Pea River Electric Cooperative
A garden with no rules The Southâ€™s red menace
2/15/13 8:17 AM
2â€ƒ MARCH 2013
Vol. 66 No. 3 March 2013
Randy Brannon Co-Op Editor
Laura Thornton 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 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.
Alabama Rural Electric Association
AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Melissa Henninger Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Michael Cornelison Advertising director Adam Freeman Advertising Coordinator Brooke Davis Recipe Editor Mary Tyler Spivey ADVERTISING & EDITORIAL OFFICES:
340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.areapower.coop NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE:
National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 www.nationalcountrymarket.com www.alabamaliving.coop USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311
10 Tax Time.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to prepare your tax returns. Our Social Security expert answers your questions.
12 Deep South pain
Long summers, mild winters, and ample access to water and food make our state a happy home for fire ants. But most of us are not at all receptive to these invaders.
ON THE COVER: Jim Scott’s ever-evolving gardens on the shores of Lake Martin don’t play by the rules of traditional gardening. BY: RHONDA GOODE
16 Going green
Whether you’re Irish or not, March 17 is a fine time to celebrate all things Irish and Alabama has its share of events commemorating St. Patrick.
Spotlight 10 Power Pack 18 Alabama Gardens 21 Fish&Game Forecast 22 Alabama Outdoors 30 ConsumerWise 32 Worth the Drive 34 Cook of the Month 46 Alabama Snapshots 9
Printed in America from American materials
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Making Life Better
P.O. Box 969 Ozark, AL 36361 (334) 774-2545 phone (334)774-2548 fax
Randy Brannon Manager of Pea River Electric Cooperative
Board of Trustees Braxton Green President• District 8
334-775-8514 Billy Wayne Danzey Vice-President •District 4
334-726-9836 Bill Strickland Secretary • District 3
334-795-6614 Lee Grantham District 1
334-598-4554 Lee Peters District 2
334-685-2018 Lowell Bristow District 5
334-696-4392 Wayne Money District 6
334-585-5564 Ed Jones District 7
334-762-2258 James Miller District 9
In case of power outages, you may call 24 hours a day: 1-800-264-7732
What would make life better in our service territory? I’m not talking about winning the lottery—that only makes life better for one person or a small group. But more jobs? Better health care? Improved parks? Those are areas that benefit everyone.
Pea River Electric is more than a power provider. We’re proof that when folks unite with a single focus, we can bring dreams to reality.
Pea River Electric exists to power communities and empower you, our members, to improve your quality of life. The cooperative business model offers the perfect tool for tackling tasks too big for one person to handle alone. But we need a common purpose to effectively wield the power of cooperation. Think about the impact electricity made in rural areas 75 years ago. Women lived longer because they no longer had to work from dusk to dawn at backbreaking chores. Farm production jumped. Things like running water, lights and stored food were possible—and with those leaps, our ancestors’ lives were given new opportunities.
A few of you may remember our beginnings from your younger days—you know full well the power of neighbors uniting behind a common purpose. But the vast majority doesn’t remember when this area rolled up its sleeves and worked together to get the lights on. Back when life was hard—before cooperation changed the landscape of the communities we serve. Does that mean we don’t need a cooperative anymore? Is our job done? Are there no challenges, no roadblocks to a brighter future for our children? What’s next for us? To be honest, that’s up to you. Pea River Electric is more than a power provider. We’re proof that when folks unite with a single focus, we can bring dreams to reality. Our purpose—powering this community and empowering you, our members—can make life better for all of us. You, our members, have the power to enact change—all with a little cooperation. So think about it—what’s important to you? What would make life better? Please tell us what you’re working on to improve the quality of life. We’re here to support your efforts, and we want to know how we can help bring people with common needs and interests together. Remember, electric co-ops can be a mechanism you use to make life better. We exist today because co-op members like yourself 75 years ago believed they could turn darkness into daylight. As we celebrate 75 years of service, we look forward to working together with you.
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Pea River EC
Clear the air for efficient heating & cooling Clogged air filters could add $82 to your electric bill every year. Checking, changing, or cleaning your filter once a month saves money and extends the life of your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. More than half of your monthly energy bill goes toward keeping your home comfortable. While air filters prevent pesky dust and annoying allergens from clogging your HVAC system, dirt, like aging arteries, builds up over time. If left unchecked, a dirty filter strains a home’s heart and forces the HVAC system to work harder to push conditioned air through tight spaces. This results in higher energy bills and—potentially— system failure. Filter Facts Air filters protect HVAC systems and perform doubleduty by collecting some lose dirt from the air. These handy sieves live in duct system slots or in return grilles of central air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps. Successful filters have a short lifespan—the better a filter catches dirt, the faster is gets clogged and must be cleaned or replaced. Leaving a dirty air filter in place cuts a home’s air quality and reduces HVAC system airflow. While removing a clogged filter altogether relieves pressure on the system, the system can’t perform well without one. Unfiltered dust and grime accumulate on critical parts like the evaporator coil, causing unnecessary wear and tear.
Monthly Check-up The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises checking an air filter once a month and replacing it at least every three months. It’s critical to inspect and replace filters before seasons of heavy use like summer and winter.
If you have pets or smokers in the home, filters clog quickly. Remodeling projects or furniture sanding add more dirt than normal; a filter may need to be changed before the average threemonth lifespan expires. Turn your heating and cooling system off before checking your filter. Slide the filter out of your duct work, and look for layers of hair and dirt. Run
a finger across the filter. If the finger comes away dirty or there’s a line left on the filter, it’s time for a change. When replacing the filter, make sure the arrow on the filter indicating the direction of the airflow points toward the blower motor. To help schedule monthly check-ups, write the date on the side of the filter so you know when it needs to be checked again. Once you’ve made the change, turn your system back on. Once you find a filter that works well in your home, it’s a good idea to keep spare filters on hand. Basic filters cost anywhere from $2 to $10; electrostatic filters may range from $18 to $25. More Efficiency Boosters Before summer hits, clean cooling system coils inside and outside the home. Leaves, dirt, and other debris gather around a home’s air conditioner throughout fall and winter months. These intruders keep the coils from operating at top efficiency, both shortening the lifespan of the unit and raking up summer cooling bills. Just as clogged air filters force your system to work harder, blocked vents strain your system. Clean air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators. Make sure air ducts are not blocked by furniture, rugs, or window treatments. Want more ways to save? Take the home energy savings tour and see how little changes add up to big savings at www.TogetherWeSave.com.
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Dividing Lines What makes electric cooperatives different from other types of utilities lies in their core mission Because Pea River EC is a cooperative, Alabama Living often refers to “the cooperative difference.” The differences between electric co-ops and other electric utilities range from the nomenclature used—co-ops serve “members” or “consumers,” not “customers”—to the business model itself. For example, electric co-ops operate on a not-for-profit basis. Revenues above operating costs, called “margins,” are returned to members in the form of capital credits. In the U.S., there are two other kinds of not-for-profit electric providers: public utility districts (PUDs) and public power districts (PPDs). There are also
as being not-for-profit. But while cooperatives choose directors/trustees from the membership (those served by the co-op) and are required by state law to hold annual membership meetings, PUDs and PPDs are local government units—similar to school districts—and are not required to hold annual meetings or allocate capital credits. In addition, their directors (commissioners in the case of PUDs) are elected on the state ballot. Candidates only need to reside within the PPD/PUD’s boundaries to serve on a board; they do not have to receive power from the utility. Federal assistance to electric co-ops comes in the form of low-interest loans from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), formerly the Rural Electrification Administration. Based on current interest rates, RUS loans actually make money for the federal government—about $274 million in fiscal year 2012. Aside from aidPowerSouth’s Charles R. Lowman Power Plant Located in Leroy, Ala. ing in constructwo other types of electric utilities: city- tion of critical infrastructure that keeps owned municipal electric systems and electric service reliable and electric rates profit-driven investor-owned utilities. affordable, RUS financing remains imIn every case, utilities receive financial portant because household incomes in assistance from the federal government co-op service territories run about 11 in some fashion. Following is a look at percent lower than the national average. each. Co-ops serve an average of 7.4 consumers per mile of line, over which Cooperatives, PUDs, PPDs they collect annual revenue of about Electric cooperatives are joined by $14,900. Nationally, electric co-ops pay public power districts—located exclu$1.4 billion in state and local taxes each sively in Nebraska—and public utility year. districts (all in the Pacific Northwest)
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Municipal electric systems Municipal electric systems are distribution utilities owned by a city, borough, or other incorporated community. As public entities, they can levy taxes, issue government bonds, and adopt and enforce rules and regulations. Not-for-profit municipals serve the most consumers per mile of line, an average of 48, and collect an average of $113,301 per mile of line. The federal government subsidies municipals, too—when cities or boroughs issue tax-exempt bonds, interest paid to bond owners is not taxed. The cost of this benefit in 2003 (the last year data is available) was $909 million, or $55 per consumer. Investor-owned utilities Investor-owned utilities, or IOUs, are governed by and generate profits for shareholders (stock owners) who do not necessarily live in the utility’s service area. IOUs average 34 customers and $75,498 in revenue per mile of line. In virtually every case, IOUs charge electric rates that include amounts for presumed federal tax liabilities. However, available tax breaks (investment tax credits and accelerated depreciation) allow IOUs to retain most of the taxes collected, a total of roughly $107 billion to date. At a cost to the government of $4.6 billion in 2010, this federal subsidy to IOUs works out to about $44 per customer. Back to the cooperative difference Pea River EC is here to provide affordable, reliable, environmentally responsible electric power. But at the core, it’s really about improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. That’s the main difference—the cooperative difference. www.alabamaliving.coop
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Pea River EC
March 3-9 Is Severe Storm Preparedness Week hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Once the storm has passed, it does not mean that the danger has passed. Never touch downed power lines or objects in contact with those lines. Just because power lines are damaged does not mean that they are dead. Stay away, and instruct others to do the same. Other considerations after the storm: II If you are inspecting your home in the dark, use a flashlight rather than a candle or some other open flame to avoid the risk of fire or explosion due to a gas leak. II Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are under water. The water could be energized.
March 3-9 is National Severe Storm Preparedness Week. It is a good time to make plans with your family to be ready for any foul weather that might come your way. Assemble necessary supplies for a potential outage. Your emergency preparedness kit should include items such as water, food, flashlight, batteries, blankets, and a first aid kit. A full list of suggested items can be found at SafeElectricity.org. The National Weather Service also recommends that you: Know the county you are located in and nearby towns and cities. Warnings are issued by county and reference major cities.
watch for signs of an approaching storm. II Turn on a weather radio or an AM/FM radio for information if a storm is approaching. II Stay inside if you know a storm is headed your way. The best policy is to plan ahead so you do not get caught outside in a storm. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining, even if you do not see clouds. This means that if you can
II If you see frayed wiring or sparks or if there is an odor of something burning, shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you know how and can do so safely. II If you smell gas, or suspect a leak, get out of the house. Call 911, and notify your gas utility immediately. Take the time to prepare now, and pay attention to weather alerts to keep your family safe. Find more information on electrical and severe weather safety at SafeElectricity.org.
II Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means there is the possibility of storms. A warning means a storm has been reported or is imminent and you should take cover. II Keep an eye on the forecast, and Alabama Living
Photo by Mark Stephenson
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Pea River EC
Scholarship Opportunity for Graduating Seniors! Are you a high school senior who is graduating this spring? Are you a dependent of a member of our local cooperative? If so, you are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Electric Cooperative Foundation. Your local cooperative has joined other cooperatives throughout the state of Alabama to create the Electric Cooperative Foundation. This spring the foundation will be awarding scholarships across Alabama for students to continue their education at post-secondary and vocational schools. For more details about these scholarships, obtain a copy of an Electric Cooperative scholarship application from your high school guidance counselor or call: Laura Thornton Pea River Electric Cooperative 800-264-7732 Donâ€™t wait; applications with all required attachments must be received no later than March 15, 2013.
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Festival of Art set for Orange Beach The town of Orange Beach is gearing up for four days of arts activities in connection with the 2013 Orange Beach Festival of Art this month. The festival takes place the second weekend in March every year on the campus of the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach and the adjacent Waterfront Park. The campus and park are bordered on the north by Wolf Bay, which is part of the Intracoastal Canal. The ASAP Theatre Troupe kicks off the fun with a The Orange Beach Festival of Art will feature a kid’s art alley. production of “Seussical Jr.,” on Thursday, March 7, at the Orange Beach Event Center at The Wharf. Tickets will go on sale at 3 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the production begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will perform Friday, March 8, at the Wharf. Doors open at 5 p.m., with the performance at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50, which includes dinner catered by Cosmo’s. Tickets may be purchased online at www.obfoa.com. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Founded in 1961, the band has traveled worldwide to spread their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans jazz. On Saturday and Sunday, the Festival of Art continues with a fine arts and craft show, a music and songwriters stage, performing arts stage, kid’s art alley, author’s alley and culinary court, all open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Coastal Art Center. Public parking will be available at the Wharf. Shuttle service will be provided by Baldwin Rural Area Transportation System (BRATS). For more information, visit www.obfoa.com or call (251)981-4114. Alabama Living
March 22 and 23
Rattlesnake rodeo set for March 22, 23 The 53rd annual Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo will be March 22 and 23 at Channell-Lee Stadium in Opp. The gates open at 3 p.m. on Friday with Little Texas performing at 8 p.m. There will also be snake shows, food, arts and crafts and other entertainment. Gates will open at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 23, with Steel Magnolia performing at 8 p.m., as well as snake shows, snake races, a greasy pole climb contest, buck dancing contest and other entertainment. Children under 6 are admitted free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.rattlesnakerodeo.com.
Cancer Foundation announces ‘Evening with Eli Manning’ The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama will host “An Evening with Eli Manning” with presenting sponsor Baptist Health on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Renaissance Montgomery Convention Center. The event with the New York Giants Manning quarterback will benefit the Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama (CWFCA). There will be a VIP reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and an auction at 7 p.m. For information on tickets, sponsorships or The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama visit www. cancerwellnessfoundation.org. Since its incorporation in Montgomery in 1997, CWFCA has provided support and educational services to address the needs of cancer patients and their families in a 33-county area of central Alabama. MARCH 2013 9
Social Security and tax time By Kylle’ McKinney April’s showers bring more than just May’s flowers — they also bring the deadline day for filing taxes. Don’t wait until the showers arrive to prepare for tax season. Whether you are a small business owner, a retiree, or a new parent, here are some Social Security tax tips that may help you. Are Social Security benefits taxable? They are for some people. About one third of those receiving benefits must pay taxes on some of their Social Security. If your total income, including Social Security and all of your other taxable income, is $25,000 or more and you file federal taxes as an individual, you’ll need to pay federal taxes on some of your benefits. (That amount is $32,000 for married couples filing a joint return.) Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits? Yes. In fact, you should have already received it. Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA1099) for tax year 2012 were mailed to beneficiaries and should have been received by January 31, 2013. If you receive Social Security and haven’t received your 1099, you can request one online at www.socialsecurity.gov/1099.
We had our first child in 2012. Does our baby need a Social Security Number? Yes. Most people apply for their baby’s Social Security number while they’re still McKinney in the hospital at the same time they apply for the birth certificate. But if you didn’t, you’ll need to apply for your child’s Social Security number in order to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return. You’ll also need it if you ever apply for government benefits on behalf of the child or your family. Learn more about Social Security cards and numbers at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. I changed my name when I got married last year. Do I need to report it to Social Security? Yes. If you’ve legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, court order, or for any other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security, as well as with your employer. If you change with one source but not the other, it could cause your earnings to be improperly recorded. That could result in you not getting all the benefits you earned when you become eligible for Social Security in the future. You can learn more about your Social Security number and how to change your name at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
I own a small business. Can I report the W-2s of my employees online to Social Security? Yes, and we encourage you to do so at www.socialsecurity. gov/bso. Filing your W-2s electronically is free, fast, and secure! Plus there’s an added bonus: when you file electronically, you receive an extra month to file because electronically filed W-2s aren’t due until March 31. You’ll also receive an electronic acknowledgement receipt. And when you file electronically, you can print out your W-2s for your employees. Does Social Security have any advice to make tax filing and future benefit applications go smoothly? We encourage you to carefully check your name, Social Security number and all of the data on your W-2s, your online Social Security Statement, and Social Security card to make sure they all match. If you don’t have access to your card or Statement but know your Social Security number, make sure the number and information is correct on your W-2s. If you do notice an error, you should contact Social Security at 1-800-7721213, or if the information on the W-2 is incorrect, notify your employer. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs specialist, can be reached in Montgomery at 866-593-0914, ext. 26265, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
‘Muscle Shoals sound’ is spotlight of documentary “Muscle Shoals,” a new documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, highlights the North Alabama town that had a major impact on musical acts during the 1960s and 70s like the Rolling Stones, Gregg Allman, the Swampers, Bono, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and many more. Music recorded in the town of Muscle Shoals, located by the Tennessee River, or the “Singing River,” as Native Americans called it, sold many millions of records. 10 MARCH 2013
Various artists recorded during this time in a handful of music studios, including Rick Hall’s FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The documentary features interviews with a wide array of artists and never-before-seen footage. The trailer is available to view online at www.al.com/entertainment/ index.ssf/2013/01/muscle_shoals_ documentary_debu.html. At right: The poster for the new documentary, “Muscle Shoals.”
Invasive plants can be trouble if uncontrolled The proliferation of nonnative invasive plants can have serious repercussions if left uncontrolled. They can negatively impact forest and agriculture production, resulting in significant economic losses; be poisonous to livestock; limit access to Like many other states, Alabama’s woodlands and waterways areas on land and water; and displace native plants resulting in have been under siege for years by an unforgiving enemy that decreased native floral and faunal diversity. In fact, nonnative has an endless battalion of ominous allies. If that statement species are considered a responsible factor in the decline of makes you concerned, it should. There are more than 50 spe- many threatened and endangered species by altering habitats, cies of invasive plants that have been documented in Alabama, second only to habitat loss. To control the spread of nonnasome of which have the potential tive invasives, it is up to landowners to forever change Alabama’s landand land managers to take the reins scapes. Only in recent years have and make proactive efforts. There the significant negative impacts are many sources of information been recognized by those outside concerning the identification and the scientific field. recommended control practices of A nonnative plant is one that harmful invasives including the Inhas most likely been introduced by ternet, agencies such as the Natural humans, either deliberately or acciResources Conservation Service, dentally, and is a species living outthe Alabama Forestry Commisside its native range. An invasive sion, the Alabama Department is an introduced nonnative that is one nonnative plant that has spread in of Conservation and Natural Rebecomes a pest in its new location Cogongrass Alabama. sources, the Alabama Cooperative and is likely to cause economic or environmental damages. Introductions have occurred through Extension System and universities. Private citizens can also asthings such as erosion control plantings, ornamental propa- sist by joining proactive groups such as the Alabama Invasive gations, and by seeds and plants on shipping containers. In Plant Council to become better educated about invasive plants many cases, once established, invasives become very difficult and to disseminate this information to others. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Reto extricate and are typically associated with a high cost, both financially and ecologically. Examples of some invasive plants sources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment include kudzu, Chinese privet, cogongrass, multiflora rose and of Alabama’s natural resources. To learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com. tallowtree. By Keith Gauldin Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
New Forever stamp honoring Rosa Parks unveiled By Marilyn Jones More than 200 men, women and children, including members of Rosa Parks’ family, gathered in Montgomery to unveil a commemorative stamp in honor of the late Rosa Parks on what would Courtesy U.S. Postal Service have been her The new com100th birthday on memorative stamp in honor of Rosa Parks February 4. was unveiled in Troy University Montgomery Feb. 4. was the site of a celebration and unveiling of the stamp Alabama Living
featuring Parks’ image. The Forever Stamp, which equals the value of a FirstClass Mail one-ounce price, features a portrait of Parks emphasizing her quiet strength. The event, hosted by Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum in historic downtown Montgomery, took place at the site of her Dec. 1, 1955, arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. The arrest served as a catalyst for the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted more than a year. In 1956, in a related case, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that segregating Montgomery buses was unconstitutional. Although she became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation and collaborated with civil rights lead-
ers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she also suffered for her act and was fired from her job as a seamstress in a local department store. According to Postal Service Customer Relations Coordinator Sandy Scott, many of Parks’ friends were on hand to share their memories of Parks. “When I asked her friend and co-worker, Mineola Dozier Smith about Rosa Parks, the 92-year-old said, ‘She was the sweetest lady I ever met. You would never expect her to take the stand she did. To her it was all about the children.’ “Neighbor and friend Reverend Robert Graetz, whose house was bombed three times because he was a white minister in a black congregation, described her as simply ‘extraordinary,’” said Scott. MARCH 2013 11
as Play Jim Scott’s Lake Martin garden has no rules, except to enjoy
By Katie Jackson
“I don’t have to live by a plan and it is kind of fun being random. You surprise your own self...” – Jim Scott 12 march 2013
ardening is hard work but it can and spruced up the area and, sure enough, also be about play. Just ask Jim parishioners began to use the space for Scott, who has proven that break- weddings and other events, which led ing rules and having fun with a garden can the Scotts to further develop the grounds result in something amazing. around the church. He focused on the Scott is the owner and creator of a pri- woody plants, Vivian focused on the pevate garden on the shores of Lake Martin rennials and the couple literally dug into that is quirky, playful, ever-evolving and the project…so much so that they were has drawn attention from across the na- often identified as “he’s the man in the tion, maybe even world, perhaps because bushes and she’s the woman in the bed.” it doesn’t play by the rules of traditional Their gardening appetites whetted, the gardening. Scotts then found themScott, a Montgomery selves with a new project—the land around their attorney and award-winnewly built lake house. ning garden writer, beShortly after the house gan his lakeside playland was completed a tornado nearly 15 years ago, but blew through the area. his interest in gardening The house was relatively was first kindled several unscathed, but the storm years before as he was situprooted and felled most ting in a Sunday service at of the trees on their steep Grace Episcopal Church wooded lot. When those in Mount Meigs, Ala., a were removed the Scotts church his family has atwere left with a bare, mudtended for eight generady hillside. tions. “The sermon that day A big-as-life chess board, one of “It’s kind of like that was boring,” he says, so his many of Scott’s garden surprises. ‘Bobby McGee’ song— eyes and mind wandered freedom’s just another out the window to a summerhouse that he word for nothing left to lose,” Scott says. “I and his brother had built on the church thought that ‘you couldn’t hurt anything.” grounds in memory of their mother. He So, with the help of a local landscaper and noticed that the area around the summer- rock mover, Ricky Pope, Scott brought in house was a tangle of blackberry vines, “so boulders and turned the gully that ran I thought it would be cool to have a little down the hill into a waterfall, the first of lawn there.” several water features that are integral to Scott and his late wife, Vivian, cleaned the garden today. www.alabamaliving.coop
Scott then began adding to the garden, and also the land holdings, around the lake house and the garden began to evolve with really no grand plan for the space, only imagination at play.
“There are plants that everyone in Montgomery can grow and I can’t,” he says. “But I’ve also had success with things that everyone says you can’t grow. I don’t believe I can’t grow anything unless I have killed it twice myself (a philosophy Scott adopted Imagination has been plentiful. from the acclaimed North Carolina horticulturist J.C. Raulston). “There is not a lack of ideas,” Scott says. But sometimes I just have to admit…that the For each project Scott has completed there are girl doesn’t love me.” probably 50 others in the till, some of which Truth is, Scott rarely plays by the rules in he describes as “really cool but just too weird.” any aspect of his garden, a liberty he can take In fact, sometimes the challenge for Scott is because he is not a professional landscape deto control his creative enthusiasm. “It’s like signer or horticulturist. While he admires and someone putting a gnome out in their yard fully appreciates the effort and thought that go and they like it, so they put out 200 gnomes into formal, planned gardens, he usually does and it looks like hell. Sometimes I have to dethe exact opposite. gnome myself.” “I don’t have to live by a plan and it is kind Actually, the ideas themselves, which Scott of fun being random. You surprise your own sketches out when inspiration strikes, seem self. And I can change something tomorrow to self-regulate and find their own expression and no one will fuss at me,” he says. once they are put into action. “Often what I The result is that his garden is a self-prohave drawn never ends up like it started. It fessed “jumble” comprised of lots of little arinforms and clarifies itself in the process: One eas, each with a distinct personality and mood. thing suggests another. I never had anything Stone steps lead to a quiet grassy Some are quirky, others extravagant, still others end up the way it started.” intimate. Some provide a spot for quiet meditalanding. The ideas are also informed by the land and tion, others a place for playing with noisy abanclimate of his site and Scott has learned to let both help dictate his don, still others a space for gathering together groups for meals design and plant selection, at least to some degree. Through trial or swims or even overnight stays. The paths in the garden wind and twist just enough that a visitor and error, he has figured out which plants work or where they fit best in a microclimate within the garden. That does not stop him can’t see, but can anticipate, what is around the next corner, which Scott feels provides that balance of tension and relief—wildness and from trying anything he likes, though. Plants frame one of the many grottos and serene features that can be found around every corner of Scott’s garden. Greek-themed statuary (inset) adds a whimsical touch. Photo by Tim goode
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civilization—that any good garden, or any good book or piece of ment-only visits from educational groups of 20 or more on weekdays when he and his family are not at the lake. music for that matter, offers. Allowing visitors at the garden actually has a direct benefit And the garden is truly experienced only by wandering those paths and elevated walkways that lead to such surprises as a chil- for Scott. “The beauty of having other people come through dren’s castle, a big-as-life chess board, a secret room behind a your garden is that all you ever see is what is wrong with it and waterfall, a wine cellar tucked into the side of the hill, whimsical when somebody else says it looks good you realize it does. It is signage and sculptures, a rope swing and zip line and many spots a pleasure seeing it through other people’s eyes.” to sit and think or relish a meal or glass of wine. And, of course, But he also hopes a visit to his garden provides a message to all of this is tucked among a huge array of plants that Scott—in visitors as they contemplate their own garden spaces. Regardless a nod toward some of the amount of land, degree of planning— money or time people tries to ensure will have, Scott thinks anyone can create a garden provide something of playground if they will a show from March let their imagination till late October or have some fun and be early November. willing to take some There are unifying elements in all risks. these spots, such as “My garden does the sound or sight of not look like most other gardens and I think water throughout the the fact that you can garden and a subtle just make it up—that Greek theme among a garden doesn’t have the garden sculptures to look like a garden— and architecture. But and that someone who it is the cumulative doesn’t know a thing effect of each of these about gardening can elements and the spaces they inhabit that Statuary like this cherub can be found throughout the gardens. do it is good for people make it special. to know.” Photo by Robin Lea Bradford “A lot of gardens The other thing are a view of a space,” about Scott’s garden is Scott says, but while that it is still evolving. those views may be Not only does Scott lovely, he wonders: have new projects under way and several Are they used? “What waiting in the wings I built at the lake is to begin, which will not so much a garden be completed with the as an experience of help of Hilltop Landspace through time. scaping from AlexanIt accumulates. I think der City, Ala., as well as you go through as his on-site hortimy garden it is not culturists and caretakthat any one thing is ers, Jeannie and Chris, particularly nice, but some of the original strung together it is a landscaping there is pleasant experience.” “I think my garden One of the waterfalls Scott created throughout his gardens as a unifying element; due for a makeover and update, which says there aren’t any the boulders were brought in from other locations. Photo by Tim goode rules here,” he adds. “It is really just a nicely silly garden and it Scott embraces as “an opportunity—or an excuse—to do somesays ‘don’t take yourself too seriously’ and ‘there is nothing to be thing different.“ Through the process and evolution of this non-garden garden, uptight about here.’” The attention his garden has received—and it has received Scott, his family and friends will continue to play in that space lots of attention regionally and nationally (featured in Fine and enjoy it as more than a beautiful view. Perhaps he will also Gardening magazine and on HGTV, for example)—is, Scott inspire others to do the same with their own spaces, turning the thinks, also an indication that the public needs access to more hard work of gardening into play…and maybe even breaking a good private gardens. few rules in the process. That’s one reason that Scott generously allows some public To book a tour of Jim Scott’s gardens, contact Jeannie Curtis at access to his garden, though he limits that access to by-appoint- firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-740-2091. A 14 march 2013
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 15
bring the pain in the Deep South By Emmett Burnett
n the 1930s a South American cargo ship docked at the Port of Mobile and launched an attack. Stowaways disembarked the vessel - fire ants, ruthless warriors, ready for battle, united by their battle hymn, “Of Thee I Sting.” Today, the red menace occupies every Southern state and is moving north. But no matter how far the range, fire ants never forgot their “Heart of Dixie” roots. “Alabama has everything it loves,” says Dr. Jim Fredericks of the National Pest Management Association in Fairfax, Va. “Long summers, mild winters, and ample access to water and food make a fire ant’s happy home.” And what a home it is. “Ant bed” is a misnomer. This is a fortress. The average fire ant mound is about a foot tall and the diameter of a dinner plate. From the outside it’s a peaceful little soil dome. Inside packs more residents than football fans at Bryant-Denny and Jordan Hare stadiums combined. A mound’s population can be 100 to 300 thousand. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. The colony extends up to five feet underground. It is an architectural marvel of catacombs, residential dwellings, cafeterias and nurseries. There are babies to tend (larvae). Nursery workers will move the infants up and down the subterranean structure depending on the days’ weather. In cooler temperatures, nursery workers raise the kids toward the surface for warmth. In warmer weath-
16 march 2013
er, the youngsters are lowered deeper into the nest for coolness. Scouts leave at sunrise in search of food. “The oldest ants are scouts,” notes Stephen Gates, director of technical services for Cook’s Pest Control in Decatur. “They figure, if the old guys don’t come back, they are expendable.” Young adults stay to work and protect the home. There are housekeepers, keeping the place immaculately clean. Vigilant soldiers patrol the premises, in search of danger or a wayward beetle. The queen is busy too, laying about 1,200 eggs a day. Fire ant nation is a model of efficiency. Thousands of tiny citizens live in harmony, working together for the common good. And none of them like you. But with so much labor and care put into a fire ant colony, it’s no wonder tempers flare when you step on it. “If you were sitting in your living room and suddenly a giant stepped on the roof, crushing it, you’d probably be pretty agitated too,” adds Gates. “And they will retaliate.” Most Alabamians have suffered a fire ant’s wrath. The attack is a one-two punch of bite and sting. “A bite comes first,” notes Dr. Fredericks. “The ant latches to your skin with powerful mandibles (an insects’ mouth). But the bite only serves to provide anchorage and leverage.” The worst is yet to come.
Home remedies can’t totally eradicate fortress-like fire ant mounds, experts say.
Upon seizing you in its jaws, the fire ant is locked and loaded. It then punctures you with the infamous stinger and injects venom. “It is the venom that causes the pain,” warns Fredericks. Swollen red bumps on a person’s skin are not from the bite; it’s the body’s reaction to injected poison. “The best defense is to brush them off of you as fast as you can,” adds Gates. “Fire ants respond to vibration. Slapping at them, it triggers attack mode.” There are several home remedies for eliminating ant beds, though most don’t work. One popular solution suggests pouring grits on the mound. In theory ants eat it and their little tummies explode. Unfortunately, if any ant tummies do explode it’s from laughter as they play in the grits rain. Another “cure” is to pour gasoline on the nest. It may kill a few ants but the rest will smell the fumes and escape to start a new colony. In the meantime you’ve ruined your yard and possibly contaminated the water table. Experts agree the best treatment for heavy infestations is from professionals. Most homeowners concentrate on destroying the 8- to 12-inch tall anthill, not thinking of the thousands bunkered below. “Kicking the mound never works,” says Gates. As the sun sets today in Alabama, fire ants settle in for the night. Baby larvae are tucked in, workers rest, and guards make shift change. The battle continues tomorrow. A
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Get the jump on garden pests Spring is here and so is gardening season, which means it’s time to start thinking about what will bug you in the coming months By Katie Jackson
nsects can be both a curse and a blessing in the garden and landscape. While some cause trouble, others can be helpful by pollinating plants, providing natural control of damaging insects and providing food for birds and other animals, so figuring out which are friends and which are foes is important to a wellbalanced, happy garden. The first step in being insect savvy is to properly identify the insects (or any other potential pest) in your garden. Help in doing so is available in books and online and through diagnostic services and the use of other local experts in your area including local and state Cooperative Extension offices and Master Gardeners. The truth is that eliminating the bad bugs is almost impossible. But you can establish a proper balance of insect populations. To do this, give the good guys plenty of help by making sure you have lots of woody plants (trees and shrubs) in the yard, which tend to increase biodiversity. Remove as many invasive plants as possible and replace these with plants that provide food and nectar to insects and birds. And use plants in the garden and landscape that are naturally resistant to pests. These and other tactics are part of a pest control plan known as integrated pest management (IPM), which deals not just with insects but also weeds and other pathogens. IPM makes use of all pest control strategies—from chemical to mechanical to biological—to restrain the bad guys while nurturing the good Katie Jackson, who recently retired as chief editor for the Auburn University College of Agriculture and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, is now a fulltime freelance writer and editor. Contact her at email@example.com.
18 march 2013
March Gardening Tips guys. In addition to being environmentally friendly, IPM can also reduce the cost of pest control. The basic premise of IPM is to use a series of pest management tools. Among these are establishing thresholds for action (determining how many pests need to be present before some control method is used), monitoring and identifying pests (so you know your foe), preventing infestation (usually by making sure your plants and soils are healthy) and applying control methods when pests become a threat. Control methods may be cultural (selecting the best sites and plants for your landscape and properly maintaining your plants), biological (employing natural enemies of pests), mechanical and physical (weeding, pruning or using traps and other devices to repel or capture pests) and chemical (using pesticides judiciously and according to label directions). To learn more about IPM strategies for Alabama check out www.aces.edu/ anr/ipm/publications/permanage.php where you can find IPM handbooks that address insect, weed and other pests. A great publication for the home vegetable garden is available at www.aces.edu/ pubs/docs/A/ANR-1045/ANR-1045. pdf and you can even subscribe to the Alabama IPM Communicator newsletter or ask specific questions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you start thinking about pest control now, 2013 could be the luckiest year yet for your landscape and garden and may even teach you to love your bugs— at least some of them. A
d Plant container-grown trees, shrubs, herbs, ground covers and perennial flowers and transplant shrubs and trees before their buds begin to swell and open. d Remove wilted, spent flowers from spring bulb plants but leave the foliage until it dies completely. d Add compost, manure and other amendments to vegetable and flower beds. d Transplant, divide and repot houseplants that have outgrown their pots. d Begin fertilizing houseplants when the days become longer than the nights. d Sow seeds for spring vegetables such as onions, carrots, beets, broccoli, radishes, spinach, lettuce and start seed for summer peas and tomatoes. d Plant snow and sweet peas, asparagus, horseradish, artichokes, strawberries, blueberries and grapes directly into the ground. d Weed vegetable and flower garden beds as soon as weeds emerge. d Prune dormant deciduous fruit trees before their buds begin to swell. d Prepare lawn mowers and other power equipment and tools for the coming gardening and lawn care season. d Prune and feed roses. d Divide and transplant summer-blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears. d Turn your compost pile. d Shop at spring plant sales and swaps.
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Longleaf Book chronicles history and future of nation’s magnificent trees By Katie Jackson
n a whim one late Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2004 my husband and I took a short detour to a spot just east of Flomaton, Ala., to see what was then the last old-growth longleaf pine stand in the state. The tall trees were impressive as we walked out among them, but we soon understood the truth in that old saying “timing is everything.” As the light from the setting sun began to trickle, then flood, through the old trees’ branches and needles, the scene—even the air around us—changed from a somber gray-brown to a burnished, gleaming gold. It was an unexpected, exquisite moment. Four years later that stand, which was estimated to be some three centuries old and had in more recent years become an invaluable research site, was clear-cut. When I heard that news I was dismayed and, a bit selfishly perhaps, thankful that we had taken the time to stop that afternoon in Flomaton. I assumed I would never again see anything as extraordinary as that approaching dusk. Then I opened the pages of Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See: A New Vision of North America’s Richest Forest. Published in 2012 by the University of Katie Jackson, who recently retired as chief editor for the Auburn University College of Agriculture and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, is now a fulltime freelance writer and editor. Contact her at email@example.com.
20 MARCH 2013
North Carolina Press. Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See is the creation of Bill Finch, senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation and executive director of the Mobile Botanical Gardens; Beth Maynor Young, a conservation photographer and conservation realtor; Rhett Johnson, cofounder and president of the Longleaf Alliance, Inc.; and John Hall, curator of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama. The book is gorgeous, one of those impressive collections that can, and should, grace many a coffee table. But it is so much more. It is a book of great substance that weaves Young’s stunning photography in with eloquent essays penned by Finch, Johnson, Hall and others (including a foreword by revered ecologist and Alabama native E.O. Wilson) to chronicle the history—biological, economic and cultural—and future of the longleaf pine. Longleaf pines once covered more than 90 million acres, predominately across the South from Texas to Florida and up the East Coast to Maryland, and represented the largest forest ecosystem in North America. Today these magnificent trees cover only 3 million acres, but even that fragment of remaining longleaf manages to create a distinctive and diverse ecosystem that is home to birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and plants, many of which are threatened or endangered species. Opening the book and seeing Young’s photographs that captured a taste of that afternoon my husband and I spent in the Flomaton stand was a great gift in and of itself. I thought that afternoon’s experience was lost forever, but leafing through the book’s pages I realized that it exists in oth-
er places where longleaf pine still grows. I also realized that Young’s photos captured so much more than we had seen on that short visit. They show the astounding diversity endemic to longleaf pine forests. Her photos of the shrikes, woodpeckers and bluebirds, indigo and corn snakes, gopher tortoises and fox squirrels and many other animals—including the humans who use and protect these trees—speak to the abundance of life that moves in branches, along trunks and at the feet of longleaf pines. She shows the plant diversity of a longleaf forest ranging from shots of bogs carpeted with pitcher plants and sundews, savannas filled with waving wiregrass and bluestems, understories dotted with palmettos and sheep laurel, as well as shots chronicling the development of a longleaf pine from a winged seed to a flop-topped youngster to a stately tree. Then I began to read the words and discovered that the book does more than gather together remarkable images. It teaches lessons of history and ecology and commitment that are an integral part of the longleaf story. The elegance of the prose provided by the authors and other scientists, activists, preservationists and historians has the power to engage the casual reader, then maybe even turn that reader into someone with a passion for protecting the ecology and culture of our state and region. And most important of all, the book allows us to dream because, while it recounts the tragic loss of longleaf pine forests and some of its denizens, it also chronicles the efforts under way by landowners, agencies and organizations to rewww.alabamaliving.coop
establish longleaf pines in their natural range. Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See is certainly worth its $35 price as a beautiful addition to any collection of stunning regional coffee table books. But it may also be an investment for the spirit that can deepen our appreciation of these trees that have so influenced the history and lives of Alabamians and beyond. And it may even be an agent of change that perhaps spurs more people to preserve and reestablish longleaf pines in our lives. Maybe it will even help someday afford my children and many future generations of children a chance to see a sunset shimmer through an old stand of longleaf pines. A
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
MAR. 1 11:01 05:31 04:16 11:01 2 11:31 05:46 05:01 11:31 3 11:46 06:01 - - 05:31 4 06:16 12:01 12:16 06:16 5 06:31 12:31 06:46 12:46 6 12:46 06:46 07:31 01:16 7 01:16 07:16 08:16 01:46 8 01:31 07:31 09:16 02:31 9 02:01 07:46 10:46 03:31 10 02:16 08:16 - - 04:31 11 - - 08:46 - - 06:01 12 10:16 03:46 - - 07:31 13 09:01 04:01 01:01 08:46 14 09:46 04:16 02:46 09:46 15 10:16 04:46 03:46 10:31 16 11:01 05:01 04:46 11:01 APR. 1 05:01 11:16 11:31 05:31 2 05:16 11:46 - - 06:16 3 12:01 05:46 07:01 12:16 4 12:31 06:01 07:46 12:46 5 01:01 06:16 08:31 01:31 6 01:31 06:46 09:31 02:16 7 02:01 07:16 11:01 03:01 8 02:46 07:46 - - 04:16 9 08:16 01:01 - - 05:31 10 10:46 02:16 - - 07:01 11 08:46 02:46 01:31 08:16 12 09:31 03:16 03:01 09:16 13 10:01 03:46 04:01 10:01 14 04:01 10:31 10:46 05:01 15 04:31 11:16 11:16 05:46 16 05:01 11:46 - - 06:31 17 12:01 05:16 07:16 12:16 18 12:31 05:46 08:01 01:01 19 01:01 06:16 09:01 01:31 20 01:31 06:31 09:46 02:01 21 02:16 07:01 11:01 02:46 22 03:01 07:16 - - 03:46 23 07:46 12:31 - - 04:46 24 - - 01:46 - - 06:16 25 08:31 02:16 12:31 07:31 26 09:01 02:46 02:16 08:31 27 09:31 03:01 03:31 09:16 28 03:16 09:46 09:46 04:16 29 03:46 10:16 10:31 05:01 30 04:01 10:46 11:01 05:46
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 21
A few degrees might mean better bass action By John N. Felsher
s hunting seasons end, many sportsmen wait for warmer weather before fishing, but if they wait too long, they might miss some of the best bass action all year. Anglers typically catch the biggest largemouth bass of the year in early spring when females swell with roe before spawning. After dropping her load of eggs, a big largemouth could lose several pounds. In Alabama, spawning typically takes place from March through May, but largely depends upon water temperature. Generally, Alabama bass spawn when the water reaches about 63 to 68 degrees. Male largemouths head shallow first to scour out beds before the females arrive two to three weeks later. After spawning, typically under a full moon, the female departs the nest, leaving the male to defend the eggs and young against a multitude of predators. When fry reach about a half-inch long, “Pops” chases them out of the nest and looks for another mate to repeat the process. Not all bass spawn at the same time. Not all waters warm equally. Shallow waters warm more quickly than deep reservoirs. Placid pools warm faster than running streams. On a large reservoir like Lake Guntersville, the spawn could stretch over several weeks as different parts of the lake warm at various rates. A sweet spot with just a one- or two-degree difference in water temperature could make cold-blooded fish more active and easier to catch. “Many factors go into finding fish in cold water,” says Kevin VanDam, a four-time Bassmaster Classic champion. “Sunshine is the key. Direct sunshine, even on cold days, helps pull fish up toward the surface and make bass more aggressive. Even in cold John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer and photographer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He’s written more than 1,700 articles for more than 117 magazines. He co-hosts a weekly outdoors radio show. Contact him through his website at www. JohnNFelsher.com.
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Emily Shaffer, a professional bass angler from Mount Juliet, Tenn., unhooks a bass she caught on a Strike King spinnerbait. Photo by John N. Felsher
water, bass position themselves to soak up sunshine.” Ironically, the north side of a lake typically warms first. With the sun in the southern sky before the spring equinox, the warmest and most intense solar rays hit northern shorelines. In addition, since the sun sets in the west, eastern shorelines receive more intense afternoon sunshine than shady western shorelines. Consequently, with all factors remaining equal, shallow, still areas in the northeast portion of a lake warm before other sections, followed by the northwest, southeast and finally southwest portions of a lake. Winds also influence water temperatures. Frosty north winds push chilly water toward the southern part of a lake. Warmer south winds stack water against northern banks. Winds also move plankton-rich waters. Shad feed upon plankton and head for the windward shorelines; bass follow the shad. Consequently, windy shorelines frequently produce the best action in early spring. In coastal Alabama, wind can even overcome tides, either pushing water toward the Gulf of Mexico or away from it. Like trout in swift mountain streams, bass often
face into the current to look for food flowing toward them. This does not necessarily mean that they face into the wind. Water crashing against a shoreline “mushrooms” like a bullet. Along a windy shoreline, the current may actually move away from land a short distance. Frequently, bass hang just over the drop-off edges facing toward the shoreline, waiting to ambush whatever the current washes toward them. “I always want to cast into the wind unless the wind is blowing so hard that I can’t cast,” says Alton Jones, a former Bassmaster Classic champion. “Fish position themselves into the wind. A strong wind lapping against rocky banks also produces a lot of oxygen and noise that can hide my presence so I make long casts parallel to the bank.” Since, dark colors absorb sunshine while bright colors reflect the rays, a black muddy bottom may soak up heat and radiate solar energy into the water. A white sandy bottom could reflect heat. Stained or muddy water, unless influenced by a cold flow, can also warm more quickly than clear water. Waters full of suspended particles absorb and hold solar energy while sunlight might pass through clear water. In addition, objects in the water can affect surrounding temperatures. Hard objects, such as concrete blocks, rocks, metal pilings and stumps, may also radiate heat into adjacent waters. Rocks, blocks and metal retain more heat than soggy wood. Grass mats can also absorb solar energy in early spring and provide cooling shade during the summer. “Rocks are my favorite choice for cold weather fishing,” VanDam reveals. “My second choice is wood. If the water is clear, I fish a suspending jerkbait close to rocks. In stained water, I fish a jig or a crankbait. If there’s a stump or rock sitting in sunshine, bass swim right up to it because it radiates heat.” Just because water measures a couple degrees warmer than surrounding areas doesn’t necessarily guarantee fish. Bass go where they can find the best combination of food, oxygen, comfortable conditions and cover. This spring, keep experimenting to find the right combination that bass seek. A www.alabamaliving.coop
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 23
A bed and breakfast for migratory birds Story and photos by W. H. “Chip” Gross
t was a late-December day, and my wife and I heard the birds long before we saw them, a ventriloquist act like none other. With sandhill cranes, their calls are so clear you’d swear the birds were close. But looking up, we spotted the small flock still several hundred yards overhead. The sandhill’s strange call has been described as a guttural rattle, and there is no better place to hear it in all of Alabama—and see the four-foot-tall gray birds that produce it—than Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Located along 20 miles of the Tennessee River between Huntsville and Decatur, Wheeler NWR was established in 1938 to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. The easternmost federal refuge in the Mississippi Flyway, Wheeler’s 35,000 acres attract thousands of wintering waterfowl each year, and support the southernmost and Alabama’s only significant concentration of wintering Canada geese—specifically, birds from the Southern James Bay population. The refuge also serves as winter habitat for the state’s largest duck population. In addition to migratory birds, the refuge hosts 115 species of fish, 74 species of reptiles and amphibians, 47 species of mammals, and 295 species of birds. It is also home to 12 federally listed endangered or threatened species. Wheeler NWR is home to so much wildlife because of its diversity of habitats: bottomland hardwoods, wetlands, pine uplands, agricultural fields, and backwater embayments. In combination, these habitats provide excellent feeding, loafing, and roosting areas for waterfowl, as well as nesting sites for migrating songbirds. The refuge is also a much needed natural haven in one of the state’s fastest growing regions. Spring is a great time to visit Wheeler as migrating birds make their way north. March will bring blue-winged teal and shorebirds to the area. Other wildlife to look for are turtles sunning on logs and crappie fishing is at its best at this time. The teal migration is at its peak in April, as well as migrating songbirds. Warblers, vireos, and other small passerine birds can be seen 24 MARCH 2013
along refuge trails and roadways. Migrant songbird nesting is in full progress and wildflowers are at their peak. Broods of wood ducks, mallards, and black ducks appear in May and the last of the migrant songbirds are moving through the refuge. The numbers of migratory birds wintering at Wheeler can be astounding. For instance, during a one-day, early-January survey conducted this year, refuge staff counted 70,000 ducks, 4,400 geese, and 12,000 sandhill cranes. “The cranes have been showing up in increasing numbers over the past decade,” says Adams. “In contrast, the numbers of Canada Geese on the refuge have dwindled. The geese only migrate as far south as they need to, and we believe that because of warmer winters in recent years most of the birds are wintering farther north. If they can find food and open water they can tolerate the cold temperatures.” A rare bird being spotted on the refuge in increasing numbers is the federally-endangered whooping crane. “There were 13 on the refuge last winter,” says Adams. “They mingle with sandhill cranes, and anywhere from five to nine of the large, white whoopers hung out near the observation building where many people were able to see and photograph them.” One of the very best places on the refuge to view migratory birds—especially for people with mobility issues—is the large, twostory observation building near the Visitor Center. It’s also a good choice during inclement weather, as you can remain inside and still see hundreds if not thousands of waterfowl. But if you’d like to stretch your legs, any of the five walking trails on the ref-
uge provide sightings of songbirds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. One of the trails is even a boardwalk through a cypress swamp. Although winter is the time to see waterfowl, a great migration of songbirds occurs at Wheeler both spring and fall. “Those two seasons are the times of year to see colorful warblers,” says Adams. “With summers being typically hot and humid, less wildlife is usually visible at that season, especially during the day.” Unlike many federal wildlife refuges Wheeler is very accessible, with more than 100 miles of roads open to the public throughout the refuge. “Some roads are closed to motor vehicles during the waterfowl season,” says Adams, “but they begin opening again in mid-February. And even when the gates are closed, the public is still invited to walk or bicycle past the gates if they’d like, as long as it is not in a posted closed area.” In addition to wildlife viewing, other recreational opportunities are available at Wheeler: fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, cycling, and outdoor photography. If you’d like to get involved in caring for the area, volunteers at Wheeler staff the Visitor Center, conduct interpretive programs, perform trail maintenance, and work on various projects requiring carpentry and other skilled trades. For more information about volunteering, call the Visitor Center at 256-350-6639. For general, online information about Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, go to www.fws. gov/wheeler/, or the Friends of Wheeler website at www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.org. Wheeler is a great place for families. With so many kids remaining indoors these days attached to some electronic device, the refuge is a safe environment where young people and their families can reconnect with the outdoors. But be forewarned, if you take your kids (or grandkids) on a visit to Wheeler NWR, they’ll no doubt beg to go back. Just don’t forget your binoculars when you go, and a camera will help capture your memories. A W. H. “Chip” Gross (www.chipgross.com) is a freelance outdoors writer, photographer, and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.alabamaliving.coop
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 25
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is an American tradition By Marilyn Jones
ne day a year we celebrate Saint Patrick and everything Irish — whether you’re Irish or not. March 17 is a day set aside to wear green, enjoy a meal of corned beef and cabbage, and attend a St. Patrick’s Day event. So who was Saint Patrick? The patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, Saint Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is believed that he was born in the late 4th century. The shamrock became a symbol of Ireland because Saint Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — to the pagans. History is split on the account of Saint Patrick’s death. Some historians say that Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. Another account says that he died at Glastonbury, England, and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. To d a y, m a n y Catholic places of worship
are named after Saint Patrick, including churches in Robertsdale, Birmingham, Phenix City and Loxley. So why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? As much as March 17 has become known for everything Irish, its original intention was to be a day of spiritual renewal in honor of the saint on the anniversary of his death and a day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. The holiday began in Ireland and as the Irish immigrated to other countries, they brought with them their traditions, history and celebrations. From cities to small towns, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with parades, “wearing of the green,” music and songs, and Irish food and drink. In Alabama several communities celebrate their Irish heritage as well as enjoy the opportunity to have a great time.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Alabama
Photo by Michael Sylvester
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on Sunday this year, most of this year’s events will take place on Saturday, March 16. In Piedmont revelers will be taking to the water at the St. Patrick’s Paddle: Terrapin Creek. “Floating along Terrapin Creek in a kayak allows an individual to feel the freedom and flow of a natural living waterway,” says Renee Morrison, Jacksonville State University Field Schools’ assistant director. Morrison, Don Coley of Terrapin Creek Outdoor Center, and Joan Alexander of the Anniston Outdoor Association will be on hand to expound upon the area’s flora, fauna and natural history. 26 march 2013
“It’s a day of spring, bird song, slowmoving clear waters; a day to immerse yourself in nature,” Morrison adds. “Becoming one with the surroundings, a paddler isn’t an intrusive species. They find themselves surrounded by wild flowers, wild life and beautiful scenery.” The event takes place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Participants should meet at Terrapin Creek Outdoor Center (AL Hwy 9 near Centre, Ala.).
Paddlers enjoy Terrapin Creek
The Guntersville Recreation Center is hosting its 35th Annual Wild Irish Run, and at Fort Rucker, the St. Patrick’s Day 5K/10K run will also take place on March 16. And what would St. Patrick’s Day be without great Irish cuisine? In Mobile at Bienville Square, the annual Mobile Luck of the Irish Cook Off is held every year with awards including Best Irish Stew, Best Dressed Chef, Best Corned Beef and Cabbage, Best Tent and People’s Choice. There are also children’s activities and Irish entertainment including pipers and folk music. All proceeds benefit the Exchange Club of Mobile Family Center and its child abuse prevention programs. Partnered with the Cook-Off is a St. Patrick’s Day Parade that starts at the Mobile Civic Center and begins at 2 p.m. The parade proceeds north to Government Street, east to South Conception Street, north to St. Francis Street, east on St. Francis to south on Royal, west on Church Street and back to the Civic Center. www.alabamaliving.coop
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Photo by Michael Sylvester
Huntsville is one of several Alabama cities to hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
In Delta folks gather at Cheaha State starting point. Park Restaurant Deck for the Delta Saint Birmingham concludes the major city Patrick’s Celebration. The event includes a events with its St. Patrick’s Day Parade jig contest with prizes and an Irish buffet and Irish Cultural Society’s Annual St. starting at 4:30 p.m. Patrick’s Day Party. Enterprise celebrates every year with The parade starts at 1:30 p.m. and travthe World’s Smallest St. Patrick’s Day Pa- els through the historic Five Points South rade. The annual event takes place on East area. College Street, “The Birin front of the mingham C ou r t hous e, Irish Cultural and runs down Society also around the Boll marks St. Weevil MonuPatrick’s Day ment in the with an aucenter of town thentic Irish and back to the party,” says Courthouse. Marty ConHuntsville nors, chairis the stage for man of the Enterprise is the site of the world’s smallest St. the Madison event. “This Patrick’s Day parade. C ounty Anyear our pronual St. Patrick’s Day Parade beginning at ceeds will go to Kid One Transport.” 11:30 a.m. The parade begins at the interThe event will take place March 15, 7 section of Jefferson and Monroe streets, p.m. at the Pine Tree Country Club. Kid proceeds south on Jefferson, goes around One Transport helps children who might the Courthouse, proceeds north on Wash- otherwise not have transportation to get ington, and west on Monroe back to the to necessary medical treatments. A 28 march 2013
Additional information: Guntersville Wild Irish Run; 256-5717590; www.guntersvilleal.org. Piedmont St. Patrick’s Day Paddle on Terrapin Creek; 256-782-5697; www.jsu. edu/epic. Bring drink/snacks/lunch. Not recommended for children under 12 years. Subject to weather and water level. Preregistration is required before March 12. Fort Rucker St. Patrick’s Day 5K/10K; 334255-2296; ftruckermwr.com. Delta Saint Patrick’s Celebration; 256488-5115; www.alapark.com/cheaharesort. Enterprise St. Patrick’s Day One Man Parade; 334-389-1554; www.enterprisealabama.com. Mobile Luck of the Irish Cook Off; 251281-8230; www.luckoirish.org; and St. Patrick’s Day Parade; 251-479-5700; http:// www.cityofmobile.org/index.php. Huntsville Madison County Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; 256-551-2230 http:// www.huntsville.org. Birmingham St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Birmingham Irish Cultural Society Annual Party; 205-908-6617; birminghamirish.org. Additional Alabama Irish cultural information: http://celticalabama.net/irish/. www.alabamaliving.coop
Around Alabama Oct. 2-6
USS Iwo Jima shipmates plan reunion
Photo by Ed Torro
March 15 • Montgomery, “An Evening with Eli Manning”
Presented by The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama, Renaissance Montgomery Convention Center 6 p.m. VIP Reception, 7 p.m. Dinner & Auction. Additional information: www.cancerwellnessfoundation.org 23 • Theodore, Easter Egg Hunt Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Registration beginning at 9 a.m. on the great lawn. Three egg hunts depending on age range. Easter portraits with the Easter Bunny from 9-noon. The Southern Belle River Cruiser will cruise at 11a.m. and 1 p.m. Admission: adults $12, children 5-12 $6.50, children under 4 are free Contact: 251-973-2217 or www.bellingrath.org 23 • Bridgeport, One-mile Moon Walk Russell Cave. Explore the wonderful worlds of Triton, Ganymede, Miranda and other celestial satellites and join Park Rangers for a one-mile moon walk and talk on the grounds that the ancient people of Russell Cave called home for many years. 15 & 16 • Selma, 38th Historic Selma Pilgrimage Tour historic homes, downtown buildings with Jewish Heritage, Temple Mishkan Israel, museums and art shows. Tickets available 8 a.m.-4 p.m. during Pilgrimage at headquarters. Information: 334-412-8550 or 800-45-SELMA www.SelmaPilgrimage.com 16 • Dodge City, Swamp Johns Fundraiser Dodge City Volunteer Fire Department. 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Raising money for new digital radios. 16 • Weogufka, Irun for the Cure 5k Run/Walk & Health Fair. Weogufka Center. Registration at 9 a.m., race at 10 a.m. Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society and Weogufka Cancer Outreach. Live entertainment and food. Registration: $20 ($5 entry free for non-runners) meal ticket included. Registration forms can be printed at: www.weogufkacanceroutreach.webs.com
The USS Iwo Jima Shipmates Organization has announced a reunion for all ship’s company and embarked Navy and Marine Corps personnel to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Diego October 2-6, 2013. For more information, contact Robert G. McAnally at 757-723-0317 or visit www.ussiwojimashipmates.cfns.net.
29 & 30 • Geraldine, Geraldine Homemakers and
and food vendors. Admission: Free Contact: Butch LeCompte, 334-775-7448 or 334-316-1065 6 & 7 • Enterprise, Piney Woods Arts Festival Enterprise State Community College (running track) 9 a.m.-5p.m. (Saturday), 12-4 p.m. (Sunday) One of the oldest juried arts and crafts shows in the area. It features original art and crafts by approximately 100 artists, children’s fun center, food and entertainment. Civil War Living Display and the Weevil City Cruisers Car & Truck Show (Saturday only). Admission: Free. Information: 334-406-2787 or www.CoffeeCountyArtsAlliance.com 11 • Huntsville, 6th Annual Gala and Auction for Autism Benefitting the Riley Behavioral & Educational Center Huntsville Museum of Art, 6-10 p.m. Tickets: $150 per couple, $75 per person Tickets or sponsorship opportunities contact: The Riley Center, 256-882-2457 email@example.com or www.therileycenter.org 6 • Dothan, Spring FURfest Benefitting FUR (Felines Under Rescue) Cottage Antiques, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Outdoor festival featuring antiques and antique appraisals, collectibles, art of various forms, homemade and homegrown goodies, bake sale, face painting, and other unique vendors. Donations are appreciated. Contact: Barbara Seaman, 334-693-5277 6 • Magnolia Springs, 10th Annual Magnolia Run 5k run/walk and 1-mile fun run. Awards presented to all age groups. Post-race activities for runners include music, food, beverages and door prizes. Information: www.southbaldwinchamber.com 6 • Clayhatchee, Bell Ringing III at Old Providence Covered dish lunch at noon followed by a gospel music program. Artwork featuring the old church will be for sale, along with other mementos. Admission: Free Information: 334-598-4577 www.oldprovidencefoundation.com
Community Leaders Quilt Show. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Vendors, goodies, handicapped access. Fundraiser for GHCL who contribute to community, school, local library, nursing homes and rehab centers. Contact: Linda Daniels, 256-659-6678 28 • Andalusia, Homespun Country Hoedown Andalusia Kiwanis Center, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Gospel and country music, contests including cookie contest, hog calling and dance. Story telling, craft and food vendors, door prizes and much more. Outside lunches allowed or a chicken box may be purchased from the Adult Activity Center. Contact: Debbie Carter, 334-222-6891 or debbie. firstname.lastname@example.org 15-17 • Pell City, “My Way,” a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra at the Pell City Center 15 & 16 at 7 p.m.; 17 at 2 p.m. Performed by the Pell City Players and featuring Steve Shafer. Tickets: $20 seniors, $15 students, groups of 10 or more $15 Contact: Pell City Center box office, 205-338-1874 or www.pellcitycenter.com 15 & 16 • Alexander City, Lake Martin Area Rodeo Alex City Horse Riding Arena, Charles E. Bailey Sportplex. Rodeo begins at 7 p.m., gates open at 5 Saturday night “Tough Enough to Wear Pink.” Tickets: $10 adults, $5 kids 4-12, under 3 free Information: 256-329-6736, ext. 27 16 • Dothan, Easter Sunrise Service Gazebo lawn, 6:15 a.m. Service led by Dothan Ministerial Union. Admission: Free Contact: Laura V. Stakelum, 334-794-3452 or laurav@ landmarkpark.com
April 6 • Fredonia, 63rd Annual Fredonia All You Can Eat Barbecue Fredonia Community Club House, 5-8 p.m. Drive through, takeout and indoor seating are available. Advanced ticket purchase only. Tickets: $9 Contact: Chris or JJ Frickert, 334-499-0115 6 • Midway, Alabama Outdoor Heritage Day Wehle Land Conservation Center, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Historical and educational exhibits, demonstrations
To place an event, mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; e-mail to calendar@ areapower.coop. (Subject Line: Around Alabama) or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. 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.
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2/14/13 4:27 PM
Keep indoor air healthy Central air cleaners catch particles that pollute your home and can help your HVAC system run at top efficiency
I want the best air quality at home for my family. Which type of central air cleaner is best, and will installing a central air cleaner make my heating and cooling more efficient?
Indoor air quality is becoming a greater issue for families as homes become more airtight for energy efficiency. And with all the synthetic products used in homes today, indoor air is often more polluted and hazardous to your health than outdoor air. Installing a high-quality central air cleaner or filter in the furnace/air conditioner duct system does not technically improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. What it will do is keep the units running at their highest original efficiency levels. Most air cleaners use little or no electricity to operate. With a lower-quality air cleaner, such as the standard one-inch-thick fiberglass filter, dust and dirt can build up on the heat exchanger and cooling coil surfaces. This dust creates a layer of insulation so that heat is not transferred as effectively as it should be. This reduces the overall energy efficiency. If you don’t change the filter often enough, dirt can clog the many pores in the filter medium and reduce air flow through it. This further reduces efficiency because the heating and cooling coils and heat exchangers are designed for a specific air flow rate. Within the past several years, manufacturers have begun producing new, superefficient central air cleaners. They use a
James Dulley is a nationally syndicated engineering consultant based in Cincinnati.
30 MARCH 2013
combination of electronic air charging and filter media to trap almost all of the tiniest particles in the air. They can even catch flu viruses and bacteria as they pass through the duct system. Standard electronic air cleaners use wires to give air particles a negative charge. A collection cell has plates with a positive charge so the negatively charged particles stick to it. When the collection cell is dirty, you can wash it in the dishwasher or bathtub and slip it back into the unit. For many people, this standard type of electronic air cleaner is adequate. I use one in the heat pump in my own home. For people with allergies to some of the smallest particles in indoor air, the new electronic air cleaners with the charged filter media may be more effective. The electricity cost to operate either type of electronic air cleaner is not significant. It’s important to regularly clean the collection cell of the standard electronic air cleaner to keep it operating at maximum cleaning performance and reduce the amount of ozone generated. When the cell gets dirty, the charge can arch from the wires to the collection plate. This may produce excessive concentrations of ozone gas, to which some people are sensitive. I set mine to a lower charging voltage to reduce ozone. Another option is a pleated media air cleaner. This type of unit is less expensive and relies on many square feet of folded filter material to catch particles as the air passes through it. There are various levels of media quality and price. The cleaning effectiveness of various models can be compared by their MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. If you don’t want to have the ducts modified to install a new air cleaner, consider a self-charging electrostatic model. This slips into the existing furnace filter slot and is many times more effective than a fiberglass filter. Just the air flowing over the resin filter material creates a charge that
This high-efficiency pleated media central air cleaner can be operated with the remote control even when the furnace or air conditioner is not heating or cooling. Source: Aprilaire
tends to trap more dirt particles. Another option is a bypass HEPA (high efficiency particle air) cleaner that has its own air circulation motor. A HEPA is a very dense media filter, which makes it very effective, but it may create too much resistance for the furnace blower to force adequate air flow through it. The bypass design has its own blower so the air flow through the coils or heat exchanger is not impeded. With any central air cleaner, it cleans only when a furnace/air conditioner blower is running. To get around this, Aprilaire offers a new controller which mounts next to the wall thermostat. It allows you to automatically run the blower for any length of time when no heating or cooling is needed. The following companies offer wholehouse air cleaners: Aprilaire, 800-3346011, www.aprilaire.com; Dust Free, 800441-1107, www.dustfree.com; Lakeair, 800- 558-9436, www.lakeair.com; Pure Air Systems, 800-869-8025 www.pureairsystems.com; and Trane, 888-232-5290, www.trane.com. A
Send your questions to: James Dulley Alabama Living 6906 Royalgreen Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45244
You can also reach Dulley online at
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 31
Worth the Drive
Cosmo’s delivers great food and atmosphere
Cosmo’s deck is perfect for relaxed dining at the beach.
Grilled shrimp served over risotto gets top rating.
Fried banana fritters are a sweet finish to any meal.
Go & Eat Cosmo’s Restaurant 251-948-9663 Orange Beach 25753 Canal Rd. Orange Beach, AL www.cosmosrestaurantandbar.com Jennifer Kornegay is the author of a new children’s book, The Alabama Adventures of Walter and Wimbly: Two Marmalade Cats on a Mission. She travels to an out-of-the way restaurant destination in Alabama every month. She may be reached for comment at email@example.com.
32 MARCH 2013
hen visiting the Alabama coast, it’s easy to be lulled into a state of total relaxation watching blue-green waves trimmed in lacy foam breaking on sugar-white sand. Such a lovely scene can make it hard to ever leave the beach, even to eat. But you’ll have to seek sustenance sometime, and when you do, I recommend forgoing the restaurants right near the shore — yes, even those with views of the water you had a difficult time abandoning earlier. You’ll need to journey out of the way just a bit to discover some of the area’s best bites; they’re waiting for you at Cosmo’s Restaurant. Sitting back on Canal Road in Orange Beach, Cosmo’s has an easygoing atmosphere and neighborhood pub vibe that make everyone feel instantly welcome. A series of tin-roofed wooden buildings connected by decks and walkways is tucked underneath mammoth live oaks and is home to Cosmo’s as well an art gallery and a gift and wine shop. A sign on the street makes it all simple to find, and on weekends in the summer, seeing car after car lined up on the shoulder of the road (overflow from the full parking lot) is a good indication you’re in the right place. If you do have to wait, you won’t mind; the expansive deck at Cosmo’s, glowing with string lights and often hosting a guy strumming a guitar, is a perfect place to sit back and work up the appropriate appetite for the wonderful meal to come. A fun, fruity specialty drink or a cold draft beer will get the ball rolling. And if while taking in your surroundings you wonder about the paw print in the restaurant’s logo or the doggie-dominated décor, you’ll be happy to know it was inspired by Cosmo’s namesake, a black lab rescued by the restaurant’s owners. It’s obvious they are animal lovers, but it’s equally obvious that they have taken great care to create a dining experience that’s as easy and hasslefree as it is delicious. And it is delicious. The diverse menu has a little something for everyone. If you’re craving some fried oysters and fries, no problem. If your companions want more elevated fare, there’s the Ses-
ame Seared Tuna or Pecan Redfish. If you’re eating with someone who doesn’t like seafood, that’s fine; the chicken roulade stuffed with asparagus and Gruyere is amazing. And if anyone’s in the mood for sushi, you’re in the right spot too: try the Volcano Roll with tuna, red pepper, asparagus, spicy crab salad and sirachi. The one common thread is freshness: fish pulled right from the Gulf, artisan cheese made by locals, veggies picked from nearby farms. They all make their way to your plate after a stop in Cosmo’s kitchen where Southern flavors, Creole flair and a pinch of traditional French techniques — courtesy of chefs Jack Baker, Rob Benson and Bart Wilson — transform these fine ingredients into Cosmo’s eclectic selections. Using the best of what’s available has led to dishes like sea bass wrapped in banana leaves earning a coveted spot on the Alabama Tourism Department’s “100 Alabama Dishes to Eat Before You Die” list. The menu item at the top of my personal “eat before you die” list is the grilled shrimp. Eight plump, citrus-marinated shrimp on skewers are served over Parmesan risotto and finished with a spicy, tangy criola tomato sauce. The risotto is creamy and soft without being mushy, and even though it is just a humble accompaniment to the main-attraction shrimp, it is the best thing Cosmo’s serves. (You can order the risotto as an extra side if it doesn’t come with your entrée, and you definitely should. Trust me.) The dish is just big enough to satisfy while leaving room for the second-best thing you can put in your mouth at Cosmo’s: the fried banana fritters. Pieces of ripe banana are battered and deep-fried, then dusted with cinnamon sugar and placed around a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A silky chocolate cream sauce drizzled on top finishes this sweet story. If any or all of this sounds tempting, remember to venture beyond the beach next time you’re down on the coast and your tummy starts rumbling. The friendly folks at Cosmo’s will fix a table on the deck for you. A www.alabamaliving.coop
Electric Cooperatives Launch Legislative App To help you better communicate with the Alabama Legislature, the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives has produced a helpful application customized for your smartphone and tablet.
• Interactive directory of members of the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate • Legislative committee list • Links to the most current legislative action. As a service to all Alabamians, AREA is offering this app for the low price of only $4.99, downloadable on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
MARCH 2013 33
Under 5 Ingredients Cook of the Month: Stephanie Walker, Baldwin EMC
Stevie’s Family Macaroni and Cheese
4 cups dry macaroni 4 cups of milk 4 eggs
16 ounces grated cheese (colby or cheddar) Salt and pepper to taste
Boil macaroni until done (around 10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water. Put half in a greased 13x9x2 baking dish; sprinkle half of the grated cheese on macaroni. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the rest of the noodles and cheese on top. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper again. In the meantime, heat the milk in a sauce pan until just scalded (little bubbles around the edge—do not boil). In a bowl, slightly beat the eggs and then slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly to cook eggs but not curdle them. Pour this mixture over the macaroni and cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour until bubbling and slightly brown on top. Be sure you fix plenty when you become a grandparent—it goes fast.
You could win $50! Upcoming recipe themes and deadlines are: May Diabetic Favorites Deadline: March 15 June Seafood Deadline: April 15 July Pie Deadline: May 15
Please send all submissions to: Recipe Editor, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Or e-mail to: recipes@areapower. com. Be sure to include your address, phone number and the name of your electric cooperative.
Who doesn’t love a super-easy recipe?
If you are thinking about sending in a
Especially a dish with only five ingredients
diabetic recipe for May, please remember to
or less. Sometimes it’s hard at the end of a
always check with your doctor before making
long day to think of a special side to go with
major dietary changes. Also note that even
supper. Sometimes you want to fix an easy
though something might say “no sugar added”
but delicious dessert. Hopefully some of these
there still may be sugar in the recipe.
recipes will help you come up with something
If you’ve ever thought about sending in a
wonderful. Don’t forget to let us know on our
recipe, but haven’t quite gotten around to
Alabama Living facebook page how certain
it, remember you can
recipes turned out. We love hearing your
email it to me at recipes@
34 MARCH 2013
Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.
1 can crescent rolls Marshmallows Melted butter
Cinnamon/sugar mixture Cupcake liners (optional)
3 packages sugar-free Kool-Aid (I use red) 12 ounces concentrated orange juice
Unroll crescent dough. Wrap one marshmallow in each crescent roll and seal. Roll in melted butter and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place in cupcake liners and muffin tins. Bake according to crescent roll directions. Enjoy!
Easy Cheesy Tortellini
1 20-ounce package Buitoni three cheese tortellini (in the refrigerator section) 1 pound ground beef or chuck 1 jar Prego traditional pasta sauce (about 24 oz)
1 8-ounce package of Italian shredded cheese 1 8-ounce package of cheddar shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Brown beef, drain add pasta sauce, let simmer: Boil pasta according to package directions, drain; Mix beef and pasta and half of the cheese in casserole dish: top with the rest of the cheese. Place in oven for 20 minutes of until lightly browned. Cheryl Massey, Coosa Valley EC
2 8-oz pkgs cream cheese, softened 2 cans crescent rolls 1 stick melted butter
1 cup of sugar, divided into 1/4 and 3/4 cup teaspoons of cinnamon 3
Ellen Esslinger, Arab EC
Russian Apple Pie
3 large eggs 4 large Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar 1 cup flour Cinnamon
Remove core from apples, peel, and cut in large 2-inch chunks. Lay parchment paper on the bottom of baking form. (I don’t always bother with the parchment paper.) Lay cut apples on top of parchment paper. (I prefer to sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top of apples.) Let eggs come to room temperature for 10 minutes, then mix till light yellow and foamy; add sugar in small portions at a time. Let sugar dissolve; add flour; mix till you see air bubbles. Pour mixture on top of apples. It will soak throughout. Don’t mix apples with batter. Bake for 55 minutes at 375 degrees. Sarah Donoghue, Baldwin EMC
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar well. Spread one tube of crescent rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 dish. Spread to cover and pinch together seams. Spread cream cheese mixture on top. Then cover with the other tube of crescent rolls, pinch together seams. Mix cinnamon and 1/4 cup of sugar. Pour stick of melted butter over crescent roll and cream cheese layers. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Alice McDonalds, Arab EC
1 large can pineapple juice 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix in gallon container. Pour in Kool-Aid and enough water to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and fill the rest of the way with water. Put in freezer until chilled, take out and shake. Do this until it is slushy (maybe once every 30 minutes to an hour after it starts to chill). Can be stored in refrigerator before serving.
Carmen Bishop,Wiregrass EC
Parmesan Chicken 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 1 stick butter
3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Mix bread crumbs and cheese together. Melt butter; dip chicken strips into butter, then roll them in crumb/cheese mixture. Place in 9x13 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Melba Bryan, Cullman EC
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MARCH 2013 35
Baked Vidalia Onion
1 bag of Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Land O’ Frost sandwich meat 1 bag of Mrs. T’s potato and cheddar pierogies
1 103/4-ounce can of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup 5 eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease muffin pan. Combine 1 can of soup with five eggs, mix well. Put one room temperature thawed pierogie into each greased muffin cup. Take sandwich meat 1 slice at a time, fold twice to make a small wad and place on top of each pierogie. Pour soup and egg mixture into each muffin cup until pierogie and sandwich meat is completely covered. Cook at 400 degrees until egg mixture is firm, about 10-15 minutes. Take out, remove from muffin cups and enjoy. Jim Archuletta, Joe Wheeler EMC
1 Vidalia onion 1 beef boullion cube
1 tablespoon butter
Peel onion. Scoop out middle, leaving a hole. Place in casserole and add beef boullion and butter into onion hole. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Easy and delicious. Cindy Kusnierz, Baldwin EMC
Granny’s Icebox Pie
1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 small tub of Cool Whip
1/2 cup lemon juice 1 graham cracker crust
Whip together the milk, Cool Whip, and lemon juice. Spread into crust. Refrigerate overnight. I used to beg my Granny to make these pies for me. Laura Symonds, Joe Wheeler EMC
Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe. A big THANK YOU! to all who have graciously donated to the Alabama Military Support Foundation via the check off on your Alabama State Tax forms. Your donation assists in educating and recognizing employers who stand behind members of the Guard and Reserve as they serve our nation. Your support is key to fostering and promoting a positive relationship between Guard and Reserve members and their employers. Your donations help inform both employers and military members of their legal rights and responsibilities. Outstanding employers are recognized through awards presented to them at events across Alabama. We hope that you will keep the foundation in mind as you complete your 2013 tax returns. Your contributions to the Alabama Military Support Foundation help preserve the Guard and Reserve’s efficient and cost effective capabilities for the defense of our nation.
36 MARCH 2013
MARCH 2013â€ƒ 37
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VACATION FINANCE – ROMANTIC GETAWAYS from $20 month Hotel / Air – FLY NOW-PAY LATER book today: http://ezgo.webs.com
FINANCIAL HELP LINES FOR AL FAMILIES BANKRUPTCY ADVICE FOR FREE (877)933-1139 MORTGAGE RELIEF HELP LINE (888) 216-4173 STUDENT LOAN RELIEF LINE (888)694-8235 TAX RELIEF. IRS HELP LINE (877)633-4457 DEBT RELIEF NON-PROFIT LINE (888) 779-4272 COLLECTION AGENCY COMPLAINTS (800)896-7860 Numbers provided by www.careconnectusa.org A Public Benefit Organization METAL ROOFING $1.79/LINFT – FACTORY DIRECT! 1st quality, 40yr Warranty, Energy Star rated. (price subject to change) 706-383-8554 WALL BEDS OF ALABAMA / HANDCRAFTED AMISH CASKETS / ALABAMA MATTRESS OUTLET – SHOWROOM Collinsville, AL – Custom Built / Factory Direct (256)490-4025, www.andyswallbeds. com, www.alabamamattressoutlet. com AERMOTOR WATER PUMPING WINDMILLS – windmill parts – decorative windmills – custom built windmill towers - call Windpower (256)638-4399 or (256)638-2352 CUSTOM MACHINE QUILTING BY JOYCE – Bring me your quilt top or t-shirts. Various designs offered – (256)735-1543 KEEP POND WATER CLEAN AND FISH HEALTHY with our aeration systems and pond supplies. Windmill Electric and Fountain Aerators. Windpower (256)638-4399, (256)899-3850 PERSONAL STUFF for WOMEN & MEN. Shop from Home! www. MEDSRX.WEBS.COM
Business Opportunities START YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Mia Bella’s Gourmet Scented Products. Try the Best! Candles / Gifts / Beauty. Wonderful income potential! Enter Free Candle Drawing - www. naturesbest.scent-team.com AGRICULTURAL COLLATERAL INSPECTION and APPRAISALS – Ag background required – Training courses available. Call (800)488-7570, or visit www.amagappraisers.com PIANO TUNING PAYS – Learn with American Tuning School home-study course – (800)497-9793
Vacation Rentals KATHY’S ORANGE BEACH CONDO – 2BR/2BA, non-smoking. Best rates beachside! Family friendly – (205)253-4985, www.KathysCondo. eu.pn
GULF SHORES, WEST BEACH - Gulf view, sleeps 6 - www.vrbo. com/92623, (404)641-4939, (404)641-5314 MENTONE, AL – LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN – billiard table, Jacuzzi, spacious home, sleeps 14 – www. duskdowningheights.com, (850)7665042, (850)661-0678. GULF SHORES PLANTATION – GULF FRONT – 2BR / 2BA, remodeled, sleeps 6-8, Unit 1133 – www. youngsuncoast.com, (800)826-1213 AFFORDABLE BEACHSIDE VACATION CONDOS – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, AL. Rent Direct from Christian Family Owners. Lowest Prices on the Beach – www.gulfshorescondos.com, (251)550-9421, (205)556-0368, (205)752-1231 HOUSE IN PIGEON FORGE, TN – Fully furnished, sleeps 6-12, 3 baths, creek, no pets – (256)997-6771, www.riverrungetaway.org CABIN RENTAL – COLLLINSVILLE, AL – 2BR / 2BA – www.flipkey.com – (256)523-3523
DISNEY – 15 MIN: 5BR / 3BA, private pool – www.orlandovacationoasis. com – (251)504-5756
GULF SHORES RENTAL – Great Rates! (256)490-4025, (256)5154 or www.gulfshoresrentals.us
APPALACHIAN TRAIL – Cabins by the trail in the Georgia Mountains – 3000’ above sea level, snowy winters, cool summers, inexpensive rates – (800)284-6866, www.bloodmountain. com
GULF SHORES CONDO – 2BR / 1.5BA, sleeps 6, pool, beach access – (334)790-9545
FT. MORGAN GULFSIDE – 2 Bedrooms with Queen Beds, 2 Full Baths, Central Air / Heat, Cable – Rental months March – September. Owners (251)675-2483, cell (251)7093824. LEAVE MESSAGE! FT. WALTON BEACH HOUSE – 3BR / 2BA – Best buy at the Beach – (205)566-0892, firstname.lastname@example.org BEACHSIDE CONDOS, GULF SHORES – 2/1 and 2/2 - $860/wk & up – 3 Night Minimum – (251)633-2677, email@example.com
PUT YOUR OLD HOME MOVIES, PHOTOS, SLIDES or TAPES on DVD – (888)609-9778 or www.transferguy. com
PENSACOLA BEACH CONDO – Gulf front – 7th floor balcony – 3BR / 2BA, sleeps 6, pool – (850)572-6295 or (850)968-2170 – www.ss703pensacola. com
FREE BOOKS / DVDs – Soon government will enforce the “Mark” of the beast as church and state unite! Let Bible reveal. The Bible Says, POB 99, Lenoir City, TN 37771 – firstname.lastname@example.org, (888)211-1715
CONDOS: Taking reservations now in GULF SHORES, GATLINBURG and DAYTONA BEACH. Call Jennifer in Scottsboro at 256-599-4438 - Beautiful condos at great rates - www. funcondos.com. Non smoking.
38 MARCH 2013
WWW.GULFSHORES4RENT.com Beautiful west beach in Gulf Shores – 4 great condos, each sleeps 6. Call (404)219-3189 or (404)702-9824
GULF SHORES / FT. MORGAN – AFFORDABLE Private Beach & Bay Homes, 1-9 Bedrooms, Pet Friendly Available – (800)678-2306 – http:// www.gulfrentals.com GULF SHORES PLANTATION - Gulf view, beach side, 2 bedrooms / 2 baths, no smoking / no pets. Owner rates (205)339-3850 CABINS / PIGEON FORGE, TN – Sleeps 2-6, Great Location (251)649-3344, (251)649-4049, www.hideawayprop.com GATLINBURG, TN – 3BR / 3BA TOWNHOUSE on BASKIN CREEK – 10 minute walk downtown, 3 miles to Smokey Mountain National Park – (334)289-0304 ORANGE BEACH CONDO, 3BR/3BA; 2,000 SQ.FT.; beautifully decorated; gorgeous waterfront view; boat slips available; Great Rates - Owner rented (251)604-5226 GORGEOUS PIGEON FORGE CABINS by OWNER with year round specials - (865)712-7633
CABIN IN MENTONE – 2/2, brow view, hottub – For rent $100/night or Sale $199,000 – (706)767-0177 GATLINBURG – DOWNTOWN LUXURY CREEKSIDE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, sleeps 6 – aubie12@centurytel. net, (256)599-5552 COTTON ROW in DETROIT, AL – Quiet country get-away! 45 minutes from Tupelo, MS – (662)8253244 LM www.vacationsmithlake.com – Nice 3BR / 2BA, deep water, covered dock - $75 night – (256)3525721, email@example.com GULF SHORES – CRYSTAL TOWER CONDO - 2 bedroom/ 2 bath, Great Ocean View - www.vrbo.com #145108 - Call Owner (205)429-4886, firstname.lastname@example.org PIGEON FORGE, TN: $89 - $125, 2BR/2BA, hot tub, air hockey, fireplace, swimming pool, creek – (251)363-1973, www. mylittlebitofheaven.com LAKE JORDAN CABIN – Great Fishing. Boat House - $75 night – (334)313-0078 GATLINBURG TOWNHOUSE on BASKINS CREEK! GREAT RATES! 4BR/3BA, short walk downtown attractions! (205)333-9585, email@example.com GATLINBURG / PIGEON FORGE – 2 and 3 BEDROOM LUXURY CABINS – Home theatre room, hot tub, gameroom – www. wardvacationproperties.com, (251)363-8576 PANAMA CITY BEACH CONDO – Owner rental – 2BR / 2BA, wireless internet, just remodeled inside and outside – (334)790-0000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www. theroneycondo.com – Open dates in March and April GATLINBURG, TN – Fond memories start here in our chalet – Great vacation area for all seasons – Two queen beds, full kitchen, 1 bath, Jacuzzi, deck with grill – 3 Night Special - Call (866)316-3255. Look for us on Facebook/billshideaway GULF SHORES, GULF FRONT – 1BR / 1BA - Seacrest Condo - King bed, hall bunks free Wi-Fi – Owner rates (256)352-5721, amariewisener@ gmail.com HELEN GA CABIN FOR RENT – sleeps 2-6, 2.5 baths, fireplace, Jacuzzi, washer/dryer – www. HOMEAWAY.com/101769 - (251)9482918, email email@example.com
Real Estate Sales/Rentals
GULF SHORES COTTAGE – Waterfront, 2 / 1, pet friendly – Rates and Calendar online http://www.vrbo.com/152418, (251)223-6114
WANTED: 100 to 200 ACRES in Baldwin, Escambia or Covington Counties. Call Randy (318)933-0040
CONDOS FOR RENT – GULF SHORES and ORANGE BEACH – previewgulfshores.com or call (877)504-9716
GULF SHORES CONDOS – 4.7 miles from beach, starting prices $54,900 – www.PeteOnTheBeach.com, click Colony Club – (251)948-8008
PIGEON FORGE, TN – 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath house for rent $75.00 a night – Call Bonnie at (256)338-1957
TOMBIGBEE WATERFRONT HOUSE, Two Rivers West Greene County – Three Bedroom, 2 Bath, Large Recroom with Pool Table $131,000.00 – (205)394-9944
GULF SHORES / FT. MORGAN / NOT A CONDO! The original “Beach House” on Ft. Morgan peninsula – 2BR/1BA – Pet Friendly, non-smoking – $695/wk, (256)418-2131, www. originalbeachhouseal.com PIGEON FORGE CONDO – 2BR / 2BA, two pools, hot tub. Pictures available – firstname.lastname@example.org, (256)656-1852 1 BEDROOM CABIN NEAR PIGEON FORGE - $85.00 per night – Call (865)428-1497 ask for Kathy Fort Morgan / INDIES Condo – 4th Floor, 3/2 sleeps 8, Gulf View Balcony, Pool – Owner discount call (228)343-9611 or email email@example.com GULF SHORES PLANATION CONDOS – Beachview sleeps 6, Beachfront sleeps 4 – (251)223-9248
PIANOS TUNED, REPAIRED, REFINISHED - Box 171, Coy, AL 36435 – (334)337-4503
Travel CRUISE the BAHAMAS and FLORIDA KEYS on a private 47’ Leopard Catamaran – www. playinghookycharters.com – Captain James (251)401-3367 for more information CARIBBEAN CRUISES AT THE LOWEST PRICE – (256)974-0500 or (800)726-0954
Musical Notes PLAY GOSPEL SONGS BY EAR - 10 lessons $12.95. “LEARN GOSPEL MUSIC”. Chording, runs, fills - $12.95 Both $24. Davidsons, 6727AR Metcalf, Shawnee Missions, Kansas 66204 – (913)262-4982
FREE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE – write to 23600 Alabama Highway 24, Trinity, AL, 35673 BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER correspondence study. Founded in 1988. Free info. Ministers for Christ Outreach, 6630 West Cactus #B107767, Glendale, Arizona 85304. http:// www.ordination.org WWW.2HOMESCHOOL.ORG – Year round enrollment. Everybody homeschools. It is just a matter of what degree – (256)653-2593 or website
Critters ADORABLE AKC YORKY PUPPIES – excellent blood lines – (334)301-1120, (334)537-4242, firstname.lastname@example.org CHIHUAHUA PUPPIES. Registered, guaranteed healthy, raised indoors in loving home, vet records and references. (256)796-2893
Fruits / Nuts / Berries OLD TIMEY WHITE AND YELLOW self pollinating SEED corn – (334)886-2925
How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace Closing Deadlines (in our office): May 2013 – March 25 June 2013 – April 25 July 2013 – May 25 -Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis -Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each -Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to email@example.com or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing. -We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 – Attn: Classifieds.
Southern Occasions COOKBOOK
CO O K B O O K
MARCH 2013 39
Safe @ Home Send your questions to:
Use safety precautions in lawn and garden
ith the approach of warm weather comes a return to lawn and garden work. Safety measures should be adhered to in the yard, especially where young children will be playing (and gardening, too!). Adults should take precautions with attire and wear clothing that protects from pests, sharp equipment and the sun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing safety goggles and long pants when using lawn mowers and other machinery. Gloves are also advisable when working outside with pest sprays and other chemicals. Insects will be out in force again, so another best practice while doing yard work is to wear insect repellant containing DEET. While getting your dose of Vitamin D from the sun, it is still very important to wear sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves and pants are also advisable in protecting skin from UV rays. Clothing with UV protection will add more layers to your skin protection regime. Children should also be protected from harmful rays with sunscreen and hats, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Care should also be taken to ensure that children are well hydrated when playing outside.
Lawn mower safety
In recent years many people have purchased zero-turn radius mowers, and it is important to take precautions when using this type of mower. They often lose steering control when making a hard turn downhill because, unlike tractors, they steer with the rear wheels and not the front. These mowers also increase the risk of rollover and were the cause of more than 15,000 injuries and 61 deaths in 2007, according to Consumer Reports. When choosing a mower, opt for a front-steering tractor over a zero-turn radius mower if you are mowing steeper areas. If you already own one, take care to mow slowly on inclines.
Lawn mowers and children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children be at least 12 years of age before they are allowed to operate a walk-behind power mower. The AAP recommends that children not operate a riding lawn mower until they reach the age of 16. Before you allow a child to mow the lawn, take time to review safety procedures for operating lawn mowers. When younger children are in the area, it is important Michael Kelley is that they be either inmanager of Safety doors or at a safe dis& Loss Control for the Alabama Rural tance from the area Electric Association. you plan to mow. a
40 MARCH 2013
Home Rules Alabama Living 340 TechnaCenter Dr. Montgomery, AL 36117 334-215-2732
Mower safety checklist Check conditions: H Do not mow during bad weather, such as during a thunderstorm. H Do not mow wet grass. H Do not mow without enough daylight. H Clear the mowing area of any objects such as twigs, stones, and toys, that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades. H Make sure that protective guards, shields, the grass catcher, and other types of safety equipment are placed properly on the lawn mower and that your mower is in good condition. H If your lawn mower is electric, use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock. H Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers or garden tractors.
While mowing: H Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection. H Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view. H If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the
mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired. H Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse. H Use extra caution when mowing a slope. H When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades. H With a riding mower, m ow u p a n d d ow n slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over. H Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed. H Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use. H Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. H Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before: • Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas • Removing the grass catcher • Unclogging the discharge chute • Walking away from the mower Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
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Include your HVAC system on your spring cleaning checklist Just like an automobile, your heating and cooling system needs maintenance to operate efficiently. Maintenance helps reduce energy bills by ensuring your unit is operating at peak efficiency. It also reduces the hassle of unexpected and inconvenient breakdowns. Call a qualified heating and cooling contractor to perform a seasonal tune-up on your unit. That way, you can relax and enjoy improved comfort and reduced energy bills.
www.peariver.com or 800-264-7732
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Our Sources Say
Those Brown Jobs
ur country’s economy was built on available, cheap energy. At its foundation, wood was plentiful and close to the population centers where it could be used efficiently. Later, coal fueled the industrial age. Coal’s abundance and low cost was a primary reason the U.S. became the world leader in manufacturing. Over the past 50 years, cheap oil gave us an advantage – not because we had a surplus, but because we could refine and deliver it cheaper than other countries. Lately, cheap natural gas from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale formations has given us a huge advantage in natural gas markets and driven a revival in chemical, fertilizer, plastics, glass and other energy-intensive industries. An example of how industry (and highpaying jobs that go with it) follows energy prices is the evolution of a direct-reduced iron (DRI) pellet plant in Louisiana. In
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative 42 MARCH 2013
2004, Nucor Corp. bought a DRI plant in Convent, La., dismantled it, and shipped it to Trinidad where it was re-assembled to take advantage of then relatively low natural gas prices. Of course, Louisiana lost the jobs associated with the plant. However, with current low natural gas prices in the U.S. (because of fracking), Nucor is constructing another DRI plant at the original plant site. The $750 million plant will be capable of producing 2.5 million tons of DRI pellets annually that will be combined with scrap steel to make new steel. Steel made from scrap is cheaper than new steel, and Nucor’s business model is dependent upon access to cheap energy. The Nucor Louisiana plant will be the second largest DRI plant in the world, behind only an Iranian plant that produces 3.2 million tons of DRI pellets a year. Chuck Bradford, an analyst with Bradford Research, Inc. says, “This is bigger than anything we’ve ever seen in the U.S. It’s a huge bet on gas.” The Convent area has been depressed, with jobs lost during the financial crisis and due to the increase in natural gas prices. The Nucor plant will employ 150 highly-skilled workers at an average wage of $75,000 per year, infusing economic growth in the region and offering hope of an economic rebound based upon cheap energy. Dow Chemical and Chevron Phillips Chemical also plan to construct multi-billion dollar chemical plants in Texas and Louisiana to take advantage of economical natural gas prices. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the revival of the Rust Belt with Royal Dutch Shell’s construction of a multibillion dollar chemical plant in Beaver
County, Penn. Because of cheap natural gas, that industry and other chemical manufacturers are bringing good-paying jobs to the region for the first time in 30 years. However, some people are opposed to these jobs created with natural gas for fuel stocks and energy production. They label them as “brown jobs” as opposed to the “green jobs” they prefer. They envision a country built on high-tech jobs that are environmentally friendly and carbon-free. They lobby Congress and the Administration to stop shale fracking, reduce fossil fuel usage, increase the cost of fossil energy and mandate use of renewable energy. Some of these people are in Congress and part of the Administration. They agree these actions will increase the cost of energy but insist that “green jobs” will be better than “brown jobs” if the government subsidizes increased energy costs. With pressure from activist groups and allegations that fracking contaminates drinking water, there is a real threat the EPA will prohibit all shale fracking. There is also the threat that EPA will severely curtail carbon emissions and increase the cost of all energy; or that Congress will pass a carbon tax that – while working to reduce the national debt – will increase the cost of energy for everyone. How would any of these actions affect the jobs created because of cheap natural gas? My guess is that the plants would be dismantled and shipped to places like Trinidad where there is still an abundance of cheap energy, and the high-paying jobs will go with them. After all, it has happened before. Thank you for reading. I hope you have a good month. A www.alabamaliving.coop
We currently are enrolling for gout, blood pressure, COPD, type II diabetes, and low back pain with constipation studies.
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My old motorcycle Submit Your Images! may Theme:
Send color photos with a large 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 www.alabamaliving.coop. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Deadline for may: March 31
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1. “Motorcycle Mama” Linda Henry riding her 1977 Moto Guzzi submitted by Ridge and Linda Henry, Smiths 2. Austin Pledger on his motorcycle submitted by Phillip and Benita Pledger, Thorsby 3. “Born to be wild” submitted by Thomas Sharp, Somerville
4. Kenneth and Sandra Jones on their 1976 Harley Davidson submitted by Sandra Jones, Georgiana 5. Michael and Jessica Lewis riding on their motorcycle submitted by Chico Lewis, Rainsville