September 2023 Arab

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2023 Photo contest See the winners! Alabama’s oyster industry

General Manager Stacey White

ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

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Allison Law

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Mark Stephenson

Art Director

Danny Weston

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Sweet and savory

The family of Quinton and Joni Harris all help with the operation of Kay-Bri Desserts and Southern Venue in eastern Wilcox County, which specializes in homemade cakes, cookies, muffins and cinnamon rolls, as well as weekend lunches and dinners.


Covered bridges

Many areas of our state have picturesque covered bridges, and our readers shared their favorites.

State of the oyster

From wild wonders to farm-fresh delights, we’ve got the latest on the state of Alabama’s oyster industry.

54 Enjoy a Cup o’ Joe

Say hi to Joe Hobby, once a joke writer for Jay Leno, now our new humor columnist.

Lindsey Green of Union Grove, a member of Arab EC, took the cover shot of these young foxes for our 2023 photo contest. Green watched the two foxes for hours, and “they were not even bothered that I was there.” See more winners beginning on Page 12.

20 54 VOL. 76 NO. 9 SEPTEMBER 2023 DEPARTMENTS 11 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 44 Cook of the Month 42 Outdoors 43 Fish & Game Forecast 54 Cup o’ Joe ONLINE: 30 SEPTEMBER 2023 3 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Al abama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117
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Board of Trustees

Introducing a Payment Kiosk

Expanding payment options for our valued members

We are delighted to announce the latest addition to our array of services: a cutting-edge Payment Kiosk, now available at our office!

At Arab Electric Cooperative we constantly seek innovative ways to enhance member convenience, and the introduction of this kiosk adds another layer of payment options, offering our members yet another seamless and hassle-free way to pay their bill.

The Payment Kiosk represents a step forward in our commitment to providing multiple payment channels, ensuring that our members have the flexibility to choose the method that best suits their preferences. With this self-service station, members can conveniently make payments using cash or credit card, without the need for face-to-face interactions or lengthy wait times.

Convenience and Accessibility: The Payment Kiosk offers round-the-clock accessibility, allowing members to make payments at their own convenience, even outside regular business hours. This means no more worrying about tight deadlines or rushing to meet payment schedules; the kiosk is always available to serve our members’ needs.

Efficiency and Speed: We understand the importance of time, and the Payment Kiosk ensures swift and efficient transactions, reducing processing times significantly. Members can complete their payments within minutes, freeing up their schedule for more important tasks.

User-Friendly Interface: The kiosk is designed with a user-friendly interface, making it easy for members of all ages and tech-savviness to navigate and complete their transactions effortlessly. Our commitment to inclusivity ensures that every member can take advantage of this new payment option with ease.

Secure Transactions: The security of our members’ financial data is of utmost importance to us. The Payment Kiosk employs robust security measures, ensuring that all transactions are encrypted and safeguarded against unauthorized access.

General Manager

Environmentally Friendly: Embracing digital payment options not only streamlines the payment process but also contributes to reducing paper usage and our ecological footprint. By utilizing the Payment Kiosk, members actively participate in our sustainability efforts.

At Arab Electric Cooperative, our primary focus is our members’ convenience. By introducing the Payment Kiosk, we add yet another layer of payment options to our diverse array of services. Whether members prefer in-person interactions, online transactions, or any other method, we are dedicated to providing the flexibility and choices you desire.

We look forward to serving you better with this exciting addition. Come experience the ease and efficiency of our Payment Kiosk and see how it revolutionizes your payment experience at Arab Electric Cooperative. Thank you for being a valued member, and we are committed to continuously elevating your journey with us.

Nathan Clark District 7 Jeff Warren District 6 Jordan Stewart District 2 Janet Bright District 1 Tyler Barnes Secretary District 5 Charles W. Whisenant President District 8 Bill Stricklend Treasurer District 4 Dianne Prestridge Vice President District 3 Ty Smith District 9
Stacey White

Mechanical Services & Maintenance Department

This month’s spotlight is on the department that keeps Arab Electric Cooperative rolling.

As a utility we are always on call and being ready at a moment’s notice is a requirement. Making sure that we are ready to serve you is where you will find Wayne Mahathey and Ethan Light.

Wayne and Ethan provide mechanical services and maintenance to all our equipment. In short, this department is Arab Electric’s roadside assistance program for bucket trucks and equipment. Some of other services that this department provides include:

• Building maintenance

• Substation grounds maintenance

• Grounds maintenance at headquarters

Arab Electric is very thankful to have these dedicated men as a part of our team. While many of their tasks are performed behind the scenes, their service to our Membership is invaluable.

Arab Electric Cooperative will be closed on

Monday, September 4 for Labor Day. We will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.

Energy Efficiency | Tip of the Month

Did you know fall is the perfect time to schedule a tune-up for your heating system? Home heating accounts for a large portion of winter energy bills, and no matter what kind of system you have, you can save energy and money by regularly maintaining your equipment.

Combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing and thermostat settings can save about 30% on your energy bills.

Source: Dept. of Energy

| Arab EC |
Ethan Light & Wayne Mahathey
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 5

We make a living by what we get...

| Arab EC |

we make a life by what we give.

| Arab EC |
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 7


Occasionally, severe weather can cause power disruptions. When outages occur, our lineworkers get to work! They restore power as quickly and safety as possible. Help the lineworker reach the transformer to fix the power outage.

| Arab EC |

University of West Alabama covered bridge. Students walk through it between residence halls and classroom buildings to get to the student union.

SUBMITTED by Tammy White, Hartselle.

Our family’s red covered bridge. SUBMITTED by Peg Watson

November theme: “Lost my first tooth” | Deadline: September 30

RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.

Online: | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124
Phenix City. Robbie and Trace Turner at Emert’s Cove Bridge in Gatlinburg, TN. SUBMITTED by Misty Turner, Sylvania. My wife, Sheree, and me at Swann Covered Bridge in Blount County. SUBMITTED by Tim Powell, Tallassee. Roland Postler visiting Clarkson Covered Bridge near Cullman, AL. SUBMITTED by Nancy Postler Dothan.
| Alabama Snapshots | Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 9
Kymulga Covered Bridge in Childersburg, AL.. SUBMITTED by Jeanna Bulman, Orange Beach.

Smithsonian exhibit comes to Alabama this fall

The “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” exhibit begins its five-town tour of Alabama on Sept. 14, with a grand opening in Cleveland, in Blount County. Over 2023-2024, “Crossroads” will also visit White Hall in Lowndes County, Roanoke in Randolph County, Triana in Madison County and Ozark in Dale County.

The exhibit looks at the remarkable evolution in rural life over the past century and explores how Americans have responded and adapted. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred. The exhibit is a partnership between the Alabama Humanities Alliance and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. Visit

Send us your photos from the stands!

Are you a die-hard fan of the Friday night lights? Are you ready for your favorite high school team to take to the court later this fall? Then we need your help!

The Electric Cooperatives of Alabama are proud sponsors of this year’s Alabama High School Athletic Association’s 2023 Super 7 Football Championship and the 2024 Boys and Girls Basketball Championships, which will air live on Alabama Public Television.

We’d like you to send us some great photos of your friends and family cheering on your favorite team, or just a photo from the perspective of watching the game from the stands. We may use your photo in a commercial!

Visit to send us your photos.

Entries sought for Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award

The Fitzgerald Museum’s third annual Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award is accepting submissions of portfolios from young writers currently attending high school (grades 9 –12) in Alabama.

Submissions will be accepted from Sept. 1 until Dec. 31. Each student may only enter once. Portfolios should be submitted through the web form on the Fitzgerald Museum’s website, Questions should be directed to coordinator Foster Dickson at, with “Zelda Fitzgerald Award Question” in the subject line. Portfolios should contain literary works (stories, poems, plays or film scripts, multi-genre works) totaling 5 to 15 pages. Works may include artwork, illustrations, font variations, and other graphic elements.

Montgomery, Alabama native Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was daring and revolutionary in her life, art, and writing, and the Young Writers Award seeks to identify and honor Alabama’s high school students who share her talent and spirit. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame in spring 2020.

Find the hidden dingbat!

Searching for last month’s dingbat, a vinyl record, was apparently quite enjoyable for many of our readers who took the time to write or email us. Laura Leigh Wright says, “I am a collector of vinyl since I inherited my Dad’s collection when he passed away. This was a fun one to search for!” Savannah Engelking says she found the dingbat (it’s a magnet on the refrigerator in the photo on Page 38), which she described as “such a cheeky spot that I never would have thought to look there! Thanks for keeping fun activities for us to do because some of us look forward to it!” James R Warren of Gulf Shores wrote us that he was glad to participate in the contest “especially since the most observant participants seem to be children, and I am 88 years old.” Searching for the record album took Itylene Benedick of Jack, a member of South Alabama Electric Cooperative, down memory lane. “I always enjoyed the vinyl records…they were so popular when I growing up and in adult life…the dingbat brought back many memories for me.”

And Michelle Cobb of Louisville, a member of Pea River EC, said she found the dingbat the first time looking through the magazine when she spied the photo of the child with the refrigerator door open, “a big pet peeve for me.” But she was happy to find the vinyl frig magnet, so then she could “relax and read the articles, which I noticed several had caught my attention.” That’s the idea, Michelle!

Congratulations to Michelle Turvin of Dothan, a member of Wiregrass EC, for being our randomly drawn winner this month. She wins a gift card from Alabama One Credit Union. This month, we’ve hidden a treasure chest in recognition of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Sept. 19. Good luck!

Sponsored by

10 SEPTEMBER 2023 Spotlight | September
The Smithsonian traveling exhibit will highlight change in rural America over the past century.

Whereville, AL Take us along!

We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving. coop. Be sure to include your name, hometown and electric cooperative, and the location of your photo.We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month. Make sure your photo is clear, in focus and not in shadow.

Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative, if applicable. The winner and answer will be announced in the October issue.

Submit by email:, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.

Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25!

August’s answer: The Ronald McDonald boll weevil statue – known as “Ronald McWeevil” –is part of a collaborative community art project in Enterprise. This happy fellow – with enough arms to carry a happy meal, fries, drink and one arm empty – stands in front of the McDonald’s restaurant on Boll Weevil Circle. The Wiregrass has several public artworks dedicated to the history of the pest, which devastated the area economy but also allowed for the diversification of agriculture. (Information from WTVM) (Photo by Lenore Vickrey of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Bridgett Hilley of Marshall-DeKalb EC.

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 11 September | Spotlight
Jane and Jerome Kendrick of Cropwell, members of the Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, visited the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Canada, last summer.  Jeffrey Walker of Baker Hill sent us this photo from a trip to Alaska, requested by his girlfriend Danielle’s daughter, Lana, via the Make a Wish program. Walker, a member of Pea River EC, took his magazine on board the Glacier Quest where they cruised the waters of Prince William Sound to visit glaciers and view wildlife. Tisha Lemons, a member of Arab EC,  took her magazine along on a trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Linda Jackson has been waiting patiently for us to run this photo of her and her daughter-in-law, Mandy, and granddaughters Laurel and Ella when they traveled to New York City and saw the fireworks on the East River. She’s a member of Dixie EC. Lynne Brown of Foley, a member  of Baldwin EMC, sent us this photo of her grandson Will Helms, taken with the “Peachoid” water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina. Friends Rayford and Judy  Edmondson, Mary (Penny) Nicholls, and James Bolton of Wedowee, traveled to Icy Point, Alaska with Alabama Living. They are all members of Tallapoosa River EC.

2023 Alabama Living

Once again, the annual Alabama Living photo contest generated a wealth of good photos from our readers – and this year also saw the most entries. More than 330 photos made it into our contest, and we couldn’t be more pleased!

The categories this year, as advertised in the magazine, were Nature, At Play (sports, recreation, having fun) and Alabama Travels. We received so many entries in the Nature category (more than two times as many as the other two categories combined), we decided to split the Nature category into two: Nature – scenery, and Nature – animals and insects.

As in past years, photographers were limited to two photos per category; that includes the Nature

Nature – scenery 1st Place

category (we did not allow four photos in that split category, since we could not re-advertise that distinction).

Each first-place winner will win $100, and those as well as the honorable mentions are shown in the following pages. A big thank-you to all the great amateur photogs who entered this year.

Our judge again this year was Julie Bennett, an award-winning photojournalist based in central Alabama. She is on staff at the Media Production Group at Auburn University and teaches photojournalism in the College of Liberal Arts. She has also taken several photos for Alabama Living. (She did not know the identities of the entrants.)

Mike Benton, Baldwin EMC

Judge’s comment: There is something so serene about this image. I love the composition, the leading lines and the framing. Super nice light with the sunset and a great use of exposure here.

Living photo contest

 Celeste Collier

North Alabama EC

Judge’s comment: Beautiful colors here. I love the composition – the lines in the photo bring your eye to people.

Honorable Mention

Cheree Caudle, Livingston, Ala. 

Judge’s comment: The details and the colors here are gorgeous. Kudos on the exposure and the edits.

Honorable Mention

 Troy Beshears

Anniston, Ala.

Judge’s comment: Wow, what a beautiful scene. Nice work on the exposure that really captured it.

Honorable Mention

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 13

Nature – animals and insects 1st Place

 Sandra Kiplinger, Arab EC

Judge’s comment: This was a super difficult category. Not only were there a lot of pictures, but there were a lot of really good ones. The timing of this photo is magnificent. I love how up-close and personal we are with the dolphin.

 Meredith Crigler, Baldwin EMC Judge’s comment: This photo is so captivating. The shallow depth of field between the foreground and background make this look like it was shot for a movie.

Honorable Mention

 David Adams, Pioneer EC Judge’s comment: There are quite a few interesting photos of birds, but this one stands out to me because of the composition and repetition of the branch through the frame. Also, the isolation of the bird is notable.

Honorable Mention


At play

 Ashley Bass, Eclectic, Ala. Judge’s comment: Super creative photo: I can’t help but want to know more about it. That young lady seems very proud of her harvest and what an interesting way to show it off.

Honorable Mention

Judge’s comment: This is such a sweet moment. The light from the sunset coupled with the ocean waves make the scene memorable.

Honorable Mention

Judge’s comment: I love the composition of this photo! The colors and the reflection on the water bring your eye right back up to the fishing boat in silhouette. It’s such a peaceful capture with the fog in the distance and the still water in the foreground.

1st Place
Troy Beshears, Anniston, Ala. Michael Swindle, Baldwin EMC

Alabama Travels

1st Place

Troy Beshears, Anniston, Ala.

Judge’s comment: Fireworks can be tricky to shoot with the long exposures required to capture them correctly, but the photographer really nailed this one.

Cayce Willis, Trinity, Ala.

Judge’s comment: Love the composition of this! Great decision by the photographer on the crop of the shadows; they make it so much more interesting.

Anjana Henry, Joe Wheeler EMC

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention

Judge’s comment: I can tell a lot of work went into this. Nice use of a long exposure to capture those stars.

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 19

The state of Alabama’s oysters

Consumer demand drives growth of oyster industry

For most people, there’s not much middle ground when it comes to oysters: You either really like them or you really don’t. And for true oyster fans, the mollusks are more than a meal; they’re an experience, often served at special celebrations and ordered time and time again at favorite restaurants. But whether you consider the bivalve beloved or “bleh,” in Alabama, they’re a seafood staple.

Wild wonders

In Alabama, we harvest and eat one species of oyster: the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginia). But there are two sources of these oysters: wild stock and farms. For the first population, recent years have yielded good news. Following major hurricanes like Ivan (2004) and Katrina (2005) and then years of drought that dropped water salinity levels, the number of wild oysters in Alabama waters plummeted.

“Low salinity means less oysters spawning and more oyster predators, like the oyster drill,” says Col. Scott Bannon, director of Alabama’s Marine Resources. In 2019, the state didn’t even have a harvest season; the status of oysters was that bleak. But then, they made a comeback.

According to Bannon, wild oyster numbers are now on the upswing, evidenced by his department’s seasonal surveys. “I’m hopeful that this season’s results will be similar to the last few years, which have been trending positive thanks to conditions getting right again,” he says. This means more oysters for eating and

and sell them.

Farm fresh

The number of farmed oysters being grown in Alabama waters is also on the rise. As late as 2009, there were zero oyster farms in Alabama; today, there are approximately 17. Like more robust wild populations, a growing oyster farming industry also means more jobs and a boost for coastal communities’ economies. Plus, these “boutique” oysters are not in competition with the wild stock; they complement it. They are a different product, raised with emphasis on taste and appearance, and most often enjoyed on the half shell, either raw or dolloped with butter and seasonings before being roasted.

Off-bottom oyster farming (also called oyster aquaculture) is the method used by most Alabama oyster farms and differs from raising livestock on land. While farmers do control some aspects of their “crop,” they aren’t feeding them or medicating them. They’re simply protecting them as they grow.

Like most farming, cultivating oysters starts with seed — tiny baby oysters that have been collected from mature oysters after they spawn in facilities called hatcheries. Once in the hands of one of the state’s oyster farms, these still-growing oysters go into the water of Alabama’s coastal bays and inlets, either in baskets strung from lines attached to pilings or in floating cages.

At this point, each farmer uses his own specific methods to tend

Closeup of an Alabama farmed oyster.

to his oysters. They may rest in different depths of water, which can impact taste, thanks to ranges in salinity and available food sources. The baskets or cages are turned at different intervals to manipulate the oysters’ cup size (the depth of the shell), which influences the shape of the meat inside and its texture. (Some farms remove the oysters from their baskets and tumble them in a machine to enhance this effect.) Moving the baskets also allows farmers to keep the shells free of barnacles and other pests than can, at worst, harm the oysters and at best, take away from the shells’ natural, unblemished beauty.

The bump up in the number of oyster farms and in the amount of oysters they’re growing is in direct response to heightened consumer demand, says Andrea Tarnecki, Ph.D., an assistant extension professor at Auburn University’s Shellfish Lab. “We’ve been increasing the numbers of farmed oysters harvested as well as their value,” she says.

feet wet, as well as a more streamlined permitting process and resources like “There has been a lot of effort made by state agencies and others to provide training programs, and Alabama’s Marine Resources is supportive of farming,” she says.

One of the oldest and largest oyster farms in Alabama is Murder Point, run by the Zirlott family. They’ve long pulled a living from the Gulf, working as shrimpers, but in 2013 they diversified into oysters and chose the name based on a legend surrounding the farm’s location in Sandy Bay.

“Decades ago, they say a guy killed someone over oyster harvesting rights in this area,” says Lane Zirlott. “And now we say ours are so good they’re worth killing for.”

They may not bring anyone to actual violence, but they are popular, with diners asking for them by name at restaurants around the Southeast and now buying them direct from Murder Point’s two

Showing off the cleaner (non-barnacle-encrusted) shells of some Alabama farmed oysters, pulled straight from their basket that was suspended in the water.

the market being saturated. “There’s plenty of demand for all the oysters,” he says.

Navy Cove Oysters is also expanding and even offers farm tours to local visitors. Co-owner Chuck Wilson echoed Zirlott. “Alabama has huge potential for farm production and coincident restoration of oyster-elated ecosystem services. The farming community needs to work with state regulators to help that grow,” he says.

Big benefits for all

Lots of oysters — farmed and wild — are not just good for eaters and economies; oysters are key to healthy waters, as Bannon explains. “They are food sources for other species. I call them foundational critters, and they are a vital part of our Gulf ecosystem,” he says. Oyster farms bring additional environmental benefits. Their setups create homes for other marine life, and since oysters are filter feeders, more oysters in the water means more little filters cleaning it; adult oysters filter, on average, approximately two gallons per hour.

Tarnecki agrees and points to the work she and the Shellfish Lab are doing to help. “There’s research going on now to identify best practices for oyster reef restoration and conservation of other coastal habitats, which improves overall water quality,” she says. “There are also efforts in the Gulf working to breed oysters that are more resilient to environmental changes and disease. We have several research projects looking at that right now.”

Aw, shucks!

The populations of both Alabama’s wild and cultivated oysters are strong, but there are challenges facing both. Reefs resting in areas of low dissolved oxygen are a problem for wild oysters.

“We’re trying to solve that, creating some high spots for oysters to set to see if they’ll survive better elevated where there is more oxygen,” Bannon says.

He and his team are also helping oyster harvesters become more efficient with an improved oyster management system. “We’ve divided areas into grids, and harvesters can use their smart phone to see which are open or closed,” Bannon says. “It helps us monitor reef health and helps them find the grids that haven’t been hit as hard, maximizing their chances for a good haul.”

For oyster farmers in Alabama, one hurdle is access to quality farming areas. Marine Resources is hoping to partner with Alabama’s state lands division for a fix. “We’d like to allow folks to bid on and lease sections of state property to get the riparian (oyster harvesting or growing) rights off those lands to open up more spots,” Bannon says. “There is potential for more successful oyster farming in Alabama — the demand is there — but we have other issues too, like not enough oyster seed.”

This problem is why Murder Point’s operation is now fully integrated; it has its own hatchery to supply its farm with seed. But it’s not the number one challenge for farmers, according to Zirlott. “Some people still don’t really get what farmed oysters are, and others are still worried about eating oysters raw or eating them in certain months,” he says.

While immune-suppressed people should always be cautious about any raw food, Zirlott stresses how today’s refrigeration technology and strict industry regulations have made the consumption of oysters safer than ever. “It’s just not like the old days,” he says. “And we never cut corners in safety or quality.”

Bannon praises the quality of all Alabama oysters. “I travel around and have tried oysters from all over the country,” he says. “I like our Gulf Coast oysters better than any I’ve had.”

All this oyster info making you hungry? Two oyster-centric events are on Alabama’s autumn agenda.

Montgomery Oyster Festival, 3-7 p.m., Sept. 16 in Montgomery, Old Alabama Town. Check Facebook for details and ticket info.

Experience the Oyster, Nov. 3-4 in Gulf Shores,

Both invite you to eat your fill of Gulf-farmed oysters. Try them raw and “naked” or sample cooked-oyster creations from some of the South’s best chefs.

Harvesting wild oysters in Alabama waters with the tonging method.
Eat ‘em up
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 23

Alabama Bookshelf

In this periodic feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or events, or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions to Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to feature all the books we receive.

The Unsettled, by Ayana Mathis, Knopf, $14.99 (cultural heritage) This multi-generational novel is set in the 1980s in racially and politically turbulent Philadelphia as well as the tiny town of Bonaparte, Alabama, a Black community whose legacy and land a grandmother is fiercely trying to defend from White developers. The novel is about looking for a place to belong, having and losing land and what it means for a fractured family in America, according to the author.

Coastal Alabama Alphabet, by Rebecca M. Giles and Karyn W. Tunks, Brother Mockingbird, $21.99 (picture book/nonfiction) People, places, and events from Grand Bay to Orange Beach all make lower Alabama unique. Rhymed verse and interesting facts are paired with illustrations and work by local artists to highlight the distinct features of the area. The book also promotes learning with a hidden picture activity and glossary.

Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen

Nurse and her Military Sisters, by Pia Marie Winters Jordan, University of Georgia Press/ NewSouth Books, $29.95 (women’s history)

Air Born, by Jan Davis, Ballast Books, $29.99 (aviation/history)

Ben Smotherman, a B-17 pilot in World War II, was shot down over Holland in 1943 and was a prisoner of war for 21 months. Years later, after perusing his wartime log, his daughter, Jan Davis, made discoveries about her father’s experiences that shed light on her own life path. Davis is a space shuttle astronaut, flew NASA jets and completed three spaceflights, with more than 674 hours in orbit. She is also a member of North Alabama EC.

The Archaeology of Protestant Landscapes, by Kimberly Pyszka, University of Alabama Press, $49.95 (Alabama history) Part of a series titled The American South: New Directions and Perspectives, this work focuses on three religious institutions in the U.S. South in the 18th and 19th centuries, including St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in central Alabama. The author uses three case studies to highlight the social roles that religious organizations played in the development of communities.

The book focuses on the two dozen or so Black women, graduates of nursing schools throughout the country and lieutenants in the Army Nurse Corps, who staffed the station hospital on the base where the famed Tuskegee Airmen were undergoing training. The Airmen were not the only ones making Black history during World War II, the author found; these nurses had to fight gender as well as racial discrimination.

Five Points South: Poems from an Alabama Pilgrimage, by Nancy Owen Wilson, Kelsay Books, $20 (poetry)

A memoir written in poetic format, the book chronicles a road trip by the author, in which she revisits the places, characters and events of her heartland. She tackles difficult subject matter, including race and the legacy of slavery, but readers will likely come away with a feeling of hope.


Protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning

Firing up one fuel-powered portable generator produces as much carbon monoxide (CO) as hundreds of combustion-engine cars, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Using a portable generator in a home, garage or too close to an enclosed area is like starting a parking lot full of cars and letting the CO poison seep into that area. The devastating result is almost immediate: The CO from one generator can kill in minutes.

CO facts

• CO is colorless and odorless. Poisoning can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious before recognizing any symptoms.

Each year in the U.S.:

• Approximately 85 individuals die from CO poisoning.

• Most deaths (81%) occur in residential locations.

• African Americans are at greater risk of CO poisoning, accounting for 23 percent of generator-related CO deaths, nearly double their estimated  13 percent share of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census.

Using a portable generator safely:

• Always use a portable generator at least 20 feet away from your home.

• Never operate one inside a home, on a porch or near windows and doors.

• Apply the 20-foot distance rule to other locations, such as a shed, cabin, camper or trailer.

• When shopping for a generator, look for one that gives off reduced emissions.

• Also look for one that shuts off automatically when high levels of CO are present.

• Keep your generator well maintained and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.

• Operate it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot pool underneath.

• Ensure CO detectors are installed on every level of your home and near or in bedrooms.

• Test CO alarms monthly; also track their age. They need to be replaced every seven years.

A portable generator is usually gas-powered and movable. A generator should have more output than the wattage of the electronics plugged into it. This way, the generator will be able to create the extra electricity it takes for the initial power surge. Make sure there is nothing plugged into the generator when turning it on.

Besides portable generators, there are also standby generators. The standby versions are attached directly to the house and are typically powered by natural gas or propane. These generators start automatically when the power goes out.

To prevent feeding power back into the power grid and endangering electric line crews and others, standby generators should have a transfer safety switch installed by a professional. Never plug a portable generator directly into a home outlet or electrical system for the same reason.

For more electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity. org


Don’t be afraid to report elder abuse

Elder abuse is the intentional mistreatment or harming of an older person. An older person is defined by the Social Security Act as someone over age 60. This abuse takes many forms – including physical, emotional, and sexual harm, neglect, and financial exploitation. More than 1 in 10 older adults experience some form of abuse each year. That number is likely much higher because elder abuse is often underreported– especially in underserved communities.

Abuse victims typically show emotional and behavioral red flags, such as depression, unusual fear or anxiety, or intentional isolation. Many victims are abused by someone they know or trust. It’s important to look for unusual changes in behavior around:

• Family members.

• Staff at inpatient facilities.

• Hired or volunteer caregivers.

• People in positions of trust like doctors or financial advisors.

• You can also help make a difference by checking in with older loved ones. Looking for warning signs of mistreatment is the first step to preventing abuse. Signs of physical abuse include bruises, burns, or other unexplained injuries.

There may also be signs of neglect like:

• Poor nutrition or hygiene.

• Lack of necessary medical aids like glasses or medications that a caretaker should be providing.

There may also be indications of financial abuse. These may include:

• Unpaid rent.

• Sudden changes to a will.

• Unusual changes in money management.

• Large, unexplained financial transactions.

• Mortgages despite sufficient financial resources.

• Allowing someone new to access bank accounts.

If you suspect that someone is a victim of elder abuse, don’t ignore it! If you or someone you care about is in a life-threatening situation, call 911. If you suspect that something isn’t right – but nobody seems to be in immediate danger – contact:

• Your local Adult Protective Services at

• The  National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-855-500-3537 (ELDR).

• You can also find additional local resources by searching the Eldercare Locator for your community at eldercare.acl. gov/Public/index.aspx

Take some time to call or visit with an older adult. Ask if they are okay and listen to what they tell you. Pay attention to signs of abuse or unusual behavior. Most of all, don’t be afraid to report instances of suspected abuse. Please share this information with those who need it.


Answers on Page 49 September
Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at
Across 1 Alabama poplar tree colors in fall
Alabama hickories in fall (color description)
Madison County Nature ____: scenic park with fall colored foliage 10 River craft 12 Town on a map 13 Of, in French 14 Rustic cabin component 15 “Bette Davis Eyes” singer Carnes 17 St Louis locale, abbr. 18 Compass point, abbr. 19 First name in cotton gins 20 Ward off 22 Tree covering 24 __ Creek Nature Preserve, well known for gorgeous waterfalls in Colbert County 25 Cocktail mix ingredient 26 Preserve 27 Alabama trees that turn scarlet in fall 29 Brain scan, abbr. 31 It’s crisp in the fall 32 Noah’s boat 34 Town which is the home to Scott’s Orchard, growing 18 varieties of apples and 20
36 Tavern order 37 Agriculture, abbr. 38 Gadsden is home to these 90-foot falls and the beautiful scenery around them 39
varieties of peaches, Hazel ____
“__ Dalloway” (Woolf novel) Down 1 Areas for BBQs
the Fall
2 This national preserve is a great choice for a fall visit: ___ ____ Canyon, 2 words 3 Fall color of Alabama maples 5 _ Mountain State Park in Pelham with has recreational activities and colorful fall foliage 6 Arid 7 Footwear giant 8 Pacino or Yankovic 11 Love a lot 15 ___ Falls Trail, in the Sipsey Wilderness
16 Showy parrot 17 Small town that’s home to DeSoto Falls 18 Long story 21 Hospital for vets,
23 On bended
26 Covered bridge on
Color Trail road trip
28 “Mountain Music” and “ Dixieland Delight,” for example 30 Fest ive celebration 33 Divinity school subj., abbr. 34 Student score, abbr. 35 Corn piece 36 Device that controls the temperature, abbr.

Around Alabama



Ozark South Alabama Pro Classic Rodeo, 202 Alabama Highway 123. Gates open at 5 p.m. with mutton bustin’ at 6 p.m. and rodeo at 7:30 p.m. Vendors will be on site. See the event’s Facebook page for more information.

9 Fayette 53rd Fayette Arts Festival at the art museum/civic center, 530 Temple Ave. North, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

sales and live music, which begins at 9 a.m. Fried pie tasting, quilt, coloring and photography contests, arts and crafts vendors and antique car, truck, motorcycle and tractor show. The Red Bay Museum will be open for tours and the Weatherford Library will hold a book sale. 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Search for City of Red Bay on Facebook.

30 Eva Frontier Days Tractor Show, organized by the North Alabama Antique Tractor Club, 4152 Eva Road. More than 100 tractors on display, 50/50 raffle, pedal car race, slow tractor race, parade and more. Vintage car show directly across the street. Search for the North Alabama Antique Tractor Club on Facebook.


Cullman 7th annual Bernard Blues and BBQ Arts and Crafts Fair, 9 a.m. Saturday through 4 p.m. Sunday. Festival is set on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey and Prep School adjacent to Ave Maria Grotto. Features 100 arts and crafts booths with pottery, cypress furniture, wood turned bowls and pens, ornaments and jewelry. Specialty foods will be on site. The Grotto will be open the entire weekend for half-priced admission. A BBQ backyard cook-off with cash prizes will be Saturday; all proceeds benefit St. Bernard.

15-16 Fort Payne Boom Days Heritage Celebration. Music performers include Chasing Payne and Night Moves, the Bob Seger tribute band, on Friday, and Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye on Saturday. Activities pay tribute to the area’s rich cultural and economic past and its beginnings nearly 130 years ago. Free admission.

16 Hartselle Depot Days Festival. Free family-friendly fun and entertainment in the historic downtown area. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Car, truck and motorcycle show, musical performances, food and craft vendors, an art show, tractor and engine show and a variety of games for children. Festival is a tribute to the railroad industry and its contribution to the area. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Auburn Oktoberfest. This craft beer festival is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Auburn University’s Ag Heritage Park. Live music, contests (including stein hoisting), wiener dog racing, Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest, chicken dances, games, educational activities, food trucks and more.


Hokes Bluff Hokes Bluff CityFest, 3301 Alford Bend Road. This free annual event features live entertainment, children’s rides and activities and vendors selling food and arts and crafts. Musical performers include Foggy Hollow, Kaleb King, Sons of the Moon, Midnight State of Mind, Pleasant Gap and headliners Them Dirty Roses. Search for the event’s page on Facebook.


Red Bay Founders’ Fest, Bay Tree Park in downtown. Contests, sidewalk


Titus Bluegrass Festival, Titus Community Center at 5859 Titus Road. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Performances by McMeans Brothers + She’s My Sister, Fire Town and Allen Tolbert and Friends. Admission $10, children 12 and under free. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy music, concessions, arts and crafts.

30 Grant 17th annual Mile Plus Yard Sale, beginning at 6:30 a.m. More than 150 vendors, food trucks, businesses, community groups and old-fashioned yard sales will line Main Street. While there, visit area attractions, such as Cathedral Caverns State Park and the Kate Duncan Smith DAR School. 256-728-8800.


Decatur North Alabama Trails and Recreation’s second NATR festival at Point Mallard Park, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Event will feature regional outdoor recreation outfitters and vendors as well as organizations that can offer education on enjoying the area’s resources. $5 adults, with children under 12 free. Biking, canoeing, climbing and hiking around the park will be offered by sponsors; food trucks will have concessions.


Birmingham Fiesta, Linn Park. Alabama’s largest Hispanic celebration, a family-friendly festival that celebrates Hispanic arts and culture. Advance tickets $15; children 12 and under free. Stage will feature acclaimed Latin artists; community village will showcase local non-profit organizations that serve the community; cultural village features art from more than 20 countries; and food village will feature the diversity of Latina/Hispanic foods.

To place an event, e-mail or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 29
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KayBri Desserts and Southern Venue: Sweets, savory and more

While in graduate school at Alabama A&M, Joni Harris started baking cakes for fun. A friend had invited her to a cake decorating class, and to her surprise, she enjoyed it. Beginning in 1994, baking became a hobby for Joni.

After graduation, she realized this cake-baking thing might be more than just a fun pastime when she and her husband, Quinton, had their first daughter, Kayla. In March of 2001, it came time for that daughter’s first birthday. Joni took the convenient route and picked up a cake from a big box store. A few bites in, and she soon realized she could do better, so she did. This led her to start baking cakes for family and close friends and “she’s been baking ever since,” says Quinton.

As owner of KayBri Desserts, and with Quinton as manager, in 2020 the two expanded their home bakery to their own business location, a fully renovated home in eastern Wilcox County served by Pioneer Electric Cooperative, offering baked goodies including cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more to the public. Located on a rural hillside across the street from the post office in Furman (although some GPS locations show it being in Pine Apple), the business name is a combination of their two daughters’ first names – Kayla and Brianna.

“Basically everything I bake is my own creation,” says Joni, who started cooking at age 8. “I have never followed a recipe. Even if it’s something my mom gave me, I tweak it a little to make it my own.”

Her first cake creation? “It was strawberry cream cheese,” she recalls. “That’s my signature dessert. “Cheesecake was my favorite so I thought, well, let me make sure I can make something I really like and I wanted to do it in a cake form. I did it and people loved it. Now, at every event or church function, they ask for it.”

The Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Cake remains a favorite with customers, along with Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Key

Lime, Lemon, German Chocolate, a variety of pound cakes and many other desserts. Joni’s versatility includes creating these flavors in cupcakes, layer cakes, cheesecakes, and many other custom desserts.

“A lot comes from customer requests,” she says, “like tea cakes, Boston cream pies and turtle cheesecake. I will look to see what the main ingredients are and I will make my own. I know what I like and I know what’s going to taste good.”

Another popular item is her made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls. “I love desserts,” says Joni. “When I was pregnant with Kayla, Quinton would buy me a whole-six pack of cinnamon rolls and I would eat the entire pack. Over a decade later, during Covid-19, I said, ‘this would be a good time to create a new recipe.’ This was my opportunity to innovate my own made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls.”

The results were a huge hit, especially with grown-up Kayla. “I would eat an entire batch,” Kayla recalls.

Expanding the menu

The baking business did well. In an effort to accommodate their customers’ requests, in 2022 the business team decided to venture into offering a limited menu of food on the weekends. “We started with catfish, coleslaw and fries,” says Quinton. Gradually, they started rotating it with ribs, Boston butts, baked beans and potato salad. Friday night fish specials soon included hushpuppies, and customers began to call ahead for pickup orders or eat at the restaurant.

Thus was born Southern Venue, their catering and weekend restaurant venture. “Southern Venue is the place itself,” says Quinton, “and KayBri Desserts resides here.”

Although the original building was designed for a bakery only, they were able to create a dining area and a large outdoor deck to

30 SEPTEMBER 2023 | Worth the drive |
Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Cake is Joni Harris’s signature dessert. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY Quinton and Joni Harris, holding one of Joni’s fresh baked carrot cakes, make customer service a priority. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY

accommodate groups for small events. Southern Venue is now a popular place for celebrations of all types such as graduation parties, birthdays, showers and reunions. “Between the catering and baking, we get all kinds of requests,” he says.

“As we do catering events, we get more referrals,” adds Joni. While Alabama Living was visiting, for example, the team was preparing for a large family reunion in Enterprise the next day. On the menu were roast beef, chicken, green beans, field peas, cornbread, rice, poundcake, tea and Bri’s Lemonade.

“Customers always comment on the great taste of Bri’s Fresh Squeezed Lemonade,” Joni says.

They also do pop-ups at special events out of town, bringing their customized mini-trailer loaded with sweets and other dishes in pre-packaged containers to sell at venues in other cities. “We’ve been all across the state, Dothan, Auburn, Birmingham,” she notes.

The Harrises rely heavily on their family team for support and input to make their business work. Their niece, Lilly C. Flowers, handles social media and marketing and her husband, Justin Flowers, is community service director and self-appointed “taste tester.” Their daughters Kayla and Brianna help with events and catering. Important decisions are made only after family discussions.

Both Joni, trained as an environmental engineer, and Quinton, an area manager with the USDA, continue to work their day jobs, while devoting their weekends to KayBri and Southern Venue. Sunday lunch has proven to be very popular, as customers flock in for a home-cooked meal after church. And Quinton looks forward to finishing up construction on their outdoor kitchen, which will allow him and his staff to have a larger place to fry catfish as well as cook larger quantities of food.

What accounts for their success so far? “I believe it’s because of customer service,” he says. “Our goal, our aim is to make every customer feel a warm welcome. We haven’t had any complaints. If we do, we want to do whatever we can do to be better.”

Kay-Bri Desserts/Southern Venue

8654 Freedom Farm Road

Furman, AL 36741


Follow them on Facebook or at

Hours: Friday through Sunday only 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

From left, family members Quinton, Kayla, Lilly Flowers, Joni, Kayla and Justin Flowers all work together to make Kay-Bri Desserts and Southern Venue successful. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY Joni’s famous cinnamon rolls are a popular menu item. PHOTO BY KAYLA HARRIS Quinton did the landscaping for Southern Venue’s home in Wilcox County. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY Catfish, fries, hushpuppies and coleslaw are often on the weekend menu. PHOTO BY LENORE VICKREY

Putting your soils to the test

Here’s a little gardening quiz to kick off a new school year: What’s the most important test a gardener can take? A soil test, of course.

That’s because a soil test helps you understand the fertility status of the very earth that supports your favorite fruits, vegetables, lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers. A basic soil test will determine the level of essential nutrients (phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) present in the soil and measure soil pH (which affects nutrient uptake in plants) and provide plant-specific nitrogen recommendations.

A soil test is easy to take, no studying or cramming required. It simply involves gathering a composite sample of soil from

across the planting area and sending it, along with a form detailing what crops you intend to grow, off to a professional laboratory for analysis. Within a week or so, results will arrive complete with specific recommendations on the amendments needed to make the soil its most productive. This information also helps avoid overapplication of fertilizers, which saves you money and helps protect the environment.

Here in Alabama, we are lucky to have an exemplary soil testing resource — the Auburn University Soil, Forage and Water Testing Laboratory. The lab was established in 1953 to provide economical fertilizer and lime recommendations to Alabama’s farmers and home gardeners, recommendations based on what is now 150 years of unbiased land-grant university research.

Since soil is a living system and always changing over time, this kind of historical data is invaluable to the lab and can also be a priceless tool for gardeners, which is why you need to frequently retest your soils. The standard recommendation is to repeat soil tests every three years, though Dr. Jessica Davis, manager of Auburn’s soil testing lab, said annual testing is an ideal way to stay on top of your soil’s progress, especially if the initial test called for significant corrections to soil pH or fertility or if your plants are exhibiting problems.

“We recommend doing the test (routine tests are $10 each) the same time each year,” she added, which is important because temperature and weather can seasonally impact pH levels.

Late winter and early spring prior to the start of a new growing season is the busi-

| Gardens |
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at
A single yard or garden can contain a variety of different soils each with its own nutrient profile, which is why it’s important to test soils before applying fertilizers, lime or other soil amendments. These tests are done at specialized testing facilities such as Auburn University’s Soil, Forage and Water Testing Laboratory where skilled technicians run a series of visual and chemical analyses that determine what essential ingredients are present or lacking in the soil. Using that information the can lab generate recommendations tailor made for each soil and crop.

est time at Davis’s lab but testing in the fall and early winter is just as effective. In fact, testing in the fall offers several advantages including beating the winter/spring rush and allowing plenty of time for fertilizers and lime to become incorporated into the soil before spring planting begins.

In addition to routine soil nutrient and pH testing, which Davis describes as “our bread and butter,” the lab can also test for soil particle size, micro-nutrient testing, determine the percentage of organic matter in the soil, and test for the presence of contaminants such as heavy metals. It also provides an array of testing options on feeds and forages, plant tissue, manure and poultry litter and water.

“Right now, we just test agricultural water, but hopefully by 2024 we will be EPA certified for drinking water analysis, especially for our customers on home well systems,” Davis says.

To learn more about all the services pro-

vided by the lab and to watch a video on how to properly take a soil test, visit aaes. Soil test kits are available throughout the state at county Extension offices or soil samples can be sent by the customer in a plastic bag with the form found on the website.

While Davis’s lab doesn’t test for soil diseases or pests, such as nematodes, it shares a building with another invaluable resource: Auburn’s Plant Diagnostic Lab. Learn more about their services and sampling procedures at 


 Plant spring-blooming bulbs and annual flowers such as pansies, mums and zinnias.

 Remove dead and diseased plant material from vegetable and flower garden beds.

 Start planting shrubs and trees.

 Plant cool-season vegetable crops such as leafy greens, broccoli, onions and carrots.

 Divide and transplant overcrowded perennials such as hostas, daylilies, irises and ornamental grasses.

 Continue to weed garden beds and landscape areas.

 Take cuttings from woody shrubs and begin to root them.

 Remove invasive plants from the landscape.

 Start preparing areas to turn into wildflower and native grass meadows.

 Clean and refill birdfeeders and baths.

Once they arrive at the lab, soil samples are dried and ground before undergoing several tests including mixing the soil in water to evaluate the soil’s level of acidity or alkalinity (soil pH), which will affect lime recommendations. Scan this QR code to access the lab’s website.

Think before buying a purebred pet

It has been a while since we talked about pet overpopulation. Overpopulation simply means we are producing more pets than there are homes for. Approximately 3.7 million dogs enter shelters every year in the U.S.

That leads us to the question: Why are we producing more and more pets when we don’t have a home for all of them? Producers will produce as long as we buy… Basic supply and demand, right?

Why do we keep buying from producers? Vanity and dare I say, ignorance. By ignorance, I mean an inability and/or unwillingness to see the bigger picture. When we want something special and then procure it, we feel good about ourselves!

Many years ago, a family came in for their first puppy visit. They brought along a manilla folder about an inch thick. They proceeded to tell us about the ancestry of their new puppy in great detail. This was a golden doodle. I was a bit dumbfounded. After all, just 30 years ago, it would be considered a mixed breed dog, a “mutt!” Now, we carry around its “pedigree” like many of us carry our lineage chart that traces back to the Mayflower!

Now, don’t get me wrong, these people are fantastic human beings, and they love their fur babies to bits! But why do we buy a purebred dog? Maybe it’s a throwback to the old ways of thinking – that fleeting sense of pride in owning something extra special, more valuable, and pres tigious than just your everyday stray or mixed-breed mutt.

It is a complex sociological problem and not easy to define why we want a purebred pet, but movies and celebri ties are great motivators. Studies show that from 1927-2004, 87 movies have influenced dog breed choices, and these influences seem to last for about a de cade. Lassie had us all dreaming of collies and “101 Dalmatians” sparked the craze for the spotted dog! It’s like fashions and fads in the pet world. French bulldogs are the modern-day stars, but bless their hearts, they struggle to get enough oxygen, leading to all that adorable snorting and snuffling.

Now, let’s talk about the big I-word – Ignorance with a capital “I.” More than one client has told me that the shelter dogs are broken. I guess their logic is, why else were these dogs rejected from other homes? Many so-called purebred dogs were

developed by mixing other so-called “purebred” dogs. And going back in time, not a single dog ever landed on this planet as a purebred dog. In the past, we talked about the origin and evolution of dogs. Many of the modern “purebred” dogs are in fact mixed breed dogs selected for different character or physical traits, and selectively bred generation after generation.

The value of the dog or a cat is not in the title (Labrador, Shepherd, golden, Maine coon, Bengal, etc.), but in how they teach us how to give unconditional love. The love we find a little challenging to give to another human for the fear of rejection or expecting reciprocation, we can give freely to animals. Our love is in the personality of the pet, and our connection to them, not their appearance!

Over the years, we have collaborated with many rescue groups. They pick up the pieces where society has tossed out unwanted, excess animals. Rescuers are the golden children of the pet world. However, the sad reality is that all of them, including very large rescue organizations, are always feeling overwhelmed, always trying to make ends meet, and always failing to find homes for the number of pets that

Maybe, just maybe, before you look at FB for dogs for sale, browse the Petfinder website. What we really want is a pet’s personality that fits us, not a specific breed. But if you have a purebred dog, there are many organizations that do rescues of specific breeds. If you visit the American Kennel Club rescue network website at akc. org/akc-rescue-network , there are lists of purebred rescue organizations for almost any breed you can

Overall, there is some good news. Over the last decade, euthanasia in shelters has steadily been decreasing. And one study from Hungary cited that about 45-55% of the dogs in U.S. households are mixed breed. Things are changing for the better!

Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Care near Geraldine, Alabama. To suggest topics for future discussions, email him at contact@
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 41

Hunters need to open their bag of tricks to fool doves

Many people only hunt doves for a weekend or two, perhaps only one day, in September to kick off another hunting season, but the birds can provide exciting action into January.

The 2023-24 Alabama dove season opens in the North Zone at noon Sept. 2. The first split runs through Oct. 22. In the South Zone, the first split runs from noon Sept. 9 through Oct. 29.

The seasons reopen statewide from Nov. 18-26 and again from Dec. 16 until sunset on Jan. 14, 2024. Sportsmen can bag up to 15 doves per day in any combination of mourning and whitewinged doves.

As a bonus, Alabama sportsmen may also shoot Eurasian collared doves, an exotic species native to south Asia, without limit or season. During dove season, collared doves do not count in the daily dove bag limit. Much bigger than mourning doves, collared doves grow nearly as large as park pigeons. The distinctive grayish-black collars around their necks and squared tails provide the best identifying features.

To hunt doves, sportsmen must first find them. Hundreds of birds might crowd a field one day, but disappear the next, particularly as hunting pressure increases. To find doves, look for the four main things they require: food, cover, water and grit.

“A dove’s diet consists of about 99 percent seeds,” says Seth Maddox, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Migratory Game Bird Coordinator. “They eat any type of cultivated grain such as corn, millet, sorghum, also called milo, and even peanuts. They also eat native grass seeds, herbs and weed seeds. Occasionally, they’ll eat berries or maybe even something like snails for calcium.”

The small birds like to feed in fields with bare, open dirt at ground level under a protective leafy canopy that can hide them from hawks and other predators. Sunflower fields provide doves outstanding feeding conditions and cover. Many landowners plant sunflowers specifically for doves.

When feeding, doves usually cluster in a circle so they can watch for danger coming from all directions. Some sportsmen use spinning wing decoys on a pole that create flash like a bird landing. Place static dove decoys around the pole in about a

10-yard radius circle to simulate feeding birds. Attach a few more static decoys to low bushes, fence wires or other places to mimic lookouts.

Doves ordinarily feed at first light. After filling their bellies, they look for “nooning” places where they can rest and digest. While “nooning,” they perch in tall trees, on electrical wires or other places that give them good vantage points to watch for danger. They might stay in their perches most of the day unless disturbed. By late afternoon, birds want to feed again.

Toothless birds need to ingest small pieces of gravel or sand to help break up the hard seeds they swallow whole. Doves frequently go to grit piles or sandy patches to swallow grit, making these piles great places to hunt in mid-morning or afternoon.

Doves also need water to aid digestion. Right before sundown, doves look for a place to drink. In late afternoon, the birds commonly congregate around streams or ponds with sandy or gravel shorelines. A small bird like a dove does not need to visit a huge lake to drink. Just a tire rut filled with water on a gravel or dirt road could provide them with grit and liquid.

Ever mindful of predators, doves typically don’t go directly down to drink. They normally first land in a high vantage place to watch for predators before dropping to the ground. Therefore, when hunting near a water source, place a few decoys on tree limbs like lookouts. Then, add a couple more decoys in an open, gritty area near water to simulate dusting or drinking birds.

Hunters looking for more active, adrenaline-pumping excitement might try jumping doves. Almost like quail hunting, but without dogs pointing coveys for them, hunters walk along tree lines, fencerows, through low brushy savannas or high grasslands to flush birds from cover. Their broad, elliptical wings make a distinctive fluttering clatter, instantly alerting hunters to their presence.

Many sportsmen hunt private lands, but some public properties offer excellent dove action. Some better dove wildlife management areas include Barbour, Blue Springs, Geneva State Forest, Lowndes and Perdido River.

Many of the Special Opportunity Areas offer dove hunting opportunities. For a list of properties, regulations, seasons and other information, see

For zone boundaries and other information, see 

42 SEPTEMBER 2023 | Outdoors |
A Mojo spinning wing decoy helps bring in the mourning doves. The spinning wings give off flash that simulates flapping wings. Birds can see them from a long way off. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j. or through Facebook.


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The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 40 years ago by Doug Hannon, one of America’s most trusted wildlife experts and a tireless inventor. The Moon Clock is produced by DataSport, Inc. of Atlanta, GA, a company specializing in wildlife activity time prediction. To order the 2023 Moon Clock, go to

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 43
2023 EXCELLENT TIMES MOON STAGE GOOD TIMES SEPTEMBER A.M. PM AM PM Su 17 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Mo 18 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Tu 19 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 We 20 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Th 21 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Fr 22 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Sa 23 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Su 24 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 Mo 25 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 Tu 26 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 We 27 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 Th 28 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Fr 29 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Sa 30 12:30 - 2:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 OCTOBER A.M. PM AM PM Su 1 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Mo 2 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Tu 3 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 We 4 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Th 5 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Fr 6 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Sa 7 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Su 8 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Mo 9 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 Tu 10 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 We 11 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Th 12 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 Fr 13 10:54 - 12:54 11:18 - 1:18 5:21 - 6:51 5:45 - 7:15 Sa 14 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Su 15 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:2 7 7:21 - 8:51 Mo 16 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Tu 17 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 We 18 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Th 19 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Fr 20 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Sa 21 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 Su 22 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Mo 23 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Tu 24 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 We 25 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:2 7 3:21 - 4:51 Th 26 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Fr 27 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:2 7 Sa 28 NA 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 Su 29 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:2 7 7:21 - 8:51 Mo 30 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Tu 31 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27

Cook of the Month: John Sunyog, Cullman EC

As a child growing up in the Detroit, Michigan, area, John Sunyog was used to having easy access to a variety of foods from different cultural backgrounds. “Up there you had Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Polish, Jewish,” he says. So if his mother wasn’t in a baking mood he could find his favorite krusciki, or Polish twists, at a local bakery. “As a kid I loved eating those things.” But another kind of love brought him south to Alabama when he moved with his fiancé to the Cullman area in 2005. Not finding the variety of food cultures he was used to, he had to go back to his mother’s recipe for the light, flaky pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar that he loved to eat. “The recipe is over 100 years old and has been passed down in my family for generations,” he says. He likes to make the treats for a special occasion “because it takes a little bit of time to make the dough and to get everything up and going. But the outcome is definitely worth it!” (He recommends not storing them in an airtight container, but in a bowl covered lightly with a towel to keep dust off.)

2/3 cup egg yolks (approximately 8)

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (real is better than imitation)

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups sifted flour

Powered sugar, for topping

Combine egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add flour and make a stiff dough. Place on a floured board and knead until smooth, but not sticky. Divide the dough in half and cover one part. Roll the other part very thin on a floured board. Cut into strips about 1½-inches wide, then cut each strip into diamond-shaped pieces about 4-inches long. Make a diagonal slit about 1-inch long in the center of each diamond, then pull one end through the opening. Fry in deep fat at 385 degrees for about 1 minute or until brown. Drain on absorbent paper, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an open basket to keep crisp. The other half of the dough that is set aside in the recipe can be used later or make a second batch right away.

| Alabama Recipes |
Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols Krusciki (Polish Twists or Angel Wings)
Polish Twists (or Angel Wings)

Sweet and Sour Pork

1 pound pork tenderloin (cut into 1-inch cubes)


1 tablespoon red wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

½ teaspoon accent

Place cubed pork tenderloin in a bowl. Pour marinade over the pork, stir, cover with a lid. Let meat soak in the marinade for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.


2 egg yolks or 1 egg

4 tablespoons cornstarch

Mix batter well. Add additional cornstarch, if necessary, to achieve a stiff batter. Drain marinade from the meat and combine the meat with the batter. Deep fry at 420 degrees until crisp and golden brown. Turn out onto a platter lined with paper towels.


6 tablespoons sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ cup water

1 tablespoon red wine

3 tablespoons ketchup

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine sugar, soy sauce, wine, vinegar, pineapple juice and ketchup in a medium boiler and bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with water. Add to boiling ingredients and stir until thickened.


1 green and red bell peppers, cut in 1-inch squares

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 onion, cut in 1-inch squares

1 can bamboo shoots, sliced

1 can water chestnuts, sliced

1 can pineapple chunks

Fr y vegetables in a Wok using 6 tablespoons of canola oil heated to 420 degrees for a few minutes or just until vegetables take on a transparent appearance. Add the pork tenderloin to the wok. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the meat and vegetables. Blend well and serve over steamed long grain white or Jasmine Rice.

Every recipe has a story. Whether they’re new or old, we all connect somehow to certain dishes. They can be handed down for generations or be new heritage recipes we create through our own lives. This month’s topic of international recipes allowed me to go back to my Scottish roots. Traditional Scottish Oatmeal Rolls are a dream dinner roll. They are easy with only a 1.5 hour rise time. The taste and texture is everything you want in a yeast roll. Made with all-purpose flour, brown sugar and old fashioned oats, this centuries-old recipe is the perfect dinner roll! For this recipe and more, visit our website at

Traditional Scottish Oatmeal Rolls

1½ cups old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ cup boiling water

½ teaspoon salt

1/4 ounce dr y active yeast

1/4 cup warm water, 110 to 115 degrees

3½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon oil

Place oatmeal in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over oats and mix well. Add brown sugar, salt and oil and mix well.

In a small bowl, dissolve active dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Test temperature of water to make sure it's no lower than 110 degree F and no higher than 115 degrees F. This ensures yeast will activate as well as remain alive. Allow to stand for 5 minutes or until it blooms and is foamy. Add yeast and water to oat mixture and mix well. Add flour in stages until a sticky but stiff dough forms. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape and knead. Knead for 6-8 minutes until dough is smooth.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to oil all sides of dough. Cover and allow to rise until it doubles in size, about an hour. Punch down dough and separate into 24 balls. Roll balls until smooth and place in a lightly greased baking pan. Cover and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes until browned. You can drizzle with salted butter and bake a few minutes more to obtain extra browning. Serve warm.

Brooke Burks Photo by The Buttered Home
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 45

Weiner Schnitzel with Brown Gravy

Weiner Schnitzel:

4 5-ounce veal cutlets

½ cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs beaten

4 slices of lemon, garnish

½ teaspoon salt

Canola oil, for shallow frying

Brown Gravy:

1½ cups beef broth

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ stick butter

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place veal cutlets on cutting board. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap. with a heavy mallet, pound out meat evenly flat to 1/4-inch thick ness. Bread the veal with flour and salt first; then dredge in beaten eggs; lastly the breadcrumbs. In a large skillet heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain excess oil on wire rack.

Brown Gravy: Pour broth in same skillet used to cook veal and scrape loose the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When it starts to boil, slowly stir in flour. Stir constantly until mixed well. Add butter and heavy cream. Continue stirring until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper. Serve gravy over Weiner Schnitzel with your favorite side. Garnish with lemon slices.

Kirk Vantrease

Cullman EC

Sukuma Wiki

(Kenyan-Style Collard Greens)

1 bunch of collards (may substitute or combine k ale or other greens)

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced (or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes)

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or crushed

1 hot green pepper, de-seeded and diced finely (or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

Wash greens thoroughly several times. Cut the collard greens in half lengthwise and remove stems. Stack greens and slice crosswise into strips about ½-1inch width. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook chopped onion, garlic and green pepper in the oil for about 1-2 minutes until softening, stirring to prevent burning. Stir in paprika and salt, then add diced tomatoes and continue stirring and cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes. If using canned or frozen tomatoes, drain before adding, but save juices to add later if needed. Add the greens and continue stirring until bright green and beginning to wilt. Lower temperature, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the greens are as tender as you like. During this time, stir occasionally and add a tablespoon or two of tomato juice or water if needed to prevent sticking and burning. The greens should not be watery. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

If desired, after tomatoes you may add chopped, leftover, cooked meat—beef, pork, goat, chicken—or tofu. Traditionally Sukuma Wiki is served with Ugali, a mush of coarsely ground cornmeal, similar to polenta or stiffly cooked stoneground white grits but goes well also with Southern cornbread.

Ruth Coulter Bentley

Sand Mountain EC

Chicken Curry

1 whole chicken, cut up and breasts cut in half making small pieces of meat

½ cup butter

1 can chicken broth

Brown chicken in hot butter, 5 minutes per side. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep warm. Measure liquid in skillet and add water to make 3 cups of broth.


3 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 cup onion, chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder, bought or homemade

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons lime peel

2 tablespoons lime juice


3 white potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 sticks cinnamon

5 whole cloves

1 green chili pepper

In the skillet, melt butter and sauté garlic, onion, ginger and curry powder. This brings out the flavor of the spices. Remove from the heat and stir in flour, cardamom, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in chicken, reserved broth, lime peel and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Pour into large dutch oven and add potatoes, cinnamon, cloves and place chili pepper on top. Cover and cook on 350 for about 90 minutes. Serve with hot basmati rice, naan and a squeeze of lime on top.

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Chicken wings, ribs & things

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Attn: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014

Montgomery, AL 36124

Cook of the Month wins $50! Recipes can be developed by you or family members. You may even adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.

Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 47

Making your windows energy efficient

Q:My windows are old and drafty, and I’m thinking about replacing them. Can you recommend a few options I should consider?

A:Upgrading or improving your windows is an important component of your home’s energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, heat gain and loss through windows consumes 25% to 30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.

Start by identifying the kind of windows you have. Are they single pane or double pane? Looking closely at the window’s edge, you can see the number of windowpanes. Are the frames metal, wood or vinyl? Some manufacturers etch the make and model numbers in a corner of the glass, so you can look up the manufacturer for more information.

Single-pane windows and double-pane windows with metal frames are the least energy efficient. The lower the efficiency of your existing windows, the higher the potential for energy savings.

There are several options for improving your windows, ranging from replacement windows to storm windows to budget-friendly repairs.

Window efficiency

Several components can make windows more efficient. High-quality frame materials insulate and reduce heat transfer. Two or more panes of glass with space in between (filled with air or gas) improve the window’s insulation capability. Warm edge spacers hold the panes of glass the proper distance apart and help insulate the edges of the panes. Low-emissivity coatings applied to the glass can reflect infrared light, keeping the heat in during the winter and out during the summer.

Window efficiency is rated in U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, or SHGC. U-factor measures heat transfer through

the window, which relates to how well it insulates. The lower the U-factor, the more efficient the window. The SHGC measures how effectively the window blocks heat from the sun.

Replacement and maintenance

If you want to replace your existing windows, I recommend shopping for ENERGY STAR®-certified windows. ENERGY STAR® sets specific U-factor and SHGC requirements based on your geography, so you get the best fit for your location. Replacement windows offer additional benefits, like improved operability and aesthetics. As with many industries, the window industry has been impacted by price increases over the past few years, so keep in mind, this can be an expensive upgrade.

Storm windows are a lower-cost solution for some homes. Traditional storm windows are made with clear glass. Low emissivity storm windows have energy savings similar to replacement windows at about a third of the cost.

Storm windows are mounted to the interior or exterior and are available in operable styles, so you can still open and close your windows. Look for ENERGY STAR®-certified models.

If you want to maintain the historic architecture of your existing windows, low-e storm windows are a great option. Some companies can refit your existing window frames with custom double-pane glass and weatherstripping.

As with any home improvement project, be sure to get multiple quotes to compare pricing and scope of work. You may find additional savings with rebates from your electric co-op, or state or federal tax credits for window upgrades.

If new windows or storm windows are not in the budget, your best bet is to maintain your existing windows. Keep the paint and caulking on the exterior in good condition. That will help prevent damage from the elements. Caulk around the inside trim, ensure sash locks are installed properly and seal tight when locked. There are a variety of weatherstripping types for windows to keep drafts at bay.

Whether you replace or make improvements to what you have, adding efficiency to your windows will add year-round comfort to your home.

48 SEPTEMBER 2023 | Consumer Wise |
Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating officer at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. She has more than 20 years of experience helping people save energy at home, and she writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. Two or more panes of glass improve the insulation capability of the window. PHOTO COURTESY ALPEN HIGH PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS
Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 49 Put your brand in front of more than a MILLION readers EVERY MONTH! Advertisers trust Alabama’s largest consumer publication, making it a powerful & efficient media buy. Call (800) 410-2737, or Email: ADVERTISE HERE Answers to puzzle on Page 28
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Opening doors to bright futures with hands-on learning

Planting raised vegetable beds, creating animal habitats and developing water filtration systems are some of the handson activities experienced by students at Cold Springs Elementary in Bremen, Alabama, thanks to a STEM grant provided by TVA in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc. during the 2022-2023 school year.

This was one of 32 learning projects offered at Alabama K-12 schools that are served by TVA’s local power companies to spark student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. By providing a strong foundation in STEM learning, the grants are helping to open doors for future success for the young people of Alabama.

As the 2023-2024 school year begins, we are accepting grant applications for up to $5,000 per project through September 15, 2023. Applications are available at

Grants are awarded through a competitive process, and preference is given to grant applications that explore TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic development, and community problem-solving. Local power companies in North Alabama play an important role in helping to identify

schools for participation and increasing awareness of the program in local communities.

This year, we’ve increased the total funding available from $1 million during the past two years to $1.5 million this year, enabling the grants to help even more students start on paths toward becoming tomorrow’s engineers, doctors, scientists, information technologists and other high-demand careers.

Since 2018, the STEM classroom grant program has operated in partnership with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network managed by the Battelle organization and has provided nearly $5 million in grants supporting nearly 600,000 students over the years.

We are excited to see the program expand significantly for this coming school year and look forward to hearing about the new grant winners in late November.

In addition to the annual grant program, TVA is dedicated to helping teachers obtain project-based lessons that help them combine fun and learning in the classroom as students discover the wonders of energy, electricity and environmental stewardship.

Through teachers link at teachers, teachers can find lesson plans for every grade level – complete with a multi-dimensional question to answer, a unit summary, videos, daily activities and assignments – all developed to meet state standards and to foster specific skills like critical thinking, communication,

team-building, creativity and innovation.

Elementary teachers can choose among 15 lessons and activities to help students learn about topics such as protecting endangered bats, weather and climate, the relationship between potential and kinetic energy and archeology. Middle school educators can access engineering lessons like “Amusement Park Ride,” and help middle schoolers learn about the various types of renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar and wind.

At the high school level, instructors have a selection of 22 lessons plans in categories of physical science, environmental science, biology chemistry and physics.

This year, we’ve added three new lessons to the available curriculum:

• Aquatic Biodiversity (grade 6)

• Invasive Species (grade 4)

• Saving Salamanders (grade 3)

• Families who home school their children can access all of these resources for free as well.

If your children or grandchildren are dragging their feet at the prospect of returning to school, show them how to log on to for videos, animation and interactive games to give them a head start on lots of topics of interest that will impress their teachers with what they know.

We appreciate our partnership with local power companies in Alabama as we work together to build a pipeline for our next generation of leaders.

52 SEPTEMBER 2023 | Our Sources Say |
Students and teachers join representatives from TVA and Cullman Electric Cooperative to celebrate their 2022-2023 STEM grant. Kevin Chandler is general manager, Alabama District Customer Service, for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace

Closing Deadlines (in our office):

November 2023 Issue by September 25

December 2022 Issue by October 25

January 2024 Issue by November 22

Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each. Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards. Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.


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Alabama Living SEPTEMBER 2023 53
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A serendipitous introduction

It all began with stand-up comedy. Once, when I was in LA (that’s Los Angeles, not Lower Alabama) for a meeting, I went to my first comedy club. For whatever reason, it filled me with the urge to get up and tell jokes. So I did. I thought one time on stage would scratch my itch. Wrong. I did well enough that I decided to enter an amateur comedy contest in Birmingham - which I won. I was fully infected now and became a full-time, part-time comic. Soon, a local morning radio team who had seen me perform asked me to write a few jokes for their show. To give you an idea how long ago it was, they paid me in cassette tapes.

I began watching Jay Leno perform his monologue on “The Tonight Show.” An idea germinated. What if I sent Leno some of my jokes and asked him to critique them?

So I got out a legal pad and wrote a letter to Jay, one comedian to another. I enclosed about four pages of my comedic gems along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Two weeks later, I was working in my downtown office when my wife called. Foregoing any pleasantries, she said, “ Hey. Have you sent some kind of letter to Jay Leno?”

My heart jumped. “Why are you asking me that?”

“Because I think I might’ve just made a fool out of myself.”

I wisely did not respond to that statement. Instead, I asked

innocently, “What could you possibly mean?”

“Well, I just got a phone call from somebody saying they were Jay Leno. He said he wants you to sign a writing contract. It was a pretty lame impersonation, so I’m assuming it’s one of your idiot friends playing a joke on you.”

It turns out it really was Jay. He had looked over my jokes and liked the stuff I submitted! Almost immediately, I was spending my evenings culling news, writing gags, and faxing them to Mr. Leno.

I continued performing, and word spread of my connection with the King of Late Night. Soon, others were interested in me performing for corporate gigs and writing for people who needed humor. Once Paul Finebaum (please don’t hold this against me) called and asked if I could write some material for Joe Namath ‘s roast. I got to hang out with Joe Willie!

After Jay retired from his late-night gig, I began writing a blog with my life’s stories. This led to newspaper columns and magazine articles.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My wife and a couple of friends decided to go to this little burger place that’s out in the middle of nowhere. It was so crowded that we shared a table with some very nice folks, one of whom happened to be Mark Stephenson, the creative director of Alabama Living magazine.

We exchanged information, I e-mailed a few samples of my work, had a zoom call with the editor, and bingo! Here I am writing columns for y’all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do writing them for you.

It’s truly serendipity.

54 SEPTEMBER 2023 | Cup o’ Joe |
Joe Hobby is a standup comedian, a syndicated columnist, and a long-time writer for Jay Leno. He’s a member of Cullman Electric Cooperative and very happy now that he can use Sprout from his little place on Smith Lake. Contact him at Illustration by Dennis Auth

Deadline is Oct. 6 • See Page 46

Send us your favorite chicken wings or ribs recipe for our January issue!