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!