The Live Oaks of Alabama’s Coastal South are hauntingly beautiful…
With long gray beards of Spanish Moss…
These ancient ones stand guard and watch carefully over the bountiful goodness…
Embracing, with wide open arms those who seek shelter and shade..From Magnolia Springs, Point Clear, Fairhope, Daphne to the other side of Mobile Bay- Alabama’s Live Oaks are our special treasures. How blessed we are! A special thank you to my talented friend who shared her photographs of the Live Oaks near Magnolia Springs right on Mobile Bay. One of the most beautiful places on Earth. Enjoy!
I couldn’t decide on the title for this post- ‘Our Southern Fathers’ looked wrong…’The Southern Dad’ wasn’t right either, so I went with pure simplicity, which is what most Southern children called our fathers- Daddy. We either said ‘Mother or Momma’…but rarely- called our daddies- ‘Father’. Even grown southern men call their fathers – ‘Daddy’.
Most southern men are not big talkers to their children. Here’s how it goes:
Southern Mother (SM) – ‘Go ask your daddy’
Southern Daddy (SF) ‘What did your momma say?’
Southern Daughter (SD) ‘She said to ask you!’ SD – ‘Well whatever y’all decide is fine with me’.
The most potent tool a Southern Mother has, is not ‘Just wait ’til you daddy gets home’- it’s this: ‘If you get yourself in trouble..it will break your daddy’s heart!’ As far as their daughters’ clothing- Southern Mothers have many opinions on that but Southern Daddies say:
‘Well, don’t you look pretty!’
‘You’ll be the prettiest girl there.’
‘You look just like your momma, maybe prettier.’
Here are some actual examples of Southern Daughters interacting with Southern Daddies:
SD: ‘Do these shoes look funny?’
SF: ‘Well they’re not hilarious.’
SD: ‘My hair looks awful!’
SF: ‘No worse than usual.’
SD: ‘Here Daddy, try this, you’ve always liked this casserole.’
SF: lengthy pause- says nothing-
SD: ‘Daddy, what do you think?’
SF: ‘Well, it’s not up to your usual high standards, darlin’
Southern men are more likely to introduce ‘risk’ into the lives of their children. They teach their sons how to hunt, fish, plow, work on cars, drive tractors, start fires, cut the grass, throw baseballs or footballs- at a much younger age than Southern Mothers approve of; with daughters, Southern Daddies introduce swimming in the ocean, going up on high water slides, riding fast and high carnival rides, playing skee ball; they teach play-to-win Dominoes or Monopoly, to develop the killer instinct. In return, a Southern Daddy will allow their daughters to play hairdresser and put rollers, bobby pins, hair clasps even hair bows- patiently putting up with ‘fixing’ Daddy’s hair. Southern Daddies like to show off by tossing their children in the air, or holding an infant in one hand. He will put together swing sets, rope swings – install virtual playgrounds with whatever he can get his hands on. Southern Daddies prefer to teach their own children how to drive cars and impress upon them the ‘rules of the road’.
In the South, watching football begins in infancy- with Daddy holding the baby like a football while the baby goes ‘uh-oh, uh-oh’ every time a player is tackled. Soon the daughters are calling football plays and players’ names and numbers and statistics just as well as the sons are. You must always remember a Southern Daddy wants to do all of this because in his heart, he never got to play as much as he wanted to when he was a little boy.
When a Southern Daughter brings home a young man to meet her Southern Daddy (SF) -here are the questions you can count on:
SF: ‘Where’d you say you’re from?’ (this occurs at least 3 times during which time, the young man is grilled with ‘who-do-you-know’ questions- just to make sure this boy is actually from where he says he is!)
SF: ‘So, how much is gas up that way?’ (the young man’s reaction to gas prices are an indicator of his character)
SF: ‘What kind of mileage do you get with that car?’ (the young man’s knowledge of finance and general information is at stake)
SF: ‘Now, what kind of work do you do?’ thereafter he will always ask: ‘how’s work goin’? to make sure the young man is still actually working I guess.
SF: after he has met the young man’s parents- he will forever ask: ‘How’s your momma and daddy doing?’ This also is a test of character, to see whether the young man has actually seen his folks recently.
Southern Daddies come in all shapes and sizes, but their dress code is much the same, or at least was…Khakis were casual, jeans became acceptable casual attire but most older men still wear khakis. Starched dress shirts with ties, whether with a suit or under brand new stiff overalls- depending on the region. A sportcoat and tie was considered ‘casual’- a suit was ‘dress’ attire for church, weddings and funerals. However, if you give him a horrible leisure suit and tell him he looks good in it- he will wear it from here to eternity. Do not ever do this! Vacation attire is…well, let’s just say- convention is almost thrown out the window- an undershirt under a golf shirt, with a pair of ‘short pants’ and tube socks pulled up almost knee high and bright white tennis shoes seems ‘sensible’ to some- while others may sport tank tops and bathing suits though tank tops are sort of frowned on- but the number one rule in a Southern male’s vacation attire that can never be broken- do not-I repeat- DO NOT ever..ever.. wear a Speedo bathing suit! Boxer type, board shorts, even cut off blue jeans but never, ever ‘show ’em everything you’ve got’. It just isn’t done. He might say ‘I love to go swimmin’ with pretty women’…but he knows how to show respect doing it!
A Southern Daddy may have served in the military but he will rarely speak of it, he may have played football- he will keep his letter sweater, football and old photos but he will never bring them out to show you. He is much more interested in working in concession stands, watching his children perform and will even sell the donuts or raffle tickets at work rather than have his children ‘traipsing all over the neighborhood’, begging. Southern Daddies are predictable- at mealtime, he will either give a little speech and say how glad he is you’re there and that he might not be here next year, then call on someone to say the blessing or he will say, ‘Well, do y’all want me to say the blessing?’ One type or the other, but you can count on it happening.
A Southern Daddy will always ‘pay his respects’ to widows and orphans, say ‘yes, ma’am and no ma’am’, he will gladly grill a steak or crank the ice cream freezer out on the porch, and he will sing- ‘You are my Sunshine’ in lieu of ‘Rockaby Baby’. He takes car care very seriously- oil changes, air in the tires, rotation of the tires, tuneups, minor repairs, fills up the gas tank for his Southern Daughters. Southern Daddies will grudgingly give these duties over to his son in law. When asked, he will gladly escort his daughter anywhere, except down the aisle, even if the hand has been properly asked for and given, no matter how much he likes the groom, she will always be his little girl.
A Southern Daddy wishes he could have the chance to raise his children all over again, he enjoyed every minute of it- and where has time gone, anyway? A Southern Daddy will slip his daughter a little money just to tide her over, for emergencies, spending money or just to buy something pretty for her sweet self. He will always try to never let her down; this is a lifetime guarantee.
Southern Daddies want their daughters to be strong and smart, beautiful and brave; they have just a few rules:
1) Always make an A in conduct
2) Always try for perfect attendance.
3) Never intentionally mistreat anyone or anything.
4) Have good manners and show them off every chance you get.
So, for all of you Southern Daughters- remember your daddy doesn’t really want anything for Father’s Day- but if you write him a note, give him an updated picture of yourself or buy a sentimental card? He may quietly say – ‘thank you’. Then, one day you will find he has kept every single one of them! God bless our Southern Daddies!
Love y’all, Camellia
*all photographs are private property and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission.
Hi, I’m Walter, the chief feline overseer at Camellia’s Cottage. I prefer to remain incognito, though don’t be fooled- I know everything that goes on around here. Camellia got it into her head that she wanted to do a story on me. For the record, I told her that was completely unnecessary, I like my privacy- she kept looking up old photographs that are, frankly embarrassing. There are untold times that she took my photograph when I was trying to take a nap.
Recently, I was sick, the prognosis didn’t look so good- but I am happy to report that after subjecting me to yet another round of ridiculous observations by my personal physician, I have gained back some of my weight and am feeling more like myself again. So, I was feeling magnanimous today and told Camellia that she could do a story, without photographs and without bothering me for anymore details or information. I am busy, I am perfecting the art of relaxation and deep contemplation. I have little time for this sort of nonsense. I will tolerate you, I may hide from you, but there are very few who are graced with my presence- much less my attention, or even my affection. I have asked Camellia to protect my reputation and dignity. Unlike Camellia, I do not love y’all. Just so you know, the pictures you are about to see are used without my permission and the following subject matter is for immature audiences. You have been warned. Camellia, I will hand it over to you…
Hi, y’all. Isn’t that Walter a hoot? I wanted to introduce him to you because he is such an important part of our lives. He and his precious brother Wilbur were born just one week before the disaster of 9/11, in a small town in Alabama, called Moundville. They are the offspring of Himalayan royalty- King Kilo and Queen Hilo -these little boys were certainly royal babies. When we adopted them, they were just shy of 8 weeks old. Just look at these precious kitty babies!
They were such a pair! They played rough and tumble… Walter even tried to ‘fly’ – we would put them up on the bed and at a running start, like a tiny flying squirrel off Walter would go into the wild blue yonder! Once I had to start putting them in the laundry room at night so they wouldn’t get lost in the house, I would put their food on a paper plate- which they stood on to eat. One morning the empty paper plate had been shoved empty under the door, like the two impish ‘prisoners’ they were! Both were almost mute, I promise they both quietly called me ‘Ma’, and the purring was non-stop especially for Walter. Every morning, Wilbur would look soulfully at me and whisper- ‘hi’ …he would stand like a show cat when he was being brushed! It was his favorite thing, not to be excluded, Walter would muscle his quiet way in, for a brushing of his own! They were totally non-violent, they might follow one of those big ol’ palmetto bugs but never go in for the kill. Look at these boys with bubbles!
Both of them had favorite spots to sneak in a nap- Walter preferred the black iron pedestal urn.Wilbur preferred the sink.
Walter even posed for a Halloween photo in his beloved urn. Pretty scary, huh? Don’t be fooled, he was just indignant at being caught! They were a pair for 11 years- at Christmas, we usually took pictures of them but they were rarely good photos. I had to include this one, when it was edited, look closely! At the bottom of the photo was shy Wilbur, with Walter looking on from his pedestal. It hardly seems possible, but a few years ago, our kind Braveheart, Wilbur, died unexpectedly in my arms. I was devastated, because Walter was also very sick as well. The thought of losing them was unbearable.We never discovered exactly what the cause of death was- but Walter soldiered on…a few months ago- the ever dignified Walter became sick- Even in sickness, he sat valiantly like the prince he is…He had some sort of respiratory infection and his arthritis bothers him some days-he is after all 15 years old. We hope he stays around a long time; but he still loves to pose for the camera…We are very happy to report that Walter is back at his post, ever vigilant, ever taking good catnaps; our longsuffering Lion King… Thank you Big Walter for letting me tell your story- I wish you could hear it, he’s had his ‘motor runnin’ -purring since he was a tiny babe! I guess I better let him get on with his deep contemplation and relaxation techniques. I know all y’all have a beloved pet-share your photos with us- most of all- take care of them, love them everyday- they are truly gifts of sweet joy and warm beauty. Love y’all, Camellia Well, finally she finished. I will try my best to accept this with all dignity and grace.
Settle down…nobody’s havin’ a baby at Camellia’s Cottage …we don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ babies and less than nothin ‘ bout midwives but what we do know is…
Alabama Public Television has been offering up some wonderful programming for many years. I was late findin’ out about Downton Abbey but truly loved the seasons I did watch. In the meantime, I began watching other programming such as ‘Mr. Selfridge’, ‘Home Fires’, and ‘Call the Midwife’ . They have become such a breath of fresh air in television programming, such anticipated Sunday night favorites, that I researched ‘Mr. Selfridge’, bought the book ‘Jambusters’ which inspired the series- ‘Home Fires’ and loved author Jennifer Worth’s ‘Call the Midwife’ so much I ordered the series of 3 memoirs and they are page turners! The setting is in England for all of these dramas but ‘Call the Midwife’ is set in the late ’50s, early ’60s and I can remember many of the medical discoveries, the fears of infectious diseases and for sure can recall that in rural Alabama there was a lack of adequate medical care. I’ve known people who were delivered at home and heard of the high infant mortality rates . The music and clothes, the makeup and hairstyles are amazingly accurate in ‘Call the Midwife ‘ as well. You won’t read many television reviews here but these are worth checking out. We are long time supporters of public television and radio, with programming that just gets better all the time. ‘Call the Midwife’ does have mature subject matter simply because it’s about ‘birthin’ babies but even that is expertly filmed in a discreet manner. And if you’re looking for a few good reads I can highly recommend Jennifer Worth’s memoirs . Also the DVDs for the others are highly popular. Support public broadcasting, a national treasure! tell me what PBS programming y’all like!
Well… we’re excited about this too- Camellia’s Cottage is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate program which is designed to provide a means for sites like this to earn advertising fees by providing our readers with links to Amazon.com. Click on those links below to check out PBS programming and more! It helps us keep the lights on! And while you’re shopping with Amazon, go through to the Amazon Smile program, designate your favorite charity- ours is YWCA Central Alabama- and a portion of all of your purchases will support these charities! Have a wonderful week!
Everybody needs at least one good friend like Allie Mac. She called today and said, ‘How you holdin’ up?’ The thing is, I’ve been trying to learn how to blog, doing something called ‘wordaday’ – where the Happiness Engineers send you a word then challenge me to write something using that word. Today something new started for real. WordPress Bootcamp. That’s right. Now in addition to the daily word they sent me a new challenge. Allie Mac knew I had been struggling with basic training…I told her ~’Well, so far so good, today they want me to comment‘ …’Comment? Camellia you’ve been commenting your whole life! Sounds right down your alley.’ Well it is, but…commenting and posting a comment is a little different. So, like the good friend she is ~she said the magic words, ‘Perk up Sugar’ …
What? ‘Yes Camellia, what you need is to perk up that house for spring. You’ve let it get so messed up with papers, had those painters in and out… you’re getting up every morning, making up the bed, rolling up that hair, lining up what you’ve got to get done. You haven’t felt up to getting that house dolled up like you always do.’ A good friend perks you up!
Well Allie Mac is right. I needed to perk up the house. I love my neutrals all year round but in the winter, I neutrals it to the hilt. Shades of white, black and gray…can’t get enough of it. Now with spring busting out all over ~ the house had begun to feel a bit drab. Let me tell you what a decorator’s best friend is ~ accessories! The best and cheapest way to perk up a room is with fresh accessories- right? Best of all? I shopped my own stuff, then added a few things. On the lower right is my living room in winter clothes, on the lower left is my den also in winter….both rooms have slipcovered sofas in white duck, both have black floors, sisal rugs and mostly gray accessories. At the top of the page, you can see the change out of fresh green pillows, plants or accessories the rooms have definitely been perked up! Now it’s your turn!
Hello darlin’, sorry I haven’t called lately, it’s been like the Dew Drop Inn around here! The painter was here for the front door, some teenagers came by takin’ up mission trip money to witness to some folks up in Mentone, the carpenter stopped by and said yes, the screen porch is in bad shape, he’s going to try to work us in between jobs, you know how it is with an old house~ on and on…
Yes, I know I’ve been putting you off, but believe me this bloggin’ is like learning how to practice voodoo and speak German at the same time… Well, they’ve had me doin’ something called word prompts… you know I don’t use words like – misstep…who says that anyway? Around here they say ‘you can’t mess this up’ or ‘He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time’ certainly not misstep. Yes, I used it in the Green Onion blog post. Those onion roots are already popping up!
For heaven’s sake- I told you it was a word prompt- Boot Camp Word a Day from those Happiness Engineers…they send you a word and tell you to use it in your blog post that day~ on your mark, get set …go! The next word was incomplete. The only time I’ve ever said that was when your roommate was sneaking out after curfew, missed so many of her classes she was about to flunk ‘Human Behavior’ and took an Incomplete ~ though Lord knows she was out practicin’ it! The best I could do with that word was when I wrote ‘A blog is incomplete without great photographs’, I know it didn’t sound right but you have to admit Jeremy Miniard’s pictures sure were amazin’and I knew you would get a kick out of the title- ‘You really need to get out more, darlin” …you say that all the time!
Yesterday I put my foot down! The word prompt was fleeting, Lord, I about died on that one! I just sat there blank, well not totally blank….all I could think of was a Fleet’s to clear you out before you have a baby! I have never heard… not even one southern lady, coarse or common- use the word fleeting…though I will say those Fleet’s…never mind, don’t get me started! I got out the dictionary and fleeting means ‘brief, short, short-lived, quick movement’ sort of like that Peepin’ Tom …what was his name? Lightnin’ that right! Lightnin’ scared the livin’ daylights out of me when I saw his ol’ head reared up outside my bedroom window with the moonlight shining ~ before I could get out a good scream- he was gone in a flash! He was runnin’ down the alley quick as the devil! That’s what the word fleeting meant to me! Can you imagine usin’ that word for anything? What?
No, I didn’t let them know I wouldn’t be sending in the word prompt – they’re Happiness Engineers, they wouldn’t give me an Incomplete, they’d just send me another word the next day.
The best thing those word prompts did for me was to make me sit down and write a blog post for 3 days in a row- no, I just turned in 2. I felt guilty about it though… Remember when I got the Bible App? I signed up for a daily Bible reading, was so excited about it and the next thing you know I got busy and missed a day. They must have ‘unhappiness engineers’ because that bossy Bible App sent me an email letting me know that they knew I had missed a day! I’ve got enough to make me feel guilty without that going on! My face looked like death sucking on lifesaver I was so upset. I put up with it until the third notice. I’m ashamed to admit it but I removed that App! I can take care of my daily reading on my own thank you very much! I know…don’t remind me, you got a badge for reading yours everyday.
Yes, darlin’ I’m going to do it right now… I’m going to drag and drop your precious face right smack dab at the bottom of the page….yes, honey, watch for it…you’ll love it- glad you called. Bye…love you too!
Okay y’all, in honor of Best Friends Week and without further ado…here she is…Allie Mac! My own sweet friend who knows a whole lot more about nothin’ than I do! She’ll have her own page and everything- watch for it! Love y’all, Camellia
Now that Spring has definitely sprung, I’m stir crazy thinking about taking a road trip. I’ve been home so much lately that I’m feelin’ like this old car~ loads of good memories, definitely great style, a dash big enough for your whole life’s Lost and Found, an Alabama tag on the front ~ but a bit rusty and more than a little mired down at the old homeplace; and I thought~ ‘You really need to get out more, darlin’.
Long before this blog was any kind of reality, Jeremy Miniard’s photography inspired me, he’s one of those photographers who get out on the backroads of Alabama and capture the most amazing images! I loved the photo of this car so much I asked Jeremy to make up some notecards for me. The name of this photo is ‘Alabama Special’ and I just know y’all agree ~ it sure is special, one of my all time favorites.
A blog is incomplete without great photos. As much as I like to draw and paint, garden and read, write and laugh – I’m no great photographer, Jeremy has generously given me permission to use some of his Alabama photos every now and then~ for this I surely do thank him!
In the days to come, I can’t wait for you to meet Allie Mac! As soon as the Mail Chimps and the Happiness Engineers from WordPress help us get some of the kinks worked out, she’ll be sharing some of her ideas for great road trips right here in Alabama!
Before you leave this post, here’s another great photo from my star photographer, Jeremy Miniard – makes you wanna get out there doesn’t it? Until then… keep humming ‘Stars fell on Alabama’ and get that car gassed up!
Love y’all, Camellia
related link- www.jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com
Both of these photos are courtesy of Jeremy Miniard and are his sole property not to be used without permission – thank you Jeremy!
These green onions have been growing all winter in our raised kitchen garden bed! It’s so nice to have something green to garnish with or perk up a dish all year round. The idea isn’t new, but one that really does work and there is no way to make a misstep on this one! It is fun to do on your own but so easy you can get the children involved too! It might even be fun to tell them they are planting food for the little bunny rabbits! So, the next time you buy a bundle of green onions, try this- cut the root ends off about 1 1/2 -2 inches and set aside. See below:
You can take the fresh root ends and plant within a few hours or save the tops in a single layer until they are dry (soak them overnight before planting if you do this) – either way don’t worry they will grow!
Next, with the straight end of a wooden spoon (I keep one set aside in my gardening bag for poking holes for large seeds or seedlings, please don’t reuse for cooking!) Poke holes in the soil, we have a little pot here, but your potted outside-the-kitchen- door herb pot or a raised bed like we have or a well prepared spring garden plot- even a pot of its own that is well drained will do!
Carefully ease the root end of the cuttings into the soil, they can be planted quite close, press gently but firmly on the sides of the onion roots to make soil contact. Do not cover the entire root end! Water well and in a week or so you will see the green onions begin to sprout!
Again these have been growing for several seasons in our raised bed. When I need some for cooking- I take a pair of scissors and cut the tops off – leaving the root ends growing for the next time I need them.
The Green Onion DIY project – add new root ends from the next bunch you buy and soon, if you need a little green for garnish or some chopped for a recipe you won’t have to rush out to buy green onions at the grocery store, just step outside.
The fresh taste is so good! I prefer green onion tops to chives, they aren’t so tiny, impart more of an onion taste, can be removed easier if the diner prefers not to have them and make a dish look good with a bit of green- on top of a baked potato, on a luscious cheese omelet, sprinkled across the top of macaroni and cheese or just on a platter of tomatoes.
I am always inspired by easy gardening projects that work, are useful and beautiful! I can’t promise the children will eat them but they will have fun watching them grow! Who knows? those bunny rabbits might leave some colored eggs in that patch before too long!
Isn’t this spring weather wonderful? Showers and all!