southern Beauty Magazine about LeAnn Rimes, Emily Procter the mom of Princess Lea on Star Wars who told the publicist,”She was the most thorough interviewer I have talked to, and funny”. Well everyone REALLY did want to know ALL the juicy details and with a “story like mine (the square for all who know)” I had an IN.
I am a member of SCBWI and love meeting other authors and illustrators. Birmingham has one of the GREATEST chapters so if you are interested in that, by all means come to a conference! I have written and illustrated books and have had illustrations in other books (Birmingham Sketchbook) which I wrote the 2400 word history of Birmingham. What about THAT challenge. That’s a lot of history in a few words!
Did I forget photographer? I never thought of it as a job, but the kids will tell me I have stumbled in holes, held them up from catching the train because I was lingering behind to get a great shot while on a trip. You can find many of those (download, buy on canvas, notecards) in my new
This one is the most important to me to share as it includes hundreds of photos from my travels around the world to the things I discover in the back yard. These are now available for media download, on canvas and prints.
And music? I love to karaoke a good Dixie Chicks tune and have written a few songs in my rebellion phase that are recorded, but I pass the gavel for that to my son who is pursuing a grad degree in music at University of North Texas and the teachers assistant for Pat Coil (keyboardist for Michael McDonald)- who doesn’t love a kid who does Jazz and is trained by a Doobie? Charli is in Nashville and just recorded a song she wrote (is working on an album and was just on a video by the BAND PERRY.
I am seeing a bit of me in Brent. He can live for a day in his studio and not come out. He creates classes online to make it easy for others to learn to play by ear. He has taken my RIGHT BRAIN LEFT BRAIN dance to the next level…responsible, driven, focused. (and reminds me..MOM..FOCUS, but he gets the swirl of different vantage points.
I am a bit creative and flighty but I also love to be organized, thus the Creative Journal and Planner (crazy isn’t it? I am all over the place and like to be focused, goal oriented and organized). I have been working on it since my last name had an M in it. It is finally DONE, less some tweaks.
I am sharing it with you here so you can preview it. It is the ONE week journal and the ONE Month Journal and Planner which promises to have you BALANCE your day and start it with God’s word. *Disclaimer~ I am NOT and never WILL be perfect, but every day I wake up just like you to TRY to do better than yesterday.
Wow, getting it all out there, after many days lying in my bed feeling lost, worthless and tired of trying to push things around that were never seeming to make headway feels surreal.
I don’t know when or where it all happened but it is like the 50 year mark has been testing me.
I feel SO much better now that our BFF’s that we go to see in North Carolina, that I paint with and adore and who work out with Chad are 90 and (70ish). Sorry that is NOT gonna be changing..if I exercise its probably the S thing, running from someone or dancing while about to have a heart attack thinking I am looking sexy on a dance floor somewhere..but NOT spending my time on a treadmill (unless someone has one of those walking computer desks, hey I might be DOWN for that) the kids remind me that it is NOT “up for that”…when did they start changing the rules!?
And after reading Esquire’s One Hundredth issue, I retract my “almost fifty” and say instead (learning that life is all in your attitude and perception)……
I’m actually in my VERY latest forties~
And THAT is what I intend to embrace today!
I also know LOTS of prayer (years of journaling with the same prayer requests) has kept me moving forward.
2016 I am praying is the year for the cocoon to burst into life.
No matter what I am doing, I won’t be doing anything I don’t enjoy, that’s for sure.
Life is too short to live on other people’s definitions and terms.
It’s mine to live the way I choose.
I choose to wear and share all my faces.
Blessings to you in finding who you are and living it to the CORE!
We might just be developing some workshops to help you do that! Hey let me call my support group (you know who you are!) so we can collaborate.
Any other ENTJ’s out there? Come to find out, my husband, son and I are all that…ENTJ. Look it up the odds are crazy for that.
Can’t wait to see what YOU do with whats inside. LET it out. YOU have the ONLY SET OF FINGERPRINTS ON THE ENDS OF THOSE FINGERS…EMBRACE THAT. YOU are here for a reason. YOU are specially made. Let all of the gems you have to offer out. Don’t treat me like a pinterest pin…just know..I have struggled for YEARS with all of this. And even my songs are stupid…but guess what..they are mine..I captured them in a little studio in Foley with a crazy ass person who could put them to vinyl in an hour (otherwise I would have gotten distracted). But they were MY feelings and thoughts. They were songs I had to get out and the time.THAT is what you have to understand. Do it all FOR YOU. NO-one else.
I can’t explain how it is finally blossoming, bursting forth. I am just thankful it is…as I was just on the verge of GIVING IN.
Feeling creative? My creativity journal will help you make BABY steps to discover it…let it out. Message me and I will send you one FREE. We all need to discover who we are and who we were made to be.
This Poll will be up for a week~ Let me know what you think!
The lake outside my window has taken on a whole new life. Mother nature has dumped gallons of water across the Southeast, making us all take notice of the power of water.
Here on the lake, not only is the beauty, the million dollar homes, the leisurely lifestyles and the fishermen who flock here the focus, but so is the quality of the water and the love for nature shown by those who will gather in the next weeks to clean her shores.
Water brings with it the gift of life. The stored treasure beyond my yard fuels our children, quenches Tuscaloosa athletes, bathes us as we prepare for each day. It flows freely from the lake to filtering systems to our faucets. We work to conquer our little empires, meet our goals, and work to afford vacations to other waterfronts across the world.
As we gathered over burgers on the back porch, the value of that water we take for granted took on new meaning. I learned of groups from local churches venturing to Haiti and the Dominican Republic 6-8 times a year, carrying water filters into the hillsides where families with million dollar views live in three dollar shacks with no clean water. Each year 3.4 million people die from water related illnesses, almost the number for the entire city of Los Angeles.
A group there worked with Church of the Highlands to hike into the jungle, going door to door in Voodoo country taking 600 free filters to families. Volunteers visit each home, placing water filled with mud into the filters and and out comes water that the team drinks in front of them.
On a particular trip, a mother had recently passed after giving birth. Four other children remained with a father, who was terminally ill. The team took him to the hospital for treatment and has arranged for the children to be taken care of.
“The needs are so great,” a local participant said. “We cannot do it all, we know that. But it is like those starfish that you throw in the ocean. Some of them DO make it back. We return as often as we can to find those starfish.”
There are teams working on adding space in their building there to take in children who are orphaned and have nowhere to go. They also are sponsoring children for school. Education is the key to their escaping this life.
I recently met a sweet girl who ran the Mini Cooper tour business there. Twenty four, bright, educated, but unable to ever leave the country. We offered to host her here. She now has a baby and will probably never leave.
As I stand on the hillside and look out across the Caribbean beauty on a recent vacation with my family, it is hard to express what hides among the hills with the best views.
It is this groups goal to find each one and bring them the fountain of life that we here in America expect to simply drip from our faucet, straight from our freshwater lakes.
I!f you are interested in learning how to get involved, contact email@example.com or visit your local church to find a trip you can be a part of! www.churchofthehighlands.com has a number of ministries across the world for you or your child.
I like to focus on lake topics, bringing ideas of nature to your mailbox in Druid City Living Newspaper in the Lake Living Column each month. This month, I’m writing about a challenge that applies to many of us: how to have a beautiful garden.
Rule one: Sun is required. I have discovered that the raised garden at our new home is in the shade most of the day. I wish I had realized that last year when…
I planted seeds that yielded tiny, Barbie-sized squash and melons, dangling from nearly brown stems.
Another issue is water. We have irrigation, but last year I watered in the late afternoon because, well, I am not a morning person. Keep disease at bay by watering in morning.
I am not yet a gardener, but I am a newly adopted member of the Ceres Garden Club. This week, I received two Knock Out Rose bushes from Peggy Babbs, after a meeting in her magical rose garden. The month before, Renee Holloman with Holloman Farms shared her expertise on Daylily plants. Later, a sweet neighbor gave me more “divisions” from her yard. This week, Wayne Ford, a former County Extension agent cheered us on with helpful hints.
I have been told that the largest hurdle, besides the rock that lies less than four inches below my “grassy looking stuff,” is the deer. I discovered there are some pretty plants the deer are not fond of, including burgundy blanket flower, verbena, butterfly weed, globe thistle, Jacob Cline bee balm, butterfly bush, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, thyme and crepe myrtle. If deer concern you, fence in the plants, or use bone tar oil.
While trying to “keep up with the Ceres,” I’ve been reading The Impatient Gardener by Jerry Baker. It has some amazing tricks for those of us who are “horticulturally challenged.” Who knew plants love beer and dishwater? (They help to keep flowers disease-free). I didn’t clarify how much left over beer is too much. Proceed with caution.
All of this new information inspired me. I rushed to Lowe’s, bought two green planters, soil, fertilizer, two rose “topiary style” trees with mixed color, grabbed a multi-mix basket of flowing verbena and petunias and began planting (after a stop to get the important part, beer). After planting two Knock Out Rose bushes, daylilies, and putting seeds in pots that I had started last month after the first Ceres meeting (it’s how I roll), I sat hunkered under a fluffy blanket, serenaded by the waterfalls as they deliver the overflow from recent storms to the lake. Lightening bugs flickered. A red bird swooped into a tree. A bat hovered as I dodged mosquitos. One by one, I noticed more stars. I was overcome with the stillness.
Genesis 1:29-30: “Then God said, ‘Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as good for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground – everything that has life.’”
Nature is for all of us. May we all come to find our little slice of Heaven. For now, I am starting with the slice I can possibly conquer: The deck!
Disclaimer: if you burn up your plants with beer and soap, don’t blame me, I’ll be right there with you. But if it works, tell the neighbors I told you so!
I was given the opportunity to write a column (and articles) for a local community paper here in Tuscaloosa called Druid City Living. Watch for it in your mailbox each month. It can be found online at Druidcityliving.com. I share a few of the articles here to quench your thirst. Hoping to have you hooked on all things about the lake and Tuscaloosa (Northport) Lake Living. Allison
There is something magical about nature.
Step out of the car after a long day and get a glimpse of a lake, a stream, or a tree in bloom and watch your cares drop away, at least for that moment.
Here in Tuscaloosa, residents have the opportunity to enjoy year round access to the Black Warrior River, Lake Tuscaloosa and nature at every turn.
I moved to Lake Tuscaloosa from Birmingham in May 2013 after 10 years as a writer, artist and realtor. Birmingham has a couple of great community papers and magazines, some which I have written for. When I saw Druid City Living, I was excited. I begged for a chance to share all I love about living on Lake Tuscaloosa.
It is my goal in this monthly column to write about unique activities that take place on and around the 177 miles of shoreline and the banks of local rivers and streams. Alabama boasts football, but we are also home to the greatest freshwater biodiversity in the nation. Combine that with mountains and sandy beaches and you have to puff up a bit when realizing this place is pretty spectacular.
For this column, we welcome your stories, big catch photos, and look forward to interviewing those who make the waterfront their home. We will feature activities that take place on the lake.
In my four or so years as a Bama student some years ago I crossed the spillway, but never explored the lake. I grew up near here in West Alabama (Livingston) and married on Lake Tuscaloosa. The intimate cabin at NorthRiver Yacht Club was to be the site before it became an extravaganza suited for the crystal room with 12 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. To say it is ironic that I will retire here with my husband of 10 years would be an understatement. I lived on the beach for four years. Before moving here, I lived in Crestline and we had a home on Lake Martin. Residents here may not recognize the unique, quiet, non-fluctuating treasure nestled in our own backyard. I’ll try my best not to share this with those in Birmingham who haven’t realized this is far better and closer than Lake Martin.
In the winter at Lake Martin, the water level drops significantly due to Alabama Power fluctuations. Here, I can barely see a change. Year round, when bizarre warm weather rolls across the cliffs, we could slip out on the water, or at least put our toes in at the dock.
There are dozens of neighborhoods that call the lakeside home and a number of rural areas that keep her shores wild with deer and turkey. Just down the street from me is a parcel of land I dream of with a barn, acreage and water frontage. A stone’s throw from there is a public island ready for anyone to pop a tent and have a campfire and across the road, a quaint planned development with a shared pool and public boat docks. Cliff tops boast million-dollar refuges just beyond this tranquil spot. All of this is surrounded by Northport’s treasured artsy cuisine spots and convenient to grocery stores. It is less than 12 minutes (five miles north) from downtown Tuscaloosa’s great restaurants and shops.
Make it a priority to get outside and soak in nature, whether in the woods or around any water.
Blessings as we head into boating season. I’m looking forward to sharing your memories, both past and those you make this summer.
I recently watched the PBS Special on Muscle Shoals. It reminded me of the diamonds we have here in Alabama, in terrain, beautiful cities, country lanes, beaches and mountains, and then there is the music. Watching acts like Bono, The Almann Brothers and the Stones talk about the “magic” in Alabama almost brought tears to my eyes.
I got the same feeling recently when I got to hear Chuck Leavell speak his heart about music and forestry in the South.
Chuck was guest speaker at the Savannah Book Festival, which I was able to read at during the Ossabaw Island Writer’s Retreat. His love for forestry won my heart. He and his wife share a special bond of love for nature and forest landowner as a profession as well as stewardship for the US..
By Allison Adams
Chuck Leavell is no stranger to America. World tour keyboardist for he Rolling Stones, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award winner for work with the Almann Brother’s Band and in recent years, Chuck has been pianist on John Mayer albums, with Eric Clapton and even Miranda Lambert. He is also no stranger to Tuscaloosa, where he grew up after moving here at the age of nine. Many remember his band, the Misfitz, who performed on Friday nights at the YMCA just blocks away from The Bama Theatre when Chuck was back in town on November 8 with the Randall Bramblett Band to play a benefit concert for the Bama Theatre Restoration Fund.
The vibe was electric as Chuck sang a few Rolling Stones favorites and his originals. From the balcony to the stage, fans sang along. His fingers were in overdrive on songs like “Jessica” and the communication between him and fans in the audience resembled that of “coming home.”
Chuck and his wife, Rose Lane, who have been married more than 40 years, greeted guests, old friends and chatted with some new fans after the show while he showcased his newest passion, writing.
His latest, “Growing A Better America,” was showcased at the Savannah Book Festival. Songwriters such as John Denver, Jackson Browne and bands like U2 have been singing to the world about global issues, and like these, Chuck and his wife live out their message. They live on Charlane Plantation, 2,500 acres outside of Macon, Georgia, that were left to his wife by her parents. After years paying inheritance taxes to “buy back what was theirs,” they vowed to have it as a self-sustaining property. They have won numerous awards through the state of Georgia for their research and stewardship, and Chuck has been made an honorary Ranger.
“Growing A Better America” highlights his research and ideas to make more productive in developing our greatest asset, land, with examples of projects that “do it right”. As a Georgia resident, it concerns him that the state is losing 19,000 acres of natural land a year. He has co-founded Mother Nature Network with 222,000 followers on Facebook.
In recent months in Alabama, a “secret” private investor acquired 73,000 acres of prime timberland mainly used now for hunting and timber surrounding Birmingham. Perhaps that will remain green but who is to say? Unless we all take heart, we too may find ourselves without green places to roam.
Alabama has the third most timberland acreage (22.9 million acres/ nearly 68% of the total land area) behind only Georgia and Oregon, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission. Being one of the only states with navigable waters that flow to the Gulf, there are also logistical advantages.
Alabama is in the forefront for reforestation (begun in Alabama by pioneer E.F. Allison with Allison Lumber Company in Bellamy) as well as game management tactics he devised to assure that dwindling populations would turn into the boom of deer populations we see today. Timber expansion in Alabama is ahead of removal by 23 percent with 1.1 million acres since 1978 when numbers were at 650,000 acres according to amazingalabama.com.
In Alabama, everyone has the opportunity to experience the woods, aspire to own land and cultivate the green space that God has given us. If we each, according to Chuck, just consider our individual carbon footprint we can make great strides in the right direction. To learn more about Chuck’s book or his endeavors, find him at chuckleavell.com or charlane.com.
Author Allison Adams is a forest landowner, photographer/writer and Realtor with Duckworth Morris in Tuscaloosa. http://www.allisonpadams.com
Photo credit: Allison Adams
Ed and Fred designed the guitar straps for the Rolling Stones.
My son, Brent, is a music major in the New College at Bama with an emphasis in Production.
I have always been a seminar junkie. Even in high school I would read every Zig or Robbins book I could get my hands on. In college I went to classes I wasn’t enrolled in. At Mississippi State where my husband was enrolled, I attended forestry tours, control burns.
I am now addicted to the world of cyber seminars. Every week in my email box, a new adventure somewhere that is going to help me “burst into my creative being” or “make those seventy figures”.
Last week for two weeks straight (I missed two of the ten live sessions) the Right Brain Business Plan created by Jennifer Lee and conducted from her home office took place in “my office”.
I was coached (ok me and about three hundred from Canada to Australia) by nearly a dozen experts who have found their niche in the “webinar world”. My head was spinning each day as I attempted to apply their logic and creative “quirks”. Each had molded their thumbprints into something they could identify and sell to the world.
I am a creative, but I am also an ENTJ.
A planner, a long range thinker.
I can brainstorm an event like there is no tomorrow down to the color of the napkins, but the step by step? I need a few friends for that. Luckily (as I found as part of the committee for Bark in the Park) There is a way to make right brain thinking work! I threw out ideas…we formed a committee for that! Twelve to fifteen minds each week dreaming and planning then people stepping up to implement! Wow….right brain HEAVEN.
I even designed a website for the event~ A skill that came about when someone wanted to charge me $3000 to “build me a website”. Ok, mine is not perfect, but it has stretched me and brought me to another level of skills that are NOT worth $3000 in my opinion. At some point, you have to know how to input your writing anyway.
After the two weeks of sessions. If you have any interest in going to the next level with your blogging, writing, artistic licensing, Jennifer Lee can show you the way. Her guest speakers shared great tips and personal stories~
Alicia Forest who offers business entrepreneur coaching says to make our “own million in art”…… “just get it out there”.
Cory Huff with the Abundant Artist talked about Tumblr for serious artists (as if we don’t have enough to figure out how to use- but he knows ART and I can bet if he says “the serious galleries are there”…THEY ARE).
Susan Miller, a southerner, shared her intuitive painting creativity coaching insight. And those were only a few of the nuggets gathered.
(click their names to get to some of their infinite wisdom~ my head is still swimming as each week I get an email blast).
Kelly Rae Roberts, who has nothing to do with this particular event, I have followed for some time. She was one of the first to license her work. I even saw her printed canvases of her painted girls with side cocked heads and her abstracted birds in my hometown (then) of Birmingham a few years ago. On her blog I found that once she got big and licensed, she freaked. She stepped back from the loss of control of her work. The company owned rights to her work and pushed it out there. She is pushing back, on a smaller scale, doing exactly what it is she started out doing when she was “small” and “herself”.
Some are destined to make millions with their ideas, some are just plugging away at being creative in their own way.
Yesterday I watched a woman on the front of the library steps. Her long brown hair was almost mushroomed on top of her head in a criss cross of pins. Beside her was a small black girl. As I brisked past them I heard her say, “113…is that even or odd?” The child looked down at the ground. “What about 115?” Then I heard her say, lets just sing…..”11, 12, 13, 14″ and the little girl smiled, never answering the tough questions. Her creativity will probably have that girl doing calculus. I took a picture of them in my rear view mirror. That is how much the woman’s creative spirit affected me.
I know people who are brilliant, who don’t use that gift. I know people who are not so bright and just whip through the world owning it.
I think at the end of the day, no matter what we know, it is all about how we use it.
So like Kelly Rae Roberts, I am just gonna back up and start with the small stuff, like scheduling my day, week, month and penciling in what I want my happYmess creative life to look like for the next….uh I guess thirty years? (I turn 48 next weekend).
Sorta puts some pressure on the “planning part” as I always thought I was younger than I am. (mom calls it immature~ I call it denial).
So I share with you a great site I found called Productive Flourishing. Each month they create FREE planners to get you organized for ANY task.
For now…lets just start with the basics.
CLICK THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE TO UNCOVER YOUR ORGANIZING CHECKLISTS~ NUGGETS OF GOLD.
Off to my seventh Real Estate CEU this term. Gotta love a Real Estate Group (Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors) who offers so many quality seminars that we all get about 20 hours for FUN when we only require 12 hours every two years!
I have found, in living on the beach as with living on the lake, that while we can set up tent on the shores of nature, God is in complete control. While residing for three years on West Beach in Gulf Shores, I became in tune with every breeze, display of sunset, and the ease of unwinding into the end of a day. I was aware of each popup storm that blew past, as it tossed umbrellas and spewed sand. We were forced to move inland at least three times because of hurricane threats and tropical storms, towing dogs, cats and kids. For the next 10 years, I lived in the city. I found I lost count of sunsets and even the shape and size of the moon most of the time.
This past month’s ice event shut that city down, showing us that we can prepare, but we can never be ready for everything that nature has in store.
I was in my home on the lake the entire week of “Snowpocalypse 2014.” All became still on Lake Tuscaloosa the day after the snow blew across the South, although I have heard there was a pontoon out that afternoon to take in the white wonderland vistas from the water.
I watched as icicles formed, growing longer each day as the ice refused to melt. Tracks in the snow reminded me that these are not “our woods.” I actually had time to fill the bird feeder that I glance at on the way out the door to meetings and carpool, thinking maybe I should refill it, despite the squirrels.
My dogs, who associate the woods with our camp house and freedom, we try to contain. Their excitement is buzzing as much as that of the kids in the neighborhood. Through their eyes we can re-connect with our inner child, embracing the magic of snow.
On the lake, only a few days before the ice storm, I sat on my deck in shorts, soaking in the warm sunshine and watching a sailboat putter out to the point until it raised its sail, capturing the wind for fuel that would push it across the open water.
Each day, as I putter back to home base, tired and hungry, I am reminded why we live. As an artist, as well as a writer, I look at life as art.
“Colors are beautiful when they are significant,” I read in “The Art Spirit”by Robert Henri, beside a warm fire. He died in 1929, but any artist who has studied the notes from his classes realizes his wisdom is timeless.
Life is beautiful when it is significant. Many of us live life being simply present. Quoting from Henri on a day when I have nothing else to do because I am locked in by Mother Nature, I write as I read, “It takes wit, and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish and the spirits must flow.”
Life and spirit, I am convinced while surrounded by it, flow most naturally in nature.
I look back on the ten years in the city and while I loved that time, I am happy to be back in the throws of nature. While in Birmingham, we took the time to explore every restaurant, outdoor cafe, music festival, and cultural event that we could fit into our weekends. We would drag the kids along, all in the name of “exposure to the things in life,” to Bible studies, art shows, festivals, garage sales, and plays. We would have date nights to motorcycling spots, RV adventures, beer pubs, wine tastings and fundraisers. We lost sense of what God was doing outside of our self-orchestrated circle of life.
Today, just a few days after the ice has melted and a warm rain plummets on the roof across the rocky yard and into the lake, the waterfalls blast with activity to again remind me of the power of nature. Just beyond the hilltops I catch a glimpse of one ray of sun piercing through a cloud as it illuminates the water for only a second before fading back to shadow.
Tonight, or perhaps tomorrow, or whenever Mother Nature agrees to move onward, I will make a point to step beyond the porch and find what that moon has been up to. Again, I have lost track. Maybe right now I am missing a rainbow as I write. Art is always being created by nature even when we aren’t looking.
Here’s hoping you have a peaceful run-in with nature. Until we meet again, be sure to gather those photos of you and your love of nature, the lake, or your love for anything for that matter. Because in life, the greatest of all is love, and it is February, the month for no excuses!
As a mother to a boy who learned to play music by ear, this was dear to my heart. At the age of four, my son picked out the tune to Star Wars on a plastic piano. That was the beginning. Groups like these bring music to kids of all backgrounds. My son performs with one of the volunteers for this program and hopefully will help in the future. Music is the common language in the world.
During after school hours on Monday and Tuesday afternoons you can hear the pounding of drums, rhythm of guitar, magical vocals and the occasional harmonica trailing down the halls of Martin Luther King Elementary School. Each week The Alabama Blues Project shares the rhythm and magic of music with students who apply for the program, conducted in the schools by Anna Jenks, headed by Paula Demonbreun and made possible with talented local volunteers. “We are lucky to have talented local musicians with unique teaching styles. We can always use more help though, as we would love to see this expand,” Anna explained. The program currently runs for ten weeks in the Spring. The program begins with a class where the kids learn blues history, particularly Alabama blues.
Music theory is introduced before they begin on instruments.
Not only do they learn history of music all the way from the Blues to the current styles they hear and sing today, but they implement math concepts through beats and measure. The kids bond together through their common interests and grow in confidence as they learn to perform.
There is emphasis on stage presence, which helps with confidence that they can carry throughout their lives. When they complete the first section of the course, they are then able to select their instrument of choice as the focus of the program.
“We allow them to change instruments during the middle of camp if they request. Better to keep their interest in the musical arts than to lose interest and a valuable musical skill,” Anna explained. “The biggest value the kids walk away from Blues camp is a love for and better appreciation of blues music.”
BJ Reed tells the kids, “The Blues are the ROOTS!”
The program provides the instruments, and welcome donations. The website makes it easy for you to make monetary donations! In the drumming area, the kids used drumsticks on white paint drums to practice their rhythm. Dave Crenshaw, the percussion instructor, turns 10 gallon buckets over and the students create uniform poundings of sounds. The students learn to count complex rhythms but also to improvise early in his sessions.
“One of the children, Mykian, who is ten, has really taken to the drums. He is a natural,” Anna explained. Mykian beams as he practices on volunteer Dave Crenshaw’s full set of drums. He is in the Advanced Band, and attends the camp through another school. To see him play is motivating to anyone witnessing the magic of music.
The Camp has had visiting musicians such as Willie King, Little Jimmy Reed, Eddie Kirkland and Carroline Shines. Mike Battito is in charge of the Advanced Band which practices simultaneously with the camp.
B.J. Reed, who also volunteers in area schools, leads the kids in vocals and cheers them on, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone. Dave Crenshaw teaches drums. College students also get involved in the program. Dana, a college volunteer has been working with the current group.
At the end of the Spring After-School Blues Camp the budding musicians perform in front of family and friends to share their new discovered talents.
The Advanced Band participated in a performance at the Transportation Museum March 15th and will be performing in Tuscaloosa’s Got Talent in April.
Go to alabamablues.org to see how you can get involved or donate to this incredible cause with
local roots. You may call 205-752-6263 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more
If you are like me, mornings are enough of a challenge without the worry of entering the war zone of the closet. Not only are you fighting with reruns of items, but also with the image of yourself fighting some stranger in your mirror when you pull out that outfit you thought was going to work as it always had. And the less time you have to get ready, the more difficult it seems to be to find something to throw on. And let me back up a second here, to address those who say they “simply threw something on in the morning”. I’m calling the bluff, as a person who routinely loses her closet beneath a stack of shirts that fit awkwardly, had a stain, pants that “used to fit”, and shoes that “looked so cute in the box” but look ridiculous on your foot when put with the outfit you purchased them with.
Now there are some, lets just call them blessed, who can wake up and slap on a t-shirt and stylish exercise gear (theirs probably without the dog fur mine are coated in), pop their hair in a ponytail, slather a bit of gloss on their lips to highlight that natural blush they were born with and head out the door.They look refreshed, they look pulled together. I sit on the floor of my closet quite often and wonder where that person went, as I love to think I had that gift once upon a time.
I love my closet, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the space I have now. As I roll towards the age of fifty, I remember all too well the dark caves of space I once climbed into, digging for shoes in an abyss of sharp corners and muddy boots. I remember the bi-fold doors that wouldn’t close, no matter how hard I slammed. I remember one night when the whole closet came crashing down from the weight of all of my clothes on one rod. Some of my clothes have been with me as long as my twenty year old child. I am not a hoarder because I like to call it organized “possession”, something my family just doesn’t understand. I’ve had regular moves to thank for the fact that I am able to recycle all of the styles I have hung onto. And lo and behold, I’ve seen the seven year cycles come to pass, just a few years ago wondering, “Now WHERE is that that big brass circle belt I wore in college! My daughter just bought one!”
Technology has actually brought that cycle a bit tighter, as universal trends cycle quicker and various ridiculous past trends are easily manufactured into high fashion once again. I have teens. I have been to the vintage shops with them, and often say, “You should just wear mine! I have this!”
I’ve done a heavy clean of my closets only twice in my the past twenty of my 47 years. I still remember the items I miss, a long leather coat with a big hood I wish I still had when in the woods and a red cropped leather jacket with silver brads I wore during our Harley Davidson days, that was NOT a Harley jacket. I recently saw one in In Style and wondered why once again I let my friends strong arm me into “letting go”. So I may not ever wear it again, but dang-it, I would have the option if I felt the urge.
I am not the fashionista of my family, far from it. I still remember the days when my mother was in her thirties and our dad told a friend, “if S….was in style, she would wear it!” I grew up shopping in a number of Tuscaloosa clothing establishments, their owners even telling my daughter who is eight, “I remember when your Mama was your age, I would try to tie those clothes around her. She hated shopping but your grandmother and aunt were quite the clothes horses!”
Electronics were my thing. Give me a t-shirt and some jeans and I was happy. But, as an artist, I still enjoy putting outfits together. Every month I find a day to snuggle up with my fashion magazines. I tear out pictures of looks that I like. I dig in my closet, often finding nuggets to recycle or up cycle as I like to think of it. Photographed are a couple of examples of ways to pull in current colors and styles without going shopping every season. Who knew, buried under a fat stack of scarves I swore I would wear to some equestrian event,(Who knows! This is a horse city!) that I had a pencil thin snake looking belt that is “so” today, as shown in a recent magazine article? I put it with a straight line skirt like the photo and a blousy top, adding an updated ankle bootie (who knew, I fought those for years but they are growing on me) and what was old is new again.
Now, I know, in sharing my secrets, I blow the image that all of us try to keep up, that we all shop every day, work out, play tennis and have nothing else to do with our time. I love being thrifty, and often frequent the second hand shops. What a gold mine to be in a college town where girls my size only wear something once then sell it!I am not too proud to share that!
I’ve been told by my mom to “dress my age”. NEVER! I say, appropriate, ok, but not my age! The sun we have to avoid to keep the wrinkles at bay. I have no control over the facets of gravity, but my clothing, I have every choice! And I will go down with as many options as I can muster or drag around.Every little girl loves to dress up. Why should women be any different?Even if it is just to go the the grocery store! If we can’t still have fun dressing, then tell me, what is the point?
While I am not a professional fashionista, I do have friends who are.
Here are some tips from some of my favorites:
A recent article showed the new recycling of the “army jacket” (flashbacks anyone?)
Here I have taken mine from the 90’s, with photo of the article and up cycled with similar items I own.
Yes, it is REDBOOK, but hey, I’m kinda liking the casual vibe, especially when temps are
ranging from 30 in the morning to 72 in the afternoons.
Get creative with color and magazine photos.
This years florals are the favorite. Feminine and fun.
Proof I am NOT a hoarder…but dang I wish I had those wedges back.
My closet BEFORE….color coding surely helps make the mornings easier.
My neighbor happens to be the director of this musical, Annie McClendon~
I was amazed and am including all photos I can. I also did one of the sets for them. I don’t have children at this school..but anything to help a friend.
Holy Spirit School’s Fine Arts department presented Disney’s rendition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland Jr. on November 15 and 16. The production was directed by Liz Berta, with music direction by Anne McClendon and choreography by Kate Berta. A packed house was on hand for opening night. Maggie McGuire played the main character of Alice, with Maria Phelps as Tall Alice and Madalyn Mitchell as Small Alice. Emily Mitchell performed in her thirteenth production performance as Rabbit.
Other cast members in Holy Spirit’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. included: Henry Pitts (Dodo), Kate Berta (Doorknob), Zan Jones (lead Caterpillar), Allie Albea (Cardsman), Brooke Bassett (Cardsman/Fish), Thomas Berta (Cardman/Lobster), Elizabeth Boykin (Flower/Tea Party), Ava Cicatiello (Flower/Tea Party), Pearl Davis (Two of Clubs), Eva Farrish (Flower), Cailyn Garrett (Flowers/ Tea Party), Taylor Higdon (Mushroom), Alyssa Higdon (Mushroom), Norah Hope (Caterpillar Body), Maddie Kirkland (Mushroom), Charli Kyser (Flowers/Tea Party), Catherine Kung (Flowers/Tea Party), Avery Lake (Lobster/ Cardsman), Sophie Livaudais (Caterpillar Body), Sarah Martin (Caterpillar Body), Sadie
Party), Cecilla Walker (Lobster/Cardmen), Aden Walton (Caterpillar Body), and Berkley Young
(Flowers/ Tea Party).
Our neighbor and Ann Kats best friend in the hood is the little blue creature.
Many volunteers helped make this production a great success, including the crew: Donny Mills, Ryan
Rainwater, Kiersten Schellhammer, Kat Robertson, Olivia Kapera, Leah Clark, Marian Cook,
Blanca Muniz, and Zach Davis.
The actors ranged in age from six years old to senior students, and the choreography was impressive. All of the age groups blended together beautifully with the help of stage manager Augusta Elebash.
The lighting design/tech direction by Donny Mims and Ryan Rainwater gave dimension and
made you forget you were in a school gymnasium. The sets and stages were all built for the production. Sets were created by the director and music director, parents who created costumes, friends and the Holy Spirit art department students.
This was the backdrop I painted. You can’t have Alice without a BIG mushroom. These were painted on four foam core panels similar to the stuff that wreaked havoc in real estate in the 90’s.
Sponsors included Brian Prince Transmissions, Simply Twistin, Boyd’s Hairstyling, Body
Works Salon and Boutique, We Service Autos, Legal Shield, Stuart D. Albea Attorney, Norris
Radiator & Service Center, Southeaster Spine and Joint Specialist, Tuscaloosa Ear Nose and
Throat Center, Violins by Ray Leicht, University of Alabama Community Music School, Allison
Adams (painted mushroom set), LOS Construction and Roofing, Paragon Management Group, and Bama Bounders.