It's hard to believe that it's been 12 years. Some days it feels like it's been forever and other days where it feels like it happened yesterday. My grandmother was one of the biggest influences in my life and there is not a day that goes by where I don't miss her.
Brett and I went to Aiken at the end of March to see his grandmother and spend some time with his half siblings and nieces and nephew. Jim and Mar were up there at the same time so we all had a great time. Brett's grandmother was admitted to the hospital the day after we got there so that changed our game plan a little. In between visiting G-ma, we did quite a bit of exploring around Aiken County and into Augusta. I'd driven through Augusta several tiems, but this was the first time we went downtown and actually checked it out.
We've taken several trips down to Gulf Shores to see Jim and Mar. While we both miss the Scottsboro area (and the great friends we made up there) it sure is nice to have Jim and Mar closer to us and a great excuse to always get to go to the beach! We've been taking full advantage of the great beach weather this year. :)
My boss and his family took a 2 week trip to Costa Rica at the end of June and the day after they left my only co-worker went out on medical leave. It was an interesting 2 weeks holding down the fort, but it went smoother than I expected. I was BLESSED to have a great temp helper and thankfully nothing out of the norm happened while he was gone. As soon as they came back Brett and I took a trip to New Orleans (my first!) for a weekend.
I had a fabulous time and I'm ready to go back anytime. We stayed at the Loft 523 which was a very quick walk from CBD into the French Quarter. We spent most of Saturday walking around and sight-seeing and took a bus ride that afternoon. We had made dinner reservations at K-Paul's, but the earliest they could get us in was 9:00 and we came across a wonderful restaurant next to Pat O'Brien's. I highly recommend the Old Coffeepot on St. Peter Street. The food is incredible and their bartender made the BEST hurricane that I drank the entire weekend.
When we came home from New Orleans we had quite a surprise waiting for us. My aunt and cousin from New York (along with his girlfriend and son) came down to spend a week with us. It was the first time that I got to meet Declan and Megan. We had a ball while they were here!
We also took the Camaro out of couple times this year. A friend of ours drove it in August while my dad was building the motor for his car. It was fun to get to watch it go down the track as just a spectator!
It's been nice to have the last few weekends around the house before our fall schedule kicks into high gear!
151 years ago today, my great-great-great grandfather enlisted in the Civil War. He joined up with several of his family members, all of them fighting to preserve a way of life that was all they had ever known. Jacob Perry Merrill (1838 - 1875) was one of seven children born to William Merrill and Susannah McDade. He was the youngest surviving son. The information that I have on his younger years isn't very clear. We do know that William Merrill and his older brother Jacob Merrill settled in the Leon area of Crenshaw County, Alabama in the late 1820's. In addition to owning many acres of farmland, William Merrill also opened a trading post near the Patsaliga River. While tension was high between Indians and settlers during this time, William and Jacob Merrill became known for their ability to peacefully trade with the local Indians. Jacob married Elefare Parrish (daughter of Hamilton Parrish and Belinda Handley) in 1858. Church records from Good Hope Primitive Baptist Church indicate that both the Merrills and Parrishs attented Good Hope and it is quite possible this is where Jacob and Elefare met and became acquainted. Jacob and Elefare's first child, Susanna Melinda, was born in 1860 with the rumblings of the Civil War in the not-so-distant future. Although his father was a farmer and trader, Jacob was listed as a tailor on the 1860 federal census.
On March 24, 1862 Jacob Perry Merrill enlisted with the Alabama 37th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry. William John Merrill (brother), Benjamin Greenberry Merrill (cousin), Greenberry Benjamin Merrill (cousin), Henry Martin Merrill (cousin), Thomas Hezekiah Merrill (cousin), Thomas Lambden Merrill (cousin), and William Reid Merrill (cousin), joined on the same day and all of them served in Company C together. All but Benjamin Greenberry Merrill (son of Greenberry Benjamin) made it home from the war.
Through the United Daughters of the Confederacy application process I was able to learn quite a few details about Jacob's military service. The Alabama 37th fought at the Battle of Iuka and he was captured on September 19, 1862. He was paroled shortly thereafter.
Jacob fought again at the Siege of Vicksburg and was captured as part of the Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863. He was paroled five days later on July 9. Jacob's cousin Benjamin Greenberry Merrill was killed in action on June 12/14, 1863.
Jacob's final battle was the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga. He was captured on November 25, 1863 and held until December 2, 1863 when he was transfered to Louisville, Kentucky. From Louisville he was sent to Rock Island Barracks in Illinois where he appeared on a POW roll in December 1863. His official confinement date is listed as December 5, 1863.
Not much is known about his time at Rock Island. He never regained his health after he returned back home and died 10 years later at the age of 36. He is buried in the Good Hope Primitive Baptist Church cemetery next to his wife Elefare. Four generations of his descendants are also buried in Good Hope.
Elefare married Daniel Hansome Gainey in 1880 and they had one son, Joseph Samuel Ganey. Joseph went from a teacher in Covington County, Alabama to the superintendent for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind throughout the end of the Great Depression and through World War II. He also served as President of the American Association of Institutions for the Blind.
Brett and I (and Gomer!) have a new hobby and we spent the gorgeous weather yesterday enjoying it to the fullest!
We live near several National Forests and had never really taken the time to get out and enjoy them. We started looking for places to take Gomer on quick day trips and got hooked after our first one. Gomer is a trooper and LOVES going on adventures!
We spent most of yesterday in the Conecuh National Forest. I grew up going down to Blue Springs in the summer and had never taken Brett down there. It doesn't resemble the old swimming hole much at all anymore. The bank has eroded quite a bit over the past few years and they've had to build 2 retaining walls to keep the damage from continuing. Gomer was fascinated watching the fish swim in the clear water, though!
We followed the Conecuh Trail around to where the creek, Blue Springs, and the river meet up. I was fascinated at how different the water looked from each source. I wasn't so thrilled about crossing the bridge over the creek though. It was only 15 feet up, but it was extremely windy and the bridge wasn't so sturdy. I'm PETRIFIED of heights and I think Gomer takes after me in that regard. Brett got Gomer across and I sucked it up and followed. I wasn't too happy about it, though!
We stopped at had a quick picnic lunch at Open Pond on our way out. The shelter they have is extremely nice and overlooks the pond. It's a gorgeous view!
I grew up here and our place on the river is less than 3 miles away, but I had never gone to the actual waterfall that the town of River Falls is named after. I was planning on just stopping on the bridge and trying to grab a couple of quick pictures through the trees, but Brett suggested we actually trek back there. I'm glad we did. When the sunlight peeks through the trees and onto the waterfall, it's absolutely breathtaking! It's hard to imagine that such a beautiful sight has practically been in my backyard this whole time.
Lucy (a.k.a. Lula Belle when she's particularly prissy) is the grand dame of our house. She was Brett's grandmother's favorite cat and she asked us to bring Lucy home when she passed away. Lucy has been with us ever since.
Lucy had a little accident when she was jumping off our bed the other day and ended up breaking the last bone in two of her toes. That's the same bone that holds her claws. Somehow (our vet is baffled by this, too!) when the bones broke it caused her claws to get bend inwards and lodged into and under her pads. The only option was for her to have surgery on that foot to dislodge the claws and completely remove those bones. The way the vet worded it was that removing those bones was essentially de-clawing her on those toes.
Lucy was not a happy camper when Brett picked her up and brought her home last night. She was still groggy from the anesthesia and is NOT in love with the splint/bandage apparatus on her foot. Watching her limp/crawl/hop around just breaks my heart, but Dr. Toby's office said that it's normal for now. She seems to be feeling a little better this morning and has spent the last couple hours curled up between Brett and I on our bed. I keep putting off a trip to town because I don't want to wake her up and move her!
Thankfully, Dr. Toby said that she should be good as new in about three weeks. Despite her foot and being a little on the chunky side (she weighs a whopping 13.5 lbs!) she's in great health for her age. Don't tell her, but she's going on a diet once her foot is healed!
Once again I've done a poor job of keeping my blog updated. I had completely forgotten about it until I was reminded yesterday! Here's a quick recap of what's happened since Christmas. January was a BUSY month around our house. We started the year off by taking the Camaro to the Hangover Nationals in Montgomery. Brett, Dad, and I had a great time hanging out with everyone again. I'm hoping we'll actually go to the track more than once this year.
The following week we actually saw a couple snow flurries in town! I was hoping it would snow for real and everything would shut down for a few days! No such luck, though. I think we got a grand total of 20 snow flurries before it stopped!
The end of the month brought 2 new additions. One at home and one at the barn. :)
February was a little less exciting. I started working out with a new personal trainer (who is amazing!) and I've lost 6 lbs and a couple inches. I'm pretty excited about that. We've also started taking our Boxer, Gomer, on quite a few adventures with us. He's turned out to be an awesome traveling buddy!
I finally turned in my United Daughters of the Confederacy application and heard back that it was approved on the state level! I should be getting my certificate in the mail in the next few weeks. I joined under the service of my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Perry Merrill. He enlisted with the Alabama 37th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry on March 24, 1862 in Leon, Alabama. He was captured three times during the Civil War (once at Iuka, once at Vicksburg, and once at Missionary Ridge) and was held as a POW at Rock Island Prison in Illinois. He was released as part of a prisoner exchange on March 20, 1865. He lived for another 10 years after the war and died at the age of 36. March is looking like another busy month for us. Hopefully I'll do a better job of blogging about it all!
This is the first year since Brett and I have been together that we have not made it to Marlene's family's Christmas Eve festivities in Atmore. Since we knew ahead of time that we couldn't make it, we made plans to drive down to Gulf Shores on Friday night to see Jim, Marlene, and Alaina for a few days. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we had a great time!
One of my favorite places is down at Marlene's parents' house (MeMe and Bubba) in a little community called Shell Banks right outside of Fort Morgan. Their house is right on the bay and backs up to the Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
MeMe and Bubba have a resident heron they call Gertrude. I FINALLY got the chance to get some up-close pictures of her. She's not the most sociable gal in the world. She also had a pelican friend hanging around the boathouse with her. He was a little less camera shy so I was able to get a few more pictures of him.
I was the only one who wanted to brave the chilly wind on Saturday and go down to the beach and I am SO glad I did. I ended up with some pretty awesome photo ops while I was down there.
As much fun as we had in Gulf Shores, the absolute highlight of my Christmas was going to church with my parents and Brett on Sunday night. This is the first year that my Dad came with us to the candlelight service. It will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories! This church has always been very important to our family. My great-grandmother donated the land for the church to be built and it is the church that my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and numerous cousins all grew up going to.
Christmas morning was low-key. We had breakfast with my parents and then I got to work in the kitchen. This was the first year that Christmas dinner was on me and we also had family coming over! I was a little on the nervous side, but everything turned out better than I expected and we all had a good time.
Thankfully, all of the bad weather that came through didn't affect us. A tornado passed just a few miles away from us!
A southern girl is a girl who knows full and well that she can open a door for herself but prefers for the gentleman to do it because it demonstrates a sense of respect. After all, every girl wants to be treated like a princess. We know how to make sweet tea and grits while telling you everything about any football team in the SEC. We pick our battles and fight with the heart of a pit bull while still maintaining grace and elegance. Our mystique is that of a soft-spoken, mild-mannered southern belle who could direct an army, loves her momma and will always be daddy's little girl.