Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Showers

April showers bring May flowers, but if all else fails.......water them with these terrific sprayers at Sweet Peas Garden Shop. What could be more fun than picking out your favorite color as well!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Downtown Train

Last Saturday I was headed downtown for a photo shoot and lo and behold this great yellow car caught my eye and I had to pull over... of course! I photographed it through the fence, with and without the tree. I liked the black tree branches.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Tallis

The Jewish festival of Passover begins tonight at sundown and will last eight days. I thought this would be a nice time to share this photo of the Jewish prayer shawls (tallis) that I photographed on my visit to Temple Emanu-El recently. My friend Lynne explained that the knotted fringe has special meaning. Click here to read more about the tallis.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Crosses

Today Christians around the world will be celebrating Palm Sunday. The ladies of my church, Independent Presbyterian Church, spent Friday morning making these lovely crosses for all of us to wear today in rememberance. It's a technique that I admire but have not learned. I guess I'm just pleased to just watch them and be able to photograph the beautiful results.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Well to be perfectly honest, I don't know if this is driftwood or not. On the other hand, it looks almost like dried bones. I've photographed these mobiles at Sweetpeas in Homewood a zillion times. My photographs don't seem to do them justice, or maybe I'm afraid you won't understand what they are! I tried again last week, and I think I'm ready to share. Whatever they are, they are bleached this wonderful pale gray and against the red.... I think I'm satisfied.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mon Nouveau Parapluie

"Into each life some rain must fall." I say just pop open your chic Parisian parapluie and enjoy the view overhead.

Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots have a tune for you today. You'll be very sorry if you don't give it a listen!

* I'm not at all certain my français is correct today.....quelle surprise! Correction s'il vous plait.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Doors From the Past I

I was fortunate to be able to have access to a wonderful treasure trove at The Garage last week. My photography buddy William Nolen and I were given access to an area where Fritz Whaley stores some wonderful architectural pieces. Mind you, it's a mélange of junk right alongside some very special finds. That's what we photographers delight in after all. William and I declared it another "mother lode"! There were so many fabulous old doors ( I thought I'd been transported back to Paris ) that I've decided to embark on yet ANOTHER series. Today the first, with many more to come.

For your viewing pleasure, William has made a little movie of our time spent at The Gargage right here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Is Busting Out All Over!

You'll have to pardon my gushing but it's been a long, cold, dreary, wet winter down here in the "Sunny South" and today was just a blessing for us all. I'm not sure what this gorgeous flowering tree is. I'll guess Bradford Pear and hope that a kind reader will correct me if I'm wrong. What could be more gorgeous? Happy sigh!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birmingham's Idol Lends a Hand

About 4 years ago, Birmingham's favorite son Taylor Hicks, became our American Idol. We were thrilled. Taylor's not only talented but an all around nice guy. He was on a little break from touring with Grease, so he came home to visit friends and family. On Thursday he joined the hard working folks from Habitat for Humanity and Independent Presbyterian Church to help complete a Habitat home in the Wylam neighborhood. Of course I was there to capture the event!

BTW, when all the TV camera crews packed up and went home, Taylor was able to get some work done!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mirror, Mirror

The Interiors Market at the Pepper Place on 2nd Avenue South is one of my favorite places to look around. Antique vendors have small rooms where they show everthing - antiques, furniture, rugs, artwork and accessories. It's always changing, so I always find something new. They also have some fabulous jewelry that I love to try on and drool over. Today some beautiful old mirrors and furniture in Martha Lauren's space. Look who kept getting in my shot!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Glimpse of Spring

Pepper Place

And that's about all we're going to have for a few days. Friday and Saturday we had our first sunshine sightings and warmer temps in what seems like weeks. Birmingham seemed to finally be waking from a long winter's slumber. Well today Mother Nature is going to flex her muscles once more. Rain and possible snow showers are expected today and tonight. I'm muttering under my breath. Don't ask.

Aftenoon Update: Mother Nature just called and said, "Just kidding!" It's poured all morning but now I think I see something bright in the sky. Wonder what that is???

Saturday, March 20, 2010

RC Cola

My southern readers will remember RC Cola (Royal Crown). I found this old cooler at The Garage yesterday. All that's missing is a Moon Pie!

Friday, March 19, 2010

WANTED - The Whereabouts of the Cheyenne Diner!

My thanks to Ken Mac for this great shot of the Cheyenne while it was still in NYC!

Some of my long time readers remember when I first posted the terrific news that the Cheyenne Diner in New York City had been saved from destruction and was being moved to none other than.....Birmingham, Alabama! I was first alerted by my dear blog friend Ken Mac at Greenwich Village Daily Photo. He has a passion for the great old places in New York that have been preserved and unfortunately many that are being torn down to make way for who knows what! He and I rejoiced when the news spread that the Cheyenne had escaped the wrecking ball and was moving south. I was all prepared to photograph its arrival etc. Unfortunately, I've tried everything and everyone I know , and I still have not made contact with the new owner. I do know that this classic diner arrived in two pieces on the back of flatbed trucks many months ago. Since then, I've been unable to find out anything further. If any of my Birmingham viewers have a lead for me, please leave a comment or email me.

Ken Mac, when I find this place, you're going to have to make the trip to Birmingham to see it with me!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Number 100!!! 100 Hundred Strangers Challenge

Stranger # 100 !!!!!!!

Drum roll puhleeze!!! I've hit ONE HUNDRED STRANGERS! Meet Maria. As you know, I don't usually put a name with a face when I post my 100 Strangers. I don't know why, but I just want to share this lovely lady's name, since she holds the place of honor today. I guess if you want to "nit pick" as we say down south, she might not be an absolute stranger to me. When I frequent The Cantina, she is usually there, smiling and very busy. A few days ago I went for lunch, and she waited on me. After I finished my delicious fish taco, I asked if I could take her photograph. She agreed, so I ran to the car for my camera. She graciously posed while I found the right light. Maria, thank you for being my Stranger Number 100!

Now there's some blog chatter about what I'll do next. Well.......I'm going to keep right on. Why would I stop now?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nigel the Holiday Hound

All Leprechauns aren't tiny!

Meet my neighbor Nigel. Nigel's humans, Kathryn and Jonathan, live a few blocks away, and I met him practically "eye to eye" while having wine at their home a few weeks ago. Kathryn said they like to dress him up for special occasions, so I jumped on that one. Today Nigel and I would like to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day. Party on!

Stay tuned, he could become a blog regular. Think "bunny ears".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

Today you're in for a treat. Sandi, a Birmingham blogger, who has a food blog called Whistle Stop Cooking and I met a few weeks ago at the Irondale Cafe ( the Whistlestop Cafe). Of course we both had fried green tomatoes and more!! Well Sandi's husband's family goes way back with the Irondale Cafe. I told her she could tell the story much better than I could, so today, Sandi is in charge of BADP. The top photo is hers as well. The Wall of Fame is a tribute to Fannie Flagg and the cast of the movie. Thanks Sandi for the day off!

"My friend Virginia and I met at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Irondale a week or so ago for lunch. It got me to thinking, and I remembered to ask Bill about how his family came to own the cafe. His dad was a railroad man, his mom was raising 3 kids... neither knew much about running a resturant.

So the story goes~~ Mr. Mac ate at this little cafe by the tracks in Irondale frequently. He loved the meat and veggies and sandwiches that Bess served. Miss Bess Fortenberry ran the small cafe with her friend Sue and a black cook named Lizzie. It was a thriving business, although small, with only enough seating inside for 31. Mr. Mac had talked to Bess about buying her cafe... before she would agree, she insisted that he have his wife come and talk to her. (smart woman!)
Mary Jo was busy on the other side of town raising kids and really didn't know much about Irondale or the cafe. She remembers walking into the tiny dim cafe to meet with Bess and was a little surprized. The cafe was in a small green framed building, with four booths and a counter for seating. There was a big Coca-Cola sign over the door and a couple of small dingy windows. Bess asked her "what in the world do you want to buy this cafe for?" Mary Jo assured her it was Mr. Mac's idea and she would only be working with him.
She remembers thinking she knew nothing about running a business but Dad was insitent. She drove back to Huffman, and prayed that Bess would decide to sell it to someone else. Instead... They became the owners of a cafe in Irondale. (or as Bill would say... the cafe owned them) Soon after they took over, the manager became sick and had to shorten her hours. The 'batter was made' and Mary Jo became a full time cafe owner/manager. Someone else's dream, became her reality.
By the 1980's cafe was a booming success, the old building had to be torn down to meet health department standards, and a new cafe was built. This new building seated 100 and had an automatic dishwasher, 5 deep fryers, and a modern kitchen. It wasn't long before they were busting at the seams again.
Then... one day in 1983, a local TV personality and author, named Fannie Flagg walked in and said she wanted to write a book based on her Great-Aunt Bess and her old cafe. Many of the stories from the novel 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the WhistleStop Cafe' are based on real life stories from the early days at the cafe.

My plate of fried green tomatoes and black eyed peas. Scrumptious macaroni and cheese just out of the photo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doggone Books - 100 Strangers Challenge

Stranger # 99

Meet my new friend Voris Williams. Voris opened Doggone Books - Used Books & Other Neat Stuff , in "downtown" Irondale when he retired. Actually he really was a stranger for the first minute and a half after I walked in to have a look around. After that we starting visiting and found out we had a mutual friend and learned a lot about each other! Voris is Stranger #99. One more to go. It could be this week. Stay tuned. Oh and did I buy anything here? You bet, a pocket map of Paris! :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Upper Room Baptist Church

While I was in Irondale last Friday I decided to drive around the neighborhood. I found this lovely little church. The windows made me park and get out. They remind me of small town churches all over Alabama. Perfectly simple I think.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blue Skies and Trains

I took a little trip to Irondale yesterday. Irondale is a lovely little town on the eastern side of Birmingham. I had a fun photographing the trains and loved capturing some fabulous blue sky and clouds in between our monsoons. My grandaddy worked for the Missouri-Pacific railroad in Little Rock. I think he would have liked this photograph.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wavy Flag

Wednesday's deluge made photography very difficult. I spotted the doorway of the Financial Center downtown, then had to circle the block for a parking spot. With umbrella and camera in tow I did the best I could to capture the photo above. Ever tried to take pictures while holding an umbrella? Good grief!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eiffel Tower......Water Tower - The Tenin Technique

Water Tower - Sloss Furnaces

I see you scratching your head! Well let me explain. Today is the 5th Birthday for Eric Tenin's Paris Daily Photo. What started as one Parisian's daily photoblog has over these past five years, mushroomed into a worldwide community of hundreds of bloggers that post a photo each day from their city. I have had the pleasure of meeting Eric twice in Paris. His blog is what got me "hooked", and I've shared with him what a terrific ride this has been for me, as I travel around the world everyday to visit my CDP blog friends and learn more about the places they call home. Today we stop to sing a rowdy "Joyeux Anniversaire" to Eric, whom I like to call le Roi de la City Daily Photo!

Eric has a few photo techniques that we all enjoy. He loves to shoot at wacky angles and often from ground level. I opted for the easier one! :)

Eric, mon ami, merci beacoup mille fois!!!

PS. There's another "tower" on Paris Through My Lens today as well.

Today City Daily Photobloggers all over the world are saluting Eric.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I spotted these scrumptious lemon meringue tarts at Chez Fonfon recently. They're lucky all I did was snap a photo instead of raking them all off into my handbag and heading for the door!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A True Art Enthusiast

Back in September of 2006, a breath of fresh air blew through the Birmingham Museum of Art. Graham Boettcher arrived from the Yale University Art Gallery , and the place hasn't been the same since! A graduate of Yale, he also earned his Ph.D. in art history there as well. Since 2008 he has been the museum's William C. Hulsey Curator of American Art.

I first met Graham last year when he did the training for Museum Ambassadors for the upcoming exhibit " Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". When introduced, I took one look at him and said, "You're too young to be a curator!" Young he might be but he knows his art. A fountain of knowledge he certainly is, but what I love best about Graham is that his passion for art is infectious. You can't be around him without feeling his enthusiasm for it. I heard him give tours through that exhibit many, many times as a volunteer and every single time I heard him, I was mesmerized. He makes art come to life, makes it fun. He's the only guy I know that can make everyone laugh out loud over Trumbull's portrait of George Washington!

Now back to the reason I'm featuring Graham today. He's curated another exhibit close to my heart. A wonderful selection of photographs by Prentice H. Polk, from the Paul R. Jones Collection, are now on display in the African-American Art Gallery. Polk is considered to be one of the most important photographers of the 20th century through his role as the official photographer of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). I especially enjoyed the series of photographs of George Washington Carver, but his other portraits are equally as stunning. Graham has done a fine job with this exhibit, and it was my pleasure to be able to photograph him by a portrait that I actually painted years ago in a watercolor class. If you wish to see this exhibit, it will run through May 23. And if you are really lucky, you might just get to join a Graham Boettcher tour!

I regret that I could not find more information on P.H. Polk online. If any of you readers find a better link than this, please share! Merci Dystopos for this link here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

You Say Macaroon, I Say Macaron

My faithful Paris Through My Lens readers, are pretty obsessive about the divine, the delicately scrumptious French macaron. Wikipedia states that the words macaron and macaroon are interchangeable, but don't mistake these for the coconut macaroon that we find here in the U.S. Confusing isn't it! Well here in Birmingham there's no Gerard Mulot or Ladurée so what's a girl to do when she just has to have one? Luckily Continental Bakery in English Village usually offers three flavors, and I snapped this photo just before I enjoyed mine.

BTW, I'm so pleased that my dear blog friend and artiste Shell Sherree down under in Brisbane, has immortalized my photo of the Gerard Mulot macarons in a delightful watercolor illustration here!

P.S. It's macaron day at Ladurée on Paris Through My Lens today as well!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Can Hardly Wait - Birmingham Rouge

till the Oak Street Market in Crestline, has those tables full of fresh produce. I peeked in these cheerful red windows the other day. Looks like they're spiffing up the inside too. Do you suppose they are vying for a spot on Birmingham Rouge?? Well they're in!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Paris Moment Right Here in Birmingham

Next time you're feeling that maybe a little trip to Paris is what you need, visit Charlotte Woodson Antiques in Mt. Brook Village. Owner Dinah Toro and I are kindred spirits. We share a love of Paris and have had some delightful conversations reminiscing about our trips there, sitting in her comfy old slipcovered armchairs. The shop is like a little trip back to Paris pour moi. Today, just a sampling. We'll be back, as I'm sure you've guessed!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Showing Her Stuff!

You remember my friend and talented artist Kate Merritt Davis. Actually she started out as one of my 100 Strangers but moved into the friends category shortly after that. Yesterday I caught her at the Bottle Tree just after she hung her work for an upcoming exhibit. My Birmingham readers can meet Kate at the reception there on Friday, March 5 th from 6:00-8:00.

The Bottle Tree may ring a bell from posts here and here and here. It has the most fabulous shadows late in the afternoon and Kate and I both liked this photo because of the dappled light. The bottom photo I snapped as I left. This funky bar/cafe abounds with bottle trees. I liked the sunset behind this one.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Columns - Temple Emanu-el

If you are a follower of this blog you know how much I love the most ornate columns Birmingham has to offer. Today we return to Temple Emanu-el for a look at details of some of the most beautiful columns in this city.

I liked the top photograph because it captured the Star of David as well. The bottom photo speaks for itself. Sorry, I couldn't choose.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If These Walls Could Talk

I know it's just my opinion, but I think this is how a library should look. Rows of wooden shelves full of books, wooden tables warmly lit by lamps. This is the Linn-Henley Research Library. It was the "downtown library" from 1927- 1984 when a newer, snazzier, shinier one was built across the street. This is the library where my high school friends and I congregated on week nights to "work on term papers and very important assignments ( meet our boyfriends). I have many fond memories of those nights spent slaving away over reference books etc. I also have another memory I'll never forget. It's as clear as if it happened yesterday. One Sunday afternoon in May 1963, we really did have a paper due and were all headed downtown to actually work. Our parents told us we couldn't go. It wasn't safe. That was the day Bull Connor and his men took care of a demonstration in nearby Kelly Ingram Park with dogs and fire hoses. A sad day in the history of my city. While we've moved past those dark days, we haven't forgotten.

Despite that, when I walked in this place a few weeks ago, I had a good feeling as I nosed around. The only differences seemed to be the laptop computers on those beautiful old tables and the librarians were using a mouse instead of a rubber stamp. It was quiet, the lamps lit the lovely murals and gorgeous painted ceiling ( a post for another day). A nice time for me to look back. Thankfully this lovely old building has been kept in pristine condition and is still being used to its fullest.

This post is dedicated to my friends Loretta and Altadenahiker, who both remember and love card catalogs!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Arthur Price - A Talented Artist, New Friend

Last week I had the privilege of attending the opening reception for Birmingham artist Arthur Price's newest collection. It's hard to describe the feeling I had as I walked in and saw his magnificent canvases that hung from ceiling to floor. They took my breath away. Many had a mystical, almost medieval feel, while others reflected Art's homage to his father, a holistic veterinarian, and his love of horses. In another space, he went in a different direction with a magical undersea series. This is no cookie cutter artist. His work is as diverse as it is beautiful. I found myself saying over and over, "Now THIS is my favorite" as I moved from one to the next. My daughter and I agreed that we had most definitely been transported from Birmingham to some special place in Europe that evening.

I returned another day to photograph Art with his work. What a kind and humble man he is. It was a rare treat for me to hear him talk about his pieces and where he found his inspiration. I might also add that he's extremely patient as he endured not one but two photo sessions with me! Today, I include a few of his paintings. My photographs cannot begin to do justice to his marvelous work. Please take the time to visit his website.

Thank you Art and Caren for being so gracious!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Theme Day - Passageways

It's that time again. The first of every month is City Daily Photo Theme Day. This month our theme is Passageways. I love this day each month. How fun to see the many ways CDP bloggers all over the world take the theme and run with it.

My photo today is from a passageway on historic Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham. Rust and grunge make for an interesting photograph sometimes I think!
Merci to my friend Daryl up in NYC. My faithful Theme Day reminder amie!