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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News December 2016



Living color Centre nursery ready for poinsettia season

Season’s greetings

Archives’ card collection provides link to milestones in history

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Manager Stan Wilson Co-Op Editor Rick Norris 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. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.

From New York to Dothan

Through her catering business, restaurants and bakery, New York-trained Kelsey Barnard Clark is bringing sophisticated, healthy and homemade food to the Dothan area.


VOL. 69 NO. 12 n December 2016


POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.

CWEMC CEO Stan Wilson talks about everyday operations and plans for the future.


AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Griffin Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Michael Cornelison Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Graphic Designer/Advertising Coordinator Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart Graphic Designer Tori McClanahan



National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311

Printed in America from American materials Alabama Living


Historic holiday cards


Christmas cookies

Seasonal greetings to and from governors, politicians and other famous Alabamians have been preserved at the Department of Archives and History.

Bake a batch of our reader recipes, but save some for Santa.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail:

The natural course for business


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9 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 32 Gardens 30 Outdoors 31 Fish & Game Forecast 34 Cook of the Month 46 Snapshots ONLINE:

ON THE COVER: Hank Richardson of Dixie Green nursery in Centre holds one of the thousands of poinsettias grown by the family-owned business. This Christmas they will ship 250,000 plants to their customers, including Walt Disney World. PHOTO: Michael Cornelison DECEMBER 2016 3

The natural course for business OFFICE LOCATIONS

*Taken from comments made by CWEMC General Manager Stan Wilson during the 80th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Jackson Fairgrounds on October 18, 2016.

Jackson Office 1307 College Avenue P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours) Pay your bill online at Payment Methods Payments can be made at our Chatom and Jackson offices with cash, checks, debit or credit cards

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

4  DECEMBER 2016

Good evening, everyone. I want to talk to you tonight about the natural course for business at CWEMC. But first I want to thank you for coming out on this nice night. It’s always good to see you and I enjoy getting to meet you and talk with you, especially tonight as we celebrate 80 years of Clarke-Washington service. There are 1000 electric cooperatives across the U.S. and 22 here in Alabama – all formed to bring electricity to the rural areas of America. An example of why the rural electric cooperatives are in existence is the sparse population. We serve around 5 customers per mile of line versus an investor-owned utility serving 45-50 customers per mile of line. The natural course of business for us is to plan. We plan to cut right-of-way. We plan to upgrade power lines and we plan to change out poles and maintain our equipment across the 4000 miles of line we serve. We do these things to keep up, to prepare and to provide service for years to come. We are in this for the long term. Last year, at our annual meeting in Chatom, I told you about some strategic planning that we had done in an effort to determine our top strategic issues. In the normal course of planning, I spoke to you about upgrading technology. An example is adding radio reading technology to our meters versus reading our meters through the power lines. I also spoke

to you last year about another strategic issue – building a headquarters on our own electric system. Most people don’t know that our existing headquarters is not on our own electric system. I also spoke of other reasons that led us to arrive at this decision. These decisions were made in the normal course of action, with the long term in mind. We have also recently written about our headquarters facility in the magazine, Alabama Living. We now have some 4,000 radio read meters in place (called Sensus meters) with four towers and plans for four more towers and several thousand more Sensus meters. These meters can be remotely cut on and off – reducing cost and increasing your service. These meters can also let us know if they are on or off, a feature that will help us restore power more efficiently. In regards to the natural course of planning for our headquarters, we are moving forward with plans to build a headquarters facility on our own electric system on Highway 43 versus the location we’ve been in, on another power company’s lines, for 65 years. Another matter I spoke about at last year’s meeting was the refinancing of $19 million in RUS (Rural Utilities Service) debt. This step saves $6.2 million over the term of the loan while reducing the term by five years. All of this in the normal course of business, with goals to continue to provide all of our members with excellent electric service. I know tomorrow is a work day and we still have many prizes to give away, including a truck. So I’ll say thank you again for coming and I appreciate your support as we work for you and our long-term efforts for the future. Thanks to everyone for your help and hard work, especially our employees and volunteers.

| Clarke Washington EMC |

The oďŹƒces of Clarke-Washington EMC will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26 and Tuesday, Dec. 27 to celebrate Christmas with our friends and family. We will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 2 for New Year’s Day. We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As always, we will have a standby crew to respond to outages and emergencies 24/7.

1.800.323.9081 to report an outage

Remember: If you do not call from a phone number that is listed on your account, the outage management system will not recognize you. Make sure all the phones that you would use to call in an outage are listed on your account before the storm comes.

Alabama Living


2016 ANNUA 6  DECEMBER 2016

| Clarke Washington EMC |

AL MEETING Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  7

2016 Christmas Drive Help us make Christmas brighter for children and hungry residents in our area and for our local homebound elderly citizens. Join Clarke-Washington EMC by bringing food, toys and/or small personal and hygienic items that our elderly homebound may enjoy or need. Donations we collect will be delivered to both Clarke and Washington County DHR offices in time for Christmas. Bring your donations to CWEMC offices in Jackson or Chatom any time before December 9. Donations taken at the Chatom office will be given to Washington County DHR. Jackson donations will be given to Clarke County DHR.

8  DECEMBER 2016

December | Spotlight


Extreme drought, wildfires continue to grip Alabama Measurable rain has not fallen in parts of Alabama and Mississippi since mid-September, accompanied by chronically and unusually high temperatures.

While the source of some of these fires may be accidental, arson has been suspected and arrests have been made in several of the recent fires across the Southeast. Gov. Robert Bentley announced that a $5,000 reward will be issued to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person who is responsible for setting wildfires.

All 67 counties are under a “no burn” order, in which all outdoor burning is prohibited. Since the first of October, a total of 1,421 wildfires have occurred in Alabama, destroying more than 15,000 acres of land, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Holiday half-marathon returns to Andalusia The Andalusia Civitan Club will hold its second Holiday Half Marathon and 5K race beginning at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 3. The race is in conjunction with CANDYland, the town’s annual Christmas celebration.

The National Weather Service longer-range outlook through January is for above normal temperatures and below normal chances of precipitation.

Boaz celebrates holidays with parade, open house The annual Boaz Christmas Parade, set for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 on Alabama Highway 205 near the farmers’ market, kicks off the December parades in Marshall County. The parade’s theme this year is “The Lights of Christmas.”

In addition to runners, there is a new category this year for walkers (minimum 15-minute mile). The race route will wind through the Court Square and historic Springdale home. CANDYland will expand this year to include additional decorated cottages, an ice skating rink and a trackless train.

The following day, Dec. 3, is the Boaz holiday open house with special sales, refreshments and giveaways. For more information on these events, contact the Boaz Area Chamber of Commerce at 256-593-8154, or email

Register on or request a form from any Civitan Club member. There is also a Facebook page; search for “Andalusia Civitan Club Holiday Half Marathon and 5K.”

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 Dec. 5 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the January issue. 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 used will also win $25.


The Swift-Coles Historic Home in Bon Secour, in Baldwin County, began in 1882 as a simple fourroom structure in the bend of the Bon Secour River. In 1898, Susan and Charles Swift bought the house and built a sawmill on the river east of it. Though it burned in 1913, their business continued to expand, and the house was enlarged in 1902 and 1908. In 1976 it was purchased by Nicholas Coles, an entrepreneur and antiques collector. In September, the 16room mansion was added to the Alabama National Register for its significance as a Gulf Coast home and its unique design. Congratulations to Alice Lane, a member of Baldwin EMC, the correct guess winner.


Guess where this is and you might win $25!

By email: By mail: Whereville P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 Swift-Coles Historic Home in Bon Secour

Alabama Living


| Power Pack |

Social Security benefits children all year long


ith holidays and vacations, December is often considered a time to focus on the children in our lives. Whether we’re taking the kids to visit Santa, buying Hanukkah gifts, or volunteering for a toy drive, children are at the heart of the holiday season. We at Social Security definitely know a thing or two about helping children. Did you know that we issue Social Security numbers for children, typically during the first weeks or months of their life? You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading our publication, Social Security Numbers For Children, available at A child needs a Social Security number if he or she is going to have a bank account, if a relative is buying savings bonds for the child, if the child will have medical coverage, or if the child will receive government services. You’ll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns. Typically, the hospital will ask if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your newborn as part of the birth registration process. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply. If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and you must: • Complete an Application For a Social Security Card (Form SS-5). • Show us original documents proving

your child’s U.S. citizenship, age, and identity. • Show us documents proving your identity. Remember, a child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child’s behalf. You can imagine the many diverse needs that children around the world have. The children of some countries aren’t as fortunate, and don’t have the strong social safety net that we have in the United States. We work hard at Social Security to protect the needs of children, particularly if one or both of their parents are disabled, retired, or deceased. These benefits for children provide necessities, and help many minors complete high school. You can learn more by reading our publication, Benefits For Children, available at Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. Social Security is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI: • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must

PIckin’ time memories

I was in Mobile last month for the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference and picked up a copy of the October Alabama Living. I just got around to reading it today and discovered the column in which you [columnist Hardy Jackson] described accompanying your father as he measured cotton. I had to write because my father was a teacher, and he also had a summer job measuring cotton here in Rapides parish in Central Louisiana. We had some good times when I went with him on his farm visits. I remember those times fondly, but I don’t think of them often enough. Your column helped me take a moment and remember. Thank you. Jerry Sanson, PhD Department Chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences Professor of History and Political Science Louisiana State University at Alexandria

I really liked the story about cotton picking in October. I was a sharecropper’s daughter, the oldest of eight kids. I picked cotton with that pick sack around my neck and hanging on my right hip. When it got full, it was so heavy it would drag on the ground. I expect there aren’t many of us left who picked cotton. Times were hard, but we didn’t know we were poor. We were living in “high cotton,” as the song goes. We were happy we could lie down and sleep with doors open at night. It was a whole different world back then. Anne Gabriel Roanoke

10 DECEMBER 2016

severely limit your child’s activities. • The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death. • If your child’s condition(s) does not result in “marked and severe limitations”, or does not result in those limitations for at least 12 months, your child will not qualify for SSI. • The child must not be working and earning more than $1,790 a month in 2017. (This amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, your child will not be eligible for disability benefits. Learn the details about benefits for children by reading our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities, available at Visit to learn more about all we do to care for children. Caring for the next generation is a national priority, during the holidays and all year long.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at

Letters to the editor

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

Thanks for amendment info I just wanted to thank you for the very explicit article on the proposed amendments. It was clear and concise and therefore easy to use. Thanks for the great work! Maureen Tipton Langston


Blest be the tie that’s ugly


Illustration by Dennis Auth

very family should have Christmas traditions. Special decorations. Special foods. Special guests. When I was a boy, my family had Uncle Artemus. Born in 1895, Artemus grew up wanting more than Elmore County, Alabama offered, so in the 1920s he headed west for Hollywood. There he got work designing movie sets and as an extra in silent classics like “Scaramouche” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” (The family was often skeptical of the tales Uncle Artemus told, but as far as I was concerned, if they weren’t true, they should have been.) Uncle Artemus ended up in Miami where, to no one’s surprise considering his Hollywood career, he became an interior decorator. We figured he made good money at it, because he had a monkey and monkeys don’t come cheap. He also had a wife, a sweet lady, and a yappy little dog. He brought them with him when he joined the family for Christmas at my Grandmother’s. It was an event when Uncle Artemus and his entourage arrived. His dress was flamboyant, his speech was theatrical, his movements were exaggerated – with the monkey on his shoulder he would have caused no great stir on Biscayne Boulevard, but in Slapout, Alabama, the seat of the Jackson clan, he cut a curious figure. So we were really impressed one Christmas when he announced that he, himself was going to make new, swell drapes for Grandma’s living room. Grandma lived in what was really just a big farmhouse that had grown room by room as children arrived. What was then the living room had served a number of functions over the years and its décor reflected its evolution. So you would have thought that whatever Uncle Artemus designed would have fit right in. You would have been wrong. When Christmas came round again Uncle Artemus arrived with wife, monkey, dog, and piles of cloth turned out to be drapes and valances that hung from ceiling to floor and looked, as my Daddy observed, “like something from a New Orleans brothel.” Alabama Living

Mama asked Daddy what he knew about New Orleans brothels. Daddy changed the subject. A couple of Christmases after that, when we were again gathered at Grandma’s, Uncle Artemus gave Daddy a present. When Daddy opened it he found a tie. Not just any tie. A hand-madepersonally-by-Artemus-tie, creamy white, with an embossed design that looked suspiciously like the draperies that would not have been out of place at a you-knowwhat-you-know-where. Later Daddy’s brother-in-law, my Uncle Canoy, got Daddy off to the side and told him that it was the ugliest tie he had ever seen. Daddy agreed. So next Christmas D a d d y wrapped it up and gave it to Canoy. T h e next year Canoy gave it back to Daddy. So began the swapping of the Christmas tie. A few years ago Canoy died. So Daddy gave it to Canoy's son, my cousin Benny, who gave it back the next year, and then Daddy gave it to me. The tie passed between us until Daddy died. Then it was just Benny and me. We swap it back and forth, every year, and remember Uncle Artemus, and Uncle Canoy, and Daddy, and all those that gathered every Christmas. It is a good tie. Even if it is ugly.

Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at

DECEMBER 2016  11

Holiday beauties Alabama-based, family-owned company continues to grow By Allison Griffin

12  DECEMBER 2016


he acres of concrete at Dixie Green’s greenhouses in Centre are carpeted in vibrant hues of red and white this time of year, a sure sign that Christmas is coming soon. The nursery has plants growing almost year-round, but this time of year the greenhouses are full of poinsettias, in all sizes and colors. The nursery grows 20 to 30 different varieties and colors, and at the peak of the season there’ll be 250,000 plants grown and shipped out to eager customers. Among those customers is Walt Disney World, which buys between 60,000 and 80,000 poinsettias from Dixie Green each year. The nursery, which is wholesale only, also sells to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, and supplies poinsettias to the presidents’ homes at Jacksonville State and Auburn University as well as independent garden centers. But Hank Richardson, who with his brothers Harlan and Jerry started this business in the 1970s, is equally as proud of the sales they make to schools, churches and service organizations, which sell plants as fundraisers. The plants, including poinsettias, fall mums and baskets of blooming spring flowers, sell themselves, he says, and most groups continue to fundraise with Dixie Green year after year. “Most of our business is repeat business,” Richardson says. “It keeps growing and spreading.”

Harlan passed away a few years ago, but Jerry and Hank continue to work full time at Dixie Green, and now each brother has at least one son or daughter who works at the nursery.

The cycle of plant life

The greenhouses are filled with poinsettias now, but those will be completely shipped out by mid-December, and Dixie Green will be starting on the spring plants. A few pretty little ferns and pothos were already getting their start in the greenhouses in mid-November. The nursery grows all kinds of spring flowering plants as well as caladiums and others. By the end of spring and early summer, there will be few plants to fill the nursery’s 12 acres of indoor greenhouse space and five acres of outside growing area. But in early June, cuttings for the fall mums will come in and get started rooting, and in July come the poinsettia cuttings that will be propagated and start growing. Dixie Green will nurture, fertilize and water the young plants carefully over the late summer and early fall, and the cycle begins again.

A quality product

Dixie Green, which is served by Cherokee Electric Cooperative, is an important business in rural Cherokee County, and Starting out employs between 30 and 50 local people, The Richardson brothers weren’t hordepending on the season. ticulturists by trade. The brothers had The business is prepared for a finicky grown up on a farm in Centre, and while Mother Nature. The blizzard of 1993 they didn’t know much about houseplants, knocked out power for several days to the they did know about hard work, and they nursery, which at that time had two locawanted to make a living for themselves in tions. They lost four acres of plants to the Cherokee County. early spring storm, so they now have a The majority of the poinsettias grown at Hank’s oldest brother, Harlan, was a Dixie Green are 4-, 6-, 8- and 10-inch backup generator just in case. pipefitter, but one of his friends had some sizes, in an array of colors. But for now, the brothers are gearing up greenhouses and talked the Richardsons for their busiest shipping season. They’ve into building one of their own. The brothers had built hog shipped as far as Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma, houses on their farm, so they used what knowledge they had and the business continues to grow. Dixie Green owns four to build their first 28-foot by 96-foot greenhouse. tractor-trailers, and rents a fifth truck to run each spring. They took cuttings of plants from their grandmother’s It’s a far cry from the one 2,700-square-foot greenhouse and home, put a camper shell on a pickup truck for deliveries and pickup truck with a camper shell. started, literally, from the ground up. Friends and people in the “Back when we started, we never dreamed about being this community helped them, Hank says, as well as seed companies big,” Hank says. “But we were able to grow really nice plants, and suppliers. The brothers just learned as they went along. and pretty plants sell. We try to grow as good a quality as you The brothers had been working together all their lives, so can get anywhere. That always works.” it was a very natural fit to go into business together. A friend once told them that he’d never seen brothers who could work Contact Dixie Green online at, or call 256together, but it was all the brothers knew. 927-5185.

POINSETTIA POINTERS Poinsettias thrive in bright, but not direct, sunlight, according to information from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). Put the plant next to a sunny window, but direct sunlight can cause discoloration. On the other hand, low light can cause the plant to lose some of its leaves. Consider displaying your plant in a shady location like the dining

room table, but maintaining it near a window. Poinsettias will not tolerate moisture extremes. Don’t keep the potting mix too wet or too dry. If allowed to dry out too much, the plant will wilt and drop its leaves. Conversely, don’t allow the plant to remain in standing water. This could result in root rot, which will cause the plant to decline.

Keep the plant away from heat vents and outside doors or windows. Try to maintain the temperature at no higher than 70 degrees F. If possible, keep the plant with other plants or set the container in a gravel-filled pan halffilled with water. Doing this will keep the humidity a little higher around the plant in an otherwise dry, winter home.


Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016 13

By M.J. Ellington

Famous Alabamians’ holiday greetings convey complex, interwoven messages Montgomery native Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, became international symbols of the Jazz Age, but she kept in contact with her Montgomery friend, Lila Bess Morgan, who received this Christmas card around 1945.

By M.J. Ellington

Angels, Elvis and politicians all find a place in the holiday season greetings of famous Alabamians


he good wishes of governors, other politicians and famous people are in the collections preserved for the future generations at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Funny, serious or poignant in message, they tell something about the world and the people who received them at the time they were sent. The greetings by themselves may not hold much historic value to archival experts. But as part of a broader collection, they are a link to milestones in history, says Mary Jo Elvis and the Colonel and “friends” grace Scott, head of the the cover of this 1974 Archives’ special Christmas season collections. postcard sent to Gov. Scott’s favorite George C. Wallace.

14 DECEMBER 2016

Christmas card is a shiny oversized full-color postcard sent in 1974 from Elvis Presley to Gov. George C. Wallace. “It makes me smile,” Scott says. The card shows Elvis performing in a spangled white costume singing in front of a giant white Christmas tree with pastel ornaments. A Santa Claus, who may be his manager “Colonel Tom” Parker in costume, and two Saint Bernards are nearby. The wording on the card reads, “Seasons Greetings, Elvis and the Colonel and friends.” Another longtime favorite card at Archives, and Scott’s second favorite, is the whimsical 1951 official Christmas card of Gov. James E. “Big Jim” Folsom and his wife Jamelle. The cover photograph shows the Folsom home in Cullman with the sentiment “Home: Cullman, Ala.” Inside is an artist’s drawing of a green convertible with a reindeer hood ornament and a banner depicting a red sleigh instead of car doors. Photographs of the Folsoms in the front seat and four little children, Rachel, Melissa, “Little Jim” and “Little Jack” in the back seat, complete the illustration. Folsom’s first term as governor would end the next month and, under Alabama law at the time, governors could not serve two consecutive

terms. The family was headed back to Cullman for Folsom to resume his insurance business and plan for his return to the governor’s office in 1955. One toddler in the car, James E. Folsom Jr., would grow up to win multiple elections as public service commissioner and lieutenant governor. “Little Jim” also became the state’s chief executive for part of a term when then-Gov. Guy Hunt was removed from office in 1993.

1972 card had more serious tone

The dramatic cover of the 1972 Christmas card that Gov. George C. Wallace and his wife, Cornelia, sent had a very different tone in quite different circumstances. The card depicted the winning entry of a Christmas card contest that highlighted works of Alabama artists. Cornelia Wallace was the niece of “Big Jim” Folsom. The winning painting, by Huntsville artist Robert Forstner, showed six angels in a night sky hovering with wings outstretched over the governor’s mansion. Inside the card read “May the Angels of the Lord watch over you and yours now and throughout the coming years.” Wallace had been paralyzed from the waist down by a sniper shooting the

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  15

ous May in Laurel, Maryland, and would never walk again. The following year, an Alabamian who had received the 1972 card sent a handwritten card back to the first family. It read, “We too say ‘May the angels of the Lord watch over you and yours now and throughout the coming years.’ You are often in our prayers.” A more typical 1966 Christmas card has a traditional cover with a black and white photo of a husband, wife and four young children on the inside cover. The message, however, was a celebration of the season and a hope for the future from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., his wife Coretta and children Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter and Bernice. “New systems of justice and equality are being born. Angels watch over the Alabama Let us nourish this new life governor’s mansion and its inhabitants with love and brotherhood,” on the cover of the 1972 governor’s Christmas card. Gov. George C. Wallace the printed message reads. “… had been paralyzed in a shooting that year If we follow the spirit of this and would never walk again. season, we shall awaken from a midnight of despair to a glorious morning of peace and goodwill.” The civil rights leader who urged nonviolence in the face of violence was killed by a sniper in April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Not all holiday messages in the collections involve famous people. Cards from movie stars, national politicians and average citizens offer hope and goodwill. Cards and letters from soldiers from the Civil War to today describe how the soldiers spent or planned to spend Christmas Day and how they longed to be with family. As a group, the messages convey hope that the coming year will bring peace and a better life across Alabama, just as modern holiday greetings do. M.J. Ellington is a Montgomery freelance journalist whose longtime health and state government reporting and editing career included the Montgomery Advertiser, The Decatur Daily, Florence Times-Daily and The Anniston Star. Contact her at The design of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. family Christmas card may be typical for the era, but the message of hope guided the life of the civil rights leader, who was killed by a sniper in 1968.

16 DECEMBER 2016

Christmas card sent by Gov. Don Siegelman and his family in 1999, his first year as governor.


The whimsical 1951 “Home to Cullman” Christmas card of then Gov. James E. “Big Jim” Folsom is a longtime Archives favorite.


Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016 17

A Christmas memory Readers, staffers recall memorable gifts


s our number of Christmases grows, the memories of holidays past become a little more fuzzy, each year blending into the backgrounds of others. Photos are helpful and pleasant reminders, but save perhaps the years with a special event – a new baby, a change of venue, an unexpected influx of relatives crowding around the table – many Christmas mornings are much like the ones before. But for most adults, there is at least one Christmas that stands out. Always, the most memorable gifts are the treasured memories we create. Some of our readers, as well as staffers at Alabama Living, are sharing their personal stories to help capture the spirit of the holiday. Read on and reflect on your own favorite Christmas memory. And enjoy making some new ones this year.

Laura Stewart

Communications coordinator, Alabama Rural Electric Association: When we bought our first home, our current office was painted royal blue. It boasted a very rustic light switch cover featuring a moose standing in a forest. I mentioned to my family several times that as soon as we moved in, it would have to go! My father-inlaw, Buddy, volunteered to replace the light switch covers in several rooms while we unpacked boxes. Little did I know, he took the moose light switch cover with him! Last Christmas, he presented me with a gift bag, and told me that this was my main gift, that he had picked it out himself, to be prepared, because it would make me emotional. I was nervous after he had built up such anticipation for this gift — to find the much dreaded moose light switch cover in the bag. It has become a running joke now and I am looking forward to returning the favor this Christmas!

Linda Partin

Allison Griffin

Managing editor of Alabama Living: My mom had a fun little game that is in my earliest childhood memories: The first person awake in the house on Christmas morning could sneak around to anyone still sleeping and shout “Christmas gift!” The shouter was the “winner,” though there was no official prize. Mom, who was an early riser, always won. This Christmas will be our first without my mom, and thinking about not having her here prompted this memory. I have no doubt she’ll be looking down on us that morning, long before sunrise. I’m betting I’ll sense a little whisper, not a shout this time, that awakens me with a “Christmas gift.” 18 DECEMBER 2016

Office assistant, Alabama Rural Electric Association: In my small hometown, Morehead, Ky., my uncle owned a department store. Of course, he had a department store Santa. Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa came to our house and brought our Christmas gifts. One year, apparently my uncle had hired his son to play Santa. When he came to our house, he was afraid we might recognize him, so he spread his fluffy white beard all over his face. We have a picture of me giggling, standing beside a very bearded Santa. Considering the fact that I still believed in Santa after that, apparently the “full” beard fooled me.

Elizabeth Kane:

On the weekend before Christmas in 1945, my mother, daddy and I visited a hunting buddy of my dad’s in Tuscaloosa County. The friend’s beagle had recently had

puppies, and they were adorable to a 5-yearold girl who had asked Santa for a puppy for Christmas. Not especially counting on Santa, since other years had been disappointing, I started the age-old practice of begging. After my daddy and his friend talked, I went home with a puppy I named Spooky. My daddy’s youngest brother was in the Army, home on leave for the birth of his first baby. Our house was three blocks from West End Baptist Hospital, so he was staying with us. His baby was born on Dec. 23. The same day Santa delivered my present to my daddy at work. He brought home a cute, tiny Pekingese I named Peewee. That night my uncle slept on the couch with Spooky, and I slept in a chair holding Peewee, the best Christmas gifts ever.

Rondi Mosteller:

(My most memorable gift) is a pair of diamond earrings from my dad, after he got mad at me for letting my friend pierce my ears! I was a senior in high school. He was mad, but not for long. And yes, I still have the earrings. A girl’s first diamond should come from her daddy!

Janice Woulfe Charlesworth:

On Christmas Eve back in the 1960s, my sister, who is four years older than me, opened a gift from an aunt. It was a beautiful jewelry box. She immediately turned to me and said I could have her “old one.” Then I opened a package from the same aunt and I, too, received a jewelry box.

Vicki Howell:

We were living in Mojave, Calif., when I was a child. (One year) my dad gave me a Tiny Tears doll, and a stuffed doll with a plastic face. I still have both of them and I’m 60 years old.

Barbara Findley Harrington:

My Grandmother Chesser was the mother of nine children, which meant lots of children, their spouses and grands to give gifts to, which were usually handmade. My favorite gift, when we were living near Milton, Fla., was a sweet sock monkey named Jo Jo that I still have 55 years later.

Diana George:

I received a bride doll from “Santa” when I was in the third grade and lived in Somerville, Ala. I assume Santa was my teacher, Mrs. Prince. She probably realized that was the only Christmas present I would receive. Unfortunately, I no longer have the doll. The reason I treasure the memory is the dear teacher that I was sure was my secret Santa. Most loving teacher ever.

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  19

| Worth the drive |

Dothan native I brings New York skills to downhome cooking

n a land of fast-food restaurants, Dothan’s Kelsey Barnard Clark is creating food that is sophisticated yet clean, healthy and homemade, with a menu of what she calls “simple, well-done food.” She started with Kelsey Barnard Catering, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and dishes that were elevated from the usual reception fare. Then came the restaurant opportunities: first was KBC Butcher Block, a lunch and brunch place that is also a market for locally-sourced products and her own baked goods; then came KBC on Foster, a weekday lunch-only eatery in historic downtown Dothan that also features an event space. With training at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and at such high-end New York restaurants as Cafe Boulud and Dovetail, Clark has a culinary pedigree that would land her in any high-end, fine-dining restaurant. But she chose to come back to Alabama after graduating from CIA and working in New York. She didn’t know exactly what kind of business she wanted to run, but she knew she didn’t want to work for someone else.

By Allison Griffin

A culinary foundation

Kelsey Barnard Clark at her restaurant/market, KBC Butcher Block, on Westgate Parkway.

20 DECEMBER 2016


Always a “go-getter,” she started cooking as a child and was doing catering jobs as a teenager. At 15, she asked high-end Dothan caterer Larry Williams if she could work for him. He asked if she had an apron, and when she said yes, he put her to work that day. She’s been working ever since. After high school, she went to Auburn University for two years in the hotel and restaurant management program. Culinary school was always in her plan, but the two years at Auburn allowed her to mature and figure out that the CIA was where she wanted to go. The CIA training was intense, but she’d go back now in a minute if she could. “I soaked every bit of it up.” Part of the program was an externship at an approved high-end restaurant, and she chose Cafe Boulud, an upscale French and Michelin-starred restaurant on the Upper East Side. The pressure was relentless. “It’s very rigid,” she says of her training there, with “lots of yelling.” Ninety-hour weeks are the norm, with no pay. But the militaristic atmosphere and exceedingly high standards of such kitchens were good training, which she recommends to anyone looking to get into the restaurant business. “You have to be the best. There’s no such thing as mediocre food in these places. You have to be perfect, because if you’re

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  21

not you’re going to fail,” she says. She doesn’t have to maintain that intense pressure in her kitchens in Dothan, nor does she work all those hours. But the standards are always in her mind, and she believes such an experience builds character and work ethic. And also a quality and consistency that customers notice.

The restaurant menus have their mainstays because the customers come to expect them, but she likes to change things up. She says many restaurant owners want to just maintain what they have, but her staff jokes that just when they have the menu down pat, she shakes it up. “I guess that’s what I’m known for – you never know what you’re going to get in here.”

Fresh, quality foods

Looking ahead

She trained in fine dining, but knew that what works in New York wouldn’t really translate to a small Southern city like Dothan. Between football games and the beach, weekends down South can leave restaurants deserted, and the fine dining industry is primarily built on weekend traffic. So she dialed back the concept for her businesses, but not the quality. She uses locally sourced produce and proteins when possible; everything is homemade. “I eat healthy for the most part, so I told myself, what would I eat? There’s a huge amount of people who strive for healthy, fresh food. Things you know were not ripped open from a bag and reheated the day before.” The food is simplified, but not dumbed down. “It’s really going back to the basics,” she says. “Anything on our plate has five things, usually, and it’s things like cheese, salt, olive oil. It’s just so simple. You won’t see much in our kitchens. You won’t see big bottles of seasonings or marinades.” Both locations serve a variety of special- KBC Butcher Block Westgate Parkway ty sandwiches and wraps, salads, bowls and 560 Dothan, AL 36303 desserts. Weekly specials allow her to incor- 334-446-0885 10 a.m.-3 p.m. porate more local and seasonal products. Tuesday-Sunday

Doing catering allows her to really get creative and play around with menus, because every bride and every event is different. It’s also where she gets to be the most hands-on in terms of cooking. And that’s where she envisions her next growth. Last year, she set a goal to start catering outside of Dothan, specifically along the Gulf coast, especially the 30A area. She hopes to double the number of weddings and events she caters and do more traveling for catering jobs. She also started a bakery last December; before that, she was doing all the baking herself, and couldn’t keep up with demand. “(With the) bakery, my concept was the same as the food, I wanted it to be simple,” she says. “Yeah, we have macaroons that are definitely not simple and one of the hardest things to make. But then we’ve got chocolate chip cookies … made with the best ingredients. (We hope) someone who eats our cookie says, ‘that’s the best cookie I ever had.’ “That’s because it tastes like something that your grandmother would make. That’s sort of our whole concept – if your grandmother doesn’t know what it is, we’re not going to put it in there.”

KBC on Foster 151 N. Foster St. Dothan, AL 36303 334-792-5500 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday


ABOVE: Mike Nosser and his daughter, Avigail, enjoy lunch at the Foster Street restaurant. BELOW: “The Butcher’s Bite” sandwich is medium rare sliced beef tenderloin, horseradish Dijon aioli, alfalfa sprouts and a Slocomb tomato, served with homemade sweet potato fries.

22 DECEMBER 2016

The exterior of KBC on Foster, in Dothan’s historic downtown. PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE BY ALLISON GRIFFIN

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  23

An electrifying story New novel tells an exciting version of how we came to receive electricity in our homes By Paul Wesslund


hat if Thomas Edison was a bad guy? An evil genius? A man so desperate to protect his inventions that he would bribe the police and even electrocute dogs to show his electric systems were better than his competitors? You’d have what writers like me have always been searching for—a dramatic, can’t-put-it-down story about electricity. Graham Moore’s new novel The Last Days of Night tells the based-on-fact story of the ultra-high stakes battle between Edison and George Westinghouse over nothing less than what kind of electricity would power the U.S. As with any good novel, it’s also about more than just the basic plot—it’s about invention and the creative process. It’s about the business, scheming, teamwork and luck that can make the difference between a genius who lives his life undiscovered and unknown, and one who enjoys wealth and fame.

Oscar-winning author

The storytelling moves briskly through courtroom drama, corporate intrigue, romance, greed and political corruption. It’s a history lesson, with a cast of famous characters, including the Wall Street baron J.P. Morgan, Alexander Graham Bell and eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla. The book includes an author’s note at the end to help separate fact from fiction. If it was a movie (and a movie is in the planning stages) it would be rated PG—a graphic description of the use of the electric chair plays a role, though the account was taken from actual newspaper reports of the day. Moore is most popularly known as the Oscar-win-

24  DECEMBER 2016

ning screenwriter for the 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” about WWII codebreakers. The Last Days of Night tells its story through the character of Paul Cravath, the smart but inexperienced attorney Westinghouse hired to fight the scores of lawsuits Edison had filed against him. In the late 1800s, Edison was turning his invention of the light bulb into a network for electrifying the country, starting in New York City. The Westinghouse company had invented what it felt was a better light bulb, but the lawsuits claimed it was just a copy of Edison’s. The much bigger issue came with how the electricity would be delivered to those light bulbs. Edison’s system used direct current (DC), which is what comes out of any battery you have in your home. Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla had developed alternating current (AC), so named because it actually changes direction about 60 times a second, as a more efficient way to deliver electricity over long distances. Alternating current won—AC is the kind of electricity found in your home today.

Fear of electricity

A feature of the fight was a media relations war over whether AC or DC was more dangerous. In those early days of

electricity, it created both fear and amazement since few people understood the phenomenon. In the 1930s, 40 years after the events in this book, electricity started coming to rural parts of our country. And some of those same fears came with it. One story told of a man who wanted to make sure a bulb stayed screwed into the overhead socket so the electricity wouldn’t flow out and electrocute everyone in the room. In the book, Moore covers the complexities of generating and delivering electricity—but he does so with a sense of excitement. The great gift to Moore was that his unlikely and compelling character, attorney Paul Cravath, was a real person. And he had a real romance with a real celebrity, who happened to have her own creative genius, backed by a cleverness for self-promotion and a willingness to cut ethical corners. The story ends on an intelligently positive note, making the point that invention and creation require a cast of talents. The book concludes with a tribute to all of the characters: “Only together could they have birthed the system that was now the bone and sinew of these United States. No one man could have done it. In order to produce such a wonder … the world required … Visionaries like Tesla. Craftsmen like Westinghouse. Salesmen like Edison.” Paul Wesslund writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Arlington, the Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, notfor-profit electric cooperatives.


Mal Moore’s memoirs now available in paperback Crimson Heart: Let Me Tell You My Story, the autobiography of beloved University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore, has been re-released in paperback and is now available online and in stores statewide.

“Daddy never forgot where he came from,” says Cook. “He didn’t have electricity until he was about nine years old. I love the first few chapters where he details his rural southern upbringing.”

The book, published by the Mal and Charlotte Moore Crimson Heart Foundation, goes behind the scenes to detail Moore’s personal reflections of his time at Alabama, Notre Dame and the NFL. In the book’s forward, Nick Saban writes about what Mal’s friendship and relationship meant to him. The closing chapter, written by one of Moore’s trusted aides, Ronny Robertson, tells of the final weeks of Moore’s life. For fans of the Crimson Tide, the book is a “must-read” account of the legendary career of a man whose nearly 50 years at the Capstone were spent as player, coach and athletic director.

2016 also marks the 10-year anniversary of Coach Nick Saban at Alabama, she notes, “and of course my father was the one who hired” him. “Someone could truly make a movie just out of these chapters alone,” says Cook. “The average fan will eat up these behind-the-scenes details!”

“The book is written in the first person, so as you read it, it is as if you are sitting with my father and he is talking to you and telling great stories,” says his daughter, Heather Moore Cook. “My father really did open his heart and let his feelings be known on many issues. He lays it all out, the good, the bad and the ugly. He will make you laugh, stop

Alabama Living

Coach Moore celebrates with Coach Saban after an SEC Championship game.

and think, and some of the stories may even make you sad or tear up.” All proceeds from sales of the book are going to charities in the local community that Moore supported, including Caring Days, an Alzheimer’s adult daycare facility in Tuscaloosa; the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama; the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame; and the University of Alabama. “I am proud to say we have given almost $50,000 away to date,” says Cook. “Over $30,000 has gone to scholarships at the University,” including an endowed scholarship for a student from Crenshaw County, where Moore grew up.

Cook says her father would have pursued a head coaching job, but spent 20 years caring for his wife, Charlotte, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. “If that doesn’t tell you what kind of man my father was, nothing will. Daddy does a very nice job of explaining a lot of the emotions he went through while caring for my mother and how the disease altered his life. This book would be of great comfort to anyone dealing with this horrible disease.” Crimson Heart can be ordered from Amazon, Books-A-Million and local gift shops. Visit for more information or to place an order.

DECEMBER 2016  25

Treasures of the

Black Belt Gallery introduces artists to national audience


lack Belt artist Stephen James likes traveling, both to the country and sometimes through time to a simpler, less frantic past. “Some of my fondest memories are of staying with my grandfather, who was a tenant farmer,” said James, who lives in rural Monroe County. “Everyone picked cotton by hand, and there were chicken and cattle.” But it’s not just James who sees those memories of Alabama farm life from long ago. Thousands witness them at the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center in the paintings that James has created. The center opened in Camden as a way to attract tourists to Alabama’s Black Belt. The Black Belt is one of the poorest areas of the state, and is called the “Black Belt,” because of its black soil where most of the state’s cotton was once grown. Since opening in 2005, the center has grown from representing 75 artists to more than 450.

And those artists, who include painters, sculptors, potters, basket-weavers, quilters, woodworkers and others, have succeeded in attracting tourists to the area. So far Black Belt Treasures has attracted visitors from all 50 states and more than 26 countries. It has also helped those tourists discover artists such as James, the 62-year-old painter who has discovered his visions of the past now have a bright future. Of course, James also paints the present, but whether past or present most of his subjects are found in rural areas of the state that you can only get to by winding dirt roads. “I like country scenes, family scenes, scenes that emphasize the fun you can have in the country and that emphasize family values,” he said. One of his favorite things to draw is country churches. James has been selling his paintings for almost 40 years, but because of Black Belt Treasures and the Monroe County Her-

itage Museum, he said he has sold more paintings in the past five years than in the other 35 combined. He said he has been drawn to art since he was 3 or 4 and his father showed him how to draw a cowboy. He was about 10 when his parents began to realize he had talent. They had gotten him a paint-by-the-numbers set. “After I painted the dog on the front by the numbers, I turned it around, and on the back, I did a country scene,” he said. In school, he was always sketching and drawing and doodling, but never considered art as a career. Instead, he graduated from nursing school in 1977 and has worked as a nurse ever since. But he never completely spurned his love of art. When he was around 20, he started doing oil paintings. He gave the first two paintings he did to his parents, who he said were incredibly supportive.

Visitors to Black Belt Treasures in Camden will find work made by more than 450 artists, including painter Stephen James (center). The center opened in 2005 as a way to attract tourists to Alabama’s Black Belt, and has attracted visitors from all 50 states and more than 26 countries.

26 DECEMBER 2016

Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  27

And through the years, he developed his own style. “I guess you could say I am self-taught,” he said. “I took one class in college, but the teacher seemed a lot more interested in drama than art.” “As far as technique, I pretty much developed mine by just doing it and experimenting. And maybe that has helped me. If I had a lot of instruction, I’d be doing paintings more like other people do. Now, I have my own style.” Occasionally he said he would sell a painting, usually to people who lived in the country, but mainly he continued because he loved painting country scenes. Then a strange thing happened. After a lifetime of drawing and painting, his career started to blossom when he was in his late 50s. Now in his 60s, he still works as a nurse part time, but spends about 30 hours a week painting. Sometimes he regrets that painting takes time away from his other “hobbies,” which include fishing, gardening and “maintaining a good bit of land.” But he doesn’t regret it often. He says he loves what he does. He credits his success to his family, including his sharecropping grandfather, his dad, who he says is still the best man he’s ever known, and his wife Sheila James, who has encouraged him ever since they got married 30 years ago. In the future he plans to do a collection of country churches.

“I want to paint them just because it seems country churches are just some of the prettiest scenes you can find in the country,” he said. “I think those have been some of my favorite things to paint.” He likes painting country churches even though some of them don’t sell. “Usually when I do one that I really like, my wife takes it so I don’t get to sell it,” he said laughing.

Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center

Black Belt Treasures Executive Director Sulynn Creswell.

209 Claiborne St. Camden, AL 36726 334-682-9878 Open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday–Friday 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday

The shop includes Alabama-made food items, above, and pottery by Sam Williams of Monroe County. video:

Stephen James Website: www.stephenjamesart Email:

State’s executive cook to compete on ‘Top Chef’


labama’s Jim Smith, executive chef of the State of Alabama, is among the contestants for the newest season of “Top Chef ” on Bravo Media. The Emmy and James Beard Award-winning show kicks off Thursday, Dec. 1, at 9 p.m. CST, in Charleston, SC. Eight acclaimed chefs from across the country will unpack their knives alongside eight chefs from seasons past, who have never won the prestigious title and are back for redemption. Sitting at the judges table for season 14 are host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons who are joined by new judge and Top Chef Masters alum Graham Elliot. Smith, who is also chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, has placed an emphasis on using the best local ingredients and has made strides to encourage the support of local farmers and Alabama fishers. He uses his position as ambassador of food to promote farmers’ markets and events that support Ala28 DECEMBER 2016

bama food products. Smith is not only responsible for the daily preparation of food for Gov. Robert Bentley, but he is also responsible for planning and preparing menus for events sponsored by the state. In 2011, he was crowned the King of American Seafood by winning The Great American Seafood-Cook-Off and became the national spokesperson for Alabama Seafood, American Sustainable Seafood, Gulf Seafood and the NOAA. As the winner, he traveled the country educating Americans about the benefits of sustainable seafood. The other new competing chefs are from Brooklyn, NY; Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Louisville, KY; Philadelphia, PA; Marco Island, Fla.; and Portland, OR. Winnings to the top cook include $125,000 furnished by S. Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, a feature in FOOD & WINE magazine, a showcase at the annual FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen and the title of “Top Chef.”

December | Around Alabama


Livingston, Christmas on the Square at the Bored Well in downtown, 5:30 p.m. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while listening to the UWA Scarlet Band. Santa Claus will also be in attendance.


Photo courtesy of the Gulf Coast Chamber.

Boaz, “The Lights of Christmas” Parade. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. on Alabama Highway 205 near the Farmer’s Market. For more information, contact the Boaz Area Chamber of Commerce at (256) 593-8154.


Foley, Annual Christmas in the Park. Come to Heritage Park, 101 East Laurel Ave., to hear Christmas carols, enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree and beautiful lights in downtown Foley. Visit with Santa and ride the Ebert Express. Free cocoa and snacks.


Birmingham, Christmas at the Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens. Tour the house museum, gardens, and old kitchen adorned with period seasonal decorations. Refreshments, entertainment, children’s activities and photos and cookies with Santa. The Hanging of the Green with the Candlelight tour and Reception is Friday at 6 p.m., $20 per person. Free admission Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. arlingtonantebellumhomeandgardens. com

Lighted boats will be on parade in Gulf Shores on Dec. 10


Montgomery, 46th Annual Montgomery Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show. Garrett Coliseum, 1555 Federal Drive. Admission: $2 for adults, 18 and under free with student ID and paid adult admission. Dealers will have beads, crystals, geodes, cabochons, gemstones, finished jewelry, tools, supplies and mineral & fossil specimens. Club members will display their individual collections and give demonstrations on gem and rock cutting, faceting and cabochon

making. For daily hours, visit


Hanceville, 27th annual Cullman County/Hanceville Civitian Christmas parade. Parade begins at 2 p.m. featuring themed and non-themed floats, high school marching bands, antique cars and tractors and more. 256-590-2759


Centre, Women’s Club of Weiss Lake Annual Tour of Homes, 1-4:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at any tour home, the Chamber of Commerce or from club members. Refreshments served at the Cherokee County Museum on Main Street. Visit The Women’s Club of Weiss Lake on Facebook for more information.

Tour decorated homes throughout Centre at the Women’s Club of Weiss Lake Annual Tour of Homes Dec. 3-4.

Photo courtesy of the Women’s Club of Weiss Lake


Montgomery, Cloverdale-Idlewild Art Trail, Five artist studios in the Cloverdale-Idlewild neighborhood will be open Dec. 3, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., and Dec. 4, 12-2 p.m., for self-guided tours and holiday sales. The studios, featuring the work of 15 artists from potters to painters, photographers and jewelry makers, are within walking distance of one another. For more information, visit the Cloverdale-Idlewild Art Trail Facebook page.


Athens, Sippin’ Cider Festival in Downtown Athens. Sample and vote on your favorite cider while shopping and enjoying store specials. Children’s activities, a train ride, marshmallow roasting and visits from Santa.


Gulf Shores, 31st Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Pa-

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

Alabama Living

rade. The parade of Christmas-themed boats begins at 5:30 p.m. at Lulu’s and finishes at Cobalt in Orange Beach. To enter a boat, contact the Gulf Coast Chamber at (251) 9685349.


Tuscumbia, Beautiful live holiday decorations at the historic birthplace and home of Helen Keller. Sponsored by the Council of Local Garden Clubs. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 300 North Commons Street West.


Dothan, Victorian Christmas at Landmark Park, 1-4 p.m. Warm up to holiday hospitality at Landmark Park’s annual open house. Sample turn-of-the-century desserts, hot chocolate and mulled cider. Also features children’s craft area, wagon ride and Christmas message at the Presbyterian church. (334) 794-3452,


Greensboro, 2016 Porches and Parlors Tour of Homes. Tour two museum homes and four private homes decorated for the holidays. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Magnolia Grove, 1002 Hobson Street. 1-5 p.m. (334) 624-8741


Fulton, Christmas at the Gazebo. Food and fellowship as we celebrate the Christmas season. Music provided by local choirs and artists. 6-8 p.m. 334636-9237


Gainesville, Christmas Almost on the River. Food vendors, Christmas parade and children’s games. Downtown Gainesville, 205-652-7551

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DECEMBER 2016 29


| Outdoors |

A frosty Christmas Eve duck hunt yields a ‘present’


ith billions of stars shin870, already ancient even back then, ing overhead on this cold to extra full. For high, fast ducks, I Christmas Eve, one could needed maximum range and knockimagine the Star of Bethlehem illudown power. On this frosty Christmas Eve, temminating the desert. However, this peratures hovered just above freeztrip did not involve a desert journey, ing. A ribbon of crimson barely lit although we did cross some sand. the eastern sky beyond the gnarled The outboard motor droning cypress trees as we shivered in the against the river current pushed the aluminum boat. In the gloom, un14-foot aluminum flatboat through seen whistling black specters already the swampy landscape. With only rocketed down the oxbow channel. the stars lighting the way as it did As shooting hours arrived, several two millennia ago, the twisted loose clusters of weaving objects burst shapes of giant cypress trees lining through the low fog. We opened fire, the shoreline took on an eerie apunsuccessfully. For the next 15 minpearance. Ethereal wisps of fog climbed Daniel Felsher shows off a wood duck drake he shot while hunting utes, we couldn’t load our shotguns fast enough as birds suddenly matefrom the dark, swirling currents like in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta near Mobile, Ala. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER rialized, then vanished. ghostly soldiers marching to one fiWhen the action died down, nal battle. Above the fog, a shooting ers can position themselves in the right spot we warmed our hands by cupping them star plunged to its death in a brief, but brilunder a good flight path, they might enjoy around the glowing shotgun barrels. A fleet liant blaze of glory across an ebony sky. Bealmost continuous action as waves of ducks of spent shell hulls bobbed in the frigid wayond the blackness that marked the water’s rush overhead — but only for a short time! ter around us. Others clattered and rolled edge, unseen creatures began to stir. Having spent every possible hour exploraround the bottom of the metal boat. The A few miles upstream, we turned off the ing this swamp as we grew up, my friend morning wave seemed over. We had enmain river channel into an oxbow lake. A Eric Holbrook and I knew where to find joyed an exciting, although brief, hunt. sandbar nearly capped the mouth of this wood ducks. Every morning, woodies and Still, we had nothing to show for it. former river channel and would eventuan occasional green-winged teal or mallard “Felsh, we’ve been hunting and fishing ally seal it completely. Abandoned by the flew across the bend of this oxbow. Woodlots of times, but we never been skunked,” mighty river eons ago, only a tiny, barely ies roosted in the cypress swamp across the Eric remarked. “So far, we’ve shot more than flowing ditch remained of the once powerriver, but ate acorns dropped by oaks growa box of shells and didn’t touch a feather.” ful channel. ing on a low ridge running through the “Day’s not over yet,” I replied. “Maybe The motor kicked up sand in the shrinkswamp behind us. Wood ducks frequently we’ll get a Christmas present.” ing ditch as we crossed over the bar into follow river channels for navigation and As the morning brightened, more swamp the oxbow. Beyond the sandbar, the anflew up this oxbow on their way to breakdenizens awakened with chirps, screeches cient oxbow took on more of its former fast at the oak ridge each morning. and chatters. Not far away, the haunting riverine shape. Rounding a couple bends, The woodies always flew fast at treetop tones of a pileated woodpecker reverberatwe stopped the boat at the outside edge of level. Sometimes, they zipped through ed through the swamp as I poured myself a another bend. We broke off some brush and trees, dodging trunks as if radar guided. cup of warming coffee. I barely had time to draped it over the green boat. Finally, we In limited open pockets between the trees, enjoy the strong, rich flavor before a lone covered the motor with an old camouflaged woodies only offered quick long-range drake wood duck materialized just below poncho and waited. passing shots. In seconds, we needed to see, the treetops as it rocketed straight up the Wood ducks generally follow the same identify and fire, all under low-light condiancient channel. flight patterns each morning and evening. tions. I pulled the trigger on Ol’ Reliable. The They move at first light and after sunset beWe seldom used decoys or calls, although bird splashed into the water. A single pellet tween roosting and feeding areas. This preI sometimes whistled at flying birds. Occaof the 12-gauge magnum load had found its dictability exposes their weakness. If huntsionally, a duck flew low down the channel mark. between the trees, but they never landed or “That’s a beautiful bird,” Eric said. “Look John N. Felsher is a even slowed their momentum. They knew at all the colors. Incredible! We still haven’t freelance writer and where they wanted to go and nothing, exbeen skunked yet!” photographer who writes cept a well-placed shot, could deter them “Yep! This one is almost undamaged,” I from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through from their preferred destination. said. “I’ve always wanted to mount a drake his website at www. Expecting long shots, I switched the old wood duck. This one’s going on the wall… a adjustable choke on my dad’s Remington little Christmas present to myself.” 30 DECEMBER 2016

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time.

a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

DEC. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 JAN. 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

09:01 09:46 10:31 11:16 -12:16 02:31 08:01 09:01 10:01 10:31 11:16 11:46 07:16 07:46 08:16 09:01 09:46 10:16 11:01 04:46 01:31 07:46 09:01 10:16 11:01 11:46 07:16 07:46 08:16 09:01 09:31 10:01 10:31 04:01 02:01 06:46 08:31 09:31 10:16 11:01 11:31 -07:31 07:46 08:16 08:46

Alabama Living

01:31 02:16 03:01 03:46 04:31 05:31 06:46 04:01 04:46 05:16 05:46 06:16 06:46 12:01 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:16 02:46 03:46 11:46 06:01 03:16 04:16 05:16 05:46 06:31 12:01 12:46 01:16 02:01 02:31 03:01 03:31 11:16 05:01 04:01 04:46 05:16 05:46 06:01 06:31 07:01 12:16 12:46 01:31 02:01

02:01 03:01 04:16 10:01 07:31 12:46 01:16 02:01 02:31 03:01 03:31 04:16 -12:31 01:01 01:46 02:31 03:16 09:16 11:01 -12:31 01:31 02:16 03:16 04:01 -12:16 01:01 01:46 02:31 03:16 09:31 11:16 -12:01 12:46 01:46 02:31 03:16 04:01 04:31 12:16 12:46 01:31 02:01 02:46

07:01 07:46 08:31 06:01 12:01 08:16 09:01 09:31 10:01 10:31 11:01 11:31 04:46 05:16 05:46 06:31 07:01 08:01 04:31 05:46 07:01 08:01 09:01 09:46 10:31 11:16 04:46 05:31 06:16 07:01 07:31 08:31 04:31 05:46 07:16 08:16 09:01 09:46 10:16 10:46 11:16 11:46 05:16 06:01 06:31 07:31 08:16


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DECEMBER 2016 31

| Gardens |

The joy of winter gardens


his is a joyous time of year, but for gardeners it can be a little sad. December, after all, heralds the beginning of winter and a lull in the gardening season. But we can keep the joy of gardening alive in our yards and hearts through those winter months by using a wide array of cool-season plants. One of the most popular and iconic of these plants is the camellia. Native to Asia, the camellia has been such a staple in southern landscapes that it feels like it’s ours — it is Alabama’s state flower after all. And, with thousands of cultivars and hybrids to choose from, the options for using these winter-blooming beauties are abundant. Two species of camellias — C. japonica and C. sasanqua — form the basis for the plants used in our landscapes. Each offers slightly different characteristics that, mixed and matched with one another and other plants, can provide gorgeous blooms from fall through early spring. C. sasanquas, which generally range in height from 2 to 12 feet at maturity, typically begin blooming earlier in the year than their japonica cousins and produce white or pink, usually non-fragrant single or double blooms. Japonica camellias, on the other hand, can grow from 6 to 25 feet in height and usually begin blooming a little later in the

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

32 DECEMBER 2016

season. Japonicas also come in a wider selection of often fragrant bloom options in colors of white, pink, rose, red and mixed red and pink, and in bloom forms ranging from single cup-shaped flowers to more ornate double blooms resembling anemones, peonies and roses. Both species are evergreen, are quite drought tolerant once they are established and, with proper care, can live for years — more than one hundred years in some cases. Providing that care can be easy, especially if you tap into the many expert resources available through state camellia societies and clubs (see a partial list of these at or through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, which offers publications and expert advice on camellia culture. But camellias are not alone in providing magical blooms and interest to a winter landscape. Forsythia, flowering quince, witch hazel, winter jasmine and honeysuckle, Japanese magnolia and even blueberries are great landscape plants for winter and early spring blooms. Mix these with other trees and shrubs, such as maples and hollies, and winter- and spring-blooming bulbs and you’ll never be without something spectacular in the garden. Most of these perennial plants can be planted right now, but newly planted shrubs, trees and bulbs may not offer the full beauty of their blooms until next year. If you can’t wait and want some immediate winter joy in your life, use cool-season annual and herbaceous perennial plants — pansies, calendula, ornamental kale and cabbage, snapdragons, poppies, salvias, hellebores and hardy cyclamen among

them — in garden beds and containers. In addition to adding beauty and joy to the winter landscape, these plants also often help feed birds, bees and other wild things, so you’ll be doing a service to nature while feeding your gardening joy. You can also feed your family this winter with winter vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, beets, onions and leafy greens, most of which can be planted from now into February. These are just a few of the many ways to keep the joy of gardening alive this winter. For more ideas, look online for lists of winter plants suited for your area or check with local nursery and garden centers, botanical gardens, Extension offices or Master Gardener groups for some joyful inspiration.

December Tips  Prepare garden beds by adding organic matter and other soil nutrients.  Test your soil to find out what nutrients need to be added for the coming growing season.  Plant bare-root roses, trees, shrubs, vines and spring-flowering bulbs.  Apply mulch around newly planted trees and shrubs and tender perennials.  Prune hardy deciduous and evergreen trees and summer-blooming shrubs.  Sow seeds for winter or cool-season vegetables and cool-season annuals.  Keep an eye out for off-season deals on lawn and garden equipment and furniture.  Begin selecting vegetable and flower seed for spring and summer planting from online or printed catalogs.  Start an indoor herb garden.

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| Alabama Recipes |

Pictured: Sugar Cookies and Christmas Swirl Cookies

Christmas Cookies: Save Some for Santa

When I was growing up, it didn’t take much faith to believe in Santa. Up until the second I discovered he wasn’t real, I absolutely knew he was. One year, I saw physical proof; there were huge sooty boot prints on our den floor marking a path from the chimney to the Christmas tree and then back again on Christmas morning. The next Christmas Eve, I’d heard him stomping around on the roof, his reindeers’ bells jingling as he belted out his signature chortle. I’d even seen Rudolph’s glowing ruby red nose whiz past my window. I know now (and actually figured out not long after the Rudolph sighting), that it was all the work of my father. He convinced my mom to let him dirty her floors with fireplace

34 DECEMBER 2016


ashes. He climbed up on our roof. He put a red bulb in a small flashlight and scooted around the backyard. My dad’s dedication to keeping the magic of Santa alive for as long as possible was matched only by the amount of fun he had doing it. He went above and beyond his dad duties in these instances, but you don’t have to go nearly as far to keep the wonder in the “most wonderful time of the year.” Start by making some holiday cookies. A plateful of warm, sweet treats shared with family and friends is seasonally appropriate comfort food at its finest. And even if you don’t have kids in your house, go ahead and save a few to put out with a tall glass of milk for the big guy in red. Who knows? Better safe than sorry, right?

Holiday Fruit Cookies ¾ 1 1 1¾ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½

cup sugar stick butter egg cups self-rising flour cup green and red candied cherries cup coconut cup chopped nuts teaspoon cinnamon cup buttermilk cup chopped dates teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour, milk and spices. Stir in fruit and nuts. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 5-6 dozen cookies.

Cook of the Month Julia Barnard, Arab EC

Julia Barnard has been making her Holiday Fruit Cookies for six decades, basically as long as she’s been married. "I started making them for my husband, and we wed 61 years ago,” she says. “They are a real favorite.” She especially loves the flavor of the sweet coconut and even sweeter cherries together. And while she cooks and bakes often, she usually gives away a good bit of whatever she whips up. “I have wonderful children and a grandchild, but most of them don’t live close, so it is just me and my husband, and we can’t eat a whole batch of cookies or a whole cake by ourselves, so I like to share,” she says. Those on the receiving end of Julia’s efforts are definitely some fortunate folks. “I love to bake, and even though I’ve never won anything like being named Cook of the Month before, I think I’m pretty good at it,” she says. We agree, Julia.

Sugar Cookies

Holiday Minute Cookies

Gingerbread Bars

1 1 1¼ 2½ ½ ¼ ½ 1

¼ 8 2 1 1

2¾ ¼ ½ ½ ¾ ¾ ½ ¼ ½ ¼

egg, slightly beaten cup oleo or butter cups sugar cups plain flour teaspoon cream of tartar teaspoon salt teaspoon baking soda teaspoon vanilla

Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Cream oleo and sugar; add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture gradually and mix well. Add pecans if you like. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Drop batter by a teaspoon and bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned in a 300-325 degree oven. Do not over bake. Carolyn Melton Southern Pine EC

Alabama Living

cup butter ounces cream cheese boxes 10X sugar, sifted cup finely crushed Oreo cookies large carton whole candied cherries, cut in half

Melt butter and cream cheese in microwave until soft and blended when stirred. Pour sugar into a medium-large bowl, and stir in melted butter mixture until blended. Prepare 2 large pieces wax paper; on one piece, sprinkle Oreo crumbs. Dip out a teaspoon of cookie mixture and roll in crumbs, and place on the other piece of wax paper. Repeat until all mixture is used. Press each with a fork and top with half a cherry. Store covered at room temperature. Barbara Frasier Sand Mountain EC

cups almond flour cup coconut flour teaspoon salt teaspoon baking soda teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon powdered ginger teaspoon ground cloves teaspoon nutmeg cup honey cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper in a 9 by 13-inch pan. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Separately, mix the wet ingredients and combine well with the dry. Press onto the 9 by 13-inch pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes then cut into bars. When completely cooled, remove from pan with parchment paper. Store leftovers in fridge or freezer. Aly Davis Tombigbee EC

DECEMBER 2016 35

Oreo Cookie Balls

Christmas Wreaths

Cheryl’s Cherry Winks

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature 1 package oreo-style cookies (I find the store brands work best, otherwise cookies will be too sweet) White chocolate bark, melted

cup butter ½ 5 heaping cups miniature marshmallows 1 teaspoon green food coloring 5½ cups corn flakes cereal Handful of red cinnamon candies

1 jar of maraschino cherries 1½ cups coconut, plus extra for rolling 1½ cups confectioners sugar 1 teaspoon almond extract ½ cup butter 1 teaspoon cream or milk

Put cookies into a gallon-size plastic bag and crush until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Mix the cookies and the cream cheese together by hand until thoroughly mixed. Gently shape the mixture into balls the size of large marbles. Do not mash the dough hard, or the cookies will be too hard to eat. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Dip the balls into bark and put on wax paper to harden. Be sure to put wax paper between layers in your containers. Serve at room temperature, but refrigerate if it will be more than 4 hours before serving the cookies. Makes around 50.

Measure corn flakes into a large bowl. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir continuously until completely melted. Stir in food coloring. Pour melted marshmallows into the large bowl with the corn flakes. Stir until well coated. Lay out a piece of parchment paper on your kitchen counter. Dollop spoonfuls of the corn flake mixture onto the parchment paper. Grease your clean hands with butter or cooking spray, or dip them in a little bit of water. Use your fingers to shape each spoonful into an individual wreath. Top each wreath with cinnamon candies.

Mix butter with electric mixer and add the sugar, coconut, almond extract and milk or cream. Set mixture in refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Drain the cherries and place them on paper towels. Take a roughly tablespoon-size portion of the coconut mixture and place a cherry in the center and form into a ball. Roll the ball in loose coconut. Place the ball on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture and cherries. Once finished, place in refrigerator until time to eat. For serving, individual balls may be placed in miniature cups.

Jane Kendrick Coosa Valley EC

Jennifer Robinson-Tijsma Sand Mountain EC

Cheryl Lobb Dixie EC

Cheryl's Cherry Winks

Christmas Wreath

36  DECEMBER 2016

Italian Meatball Cookies (Christmas Spice Cookies) For the cookies: 1 cup Crisco 1½ cups sugar 3 large eggs ¼ cup canola or other vegetable oil 1 cup 2 percent milk ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon baking soda 1½ tablespoons baking powder 3 tablespoons baking cocoa ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 cups all-purpose flour 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans For the buttercream frosting: ¾ cup softened butter 6-8 cups confectioners sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ⁄ to ½ cup milk Red and green food coloring (optional) Candy and chocolate sprinkles (optional) For the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the Crisco and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, then add the oil, milk, black pepper, and remaining ingredients except for the flour, chocolate chips, and nuts and mix well. Add the flour one cup at a time until smooth and then add the chips and nuts. Spoon the batter with

a teaspoon onto the parchment paper, leaving 1/2 inch between cookies. (The Crisco allows the cookies to bake into little mounds resembling meatballs, hence the name Italian Meatballs.) Bake for 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. They will continue to bake after removed from the oven. Let them cool completely. For the frosting: Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very smooth. Add the vanilla and enough milk to make a good spreading consistency. I separate the frosting into two other bowls and add a couple of drops of red and green food coloring to them, making 3 colors of frosting. I then top the cookies with candy and chocolate sprinkles. After the frosting and sprinkles are completely dry, store the cookies in airtight containers and keep in a cool location. Jacqueline Bonn Covington EC

Christmas Swirl Cookies 3 1½ ½ 1 1 2 1

cups flour teaspoons baking powder teaspoon salt cup granulated sugar cup butter (2 sticks) eggs teaspoon vanilla extract Red and green food coloring 1 cup holiday sprinkles

Cherry, Cherry A couple of this month’s reader-submitted recipes call for cherries, both candied and the “maraschino” variety. So what’s the difference? Both begin with fresh cherries, which are brined for preservation purposes, rinsed and then pitted. Maraschino cherries are soaked in a sweetened syrup and food dye (red or green), and additional flavorings are added like almond extract (for red) and peppermint (for green). Candied cherries (also called glace cherries) are more saccharine than maraschino and achieve their almost-overwhelming sweetness by being slowly cooked down in a sugary solution, allowing them to actually absorb it. And instead of being stored in liquid like maraschino cherries, soft, sticky candied cherries are packed dry. Maraschino cherries can be subbed for candied cherries in a dish, but you’ll need to drain them first, and you may need to increase the sugar called for in the recipe to achieve the desired flavor.

Alabama Living

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture, mix well. Separate the dough in half and color one part red and one part green. Put one of the freshly made dough balls between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to 11 by 9 inches and ¼-inch thick. Repeat with the other color dough. Put the rolled dough, including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Take the top layer off both doughs and lightly wet the tops. Sandwich the two colors together. Using a paring knife, trim the edges to make straight edges. Remove the top layer of paper and start rolling up and use the bottom layer of paper to pull it tight. If the dough tears you can just pinch it together. Pour the sprinkles onto a large platter and roll the log onto the sprinkles and press them in. Place the dough into the fridge for 15 minutes or longer. Slice the dough into ¼-inch slices and bake on parchment lined sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 1015 minutes. Let cool. Jennifer Robinson-Tijsma Sand Mountain EC

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Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 Please include a phone number and co-op name with submissions!

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DECEMBER 2016 37

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| Consumer Wise |

Seal tight, ventilate right

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-forprofit electric cooperatives. Write to energytips@ for more information.

By Patrick Keegan and Amy Wheeless


Now that winter is here, I’d like to make my home more comfortable by keeping cold air out. I’m planning to have a contractor inspect and seal air leaks. However, a neighbor mentioned that I could seal up my home too much and cause ventilation problems. Is this true?


You’re certainly on the right track. Sealing air leaks is usually one of the best energy efficiency investments a homeowner can make. A typical home leaks, on average, about half of its air every hour, which is like having your kitchen window open all day, every day. Sealing air leaks can also eliminate drafts that keep your home from being cozy. However, it is possible to seal up some homes so “tight” that they have little ventilation, which can contribute to indoor air quality problems or a build-up of moisture. The challenge is to achieve the best home performance and energy savings while maintaining air quality. The first step is to eliminate or reduce indoor air pollutants, such as smoke or chemicals. Experts then recommend sealing air leaks as much as possible and installing mechanical ventilation, as needed. Simple mechanical ventilation can be controlled and consistent, as opposed to “natural” ventilation from air leaks, which can result in a home being too drafty in more extreme weather and not ventilated enough in milder weather. The best way to inspect your home for air leaks is to hire a contractor or energy auditor who will conduct a blower door test, which uses a powerful fan to measure the air infiltration rate. During the test, the contractor will be able to locate and seal air leaks. After sealing, the contractor can measure the resulting air infiltration rate and talk with you about any ventilation needs. There is no simple way to determine how much mechanical ventilation your home will need—it depends on a combination of factors, including the rate of air flow into your home, what kind of climate you live in, the layout and occupancy of your home and whether there are other indoor air quality con40  DECEMBER 2016

cerns, such as radon or combustion appliances like gas furnaces. Mechanical ventilation systems allow for controlled air movement and a rate of ventilation in your home on which you can depend, helping ensure good indoor air quality and appropriate levels of moisture. Generally, newer homes that have been sealed well and manufactured homes have the greatest need for mechanical ventilation. There are two primary categories of mechanical ventilation. Many people are familiar with spot ventilation systems— these are the fans that you find above your oven range, in your laundry room, in your bathroom and perhaps above a garage workshop. They focus on removing moist air and indoor air pollutants at the source. Generally, these fans only work when you turn them on, but you can install condensation sensors or humidistats so the fans will turn on whenever they sense a higher moisture content in the air. Keep in mind running these fans constantly can take too much heated or cooled air out of your home, increasing your energy bills. Whole-house ventilation circulates air throughout the home and introduces the right amount of outside air. There are four categories of whole-house ventilation systems; determining which method is best for you will depend on your home’s needs, your budget and your climate: Exhaust ventilation systems: Fans pull air out of your home, which increases infiltration from the outside, either through air leaks or vents. Supply ventilation systems: Fans bring outside air into your home. Balanced ventilation systems: Both supply and exhaust fans circulate air in and out of the home. Energy recovery ventilation systems: Fans, combined with heat exchangers, modulate the temperature and humidity of incoming air into your home. Talk with your energy auditor or home performance contractor about whether you need additional mechanical ventilation, and if so, which system would work best for your living space.

Jeff Moberly, energy advisor at Blue Grass Energy (KY), conducts a blower door test, which helps identify where air leaks are in your home and is one tool to help determine whether you need mechanical ventilation. PHOTO CREDIT: TIM WEBB, BLUE GRASS ENERGY

Your home performance contractor can work with you to determine whether whole house ventilation is needed. PHOTO CREDIT: WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROJECT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER

Controlled ventilation is more reliable than random air leaks for consistent, quality indoor air. PHOTO CREDIT: WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROJECT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER.

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Alabama Living

DECEMBER 2016  41

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42 DECEMBER 2016

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Electric bills increase during the winter for a variety of reasons––holiday gatherings, houseguests, and shorter days and longer nights. Small measures, like turning down your thermostat, replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs and washing clothes in cold water can help control energy costs.

Alabama Living


DECEMBER 2016  43

| Our Sources Say |

You just knew


ou just knew they would go too far. They always do. You know the syndrome. You have seen it many times. Someone raises a crisis so they can solve it and profit from it, and before long all logic is lost. Usually the crisis is about the future of civilization. Someone gets some recognition, honor and glory for proposing solutions to the crisis, and the race is on. Others join in and demand the crisis be resolved and humanity be saved. Everyone is always for saving humanity, the world or the universe. After all, not saving it would be bad for all of us. Everyone wants to be involved and get some recognition, honor and glory for themselves. More dramatic and radical solutions are proposed. The more the better. And, so on and so on until not only the crises, but the solutions to save the universe are so complicated and costly they are no longer practical. The solutions, devoid of all reason and logic and driven by the public’s infatuation with crises, become so misdirected that they destroy and disrupt lifestyles. These movements all too often start in the liberal state of California, a liberal state with liberal leaders in constant search of liberal government solutions to the many crises that threaten humanity. California is also overpopulated with politicians seeking recognition, honor and glory. You just knew California would be the first mover on solving all crises in the universe. How could it be any different with Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and his administration seeking credit for anything that happens and pushing solutions that are far off the cliff of reason and logic? And, here we go again. First Governor Moonbeam’s climate storm troopers came after the petroleum industry, the automobile industry, the electric industry, and the manufacturing industry. Now they are after California’s cows. The governor, speaking in biblical proportions about a regulation to curb greenhouse gas-emissions from dairy farms and landfills, said, “You know when Noah went to build his ark, most of the people laughed at him. But Noah’s ark saved the world’s species from the flood. We’ve got to build our ark, too, by stopping dangerous pollutants. We’re protecting people’s lungs and their health.” Under Governor Moonbeam’s direction, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has enacted regulations to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That agenda is threatened by the methane and carbon emissions from cow manure and enteric fermentation (cow flatulence and belching) at dairy farms, which account for half of the state’s methane emissions. To proceed with the solution and obtain their share of recognition, honor and glory, Democratic lawmakers (politicians again) want to impose a 40 percent reduction in dairy farm methane emissions by 2030.

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

44 DECEMBER 2016

T h e CARB explains, “If dairy farms were to manage manure in a way to further reduce methane emissions, a gallon of California milk might be the least greenhouse gas-intensive milk in the world.” That assumes that there will be any California milk produced by 2030. With the increased production costs, California milk will likely be the most expensive milk in the world. Already, some of the state’s dairy farms are converting to nut farming because of the reduced environmental oversight and to obtain profitability amid the state’s higher regulatory costs on dairy farming. One CARB solution is to change pasture management systems used by California’s organic milk producers. Changing how organic dairy farms manage manure disposal can reduce the natural decomposition of manure but raises issues about animal welfare due to exposure to higher temperatures. The changes would also raise the enteric fermentation (natural cow gases again) emissions per unit of milk. Apparently, organic milk is not sustainable after all. Other CARB solutions include breeding cows that belch less and pass less gas to reduce methane and carbon emissions. We will see how the anti-genetic modification environmental activists take to that suggestion. However, the end game will be that California dairy farms will be converted to other uses, and milk production will move to other states with sane regulatory systems. All of which goes to show how misdirected even some ideas can get. It also shows to what extent climate storm troopers will go for their climate religion. It shows what happens when people lose focus on practical and reasonable solutions to problems and take positions based upon recognition, honor and glory (think Governor Moonbeam). You just knew it would happen – climate change before milk for our children. I wish you all a merry Christmas. I hope the Holy Season provides us time to spend with our families and reflect on our many blessings. And, I hope you have a good month.

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DECEMBER 2016 45

| Alabama Snapshots |

Holiday Decorations

Stockings for 5 adult kids, plus spouses and grandkids! SUBMITTED BY Kathi Campbell, Coffee Springs.

Holiday decorating has always been my favorite part of Christmas! SUBMITTED BY Charlotte Graves, Collinsville.

Our family Christmas tree decorated with more than 350 small family picture ornaments made by my sister. SUBMITTED BY Linda Clayton, Montgomery.

Submit Your Images! February Theme: “Unlikely Pet Friends” Deadline for February: December 31 SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

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 page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

46  DECEMBER 2016

favorite re from Alabacimpes largest life a’s magazine style

All the “Cook of the Month” recipes you love from 2009-2015! Features on 8 top cooks! More than 250 delicious recipes, from appetizers and soups to breakfast, desserts and more!

Just a sample of what’s inside!

Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake 1 ½ cups chocolate wafer crumbs ¼ cup sugar ¼ cup butter, melted 1, 8-ounce package cream cheese 1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 1 cup crushed peppermint candy 3 drops liquid red food coloring 2 cups whipping cream, whipped Garnishes: whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy Combine first 3 ingredients; firmly press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill. Beat cream cheese at high speed with an electric mixer until fluff y. Add condensed milk, peppermint candy, and food coloring; beat well. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into prepared pan. Cover and freeze until firm. Garnish if desired. Yields one 9-inch cheesecake. Christie York | Marshall-DeKalb EC Cook of the Month, December 2015

Get your copy online at, or mail in the form below: COOKBOOKS @ $19.95 EACH: ______ TOTAL ENCLOSED: ___________ SHIPPING INCLUDED

Mail order form and payment to: Best of Alabama Living Cookbook P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124-4014 Name: ____________________________________ Address: ___________________________________ City: _______________ State: _____Zip: __________  Check Cash Phone Number: ______________

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