'I Left My Leg in St. Roch Cemetery': what people leave at the National Shrine of Saint Roch in New Orleans.
These are ex votos, tokens of thanks to St. Roch (pronounced “Rock” here in New Orleans) that the faithful have left for generations. They speak to specific human pain and needs beyond ethereal prayer. A heart may be left for lost-love regained, a hand in hopes of eased arthritis. A voodoo-like feeling, worship outside the bounds of sanctioned church activity, hangs over the room.
In 1867, Rev. Thevis asked Saint Roch for intercession to protect from yellow fever, and not a single parishioner died. In 1876, the chapel in his honor opened.
My last time here was 2010. These pics from December, 2013:
Roof Cat, Denying Another Cat Has A Drinking Problem, Vegetarian With An Original Recipe Problem, Car-B-Que, And You And Your Fried Pies Are Being Watched
There's a Mennonite bakery in what I think of as rural Cullman on Highway 157, but is actually considered Falkville, Alabama (tiny Falkville, known for being a speed trap, must be some imperial entity taking on swaths of acreage as it is a 12 minute drive from this shop to...to that one red light they have on 31). Of course, I grew up in a rural area myself, so...
The best thing about my particular neighborhood was that it was so quiet. When I got my car, I parked with my doors unlocked, keys in the ignition so that I'd never have to go looking for them. And I never had a key to our house, because it was left unlocked also (and this is the '90s, not the '50s). Apparently, our neighborhood was positioned in some kind of sweet-spot for people who had pets to unload -- some kind of Shangri-La for lonesome or unwanted pets. There's no telling how many dogs I had over the years (guessing: maybe a couple dozen? that's probably way off). Oh, my favorite was a St. Bernard that loved to go riding in my car. They were always terrific pets, mostly mixes, and I wondered why anyone would just let them go. There was even a full-blooded Great Pyrenees that adopted our neighborhood. The biggest surprise I ever got was once going outside to feed the cats, and one of the hungry ones that came right up to my hand turned out to be a possum. Country.
Oh! One more story. My first car was a Buick Somerset. I got it the summer I graduated high school; PawPaw took me to banks in Gadsden that had my beauty pageant savings bonds so I could cash them in, I went to the Thursday night car auction in Vinemont, and actually bought it there. It was $2850. I thought: oh wow, it is so cute like those Pontiac Grand Ams but it's Buick, which is more grown-up. And it has a completely digital dash, so...so...well, classy and cool. One day I had just pulled onto the highway from our neighborhood and heard this long alien meow. It was faintly cat-like (it was a meow, after all) but it was so long and loud and weird that I immediately pulled over thinking one of my cats had gotten under the hood and was close to death-by-fan-belt. Once I got out, I saw my cat Midnight *on the roof of the car* crazed out of his mind, and when I picked him up, it was as though he had gone...sorry in advance!!...catatonic! He was completely stiff, as though rigor mortis had set in, but he was completely alive, just scared out of his kitty mind. How or why he stayed on top of my car as it pulled out of the driveway, and I not even realizing he was there in the first place, remains a mystery. After getting home, he was just fine.
Midnight: not a fan of car rides
One more cat story: my soul-cat, Abraham, was a 20 pound Russian Blue. Truly, he was my perfect-perfect cat. Can't even say how special he was to me. He got sick one time, was starting to lose weight, and the vet explained to me after an examination that he had cirrhosis of the liver. I (I was 18 at the time) burst out crying: but he doesn't even drink alcohol!! Completely cracked up the veterinarian, he was laughing and crying as he was trying to assure a devastated me that it didn't mean Abraham had been hitting the bottle. The bill was $600 for his medication and everything, and he agreed I could pay it off in installments. He got $20/week from me, a grateful girl who didn't tell friends Abraham had cirrhosis of the liver, fearing they would be as uneducated as I was on feline health, and think my kitty had been boozing. Abraham lived many good years after that.
The Buick was not a great car. It didn't last too long. At one point in my used-car-during-college-saga, I got a '87 Chrysler LeBaron with a classy and cool completely digital dash and it *fried* one day after work at the Kentucky Fried Chicken (me, two million times: 'original, or extra tasty crispy'? whereas as hostess at Cracker Barrel, my mantra was 'smoking, or non-?'. Also, confession: at KFC they gave all the employees a free 2-piece meal at the end of a shift and I would always sneak off and eat just the crust off one piece. Peter Singer was a rock-star to me and vegetarianism was the subject of my senior term paper, but my one temptation I couldn't crush was...original recipe. Soft, I know.). Two things about the Chrysler: at one point it had a bad head gasket, which made an enormous amount of steam come out of the exhaust pipe, so that if I were the first car at a red light, the car behind me would have to *wait for the steam to dissipate to see if the light was green* and I would already be long gone; and two, that classy and cool digital dash did overheat one day, the interior of the car filled with smoke, and I jumped out thinking it was going to go full-on car-b-que.
While growing up, I made a list of things I wanted as an adult. I would pore through W Magazine (its pages decorated my room -- Nanny got me a subscription in 6th grade and I still get it each month) and made a list of the things I thought would transform me from little country girl to someone worldly and civilized, which I wanted to be so, so badly. The list was populated with things like a Cartier watch, a Chanel bag with black caviar leather, a Louis Vuitton for everyday, a BMW, and a Volvo with Michelin tires. There were three other things on the list: graduate college (I did; two degrees) and get married (I did; my best friend) and have children (we did; two beautiful boys).
The first big thing Av bought me off the list (he came from a completely different world but absolutely understood what it meant to me): A brand-new Volvo with Michelin tires. And now I have a BMW -- because when we had Shugie, our double stroller wouldn't fit in the trunk of the Volvo -- and the other things on that list. Those material items (honestly, they do make me feel wonderful) don't make me the least-bit more sophisticated! I'm still the girl who cashed in savings bonds to get a car at an auction, was afraid of someone thinking I drank mimosas with a cat, and fled from digital dashes.
It even got a bow! And it doesn't have a digital dash.
Anyway! All that to say -- this all started with the Dutch Oven Bakery in Falkville -- if you're thinking it's going to be somewhere around the train tracks in Falkville, it's actually a drive out into the country, by Battleground Mountain. The Cullman Times did a story about the bakery, which is really a deli now, too.
If you make it out there, it's actually something to see! They even have little buggies for little people:
how the rebuilding is going. Pour yourself (but not your cat) a drink before you read it.
Completely different brands from the usual grocery:
Feature Bible verses on their items:
Fellow fruitcake lovers, take note:
What I didn't expect to see:
We were back in northeast Alabama and visited the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery for the first time in a few years. There were some older monuments I didn't remember from last time, and some new ones -- there were something around 185 there in 2005; more than 300 coonhounds here now. You can't just bury any hound there, it has to be a real coonhound that's been vouched for (meaning not that someone recognized it on your front porch, but rather than it would tree), and someone from the cemetery association even has to view the dog. Also: if someone were to think they could go out in the middle of the night and bury their dog there without going through the process, well, it would be...um, undone. They've actually had to do that.
It looks so much better with the new (since 2009, I think) custodian's oversight:
This one says:
If he treed in a mail box, you'd better open it up and look because he's got 'em
Hunting partner and best friend...:
Easy Going Sam...Last One on the Wood:
Key's dog, Troop:
And this one, my favorite.
He wasn't the best, but he was the best I ever had
Our boys don't call it Ramah Darom -- they call it "Papa's Camp" I guess since Papa has such strong ties to it. He's served as its president, he was in on the original round of selection/fundraising/building and I think he's been sort of this integral part of it all this time. One year we drove up there and he was welcoming families at the front gate wearing his top hat and tails (with shorts. It's summer camp, after all. And if you know him, this doesn't surprise you a bit.).
Well, camp is in the north Georgia mountains so it's always several degrees cooler than say, Atlanta. Other camps supposedly refer to it as 'Spa Ramah' because the facilities are so nice. And they are. Last year we went for a special family camp since the boys are too young to stay there for sleep-away camp, and it was terrific. The grown-ups stay in a facility that has rooms like a regular hotel, and we were treated to camp activities, like archery, jewelry-making, hikes, canoeing...just worlds of things.
One morning, we got up and the boys milked some goats, then we got to watch cheesemaking. And I have to tell you, fresh goat cheese is nothing like what's in the grocery, which I already liked, and it is so much more fantastic than I imagined.
Shug gives it a try:
We had morning services here one day:
and inside -- the ark with wings, and it's all overlooking the lake:
Here, a place for Shabbat candles:
One morning we walked over to the waterfall:
And my favorite boys, canoeing:
We also did a week of daytime camp at Henry S. Jacobs in Utica, Mississippi last year, and that was great fun too! Here are the boys in front of the lake at HSJ -- which they got to canoe in with a bunch of other kids (their first time in a canoe!), and they made these great tie-dye shirts:
...and all wrapped up from swimming in the pool at HSJ:
This year the boys are doing six different camps, all either in B'ham or New Orleans. We are a camp family.
Av grew up going to Camp Blue Star, Camp Judaea, and Ramah in New England (before we had Ramah Darom down here). Av's dad went to Camp Lenox (he has great stories of the mothers putting the kids on the train in B'ham, packing them with fried chicken for the trip, and having the Pullman porters look after them). Av's mom went to Camp Romaca. His parents met at a Lenox-Romaca camp social, got married the day they graduated college, and just had their 50th wedding anniversary last month! Yay for camp!
For free, for kids 13+, Google is offering its free, virtual 'Maker' camp again this summer! The boys aren't teens yet, but we're definitely going to do some of these projects!
We're going to do Camp PBS Parents too!