Rosedale Garden

The Big Floods

Rosedale GardenThe recent heavy rains and flooding brought comparisons back to the Wednesday, March 14 to Friday, March 16 of the 1973 flood. The flooding this year was the second worst flooding we have had, with the 1973 flooding being the worst. During our monthly Deshler Class of 1971, the topic of the current flood and that of 1973 came up. I was attending Florence State College at the time and working part time as a secretary at Our Lady of the Shoals Catholic Church.   

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I started out that day that most of the worst part of the flooding occurred and hit the big dip on Woodmont Drive south of Spring Creek. The little dry creek was overflowing its bank and the road was closed. I turned around and thought I would go via highway 43, but when I got to the two bridges south of the 72 and 43 intersection, water was everywhere.  A car had tried to cross the water, and landed up floating down the creek. The driver had to be rescued. The last option was going over Gobblers Knob, which was a narrow dirt road at the time.  I wasn’t the only one who had that idea.  The ruts were horrible, but my little Dodge Dart finally made it over to Frankfort Road. 

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As I got to the old Hook Street bridge over Spring Creek, water was coming over the roadway. I was one of the last ones allowed to cross it before it was closed. After I finished my story, Wade Gann said that the bridge was knocked a few inches off of the pillars by the force of the water, and they had to use every large truck they could find to pull it back over.  In the back of my mind, I wandered away from our conversation, and I started counting the number of times I had crossed that bridge between 1973 and the time it was replaced with the new bridge.

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During the 1973 flood, ten inches of rain fell during the three days. I reported 9.38 inches during the recent flood to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) during this past week flood event. During the 1973 flood, Wilson Dam was spilling 550,000 cubic feet per second or 4.2 million gallons over the spillway gates. This time Wilson has been spilling 1.7 million gallons per second for most of the week, with a high of 3.5 million gallons per second, this past Sunday.

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During the 1973 flood, Courtland Hospital had to be evacuated. The area along both sides of Woodward were flooded, including the area where Gusmus Pond was located at one time. Gusmus Pond was replaced by South Gate, so Woodward Avenue was called Woodward Lake during the flood. FAME recording had built a wall around the recording studio and was running seven pumps until water came over and entered the back of the building.  Afterwards, FAME had a sign on a flatbed trailer which read “Your TAX Dollars at work, TVA experienced in flood control, this water from TVA reservation."

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It took a week for the flood waters to subside in Muscle Shoals. Southgate Mall had after-flood sales. First Colbert National Bank (now Bank Independent) had an ad “banking by boat” showing someone in a boat at the drive through at their Southgate Mall branch announcing all branches were opened back up.

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Fame Recording and the City of Muscle Shoals filed lawsuits against TVA. It was alleged that TVA had altered the natural flow of Pond Creek by building several small road bridges across the drainage ditches and didn’t make provisions for handling a large volume of water. The suit charged that the embankment and bridges “effectively obstructed the flow of water off Pond Creek.” The water then backed up over large areas of Muscle Shoals, most notably, South Gate Mall and the businesses around Buena Vista, which included Fame Studios, Biscuit Village, and several others. I transferred to Auburn the next fall, with little access to Shoals now, so I don’t know what happened with the lawsuit.

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Remarkably, no one died in the Shoals during the 1973 flood. Only one death was reported in North Alabama. 

Deshler High School

With the weather, the sandhill cranes and whooping cranes migrated back north from Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, AL.  I was able to make one trip to there and get a few photos. The American White Pelicans have been swimming around in the creeks and sloughs back away from the main channel of the Tennessee River. Spring Park in Tuscumbia was under water this time for a week. The swans spent several days sailing around on the golf course. Several of the newer subdivisions in Muscle Shoals were still flooded a week later. The small town of Leighton still was holding water when I drove through last weekend. We had a lot of road damage all over our area. I had almost ten inches of rain in my gauge in a week.  If the rain had been continuous like the 1973, the flooding would have been as bad. 

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One difference between then and now was the large number of sightseers out during this flood with cell phones in their hands.  One guy apparently was hiding under a cabbage leaf when common sense was handed out and crawled over the fence at the end of the old railroad bridge. He was photographed standing on one of the pillars with what looked like a child hanging over the water on his back. As a result, everyone was chased off of the bridge, and the gates were locked. The pillars are over 150+ years old, and I wondered if they could stand the force of the water, along with the numerous folks on it.

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In 1973, we didn’t have cell phones, and were concerned with getting to where we needed to go, and helping those in need.

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Rosedale GardenRecently, I’ve been hearing transition mentioned for passing away.  Transition is a foreign term for me as far as someone dying.  Some of the sayings I grew with were:  passed, passed away,  went to meet their maker or Lord, kicked the bucket, the good die young, Bless his/her heart, I guess it was just his/her time, bought the farm, bite the dust, belly up, at peace,  cashed in their chips, croaked, counting worms, dead as a door nail, dead as a dodo, curtains, crossed the Jordan, died with his boots on, dropped dead, give up the ghost, has gone to a better place, gone to the big place in the sky, met their maker, take a last bow, swim with concrete shoes, turn up one's toes, to join the whisperers, up and died, wearing a pine overcoat, pushing up daises, take the last train to glory, one’s hour has come, shuffle off this mortal coil, and take a last bow.  For pets, it was going over the rainbow bridge.

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One thing a lot of folks don’t consider is the photo that your relatives will use on the on-line obituary that then gets printed in the newspapers for all eternity.  I still remember one particular photo of a gentleman standing in front of a closet.  A hanger is behind him on the door.  In the photograph, it looked like the hanger is coming out of both ears.   Pick out a picture and send it to your relatives.  Those in mourning may not make good choices when stressed.

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Thursday December 6, 2018 marked the end of my place that I’ve worked at the last 43 years, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital or ECM as most folks call it in the Shoals area of NW Alabama.  As the area grew, the hospital was put together piece mill in sections starting in the late forties to fifties.  Each addition had different government regulations to the point the newest section had floors taller than those in the original building.  By the time you got to the third floor, there was about a twelve-foot difference if floor heights.  You had a long flight of stairs to climb from the old to the new side.  She was replaced by a new state of the art facility overlooking the Tennessee River in Florence, and given a new name of North Alabama Medical Center (NAMC).  I retired full time, and went part time in September of 2017.  I normally work Thursday’s on dictionary builds in our computer system for resulting the tests in the laboratory.   I took the day off to roam around taking pictures of the move starting at 6 a.m.  Twenty ambulances were pulled in from west Tennessee and east Mississippi to help Shoals ambulance with the move.  Two Anchor buses helped moved patients who were ambulatory.  The move was expected to take twelve hours.  I took pictures of the first ambulance loading at ECM and arriving at NAMC.  I went back to ECM, and documented the closing down of ECM.  I did get a little teary eyed when Kenny, one of our maintenance guys was painting over the ECM signs by the emergency room entrance, and some of the bigger signs being taken down.  At 1 p.m., all 137 patients, of which twenty-eight were critical care, were gone from ECM.  The old gal was no longer after 99 years. 

After posting some of the pictures and commenting that I’ll have trouble with turning left after crossing O’Neal instead of going right, one friend commented “thanks for sharing, I feel like we were all there for the transition.”

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Other comments were: “Mary Carton I'd be like you---I would always turn left coming up Court Street from the bridge!!! I used to cross the bridge every day to get home; but I didn't remember it!!! I miss all my good friend from the old hospital, many who have now passed on to glory!!”

“So glad to see your memories! It was a healing place, a happy place along with sadness. Many souls came and many left there. It's hallowed ground!”

“So many happy times with babies being born. Sad times when family and friends were sick and happy times when they were healed and got to go home. I had my tonsils out here as a child. My oldest brother had to be shocked back into the land of the living several times here (and is still living). My great-grandmother and my father-in-law passed away at this location. Amazing impact on the community, families, and individuals over the years.”

“Twenty-eight years went by fast.  My car automatically went to ECM.”

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“My 3 were born there.  I remember as a child in the 40’s driving by at night & seeing all the iron lungs when there were polio epidemics...and some people don’t want to immunize their children. “ 

I responded that I did get to see a iron lung in operation.  A man took a shotgun to his wife, and the hospital borrowed the iron lung from the TVA museum. 

“She was a fine "Lady" who served us well!

“Hate to see torn down, I spent approximately 34 years there.”

“My oldest and youngest was born there.”

“I spent about 21 years there!

“Sad to see it go. My brothers, me, my cousins were all born there. Life goes on. It has served its purpose well.

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“ECM I’m going to love you forever. Thank you for being there for me!!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your care when I was at deaths door and in ICU 81 days and 43 days on 2nd West back in 1983. I spent months with you then.  I will remember you forever! What an emotional day today is.”  This happened when she was eighteen.  She and three friends were in a VW beetle when hit by a young man celebrating getting his driver’s license.  She received over 120 units blood during those four months.  After she was moved to 2nd West she became very hard to obtain a blood sample from.  I was asked to go up and try to get a sample.  It took one stick.  As I was drawing the sample, she said “see prayers work, I prayed that you would get it on the first stick, and you did.”  I got teary eyed with that.  Later she became an RN, and now her daughter is one at ECM, rather NAMC.

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There were several more comments as to the closeness of the employees.  Back then employees tended to stay at one place a lot longer than they do now.  Winter storms were more fun.  A command center would be set up, and the Alabama National Guard would help get employees to the hospital.  Bill Robshaw would drive an old ambulance from the Korean War era, like the ones in the TV show MASH to pick employees up.  He would have fun terrorizing his passengers with his driving and sliding around curves.  Now days, employees are expected to get to work.

A new hospital was greatly needed, but the old name Eliza Coffee Memorial has transitioned into extinction as the first ambulance arrives at North Alabama Medical Center.   The hospital has gone to a better place.

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Introducing Lucy Lou

Rosedale Garden


Back last May I had to put down ‘Problem Child’ Patches, age fourteen, a couple of weeks after one dose of a monthly flea/tick medicine.  They were being eaten up by ticks, and nothing was working.  I found out afterwards that coconut oil works very well.  The FDA filed a warning about two of the medications a few weeks back.  Patches was one of these Border collies who was smarter than her college degree owner.

Lucy Levi Blackie

A month ago, Karen, President of NW Alabama Herding Dog Rescue through whom I rescued my Hooligans, before she retired to WV, sent me a picture of a smooth coat Border collie named Lucy.  She had shown up in someone’s yard in Memphis.  West TN Border Collie Rescue was looking for a foster for her until she could go to rescue.  I contacted them and a few days later after she was fixed, some friends and I met them on I-40 somewhere between Nashville and Memphis. 

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On the way home, we stopped at Hagy’s Catfish Hotel in Savannah for lunch.  She sat in the passenger seat watching the door of the restaurant until we came out.  As we were walking along the Tennessee River before we left for home, a gentleman from Alcorn, MS came out of the restaurant and saw Lucy.  As he was walking toward us, she stared at him with hair standing up on her neck and back.   She was okay once I started talking to him.  He said his neighbor had just gone to Kentucky to get a Border collie. 

Once we got home, the greeting from Blackie and Levi went better than I expected. Lucy was the one growling at them.  The next morning, we started training with the underground fence and back garage doggie door.  The doggie door was learned in less than fifteen minutes.   She did very well with the wireless fence.  Right now, they are locked in the front and back yard.  Soon, the flags will come up and they’ll have three acres to roam on again.  

With a fifteen and fourteen-year-old, I’ve forgotten what a young Border collie can be like.  I had to child proof everything back then.  I have three ‘Ruby slippers’ oakleaf hydrangea that I’ve been watering in the containers since spring.  Finally, we had enough rain about 2 months ago, so I could dig a hole to plant them in front of the house.  She wasn’t bothering my azalea’s, so I didn’t think about the hydrangeas.  She must have noticed the orange tags on them and had them for dessert after eating a 100-foot hose.  Later she somehow pulled a brand-new pair of goat skin garden gloves still in the package off of the third shelf and ate the ends of the fingers and thumbs off.    She keeps one of my old garden shoes in her bed in the back garage. She ate the other one.  I didn’t realize she was watching me while I was measuring rain in my rain gauge I use for reporting to CoCoRaHS.   It had little bit of ice in it, so put it on the patio table by the house, and laid the measuring tube in a pan on the table.  That little voice said to put it in the back pan on the table.  Later I went back to finish measuring, and the measuring tube was gone.  I found it in bits and pieces by the front door. It had gotten very difficult to read.

My fifteen-year-old Blackie is just not going to tolerate her. Lucy hangs out with my fourteen-year-old Levi.  He had gotten a little on the chunky side since Blackie is no longer able to chase him.  Lucy has slimmed him back down to a good weight.  He’s getting a regular amount of food now.

Hooligans Letter to Santa

Dear Santa, we’ve been very good doggies this year.  Mom took Patches off a while back, and every time she comes home, Patches is not in her truck.  We miss her; well Levi does.  Recently Mom came home with this new juvenile she calls Lucy.  She is just a nuisance for us old folks.  She keeps chasing after Levi, and he is just worn out. He was getting a little on the chunky side but now he has slimmed down, and is very tired.  After all he is an old boy of fourteen.  He’s been finding things for this young whippersnapper to chew up so she’ll get into trouble. You can take her back to where Mom found her please. 


My Christmas Wish for you:

Wishing you the Warmth of Home, the love of Family and Friends. May you have Enough. 

May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


On the home front, I’ve been very busy with Veterans Day and Christmas events. I was able to make the Veterans Day Parade in Russellville, AL, The Tuscumbia one was rained out. 

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The Dickens Christmas Y’all went inside due to lots of rain.  I made two trips to the Roxy in Russellville to take pictures at their wonderful production of Legends of Toyland, and back for the KGB show with guest Leroy Troy from Hee Haw the Marty Stuart show. 

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Legend Toyland

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Christmas in the Country at the Lagrange College Site is a yearly event, along with Belle Mont’s Plantation Christmas.  The mansion is decorated in the style of the mid 1800’s. 

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The music and dance are of the same period. The Trees of Christmas at the Tennessee Museum of Art in Tuscumbia, featured twelve decorated trees by various groups. 

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Several of the Christmas parades were rescheduled or cancelled due to the rain.  I made it to Tuscumbia’s Christmas parade.  The Christmas concert at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame featured Bobby Tomberlin, Aaron Wilburn, and Mark Narmore.  Jessie Lynn joined them for a couple of songs.  Wilburn had the crowd in stitches will his song ‘Wal-Mart on a Saturday night, after Midnight’.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and if you see Santa, give him a peck on the cheek.

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Fall 2018 in NW Alabama

Rosedale GardenFall has arrived in the south. So far, it's not sweater weather. Temperatures are still in the nineties.

Hummingbirds see to be staying around a lot longer than previous years. Maybe it's the effect of all the tropical storms, or the warm weather.

The first weekend in October and I still have three feeders up, and seeing several birds. A large percentage of corn has been harvested, along with early planted soybeans.

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Beans planted later are starting to show a yellow fall color. Farmers have defoliated cotton and started picking.

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Most have switched to the pickers, which makes the large round bales wrapped in plastic that are easier to store in at the gin or barns until it can be cleaned and baled. It is able to pick more cotton than the old-style pickers.

72612 soybean combine

They have less waste than the pods that were used previously. The pods were made on the ground, so the bottom layer would be lost if it stayed out in the field, especially with a lot of rain.

Temperatures have been in the nineties, above normal, through the first part of October. We had a warm fall and winter in 2010, and had a big snow storm the next January.

I lost a lot of dogwoods and fruit trees that year. This week temperatures have been below normal with temperatures in the seventies.

I'm getting over food poisoning from a local restaurant in which over 170 became ill from a norovirus. It took a while for my stomach to get back to normal.

You'd think if you were basically on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks, one would lose weight. But no.

Now it's the attack of the giant ragweed. I was checking fencing, and had to go through it and goldenrod down along the dry creek.

That night, I had a sore throat, plus stuffy ears. The coughing was so bad, even the 'Recipe' couldn't help.

Thanks to my Facebook friends, they placed my lost copy of the 1962 cough syrup prescription from a Pediatrician. I had legal moonshine, lemon juice, local honey and peppermint for making it.

It helped for a little while, but every time I went outside around the ragweed, I would have a relapse. Being a Microbiologist, I don't like to take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

After a week, I could see I was heading toward a case of pneumonia. A trip to the doctor, and a change in antihistamine/decongestant and a course of antibiotics greatly helped.

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With everything going on, I still was able to take a media ride a Pathfinder B17 bomber the "Madras Maiden" operated by the Liberty Foundation. It is only one of twelve B17's that still fly today.

The media were given a preview of the plane the week before she was available for public tours designed as a fundraiser for the 1.5 million dollars needed to keep the "Madras Maiden" in the air and out of a museum. We were taken on a low-level trip around the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama.

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The flight made me appreciate what our airmen went through while flying the aircraft. I could imagine how cold it was flying at its highest altitude with all the open-air turrets, and gun bays.

When flying in rain, the inside of the plane would get wet. I could imagine what they went through trying to stay in the air without being shot down.

The B17's held twelve 500-pound bombs in a bay right behind the pilot's compartment. In order to go from the back part of the plane to the front, you walked through the middle of the bombs, six on each side, on a narrow I beam.

70545 Madras Maiden

If one of the bombs were hit during battle and it exploded, along with the other eleven, nothing would be left. There was a total of 12,732 B-17's that were produced between 1935 and May 1945.

Of these 4,735 were lost in combat. In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England.

In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.

70539 Madras Maiden

After we got back on the ground, both elbows had boo-boos from trying to get through the bomb bay during the flight. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

My hope is that the public will continue to support the Liberty Foundation's mission and keep this aircraft flying. The younger generation needs to know what their grandparents went through to defend their freedom.

70657 Madras Maiden

I entered a press lottery for press box or sideline passes for Auburn's home games. I drew the Southern Miss and the Tennessee games.

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I was able to go to the Southern Miss game, but had the allergy crud for the Tennessee game. The game with Southern Mississippi started at three p.m.

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A lightning delay for an hour and half with four minutes left in the second quarter, meant the game was over after nine p.m. I got home to Tuscumbia around two a.m.

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Auburn's Bald eagle, Spirit, flew from one of the stadium towers to start the game, and circled around the inside of the stadium before landing in the center of the field. Since it was homecoming, fellow alumni Governor Kay Ivey was there, and I was able to meet her.

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Auburn's mascot, Aubie noticed I was taking his picture and put on a show for me.

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Cooler weather started this week. With the cooler weather, some of the water birds are back at the river.

I saw my last hummingbird on October 6, but one of my feeders in a spot that I can't see from the house, looks like it is being used. I'll leave my feeders up until the first part of November.

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Monarchs and other butterflies and dragonflies have disappeared. I need to bring plants into the garage that I want to keep over winter soon.

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Hopefully there won't be a snake trying to hibernate in one of them this year. The Hooligans aren't happy when they see one in a hanging basket.

Photos property of Mary Carton.

Friday the 13th

Rosedale GardenLast month, I had one of those historic milestone birthdays. It was also on Friday the 13th. I'm not a superstitious person, but somehow the two just didn't seem to be a good combination. I had to watch every step I took that day. Look down not up.

Somehow though, I don't feel any different. I'm already retired sort of. I'm getting Social Security, and only working one day a week at the Laboratory at Eliza Coffee Memorial. I'm building the dictionaries in our computer system for resulting the tests we do, plus the reference laboratory we use.

I'm also working a couple of days at the Colbert County Reporter. So technically I am retired sort of as of September 5, of 2017, so turning 65 shouldn't be a big trauma in my life.

Since I had back surgery at twenty-one and a knee replacement at age forty-seven, I already have a lot of aches, pains, pops, and creaks. My neurosurgeon told me one time that I had the chart of an old woman.

Ages that really bothered me for some reason, was turning twenty-five, thirty-two, forty-two, fifty-five and sixty-two. The big five-o, didn't bother me. The big six-o, didn't bother me.

Turning sixty-two was the roughest. I was trying to figure out why. Maybe it had something to do with being eligible for Social Security.

A former co-worker of mine came in complaining that all of a sudden, her Bible class stopped calling her "Nelda," and started calling her "Miss Nelda," not "Mrs. Nelda." I teased her about it for a little bit, that they were just being respectful. She was a year older than myself.

Then it happened to me. All of a sudden, I was no longer "Mary," it was "Miss Mary"! Is there a certain age that a woman gets that Miss is added in front of their name? It doesn't happen to the guys, they get to keep their first name intact. Why?

Thinking back, it seemed to have started around age fifty-five for both of us. Maybe that's why fifty-five bothered me. It was that Miss in front of my name. Just call me plain "Mary."

One benefit of turning sixty-five is getting that senior discount. About sixteen years ago, I got together with a group of my high school classmates at a fast food restaurant for supper. I'm the last one in line and as I put my tray down on the table Pam grabs my ticket and exclaims you didn't get it either!

She was the only one in our group who was given the senior discount. The youngsters at these places don't ask, if you look old, you get the discount. Maybe that's another reason turning sixty-two bothered me.

Levi and Blackie have stopped looking for Patches every time I come home. They knew I took her off, and she was supposed to get out of the truck when I got home.

It was several weeks before they decided she was no longer coming back. I still look for her laying in the middle of the road waiting for me to let her back in the yard.

I'm getting over a case of food poisoning from a local restaurant. I had a salad, and apparently, they didn't keep the lettuce at the correct temperature, nor cleaned it properly as almost 70 folks were sick with a norovirus.

It wasn't as bad as the bacterial food poisoning two bucket disease I had in college. I don't remember the ambulance ride to the infirmary, nor the first two days I was in there. First, I was afraid I was going to die, and as it progressed, I was asking, "Please Lord, put me out of my misery."

Hummingbirds are really hitting the feeders, since lack of rain has caused a lack of flowers. Migration apparently has also started.



It's been like a kamikaze raid around the six feeders I have up. I'm making a few more ant moats out of detergent caps, and will be putting up a few more feeders as soon as the caulk dries. I've been seeing a lot of Gulf fritillary butterflies on my zinnias, and a few monarchs.

monarch butterfly

butterfly purple flower

orange butterfly

Corn has tasseled out and started t dry, soybeans are knee high in wheat stubble, and cotton is blooming, as fall gets near. My area has seen less than an inch since the monsoon we had during the Helen Keller Festival in June.

The W.C. Handy Music Festival had very nice and pleasant weather for its ten-day run. Usually the temperatures are close to triple digits.

historic sign

This year, the headliner concert was a reunion of Fame Recording Studios artists Candi Staton, Willie Hightower, Travis Wammack and Mickey Buckins, and others, with guest Christine Ohlman, the "Beehive Queen."

candi staton

willie hightower

travis wammack


christine ohlman

I caught the tail end of the Spring Valley Fire Department rodeo, their main fundraiser. The last day was at the church of legendary Percy Sledge for a special tribute by his son Howell and children.

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bull riding

The best rendition of "How Great Thou Art" I've ever heard was song by Howell Sledge and Christine Ohlman. I didn't get to record it at last years tribute, but got one this year.

Photos and video property of Mary Carton.

RIP Hooligan Patches

Rosedale GardenThe Hooligans have the run of the whole three acres I own. I installed an underground wireless fence around the whole acreage. The collars start vibrating then feet from the wire, and shock if they get with five feet of it.

My "Problem Child" Patches had it figured out just how close she could get out without being shocked. She was always testing it, so the battery wouldn't last the normal three months. She was the master of escape. She wouldn't tell me when the battery was dead. She would get out after I left for work and would come back home before I did.

One time she got out and head up the hill, Karen caught her and stuck her in her back yard with a bunch of new rescues. She called me at work, I said I would leave her and pick her up after work. When I pulled up to her carport, there is Patches standing up plastered to the storm door going into the back yard, with a look of save me in her eyes. She must have thought she was back in rescue, as I didn't have problems with her for a while.

She knew the collar kept her in, so when changing the batteries, I had to tie her up. She wouldn't let me put it back on the first time I changed the battery. When the battery was good, she figured out that she could bounce forward and back several times and overwhelm the collar just long enough to get out. When she wanted in she would stand at the end of the driveway barking for me to let her in. If she got into something that she knew she wasn't supposed to get into while I was gone, she managed to tell on herself when I got home.




Last May she got into a neighbor burn pile and was sick the next day. We made a trip to the vet, and she got better for a week or so. Then she slowly started wasting away. We tried different medications for her heart, but I had to make a decision to let Patches go over the "rainbow bridge" on May 31. She was fourteen years old.

Blackie and Levi keep looking for her when I get home. This is the first time that I had more than one dog and didn't realize that they mourn the loss of their buddies. They know I took her off. She wanted a lot of attention from me the last few weeks we had her. Now I understand why. I still look for her at the end of the driveway wanting back in and giving me the "look." Her ashes will be buried near my last rescue, Casey, an Austrian Shepard. I had Casey for sixteen years.



Farmers have finished up combining wheat and have planted soybeans over it no till. Going through my pictures from last year, it looks like the wheat harvest was a couple of weeks earlier this year. Corn is over head high, tasseled out and looks like it will be a good crop again this year. We had snow in February and went from winter to August temperatures. We had a lot of rain, which delayed corn planting in some areas to hot dry weather.


Bluebirds have fledged once and are building new nests on top of the old one.

We were really needing rain, and it finally hit before the 40th Helen Keller Festival. The festival is held each year during the week of Helen Keller's birthday. I went home every night from Spring Park muddy from the knees down from walking around the outdoor stage.

red marlowe

This year, it was all Muscle Shoals based music. Red Marlowe, who finished in the top four of The Voice, played Friday night. Saturday night some of the Muscle Shoals' legends played in the headliner. Sunday, the local churches take over sponsoring concerts. This year Jamie Grace was the headliner. The Sunday attendance has been very good each year.

miracle worker

William Gibson's play, The Miracle Worker, is performed during the month of June until mid-July each year, right on the grounds of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia. Local actors do a great job in it each year. Patty Duke, who played in the movie version, was so influenced that she made several trips to Tuscumbia over the years.

The W.C. Handy Music Festival starts at the end of July, where the Shoals celebrate the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy. Ten days of music. I keep several chairs in my truck. He was born in Florence, on the other side of the Tennessee River.

darryl worley

The Fourth of July was spent in Russellville, Ala., at their celebration at Sloss Lake. Darryl Worley was the headliner. A storm hit just before he was to play, it knocked out power to the park and damaged some of his band's instruments. After the storm passed, they did the fireworks first.

Darryl Worley had the city bring in a flatbed trailer and did an acoustical concert with his drummer and guitar player in the dark until midnight. The only lights on were the lights around the ball field behind them. He could have collected his check and gone home. His actions speak volumes about his character.

darryl worley

Photos property of Mary Carton.

Electric Fences

Rosedale GardenThe first electric fences were invented in 1936-1937 by New Zealand inventor Bill Gallagher. Apparently, he was irritated at his horse using his car as a scratching post. I remember seeing some of the porcelain insulators that Dad used on our dairy. The insulator had a hole in the middle for nailing it to a post. One miss whack and the insulators were history.

In 1962, another New Zealand inventor, Doug Phillips, invented the non-shortable electric fence which could be used up to 20 miles. When these improved electric fences that used a plastic insulator first came out, several farmers in our area embraced them.

My Dad and one of his friend's J.B. Enlow were great fans of the new and improved version. Dad also used pieces of wire to repair or hold equipment together instead of duct tape.

One day Mr. Enlow was visiting our farm. He had his rubber boots on and was leaned up against a post by the bull lot. He and my Dad were busy spinning their usual yarns as they normally did when they got together. The kids surrounded them taking it all in.

One of the dogs decided to check out the smells on Mr. Enlow's britches leg. ZAP! Mr. Enlow jumped and ran one way thinking the dog had gotten hold of his leg, and the dog took off the other way thinking Mr. Enlow had gotten hold of him. The rest of us jumped out of our skins. The electric fence was running along the top of the posts to keep the bulls from jumping out, and J.B. had his hand on the wire. He wasn't grounded until the dog decided to take a sniff.

Mr. Enlow owned property on Frankfort Road next to the property Dad was renting from Johnny Gattman. He used the electric fence around his pastures to control areas grazed by his cows. Part of each property extended up in the mountains. This was during the time the county was dry, and the mountain area wasn't good for cattle grazing. It was full of cactus, rattlesnakes and moonshiners. The moonshiners were the reason one stayed off of the mountain; they didn't take kindly to anyone wandering near their still.

Remember the moonshiner, Hollister, shooting at Andy and Barney? One morning Mr. Enlow's cows were out. He checked on his electric fence and found out a two-legged animal had gotten into it. One of the moonshiners was hauling two of the large water cooler glass jugs full of shine out of the mountains back to town in the middle of the night.

Apparently, the moonshiner didn't see the electric fence and ran into it. The zap made him drop both jugs and all that shine flowed into the ground. He got so mad that he tore down the fence from one end of the field to the other.

The cows on the other hand were happy for a few days.

electric fences

Locally, farmers are still trying to get corn planted. We are expecting three inches of rain this weekend. A few fields dried out just enough to get the planters in. Normally corn would be up by now. Probably only about 10 percent is in the ground. Winter wheat, however, has taken off with the warm spell.


Dogwoods are in bloom, but a hard freeze bit the blooms, so very few are pretty this year. Iris and peonies are just starting to bloom. The feed store in town received a nice shipment of GMO free heirlooms. I picked up my usual Cherokee Purple, and also a couple I haven't tried before, Old German, and Orange Oxheart.

Since we still had cold weather possible, they went into quart containers. We had freezing weather last weekend, so they were moved into the garden. Yesterday they went back out into the driveway. The first of the week, another cold spell is predicted, so they'll make one more trip into the garage. In about a week, they will go out into the flower beds along with squash and peppers, as it's been too wet to plow the garden up.




Bluebirds are building nests. I checked some of my fourteen boxes, and three already have eggs. In one box, the eggs are white instead of the normal blue.


Hummingbirds have returned. I saw my first one March 26. I have three feeders up, and plan to put up a couple of more next week.




The Hooligans have been fairly inactive. Blackie and Patches are limping in the front shoulder, and Levi is limping on his back leg. A couple of stray dogs invaded their turf. Just as Levi's leg starts to get better, he gets excited about eating supper and runs to the back garage and re-injures himself.

Photos property of Mary Carton.

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