Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday, December 26 - Back from Paducah

Had a great time in Paducah with Barry's son and in-laws. We ate, and ate, and when we were done eating, we ate again! We're made to feel so welcome there, it's like going home. I even know now where Nancy keeps the paper towels! Presents all around were MOST appreciated, and the good company was wonderful.

It's really weird -- it takes 2 hours to get there and 4 hours to get back. Of course, Paducah is in Central time and we're in Eastern time so that explains it.

BTW, the Patriots game on the 29th WILL be shown on NBC and CBS, not just the NFL network, which is good since we couldn't spring for the $$$$ to buy the NFL network!

No news on the new house purchase here, though we will call Melissa tomorrow to see what's happening. With any luck, we will get the paperwork done so we can close on the property shortly after New Year's, and finish packing and moving. Barry has SO many plans for planting, and we can actually till the ground 'cause it's not frozen! We'll plant and plant and plant! When we moved to Kentucky, one of our major hopes was to find some good gardening land. We don't have it here in Butchertown, but we will in Alum Springs. "Spring" planting around here is late February and early March!

It's in the 50s here, seems like a Maine October day. We understand that "winter" is around the corner though, so expect a bit of snow flurries, and some ice on the roads. That apparently is about it. The grass is still growing, and at Buel and Nancy's, they have a winter-blooming camelia! Yup, flowers blooming in Kentucky in December! Strange place compared to Maine where the major crop this time of year is frozen vegetables, and hothouse tomatoes from Madison!

Sincere thanks for all the gifts and companionship from our family in Paducah -- it is so wonderful the way you have made us a part of your lives. You all have defined "Southern hospitality" for us Yankees!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday, December 19 - Decisions, decisions

We've made an offer on a 3br 2ba double-wide in Parksville, on an acre of flat, fertile land right beside the Salt River. Actually the river rises about 1/2 mile from the place, then flows all across central Kentucky until flowing into the Ohio downstream from Louisville.

The initial offer was rejected so we countered. Hopefully, they'll accept our counter. If not, we'll up it again -- it'll be difficult but we can do it.

We're now renters here, and can't wait to get out, not just because of the cost, but because this deal turned so totally sour, we need to move and start over. But oh, the cardinals and chickadees at the feeder, and the pileated woodpecker excavating the tree stump -- they're SO beautiful. We'll have birds in Parksville though.

The farm pond froze over completely last night, but melted completely today. We finally came to the realization that the pond is a wonderful feature and we have enjoyed it greatly, but that we've really made pets out of the catfish, bass, and bluegills, so it would be difficult to EAT them! How can one eat a pet?

We drove over to Loretto today to the Maker's Mark distillery, where we bought some Christmas presents -- in another week I can tell who got what...but right now that's for Santa to know. It's weird -- the distillery can't sell any of its bourbon because it's in a "dry" county. You can get Maker's Mark almost anywhere else in the country, but not in the county where it's distilled. Kentucky's prohibition laws are a patchwork of local ordinances with virtually no standardization whatsoever. In one county one can buy booze at Rite-Aid, but 5 miles away one can't even order wine with dinner. A golf course can sell beer, but restaurants must earn 70% of their income from food or they can have their liquor license taken away.

Anyway, we drove to Perryville, then on to Springfield (where Lincoln's parents lived and Jefferson Davis went to school), then overland to Loretto (the Catholic center of Kentucky) through some of the most beautiful land in Kentucky. One farm outside Springfield had green grass, black cows all over, and the sun was shining on it. It looked like a picture postcard taken in June -- except that there weren't any leaves on the trees. It was warm enough for us to take our jackets off most of the day which is also weird because friends and family in Maine are suffering through temps in the teens and 20s and experiencing snow.

In fact, that's what's missing. It's the Christmas season and though we expected it would be warmer than Maine, we didn't expect to miss the snow quite as much. Lights, decorations, everyone saying "Merry Christmas" without SNOW! I guess it's all in what you're used to. What the heck, in Australia, Santa arrives in the middle of Summer on a surfboard and people open presents at the beach!

We'll see tomorrow what our offer on the new property brings. It would be SO nice if we could close before Christmas, or at least have a contract to close.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday, December 16 - Packing to move

As I told our realtor yesterday, this "dream house" has turned into a total nightmare. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. Right up until the beginning of last week it looked like there was some hope. Not so, so now we live in a house we no longer want to buy, and probably would not take as a gift -- details available to close friends and relatives only.

So after all these months of trying to make it work (we signed the original contract on 30 April - Bless You Melissa for sticking with us), we're moving on. We found three properties which would suit us just fine, and maybe we're rationalizing but all of them are better than here, in many ways. Of course, we'd lose most of our pasture for a lawn, the fish pond for flat garden land, and a log cabin for a conventional looking vinyl-clad house or double-wide. But overall, it's not worth trying to work things out here any more, so we're packing.

On top of all that, the several pipes froze in the Waterville house when the furnace kicked out, and I have a "Merry Christmas" repair bill of $2100.00, with no guarantee that the furnace won't kick out again and do more damage. At least the oil tanks are full. If I put in an insurance claim, the company almost certainly will cancel my insurance. Isn't that fair -- you pay and pay but when you need to get some of it back they drop you like a hot potato! At least the repairs are deductible on my income tax, but in the meantime I still have to pay for them. I've dropped the price from $83,500 to $69,900 and still nothing.

On the bright side -- yes there IS a bright side -- we got a dusting of snow last night (not 8-12 inches), the winds are up (but not 60 mph) and the temps are down to 26 at night (not 0). It's what we in Maine would call a heavy frost. Another good thing though is that the plants we put in the ground can be dug up -- the ground doesn't freeze here -- and be replanted in the new place even in January, with care. The front lawn is still growing when temps get up into the 40s -- and they will be 50+ by Thursday. And the birds are still feeding voraciously! The hawk ON the bird feeder in the picture is probably looking for appetizers!

Just keep reading my blog -- the only thing (I hope) that has changed is that it has become the "View From The Porch" instead, because the places about which we're serious are out of the knobs with its treacherous roads, and actually in the "Bluegrass" farming region and have porches or decks with lawn. If we get our first choice, our mailing address will actually be "Danville, KY" even though we'd live less than a mile from Parksville. And we'd be about 8 miles closer to town (on less curvy, much wider state roads), Burke's Bakery, Centre College, our doctors and dentists, and Wal-Mart (note the ORDER in which I list these notable sites)...

OK, back to uploading cemetery photos, packing, and thinking about friends and family in Maine as an old-fashioned "Nor'easter" blows in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday, December 14 - Winter Weather

OK, so all the warm weather has gone south. It's about 35 here, a cold wind, and it's damp. Ninety-eight of KY's 120 counties are under flood watch or warning now. People are panicking about 1-3" of snow, though some who have obviously never lived in Maine are looking forward to it.

We have a roaring fire in the fireplace, have seriously begun packing, and gotten rid of all kinds of stuff. I took 5 bags of clothing to the Galilean Children's Home, and 5 boxes of books and videotapes to the Casey County Publich Library. And that's AFTER I went through the stuff before we moved here.

This move will be MUCH easier -- we can move bookcases, then books and put them in the bookcases. No need to pack up every single thing we own.

More details on what house we buy, but we WILL be buying something soon....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13 - A decision, finally

It looks like we're going to be moving. There are just too many issues on this property -- with two more we found out about yesterday -- someday I'll tell the whole story. Anyway, we terminated our offer on this place and will begin paying rent for the time we remain here, which could be as little as 5 weeks. We're looking at another property only a few miles away, but the current owners will need 30 days to leave after we close. We can close in a week or 10 days, so that's about 40 days before we'll have to begin changign our phone, our email, our snail mail, our driver's licenses, everything we already changed!

I will have to see if I can change the blog to "View From The Back Porch" 'cause the view from the front porch of any of the places we're interested in isn't that great, but the view from the back on two is quite nice.

It's been raining here for about 6 days now -- I'd guess about 8 inches of rain total, and now we know what a "flash flood" is. The culvert is washing out, and won't stand another heavy rain. That will be ONE condition on which we will pay rent -- that the owner will maintain the culvert so we can get in and out.

The good news is the temperatures -- mostly in the upper 50 to upper 60 range days, and in the 40's and 50's at night -- though that will change tonight. Highs next Wednesday will be around 28! A winter storm watch is in effect for northern KY -- 1-3 inches! It may even snow here again. We'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, December 10 - A Decision To Be Made

We looked at 4 houses today, all within the same housing development. Two we like and two we didn't. Three more on Wednesday.

When we got home, we got one more surprise that made up our mind. Our driveway is eroding away due to the 4 days of rain we've had here. We can't, nor do we want to, maintain a road we don't own -- and money is an issue as we're both on fixed incomes now -- temps are in the 50s and 60s -- thank goodness it's NOT snow!

Anyway, this is the last straw. We called our agent, Melissa Bibb, of Prudential Guerrant Real Estate -- she's one HELLOVA realtor, and I can't recommend her any higher -- she is THE BEST!!! Told her to get us out of here as soon as possible.

Called Jesse Johnson, of Farm Credit, who has stood behind us 100% protecting our interests, and told him not to do a DNR (do not recusitate) on this place 'cause it ain't gonna get any better.

We're ready to move now. All we need is the boxes and the will, and a place to go.

The blog will continue -- but will probably be called "View from the Bluegrass" instead.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday, December 8 - Packing and Getting Away

There won't be many more entries to "View From The Front Porch." The closing on the house here almost certainly won't happen now, so Barry and I are beginning to pack glassware, going through clothes and books to cull what we don't want or need (or what won't fit any more -- Barry is SUCH a good cook, a third of my shirts won't button now).

We spent yesterday driving around the Danville-Lancaster area looking for houses, and we have found 10 or 11 that would suit our needs and our price range, and psychologically, we are prepared to move. It's going to be easier this time, as we can make many trips instead of one, and we won't be moving far. At least 5 of the houses are within 5 miles of here, with the most distant about 20. All are out of "The Knobs" which is good, because we would always wonder, "what if" as long as we stayed in the Knobs.

Of course, there will be changes in mailing addresses, telephone numbers, utilities (maybe we can keep Intercounty Electric, or maybe we'll find a cheaper provider), new drivers' licenses and registrations, etc. Hopefully we'll keep Windstream for the phone, internet and satellite - they're a great company with which to deal. It will be a pain, but we've done it before and we'll do it again.

Althought this place is - or was - perfect for us, we're rationalizing now, normal reaction, I guess. The back lawn is on a gully which may slide into the valley within the next few years. The fish pond, which we love, may become more work and more expense than we want to deal with. The electric furnace is expensive to run even with the cheap cost of electricity here. The erosion issue, which we can probably correct, will take time, work and money. The house needs staining and waterproofing all around -- whether we do it or someone else does, if something isn't done soon, the carpenter bees will have eaten all the siding.

Anyway, we're getting away for the weekend -- going up to Lexington, staying overnight, just to take a break.

The birds we will miss. We probably won't see some of the species out in the flatland that we see here, and that's sad -- though we have enjoyed the pileated woodpecker and half a dozen cardinals, yellow-bellied-sapsuckers, nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, etc. But, we'll find birds to enjoy wherever we move.

Most of the places we have looked at have enough land to have a good-sized garden, and have what appears to be good soil. Several have garages and/or storage buildings, and enough lawn to need the riding ower. All have heat pumps -- we won't consider one without that source of heat and A/C. Many of the places are stick-built rather than double-wides, and that will make a difference in house insurance costs. Most are nearer a fire department than we are here, which will also cost less in insurance as well. The Brush Creek Voluneer FD is abaout 15 miles away over back roads! And since we won't be buying the shed here, we'll have extra money to put into the purchase price of the new house.

As far as the Waterville house is concerned, there's good news and bad news. I have a showing Sunday, and I told my realtor, Paul Bard, of Century-21 Surette, what my bottom line is -- basically I'll take about ANYTHING for it just to get rid of it. That's the good news.

The bad news -- the furnace quit in nearly 0 temperatures, and one (maybe two) of the baseboards has frozen, requiring a plumber to come out at 9PM to deal with it -- which Paul is handling for me. The plumber was there all day yesterday, and I can't wait to see the bill! Barry's daughter, Karen, drove by the place to check on it, and noticed the light attached to the thermal timer was on. That means the temps were under 45 in the house -- she called in a panic thinking someone was in the house. Thank goodness she did, or the damage would have been MUCH worse! Karen, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Paul Bard -- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

The oil tanks are full, so I probably won't have to buy oil very much. Plus if the place sells (YES, PLEASE, MAKE IT SELL) I can sell whatever oil is left.

OK, got to get back to going through clothes, and checking out a couple of more houses. I'll keep writing the "View From The Front Porch" as long as I have an internet connection and we're living here. What will I call the blog after we move? Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday, December 5 - Ups and Downs

Today has been a day of ups and downs.

Temps were up today to about 47, now they're down, and we have snow. It has been extremely windy and with temps around 32, the wind chill is in the low 20s. The roofs of nearby houses are white -- it looks like frost. Good news though -- by the weekend it will be up into the 60 degree range. Icing on the roads tonight (rain earlier has frozen on) makes travel dangerous, but we don't have to go anywhere until tomorrow morning when we go up to Frankfort to pick up Barry's car from the collision repair shop. We've been driving around a 2007 PT Cruiser -- wonderful handling car, solid as a rock, and fun to drive. But tomorrow we return to reality.

The closing on the house moved even closer today, then we got the news that our plan would not fly with our morgage company's lawyer. Up and down. NO, we haven't closed yet, and now it really looks like we're not going to -- we're almost out of options, and it's not looking good. We do have a list of about 20 other properties in the area that we are going to start looking at, and tomorrow after we get back from Frankfort, we're going to begin packing to move. We have no idea where we will be a month from now, but the handwriting is on the wall -- it probably won't be Butchertown.

Now the bittersweet -- our neighbor, Joann, brought us up some home-baked goodies. She probably thinks we own the house. It will be painful leaving nice folks like those we've met here -- Larry and Joann, Ron and Thelma, Laura, Herschel, Frank and Rita, Steve, Mike and Shirley, and all the others on Butchertown Road whose real names we may not even know -- like "Mutt" for example.

The View from the Front Porch may become the "Glimpse from the Housing Development" -- I have no idea. But I will continue to write.

When this is all over and we are finally settled -- SOMEWHERE, I will probably email close friends with all the problems we've had trying to buy our "dream house." I have kept a list of occurences that have postponed the closing repeatedly. But the people we've met have always been friendly and helpful. The situation stinks, but whomever buys this house will have wonderful neighbors. And well-trained fish in the pond.

Forgive me if I seem down -- overall it has NOT been a good day, but there is always tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday, December 4 - Winter Storm Warning

Yup, these people think they're in the midst of winter. We may get an inch overnight and tomorrow -- but it should melt during the day, and temps will be back up to 55 by the weekend. The other day, Barry walked the 1/4 mile to the mailbox wearing shorts and a tee-shirt. The neighbor, clad in two sweatshirts, hat and gloves, said "You really ARE from Maine, aren't you?"

Seriously though, this is one of the reasons we moved here. Even though it was colder here than in Maine this morning (got down to 18 here), as Clif H. in Waterville told me on the phone, we don't have to shovel "cold". We watched the storm in Maine Monday and today, but there wasn't much coverage about Maine down here -- they focused on New York instead.

So as we hunker down tonight with plenty of kerosene for the heater, wood for the fireplace, and hot chocolate for our tummies ... we'll be thinking of friends and family shoveling out from one of what we hope will NOT be many snowstorms back home.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday, December 2 - Catching up with some photos

We put up our bird feeder. Among our first visitors were these cardinals.

Notice how the cat has found a warm spot -- he finds the sunny spots during the day, and the fireplace hearth at night. When we moved here, he lost a great deal of fur in the 100+ degree heat, so he's COLD now.

We got up the Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving -- super early but they're done so we can enjoy them now. We had to use an artificial tree with all new ornaments and lights as our big box of decorations is still in Maine.

Anyway, the cat seems to like what we've done. We lit up the holly bush on the front lawn, and have a string of lights along the front porch.

The fireplace has also become a focal point. With candles, a nice warm fire, and mini-lights among the greenery on the mantle, we're setting a nice scene here. Add a cup of hot chocolate, nice music, and we're all set.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday, December 1 - Comparisons

As I look at the weather forecast in Maine, and read Shirley's email, I'm sure we made the right decision to move here. Today, after we got back from shopping, I actually mowed the front lawn. For goodness' sake, it's DECEMBER! Shirley writes that it's 15 degrees with 60 mile gusts in Waterford! Our ROSES are still growing here! You guys are supposed to get a mess Sunday and Monday -- people here are shivering at 30 degrees!

We've started feeding the birds, not that they need it, as there are still plenty of easy food sources, but later this winter (IF it snows), that may not be the case. What a pleasure to see chickadees hanging upside down on the bird feeder!

The fireplace, supplemented occasionally by the kerosene heater, is keeping us nice and warm. With the cost of the electric furnace (I thought we had a heat pump but we don't) we do need to keep the light bill down, though it's still better than paying for heating oil. The sun, when it's out, is warming, as we're 10 degrees closer to the Equator, so the sun is higher up in the sky even in the dead of winter. That's got to be one reason for the warmer temps here.

Now don't hold your breath, 'cause things can go wrong (as we've found out many times down here), but keep your fingers crossed for a major event for us on Tuesday! More later, IF it actually happens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, November 28 - Christmas lights and mowing

Holy smokes, I haven't writtein in SO long. Today, Barry and I put up the outside lights for Christmas decorations. Most of our Christmas stuff is still in Maine, so we're going easy this year. It got down below freezing this morning, but this afternoon with full sunshine, it's near 60. Seems SO weird -- putting up Christmas decorations, then mowing the lawn -- yes, we need to do that again! The fellow on the radio the other day said, "IF we have snow this winter".

A couple of years ago I had bought a kerosene heater but never took it out of the box. Even though electric prices are 1/3 of Maine's, we're supplementing the electric heat (we found out we do NOT have a heat pump -- we have an electric furnace) with kerosene and wood. Even at $3.39 a gallon, all we need is an hour of kerosene a day to keep the house nice and toasty warm. We haven't had much sun over the past week so today was wonderful -- the cat seems to find all the warm spots. And if he can't find one, he crawls under the comforter on MY bed, right up next to the pillow!

We spent Thanksgiving in Paducah with Rick and Laura, and Laura's family. Barry made a sweet potato pie, Laura made pumpkin soup, Nancy did a corn casserole, and Buel did turkey and beef tenderloin with cognac sauce. To top it all off, Nancy made a Bavarian chocolate cake! Barry went online and bought a treadmill the day after...looks like we can use it. Nice time, lots of good food -- Paducah's almost a second home now, having spent more time there since July than we have in Maine! I'm absolutely not sure when we will return to Maine -- we thought we'd have to come back up in December, but that doesn't have to happen now - some of you know why... ;) -- it has to do with $600 (that's a hint).

OK, time to get back to work. I'd like to promise it won't be this long again before I write, but ...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 15 - The "S" word

No, not THAT one -- get your mind out of the gutter!

We actually had cold enough temperatures for SNOW today. Just a few flurries, not lasting long enough for me to even get a picture of it, but it surely was SNOW.

I thought we left that stuff behind in Maine along with the snowblower!

It's not expected to amount to anything, though there may be some accumulation in West Virginia. But it IS cold by KY standards -- 36, going down to 26 overnight, then back up to 58 by Saturday. We still have loads of leaves on the trees, though we can actually see the topography of several of the neighboring knobs, now that some of the trees are bare.

You may have heard of the tornado that hit in Lauren County last night -- that was only about 50 miles away -- we were in Renfro Valley last Friday, and that's only a few miles north of Pittsburg, where the EF-1 tornado hit. Quite a surprise, and VERY unusual for any tornadic activity in KY this time of year. Spring may be different, though Casey County hasn't had a direct hit since 1971 (except for April 2007).

OK, dinner is on, and the fireplace needs tending. Later.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, November 12 - Going Grocery Shopping

Hey, nothing to write home about, huh? Well this was a treat.

Casey County has a large Amish/Mennonite community. It's new, begun about 1975 when Amish and Mennonites from Pennsylvania were looking for inexpensive farmland. They found it in the Green River Valley. Aside -- the Green River IS green. The water flows over all kinds of limestone deposits, and west of here, it forms the "Cave Region" of Kentucky as it flows underground for dozens of miles through Mammoth Cave and dozens of others. Anyway, it's green because the limestone promotes algae growth -- you put lime on your lawn to green it up -- same idea.

Back to the main story.

The IGA store in Liberty has great prices on, and quality of, meat, so we headed there first. Looking for the "Reduced for quick sale" we picked up loads of hamburg and pork and a couple of roasts. We need to do this at least once a month on a Monday morning -- the regular prices are comparable to Wal-Mart and Krogers (lots like Shaw's back home in Maine), but the quality of the meat is SO much better.

The pork we bought is destined to become home-made sausage. We bought a meat grinder for the Kitchen Aid mixer, and we're anxious to try it out. One of the roasts we cut up for stew beef or possibly hamburging -- we'll decide later.

Anyway, leaving Liberty, we drove south on US-127 to the Amish-Mennonite area of the county. We turned east on KY-501 in the settlement of "Phil" -- the settlement of "Teddy" is just down the road apiece. Not too far from Chicken Bristle! Gotta love the place names here.

Our first destination was Burkholder Seeds. Unfortunately, it wasn't open, but we'll go back -- calling first to be sure.

Then we drove up Chestnut Level Rd and South Fork Ridge Road past the Galilean Children's Home and Christian Academy. Sandy Tucker and her husband had hosted thousands of children from all over the world, whose mothers were in prison, or otherwise unable to care for the children. Sandy was a legend around here until she died last fall. They also operate the Bread of Life Cafe -- which is where we get our whole-wheat bread ($1.75 for a huge loaf). If we had turned on the cell phone and gotten ANY reception, we would have noticed the time was an hour earlier -- the nearest cell towers to southern Casey County are in the Central Time Zone!

Anyway, our next stop was Nolt's Bulk Foods -- what a gold mine this place is! We'll NEVER get cheese anywhere else again! Butter Havarti, $3.50 a pound (Kroger has it for $7); onion cheese, also $3.50 a pound, along with probably 15-18 other varieties ranging from Swiss and mozarella to cheddars. Barry also bought a bag of Empire apples -- good for pies, we understand! And I splurged and got a nutmeg grater. Life is good! They had cooking items, heavy aluminum cooking sheets, steel teapots, other utensils, spices in bulk, just wonderful stuff, and at reasonable prices to boot! The place is two miles off a side road off a side road off the main road. Yet we had a hard time getting through the place because of all the people shopping there!

We then backtracked to Lavern's, where we bought two squashes, a Waltham butternut, and a blue hubbard. Not much else of interest there, but the squash prices were VERY reasonable. If we had a root cellar here, we might have bought another 20 pounds -- I LOVE squash!

We did pass two horse-drawn buggies. I don't know if the drivers were Amish or Mennonite -- the men did NOT have beards, which is the rule for Old Order Amish -- but are our Amish Old or New Order? It's quite a treat though, seeing the buggies holding up the Fords and Chevies on the road!

We were looking for "Mike's Smoke House", a place I had come across back in October when I was out photographing gravestones with Rochelle and Linda, but we didn't find it. We MUST at some point though -- smoked sausages and other meats, locally produced! Sounds great.

There are other Amish-Mennonite stores we need to find. Need a buggy repaired? Harnesses for your horse? Kerosene lamps? QUILTS and QUILTING SUPPLIES (are you reading, Shirley?) Running low on sorghum, or want to learn how to make your own cheese? It's all here!

We got home, and decided to process the squash, so we took the meat cleaver, some newspapers, and went out on the back deck. It was 67 degrees, and we were wearing T-shirts while hacking and slashing at the squash. Today it feels like a nice early September day in Maine. Of course, the other day, we were 5 degrees COLDER than Waterville, and temps here commonly will vary 40 degrees from 7AM to 5PM. Later this afternoon, we'll probably take some time out to just sit and vegetate on the front porch, watching the Butchertown rush-hour traffic (approx. 5 vehicles per hour).

OK, gotta go, the squash should be done -- at least the first bowl -- two more to go!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday, November 11 - Loretta Lynn and Firewood

Friday, Nov 9, Loretta Lynn -- We drove down to Renfro Valley, Kentucky's "Official" Country Music site. There's a whole entertainment complex there -- restaurant, motel, tourist shops, RV park, etc. People come from all over the country.

Loretta Lynn had with her her son Ernest, daughters Peggy and Paula (I can't tell who is whom though), and grand-daughter, Kayla Lynn. All had a set of songs, and Peggy and Paula opened the show.

Then came what we were all waiting for. The "New Barn" at Renfro Valley seats maybe 1,000 or so people, and you could tell this wasn't a rock concert -- 99% of the audience was made up of us "older" folks. Loretta came out on stage, and the show really began. She asked people to call out songs for her to sing, saying "We're here for you-all." The photos aren't that great, but they're real, not from a website.
Several times, there were false starts -- the band was playing a key too high, Loretta wasn't sure what song they were beginning to play -- and once or twice, her voice failed. But she is still an elegant performer, in a "country" sort of way. In the photo below, that's Loretta's son, Ernest, to her left.The performance was very good, even though Loretta had a few glitches -- she's 75 now (her birth certificate says she was born in 1932 though most sources say it was 1935. That means she married her husband, "Doo" Lynn when she was nearly 16, not 13 as the legend has it. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and I'm really not a fan of "country." Then, like "groupies" (yes, Alison, we were like Michael fans), dozens of people crowded around the back door of the stage near Loretta's bus (picture below). We were all hoping she'd come out, but she didn't. However, her grand-daughter, Kayla, did, and Barry got Kayla to autograph the autographed Loretta Lynn cookbook we bought earlier. It has lots of great recipes, and biographical info on Loretta's life, so it's an interesting book to read.
If you haven't yet seen "Coal Miner's Daughter", rent it. It's a great story, well-written and acted, winner of many awards including several Oscars, and one gets a real feeling for the hardships Loretta lived through growing up in eastern Kentucky, then building up her music career.

OK, back to reality now.

Friday and Saturday, Nov 9-10, Wood.
We bought some great firewood for $25 a truckload -- works out to about $100 a cord. The first load was delivered Friday before we went to Renfro Valley, and the second came Saturday morning. We actually had a good time stacking it -- probably wouldn't though, if we had 8-10 cord to stack!

Most of the wood around here is hardwood -- oak, maple, hickory, VERY few evergreens -- so the price is even more remarkable. The fellow who sold it to us basically does it for fun and exercise, not huge profits. We WILL get all our wood from him in the future.
We'll use it to supplement the electric heat until we can do something more permanent -- gas logs, airtight stove, whatever works. Anyway, we got it stacked just fine, and have already had our first fire. The smell of a wood fire is warming in and of itself. Bruce and Shirley, a little stove like yours would be perfect!Nov 10, sitting outside.
Saturday, after the firewood was stacked, the temperature got up to the low 60's, and the sun was SO warm, Barry just had to enjoy the outdoors while he could. Temps get down below freezing quite often now overnight, but by late week, it'll get up to 68 and down to 45, so it'll feel more like a Maine September.By the way, can you see what Barry's reading? Yup, it's our personally autographed by two members of the Lynn family cook book! You can bet he's going to come up with some great food from THAT!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Saturday, November 3 - Haying and Hurricane Noel

As we sit here in nearly 60 degree sunshine, we understand our friends and family in Maine are feeling the effects of Hurricane Noel. We're sure wishing and praying that all will go well wit y'all up in the Pine Tree State -- stay indoors, stay dry, stay warm.

We HAVE had 3-4 mornings with frost here, but the guy on the radio yesterday said, "IF we get snow..." which makes me believe that we won't see much of the white stuff. It really looked like it has snowed just a dusting this morning tough. Temps got down to 27 -- about the lowest we've seen here yet.

Here, the front pasture has been hayed and is getting ready to be baled. We're not sure when, but will be taking pictures of it when it happens. Barry went out and weed-whacked around the driveway, but the front "yard" will look like a golf course by the time haying is done.

STAND BY -- They're baling now -- be right back with pictures...Shirley and Bruce -- Barry says, "Can you believe this, it's November 3rd?"

We're still trying to figure out where the garden should go in the spring, and where to plant the peach trees. Being on the west side of the Knob, we don't get much sunshine here until 10AM (9 EST), and the temps are the coldest about 7:30 AM. We'll get it figured out though.

One more mowing maybe, and we'll use the grass clippings and leaves on the eroded parts of the banking, to try to prevent future erosion.

OH, I baked my first Bourbon Pumpkin Pie -- a recipe from the folks at Maker's Mark. We'll see how it comes out after dinner tonight!! If y'all want it, I can send the recipe to y'all.

It's a learning curve here -- and we're discovering that we have more questions than answers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday, October 31 - Halloween, Haying and First Frost

The neighbor across the road needed hay; we needed the front field cut. Solution? He cut the pasture, and will come back and bale the hay. Now we'll be able to see better where to plant a garden in the Spring . Neighbor helping neighbor, I guess. Shirley, please tell Bruce that haying is still continuing here, at the end of October! With the drought, farmers will take anything they can get. Hay is selling for $200 a ton in some parts of Kentucky right now.

We had our first frost the night of Oct 28-29, and another Oct 29-30. Temps got down to 27 by Monday morning, and to 31 by Tuesday morning. The pic is from Tuesday morning, about 8:30 am -- the sun doesn't even begin to penetrate the Knobs until about 8:00 and we don't get much direct sun until about 9:30 am, being about an hour later than it would be in Maine.

The tomato plant on the back deck got nipped but not killed, but they are NOT ripening, so Barry did the sensible thing, picked one, and we had fried green tomatoes for dinner last night. We can expect another 2 weeks of above-freezing temps, so maybe the tomatoes will make it after all. If not, another round of FGT will be in store.

If you notice that all the pics seem to be taken from the same place, it's intentional. I'd love to get together a PowerPoint presentation with the "View from the Front Porch" throughout the seasons of the year.

It's Hallo'we'en, and we didn't get a single Trick-Or-Treat-er. So we ate the candy. Well, not all of it, just a few pieces (along with a GREAT meat loaf made with, of all things, SALSA!! Of course, we really didn't expect anyone, having a 1/4 mile driveway up a hill in the back country knobs, but we bought some candy nonetheless.

OK, back to watching UK basketball, and uploading the pics and info from the Butchertown and Rousey cemeteries we've been photographing for "Find A Grave" -- a great web site for genealogists, if you haven't checked it out from my prior blog.

Tomorrow, maybe we'll go down the hill and get some of the hay to put around the pond as erosion control.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - Mountain climbing

Quick update, maybe with a few pictures.

On Thursday, we drove up to Lexington to Keeneland, our favorite race track in the whole world. They only race for a few weeks in April and October, and we've never been here for the October meet. We took loads of pictures on the cell phone -- but now we can't figure out how to get them off there! We called AT&T (the evil phone company) and Wal-Mart (through whom we bought the phone) and neither was any help. We'll probably have to buy some software and a USB cable just to get pictures off the phone when all we wanted was a stupid simple phone that makes and receives calls without all the bells and whistles no one can seem to get along without nowadays. I mean, do you really need to access spreadsheets on the internet on your PHONE for goodness sake? And who cares about having 300,000 ringtones. Wouldn't ONE do fine? Enough ranting. When we get the pix, I'll post some.

Barry wanted to go for a walk today, and I figured sure, why not. What I didn't anticipate was mountain climbing! Well, maybe not exactly that, but the knob out behind the house (pic is the house, as seen from the base of the back-yard knob) is about 200-250 feet higher than we are here, so it seemed like a good idea to go up there exploring. So off we went. I'd say it was about a 40 degree climb most of the way, following a small flock of wild turkeys (maybe WE were the real turkeys??) and boy, was I tuckered out by the time we got to the top -- but we DID! At an altitude of about 1350 feet, with the valley below us about 950 feet, we can see quite far up the valley. The thorn bushes attacked Barry repeatedly but he fought them off valiantly, suffering only a few minor injuries. Can't say the thorn bushes made out as well, though.

In any event, the fall foliage, the warm sun, and the bright blue sky made for a perfect hike through the backwoods of south-central Kentucky. The pic on the left was taken just below the summit -- to the north, it's almost a sheer drop-off of about 200 feet -- and knowing how I feel about heights, it's amazing I didnt' get sick just imagining falling off this knob! In any direction but north or west, one could travel for miles in the woods around here. Good news? Hunting season doesn't begin until mid-November.

We're expecting our first frost here tonight. Temps will be up in the 70 degree range by mid-week, and no frost in sight after tonight, but tonight we need to cover the tomato and hibiscus out on the back porch. The lemon trees, begonias, and Millicent Melissa Grungetta Fred the Second, are all indoors now, and the Orchid Cactus (don't ask me the Latin name, though I'd recognize it if I saw it) is proudly hanging in Barry's bedroom. We've given new meaning to the phrase "Garden Tub."

We actually had a fire in the fireplace last night. It was chilly, but with the fire, a temperature of 62 seemed nice and toasty warm. Just the smell of wood smoke makes a room feel 10-15 degrees warmer. We don't have much wood, haven't bought any, either, but we still have time. And the warmth of a wood fire simply can NOT be beaten!

OK, now to get back to Casey County cemetery records -- if you're interested, they're at Find A Grave, and I'm also uploading Oakland area records as I get the time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday, October 19 - Tornado warning update

Hour by hour details of our first tornado warning --

4PM - Tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warning for most of western and central Kentucky, including the next-door county. Moved everything that could blow around out of the way. Plants all went into the shed because they need to be sprayed before bringing them indoors. Wicker chairs went into the master bedrom for the duration.

5PM-9PM - Clouds racing by from SSW to NNE along the eastern side of the front. Reports of tornadic activity in western Kentucky and Missouri. Breezy but nothing unusual. Went to bed early.

10PM - Got up, looked to our northwest for an amazing light show. Lightning about every 3-5 seconds, but no thunder heard. The action was over near Elizabethtown moving up toward Louisville. Report of a tornado on the ground at Owensboro, about an hour NW of here. Light clouds here with stars still out. Went back to bed, looked like it wasn't going to happen here.

12AM - After a lull, the light show started up again, this time much closer to us. Some gusty wind but nothing major. Went back to bed.

2AM - Tornado warning for northern Kentucky, watch for the rest of us, this time Casey County is right in the middle of the red box on the Weather Channel. Watch up until 5AM. Went to bed with the weather alert radio right on my nightstand and the sound of huge raindrops on the roof. I don't know if the radio even works because we've never gotten an alert on it, and in the middle of a tornado is one heck of a time to find out I have it set wrong.

9AM - This is the latest the cat and I've slept since summer 2006. Bright blue sky, white puffy clouds, brilliant color everywhere, still a bit breezy, and little evidence of bad weather overnight. The plants are fine, the trees are fine, the cat's freaked out with the wind and the fact that we were up much of the night bothering his 20 hour-a-day nap!

I guess we were lucky this time, but for two guys from Maine, this was a nerve-wracking experience. If a tornado hits at night, one can't see it coming. These particular storms were giving people maybe 10 minutes warning they were moving so fast. We haven't yet heard of damage reports in Kentucky, except for the Ohio River bridge in Owensboro, which was inspected and pronounced safe for travel, after the tornado overnight.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday, October 18 - Tornado warning and Loretta Lynn

Doesn't make much sense combining these two, but that's our day today. There's a tornado warning for all of Kentucky west of us, but expected to be posted to the east overnight. We went around the house outside, putting all the plants, furniture, etc., in the shed because even if we don't get a tornado, we're expecting very high straight-line winds and hail. The hibiscus and summer cactus are beautiful, still, and we don't want to get those damaged.

Barry's on the phone right now, getting tickets for a Loretta Lynn concert in Renfro Valley. Barry's first LP record was of her music, so it's a pleasure to be able to see her in concert only an hour away from home.

OK, back to tornado preparedness. How do we move a mattress into the pantry?

OH, and Happy 127th Birthday, Carroll Brackett SANBORN!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, October 16 - Just hanging around

OK, so I haven't written in awhile. Apologies to those of you who read my blog on a regular basis -- THANKS SHIRLEY!! Can you believe, Carroll Brackett SANBORN not Carroll Benjamin SANBORN? The things we learn...

Anyway, I've been working with three gals on photographing cemetery stones here in Casey County. There are over 300 cemeteries we've identified, and our goal is to photograph each and every stone in each and every cemetery. I spent last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings working with Brenda, Linda and Rochelle, going into parts of the county that I'd never imagined I'd ever see. One place was a field off a cow path off a dirt road off a gravel road -- my poor little truck barely made it through, but we found a little cemetery in the woods, mostly fieldstones, but one stone with an inscription. We preserved it forever!

Now I'm spending days and evenings working on a website called Find A Grave, entering the inscriptions on the stones, and uploading the pictures. I've also expanded (since I have SO much free time) to do the cemeteries in Rome, Smithfield, Sidney, Belgrade and Oakland, so those will be preserved. All of Barry's relative's stones have been entered into the Elm Vale Cemetery in Waterford (have yet to do West Cumberland, Minot, Falmouth, etc), and I have done a few of my own family as well. It's a long-range project, perfect for those long, cold winter nights (when the temps here will actually get into the 20s at night).

Rick and Laura came up this past weekend, and we took them to Constitution Square (where Kentucky's state government was born) and more importantly, Burke's Bakery -- the source of the best dinner rolls, cookies, and spice bars in the entire UNIVERSE! Laura's mom cooked some of the rolls that we brought to Paducah awhile back, the way Barry had suggested -- a bit of butter and garlic salt in the frying pan -- and said they were the best ever! Of course! Barry is THE master cook in my humble opinion.

Laura took a nice nap, while we watched the University of Kentucky football team BEAT number-1-ranked-Louisiana State University in THREE overtimes! This is mind-boggling for sports fans. GO BIG BLUE! Just a nice, relaxing weekend -- Rick couldn't get in touch with any of his friends on his cell phone -- we're in a totally dead zone here -- so he was actually able to enjoy the game without interruption.

They both, we hope, had a nice, relaxing weekend before heading home to Paducah.

We STILL haven't closed on the house yet, but everyone we talk with says it's imminent. We'll see.

Feeding the fish in the pond is getting different -- the cooler weather means that the catfish stay near the bottom and aren't very active. We just bought 40# of fish food, but we will be using it since we will be feeding the little critters throughout most of the winter (which is only about 6 weeks here, from what we're told). It's crazy how the bluegills line up near the shore whenever they know that Barry is on his way. Like pigs at a trough, they wait for him to feed them. At this rate, they're becoming as much pets as the fish in the aquarium in the living room -- can't see eating them, but the cats are different. They swim by and all I can see is a nice catfish filet, deep-fried, with garlic and butter and cajun spices...of course I won't mind catching them but Barry will have to do the other yuckky stuff of processing them for eating!

Overnight temps last night were in the low 60s and it got up into the mid to high 70s today when the sun was out. It was a partly cloudy day with maybe four brief showers, not amounting to a tinker's dam. The drought here is at the extreme level, and though there is a state-wide burning ban, we see people burning in their back yards all the time. I guess in some cases, obeying the law isn't a big thing in this part of Kentucky. All-in-all, it's still like a Maine mid-August here. We have the windows open at night, no A/C or heat on, but it's absolutely perfect weather (lack of rain excepted).

The leaves are turning, barely -- not much like Maine this time of year, more like late August or early September -- but it IS getting more colorful. Seeing the reds and oranges come out, and having the temps in the 70s is really wierding me out though! It's supposed to be COLD when the leaves turn, and it isn't. It's still like summer. WHEN will I EVER miss going back to school?

Flying things -- we haven't seen many lately but today was a gold mine. Three or four yellow-shafted flickers, and TWO, yes TWO pileated woodpeckers. Robins, obviously fattened up from their summer in Maine, and the usual sparrows. We've also seen indigo buntings, bluebirds, and a couple of others we have yet to identify. The butterflies, I think, have either died off, or migrated south. Not too many of them left, but as I wrote earlier, they're as large as birds in Maine, and most of the birds are as small as butterflies.

The tomatoes are still growing -- another month maybe if we're lucky, and we'll have more fresh tomatoes. The hibiscus blossoms nearly every day with blooms that are much larger than they were in Maine. Our Swiss chard, carrots and spinach were stunted by the 100 degree heat though, and haven't recovered. We need to get some shelving to bring the plants in when the weather does get cold -- into Danville tomorrow to see what we can find. We have nine ceiling to floor windows that should be great for plants -- IF we can keep the CAT out of the plant pots. We think that paper plates and screening around the base of the plants should do the trick. The master bath (the "garden" tub if you will) will really be a garden tub. Barry trimmed some green astro-turf for the bottom and the sides, and we will be planting plants there under the skylight for the winter. "Millicent Matilda Grungetta Fred the Second", (the sheffleria -- sp?) will have the matron's place of honor at the bottom of the tub, since she's about five feet tall and won't fit anywhere else; the sea grape and lemon trees from Florida may go in front of the other windows since they need more light, but we'll see. Anyway, no one will be taking a relaxing bath in the "garden" tub this winter unless he wishes to bathe with plants!

OK, I really need to write more in the blog, so I will try to do a better job. Even if it's mundane stuff, it's more like a diary anyway, than an historical piece of work. Enough drivel for now. Hopefully tomorrow or Thursday we'll nave some news about the closing. We're sitting here waiting...waiting...waiting...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

e, KY.

The 145th anniversary of the Confederate attempt to win Kentucky for the South.

Finally, after months of wondering what this re-enactment would be like, we made it there.

The day was hot, close to 90 degrees, but the crowd was not that large, and the battlefield is open, so it wasn't crowded at all. It was not a large re-enactment, certainly not like last year when 35,000 re-enactors showed up, but it was a great day nonetheless.

The re-enactment

Union Soldiers on the move

Mounted Union Officers

The Union Charge

The Confederate Response
Mounted Confederate Officers

The Confederate Charge

After the first day of battle...

On the second day, Union forces routed Confederate forces from the field. Both armies moved toward Danville -- the county courthouse was used as a field hospital -- and Confederate forces moved south into Tennessee, the last time a major Confederate army existed in Kentucky. Oh, there were raids, notably Morgan's raids, right in this part of Casey County, for example, but never again was Kentucky to be seriously considered part of the Confederacy.

Lincoln had said early in the war,
"I would like to have God on my side, but I MUST have Kentucky."

Friday, October 5 - History, Genealogy and Tomatoes

Here's the story for which we were waiting. A very old log cabin, surrounded by an old house -- the owner wants it all gone so he can build a new house. This log cabin, for various reasons, is potentially one of the oldest extant buildings in Kentucky. Last night, Barry and I went to the meeting to see what can and ought to be done to preserve it. Sounds like the beginnings of the Oakland Area Historical Society, when we had a small organization and were offered one of the oldest houses in town, that had to be moved at great expense. We did it, and today, that building is the Macartney House Museum. What will become of the log cabin we don't know yet, but it should be preserved, even if it has to be moved to Constitution Square, to join the other historic structures there.

While there, we also connected with the Boyle County Genealogical Association, and plan to begin going to their meetings soon. There's nothing like this in Casey County, though the Boyle people work regularly with people of other counties -- much like the OAHS works with Sidney, Belgrade, Rome, etc.

On another note, we picked our first tomato today. The plant originally was a little, Maine-born, 2 inch tall straggler which hitch-hiked its way to Kentucky by hiding in the begonia pot. Now it's taken over a corner of the back deck, and is working its way along the railings. We should have another month of growing here, and even in mid-November, we may be able to protect the plant so we'll have fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving.

The knob on our east prevents the morning sun from greeting us until about 8:30 or 9:00 nowadays, and as we get closer to the standard time shift, it will be 9:30 before we actually see much of the sun shining on the ground. The corollary to that however, is that we are among the last in the valley to lose sunlight in the evening, and I guess I would prefer to have more sun late than early in the day. Being so far west in the Eastern Time Zone though, means that the hottest part of the day isn't between 1 and 3 PM, but rather closer to 3 to 6 PM. Back in Maine it's getting cooler by 3PM, but here it's still warming up. Funny how that works.

Foliage here is just beginning to show some color, a few reds and yellows. It'll probably be very drab due to the drought (KY is now officially a disaster area). It'll be another few weeks before anything really noticeable can be seen.

Saturday, it's off to PERRYVILLE.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wednesday, Oct 3 - Neighbors and Sunset

OK, some explanation first. We were visited by a pileated woodpecker -- the very same type of bird which served as a model for cartoon character, "Woody Woodpecker." They're very wary of people and are seldom seen outside the deep woods. Well, we had one visit us this morning. They're quite large birds with a brilliant red head, just like Woody. We've seen many different birds here, includnig of course the Cardinal, but also the Indigo Bunting. The birds are small compared to Maine -- yet the butterflies are huge! I don't know if this particular woodpecker is any bigger than its cousins in Maine, but I'd be willing to bet he is. Around dark, we also are visited by 2-3, maybe 4 bats, circling above the pond, catching insects.

If anyone wonders why we moved down here, take a look at this sunset -- do you need a definition of the phrase "sky-blue pink"? Here it is. The first picture was taken just off our front porch; the other was taken down by the fish pond.

The bluegills tonight (and last night and the night before) got a special treat -- actual tropical fish flake food. Now we're out of that so we need to get some more. Interestingly, the catfish (which will eat anything that moves and most of what doesn't) won't touch the stuff.

So Barry feeds the gills inshore while I give the cats the cheapest dog food we can buy offshore. Keeps them in separate reastaurants, so to speak, but at least that way the gills have a chance at food.

We've spent a hectic day dealing with lawyers, closing, real estate agents, health insurance providers, state is SO nice just to go down by the pond and feed the fish!

But this weekend -- (I think I mentioned this)


Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday, Oct 1 - Update and PORK FAT RULES!

It's 81 in the shade here right now (1:00 pm). It sure doesn't feel like fall, and this morning even, it was only 57, so it's certainly like a nice Maine summer day. School can NOT have started yet. The leaves are beginning to turn just a bit, but it's mostly because of the drought -- they're going from green to brown and crinkly without passing through the reds, yellows and oranges.

This past weekend, we went to Paducah, to the barbecue -- I think I mentioned that we were going. We went downtown Friday afternoon to pick up some ribs and pulled pork. Emeril would be proud of us since "PORK FAT RULES!" The crowd on Saturday evening was estimated at 30,000-40,000, jammed into a small area near the riverfront, which made it just TOO packed for our liking. It's a good thing we went on Friday. When we went back on Saturday evening, there were just too many people, many booths had sold out, and the few that were still open had lines up the street. We estimated that one place would have had a 45 minute wait in line, so we went back to Rick and Laura's and ordered out for pizza!

On Sunday we went up to Smithland (about an hour away from Paducah) to visit friends of Laura's parents. Jack and Marilyn had us for lunch (well, not literally), then Jack took us over to one of the last ferries on the Ohio River. We crossed the river to Cave In Rock, IL, a little town that has a big history. When early settlers were taking flatboats down the Ohio River in the early 1800s, "river pirates" would rob, harass, beat, or even murder unsuspecting travelers. The picture from the inside of the cave looking out is almost exactly like one I took. The cave itself was certainly large enough to house a modern convenience store (or even a small Wal-Mart), and of course it would have been sheltered and well-protected from outsiders. If you click on the link to "river pirates" above, you'll see quite a history about this group of reprobates!

Also, check out the movie How The West Was Won to see Jimmy Stewart's scene, which was filmed right there in Cave In Rock. Other scenes, as the family settles down on the Ohio River, were filmed in Paducah, only a short distance away from where the barbecue festival was held.

By the way, I'm really missing an active historical society here in Casey County, KY, so I think I might start one! There's a great old house (about 15 miles south of here) that was attacked by Morgan's Raiders in 1862, on his way from TN up through KY into OH. The bullet hole in the front door is still there. It's falling down, and no one seems to have any interest in preserving it. Have a look - from the Advocate Messenger article.

In nearby Danville (12 miles north), a couple wanting to build a new house on the site of their present house were going to sell the logs from the original log cabin, which has been enlarged and modernized. Well, it turns out that the building may have been the first building constructed in Danville, ca 1780, and is probably the oldest building in Kentucky! It was huge by the standards of the day, and historians believe it was where the Kentucky Supreme Court first met. It obviously was some sort of meeting house, and -- get this -- it's only 3 blocks from downtown! Next Tuesday, there's a public meeting to see what can be done to save the building. Guess who's gonna be there? More info from the Advocate Messenger on the story.

And finally, check out this page to see what a nuisance I'm gonna be down here...

You can move the member out of the historical society, but you can't take the historical society out of the member -- once addicted, forever addicted!

This coming weekend:


(Note the BLUE and GRAY). Wait until I get THOSE pictures up and running!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 23 - Settling Down

It's odd. School has been in session here for 6 or 7 weeks, and back in Maine for 4, yet it doesn't seem like that should be the case. I guess, psychologically, I'm not ready for school until I hear the first frost warning on the Weather Channel -- and around here, that's not likely for at least another month, maybe six weeks. So I should psychologically be ready to miss teaching by about November 1.

Temperatures this week have hovered in the mid to upper 80's, and predicted highs for Monday are 93-94 depending on what station one listens to. Our lows here are the highs in Maine, though I hear you all have had some hot ones. Bear in mind, "hot" in Maine means 85 for 2 hours; "hot" here means low 100's for two weeks.

We're settling into a routine here, which is why I haven't written much lately. I don't want to bore people with, "got up, ate breakfast, ate lunch, ate dinner, fed the fish, watched tv, went to bed". But in reality, outside of a few trips to Danville or Liberty for errands, we haven't done too much exciting here. That will change over the next two weeks though...

Paducah - The Barbecue is coming up next weekend. We're going over to Paducah to attend with Rick and Laura and anyone else who wants 12.5 TONS of good ribs within a stone's throw of the Ohio River.

Perryville - The Re-enactment is coming up October 6 and 7. Rick and Laura will be joining us from Paducah for two days of historical fun and excitement.

This past week, we drove down to Liberty (our county seat) twice. First, on Thursday, the 20th, we witnessed Pizza Hut cooking a 10 foot pizza, and enjoyed the county fair atmosphere. We also bought a quilt -- well, it's not a REAL quilt, just a large piece of fabric printed with a quilt pattern, then stitched to look like a quilt -- but nonetheless, it was made locally (not in China or Bangladesh) and it's just the right color combination and style for our house.

Then Friday the 21st, we drove west over to Lebanon (next county over, and I think in the next time zone, too), then south into Liberty, to witness the 10 foot apple pie being prepared. Disappointment! By the time we got there, about 4PM, it was already in the oven (we though it was going in at 9PM or so), and quite frankly, it wasn't much to look at. We didn't actually go back on Saturday to taste it, because we couldn't see how that one pie, big as it was, could actually feed the estimated 20,000 people who were going to show up! So Barry went to Wal-Mart, bought a frozen apple pie (very good I might add), and had our OWN Apple Festival!

Monday and Tuesday, Barry's going back to school. He's taking two computer courses (MS Word and MS Excel) a great way, and a great time to hone his computer skills, which should help in the job hunt. I'll be here mowing the edges of the lawn and driveway that I don't dare to get with the lawn tractor (that thing should have roll bars and a seat belt -- I feel I'm going to fall off most of the time). I'll also work on my online book business -- just this week I shall have added 100 or so titles, AND I've got Barry working with Adobe Acrobat making the files "searchable". His computer is MUCH faster than mine, I really appreciate the help, and he's enjoying it.

I'l post some pictures as soon as I get the chance to get them off the camera and cam-corder. The computer's been busy with business, but Monday I REALLY need to work on the pictures.

It's 10PM and the temperature is still 75 out -- we have 2 fans on, rather than turn on the A/C after the electric bill came! Everyone we've talked to says that this recent bill is the highest they've EVER had here. Well, when temps are over 100 for days on end, what do we expect? Interesting though -- back in Maine a bill for the same amount of electricity we've used would be about about $450. The next couple of months should be a lot less as we'll use neither A/C nor heat to any great extent.

That's about it for now. If I remember anything else I want to tell you, I'll just put it in another blog entry.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday, September 16 - Just hanging around

Barry went up to Nicholasville again today to get a refund on the sweatshirts that were overcharged the other day. While there, he picked up a few things -- on sale, great prices. If Kohl's ever opens up in Danville, we'll both need 2nd jobs just to take care of what we buy.

Nice day today, dry, cool (about 75, maybe 65 in the shade). I did some reading on the back deck out in the warm sun -- it felt about like July in Maine.

Tonight, after dinner and after feeding the fish, I took the dulcimer out on the front porch played "Amazing Grace." It's the first time I've played the dulcimer here in Kentucky, which is most fitting since it was MADE here and I'm just bringing it back home. Anyway, Barry sat out on the porch and listened to some country music -- which of course was born here, or at least near here. We've never been able to play music outdoors wherever we've lived (at least not in the past 6-7 years) so it was a real treat. While he was playing "Country Roads" by John Denver, I really listened to the lyrics, and I think with a few changes, the song totally describes our life here.

Almost heaven, Old Kentucky
In knob country, Green and Barren Rivers
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I belong
Old Kentucky, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories, gather round her
Miners lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye


I hear her voice, in the morning hours she calls me
The radio reminds me it's my home from now on
And driving down the road I get a feeling
That I did come home yesterday, yesterday


It just seemed the lyrics fit -- the knobs were dark and dusty against a gorgeously painted sky, and we certainly DO live on a country road which takes us home.

Though it's not without its problems (what is?), we're totally happy here, and we both just KNOW we made the right move.

Oh, and did I mention that KENTUCKY beat LOUISVILLE last night? Just in case I didn't,

KENTUCKY beat LOUISVILLE last night.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday evening, Sep 15 - UK beats Louisville

If you didn't see the game, the Wildcats got the Cardinals. WHAT A GAME! 40 - 34 for the first win by UK against Louisville in 5 years, and the first time UK has beaten a top 10 team in 30 years. And in this sports-crazy state, Lexington is total chaos right now...

Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 15 - Voting and Mennonites

It's only 52 days until Election Day. Plus there's an active Mennonite community here in Casey County. Now those two items may see to have nothing in common, but they actually do.

We needed to find K C's Quick Stop convenience store in Hustonville. That's where we will vote. So off we headed. Oh, and it's supposed to be on the way to south Casey County where the Mennonite community is located.

Well, we drove all over heck's kitchen in the Hustonville area, running from Ellisburg to Chicken Bristle (YES Virginia, there IS a Chicken Bristle, KY), trying to find K C's. Never did, gave up, headed for south Casey (many people don't even bother to say "Casey County" -- it's just "Casey" like you should assume they mean "Casey County". LATER: We called the store when we got home, so now at least we know where to vote -- we just didn't go far enough out KY-78.

In any event, I had read that the Mennonite community was located along KY-910 near the village of, get this, "Phil." There's a "Teddy" right down the road from "Phil" but that's for another trip. Well, we ended up at the end of KY-910 in Russell Springs, sort of hungry and thirsty so we stopped at McD's. I could say that we drove over into the Central Time Zone for a cheeseburger, but that wouldn't be exactly accurate. We DID drive over into the Central Time Zone, and happened to find McD's. You see, Casey is the western-most county in the Eastern time zone -- which is why our sunrises and sunsets are about an hour later than they are in Waterville. Yikes, the sun is barely over the knobs by 9AM here!

Well, wouldn't you know, we actually found almost NO Mennonite stores or businesses on KY-910. But we DID stop at the "Bread of Life Cafe" and bought a Penn's Ham, home-made bread, and some sorghum. A bit of explanation...

(1) Penn's Ham is a tradition around here. You may have heard of "Smithfield Ham" from Virginia -- well, Penn's is KY's version. We haven't tried it yet, but it is supposed to be "finest-kind" as we'd say in Maine. Cutter's Whistle Stop in Moreland serves ONLY Penn.

(2) The Bread of Life Cafe is a fund raiser for the Galilean Children's Home, begun by Sandy Tucker, a Mennonite, many years ago, taking in homeless children. It's an institution around here, and the cafe and a Goodwill-type store in Liberty, are the main fund raisers for the home. The restaurant offers Amish-style buffets twice a day, all you can eat of great home-cooked food for $11.95. It's not a bad price, and considering where the profits go, we need to return for dinner soon.

(3) Sorghum is a molasses-like syrup produced from the sorghum plant. It looks like corn, but the syrup is more nutritious than molasses. There are several sorghum mills around here where the sorghum cane is pressed for its juice, and the juice is then boiled down (10-1 ratio) much as maple syrup is made in Maine. Kentucky and Tennessee are the two top sorghum syrup producing states in the country.

Barry is in the kitchen now baking corn bread, on which we WILL spread the delicious (I hope), amber-colored sweet syrup. Doctors used to prescribe sorghum because of its high nutrition level, not found in other sugary syrups.

Now that we're home, I found out that most of the Mennonite/Amish businesses and shops are OFF KY-910, along South Fork Creek Road or South Fork Ridge Road, and there are literally dozens of them, ranging from leather harness stores to quilt shops. One place even advertises that it has hitching posts out front for you to tie up hour horse and buggy. Anything from quilts to cheese, bulk foods, leather goods, daylilies to sorghum and home-made jams, jellies and breads. I can see where we're going shopping for gifts in the future.

Now to dinner, and to watch or listen to the University of Kentucky (Lexington) v University of Louisville (not Lexington) football game -- it's kind of like the Sox v Yankess back in Maine. The results will be the headline in every newspaper in the state tomorrow.

The Advocate Messenger in Danville has videos of the candidates we saw yesterday -- Beshear, Conway, Fletcher, Lee (alphabetically). In the Beshear video, right at the beginning, he's referring to a totally scared squirrel running back and forth on the lawn in front of the stage. It doesn't come over well on the video, but in person it was totally hilarious!

My, what we're learning here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday, September 14 - Catching up

OK, it's been awhile since I've written. Not that nothing has happened, but nothing out of the ordinary, or nothing unusual or or really noteworthy has happened. Well, now that I think about it ...

We went to a political rally today in Danville -- the first time either Barry or I had ever been to one (I hate to admit that as a former history-government teacher). It was the Constitution Square Celebration -- it was in Danville in 1792 that the Constitution for the Commonwealth of Kentucky was written, so Danville was the first capital of Kentucky. Candidates for several public offices were there -- governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, secretary of state -- in Maine these last three would be appointed by the governor but in Kentucky they're elected positions.

Anyway, Steve Beshear (D, challenger) and Ernie Fletcher (R, incumbent) duked it out for 15 minutes each. I have already decided how I will vote in this contest, but it was nonetheless interesting to hear both candidates. After Beshear spoke, I got a chance to shake his hand and comment on one of his political ads saying that as governor he would pass a law requiring universal health care. I reminded him that as governor he could not pass laws, and he said, quietly, "I know that." I only wish his campaign ad had not said that he could.

The candidates for Attorney-General couldn't have been more opposite. Stan Lee (R) and Jack Conway (D) were on totally opposite sides of the fence on every issue. I had been leaning toward one of them, but it only took about 20 seconds of one speech for me to confirm my choice. One of the candidates for agriculture commissioner is named "Farmer." How ironic.

After the speeches, we wandered around the 200 or so vendors (maybe we'll go back tomorrow, or maybe we'll go to Bardstown, to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival), but didn't buy anything. Possibly that was because we went up to Nicholasville yesterday, to Kohl's. It's always bad news when we go to Kohl's. I'm up for their "frequent shopper" award now -- I wonder if I can get sky miles...

We bought a rug steamer (on sale, plus 15% off) -- the house is 90% carpeted, and I figured that with a rug steamer of our own, we'd keep the carpet in better condition than we would if we rented a steamer every time we needed one (which we probably would not do until the carpet was totally beyond help). Of course, on the way, we checked out the 60%-90% clearance racks. Wouldn't you know -- we both found things we really needed. Plus we got 15% off for using our Kohl's charge card! Thank goodness Kohl's is in Nicholasville (about 35 miles away) or we'd be there every day!

We had to go to Lexington Monday, and we stopped in Frankfort at the Honda dealership there -- Barry needed a new side mirror (thanks to my lousy driving), so we ordered the mirror. Went back up to Frankfort on Wednesday to get it installed. Then off to Nicholasville on Thursday, Danville today, Bardstown tomorrow? The cat seems to wonder where we are all the time...

The house still hasn't closed -- one of these days I'll tell close friends in an email what is happening -- but it will all work out. My house in Waterville hasn't sold -- who wants a 2-apartment house in Waterville's South end, beautifully landscaped, for a steal? I've dropped the price twice now (it's down to $74,900), and no serious takers yet. I'm scared that if it doesn't sell soon I'll be paying for heat for a house that has no tenants -- and I don't want tenants in Waterville if I'm in Kentucky -- too much of a hassle, I mean, think of all the damage they could do that I would have to have repaired. Not worth the chance, so I'll keep it empty.

I mentioned the Kentucky Bourbon Festival earlier. Every day, there's something going on within 50 miles of here. We could literally be on the road every day -- Apple Festival in Liberty this coming week, Constitution Square festival in Danville now, Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, World Chicken Festival in London -- and those are just the ones I can remember for THIS week...brass bands, wine tasting, Civil War re-enactments...if I were working I'd miss 99% of it -- as it is, we'll probably still have to miss 75% of it because there's SO much going on. "Evita" in Paducah, is out this week (conflicts with the apple festival in Liberty), but the barbecue festival there NEXT week is on. Civil War in Richmond, Crab Orchard, Camp Nelson, and of course Perryville, all in the next 3 weeks, and it doesn't end with December either. Aretha Franklin at Centre College in Danville, plus a probable presidential debate at Centre next year...Hokey-smokes, doesn't anyone here take ANY time off?

Last weekend (Sep 8, Barry's birthday) it was the Butchertown Country Day, held 1/4 mile up the road. Food, music (Billyblues, of course), games, auction, just an old-fashioned country get-together. Oh my, I tried the sausage and biscuits and pineapple-carrot cake. Barry tried the boiled beans among other things. Now, another trip to Kohl's for larger clothes is in order. These folks can COOK!

On a sadder note (Alison and Senora, please tell Mei about this), we've now tried our 4th (and last) Chinese restaurant here in Danville. The best of them is OK, the worst should have had the 911 emergency number printed on the take-out menu. We ordered crab rangoon and "double happiness" (shrimp and chicken, at least I think I might have seen some chicken in it) tonight. Best I can say is that we didn't die (yet). OK, it wasn't that bad, but having had Ming Lee set the standard for good Chinese food, we just haven't found anything here that can faintly compare with the food that Mei would have thrown out at Ming Lee.

OK, got to sit down with Barry to plan our next outing -- Got to go back to Kohl's 'cause we were overcharged on 2 items. How about finding a festival on the way there or near there? There's got to be SOMETHING! OH, the Advocate (local newspaper) Brass Band is playing Sunday. Yeah, we won't get bored. Not for a LONG time.