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GREEN WITH ENVY | PRESERVING HISTORY | COMMUNITY GARDENS

JULY/AUGUST $4.95

SPACES IN THE HEART

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Home Goods | Kitchen + Bar Essentials | Events | Catering Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm · Saturday: 10am – 3pm Weekday Lunch: 11am – 2pm · Saturday Brunch: 10am – 2pm 462 Lane Drive · Florence, AL 35630 · 256.760.1090 · www.alabamachanin.com

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Serving the Shoals for 60 years!

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July/August

contents

32 LABOR OF LOVE BY ROY HALL  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Zac Abramson and Norbert and Sheryl Putnam share the trials and tribulations of bringing a century-plus-year-old home into the modern age while maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the original. 50 GREEN WITH ENVY BY ROY HALL  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD AND DANNY MITCHELL

Four lush gardens serve four distinct purposes—quiet contemplation, al fresco entertaining, wildflower sanctuary, and loving memorial— through the versatility and inspiration of nature.

© Patrick Hood

ON THE COVER: Paige and Blair Thornton’s renovated Killen farmhouse was a labor of love and a leap of faith.


A JURIED FINE ART FESTIVAL IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN DECATUR

SEP T EM BER

24 25 Details at

   

RIVERCLAY

' & " 5 6 3 * / (

CERAMICS, DRAWING, FIBER ART, GLASS, JEWELRY, METALWORK, MIXED MEDIA, PAINTING, PHOTOGRAPHY, PRINTMAKING, SCULPTURE, WOODWORK & MORE!

  

See you there!


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contents 72 SPACES IN THE HEART BY JENNIFER CROSSLEY HOWARD  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Interior designer Paige Thornton’s farmhouse renovation provides a chic and comfortable home base for family and friends. 84 EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN BY JENNIFER CROSSLEY HOWARD  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Kathy Pace, with the help of RiverWorks Design Studio, transforms her grandparents’ 1940s Tennessee River homestead into a contemporary showplace.

72

96 FRUITS OF LABOR BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

The sustenance and fellowship of the North Alabama community garden movement both nourishes and nurtures its users. 104 MIDCENTURY MODERN FAMILY BY ROY HALL  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

Carter and Brandi McGuyer’s lakefront home marries the couple’s aesthetic sensibilities and design know-how.

16 CALENDAR

200 50

84

SELECTED EVENTS FOR JULY/AUGUST 2016

18 CRYIN’ OUT LOUD BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

22 KUDOS BY ROY HALL

24 MARKET BY TARA BULLINGTON  PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

30 ROOTS BY NANCY SANFORD

96

44 FOLKS OF FLORENCE BY ABRAHAM ROWE

94 BLESS THEIR HEARTS BY DAVID SIMS

110 A FAVOR FOR ELEANOR BY SARA WRIGHT COVINGTON  ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROWAN FINNEGAN

116 FOOD FOR THOUGHT BY SARAH GAEDE

118 PARTING SHOT

104

110

BY PATRICK HOOD


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no’ala advisory board Jeremy Britten Anne Bernauer Vicki Goldston Leslie Keys Tera Wages Ashley Winkle

editor’s letter « Roy Hall

The More Things Change... If you believe the adage that change only makes things more the same, No’Ala should be more like itself than ever before. And despite all the flux around here lately, oddly enough, we are. Just in case our big news somehow passed you by, Allen Tomlinson, No’Ala editor and co-founder, and the nimblest thinker this side of the Mississippi, began making the case for increased cancer research from the other side of Portland’s Willamette River back in May, as marketing director for the Knight Cancer Institute. Meanwhile, your humble new editor moved in the opposite direction, eastward approximately 50 feet, to the former office of our creative director, David Sims, who still makes No’Ala beautiful, only these days virtually. Matt Liles, our president, still steers the ship, now from Allen’s old office. The rest of the No’Ala family—Jamie, Patrick, Justin, Rowan, Carole, Kathleen, and Tara, and our small army of brilliant freelance photographers, writers, and artists—have all stayed right where they were before. And thank goodness for that! Change may make things more the same, but it’s still nice to have a fixed, familiar point in the center of our hectic lives. That’s also about as good a definition of home as there is. Making homes beautiful is another story, and three Shoals designers share theirs for our annual Home and Garden issue. Paige Thornton has been proving for years that chic and inviting can peacefully co-exist with her Darby Drive interiors boutique, The French Basket. Paige’s home reflects that aesthetic, with the refined, airy elegance of the converted farmhouse she shares with her family. Industrial designer and boutique owner, Carter and Brandi McGuyer, combine the art of visual merchandising and the refined simplicity of form and function in their stylish, comfortable lakefront redo, just like in their careers. Another perfect union—elegant and casual—has never been more beautifully realized than in the work of RiverWorks Design Studio, for client Kathy Pace. The beauty and bounty of the great outdoors are represented here as well—in lush public and private landscapes and in the nourishing harvests of community gardens, whose missions to nourish bodies and souls feels a lot like home, too. Zac Abramson and Norbert and Sheryl Putnam have taken on the challenges of historic renovation, changing homes to make them more the same, and in the process reminding us of the rich architectural heritage of this place we all call home.


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contents July/August 2016 VOLUME 9: ISSUE 4

Allen Tomlinson PUBLISHER

Roy Hall EDITORINCHIEF

Matthew Liles PRESIDENT

David Sims CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Jamie Noles ADVERTISING DIRECTOR

Rowan Finnegan GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Justin Hall WEB DESIGNER

Tara Bullington EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Carole Maynard PROOFREADER

Kathleen Bobo DISTRIBUTION CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sara Wright Covington, Sarah Gaede, Roy Hall, Jennifer Crossley Howard, Nancy Sanford, David Sims CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Patrick Hood, Danny Mitchell, Abraham Rowe CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS Rowan Finnegan, David Sims No’Ala is published six times annually by No’Ala Studios PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: (256) 766-4222 » (800) 779-4222 noalastudios.com Standard postage paid at Florence, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2016 No’Ala Studios, All rights reserved. Send all correspondence to Roy Hall, Editor, at the postal address above, or by email to roy@noalastudios.com. To advertise, contact us at (256) 766-4222 or sales@noalastudios.com. The editor will provide writer’s guidelines upon request. Prospective authors should not submit unsolicited manuscripts; please query the editor first. No’Ala is printed with vegetable-based inks. Please recycle.

Connect with us on Facebook: No’Ala Studios Instagram: noalastudios, Pinterest: NoAlaStudios, and Twitter: @NoAla_Magazine


A Fresh Perspective on Governing Our City A critical decision

This year’s Mayoral election marks a critical point for the City of Florence. Instead of settling for “the way it’s always been,” we have an opportunity to work together and build a future for Florence - a future that enriches the lives of all our citizens, and provides the jobs and quality of life that will allow our children to call this wonderful community their home. It will take energy, commitment, and ability.

Fiscal responsibility I am not a politician. I am a successful businessperson, energetic community advocate, and lifelong resident of our area. Ensuring that Florence thrives requires fiscal responsibility, the ability to make sound business decisions, and more empowerment of all our citizens.

Accountable city government As Mayor, I will build a government that is accountable and transparent to its people, and one that is innovative in solving problems and establishing priorities.

I want your vote Join me. Vote Goode for Florence on August 23. Let’s work together to build our city’s future!

Be part of our conversation at GoodeforFlorence.com and Facebook.com/goodeforflorence Paid for by Susan Romine Goode for Mayor • PO Box 354 • Florence, Alabama 35631

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calendar

Friday, July 1 and Friday, August 5 Florence First Fridays The exciting monthly event gathers artists of all kinds—musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, hand-crafted jewelry creators, and more—for a community-wide celebration. 5:00pm-8:00pm; Free; Downtown Florence; firstfridaysflorence.org Monday, July 4 Shoals Spirit of Freedom Celebration The Independence Day celebration features performances by nationally-known musicians, food vendors, and activities for the entire family, and culminates with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Southeast. All day; Free; McFarland Park, 200 Jim Spain Dr; (256) 383-2525 Tuesday, July 12 – Friday, July 29 Mostly Blues exhibit To set the mood for the W.C. Handy Music Festival, area artists create paintings, drawings, and sculptures with a musical flair. Weekdays 9:00am-4:00pm; Free; Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 217 E Tuscaloosa St; (256) 760-6379 Thursday, July 21 – Saturday, July 23 Carousel The Ritz Theatre presents the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. 7:30pm; Admission charged; Ritz Theatre, 111 W 3rd St, Sheffield; (256) 383-0533; ritztheatre.ticketleap.com Friday, July 22 – Sunday, July 31 W.C. Handy Music Festival A week-long tribute to the “Father of the Blues,” W.C. Handy. Great Jazz and Blues music can be heard throughout the Shoals at restaurants, theatres, malls, parks, and other locations. The week will include over 100 events perfect for the jazz and blues enthusiast as well as great family entertainment. For a full schedule, including dates, times, and venues, visit wchandymusicfestival.org. Saturday, July 23 – Sunday, July 31 “I’ll Take You There”: The Music of Muscle Shoals UNA Summer Theatre’s original musical revue tells the inspiring story of the songs that revolutionized popular music worldwide. The production will include songs produced at local studios by such varied artists as Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, and The Staple Singers. Starring George Wendt (Norm from the hit TV series Cheers) and Felicia Fields (Tony nominated for her portrayal of Sofia in The Color Purple), Myk Watford, Jason Petty, “Mississippi” Charles Bevel, Dan Wheetman, David Keenan, Will Barrow, and more. July 23 and 28-31; Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2:30pm; Admission charged; The Mane Room, 310 N Pine St; (256) 765-4342; summertheatre.una.edu Tuesday, July 26 The Florence Camerata presents America Sings The Florence Camerata performs spirituals, sacred music, gospel standards, and other works. 7:30pm; Admission charged; First Presbyterian Church, 224 E Mobile St; (256) 765-4515; theflorencecamerata.com


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cryin’ out loud » Sara Wright Covington If you are familiar with this column, you’ve likely figured out that on more than one occasion, these lists make it to print here, which makes me a little bit like a literary Taylor Swift, who has become known for penning her serial break-up sagas by song.

WORDS TO THE WISE… My editors have been warned that I don’t have much of a filter these days, so each time a new issue makes it to print and I see my column there, I take it as a sign they haven’t fired me yet. Consider yourself warned as well, and just know that I’ve been a little irritable lately. Pregnancy can do that to a girl. As a writer and a devoted note-taker of irony, I tend to keep lists of things people say that strike me as particularly audacious or, in some cases, incredibly asinine. If you are familiar with this column, you’ve likely figured out that on more than one occasion, these lists make it to print here, which makes me a little bit like a literary Taylor Swift, who has become known for penning her serial break-up sagas by song. Before I launch into my tirade, let me state this: pregnancy is a gift. For a woman, I firmly believe that one of life’s greatest experiences is growing a tiny pod in your belly, and feeling that little thing kick, and move, and even hiccup as it grows over the months. But for every bit of pregnancy’s beauty, sacredness, and mysticism, it’s also uncomfortable, ugly, and awkward. Entire blogs, websites, essays, and social media sites have been devoted to pregnancy, and most every one of them feature some type of “don’t say this or that to a pregnant woman if you want to live” type advice at some point. And I freely admit, I have even said/asked a few of these myself. But this is my third baby, and I feel I’ve built up a stockpile of things people ask and say that just don’t cotton to us ladies with child very well. Disclaimer before you go any farther: please remember, my hypothetical responses to the below statements/questions are mostly/probably in jest. And IF you happen to be a close associate, friend, family member, or spouse of mine who has said any of these things, I DO still love you, but no one is exempt from the wrath of a pregnant lady. And really, you should know better. Here’s my list: Wow! You look like you are about to pop! I’m not actually! I have another two months to go. But thanks for noticing that these extra 20 pounds I’m carrying around aren’t stopping traffic or anything!


So have you heard of the Zika virus? I saw on the news that pregnant women should completely avoid mosquito infested areas. Zika virus? I’ve never heard of that! It’s a good thing I live in Alabama and am due in the middle of July so there’s, like, zero chance of being around any mosquitos! No, seriously, I’ve ordered a full-body mosquito suit off amazon.com that I’m planning to wear on the one occasion I leave my house this summer to venture into the outdoors so I can get in the car to go to the hospital to give birth. So you are having another girl? Are you super disappointed? Yes. We will probably just leave her at the hospital. Ha, that’s funny, Sara. But really, doesn’t your husband want a boy to carry on his name? Yes, it’s difficult to accept here in Communist China circa 1985 that we are going to be two over our household child limit, with no boys to even make it worthwhile. Still, don’t y’all want to try for a boy? Ok, we’re done here. So when do you think you will go into labor? Seriously? Little girls are just so high-maintenance. So are a lot of adults I know. Bless your heart. You look absolutely miserable. And you are definitely starting to waddle. Um, thank you? You really should try to work out in pregnancy. It will make delivery easier and you will lose weight faster after pregnancy. Thanks. I have two other kids under the age of four, so that’s my cardio. I’m also planning to breastfeed, which is also none of your business, and that burns an additional 500 calories a day postpartum. So, when you are jogging in place at home before bed, staring at your FitBit and attempting to hit your daily step goal, I will likely be eating ice cream while hooked up to a breast pump, milking the calorie burn for all it’s worth. Pun intended. Oh, I’m sorry, that grosses you out? Well, you brought it up.

Even though I’m a total stranger, can I touch your stomach? Oh, wait, I’m already reaching in before you even have a chance to answer me. Don’t you already have two kids? Did you do this on purpose? Yes! I guess my husband and I are just crazy irresponsible like that! So will you call me when you are in labor so I can sit in the waiting room and periodically stick my head in your room to check on your progress? No. Are you having a gender reveal party?! No. I stopped at two kids because I didn’t want to have to deal with the middle-child syndrome that happens with three. Yeah, I don’t know what we are thinking. Those middle children are the real dregs of society. How in the world are you going to take care of three small children? No idea. I guess we will just lock them all in a padded room with no light sockets or sharp edges and hope for the best. Didn’t you tell me that you are building a house right now? How are you going to move with a newborn baby? Are you insane? Have we met? Haven’t we already established that I’m completely bat-bleeping crazy? Ha Ha, really, I’m just not going to move. The new owners of our house are going to let me live with them until the baby is a year old and I can resume a normal functioning lifestyle that would allow me to physically relocate. I can’t believe you are having another baby at 36. Yeah, when you get pregnant at 36, they automatically stamp your forehead with the letters AMA, which stand for Advanced Maternal Age. I’m required to graze in a separate pasture from the rest of the pregnant cattle. I mean, the risks go way up once you hit 35 though, don’t they? Aren’t you worried about that? So worried that I actually chose to do this on purpose.

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scene

Andy Frith, Andrew Sutherland, and Keely Law Bruce Dillard, Cellie Morgan, Jennifer Frith Knapp, and Jane Frith (front) Bryan, Alex, Andrea, and Annabelle Rachal

Jennifer Frith Knapp and Matthew Mayes

Jim and Kitty Darnell

Abraham Rowe, Martha Beadle, and Michelle Eubanks

Nancy and Meghan Muse

Above: Art Under the Stars may ,  · kennedy-douglass center for the arts, florence

Will Trapp, Brandeis Short, Roy Hall, and Kaitlin Wallace

© Christi Britten

Below: Pillar and Peacock Grand Opening april ,  · pillar and peacock, florence

Adrianne Bugg, Brandeis Short, Anita Whitaker, and Kaitlin Wallace

Barry Auchly, Brandeis Short, and Adrianne Bugg

Brandeis Short and Adrianne Bugg

Tripp and Adrianne Bugg, Brandeis and Shawn Short, and Kaitlin Wallace

Jimmy Weaver and Michael Snyder

Jill Wallace and Adrianne Bugg

* Names for photos are provided by the organization or business featured.

Brandeis Short, Marshall and Donna Williams

Brandeis Short and Adrianne Bugg greet guests © Vickie Pewitt


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kudos

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If you want to share some good news about a friend, neighbor, or colleague—or even toot your own horn—send your kudos to roy@n roy@noalastudios.com.

by roy hall

Josh Quick

Norbert Putnam The University of North Alabama Softball Team © Joseph Romans

National Champions Congratulations to the University of North Alabama softball team for their 2016 NCAA Division II National Championship title win over the Humboldt State Lumberjacks and to pitcher Hillary Carpenter, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Carpenter, from Hatton, Alabama, finished the Series with a perfect 5-0 record, tying the NCAA record for most wins in the finals. 

The Junior League of the Shoals

American Seafood Cook-off,” Quick says. “It feels great to be a pioneering force in bringing more recognition and exposure to the Shoals area and the food being served here.”

This is the university’s very first softball national title.

Wasted Away Again in “GRAMMYville” The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences announced in May that producer and Florence resident Norbert Putnam will be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame for his contribution to the 1977 Jimmy Buffett hit “Margaritaville.” “Jimmy Buffett and I were nominated for the GRAMMY back then, but lost. We waited a long time for this great honor,” Putnam says. The studio engineer and songwriter Buffett will also be honored along with Putnam. “Margaritaville” has sold between 30 and 40 million copies in various compilations over the last 39 years, making it one of the best-selling recordings of all time.

The Quick and the Red Odette chef Josh Quick’s red snapper won the Alabama Seafood Cook-off held in Orange Beach in May. “I am very excited to be able to represent Alabama in the Great

 | noalastudios.com | july/august 

Chef Quick heads to Nawlinz in August for the Great American Seafood Cook-off.

Junior League of the Shoals Gives Back The Junior League of the Shoals presented $51,000 in donations to 20 community organizations in April. The grant money is raised primarily through two annual fundraisers, Apple Annie Day and Sugarplum Marketplace.   Many thanks to the Junior League for supporting these worthy organizations: Attention Homes of Northwest Alabama; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Colbert County Sheriff; FAME Girls Ranch; Community Action Agency of NW Alabama: Meals on Wheels; Cramer Children’s Center; Easter Seals; Hatton Elementary School; The Healing Place; Lauderdale County Special Programming Achievement Network; NAMI Shoals; One Place of the Shoals Rape Response/Shoals Crisis Center; Safeplace; Threadgill Elementary School; Shoals Community Clinic; Society of St. Vincent de Paul; Tennessee Valley Art Association; United Way: Success by 6; YMCA of the Shoals


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[A]

market » By Tara Bullington » Photos by Patrick Hood [A] OUTDOOR FABRIC ($20/YD) THREAD (256) 275-7112

[E] GREEN CHAIR ($250) INGRAM’S INC. (256) 764-9142

[B] LIGHTED DECK CABLE RAILING ($100/FT) RIVERWORKS (256) 314-2444

[F]

[C] BROMELIAD ($23) [D] YELLOW POT ($55) COLDWATER NURSERY (256) 249-2353

PILLOW ($200) PILLAR & PEACOCK (256) 349-5202

[G] FISH MOBILE ($57) [H] BLUE POT ($9) COLDWATER SEED & SUPPLY INC. (256) 383-2038 [G]

ALL DECKED OUT

[H] [B]

[F]

[C]

[E] [D]


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market

ALABAMA AL FRESCO

[A]

[B]

[C]

[D]


[A] ICE CREAM MAKER ($260) COLDWATER SEED & SUPPLY INC. (256) 383-2038

[F]

[B] BOWLS ($13.99/EA) THE TREASURE HOUSE (256) 381-2270

[G] FLOWER CANDLE HOLDER & WINE CORK ($24) SWEET BASIL CAFÉ (256) 764-5991

[C] KITCHEN PAPERS OUTDOOR DISPOSABLE PLACEMATS ($25) PRINTERS & STATIONERS, INC. (256)764-8061

PETRIFIED WOOD FISH ($560) RIVERWORKS (256) 314-2444

[H] BIRCH FLOWER POT ($59) COLDWATER SEED & SUPPLY INC. (256) 383-2038

[D] STONE BOTTLE OPENER ($24) [E] STONE WINE DISPENSER ($120) CLOTH AND STONE (256) 767-0133

[F] [E]

[F]

[H]

[G]

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market

GREEN WITH ENVY

[A] HERB GARDEN CRATE ($30) [B] BEE HOUSE ($17) [C] WATERING CAN ($33) COLDWATER SEED & SUPPLY INC. (256) 383-2038 [D] SPADE GALVANIZED DOUBLE POTS ($26) THE SURPRISE STORE (256) 766-6810 [E] [F] [G] [H]

[B]

BLUE BIRD BATH ($45) BOXWOOD TOPIARY ($130) HERBS ($4) ROSE GLOVES ($30) COLDWATER NURSERY (256) 249-2353

[I]

CERAMIC MUSHROOM STAKES ($25/EA) [J] GARDEN STONES ($10/EA) [K] VINTAGE CLAY POT ($20) THE YELLOW DOOR (256) 766-6950

[F]

[E]

[D]

[G]

[A] [H]

[C]

[G]

[I]

[K]

[J]


VOTE AUGUST

23

MICHELLE EUBANKS

FLORENCE CITY COUNCIL, DISTRICT 4

• Coffee High School and University of North Alabama graduate • Veteran journalist, having won statewide, regional, and national awards • Marketing Director for Shoals Hospital • Downtown Florence Unlimited board member and vice president • First Fridays publicity chairwoman • Arts Alive co-chairwoman with husband, Jeff Eubanks • University of North Alabama National Alumni Association first vice-president • First Baptist Church member and communications committee member • City of Florence Bicentennial Committee member • Coffee High School Alumni Scholarship Board member

Michelle and husband Jeff Eubanks have two daughters, Maeve, 14, an 9th-grader at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts; and Ally, 9, who is in 5th grade at Kilby.

PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT BY THE MICHELLE EUBANKS FOR FLORENCE CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE 1642 DECATUR AVE., FLORENCE, AL 35630

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roots » Nancy Sanford, Florence-Lauderdale Public Library

This summer, the bricks and mortar of Coffee High School will come down, but the memories of those who attended school there will always remain.

SAYING GOODBYE TO A DEAR FRIEND This summer, a beloved part of our community will be razed, forever changing the landscape of Florence. As we prepare to bid a warm, final farewell to Coffee High School, we look back on 65-years-worth of precious memories the school leaves behind for its thousands of former students and teachers.   The building many of us have come to love wasn’t the first to house Coffee High. Florence’s original Coffee High School opened in 1917 and was located just blocks away on what is now Hermitage Drive, where the UNA women’s dormitories are currently located.  Mrs. Camilla Madding Coffee donated the land for that building to the school board and requested that the school bear the name of her late husband, Alexander Donelson Coffee, the son of General John Coffee.  The journey toward the new Coffee High began in 1940, with the school system’s purchase of a 25-acre tract of land to be used as a football stadium, along with other needs the school system might encounter over time. The school board demonstrated its appreciation for forward thinking by hiring famed New York landscape architectural firm the Olmstead Brothers to design the property. The site’s first project, Coffee Stadium (later renamed Tom Braly Municipal Stadium, in memory of a beloved principal), was built in 1941. The economic demands of World War II put the community’s dreams of a new high school on hold for nearly a decade, until 1949, when construction began on the new building designed by Birmingham architect Charles McCauley. Built in the International Moderne style of architecture, the construction price tag for the school was a whopping $1,100,000—over $10,000,000 adjusted for inflation. (When the new Coffee High School opened, the old high school was renamed F. T. Appleby School.)   By August of 1951, the building was ready for the first students to attend. The campus consisted of three units, con-

nected by breezeways. The academic building included 28 classrooms, a library of 5,000 books and seating for 60, a cafeteria that accommodated 300 students, and a 1,576-person capacity auditorium. The ground floor of the academic building was longer than a football field at 360 feet, with faculty lounges bookending the main floor.  Much to the appreciation of students and teachers alike, the school was air-conditioned. Newspaper articles tell of other modern conveniences featured in the building, such as an intercommunication system linking all rooms and departments with the principal’s office.  The building was designed to accommodate additions as needs arose. And many needs did arise over the years.  The first addition arrived in 1960 with the addition of 14 new classrooms. A new gymnasium was constructed on the front lawn of the campus in the mid-1990s.   This summer, the bricks and mortar of Coffee High School will come down, but the memories of those who attended school there will always remain. In her 1964 valedictory address, Elizabeth Lancaster finished her speech by saying, “... may the sense of sincere thankfulness that we hold as we leave Coffee High School remain with us always.”  Farewell, old friend.


SHORT-STAY

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july/august  | noalastudios.com | 


Zac Abramson

 | noalastudios.com | july/august 


LABOR OF LOVE The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

text by roy hall » photos by patrick hood map illustration by david sims

The mortgage papers are signed. The boxes are labeled. The movers are booked. But before a single stick of furniture crosses the threshold of your brand new, very old home, be sure your to-do list includes these errands:  

And then there’s the kitchen wallpaper. Four layers down, and you’ve only just arrived at an avocado cornucopia; that can only mean one thing: 1975. Forty years’ worth down. One hundred and fifty to go.  

First, drive to the courthouse, search through the archives, and locate your home’s original plans. If you can’t track down the house plans, ask the archivist for a 19th century insurance appraiser’s map of your neighborhood. Using that map as your guide, verify the threshold is original to the home and not part of a later addition. If it isn’t original, keep looking—that’s the door you’ll want to use.  

There are easier ways to make yourself at home. But for interior designer Zac Abramson, a veteran of four exacting, exhausting, ultimately exhilarating residential rehabilitations, none is more satisfying than the restoration of a historic residence.  

Next, leave the family photos, the art, the mirrors, the shelves, the sconces, and the curtain rods in their boxes until you’ve tested the brick for sturdiness. You don’t want grandma’s portrait smashing into those heart of pine floors. Besides, the contractors haven’t started the excavation process; you can’t be sure that wall will still be there next week.  

That’s restoration, Abramson clarifies, not renovation. The difference between the two is significant, Abramson says, and before we dig any deeper behind those kiln-fired, clay bricks, the designer explains why.  

You can’t even be certain the room you’re standing in will be there next month.   Then there’s the century-old wiring to consider, the integrity (and color) of the mortar, whether or not the walls are plaster (probably) and how messy any repair work will be (very), and all that before you even think about the bathrooms (sigh).

Restoration vs. Renovation

If you remove the siding or the windows and replace them with energy efficient alternatives, that’s a renovation. If the tiny kitchen isn’t practical, the adjoining butler’s pantry isn’t necessary, and you decide to make the two rooms one, that’s a reno.    “If you alter a house in a significant way to make it useful for a modern family,” Abramson says, “that’s renovation.”  

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LABOR OF LOVE: The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

Above: The Connor Home, 458 North Court Street | Below: The Edward O’Neal Home, 468 North Court Street

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Restoration, on the other hand, is the much more arduous, budget-stretching process of preserving as much of the original structure as possible. “If the siding is poplar,” Abramson says, “you replace it with the same material.” A few concessions are allowed for safety and comfortability, such as adding insulation, or re-wiring or re-plumbing, when necessary. “You are, after all, buying a house, not a museum,” Abramson concedes. But for the purist—and restoration can sometimes be an exercise in absolutism—creative alterations are out.    Ultimately, the goal is to “restore the house to its most reasonable incarnation for modern use,” Abramson says.    “The key to the whole process is research,” Abramson says, and back in the early 1980s when he took on his first project, a 1930s cottage in Birmingham, resources were more abundant. “The Alabama Historical Commission was well funded and staffed in those days,” Abramson says. “They’d recommend architects, plasterers, brick masons.” The AHC remains, but budget cuts mean the agency is no longer able to offer homeowners the same attention or resources it once did. The stretched-thin Historical Trust doesn’t make the process of residential restoration impossible, of course; it just makes it a bit more of a treasure hunt.   With one 20th century restoration under his belt, Abramson came home to the Shoals in the early ’90s and purchased what is commonly held to be the oldest brick home in Lauderdale County—Wakefield, an 1825 Federal cottage-style home built by James Sample of Sample Brick House and Dry Goods. In addition to owning the Shoals’ only brick yard, Sample was also a spec builder, and Abramson’s home served double duty as Sample’s residence and a show house. “Sample had a design book with profiles for windows, door construction and design, how to do paneling under windows,” Abramson says. Residential construction all along the east coast had been largely standardized by that time, and Wakefield’s early Federal style is what you’d expect to find in a house of that period. “But things were already starting to move toward big columns and elaborate plaster work.”   And intricate masonry. Abramson identifies Wakefield’s complicated brick pattern as “Flemish bond” and traces the brick to Sample’s yard, located on what is today’s UNA campus.   “Bricks weren’t consistent colors in those days either,” Abramson says, of the variability we in the modern age take

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LABOR OF LOVE: The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

for granted, but which 19th century homeowners found dis- field’s original footprint included a carriage house and two pleasing. “Dark red, light red, tan; they really didn’t like that.”   outbuildings. Worthwhile for their historical insight, these kinds of revelations also provide homeowners with an opTo solve the problem of the multi-colored brick, a cottage in- portunity for a historically accurate expansion. The discovdustry, as it were, developed. “Itinerant workers would come ery of a long-gone free-standing kitchen, shed, or carriage by and paint the whole house red, then paint the mortar house, for example, introduces the possibility of a guest joints white,” Abramson says. The paint wasn’t permanent— house, pool house, or outside office, if the structure is recreit succumbed to the elements—so every few years, the work- ated as closely as possible to the original.   ers would make another circuit, touching up whatever the “We gutted it.” elements had worn away since their last visit.   Next came the faux grainers. “They’d make your cheap wood look like mahogany.” Unlike today, when faux finishes are often an economical compromise for those of us who can’t afford the real thing, some of 19th century’s most affluent homeowners preferred the substitute to the original. “Even George Washington,” Abramson says, “had his own on-site faux grainer.”   “The Sample house was by far the biggest restoration project of all.” At least three families, two businesses, and one incarnation as a boarding house separated the Wakefield Abramson discovered in 1994 from its unaltered, original state. Immediately after the Samples, organ builder J. Hurd Walker made the residence his home and workplace—Abramson has pipes discovered in the basement to prove it. Walker augmented his pipe organ-building income by renting apartments carved piecemeal from the home’s floorplan. Four units total, each complete with tiny kitchens and bathrooms carved out of existing rooms, divided the house.   Following the Walkers, the Glen family took up residence in the Sample home, keeping its “rabbit warren” of boarding rooms intact for nearly half a century. Abramson purchased the home from them.   To guide the renovation, Abramson tracked down 19th century insurance adjusters maps in the courthouse archives. Published by the Sanborn company, these maps—Abramson refers to them as the “Google maps of the 19th century”— plotted the size and location of residences and commercial buildings, which the insurance company used as a reference for determining insurance rates.     Abramson located the Sandborn map of upper Court Street in a Birmingham archive. He also discovered that Wake-

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“We took out all the additions, and the extra rooms,” Abramson says of the process that returned the 19th century dwelling to its original floorplan, right down to the woodwork. Or, in this case, the plaster-covered brick walls. “Just try hanging a picture,” Abramson laughs.   “Once you start taking it apart, you can see the footprint of the original,” Abramson says. The Samples built the front and oldest section of the house in 1825. In 1855, an additional wing was added. “You can tell the difference between handhewn and saw mills,” Abramson says of the tell-tale evolution in construction methods that had become commonplace between the early and middle of the century.   The century-old roof was in terrific shape; all it needed was a scrubbing. “Four men divided the roof into sections,” Abramson says, “and hand cleaned it using natural bristle brushes.” Abramson reckons he won’t have to replace the metal interlocking shingle roof unless something falls through it.    A few years back, that very scenario played out over Abramson’s parents’ heads, when a tree pierced their century-old roof. (Old houses run in the Abramson family; Zac’s parents’ home was his third restoration.) “When they went to purchase a new roof to match, the insurance company opted for a copper roof,” Abramson says. “That’s how expensive the original one would have been to replicate.”    Was a copper roof acceptable, historically? Yes, Abramson says. “The damaged roof wasn’t original.”   The brickwork also proved sturdy, with a few exceptions. Two hundred years ago, brick makers like the Samples were unable to regulate the temperatures of their kilns. That meant bricks nearest the heat source were harder, while the ones farther way were softer. Some of those softer bricks


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LABOR OF LOVE: The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

Above: The Karsner-Kennedy House, 301 North Pine Street | Below: Home of Bill and Janice Carson, 640 North Wood Avenue

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needed replacing. Not surprisingly, “soft brick” isn’t a common category at construction supply stores. Ever resourceful, Abramson managed to track down a guy with a stockpile of 19th century brick.   As it happens, the hard brick is as conductive as it is sturdy. “After the restoration was complete, and I’d moved in, I was lying in bed reading one night, when the whole house started to shake.” Nothing in the next day’s paper explained the rattling—no factory explosion, no tornado, no train wreck. There was, however, an earthquake just outside Memphis. The eightfeet-deep, all-brick foundation sent the tremors up the stairs, and right up Abramson’s spine. “Now I have earthquake insurance,” Abramson says. “Fifteen dollars a year.”   As for the stuff between the bricks, even that doesn’t escape the attention of the dedicated restorer. “When I bought the house, that mix had washed out of the brick joints,” Abramson says. “I hired somebody to make new mortar, using local sand to avoid a color change.” Filling in the lines of mortar was possibly the most time-consuming part of the entire restoration. “They take a really thin trowel,” Abramson explains, “hold the board next to the joint, and slough the stuff in. Then it has to be cut in.”   “The mortar man stayed in my house for three months.”   Restoration is not a process for the faint of heart or the easily frustrated; weekend warriors would fall on the battlefield, day one. But for someone with the heart and the fortitude, the result is worth the time, research, and expense. “There was a brilliance to it,” Abramson says of the artisanship that went into our architectural heritage.    A few blocks north and west of Abramson, one block off Pine, stands the regal Second Empire home of Norbert and Sheryl Putnam. (The Putnams were kind enough to invite No’Ala into their home for our 2016 May/June issue. We were so impressed by the grandeur of the rooms, we decided to take advantage of their hospitality, and invite ourselves back for this issue.) The Putnams’ home is among the oldest in Florence; its original portion, a single room in the rear of the existing structure, was built in or around 1820 and served as a tailor’s workshop. Subsequent owners added the remainder of the home in 1826 and honored their predecessor’s profession by naming the home Thimbleton.

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LABOR OF LOVE: The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

“If the siding is poplar, you replace it with the same material. A few concessions are allowed for safety and comfortability, such as adding insulation, or re-wiring or re-plumbing, when necessary. You are, after all, buying a house, not a museum.” —Zac Abramson

Thimbleton, with its soaring 20-foot-high ceilings and floorto-ceiling windows, is the sort of house that often passes through multiple owners for decades, its luster diminished with each successive sale, or is revitalized by new tenants with an appreciation for the richness and integrity of the past. The Putnams belong to that second category. The couple has been rescuing dilapidated treasures as long as they’ve been together; so many, when asked for the total number of renovations, Sheryl Putnam pauses, cocks her head, and counts silently. “Thimbleton is the eighth,” she declares. Along the way, the Putnams found the time to do three commercial renovations, too. The Putnams are busy folks, even in the midst of their supposed retirement, and full-scale restoration work of the sort Abramson undertakes is not in the cards. The Putnams are renovators. “We modernize the baths and kitchen,” Norbert Putnam says, “but we leave the rest.” The couple have a template they duplicate with each new renovation. “We open up the windows. So many of these old homes have heavy draperies on the wall. We believe in letting in the light,” Norbert says. Doors and trims are painted creamy white and the walls Irish linen. The couple deviated a bit from their standard color scheme with Thimbleton, painting the living room a rich navy blue. A lighter color would have made the huge spaces look like an auditorium, Norbert says. Thimbleton is the oldest house the Putnams have renovated. Their first, in Grenada, Mississippi, was built in 1870. Another Grenada house, an Italianate from 1880, followed. They refer to a Jackson, Tennessee, home from a few renos back, built in 1920, as the “new house.” Too new for the Putnams’ taste, it turns out.

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Along the way, Sheryl Putnam rescued a Masonic Temple in Grenada from certain ruin, converting it into an antique mall and event space—and making several dozen pigeons homeless along the way. Of the dusty demolition, Sheryl says only half-jokingly, “If I get TB, that’s why.” Music producer Norbert Putnam, meanwhile, never spied a space he didn’t think could function just as well or better as a recording studio. And so it went with his renovation of an abandoned bank in Memphis, where he designed and oversaw the conversion of the cavernous, marble-columned lobby into a recording studio, and the tellers’ booths into isolation chambers. The Putnams residential renovations aren’t nearly as protracted or intense as Abramson’s, which means the couple shares their homes with the electricians, painters, and plumbers who do the heavy duty work. They have also had the occasion to share a home with its previous, invisible owner. “I have a favorite hymn I used to play on Sunday mornings,” Sheryl says. “Norbert loved it, too.” Apparently Norbert wasn’t the only fan of the hymn. One afternoon, Sheryl went out to visit her parents, leaving Norbert in the bath upstairs. “I hear what I assume is Sheryl playing the piano,” Norbert says. “I come downstairs a few minutes later to discover a completely empty house, and a message on the answering machine from Sheryl telling me she’s gone out.” Neither Putnams seems the least bit off-put by their spectral house guests; maybe because they think of themselves as guests in a sense, too. “We don’t see ourselves as the permanent owners of these beauties,” Norbert says. Sheryl agrees— “We’re caretakers.”

See page 42 for an illustrated map of some of Florence’s oldest structures.


Above: Rogers Hall on the UNA campus | Below: Coby Hall on the UNA campus

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LABOR OF LOVE: The Risks and Rewards of Historic Preservation

5

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“We don’t see ourselves as the permanent owners of these beauties. We’re caretakers.” —Norbert and Sheryl Putnam

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The homes here represent a small sample of the Shoals’ architectural heritage. To hear more about the grand old homes of Florence, No’Ala recommends a walking tour by master storyteller and Florence City Historian, Billy Ray Warren, who pointed us toward the ones pictured here—all of which date prior to 1850. Warren’s walking tours of downtown Florence take place every year in April, or anytime by appointment. He is available at (256) 718-5020. 1 450 North Court Street Built in 1825, Wakefield, home of Zac Abramson and Barry Baker, is presumed to be the oldest, extant brick home in Lauderdale County. Multiple sources relying on substantial, if anecdotal, evidence report that builder James Sample modeled the home on George Washington’s ancestral home. 2 458 North Court Street Another James Sample spec house, the Connor home predates its next-door neighbor Wakefield by several years. 3 468 North Court Street Circa 1840, the Edward O’Neal residence was home to father-son Alabama governors, Edward and Emmet O’Neal. 4 301 North Pine Street Built in the late 1820s, the Karsner House was restored to its original condition in 1970 when the Florence Housing Authority purchased and refurbished the home. The Karsner House is currently home to Florence Main Street. 5 640 North Wood Avenue Among the oldest structures in north Florence, the builder of this North Wood Street home lent his name to Wood Avenue, previously known as Merchant Avenue, in reference to the street’s primary use as a link between country farms and downtown markets. 6 221 Tuscaloosa Street Once the home of two of Florence’s most prominent families, the Kirkmans and O’Neals, Norbert and Sheryl Putnam’s Thimbleton is a prime example of Second Empire architecture. 7 Coby Hall on the University of North Alabama Campus Built by prominent Florence merchant John Simpson in 1843, the stately mansion was donated to UNA by David Brubaker, in memory of his wife, Coby. The structure features the intricate bricklaying pattern known as “Flemish bond,” also seen in the Abramson home, Wakefield. 8 Rogers Hall on the University of North Alabama Campus Perhaps the most austere and pedigreed of Florence residences, Rogers Hall, as it is now known, dates to 1855 and has been the home of Gov. Emmet O’Neal and the Rogers department store family, who donated the home to UNA in 1948.

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photo essay by abraham rowe » intro by roy hall

FOL KS

OF

F LO R E NC E

Everybody has a story.

A rite of passage, a “Sweet Home” memory, and a bittersweet homecoming, in this edition of photographer Abraham Rowe’s Folks of Florence series.

For more stories like these, visit Rowe’s Folks of Florence photo-documentary archive on Facebook. ■

Very special thanks to Abraham Rowe for sharing his work, and to his subjects, for sharing their stories.

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“I just started working here in Florence in January. I used to work down in Auburn, and I came back to take care of my mother until she passed away. She didn’t want to go to a nursing home, and I didn’t want to put her in a nursing home. I was working in construction, but the guy I was working with moved back to Georgia and it left me unemployed. At first it was slow going and stuff, but I put my head back on my shoulders and got back into it.”

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FOLKS OF FLORENCE “I was sitting next to my friend during the ceremony, and I think she summarized it perfectly. She said, ‘It feels like it’s taken both forever and one day, all at the same time.’ The person I was as a freshman isn’t the same, so that helps make it feel like it’s been so much longer. I want to go to med school, so it’s not the end for me, but it feels good to finish something.”

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SUMMER TO GO Pick up a pint or quart of our famous chicken salad for a quick delicious summer picnic. Plus, discover our other delicious to-go meals— ready today—for your summer gatherings!

CALL 256.764.5991 TO PLACE YOUR DELIVERY ORDER OR VISIT FACEBOOK.COM/SWEETBASILCAFE FOR MORE INFO.

1627 Darby Drive in English Village • Florence

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FOLKS OF FLORENCE “The very first thing I did as a real job in the music business was promote a show. We rented an office upstairs at Pegasus to run the production company out of. We booked Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, and Jimmy Buffett at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum. April 22, 1974. “I heard ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ before it was released and booked them on the strength of that one song. At that point Buffett’s music was living and dying in 3/4 time. It worked fine as long as you could hear the other acts setting up backstage, but when the noise behind the curtain stopped, the crowd got restless and started yelling ‘Rock and Roll’ and basically drowned Buffett out. It was still great; we sold out the coliseum. But Buffett got booed off stage.”

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gREEN WITH ENVY

by roy hall » photos by patrick hood and danny mitchell

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The well-tended garden, situated between the untamed wild and the comfort of civilization, offers the bounty and inspiration of nature alongside the serenity of home. The gardens in the pages ahead—bounteous, vibrant, refined, and peaceful— remind us of one writer’s observation that “no two gardens are the same; no two days are the same in one garden.”

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ToM’S SHADY SPOT photos by danny mitchell

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Tom Pebworth was the Shoals’ go-to guy for tomato-growing expertise. Each spring, students gathered at the library or at Master Gardener events to hear Tom’s take on how to grow the perfect, well, tom. His PowerPoint presentation, with slide after slide of instructions about how to make Empires and Romas thrive, concluded with a confession that always drew laughs: “And I don’t even like tomatoes…” “But he loved to grow them,” Claire Pebworth says, “and I loved to eat them. So it worked out.”

About six years ago, Tom’s love of tomato planting was supplanted, if you will, by a new love: hostas. In short order, Tom’s hosta garden numbered 50 species, most all sourced locally. Tom bought most of his hostas from family friend Peggy Davis’s Lotsa Hosta. (If there’s ever been a better name for a business, anywhere, please let us know.) Claire admits she can’t tell the difference between most of Tom’s hostas, but she does love one called the drinking gourd, with its cup-like leaf. The three-feet diameter tortilla chip is a favorite, too. Tom built beds out of stone and rocks, and with the help of several Shoals Master Gardeners, he put together a lath, for shade. Hostas require lots of shade and water, but that’s about it—except when they’re planted under a hackberry tree, as Tom’s are; then they also require vigilant weeding to clear the seedlings before they take root. After Tom got sick with cancer, one of the few things he could still do was lie on the ground and pull weeds. “He loved it,” Claire says. Tom understood he was the gardener in the family, and so he insisted that Claire not feel required to maintain his hostas. Claire says Tom was right—he was the gardener in the family. But she’s seen to the renegade seedling here and there and kept the garden watered. It’s a lovely remembrance of Tom for her and their children.

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“BUT HE LOVED TO GROW THEM, AND I LOVED TO EAT THEM. SO IT WORKED OUT.” CLAIRE PEBWORTH

One of Tom’s hand-drawn sketches of plant placement.

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Though hostas are thought to have originated in China, the modern plants were introduced from Japan to Europe in the mid-1800s. Popular varieties include Francee (green leaves with white edges), Gold Standard (yellow leaves with green edges, Undulata (green leaves with white centers), June (blue-green leaves with creamy centers), and Sum and Substance (a huge plant with chartreuse-yellow leaves). Right: In addition to the wide variety of hostas, Tom’s garden includes ferns, Lenten roses, lilies, and Gerbera daisies.

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WILd WOMAN photos by patrick hood

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Margie Anderton’s three blissful acres of wildflowers, hydrangeas, and native azaleas are the result of a decade’s worth of careful planning and daily tending. Ten years is a long time, of course, but for such a thoughtfully planned garden, it might just as well be a month. And for most of us, it would be, but for Master Gardener Anderton, president of the Shoals Wildflower Society and Treasurer of the Alabama Wildflower Society, planning and planting beautiful things has been a part of her life since childhood.

A childhood, it just so happens, Anderton spent in the Killen house she again calls home. After her mom passed away, Anderton returned to her childhood home, where she began the process of converting the property she’d known all her life into the beautiful garden we had the pleasure of photographing in May. Anderton’s garden isn’t the sort of project you walk away from after it’s finished; a gardener’s work is never done—that’s part of the fun. Anderton reckons that upkeep requires as much as three hours every day. And even though Anderton’s thumb may be colored indelibly green, she insists no one should feel intimidated by the prospect of planting their own garden. “I’ve killed more plants than anyone,” she says, laughing. It’s a learning process, growing things, and Anderton encourages anyone—beginners and lifelong gardeners alike—who would like to learn more about the Shoals and Alabama chapters of the Wildflower Society to visit alwildflowers.org. Shoals Master Gardeners are online at shoalsmastergardeners.org.

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Below, right: Anderton admired the unusually shaped rock in a dry creek bed years ago while on a wildflower trip. She hoisted the rock from the dry creek bed, lugged it home, plopped it in a flower bed, and promptly forgot about it. Then, about a year after her beloved Springer Spaniel Barney had to be put down, Anderton spied the rock again and noticed for the first time its remarkable resemblance to Barney. “It made the hairs on my arm stand up,” she says. Below, left: “That’s my husband and I,” Anderton says of the shed-side photo. “My son made us dress up like that years ago. He had it mounted on metal and gave it to me for Christmas last year.” Left: The goldfish pond and water features serve double duty as lovely focal points for the garden and an animal oasis. After the drought two years ago, Anderton decided to provide her goats and horses, all of which have access to the garden, with a reliable source of water. Uninvited guests, like armadillos, raccoons, and skunks, enjoy the watering hole, too.

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“I’VE KILLED MORE PLANTS THAN ANYONE.” MARGIE ANDERTON

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SECRET gARDEN photos by patrick hood

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“ B a c k ya r d ”

B

seems like an understatement for the artfully designed green

space behind Mac and Kim Mauldin’s North Florence home. And discovering the lawn, hidden from view by the home’s L-shaped footprint, feels a bit like being let in on a wonderful secret. Lush, verdant, and thoughtfully planned, the space is laid out geometrically, divided by shrubs into distinct areas that subtly reference interior spaces. A checkerboard of cement pavers defines a living room; hedges create a great room out of an open lawn; there’s even a kitchen in the form of a gas grill, tucked unobtrusively behind cypress trees. The notion of bringing the outside in is as commonplace these days as the open floor plan, but both come to life here quite literally, and to superb effect. This is a backyard to host a family reunion, a formal reception, or to sit alone and read, blocks from downtown, but miles away.

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SACRED SPaCE photos by danny mitchell

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Trinity Episcopal’s garden and columbarium offer parishioners a quiet, meditative place for reflection mere steps from busy Pine Street. The meditative space the garden offers isn’t restricted to church members, though. Trinity welcomes the community to enjoy the serenity. In fact, Betty Prichard, a Trinity member and volunteer who helps maintain the garden, thinks of the green space as a kind of outreach project, available to everyone, regardless of their faith, who would like to sit quietly for a while and commune with nature.

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SPACES IN THE HEART by jennifer crossley howard » photos by patrick hood

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SPACES IN THE HEART

hen Paige Thornton and her husband moved last winter from their s home on Wilson Lake to a renovated farmhouse in Killen, the only new decor she added was a light fixture. Thornton, owner of The French Basket, a design and interiors store in Florence, incorporated the item from her store’s inventory with existing decor, in keeping with advice she gives her clients, to personalize their abodes around treasured items. “Your things are adaptable to any new application,” she says. “It’s just about arranging and layering the pieces. When I go in and work with a client, I love to see where their life came from, their journey to now.”  She describes the style of her new home as refined rustic. The comfortable 3,500-square-foot house on 10 acres has plateglass windows with panoramic views. The small barn serves the caretaking needs of a rather modest farm boasting of a garden, two horses, four cats, and a dog. Thornton and her husband, who share the home with their high school and college age children, considered renovating a year before they took the leap of faith. They had overseen previous renovations, but this time they were intent on getting their hands dirty. The eight-month renovation began last May, and they began their move in December. “I don’t think there was a square inch of the house that we didn’t touch,” Thornton says. The couple tore up old floors and carpet, knocked down walls, and removed a toilet. They relied on workers for construction during the eight-month renovation. They added 15 feet to the back of the house that allowed for a larger family room with a

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Paige Thornton, owner of The French Basket in Florence, relocated from a lake house to a small farm in Killen last year. The home is a social anchor for Thornton, her husband, and her children, who are in high school and college. The 10-acre farm hosts a barn, two horses, four cats, and a dog.

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SPACES IN THE HEART

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fireplace, an upstairs den, an extra bedroom, bathrooms, and Thornton’s favorite room, a screened-in back porch. Their westward facing front porch draws them to watch the sunset after work, wine glasses in hand. “I didn’t think we would be front-porch people,” Thornton says with a laugh.  She designed everything from the board and baton exterior to the painted white plank walls in the kitchen and living room. She whitewashed natural white oak floors to subdue their yellow tinge. The white kitchen is the center of the home, pulling together the open floor plan with its exposed cabinets and quartz and concrete countertops. She accented her neutral canvas with wood furniture, linen, and color from art and plants. A tall fiddle leaf fig tree accentuates a sloping roof in the upstairs den. A bleached deer skull and antlers hang in an outdoor bathroom made of tobacco farm wood that Thornton’s grandfather salvaged 20 years ago.   Artisans from around the region unified a quiet, calming aesthetic. Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman milled wood and glass doors for the front of the house similar to the ones on its storefront. Elgin artist Lucas Stokes designed ironwork around the opening of a repur-

Thornton worked primarily with dark and light colors throughout the home including the back porch, master bedroom, and living room. The look of the home, which she brands refined rustic, includes plenty of texture, including wicker, plank board walls, and cement in the back porch (facing). The master bedroom utilizes the contrast of light and dark that flows throughout the home, and a single painting adds a punch of color (facing, bottom left). The upstairs sitting area uses leather, linen, glass, and bamboo to create a comfortable yet elegant place to hang out (facing, bottom right). The kitchen (left) has the same white plank wood walls as the back porch. Its white background allows colors of everyday items—pottery, baskets, and fruit— to display in their simple beauty.

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SPACES IN THE HEART

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“I LOVE MIXING STYLES AND MATERIALS AND DIFFERENT PERIODS. I SORT OF LIKE TAKING MY STYLE ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE. I DEFINITELY LIKE KEEPING UP WITH TRENDS, BUT YOU WON’T FIND EVERY TREND IN MY HOUSE.” —PAIGE THORNTON

The home integrates mementos and decor that Thornton’s family has collected through the years, including an iron fireplace opening in the living room by Elgin artist Lucas Stokes (facing, bottom left). Thornton’s interior design philosophy embraces using what you have and adapting it to a new environment. The living room (above) includes pieces from Thornton’s previous home, a modern lake house.

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SPACES IN THE HEART

posed wood fireplace. An Amish family in Etheridge, Tennessee, milled barn wood out of poplar. A leftover piece contained a hole. Never ones to waste, Thornton and her husband smoothed it for use as a countertop. “I love mixing styles and materials and different periods,” Thornton says. “I sort of like taking my style all the way to the edge. I definitely like keeping up with trends, but you won’t find every trend in my house.”  She documents the home’s renovation and interior design through her Instagram page—@thefrenchbasket—and its natural light snapshots garner dozens of admiring comments.  Thornton’s  mission with the farmhouse was to simplify life, which she muses friends do not understand.  But the tranquility and support proved rewarding. So did her relentlessness. “I was so determined that we were going to be here for Christmas that I was literally putting up the Christmas tree while workers were still here,” she says.  

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The laundry room (facing) displays art, some of which relates to a central theme in Thornton’s life: her faith. The upstairs landing (this page) has built-in bookshelves that display small family photos. The landing marries a myriad of styles, including antique, modern, and rustic with a grid mirror, urns, and a mix of light fixtures.

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by jennifer crossley howard » photos by patrick hood

Kathy Pace took a family heirloom and rebuilt it from the ground up. As a child, she toddled around her grandparents’ property on the Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals, back when most of the homes served as spare, almost rustic camp houses reserved for summer weekends. Pace moved into the home in 1980 and commenced the first of three remodels, attempting to modernize the 1947 home. Pace added board and baton siding and a deck, “but it was a small house,” Pace says. She contacted RiverWorks Design Studio in Muscle Shoals, a whole home design firm that builds, designs, and furnishes. She wanted a Tuscan style home and worked with Jordan Faerber, interior designer at RiverWorks, to achieve that. The two-story home was designed by architect Phil Kean of Winter Park, Florida.  “I like to entertain and have the space to entertain,” Pace says.  Kean marries the sleek, efficient lines of Frank Lloyd Wright with materials such as stone, wood, and tile.

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EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

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Designer Jordan Faerber carried stacked stone throughout the home from an accent wall to a fireplace in the lanai. Retractable screens cover all sides of the lanai and cable railing leaves the river view unobscured. A generous wave of driftwood suggests a mantle for this lanai fireplace.

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EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

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Faerber carried the same flooring throughout the home and out onto the lanai. Phantom retractable screens cover all sides of the lanai and cable railing leaves the river view unobscured. “It helps blur the line between interior and exterior,” Faerber says. 

Warm neutrals get a lift from lavender accents by way of crisp linens and lush velvets in the sitting room across from the kitchen (facing), and again in the

Lexington furniture artist Robin Wade made Pace’s mantels, bar, and counters in her wine room. Faerber recommended quartz countertops in the kitchen for durability and stain resistance. She combined wood, linen, and metal and worked with a gray paint palette to create a modern but warm and timeless aesthetic. Most wood was reclaimed and whitewashed, and Pace’s sleek sofa is one that Faerber is confident will endure decades of trend changes and wear.

living room (above).

Metal chandeliers, one spherical and another curvy, add a Tuscan touch and cast a soft glow over the home. “She likes modern design, but she kept it feminine,” Faerber says. 

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EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

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The wine room proves antiques can shine among modern surroundings. Linen, wood, and Pace’s grandmother’s chandelier all complement each other (facing). The kitchen’s sleek, dark wood cabinets and white quartz countertops create contrast and add harmony to the home.

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EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Alexander Modern Homes out of RiverWorks built the home. Owner Rusty Alexander says open floor plans like Pace’s are a trend in new homes and those being remodeled. Though most of the home is brand new, Pace salvaged the original cabinets from the camp, and used her grandmother’s antique table and chandelier, which hangs in the wine room.  Pace, a metal salesperson, works out of her home, and a day at the office is a good day indeed.  Hickories, dogwoods, oaks, and Japanese maples cover Pace’s land, giving her privacy and beauty.

The master bath incorporates the same quartz and wood as the kitchen, and a large standalone soaking tub adds modern glamor.

“I’m not actually looking at someone’s house right outside the window,” she says. Pace moved in in May, a year and a half after she sought out RiverWorks, and she plans on celebrating with a housewarming party.  “I wanted to keep the property so my friends and family could enjoy it,” she says.  

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94 »

bless their hearts » David Sims

There are parts of this trip that are both stunning and surreal. Mountains so high they take your breath away. Spooky rock formations that look as if they were salvaged from a Martian movie set.

OLD DOGS. NEW TRICKS. H Have you ever heard of the American Institute of Stress? What about the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory? Well the former compiles the latter, which is a 43-something list of some of life’s most stressful events that assigns a point value to each. If you receive 300 points or more, they say you have an 80 percent chance of a stress-induced major health breakdown. If you receive 150-300 points you have a 50/50 chance of losing it, and so forth—on down to those with a relatively “low amount of life change,” which I can only assume applies to cats, who really don’t feel stress. Or anything for that matter. I scored a 149, but the list doesn’t include cross-country trips with a geriatric dog—through some of the most uninhabitable, WIFI-free parts of the United States—so I’m rounding my tally up to 150, which certainly qualifies me for some cupcakes, chicken soup, or even a few “bless your hearts.” So, why would I move across country with an old dog? W Well, bad segues aside, most of you already know that answer. A few years ago we visited a dear friend in Portland, Oregon, and fell madly in love (with Portland, not our dear friend). We made a pact to retire there in five years, and put into motion a very detailed plan to do so. Sell our house in the Shoals and rent a cool place downtown. Check. Bring on a younger, smarter partner. Check. Teach him all facets of the business and work with him for the next three years to prepare him for our departure. (Insert sound of needle dragging across a vinyl record here.) This is where Allen decided—on a whim—to apply for a major position with the Knight Cancer In Institute, part of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). Well, he got it, bless his heart. A And suddenly our five-year plan became a three-and-a-half-year plan. Or something like that. Fa Fast-forward to April of this year, when Allen leaves for Portland and his new life while I finish up th the May/June issue of the magazine, pack up 20 years of my (old) life in the Shoals, and prepare for a four-day, cross-country trip to our new home. I’m not a fan of road trips. Rather, I’m not enamored with the idea of seeing the country—slowly, leis leisurely, or otherwise—via a car—unless that car is an airplane cabin, chugging along at 500 miles per hour. As an aside, I am eagerly awaiting the further testing of that newfangled invention that shoots you cross-country via a vacuum tube—just like a bank deposit. If it weren’t for our precious, aforementioned old dog, we would have just sold the car and flown. But our sweet, little love nugget is a tad too “substantial of stature” to cram (place) under the seat in front of me, so we had to drive. The Trip Wednesday, May 25 The packers arrived and packed everything but the bed, so I could sleep in the apartment one last time. They even left me with an empty box and a roll of tape so I could pack the sheets the next morning. Matthew the Min Pin knew something was up, and he took this opportunity to punish me with an evening of him staring at me with disdain and contempt.

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Thursday, May 26 The movers arrived, loaded the boxes, wrapped the furniture in blankets, packed the large Mayflower truck, and drove away into the sunset. I was to pick up Allen at the Huntsville airport at around 7:30 p.m. and then we were supposed to make our way to Nashville, have a nice dinner, and begin our big adventure early Friday morning. Then everything went South, when everything was supposed to go West. Ultimately, flights were delayed many hours and I got to spend an extra evening in the Shoals. I could have called some friends to keep me company, but I had said so many good-byes—so many ny times—that most people kept thinking I was back for a visit when, in reality, I had d never left. Friday, May 27 (Florence to Huntsville to pick up Allen at airport hotel; Huntsville to Kansas City, Missouri) This was the last day I drove. It’s not that I didn’t offer; in fact, I had spent weeks mentally preparing myself for driving at least the first portion of the day, but Allen had been away from his car for two months and they missed each other. Yes, I’m sticking to this version of the story. Stop rolling your eyes. It’s at this point in the story where I should tell you that I probably won’t be eating another McDonald’s sausage and egg burrito, despite it being a very car-friendly food, ever again. If you can call it food. Nashville to Kansas City was not that bad, really. We were still officially in thee South, and the surroundings weree very familiar to me. My olderr brother and his family live just out-side Kansas City, and we thought it would be a great spot to stop for the night. You know, see some familiar faces. But my brother “had previous plans,” so we decided to drive past Missouri into Kansas. To Topeka. (If you’re a proud resident of Kansas, you should skip on to “Sunday, May 29.”) Topeka is full of black and white silent movie sadness. Dorothy Gale certainly had the right idea. I too would have summoned a tornado just to get a little color back in my life. Saturday, May 28 (Topeka to Laramie, Wyoming) Folks, Kansas never ends. And it’s flat. And there are no people to speak of. It’s as if the highway is an airport moving sidewalk and you’re rushing to catch a flight in Colorado. The countryside, however, is beautiful, and it is at this point when the term “big sky” starts to mean some-

thing special. And, when you can’t go out to eat because hotel regulations prohibit you from leaving your dog alone in the room, that grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli takeout from Applebee’s becomes something special as well. Sunday, May 29 (Laramie to Boise, Idaho) There are parts of this trip that are both stunning and surreal. Mountains so high they take your breath away. Spooky rock formations that look as if they were salvaged from a Martian movie set. And skies that envelop you in a dome of deep blue, dotted with hundreds of puff y clouds. some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I have Utah had som even seen. And there was an Applebee’s directly across the street from our Hampton Inn. What a great country we live in. Monday, May 30 (Laramie to Portland, Oregon) On our way out of Idaho, and just before Oregon, the terrain shifted to a desolate desert. Mix in the fact that we had no cell service (again), and I began to imagine drags ging my blistering body across hot asphalt g during the day and sheltering myself from d the t blistering cold of night, all while a hungry g Min Pin eyed my fluff y dad bod from across our d makeshift encampment. m But B things change quickly in these parts, and as we crossed a mountain range into Pendleton, Oregon (should have bought some blankets!), our world turned lush and green. Soon, we were following the Columbia River into the area called the Gorge, instantly knew we had made the and we insta right decision. This was truly as beautiful as it is sold. And I was excited to be in this paradise. Today, as I continue to unearth T myself from a sea of cardboard boxes, m I look forward to the last chapter of our lives—knowing that I have left one truly l special place for another. I’m lucky I get s to keep designing this special magazine. I’m even luckier that I get to keep one hand in the Tennessee River while I test the waters out here. And now, after driving across country for the first time in my adult life, I have realized something momentous. Maybe you really can teach an old dog some new tricks.

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by sara wright covington » photos by patrick hood

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“As long as you’ve got a little land, you can feed yourself,” says Heidi Tilenious, Lauderdale County Coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), whose community garden located on Veterans Drive is on its way to full bloom as this issue goes to print. In a world where food is readily available through grocery stores, drivethrough windows, and even delivery to our doorsteps, it’s easy to forget there was a time when everyone lived off the land. Our ancestors used weathered hands to dig in the dirt, sow the soil, and collect their crops. Those same ancestors valued staying physically active, being able to provide for themselves, and understanding what it meant to nurture something from its very inception to its end. The concept of community gardens— common pieces of land gardened by many individuals in a community—has been around since the late 1800s when economic recession made it necessary to use vacant areas of land for gardens to assist the poor and unemployed. The popularity of community gardens has ebbed and flowed over the years, through periods of war and peace and economic ups and downs. The last few years have seen a resurgence in community gardens as people turn to group gardening as a means of producing food as well as teaching work ethic, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and gardening education. North Alabama’s community gardens are thriving as citizens of all ages and abilities are showing up to share the fruits of their labor. The ACES garden on Florence’s Veterans Drive is just one of those North Alabama gardens. No’Ala took some time to tour a few others who are growing something

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much bigger than their harvest and offering it up for the greater good. Taylor Vandiver, Regional Extension Agent for Lauderdale County’s Extension System, knew when she graduated from Auburn University with both an undergraduate and master’s degree in horticulture that she wanted to use her education to teach and work with others for a worthy cause. Vandiver’s predecessor, Chris Becker, was the driving force behind Lauderdale County’s garden and spent two years securing funds, developing rules and criteria, and researching the project before it came to fruition. “This garden is a vehicle to what we do here at Extension,” says Vandiver. “We are here for education and to help the community with health, nutrition, money management, and improving their quality of life.” To qualify for one of ACES’ 40 individual raised beds, an individual must be a veteran, disabled, a senior citizen, of

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low income, or a person whose residence provides limited or no growing space. Master Gardener John Norton, who helps oversee the project, says the garden’s designers kept their users in mind as they planned the space, raising beds to avoid unnecessary bending and incorporating adequate space between rows to accommodate wheelchairs or crutches. “The older segment of our clients probably haven’t gardened for many years,” Norton says. “But they like being able to stay independent and active.”

GARDEN HARMONY For some, the draw of community gardens is primarily about fellowship. Lowe Mill’s community garden, located just south of its iconic water tower, doesn’t include the formalities of many of the larger community gardens. The atmosphere here, apropos of an artists’ facility, is more laid back, providing artists and patrons with a natural, serene space to relax during breaks, or with friends and family in the breezy, evening shade of the garden’s shed. Greg Israel and Mike Burgiel help maintain the garden, which is now thriving in its seventh year. “We really just wandered into it,” says Israel. We were interested in plants, and there was already a small flower garden there. We just came down and started helping.” Over the years, they have done much experimenting to see what grows best and what doesn’t. Crop decisions are made collectively, but tomatoes, okra, and peppers are mainstays. Chef Will, whose popular food truck is based at Lowe Mill, gets a lot of their produce, while much of it is harvested and then placed on a table inside Lowe Mill and distributed using the honor system. They also take excess produce to the Greene Street Market in downtown Huntsville. Over the years in the garden, various artifacts from the mill’s past have surfaced, including old shoe molds, railroad spikes, and old pieces of glass and pottery from Lowe Mill’s manufacturing days. Mike’s wife Brenna, who helps with the garden, says although they would eventually like to expand, you don’t need very much space to grow a whole lot of food. And while the food is an awesome benefit of the communal space, the ultimate purpose is staying connected to each other. “This is the living room of Lowe Mill,” she says. “The artists come here to decompress, and this is where we spend time together as an informal family. It’s a nature preserve out here. We see all kinds of wildlife and at the end of the day, we bring out blankets and our dogs and our kids and just enjoy it. It’s our little oasis in the middle of the city.”

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Orientations, held at the beginning of each planting season, explain garden rules and policies. Herbicides are not allowed; neither are some crops, such as corn, sweet potatoes, and squash, which take up too much space or grow to heights that can block sunlight from other beds. No one is allowed to adjust the irrigation system, and gardeners are required to tend to their beds at least once a week. The majority of the crops produced are tomatoes, peas, beans, eggplant, okra, peppers, radishes, melons, as well as many varieties of flowers and herbs. Each year, different groups donate seeds and fertilizer. Its first year alone, the garden yielded over 2,100 pounds of produce during the summer growing season, which would translate to thousands of dollars worth of food in retail. “Cooperation from clients was amazing the first year,” says Norton. “We put a weigh station out there to weigh and record the produce, and we didn’t know if it would be used or not. But the biggest surprise with the garden is that we never considered there would be so much food there would be waste.” About a third of the surplus is donated, with the majority going to the local homeless shelter and The Help Center, which is run by several community churches. In addition to donating surplus food, ACES also provides nutrition education and offers cooking demonstrations at The Help Center. “It just speaks to the real mission of what we do,” says Tinenious. “No food is left to rot. It’s all harvested and donated. There is so much cooperation, and we have people who sponsor rehabilitation. Gardening is therapeutic. If you are angry about something, you can get out there and pull weeds.” Madison County also boasts several community gardens, and like the ACES garden of Florence, most of them have a philanthropic mission at the heart of their harvest. Nonprofit organization CASA (Care Assurance System for


the Aging) of Madison County maintains one of Alabama’s oldest gardens, which has been providing for elderly and homebound citizens since 2001. The garden covers nearly three-quarters of an acre and averages about 5,300 pounds of produce each year. Shawn Escher has been the CASA’s Garden Services Coordinator for almost four years. Escher spends much of his time working with volunteers, including several regulars and many of the groups who come through to offer their efforts, including churches, college fraternities and sororities, and sports teams. “Depending on what experience they have, I assign different tasks,” says Escher. “I demonstrate for them and we just sort of wing it from there. Some groups are more skilled than others, but we get what we can, and thank everyone. If they come out here, it is their intention to help.” CASA’s garden serves approximately 300 clients in Madison County, delivering all of their efforts to the elderly and homebound. Their harvest includes peas and beans, fruit, potatoes, corn, okra, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and various other greens. In addition to the garden’s crop, CASA

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“IT JUST SPEAKS TO THE REAL MISSION OF WHAT WE DO. NO FOOD IS LEFT TO ROT. IT’S ALL HARVESTED AND DONATED. THERE IS SO MUCH COOPERATION, AND WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO SPONSOR REHABILITATION.” — Heidi Tilenious, Alabama Cooperative Extension System

also has a gleaning program that averages an additional 4,500 pounds of produce each year. The concept of gleaning is borrowed from the Old Testament book of Ruth, in which the poor were allowed to gather what was left in the fields after the farmers had collected the harvest. CASA, along with other non-profit groups, meets at the Madison market on Saturdays where sellers at the market donate leftover produce that won’t make it to the next market. “We are not in any way, shape, or form feeding these people, but they get five to seven deliveries per year, ranking from one to three bags,” says Escher. “I just appreciate the mission itself. The most rewarding volunteer opportunity we have is to deliver the produce to our clients and to know we are helping our seniors to age comfortably at home.” In addition to providing food for those who are of limited means and abilities, community gardens like CASA and the ACES garden offer opportunities for fellowship and personal growth that keep people coming back each year. Master

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Gardener John Norton says one of the most rewarding things about his job is teaching others and watching their progress. “I love the look on people’s faces when they actually realize they have grown something they can eat,” says Norton. “I don’t know these people before the program, but I know they are all smiles here. It’s just a very good vibe.” Waiting lists for community garden space is typical, as those who start planting often stay. As produce yields continue to grow, North Alabamians can likely expect to see more and more garden spaces pop up in their communities. For some, it’s about that final yield and sharing the fruits of their labor, but for many, it’s their personal growth that keeps them returning to the gardens. “I love seeing the collaboration between people and their beds,” says Taylor Vandiver. “They talk, and they make and can food together, and they form relationships. Gardening is social and therapeutic.”


To find out how you can become more involved with one of the community gardens near you or to schedule a tour, see the below contact information for the gardens featured in this piece. Garden hours vary by location, and an appointment may be necessary.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Lauderdale County Extension Office 802 Veterans Drive Florence, AL 35630 256-766-6223 email: hlt0005@aces.edu www.aces.edu/Lauderdale

CASA of Madison County 701 Andrew Jackson Way Huntsville, AL 35801 256-533-7775 email: info@casamadisoncty.org www.casamadisoncty.org

Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Community Garden 2211 Seminole Drive, SW Huntsville, AL 35805 256-533-0399 email: marciafreeland@lowemill.net www.lowemill.net w.lowemill.net

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MID-CENTURY MODERN FAMILY by roy hall » photos by patrick hood

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or years, Carter and Brandi McGuyer ran their product design firm, Carter McGuyer Design Group, from a loft in a downtown Tuscumbia building while living and raising their daughter, Zoe, in a loft in the same building. You can’t beat the commute, but there was a downside. “A week would pass, and I’d realize I hadn’t left those two floors,” McGuyer says. With Brandi copacetic that the family home and the family business needed more than a foot or so of concrete between them, the search began for alternative spaces. First, Carter and Brandi swapped a set of stairs for O’Neal Bridge and began commuting to CMDG’s new location in downtown Florence. Next, Carter, Brandi, and Zoe headed for the lake, where they bought the first house they saw. Not that it was love at first sight. The home, which did not make a great first impression, had been on the market for a while. Problems were numerous: the floor plan was choppy, the kitchen was awkwardly situated, the front door opened directly into a staircase leading to the bottom floor, and worst of all, in Carter’s estimation, “the home didn’t highlight the main feature of the house—the lake.” The McGuyers were undeterred. “I like to see potential in houses and help them reach it,” Brandi says. Along the way, both individually and as a couple, Brandi and Carter have helped at least six homes and a condo reach their full potential—seven structures all told if you count the downtown Florence storefront Brandi transformed into GRL BTQ, which she undertook in the midst of her home reno. Brandi and Carter improve functionality and enhance beauty for a living. Plus, Carter interned as an architect back in the day. “So we did everything,” Brandi says. “All the design, the new floor plan, and the décor.” The renovation proceeded in two phases, beginning with a total gut of the top floor. “We completely redid the kitchen,” Carter says. “No part of the original was left.” Carter added a pony wall to the staircase to prevent an unintended drop-in to the ground floor, reoriented the kitchen to face the spectacular lake view, and painted everything. “We always go with white or grey,” Brandi says. A neutral base color allows Brandi—who thrives on change—to transform to her heart’s content, with throws, rugs, or pillows, while leaving the home’s basic color scheme untouched for Carter, who considers projects finished when the last picture is hung. Carter and Brandi nudged walls and shifted spaces to create a master and guest bedroom and three generously-sized bathrooms out of the home’s original three bedroom/two bath upstairs configuration. Downstairs, the McGuyers

FUN, FUNCTIONAL, AND BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED, SKATEBOARDS PROPPED JUST INSIDE THE FRONT DOOR PROVIDE AN APT INTRODUCTION TO THE LAKEFRONT HOME OF CARTER, BRANDI, AND ZOE MCGUYER.


MID-CENTURY MODERN FAMILY

ABOVE: THE EXPANSIVE LIVING ROOM, DINING AREA, AND KITCHEN RUN THE LENGTH OF THE HOME’S REAR HALF, ENCOURAGING CONVERSATION AND ENTERTAINING. AN EFFORTLESS, ECLETIC MIX OF FURNITURE, TEXTILES, AND ACCESSORIES KEEP THE EYE MOVING THROUGHOUT THE SPACE. THE ADJOINING DECK’S CABLE RAIL ALLOWS FOR UNOBSTRUCTED LAKE VIEWS. BOTTOM LEFT: A CABINET FLANKING THE STAIRCASE PROVIDES STORAGE AND DISPLAY OPPORTUNITIES, WHILE ITS PANEL DESIGN ADDS GRAPHIC TEXTURE TO THE NEUTRAL COLOR SCHEME. BOTTOM RIGHT: FLOOR-TO-CEILING WINDOWS FLOOD THE MAIN FLOOR WITH LIGHT, AND WOODEN CEILING BEAMS PULL THE OUTSIDE IN. FACING PAGE: THE MASTER BEDROOM’S NEUTRAL PALETTE CREATES THE IDEAL SPACE FOR RELAXATION. LIKE A WHITE DINNER PLATE, THE MINIMALIST KITCHEN PROVIDES THE PERFECT BACKDROP FOR A COLORFUL HOMEMADE MEAL OR A CASUAL EVENING OF TAKEOUT.

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“WE COMPLETELY REDID THE KITCHEN. NO PART OF THE ORIGINAL WAS LEFT.”

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MID-CENTURY MODERN FAMILY

transformed a conglomeration of rooms into a bedroom, teenager sleepover station (bunk beds sleep 16!), and a huge, multi-purpose entertaining area. Altogether, the transformation took about a year and a half, with a three-month break in the middle to allow the McGuyers, who lived in the home throughout the renovation, to catch their breath. After all the upheaval, is this the McGuyers’ forever home? Brandi and Carter share a smile. Maybe; maybe not. With all the homes out there with unmet potential, who can say?

ABOVE: THE COMFORTABLE, RELAXED GROUND LEVEL FAMILY ROOM OPENS DIRECTLY ONTO THE PATIO AND THE PIER BEYOND. RIGHT: A COLLECTION OF VINTAGE WATER SKIS ADD A WHIMSICAL, GRAPHIC WELCOME TO THE ENTRY.

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News, classical music and more 88.7 FM Muscle Shoals • 100.7 FM Huntsville www.apr.org

ABOVE: “WE TRIED TO INCORPORATE A LOT OF WHAT WE’VE SEEN WHILE TRAVELING,” BRANDI SAYS OF THEIR TRAVEL TAKEAWAYS. AMONG THEIR FAVORITE VACATION INSPIRATIONS, A SOAKING TUB/SHOWER COMBINATION EXTENDS ALONG ONE SIDE OF THE MASTER BATH. WHITE SUBWAY TILES IN A HERRINGBONE PATTERN AND BRUSHED BRASS FIXTURES ADD VISUAL INTEREST. LEFT: BRUSHED BRASS PULLS AND FIXTURES ADD A REGAL, LUXE TOUCH TO THE MASTER BATH’S CUSTOM NAVY CABINETRY; THE INTRICATELYFRAMED PAIR OF MIRRORS HAVE AN UNEXPECTED PROVENANCE: THEY’RE BIG BOX STORE FINDS, PAINTED WHITE BY CARTER.

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In-laws. You can’t live with ’em; unlike Eleanor’s fifth husband, Jimmy, you can’t bury them in the backyard. In this seventh installment in the continuing saga of Eleanor and her suspiciously departed husbands, Sara Wright Covington introduces us to the wayward widow’s long-suffering daughter-in-law, Hope. If you haven’t had the pleasure of making Eleanor’s slightly daff y, thoroughly diabolical acquaintance, or if you’ve missed a few chapters along the way, we invite you to catch up anytime by visiting the Read Online link at noalastudios.com/shoals. The series begins in our July/August 2015 issue.

a Favor for Eleanor Chapter Seven: Hope by sara wright covington » illustrations by rowan finnegan

God this women is intolerable. If she’d just die already, or at least have the decency to get herself formally committed to the full-out 400 unit where they didn’t allow visitors, she could spend the remainder of her miserable days sedated and strapped to a gurney. At least then she would be out of my hair. Mrs. Eleanor McIntosh Darby Foster Dauterive Smithfield Harrison lay motionless in sandpapery sheets at Bryce Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa, while her daughter-in-law, Hope, sat slumped and sulking in the corner. Hope’s husband William (Billy) Hagen Foster IV stood across the room at his mother’s bedside, cautiously regarding the half-comatose woman in the bed as if expecting her to suddenly spring up at any moment and demand to know who was responsible for the far too over easy eggs sitting on the untouched plastic tray to her right. Even in her sleeping state, Eleanor commanded her son’s entire person, and he stood perched, ready to ring the nurse’s button as soon as his mother’s eyes so much as fluttered open. Hope pulled oversized sunglasses from atop her head down over her eyes to shield the sunlight streaming from the window and pretended to doze, all the while taking in the scene before her with half-hooded eyes. She’d taken a Xanax an hour earlier and pounded a mini bottle of Chardonnay right before they arrived in the car. While Billy had been pumping gas, she had carefully smuggled the little bottle out of her purse and poured it into her emptied paper coffee cup left from their breakfast at Panera Bread, saved specifically for that purpose. Billy didn’t approve of her self-medicating, but medicated was the only way she could tolerate his mother, comatose or not. And Hope was now just the right amount of buzzed to deal with the old bat.

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A Favor for Eleanor Chapter Seven: Hope

She supposed it might have been easier if Billy had any siblings to share the burden of his harpy-turned-homicidal mother, but alas, there were none, and this was the encumbrance a woman faced when marrying an only child. Billy worshiped his mother, like so many of the other idiot men she’d dated in her lifetime, which honestly hadn’t been very many, but enough for her to see a pattern. By the time they had been on their third date to the Alabama versus LSU game in the fall of her senior year, Billy was already speaking candidly of his mother, singing her praises on everything from her impeccable appearance to her pimento cheese— which Hope would later learn wasn’t even her own creation, but a sweet neighbor’s who always made a batch for when Billy came home from school. This, and so many other discrepancies of Eleanor, she would learn seated in Eleanor’s own kitchen, perched at her breakfast table, as Lucille, the women who really raised Billy, shelled peas and peeled potatoes. Maybe Hope had always been more comfortable with the help, but still she had somehow fooled her own husband, a mistake his mother also made in her fifth union apparently, marrying well below her own class. Still Hope had been absolutely taken with Billy from the moment he set foot in her Alabama History class in the fall of 1974, and she would have done anything to win him over. He was tall and slim, and had sandy hair that always grazed over his right eye. So when Billy finally invited her to meet his mother, she was determined to pull out all the stops to impress the woman he idolized so much, especially in the midst of his father’s untimely death. There were so many times throughout her years of marriage to Billy that she had thought back on the very first time she’d met Eleanor. That afternoon had seemed to seal her fate in so many ways. She and Billy had driven over from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham just a few weeks before Christmas to meet Eleanor, who was in town to do some shopping. Mother only shops in Birmingham, he’d said. It’s the only place she says she can find clothes that don’t look like they came from a general store. He’d chuckled at that, tossing his head to get that hair out of his eyes, and easily maneuvering his Camaro Z28 into a tight parking spot right in front of The Bright Star restaurant in Bessemer. Eleanor had insisted they meet there for lunch, as she said they had the best crab cakes north of the Gulf Coast. As they waited on Billy’s mother to arrive, Hope had sat nervously clutching the handles of the brand new Louis Vuitton Speedy in her lap, its signature monogram LVs spread across gleaming brown vinyl. She knew enough from

 | noalastudios.com | july/august 

her University of Alabama pledge sisters that it screamed nouveau riche, but new money was better than no money— an irony never lost on Hope as she had neither. But she’d begged for the bag, and her mother had agreed to pay for half as a graduation present, if she could come up with the rest of the money. So while her fellow collegiates spent their family money summering in Europe or sunning poolside at prestigious country clubs throughout the Southeast, Hope worked all summer waiting tables to match her mother’s money and finally mail ordered her very own bag from Neiman Marcus. It was a purchase her old money friends would never have made, as they slung their mother’s and grandmother’s weathered hand-me-down Louis bags in the passenger seats of 10-year-old BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, hopping in to ride to the Club in Birmingham for lunch. Hope knew that flash was trash, according to the old money code, so she had secretly put her own brand-new bag on the window sill of her tiny dorm room so that the sun might hasten the aging process of those leather straps, creating that honeyed-withage look. She had dressed so carefully for lunch that day, in a navy suit borrowed from her roommate Elizabeth, whose mother had had it custom tailored for Elizabeth’s older sister’s bridesmaid’s luncheon. The label said it was Givenchy, which Hope had never heard of, but she knew if it was in Elizabeth’s closet, it was expensive. Elizabeth had griped for weeks about her mother forcing her to wear it and once the wedding was over, she’d tossed it to the back of their shared closet with no intentions of it ever seeing the light of day again. Hope had also borrowed Elizabeth’s double-strand pearl necklace and demure navy pumps, which were of another label she didn’t recognize, likely another good sign. Billy had looked at her strangely as she had walked out to get into his waiting car for the 45 minute trip to Birmingham. You look, uh, dressed up, he’d said. Good, I mean, just dressy. He was wearing striped polyester slacks with a wide collared shirt that Hope was certain his mother would hate, but it was the ’70s after all. Eleanor was 15 minutes late for lunch, but she made no apology when she’d finally swept in, breathless and windblown from the December breeze. Designer Diane von Furstenberg had just debuted what would become the fashion phenomenon of the wrap dress earlier that year, and Eleanor wore the trend well on her lithe frame. Her dress was rich red and creamy colored plaid and she had a simple black silk scarf tied smartly at her neck. Hope had been instantly aware of two things: firstly, she easily could have passed as being 10 years older than Billy’s mother, and secondly, sitting in a corner table with her boyfriend and his stylish mother as they ordered beers and crab cakes, she was


be anywhere. She flipped through those pages and dumbly exclaimed, “Oh my! Look at how fat Billy was as a baby! He is the fattest baby in nursery! He looks so healthy to have been born early.” Lucille had only briefly glanced up from kneading dough on the counter to give her a withering look before returning wordlessly to her task and then busying herself with putting biscuits in the oven. Those disdainful looks were ones Hope would grow familiar with through the years, and Lucille had only confessed to her in recent years her relief at having discovered Hope wasn’t completely daft in those early days.

extremely overdressed. After the initial introductions (Hope is such a sweet little name. Is it a family name, dear?), they all had sat at a table and Eleanor had lifted a slender, manicured hand to call the waiter over and had taken the liberty of ordering crab cakes and bottles of beer for the three of them. She paused momentarily to flash that deceptively charming smile at Hope and to say, “Is that alright dear? You look a little more suited for champagne today.” She’d blinked innocently, and just like that, the game was over. She’d established Hope’s place beneath her for all time. No amount of designer couture, expensive wedding provisions Hope’s parents couldn’t afford, or years of Mother’s Day gifts of Chanel No. 5 after they married would ever convince Eleanor that Hope was anything other than what she really was: a country girl from Hamilton, Alabama, playing dress-up and attempting to be good enough for her only son. In all her years of being around people from old money, Hope had never encountered anyone else who pulled it off quite as well as her mother-in-law. She was never flamboyant; she made a point not to be, wearing her wealth in an understated way but with enough intentional indifference to let you know that cars and jewelry and houses were nothing new to her, but bless your heart for thinking you might actually impress her. Billy had been “born early,” according to his mother, although Eleanor curiously never used the term “premature.” Before they married, Hope had once looked through a baby scrapbook of Billy’s that had materialized mysteriously during one of her kitchen table visits with Lucille. Before that moment, she had never seen another baby picture of her husband-to-

Hope learned early on, with great satisfaction, that Eleanor’s hired help Lucille was the kink in her armor—the one and only person she’d ever encountered who seemed to have the genuine ability to get under Eleanor’s skin. Eleanor was no fool, and neither was Lucille, but when it came to any confrontation, Eleanor would always be the one to retreat. Hope adored Lucille immediately, and the two bonded instantly over their shared distaste for the old harpy. Lucille had sized Eleanor up years ago when they had both been young girls and Lucille’s mother had worked for Eleanor’s. She was, in a way, like a rival misfit sibling, who always showed up to remind you exactly where you came from and exploit your weaknesses as only a sibling can. Even as children, Eleanor had been cold and self-absorbed. Age, along with her parents’ good breeding, had taught her refinement, and although humility would never be in her character’s repertoire, she learned to forge it well. But Lucille knew, better than anyone else, that Eleanor was still the selfish child who once cut all the hair off her own dolls and blamed Lucille out of sheer boredom. So when Lucille eventually began working for Eleanor, she admitted that although she took the job for the money, which was more than any maid she knew had ever been paid, she also took the job to stay close by Eleanor, lest she ever need reminding of who and what she really was. Lucille knew she could always keep an upper hand with her employer, and although Eleanor may have fooled everyone in River City into believing she was the ideal Southern belle, she was still, in Lucille’s own words, 40 miles of bad road. Hope had been married to Billy for three years before she saw the movie Gone with the Wind in its entirety. She stumbled upon it while watching TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon when Billy was away on a golfing trip and had cackled maniacally through the entire four hour production at the irony of it all. Lucille hadn’t worked on Walnut Street in years, but Billy and Hope saw her far more often than they saw Eleanor, and

july/august  | noalastudios.com | 


A Favor for Eleanor Chapter Seven: Hope

No amount of designer couture, expensive wedding provisions Hope’s parents couldn’t afford, or years of Mother’s Day gifts of Chanel No.  after they married would ever convince Eleanor that Hope was anything other than what she really was: a country girl from Hamilton, Alabama, playing dress-up.

some lunch since her breakfast had not been touched. She pressed the bed’s button to elevate her to an upright position and fluffed the pillows behind her, while coaxing her gently to rouse from sleep. Hope had no doubt that Eleanor was aware of their presence, and likely had been all morning, but she remained perfectly still and silent, while her now opened eyes darted around the room as if watching some imaginary fly a la Anthony Perkins from Psycho. Why Fiddle dee dee, I couldn’t harm a fly! she could almost hear Eleanor exclaim. But still she said nothing, and after half an hour of ignoring Billy’s attempts to talk to her, she shut her eyes and he finally conceded perhaps it was time they left. Since the beginning of the entire ordeal with his mother, Billy had been completely convinced that Eleanor had gone insane. He said her last husband, who they had only met a handful of times through the years, had made her crass and crazy. And the final straw had been his play for her money. But as for Hope, she hadn’t entertained Eleanor being crazy for one second. She would always see her as the highly functioning sociopath in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress she’d met in 1974. Hope relished in the fact that it dug in Eleanor’s craw. Lucille was the one person Billy would allow to openly heckle his mother without bothering to come to her defense. They had last seen Lucille just two months ago, before husband five’s body had been discovered by those poor hairdressers. Lucille’s only mention of Eleanor during her visit had been to ask whether or not Miss Eleanor was still “prostrate with grief ” over the deaths of the previous four husbands. It wasn’t the first time Lucille had asked the question over the years, but Hope still howled with laughter every time, as they both knew Lucille could never resist a chance to use a Mammy/Scarlett Gone with the Wind reference. The sun was high in the sky when a nurse came in and insisted she wake Eleanor to take her medication and have

 | noalastudios.com | july/august 

As she and Billy gathered their things to leave, an orderly brought in an arrangement of lilies to sit at Eleanor’s bedside table. Billy glanced at the card. “Lilies from Ms. Lily,” he said aloud. “I might have known. Lily Peach has been sending my mother lilies and pimento cheese for as long as I can remember. Out of all the flowers she has in her garden, she always just sends lilies from the florist.” Hope said nothing as she collected her jacket and recently purchased vintage Prada clutch. Good riddance, Eleanor, she thought, glancing briefly one more time at her once again sleeping mother-inlaw. And with that, she turned and followed her husband out the door, leaving Eleanor all alone with death flowers and uneaten eggs at her bedside.


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food for thought » Sarah Gaede

EASY AS PIE Pie crust is not my gift, even though I’m better at pie crust than fried chicken. I can’t fry chicken no matter what method I try, despite spending three solid weeks at Rich’s Cooking School in Atlanta in the 1970s doing nothing but frying chicken. My husband, who cleans up after me, has forbidden me to experiment ever again, although nothing could make a worse mess than the time my fig preserves exploded all over the cooktop and fused with every surface they touched. I had to clean that up myself. I may not have even told him about that particul particular incident. My mother wasn’t a great baker, but she could make good biscuits biscuit (although I think mine are better, but it may be the White Lily flour); Aunt Nellie’s pound cake, which my middle sister requires my youngest especially apple pie. I’ve never been able sister make for her birthday every year; and wonderful pies, es to duplicate that remembered taste and texture. and delicious, is that she used hot water. The weird thing about Mama’s crust, which was flaky an Those of you who have moved beyond Pillsbury All-Ready Crust (not that there is a single All-R thing wrong with that) know that the secret to pie crust is cold fat—butter, lard, and/or Crisco—and ice water. I had no idea how Mama learned to make crust that way until I looked through her old cookbooks. In The Victory Vict Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook, Wartime Edition from 1943, I foun found a recipe for hot water pastry—even though the heading of the third paragraph in the Pastry and Meringues chapter reads: Everything Must Be Cold. Later on, tthe author advises, “Be swift and deft”— still good advice for pastry making, sinc since overworking the gluten in the flour makes pastry tough. After struggling for years with various “foolproof ” crust recipes, I finally settled on Cooks Illustrate Illustrated’s pie crust with vodka, which I can accomplish if the stars are aligne aligned correctly and my chi is balanced. But there’s a new crust in town, and an it’s a life-changer—melted butter pie crust. Mama was onto something! Lynn Rosetta Casper and David some Leibowitz are great adv advocates of this method. David’s recipe involves browning the butter in the oven—you can Google it. I like Lynn Rosetta Casper’s better—it’s simpler and safer, with less risk of bu burning yourself on the hot Pyrex bowl in which you hav have melted the butter. This crust is ideal for tarts (pies, not saucy women), which I prefer to are more elegant, but it also makes pies because they t enough to line a 9-inch pie plate. You can order a removable-bottom tart pan on Amazon 9-inch re around ten dollars. for ar


Melted Butter Pie Crust • • • •

1 1/2 cups (about 6 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon table salt 11 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, preferably higher-fat European butter

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Melt butter in a well-covered bowl or large glass measuring cup in the microwave (watching very, very carefully because you don’t want to have to clean up exploded butter from the entire interior) or a small pot on the stove, which I know from bitter experience is the better choice. Slowly drizzle the butter into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or fork until all the flour is absorbed and the mixture holds together. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate. Be sure to reserve a walnut-sized piece of raw dough in case you have to patch. Crimp the edges if you like. Line the crust with a circle of aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or 1 pound dried beans (you can’t eat them afterwards, but they keep in a Mason jar as pie weights for years). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, patch any cracks if necessary, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Lemon-Lime Tart • • • • • • • •

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 4 large egg yolks Grated zest of 2 limes and 1 lemon 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 prebaked tart crust (okay if it’s still warm) 1 cup whipping cream 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk condensed milk, yolks, zest, and juice until smooth. Pour into prebaked crust and bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate. Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over filling before serving. Note: If you are feeling ambitious, you can use the leftover egg whites to make meringue, and top the pie with it before you pop it in the oven. Bake until tips of meringue swirls are golden.

White Chocolate Cherry Cheese Pie • 1/2 cup sugar • 2 teaspoons arrowroot (in the spice section at Publix) • 1 (14.5-ounce) can red tart cherries, drained and juice reserved • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract, optional • 1 3.5-ounce to 4-ounce bar white chocolate, broken in small pieces • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened • 1/4 cup sour cream • 1 prebaked tart or pie crust, cooled In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, arrowroot, and reserved cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cherries and almond extract. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly—safer than microwaving. White chocolate seizes up if you look at it wrong. Cool. Beat the cream cheese in a mixer on high speed until smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate all at once and beat for 1 minute. Add the sour cream and beat until well blended. Pour the white chocolate filling into the pie shell and smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread the cherry topping evenly over the filling. Refrigerate until set.

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parting shot » Patrick Hood

LIFE IN THE CATBIRD SEAT  | noalastudios.com | july/august 


Use your keyboard to get the keys to your new home Have you tried the online mortgage applications from First Southern Bank? Check rates or even apply for your mortgage online! Just point your browser to the mortgage section at firstsouthern.com. Use your keyboard to get the keys to your next home!

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No’Ala Shoals, July/August 2016  

Our annual home and garden issue; restoration and renovation in Florence; four lush gardens; three uniquely different Shoals homes; maintain...

No’Ala Shoals, July/August 2016  

Our annual home and garden issue; restoration and renovation in Florence; four lush gardens; three uniquely different Shoals homes; maintain...

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