Things I like about Alabama

(I suppose including all of Alabama in this isn’t really fair, since I’ve only seen a little tiny bit of it, but oh well. It’s really probably all this pretty. )

1. Live Oaks.


I know, I know. Everybody who lives near me is saying “live oak? What are our plain old oaks then? Dead Oaks?”, but it turns out that they are called Live Oaks because they don’t lose their leaves in the winter. (Or what passes for a winter here.) They are the most graceful and beautiful thing. I love them.

2. The Alabama coast.


I know, I know. Everybody who lives near me is saying “Alabama has a coast?” and it sure does. You just really have to squint at the map to see it. There’s one little bit there on the left that runs down to the water and Mobile Bay, and that’s where I was. It’s lovely. Very lovely.

3. There are rocking chairs and swinging chairs all over the place, exactly like everyone expects you to sit down.


4. It is warm. I understand that this is a regular occurrence.

5. It is very bright and pretty and green and there are lots of flowers. (I have had it explained to me that this is the case – unbelievably, for much of the year. Even February. For all us Canadians who are just about to come up to their safe planting date, know that in Mobile, Alabama it is FEBRUARY 27TH. I can’t even think of it.)


5. Pelicans. (I have no picture, but they are cool. I think one of them has been following me.)

6. Spanish moss. (It isn’t dead. That’s the colour of it.) It drips from trees everywhere here.


7. The concept and largely successful execution of “Dress shorts”.

8. Knitters, and Page and Palette bookstore.

(click to embiggen)


This was a really nice gathering. It moved along at a bit of a breakneck speed because the shop closed at 8:00, but we made absolutely the most of it. This is Dianne R – who brought me a fantastic Mississippi washcloth, and who has fallen victim to my camera viewfinder issue and appears here really far left.


Meet Susan and her first sock, and Amanda and the Mardi Gras yarn that she dyed for me, because she convinced me that Mobile Alabama is the oldest Mardi Gras celebration.

Click to embiggen


This is Martha, who put a lovely review of my book on Amazon a long time ago (I have read it many times and have always felt that Martha is on my side.)


Finally – this is Ann Marie, and when it was her turn to have me sign her book, she held out a personalized pencil so I could see how to spell it.


This alone would have been the cutest thing ever, except that Ann Marie went on to explain that when she was in the third grade, her mother (clearly overexcited for a moment) ordered five hundred (yup. 500) personalized pencils. Ann Marie (and her family, friends, colleagues, associates, acquaintances) have all been using the little Ann Marie pencils for years… with no end in sight. She’s in Nursing school now, and still entirely beset by Ann Marie pencils. I love that. I don’t know why, but I love it. It speaks to a maternal affection that I can’t quite describe, but adore. 500 pencils with your name on it. That’s love.

There’s much more to love about Alabama, I’m sure, but I wasn’t there long enough to get a handle on it. I’m writing this from a plane- winging my way back home to Toronto, looking forward to getting there. I missed Victoria Day while I was gone, and I missed everyone a lot this go ’round. I can’t wait to get there.

I’ll miss my pelican though.

(PS. I think I am taking some pretty awesome pictures, broken screen considered.)

(PPS. Landed last night, after a delay in Mobile and a really quick plane change in Atlanta, and discovered that I have no baggage. Thanks Mercury.)

172 thoughts on “Things I like about Alabama

  1. Anyone else have the urge to order 500 personalized pencils for their kiddos? Or, am I the only one here that’s THAT nutty? Stephanie, your blog gives me such crazy/incredible ideas! LOL!

  2. I was stationed at Redstone Arsenal, and I loved using my little bits of free time to wander around and take in the scenery. A gorgeous state with some really nice people.
    And yes, pelicans ARE cool!

  3. I was first! I didn’t want to mention it in case someone beat me to clicking the “post” button. :o)

  4. Why does the fact that you have no luggage even suprise anyone? With what has been going on with you this week. Hope it finds you soon.

  5. Great job on your blog. We certainly enjoyed having you in our neighborhood.

  6. love amanda’s mardi-gras yarn!!!!
    watching a pelican fly is an amazing display.

  7. Ahh, yes Live Oaks. I gawked at them everywhere in Louisiana. I photographed them, I drew them, I loved them.
    The food is great, too. I wasn’t yarn obsessed the last time I visited, but I’m sure the knitters and the yarn shops are wonderful too. Probably not too much wool, though, right?

  8. I’m so glad you got to see how entrancingly beautiful the deep south can be in the spring. Now imagine yourself in August on that porch swing with a glass of iced sweet tea and a fan. You start to sweat if you move your little finger… there is no knitting with wool from May until November in Mobile.

  9. I LOVE live oak trees. To me, they look like jade plants (crassula) only larger. My favorite motel in the whole wide world, Edward’s of Ocracoke (NC), and one in the courtyard that shades the whole thing.
    And brown pelicans? Love them too. They look so ungainly and awkward perched on a piling, but they are quite sleek when they dive after fish!

  10. Your pictures made me so homesick. I’m not from Alabama, I’m from Texas but my neck of the woods is filled with live oak and mesquite.
    I envy you travels, Mercury notwithstanding.

  11. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have learned from your blog why they are called Live Oaks!! I have lived around them my whole life and always had that same “what, are the other ones dead??” question!!!! Not only fun, but educational!

  12. Alabama is a wonderful place. Have you ever heard that Shelby Lynne song “Where I’m From?” It’s the most gorgeous song about Alabama ever.

  13. You were at the Grand Hotel on Point Clear? Clearly, you are an Important Author, a VIP of the very first order. No wonder the pelican was following you – he was probably paparazzi in disguise!
    My husband took me there for our anniversary one year in January, and I think I have some lovely pictures of the flowers there.

  14. So glad you enjoyed your visit to our state — there are even more beautiful things to see! I love it when I’ve flown in from another region and see Alabama from the air because it’s so green and lovely. I wish I could have joined you at the beach this week, but I’m glad you got to enjoy it. Have fun with your family!

  15. I wish I could have made it to the event, but life was conspiring against me.
    I’m a transplant to Mobile, Alabama and my list of what I like about it is very similar to yours! It’s kind of a tough place to be vegetarian, though…

  16. Haha, I thought of you yesterday as I was having some Mercury moments myself (fortunately I wasn’t on a plane) and got lost on the way from the chiropractor and on my way to the gym (both are within a 10 minute drive of my house). Good luck getting your luggage back! Also, do you know when this retrograde will end? I think we’ll all breathe a little easier.

  17. I made it onto your blog! My .15 milliseconds of fame…you make L.A. (Lower Alabama) look as lovely as it is (until summer, when we are the Official Gates of Hell). We all enjoyed you so much — thanks for coming our way!

  18. May the pelican has the luggage. Good luck to Anne Marie and her nursing career. I must be having some mercury moments hapnin too. As for Alabama, or anywhere for that matter (even Canada), anywhere there is earth and love, something beautiful is bound to happen.

  19. I totally had the same thought as Teish about the pencils. How cool is that?

  20. Thank you so much for noticing the beautiful things about the Alabama coast – she is lovely. Next time, maybe you can make it to middle Alabama where there is no moss AT ALL – it stops in Montgomery like a drawn line. But there are mountains and hardwoods and spring and fall linger a bit – it’s nice too!

  21. Alabama, while very pretty, gave me the scariest road side stop on my trip from Las Vegas to St Petersburg, Fl over ten years ago. Craaaaaaaaaazy.
    We have a neighborhood egret here that likes to taunt us from other yards.
    Hmm, pencils.

  22. Things were finally going your way, and then, no baggage? Ain’t that a kick in the pants.
    Pelicans are totally awesome. When they fly overhead, they look like pterodactyls.

  23. At least you’re home now. Maybe Mercury will lose interest in you and move on to some other unsuspecting victim?

  24. #5 Makes me want to cry in despair; in Edmonton, it snowed off and on all Victoria Day long-weekend. I have sacrificial seedlings outside to get them off of my kitchen countertop err, harden-off. If they make it, they’ll be the toughest of the tough. If the kids would let me, I’d be huddled in a corner with my coffee, alternating between knitting and glaring at outside in general.

  25. Up until the picture of Susan, I thought you had replaced your camera; that’s some pretty good shooting for no viewfinder…..

  26. I say blame the pelican–I think they might be attaches of the USN (Underground Squirrel Network) set to exact revenge upon you over that whole fleece incident…

  27. I now have this urge to order personalized pencils for people. That was the cutest story! The Spanish Moss is really cool.

  28. Sounds like your Alabama visit was fun but fast. When my kids were in school I got them pencils with their names on them too. Not 500 but I bought them just the same. Rest up now that you are headed home. We are waiting to give you a big Texas welcome here in Dallas.

  29. May be a poor time to suggest this, but you would write a really awesome travel book –after all that mercury mess, I hope that statement doesn’t make you want to hurl! It’s just that you have a fresh eye and such a way of describing things so that we can all see those things as if for the very first time. Reminds me of Georgia O’Keeffe, only with words not paint. love it.

  30. My mom ordered me the personalized pencils when I was in elementary school and as a result, my mean older brother and spiteful boys in my class were unable to steal them from me! I loved them!!!! Wish I still had some left like the lucky Ann Marie!

  31. When we returned from Florida last week our luggage didn’t appear on the turntable. I thought “Oh, no! The Yarn Harlot and now me, too!”
    DH went to talk with the first airport employee he could snag. The guy said “Maybe it came in earlier.” Earlier?! Yup, it made it there before we did. What a hoot! What a relief!

  32. Oh, and by the way, it just occurred to me that if this whole Knitting Writer career path you’re on doesn’t work out you might want to try writing travel books. You make Alabama seem like the only place worth visiting for a lovely vacation!

  33. Wow, I only got a hundred personalized pencils in third grade. And I had to save cereal box-tops and send them in myself. Despite obsessively hoarding them, I think I ran out in college. Ann Marie, enjoy them while they last!
    And Stephanie, your photos are indeed excellent! I am amazed that you are doing them without a screen. Best wishes for a happy reunion with your luggage.

  34. I’m suddenly having the urge to order pencils for my 3 1/2 year old son and my 6 month old daughter.
    Start ’em early, I say.

  35. That Mardi-Gras yarn is fabulous! I must say, adding a note to tag in my gmail under the label “Future Parental Advice and Tips” about ordering 500 pencils with my future kids’ name on it is tops on my priority list right now. What a great story! (and yes, I really do have a label in gmail for “Future Parental Advice and Tips” that I’ve used to tag ideas I or my husband email ourselves to remember for future kids, lol)
    As a teacher, I ordered the students in my class a set of pencils (3 per set) with their names on them for a Christmas gift one year. Those went over really well, so it makes sense that this idea tickles me. I can’t wait to have kids.

  36. I’m thinking that Jason’s “taking one for the team” is still working. Note that your luggage didn’t go AWOL until AFTER all your speaking engagements!

  37. Ya know…the pencil might be a good idea…I mean, when I get to the point of having kids and sending them to school….what better way to help them remember to spell their last name?

  38. I’ve been in awe of Live Oak trees since I was a kid and we traveled every spring break from New Mexico to Central Texas where my dad owned some ranching property. Massive Live Oaks amidst fields of bluebonnets…sweet memories. Now, I live in Texas and we have two of the trees in our yard. One is not massive since we planted it only 5 years ago.

  39. The pencils just make me crack up. I would probably have gone through that many pencils, because I love my points uber sharp (and in grade school definitely wore them to nubbins in the pencil sharpener).

  40. I’m pretty sure that your “very quick plane change” in Atlanta was the karma that took your luggage…there’s no such thing as a very quick plane change in Atlanta…just doesn’t happen.

  41. I have a cousin who now lives in Mobile (moved there from Detroit). He was here last year and we laughed at his accent. He (and his lovely wife) LOVE it there, even thru the hurricanes. I think they’re crazy… until I’m talking to him in Feb and we have 297 inches of snow in our yard and he’s planting his tomatoes already. I haven’t even STARTED MY SEEDS in Feb.

  42. I feel kind of sad looking at this–I lived briefly in Mobile, and it is gorgeous, but for some reason (maybe it was just me) I never saw even half the number of smiling faces that you have pictured in this post! I wish I could have met all of you while I lived there! Looks like a fun crowd! πŸ™‚

  43. I LOVE the personalized pencil thing.. I know what EVERYONE is getting from me for Christmas this year! no more knitting deadlines for me πŸ™‚

  44. Alabama, huh? Who knew? So glad you two loved each other.
    I, on the other hand, want a t-shirt like Susan’s (she of the first sock)…My state of mind completely these days…

  45. Mercury turns direct on May 30th, so we only have 9 more days to go. I’m told retrogrades are meant as ‘course corrections’ — look at what goes wrong and that tells you where you need to make changes in your life. Frankly, that doesn’t explain why I need a major car or appliance repair every time — I don’t even own the same car as last time!
    Alabama is a lovely state — and its people are even more charming. When I was a student, my friends and I would walk through the tailgate areas outside football games. The Alabamans were charming, funny, polite, interesting to talk to — and great cooks! I’m still using the grilled chicken recipe one of them was kind enough to give me.

  46. 500 personalized pencils X 4 children…I could never have to buy another pencil in my lifetime! (now if my 16 yr old would decide exactly what her name is πŸ™ )

  47. Mark doesn’t travel well, but loved Alabama when he worked there for three weeks – I was home with 2 boys under the age of three, almost due with the third, still a bit bitter – he says we’re going one of these days, will be watching mercury beofre I book.

  48. Suggestion:
    If you liked this trip: YOU will LOVE Austin, TX. Big music scene. Doesn’t Joe feel a little wanderlust? Take him to Austin, TX with you. Seriously.

  49. You should have taken your pelican home. They have plenty. Grab a few seagulls while you’re at it.

  50. great pictures. Nobody believes me at work when I try to explain, “kinnearing” to them.. pLus, I’m gonna get an “I knit so I don’t kill people” shirt today!!!! Love it, Love it!!

  51. Wow, you are getting really great at that broken view finder issue, I wonder if it is a freeing experience not to be able to see. The pictures that I take with a working screen are not half that good!
    Hope your luggage arrives soon.

  52. Would it be evil of me to contemplate sending 500 (or more) pencils clearly emblazoned “Stephanie Pearl-McPhee” — possibly with the hyphen in neon red — to the CEO of a certain airline?
    (Oh. I guess I couldn’t do that unless you told me the name of the airline, and we’ve already established that you’re above such vengefulness. But a grrl can dream.)

  53. I TOTALLY want to order 500 pencils for both of my kids since dh and i were silly enough to give them ordinary names with unique spellings!

  54. When oh when does mercury move away from your sun sign ? Enough already —lost luggage takes the cake !! Lovely pics with a broken camera and by now hopefully you are home. Hope the inhabitants , house and car are still there.

  55. Go back in July. You might change your mind on whether or not you like the warmth.
    (To make you feel slightly better, the safe planting date here in VA is Mother’s Day).

  56. FL has those trees too, but they’re called silver oaks there. But they’re not silver. Hmmm.
    And if you get the urge, don’t put that moss in your hair like you’re dressing up like a witch. Bugs live in there. Lots of bugs.
    Thanks for the idea on the pencils. That’ll make my gift shopping so way easier now. Can you imagine…”Hey, how come you got 200? I only got 50?” “She loves me more than you.”
    On the luggage; you’ve got to be f’ing kidding me.

  57. Alabama is lovely, I think all the states in the south that border the ocean has a lovely kind of charm about them, and I just envision seeing people with hoop skirts drinking mint juleps.
    Strangely then, that I think the bit of Texas that borders the ocean is really kinda horrible.
    I am fairly hopping up and down with excitement to see you in Austin.

  58. It was definitely worth the wait to see you in person, and hear you speak. You don’t need to be nervous, you’re the best!! Glad you liked the dish/wash cloth. As Susan said, thanks for the milliseconds of fame, and I need her shirt, too.

  59. Stephanie- We’re so glad that you had a great time here! We loved having you and very much enjoyed your company! You certainly saw the Gulf Coast in it’s glory….Spring! Thanks again for coming!! Too bad you couldn’t have stayed a bit longer (but I know that the pelican would have gotten itchy….)

  60. I heard a travel expert say a long time ago that there are only two kinds of luggage: carry-on, and lost. It made a lot of sense to me.

  61. We visited the Alabama gulf coast for a week with friends, and I want to live there! Everything you mentioned about it is true. . . the whole area is stunning, and the people are so friendly. I love that you get to see all over the US and Canada for your work. What a great life!

  62. At least you’re home with no baggage. Maybe Mercury is waning from retrograde. Or whatever. Glad you had a good time!

  63. I think you need to add a trip to Greece to the book tour schedule, find a temple to Mercury and do SOMETHING to apease him!
    Good luck on getting your baggage later.

  64. My first good look at downtown Mobile was on a Sunday morning. It was a ghost town! Eerie! You’re right, though, it’s absolutely beautiful there. i went in April and the people there were all wearing coats while I was running around in shorts and wishing the a/c was on!

  65. I love pelicans, too. Every year my family and I go down (from PA) to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and when we cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel, we look for the first pelicans. When we get to the beach we see the pelicans fly by in groups of 2 to 13 or so, and we call them the “Pelican Patrol”. They are much more fun than the sea gulls.

  66. My kids had tie-dye personalized pencils for kindergarten (but I restrained myself and only ordered 25 each). One still occasionally turns up (my oldest finished kindergarten 22yrs ago).
    In the philosophical sense, isn’t it better to go thru life without baggage? (And I’m thinking philosophically b/c that is what my oldest has a degree in and because in the material sense I HATE when they lose my baggage!!)

  67. That Ann Marie is a lucky girl! I, too am an Anne-Marie, however, when I was little, my mother could NEVER find pencils with my full name on it, so I got 500 pencils with the name ANNE and 500 pencils with the name MARIE on them.

  68. Actually the pelican is probably wearing your cowgirl panties as we speak…missing luggage-solved!

  69. As I type this, sitting in the pencil jar next to my computer is a red pencil with my (maiden) name on it. I must have been 6 or so when my mom ordered mine. I have no idea where the rest of them are, but one pops up from time to time. πŸ™‚
    Have a wonderful homecoming; hopefully Mercury will stop messing with you now.

  70. I usually don’t complain about the mis-directed baggage when I am on the homeward leg of a trip. I figure that in a Karma-like way that saves me from having my bags mis-directed the next time I leave.

  71. wow! that’s pretty exotic scenery from a canadian perspective! how nice to see and experience an alternate landscape once in awhile.

  72. Wow, Mercury’s really got it in for you this retrograde. Does this mean you’re off the hook for the rest of your life? Love the pencil story — as I recall, my mom did the same thing, and I’m wondering what it says about me and my brother that those pencils didn’t last all that long; I seem to remember playing fetch with the dog with them and also building a chicken coop. Hunh.

  73. My family hails from north ‘Bama(been there for several hundred years). I miss it so much. This Frozen North stuff is garbage. I’m glad you had a good time there! Also: I haz teh jealous!

  74. You know spanish moss is a parasite, right? Well, technically, an epiphyte, but still… And, having been born in Milton, FLA, I was aware of a coastline in that general area (we left when I was 6mos), so thank you for showing how beautiful it is. I’m almost homesick.
    Sorry about the luggages, but to echo, we’re not really surprised. As a matter of fact, it’ll be interesting to see how you pull off this next round of signings!

  75. I was going to say – did she get a new camera? Great photos!
    I am completely ordering pencils for my sons now, that is adorable.

  76. 500 pencils? Wow – I ordered 50 for each of my grandsons & myself – never thought to order 500 but now I can’t get it out of my head! If there is someone who doesn’t fall under the spell of Live Oaks, I don’t think I’d want to know them. They are the most beautiful trees – maybe even more so than the Redwoods (which are also pretty amazing – some are over 2,000 years old. For a truly impressive collection of Live Oaks (& gorgeous flowering trees & shrubs) try to make it to Baton Rouge La. – to the campus of Louisiana State University.) They have a truly impressive array. (and they have Spanish Moss & the most amazingly delicious food I’ve ever eaten – never had a bad meal in a Louisiana restaurant.)

  77. Mercury totally kicked me in the butt on Tuesday and thus prevented me from coming to meet you. Yes, Mobile’s Mardi Gras is older, but the Purple, Green and Gold colors were first introduced in New Orleans, they stole it. And while theirs is older, ours is better! πŸ™‚ Sorry Amanda, you know it’s true though!

  78. An old poem:
    A wonderful bird is the pelican
    His bill can hold more that his belican.
    He can take in his beak
    Food enough for a week,
    But I’m damned if I see how the helican
    Dixon Lanire Merrith – “The Pelican”(1910)

  79. Yes, Stephanie, and as much as you loved Alabama, believe me, Alabama loves you right back. I only wish you could have heard the positive comments I heard from friends and acquaintances after your all too brief visit ended. Would have been a big help with that self-esteem thing. Which is baseless, BTW. You lived up to my expectations and that is pretty rare at my age and state of cynicism. Luv ya.

  80. I have a very similar pencil story- when I graduated from high school, a good friend’s mom (who has always treated me like a daughter in only the way a Jewish mother can) ordered me a couple dozen pencils, in various colors, all proclaiming “Mazel Tov Erin!” I am starting my senior year of college and still use them, as do various members of the school of music. I’ve had professors return pencils that they found to me, and I’ve had friends during music theory turn to me and announce they have one of my pencils.

  81. I said I’d be honored if you put me on the blog and there I am!!! For anyone who wants to get a t-shirt like mine (I knit so I don’t kill people) go to and enter the phrase in the search box. There are a couple of different items with this saying on their site, and they are all worth it.
    Wish you could have stayed longer Stephanie, but it was an honor to meet you and hold the sock after you signed my book. Please come back soon!!

  82. Loved how the book “In Full Bloom” seems to be in the background of many of the pictures. Kind of how you saw Alabama!
    Just remember to schedule these trips south in the 1st quarter or the the 4th quarter and the trips through the northern tier from mid-May through September…and you could almost have Toronto summers year round! =D
    Hugs and Smiles

  83. I have a best girlfriend.
    Her and i were born the same day and our mothers were friends.
    she left about 40 years ago and she lives in Mobile Alabama.
    She came to see me here in Maryland this past November.First Id seen her since she left.

  84. There is a wonderful poem by Walt Whitman called, “I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing”. It was read at my wedding by a dear friend of mine. You should check it out.

  85. One thing I found when I was in Alabama was their use of the word “Thank You”. Not only did it get used frequently but they put emphasis on it and with a typical Southern Drawl, it gets drawn out and almost becomes a phrase of appreciation instead of just 2 simple words. I loved the south. I have asthma, can’t breathe water, had to leave πŸ™

  86. Now I’m homesick. I’m from northwest Florida — Pensacola, right over the border from where you were.

  87. I am forced to admit, at this point, that you MAY have a curse of your own and not merely be a victim of mine…however, not to be egomaniacal, but you were awfully geographically close to me for this go-round of travel woes.

  88. Good lord, I have about two hundred of the same pencils that Ann Marie has… except that they say my name! My grandmother ordered them for my brother and I when we were little and, like Ann Marie, we both still have about a gazillion of them left!

  89. I am about to have a stroke….you were in MOBILE AL AND I DIDN’T KNOW ONE COTTON PICKING THING ABOUT IT?!?! I am dying here. I would SO have been there to see you. Knowing that you may very well never come within miles of this place again, I am heartbroken. Just sign me –
    a clueless fan from Dauphin Island, Al
    (p.s. so glad you loved your visit. It is so darn pretty here, isn’t it? but believe me, sister, it gets all kinds of hot here come June through October. not that I’m complaining.)

  90. well, I live in southern GA, and when we cross over into LA (Lower Alabama) we say that we gain an hour but lose 7 years….the coast is very pretty, though.

  91. Holy cow – I am soooo totally buying my kid 500 pencils with his name on them. if only I could afford to do that with the cardigans and jackets that mysteriously disappear from his backpack…
    And I’m imagining 10 years from now, when all these bid kids are wandering around with personalized pencils and saying to each other “Oh, hey – you too, huh?” *eyeroll*
    Hope you are now reunitted with your luggage. When you come see us in Texas, we’ll try real hard to keep you & your stuff together!

  92. I want to buy some of your books and was wondering if you could mention the order you wrote them in? I also saw that the supplier has two audio cd’s: At Knits end and Casts off. I love the idea of listening to them while knitting so Im wondering if those two books have things in them that the audio books are missing? Would the books be a better buy than the cd’s?
    Thank You

  93. sorry, but i feel that i must comment on your twitterings about your vegetarian struggles through alabama… i too am a veggie and have family in that great state. whenever i visit them, i nearly starve- i guess we’ve just got to remember that it’s a state that considers mac-n-cheese a vegetable.

  94. Thank you for posting today. Long day at work (not terrible, just long) and your post was my dessert. I’m from coastal TX and a lot of your Alabama notes are also true about my hometown. And now I’m off to order my 3rd grader a wack of personalized pencils…

  95. Wait! Don’t order 500 pencils! The erasers dry out over time and won’t work and the kids don’t want to use them any more. You have to keep buying extra erasers or their teachers may deduct for messiness.
    Think of all the little trees….

  96. I have to say NO to the formal shorts. There is no way I could ever take a woman seriously when she is wearing shorts with a formal blouse and patent leather heels. Just… nuh uh.

  97. Stephanie, it was lovely to meet you. I was the last one in line, the preggo lady who was building a girl. And beware of spinning Spanish moss (though that is a FABULOUS idea). It is full of what we call “red bugs” AKA chiggers. I really try not to touch it myself, beautiful though it is.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your stay! I’m an Alabama native, now living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I”m really quite partial.

  98. I can’t believe your luggage issues! I hope you had a “spare pair” in your purse!! Good luck I hate airports all but Portland, they are nice there and have free internet! Also several clothing shops……

  99. I always wanted a personalized pencil, pen, pad, or something. They wern’t in the stores when I was a kid. I don’t think my name became popular until Star Wars. Now? Now, I don’t need a personalized pencil.
    Just a note: a paracite is a very different thing than an epiphyte. Paracites suck life force of some kind. Epiphytes just use the host as furniture. Mistletoe is the only paracite plant I can think of.
    I am happy you are home and got to visit Cat before crashing. Sweet Dreams.

  100. Yeah, the South is warm. Back in Florida, we had a pretty hard winter. Defined as such by the fact that I had to scrape frost off my windshield for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE one day. I was horribly shocked.

  101. Bouquets of sharpened favorite line from you’ve go mail…makes me wanna go to Alabama…soon…

  102. My mother had “Victoria” pencils for me when I was in elementary school….not 500; probably closer to 100. She’s a teacher…and she wanted to make sure that no one could steal my pencils and get away with it.
    Mobile is a pretty city and their Mardi Gras is pretty famous, but I think there is a toss-up between Mobile and Savannah for the first Mardi-Gras….New Orleans definitely doesn’t win that prize…

  103. What is it about the speed of light plane changes in Atlanta? I just did one and it was brutal. Thankfully my bag made it to Boston. I was on vacation. It would have been hell without it but I’m sorry for your luck.

  104. Live Oaks. My sister has one in her yard in North Carolina so big that her house sits entirely under one side of it. Yes, only one side.

  105. I ordered 500 ballpoint pens for my wedding & they got the spelling of my brides last name wrong. For years we had to correct people on the spelling, O’Neill has 2 “L’s “.

  106. a. you are taking awesome pictures
    b. I just got back from a trip to Tallahassee, FL (where I did my undergraduate degree) and I already miss the Southern beauty. The Live Oaks are amazingly beautiful all year around and when the magnolia bloom, it is heaven. I’m glad you enjoyed part of the Southern United States. It is such a special place!

  107. My husband grew up in Alabama (Auburn). I’ve never heard him describe Mobile in those terms.

  108. My grandma did the pencil thing for me…I’m 43 now, and using the last…yep…last stub of the last of those pencils to make my grocery lists. The stub is attached to a magnetic clipboard on my frigde, and has been used in 3 states and 2 countries…and has survived housefire. I shall cry when it is gone. It’s green, and about 2 inches long.

  109. Yep, Live Oaks are cool. There are so many kind of Oaks in the South. In fact, when I spend a long time up North, I always miss the trees in the South.

  110. You sure picked a pretty corner of Alabama to visit! I’m also guessing that you stayed at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear. Quite a tradition in those parts. Hope it made up for all that retrograded Mercury!

  111. As a Virgo (Mercury is my ruling planet, too), I feel your pain. I’m driving to Maine (from NYC) tomorrow and am now a little nervous about it πŸ˜‰ And I have a feeling I’m going to have to get my Isobel 500 pencils with her name on them so no one calls her IsAbellA or anything.

  112. i’m wrecked that you were in alabama and i didn’t get to see you πŸ™ even though i’m up in birmingham (about five hours north) i would have driven down to see you.
    page and palette is one of my favorite book stores! we once drove there from point clear through the pouring rain, only to stand in line until midnight to get the last harry potter book. it’s a lovely place! i’m so glad you enjoyed your time in alabama!

  113. One year when I was maybe about 10, my grandparents got me personalized pencils (first and last name), probably for Christmas. At the same time, my stepdad’s parents bought me some also, but instead of my real last name, they put theirs! I wish I still had some, it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

  114. Stephanie, We have wonderful old “Live Oaks” in Vero Beach too… complete with Spanish Moss and all. we even have a park that has a walking path and festival area we call “under the oaks” If you ever get to return to Vero Beach, which I hope you will some cold Canadian winter day, We’d love to show you around.
    Enjoy your time at home! Oh and by the way, Mercury has been picking on all of us… there is no where to hide apparantly!

  115. It’s nice to hear someone else’s opinion on Alabama. I’ve been living here somewhat unhappily for too long to mention. It’s nice to see it from another’s viewpoint. And, you’re right, Alabama is beautiful. Hence, the state motto or whatever you call it — Alabama the Beautiful. πŸ™‚ Come back soon.

  116. Did you read the article about the woman that spins Spanish Moss? I would love to try to knit with that.
    (I don’t think your blog allows links, right? but add your http and what not to

  117. Oooo…I totally have to buy personalized pencils for my classroom. I’m a music teacher and keep a can of pencils so students don’t have to carry them back and forth from the room on the occasions we need them, and my pencils have a tendency to walk off. I also like to have the kind with an eraser on the end, because (as an American in a Commonwealth country) a student asking me to “borrow a rubber” still throws me after two years.

  118. Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I enjoyed the pictures. I’m a little homesick. Oddly, I was thinking about getting my daughter pencils since she doesn’t have a top ten name…

  119. Well Ms. Stephanie
    You are going to be plum dee-lighted with Austin, ‘Cuz in Texas they have ‘live oaks’ too!!!
    And Alabama has some fair sized hills too, not just a short coastline.
    But I know what you mean about the soulful quality of the trees and all the beautiful waterbirds.
    I wish I was there to see it through your eyes, but you are doing a fabulous job with your little broken camera.
    Oh BTW…the very first Mardi Gras WAS in Mobile…
    now….you eva hadda a dish called shrimp N’ grits?

  120. I do love Alabama. Remarkably, I’ve been there at least 3 times and I love it more each time. And there is some very fine Lebanese food to be had in Mobile. I know there are some that hope that the loveliness that is South Alabama never gets discovered. Clearly, after this post of yours, that ship has sailed. Glad you’re home safe and sound.

  121. Thank You so much for your “Things I like” comments…a refreshing departure from some of the ugly things people often write about the South… Most write, having never been here, knowing nothing about this place, and the many wonderful people here…I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, please come again…I’d like to add that unlike LA,NY,Vegas,DC etc., we actually have oxygen in the air here…Thanks…HW…Wilsonville, Alabama

  122. I’ve totally had enough therapy to not be hurt by the fact that you did not include me amongst the things you like about Alabama πŸ˜‰
    I wish I could have made my way down to LA to see you. Perhaps you will be coming a bit closer?

  123. Ohh, I love the pencils story!! I had to restrain the volume of my laughter, considering that there are sleeping people in the house. I love Alabama too… think I might move there.

  124. OMG What a riot! At least Mercury is being consistent so you know what to expect. I’m beginning to think that my whole life is Mercury in retrograde! Poor Steph, I hope that they find your luggage soon. At least you’re going home and not to another speaking engagement. That would really stink! And yes, for someone with a broken camera you are taking awesome pictures. I do have to agree with you about the south. It’s so beautiful! I have a friend in Louisiana that I visited a few years back and I was simply enchanted by the deep south. Of course, I visited it in modern times with air conditioners, refrigerators, and bug spray! Can you imagine being a woman in the 1700 and 1800’s, wearing all those layers of skirts and having to cook for the family over open hearth! Wow! I just find it amazing what people could do in that heat. Hope you find your luggage soon.

  125. We have a Live Oak in our front yard. A massive tree that keeps us very cool in the summer but can yeild a heavy blow in the winds and rains of a Texas spring.
    Flying through Atlanta is a sure way to loose your luggage! Sorry.

  126. Is Ann Marie’s mother my unknown, secret twin? Sounds like something I would do, because the unit price would be hard to beat!
    Hmmm, daughter’s birthday is coming up …

  127. You have to come back to our beautiful state, Stephanie. You missed the best thing–lady peas–petite, pink-tinted delights, which, boiled and cooked with ham hocks, are the gustatory equivalent of a full moon over the lagoon on a summer night.

  128. To the Martha person…could you post where to find the pattern to that sweater you’re wearing…looks like a great knit for summer!

  129. Did you know that Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss??? It is actually a parasite and lives off the trees that is grows on AND it is a relative of the PINEAPPLE!!!! (Some crazy info that I learned on a roadtrip from Maryland to Florida 10 years ago…)

  130. Alabama is a veritable wonderland. I had a totally wrong conception of it until my parents lived there for a few years. I would go to visit in early spring (still winter in PA, really) and it would be gloriously warm and flowers everywhere. I fully expected cartoon bluebirds to come and land on my shoulders. And the people are predominantly friendly, sociable, welcoming–I highly recommend it.
    As for the stalking pelican, well, Alabama has a strange magic. When my parents were living there, I would hear “Sweet Home Alabama” EVERY SINGLE TIME I was on the way to the airport to go visit them. Odd.

  131. So…
    Did you wear that pretty gray wool sweater much while you were in the South? (Tee-hee!)

  132. Mobile’s weather in spring is fabulous, and the winters are wonderfully mild. My father grew up in Mobile, my aunt & uncle are still there. I went to visit Aunt Judy once in March once (I’m sure it was Mardi Gras) and she had impatiens almost two feet high in her yard – they were left from the previous year!
    I lived in Alabama for several years (central AL) and enjoyed it, though it wasn’t as enchanting as Point Clear, Mobile, etc. I don’t recommend the faint-of-heart visit Alabama in August, though; the humidity is oppressive and you will get a lesson in wilting, I can assure you. Every time I watch “Gone with the Wind” I understand how Southern Belles have the reputation of being wimpy, whiny things: with all that tight-fitting, heavy clothing on at that time of year, it is completely understandable.

  133. I’m not glad you lost your luggage, but better on the way home than when you arrived… then you don’t have to worry about clean undies. BUT if you were adding to your stash… I hate to think how you’d feel if it was in the suitcase. (Note to self – always carry stash purchases in carryon luggage).

  134. i confess, i ordered personalized pencils for my son in 7th grade. there was an ulterior motive, though. he kept claiming people were stealing his pencils. so, i ordered 2 dozen with his name on them in . . . . hot pink.
    never lost another pencil.

  135. Thank you for explaining “live oak”, I thought the other kind must be dead shrubs of some sort. Feb 27…as in really deep snow and serious cold, lol!

  136. The moss looks really cool–BUT don’t touch it ! It,,besides being a parasite, carries parasites-usually sand fleas which are about as nasty as our mosquitoes in the north.
    My oldest son and his wife spent their honeymoon on the coast of Alabama in a gorgeous 5 star hotel which was,shortly after that,destroyed by Katrina. Even so, it is a beautifull stste.

  137. Mercury had better stay away when I head to Portland for Sock Summit. I’d be SO upset if they lost my luggage with knitting in it…oh, yeah….and the clothes etc too. πŸ˜‰

  138. Ahhh…sigh…
    Sweet Home Alabama…Where the Skies are So Blue…
    Sorry…had to reminisce for a moment. I grew up in an itsy-bitsy town (one traffic light) in Alabama. If you’ve ever read John Grisham’s book, The Bleachers, well then you understand life in a small town in Alabama.
    My question to you: Did you go home and say “Y’all” to the family?

  139. I love Alabama, and especially Fairhope! I was full of envy when I saw that your schedule took you there, and I wanted to go so bad – but now I am in north Idaho.
    And live oaks are just amazing. In Georgia, we saw one that had a “branch span” of 150 feet. It was very old and beautiful.
    Glad you got home okay, and that your luggage finally arrived.

  140. Please don’t miss your pelican. One day, he would inevitably become a crotchety, grumpy pelican and chase you down the length of a pier for no apparent reason other than it seemed to suit him to do so at that moment. Then, when you got into your museum at the end of said pier, you would find ALL of your co-workers rolling around crying because they were laughing so hard. These are seriously disturbed birds at points in their lives.

  141. My mom ordered me 500 pencils, too! (Lillian Vernon catalog, I think?) And when they accidentally printed them with just my middle and last name, a re-print of my full name was sent. So, 1,000 pencils, half of which have part of my (now maiden) name. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving!

  142. I think I am going to cry! You were here in Alabama, just a couple of hours away and I MISSED IT!!!! Fairhope is a lovely town. I am so glad you enjoyed Alabama and I hope you come back some day! Hope you feel better soon. πŸ˜€

  143. Gee’s Bend quilts…. next time, get someone to tell you and take you… close to Mobile… incredible history, story and gorgeous quilts that I bet would give you some ideas for your knitting! A friend has gotten me hooked, literally and figuratively, on you and your blog:). I am definitely a NEWBIE knitter, but loving all my frogging and tinking!:) Well, trying to love it. (wink wink) Hope you feel better soon – and that your luggage is soon left at your door! πŸ™‚

  144. i LOVE live oaks. I grew up in California and we didn’t have them. We do in Austin, TX.
    Live Oaks are one of the reasons we live in our neighborhood. One particularly gorgeous live oak in our backyard is a large part of the reason we have the house we do. πŸ™‚

  145. Just read our post about Alabama – wanted to clarify #7. My daughter lives and teaches in Birmingham, Alabama. They’re referred to as “city shorts” there and she wears them to work. LOL

  146. While Alabama is indeed a beautiful example of the south, I have to confess I’m somewhat partial to Tennessee. I’m always so happy when people from elsewhere in the U.S. or Canada are taken a back by southern beauty and charm. I hope that you also experienced some of our famous southern charm.

  147. Thanks so much for a wonderful time in Fairhope. You were great!! They say that if you live in the South and are going to heaven or hell, you have to spend time at the Atlanta airport. Hope all goes well with the registration program.

  148. Come visit in the northern part of Alabama, preferably around October. The northern part of the state actually has all 4 seasons, occasionally we even get ice and/or snow. We also have rockets and can rightfully boast that we helped put man on the moon.
    Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

  149. Bravo Laurisa! Southern Charm is indeed a wonderful thing. Southerners try to reach out to everyone. We are indeed a loving people. You can say almost anything to someone in the south as long as you end the statement with, “Bless your heart!” Like when someone comes to work looking like the wrath of God, “you look just awful, bless your heart!” You’re not being critical, just concerned! If you’re sick we’ll send ya home and fix a supper for your family! That’s the south!

  150. IΒ΄m writing from germany to tell that I love everything you knit or write. Can hardly wait to hear more from your exciting life.

  151. Live oaks aren’t so nice when one falls on your house during a hurricane. Just saying. They are pretty, though.

  152. Live oaks aren’t so nice when one falls on your house during a hurricane. Just saying. They are pretty, though.

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