A Lesson in THINGS


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.

5DDCC375-50D8-40F2-8CF6-7D419B50935C

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.

EF67B0E5-6F74-425D-B873-7562102A8704The 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?”
BDA68D24-56AA-40BF-BA25-5452098EA62FSomehow, 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.0E9266F3-0344-47AC-8973-40BC77A4D2E1

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.

E8541A48-5734-45F7-B505-58F6D2C3BED6As 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!

Allison

 

 

SATURDAY EVENTS IN TUSCALOOSA


Bark2 Logo

is a special event created by THE TUSCALOOSA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS to help raise funds for the Will May Dog Park at Sokol Park in Tuscaloosa.

Click here for the PROGRAM AND NEWSLETTER

I have loved getting to know all of the REALTORS in Tuscaloosa and being a part of such a great event.

I created/designed the newsletter this year, since I will NOT be able to be at the event.

The DRUID CITY ARTS FESTIVAL is the same day

and I will have a booth there again this year. Hope you will jump in and enjoy the day

with ALL three events!

including the LAKE CLEANUP.

Saturday will prove to be a GREAT day to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

(See my article that advises the same in the latest issue of DRUID CITY LIVING in my Lake Living column!

CURRENT ISSUE LINK HERE~

Have a BLESSED day..and don’t forget to bathe your 4 legged friends (let the boy scouts do it…all in the name of the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS!)

Allison

 

Lake Living: Gardening on Lake Tuscaloosa


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!

Photo: Allison Adams

1ad1a-dsc08487

happYmess Entertaining Recipe Appetizer With “What’s in the Fridge”


 

Mix ingredients together with olive oil or coconut oil adding salt, pepper and spices of choice to items such as peppers, onion, mushrooms or whatever you have in the fridge. Shrimp or Steak might be a good choice too!

Mix ingredients together over heat with olive oil or coconut oil adding salt, pepper and spices of choice to items such as peppers, onion, mushrooms or whatever you have in the fridge. Shrimp or Steak might be a good choice too!

All food looks better with a little cheese on top and garnish.

Quick and Easy with little planning. Did I mention that these were toasted hotdog buns cut and flavored with a bit of garlic?

Dr. Oz has lots to say about the great effects of these ingredients for healthy living.

IMG_0021

IMG_0013

It’s all about what is in the fridge! Make the most out of all of your ingredients.

Easy entertaining.

Any food looks better with a great view!

Get artsy with the simple things

Bon Appetit!  Hope you enjoyed this little taste of “happYmess cooking” from a creative who loves to have fun in the kitchen!

Hope you will share some of your favorites as well!

Allison Adams

 

Visit my weekly posts at http://www.alabamawomenbloggers.com on Thursdays for all things “SWEET HOME ALABAMA”.

 

 

Lake Living: Art In Nature


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 arent looking.

Heres 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!

Photo: Allison Puccetti Adams

Colors of the Lake acrylic, by Allison Adams. 

Image

 

 

 

A REAL Person’s Life~ In the Closet


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:

Image

Photo:  Army Jacket

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.

Image

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.

Image

Get creative with color and magazine photos.Image

This years florals are the favorite. Feminine and fun.Image

Proof I am NOT a hoarder…but dang I wish I had those wedges back.Image

My closet BEFORE….color coding surely helps make the mornings easier. Image

 

allisonpadams.com

Summer Camps in Alabama Area


 

Summer Camp. Ah, the memories!  Every child should experience it. We all remember the uncertainty that initially hit us as we watched our parents ride away, leaving us for what they assumed to be “a part of growing up”. At pickup we didn’t want to leave what would perhaps become one of the most incredible experiences of our lives.

Summer camp these days is as varied as the children who attend. There is something for everyone. 

Listed are a number of great options, from local Tuscaloosa Camps, Regional, to camps in other states that Tuscaloosa area kids regularly attend.

Local Specialty Day Camps

DANCE

Academy of Ballet and Jazz, Open All Summer. Instructor Susu Hale Prout, Age 18 mo-adult, Mommy and Me, Pre-school, and intensives. 205-752-5124,  www.danceabj.com

The Dance Center, One week workshops beginning June 2. Ages 3-5 (Monday-Friday, 9-12:00)

Little Princess Camp: June 16-20; Broadway Babies- July 14-18; Ages 6-8 (M-F, 9-12:00);

“Angelina Ballerina”- June 2-6; “Pop Diva” Camp— July 7-11; Ages 7-10: “Tutus and Tilts”- June 23-27 (M-F 9-12); “Camp Radio Disney”- July 21-25 (M-F: 1-4PM).

TDC Summer Intensive Workshop with Guest Faculty: Week 1: June 9-13; Week II- July 28-Aug.1 (M-T, 10-6 PM). 205-752-5354, http://www.thedancecentre.net/

MJ’s Academy of Dance, Mary Jo Thompson, Summer Session: June 9-July 17. All styles and levels of dancing at affordable prices. Weekly Classes (all ages) $60 for 6 week session (meet once a week), $50 for each additional weekly class per session and sibling discounts. Dance Camps $136. Tights and Tiaras (Age 3-6) June 2-6:8-12, July 21-25, 8-12. Pop Idols (Age 7-11) June 2-6 8-12, July 21-25, 8-12. Dance Intensives: Age 11 and up) TBA. Pre-register 205-343-7757, dancemjs@gmail.com, www.mjsacademy.com

Hillcrest Shopping Center, 6521 Hwy. 69 S. Suite K, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405.

THEATRE

The ACT Summer Theatre Production Camp, July 21-26 9-2PM, all ages, cost $235. Geared for fun! T’shirt, script, lunches, and snack included. Performing at the Historic Bama Theatre. Workshops include songs, choreography, blocking and lines. 205-393-2800. www.theactonline.com

Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and Theatre Tuscaloosa join to present Theatre Camp 2014. Acting, improv, music, movement, audition techniques, technical theatre ending in a showcase performance June 27. Beginner or veteran will have lots of fun. K-11th grade. Drew Baker: thebakers35406@att.net or 205-310-8010/ 205-391-2277.

GYMNASTICS

Bama Bounders Gymnastic Camps and Classes

Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger owner. Open to all ability levels. Skills taught in vault, bars, beam and floor for girls as well as rings, parallel bars, high bar, pommel horse, vault and floor for boys. 

Full day and half day camp dates beginning June 2-Aug. 4

Gold Stars Camp- M-F 8-4pm, Girls and boys 5-14. Gymnastics, swimming, dance, games arts and crafts, Pizza Fridays, movies. 

Silver Stars Camp-M-F, 8-12, Girls and boys age 5-14, gymnastics, games, arts and crafts and more.

Bronze Stars Camp-M-F, 8-12, Girls and Boys age 3-5 (potty trained) Gymnastics, games, art projects, stories.

Before and after care available for additional fee. 

Preschool Playtime, Parent’s Night Out, Birthday Parties and Field Trips available. 205-722-2436, www.thebamabounders.com

FITNESS

Northridge Fitness Kid’s Strength Camp. 3 Days per week, age 11-15. Principles of proper body mechanics, developing core strength, weigh lifting safety. 205-752-1201, www.northridgefitness.net.

MARTIAL ARTS

Tiger Rock Martial Arts- 6 days a week for Martial Arts classes and four locations. Limited Number of spots for a “Train all Summer Program”. Tuscaloosa: 759-4711, Northport: 339-7071, Hillcrest: 343-6449.

SPORTS

University of Alabama Nike Tennis Camp

Two weeks of overnight camp and day camp:  Directed by Head Men’s Tennis Coach, George Husack, Women’s: Jenny Mainz, and Assistant Men’s Coach: Ryler DeHeart. Ages 9-18 (all levels) 8:30am-4pm. June 1-5/ June 8-12. Fundamentals of tennis to enhance skills. Evening activities games on the quad, swimming, movies, swimming and other activities. 30 courts outdoors and indoor facilities in case of rain. Check in: 3:00-4:00 Sunday at UA Varsity Stadium- dressed to play. Day Campers depart that afternoon at 6:30 after check in, evaluation and pizza party. Check out: Graduation: 3:00 pm Thursday at UA Varsity Stadium. Parents invited. 800-645-3226. www.USSportsCamps.com

University of Alabama Sports Camps: Offers a number of camps and clinics for the sports enthusiast, including 

Baseball Camp ~ Crimson Tide Experience Elite 40, June 30-July 2- $775. and summer youth baseball camps ranging from $140-225. http://collegebaseballcamps.com/bama

Cheer/ Dance Camp- Elementary Camps; Nick Saban Camp; Gymnastics Camp; Soccer Camp; Softball Camp; Swimming and Diving Camp; Tennis Camp (see above); Volleyball Camp; 

Go to the site for full information on all camps with links:

www.rolltide.com/camps/alab-camps.html

ART

Brushstrokes Summer Art Camps 

Sessions in June and July. June 2-12 (12:30-2:30 or 3:00-5:00) , June 16-26 (12:30-2:30), July 7-17 (12:30-2:30 or 3:00-5:00), July 21-31,(12:30-2:30), Teen Camp June 5,12,19,26,July 19,17, (Thurs. 9:30-11:30). $185.00 per student. $20 deposit. 205-657-0199, www.annsbrushstrokes.com/summer-camps/

COOKING 

On A Roll@ Fifth and Main, Northport. Young Chef’s Cooking Camp, M-F, July 7-11, July 21-25: 3:30-5:30. $200, includes supplies and ingredients and fun loving instruction in a safe, controlled environment. Chefs 9 years and up. 205-247-7773, Email: info@onarollnorthport.com

ALL AROUND CAMP FUN~

The Capitol School

Contact them for activities and flexible schedules. Summer Explorations 2014 with 2-week sessions of educational topics from June 2-August 8. Ages 2.5-18 years. Opens at 7:30 for working parents. Morning classes 8-noon, afternoon 1-5. Tuition $200 for 40 hours. Session 1: June 2-13, Session 2: June 16-27, Session 3: June 30-July 11 (July 4 Holiday), Session 4: July 14-25, Session 5: July 28-August 8. High School Term: June 9-July 31.

Located on historic Capitol Park at 2828 Sixth Street near downtown Tuscaloosa. 205-758-2828. Enroll online for Summer Explorations at www.thecapitolschool.com 

Children’s Hands-On Museum

CRAZY DAZE of Summer. Nine Weeks (50 days of crazed fun!) Kid Karaoke, Dueling Basketballs, Skee Ball, Foos-Ball, Air Hockey. LEGO CAMP. Fun events on special days.

Like on Facebook. www.chomonline.org

FLUM- Forest Lake United Methodist Church

Weekday Kids Program Summer Camp, Grade 1-7 where they can “Just Be a Kid”. 

Arts and Crafts, Daily Devotions, Bowling and Movie field trips, swimming, water days at Shelby Park, Games, Sports, Skating onsite, free t-shirt if enroll by 5/1/14. June 2 – August 1/ 14, 7:30-5:30 PM. $50 enrollment fee, $95/week or $25/day. Includes two snacks/day, supplies and field trips. 205-758-6623, Email: WDKSummerCamp@hotmail.com

Wee Camp (pre-K – 4) Field trips, on site activities. 

PARA-KIDS Summer Day Camp

Grades K-8 grade: Belk, Faucett, Miller and Phelps Centers, 7:30-5:45 PM, M-F.  Single day to weekly. $30 registration, Daily fee $27 or $81/ week. Activities: Exercise programs, swimming, archery, skating, bowling, softball, kickball, inflatables, arts and crafts, Riverworks Discovery and butterfly studies, Field Trips: Lake Lurleen and Alabama Adventure Park.Melinda Wiggins 205-562-3230, mwiggins@tcpara.org ,                                                                                    http://www.tcpara.org/page/35/day_camp_youth_events.html

Tuscaloosa Academy – Summer Knights Program

Ages 3-rising 8th graders. Also a program for ages 3-K taught by certified staff with special activities to help their development. Summer Adventure grades 1-8. Enrichment and Sports camp activities for the budding chef or sports enthusiast with camps teaching sports skills, express their creativity and stretch their minds. Half Day and Full Day from 7:30-5:30. 205-758-4462 ext. 513, summerknights@tuscaloosaacademy.org,  summerknights@tuscaloosaacademy.org.

Tuscaloosa Barnyard~ Summer Day Camp

Come learn about life on the farm away from TV and video games. Activities: Taking care of animals, boat ride, fishing, games, farm movies, hay rides, pony rides, horse training, arts and crafts, games, learning about nature. Slow paced environment. Kami:  205-248-0773. Space limited: 50% due at time of sign up.  www.tuscaloosabarnyard.com

MUSIC

The Community Music School (CMS)

School of Music at the University of Alabama Moody Music Building. University faculty and area professionals. Pre-K to all ages. Private Lessons age 5-adult: piano, band, orchestra, guitar, ukulele, organ, voice, French, Spanish. Offered June-July.

Kindermusik: Age 0-17mo,Age 18M-3Y, Age 4-6Y, Morning or afternoon, June-early July.

Camps:  Violin, Piano Camp OR Ukulele Camp Age 5-8:(One week: June 2-6 or July 28-Aug. 1-9:30-noon, $85); Kids Yoga; Beginning Guitar or Drums Camp-Age 8-12: (One week: June 2-6 or July 28-Aug. 1-9:30-noon, $85); Intro to Violin Camp Age 9-12: June 2-6, $85.

Musical Camp: Magic Tree House: The Knight at Dawn July 14-25, 9-noon M-F. 

Organizational Meeting 7/13, 6 PM. Show with speaking parts, solos, ensemble cast, songs, dialogue, costumes, staging, accompaniment. Practice CD included: $160.

Summer String Camp~ Grade 4-9. July 28-August 2, M-F: 8:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30-concert at 1. For students already playing instruments and able to read four strings and play in several keys. Teacher recommendation required. Snack prov., bring lunch. $250.

For info. call 205-348-6741, www.music.ua.edu/community-music-school.

Tuscaloosa Piano Studio, beginners age 5-11, July 14-18. Meets from 9-12 daily. Groups according to age. Recital at 11:00 on Friday. Cost: $120. which includes book. 205-454-7463.

Crimson Music Camps: Jazz Improvisation and Marching Percussion Camp: June 12-15; Band, Piano and Vocal/ Choral/ Opera Camp: June 15-20. bands.ua.edu/programs/crimson-camp, Heath Nails at jhnails@ua.edu205-348-6068.

LEARNING

The Long Weekend- Summer Multimedia Journalism- June 13-15, grades 6-12. $125. Teach creative and effective ways to communicate through writing, exploring magazines, yearbooks, literary magazines, broadcast programs. June 6 deadline for registration. asps.ua.edu. Meredith Cummings: aspa@ua.edu, 348-ASPA. 

Sylvan Learning Center ~ Writing, mathematics, study skills, specialty classes for state exams. 205-345-7676.

Tuscaloosa Public Library Summer Reading Program

All are FREE

Tommy Johns- Magic: Tuesday June 3, 2014: Weaver Bolden Branch: 9:30, Main Branch- 2pm, Wed. June 4: Main Library- 9:30, Brown Branch- 2pm http://tommyjohnspresents.com

Tom Foolery- Juggler- Tuesday, June 19, 2014: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30, Main library-2pm,

Wed. June11, Main library: 9:30, Brown Branch- 2 pm

Summer Safety Programs: Tues. June 17: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30, Main-2pm, 

Wed. June 18, Main- 9:30 am, Brown Branch- 2 pm

Kit Killingsworth- Bubble Fun: Tuesday July 15: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30 am, Main-2pm,

Wed. July 16: Main- 9:30 am, Brown Branch-2pm

Dr. Magical Balloons- Magic and Storytelling: Tues. July 22: Weaver Bolden Branch- 9:30am, Main- 2pm; Wed. July 23: Main 9:30 am, Brown Branch- 2pm. http://www.drmagicfun.com

4-H Animal Programs: Tues. July 29: Weaver Bolden-9:30 am, Main-2pm, 

Wed. July 30:Main-9:30, Brown Branch-2pm http://www.aces.edu/main/

The Bama Theatre: Movie Friday, Aug. 1: 10 am, doors open 9:30

Tuscaloosa Public Library, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, 205-345-5820,

www.tuscaloosa-library.org/

Alabama Museum of Natural History ~  History Expedition 36

Middle School Week: Grade 6-8) June 9-14; High School Week (Grade 9-12) June 16-24; Public Camp Week (all ages) June 23-28, museum.programs@ua.edu.

June- August Programs with Summer Field Trips including tubing, caving, fossil-hunting, canoeing in various areas around the state for families, students and children over the age of 10. Transportation and equipment provided. 205-348-7550. 

July 11: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; July 12: Canoeing on Bear Creek; July 15: Tubing the Little Cahaba River; July 17: Canoeing the Coosa River; July 19: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; July 29: Tubing the Little Cahaba River; July 31: Canoeing North River; August 1: Canoeing the Coosa; August 2: Shark’s Tooth Creek Fossil Trip; August 9: Shark’s Tooth Fossil Trip

Summer Camps at AMNH. Art Day Camp: June 2-6

Discover art and science for grades 3-5. Sculpture, painting and photography. 

Art Day Camp June 2-6,  Science Day Camp: July 21-25; email: museum.programs@ua.edu. 205-348-7550. Space is limited. 

Alabama Summer Computer Camps,Dept of Computer Science High School: July 21-25, July 28-Aug 1, Middle School: Aug 4-8 (includes computer, robotics, smartphone apps with App Inventor at the high school camps. outreach.cs.ua.edu/camps

Dr. Jeff Gray at gray@cs.us.edu 205-348-2847.

Camp Cash

College of Environmental Sciences, ages 11-14. Management skills, experiencing college life, enhancing confidence and self esteem, investing, insurance, wealth accumulation, and credit. Snacks, Camp T’shirt. Application at ches.ua.edu

Jan Brakefield, jbrakefi@ches.ua.edu205-348-8722.

CAMPS Within Driving Distance:

Lake Forest Ranch

Interdenominational Christian co-ed camp in East Central Mississippi on 60 acre Shadow Lake. (less than two hours from Tuscaloosa) Theme: Building Relationships for Eternal Impact. Activities: horseback riding, wild ride water tube, low and high ropes course, basketball, gym games, tennis, beach volleyball, swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, archery, frisbee golf, game room/ arcade, paint ball course for teens, Bible Studies. Rick Malone: 662-726-5052, www.lakeforestranch.com.

Moundville Archaeological Park- Indian Day Camp

Session 1: June 2-6, Session 2: July 28-August 1. Ages 9-13. For kids interested in Native American arts and way of life. Focus on weaving, pottery, gourd crafts, hiking, gathering wild foods, touring museum and park, storytelling and sampling authentic Native American cuisine. From Tuscaloosa, a bus will meet at Smith Hall at the University of Alabama at 8:30 returning at 4:30 PM. Cost $200 per child per week. 205-371-8732, almorrow2@ua.edu , http://moundville.ua.edu

McWane Center- Summer Camps. Various topics each week with some overnight options. Morning sessions (9-12:30 and afternoon 1:00-5:00). 205-714-8414. http://www.mcwane.org/camps_and_more/camps/summercamp.

Nike Golf Camp~ Samford University, Birmingham Age 10-18. Overnight ($935)and Day Camp ($595)from 8:30-5pm. Hoover Country Club. July 20-24. 800-NIKE-CAMP. 

Riverview Camp for Girls: Mentone (3 hours from Tuscaloosa). Christian camp, ages 6-16. Cabins with bathrooms and showers. Photos downloaded each day of campers. Directors: Susan and Dr. Larry Hooks. Offers Mother-Daughter Weekends in April and August. 800-882-0722. Jennifer Fisher- Tuscaloosa’s Representative: ent3@comcast.net

 www.riverviewcamp.com

Camp Skyline Ranch- Mentone. Girls Christian Camp for ages 6-16. Various sessions. $3,217. for two weeks, 1725. for one week. June 8-August 1 (see website for session information). Arts and Crafts, Horseback Riding, Swimming, Archery, Dance, and other activities.  800-448-9279, www.campskyline.com

Space Camp- Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Grades 4-6 (age 9-11). Summer $979/ person. Climbing wall, simulator, Spacedome Theater and Digital Theater. Begins on Sunday and ends on Friday Morning.Various topics from robotics, Space Academy, Aviation Challenge, to Day camps. See the site:  www.spacecamp.com/

Xcelerate Nike Girls Lacrosse Camp at Auburn University, Youth and High School , June 25-28. Age 10-18 Girls. 800-NIKE-CAMP.

ZooFari Camp at the Birmingham Zoo~ Grades 4K-8th Grade. 8:30-3:30 pm. May 27-Aug. 15, weeklong camps. Ranges from $200-260. Visit their site at www.birminghamzoo.com/education/ or 205-397-3877 or email education@birminghamzoo.com.

EQUESTRIAN

Valley View Ranch, A’top Lookout Mountain, Cloudland, Georgia. Six Sessions June – August ranging from $1500-2950. Limited to 60 girls. Hunt Club, Vaulters,Barrels, English, Stock Seat, Pony Club (younger campers). www.valleyviewranch.com, 706-862-2231.

National Programs:

JH Ranch ~ A camp teaching practical Christian Principles for everyday life. Headquarters in Birmingham. Ranch in California ~ http://jhranch.com/dates, Business Office :402 Office Park Drive, Suite 310, Birmingham, AL 35223, Toll Free: 1.800.242.1224

Jamey Abersold’s Summer Jazz Workshops, Louisville, Kentucky, $595.

  http://workshops.jazzbooks.com/, Workshops of varying levels in Jazz studies, 812-944-8141.

 

Shackin Up in Mississippi


IMG_8080

My husband and I recently made a road trip across Mississippi to the little town of Clarksdale.  

 Each year we try to surprise each other with birthday trips. This year he took me on a horse adventure in Georgia.

 He was thinking we were headed to the Viking Cooking School~ the Alluvian Hotel and Spa, but I had some more rural destinations in mind.

 Clarksdale has become famous stemmed by events revolving around blues music and the characters who surround it.  Morgan Freeman, who has revived a local blues joint called Ground Zero Club has helped spark renovations nearby. Just recently, among all of the newfound interest, you will find loft rentals for weekend guests wanting to immerse themselves in the music and Southern culture. 

 

On the outskirts is another spot called THE SHACK UP INN.  My husband has wanted to go there for a while.

 

We recently sold our Tiffin Motor coach and had always talked about having an airstream. I thought a night in an airstream might be fun to check out. I just happened to find one at a quaint little artist place (with renovated barn which holds a dark room and art studios) on the internet called 7 Chimneys.  It rivals some of the dreams I have had of fixing up the old family place to have artist retreats and live off the land spreading creative cheer across the countryside.

When we arrived we found that the main house and pool belong to the owners (they were out of town) so we did like anyone else in a shack would do (a quite nice one at that) and sat for a spell on the front porch, absorbing the breeze until the window unit could catch up with the June 90 degree heat, taking photos of the sun as it set across the airstream I had hoped to be renting for the night. They were kind enough to upgrade us to their largest cabin since the airstream was under renovation.

 

We have talked about taking an airstream across country. I would probably be happy having one in my driveway, full of artwork and creativity I could park in front of anyone wanting a class or take it along to the beach or a festival.  My mom cringes at the thought.

 Since we were about ten miles out of town and were planning on tasting a bit of moonshine if we ran across any (when in Rome), we decided to call a cab. Friends told us there was a cab driver called Mr. Jolly who helped out some friends who told us about the place. He was “down the road a piece” and said he would call us when he got back to town. Mr. Jolly IS, “in his words”, the only paying cab service in town. 

IMG_8320 IMG_8321 IMG_8322 

Lo and behold, he did call us back.

We explained by cell phone (thank goodness times have changed where those are an option) after we watched him pass us a few times that we were “in the shacks by the white house with seven chimneys”.  

“Oh, yeah, you must be at Miss Stovall’s place!” he said. 

We waved and hooped as he rounded the dirt driveway. 

“What yall stayin up in here for? I used ta live in one of them shacks like that?” he said with a half toothed grin. ” Spent my life tryin to get out of one. This is a ways, you know. Gonna cost ya about thirty.” 

The owners of the house had told me when I called to check availability, “oh don’t worry, just leave the door open. Everybody does, and we will have it open with the keys on the counter for you.” 

When I called the owner after arrival to see how we might get to town without driving she said, “oh you should drive, there is only one cab. You might get there but not sure if you will get back. Sorry to cut you off, but we are a bit frantic as a truck was stolen from here last night. It was a worker I believe, a person we are mentoring so don’t you worry. Nothing dangerous.”

 Luckily I had brought Bertha as I always do when I travel.

allisonpadams.com Packing heat on my road trip

http://www.allisonpadams.com
Packing heat on my road trip like any good Southern woman would

Just before we were loading into the car with Mr. Jolly, a bright red pickup pulled to the back of the house. We then noticed three black kids who were casually playing out front in the sprinklers. We waved to them as we pulled across the yard. They couldn’t have been older than twelve years old.

“Aw, they must be the workers children hanging out for the weekend,” I thought as we bumped along beside them on the gravel road in the cab.

Minutes later as Mr. Jolly and I began chatting about places to eat and things to do we heard police sirens and realized we were being pulled over.  

ramonsphotojolly

“Lawd, that is the pow-leece,” Jolly said as he kept rolling not sure it was for him, but finally pulling over. 

“Jolly,” the policeman said as he gave him a pat on the back and motioned for him to come to the back, “there has been a break in up at the …. place.”

I have to say, as a writer, I can never be in a situation and and not try to hear all that is going on. I heard “stolen truck”, leaned out the window almost jumping over my husband who was trying to hide his beer beside the door like we were still teenagers and yelled, “Is it a red truck?”

“Well, yes it is,” he said. “Have you seen any young chullins too?” 

“Those kids back at the house I guess were dropping one off. We thought they were with an adult. Holy moley! We have solved a robbery!” 

“He skirted off in his outdated police vehicle and we high fived and told Mr. Jolly how much we loved the excitement.”

“I still don’t get what just happened,” Mr. Jolly kept saying as he scratched his head, adjusted his cap and headed again towards town. 

I think even after we got out he was not sure what had gone down.

That night we paid him $100. He had recommended a few places to eat but we headed to a more trendy looking spot just down from Ground Zero Blues Club. 

We ate at Stone Pony Pizza on Delta Avenue. It appeared to be a locals place with live music. We had a quick pizza after our half day of work and the three hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Clarksdale.  Many of the restaurants that people had recommended as icons had closed to our disappointment and we passed on the bar-b-que because we live in the town where Dreamland was born, but hear ABE’s is noted as the best in town.

 We headed to Ground Zero where King Fish (who happened to be a large, brown teenager with a set of lungs and talent that would make Led Zepplin take notice) and a group of young kids at the blues camp held each year were showing their talents, bending notes on a harmonica towards a packed house.  We fit right in with the families of teen musicians, someone asking us which was ours. 

“We are too young to have kids that old,” my husband chimed as he often does in denial on road trips. “I know my place….My baby is now 19 and on the road somewhere near Michigan with a band called LONGREEF as I write this.” 

*note, Ground Zero has a free taxi limo but Jolly gave us a tour of all the great spots to eat and be seen and perhaps never return from in Clarksdale. Who can resist that?

We called Mr. Jolly and he picked us up for the return ride within a few minutes. The ride home after a night of Blues that rivals any on Bourbon Street (NOLA), continued to be a surreal event. Mr. Jolly had picked up his girlfriend as he came to get us, but on the ride home, it was only him. He told us about his wife, how he had lost her six years before. 

“Ain’t never gonna find another like that one,” he told me. “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to find what I had.”

Some things that change, just can’t be duplicated. 

“It’s ok,” I said as if he needed my consoling. “You will meet her again one day.”  We were the only souls anywhere to be seen on that long stretch of two lane between miles of huge, lush corn rows, even in 2013.

“Sho Nuff,” he said with a smile that glittered in his wide rear view mirror.

I squeezed my husband’s hand and watched the headlights shine high into the trees on the oak lined two lane road just in front of  Muddy Waters Cabin site with my hair blowing across my face.  I watched the needle bounch just right of center on his dash. I tried to remember the last time I had ridden in a one seat wide car, especially with the windows down on a two lane road. It didn’t take long to remember I learned to drive in a car like this.

 

Muddy Waters home site

Muddy Waters home site

“You know, you don’t need to know nothing in this world but whether you are going to heaven or to hell,” he said. “The rest don’t really matter much.”

There is a lot of talk in Clarksdale about heaven and hell. 

After all, this is where Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil that made him a legend,

brought blues to the world, and cost him his life. 

We heard all about him the next day when we ventured into the Cat Head Store. The man working there already had a small group of regulars gathered round as he told stories about the crossroads.

He told us about the spot where Robert Johnson is buried. 

“Go left on Highway 8 until you find Money Road. 

Don’t forget to stop at the remains of the old Bryant General Store where Emmit Til was said to have flirted with a white lady cashier and was killed by the owner. That moment started the Civil Rights movement. You might miss it so go slow. It is a boarded up two story brick gas station. “

He continued with directions and I wrote them down like a roaving reporter in my little notebook tucked inside my snakeskin purse. 

“There will be a blues marker about five, no two to three miles down the road, and a white church on the right. Robert Johnson’s grave is one tucked under a big Pecan tree in the back left side of the yard.

Nothing has changed since he was buried except for the driveway which was once river gravel,” he continued. 

The shop keeper had a few new bodies venture in and continued with his stories about the man who was in church that dug the grave in that, the only black cemetery of the day. 

“You know the sickest part,” someone there said as we all leaned in to hear his whispers, “Roger Stoli owns Robert Johnson, and his name is on the back of his headstone. Makes me crazy sometimes and I wanna go rub it off or something. He had his only kin sign over rights. Come to find out there was a child no one knew about. That kid still gets only half of the sales of his songs. Stoli still gets a piece. That my friends is pure robbery.”

 Now I grew up in a small town. You can believe ALL of what you hear, or some of what you hear, either way the story is gonna be good.

Robert Johnson was 27 when he died. He was at an extended gig in Greenville, MS. It was known he loved the ladies. He shacked up with the wife of the owner of the place where he was playing. Unfortunately, his girlfriend happened to be a waitress there. The owner had her serve him a bottle of whiskey laced with poison. (click his name above for music and history)

“He was poisoned on a Saturday but didn’t die until Tuesday,” the shopkeeper said with this look of revelation on his face.

IMG_8552 IMG_8554 IMG_8555 IMG_8556 IMG_8572

IMG_8574IMG_8573 IMG_8590 IMG_8591 IMG_8592 IMG_8593 IMG_8594

We ventured into to an upscale shop called The Delta Bohemian, part of a bed and breakfast type hotel downtown. We chatted with Madge, the owner awhile and I fell in love with a butterfly covered silk sarong she had designed and had made in New York.

 IMG_8081 IMG_8085 IMG_8093 IMG_8095 IMG_8097 IMG_8100 IMG_8101 IMG_8108 IMG_8112 IMG_8114 IMG_8115 IMG_8121 IMG_8123 IMG_8124 IMG_8125
We left there in search of a tamale, finding Larry’s Tamales just down the way. We rolled up in there a bit earlier than they are accustomed and ordered a dozen tamales. “Fountain broken,” the owner told us as he motioned while barely looking at us towards the machine just beside two men rolling the tamales in the back. Luckily we had our own chilled drinks in the car.

We learned about Sonny Boy Williamson and W.C. Handy, and saw Wade Walton’s Barbershop where these guys would have spontaneous jam sessions back in the day. The country’s oldest blues station, WROX 1450-AM may have been the station that was cranking out all of the blues tunes as we paraded the streets.

 
That night after our enlightenment and being immersed in the culture we stayed in the Gunny Shack at the Shack Up Inn. The stories had made the adventure more than just a trip to an old town. We felt like part of the story as we checked in to a shack that had once belonged to a black lady who was an artist. Her brushes and a canvas were still lying on her desk in the corner when we walked in. I felt, as an artist, this was some part of my history that would plant itself as one of my “moments”.

There was a band from New Jersey warming up for the filming of a music video. We were some of the only people in the daylight crowd of six. 

IMG_8183

We hung with the band and a guy who had come from Australia once and never left. 

“I bought me a piece of land down the way,” he said.

Jolly later told us when he picked us up for dinner in a local joint that he had had a call to that place a few years back when he was working for the police force.

“He’d done put his woman out on the street. She was screaming and carryin on. He told us to take her back to the bus station,” Jolly said.

Never know what you will find in a small town and how big the stories tend to get throughout the years.

Surrounding the town is thousands of acres of what used to be cotton. The Hopson Plantation once had a 4000 acre cotton farm and commissary. Cotton is no longer king in Clarksdale. Apparently corn is, for bio-fuel, according to the locals.

So there is no surprise that on the way out, we took the route towards Money Road.

It is a good thing we didn’t follow the directions because the miles were off, but the descriptions were right on. The place was almost abandoned, except for the big sign saying he was buried there. The gravestones surrounding him were turned over and broken. His was coated in Mardi Gras beads, old bottles of whiskey, plastic flowers covered in mud.

We pulled out onto County Road 6 towards town and attempted lunch at Giardinas in the Alluvian Hotel and Spa in Greenwood, MS, but it was closed on Sunday. We had also been told DOE was one of the best places ever to get a steak…EVER. So next time, we will have to find a way to get there for dinner.

As we toured Greenville in no hurry to get back to Tuscaloosa, we found a restaurant tucked within the old Train Depot. Immediately a family began asking us how we found the place. 

“We never eat fast food on trips,” my husband explained. 

“Well, welcome!” at least two to three people said as they greeted each other then motioned to us, one an elderly man in his 90’s whose daughters had driven from Oxford to take him for a Father’s Day lunch. 

We devoured the special, roast and gravy, among photos and read the news clippings dotting the walls of all of the latest achievements of anyone in town as we prepared to ease back to a bit quicker pace. 

Not much has changed along the Delta Blues Trail.  Sunday’s are still defined by flocks of cars lining the roads beside the rural churches. Fried chicken and heavy roasts are still favorites for after church feasts and there is always an excuse to go a calling to friends and neighbors across the trails, dirt road and two lanes. We said a prayer as we eased off back to T town and towards the bustle of our family of three children, two dogs, a cat, two parakeets and a hamster awaiting us at the end of the paved drive.

IMG_8122

Allisonpadams.com

Story and Photos by Allison Adams

except for linked material and video

 

 

 

 

The challenge is to use everything in the Pantry


The challenge is to use everything in the pantry by creating meals to lessen the packing load~

How many cans of veggies are tucked away for a rainy day? TWO LESS at my house~ family size.

The crescent rolls became a mosaic of crusty cover of chicken (frozen), which I cooked, chopped and mixed in with the plain veggies and the seasoned vidalia onion butter beans MADE the filling, topped with some cream of chicken soup, a bit of sour cream, mayo and a spoonful of creme cheese.

I don’t measure, and if I have to re-create this exactly, it won’t be happening. It is happYmess cooking. No measuring, just creating.

If I had planned it, I would use veggies and herbs from the garden, fresh bought chicken, and perhaps a different topping although this was enough dough to actually sculpt a little butterfly on top.

Sharing the finished product in the next post!

GET creative in the kitchen and see what comes up!

I will say I cooked too much chicken, so made chicken salad, and then, with a full pot of boiling water after I cooked the chicken…I tossed in a few eggs….and made DEVILED EGGS.

Yeah, that is a definite happYmess in the kitchen!

What is your happYmess?


Image

I just turned 47 last week.

Every time I look at those words, I think, “Wait! That doesn’t look right!”

It is hard to imagine that I am almost 50 because all those just a bit younger than me I still think of as “in their late twenties”.

Perhaps it is also because my mother still treats me like a child.

Ok, so maybe I act like one, but getting older does not mean you have to start “dying”.

She actually told me I should start dressing and acting my age.

“NEVER!” I say.

I even posted a photo with messy hair~ rebellion still lingering perhaps?

My husband and I are in a transition period of life, at least that is what he is thinking.

Personally I used to thrive on change and transition. We have been married nine years and are moving from our five bedroom city-ish home here in the Tiny Kingdom of Mt. Brook to a more rural, almost retirement-like destination.

It has been a hard one because honestly, this is the longest I have EVER lived in one place since I graduated from college. I lived in Montgomery for eight years but moved four times during those years, with a husband, two babies and a dog.

It was not until my divorce after another move (for my former husband’s career) to the Gulf Coast and two houses there that I moved to this home. I actually vowed I would never move again.

I have been here almost ten years. My daughter grew up here from second grade. She will be a senior. Yes, we are moving her for her senior year. Call me crazy but a “downshift to the country life” is just what she needs. You can’t express entitlement with mosquitos and bass! It is not her fault, it runs through the water~ some of the best in the country, U.S. that is.

When I was her age, I was really in the country- a self-proclaimed redneck. I loved everything about a small town, dirt roads, Hank Williams.

We aren’t going that far back into the woods, Tuscaloosa is a melting pot of small town people, professors, artists from the city, writers, photographers who have been there since I was a baby, students, grandparents, doctors, nurses, all living together in a slower paced existence.

There is a hint of that here where I live in The Tiny Kingdom, but the authenticity of it all is something this mound-like suburb can’t quite duplicate.  Anyone who moved here from a small town knows it in their gut. The city folks who don’t understand why we are so “comfortable in our skin” probably never will, at least until they decide to embrace their mess. In the country, everyone already knows our messes and point them out at a younger age. Maybe that is what makes country folks so grounded. .

I sorta like that I got to taste the life here. I moved here for the schools and to be with my best friend who was dying of a brain tumor. She taught me there was more to life than pretense.

It cracks me up when people tell my husband, “You just don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about you! I am so jealous! You just don’t know what it’s like.”

Compliment or insult, we take it that we are obviously living life on our own terms.

THAT is why I have explored this notion of HAPPYMESS.

There is so much mess in every life. There are NO perfect families, no perfect wives, no perfect husbands, no perfect people. So why do we think we can pretend we are?

Who are we? Does anyone dare anymore to really discover that?

Or should we ask, “Who were we? And how did we become this way?”

“Who is defining me? Who do I want to be?”

Hard questions for LIFE.

Think of Martha Stewart. We all hate her because her crafts are so freaking perfect. We love to hate how mean and how verbal she is about her perfection. We probably cheered when her daughters turned their backs on her. But what did she do? She embraced her mistakes and turned out more laid back about her shortcomings and stronger than ever before! She is more celebrity after her MESS than she was before. And mostly because now we can relate to her!

I have a challenge for all of those who can hang with me.

Dig deeply into your messes and unearth the AUTHENTIC HAPPYMESS that lies just beneath the surface.

Why do we think if we don’t address it that it will go away? I know plenty of people who went through challenging things, who stuck together when others were saying, “How can you take that? Everyone knows.” I commend them for embracing and working through that mess, whatever that means to them.

Every person has a right and a yearning to be happy. We have been trying to be happy since our early days dreaming of birthday parties and holiday gifts and prince charming sweeping us away on our wedding days.

But LIFE has messes.

God has made every person with a unique set of fingerprints. Every person has a purpose. We find that our MESSES are the best places to find our MESSAGE to the world. We can help others through things that have hurt us.

As we will be moving to our new home in less than three weeks there will probably be lapses in the happYmess Series

and more on the HOW DO I DOWNSHIFT FROM A MESS to a happYmess homeLIFE.

I hope you will bookmark or follow along as I provide tools for unearthing YOUR happYmess.

It all begins in the morning for me with

1)   a journal

2)   a devotional to get me thinking on the right track and

3)   a gratitude journal and some good music

4)   and the action of free writing for fifteen minutes without lifting my pen.

You will be amazed at how much clutter you wake up with.

If you will let all of the clutter fill three pages of a regular sized notebook page without lifting the pen, just jotting unbridled thoughts until you hit the end of page three you will find not only clutter at first but formations of ideas that are sitting just beneath the surface, perhaps dreams you have pushed out of the way, ideas for things you can do for others.

Set your mind free!

Then as you start your day you will find that by the time you hit the ground running your mind is already on step 2~ problem solving.

Instead of remembering at the red light what you need to do, you have it out there and are brainstorming (usually on auto-pilot) stage two.

You will probably also find yourself venting to your friends LESS because you have already “gotten it out” and some of the things you built up to be so huge, no longer are.

TRY IT, this week!

Stand out there in your bathing suit girlfriend and toss the truth to the wind!

Let your soul set free and embrace your happYmess!

Image

May God Bless your happYmess!

Allison

May 2013 Special Days to Celebrate


May 2013 Special Days to Celebrate Calendar.

If you are like me, you are counting the days until Summer!

Hopefully time will appear to slow down and you will find yourself somewhere beside some water or with your toes in the sand.

Well, while the kids are peering at you from between the water toys and the magazines, pull this calendar out (there is one for every month) thanks to Family Crafts and tell them to let their creativity soar.

And on May 10! There is something for YOU to cheer about! National Clean up Your Room Day!

I will be sure to put balloons on the mailbox for that one!

Every day can begin with some kind of celebration! It does’t have to be “just another day”.

The link above will lead you to peruse the pages of the site where this was created  and you and the fam can CELEBRATE everyday in happYmess!

 

 

The Butterfly Effect of Love by Allison Adams


Science has shown the butterfly effect to engage
with the first movement of any form of matter- including people.
            ~from Andy Andrews book The Butterfly Effect
            a gift for the families who attended the wedding
A few years ago, a boy was too busy to make it out for a blind date with a girl.
After talking to her long distance by chat, text, phone, he decided he had to see her.  Convincing his parents who were on their way to the town where she lived to drop him off at her house for the weekend, he arrived at her doorstep, a sleeping bag and pillow in hand.
I don’t recall the exact way it was told at the Rehearsal Dinner but I think it went down like this.  As he stood there, a surprise to this girl and her college room mates, he waved to his parents over his shoulder with a huge grin, “This is Lauren. I am going to meet her parents this weekend, then another weekend you are going to get to know her and some day we are going to be married!”
They dated a couple of years and the celebration of their lives together was this weekend in Rosemary Beach, Florida.
My husband and two daughters (7 and 17) followed the flutter of love set forth in their college days and headed to Rosemary beach for their wedding.  Getting to know his family, in the brief moments we had around them, was something magical. To meet Will you can only grin from ear to ear. I don’t recall seeing him not smiling, and hugging people, and sticking his arm out to say “I’m Will!” to anyone and everyone he saw.
Toasts from their friends were all upbeat, magical, kind, genuinely all about the magic of their love.  The preacher who married them had been waiting for this day since Will was a child. His humor and pure joy for the occasion sent waves of chuckles throughout the weekend.
A toast was made by an elderly couple, briefly strangers, who met Will on an airplane on his way back from Argentina where he works as a hunting guide.
“I’m getting married,” he told them.
The gentleman whom I would guess is in his seventies gleamed as he and his wife stood to toast Will.  “This boy whom I met for only hours but felt like I knew him my whole life told me about Lauren on the ride home. It sounded like such a magical union. “
Will’s answer was, “You should come. I’ll send you a ticket!”
And that is how the little northern couple too were sucked up into the love current started back in college by a boy with a big heart and a girl who won it with her brains, beauty and love of hunting.
And everywhere we were, stories of Will and Lauren drifted across the wind. Her college friends from Rhodes, her roommates from Auburn, and some from Graduate School at Vanderbilt all meshed together in a tail wind of excitement spurred by the birth of a little girl whose daddy taught her how to hunt and fish and her mama who loved to shop with her and ski and do all the things boys like for girls to do with them while looking “fabulous”.
While her parents are no longer married, the love in her heart and the love they have for her brought them to a moment where they could stand together, for her, with her.  The toast Carson made was not about him…but how “your mother and I feel about the blessing that you are”.
Love is the ultimate goal in life. It is the most important of all of the messages that God left for us here on earth.
The couple didn’t say “we are in love”.
They ARE love. Their eyes showed it, their hugs showed it. There was no need for words.
In a time when the world seems tiny and meaningless for so many as it crumbles around us and hate rises up, we are reminded on a beach in a small town of Rosemary that there are great new beginnings being formed. There are messages floating along the sands and waves shouting out to perhaps a couple who was there who re-kindled a stale relationship, or a stranger who watched from beyond the dunes who dreamed of one day having such a blessed marriage.
Yes, there were butterfly effects going on all around us in Rosemary.
My seven year old watched it all.  Perhaps the effect she sees will be with her forever as she aspires for true love.  She was so excited to help hand out the rosemary that would shower the bride and groom  as they rolled off in their antique thunderbird convertible. Rosemary symbolizes love, remembrance, friendship and truth ~ something they will take into a new life, a new world, where laced into an even more powerful strand, I have no doubt that they will send tornadoes of hope across the world.

I can feel them now in Belize~ landing on a soft beach, speaking of love, toasting to their future, perhaps sparking a small wave, a breeze of what is to come across the planet where we are, just as we are soaking in and simply remembering the first wave.

Cheers and congratulations to you for touching my life and reminding me how precious my sweet husband is and how blessed I am with my children.
The greatest of these….is love.  Thanks for sharing yours!
Allison Adams

Legacy~ A Daily Blog Post for #bloglikecrazy


 Legacy. The pastor of my church has been talking about legacy for the past month. Regardless of your religious beliefs I think we should all be thinking about the kind of legacy we want to leave behind. So how do you want to be remembered and what are you doing about it today? Javacia #bloglikecrazy
Legacy
I look around at all of the things I have wanted to do, the projects, the books undone, the artwork I am yet to try, the scrap book started, the photo albums, the journals (from the time I was five). 
Unfortunately right now my legacy would be a mess of stuff to sort through or throw out.
We all have a unique makeup and a legacy, according to Charles Wale’s book called Designed for Fulfillment on Redemptive Gifts. His book, has not only given me freedom to realize I was destined and designed in a unique design as everyone is.
 According to just a few of the answers to my personality questionnaire I was designed to
  1. be a fighter for the underdog, and have a large range of emotions,
  2. be intuitive about people sometimes to my detriment as judgemental and am committed to truth,
  3. be a visionary and have more creative ideas than I could ever possibly achieve, (that one was a relief)
  4. demonstrate zeal, passion, impulsiveness and verbal expressiveness.
If you have ever found you are not like those around you and have apologized for being different, perhaps you should dig deeper into your personality. 
MAYBE you were destined to be the way you are for a reason! How refreshing to find that while I was unlike those around me, there is a definite plan for those traits and a reason for those that are not so desirable as well as a plan for me to work through them so that I can fulfill my little portion of purpose on this earth.
I don’t know what my legacy is and I don’t know if I am supposed to specify it. If I do that, I might miss something much better!
I encourage you to dig deeper into who you are, why you have those unique fingerprints that NO OTHER ON EARTH has. When you find that, your legacy will fall in line and there will be no reason to think or dwell on it.
After all, as human as the world is, you can go through life with TONS of good intentions, but if they are hurt, they will never see what you were trying to do. They will only see you, and your legacy, through their own filters.
It is not our place to try to direct that….only let it play out as God intends.
So for now, I am still excavating deeper into who I am while I am here. The legacy is yet to be seen.
Allison Adams
as part of #bloglikecrazy with daily prompts 

Play in the DOUGH


CREATIVITY BLOG LIKE CRAZY A DAY
doesn’t ALWAYS have to be about PAINTING
Get out your crescent rolls and play in them!
(hot dog inside makes it even yummier with a dab of mustard!)
Make the kids smile at a crocodile!
How do I know it is indeed a croc?
I don’t! Who cares!
But I know the kids were smiling!