Books In Return

It’s been a week for books! The first book arrived in the mail, a thank you for blurbing a friend’s book. Kathie Farnell asked me to say some kind words for the back cover of her book, Tie dyed: Avoiding Aquarius. Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed her first book, Duck and Cover: A Nuclear Family, the sequel, I can honestly say is better than the original.

“Farnell’s latest memoir, Tie Dyed: Avoiding Aquarius is equal parts dramatic and hair-on-fire hilarious. A follow-up to Duck and Cover, Tie Dyed traces Farnell’s high school and college trips in Alabama through the counter-culture sixties and early seventies where she’s mostly a fish out of water, swimming against the “tied.” Farnell’s true life tales are slap full of smart, sass, and sarcasm. She’s got gumption, so get reading.” Alan Samry, Author of Stump the Librarian

A day later, my order of Clay City Tile books arrived. Just in time to restock Page and Palette, our local bookstore. Finally up to date on their accounts, they are now, happily, paying us when we drop books off, instead of after they’ve sold through the consigned copies.

I met with Jason Fisher the following day. He’s a kind soul, full of care and compassion, and a newly minted author. His new book, To Where You Are was published last month. I interviewed him for Fairhope Living magazine at Provision in downtown Fairhope. The young woman at the counter overheard Jason talking about his daughter, who has autism. As someone with autism, the Provision hostess offered to answer any questions we had, which was very kind and unexpected.

The next day, in a serendipitous connection, I unboxed a book at the Austin Meadows Library, located on the Bay Minette campus of Coastal Alabama Community College. I’m filling in on that campus due to several retirements, including my former boss. Long story short, some new books arrived already cataloged courtesy of Kim in Brewton and were ready to be shelved. The one that struck me, after having met Jason and the young woman at Provision was The Boy Who Felt Too Much: How a Renowned Neuroscientist and His Son Changed Our View of Autism Forever, by Lorenz Wagner. After I read that people with autism “don’t feel too little; they feel too much,” I was intrigued.

I just finished reading All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler. The American woman is Mildred Fish Harnack. You should read this book! Although it is history, it is written in the present tense. Let that settle in…History, not written in the past tense. Many publishers declined it for this reason, but you’ll see that Donner is closely connected to Mildred and I am glad she stuck to her principles and found an agreeable publisher. Donner’s book of narrative nonfiction is compellingly crafted and very relevant.

I have a book deal! My co-author and I will be working on a Fairhope history book this year and it will published, hopefully, in the fall of 2023. It’s a long way off! I’ll keep you posted here at Stump the Librarian. In the meantime, keep reading Fairhope Living.

Photograph Courtesy of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation

Best Reads and Leg Stories from 2021

These are my favorites from 2021! Buy a copy or check them out at your local public library.

Saving Bay Haven: A Charming Town with a Dirty Secret, Karyn Tunks Wayfaring Stranger, James Lee Burke Jubilee Sunset Romance, Deborah McDonald
Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke

Leg Stories
We went to visit Greg and Pam, my former reference desk mate, in Tennessee. We checked out their new home overlooking Norris Lake and took in the sights. The weather wasn’t all that great, but we spent a little time outside and inside. The Museum of Appalachia is well worth your time and money.
John Rice Irwin started the museum. Most of the text is told in the first person by JRI himself, or as told to him by the original owner of the item. Mr. Irwin didn’t just collect stuff, he collected stories, and once people knew what he was doing they donated things to him, like coffins, entire buildings, peg legs, traveling cart and soooo much more. It’s nicknamed “A Living Mountain Village” for good reason.

Henry Clay Moss with a hatful of potatoes. Peg leg nerd alert: He wears suspenders to hold up his pants and a belt around his waist to keep his peg leg on.
Uncle Henry Moss’s Peg Leg with the suspension strap still attached. Museum of Appalachia.
JAKE JACKSON’S TRAVELING CART-When J.J. (Jake) Jackson became crippled, he made this hand powered, three-wheel cart to get to and from the grocery store he operated in Jonesborough-Tennessee’s oldest town.(The name of the store was “Jackson’s General Merchadise.” My best information indicates that Jackson operated his store from about 1930 into the late 1960s. (David Byrd, from whom I purchased this interesting contrivance, had heard thatjackson became paralyzed with “jackleg”, a condition said to have been brought on by drinking “bad” whiskey-not an uncommon occurence during prohibition, I understand.) JRI

If you ever find yourself northwest of Knoxville, Tennessee or near the Cumberland Gap, the building and grounds (including the Popcorn Sutton Whiskey Still) of John Rice Irvine’s Museum of Appalachia is a must see.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year. Write On!

Still Curious?

Sirmon Farms, Daphne, Alabama

Although, I have not lost my curiosity, *@$!&%’ COVID scared it some. So, what’s with the symbols instead of the swear? It’s got a name. It’s called a grawlix. The word was coined by Mort Walker, creator of the Beatle Bailey cartoon. Every darn spell checker turns it red, so I’m happy to have something the computers don’t have a clue about how to autocorrect.

On the subject of humans and computers, I’ve heard told we don’t always gee haw. Yeah, I learned this southernism from Art, our local planner, and yes, it means get along. Right is Gee, and Haw is left, and there’s some mule from 135 years ago who didn’t hear nothing, and so farmers started saying, “Me and this mule just can’t gee haw.”

As for the writing, the Birmingham Arts Journal published my essay, “The Flo of Old Fairhope” in August. If you just read it, and you live locally, you’ll realize that I have to rewrite the ending. Maybe to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Libraries: Culture, History and Society just published my essay, “In a Foot of COVID-19 Clay Are the Feats of Library Writing Communities.”

I’ve been happily cranking out copy for Fairhope Living magazine. The October issue has the historic hotels of Fairhope’s past. It was a cool article to write, similar format to the street history. Also enjoyed getting to know Jenny Resmondo of South Alabama Physiotherapy. November has the Gaston and Mershon family history and a home on Coleman Avenue. December has a story of how a pole barn becomes a retirement home and the Knoll Park Christmas tradition.

Hope everyone’s alright out there. Stay curious and keep creating. At this blogging rate, the best of 2021 list will be next. Happy Halloween.

What’s in the Box?

I have been moving some prosthetic leg parts around my garage for over a decade. I have donated many legs to Limbs for Life, but I found myself not willing to let go of some of them. Until now! A few weeks ago, I reached out to Bruce Larsen, a Fairhope sculptor and Hollywood special effects guy. My friend Wayne Miller told me Bruce presented at a recent Fairhope Single Tax Corporation meeting about a work of art he would create if commissioned to do so. Bruce had the idea to source local objects for the new piece. From there, it was an easy decision to give my leg parts to Bruce. When he came by to pick it up, he snapped this picture of me. The box includes sockets, liners, feet, carbon fiber, silicone liners, resin epoxy, titanium hardware. I even threw in some electronics, a vacuum system called V-Hold made by Hanger, which pulled air out of the socket to keep my stump securely in the socket. I told Bruce a few stories about the legs and a particular foot made by College Park. I was impressed when he said he catalogs all the items he finds or is given. He didn’t say where, how, or if the parts would be used, and honestly I didn’t expect him to. We agreed to stay in touch, and one day, I’ll hear from him and learn where my parts went. I’m always amazed at where life takes me and my prosthetic legs. Now I’m looking forward to finding out where the parts take the artist.

Seahorse by Bruce Larsen and John Rezner. Funded by Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation

Want to go for a Walk?

I launched my new venture Fairhope by Foot in May. Look for this postcard around town soon.

Have you Seen it?

My photo of Cecil Christenberry’s old Chevy is in the latest issue of Fairhope Living. Lots of cool treats in our July edition!

Are you Magnet-ic?

Check out the latest Clay City Tile post! The latest blog, thanks to Parker Gray and his amazing family collection, is a treasure trove of historic documents and images of Fairhope’s Magnet Theater (burned, 2010). The post has some fantastic images of the 1924 theater, including the building’s blueprints, snapshots taken during construction, and more!

What’s Going On?

Photo by Kris

On the heels of the April walking tours, I’ve finally started Fairhope by Foot! Beginning in May, I will be leading walking tours for small groups of tourists and locals who are interested in learning more about Fairhope’s unique past. I’m just beginning, but my word of mouth marketing plan is working. I booked my first tour this week! Some bank executives conferencing here wanted a fun afternoon outing.

Photo by Kris

The May issue is due any day now. Click or tap the logo above. Read the magazine in your browser or download the magazine to your device.

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So stoked about leading another creative writing workshop at the Eastern Shore Art Center on Saturday, May 15, from 10 am to 2 pm. All the details are here. Also, be on the lookout for my first Creative Writing Camp for Kids at the Eastern Shore Art Center this summer.

Is There a Best of 2020? What’s Up for 2021? Remember Steve?

Now that we are well into the new year, I’m posting my best of 2020. It’s a short list. The best book of 2020 is a fellow Pensters Writing Group member.  

Little Gears of Time: Martinello, Susan, Walker, Sue Brannan, Krchak,  Jenni: 9780942544060: Amazon.com: Books

Looking for a sweeping generational women’s epic written in verse by a woman? Little Gears of Time, by Susan Martinello is a literary tour de force, an epic of the American story from a woman’s perspective. Based on Martinello’s family, it is Homerian in its breadth and language and is an odyssey of mothers and daughters spanning many generations and taking place between continents and across oceans.

With family trees, maps, and illustrations as our guides, Martinello tightly winds mothers and daughters using personification, letters, history and memoir with a watch, an artifact that comes to represent oppression, imagination and identity.

In Martinello’s exquisite and affective poems we embrace, are emboldened and empathize with these women. As with other great epic’s the world is a stage and as the characters and their experiences play out Martinello’s writing leaves readers yearning for more.  

And of course in a special category is Stump’s Favorite Amputee book.

The Elephant's New Shoe: Neme, Laurel, Wildlife Alliance, Landy, Ariel,  Landy, Ariel: 9781338266870: Amazon.com: Books

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story, by Laurel Neme, Illustrated by Ariel Landy, Foreword by Nick Marx

While these books are fantastic I was proud to publish three books of my own last year. Available to read for free are The Cape Cod House and Architectural Studies: Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and Bayside Academy. I’m very pleased with the success of Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. It’s a local history book that I enjoyed writing and continue to research. I have another order of Clay City books arriving later this month. I post news and information here

 

2021

You probably didn’t even notice, but I’ve deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. This is not political. It’ personal. I don’t like calling it a New Year’s resolution, but after deactivating several times last year and not missing it or the anxiety that goes along with it, I’ve deleted the accounts. Hopefully, it will work as well as last year’s food choices. Except for a few weak moments during the pandemic and after the hurricanes, we have been able to stick with and really embrace our new menus. As Sue says, “If it walks on land we don’t eat it.” Even though I’m no longer on social media I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email, Want to talk? I’m not hard to find online or in person. Feel free to share my writing with your followers. Instead of posting on social media, I typed a thank you note to the mayor. On paper. Using my Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I put it in an envelope, slapped a stamp on it and put it in the mail. I will be doing more of it in 2021.  

Fairhope Living Magazine January 2021 Cover

Career-wise, I’m still working at Coastal Alabama Community College and writing for the monthly community magazine, Fairhope Living. I’m thankful to serve students face-to-face and glad to have the opportunity to write about my home town.

Remembering Steve

Today is the second anniversary of my brother Steve’s death. It’s rare that a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Here’s to Steve. Nostrovia! To your Health in 2021.   

Early 1990s, West Falmouth, MA.
Also early 90s. Mom and Dad’s place on Edgewater Dr. W. in East Falmouth.
McSharry’s Irish Pub, mid 2010s. I had a Guinness. Steve, Take the Causeway, Fairhope IPA.

What’s Happening in November?

The debut issue of Fairhope Living will be arriving in your mailbox soon! The free print version, with three articles written by yours truly, is being mailed to more than 10,000 Fairhope residences. 

Fairhope Living Magazine November 2020 Cover

In the meantime, visit the website for more information or click on the cover to view the interactive digital version of the magazine. The digital version includes cool embedded links to websites, videos, and even a virtual home tour, a project done by Coastal Alabama Community College animation students. 

This is Alodia Arnold’s Fairhope Living. This Organic-Schooled Fairhoper and mom dreamed, created, sacrificed, and conquered the 2020 challenges to make her dream come true. I am so proud and thankful for Alodia and our team including Laura Miller, Stephen Savage, Susan Beeco, and Chris Riley. I’m excited, honored and humbled to be a part of Fairhope Living. This is Fairhope’s magazine, and we welcome new sponsors (advertisers) and contributors (writers/photographers/creatives). We’d love to read, see, or hear your first impressions on the print or digital editions, so please comment below or find us on Facebook or Instagram

Pensters Writing Group Zoom-November 14 

I’m also excited about talking to the Pensters Writing Group. The online meeting via Zoom is from 10:00-noon. As the Vice President, I’m honored to be the featured speaker this month. After COVID cancelled me in May, I’m looking forward to talking about the reader, writer, and librarian connection. Our meetings are open to the public. If you want to join us, leave an email below in the comments and I will send you the meeting link. 

Page and Palette Holiday Open House-November 22, 2020 

I’ll be hanging out with my friend, author, and fellow Fairhoper Leslie Anne Tarabella at Page and Palette’s Holiday Open House. I will be there from 3-5 pm, selling my 2020 book on a local building block called Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. Copies of Stump the Librarian will be for sale too. Leslie Anne will be there all afternoon selling copies of her latest book Exploding Hushpuppies, the second collection of her newspaper columns. In the meantime, watch a video about Clay City Tile by local filmmaker Michael Marr.   

Thanksgiving 

The last week is for giving thanks. In this weird and wacky year being thankful has never been so important. Thank you for being you, and as always, thank you for reading.