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I am so happy you are here! Now sit and visit with me for a while, visit all my pages and feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you! It's all just a SOUTHERN THING.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Albright Writes: SAVED BY THE BELLE


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Albright Writes: THE BIG THING ABOUT SMALL TOWNS... OR MY LOVE AFFA...: "Small Town America is a special place. It's like nowhere else on Earth. I learned this lesson the hard way; by leaving. I ..."

Monday, March 28, 2011


Small Town America is a special place.  It's like nowhere else on Earth.  I learned this lesson the hard way; by leaving.  I have lived in New York City, Los Angeles California, and nearly everywhere in between.  From both coasts, two of the Great Lakes, and the land locked midwest and even the deserts of Phoenix, I have called them all home over the last 25 years. And I stay in the perpetual suspended state of HOMESICK for Tuscaloosa. Why?  Some of my friends from down South ask me this.  They ask because they still live there.  They don't know what they've got.   I am in the middle of a life-long love affair with Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  When I was 11 years old we moved to Oklahoma.  And while I loved it there and made life long friends during my four years there, I was, even then, perpetually homesick, grieving away for my familiar surroundings of the  misty liquid sunsets on the Warrior River and history of The University of Alabama campus.  Lake Tuscaloosa and Lake Lurleen and the "spillway" were places for summer boat rides, and making out with my high school boyfriends. And Pure Process Ice Cream was where we took my Grandmother every Sunday after church and a big fried chicken dinner at her house.  Orange Pineapple was my mother's favorite with real bits of oranges, but I have never again found it since the little old building on the riverbanks closed years ago.
The kudzu would creep and crawl over everything that stood still. Summers were miserable if you were measuring it by the humidity.  Sticky skin and frizzy hair was the way I spent them.  But I wouldn't trade them for anything.  Slow and happy and sweaty.  Red cheeks coming in from long bike rides on half paved roads, slamming screen doors and window unit air conditioners. Life was easier in a small town. All the neighbors watched out for each other and everyone's kids were like your own. And the road trips to Florida's gulf coast were just a way of life.  All loaded up in the car, crammed into the backseat, thighs sticking to the thighs of my brother next to me, windows down, and brimming with anticipation.  1970s cars, and Seals and Crofts singing on the radio and my grandmother on my father's side saying from the front seat, "Now I know where I'm a gonna stop. They don't trade fair ever'where on this here road.  I'm a not gonna pay $4.00 for no watermelon y'all!"  And we would stop at all the same places every year and buy tomatoes and watermelon for the rental we'd stay in in Panama City.  And come home red as beets and stinging with sunburns but proud to show off all the sun we got.  Home grown tomatoes and home grown watermelon just taste better from a roadside stand than any store bought in California.
  Tuscaloosa is special.  It's unique in all the most perfect ways.  I feel I am an authority on this because I have been able to compare it to, well, almost everywhere.  And the feelings of a small town where everyone DOES actually know everybody AND their brother...and for me, their mothers and grandmothers before them, that's not a bad thing.  I think it's a good thing.  I love it when I go home, that's what I still call it when I go to Tuscaloosa. "When I go home,"  Because Tuscaloosa IS home.  It always will be.  So, when I go home and see people at the football games or in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store, they still say, "Well hey there little Beth,"  if they are my mother's or grandmother's old friends, that's what they still call me although I am an ample grown woman.  I love that they still call me that.  It reminds me that they have known me all of my life.  That they have been family friends forever and if I ever needed anything I need only to call and they would be there.  That's the way small town America is I think.  But it's especially that way in Tuscaloosa.  I love that everyone knows me or my Mother or Dad or my Grandfather or Grandmothers.  It's a comfort. And I cherish it trying to keep their legacy from being tarnished in any way.  When everybody knows you and yours from way back, it does sway you to live right!  Wouldn't wanna make grandma turn over in her grave!
The Summers start in April in Tuscaloosa,  and when I went to the Midwest and it was still snowing in April,  I actually got angry!  As if they just didn't understand the law there...Easter Sunday was all about the patent leather shoes and  Dogwoods and Hydrangea blooming beside the screened in porch.  SNOW!  In SPRING??  Unheard of in my little town.   We did have just enough Winter to make for a nice Christmas season too.  Just a dusting of snow and Tuscaloosa would close for the day.  See?  Perfect!
I tried to find green tomatoes and okra at the grocery stores in California.  Can You believe they asked me "WHY I would want unripe tomatoes???  And THEN told me they NEVER HEARD of Okra!!  Good Lord!!  So I found a restaurant that served Fried Green Tomatoes.  It was a Southern themed place and the delicacy of fried green tomatoes was a novelty at best.  Oh No!  They came and I was mouth watering ready......flour.  Yep.  Thats  no Fried Green Tomato!!!  I said to the waiter, "Y'all might need to learn about CORNMEAL...wow!  Homesick.  Perpetually. I can still get a meal with a meat and four sides for around $5.00 at the CITY CAFE.  And they have the BEST friend Green Tomatoes... outside of my sister-in law's.
In Tuscaloosa you can still sit out on a Summer's night and talk to your neighbors.  And when someone " Has Passed" a line of traffic will form on your street of folks with covered dishes.  You'll have more pound cake and potato salad than you'll know what to do with!
Tuscaloosa has it's own special brand of Small Town America.  It is in the HEART OF DIXIE, being in Alabama.  It is a classy place with mostly classy people.  And Southern Hospitality seems to have gotten it's very definition from here.  Every "Hey Y'all," and  "fixin' to" is inside my spirit and when I am home it shines a little brighter.  I fit there. We don't shake hands in the Deep South.  We hug.  For everything.  Hello and goodbye. Happy or sad.   It's just better that way.  I am proud to show off Tuscaloosa to my Yankee in-laws, and anyone else I can convince to come for a visit.  They always come away with the same response.  Wow.  Now this is classy.  Everyone is friendly and says,  "How you doin'?"  The food is fantastic. The history is rich.  The Bama Theater is one of the last of the old Movie Palaces and home to some of the best shows this side of Broadway! I was HOME this past Summer and so proud of MY Small town.  It has grown and changed but never compromises who and what it is. Even the new architecture fits in and blends.  The University is growing and changing.  But still looks and feels grand and opulent.  But thank heavens, Tuscaloosa is still a small town.  When I come home it's like I never left.  I am hugged and kissed and loved.   I go out with my friends and see my Mother and eat like I have been starving in a desert.  I have.  For the SOUTH... and it's way.   I love my small town.  I love the slow way of life there.  The closeness.  The legacy I have. The friends that have known me forever and have my back no matter what.  The sticky hot Summers and the burst of Spring with the pollen so thick you can write your name in it, and the promise of Summer peeking just around the corner. The sweet tea and the backyard gardens, and the Warrior River and the lakes and the CRIMSON TIDE.  I will be perpetually homesick until I am finally home to stay.  Because in Tuscaloosa, in my small town, that's where I am ALWAYS home.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Albright Writes: THE SECRETS OF MY MOTHER'S MAGICAL PURSE: "A mother's purse is a magical treasure trove of answers. Answers to life's most pressing questions. 'Do you have any aspirin? Do..."


A mother's purse is a magical treasure trove of answers.  Answers to life's most pressing questions. "Do you have any aspirin?  Do you have a bandaid?"  Right?  If you're a mom you know what I mean.  People always wonder why we carry the backbreaking purse. "Do you really NEED all this stuff?"  They think it's because we are insecure.   A mother's purse is the family backpack.  Do a search of your purse right now.  And if you are a man, look through your wife's purse.  If she were alone she would never be carrying YOUR wallet, or everyone a bottle of water or the snacks your son will need after school.  My purse has baggie upon baggie of things for survival.
  But it pales in comparison to my mother's purse.  It was so filled with the most unbelievable items when I was growing up that I just knew one day she might pull an entire dining room set right out of her bag, complete with floor lamps and a buffet hutch.  Oh sure, she had the usual stuff, bandaids, and aspirin, but she also had the bactine and a bottle of peroxide!  I really though she might actually pull out an entire Walgreens store right then and there sometimes.  Antacids?  She not only had the Rolaids, she had Tums, and an entire bottle of Pepto Bismal.  "You need different tummy drugs for different tummy troubles, and every kid likes different antacids."  Uh huh.  One day we were in a hotel room and I was trying to plug in my hair dryer at the desk so someone else could use the bathroom.  I said, "I sure wish I had an extension cord."  Guess what.  Yep, right out of the old purse my mother scooped in her hand and produced a 9 foot extension cord!  I shook my head.  And dried my hair.  Even recently, my son needed batteries for something, and he said the magic words, "I sure wish I had some double A's."  And my mother produced a baggie of batteries...in EVERY size...even 9 volts!   Even perfect strangers need only utter a wish and I have seen my mother pull out  little bags filled with neosporin and gauze.  A little ice skater was crying with bleeding blisters one day and the tears caught my mother's compassionate heart and she walked over to the anxious mom and child and fixed her right up.  No crying children in MY mother's presence!  No siree!
 When I was really young I thought of her purse as magical.  Kinda like Mary Poppins bag.  I thought it a rite of passage.  When I grew up, certainly I would be passed down the secrets of the magic purse.  Like the President gets the BOOK OF SECRETS when he becomes the keeper of the Oval Office.
I would finally get to know just how you pull out ANYTHING anyone EVER needs, from a seemingly normal, albeit large, sized bag.  One day when I was in about the seventh grade, my mom was driving me to school.  We were late so I was eating toast in the car.  Crumbs were flaking everywhere and I blurted out, "I sure wish I had a plate."  My mother reached over the console and produced a ceramic plate from her purse.  A Plate.  A CERAMIC plate.  Was in her purse.  THEN, she said without batting an eye, "Do you need a knife?"  She kept driving, looking forward, like this was normal, all in a days work.  Why, everyone has a ceramic plate and a knife in the purse.  What's wrong with you?  I sat looking at her, brows furrowed, mouth open, like I KNEW this was NOT normal.  I had friends and I just KNEW their mothers did not have table settings of plates and flatware in their handbags.  No, they did not.  At that very moment I knew my mother was not normal.  People had been telling me this for years!  But NOW, I had proof!  She had just pulled a PLATE from her purse...WHILE DRIVING!
  As I sat staring at her.   It was a moment I will never forget.  I KNEW in that instant I would NEVER get the SECRET BOOK,
I would not be passed the secret handbag full of magic.  It belonged to my mother.  And it was HERS alone.  There would never be another one after hers.  She filled it with her own brand of love.  Love for her was being there for everyone who ever may need her, or anything she has in her magic purse.
She is a care-taker of ALL souls.  She has never told anyone "no, " or  "I can't help."  No, her purse is overflowing with help for everyone, just as her heart is overflowing with love and compassion for everyone.  Her magical bag is HER.  Filled to capacity with items for anyone, whatever their needs may be.
I will never have my mother's purse.  I try my best.  For as a mother it is now my job to "take care" of people.  And although I try to fill my bag with all of the magic my mother's purse held, her bag will always have things I am lacking.  Things I still need in my daily adult life.  And it is a comfort to know that she is still there with that magical purse. All I have to do is say.."I sure wish I had a ...." And these days it comes next day air.  The magical purse is still filled with my mother's own one of a kind brand of magic.  Her wisdom, her love and her guidance.  That's what fills her purse. And while I cannot produce at this moment a plate or an extension cord from my cute silver handbag, I will try to recreate the love that was always in my mother's magical purse. For the LOVE that was inside was what was really magical.

Friday, March 18, 2011


My grandma on my Dad's side sold AVON when I was little and she loved to take me on her calls and deliveries.  I never understood why she would would wait till I came over, which was really often especially in the summer, to go on her runs.  She was a hilarious country woman, tall with her gray hair died "Beach Blonde"  She had her own huge garden, which my brother and my three cousins and I worked every summer. I had shucked enough corn and shelled enough peas to feed a small country. So I loved the days we were delivering Avon and not picking and canning okra.  She had a riding lawn mower and she loved to ride that thing.  But on the big AVON days, she would dress up to the nines and pile me in the "STARSKY AND HUTCH" car she loved...thats what she called it because it did look like their car from the TV show, and away we would go, driving around the rural areas of her side of town delivering Avon.  She wanted me to dress up when we went like it was a big social occasion.  My grandma always carried her purse on her forearm with her wrist turned upwards toward the sky, a white patent leather snap clutch swinging from her arm, her high heels making her even taller.  As we pulled up the gravel drive to someones house she would brief me..."Ok, this is Ms. Crenshaw's house.  She might offer you a cold drink.  Just say yes m'am and take it.  Even if you don't want it."  I would say Ok and she'd tell me to straighten my dress and we'd approach the door.  When I stayed with her, it was always summer when I was out of school and the Southern heat was wet and sticky.  My bare lags always stuck to the car seats even if the air conditioner was on.  My skin was always moist and my grandma would take a kleenex and wipe her brow as we rang the bell.
"Well hey, MS. Crenshaw, Ha You a doin'?" My grandma would say.  "I got my my granbaby with me today. Remember Beth?"
And I'd look up at the older pretty lady in pearls and say "Hey, nice to see you."  My Grandma would head to the couch when invited, "Y'all come on in and have a seat.  Can I get y'all a cold drink?"
Ms. Crenshaw would say.  My grandma would look at me as if to say.."Ok we rehearsed this.."
We sat on the couch near the growling window unit air conditioner blowing frigid air and dripping condensation on the green sculptured carpet. Ms. Crenshaw would bring us sweet iced tea and my grandmother would begin her show.  She'd open her bad of magical potions, and perfumes and lipsticks, that held promise of transformation.  Then she'd open the little white sack she carried and as if it was the best gift in the world, she'd announce, "and here is your order" ..and she would take each jar and compact and pretty dainty bottle and make a display of all the things Ms. Crenshaw had ordered the week before.  I loved watching her do this same show over and over at house after house on a hot summer afternoon.  My grandma was a genius show girl.  she loved the spotlight she was in with her potions and bottles.  She loved visiting the women,  She loved getting all dressed up, showing up with the pretty things in the white sack.  And, she loved showing me off.  I understand now why she wanted me to go.  She talked all about me when she did her visits.  "Why Beth is a baton twirler.  She is in a competition in Florida next week, uh huh...and I'm a going too."  She'd say.  "Beth's gone be in a parade here on memorial day downtown..you ort ta come and see 'er."  She was so proud. I was always a tad embarrassed as I thought the ladies just wanted to talk cosmetics. But I realized later that they loved hearing my grandma talk and loved her visits.  They were personal.  Old friends.  We could so use those old days of Avon...being delivered on a hot summer afternoon...by a lady dressed to the nines and her grandaughter.  Maybe in the rural parts of America it's still this way...maybe.  If not, it should be.  My grandma was connecting with her friends and  neighbors in ways that have been lost.  The days of front porch sitting long gone, all of us inside on our lap tops, not even communicating with those inside our own homes.
I so miss my funny rural minded grandma, riding her lawn mower in her blue jeans and bare feet.   She could light up a room like nobody else.  She was firey, and said what she thought.  Loved hard and fought hard...and loved to show me off, as she did all of us grankids. We are shaped by those that raised us.   Thank heavens for those Avon Summers with my grandma.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I have always been told I over feel.  What does that mean?  Too sad, too happy, too compassionate.  I have been tearing all morning watching reunions of families of the Japan Quake.  Bring someone to the phone to speak to a family member found and tears were blurring my pop tarts. I am a passionate person.
To live life without passion makes no sense to me. Either you love it or you don't.  Either it's worth fighting for or it's not.  If it is, then it will need passion in the fight.  If you aren't a passionate person, you will never ever win the fight.  A life without passion is workable.  It's a slow and steady course.  And there's something to be said for that.  It's an easier life for sure.  It's predictable.  It doesn't involve much risk.  Passion is a tricky thing.  How much is too much?  It can be overwhelming.  Passion requires us to jump in with both feet, to go for it, to trust in the landing. To love without passion...well, I wouldn't even begin to understand how that works.  Passion really requires trust on this one.  It's not really trust in the other person, it's trust in ourselves that if we put it all out there, it will be ok.  We will live.  I'm not talking about the passion of damp warm bodies under cotton sheets, although that is passion too for sure, but the kind of passion that makes you really live in the moments, live FOR the moments.  Something as simple as a shooting star, or for me the passing of the International Space Station the other night over our house as I watched with my son who will begin studying astrobiology in college in the fall.  That moment was filled with passion, though it was silent.  Watching him watch the ISS in it's orbit and hearing him describe it all to me, hearing the passion in his voice,...I was about to burst.  But I was quiet, enjoying him. It was HIS moment of passion.   Passion is taking moments and feeling the impact and holding it in a memory of stardust. FEELING it to it's intensity.
I interviewed George Burns once.  I asked him "What is the secret?" He had lived a long life and he had been able to do what he loved.   He told me to to find my passion, then figure out how to be paid for it.
"Whatever makes you get outta bed in the morning, thats a passion."  Your kids, your job, maybe the money your job brings you, do everything with passion and it all becomes more satisfying. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the picture.
Passion is seeing the big picture and realizing the MOMENTS in the MINUTES you live.
It's not always easy to live with a passionate person, I know.  Everything is a little louder.  A passionate person fights harder for their point of view, but also loves openly and shares deeply. Passion is a way of life for the passionate.  Full of fire and sunshine and love and belief and dreams...and stardust.  For in the end, at the end of it all, those passionate,full-of-life souls, like all souls, return to the night sky.  Those over-feeling, laugh-easy-cry-easy souls just shine a little brighter, for all of us to see.
I can't imagine living without passion.  I know some may say it's a risky way to live, to just close your eyes and jump.  Somehow, I know with every jump, even if I crash, it was better to have jumped than to have stood on the edge of my cliff just looking at the other side for a life time, wondering what the other side would be like.  Before I know it I would be too old to jump, too filled with fear.  Fear cripples you and prevents a passionate life.  Fear magnifies risk to a distorted view of reality.  And a life of passion is filled with risk, from putting your love and feelings out there to taking a job on the other side of the country, to fighting loudly for what you truly believe in.  A very dear friend of mine has a favorite quote which I "borrow" all the time..."DEATH TWITCHES MY EAR....LIVE, HE SAYS, I AM COMING."
I love this ...and so I chose to go for it..to LIVE, to FEEL, to be UNAFRAID, to LOVE, and to be filled with PASSION everyday...for soon I will be stardust again....

Friday, March 11, 2011

             Thunderstorms On My Grandmother's Front Porch

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite places to be was on my grandmother's front porch during a thunderstorm.  The fragrance alone was intoxicating... transporting.  The huge magnolia tree in the front yard would sway and tremble in the wind and the scent of the blossoms would float inside the screened porch.  The thunder would rumble and roll over us and we would count, my brother and I, one- two- three- four, from thunder to lightening to see how far the storm was from us.  We didn't know the calculations but the counting gave us something to do while we sat together on the old and rusting glider swing. The aroma of roses, gardenia and camellias drifted past us and the rain splashed the cracked sidewalk outside the screened door. A cool dampness filled the air but I never felt the chill.  I love rain and a thunderstorm on a screened front porch, for even today, when I am caught in the rain, I am eight years old again and sitting on my grandmothers rusty glider swing, counting with my brother. A Southern Spring rain...it's intoxicating.
 What are some of your favorite memories?
Welcome to my new blog!  I am so happy you're here.  Grab some sweet iced tea and sit a while and let me know what's on your mind.