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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

Here I am with Patty in Birmingham, Alabama. We left for vacation on Wednesday morning and had a really nice drive down. Alabama is probably my most favorite place to be and I really do miss living in Tuscaloosa, where I went to graduate school at the University of Alabama School of Social Work, even after all these years. I haven't been to Alabama in about 5 years, I think.

The occasion of this trip is mixing business with pleasure. I am here with Patty to attend a workshop given by Thomas Moore, who writes of all things spiritual and is giving a workshop on finding spirituality in a secular world. It is an occasion to continue my education for maintaining my licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as visiting well loved places and enjoying things that I miss.

We are in Birmingham until Saturday and then move on to Tuscaloosa. Today we dined at a restaurant in downtown Birmingham called the MIX and enjoyed that. Then we went to the Birmingham Museum of Art where we were treated to some very fine collections of ancient Chinese, Japanese and Korean art from the times of antiquity. They also have a wonderful collection of Wedgewood china and porcelain.

After that, we returned to the room to rest a bit and then went on to Bessemer for dinner at the Bright Star. Anyone who is travelling through the area and is looking for a fine dining experience with down home hospitality should make it a point to visit the Bright Star for dinner.

Their specialty is southern cuisine with a Greek spin to it. We enjoyed fried green tomatoes with shrimp and salsa and a hollandaise sauce, shrimp and crab gumbo for appetizers and I had red snapper prepared in a greek style, a greek salad, shrimp and crab au gratin and eggplant.

One of the owners came by to visit and I told him that it had been a much overdue visit since the last time we had been to the Bright Star, about 10 years and that we had made it a point to come on our vacation. He was so touched that after we were done with our meal and had paid our tab, our waiter asked us to wait because the owner had something for us. He said that the owner had said that our comments touched him and had made his evening! We were served with coconut cream pie and their special peanut butter pie. It's the small kindnesses such as this which makes me miss it here so much. What a wonderful way to end our day!

Tomorrow, we plan to go visit the 16th Street Baptist Church, which was bombed in 1963, killing three little African American girls during the darkest time of racial hatred against African Americans in our country. It is my intention to go and pray for them and for bigotry and hatred to be driven from our society in what ever form it may take. We have come a long way, but we have so far to go as it takes so many forms against so many people for too many reasons, none of which can be tolerated.

After, that I hope we can have time to visit the Birmingham Zoo as they have a wonderful elephant exhibit and are one of the leaders in helping to find ways of preserving wild elephants in their natural habitat. We also hope to have time to go see the statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of Fire, who symbolizes Birmingham's history of manufacturing iron and steel.

Saturday afternoon, after the second half of the workshop, we head on to Tuscaloosa, where we plan to see a University of Alabama baseball game.

On Monday, I have an interview with the Dean of the School of Social Work to explore the possibility to return to teach there.

Of course there are some favorite places to see and places to eat, especially the Waysider for breakfast, Buffalo Phils for Buffalo Wings, and then the other two dining highlights, Dreamland who have the best BBQ ribs anywhere and the Cyprus Inn overlooking the Black Warrior River.

It should be a delightful time for us both!

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