Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From a Day of Devastation ...

Having lived my entire life in Alabama, I have experienced many days of bad weather, but Wednesday April 27, 2011 was different. All of the schools had delayed opening due to the expected bad weather. I arrived at work around 8 am CDT as usual. You could tell something was brewing, it was just a little too warm for the end of April in North Alabama. We were under a tornado watch, you only had to walk outside to feel something was up.

That Wednesday will be forever in the memories of everyone in our state and area. April 27, 2011 will be forever known for being among the most prolific and destructive tornado days in the U.S, history. . Four of the tornadoes were destructive enough to be rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is the highest ranking possible; typically these tornadoes are only recorded about once each year or less. 

This is a photograph taken about 6 miles from our showroom.

Anderson Hills Storm Damage

The material you see lying in the foreground of the picture was a brick fence, roughly 6 feet tall,  that separated  the subdivision from the main highway. 

To see more, here are the rest of the photos from this particular subdivision. What is really scary is this same subdivision was hit by another huge tornado  and destroyed in the mid 90s.

"A widespread complex of supercell storms overspread the states of Mississippi and Alabama and violent tornadoes began rapidly touching down as the evening progressed. Four tornadoes were officially rated as EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale that day. These tornadoes impacted several counties in the states of Mississippi and Alabama, especially the towns of Smithville, Mississippi; Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, Alabama; Philadelphia, Mississippi; and Rainsville, Alabama. This marks only the second day in history (the other being the April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak) that there were three or more EF5 or F5 tornadoes."

By the way, I was smack in the middle of the tornadoes of the Super Outbreak! I was a sophomore in high school and have vivid memories of that night, as well.  If you are interested, you can read the rest of this article and more here:,_2011_tornado_outbreak

Now onto the reason for all of this information. It is now mid November, almost 7 months later and there is still a lot to be done. I have been working on a couple of tornado related remodels. The first one has just been completed. My part was to supply new cabinets to go into the footprint of the existing cabinets. Below is a before picture.

You really can't see the extent of the damage other than a water spot on the ceiling. The roof was damaged over the kitchen and breakfast area, ceiling, cabinets, walls, floors, subfloor and everything was wet. 

After meeting with the builder and homeowners and deciding what kind of cabinets they wanted to go with and what their budget was, I came up with 2020 drawings and pricing. We ordered the cabinets from Integrity Cabinets, LLC, an Alabama company. Below is the finished project. 

I was there on Tuesday afternoon to do this photograph. The homeowners are very happy and expressed their gratitude for my help in helping them to have a beautiful new, functional kitchen. That is one of the reasons I love what I do. At times I can help people take a traumatic event and help them get something beautiful to help build better memories. 

None of will ever forget what all went on April 27, 2011 and the following days, but I am able to help people put their lives back together and go on. 

This is just a small sample of what I do. I will be doing more posts and showing you more examples of my work in the future as well as more about me.

Thank you for letting me share this with all of you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I was borned a coal miner’s daughter…

Yes, I am a coal miner’s daughter, yes, I married a Lynn. I would love to say that I can sing like The Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn, but, alas, I can’t.  Both of my grandfathers were coal miners, my daddy and my brother were coal miners. As of last month, even my nephew is now a coal miner. When I say coal miner, I mean an underground coal miner.

My brother and my daddy, the two former coal miners above, with my sister in law and step mom.

My nephew, the newest generation of McDonald coal miners.

I come from a very close knit extended family. My paternal grandfather (also a coal miner) passed away in 1956. My parents had just gotten married. My grandmother was a 45 (so very young) year old housewife who suddenly had no means of support. This was back before people in their socio-economic situation bought life insurance. My parents moved in with my Nana and she became my daddy’s dependent.  Mother and Daddy built a new house next door and when we moved, Nana moved with us. She and I shared a bedroom until I was 12 years old.

My Nana, middle front row and her sisters.

Blackwell Family Reunion 1987.

Some of you may be thinking, I didn’t have more own space and stuff, but I have to tell you, I had a great childhood & couldn’t imagine it any other way. There were even times my Nana’s mother lived with us. Grandma was a three time widow, with 5 daughters. My great aunts, great uncles and their families were closer to me than most people’s immediate family. We have a family reunion the second Sunday in June, every year. The next one will be our 67th consecutive year reunion.  

I’ve said all of this to show you what a close knit extended family I have and how important they are to me and how supportive they are. I would not be the person that I am today without all of that special love from my very close extended family.  I love them all, even the strange and quirky ones…

Blackwell Reunion 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Very First Blog Post!

This is my very first blog post, ever. I have been fretting over it literally for months. The first hurdle was to choose a name…I had several ideas floating around in my head, so it took me a while to settle on this one. So, I settled on a name, now what to write for my first post?  I have decided to tell you a little of my background. I hope that I don’t put any of you to sleep.

I am a single woman, divorced after over 32 years of marriage. I have two beautiful adult daughters, a handsome son-in-law and three of the cutest blonde hair blue eye granddaughters ever! I am a very lucky woman and I know it!

I was a stay at home mom for a while then I worked with my now ex husband in our residential construction company for over 16 years.  Raising a family and running a business out of one’s house can become very over whelming! In 2001 I knew that I needed a new work environment. I was offered and accepted a position with Lowe’s. My position was for a pilot program. It was a great opportunity for me and I loved every minute of it! To make a long story short, the program did not get renewed, however, I was asked to stay on.  I stayed with Lowe’s until mid July, when I left to get ready to become a grandmother for the first time.


During that time, I finally got rested up, enjoyed being a grandmother but something was missing. I really missed working with people to create their dream kitchens, baths and other spaces. I had finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up!

Early in 2005, I helped a friend and his brother set up and run an independent kitchen, bath and closet showroom.  Everything went well and I made a lot of friends helping people remodel their homes or design a new one, until the downturn in the economy finally hit Auburn, Alabama, in mid 2008. In March 2009, I was offered the position where I am today. This position entailed a move from Auburn to Huntsville, Alabama. The first year I was here, I commuted to auburn & back every weekend. After the first year, no more commuting, divorce was final and I started a new life.

Most of you know that I am an admitted Twitter addict. I had originally gotten on Twitter because the church that I attended was on there. After moving to Huntsville, I started following more people and at some point, my friend Nick @cupboards started following me and as they say, the rest is history!

I hope that I haven’t bored you and you will come back to see what I find to ramble on about next…