52 week's of Marie's Life

52 weeks captured through photos


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21. Industrial (Week 13)

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”  ~ Henry Kissinger ~

While visiting Birmingham, Alabama, a few weeks ago, we followed the recommendation of TripAdvisors and visited the Sloss Furnaces.  We read that this was an industrial museum.  There is no admission fee and, after checking in, you are free to wander around on your own.  If you are into architecture, industry, or photography – this is a place you must see.

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The city of Birmingham was formed to exploit the raw mineral resources of the area. Every ingredient necessary – coal, limestone, iron ore – to make iron was found within a 30 mile radius. In the 1870s, after a long financial depression, demand for industrial products was picking up throughout the nation. Agriculture had been the basis for Alabama’s economy, but the demand for cotton on the world market had declined causing people in the rural areas to seek out work in the mines, mills, and blast furnaces. Birmingham soon grew into the South’s leading city for heavy industry.

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Due to plastic pipe, ductile iron, foreign industry, and the Clean Air Act of 1970, Sloss Furnaces closed in 1971. In 1977 voters approved a bond to convert the furnaces into an industrial museum. Work commenced to restore the site and make it accessible to the public. Currently it is the only twentieth century blast furnace in the nation being preserved as an industrial museum.

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Sloss Furnaces is used as a backdrop for many concerts and community events.  As we wandered around the site, we came across preparations for their annual haunted house.  Incidentally, the site has been featured on Ghost Hunters.  I thought it would be appropriate to post this theme today, on Halloween.

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40. Rusty (Week 4)

One of the men that frequently comes to our weekly Saturday meet ups for breakfast invited a group of us back to his house this past weekend.  His waterfront home is on Bird Key.  The exterior and interior of the home, as well as most of the furnishings, are a stark white.  This rusty train was a dramatic surprise in the living room.

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The Train of Life

Some folks ride the train of life
Looking out the rear,
Watching miles of life roll by,
And marking every year.
They sit in sad remembrance,
Of wasted days gone by,
And curse their life for what it was,
And hang their head and cry.
But I don’t concern myself with that,
I took a different vent,
I look forward to what life holds,
And not what has been spent.
So strap me to the engine,
As securely as I can be,
I want to be out on the front,
To see what I can see.
I want to feel the winds of change,
Blowing in my face,
I want to see what life unfolds,
As I move from place to place.
I want to see what’s coming up,
Not looking at the past,
Life’s too short for yesterdays,
It moves along too fast.
So if the ride gets bumpy,
While you are looking back,
Go up front, and you may find,
Your life has jumped the track.
It’s all right to remember,
That’s part of history,
But up front’s where it’s happening,
There’s so much mystery.
The enjoyment of living,
Is not where we have been,
It’s looking ever forward,
To another year and ten.
It’s searching all the byways,
Never should you refrain,
For if you want to live your life,
You gotta drive the train.

~ Author Unknown ~


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48. Sun Flare (Week 47)

“Your husband called – He said buy anything you want.”  ~ amusing sign I’ve found in dressing rooms ~

Gazing up through the skylight in The Mall at University Town Center, I was lucky to catch this sun flare for my blog.

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10. Family Table (Week 33)

~  With people you have known for years,

or with brand new friends,

 the fondest memories are made gathered around the table.  ~

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Our second night in Natchez, Mississippi, Greg & I, the couple we traveled with, and a couple we hadn’t met yet moved to Bisland House.  Schelley, the coordinator of our “Maids on the Trace” event had arranged for all of the Motormaids and their traveling companions to soak in the historic atmosphere of Natchez by staying at one of the many houses and cottages in walking distance from downtown and not far from the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

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The Bisland House on Commerce Street, was 3 blocks from downtown and 3 blocks from the bluff.  The Evergreen Cottage was located on Cemetery Road on the bluff.  The remaining accommodations were on Pearl Street, around the corner from us – Clarimount House, Savannah House, Emsley House, Marcia’s Cottage, and Evergreen Cottage.

After we all met for dinner at Roux 61,  we were to meet back on Pearl Street to pick up the commemorative red shirts and patches that we had ordered. IMG_5827

It was fun to look into the other houses.  The Savannah House was not new, but much of the building materials were from old Natchez structures and in 2009 won the Historic Natchez Award for New Construction in a Historic District.  The 1852 Planter’s Cottage known as the Elmsley House won the 2008 Historic Natchez Foundation Award for Restoration as the result of a 2007 renovation.

Our bed & breakfast, the Bisland House, was a Circa 1904 Colonial Revival Historic Home, listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.  We learned from our conversations with the current innkeepers, Byron & Christine Tims, that they bought the house after losing everything in a hurricane that swept through New Orleans, Louisiana.  Since their purchase, they’ve been renovating in stages and have filled the home with antiques and period pieces.

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After a restful night, we looked forward to breakfast – this was a B&B, afterall!  When we sat down at the dining table, we felt like we were all at a family table as we all ate together and shared stories. Our innkeepers did not join us at the table, but they propped nearby as they served us and joined in our conversation.

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With breakfast over, it was time to thank our innkeepers and start our journey up the Natchez Trace Parkway, but first they requested a picture of us all in front of Bisland House.

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(L to R: Roy, Connie, Greg, Orlin, Me, Clara)

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21. It Happens Over Time (Week 32)

“Life is short – eat dessert first.”  IMG_5778

Finally, our first scheduled “Maids on the Trace” meet up was for lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard.  We were to look for a 28-foot high structure on Highway 61, south of Natchez, Mississippi, that was of a smiling mammy wearing a red kerchief, white blouse, horseshoe earrings, and red skirt, holding a tray.

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Mammy’s Cupboard dates from 1940 when it was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gaude.  A mammy character had been portrayed in the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind”, about the same time plans for the restaurant were being made.  Along with now being the embodiment of political incorrectness,  the building is also unusual in that its architect was a female, which was not the norm in 1940.  Mrs. Gaude operated the restaurant, which was built as a compliment to an existing service station.  Many tourists were drawn to the bright red skirt, as they came through the Natchez area for the antebellum mansion tours.

This roadside structure has been many things over time – a gas station, restaurant, gift shop, and craft center. It had gone through quite a bit of decay over the years, but it has had its periods of renovation and restoration.   The exterior bricks, which form the skirt, have been repaired many times and the red skirt is given a fresh coat of paint periodically.  During the Civil Rights period of the 1960’s, Mammy’s “skin” was repainted a lighter shade.

Currently the restaurant operates Tuesday through Saturdays, offering a lunch menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and made-from-scratch desserts.  As you enter the restaurant through a door in her skirt, you will step into a gift shop and dining room.

~ Good friends.  Good food.  Good times. ~

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There was a feeling of nostalgia, as we were seated at one of the old fashion tables of varying sizes throughout the room.  Then we watched arrivals to see who was going to be doing this ride with us.  It was fun to see faces we knew and also to introduce ourselves to new friends.

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As more would come in, we’d finish eating so we could give up our tables and then congregate outside around our parked motorcycles and a picnic table.

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And of course pictures needed to be taken!

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(That’s me to the right, and Clara to the left, of Schelley from MS who put this all together.)

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4. Architecture (Week 4)

“The man who has no imagination, has no wings.” ~  Muhammad Ali ~

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Continuing with my obsession with the construction progress at the Mall at University Town Center, I recently caught these men at work. I’m trying to imagine what this can be.  Is this an entrance to the mall or perhaps a business on the out-parcel?

Meanwhile, across the street, speculation continues as to what this building is, as well.  Each detail of the architecture may be a clue.  Is that a tall open ceiling at the one end.  Is that an office lobby or a restaurant?  Will there be massive glass windows?  I hear there may be a Cheesecake Factory in our future.  Can this be it???

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