Tinglewood at Orr Park – Faces in the Trees.

A study pops up in my orbit semi-regularly that makes the case that neurotic people are more likely to see faces in random objects.

If this idea scares you with regards to your own mental health, do not – I repeat DO NOT go to Orr Park in Montevallo.

If it doesn’t, though, you need to go right away.

We had some time left over after our Brierfield Ironworks field trip, and since we were in Montevallo already, I decided we would visit the park – a fascinating place that I’d only heard about. I hadn’t told the kids anything about it, so as we started down the walking trail, I told them,

“Be on the lookout for wooden faces!!”

“What?”

“Wooden faces!”

“What in the world do you mean, mom? I don’t see any — OH!”

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We began seeing faces everywhere.

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The park is filled with old cedar trees, many of which are dead. A local coal miner, Tim Tingle, got permission from the city to turn the trees into works of art and, over the span of more than a decade, he has sculpted over 40 trees – many are faces, some are entire bodies, and others are animals and fantasy creatures.

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It’s really the best walk you could ever want to take with children – and totally worth the drive to Montevallo. There’s a walking circle that’s over a mile long, but the part of the park with the carvings is probably half a mile or less, so it is completely walkable for any age.

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I especially bonded with this 360 degree carving – a mom with a kid clinging to her legs,

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And a giant sack of groceries on her back, right above another kid hiding behind her.

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I feel you, tired mom. I feel you.

There were sad faces,

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perplexed faces,

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Shocked faces,

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Irritated faces,

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And hungry faces.

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There is also a Native American,

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A War Memorial,

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And one of my favorites, a fantastic dragon.

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It makes for a fantastic Scavenger Hunt location, because there are tiny and subtle carvings intermingled into the more obvious ones. If I’d been more prepared, I would have had clues ready to send my kids off on a glorious hunt. Next time, next time.

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This park is absolutely a must-visit if you live anywhere in Alabama, as it is as rare as seeing a unicorn eating a rattlesnake.

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Hands-On History: Brierfield Ironworks

After a few false starts, we finally got back into the groove of history field trips after the holidays. It’s harder now, because our dear friend and adventure comrade Carla Jean has moved to Colorado, and nothing is as much fun when you lose your buddy.

We set out to Brierfield Ironworks, a furnace built in 1862, used for a minute to make iron for farm implements until the owners were strong-armed into selling it to the confederate army, then used to forge iron to make cannons, then promptly destroyed by the union army and never truly resurrected, despite a few attempts. I’d heard it was a less impressive Tannehill, but we often like the “little guy” places, so we wanted to check it out for ourselves. It was also the only furnace actually owned by the confederate army, so it definitely fit into our history studies.

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We arrived and found that we seemed to be the only people at the historic state park. There were log cabins and historical buildings scattered about the grounds, sitting peacefully and quietly.

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We found the one titled “Information Office”, and opened the creaking door to find a kind lady who gave us a trail map and sent us on our way. We first walked over to what was left of the furnace, covered by an oversized carport to protect further decay.

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Unlike Tannehill’s furnace, which is made of giant stones and is still in beautiful condition, Bibb Furnace was made of bricks, and many of its bricks were pillaged for other projects during World War II. As such, there’s not as much left.

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Noah liked the mining cart, though. Mining carts make everything better.

There was a lovely hiking trail above and around the furnace, where we found the old reservoir and several other interesting artifacts.

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We used the opportunity to spot seedless vascular plants, the chapter we were reading in botany at the time.

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We adored the covered bridges scattered throughout the park, acting as bridges in some places and covered picnic pavilions in others.

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It was an easy 1.5 mile circular hike, which was just about the right amount, since Ali was rather overdressed for the hot February day and Noah can always find something to whine about.

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The most fascinating feature that Brierfield possesses are the bright and dark green rocks all over the park – we at first assumed that they were some of the very minerals that drew people to create a furnace here (Tannehill was created around the red ore mineral line – could this be green ore?)

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The pieces ranged from tiny to small boulder size, and we compared and contrasted color and features. Ali noticed that they had many holes, so surmised that they were like sandstone – on the softer end of the rock spectrum.

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We also talked about how cool it would be to come upon a mineral line like this long ago – and what if it had been gold? We had just read about the Alabama Gold Rush the day before, so we daydreamed about happening upon a whole area of golden nuggets the size and quantity of these curious green rocks.

After we finished our hike, we went back into the welcome center and asked the kind lady about the green rocks. She informed us that they are actually slag, left over from the years of furnace operation. Slag is stony waste matter separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore. This made the finds more exciting – we had found byproduct from the Civil War era.

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While she explained this to us and I examined the beautiful pieces of slag she had in the gift shop, Noah shopped, itching to spend his allowance.

“Can I buy this, mom? How about this? And this?”

Without ever really looking up, I agreed to his purchases. He slowly counted his dollars while the nice lady giggled – I assumed she was pleased with his independent economic prowess. It wasn’t until we got to the car and he proudly showed me his new possessions that I questioned my hands-off parenting strategy.

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And that, dear readers, is how a family ends up with a confederate flag shot glass that says “Heritage not Hate.”

Geez.

I’m the best.

After our hike, we visited the playground, where the kids fawned over the vintage playsets,

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while I enjoyed creating super creeptastic “Dementors Are In The Neighborhood” footage.

On the way home, I slid through KFC to get the kids some food.

As we were pulling around, Noah said, “Hey Mom, can you roll down my window?”

“Sure…”

“Thanks! I want to show them my new little cup that I got at the gift shop!”

“NOOOOOOO!!!”

Geez.

I’m the best.

Here’s Ali’s report on this trip and another stop we made on the same day – but I will write about that fascinating place next time.

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Diary of a Tired Mom: New Year, New Rambles.

Musings, stories, and random observations of a tired mother don’t always promise to make sense.


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Saturday morning, as I was driving to my favorite place to run, which happens to be in the middle of Birmingham’s fanciest suburb, I saw a fully grown man,

with a salt and pepper beard,

skateboarding down the road,

in a bathrobe,

that was printed in a fine leopard print.

I took a picture of him as I drove by.

I swear he posed an especially serious face just for me. Because he KNEW I’d have to take a picture.

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For that one moment, finding him was better than finding roadkill.

You be you, sir. You. Be. You.


Later that afternoon, I was attempting to make my way quickly through the drive-thru at Starbucks. I was behind a little car with a large “I Love My Labradoodle” sticker.

The Barista asked through the loudspeaker, “Can I help you?”

“I just need a few minutes to read the menu, thanks.”

I watched as the few minutes turned into more few minutes, and pondered to myself that perhaps this was not why drive-thrus were invented. You shouldn’t have need to read the whole menu if you’re choosing to stay in your car.

Finally they drove forward, and I quickly gave my order, assuming the Barista needed some decisiveness in her life.

As it became the Labradoodle LoveMobile’s turn at the window, I watched in horror as the Barista brought all the lunch options, fanned out in her hands, and held them out the window, three at a time, to show the indecisive driver what the options were.

SHE HAD TO SEE THE ACTUAL LUNCH OPTIONS, y’all.

And then she didn’t purchase one.

If you need to see actual food before ordering, please for the love of all that is even 1% right in the world, GO INSIDE TO ORDER.


What if you substituted “pelvic floor” for “dance floor” every time you heard it in a song? I found this is a fun pasttime, until I realized that “why don’t you kiss me on the pelvic floor?” is a somewhat bizarre question, and Michael Jackson’s “Blood on the Pelvic Floor” is just a really unnecessary topic to sing about.

So instead, every time you’re watching some serious movie or the news and you hear the term IED, replace it with IUD. The Korean terrorists throwing intra-uterine devices at Jack Bauer is downright pleasurable to imagine.


I realized the other day that I’m lash privileged. I’ve always had extremely thick, long eyelashes because my body hair grows approximately an inch an hour.

But. I allow my lash privilege show when I scoff at all the outlandish things other people do to have long eyelashes.

Fake lashes? So much trouble. And you would put those on for work? How is that a worthwhile operation?

That prescription that may cause heart failure as a side effect? Really? Are lashes worth all that??

But I’m not allowed to have an opinion. Because I’m lash privileged.

However I am not, apparently, eyebrow privileged, as I have one eyebrow that has decided to go prematurely grey. Yes, sadly my left eyebrow has gone rogue and keeps growing multiple white hairs, despite the tenacious grasp of youth that my right eyebrow maintains. I find this quite upsetting.

Maybe my entire left side is weird because I also have one rogue hair on the left side of my ribs that will grow to the floor, except that I yank it out for fun and amusement twice a year. And also if I rub the inside of my left elbow, it makes the left side of my jaw tickle-itch in a horrifically annoying-yet-fascinating way.

Do all left-handers deal with such body trauma as this?


Those matching underwear ads on Facebook draw me into their made-up fantasy every time. Chris and I need matching underwear. Look how frolicsome their lives look! But what are the chances that mine and my husband’s matching underwear would be clean at the exact same time? And furthermore, that the kids wouldn’t be totally weirded out by us wearing no pants at the dinner table?

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Has anyone named their kid hashtag yet? Because the ability to easily refer to one’s kid’s actions would be really fun. #Poop #Jerk #Mess #TimeOut #ScrewedUpAGAIN


Noah likes making up gibberish, and pairing words and phrases that he feels like sound good together.

Trouble is, he has some seriously refined taste.

He’s played with the word “Dammit” on many occasions.

(He swears he made it up.)

We had to forbid all made-up words that began with the letter f last month because they all tended to include the same four letters.

(He’s never heard that word.)

On Friday, he was repeatedly calling me, in a sing-song voice, “Hot Butt.”

(He’s never heard his father call me that.)

And on Saturday, as I was chasing him up the stairs while teasing and goading him, he screamed out, “Somebody get this Nasty Woman away from me!!”

(He’s never heard our president call an opponent that.)

I feel like he *may* have a supernatural power of word and phrase osmosis. That or he’s getting up in the middle of the night and watching television.

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But my bet is that the kid is a foul language savant.