Monday, March 31, 2008

Deadlines Loom


Some years, I finish my bookkeeping and file our income taxes early, but not this year. I finally forced myself to do some preliminaries to tax-figuring on Sunday. I cleaned out the file cabinet and sorted through the bills and receipts that I've been tossing into a box since last April.

Once I got started, I wondered why I'd been postponing the job. Organizing the papers we really need and getting rid of the rest gave me a nice feeling of virtue. In fact, I stayed up rather late working on it last night.

I felt tired, achy, and hot at work today, but I blamed it on the warm building and my short hours of sleep. When I got home this evening and took my temperature, I learned I had a fever of 101.3°. With Advil, it has dropped about a degree now. Apparently, I'm getting a cold.

I need to complete our (and Isaac's) income tax, finish filling the photo frame that we are giving to Dennis's mother, and help Keely move. Tonight, though, I only have energy for lying on the sofa.


Maybe I can figure out how to use the new Gmail "Custom Time" to help meet my deadlines. (I'm just making a lame joke. Truly, I am disappointed with Google.)

Custom Time gives Gmail users the option of setting back the timestamp of an e-mail -- even as far back as the time that Gmail was invented.

Some of the user comments reek with dishonesty. What happened to "First, do no harm," which is supposed to be Google's motto.

Maybe this is Google's idea of an April Fool joke.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Trail of Tears Park, Hopkinsville, KY

Images from a historic park in Hopkinsville

Trail of Tears park, HopkinsvilleThe flag court at the Trail of Tears Park in Hopkinsville, KY, contains a flag for each state the Trail of Tears passed through.

Trail of Tears park, HopkinsvilleThese statues honor Cherokee leaders Fly Smith and Chief Whitepath who died in camp at Hopkinsville along the Little River. Their graves, along with those of several others who died here, overlook the river from a small hill behind these statues.

Trail of Tears park, HopkinsvilleOn the fence around the graves, visitors have tied little bundles and bags, in the Indian way. I didn't photograph the graves because it seemed disrespectful.

Photos of historic markers in the park:
The Cherokees, A Civilized People
The Trail of Tears
Whitepath and Fly Smith

Related links:
The Official website of Hopkinsville's Cherokee Trail of Tears Commemorative Park
Trail of Tears Commemorative Park, Hopkinsville, KY waymark: A map, a brief description of the park, and a place to record your visit.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Pointy Shoes

Pointy shoes

The pair of beaded, denim shoes above, left, are probably the most pointed shoes I've ever seen in my life. (They certainly wouldn't fit my toes!) Their heels aren't visible, but they were about 2 inches high and also very pointed. These shoes were on the shelves of a Hopkinsville thrift shop, yesterday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Job Hunting

The next big step

Our daughter Keely graduated from college in December, with a double major in Chemistry and Biology and a minor in Math. We're really proud of the words "cum laude" on her diploma, too. She worked hard to earn them. Now she's job-hunting.

Today, I went with Keely, and she applied for a job at a laboratory. The director of the lab brought her into his office to talk about career opportunities there. He seemed happy that she had applied and thanked her for her interest. He told her that he'll probably have a temporary position available within a few weeks and several permanent positions within a few months.

They gave Keely a tour of the facility and invited me to come along as well. In the photo below, Keely's posing with an electron microscope that she greatly admired. A microscope of this sort costs several hundred thousand dollars, and it can photograph a virus with amazing detail.

I hope this works out for Keely. It's exactly the sort of job that she wants.


Your "Hometown Spirit" Needed

Ballfield in Bassett, Nebraska

My hometown, Bassett, Nebraska, is trying to improve their ball fields. Currently, they can't hold games there because of the condition of the fields. Families and volunteers who participate in summer softball spend a great deal of time on the road because every game is out-of-town.

The Bassett Foundation has applied for a $15,000 grant from Hamburger Helper's "Hometown Helper" program to help finance some very basic improvements -- planting grass, installing sprinklers, improving the road to the fields, and constructing dugouts, concession stands, and restrooms,

If you'd like to help Bassett's chance of getting this grant, you can add a comment in support of their application. It's all right to comment, even if you don't live in the area. Hamburger Helper considers the "hometown spirit" of the comments along with the need that is described in the application.

A comment written by Bassett mom, Cindy Kroll, really struck home with me:

HI We could really use your help to fund our baseball field I have 2 youngsters who love to play in the summer and 2 older ones who would play for fun if the field was playable it has sandburrs and rocks and is not a fun field. We would appreciate your help. thank you

It's been a long time since I lived in the Sandhills, but I still remember what it's like to fall down in a sandbur patch. "Not a fun field," is surely an understatement.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sure Sign of Spring

It's daffodil time in Kentucky

Spring beauties glowing in bright sunlight

Floridata's daffodil page says that common names for Narcissus spp. include daffodil, narcissus, jonquil, Lent lily, Easter flower, and butter-cup. In fact, there are so many different sorts of Narcissus that botanists divide them into 13 different categories.

To me, light-colored daffodils (like those in the photo) are "jonquils." I have no scientific reason for giving them that name. It's just my way of distinguishing them from the yellow-blooming ones which I call "daffodils."

Here in Kentucky, many people refer to the little old-time yellow daffodils as "buttercups." In early spring, buttercups pop up and bloom in many places where the houses have been gone for untold years. They're a memorial to gardeners whom we never knew.

Seen at the Water Department

Whole lotta pipes

Stack of PVC pipes

I saw this mountain of PVC water pipes at the Christian County Water District offices and yard in Hopkinsville, KY. With oil prices so high, the cost of PVC has skyrocketed. I'm sure the pipes in the photo represent several thousand dollars.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy to Be Here

Two little stories of life restored

A few days ago at work, I waited on a tall, thin, fellow with salt and pepper hair. As I rang up his purchases, he mentioned that it was his 50th birthday. "Happy birthday!" I said. Then, trying to offer a bit of reassurance, I added, "The 50s have been pretty good for me."

"Oh, I'm happy to be 50," he said earnestly. "When I turned 40, I didn't think I'd ever make it to 50. Then eight years ago, I had a heart transplant, and I'm doing great."

He explained that he tells everyone he can about his heart transplant. He wants to help them see that a donated organ is a gift of life. He feels that every good word he can say helps a sick person who is waiting for an organ. He remembers how it is to wait and he wants to help.

Every day, some of my customers share stories about their lives with me, but I think this man's story is the most dramatic that I've heard.

Recently, I heard another shopper's happy story of restored life. A grandfatherly man confided that he had moved to Hopkinsville to die, several years ago. He was very sick and the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong. Knowing that his end was near, he sold his house in Florida and moved to Hopkinsville to be close to his son.

His Hopkinsville doctor sent him to a specialist in Nashville who diagnosed and treated his condition. Now he's in such good health that he's thinking about moving back to Florida. He thinks this is a good time to find a bargain while the real estate market is in a down cycle.

Like the man with the heart transplant, he's happy to be here!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break

Florida or bust!

1920s beach scene1920s beach scene

A surprising number of swim suits and beach towels have come through my cash register at work recently. Families are traveling to Florida over spring break and they want to be ready to swim. Many are headed for Disney World (just 677 miles from Hopkinsville), and they're also hoping to go to the beach (or at least to the pool at their hotel.)

Christian County schools had several snow days this winter, and the school board recently decided to cut spring break by three days to make up the time. The public is so outraged by the decision that the board has called a special meeting tomorrow night to reconsider. I anticipate that we will revert to the original spring break schedule and make up the snow days some other way.

People are talking about taking their kids on the scheduled vacation, even if school is in session. Some families have made complex plans for the scheduled holiday. Both parents have arranged vacation time from their jobs. Reservations have been made and tickets bought. I can understand their ire.

Ever since we moved here 17 years ago, I've heard people talk about going to Florida for spring break. Some go every year. I wonder when the trip to Florida became such a revered spring-break tradition. Surely, it didn't start until after the interstate highways were built.

This will probably make me sound old. When I was a kid going to a little country school, I don't think we ever had spring break or an Easter vacation. In high school, we may have had Good Friday off from school but I'm sure it wasn't more than that. If my family traveled at all at Easter, it would have been a trip to see my Grandma. Florida sounds a lot more exciting!

Easter Afternoon

My daughter

Isaac, my son, had to work Easter afternoon, and Keely and I went to town to take his car to him. Then we went to WalMart to look for some trim that Keely needs for a Renaissance Faire shirt she's sewing for a friend. I snapped this photo of her while we were trying out the lawn chairs in the garden shop.

Sun across the fields

As we drove back home, the sun was shining with a peculiar intensity across the verdant fields. ("Verdant" was the word suggested by Keely to describe the lush, fresh, growing greenness of the landscape, and I think she chose the perfect adjective.)

Promise vs. Hope

A few words about faith

Easter SundayWorshippers gathered to celebrate the promise of Easter

Easter is a time of some poignance to me because my father passed away at Easter time. His funeral was on the day before Easter, 12 years ago. We didn't know that we would be back in the same little Kansas church for two more family funerals within the next 14 months. Truly, it's a mercy that we don't know what the future holds for us. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34b)

When I went to tell my Mennonite neighbor that we'd been gone a few days because my father had died, she questioned me about his faith. I assured her that he had been a devout Christian for many years. "Then he had the hope of heaven," she said.

Many times, I've remembered that conversation and pondered the difference between having hope and having a promise. Hope is just an emotion, and emotions come and go like the weather. When the thief on the cross beside Jesus professed his faith, Jesus didn't say anything about hope. Rather, he promised, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

I struggled with my Christian faith for many years until I finally understood a great truth. My emotions and feelings have no effect whatsoever on what God has promised to do. I don't need to have a special "glorified" feeling all the time to know that I'm a Christian. I can rely on the promises in God's Word.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rainy Day Photos

Plenty of rain, but no extreme flooding

We got about 2-1/2 inches of rain and some strong winds in the latest round of wild March weather. I hate to think how flooded we would be if we had received 13+ inches of rain, like Cape Girardeau, MO. If there was serious flooding in Hopkinsville or Christian County, I didn't hear about it, and I didn't see any reports about it in the newspaper today.

I took the photographs below yesterday morning. The first one shows a little brook running wildly out of the woods and joining with the ditch beside our lane. At the bottom of the hill, the water spills into the highway ditch and then flows into a creek that eventually ends up in the Little River.

Rain-flooded stream

The photograph below was taken at the junction of Overby Lane and Highway 508 (Butler Road) in eastern Christian County. Ordinarily, this little brook might have a few inches of water, here and there. However, in heavy rain, the little brook is a channel for excess water, directing it to a larger stream that runs nearby. Like the tiny brook above, these waters pour into Little River and eventually into Lake Barkley (the Cumberland River.)

Flooded brook

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ferrell's Hamburgers, Star of the Show

Hamburgers in Hopkinsville, KY

TroyServe, a Hoptown Hall forum member, has posted a time-lapse video of Hopkinsville's famous Ferrell's Hamburgers on YouTube.

TroyServe made the video from Hoptown Hall Webcam images during the recent snowstorm. (The webcam is permanently focused on Ferrell's, a tiny 24-hour hamburger joint that is a treasured icon of Hopkinsville, KY.)

In the video, the snow covers the street, deepens, and then melts. Watch carefully, and you'll see some curious details blip by -- for example, a guy pushing a truck down Main Street and a snow shoveler sitting down on the sidewalk to rest.

Ferrell's was in our local news this week because a grease fire ignited behind its grill. The fire department was called after the cook couldn't put out the fire with a splash of salt. Meanwhile, the Kentucky New Era's (our newspaper's) president Chuck Henderson wielded a fire extinguisher against the flames without success.

The fire department killed the flames in very short order (thus avoiding shame, ridicule. and public condemnation.) The fire occurred at 8:30 a.m., and the restaurant was open for business again by 10:30 a.m.

In other news about Ferrell's, it was recently inspected by the Health Department and received a score of 75/100. The re-inspection score was 89/100.

Critical violations included raw eggs stored by a hot grill, employees washing hands in dishwashing sink and using common towel to dry hands. In addition, an employee failed to wash hands after returning from break. Another major violation was that the same spatula was used to flip cooked and uncooked burgers.

Source: "Restaurant Inspections, "Kentucky New Era, February 26, 2008

Some local residents are unperturbed.

Did anyone really think Ferrell's would get a high grade? Laughing
I don't believe this low rating in the KNE is going to affect their business much. Most of their customers probably don't even read the KNE. Laughing
As long as they are open, Ferrell's will still be slapping them burgers on that hot grill -- with whatever spatula the old lady chooses! Laughing

Source: Comment by bigcountry on the thread, "Restaurant Inspections. " Hoptown Hall Forum, February 27, 2008

The "old lady" is Mrs. Cecil Ferrell who is in her upper 80's. I believe she is 89. She was 86 in June, 2005, when she shared a stage with President Bush. He was in Hopkinsville to promote the privatization of Social Security and Mrs. Ferrell was on a panel of local citizens who participated in the presentation. President Bush commented that Mrs. Ferrell reminded him of his mother.

The banter between Bush and Ferrell quickly turned to hamburgers.

"I'm really hungry. Can you help me out?" Bush asked.

"The only thing is to bring you a hamburger," Ferrell said as the crowd erupted in cheers and laughter.

Source: "Bush Touts Plan" by Jennifer P. Brown, Kentucky New Era, June 3, 2005. (Subscription required.)

Ferrell's Hamburgers opened in 1929. A second Ferrell's is located in Cadiz, KY, and it enjoys a similar affection and loyalty from its patrons.

In case you missed it when I posted it previously, you can download a great Ferrell's Hamburgers wallpaper for your computer's desktop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rowe Sanctuary's Crane Cam 2008

Migratory birds rest at Nebraska's Platte River

Each year, 500,000 (or more) Sandhill cranes spend a few weeks in Nebraska's Platte River Valley as part of their long migratory trip north.

On and along the wide, shallow Platte River, the birds rest and build up fat reserves for the rest of the trip north. They need enough strength to fly, and then to mate and reproduce at their final destination.

The Sandhill cranes, tall gray birds with a 6-foot wingspan, begin arriving in February. Their presence in the Platte River wetlands triggers a migration of birdwatchers to the area that ends only when the last cranes leave in April.

Each morning, the cranes rise up from the river in flocks, and each night, the flocks land on the water together. They spend their days in the fields surrounding the river, feeding on insects and fallen grain and dancing with each other (pre-mating behavior.)

Rowe Sanctuary and the Crane Cam

The Rowe Sanctuary on the Platte River south of Gibbon, Nebraska, provides a 2000-acre safe haven of wetlands and roosting area along the riverside. The Sanctuary offers a number of blinds from which the birds can be observed on the river. Tours for individuals or groups can be arranged. Sometimes the cranes land (or take off) just a few yards from the blinds.

Many of us will never make it to one of the blinds, but we can experience the birds through the National Geographic Crane Cam. The website states that the best viewing hours are 6:30-8:30 AM CST and 7:00-9:00 PM CST. A "Real Player" plugin is needed.

At any time of the day, you can see and hear birds on the river via the webcam. Hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese are in the area along with the cranes.

Note: This article is about the 2008 Crane Cam. See this blog article for information about the 2010 Crane Cam 

Rowe Sanctuary Volunteer

Carolyn Hall of Bassett, Nebraska, (my old hometown) has spent the past week working at the Rowe Sanctuary. She has been taking tour groups to the blinds, running the webcam, tending the guest register, cleaning restrooms, helping in the gift shop, and being useful in just about any way she can. It's been a busy week, but she's enjoyed it. Her daily letters included this account:

I helped with the strawbale blind tonight. We had 24 people and two college students. We got to the blind about 6:40 and gave our speel about the birds and the river, when at 7:20 the first cranes landed on the edge of the river about 1/4 mile downriver. From then to 8:10, it was flock after flock of birds landing. We must have had at leat 10,000 cranes and a few geese within 1/4 mile of us. In the end they were landing right in front of the blind. We managed to get everyone out of the blind and back to the parking lot without spooking the birds. We had a happy group of people!

Source: E-mail from Carolyn Hall, March 15, 2008.

Shikepokes, shypokes, and Sandhill cranes

When I was growing up in the Nebraska Sandhills, we often saw tall birds at our lakes, ponds, and marshes in the spring. We called them "shikepokes."

A few years ago, I read that Sandhill cranes are sometimes called "shypokes" or "preacher birds." Then, I realized that the shikepokes of my memories may have been Sandhills cranes, passing through Nebraska during migration.

However, the name "shikepoke" can also refer to various herons and bitterns. My memory of our shikepokes' appearance is not too clear, so I don't know if they were Sandhills cranes, but they might have been.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday Stories

Palms and processionals

Palm Sunday crosses

Palm Sunday was celebrated this morning across the Christian world. In my church, the little crosses above were given to the worshipers as part of the observance.

Each little cross is made from a folded palm leaflet. We carry them into the sanctuary in a procession that represents Jesus's arrival at Jerusalem. (As you probably remember, the people greeted him carrying palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!")

Woven palm fronds in La Paz

The palm crosses and the procession at our church always bring to mind a couple of Palm Sundays spent far from home, years ago.

In 1981, we were teaching school in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and we were traveling over our Easter vacation. We spent Palm Sunday in La Paz, Bolivia. That morning, in the oldest part of La Paz around la Iglesia de San Francisco (the St. Francis Church), Aymara vendors were selling palm leaves to the churchgoers.

The leaflets of each palm leaf were loosely woven into several square shapes, so each leaf looked like a stem that had sprouted a series of miniature mats. I bought several of those palm leaves, and I still have them. They're not green anymore, of course, but they're still interesting. (UPDATE: I had always imagined the woven palm fronds to be a South American custom, but I learned this morning that even Pope Benedict XVI carried a woven palm frond on Palm Sunday.)

Palm Sunday procession in Germany

I also remember the Palm Sunday of 1988 in West Germany. We were living in a little Bavarian village called Kleinwallstadt am Main. I read in the free German newspaper that everyone who was in the Palm Sunday parade should meet at a certain place.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I decided that little Keely and I should go and watch. The parade turned out to be a procession, led by the priest. A brass ensemble was next, and dozens of worshippers followed. They walked through the streets to the church, accompanied by stirring music.

I think Keely and I were the only observers. Everyone else was participating. I took Keely home, feeling rather lonely and left-out.

By the next Palm Sunday, we had been transferred to Berlin. There, I began taking Keely to an English-speaking Lutheran Sunday School, and to make a long story very short, that is how we came to be Lutherans (LCMS) today. God, in His wisdom and in His time, brought us to a Bible-teaching church that was right for us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

House Guests

I'll be taking the next few days off from blogging, while I prepare for and entertain house guests. Old friends from Berlin, who now live in Oklahoma, are coming to visit us.

We had a nice visit with our guests on Thursday and Friday, and then we made a fast trip to Knoxville, TN, to pick up a car we've bought. This was the view across from an interstate rest stop west of Knoxville. It wasn't raining when I took this photo, but we did drive through some heavy rain and fog around Knoxville.

Tennessee mountains

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thirteen Books in My Bookcase

A "Thursday 13" on a random topic

Here's a look at the nearest bookcase to my computer, third row from the top, left to right. Some links below go to Prairie Bluestem posts, and some links go to other internet sites.

1. Beeton's Book of Household Management, by Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Originally by S.O. Beeton in 24 monthly parts, 1859-1861, London. My copy is a "First Edition Facsimile." Online version of this book.

2. Montgomery Ward & Co. Fall & Winter 1894-1895 Catalogue & Buyers Guide: No. 56. As you might suspect, this is a reprint of the original. Story of Montgomery Ward with some illustrations from the 1895 catalog.

3. War-Time Guide Book for the Home. Prepared by the Editorial Staff of Popular Science Monthly. Copyright 1942. Read my post about this book.

4. Fabrics and Dress by Lucy Rathbone and Elizabeth Tarpley. A 1931 home economics textbook. A few images from the book have been posted online by a blogger who has a children's clothing business, but it's under copyright until 2026.

5. The Poems of Eugene Field, Complete Edition. Online version of this book. Read my post about how I acquired this book and also book #6.

6. The Works of Stevenson Read Robert Louis Stevenson online.

7. The Best Short Stories of 1929 List of the stories included in this book.

8. American Notes by Rudyard Kipling. Read this book online. Read my post about what Rudyard Kipling thought of Omaha, Nebraska.

9. Similes and Figures from Alexander McClaren, published in 1910. McClaren was a well-known Scottish Baptist preacher, sometimes called the "Prince of Expositors." Read an artitle by McClaren titled, "The Boy Jesus" which appeared in the 1906 Pennsylvania School Journal.

10. Riley Love-Lyrics, by James Whitcomb Riley Read my posts about William B. Dyer's Life pictures in this book and about growing up with James Whitcomb Riley.

11. Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Read this book online.

12. The Roundup. Book VII in the New Silent Readers Basal Activities Series, published in 1937. An essay about slang that I posted from this book.

13. America Our Country, a 1934 history book published by the John C. Winston Company. Under copyright until 2029, so I don't usually look in it for blogging material.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Driving Mennonites To Town

Afternoon with a young Mennonite man

One rainy day a few weeks ago, I drove a young Mennonite fellow to town. James told me all about himself as we traveled along. He has just turned 20 years old. In his family, he's the oldest child of nine.

James grew up in Pennsylvania, but he's come out to Kentucky to work. He likes Kentucky and he's planning to stay here. For now, he's boarding with our neighbors.

James has been working for a Mennonite carpenter who does a lot of construction around here. They've been able to work most of the winter, except the days when it was too wet on the job site. James commented on the difficulty of working in heavy mud with his feet wet all day. Then he quickly added that he was thankful he had a job and he didn't mean to complain.

Our first stop was the Social Security office where James needed to straighten out something. Old Order Mennonites don't pay into Social Security or accept any benefits from it. However, they still must have Social Security numbers for income tax and other obligations.

Next we went to WalMart. James said it wouldn't take him long, so I hurried around the store and got a few things I needed. Then I went to the car to wait.

An hour later, James came back out, overwhelmed with WalMart's size and range. However, he had managed to find the things he needed. He had even taken a look at the work boots in the shoe department and decided he wasn't impressed.

I suggested another store that carries work boots, but my passenger was ready to head back to the country. We drove home with less talking than when we came, and after agreeing on the price of the drive to town, James thanked me and bid me good-by. He stepped back into his world, and I returned to mine.

I came home wondering about my glimpse into the life of a young man in the Mennonite community, and I suspect James also marvelled about his afternoon with the English.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hillcrest Baptist at Sunday Sunset

A Hopkinsville church

Hillcrest Baptist Church, Hopkinsville, KYHillcrest Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, KY

The steeple on Hillcrest Baptist Church was looking very pearly when I drove by it this evening. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Hillcrest is located at the intersection of Highway 41 and Skyline Drive, near the Trail of Tears park, in Hopkinsville, KY. The church has grown rapidly over the time we've lived here. The parking lot was packed with cars tonight.

Hillcrest Baptist recently purchased the Colonial Bakery building just west of their parking lot. They now have a three-building complex: the new sanctuary, the old sanctuary which is now a Sunday School building, and the large Colonial Bakery building.

When they built this new sanctuary about six or seven years ago, they waited several months before they put on the steeple. It was rumored that the architect, David Jones, had failed to clear the building's design with the airport. (The airport is over a quarter-mile away, on the opposite side of Little River and the Pennyrile Parkway.)

According to the rumor, the church wouldn't be allowed to have a steeple because it would be in the path of incoming and outgoing aircraft. Of course, that was all nonsense. The steeple was added in due time, and now it's hard to imagine the church without it.

I've been in the new sanctuary a few times for concerts. It's a very nice facility. I'm not a Baptist, but I wish the church well. I hope they will faithfully preach the Gospel there, and I hope for God's continued blessing upon their ministry.

Just One Deer, Tonight

Deer along a country fence

Click on this photo to enlarge it, and you'll see a deer standing by the fence, looking at me. I wish I had a better zoom on my camera, but he's clearly visible. This is the same fenceline where I photographed four deer at sunset a few weeks ago.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Snow Adventures

Snow report from rural Christian County, KY

Daffodils in snowSnow on the daffodils

When I went to work yesterday morning, I drove the first six miles very carefully. Overnight, a couple inches of slippery slush had accumulated on the rural blacktops. However, Highway 68/80, the main east-west route through Christian County, was mostly clear, due to salt and heavy traffic.

A second wave of heavy snowfall was supposed to start at noon, but it didn't materialize. We wondered if the forecast was completely wrong, but it started snowing heavily about the time I got off work. The roads were getting bad, so I decided I'd wait for Isaac to get off work too, so we could "caravan" home together.

Driving home in the snow

When we headed home at 9 p.m., a few car tracks down the center of the highway gave us a path through the white landscape. When we turned off the main highway, there were more snowdrifts to break and no car tracks to follow. Where the wind swept across open fields, we drove blindly through the fog of flying snowflakes.

This was a bad winter storm for Kentucky. Driving in a snowstorm like that was a new experience for Isaac, but I had deja vu. I've driven through similar snowstorms many times -- but not recently.

Getting to work today

At 8:30 this morning, Dennis walked down to the mailbox to check out the situation. He reported that my car wouldn't make it through the large drifts across our lane. The blacktop road hadn't been plowed and hadn't had any traffic. Today I was one of those people who call their job and claim that the roads are too bad to get to work.

Stuck in the snowIsaac parked in his usual place close to the house last night. When he tried to get his car out of the driveway this morning, he got stuck in a snowdrift along the north side of the house.

I parked at the head of the driveway last night, not by the house, so after a telephone repair truck broke a trail from the highway to the telephone post at our house and back again, I made it down the hill and took Isaac to work. I have to pick him up again this evening. His car is still stuck!

The snow is melting quickly because the ground is not frozen. There's mud under the snow, and when the snow is gone, we'll have a very muddy situation indeed. That includes the lawn that we chewed up today, trying to drive Isaac's car through the long snowdrift that we usually refer to as "our driveway."

Snowfall reports by trained weather spotters in Christian County vary from 4.5 inches to 7.5 inches. Unofficially, I can report that this is the most snow we've had for several years.

Related post: Wild March Weather


Little River, Christian County, KY

Fun on the Web

Amusements for a snowy Saturday...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wild March Weather

A week of dramatic precipitation

Flooded wheatfieldA flooded wheatfield, east of Hopkinsville, KY

Just a couple of days ago, Christian County got a big rain -- four to five inches or more, depending on the location. The rain fell fast and hard, and some streets and roads were impassable because of high water.

The newspaper had a couple of stories about foolish people who attempted to drive through high water. One woman drove down a water-covered road and attempted to cross the river on a flooded bridge. Her car stalled out, and she had to get on the roof and wait for rescue.

Another guy drove around "Road closed" signs and barriers. As he tried to navigate the flooded street, his car was carried away by the current. Fortunately for him, the car stuck in some trees in several feet of water, and he didn't go into the river. He also sat on his car roof until he was rescued. (Source: Kentucky New Era, subscription required.)

Tonight, we're wondering how much snow we will get. A winter storm warning is in effect until noon on Saturday. The forecast calls for a little rain, some snow, some rain mixed with snow, and then more snow -- all in all, four to seven inches of snow, accompanied by wind. If it snows and blows as predicted, our lane and blacktop roads will have snowdrifts across them.

The Christian County School District has already announced that school is cancelled for tomorrow. I have to work tomorrow, but if it is snowing heavily, I intend to leave before sundown. I don't want to bust snowdrifts in the dark.

Isaac is supposed to work until 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night. I'm not sure how that's going to work out, but he won't be busting snowdrifts in the dark either. If necessary, I'll call the store myself and tell them he needs to get home.

I'm imagining the worst -- blizzard conditions, impassable roads, and unreasonable supervisors. It probably won't be nearly that bad. On the other hand, I hope all of us will be prudent citizens who don't need rescue.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Who's Wearing Maternity Shirts?

Baby-doll tops don't appeal to this baby boomer.

One morning when I was in third grade, my brother told me that we didn't have to go to school for the next two weeks. "The teacher had her baby," he announced.

"Baby?" I wondered. "What are you talking about?"

My brother was amazed at my stupidity. "Didn't you know she was expecting? Why did you think she was wearing big shirts?"

"Nobody told me," I protested. And that was the day that I learned. If a lady wore big shirts, it could mean she was pregnant.

What do pregnant ladies wear, 50 years later? Well, some don't hide under baggy shirts. Their garb makes it clear that they are quite pregnant. Even little third-grade country girls could probably figure it out.

Traditional maternity styles are still available for those who prefer them, as well as tailored styles for business women, and much more. Fashion-wise, it's a great time to be pregnant.

And what do fashion designers offer for us ladies who aren't pregnant? Take a look at the style of this shirt and this one. No, they're not maternity shirts. They're "baby-dolls" (not to be confused with baby-doll maternity wear, of course.)

Baby-dolls are probably very comfortable, but you won't find me wearing one. I don't care if they are fashionable, retro, hippy, or what-have-you. I wore enough shirts like that when I really was pregnant.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Grew Up in Radio Land

A childhood without TV

TV reception was poor, out in the Nebraska Sandhills where I grew up.The picture was snowy and the sound faded in and out. My parents decided not to waste their time and money on it.

RadioAlong with the mail, radio was our connection to the rest of the world. My parents listened to the radio news, farm market reports and weather report every morning, noon, and night.

My mother also had an informal agenda of radio shows on various stations that she enjoyed when she was working in the house.

One of Mama's morning shows was Ward Childerson on the Christian station, KJLT, of North Platte, Nebraska. He read letters from readers and played the recordings that they requested. One reason my mother especially liked his show was that a girl from our church (Carol Gurney) had married his brother.

Mama also liked Wynn Speece, the "Neighbor Lady" on WNAX radio (Yankton, South Dakota.) The Neighbor Lady talked about her family and home and things that pertained to housewives. Sometimes she had a guest in for a chat. During each broadcast, she read a recipe, very slowly, repeating each ingredient and instruction several times, so the listeners could write it down.

KRVN of Lexington, Nebraska, had the Back to the Bible Broadcast every morning at 9:00 a.m., and my mother listened if she possibly could. Back to the Bible was headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. It had a wonderful studio choir, and it featured the conservative Christian preacher, Theodore Epp.

On Saturday mornings, Back to the Bible was aimed at youth and children. One of its attractions was the Danny Orlis serial story, read by Ord Morrow. Danny Orlis and his friends were the Christian literature equivalents of the Hardy Boys, always stumbling onto a criminal plot or getting into a scrape of some sort.

We also listened to Art Linkletter on Saturday mornings. In the last segment of the show, Art Linkletter always talked to a few children and tried to get them to say something funny -- a forerunner of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" on TV. And on Saturday night, there was "Bohemian Band Time" on WNAX -- a half hour of accordion-dominated music.

After supper, we did dishes with Herbert W. Armstrong's "Plain Truth about Today's World News and the Prophecies of the World Tomorrow." My mom didn't agree with him, but she liked to listen to him. He gave her plenty of reasons to study the Bible.

When we could pick up KOA from Denver, we liked to listen to the children's story that was broadcast every night. There was one story about "ooo-black" that I never did get to hear all the way through. That story was always divided over two nights, and somehow we always missed the second night. When I started reading Dr. Seuss stories to my children twenty-five years later, I finally found out how the story (Bartholemew and the Oobleck) ended.

A relay tower for educational TV was built in Rock County about 1970, and they also boosted the signal of a commercial channel. We got a television set then, but I had already graduated from high school and gone to college.

To be honest, I was embarrassed about my home's lack of television when I was a teenager. When the conversation turned to television shows, I had no idea what everyone was talking about.

When I was a college student and I could watch TV cartoons every Saturday morning in the dormitory, I was disappointed in them. They weren't as funny and fascinating as I had imagined. That remains the case. A great deal of television's programming bores me, but I can nearly always find something interesting to listen to, on the radio.

Now I'm in my mid-50s, and I've decided that it's cool that I grew up with radio instead of TV. Most people my age don't remember Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Godfrey and Amos and Andy on the radio -- but I do.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Almost Spring

Daffodil days are at hand.

Daffodils almost blooming

Today has been such a lovely, warm sample of spring. Some of my daffodils ("buttercups", as they say in Kentucky) near the house are starting to bloom.

It doesn't sound like tomorrow or Tuesday will be good days for taking pictures of spring flowers. Tomorrow (Monday), we're supposed to get heavy rain. Tomorrow night there's supposed to be more heavy rain, and then we have an 80% chance for rain and/or sleet and/or snow on Tuesday. A flood watch is in effect tomorrow and tomorrow evening.

It may slow the daffodils down for a day or two, but they'll be in glorious bloom by this time next week.

The Savior, More Beautiful than Spring

At church this morning, we sang "Beautiful Savior," a 16th-century German Jesuit hymn that has a nice verse about spring. Here's verse 2 as translated by Joseph A. Seiss (1823-1904.)

Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

If you're not Lutheran, you may know the hymn as re-translated by Seiss, some years later: "Fairest Lord Jesus."

Daffodils in bloom

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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.