South Alabama Electric Cooperative Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News February 2023
Bryan Galloway and Matthew Luster help keep the lights on
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6 a seat at the table
Troy’s Marcus Paramore was recently elected to the District 89 seat in the alabama House of representatives. Learn more about his plans while in office.
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26 VOL. 76 NO. 2 February 2023 DEPARTMENTS 11 Spotlight 25 Around Alabama 26 Outdoors 27 Fish & Game Forecast 30 Cook of the Month 38 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop 28 February 2023 3 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org MAIL: Alabama Living 340 Technacenter Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 IN LOVe WITH rOSeS Cut roses are perennial favorite gifts for Valentine’s Day, but if you’re looking for a truly perennial gift of love, consider the rose bush.
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apprentice bryan Galloway and warehouse employee Matthew Luster help keep things running at SaeC. Learn more about them in the employee Spotlight feature. See story Page 5. 35
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a Fruitdale father and son fishing trip turned out
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Holding back the sea
Growing up as an Army brat in Germany in the early 1970s, I was blessed to see a lot of the world. Each nearby country had its own stories locals would tell, but one that I always remembered was about the little Dutch boy who saved Holland.
You might know the tale about Hans Brinker and his little brother, who were out playing near a dike when they noticed a small leak. Realizing that it could become a big leak or even a break that would mean disaster for the surrounding towns and farmland, Hans quickly plugged the hole with his finger while his brother ran to town. Help soon arrived, the dike was repaired, and Hans and his brother were hailed for saving Holland.
These days I feel like leaders in the electric and natural gas industries are in the same position — trying to hold back the 100% renewable and zero-carbon agenda. Just recently I was reading an article on Utility Dive that confused me. Five senators from New England are asking Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to help prevent natural gas supply shortages and higher prices in the region during the coldest months of the year.
They didn’t ask for many specifics, but they did suggest suspending the Jones Act, a 1920 law that requires any shipping between U.S. ports to be handled by U.S. ships with American crews. Their hope is that this would give them access to liquid natural gas by tanker if conditions reach a crisis point during the winter.
The president of the American Maritime Partnership, however, doesn’t think the Jones Act is the problem. Instead, he argues that the issue is a lack of natural gas pipelines in New England, not enough natural gas storage facilities and risky short-term natural gas purchases in the region.
I have to say I agree with his point of view. What these lawmakers are asking for is spe-
cial treatment. They blocked pipelines into their area and have leaned instead on energy resources like offshore wind and hydropower. The shortage is only there because they have not allowed the demand for natural gas to be served. Now they want the federal government to step in to prevent the high prices and supply problems that have resulted.
It seems to me that if you’re going to make these decisions and put up political roadblocks to developing your energy resources, then the offset is that you have to be accountable for your decisions. If these states don’t have something to replace the natural gas that they have turned their backs on, their leaders should take responsibility for that decision. Even if it means high prices or fuel shortages.
Clearly, not everyone agrees. In fact, I saw another story about Montgomery County, Maryland, becoming the first county on the East Coast to ban natural gas as a heat source in any new buildings. The new regulation is expected to go into effect by the end of 2026 as part of local building codes.
It puts us in the electric industry in the position of holding back that great sea of environmentalists, trying to get everyone to see that we need a diverse energy mix. We can provide reliable and affordable electricity so long as we use renewable energy as part of a larger mix that includes carbon-reduced energy, fossil fuels and nuclear power.
But demands for green energy to be absolute are devastating. And now they’re asking our government to step in because they took an irresponsible path. It’s just not fair.
If you’re going to talk the talk then you should also walk the walk. If they believe so much in the power of renewable energy then they should hold to those principles. As for us, hopefully we can keep to a more responsible path and be like the little Dutch boy who saved Holland.
4 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop
Tim Sanders District 7
James May At Large
Douglas Green Secretary/Treasurer District 6
Delaney Kervin Vice President District 5
James Shaver President District 2
Johnny Garrett District 1 Raymond Trotter District 3
David Bailey, General Manager Ben Fox District 4
Keeping it close to home
Luster and Galloway help maintain SAEC system
Matthew Luster and Bryan Galloway are both full-time employees of SAEC.
Luster grew up in Goshen and currently lives in Coosada. He started working as a warehouse employee in October 2021. When he isn’t working in the SAEC warehouse, he can usually be found tending to his cattle at B&L Farms.
Galloway grew up in Crow Hill near Goshen and began his career as a lineman apprentice in April 2022. He now lives in the Orion community. Galloway enjoys hunting and fishing in his spare time, as well as grilling out with his friends and family.
Both men enjoy being able to work with their hands and be part of the reason the lights stay on for SAEC members. Get to know a little more about them and the reason behind why they do what they do.
What made you want to join the SAEC team?
Luster: The opportunity to build a career.
Galloway: I have always enjoyed being outside and doing hands-on work, and as a lineman, it is where I want to be.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Luster: The relationships and camaraderie that I share with all of our guys.
Galloway: I love being outside with a great team and making the best out of every day getting projects done.
What are your responsibilities?
Luster: To ensure the warehouse is stocked and to gather materials for our crews to complete their work orders.
Galloway: Making sure everyone is safe, hooking up services to our members and giving and restoring power to our community.
What do you think is the most important impact SAEC has on its community?
Luster: SAEC goes above and beyond to make sure each member can enjoy all the comforts electricity has to offer.
Galloway: The most important impact SAEC has on its community is making sure we serve all our members to their needs and our cooperative is there to respond at any time.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Luster: To always show kindness to others, because you never know what someone might be going through.
Galloway: Some of the best advice I’ve heard is, “I’m not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going.” This is important to me, because if you keep working hard all the time you will feel accomplished and successful because of the effort you put in.
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Information £ 331 £ 29 £ 29 £ 29 £ ¤ 331 £ 231 LOWNDES MONTGOMERY BULLOCK BARBOUR DALE COFFEE CRENSHAW PIKE COVINGTON BUTLER Honoraville Highland Home Petrey Luverne Glenwood Brantley Springhill Troy Goshen Shellhorn Shady Grove China Grove Saco Josie Banks Brundidge New Hope Victoria Jack Henderson SAEC Service Area SAEC Service Area
SAEC employees Bryan Galloway, left, and Matthew Luster, are both from the local area.
Meant for more
Marcus Paramore will represent District 89 in Montgomery
Marcus Paramore learned early in life that giving back to others can really make a difference. He learned this lesson as a young man by witnessing it firsthand, through spending time spent at the Boys Club of Dothan, known today as the Boys & Girls Club Wiregrass.
Now, Paramore is in a position to expand the area he can give back to by serving in the Alabama House of Representatives. Voters chose him to represent
District 89, which includes Pike County and a portion of Dale County.
“I wanted to get involved, and the best way to do it is to put your name on the ballot to serve. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” Paramore says.
His early days
Paramore is originally from Dothan. His parents, Bill and Donna, who are now deceased, both left a lasting impression on
their son about what it means to serve others. He still uses those lessons today.
Bill Paramore retired from the military and took a job as a schoolteacher. Donna Paramore worked as a piano teacher and later took a job as the administrative assistant for the Boys Club of Dothan, a youth development and leadership after-school program.
Paramore has fond memories of spending time at the Boys Club after school while his mother worked. There he played in the peewee basketball and football leagues. He credits the club with preparing him to evolve from a shy kid into a college student and later launching his career.
“I got to interact with other youths from so many different backgrounds,” he says. “As you grow up and start working, you get to work with those kids and are able to get in front of civic groups to talk about what the club means to you.”
6 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop
Marcus Paramore served 10 years on the Troy City Council before being elected as a state representative.
Paramore graduated from Northview High School in Dothan in 1984. His first career aspiration was to become an orthodontist. “There was an orthodontist who worked with the club and he kind of became my mentor,” he says.
Launching a career
As he got older, Paramore’s professional path shifted a bit and he decided he wanted a career that involved sports. He enrolled at Troy University after high school, where he studied economics and sports and fitness management. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Troy with the intention of following his dream of working in athletics.
But, when he became a staffer for a political campaign in 1992, his plans changed again. “I got bit by the political bug,” he says. “I got an opportunity to work on the campaign and it led to a career. Everything just kept building toward that ultimate goal of serving others.”
From 1992-1997, Paramore worked on the staff of Terry Everett, who defeated George Wallace Jr. for the 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Working on this campaign scratched Paramore’s political itch for a bit, but his
interest in politics never waned. In 1997 he accepted a position in the athletic department at Troy University as the director of development. During Paramore’s tenure with Troy University athletics, the program rose from an NCAA Division II school to a Division I-A school.
During a meeting with the university’s chancellor in 2003 Paramore got his chance to jump back into politics. “I was giving the athletic report and we started talking about Congressman Everett and his views,” Paramore says. From there, he became the director of government relations for Troy University.
Now, he is retired from the university to focus on representing his constituents in Montgomery. His wife, Leigh Ann, is employed at Troy University as the director of grants and contracts. The couple has two sons, Bradley and Cody. Bradley is 24 and in graduate school at the University of Southern Mississippi. Cody is 21 and studies graphic engineering at Wallace State Community College in Dothan.
Paramore ran for, and won, a seat on the Troy City Council, serving from 20122022, with six of those years as council president. He resigned from the council after winning the Alabama House of Representatives seat on Nov. 8, 2022.
“I would’ve loved to have stayed on the council, but I thought it was time to serve District 89 and give that my full attention,” Paramore says.
— Marcus Paramore
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 7
I wanted to get involved, and the best way to do it is to put your name on the ballot to serve, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”
The Paramore family includes, from left, Bradley, Leigh Ann, Marcus and Cody.
While campaigning for office, Paramore spoke in many small group settings.
The city of Troy saw a lot of economic growth during Paramore’s city council tenure, including the arrival of businesses and large industries to the area, which created about 700 jobs. For example, Kimber Firearms located its corporate office in Troy, providing nearly 400 jobs.
The council wanted to focus on bringing retail and restaurant activity to the city, and construction recently began on a Baumhower’s Victory Grille and a bowling alley. There will also be a new hotel built along with some other restaurants in that area.
“We really wanted to focus on bringing a quality of life to the citizens,” Paramore says about the arrival of Publix and the shopping center that features a Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Ulta and Ross Dress for Less.
Paramore says some of his main goals during his term in the state legislature are bringing more jobs to the district and improving the quality of life for citizens. “I want to make sure our children and grandchildren are able to get a quality education and make sure this stays a great area to live, worship and play,” he says.
South Alabama Electric Cooperative members make up a large percentage of Paramore’s district, and he plans to advocate for the cooperative and its members while in Montgomery.
“I want to make sure they have the resources and support they need to provide high-quality service to their members,” he says.
SAEC General Manager David Bailey is pleased to have another strong representative headed to Montgomery to represent the cooperative members.
“Our area has been blessed to have great representation in Montgomery over the years and we know that Marcus will continue that tradition during his term,” Bailey says. “He has a strong resume and has already done great work for our area. I am excited to see that continue as he heads to Montgomery.”
Paramore says it’s humbling to look back at how far he has come since his days at the Boys Club in Dothan. But he is excited to use the lessons he’s learned along the way to serve the citizens of District 89.
“Being elected as a state representative was a big moment for me and it’s a chance to move up and help more than just the one community I live in,” Paramore says. “It’s humbling that the people selected me to represent them in Montgomery.”
Marcus Paramore greets a constituent on the campaign trail.
8 FEBRUARY 2023 Alabama Living
Paramore announced his intentions to run for a seat in the state house in downtown Troy.
My husband loved to build things out of wood. He built houses, churches and trains. I’m so proud. SUBMITTED by Nyoka Chandler, Guntersville.
I made this for my grandson. My first time building a rocking horse. SUBMITTED by Ray Bell, Newville.
I’ve been wood carving for about 30 years. SUBMITTED by Jerry Cochran, Summerdale.
Stephan H. Scott made this boat from a pine tree that fell on our property after a storm and named the boat after his grandmother. SUBMITTED by Marilyn Scott, Elberta.
One of my ancestors whittled this. All of it is one piece - no pieces of it are separate. SUBMITTED by Rhonda Mosley, Andalusia.
A friend of mine did this woodburning of my dog, Gypsy, from the included picture. SUBMITTED by Susie Burgess, Hartselle.
My Daddy made heart shaped jewelry boxes out of cedar for every female in his family. SUBMITTED by Joyce Pickett, Fitzpatrick.
| Deadline: February 28
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 9 April theme: “Our Linemen”
| Alabama Snapshots | Online: alabamaliving.coop | Mail: Attn: Snapshots, P.O. Box 244014,
RULES: Photos submitted for publication may also be published on our website at alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to have photos returned.
Co-ops respond to devastating severe weather
Numerous strong to severe thunderstorms cut through central Alabama on Jan. 12, and several of those storms spawned significant tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. An EF3 tornado that tracked from Autauga County into western Chambers County had a longtrack path of over 76 miles and was at least 1,500 yards wide; this tornado caused seven fatalities and 16 injuries.
This storm left more than 9,000 Central Alabama EC members without power, and the co-op needed to replace more than 300 poles. Several sister co-ops responded to help Central Alabama with the restoration of power: Dixie EC, Marshall-DeKalb EC, Tallapoosa River EC, Baldwin EMC, Clarke-Washington EMC, Cullman EC, Coosa Valley EC, Black Warrior EMC and Wiregrass EC sent a total of 85 men as well as trucks and materials to the affected areas in Central Alabama’s territory. They were in place by the morning of Jan. 13, and all were released by the evening of Jan. 15.
But several co-ops had their own damage to contend with. Black Warrior EMC, Pioneer EC, Southern Pine EC, Clarke-Washington EMC, Joe Wheeler EMC, South Alabama EC, Pea River EC and others saw large-scale outages from the band of storms that tore through Alabama.
Alabama’s co-ops always stand ready to help sister co-ops both in-state and across the Southeast after a devastating weather event.
Civil rights icon’s medal on display at Archives
The Presidential Medal of Freedom that was presented to Alabama attorney Fred D. Gray on July 7, 2022, is now on display in the ADAH’s main lobby and will be on view through February 2023. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Born in Montgomery on Dec. 14, 1930, Gray graduated from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) at the age of 17 and enrolled at Western Reserve University Law School in Ohio. The young attorney returned to Alabama determined to contest the legality of segregation laws. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he represented Rosa Parks and served as legal advisor for the Montgomery Improvement Association and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., its president.
Gray was lead counsel in the landmark 1956 case Browder v. Gayle, which overturned segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Building on this precedent, Gray challenged inequality in dozens of cases over the next several decades. He continues to practice law today at the age of 92. Gray has been a trustee of the ADAH since 2003.
“We have made substantial progress but the struggle for the elimination of racism and for equal justice continues. I hope this award will encourage other Americans to do what they can to complete the task so that all American citizens will be treated the same, equally and fairly, in accordance with the Constitution,” Gray says.
Learn more at archives.alabama.gov
Alabama State Parks receive grant for Chewacla State Park
The State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) was recently awarded a $20,000 Hearts of STIHL grant from STIHL, Inc., to be used for the removal and management of invasive plant species at Chewacla State Park in Auburn. The Hearts of STIHL grants are awarded to support programs that prioritize responsible forest management practices, sustainability, conservation and environmental education programs. The grants are managed through the America’s State Parks Foundation and awarded to state parks in six regions of the U.S. “Invasive plants are a threat to native ecosystems throughout the country,” says Tasha Simon, Natural Resources Supervisor for Alabama State Parks. “Since Alabama is one of the most biologically diverse states in the U.S., managing that threat to our native species is very important.”
The grant will fund the purchase of equipment and herbicides to reduce the amount of Chinese privet and tallowtree, thorny olive, wild taro, water hyacinth, kudzu and other non-native plants at Chewacla. The funding will also support educational signage and print media about the restoration of native habitats within the park.
For more information about the Hearts of STIHL program, visit stihlusa.com/community/hearts-of-stihl/
10 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop Spotlight | February
President Biden presents the Medal of Freedom to Alabama attorney Fred Gray in July 2022. OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY ADAM SCHULTZ
A crew from Coosa Valley EC resets a pole in the Old Jasmine Hill Road area of Wetumpka on Jan. 13, the day after an EF3 tornado plowed through the Central Alabama EC service territory.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TOMMY GILES
The Chewacla Invasive Plant Working Group has been crucial in long-term efforts to remove and control non-native plant species at Chewacla State Park.
PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA STATE PARKS
Take us along!
We’ve enjoyed seeing photos from our readers on their travels with Alabama Living! Please send us a photo of you with a copy of the magazine on your travels to: mytravels@alabamaliving. coop. Be sure to include your name, hometown and electric cooperative, and the location of your photo.We’ll draw a winner for the $25 prize each month.
Find the hidden dingbat!
When we make finding the hidden dingbat what some might consider too easy, our readers love it! Thanks to the more than 400 folks who sent us the correct location of the New Year’s party horn blower, riding atop the extreme cookies and cream milkshake on Page 16. “Good thing my favorite drink is a milkshake!” writes Diana Burell of Monroeville.
Gayle Ashworth of Guntersville, a member of Arab Electric Cooperative, would agree. She was inspired to write us a poem:
While reading “Alabama is as easy as A, B, C”
And reading all the articles from A to Z
I found that Y is not just for y’all, it’s also for ‘yummy’!
Which is what those extreme milkshakes on Page 16 would be to my tummy!
They look so delicious with all their toppings extreme, I’d even love one with a New Year’s party horn blower stuck in my whipped cream!
We love that Pamela Maten of Gilbertown, a Black Warrior EMC member who is a librarian, shares the dingbat contest with her young library patrons and lets them search for it. “They proudly showed it to me when they found it!” she writes. And we’re proud of the determination of 11-year-old Charleigh Mason of Rainsville, who drew a photo of the milkshake and told us if she wins, the $25 prize will go towards her new car fund. Never hurts to start that fund early, Charleigh! Tom Mullican of Decatur found the dingbat on his first try. He writes that he would have tried sooner “but was too embarrassed to ask, ‘What’s a dingbat? Then I read the instructions. I just turned 68, proving one’s never too old to learn, I hope!” Absolutely not, Tom, so keep entering every month!
Congratulations to Katelyn Maten of Gilbertown, our randomly drawn winner of a $25 gift card from AlabamaOne Credit Union. This month, we’ve hidden some Mardi Gras beads. (Mardi Gras begins Feb. 21.) Good luck, and let the good times roll!
By mail: Find the Dingbat Alabama Living PO Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative, if applicable. The winner and answer will be announced in the March issue.
Submit by email: email@example.com, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Do you like finding interesting or unusual landmarks? Contribute a photo you took for an upcoming issue! Remember, all readers whose photos are chosen also win $25!
answer: This group of large stones is in the Civil Rights Memorial Park, located at the base of the southern end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The small fence surrounding it resembles the bridge. On the center stone is the verse from Joshua 4:21-22. (Photo by Allison Law of Alabama Living) The randomly drawn correct guess winner is Kathy Sexton of Black Warrior EMC.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 11 February | Spotlight
We love this photo of Heath and Ashton Thayer of Bay Minette, young members of Baldwin EMC, who enjoyed a visit to at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Elberta.
Linda Floyd, a member of Sand Mountain EC from Langston, traveled to MSC Ocean Cay Marine Preserve in the Bahamas, part of the Bimini district.
We’re glad Paul Brantley of Sardis City, a member of Cherokee EC, didn’t get blown away when he visited Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Phil & Misty Taylor of Ohatchee, members of Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, visited the King Kamehameha Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii, with their favorite magazine.
Let’s play (pickle) ball!
Popular sport has fans from age 8 to 80
Julie Lin plays a game at the Opelika SportsPlex.
12 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop
PHOTO COURTESY OPELIKA PARKS AND RECREATION
By Emmett Burnett
Doors open early at the Orange Beach Recreation Center – 8 a.m. By 9 a.m., courts are full. By 10 a.m., without a reservation, you wait in line. Tennis you say? Oh please, that is so yesterday.
These are the faithful, the dedicated, the legions united by pickleball, the thrill of the dill. “If I unlocked the doors at 7 a.m., they would be in here at 7 a.m.,” says Brenda Langston, pickleball attendant at the Orange Beach Recreation Center, which is served electrically by Baldwin EMC.
She unlocks the doors and a steady stream of enthusiasts enter to take the courts. One player rushes by, laughing, “Pickleball is not just a sport, it’s an addiction.”
Indeed, the game of paddles and perforated plastic balls is one of America’s fastest growing sports. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 4.8 million people are currently playing – doubling the number of five years ago. Alabama is no exception.
Johnathan Langston, Orange Beach Recreation Center’s director, says that since 2015, the center has logged 35,281 pickleball players here. The statistic would have been even larger had the complex not shut down during Covid months.
“In our center, pickleball is played more than all other sports combined. It is the biggest recreation program in Orange Beach’s history,” Langston says.
On today’s visit, 50 players are expected. In January with the arrival of Northern snowbirds, numbers swell to 100.
The beachside town is not alone in its passion for smacking
a plastic ball with holes in it. Alabama is in a pickle – in a good way. Take the Opelika Pickleball Facility for example, one of the largest in the state.
Adjacent to the Opelika SportsPlex, the canopy-covered site features 24 courts and LED lighting, available 24 hours daily, Wednesday through Monday. Tournaments here have seen 800 participants.
As for everyday play, Opelika Public Relations Coordinator Laura Leigh Chesser notes, “I’ve seen severe weather and rainstorms with people playing pickleball here like nothing is going on. Anything short of a monsoon, our people will play pickleball.”
Though it appears to have erupted in popularity overnight, pickle ball passion is not new. The game is almost 60 years old. In 1965 the late Joel Pritchard and two friends returned to his Bainbridge, Washington, summer home after a day of golf. Pritchard found his family bored with nothing to do. With help from two friends, he experimented with paddles, nets, racquets, and various balls to devise a family version of scaled-down tennis. One theory of how the game derived its name: During play at the impromptu net, the family’s dog kept chasing the ball. The dog’s name was “Pickles.” The rest is history.
Incidentally, the late Joel Pritchard had other accomplishments. Post pickle, he served in the U.S. Congress and later, as his state’s lieutenant governor. Outside of Washington, few know of his public service. However, everybody knows his game, some say named for the family’s pet.
This pickleball tournament at the Opelika SportsPlex in December attracted 130 players.
PHOTO BY JULIE BENNETT
The 8 a.m. pickleball players at the Orange Beach Recreation Center take a break from play.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 13
PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT
From the Pacific Northwest, pickleball spread. “A California tennis pro told me about it six years ago,” recalls Wade Brown, Wynlakes Country Club’s director of tennis. “My California colleague insisted, ‘You guys need to look into this! I am teaching more pickleball than I am tennis lessons!’”
Brown did his research. “Initially I considered pickleball to be like racquetball – a fad that fell off the face of the earth. But after studying and seeing how popular it had become in other areas, I realized pickleball is here to stay.”
He also credits country club members. “Many in our membership have resort homes in other areas,” Brown says. “They saw pickleball in their travels and returned to Montgomery, questioning how come we cannot have it here?” They do now.
Within a decade, Wynlakes Country Club, which is served by Dixie Electric Cooperative, grew from makeshift taped lines on a spare tennis spot to today’s service, including exclusive pickleball courts. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Brown says. “We recently had 36 Indiana businessmen fly in; 26 of them wanted to play pickleball.”
When questioning the popularity of the sport, answers are as diverse as those who play it.
“Pickleball is a fairly simple game to play,” says Steve Lloyd, a pickleball pioneer of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. “Lots of people play because it’s easy to learn and anybody can play it, from children to people in their 80s.”
Here is a pickle primer condensed in a paragraph: Like tennis, pickleball is a game for two or four players. One serves underhand and across the court. After the ball bounces once, the opponent smacks it back. The volley begins.
Complete rules can be easily found online or learned from other players. Other players also love to help newbies. For at one time, they, too, were new, just as a pickle was once a cucumber.
“Don’t be scared,” says Jim Young, president of the Opelika Pickleball Club, with a current membership of 471. He advises the novice, “Once the basics are explained, you can be on the court in 5 to 15 minutes. Initially, you won’t be as good as experienced folks, but you will catch up.”
Young says, “I’ve been surpassed by players I taught and I’m happy for them. It doesn’t discourage me.”
Lloyd agrees. “Start with others who have never played,” the Orange Beach Recreation Center veteran notes. “You will be surprised at how fast you catch on.”
Working up a workout
The play is fun but make no mistake – this is a workout. “I had heart issues and for me running a treadmill was not motivating. Pickleball is fun exercise and also improves your hand and eye coordination,” says Lloyd, who is a competitive 72-year-old.
Brenda Langston agrees. “I recently had a pickleball player thank me. He said, ‘Before pickleball, I was on my way to becoming a couch potato.’”
The game is perhaps the most social sport in existence. Brown adds, “You can learn how to play in 20 minutes and be out on the courts. The only thing easier than learning the game is finding someone to play it with you. Everybody will.”
“You meet tons of people,” adds Mel Hopper of Orange Beach and a pickleball player of five years. “It is fun. The game can be competitive, a social occasion to be with friends, or both.”
Pickleball lends itself to socializing, as the court (44 feet by 20 feet) is much smaller than a tennis court (78 feet by 27 feet). Play-
Yvette Scarborough plays at the Opelika SportsPlex in December.
PHOTO BY JULIE BENNETT
Gail Woodall shows some concentration during a pickleball match at the Opelika SportsPlex.
14 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop
PHOTO BY JULIE BENNETT
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 15 Licensed and Insured New Right of Way clearing Reclaiming Existing Right of Way Forestry Mulching (334) 818-0595 firstname.lastname@example.org
ers are closer together, the volley is slower, and you tend to talk, getting to know each other.
“That’s the beauty of it,” says Bernie Gilliam, tennis and pickleball coordinator for Gulf Shores. “Grandparents can play the game with their grandkids.” Locally, they can play on state-of-the art courts.
As of this writing, Gulf Shores was set to debut its new $780,000, 12 lighted pickleball courts. The site, part of the Gulf Shores Sportsplex, is open seven days a week, from sunrise to 10 p.m. “The demand is great,” Gilliam adds. “A mix of residents and tourists will use the new facility.”
Municipalities are seeing fiscal benefits too. “Opelika is one of the nation’s top pickleball destinations,” says Jim Young. “The city has invested a lot. The economic impact we give back to the city, state, local taxes, and our merchants in 2022 could be over $1.25 million.”
Fun, competitive, social, health benefits, fiscal opportunities, and more, whatever the reason, thousands are seizing paddles. Based on 2022’s growth, pickleball data indicates huge expansion statewide with new courts and new players.
There is power in the pickle. For in Alabama, pickleball is a game we relish.
16 FEBRUARY 2023
Bill Flick during a match at the Opelika SportsPlex.
PHOTO COURTESY OPELIKA PARKS AND RECREATION
Tom Melborn, Mel Hopper, Joan Booker, and Steve Lloyd, who play at the Orange Beach Recreation Center, are ready to compete (and have some fun too).
PHOTO BY EMMETT BURNETT
Pies, pigs and more: Bakery
gives Clanton popularity beyond peaches
By Allison Law
The Chilton County city of Clanton is well known for its peaches, and for its shops right off Interstate 65 that welcome weary travelers with produce, jams and jellies, ice cream and just about anything else you’d want to eat.
But now, Clanton may become known for the sweet treats and tasty breakfast foods served up at Pies by Mike, the family-owned bakery and coffee shop that’s been open in its location on Lay Dam
Road since 2020. The bakery’s slogan, “incrediliciously good,” is a little hard to pronounce, and owner Mike Graham admits he sort of made it up. But it seems to fit the character of the place, with rows and rows of delectable pies available whole or by the slice, served up with its own blend of coffee.
Mike says he’s always enjoyed cooking, and he started making the Tollhouse pie years ago when he and his wife, Alice, had
18 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Worth the drive |
The pecan pie, and left, and the Tollhouse pie are the top sellers at Pies by Mike.
PHOTO BY BROOKE ECHOLS
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 19
friends over. Many friends told him for years that he needed to sell the pies, but he never gave it a serious thought.
Then in 2014, the Alabama Cottage Food Law took effect, which allowed individuals to produce certain foods in their homes to sell to the public. A class was offered in Clanton, so Mike took it and became certified.
Mike started out small – he’d make several kinds of pies and take samples to local businesses, asking if they’d like to buy a pie. The first year, he sold 268 pies; the next year, that number doubled. And it kept growing.
“We had to decide, do we want to scale it back, or get out of the house?” The Grahams took the leap and rented a small former cafe for its commercial kitchen; eventually, they began serving 15 restaurants. Mike hadn’t planned on entering the retail business, but when the landlord decided to sell the property, the business had to move.
They moved to the current location on Jan. 22, 2020, with a grand opening on March 14, 2020. Just a few days later, Covid began to shut down restaurants and businesses, changing life for all of us.
“During Covid, if we had stayed in the same location (the little cafe), I don’t think we would have survived it,” Mike says. “All we had pretty much was wholesale. During Covid, we lost all but two of our restaurants.
“Alice is quick to point out, the good Lord was looking out for us.”
Now, retail has far surpassed the wholesale operation, though Pies by Mike still services several stores, either at the holiday sea-
son or year-round, with anywhere from one or two pie flavors to several, depending on the location.
“That was just a huge blessing that we got here,” Mike says. “The Lord has really blessed us. The community has gotten behind us.”
The bakery has a stable of about 25 sweet pies, though not all are available every day. There are all kinds, including pecan (the best-seller), tollhouse (a close second), key lime and pineapple cream (which run neck-and-neck for a distant third). Also on the menu, depending on the day, are fudge (one of Mike’s personal favorites), lemon mousse, peanut butter, pina colada, pumpkin, strawberry banana and strawberry cream, among others.
On this particular weekday, there were eight different flavors; sometimes they’ll have as many as 10 or 12, or as few as four or five, depending on the wholesale orders and other factors.
Pies by Mike also offers gluten free and diabetic-friendly pies, but those must be pre-ordered.
The “Southern breakfast pies” (Mike acknowledges they’re basically quiches, but he likes the sound of his better) are available in bacon, ham or sausage, whole or by the slice. Quilted pigs (Mike’s take on “pigs in a blanket, with fewer syllables”), Conecuh bites and sausage bites almost always sell out.
Mike realized they needed a special blend of coffee to serve at the eatery (Alice thinks it’s pretty funny that Mike doesn’t even drink coffee). They invited some “coffee snobs” in to help taste test, and after some customer voting and back and forth with the roaster, they settled on a blend. It’s sold at the store by the bean or ground, in half-pound or pound bags.
Asked about expansion, Mike is hesitant. “I’m not going to say never, but right now I just want to get enough staff on hand that can expand our hours a little bit.” Pies by Mike is open on Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; a goal of Mike’s is to start opening on Saturdays to catch the beach traffic along the interstate, but as it is for most businesses, the key is finding the right people to work, who understand good customer service and enjoy working with the public.
“We’re extremely friendly here,” Mike says. “People come in, they’re going to be welcomed.” As if on cue, a customer walks in, eager for a sweet treat.
20 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop
1015 Lay Dam Road, Clanton, AL 35045 205-755-7854
Hours: 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday-Friday closed Saturday-Monday Clanton l
Alice and Mike Graham started Pies by Mike in its current location in March 2020 – just before the Covid pandemic began. Pies by Mike
Pies by Mike sells its own blend of coffee, by the half-pound and the pound.
PHOTOS BY ALLISON LAW
Pies by Mike also sells popular breakfast foods, like these “quilted pigs,” on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings beginning at 7 a.m.
PHOTO COURTESY PIES BY MIKE
Energy-efficient farming equipment
Q: Are there ways to reduce energy use on a farm?
A: The importance of farms cannot be understated. Farmers feed our families and keep the country running, but the business brings many challenges, including risk and uncertainty. Finding ways to use less energy can reduce costs and result in energy savings for years to come.
When looking to improve farm efficiency, consider the following areas:
Motors and pumps
Because motors and pumps account for a significant amount of energy use on a farm, replacing inefficient motors with efficient models can save energy and reduce costs. Adding variable frequency drives (VFDs) allow you to vary the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor or pump to adjust the motor’s speed. This saves kilowatt hours and reduces load by only operating at the needed capacity. VFDs can be used in place of a phase converter, which allows use of three-phase power equipment where there is only access to single-phase power.
Upgrade irrigation equipment to use less water, which means less pumping and reducing the amount of water and energy consumed. The goal is to get the right amount of water where it is needed. This can be accomplished by reducing evaporation through system design and fixing leaks in the system. GPS and geographic information system technologies allow for more specific irrigation targeting. Monitor and test systems regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.
The longer lights are on, the higher the potential for savings. Prioritize replacing incandescent or fluorescent exterior lighting on photocells or lights that stay on all night. LED lights last two to four times longer than fluorescents and 25 to 35 times longer than incandescents. That means less frequent replacement, which saves on materials and labor costs.
In climates where engine block heaters are used to keep vehicle engines warm enough to start, adding engine block heater controls with temperature sensors and timers will reduce electricity use. To keep water from freezing on farms with livestock, save energy by using stock tank heaters with thermostatic controls, which operate only when needed instead of running constantly. Insulated stock tanks may eliminate the need to heat water.
New farming technologies that offer efficiency possibilities include electric tractors, space heating and water heating. Equipment with information technology capabilities can aid efficiency by monitoring conditions and automating farming tasks. As with home efficiency practices, consider the equipment used most and the savings potential from upgrading or modifying existing equipment.
About 80% of U.S. farms are located in counties served by electric cooperatives. Check with your local electric co-op to see if they offer rebates on farming equipment and energy-efficiency projects that help reduce energy use.
Improving efficiency on the farm can result in less energy use, lower bills and improved farming success during challenging financial times.
22 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Consumer Wise |
Miranda Boutelle is the vice president of operations and customer engagement at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. She also writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.
Finding ways to use less energy can reduce costs and result in more efficient farming practices for years to come
PHOTOS COURTESY BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION
Irrigation equipment can be upgraded to use less water, which means less pumping and reducing the amount of water and energy consumed.
Variable frequency drives allow you to vary the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor or pump to adjust the motor’s speed.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 23
Help someone you love apply for Social Security… and more
This Valentine’s Day, take time to remind your loved ones that Social Security helps people in all stages of life. We provide easy and convenient ways to learn about and apply for benefits. Using our online services, you can assist friends and family members to:
Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Check if the person you are helping qualifies for SSI – and also apply – at ssa.gov/ssi.
Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. When the unexpected happens and a loved one can no longer work due to a serious medical condition, our disability benefits can be a lifeline. Find out more at ssa.gov/benefits/disability
Create a personal my Social Security account.
If your loved one is planning for retirement or interested in estimating their future benefits, they can create a free and secure my Social Security account at ssa.gov/myaccount and view their Social Security Statement.
Check the status of a pending application for benefits. Checking the status of an application is quick and easy with a personal my Social Security account. If you don’t have an account, you can create one at ssa.gov/myaccount.
Appeal a decision for benefits.
If someone you know was denied Social Security benefits or SSI, they can request an appeal. We provide information on how to appeal decisions for both medical and non-medical reasons at ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html
To discover more ways you can assist others, please visit ssa. gov/thirdparty/
by Myles Mellor
24 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop SOCIAL SECURITY Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at email@example.com. Answers on Page 37
Across 1 It’s known as Alabama’s most romantic town 6 Layer of a wedding cake 9 Before to a poet 11 Often romantic music 12 Lighting for a romantic dinner 13 Gala 15 Tango and salsa, for example 17 Frequent meeting place for a date 19 In February they contain romantic messages 21 Eternal jewel 23 Toyota SUV 24 “Roses are red” begins one 27 Quiet small town getaway atop Lookout Mountain with a wedding chapel 30 ____ Gatos or Angeles 31 Where you can visit the Noccalula Falls Park and Campground 35 Night sky sparklers 36 Black tea 38 Saint who gave his name to February 14th Down 1 Alabama town which boasts McFarland Park with a floating restaurant 2 Cocktail addition 3 Romantic symbol 4 Light kiss 5 Historic period 7 “___ treat!” 8 Romantic flowers 10 New Age Celtic singer 14 Corn piece 15 Takes the car out 16 Sweet romantic gift 18 First man in the Bible 20 Lady deer 22 Prepare for a romantic date, perhaps- 2 words 25 Strange 26 Lady on a runway 28 Not that either 29 “___ does not wither her or custom stale her infinite variety” Shakespeare 32 Relaxing destination for a romantic weekend 33 Barely get, with “out” 34 Negative prefix 37 He phones home.
4 Millbrook The Millbrook Revelers Mardi Gras Festival and Parade. Festival grounds open at 9 a.m.; parade begins at noon. More than 60 vendors will be on site, with fun rides for children of all ages. The parade staging is at Mill Creek Park on Main Street; the theme for the parade is Laissez les bon temps rouler, or “let the good times roll.” MillbrookRevelers.org
4 Orrville Road to Freedom Wagon Tour at Old Cahawba, 10-11 a.m. One hundred years before the 1965 Voting Rights March in nearby Selma, a brave community of recently emancipated African-Americans gathered around an older courthouse in Cahawba. These 19th century “foot soldiers” exercised their right to vote and – for a brief time – gained political power. This wagon tour tells the story of Cahawba’s African-American majority and traces their path from slavery to freedom. $10. Search for the Old Cahawba page on Facebook.
11 Mobile USS Alabama living history crew drill. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. See history come to life when WWII re-enactors tell the stories of the original crewmen of the battleship USS Alabama and submarine USS Drum. Presentations and demonstrations throughout the day. Be on deck at 1 p.m. when the “call to battle stations” is sounded. All activities are included in the day’s admission. USSAlabama.com
Chatom 35th annual Indian Artifact and Collector Show, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Chatom Community Center, 222 Dixie Youth Drive. Free admission. No reproductions, fakes or illegally obtained artifacts allowed. Display tables $10; dealer tables $25. firstname.lastname@example.org
25-26 Decatur Greater Morgan County Builders Association Home and Garden Show, Ingalls Harbor Pavilion. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The latest trends in custom home building, remodeling ideas for every room in your home, home decoration, landscaping and more. 256-318-9161.
Andalusia Meredith’s Miracles Cookies with Characters, Covington Center Arena and Kiwanis Building. More than 90 characters will be on hand to greet fans, with souvenirs, photos, jumpy houses, princess carriage rides, limo rides and more. Saturday has two shows, at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Sunday show starts at 3 p.m. Event is a fundraiser for Meredith’s Miracles, a non-profit organization that helps families financially during medical emergencies. For online tickets, visit CookiesWithCharacters.com
3 Montgomery Alabama History Day, Auburn University at Montgomery, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each fall and winter, middle and high school students statewide research historical topics of interest. They present their findings in the spring at history day, as papers, documentaries, websites, dramatic performances or visual exhibits. Registration deadline is Feb. 13. AlabamaHumanities.org
Winfield The Pastime Theatre 2023 concert season kickoff. 1052 U.S. Highway 43. American country music singersongwriter Mac McAnally takes the stage at 7 p.m.; tickets are $30. A pre-show dinner at 5 p.m. is available, but reservations and payment are required; dinners are an additional $25. For more on the 2023 season, search for The Pastime Theatre on Facebook or call 205-487-3002.
Orange Beach 31st annual Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wharf. Food, 100 artists from throughout the South, music for the whole family on two stages, kids’ zone with activities and car show featuring antique, classic and hot rod vehicles all along Main Street. Free. OrangeBeachAl.org
Dothan Spring Farm Day at Landmark Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy the sights and sounds of life on the farm in the 1890s. Try your hand at churning butter, plowing with horses and mules and other farm chores. Arts and crafts, wagon rides, music, antique tractors, kids’ activities, farm animals and food vendors. Adults $10; seniors and military $8; kids $6; park members and children 2 and under free. LandmarkParkDothan.com
Greenville Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 4776 Fort Dale Road. Pageantry and history come to life with hundreds of costumed characters recreating a 9th century village. Enjoy music, comedy and theatre, food and drink, handmade arts and crafts, historical artisan demonstrations and games. Almff.com
To place an event, e-mail email@example.com. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. 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 FEBRUARY 2023 25
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Watch history come to life as WWII re-enactors tell the stories of the original crew of the USS Alabama and submarine USS Drum on Feb. 11.
Prehistoric armored beast
Angler lands new state record toothy predator
For Keith Dees and his 15-year-old son, Huntley, of Fruitdale, Ala., what had already been a good day on the water turned into a morning they will never forget.
They had landed 18 bass with some approaching three pounds and a few large redfish when they decided to try one more spot in the Raft River in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta outside Mobile. Working a ChatterBait near a shoreline, Keith Dees’ 15-pound test line simply went slack. Then, it started moving in a contrary direction.
“I thought another big redfish hit,” Keith says. “I was reeling as fast as I could. As it went by the trolling motor, I could see something big under the water, but I had no idea how big. We followed it with the boat. I just wanted my $20 lure back.”
Keith fought the unseen fish on a 7-foot medium action bass rod. After about 30 minutes, it came to the surface to take a gulp of air. The beast pulled out about 75 yards of line and then stopped. Keith used the trolling motor to catch up with it and take in line. They kept repeating this procedure for a total of 2.5 hours.
“The fish took out line, but never left about a 200-yard circle,” Keith recalled. “When we finally saw the size of the fish on the line, we went nuts, but we still had no idea just how big it was.”
Dating back more than 100 million years, garfish witnessed the extinction of the dinosaurs and still survive unchanged. With a broad head, a snout full of sharp teeth and interlocking scales for armor, an alligator garfish looks something like a legless alligator. A garfish can breathe both air and water. It can live in either fresh or salty water, allowing the species to thrive in places where other fish could not survive.
Keith continued to battle the leviathan. Whenever they could get close to it, the armored predator swam away. Finally, the fish looked exhausted and stayed near the surface. With no net large enough or a gaff to bring the behemoth aboard their 20-foot bass boat, the team tried to lasso it with a rope noose. However, the rope floated so the fish simply swam under it.
“Finally, I thought of using one of my heavy bass rods with a big hook on it like a gaff,” Keith says. “With the fish swimming alongside the boat, Huntley takes my rod and reels the weight all the way to the tip and hooks the fish. I figured my $500 custom rod would break, but the fish flopped sideways and then just hovered there before going back down. When it came back up, we finally got the rope around him. My adrenaline was running and I just pulled him in.”
The toothy torpedo measured 84.5 inches, or slightly more
than seven feet long with a 35.5-inch girth. Alabama state law allows each person to keep one alligator garfish per day.
“We brought the fish home and put it in an old swimming pool to keep it alive and preserve the weight,” Keith says. “Where can someone put a 7-foot-long fish? I thought it probably weighed about 100 pounds, but we didn’t have anything to weigh it. I called a friend who has some deer scales. The first set of scales went to 175 pounds. We weighed it again on another set of scales and it weighed 165 pounds. I looked up the state record.”
As listed by the International Game Fish Association, the official all-tackle world record alligator gar weighed 279 pounds. It came out of the Rio Grande River, Texas, in 1951. However, some huge fish caught in nets or trotlines weighed close to 400 pounds and measured more than nine feet long.
When Keith found out he had a possible state record, he contacted Tommy Purcell, the state fisheries biologist over South Alabama, to see how to submit a record. They weighed the giant fish on certified scales and it officially weighed 162 pounds.
In early January 2023, the state certified Keith’s monster fish as the new state record alligator garfish and the largest freshwater fish in the Alabama record book. Previously, Richard Johnson held the Alabama record for alligator gar with a 151.75-pound fish he pulled from the Tensaw River in August 2009. Michael Houseknecht landed a 151-pound, 5-ounce alligator gar in the Tensaw River in August 2004.
The next largest non-gar freshwater fish in the Alabama record book, a blue catfish, weighed 120.25 pounds. It came from Holt Reservoir near Tuscaloosa in 2012.
26 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Outdoors |
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at j.felsher@ hotmail.com or through Facebook.
Keith Dees and his 15-year-old son, Huntley of Fruitdale, Ala., show off the new state record alligator garfish they caught in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KEITH DEES
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Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 27
2023 EXCELLENT TIMES MOON STAGE GOOD TIMES FEBRUARY A.M. PM AM PM We 15 6:42 - 8:42 7:06 - 9:06 1:09 - 2:39 1:33 - 3:03 Th 16 7:30 - 9:30 7:54 - 9:54 1:57 - 3:27 2:21 - 3:51 Fr 17 8:18 - 10:18 8:42 - 10:42 2:45 - 4:15 3:09 - 4:39 Sa 18 9:06 - 11:06 9:30 - 11:30 3:33 - 5:03 3:57 - 5:27 Su 19 9:54 - 11:54 10:18 - 12:18 4:21 - 5:51 4:45 - 6 ;15 Mo 20 10:42 - 12:42 11:06 - 1:06 NEW MOON 5:09 - 6:39 5:33 - 7:03 Tu 21 11:30 - 1:30 11:54 - 1:54 5:57 - 7:27 6:21 - 7:51 We 22 NA 12:42 - 2:42 6:45 - 8:15 7:09 - 8:39 Th 23 1:06 - 3:06 1:30 - 3:30 7:33 - 9:03 7:57 - 9:27 Fr 24 1:54 - 3:54 2:18 - 4:18 8:21 - 9:51 8:45 - 10:15 Sa 25 2:42 - 4:42 3:06 - 5:06 9:09 - 10:39 9:33 - 11:03 Su 26 3:30 - 5:30 3:54 - 5:54 9:57 - 11:27 10:21 - 11:51 Mo 27 4:18 - 6:18 4:42 - 6:42 10:45 - 12:15 11:09 - 12:39 Tu 28 5:06 - 7:06 5:30 - 7:30 11:33 - 1:03 11:57 - 1:27 MARCH A.M. PM AM PM We 1 5:54 - 7:54 6:18 - 8:18 NA 12:45 - 2:15 Th 2 6:42 - 8:42 7:06 - 9:06 1:09 - 2:39 1:33 - 3:03 Fr 3 7:30 - 9:30 7:54 - 9:54 1:57 - 3:27 2:21 - 3:51 Sa 4 8:18 - 10:18 8:42 - 10:42 2:45 - 4:15 3:09 - 4:39 Su 5 9:06 - 11:06 9:30 - 11:30 3:33 - 5:03 3:57 - 5:27 Mo 6 9:54 - 11:54 10:18 - 12:18 4:21 - 5:51 4:45 - 6 ;15 Tu 7 10:42 - 12:42 11:06 - 1:06 FULL MOON 5:09 - 6:39 5:33 - 7:03 We 8 11:30 - 1:30 11:54 - 1:54 5:57 - 7:27 6:21 - 7:51 Th 9 NA 12:42 - 2:42 6:45 - 8:15 7:09 - 8:39 Fr 10 1:06 - 3:06 1:30 - 3:30 7:33 - 9:03 7:57 - 9:27 Sa 11 1:54 - 3:54 2:18 - 4:18 8:21 - 9:51 8:45 - 10:15 Su 12 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 DST 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Mo 13 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Tu 14 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 We 15 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Th 16 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Fr 17 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03 Sa 18 8:30 - 10:30 8:54 - 10:54 2:57 - 4:27 3:21 - 4:51 Su 19 9:18 - 11:18 9:42 - 11:42 3:45 - 5:15 4:09 - 5:39 Mo 20 10:06 - 12:06 10:30 - 12:30 4:33 - 6:03 4:57 - 6:27 Tu 21 NA 12:06 - 2:06 NEW MOON 6:09 - 7:39 6:33 - 8:03 We 22 12:30 - 2:30 12:54 - 2:54 6:57 - 8:27 7:21 - 8:51 Th 23 1:18 - 3:18 1:42 - 3:42 7:45 - 9:15 8:09 - 9:39 Fr 24 2:06 - 4:06 2:30 - 4:30 8:33 - 10:03 8:57 - 10:27 Sa 25 2:54 - 4:54 3:18 - 5:18 9:21 - 10:51 9:45 - 11:15 Su 26 3:42 - 5:42 4:06 - 6:06 10:09 - 11:39 10:33 - 12:03 Mo 27 4:30 - 6:30 4:54 - 6:54 10:57 - 12:27 11:21 - 12:51 Tu 28 5:18 - 7:18 5:42 - 7:42 NA 12:09 - 1:39 We 29 6:06 - 8:06 6:30 - 8:30 12:33 - 2:03 12:57 - 2:27 Th 30 6:54 - 8:54 7:18 - 9:18 1:21 - 2:51 1:45 - 3:15 Fr 31 7:42 - 9:42 8:06 - 10:06 2:09 - 3:39 2:33 - 4:03
February: The month to fall in love with roses
Cut roses, the most universal floral symbols of love, are perennial favorite gifts for Valentine’s Day, but if you’re looking for a truly perennial gift of love, consider the rose bush.
Roses, which fossil records indicate have existed for at least 35 million years, have stolen hearts since time immemorial. Charmed by their fragrant and flagrantly gorgeous blooms, humans began cultivating roses 5,000 or more years ago for use as ornamental and medicinal plants and to use their scents and flavors in perfumes, foods and drinks. Roses also took root in myths and legends and became symbols of love, passion, perfection, beauty and, depending on their color, other human emotions and qualities.
Today roses are the most popular flower bestowed on Valentine’s Day, which is why some 250 million cut roses flood the world market each February. Garden retailers also have an abundant supply of bare root and potted roses in stock ready for late winter and spring planting.
Thanks to eons of evolution and cultivation, that selection includes hundreds of rose species and thousands of rose hybrids encompassing a wealth of diversity in plant and bloom sizes, shapes, colors and forms. According to Alabama’s own Redneck Rosarian (AKA Chris VanCleave), that means everyone can find a rose to love.
VanCleave’s relationship with roses began when he was a child helping his mother tend her rose garden, which became a source of solace and therapy for them both after the sudden death of his father. VanCleave carried that sense of respite and refuge into adulthood and, combined with his a passion for creating fetching landscapes, he has become an internationally adored rose expert.
“In a hectic world, there is something therapeutic about digging in the soil and creating beautiful blooms for all to enjoy,” he said.
While roses are near and dear to VanCleave, some gardeners are wary of planting them because of their reputations as demanding, exacting plants, especially when it comes to managing disease issues. However, thanks to the many hardy, disease- and drought-resistance varieties now on the market, VanCleave said it’s easy to love—and grow—roses.
move on to growing relatively low-maintenance shrub and old garden roses (which produce multiple blooms per stem and come in many different bloom types), medium-maintenance floribunda roses (which also produce multiple blooms per stem and multiple bloom types) and higher-maintenance hybrid tea roses (the classic florist-type roses that produce a single rose per stem).
Can’t quite decide? Take some time this year to see roses growing in public gardens or attend rose shows and tours. (Alabama has five rose societies—Wiregrass, Gadsden, Huntsville Twickenham, Ramer and Birmingham— that hold annual rose shows, tours and other educational events.)
According to VanCleave, the key to success with roses, aside from planting them in a well-drained soil with access to sufficient sunlight, is to choose roses that match your level of time commitment. “The more time you have, the greater your success will be with roses that require more maintenance,” he said.
For novice or busy gardeners, that may mean starting with easy-care shrub roses such as Drift®, Knock Out® or OSO Easy® selections. “They basically need an annual haircut (pruning) and weekly watering if it doesn’t rain,” VanCleave said.
Gardeners focused on sustainable practices can look toward native and naturalized rose species or Earth-Kind® roses, a collection of roses selected by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service with the goal of reducing chemical and water use in the landscape.
As gardeners gain experience with roses, VanCleave said they can gradually
You can learn more about roses through VanCleave’s Rose Chat podcast and his website, RedneckRosarian.com. (He also appears quarterly on Birmingham’s Channel 6 Good Day Alabama program.) Information is also available through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, The American Rose Society, Heritage Rose Foundation and American Garden Rose Selections organizations.
And whether you plant them this year or not, you should definitely take time to appreciate—and smell—the roses that will be wooing and wowing us here in Alabama throughout the spring, summer and into the fall.
Plant dormant fruit and nut trees.
Plant shrubs, roses, hardy annual flowers and summer- and fall-blooming bulbs.
Prune hybrid tea roses and summerand fall-blooming shrubs.
Avoid pruning early blooming shrubs.
Sow seed or plant transplants for leafy greens, root crops and early peas.
Finish ordering summer vegetable and flower seed.
Begin prepping garden soil and equipment for the coming season.
28 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Gardens |
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When planting rose bushes, choose varieties that match your level of time commitment.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 29
When we first came up with the idea of “Decadent Desserts” for our February recipe pages, we assumed many of the recipes submitted would be for dishes made of chocolate. Apparently “decadent” doesn’t necessarily mean it must contain chocolate, but it does usually translate as rich and indulgent. We hope you enjoy trying these luscious dessert recipes, which ranged from those using caramel to butter to heavy whipping cream, and yes, cocoa, and of course, a fair amount of sugar. Whatever dessert you make for your Valentine, may you be rich in the things that can’t be cooked in a kitchen: the love of family and friends. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Alabama Living!
Blueberry Bread Pudding
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries (fresh is best but can use frozen )
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 package white chocolate baking chips
1 16-ounce loaf French bread, cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine eggs, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. Stir in blueberries and white chocolate chips. Stir in French bread cubes and let stand until bread is softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until knife in center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Laurie Myer Southern Pine EC
| Alabama Recipes |
Food styling and photos: Brooke Echols
Cook of the Month: Karen Turnquist, Cullman EC
Karen Turnquist of Vinemont enjoys sending us recipes every month, but she was especially happy to learn she’d won Cook of the Month honors for February. She lost her husband in December 2021, and the months since have been hard, she says. “I’m so happy to learn that I won,” she adds, “because he’s all I’ve had on my mind all year.” Karen got the recipe for Hummingbird Cake from her mother, who was an avid baker in Texas who baked the wedding cake for Karen and her late husband. “My mom baked all the time, and that cake was her wedding gift to us.” Karen remembers the first time she ate a piece of Hummingbird Cake: “I loved it, because of all that’s in it.” The cake, loaded with sugar, pecans, pineapple, bananas and topped with a cream cheese icing, is a favorite for special occasions. “It is rich,” she says. We’d agree, but that’s why it fit so perfectly into our February category of decadent desserts. If Karen’s name is familiar, it’s because she won first place in our Christmas Cookie Contest in 2021 for her “Big Soft Ginger Cookies.”
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1½ teaspoons oil
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
2 cups bananas, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, add beaten eggs and oil. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat; stir in vanilla, pineapple and pecans and bananas. Put in a well-greased and floured bundt pan. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 16-ounce package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine cream cheese and butter, add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Frost cake and sprinkle pecans on top. Refrigerate cake.
Deadline to enter March 3
More upcoming themes and deadlines:
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August: Pears | May 5
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Cook of the Month wins $50! Recipes can be developed by you or family members. You may even adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Chosen cooks may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 31
Black Forest Cake
1¾ cups white flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup oil
2 cups white sugar
½ cup white sugar
2½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups tart cherries (canned or frozen, if thawed first)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Whipped cream (homemade or store bought)
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
Mix the cake ingredients in a large bowl. Divide between two 8-inch cake pans. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes, then cool completely. Meanwhile, stir sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl until combined. Add cherries and toss. Stir in butter and almond extract. Set aside. Slice both 8-inch cakes in half horizontally. Place one onto a plate or stand, then drizzle the top with half of the chocolate syrup. Top with the other half of that cake round. Add on cherry filling (reserving 1/4 cup), spreading across top. Place another cake round on top of cherry filling. Drizzle with the remaining chocolate syrup. Top with the remaining cake round. Spread whipped cream over the entire cake. Use extra cherry filling to decorate top of cake.
Robin O'Sullivan Wiregrass EC
Peach and Pecan Custard Pie is certainly what tastes like a decadent dessert and we have it for every special occasion here at The Buttered Home. Trust me when I tell you that while a custard pie isn’t all that sweet, the addition of pecans and peaches take this custard to another level. It becomes everything we would want in a decadent pie: sweetness without heaviness! thebutteredhome.com.
Kay’s Caramel Cake
1 box Duncan Hines cake mix
Use one box of Duncan Hines golden cake mix. Bake as directed on the box. Makes 2 layers.
21/4 cups sugar, divided
¾ cup evaporated milk
11/4 sticks butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
Caramel Icing: Brown 1/4 cup sugar in heavy pan. Remove from the eye of the stove. Add butter and mix well. Then add 1 cup of sugar and mix well. Put back on the heated eye of the stove. Add evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Add another cup of sugar and let boil until a soft ball forms in ice water. (Soft boil stage on candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.) After reaching the soft ball stage, remove from heat and add 1/3 cup of powdered sugar and 1½ teaspoons of vanilla. Beat well with a whisk, about 10 minutes. When the icing starts to dry on top, start icing the cake. Ice the first layer edges before placing the 2nd layer on top of the first layer. Ice top and then edges. Cool cake at least 15 minutes and then remove from the pans. Recommended: use baking spray with flour to grease pans.
Peach and Pecan Custard Pie
½ cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups sliced peaches, fresh, frozen or canned
Pinch of salt
¾ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
¾ cup lowfat milk
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, milk, yogurt, eggs, flour, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Fit a standard pie plate with pie crust. Place all but a few peach slices and pecans, reserving some for the top, in the pie crust. Pour custard mixture over. Add reserved peaches and pecans directly to top of pie. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and tent edges if needed. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-60 minutes more until a knife comes out clean in the center after testing. Cool for one hour.
The Top 3 Considerations When Buying Hunting Land
By Ryan Stallings, Chief Commercial Lending Officer, Alabama ONE Credit Union
If you’re a hunter who has leased a piece of hunting land, you’ve probably considered buying your own. The right piece of hunting land will bring years of enjoyment and memories for you and your family. But it’s a big step, and you don’t want to make mistakes. If you’re thinking about buying hunting land, it is important to work through a few considerations before signing your name.
1. What is your purpose in buying land?
Do you want to use your new land only for hunting, or more? Do you want to create a weekend getaway with a hunting cabin or camp? Will you lease plots for extra income? All of these considerations impact the importance of location and accessibility, such as for ATVs, trucks, or heavy machinery, in your buying decision.
2. Do you have the right realtor?
Finding a land realtor who specializes in hunting land and who knows the area you’re looking in will benefit you immensely. Your realtor plays a vital role in helping you find, evaluate, and purchase the perfect property for you and your family. They should be someone who welcomes your questions and gives you thoughtful answers. If they brush off your questions or discourage you from asking questions instead of helping you learn, look elsewhere. Our Alabama ONE Ag Services TEAM works closely
with land realtors and will help you find the right fit.
3. Who are your neighbors?
When buying land, many people forget to look beyond the plot property lines. Your neighbors can have a significant impact on how you’ll need to manage your land. Walk the property lines to find out if there are any barking dogs, noisy neighbors, or busy roads. Do your neighbors hunt and, if so, what? Are they trophy hunting or filling their freezer? Some neighbors may object to hunting and take steps to disrupt it. The more closely in agreement you and your neighbors are, the less likely you are to have issues with each other down the road, which will make it easier for you to manage and enjoy your hunting land.
You’ll enjoy the right piece of hunting land for years to come, and it can be a place for generations of your family make memories. The three topics above are the key points to consider as you look for the right piece of land. However, these aren’t the only ones you should focus on. Visit our blog at alabamaone.org/huntingland to download a 10-point Hunting Land Score Card to help you evaluate each piece of property, or reach our dedicated Land & Ag Lending Team at 205-609-8338 for more information on financing land, agriculture, or equipment.
Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 33
The mayor and council of the city of Brundidge welcome you to stop by for a visit. Enjoy the unique small-town atmosphere of a community where everyone knows their neighbor.
Isabell Boyd Mayor Doug Holland District 1
Latisher Hall District 2
Margaret Ross District 3
Byron Gaynor District 4
Marilyn Rodgers District 5
SAEC wants to make your life a little easier
Convenient options to pay your energy bill!
SAEC partners with PayGo to provide an easy and convenient way for members to pay their bills — where you shop.
§ Make cash payments at participating retail locations, such as Dollar General, Family Dollar, CVS Pharmacy and Walmart.
§ Go to southaec.com and look for the link to a new checkout section of the site where you will enter your existing utility account number and obtain a unique barcode. You will need your barcode to make a payment.
§ Visit paygodemo.checkoutbypaygo.com/map to find a participating retailer near you.
For more information,
and follow our social media channels for updates. Remember to bring your barcode to make a payment! FEBRUARY 2023 35
My article last August discussed the need for a definitive plan if there is any hope of reducing carbon emissions from electric power plants. A forced, unplanned, uncoordinated movement to meet net-zero carbon emissions by any date will certainly result in unreliable electric service and higher costs for electric consumers.
Unfortunately, rolling blackouts in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s service area over Christmas break, and the resulting discussions and accusations, moved us closer to a chaotic, uncoordinated transition of the electric grid.
Like most electric utilities, TVA has maintained 99.999% power reliability for many years. However, the arctic blast that hit the southern U.S. resulted in very high electric usage and demand for TVA on Dec. 23-24. TVA had its third-highest all-time peak demand on Dec. 23 at 33,425 megawatts (MW)s.
As TVA’s demand grew, some of its coal-fired and natural gas generation units failed due to extreme weather-related conditions. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates TVA had more than 3,000 MWs unavailable because of outages and was as much as 7,000 MWs short of meeting its peak. Because of its inability to meet demand, TVA directed its local power distributors’ customers across its seven-state service area to cut 5% of their firm electric load for two hours on Dec. 23 and 10% for periods on Christmas Eve.
TVA announced an investigation of the problems that caused the capacity shortfalls. Preliminary indications are that cold temperatures and high winds damaged several of TVA’s protective structures at the Cumberland coal plant and several gas-fired combustion turbines used for peak periods. A directive to cut firm load is standard operating procedure for electric utilities facing a capacity deficiency.
Most of the TVA distributors have never experienced rolling blackouts, and the pushback TVA is receiving has been harsh on many fronts. As expected, the problem of failing coal and natural gas generators provided an opportunity for environmental groups to demand TVA move more quickly toward renewable energy.
Southern Environmental Law Center Tennessee Office Director Amanda Garcia stated: “(TVA)’s coal and gas plants failed us over the holiday weekend. People across the Tennessee Valley were forced to deal with rolling blackouts, even as temperatures plunged into the single digits. Despite this obvious failure, the federal utility is still planning to spend billions on building new gas plants and pipelines.”
In another widely quoted release, Amy Kelly, the Tennessee representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign,
stated: “Fossil fuels are not the answer.” Kelly urged TVA not to proceed with an environmental assessment to replace the Cumberland Fossil Plant with natural gas-fired combined cycle plants until the six new directors for the TVA board have had a chance to study the issue. She also stated: “TVA needs to step up its energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy offerings so it isn’t a tagalong, but a leader in the 21st Century.”
Ms. Garcia’s and Ms. Kelly’s statements and recommendations are the normal rhetoric indicative of their organizations, though they gained traction because of TVA’s December difficulties. But, they are just wrong.
Some years ago, the majority of TVA’s generation fleet was coal-fired. It is now just 19% coal and 26% natural gas. Retired coal generation was replaced by natural gas and renewables – primarily solar. While a portion of TVA’s fossil generation failed in December, its renewables – aside from hydro – were non-existent. TVA’s generation problem is not that it hasn’t replaced enough fossil-fired generation with renewables, but too much. And now, the Sierra Club and the SELC, through Ms. Garcia and Ms. Kelly, want less fossil-fired generation and more renewables.
Amanda Garcia is a SELC environmental lawyer, whose career has been centered on litigating environmental matters. Amy Kelly is a community developer and organizer with the Sierra Club, whose primary career has focused on environmental activism. They have no utility experience. Their recommendations are pure nonsense to people who operate electric utility systems. We know how silly it is to shut down generation that can be dispatched when needed (despite the inevitable operating difficulties of all machines) and replace it with intermittent renewables. To think that TVA could have covered its December demand with more renewables is beyond absurd.
The world will never be completely powered by renewable energy. It is too intermittent, and solar and batteries do not support the rotating mass of the electric grid. A serious plan that protects electric reliability and affordability, not biased, uninformed rhetoric from environmental activists, needs to be the focus of a seamless transition to a more carbon-constrained electric generation fleet.
This environmentalist position reminds me of the lyrics to a Ryan Bingham song, The Poet.
And as I keep walkin’
People keep a-talkin’
About things they’ve never seen or done
Without a serious plan free of uninformed rhetoric, the Christmas Eve rolling blackouts are our future.
I hope you have a good month.
36 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Our Sources Say |
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
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Alabama Living FEBRUARY 2023 37 | Classifieds |
Reflections on downsizing
The dogs didn’t know what to think.
There we were, packing up stuff and carrying it out.
They were certain that we were going somewhere and they feared they would be left behind.
But we weren’t leaving.
We were downsizing.
It all started back when we cleaned out my deceased parents’ house. As load after load of “stuff” went to the dumpster, my wife noted that when we got home, we should do the same, so that our children would not have to face the task we were facing.
Though it was pleasant to imagine irritating my children even after I had passed on to my reward, I kept quiet and hoped that she would drop the idea.
Not long after we got back, the downsizing began.
We started with my books.
For a teacher, which is what I was mostly, books are our life blood. We read them. From them we get the ideas and information that we use to dazzle students and colleagues.
But I was retired. There were no more lectures, no more colleagues or students to dazzle.
So, we (she?) decided that if a book has not been consulted in the last year, out it goes.
Not to the trash, but to some organization’s rummage sale. There it will be bought by someone who, in the fullness of time, will donate it as I was doing.
Onward I went; and as I dug deeper, I realized that the hoarding gene that afflicted my parents was passed on to me.
Daddy saved National Geographic. I saved Smithsonian.
I also saved manuscripts of my books and articles, as well as the notes that were the basis on which the books and articles were written. Reams of paper revealing the process which turned the blank page into a rough draft into the finished product, which was duly sent to the publisher.
Will someone, one day, want to study how I did it, just as today scholars study manuscripts left behind by literary giants like Faulkner and Hemingway?
Quickly our recycle bin filled and we had to borrow our neighbor’s. What was not recyclable was black-bagged for the trash.
At last it was done.
Then I was left to reflect on what was gone and what remained. So much of it could have, maybe should have, been thrown out long ago, but throwing out is hard – until you get started.
Once begun, it gets harder and harder to stop.
I hope our children appreciate what we have done. You think?
38 FEBRUARY 2023 www.alabamaliving.coop | Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustration by Dennis Auth
Wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day!