October 31, 2011

UAB Students and Faculty Join Local Historical Associations for a Ghostly Gathering

Birmingham's newest history museum, Birmingham History Center hosted a "Gathering of the Spirits" Friday night in collaboration with the Oak Hill Memorial Association.

Among the guests were:
  • Louise Wooster, (portrayed by veteran stage actress Beth McCord - seated front left) Birmingham's famous "Madame," infamous for her house of ill repute, is also remembered for nursing those sickened during the cholera epidemic of 1873
  • John Milner (portrayed by UAB grad student Jeff Hirschy - standing third from left), a railroad engineer who played a key role in the founding of Birmingham
  • Emma Hawes, (portrayed by UAB grad student Terri Hicks - standing, fourth from right) whose husband, in 1888, murdered her and their two daughters with a hatchet, creating a nationwide scandal
  • Early Birmingham entrepreneur Rosa Zinszer ; (portrayed by UAB's Professor Pam King - seated second from right)

On Saturday, Oak Hill Memorial Association hosted a guided walking tour of the historic cemetery. Members of OHMA portrayed some of Birmingham's famous and infamous characters and led visitors around for a tour that really brought our city's
history to "life."

For more information about the museum and to become a member of Birmingham History Center visit http://www.birminghamhistorycenter.org/

To learn more about Oak Hill Cemetery and the ways you can help preserve Birmingham's history, visit http://oakhill-birmingham.org/

October 10, 2011

I am in love!

And her name is Electra, an 23-ft liaison between Birmingham and the heavens. From her lofty position atop the original 1925 Alabama Power art-deco corporate headquarters building, this golden sentinel is a monument to our human achievement of harnessing the power of nature. However, she's also a stern reminder that if we abuse that power, she will not hesitate to strike us down with a shower of golden lightning bolts. Oh I am so smitten!

My eyes are like saucers and my grin like that of a 4 year old in front of the world's largest lollypop every time I go into this building. I adore this place! I have no words to describe the inside. The first floor/mezzanine ceiling is, in one word, celestial. And oh, if only I could verbalize the tactile delight of running my hand around the carved stone rosettes that once adorned the outer facade of the original building, now integrated into the columns of the second floor that signal where old meets new!

~sigh~ Isn't it beautiful?

Leben ist schön!

October 8, 2011

One man's mold is another man's gold

Oh for the love of mold!
Last week I was taken on a tour of the Stacks room in the archives. The Stacks room is, you might guess, full of stacks. Stacks of what, you ask? Stacks of old, moldy, dusty books, of course!

The tour was initiated by me asking questions of G, the map man. G is a retiree who volunteers at different historical facilities during the week for the love of preserving history. Anyway, I heard him fiddling around in his map cove and wandered in to see what sort of mischief he was making. (The archives is a painfully quiet and lonesome place sometimes, so I look for any excuse to go chat it up) So after talking about this and that map and half-scale blueprints for a steam locomotive (!) I asked what other goodies the archives held that I'd not been told about yet. So off to the Stacks we went.

The stacks reside quietly behind a locked door. G opened the door and at first all I saw was darkness. I followed close behind as G flipped switches as he passed them - click!- each illuminating a long row of shelves that spanned a goodly length off to our right. Click, Click, Click, as we walked... Click. Click. Click...etc. At long last we reached the end of the room and to the section I was most eager to see: the stacks and stacks and stacks of city court dockets. Some four, some six or more inches thick, these enormous books were used to record each person's name and the offense for which they were arrested, going as far back as the late 1800's. Some are in perfect condition, as if they'd been placed there only hours before. Some are reduced to just papers thinly held together by the string that once tightly bound them, the hardcovers hanging on, literally, by a thread. These are the ones I am interested in. What sorts of crimes were people being arrested for in 1889? As it turns out, such things as larceny, gambling, soliciting and vagrancy were the crimes that plagued the city back then. "Larceny of peanuts" , "allowing a viscous dog to roam free" and "reckless bicycling" are just a few of the offenses that were plaguing the citizens of Birmingham . There are many pages that list a 10-20 entries for "gambling", all arrested on the same day, at the same time. Apparently, underground gambling in the day wasn't underground enough. It is the same with drunkenness -- fifteen or more names often appear in a row, including, to my surprise, quite a few women.

As we left, G clicked each row we passed, leaving the dust and mold behind in its dark repose, until the next time one endeavors to take a trip into the past. Oh G, how I thank thee!

September 25, 2011

Blogs I like: "The Mind of Me"

A great blog! He is an amazing young man who writes to gain insight about addiction and how to use that insight to help himself and others.

Click to check it out!

The Mind of Me: 09-20-11: Honesty. Open-Mindedness. Willingness. HOW. I find that these 3 principles improve my life every day I practice them. They are very simple a...


September 23, 2011

One from my archives... On Life and Death

This has been stored up in the unpublished section of my blog for two years now.


To my shock and regret, I realized recently that I am actually quite

Miss CC has been sickly lately, battling some nasty bugs and concurrent pneumonia.
When she had turned dusky and we were speeding to the ER, I held her little blue hand and sang a little song. I smiled and cooed at her and tried to assuage her my fear. I realized then that since she was born I've had in the back of my mind this idea that we've been trying to avert Death's pesk
y pursuit for the last two years, dodging and darting about, leaving a zig-zagged trail -- you know, as if that helps.

And each one of these seemingly desperate events feels like it must surely be the last, because I've somehow managed to be influenced by our strange socially constructed notion that death, in its dark and smoky anthropomorphic form, does indeed hungrily pursue us and that eventually, if we are caught unguarded, will prevail.

But it's not really this way. As unlikely as it seems, life prevails.

Or perhaps it's just that these days we are blissfully ignorant of how diligently Death pursues us. Germ theory, antiseptics, vaccines, scientific medicine... all these things have had a profound impact on staving off Death and his pesky scythe.

In pre-scientific medicine era, Charlotte would have been born only to immediately begin starving to death.
There would have been no surgery, no IV nutrition, no ability to sustain life. This precious girl that's sleeping peacefully in my lap as I type would have been an unknown.


That's where I stopped writing two years ago. And now a four-year-old Charlotte sleeps peacefully in my lap again. I can feel her heart beating slowly against my leg, and again I am pondering life and death. Her heart beats so slowly because of her faulty wiring. But faulty wiring doesn't mean faulty heart. Charlotte has, in just four years, touched more lives than most of us will in a lifetime. And though it seems like we've often had to sprint away from Death, I think really what's been going on is that Charlotte's been running so furiously towards Life!

The piece is disjointe
d, which is why it never got published. I am a good started, not such a good finisher. I know when I started writing this two years ago I was going to finish it up by praising modern medicine and the doctors that saved her life for the third time. Two years later I still thank them, but I can't leave out one very important person! I have to thank Charlotte... thank her for saving so many other lives with her kindness and purity and inspiration. Imagine what she'll do with the next four years! And the next, and so on!

I feel so fortunate to be her mother, though I can't imagine what I did to deserve such a special honor. When s
he sleeps at my side, or naps on my lap, I gaze at her with profound wonder and awe. To me, she hung the moon, as they say, and is busily painting the stars as well.

September 19, 2011

This one is all about me :)

Finally things are getting sorted out!

I've got two wonderful internships this semester, one at the local Public Library Archives. I am processing old dusty boxes containing legal cases from a few decades back. It makes me 'eart a-flutter to be around all the old dilapidated books and photographs and artifacts. (it also makes my lungs hurt so I don a surgical mask, the kind I'm always swiping from hospital clinic visits) The only problem at first was the struggle to resist the compulsion to push the button and let the moving shelves close in on me, smashing me betwixt moldy and dusty. But, then the archivist informed me that there are built-in preventions for that very thing, and so it's not possible. Damn. I mean, it seemed such an adventure.

The other is a paid internship in a similar setting. Oh how my heart throbbed when I first laid eyes on the wonders contained therein. Not only do they have old moldy books and things, but photographs, objects, blueprints, things I can't even identify but they are old and rusty and electrical looking. And art. They house all the corporate art, racks ad racks of it. ~sigh~ There is a museum section as well so I will be assisting with setting up exhibits. Heaven!

So there's the fun stuff. The mo' funna stuff is that I've been enjoying the company of some lovely ladies, as we all try to find our niche in the artsy world. Heera, the soon to be locally famous celebrated henna artist, has been very busy attending events and promoting her art. She has also been busy covering me with henna.

She does great work, wouldn't you say? Susan also has been ramping up her jewelry and Motherly Creations business, and we three went in on a booth at the recent Babypalooza. I sold a goodly amount of babywearing ring slings.

(HennaJenna. The way in, as you can see, is through my brain.)