Saturday, June 30, 2007

Zucchini, Anyone?

Life in Christian County Kentucky...

ZucchiniIt's that time of the year. We're eating a zucchini dish at least once every day, plus I'm sneaking it into everything I can think of.

We've had sliced raw zucchini with dip. We've had zucchini bread. We've had steamed zucchini, breaded-and-fried zucchini, and zucchini sauteed with onion and served over rice.

My favorite zucchini recipe is the stuffed zucchini that's on my recipe blog. We had it for supper tonight, and it used up two rather large zucchini. I had to wedge them into the pan to boil them.

Another zucchini A cup or more of grated zucchini cooks into meatloaf pretty well. Also, zucchini oatmeal cookies are good. The grated zucchini in them looks like pale green coconut flakes.

I have a recipe for zucchini pancakes, but somehow that doesn't sound good, even to me, the zucchini pusher. Neither does the recipe for zucchini doughnuts.

Zucchini I gave away three zucchini this afternoon, so currently I have only three on hand. I am going to take them to church tomorrow, and try to get someone to take them.

If I don't get rid of them at church, I'm going to commit a "Random Act of Zucchini." I'll give them to someone in a store parking lot.

I've done this before with bags of tomatoes. I've found they are surprisingly easy to give away. People are happy to accept them and I am happy to get rid of them. Let's hope this holds true for zucchini.


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Friday, June 29, 2007

Eight Things You Never Asked To Know

All In The Family... Blogs and Blogging...

A meme is going around some of the blogs I frequent. I enjoyed reading Greenman Tim's responses to it. Then I read the last paragraph and realized he had tagged me. So here are eight random things about myself.

1. I think I would enjoy video games but I've never allowed myself to get started playing them. I'm afraid I would want to play night and day.

2. Speaking of night, I'm quite a nightowl. I would do well at a night job.

3. I am terribly near-sighted. I'm thankful that I was born in the age of modern optometry. I started wearing glasses when I was in second grade. When I was 20, I got contact lenses and I wore them for nearly 30 years. Then I caught pinkeye (a really disgusting condition!) and I had to wear glasses while I was getting over it. I haven't gone back to contacts since, though I think about it sometimes.

4. When my sister and I were little, we sometimes rolled our chewed bubble gum in the sugar bowl to refresh it.

5. I hate pantyhose. Here is how I avoid wearing them. When I have to "dress up" for church or whatever, I wear black slacks and a coordinating top. I have eight pairs of black slacks, in several different fabrics. In summer, I add a few pairs of beige slacks to the mix. Once in a while, I might wear a summer dress with sandals.

6. I was a "Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year" when I was a senior in high school. A few years later, I was a "Miss Nebraska Charolais." Another girl was the "Miss Nebraska Charolais." I was just the runner-up. I think those are the only two titles I've ever won. I won a local photography contest once, and I won a floral arrangement once in a drawing. I've never been particularly lucky at winning things.

7. I taught elementary school for eight years before I had kids, and spent another year teaching Basic Math to soldiers in Germany before Isaac was born. I should have gone back to teaching when we came to Kentucky, but the schools were in an uproar because of the new Kentucky Education Reform Act. I was a stay-at-home mom for a while, then worked at a couple of other jobs. Now my kids are grown. I wonder if I still have the energy for the students, the papers that have to be graded, the classes they'd want me to take, and all those cranky co-teachers. People my age retire from teaching, not return to it. Nonetheless, I will probably substitute teach this fall.

8. When we lived in Bolivia, I played cribbage fiercely with a group of intense cribbage players. Then life went on, and I had no cribbage-playing cronies. When Keely was eight, I taught her to play. Now every time we play, she beats me! (She's also much faster and better at Sudoku than me!)

The next step of the meme is that I'm supposed to invite eight more bloggers to carry on the meme. If this meme interests you, please consider yourself tagged. If you send me the link to your eight things, I'll post it here.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Using the Little Linux Computer

My Various Hobbies

The Win-XP computer is at the shop, so I'm writing from the little Linux computer in the back hallway tonight.

It's a small workspace, but pleasant. The desk is long and narrow to fit its space. I can see myself in the mirror at the other end of the hallway. I'm sitting on my straight-backed chair with a rosy paper lantern overhead and Casper curled at my feet.

Currently, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hank Thompson are taking turns singing in my ear. Next up is the Blackwood Brothers. The selection of music on this computer is limited, but enjoyable to me. (I chose it all.)

Linux mascotThis little Gateway computer used to have Windows 98 on it. When Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Win-98, I decided to install Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a free operating system, one of many varieties ("distributions") of Linux, all of which are free.

Linux is supposed to be a more stable and secure system than Windows -- that is, it rarely crashes and rarely needs rebooting, and it resists viruses. Many big commercial and government computers (often called "servers") use Unix which is sort of a big brother to Linux.

A helpful Linux user (a local person) coached me on partitioning the disk and installing Ubuntu. He even had me bring the computer to a high-speed internet connection in his office so I could download a bunch of stuff he thought I needed. (We can't get DSL where we live. Our telephone lines aren't good enough.)

I haven't learned many of the details of Linux yet, but that's my own fault. A tremendous amount of information is available on the internet. I've even been given at least half a dozen books about Linux. I just haven't been interested in studying it deeply.

Mainly, I use this computer when Isaac wants to play games on the other one. I type up some recipes or get on the internet. I didn't need to study how to do those things. The programs worked just as one might logically expect.

The Win-XP computer is still the computer of choice in this house, but I'm glad we have this one as a backup. Linux has extended its useful life.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Construction Adhesive

My Various Hobbies...

Hands coated with construction adhesive

Today, I got a lot of construction adhesive on my hands, but I made good progress on the shop table I'm building. It's turning out to be a workbench rather than a table because I decided to make it narrower.

I thought about photographing my progress but I have such a mess in my workspace. I'll post a photo later when I get the table finished, the floor swept, and the tools put away.

I am still puzzling about the warped 2x12's that I want to use for the top. I have three boards to choose from. One is not warped. The other two are so twisted that when three corners touch down, the fourth corner is nearly an inch in the air.

I originally thought that I would use two boards lengthwise. Now I'm thinking about cutting the boards into shorter lengths and laying them crosswise. Short boards can't have as much warp as the 8-foot boards do!

I don't think that running the boards crosswise will affect the sturdiness of the bench at all. The bench is extremely solid (thanks to lag bolts and construction adhesive and a whole bunch of nails and screws.) It is the most solid thing I have ever built. I expect it will last at least a couple of centuries.

Of course, I could go to town and buy a new 2x12 that's not warped, but that would defeat one of my purposes for this project -- to use up a lot of scrap lumber.

I could finish up in just a few more hours. I wish I could get it done tomorrow, but I must work in my garden tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon is booked too. Maybe Wednesday.


Related post: The Wood-Working Woman Wields Her Tools

(That title sounds so much nicer than "The Wood Butcher Strikes Again", don't you think?)

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at Nashville, TN

Life in The Upper South...

Dennis had an appointment yesterday at the VA Hospital in Nashville. When we finally finished there, we decided to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. (It's true -- in 16 years of living 90 minutes from Nashville, we had never visited the Country Music Hall of Fame!)

The front of the building sweeps to a high peak on one end. I couldn't get it all in my camera from any position I tried. I think a wide-angle lens might have helped. However, here is the museum from the side, with a huge banner advertising the Ray Charles exhibit that is currently featured.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Here are some photos from the museum. (Most are less than 150k in size.) It was very dark in there, but these images were captured without flash, as the museum requests.

A very young Johnny Cash
Detail of Gene Autry's guitar
Old show bills from Hatch Show Print
Old sheet music
Tex Ritter's saddle
Wurlitzer jukebox
Minnie Pearl's dress
Costume-maker, Nudie, honored
Jim Reeves "Touch of Velvet"
Flatt & Scruggs guitar and banjo
Detail of Merle Travis's guitar
Bill Monroe's Gibson Mandolin
Patsy Cline's blue dress
Chet Atkins's D'Angelico Excel
Faron Young's guitar and a costume
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys
Hank Snow costumes
Early photo of Ray Charles
Roy Rogers, "Bells of San Angelo"

Johnny Cash's guitar
Johnny Cash's battered and scratched Martin guitar

In the photo above, the reflection in the glass is a wall of platinum and gold record albums. They are displayed in the order that they occurred. Some of them open out, and you can listen to selections from that album.

In fact (brace yourself for the shock!), there are many places in the museum where you can listen to music, watch videos of performances, listen to interviews with stars, etc. Much of the museum's ongoing preservation and research is centered on its immense archive of country music recordings.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is housed in the rotunda, a large, light room. It would be possible to browse for quite a while there. Every inductee has a bronze plaque mounted on the wall, with an image of his or her face and some biographical information.

It was late in the afternoon when we left the Country Music Hall of Fame, but we still had a few minutes to walk a block down to Broadway, Nashville's famous honky-tonk street. The Ryman Auditorium, historic home of the Grand Old Opry, is right behind Tootsie's, the purple building in the photo below.

Honky-tonks in NashvilleTootsie's and other honky-tonks and tourist traps on Broadway

On Broadway, we visited the Ernest Tubb Record Shop where Isaac bought a CD of Johnny Cash hits. (He's always been a closet Johnny Cash fan.)

We listened to it on the way home. It was fun hearing Isaac's reactions to some old songs he hadn't heard before, such as "One Piece at a Time," the song about a car built from many years of parts stolen from the automobile factory.

More images:
Many images of the Country Music Hall of Fame on Flickr
Another image search for Country Music Hall of Fame on Flickr

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How to Patch the Knees of Jeans

Repair a hole in fabric

If you have the time to do it, a neat patch on a damaged garment returns it to useful service, saves you money and gives you a nice glow of pride in your handwork.

Here are the basics of repairing a worn out knee with a patch that is hemmed on both sides. These same ten steps can be used to patch a hole in virtually any fabric item.

1. Following the threads in the denim, cut off the frazzled edges so that the hole is square or rectangular in shape.

2. From an old pair of jeans, cut a patch that is one inch larger on all sides than the hole you are repairing. The edges of the patch should follow the threads in the cloth. Cut a 1/4-inch square out of each corner of the patch.

3. Put the patch inside the jeans leg and center it beneath the hole. Be sure the right side of the fabric is showing through the hole. Pin it securely.

4. Baste the patch in place, running the stitches about 3/4 inch from the edge of the hole.

5. From the right side of the knee, make a 1/4-inch diagonal cut in each of the four corners of the hole. (See image below.)

6. On each side of the hole, fold the fabric to the inside. Baste the folded edge to the patch.

7. Turn the jeans inside out. Remove the basting stitches from the outside edge of the patch.

8. Fold the edge of the patch under on all four sides. Baste the folded edges to the jeans. (See image below.)

9. Press the patch smoothly, lifting the iron up and down rather than sliding it across the fabric.

10. Stitch the edges down on both sides by hand with a hemming stitch, or sew around all edges with your sewing machine. Remove all basting stitches.

When my children were young, I bought a lot of their jeans at garage sales. Often I found jeans that were in excellent condition except for holes in the knees. I bought them for a small price and patched them. It was a good way to save a lot of money.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Community Remembers Miss Lorene

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

A dear elderly neighbor lady, Miss Lorene, has passed away, and I've been to the "visitation" tonight. Many folks from our community were there. Most of them have known each other all their lives, and quite a few of them are related to each other if you go back far enough in the family trees.

A slide show with pictures of Miss Lorene through the years was playing on a screen. She was a teenager in some of the photos, a pretty girl with a spit curl on her forehead. One of the photos was of her baptism in a river. In another photo, her tall young husband stood beside her, holding their first child. Later, there were more children, and then grandchildren.

The photos reminded people of stories. A neighbor lady told me about a baby shower she once had for Lorene. It was a surprise shower, but Lorene's husband had been informed. "You'd better dress up when you take those eggs over to Margie's," he told his wife. "They have company." He knew she'd want to look nice.

Another neighbor lady told me how hard Lorene had always worked in the fields. Tobacco fields are tended by hand every day just like a garden. Nowadays, many farmers hire Mexicans to work the tobacco, but back then, people worked their own. When it was harvest time, neighbors helped each other. They called it "trading work." This neighbor lady remembered trading work many times with Lorene and her husband.

Miss Lorene and her husband had ten children. Most of them still live in Christian County. I've always respected that family for taking good care of their mother. They planted her garden and took care of it, mowed the lawn, helped her get to town, and most importantly of all, visited her often. I'm not the only one who has noticed. People commented on that tonight.

One of the girls called a couple of days ago to let us know that Miss Lorene had gone on. I am glad she called. I might have learned it elsewhere, but maybe I would have missed it somehow.

Then I wouldn't have heard those stories or seen those wonderful old photos. And I wouldn't have had a chance to tell my own bit of Miss Lorene's life story -- something that perhaps others didn't know -- that she reached out and welcomed me when I was a newcomer to the community. I'll not forget her kindness.

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Ducks in a Row

Not Easily Classified...

Seen at Target

One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)
Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Too Dry in Kentucky

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...

Dried-up grass and corn near Fairview, KY

We sure could use a good, slow, all-day rain. If you look through the parched grass in the photo above, you can see how the bottom leaves of the corn have dried up and turned brown.

This corn is growing in a field with a slight slope. Most years, that would be a good thing because the ground wouldn't be as muddy in the spring when the farmer was trying to get his fields planted. This year, though, a well-drained field isn't an advantage.

The corn looks dry but still fairly good in some of the lowest, flattest fields near creeks. It's taller than this corn, and it's not as dehydrated.

According to a recent AP article about Kentucky's hay crop, it's in bad shape too. The first cutting wasn't as good as usual in many areas because of the late freeze, and now the grass isn't growing because of the drought.

Garry Lacefield, a University of Kentucky extension forage specialist, estimated that statewide hay production was off at least 50 percent this spring. Nearly half of Kentucky's pastureland is in poor or very poor condition, a statewide crop report said this week.

"The forage supply in this state is as low as I've seen it" this time of year, Lacefield said.

Source: "Cattle producers face depleted pastures, little hay amid drought," by Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press writer.

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How Lariats Are Made

Some Interesting News...

The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) has an interesting article: "King's Saddlery Knows the Ropes." It's about King's Saddlery and King Ropes in Sheridan, Wyoming, and it describes the process of making a fine lariat. I think you'll enjoy the article if you're interested in western history and lore.

Thanks to Sarpy Sam at Thoughts from the Middle of Nowhere for posting the link.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rain Showers in Christian County, KY

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...

Rain cloud over Hopkinsville, KYWe had some showers across Christian County yesterday evening and today. The rain was "spotty," which means some areas got a little rain and other areas didn't get much. I've heard about rain amounts from two-tenths of an inch to half an inch.

We had rain here at the house, but I don't know how much. If I see Willis, our Mennonite neighbor, I will ask him. He keeps his own weather records, and I'm sure he'll have a full report not only of how much it rained in our micro-area, but also of how much it rained in various other parts of the county.

That's Hopkinsville's little mall in the background of the photo. You can see how dry the grass is. It probably shouldn't have been mowed so close to the ground. We have some places in our yard where the grass is just as crackly.

The rain has moved out of the area now. I read on the Hopkinsville weather report that the barometric pressure is rising. The weather will be clear until Saturday when we'll have a slight chance of rain again.

Weather Forecasting

Reading about the barometric pressure made me think about my parents. We had a round barometer that hung in the back hallway. Mama and Daddy checked it several times a day to see what the air pressure was doing. When the barometer's needle dropped sharply, it was an omen of an impending weather event. A big drop in air pressure was particularly alarming in the winter, because it usually meant we were going to get a snowstorm.

Both my mom and dad had an ingrained habit of noticing what the wind was doing. At any time, either one could have told you what direction the wind was blowing from. If the wind's direction changed, they knew where it was now, how it had moved there, and what type of weather was likely because of the change.

Like many country people of their time, my parents were pretty good amateur weather forecasters, using their own observations, a few basic weather instruments, and their knowledge of common weather patterns.

Weather predictions weren't as accurate or extensive back then -- that is, during the 1950's and 1960's when I was growing up. The first tornado forecast was issued in 1948. The first computerized weather model was made in 1950. It used 25,000 punched cards. 24-hour forecasts were first issued in the early 1950's. Meterologists first saw photographs of the earth's atmosphere from satellites in the early 1960's. Now we take all of these things for granted.

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The Wood Working Woman Wields Her Tools

My Various Hobbies...

My shower felt really good tonight. I've been working out in the shed. I was sticky with sweat, powdered with sawdust, and smeared here and there with construction adhesive.

By the way, you can remove construction adhesive from skin with vegetable oil and the dish-scrubby (the one that is knitted from plastic string.) This probably works best if the adhesive is not completely set up.

Shop Table from Scrap Lumber

lag boltI'm trying to build building a shop table. I have several plans that I've printed off the internet and clipped from magazines. All of them require a bit more skill than I have, but what I lack in skill, I will make up with lag bolts and construction adhesive.

Part of the motivation for this project is to use up some of the lumber odds and ends and scraps that are piled around the shed. (Then I can buy some nice lumber when I want to build something else.)

Coping With Warps

We have a warped 2x12 that must have been 28 feet long. It was purchased by the carpenters who built the shed for us. Why? It should have been refused at the lumberyard, but here it is at our house, left over because it was too warped to build with.

I cut it into three 8-foot chunks, thinking I'd use them for the table top. They are so twisted that they don't lie together nicely. Maybe I can shim them enough to fasten them down securely on each end and then rent a power planer to smooth out the top.

I cut the pieces for the legs from 2x4's and started trying to glue them up, but they are warped too. It's driving me crazy. I finally got one leg glued and screwed together with its cross members built into it. If I hate that fabricated leg when I see it tomorrow, I'm going to make the legs from 4x4 scraps instead (no piecing together needed.)

Slow and Not Very Steady

You can't imagine how slow I am when I try to make something. Out of every hour, I swear, I spend at least half of it in heavy pondering. Another 25 minutes goes to false starts, mistakes, tool searches, and measuring a million times. Any real progress is made in the remaining five minutes.

I might have this very simple table done by the end of the week, or I might not. If I do, it probably won't look much like the original plan.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Elders (Elderberries) Are Blooming

Life in Christian County, Kentucky... More About Trees And Plants

Elderberry in flowerElderberry is blooming along the roads.

Along Christian County's ditches and ponds and little streams, elders are blooming. Perhaps you call them elderberries. Either way, the name refers to the same shrubs.

When we first moved here, I thought that the white-blooming clump of elder near our mailbox might be some kind of wild hydrangea. (I had read an article about wild hydrangeas in Southern Living magazine.)

However, in a few months, the white blooms morphed into drooping heads of small blackish-purple berries dangling from red stems. I realized that they were definitely elderberries.

I still don't know if any wild hydrangeas grow here, but we have lots of elder bushes. Our elder is Sambuccus canadensis, American (common) elder, which is native to much of the U.S.

I like the schedule elderberry bushes keep. They bloom in June and July after the early rush of blooming shrubs has finished. A couple of months later, the birds enjoy the fruit. In fact, when the elderberries are ripe, the birds practically swarm the berry heads.

If I had a wild, wet area, I'd think about planting elders there. Elders are short-lived shrubs, but the root system will send up new shoots as the old ones die out. In a manicured yard, the dead branches would need pruning every year, and that might be a pain. It would be better to plant them where nature can just take its course.

The flowers, leaves and berries of the elderberry were used by American Indians, and are still favored for various folk remedies. At health food stores, you'll find elderberry supplements that are said to fend off influenza.

If you ever decide to pick elderberries, be sure you have the plant identified correctly. Elders do not have thorns. Also, the berries of the common elder are always blackish when ripe and the berries hang down from the heads. There is another type of elderberry that produces red berries, and they are poisonous.

People usually hold a pan under the head and strip the little berries off, rather than plucking them individually.

My Mennonite neighbor, Kathryn, has picked elderberries to make jam some years. Elderberry wine is supposed to be good for what ails you, and I've heard of elderberry tea and elderberry pie. I have never made any of those things.

I just enjoy looking at elderberries blooming and bearing fruit. It's not nearly as much work.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Isaac's 18th Birthday

All In The Family...

Isaac, a few weeks after his first birthday

Isaac, 17 years ago

Isaac's 18th birthday has been an all-week affair.

It began when he got his new iPod two days before his birthday. This one is a refurbished iPod Nano, ordered from the Apple website. He likes it, possibly even better than his previous, larger iPod which was stolen from him at school.

Then on Wednesday, his actual birthday, we had a small birthday dinner and a minor birthday package ( a very minor package, because the Nano was the big present.)

Now we're getting ready for a birthday party with eight or ten friends here at the house tomorrow evening. Yesterday, we shopped for food. Today, I got the stuff I forgot yesterday. This evening, we've been cleaning house. Tomorrow morning, I'll vacuum and bake the birthday cake.

The menu is:
Hot dogs & fixings
Baked beans
Macaroni & cheese
Veggie & Relish tray
Pea salad
Chips & dip
Deviled eggs
Oreo Dessert
Cake & Ice Cream

I meant to buy some potato salad, but I didn't have it on the list, so I forgot it. If I have time, I may make some. The pea salad is very easy. I will try to remember to post the recipe. Keely is going to make the deviled eggs when she gets here.

It's very dry, but if the wind is not blowing, we'll have a small bonfire in the evening and roast the hot dogs. We've made a fire ring on the gravel driveway, and we'll have the garden hose handy.

If it is windy, I'll "toast" them in a skillet or maybe boil them.

Isaac is in charge of the entertainment. He set up a net for badminton and/or volleyball. He had to wet the ground with the hose and let the water sink in before he could get the poles in the ground. The net is a little low for volleyball, but that makes it easier. He also has a lawn bowling game he's going to try out.

Many times in past years, Isaac's birthday was slighted a little because early June was when we traveled. When we were at the grandparents, they were happy to celebrate his birthday, of course, but he didn't get to have his friends over. I'm glad we're squeezing in one more birthday party with the group before he totally grows up.


Not too fancy, but I expect it will work.

Birthday cake

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Map of My Readers

Blogs and Blogging...

Map of U.S.

Here's where Prairie Bluestem's U.S. readers came from, over the last two weeks. The darkest colors show the states that more visitors came from, and the lighter colors show the states where fewer visitors came from.

Of all the visitors that passed through here, about 91% were from the Americas. Most of the Americans were from the U.S, but a few were from Canada. Only a handful were from Central or South America.

European readers were second in number (about 5%. ) Those are my Irish, Scottish, British, and Polish readers and others from that continent.

The remaining 4% was divided between Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

This information and map are from Google Analytics, a tool chest that helps website owners better understand and serve their visitors.

Some of the components aren't very applicable to blogging, in my opinion, but other parts (like this map) are interesting.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bothwell Lodge, Near Sedalia, MO

Life In Missouri... History And Old Stuff...

Bothwell Lodge seen from Highway 65 near Sedalia, MO

If you ever travel north from Sedalia, MO, on Highway 65, you'll notice a large stone house on the top of a ridge.

When I lived in central Missouri (most of 1975-1986), people called it "the castle on the hill north of Sedalia." I don't think it was open for visitors then.

Nowadays, it is called Bothwell Lodge. It's an official State Historic Site, managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and open to the public. If you visit at the right time, there are guided tours.

Bothwell Lodge on the north (top) sideFrom the entrance side
Bothwell Lodge on the south (lower) sideFrom the lower side

Seen from the entrance on top of the hill, the house appears to have two levels, but when you look at the house from the other side, you realize that one end has three levels and the tower is four stories high.

Bothwell LodgeLooking down from a balcony Bothwell LodgeLooking inside Bothwell Lodge

According the the MDNR pamphlet about Bothwell Lodge, there are 11 bedrooms and 20 other rooms -- 12,000 square feet in all. We didn't tour the house, but I liked the rustic, Arts-and-Crafts style I saw through a window.

Bothwell LodgeShady gardens on the hilltopBothwell LodgeA view of the valley below

The house has an interesting history. It was built by a prominent Sedalia lawyer, John Homer Bothwell. He was influential locally and also served as a state legislator for 16 years. During his time in office, the city of Sedalia was declared the permanent site of the Missouri State Fair.

Bothwell was married to Miss Hattie E. Jaynes in 1884. She died in 1887, and he never remarried. Instead, he poured his energies into public service, the practice of law, and his home and farm.

Bothwell bought this acreage, 7 miles north of Sedalia, to protect a portion of the wooded ridge from lumbering. He named it Stonyridge Farm. The house was constructed in several stages from 1890 to 1929.

The property also includes several outbuildings, the quarries from which the rock for the house was mined, and nature paths that wander down the hillside.

John Homer Bothwell died in 1929. He willed the property to a group of friends and relatives who owned it until the State of Missouri assumed ownership in 1974. Bothwell Lodge, Hotel Bothwell, and the Missouri State Fair are three of his achievements that can still be seen in the community of Sedalia.

On the wall at Bothwell Lodge, the following typewritten message is posted:

Thursday, August 8th, 1929

The flag is not flying at the "Top of the Hill" because the "Builder of the Lodge" has gone.

He left the doors of the Lodge wide open for his friends to come in.

Every stone that he placed with exacting care stands as a monument, and the wondrous design his personality expresses.

His gracious wish was that others would come to enjoy it as he did.

The murmurings in the trees, the song of the birds, and the glow of the sunset across the fields -- to him:

Life's race well run,
Life's work well done,
Life's crown well won,
Now comes rest.

Jennie Jaynes Lewis
(Sister of Hattie Jaynes Bothwell)

Bothwell Lodge, Sedalia, MO

Related Site:
Photos of Bothwell Lodge by karendenise1960

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Slang Habit Is A Vicious Thing

History And Old Stuff...

I have a new old book. It is an 8th-grade reading textbook from 1931, The Roundup, published by The John C. Winston Co. of Chicago. The following passage is excerpted from an article by Maria Leach, titled "Slang and Slang". Here, Maria tells us what she really thinks.

Is your mind, too, such a single-track mind that everything you see is either "cute or "darling"? Do you say a poem is great, your breakfast was great, or your teacher is great? Do you say the weather is fierce, your lessons are fierce, and your teacher is fierce?

If you talk like this, everybody will know that your mind is a shabby thing. If you have only one or two words to describe the world and all the vastly different things and people in it, your speech will betray not only poverty of vocabulary, but poverty of mind...

Words like fine and fierce, in fact all blanket words which are used to cover a multitute of things, belong to one of the most objectionable types of slang. Such silly remarks as jazz baby, sweet papa, and you know me, Al, are labels of a shallow and second-hand wit. And a too free use of slang prevents the mind from acquiring a command over legitimate English.

The "slang habit" is a vicious thing. Not only does it keep a shallow mind shallow, but almost all slang grows cheap by constant use and eventually belittles the things it aims to enhance.

-Maria Leach

Well, then. Let us avoid silly, repetitive slang so Maria Leach can rest peacefully in her grave. Really, I'm surprised she didn't say that such slang would rot your teeth and stunt your growth!

To give the lady credit, she did write in the first part of the article about picturesque, vigorous slang, which she liked because it enriches the language. Some of her examples of acceptable slang are listed below. I've added definitions for a few that may be unfamiliar.

to cross swords
to parry a thrust
to wrestle with a problem
to be in high feather (in good spirits)
to show the white feather (betray your low breeding by being cowardly or slothful)
to have a yellow streak
to give one's self away
by hook or crook
to show one's hand
to be aboveboard
car-whacker (mechanic)
flivver (old car)
tin Lizzie
step on it
hard-boiled (emotionally callous)

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Big Bluestem Honored

Big bluestem

Life In Missouri... More About Trees and Plants...

Today, big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) was named the official Missouri State Grass.

4th grade teacher Christine Schmidgall and four successive classes of fourth graders in Rolla, MO, were instrumental in the naming. They worked with their state representative, lobbied the legislature, and even testified before a subcommittee. No wonder the governor came to their school to sign the bill into law.

“Big Bluestem has been here for 10,000 years,” said Schmidgall. “One of the neat things about it is that it grows nine to 12 feet above the ground, but its roots go 10 to 15 feet below and nourish the soil as they decay. Really, it’s incredible, and truly native to the state.”

Source: "Blunt Signs Big Bluestem Bill," by Kristen Jump,The Rolla Daily News, June 12, 2007

The Associated Press was less ecstatic about Missouri's new state grass. Perhaps they were trying to be more "fair and balanced" than the hometown newspaper of the teacher and kids who successfully lobbied for big bluestem.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site, big bluestem can be a "weedy and invasive" plant. But the agency also said the grass is good for livestock grazing, erosion control and also can provide a place for nesting by birds and other animals.

Source: "Big bluestem is now state’s official grass", by staff. Associated Press, June 12, 2007

The grassy topic of this post may be unpleasant to readers who are allergic to grass pollen. It's a rough time of the year for hay fever sufferers. I hope the clump of big bluestem at the top of this post doesn't make anyone sneeze or break out in hives.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Fourteen Great Quotations About Home

And What I Think About It...

I chose these quotations because they answer the question, "What is a home?" in a thought-worthy, positive way.

  • Home is where the heart is. ~Pliny the Elder
  • Home is where one starts from. ~T. S. Eliot
  • Where thou art - that - is Home. ~Emily Dickinson
  • Home is the nicest word there is. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Home is where we tie one end of the thread of life. ~Martin Buxbaum


  • Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms. ~William J. Bennett
  • "Home" is any four walls that enclose the right person. ~Helen Rowland
  • Home is not where you live but where they understand you. ~Christian Morgenstern
  • Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart's tears can dry at their own pace. ~Vernon Baker
  • The home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure. It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton


  • Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. ~Charles Dickens

  • The home is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out. [It is]... the single most influential force in our earthly existence. No price tag can adequately reflect its value. No gauge can measure its ultimate influence ... for good or ill. It is at home, among family members that we come to terms with circumstances. It is here life makes up its mind. ~Chuck Swindoll


  • Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule. ~Frederick W. Robertson


Flea market plaque: Home is...Flea market booth that inspired this post

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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.