Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday, May 27 - Catching Up

Let's start from the beginning here. First, Rick and Laura's baby, Elizabeth Rose, was born May 22, at 9:23 AM. She weighed 7 lbs even, and was 20 1/4 inches long. I'm not posting pictures yet because of privacy, but believe me, we've taken LOADS already. We arrived in Paducah on the 21st, and did a few things to help out -- things that Rick couldn't do that needed doing, mostly. We got the car seat installed, ran errands, just did what we could do.

Maureen is now 10 weeks along, and other than morning sickness and back pain, things seem to be progressing nicely. We haven't started buying any baby "stuff" yet but that too will change. More details as she progresses with my first grandchild (though living with the cat is sometimes like living with a 2-year-old)!

My best friend from junior high and high school, and his wife have moved to Nashville. Well, Kathy has anyway -- for work; Kenn will be staying in Massachusetts and commuting once a month to Tennessee. We hope to get to see them when things settle down. After all, Nashville's only about 3 hours away.

We're trying to plan a getaway to the Great Smokies, Knoxville, Gatlinburg area, but there's so much going on around here (county fairs start next week, and the Great American Brass Band festival begins June 16) it's getting difficult to fit in. We'll probably rent a car -- Enterprise has a weekend special -- and save the wear and tear on either of our vehicles that way.

The cicadas are out. Barry got a GREAT photo of both the nymph and the adult -- the nymph shell is on the left and the adult is on the right. They look really scary, but are totally harmless. All they do at this stage is call for mates and reproduce, lay eggs, and crawl back in the ground to emerge in the year 2025 again! They are everywhere, their shells are everywhere, and the holes from which they emerged are everywhere! Just amazing what nature does.

The garden is growing very well; we've had lettuce (romaine, butter crunch, black seeded simpson), radishes (not bitter or hot at all, and the size of golf balls), beet greens (with little and some not so little beets on the ends), swiss chard (one "small" picking pictured here - the tub is about 1ft high x 1.5 ft wide x 2 ft long),

and spinach so far. Other plants are blossoming or fruiting now.

The tulip tree (state tree of Kentucky) has a couple of blossoms on it. The blossoms aren't very obvious or showy, but they sure as heck look like tulips!

The peach tree has 5 peaches, the strawberries will be ready to begin picking in another couple of days, and the black walnuts (pictured at the right) have begun to fruit as well.

Barry also got this great photo of a honeybee on the holly right on the side porch. Maureen, he's getting to be quite the photographer with the new Canon camera -- maybe HE can give YOU some lessons one of these days...

And of course, we still have those beautiful sky-blue-pink sunsets.

The cat (here waiting for his dinner) has adapted well. We've let him out a couple of times, under strict supervision of course, and once he gets his feel for the neighborhood, he'll be ok. The other day, he strolled down by the Salt River, and saw the cows in the field across the stream. We've planted catnip for him, so once that is up higher, and he notices it, he shouldn't stray too far!

The front garden is just about done. We've planted corn (3-4 types, don't remember), beans, okra, tomatoes (3 types), bell peppers, canteloupe (2 types), watermelon (2 types), and maybe a few more things I can't quite remember. If it all grows, we'll need to buy another freezer and do loads of canning as well! We also planted 9 raspberry canes and 2 plum trees. Now to just watch and wait...(Barry and cat looking out over the back garden).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday, 4 May - The Derby, happy and sad

Well, yesterday was the Kentucky Derby. One had the feeling that it was a holiday, like the 4th of July. The anticipation of the race, like the anticipation of fireworks on the Fourth, was around all day. After all, the Kentucky Derby is THE big event in this state, drawing 150,000 people to Churchill Downs. People all over the world have Derby parties -- we heard of one going on in the Netherlands, where people were watching Lexington TV online. Channel 18 carried the events in Louisville live all day, and it was really interesting to catch it all, right here in Kentucky. Just to think, the Derby was going to happen only 40 straight-line miles from here!

We didn't get up to Lexington to place any bets at Keeneland, where there was a huge Derby party going on. It's a good thing -- to spend that money for gas just to go up and place some bets at the drive-through window, then come home, would have been a waste of time and money. Now if we had been going there for the day, that would have been a different story. Weather wasn't the best, so maybe next year.

However, we did pick some fresh Kentucky-grown spearmint for our mint juleps. We made the spearmint syrup (enough to go for several drinks), and got out the pewter cups which we only use on Derby day. All was in readiness.

Anyway, we asked Barry's son to place some bets for us at his local racetrack, which he did. The good news -- I won some money on "Denis of Cork" -- I bet on him because of his first name... I also won the exacta (pick the 1st and 2nd horse), with "Big Brown" and "Eight Belles". Happy Day! Look for Denis of Cork in the Preakness and the Belmont coming up. He'll have MY bet, that's for sure. He was dead last, 20th, in the back stretch, yet he finished third! Big Brown finished first from the 20th starting position -- hasn't happened in the Derby since 1929! If he can win from that position as convincingly as he did, may he will be the next Triple Crown winner!

Then, right after she finished second, Eight Belles broke both of her front ankles, and had to be put down right there on the track! The joy of winning was gone...what a tragedy to see a beautiful animal like Eight Belles now gone. Many of the women at Churchill Downs, and all over the world probably, were betting on the one girl in a field of 20 horses. And by golly she beat 18 of the best colts in the race! It's so sad -- her trainer and her jockey had the winning horse in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. Eight Belles was supposed to run in the Oaks, but her owner or trainer chose to put her up against the boys -- and she did SO well.

It's not the old ABC sports motto, "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat," but the juxtaposed emotions are the same. This Derby will not be forgotten for a long while.