Category Archives: Birmingham

The Blossoms of the Heart No Wind Can Touch

“Blossoms are scattered by the wind and the wind cares nothing, but the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch.” ~ Yoshida Kenko ~

Cherry Blossoms 2014 D

What do April 1st, a visit to my doctor, cherry blossoms and my Tall & Handsome have to do with one another? A day and week I won’t soon forget.

I was long overdue for a check up with my rheumatologist. I’d been scheduled to see him back in January, but I was actually too sick (imagine that!) to drive down to see him – the round trip is about a 75 to 83 mile trip depending on the route you take.

I had rescheduled but, that appointment just happened to coincide with one of the snow apocalypse that hit our area this winter. We had two, yes, count them, TWO here in the Deep South this winter. So, strike that appointment.

The next appointment was set up for April 1st. That’s when I should have said no way, uh huh, not in your lifetime sista. NOT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY. But, fools tread where angel dare…

So, I went to said appointment. Going there I navigated one of the most treacherous and accident prone stretches of roadway in the great State of Alabama. That would be the boon daggle called US Hwy 280.

But, there was a pay-off going on April 1st. As I pulled around into the back parking lot of the doctor’s office, I noticed a glorious cherry tree in full bloom. A breath of fresh air – spring had sprung.

Could it get much better than that?

As I am prone to do at times, I’d tucked my camera into the Jeep when I left the house. I made a mental note to snap some shots of the cherry blossoms before I left.

When I finished taking those shots, I decided to take the “scenic route” home hoping for more photo ops – and that, my friends is where things went horribly wrong.

I was about three quarters of the way home and was once again in an area of traffic. Let’s call it rural/suburban traffic. Nothing like what I’d navigated  earlier in the day. I’d stopped and picked up something for dinner because it was getting late and was heading home.

I was approaching an intersection known as “The Crossroads” which has seen its fair share of accidents. On this day it was not destined for me to pass through that intersection unscathed.

I was cruising along well within the speed limit, not tail-gating the vehicle in front of me. I took a split second to glance to my side and when I looked forward again the vehicle in front had suddenly stopped.

Oh, snap!

I applied my brakes…and kept moving forward. I realized I wasn’t going to stop in one surreal moment.

And, I didn’t, until I rear-ended the vehicle in front of me.

I felt a teeth rattling jolt, mostly in my head, left shoulder and chest and heard a very unimpressive “thump”. I remember thinking, “That’s it? That’s what an accident sounds like?”

I was stunned and in shock – I’d had the breath knocked out of me. I began to take stock: air bag didn’t deploy, felt my head and didn’t feel any blood and the windshield wasn’t broken. Good.

But, oh, the pain…

I knew I needed to call 911. A bystander stopped and called. Next, I knew I would need a ride home. I’d seen smoke rising from the top of the hood and had a suspicion my Jeep wasn’t going anywhere but the back of a tow truck – and, I was right. I couldn’t reach Tall & Handsome at work, so I called the next best person every Southern gal would call – Daddy.

So, long story short, Daddy arrived on the scene to pick me up. On the way home my aching mind was racing. So many thoughts.

“We just paid that darn Jeep off in November.”

Thank God I didn’t receive a citation or ticket – that’s a good thing.”

“Thank God no one in the other vehicle was hurt.”

But, guilt flooded over me. I had reached this stage of my life, my age and had never been in an auto accident before. Well, there goes a pristine record. T & H and I have had enough to deal with – not with each other but, with the challenges life throws at us. I had just laid a big one on us.

I started thinking about the cherry blossoms I had taken pictures of just a couple of hours before. So beautiful and full of hope – much like life. I’d also noticed some individual petals had fluttered to the ground and were laying there fragile, bruised and unprotected – much like we feel we are sometimes with life’s challenges.

Cherry Blossoms 2014 F

But, when I got home, my Tall & Handsome was home and the first thing he did was to rush to my side, wrap his long, strong arms around me and comfort me – no incriminations, no chastising – just a safe harbor, because like those cherry blossoms the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch…

…He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 NIV

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Auto Accident, Birmingham, Cherry Blossoms, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Tall & Handsome

The Seeing Place, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place.” ~ Stella Adler ~

Stage at the Alabama 5-5-2013

If I was to ask you to think of Birmingham and Alabama what would be the first thoughts that crossed your mind?

Unfortunately, for many it would be of images that blazed across newscasts in colorless film almost half a century ago. Many of you sports fans will think of hounds tooth hats and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and The Alabama Crimson Tide. (As we say here in `Bama, Roll, Tide, Roll!)

Well, my friends, sports aside, not only have times been a changin’, but Birmingham and Alabama are not wastelands void of art and culture.

Take today’s picture of the day…

Over the weekend my most talented, and adorable niece had a dance recital and it just so happened to be held at the renowned Alabama Theatre. I had been to the Alabama a few times. You can’t live in Birmingham and not step inside it’s grand interior at least once in your lifetime. It was Tall & Handsome’s first time, and now he’s one southwestern cowboy ready to go back and attend some of the events held at the Alabama. He said it reminded him of Saturday at the movies when he was a kid.

The Alabama was built in 1927 by Paramount Studios to be one of their flagship movie palaces in the southern district of the USA. Built in the days of silent film, a Crawford Special-Publix One Mighty Wurlitzer organ was installed to provide mood music for the old silent films. There were 25 built in the US at the time. The one at the Alabama in only one of three still at its original location. Originally a 20 pipe organ, 9 pipes were added later making it a 29 pipe organ. If you look at today’s picture, to the right and left of the stage are areas that look similar to balconies. They are actually organ screens.

Add to the whole experience the addition of the sidewalk full of “stars of Alabama” in front of the theatre and you soon feel like you stepped back in time. For just a brief moment you would not be shocked if you looked up and saw flappers walking down the sidewalk and Model – T autos in the street.

Theatres are like that…they are places of seeing whole different worlds…

louise fletcher star

kate jackson star

Truman Capote star

wayne rogers star

harper lee star

dean jones star

fannie flagg star

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Stars of Fame

Just Think, I’ll Have More Room for My Azaleas Now!, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Just think, I’ll have more room for my azaleas now!” ~ Miss Maudie To Kill a Mockingbird ~

Azalea 2013 E

Azaleas are the quintessential Southern icon…well, along with the magnolia tree. Azaleas are to the South what tulips are to Holland. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Southerner who at least didn’t appreciate these wonderfully, colorful shrubs that put on a Technicolor display every spring. Even if that person doesn’t know the name of the of the shrub, they still enjoy the show.

And like any good Southern gal worth her salt, I resemble that description…

I don’t recall when I first fell in love with azaleas. It could have happened one fine spring. Or, it could have happed one day in a horticulture class. But, a love affair began…

At my first home, I had close to 40 or 50 azaleas…

When I moved, it was to a home that needed major restoration inside and out. A mother and three teenage daughters had lived in the house for 5 years. They were clueless to home repair. The back yard had been mowed once in those 5 years. Hand to God, that is true…the former owner told me that with her own lips.

So, before we could do anything, the amount of work it took on the yard, especially the back yard was almost equivalent to defoliating the rain forest…

And, then would could begin with the good stuff. Azaleas were on the top of my list. I guess I had 20 or 30 before I left that house.

Then, I moved to my current home. The house was a new build, I was just like Miss Maudie…I just had more room for azaleas!

So, I started the foundation of a great landscape that included azaleas…

But, there came a time when Tall & Handsome and I moved to accommodate his job. Not wanting to sell, we decided to lease the house out.

We’re still paying for that move…

Most of the inside damage has been repaired and even upgraded, but the outside is a horse of a different color…

The foundation of the wonderful landscape I started crumbled like an ancient civilization due to neglect…it laid in ruins…gone was the Bermuda lawn, the Japanese Maple tree, azaleas and other wonderful loved plants.

Yet, some remained, like today’s picture. It rained here Sunday, and our azaleas had bloomed. So yesterday morning I stepped out on the front porch to snapped some pictures before the blossoms begin to fade for the season. They are breathtaking…

I am personally partial to southern indica. (Mine are Formosa.) Most people think I’m fool hardy for growing them in this area, because, they insist, the azaleas are more suited for climates further south. Like Mobile for instance. The theory is a good cold snap could come along and blight the bloom trusses for a whole blooming season. Or, even kill the plant.

I grow them anyway. For me the payoff is worth it. The big beautiful blossom and the size of the plant alone is worth the risk.

Sometimes and I look out over the yard and get a little overwhelmed at the work still remaining to do…it’s like going backwards….

But, just think, I have room for more of my azaleas now!

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Azaleas, Birmingham, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, southern indica Formosa, The South

Everything Holds Its Breath Except Spring, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Everything holds its breath except spring. She burst through as strong as ever.” ~ B. M. Bower ~

varigated vinca 2013

I was wandering around in the backyard this weekend taking stock of all the many outdoor projects that need to be done to get the yard back into shape. My conclusion: It could take us a life time after the damage the former tenant did ( both indoors and out) while we were living out of state. It has made us reluctant to become landlords ever again.

As a former horticulture major, I took pains to ensure the yard had a wonderful beginning and foundation. I was looking at some pictures recently from those bygone days. Unfortunately, the yard was wrecked by the tenant and very little resembles those early pictures. At one time about 12 vehicles were parked at various locations around the yard without regard to lease constraints and damage it would do to the yard. Seriously…how do you totally eradicate a Japanese Maple?

It is going to take patience…and time…

One wonderful thing I have discovered has been the growth of native trilliums in the backyard! That is a definite advantage to living on a little mountain top in the Southeastern USA. You would expect to find these in a more secluded area, so I was thrilled to spot them a couple of years ago when we took possession of the house back.

It was warm this weekend…in the 70s! I wanted to see if we had trilliums yet…and we do. They are beginning to burst into life, along with some other early spring harbingers including today’s picture, variegated vinca vine.

But, as they say, “if you don’t like the weather in the South, what a minute and it will change…” (Kind of like life, isn’t it?) I think we’re all holding our breath because as I write we expect severe weather to arrive today and colder weather to return. There has even been rumblings of the “s” word (snow!) appearing on the scene before the end of the month! That gives me concern for all the awakening new life that graces us every spring.

I’ve felt like I’ve been holding my breath, waiting to exhale for a long time. Life has a way of dealing surprises and turmoil (much like the weather) to you, be it health, financial or in personal relationships. Sometimes I feel like I live waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop…and sometimes when it does, it’s an anvil. I’ve even mentioned a time or two there are days I feel like Atlas trudging up a steep incline with the world on my back…

It may be the mountain girl in me…my ancestral roots, but, when I take time to  meander through Nature and experience the magnificent design we have been blessed with, I find myself no longer holding my breath…I can breathe…and I can exhale…

So, cold weather, snow…life…come on! I am stronger than you think, my Rock is my refugee…and, I can breathe…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham, Horticulture, Nature, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Vinca Vine

Red Top, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I love the roof on this building. I took this picture last fall. This is one of the AT & T buildings in Birmingham. It may not be a “red rag top…” but it’s definitely a red top…for sure…

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Buildings, Photography, Picture of the Day, Roofs

Vulcan at Night, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Vulcan at night

The other evening we were out and about giving our out of town visitor a quick tour of the Magic City. We happened to stop for gas on the Southside of Birmingham. When we looked up there was Vulcan looking down on us as big as Dallas.

As someone who grew up in Birmingham, Vulcan is a regular sight. Some of us who have lived in the `Ham most of our lives are so accustomed to Vulcan we may even take him for granted…like a good pair of comfy shoes or a favorite granny.

But, to a newcomer, a big, tall half dressed Roman god who moons half of the city can make you do a double take…

Vulcan was the Roman god of the forge and fire. Our symbolizes Birmingham’s connection to its past as the “Pittsburg of the South” or as a giant in the steel industry pre-Jimmy Carter’s recession days and decline.

Our Vulcan statue standing, at 56 feet tall is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the 7th largest free standing statue in the US. He was displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair representing Birmingham.

When I was a young girl Vulcan was used to alert the city as to the status of traffic fatalities in the area. If his torch burnt green, we knew the roads had been safe, but if his torch blazed ominous red, we knew somewhere someone in the metropolitan area was no longer with us. Over the years, Vulcan has been revamped and refurbished. In  1999 – 2004 there was a large restoration and the torch was replaced with a spear.

Some things have changed, but one thing remains the same…Vulcan still stands watch over Birmingham…and visitors are still intrigued to see the big Roman guy standing atop Red Mountain. Birmingham is full of wonderful surprises my friends…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

 

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Filed under Birmingham, Birmingham AL, History, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Travel, Vulcan

No, Lee…My Heart Did Not Stop Beating, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Well, Lee came through on Labor Day and caused quite a stir. There’s good news and bad news.

The good news? It appears the horrible sticky hot days of summer are gone! Hallelujah! As a matter of fact I don’t think the temperatures got out of the 50s today which meant we had our first pot of green chile stew. Posole may be next!

Now for the bad news…first no, Lee, I did not die…my heart did not stop beating…you just caused my heart monitor to stop working…

Tropical Storm Lee brought with his bad self F3 tornado strength winds. There seems to have been at least one tornado reported in the area. As we sat at my folks house, the wind was blowing, trees were bending, raining was driving and lights were blinking off and on. Had it been Oct. 31st it would have been really good Halloween special effects. The lights stayed on at momma and daddy’s.

When we left and turned onto our street (about a quarter mile as the crow flies) it was scary, pitch black. Yep, the lights went out in Alabama…at least on our street…

Our power went out about 6 or 6:30 PM on Monday night. At 11:09 PM last night when I called the Alabama Power customer service number I was told our power would be back on quote “today”. Hummm, that gave them 51 minutes.

Well, we woke up nice and early this morning and it was still raining…and there was still no power. I called Alabama Power again and this time the automated recording had been updated. The new messaged told me my power would be on by 10:15PM Sept. 10th. Yes, hand to God that is exactly what they said…I called back twice just to make sure I heard correctly. I had.

I then called Alabama Power and punched through the IVR or the automated menu from hell we get on sometimes…you know how those things work…we punch and punch and soon feel like we’re on hamster wheels in Hades. My persistence paid off and I got a voice. I told Ms Voice I was on a heart monitor and there was an urgent need to have my power restored. Ms Voice informed me Alabama Power no longer does priority restores and she advised me to relocate or go to a shelter. Wow, good thing I wasn’t in an iron lung or anything

This morning we learned on one of the major routes up the mountain there were quite a few trees down and with them power lines. And, just to sweeten the pie, some bozo in a Jeep thought he was infallible (of course a Jeep is like a Humvee or tank) and tried to drive over the downed power lines. End result? Looks like the Jeep is hung on one of those kinky sex swing things and in my humble opinion just what a numb nut like the driver of this Jeep deserves…

And just to prove idiots like this really exist, here are the picture to prove idiots walk among us

WARNING: do not try this…please!!

can you count the rings

Clearing begins…kinda…

wait til you see whats around the corner

Wait till you see what’s around the corner…

 

yes you ARE seeing what you think you are B

Yes, you ARE seeing what you think you are

 

looks like a crime to me too B

Looks like a crime scene to me…

this is what stupid looks like up close B 

This is what stupid looks like up close (I used a modesty patch over the tag…but, then again…really?!

lost cause for now B

Yep, a lost cause…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Central Alabama, Humor, Idiots in Jeeps, Labor Day, Photography, Picture of the Day, Sept. 5, 2011 Storm damage in AL, South, Storms, Tornado, Tropical Storm Lee damage, Weather

Sweet Home Alabama, by Beverly Hicks Burch

April Tornado Damage 2011

As you and your family celebrate the 4th this year, I ask you to keep my home State Alabama in your thoughts and prayers. This photo was taken not too far from my house…and the home remains in this condition today.

If you have been spared the devastation of the April storms that tore through Alabama and other storms this spring that hit towns with names like Joplin, MO and Ringgold, GA, then consider yourself among the very, very lucky this weekend.

I’m just grateful all I have to do is put a new roof on my house because of the storms…

There’s still a lot of recovery going on in Alabama and other states.

God bless you, Sweet Home, Alabama…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Tornado Outbreak 4-27-2011, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Home, Storms, Tornado, Weather

A Southern Beauty, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Oak Leaf Hydrangea 2011 A

Oak Leaf Hydrangea 2011 B

The Oak Leaf Hydrangea are blooming up on my little mountain and I have several patches in my yard that I have nurture along and they are blooming now.

Rumor has it that one of the Alridges from the Aldridge Nursery fame here in Birmingham was hiking along a utility right away one day and came upon some oak leaf hydrangea growing. He took some, and spent years working on them and soon patented the Snowflake variety.

These little beauties are one of my favorite things about living one the mountain…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham, Horticulture, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants

The Wonders of Modern Technology, The Horrors of Mother Nature, by Beverly Hicks Burch

 I lived through the 1973 tornado that devastated Brent, AL and then came up through Center Point, AL I also acutely remember the 1974 Tornado Super Outbreak and a horrific F5 tornado that carved a path through Birmingham on April 8, 1998.

Yes, those were scary times for my home state. They were innocent times and maybe that innocence made them seem even more scary. The thought of something so destructive baring down on you that you couldn’t see and in those days had very little forewarning of was terrorizing. It could just reach down out of the sky, zap everything around you, devastate you life and be gone in a matter of seconds.

The 1974 Super Outbreak was considered a historical event.

It pains me to say history has been repeated and surpassed. On April 27, 2011 my home state was absolutely ravaged by severe weather. As I write this as least 170+ people have lost there lives. In Tuscaloosa, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide, at least 600 people have been hospitalized. Other places…names like Birmingham…Hackleburg…Fultondale…Cullman…Moody and other places held dear to me suffered all day long under the blunt of severe weather.

T & H and I happened to be out of state at the time. The moment I heard what was happening, I grabbed my cell phone and began calling loved ones. Some I could reach…some I couldn’t. I’m still waiting to hear how our home fared through the storm.

We have the technology now that not only warns us of the impending danger, but also let’s us see the monster knocking at our doors. I don’t know which is the scariest…the days of innocence when we were clueless to the lurking danger, or the days of now when we know everything and can see it all in real time…

You can decide for yourself…

I know one thing. Suffering is suffering anytime, anywhere, any place. Please keep the people of Alabama, my people, in your thoughts and prayers…

 

 

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Tornado Outbreak 4-27-2011, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Cullman AL, Hackleburg AL, Moody AL, Weather