Showing at The Compleat Studio July 2- August 9
Paintings • Sculpture • Photos • Culinary • Private Parties • Receptions • Classes
4851 Main St., Orange Beach, AL 36561 • 251-424-1253 • compleatstudio.com
CONTENTS SENSE GOES MULTI-MEDIA
THEY SPEAK Contributors
IN THE LOOP
THE SENSE OF IT ALL
MARKETPLACE Success in Slushes
CUISINE Johnny Fisher makes his restaurant an artform
GREENSENSE Summer Gardening
ARTS Local Artist Faye Earnest
LITERATI The Seasons. A Parable On Life.
Must-sees and have-to-dos throughout the South
COUSIN LEROY SPEAKS
16 24 VOLUME 5, ISSUE 1 / JUNE/JULY 2014
Issues-oriented Sense magazine gives voice to diver se political opinions but does not endor se the opinions or reflect the views e x p r e s s e d h e r e i n . Yo u a r e w e l c o m e t o s u b m i t y o u r O p - E d p i e c e v i a e m a i l t o e d i t o r @ t h e s e n s e o f i t a l l . c o m .
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Music That Soars MOBILE SYMPHONYâ€™S UPCOMING SEASON
Our Future & Faith RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
views 18 37
THE WHY OF WRITING
BETWEEN THE LINES
Anton Disclafani talks about how her creative writing class was not fun
Recommended Reading from Page & Palette
Daniel James Brown talks about how his book is a true gift
SENSE MAGAZINE | 3
ECLECTIC INTELLECT FOR THE SOUL
PUBLISHER Jamie Seelye Leatherbury VIEWS AND NEWS EDITOR
ART DIRECTOR Ronda Gibney-Burns CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Robert Brown Micah Craine Olivia Garcia Cindy Salter Schulze CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Archdiocese of Mobile Tad Denson Julian Elias Matt Gates Erik Heger Mobile Symphony ADVERTISE WITH US Melanie Boykin, Account Executive email@example.com EMAIL US firstname.lastname@example.org SENSE OFFICES 251 South Greeno Road Fairhope, Alabama 36532 Tel (251) 604-8827 Fax (251) 990-6603
Sense is published and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License by Eco-Urban Media, a division of Eco-Urbaneering Corporation. Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright and the public domain. For more information go to http://www.creativecommons.org and http://creativecommons.org/about/ licenses/ and http://www.theSenseofitAll.com. All content of Sense is copyrighted. However, Sense also works under Creative Commons licensing guidelines for works published in Sense by contributing writers, artists and photographers. All rights to works submitted to and published by Sense will revert in their entirety to the respective contributing authors, artists and photographers 120 days after publication. At Sense, we believe this policy promotes journalistic independence and fosters mutual goodwill between the publisher and the contributing writers, artists and photographers..
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SENSE MAGAZINE | 5
What place/activity/memory best captures “summer” for you as a child?
“The place that best captured “summer” for me was spending weeks at my parents house in Arvin, Ca. I have very vivid memories of walking to get Mexican sweet bread with my grandfather. He always let me pick my favorites.”
- Olivia Garcia, Writer
“One of my best summer memories from my childhood was going down to Clearwater, FL, where I lived for 10 years, and getting to hang out and play with my best friend since Kindergarten.”
“The first violent, afternoon thunderstorms on Bon Secour Bay always let me know summer is here.”
- Micah Craine, Writer
- Matt Gates, Photographer “Growing up along the gulf coast has to be one of my greatest blessings. Being in such close proximity to the beaches I spent an abundance of time lounging in the sand with a good book in hand.”
- Cindy Salter Schulze, Writer
WANT TO BECOME A SENSE CONTRIBUTOR? Sense is always looking for new talent. If you are interested in becoming part of the Sense team, e-mail us at email@example.com.
6 | JUNE/JULY 2014
S POT L I G H T
Fourth of July: Patriotic Plans TEXT BY CINDY SALTER SCHULZE
Fireworks, BBQs, swimming, and watermelon - these are just a few things that come to mind when we envision the Fourth of July. Mobile and Baldwin Counties are prime tourist destinations during this national holiday. This area hosts several firework extravaganzas from the Cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offering ocean view events to the City of Fairhope’s Mobile Bay display and Mobile’s crowd pleasing fireworks at the Battleship Memorial Park. In addition to watching fireworks, families can choose to attend Grand Bay’s Watermelon Festival. With so many municipalities in these areas hosting their own events, families and friends can find several ways to enjoy their patriotic holiday. FAIRHOPE Fairhope Municipal Pie 7:30 pm Baldwin Pops Concert 9:00 pm Fireworks DAPHNE Trione Sports Park 9:00 pm Fireworks GULF SHORES Gulf State Park Pier 9:00 pm Fireworks MOBILE Battleship Park 7:00 pm Mobile Pops Concert 9:00 pm Fireworks
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IN THE LOOP
GRAYSON CAPPS AT PLOW JUNE 11 | FAIRHOPE, AL
If you are missing My Place Downtown, head out to the new place in town! PLOW! 96 Plantation Point Fairhope, Alabama. Grayson Capps performs at 9:00pm. For more information, call 251.928.4149
AN EVENING OF SPIRIT WITH JAMES VAN PRAAGH JUNE 14 | MOBILE, AL
The show producers have created a special opportunity for a buy-one-get-one free offer for all balcony seating for this Saturday’s event featuring spiritualist James Van Praagh. The awe-inspiring James Van Praagh bridges the gap between two planes of existence, that of the living and that of the dead by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages. To take advantage of this offer, enter the code JVPFL in the offer code field on ticketmaster.com, charge by phone by calling 800-745-3000, or in person at the Saenger Theatre Box Office.
DISTINGUISHED YOUNG ARRIVAL CEREMONY
JUNE 15 | MOBILE, AL
JUNE 14 | ORANGE BEACH, AL
Hosted by Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., the first series of dinners welcome some of our country’s most celebrated chefs — all with a NOLA connection — to Alabama’s beaches. Communal seating at the dinners will encourage conversation, and each evening promises fun and laughter with plenty of good eats, beginning at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception to meet and mingle with the chef. The Chefs will feature Alabama Gulf Seafood on their menu. Purchase tickets and find more details at www.FishersOBM. com.
BLUE MARLIN CLASSIC JUNE 18 | DESTIN, FL
The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin has set the new precedent for world-class sportfishing tournaments along the Gulf Coast. Ranked 5th Richest Tournament in the world by Marlin Magazine, sanctioned by the World Billfish Series and part of the International Game Fish Association Off-shore circuit this event gives serious angling teams their shot at winning a huge pay-off. Admission is free and it is open to the public. Details are subject to change based on weather. For information, visit www.fishecbc.com.
WINTZELL’S GOLF CLASSIC BENEFITING DISTINGUISHED YOUNG WOMEN
Join us at the Mobile Regional Airport in welcoming the Distinguished Young Women Class of 2014 as they arrive to Mobile, Alabama for two weeks of activities and preparation for the 57th National Finals competition.
JUNE 20 | POINT CLEAR, AL
Enjoy a round of golf benefiting Distinguished Young Women. The 50 state representatives will be on hand to greet golfers at the start of the tournament.Visit wintzellsoysterhouse.com to learn more.
DINNER ON THE DELTA
JUNE 18 | MOBILE, AL
Join the 50 state representatives of Distinguished Young Women for a night of fun and great food on BLUEGILL’s back deck. Visit distinguishedyw.org/programs/national_ finals/schedule_of_events for more information.
SOUTHERN GRACE CELEBRITY CHEF DINNERS WITH TORY MCPHAIL
JUNE 27 | MOBILE, AL
HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL JUNE 13-14 | FOLEY, AL
Take a tethered ride, or simply ogle and point at the floating works of art as they decorate the skies in the early morning and evening. For another gravity-defying spectacle, check out the K-9 World Famous Frisbee Dog Show as man’s best friend reaches astonishing heights to fetch his favorite toy. Good times only get better with the kids’ fun zone, delicious barbecue and local art vendors. Admission is free.
An uproarious send-up of some of your favorite Broadway shows and stars! This satirical revue,opened in New York in January, 1982, and ran for 2,332 performances! Since then Alessandrini has rewritten the show over a dozen times to include parodies of newer shows, and this latest edition is sure to please! You’ll recognize the tunes and the characters, and laugh your socks off at the hilarious twist given to each of them! Directed by Eric Browne.Visit www.mobiletheatreguild. org for more information.
Although we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the Top 10 information, you should always call ahead to conf irm dates, times, location, and other information. Submit events to events@thesenseof itall.com SENSE MAGAZINE | 9
IN THE LOOP
J U LY E V E N T S
PENSACOLA INTERNATIONAL BILLFISH TOURNAMENT JULY 2-6 | PENSACOLA, FL
$50,000 Guaranteed For The Pensacola International Vince Whibbs Grand Slam In The Gulf Up to $565,000 in Cash & Prizes Winning Blue Marlin $10,000 Top Small Boat $5000 Guaranteed A Qualifying Event For The WORLD BILLFISH SERIES & IGFA WORLD QUALIFIER with the winner receiving an INVITATION TO FISH THE IGFA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. Visit www.pbgfc.com for more information.
SHOP FOR A CAUSE JULY 12 | MOBILE, AL
The Young Women’s Civic Club is hosting the 2nd Annual Shop for a Cause July 12th from 10-5pm The Greater Gulf State Fairground 1035 Cody Road N. Mobile, AL 36608 This FREE Summer Charity Event will benefit USA Women’s & Children’s, McKemie Place, & YWCC.A portion of all proceeds will be donated. Vendors include: Mary Kay, Thirty One, Sassy Southern Dips, & more! For more information contact: Meredith McCutchen at 251709-0199 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALABAMA DEEP SEA FISHING RODEO JULY 17-20 | DAUPHIN ISLAND, AL
Founded in 1929, the fishing rodeo now attracts over 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators. It is located on Dauphin Island, Ala. The event features 30 categories with prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all categories. One Master Angler is also awarded along with cash prizes for King Mackerel, Speckled Trout and Big Game Jackpots. The ADSFR has donated over $150,000 to the University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences and annually funds academic scholarships. Visit www.adsfr.com for more information.
W.C. HANDY MUSIC FESTIVAL JULY 18-27 | FLORENCE, AL
The W.C. Handy Music Festival is a 10-day celebration inspired by the “Father of the Blues” and the musical heritage of northwest Alabama. Over 200 events occur during the festival ranging from concerts to art exhibits and plays to athletic events. Expect to hear everything from blues, jazz, gospel and soul to that distinctive Muscle Shoals sound. Visit www. wchandymusicfestival.org for more information.
JULY 10-13 | NEW ORLEANS, LA
MOBILE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENTS THE MUSIC OF WHITNEY HOUSTON
Held every year in mid-July to coincide with the San Fermin en Nueva Orleans Festival and the bull run in Pamplona, Spain, this fun event is not as dramatic as its Spanish counterpart, but it’s not as dangerous, either. The “bulls” are none other than the young ladies from the New Orleans-based all-female flat-track derby team, the Big Easy Rollergirls, plus participants from other roller derby leagues across the country.
Whitney had a remarkable singing ability, a powerful voice and unique delivery that touched our hearts and souls. A singer, an actor, producer and model, Whitney had unmistakable talent. Broadway sensation Rashidra Scott joins Windborne Music to celebrate this amazing woman and her extraordinary talent with an evening of Whitney’s biggest hits. Visit www. mobilesymphony.org for more information.
SAN FERMIN EN NUEVA ORLEANS
JULY 24 | MOBILE, AL
JULY 17 | MOBILE, AL SMG and Huka Entertainment present Travis Tritt. Over the course of his 25-year career, Travis Tritt has delighted fans and disarmed critics by exploring his deep love of hardcore country, flashing an ability and affinity for bluegrass, revealing unexpected sensitivity as a balladeer, winning respect as a formidable songwriter and, most emphatically, drawing widespread recognition as one of the finest vocalists the genre has ever known. Visit www.mobilesaenger.com/ events/travis-tritt for more information.
THE ART OF ALABAMA FOOD JULY 2-AUGUST 9 | ORANGE BEACH, AL
Thirty-six images selected from the Alabama Tourism Department’s brochure “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die” will entice guests and inform them about some of Alabama’s best local restaurants. Guests will also be invited to download the free mobile app in order to browse the complete list of 100 Dishes. The Art of Alabama Food, a traveling exhibit inspired by the free “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die” will be at The Compleat Studio in Orange Beach beginning July 2. For more information on The Art of Alabama Food, visit artofalabamafood.com or www.compleatstudio.com.
SOUTHERN GRACE CELEBRITY CHEF DINNERS WITH SUE ZEMANICK AND JOHN BESH JULY 17 & JULY 31 | ORANGE BEACH, AL
Hosted by Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., the first series of dinners welcome some of our country’s most celebrated chefs — all with a NOLA connection — to Alabama’s beaches. Communal seating at the dinners will encourage conversation, and each evening promises fun and laughter with plenty of good eats, beginning at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception to meet and mingle with the chef. Sue Zemanick will be featured July 17 & John Besh will be featured July 31. Purchase tickets and find more details at www. FishersOBM.com.
Although we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the Top 10 information, you should always call ahead to conf irm dates, times, location, and other information. Submit events to events@thesenseof itall.com
| IN THE LOOP
BOOK IT 1
10th Annual One Town One Tale with Gabrielle Zevin JUNE 9 | FAIRHOPE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Join us at 6pm for our 10th Annual One Town One Tale Community Read event with Gabrielle Zevin to sign and discuss her highly anticipated novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books — and booksellers — that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.
Jeff Shaara JUNE 10 | VFW POST FAIRHOPE
New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows so well, with the latest novel in the series that started with A Blaze of Glory and A Chain of Thunder. In The Smoke at Dawn, the last great push of the Army of the Cumberland sets the stage for a decisive confrontation at Chattanooga that could determine the outcome of the war. Join us at 6 pm as we host Jeff Shaara for a book signing and author discussion of The Smoke at Dawn.
Daniel James Brown
JUNE 13 | THE VENUE
For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. Join us at 6pm as we host bestselling author Daniel James Brown to sign and discuss The Boys in the Boat. Tickets are $15 and include hors d’oeuvres and a $5 coupon toward the book purchase.
Read It & Eat with Karen White JUNE 16 | PAGE & PALETTE
Reminiscent of the bestselling Tradd Street series, A Long Time Gone has a taste of Southern charm filled with old cities and their ghosts, White’s signature style, making her the quintessential Southern writer on the scene today. Join us at 12 pm as we host Karen for a Read It & Eat luncheon and book signing. This event is free and open to the public. Call the store to reserve lunch for $10.
JUNE 22 | PAGE & PALETTE
The explosive new thriller from Oliver North, who stormed bestseller lists nationwide with his disarmingly authentic military novel Heroes Proved, is a gripping, non-stop tale that could only be written by someone who has “been there, done that.” Join us at 6 pm for a book signing of Counterfeit Lies with decorated U.S. Marine, syndicated columnist, and Fox News Channel host Oliver North.
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HERE’S WHERE TO FIND US...
MOBILE A & M Yacht Sales Alabama Coastal Foundation Apricot Lane Ashland Gallery Ashland Pub Atchison Imports Atlanta Bread Company Azalea City Physicians for Women Ballin’s Limited Renaissance Battle House Hotel Bay Area Physicians for Women Bebo’s Springhill Market Bicycle Shop Bliss Salon & Day Spa Blue Rents Bradley’s Café 615 Callaghan’s Irish Social Club Camille’s Grill Candlewood Suites Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Company Carter & Co Cathedral Square Art Gallery Chat A Way Café Center for Living Arts Center for Dermatology Claude Moore Jeweler Cold Snap @ Old Shell Road Debra’s Delish’s Desserts & Eatery Downtown Mobile Alliance Dragonfly Boutique Estetica Coiffure Exploreum Science Center Fort Conde Inn Fort Conde Welcome Center Fuego Coastal Mexican Eatery Goldstein’s Hampton Inn Downtown Hemline Holiday, Inc Iberia Bank Legacy Bar & Grill
FAIRHOPE/POINT CLEAR LLB&B Realty Martha Rutledge Catering McCoy Outdoor Company Mercedes Benz of Mobile Mobile Arts Council, Inc. Mobile Bay Bears Mobile Infirmary Office Tower Mobile Museum of Art Mobile Regional Airport Mobile Symphony Orchestra Red Or White Satori Coffee House Serda’s @ Royal Street Shoe Fly Something New Bridal Springhill Family Pharmacy Spoke ‘N Trail The Bull The Ivy Cottage The Union Steak House Thompson Engineering Tmac’s Hair Studio Twists Cupcakes @ Legacy USA Mitchell Cancer Institute Wintzell’s Airport Wintzell’s Downtown Zoe’s Kitchen Zundel’s Jewelry DAPHNE Advance America Allegri Farmers Market Baldwin Bone & Joint Baumhower’s Wings Comfort Inn Daphne Library East Shore Café Glamour Nails Guido’s Hampton Inn Hilton Garden Inn Homewood Suites of Daphne
Infirmary West Lake Forest Shell Market by the Bay Moe’s Barbeque Publix Rosie’s Grill The UPS Store Thomas Hospital Thomas Medical Plaza SPANISH FORT Barnes And Noble Bayside Chiropractic Don Carlos Eastern Shore Toyota Malbis Parkway Pediatric Dentistry McMurphy Orthodontics Magestic Nails Mellow Mushroom Private Gallery @ Spanish Fort Tom Bierster Fine Homebuilding & Restoration Twist @ ESC Wintzell’s SOUTH BALDWIN COUNTY Beach Club Bimini Bob’s Cobalt Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar Jesse’s Kaiser Realty Lulu’s Meyer Realty M II the Wharf Prickett Real Estate The Hangout Turquoise Tin Top Restaurant Villaggio Grille
Agave Mexican Battles Wharf Market Bayside Orthopedics Bean & Bistro Belle Shain Boxwood Bouche’s Cigars Brown & McCool Gynecology Chasing Fresh Coffee Loft Cold Snap Dragonfly Restaurant Eastbay Clothiers Eastern Shore Art Center Eastern Shore Heart Center Estate Jewelers Fairhope Inn Fairhope Library Fairhope Music Fairhope Physical Therapy Gigi & Jays Hair Designs by Ann Rabin Hampton Flooring & Design Hampton Inn Happy Olive Iberia Bank Leatherbury Real Estate Lyon’s Share Gallery Market by the Bay Master Joe’s Page & Palette Panini Pete’s Papa’s Pizza Private Gallery Project Mouvement in Art Publix Red or White Sadie’s of Fairhope Shanghai Cottage Southern Edge Dance Center Southern Veranda Marriott’s Grand Hotel
Sense is distributed to over 100 locations throughout Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Because we are in the business of promoting the economy and design in Gulf Coast communities, we distribute through our advertisers and local businesses. We feel that this brings the opportunity to exchange ideas, encourage conversation, and support the local economy. It will also move us forward by furthering thought for our future and how we wish to design it, resulting in participation by each of us in weaving the fabric that is our Sense of Community.
SENSE MAGAZINE | 13
THE SENSE OF IT ALL
C O U S I N
L E ROY
S P E A K S :
Eclectic as it is,
O U T S I DE
Sense is constantly evolving in discovery of how best to serve our community....
Are we Engaging?
T H I N K
CL I MB
Do we Entertain?
I N S I D E T HE
Are you Informed?
Let us know, we want to hear from you.
B OX .
Yours in Community,
SOLU T I O N . SENSE MAGAZINE | 15
BRINGING SUMMERTIME TO THE GULF COAST!! TEXT BY OLIVIA GARCIA
16 | JUNE/JULY 2014
he Spring Hill neighborhood of Mobile is steeped in history. The college by the same name is beautiful, forever changing and growing while retaining its famous old world beauty. The area was originally used as a summer refuge for the rich who sought to escape the oppressively humid summer heat and the malaria it harbored. The atmosphere of privilege has never left this section of the city, but there is now a sense of inclusion and warmth that resides there; the Bliss Salon and Spa on Old Shell Road is no exception. The salon’s owner, Tera Shade, has created a welcoming and relaxing environment meeting the personal needs of a diverse clientele for the last five years. After being in business only a few months, Shade decided she wanted to serve her customers “something special.” Many upscale salons offer adult beverages, but she wanted to offer them something more, something that would be unique to Bliss and that would put the “treat” back into retreat. Shade found the answer by creating a fool-proof, flavored frozen wine slushie she custom blended for the shop. Her customers took notice. Soon enough, customers wanted to take the “Bliss” experience home with them. Shade decided to pre package the dry mix and make it available for purchase. Just like that, Mix for Chicks came to exist. “I never meant for this to become a business, it just did,” marveled Shade. From the beginning, Mix for Chicks has been a family owned and operated company. She is very proud and grateful for the role her family and friends have played in her success. “I have three grown children, their spouses, nieces and nephews, other family and friends, that have all helped me in one way or the other with this business. From deciding a name for the company, to actually mixing the ingredients, to packaging, to working the trade shows, and lots of other laborious tasks, we get the job done. I couldn’t do it without them. We’ve always been a close family and working together, what ever the task is, is just what we do.”
One of Shade’s favorite aspects of marketing her product is the opportunity it provides to try something new and hearing customer satisfaction stories first hand. At one trade show, the weather shifted to cold and the ever crucial and persuasive samples still had to be served, but in the words of Shade “Who wants a icy drink when it’s cold outside?” She continued, “Quick thinking and a crock-pot saved the day.” Shade transformed the wine slushy mix into a warm drink that had the “whole place smelling wonderful,” and that everyone enjoyed just as much as it cooler counterpart. With disaster averted and success seemingly inevitable, perhaps this Mix truly is foolproof. With a solid fan base that extends far beyond Alabama’s borders, Mix for Chicks proves it can hold its own. On top of its popularity among connoisseurs of designer beverages, Mix for Chicks is far from being just a frivolous luxe product. This small company strives to give back to the community by providing employment opportunities for those looking for supplemental income and she also donates the packaged product to local nonprofits for fundraising. Shade seems to be able to sell as much as she can produce whether online, onsite at Bliss or at trade shows. Case and point, when asked which mixes sell the best, she readily replied, “Whichever flavor we sample.” Her last batch of 12,000 bags was double what she usually produces, and she sold out. At her last trade show, she even tested out a novel “gift package” concept that includes the packaged mix and glasses in which to serve it. The gift sets sold out within the first hour. The trend continued for the remainder of the show. It’s comforting to know that in this day and age, a woman with a concept can put her friends and family first and contribute to her community without a sacrificing success.
Shade has for the past five years participated in trade shows all over the south having to turn down numerous opportunities for lack of time. This year she hopes to expand and go as far north as Chicago and as far west as Dallas. “Every show I do, I get asked by other show scouts to consider doing their events. They all think I have a unique product and are impressed by the large crowd that is gathered around my booth all day long. It really is something to see,” she reflects. Her website, mixforchicks.com offers the dry mix in 12 flavors, but Shade is open to suggestions. However, she reminds us that “developing a new flavor can take more time than you might think. Dreamsicle took almost nine months to develop, but I finally got it right. It has been a huge success.” She even offers potential customers “If you are interested in a flavor we don’t have, let us know. If I decide to develop it, I will send you the first batch to see how you like it!” With an offer like that, it is clear that customer satisfaction, community involvement, and innovation are paramount to this entrepreneur. SENSE MAGAZINE | 17
ON FISHER’S PHOTOS BY MATT GATES
hen you walk into Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, the restaurant’s namesake, Johnny Fisher, wants you to feel welcome—as if you’ve just stepped into his living room. A natural host, he enjoys “putting on a party every night.” The building that houses Fisher’s, which sits alongside Orange Beach Marina, is a restaurant two-fer, with casual, open –air “dockside” dining downstairs and a luxurious, elegant dining room upstairs. Everything about the place is unexpected. If you remember the colorful, Caribbean-themed Calypso Joe’s that used to be in that space, and was fun in its own right, forget it. Fisher’s was completely renovated, from top to bottom, to bring Johnny Fisher’s unique vision for his first restaurant to life. The colors are seaside shades of blue and sand, with hints of coastal charm—a rustic driftwood chandelier, framed photos from the Bertram Yacht archive, brass portholes providing a peek into the kitchen. White linen curtains softly frame the windows that line the dining room. White tablecloth-topped square tables mix with large round wooden tables; slipcovered chairs coexist with wooden ones. A coffered ceiling, soft lighting, wall sconces, candelight and fresh flowers add even more texture and interest to the dining room. “It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve seen,” Fisher says. “I wanted it to feel like home.” Just inside the entrance to Fisher’s upstairs is a seating area with a slipcovered sofa and chairs covered in throw pillows, one of which is emblazoned with the words “Hello, Beautiful.” Response has been so strong to the sentiment that customers can now purchase “Hello, Beautiful” T-shirts. Fisher worked with Orange Beach interior designer Melanie Martin—with whom he felt like “two peas in a pod”— to create a restaurant that would be “upscale yet very approachable.” The smooth, wide-plank floors came from the mule barn of a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana. “I love it,” he says. “It’s almost like the wood is alive.”
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“It’s more than cooking and selling; it’s art.”
SENSE MAGAZINE | 19
His goal for the restaurant was “to create something unique,” said Fisher, who saw “a need for an upscale restaurant that focuses on fresh ingredients but fits in with the beach environment.” The first person he hired was Bill Briand, executive chef, who spent 10 years training under Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans’ Warehouse District. He went on to work for another famed New Orleans chef, Donald Link of Herbsaint, Cochon and Cochon Butcher.
Seared Jumbo Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower & Ginger Herb Salad
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Kale Salad with Mullet Roe
“My love is feeding people,” says Briand. “We cook with love in there,” he says, gesturing toward the kitchen. Briand, who jokes that he’s gone from “butchering whole hogs to butchering fish,” insists on cooking with as much locally grown produce as possible. He uses an interesting spice, bottarga, or cured mullet roe, to season several dishes. While Fisher won’t pick favorites and says he loves everything on the menu, he and Briand did admit that the Seared Jumbo Scallops and Stuffed Flounder are two bestsellers.
Grilled Gulf Pompano with Citrus Butter and a Fresh Relish
“He’s the best chef I’ve ever worked with,” says Fisher. “He’s a real talent.”
SENSE MAGAZINE | 21
Meanwhile, Fisher’s talent is “putting together teams” and “creating culture” at both restaurants. Fisher grew up in Mobile and played on the University of South Alabama Jaguars baseball team in college. He wanted to become a professional baseball player, but “that didn’t work out,” he says. He ended up moving to New Orleans and taking a job waiting tables. He discovered that he had the “hospitality gene,” something he still searches for in prospective employees. After working at the House of Blues for several years, he moved on to the Cheesecake Factory, then LuLu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, where he worked for seven years. “Lucy (Buffett) gave me a lot of freedom to create, and I’m extremely grateful for that experience,” he says. “It was fun, but I wanted to do my own thing.” He left LuLu’s in early 2012 to help open The Gulf, a seafood restaurant made of shipping containers at Perdido Pass. But in February of 2013, he was given an opportunity to open his own restaurant and jumped on it. Fisher’s goal is to win a prestigious James Beard award, and he wants to win it soon. “Somebody’s gotta be the best, so why not us?” he said. “I learned that in baseball. Three guys on my team went on to the major leagues. I’m big on dreaming big, not having limitations on yourself.” Since Fisher’s opened during Memorial Day weekend of 2013, Fisher has been excited to witness “an overwhelmingly positive response,” he said. “We’re on the tip of everyone’s tongue now. It’s been a breakout year.” Though they make it look easy, Fisher, Briand and the staff of 100 have worked hard over the past year to build the Fisher’s brand in both restaurants, which opened within three weeks of each other. “It’s been an incredible amount of hard work,” Fisher says—but he is convinced that it will pay off. This summer, Fisher predicts, the restaurant will more than likely be booked two to three weeks in advance as word of mouth continues to spread. Playing softly in the background, ironically, is Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which seems to illustrate exactly how Johnny Fisher has made his restaurant one of the Gulf Coast’s most popular fine-dining experiences. He did it his way. For more information, visit www.fishersobm.com. Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina is at 27075 Marina Road, Orange Beach. To make a reservation, call (251) 981-7305.
22 22 | | MAY JUNE/JULY 2014 2014
WHAT ARE THE JAMES BEARD AWARDS? Covering all aspects of the industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more—the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America. The awards are presented each spring at Lincoln Center. Nominees and winners are fêted at a weekend of events in New York City that has become the social and gastronomic highlight of the year. Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards
excellence and achievement in their fields and continue to emphasize the Foundation’s mission: to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity. Each award category has an individual Awards committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.
SENSE MAGAZINE | 23
SOARS! TEXT BY MICAH CRAINE SCOTT SPECK IMAGE BY ERIK HEGER IMAGES PROVIDED BY MOBILE SYMPHONY
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obile Symphony Orchestra’s new season features a diverse lineup of familiar classical masterworks, several American masterpieces, and contemporary, popular favorites. Under the direction of conductor Scott Speck, this season’s line-up will include some familiar composers and some more unknown pieces. “Every season we introduce you to amazing music you may not have heard before— including some pieces, in all likelihood, that you didn’t even know existed,” Speck said. “But we also know the pleasure of being happily re-acquainted with old friends, the great unassailable masterworks of the repertoire.”
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To open the 2014-2015 Classics series, Scott Speck joins forces with the Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and London Music Masters award winner, Benjamin Beilman. “Mobile is lucky to get an early glimpse of violinist Benjamin Beilman, who is already becoming one of the stars of the next generation,” Speck said. Only in his early twenties, Beilman has already wowed audiences from Carnegie Hall in New York to Royal Festival Hall in London garnering glowing reviews. “If you close your eyes, you would swear you are listening to a seasoned artist twice his age! He has technique and maturity in one package,” continues Speck. “Opening Night” opens with George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and finishes with Manuel de Falla’s Three Cornered Hat. 2013 Grammy Award winners, the Harlem String Quartet, will perform during the Mobile Symphony’s annual Beethoven & Blue Jeans in November. A crowd favorite, this year’s rendition will include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No.8, as well as Abel’s Delights and Dances. According to Speck, these two particular Beethoven Symphonies have never been heard live in Mobile— especially not with a string quartet as distinguished as the Harlem String Quartet. Excitingly, the third year of the Mobile Symphony’s American Masters series features the ‘Dean of American Composers,’ Aaron Copland in January. “Though he was a New Yorker through and through, Copland invented the musical style that became synonymous with the wideopen prairie and the American West,” Speck said. Perhaps Copland’s most popular composition, the concert begins with the inspiring Fanfare for the Common Man. Immediately recognizable (it happens to be the opening soundtrack to Bear Bryant’s grizzly ramble before every Alabama football home game) the concert moves from Fanfare to Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Clarinet Concerto, before ending with the ethereal and powerful Billy the Kid.
Harlem String Quartet
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In February, its Back to Bach featuring the three most recognizable Baroque composers: Handel, Vivaldi, and of course, Bach. “I’m really excited to welcome Grammynominated conductor Patrick Quigley…Patrick will transform the Mobile Symphony into a Baroque ensemble, playing music from and inspired by that incredible time in music history,” Speck said. Also included in this performance is soprano Kathyrn Mueller performing Mozart’s joyous motet, Exsultate Juibilate. In March’s From Tragedy to Triumph performance, the Mobile Symphony will continue to explore the tone poems of Richard Strauss and the swelling grandiosity of Johannes Brahms. University of South Alabama Concert Choir, Director Laura Moore will prepare the choir to perform Brahm’s Schicksalslied, followed by Straus’s Death and Transfiguration. The concert concludes with “Brahm’s joyous, triumphant, life-affirming Symphony No. 1,” Speck said. The final performance of the Classics series will be Russian Romance in May. “Our audiences keep telling us how much they love hearing us play Russian music—and I have to admit, the MSO plays this music like nothing else,” Speck said. “This season ends with three Russian icons—four if you include Olga Kern, performing the piano concerto that launched her career, Rachmaninoff’s third.” This performance also features the father of Russian music, Mikhail Glinka, whose effervescent Ruslan and Ludmila set the bar for the composers who followed. Also being performed is Prokofiev’s first symphony, described by Speck as an “early Soviet-era gem, both sparkling and mischievous, steeped in Haydn and Mozart with a pinch of 20th century wit.”
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The Mobile Symphony’s Pop series begins in October— featuring one of the most prominent, in-demand vocalists and finest interpreters of standards and traditional pop music in America, Steve Lippia - in Mad Men: Sinatra and the Rat Pack. “There’s nothing quite like the songs of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and I don’t know anyone who interprets them better than Steve Lippia,” Speck said. Undoubtedly, this will be the perfect opportunity to hear the big-band arrangements that dominated the classic gold records of the 60s. Promising to be a massive holiday draw, Mobile Symphony’s An Appalachian Christmas features world-renowned fiddler Mark O’Conner. “Following last season’s sold out holiday concerts, the Mobile Symphony brings another star to the Saenger Theatre,” Speck said. You will probably recognize O’Conner’s music from the PBS special Liberty and, of course, Yo-Yo Ma’s incredibly popular Appalachia Waltz. “I am thrilled that he is bringing his own symphonic Christmas special to Mobile,” Speck said. The final concert of the 2014-2015 Pops series is The Music of John Williams in May. From Star Wars to Harry Potter, there is no more recognizable American composer of symphony music than John Williams. “This is another concert that we’ve been wanting to do for years,” Speck said. “A whole program devoted to the genius of John Williams. With his dozens upon dozens of unforgettable heroic themes, he is often seen as the Tchaikovsky of his day.” Musical selections will include Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Harry Potter, Jurassic Park , and an entire second half dedicated to music from all six Star Wars movies.
n h o J lliams Wi
With such a diverse and inspiring lineup, the Mobile Symphony’s 2014-2015 season has performances for everyone’s pallet. From the traditional classical masters who’s grandiosity still inspires, to the impossibly catchy standards of The Rat Pack, this seasons line up should motivate multiple trips Mark O’Conner
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ALABAMA COASTAL FOUNDATION Since 1993, the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) has worked to improve and protect the quality of Alabama's coastal resources by identifying and solving problems through education, cooperation and participation. Our activities provide for citizen participation through issue resolution forums, student and community leader education initiatives, habitat restoration projects and through direct participation in governmental planning. We believe that education is the key to improving the quality of our natural resources and that all citizens have the ability and the responsibility to preserve our coastal way of life.
BE INFORMED. BE INVOLVED. JOIN ACF. SENSE MAGAZINE | 29 Visit www.joinacf.org or call us at 251-990-6002 and become a member today.
G R EE N S E N S E
Don’t Let Summer Droughts Stop You from Gardening No matter where you live, being a water wise gardener makes environmental and economic sense. And it’s really easier than you think. TEXT AND PHOTO BY MELINDA MYERS
ere are just a few of the easy and affordable ways to conserve water while growing a beautiful garden.
Grow plants suited to your climate, and this includes the average rainfall for your area. Select drought tolerant plants, that once established, require less on-going care. Consider native plants like coneflower, yucca and penstemon as well as native and non-invasive ornamental grasses. Be sure to group moisture-loving plants together and near a source of water. You’ll save time and water by concentrating your efforts on fewer plants. Move containers to the shade or provide additional shade during hot dry weather to reduce the plant’s water needs. Use organic nitrogen fertilizers like Milorganite (milorganite. com). This slow release fertilizer encourages slow steady growth that requires less water. Plus, it will not burn plants during hot dry weather. It simply stays in the soil until the growing conditions, moisture and temperature are right for the plants. 30 | JUNE/JULY 2014
Install a rain barrel or two to capture rain for watering inground and container gardens. Or place a rain barrel near your garden and collect rain directly from the sky. Use this water to supplement your garden’s moisture needs during drought. Decorate or mask the barrels with vines, decorative fencing, containers, or nearby plantings. And check with your local municipality as several states and communities have banned rain harvesting on private property. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation to save water by applying the water directly to the soil where it is needed. Consider connecting your rain barrel to a soaker hose in a nearby garden. Just open the spigot and allow gravity to slowly empty the water throughout the day. Check to make sure water is evenly distributed throughout the garden. And always water thoroughly and less frequently to encourage deep drought tolerant roots. Add a layer of organic mulch like shredded leaves, evergreen needles or herbicide-free grass clippings to conserve moisture and keep roots cool. As these break down they add organic matter to the soil improving the water holding ability of sandy and rocky soils. Allow lawns to go dormant during droughts. Apply ¼ inch of water every three to four weeks during extended droughts. This keeps the crown of the plant alive while the grass remains dormant. Do not apply weed killers and minimize foot and equipment traffic on dormant lawns. Incorporate one or more of these techniques to your garden care this season. You’ll conserve water while creating healthier and more attractive gardens.
Consistently Exceeding the Expectations of our Customers.
Michael T Ludvigsen, Jr., Certified Sales Professional 4851 Wharf Parkway • Suite D108 • Orange Beach, AL 36561 (251) 974-5468 • (217) 473-9728 Cell
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FAYE EARNEST Proving the improbable is possible
TEXT BY OLIVIA GARCIA PHOTO BY TAD DENSON
unique brand of rugged individualism is required to feel at home anywhere you go. When asked the function of the home French philosopher Gaston Bachelard said it best, “The house shelters daydreaming, the house shelters the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” Originally from Jasper, Alabama, the critically acclaimed and worldly artist known as Faye Earnest has made South Alabama particularly Baldwin County her home. Fairhope is known for its southern charm and its effortless glamour. Artist Fay Earnest is the personification of these qualities. Her charm is evident at first glance. Not a single one of her dark hairs is out of place; her hair is perfectly shaped into a sharp looking bob. A swipe of red lipstick here and a black cigarette pant there makes her style simply classic. She greets her visitors with a smile and offers up a glass of water in a tone so warm you will think you were old friends not unlike her adopted city, which too, soon feels like home to those who visit her. Her house is impeccably decorated with an eclectic but cohesive collection of furnishings and adornments. Instead of standard window treatments, Earnest opts for ornately carved wood pieces over her large windows. When you compliment them, she’ll explain that they are used in Indonesia to hold cloth in place during the dyeing process. An accomplished painter, she of course owns a collection of paintings, but perhaps more surprising is her collection of menus from around the country. Her favorites boast a signature and a note from the chef. These touches make the home. Her art work facilitates a sort of dreamy, magical and metaphysical way of thinking. Her way of thinking facilitates her art.
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The child of an Air Force upbringing, moving from place to place shaped her as an artist by freeing her from any obligatory artistic biases. That being said, Earnest has found her artistic niche in Baldwin County. After earning her art degree from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Earnest was drawn to the wide open spaces, sunshine and warmth of the Alabama coast. She went on to pursue a second degree in art at the University of South Alabama, to focus on painting. She would complete her education at Southern Mississippi, unwilling to leave the Gulf Coast. She made her living and was fulfilled by teaching art for a time. Until it just was not enough. In 1985, she moved to Baldwin County. She went about her business earning a living as a teacher until about 15 years ago when she had an awakening that came in the epiphany laden statement, “I want to make the art history books before I die.” She promptly quit teaching to paint full time. During creation periods Faye devotes approximately 8-10 hours a day to her art. Each creative period generally produces anywhere between 20-27 pieces adding up to a minimum of 75 paintings a year. Her move to Baldwin County didn’t simply change her aspirations or alter her rates of production, it sparked an evolution of her work. Her current work is the culmination of a “natural progression” from representation to abstractism. She started out her career painting gulf coast and bayou scenes and now her particular brand of abstractism focuses on the topography of the land in the Baldwin county area and elsewhere. She credits her constant moving as a child with her near obsession and definite passion for ecological
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depiction and representation. Stemming from her awaking to the differences between the various regions of the country, she paints and brings to life the otherwise unseen aspects of each area. She has total freedom through her art. Earnest is both highly creative and disciplined. She reigns herself in with her razor sharp academic focus. Her interests in the physical science of the earth shape her art. Earnest is both prototypical and yet, extraordinary. She tends to her garden as well as her small Shitzu,Tia, but she lives alone and always has, keeping herself tied to no one. She is admittedly a “gypsy” preferring the ability to change her environment at will and keeping her ties to any community loose. Without any obligatory ties to the community, personal or otherwise, she can lock herself in her studio and work on three paintings at a one time. In fact, her paintings have so much texture and color that she needs to rotate her works to maintain progress while allowing her to be particularly patient with the paint and it’s progress. Baldwin County is her muse, but her distribution and sales reflects her adventurer’s spirit. She travels all over the world choosing galleries that suit her mission for display of her work. She will not sacrifice her work for the sake of sales. Much of her work is purchased by out of state patrons that appreciate her unique and specific vision. World renowned, she has shown her art from exotic locations such as Crete and Germany, to domestic but no less enchanting locations, such as New Orleans and Sante Fe. She is scheduled to show her work at the Artetude Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina in the near future. Recently, her local success has culminated in a show at the Foundation Gallery in New Orleans. The exhibit contains more than 25 of her paintings from four or five of her collections. What makes the Foundation Gallery a unique and perfect fit for Earnest is that a portion of her sales are donated to a cause of her choice. Earnest chose the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children as a beneficiary; a choice that would seem obvious for someone with such a love for humanity and a heartfelt dedication to the protection of the vulnerable. By reaching the “golden mean,” the desirable balance between two extremes, Faye Earnest has proved that the improbable is indeed possible. Aesthetics are not exclusive of academics, creativity is not limited by structure, introversion is not exclusive of caring for others. She has achieved a personal balance that pleases her and fuels the creation of beauty for the world to share.
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Families in Baldwin County will soon have a new opportunity to choose a religious education for their high school age students. TEXT BY BY CINDY SALTER SCHULZE PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARCHDIOCESE OF MOBILE
his new school, serving the Baldwin-Escambia Deanery, is an answer to concerns from parents whose children are being educated in Catholic elementary schools such as Christ the King in Daphne, St. Benedict School in Elberta, and St. Patrick School in Robertsdale as well as other elementary schools throughout the county. This new Catholic High School will be a more convenient alternative for secondary students who wish to continue their religious education but who do not, for one reason or another, feel that they can travel to Mobile to attend McGill-Toolen Catholic High School or to Pensacola to attend Catholic High School. For more than 100 years Mcgill-Toolen has been the only Catholic high school in Alabama south of Montgomery. A 2009 survey conducted by Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. revealed approximately 250-400 students expressed an interest in Catholic secondary education.
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A $9.5 million campaign has already begun to build the 55,000 square foot facility that will support about 400 students. This will be the start up school, and the expanded facilities will be able to support about 1,200 students upon their completion. Around 40 acres for this facility has already been purchased on Dick Higbee Road close to Highways 181 and 104. Furthermore, approximately $6 million has already been pledged to make this dream become a reality. On March 30, 2014, about 500 people attended a kick off event to garner support. The Scope of the curriculum will not stop at just academic excellence but will also focus on technology, athletics, and fine arts. This new Catholic high school will offer a variety of sports programs and will be an active participant in the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Approval has already been granted to utilize City of Fairhope athletic facilities until the overall completion of the project takes place. Furthermore, this new Catholic high school will be a huge asset to our community. Baldwin County is one of the largest counties in the state of Alabama. Most families choose to live in an area with excellent school systems, and increasing the educational options in Baldwin County will potentially help draw new families to our community. Students of all denominations and faith will be welcomed. This development will serve families who are looking for a quality education while developing their spiritual life. St. Patrick parishioner and mother states, “We are thrilled that there has been such a positive reaction to the campaign and that so many people have given of their time and treasures to help fulfill this dream. Of course, we still need many more to join us by sharing this message and giving. We would love to reach this goal by the end of the summer so that we can begin construction and hopefully have a school in operation for the 2016-2017 school year.” If you would like more detailed information or would like to aid in the campaign to raise funds for this new Catholic high school, please contact the Archdiocese of Mobile at (251) 415.3871. Parish receptions and home visits are being offered for families who would like more information. In addition, you can view more information by going to the following link: http://youtu.be/D1ncBjM23Y4.
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Individualized Medicine For Women Of All Ages
Aiken Design & Construction Inspired Living
251-928-6321 | aikendesignbuild.com
General Gynecology and Wellness • Vaginal Support Loss Menstrual Issues • Pelvic Pain • Bladder Control Fecal Incontinence • Menopause • Hormonal Replacement Advanced Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery
Robert C. Brown, MD, FACOG, FPMRS • Angela R. McCool, MD, FACOG Mitzi Thompson, CNP • Joan Bramlett, CNP • Jennifer Lambert, CNP
7540 Cipriano Court • Suite C • Fairhope, AL 36532 www.brownandmccool.com 40 | JUNE/JULY 2014
What is a Urogynecologist? TEXT BY DR. ROBERT BROWN
rinary incontinence affects 18 million women in the United States and costs the country over 20 billion dollars in pads, diapers, and other management strategies. The greater impact is how it limits the individual’s freedom and quality of life. Women often become removed from their active lifestyle and their social life for fear of leakage of urine. Dr. Robert Brown, of Brown and McCool Gynecology, has focused his practice in the area of urinary incontinence for many years and has recently completed a fellowship to become Baldwin County’s only board certified Urogynecologist. So what exactly is a Urogynecologist? Urogynecologists are physicians, either gynecologists or urologists, who have completed specialized training in treating pelvic floor defects. The pelvic floor is a set of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue in the lowest part of the pelvis that provide support to a woman’s internal organs including her bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. A pelvic floor disorder occurs when women have weakened muscles or tears in the connective tissue. These disorders may cause bladder or bowel control problems, prolapse of pelvic organs, and interfere with sexual relations. Dr. Brown uses patient’s symptoms and medical history, diagnostic tests, physical exam, and resources available through his association with the Bladder Health Network to determine what type of treatment is best for the individual. Treatments can include medication, physical therapy, surgery, or a combination of these. Most surgeries are minimally invasive and have a relatively short recovery time. Pelvic floor disorders and urinary incontinence are not something you have to suffer with daily. Schedule an appointment with Brown and McCool Gynecology at 990-1985 to determine how you can keep incontinence from “controlling” your life and embrace your freedom and an active life again.
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VIEWS AND NEWS
THE WHY OF WRITING
BY ANTON DISCLAFANI
READ IT & EAT WITH NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR
ANTON DISCLAFANI Author of
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 2014 12:00 P.M. PAGE & PALETTE Free & Open to the Public Call the bookstore to reserve lunch for $10
When I was a freshman in college, I signed up for a creative writing class on a whim. I’d always liked the brief assignments we did in my high school classes, and I loved reading, so creative writing seemed fun. But it wasn’t, at least not at first. At first, it was terrifying. I arrived at the class on a Wednesday afternoon. Chairs were arranged in a half-circle; the professor stood at the head of the class. All the other students looked cooler than me (they turned out to actually be cooler than me, over the course of the semester). One guy came into class with a skateboard tucked beneath his arm; another woman had dreadlocks bundled on top of her head. I was wearing a sweater set and loafers. I felt out of my league before the class even started. The professor — more than a decade later, she’s one of my dear friends —asked us to start by writing an autobiographical poem. She gave us some examples and twenty minutes. She told us that we would share our work out loud, as a way of getting to know each other. All the other students set to work. I panicked. I was not a poet. I had no idea what I was doing. I briefly considered leaving the classroom and begging the registrar to let me drop the course. What would happen, I wondered, if I simply refused to read? Feigned an illness? Pretended I hadn’t understood the assignment? I did none of these things. Because I was a good student, and had never in my life disobeyed a teacher, I wrote the poem. It was awful. I never got better as a poet. But in that class, I became okay with being a very mediocre poet. It was liberating. I knew what I was writing wasn’t good, but that was okay — I was experimenting. I was writing blindly, and sometimes this worked.
The second half of the semester was devoted to fiction, and here my writing began to make a lot more sense, at least to me. I started to feel a little bit powerful. I began to take pleasure in creating worlds and people. One creative writing class led to many, many more over the course of my college career, and then an MFA program, and then, after the MFA program, my first novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Writing Yonahlossee felt a lot like being back in that first creative writing class — both the terror and the joy. I didn’t know what I was doing, exactly; I’d never written a novel before. I was blindly marching forth and hoping that, at the end, it would all make some kind of sense. But I was also discovering a new kind of freedom, as I had all those years ago, as an 18 year old: I was creating a character I was going to stick with for a long time, where previously I had only stuck with my characters for the length of a short story. My character, Thea Atwell, ended up taking me places I had never been before. I stuck with Thea Atwell for five years of writing and rewriting before the book sold. I failed a thousand times, and I had to learn to be okay with that. The first draft of my novel was not going to be perfect. I learned that there is pleasure in failing, that you take roads you might not have taken. In the end, what I like most about writing is the act itself. Sitting in front of blank page and making something happen, and not being sure — not ever, really — if what you’re doing is going to work or fail, and if it will fail a little bit or fail miserably, or maybe even succeed, wildly. There’s so much possibility, yours for the taking.
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VIEWS AND NEWS
B E T W E E N
T H E
L I N E S
REVIEWS OF BOOKS AVAILABLE AT PAGE & PALETTE BOOKSTORE
JACK OF SPIES BY DAVID DOWNING
Set on the eve of the First World War, across oceans and continents, steamliners and cross-country trains, David Downing’s complex and thrilling new espionage novel takes us all the way back to the dawn of that most fascinating of 20th century characters — the spy. It is 1913, and those who follow the news closely can see the world is teetering on the brink of war. Jack McColl, a Scottish car salesman with an uncanny ear for languages, has always hoped to make a job for himself as a spy. As his sales calls take him from city to great city — Hong Kong to Shanghai to San Francisco to New York — he moonlights collecting intelligence for His Majesty’s Navy, but British espionage is in its infancy and Jack has nothing but a shoestring budget and the very tenuous protection of a boss in far-away London. He knows, though, that a geopolitical catastrophe is brewing, and now is both the moment to prove himself and the moment his country needs him most. Unfortunately, this is also the moment he begins to realize what his aspiration might cost him. He understands his life
is at stake when activities in China suddenly escalate from innocent data-gathering and casual strolls along German military concessions to arrest warrants and knife attacks. Meanwhile, a sharp, vivacious American suffragette journalist has wiled her way deep into his affections, and it is not long before he realizes that her Irish-American family might be embroiled in the Irish Republican movement Jack’s bosses are fighting against. How can he choose between his country and the woman he loves? And would he even be able to make such a choice without losing both? ($27.95, Soho Press, On Sale Now)
jeopardy, Cara must come to the rescue and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all. Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark wit and keen eye for detail, mark your calendars for Save the Date. ($26.99, McMillan, Pub Date 6/3/14)
COUNTERFEIT LIES BY OLIVER NORTH
THE UNTOLD BY COURTNEY COLLINS
A LONG TIME GONE BY KAREN WHITE
SAVE THE DATE BY MARY KAY ANDREWS
A wedding florist finds love and trouble in this delightful new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Ladies’ Night. A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime — one that will solidify her career as the goto-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn’t believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate it. But when the bride spirals into a crisis and the wedding is in
herself — by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted them for generations. ($25.95, Penguin, Pub Date 6/3/14)
When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back. But nine years later, Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children. What she hopes to find is solace with her dear grandmother who raised her. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was. But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover
With shades of Water for Elephants and True Grit, a stunning debut novel set in the Australian outback about a female horse thief, her bid for freedom, and the two men trying to capture her. It is 1921. In a mountainlocked valley, Jessie is on the run. Born wild and brave, by twenty-six she has already lived life as a circus rider, horse and cattle rustler, and convict. But on this fateful night she is just a woman wanting to survive though there is barely any life left in her. Two men crash through the bushland, desperate to claim the reward on her head: one her lover, the other the law. But as it has always been for Jessie, it is death, not a man, who is her closest pursuer and companion. And while all odds are stacked against her, there is one who will never give up on her — her own child, who awaits her. ($26.95, Penguin, On Sale Now)
Veteran undercover FBI agent Jake Kruse is investigating a smuggling ring in southern California when his assignment is cut short by a prominent criminal defense attorney, who wants to hire Jake to kill the daughter of a local crime boss. What begins as a “contract killing” soon captures the attention of the CIA, the U.S. Secret Service, and high-level Washington officials. Before he knows it, Kruse finds himself plunged into the life-threatening underworld of North Korean espionage, Hezbollah terrorists, and a plot to bring down a commercial airliner over the U.S. Fastpaced, thrilling, and filled with authentic detail, Counterfeit Lies is a tale of non-stop action that could only be written by those who have “been there, done that.” Decorated war veteran Oliver North and coauthor Bob Hamer weave their real-life experience into this tautly written tale of international intrigue and suspense. They say it’s fiction — but it’s all too real. ($26.00, Simon & Schuster, Pub Date 6/10/14)
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VIEWS AND NEWS
The Boys in the Boat with Daniel
Sometimes a book comes along that is a true gift, and the New York Times bestselling The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is one of those books. Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times — the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant. It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-alifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is a portrait of an era, a celebration of a historic achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest. How did you discover the story that became The Boys in the Boat? One day about six years ago, my neighbor, a lady in her mid-sixties who I knew only as Judy, came up to me after a homeowners’ association meeting. She said her father, who was in the last weeks of his life and under hospice care at her house, was reading one of my earlier books. He was enjoying it and she wondered if I would come by and meet him. Of course I said yes. A few days later I sat down with her father, Joe Rantz, and after a while the conversation turned first to his experiences growing up and then to his experiences rowing for a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics. As I talked with Joe, I noted that tears came readily to his eyes at certain junctures. Men of his generation don’t generally cry easily, so I knew immediately that there was something extraordinary going on. As he unfolded more of his story to me, I began to see that all the elements of a great tale were there — intense competition between individuals, bitter rivalries between schools, a boy left alone in the world, a fiercely demanding coach, a wise mentor, a love interest, even an evil step-mother. But I think what really clinched it for me was the simple fact that the climax to his story played out on an enormously dramatic stage — the 1936 Olympics in Berlin — and it played out under the gaze of Hitler himself. Really, what more could a storyteller ask for? The Boys in the Boat is an incredible combination of history and the personal heartwarming story of Joe Rantz and the rest of the boys who made up the gold medal boat at the 1936 Olympics as well as a history of crew in the U.S. It’s a lot of areas to cover. How did you do your research? The core of the research into Joe’s personal story was countless hours I spent with him, and after he was gone with his daughter. Judy had spent most of a lifetime listening to stories and collecting materials to document the crew’s accomplishments. Much of the “heart” in the book comes straight from her. Beyond that, though, I had a lot to learn about rowing, about the other boys in the boat, and about the history of the mid-1930s. I read a lot, of course, but I also talked to many rowers and many rowing coaches, particularly at the University of Washington. I went out in the coaching launch on cold mornings. I interviewed dozens of the offspring of the original crew. I pored over hundreds of news
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VIEWS AND NEWS
account I think this story is much like the Seabiscuit story in that regard. These nine boys were ordinary, working-class Americans from the rugged Northwest. They were the sons of loggers and fishermen and dairy farmers. Almost any ordinary American could identify with them, particularly in economic terms. Like everyone else, they were struggling simply to feed and clothe themselves. So in that sense they served as a model — something you could identify with if you were struggling yourself. This perception grew even more acute when they began to compete against the often very wealthy boys at Ivy League schools in the East. And then even more when they began to compete against the aristocratic British boys from Oxford and Cambridge. And most of all, of course, when they competed against the handpicked Nazi oarsmen in Berlin. It’s hard to imagine a starker representation of good and evil brought face to face than these nine American kids dressed in ragged old sweatshirts and mismatched shorts racing against regimented blond oarsmen in crisp white uniforms with swastikas on their chests.
accessible — the boys rowed up the Hudson to FDR’s house in Hyde park and got out and knocked on the door and were welcomed in. Do you think the boys would have the same success today?
There’s an interesting dichotomy between the rowers of the East Coast who came from well-to-do families and were at elite Eastern schools and those members of the Washington University crew team that became the 1936 gold medalists. How do feel the background of the west coast boys helped them become the champions they were? Why does this particular team stand out as one of — if not the — best of all time?
What is your favorite part of being able to share this incredible story?
Certainly because they hailed from the West they felt that they had something to prove, both to the long entrenched rowing establishment and to the press in the East. That helped them forge their identity. It painted them as underdogs even though in some ways their natural surroundings — plenty of ice-free rowable water all year long — actually probably favored them. Because they were seen as somewhat rustic, their accomplishments attracted all the more attention in the East, and that in turn helped fuel their success, and their confidence. I do think you can make a very good argument that they are the greatest collegiate crew of all time, and I base that on two things in particular. For one, they had to row and win at both very short (2,000 meter) and very long (four mile) distances. There’s nothing like that today and this crew both in 1936 (their gold medal year) and in 1937 were simply unbeatable. No one defeated them over that two-year stretch. Second, they were not recruited from all over the world as today’s crews are. They had no modern erg (rowing) machines or specialized training routines or psychological support. They were just incredibly tough and incredibly good and incredibly fast. There are similarities between the timeframe in the book and now: poor economy, disastrous weather wreaking havoc, yet many differences such as a president who was able to push through public works programs that helped lift the economy and enabled the boys to get summer jobs to pay for college and the president of the 1930s was
It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it, just walking up to the president’s door and knocking? I think it says a lot about how we’ve changed as a country, and for me part of the appeal of a story like this is that it takes us back to a time when we trusted one another a bit more. And that’s actually an important theme in the book. It’s really about trust. The Depression (and later the war) taught a whole generation of young Americans humility. It taught them that they needed one another. They learned to cooperate, literally to pull together as if they were all in the same boat. And that’s exactly what Joe and the other boys had to do in the boat. So for me, the story is something of a metaphor for that what that whole generation managed to do.
I think really it is the satisfaction of seeing the boys’ accomplishments brought to light after all these years. As I say, they were a pretty humble bunch, not much disposed to talk about what they had pulled off. But their kids have held the story close to their hearts all their lives, and I can’t tell you just how excited they are to see it coming out now. For Judy, Joe’s daughter, in particular, the book is the realization of a life-long quest to share her father’s story. She has shed many tears during the time we have worked together, but I think perhaps the sweetest were the tears she shed when I first presented her with an advance reading copy of The Boys in the Boat. About the Author Daniel James Brown is the author of two previous nonfiction books and was a finalist for the B&N Discover Award for Under a Flaming Sky. The Boys in the Boat has been on bestseller lists across the country, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR. Brown has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford. He lives near Seattle.
DANIEL JAMES BROWN Friday, June 13, 2014 6:00 p.m. The Venue Tickets are $15 and include hors d’oeuvres and a $5 coupon toward the book purchase. For more information contact Page & Palette at 251-928-5295 or visit www.pageandpalette.com.
SENSE MAGAZINE | 47
Summer is a speeding train running downhill out of control, faster and faster, until it Bangs head first into Labor Day like a Fourth of July firecracker. Stop. Slow down. Don’t be in such a hurry. Autumn will keep the door open.
THE SEASONS. A PARABLE ON LIFE. BY DIXIE FORTIS
Rest a bit. Winter always does. Sadly, Spring never. And, like Autumn, rarely puts in an appearance before taking its leave. Stay. Let us play. Let us get to know each other. We’ll dream away green days and silver nights. You’ll send me flowers and I will send you warm love and warm kisses blown by warm breezes into the sun of your Summer smile. Don’t go. Please don’t go. Winter is so long. And, I am so alone.
LITERATI SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Sense invites you to submit edgy, eclectic pieces. We welcome short fiction, essays, humor, and poetry submissions. Rights to the material submitted remain those of its author, who is protected under Creative Commons licenses. We reserve the right to choose all materials that appear in the publication. For more detailed submission information, email email@example.com. 48 | JUNE/JULY 2014