Happy Anniversary Day

Sleeping later than usual on Sunday, I found Chef Jim in the kitchen with a hot griddle cooking Belgian waffles.  Butter, Nutella and Bonne Maman raspberry preserves, all favorites of mine, were already on the table along with a folded piece of paper beside my plate.  When we were seated for our superb breakfast with hot coffee on the table, I opened the paper and saw it was a “Happy Anniversary” note he had created with different font and colors.

I gushed over his note and artwork, and Jim said: “I was worried that you would think it looked more like a graffiti ransom note and expect it to say, ‘Here’s Jim’s right toe.  Leave all you got by the creek bank if you ever want your Chef back.’”  I promised him that it would be worth it to have his cooking.  I noticed a P.S. on the paper: “It isn’t easy to find a card in this little town of Opp unless it’s your birthday, or you’re feeling sickly or recently died.”  Then I knew why I had the artwork/graffiti paper by my plate instead of the usual Hallmark anniversary greeting.

As if this wasn’t enough for a lady on her anniversary, Jim had promised to tag along for some antiquing in Florala, a short drive down the road south from Opp.  I was on a mission to get blue Mason canning jars for my good friend Elizabeth.  We drove on down in our red jeep with our air conditioner blasting on our hot anniversary day to:

Warehouse Market Mall, 23380 Fifth Avenue, Florala, Alabama – 334-858-8102

An old washtub planted with yellow flowers welcomed us at the doorway, and homemade birdhouses swung on a post.  A gourd birdhouse painted with blue flowers had the most curb appeal.

Birds are welcome, but leave your washing at home.

The storefront seems small, but once inside the displays just go on forever.

Bored husbands and younguns can wait here and play checkers

Suggestion for Chef Jim: Honey for my Belgian waffles or buttered biscuits. A homemade quilt would be extra comfy wrapped around the Chef in front of the fireplace this winter also.

I knew the display I wanted, so I moved quickly to the shelves of blue canning jars, some with lids and some without their lids that rusted away or were lost long ago. I found four with lids for Elizabeth, and I called to report the happy news to her right away.

Nostalgia for old canning jars, anyone?

Cobalt blue Milk of Magnesia glass bottles were shining under the shop lights on another shelf along with tiny bright blue Vicks jars.

Yesterday’s medicine bottle – Today’s designer accessory

I thought Elizabeth would like the dark blue bottles, and I was considering some for myself when Jim read my mind and said:

Are you really going to buy Milk of Magnesia bottles?

            I think the bright blue will be pretty on the secretary in the bedroom with the blue toile curtains, I pleaded.

An “empty” on the secretary in the blue bedroom

Do they have Milk of Magnesia in France?

Jim threatened, Wait till your Mother hears that you paid $5.00 for a Milk of Magnesia bottle!

Now, just a minute here.  My Mother is not hearing anything about this!  Besides she would only be puzzled as to why I paid $5.00 for an empty Milk of Magnesia bottle.  When I was young she thought a dose would give you a better complexion and cure the common cold, besides taking care of constipation.  She knew I would do anything for a better complexion. Now that I think about it, was she just saying that so I would swallow that stuff down and she could get even with me for sassing her?

Jim said nicely on our Anniversary Day, Oh, your Mother would never do that, and you always had a sweet disposition!

            Jim, watch out now, lightning could strike you and I might be seated by you in the Jeep when it strikes!

Thanks for a wonderful day.                       Happy Anniversary, Chef Jim!

Don’t forget to go to the France – Storytelling and Pictures Tab! Last week I heard from B&H Vegetables, and I wanted to give them a mention.  They have all the summer vegetables and fruits.  Check them out: BandHveggies@yahoo.com  PH: 228-990-5605  They are on Facebook too.  Thanks to everyone for their comments.  Please share this website with friends.








Alabama Watermelons Are The Best! – by Debbie Ambrous

Which one would you select?

Alabama watermelons, lazily growing to perfection in wide, open fields touched by the Southern rays of sunshine, are the sweetest and the best!  Florida watermelons just don’t compare!  I said this boastfully and with pride to one of my best girlfriends who lives in Saint Augustine, Florida.

I had chosen my watermelon from a neighbor’s vegetable and fruit stand just a few blocks away from the Alabama home we’ve recently remodeled.  Under the shade of big, leafy pecan tree branches next to a well-kept home two men were sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck with a good-sized pile of black-eyed peas in the truck bed.  As usual my eyes were diverted from my shopping list, this time from watermelon pursuit to the freshly shelled peas that would be delicious with hot cornbread and a few of his bright red tomatoes.

I introduced myself as a hometown girl who had moved away in 1967 when I had married Jim, a high school classmate.  “You must’ve been two years old when you married,” was the reply from a man wearing a shirt with Alaska front and center on his T-shirt.  I thought I would ask if he had visited north to Alaska, but I was enjoying the compliment too much, straightening my hair and blushing.  Finally remembering why I was there, I asked about the watermelons, the beautiful, long, green babies resting on the green grass next to the home’s flowerbed.  I hoped he had watermelons with juicy, yellow insides, the sweetest and the best of the melon patch.  He did!  I paid for my giant, trophy “find of the day” and said, “Bye Ya’ll, I’ll come back and buy some peas soon as I can.”

Here’s a Drive-Thru in case you’re lazy.

When the watermelon was cold, I anxiously slid one of Jim’s sharp knives down the side, cutting through the green rind to the juicy center, yellow as honey and sunflowers.  My imitation-French kitchen was wrapped in watermelon aroma from its tile floors to the copper kettle on the top shelf and to the lacy curtains hanging in the window above the sink.  I didn’t wait for fancy melon slices on a plate. I took a sliver from the knife and quickly sank my teeth into the heavenly mouthful.  Except….  The angels of delight didn’t sing.   My trophy watermelon was bland.  I ate a small bowlful, but Jim sampled it and deemed it only worthy of the compost pile.

A Green school bus selling Green products in Florala about 20 miles from Opp.  Florala is smack dab at the Florida and Alabama state line, thus the combination of Flor – Ala.

What would you do?  Would you return the melon?  I’m new to the neighborhood, and I thought it was bad form to take it back.  Temperatures have been hovering at 100 degrees.  Maybe the hothouse effect was too much.  And after all, no signs were posted near the flowerbed or stuck on the melon with a guarantee of satisfaction.  It wasn’t purchased with a credit card at a huge, impersonal supermarket, just a humble home with tender vegetables, and I’m sure they usually have dribble-down-the-chin sweet Alabama watermelons!

Or, maybe I just didn’t want those two gentlemen at the pickup truck, especially the one with the Alaskan shirt, to know that this Florida lady returned to her hometown and didn’t know how to select a watermelon!

Buy your watermelons fresh from the field on the honor system along an Alabama country road.

Do you think they read the sign or did they ignore the honor system? Are they goats or sheep? Jim thought they were goats, but I learned that they are hair sheep, a type of sheep with less hair grown primarily in the tropics. I’m in enough trouble selecting watermelons. I’ll leave the livestock alone for now.