So...it really is true that when you have children, going out alone with your husband feels like a date! A couple of weeks ago, Av took me to The View, which is at one of the clubs we belong to.
Today and tomorrow is the Greek Food Festival downtown Birmingham at the Holy Trinity - Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral. This is one of those must-do food festivals because it is just the very, very best...you guessed it...Greek food.
This is my pasticho at last year's festival:
This weekend is Mule Day in Winfield, Alabama. Ah, I just have to show the pic above because we gave Shug a bunch of these Schleich animals from the Feed and Seed that the McEwens have in Wilsonville (they're the nice people that mill the organic grits and cornmeal, etc.), and I explained to Shug that donkeys especially like to be in pairs, that they would much rather be with a friend than alone. Well, he has since *always* kept donkeys and mules together when he plays with them! Such a sweet little heart he has.
The Samford University Art Gallery exhibit (in Swearingen Hall), "1000 Pounds of Alabama Clay" ends tomorrow! I have been meaning to get to it since it opened late last month and wanted to make it a little get-together with a friend, but this afternoon I realized it was now or never...and it was almost never because I got there around 4:30p figuring that the gallery didn't close until 5p, but guess what!?
Guess what!? The press release for the new Gee's Bend quilters' partnership with Baum Textiles / Windham Fabrics was sent to me yesterday - with pics! Starting this November, four quilt kits (shown below) and 19 different solid fabrics will begin shipping to quilt shops.
Housetop, measuring 52” x 64” is based on the same titled design by Rita Mae Pettway – manufacturers style # 30551. Mrs. Pettway (b. 1941) made her first quilt at the age of 14. She was raised by her grandmother, quiltmaker Annie E. Pettway, and still lives in the house that her grandfather built for the family in the 1940s. "Onliest thing we did after everything else was done, we sit by the fireplace in the wintertime and piece up quilts. Me and my grandmama Annie. She didn't have no pattern to go by; she just cut them by the way she know how to make them," says Rita Mae. Piecing quilts, according to Rita Mae, was done individually but quilting "we all did together." Rita Mae, along with her ancestors and her daughter, renowned quilter Louisiana Bendolph share a penchant for creating strip quilts in concentric squares resulting in Housetops or Hog Pens, each artist though has a unique style and variation on the theme.
Housetop 4-Block Variation is 57” x 65” and styled after the work by the same name by Mary L. Bennett – manufacturers style # 30550. Mrs. Bennett (b. 1942), granddaughter of Delia Bennett (1892-1976) ancestor of many quilt makers in Gee’s Bend. Mary L. Bennett pieces primarily “Housetop” and “Bricklayer” compositions and imaginative variations on them. “I was born down here in Brown Quarters and got raised by my grandmother. I started out working in the fields for my uncle Stalling Bennett. I didn’t get no schooling – every now and then a day here and there. Didn’t nobody teach me to make quilts. I just learned it by myself, about 12 or 13. I was seeing my grandmamma piecing it up, and then I start. I just taken me some pieces and put it together, piece them up till they look like I want them to look. That’s all," states Mary L. Bennett.
One of the other really nice things is that a percentage of the royalty that each of the four quilters receives is in written contracts to be routed into The Gee's Bend Quilters Collective and The Gee's Bend Foundation.
One of the things we've been trying to do is to visit all the different wineries in Alabama while we're out. A couple of weekends ago we were close to Talladega so we stopped in at Bryant Vineyards:
I think they also let people come and pick their own muscadines because they had a scale outside and while the boys and I were outside, a small group came up with their own sacks full to weigh.
Across from the Refuge Baptist Church in Lincoln, Alabama is Halls Cemetery. Inside is this monument for Pleasant R. Crump, who lived to the age of 104...
They were investigating how the man who built the home in 1851, Robert D. Smith, went from "traveling on a ship full of captive individuals destined for servitude to owning a luxurious home". The transcript is here, but here are the interesting excerpts:
Robert Smith was 16 years old when he got off that slave ship. What was life like for a free man of color here in New Orleans then? That’s a question I have for city historian professor Rafael Cassameer, whose family has lived here for more than 200 years. Why would a free person of color have moved from Baltimore to New Orleans back in the 1820S?
Rafael: No segregation by race, no segregation by class...---(he set up a grocery business)Judith: We have the year, 1837. We have the other person involved in the deal. And we have page numbers, so that we can now go to the original document. This is an act of sale from Robert D. Smith, free man of color, to Edward Barnett. He is selling a house, Orange and Camp Street in the American sector, Lower Garden District is what they call it now.
Judith: He’s selling it for $4,000. That’s a lot of money.
---Tukufu: And like a true entrepreneur, Robert Smith knew how to make a profit.
Judith: He bought it for $650, so he’s buying bare property.
---Judith: Yeah. Well, let’s see what else we’ve got here. He’s selling a house. He is selling a mortgage. He’s making another mortgage. He’s selling two slaves to two different people.
---Judith: This is a power of attorney to a man in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the purpose of “manumitting, emancipating, and granting freedom to his female slave named Ann McCauley together with her four children, for the express purpose of freeing them.”
Tukufu: Wow! So Robert Smith emancipated Ann McCauley. But why? And what happened to her? It looks like she couldn’t stay in Louisiana. In 1830, Louisiana passed a law that made it impossible for a freed slave to remain in the state. Louisiana slave owners were afraid that freed slaves like Ann would be the wrong example for those still in captivity. So after she was freed, she would have been forced to leave New Orleans. All of this is happening in the space of six weeks. Which is suggestive that he’s not staying in town. He’s selling everything off. He’s leaving town. Why would Smith sell off all his property and leave the city that had brought him success? Natchez is right across the state border, up the Mississippi River from New Orleans. I’m going to check the public records to see when he’s first mentioned.
“You are hereby authorized to celebrate the rights of matrimony between Robert D. Smith,” -- our guy -- “and Ann McCauley” this is the woman that he purchased in New Orleans. He’s marrying her, here in Natchez, Mississippi. In the 1840S, half of Mississippi’s Free Blacks lived in Natchez. This would have been a place where Smith could marry and live with his wife free. So Robert Smith did travel a slave ship, but not as a slave. He was a free person of color. In New Orleans, he was a successful businessman, but was forced to leave to have freedom for the woman he would marry. And he settled in Natchez, where he prospered in a taxi business, built a house and called it home. My journey ends here, back in the Coys’ house in Natchez.---Tukufu: And so they ultimately ended up here in Natchez, Mississippi, in this beautiful home.
Coys: This is a love story.
Tukufu: It is a love story. It’s about love and it’s about freedom. In part, he had to escape from Louisiana to find freedom to marry his wife in Natchez, Mississippi. Certainly helps us to understand Robert Smith and his family and why he came to Natchez.
I also piped 5770 for the new year on a little birthday cake (R/H is the Jewish New Year. It has a lot of religious observance behind it, but since the boys are so little we're keeping the idea simple that the world is having a birthday).
I like to make these little tomatoes for a summertime appetizer or sometimes lunch with little salads.
These structures are all in Mason's Bend, Alabama.