Walker Evans and James Agee Exhibit in Montgomery

Yesterday, we visited the Walker Evans and James Agee ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’ exhibit at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. It was excellent, excellent. I was especially happy to see that the curators used a quote from the book, one that I think is especially important:

It seems to me curious, not to say obscene and thoroughly terrifying, that it
could occur to an association of human beings drawn together through need and
chance and for profit into a company, an organ of journalism, to pry intimately
into the lives of an undefended and appallingly damaged group of human beings,
an ignorant and helpless rural family, for the purpose of parading the
nakedness, disadvantage and humiliation of these lives before another group of
human beings, in the name of science, of ‘honest journalism’ (whatever that
paradox may mean), of humanity, of social fearlessness, for money, and for a
reputation for crusading and for unbias which, when skillfully enough qualified,
is exchangeable at any bank for money (and in politics, for votes, job
patronage, abelincolnism, etc.); and that these people could be capable of
meditating this prospect without the slightest doubt of their qualification to
do an ‘honest’ piece of work, and with a conscience better than clear, and in
the virtual certitude of almost unanimous public approval.

Prints of even more of Walker Evans’ work can be purchased through the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.

Hotel Talisi

Hotel Talisi, Tallassee, AL

We spent one night this week at the Hotel Talisi in Tallassee. This is one of my favorite hotels – not because of the rooms – but because of the hotel’s unique charm.

Hotel Talisi downstairs lobby, Tallassee, AL

This is the hotel lobby, which includes a big-screen television, an old telephone switchboard (btw, there are no phones in the guest rooms), and this Steinway piano from the late 1800’s.

Hotel Talisi - this is the room we had on 1st stay Tallassee, AL

This is our room – it is one of the rooms that hotel folklore says is “haunted”.


Hotel Talisi - this is the room we had on 2nd stay Tallassee, AL

This is the room we had last time – each of the rooms is a little different, and decorated with little tchotchkes throughout. The window unit isn’t very charming, I know, but if you can switch your mindset to enjoy the entire experience rather than focusing on things like wallpaper that needs to be replaced or the general worn-ness of most everything, it is really one of the most unique hotels to stay in.

Hotel Talisi - real keys! Tallassee, AL

Besides, where else can you get a **real** hotel key anymore?

Hotel Talisi, Upstairs

This is the upstairs hallway. Isn’t it so great?!

I can knit!

Knitting - My first scarf, for Av
My first scarf!

Last Wednesday, one of my friends taught me to knit – I have been wanting to learn *forever* – and guess what? It only took about ten minutes for me to get the hang of it, and with the help of my trusty Knitting for Dummies book, I even finished my first scarf in three evenings. Now I just have to get back to the knitting shop for more yarn and I will be a scarf machine!

Art in Quiet Places

Cemetery statue, Jasper, AL


Cemetery statue, Jasper, AL

This monument is in Jasper.

Cemetery Monument, Jasper AL

This monument is also in Jasper, in the Bankhead family section.

We were in Jasper on Sunday on business and part of our trip involved visiting the cemetery there. I know people that never go to cemeteries – ever – but I have always felt very comfortable around them, in fact we go to cemeteries in cities where we hardly know anyone just to see the monuments (I mean, some of them are just incredible).

My Nanny z”l took me with her to cemeteries very often since I was very, very small. We would go several times a week to check on flowers, do a little walking, and do lots of talking – and I would hear the best stories. Nanny grew up in a small town where everybody knew everybody, so when we would go through, I got to hear all sorts of happy and sad, weird and wonderful family stories and history about all sorts of people. In the cemetery where my PawPaw z”l and MawMaw z”l Fossett are buried, the Fossett stone is one of the first ones you see among all the others because it is tall and a really pretty mauve-ish granite. I’m sure Nanny had a lot to do with picking it out.

Pics from Tallassee

Old Cotton Mill, Tallassee, Alabama

Above is a pic of the old cotton mill that Av took when we were in that part of the state last weekend. An armory that was the only Confederate armory *not* destroyed during the War stood behind this building (Thanks Tom for straightening me out!). Each November, the Tallassee Armory Guards, Camp no. 1921 sponsors a reenactment of the battle.

When the safety of Richmond was feared in 1864, the carbine factory was moved to Tallassee, to one-story buildings in the rear of this mill. The goal was to produce 6000 carbines/year, but the War ended before that mark was reached.

A Few Pics from Wetumpka

Last weekend, we went to Montgomery, but part of the trip took us through Wetumpka, which is pretty well known for its impact crater.

The “impact structure” – or astrobleme – or crater (I don’t know which is most correct) in Wetumpka was formed when a iron asteroid or meteorite hit 80-83 million years ago back when that part of Alabama was under water. I’ve read that the asteroid was something like the size of Jordan-Hare stadium, hitting the earth at a speed of 10-20 miles/second, and that the displacement could have been shot all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. I couldn’t really find a great picture to take of the crater, but below are some of the other pics we shot in Wetumpka:

First National Bank sign in Wetumpka, AL

Bank Clock in downtown

Fane Cinema in Wetumpka, AL

Theater, built in the 1930’s


Elmore County Courthouse, Wetumpka, AL

Elmore County courthouse

The eight columns are made from Missouri marble.

Neon Signs and Downtown Shrines

Fried Green Tomatoes

The best fried green tomatoes in Birmingham are at Andrew’s Bar-B-Q in Woodlawn. Av and I were B’ham this week, and I had wanted to go there for a long time, because I *really* like their neon sign, noting “air conditioning” and the little piggy running. The barbecue is just okay, but the fried green tomatoes are the greatest!

Bait & Tackle Shop in Wetumpka, AL - love the little minnow sign

Last weekend we spent just a little time in Wetumpka, where Av took a picture of this minnow neon sign at a bait shop.

Shrine, Woodlawn, Alabama

Shrine in Woodlawn

When I discovered Flickr, I found that one of the photographers had posted a pic of a Mary shrine in Woodlawn – I found it! It’s right in front of a downtown business that is subdivided into three or four smaller offices/retail shops. This Mary shrine is on the left-hand wall if you’re facing the building….

Shrine, Woodlawn, Alabama

Across from the Mary shrine

…and this shrine is on the right-hand side of the building, if you’re facing it. I haven’t seen these before, built into outside walls of businesses.

Picture Marble Magnets

How to make: Picture Marble Magnets

You will need:
Pen or Pencil
Pictures of a suitable size for the marble you use (catalogs and magazines are perfect)
Clear flat marbles (mine are ‘clear lustre jumbo gems’ made by Panacea, found in the floral section at Michael’s)
Glue that dries clear – I used Omni-Stick, also from Michael’s but most any clear-drying glue should work just fine.
Hot Glue/Hot Glue Gun – I used the low setting for these, and it was perfect
Magnets – I used 1/2″ round discs for this project, but they could have been a little bigger – all depending on the size of the marble you use or Thumbtacks – I used ones found in the quilting section at Michael’s because they’re a bit bigger than other thumbtacks I’ve found (I think…).

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First, take your marble and find a picture that will center inside it nicely. Draw around the marble so you will know where to cut, and then just cut out the picture(s).

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Here are all my pictures cut out, ready for gluing to the marble.

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Now take a small amount of glue (use glue that will dry clear – I used Omni-Stick that I bought at Michael’s) to make a small circle in the center of the picture. Place the marble on top of the picture and swish it around on top of the picture a little bit to make sure the entire bottom of the marble has glue and will adhere really well.

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Here are the pictures after they have been glued to the marbles. Make sure to press out any tiny air bubbles. Wait about thirty minutes or so for the glue to dry, then do any trimming around the edges that needs to be done.

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Next, take the glue gun and put it on low heat. Now that the glue on the pictures has dried to the marble, it is safe to hot-glue magnets to the back to make them into refrigerator magnets. Just put a small dab of hot glue on the magnet, and press it to the back of the picture. If you put on a little too much glue, it’s okay because nobody will see the back of the magnet anyway. I used 1/2″ magnets for these.

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I wanted to make some of these into thumbtacks, so I just hot-glued these to the backs of my picture-marbles also. Now I have some for my bulletin board and some for my refrigerator.

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Here are the thumbtacks all glued on. I used the ones that are in the quilting section of Michael’s because they’re a little bit bigger than regular thumbtacks (I think).

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Here they are! My new picture-marble-magnets work and look great! I’ve got the thumbtacks downstairs and they work really well too. This project took about 60-90 minutes from start to finish – including glue-drying time. I don’t have the receipt in front of me, but I would estimate the cost for the 12 that I did to be less than $15, including the tube of Omni-Stick that I only used about 1/30th of.

Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

Bedroom, Ritz Carlton in New Orleans

Armoire, Ritz Carlton in New Orleans

Bed Tray, Ritz Carlton in New Orleans

Desk, Ritz Carlton in New Orleans

Lobby: The lobby is actually on the third floor – so if you drive in on Canal, you come up the ground-floor lobby to the third-floor lobby. It’s really pretty – there is always a *huge* arrangement of fresh flowers, and it makes the entire lobby smell so nice.

Service: Everyone that works here knows your name. From the valet to the doorman to the front desk, and so on. When they see you again, they somehow remember your name. They’re all really thoughtful, and if you come through a hallway at an odd hour when someone might be vacuuming or doing something else, they will stop or turn off the vacuum, and wait for you to get well clear before they begin again. I know people say this a lot, but it *is* the small things that really count, like remembering your name, and saying that it’s so great to have you back since your last visit in December, things like that.

Food: We had room service Sunday evening and it was superb! From my salad, pasta, and creme brulee to Av’s soup and fish entree, it was all perfect.

Salmon, Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans

Pasta, Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans

Creme Brulee, Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans

Our experience is this: We’ve stayed at some great places in the Quarter, like the Hotel Monteleone and the W, but the R-C really is the nicest and most gracious. We sometimes try other hotels in New Orleans (mostly because sometimes the R-C can get VERY expensive – WELL over $300/day, sometimes more) and sometimes just to see what the other ones are like. But the R-C will always be my favorite.

Our Anniversary

So it was our six year anniversary, and Av made these great plans for us to take the train (I loooove the train) to New Orleans. Since we were only going to stay a couple of days, the train would be perfect because we would just be walking around in the Quarter. Usually, we take the Volvo and mess around all over New Orleans – doing interesting things like going out to eat at fabulous restaurants – and then there are the things that I just *have* to do, like getting some doberge from Gambino’s in Metarie, and watching a movie at The Palace 20 – while having a daquiri.

We got in a little after 8pm Sunday and took a taxi to the hotel (the Ritz-Carlton, my favorite). We had been thinking about going over to Galatoire’s for supper, but were really tired for some reason, so we stayed in and ordered room service. Delish.

Food This Trip:
Muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans

Muffuletta at Central Grocery – this visit, we decided to do things that were famous but we had somehow never got around to doing before. The muffuletta at Central Grocery was excellent – messy and yummy. Olive salad, mmmmm.

Oyster Po Boy from Acme Oyster House in New Orleans

Oyster Po Boy at Acme Oyster House – everything, everything about this po boy was perfect. The bread. The oysters. Dressed perfect. Yum!

Roasted Duck at Dante’s Kitchen – delish. We ate outside, and the temperature was perfect. We had company and everything was just perfect.