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A retired Army Colonel, author, leadership coach and craftswoman extraordinaire, this Waveland resident takes on every challenge with a can-do attitude - and a cheerful disposition.
- by Anna Hirshfield
Ignited with a newfound passion for pottery and her budding can-do attitude, Jo and her friend rushed home, grabbed boxes to carry their clay, and biked to the beach. Hours later the girls came back with full boxes, covered in muddy earth from head to toe. Jo’s health-minded mother immediately took them out back, removed their garments, and sprayed them down with the garden hose, afraid they’d brought home typhoid germs along with their clay.
Jo attended college at the University of Kentucky, earning her degree in physical education. While she was in school, she was able to participate in student teaching. Although she enjoyed the teaching aspect of her job, Jo decided to stay alert for other job opportunities that might be more adventurous.
When a friend suggested joining the Army, she considered the two-year obligation carefully. However, there were many benefits, such as equal pay for both men and women, and the opportunity to grow in a team-oriented setting.
Jo enrolled in the Army, and after graduating college in 1969, she was immediately commissioned to Second Lieutenant and sent to Aniston, Alabama. She was promoted to First Lieutenant after a year.
When she was told that she would be transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia if she signed on for more time, Jo eagerly accepted.
Jo met her husband, Johnny Rusin, her first year in Ft. Benning while he was a captain and she was a lieutenant. He was assigned to be her sponsor, introducing her to the military community and helping her adjust. Jo and Johnny tied the knot in 1970, six months after meeting.
By this time, units were gender-integrated and Jo became one of the first women to command a mixed-gender company in the Army, as well as the first female commander of a battalion at Ft. Benning.
The couple then moved to the nation’s capital for other job opportunities.
While working as a captain in D.C., Jo was given a job offer as a company commander for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), working at the Walter Reed Medical Center. She assumed the command at the age of 27.
As is the life of many military personnel, the Rusins continued to travel all over the world, wherever they were needed. They lived in South Korea, Belgium, and eventually Germany, where Jo was assigned to a brigade and became the most senior woman commander in the first Gulf War in 1990.
In 1993, Jo retired after serving 24 years in the United States Military. She and Johnny made the decision to retire in the same year while working at headquarters in Atlanta.
They remained in Atlanta after their retirement, where they both developed their interests in furniture repair, with Jo focusing on chair caning and seat weaving (click here for her weaving/caning website).
“I love finding somebody else’s junk and fixing it up,” she says, laughing.
She eventually became so skillful at the highly-specialized craft that she was asked to teach at the legendary John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Jo traveled there periodically for the next 21 years to teach caning.
Her love of teaching others, from students, soldiers, to people who want to learn the craft of caning and seat-weaving, has only grown throughout the years.
“If you can help people develop their skills, that’s a gift,” she says. “People have passed theirs on to me, and I want to pass mine on to others.”
In Hancock County alone, Jo has taught 115 people how to weave chairs.
One of Jo's classes at the Waveland Community Center
Jo's desire to help others has motivated her to author five books on various topics including military writing, female leadership, and volunteering (see her website at JoRusin.com).
Her first book, Volunteers Wanted: A Practical Guide to Finding and Keeping Good Volunteers, is a pragmatic guide with advice on how to successfully run a volunteer organization. It is used in programs across the country as well as a university textbook.
Jo has also written an effective and highly popular manual for women focused on advancing in their careers. Move to the Front: The Classical Guide for Military Women was created in part to stamp out the stigma that women are less capable than men in their professional careers. It was an obstacle that she became familiar with over the course of her career and the retired colonel wants to help other women who may be encountering this issue now.
During the 46 years that they have been together, Jo and Johnny have developed a deep love for golden and labrador retrievers. In 1995, while the Rusins were still living in Atlanta, their neighbors volunteered them to work at the local rescue as a foster family. They were hooked.
More recently the couple has been working with dogs who have behavioral issues. Consequently the dogs tend to stay with the Rusins’ for a lengthier period of time since they usually take longer to train. The dogs they end up keeping as their own are usually the ones who were not able to be adopted out.
“People always ask us how we can foster animals since it seems so heart-breaking to let them go,” she adds, “I cannot describe how wonderful it is to see the family meet the dog when they come to take them home-you can’t be anything but happy.”
Jo says they still receive emails and holiday cards from the families. Since 1994 the couple have fostered 390 golden retrievers and labs.
“Can you believe how much dog hair that is?” Jo asks, laughing.
In 2004, Jo began missing the Gulf Coast and brought up the idea of moving back to Mississippi with her husband.
“Not Pascagoula, honey, I’m not a welder,” was his short reply.
The couple began visiting the coast in 2003 and settled down in Waveland in 2005. The Rusins had been living in Waveland 82 days before Katrina hit.
Fortunately, they had not sold their home in Atlanta yet so were able to retreat there immediately after the storm. Deciding to rebuild in Waveland, the couple purchased another home in Lumberton, Mississippi so that they could be closer during the construction of their new house.
The Rusins officially moved back to Waveland in March of 2008.
Part of their desire to move back to the coast was the pet-friendly atmosphere and down-to-earth neighbors.
“Mostly I like the people and being close to the water,” she says of Waveland. “It’s low-key and easy-going. Best of all, you can walk on the beach with your dogs.”
Abita Springs, Louisiana
Natural charms and a quirky personality will have you planning your next trip back before you've reached home.
- story by Anna Hirshfield, photos by Ellis Anderson
The Art and Farmer's Market
The peaceful, nature-oriented lifestyle that Abita Springs offers has compelled artists, farmers, and historic buffs alike to settle down here. The Abita Springs Art and Farmer’s Market is one telling showcase of the diverse kinds of people who are drawn to the small town’s character.
In addition to fresh, seasonal vegetables and local plants for sale, the array of products and services offered includes freshly squeezed lemonade, Hawaiian jerky, hot tamales, psychic readings for $5, finely crafted silver jewelry, organic skin products, hand-painted mugs and martini glasses, a kombucha stand, and a decadent array of cupcakes and chocolate-covered strawberries.
With the market open on Sundays from noon to 4pm, it is easy to spend your afternoon here, wandering around and observing all of the unique booths that are set up amidst the children on scooters and tarot card readings.
Abita Springs Trailhead Museum
Located in the same plaza as the farmer’s market is the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum, home to an array of artifacts and information about the town’s cultural history. The museum offers a perfect starting point for your trip and a vivid, condensed history of the town you are about to explore.
Several cases and displays line the narrow halls. One is filled with spearheads from the Native Americans who inhabited the area over 2,000 years ago, and another recounts the legend of a weary Princess Abita, who was revived with the help of the healing powers from the spring.
Abita Springs became recognized nationally in the 19th century for its healing powers. The Native Americans believed in the water’s ability to cure ailments, and white settlers in the mid-1800s capitalized on the magical essence of the spring.
One testimonial of the spring’s powers was written by J.R. Hoy in 1899: “I reached Abita in a very debilitated condition, which medical science was unable to check. My attending physician told me that I would die if I remained here, and advised me to go to the Abita Spring and drink the water freely. In the course if a month, my health was fully restored…”
Along with the advantages of the natural spring water, natives also prospered from the variety of wildlife that lived within the miles of long leaf pines.
With trees sometimes growing over 100 feet tall and three feet in diameter, this habitat was home to many species, several of which became endangered once the pioneers moved and cleared the forests for developmental purposes.
Abita Springs is just one area in the country that has an ongoing conservation effort to protect the last remaining patches of longleaf pines.
The museum hosts the annual Abita Springs Busker Festival each spring. "Busker" is another name for street musician, if you're not in the know. These musicians make a living by being able to stop passing pedestrians in their tracks, and this free festival honors the spirit of those intrepid troubadours. This year, the event takes place on Sunday, April 23rd, making it the perfect warm-up for Jazz Fest in New Orleans.
The Trace and the Abita Brew Pub
The Tammany Trace bike path is one of the more significant draws for travellers interested in coming to Abita Springs. The 31-mile trail was constructed from a section of abandoned railroad, the path now stretching from Slidell to Covington. On “the Trace” you will see bikers, joggers, walkers, back-packers and horseback riders enjoying the surrounding scenery.
When you’re ready for lunch, the Abita Brew Pub is conveniently located by the town plaza. A casual setting, with windows that face the lush biking trail, the pub offers up a large menu. We enjoyed crab claws sautéed in amber ale and rosemary barbecue sauce, a blackened shrimp and avocado salad with a remoulade dressing, and the Shrimp Agnes dish, plated with jumbo fried shrimp and a honey pecan sauce.
The Brew Pub was actually the home of the original Abita Brewery until 1994. However, as the popularity of Abita beer skyrocketed the brewery itself was relocated to accommodate the high demand. The brewery’s new location in Covington offers both guided and self-guided tours, but the pub in Abita Springs remains as a favorite spot for both locals and visitors to enjoy a meal and sample one of the many beers on tap.
The Abita Mystery House
The most memorable attraction in town is the Abita Mystery House. Headquartered in a vintage gas station and spread between several buildings behind, this home-grown museum is composed of unexpected and mesmerizing collections, ranging from toy figurines, a stellar hot sauce collection and bizarre dioramas, like “Martians at Mardi Gras.”
The House of Shards is a small cottage covered in broken up pieces of mirrors, pottery, patterned glassware, and pretty much any thing else that could have been shattered and recombined to create this striking mosaic.
Buford the Bassigator is the beloved, 26-foot long “pet” of the Abita Mystery House. His sheer size and textured figure may be amusing at first, but stare too long and he’s sure to become haunting.
After examining the exhibits, peering at the paint-by-number masterpieces, and reading the witty signs that cover the walls, you will soon realize that you’ve spent the better part of an afternoon in this small, other-worldly space.
Artist John Preble, curator and owner of the Mystery House, says he and his late wife, jeweler Ann O’Brien, picked up the concept from a museum they visited years ago in New Mexico.
“I loved the idea so I decided to copy it with a Southern twist.”
The gift shop could be considered its own exhibit, displaying strange oddities that double as souvenirs - items you’ve probably never encountered in any toy store, and certainly in no museum.
In the center of this sea of eccentricity, a large case of Ann O’Brien’s fluidly designed jewelry seems an island of serenity. O’Brien passed away ten years ago, but silversmiths working under Preble’s direction continue to handcraft the classic designs.
Although Preble credits the city of Tinkertown, NM as his inspiration, the Mystery House is undoubtedly one-of -a-kind.
“Since we opened, random people find stuff and like to drop it off - people walk through it and they get the idea.” He points to an ornate, brass chandelier sitting out front of the museum. “Somebody just dropped that off the other day,” he says.
And There's More...
Other popular seasonal attractions in Abita Springs include the Abita Springs Opry, a series of concerts dedicated to Louisiana “Roots” music. Performances are held six times each year; three during the Fall season, three during the Spring. The line--ups vary, featuring musicians performing everything from Cajun to Irish music.
One reserved seat costs $18, while season’s tickets for three performances are $54. Make sure to buy your tickets well in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly.
If you’re a bicycle enthusiast, don’t miss the Louisiana Bicycle Festival. It is a vibrant showcase of eccentric and antique bikes. The group ride through the town has now become a beloved tradition. There’s an annual Busker festival too, celebrating street musicians who are drawn from around the South.
Interested in learning traditional Cajun dance? Be sure to schedule your trip on an evening when the Northshore Cajun Dancers meet up. Complimentary dance lessons are given from 7:00 - 7:30pm once a month. After the lesson you’re encouraged to stay for the live music at 8:00pm and showcase your newly learned skills on the dance floor.
Lively and calming, quirky and classic: perhaps it’s this juxtaposition that makes this small hamlet perpetually popular as a place for rejuvenation. At the heart, is its mythical beginning, circling back to the healing powers of the spring:
“Some hundred years have passed away, and still the same sweet scene-
The same old cypress branches, the grey moss and the green.
Where should be placed a Temple, is but fond Nature’s bower,
And flowing calmly onward, the stream of wondrous power.”
(From the Trailhead Museum, dedicated to the spring and to Princess Abita) :
Short Films Alive!
Bay High’s Digital Media program has young directors putting their work into the public eye.
– Karen Fineran
On screen, the saloon door suddenly slams open, and a mysterious miner dressed in black shambles in from the cold. After shooting back a drink and buying a round for the crowd, the stranger ambles to the piano and begins playing a curiously plaintive tune.
Lady Lou and her lover (who we learn from the narration is Dangerous Dan McGrew) are scrutinizing the newcomer. The curiosity of the audience grows as Dan’s face freezes. The stranger stops playing, pronouncing loudly that “one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew.”
The lights blink out; gunshots erupt.
The setting for this film was not a local movie theater, but the familiar Mockingbird Café in downtown Bay St. Louis. The event was the first short film showcase to be featured as part of Hancock County’s Arts Alive Festival, held this year on March 18. The film was The Shooting of Dan McGrew, an interpretation of the famous 1907 narrative poem of the same name by Canadian poet Robert Service.
Dan McGrew was just one of 11 short films that were submitted by students from area schools, including Bay High’s Digital Media program, and screened at the Mockingbird as part of this year’s Arts Alive. Dan McGrew was a big hit with the audience, who particularly enjoyed the twist ending that startled them after the closing credits.
The Shooting of Dan McGrew is the “baby” of Bay High sophomore Cameron Adams, who edited, acted, and directed with co-director Quinn Radler.
Cameron explains the genesis of Dan McGrew: “In my English class, we were given the assignment to create a visual interpretation of one of the poems in our textbook. It was easy to see, after flipping through the poems that we had to choose from, that Dan McGrew would be fun to make, and easy to visualize on film.
"We shot it in about five hours at my parents’ empty house that we had just moved from.”
Cameron has been making movies since elementary school. He plans to apply to colleges with film schools and possibly to attend film summer camp this summer.
Other short films screened that night, all under eight minutes, including several intimate looks at grief, loss, and learning experienced by teens, as well as some lighthearted comedies, including a horror parody stop-motion animated Legos short by Landon Brady and Aidan Pohl, depicting a “Horrorible Love.”
Other Bay High students who contributed films to Arts Alive this year included Grace Powell, Corey Jennings, Alyssa Juge, and Seth Denison.
Short films make up a unique medium that lends itself neatly to artistic experimentation by emerging filmmakers who don’t have to spend the small fortune it would take to make a full-length feature film.
Audiences appreciate short-form films; it’s much easier to ask people to watch a five-minute short film than a feature-length one — especially if it comes across your Facebook feed, and then you end up watching it on your iPhone.
“This year, the short film showcase for Arts Alive was really all just pulled together at the last minute, but then we had such an amazing response to it!” says Martha Whitney Butler, President of the Arts, Hancock County.
“First, I came across Dan McGrew and other Bay High short films, and at the last minute, there was even a student from the University from Pennsylvania in the audience who asked me if we could add his film to the lineup, and we were able to do it! The audience was blown away!”
Butler is thrilled that the Beacon Theater in Waveland is now in discussions with Hancock Arts to show student films before their feature movies, and perhaps to hold a Student Film Screening Night.
Butler hopes to hold a short film contest next year in addition to a film showcase, and to find local sponsors to give awards. In addition to asking schools to find talented young filmmakers, she also hopes to find more established emerging filmmakers who wish to participate in the showcase and the contest.
“I believe that this might have been our most successful Arts Alive event ever, and we definitely plan to hold it next year!” she enthused.
Bay High Digital Media Technologies teacher Tarah Herbert loves working with the budding student filmmakers. She is especially enthusiastic that, this month, Bay High is submitting several short films, including Dan McGrew, to the Mississippi High School Film Competition, part of the Tupelo Film Festival, established in 2004.
Since 2014, the Tupelo festival has been taking submissions of films of no longer than ten minutes from Mississippi high schools to promote the art of filmmaking and to encourage student amateur filmmakers to hone their skills.
Awards and matching cash prizes (from between $150 to $500 apiece) will be awarded to both school sponsors and the winning student filmmakers. This year, awards even include full and partial scholarships to the Watkins College for Art, Design and Film in Nashville, Tennessee.
The competition will be held Saturday, April 22nd, at the Malco Theatre in Tupelo, with the film screenings to be followed by awards and filmmakers’ Q & A. (Tickets $5; for more information call 662-213-3307 or 662-605-0691 or email: email@example.com.
Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke reports on C&R's 10th Annual Crawfish Cookoff, the possibility of curbside recycling and the town's annual Easter Egg Hunt.
In addition, you can have your business name displayed at the event by sponsoring a sack of crawfish. Teams and sponsorships are limited for this event, so call 228-493-9922 today to secure your spot.
Admission is just $20 for adults and $10 for kids (9–12), and under-8s are free. Rochelle Harper will be the entertainment this year. The C&R crawfish cook-off will benefit Friends of the Animal Shelter and Wild at Heart Rescue.
So, do you want citywide curbside recycling or not?
Mayor Mike Smith, five additional Hancock County elected officials, Diamondhead's city manager and I serve as directors of the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority, which is currently soliciting bids for curbside recycling service in each municipality in Hancock County.
Currently, if people want to recycle items like glass, paper, and plastic, the only option in Hancock County is for people to take them to one of five recycling dumpsters located throughout the county. A large percentage of Hancock County households do not recycle, so the question becomes, “If curbside recycling was available, would more people start recycling?” One would hope so.
The service of curbside recycling will probably cost between $2 and $5 for each household per month — I will know the exact service fee for curbside recycling service on May 8th. Recycling would be billed the same way that your monthly curbside trash collection service is billed.
It is important to let your Hancock County Solid Waste Authority Director from your municipality or your councilman or mayor know if you are interested in having curbside recycling in your municipality. Email yours today!
Editor's Note: You may also take this survey!
Hancock County Solid Waste Authority Directors:
Mayor Tommy Schafer
Bay St Louis:
Mayor Les Fillingame
Councilman Bobby Compretta
Mayor Mike Smith
Alderman Jeremy Burke
Supervisor Blaine Lafontaine
Supervisor Greg Shaw
Easter Egg Hunt
Waveland’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt is set for Saturday, April 8, 11–1 at the day-use picnic area at Buccaneer State Park. This annual event will have games, prizes, snacks, thousands of eggs and, of course, the Easter bunny.
Hope to see everyone out there! If you have any questions or would like to donate items, please contact April Depreo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 228-216-1592.
Relive the Waveland St. Paddy's Day Parade!
click here for the Shoofly's 15 Minutes Photo Gallery
Three Forums For City Candidates
Three non-partisan forums give voters a chance to get to know the candidates running for Bay St. Louis City Council and Mayor. Candidates will also have opportunities to answer questions and state their platforms in a race some believe is pivotal for the city's future.
- by Lisa Monti
The Shoofly Magazine is the sponsor of Serve BSL, working with civic supporters The Seacoast Echo and the Hancock Chamber. The project's goal is to create a nonpartisan one-stop shop for Bay St. Louis voters, packed with useful info to make voting easy and convenient.
Back-to-back live candidate forums are also set for this month.
The Hancock County Democratic and Republican Committees will jointly host a forum April 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Bay St. Louis Community Center, 301 Blaize Ave.
Moderators from both political parties will ask Democratic and Republican candidates on the May 2 primary ballot questions during the forum. Independents and unopposed primary candidates can attend to provide information about themselves to the audience.
Voters attending the forum have an opportunity to submit questions to the candidates. Written questions will be accepted until April 14 by going to www.bslbeyondpolitics.com and clicking on the Contact Us tab.
All questions will be submitted to the moderators, who will ask as many public questions as possible during the forum. Questions submitted via the website will be confidential.
If you have questions about the Hancock County Democratic and Republican Parties’ Candidate Forum procedures, rules or policies, contact Bruce Northridge at email@example.com, Mark Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is sponsoring a forum April 20 for all candidates running for mayor and city council in Bay St. Louis. The forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Center on Blaize Avenue.
The Alliance is presenting the forum as a service to the community “so the candidates and the voters can meet each other,” said the Alliance’s Lana Noonan.
The forum will have a moderator and a panel of professionals who will be asking the candidates questions. Council candidates will be first up for the questions, and after a brief intermission the mayoral candidates will answer questions from the panel members. No questions will be taken from the audience.
Noonan said candidates are welcome to bring campaign material to distribute to voters before the forum, during the intermission and at the end of the event.
The non-partisan community service organization has held forums for state, county and local elections since it was formed in 2010. “It is a service project we do at our own expense,” Noonan said. “Our goal is to make the public aware of what’s going on and to hear what the candidates have to say.”
The well attended forums also give the candidates an opportunity to meet large numbers of voters. “We had a packed house last time,” Noonan said of the Bay St. Louis forum four years ago.
For more information or to sign up to speak, call 228-493-4358 or 228-363-9395.
A Recipe For Rejection
Award-winning author and syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson considers the approaching extinction of "professional courtesy" in the publishing world.
You can paper your walls with rejections, toss them in the trash, or parse them for signs of hope. By “not at this time” did she mean “not this issue, but maybe next?” Did “does not meet our area of interest” mean “anybody else with more interesting interests should love it!”
If you’re a glass half-full kind of person, you can drown in such parsing.
Ten years ago (really) when the new (then) Southern magazine all about guns and gardens made its debut, I was beside myself with excitement. Why, I’d been writing daily about Southern staples (then) for 30 years (really). I thought with excitement of three or four ideas to pitch, including one about a klatch of Louisiana crawfishermen in the Atchafalaya swamp suing the big oil companies for their nasty habit of leaving unnatural canals and drilling apparatus behind and ruining the fresh flow of water.
Talk about a David and Goliath story, Southern in the extreme, involving nets if not guns and the largest swamp in North America, if not a garden. I was in like Flynn, though now that perfectly good expression originating with Errol Flynn has been ruined by Michael Flynn, the first of Trump’s team to be ousted. Now, I guess, the operative term will be out like Flynn.
I threw in the possibility of a post-Katrina gardening story for good measure, included the prescribed Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope and a book I’d written about Louisiana and waited confidently for, at the least, a nice rejection letter for my walls.
Never came. Not even an email version of No Thanks. Not even my book back. Month after month I’d get my copy of the G&G and read stories about subjects I’d covered 20 or 30 years earlier, including Alabama’s Coon Dog Cemetery, or Cornelia Bailey, the Geechee Queen of Sapelo Island, Ga. Been there, written that.
I’d sit smoldering on my porch, rubbing my cur hound and drinking whiskey and listening to Hank — as posturing-ly Southern as you can get — vowing not to care but caring.
Unworthy of the professional courtesy extended even to novices who throw ideas tied to a rock over a transom, I grew bitter and despondent and did what you do at such times: I cancelled my subscription.
Only trouble is, I’d been excited about the prospects of a new Southern magazine that had promise and did not deal strictly in ostentatious houses. So that first year I gave subscriptions to everyone on my gift list.
They loved it! Even hard-to-please people like my Colorado nephew and his bride, who have spent precious little time in the South, loved it. My brother who doesn’t read loved it. Men who don’t like swapping Christmas presents loved it. On a monthly basis I renewed subscriptions for friends and family, but not my own.
Then one day a friend, who loves it, pointed out a story on a singer who I’d phoned her about late one night after hearing him on a television show. I re-subscribed to read about Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats and his big hit “Son of a Bitch.”
Maybe it was my bad attitude, but, upon my return to the fold I sensed a shift in the magazine’s target audience. Despite the edgy Rateliff’s appearance, things had changed. The houses profiled had grown finer, the photographs glossier, the featured dogs poodles. Okay, that last thing hadn’t happened, but it still could.
Someone once told me about asking an editor of the venerable Southern Living if that magazine ever got letters of complaint. The editor said “No, nobody writes letters of complaints about pecan pie recipes.”
And so, when it arrives, I read the letters in the magazine about gardens and collectible guns hoping to see a complaint. So far, there’s not a sign of rejection.
The Alice Moseley Museum
The colorful and beloved folk artist left behind a lasting legacy in her adopted town of Bay St. Louis. Step into her world of antiques, art and most of all, laughter.
- by Lisa Monti
Born in Birmingham, she married William “Mose” Moseley and moved to Batesville, his hometown. After their son Tim was born the couple moved to Memphis, where Miss Alice earned a bachelor’s in education and later a master’s. She taught in the day and cared for her mother at night, spending hours painting.
Early on, Miss Alice was reluctant to sell her paintings, according to Tim, but all reluctance surely left her at a flea market in Nashville when a man from Kentucky paid $45 each for the first 30 paintings she ever created.
With that $1,350 check, the reticent retired schoolteacher became a professional folk artist.
Miss Alice continued painting on wood or any other material at hand and her works sold quickly. Mose did the framing on some of her work and when one sold, Miss Alice paid him a commission. Some of those frames can be seen at the museum that showcases Miss Alice’s work.
She discovered Bay St. Louis in 1988 by way of an art show and knew she’s found a special place. Miss Alice, at 79, moved to the Bay and settled into her home and studio, where she graciously greeted visitors.
If you were lucky enough to meet Alice Moseley, known respectfully as Miss Alice, in her now-famous blue house on the edge of the Historic Depot grounds, the encounter was no doubt unforgettable. No matter how many visitors she greeted in her home/gallery, Miss Alice charmed each one with stories about her work. Even her beagle, Herman, was completely at ease with the comings and goings of visitors buying prints of her folk art.
Her story is well known locally. Miss Alice took up painting at age 60 and without benefit of art instruction while she cared for her ailing mother. “If my Mom had not been ill, I never would’ve painted,” Miss Alice said. “I think of it as her gift to me.”
Miss Alice died in 2004 at 94 and was remembered at a service on the lawn of the depot, which now houses the Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum. Visitors may not look across the way at the Blue House on Bookter Street where Miss Alice held forth, but once they have toured the museum and learned of her home, they surely take a look on their way out.
The museum exhibits include more than 40 works by Miss Alice, as well as collections of Depression glass, old bottles, Majolica vases and assorted antiques. Visitors to the museum often “discover” Miss Alice for the first time, and they leave with an appreciation of her talent and her generosity. She wanted everyone to see the museum so, she declared there would be no admission fee. Instead, the museum is supported by donations and proceeds from the sale of Alice Moseley prints and books.
Miss Alice’s folk art shows off her humor, with titles including “The House Is Blue, But The Old Lady Ain’t” for her painting of her Booker Street home.
There’s a reference to Elvis — whom Miss Alice knew back in the day — in her work, depicting the King’s rise from a humble Tupelo home to Graceland. It’s called “From a Shotgun House to a Mansion on a Hill.” “Labor versus Management” depicts a stubborn mule and a frustrated farmer in overalls.
“Three Sheets In The Wind” shows a tipsy old man with three sheets hanging on a clothesline in the background. The print is especially popular among “regional drinking establishments,” according to the museum.
Not to Touch it Was My First Reaction...
Flash fiction: Writers entering the literary component of the annual Arts Alive! festival in April were given 400 words, an intriguing prompt and only a few hours to come up with a compelling short story. Read the work of the winners!
"Yours and Mine"
by Jane Clair Tyner
Not to touch it was my first reaction. Last night’s high tide must have washed it up on Henderson Point. After 26 years as wife, 23 as mother, I could no longer distinguish between instinct and obligation. I found the nearest plastic bag and used it to pull the carcass from the water’s edge. I examined it, considering all the options of its life, its journey to Mississippi’s shores. There was slight comfort in imagining a death that wasn’t the result of trophy fishing or otherwise succumbing to man’s disregard.
I thought about how when I first began my Sunday morning scavenger hunts, John would sift through my finds with me when I returned home. His interest was feigned; maybe that’s the most loving of all interest a spouse can give. I thought about when he quit. Was it before or after the girls started high school? Did I quit showing him or did he quit asking to see? I thought about anything to forget you were late.
Seventeen months and three weeks. That’s how long since our first meeting. Seventy-five Sundays later, we’ve missed eight. One to your father’s death, two for rain that wouldn’t cease, John’s broken arm, the remainder to family vacations--yours and mine. It was three weeks ago you told me you’d wait until I was ready...ready. That word has so consumed my thoughts the past three weeks, I can’t remember its meaning. I’ve looked it up on dictionary.com, reading it over and over, even out loud. That only made it all the more nonsensical. How does one prepare to leave the life they’ve sacrificed for and to for 26 years?
A squall was building out by the island. John wouldn’t question my returning home so early once it made land. You’re nineteen minutes late now. I walk back to my car as slowly as I can, burying my feet deeper into the sand with each step, wrestling against the wind at my back. Leaving you, even leaving waiting for you is always brutal. I pull my phone from the console hoping to read your most frequently uttered phrase to me, something about waiting. No text message, an email, “She knows.” It felt nothing as I expected. It felt like movement without question. It felt like instinct. It felt like I was ready.
"On the Beach"
Her scent captivated me, a smell of fresh dew on a meadow, mixed with the salt aroma of an off-sea breeze. Not to touch her was my first reaction, figuring last night’s tide must have washed her up on Henderson Point. Dawn barely broken, I set the ice chest down, plunging my fishing pole into the sand and watching Snuffy, my little terrier, approach her cautiously, giving the mermaid one of his sniff-snuffles.
Her eyes snapped open, irises the azure of the sun glistening off the deep sea, her sweet red lips opening in a little pout as she flicked her tail once or twice, shaking off the debris.
“Do you speak?” I asked, taking a step closer and squatting next to her. I reached out gingerly, running a finger along her scales. Surprisingly soft, they squeaked under my touch.
Her voice had a lyrical tone, a hypnotizing allure of Odyssey’s sirens. “Ah yes, mighty human. I know your tongue. My people have followed your ships for hundreds of generations, guiding them from storms, unsnarling your nets, always befriending those with legs.”
She squirmed a bit, digging herself deeper into the sand. “And you, bold master, what brings you to this sandy shore so early in the morning?”
I pointed back at my pole. “Out to do some fishing. Hoping to catch a big one today for a fish fry party planned for tonight. Got the gang coming over to watch the game.”
The mermaid gave me a sweet smile. “I could help with that. I’m afraid the storm last night washed me too high up on the dunes for me to get back to the sea by myself. If you could pick me up and carry me back in the water, I’d surely catch you a gigantic fish, maybe two.”
I stood and looked out on the Gulf. Protected by the sound, with the passing of the storm the water lay still and dead, the chance of me catching anything significant today seemed slim. I picked her up and cuddled her against my chest, raising from a squat carefully. She began squirming as I walked away from the shore towards my truck.
“What? Where are you taking me?”
“Home to place you in my big cooking pot. With a bit of cayenne pepper, I bet you’ll be delicious!”
"Six Reactions to a Steak Dinner on the Beach"
by Steve Hoffman
Not to touch it was my first reaction. Last night’s high tide must have washed it up on Henderson Point. But who would go to the trouble of preparing a really nice steak dinner with grilled fingerlings and asparagus spears only to place it in a small flotation device and send it on it’s way?
No one was my second reaction. But there it is with a 2014 vintage bottle of Conundrum. This is my favorite meal. This. This is no accident.
My third reaction was – I’m being watched. Where are the cameras? A crack team of culinary students have embedded themselves in the sand and they are watching, waiting to see if I bite.
My fourth reaction was – I forgot to take my medication. No. I distinctly remember taking it. This is real. This is happening. I am on the Food Network right now. And how viral would it be if I stripped bare and devoured that Cowboy Cut with my bare hands? If I took their wine, their properly poured offering and smashed it upside my head. What if I began to chug straight from the bottle letting the majority spill all over my naked body. They’d never see that coming. But it’s always that one percent of doubt that when I got home I’d find the pill still in the organizer looking up at me as if to say, “that was a close one.”
This is my last meal, isn’t it? If I sit down and partake, a ninja lurking behind the grassy dune will take his bamboo blow gun and punctuate my last swallow with a poison dart to the neck. Funny that I should go the same way my father did. That was my fifth reaction.
This line of thinking usually convinces me that I did indeed forget to take my medication. But not this time. There was no denying the steak dinner. It was there. I could smell it. Not knowing what to do, I sat there all day long and stared at it. As the sun dipped below the horizon, a girl sat down beside me. To life, we toasted with a full moon rising. She took the first bite, then I took mine. It had sand in it. I thought, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” That was my sixth reaction.
by Nonie Johns
Not to touch it was my first reaction. Last night's high tide must have washed it up on Henderson Point: a plastic garbage bag billowing in the breezes. Besides, I could see the outline of something inside...something BIG. Moving closer, hoping that it was not a bag of body parts, I saw square corners poking at the sides of the bag. I knelt down on the sand,tearing the plastic open with the help of my trusty Swiss Army Knife. Inside, I found a large padlocked wooden box with a tiny key inserted in the lock.
Well, what would you do? I opened it. Most of us have been taught to respect other people's property, their privacy. In my case, however -- born with an insatiable curiosity-- I find it difficult not to inspect closely things that interest me, especially if they don't belong to me, or if I find them on the beach. The key was already THERE, calling me -- no DEMANDING that I open that box, and I did.
I hadn't noticed that the box was hinged, further proof of permission to explore, and as the front of the box opened, I saw the most amazing thing. A beautiful doll house, painted dark blue, white shingles on the roof, white gingerbread trim around the doors, windows and under the eaves. Real glass windows showing tiny curtains drawn from the inside. Like Pandora, I just HAD to see the inside of that tiny house. I opened it, how smoothly that front door swung aside, and inside, INSIDE~ was a damn dream of a dollhouse.
Every room with lovingly crafted furniture. Not jumbled or tumbled as one would expect from being tossed about in the Bay, but fastened to floors and walls with some kind of barnacle glue, keeping sofa, chairs, desk, and rugs on the floor, teensy copies of the old masters on the walls. The beds with their dust ruffles and comforters smoothly inviting. A kitchen to die for; cupboard filled with Blue Willow dishes. A bitsy wine rack on the counter, waiting for an exhausted, very small homeowner to come and have a glass. The whole house - the original tiny house intact, expecting, waiting for some beloved child to play with it.
I considered hauling it home. I found it, after all. But the very best gifts are the ones we share. I left it there.
by John Herron
"Not to touch it was my first reaction", Rick said as he stared blankly down at the pavement.
"Last night's high tide must have washed it up on Henderson point." He took a deep drag of his cigarette.
"You ever see something Mort, that makes you question what your even doing here?"
"In Biloxi?", Mort asked as he furrowed his salt and pepper eyebrows.
"No, think bigger Mort.", Rick looked up and met Mort's eyes. "I mean here, in this world, on this planet. What greater purpose do we serve? Are we just here to consume and accumulate waste?"
"Does this have to do with what you saw at Henderson point?" Mort asked.
Rick looked down at his shoes and sucked on his cigarette. "Dammit Mort. Have you ever seen something that made you feel so small, like everything you thought you knew was just a tiny speck in a vast universe?"
Morton thought about this for a minute and said, "I once saw a man beheaded in a town square for stealing bread. It made me feel like I was ungrateful for all I have. Is that what you mean?"
"Mort, on the beach that night." The eyes that looked at Mort were blank. The man under them was on standby, just along for the ride. All fear and worry had been drained until there was just a shell of a man with autopilot behind the wheel. "It was something I had never seen. It's eyes were knowing, Mort. It knew what I was, and I could feel it."
"What did it look like, Rick? Some kind of fish?"
Rick darted his eyes to the pavement. "No."
"Well, what was it?" Mort said. "You sound like a crazy person."
"Maybe I am", Rick said in a starry voice. "But only because I looked into its eyes. I saw Mort. I saw and I saw and I saw. Forever. The world broke away from me, and I knew. I knew things that had only been dreamed of. I could see the world, Mort, and its end."
"My nose had began to bleed." Rick said and Mort looked disgusted.
"That's when I fainted, but when I awoke Mort, I knew the meaning of life. Why we are here and the full potential we all have."
"What is it" Mort asked. Rick smiled and wrapped his arms around his friend.
Music Makers of the Past
Writer and musician Ana Balka reflects on the virtues of vintage instruments, and goes shopping for them in Bay St. Louis.
- story by Ana Balka, photos by Annamarie Holbrook
The woman—the man’s sister, it turned out—refrained from rolling her eyes as he insisted I allow him to buy it and pay him back later (perhaps he was in the habit of being wildly generous). I was embarrassed, but eventually accepted and made arrangements to pick it up.
Fifteen years later I still have the piano, and I am no virtuoso. But I love that piano, and I’m forever grateful to the man in the antique store.
I’ll admit to being something of a sucker for instruments I see in second-hand stores, especially accordions (also no virtuoso, but they’re totally addictive), violins, and guitars. The violin I’ve used to play in rock bands for years is a 5-string Alvarez electric-acoustic that I found for something like $50 in an antique store in Atlanta.
Shay Sugars of Magnolia Antiques, 200 Main Street, reeled off a veritable philharmonic of used instruments and associated accouterments you can find now in their sprawling display room in Bay St. Louis: A melodica (“It’s like a keyboard you blow into”), $65 with carrying case; “Several metronomes, two really good vintage turntables, a vintage accordion, three trombones, some trumpets, and electric guitar, vintage acoustic guitars, a bass guitar...” Shay trails off, then remembers more. “A mandolin and a violin, and harmonicas.”
“Also kazoos. Vintage mint. And a lot of vintage sheet music.”
“I buy any good instrument that comes into the shop,” she says.
A few of the stringed instruments found at Magnolia Antiques
The store is a family affair, with stepdad Jack Schornick picking up many of the instruments from the various estate sales and other places the shop sources its stock from. Violins, guitars, and brass wind instruments are typical finds, so I asked Shay about some of the odder instruments she’s seen.
“We had a Merlin,” she says. “It’s a thin-bodied guitar by Seagull. Supposedly it’s got no bad notes, which is great for people like me.”
Magnolia Antiques has also come to be known for its unusually large selection of new and used ukuleles. Jack took up the uke habit at some point and, once his growing collection outgrew their house, they decided to start carrying them in the store. Right now there are around 70 of the small, guitar-like instruments in stock including electric, resonator-body (in copper) and bass ukes along with the classic wooden models in all sizes including peanut, soprano, concert, and tenor.
Sylvia Young of Antique Maison Ulman and Tearoom at 317 Ulman Avenue in Bay St. Louis says she and husband and co-owner Ed see many stringed instruments like violins, and the banjo they recently sold. The store currently has some unique offerings like a reenactment bugle — a custom-made replica of the horns used around the time of the Civil War — as well as a 1900 Indian antique brass copper blow horn from World War I.
One dealer in the Youngs’ showroom specifically carries different types of horns and stringed instruments.
All sorts of people come into Antique Maison looking for musical instruments, and they usually sell quickly, Sylvia says. Not everyone looking for instruments is a musician: “I had a lady come in looking for any type of instrument,” Sylvia recalls. “Her father, sons, and grandfather were all musicians, so she has a room that’s like a museum in her house.”
One of the more unusual instruments they had come through was a melodium, “From the 1800s — it was also a beautiful piece of antique furniture,” Sylvia says. “It had a little place to put your candle from back in the days when that’s still what they used. We say that’s where you put your drinks now.”
Whatever your musical taste, and whether you play an instrument or just think you might like to try, I recommend taking note of that lonely accordion in the corner when you’re out looking at antiques and vintage items.
While it’s rare that someone will step out of thin air and buy an instrument for you as the man in the antique store bought my piano for me, antique stores can yield some unique finds and give you the opportunity to give an old instrument new life.
A Hancock County database aims to assist in search for enslaved ancestors — excerpts from the introduction to the slave database, a work in progress on historian Russ Guerin’s website.
— By Russ Guerin, with intro by Ana Balka
We encourage you to browse Russ’s entire site. The years that Russ has put into research and writing on Hancock County and Gulf Coast history are reflected in the dozens of pages and thousands of words you will find there. Thank you, Russ, for letting us reprint these selections on the slave database.
I. Slave Data Base – Hancock County, MS
by Russell Guerin
Over recent years, I have had a number of inquiries, both in person and online, by folks looking into their Hancock County forebears. Even though my website is not a genealogical oriented source, it has been fruitful to a number of people whose ancestry includes African-American lineages.
One example of success involved a professor at an eastern university who was able to identify her ancestor as having been one of the “servants” at the Sea Song plantation in Waveland, described in my article a couple of years ago.
The mention of names has sometimes been included in those articles where slaves are listed in official documents such as land deeds and probate records. In the case of the example above, the source of names was in family letters. Making identification difficult is the fact that slaves were referred to by first names only, as though they had never been part of families.
It is commonly known that former slaves, when freed, often took the names of their previous masters. It may be that tracing of ancestors could be substantially helped by knowing the last names of those who had held others in bondage.
(Click here to read more and to see the database in-progress).
Slave Data Base – some observations
by Russell Guerin
Almost all slave mentions studied from original documents in Hancock County, Mississippi show only one name — neither first nor last, simply one. The acquisition of last names by freed slaves was an important post Civil War transition. Whether there was an official program of renaming, or whether and when choices were made and recorded, has not been found. Still, it can be observed that the changes took form in patterns.
The source of information for these observations was for the most part the census of 1870, and to a lesser degree, the census of 1880. While a presumption is made that those listed under “Race” are former slaves, it should be considered that there were no longer any identifications as “Free Persons of Color.”
Names and descriptions assembled from early slave-day documents such as estate inventories and property transfers were then compared to census data.
Surnames Chosen after Emancipation
As was common in other areas, in Hancock County a common choice was to assume the name of a former owner. However, it has not always been possible to relate the chosen surname to a former slave’s own owner.
Some of the more prominent slave owner/dealers were the following:
Carver, Cowand, Johnson, Favre Amaker, Claiborne, DeBlieux, Fayard, Casanova, Cuevas, Johnston, Benois, Mitchell, Bell, Poitevent, Mitchell, Russ, Carroll, Otis, Daniels, Brown, Jordan, Dawsey, Peterson, Peters, Henry, Nicaise, Wheat, Wingate, Farr, Bird, Varnado.
Another obvious choice for some was to take the name of an important person, such as Jefferson, Jackson, Washington. Even the name Lee shows up in Hancock, though it is doubtful that the former commander of the Army of Northern Virginia was the person in mind.
There were also odd names, chosen perhaps for their potential symbolism: Worship, Mars, Whig, King, Christmas, President, and Absalom.
A pattern that arose to the surprise of this writer but seems to stand up to investigation was the choice of transforming the former slave name to that of the surname, which then allowed for an assumption of a new first name. Those slave names that became last names that can be clearly demonstrated were Sam, Isaac, John, Moses, Monday, Martha, and Henry.
The Least of Our Concerns
Last year, the very first colony of Least Terns in Hancock County didn't make it. This year, if they return, Audubon's Coastal Bird Stewardship Program hopes to give the endangered birds a chance to survive and thrive. A call to action for local bird lovers.
- by LB Kovac, photos by Charles Hubbard and Mozart Dedeaux
Update: Calling all Least Tern Lovers! There will be a meeting about the Hancock County Least Tern colony at the BSL Library at 10am - Noon on Friday, April 21st. All who are interested in protecting our colony are urged to attend. Sarah Pacyna, from Audubon (more about Sarah in the article below) will explain the delicate situation in Hancock County.
To prevent a repeat of last year's loss, it's going to take lots of residents willing to take action and encourage the Hancock Supervisors to allow Audubon to rope off the colony and post signs, like they do in Harrison County. Doing so helps an endangered species and can have a major positive impact on our Hancock County community. For instance, click here to read about the economic impact of birding in Toledo, Ohio.
In fact, these feisty little birds are a staple at several beaches along the country’s coast, from New York to Miami to Long Beach, California. They love sand, and nesting close to the ocean gives them easy access to many of their favorite foods: small, shallow-water-swimming fish; crustaceans, like hermit crabs and ghost crabs; and water-skimming insects.
Historically, along the Gulf Coast, the interior least terns have stuck to barrier islands, but dams and basins constructed to control the flow of the Mississippi River have covered up many of the tern’s breeding grounds, driving the birds further inland.
And something you probably don’t have in common with the least tern is their sleeping habits: least terns tend to nest and sleep on the ground. This leaves the birds, their eggs, and young chicks especially vulnerable to predators, like domestic cats, coyotes, and owls.
But the beaches of Harrison County have been a popular least tern destination in recent years; volunteers identified sixteen colonies in 2016.
This was good news for the endangered subspecies. As recently as 1985, the breeding population for all nesting sites in the entire United States had dropped as low as 3,000 pairs.
And more good news came last year in the form of a brand new colony. For the first time since records have been kept, a least tern colony nested along the beach in our own Hancock County.
“Lots of people didn’t even know that they were there,” says Sarah Pacyna, Director of the Audubon Mississippi’s Coastal Bird Stewardship Program, an organization which coordinates monitoring efforts for coastal birds and stewards breeding population.
Their partial invisibility is due in part to the small size of their colonies, which rarely exceed 100 breeding pairs.
But the least terns knew we were there. See, least terns are rather finicky birds; they need peace and quiet in order to thrive. Pacyna says that, as a species, they are “especially susceptible to disturbance,” and the appearance of humans or domestic animals like cats and dogs near nesting sites can stress the birds out.
The least terns’ rather sudden appearance last year in Hancock County left Audubon’s team scrambling to protect the birds and give them ample room, and peace, to raise their young.
Audubon wasn’t able to secure permission to rope off the nesting area until late in the breeding season, and, unfortunately, some damage was done. Pacyna said that the Hancock colony ended up “failing:” some of the nests hatched chicks, but none of the chicks made it to adulthood.
But that doesn’t mean there is no hope for the future.
Pacyna’s team now has permission from the Mississippi Secretary of State to protect the birds in Hancock County whenever, and wherever, they colonize. Once several birds have established a nesting site, she and her team will be able to “rope off the area and put up signs to caution people” about the presence of the birds.
If possible, Pacyna will also coordinate volunteers to stand near the nesting sites, preventing beachgoers and pets from trampling nests or disturbing the colony. Volunteers can also provide valuable information on colony size and egg and chick production for least terns and other endangered coastal bird species.
Pacyna says that Audubon also has several contingency plans in place to make it easier for birds and humans to coexist on Hancock County’s beautiful beaches. If the terns decide to colonize near a popular stretch, her team can use decoys and clips of bird calls to lure them to a less-populated area.
“We want to give them our best conservation efforts,” says Pacyna. Audubon considers the least tern a priority species, alongside snowy plovers, black skimmers, and brown pelicans. If we don’t work hard to protect them, it’s possible that, even in a few years, we won’t see them on the beaches any longer.
You can do your part to protect these little birds. Pacyna says “be aware of your beach surroundings” when you’re out relaxing near the water. Keep an eye out for greenish, speckled eggs, which can be found in shallow indentations in the sand. And, if you do find a least tern nest, give the folks at Audubon a call.
This way, bird and human alike can enjoy the beach.
Click here to volunteer to help protect the Least Terns in both Hancock and Harrison counties in 2017.
Read more about volunteer efforts here.
The Open Face Jewelry Box
An easy solution to a wardrobe problem almost every woman faces: how to store your jewelry so that it's easy to select - and store!
- story and photos by Holly Lemoine Raymond
Let’s get started!
First you will need to pick your tray. You can use a jewelry tray, breakfast tray, or any flat, wooden tray with sides that is at least 2 inches deep. These trays are so easy to find you may already have one lying around somewhere in your home. Or you can go to the closest Walmart or thrift store and find something to repurpose.
Once you’ve found the perfect tray, you can either sand it down and stain it or paint it a color of your choice. (I like that vintage look so I prefer to sand, paint, and then sand a little more to give it a weathered/worn look.)
When your paint or stain has dried, you can start placing the eyelet hooks and/or drawer knobs in place.
Voila! It’s as easy as that. All that is left for you to do is mount it on the wall.
Now you have a great gift to give to the special lady in your life and reduce the amount of clutter on your sink and/or dresser.
Thanks for reading and for allowing me to share this quick and easy DIY project with you. Happy Spring!
This and That About Cats and Kittens
Billions of songbirds and small mammals are killed each year by outdoor cats - both feral and those that are pets. Find out about local programs that are working to spay, neuter and find homes for felines in Hancock County.
- Robbie MacDougal, Shetland Sheepdog and canine journalist
One of the things on my mind is what to do about cats and kittens. It is getting to be kitten season. Actually in Mississippi we have kitten seasons in the spring, late spring and fall. That means full shelters and many feral kittens.
When it comes to cats and kittens, I am not surprised that we have so many in Hancock County. “Ten thousand years after their ancestors invaded our Fertile Crescent settlements, house cats — tailing our armies and sailing on our ships — have spread like dandelion fluff,” according to an article in the October 2016 Smithsonian Magazine (Abigail Tucker: “To Save the Woodrat, Conservationists Have to Deal With an Invasive Species First: House Cats”).
The U.S. has an estimated 80 million feral cats and another 100 million pet cats — a number that has apparently tripled in the last 40 years. Females reach maturity at 6 months. Some can breed at 4 months. The calculations show that a breeding pair of cats could produce 354,294 descendants in five years, if all survived. Gad! That is a lot of cats.
Here in Hancock County we have house cats who stay indoors all the time, cats who come and go, and feral cats. In our household all the cats are rescues. They are all spayed or neutered and never go out, so they don’t add to “cat issues.”
My neighbor has a couple of outdoor cats who are neutered and are up-to-date on their shots. The only issues they could cause are if they go after the local birds.
Did you know that house cats kill somewhere between 1.3 and 4 billion birds every year in the U.S., according to the Audubon Society? Feral cats kill another 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals. Yipes!
Some people put bells on their cats, and other have used a BirdsBeSafe collar. This is a neat idea that my neighbor told me about. Her cat collars are the breakaway kind with reflective tape.
I’m not saying that all cats would be willing to wear such a collar, but bringing the subject up does remind us all that cats do kill a lot of birds.
Then we have another category, feral cats. These are cats who are born and grow up in the wild. Some cats are abandoned and turn semi-feral. The problem is that if they are not spayed or neutered they will produce lots and lots of kittens.
One of my neighbors just picked up a trap from us to catch two male cats who have been living under their porch. The neighbor will use one of the Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County free spay/neuter vouchers to make these two cat fellas unable to be dads. No more yowling, and less fighting and fewer kittens. The Trap/Neuter/Release program has helped, but more of these free roaming no-owner cats need to be fixed.
If you are a cat lover, I invite you to think about what you can do to help. All of your cats should be fixed so they cannot reproduce. We brought in one feral cat we were unable to touch for over a year. She roamed and hid in the house. Boo did well with the litter box but as she was not spayed we began to notice a kitchen curtain that was yellow on the bottom. We had to trap her to get her spayed to stop the spraying.
Outdoor cats need to be fixed as well. Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County has no co-pay (that would be free) spay and neuter vouchers available for indoor, outdoor, and feral cats. Visit friendsoftheanimalshelter.org for additional information. FYI, they also have vouchers for dogs.
Another thing cat lovers can do is to make room for just one more. There are so many lovely cats who wind up in shelters and who need good homes. The Hancock County Animal Shelter Facebook page lists available cats and kittens. Like this one!
Thank you for reading my first column. I think I need a sign-off, so here goes:
Love is all there is — spread it everywhere!
Take Joy! The Little Things Count
Small things can work big wonders with your brain chemistry - and your state of mind.
- by Christina Richardson, PhD
Every morning I take joy in the reading of the day. I am writing this on March 13. Today’s entry is as follows:
In 16th-century England, water was too dangerous to drink and Queen Elizabeth I had beer or wine with breakfast. Even wine could be tainted and the favorite remedy was to float a piece of spiced breads in the cup to improve the flavor, as well as provide a bit of nourishment. Raising the glass eventually came to be named for the bread: a toast.
What fun — I get a smile first thing, and I learn something I could talk about today if the opportunity presented itself, too.
I believe it was that great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, who was able to bring joy to every experience.
I get joy from reading almost anything by Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers was the host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. This quote by Fred Rogers makes my day. It also reminds me of how I can make someone else’s day a little better.
If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet, how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.
As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time. It is our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression
Robert Fulghum is famous for his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I have a copy of the things “he learned” in my billfold.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life: learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned — the biggest word of all — LOOK.
Finding joy every day through little pleasures may be a challenge at the beginning, but it will become increasingly easy and a habit. It makes the dark clouds go away and lets the sunshine in.
Every Day a Poem
During National Poetry Month, take a news break and immerse yourself in the power of poems. You may not want the month to end.
- by Carole McKellar
Looking through an old notebook recently, I found the following excerpt from a speech delivered at Amherst College on October 26, 1963 by President John F. Kennedy for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Robert Frost Library. He was assassinated 27 days later. I was again struck by his eloquence on the power of poetry.
When power leads men toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his
limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry
reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power
corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth
which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
Knowledge of poetic forms is helpful but not essential to enjoy poetry. Poems frequently contain metaphors, similes, and personification. Remember those terms from freshman English? The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org) features a glossary of poetic terms with example poems.
Rhythm brings poems closer to song than other literary forms, which explains why some poems are best read aloud. Often the rhythm of a poem is arranged in a particular meter. In English, poetry often uses rhyme, but this is by no means universal. Rhythm and rhyme patterns make it difficult to translate from one language to another.
Poetry is no less an art because of its brevity. In fact, I would argue the opposite. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in a letter to a friend about the length of a story, “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” Poets’ skill in saying the most with few words is exemplified by the following verse from Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”:
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
The poet Andrew Motion, poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009, said in Johns Hopkins Magazine that he wants to write poems that “look like a glass of water but turn out to be gin.”
Derek Walcott, a Nobel Prize winning poet, died on March 17, 2017 at the age of 87. I read about his death while writing this article. He was born on the island of St. Lucia, and he divided his time between the United States and his Caribbean home.
His poetry is known for its musicality and visual imagery. His obituary in the New York Times included this excerpt of the poem “Islands” from the collection In a Green Night that exemplifies these traits in his poetry:
As climate seeks its style
Verse crisp as sand, clear as sunlight,
Cold as the curled wave, ordinary
As a tumbler of island water.
The Academy of American Poets, creator of National Poetry Month, lists 30 ways to celebrate the event on their website. Three of their suggested items on my to-do list are: 1) buy a book of poetry at my local independent bookstore, 2) memorize a poem, and 3) read a poem every day of the month.
One of my favorite events is National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27, 2017. Simply carry copies of your favorite poems and share them with family, friends, or strangers.
The Thrill of the Hunt:
In the last few months we covered how and why to shop thrift, vintage, resale shops and discount stores. This month, we're stepping up to boutiques.
One could argue that big department stores and multi-store retailers such as J Crew and Banana Republic carry so much inventory that their end-of-the-season sales make this the go-to shopping default.
I, however, disagree, and would prefer to go boutique shopping any day of the week. With boutiques, you're enjoying locally owned shops that in most cases are specializing in certain genres or styles that are currently in fashion and not found everywhere else. And to top it off, the customer service is amazing.
Fridays during Lent can mean limited meal choices for those who abide by the no-meat-on-Friday practice.
But fortunately in our coastal community, fresh seafood is a blessing in abundance for those who want to put fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs and crawfish into the meal rotation.
And to take our lucky circumstance one step further, members of several local churches do the cooking and cleanup for you for lunch and dinner on Lenten Fridays as a way to raise funds.
As we wind down this Lenten season, you still have a few chances to enjoy some of the delicious and generous meals made and served by teams of volunteers at the parishes.
St. Clare Parish in Waveland won’t be serving dinner on Good Friday, so you have just one more Friday (April 7th) available from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to enjoy what amounts to a full menu.
The $10 plates include fried fish, shrimp or oysters or a combo with sides; grilled shrimp or fish with sides including seafood gumbo, potato salad and bread; or grilled shrimp or fish salad or crawfish Monica with salad. Sides include french fries, potato salad, mac & cheese and coleslaw. Soft drinks and desserts are just $1 each.
Over the past twenty years, the monthly artwalk has become one of the most popular events in the region. Old Town stays lively all day, with many merchants and restaurants offering specials.
The pace picks up from 4 – 8pm, when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Make sure to visit Hot Spot businesses Art, Collectibles & Antiques (442 Main Street) and Gourmet Galley (111 Main Street).
The Second Saturday column
I blame it on Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. As a child, I loved reading about these smart, capable girls who solved mysteries. While in college, I bought, read, and reread a two-volume set of “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I developed a lifelong love of the mystery genre and have read from every category of mystery fiction.
Edgar Allan Poe is credited with writing the first detective story, “The Murders of the Rue Morgue.” Published in 1841, Poe introduced the first fictional detective, Auguste C. Dupin. In 1868, Wilkie Collins wrote the first full-length detective novel, “The Moonstone.” Sherlock Holmes appeared in 1887 with “A Study in Scarlet.” Holmes, with his brilliant mind and deductive powers, was an immediate success.
Across The Bridge
At Home In The Bay
Coast Lines Column
Friends Of The Animal Shelter
Growing Up Downtown
House And Garden
Old Town Merchants
On The Shoofly
Puppy Dog Tales
Station House BSL
Talk Of The Town
Wines And Dining