Sunday, July 30, 2006

Offline A Few Days

Blogs and Blogging...

I'm going to be offline a few days this week while my computer is in the shop. Its cardreader has stopped working at 1-1/2 years and it's supposed to be warranted for 3 years.

PiracyAlso, Windows has been displaying a persistent message that my copy of Windows is not valid and I might be a victim of software piracy, blah, blah, blah. I think that the guy that built my computer should fix the problem.

When I get the computer back, I'll have a lot of catching up to do. I am hoping it might be done by Wednesday or Thursday.

I may feel inspired and post something tomorrow morning, but when I disappear in the afternoon and am gone for several days, you'll know why. If my internet withdrawal grows too severe before I have my computer again, there's always the public library, I suppose.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tagging This Blog

Blogs and Blogging...

Filing stuff awayI've gone through another month of posts this evening and given them tags. Only a hopeless nerd would happily spend a Saturday night doing this, but I have enjoyed the retrospect as well as the process of categorization.

In, a group of tags can be placed under a heading ("bundled") to create a simple outline of main points and subpoints. In a blog, it's a way to impose order upon the creation.

Librarians have been doing this sort of thing for years, and fortunately they have the Dewey Decimal System to provide standardized categories from library to library.

At last I recognize the absolute brilliance of that method. The entire world is organized under just ten main categories:

  • 000 – Computer science, information, and general works
  • 100 – Philosophy and psychology
  • 200 – Religion
  • Bookshelves300 – Social sciences
  • 400 – Language
  • 500 – Science
  • 600 – Technology
  • 700 – Arts and recreation
  • 800 – Literature
  • 900 – History and geography

I've never understood why computer science is under 000 instead of 600 or even 400, but that's beside the point.

Each of the broad categories of Dewey is then broken down into groups of ten, and each of those groups is broken down farther and farther, until at last a book is assigned a number with places behind the decimal point as commonly seen on library books.

Dewey Decimal Classification is copyrighted by the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), but early editions of it (pre-1923) are in the public domain. I had never imagined that any entity owns the Dewey system.

"Do We" Really Know Dewey? No, obviously I don't!

Library of Congress Classification is another system of library organization, but it is not as widely used as the Dewey. The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) gives every book a distinctive number so barcodes will work wherever the book is sold.

Librarians assign just one category per book, but users can give as many tags as they wish to a webpage. That's an example of the flexibility of the digital compared to the physical. With so much flexibility, one must guard against redundancy.

I figure I'll just muddle along until I've gone through all the posts. Then I might go back and organize some tags a little better.

On the other hand, don't I really have something better to be doing with my time?!

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Related site: Dewey Decimal System by Tens (quite useful for sorting things out.)

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A Curious Recipe for Applesauce Cake

All In The Family...

While my brother was visiting, I baked a country birthday cake for him -- an applesauce spice cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts sprinkled over the top. We ate it with vanilla ice cream and it was delicious.

Dwight's birthday is not until August 9 so the cake was a few weeks early. The surprised look on his face when he realized we were singing "Happy Birthday" to him was just great.

He will be 60 this birthday. I will be 55 at the end of September, and ten days later, my sister will turn 50. This set of birthdays is something of a milestone for the three "Hill kids".

Back to applesauce cake. I have a paperback cookbook titled, "Signature Collection Country Music Cookbook," that I bought for the large sum of $2.00 in a Nashville tourist shop. I was looking through it a few days ago and found an odd little recipe for applesauce cake baked in fruit jars. It was contributed by Tom Swatzell (master of the dobro, now deceased) who is wearing three finger picks in his photo.

Here's the recipe, rewritten for clarity:

Fruit Jar Applesauce Cake

2/3 cup vegetable oil or shortening
2-2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups applesauce
3-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspooons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Prepare 8 wide-mouth pint canning jars by washing them thoroughly, drying them, and then greasing the inside of the jars, taking care not to get grease on the lips of the jars.

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and applesauce (and another 2/3 cup of sugar according to the recipe??? -- not sure, but I wonder if it's a typo.) Beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together, add to the applesauce mixture and blend well. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour batter into the prepared wide-mouth jars, filling each jar halfway. Wipe any dripped batter off the rims of the jars. Bake at 325° for about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the cakes are done, heat a pan of water to the boiling point, turn off the heat, and place 8 canning jar lids (rings and flats) in the water.

When the cakes test done, remove one jar from the oven at a time. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jar. Place a hot lid on the jar and screw it down tight. Jars will seal as the cake cools.

If any jars do not seal, use the cake within a few days. Sealed jars may be kept up on the pantry shelf up to six months.

To use, remove the lid, turn the jar upside down and tap out the cake. Slice into rounds and enjoy.

My Comments
I'd probably try to use the cake within a few weeks, and personally, I would freeze the jars for long-term storage.

The heat of the oven should sterilize the jars and the lids will be sterilized in the boiling water. Food safety specialists would probably add that the jars should be processed in a boiling water bath after the lids were put on. They might also say the recipe is not acidic enough to rely on canning as a method of preservation.

Still, I am sure that this recipe was used and enjoyed without any problems in Tom Swatzell's family, or he wouldn't have put it in the cookbook.

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Friday, July 28, 2006


All In The Family... Life in The Nebraska Sandhills...

Landlubber \Land"lub`ber\, n. [Prop. fr. land + lubber, or possibly corrupted fr. laudlouper.] (Naut.) One who passes his life on land; -- so called among seamen in contempt or ridicule.
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

I've come to a fuller appreciation of my landlubber status after reading about oceanside recreations in GreenmanTim's Walking the Berkshires and Sarabeth's I Once Was HP. Their climates are different (Massachusetts for Tim vs. Florida where Sarabeth remembers playing in the ocean), but they could be writing about Mongolia as far as I'm concerned. That's how foreign their oceanside experiences are to me.

In the Nebraska Sandhills where I grew up, water was plentiful in small quantities. It spilled out of the cattle tank overflow pipe and creatied little windmill ponds in every pasture. The Skull and Bloody creeks usually had a little water around under their bridges, and in spring when the snow melted, they flooded their swamps. We had a fishing lake on the Big Meadow that was fed by artesian wells and stocked with northern pike and bass. It was several acres in size with a big marsh of cattails and bulrushes around it.

We crossed the Calamus river frequently, and occasionally we crossed a larger river: one of the three Loups, the Niobrara, the Elkhorn, the Republican, or even the broad sandy Platte in our travel around the state.

If we went to Iowa, we crossed the Missouri River, and if we went to Illinois, we crossed the Mississippi River. It was quite a thrill to go across big bridges and look out the car window to see the river far below. (In those days, most bridges were built so you could see the river, unlike modern bridges.)

I sometimes threw a fishline into the water (the creeks and our artesian lake). I sometimes waded in the windmill pond to catch pollywogs and I often dipped my arms into the windmill tank to collect snails. A few times each summer, my parents took us to wade and splash in the Calamus River where it was broad and shallow. At the annual week of summer Bible camp, we spent an hour each day playing in the creek. This paragraph describes the full extent of my childhood interaction with water beyond the bathtub and garden hose.

Neither of my parents could swim, and they didn't consider it particularly important that we children should learn to swim. The swimming pool at Bassett offered lessons, but it would have been a daily round trip of 70 miles for my mom to take us. She was busy in the summer with many things that had to be done. I understand that, and I'm not angry about it.

Later in life, I learned to do a very inefficient dogpaddle that might allow me to survive for a minute or two without touching my feet to solid ground. Perhaps more importantly, I learned to float on my back. Still, I'd be a goner without a lifejacket in deep water.

A couple of summers ago, I let my brother and sister-in-law talk me into kayaking on the Niobrara river in northern Nebraska. My sister-in-law grew up on the banks of the Loup River and she swims, but my brother (like me) is totally life-jacket dependent. He loves kayaking though, and in most of the Kansas rivers they go on, he could stand on the riverbed and have his head above water.

That little trip of a few hours down the Niobrara was the closest contact I've had with a river in years. I really enjoyed it. I understood the well-being that Huckleberry Finn and Jim always felt when they were back safe and sound on their raft, floating down the river. It's very peaceful.

In the photo below (taken with a waterproof Kodak disposable camera) my brother in his cowboy hat and Isaac are leading the way. My sister-in-law sent a photo of me in my kayak, but I can't locate it at the moment. (However, I have proof, if pressed!)

I've seen the Atlantic once (not counting views from airplane windows.) Descriptions of the ocean and the beach in the blogs I mentioned above have made me think that sometime in the next few years, I should make an effort to see the ocean a few times before I get too old to travel. I would like to come home with a collection of seashells and smooth rocks I have gathered for myself, even if I don't find any quahogs or do any bodysurfing.

Dwight and Isaac on the Niobrara
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UPDATE 8/10/06

Aha! While searching fruitlessly for another photo, I found the kayaking photos I mentioned above. Here I am with my brother. You can see who is wielding the paddle expertly. (Hint: it's not me!)

Dwight and me
Niobrara River, August 2004.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blogs and Blogging...

Seven months into writing Prairie Bluestem, I finally understand that offers an effective and flexible way of categorizing the individual posts of a blog. Since Blogger (the blogging service I use) doesn't offer categories, I'm excited about using

Here's how it works. If I tag several posts as "Sandhills", a reader can click on that tag and see a list of all the posts so labeled. Also, any user of could search for "Sandhills" and possibly come across a post of mine with a "Sandhills" tag.

I wish I had grasped earlier in my blogging experience how works. I wouldn't have fooled around with the categories listed in the sidebar ("All in the Family", "Memory Lane", etc.) They use the Blogger Search, and they have two unfortunate limitations:

  • They don't pick up any posts made before the searches were installed.
  • They don't pick up any categories that are changed or added after a post is first published.

Neither of these problems will exist with tags.

I've started going through the posts from the beginning of the blog and putting some tags on them. Today I did January's 82 posts! Good grief, I posted too much that month!

When I get done tagging all the posts, I'll probably put a list of tags in the sidebar. Meanwhile, if you're curious, you can see the tags I've done so far at

I've described just one way that a blogger can use . There are many, many other possible uses-- even networking features so you can send your tags to friends. No wonder it's such a popular service. I'm glad I finally understand at least the basics of how it works.

I know I'm a little slow, but bear in mind -- I'm just a silly little old lady. Wink

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Medieval Book of Psalms Discovered

Some Interesting News...

National Geographic News, by Kate Ravilious
July 26, 2006

A thousand-year-old Book of Psalms has been discovered by a construction worker in a bog in Ireland.

The eagle-eyed worker was using a backhoe to dig up potting soil in central Ireland last week when he spotted the leather-bound book.

Experts called to the site were amazed to find an ancient Psalter Book of Psalms lying in the mud. The archaeologists won't say exactly where the book was found until they are finished investigating the site.

Read more: Medieval Christian Book Discovered in Ireland Bog

See also "Ancient Holy Book Found in Dublin Bog."

In several other stories about the find, I read that the book was open to Psalm 83, a prayer for Israel as she faces many enemies. All in all, what an amazing find!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Robert Frost, Cranky?

And What I Think About It... History and Old Stuff...

After reading two anecdotes and a revealing excerpt of poetry about Robert Frost on Michael Leddy's Orange Crate Art, I will never read a Frost poem casually again. A suspicion that Robert Frost may have been a sour little man will always be at the back of my mind, and I'll be sensitive to traces of bitterness underlying his words.

I have never read a biography of Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) or anything about his personal life, and I've never taken a class where Frost poetry was taught, but I'm curious now.

Robert Frost recited a poem at the John F. Kennedy inauguration (January 20, 1961.) He was an old man then, and I was ten years old. I have read that he began to read the poem and his eyes failed him, so he recited it. We didn't have television at that time, so I didn't see it personally. I didn't know who Robert Frost was, but I remember my mother commenting about a poet at the inauguration. As I recall, she thought the Kennedys were trying to be artsy and it wasn't necessary.

Schlesinger [Arthur M. Schlesinger, the historian and close Kennedy associate] continues with the observation that J.F.K. understood and was extremely sympathetic to his wife's leanings. His own tastes ran to architecture and literature and he asked Robert Frost to read a poem at his inauguration. He also requested that leading artists and writers be invited to the inauguration, which rankled the Inauguration Committee a bit. Kennedy won that battle and about 57 writers, composers and painters were present in the audience, including Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden and John Steinbeck, who remarked "What a joy that literacy is no longer prima facie evidence of treason." The stage was set for a new frontier in the arts as well as politics with the ascent of the Kennedys to the American Presidency.

Source: "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" by Michele Leight in The City Review

I have an image in my mind of a little white haired man in a black overcoat at the inauguration. It may be based on a Life Magazine photo. Life Magazine and the National Geographic were the main magazines in which I saw photographs as a child. I looked at each issue so many times that I commited most of the photographs to memory.

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Pilot Rock

Landmark in Todd and Christian counties

Pilot Rock, Christian County, KYPilot Rock

Pilot Rock is the highest point in both Christian and Todd Counties (in Kentucky) with an elevation of 966 feet. It sits on the county line, at the summit of a large, high hill. It has been cited as a landmark since local history was recorded, and it surely was noted by prehistoric travelers as well.

A Knob on an Escarpment

When I took my brother over to see Pilot Rock, he wondered whether underground activity such as a volcano or a shifting fault line had pushed the big rock upward. I didn't know the answer to that question, and after a little research, my answer is that I still don't know for sure.

The University of Kentucky's Groundwater Resources page for Todd County says that Pilot Rock is a knob on an escarpment. I wasn't entirely clear about what an escarpment was, so I looked it up.

Escarpment or scarp, long cliff, bluff, or steep slope, caused usually by geologic faulting or by erosion of tilted rock layers. An example of a fault scarp is the north face of the San Jacinto Mts. in California. Examples of erosional escarpments include the Palisades along the Hudson River and the long break separating the coastal region from the inland area in Texas, roughly paralleling the coast.

Source: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press, as presented by

The escarpment in Todd and Christian counties separates the low farmlands of South Christian and SouthTodd from a high plateau in North Christian and North Todd. There are several lesser knobs of note, but the highest of them short of Pilot Rock's elevation by 86 feet:

  • Pine Knob a few miles west of Pilot Rock: 863 feet
  • Keeling Hill in Todd County near Fairview: 848 feet
  • Tucker Ridge a few miles north/northeast of Pilot Rock: 880 feet

Big Clifty Sandstone is the underlying rock of the escarpment. It can be seen at Pilot Rock and on top of other high knobs. It interested me that Big Clifty is also seen on the Mammoth Cave Plateau as the top or "cap" layer of the rock in which Mammoth Cave was carved by underground streams.

Local History

I've read several old histories of Christian County and memoirs of people who grew up here in the 1800's, and without fail, Pilot Rock is mentioned as a recreational site to enjoy.

Of [Todd County's natural objects of peculiar interest,] Pilot Rock is perhaps the most striking. This is a vast mass of rock some 200 feet high, resting upon elevated ground and entirely isolated.

Its summit is a level area of about half an acre in extent, covered with a small growth of timber and wild shrubbery, and is a pleasant resort, frequented by picnic parties from the neighboring country. It stands north of Fairview on the line between Christian and Todd Counties, the larger portion of the rock lying within the limits of the latter.

Its elevated summit, which is gained without much difficulty, affords a fine view of the surrounding country for many. miles, presenting a prospect beautiful and picturesque. In the leafless season and a favoring atmosphere, it is said Hopkinsville, twelve miles away, may be distinctly seen from its summit, and in pioneer days it was known far and wide as an infallible landmark, hence its name.

Quoted from: Kentucky Genealogy. The writing style suggests that this is quoted from an old book, but thus far, I am unable to locate a citation for it.
A few strange events have taken place at Pilot Rock during the time that we've lived here. In one incident, a mentally disturbed person climbed the Rock to elude the police and had to be coaxed down. Another time, a drunk man fell to his death from the summit.

Buzzards at Pilot Rock

Several years ago a girl photographer from the local newspaper climbed Pilot Rock and photographed the fall foliage and autumnal landscape. In her photographic essay, she mentioned big hawks that repeatedly circled the rock. We all laughed, out here close to Pilot Rock. We knew that those big birds were buzzards, not hawks.

A couple of weeks later, the newspaper published a letter from someone in another state who had written to say he suspected that the birds were buzzards, not hawks. We all laughed again.

A lady who grew up in this neighborhood came home to spend a few days. She has lived and worked in the big city for years. While she was here, she decided to climb Pilot Rock for old time's sake.

After her climb, she stopped by the little country store where I was working. Her brother, a local fellow about 50 years old, was there, drinking a soda. She sat down beside him and shared her experience. "It was so peaceful on top of Pilot Rock" she exulted. "I stretched out in the sunshine and just watched the buzzards circling."

Her brother snorted. "I wouldn't be lying on the ground for long if there were buzzards circling over me," he said emphatically. He did have a point, I thought.

Sad Condition

Pilot Rock's listing on the National Register of Historical Places states that Woodland Indians painted petroglyphs on the rock (or somewhere in the immediate area) and used it as a ceremonial site. I have never seen the petroglyphs, but I fear that they may have been vandalized. Pilot Rock is heavily used as a party-place. The ground is littered with broken glass and the sides of the rock have suffered spray-paint graffiti.

I looked at one website that stated that Pilot Rock is privately owned; another stated that the property is owned by "the government" (whatever entity that may be.) I have been told that it was formerly public property but is now privately owned. Whatever is the case, I wish we could take a little better care of it.

Having said that, I'm a little ashamed that I picked up a couple of conglomerate rocks from a washed-out road at the base of Pilot Rock and brought them home to add to my outdoor rock collection! Shame on me for not practicing what I preach. I will restrain myself next time I think of picking up a rock at an unprotected, unattended historic site and natural wonder like Pilot Rock.

Pilot RockMy brother at Pilot Rock Conglomerate rockConglomerate rocks from Pilot Rock

Related site: Todd County High Point Report
Related post: Treasure at Pilot Rock or Apex in Christian County, KY

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seen at Fairview, Kentucky

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... History and Old Stuff...

The Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site is located at Fairview, Kentucky, a few miles from where we live.

Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States of America, and he was born in Fairview, just a few hundred feet from the monument. A Baptist church stands on the site where the cabin in which he was born once stood.

The building of the monument started shortly before World War I. Funds for the construction were raised by the Orphans Brigade (Kentuckians who fought for the Confederacy) and by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The Kentucky State Legislature provided financial assistance to finally finish the construction in 1924.

I think most local white folks would say this is not a monument to slavery or racism but rather to history and heritage. I think many local black folks would see it differently. To me, the place is a reminder that I don't hold and will never fully understand the deep personal feelings some people still cherish about the Civil War.

Gate to Park

Stone pillars mark a gateway to the park for walkers. A low stone wall surrounds much of the park. Deep shade, spacious picnic pavilions, and plentiful playground equipment make the grounds a popular site for summer family reunions.

Jeff Davis MonumentMonument with sun behind

Tower closeup
Though the tower can be seen for miles, one doesn't fully realize its size until it's seen at close range.

Northward viewNortheast view

Westward view
An elevator runs to the top of the tower, and for $4.00 per person, visitors can ride to the top, enjoy the view, and visit the museum in the visitor center. The photos above were taken from the observation windows at the top of the monument.


These metal plates at the base of the tower give a little information about its construction (left) and some advice from Jefferson Davis about the future (right.)

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Produce Market
This photo is unrelated to the Jefferson Davis Monument. This is the Fairview Produce Market just outside the little village of Fairview. Many Mennonite and Amish farmers bring fresh garden fruits and vegetables here to sell in bulk to stores and peddlers. The green wagons behind the tractor are full of sweet corn, and watermelons can be seen in the horse-drawn trailers. During the summer, auctions are held five or six days a week.

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My brother left this morning. I've got a lot of errands to run and chores to do, but I'll get back to normal blogging sooner or later.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Seen in Cave City, Kentucky

Life in the Upper South...

These photos were taken near Mammoth Cave State Park east of Bowling Green, Kentucky, in the little village of Cave City.

Cave City, KYTater Mashers

Wigwam MotelWigwam Motel

Dinosaur World

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Enjoying My Brother

All In The Family...

My brother got here safe and sound this morning, and I've been enjoying his visit. He'll be here for several days.

We're going to Mammoth Cave tomorrow so he (and we again) can take a small look at one of the great natural wonders of the world.

We've been doing a lot of remembering this evening. Between the two of us, it is amazing what all we can recall. It's really good to see him.

Enough Already!

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... More About Birds and Animals... A Small Detour from The Cheerful Ramble...

It's been "a series of unfortunate events" this summer.

I was driving down Highway 68/80 in my little Neon tonight about 9 p.m. and I hit a deer. Two of them jumped out of the ditch and were in front of the car before I even knew they were coming. I missed one and hit the other.

I am thankful that the windshield didn't break out as happened to my husband when he hit a deer on I-64 in Illinois several years ago. He had a sudden lapful of glass pellets. My car's windshield is intact and I am fine.

The hood of my car is mashed back and crumpled up. Parts of the hood have sprung up four or five inches. The driver-side headlight lens and turn signal bulb are broken. The bumper doesn't look damaged, but I haven't seen it in the light yet. I don't know about the fenders.

I drove it home but I won't be able to drive it while waiting to get it fixed. There's no way to get into the hood to reach the back of the headlight to replace the bulb or lens, and I'm not going to drive around without a left front turn signal. I think our insurance covers a rental car.

My brother is going to arrive from Kansas tomorrow around lunchtime, and he'll be visiting for several days. I don't have time to mess around with all this, but I want to get the rental car tomorrow so I'll have something to drive while he's here.

And the part that I keep trying not to think of is that poor, poor deer. I don't know where it went, but it surely must have died. When I go to town tomorrow to take care of the insurance, I'm going to take a different road because I don't want to see it.

Smashed car

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blogging Is All About Me

Some Interesting News... Blogs and Blogging...

TechWeb Technology News, by Antone Gonsalves
July 19, 2006 (3:39 PM EDT)

The majority of bloggers prefer to write about themselves and share their digital creations than to discuss politics or technology, a survey released Wednesday showed.

While high-traffic 'A-list' bloggers who discuss topics covered by traditional media get most of the publicity, the fact is blogging in general is more of a personal experience, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said. More than three fourths of bloggers surveyed said they blog to document their own experiences and share them with others. More than six in 10 said they blog to share practical knowledge or skills with others."

Read more: Blogging Is All About Me

Was there ever really any doubt about this?????

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hot Weather Stories

Some of my experiences with enduring the heat

It's too hot, and that's not just my opinion. It's a fact, verified by the National Weather Service. They've been issuing a Heat Advisory every day for a week or so in Kentucky. Our Heat Advisory for tomorrow reads in part:

Conditions may be more oppressive Thursday afternoon... as highs are expected to reach near 100 degrees [in] many areas... with heat indices forecast to range from 105 to 115 degrees.

A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is likely. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids... stay in an air conditioned room... stay out of the sun... and check up on relatives and friends.

(Source: Weather Underground for Hopkinsville, KY)

Hot!This summer, one thing after another has broken at our house, and the most recent thing was the air conditioning. Thank goodness, it's back on tonight, but we spent about a week and a half without it. That's enough time to make a person remember how truly wonderful air conditioning is.

Back before AC was invented, houses in Kentucky (and throughout the South) were built to resist the heat and promote air circulation. The second story and full attic helped to insulate the first floor. Ten-foot ceilings and six-foot windows promoted natural air circulation. A grove of trees around the house could reduce the temperatures another five to ten degrees.

We have trees, but no second story and no sets of big opposite windows so air can flow through easily. This house begins to get hot around 10 a.m. and it doesn't cool down until around 10 p.m., even with fans.

Hot Summer of 1980 in Missouri

While sitting around here too hot to move, I've thought about other hot summers in my past. I remember the hot summer of 1980 quite well. In Missouri, heat records were broken day after day. We lived in a second-floor apartment without air conditioning, and it was so hot even at night that we could barely sleep. Somehow in that heat, we packed everything up, moved out, and got ready to go teach school in Bolivia. It was 112° the day we flew out of Kansas City.

When we came back to Kansas City a year and a half later to spend Christmas, it was -15° the night we arrived. Those are good examples of the temperature extremes that Missouri can produce. I haven't seen it any hotter in Missouri than 112°, but I have seen it colder than -15°.

1980-82: Hot weather in Bolivia

We were near the equator in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, but life without air conditioning there really wasn't any worse than in Missouri. Our house was built with thick, solid brick walls that resisted the heat, and the whole place was shaded by trees most of the day. The floors were ceramic tile, and they were always cool. We had patios on three sides of the house. In the shade on an airy wicker chair with a cold drink, it was warm but not uncomfortable.

Of course, it was hot when we got out of our chairs and left the shade -- to go to work, for example. Bolivia is south of the equator and our school followed an American schedule, so the school months of September through May spanned the seasons of spring, summer, and autumn.

My classroom was in a new building with no trees around it, and it was very hot throughout the summer. I put the children under our one ceiling fan so they would be comfortable enough that they might be able to learn something. Most summer days were three-shower days --before and after school and before bed.

As warm as the summers were, the winters could be surprisingly cold. When cold surazos blew in from the Argentine Pampas, nighttime temperatures fell into the forties. Our house had no form of heat and it could be darned chilly. We couldn't even run the oven much because its gas supply was a small propane cylinder.

1985: Hot summer of pregnancy

And then there was the memorable summer when I was pregnant with Keely. We were trying to survive on just one income during my last few months of pregnancy. The bigger I got, the hotter the weather got, and I was miserable. Our rental house had no air conditioner, not even a window unit, and we couldn't afford to buy one.

I wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for lime slushes and Debbie. When I got too hot, I got two big lime slushes at Quick Trip and went to Debbie and Leroy's waterbed store to sit in the air conditioning for a few hours.

Debbie was pregnant too, and business was usually slow at the store so she was glad for company. We drank our slushes, watched TV, played cards, and sat around being pregnant. Luckily, Quick Trip was practically giving away lime slushes that summer. We drank so many that it's a wonder our babies didn't turn out green.

Debbie's baby was born at the end of July, and about the same time, the weather miraculously cooled down and August's temperatures stayed mostly in the 80's. It wasn't too bad. Keely was born on August 28, and not long after that, the cooler days of autumn arrived.

"This heat doesn't bother me one bit!"

Hot SunIn Kentucky, we usually have high humidity along with the heat. Our temperatures have been in the mid-90's this week, but the humidity has pushed the heat indices to 105° and above, day after day.

One day this week, a nice older lady who is a native Kentuckian told me with pride that this heat doesn't bother her one bit. I am sure it doesn't. She has a lovely home with central air, and she works part-time in an air conditioned office. She drives around in a large air-conditioned Buick. In my opinion, she really has no idea what the heat is like.

Many of my farmer neighbors have tobacco fields, and this time of the year, they spend a good part of each day walking through them with hoes in their hands and sprayers on their backs. When I worked at the little country store down the road, the farmers often stopped in for a cold drink and a few minutes in the air conditioning. They were drenched in sweat and sometimes they looked like they were near heat exhaustion. I don't think any of them would ever say that the heat doesn't bother them one bit.

Two survival tips for hot weather

The truth is, heat like this is dangerous. I learned a couple of survival techniques during the years when we had no air conditioning, and I used them again when our AC was out the last couple weeks. I'll share them here because they might help someone else who's trying to just endure:

  • You can cool down pretty well if you lay a wet towel across your body and rest in front of the fan.
  • It's also helpful to wrap a few ice cubes inside a wet hand towel and lay it around your neck.

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Unique Shed Doors

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...

Odd shed doors

Touches of human creativity and personality can be seen in odd places. Consider these shed doors. Given four small windows and two large doors, the builder could have done the typical garage door window arrangement. However, he chose to set them diagonally at opposite angles.

Apparently he decided to give this humble building a little pizzazz. And it worked, don't you think?

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Fire at Valentine, NE

Life in The Nebraska Sandhills...

For those who are interested in the happenings in the Sandhills:

Branch Responsible for Valentine Wildfire
North Platte [NE] Telegraph by Diane Wetzel, July 18, 2006

A tree branch rubbing on a power line was responsible for the destruction or damage of a dozen homes and approximately four square miles of land north of Valentine.

Jim Bunstock, public information specialist with Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said the arc created by the branch created sparks, which ignited dry grasses below.

Read more: Branch Responsible for Valentine Wildfire

The article mentions that the temperature was 113° and the humidity was 9% on the day of the fire. On the weather forecast for my old hometown, I saw that the weather service is issuing Fire Weather Watches. It is dry up there!

UPDATE has posted some photos of the Valentine wildfire.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How's Your Penmanship?

Chores and Duties... History and Old Stuff... And What I Think About It...

PenToday I finished filling out a job application I've been dithering over for several days. I'll hand it in tomorrow and wait to see if anything happens. I am not holding my breath.

I had to complete the application by hand, which made me realize how much my penmanship has deteriorated. My writing muscles have grown lazy.

I have a debit card so I don't write many checks anymore. In a month's time, I might address half a dozen envelopes. I have stickers for the return address. Beyond the checks, the envelopes, and the occasional greeting card with a note inside, I just don't write much.

My written communication is done mostly through the keyboard, these days. Even though I'm a member of the generation before the computer kids, I've made the transition. I've crossed over from analog to digital, so to speak.

The handwriting instruction I received in school came from the days of player-pianos and the Gibson Girl. Palmer penmanship was out of vogue in most schools by the 1950's and '60's, but it was still taught at Duff Valley District 4. I was never able to do those long lines of loops and strokes evenly and smoothly.

So you see, I regret that my handwriting is not what it once was and also that it has never been as nice as I wanted it to be.

I think I am my own harshest critic, though. At one job I had, we were always terribly rushed. We scrawled notes to another department in the worst handwriting that you can imagine. One of the girls in that department complimented me one day. "You have such good handwriting," she said. I laughed strangely because she had shocked me so. "No, really," she said. "I can always read it."

My standards may be unrealistically high, thanks to the Palmer Penmanship books of my childhood. It's function over form with handwriting. Legibility is the most important goal. What good would it do to write beautifully if no one could read it?

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Bad Telephone Service

And What I Think About It...

Our telephone lines are a mess. Half the time, we can't even get a dial tone. When there is a dial tone, sudden pops and bursts of static occur constantly, disrupting conversations and internet connections. When I was talking to Keely tonight, we were suddenly disconnected and then there was no dial tone for forty five minutes.

I called this afternoon and complained to a machine and the machine said it will be fixed by Thursday.

I don't talk on the phone a lot, but I am fond of being able to use it when I have a mind to do so. Using the internet has been impossible, until about 10:30 this evening when suddenly the line noise abated and the internet began staying connected for up to 10 or 15 minutes at times.

Though the disconnects are annoying, at least I've been able to read the e-mail and make a few of my normal rounds. Bad is better than impossible.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Old Store Building

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... Life in The Upper South... History and Old Stuff...

Old country store

Former country stores are a common sight along Kentucky's backroads. This one is located on Highway 507 in Christian County.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Along Highway 68/80

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... Life in The Upper South... The Rural Life...

The farmland in southern Christian and Todd Counties in Kentucky is said to be some of the best in the state. Some of the farms in that area have been long established and have seen some prosperity over the years. As an example, here's an attractive old farmhouse east of Hopkinsville along Highway 68/80.

The photo below includes their new farm sign. I stopped to get a closer look at it after noticing it a few days ago. As I zipped by at highway speed, all I saw was the barn on the sign. In fact, I thought that they had put up a painting with a barn scene and I was intrigued by the idea. But no -- it's a farm sign with their names, not just a barn picture.

Doesn't that corn look good? The fields in this area lie just above Little River, and corn usually does well in them. It is dryland corn (not irrigated), but the rain this year has been nicely timed. Farmers here can count their blessings, as many areas of the U.S. are suffering from drought or from an excess of rain!

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Chimney Rock Eroding

History and Old Stuff...

Chimney RockChimney Rock, a western Nebraska landmark

When I was a little girl studying Nebraska in 4th grade, I had never seen Chimney Rock (or Scotts Bluff or any of the other curious rock formations that are scattered across the Platte Valley in Western Nebraska.)

However, I would have recognized Chimney Rock instantly, had I seen it. I had been thoroughly schooled about its distinctive silhouette and its significance as a landmark to travelers across the prairie.

A textbook from the era of my education gives the following description of Chimney Rock:

Out near Bayard, in Morrill County, beside the old Mormon Trail, a huge rock rises from the plain like a giant chimney. It is 120 feet high and is made of clay with layers of red and white sandstone. It can be seen for thirty miles and is now a well-known monument. In the early days, it served as a guide for the travelers who were on their way west.

What a tale it could tell if it could but speak-- a tale of prairie schooners and stagecoach days. A tale of railroads, highways, and of airways!

Not far from this famous landmark passed the travelers along the Oregon and Mormon trails. Past this, too, went the Pony Express riders on their way to the West.

Clara O. Wilson, Alice M. Cusack, and Clara Evans in A Child's Story of Nebraska, published in 1948 by the Lincoln Publishing Company, Lincoln. P. 139.

Scott Bayard, writing for the Associated Press in a July 15, 2006, article titled "Nebraska's Popular Chimney Rock Eroding," says, "An 1830 fur caravan resulted in the first written recorded reference to Chimney Rock and the first artistic rendering that survives dates to 1837. Of the hundreds of letters and diaries from the period, Chimney Rock is mentioned more than any other natural feature."

The westward-bound who reached Chimney Rock surely were grateful for the progress they had made. As they looked to the west, they knew that the easiest miles of the trail were ending and the hard trek through the Rockies was near at hand. Like all milestones in life, it was a moment to look both backward and forward and then to square the shoulders and forge ahead.

Nebraska's quarterNebraska's new state quarter has a picture of Chimney Rock and a covered wagon. It was a wise choice because it is a symbol that every native Nebraskan understands and shares. The words "Chimney Rock" bring to mind the crayon sketches and papier mache models we once made of this unique formation.

Furthermore, the Nebraska quarter immortalizes a natural wonder that won't be there forever. The geological forces that gave Chimnney Rock its famous upside-down funnel shape are still at work. As the soft clay layers continue to erode, the long thin "chimney" will gradually crumble away -- or perhaps it will simply break off one day.

So says Scott Bayard in his AP article. I suppose he's right, but perhaps the erosion is affecting the girth of the chimney more than its height.

The following sentences in Bayard's article are curious, considering that the height of the rock was said to be 120 feet in the 1948 textbook I quoted above. "The spire has lost about 30 feet in the past 150 years. It currently measures 325 feet from tip to base, with the spire measuring 120 feet, according to the Nebraska State Historical Society."

I hope I get to see Chimney Rock again while it is still standing. I haven't been out there since I was attending college at Chadron, Nebraska, and was dating a boy from Scottsbluff. That was 1970.

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Images in this post are from Wikipedia

Related Sites:
Photographs of Chimney Rock -- Thirty-five photographs of Chimney Rock from the early 1900s to 1993.

Old postcard photo of Chimney Rock
U.S. Geological Survey photo of Chimney Rock about 1915

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Friday, July 14, 2006

New Blogs on the Roll

Blogs and Blogging...

I've added several new blogs to the roll and I encourage my readers to visit them.

Thoughts From the Middle of Nowhere is the blog of a Montana rancher. Sarpy Sam writes about the ups and downs of day-to-day ranch life and posts beautiful photos of his land and livestock.

Prairie Mary also blogs from Montana. She is eloquent and witty, and she writes interesting essays about Western life, people, books, and arts.

I recently discovered the Roundrock Journal and I've enjoyed what I've read of it. Roundrock is an 83.5 acre plot of land in the Missouri Ozarks, and the journal includes many photos of the land and its flora and fauna.

Fishing is the art blog of young Hamsa Hand of Bombay. Her drawings are light and refreshing, and you won't know what I mean by that unless you visit.

Desert Photography & Fine Art contains wonderful images of New Mexico scenery and architecture and excellent southwestern art by Peggi Meyer Graminski.

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Found Inside Old Books

History and Old Stuff...

Here are a few of the things I've found tucked into the pages of old books.

  • A prayer for people who are discouraged
  • A little lock of hair tied with thread
  • A Beatles bubble gum trading card
  • A handwritten recipe for salt-rising bread
  • Old photo of children sitting on the back of a large bull or ox
  • Pressed maple and oak leaves
  • Old clipping about common backyard birds of Kentucky
  • List of games to play at a party
  • Old clipping about best lawn grasses
  • A wedding napkin from June of 1962
  • Old Sunday School paper with a picture of the Good Shepherd
  • Old picture postcard of Amsterdam
I usually just leave these things in the books I found them in. I did take the lock of hair out and throw it away because it was discoloring the pages. I've actually found quite a few clippings, but I don't remember the precise subjects of them all right now.

Related post:
A Prayer For Today

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A Prayer For Today

Christian and Lutheran Life... History and Old Stuff...

Today I found this newspaper clipping in an old cookbook that I bought recently. On behalf of the lady who clipped it, I'm sharing it here. The yellowed, brittle bit of newsprint doesn't include any indication of when or where it was published or whom the author was.

Lord, pity all discouraged hearts today.
Give them the sweet assurance of your help along the way.
Make plain the crooked paths and straight the roads.
Reach out your hand, dear Lord, and help them bear their heavy loads,
And some way let them feel that You are near.
You know how rough the earthly roads were, Lord, when you were here.
You know our hearts. You learned them through those days
When You were One among the throngs that pressed the old earth's ways.
Because You understand, I pray this prayer:

So many are discouraged; lead them out of their despair.
Give them the gift of laughter and of songs.
Put hope and gladness in their hearts, dear Lord, and make them strong.

Light beyond the hill

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tag Cloud

Blogs and Blogging...

Check out the Zoom Cloud I've added in the sidebar. I have seen similar tag clouds on many blogs, and I decided to put one here just for fun.

On the first cloud or two when I was setting it up, some of the tags it came up with were just bizarre. I read in the FAQ that it bases the first cloud on the posts that happen to be in your site feed. Thus, it takes a period of time to develop a history and an accurate reflection of the blog's topics.

Someone had mentioned in the comments that you can force a lot of posts into your site feed by increasing the setting for the number of posts on the blog's main page and then republishing it. So, I tried that suggestion and now the cloud is a little more realistic.

I tried a couple of times to publish it with 999 posts on the front page. It kept giving an error, so then I published it with 200 posts on the front page. If anyone tried to visit my blog during all this, they probably had trouble loading the page.

Apparently Blogger thought I was spamming with those massive republishings. A word verification thing has now appeared on my "Create Post" page. I have to type the letters into the box before I can publish anything new.

I followed a link to a request form for Blogger to check my blog for spam. If they agree it's not spam, they'll remove the word verification thing. Hopefully they'll decide I'm innocent.

Update: I think they've also removed my blog from the "Recently Updated" and "Next Blog" lists. I also don't think they're publishing my site feed. I feel isolated.

Update: Yay! I got an e-mail from Google saying that I've been taken off the spammer list, and sure enough, I don't have a word verification box on the "Create Post" page now. And I think I was mistaken about the site feed, by the way. It was still being published.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Seen on Main Street

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... History and Old Stuff...

Victorian buildingSomeone has done a nice paint job on this vintage building on Main Street in Hopkinsville. I don't know what sort of business is going into it but I'm pleased to see its facade looking so dashing.

I've photographed this building's neighbors previously -- on one side, a nicely preserved building and on the other side, a sadly deteriorated building.

I sometimes call this part of Main Street "the legal district" because it's near the courthouse and sherriff's department, and many of the buildings are occupied by lawyers.

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Memories of Arabia, Nebraska

Traveling Highway 20 in Cherry County, Nebraska

Cherry County, Nebraska is outlined in black.
An arrow indicates the approximate location of Arabia.

Note: This is another of those long posts that Isaac is always warning me about. He says that people hate to read them. Sorry. I have to write them anyway!

When I was a child, we traveled Highway 20 in and through Cherry County, Nebraska, fairly often. Usually we were going to Valentine to the salebarn or to a tractor dealer, or we were driving across Cherry County on our way to visit my grandma and aunt at Gordon.

To this day, Highway 20 is the main road across northern Nebraska from Sioux City on the east to Harrison on the west. Several years ago, I drove Highway 20 from Gordon to O'Neill with much nostalgia. The miles flew by!

The miles didn't go so quickly when I was a child. It was roughly a hundred long, boring miles from one end of Cherry County to the other, and Valentine was the halfway point. A few tiny cowtowns lay along the way, but the scenery was mostly Sandhills pastures with occasional barbed wire fences, windmills and cattle.

The merchants of Valentine deserve credit for trying to encourage weary travelers like myself. All through Cherry County along Highway 20, they posted red, heart-shaped road signs at two mile intervals. Each sign told the remaining distance to Valentine. The name of the sign's sponsor was posted on a small rectangular sign below the heart.

Going to Valentine, I could read the signs to see how much distance remained, and driving away from Valentine, I could turn around backwards and read the signs to see how far we had traveled away from Valentine. It was a bit of entertainment on a long road.

One of the landmarks along the way between Johnstown and Valentine was the Arabia Ranch. The Arabia Ranch was named for the Arabia railroad station that stood along the CNW train tracks, a mile or two across the meadow from the ranch headquarters.

The Arabia Ranch headquarters looked like a little village. There was a large house where the ranch owner lived with his family. A short distance away, a dozen or more small houses and bunkhouses were occupied by the hired men and their families.

In the 1950's-early 1960's, Johnny Drayton and his family lived in the big house. Johnny Drayton ran Angus cattle on the Arabia Ranch, and when he sold his herd in the 1960's, my dad bought a couple pens of cows at the auction. Those cows was known as "Drayton cows" for as long as they were in my dad's herd. The cattle in my brother's herd still carry some of the genes of the Drayton cows. But I digress.

A bit to the west of the ranch buildings, a small reddish brown building stood by the railroad tracks. That was the Arabia railroad station. The train didn't stop at Arabia unless it was notified to do so, and the station hadn't been staffed for a long time (if it ever had been).

Beside the little building, there was a large set of cattle pens and loading chutes. They bore witness to early days when ranchers drove their cattle to Arabia and kept them in pens until the train arrived. Then the cattle were loaded into boxcars to go to market at the Sioux City or Omaha Stockyards. The rancher might get on the train too, to make sure the cattle received proper care along the way and to see what price they would bring.

I remember that the paint was peeling on the railroad facilities at Arabia. Cattle shipment had been the main function of the Arabia train stop, and those days were drawing to a close by the 1950's. Most ranchers were sending their cattle to local salebarns in semi-trucks rather than to distant markets in railroad cars.

Along Highway 20 in the area of the Arabia Ranch, there were several large signs made of two boards nailed to two fence posts. The top board said "Thro No," and the bottom board said "Cigarettes." The message reflected the fear of prairie fire that every Sandhill rancher shares. A smouldering butt can ignite dry prairie grasses! I don't know why they left off the "w", and I'm not sure if the signs were placed by a rancher or by a cattlemen's association.

When I drove across Cherry County on Highway 20 several years ago, the heart-shaped Valentine signs were gone, and so were the cryptic warnings to careless smokers. The Arabia Ranch is still there, but its village is much smaller than it was in the mid-1900's. The little Arabia railroad station and its stockyards have been torn down, and even the railroad has been completely removed.

Now, the Cowboy Trail follows the railbed of the old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad alongside Highway 20. The 18-mile section from the Arabia Ranch to Valentine is open for hiking. Many of the things I've written of here are just ghosts along its way.

Highway 20 followed the railroad's route across northern Cherry County.
Until I was 6, we lived 10 miles south of Johnstown (north of Lakeland).

Map images in this post were made from an 1895 map of Nebraska I found in a list of maps at the NeGenWeg Project.

Related post:
More about Arabia, Nebraska

More about Arabia, Nebraska

Arabia, along Highway 20 in Cherry County, Nebraska

I found the following information about Arabia online:

In the Nebraska State Gazetteer, Business Directory and Farmers List for 1890-1891

Arabia, a station and post office on the F. E. & M. V. R. R., in the eastern part of Cherry county, 16 miles from Valentine ... Population 40. (Source)

A bit of research reveals that the F. E. & M. V. R. R. was the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad. In 1903, it was "absorbed into the C&NW, which already had de facto control." (Source.)

-- In 1925 Nebraska Place-Names by Lilian Linder Fitzpatrick, A.M.

Arabia. Henry V. Ferguson of Sioux City, Iowa, auditor for the railway, named this town after Arabia in Asia because he imagined that the soil in the vicinity resembled the desert sands of Arabia. This assumption proved incorrect, however, for the soil was found to be very fertile. (Source)

-- In Early History of Cherry County, Nebraska by Charles S. Reece, 1945.

Ten miles from Wood Lake we come to Arabia. This station was named by Henry V. Ferguson, an auditor of the railroad who thought that because the soil was sandy, it resembled the Arabian Desert in Asia. However, he soon found that it was a fine grass land.

The railroad built a section house and put up a water tank and wind mill when the railroad reached the place. There was a store and Post Office for a number of years, but these have all been discontinued and removed. Their school district No. 50, was organized in 1888. Miss Emma O'Riley was the first teacher, and taught during the years 1888 and 1889. This district has pleasant memories for the writer of this history as he taught the school for three years in the early nineties [1890's].

The Arabia Community covers a large territory, and is entirely a ranching section of the county. It is made up of successful, prosperous ranches. As in other sections of the county, the ranches have become larger by buying up holdings of small operators. Being on both the railroad and Highway No. 20, gives it an advantage over many sections of the county.

The railroad was built through Arabia in the summer of 1882, and the first settler arrived in that year. George Vlasnik, who homesteaded the place owned for many years by J. C. McNare, and now the home of W. G. O'Kief, southeast of Arabia, about three miles...

...Arabia has been an important hay shipping station, and hay has gone from there to supply U. S. Government forts, livestock markets and private feeders over a wide territory. The railroad maintains stock yards here to accommodate ranchmen at shipping time. (Source.)

Related post: Memories of Arabia, Nebraska

Summer Evening

All In The Family...

I came across the following in some old e-mail as I was looking for something else. I wrote this in July of 2001.

This evening, the kids and I went for our walk and then I bounced on the trampoline with them. I am not sure how we ended up just lying on it, but it was so peaceful. The air was cool and the bugs didn't find us. Directly overhead in the mimosa tree's blossoms, the hummingbirds were flitting around. Lying there, we could look straight up through the branches and see them zipping along from blossom to blossom. They like the very top of the tree best. The kids and I had a good talk about nothing in particular and laughed at a lot of silly stuff. What a pleasant and wonderfully lazy way to spend an hour on a summer evening.

It made me think how much I miss having Keely home this summer!

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Blogs and Blogging...

I decided to try the pop-up window for comments, rather than going to a whole new page. If anyone has trouble with it, just let me know and I'll change it back.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Grain Elevators in Pembroke, KY

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...

Grain elevators in Pembroke, KY

These grain elevators on the east side of the little village of Pembroke are surely the tallest structures within city limits. This photo was taken on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Pembroke is a thriving little town of about 400 inhabitants, situated on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, ten miles south of Hopkinsville. Its founder was R. C. Jameson, who at first (about 1848-49) kept the post office in his private residence, but afterward built a storehouse at the junction of the Tobacco and Nashville roads to which he removed it. It has a score or more of business houses, a church, a flouring-mill, a planing-mill, two tobacco warehouses, a rehandling establishment, several shops, and last but not least two excellent schools...

...There are a number of excellent flouring-mills in the several precincts [Pembroke, Casky, and Longview] that do a large and flourishing business, but want of space forbids their mention. Like the other parts of southern Christian most of the lands are well adapted to the growth of corn and wheat, and keep the mills well supplied with grist."

Quoted from William Henry Perrin's 1884 Christian County, Kentucky History .
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Love That Licorice

Another Trip Down Memory Lane...

Licorice is one of those flavors that people either love or hate. I'm a licorice lover.

I've been hooked on the flavor of licorice since the first time I turned my whole mouth black with Nibs. Nibs are bite-size slices of strongly flavored black licorice rope. The Nibs I remember from childhood were cut from a solid licorice rope, and they came in a bright yellow and red box that had a camel on it. They were usually very chewy.

Today I was thinking about Sen Sen Licorice Mints. I can't think what their package looked like, but as I recall, the mints themselves were folded inside a little white paper. They were tiny flat pellets that packed a tangy wallop of licorice flavor. They were sold as a breath freshener, and with their potency, I'm sure they did the job.

I also liked Smith Brothers Cough Drops, the black kind. To licorice lovers, the round black lozenges made by the Brothers were cough drops in name only. We knew they were really candy. (So were the wild cherry flavored lozenges made by Smith Brothers, but the licorice ones were better.) I haven't seen them for years.

I must also mention Black Jack chewing gum which had a lovely licorice flavor. It was my favorite flavor of chewing gum. I even loved the color of the wrappers, a beautiful blue. When I was young, girls made long zig-zag chains from folded gum wrappers, and Black Jack wrappers were the blue links in those chains.

My mother-in-law and I agree on a few things, and one of our points of concord is that black jellybeans are the best.

Licorice allsortsWe both like licorice allsorts too. Walgreens Drugs sometimes has Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts, and I sometimes buy a bag. They're cute, colorful, and yummy, but they're surprisingly fattening, so I don't need to make a regular habit of buying them. Really, does food come much more processed than that? (I'm giving myself a lecture here.) Wink

If you're a licorice lover, I've surely mentioned enough licorice candies to whet your appetite or at least your curiosity. You might enjoy a trip to the Licorice Finder.

(Licorice allsorts photo by Kim Parry. )

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Keely's Classes

All In The Family... And What I Think About It...

Books stacked high!Keely came to visit today and she told me what classes she's taking duing the fall semester:

Lab for Organic Chemistry I
Organic Chemistry II
Physics II Light, Sound & Waves
Physics II Lab
Advanced Bio-Chemistry
Intro to Complex Variable Analysis (aka Calculus 5)

At her age, I might have been able to handle all that, but now, just thinking about it makes my head hurt!

No, I must be honest! I wouldn't have been able to handle those classes because I didn't take the math and science in high school that Keely did.

My high school didn't even offer some of the math and science classes that Keely took in high school, and I wasn't urged to take all of the classes that were offered. I was quite unprepared for college work in math and science.

Keely will have a Biology major and Chemistry and Math minors when she graduates. Or, she may make the Chemistry a second major instead of a second minor because she will only need two more classes.

She will be finished either in May of 2007 or in December of 2007, depending on what she decides about the Chemistry major. From there, she hopes to go to med school.

Old Homesite

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... History and Old Stuff...

Old barn

The barn is still standing, but across the road, only the trees are left at the old homesite.

Old homesite
These photos were taken in Todd County, Kentucky, about 15 miles southeast of our home. I decided to use sepia toning to give them an old-fashioned look as Rich Legg of Leggnet's Daily Capture often does. I like the effect a little better on the trees than on the barn.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.