Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Leave It To A Woman

One of the good things about being "a little older" is that I'm not quite so shy. It used to be painful, literally, for me to talk to people I didn't know. Now, I figure, what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained. This new found confidence came in handy recently. 

A little background:

For the last year we've had a trad music session going here in Birmingham, yes, here, in Birmingham, Alabama. It was loosely organized by members of what is known as the Birmingham Celtic Mafia

The session somehow landed at the newly opened Sipsey Tavern and has been there since. The folks there always make us welcome and it's got a real pub atmosphere and even an Irish barman. There are a couple of drawbacks though, one is the cigarette smoke, another is that they don't serve food. 

The food issue, we can get around since several restaurants in the area will deliver to Sipsey. That leaves the smoke. Several of us who are "a little older" have physical issues with it. The session is fun, but is it worth having a headache for two days afterward? 

What we need is an additonal venue. Enter, Beef O'Brady's. Yeah, it's kind of a goofy name, not as cool as Sipsey Tavern, but it's smoke free and they are a bar/restaurant so there is food. There is also a patio out front for those who do want to ruin their lungs, I mean smoke, and it's a family friendly place.  That means we can have a slow session for those, young and old, who want to learn tunes by ear, the traditional way. 

Well, everybody kept saying, "We need to talk to them at Beef O' Brady's," over and over and over again. So, today, I went, ordered lunch and talked to the owner about having a session there. He was open to the idea since somebody had already laid the groundwork, but it took somebody actually going there to nail down a time and other details. 

Today, that person was me. I didn't ask anybody if I could do it, I didn't hesitate, I didn't get nervous, I wasn't the least bit anxious. It felt really good to come home and tell The Music Man, "We'll be having a session at Beef O'Brady's on the tenth of April." After he picked his jaw up from the floor, he laughed and shook his head.

The young guys in the Celtic Mafia got the ball rolling but leave it to an older woman to keep it going.

We'll meet at Beef O'Brady's at The Grove in Hoover on Sunday 10 April from 2-5. There will be a slow session from 2-3,bring your instrument and a recording device. No drums at the slow session, please. For more info go here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kidnapping Mother

My parents started taking care of my sister, Tracy, a couple of months after her stroke in late August 2010. In all that time, they’ve only gone out twice that I know of. Once to have dinner with some neighbors and a few weeks later, to have dinner at P. F. Chang’s. I stayed with Tracy both times. 

Last week, Tracy had a physical therapy appointment and my mother stayed home to get the taxes ready for the accountant. Daddy took her to physical therapy by himself. So, armed with that knowledge, on Tuesday, I arranged to kidnap my mother and take her to lunch!

Hi Mom!

The Girl is going to the Jeff State Culinary School and works in their Bistro Provare on Tuesday and Thursday. I’d never been there myself, so that’s where we went.

It has the casual elegance of a French Bistro, not that I’ve ever been in one. But, it’s what I imagine it to be like. There are white linen table cloths, covered with white paper. The menu changes from week to week but they always have salads, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees and pizza, oh and of course, dessert.  

Mom ordered a chicken salad sandwich and I got the Provare Burger. Both came with the choice of fresh fruit or truffle scented fries. We both opted for the fries, I’m afraid. They were freshly cut and had just a slight earthy hint of truffles. 

For dessert we both got the Tiramisu. It was delicious but I just couldn’t finish mine. Next time, we’ll split one!

Next week it's Daddy's turn to be kidnapped.

Bistro Provare is open for Spring Semester from 19 January until 29 April, Monday - Thursday, 11:30 - 1:00.

You can call (205) 983-5214 for reservations, but we didn't have one and were seated right away. You can check out the daily menu specials here. 

They follow Jeff State school holidays and weather schedule (so don't make plans to go if there is a tornado warning or a snow storm).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Paddy's WEEK?

Photo by Tara Merryman

This year, we are celebrating all things Irish for the entire week before St. Patrick's Day. I guess since the day itself falls in that holiday netherworld of mid-week. The festivities began the Saturday before with a parade starting downtown and ending just above Five Points South.

Bands played and dancers of all ages danced. 

 The Birmingham Irish Set Dancers. Couples from left, around to the right are:
Karen Cunningham and Ralph Crowe, Andrew Yeager and Renee Gainer, 
Eve and Gordon Graham, Roberta Stamp and Mary Bergeron.

Jasper Coal played around the corner at Sipsey Tavern then downtown at Mathew's Bar and Grill. And that was just Saturday.

Jasper Coal and the dancers from Alabama Academy of Irish Dance 
heat up the afternoon with a set of polkas. 
Ian Hoppe (yeah he's mine) on guitar
and Ryan Morrison on Highland Bagpipes. 

On Sunday, The Music Man briefly reverted to The Hunter and went south to take down his deer stands. I went to a concert by the Mairtian de Coigan Project. Roberta, Renee, Molly and I got up and danced a half set or two.

I was too busy dancing to take any pictures.

On Tuesday The Music Man and I went our separate ways, just for musical purposes. He played some chunes with his friends Jil Chambless, Dan Vogt and Kevin Nicholson, collectively known at The Vulcan Eejits down at Sipsey Tavern while I stayed closer to home and did some drumming and dancing with our old band mates, now called Hooley.

 Drumming with my old bandmates,
Me, Paul Merryman, Darcy Jones and Trent Bradford.
Thanks to Tara Merryman for the photo.

Today and tonight are a brief sea of tranquility in the madness but it will all start again tomorrow on the actual day of the holiday. The Music Man heads to Auburn to play at The Olde Auburn Alehouse with another former band mate, Scott, Miller and singer Joe Bagley. Again, I'm staying closer to home and performing with the Birmingham Irish Set Dancers at Greenbriar at Altamont retirement community. By that time I may feel like retiring!

Then again, Jasper Coal is playing at Mathew's. 
I might have to drop by for a pint.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That’s All It Took

Most days I’m fine with being an empty nester. Today ended up not being one of those. First, my cousin Jody posted this on Facebook:

♥ To my children, I've made mistakes, sometimes more than I would like to admit, being a Mom. But I will always be there for you, to hear you, to cheer you, to laugh or cry with you, to protect you with my life, and to love you for eternity with all my heart! No one will ever love you more than I do, I'm your Mom!

Then, when I went to The Pig to get something for dinner, I saw a woman walking into the store with a blond headed toddler boy on one hip and a dark haired baby girl on the other. All I can say is, I’m glad I was already in the car. I cried all the way home. 

When the kids were with me I knew what I was supposed to be doing, what my purpose was. Them. These days it’s not quite so clear. Both of my kids are intelligent, hard-working, responsible young adults and I marvel at them. 

I wouldn’t change things for world, but I do sometimes miss being Mommy.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Ladies Who Brunch

One of the fun things about having an empty nest is going out to eat at places that don't serve french fries. My friend Renee told me about Trattoria Centrale when I saw her last Wednesday. Since the Music Man is out in Dallas at the North Texas Irish Festival this weekend we planned to meet here for Sunday Brunch. She brought her mother and another friend, Emily along with her. 

It was quite an adventure for me since it's downtown Birmingham. I felt rather sophisticated saying I was meeting friends downtown for brunch.

This was also adventure eating for me. I know some people eat all kinds of strange and wonderful combinations of gourmet type food, but I don't think I'd have ever thought of putting biscuits and sausage gravy on the same plate as mixed greens with Italian dressing. 

I had fried eggs with salsa rosso over sausage corn bread. It was yummy.


Renee had a frittata with goat cheese, bacon, grits and fresh fruit. I don't think I've ever eaten goat cheese but it was good in this.



Trattoria Centrale is located at 207 20th Street, North in Birmingham, Alabama. There is an outside seating area, but the inside dining area is tiny so be prepared for that if you go at night or during cold weather.

Emily, Edna and Renee. The ladies who brunch.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Spring Fever

Nothing says Spring like daffodils. Our neighborhood is also home to countless Bradford Pear trees. This morning when I left to drive the bus they were practically unnoticed. When I went back this afternoon it looked like a popcorn machine had run amok down the street.

Somehow, I never really got into Spring when the kids were here. That time of year, we'd be gearing up for baseball season or thinking about what to do for summer vacation. It was a good time of the year, though it was always busy. 

Occasionally, I could get The Girl to plant bulbs with me, and she did help  plant some Shasta Daisies in a perennial bed the year after her paternal grandmother died. Shasta Daisies were her favorite flowers and I have to admit they are right up there on the top of my list, too. Those daisies are still growing right where we planted them. I don't know if my daughter remembers helping me or not, or if it was just another chore I asked her to do. Sigh.

Another garden project for the near future, like this weekend, is to plant some potatoes. Last year, I got two potato grow bags from Gardeners Supply, (http://www.gardeners.com/ Look on the vegetable gardening page) and just used some russet potatoes from the grocery store. This year I didn't make that mistake and bought some seed potatoes from Lowe's nursery. Today I learned not to plant them until Good Friday. Hmmm, I wonder if they'll keep that long. I may just have to put them in and hope for the best. 

Yes, those are purple potatoes.

Of course, The Music Man has decided to go on the Atkins Diet and won't eat potatoes.