Friday, April 30, 2010

Post 1 - Ceremony in Frankfort

Today, Barry's son, Rick, was officially sworn in as an attorney.  In an impressive ceremony, members of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, met in the House of Representatives chamber at the capital in Frankfort, where 144 new lawyers were given the oath of office.  By the way, Kentucky is the only state that requires new lawyers (and other elected officials) to swear that they have never taken part in, or never assisted in, a duel!  Apparently, it used to be a big thing, but nowadays, it's just one of those anachronisms that makes life interesting.
After the ceremony, we met Mr. Justice Cunningham, representing western Kentucky, and he took us on a tour of his office and the Supreme Court chambers.  Impressive!

So now, the lawyer jokes can begin in earnest.

Post 2 - An old friend returns

One of our ruby-throated hummingbirds came back this evening. It was a gorgeous day, in the 80s (still 75 now), and sunny, so Barry and I were having dessert out on the back deck. We had a plant hanger which we bought in Maine, on which we hung two hummingbird feeders last year and the year before. Well, while we were finishing up dessert, one of the little critters just showed up on the top of the hanger, looking for his red feeder.

Now people think birds are dumb, but hummingbirds will REMEMBER where they were fed last year, and after a flight all the way from South America to Kentucky, they will come back to the same feeding station for as long as they are alive.

Now if you want to feed the hummingbirds in your back yard, DO NOT use any liquid with red food coloring or dye in it. It can actually damage the hummingbirds' livers. Take 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 cups of water (or any 1:4 proportion). Boil it for a few minutes, let it cool, then put it in the feeder. Don't worry, it WILL attract ants, but just clean them out every time you refill the feeder.

Hummingbirds are very territorial, so you may want two or more feeders.  Males will generally chase the females away from the feeder unless the females have mated with them.   I guess that's the hummingbird's way of saying "dinner and a movie" after mating!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cutting, boiling, gardening

Barry busied himself today transplanting all the annuals he had been growing in the two LLBean greenhouses Maureen bought us.  We'll have all sorts of beautiful flowers in a month or two.  He also is growing some portulaca for the window boxes, and his tomatoes are up about 6 inches, an looking really healthy and sturdy.  Give the man a stick and he'll grow a tree.  He could make ANYTHING grow -- a true gardening Merlin!

While he was working in the gardens, I was busy chopping away at the burning bush (winged euonymous) shrub.  They get out of hand if they're not chopped back, so I got out the hedge trimmers and went to work.  No matter how much I tried to get it perfect, every time the wind blew, there was ONE MORE little branch that stuck its tongue out at me.  Luckily, I kept the trimmers out and hacked all the little offenders off!  At least now, the shrubs won't take over the side porch, and frankly, they look quite good.

Meanwhile I busied myself with making spearmint syrup for Kentucky Derby Day!  Barry's son, Rick, gave us two pewter Julep Cups several years ago, and we only use them on Derby Day.  I bought six silver-plate cups about the same time, and we use those for everyday Mint Juleps.

We have our own "Kentucky Colonel" spearmint, and today I picked a whole load of it, ran it through the blender, added water, boiled it, and made spearmint tea.  Then I strained it, added sugar, and boiled it down to a syrup.

Now, on Saturday, I'll take loads of crushed ice, a couple of teaspoons of spearmint syrup, a good KENTUCKY Bourbon (none of that cheap rotgut Tennessee stuff), pour the bourbon over the crushed ice, bruise a small bunch of spearmint and run it over the pebbly edge of the glass to release the heavenly aroma of the mint, and sit back, watch the Derby, sing "My Old Kentucky Home", and you're very close to Heaven!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The only remedy for a cold, dreary day is ...

Spinach and ham quiche, along with rhubarb-lemon muffins.

Anything that will help take the dreary off is welcome.  Our spinach crop is growing as I write, can almost watch it.  Plus some leftover ham from Easter -- what better way to combine the two than in a spinach and ham quiche.  So I whipped one up, and while I was working on that, Barry whipped up a batch of rhubarb-lemon muffins, to take advantage of the fact that the oven was already hot.

Guess that takes care of dinner, AND breakfast tomorrow!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Neighbors, Old Neighbors

We have at least three new four-footed neighbors -- two bulls and one heifer.  They're about a week old, and it's so much fun to watch them running around and cavorting in the pasture.  This little gal was just BEGGING me to take her picture!  I was also able to get some great shots of the two little bulls -- or is that "bull-ets"?

This evening, Barry and I went to the Boyle County Genealogical Society meeting, which was held in Perryville instead of the usual Danville location.  The topic tonight was a tour of "Merchant's Row," a series of ante-bellum stores and other businesses along what was the main street in this little town on October 8, 1862.

The first settlers, James Harbison and others, lived in a cave protected from Indian attack and provided with drinking water, during their first winter in the area about 1775.  The cave still runs with water (and loads of snakes, so we were told), down to the Chaplin River (which rises right near our post office) and it apparently runs about 12 miles in the other direction.  The picture on the right shows the opening of the cave as it appears today (literally, TODAY).  It was walled in about 1929, and is one of the most intriguing historical sites in this area.  I'm SO glad we got a chance to see it.

The photo on the left shows the cave outlet UNDER a house, flowing to the Chaplin River.  SO cool to live OVER a cave and a small river.  On the right is the river-side portion of several buildings currently undergoing renovation, one a store from about 1830 on, which will once again become a store.

But on October 8, 1862, two huge armies, one from the North, one from the South, accidentally met at Perryville.  At issue was who was going to control Kentucky, the USA or the CSA.  When the battle ended, there were dead and wounded being buried or housed in every building between Perryville and the Kentucky River, as the fleeing Confederate army passed directly through Danville on its way east and south to refuge in Tennessee.  If a house, church, school, or public building around here was standing in October 1862, it housed the wounded, and comforted the dying.  Perryville was the end of the road for many Union and Confederate soldiers, and the end of Confederate ambitions in the Commonwealth.  There would be other battles and raids, but from October 1862 on, Kentucky was firmly part of the Union.

My contention is that because Kentucky was a slave state, though it was loyal to the Union, it was treated like all other slave states after the war, and I've often told my students that Kentucky became part of the Confederacy AFTER "The War" was over.  Anti-Union feelings, like the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers, still flow wide and deep here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ah, the smell of newly-sawn wood

Two projects, a trellis for the clematis, and shelves in the pantry.  Should be a no-brainer, huh?  Well, on HGTV and the DIY channel, and even on ABC, they landscape whole yards in 8 hours, and build mansions in a week.  So I should be able to, shouldn't I?

The trellis project was started before I went to Maine.  I put in four hooks, hung the thing up, and braced the bottom.  There.

Well, our constant west winds soon put the kibosh to that.  The cement block I had been using to brace the trellis temporarily ended up UNDER my truck -- that's what the wind will do here.  So, instead of a half-hour project for $25, it has now turned into a THREE DAY project for about $50.00.  I had to brace the entire trellis with 2x4 lumber, which of course had to be painted -- a whole day just for that.  Then I had to screw the vinyl trellis to the 2x4 bracing.  Then I discovered it wouldn't fit on the hooks now.  So, I took two more pieces of wood and screwed them into the frame of the trellis and into the rafters of the carport.  There.  Fixed THAT!  Well, we'll see.

It always takes twice or three times as long, and costs twice or three times as much as the home improvement books tell you.  Oh, and it NEVER looks like the picture.

The shelves have been easier -- well, so far, but they're not done.  I bought a 4x8 sheet of plywood and had the guy at Lowes strip it up into four pieces one foot wide by eight long.  Then after "finishing" the trellis, I cut two feet off each piece, nailed and screwed bracing along the edge. 

Now all I have to do is to screw 2x4 "legs" onto each shelf, five per shelf.  Note I said "all I have to do" -- somehow I'll bet the home improvement gremlin will have some say in that.

THEN comes the fun.  Emptying the pantry, and putting the new shelves in place. 

FINALLY, we'll put everything back and everything will have a place, and everything will be in its place.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool temps and warm music

Barry awoke this morning to a very slight frost -- but unfortunately, it may have taken its toll on our blueberries.  By mid-morning when we checked outside, about half the blossoms were on the ground.  Apparently the strawberries and other crops made it fine, but we just hope the blueberries will make it.

This afternoon, we attended our very first Dulcimer Concert.  For those of you who don't know, the Dulcimer is the Commonwealth of Kentucky's official stringed instrument -- it apparently was invented here, as far as we can tell.  It has a very sweet, almost mournful sound, and even the name, from Latin and Greek, means sweet sound.  The lap dulcimer is played on the lap, obviously, and the hammered dulcimer (pictured below), much like the insides of a piano with the case removed and the keys taken out, is played on a stand.  The lap dulcimer generally has 4 strings (some have 6) and the hammered has many, many strings.  I'm not sure which is easier to play, but I suspect the hammered is more flexible, as the notes echo, so chords may be easier to obtain.  Either way, both are soothing and relaxing to listen to.

When we were living in Maine, I bought a Kentucky-made dulcimer, and this concert just encouraged me to come back home, tune the thing, and start playing it.  I WAS playing it like it was a guitar, and was having difficulty.  Now it seems quite easy, and I've already played Amazing Grace and Simple Things.  The type of music which can be played on the dulcimer is somewhat limited, largely to simple melodies, and many old hymns and folk tunes, but nonetheless, it is an instrument which is uniquely American, uniquely Southern, and uniquely beautiful in its sound.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

To Maine and Back

OK, now I KNOW it's adult-onset ADD. Almost missed my plane back to Kentucky -- but that's (almost) the end of the story. To start at the beginning...

Saturday, 10 April -- Keeneland to Louisville.
I drove up to Louisville after the races at Keeneland. My flight was early Sunday morning and I didn't want to drive to Louisville very early, and I didn't want Barry to have to drive me up and pick me up in Louisville, so I decided to stay overnight. No problem -- except for the teenagers who kept going in and out of the motel from 11PM to 2:30AM and listening to the door bang every time they went out and came back in -- probably every 2 minutes for all that time. It really wasn't their fault the door banged when it shut, but it was still annoying and cost me a good night's sleep.

Sunday, 11 April -- Louisville to Manchester to Westbrook, and meeting Miss Garnet.
The flight was uneventful, never had to leave Concourse A at Detroit, so what saved me a bit of worry. BUT, (See the DTW map) I came in at gate A-60 (1 on the Google Earth pic) and my flight to Manchester was leaving at gate A-9 (2 on the pic), and the Concourse is about a mile long, and I only had about 15 minutes before boarding. Anyway, when I got to A-9, I was told the flight was leaving from A-28 (3 on the pic) and was delayed 30 minutes. Whew, I'd have time to grab a bite to eat. But no, as I was leaving the area, the attendant announced that the flight had moved to gate A-68 (4 on the pic). Well, this time I got smart and took the electric tram -- it was after all about 3/4 of a mile to walk. And to think that I was taking off across from the gate I came into. Oh well, I could use the exercise.

When I arrived in Manchester, I got my rental car at Enterprise, the ONLY place I'll EVER rent cars -- fantastic customer service, great prices -- drove to Westbrook, and checked into the motel. Maureen brought the kids over about 5, and we spent some time together, meeting Garnet -- whom I have taken to calling "Miss Garnet" -- no idea why, but it sounds so Southern. We went to Denny's for dinner -- actually breakfast, and watched Gannon ogle the waitress as she ran the rolling sweeper over the carpet. He LOVES pretty girls with wheels. He will need to marry a model with a Ferrari, or will have an auto mechanic's shop with those girlie calendars all over the place.

Monday, 12 April. Grandchildren, lunch with Stacey, Bobby, and Josh.
We met my niece and grand-nephew at Applebee's in South Portland for lunch. Stacey had Bobby just a week before Maureen had Garnet, so we were there with four adults, a toddler, and two infants. Didn't faze the server one little bit (she got a good tip, too), and all three kids were good as gold!  I had the asiago steak, which was good, but not exceptional, still was a fair value for the price.

After lunch, I went for Gannon's 15 month checkup, where he scooted around like a house afire. In the examining room, after the nurse was done with the initial checkup part, he played with the stool, watching the wheels and casters for about half an hour. Even after the doctor came in, Gannon still played with the stool, occasionally bumping the doctor, who didn't mind in the least bit. I was impressed with him and the thoroughness of the exam. Maureen's got a good one there.

After that, we just kind of drove around, eventually ending up in one of my favorite places, Pine Point in Scarboro. I was seeking clam cakes, but none of the places that sell them (at which I will eat, anyway) were open, so we just enjoyed the beach from the car -- it was very windy and we didn't want to take the kids out in that.

We then stopped at Len Libby's candy store on US Rte 1 in Scarboro.  The chocolates there are to die for -- expensive (most run $20+ per pound), but they're SOOO good.  I especially love the cashew clusters.  Gannon apparently wasn't too impressed with the 2,000 pound "Chocolate Moose" (in the background of the picture) but I was!

Later, I was able to sneak Maureen into the motel pool -- well actually, the gal on the counter didn't really mind. We enjoyed the hot tub and pool for about an hour, which was great, because Maureen's back spasms began again just after Garnet's delivery, so the hot tub was a real pleasure. Plus I think we both slept well because of it.

Tuesday, 13 April. Going to Waterville.

Today was going to be busy. We had at least six things to do in Waterville, and really could have added several more things to the list, but time was limited. I had to meet with my realtor and the guy who is buying my Waterville house, to finally get the whole payment mess settled (no need to go into that). It got settled, and to MY satisfaction. Now I don't think I'll have any more problems getting paid what I'm owed each month. While I was in the meeting, Maureen and the kids visited with her best friend from high school, Dawna, and her 2+ kids, and I joined them when I finished.  The boys played very well with Gannon, especially Ethan, the older son, who is SO smart, and SO mature.  Uriah did fine sharing his toys with little rug-rat, Gannon, too.

After a nice visit with Dawna (Matt was just headed back to work after lunch, so we got to see him, too), we headed for Oakland and Messalonskee Middle School where we said hi to Mark, Jon, Tracy, Diane, Angela, Anna, Bobbi, Nancy, Holly, Mary, Christine, Marshalyn (yeah, we sang our old junior high school song as a duet to Maureen's cringing ears), Linda, Rick, Scott and Alison (who has lost so much weight she's only half here -- GREAT JOB, Alison)! I FINALLY got to thank Blair personally for all the help he was when we were packing to move here. We couldn't have made the move without his help. It was great to see the former colleagues again and to be able to show off two grandchildren.

Then it was off to the Oakland Area Historical Society, where we met Alberta and Mike, and went through the OAHS postcard collection. We selected many cards which I brought back to Kentucky to scan, and put onto a CD or DVD for sale when we finish. It was so good for Mike to "adopt" Gannon for awhile, so Alberta and I could work, and Maureen could feed Garnet properly. I'm so blessed to have so many good friends in Oakland.

Then it was off to Big-G's in Winslow. We just had to introduce Miss Garnet to whoopie pies -- note their size compared to her! Lunch there, then I remembered we had to go back to Oakland because Barry's daughter, Karen, had some clothes for Gannon. Good to see her and Wyatt, and glad we didn't miss them.

Wednesday, 14 April. To Waterford, then back to Portland.
Since I had a whole day before my return flight (well, we'll see about THAT assumption shortly), we drove up to Waterford, to see Barry's brother, sister-in-law, and sister. Maureen had met Bruce and Shirley, but not Carol, and we lucked out, catching all three of them home.

Anyway, Maureen just plunked Miss Garnet in Bruce's lap -- never asked him if it was OK -- and he, like a good grandfather and great-grandfather, did just fine. Shirley takes to babies like a duck to water, so there was no problem there. What a beautiful sight, and if she paid attention to her own grand and great-grand children the way she did to Garnet, those kids are truly lucky.  Shirley, I really hope you don't mind that I took, and am posting, your picture.  Didn't ask Bruce, just did it!

It was especially good to see Carol, since (1) we missed her the last time we were in Waterford; and (2) she's driving back to Kentucky with us in June for a visit here -- we're looking SO forward to it. We had time to discuss some of the things she's going to do down here, and we're planning the whole time around what she wants to do. We'll show her the trip of a lifetime!

Now, what to do for lunch? Only one answer, Melby's in North Waterford. Good home-cooked food, huge portions, good prices. Gannon had a great time, Garnet mostly slept, and Maureen got a chance to eat while I fed Gannon.

We were to meet Jeannine and Josh at the Old Country Buffet in South Portland, and were on the way when Jeannine called to tell us that someone had a heart attack and apparently died in the restaurant! Turned out it was a coach for a visiting Canadian high school team. Fire truck, ambulance, paramedics and general confusion! We got into the restaurant at 8:15 only to be told it closed at 8:30, but we could fill our plates and eat quickly! Uh, no. So we decided to go to IHOP. Good choice even though they closed at 9, and they told us to enjoy our meals and to stay as long as we needed to.

While waiting, I called Barry, and he wondered what I was still doing in South Portland, since my flight left Manchester in about 12 hours! Yup, I had totally screwed up -- thought the flight was Friday not Thursday. So I managed barely to avoid panic, ate quickly, said good-byes to Maureen and the kids in the parking lot -- not the way I wanted to leave -- got back to the motel, asked if I got charged an extra day because I was SUPPOSED to have checked out that morning. Yup, an extra day. Oh well. Packed quickly (forgot my phone charger), got some cash, and headed for Manchester NH about 9:30. Lucky there few cars on the road and I made good time, checking into the motel a bit before midnight.

One would think that would be enough screw-ups for a 12-hour period. But not so...

Thursday, 15 April. Flying home.
I filled the rental car just fine.  When I got to the airport I scanned my credit card to get the boarding passes. Only one popped out -- should have been two, Manchester to Detroit and Detroit to Louisville. Plus it said "seat to be assigned." I asked the gal on the counter and she bluntly and curtly said they'd take care of it upstairs. So I went through security and sure enough they had to open and inspect both my carry-on and my backpack. The carry-on contained a partial bottle of Maker's Mark -- which I really KNEW I couldn't bring back so I wasn't too upset when it got confiscated. I could have checked the carry-on, but the cost was more than the bourbon cost so I didn't bother. However, the other item that concerned me, two cans of Bakewell Cream (metal cans containing a white powder), made it through just fine.  If it hadn't, there'd have been a hissy-fit and you'd have read about me being rushed away in handcuffs, screaming, "My Bakewell Cream, my Bakewell Cream" until they got me to the asylum!

My backpack was another story. Something didn't look right, so they opened and inspected it. Apparently, the paper or the process used in the antique post cards I was bringing home triggered the x-ray, but after the TSA agent opened the envelope and looked inside, all was well.  He said, "These are really old," and yes, they are, most at least 100 years old.  Glad they didn't confiscate those!

So anyway, I went upstairs, got a cup of coffee, and since I was over an hour early for my flight, I just tried to relax a bit. Finally I went to gate A-4 to ask about the no seat situation. Wouldn't you know? The same curt, brusque gal who was downstairs was now at the podium. She said "You'll have to wait, I haven't opened the flight yet." Yes, Ma'am. Delta could use a much better customer service, by the way.

Once she DID open the flight, she asked for two volunteers to take a later flight -- I didn't volunteer because I had connections in Detroit, and there's only one flight per day to Louisville. She did find two, but when boarding began, only one was there -- the other person apparently boarded anyway. So I asked if I was going to make it to Detroit. "If we have a seat for you" was her reply. Just what I needed to hear, especially since I had booked this flight back in January! Finally, everyone else was boarded, and they were calling one passenger on the intercom. He didn't show, so they gave me his seat -- in First Class, as it happened. Like they were doing me a favor!  The whole plane was loaded and seated, and on I came -- I can only wonder what people thought about MY delaying the flight!

Flying to Detroit was cool though -- I got to see Mt. Washington with snow on it, a mountain somewhere in southwest NH or southeast VT that looks JUST like an old volcanic crater, and Niagara Falls so well I could see the mist from the Canadian Falls! We landed in Detroit at A-4, and my Louisville flight was at gate C-15 -- half a mile down Concourse A, half a mile through the underground tunnel (a really neat tunnel incidentally, looks like you're walking in a tube under water, with changing colored lights, and soothing music), then maybe 1/4 mile down Concourse C. I stopped at the first Delta kiosk with a human, and asked what to do about the fact that I had no boarding pass for Detroit to Louisville. The gal took my name and flight info, assured me that I was scheduled for that flight, but that she couldn't do anything -- I'd have to see them at C-15. So off to C-15 I went. I asked the gal there what to do and she couldn't believe they didn't give me a Detroit to Louisville boarding pass in Manchester. She smiled and said, "We'll take care of it, Hon." I told her that she was the first Delta ground employee who had smiled at me all day! She ticketed me, and I was on my way back home.

In rapid succession then, I deplaned, called the motel where my truck was, got a ride back there, put my thing in the truck, then remembered that the air-conditioning didn't work -- yeah, it was 84 and sunny when I landed (had a frost on the windshield at 6:30 AM in Manchester)! Once on I-265 and I-64, I finally decided that the day was getting better, and it did.

Though I miss Maureen, Gannon and Miss Garnet and wish I could have stayed with them for another month, it was nonetheless good to be back home in the Bluegrass.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's spring!

Since I last wrote -- yeah, I know it's been too long -- we've not experienced a frost at all, and yesterday temperatures were in the low 80s. Most of the flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom -- bradford pears, cleveland pears, forsythia, tulip trees (wish we had one of those), and many flowering crab apples. Our peach, plum and apricots are in full bloom.

Barry has most of the back garden in -- swiss chard, spinach, peas, beets, potatoes, etc. He's also redone the herb garden -- looks great -- and the cat loves the catnip we're raising just for him.

The lawn got mowed for the first time yesterday and today, and it looks so nice outside now.

Most of the trees have not leaved out yet, but the maple flowers are out, and other trees won't be far behind.

On a totally different note, we've discovered a new grocery store. Dunham's in Stanford, about 10 miles away, carries ONLY Kentucky bred and raised beef. We bought a whole rib-eye steak slab (I guess that's what you call it) for $5.99 a pound, which is about half the price in the major grocery stores. Plus we know we're supporting Kentucky agriculture that way. They slice it any way you want it -- we had most of it cut at 5/8 inch, with some on the end sliced really thin for rib-eye sandwiches. We've NEVER spent that much for meat before, but it should last us most of the summer, along with the pork loin we bought the other day. The meat manager is very helpful, trying to answer any questions we had -- except that he was SOOO busy cutting meat, he really couldn't take much time with us. WE WILL BE BACK!

Right now, I have an Easter ham in the oven, basted with a mixture of pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger and nutmeg, and I stuck some whole cloves in. It's cooking very slowly, and should be wonderful tomorrow, with sweet potatoes and greens, and a good Moscato wine!

Speaking of which, in about a month, we won't have to drive 15 miles to buy a bottle of beer. Danville voted "wet" last month, and by June, we'll be able to buy all our beer, wine, and distilled spirits right in town. Just like most people in Maine can do, and HAVE been able to do for years! The naysayers are still barraging the newspaper with all the gloom and doom predictions that will now happen to Danville -- strip clubs on every street corner, prostitutes all over town, drunks falling down in the middle of Main Street, and the whole city going to hell in a hand-basket -- yeah, just like the thousands of other towns across the country where one can buy wine with a meal, and a bottle of vodka in a liquor store. These people simply prey on fear -- so like many issues here and in Maine.

OK, dinner is ready, so I'm off!