Monday, November 7, 2011

The Lonely Traveler

 As I traveled the highway, I noticed a lonely figure walking eastward along the side of the road. The older man had a significant bend in his back across his shoulders. I had 2 beautiful blankets in my trunk and knew that offering one to him was a must.
 After turning my car around, I parked in a lot next to a restaurant and waited for him to catch up. His face was lined and his manner was gentle. I asked my typical questions: "Are you homeless?" He was. "Do you need a blanket?" "No ma'am, I am fine." he replied. "Are you hungry?" "No ma'am, I am fine, really. I have a little money and plan to stay at that hotel up ahead. Do you know anything about it?" I did not know.
 His load was light.  A bottle of water was attached to his bedroll. He carried a small bag of necessities in his right hand and a small pack across the hunched back.
 I felt helpless. He was proud. My emotions were rampant, and knowing that I would never see him again left me with one responsibility; to pray for his safety, warmth and welfare.
 My heart overflows with concern over our country's homeless. I can only hope that out of our own abundance we can individually reach out to those who are desperate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Syrup Soppin'

I am heading out to the Syrup Soppin' Festival in Loachapoka, Alabama. This will be my first time to go, and I know it will be a "taste" of the south! Photos to follow, but check out Fred Lord's banjo in my photo. I met him a few weeks ago as I traveled South.  He was on his Loachapoka storefront porch with a student and took time to show me his collection of musical instruments.

 Hopefully I will meet the Loachapoka locals early in the morning at the biscuit/syrup breakfast! (I'll have blankets in my trunk in case I hear of someone who might need one!) Ya'll come on down if you can!

The festival was fun and countless people were there, parking on the side of the road for miles. Vendors sold their goods, and watching the syrup being made was certainly a sight to behold. The fire was stoked, syrup measured and a team of men gathered the sugar cane that was used. Steam filled the air as the liquid boiled and the delicious syrup was sold out this year.  The day was so educational and I will be having syrup on my toast in the morning! I connected with a great man, Nathaniel, who was a local, dressed in Liberty overalls. I did a mini photo shoot with him and I promised to come back to see him as well as mail his photo to him. I'll take a blanket when I go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Living part time on the edge of the Black Belt region of Alabama provides so many opportunities for me, such as picking cotton. I had never seen cotton growing in stages, from the exquisite flower which closes and later pops wide open to display what we know as simple soft white fibers. The harvest for cotton is now and the time to take blankets is now since the cool nights have taken the place of the sweltering heat of the summer. The back seat of my car is filled with wonderful cotton blend blankets to take to those who need them. Thanks to my friend Marjean, who found a way for 9 of our girlfriends to provide the blankets to give this winter to take on my back road adventures. Before I got back to the urban congestion of Atlanta, I had already given 2 away: one went to a guy who heats with kerosene and lives in the oldest house (passed down to him from family sharecroppers) in his county. The 2nd blanket was given to a family of 4 (whose property was passed down from generations of cotton farm hands), who took time to roam the cotton fields with me, educate me on cotton's growth and harvest, and send me home with my own plant.  As I give these blankets to those who will be cold this winter, I am so excited that I know just a bit about where each blanket started. Thank you, Girlfriends, for providing warmth for many you will never meet, but whose story will be part of my journal.  Each lady will have an account of the recipient of her blanket.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


How many times we have heard the word hope in the past few years! Although I am using a photo from a different state than Alabama, this image speaks volumes about present life conditions across our country. Having photographed this porch on three occasions, I have seen significant changes in the scene, but no change in its condition. It is all about home, homeless, and minimal living. The beautiful haunting sketch on the wall cries to be heard, while the red blanket of the homeless resident whispers that he is at least warm at night. Please consider donating a blanket this winter to a shelter or individual who sleeps under the stars.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mrs. McCoy

I watched her cross the street, wondering when she had last seen the beautiful sky. She was hunchbacked and riddled with arthritis. She rummaged through the garbage can, taking any treasure she could find to add to her grocery cart. I made my approach, introduced myself, as once again my heart broke, especially for this older woman who lived on the street most of the time. "What could I bring you next time I am in town?" I asked. "Socks, please, and maybe a few new long skirts (size 14) with pretty flowers on them." she replied. But don't let the flowers be too big or too small was her request. So, socks will be added to my list along with blankets and books.  I'll also be looking for that perfect skirt for Ms. McCoy. This encounter made me so grateful for the small things I often take for granted.  I did not take her picture that day. I was content with just the pleasure of the divine appointment.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Alabama

Thank you, Sgt  Grover S. Hunt, Died in 1945 (Flag held by his brother, Ansley E. Hunt)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tornado Woe

Close to the edge of the Black Belt Region, an area from Eclectic to Santuck was hit by the recent tornadoes. It broke my heart to see this sign "Woe is Me". At least 6 people died in this small area. Susan lost her entire home, which included her daughter's (bride-to-be) wedding dress. Even though there is a wonderful distribution center in Eclectic for essential items, many people will also need furniture as they rebuild their lives. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Rattlesnake Rodeo

Okay! Okay! I know! Pretty scary, but oh, so much fun! This will be my 4th trip to the rodeo. This year I will take in the bands and enjoy a Southern night listening to Southern music. My first trip was in the 1970's. I actually spent one of my honeymoon nights in this tiny, once thriving city of Opp, Alabama, home of my Mother-in-law whose family worked in the cotton mill. (I heard the snakes used to race in the streets and it was the only time my husband's Grandmother locked her doors) It's also where I met the lovely Mrs. Queen Esther Ellison, who was walking home one afternoon and took time out for me to take her picture. I hope to re-connect with her on this visit and talk to her about who might need blankets next winter. (I did visit with her in her living room and we discussed writing her life story. She will be 94 in Sept. and is the only sibling left out of 18.)

Just outside the Black Belt region of Alabama, this little town of Opp hosts the famous Rodeo, where rattlesnakes race each other from a circle on concrete to the outskirts, and the first one to cross is declared winner. One can visit the food vendors and eat fried rattlesnake (delicious) or buy snake tails or various goods made of the skins...head bands, wallets etc. There's electric bull riding, bungee jumping, games, and let's not forget the Rattlesnake Rodeo Queens! Two of the most interesting things are the pole climbing and dance competitions. The fans come out in droves and it truly is a day of family fun. About the rattlesnake brother-in-law says, "If it taste like fried chicken and looks like fried chicken, just give me fried chicken!"

The 2011 Friday night event was great!  Chris and his family wanted a photo, so here it is. Chris's snakeskin boots were amazing! The fans were fixated on the snake race and music and I look forward to the 2012 event. Ya'll come!

Monday, February 28, 2011

William Bray Memorial Checkers and Dominoes Tournament

It happens on Memorial Day! These guys go into "checkers" combat and battle to the end when trophies are given out. They play on the old boards, and fans gather around to cheer them on. William Bray, Jr. who helped me give out a few blankets this past winter continues this tradition in memory of his Father.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Visit with Mrs. Rice

In February, I visited Mrs. Rice and shared with her my desire to take blankets/books/etc. to the Black Belt Region of Alabama.  She allowed me to come inside and photograph her reading her Bible in her den chair. Her walls were filled with photos of her family, special crosses and plaques with Biblical quotations. Her husband was W.C.Rice who had the most amazing passion for the love of Jesus, the "Book of Life" and bearing the cross. Mrs. Rice and I moved out to the front porch where I did a little more photography. Selling photos like this makes money to take to families who are in need. Thank you, Mrs. Rice!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cigar Boxes

After searching the city high and low to find pencil boxes for the children of the Black Belt Region of Alabama (specifically for the 6 children posing in the photo "School's Out" and 2 more kids inside the house), I decided to pop into a well known cigar shop in the area. After being pointed in the direction of the 3 stacks of amazing handmade boxes that once held cigars, I sat on the floor for an indefinite time pondering my choices. I could only choose 10. One could never imagine my dilemma. I wanted them all and could envision the items that would go neatly into each one: scissors, pencils, a box of markers or crayons, a small notepad. I made the final decision and reluctantly put the ones back I could not buy at the time. A man we will call Rob, came over and said, "Of all the ones you put back, which would you choose again?" One by one as I held the boxes up that I could not get, he asked for them. I was hopeful he was an owner of the cigar shop and would put them away for me until March. He walked over to the counter and paid for most of the boxes, leaving me with a mere $8 balance.  I really do not think Rob realizes what blessings are in store for these children as I load these boxes with things that most of us take for granted. He will be a part of the gift that delights children as I travel the back roads and meet people who treasure gifts like this. I even know a lady who asked me to bring her a gift, and now I have a precious box that I can fill with  some of my note cards, stamps, and a pen. Thank you Rob, for blessing me today with your generosity and I hope we meet again at the cigar shop when I come back for more "pencil boxes".

I might add here that some of these boxes will be used for my cards to give as gifts. You could never imagine how unique they are. I would love to keep every one of them!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Worldly Goods

Sometimes this is all a homeless person owns. His load is light. Notice the 2nd hat.