Tag Archives: Alabama

A Trip to the Montgomery Zoo

Like all mothers and daughters, Kayla and I have things the two of us like to do together.  One of those is going to the zoo.  Fortunately for us, the nearby city of Montgomery, Alabama has an excellent zoo.

Kayla did roll her eyes at me when we walked up to the zoo one day early this summer and I started by taking this picture of the entrance.

The Montgomery Zoo entrance

Entrance to the Montgomery Zoo

She thought that taking a picture of the entrance, even for my blog, was overkill. I told her it was my blog, not hers. Since our next stop was the parakeet enclosure, and I sprang for several seed sticks to feed the parakeets, she forgave me.

Because we were at the Zoo entrance almost as soon as the gates opened, the parakeets were hungry, and we had no trouble coaxing them to come eat from the sticks. At one point, we had six to seven birds each trying to reach the seed sticks, keeping both of us too busy to take photographs.

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The peacocks wander freely throughout the zoo grounds.  This proud fellow obligingly provided us with a full display of his plumage.

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Another of the first areas you walk through at the zoo is an aviary which includes several species of birds, including this scarlet ibis, and

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this duck.

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The aviary even had a turtle in it laying her eggs.


Kayla’s favorites are the monkeys; the spider monkeys’ enclosure lies just beyond the aviary.


This monkey seemed to have a lot on his mind,


while this one was just hanging around.  (Yes, I know, it’s a bad pun but someone has to say it.)


There was a family of ducks enjoying the moat around the spider monkey enclosure.  The group of ducklings above were swimming, anxiously watched by the parents (pictured below) who were watching from the rail protecting the enclosure.  The “accidental” zoo residents sometimes are as fascinating as the official zoo residents.


Here is one of the Zoo’s pygmy hippos, Lola.  Although the pygmy hippo is from Africa, Lola and her calf, Monty, born in 2016, live in a special enclosure in the South American section to give them some additional space and attention.


Roosters and chickens roam freely through the zoo grounds, just like the peacocks.  I thought this rooster’s coloring was spectacular.   Kayla rolled her eyes at me again for taking his picture.


Here is one of the Zoo’s lemurs.


One of the Zoo’s rarer animals is this maned wolf from South America.  He obviously was not ready to wake up yet.


Here is a condor.


The jaguar was sleepy, too.


Here is a wallaby mama and her joey.


The North American section includes the bald eagles, the otters (which unfortunately were not out to play on this day) and various deer, elk and buffalo.)



The zoo also has an attraction which lets you feed the giraffes, so I bought Kayla and I each treats for the giraffes.  Only two of the four giraffes were interested this morning, the baby giraffe and his mother.


In a move mothers everywhere will understand and cheer, Mama got a bit impatient with Junior’s attempt to hoard all the special treats, and came around to the side to be sure she got her share.


This is where she first realized what Junior was up to.


The zoo has a kiddie train ride that travels all the way around it; even if it is just kid stuff, the two of us always ride it.  On a really hot day, the breeze the train generates while it makes it rounds feels cool.  I let Kayla hold the camera during the ride, but this was one of only two pictures she took.  I’m not sure if she was bored at this moment. DSCN0339

This lake is part of the zoo grounds, too.  It formed in the remnants of the old quarry that make up part of the zoo lands.  It gives the zoo plenty of room for expansion.


Then last, but not least, on this particular day, we were able to get this striking stork’s photograph in the Asia section on our way out.


This is just a sampling of the animals at the Montgomery Zoo; they also have bears, tigers, lions, elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos and reptiles to mention just some of the things we didn’t get to that day.  In addition to the parakeet enclosure, the train ride and the giraffe feeding station, the zoo also has a skyride over the zoo and a petting area.

The residents of Montgomery, a city with a population of just over 220,000 people, are lucky to have such a zoo and far-sighted enough to fund it.  And I’m lucky to have a daughter who, even at the age of 15, is willing to go to the zoo with me!

Have a great day everyone!


A Visit to the Dog Pond

Good morning Everyone!

I would like to say that my long absence this year from blogging was due to something remarkable, such as participating in a medical mission trip in the Amazon basin, but alas, I have no such excuse – just a miserable bout with bronchitis that lasted for over two months and then another month or two to recover from it completely and help Mark get over his bronchitis also. Hopefully we have seen the last of it though!

Last week was Spring Break week for our school system, so we took advantage of Kayla’s days off to pay a visit to Alabama’s Gulf Shores State Park Campground for a few days.   The entire Alabama State Park system is a hidden gem that more campers throughout the United States should take advantage of, and the Gulf Shores State Park is no exception.  Among the newest attractions at the state park is something called “The Dog Pond.”  The powers that be have created a dog park on the shores of Lake Shelby, a lake which is literally across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.

My dogs had never been to a public dog park before, so I approached the visit cautiously.  Kayla, however, was quite ready to count it all joy, and fortunately had her phone in hand for video footage of the dogs.

Darwin I never really worried about; he has always gotten on well with other dogs at places where we have boarded him. Mandy, on the other hand, doesn’t always play well with others.  She wants to play, until she doesn’t, and not every dog can read her signals.

When we got to the park, there were two areas – one large area for large dogs, and a second, slightly smaller area for dogs under 30 or so pounds.  The smaller dogs can go into the large dog area at their own risk if the owners choose.

There was only one other dog in the park at that moment – a one year old Golden Retriever mix named Casey.  We let Darwin off leash immediately, and he made a bee line for Casey, whose owners were training her to retrieve an orange float from the water.

Casey wanted to play, but when it was time for her to go back to the water, we had a problem – Darwin has never been around water like that before.  After a great deal of coaxing, he finally was brave enough to try it, and of course he liked it.  (In one of those helpful 15-year-old moments, Kayla neglected to tell me until after we were headed back from the dog pond that Mark had asked us to keep the dogs out of the water.)

And what was Mandy doing during this time? At first, she was restrained on the leash – when Casey first came over to introduce herself, Mandy wasn’t exactly welcoming, and I wanted to be sure everything would be okay. After about 20 minutes, though, I was ready to let her try again – and Mandy came through with flying colors! She had absolutely no aversion to the water; my only concern with her was to keep her from going so deep that Bear or I would have to wade in after her to keep her from sinking. (When she was younger and we had Tyra as well as Mandy and Darwin, there were a couple of warm summer days we left them outside. I would always carefully fill a HUGE water bowl to the brim with ice and water to be sure they had something to keep them cool. We’d come home, and the water bowl would be completely empty. I finally figured out why – as soon as she got hot, Mandy would plop herself smack dab in the center of the water bowl, spreading water and ice everywhere on the patio, but keeping herself quite cool. We stopped trying to keep them outside for even a little while when we were gone after that.)

Both dogs had a wonderful time, but when we were joined by another three dogs, I finally decided it was time for them to go, so we carefully bundled them back into our Hyundai Veloster and drove back to the campground with the car windows open, breathing in the strange combination of sea air and “eau de wet dog parfum.”

And of course, every wet dog knows that nothing tops off the whole lake experience like a good roll in the grass!

Have a great day!


You Know You’re from Alabama if:

Hi Everyone!

Alabama, maps

Map of Alabama, from the Texas Public Library Collection of maps

An email encounter with someone from out West started me thinking about what it really means to be from Alabama, and so I compiled this list.

You know you’re from Alabama if:

handshake, introduction, greeting

From http://www.clickartonline.com, all rights reserved

1) Your first reaction upon meeting someone from any city with a population of over 1,000,000 people is to ask them if they know your sister’s neighbor’s daughter, Betty Sue, who moved to that city five years ago.

Lynyrd Skynyrd. sweet home Alabama

Lynyrd Skynyrd in Concert in 2010. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, by Andrew King.

2) The opening riffs to “Sweet Home Alabama” raise your heart beat and give you the uncontrollable urge to sing along with Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

3) You think Jimmy Buffett’s rendition of “Stars Fell On Alabama” should be the state song.

falling star

from http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. All rights reserved.

4) You are surprised to find out that neither “Sweet Home Alabama” nor “Stars Fell On Alabama'” are the state song.

5) Your definition of a “mixed marriage” means that one spouse is an Auburn fan and the other is an Alabama fan.

head scratching, wondering, thinking

From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. All rights reserved.

6) You wonder why in a state with a large NASA facility in the north of the State, state of the art automotive manufacturers sprinkled across the center of the state, a state of the art steel plant and Airbus plant in the south of the state and several major universities,  the national news media can only find the least educated and articulate of us to interview on television.

Fan, summer, air conditioning

From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. All rights reserved.

7) Air conditioning is a necessity, not a luxury.

8) You do not think running the heat at night and the air conditioner during the day in the spring and fall is odd.

9) You get your  coat and car keys, not a tool box,  when your husband tells you he is fixing to go somewhere.

10) You know perfectly well that there are three second person pronouns:

“You” – second person singular, as in “why don’t you come with me?”

“Y’all” –  second person plural, as in “Why don’t y’all come over to dinner?”

“All y’all”  – second person plural heightened, to be used when you are inviting large groups of people to do something instead of groups of five or less.

Picture by Torsten Bolten, on Wikimedia Commons.

Picture by Torsten Bolten, on Wikimedia Commons.

11) You think that basketball and baseball are just something they do to kill time until football season rolls back again.

12) You have ever considered the date of the Iron Bowl as something to be avoided when scheduling important family functions such as weddings, births and funerals.

13) You don’t have to ask what the term “Iron Bowl” refers to.

flag, usa map

From http://www.clickartonline.com by Broderbund. All rights reserved.

14) You are astounded that the man who invented air conditioning does not have a national holiday named after him.

Have a great day everyone!


Help: I Need a Break From News!

Good morning everyone!

Today I am going to practice speed blogging, which is code for the fact that I tried switching my morning routine up by doing everything I needed to do to get myself dressed and Kayla and Mark out the door and the dogs fed (except for Mandy finishing up – bless her heart, when I came out to sit down and blog, she still was eating her food) and then write my post – but without getting up earlier, which is the second part of my plan for a smoother morning.  So, I am sitting here in a dress with (almost) perfect make-up and smoothed over hair and 25 minutes to write.  I suspect the getting up earlier is going to have to happen, too. 

  • Help!  I need a break from the news.

It has been quite a news laden few days, hasn’t it?  We had the tornadoes come through Alabama (and other states) on the 27th during the day and night in what was one of the worse tornado outbreaks in history, so we spent Thursday the 28th beginning to deal with the their aftermath, which was particularly immediate here in Alabama.  Then, on Friday the 29th, we had the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who are now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which received extensive media coverage throughout the weekend, and then Sunday night May 1 Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed and the media coverage since then has dealt exclusively with that. 

The three events are very different, aren’t they?  The tornadoes’ aftermath is horrible, and we in Alabama are just beginning to pick up the pieces and will be working to fix the damage for a very long time.  Most of the day Thursday (and a good part of Friday, even while we were keeping an eye on the wedding, those of us with electricity at least) was spent simply trying to find out if the people we knew in the affected areas and their families were safe and had homes.  In Alabama, no-one is much further than one degree of separation from knowing someone who either lost a home or a  loved one in the storm. 

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a lovely and happy occasion, and, whether you like it or not, an event worthy of the coverage it received – after all, one day, Prince William will be the head of State of many countries, including the United Kingdom (where he also will be the head of the military), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and several other places.  (I admit, I had to look that up.)  I did get a little irritated at the ridiculousness of some of the style and fashion coverage, but it was an event deserving of world-wide coverage and at least it was beautiful to watch. 

Then the death of Osama Bin Laden – to me it was a solemn, somber event.  He needed to be pursued and captured for the terrible crimes on September 11, and if he died in the capture attempt, then he died.  But that death is also a reminder of all of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and the terrible price we have been forced to pay in lives, money and in the shift in the fabric of our lives as a result of that day.  My family lost a cousin of mine in Iraq a few years ago, a lovely man who simply was serving his country at the time.  My daughter will never know what it was like to take a plane to the airport and have your loved ones waiting at the gate to meet you – remember getting off the plane and running to hug your grandparents, parents or friends right there when you came off the gangplank?  Or going to pick someone up, and standing eagerly by the window as you watched the plane pull up to catch that first glimpse as that someone got off the plane?  Or taking someone to catch a plane, and being able to stand in the gate area and wave and watch until the plane taxied away and began to take off even though you knew they couldn’t see you?  She won’t even know what it is like to get on an airplane without having to take her shoes off, an operation I never can manage without a great deal of awkwardness! 

So, until next Monday at least, can we just have a quiet, peaceful period of news where the main story is about a dog that saved its master by dialing 911 (or was that a cat?  I don’t remember), or inner city children from Los Angeles enjoying a field trip to Washington D.C. courtesy of an eccentric philanthropist, or the invention of the riding vacuum cleaner, self-folding dryer or self-emptying dishwasher or Congress engaging on a lengthy debate on something completely innocuous such as whether the possibility of farming raspberries in the middle of the Arctic ocean should be explored?  The breather would sure be appreciated!

Have a great day everyone!


The Morning After

Good morning folks!

It was a wild last night at our house, and I am sure at many other houses throughout the State of Alabama.  Tornados ripped through our state with a frequency and magnitude I have not seen before.

Tornado in Tuscaloosa. Source: ypages.twitter.bjmillican

I am thankful that our house, neighborhood and town do not appear to have been very hard hit, although another part of our county as well as the county where I work suffered severe damage.  And I mourn for the loss of life that I know has happened and which will be revealed during the day.

Only some of the devastation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Source: WRBC TV.

From the Birmingham News: Devastation in Cullman, Alabama

As the sun comes up, the full extent of what happened will be revealed, and the full enormity of the damage as well.  The effects of what happened here, in this state, will begin to sink in with an immediacy that even the highest amount of compassion can’t give you unless you have been to, or know someone from, that place. 

Almost everyone in our state has driven to or conducted business in at least one of the places that have been damaged.  Because we are one of the smaller states population wise, even if our area survived intact, many of us are concerned about relatives and friends in other areas of the state. 

 So today, I will pray a prayer of gratitude for the storm passing over me and mine this time, and a prayer for healing and hope and comfort for every one of those people whom the storms hit, and the families of those who were killed.  And then see what else I can do to help from where I am….

Sunrise from our house, April 28, 2011

Please have a good day, and stay safe, wherever you are!