The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, April 26, 2010


The yard is full of blooming irises. This is their best year, as last year I dug many of them up and divided and replanted them, and they seem to have appreciated the attention.

Here's the Goo Goo Dolls and their song Iris from City of Angels

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bad news for Bessemer

OK, after a couple of good news stories about the Marvel City, some bad news.

Actually one bad news, and one odd, and sort of bad story.

The bad news is that regional planners want to remove the "Western leg" of the Northern Beltline from the plans. That would put off completion of the beltway for more than 25 years.

They think that Trussville and Gardendale are more important than Bessemer, and would end the roadway at Hwy 78 in Graysville.

I wonder what our city leaders think about that.

The project has always been referred to as the "Northern Beltline" and this is the first I have heard of it having a "leg" that could be amputated.

More planners channeling Bettye Fine Collins' misunderstanding of the importance of the Bessemer cutoff is what it is.

The other story is this "altar call" at Bessemer City High School during school time at an assembly. The assembly had a good purpose, it was the second annual Young Men's Conference, and included discussion on safe sex as well as abstinence, self respect and acceptable behavior.

But when social studies teacher Tarus Lyons asked the guys if they had done anything wrong in their lives and to come to the front things began to sound a little "revivalish".

And by the time school counselor Rick Owens led them a prayer seeking forgiveness and said JC was the only way to salvation, things had gone a little bit too far.

I am a little bit confused by principal Jerome Cook's explanation that the assembly was "required" but that attendance was "voluntary."

I think Bessemer City High officials have learned from the experience. The principal also said that part two of the conference would not feature a prayer.

But, can you say ACLU?

Here's the unofficial video to Airplanes by Local Natives.

And here is the official one. Both are good, but which do you like best?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My video

Many of you are curious about my book, but without being able to read the back cover, or hold it in your hands, are not sure about it.

This will convince you. I made a video with information about the book, and the words from the back cover for you to read. Plus, there's a catchy song by Annie Laurie, "It Hurts to be in Love," from 1958.

My book is Those Others and this is my video. you can order it from that link or on Amazon, or purchase at Eclipse Coffee and Books in Montevallo.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I learned from Martha

Martha Stewart, that is.

Rhubarb. It's not red celery.

It's a perennial. The leaves contain a toxic substance, oxalic acid.

But the stalks (the petioles of the leaves) are edible, and can be made in to cakes, pies, custards and chutney.

I made a Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.

Here it is right side up, I guess, as it came out of the oven.

And here it is upside down. I had this for breakfast with fresh hot coffee and it was good, in spite of the appearance.

So, I'm thinking of adding some rhubarb to the garden. Do any of Bessemer Opinion's readers have experience growing Rhubarb? Or favorite recipes to share?

You can catch me at Eclipse Coffee in Montevallo tonight signing copies of my book, and there you will get to see the premiere of the video I created to promote Those Others.

Here is V.V.Brown singing "Shark in the Water" on the Ellen show earlier this month. Forward to the 1:15 mark in the video to skip the ad and such.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More good news for Bessemer, and Discovery landing

Bessemer's unemployment rate dropped to 14.9% in March from February's rate of 15.3%. Currently 1,503 people remain unemployed.

Jefferson Traywick, Manager of Parks and Properties for the Bessemer Industrial Development Board said that more businesses are looking to relocate or expand their businesses and are beginning to return to their former shift schedules, thus putting more people to work. He said he expects to see continued minor decreases in the local unemployment rate.

Bessemer's Industrial Development Board is the city's leading economic development entity. Rrom help with finding a site for a business project to providing direct financial assistance, the Board has been able to serve over 800 business clients since the mid-1980s alone.

Additional information on the capabilities of the Board can be found at

I just enjoyed hearing (and feeling) the sonic boom as Discovery raced over head to a landing in Florida.

If you missed the sonic booms, here they are, in this video of the landing. The sonic booms are at 3:11 in this video.

Welcome home, Discovery!

And for entertainment, here's a video of indies Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard performing "These Roads Don't Move."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bessemer gets some good news

Jefferson County Commission president Bettye Fine Collins said that the new Jefferson County Courthouse in Bessemer will open in June. The building was completed last year but has sat empty because the county couldn't afford to staff it and run the operations there.

Now Collins says opening the courthouse is "prudent" because taxpayers are paying $5 million a year in debt service on the building.

"We've built that edifice out there..."

Let's not forget she was against building the courthouse in the first place and in 2006 said: (Much of this comes from a previous Bessemer Opinions post).

''Is Bessemer growing residentially that it needs to serve more people? No,'' Collins said. ''We've got a courthouse satellite in Forestdale, we've got one in Center Point, we've got one in Homewood and now one in Gardendale. Why in the world are we building a $100 million deal in Bessemer?''

I wrote a letter that was printed in the Birmingham News that pointed out that she didn’t understand the history or the importance of the Bessemer Cutoff and the courthouse, and invited her to come visit Bessemer and learn about us. I mentioned that historic neighborhoods are being restored, plans are in place to revitalize downtown, our public education is improving, and new families are moving to Bessemer. (All of that was true in 2007, still true in 2010).

She took my advice, and showed up for the groundbreaking in April 2007, saying, "Bessemer has a rich and wonderful history. This groundbreaking helps the resurgence of downtown and reflects the renewal going on all over the city.”

At any rate, we welcome the news that the courthouse will open, and with the new DHR building groundbreaking scheduled to take place next month just a couple of blocks away, it looks like the south downtown area of Bessemer will lead the way in the revitalization of downtown.

Look for a new coffee shop and a restaurant to open in the area in the next year. Oh, that's just a wish, sorry. But maybe it will give someone an idea.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Our backyard is an oasis.


I don't look at Bessemer as a suburb of Birmingham. It is an urban city, with the same opportunities that other urban communities have. In fact, more opportunities.

But it also has the same problems many urban communities have. A neglected and deteriorating downtown. Lack of leadership. Missed opportunity. Perceived and actual crime. Traffic. Noise.

But we have a place to retreat to, where the hustle and bustle of Bessemer and the street noise and sirens can be forgotten.

Our sanctuary. Our oasis. Our backyard.

This pergola is covered with half a dozen antique climbing roses that will be exploding in color and scent over the next few weeks.

But already, this rose, known as Mermaid, which actually towers in a nearby magnolia tree, has sent a cane down to the pergola from above, and allowed a bud to open early. Mermaid's canes can grow 40 feet or more, and this specimen does not disappoint.

Even at night there is beauty (and I need a tripod to get better pictures).

This Flame Azalea, a native, deciduous azalea, is a spring favorite, but was almost overtaken by weedy vines and had to be rescued.

Spring bulbs are still coming into play, as these yellow irises opened yesterday.

Sweet Shrub is a childhood favorite, one of the shrubs that grew in the woods near my Vestavia home, and that my dad pointed out to me. It does have a pleasant scent, that's for sure.

The Lady Banks Rose is in its full splendor, and this is not all of it. A cane from this climber has travelled about 50 feet up into a nearby cedar tree and is blooming now also. What a surprise to look high op in a cedar tree and see yellow rose blooms!

Columbine. These perennials have sowed their seeds all over the place, and this is the result.

Most of the pesky Wisteria that we have is the familiar purple, but this vine has white flowers.

If you need respite from your busy life, come pay us a visit, and relax for a while in the Oasis we call our backyard. Just give me a call or send a message. A cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a hundred different birds and the floral scents will let you forget your troubles, if only for a while.

This is a good weekend for gardeners. Petals from the Past in Jemison is holding their Antiques in the Garden event.

The weekend event you have been waiting for has arrived. Our annual Antiques in the Garden event will be April 16 and 17. Shop the many antique and craft vendors we have joining us this year. There will also be food vendors and Southern Sweets will be serving lunch in our educational barn. We are looking forward to seeing you this year.

Closer to home, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens annual plant sale takes place at Brookwood Village near the old Bruno's.

Today's the big day for the 2010 Spring Plant Sale! The Preview Party is today from 5-6:30 p.m. & tickets are $45 now/$50 at the door! The Members-Only Sale (free for members) is from 6:30-8:30 tonight...if you aren't a member or you were but need to renew, come on anyway, you can join or renew right there... at the door! The doors open to the public Friday morning at 9 a.m.! See you there everyone!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Catching up on the craziness

There is so much craziness going on, and all of it seems to be coming from the Party of No, at various levels.

The picture is not of Republican crazies, more on this group later.

First, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed a bill that restricts abortion to less than 20 weeks based on the assertion that fetuses feel pain after that.

Based on that logic, shouldn't he also be signing a bill that bans circumcision? I'm just askin'.


Hillary Clinton's name is being tossed around as a possible nominee to SCOTUS to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. A Republican friend of mine is promoting a conservative Internet "poll" which so far has 91% of respondents voting "no" to the possibility of a Clinton appointment. I would love to see Secretary Clinton appointed.

Also a lot of talk is being generated about Obama has to pick a "mainstream" nominee. What in the world does that mean? Republicans want a a progressive president to pick a conservative Supreme Court Justice. Ha! Obama could pick Mother Teresa (were she still alive) and Republicans would fight the nomination. So, President, pick whoever you want, because you are going to get a fight anyway, so you might as well fight for someone that fires up your base.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want the big banks to fail. In fact, he says we can't get out of this recession until they do.

Not only is the GOP the Party of No, they are the Party of Fail. Rush Limbaugh wants the president and the country to fail, now their senate leader is wanting the banks to fail.

Sorry, Mitch, but the President's plan (that rescued us from economic meltdown) is working. I hate to get all "economics" on you (maybe in a later post), but we need to be hoping for the banks to succeed, just as we need to be hoping for small businesses to succeed.


And John McCain. What can I say? He is just a poor old man that should have quit while he was ahead. Americans used to love and respect him. Many Democrats and independents supported his presidential bid in 2000. You know, when he was making his name known as a maverick.
Now he has just gone Borneo it seems (that's an old college phrase for "whacko").


Speaking of old college days and such, I'm sure glad that there are still some hippies entertaining us.

Enjoy this video by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bible and Homosexuality: Part 4 Jesus and the Centurion

This is the fourth and final segment in my series on homosexuality and the Bible. The series is in response to questions raised by a letter writer in the Western Tribune.

Read part 1 (Leviticus) here Part 1

Read part 2 (Romans) here Part 2

Read part 3 (Jonathan and David)here. Part 3

This is the fourth in my series on homosexuality and the Bible.

In the New Testament Jesus himself affirms a same-sex relationship in the story of the centurion coming to Jesus and pleading for his servant’s healing, a familiar story.

Jesus offers to come to the centurion’s house but the soldier refuses, saying that all Jesus needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. The story is told in Matthew 8 and Luke 7.

The Greek word used in this story is pais, which could have three meanings depending on the context in which it was used. It could mean "son" or "boy", it could mean "servant", or it could mean a particular type of servant who was his "master’s male lover". Servants were often purchased to fulfill that role, and the term pais sometimes describes that type of servant.

Why would we think that pais has this meaning in this passage? Look at the passage in Luke. In Luke the one who was sick is described as an entimos duolos.

Duolos is a generic term for a slave, and was never used to describe a son or a boy, so we can rule that out.

Entimos means “honored,” so this was no ordinary slave, so we can rule that out.

That leaves only the “male lover” interpretation for the word pais used in Matthew.

Further, in Matthew, when speaking of his ordinary slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos, but when speaking of the sick person he uses pais, again leaving the only definition that fits, that is, the “master’s male lover”.

Jesus did not use the example of the centurion and his sick lover as an example of God’s judgment on their relationship, rather he healed the man’s lover and then held the centurion up as an example of a man of great faith, the type of faith we should all aspire to.

In writing this series, I realized that there would be some who would argue that I am merely misinterpreting the passages to fit my agenda and I admit that it is impossible for me or anyone else to know precisely the intent of each word in a 2000 year old manuscript that has gone through multiple translations. But as I combine biblical interpretation with history and science I see no other way to interpret it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Purple House Parade

Sunday in East Lake the Purple House Parade will showcase homes for sale. In each home will be artists, writers and musicians displaying their talents and entertaining.

I will be at 804 86th Pl S along with artists Ted Openshaw and Lisa Nuby. This flyer lists the various properties and artists and musicians. I will have my book, Those Others: Navigating the "Riddle of Homosexuality" in 1965 available.
Click on the picture and it will enlarge and be easier to read.

The weather will be beautiful so come on out and check out the art and the book and the homes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coming out. Justin. Ricky.

"Only you will know when the time is right."

Those were the words heard by Justin as he was contemplating coming out last night on Ugly Betty. Of course, everybody else knew he was gay already, and was accepting, but he had to accept himself.

He was finally convinced that he had nothing to worry about, and that, yes, everything would change, but the change would be for the better.

So he took Austin's hand and led him to the dance floor.

Watch the entire wedding scene here.


Likewise, singer Ricky Martin took the same step last week, realizing the importance to be honest with himself and his kids, a familiar story if I do say so myself.

These two examples, one a fictional character and the other a heartthrob to millions; one a teen in today's world surrounded by the fashion industry, the other a bit older but having grown up in a culture and time when being gay was not so accepted - both show what all gay people have to go through. Accepting one's self, admitting that one is different, is no easy task.

People of my generation often speak of how "easy" young people today have it.

But if that were so, why do gay kids, or kids accused of being gay, still kill themselves, a scenario (true) powerfully told in the movie, Prayers for Bobby?

Why do gay youth, or kids perceived to be gay, still get beat up and/or killed?

Why do gay teens, upon telling their parents they are gay, still get kicked out of their homes?

It is never easy. One never knows what the immediate and distant future will bring.

But, one can be assured that accepting the fact that you are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender, will give you an immediate sense of relief, and is the first step in developing the confidence you will need to deal with whatever follows.

Enjoy some Ricky.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Farmers Market comes to Bessemer

We've been waiting for this.

A farmer's market in Bessemer!

Located at Watermark Place, the Watermark Place Farmer's Market will be open every Saturday from 7:00 am til noon, beginning June 5, and running through August (final date to be determined).

More details will be announced later, but this is a done deal.

Under the guidance of the State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority ,a first class market is being developed.

Only producers will sell at this market. None of that not so fresh, resold stuff you might find elsewhere.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, honey, eggs, are among the produce expected to be available.

For more information contact me (I am on the steering committee) and I will put you in touch with the Farmers Market manager or the person at Watermark you need to speak with.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring has arrived

Last week I posted some photographs of pre-Easter beauty in our yard. Now it's post-Easter, and here are how some of those plants, plus a few others, are coming along.

I love our backyard.

First, though, I feel that the first review of a work of art, be it visual art or literature or music, is the most important, at least to the artist. Here is the first review by a reader of Those Others. From that link you can navigate to buy it.

And, I had a letter published in the Birmingham News. Just trying to educate the people of Birmingham. Mine is the second letter on this page, but the first letter is worth reading too.

Here's that tulip that was just a tight bud last week.

Columbine. Its tall spindly stalks wave in the slightest breeze.

This iris has such deep, rich color. A yearly favorite.

This is a type of fritillaria, a newcomer to our garden. Sorry this picture is a little out of focus. I'll try to get a better one.

The Japanese maple shadowing the waterless pond. The Japanese garden is going to grow a little this summer, I believe. See that little evergreen shrub to the left? I am going to expand the Japanese garden area to incorporate that. There's also a crepe myrtle with some lilies that will be a part. More pics on that as it comes to be.

Wisteria. Why does it have to be such a pest?

The Lady Banks Rose is still not at its peak, but it's getting there.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter, Spring wishes

Today is Good Friday and this is the most Holy Week for most Christians.

It's hard to take Christianity seriously, however (even for a Christian), when the leader of the largest Christian body is under fire for being an enabler of pedophiles and another high profile Christian is getting court approval for disrupting the funeral services of U. S. service members because of his misguided homophobia.

So my Easter message is just one about hope and renewal. From nature. From my backyard. Each of these pictures was taken yesterday. Within a few days all of these plants will look different.

Here are the "fiddle heads" of a Christmas fern.

Hostas quickly springing up.

The tips of columbine, one of my favorites, you know if you have followed this blog each spring.

A tulip, lagging behind the rest of its brethren.

A Japanese maple. It sits at the edge of my waterless pond in my tiny Japanese garden.

This Lady Banks rose will have thousands of yellow blooms next week. I think it likes the bamboo structure I built to hold it up, but the structure will need reinforcement this year.

Next week wisteria will be blooming all over this place. I love it for two weeks out of the year. I battle it for 50 weeks out of the year.

This is a sassafras bud. Next week it will have odd little flowers and later the mitten like leaves.

So, celebrate Spring. Celebrate Easter. Celebrate renewal in your life, your relationships, your health, your surroundings. Let this be the beginning of a year in which we see the fruits of the hope we have been anticipating during the previous year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Bible and Homsexuality, Part Three

This is part three of my series, which would have appeared in the Western Tribune, but...

You can read part two (Romans) here and part one (Leviticus) here.

Most of this information, in a little greater detail comes from my previous post, which includes an explanation of the phrase "until David exceeded." It doesn't hurt for people to read it again.

This is part three in my series on homosexuality and the Bible. I was also asked to show where homosexual relationships are mentioned in an affirming way.

In both the Old Testament and the New Testament there are passages where same sex relationships are affirmed. In the Old Testament, the story of Jonathan and David is such an example.

"When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt." 1Samuel 18:1-4.

This was pretty much love at first sight. Brotherly love does not lead a man to get naked and offer his most personal possessions, the symbols of his manhood, to another man, but that is what Jonathan did here.

Jonathan's father, King Saul, was not happy about the relationship. In 1Samuel 20:30 we read that Saul was furious that his son had chosen David as his lover. Saul told Jonathan that he could not produce an heir to the throne and could not claim the kingship.

"...they kissed each other and wept with one another; until David exceeded. Then Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying "The Lord shall be between me and you, and my descendants and your descendants, forever."' He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city." 1 Samuel 20: 41-42.

Again, clearly the association between Jonathan and David goes beyond what is expected from heterosexual males. They knew they would not see one another again, and this is the parting of doomed lovers, so to speak. Yet they made a bond that would last through all generations.

After Jonathan's death, David wrote a song while mourning, in which he says:

"I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan;Greatly beloved were you to me;your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." 2 Samuel: 1: 26

I have not known a heterosexual man to proclaim that his love for another man was greater than his love for a woman.

This is an example, in the Bible, of two men in a loving, sexual relationship, and the Bible celebrates that love in David’s song.

Next: Jesus and the centurion