September 2020 Clarke-Washington

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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News September 2020



Cooking with Brenda Fall planting

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Where eagles fly

The magnificent golden eagles that fly during Auburn football games are trained just two miles from campus at the Southeastern Raptor Center. For active duty birds, the training is rigorous.

Manager Steve Sheffield Co-op Editor Sarah Hansen 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. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014. ALABAMA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Law Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Danny Weston Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Brooke Echols


340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 For advertising, email: For editorial inquiries, email: NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:

American MainStreet Publications 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311


20 F E A T U R E S


Stadium snapshots

Even though many of us may not be visiting any stadiums this fall, our photos of past visits can bring back wonderful memories.

Promoting agriculture 24 Rick Pate’s parents taught him the

importance of giving back to his community, and he’s now serving the state as Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

the bar 34 Setting Creating a food bar lets your family

Printed in America from American materials

D E P A R T M E N T S 11 Spotlight 28 Crossword 34 Cook of the Month 38 Outdoors 39 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: Brenda Gantt never imagined her cooking videos would become a sensation on Facebook. Now, she has fans and followers all over the world who tune in to watch her cook, laugh and reminisce. Story, Page 12. PHOTO: Sincerely Shawna Photography


ONLINE: EMAIL: MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

Get our FREE monthly email newsletter! Sign up at SEPTEMBER 2020  3

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make their own meal with as many ingredients and toppings as they like.

ON THE COVER Look for this logo to see more content online!

VOL. 73 NO. 9  SEPTEMBER 2020


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Office Locations Jackson Office 9000 Highway 43 P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 (251) 246-9081 Chatom Office 19120 Jordan Street P.O. Box 453 Chatom, AL 36518 (251) 847-2302 Toll Free Number (800) 323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours)

Payment Options Mail P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 P.O. Box 453 Chatom, AL 36518 Office During normal office hours at our Chatom and Jackson offices. Phone (855) 870-0403 Online Night Deposit 24/7 at Jackson & Chatom CWEMC App Available from the App Store and Google Play Bank Draft CheckOut Pay where you shop at any Dollar General, Family Dollar and CVS Pharmacy. 4  SEPTEMBER 2020

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Pandemic or not, you’re more than a customer Author Anthony J. D’Angelo observed that, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” To a large degree, this reflects Clarke-Washington EMC’s philosophy toward our consumer-members and the broader service territory that we serve. As a cooperative, we have a different “bottom line.” While our priority is always to provide reliable and safe energy, there is another equally important part of this equation. Your well-being and that of the larger community that we serve are of paramount concern. It is true, we have made changes to our day to day routines as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, but the changes we have made are to protect the safety and well being of our members and employees. To us, you are not just a customer; you are a member of our co-op and without you, we would not exist. In 1936, Clarke-Washington EMC was founded to fulfill a vital need in our community that would not have otherwise been met. Concerned local leaders came together to build this co-op and bring electricity where there was none. At that time, members of the community understood we were different because they likely knew someone who helped to create Clarke-Washington EMC. For most people, our founding and its circumstances have been long forgotten. Over time, folks in the community may have come to think of us as simply another energy provider. But we are not. We are a co-op that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the communities we serve, and we are able to do this because of members like you. Since our inception, we have sought feedback and engagement from you and that of the larger community to guide our long-term decisions. We strive to find new ways to help you use energy more efficiently. We’re always looking to explore more options that will help you manage your energy use. And, we’ve added many new ways to pay your bill and do business with us online.

In short, we are always seeking to keep pace with the changing energy environment, evolving technology and shifting consumer expectations. Clarke-Washington EMC members help guide important co-op decisions that improve and enrich the community. We value the perspective of our board members, who are members of the co-op and community – just like you. As a local business, we have a stake in the community. That’s why we support schools, volunteer fire departments, economic development organizations and local charitable organizations across Clarke, Washington, Wilcox and Monroe counties. When you support these efforts, you are supporting the community and making it a better place for everyone. As I am writing this, we are in the beginning of August and some schools are getting ready to start back and others are choosing to delay until the end of the month. Thankfully, we have not been affected by a hurricane and I am praying we make it through this season without one. We don’t know what it will be like at the end of the month or even months down the road. But what I am certain of is that we will be here to serve you day or night, rain or shine. Again, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our membership for the patience and understanding you have shown while adjusting to all of the changes. While the times may have changed due to the current pandemic, our mission and outlook have not. We view our role as a catalyst for good. Working together, we can accomplish great things for our community now and in the future. Pandemic or not, we are here to serve you – our member.

Steve Sheffield General Manager


Clarke-Washington EMC offices will be closed Monday, September 7, 2020 for Labor Day.

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| Clarke-Washington EMC |

System maintenance At Clarke-Washington EMC, we routinely inspect the system throughout our service area and identify equipment, including poles, in need of replacement. Clarke-Washington EMC works year-round to maintain and improve our electric distribution system to provide our members safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Clarke-Washington EMC has had several maintenance projects going on during the months of July and August. Types of projects included rights-of-way trimming, spraying around poles, powerline system preventative maintenance and pole inspections. For safety and reliability reasons, we have a preventative spraying and clearing program to control unwanted brush and tree growth in power line rights-of-way. We’ve used a skid steer to clear out underbrush in the rights-ofway to poles and transformers. Every year, we do a system preventative maintenance to look at power line equipment throughout the system. This is done with an infrared camera to determine if anything is failing. The purpose is to see what needs to be fixed before it causes an outage. When equipment starts to fail, it will get hotter, which is why the use of the infrared camera is beneficial. After a week of riding the system, we then receive a report on issues and the level of the severity. You probably don’t pay attention to the utility poles found throughout the system, but did you know these poles are the backbone of our distribution network? Strong, sturdy, utility poles ensure a reliable electric system, which is why we routinely inspect the thousands of poles on our lines. Osmose conducts inspection of the poles routinely for decay caused by exposure to the elements. The maintenance work is necessary to ensure continued reliable electric service to our members. Check out some photos that were taken from a couple of the projects.

Above: Skid steer operator Harold Hoven begins working to clear out thick underbrush. Right: After the clearing was complete, it’s possible to see how thick this was and was not easily accessible for crews.

This is an example of a serious issue that was taken with the infrared camera. The issue was found and fixed before an outage occurred. To the right is a scale, blue being the coolest and white being the hottest.

Love bugs and martins Power blinks can be caused by more than just a storm even when the sun is shining. Did you know that every love bug season we tend to have power blinks? The love bugs love the heat that a transformer will put off. They love to take a daring risk and get close to it but they end up getting zapped. The blinks are caused by the love bugs. Power lines are a great attraction for martins because the rights-of-way are trimmed down and the lines are up high where the martins can see. These purple martins found a cozy place in Leroy to rest on their journey to South America for the winter. Some calls were received about the lights blinking and the group of martins were causing the blinks.

Check out these two photos of martins flocking on the power lines in Leroy. Alabama Living

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| Clarke-Washington EMC |

A different kind of outage When we think of power outages at CWEMC, we normally think of the electricity being out usually due to a tree falling on the line. However, in the picture above, we experienced an AMI communications outage as a result of a logging crew skidder running over a tower guy causing the tower to come tumbling to the ground. The tower belongs to Richardson Communications but CWEMC leases space on it for one of our Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) antennas. Without the antenna operating, CWEMC lost communications to approximately 1,700 of our electric smart meters. Fortunately, CWEMC, with the help of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative crews, we were able to relocate an existing CWEMC tower from the site of our old office in Jackson and temporarily install it at the Pleasant Hill site to reestablish communications with our meters until a new tower can be built.

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Clothes dryers make up a large portion of your appliance energy consumption. Clean the lint filter after each cycle, and scrub the filter with a toothbrush once a month to remove film and increase air circulation.

Source: 6  SEPTEMBER 2020

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| Clarke-Washington EMC |

Generator safety Having a generator on hand, whether portable or permanent, may sound like a great idea for times when the power goes out, but misusing one is dangerous. Although they can help light your home or cool your perishable food when the neighborhood is dark, if used incorrectly you could have a much bigger problem on your hands. When using a portable version, there are two ways to connect it to a home. The first way is with a powered circuit panel that has a power transfer switch, which monitors incoming voltage from the utility line. The circuit panel and transfer switch should always be installed by a qualified electrician. The second option is to plug in a limited number of home appliances directly into the portable generator with heavy-duty extension cords. Never try to power your home by plugging a generator into a wall outlet. This is known as back feeding, and it could electrocute a neighbor or an electric lineman working to restore power. A permanent generator must also have a transfer switch installed by a qualified electrician to avoid back feeding. Because of the harm an incorrectly powered generator can cause, the transfer switch is required by the National Electrical Code. The primary hazards of using a portable generator are not pretty. They include carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to the agency, most of the deaths and injuries associated with portable generators are from CO poisoning when generators are used indoors or in partially enclosed spaces. A permanent or standby generator also has significant risks if not installed by a qualified electrician. Installing one is extremely dangerous and definitely not a DIY project. Portable versions are less expensive than permanent or standby models and power only select appliances. The most expensive permanent generators—standby versions that are permanently installed and power most of the appliances in your home—are convenient but pricey. The average permanent system costs around $10,000.

Safety points • Operate a portable generator in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. The instructions that come with it are not meant for the recycle bin. Read and follow them; they are important. • Turn the generator on before using it. Once it’s running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Generators are for temporary use and limited load; prioritize your needs. • Never use a generator in a puddle or standing water and never touch with wet hands. • To protect a portable generator from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure. • Never use or install a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open. • Turn off portable generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.

Alabama Living

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• Store fuel for your portable generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas. • Keep children and pets away from all generators, especially portable ones. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.

Using a generator is serious business and shouldn’t be done in haste.

HURRICANE PREPARATION We are right in the middle of hurricane season again. As of this writing, we have not been directly threatened by a hurricane and that is something to be thankful for. Hurricane season began June 1 and continues through the end of November. Since we can’t stop hurricanes, the only thing we can do is be prepared and know what to do if one hits. Clarke-Washington EMC members are encouraged to consider these tips to strengthen your home. • Keep trees around your home trimmed well before a storm to prevent damage from broken branches. • Have the proper materials in advance to board up your windows to protect them from flying debris. • Bring loose outdoor items such as patio furniture inside. They can blow around and cause damage to homes. • Secure all doors on your property. Remember that the garage door is usually the most vulnerable. • Move your car inside a garage or to another secure location September is National Preparedness Month and if you are interested in making a plan, go online to SEPTEMBER 2020  7

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WHAT’S ON THAT POLE? This illustration shows the basic equipment found on electric utility poles. The equipment varies according to the location and the service they provide.

PRIMARY WIRES Primary wires carry 7,200 volts of electricity from a substation. That voltage is 60 times higher than the voltage that runs through your home’s electrical outlets! SURGE ARRESTORS These protect the transformer from lightning strikes. INSULATORS Insulators prevent energized wires from contacting each other or the pole.

NEUTRAL WIRE The neutral wire acts as a line back to the substation and is tied to the ground, balancing the electricity on the system. SECONDARY SERVICE DROP Carries 120/240-volts of electricity to consumers’ homes. It has two “hot” wires from the transformer and a bare “neutral” wire that’s connected to the ground wire on the pole. GROUND WIRE The ground wire connects to the neutral wire to complete the circuit inside the transformer. It also directs electricity from lightning safely into the earth.

TELEPHONE, CABLE TV, AND FIBER WIRES These are typically the lowest wires on the pole.


Original illustration by Erin Binkley


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| Alabama Snapshots |


My husband Ronnie and I went to our first Alabama game back in 2015. Roll Tide! SUBMITTED BY Elizabeth (Beth) Bonner, Monroeville.

Sorority sisters Tanner, Savannah, and Brooke enjoy the Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium. War Eagle! SUBMITTED BY Wendy Metz. Chancellor.

Cousins Katie, Anna and Anthony Hartley; Sarah, Teresa and Tom Mauldin at Anthony’s first Alabama football game, November 2019. SUBMITTED by Teresa Mauldin, Crane Hill.

In Jordan-Hare stadium with my daughter, Emma, for Parent’s Day. SUBMITTED BY Joy Griswold, Fitzpatrick.

Robby, Piercen and Lincoln Saint at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. SUBMITTED BY Holly Saint, Section.

Submit “Young hunters” photos by September 30. Winning photos will run in the November issue. SUBMIT and WIN $10! Online: Mail: Snapshots P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Alabama Living

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Morgan Haynes participates in the UNA Marching Band Extravaganza at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, AL. SUBMITTED BY Margaret Haynes, Holly Pond.

RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos 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.


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Spotlight | September Census deadline moved up; complete your form today!

Space Camp reaches goal, but continues fundraising

The deadline for households to respond to the U.S. 2020 Census has been moved up a month. All responses are now due by Sept. 30. With this new date comes a renewed sense of urgency and a commitment to counting all Alabamians so that our federal representation, Census-derived funding and ongoing economic development opportunities stand for current and future generations. A unique event begins Sept. 2 with the launch of the Alabama Census Bowl. This March Madness-style competition among 32 counties throughout Alabama with low self-response rates will last four weeks, ending Sept. 30. Winners will receive up to $65,000 in funding for K-12 public school systems. Keep an eye on social media for more information, or visit

First responders to be honored at parade event Southern Preparatory Academy will hold a first responder and 9/11 memorial parade at 10 a.m. Sept. 10. The academy is located at 174 Ward Circle in Camp Hill, and the event will take place on the parade field. First responders from all over Alabama are invited, and the guest of honor will be Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. Because it’s an outdoor event, organizers feel that guests will be able to social distance responsibly. Guests are asked to wear a facial covering and/or keep their distance from those who are not in their household. For more information, call 256-675-6269 or email

Motorcycle ride commemorates Trail of Tears The 27th annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride welcomes the community to a kickoff party on Friday, Sept. 18. Beginning at 3 p.m., guests will enjoy food, vendors, door prizes and bounce houses lined up on Alabama Street in Bridgeport, Alabama. The headliner concert begins at 8 p.m., with fireworks at 9 p.m. The next day, Sept. 19, bikers will line up in downtown Bridgeport for their ride to Waterloo, Alabama. This annual ride brings awareness to the Trail of Tears route brought on by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. For more information, visit 10  SEPTEMBER 2020

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The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, home of the renowned Space Camp program, launched an effort in late July to raise $1.5 million to sustain museum operations and be able to reopen Space Camp in April 2021. In just a week, the Save Space Camp campaign reached its goal. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the Rocket Center, which closed March 13, 2020, in keeping with state health orders. The museum reopened in late May, but with far fewer than normal visitors. Space Camp did not reopen until June 28, and then with only 20 percent of its usual attendance. It will again close for weeklong camps in September. The Rocket Center is continuing to ask for support for the campaign. Any amount over the initial goal will be used to offset losses due to the COVID-19 crisis and for programming. For more information, visit

Whereville, AL

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 by Sept. 9 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. 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. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is chosen will also win $25.

August's answer

This artwork was created by artist Heath McClain, a Vinemont native, and was unveiled in late 2019 at the Art Park in Cullman. The work is the centerpiece of the Art Park, formerly known as City Park, at the corner of Main Avenue Southwest and Second Street Southwest. (Information from Cullman Tribune) (Photo contributed by Jesse Waldrop of Cullman EC.) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Katie Loyd of Cullman EC.

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September | Spotlight

Find the hidden dingbat! We definitely let the sunshine in for the August dingbat challenge, and more than 600 of you correctly found that sunburst on Page 28 in the illustration of common air leaks in a home. More and more folks are writing us poetry to tell us of their discovery, including Hazel Taylor of Tallassee: In Alabama Living it was a lot of fun, Looking for a beautiful bright August sun. And as I looked on Page 28 and saw the “Energy Star” Lo and behold, there you are. But never mind, too bad! Is this August sun in an ad? Well, maybe I’m wrong about that. It still looks like the dingbat.

Take us along!

Courey Hopkins of Andalusia is a big fan of the “Find the Dingbat” contest. “Every issue, my family and I compete against another to find the dingbat,” Courey wrote us. “It’s become quite the tradition. So good to have wholesome entertainment during this time of uncertainty. Keep up the good work!” This month’s winner is Jane Thurman of Foley, a member of Baldwin EMC, whose name was drawn from the correct answers for the $25 prize. This month, we’re hiding a freshly sharpened pencil, something all our school children going back to school will need (whether in person or in a virtual classroom), so happy hunting! The deadline is Sept. 9. By email:

Thanks to all our readers who’ve sent us photos of their travels. We realize due to the pandemic, no one’s doing much traveling these days due to the statewide “safer at home” orders, but we enjoy seeing your pictures from past travels. Send them to mytravels@ Please include your name, hometown and electric cooperative and the location of the photo. We’ll draw a winner for a $25 prize each month, so let us hear from you! On a recent trip to Hell Road in West Bay, Cayman Islands, Bill Dillard of Arley says he “took Alabama Living to Hell and back!” Bill, we’re glad you got back home safely! He’s a member of Cullman EC.

By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Letters to the editor

E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Enjoyed ‘Poutin house’ column

Meredith Sharlow, granddaughter of Robert and Jeneanne Sharlow of Hartselle and members of Joe Wheeler EMC, took our magazine to the summit of Mt Haleakala on Maui.

Thank you for your recent article (“Everyone needs a ‘poutin house,’” Hardy Jackson’s Alabama, July 2020). I enjoyed it so much as you described both your mother and father, and just like a good son, you covered both characters fairly! You are so correct. We all need our private pouting corner. Mine is my back porch, “My Poutin’ Porch,” as I now call it! Patsy Hagan Reform

Liked August issue Sandy Hodges of Irondale went all the way with her copy of Alabama Living to Lucky Peak Reservoir in Boise, Idaho in February. One of her sons works for TVA.

Charlotte Graves of Collinsville and a member of Sand Mountain EC is pictured during a visit to Yellow Creek Falls Fish Camp near Leesburg, Alabama. Alabama Living

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I write to compliment you, everyone on staff, for your consistently excellent publication. It is a cover-to-cover must-read every month. While I have not always enjoyed the pen of CEO Gary Smith, I have always read him, and considered his declarations. The August issue is particularly well done. The piece by Mr. Smith is poignant, thoughtful and inspiring. In these uncertain times, this is exactly the remedy for our present malaise. The gentleman may not have sought my good opinion, but he has certainly won it. Cheryl M. Kittrell Fairhope Editor’s note: The column by PowerSouth President and CEO Gary Smith appears in editions served by PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and can be viewed on our website in the August digital edition at SEPTEMBER 2020  11

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A Southern lady shares her kitchen with the world Story by Allison Law; photos by Sincerely Shawna Photography


t started out simply. Brenda Hicks Gantt – retired educator, grandmother of five and seasoned home cook – set out to make a quick video to show some young women at her church how easy it is to make homemade biscuits. With one hand in a flour bowl and her phone in the other, Gantt made a four-minute video, showing how to make what her late husband George called “two-bite biscuits.” She put the video on her personal Facebook page, and the church ladies were thrilled. They shared the video, and then others shared it. In two weeks, it’d hit one million views. Friends and newly-found fans started asking her to make other videos: how to make cornbread, or chicken and dumplings. A lifelong educator, she liked the idea of teaching others, so her sonin-law created a Facebook page for her, “Cooking with Brenda Gantt,” to keep the videos separate from her personal page. (She figured her local friends “don’t want to see all this stuff. They just know me as Brenda, who likes to cook.”) The biscuit video was the first video posted. She doesn’t remember what the next one was, but it was just the beginning. The combination of her simple recipes, folksy charm and antiques-filled country kitchen struck a chord with fans of all ages. As of early August, her page had more than 800,000 followers. That’s just since April.

Timing is everything

Gantt, a member of Covington Electric Cooperative, never expected her videos to take off. Her timing, though she couldn’t have predicted it, was exquisite. Stuck at home with little to do due to COVID-19, adults and children alike were discovering her down-home cooking style, served up with a side of humor and an appreciation for the treasures of life – like family and tradition – that sometimes seem to have escaped our modern society. 12  SEPTEMBER 2020

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“I think the coronavirus, and it is a terrible thing, but I think good’s coming out of that too,” she says. “Families are learning that they can survive together in the house for more than a day, and they’re not rushing around to get to ball games and dance recitals. “People are stuck inside, they’re bored, they’re watching videos on their phones, and I came up. And I was teaching them something. (And) they say they like my smile!” Her style resonates with fans, many of whom say she reminds them of their grandmother. Melissa Gaines of Fort Payne says the biscuits video was the first one she watched and brought back sweet memories. “(Her baking) is similar to how my Nanny made them,” Gaines says. “I’d give anything to be back in that kitchen with her, and Mrs. Gantt’s cooking takes me back.” The COVID-19 situation may have had another consequence that has widened her popularity, though sadly so. “I think there’s a lot of lonely people out there,” she says, noting that many older folks may not have a spouse to share their days with, and they are likely isolated by restrictions on dining out and church gatherings. “I think they’re hurting and lonely, and they need to know how to cook. I think that’s it. It’s not my cooking, and it’s not my recipes. They can look in a book and get a recipe. It’s the interaction they’re craving.” And she talks right to the viewers. While doing the more monotonous chores, like chopping vegetables or working dough, her sunny nature fills the time. “What have y’all been doing today?” Or, “Did y’all do your Bible study today?” Or she shares what she’s been up to: Maybe she’s getting ready to have dinner with her daughter and her family, who are just a golf-cart ride through the woods; or perhaps she’s been to “The Pig” and saw some friends while stocking up on buttermilk, shortening and self-rising flour, the

“I’m just going to cook. I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing.”

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only ingredients needed for her now-famous biscuits. Usually, she makes the videos all by herself, with the help of a holder for her smartphone. Every so often, one of her granddaughters helps out. The viewers feel like she’s talking to them, and they love it. “The other day I told them, ‘I burned this, and it’s your fault!’” she laughs. “I was so busy talking I burned the cornbread.” Seriously though, she does feel a responsibility to her fans. “My prayer has always been, and it still is, to help me be a good influence on the people that I meet. That is important, to be a positive influence, and I’ve always asked God to give me that.”

Creating a community

Gantt now realizes that not everyone had the same kind of upbringing she did; she learned to cook from her mother, who she says was “an excellent cook.” “If she was in the kitchen, she made me be there. I may be sitting at the table, or stirring something, or shucking corn. I may not be cooking, but I had to be in the kitchen.” She raised her children the same way, and now her grandchildren, too, who all know how to cook. But she had no idea that people didn’t know things that are second nature to her: The difference between all-purpose and self-rising flour. How to properly fry vegetables. Or how to cut up a chicken. “I’m not trying to perform; I’m actually trying to help them to cook. It’s not hard. But so many have written and said, they didn’t ask their grandmother what to do, and their mother didn’t let them in the kitchen.” They feel like they’ve known her all their lives, and they tell her so. Any one of her videos can easily garner 30,000 “likes” and 10,000 comments. She tries to read as many as she can, but she

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can’t answer them all. Many of the comments are personal and touching. “If somebody’s in a problem situation, like they have cancer, (they say) that I really cheer up their day. Or they’re not able to walk because they’ve had a stroke, (they say), please don’t quit videoing, because it makes our day. They say they tune in every morning, because they want to see if I’m on there yet. They call me ‘Miss Sunshine.’ Just sweet. They write sweet stuff, they really do.” It’s surprised her a bit that her fans have sort of created their own community, and she encourages the interaction. If someone has a question, often another fan will chime in with an answer or suggestion. Even with so many Facebook followers, she resists the idea that she’s a social media influencer, even though just a small mention in a video can cause a sensation. Her mention of a particular meat seasoning, created by some friends of hers, sparked such a demand that the company couldn’t keep up with orders. As for the future, Gantt is modest, and is committed to staying near her family and her home, which she and George built nearly 50 years ago. “I’m just going to cook. I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing.” Asked if she’s considered doing a cookbook or some other venture, she says she’ll have to think hard about that. The sudden notoriety has taken some getting used to. “I’ve only been doing it for two months,” she laughs. “I’ve got to adjust to it. It may just blow over. You know? And that’s OK too! This is OK. Any way it goes, it’s all right with me.” She references God, which she often does in her videos. “As long as we’re in His will, and doing what His will is, He’s going to bless it and everything will be fine. It’s when we get out of His will that things fall apart. So I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

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A new chapter

Clockwise from left: Brenda Gantt makes her homemade biscuits on the skillet and butcher block that are very familiar to her fans. A vintage wooden ammo box holds her treasured recipes, alphabetized and numbered so she can find them quickly. Some of her well-loved recipes. Gantt in her back yard; she’s a master gardener and enjoys growing vegetables and flowers.

Alabama Living

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Brenda Gantt, 73, may be retired, but she’s far from the rocking chair. “People ask me how I have so much energy. But the fact is, energy begets energy. If you sit, it’s not going to work.” She and her late husband, George, both loved antiques and collected them all their lives. After she retired as an elementary school teacher, they opened an antiques store in a structure near their Covington County home. After Hurricane Opal stressed the trees on their property, they decided to use the wood to build Hickory Ridge Lodge, which became a popular venue for weddings, reunions and other events. For one event, Gantt cooked for 350 guests – and did all the cooking herself. Then they decided to open the Cottle House (hickoryridgelodge. com/cottle-house), also on their property, as a bed-and-breakfast, and business has picked up since Gantt started doing the videos. And she runs it all by herself – handling the bookings, entertaining the guests, cooking and cleaning. “We really worked our whole lives,” she says. She closed the antiques store after George died in 2018; her heart just wasn’t in it anymore. But that was just the beginning of a new chapter. “I loved teaching when I taught, I loved doing the weddings when I did that, I love what I’m doing now,” she says. “Life changes. You’ve got to roll with it. You’re either going down or you’re going up, but you’re never staying the same. You’ve got a choice of how you want to face it.” SEPTEMBER 2020  15

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Pigskin parodies SEC football fan-inspired videos attract thousands

By Jack West


hether it’s a Tennessee fan nearly getting KO’d by a 38-30 loss to Georgia State or Alabama learning that they’ve been kicked out of the Playoff Club, the creative minds behind “SEC Shorts” continually find ways to poke fun at every team in the Southeastern Conference.

Josh Snead, left, and Robert Clay live and work in Birmingham. Together they create “SEC Shorts”, an online and televised video series that parodies fandom and follows the ups and downs of weekly college football. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY SEC SHORTS

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In one week, each SEC team gets a wish from a fairy godmother, and in another week, Florida mourns the loss of their hopes at winning the SEC East while Arkansas mourns the loss of their entire football program. Scrolling through the “SEC Shorts” YouTube page, viewers get a healthy mix of satire, homage and original concepts. Over the past five years, they have made videos that either mimic, satirize or pay tribute to everything from medical dramas to “Blue’s Clues.” Robert Clay and Josh Snead are the two Birmingham-based film makers who created “SEC Shorts”. Clay grew up in Birmingham and attended Auburn University, and Snead spent his childhood moving around a lot before enrolling at The University of Montevallo. After leaving Auburn, Clay earned a master’s degree in film from the University of New Orleans, and Snead “got (his) master’s in life.” Years later, the two met while working for a video production company. “We edited medical lectures together,” Snead says. “Just disgusting, the grossest thing you could think of medical lectures. So, for like eight hours a day, we’re looking at the grossest thing. Naturally, we were trying to find some sort of creative outlet to do something.” That outlet first came in the form of short films and videos the two made for fun. Then, in 2014, they heard about an opportunity on The Paul Finebaum Show for fan-submitted videos. According to Clay, most of the entries were self-filmed rants about football, but the two decided to try to make something with a little more polish and some more humor. It worked. Five years later, “SEC Shorts” has become an independent production which routinely puts out videos that garner hundreds of thousands of views. Now that they make videos about bowl games instead of bowel pains, the two work to connect with viewers across the Southeast.

Connecting with fans

The ultimate goal of the videos, they say, is to connect with football fans across the region by getting people to identify with their content. “We try to make our content very identity-based,” Clay says. “If someone watches it, we want them to say, ‘’Oh, that was me watching that game,’ or ‘That’s funny, I relate to that.’” For Clay and Snead, who are Auburn and Alabama fans respectively, the goal is to find the overarching narratives that a team or the conference goes through every year. “[We ask] how did their season go last year?” Clay says. “How is their season going up until this point where they beat a number two ranked Georgia? Then, you’re able to turn that around and try to get in their heads a little bit.” That’s easier for some teams than others. “It’s a lot easier if a team is doing either really, really well or really, really bad,” Clay says. “I think it’s about trying to dive into the bigger scenario, and instead of just looking at it in terms of what happened this last game, you look at it from the perspective of what’s the pattern and how long has it been going on for.”

Above, Snead and actor Jessica Clark play two Oklahoma fans who have to tell their daughter that the Okies’ chances of winning a national championship have “gone to live on a farm up north...” Below, the “SEC Shorts” Team after finishing a video.

Keeping positive despite the pandemic

But with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to worsen across the South, there is a possibility that Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare remain largely empty this year. Home to more pigeons than pigskins. However, Clay and Snead say that while a canceled football season might be bad for their business model, it has helped them Alabama Living

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connect with more people. “I feel like the positive we discovered is that all of a sudden, you have everyone going through the same thing, and you have a lot of ability to connect with a bigger audience,” Clay says. In May, the two put out a video where a satirized British adventurer Bear Grylls teaches football fans how to survive in the wilderness that is a fall without college football — a situation, fake Grylls says, which is even more difficult than being a Tennessee fan for 24 hours. In June, they dug into some historical content with an episode where the SEC teams of 1998 got their performance reviews. And in July, a “Blue’s Clues”-like kids’ show introduced viewers to Nebraska, Michigan and Texas — the blue-blooded college football dynasties that “haven’t been able to sustain a modicum of success in over a decade.” However, the two admit that archival dives and wilderness survival shows won’t be able to sustain through the cold winter that is a fall without college football. “I think for a little while you could get away with ‘It sucks to have football season’ type of videos, but you can only do that for so long,” Snead says. Of course, if the pandemic refuses to let up, and football is canceled indefinitely, Clay and Snead have a dry-humored backup plan. “I wonder if they’ll let us edit medical lectures again,” Snead asked. A season without football would certainly be a huge difference for Snead and Clay. With games usually taking place all-day Saturday, the two basically have to spend all of Sunday writing, shooting and editing a video to be ready for Monday. “Sundays are a blur in the football season, and it just goes by so fast because you’re just constantly moving on to the next one,” Clay says. “You’ll make a video, and you’ll both be like, ‘Oh we really liked that one! Oh, it doesn’t matter, we’ve got to go to the next one.’” The rush, the two say, is because they are trying to participate in a regional — and occasionally national — conversation. “I think that’s the best way to capture the moment,” Snead says. “All of our videos are based on what happened the day before. So, we want it to be up there on Monday morning when people are talking about it at work or school or whatever.” It’s those water-cooler and homeroom discussions that Snead and Clay are trying to be a part of. The problem is that they don’t always have much of a shelf life. “When we were doing them, we noticed that there’s this huge — it’s small — but this huge window of opportunity to capitalize on people discussing the games,” Clay says. “So, if you can, get it up by Monday morning. By Wednesday, people are looking ahead to the next game.” And when fans begin to look ahead to the next game, Snead and Clay have to start looking ahead to the next video. But the two say that this rigorous schedule has definitely paid off. “Well, my car has arm rests on it now, that’s probably the biggest improvement,” Snead says.

Josh Snead, bloodied and bruised, shows how hard it is to be a Tennessee football fan. The crew of “SEC Shorts” directs some Auburn players.

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Where the e

Training is rigorous for Auburn mascots wh By Emmett Burnett


ehind a Lee County security gate, down a winding forest path, resides a noble flock. Birds of prey live here, representing one of America’s most famous mascots. They are the few, the proud, the War Eagles. Perhaps you watched in awe as the proud bird soared through Jordan Hare Stadium. It is more than a show. “War Eagle” represents Auburn University’s heritage, competitive battle cry, and often replaces hello and goodbye as salutations. The winged wonders reside and train at the Southeastern Raptor Center, about two miles from campus. Auburn’s raptors of renown are impressive during televised football games, but you should see one up close. The Center’s Andrew Hopkins does, every day. “Eagles are bigger than most people imagine,” Andrew says, hoisting Aurea, a golden eagle, on his arm. Almost on cue, she stretches her 6-foot wingspan as a reporter’s jaw drops. Auburn’s current four eagles consist of three in its frequent flyer program and one retiree. They originally joined the program with injuries prohibiting a return to the wild. Aurea flew in most of Auburn’s 2019 football pregame shows. Spirit, a bald eagle, is her alternate. The new kid and trainee is also a bald eagle, Independence (Indy). The only male on the list is Nova, the retiree golden eagle who dominated Auburn skies from 2012-2016. Though others participate, only golden eagles – the official school mascot – can hold the title “War Eagle.” Nova and Aurea are officially War Eagle 7 and War Eagle 8 respectively. For active duty birds, training is rigorous. Don’t try this at home. Actually, you can’t. Federal laws prohibit so much as touching an eagle without a permit; Auburn’s trainers are licensed. The instructor’s job is straightforward. All they have to do is teach a wild raptor, capable of flying 120 mph, with a wingspan that can hide a coffee table, while packing talons stronger than a lion’s jaw, to soar over 90,000 screaming fans and return. What could possibly go wrong? “It’s all about positive reinforcement and repetition,” says Andrew. “We train eagles to do what we want them to do and reward them for doing it.” The key is the lure – a circular leather pouch the birds have been trained to associate with food. “To them, it’s a magic button,” adds co–trainer, Auburn student and Mobile native, Amanda Sweeney. When the beak pecks the pouch, food follows. On day one, the wild bird is taught to perch on the handler’s arm. Once that task is mastered, War Eagle Class moves offsite to Jordan Hare Stadium. 20  SEPTEMBER 2020

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Andrew Hopkins practices with Aurea, War Eagle 8, at Auburn’s Southeastern Raptor Center. PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT

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War Eagle thrills the crowd prior to an Auburn University football game.

e eagles fly


ots who represent heritage, tradition

Trainer Amanda Sweeney with War Eagle. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA SWEENEY

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“We start with little steps,” says Andrew. First, they place the eagle – at this point leg tethered to trainer – on the stadium’s lower ledge and teach it to hop down on the football field for food. Days later, the bird is moved higher up into the stadium. It must hop and fly greater distances for a treat. Eventually, the task is performed from high in the stadium and the eagle now flies down the field to tap the lure to snack. “Then we start the entire process all over again,” Andrew adds. “Only this time without the tether.” As for noise, crowd roars do not faze eagles. “We do elementary school shows all year,” Andrew notes, though onsite appearances have dropped dramatically during the pandemic. “Being around large crowds of school children helps acclimate our eagles to human racket. During game shows, the War Eagle doesn’t care if the crowd is 100 or 90,000. It is totally focused on doing its job and being rewarded for it.” At game time, three eagles assemble in the stadium. One will fly, one is the alternate, and the third is a trainee observing. “We like the War Eagle to fly with the wind, not against it,” Andrew says. “Flying against it gives the bird too much lift.” As for weather, it will fly in drizzle rain but not in wind speeds exceeding 15 mph. Before the show, a pre-flight check is completed. Decisions are made within minutes of show time if the bird is ready. “They all have quirks,” Andrew says. “You learn their personalities and work around it.” Amanda continues, “Eagles are different by species and it shows in their flight style. In the wild, bald eagles eat fish but golden eagles prey on fast animals such as jack rabbits. They fly faster than bald eagles and hit the lure very hard.” All War Eagles have tracking devices attached to their legs but none of them care. Once released in the stadium, it has a choice: Fly as trained and return for a yummy dead rodent, or never look back and be free as a bird. “We never know what route it will fly,” says Andrew and he laughs, “I’ve had several years taken from my life doing this.” During training or game day performances, to date, Auburn has never witnessed an eagle escapee. “When it’s time to call it down we run out to the field with the lure,” adds Amanda. “In flight, the eagle looks down at the lure it associates with food and down it comes – hopefully to the 50-yard line.” As of press time, all home pre-game shows are still on. “As long as there are fans in the stadium, we will fly,” Andrew says. From release, to return, the show is over in about 90 seconds. The eagle team runs off the field. Football players run on it. Inevitably a loyal home team fan base erupts in song, “War Eagle, fly down the field, ever to conquer, never to yield.” Aurea and company show how it’s done. SEPTEMBER 2020  21

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| Gardens |

What to plant in the fall (and why)

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at

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can be harvested before the first hard freeze. “Look for varieties with a harvest maturity of 100 days or less,” Enfield says, or find out the dates to maturity of things you want to grow and count back from your area’s first expected frost date to determine if there’s enough time to grow them successfully. Cutting that date close? Frost blankets or other protective covers can be used during severe cold spells to extend the life of many fall crops well into the late fall or early winter. Planting in containers that can be moved to protected areas during extremely cold weather is another option. Regardless of what you’re planting, follow proper planting practices. Remove spent or dead plants, which may harbor disease and insect pests, and test your soil before adding fertilizers. Enfield recommends turning garden soil and amending it with compost or other organic matter, too. “Whether you’re planting perennials, trees, vegetables or anything, your plants will be a lot happier for it,” she said. There’s much more to plant and accomplished in the fall garden, so check out the websites of Bonnie Plants (bonnieplants. com) or the Alabama Cooperative Extension System ( for ideas, or consult with local garden experts. PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION


eptember may signal the end of summer gardens, but it’s just the beginning of what quite possibly is the best gardening season of all. Fall, which officially arrives on Sept. 22 (the autumnal equinox), is an ideal time for planting, and for working, in the garden, and this year a lot more of us will be out there doing both. According to Amy Enfield, a horticulturist with Bonnie Plants, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an unprecedented increase in gardening nationwide. In fact, a survey conducted by Scotts Miracle-Gro showed that, from March to July, some 21 million Americans took up gardening, most for the first time ever, and apparently they liked it. “Nearly everyone surveyed said they intend to keep on gardening and grow more next year than they did this year,” Enfield says. Lucky for all of us, next year can start now. Cooler fall temperatures and often more abundant rainfall provide perfect growing conditions for cool-season vegetables, flowers and herbs. Those conditions also help bulbs, lawn seed and trees, shrubs and other perennials develop stronger, deeper root systems, which gives them a jump start on next year’s growing season. Enfield herself loves fall gardening, especially for growing cool-season vegetable crops such as leafy greens (lettuce, spinach and collards), root vegetables (beets and carrots) and cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale). Though these crops are often planted in the spring, En-

field said many will do better for us in the fall. “In the Southeast, spring tends to be short and it gets really hot, really fast,” she says. “When temperatures jump from the 70s to the 90s overnight, that’s tough on early spring crops.” And, as temperatures rise, many cool-season plants bolt (produce flowering stems) too early and develop bitter flavors. “The benefit of fall is that your soil is already warm, but temperatures are cooling off,” Enfield explains. “Cool-season crops love that.” They often also respond well to cold. “When plants like kale, collards, carrots and sugar snap peas are kissed by a light frost, that enhances their sugars and they become sweeter and more flavorful.” In addition to cool-season vegetables, Enfield said fall is a great time to grow many herbs, especially cilantro, parsley and mint. And some warm-season vegetables, such as green beans and tomatoes, can be grown well into the fall here in Alabama. The key to a successful fall vegetable garden is preparation and attention to planting dates. Since severe cold is usually the greatest limiting factor for many fall vegetables, it’s important to pick varieties that either tolerate colder temperatures or

SEPTEMBER TIPS • Harvest and preserve late summer herbs, vegetables and fruits.

• Watch for end-of-season sales on

plants and gardening or outdoor products. • Mow and irrigate lawns as needed. • Divide and transplant perennials. • Find and remove invasive plants in your landscape. • Plant wildflower seeds.

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| Alabama People |

Rick Pate

Promoting Alabama agriculture Rick Pate, who was elected Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries in 2018, grew up on his family’s beef and poultry farm in Lowndes County. Graduating in 1978 from Auburn University where he studied ornamental horticulture, he started his own landscaping business, Pate Landscape Co., in 1982. As if running a business wasn’t enough, he jumped into politics, first running and being elected to the town council and later mayor of Lowndesboro, where he presided over a number of municipal improvements including expansion of the water system and new sidewalks. We talked to Pate about how his background prepared him for heading up one of the state’s seven constitutional offices. –Lenore Vickrey Why did you decide to run for statewide office? Our parents taught us by example the importance of improving the conditions around us whether in our community, church or industry. I was at a point in my life where I was ready for a new challenge. I was approached by a farmer to run for Commissioner of Agriculture. I spoke with then Commissioner, John McMillan, and he encouraged me to run. I saw this as an opportunity to use the experience I’ve gained over the years, as a farmer, agribusiness owner and community leader to contribute to Alabama agriculture. What’s your typical day like? One of the most exciting aspects is that no one day is the same. I can honestly say I look forward to coming to work every day. I believe we are doing important work to protect o u r food

supply, animal health, environment and fair commerce, while promoting Alabama-grown food and products. My schedule changed dramatically with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. I had spent half my time traveling around the state meeting with farmers and agribusiness groups promoting Alabama agriculture and sharing our roles in protecting consumers and farmers. In the first few weeks of the coronavirus, we were held responsible by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for protecting “the food supply chain” in Alabama. They declared agriculture and its employees as critical infrastructure and essential services.’ At the time, restrictions on travel were proposed and businesses ordered to close, but we believe we navigated those challenges well. We delivered face masks and hand sanitizer to all poultry and catfish processing plants for their employees to use at home, to slow the spread of the virus. We also worked with Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. and the Alabama Trucking Association to help distribute over 280,000 eggs to Feeding America food banks and other organizations across the state. We are currently working with the governor to distribute CARES Act money equitably back to Alabama agriculture. What has been the biggest challenge for Alabama’s agriculture industry during the current pandemic? The ”stay at home” orders created challenges for us as we worked to keep the food supply chain operational. We saw cattle prices plummet while availability and prices of beef in grocery stores fluctuated wildly. We dealt with reduced processing capacity in our poultry industry as their facilities began to slow down due to virus outbreaks. We continue to assure our fellow citizens that Alabama’s food supply is abundant, safe and sustainable. We will get through this together. What’s your idea of an ideal supper with all-Alabama grown products? It would be between a ribeye steak or fried Alabama-raised catfish. My favorite Alabama-grown fruits are fresh peaches, watermelon and strawberries. My favorite Alabama-grown vegetables include fried okra, tomatoes (with a little salt, pepper and mayonnaise), sweet potatoes and greens. A must-have for dinner is my wife’s cornbread with either Milo’s or Red Diamond tea to drink. For dessert, I’d pick blueberry pie with Blue Bell ice cream with a few Priester’s or Underwood pecans sprinkled on top. You’ve said that by 2050 farmers will have to double food production to meet the needs of the world. How is Alabama poised to do its part? The abundance of natural resources in Alabama uniquely positions us to continue to increase food production. We are fortunate to have a long growing season, lots of rain and a wide variety of soils. With advancements in technology, Alabama farmers keep making production gains every year while also reducing impacts on the environment. We are growing more on less land and using less chemicals than ever before. Alabama is in a position to more than meet the needs of a growing population.

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| Worth the drive |

Mom’s home cooking was inspiration for Indian restaurant By Jack West


said that his mother’s home-cooking was the inspiration for Good ith the global pandemic continuing to require Alabamians Karma. to forgo sit-down restaurants in favor of takeout, one Au“I remember eating this food at home, and I remember taking it burn restaurant is continuing to give people good energy to some of my friends in school when my mom would make a little and even better food, one bowl of rice at a time. extra,” he says. “Just to see them try my mom’s cooking for the first First started as a food truck on Auburn University’s campus, time and how much they enjoyed it, I wanted people to be able to Good Karma is a local Indian restaurant that has always focused experience that.” more on takeout food than a dine-in experience. The restaurant mainly serves rice bowls and naan wraps with eiThat focus, coupled with good food and empathetic business ther chicken, lamb, paneer or a daily vegan option like chickpeas or practices, has helped Good Karma retain a customer base in a college town that, at least for the last few months, potatoes. Those are then topped with an array has been diminished. of sauce choices like tikka masala or curry. And Sunny Merchant, founder and president of finally, every dish can be made either “regular,” Good Karma, started the business nearly a year “spicy,” “extra spicy” or “burn off my tastebuds.” ago as a recent college graduate. His parents also That last option, by the way, may seem like a own a food truck in Auburn, but that was the joke, but it is also a promise. extent of experience he’d had with the restaurant With options like lamb and curry, one of the business. biggest questions surrounding Good Karma’s “I took exactly zero business classes in colsuccess is whether it has come despite the lack lege,” Merchant says. “I know I’ve made a lot of of Indian food in the modern Alabamian diet, mistakes in a lot of areas of the business, operaor because of it. Plenty of kids growing up in tions-wise. I didn’t know how to talk to certain Alabama go to Mexican restaurants for chips people, or I didn’t know what a good price was and salsa or Chinese restaurants for chow mein for certain things.” and orange chicken, but Indian food has never Sunny Merchant holds a tray of Merchant said that while starting the business really been a part of the Southern palette. chicken curry, a restaurant favorite. often seemed overwhelming, having parents in Merchant said he wanted to create more diverse dining options. the food service industry certainly helped. “A lot of people don’t really venture too much out of Auburn or “It’s definitely one of the most exciting and most stressful things Alabama or the United States, and so they don’t always have the opI’ve done in my life so far,” Merchant says. “There is so much to get portunity to try something that they’ve never even seen or heard of done, so many moving parts. It was a very overwhelming experience, and I’ve very thankful that I had my parents to help guide before,” he says. “In a word, pluralism. It’s the idea that we as people me and encourage me on the days that I was a little bit too overshould be able to experience a wide variety of experiences. It would whelmed.” be a shame for people to have the opportunity to try something new Merchant, who has lived in Auburn since he was in fourth grade, Continued on Page 30 26  SEPTEMBER 2020

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Social Security terms, in plain language


ome of the terms and acronyms people use when they talk about Social Security can be a little confusing. We’re here to help you understand all you need to know. We strive to explain your benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate clearly in a way “the public can understand and use.” This can be particularly challenging when talking about complicated programs like Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare. If there’s a technical term or acronym that you don’t know, you can easily find the meaning in our online glossary at Everyone uses shorter versions of words nowadays. We do, too. Social Security’s acronyms function as shorthand in conversations about our programs and services. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

September Across 1 Anniston civil rights monument, 2 words 8 Fort Conde ___ in Mobile 9 Origin point of the marches supporting the Voting Rights Act 11 Corn holder 12 Cabin builder’s material 13 In 2019, The Tide had 10 players taken in this NFL selection process 15 Green color 17 Caught off base 18 Alabama ___ Cornmeal 19 Boll weevil, for one 22 Car club, abbr. 23 Dawn time 25 Interlinked natural environments 29 Alabama neighbor, abbr. 31 Zero 32 Former Auburn player who joined the Patriots this year 33 2019 NFL draft pick from Auburn Tigers, Jamel ____ 35 Large coffee pot 37 Crimson Tide LB, ___ Davis 38 Beautiful blue bird, common in Alabama, Indigo ____

If you’re nearing retirement, you may want to know what PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age), and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) mean. These terms describe your benefit amount — based on when you decide to take it. If you take your retirement benefit at FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA (amount payable for a retired worker who starts benefits at full retirement age). So, FRA is an age and PIA is an amount. Once you receive benefits, you get a COLA most years. A COLA is a Cost-of-Living Adjustment, and that will usually mean a little extra money in your monthly benefit. What about DRCs? Delayed retirement credits are the incremental increases added to the PIA if you delay taking retirement benefits beyond your full retirement age. If you wait to begin benefits beyond FRA — say, at age 68 or even 70 — your benefit increases. If one of those terms or acronyms comes up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using our online glossary. Sometimes learning the terminology can deepen your understanding of how Social Security works for you.

crossword 27 28 30 32 34 36

Detroit locale, abbr. Buggy in Alabama is ___ for a shopping cart Large white bird found in Alabama waters Pen part Radio type Nurse (abbr.)

by Myles Mellor

Answers on Page 45

Down 1 Southern food favorite, 2 words 2 Ending for west or east 3 State Park northeast of Fort Payne 4 It could be Japanese or Brown Top 5 Picture 6 Gracefully refined 7 Polite form of address to the boss 10 Frequent tattoo letters 14 ___ Sullivan Macy: Helen Keller’s teacher 16 Auburn coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005 19 Dark horse 20 Alabama’s ____ shore, including Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope 21 Sounds you might hear in Cathedral Caverns State Park 22 Stock wood 24 Madame, for short 26 Weariness 28  SEPTEMBER 2020

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Continued from Page 26

Hookworm in dogs on the increase

and just never do it.” Trying something new, according to Merchant, is a great way to get people talking to each other and invested in the community around them.


“I wanted to do something to bring people together, and I know that good food makes coming together as people very easy,” he says. “My thought has always been that if I can bring together enough people with good food, it might as well be food that they’ve never tried before. “Our name is Good Karma, and we really want to live up to our name. We really want to put out as much positive energy as we can.” In practice, that takes the form of a small corkboard covered with pins in front of the register in the restaurant. A sign next to it cheerfully designates the corkboard as a community board. The idea is that anyone can walk into the restaurant, pull a pin off the board, hand it to the person behind the register and receive a rice bowl and a drink for free. No questions asked. “It’s basically for anyone who is hungry and who doesn’t want to, or can’t afford to, pay for their food,” Merchant says. “It’s for people who are down on their luck as well as people who have forgotten their wallets at home and anyone in between.” Others can choose to sponsor a pin and, in a sense, get some good karma of their own. For $10, anyone can add another pin to the corkboard and ensure that someone else gets a free meal.

ou’ve probably heard of MRSA, the bacteria that can cause staph infections that are difficult to treat because of resistance to some antibiotics. Now, researchers have found hookworms in dogs that are re- One of the best ways to prevent hookworm in sistant to multiple your pet is to keep the yard clean. drugs. Scientists at Kaplan Laboratory at the University of Georgia came to the conclusion of a multidrug-resistant hookworm after 2 years of study. We have been seeing this phenomenon in our own clinic! Many pets that have been treated at home with over the counter dewormers are still showing positive for hookworm parasite eggs from our in-house fecal testing. Hookworm is the most common intestinal parasite of dogs in this country, and the numbers are increasing. A recent study of over 39 million fecal samples from 2012–2018 showed an overall increase of 47%. They are fairly small parasites, about 1/3-inch to ½-inch long and not easily visible by the naked eye. Hookworm in dogs can cause bloody diarrhea, malnutrition, heart issues, and death. Hookworm eggs get into the soil, become larvae, and live for many weeks. Alarmingly, they can infect humans by penetrating the skin when walking barefooted!

Generating positive energy

So what to do?

The MOST important thing is the simplest: pick up after your dog, every time! Make sure to do fecal testing yearly. It is best to bring a fresh stool sample. If one of your pets tests positive, start treatment right away, and follow through until fecal samples are clean. Common drugs used for hookworms are Strongid, Panacur, and Interceptor. The good news is, so far they haven’t found hookworms which are resistant to all three drugs, but which are resistant to 2 of the 3 drugs. It is interesting that the authors of another study believe the origin of the multidrug resistant hookworm may have started from Florida greyhound breeding facilities, where dogs are raised for the racing industry. They believe overcrowding and overuse of anthelmintic (anti-parasite) drugs may have been the cause. In my experience, some breeders tend to throw a dose of every dewormer to the puppies, instead of taking environmental control measures like clean facilities and fewer animals on the premises. If possible, rescue, don’t buy! Or, if you feel compelled to buy, then buy from a breeder where the facilities are meticulously cleaned and the kennel is not overpopulated. Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He works at his home as a holistic veterinarian and is a member of North Alabama Electric Cooperative. Send pet-related questions to

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Like other business owners, Merchant is rethinking how he interacts with his customers — his family — because of the uncertainty about when social distancing restrictions may end and what fall will look like on Auburn’s campus. “Luckily, our business model was designed as more of takeout model already,” Merchant says. “It did hurt us to close our dining room. We ended up missing out on a lot of customer interactions which is one of my favorite parts about the restaurant. “We are looking at different events around town, everything from student housing complexes to family neighborhoods to different businesses. We would take the truck out to those places and still do our best to serve the community.”

Good Karma

1409 S. College St., Suite 118 Auburn, AL 334-246-3144 Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday


8/19/20 1:15 PM

Alabama Living

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SEPTEMBER 2020  31

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CALL FOR ENTRIES Alabama Rural Electric Association’s

11 Quilt Competition th

Our 2021 theme is: First responders

Mail, or E-mail form below for your entry package. Deadline to submit quilt square is January 29, 2021.

Name:_________________________________________________ Address:_______________________________________________ City, State Zip:___________________________________________ Mail to: Linda Partin AREA E-mail:_________________________________________________ 340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 Phone:_________________________________________________ Cooperative:____________________________________________ or Phone: 334-215-2732 E-mail: (The electric cooperative name on front of this Alabama Living.)

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Alabama Living

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SEPTEMBER 2020  33

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| Alabama Recipes |

Setting the bar Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols

If the past five months of staying at home have taxed your culinary skills, it might be time to spice up family meals with a “bar” party. “Bar” food can mean anything from serving up the ingredients for stuffing a taco shell, topping a baked potato, sprinkling a bowl of ice cream, or even, as in the case of our September Cook of the Month, filling a melt-in-your-mouth crepe. Creating a food bar, which is really just another name for a make-your-own buffet, lets your guests choose their favorite fillings and fixings, in whatever amount they like. Pull out your favorite bowls and cups (it doesn’t matter if they don’t match) and fill them with pre-cut veggies, fruit slices, ground beef, chicken, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, or whatever your crowd prefers. The recipes our readers have provided this month are just starters, so use your imagination, and set the bar high for some delicious, and different, mealtimes. – Lenore Vickrey

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Brooke Burks

Photo by The Buttered Home


rock Pot Baked Potatoes are an easy way to feed a large crowd. A baked potato bar is one of the easiest ways to have a delicious meal with very little work involved. Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the market, set up your crock pot in the morning to bake your potatoes and voila! You have an easy meal with very little effort. Set that crock pot to warm to keep them toasty once done. Put out all of the fine fixin's and you have yourself a great meal that can be customized to fit anyone’s tastes! We love them with Alabama white sauce. That recipe plus many more can be found at

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes -8 russet potatoes, equal in size 6 1/2 cup canola oil 2-4 tablespoons sea salt Wash and dry potatoes. Pierce potatoes with a fork on all sides. Drizzle a little canola oil on top of an aluminum foil square. Sprinkle all sides with sea salt and wrap tightly in foil. Do this for each potato. Place in crock pot. If you are baking more than what will cover the bottom, it is ok to stack them on top of one another. For six to eight potatoes, cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. For nine or more potatoes, cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. Carefully remove from crock pot, bust open and serve with all of your favorite toppings!

Italian Salad Bar

Bloody Mary Chicken Tacos

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded Shaved parmesan cheese Black or green olives Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved Red onion, thinly sliced Pepperoncini peppers Croutons Sliced cucumbers

1 whole chicken or your choice of chicken parts 1 bottled Bloody Mary mix (we use Zing Zang) 11/2 white or red onion, sliced 2 garlic cloves, chopped Shredded quesadilla cheese or cheddar cheese Corn tortillas or taco shells Pico de gallo Avocado, sliced

Shred both lettuces and toss together in a large bowl. Line up small bowls of ingredients by the lettuce bowl. Place bottles of dressing (cook’s choice) by the salad. Place your main dish or dishes (lasagna, rigatoni, spaghetti, ravioli, etc.) and a basket of toasted garlic bread beside the salad. Do not dress the lettuce ahead of time as it will wilt. Use large serving spoons and let everyone help themselves. Glenda Weigel Baldwin EMC

Alabama Living

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In a slow cooker, place chicken and sliced onions. Add enough bloody Mary mix to almost cover chicken. Cook on high until chicken is tender. Shred chicken and place back into crockpot. Brown tortillas or warm taco shells. Fill tortillas with chicken, pico de gallo, cheese and sliced avocado. Kathryn Torres Dixie EC



Cook of the Month Prize!

Themes and Deadlines: Dec.: Cinnamon | September 4 January: Winter Greens | October 2 February: Chocolate | November 6

3 ways to submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Please send us your original recipes (developed or adapted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” once per calendar year.

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Cook of the Month: Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC Robin O’Sullivan loves the idea of a crepe bar for a different twist on our “bar food” theme. As a vegetarian, she doesn’t serve meat or fish, but always wants her guests to know that “plantbased meals can be delicious and exciting!” For the savory part of her crepe bar, she likes to offer a spread of seasonal, local vegetables, “finished with a savory sauce. Carnivores could certainly offer chicken, beef or shrimp,” she adds. “I’m definitely a sweets person, so chocolate-filled crepes will always be my first choice” for the sweet portion of the bar, as well as fresh fruits topped with homemade whipped cream. If you want to keep your crepes warm, you can keep them in the oven or on a warming plate, “though they taste fine after being at room temperature for a while.” Robin, who teaches history at Troy University, hasn’t had much opportunity to entertain due to the pandemic, but when it’s safe to gather again, she says, “I would like to hostess a crepe bar party for my colleagues!” We could go for that! – Lenore Vickrey

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Crêpe Bar 4 11/3 2 1

eggs cups milk tablespoons butter cup all-purpose flour

Optional savory fillings: Swiss cheese Chèvre scrambled eggs Grilled vegetables Mashed sweet potatoes Sautéed spinach Mashed black beans

Optional sweet fillings: Sliced fruit Chocolate-hazelnut spread Ricotta cheese Caramel dip Chocolate chips Almond butter

Make crêpes ahead of time: In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add milk, butter and flour; beat until smooth. Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Grease lightly with oil. Pour scant 1/4 cup batter into hot pan, immediately tilting pan until batter covers bottom. Cook until edges start to dry and center is set. Turn and cook other side until light brown. Set crêpes aside, separated by waxed paper or parchment paper, until cool. When it's time to have your crêpes bar, set piles of crêpes at one end of the table. Spread toppings on table in individual dishes. Allow each person to fill crêpes as desired.

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Alabama Living

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| Outdoors |

Sportsmen return to fields, forests for a new season of adventures


xcept for the limitDuring dove season, coled alligator season, lared doves do not count in which begins in Authe daily bag limit. Much gust for people selected for bigger than mourning tags, the September dove doves, collared doves grow season traditionally marks nearly as large as park pigeons. The distinctive graythe start of another fall and ish-black collars around winter afield after months their necks and squared of watching the calendar. tails provide the best idenThe September dove tifying features. opener also creates one of For more on youth dove the major social events of hunting opportunities, go early fall in many communities. Families and friends to gather to hunt and socialyouth-hunting/youthize, usually ending the day dove-hunts. with a big barbecue or potWhile dove season traluck. ditionally kicked off a new Alabama manages two hunting season, the state hunting zones for doves. The author shows off a white-winged dove he bagged. Note the distinctive white established an earlier goose This year, the North Zone wing patches. Native to the arid deserts and plains of the southwestern states and season a few years ago to will open at noon on Sept. Mexico, white-winged doves began moving northward and eastward in the past trim the surplus population of non-migratory 5, a week earlier than usu- few years and now thrive in Mobile and Baldwin counties. al. The first split lasts until Canada geese. The early Oct. 25. In the South Zone, Alabama sportsmen can start huntgoose season runs from Sept. 1-30, but goose seasons return from ing doves at noon Sept. 12 through sunset Nov. 1. Sportsmen can Oct. 10-24, Nov. 27-28 and from Dec. 5 through Jan. 31, 2021. again hunt doves statewide from Nov. 21-29 and from Dec. 12 Waterfowlers can also participate in an early teal season, which through Jan. 10, 2021. runs from Sept. 12-27. Blue-winged teal migrate much earlier “As always, we will have prepared dove fields on most of our than most other ducks. They usually hit the Gulf Coast in late August and depart for places farther south by November. To increase wildlife management areas across the state,” explains Seth Maddox, the state migratory game bird coordinator. “This information the harvest of blue-winged teal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be added to our website for the first time this year to inform allows designated states to hold September seasons. During teal the public of the opportunities. Typically, we have dove fields on season, sportsmen may bag up to six ducks in any combination of Seven-Mile Island WMA, Cahaba River WMA and Lowndes blue-winged and green-winged teal. WMA. These areas offer some of the better dove hunting opporWhile teal hunting, waterfowlers might also take advantage of tunities in the state.” rail and gallinule season. These shorebirds like to stay in thick Each day, sportsmen can bag up to 15 birds in any combination vegetation in marshes, lake shorelines and other wet areas. In Alabama, sportsmen can shoot up to 15 birds in any combination of of mourning doves and white-winged doves. Native to the arid clapper rails, Virginia rails, sora rails and gallinules. The Septemdeserts and plains of the southwestern states and Mexico, whiteber season runs concurrent with teal season, but reopens from winged doves began moving northward and eastward in the past Nov. 27 through Jan. 19, 2021. few years. Both Mobile and Baldwin counties now contain populations of white-winged doves. Also opening on Sept. 12, people can hunt squirrels and rabbits “The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division will statewide. Squirrel and rabbit seasons both run through March hold 26 youth dove hunts across the state this fall,” Maddox says. 7, 2021, with a limit of eight each per day. Almost any areas with “Most of the fields on which these hunts will be held are donated mast-producing hardwood trees or mixed pine and hardwood by private landowners. We will also be holding a Special Opporforests probably hold squirrels. For rabbits, look for thick fields, tunity Area hunt at Portland Landing SOA on Sept. 12. This is a new clear-cuts and brushy savannas. Any place that might hold quota hunt so hunters must register for the drawing.” doves would likely provide excellent rabbit habitat. As a bonus, sportsmen may also shoot Eurasian collared doves, Other seasons will open in coming months. In addition, sportsmen can shoot beavers, bobcats, coyotes, crows, English sparrows, an exotic species native to south Asia, without limit or season. feral hogs, foxes, groundhogs, nutria, opossums, raccoons and starlings all year long without limit. John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. For more information on season dates, zone boundaries, places Contact him through Facebook. to hunt, regulations and other information, call 334-242-3469 or visit 38  SEPTEMBER 2020

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P.O. BOX 389, ADDISON, AL 35540

WE SELL: Steel Trusses • Hay Barns Lumber • Equipment Sheds Building Material Packages Painted Metal • Work Shops Insulation • Kneebraces Galvalume Metal


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Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31


NA 12:30 - 2:30 1:18 - 3:18 2:06 - 4:06 2:54 - 4:54 3:42 - 5:42 4:30 - 6:30 5:18 - 7:18 6:06 - 8:06 6:54 - 8:54 7:42 - 9:42 8:30 - 10:30 9:18 - 11:18 10:06 - 12:06 A.M.

NA 12:30 - 2:30 1:18 - 3:18 2:06 - 4:06 2:54 - 4:54 3:42 - 5:42 4:30 - 6:30 5:18 - 7:18 6:06 - 8:06 6:54 - 8:54 7:42 - 9:42 8:30 - 10:30 9:18 - 11:18 10:06 - 12:06 10:54 - 12:54 NA 12:30 - 2:30 1:18 - 3:18 2:06 - 4:06 2:54 - 4:54 3:42 - 5:42 4:30 - 6:30 5:18 - 7:18 6:06 - 8:06 6:54 - 8:54 7:42 - 9:42 8:30 - 10:30 9:18 - 11:18 10:06 - 12:06 10:54 - 12:54 NA



12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 12:54 - 2:54 1:42 - 3:42 2:30 - 4:30 3:18 - 5:18 4:06 - 6:06 4:54 - 6:54 5:42 - 7:42 6:30 - 8:30 7:18 - 9:18 8:06 - 10:06 8:54 - 10:54 9:42 - 11:42 10:30 - 12:30 PM

12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON 12:54 - 2:54 1:42 - 3:42 2:30 - 4:30 3:18 - 5:18 4:06 - 6:06 4:54 - 6:54 5:42 - 7:42 6:30 - 8:30 7:18 - 9:18 8:06 - 10:06 8:54 - 10:54 9:42 - 11:42 10:30 - 12:30 11:18 - 1:18 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 12:54 - 2:54 1:42 - 3:42 2:30 - 4:30 3:18 - 5:18 4:06 - 6:06 4:54 - 6:54 5:42 - 7:42 6:30 - 8:30 7:18 - 9:18 8:06 - 10:06 8:54 - 10:54 9:42 - 11:42 10:30 - 12:30 11:18 - 1:18 12:06 - 2:06 FULL MOON


6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51 10:09 - 11:39 10:57 - 12:27 NA 12:33 - 2:03 1:21 - 2:51 2:09 - 3:39 2:57 - 4:27 3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 AM

6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51 10:09 - 11:39 10:57 - 12:27 NA 12:33 - 2:03 1:21 - 2:51 2:09 - 3:39 2:57 - 4:27 3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 5:21 - 6:51 6:09 - 7:39 6:57 - 8:27 7:45 - 9:15 8:33 - 10:03 9:21 - 10:51 10:09 - 11:39 10:57 - 12:27 NA 12:33 - 2:03 1:21 - 2:51 2:09 - 3:39 2:57 - 4:27 3:45 - 5:15 4:33 - 6:03 5:21 - 6:51 6:09 - 7:39


6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15 10:33 - 12:03 11:21 - 12:51 12:09 - 1:39 12:57 - 2:27 1:45 - 3:15 2:33 - 4:03 3:21 - 4:51 4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 PM

6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15 10:33 - 12:03 11:21 - 12:51 12:09 - 1:39 12:57 - 2:27 1:45 - 3:15 2:33 - 4:03 3:21 - 4:51 4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 5:45 - 7:15 6:33 - 8:03 7:21 - 8:51 8:09 - 9:39 8:57 - 10:27 9:45 - 11:15 10:33 - 12:03 11:21 - 12:51 12:09 - 1:39 12:57 - 2:27 1:45 - 3:15 2:33 - 4:03 3:21 - 4:51 4:09 - 5:39 4:57 - 6:27 5:45 - 7:15 6:33 - 8:03

The Moon Clock and resulting Moon Times were developed 36 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. Alabama Living

AL STATE SEP20.indd 39

Cookbook Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH: (Shipping included)


Name: Address: City: State:


Phone Number: SEPTEMBER 2020  39

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| Consumer Wise |

Five ways to winterize your manufactured home By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen


The last few months have been tough, and I’m dreading my manufactured home’s high winter heating bills. What can I do to make my home more efficient without spending too much money?


In difficult times like these, it’s more important than ever to ensure the money we spend yields the results we need. Here are five tips for winterizing your manufactured home, which can help you capture some significant energy savings. It’s worth noting that some of these suggestions are quick, easy and cheap, but some will require more money than you may want to spend. Choose the approach that works best for your home and budget.

1. Furnace. It doesn’t cost anything to

lower your thermostat in the winter. Make sure you clean or replace your furnace air filter as often as recommended. If you heat your home with an electric or propane furnace, you can likely cut your heating costs dramatically by installing a heat pump. Ductless heat pumps are efficient, and they eliminate the problem of leaky furnace ducts. If you don’t have the budget to make this investment now out of pocket, you may qualify for a loan. It’s quite possible that your energy savings would cover the loan payment. Patrick Keegan writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@collaborativeefficiency. com for more information.

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Insulating the first several feet of the hot water pipe where it leaves the tank is an energy saver. PHOTO CREDIT: MARCELA GARA, RESOURCE MEDIA, EE IMAGE DATABASE

2. Water heater. You pay a lot to

heat water. One simple way to lower that amount is to lower your water heater’s thermostat. Make sure it’s set to medium, between 120 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Energy efficient showerheads can also save energy. Some showerheads are equipped with a button or valve that allows you to reduce or stop the flow while you lather up. Another fairly simple fix is to insulate the first several feet of the hot water pipe where it exits the tank. If there is room around your water heater, you could also wrap the tank with an insulation jacket, which you can purchase from a home supply store for about $20. If your water heater uses gas or propane, be careful not to restrict the air needed for combustion or install insulation too close to the exhaust flue.

3. Ducts. Leaky furnace ducts are

often a major source of energy loss. A simple first step is to make sure all supply and return registers are open and are not covered by furniture or rugs. Closed registers can really take a toll on your heating and cooling system. You might also be able to save energy by sealing your ducts at the floor registers. The biggest leaks, however, are likely under your manufactured home and could require the services of a contractor to locate and

seal. Check with your local electric co-op to see if they can recommend local contractors who can provide this service.

4. Windows and doors. That win-

dow A/C unit that kept you cool all summer can be a major source of heat loss in the winter. Before the cold hits, cover it up––or better yet, remove it during winter months. Another fairly easy way to cut down on energy loss is to install window insulation kits–– these are plastic, disposable sheets that are stretched over window and held in place with double-sided tape. Thick curtains can also do a remarkable job at cutting drafts and adding insulation around a window. The final and most involved step is to fill cracks and holes in walls and around windows and doors with caulk, filler and/or expanding foam.

5. Floors. Cold floors can be costly

and uncomfortable. The easiest solution is to lay down area rugs for additional warmth. But to really get the floor comfortable, you may have to venture into the crawlspace and insulate the floor or skirting. If you’re not sure how to do this, there are several video tutorials available online.

With these simple steps, you can look forward to a cozier and less-costly winter!

8/19/20 1:15 PM

Alabama Living

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| Clarke-Washington EMC |

ALABAMA GARDENER’S CALENDAR Information provided by The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Find more at

September Fruits and Nuts

• New catalogs will be arriving soon. • Start plans for future selection and plantings. • Take soil test for new planting areas. • Fertilize established strawberry plantings.


• Study landscape to determine plant needs. • Check early varieties of camellias. • You may want to replace those damaged in spring by late freezes. • After fall growth is completed, spray all shrubs with a fungicide.


• Plant seed of winter grasses where situation prevents planting permanent grasses.

• Winter seeds will appear soon. • Stop fertilization three weeks before frost.


• Protect fall crops of blossoms from aphids and thrips. • Keep plants healthy.

Annuals and Perennials

• Last chance for planting perennials and biennials. • Old clumps of perennials may be divided. • Plant peonies.


• Clean up infestations of insects on azaleas, camellias, boxwoods, gardenias, hollies, etc. • If oil spray is needed, don’t use in freezing weather. • Build compost bin or box; leaves will be falling soon. • Move houseplants indoors.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant hardy vegetables and root crops

Vegetable Plants

• Plant cabbage, collards, cauliflower, celery, Brussel sprouts, and onion sets.


• Spring-flowering bulbs may be planted late this month in north Alabama. • Delay planting in south Alabama.

October Fruits and Nuts

• Planting season for strawberries starts in south Alabama.


• Continue insect and disease control practices.

• Clean up orchard area.

• New rose catalogs will be coming in.

• Remove broken limbs, old fruit, and debris from orchard floor.

• Study closely; add some new varieties to your list.


• Shrub plantings can be made.

Annuals and Perennials

• Visit flower shows and gardens.

• Water when needed.

• List desirable varieties of mums.

• Note varieties of camellias in bloom.

• Clean up flower beds immediately after first killing frost.

• Start mulching all shrubs that do not have a mulch.


• Continue to mow lawns until no new growth is noticeable.

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• Plant tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, Dutch irises, anemones, and ranunculuses.

• Watch planting depth. Dig caladiums; clean and store in warm place.


• Renew mulch around shrubs and rose beds. • Loosen mulches that have packed down. • Spray with oils before freezing weather to kill scale, mites, etc. • Remove all dead stems and trash from flower beds. • Transplant into small pots any cuttings taken earlier.

Vegetable Seed

• Plant turnips, mustard, kale, rape, spinach, and onion sets.

8/20/20 6:12 PM

Alabama Living

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| Our Sources Say |

Heroes work here A

sign at the Andalusia post office honors the heroes who work there. I was told that postal customers placed the sign there. There should be other signs. These are really crazy times. There hasn’t been a global pandemic in more than 100 years, and, outside of world wars, the world’s economy has never been shut down like the last four months. We have likely not yet seen the worst of the economic suffering. There is no manual on how to operate a business or our personal lives through a crisis like this. Even with the shutdowns, shut-ins and shelter-in-place orders, essential services have to carry on every day and, at times, every minute of every day. The heroic efforts of nurses and doctors were seen every day as they fought to save the lives of COVID patients while New York hospitals were overrun with cases. Likewise, nurses and doctors in Alabama and every other hospital in most of the world continue to respond with courage to treat and save the lives of COVID victims. Those efforts have maybe been less publicized but no less real and apparent. Nursing homes have been ravaged by COVID outbreaks. At one point, more than 50% of the COVID deaths in New Jersey originated in nursing homes. In Alabama, a nearby nursing home experienced more than 100 cases between patients and staff. Nursing home staff are truly heroic going to work every day, knowing the virus is in the facility yet putting their own safety at risk by caring for the patients. Many of those workers contracted the virus. They could have easily just stayed at home and avoided the exposure. They are COVID heroes. Pharmacy workers, too, meet the public and dispense medicines to the families of COVID victims. Some of those customers have been exposed to the virus and have the potential to pass it on to pharmacy workers as their prescriptions are filled. Those workers accept the risk of exposure to help their customers cope with their illnesses. They could just stay home, but they don’t. They are COVID heroes. There are so many others. The postal workers I mentioned earlier deliver the mail. Grocery workers keep shelves stocked. Waiters and waitresses serve our food if we eat out. Hardware store workers and other retail workers are exposed to so many people each day. I could go on. There are so many more. If you look around, you will see many COVID heroes working every day to perform essential services so our lives can continue at some level of normalcy.

This brings me to our people and our members’ employees. It is difficult to understand the complexity of electric service or the electric grid. Electric service is instantaneous, moving at the speed of light. Reliable service requires skilled people to monitor and control the system at all times. Power plant workers are required to operate generation plants around the clock. The transmission grid requires constant monitoring to prevent overloads in peak periods or from outages. Transmission and distribution lines have to be repaired when they are damaged or fail. Bills have to be processed and paid, and administrative duties have to be handled. PowerSouth’s power plant employees, transmission line crews, substation crews, telecommunication crews, information services employees, energy control center personnel, and other employees have worked through the COVID crisis, exposing themselves to the risk of infection to do their job and keep electric service available. Two storms on back-to-back weekends in April damaged parts of our transmission system and large parts of some of our members’ distribution systems. Our people and our members’ people responded quickly in the storms to repair damage and restore electric service. It would have been easy for them to just stay home and avoid exposure in the public to protect themselves and their families, but they went to work and repaired the systems as quickly as possible. We have all learned from this experience. We have learned more about the exposure risks and dangers of the virus. We have learned how to better protect ourselves, our families and our co-workers. When it all started, we heard about essential and non-essential employees. We heard how we needed to protect our essential workers so that essential services could continue. I have learned that there are many more essential services and essential workers than I had ever imagined. The longer we are in the pandemic, the more services we find are essential. We should all be thankful that people are willing to put themselves at risk to provide those services. I have also recognized how good PowerSouth people are. They have done whatever was needed or asked of them. They have changed their routines and put themselves at risk of exposure to make sure their jobs were done. All without complaint. Heroes do work here. I couldn’t ask for better teammates or better people. I hope you will all be safe and have a good month.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

44  SEPTEMBER 2020

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| Classifieds | How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): November 2020 Issue by September 25 December 2020 Issue by October 25 January 2021 Issue by November 25 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.

Miscellaneous METAL ROOFING $1.80/LINFT – FACTORY DIRECT! 1st quality, 40yr Warranty, Energy Star rated. (price subject to change) - (706) 226-2739 WALL BEDS OF ALABAMA - SOLID WOOD & LOG FURNITURE – Outdoor Rockers, Gliders & Swings, HANDCRAFTED AMISH CASKETS $1,599 - ALABAMA MATTRESS OUTLET – SHOWROOM Collinsville, AL – Custom Built / Factory Direct (256)490-4025,, 18X21 CARPORT $1,195 INSTALLED – Other sizes available - (706) 226-2739 FREE MATERIALS: SOON CHURCH / GOVERNMENT UNITING, suppressing “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”, enforcing NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW, Be informed! Need mailing address only. POB 374, Ellijay, GA 30540 –, (888)211-1715 PARALLEL BARS 7.5FT SAME AS REHAB for standing, walking or wheelchair. LIKE NEW. Call Rebecca (334)277-6530

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Answers to puzzle on Page 28

Alabama Living

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Getting a second opinion W

riting this column, and responding to the letters I get, causes me to reflect all the more on the small-town South in which I grew up, a region whose residents shaped my life and, according to my correspondents, shaped the lives of many of you. Ours was a world of quirky characters, amusing situations, tragedies large and small, and the general day-to-day associations that we held in common. Thinking back on the institutions that made small town life what it was, few were more important than the churches. Different churches attracted different folks. And yet, rather than categorize people, in a marvelously ecumenical way, in my Alabama town the pew you sat in on Sunday seldom distinguished you from your neighbors the rest of the week. We all looked and acted pretty much the same. Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at

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Of course, there were members of the stricter sects whose outward display – what they did or what they wore – set them apart. However, in most cases, in their day-to-day lives, folks of different denominations blended easily and got along just fine. Religious toleration seemed to reach its peak on Wednesday nights, not in the churches where separate prayer meetings were held, but out at my Daddy’s Poutin’ House, where he and his friends gathered to share attitudes and opinions. Though the regulars were various shades of Protestantism, or in one case no shade at all, a couple of Catholics occasionally attended. One of them was the local priest, Father Ahern. My own interest in Catholicism coincided with my interest in Catholic Kathleen, a lovely lass whose family were faithful members of Sacred Heart. Though we Protestant kids heard all sorts of rumors about what went on there – they drank real wine instead of grape juice, they spoke a strange language so no one else would know what they were up to – I was undaunted. Unaware of the historical precedent, I followed the path

Illustration by Dennis Auth

| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |

of Henry of Navarre who switched from Protestant to Catholic to become King of France. “Paris is well worth a Mass” was his take on the matter. So was Kathleen. I did not switch entirely. My Methodist roots were too deep, but though my sainted mother was suspicious of popery, she figured any church was better than no church at all, so with her blessing off I went to hold hands under the missal. No one batted an eye. Which is the point of all this reminiscing. Though the small-town South has often and rightly been criticized for intolerance in a host of categories, religion was seldom on the list. Thinking about this, I recalled a conversation I had with my daddy, back when the Poutin’ House was in full flower. As the subject drifted to religion, as it often did, I asked him how it was that he and Father Ahern became such fast friends. Daddy considered the question for a moment. then observed, “Though Methodism is fine for me, I always like to get a second opinion.” Of such an attitude, religious toleration is born.

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