Alabama


21
Jun 16

At the summer solstice

The sun is big and warm and that’s just about right. Daylight comes a bit later here, since we moved, but it is still bright over dinner, and we eat late. If only it stayed like this all year around.

It seems I can’t even mow the wildflowers in the side yard, reaching up and out as they are. I am presently cutting around them.

But it is nice and warm, but not overly so. The trees are nice and green and the grass is bright. You can hear the stream babbling nearby, if there’s no noise and you get close enough you can sometimes hear it before you see it. And, for the first time in as long as I can remember, you can’t really hear any road traffic.

There are roads, of course, and there are hills. We are going up and down them. Slowly, really. We’ve been out to discover a few new restaurants, mostly when we didn’t want to cook, and met a few nice people, most of them from our new bike group.

They meet twice a week in the evenings in a church parking lot near us. And we’ve been following them around, sometimes wishing they’d go faster and sometimes wishing they’d go slower. This is the first time I’ve ever ridden in a group and it is an adjustment. But we’re learning some roads.

Otherwise, we’ve just been unpacking and resting up from the move and learning the new house and recovering from the old house. There was much to paint and move and then the professional movers, five guys out of central casting, came and packed the rest and loaded it and hauled it all away. A few days later the physical evidence of our lives caught up to us. Even the parts we thought we were staying on top of caught up with us eventually. And I’m not talking about the painting, which we’d also hired out to the professionals.

Eventually, I’m sure, everything will start to feel normal again, whatever that is. Probably after all of the boxes and wrapping paper are gone and I can find things in the kitchen again and know what light switch controls what in the new place. Everything will be normal again after that. I wonder when it started being unusual before all of that. Longer than I’d imagine, I bet.

So this is an usual quarterly report, but a proper one. We wrapped up one life and are getting ready to start a new one. So the solstice is a good time for this. Do you know where the word comes from? It’s Latin. Sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). Nothing stands still. It is just a question of which direction you want to go.


29
Mar 16

Capital City Classic

Auburn and Alabama play one game of baseball in the state capital each spring. It is a non-conference thing, meant to allow people that don’t normally see the two teams face off on the diamond. Auburn has won all but one of these, and they won this year, 10-1.

This is the ticket:

And that same gaudy graphic is adorning the walls at Riverwalk Stadium (home of the Montgomery Biscuits). It is worth keeping around, I think.

The game was fun, the ribs before it were good, as ever. But the highlight, and the point of all of this, is the people. Here’s the @AUSection111 Glee and Chess Club and Live Bait Shop, class of 2016:

(Daniel, C.J., Beck, Emily, Josh, Thomas, Chandler, Clint and Autumn.)

I heard a speech one time years ago where the speaker said, “Look around. Take a moment and look around this room. This is the last time we’ll all be here together.” And I think about that often. These are good folks. It is a shame we won’t all be together again, very often if at all.

Well, the people and the fireworks. The fireworks are the other point. And if it is possible to say such a thing seriously, these fireworks lacked nuance:


30
Nov 15

The Iron Bowl

So one of these guys is my second cousin. The guy on the left is his high school buddy. They play football together. The friend has been to big time football college football games before, SEC games even. This is my cousin’s first big game. And an Iron Bowl is not a bad way to start, young man.

They bought tickets from a friend of ours and their moms said they could come and the spent the weekend and had a grand time. Also, they saw Bo Jackson. Hey, Bo, how many Heisman trophy winners did we see this weekend?

Close. We actually saw three, and that’s a pretty good afternoon.

In the stadium, down at ground level. Pretty decent seats and the guys got on the big screen for a super long time. Their moms liked all the pictures I took of them.

I made a Boomerrang and turned that into a gif. This is no more or less psychedelic in any of those formats.

Alabama won, of course, but Auburn kept it close. They had a good time. I’m glad we were able to show it to them.

And just like that, that’s my last Iron Bowl, my last Auburn game. A pretty decent run, lasting 21 years, but it’s over.


16
Oct 15

Remembering the Comers

At lunch today I was reading a forum about race recovery. (And, I promise, I’ll stop talking about this just as soon as the novelty of something I did last Saturday still leaves me feeling wiped out wears off.) The general consensus was that we don’t always know why recovery can take this long or that long. There are things you can do to help speed the process along.

Of course I’m doing very few of those things, it turns out. Maybe next time.

The other consensus was that the duration of your recovery has to do with your overall general fitness. When you think about it, that seems both logically true and annoyingly insulting. I just swam a mile and rode 56 and ran 13. Let’s say I’m in pretty decent shape. Except it is going to take me more days than the average bear to recover.

I did ride for a bit this evening, just plodding along at a slow speed. I think I managed to get into the 20s about four times. So it was a nice, easy 20-mile ride through town. I went up one of the parking decks, just for the view:

leaves

That’s Comer Hall, where I spent a lot of my time in undergrad. It is named after Braxton Bragg Comer, the 33rd governor of Alabama, and, later, an appointed senator. Serving in the first quarter of the 20th century he would be considered a progressive. He lowered railroad rates, came out for child labor laws, was a prohibitionist and, also was a big proponent of education, health improvements and conservation. Of course he also served in a time of poll taxes and other segregationist strategies. He went into the governor’s office just six years after blacks were disenfranchised and the Republican party was effectively tamped out in Alabama, something which would take roughly 80 years for the GOP to overcome. Like so many other people and things in the south, the industrialist Comer’s is a tricky legacy.

At home, he and his wife had nine children. They’re all buried in Elmwood, near their parents. One of the sons, Donald, also became an industrialist in his father’s footsteps and would run Avondale Mills while Braxton was in public service. To be of a certain age and from a certain swath of the south and to hear Avondale Mills is to understand the impact of the Comer family on the region. But, then, history is funny like that. When textiles moved away and the economy shifted and commercial impact took on another face, who would know of the legacy of the Comers or their mills or mines? Ans when you think of that you have to wonder, what have we unknowingly forgotten?

Allie, by the way, is very interested in reading some of Comer’s speeches:

leaves


1
Oct 15

Window tape, part 2

Continuing the display from yesterday, this is the time of year on the Samford campus when the art students work on the windows, practicing their craft with tape. This is one of my favorite projects of the year. Here are some geometric examples. Here are more from yesterday.

window

window

window

Among our many upcoming budget cuts, there’s this story:

The Alabama National Guard on Wednesday announced that 19 armories will be closed around the state by 2017.

[…]

Two armories have already been closed in Albertville and Monroeville.
As part of the National Guard’s “25-Year Master Plan,” 13 armories were slated to close between 2014 and 2017.

Speaking of budgets, my friend Andre Natta joined me for a podcast today. You’ll want to check this out.

If you’re more in the mood for sports than budgets, here are two football podcasts. Ole Miss and Florida play in this week’s game of the century:

And this one is for the Arkansas and Tennessee fans:

Yes, we do have Vols and Hogs stopping by. And I thank you for visiting, too. More tomorrow.